I was born and raised in Kansas and learned to cook alongside my mother. Now, along with my wonderful husband, I have taken the plunge into the city life in New York. These are my food adventures: in my own tiny kitchen, and in the many restaurants of the city.

Showing posts with label Side Dish. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Side Dish. Show all posts

Monday, April 14, 2014

Roasted Baby Artichokes

How quickly the mind can shift if you give it a chance to be open. Listen, explore, don't take everything you see at its word.

In recent years I've read books and articles that led me to believe one thing about my food and where it comes from and where it should come from. Yet over the past few weeks I've had the opportunity to chat with students, farmers, professors that open my sights to the other side of things and show me a wider angle. Not that what I believed was all wrong or what they say is all right, but I've come to see how the truth must lie down the center somewhere. A thing I must seek out on my own, letting my heart feel its way to its own conclusion.
I won't bore you with the specifics--I'm still figuring it all out for myself anyhow. Yet I urge you that when you read or hear something about the food you are putting into your body, be willing to listen yet don't let it become your personal truth without a little digging first. Be open to both sides, knowing there are personal motivations clouding each angle. One story on the 6 o'clock news or one article in the Sunday paper shouldn't have full sway over your diet with just a whim. Step back and try to take in the full view before jumping down that bunny hole.

Roasted Baby Artichokes
Trying to keep myself open to all sides in a debate--to be well informed before making a decision--carries over to what foods I put on my dining table. I force myself to try things I think I may not like or that I haven't liked in the past. This has opened me up to many ingredients and dishes that would have been closed to me otherwise. One such ingredient is the anchovy. Always touted for being "gross" or "weird" in circles I grew up in, it's come to be one of my favorite ways to add umami and depths of flavor to a dish.I'm thankful for my refusal to deny myself a taste of any sort of food. Here it helps pack a salty punch with capers in a bright topping for crispy, roasted baby artichokes.


serves about 6 as an appetizer
9 baby artichokes
1 t. salt
1 lemon, sliced
1 bay leaf
olive oil

1 can anchovies
2 t. capers
juice of 1 lemon
2 TB parsley, chopped
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil

Prepare the baby artichokes. Here's a great guide from Saveur. Then cut the artichokes in half after cleaning and trimming.
Heat oven to 425.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the salt, sliced lemon, bay leaf, and halved artichokes. Boil until the artichokes are tender, around 15 minutes (depending on the size of the artichokes). Drain and then pat the artichokes dry once cool enough to handle.
Place the artichokes cut side up on a baking sheet. Brush each with just a bit of olive oil. Roast until they are slightly browned and crispy, about 25-20 minutes.
Meanwhile place the anchovies into a bowl and mash well. Stir in the capers, lemon juice, parsley, and extra virgin olive oil. Serve the anchovy sauce over the roasted artichokes.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Tribute (and Hasselback Potatoes)

There are the teachers that stand out during the course of our educations. Those that make an impact in our minds, our growth, and stick in our memories. Then there are those that rise above even this by somehow transcending what it means to educate and find their way into our hearts.

Dr. Dan Davy was one of these teachers. He was a professor of Theatre History at Kansas State University. He was one of the smartest men I've ever met. His mind was deep and full of layers upon layers of knowledge yet his classes were never dry or boring. His passion for the subject helped to rise above even the difficult scripts we studied. He made it fascinating to delve deep into discussion over Greek dramas or modern comedies. Despite his genius Davy never made it intimidating to speak up in class with your thoughts or opinions. He encouraged us to speak our minds, to even challenge his ideas. It felt like a badge of honor to receive praise from him for a well-constructed thought during a lecture.

Dr. Davy also had an energy about him that I've never encountered anywhere else. When excited by an idea he would hop, or run around the room, crawl on the floor, flip the light switches on and off, run out of the room and slam the door behind him. You were sure to pay attention when he spoke. Something about the way he could turn a phrase was awe-inspiring. It was not uncommon for those in his classes to spend more time writing out his quirky quotes in the margins of their pages than to take detailed notes on the test-worthy information he was giving out. But if you were really listening you wouldn't need those notes to study anyways. You understood the material and the concepts deeply because he taught it so well. He always told us we should know the info "Bob's Diner well" which meant that if we were at Bob's Diner at 2:30am (meaning we had just left the bars and been drinking) we would still remember it. To this day, over 10 years after taking his classes, I still have discussions with my husband and friends over things we covered then. My whole concept of theatre was formed and shaped by this man, and I am far from alone in saying so.

