Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Braised Pork Ribs

It's that time of year again. The time when it's cold (for Houston), and the time when I'm finishing up yet another semester. One more to go to complete the master's program before I start the PhD. Woo! This time of year brings the crock pot front and center in my life since it lends itself well to getting me fed when I have no time to cook, and also because it usually results in yummy soups, braised foods, and stuff like that. This recipe was born out of a need to feed myself, DH, DD and my Old English partner as we finalized our translation of Judith. I had mostly expected this food to be decent but it was quite a lot better than I expected and will be going into the "no time to cook!" rotation. Hope you enjoy!

2 pounds boneless pork ribs
1-2 cups each: carrots cut into 1" pieces, celery cut into 1" pieces, chopped red onion
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
8 ounces water or beer (I used water; beer is for bread)
1 tablespoon each: parsley, thyme, marjoram
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all in the crock pot, cover and turn onto high heat. Come back in 6-8 hours and dig in!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Honey and Juniper Stewed Crab Apples

I'm taking Old English right now and really enjoying the class. To celebrate the language and culture of the West Saxons, I decided I should bring some Saxon foods to class (I decided this a month or so ago but am actually doing it tomorrow). I had a lot of research to do because I wanted it to be as authentic as possible. Originally I planned to do sloe berries or plums, but that didn't really pan out. And then I saw some crab apples at the store and I got pretty excited because that's way better than plums and an equally appropriate choice (more so if you consider the season). I made some farmer's cheese and some sweet butter, and saved the whey and buttermilk to also bring to class. And then I worked on getting down a good bread that seemed to fit the descriptions I'd read. Lastly, the fruit. Can't have this type of snack or meal without fruit, right? I made everything mostly without modern conveniences, which means I cooked this over a fire. Unless you're just interested in cooking over a fire, this is fine for the stove top, although it won't get exact same smoke element. I think this can be fixed if you plunk in a couple drops of liquid smoke. But don't quote me on it.

I labeled this as vegetarian and vegan since it depends on your philosophy about vegan food and honey.

Anyway, This took a while to cook over the cooler part of the fire and I imagine it'll take a while on the stove as well if you want to do it really slowly to let the apples get soft and the flavors to meld. Hope you enjoy!

3/4 pound crab apples, cored and diced (but not peeled)
3/4 cup each: water, honey
5 juniper berries
pinch salt

Fire directions:

Put all the ingredients in a cast iron skillet, small Dutch oven, or similar. Put over the cool side of the fire and let cook about an hour to an hour and a half, until the water has pretty much cooked out and the honey and juices are tacky but not stiff. Carefully remove and discard juniper berries. Serves 2 if you're eating as much as I'd like to be, or up to 15 if you're using it just to spread on a slice of bread.

Stove directions:

Put all the ingredients in a saucepan, cast iron skillet, small Dutch oven, or similar. Turn burner onto medium-low and let cook about an hour to an hour and a half, until the water has pretty much cooked out and the honey and juices are tacky but not stiff. Carefully remove and discard juniper berries. Serves 2 if you're eating as much as I'd like to be, or up to 15 if you're using it just to spread on a slice of bread.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Venetian Hot Chocolate

I need to start this post by saying that the quantities are approximate. I mostly eye-balled this, with only a desire for delicious, thick, rich, almost pudding-like and slightly bitter hot chocolate in the Venetian style. This is what I got, and I'm really pleased. It's a very serious hot chocolate, with no whipped cream, marshmallows or frivolity. It's just good. It coats the tongue and burns slightly because I'm too impatient to let it cool enough. For me, it's what I need on a chilly evening. Especially with the risotto that doesn't seem to want to get done fast enough (always the problem with risotto I suppose). So, here y'all go - hope you enjoy!

1/2 cup cream
2 cups milk
1/8 cup vanilla sugar (or regular granulated)
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 - 1 1/2 cups grated chocolate or chocolate chips

Put all the ingredients in a small saucepan and put on the stove over medium heat. Heat until it starts to simmer slightly. Whisk continuously until it is thick and looks like it would be pudding if you added cornstarch. Serve with or without whipped cream (I go without). Serves 2 if you're greedy like I am, or 4 if you're normal with your hot chocolate.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Pumpkin and Chocolate Chip Waffles

I'd been craving waffles in the craziest of ways lately, but I didn't have an iron and I didn't really want to get one since I hate having "unitaskers" in my kitchen. Finally I decided that I could get an iron, but only if I made waffles at least twice a week. So that's been happening. As an added bonus, it turns out that Ilana really likes waffles (hard to believe she eats solid foods now) so once she's on three meals a day, waffles will be her weekday breakfast since it only takes seven minutes from the moment you start mixing the batter until the first waffle or two is out of the iron. This variety of waffles happened because she doesn't like white pumpkin (she does like yellow pumpkin) and so I have a bunch of white pumpkin puree that needs to be used up (she'll eat her pumpkin if it's in waffles, though). The chocolate chips were added since Ross has been munching on them by the handful recently. Hope you enjoy!

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons brown sugar (unpacked)

1 cup each: milk, cream
4 eggs
1/2 cup (or up to 1 cup) pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted and cooled
1/2-3/4 cups chocolate chips

Whisk together the first group of ingredients. Whisk together the second group of ingredients, then add to the dry group. Fold in melted butter, then the chocolate chips. Put the amount of batter recommended by your manufacturer's directions in the waffle iron and cook. Repeat until all the batter is used. Makes about 8 Belgian waffles. Serve with syrup and a light sprinkle of powdered sugar.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Roasted Marrow Bones with Lima Bean Salad

I love marrow bones. I love frying thick slices of homemade bread in a stick of butter to eat it with. I love the mouth-feel of marrow. I love the fatty goodness, and how full and satisfied I feel after I eat them. I love how well they pair with pretty much any bright food you want to eat. I love how quickly they cook. I also love how inexpensive they are. I got about a pound and a half for $2, spent about $2.40 on vegetables (we also had roasted broccoli with this), and another $0.90 cents on the loaf of bread I made and the butter to fry it in (even better, if you have stale bread it's perfect for this!). So all in all, we got an awesome meal (plus enough for Ross to take to work for lunch) for slightly more than five bucks, which I love. If you haven't tried marrow, and you're not icked by this sort of thing, I highly recommend this affordable and delicious meal (my version or anyone else's - all of them, actually. I would love to try every marrow preparation known to mankind). Hope you enjoy!

 Marrow bones:

Get your beef (or veal) marrow bones - about two per person, 2-5 inches tall. Preheat your oven to 450F, and put your bones in a baking dish, large side down if they're cut on two sides or cut side up if they're split down the middle. Sprinkle with salt (or not, as you see fit) and roast for 15-20 minutes. They should be bubbly with the marrow pulled from the sides but not melted and smell good when they're done. A bit of the fat will seep out from the bottom, and that's okay. You can mop it up with bread later or save it to cook something else in. Let cool a few minutes, then scoop out with a spoon and spread on thick slices of bread that you fried until brown in butter (or you could just use regular toast). This is good with the salad on top.

