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Friday, December 2, 2011

red cabbage braised with apples, bacon, maple, and ginger


i have a special reverence for cabbage. i'm not sure what it is, exactly, that has put cabbage on a pedestal for me, but it's certainly perched up high. it's one of the most beautiful vegetables of any season, and the density i always find surprising and impressive. plus, it just feels healthy. raw, cooked, fermented--i simply love cabbage.

the beauty above is from nash's organic farm. isn't it just so pretty? chopped and cooked for an hour with apples and a couple of strips of bacon, this cabbage was as spectacularly delicious as it was stately and gorgeous. the flavor is spicy and fruity, sweet and sour, and thoroughly perfect. i think it would be a lovely addition to a holiday meal.


chopped cabbage is almost as cool as the whole head. i'm always impressed by the intricate, wrinkled growth patterns, how the leaves nest into each other. neat!


red cabbage braised with maple and ginger
from molly stevens' all about braising

1 tsp olive oil or vegetable oil
2 slices bacon, chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 tart apple, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 medium head red cabbage (about 1 3/4 lbs), quartered, cored, and sliced
1/4 apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup

preheat oven to 300 degrees.

fry the bacon over medium heat in a large, deep, ovenproof braising pan with a tight-fitting lid until crisp, about 5 minutes. add 1 tsp oil if it seems necessary. remove bacon with slotted spoon and drain in paper towels.

add butter to the pan and stir in the sliced onion. season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring periodically, until soft, about 2 minutes. add apple and ginger and stir to combine. increase heat to medium-high and and add the cabbage, a few handfuls at a time, stirring to cook down until it all fits in the pan. cook about 6 minutes, stirring, until the cabbage begins to wilt. add the cider vinegar, syrup, and cooked bacon. stir to combine and let the liquid come to a boil.

cover the pan and put in oven. braise at a gentle simmer, stirring every 20 minutes, until the cabbage is tender, about 1 hour. serve warm or at room temperature.


sources:

bacon from skagit river ranch
cabbage from nash's organic produce
onion from willie green's organics
apple from collins family orchard


Sunday, November 20, 2011

pear soup with blue cheese and bacon



it seems that one of the first things i get excited about when fall rolls around are savory fruit soups. i like the flavors, i like the blended texture, and soup feels so nourishing, especially when it's full of yummy fruit. this one is a pear soup with bacon and blue cheese. (the original recipe called for pancetta, to which i tend to say to-may-to, to-mah-to, primarily because i love the bacon of skagit river ranch so much.) 

the soup alone is delicious, but the bacon and blue cheese elevate it to a richer level. rich enough, really, that it's probably better off as a start to a meal than a main course. i'll type out the recipe as i made it, though should note that next time i'll probably add a little more stock to thin it out just a tad. 

pear soup with bacon and blue cheese
adapted from fiveandspice on food52.com

4 slices bacon, chopped into pieces
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 small clove garlic, chopped
1/4 pound potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
1 small carrot, chopped
1/2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 bartlett pears, peeled, cored, and chopped into 1 inch chunks
1/4 tsp chopped fresh thyme
pinch of fresh grated nutmeg
1 1/2 + cups vegetable or chicken stock (i'd be hesitant to use store-bought chicken stock here--the salt level would probably overwhelm the pear)
couple of tablespoons of greek yogurt (original recipe calls for creme fraiche)
salt and pepper to taste
crumbled blue cheese

in a large soup pot, cook the bacon until crispy. remove with slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. 

pour off all but about a tablespoon of the bacon fat and add a little olive oil to the pot and heat to medium/medium low. add the onion and cook until softened but not browned. stir in the garlic, potato, and carrot and cook, covered, about 10 minutes. add pear, syrup, thyme, and nutmeg and cook a few minutes, stirring, to coat the vegetables in the syrup mixture. 

add broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook, covered, until potatoes, carrots and pears are soft, about 15 minutes. 

blend until smooth. you can blend in batches in the blender, but this is where an immersion blender comes in really handy. 


sources:
bacon from skagit river ranch
pears from...um...crap, i can't remember! someone at the u district farmers market!
potatoes from olsen farms
onion and garlic from willie green's organics
chicken stock made from stokesberry chicken

Saturday, November 19, 2011

roasted brussels sprouts with bacon and maple syrup


i'm no stranger to getting into a rut when it comes to cooking. as much as i enjoy both cooking and eating, i do sometimes get, well, bored. reason #2455 for eating with the seasons: it's exciting! when the weather changes and new crops start to show up on tables at the farmers market, it wakes me right up. welcome, fall, and every delightful fruit and veggie that comes with you!

i look forward to seeing brussels sprouts show up at the markets. to me, they are one of the world's perfect foods. they are adorable, they are packed with healthy goodness, and they have a delicious flavor that is aggressive enough to hold up to all kinds of ingredients and preparations. roasting is my favorite. we tried a  recipe for roasted sprouts with bacon and maple from boston.com this week, wondering if it would unseat our previous favorite, a dish of roasted sprouts with dijon and cream from edible seattle. it did not. still, even though the other recipe wins a spot at this year's thanksgiving table, these sprouts were absolutely delicious. it sounds a little strange, maple syrup on brussels sprouts, but trust me, bacon is the perfect bridge between the two. 


