Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Photo Essay

Chocolate-Persimmon Muffins

Hubby made breakfast.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dehydrated Peppers

Still working hard in the kitchen.  I have been drying red padron  peppers along with my remaining tomatoes, and making my weekly batch of yogurt.  I had two guest chefs from across the Atlantic.  They prepared a wonderful lasagna.

One more thing.  Don't we all love fall?  I know I love the lovely fall foliage and the change in weather leading to getting out my fun fall clothes.  The crispy chill in the air is so refreshing.  Here is a great natural food giveaway. Check it out!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Roasting Tomatoes

Too busy to talk or write.  Tomatoes have been keeping me busy along with planning someone's French themed anniversary party. I can't post the menu until after the party, cause someone might peek.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Caramelized Onion and Radicchio Quiche

This wonderful recipe from In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite helped me make use of the beautiful head of radicchio which arrived as part of my CSA share. It was delicious even though I used a frozen spelt crust.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Busy, Busy Me

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Trust the Zuni Cafe Cookbook

We ate almost all of the Fagioli All'Uccelletto from the Zuni Cafe cookbook before I took a picture. This recipe belied its fabulous flavor. This recipe explains why I always trust Judy Rodgers implicitly. No matter how simple her recipes look in the book I can count on the flavor being exquisite.  This recipe made use of food I had in the house, so I chose it for the ease of staying home.  It looks like a simple bean recipe but every bite was succulent and flavorful. Another of my favorites from this cookbook is the Artichokes Baked with Onions, Lemons, Black Olives and Mint.  If you love great food buy, or borrow this cookbook and get cooking.

Tomato Time

Tomato season is upon me.  I've been busy in the kitchen as evidenced by these photos.  I've been oven roasting (advice:  don't get involved in other projects while oven roasting at 400°. I ate the crispy ones, the very dark crispy ones.), dehydrating and saucing. I am on the dreaded candida diet so I am making muffins and bread that are yeast and refined flour free.  The muffin and bread recipes I baked come from 101cookbooks.  Here are the results.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Faux Risotto with Favas

I apologize for my long absence from this blog.  It is difficult to blog without a space-bar.  It seems to be even more difficult to get the correct part and competent help from my computer's manufacturer. Finally my husband's computer tech found a work-around and so here I am. 
I have a puzzle for all you readers. I accidentally found a way to make a quick rice dish that is similar to risotto both in taste and creamy satisfaction. I know you purists out there will insist that risotto can only be made in the traditional, time consuming, hand stirring, broth adding way.  And I agree with you.  However, this is a great discovery for me.  It allows me to use leftover brown rice and any vegetables from my CSA box that are lurking in my fridge. What I want you readers to do is guess what the mystery ingredient is that makes the magic.  
I will reward the first person to post the correct ingredient with a copy of Simple French Food by Richard Olney.   I will reveal the full recipe next week when I return from Yosemite.  It feels so good to be back.

Friday, April 22, 2011

More dandelion greens

I share my CSA box with a friend. She was telling me how she needed to cut the bitterness in the dandelion greens from this week's box. I told her that I used yogurt on top of my dandelion stuffed crepe to cut the bitterness, as well as, a bit of cider vinegar in the greens recipe. She made me think, though, of all the ways I could cut bitterness, or make it more a part of the recipe itself.  Bitterness can be mitigated by anything smooth and creamy, like cream cheese, cream, milk or even potatoes. This got me thinking about how to fix my last bunch of bitter dandelion greens. My friend said she used pine nuts and lots of butter in her recipe, but I went a different route.  I sautéed cubed pancetta in oilive oil and butter, threw in diced calcot onions, added the chopped greens and 1/2 c vegetable broth, covered the pot on a low flame for 15 minutes.  Then when I removed the lid I added 1 cup of boiled, diced creamer potatoes.  I peeled some and left the skin on others. (strictly out of laziness, I peeled the ones whose skin came off easily) I stirred it all around for 4 minutes, added 1/4 cup grated Parmesan and served it alongside Dorie's carrot salad from Around my French Table. The whole preparation was fast and the dinner was comforting and no more bitter than was pleasing to my palate.
 Point to remember: potatoes mitigate bitterness.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dandelion Greens

I have been cooking these last few weeks even though I have been absent from this blog.  Important activities have kept me away. I have been to the Sunday farmer's market at Fort Mason, as evidenced by the lovely bouquet of sustainably grown ranunculus pictured above. I have cooked Heidi Swanson's multigrain pancakes from her new and wildly popular Super Natural Everyday.  The batter seemed very runny, but I trusted Heidi, and the pancakes were very tasty.  I like to make a batch of pancakes in the morning and eat them throughout the day. For lunch I'll heat a couple with cream cheese on top. I love cream cheese, my current favorite is Nancy's cultured cream cheese.