Lima Bean Salad (can be served hot, warm or cold)

1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
1 cup thinly sliced celery w/ leaves
1/4 cup capers, rinsed
1 chopped tomato
1 small sprig rosemary, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
12 ounces frozen (and thawed) or fresh limas
3 big glugs olive oil
juice one lemon
2-3 cups stock (I used vegetable since that's what's in my fridge, but you can use any kind)

In a deep frying pan, combine beans and broth (enough to cover beans) over medium-high heat and simmer until beans are cooked, about 15 minutes. Drain the beans and set them aside. Add a big glug or two of olive oil to the pan, and then the celery and shallot with some salt and pepper. Fry until soft, then add in the beans, lemon juice, more salt and pepper if needed, and however much oil is needed and turn the heat down to medium. Fry for another 5 minutes, then add the remaining ingredients and cook another two minutes. Chill or not and serve with marrow and fried bread. Makes enough for four people.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Chick Pea and Beet Salad

I've been on this thing lately where I've been buying beets that are about as big as my head. I don't know why I'm buying these because it's seriously a lot of food. But I'm glad I have been because it's been an adventure in deciding what to do with 4 cups worth of beet that all has to be used quickly. Once again, I have (half) a beet in my fridge, though it was a lot more. The last head-sized beet probably had half of it eaten in little handfuls of diced beet as I walked on by it and the rest went into things, like an enchilada sauce (that I'll tell y'all about as soon as I remember what I did). This time, I had made falafel for dinner but was out of both sesame seeds and tahini so I couldn't make the type of hummus I wanted. Instead I used the chick peas to make a salad and we all agreed it was a wonderful addition to the falafel. Hope you enjoy!

1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed (or a can's worth of cooked from dry, so about 1 1/2 cups)
3/4 cup roasted beet, diced
1 stalk celery, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
1/2 cucumber, diced
1 roma tomato, diced
2 tablespoons each: vegetable oil, lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper

Combine all. Chill (or not) before serving. Serves 4 as a small side, 2 as a large side or 1 as a meal.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and grits. This classic Lowcountry dish is one of those Southern foods that makes me really understand how a person could love Southern food. Which is not to say I don't like Southern food, but I do find it really heavy with its emphasis on everything fried or laden with lard (both things I love, but moderation and all that). I would call this shrimp and polenta but Ross, being a Texan, prefers the word "grits" over "polenta." I'm not sure why this is since they're basically the same thing, but here we are anyway. It's a delicious meal no matter what you call it, and one I nearly always enjoy since it has a kind of breakfast for dinner feel without actually being breakfast for dinner. Hope you enjoy!

1 cup cornmeal
3 - 3 1/2 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons each: parmesan, butter

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used previously frozen)
2 tablespoons each: vegetable oil, lard, butter
salt and pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup celery
2 cups field greens

Combine cornmeal, water and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly until the first starch sets (this will take a little under 10 minutes). Reduce heat and stir periodically until it is reduced to "grits" texture, about 30 minutes (unless you're using quick grits, quick polenta or similar in which case all of this will be much faster). Turn off the heat and whisk or stir in the cheese, butter and pepper.

While all this is going on, heat a very large skillet (I used a 12" cast iron) over medium to medium-high heat. Add in all your fats and let them melt. On one half of the skillet, put in your shrimp and season with the salt, pepper and cayenne. On the other half of the skillet add in your celery and season with salt and pepper. Cook the shrimp 3-4 minutes and flip them over. When you flip them over, add the field greens to the celery. Cook both two minutes (stirring the greens and celery every 30-40 seconds to wilt the greens down) then hit them with the lemon juice and cook one more minute.

To serve: pile a mound of grits/polenta on your plate, then top with greens mixture and shrimp. I served this with stewed okra. Serves 4.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Stewed Okra

Stewed okra is wonderful, don't you think? Well, I guess if you're one of those okra hating people you might not think so. If you're one of those okra hating people, it might be because you think okra is always slimy and gross. But that's not always the case, and the preparation style really determines if the okra will be unpleasant or not. So, if you hate okra give this a shot and see how you feel about it. Ross mentioned to me as I was typing this up that he really enjoyed the okra and was glad I'd done the stewed okra in a way that it wasn't slimy. If you love okra, you might enjoy adding this to your list of okra goodies. Hope you enjoy!

12 ounces thickly sliced okra (I used frozen which I did not bother to thaw first but you can do it with fresh)
2 15-ounce cans stewed tomatoes
20 ounces vegetable stock (you can make this a meat dish by using chicken stock)
2 teaspoons creole seasoning (or regular seasoned salt)
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (this will make it quite spicy so use less if you're sensitive to such things)

Combine all the ingredients into a large pot and set it over medium to medium-high heat. Put a wooden spoon in the pot and then put the lid on (spoon so you can stir, and also to vent the pot so it can reduce). Simmer for about an hour, stirring periodically (and breaking up the tomatoes with your spoon if you feel like it) or until reduced down to the amount of liquid you like (I like mine not too liquid-y). Serves 4 as a large side dish. I served this with shrimp and grits.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Falafel

This is an Israeli style green falafel. Green falafel is my favorite kind, because the flavors of the herbs are so very pronounced. I really just find it delightful, so that's the kind I wanted to do for dinner tonight. This dish is really very easy to make, and tops out at about $3 to make about 36 falafel balls. A lot of people shape their falafel with one of those scoops. I'm personally torn on the falafel scoop, because on the one hand, really cool contraption! On the other hand, it has exactly one use, and that makes it hard for me to justify giving up drawer space to something like that. I'm always looking about to see if there is one for sale at some of my favorite shops, but there never is and that's okay. Spoons and wet hands work perfectly well for shaping these little balls of happiness.

Anyway, these are really delicious. They're also shockingly easy to make. With a food processor, it takes less than 5 minutes to put the whole mixture together, and then another 4-6 minutes to fry each batch. The longest step in this process is actually just heating your oil. We had them with hummus, bread and shepherd's salad tonight, and a light tahini dip. Below, ingredients listed in parentheses will tell you how to make it Egyptian style (which is more of the original way of making falafel), if that's more your speed. Hope you enjoy!

