Yes, I know, things have been a little quiet around here. I hope to get back to it soon. In the mean time, check out the guest blog I wrote for Full Circle Farm: Top Ten Vegetables for Grilling
Saturday, May 19th, 2012
Yes, I know, things have been a little quiet around here. I hope to get back to it soon. In the mean time, check out the guest blog I wrote for Full Circle Farm: Top Ten Vegetables for Grilling
Wednesday, July 27th, 2011
So far this summer, my trips to the farmer’s market have been largely uninspiring. With the cool, wet weather that we are having in Seattle, summer produce is late arriving. My most recent trip, however, brought a wealth of inspiration. This particular farmer has been using a greenhouse to help summer along so I was able to find my first “warm weather” produce.
I decided to take advantage of one of our few sunny days and do some grilling. This, combined with some leftover chicken and a couple of ingredients from the pantry produced a wonderful main dish salad. Here’s the ingredients.
To start, I cut the bell pepper into quarters, removing the seeds and what not and then cut the eggplant and zucchini into planks about 1/2″ thick. Then I cut the sweet onions into quarters and pushed them, as well as the garlic, onto skewers. I rubbed everything down with olive oil and then seasoned them all with salt and pepper.
I started the onions and the garlic on the top rack of the grill and then walked away … for too long. Sigh. Burned. That’ll teach me for trying to do three projects at one time. I forged ahead and put the rest of the veggies on the hot grill. Flipping them as they browned …
… and removing them as they cooked through.
I decided the garlic was a goner (and it ended up being unneeded), but went ahead and peeled the charred layers off of the onions so that I could use them. I chopped everything into 1/2″ pieces, including a couple of the greens off of the sweet onions.
I stirred together the pesto, lemon juice and mayo and chopped the chicken. Finally I combined all the ingredients in a large bowl and tossed the whole mix together.
GRILLED VEGETABLE CHOPPED SALAD WITH CREAMY PESTO DRESSING
serves 2 generously
This salad can easily be made with prepared pesto and mayonnaise. However, if you have the time, take it and make a batch of pesto and homemade mayo. Put any leftover pesto into an ice cube tray and freeze. That way you’ll have a tasty touch of summer all year round. I used two “ice cubes” worth of pesto in the dressing. Mayonnaise from scratch might sound hard, but it’s easier than you think (especially if you have an immersion blender) and totally worth it. I like to use Alton Brown’s recipe (which I’ve added below) and Chef John’s method (here’s a link). If you can’t find new sweet onions, use a sliced mature sweet onion (for the bulb) and scallions (for the greens). I used leftovers from a rotisserie chicken to keep my kitchen cool.
1 zucchini, cut into 1/2″ planks
1 small eggplant, cut into 1/2″ planks
1 red bell pepper, quartered and seeded
6 new sweet onions, bulbs quartered, some of the greens chopped
10 cloves garlic (optional)
1/4 cup pesto
1/2 cup homemade mayonnaise (see recipe below)
juice of 1/2 lemon
6 ounces cooked chicken, chopped
2-3 ounces Parmesan cheese
4-5 leaves romaine lettuce, chopped
Prepare grill for cooking. Grill all the vegetables, flipping as they brown, until they are softened and cooked through. Cool, then cut into 1/2″ pieces.
Stir together the pesto, mayonnaise and lemon juice.
In a large bowl, toss together the cooled and chopped vegetables, onion greens, chicken, lettuce, cheese and dressing. Divide between plates. Enjoy!
Alton Brown’s Mayonnaise
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
2 pinches sugar
2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 cup oil, safflower or corn
In a glass bowl, whisk together egg yolk and dry ingredients. Combine lemon juice and vinegar in a separate bowl then thoroughly whisk half into the yolk mixture. Start whisking briskly, then start adding the oil a few drops at a time until the liquid seems to thicken and lighten a bit, (which means you’ve got an emulsion on your hands). Once you reach that point you can relax your arm a little (but just a little) and increase the oil flow to a constant (albeit thin) stream. Once half of the oil is in add the rest of the lemon juice mixture.
Continue whisking until all of the oil is incorporated. Leave at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours then refrigerate for up to 1 week.
Thursday, March 31st, 2011
I like to get potatoes in my CSA box because if you don’t get to them right away, they don’t go bad and turn into a pile of green goo in the bottom of the crisper drawer (not that that ever happens to me). They can sit for weeks and some would say that they even improve with age, growing sweeter as they wait for their chance to shine.
