Thursday, November 18, 2010
I still shopped for onions and garlic at the grocery store along with the occasional celery - but mostly just took what came.
I am still staring at a mole-hill of under ripe pears willing them to not turn into a mountain. What to do, what to do... Well the Christmas food season is coming - spiced-pear pate-de-fruit to go into a sugar cookie sandwich with a little Nutella? Only time - and taste will tell.
I recently heard the thought that while a good savory-chef is always experimenting in the kitchen, they can usually taste as they go. A pastry-chef on the other hand has to do more on faith, and just wait and see how it comes out on the other end, so they roll more in the 'Mad Scientist' mode.
I wonder which where on the spectrum I'll come up this time.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Hard, because butternut squash for me always reads creamy and sweet - butternut squash risotto with mushrooms and maybe a little bacon/spek/prosciutto/pancetta (you get the idea) is one of MY absolute faves.
So after making some soups - what to do that is squashy, but unexpected....
Fridge search reveals Trader Joe's "Peri Peri Peppadrops,"
and pecorino cheese. (sweet, spicy, salty... on to something...)
|Pine nuts of the new world |
as far as I'm concerned.
And the pantry turns up bread crumbs and.... drum roll please... pumpkin seeds - the "pepita" kind.
Sage is invulnerable, and is out there doing just fine. Leaves please...
but not too many or the whole thing will taste like SOAP!
This should make a nice platter at your next fall party!
1 jar of the Peri-Peri Peppadrops
about 1lb of butternut squash cubes/wedges (pre cooked... see below)
1/2 C of bread crumbs - unseasoned
1/4+ C pepitas
2 oz Pecorino Romano grated fine (this comes out to over a cup on a microplane type)
3 - 6 sage leaves (depends on size) sliced into tiny ribbons and then chopped again (mined fine)
salt to taste
(oil - olive or other mild/neutral tasting)
If your squash is not cooked, preheat the oven to 350.
Toss the squash it with a drizzle of oil & a sprinkle of salt, and bake it in the oven in peeled wedges or cubes no bigger than an inch thick for 20 - 40+ minutes depending on the squash. Shake and turn it after 15 min to get an idea of how it is doing. It is done when fork tender (a fork goes in easily.) AND it has some brown on the edges... you want the squash to get a little bit drier than normal for this one.
Use a melon baller to scoop leftover seeds out of the peppers. Set them up on a tray.
When the squash is cool enough to handle, chop it/smash it into small bits. Food mill, knife, potato masher or food processor all work (FWIW I used my food mill).
In a large bowl combine the bread crumbs, grated cheese and half the minced sage.
Add in the squash, taste for salt & sage. If it needs more, add it now. The flavors should be strong rather than subtle, but not overpowering.
Stuff them into the peppers, and at the last minute push about 3 pepitas into the center of the squash stuffing.
SERVE! (With a nice bitter beer was one taster's suggestion... I bet a tart chianti would be a good bet too. I have to make them again and try...)
P.S. you can add the pepitas into the stuffing mix but they will lose their crunch fairly quickly.
Seattle, while being bacon CRAZY, (among other things the home of "Bacon Jam"), but not a great place to get ham. While not the tip-top, this town couldn't even support a "Honey Baked Ham" store, and I remember as a kid, they weren't bad... just a little flabby for the purist.
Searching for ham in Seattle is now a mission.
It may require a bus ride to Pike Place and/or the CID.
I'll keep you posted.
In the meantime...
The River Cottage Preserves Handbook (by Pam Corbin) is where I got the chutney recipe to deal with about 5 pounds of fruit (apples, pears & plums) that was hanging over my head. Sweet, sour, sticky and gingery with a little kick. I've got to bottle it so it can properly mature.
I'm going to bet it goes great with leftover pot roast.
Monday, October 4, 2010
We only really had 1 day to do it. We could spend Saturday night out, but had to be back on Sunday afternoon. Amazingly - we did it, and did it in fine style.
These cider spots are all pretty new. If you are looking for consistency... look elsewhere. If you are looking to be in on the birth of a vibrant Washington State cider industry, strap on the shoes, choose a designated driver, and take the car for a spin!
