Tuesday, December 8, 2009
So we roasted our peppers outside. My forearms turned pink for lack of long tongs to turn them with. Once black, they were packed into bags to steam before Mom and Brad scrapped the blackened skin and seeds away. Dad watched, drank wine, and offered suggestions. A large laundry basket of peppers becomes a good sized bowl of roasted peppers, and Brad and I left that evening before they had all made their trip through the pressure canner. But we were forgiven and given 5 jars of bright red to get us through the winter. So yesterday it snowed, and then got slushy and officially became winter, and I cleaned out the refrigerator and found a half used jar on the shelf. I made corn soup from an icy bag of kernels found in the very back of the freezer and the sad, limply forgotten scallions in the crisper became scallion cream biscuits. They were both lovely, and the soup was especially warming thanks to the roasted red peppers I stirred in right before serving.
Corn and Roasted Red Pepper Soup
(Adjust measurements to fit what you have, I'm just guessing at them anyway.)
2 and 1/2 cups frozen corn
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 potato, peeled and cut into medium dice
4 cups broth (I used both veggie and chicken)
1/2 cup cream or milk
2 tbl butter
Saute onion in 1 tbl butter until translucent.
Add corn and saute for a few minutes.
Add potato and stock.
Cover and simmer briskly until potato is tender.
Use an immersion blender to puree until only slightly chunky.
Add milk or cream as desired to enrich.
Before serving, stir in roasted red peppers.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
1. I needed a nap.
2. Vegetables are horrible and the work of the devil.
3. I needed another nap.
4. The garden and the blog would have to wait.
Amidst all that sleeping, queasiness, and eating only white foods with no odor, a few minor miracles occurred.
I rallied long enough to make a perfect raspberry tart with vanilla pastry cream.
Mom, Dad, Brad and I roasted and canned a laundry basket of red peppers.
My New York friends stopped by and worked for their dinner.
and way too many of these.
Now that the garden is frosted and gone (except for the beats, turnips, Swiss chard, an exuberant bunch of oregano and a solitary artichoke) and the parasite in my belly has changed first into a squirming baby kicking away at my internal organs, I’m finally hungry again. So I thought I should resume posting--more cooking and less gardening as the ground begins to freeze--but still tasty things to share. And a baby by mid-March, just in time for the next round of planting.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
It has been raining daily for what feels like weeks and Mom warns me that I need to check the cabbages because this is the kind of weather that makes them split. Apparently if they split they must be eaten right away. I'm not quite sure I see the worry of this but her voice was very serious as she said it, so twice a day I check my cabbages for cracks. This also gives me a chance to pick the cabbage worms from them and the broccoli. Twice now I have watched a wasp wiggle its way out of the heart of a cabbage with a worm in its mandibles, and each time it has made me happy that we have chosen worm holes over pesticides. The garden needs weeding but the constant rain has made it too muddy, so I pull what I can from the sides. I had forgotten about this weather--days that start hot before the sun even rises. Walking feels like moving through warm damp velvet, and then out of nowhere the sky goes black and it rains like a bucket being emptied. It's shocking how quickly the warm air peels open to cool shards of rain. This is when you open windows on the lee side of the house and sit on the porch tracking the storm's progress by the nearing and then receding lighting and thunder. When I was little we would put on bathing suits and play in the street until the thunder and lightening were almost simultaneous and the storm was directly overhead. Then our parents would make use retreat to the safety of our house and the lightening rod on the roof. Then it is over, the storm gone as quickly as it came. The garden ticks and glows green as the sun returns, the corn straitens up and it all grows, grows.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Our peas are blooming and green pods are beginning to dangle from the vines.
They have only made it a third of the way up our overly ambitious trellis, but the plants look great twining around the strings, their bottom leaves going brown as they direct all their energy into flowers and seeds. I’ve been checking our cabbages for worms every day. They are hard to spot--lovely little green things, perfectly matching the leaves and nothing moving but their jaws as they nibble. They are soft and often still chewing when I picked them off the cabbages and put them in the bird feeder.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
I have fallen in love with an ant colony that lives in the pea patch, in the evenings I give them the crumbs from my after work snack and ignore Brad when he wonders it they are nibbling the roots of our plants. They are red and vicious looking, the bullies of this bit of ground, busy piling crumbs of earth on the low leaves of my peas.
I squat with my chin on my knees, watching and drifting, pulling the occasional weed. I always thought it would be lovely to be tiny and live in the garden, making my home under a mushroom.
