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
Monday, December 5th, 2011
Here it is. My last Charcutepalooza post. The challenge for this, the final month in our year of challenges? Show off a little. Basically, have a party, invite a bunch of friends and feed them until they are ready to burst.
Of course there were a few more guidelines than “just feed people”. A list of items (using at least four) that our meal needed to include: something smoked, cured or brined, something made with pork belly, a pate or terrine, rillettes or confit and sausage of some kind.
I pulled out all of my trusty charcuterie books. For days I pored over them, considering my menu. A few items easily made the list (my buffalo chicken rillettes and pork belly confit) but some needed more consideration.
Finally, after days of adding something to my list only to replace it with something else two hours later, I settled on the following menu:
• Scotch Eggs
• Baguettes topped with Bacon Jam and Tomato Confit
• Buffalo Chicken Rillettes
• Baguettes topped with Goat Cheese and Lonzino
• Vegetable Terrine with Goat Cheese Inlay (based loosely on the version found in Charcuterie, recipe follows)
• Brined Pork Loin with Cured Lemons (from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home)
• Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Maple Syrup and Pecans
• Jim Drohman’s Pork Belly Confit with tender and bitter greens, mustard vinaigrette and sous vide eggs (pork belly recipe from Charcuterie)
• Polenta with Parmesan
And of course there was dessert (I served a nut tart I picked up at Will Bake for Food) and many plentiful cocktails (including a take on a lemon drop that included lavender and rosemary)
Ninety percent of my friends (and my husband) work at a the corporate office of a major corporation that does not allow anyone to take the day after Thanksgiving off work. So, that is the day I settled on for my gathering. Guests started arriving as they got off work and I started feeding them right away. And then I kept feeding them for the next four hours.
It was a glorious night of gluttony. Think about it, how often do you get to eat pork that has been prepared six different ways. The pork belly confit, which was cooked with cinnamon, cloves and allspice than deep fried was my favorite dish of the night, though the still-pink and meltingly tender pork loin was a close second. But then again, those brussels sprouts were pretty good too. Oh, and the veggie terrine…
I’m sad that my year of Charcutepalooza challenges has come to a close though I’m grateful for the new skills I’ve gained and the community of meat-enthusiasts that I have found. I plan to continue my learning and experimentation. Making my own bacon, grinding and stuffing my own sausage, whipping up a rillettes, just because. And now that I’ve got my curing chamber up and running, cured muscles and sausages are again within my grasp.
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.
Wednesday, September 15th, 2010
As I think back on this summer, I realize that for me, it was all about getting better. I mean that literally of course as I refer to my recovery from ankle surgery. But I also invested quite a bit of time to make myself, my blog and even my cooking better.
Most recently I attended the International Food Blogger Conference which was held right here in Seattle. Two full days (and two evenings) chock full of panels, new (and old) friends and lots of tasty food. My favorite session was an inspirational slide show and talk from photographer Penny De Los Santos. She just made me (and I think everyone else there) want to be better. Because of her, you’ll probably be seeing a few more photo essays on the blog (much like this one from last Saturday) as I self-assign new photography projects for myself.
My other big summer project was a 5-week class series at Cornish College for the Arts called the Art of Food. Here’s the description:
A series of evenings in which different aspects of food + art get explored: food AND art, food AS art, artists and their food practices, food blogging, food as a medium for leading a creative life, food photography, the creative practice of gardening, art + food + sustainability. Participants include author and master forager Langdon Cook, Chef Becky Selengut, “Top Cheftestant” and artist Robin Leventhal, photographer Clare Barboza, food writers Molly Wizenberg and Shauna James Ahern, and Delancey owner and composer/dancer Brandon Pettit.
My favorite weeks were the two that were focused on photography with Clare Barboza and food writing with Molly Wizenberg and Shauna James Ahern. I’ve really been trying to improve my food photography over the last year and it was great to have input from a professional. Here’s a couple of the photos I took at class:
You can see the rest at my Flickr site here.
I also really enjoyed the week focused on food writing. I am always a little nervous about my writing and I am really trying to improve this as well. During the class we read examples of several popular food writers, Frances Lam, Jonathon Gold, MFK Fisher, Laurie Colwin and others. The piece from Laurie Colwin was titled “Tomato Pie” from the book More Home Cooking. It was a beautiful description of a recipe for Tomato Pie.