The MAP: Check out the cider tour on Google Maps
1. Red Barn Cider (http://redbarncider.com/) - An impressive selection of tastes. And it will be different next pressing. In Mt. Vernon, about 1.5 hrs north of Seattle. It seems a little far, but it is the gateway to the rest. Show up there at 11 (or call and arrange to show up at 10:30, so lunch is more relaxing on Whidbey Is.)
***take the Keystone/Coupville - Port Townsend Ferry (GET A RESERVATION!!! ) *** don't meant to yell, but this is essential. We were on the 1:30 ferry. Just had to get there at 1ish.
2. Wildfire Cider (http://www.wildfirecider.com/) - Pretty close to Port Townsend. The 1st place we went. Be sure to call and see if they are open. They weren't the weekend we went (fooey!). 2 food festivals that weekend, I s'pose I can forgive them. I need to taste their stuff. It can be found at Central Market... and other places. Lesson, call ahead.
3. Eaglemount Cider (http://www.eaglemountwinery.com/) The largest selection... and nice and dry. May I also recommend the Ginger Cider. They are also a respectable winery. But we were just tasting cider.
4.Finn River Farm (http://www.finnriverfarm.com/) Apple cider champagne? Well, if done right, with cider rather than dessert (eating out of hand apples) YES! it can be done.... and done well. Surprisingly well. This was a great last stop. Their Perry (pear dessert cider) was my favorite. And it was practically back to back with the place we spent the night.
Nap Time and where we spent the night...
5. Solstice Farm (http://www.solsticefarmstay.com/) A comfortable, homey clean place with a wonderful atrium, and a crazy good breakfast. Engage in conversation knowing it will be an extended engagement if you want it.
6. Dinner in Port Hadlock/Irondale area. We went to Halibut and the Scampi's, but if you want to really Do-it-up-Right, check out the Ajax Cafe. http://www.ajaxcafe.com/funstuff.htm
Pick a designated driver (the one who has to spit), and go for it!
7. Take the Kingston - to - Edmonds ferry back. If you get on before Noon. Then you are home free. And you will wonder why you don't go to the Olympic Peninsula more often. It is SO close!
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
If I'd known it was coming I would have arranged a party. Instead we got to sit down to dinner at least 15 minutes sooner than I had thought, and got to enjoy a nice leisurely dinner.
Sure, now, it doesn't sound like much. But I have spent the last 7 years or so cooking around and with my son. Up until now, involving him has always made things take longer. He has either needed my help all the way through a process, or needed help completing each step, and guidance on to the next.
The colander was in the sink before I needed it, the Parmesan cheese made it on to the table with out me having to do it, he poured his own milk, and the lettuce was washed and torn into the salad for me.
I have high but realistic hopes. This won't be a regular feature. That would make it a job, not an adventure. But when I need him, he can pitch in, and make the impossible more likely. And when it is his turn to venture out into the big bad world, he'll already have some practice in the care and feeding of himself.
Good One Kiddo.
Friday, September 10, 2010
One of the most surprising best things I ever had was an onion bhaji where the onion had been smoked 1st. The tamarind based dipping sauce with lots of cumin was the perfect compliment.
(Onion Bhaji is for lack of a better description Indian Tempura. This is often made with a besan (chick pea) flour batter, along with a few spices in the batter, so works for all sorts of "can't haves.")
Anyway - I always see it as a personal challenge - and start working my way around the globe. Whatever you can't eat... there is a cuisine that never had it in the first place. Just strap on you shoes and start walking.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
2 C cooked quinoa
2 handfuls arugula or other bitter/spicy green - rinsed & torn
1 large handful cherry type tomatoes
1 small cucumber
1/4 C chopped onion (any kind)
2 cloves garlic
Tasty vinegar (sherry, rice, champagne etc... just not white and not too harsh)
a few slices bread (tortillas work too)
1/4 broth or water
Oil for cooking (I suggest bacon drippings - or use a little sesame oil with regular cooking oil)
Parmesan or other hard grating cheese
Sauce pan w/lid
Garlic press (optional)
Medium bowl + utensils for tossing/serving the salad
Brown the onion in the oil over high heat, then add the greens to wilt.
Turn down the heat to medium, crush the garlic into the greens and stir to combine.
