Monday, November 28, 2011

Seasonal Salad

Sometimes I serve this riff on a salad from Chez Panisse as one course for Thanksgiving dinner. This year I conjured up a version as a way to serve up the last of the leftover turkey breast (okay some was tucked away in little TV dinner style containers in the freezer for James). It's as simple as it is fresh, fall-worthy, and delicious. I combined chopped turkey with pomegranate seeds, sliced persimmons, endive (in this case curly and Belgian but usually just Belgian) and toasted, roughly chopped walnuts. I dressed the salad with a quick vinaigrette of one part sherry vinegar (mixed with salt and pepper) to four parts olive oil.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Something For A Sunday

I know, we just made it past a big bird holiday. But, does that really mean it's not time for roast chicken. No stuffing, just simply roasted with lots of salt and pepper, Thomas Keller style. The perfect Sunday night dinner any time of the year.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Better With Pork Belly

Not too long ago I ordered a 1/4 pig to put in our freezer. Instead of the luscious chunk of pork belly I was expecting to cure into pancetta I got slices. Slices? I admit I was monetarily stumped. Of course I could sauté pieces with kimchi or hoisin sauce, or try and replicate Momofuko's crazy delicious pork buns. But that wasn't quite right. I tucked the meat away until I found a mention online of "holiday spaghetti" with crisped pork belly (sautéed in butter and olive oil), slivered garlic and parmesan tossed with hot pasta. What could be wrong with that? the pork belly made crispy little nuggets in the al dente pasta and the rendered fat coated the noodles to perfection. That's what you do with sliced pork belly . . . Italian style.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Day After Soup

I do it every year. The day after thanksgiving I take the turkey carcass and make a rich stock. Then a make a warming, wintery soup.
This year our soup was chock full of root vegetables: celery root, carrots, potatoes, parsnips and turnips and finished with swiss chard, corn, and of course plenty of chopped turkey.
A Thanksgiving tradition the day after.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011: An Adventure In Moving

The local slow food chapter near our new house has an annual turkey sale where they partner up with 4H kids who raised the birds. The checks are written directly to the future farmer. Naturally, in spite of the fact that most of my kitchen is still in boxes and we were doing the final move this same week, I went ahead and ordered a bird. How could I resist? This 9 pounder I'm pretty sure was the smallest bird I have ever cooked. I was worried it might be dry so I slathered it both under the skin and on top with a parsley thyme butter that gave a nice flavor to the red wine gravy I served on the side.
The stuffing was chestnut and pear with both country white and wheat breads. Not much room for stuffing in this little guy so I had extra on the side.
You wouldn't believe it from the picture but these biscuits are never fail magic. Based on a recipe by CookWise author Shirley Corriher, a tireless researcher and pursuer of cooking perfection, these biscuits are light and take no rolling. Instead the very wet dough is scooped out, rolled in a bit of flour and baked to fluffy perfection.
Maple glazed brussels sprouts and chestnuts. What could be bad about that? Slightly bitter vegetables with a slight sweet glaze tempered by a dash of cider vinegar. I love chestnuts and having a second excuse to serve them always makes me happy.
Next to the brussels sprouts were leek and thyme mashed potatoes -- a big hit.
Thanksgiving has to have pie. Usually more than one. This year I just wasn't in the mood for pumpkin and I kept looking at the sweet potatoes on the counter and decided on a sweet potato pie with a pecan crust. Not quite as easy as opening that orange can, but flaky sweet and ready for ice cream just the same.
Happy Thanksgiving one and all!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tomorrow Is A Big Day

And so a simple French style salad for dinner. Deliciously bitter frisée, gently sweet pears, and delicate pan fried boudin blanc all tossed in a balsamic and red wine vinaigrette.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

New House New Pizza New Oven

Potatoes, chili peppers, red onions, garlic, ham, and smoked mozzarella on a crispy crust.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Another Diet Dinner

