Monday, July 30, 2012

Freezer Jam - Strawberry 1st, every other flavor later

And then as the season goes on - more fruits can get the same treatment. (see below*)

Strawberries get a bath
That's right - those barely here, and then they are GONE strawberries blew through town.  And I got one day to make things with them before the disappeared until next year.  I gave up a day of sailing for this.

Little jars of jam to be given out to people who need some love.

So how does this happen?

Step 1:  Clear the decks.  This can be done thoughtfully, with careful planning ahead, or ruthlessly by ignoring everything and everyone for the 1 (half†) day this process takes.

†half is a word up for dispute in this case.

Step 2: Get your hands on a flat of strawberries - the kind you buy in the morning and that looks forlorn by the evening and starts to grow fuzz if you do not refrigerate them overnight.  Get 2 flats if you are crazy, or working with a friend.

Step 3:  Get granulated sugar (all pretend sugar, "cane juice crystals" and the like contain an incorrect balance of water, or the wrong chemicals entirely - go with the tried and true this time) , plenty of Ball's Instant Pectin and more canning jars than you think you will need, especially if are getting dainty ones to share.  Run them, the rims and the lids through the dishwasher on the hot/sanitize cycle and leave them in there until you are ready to use them.  (Or boil them all for 5 minutes in a big pot and leave them on the stove at just warm - but submerged.)

Step 4: Wash out the sink and dig up a drinking straw and a pairing knife.  Clean out some big bowls or tupperwares, and be ready to use them all.

OK - dump one layer of strawberries in the sink and let them swim.  Swish them around so they get nice and clean with out getting bruised.  
Pull out any strawberries with any obvious bruising, trim them and start your bin of cleaned strawberries.  Move on to the non-bruised strawberries.
Take them out one by one, and push the drinking straw through the pointy end of each strawberry up towards the leafy cap, and pop out the tough core.

Each of your strawberries will have a neat little hole in them, and the cap will be removed.

Take a layer of strawberries in a medium sized container, and smash them with a fork (or a potato masher).

Dump the smashed, juicy strawberries into a large bowl.  Work through the berries in the sink, and any subsequent batches until you have this very juicy, rough berry "soup."

Measure out sugar and pectin for 1 batch of Jam (recipe is on the side of the instant pectin - or see below*), and stir them together. 

Add the right amount of strawberry"soup."  Stir together and ladle into the warm, clean jars.  Screw on the lids, let 'em cool a bit and stick them in the freezer, but leave some in the fridge to eat tonight, tomorrow, and soon.

This works with yogurt, ice-cream, toast, and works remarkably well as the strawberries for a fall (winter, Valentine's Day?) strawberry shortcake.

*Super Fast Strawberry Freezer Jam
(courtesy of Ball's Instant Pectin)  For 2C of Jam

1 2/3 C smashed strawberries (substitute raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, marionberries, cherries)**
2/3 C sugar
2 Tbs Instant Pectin

Stir together the sugar and pectin
Add the fruit and stir for about 3 minutes
Ladle the jam into freezer safe jars (or study freezer-happy plastic snap top containers)
let set for 30 min and enjoy, or pop in the freezer for future use.

**You can also do this with peaches, apricots or nectarines or plums.  But peel, pit and finely chop.  And use 1Tbs bottled/ pasteurized lemon juice to keep the pH correct to stop the bad bugs.

Fresh Pea Risi e Bisi

The ancient art of shelling peas

When the peas show up, they can stampede.

I ended up with a bunch of peas - both snow peas (eat the pod kind) and English peas (pop out of the pod kind), and a hankering for Risi e Bisi - the ridiculously delicious Italian treat of risotto with peas, parmesan, salt and pepper (and sometimes bacon, or pancetta or whatnot).

Peas in process
Don't let the risotto stories scare you.  All you really need to do is pay attention - a bit, and not be trying to make it on one of those timed, competitive cooking shows.  Mere mortals need a half an hour to make risotto, not some magical 15 minutes.

So to make the risi e bisi, collect the following:

2 pans - 1 at least 6 cups (1.5 quarts), the other at lest 8 cups (2 quarts)
heat resistant stirring spoon (wood, plastic, just not metal)
cheese grater 
knife and cutting board if you are chopping up edible pea pods

4C/1qt broth - chicken is nice (one of those boxes works great)
a few oz. parmesan cheese (grate it into a few large handfuls)
salt and pepper
a garlic clove or two - smashed, peeled and chopped
olive oil (or bacon fat if you are feeling decadent)
a rounded cup of Arborio rice (about 1C + 1 or 2Tbs)
a pound of English peas (in their pods)
a handful or so of snow peas (or other eatable pea pods)
(Optional - a bit of bacon, or Italian equivalent, chopped into small match-sticky sized bits)


Pop the peas out of their pods

Rinse and trim the snow pea pods (pull or cut off the stem end of the pod), then roughly chop them into thirds or bite size pieces.
Pour the broth into the smaller pan, set it to boil, then turn down to simmer so it stays hot.