Add in the quinoa. If it is too dry, add about 1/4C broth or water, and cover over low/very low heat.
Slice the tomatoes in half (this is where they got scooped out with the melon baller).
Slice the cucumbers into bite sized pieces (more or less) sprinkle them with 1/2 tsp of salt, and 1 tsp of vinegar. Taste and adjust. Set aside.
Check the quinoa, and if the liquid has been absorbed, turn off the heat, and stir in the tomatoes.
Taste and check for flavor. Add pepper and vinegar to taste. Grate in some parmesan and taste again before adding any salt. That may do the trick. (It did for us between the salt in the bacon and the broth).
Fry the bread/tortillas in a little more oil (or just toast them).
Serve the salad with the cumbers on the side or mixed in.
Grate on some more parmesan, and use the bread to help you eat it all.
...and no zuchinni, and YES tomatoes!
Sure yellow tomatoes, and peaches and plums and lettuce and....
Anyway, when it was time to make dinner, this was inspiring, but not dinner.
A quick peek in the fridge revealed a hodgepodge:
Pre-cooked quinoa I had vacu-bagged and frozen (and thawed),
left over onion,
and some left over hot-dog buns (bakery kind),
along with the arugula, cucumbers and tomatoes from the bag
- and throw in some garlic.
So far so good - except my son doesn't like the "smoosh"
of the seedy part of the tomato. This melon baller to the rescue.
(Before I had a kid... suck it up kiddo. Now that I'm doing the mom thing, if it'll get you to eat something I really like, I'll meet you half way.)
So instead of just throwing in the little yellow tomatoes whole, I sliced 'em in half, and scooped out the "smoosh." It helped that the boy helped.
(Trivia alert: At one point chef's were trying to pass off this stuff as "tomato caviar" And yet the French have a specific process for removing this as an undesirable part - along with the skin - concasse. Huh)
Back to dinner:
Saute the onion in a bit of the bacon drippings. Brown edges on the onions says I'm ready for...
About half of that arugula torn up and thrown in the pan, wilt it.
|Shrapnel from the smashed bag of frozen broth. |
The boy likes to bang them on the counter.
Turn down the heat and pour in the quinoa.
It was pretty dry, so I broke up a ziploc bag of frozen broth and tossed in a few pieces of broth-ice-shrapnel.
Cover with a lid, and let the liquid soak into the grains.
|Now all it needs is a fork!|
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Wouldn't it be nice if you could prep some, cover it up and throw it in the fridge and deal with it later? Especially if doing so meant it would be really tasty?
Yup found one of those:
Grilled Sesame-Soy Zucchini
1 medium zucchini - regular or ball
2 Tbs soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
metal spoon (optional)
tightly closing container you can leave in the fridge for several days
grill, grill pan or rack you can place over a drip pan in the oven (eventually)
When faced with that last zucchini that you know you have to do something with, but are all out of ideas... rinse it off and trim off the ends. If it is a ball, cut it in quarters and scoop out the bitter seedy flesh inside. If a regular long zucchini, cut it in half, and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds.
Either way, you want to be left with the dense flesh beneath the seeds. Cut your zucchini (both sorts) into crescent moon shapes no wider than your pinky. Place them in a tupperware or zip-top bag or other water-tight container.
Pour in the soy sauce and sesame oil in with the zucchini, and shake it to combine. Place it in the refrigerator, turning it when you remember over the next 2 - 5 days.
When you are in need of a vegetable for a meal, take out this zucchini. Remove it from the marinade. It will have left a fair bit of liquid behind, and be a little wilted looking. This is all to the good.
Cook it by either grilling it, cooking it over a stove top on a grill pan or suate'ing it. In any case you want nice brown cooking marks to show up on it.
Alternately you can put it on a rack over a pan at 425˚F for about 15 minutes until the edges get a little brown and crispy.
What ever you do, I hope you, like I was, are pleasantly surprised at the unexpected deliciousness of zucchini relegated to the back of the fridge for several days.
Friday, August 27, 2010
"See, Beets Aren't So Scary After All."
|Roasted chioggia beets are an approachable pink,|
not a scary red.
The cornbread is just a bonus
This one has beets, beet greens, pistachio nuts, goat cheese, and plenty of vinegar.
