Saturday, December 22, 2007
Also, for a less festive occasion (but still real good food), use a leftover bread, some leftover chicken or sliced ham, a leftover (or thawed frozen) vegetable… use about 1/3 of the recipe and cook in 5x9 loaf pan.
The Gadget: a scale (digital or not) to figure out quantities.
Asparagus (or Broccoli) and Prosciutto Strata
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
OR ~1 ½ pounds broccoli crowns, use just the florets (1-2 inch pieces)
¾ pound crusty, artisan-style bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (1 loaf or a little less)
3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into ½-inch strips
5 ounces parmesan, asiago, or ramono cheese (or a blend), shredded
½ cup chopped chives
6 large eggs
3 ½ cups milk (2% or whole)
Zest from 1 or 2 lemons
½ teaspoon salt (less if you cheese is particularly salty)
½ teaspoon pepper
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add vegetable of choice and cook until bright green and barely tender, about 2 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.
Oil a 9x13 pan (spray with Pam). Spread half the bread cubes, top with half the prosciutto, vegetable, cheese, and chives. Repeat with remaining bread, prosciutto, vegetable, cheese and chives.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until blended. Add milk, zest, salt and pepper and whisk to blend. Pour evenly over the layered ingredients. Cover and chill at least one hour, overnight is OK.
Pre-heat oven to 350oF. Bake strata uncovered until set and top is lightly browned, 40 to 50 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
One of our favorite places is Napa Valley. Maybe in a little attempt to recapture a bit of Italy (lots of food and wine fanatics), we decided it was time to go (again). December is really a nice time to visit. The crowds are not bad, even on a weekend, and its not difficult getting into restaurants. Everything is nicely decorated for Christmas, with lots of real trees, and not overdone like most anywhere-retail-USA. Yes, the weather can be dicey, but the real rain usually doesn’t start in Northern Cal until January (and then it can be everyday). We were lucky -- it was cool, but the sun came out every day. I actually wore my cashmere sweater. We stayed in a very nice B&B, Sunny Acres, which is located at Salvestrin Winery. This was the first time, in many visits to Napa, that we found lodging that we will definitely stay at again. Its an old Victorian house, nice antiques, great breakfast, and wonderful hosts.
We met up with friends from Grass Valley on Friday for lunch at Redd, one of the trendy places. It was quite good, with interesting soup and salads. For my main, I had quail (which I believe is the latest trendy meat). What can I say? It was good. For dinner we went to Cindy’s Backstreet. It’s more low key, with lots of comfort food on the menu. Roy had meatloaf, I had a duck burger. The burger was OK, but the fries that came with it were really, really good. So good, they make you wonder why you eat the typical frozen things. For lunch on Saturday, we stopped at Greystone. We have been there many times; it’s the restaurant at the CIA (Culinary Institute of American). We both had excellent soups, Roy had butternut soup, they gave us the recipe (starts with 12 pounds of squash, ends with a gallon of cream). I had a quite wonderful ciopino (fish soup). They took my email address, and hoping they send the recipe for this too! My only complaint was the wine list (irony alert - restaurant owned by Wine Spectator); it seemed overpriced for the valley, and the wines by the glass were not too exciting. For dinner on Saturday night, we had originally planned to go to Martini House (high-end tasting menu over top kind of place), but since we both had colds, decided to go for something simple, and had sushi at Go Fish (which is owned by the same Cindy as Cindy’s Backstreet). It was good, and nice that it was walking distance to the B&B. And they had really cool Christmas decorations – silver snowflakes hanging from the ceiling, and pots of narcissus and paperwhites in the windows around the room.
For wineries, we of course visited Salvestrin, as well as Robert Bialli (they just do Zin’s, and buy some of their grapes from Salvestrin), and one other (ok, I can't remember how to spell it, but we will be getting some wine shipped). Plus, we stopped at Trefethen Winery, which is the first winery we visited 15 years ago in December the first time we went to Napa… and got hooked.
I love to get Christmas letters, to hear about what everyone is doing. But, I usually don’t seem to actually do one for myself. So, I thought maybe I will just do a Christmas blog instead!