He was kind and obviously loved what he did and loved his students too. I always remember him stopping by to say hello when I was working at Dillons and he and his wife would come in to shop. He gave freely to so many advice on careers and life. He was far more than just our professor.


We lost Dr. Davy unexpectedly this past weekend. It seems so strange that he would be gone--somehow I had the sense that he has always been and would always be. An everlasting force in the world, much like something from some of those ancient plays he taught us. Yet if I consider it, I believe each of us who passed through his classroom holds a bit of his knowledge, his heart, his passion within us. We carry it out to the world, to the art we create, to the students some of us teach. With this, his legacy does, and will, continue on.

Rest in peace, dear Dr. Davy. You are dearly missed.


Hasselback Potatoes
It seems odd to try to blend saying goodbye with a recipe. In a way, though, there are similarities between this dish and Dr. Davy: the layers, the sense of complexity, yet in actuality they are quite approachable. And though I never shared a meal with him, I have a feeling that Davy relished good food and good conversation, and these are definitely the first and invoke the second. Share them with those you love and be sure to tell them how you feel, because you never know if you'll get another chance.


10 small potatoes (about 2" long)
4 TB butter, melted
2 t. fresh rosemary, chopped
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper

Heat the oven to 425 degrees.
Scrub the potatoes clean and pat dry. Take a thin slice out of the back of each of the potatoes along the length so they lie straight without rolling. Take a pair of wooden chopsticks and place one on either side of the potato (this will help keep you from slicing all the way through). Cut many thin slices along the width of the potato and then pull them slightly to spread the slices out. Place on a baking sheet.
Mix together the melted butter and rosemary and baste this over all of the potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until slightly browned and tender, about 40-45 minutes, basting with the butter from the bottom of the pan every 10 minutes or so. Serve immediately.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Comfort in a Pot of Beans

It is no surprise that I love to cook and spending hours in the kitchen working on a complex recipe is one of my favorite ways to pass a day. Yet there are times when I am awed by the power of a simple recipe. A pot of beans is just a few minutes of mis en place plus some wait and a soulful dinner is on the table. There's something reassuring knowing I can throw a handful of ingredients into a pot and churn out a hearty meal that costs only a few dollars.


Yes cooking dried beans does take time. Yet it is time where the beans themselves are doing most of the work, leaving you to clean the house, play a game, catch up on your DVR, read a book. There's no need to hover over the pan as it cooks, though you may want to with the scents that waft around as it bubbles away. Dishing up and tucking into your bowl feels wholesome, hearkening back to days of our parents' and grandparents' meals and seems something to be passed on to generations ahead.

It doesn't take a master in the kitchen to conjure a delicious meal out of dried beans. This is a recipe a novice can, and should, make. It is an entree in its own right but can take on countless iterations: burritos, dips, soups, cassoulet, etc. with just a few adjustments. A large enough pot can make a variety of dinners for a whole week. If you can get your hands on heirloom  beans they may cost a few more dollars but pack an even larger punch of flavor (I highly recommend any from Rancho Gordo. I'm not receiving any compensation or product from them, they are just that good that I really can't help but promote them).

Winter is obviously not done with us yet. As the cold, snowy winds blow outside, keep yourself indoors and put a pot of these on the stove. Add a pan of cornbread and a meal of endless comfort is complete.

Cooking Dried Beans
4-6 servings as an entree

1 lb. dried beans (Jacob's cattle, cannellini, pinto, etc.)
2 TB extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 t. salt

Soak the beans. If you have enough foresight to know the day before or early in the morning the day you will eat them, place them in a large bowl and cover with 2 inches of water. Soak for around 6-8 hours. If you haven't anticipated this wait (as I never do), place the beans in a large bowl and cover with 2 inches of boiling water. Let these sit for 1 hour. Many people will tell you to drain the water after soaking, but I feel that this takes away some of their flavor and some studies are actually showing that this drains away some of their nutrients as well.