But the wonderful thing about this beet salad is it can take several substitutions.
4 small to medium beets (nothing larger than your fist)
4 1/2 inch slices of goat cheese
small handful of roasted nuts - pine nuts, pistachios and pecans are all good choices
1 overflowing handful of a dark green - nothing too tough (beet greens, chard, tender kale, arugula etc.)
1/2 tsp oil + 1 tsp oil/bacon drippings
salt & pepper (if you have truffle salt, break it out here!)
cider or wine vinegar - to taste
pan for roasting beets & foil to cover... or just wrap beets in foil
utensils for mixing and eating the salad
Saute/fry pan & spatula
Cut off the beet tops, and the roots, and give them a good rinse. Rub the beets with the 1/2 tsp of oil to speed up cooking.
Roast the beets in the oven at 425˚F for about 1 hour (this can even be done a few days ahead) until they are fork tender (a fork easily pierces them).
Let the beets cool all the way down.
Use your fingers or a towel to rub off the tough outer skin.
Cut the beets into thumb size pieces, place in your bowl.
grind on some pepper, and add a pinch of salt. Toss with at least a Tbs of vinegar, and set aside while you get on with the rest of the prep.
Rinse your greens, chop or tear roughly if they are large leaves. Heat a saute pan with the 1 tsp of bacon drippings or oil over medium high heat. Saute your greens until they are tender, and have wilted down to a tiny huddled mass.
Toss in the nuts and heat them through as well.
Keep an eye on things. Toasty nuts are good. Burnt nuts are yucky.
Slice the goat cheese, and crumble into pieces.
Toss together the beets, nuts and greens.
Taste. Add salt, pepper and vinegar as needed.
Taste with a piece of the goat cheese to see if there is enough tanginess.
Serve the salad over the crumbled goat cheese.
And rightly so, the Celts used to carve them, place a candle inside and put them out for Samhain ("sow-when" or prehistoric Halloween). And if you are wondering how they got a candle into those fist sized things, you haven't seen how big a beet can get. If left all summer and fall in the ground, they can get, literally, as big as your head.
And a big purple-red head sized thing, carved and glowing with a candle inside. THAT would be terrifying.
But beets can also be tasty.
One of the strangest things about beets is their strange vegetable sweetness combined with their soft cooked-carrot texture, and their ability to turn the whole world pink.
I won't lie, I even shy away from the vibrant red beets much of the time (though they do make a good crayon), and lean toward the golden beet, or the candy-striped chioggia.
This salad is about moving away from the scary, unfamiliar bits of beets, and making them worth a second look.
2 -3 "baby" beets (very small)
a large handful of baby lettuce leaves (to stay with a theme) - or anything tender
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs mild vinegar (rice, champagne, something that doesn't curl your nose hairs right off when you smell it)
1 tsp mustard
1 clove garlic smashed to smithereens
salt & pepper
(mandolin or V-slicer - helpful but not essential)
whisk or tightly closing small container
utensils for serving and eating the salad
Make the dressing - in your salad bowl combine the vinegar, mustard and a little salt & pepper. Whisk in the garlic, and then slowly pour in the oil as you whisk... or place all of the above in a little container, clap on the lid and shake like crazy.
Give the beets a rinse and a bit of a scrub.
Chop off the leaves and the roots (the scraggley hairy bit at the bottom).
Use your carrot peeler to peel off the skin.
Then use a mandolin, V-slicer, or your carrot peeler to make "wafer-thin" slices of your beet.
Put these in the salad bowl with your dressing.
Wash the lettuce greens, tear up if they are big, or leave whole if they really are baby.
Toss it all together.
The chioggia beets are especially striking looking - all stripey and cool!
Thursday, August 26, 2010
|Even the modern girl can Can.|
So, I've been trying to find time to make applesauce again. If you've never had good, homemade applesauce, you most likely won't find this exciting, but good applesauce is like fresh ground, fresh brewed coffee vs. Sanka (that weird freeze dried, de-caf coffee-ish stuff). A whole different animal, and totally worth the trouble.
When we moved into our current house, the dwarf apple tree produces a BUMPER crop of apples, and about 1/2 way into the apples growth, my son and his friend (both about 3 1/2 and the time) pick about half of the apples. They were still somewhat green but tasty, and I hated to see them all go to waste. So I made applesauce for the first time. Pretty easy, except for the straining.