“I have never yet encountered tomatoes in any form unloved by me. Often at night I find myself ruminating about two previously mysterious tomato dishes, which I was brazen enough to get the recipes for. One is Tomato Pie and is a staple of a tea shop call Chaiwalla, owned by Mary O’Brien, in Salisbury, Connecticut. According to Mary, the original recipe was found in a cookbook put out by the nearby Hotchkiss School, but she has changed it sufficiently to claim it as her own. The pie has a double biscuit-dough crust, made by blending 2 cups flour, 1 stick butter, 4 teaspoons baking powder, and approximately 3/4 cup milk, either by hand or in a food processor. You roll out half the dough on a floured surface and line a 9-inch pie plate with it. Then you add the tomatoes. Mary makes this pie year round and uses first-quality canned tomatoes, but at this time of year 2 pounds peeled fresh tomatoes are fine, too. Drain well and slice thin two 28-ounce can plum tomatoes, then lay the slices over the crust and scatter them with chopped basil, chives, or scallions, depending on their availability and your mood. Grate 1-1/2 cups sharp Cheddar and sprinkle 1 cup of it on top of the tomatoes. Then over this drizzle 1/3 cup mayonnaise that has been thinned with 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and top everything with the rest of the grated Cheddar. Roll out the remaining dough, fit it over the filling, and pinch the edges of the dough together to seal them. Cut several steam vents in the top crust and bake the pie at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes. The secret of this pie, according to Mary, is to reheat it before serving, which among other things ensures that the cheese is soft and gooey. She usually bakes it early in the morning , then reheats it in the evening in a 350 degree oven until it is hot.
It is hard to describe how delicious this is, especially on a hot day with a glass of magnificent iced tea in a beautiful setting, but it would doubtless be just as scrumptious on a cold day in your warm kitchen with a cup of coffee.”
Her description was so lovely that I knew I just had to cook this dish. I made it for brunch for a group of friends (several of whom are, or used to be, fellow personal chefs) and it received rave reviews. Basically the pie was tomatoes, cheddar cheese in a biscuit crust (and really, how could that combo not be good). It was obvious that this recipe was ripe for adaptation.
After the last class (the food photography session), many of the props (read leftover food) were divided among the students that had stayed to help clean up. I ended up with 2 mini cupcakes, one tomatillo, a lime and a bunch of bell peppers and hot peppers. So, after I ate the cupcakes, I decided to get to work on turning the peppers into something delicious. Of course, I would roast the peppers and make a version of that delicious pie.
Here’s the ingredients for the filling:
And for the crust:
I started by roasting the peppers. I roasted mine right over the flame on my gas stove, but they can easily be done on a grill or under the broiler. Just cook the peppers until they are blackened then through them in a covered bowl and let them sit for at least five minutes.
Once they are cool enough to handle the skins will peel right off. Try to keep the seeds out of the peeled pepper pile and no matter how much easier it would make things, do not run the peppers under water or all the roasty-toasty goodness will go right done the drain. Oh yeah, and notice the gloves, gloves are a must when you are seeding really hot peppers (because if you don’t wear gloves you will invariably touch your eye and then pain will ensue).
I cut the bell peppers into strips and then diced the smaller peppers (I wasn’t sure just how hot they were and I didn’t want to end up with a huge bite of “burn your mouth” hot pepper in the finished dish). Then I set this aside to work on the crust.
The crust comes together very easily in a food processor. Just whir together the butter, flour and baking powder until it looks a bit like fine sand. It doesn’t take long, maybe 10 seconds.
I added the milk and then gave it another whir. It will come together as a dough fairly quickly.
At this point I moved the dough to a very well floured work surface. This dough is very sticky so flour is your best friend. Flour your hands, flour the rolling pin, flour the work surface, trust me.
I divided the dough into two halves and rolled one of them out until it is large enough to cover the bottom and sides of the pan. In addition to being sticky, this dough is also very forgiving. Holes can be easily smushed back together.
Once the bottom crust was in the pan I laid in the peppers, the tomatillo (which didn’t add much to the mix so I’ve left it out of the recipe below) half the cheese and the chopped scallions.
I stirred together the juice of a lime and 1/3 cup of mayonnaise and drizzled this over the pie.
Then I added the rest of the cheese and topped the pie with the second half of the biscuit dough, trimmed off the excess dough, pinched together the edges and then cut a few vent holes in the top.
Into the oven (I used my toaster oven) for 25 minutes until the crust was golden brown and delicious and the pie was warm and toasty inside.
While I adored the tomato version of the pie that Laurie Colwin write so beautifully about this version was another lovely take. Sharp from the cheddar and tangy from the lime with a beautifully crisp and tender crust.
My friends who were over for yet another potluck (and belly dancing, but we’re not going to talk about that) all agreed it was delightful as well.