Some of my culinary creations have been simpler though.  I made one of my quick and tasty comfort foods, English muffin pizzas.  These I made with Rudi's spelt English muffins, with Annie's organic ketchup, a friend's bruschetta topping and manchego cheese. The result made me very happy. I tried the English muffins toasted but they were mushy and plain, so they became the base for these pizzas.  Under the broiler they came out crunchy and satisfying. 

Last night I went into the kitchen intending to cook a bunch of dandelion greens simply, maybe just sauteed in olive oil. Before I knew it I was tossing in soaked dried shitakes and porcinis, pancetta, cider vinegar, calcot onions and cubed mango.  I stuffed the greens into amaranth-cornmeal crepes from Heidi's previous cookbook.  My husband was pleasantly surprised with what I placed on the table before him. He said "I thought you were tired". But I explained that one thing led to another and the recipe just put itself together.

Dandelion Green Stuffed Crepes
 For the crepe batter use the quinoa and corn flour crepe batter recipe in Super Natural Cooking or any other crepe recipe you can find.  I substituted amaranth flour for the quinoa because I had it on hand and did not have any quinoa flour.
1 bunch dandelion greens, washed and cut in 1 inch lenghts.
1/2 cup diced pancetta
1 -2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup dried mushrooms of any kind soaked in boiling water for 20 minutes and diced
1-2 calcot onions or green onions, sliced into small pieces
1 cup vegetable broth or water
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 cup mango, diced small
12 slices manchego cheese, thinly sliced with a vegetable peeler
Greek yogurt  to top crepes

Heat olive oil in  frying pan. Toss in pancetta and cook until crisp. Add mushrooms and onions and cook for 5 minutes, but don't let the mushrooms burn.  Add greens and broth or water, and vinegar, season with salt and pepper bring to a simmer. Lower heat to med low, cover and cook for 10-15 minutes checking every five minutes to be sure there is liquid remaining. Remove lid and cook until liquid evaporates.
Turn off heat and add mango.
Heat another frying pan and grease with butter. Pour in 1/4 cup crepe batter ,swirl to coat pan with batter. Pan should be over medium heat. When batter no longer looks moist, flip crepe over in pan with spatula.  Add 1/3 cup greens mixture to cover half  of the crepe, top with 3-4 slices cheese and flip over the other side of crepe.  It will look like a half circle.
Let heat for 30 seconds. Remove to an oven safe platter and keep warm in very low oven until all crepes are cooked.
Top plated crepes with 1 tablespoon yogurt.

Tomorrow I plan on baking Nigella Lawson's Lemon Polenta Cake. And work on my cookbook pile.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tasty Meal for One

Some of my tastiest kitchen concoctions have been created for a solitary meal for myself. When preparing food foe me alone I feel free to mix in a little of this and that without fear of failure. The result is often a simple but new and successful combination of flavors. Tonight I baked a sweet potato and topped it with roasted walnut oil, ground, dried kelp and bucheron cheese. Three simple toppings created a winner.  It is difficult to find roasted walnut oil in this country. There is a new vendor at the Ferry Building's Saturday farmers market that produces a walnut oil that rivals the French walnut oils. The producer is Glasshoff Farms, a third generation local farmer, located in Suisun Valley.  Here is their website. I recommend their roasted walnut oil as well as their jams.    Do read their story and look for their stand. 
I also made myself a wilted frisee salad with pine nuts and fresh garlic based on a recipe in this month's vegetarian times magazine. 