Did that through a sieve.
What a pain.
|Everything old is New Again... Why did we give this up?|
This is better than a bendy straw!
This year, I have a food mill for the first time.
And so, when I finally went to the fruit stand to get a box of apples, I was relieved to see that Gravensteins were still there. I was worried I had missed them.
I almost had.
|Ugly Apples get a Bath|
Looks don't matter for apples sauce (or chutney for that matter). So I got three (3) boxes. (see also; 3x15 = 45 = ARE YOU NUTS!)
I made a small kiddy-pool's worth of apple sauce. It is good. Very, very good. Especially the cinnamon spiced. I made so much I had to break out the canning equipment.
If I had just gotten apples when they were first coming off the tree, I would have gotten 1 box, and that would have been the end of it.
And I wouldn't have gotten into this fix.
Ah well, we have apple sauce for a big chunk of the school year, and I don't have to think to hard about how to round out my son's lunch.
And it is so good, it deserves to be eaten with ice cream.
How does one do this?
I'll give you the starter size recipe. Once you taste the results and get the hang of it, you can decide if you want to make the plunge (in my case literally) into large batch applesauce. Because I love my new toy so much, I will give the food mill instructions. NOTE: If you only have a sieve and a spatula, you MUST peel and core your apples. And where I say, pour it into the food mill and turn the crank, you just need to use a spatula to press it though the sieve.
8 new summer apples (what ever size you have) (you can us.e ANY apple... but the best sauce comes from new crop apples, sweet, flavorful, fruity.)
about 1 C water
1/2 tsp salt
(for spiced applesauce - 2 Tbs cinnamon, 4 cloves, 4 allspice berries, & maybe more cinnamon)
1 BIG pot (about 8 quarts - a spaghetti pot)
non-conductive spoon (wood or plastic, not metal)
food mill (or sieve... see note above)
zip-top bags or tupperware you are willing to freeze
Cut the apples into quarters (if you have a food mill, throw in everything. The extra pectin from the skins etc., will make for a richer sauce. Just try it. Trust me this once.) and throw everything into the big pot.
(For spiced applesauce, also add the whole cloves and allspice berries)
Pour in the 1 C water, and place over high heat for 10 minutes.
Turn down the heat to med low, and stir the apple occasionally for about 20 more minutes or until the apple flesh turns mushy (feel free to squash the apple pieces with the back of the spoon).
Pour the apple mush into a food mill placed over a large bowl, and turn the crank to separate the yummy from the yucky.
Discard the yucky bits, and stir in the 2 Tbs of cinnamon. Taste. Adjust.
Add more cinnamon if you want (red hots are always a fun way of doing this, they give the sauce a fun pinky-red color).
If the sauce seems too thin, return it to the original pot (rinsed out) and cook at a high simmer/low boil to steam off excess water and thicken up the sauce.
As soon as it is delectable, ladle into zip-top bags or tupperware, and cool & freeze for future consumption.
Since this is high in sugar & acid, it will keep well frozen for at least a year.
If you a a canner, this is prime canning material. Unlike jelly, this is not rocket science. Just get it hot, and process it.
P.S. I highly recommend Snoqualmie Honey Cinnamon Ice Cream as a pairing.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
And I mean children asking for seconds.
(we had this with grilled chicken - the optional chicken recipe will follow)
1 small summer cabbage,
1 medium summer squash,
1 small sweet onion.
[This means 1 small cabbage (baseball sized or 1/2 of a big one), 1 medium sized summer squash, (or several small ones to make up the space of 2 cupped hands), and 1 small sweet onion (or half of a big one].
First make a hearty dressing:
1 Tbs grainy mustard
Optional: (1 small handful of tender herbs - parsley, basil, oregano, chives...)
1 garlic cloves smashed/minces
a large pinch of salt & a small one of pepper (to taste)
4 Tbs pale, but not white vinegar (apple cider, rice, white wine, champagne, any of the above)
Shake or stir these together.
Add about 1/4 C ... or a little more olive oil (either add it slowly and whisk it in, or put it all in a jar/tightly closing tupperware and just shake it hard!)