This past weekend our garden partners came over and we put top soil on the half of the garden that the plumbers had turned to clay. Then we planted the rest of our seeds and some plants from the farmers' market. Now all we have to do is wait...
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
My new favorite version is something that my Dad’s family in France makes: Cut bacon into bits, cook till just beginning to brown, add sliced onions to the pan and sauté until the onions and bacon are brown. Mix equal parts sour cream and cottage cheese and spread on the pizza dough, sprinkle on onions and bacon. Slide onto a heated pizza stone to bake.
If you are very lucky my dad will make this for you on a day that he has foraged morels from the woods behind the house and he will top the pizza with them…
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Monday, April 13, 2009
Easter in Cleveland means lamb (which I hate) and dry biscotti and fiadone (which I love). It use to also mean the whole family squeezed around the table eating my grandmother’s ravioli, but we have gotten older and it’s harder for us all to make it to the table, anyway Grandma Argie doesn’t cook much any more. This Easter my mom made the biscotti, usually they are dry little lumps of dough that must be covered in icing and dipped in coffee before they can be swallowed, but mom cheated and added a cup of sour cream to the dough and lemon juice to the icing and they were unexpectedly moist and lovely, nearly a miracle. I considered attempting the ravioli but instead made the fiadone while Grandma Argie watched. We quickly discovered that we had nothing to zest the orange and lemon with and I had to resort to using some weird cheese grater from the 1950’s but that was to be expected, making fiadone never goes as planned. It’s a finicky recipe; every time it has passed from generation to generation something has been added or left out. Did we always use lemon and orange zest, should we double the crust—last year there was extra filling and we had to throw it out, where are the pans we usually use, these are the wrong size. In all the hard-to-read hand written recipes the ricotta is measured in pounds but no one ever has a scale and after some discussion we usually demand that the men in the living room tell us how many cups are in a pound and they laugh at us. Then we must beat the egg yolks longer than anyone thinks is reasonable while remembering to not over beat the whites, the kitchen must be cleared while the fiadones bake because the slightest jar fill make them fall, and opening the oven to see how they are doing before they are done baking? Don’t even think of it. Making the fiadone isn’t easy, but the reward… sitting at the table and watching everyone taste, consider, remember, look at the piece in their hand then nod and say, “It came good this year.” I’m including my version of the recipe but I make no promises, as Uncle Dennis said this Easter, “It’s got a good flavor but it’s so flat, didn’t you beat the eggs?”
(makes enough for 2 pies, sometimes more…)
Preheat oven to 350°
2 tbls sugar
4 tbls oil
1 ½ cups flour plus more to make a soft dough
1 tsp baking powder
Beat eggs with sugar until sugar dissolves, then beat in oil. Mix the baking powder with the flour and then add to the egg mixture. Stir and add additional flour as needed until very soft dough is formed. Cover and let rest while you make the filling.
2 lbs ricotta
6 eggs, separated
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ tbls melted butter, cooled
Rind and juice of an orange and a lemon
Beat egg yolks until lemon colored. Add sugar, butter, rind and juices to the yolks and beat until all the sugar is dissolved.
In a separate bowl beat the ricotta on high speed until it is smooth and creamy. Add it to the yolk mixture.
In yet another bowl beat the egg whites until they begin to hold their shape but aren’t still. Fold them into the yolk mixture.
Divide dough in half and roll each half out thin, stretching the dough as you roll it. Line the pie pans and let the edges hang. Fill each pan with half the filling and trim and tuck under the edges of the crust. Put into oven and turn heat down to 325°. Bake for an hour, no peaking or jumping, don’t let the fiadone brown.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Wilted Dandelion Salad
Pick a colander full of unflowered dandelion greens, cut off roots.
Wash well to remove grit, pick out anything that isn't dandelion, dry and put in serving dish.
Melt 2 spoonfuls of bacon grease in a small fry pan, (What? You don't save bacon grease in a small jar in your fridge? Fine, use olive oil.)
Sauté 3 large crushed garlic cloves in bacon grease until tan, pour over greens, toss, salt and pepper and serve.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
I used a Mark Bittman recipe for dessert.
Vanilla Pots de Crème
2 cups heavy cream, light cream, or half-and-half
2 vanilla beans or 1teaspoon vanilla extract
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Pour cream into small saucepan. Split vanilla beans in half lengthwise and scrape seeds into cream. Put pod in cream, too. Heat cream until steam rises. Cover pan, turn off heat and let steep for 10 to 15 minutes. If using vanilla extract, just heat cream and let it cool while you proceed.
