Monday, August 16, 2010
My how life can get busy. Seems like things all tend to happen at once! Over the past three months, Alex graduated from UCSC, I finished my nursing pre-requisites (and sadly was faced with the fact that it will be a few years until I can start nursing school proper, thanks to budget cuts) and we both quit our jobs in preparation for our big move to Portland.
Amazing how life changes isn't it? Change is bound to happen though. I suppose it isnt so much life's changes that surprise me, I think the astonishing thing is how life changes us.
Our new elected hometown is changing me already. Portland is a weird and wonderful place. That picture up there? Its an automated fortune teller that someone installed on the side of a building in a sort of seedy part of town. It is odd, and amazing, and so typical Portland. The whole city is infected with a do-it-yourself spirit and quirky back to basics/sustainable tendencies. The town is crawling with food carts, obsessed with microbreweries (Alex is like a kid in a candy store, or rather a grown up in a beer themed amusement park when walking the streets) and there is basically a farmers market everyday. Thats right folk, the local food moment is alive and well in wet, rainy Portland. People there love to recycle, take public transit, and reuse stuff in magical and unsuspected ways. And people MAKE things in Portland, build them, craft them, shape them.
Apparently Portland is turning me into a bit of a hippy. I use this term lightly of course, I am wearing jeans from old navy right now and I am pretty sure that the hippy crowd will kick you out for that offense alone. What I am trying to say is that my focus on sustanablity and reducing my personal carbon footprint has been deepend by the time that I have spent driving up and down the North West coast of California and Oregon over the past few months. It is hard not to think about the importance of our resources when you are surrounded by people that better understand their link to the earth and its gifts better than you do yourself. So be prepared people, things are changing around here. Look forward to recipes featuring locally grown food, canning, recycling ideas, home made bread, and other general harebrained things of that sustainable sort.
And of course many token photos of myself dwarfed by a gigantic pint of local brew! Portland here we come.
Friday, March 12, 2010
- 1 cup frozen peas (I will not stop you from using fresh if you got 'em)
- 1 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
- 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
- 2/3 cup grated Parmesan
- 3 garlic cloves (3 regular sized, only two if they are large) smashed and peeled
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
If using frozen peas cook them for a minute or so in the microwave covered with two tablespoons of water.
In a food processor combine the peas, parsley, walnuts, Parmesan, garlic and one tablespoon of water. Pulse until everything is blended to a paste. While the machine is running slowly add in the olive oil and continue to run the food processor until the mixture is blended.
Add salt and pepper to taste. We followed the serving suggestion and served this over pasta that we added another cup of frozen peas to during the last minute of boiling and it was wonderful. It would also be fantastic on sandwiches, mixed into hummus or salad dressing, or in an omelet. MMM...winter pesto.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
- 1 pound loaf of ciabatta with the ends cut off and sliced into 1/2 inch slices
- 1 Garlic clove sliced down the middle to rub on toasts
- 3 Garlic cloves minced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil to cook greens+ roughly 2 more to drizzle on toasts
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 12 oz baby spinach
- Kosher salt
- 2 cups (4 oz) fontina cheese, grated
To make the toasts preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the slices of bread on the parchment paper in a single layer and drizzle with olive oil. Place in the oven and allow to bake four roughly 10 minutes, until golden brown.
Remove the toasts and allow to cool slightly and then rub the toasts with the cut portion of the garlic halves. Set the toasts aside and get to work on the spinach.
In a skillet heat the 3 tablespoons of olive oil and add the three minced garlic cloves along with the red pepper flakes and cook until you can smell the garlic, about 30 seconds. Add the spinach in batches and cook until wilted then season to taste with salt.
Top the toasts with the spinach and then sprinkle with cheese and put them back into the oven to season with salt and serve.
Sunday, February 28, 2010
- 1 cup peeled and grated raw sweet potatoes (the potatoes should be grated as finely-using a small hole grater if possible)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel (can be omitted if you don't want in a savory rendition)
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons oil or melted butter
- 1 cup flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
In a large bowl mix the sweet potatoes, lemon peel, egg, milk, oil and butter.
In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cumin, chili powder, and cinnamon.
Sir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients being careful not to over stir. Set the batter aside.