Heat a large pot over medium with the extra virgin olive oil. Add the onion and carrots and cook until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for about 30 seconds or so, until fragrant. Pour the beans and their soaking liquid into the pan. The beans should be just covered with water--if not add some more to top off. Add the bay leaf. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.

Here is another area where opinions differ on method: some say to cover the pot and others leave uncovered. My understanding is that a covered pot will cut out a bit of time but will make for beans that are a bit mushier (great if you are making a dip or refried beans). An uncovered pan will yield beans with a bit more structure but may take a bit longer (better for soups). Both have their uses, so consider how you will utilize the beans when making your call here.

The time it takes to cook the beans varies thanks to many factors: type of bean, freshness, how long they were soaked. After about 45 minutes start testing the texture. You want them to be soft enough to eat but not to totally break apart into mush. Certain varieties may be ready after 45 minutes, others may need 2 hours. The more you cook beans the more familiar you will get with their specific cook times. I like to add salt when the beans aren't quite finished yet--when they have about 15 minutes or so left to go (when you test them and feel they are soft but could use just a bit more time). It does take some time for the beans to soak up the salt so give them a few before tasting and adding more.

Once perfectly tender remove the bay leaf and remove from the heat. You can serve the beans right away or now use in another recipe. If there is a bit of broth leftover go ahead and put it in your soups or stews--it is full of flavor.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Papas Bravas

Inspiration hits from so many angles. From the vibrations ringing through my body as I pound the pavement on a run. Experiencing the product of months or years of work by a group of dear friends. A phone call from mom. The glossy pages of a favorite food magazine, flipped through for the first time. Even from the disappointment of a missed opportunity.

Anymore it seems easy to miss these bits of creative energy reaching out to us. Social media needs updating, the text messages buzz in the pocket, a digital game hooks you in. That tiny piece of technology riding around with your every move has taken up a disproportionate amount of time in your life. I know I let myself get sucked into it all. Instead of writing first thing in the morning when the drive and the focus is there, I check into each site, not wanting to miss a post. By the time I’m done my brain has been jumbled past the ability to reach a zen-like creative state, missing the opportunity a good night of sleep has given me. Occasionally missing the moment while in it for the desire to let everyone else know that I’m in the moment.


It’s a struggle to stay up-to-date and in-the-know and to let up a bit of control over that crutch, the smart phone (and the internet in general). There are great things to be had within these, but in this year I hope to set it aside a little bit more. My goals are to spend less time mindlessly scrolling through Facebook and actually utilize it to be a better, more consistent friend by truly checking in on the people that mean the most to me. To use Instagram to explore photography and food, but not let it get in the way of conversations. To read articles that bring me knowledge and understanding and growth in place of just dumb humor. To spend less time in the digital and more time in the now. To let the tiny moments of inspiration out there wash over me and give me a push as I live them with every sense alert. To be present in the here and now. And to savor my food as I eat it.


Papas Bravas with Garlic Aioli
These simple roasted potatoes are always a go-to at any tapas joint. The smoky paprika takes them up a notch from the ordinary and the creamy aioli adds a hit of brightness. These are sure to please a crowd so are the perfect side for a winter dinner party.

serves 6 as side
3 lb. small, waxy potatoes
2 TB olive oil
2 t. smoked paprika
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper

1/2 c. mayonnaise
zest of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic

Heat the oven to 425. Scrub the potatoes well and pat dry. Cut into 1" cubes and place on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. Toss together until well coated. Roast for about 40-45 minutes, flipping and tossing the potatoes about half way through, until the potatoes are browned and tender.

Place the mayonnaise in a small bowl with the lemon zest. Use the zester to finely grate the garlic into the sauce. Stir together.

Serve the mayonnaise sauce drizzled over the potatoes.