Plus, always having a stash of potatoes in the crisper means that an easy breakfast is right around the corner.
I’ll use just about any kind of fingerling or new potato in this recipe. Russets are okay, but I’d rather eat them baked or mashed. If you have some greens like kale or chard, you can throw them in too. Just add them at the end, a bit before the potatoes are cooked through.
Here’s the ingredients.
To start, put the potatoes in a microwaveable bowl and cover them. Cook them for about 3 minutes, or until they are just starting to get tender. If you don’t like to use the microwave, you could boil them for just a few minutes (but I am lazy and the microwave is easy).
While the potatoes are in the microwave, cook the bacon over medium heat until it is just about crispy.
At this point, you can spoon out a bit of the bacon fat (or not, I’m not your mother), then add the onion, par-cooked potatoes, thyme and sage and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.
Turn the heat up to high let the whole mix saute, stirring every so often until everything is golden brown and delicious (and the potatoes are cooked through), then sprinkle in the chives.
To really make it a meal. Fry up an egg and slip it down over the top of the potatoes. The runny yolk will combine with the potatoes and make a bit of a sauce.
Good, simple, tasty food. Serve with toast and some juice and you’ve got breakfast perfection.
I used my own home-cured bacon but commercial bacon will work just fine. Just be sure that it is thick cut or the bacon might burn while the potatoes cook through. I used red onion (because that’s what I had laying around) but any type onion will work.
1 pound fingerling or red potatoes
4 oz thick cut bacon, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon fresh sage, chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
Place the potatoes in a microwaveable bowl and cover. Cook for about 3 minutes, or until they are just starting to get tender.
While the potatoes are in the microwave, cook the bacon over medium heat until it is just about crispy. If desired, use a spoon to remove some of the bacon fat from the pan.
Add the onion, par-cooked potatoes, thyme and sage and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.
Turn the heat to high and saute, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are cooked through and golden brown. Sprinkle with chives and serve.
Saturday, March 12th, 2011
Back in the day (I can say “back in the day” now that I am officially over 40) I bussed tables at Sea Galley. If you don’t know what Sea Galley is, picture Red Lobster with a 40 item salad bar (which sounds great in theory, but actually sucked because it was up to the bus people to fill).
They had a little song on their commercials with the lyrics “we’ve got crab legs” – and they actually had crab legs. I mean, they actually had foam rubber crab legs that the hostess would have to put on and venture out to the street to drum up business when the restaurant was slow (there was also a slightly inappropriate Christmas party that involved half a santa suit and said crab legs.
They were one of those “would you like rice, french fries or baked potato with your entree” kind of places. I noticed they did something kind of ingenious. At the end of the night, any left over baked potatoes (the ones that had been cooked but not served) were split open and prepped to be used for potato skins. The inards that had been scooped out were then used in the clam chowder. Thus, no potato waste.
This story really has nothing to do with my recipe, other than the fact that my love of potato skins was developed, and perfected, during my tenure at Sea Galley. Really, it’s hard to find a bad potato skin, I mean, what’s not to like? You’ve got potato, cheese and bacon, it’s really hard to go wrong. However, there are levels of “good” and I think these potato skins are exceptional. Mine have, of course, bacon (I happen to have used my own home-cured bacon but any good bacon will do), and really sharp cheddar. But they also have a layer of sauteed red onion to amp up the deliciousness.
Here’s the ingredients.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter in a small sauce pan then add the garlic and smoked paprika.
Give it a stir and leave it on the stove so that it stays warm.
I like to cook the onion in a bit of bacon fat, so once the bacon has been cooked crisp, remove it from the pan, reserving a bit of the fat, then toss in the onion. Let it cook at medium heat until is is soft and translucent.
While the butter is melting and the onions are cooking, prep the potatoes. Cut each in half (if they are really thick you may want to cut a little out of the center of each one so that each half is about 3/4 inch thick). Then, using a spoon, scoop out most of the potato from each half.
Leave enough potato so that each half will keep it’s shape when you pick it up.
Put the potato halves on a baking sheet (I like to line mine with foil) then brush the skin sides with the butter mixture.
Bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes. Take them out and flip the potatoes over and brush with more butter (don’t get to carried away, if lots of butter pools in the potato half the potato skins will be greasy). Bake for another 8 minutes. This helps to make the potato skin crispy before the toppings are layered on.
Once baked, spoon about a tablespoon of cooked onion into each half.
Then layer on the cheese and the bacon (I seemed to have got excited about the prospect of potato skins at the point because I forgot to take a picture).