5 cups soaked but not cooked chick peas (fava beans)
2 bunches of parsley, leaves only/mostly (cilantro)
1/2 large red onion, cut into chunks
5 cloves of garlic, peeled but left whole
2 tablespoons-ish (I "measured" this with my fingers, not a measuring spoon) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
seeds from 1 cardamom pod
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (less if you don't want that bit of spice, though this quantity doesn't make it spicy for me)
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds

Grind peppercorns, cardamom, coriander seeds and cumin seeds. Add all ingredients to a food processor (you can do it in a meat grinder, alternately, and add in the spices later) and process until it's a thick paste. You want it to stick together well when pressed, but not be smooth and homogeneous looking. So like you're making meatballs, basically. Put the mixture in a container and toss in the fridge until you're ready to fry your falafel (alternately, you can portion out serving or meal sized amounts and freeze until you're ready to thaw and fry). Heat a frying pan (I use a 12" cast iron pan) with 1 1/2 to 2" of any kind of oil to 350F (there can be variance here, so don't worry if it's 360 or 340 or whatever). Grab a bowl of water and a regular eating spoon and get a heaping spoonful of the paste. Wet your hands in the water (shake them off, too, over the bowl) and slide the paste into your hands, shaping it into a ball or disc (I prefer balls because they're more aesthetically pleasing to me). Fry for 2-3 minutes per side, then drain on paper towels or coffee filters on a plate, and serve immediately. Makes approximately 36 falafel balls.
Photo by Stephen Cox

Friday, July 12, 2013

Spinach and Leek Lasagna

I wanted a lasagna today to go with the ricotta and mozarella I made, but I only had 4 lasagna sheets left and no time to make more. So instead of the usual method, I just made it in a bread pan and that worked well. This lasagna was far better than I anticipated it would be. Hope you enjoy!

4 lasagna sheets

1 14-ounce can each: tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon each: salt, rosemary, basil, marjoram, parsley (I used all dried; use 1 tablespoon each if fresh, except the salt)
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1 tablespoon each: dried onion, dried garlic

1/2 leek, sliced thinly
1 cup thinly sliced celery
2 tablespoons each: butter, lemon juice, vegetable oil
1 12-ounce package frozen spinach (thawed)
salt to taste

1/2 pound each: ricotta, mozzarella

Simmer the tomatoes, lemon, spices, dried onion and dried garlic for 30 minutes. In a separate pan, melt the butter into the oil over medium heat. Add leeks, celery and salt and cook down for 10 minutes. Add spinach and lemon, cook another  5 minutes. Put a bit of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a bread pan, then top with a noodle. Add some more sauce, some ricotta, then the spinach mixture and another noodle. Repeat until it's all used up, then top with a bit more sauce and the mozarella. Bake 45 minutes at 400F.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Tarragon-Garlic Compound Butter

I have a project coming up in the next week or so involving a lot of baking treats for people. Since there's going to be baguette involved, I thought I'd make a couple compound butters to go with it. This is one of them. It's perfect for spreading on bread, for baking into bread (for garlic bread), or apparently just for tasting with a spoon. Hope you enjoy!

2 tablespoons tarragon (I used Mexican)
2 tablespoons roasted garlic
4 tablespoons (half a stick) butter
pinch salt

Put all the ingredients in a blender or food processor (I prefer the processor for this since it's easier to clean and also easier to get the butter out) until the herbs are well chopped but not homogenously blended with the butter. Makes about 5-6 tablespoons.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Halibut en Papillot

I had a couple halibut steaks I wanted to make for us, but I was also feeling lazy and not like paying attention to my fish. So I ended up deciding to do it this way, since you can just plunk it in the oven and come back later. Plus, it's already portioned out and you get to open up a fun, steamy package. Hope you enjoy!

2 6-ounce halibut filets
2 tablespoons each: thinly sliced green onions, thinly sliced celery, butter, lemon juice, radish greens (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
1 garlic clove, sliced thinly lengthwise
2 small sprigs each: mint, Thai basil
1/2 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 425F. Get out two pieces of parchment paper and brush them with olive oil on one side, leaving a 2" border around the edges free of oil. Put a piece of fish on each piece of parchment, then season with salt and pepper. Add half of the onions, celery, butter, lemon juice, radish greens, garlic, mint and basil to the top of each filet (I put the butter on the very top). Fold the top of the paper over so the fish sits along the seam and fold it down and around the edges tightly*. Bake 15-18 minutes. Serves 2.

* Here's a video showing you how. You'll want to start this video about 40 seconds from the end.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Italian Sausage Ragout

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with ragout. In my mind, it's not that good but it is easy to make when I feel pressed for energy to devote to cooking. In reality, I love eating ragout because it's good. Really good. This one I particularly enjoyed. I will try to remember I like things like this so I can make them more often. Hope you enjoy!

1 lb Italian sausage, casings removed (or even better, without them at all)
salt and pepper to taste
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced thinly
6 cloves garlic, chopped

1 8-ounce can mushrooms
1 15-ounce can each: crushed tomatoes, stewed tomatoes (cut up a bit)
2 cups veggie stock
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 teaspoons dried marjoram
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon chile flakes
1 small sprig rosemary, left whole
3 sprigs basil (I used Thai since it's growing profusely and the Genevese isn't yet), torn into pieces

Over medium heat, fry sausage in a large saucepan. Add remainder of first group of ingredients when the sausage is nearly cooked, and fry for 5-10 minutes. Add second group of ingredients and simmer until thicker, about an hour (though I cooked it longer for the flavors). Serve over pasta. Serves 4-6.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Braised Short Ribs

I found some nice-looking short ribs the other day on sale, and originally I'd planned to make them Korean style. But then I was looking around in my fridge and pantry and saw there was a fair amount of the massive amount of produce I'd purchased recently that was looking a little peaky and in need of cooking. So instead, I opted to do it in beer* in the slow cooker (alternately, Dutch oven in a slow oven will be good as well) so I could use up some produce and still have a tender, delicious and healthful meal. Hope you enjoy!

1 pound boneless beef short ribs
1 cup each: yellow bell pepper (cut into chunks), mixed greens (mostly kale and radish greens is what I used)
4 carrots, roughly chopped
3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
2 ears corn, cut into 1-inch rounds
2 tomatoes, roughly chopped (with juices)
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
1 bulb of garlic, cloves peeled and left whole
salt and pepper to taste
1/2-3/4 cups dark ale

Put all of the above into a 4-quart crock pot, cover and cook on high for several hours, or until the ribs are falling apart. Serve over pearled barley. Serves 4-6.

*The beer I used was the Baby Brew, which is a truly lovely ale made for us by our friend Stephen in honor of Ilana's birth. It's really wonderful - slightly hoppy but well balanced with a bit of extra sweetness in the middle that offsets the barely bitter finish. This beer is probably my definition of the perfect beer, and I am really excited and thankful that he made this for us as our "welcome to parenthood" gift. We'd not finished a bottle of it last night and I was going to use the remainder for Baby Brew Bread, but instead felt the ribs would be a more fitting and beautiful use for the leftover beer. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Turkey Stock Soup

I discovered I still had a turkey in the freezer a while ago and had spent some time making my plan of action. You kind of have to do that with turkeys, because there's just so much meat to them. I roasted the turkey on Monday, and so on Tuesday it was time to start working through the leftovers. This soup was perfect. Turkey, but not too turkey (mostly because there wasn't room in the pot for some flesh). Hope you enjoy!

