Thursday, July 31, 2008

Corn Off the Cob

There are few vegetables I enjoy more than fresh picked corn on the cob. And I like pretty much every vegetable out there. Except Lima beans. Eww. (And yes, I know beans aren't vegetables. They're legumes.)

There's just something about the way extremely fresh vegetables smell. Holding a just picked ear of corn up to your nose and inhaling - the earthy loam the corn grew in presents itself, hints of warmth and sunshine, fresh air so far removed from the city streets. It's a beautiful thing and it brings me back to my childhood. My mother and I grew a garden annually and our time spent together outdoors is one of my most cherished memories. She knew so much about the earth and how to treat her to nourish amazing plant life to grace our dinner table. The patience she extended in teaching me these wonderful things was infinite - I was a very precocious, impatient child. I appreciate the fruits of labor so much more holding this knowledge. The smell of fresh food is a product of the miracle of nature and of hard work. It's a thing not to be held lightly.

And sometimes for fun you find little baby ears inside the husk.

On a lighter note, Husband is of the school of thought that work for food once it's on the plate is unnecessary. So, that means no Cornish game hens, no crab legs, and no corn on the cob - unless of course it's all cut up and prepared for him. I often tell Husband that should he ever have to hunt for his food...well, let's just say he'd be very, very skinny. Anyways, so this tasked me with finding a way to prepare it off the cob without boiling it to death.

I'm so keen on corn that I've actually been known to eat it right off the cob while it's still raw. It's so sweet and juicy, what's the point of cooking? Husband would def not go for this.

Instead, I cut it off the cob and did this:

Parmesan Corn Off the Cob

2 ears of corn
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 T Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 T butter

1. Very carefully, cut all the kernels off the cob into a mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, thyme and the Parmesan cheese. Toss well to combine.

2. In a skillet melt butter and cook corn over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until crisp tender and heated through. Be careful to not overcook.

Olive Oil and Thyme Red Potato Coins

These are totally lifted right off of White on Rice Couple's recipe pages. They run a completely awesome food blog and you should totally check it out. I saw these when they topped them with goat cheese and knew I had to try them. I dig roasted potatoes but I've never tried doing it this way. I only wish I had some goat cheese on hand. Yum. They're seriously simple to make, just toss some sliced potatoes in olive oil and seasonings.

But, be sure to read the recipe twice, or like me, you may forget the parchment paper part and spend ten minutes trying to scrape potato bits off your baking sheet.

What can I say, I'm a pro like that.

I only substituted thyme for the rosemary in their recipe, so I won't bother posting it here.

Go enjoy some of their delicious recipes.

Whole Wheat Gruyere Soufflé

Like every cook I'm always wanting new gadgets, dishes, and whatnot. Unlike a lot of people though, I'm totally not willing to pay full price for all of these fun little trinkets. So, when I decide I want something I keep an eye out for sales, peruse bargain/closeout stores, and check out sites like Crate & Barrel's sale page, or until I find what I want at a price I'm willing to pay. The other day I found these perfect little soufflé ramekins at a closeout store for only $2. (Funny enough a couple months ago I bought a light green 2 qt soufflé dish for only $3. I saw it at Whole Foods yesterday for $20. Money!) I'd been wanting a set of these for a very, very long time. It just seemed so frivolous to spend upwards of 6 bucks a piece for them. I can handle $2. Fer sure.

As soon as I got them home I started thinking about all the wonderful new things I could try with them, foremost in my mind a delicious Gruyère soufflé. I'd never made a soufflé before and was a little nervous at facing the challenge. I'm a horrible folder. I tend to avoid recipes that call for it. Me and fluffy egg whites don't really mix. But, in all fairness everything went perfectly. I used the whisk attachment for my immersion blender (Thanks MiL!) and it worked like a charm. They whipped up in no time to perfect stiff peaks. The folding went well and the soufflés were fluffy, cheesy, light as air deliciousness. And with whole wheat flour, how can you go wrong?

I have to admit though, I think I'm going to stick with some nice dark chocolate soufflés from now on though. And top them with raspberries. Yumm.

I mean, they do say dark chocolate's good for you right...

Gruyère Soufflé

Makes 3 one cup soufflés

2 T butter + melted butter for brushing ramekins
1/4 cup Parmesan, finely grated
22g white whole wheat flour, sifted (Approx. 6 T)
3/4 cup milk
pinch salt
dash cayenne
3 eggs, separated
4 oz. Gruyère, finely grated
1/4 t cream of tartar

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Brush 3 ramekins with melted butter and coat with Parmesan; set on sturdy baking sheet.