roasted brussels sprouts with bacon and maple syrup

2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved, small ones left whole
2 tablespoons olive oil 
2 tablespoons maple syrup 
3 slices of bacon, cut into1/2-inch pieces 
Salt and pepper, to taste 1.

preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

in large casserole dish, toss sprouts with olive oil, syrup, and salt and freshly ground pepper. (go easy on the salt, since the bacon will be salty.) sprinkle bacon over the top.

roast, stirring a time or two, 25-35 minutes, or until sprouts are caramelized and the bacon is crisp. 

sources:
bacon from skagit river ranch

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

grilled chicken with corn and roasted red pepper relish


here's another go-to recipe for summer, compliments of bobby flay's bold american food. the garlic, ginger and honey marinade is perfect for an otherwise boring chicken breast, and the relish of sweet corn, roasted red pepper, balsamic vinegar, and jalapeno is a great balance of sweetness with just a little heat. bump up the amount of jalapeno or add other chilis if you want more bite, but i find this dish perfect as is. it would also be easy enough to grill the corn and cut it off the cob rather than toast kernels in a pan. your choice!

oh yeah, by the way, I LOVE CORN.

grilled chicken breasts with corn and roasted red pepper relish
from bobby flay's bold american food


for chicken with ginger and garlic marinade:
1 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup coarsely chopped ginger
1/2 cup coarsely chopped garlic
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup honey
4 chicken breasts, pounded out to a fairly consistent thickness

combine all marinade ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. remove from heat and cool.

pour over chicken in a big ziploc bag or pan and refrigerate (covered if in a pan) for 3 hours or up to overnight.

grill over medium heat until juices run clear but it's not overcooked. (for us, this has been 7-10 minutes on each side.)

for corn and roasted red pepper relish:
1 cup roasted corn kernels (see below)
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, diced (see below)
1 Tbsp finely diced onion
1 1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp coarsely chopped cilantro
1/2 jalapeno, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper

combine all ingredients in a bowl, season to taste with salt and pepper. (can be made a day ahead.) serve over grilled chicken breasts.

for roasted corn: preheat oven to 350. remove all of the silk and all but one layer of husks. dip each ear in water. cover the kernels with the husks and arrange corn on baking sheet. roast 45 minutes. cool, and scrape kernels off with a knife. one ear of corn yields about 1/2 cup of kernels.

for roasted red peppers: preheat oven to 350. rub peppers with olive oil and roast on baking sheet 25 minutes. turn once during cooking. remove from oven and put in brown paper bag for 5 minutes to steam. cut peppers in half, pull out the seeds and the stem, and peel off the skins. they should slip right off. these can be easily frozen, too, to have for use in winter dishes!


sources:
corn, peppers, onions, and jalapeno from alvarez organic farms
cilantro from our garden

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

deviled eggs with smoked salmon, capers and dill


now that i've decided i like deviled eggs, i've opened up a whole new world of quick dinners. for these, i took inventory of the fridge, freezer, and herb patch, added up the available ingredients in my head, and did a google search for "deviled eggs with smoked salmon, capers, and dill." quelle surprise, the internet gave me what i asked for.

you can probably imagine what these are like--creamy deviled egg, smokey, salty salmon, and a briny, bright punch from the capers and dill. i thought they were deeelish. rob liked 'em, too. plus, having deviled eggs for dinner seems such a summery thing to do, and anything summery makes me a happy angie. i don't remember what i served it with--probably a cucumber salad. i've been really into cucumber salads lately.

deviled eggs with smoked salmon, capers and dill
from rochester.ynn.com

12 farm eggs
3 Tbsp mayo, plus extra
1-2 tsp dijon mustard
tabasco or other hot sauce
4 oz sliced smoked salmon
2 Tbsp capers, drained
1-2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill

put eggs in large pot and cover with cold water. bring to a boil, cover pot, and turn off heat. let pot sit on the burner for 11 minutes, then remove eggs from pot and drop them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. this method produces a perfect cooked yolk, still lovely and yellow instead of that scary grey-green hue they can take on when overcooked.

 see? pretty!

peel eggs and cut in half. scoop out yolks and add to them in a bowl the mayo, mustard, and a couple of shakes of the hot sauce. smash it all together until it's smooth. taste and adjust seasoning. if it's dry, add a little more mayo.

assemble by scooping a little of the yolk mixture into the egg white, top with a piece of smoked salmon, then more yolk mixture, some capers, and chopped dill. 


sources:
smoked wild alaska pink salmon from loki fish co.
dill from our garden 



Monday, August 8, 2011

Grilled Chicken with Tomato Chutney Chickpeas, Cucumber Radish Salad, and Tahini-Yogurt



there's a tiny pocket of commerce in the middle of our residential neighborhood called "tangletown" where you can find one, and only one, of pretty much everything. one pub and brewery, one coffee shop, one doughnut joint, one sushi restaurant, one dentist, one general market, one dive bar, one chiropractor, and, oddly enough, one kingdom hall are a part of our little hood. (it makes our area feel just like small-town america, until you head a couple of blocks south and catch views of the towering seattle skyline.)