Friday, January 10, 2014

Orange Hazelnut Salad

In the dark, cold, short days of winter, there's something so encouraging about the arrival of seasonal citrus fruit to the supermarkets. Though the brightly colored treasures aren't local I don't deny myself the juicy treat of artificial sunshine. Their burst of summer-like flavors guide me through the gloomy months.

This salad can help lighten up a hearty cold-weather meal. I served it in contrast to a spicy and hearty orrechiette with sausage and broccoli rabe but I can see it matched up nicely with braised or roasted meats as well.


Orange Hazelnut Salad
serves 3-4 as appetizer
3 TB red wine vinegar
3 TB olive oil
1/4 t. seasoned salt
pinch of paprika or piment d'esplette
1/8 t. fresh ground pepper
3 large oranges
pinch of sea salt
extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. toasted and coarsely chopped hazelnuts
micro greens

Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, seasoned salt, paprika (or piment d'esplette) and pepper until well mixed.
Peel the oranges and trim away any excess white pith. Cut the oranges into 1/2" slices and layer these onto a platter. Sprinkle with pinch of sea salt and drizzle with a touch of extra virgin olive oil. Pour the red wine vinaigrette over top and then scatter the hazelnuts and micro greens over top as garnish.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Thyme Roasted Beets and a Beet Vinaigrette

It's been more than a month since I've come home from LongHouse yet I still find myself reflecting on my experiences there.

It was an intense six weeks of work. We created 3 documentaries, 3 slide shows, wrote articles, wrote blog posts, recorded a radio program, cleaned and set up the barn for the gathering, weeded and attended the garden, cooked, helped build a wood fire oven, and more. And didn't forget to capture the whole of it through photographs and audio recordings.

I learned so much through the program and through our speakers/teachers who passed through during our stay in Rensselaerville. Molly O'Neill, Kathy Gunst, John Rudolf, Sara-Kate Gillingham, Penny de los Santos, Darra Goldstein, Dudley Reed, Victor Schrager, the Smiths of Smith Bites....just to name a few. And that doesn't even include the list of incredible speakers who attended Revival itself. An overwhelming display of riches from the food media world to say the least.

Yet out of it all, the most important thing I stepped away with was the connection to my fellow scholars. There were nine of us, eight girls and one guy. We came from various parts of the country, from different backgrounds and experiences and at different points in our lives. Yet there was a link forged between us that will never be broken. We lived in intimately close quarters, all piled into Molly's home, six of us sharing one room (lovingly dubbed "The Orphanage"). Working, eating, sleeping side-by-side every moment for a month. We became a family, even squabbling occasionally as siblings. As a team we confronted the challenges and triumphed in the successes. When one was down, there was always a shoulder to cry on or a strong arm to help prop them up.

Though we have now re-scattered to the winds to our own parts of the world, we remain ever close. These are the friends I turn to for advice and encouragement as I forge my way down my new path. Each one is insanely talented and I will cheer them on loudly towards their own successful careers. I am thankful everyday for the opportunity that brought these eight friends to me.

To check out some of the work we created, read our blog series that we each posted throughout the program here. You can see my photos from the event here. And listen to the interview we gave this summer to Heritage Radio here!

Thyme Roasted Beets and Beet Vinaigrette
I tend to find roasting beets a bit frustrating because they always seem to take longer than I'd like. However the great thing about this dish is that the beets can be prepared beforehand and served cold if you'd like, so there's no need to put dinner on hold while you wait for them to finish up in the oven.
The vinaigrette uses the juices that run off from the beets as they roast. It can be tossed with the beets themselves, but I like to use it on mixed greens and serve alongside for a complete meal.


Roasted Beets
1 bundle beets
2 TB olive oil
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
4-5 springs thyme
extra virgin olive oil
balsamic vinegar
creme fraiche

Heat oven to 425.
Trim the beets, cutting the top off to remove the green stems completely. Scrub the beets thoroughly with water and then pat dry. If the beets are large, chop in halves or quarters.
Tear off a large piece of aluminum foil and place into a baking dish. Add the beets, the olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss together to coat. Sprinkle in the thyme sprigs and then wrap the whole mix tightly in the foil. You want to make sure the juices do not leak out.
Roast until the beets are tender. Check on them after about an hour, but they may need another 15-30 minutes to roast completely. Then remove from the oven and cool slightly. Reserve the roasting liquids for the vinaigrette. Peel the skins from the beets and chop into bite sized pieces.
Plate the beets and then drizzle with a fruity extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Dollop creme fraiche on top and serve.