2. In saucepan melt 2 T butter. Whisk in flour and cook over medium for 1 minute. Whisk in milk slowly and cook until smooth and thick, about 2 minutes. Add salt and cayenne. Allow to cool slightly and transfer to a mixing bowl. Mix in Gruyère.

3. In a large ceramic or metal bowl whisk egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula fold egg whites into Gruyère mixture until no white streaks remain. Spoon into ramekins, wiping any drips. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan.

4. Cook until puffed and browned, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately, they will deflate in a matter of minutes - or less.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Cream of Onion Soup

This Cream of Onion soup was pretty gosh darn delicious, and with a little tweaking I think it could be a regular addition in the SB household. This was my dinner while Husband ate the Broccoli, Anchovy, and Pasta soup. The addition of the white vermouth really made the soup, in my opinion. It was perfectly balanced. Buttery onions, creamy broth, pleasant tang of vermouth. Divine.

The recipe states to not let the second batch of onions caramelize. I let them half caramelize, namely because I wasn't paying attention, and I disagree. I think the second batch should definitely be caramelized. It adds more flavor. I also garnished with some fresh snipped chives from my herb garden and allowed a garlic-herb crouton to get all mushy in the bowl. Soooo tasty. (My notes are in parentheses)

Cream of Onion Soup

Serves 4

1/2 cup butter
2 1/4 lbs yellow onions, sliced
1 bay leaf
7 T white vermouth
4 cups chicken stock
2/3 cup cream
salt and pepper
chives and croutons to garnish

1. Set aside 7 oz (1 1/2 cups) of sliced onion. In a large pan melt 6 T of the butter and add the remainder of the onions with the bay leaf. Stir to coat in butter, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The onions should be very soft, but not browned ( I say brown 'em a little bit!).

2. Add the vermouth, increase the heat and boil until nearly all liquid has evaporated. Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter in a separate pan and cook the 7 oz of onions. (Caramelize!) Add the stock to the main pot and bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

3. Using an immersion blender/food processor/blender puree the onions until smooth. Add the cream, heat through. Add the separate onions, season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot garnished with fresh chives and croutons.

Broccoli, Anchovy and Pasta Soup

This is one of Husband's favorite dishes ever. He always gets all excited whenever I'm willing to make it. I say willing because I hate anchovies. A lot. They totally gross me out. MiL made this for a soup dinner she threw for her employees last winter, Husband and I happened to be visiting right after and he instantly fell in love with this soup. MiL is a very, very good cook. Thankfully she's also very wonderful in other ways or I'd be green with jealous envy.

This soup really has just a hint of anchovy, it's not overwhelming. Husband insists it's really quite tasty. I'll let you decide.

Broccoli, Anchovy, and Pasta Soup

2 T olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 red chili, seeded and minced
3-4 anchovy fillets, drained
8 oz (1 cup) passata (U.S. tomato sauce)
3 T white wine
5 cups vegetable/chicken stock
2 cups broccoli florets
1 3/4 cup orecchiette pasta (I used shells this time, orecchiette works and looks better)
salt and pepper

1. Heat the oil in a large pan. Add onion, garlic, chili, and anchovies and cook over low heat for 5-6 minutes, stirring constantly.

2. Add the white wine and passata, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and cook, covered, over low heat for 12-15 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

3. Pour in stock. Bring to a rolling boil. Add broccoli florets and pasta, cook until pasta is tender, about 7-8 minutes.

4. Garnish with Pecorino cheese if desired.

White Wine Granita

I enjoyed the red wine granita inpired by Jude over at Apple Pie, Patis, & Pâté so much, that when I had nearly a whole bottle of pinot gris left over from a recipe I thought to use it in the same application. I'm not a huge fan of white wine for drinking, so this really would be the only way it would be drunk in my house, Husband doesn't drink at all. Of course the cinnamon and clove would seem a little out of place with white wine, in my opinion at least, so I omitted them from the recipe. I thought a star anise would've been a nice addition, but I forgot to order some in my last shipment and I wasn't about to purchase them from the grocery store. Not since finding out how old grocery store spices really are. Yech.