tangletown also has one nice restaurant, and, since 1) we can walk to it and 2) we consistently have great seasonal food and drinks there, it's the seattle restaurant we refer to as "favorite." it's called Eva, and one of their characteristics is that all of the elements on the plate are great, but when they are compiled into one bite, the dish is pretty perfect. a few weeks ago i had a dish of roasted duck with tomato–garlic chickpeas, tahini yogurt, and a salad of cucumber and radish with sumac. i was blown away by this dish. i rarely try to recreate restaurant dishes at home, but this one was so impressive and flavorful, yet fresh and unfussy, that i decided with a couple of modifications we might be able to pull it off. 

it WORKED! first modification--chicken breast instead of duck. it's a completely different texture and flavor, but i am in no way ambitious enough to cook duck. besides, eva does it so well i'll just let them cook it for me. also, i couldn't find sumac anywhere! there are a couple of specialty spice shops around town i'll hit up when i have the chance, but for this dish the sumac was just left out. i found recipes for the components of the dish on various websites, and hoped that when they all came together on the plate they would feel at home with each other. the components went together beautifully, but each is awesome on its own, so mix and match!


for chickpeas with tomato chutney
from quick tomato chutney on mistress-of-spices.com
*vegan *gluten-free

1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp mustard seeds (i used yellow)
1/4 onion, chopped
1 Tbsp chopped ginger
3 medium tomatoes, chopped (i used some from our garden that i'd frozen whole at the end of the season last year. thawed for a few minutes and the skins slipped right off!)
1 Tbsp ketchup
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp garam masala
salt to taste
15 oz cooked chickpeas

heat olive oil over medium heat in a small pan. add mustard seeds. when seeds stop popping, add onion and ginger. saute 3-4 minutes.

add tomatoes and ketchup. stir and cook until tomatoes thicken and reduce. add spices and continue to cook over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens up quite a bit. you want it to cling to the chickpeas. when thickened, add chickpeas, stir to combine, and warm through.


for cucumber-radish salad
from avocado & bravado
*vegan *gluten-free

2 medium cucumbers
4 radishes
1/2 cup diced sweet onion
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp mint, chopped
chopped parsley to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

peel cucumber (i usually leave on about a quarter of the peel), slice into thin coins, then chop into small pieces. using a mandoline, slice the radishes thin and the chop into strips. (you can slice the radishes by hand, but a mandoline makes it so much easier...) combine cucumber and radish with diced onion in bowl.

whisk the vinegar with the olive oil and pour over the veggies. toss together with the herbs and taste for seasoning. add salt and pepper to taste, and more vinegar or herbs to your liking.

for chicken with mediterranean marinade
from the wannabe chef
*dairy-free *gluten-free

3 Tbsp balsamic
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup water
1 bay leaf
2 Tbsp herbes de provence (can substitute other italian herbs)
3/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin (not super-duper thin, just pounded out to be a fairly consistent thickness)

combine first 8 ingredients well. put chicken in ziploc bag and pour in marinade and close bag. refrigerate. normally i like to marinate chicken overnight, but this time it only sat for 3 hours and was super flavorful.

here's where it gets tricky--i don't know exactly how we cooked it. rob grilled it, and every time we fire up the grill we do quick web searches for how long to cook chicken, to what temperature it should reach to be safely cooked, then we toss it on the grill, turn it after a few minutes, check it a few minutes after that, and pull it off the heat when we're happy with it. this time i think we cooked around 5 minutes on each side? (again, the chicken had been pounded out a bit so didn't take very long.) so, i'll say this--cook your marinated chicken however works for you!

for tahini-yogurt sauce
from food & wine
*vegetarian


1/8 cup tahini paste
juice of 1/4 lemon
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup whole milk plain yogurt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
fresh ground pepper and salt to taste

blend tahini paste, lemon juice and olive oil in food processor. add yogurt and blend to mix thoroughly. scrape into bowl and add pepper. taste and add salt, if desired.

to serve
serve chicken, chickpeas and cucumber-radish salad drizzled with yogurt sauce and sprinkled with plenty of chopped cilantro. 

sources:
chickpas from alzarez organic farm
tomatoes, cilantro, and mint from our garden
radishes and onion from stoney plains farm
cucumber from river farm

Friday, July 29, 2011

grilled cheese with mozzarella, kale, and proscuitto


i essentially doubled my cookbook collection a couple of weeks ago. food magazine editors are sent a lot  of cookbooks for promotion, and, lucky me, i happen to know one who had acquired enough of them that she'd created a "free" box that i was invited to pilfer. i came home with 11 shiny new cookbooks, and food and gardening books. SCORE. 

one book that seemed at first as though it had no reason to exist is called grilled cheese, please! i wasn't convinced that the humble (and, let's face it, already mastered) grilled cheese needed 148 dedicated pages, but i took it anyway. and it's spectacular. 

the author, laura werlin, states in her forward that grilled cheese has "grown up." certainly, reading through the recipes she offers, i have to agree. she's using a range of rustic to fancy-pants cheeses and breads, and incorporates tons of other ingredients, including meats, fruits, veggies and pickles. some are dipped in jams or topped with relish. there are plenty of exciting, and a few downright weird, combinations. 

we started with the mozzarella with crispy proscuitto and broccoli rabe recipe, substituting kale for the rabe since we have some growing in our backyard. we talked about this sandwich for days! things like, "i can't believe how much i liked that sandwich!" "yeah, i was just thinking that!" use good fresh italian bread and whole milk mozzarella and you can't go wrong. the recipe calls for crisping up the proscuitto in a skillet before assembling the sandwich, but it doesn't seem necessary to me. crunchy, crispy, gooey, salty, creamy yumminess!