Warm Frisee Springtime Salad 
1/4 cup pine nuts
 2 stalks of fresh garlic, sliced on diagonal
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
2 organic navel oranges
1 lb. frisee, washed and torn
1T tablespoon balsamic
1/4 cup parmigiano  reggiano grated with vegetable peeler

1. Place nuts, galic, olive oil and butter in small skillet.  Cook over low heat for ten minutes or until pine nuts and garlic are golden.
2. Meanwhile, remove zest from orange and reserve for another use. (You can mince the zest, dry it for a couple of days and add to salads, hot cereals. Store in a small jar when thoroughly dry.) Stand orange upright on cutting board and remove remaining peel and pith with knife, following curve of fruit from top to bottom. Repeat with the other orange and set aside.
3. Place frisee in a large bowl. Pour  hot oil with garlic and pine nuts over greens. Cut sections of orange along membranes while holding over the bowl to catch the juices, as if slicing out a wedge and release wedges one by one.  Repeat with second orange. Toss. Add balsamic, toss again. Add cheese and divide among 2-4 plates.

Based on Wilted Dandelion Salad with Pine Nuts and Crispy Garlic Vegetarian Times, April/May 2011. Pg 64.

I am so thrilled to be able to get my orchids to re-bloom here in this wonderful city filled with moist air, I had to show it off.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cold Comforting Broccoli Salad

Here is my favorite flower presentation from last week's Bouquets to Art at the DeYoung art museum. This kimono was created entirely from plant material.  The arrangement transported me to a place deep within a dark forest. I could well have slipped of the shoes the artist created and placed to the left of the kimono, just above the calming pond. I want to gaze into that pond alone in quietude of the forest. There I would find the peace that has been so elusive to me of late.  Here are a few more pictures from the exhibit.

I must confess that I included these flower pictures to distract from the awful pictures I shot of my broccoli salad. I was so hungry and wet and cold when I made the salad and I was so pleased with the way the flavors came together that I rushed the photography.  I did not check the photos until the salad had been eaten.  The salad was delicious.  I now feel comforted despite the wind and the rain which refuse to go away.
I used cold broccoli left from yesterday's lunch mixed with protein contributing seeds, (I have been tracking my calories and it turns out I get only 18% protein at best.  I have been told this is not enough) I mixed olive oil mayo thinned with greek yogurt, miso and naturally fermented soy sauce for flavor and beneficial bacteria.  I added meyer lemon juice for kick. I ate my salad along with a warm cup of jasmine green tea. The following recipe will revive one tired, damp soul satisfyingly.

Broccoli Salad
1 cup cooked broccoli, chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 generous teaspoon raw sunflower seeds
1 generous teaspoon sesame seeds

2 teaspoons olive oil mayo
2 teaspoons nonfat greek yogurt
1 teaspoon white miso
1 teaspoon tahini
juice of half a meyer lemon
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Whisk dressing ingredients together in serving bowl.
Add broccoli and seeds.

Sit down, eat and enjoy the warmth inside.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Turnips on a Grey Day

Lately one the only activities I enjoy is cooking.  I am grateful to find high quality ingredients in my pantry when I work up the energy to walk into the kitchen to create. I don't have to leave the house to feed my senses and clear my head of the greyness. Just seeing the beautiful colors of these turnips is a healing. I cut them into crescent shaped quarters, sprinkled salt, kelp and olive oil over them, stirred them and dumped them onto a baking sheet and baked at 425.  The flavor was surprisingly good. There are a few fancier recipes for turnips to be found on the web, but this simple preparation satisfied me.  I also cooked up some Espresso Chip Oatmeal Cookies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar from the folks who brought us Veginomicon.       

The cookies have a deep flavor that only coffee can bring, as I usually do I used only whole wheat pastry flour and I added dried grated orange peel. There was no discernible difference in the cookies  from using flax seeds in place of egg. I am not vegan nor even vegetarian, neither do I have dietary restrictions.  That being said these cookies were fast to put together and the absence of raw egg meant I could safely lick the spoon.

It's so hard to keep cheery with the gloom both outside my window and out in the world in general. But cooking  brings the sunshine back into my thoughts for a while. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Finally! Fluffy Wholegrain Scones

I have been participating in Heidi Swanson's cookbook library network. It is a place to learn and comment about cookbooks and their particular recipes. This month's cookbook is Breakfast, Lunch, Tea: the Many Little Meals of Rose Bakery. This lovely green colored tome has enabled me to create the first batch of scones that were not stand-ins for hockey pucks. The recipe is called Cheddar Cornmeal Scones.  I'm not sure what made the difference.  Could it be the addition of eggs? I know the important thing with scones is to knead or handle the dough as little as possible.  Maybe the moistness of the eggs allowed me to form the dough with less handling than usual. I'm not sure of the science. But I am sure of the result. If anyone is sticking to whole grains, as I am and wants a true soft, flaky, savory scone, this is your recipe.  I don't have permission to post the recipe, but get your hands on this book, and bake these scones.