1 turkey carcass
1 onion, quartered
1 lemon, cut in half
water to cover

1/2 pound kale
2 ears of corn, cut into rounds
3 tomatoes, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
5 stalks of celery, sliced
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, cut into half moons
1/3 cup wheat berries
water if needed
salt and pepper to taste

Bring the first group of ingredients to a boil then simmer for one hour. Strain, reserving stock. Put stock and second group of ingredients in a soup pot and bring to a boil. Let boil 5-10 minutes then simmer for one hour. Serves 4-6.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Cantaloupe Cupcakes

I realized today that I still had some of those wonderful candied peels Lisa sent me earlier this year, and I got really excited. See, I had decided to use some cantaloupe that I'd frozen in cupcakes today, to go with our leftovers meal of red beans and rice, and that fricassee. But when I discovered those hiding (from Ross, I'm guessing, since I can't imagine why else I'd have hidden it. Though it's possible I hid it from myself so I wouldn't plow through them all before I got to use them in recipes either) in the fridge, I realized that the perfect compliment to my cupcakes was not going to be lemon butter cream, but instead would be vanilla butter cream with PEELS IN THEM! I was supposed to make more butter cream anyway, since Ross likes to put it in his coffee (I know how weird that sounds, but it's oddly delicious) so all of this works out to be full of win for all the tummies in this house. Anyway, I can't see any reason why you couldn't do this with or without peel, or the cakes with a different sort of fruit. Let me know if you play with it and how things turned out. Hope you enjoy!

1/2 cup sugar
1 stick room temperature butter (I always use unsalted, but you can use whatever you want)
2 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour (or cake, if you want it more delicate)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2-3 tablespoons yogurt (your call; I only eye-balled how much I stuck in there)
1 cup diced cantaloupe*

Heat the oven to 350F. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add in the eggs one at a time. Add the yogurt. Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt, and then stir in the fruit. Put into a lined cupcake tray and bake for 17-20 minutes (a tester will come out clean; I want to say it's about 19 minutes for me). Cool on a rack. Frost. Makes 12.

Frosting:

2 sticks of butter
3-ish cups of powdered sugar (I admit I never measure this, but it looks like about that much)
1 teaspoon-ish vanilla paste
1-2 tablespoons finely chopped candied citrus peel of your choice (I used yuzu!)

Beat the sugar and vanilla into the butter, until it's frosting. Fold in peels. Pipe or whatever onto cupcakes, then eat!

*This can be frozen and thawed, or it can be fresh - alternately you may puree it. That being said, you will most assuredly want to increase the baking time if you use fresh fruit that is diced and not pureed, because you won't be able to get a lot of the juices out. Cantaloupe has a LOT more juice than I realized, so once I had thawed and chopped it up, I put it in a strainer and pressed all the bits so they'd be a lot drier and not add a ton of moisture to the batter.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Chicken and Kale Fricassee

I'm still in the process of using up things in the fridge, freezer and pantry that I don't want in the house anymore, or which are simply getting old. Today is another of those meals. It's a meat meal this time, because I had a larger amount of chicken breast in the freezer than I realized. Also, I am planning a huge shopping trip soon, so I'd like to eat up as much of the older meats and such and get a new batch of meat in there that's more reflective of the amounts of each we generally consume. Hope you enjoy!

1 large onion, cut into half moons
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon each: kosher salt, pepper
1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
zest of one small lemon

juice of half of the lemon
2 cloves of garlic, sliced lengthwise very thinly

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-2" pieces
pinch each: kosher salt, pepper, herbes de Provence
2 ladles of vegetable or chicken broth (around 2/3 cup)

3/4 - 1 cup whole picholine or nicoise olives
1/2 pound chopped kale
pinch each: kosher salt, pepper
juice of the other half of the lemon
1 ladle of vegetable or chicken broth (around 1/3 cup, though you may need more)

Put the first group of ingredients in a deep skillet and cook on medium heat until the onions are largely translucent. Add garlic and lemon juice and cook another 5 minutes. Add third group of ingredients and cook until the chicken looks about half done (about 10 minutes), then add in the last group of ingredients. You will probably need to add the kale in stages so you can get it all in the pan. Cover the pan with a plate or lid, and let it cook for 15 more minutes. Serve over rice. Serves 4.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Lemon and Thai Basil Yogurt Cake

I have some lemons and yogurt I need to use, and I also am growing some Thai basil. I have a tendency to sometimes neglect the proper pruning needs of my plants, so I've been trying to be better about that lately. This cake came of my desire to use these two ingredients, but also of my desire to have a dessert that would pair well with minestrone and brown bread for dinner. Hope you enjoy!

Cake:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
zest of a lemon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
3 sprigs Thai basil

Glaze:
1-2 cups confectioners’ sugar
juice of a small lemon

Combine the lemon juice, sugar and basil in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for a minute or so and remove from the heat. Let cool. Preheat oven to 350F. Whisk together eggs, zest, yogurt, strained basil syrup, vanilla and salt. Then whisk in baking powder, then flour. Fold in oil. Put in a greased and lined (I use a coffee filter to line my pan) loaf pan. Bake 60-ish minutes. Cool 10 minutes in pan, invert onto a cooling rack and cool to room temperature. Pour glaze over the cake, let it set and serve. Makes 12 slices.

Glaze:

Whisk sugar into lemon juice. Add the sugar slowly until it is the consistency of glaze (stiffness) you want. I like mine to set pretty firmly, almost like Royal icing, so I use a lot of sugar.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Steel Cut Oats with Blueberries

I really like steel cut oatmeal. I do not like rolled oatmeal. It's a textual thing, I guess? Either way, despite the increasing heat here in Houston I've been on an oatmeal kick. This one is particularly fun because it has blueberries in it, and who doesn't like blueberries? Also, it takes only a few minutes to make, and then you just heat it in the morning with your sugars. Hope you enjoy!

1 cup steel cut oats
2 tablespoons butter
1-2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup dried blueberries (if you're wanting to use fresh or frozen, use more)
4 cups water

2 tablespoons agave
1/4 cup brown sugar (not packed)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Melt butter in a 2-quart saucepan over high heat. Add oats and salt, and stir around, frying for about a minute. Add water and blueberries (but don't add these yet if you're using fresh or frozen) and bring to a boil. Let boil one minute, turn off the heat and put the lid on. Leave it on the stove until you come back in the morning (I do this part right before bed). In the morning, pop off the lid and add the second group of ingredients (and fresh or frozen berries). Heat through, stirring to incorporate the new ingredients. Serves 4.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Pasta and Black Eyed Peas

I've been trying to work through a lot of beans lately. Not only as an efficient way to up my protein consumption, but also because I still have some left from the Cave. So, y'know. One of my goals has been to use up the legumes we don't really eat a lot of, and one of those is black eyed peas (turtle beans). We actually do like to eat those, but mostly fresh or frozen instead of dried and cooked. This seemed like a fun way to use some up, and also to use up a bunch of stuff in the fridge that I didn't want to go to waste. I expected this dish to be fun and good, but it was quite a bit more delicious than I'd anticipated. This will definitely be making it into our normal rotation. Hope you enjoy!