So, a funny story for you. I made the first batch of this using pinot gris, simmered it all up and tossed it in the freezer. Game over, right? Not so much. At about ten thirty that night I'm laying in bed reading when I get this great idea that I should have a cookie. That's always a great idea, plus I've still got a box of Thin Mints in my freezer left over from Girl Scout cookie season. So I prance out to my kitchen, open up the freezer door and pull out a couple cookies. Husband says something to me and I turn to answer him while shoving the cookies back in their hole in the freezer...thereby dislodging the granita on its precarious perch on some frozen hamburger buns. It flips over entirely, drenching the entire front of me, pouring down the front of the refrigerator and spilling all over my kitchen floor. At ten thirty at night. I was not a happy camper. I was a livid camper having murderous thoughts.

I was totally ready to be like 'The hell with this, I'm going to bed. I'll clean this up in the morning." Husband was sweet enough to mop up the floor for me. Game over, right? Not so much.

I get up the next morning, walk into the kitchen to grab a glass of OJ (the juice not the murderer) and notice the floor is still sticky. Boo. That means I have to mop the floor again. I grab a glass from the cupboard, walk to the refrigerator...and can't open the door. Wtf? I yank, doesn't budge. I use both hands, grab the door, plant my feet and pull as hard as I can - the fridge hops towards me a couple inches, but the door? Still not opening. I ended up having to pour warm water over the door seal to get the granita to loosen up enough to get the doors open. Game over finally, right? Oh no, had to do the freezer too.

Let's just say it was a true test of my character to attempt this again. Okay, to be fair, it wasn't a test of character. It was my being a stubborn Taurus. I'm sorry, this damn white wine granita pissed me off. It's getting made, whether it wants to be or not. I don't even like white wine and wouldn't buy it if I didn't need it for recipes. But not this time, no sirree. This sumbitch done ticked me off. I determinedly drove to the grocery store, bought a bottle of chardonnay, oranges and lemons and came right home and remade it.

Verdict? Meh. If you like white wine, you'll love it. And hey, if you try it, add the star anise and let me know how it is.

White Wine Granita

500 ml white wine
2/3 cup sugar
zest and juice of 1 orange
zest and juice of 1 lemon

1. Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan, heat over medium-low until sugar dissolves.

2. Strain if desired, place in freezer until frozen and slushy.

3. Get all liquored up.

P.S. Game over.

P.P.S. And yes, I really am the type of person that will cut off their nose to spite their face - as long as it's satisfying.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Kalamansi-Lemon Curd and Strawberry Tart

I'm so officially sold on this Kalamansi Tree I got last week at the farmer's market!

I read somewhere on the interwebs that kalamansi fruit are a great substitute for lemons or limes. This gave me the stellar idea of making some curd. Because, I mean really people, what on this earth is better than a nice lemon curd? That's right. Not a whole lot. I love lemon curd because it maintains the delightful pucker of the lemon. I can't stand those lemon treats that are totally sweet. Gag me. It completely defeats the point of being a lemon. A sweet lemon? What a travesty!

I thought it would be easy as pie to just sub the kalamansi for the lemon, and oh boy was I right! I only had four little ripe guys, so I did end up using the juice of a half of one lemon to get to the 100 ml mark. I really can't put into words how delicious this tart was. A whole wheat pastry crust topped with curd paired with some fresh, organic, locally grown strawberries. It was like a grown-up version of strawberry lemonade. I imagine that the only way one could improve upon this delectable treat would be to drizzle some mint syrup over the top. Holy crap. That would be amazing.

The only hitch in my giddy-up (great googly-moogly I'm such a dork) was that I don't have a tart pan, only a flan (or Marianne) pan. A flan pan is used for making tarts that use a batter base, a tart pan is used for tarts with a pastry shell. Of course I didn't realize this until I'd already made the shortcrust pastry. Go me. It managed to turn out okay, but I'm definitely going to have to buy me a tart pan. (Thanks for the flan pan, though Mom. You rock!)

Kalamansi-Lemon Curd and Strawberry Tart

Shortcrust Pastry

2 cups white whole wheat flour, sifted
5 oz. butter
ice water

1. Using a pastry blender or food processor blend the butter and flour until it is uniformly small crumbs.

2. Using your hands blend in enough ice water to create a firm dough. Knead a few times. To prevent shrinkage (because who wants that?) refrigerate wrapped in saran wrap for 30 minutes before rolling and baking.

3. Roll out and shape into tart pan. Bake at 325 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. Check for air bubbles and pop, or anchor using pie weights or rice.