Beet Vinaigrette
Juices left from roasting the beets (remove the thyme stems)
3 TB apple cider vinegar
3 anchovy fillets
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 t. mustard powder
1/4 t. seasoned salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/2 c. olive oil

Place the beet juices, anchovies, garlic, mustard powder, seasoned salt, and pepper into a small bowl. Mix together, mashing the anchovies as you go. Slowly whisk in the olive oil.Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly. Toss with beets to serve or with mixed greens as a side salad.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Sweet Potato Wedges with Dill Creme Fraiche

Once summer hits, the number of things to do in New York City rises exponentially. The city that never sleeps is pumped full of exciting things to do, see, experience and I get overwhelmed at the thought of trying to fit it all in before the cold sets in again come fall.

The summer, just beginning, already seems to be slipping away too quickly (especially as I will be out of town for a full month towards the end of it. Details on this to follow). However, I have been able to check a few items off of my should-do list: a concert with friends, margaritas sipped by open windows, a trip to the Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg, long walks along Brooklyn Bridge Park and through my favorite neighborhoods, the Big Apple BBQ, mint juleps while cooking dinner, and trips to 2 exhibits at museums that I didn't want to miss.

First up was a trip to the Rain Room at the MOMA. Basically it is a giant black box that has a huge square of rain inside, but the technology used makes it stop raining where you are standing. So you are surrounded by the rain but have your own personal "umbrella" of sorts that follows you around (as long as you move slowly enough--little kids do not seem to have this ability when judged by my visit here :). I wasn't quite sure if it would be worth the long wait in the hot sun to get in, but once finally enveloped by the cool, black room with it's single spotlight I felt refreshed and invigorated. And I wanted to dance.



After exiting the Rain Room we made our way up to the Park Avenue Armory (with a quick side trip for lunch to the King of Falafel's Street cart for the best falafel in the city) for the Paul McCarthy exhibit "WS."

Close to a week later and I'm still not quite able to put into words the effect that the exhibit had on me. I'm not sure I liked it, but it definitely left me thinking. The overwhelming experience of sounds, videos, environment left me feeling more wiped out than I have in a long time. It took hours (and a few cocktails) before I was able to feel back to normal again. Though I feel this is a sign of good art, I'm not quite sure I could ever go back.

The mental workout that this exhibit gave me left me with the need for something uncomplicated for dinner. Something that wouldn't require excess thought but would comfort me as well. Luckily the husband had begged to pick up some sweet potatoes from the greenmarket last weekend. So after a quick wash and a few slices, into the oven they went while I whipped up a simple dipping sauce out of dill and creme fraiche. These are hearty enough to hold up as an entree if served with a simple side and a bit of bread but are excellent as a starter or side dish as well.


Sweet Potato Wedges with Dill Creme Fraiche
serves 3
3 large sweet potatoes
2-3 TB olive oil
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1/2 t. piment d'espelette (or paprika)

4 oz. creme fraiche
2 TB fresh dill
1 clove garlic, finely minced
zest of 1 lime

Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Slice the sweet potatoes length-wise into 8 wedges each. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil on all sides. Sprinkle half of the salt, pepper, and piment d'espelette on the potatoes and then flip and repeat on the other side. Roast until tender, about 25 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking, place the creme fraiche, dill, garlic, and lime zest into a small bowl. Stir together. Dollop onto cooked potatoes to serve.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Duck Breast with Pear Jalapeno Compote

The morning air is still crisp and cool. Days are noticeably longer. The parks are lush and full. Allergies are annoying the senses but the irritation is worth it for the knowledge that Spring is really here.

The husband and I spent a morning the other week wandering through the flowering vegetation of the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. Blossoms exploded in colors every way we turned, lilacs scented the air, children ran barefoot through the new, tender grass. A good amount of the afternoon was passed enveloped by the cherry blossoms, occasionally feeling the patter of their ethereal pink "snow".