Pour about half of this in a medium sized bowl/tupperware
Slice the sweet onion thin slices, and toss them in the dressing... set this container to the side.
Slice a summer squash into about 1/4 inch slices (thinner than your pinky). Long way, short way, diagonal.... which ever way you like to slice your squash.
Toss the slice with 1/2 tsp of oil and 1/2 tsp of salt, and set aside while you fire up the grill... or a grill pan if it is chilly tonight.
While the grill is heating, see to the cabbage. We got purple in the CSA bag... and it makes the summer squash (yellow &/or green) look good.
Peel off the thick outside leaves.
Chop it in half, and make a "V" shaped cut in each half to cut out the core of each
Place each half on the cutting board, flat side down, and make thin slices.
Toss with the rest of the dressing.
Now that the grill is hot, start to grill the oiled squash - get grill marks before flipping. When both sides of the squash have grill marks, toss it into the bowl/container with the first half of the dressing & the sweet onion.
Now you have all the pieces. Throw all together, toss well, and eat with garlic toast!
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
So to make plain to those of you with a life and a job, and less love for poking around the kitchen, grocery store, asian food centers, farmers market & garden... Here are the high points:
Get your hands on:
*green curry paste (1-2 Tbs)
*some broth (chix or veg - your choice) (about 1 C)
*cocoanut milk (12 - 14 oz can - cans vary, an ounce or 2 won't sink the ship)
*ginger (something about the size of 2 of your thumbs) grated or minced small [can add in chunks, just fish it out]
*something salty (soy sauce, salt, or fish sauce) - to taste
*onion (shallots or classic onions, sweet onions don't fly here) 1 large shallot or half a small onion
* zucchini or other summer squash (yellow, patty pan, bi-color, ball, ANY sort) Use about the volume your forearm takes up. If you have more, make more curry soup.
*Slice the zucchini/summer squash either into half-moons about 1/2 the width of a pinky finger, or if you are feeling ambitious - or have a mandolin/V-slicer into "noodles." If the zucchini is very large, scoop out the foamy pith. [I learned the hard way, this just makes things bitter and odd textured].
*something sour - lemons, limes, tamarind, or in a pinch vinegar. 2 lemons or limes. If you know tamarind, just go by taste.
* a little vegetable oil
*Rice - ready to spoon curry over - you choose what and how (for those in a hurry - instant microwave rice is not to be sneezed at) or noodles.
Heat about 1 tsp oil + any of the very thick cocoanut milk at the top of the can in a med - large sauce pan over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes.
Add sliced onion or scallion. Stir to sizzle and soften, but before you get more than a few brown edges.
Add 1 - 2 Tbs curry paste.
Stir that in into soften and cook down a bit.
Add the rest of the cocoanut milk.
Stir in ginger and the salt.
Taste for, well, tastiness. If it seems too creamy, start to add the broth. It may need more than the 1 Cup.
If too flat, add the salt (salty stuff) carefully.
If it is not sour enough add a little vinegar (rice vinegar if you have it). This should make it almost sour enough but not quite (a hard thing to pin down, but a goal worthy of seeking).
Add the the sliced zucchini/summer squash. Simmer for a moment to warm though, and cook to tender, but still a bit crunchy. A taste worth finding for yourself. stand over the stove a fuss with it for 10 minutes or so. You'll get the hang of it.
When the zucchini is suddenly really tasty, take the curry off the stove, and add lemon or lime or tamarind or vinegar to make it "just right sour."
Serve over rice. Garnish with cilantro or basil or parsley or cucumber.... Farm Bags are that way!
PS I bet this is good with corn!
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Monday, August 2, 2010
1 Bartlett pear, thinly sliced
1 red plum, seeded and quartered
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, slivered
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup rice wine vinegar
1 sprig fresh mint
Place the pear, plum, lemon, and fresh ginger in a bowl. In a non-reactive saucepan, combine the water, sugar, and rice wine vinegar.
Bring the liquid to a simmer and cook until sugar dissolves.
Place the fruit mixture into a spring-top glass jar and add the sprig of mint to the fruit. Slowly pour the hot pickling liquid over the fruit,
filling the jar to the top.
Cool the pickles, then refrigerate for 2 days up to 1 week before serving.