Kalamansi-Lemon Curd

Makes 1 full cup

kalamansi/lemon juice to equal 100 ml (1/3 cup + 2 t)
4 egg yolks
125 g sugar (1/2 cup)
56 g (4 T) butter, softened

1. In saucepan beat yolks and sugar until combined well. Stir in remaining ingredients.

2. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until thickened - about 20-25 minutes. DO NOT boil. Boiling will curdle the mixture. If mixture starts to steam, remove from heat and stir quickly to prevent boiling.

3. Once thickened and opaque (similar to Hollandaise) remove from heat immediately and pour into cool dish. Cover with saran wrap, directly on the surface, so as to not form a skin.


1. Fill pastry shell with curd and top with sliced strawberries.

2. Try not to eat the whole damn thing in one sitting.

Goat Cheese Stuffed Pork Loin - Part Deux

The first time I tried out this recipe I had already chopped up my whole tenderloin into loins (I always feel naughty when I say that word:-/). It didn't really work out so well. The loins were a little too thin and after butterflying, stuffing, and skewering - all the filling leaked out while cooking. Blah. I did, however, find out that burnt goat cheese is effing delicious.

So, I picked up another tenderloin and decided to try again. This time I did it properly, kitchen string trussing and everything. Some of the filling still leaked out, but not nearly as bad as last time. Last time there was nary a trace of goat cheese left in the pork. I'm still thinking it might be easier to just add a nice dollop of herbed goat cheese on top after cooking, but stuffing the tenderloin infuses it with such great flavor. This style of stuffing really has me torn. Perhaps next time I'll add some breadcrumbs to the goat cheese to get it to stay inside the pork loin. Or maybe, before searing in the pan, refrigerating the whole loin, all trussed up, for twenty minutes or so, that way the goat cheese doesn't start melting immediately. Anyone have any advice?

I'm still not sure if this dish is worth all the work though. I really hate getting stuff stuck under my nails. Boo.

Herbed Goat Cheese Stuffed Pork Loin

Serves 2

1 pork tenderloin, cut in half
4 oz. goat cheese
olive oil
fresh basil, chopped
1 garlic clove, smashed
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Use a sharp knife to butterfly the tenderloins. Lay out flat and cover with saran wrap. Using a meat mallet or rolling pin beat out the tenderloin until it forms a rudimentary rectangle. Do NOT flatten completely, this will alter the texture of the pork. Season pork with salt and pepper.

2. In a small dish combine the goat cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, chopped basil to taste, the garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Spread over the surface of the pork evenly, leaving a 3/4 in. border.

3. Using kitchen string, tie up the pork in even sections ensuring the roll stays intact. Drizzle with olive oil and season again with salt and pepper.

4. In a heavy, oven proof skillet melt the butter in olive oil over medium high heat. Sear the loins on each side until a nice, caramelized brown crust forms on all sides. Transfer skillet to the oven and cook an additional 12 minutes.

5. Remove from oven, take loins out of skillet and let rest, covered with foil, about ten minutes. This will allow the juices to settle and the filling to firm up a bit.

6. Remove kitchen string and slice on the diagonal.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Spiced Chicken and Mushroom Soup with Rice

This little soup was an interesting play on flavors. A play I wasn't even sure I was going to like until it was finished and I finally tasted it. My reasoning for being so wary? I'm a picky eater. I know! That's like foodie cardinal sin numero uno! But, it's true. I'm not picky in the sense that I refuse to try new or different things, I'm picky in that I don't like unexpected flavors.

Let me explain...

I order the same thing at every single restaurant, cafe, fast food joint, etc. Not the exact same thing mind you, but I find a dish I like within the first few visits and never stray. If I go to Subway, I get the BMT. If I go to Olive Garden (God forgive me) I get the Garlic Herb Chicken con Broccoli. If we get Indian food we always get Coconut Lamb Curry and Palak Paneer. I'm a creature of habit. I even park in the same aisle of parking spots at the grocery store. I always go in the same set of doors at the bank. If I was a rich person and someone wanted to kill me, they'd have no friggin' problem studying my routines and finding the perfect spot to off me.

That long winded spiel was all to say: I wasn't sure I was going to like the garam masala and cilantro in my soup. I have a love/hate relationship with cilantro. That's kind of an unexpected flavor in my realm of soupiness. Some stuff it's okay in, others I hate it in. I know, I'm a whiny baby. But I was seriously worried I wasn't going to like it and I was going to waste a whole pot of soup. This has happened several times before, a lentil soup, a chicken curry (that's how I found out I'm not the biggest fan of strong coriander seed), blah, blah, blah.