We have had some wonderful trips this year, the highlight being Italy. I also managed to get back to visit Sharon in New Jersey, and we made a quick trip to Napa Valley. For Christmas, we will be heading to Tucson where the Norman’s will be gathering. (click on the links and you will have pictures and more information than you ever wanted!)
Roy continues to be the car nut, and has recently bought a 41-year old Jaguar. Its very pretty.
I took sabbatical (8-week vacation) this year, and had a chance to spend some time in my studio, as well as take a painting class. I have also started doing Yoga. I am building strength and flexibility for the positions, but still really struggle with the part where you are supposed to relax and not think of anything (typically, my mind is drifting towards lunch). After getting back from sabbatical, I had come to the conclusion that I needed to move on, fortunately Marvell downsized and gave me a nice package! So I’m back on sabbatical, but need to decide what next.
My most surprising accomplishment (at least to me) is blogging, taking time to reflect and write about things I have done or read. This is post #72 (since February when I started). Its nice to be able to share with friends and family food ideas, or books they might like to read (or not). I even like the writing part, striving to be concise but witty (and thankful for spell checkers). I just hope that all of you like to read it as much as I like to write!
May you have a wonderful Christmas, enjoying all the good things that come with the season.
P.S. Please keep the comments coming, it’s good to hear your thoughts and feedback! (its not hard, you can make up any name you want, and only I get to see your email address). And it you want to get the entries via email, just subscribe (and I just know how many subscribers I have, not who). You can un-subscribe any time!
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Macaroni and Cheese
I like that you don’t need to cook the macaroni separately. No need to clean the food processor between jobs.
1 ounce (about a 1x1 cube) Parmesan cheese
1 slice of bread
½ a medium-large onion
4 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
1 carton 1% cottage cheese
1 ½ cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon dry mustard
pinch of cayenne
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ pound uncooked elbow macaroni
Preheat the oven to 375oF. Prepare a 9-inch square baking pan with a light coating of Pam.
Grate cheese in food processor with blade. Tear bread in large chunks, add to cheese and process until bread is turned into medium crumbs. Pour into small bowl and set aside. Using shredding disk, grate the cheddar cheese and onion. Place in large mixing bowl.
Using blade, process the cottage cheese, buttermilk, and spices until smooth. Place in bowl with onion and cheddar cheese. Add macaroni to bowl and stir. Pour into prepared baking pan. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture over top.
Bake for about 45 minutes, until the toping is browned and the center is firm. Let sit for a few minutes then serve.
Saturday, December 1, 2007
I loved the writing style used, it was very matter of fact and understated. It was mainly based on letters that Julia and Paul wrote over the years, mostly to Paul’s brother. The co-author is Julia's nephew, who worked with Julia and finished after her death. What treat it must have been for him to learn the history of his family. Much of the book is about Paul (her husband). You don't hear much about him, but he introduced Julia to French cooking, and through the years contributed everything from drawings for her books to behind the scenes support for her TV appearances.
Somehow history seems more real when seen from different views. One character in Life in France, Curnonsky, was a journalist who reviewed some wonderful feasts (and passed himself off as a prince), and at some point was just invited to eat at the best restaurants when ever he wanted, seemed to be one of the eccentric characters from Suite Francoise who seemed to do nothing but eat.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Let me know what makes the perfect Thanksgiving meal for you!
Creamy Winter Squash Gratin
2 teaspoons butter
2 cups thinly sliced leek (about 2 large)
1 teaspoon salt
3 ½ cups 1% milk
1/3 cup flour
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Gruyere cheese
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 (1 oz) slices bread
2 teaspoons fresh chopped parsley
Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and salt, cook 4 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Combine milk and flour, stirring well with a whisk. Add milk mixture to pan, bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add cheese, pepper, and nutmeg, stir until cheese melts. Gently stir in squash. Spoon mixture into a 2-quart baking dish coated with a cooking spray.
Do ahead: prepare the gratin a day ahead and refrigerate, store the bread crumb topping separately. Let sit for a while at room temperature, add crumbs, then bake at 400o for 30 minutes or until brown.
Cranberry Sauce not from A Can
I think the cinnamon and vanilla really make this special (not to mention the lack of a tin-can taste), I always use tangerine juice since we just start getting them about this time)
Cooking Time: About 15 min.