grilled cheese with mozzarella, kale and proscuitto
makes 2 sandwiches

4 thin slices proscuitto
olive oil
1/2 bunch kale, rough chopped
dash of red pepper flakes
4 sandwich-size slices italian bread
4 ounces mozzarella cheese, drained and sliced if water packed, otherwise coarsely grated.

heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. add kale and saute until wilted but still bright green. stir in red pepper flakes, if using. (if your mozzarella is really mild, you may want to add a dash of salt to the kale as well.)

to assemble: brush one side of each bread slice with olive oil. oil side down, add half of kale to two bread slices, then proscuitto, then mozzarella. top with remaining bread. you may need to compress the sandwiches with your hand or spatula if the cheese is piled high.

heat skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes. lower sandwiches in pan, cover, and cook for about 3 minutes. (i know covering it seems weird, but laura insists it's the best way to get the cheese to melt before the bread has a chance to burn.) when browned, flip and cover and cook a minute or so more, until other side browned and cheese is melted. 






Sunday, July 24, 2011

jerry traunfeld's spiced chickpea salad



i first heard about this recipe last fall when i attended a "holiday preview" of sorts at interbay whole foods. they had invited a group of foodie folks to sample their new thanksgiving dinner offerings and, la-di-da, i got to go because jill lightner, the editor of edible seattle, gets invited to this kind of thing and sometimes invites me to come along. at this particular event, food photographer, writer, preparer, eater (not sure what her professional title is, but she seems to do pretty much everything when it comes to food!) myra kohn, who writes the "recipe box" column for edible seattle, came by our table to chat with jill. they talked about recipes she was testing for upcoming issues of the magazine, and one that sounded particularly exciting was a chickpea salad from chef jerry traunfeld. i had to wait until the may/june issue to try it out, but it was worth the wait. 

these chickpeas get a super-yum rating. some even call them addicting. they are spiced but not hot, creamy but not heavy, and are a perfect side dish for spring and summer meals. they also come together really fast. try them as an alternative to potato salad at your next barbeque if you want to serve something deliciously unexpected! 

jerry traunfeld's chickpea salad

2 cups cooked chickpeas
2 tablespoons peanut oil, or other vegetable oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
1/4 teaspoon ajwain seed, or substitute fennel seed or celery seed (i used celery seed)
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1/2 cup whole milk yogurt (i've tried with low-fat and whole milk yogurt, and the whole milk was definitely better!)

put chickpeas in a bowl.

pour oil in small skillet over medium-high heat. when oil is hot, add the mustard seed, cover the pan (the seeds will sputter and pop and be launched out of the pan otherwise), and turn heat to low. when the seeds stop sputtering, uncover and add the cumin, ajwain (or fennel or celery seeds), and chili flakes and cook for about 10 seconds, until spices are fragrant and browning. immediately pour the oil and spices over the chickpeas.

add the lemon juice, salt, cilantro, and green onion and toss to coat. stir in yogurt. serve immediately, or refrigerate and bring to room temperature before serving.

sources:
chickpeas from alvarez farms


Sunday, June 19, 2011

baked manicotti--for my dad, on father's day


remember when you were a kid and a special occasion would roll around for which you'd get to choose what you had for dinner? those were exceptionally special days--no asking "what's for dinner?" and dropping your head in disappointment after hearing "goulash" or, even worse, something involving large slices of stewed onion. no, this was your birthday, and you were in complete control over what would be on your dinner plate. for my brother and me, the answer was always the same--"MANICOTTI! manicottimanicottimanicotti MAAANICOTTIII!" we were absolute fools for the stuff, and our father would dutifully indulge us, every time.

my dad's manicotti wasn't only for for the immediate family. my cousins remember dinners at their aunt noopy and uncle micky's house before my brother and i were born where they would be served a pan of the cheese-filled pasta and a salad presented by lazy susan. there were baby shrimp for the salad. they tell me it was a real treat.

it's always a treat when someone cooks something special for you. there are tons of ways to say "i love you," but a meal prepared with love feeds body, mind and spirit. i know i always feel closer to people i've cooked for, as we sit down to eat. it feels like, "hey, i made this for you. it's food, it'll help you stay alive a little while longer. and it's important to me that you do just that!" 

rob and i made a manicotti together last week. it was good. definitely good. but not as good as my dad's! we went by the recipe for baked manicotti from saveur and made a couple of changes, including adding toasted pine nuts to the cheese filling--rob's inspired idea. 

but, the point here is not so much the dish as it is the association. ever since the recipe landed in my inbox from saveur, i looked forward to trying it, all the while thinking about my father. "daddy used to cook this for us, yay!" and as we stuffed the noodles with cheese, i noted what a pain in the ass it is, and appreciated even more what he was signing up for every time my brother and i got to name our special occasion dinner. 

so, this one is for you, pop/daddy/uncle robert*! thank you for cooking for us, we love you!

my father, master griller and hole-in-one'r extraordinaire, and my mother, accomplished hostess who can set a table that would make martha weep with envy, living it up on a mcminnville, oregon, rooftop 


*"uncle robert" requires some explanation--when i was 4, my parents took me to the beach. playing in the hotel pool i made a friend with some kid about my age, and when his parents said to me, "your dad is calling you," i soberly replied, "oh that's not my father. that's uncle robert." my mother was understandably mortified that her daughter had basically announced to the poolside gathering, "i'm on vacation with my mommy and her boyfriend." to this day we call him "uncle robert," and still have no idea where my little proclamation came from. kids.