But you know what? It was good. Really good. Really effin good.

Just remember to use exceptionally fresh ingredients, it is a pretty simple soup after all. And I swear, if you make this and used canned corn...I'll hunt you down and stomp on your toes.

Spiced Chicken and Mushroom Soup with Rice

Serves 4

6 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
2 (11 oz) chicken breasts, cut into very fine strips
1 yellow onion, slivered
1 1/2 cups (4 oz) mushrooms, sliced
1 ear of corn, kernels sliced off
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup long grain rice
1 cup cream
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

1. Melt the butter in a medium pan. Add garlic, garam masala, pepper, salt, and nutmeg.

2. Add the chicken and allow to brown for thirty seconds. Add mushroom, onion, and corn. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Stir often.

3. Either remove 1 1/2 cups mixture and puree remainder in pan with an immersion blender or remove most of mixture, leaving 1 1/2 cups, and move to food processor to puree and return to pan. Add chicken stock. Bring to a boil.

4. Add rice and reduce heat to keep at a steady simmer. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Lower the heat and stir in the cream. Heat through. Add the cilantro and stir to combine. Serve hot with crusty garlic bread.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Salty Steak Deliciousness

This morning I was all set for making some out of this world Gruyere Soufflés. Sadly, around noon our power went out. For like four hours. This has happened before, the power flickering in and out, but not usually for so long. Funny enough, last time the power went out at our house we later found out it was because a seagull flew into the power lines. Priceless, eh? I guess that's what you get when you live like three blocks from the Pacific Ocean. Well, you get stupid ass seagulls and a lot of fog. I'll take the seagulls any day. Fog blooooows.

Today I was not in the mood for their little birdy antics so when the power blipped off and didn't immediately come back on I went to the window and peered through the blinds. I was hoping for some serious seagull carnage in the power lines to justify my power shutting off. Okay, I'm really a big softy when it comes to any living creature, (Except people. Most people suck. Screw people.) so I didn't really want to see some feathery fluff ball engulfed in flames. But man, I was really looking forward to those soufflés.

New plan of attack for cooking scrumptiousness: Yummy steaks on the grill.

Though it doesn't happen very often, I do on occasion really enjoy a nice big hunk of red meat. Sadly, because I'm not exactly a frequent beef shopper, I usually end up coming home with something that looks tasty but is tough as shoe leather. This is mainly because I'm not willing to fork out 8+ dollars for a single steak. I know, I'm a cheap ass, but what are you gonna do, right?

While I was surfing the interwebs this morning I ran across this amazing and wonderful website: Steamy Kitchen She describes how to turn lesser cuts of meat into yummy tasty meat-candy. And it totally works. Seriously. It involves liberally (and she means LIBERALLY) salting the meat for up to an hour before grilling. I managed to turn some tough as shoe leather eye-of-round into relatively tender delectable steaks. I even cooked them a little too long and they were still worth putting in my mouth. They were a touch salty, but I like salty so it's all good in the hood. I think next time I'll make a better effort in washing them off, or use kosher salt and see if there's a difference.

After topping it all off with some herbed butter and serving alongside some green beans stir fried with some shallots, it was deeeelicious.

You should totally try it.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

French Toast I love a well done morsel of French Toast. And ahh how I absolutely abhor a poorly made, soggy with egg, awful piece of French Toast. As with most things there is a fine balance between what I love, and what I cannot stand. Enter egg dipped bread, so tasty on a lazy Saturday morning...and so easy to screw up. Of course I have done this myself countless my times, so when I awoke this morning I vowed to try anew my quest for tasty toasts. Yumm...French Toast. Toast that has been Frenched. Wait...that's probably something totally different, huh? Eww.

This may seem like an odd little conglomeration of ingredients, but trust me. You don't need to add milk or cream, or vanilla, or all that other crap most people seem to think are integral ingredients. Follow these directions and you'll take ordinary sandwich bread and turn it into firm, flavorful, deliciously executed French Toast.

God this morning would have been so much easier had I just had some damned French bread on hand rather than having to come up with this to substitute awful sliced bread...

French Toast

Serves 2

4 slices bread
4 eggs
2 teaspoons sugar
pinch salt
cinnamon, to taste
nutmeg, freshly grated, to taste
2 tablespoons butter

1. In a heavy skillet over medium heat melt 1 tablespoon of butter.

2. In an 8 x 8 baking dish, or other shallow dish, beat the eggs, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg until combined.