Prep Time: About 5 min.
Makes: 3 1/2 cups, about 12 servings (about as much as two cans)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup tangerine juice
(or use orange juice with a tablespoon of lemon juice added)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla
Put everything except vanilla in a saucepan, and over high heat bring to simmering. Turn down heat, and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until cranberries are tender (lots of them pot open), about 10 minutes.
Stir in vanilla, let cool. Serve, or chill airtight up to 1 week.
Monday, November 12, 2007
One of my endeavors during sabbatical was taking a mixed media art class at the Desert Botanical Gardens. They have a very serious botanical illustration program, with drawing, pen and ink, and watercolor classes. Mixed Media was a new class, to combine pen and ink with watercolor. The instructor was intending this as an advanced class, expecting the students to have taken the pen and ink and water color classes as prerequisites. She was a bit unprepared when most of us in the class had little if any experience. Fortunately, she quickly switched gears, and did a great job … in the end, everyone had some very nice pieces. Her background was doing medical illustration, and she patiently taught us how to dip our pens, draw a line, as well has how to use watercolors. However, She did not have any patience for non-artist quality materials, and started us with a pricey list of materials. I have now fallen for sable brushes, and today figured they how well they work well for doing a little oxide line work on my pots!
I’m really glad I took the class, I have a much better feeling for a few more more techniques, I might get to the point someday where my drawings have some level of accuracy(!), and have found that good watercolors are really pretty fun to use. I was really surprised how quick you can get the colors down, but found that just like pottery, there are times you just have to stop, to let things dry out properly… because it can go bad very, very quickly. Now to just get my studio arranged to support both pots and paints!
Monday, November 5, 2007
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
After many years of talking about it, we finally made the trek (with the dog) out to Boyce Thompson. It is about 60 miles east on Hwy 60, just before you get to the town of Superior. There is a loop trail (a little over a mile) which runs around the arboretum, which takes you through the cactus gardens, rose garden, herb garden, and what I thought to be most unusual, the Eucalyptus garden, which has 80 year old (i.e. really big) trees for the middle of the desert.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Sunday, October 28, 2007
So, I will just start by saying, yes, I went to New Jersey for fun. My sister in law lives there, in Hunterdon County (which is on the Pennsylvania side of the state), and I was way overdue for a visit. We had a great time… spent an inordinate amount of time eating, with museum visits, hiking, massages, kayaking, and top-down Miata driving fit in between. Click here for some pictures.
On Friday, we headed to “the city”, where we visited the Museum of Modern Art. We had secured reservations at The Modern for lunch, which is right next door (and it fact, you don’t even need to leave the museum, quite convenient). There we started with Champagne, Foie Gras Torchon with muscat gelée and Pumpkin, Couscous and Chestnut Soup with ricotta salata and spiced crème fraîche. Both were great, the fois gras was wonderful and creamy, the pumpkin soup had all sorts of interesting things mixed in. For mains I had Beer Braised Pork Belly with sauerkraut and ginger jus and she had Gaeta Olive-Crusted Quail with chorizo, barley, toasted almonds and pickled ramps. Both were good, but the quail was better, tender and well matched to the accompanying couscous and sauce. To go with, we had glasses of Pinot Noir. Desert was Apple Strudel for her, and a Chocolate dome (over Pistachio filling) for me. And some port. The museum seemed even more interesting after lunch. By the time we were done at the MOMA, it was raining, but we braved a walk to Ideal Cheese, where we loaded up on some stinky cheese, a salami, and fig jam.. not planning to let our eating standards to go down hill!
The weather continued to get warmer, so kayaking seemed to be the best thing for the last day of the visit. We went to Round Valley Reservoir and did some paddling. This was followed by a visit to a different farm stand, where they not only had tomatoes (we were out), but Macoun apples and local pork products. The afternoon was a drive along the Delaware River, lunch at the Stockton Inn (OK, but not the Frenchtown Inn), then a drive back on the Pennsylvania side. Dinner (again, out on the deck) was country-style sage sausage, grilled vegetables, salad (more yummy tomatoes), with a delightful Ponzi Pinot, and the rest of the apple crisp for desert.