Next up I think a sweet version of this pie is in order. I think berries with goat cheese might be nice but it’s a little past berry season. Maybe plums…
ROASTED PEPPER AND CHEDDAR PIE
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, cut into cubes
2/3 cup milk
4 bell peppers
5-6 jalapenos, serranos or other hot peppers
1 1/2 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
6 scallions, chopped
1/3 cup mayonnaise
juice from one lime
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Roast and peel the peppers and hot peppers. Cut the peppers into strips and dice the hot peppers. Stir together then set aside. In a small bowl or measuring cup stir together the mayonnaise and lime juice.
In the bowl of a food processor pulse together the flour, baking powder and butter (it should resemble dry sand). Add the milk and continue to pulse until the dough come together. Divide the dough into two pieces. On a well-floured surface roll out half the dough and line a 9-inch pie plate with it.
Cover the bottom of the pan with the pepper mixture. Sprinkle on half of the cheese and all of the scallions. Drizzle the mayonnaise mixture evenly over the scallions then sprinkle on the remaining cheese.
Roll out the second half of the dough, lay it on top of the filling, trim off the excess dough and pinch the edges of the dough together to seal them. Cut several slits in the top crust to vent.
Bake the pie for about 25 minutes or until the crust is golden and the filling is warmed through.
Thursday, February 11th, 2010
So I had peppers, I had onions, I had sausage. It seemed like a sausage and pepper sandwich might be in order. But what I didn’t have was bread.
I decided to take the idea and instead make a pasta sauce (because what I did have was a package of fresh pasta).
Here’s the ingredients:
4 hot Italian chicken sausages
1 red bell pepper, seeds removed and sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, seeds removed and sliced
1 onion, peeled and sliced
6 clove garlic, sliced thin (I forgot these in the photo)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
red pepper flakes to taste
2 Tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock, or water (also not pictured as it was a last minute addition)
1 pound fresh fettuccine
6 leaves fresh basil, julienned
grated Parmesan cheese
To start I fired up the grill and cooked the sausages through. Once they were cooked through and then rested for a couple of minutes I sliced them, then set them aside. Now if you are not a winter time griller like me, the sausages could be fried up inside or the sausage could be removed from its casings and browned in the same pan just before adding the peppers.
While the sausages were on the grill, back inside I heated a little olive oil in a large saute pan.
When it was hot, I added the peppers and onions (and I should have added the garlic, but I forgot)…
…and let this cook until the onions were cooked softened and translucent, which took just under 10 minutes.
I added the garlic, oregano and pepper flakes and cooked while stirring for about thirty seconds.
Next I added the tomato paste and cooked this for another minute or so (this caramelizes the tomato paste just a bit, making it sweeter).
Finally I added the white wine and the chicken stock…
…and the cooked sausages…
…and let the whole mixture simmer gently for about fifteen minutes.
While it simmered I cooked the fettuccine according to the package instructions. When it was cooked I drained it, saving a bit of the pasta water and then added the cooked pasta to the sausage mixture. It seemed a little thick so I added a few tablespoons of the reserved pasta water.
I portioned out the mixture onto a couple of plates (with enough left for a hearty lunch) and then sprinkled each with a little basil and Parmesan.
This came out pretty good. Sweet and spicy. The husband picked out all the garlic (without even trying it, hmph) but he said he liked it too. I wouldn’t have minded a few more pepper flakes, but over all I really enjoyed this. It’s definitely going on the to be made again list.
Tuesday, September 1st, 2009
It’s been a few days since my last post. Work has been busy. Life has been busy. Luckily I’m going on vacation tomorrow. Viva Las Vegas!
I made this dish two weekends ago, on a day when I had lots of time to cook. The prep for the meal and the salsa making took place on Saturday, then I was left with a relatively easy meal to finish on Sunday.
I started with a marinade for the steak. I used skirt steak because I was in experimental mode and I haven’t used skirt steak a lot. Flank steak or flat-iron steak would also work.
Here’s the ingredients:
1 lime, juiced
2 Tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
4 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoon cumin
1 pound skirt steak cut across the grain into 1-inch strips
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
I combined all the marinade ingredients in a Ziploc bag, added the steak and tossed the bag in the fridge overnight.
Next I started on the salsa. I had a half-pound of tomatillos still stashed in the crisper from the box two weeks previous (along with three green bell peppers). The next box had three-quarters pound of hatch chilies. I decided to use all of these peppers in my salsa.
Here’s the ingredients:
2 clove garlic
.5 pound tomatillos
2 pounds mixed chilies and green bell peppers (pick peppers based on how hot you want the salsa, mine was pretty mild)
1/2 onion, diced
1 lime juiced
I started by heating up the grill. When it was quite hot I added the chilies and green peppers and left them to char, turning them as each side of the pepper was blackened.
As soon as each pepper was charred on all sides I removed it to a bowl (and then covered the bowl so the peppers could steam).