3. Soak a slice of bread in the egg mixture for at least 20 seconds per side. You want the bread so saturated with egg that it nearly falls apart in your hands.

4. Transfer to the hot skillet and fry on each side in the melted butter about 3-4 minutes. Repeat with remaining bread slices, keeping finished toasts in the oven on warm.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Kalamansi Tree

Isn't he pretty? I'm going to have to give him a name. Although that might make picking the fruit a little awkward. I am a married woman after all...

Weirdness aside, I'm so stoked to have finally gotten my very own citrus tree! It's a dream come true. My first thought when Husband said we were moving to California was, "Sweet! I get my own lemon tree!" Okay, well maybe it wasn't my first thought, but it was definitely a prevalent one.

I was tooling along at the farmer's market looking for some tasty treats when I stumbled upon this pretty fella. I'd been planning on buying another Pichara (Money Tree) but had a total change of heart when I saw this guy. And he was only $13. So cheap he should be ashamed of himself. I absolutely had to have one of course, if only I knew what the hell it was. The little sign said "Clemantsi Lemons". I assumed of course that was the case, why should I think any different? I'd simply search out information on the internet when I got home. Thinking I was being a responsible new parent to this beautiful tree I asked the guy a couple questions about re-potting and fertilizing and happily carted my purchase home.

When I arrived home I googled 'Clemantsi Lemon' and what did I find? Zilch. Nada. Not a single return. It's Google! How can the greatest search engine super power in the universe not have a single listing on my tree? Sacrilege! Blasphemy! Crap. What does a Seattle native know about growing citrus? Even less than what Google returned. Seriously. After about two hours of searching every damn citrus page hosted in this hemisphere I finally discovered this baby is called a Calamondin or Kalamansi. Yeah, that doesn't really mean a whole lot to me either. I guess they're popular in South East Asia, especially the Philippines. They were introduced to Florida by some dude in the late 1800's from Panama and are called an 'acid orange' or 'Panama Orange.' Very cool though, they are one of the only citrus plants that has the ability to grow, flower, and fruit at the same time. And they'll bear fruit all year round, unlike most other citrus.

At first after finding out this information I was a little disappointed. I had wanted a lemon tree after all, not some stupid sour orange. But it was really pretty. And it is a citrus tree. And didn't God say on the 9th day that all citrus are created relatively equal? (No? bad) But, I suppose we'll taste and see...

After tasting one I can definitely see the appeal. I peeled it, and it's like a tangerine, a very thin skin. It segments similarly too. On first taste you get the acid full force, some serious pucker power. But then, on the end of it, there's an intense sweetness. It's quite amazing actually. I also read somewhere that the peel is sweet, like a kumquat. I'm going to have to try one out peel and all tomorrow.

One site said they're great for making Key Lime Pie. Husband is very interested in that idea....

Shrimp Po' Boys

There's not many sandwiches I enjoy more than a tasty shrimp po' boy. Although, I'm sure any native from "Na'wlins" (gag) would call my delicious sandwich a travesty, well bully for them. It's tasty and it's a touch healthier. So there.

Traditionally the shrimp is battered and deep fried before being thrown on a french roll with onion, shredded iceberg lettuce, tomato and some kind of mayo-based dressing. In my version the shrimp are just sautéed in a bit o' butter. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for the battered and deep fried version. They're deeeelicious. I'd just like to keep my arteries in the shape they're in. Clear. Just for fun I decided to use some pretty heirloom tomatoes and baby heirloom lettuces from the farmer's market. Aren't they pretty?

I keep on waiting for my baby tomatoes to ripen, but they're coming along at a snail's pace. I've only got one bitty Black Krim that's even thinking about getting ripe. I guess, according to some natives, that I should be happy I even got my plants to bear fruit. Apparently this area is notoriously crappy for growing tomatoes. That's what I get for living right next to the ocean...stupid fog.

Shrimp Po' Boys

Makes 2 sandwiches

2 French rolls
1-1 1/2 lbs. shrimp (16-25 ct at least, preferably bigger)
2 tablespoons butter
1 large or 2 small shallots, finely sliced
1/2 teaspoon dill
1/2 teaspoon creole-style seasoning (I like Tony Chachere's)

1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons ketchup
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 slices onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 oz)
1 teaspoon dill


1. In a small bowl combine mayonnaise, ketchup, Dijon mustard, onion, and dill. Set aside.

2. In a heavy skillet melt butter over medium heat, brown shallot. Ensure shrimp are totally drained, cook until curled and heated through.