As I was writing this, it was 48 degrees and raining in New Jersey. We had 3 dinners and 3 lunches (in 4 days) outside, glad I didn’t put the trip off any longer!
Friday, October 26, 2007
My latest adventure in grilling has been pizza’s on the BBQ. Pizza has become yet another way to use up odds and ends of cheese, vegetables, and cured meat at our house (along with pasta, salads and soup). But it does heat up the kitchen in the summer (the A/C can keep up with baking most things, but not a 475F oven). And its not great for doing more than one or two since they take 12 minutes each to cook. I was considering buying a grill pizza stone from Williams-Sonoma, but after checking on the Chowhound board, it seemed possible to cook right on the grill. So I started to experiment…first on my self (lunch at home… I love this sabbatical thing, the loud crying you hear on Nov 5 will be me going back to work), then Roy, then on unsuspecting relatives in New Jersey… where I made 6.
1. Get your toppings ready.. have by the grill when you start to cook. On toppings… I usually use olive oil (no tomato-based sauce, but you can), some herbs (like basil), a “melting cheese” (think mozzarella or fontina) plus a flavor cheese (parmesan or goat or peccorino), plus a couple toppings of choice… salami, onions, eggplant, bell pepper, olives, sliced tomatoes, mushrooms. The important thing is not too much or too many toppings. Too much and the bottom is burnt before the top is done, too many and the bottom burns before you are done getting toppings on (but… if you really want 6 different things or are just slow, you can take the pie off grill, put on the toppings, and then back on).
2. Roll the dough thin, going for a 12 – 14 “ pizza. Don’t worry about perfection, square-ish pieces fit better on the grill. When you are done, roll onto a piece of parchment paper to help support the dough to get it on the grill. If you are doing multiples, just stack them up.
3. The grill should be at medium / medium high depending (good and hot, but not nuclear hot).
4. Flop a piece of dough directly on the grill (no need to oil, but you can), peel off paper, close the lid, and wait 3 minutes. You can do 2 at time.
5. Check to make sure the bottom is nicely brown, then flip the dough with tongs (it has enough structure by this point to do easily). Brush with olive oil, add herbs, cheese, toppings. Close the lid, cook for another 4 minutes or so. Its done when the bottom is brown and cheese melted… it the cheese is not melted, its done anyway if the bottom is brown. Pull the pizza off (tongs work) on to a plate or tray. Slice and eat!
Figure 1 pizza per person it they are hungry… less for polite eaters or if there is lots of other food.
Pizza Dough. Cook pizza at 475 F. This also is good for calzone’s.
1 teaspoon sugar
1 ¼ cup warm water (105 – 115 oF)
3 1/3 cup flour (ok to replace up to 1 cup with whole wheat flour)
1 ½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for bag
Note: Dough freezes well. Put ½ of dough in quart baggies (coated w/ oil) and freeze. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, let sit out ~ ½ hour before using. It will also keep in the refrigerator for several days.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Sunday, October 14, 2007
1 medium garlic clove
¼ cup olive oil
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
½ teaspoon salt
Several grinds of pepper
12 medium mushrooms (about 6 ounces), trimmed
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 ½ inch squares
Lime Quarters (optional)
This chicken always comes out nice and moist -- a good one to fix for company (especially since you have to think ahead a little bit to marinate the chicken). Of course, you don't have to marinate overnight, 20 minutes works. It comes out best if you use at least half fresh herbs.
1 tablespoon fresh minced thyme (or 1 teaspoon dry)
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh minced sage (or 1/2 teaspoon dry)
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh minced rosemary (or 1/2 teaspoon dry)
3/4 teaspoon fresh minced marjoram (or 1/4 teaspoon dry)
3 tablespoons fresh minced parsley
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon, cut into wedges (garnish)
Vegetable Rice Salad
This salad goes great with chicken or grilled fish. Fine to use leftover rice.