Thursday, June 16, 2011

deviled eggs with sorrel-pistachio pesto


i was never much of a deviled egg person. i realize that either my southern roots or the 37 summers i've spent on planet earth should have changed my distaste for them, but neither has. a few weeks ago, something shifted. i was reading through the recipe list on edible seattle's website and found a recipe for deviled eggs with sorrel-pistachio pesto. i was definitely intrigued by the idea of the pesto, not to mention finding out what "sorrel" was, but it wasn't just that. somehow, the idea of a boiled egg with the chalky yolk scooped out and mixed with creamy fat and then mounded back in the gelatinous, hard-cooked white actually sounded good to me. it sounded like a couple of bites of creamy, savory protein, and i suddenly wanted it. 



these are wonderfully delicious, and just writing this post makes me wish i had more in front of me right now. they are indeed savory, not like the traditional sweet pickle treatment, and the pesto is super bright and tangy. sorrel is a very lemony herb, and the pesto of roasted pistachios, sorrel, lemon juice, garlic, parmesan, and olive oil is pretty rich. i tend to love rich, creamy, tangy flavors, so this recipe is great for me. however, if you would miss the sweetness of the relish in some traditional deviled eggs, this recipe may not be the best one for you. either way, using 1 part mayo and 2 parts low-fat yogurt in the yolk mixture is brilliant for lowering the fat and calorie levels!

from edible seattle spring 2008

1 large clove garlic, crushed
1/4 cup toasted pistachios
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 ounces fresh sorrel leaves (about 2 packed cups)
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup (lightly packed) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
6 eggs
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons plain low-fat yogurt
1 tablespoon mayonnaise

for hard-cooked eggs:
(my facebook friends recommended this method, and it worked like a dream.) put the eggs in the pot and cover with cold water. bring to a boil. cover pot, turn the burner off and let it sit on the burner for 11 minutes. remove eggs from pot and drop them into an ice water bath for a few minutes to stop the cooking. (remember that greyish-green color you've seen around some hard-cooked yolks? this method avoids that.)

for pesto:
process the garlic, pistachios, and 1/4 tsp salt in small food processor until chopped. add the sorrel and a bit of fresh cracked pepper and process until a green paste. add the olive oil and process again until blended. remove pesto mixture to a bowl and stir in the parmesan cheese. season to taste with salt and pepper.

for assembly:
when eggs are cooled, peel, half, and scoop out yolks into a bowl. add the mustard, yogurt and mayo and stir to blend. season with salt and pepper. mound the yolk mixture into the egg white halves and top with some of the pesto. 

you'll likely have some pesto leftover which the original recipe says is great spread on sandwiches or grilled fish.


sources:
eggs from stokesberry farms


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

spaghetti alla puttanesca


like this time last year, i have a glut of fruits and veggies in the freezer from last summer's preservation. i counted many, many containers of tomatoes in there recently, and figured since i have 10 tomato plants outgrowing their half-gallon pots and waiting impatiently for me to put them in the ground, it won't be that long before handfuls of cherry and salad tomatoes are coming in from the garden. time to rev up the pace on using the frozen ones!

i found this recipe for spaghetti alla puttanesca and figured it would be a great light pasta dish. it was thoroughly delicious, only i committed a common culinary sin, one that i thought i'd outgrown a long time ago--i seasoned before i'd added all of the ingredients. since i was using my frozen, plain diced tomatoes rather than canned as the recipe called for, i thought i had some salty room to spare. however, capers, olives and anchovies added quite a good bit of salt, and the result was the kind of great that would have been excellent if i'd been a little bit more patient with the seasoning. as rob diplomatically put it, "it's great! i mean, it did get a little salty towards the end..."

so, the lesson is learned one more time--taste and add salt at the end of cooking, especially when ingredients that are nearly pure salt are involved, like anchovies and olives.


speaking of anchovies, leave them out for a vegetarian version of this dish.

spaghetti alla puttanesca
adapted from bon appetit, january 2008

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced
30 ounces diced tomatoes (frozen, canned or fresh)
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
3 anchovy fillets, chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp drained capers
1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano, or 1 tsp dried
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
whole wheat pasta
chopped parsley
grated fresh parmesan

heat oil over medium heat in heavy saute pan and cook garlic, stirring, until fragrant, about a minute. add tomatoes, kalamata olives, chopped anchovies, capers, oregano, and red papper flakes. simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes (depending on how juicy your tomatoes are). taste, then season with salt and pepper.

while sauce cooks, cook pasta to al dente.

serve immediately over cooked spaghetti with parsley and parmesan cheese.