3. Slice French rolls in half and slather with mayo dressing. Assemble sandwiches with layer of shrimp, tomatoes, basil leaves, lettuce, and top of roll.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Greek Yoghurt and Honey Panna Cotta

I found this recipe over on A Spoonful of Sugar. Normally I wouldn't post a recipe for someone elses delicious creation; I'd just point you in their direction and tell you to have fun. But, I changed this guy significantly and converted all the measurements for us dirty Americans and our standard measurements. I sure hope the pretty lady over there doesn't mind me completely stealing her recipe. (You're amazing and wonderful, thank you for creating this!)

So, I thought this was going to be an okay treat. A fun experiment, if you will. I have to tell you, this was like the most outrageously delicious thing I've ever put in my damn mouth. Seriously. I would not kid you about stuff I put in my mouth. The tang of the yoghurt coupled with the earthy sweetness of the honey was a match made in heaven.

(tangent: I love how everybody spells yogurt with an 'h' except us, therefore I'm going to start calling it yoghurt. It just looks so much more fun and exotic. So screw you damn 'simplify/bastardize everything' Americans. I do what I want.)

I'm sure if you've read more than a post of two here, you know I don't like sweets. Pretty much at all. I'm a freak like that. But, this... Oh my holy mother of great yoghurty goodness. I could eat vats and vats of this. I could wallow in a fifty gallon drum of this and eat my way out. Thank god I used low-fat yoghurt.

Make this. I'm not kidding.

Buuuuuut....if you do, use the right amount of gelatin. If you don't it'll look like this:

Instead of looking like what it should look like:

Granted, still not beautiful like the original creator's, but in all fairness I was still trying to figure out the ratio of gelatin to other stuff. Apparently no one in Central CA believes in leaf gelatin so I had to use powdered (soooo lame) and while I was hoping it would simply be an equal weight of powdered vs. leaf...I was very wrong. But it was a tasty mistake, so no harm no foul, right?

Without further ado -

Greek Yoghurt and Honey Panna Cotta

1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons sugar
5 grams powdered gelatin (sorry kids, you have to weigh it. 1 packet = 7 grams)
1 2/3 cups Greek yoghurt (plain yogurt)

1. In a 1/4 cup of the heavy cream sprinkle the powdered gelatin, stir to mix and allow to dissolve. Let rest for 5 minutes until gelled.

2. In a small sauce pan combine remaining 1/4 cup heavy cream, honey, and sugar over low heat until sugar dissolves. Do not boil.

3. Add gelatin-cream mixture. Stir until dissolved and smooth.

4. In a separate bowl combine honey-cream-gelatin mixture with yoghurt. Mix well until uniformly combined.

5. Separate into two lightly oiled ramekins. Cover with cling wrap and chill overnight.

6. To remove, let ramekin rest in a bowl of hot tap water level with panna cotta for two minutes, then flip out onto plate.

Kashmiri Style Coconut Chicken Curry

Who loves curry? I do! I do!

It's true, I totally dig curry. There's just something about how all those spices meld together and slide over the palate. Sweet, savory and spicy - no matter, curry is indiscriminate. I love the warmth of cinnamon, the pungency of fenugreek, and the bouquet of coriander. Tonight was an exploration into a whole new region of flavors, Kashmiri. The Kashmir region of India is in the north, bordering Pakistan. I didn't stay true to their style of cooking by adding coconut milk to the curry, but I couldn't help it. I freakin' love coconut in curry.

First off, do you not love these purple carrots I got at the farmer's market? It's kind of sad their beauty will be covered up in a curry. They're gorgeous...

I seriously can't get enough of them. They taste like your average carrot. Well, if your average carrot is an heirloom variety gem organically grown like 20 miles away. I'm so blessed to live in this breadbasket of lovely goodness that is Central California. Here, look at them again. Stoke your jealousy of my lovely carrots...

Okay, I promise I'm done being a total freak for the remainder of this post.

Anyways, I'm still learning about all the different regions of India and the associated cooking styles. It's really quite fascinating how different the food is from region to least to complete food dorks like me. Now this creation I've made here isn't a traditional recipe in any sense, more like a catch-all dish I used to clean out the veggie shelf. (I hope the Kashmiri people aren't offended I've bastardized their cuisine. If bad.) So, if you're interested in duplicating, don't feel beholden to a recipe. Besides, recipes are soooo boring.