1 cup of rice (raw), cooked per package directions
1/2 cup olive oil
6 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt, more to taste
Freshly ground pepper
Possible options: Bell Pepper, cucumber, carrots, celery, green onions, sweet onions, sugar or snap peas, or thawed frozen peas, broccoli, zucchini, tomatoes
1/4 cup minced parsley or other mild herb
Cook rice and cool to room temperature in a large bowl. Mix dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Mix vegetables together the rice, then add enough dressing to moisten. Taste and add more salt or lemon juice if needed.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Saturday, September 29, 2007
1 cup minced onion
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
½ cup white wine
2 cups vegetable (asparagus, winter squash, mushrooms, etc)
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
¼ cup parmesan cheese
Using a wooden spoon to avoid breaking the grains, add the rice and stir until it is well coated with oil. Add the wine. When it is absorbed (it won’t take long) ladle in the ½ cup of the hot stock stirring frequently until the rice has absorbed the liquid. The heat should be at a low boil. Continue to add ½ cup at a time, for 2 –3 minutes between each addition, until a about half the broth has been used.
Add the vegetables. Continue adding ½ cup of broth every few minutes for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until the rice is tender but firm (most all of the stock will be used). The consistency should be creamy, not dry or soupy. Remove from heat, stir in the nutmeg and cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste (it might not need any salt, depends on the broth, also the cheese is salty) and serve. If desired, finish with some finely chopped fresh herbs, such as thyme, parsley, and / or chives.
Friday, September 14, 2007
The book is written by Julie Powell, about her 1 year self-imposed challenge to cook everything in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of Fine Cooking. The project was motivated by feeling stuck in her job (a low level drone in a government office) as well as rebellion towards the whole Alice Waters, locovore, trendy foodie things. I instantly connected with the author – she was a Buffy the Vampire fan (the blog was going on during the last season), found the act of preparing food very sensual, and was trying to figure out what to do next with her life. The book is very entertaining, mixing stories about Julie Child and stories of her own family in with the trials of cooking the recipes (including treks to find bone marrow, brains and other offal). Her husband Eric is portrayed as a saint, her friends are nuts. Its fun to read.
But what really struck me was not the challenge of cooking, but the blogging. In addition to cooking every recipe, she blogged about everything she cooked. I went on-line and looked at some of the blogs. She blogged almost every day, and not just “I checked Filets to Poisson en Souffle off the list, didn’t puff but tasted good”… no, she went into details about procuring the ingredients, the moods of her husband, her cats, occasional Buffy references, how the food was prepared, what worked, what tasted good, and what didn’t. And it was entertaining… she had a huge following (after a while, she set up a way people could donate money to help buy lamb and more butter to keep the project going – and they did). She never talks about the challenges of blogging in the book.. things I find really hard, like making it witty (but not contrived), not offending others (however, that New York thing probably helps here), how personal to get, making a good story but not going on and on, punctuation and grammar good enough to make it readable. It has a happy ending, she found her real calling as a writer.
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
If you don't have any basil plants (next year... they are pretty enough to grow instead of flowers), try either the farmers market or Trader Joes to get big quantities for pesto.
Pesto: The full fledged recipe.
Makes 2 cups.
3 - 4 cloves of garlic
2 cups fresh basil leaves, washed and patted dry (packed fairly tightly)
½ to 1 cup walnuts or pine nuts
~ 3/4 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 - 4 cloves of garlic
2 cups fresh basil leaves, washed and patted dry (packed fairly tightly)
½ cup olive oil (or just enough to get a thick paste)
Pasta with Pesto:
Cook 1 lb. of Linguine. Meanwhile, mix 2 tablespoons pasta water, ¼ cup cream (or use all milk), 1 cup pesto. Drain pasta, return to pan, add pesto mix and toss.
Serve immediately, with more pepper and cheese.
Rice with Pesto:
Add a big spoon full of pesto to cooked white rice.
Spread pesto on slices of French bread, broil/toast until bubbly.
What to do with freezer pesto:
Throw a frozen quarter chunk into a batch of spaghetti sauce.
Thaw, mix with a can of tomato sauce and use for pizza sauce.
Thaw, mix with a little more olive oil and use for pizza sause
Throw a frozen quarter chunk into rice that’s almost done.
Throw a frozen chunk to a big pot of soup that’s almost done.
