Category Archives: fall

Honey preserved lemons…

Over Thanksgiving we made a little road trip to see some family for some good eats and company over the holiday.  It is pretty amazing what one can grow and keep in Southern California. Pumpkins, zucchini, varieties of squash, herbs, lettuce, kale, orchards of lime and lemon trees, and soon to be persimmon trees, avocado trees, oh…and a handful of chickens, some playful cats, and the ever fetching pup. Their citrus trees were so heavy with fruit, the branches were literally breaking, so they spoiled us and sent us home with a trunk full of lemons and limes.  Now what to do with a mountain of citrus other than give some away and freeze the juices? Well, this little darling of a recipe is proving to come in more and more handy as we creep closer to winter.  A snotty nose here, cough there, sneezing here, fevers and chills there.  All of these little bugs are making the rounds and making us want to curl up on our couches with a hot cup of tea and a blanket.  These lemons are amazing in tea, minced in yogurt, on toast with herbed goat cheese, as a preserve in breads. I’m sure preserving tangerines, clementines, or oranges..oooh or blood oranges…would prove equally delectable and delightful. Raw honey has some amazing antimicrobial properties to it created by an enzyme left by our friends the bees, so the lemons will keep refrigerated for up to 3 months…if they hang around that long.  Also, let me know if you turn this into an adult libation, warm scotch or bourbon anyone?

Honey preserved lemons…

6-8 Meyer lemons, cut horizontally into rings (any variety will do, but I like the floral essence of Meyers)

1 cup raw honey

½ cup organic cane sugar

6-8 whole cloves

a cinnamon stick, just for fun

water

*You will also need sterilized jars any size.

 

In a medium saucepan, bring 1 cup of water, honey, sugar, and cloves to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and slowly add the lemons. Simmer for about 10 minutes.   Remove from heat and let steep covered, for 8 hours. Re-heat mixture to a low simmer, then slowly transfer to your jars.  Let cool to room temperature, then seal and refrigerate for a week before using. 

Eat together, toast to each other, and share!

Advertisements

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!


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…


dukkha on a perfectly boiled egg…

 

 

Dukkha (or duqqa) is an Egyptian spice and nut blend that probably has as many recipes as there are chefs, home cooks, and street vendors in Egypt. I first had this lovely dance of flavors during a brunch with an old friend at her home in Santa Monica. We sat outside on the grass dipping bread into olive oil into dukkha; noshing and getting lost in our history and memories. Since then it has quickly become the star of my pantry. The major players in this blend tend to be hazelnuts, sesame seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, salt, and pepper. But one can add dry herbs, different nuts, dried chickpeas, and on and on. Dukkha adds a beautiful twist to just about anything. With bread dipped in olive oil, to season roasted vegetables, on pasta with some Russian rye bread crumbs and lemon zest. It is earthy, spicy, with a hint of floral undertones all at the same time. My favorite cameo for this fabulous blend has been as a simple sprinkle on top of a perfectly boiled egg. But, be careful getting lost with a friend over brunch, you might smile so much your face hurts.

dukkha…

1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/3 cup black sesame seeds
2 tbs coriander seeds
2 tbs fennel seeds
1 tbs cumin seeds
2 tsp sea salt (I had a grey variety on hand, and it was lovely)
2 tsp cracked pepper

1 egg per person, boiled.

Toast nuts. Set aside. Toast coriander, fennel, and cumin seeds. Combine nuts and toasted seeds in a food processor until a coarse meal. Transfer to a bowl. Add sesame seeds (if using white sesame seeds, toast those as well), salt, and pepper. This recipe makes enough to store for a while. I keep mine in a recycled jam jar. You can freeze the mixture as well. Just remember that nuts can spoil.

 

Fill a pot with water. Add eggs. Turn on flame/stove top, bring eggs and water to a boil together. Once boiling, turn off the burner and let eggs sit for about 5-7 minutes. Then, with a very sharp knife, cut eggs (shell and all) in half.

Serve sprinkled with dukkha and eat with a spoon right out of the eggshell.

Eat together, toast to each other, and share!