Afterwards, in need of refreshment, we found a nearby patio to continue to enjoy the beautiful weather as we slowly sipped margaritas and munched on fresh guacamole. The scent of jalapenos from our neighbors' tacos wafted over us, turning our thoughts to dinner. Duck was set to be the main dish, and now we knew that some spicy heat would kick it up as well. The husband requested a fruity-spicy blend--perhaps pear--and that's how dinner was formed.

The rich main course was served alongside a refreshingly crisp celery salad based on one we had eaten last summer at Prune that was paired with toasted country bread topped by Valdeon blue cheese. I never would have considered pairing the celery and blue cheese in this way, but Gabrielle Hamilton understands the balance of flavors better than anyone and it just makes sense once you eat it.

Duck Breast with Pear Jalapeno Compote
serves 2
1 (1 lb) duck breast
salt and pepper
1 pear, peeled and chopped
1/2 jalapeno, seeds removed and finely chopped
3 TB butter

Lay the duck breast on a cutting board and slice through the skin at an angle about every inch, going through the skin and fat but not cutting into the meat. Turn the breast 90 degrees and slice through the skin again, creating a diamond pattern. This will allow the fat to render from the breast. Pat the duck all over with a paper towel to soak up any excess moisture and then generously sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place the duck skin side down in a cold, heavy-bottomed skillet. Place on the stove and turn the heat onto medium-high. Cook until the skin has turned brown and crispy, about 4-5 minutes. Flip the breast over and cook until the internal temperature reaches about 135 for medium rare (about 4-5 minutes more) then remove the duck to a plate to rest while finishing the sauce.

Pour out all but about 1 tablespoon of duck fat from the pan (strain the rest and reserve for future use). Add the pear and jalapeno and turn the heat down to medium. Saute until the pear is tender, stirring up any bits from the bottom of the pan as you go. Add the butter and stir until melted, then and add salt and pepper as necessary. Remove from the heat.

Slice the duck into half inch pieces. Top with the pear sauce and serve.


Celery Salad with Blue Cheese Toast
Food52 has a great interpretation of this Prune dish and I based my version on theirs with very few changes. Check it out here for the recipe.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Pine Tar Press Round-Up

Prepping for Turkey Day has kept me busy and away from the blog. Promise I have some posts on the way for you soon! Until then, check out what I've been up to over on Pine Tar Press:

Pumpkin Muffins

Radishes in Miso Butter

Cheesy Dip

Edamame Dip

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Heirloom Tomato Salad

I grasp onto the last dregs of summer every year. It's not that I don't look forward to fall--I love the cooler temperatures while running, the sweaters, pumpkin everything, braising and baking away. But I know that it means the end of my favorite produce of the year. Especially tomatoes. I dread having to live through the months and months without fresh tomatoes.
With the threat of disappearance of my favorite fruit, I stocked up last week at the market. So I'm bringing you a recipe to use up the final tomatoes you have coming in at the markets or your gardens. It's a little sweet, a little salty, and perfectly fresh.

Heirloom Tomato Salad
3-4 servings as appetizer

3/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1/8 c. capers
olive oil
3-4 large heirloom tomatoes
3 TB basil, finely chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
1/3 c. feta cheese
1/2 t. coarse sea salt

Pour the balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally until it has reduced to 1/4 cup, about 8 or so minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a small saute pan over medium heat. Add the capers once the oil is hot (be careful because they will pop a little bit). Toss in the oil for a couple of minutes until they are crispy and then remove them to a paper towel.
Slice the tomatoes about half an inch thick. Layer them onto a platter. Drizzle with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil and some of the reduced balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with sea salt, feta, basil and the fried capers. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Latest Over at Pine Tar Press

With football season now is swing, it's the perfect opportunity to head on over and check out what I've been posting on "Batter Up and Fry: Tailgating Treats" for Pine Tar Press.