Monday, May 16, 2011

goat's milk cheese for dinner: finally, a sign of spring!


this spring has been terrible. it's been the coldest spring in seattle on record, and as a result, spring crops are painfully slow coming in from local farms. we've been cooking soups and stews from ingredients in the freezer, waiting, waiting, for asparagus, spring peas, fennel--anything to make it seem like seattle spring really is different from seattle winter. eventually, i ran out of meats in the freezer, so on a relatively dry saturday we headed out to the u district farmers market for some ground beef so we could continue on with our maddeningly snores-ville diet of chili.

but guess what? goat's milk has its highest fat content in spring, during kidding season, and that makes for some pretty decadent fresh cheese. so when we saw the port madison goat farm and dairy booth, we thought, oh yes--cheese plate dinner.

we brought home two amazing cheeses from port madison--a fresh chevre and their short-season spring cheese. the chevre was bright white, incredibly creamy, and had a barely-there texture. the flavor was wonderful, and relatively mild. the spring cheese is a goat's milk cheese that is aged two months, with a great springy texture (its name seems to describe it in two ways) and a fantastic mild goat flavor. the spring cheese can only be made during the first couple of months of the milking season, so spring and early summer are the times to look for this one.

also on our plate were honey hazelnut crackers from beecher's in pike place market, stewed dried apricots from pipitone farm, hazelnuts from holmquist (because they are THE BEST), and vanilla rhubarb preserves. by combining cracker, cheese, and fruit, we quickly made a welcomed observation--each bite tasted like cheesecake!

super simple stewed dried apricots below, from deborah madison's book, seasonal fruit desserts. this is a truly stunning book, and anyone into fruit or dessert should have this on their shelves.


dried apricots stewed with vanilla and honey
adapted from compote of dried fruit, seasonal fruit desserts by deborah madison

3/4 cup honey
1/2 vanilla bean, or substitute high-quality vanilla extract
2 cups dried apricots, or mix of dried fruits
3 cups water

combine water and honey in saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring. scrape vanilla bean seeds into pan and add pod, or add vanilla extract. add fruit, reduce heat to low, and cook until apricots are soft, about 10-15 minutes. (could be longer if using mixed fruit.)

when fruit is cooked, remove from the pan with a spoon, leaving the syrup in the pan. simmer syrup for a few minutes to thicken, then pour over fruit.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

homemade bloody mary mix



spring officially arrived on march 20th, and i have yet to officially acknowledge it here. (probably because it's barely broken 50 degrees in seattle in the last 6 weeks and that's a buncha--sorry, what? me? oh no no, i'm not bitter!)

so, a month late and without further delay, my spring 2011 posts will begin the way all things should--with a big ol' bloody mary.

bloody marys, full octane or virgin, embody everything i consider wonderful. rich, red tomato awesomeness, black pepper, salty brine, spice that makes your eyelids sweat just a little--YUM. i used to keep a bottle of mix on hand for a jolt of tomato/spice in the morning or as a mid-afternoon boost, but last summer decided to try making my own.



i started by juicing pounds and pounds of tomatoes using my juiceman, and froze the juice until i could get around to my project. last week i finally thawed some and went for it. ya know, it was really, really good! the juice simmered with chopped veggies for a while, then it was all blended into essentially a drinkable, spicy tomato salad. it tastes terrific on it's own as a juice, and is a great base for customizing your own bloody mary with more horseradish, worcestershire, black pepper, lemon, preserved lemon, lime, olives, pickled veggies, bacon, seafood--and the poison of your choice. (if you're really into heat, try adding a bit of hot monkey vodka from portland's new deal distillery, but be warned--you'll wanna take baby steps adding this stuff. it is seriously fiery!)

i've looked around online and realized that i could've just cooked my tomatoes down instead of put them through the juicer. i think next year i'll definitely try this approach, since the yield using the juice is kind of low--can't remember how many tomatoes it took to get a quart + a pint of juice, but it was plenty, and the juice cooked down to a quart of bloody mary mix. anything that adds to the yield is a good thing, if you ask me!



homemade bloody mary mix
makes about 1 quart
(all measurements approximate, and mostly "to taste." experiment with your own, and leave suggestions in the comments! i'm totally giving this another go in a couple of days!)

1 quart + 1 pint juice from fresh tomatoes
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1/4 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1/4 red pepper, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped and loosely packed
some salt, some fresh cracked pepper

combine all ingredients and simmer, partially covered, about 1 hour. vegetables should be very tender, juice should be slightly reduced. allow to cool a bit and blend until pureed. (may need to blend in batches.) don't blend hot! it will blow the top off of your blender and you'll be cleaning up tomato juice for weeks.

return to pot and taste. (i simmered a bit longer with the added spices--not sure if it was necessary, but i felt fine about it. ) add the following to taste:

more fresh cracked pepper
more salt
lemon juice (i added juice from almost 1 whole lemon)
couple of splashes of sherry vinegar
1 Tbsp worcestershire sauce (make your own, it's stupid-good!)*
1 tsp prepared horseradish (put a little of the juice mixture in a bowl, whisk in the horseradish, then add the mix back to the pot for easiest integration.)
dashes of your favorite hot sauce

stir, taste, add. stir, taste, add. when ya like it, chill and enjoy as is, or wait until saturday morning and spike it up!


tomatoes and red bell pepper from last fall from alvarez farms
carrots from willie greens organics 
pint glass from one of our favorite stops in prosser, whitstran brewing!