Rosemary Tuscan bread…

It is the first day of autumn today, but you would not know it just by looking out my window.  The lazy palms are dancing in a gentle breeze with a perfectly blue sky as a backdrop.  However, there is a subtle change in the morning and afternoon, the marine layer hangs around a little longer, keeping everything damp and cool.  Although the word “crisp” is a stretch in describing the weather, there are the feelings of the beginning of a seasonal change.  I have been playing around with a number of soups lately as the evening fog draws me into a cooler space in my mind.  Tortilla soup, Tuscan cabbage soup, creamy tomato soup, spicy pepper soup, all asking for some good bread for dunking.  I went with a traditional Tuscan round, no salt, but I warmed it up a little with some rosemary and cracked pepper.  This bread also makes for a perfect breakfast with a little olive oil and a pinch of kosher salt.  You can also slice and toast this bread, rub with a little garlic, and serve with your soup of choice.  This recipe makes two little loaves, perfect for freezing…or sharing with your neighbor.

Rosemary Tuscan rounds…

3 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1 1/4 cup warm water

1 tbs active dry yeast

2 heaping tbs fresh rosemary, minced

cracked pepper

pinch of sugar

Dissolve yeast and a pinch of sugar in warm water for  about 10 minutes.  Stir together rosemary, cracked pepper, and flour.  Now, I just used a bowl and a wooden spoon for this bread, no need to dirty a mixer.  Mix together yeast mixture and 1 cup of flour mixture, then slowly mix in the rest of the flour, little by little. Dough will be stiff. Kneed the dough for about 5 minutes.  Cover on a lightly floured surface or bowl and let double in size, about 2 hours.  Then punch down the bread, cut dough in half, and shape into loaves.  Let double in size again on a floured sheet pan, about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake until crust is golden, about 30 minutes.

Eat together, toast to each other, and share!


No bake peanut butter oat treats…

Some times I like to have a sweet treat with my morning coffee, especially on cold, grey days like today when you feel like life needs a little extra pizzazz. Something about the combination of sweet indulgence with a piping hot French roast, feels so satisfying.  The other part of me, however, believes in breakfast. It is by far my favorite meal of the day, and it should be substantial and nourishing. Well, I discovered a recipe that, although not originally intended for breakfast, can be adapted as such.  These no bake, tasty treats are packed full of protein and fiber, make you feel satiated while at the same time naughty for eating what feels like cookies for breakfast. I imagine that all you parents out there would also feel guiltless about giving these to your children in multiples, as they are pure, wholesome, goodness.  I am extra fond of this recipe because it evokes memories of a snowy afternoon…in the Colorado mountains…with family.

No bake peanut butter oat treats…

Adapted from Martha Stewart

1 cup organic crunchy peanut butter

1 cup organic rolled oats

½ cup dried cherries

2-3 tbs honey

2 tsp orange zest

1 tbs sesame seeds

**This recipe is extremely adaptable, and can be made from anything you have in your pantry.  You can exchange peanut butter for any other nut butter, dried cherries with any other dried fruit, sesame seeds with flax seeds…what have you***

In a small heavy pot, heat peanut butter, honey, and orange zest. Mix well.  Once nicely softened and well combined, add oats, cherries, and sesame seeds. Mix until evenly combined.  Roll in to tablespoon sized balls and let stand for 20 minutes. Voilà!


Eat together, toast to each other, and share!


quinoa salad with green goddess dressing…

Simple and satisfying.  I believe that quinoa just happens to be mother nature’s perfect creation; the Inca had cultivated this seed and referred to it as “chisaya mama” or “the mother of all grains”.   Quinoa is a seed but is also a complete protein, hearty with a nutty essence, wholesome but exotic. This salad balances the light texture of the quinoa with the crunch of the snap peas and pop of the pepitas.  The pickled carrots are inspired by a lovely family dinner we had in Utah…some how they just kept appearing and reappearing on my plate…and I ate every last one of them. And nothing says earthy goodness like a good goddess dressing. If you want to save on time and rather not make a dressing, Annie’s goddess dressing is delightful with this salad.

quinoa salad with green goddess dressing…

salad:

1 ½ cup Inca red quinoa

3 cups water/or broth (if not serving with dressing)

1 cup sugar snap peas, thinly cut on bias

½  cup opal basil (regular basil works just fine)

½ cup green onion, thinly sliced

¼ cup pepitas, toasted

½ cup dried cherries

pickled carrots:

2 small carrots, cut into matchsticks

½ cup distilled white vinegar

1 tsp kosher salt

¼ cup sugar

dressing:

1 avocado

2 heaping tbs tahini

¼ cup plain yogurt or sour cream

1 clove garlic, minced

1-2 tbs freshly chopped parsley

juice of ½ lemon (plus more for finishing if needed)

2 tbs apple cider vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

For pickling liquid, mix together vinegar, salt, and sugar, stir until salt and sugar are completely dissolved. Marinate carrots in pickling liquid for at least ½ hour. For dressing, put all ingredients into blender and keep adding more lemon juice and/or cider vinegar until you create a nice thick liquid. Add salt and pepper last to taste. Prepare quinoa per package directions.  Or, if you bought in bulk, the ration is usually 2:1 water/broth to quinoa. Let cool.  Rinse and prep vegetables.  Mix in peas, basil, green onion, and cherries.  Top with toasted pepitas and pickled carrots.  Serve with a dollop of dressing.