Heat a oiled skillet to medium high heat. For each pancake pour about a ladle full or a little less of batter into the skillet and allow to cook for about 2 minutes on each side, until they reach a golden brown color.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Go Saints!! Creole
Adapted from (Just like your mawmaw's) Shrimp creole from The Trader Joe's Companion
- 1 lb Andoullie Sausage sliced or chopped
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 and 1/2 cups chopped celery
- 1 cup, carrot chopped
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 cups vegetable stock (could use chicken)
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 cup chopped tomato
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
Begin by making your roux. Using a flat bottomed pan over medium-low heat warm up the oil. Slowly add the flour and whisk together. Once the flour is Incorporated you need to continue to stir the mixture until it has turned a light brown (a color similar to peanut butter). This should take about 15 minutes. You can cook the roux for longer, my understanding is that the longer it cooks the more authentic it is.
Once you are satisfied with the roux add your onion, pepper, carrots and celery and cook for 5 minutes, until the veggies have softened.
Add the garlic, thyme, broth, wine, chili powder, tomato and tomato paste. Stir until the paste has dissolved and the entire soup is well blended. Allow everything to simmer for about 30 minutes. The creole will have thickened up a great deal, add as much extra liquid (stock or wine preferably) as you feel you need.
Once you have the consistency you want add the sausage and cook for about 10 more minutes.
We served ours the way they do at our favorite Louisiana style restaurant, with a scoop of rice on top, and we added a bit of Greek yogurt to the top because we put in extra chili powder and it was hot!! Stick to 1/4 teaspoon chili powder if you are adding spicy sausage!!
Friday, February 5, 2010
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup chilled butter
- 2 tablespoons ice water
- 2 tablespoons Olive oil
- 3/4 cups diced onions
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup thinly sliced fresh fennel
- 2 medium fresh tomatoes
- 1 cup diced zucchini
- 1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
- 2 tablespoons dried basil (recipe calls for fresh, use it if you got it, our Safeway was out)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup feta cheese
- 1/2 cup grated dill Havarti cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Swiss
You could of course use any cheesed you want, just stick to about 1 cup total, grated, plus the cup of feta.
To make the crust:
Mix together the flour and salt. Work in the butter with a pastry cutter or your fingers until the mixture is similar to a coarse meal. Slowly incorporate the water into the mixture, using about a tablespoon at a time.
Push the dough away from the sides and into the middle of the bowl until you are left with a ball that sticks together. Turn the ball out onto a dry clean surface, cut it in half and than stack the two half's and press down to mix. Do this a few times until the moisture seems to be evenly distributed.
Add a bit of flour to your work surface and roll your dough out into a circle that is about 12 inches. Place the dough into a 9 inch pie place, fold the edges over and crimp the edges until they adhere to the plate. Make sure to put the crust into the refrigerator when finished.
Preheat oven to 375
In a skillet heat your oil and add the onions and salt. Cook on medium heat until the onions are soft, about 8-10 minutes. Add your fresh fennel and cook for 3-5 more minutes.
While the onions and fennel cook, halve the tomatoes and scoop out the pulp and juice, reserving 1/2 cup of the tomato juice/pulp. Chop up the tomatoes and add it, along with the zucchini to the skillet and continue to cook on medium heat for five minutes, stirring occasionally.
Turn the heat off the skillet and add both the basil and the pepper
In a blender mix the eggs, tomato pulp and juice along with the feta until it is a smooth custard.
Take your crust out of the refrigerator and place the veggies on the bottom. Top with the grated cheeses and then pour the egg mixture on top.
Bake for roughly 50 minutes until the top of the quiche is golden and puffed up and the crust is golden as well.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon grated whole nutmeg (pregrated would be fine as well)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup liquid eggs-or substitute
- 1 cup fat-free milk
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Apple Mixture Ingredients
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar, divded
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 1 cup thinly sliced apple, preferiable Granny Smith or similar. Our was a pink lady though and that worked well.
In a smaller bowl combine egg substitute, milk, butter and vanilla, whisk together and add to the flower mixture and combine. Set the batter aside and allow to stand for 30 minutes.
While the batter sets, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Cover the bottoms and the sides of an ovenproof skillit with cooking spray or whichever grease you choose. In a small bowl combine 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg and sprinkle this evenly over the bottom and sides of the pan.
On top of the sugar, arrange the apple in a single layer along the bottom of the pan. A spokelike pattern looks nice, but as long is it is a single layer you should be fine. Once the apples are in the pan sprinle the last 1/4 cup of sugar over the apples. Cook over medium heat until the sugar and apple juices begin to bubble. Once at this point pour in the batter slowly.
Place the skillet in the oven and cook for 15 minutes, and then reduce the temp to 375 and cook for an additional 13 minutes. The center of the pancake should be set.
