Thursday, June 30, 2016

May and June recipes worth remembering

Farro salad

A mashup of two NY Times recipes,  Charly Bird's Farro Salad and Quinoa and Asparagus Salad

My version:
  • Cook 1 cup farro in 3 cups of water with 2 bay leaves and some salt, about 30-40 minutes. Let it cool.
  • Mix together
    • 8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Toast some pistachios, say about 1/2 cup
  • Lightly blanch some asparagus, you want it crispy
  • Mix all together with
    • 2 cups arugula leaves
    • 1 cup basil leaves, torn
    • 1 cup mint leaves
    • ¾ cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
    • cup thinly sliced radish
    • feta, cubed, about 3/4 of a cup or to your liking
    • S&P to taste 
  • you could make this with any number of vegetables
Napa Cabbage Salad


1/2 c buttermilk
1/2 c yogurt
1/2 c feta
Fresh basil
Fresh dill
2T apple cider vinegar plus or minus
1 t honey
S&P to taste (might not need much bc of feta)
Blend in vitamix for long enough for feta to get creamy 

Slice up Napa cabbage, add some purple grapes (I used Sapphire grapes, which are purple and long and delicious) and dress. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

February recipes worth remembering

Quinoa Rice Bowls

Skipped the kimchi, added grated carrot and edamame - delicious

Also from NY Times Cooking
Roasted Chicken Provencal 

Pasta and Fried Zuchini Salad
Plenty, page 254

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Christmas dessert recipes 2015

Good Eats Alton Brown's Free Range Fruitcake Rum Loaf

Jamie's Grandmother's Figgy Pudding (oops, upside down). We made it with Udi's GF bread and it was yummy

Nigella Lawson's chocolate orange flourless cake (it was good but it turns out Alison doesn't like orange cake and what's the point of making a GF cake that she doesn't like?)

Ginger Stout Cake - quite possibly the best cake I have eaten. Ever.  

Friday, September 12, 2014

Nothing says Welcome to My Rental Home like Gray Chicken

                Laurie Colwin might have felt liberated by rental house cooking, but I was stymied. It was one of those ill-advised invitations that is extended on the shoulder of the morning caffeine high and by mid-afternoon, I was thinking, “What was I thinking?”
                I invited Mom and Steve to come to dinner. I chose to make a simple white wine and tarragon braised chicken. Apparently, not only did I leave all my cookbooks behind in Virginia, I also left my lifetime of accumulated experience, experience that would have guided me away from braised chicken with vivid memories of its rubbery texture, would have warned me off cooking with white wine bc the flavor is so unpleasant, so sour and tangy, so like white wine. And never mind the tarragon. In Virginia I knew to elide tarragon in any recipe. Here I embraced it like some 1962 House Beautiful-reading, Julia Child-imitating Stepford wife.
                The first thing I was missing was a wine bottle opener. Well, really the first thing I was missing were chicken thighs. None of those to be had, so I subbed in breasts and drumsticks. I burned the butter and browned the chicken in it anyway; I burned the shallots, but the recipe said they should begin to caramelize, so I flipped them over and burned the other side.
                Then it came time for the wine. No opener, not even a Swiss army knife. Nary a Leatherman to be found. Who lives here? Pentecostalists? Everything is in English. Mormons? Only one master bedroom.  
                After a few misbegotten attempts with a flat-nosed screw driver and a hammer, and then a Phillips head screw driver and hammer, I found my way with this tool. 

Not sure what it’s called, but it worked beautifully to hammer the cork into the bottle and then to hold the cork at bay as I poured the wine out. Mustard, tarragon, simmer til done, simmer til thick, simmer til rubbery, then simmer some more to reheat.
                I had decided to accompany the chicken with Brussels sprouts roasted with bacon. I’m not sure about the complementing flavors, but usually I love these. The rental house oven needs some calibrating, so in the time it took to walk Mom and Steve around the house looking for the cable box, the Brussels sprouts had been burnt to their carbon essence.
                I had bought a loaf of olive bread, so there was that.
                The finished chicken was gray. There was the assaultive white wine flavor. And then there was another off flavor, something with a vaguely chemical top note and a decidedly petroleum finish. I thought it could have been from the shreds of wine cork which were actually plastic—classier than screw top, but without the pretentions and impracticality of real cork. Then I wondered if I should have washed that mystery tool before I poked it into the wine, at least rinsed off the Rust-Oleum. When a green flatworm wriggled onto my fork, I realized it was the tarragon. It came back to me with the force of a fabricated repressed memory of devil worship and kitten sacrifice—I loathe tarragon.