*note: omit or use vegetarian worcestershire for a vegetarian/vegan version

Friday, April 1, 2011

kale, sausage and leek gratin--failure avoided!


we stopped by stokesberry farm's booth at the ballard farmers market a couple of weeks ago, hoping to pick up a whole chicken for roasting. janelle told us she didn't have chickens that day, but offered to show us their chicken sausage with sage and garlic just as an fyi. ok, great, good to know, thanks! about 5 minutes later we were back at her booth, money in hand. i'd just bought some gorgeous kale and leeks from anselmos farm, and had a solid vision of a kale and chicken sausage gratin in mind.

i'd wanted to make the sausage and winter greens gratin from edible seattle for months. when i pulled up the recipe, however, i realized that it was calling for more greens than i'd purchased, and it did not use leeks. so my first revision was to leave out the chard and collards, and add the leeks. revision #2--we had breakfast sausage rather than italian, but at this point we were still largely on track. i followed the rest of the recipe as written, got it in the oven, and then *zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz POP*, smoke started coming up through the eyes on the stove. the lower heating element in the oven was aflame. the oven, tragically, was dead. thus, revision #3--i had to cook the gratin on the stove top, stirring occasionally so it didn't burn on the bottom, then add more cheese to the top and finish it under the broiler for a few minutes to get a crunchy top.

this was a damn good gratin! after all the changes i made on the fly, i couldn't possibly type out what the final recipe was. but that's the beauty of a gratin, and of a well-written recipe--you can make substitutions, you can add your personal touch, evidently in some cases you can even cook it without an oven, and it's still going to be great. just start with awesome ingredients, like the chicken sausage with garlic and sage from stokesberry farms, which was, by the way, so totally delicious that we almost ate it all before i could get it mixed in with the greens.

check out the original recipe, sausage and winter greens gratin, and do with it what you will!


sources:
sausage from stokesberry sustainable farm
kale and leeks from anselmos farms

Friday, March 25, 2011

all-day baked beans with bacon, rum, and honey


i flew home to georgia last week to surprise my parents for their birthdays. i'd coordinated with my brother and cousin to arrive undetected and make a grand entrance, and, thanks to a flawless execution, they were, indeed, surprised. we had so much fun for the week.

during my visit, my favorite aunt jane made it clear that she USED TO enjoy reading my blog, but obviously i wasn't cooking anymore, because i hadn't updated the blog in SO long. but i have! so, aj, this one is for you!


i decided one cold, drizzly day not too long ago that i wanted a good ol' southern barbeque experience, but i didn't want to cook any meat. enter this recipe for baked beans from edible seattle, plus some cornbread and chopped cabbage slaw, and the meat was not missed at all.

IMPORTANT: these are called "all-day" because they cook, well, all day. seriously. 8 hours. don't think that you'll magically speed up the process, as i did, and ended up cooking them over two days. no, just take my word for it. they're going to cook all day.

the recipe is absolutely fantastic. i was skeptical at first, that the flavors were too mild and the results would be bland. i was wrong. so very wrong. they are rich, creamy, sticky, and perfect. they cook so long that the bacon melts away into the gooey sauce, which is pretty decadent. recipe makes 6 servings, and you'll be glad to have the leftovers.

all-day baked beans with bacon, rum, and honey
from edible seattle, march/april 2010

1/2 lb thick-cut bacon
1 lb red or red kidney beans, cooked until tender (this is roughly 6 cups, roughly 4 cans)
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup dark rum
2 Tbsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup honey (recipe calls for spicy honey, which i didn't have, but it would be great in these beans)

preheat oven to 325 degrees. in a bowl, mix the beans with molasses, rum, mustard, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper to taste.


chop the bacon and add it to the bottom of a dutch oven. pour the beans on top of the bacon, and add water to cover the beans to about twice their depth and cook, uncovered, for 2 hours. the liquid should barely simmering.


stir beans, and continue cooking, checking every half hour and stirring the caramelized bits back under (you can scrape the sticky bits from the sides, too), until all of the water is absorbed. (i was shy with the amount of water i added at the beginning, so i actually added water throughout the cooking process as the beans absorbed the liquid. worked out just fine.)

the recipe says the beans will cook 3 to 8 hours. as i said, mine cooked for a full 8, over the course of 2 days since i'd planned poorly. the beans will be done when the liquid is absorbed, the beans are plump and creamy, gooey and soft, and the top is caramelized.

stir in honey, season to taste with salt and pepper, and enjoy!


sources:
bacon from skagit river ranch
red beans from alvarez organic farm
honey from sweet as can bee honey farm

Monday, February 14, 2011

creamy carrot and coconut milk soup with thai red curry


it's me! i'm here! i haven't been gone far, not at all-- i've been in my kitchen, cooking away, but seem to have let post-to-blog time slip out of my schedule. in fact, i'm sitting on 5 blog posts right now, just waiting for me to feature a pic and do the typy-typy thing to get them out. hopefully i'll make it through that pile in the next couple of weeks!

the next post in the queue was supposed to be a braised cabbage dish, but today is valentine's day, and even on my very best days i'd have a hard time making braised cabbage seem sexy. this carrot and coconut milk soup with red curry, on the other hand, is a different story entirely. it is velvety, spicy, creamy and rich, and, dare i say, exciting.

as usual, rob's reaction to what i cook is part of my evaluation of the dish. i'm almost always a minute or so behind him to sit down to eat because i hang behind to put away cat-temping ingredients and perishables. normally, once i get to the table i get the assessment from rob. this time, he left the table and met me in the kitchen to tell me how "freakin' awesome" this soup was. i agree! it's a thick, savory soup with a hint of sweetness from winter carrots (they're sweeter after the frost), and the creamy coconut milk balances the heat from the curry and chili sauce perfectly. it's so thick and rich that, if we'd had leftovers, i'd have considered serving them over rice like a curry dish.