Return the baking sheet to the oven and cook for another 5 minutes to melt the cheese, then sprinkle on a few chives.
The smoky paprika and garlic add a nice flavor to what might be a rather bland skin. The onions add a lovely sweetness that is a great contrast to the tang of the sharp cheddar. I like to leave the sour cream on the side so it doesn’t get melty on the warm skins.
Of course, now you’ve got a bunch of potato guts on your hand. You could do what they did at Sea Galley and use them in soup. Or, you could combine the potato, along with any leftover onion, a little of the extra cheese, maybe a teaspoon of the butter mixture and a dollop of sour cream…
…and put it in a little baking dish (and top with a little more cheese).
Then bake it at 350 degrees, covered for 40 minutes, then uncovered for 15 more to make a delicious potato casserole for lunch the next day.
Almost as good as the potato skins themselves.
Russet potatoes work exceptionally well in this recipe, however, if you would like smaller, two bite, potato skins, feel free to substitute small red potatoes. You will need two or three red potatoes for every russet potato called for.
4 russet potatoes, baked
1 Tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 clove garlic, minced
4 ounces bacon, chopped and cooked crisp, fat reserved
1 red onion, chopped
6-8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
1 Tablespoon chives
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a small saucepan, melt butter and stir in garlic and paprika. Heat for 15 seconds to cook the garlic, then turn off the burner.
In a skillet, heat the reserved bacon fat. Add the onion and saute over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and translucent. Set aside.
While the onion cooks, prep the potatoes. Cut each potato in half to approximately 3/4 inch thick. Using a spoon, scoop out the cooked potato, leaving about 1/4 inch of potato in the skin.
Place potato halves skin side up on a baking sheet and brush with the butter mixture. Bake for 8 minutes then remove from oven. Using a spatula, turn each of the potato halves over and brush lightly with more of the butter mixture. Return pan to oven and cook for an additional 8 minutes.
Into each potato half, layer about a tablespoon of sauteed onion followed by cheese and bacon. Bake for 5 minutes until the cheese is melted. Sprinkle potato skins with chives and serve with sour cream.
Wednesday, January 12th, 2011
So um, yeah, 2011 can still suck it. Two days after my last post, when I thought perhaps the suck that is 2011 might be over, I rolled my ankle while leaving a client’s house after a night of catering. It was sooo dark and I just couldn’t see the edge of the driveway.
After three days of pain, I finally went to the doctor yesterday. After an exam, and a few x-rays, it was determined that no severe damage had been done (no broken bones, no torn ligaments) but it was definitely sprained. Gotta say, this is going to put a hamper on my triathlon training. Swimming is okay, biking is a maybe, but walking is a no go for at least two (but likely four) weeks.
As I am generally a glass is half-full person, I am grateful that the ankle that I rolled was my right ankle and not the left since it has not even been a year since my ankle surgery. The x-rays also showed a pretty awesome bone spur which is the likely cause of heel pain that I have been suffering through for years. So, once this triathlon is over, I can deal with that and hopefully rid myself of some pain.
So, because I have a sprained ankle and can’t really stand for long periods of time, there is not much cooking going on in my house. This makes it kind of hard create a new recipe. However, my cousin Mariah asked me to post the recipe for the short ribs that I posted pictures of in December so this seemed like the perfect chance.
Here’s the line-up:
In a heavy pot, cook the bacon until it is nice and crispy. Now honestly, you could totally skip the bacon and just warm a couple tablespoons of oil in the pan instead. How do I know? Well because I completely forgot to add the crispy bacon to the finished dish and I didn’t miss it at all (the dish ends up plenty rich on it’s own).
While the bacon renders (or the oil heats), combine the flour with salt, pepper and fresh thyme.
Dredge each of the short ribs in the mixture.
Once the bacon is crispy remove it from the pan then brown the short ribs on all side in the bacon fat (or the oil that you have been warming if you are skipping the bacon).
Do the browning in batches so that the pan isn’t too crowded (they’ll brown better that way) and once they are brown remove them from the pan.
Add the chopped onions and the garlic to the now empty pan and cook until they have softened a bit.
You may ask, why use both chopped onion and pearl onions in the dish. Well, over the long cooking time, the chopped onions kind of just melt into the sauce while the pearl onions stay whole and provide a yummy bite all on their own.
Add the wine to the pan and scrape with a spoon to get all the tasty bits off the bottom.
Add the pearl onions and olives to the pan.
Then nestle in the browned short ribs and the fresh thyme. Don’t add any salt to the pot at this point because the olives are going to give a lot of salt to the dish.
