Lay off me, I'm starving!

I'm sorry to add another food blog to the world. But I've been pretty bored lately, and this is kind of fun.
Mon Sep 16
Grain salads are my new favorite thing. Inspired by Mark Bittman’s Vegan Before 6 plan (which I don’t intend to follow—peep the feta in the salad above), I am trying to compose these things for a healthy, hearty lunch most days.
Quinoa and couscous are my favorite bases, though I should start thinking more about experimenting with brown rice, barley, and bulgar wheat. Canned chickpeas and cooked green lentils are my go-to bean components, though I suppose I would enjoy black beans in some sort of Mexican inspired grain salad.
Summer fruit is really the key to making these great with the sweet and savory business going on. Peaches and figs are the absolute best, but I suppose I can make due with dried fruit, apples, and/or pears once the fall comes around.
Let’s hope I don’t get sick of these too soon and that I have the ability to switch it up enough to make grain salads something I can eat most days of the week at work.

Grain salads are my new favorite thing. Inspired by Mark Bittman’s Vegan Before 6 plan (which I don’t intend to follow—peep the feta in the salad above), I am trying to compose these things for a healthy, hearty lunch most days.

Quinoa and couscous are my favorite bases, though I should start thinking more about experimenting with brown rice, barley, and bulgar wheat. Canned chickpeas and cooked green lentils are my go-to bean components, though I suppose I would enjoy black beans in some sort of Mexican inspired grain salad.

Summer fruit is really the key to making these great with the sweet and savory business going on. Peaches and figs are the absolute best, but I suppose I can make due with dried fruit, apples, and/or pears once the fall comes around.

Let’s hope I don’t get sick of these too soon and that I have the ability to switch it up enough to make grain salads something I can eat most days of the week at work.

Wed Apr 10

Kumquat Kalamata Chicken

Kumquat Kalamata Chicken

My mother-in-law brought some kumquats out east from California. I’m not big on eating them raw, but I remembered that they are great in savory dishes. I recreated one of my favorite dishes that I somehow never make anymore using kumquats instead of dried dates and apricots.

I browned cornish game hens seasoned heavily with salt, pepper, cinnamon, paprika, and cardamom, deglazed with chicken stock, and braised with the kumquats.

When the chicken was cooked, I removed it, and let the sauce reduce after adding some kalamata olives.

We had great results. The kumquats add a great floral flavor in addition to the bittersweetness. 

The baby in my belly says thank you for the kumquats, Grandma Audrey!

Tue Jun 26

Sour Cherry Almond Tart a la Suzanne Goin

I had a whole bunch of sour cherries and a guest coming over for dinner. I was going to make a crisp because, as I’ve said before, they are “mad easy” to make. But since I had some time on my hands, I looked into the old Sunday Suppers at Lucques and found something a little more special to make.

I like this recipe because you don’t have to worry too much about the dough-just make sure it comes together and then use your fingers to make sure it gets into the pan. Also, I got to make a local cherry pie filling which is very similar to, and obviously better tasting than, the traditional cherry pie filling.

The recipe calls for bing cherries, but it is sour cherry season, so I went in that direction.

Enjoy!

Roman Cherry tart with Almond Crust (from Sunday Suppers at Lucques)
Heaping 1/2 cup raw almonds
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup plus 5 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp kosher salt
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 tsp pure almond extract
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 vanilla bean
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 1/4 lbs Bing cherries, pitted
2 tbsp grappa or brandy

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Toast the almonds on a baking sheet about 10 minutes, until they darken slightly and smell nutty. When the nuts have cooled, place them in a food processor with the sugar and pulse to a coarse meal. Add the flour and salt and pulse again to combine. Transfer to a mixing bowl, and pour in the melted butter, almond and vanilla extracts, and 1 tbsp ice-cold water. Using a wooden spoon, mi until just combined, adding more ice-cold water if necessary to help bring the dough together (I used 2 tbsp of ice-cold water).

Use your fingers to press the dough into a buttered 9-inch fluted tart pan, pressing the sides first and then the bottom, to form an even crust. Chill at least an hour, or preferably overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prick the bottom of the tart shell with a fork, and line it with a piece of parchment paper. Fill the lined tart shell with beans or pie weights, and bake 20 minutes, until it begins to brown lightly around the edges. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. Once it cools, life the paper and beans out of the tart.

Meanwhile, split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and, using a pairing knife, scrape the seeds and pulp into a medium saucepan. Add the vanilla pod, sugar, and 1/4 cup water. Over medium heat, cook the mixture, without stirring, until it’s caramelized to an amber color. Once it begins to brown, you can swirl the pot a little to get the caramel to color evenly.