My latest self imposed kitchen challenge is to try and make low calorie food that actually tastes good. Food that I'm not just willing to but actually look forward to eating. Steaming is the dieter's friend but rarely adds a flavor punch. I decided to start with mussels one of my favorite foods -- and they take a long time to eat which makes you feel like you've eaten more I think. Anyway, instead of starting with a pot slicked with olive oil and butter for a white wine based sauce I went for tomatoes. I put all my sauce ingredients into the pot at once -- canned tomatoes (from our front yard patch), garlic, chopped onion, oregano, a dollop of tomato paste, a splash of chicken broth and a bit of red wine. I covered the pot and cooked over low heat until the tomatoes were soft and broken down. Then I added in the mussels and steamed for 7 minutes until the shells opened. For James I drizzled on a little olive oil and toasted some bread. For me, steamed broccoli on the side.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Sure Sign Winter Is Coming

Like Thanksgiving and the crisp turn in the air, Meyer lemons are a sure sign that winter is coming. I love this hardy little tree, producing dozens of sweet fragrant lemons from a pot on our patio. Can I take her with me?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Winter Greens

Cool days and a bit of rain make for beautiful crisp lettuces and greens.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Spaghetti With Local Mushrooms

I forgot about this dinner. Not too long ago I was literally seduced by mushrooms on the produce stand shelf or by the big black letter screaming local on the nearby sign.
I don't think I have ever cooked these trumpet mushrooms before. They are meaty and still mildly flavored. Being local to our new hood I wanted to do them justice and sautéed them with butter, olive oil, leeks, fresh thyme, and garlic. I poured in a good dose of red wine and let it reduce and then finished my impromtu spaghetti topping with a bit more butter. A few strands of aged Two Rock Valley goat cheese from nearby DeBernardi Dairy added just the right complement to the mushroom's earthy flavor.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pork N' Beans?

I started with bag of dried borlotti beans (I had already soaked them) and a crock pot. The chore list was pretty long today and having something that would cook away without my attention seemed like a plus.
I mixed the drained beans with sprigs of fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, 4 cloves of garlic, 1 quartered onion, 2 stalks of celery (cut into 2 inch pieces, 3 fresh bay leaves, 2 quartered tomatoes, a splash of olive oil and one large potato, peeled and halved in the crock pot. I covered it all with water and left the beans to simmer on low for about 1o hours. When the beans were tender I fished out the celery, tomato, potato, onion, and -- based on a recipe I saw Jamie Oliver make -- mashed them together with S&P and olive oil and added the mixture back into the pot to thicken the bean's liquid.
I served the beans resting on thick sourdough toast and topped with a pork chop quickly marinated in oregano, lemon, thyme and olive oil. Using the method I generally rely on for steaks, I quickly seared the chop on both sides in a hot skillet on the stove and finished in a 450º oven.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Neighbors Bearing Gifts

A couple days ago our neighbor down the road, Sally, reached a big bag of apples over our back fence. Sally and her husband Mike run a "you-pick" apple orchard and on the weekends folks drive out from town for their hnand-picked share of the country.
James is aways happy to have apples to eat out of hand (especially topped wth peanut butter and raisins) but since we had so many and since I am still getting on good terms with this oven, I decided to try a cake. I am still the same lazy cook I was in our last kitchen and with no mixer on the counter (we still have boxes to unpack) I wanted an easy mix (no butter to cream) cake and zeroed in on a recipe I found on Smitten Kitchen, a moist long cooking oil instead of butter (a Jewish-style apple cake) cake.
James loves the combination of slightly crispy sweet crust and the cinnamon flavored butter soft apples.
It's good to have neighbors . . . neighbors with fruit trees.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Chorizo And Rice

It's startling to me the creativity that living without a dishwasher brings out. It's been a long, long time since I washed dishes (all the dishes) in the sink and the array of one pot dinners that race through my mind makes me both proud and ashamed.
Tonight I took some fresh chorizo (another farmer's market find) and sautéed it in olive oil until browned, about 3 minutes. I added in a bag of shrimp (defrosted from Trader Joe's) and cooked everything for a couple minutes more until the shrimp were just turning pink. I took the shrimp and sausage out of the pan and set them aside while I added in a bit more oil, 1 chopped onion, and 3 thinly sliced cloves of garlic. I let the onion cook for about 4 minutes until nice and soft and then added in 3 1/4 cups water and 2 cups of basmati rice and brought the liquid up to a boil. I covered the pot and let the rice simmer for about 18 minutes until just cooked through. I added the chorizo and shrimp back into the pot long with 1/4 cup of chopped parsley and a little S&P, gave everything a good fluff and let the rice steam for 5 minutes more off the heat.
The pictures are still a little rough but dinner is cooing up nicely.