Monthly Archives: November 2011

Roasted root vegetable pot pies…

Sometimes I have this fantasy that I live on real working farm.   I feel like I should be able to go outside and pick my herbs, churn my butter, gather eggs from my chickens, and march down to my root cellar and gather a couple of potatoes all in the name of dinner.  I have never understood what there is not to love about cooking and preparing with your hands.  This is the message that was passed down to me anyway from my grandmother to my mother, from my mother to me, and hopefully I will manage to pass this message on to my daughter. The stories about the women in my family have been slow waltzing around in my mind, and most of my memories lead back to this central theme: in cooking, less is more and it is all in the wrist.  When I fully understand all the choreography and meaning of the stories about these women, hopefully I will be able to share.  What I imagine is a story about Europe, family, connection, and food. None of us lived on farms, but all of us boast a do-it-yourself attitude about food…and life in general…my 15 month old included.

This recipe requires a little care and elbow grease. I have made the crust with a food processor, but I have to say, I missed the large streaks of marbled butter in the dough. Whatever you choose, in the end you will feel the comfort and satisfaction of the two pieces of art cooling on your counter top as you dust the flour off your hands and apron.

 

Roasted root vegetable pot pies…

(makes 2)

filling:

1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed

1 bunch mini carrots, peeled and cubed

1 turnip, peeled and cubed

8-10 cremini mushrooms, quartered

1 ½ cups frozen peas

thyme

salt and pepper

olive oil

béchamel sauce (recipe follows)

one pie crust  per serving(recipe follows)

pie crust:

1 cup flour

½ cup (1stick) unsalted butter

1 tsp kosher salt

ice water

1 egg, for wash

béchamel sauce:

½ yellow onion

3 tbs unsalted butter

3 tbs flour

1 ½ cups milk

kosher salt

pinch of nutmeg

Prepare pie crust by mixing together flour and salt. Then cut butter into the flour either by hand or food processor until fully incorporated. Make sure butter is cold.  Then, slowly add ice water 1 tbs at a time, until mixture forms a ball.  Shape, cover, and put in the refrigerator to chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While the crust is chilling, peel and cube the root vegetables, cover with olive oil, thyme, salt, and pepper and place in oven. Roast until tender, about 15-20 minutes, tossing often.  In a saucepan over medium heat, sauté mushrooms in 2-3 tbs of olive oil, salt and pepper until just tender. Then, in a bowl, combine root vegetables, mushrooms, and peas.  Salt and pepper to taste. Add a pinch more of thyme. Set aside.

To make the béchamel sauce, begin by sautéing onions on low heat in butter until tender and translucent.  Then incorporate flour making a roux.  Slowly add milk little by little, whisking. Let simmer on low heat, whisking frequently. The sauce will begin to thicken.  Add salt to taste. Add a pinch of nutmeg.

To assemble, pour béchamel over the vegetable mixture and combine evenly.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Then pour into large ramekins or other serving dishes that are oven safe.  Roll out crusts on a floured surface to ¼ inch thick.  Place over the dishes and secure to the sides by crimping.  Cut a hole in the crust for venting.  For the egg wash beat egg and add a dash of water.  Brush wash over the assembled pies.  Then sprinkle tops with kosher salt.

Bake at 350 degrees until crust is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Eat together, toast to each other, and share! 


homemade vanilla yogurt…

I have been having a love affair with foodcrafting.  I have been romanced by the succulence of a homemade broth, the deep warmth of a homemade vanilla extract, and enamored by spice blends, salt rubs, preserves, mustards, and breads.  Today I spent the day learning how to make kefir and yogurt from a neighbor and friend. Our two blonde babies ran around the house like happy little heathens, while she told me this story about yogurt. My friend learned how to make yogurt from an Afgani woman, and she said, “her approach was to treat making yogurt as more of an art than a science”, “the process is awfully forgiving, so just do away with the thermometer and watch and feel the milk”.  So, I watched, I felt, and I listened.  I was so relieved to find that making yogurt was so approachable. Most store bought yogurt has an out of control laundry list of ingredients that seem so silly, when all you need is some milk and cultures.   I made this yogurt from whole organic milk from grass fed cows, and added a touch of vanilla just for funzies.  The little flecks of vanilla bean make me happy.  Oh, the little things.