                Mom repeated a variation on, “This chicken is delicious” at least ten times. After the second time, you know it is just pity praise. Not only was the chicken disgusting, it was so rubbery cutting it risked some terrible slapstick routine where the chicken goes flying into your mother just as your chair loses purchase and tips over backwards and only the dogs are happy until one of them chokes on a bone.
                When I said that I thought the Brussels sprouts were burned, she insisted that she likes them crispy. With a mother like that, a dismal dinner can transubstantiate into a tolerable meal, and you wake up the next morning telling yourself, “That wasn’t so bad,” and answering, “It could have been worse,” reminding yourself that the wine was good (mom brought it, with an opener) and reflecting that the napkins sure looked  peppy. 


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Cow Pie Cobbler

Dear Marg,

The berries at the farmer's market were irresistible. My friend Jean had made a wonderful summer vegetable galette based on this recipe. It seemed like I could fuse the two together. At least it tasted good.

Love, Elise

Monday, August 25, 2014

Summer Weekend

Dear Margaret,

Do you remember who said that the two most perfect words in the English language are summer afternoon? I would add summer weekend as the second two most perfect words.

We spent the last one with Bob and Erin and Erin's parents at their place in the San Juans. It was the most perfect of summer weekends - work (we helped them paint), exercise (hike, bike and kayak), good food, several naps, some reading, and lots of sitting on the deck watching the ocean. I even went swimming in the 54 degree water in your honor.

It's salmon season here and the purse seiners were out fishing. Every evening they came into the bay in front of the house, lights on and the sounds of men's voices ringing through the dusk. The salmon buyer was there, recognizable by the bright red buoys on the side of his boat that allow the fishing boats to tie up to it. It was fun to think of the salmon making their way from right in front of the house to markets and restaurants all over the world.

The sounds are so interesting there. So different. The squawk of the great blue heron and the snorting FWOOF! of the seals are punctuated by an oyster catcher's ululating and an eagle's high pitched cry. It was fascinating to sit on the deck in the morning with the fog so thick you couldn't see a creature and just listen to them.

The cake is David Leibovitz' Raspberry Nectarine Upside Down Gingerbread Cake. The recipe really hit a chord for me. Since Amos' birthday is in June and gingerbread is his favorite cake we always have a bit of stand off. Here's how it goes.

Me: what kind of cake do you want for your birthday?
A: gingerbread
Me: long silence...
A: ... but whatever  you want to make will be fine...
Me: no, it's okay. I can make it. It's just so... unseasonal, that's all.
A: how about something else then? maybe with berries?
Me: no, it's fine. Long sigh.

I was intrigued that DL who I trust implicitly with all things dessert would pair summer fruit with a fall cake. I had to try it. And you know what? There will be a different conversation next June. The recipe is at the end of the post. Past all the photos.

 Nectarine-Raspberry Upside Down Gingerbread Cake
from Ready for Dessert, David Lebovitz‘s latest book

For the fruit topping:
4 tablespoons salted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cup fresh, ripe raspberries (I used less because that's what I had)
3-4 medium-ripe nectarines, pitted and sliced

For the cake:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup of mild molasses (I used Grandma's Old Fashioned)
2 large eggs (at room temperature)
1/4 cup milk (also room temp)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Place the butter in a 9 inch round cake pan and melt over low heat, then stir in the brown sugar. Remove from the burner and let cool while you prep the fruit.
3. Evenly distribute the raspberries over the brown sugar/butter mixture. Then, scatter the nectarine slices on top of the raspberries. DL suggests overlapping circles but that was too fussy for me. Set aside while you make the cake.
4. Whisk the dry ingredients together.
5. Beat the butter and sugar on medium speed for about 3-5 minutes (until it is light and fluffy).
6. Beat in the molasses.
7. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
8. Mix in half of the dry ingredients, stir in the milk, then mix in the rest of the dry until just incorporated.
9. Pour the batter over the fruit, and even it out.
10. Bake the cake for about 50-55 minutes according to DL. When I tested it for doneness by inserting a wooden toothpick into the center it was still soupy inside. It ended up taking just over an hour for me.
11. If you make the cake ahead of time so you can take it with you to an island, carry it in the pan and then heat it up at 200 degrees for about 15 minutes or so. Invert onto a plate and photograph while your waiting friends curse you and your camera.

It is excellent with port.

Love, Elise

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Luang Prabang Fusion Salad

Dear Marg,

It's hot here. Very hot. By any standards, but by Seattle standards it's a melter. 94 degrees and not an air conditioner in sight. I made this salad a few months ago and loved it so this seemed like the perfect time to try it again.

I basically followed the recipe except for leaving out the chili pepper, and substituting Italian parsley for cilantro. You know how I feel about cilantro. Next time I am going to make it with turkey and add some mint leaves to the greens.

Luang Prabang Salad recipe

Give it a try next time the temperatures rise in your 'hood. I'm going to crawl into the refridgerator now for a nap.

Love, Elise