Saturday, July 7, 2007
Yesterday I went down to my folks to help with fish butchering, my Dad and brothers were back from a 5-day fishing trip out of San Diego with a bunch of large fish – mostly Albacore, but some Bluefin Tuna and Yellowtail too. You’ve gotta love a family who likes to get together with big sharp knives. We tried a new way to skin the albacore (which was demonstrated on the boat by the cook), which was pretty quick, but usually took off a chunk of the belly meat. I have heard that on some fish (like Salmon), the belly is the best part, so we decided to cut off the chunk and save it was kind of thin and small for cooking. My idea was to make fish burgers from it, my brother was thinking a doing some kind of a quick sear on it like he does with bluefin. Everyone else just thought we were nuts (but had the biggest knives). Anyway, I did make fish burgers with the belly meat when I got home (with a large cooler full of fish, nicely vacuum packed), and they turned out quite yummy.
The more: we spent last weekend in Colorado Springs (where the daily high temperatures were lower than lows in Phoenix) with wonderful friends who also love to cook and eat, and dish which got the most raves was crab cakes. Which are the more famous cousins of fish burgers. We had with a bit of mango salsa. Yum yum. Both recipes are below.
One note, there is a trick on cooking both of these (which had very similar consistency before going into the pan): you need to flip once. You need to very carefully peak to see if they are brown on the bottom. A well seasoned pan, or non-stick skillet is another must. Good eating!
Also – does anyone have any experience buying crab in Phoenix? I am sure that AJ’s and Whole Foods must carry it, but have never seen it (maybe because I haven’t looked) at the fish counter.
1 ½ teaspoon olive oil
¼ cup chopped onion
¼ cup minced red bell pepper
1 lb tuna, chopped in ¼ inch or smaller dice
1 egg, lightly beaten
2-3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste (go easy on the salt, the mustard is already pretty salty)
2 – 3 tablespoons olive oil
Start with making a fruit salsa… see the next recipe, mango salsa, or your favorite (you might even be able to find one pre-made, but it only takes a few minutes to put one together, especially since you are already chopping onion and bell pepper).
Saute the onion and bell pepper until soft in the smaller about of oil (use a large pan, you will use again to cook the burgers). Transfer to a medium bowl, and let cool. Add the fish, mustard, egg, parsley, a bit of salt and some pepper. Mix with a wooden spoon. Put a piece of plastic wrap on a place, form 4 patties on the wrap, and cover with more plastic. Refrigerate for an hour (or at least 20 minutes, I suspect they will hold together better if let sit longer). To cook, heat a nice layer of olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Pan fry, flipping once, until each side is lightly brown and crispy (about 4 minutes per side).
Serve on buns, with lettuce, and salsa, I like a little mayo too.
Pineapple (or plum) Salsa
1 cup chopped Pineapple or plum
¼ cup finely chopped onion (green or sweet are good)
¼ cup chopped red bell pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 teaspoons minced ginger
Mix all together in a glass or ceramic bowl, refrigerate (best if sits for an hour or so, this will hold for a couple of days). Next day – good with chips, in a salad with some goat cheese, etc.
Crab Cakes (see hear for original and reviews)Adopted from The Barefoot Contessa
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup small diced red onion (1 small onion)
1 1/2 cups small diced celery (4 stalks)
1/2 cup small diced red bell pepper (1 small pepper)
1/2 cup small diced yellow bell pepper (1 small pepper)
1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (recommended: Tabasco)
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons crab boil seasoning (recommended: Old Bay)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound lump crabmeat, drained and picked to remove shells
1/2 cup plain dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten for frying
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup olive oil
Thursday, July 5, 2007
What really impressed me was Alice Waters, and how the author brought you a feeling really knowing her, warts and all. Of course I knew of her, have at least one of her cookbooks, and knew that she is considered the "Mother of California Cuisine". This book walks you through what she has done, how she has really changed the culinary landscape (literally... small farmers, organic, local). But what was really interesting to me was how she did it. She had a great skill: knowing what tasted good, and how to get something to taste just right. That skill, combined with passion and energy was able to lead profound changes to what we eat in good restaurants (and some of us, at home), without things like good public speaking skills or people management skills. She knew what she wanted, but often could not clearly articulate a vision. She was not good a public speaker, was horrible about managing money, did not give others credit where credit was due, and many, many times let others "save" her when things were going the wrong direction. She is profoundly talented to react to what she saw or tasted. She led in a way that only a women could. And I suspect, in a way that was more possible 30 years ago than today. But fortunately, she has both established herself and matured. She has re-focused her energy on kids, and providing an environment where they can learn what is good about food.