1 can black eyed peas, drained and rinsed (unless you cooked them from dry, but still drain them)
1/2 pound fusili, cooked to package directions
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup diced salt pork
salt to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 cups baby spinach
1/4 onion, chopped
1/2-1 carrot, shredded
1/2 14-ounce can artichoke hearts (not marinated, but drain the water)

Heat the oil and chile flakes over low heat for 15 minutes. Turn the heat to medium and add the salt pork, frying well. When the pork is done, add all the other ingredients and cook long enough to heat through. Serves 2.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Farmer's Cheese

This is basically like cottage cheese (except strained), and not like ricotta. I like to use it for pizzas, for lasagna, and also for eating (if I remember to salt it. If I don't, I like to cook with it). Hope you enjoy!

1 quart of milk (you can use more and not change the amount of lemon juice, up to around a gallon of milk)
1/4 cup lemon juice (or less for a batch this small - up to you)

Heat milk to 185F. Remove from heat and stir in about 1/4 cup of lemon juice. Let sit for a few minutes to separate well into curds (it will look like curdled milk, because that's basically what it is). Line a strainer with cheesecloth then put the strainer over a bowl. Pour the curds and whey into the strainer, then tie the ends of the cheesecloth tightly around the curds. Tie the cheese to the knob of a kitchen cabinet or something similar, with the bowl (you can wash and put away the strainer now) under the cheese to catch the drippings. Come back in the morning and untie the cheese. You can salt it now and put it in a container if you like, or you can just eat it, or you can not salt it, or some other combination of the available options. 

Use the drippings (whey) first to make more cheese (ricotta), and then use it again (after you strain the ricotta) to make bread instead of using water or beer or whatever as your liquid. The whey will give your bread a sourdough flavor even though it isn't a sourdough. Makes about 1 cup of cheese.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Spinach and Artichoke Pizza


The pizza? Spectacular. Here's how we made it; hope you enjoy!

dough for 1 crust 
sauce for one pizza
4 ounces (1 cup) mozzarella
1 cup fresh farmer's cheese (you could use strained ricotta or cottage instead)
large handful pepperoni
1/2 15-ounce can artichoke hearts (not marinated, but yes drain them well)
1/4 cup each: shredded carrots, chopped onions, chopped celery
1 cup-ish spinach

Preheat oven (preferably with stone in it) to 500F. Spread out the dough into a square or whatever (I like rectangles). Top with sauce (about a half cup or so should do it), then top with pepperoni. Add cheeses, then veggies and bake for 10 minutes. Cool 5 minutes. Cut, eat, move on with your day. Serves 2 (okay, this should serve 4. But today it served two).


Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Walnut-Apricot Granola

We've been using a lot of cereal lately, mostly in cereal bars and for snacks. But for breakfasts, I prefer if we're going to eat cereal (instead of the baked potatoes I've been obsessed with the last few days) for it to be something that's not full of preservatives and such. Otherwise it doesn't actually seem like breakfast so much as dessert. Here's the granola I made as an alternative. Hope you enjoy!

4 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup each: wheat germ, bran
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup each: vegetable oil, honey
1 cup chopped dried apricots

Heat oven to 250F. Mix together the oats, germ, bran, walnuts and salt. Whisk together the honey and vegetable oil, then pour it into the oat mixture and stir until well incorporated. Put on a sheet pan and put in the oven. Give it an hour and a half in the oven, but stir it every 15 or so minutes so it doesn't burn. Once you take it out of the oven, let it cool a bit then add the apricots. Cool completely and store in an airtight container. Makes about 6 or 7 cups.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Tuna Casserole

I decided to make tuna casserole tonight. It's another very simple thing to make, and there is no canned soup in it despite it being in the same style as some of the canned soup versions of this dish. Hope you enjoy!

4 5-ounce cans of tuna packed in water, drained
1 pound wide egg noodles, boiled for 6 minutes
1-2 cups corn (can be canned, fresh or frozen, although I usually use frozen)
1 tablespoon lemon pepper

2 tablespoons butter
pinch salt
3/4 cup chopped celery

2 tablespoons butter
2-3 tablespoons superfine flour (like Wondra)
1 1/2-ish cups milk
salt and pepper to taste
few grates fresh nutmeg

Put the first group of ingredients in a large casserole dish. Melt two tablespoons of butter over medium to medium high heat in a small saucepan and add celery and salt. Fry the celery in the butter until the butter is browned and smells nutty, and until the celery is darkened and somewhat crisp. Spoon out celery (leaving as much butter in possible in the saucepan) and set aside. Add remaining butter and the flour to the saucepan and whisk or stir until well combined and barely browned (you are making a roux here). Whisk in the milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg and continue to whisk until it is like a VERY thick soup. Whisk in celery mixture and set aside for about 5 minutes to finish thickening as it cools. Stir soup into the casserole dish and combine well with other ingredients. Spread out evenly in the dish and bake at 350F for about 40 minutes, or until top is well browned. Serves 4.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Roasted Cauliflower with Harissa Aioli

We went to a restaurant called Roost uh... a long time ago (before I was even pregnant, I think). They had this amazing fried cauliflower that had a barely memorable sauce and was sprinkled with bonito. Although the sauce on its own was pretty forgettable, the combination of these factors was mind-blowingly delicious. And I remembered it, meaning to get around to working out the sauce ingredients. Ultimately, however, I decided to just make up a new sauce and be done with it. Well, and I decided to roast the cauliflower (I actually forgot for a while there's was fried since was roasted was in my brain). Here it is. We ate this with sausage and kraut, but the cauliflower was more certainly the star of the dinner and we were VERY sad there wasn't more of that to eat. So this will definitely be repeated. If you want it to be vegetarian, leave out the bonito. But if you do that, find a salty substitute, because the bonito is, in all ways, the icing for this cake. Any leftover sauce/dressing/whatever you have is great for salad (if you went thinner like I did). Hope you enjoy!

2 heads cauliflower, cut into bite sized pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 tablespoons tumeric
1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
3 tablespoons harissa
2 tablespoons (ish) lemon juice
1 egg
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 - 1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup (more or less) bonito flakes

Whisk together salt, mustard, harissa, lemon and egg. Whisk in the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon at a time. In a stream, whisk in the vegetable oil. I used about a quarter cup because I wanted it a bit thinner (plus it thickens after sitting), but if you want a more traditionally textured mayonnaise, then use the full half cup (but not more). Set aside until the cauliflower is roasted (it will thicken up a bit more during this time). Mix together the first group of ingredients and roast for 30-45 minutes at 400F. Top cauliflower with however much of the sauce you want, then sprinkle the bonito (I like a fairly thick sprinkling) over it and serve. Serves 2-4 (or 1, if you're greedy).

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Green Cottage Pie

I hate pot pies. Hate them. I really will never understand what makes people like them. But cottage and shepherd pies? LOVE. We wanted to up the amount of beans we eat, since it's an easy way to increase protein in the diet, and I made a huge batch of Appaloosa beans. Also, Ross really wanted to have a casserole, and since I think normally the only two casseroles I make are lasagna and tuna it seemed like a fun way to mix things up. So I thought I'd put a couple cans' worth in this, in place of some other kind of meat. I called it green not because it's environmentally friendly (although it is that), but because the avocado in the mashed potatoes makes it literally green. Which is kind of fun, unless you don't like that sort of thing in which case you can just wait until Saint Patrick's day to make this. Anyway, if you're wanting this with meat, just add that in (before the veggies) and take out (or not) the beans. Hope you enjoy!

