Monday, January 13, 2014

Happy New Year?

-->


The New Year is not that new but I am usually slow to step up and acknowledge change. Who is still putting 2013 on their checks? Oh wait - maybe the real question is who is still writing checks in 2014?

But I digress. Really this post is about the New Year. So, I am going on record saying that I do not have any resolutions, list of goals, or self-improvement plans, because mostly they only serve to make me look back and feel bad about myself.

Last year I had this plan-announced on this very blog that I would try a new recipe each WEEK and report back on how it went.  All you have to do is scroll to 2013 and see there are three postings-that’s it. Where did the good intentions go? Why didn’t I or couldn’t I keep up with this goal I had set for myself? I can only answer with - life showed up and I went ahead and lived it.

I actually did make some pretty awesome new dishes in the New Year. When I saw something tasty at the farmer’s market or I had too much of something growing in my backyard I came up with recipes- some failed - others were brilliant. I enjoyed it with family and friends. I learned to bake this incredible bread in Italy (thank you, Teri) and wound up making it every morning for a gang of 16. I learned how to cook with cocoa nibs, coconut oil, and goat shanks. I bought four flats of tomatoes from McClendon Farms and learned how to can the most incredible roasted tomatoes. I even made homemade tomato juice. I also decided to start making my own muesli after paying 8 bucks for a small box of it at Whole Foods.
All undocumented (except for the bread image by Saskia Jorda who went to The ItalyWorkshop with us in 2013)

What I’m trying to get around to saying is life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans. (John Lennon) I read this today-from a post on Brain Pickings (which is genius) and it really resonated with me.

To understand music, you must listen to it. But so long as you are thinking, “I am listening to this music,” you are not listening.


I’m signing off now-to have me a big slice of my life. Hope you are digging into your own fabulous guilt free life with gusto and joy.

Happy New Year.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Week # 2 Recipe Challenge- Olive Oil Cake

Admittedly, I am not a great baker. It seems I am incapable of looking at a recipe of any kind and sticking to it. I always want to change or add something which is a good thing (mostly) in cooking but not so much in baking.
I decided to follow this recipe from Chow and see what happens when you actually follow directions.
Well folks-guess what? I would change a few things. If you decide to make it I would add more zest maybe even twice as much and also add a teaspoon of almond extract. The taste from the Amaretto is not quite enough almond flavor for me.
That being said, we really enjoyed this dense, barely sweet, rustic cake with our afternoon coffee.

BTW-the preserved lemons are looking good, happily marinating in their salty sweet juice. A few more weeks and I think they will be ready to sample.....

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Week # 1-Recipe Challenge-Preserved Lemons

It's the end of the citrus season and we have been feasting on tangelos, grapefruits, and lemons from our trees in the backyard for most of the winter. I've been so lucy-goosey with the lemons, not thinking about the inevitable days of summer when I will actually have to pay dearly for one average size lemon. So, in an attempt to relish the last remaining fruits, I decided to try preserving the lemons.
I first tried preserved lemons at North in a short ribs and gnocchi dish. "What is this fabulous lemony, salty/sweet goodness nestled amidst the meat and pasta? " I asked the waiter. He had no clue so he asked the chef and I was told it was a preserved lemon. I have since become somewhat educated on the use of the lemons, particularly in tangines, which is a cooking vessel and a dish that is best known as a meaty stew with vegetables. I read over numerous recipes online trying to gather enough information to just wing it. I decided on a version of Thomas Keller's recipe that uses not only salt but sugar.
So here's what I did.....

Preserved Lemons

Fresh unwaxed lemons
sea salt
turbindao sugar

Cut the lemons into thick slices ( or quarter) mix an equal amount of salt and sugar ( I started with 1/4 cup of each) and dip the slices into the mixture. Start layering the slices and as you layer push them down-this will release the juices. The container should be filled with the liquid. If it is not, you can add extra lemon juice. Mine was filled so I didn't have to. Let sit out for 3 days, turning the jar over once in a while. Then put in the fridge for several weeks. In colder climates. I guess you can leave them out in a pantry.

They need to cure so I'll get back to you on how they taste and fare in various dishes.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Food glorious food!


Food images courtesy of Smitten Kitchen
 So, okay, I do obsess about food and I promise this is not going to be a blog only about food. Promise.
A recent house guest asked me if there was any food item I didn't like and I couldn't think of one thing. Now allow me to clarify. The food needs to be fresh, made with loving care and attention to flavor. But, I will eat anything if it is prepared well. Insects are not on the list but I don't consider them food, at least not for me.
Over the years I have collected hundreds of recipes. Recipes like, Falling in Chocolate, Preserved lemons, Garlicky Kale & Spinach dip, and on and on....
I get weekly temptations from Chowhound, Smitten Kitchen, Tasting Table so, I am giving myself a project. I will try one new recipe a week from my existing collection.
Wish me luck!



Monday, March 18, 2013

We love citrus

The tangelos are quite tart this year

We had a bumper crop of lemons, grapefruit and tangelos this year. I have made more lemonade this year! Here's a great recipe for cucumber lemonade-

Cucumber Lemonade

2 cups freshly squeezed lemons
2-3 cups water with 1/4 to 1/2 cup honey
1-2 english cucumbers pureed in a blender

Melt the honey in the water and add it to the lemon juice. From there you will want to adjust the sweetness and intensity. If it's too tart add more honey and/or water. Too sweet? add more water.
I like mine pretty intense. Add the cucumber puree to taste.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A flat of tomatoes




I have been lusting after the flats of Compari tomatoes at Mc Clendon's booth at the farmer's market for several years now. It never seems to be the right timing but last week I decided to go for it!
Here's the fruits of my labors and here's the recipes:

Fresh Tomato Sauce
( this is adpated from a Marcella Hazan  recipe)

10 pounds of tomatoes quartered
3-4 sweet Vadalia onions ( or 10-12 cippolini)
1.5 to 2 sticks butter ( can substitute some of this with olive oil but not all-the butter gives it an amazing flavor-duh)
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 cups fresh cut basil

Put all ingredients in a large pot and boil then simmer for 3-5 hours.
Using an immersion blender, break up the remaining bits. Add fresh basil at the end. Do not cook after adding basil.
I like to add fresh basil on top of the finished dish as well with some Parmesan cheese.

Roasted Tomatoes

Small cherry tomatoes or Compari tomatoes
olive oil
garlic salt and pepper

Put the tomatoes on a cookie sheet. If the tomatoes are larger than a cherry tomato, cut in half and place the cut side up. Toss the tomatoes with olive oil and crushed garlic. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. bake at about 400 degrees until the tomatoes are a bit charred.

These are fabulous to have on hand. They last for weeks. I add them to everything-
sandwiches
salads
eggs
pizza
bruschetta

Friday, March 1, 2013

Chartreuse Delight


 It's been almost one year since I last posted on this blog. Where has the time gone? More on that later....
For now, here's one of my latest joys: raw juicing. I know, I know I'm late to the trend (nothing new there) and I'm not a zealot. In fact, I have a wee bit of cynicism for those leaping on the bandwagon. But, each time I pour (then drink) these nectars of the gods, I become more of a believer. It's never the same any day of the week. It starts with what's in my fridge. Lately I have been cultivating certain taste profiles that I particularly like. Here's a recipe for what I made today (pictured).

Here's to your health!

Chartreuse Delight

1 tangelo
2 gala apples ( small)
1 stalk fennel with fronds
1 handful beet greens
1 golden beet
1 small piece ginger
1 wedge lemon with the rind