Panzanella Salad

Fried Zucchini Blossoms

Baked Clams

Chicago Dog Spread

Baked Beans

"Beaver Nuggets"

Tailgating Gear

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Corn and Bell Pepper Salsa

Did you see this brilliant video that PBS put out to celebrate Julia Child's 100th birthday?


I think it is impossible to watch Julia or read about her without feeling infected by her passion for food and cooking. It just flows out of her with pure joy. Do you ever feel that way when  you are cooking? I've found that I'm constantly in awe of how a certain technique will turn random ingredients into something completely different--sugar melting into a rich caramel or flour becoming bread. Or how the addition of just a pinch of an ingredient, say red chili flakes or lemon juice, can completely make a dish. The way science and art combine in the kitchen always surprises me and makes me happy. It helps make the act of preparing a meal a relaxing, enjoyable endeavor.

It wasn't always so. If you remember, I recently discussed how before I discovered the art of mis en place there was a lot of profanity being thrown about while dinner was cooked. Part of that anger/frustration also came from the lack of knowledge. I think anyone who spends much time in the kitchen remembers the time before it was second nature--when you worried over every detail and were never quite sure how a dish would turn out. Often times people who don't cook much don't realize that everyone who does started out at this place and that practice, practice, and more practice is the only way to move past it. It's wonderful to now be at that level where more or less I know a dish will turn out thanks to all that time spent screwing up in the past. This knowledge also leads to the comfort of preparing dinner. It's almost like playing an instrument at a concert--the movements just come out of you naturally as you beat out the rhythms of the recipe. It flows through your body without a thought, even when preparing a dish that is new to you.

This corn salsa is my own invention and I had made it once before, but didn't have a recipe to follow the second time around, a couple of years after the first batch. The memory of how the dish tasted was still there, however, and the ingredients and quantities came together without hardly a thought. It seemed natural that this was the way this salsa was supposed to come together.

Now I will finally get it down "on paper" and share it with others in hopes that they will enjoy it as much as I have, and perhaps one day prepare it from their own taste memory and experience.
Bon apetit, indeed!


Corn and Bell Pepper Salsa
3 ears of bi-color corn
2 small to medium purple bell peppers
1/4-1/3 c. chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 c. chopped onion or shallot
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
juice of 2 limes
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper

Shuck the corn and clean well. Cut off the kernels and place into a medium mixing bowl.
Cut the purple bell peppers in half and remove the stems, seeds and ribs. Chop into small cubes. Toss into the bowl with the corn. Add the chopped cilantro, onion, garlic, jalapeno, lime juice, salt and pepper. Toss all of the ingredients together and taste. Add more salt and pepper if needed and more jalapeno if you want a bit more heat. Keep chilled until ready to serve with tortilla chips as a dip or on top of tacos.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Inspiration from around the Web

The world has been offering up some truly inspiring recipes these days, so I thought it was high time I passed on a few recipes from others that I've loved lately so you can get in on the delicious action. These are all foods that will find their way onto my table again and again.

April Bloomfield's Oyster Pan Roast (from John Dory Oyster Bar)--if I died today, I would be happy that at least I had gotten the chance to eat this. One of the best dishes I've had, perhaps ever. This recipe from the NYT gets you pretty close to the actual dish served at the restaurant. I'd add a bit of butter at the end to finish it off.
Honestly, though? Just buy A Girl and Her Pig already. There's not a bad thing I've tried from this one and it is all simple, lovely fare that you can't get enough of (yes, even the veal kidneys. No lie.).

While we are on the subject of cookbooks--please also pick up a copy of Plenty from London's Ottonlenghi. You won't ever struggle with eating vegetables ever again. One of the best cookbook purchases I've ever made.

Corn with Miso Butter and Bacon from Savour Fare. She takes a slightly complex David Chang recipe and simplifies it so it is a breeze to prepare and let me tell you--you will be buying every ear of corn you see from here on out to make this again and again.

So, so easy refrigerator pickles from A Way to Garden. For some reason the husband and I have been on a pickle binge and these may be the best ones yet.

Brown Butter Tomatoes from food52. Can you even call this a recipe? Somehow, though, the caramel notes of the cooked butter coating the fresh tomatoes will make this one of the greatest simple treats you've tasted all summer long.