2 big glugs olive oil
3 stalks celery, diced
3 carrots, diced
1 onion, diced
3 large button mushrooms, thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon each: tarragon, sumac
half a stick (4 tablespoons) butter
juice of half a lemon

2 cans (3 cups) drained and rinsed beans: kidney, appaloosa OR pinto
1/2 cup beer

3-4 Russet potatoes, skins left on and chopped
32 ounces stock (I had veggie on hand, but you can use what you want)
1 very ripe avocado
half a stick of butter
1/2 cup (ish) yogurt, cream cheese or labne
salt and pepper to taste

Put the glugs of oil in your pan and turn the heat on to medium. Then add all the veggies, and spices, plus the lemon juice and stir around a bit. Put the butter on top of all that so it just melts in on its own time. Let cook until onions are translucent and carrots are softening (and butter is melted, of course). Once this is all cooked, add the beans and beer (and salt if needed) and stir about to heat through, cooking down the beer a bit.

In the interim, boil potatoes in a covered pan with some salt (if your stock isn't salted) and the stock. Ideally, your stock will be roughly at the same level of the pot as the potatoes, but it's okay if it's a little over or under. When the potatoes are very soft and full of stock, drain them, and mash in the avocado, half stick of butter, yogurt, and any salt and pepper you may be using.

Put the veggie mixture in an 8x8" pan, along with any pan juices. Top with mashed potatoes (you can pipe them if you're cool in that way, but I fail at piping so I just spoon it in) and bake at 400F for 30 minutes. Serves 2-4.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Chick Pea, Spinach and Pasta Stew

We had some soujuk in the freezer, and now that I'm not pregnant the smell doesn't make me sick. I wanted to eat it, and have been saving it for when I could eat it again. But I didn't want to have breakfast for dinner, so I decided (when I came across some chick peas I'd cooked for hummus and frozen for later) to make a stew to go with it. It evolved a lot while it was being made, and it was really, really wonderful. I'm looking forward to eating some for breakfast with leftover bread, too. Hope you enjoy!

1 clove minced garlic
1 diced soujuk (or about 2 tablespoons diced other sausage)
1-2 teaspoons olive oil

2 cloves minced garlic
1 large onion, diced
2 cups sliced celery (about 4 stalks), with leaves
1/2 orange bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
zest from half a Meyer lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon each: basil, dill, sumac, mint

juice from half a Meyer lemon

5 ounces frozen spinach (can be thawed or not)
1 12-ounce bottle beer (I used a Belgian white)
1 14-ounce can stewed tomatoes with juices
1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts (plus the liquid; do not drain)
1 can, or 2 cups cooked and drained chick peas
zest and juice of other half of Meyer lemon
salt and pepper to taste
8 ounces medium shells

In a skillet, heat oil and fry soujuk pieces until they are crispy. Combine all of second group of ingredients in a saucepan and fry over medium heat until the onions start to get crispy edges. Then add the Meyer (or other) lemon juice, and let it cook another minute or two. Excepting the pasta, add the last group of ingredients, plus the fried sausage bits, and let simmer for 30 minutes. Add the pasta, then cook another 8 or so minutes. Turn off heat and let it sit for a few minutes. During this time you can (this is what we did) fry up some more soujuk or other sausage to eat with your stew. A loaf of bread is great with this too. You can also eat this plain, and it's perfectly good that way too. Serves 4-6.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Bergamot-Cranberry Muffins

I didn't get around to making breakfast pastries this morning, and since my intention is to sleep in tomorrow, I know I won't do them in the morning then either. So I decided to go ahead and throw together some bergamot-cranberry muffins so Ross will have foods to take with him for breakfast. It's a pretty standard muffin set-up, with a little extra. Hope you enjoy!

1 cup milk (I only had soy milk for some reason, which is weird since neither of us drink soy milk, so I used that)
1 large egg
1/2 cup bergamot juice (you could use lemon, or any other citrus for this)
1/4 vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar (reduce this if using a sweet citrus)

2-ish cups flour (I admit, I did not measure very carefully, so it was somewhere between 2 and 2 1/4 cups)
1 - 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder (see flour measuring above)
1 cup whole frozen (and thawed if you have time) cranberries

Whisk together everything in the first group of ingredients. Add flour and baking powder and whisk that in until just barely incorporated (if your batter looks smooth when you get done, expect tough muffins), then stir in cranberries. Oil a muffin pan (that's what I do) or put paper liners in the pan, then fill each well with a scant 1/4 cup of batter. Bake at 400F for 20-ish minutes. Makes 12.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Vegetable Lasagna

I finally had the baby, so we're leaning strongly toward meals that can be eaten for a few days at a time. I'm giving extra preference to things that can just be made from odds and ends I find in the fridge too, since I'm still working out the logistics of running errands with an infant. After I'd attempted to make some yogurt for Ross, and overheated it, I wound up with some really lovely farmer's cheese. So, I hung it to drain overnight, and salted it in the morning. We decided that lasagna would be the result of this mistake. Adding to that a tomato sauce made from canned products and random veggies in the fridge, this turned out to be significantly more delicious than either Ross or I expected it to be. And because it actually worked out really well, here it is. Hope you enjoy!

1 box no boil lasagna noodles (unless you just like boiling your own)
1 14-ounce can each: crushed tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, diced tomatoes
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
juice of two lemons
1/2 cup dried leeks (or 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh leeks)
1 cup each: sliced carrot, sliced celery
12 ounces beer (I used a Belgian white)
1 tablespoon each: dried basil, dried parsley
1 cup sliced button mushrooms
1 teaspoon each: dried mint, dried marjoram
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
1 pound mozzarella
1 pound ricotta or fresh cheese

Combine all ingredients except cheeses and pasta, and simmer for an hour or so, until thicker but still thin enough to spread. Put 1/4 of the sauce on the bottom of a 9x13" pan, then line with noodles. Sprinkle 1/3 of the mozzarella  onto the noodles, then half of the ricotta or farmer's cheese. Top with 1/4 of the sauce, then another layer of noodles. Do this again, then top with remaining 1/4 of sauce. Bake at 400F for 45 minutes, then top with the last 1/3 of mozzarella (and some parmesan, if desired) and bake another 15 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Bergamot Madeleines

I really wanted some Madeleines. For a while, I've been wanting some. But since I have these bergamots, I thought I should use some of them for it. Unfortunately I didn't have a pan, and I didn't really want to buy one. Aside from a clutter issue, there's also the unitasker issue as well as the "how often will I really make these? Enough to warrant the cabinet space?" question. So, instead of going out and finding a pan, I asked my Facebook friends if anyone had a pan I could borrow (and return with a batch of fresh pastries). Not surprisingly, no one actually had this specialty pan (or if they did, I guess they just didn't want to share it?). So I went out to find one, ultimately deciding that I will simply make sure I use it often enough to warrant the space it'll take up.