I had the privilege of attending the DeYoung Museum's Bouquets to Art member night last night.  It was very crowded but I snapped a few  photos of the beautiful flowers.  I will return tomorrow during the day.  My favorite arrangement was of a kimono made of flowers, ferns and moss. It was beautiful , serene and quite creative. There were too many people to get a picture but I will try to post one after my next visit.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Calm Unbeknown to the Storm

As I sit here on the marina facing the San Francisco bay it hardly seems as though today is different from any other day. Tourists bicycle by, a mother pushes her toddler in a stroller.  The only sign that anything is amiss is the yellow tape and park ranger car parked at the entrance to the marina. Could it really be that devastation has taken place not so far from here? The news footage would have me believe so. I fear, tough that decades of disaster movies have desensitized me to the reality of the earthquake and tsunami.  Having lived through the flood of 1986 in Butte county I would think I could feel something while watching water moving over homes, fires burning.   But it seems unreal, although I feel for and worry about the victims.  Many of us get caught up in our own personal, insulated, well-scheduled world and leave little room for the outside.  My heart goes out to the victims of this latest tragedy.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Savory Cheese and Chive Bread

This is my very late entry for the French Fridays with Dorie cooking group.  My apologies to all.  This is a very tasty and satisfying bread. I will pack this in my husband's and my lunches this week.  I chose to make a few adjustments to the recipe.  I used whole wheat pastry flour and 1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour to up protein and fiber.  I used a goats and cows milk blend cheese, added dandelion greens for the chives and  threw in diced pancetta. I am happy with the result, however next time I will increase the greens to a full cup and use the full teaspoon of salt. The walnuts did not seem to match up with the extras I chose.  I think pecans will do better next time.

One of the reasons I am so late with this entry is the fact that I am overwhelmed with cookbook reading.  This is inspirational, but when to many recipes swim around in my head at once I have a hard time getting into the kitchen. This morning I managed to bake not only this cheese bread, another tin of Heidi's millet muffins (adding garbanzo bean flour and additional lemon zest and olive oil was a nice alternative) and chocolate buttermilk doughnuts. Phew!
Part of the reason I'm reading so many cookbooks is my discovery of Heidi's cookbook library site.  I am trying new recipes with the intent of adding my comments to the site.  Check out her site.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Heidi's Millet Muffins

I baked up a batch of Heidi Swanson's millet muffins.  They are so good  I must confess to eating three of them the day I made them. I tweaked the recipe a little.  I cut both the butter and honey in half without any loss of flavor. Here is the recipe link. I was able to enjoy  the butter I left out of the recipe by spreading it over the two halves of my toasted muffin and topped that with Happy Girl's organic strawberry lavender jam. I like to toast my muffins because when I was growing up in NYC I used to get toasted corn muffins in the snack bars found in the subway stations through which I traveled. Prepared in this way I get both nostalgia and enhanced eating pleasure.
I  have found my new favorite kitchen gadget, it cost me $1.09 and I found it at Ichiban Kan in Japantown.  It's a small handheld grater and I was able to use it to create the most beautiful grated carrots. 
I spent less than five minutes on this large bowlful.  I prepared david tanis' carrot and coriander salad with these lovely, not flat but rounded, fluffy, airy carrot threads. The salad was tasty the day I made it but so much better in quesadillas the following day. I grilled a sprouted wheat tortilla added the carrots, cayenne and manchego cheese.  It made a tasty evening snack.  

I have big plans for tomorrow's kitchen activity.  I am planning on another batch of millet muffins (fast and easy)along with espresso chip oatmeal cookies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.  And I am hoping to create my own sourdough starter which I will name as soon as I know it will live and that I can be committed to its care.  I kept my last starter alive for several years. I would like to make whole wheat english muffins as soon as the starter is mature. I would also like to bake Dorrie Greenspan's savory cheese and chive bread, I am a bit behind on my French Fridays with Dorie