Homemade vanilla yogurt…

1 quart organic milk

1 vanilla bean

store bought cultures or 2-3 heaping tbs of left over yogurt with live active cultures

*These quantities are just guidelines and are really flexible. I just let my container determine the amount of milk.

Measure out desired amount of milk.  Place in a large pot over medium-low heat.  Place cultures/yogurt in the container that you wish to use.

I will let my friend talk you through the rest of the process:

“Watch the milk closely until it starts to bubble, just shy of a simmer, you can see the bubbles rising up off the bottom of the pot slowly. Don’t leave the kitchen during this time, milk scalds so quickly…and I have searched and searched and there is really no way to reuse scalded, burned milk. Then take it off the heat to cool.   I usually let it cool until I can touch my hand on the outside of the pot comfortably and leave it there without it burning”. 

Then, once the milk has cooled, add a couple tbs to your cultures/yogurt to temper them, then add the rest of the milk and stir.  She says, “just remember the cultures are a living organism, so we try and treat them as such by not shocking them with hot milk”.

 “I just use recycled (but sterilized) jars…anything with a lid.  Also, be mindful of where you put your spoon, you don’t want to cross contaminate your bacteria. Wrap your jar in a towel and put in a warm place to incubate for about 8-12 hours depending on the quantity of yogurt and how warm it is in your home”. 

Putting the mixture in the refrigerator will stop the incubation. 

 

*I added a vanilla bean, split in half with the seeds scraped out into the milk during the heating phase for a little vanilla essence. Then once the milk cooled, I removed the bean and poured the milk into my container through a sieve.  

Eat together, toast to each other, and share!


LoveNotes…

These make me want to get married all over again. I can’t stop swooning over this and this.

Yes, I still swoon over my husband…daily.

This color palette:

There is an art to making a mix tape, and boy do I remember those magenta and blue Memorex tapes.

On the agenda next week.

BiBa and the Swede

This cup of coffee:

I want to carry my book in this.

Return home safely, my daily mantra can be worn around my neck

photostrips

This sunset:

It is only Rock n’ Roll but I like it

Now this…is pretty amazing

Sweet peas make me smile…especially hanging in my kitchen


Persimmon marmalade bread…

Persimmon. Persimmon. Persimmon.  The more you say the word persimmon, the prettier it gets.  In thinking about writing this post, the word has streamed through my conscience so steadily for the past few days that I briefly considered naming a child persimmon.  But rest assured Apple, no fruit for us.  The fruit is rather like its name, the more you use, and get used to its subtleties, the more attractive and versatile the flavor becomes. They are quite the fickle fruit (now I will be saying that all day today), from bitter and mealy to soft and slimy in seemingly hours.  That magical transition point in between, harvests a sweet, rich, and quintessential fall flavor.

I had a staring contest with these little fruit, until they blushed the most beautiful sunburst orange.   The minute I turned away they became so soft they slipped straight out of their skins, perfect for bread.  They essentially determined their own destiny.  Slather this bread with butter and you will not regret a single bite.

Persimmon marmalade bread…

(makes 2 loaves…for sharing!)

 3 cups flour

1 ½ tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

kiss of cinnamon

 1 cup organic cane sugar

1 cup marmelade

1 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

3-4 Hachiya persimmons

*1 cup dried cherries, optional

 

Preheat oven to 350.  Oil and flour 2 standard size loaf pans.  Combine dry ingredients, except sugar.  Remove persimmon flesh from skin and stems. Combine wet ingredients with sugar and add zest and persimmon flesh.  Then, little by little incorporate the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 50-60 minutes.

Eat together, toast to each other, share!

Had to include this photo, I love the colors…