I remembered seeing some old tin ones in thrift shops lately. I mostly remember it because I saw a bunch, and I thought it was odd, and I also had to talk myself out of getting one. That whole cabinet space thing again. So, I went to a billion thrift shops, and is usually the way when you're looking for something specific you saw there recently, no one had any pans for me to buy. From there I went on to the restaurant supply store (no luck), and so many other stores I honestly lost track of where I'd been. There were two places where I saw non-stick ones, but you don't want a non-stick Madeleine pan, if you want the browning to be even (which I did). So I kept looking. Seven hours after I first left my house, my quest was finally over. Sur la Table sells non-stick and stamped steel ones. They had two non-sticks left in stock (weird), and a million stamped steel. I got my steel pan, and moved along before I got tempted by the other objects to look at.

This recipe is adapted from the Chez Pim one, though I stuck fairly close to the recipe this time. On account of that, I'm just going to do the paraphrase thing with my changes and comments in italics. Hope you enjoy!

4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup bergamot syrup (see below, but make this before you do anything else)
zest from onebergamot orange
2 cups minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (I used 2 cups even of cake flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder (I doubled this since mine is close to expired)
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted and cooled to room temperature (she uses salted; I used unsalted and a teaspoon of kosher salt)
Approximately two more tablespoons of softened butter for brushing the pan, plus some more flour

Beat together eggs and sugar. Add zest and syrup and beat well. Mix together baking powder and flour. Fold in with a whisk or spatula. Fold in melted butter. Put the batter in a pastry bag and refrigerate, OR leave in bowl and press a piece of saran wrap against the batter, then refrigerate. Leave in fridge 2 hours to one day. Brush butter in the molds of the pan, taking special care to get all the nooks and crannies. Then sift flour over the pan, shake then tap out the excess. Put the pan in the fridge while the batter is chilling.

Heat oven to 450F. Remove pan from fridge and fill molds with 1 1/2" diameter-ish amount of batter. You may pipe this (that's what she does), or you can use spoons, or a portion scoop (that's what I did with about a 1 tablespoon scoop; she pipes)  or whatever. Put the pan in the oven and let it bake 6 minutes. Then crack the door of the oven open, turn the heat down to 400F and let them bake another 2-4 minutes, or until the edges are golden browned and the bump in the middle of the pastry springs back when you press it lightly. Remove from oven and let sit for a minute on a rack or the counter. Then lift up the pan about 4" from the counter, and drop it. The pastries will pop out. Transfer them to your mouth or a tray. Wipe out the pan with a damp cloth, then stick it in the freezer for 2-3 minutes (don't do it longer than this or it's a pain to butter). Butter and flour again, then fill and bake again. This recipe makes 36 units, but I am pretty sure I'd have gotten at least 48 had I not so dramatically overfilled the first batch. If you don't need a full batch, this will keep, well wrapped, in the fridge for a day or two.

Bergaot syrup:

1/2 cup bergamot juice (roughly one orange's worth)
1 cup sugar

Boil together until reduced by about 1/3 volume. Cool to room temperature.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Ichangensis Marmalade

I think that Lisa might actually be the Citrus Goddess of my dreams. Just when I think she's shocked and awed me with not only her fruit selections, but her incredible generosity in sharing these fruits with me, she pulls another trick out of her sleeve. This time, with the box of bergamots that came yesterday, were five Ichangensis lemons. I kind of didn't believe it at first, while I was staring at them in my lap. I was thinking, "there's no way these are what they say they are. How is this even possible?" I was so shocked that I actually set the bergamots (you won't believe this) to the side so I could just stare at this rare and impossible to find fruit for a few minutes.

See, you guys may not know this about me, but bergamot, although my favorite citrus in the world, is not the only citrus I am interested in. I kind of love them all. Everyone of them has its own kind of personality, allure, mystery and thing about it that makes it beautiful and perfect in every way. From the humble Navel orange, to the exotic-looking Buddha's Hand. All of them are perfection; their own unique kind of perfection. There are definitely citrus I prefer over others, but at the end of the day I can't really think of a single one I don't love and appreciate.

There are, however, some citrus I've chosen to put out of my mind forever, because I know deep down I will never get to know them in person. The Ichang lemon was one of those, until yesterday. I didn't ever think I'd ever see one in person, let alone have five of my very own to experience. So when I read the note telling me what they were, I couldn't believe my eyes for a few minutes. Once the shock wore off, I thought about what the best ways I could honor them could be. And what I ultimately decided was that some of them would become marmalade, since what is marmalade if not the boiled down essence of a citrus? Boiled down essence you can enjoy alone, or with other foods. Which gives you a variety of ways to experience the fruit, limited exclusively by the amount of marmalade you've made. This recipe used only two of the five, so the remaining three will be made into candies, with the piths, pips and membranes used to make pectin. Nothing being wasted here!

Anyway, this recipe is pretty similar to the recipe for bergamot marmalade I use. I tasted the juice and peel of these while I was making the marmalade, and they're glorious. The marmalade will be wonderful for a lot of things. However, since I wanted to make sure that I was very, very careful with what I'd made, I canned these in four-ounce jars to ensure there could be no possible wasting of marmalade happening because a jar didn't get used quickly enough once it was opened.

So, although this recipe probably gets filed in a list of recipes most of you won't be able to make, I wanted to share it with you anyway. If you can get your hands on some of these, make this, and enjoy it. If not, you can still use the recipe for citrus you've got available to you. Hope you enjoy!

2 Ichang lemons, zested into strips (I used a zester tool), deseeded and fruit/juice removed from pith and chopped up
5-6 cups water
more water
sugar by volume
pinch salt

After zesting your lemons, put the peels in a saucepan and cover with water. Boil ten minutes, then drain. Add 5-6 water, juice and pulp of lemons, and the pith, seeds and membranes tied up in cheesecloth or in a contained strainer. I normally would only use 4 cups of water, but I decided it'd be worth the extra boiling time to be able to rinse any Ichangensis essence off my plates, bowls and utensils into the large saucepan. Boil the whole thing for 10 minutes more, then remove from heat, cover and let sit overnight. You can let it sit in the fridge or on the back of the stove, whichever you prefer. In the morning, remove the cheesecloth and its contents. Pour the remaining contents of the saucepan into a measuring cup and find out how much is in there. However much is in there, add that much volume of sugar (or a little less, if you prefer marmalade to not be quite so sweet). Also, add the pinch of salt. Boil it, stirring constantly, until it passes the gel test. Ladle your mixture into sterilized four-ounce jars, and process in a water bath for 10 minutes.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Bergamot Scones

Lisa very, very kindly has sent me a new batch of bergamots! I have a lot of plans for these guys. Perhaps too many plans, since I might actually need a tree of my very own to have enough fruit to make as much stuff as I'm interested in. But I'm going to roll through as much of my list (which I'm keeping a surprise!) as I can, so we all have new ways to play with bergamot. So, feel no surprise if you see nothing BUT bergamot from me for a little bit. This only happens once a year, so I figure y'all can be entertained by it instead of annoyed. Also, feel free to make any of these recipes with another citrus fruit than bergamot. Y'all should also expect to see a lot of adapted pastry recipes, because pastry is what I'm particularly interested in right now. Which is kind of weird, considering I don't have much of a sweet tooth.