Remove the pancake from the oven and serve either directly out of the skillet or remove it with a spatula and serve on a plate. You can sprinle powdered sugar over the top for effect if you like just before serving.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Vinaigrette Salad dressing
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon sherry
- Fresh chopped herbs to taste
- Salt and Pepper to taste
In a small bowl pour in the vinegar and add a bit of salt. Stir these together and taste. If the vinegar is still very acidic add a bit more salt and taste, continuing to do so until the vinegar has mellowed a bit and become slightly sweet. This process can seem a bit tedious and weird at first, but it improves the taste of the vinaigrette tremendously.
Add the mustard, sherry and herbs and stir with a whisk until combined.
Add the olive oil and whisk vigorously until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste
When we assembled the lasgana we used the general method: sauce, noodles, cheese, sauce noodles cheese and so on. Sometimes the old fashioned way is the best way to go.
- 1/8 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup pancetta
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- One 28 ox can tomato puree
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- salt and pepper
In a large heavy pot heat the olive oil over med heat and add the pancetta, cook for about five minutes.
Turn up the heat to medium high and add the carrot, onion and celery, cooking until the veggies are softened. Add the garlic and cook for another minute and then add the beef. Break up the beef and cook until the meat is completely browned. Add the wine and allow to simmer until the liquid is cooked off.
Stir in the tomato pure along with a cup of water. Bring to a simmer and add the oregano and salt and pepper to taste. Partially cover and allow to simmer over a low heat while stirring occasionally until thickened. This should take at least thirty minutes, or up to two hours.
Once the sauce is cooked taste and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
In non-food related news, I want to warn you that Alex is brewing his own beer, which he is extremely excited about. It's cute, he even is stealing beer bottles from parties etc. so that he has a place to store his beloved brew. The first batch is almost fully mature. We tried some tonight, its a bit under carbonated but it is begining to taste like beer.
See? How cute is all that beer just sittin' in the closet? Not to worry, it doesn't smell (thank god!) so all the clothes are safe.
In other news, my dad is turning fifty and we just had a big old party for him last night. Alex and I were in charge of making the cupcakes so we figured we would try a few things out. We made Molly Wizenbergs chocolate cake and turned them into cupcakes which were delicious but not really appropriate for the mega frosting presentation that my dad prefers. That man LOVES frosting. The cake was so light and flavorful that we could not bear to slather all of our (home made) peanut butter frosting on top of them so, they are now sitting in the freezer waiting to be eaten with some whipped cream. Because we were running out of time we were reduced to using a box mix for the chocolate cupcakes. I know!! for shame, but they were alright, we added vanilla and some chopped chocolate to boost the flavor a bit. It was for the best though because they were perfect for that frosting, and I don't think that all of the drunk fifty year olds would have appreciated the other cupcakes.
Back to the whole point, though we ended up cooking a slightly sadistic amount on Friday, our major triumph was the vanilla cupcakes we made from a recipe out of the Everyday Gourmet cookbook. These cupcakes were the perfect texture, light and buttery, but just hearty enough to be frosted without being overpowered by all that gooey goodness. Best of all they were not too sweet, a complaint I generally have about vanilla cupcakes. These actually tasted like vanilla and butter not just sugar. Huzzah for Gourmet!! There are about four of these sitting in my fridge right now in a Tupperware just waiting to be eaten. Life is looking pretty good right now!
Anyhow, the cupcakes went over well. The party was 60's themed so we frosted them and piped some brightly colored peace signs on top and they were totally far out. I did make one cardinal mistake however. I frosted the cupcakes at the apartment and then transported them over to my Dad's house. What was I thinking!!! oohh so many became so sad looking with droopy frosting. But luckily we had enough that survived the trip. Note to self: ALWAYS frost the cupcakes as close to serving time as possible!
Gourmet Today-Edited by Ruth Reichl
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tbl baking powder
- 1 and 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 3 sticks of softened unsalted butter
- 1 and 3/4 cups sugar
- 4 large eggs left at room temp for 30 min
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 and 1/2 cups whole milk
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line your muffin tins with liners.
Sift together the flour, baking power and salt in a med size bowl and set aside
In a large bowl beat together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer set to med-high. Once the butter and sugar have combined to be light and fluffy add the eggs one at a time, beading after each.
Once the eggs have been Incorporated add the vanilla, then reduce the speed of the mixture and add the flour and milk in three batches alternating between the flour and the milk.
Ladle or pour the butter into the muffin tins and place in the oven for 18-22 minutes. Once they are finished (a toothpick inserted into the middle should come out clean) remove from the oven and allow to cool entirely before frosting.