In the larger pan, pour in a short Tbs of oil, place over medium heat*.  When the oil has heated for 3-4 minutes - looks shiny, and pours around the pan easily, add the garlic, stir for a few seconds of sizzle.  Then stir in the rice and toast for about 2 minutes.
Use the ladle to add about 1/3 of the stock.  Stir it in, and let it bubble until the rice absorbs it and starts to get a bit sticky/starchy looking.  Stir now and then while this is happening.
Add the next third, repeat.
Add the last third of the stock, repeat.  As the the last third gets close to being absorbed, stir in the cheese, salt, pepper and peas.

Let cool until you can just eat it.
Sigh with delight, and share with people you love.

*if you want to add some bacon, render the fat out of the bacon, cook the pieces until crisp, the remove them.  Continue on with the recipe using the the rendered (tasty) bacon fat.  Add the crispy bacon back on top as a garnish at the end.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Extended Recipe: Curry Kraut Short Rib Tostadas

An extended recipe for these tostadas.
Find the zucchini recipe in the previous post.

small frying pan or medium round-bottomed sauce pan
tongs or chopsticks (or spatula)
grill, grill pan or frying pan
paper towels & a cake/cookie cooling rack (or plate)

Oly Kraut's Curry Kraut
Korean short ribs (bool gogi, bal-gi, kal-bi, etc.)*
2-3 small corn tortillas per person
frying oil†

Prep & Cook!:
Next to the stove, place a paper towel or two on the cooling rack with more standing by.
Place the small frying pan on the stove, and fill with 1/4" or so of frying oil.
Heat at medium high for about 3-4 minutes, or until a sliver of tortilla dropped in the oil bubbles and fries and floats back to the top by the count of 10.
One at a time, fry the little corn tortillas in oil.  They will puff a little and turn a golden brown pretty quickly.  Flip, fry the other side and drain on the paper towels.  It is OK to stack tortillas/paper towels/tortillas/paper towels for the short amount of time they will be there.

Once the tortillas are fried, get the short ribs going over a pre-heated medium hot surface - grill, frying pan etc.  Keep your eye on these, they are thin, and cook quickly.  When one side gets cooked, with some tasty looking charred bits (including satisfying grill marks) flip them, and let the other side acquire the same tasty appearance.  (You can pull off a piece and slice it to make sure it is cooked through).

Lay the tortillas out on plates, cover with a layer of the curry kraut, lay over with hearty slices of short rib.  Eat with your hands.

*I do not have a recipe for Korean Short Ribs.  I get mine pre-marinated from Trader Joe's making this a remarkably quick dinner.  There are a zillion recipes on line, I bet 10 are amazing, but very involved, half a zillion are great, and the other half are just fine too.

†Frying oil is anything with a higher smoke (scorching and smelling bad) point.  Canola oil, olive oil (not extra-virgin), peanut oil, vegetable oil, and grapeseed oil all fit the bill.  Usually anything with a pronounced flavor has delicate compounds that would be mangled by high heat.  Neutral flavored oil are usually perfect for frying.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Curry Kraut Korean Short Rib Tostadas

An extended recipe for the tostada is in the next post,
the zucchini recipe is at the bottom of this one.

What do you do when zucchini and curry kraut comes in your CSA bag?

Quick, slice up the the zucchini and marinate it in soy sauce and sesame, and toss it in the fridge.  Then, run out to the store (TJ's or a great butcher shop, or a secret family recipe) and get your paws on some Korean Short Ribs (bool gogi, bal-gi, kal-bi, etc.) and a stack of little corn tortillas.

Later that day or the next (or the next), fire up the grill.

Get a rack to keep the zucchini from falling onto the flames, and start it on the grill.

No uni-taskers here!  Cooling cakes one day, draining bacon another,
but today, it keeps marinated zucchini over the fire instead of in it. 

When the marinated zucchini gets going, throw on the short ribs.

The zucchini have much more water in them,
so they will take longer than the thinly sliced short ribs.  
While your minion is outside grilling, fire up a bit of oil in an appropriately sized pan and fry those little corn tortillas to crispy.

Then - when it all comes together, grilled marinated zucchini, short ribs, curry kraut, crispy fried corn tortillas... you look like a CSA genius.  Thanks Oly Kraut, and Thanks Helsing Junctions Farms.

Yeah - you're just lucky this got taken.
I had to throw elbows to keep it from getting eaten long enough to get this one picture.

Sesame Soy Marinated Zucchini

is simply sliced zucchini (scoop out the seeds if you like).  Any shape works.  I had ball zucchini, that's why the wedges.