Once the peppers had cooled a bit, I donned some rubber gloves (this is very important if you don’t want to be in massive pain every time you touch your eyes for the next day) and peeled off the charred skin and removed the stems and seeds.
It is important that, no matter how much easier it would make the process, you not run the peppers under water. This removes too much of the charred, yummy taste. Once I was done, I chopped all the peppers.
Next I got out the food processor. I turned on the blades and tossed in the garlic while it was running (this helps to chop it up). Next I added the tomatillos and processed until the they were ground completely. I put this mixture into a bowl then added the onion, the chopped peppers, lime and a bit of salt.
At this point I set aside some of the salsa for the cilantro-hating husband, then added fresh cilantro to the rest. Then, this went into the fridge so the flavors could marry overnight.
When I was ready to eat the next day, I removed the steak from the marinade and threaded the strips onto several skewers, then grilled them over high heat.
In addition I grilled some green beans (then added a squeeze of lime) and made Cumin-Scented Rice Pilaf (white rice cooked with onion and a bit of cumin).
For the tacos, I set out warm corn tortillas, sour cream, diced avocado and the salsa (and the steak). That way, the husband and I could each put only what we wanted on our own tacos (he doesn’t like avocado on his, I like my rice on the side, not in, the taco).
I loved, loved, loved this salsa. I usually like my salsa more towards the warm side, but, as this was quite mild, I was able to heap lots of it on my tacos, yum. The husband liked it too (but he didn’t rave about it like me). However, on matters of salsa, I tend to discount his opinion a bit because, in general, he doesn’t like salsa.
A couple of days later, I used the rest of the salsa to top scrambled eggs. Also delicious.
All in all the salsa took about 2 1/2 hours to make (the peppers took a long time to peel). Totally worth it for a special occasion, but a little for work than I like to spend on a weeknight meal. I’ll make this again, but only when I’ve got time on my hands…
Thursday, June 25th, 2009
Last week I came home exhausted almost every night. Between my full cooking schedule and the triathlon training, I am felling a little worn out. With the tiredness, I ended up ordering in a bit more than I like so I decided to be proactive and do some extra cooking on Sunday.
Here’s the ingredients:
4 chicken breasts (the meat from a rotisserie chicken would work well here too)
1/2 of a red bell pepper (I used the rest in the shrimp tacos)
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
1 cup of celery, diced
a bunch of grapes, halved
2 spring onions, diced
2 Tablespoon curry powder
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
I started by baking the chicken breasts. I used frozen chicken breasts from Costco that I cooked right from their frozen state (following the instructions on the bag).
While the chicken cooked I prepped the rest of my ingredients and stirred them all together. Once the chicken was cooled I diced it and added it to the mix. Then, into the fridge it went.
On Monday I served this with lettuce leaves, crackers and some cherry tomatoes with olive oil, sea salt and black pepper.
On Tuesday I ate a little for lunch, then the husband ate some for dinner while I was out. Finally the husband finished it off on Wednesday while I was at tri-training (a sure sign that he liked it).
All-in-all, five servings of a really tasty salad, all for less than 30 minutes of active cooking time in the kitchen. I love that I was able to eat and provide a tasty home-made meals with minimal weekday effort. It was like having my own personal chef!
Sunday, June 21st, 2009
Lately I have had a craving for shrimp tacos. There is a local taco place that makes a pretty fair version, but since I am trying to cook more at home I have resisted the urge to get them.
So, when I saw that I would be getting cabbage in my box this week, I decided that this would be a good opportunity to make my own.
Here’s the ingredients.
2 limes, juiced, divided
1 tablespoon adobo sauce
30 or so smallish shrimp
1 cup shredded cabbage
1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
1 mango, julienned
white corn tortillas
I started by marinating the shrimp in half of the lime juice and the adobo sauce (whenever I open a can of chipotles I stick whatever I have left in the can in the freezer, so I almost always have adobo on hand). I set this aside for about 20 minutes.
While the shrimp marinated I worked on the cabbage slaw. I combined the cabbage, red bell pepper and mango along with the juice of 1/2 a lime and a little salt and black pepper, then set it aside.
To grill the shrimp, I skewered them the long way through the entire shrimp so that they would be a bit straighter when they were done.
I sprinkled the shrimp with a little salt then grilled the skewers for about 3 minutes on each side. While the shrimp cooked I warmed the tortillas, wrapped in wet paper towels, in the microwave for 30 seconds.
When everything was ready I created tacos by spreading each tortilla with about a Tablespoon of creme fraiche, a bit of the cabbage slaw and a few shrimp.
How was it? Well, these were quite good. The slaw was maybe a tiny bit too limey but overall really tasty. With a couple of tweaks (less lime, a little more spice) I could see these going on the permanent repertoire.