Add a lid (or aluminum foil if your pot doesn’t have a lid) and pop the pot into a 350 degree oven.
After two hours take the pan out of the oven (mmm, looking good so far).
And stir in the potatoes. Adding the potatoes later in the process keeps them from getting too soft.
Put the lid back on the pot and pop it back into the oven for another hour.
With the cooking now done, if you have opted to use the bacon, stir it into the dish. But if, like me, you forget, you still get this delicious looking concoction.
Remove the thyme sprig then test for seasoning and add some salt and pepper if you want. On each plate place a rib (or two if you are hungry) and a few potatoes along with some of the olive and onion mixture. A little sprinkle of parsley wouldn’t hurt either.
Unctuous, delicious meat, falling off the bone. Perfectly tender potatoes. And did I mention the aroma in the house? Oh my.
RED-WINE BRAISED SHORT RIBS WITH OLIVES AND ONIONS
serves 3-6 depending on your appetite
This is a bit of a “project” meal with it’s long cooking time, but it is, for the most part, untended cooking. Start it after lunch on a lazy Sunday and by dinner (or supper for those in the midwest) time your meal will be ready.
3-4 strips bacon, cut into 1″ lengths (optional, if not using substitute 2 tablespoons vegetable oil)
3/4 cup flour
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cup red wine
3/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted
1 bag frozen pearl onions, thawed
6 meaty short ribs
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 1/2 pound small waxy potatoes (yukon golds, reds or fingerling potatoes work well)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large, heavy pot, cook the bacon over medium high heat until it is brown and crisp. If not using bacon, heat oil in the pan instead.
Meanwhile, combine the flour with salt, pepper and fresh thyme and stir to combine. Dredge each of the short ribs in the mixture.
Once the bacon is crisp, use a slotted spoon to remove it from the pan then brown the short ribs, in batches, on all sides in the remaining bacon fat or the heated oil. As they brown remove them from the pan. Add the chopped onions and the garlic to the now empty pan and cook until they have softened a bit. Add the wine to the pan and scrape with a spoon to release the fond from the bottom of the pan. Add the pearl onions and olives to the pan, then nestle in the browned short ribs and the fresh thyme.
Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid or aluminum foil and place in oven. After 2 hours, add the potatoes to the pot, stirring to combine. Re-cover the pot and return it to the oven for an additional hour.
If using the bacon, stir it into the dish. Remove the thyme sprig then test for seasoning and add some salt and pepper if needed. On each plate place a rib or two and a few potatoes along with some of the olive and onion mixture.
Saturday, November 14th, 2009
I feel like I haven’t cooked in forever (but really it’s only been about a week). After training this morning I went out with the team for coffee. A couple of people asked what I was going to do today, and with nothing else pressing to do, the only thing I could think of was “cook”.
We met this morning at 8 a.m. and it was only 30 degrees. Even though I eventually worked up a sweat, I ended up chilled to the bone (a weird sensation, to be sweaty and cold at the same time). A nice, steamy bowl of soup sounded like just the ticket for warming up.
Here’s the ingredients:
1/2 onion, chopped
2 leeks (white and light green part only), cut in half then sliced
2 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon mustard powder
2 Tablespoon flour
4 cup chicken stock (veggie stock would work too)
2 large yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/4 kubocha squash, peeled and chopped (while this isn’t really necessary to the dish, I had it left over from the risotto last week, and it did bring a tiny bit of sweetness to the dish)
2 Tablespoon cream (also optional, but it adds a nice touch of creaminess to the soup)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (a last minute addition so it’s not in the picture)
To start I warmed about a teaspoon of olive oil in a 3-quart pot. When it was warm I added the onion, leeks and a sprinkle of salt and cooked until they were softened and translucent. I added the garlic and cooked it for about 30 seconds longer.
I sprinkled on the mustard powder and the flour.
Then stirred it for about a minute to make a roux.
Next I stirred in the chicken broth (making sure to get rid of any lumps) then added the squash and the potatoes.
I brought the mixture to a boil then let it simmer until the potatoes and squash were cooked through, then added the cream. I tasted for seasoning, and it was just missing something. Something like bacon. Sadly, there is no bacon in the house (I do not know how that happened). I realized that smoked paprika might just give the soup the bit of smokiness that I was looking for, so I added some to the mix (along with a hearty helping of fresh ground pepper). It worked (and gave the soup a beautiful tint).
To serve, I topped the soup with a few of the pickled peppers (as well as a bit of the pickling liquid) that I made with my chef group about a month ago.