Use Soy Sauce and Sesame Oil to marinate the zucchini for 1 - 5 days.  Flip or shake every day or so.
I use a ratio of 1Tbs soy sauce: 1tsp sesame oil and make sure everything is coated, but not drowning.

Drain the zucchini when you are ready to use it.  The lost water makes for tastier veg.  Grill the heck out of it out doors, under the broiler - or in a pan.  Somehow get a light char on it.  


(Sorry - I have no amazing Korean Short Rib Recipe other that "buy it from Trader Joe's and grill on a late summer evening.")

Trout Salad (take that Tunafish)

So I have this leftover trout.  We grilled the trout (last post), ate all we could, but still had these tails and a bit of filet left.  So I peeled off the no longer crispy skin.

The cold trout from the fridge was nice and firm, so it was easy to peel the flesh off the bones.

check one more time for those tiny, pesky pin (cough cough) bones.
Chop up the fish, with some celery, herbs (chives, parsley, cilantro, dill?, maybe a tiny bit of tarragon?, anyway, nothing too strong that will strong arm the delicate flavor of the trout).  A little bit of sweet onion or very finely chopped shallot can add some nice flavor too.

Stir in just enough mayonnaise to hold the salad together, add salt and pepper to taste.

Admire momentarily before spreading on crackers and enjoying thoroughly.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

There's a book coming....

No photos yet, but there is a book coming.

Yes, this putative cookbook I have been chewing on for a few years (6-ish to be exact) is on it's way.  There are of course some rewrites, and edits to go, but it is being laid out, and the photo sessions are happening.  I've done 3 and several more are on the books.

Cooking Your Local Produce is on it's way this fall.

Egg Salad and Herbs

Egg Salad

Another one of those things that started out as a really good idea, but has gotten pushed around, over simplified, had all the love and originality removed, and we have been made too afraid of fats to appreciate the good the ones in their whole food form do.  And there are few things "whole-er" than eggs.

The laziest way possible to hard boil eggs.
Pop them in your electric kettle, fill to the "full" line,
press the go switch, and get back to the eggs any time
from 5 min to a half an hour later.

Tap gently all around on a hard surface
then peel off the shell - in a nifty strip if you
and your eggs are good.

Work through your eggs
and look - no icky green with the gentle boil.
torn in half is a nice way
to start the salad.

Add a few handfuls of chopped herbs - parsley, cilantro, chives,
oregano, and more cilantro

mustard, salt, pepper and mayonnaise
maybe a little lemon juice if you have some.

ciabatta rolls and lots of fresh summer lettuce 

Enjoy the good summer greens!

Grilling Trout (whole fish version)

A warm sunny day in the uncertain spring of Seattle, and fennel is showing up.  It is time for grilled trout stuffed with fennel fronds and lemons.

A grilled romaine salad with sautéed onions and fennel with a creamy, garlicky dressing and some bread will round out the meal nicely.  A dry, citrusy white wine would do wonderful things with this as well.

The Trout:

2 whole trout (thoughtfully cleaned by your fish purveyor)
2 fennel bulbs – with fronds. (If the ones you find have had them already cut off, ask for untrimmed ones, they are usually easily procured.
3 lemons

Pat the fish dry, and place them in your fridge uncovered to dry the skins out a bit while prepping grill and the rest of the dinner. 
Chop off the large, fennel stems.   Cut or tear off the smaller feathery ends.  The very tender ends can be chopped up to go in the salad/salad dressing.  (Or if you are making rice, added to that while it cooks.)
Everything smaller than the big heavy stalks will be used to stuff the fish.
Slice the lemons medium thin – 5 slices +/- per lemon.   (12 slices, plus half a lemon left for salad dressing.)

(Chop ingredients for the salad too if you are making one.  In fact, let that fish skin continue to dry in the fridge while you finish all the rest of the prep.  The fish take about 10 minutes once they hit the grill.)
Make sure your grill grates are clean, and rub them with a paper towel with enough oil to make them shiny.  (Use a variety that has a high smoke point – like canola, walnut or grapeseed oil).

Start heating your grill to high heat. 

(Special tip – if using a charcoal grill, toss these large stalks onto the charcoal for some fennel flavored heat.)

Take the fish out or the fridge.  Open the middle.  Sprinkle with salt, and lay down three lemon slices.  Stuff in fennel fronds.  Lay down 3 more slices, and tie up with cooking twine (cotton or linen string – NOTHING plastic based)

Rub the outside of the fish with a little oil, and place on the hot grill.

Cover the grill and cook for about 4 minutes.  Gently flip the fish.  If the skin is sticking, wait until it unsticks (gently check every minute or less).  Turn the fish over, cover and cook the same amount on the other side.


Clip the string,
Slice the fish.
Enjoy the good life.