Eat together, toast to each other, and share!


Mushroom and sage risotto with Asiago cheese…

We woke up this morning to the sound of ice pelting our windows, and the rooftops and grass covered in white. Under normal circumstances I would have wanted to stay in bed all day. Just thinking about snow makes me cold, and my thin Californian blood has not thickened in the 8 or so years that I have lived in Connecticut.  However, I found this cold sleet rather inspiring and cozy in our little home this morning.  This is the time of year I go nuts for baking, so I bought myself a magazine with endless holiday cookie recipes…so keep your eyes open my friends for care packages…’tis the season.  I also wanted something rich, warm, and comforting for dinner.  Something you can curl up and eat under a blanket, but still elegant and makes you think of the crisp change in season. Julia Child said, “You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients”. That is precisely what this dish is, simple and flavorful; texturally and aromatically fall.  Risotto is also one of those dishes that takes patience and forces attention to texture and smell. It is one of my favorite dishes to cook…but maybe it is just a little out there to find stirring rice over a warm flame comforting, with the smell of wafting sage.

Mushroom and sage risotto with Asiago cheese…

10-12 crimini mushrooms, washed and sliced

1 medium shallot, minced

2 small cloves garlic, minced

1 ½ tbs fresh sage, minced

1 tsp dried rubbed sage

¼ cup shredded Asiago cheese

2 cups Arborio rice

6-8 cups vegetable broth/bullion

2 tbs olive oil

2 tbs unsalted butter

salt and pepper

Prep the mushrooms. Heat broth/bullion in a medium saucepan, set aside and keep on a low simmer.  In a separate large saucepan, heat olive oil and butter. Add shallots and garlic, cook over medium heat until translucent.  Add mushrooms and fresh sage, cook until tender. Then add rice.  Completely coat the rice with butter/oil mixture, and stir regularly until rice is lightly toasted.  Then begin to add vegetable broth one ladle full at a time. Stirring regularly in between until fully absorbed by the rice. You may not use all the broth.  Keep stirring and adding broth until rice is tender and creamy.  Stir in dried sage, Asiago cheese, salt, and pepper to taste.

Eat together, toast to each other, and share!

 


Root salad with goat cheese…

Sadly in Connecticut, the farmer’s markets all close down around the end of October.  Urban Oaks, however is a CSA that can actually be visited the entire year round.  The farm is right in the middle of a pretty rough area of town. Right past the projects there are acres of greenhouses filled with cold weather goodies. They had everything I needed for this salad, and a hot cup of coffee and a fresh sage cornbread muffin as well.

This salad is elegant and simple.  I served it with a creamy mushroom and sage risotto, but it is hearty enough to stand on its own as a main dish.  I served it warm, and I think that added to what this dish was intended to convey; wholesome, hearty, harvest, for a rainy fall dinner.

I used a mild goat cheese, but feta would be lovely too. Or, if you are not a fan of goat cheese in general, some thick Parmesan flakes would work nicely.

Root salad with goat cheese…

2 red beets

2 golden beets

1 bunch baby organic carrots

1 small garlic clove, minced

goat cheese

olive oil

2 tsp Herbes de Provence

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. To prep vegetables, scrub carrots (no need to peel if they are new carrots, the skin is so tender), and twist off tops, leaving a little green for presentation. Scrub beets and twist off tops.  After beets are clean, rub with olive oil, salt, pepper, and Herbes de Provence. Wrap in tin foil.  Make sure to wrap red and golden beets separately so the colors do not bleed. Place beets in the oven, and roast for 20-30 minutes, until a firm fork tender.  Remove and let cool.  While beets are roasting, in a medium pan, heat 1 tbs olive oil and then add carrots, garlic, salt, pepper, and Herbes de Provence.  Cook carrots until firm fork tender. Once beets are cool, peel, and slice into 1/4 inch thick coins.

Stack salad, top with a generous amount of goat cheese, a little finishing oil, salt and pepper.

Cook together, toast to each other, and share!