While the sugar is caramelizing, stir 1 tbsp water into the cornstarch (this is called a “slurry” and will help thicken the fruit juices).

When the sugar is an amber brown, add the cherries, and swirl the pan again. Add the grappa, turn the flame down, and let the cherries simmer a few minutes, until they have softened. (The caramel will seize up and harden at first; don’t worry, it will remelt.) Strain the cherries over a bowl, return the liquid to the pot, and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Whisk the cornstarch slurry into the liquid and bring it back to a boil once again, stirring often. Cook a few more minutes, until thickened. Transfer the cherries to the bowl, pour the liquid over them, and stir to combine. Let cool completely.

Fill the shell with the sweet cherry compote to just below the level of the rim. Return the tart to the oven and bake 1 hour, until the cherries darken to a deep ruby red. Let the tart cool 15 minutes before cutting.

Sun Jun 17
Behold: Roasted pork chop with a cherry sauce!
I browned the pork chops seasoned with cinnamon and ground ginger in a pan with some garlic. After the the chops brown, I added some pitted cherries and threw the pan in the oven at 400 for about 12 minutes.
When the pork was done, I removed them from the pan and deglazed with orange liquor and red wine. Once the sauce was properly reduced, I added some butter and honey.
To refine it, I could have blended and trained the sauce, but who’s going to do that on a Sunday night when no one else is eating with you? Not I, said the fly.

Behold: Roasted pork chop with a cherry sauce!

I browned the pork chops seasoned with cinnamon and ground ginger in a pan with some garlic. After the the chops brown, I added some pitted cherries and threw the pan in the oven at 400 for about 12 minutes.

When the pork was done, I removed them from the pan and deglazed with orange liquor and red wine. Once the sauce was properly reduced, I added some butter and honey.

To refine it, I could have blended and trained the sauce, but who’s going to do that on a Sunday night when no one else is eating with you? Not I, said the fly.

Mon Apr 9

When Life Gives You Leftovers, Make Crepes!

After a week in Peru, we were excited for some good old home cooking. Yesterday I went to the farmer’s market and got a bunch of stuff to make a roast chicken with sweet potatoes and salad. We had a some left overs, so tonight I mixed them all up, sauteed them with some more leeks and green onions, and added a bit of cream and parmesan. I served them in a crepe that had minced sage and lavender in the batter.

And guess what? It was so flippin’ easy.

To make savory crepes, you need:

1 cup flour

pinch salt

1 1/4 cups milk

2 eggs

2 tbs oil or cooled melted butter

Optional: 2 tbs herbs (they’ll mince in the blender)

Blend together the milk, salt, and flour (my Vitamix came into good use!). Then blend in the eggs and the herbs if you’re using them. It’s best to let it sit in the fridge for a while to allow the batter to relax, but if you’re in a hurry, it’s not the end of the world to skip that step.

Heat a non-stick pan and add a bit of butter. When the butter is bubbling, pour in enough batter to coat the bottom of the pan. When the edges are all bubbly and look kind of done, flip the crepe using a spatula, or, if you’d like to try it, hold the pan handle with both hands. Slide the crepe to the lip of the far side of the pan, and then quickly “flip” it with the pan, being sure to catch it. For my first crepe tonight, it didn’t land 100% correctly, and was folded over a bit at the top. My second crepe, however, was flipped perfectly , and I was mad proud of myself.

So, yeah, another easy way to make your leftovers interesting.

To add some greens to the meal, I served the crepes with a beet salad.

Sat Mar 24

Chocolate Popcorn

For our wedding, a family friend gave us a popcorn set to make some of the homemade popcorn they enjoyed when they were first married.

Las tnight, I made her favorite kind—the Hershey’s kiss popcorn. To pop the popcorn, place 3 tbs of popcorn oil in a pot with a heavy bottom along with 1/2 cup of popcorn (this made like 4 cups popcorn). Cover the pot and turn on the heat to medium high. Once the pops become less frequent, take the popcorn off the heat. 

Now you’re free to add your seasonings. Here I added 1 cup of Hershey’s kisses and a few shakes of kosher salt. Seeing how easy this is to do, I’ll probably start experimenting with more seasonings in the near future.

Wrap It In Prosciutto

To make something more delicious, wrap it in prosciutto. Seen here, roasted prosciutto-wrapped rockfish with white asparagus and truffle parmesan potatoes.

I wouldn’t have had so much white on the plate, but that’s what you get when your husband takes over the grocery shopping.