By the way, I used World Spice's blend for curry powder. It could have used a little more heat and was a teensy bit heavy on the cassia, in my opinion, but Husband loved it. Two big bowls of it loved it. If you have everything and want to blend it yourself, it contains cardamom, cassia, clove, fennel, Guajillo chilies, cumin, coriander and turmeric. I added a pinch of fenugreek. This was a pretty mild dish all in all. I think next time I'll kick it up with a hot chile or two. Oh yeah...

Kashmiri Style Coconut Chicken Curry

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons oil
1 lb. chicken, cubed roughly
1 onion, slivered
3 cloves garlic, minced
20 oz. coconut milk
3 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1 1/2 lbs. assorted vegetables (I used zucchini, patty pan squash, carrots, and mushrooms)
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
salt to taste (and it'll take more than you think it will, so taste often and season appropriately)

1. Melt the butter in the oil and sear the chicken breast over medium high heat.

2. When the chicken is cooked nearly through add the slivered onion. When the onion softens add the garlic, cook until fragrant.

3. Add coconut milk, reserving a couple ounces. Mix curry powder with coconut milk to make a slurry. Add curry slurry (giggle) to pan. Mix well

4. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to keep at a steady simmer. Cover and let simmer for twenty minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Add vegetables and cilantro, return to a simmer. Cover and cook vegetables through, about 15 minutes depending on types of vegetables.

6. Remove lid and cook for further ten minutes, stirring every minute or so, until curry has reduced to desired thickness.

7. Serve over jasmine/basmati rice.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


What not to love about snickerdoodles? Starting with the name it's all uphill from there. How much better can you get than putting 'snicker' and 'doodle' right next to each other? And then to find out it's the name of an outstandingly delicious cookie - covered in sugar and cinnamon?! I know! It's friggin' great!

I've loved snickerdoodles for as long as I can remember. It probably started with the name, after all, this appreciation started when I was a little kid. And I know I'm repeating myself, but honestly - snickerdoodle! A person could never get tired of saying it, let alone a precocious little kid like I was. I still think there's few cookies that beat it, although this is from a person who's really not too keen on sweets. I would most definitely pick a humble little snickerdoodle over a triple-chocolate-fudge-peanut-butter-caramel-crunch cookie, or whatever crap they're coming up with in cookie kingdom these days.

I think next time I whip up a batch of these tasty morsels I'll add a teaspoon of cinnamon to the dough. I really enjoy the cinnamon-sugar coating and think it could only get better with a hint if cinnamon in the dough too. Also, though it's not something I've found a lot of, I used unbleached white whole wheat flour in the dough. It worked perfectly and I'd much rather use King Arthur's than some bleached-to-hell supermarket brand flour. Just remember when you're measuring flour, to not pack it in, use another cup to pour it into your measuring cup, then level it off with a knife. If you're still not sure what I mean by that, watch this movie from Gourmet. It's really quite shocking the difference in weights.

Whole Wheat Snickerdoodles

Makes approximately 30 cookies

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour (or whatever you want to use)
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
dash salt

1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

2. Combine 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon in a shallow dish. Set aside.

3. Combine sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla. Beat until combined and creamy.

4. Sift flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt into bowl. Mix until thoroughly combined.

5. Roll into balls about 1 inch in diameter, roll in cinnamon sugar mixture. Press down slightly with the palm of your hand onto baking sheet.

6. Bake 5 minutes, turn baking sheet 180 degrees, bake additional 5 minutes. Let rest on baking sheet for at least three minutes.

7. Remove to cooling rack, or as I like to do (as my mother did before me) cool on flattened brown paper bags from the supermarket(I know some of you people are going to have heart attacks over this saying it's not safe or it's unsanitary, but I prefer to not be such a big whiny baby about things. So there.). The paper bag absorbs some of the residual fats and makes the cookies crisp up quite nicely while allowing the insides to stay soft and chewy.

Now, if you're silly like me, you're going to start taking pictures of your pretty little cookies and forget about the second batch cooking in the oven. This is what happens:

I actually like the overcooked ones better. When I make cookies I like to use a stoneware baking sheet. One of the really cool perks about stoneware is that it's really freakin' hard to burn stuff on it, it tends to just get harder and harder. The cookies left in the oven just got crunchier and I think they turned out nicely. I think I'll send the "proper" ones to work with Husband tomorrow and keep these delicious crunchy ones just for me and a nice tall glass of milk.