The other wonderful thing about this book is the descriptions from Alice on how to cook things. Not recipes per se, but how something should look and feel, how to go about cooking something marvelous and simple.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
I can’t say I am happy with these photo’s, I think that what worked a few months ago (shooting the pictures outside in the shade) is not working with the summer sun, especially with shiny glazes. It was interesting to notice that most all them have their legs crossed the same direction (something I never noticed until I was sorting through bad pictures, and using positions of legs and arms to figure out which was which). I’m open to suggestions on getting better pictures.
Let me know what you like!
Friday, June 15, 2007
The good news is they are going to try to go all summer at the Ahwatukee farmers market. It’s on Sunday, and they are now starting at 8am. The find for the last couple of weeks has been mango’s, the really good kind. There are two types of Mangos (ok, there are probably more than that, but I’ll stick to what I know). First are the ones you find in grocery stores, what I know as Mexican mangos. They have been bred to ship well, and are pretty good if you let them ripen (these will go from green to a pretty rose/gold shade when ripe) but tend to be a bit fibrous. The other kind of mangos, the really good kind, are Philippine mangos. I first had them in Manila (when I had to go there periodically for work, I tried to go in February, which is when mango’s are in season and before the summer monsoon’s hit). These mango’s are generally a little smaller, more yellow (no red color at all), and really sweet and juicy, not fibrous… in fact, you can cut them with a tableknife (the sharpest knife they will leave in the hotel room). And they have had them for the last couple of weeks at the farmers market. I am not sure what the season is in Phoenix, but glad they are growing them!
Mangos are a bit tricky to eat. You need to peel them, they are somewhat slimy once the peel is off, and they have a strange flat seed inside. Here is how to be a mango master (this works for either kind of mango): After washing the mango, hold it in your hand with stem end up, and you will notice that its wider in one direction. With a paring knife, starting at the middle of the top, slice down with the knife running across the widest dimension. Once you are through the skin, you will hit the seed. Let the knife go either right or left, and slice down along the seed, you should just feel the seed with the knife. Cut all the way through so half is cut off. Repeat for the other side. You will be left with a slice from the middle that’s about ¼ inch or a little wider. Next, pick up a half, and gently make criss-cross cuts, in the size you want (small, like a ¼ inch for salsa, closer to an inch to just eat). Just push on the skin and turn inside out, and scoop off with a spoon. There is a bit of fruit you can still get off the seed, cut off the skin, and then cut the remaining fruit from the edge (maybe a ¼ inch or so). That’s it.
Mangos are good with ice cream or just to eat straight, but I really like Mango Salsa. Its great with grilled fish or chicken, with chips or on sandwich, or dumped into a salad (with a simple lemon juice and olive oil dressing). Here is a recipe to try, feel free to adjust to your taste! It will keep for several days.
1 Mango (preferably a Philippine mango), diced (¼ inch)
2 green onions, thinly sliced
¼ to ½ a bell pepper (yellow or red), diced
¼ teaspoon chili power*, or a bit of finely minced Jalapeño (to taste -- going for a mild heat)
About 1/4 teaspoon cumin
Pinch of salt
Juice of ~ ½ a small lemon
Mix everything together, adjust sal t, chile, and lemon to taste. Best if done a couple of hours ahead of time, and this will keep for several day’s.
* I have been using a green chili powder from Native seed search which is quite yummy (thanks Barb!)
Monday, June 11, 2007
There is also a very nice, very purple bowl (do you like purple,,, it can be yours!), and one pretty cool vessel (one with some attitude), and another that looks good in the herb garden (maybe it will need to find a permanent home there…)
There was one more vase in the firing, which is back in the kiln now… I am trying to slump some glass on it. Also trying to decide if this is the fate of “Ghostly”… I originally planned to add some glass as well, but liked it too much to do an experiment.
Let me know what you think... if there is something you like, let me know!