the spices can be adjusted according to your own heat and spice preferences. use veggie broth for a vegan version.

carrot and coconut soup with thai red curry
from PCC natural markets, also printed in edible seattle's january 2009 issue

3 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp minced ginger
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
7-8 large carrots, cleaned and sliced
1/2 tsp thai red curry paste
1/4 cup thai sweet chili sauce (we used chili sauce, not labeled as "sweet")
fresh ground black pepper
1 cup coconut milk (we used light)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
lime wedges

heat oil over medium heat in soup pot. add garlic and ginger and saute one minute. add broth and carrots and simmer about 15 minutes, or until carrots are softened. let cool slightly and puree in blender or using an immersion blender in the pot.

return mixture to pot and add red curry paste, chili sauce, soy sauce and black pepper. simmer 5 minutes. stir in coconut milk and cilantro. adjust seasonings to taste, and serve with lime wedges.

sources:
carrots from nash's organic produce
garlic from anselmos farm
chicken stock made from stokesberry farm chicken

Monday, January 31, 2011

moroccan chicken with green olives & preserved lemons


i don't think i've mentioned here yet that my super-sweet boyfriend surprised me on my birthday with-- wait for it-- a 3.5 quart, cherry red, enameled cast iron, le creuset dutch oven! mine. all mine. when i told my facebook friends about it, one said, without hesitation, "now go get molly steven's book, all about braising." i did as he instructed and am so impressed with this book! it's a wonderful step-by-step explanation of braising techniques and principles, and every recipe i've made has been mouth-wateringly perfect.

i recently added to my braising equipment when, through a serendipitous series of factors including a gift card (from super-sweet boyfriend two birthdays ago) and a massive after-christmas sale, i bought a 4-qt. all-clad braiser for less dough out-of-pocket than i'd spend on a couple of packages of bacon from skagit river ranch. hellz yeah.

so now, let's cook.

one of the first recipes i made was a moroccan chicken with green olives and preserved lemons. it's difficult to get a good photo of braised meat, but trust me, it was better than it looks! tangy, briny and bright, with a rich, savory sauce. all of the cooking is done on the stove top, so i used my all-clad pan, which was plenty big to accommodate a 3-lb cut-up chicken.


moroccan chicken with green olives and preserved lemons
adapted from all about braising by molly stevens

for spice mix:

1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

for the braise:

1/2 cup unpitted green olives
1 3 to 3 1/2 pound chicken, cut into eight pieces (save back, neck, feet, etc for making stock)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
kosher salt
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, parsley, or a mixture of both
1/2 (4 eighths) preserved lemon (the recipe calls for discarding the pulp and using only the peels, but i decided to just chop the pieces with pulp. next time i'll even add a little more because they are SO delicious. *note: molly says if you don't have preserved lemon, do not substitute regular lemon peels as they will not be the same thing at all. rather, squeeze in juice from half a lemon during the first braise step, and stir in the rest as you finish the sauce.)

the spices: in small bowl, stir the spices together. in separate bowl, cover the olives with water and let them soak.

the chicken: rinse chicken pieces with cool water and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels. season with salt and pepper. heat oil and butter in braising pan, or large saute pan, over medium-high heat. add half of chicken to pan, skin side down, and leave to brown without disturbing them, 4 minutes or so. lift with tongs to see if skin is browned and crispy, then turn and brown other side, about 4 minutes. transfer to plate and repeat with rest of chicken. remove to plate and set aside. 

the aromatics: pour off all but 1 Tbsp of fat from the pan, and lower heat to medium. add onion and garlic, stirring, and cook about 3 minutes to soften. (don't burn the garlic! if it starts to brown too fast, move on to the next steps.) add spice mix and saute about one minute more.

the braising liquid: pour water in pan to deglaze, scraping up browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.

the braise: when water boils, return the chicken to the pan, wings, legs and thighs only, cover, reduce heat to low, and cook 10 minutes. if liquid is at a lively simmer, reduce heat so that it's a slow simmer. turn legs and thighs over with tongs and add chicken breasts, placing them skin-side up on top of the other chicken pieces. sprinkle with half of chopped herbs, cover, and braise 20 minutes more. 

the olives and lemons: drain the olives. remove pits by smashing olives with the flat side of a knife, open olives like a book, and remove the pit. (this is surprisingly fun. i thought so anyway. oh, and i have to imagine there's a reason why she calls for unpitted olives that she then tells you to pit-- maybe less salty this way? higher quality olives have pits? dunno. but i did as i was instructed.) rinse the preserved lemon pieces and chop into chunks. 

after the chicken breasts are added and the 20 minute braising time is over, add olives and preserved lemons and turn chicken pieces again. cover and braise another 10-15 minutes, making total braise time 40-45 minutes. check for doneness-- juices should run clear when pieces are pierced with a sharp knife. transfer chicken out of pan and cover to keep warm. 

the finish: increase heat under braising liquid to meduim-high and bring to a boil. simmer sauce until it thickens a bit. add the rest of the herbs and season to taste with salt and pepper. serve sauce spooned over chicken.


sources:
garlic from anselmos