What have you been loving lately?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Braised Summer Veggies (and some thoughts on Mis en Place)

Must admit, I'm feeling a little withdrawal with the Olympics being over. I've never spent so much time watching the games, but this year couldn't pull myself away. Luckily I've got a few events DVR'd that can help me extend my obsession a bit longer.

Right now I'm watching the men's marathon (probably should actually be focusing on writing and turn it off, but you don't mind a little distracted, disjointed blogging, do you?). It's always such an inspiration seeing the speed and the determination and talent displayed at these events. Especially love pumping myself up for my own training while watching the races.

When I run, my least favorite part is the prep I have to do before heading out. I eat breakfast, put in contacts, get dressed, vaseline up, sunscreen up, do some warm ups and stretches, mix my Gatorade, charge my Garmin, etc, etc. It seems like a lot and always frustrates me when I'm just ready to get out the door. However, once I finally start the run I am thankful for all of the little steps I took before because they have prepared me for a successful training session. Without those tasks I may have to stop mid-run for a bathroom break or because I didn't fuel well enough or because I get a cramp. The extra time pre-run gets the actual run off without a hitch.

I realized on my last run that this translates perfectly right over to my other passion: cooking. Mis en place is the culinary term for this pre-event preparation. When I was younger, I didn't understand how this could help me and would start in on recipes without even reading them all the way through first, and prepping ingredients as they were needed. This would result in me going absolutely crazy while cooking several dishes for a meal and would often lead to dishes going wrong or me cursing up a storm in the kitchen.

Over the years, though, I have learned that mis en place is the most important part to cooking. I read through a recipe, if using, or go through the "mental recipe" if creating my own. Pull out all of the ingredients I will need, wash produce, chop, measure. Heat the oven. Pull out the dishes, pots and pans required. All of this ensures that I have the ingredients on hand, that I have the quantity of ingredient I need (nothing worse than pulling out a jar of something to realize you only have 2TB when you need 1/2 cup!), that all will be ready when it is time to add it to the pan. As in running, these little steps before starting the actual cooking ensures success. I guarantee you that a little extra time in the beginning will make all the difference in your own cooking. I myself spent a lot less time shouting obscenities in the kitchen these days and a lot more time enjoying the process.

This particular recipe requires that all of the chopping be done at the beginning so the veggies can then bake slowly in the rich sauce. Mix it all into the baking dish, pop it  into the oven, and then you have free time to do the dishes or catch up on your DVR'd gymnastics while it cooks.

Braised Summer Veggies
serves 4 as an entree

about 3 c. sliced zucchini (1/4" thick)
about 2 c. sliced baby or Japanese eggplant (1/8" thick)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, chopped in half
2 Italian peppers, deseeded and sliced (1/4" thick)
3 TB butter
2 TB flour
1 1/2 c. chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 c. cream
salt and pepper
zest of 1 lemon
2 t. fresh savory or thyme, chopped

2-3 TB butter
1/2-3/4 c. panko breadcrumbs

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Clean and chop all of the vegetables. Toss the zucchini, eggplant, halved tomatoes, and Italian peppers together and then spread them into a 2 quart souffle dish.

Melt the 2-3 TB butter in a small dish. Mix in the breadcrumbs--they should be just damp and not completely soggy.
Heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the 2 TB butter and melt. Then add the flour and whisk together and allow some of the flour flavor to cook away, about 2-3 minutes, while stirring continuously. Add in the chicken stock and turn up the heat to medium high. Continue stirring for about 2 minutes then add in the cream. Keep on stirring until the mixture comes to a boil and the sauce thickens up, about 3 more minutes or so. Taste the sauce and salt and pepper as needed. Remove from the heat and stir in the savory/thyme and the lemon zest.
Pour the sauce over top of the vegetables in the souffle dish. Top with the breadcrumbs and press down.

Cover the dish with foil and place in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and continue to cook until the breadcrumbs have browned and the vegetables are tender, about 15-20 minutes more. Remove from the oven and allow to sit about 5-10 minutes before serving.