The original scone recipe I adapted this from can be found here, at Rock Recipes. The original recipe has raisins in it, and stuff like that. But I changed it about so it'd fit what I wanted for the bergamot I was using in it. I think this particular scone recipe would be lovely done up with Meyer lemon, also. Or even sweet lemon would be quite nice.

3 cups flour
2/3 cups white sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
zest of one bergamot, finely grated

3/4 cup cold or frozen butter, diced into cubes or sliced (I sliced mine, but convention is to cube it)
 
juice of one bergamot orange
1 cup cream

In a food processor, pulse the first set of ingredients (you can do this with a pastry blender or two knives, if you prefer. But I am lazy and like to make my scones in the processor, especially when I'm engaging in 5am insomnia baking). Toss in the butter and pulse again until you've got pea sized bits of flour in there (just like when you make pie crust). Add in the bergamot juice and the cream, and pulse again until the dough is starting to combine but it not very well combined. This is important because scones should never be tough. Tough scones ruin breakfasts and make people cry. And we all know making people cry is not a very nice thing to do.

Onto a well-floured board, turn out dough. There will be bits of dough all over your board. This is okay, and is expected. Flour your hands really well, and the top of the dough in as much as you can. Start pushing the dough together into a really big disk with your floured hands (reflour as needed; the dough is quite sticky), patting it to 1 inch thickness as you go. Using a cup or biscuit cutter, cut rounds from the dough and put on a sheet pan that's lined either will a Silpat or parchment. Leave about 2" space between each scone disk. When your disk is used up, repress the scraps together and cut again. You want to do this repressing (I feel like I'm stopping the dough from doing what it wants when I type repress in) with as little flour as possible so you don't make them tough, and you don't want to work the dough very much. But you also don't want to waste it, so this is a good way to not waste dough.

Once all your scones are on sheet trays (should take 2 unless you're making them really big, and then I guess even then it'll take two pans), freeze or refrigerate the trays. If you put them in the freezer, leave them there for an hour, then take them out, put them in a freezer-safe container or bag, and put back in the freezer. You can bake them straight from the freezer by simply adding another 2-3 minutes to the bake time (I did this with about half of them). If you put them in the fridge, take them out after an hour, sprinkle a little sugar on top, and put them straight into a preheat, 375F oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown on top. This should make about 16 reasonably sized scones (I used a 1.5 inch diameter cutter, I think).

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Cacio y Pepe (aka, cheese and pepper pasta)

I guess I've been on an Italian kick lately. I'm not really sure why, but I'm going to blame it on the fetus. Every time I eat Italian food or drink coffee, it's like a Solid Gold dance-a-thon is going on in my uterus.

Anyway, I've been thinking a lot about this particular dish for a while now. I've been hesitant to make it, because Ross is really not huge on black pepper. He'll eat it (but admittedly, there's only been one time since I've known him that he's refused to eat something. Generally he'll eat things he doesn't even like, unlike me), but he's not into it. And generally, he'd prefer to just dispense with the pepper entirely if possible. So that can make serving this kind of a mean thing - I mean, imagine: you're sitting there, happy as a clam with your massive bowl of yums, while your companion is sitting there picking at their massive bowl of yucks. I really feel like if eating isn't making you supremely happy, you're just not doing it right. Hence, I was hesitant.

But he said to go for it, so I went for it. And it turned out that he really loved this dish. Which proves, once again, that proper care and handling of an ingredient can turn something from gross to wondrous. This is also an incredible week-night meal, since it only takes about 20 minutes to prepare (so Daniel, this is getting posted for you!). Hope you enjoy!

1 pound spaghetti
4 ounces grated pecorino (ideally - I made this one with parmesan because that's what I had)
2 cups reserved pasta water
2 teaspoons ground black pepper, plus more for the table
3-4 tablespoons olive oil

Boil your spaghetti in heavily salted water until al dente, about 6 minutes. Get a couple cups of the pasta water and set it aside, then drain the pasta well. In the same pot, heat your oil. When it's rockin' hot, add the pasta and a cup or so of the water. Stir well, then dump in your pepper and cheese and keep on stirring. You may need more water to make your sauce, and if so, add it. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Variations:

- Some people use butter. Some people say this is unacceptable. I put in 2 tablespoons, because I'm cheeky like that.
- Bacon. This is wrong and non-traditional by all accounts, but it does taste good. If you're going to put in bacon, cut up 3 strips and cook it with the olive oil. Don't drain the fat. I did this because Ross asked me to, and he's nice to me so I thought it was okay.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Cheater Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce

I had gnocchi in my head for a few days, but no fresh potatoes. Eventually I decided that since I always keep instant potatoes around for when I want a 2-minute lunch (usually when I'm sick), I would use those instead. I suppose I could have gone to the store, but I really, really didn't want to. So, cheater gnocchi it was. This worked out really well, and was substantially less work than making mashed potatoes from fresh, so I'll likely do it this way again. We ate very well. Hope you enjoy!

Gnocchi:

2 cups instant potato flakes
2 cups boiling water
1 1/2 - 2 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg
1-2 teaspoons salt

Mix the instant potatoes with the water and salt and let sit for a couple minutes to hydrate (alternately, you can use a pound of fresh potatoes, which should make roughly the same amount). Let them cool until they're easy to handle with bare hands, then knead in the egg and enough flour to make a smooth dough. Knead the dough until it's not very sticky and is supple. Cut the dough into four pieces, and roll each piece out into a long strip about 1" in diameter. Cut into 3/4" pieces, and roll along the backside of a fork (flour the fork to prevent sticking). Put the pieces on a sheet pan while you roll them all out.

Boil a pot of salted water. When boiling, drop gnocchi into the water (do not overcrowd your pot, and make sure you stir them once each batch of 10-15 is in the pot) and let boil for 2-3 minutes. They will float when they're done, but I like to cook them an extra minute or so. Remove each batch of gnocchi from the pot with a slotted spoon and put in a strainer to wait while you finish the rest. Once done cooking all of them, drain the water out of the pot and return the gnocchi to it. Add the tomato sauce, stir well and let sit over the heat for 2-3 minutes before serving. Serves 2-4 people.

Tomato Sauce:

1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 small onion, sliced into half moons
4-5 button mushrooms, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons olive oil
juice of half a meyer lemon
8 ounces some kind of liquid (I had no wine like I wanted to use, so I went with beer instead)
salt to taste
2 teaspoons parsley
1 teaspoon each: marjoram, basil

Put the onion, mushrooms, oil, lemon and salt in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until onions and mushrooms are soft. Add remaining ingredients and simmer until thick.