How was it? Well I was a little worried about this soup as I was tasting it as it cooked. It just didn’t have great flavor. But, the addition of the smoked paprika really turned it into something great. Filled my belly and warmed my bones quite nicely. Delish.
Friday, November 6th, 2009
This week my Team in Training team started training in earnest. We meet every Monday and Wednesday night (plus Saturday mornings) plus I have hand bell choir practice on Tuesday nights. Well, frankly, I am not used to having to go out in the evening quite so much. So, I have been an extra lazy chef this week. Well, yesterday I had the day off, and nowhere to go in the evening, so I decided to take advantage and make a slightly more complicated meal than I have been making this week.
I wanted to use the Kabocha Squash that was in my box two weeks ago before it started to go squishy. My original thought was to roast it, but I didn’t have anything to go with roasted squash to make it a meal. As I looked through the pantry I found pearled barley and decided to use that to make a risotto-style barley (which would make a delightful meal). Whenever I make risotto, I use barley instead of arborio rice (mostly because that’s the way the husband likes it).
Here’s the ingredients:
1 onion, divided, half diced and half julienned
3/4 of a kabocha squash, diced (I was going to use the whole thing, but it was just too much)
1 cup barley
1/2 cup white wine
4-6 cups chicken broth (veggie stock would work too)
14 sage leaves, divided, half minced and half julienned
2 ounces Parmesan cheese
In a stockpot, I brought the chicken broth to a boil, then turned the heat down to low. In a saute pan I heated a little olive oil and added the julienned onion to caramelize. In a saucier, I heated a little more olive oil then added the diced onion and squash. I let it saute until until the onion was cooked through.
Whew, that’s a lot of pots (glad I don’t have to do the dishes).
I added the barley to the saucier and let it cook, stirring often, for another minute or so.
Next I added the white wine and let it simmer until it was almost gone. Then I added a ladle of chicken broth and let it simmer until it was almost gone.
I continued this process of adding a ladle of broth, then stirring until gone, over and over. The photo above is at about the 20 minute mark, which is when I added the julienned sage to the onions and the minced sage to the risotto.
After about 40 minutes, the barley and the squash were both cooked through, so I added the Parmesan cheese and tasted for seasoning.
I ladled the barley into a bowl and topped it with some of the caramelized onions.
How was it? Well, this was not one of my finest moments. While the flavor was good, the risotto got really thick as it set and the onions were a little bit over-caramelized (read slightly burned). So, while not an epic fail, things could have been better. Still, a tasty meal for a stormy night. If I made it again, I would add a bit more broth right before serving to held with the thickness problem and keep a better eye on the onions. Plus, I think a little sausage or maybe some bacon would have made this meal really shine.
Thursday, March 12th, 2009
I was kind of tired tonight, and my sprained ankle is still bothering me, so I was looking for a lazy meal. Whenever I’m feeling lazy I turn to soup.
Soup is also a great way to empty out the crisper.
Here is what I found in the crisper (and the pantry).
1/2 leek, chopped
8 tiny yellow and orange carrots, peeled and chopped
4 really tiny russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes
4 cup chicken broth (veggie broth could be used)
2 cup water
1 cup french green lentils, rinsed
1 bunch of chard, leaves and stems chopped
2 zucchini, chopped
2 tablespoon sumac
1 lemon zested and juiced
2 tablespoon parsley, minced
1/2 cup sour cream
In a large pot I combined my leek, carrots, potatoes, garlic, tomatoes, broth, water, lentils and the chard stems. As this simmered I added the juice of half a lemon, the sumac and some salt and pepper. I let this simmer for about 40 minutes then added the zucchini and chard leaves. I let this simmer about 10 minutes longer.
While the soup was cooking, I combined the lemon zest and minced parsley with a bit of salt and pepper. I combined half of this mixture with the sour cream and then set them both aside.
I tested the soup for seasoning and decided to add the juice from the other half of the lemon and a bit more salt. To serve, I ladled my soup into a bowl and topped it with a dollop of the sour cream mixture and a sprinkle of the lemon zest-parsley mixture and sumac. I served the soup with a slice of toasty sourdough bread that I had sprinkled with olive oil, sea salt and black pepper.
While his was very tasty I think I may have liked it better without the potatoes, however the husband strongly disagreed. The soup was good on it’s own (very fresh tasting with the lemon), but the addition of the sour cream made it wonderful. The toasty bread was a very yummy accompaniment (way better than crackers).