2. Beat yolks and sugar together until light. Pour about a quarter of the cream (remove vanilla bean pod) into this mixture, then pour sugar-egg mixture into cream and stir. If you are using vanilla extract, add it now and stir. Pour mixture into 4 6-ounce ramekins and place ramekins in a baking dish; fill dish with water halfway up the side of ramekins. Cover with foil.
3. Bake 30 to 45 minutes, or until center is barely set. (Heavy cream sets fastest; half-and-half more slowly.) Chill, then serve.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
How the Garden Grows:
Heirloom Salad Blend
Key Lime Lettuce
Black Seed Simpson Lettuce
Rainbow Swiss Chard
Early Frosty Pea
Borettana Yellow Onion
French Breakfast Radish
Long Scarlet Cincinnati Radish
Red Globe Radish
Golden Globe Turnip
Kentucky Wonder Bush Bean
Golden Detroit Beet
Golden Bantam Corn
Boston Pickling Cucumber
Golden Scallop Squash
No Recipe Pork Chop Dinner
Brine chops (I used 2 cups water, 1/4 cup salt, 1/4 cup molasses)
Peel turnips and potatoes and cut into chunks (pick the potato to turnip ratio that you prefer). Put in a pan with tight fitting lid and add water until chunks are half covered. Bring to a boil, throw in a chunk of butter, cover and lower to a simmer. Cook until potatoes and turnips are soft and mashable, this should take about 15-20 minutes. Mash--if things seem watery, cook with the lid off to thicken. Taste, add salt, pepper, butter as you see fit. Keep warm while you make the pork chops.
Heat a frying pan on medium high and brown chops on all side. Place them on an oven-safe dish and put them in a 350° oven to finish cooking. Add peeled and sliced apple to pan, sprinkle with thyme and sauté until they begin to color. Deglaze pan with vermouth and simmer until apples are tender but still hold their shape. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
Pick a pretty plate, lean the pork chop against the mashed potatoes and turnips, spoon the apples over the pork, green salad on the side. Perfect.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Brad wanted onion rolls. Well, actually he mentioned in passing that he would like a roast beef sandwich on a soft roll like he use to get in New York. He was very specific about the roll. It's possible he was thinking of going to the grocery store and purchasing some rolls. I doubt that he thought I would spend the day making them for him. I figure that since he tolerates my kitchen bossiness, I should make the things he likes. After much discussion about the differences between onion, kaiser, and hard rolls, I found this recipe online. They turned out absolutely amazing. In my version of the recipe, I've increased the salt and reduced the sugar, which is something I usually do to any bread recipe. I will also make less of the onion topping next time--I love the way it tastes, but at a certain point physics comes into play and there is no way to balance 2 cups of soft wet onions on top of 14 rolls....
* 3 T. dry yeast
* 1 1/2 cup water (100°F.)
* 1 tsp. sugar
* 6 cups bread flour
* 6 T. canola oil
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 1 T. salt
* 3 large eggs
* 1 cups chopped onion
* 1 large egg, beaten
* 3 T. black poppy seeds
Oven Temp: 400°F.; change to 375°F. when rolls go into the oven.
Grease two cookie sheets with oil.
Yield: 14 rolls
Dissolve yeast in water, add 1 tsp. sugar and let the mixture sit for 1 minute to become creamy.
Put flour, 3 T. oil, sugar, salt, and 3 eggs in the work-bowl of a food processor fitted with the plastic blade. With the motor running, add the yeast/water mixture. Continue kneading in the processor until the dough is smooth and elastic, the texture of your earlobe. Grease a large bowl with 1 T. oil; put the dough in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, let rise for 1 1/2 hours or until the dough is doubled in size.
Meanwhile, heat 2 T. oil with 2 T. water in a small saucepan. Add the chopped onions, and cook slowly for 2 minutes until the onions are just beginning to appear translucent. Cover the pan, and remove it from the heat. By the time the rolls are ready to bake, the onions will be perfect.
Punch down the dough; divide into 14 pieces. Form smooth balls of dough and place on greased cookie sheets. With your fist, make indentations first in one direction, then turned 90°. Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and let rise 20 min. With your fist, make the indentations again; fill the indentations with the cooked onions; brush with beaten egg; sprinkle with seeds.
Place rolls in oven and put a shallow pan with cold water on the bottom rack of the oven; turn the temperature down to 375°F. Bake rolls for 20-25 minutes, rotate them midway through the baking. Cool 15-20 minutes on a rack before serving.