Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Quicky for T'day

Hosting Thanksgiving is one of my duties as a mom and wife in this family. We have the big house, we're centrally located, I cook... so it's my gig. I enjoy it... once I have it under control. I used to make lists for weeks, now I stay calm, keep it simple and delegate!

One of my favorite crowd pleasers is Cranberry Salsa. The first year I did this the family thought i was crazy. They had never heard of such a thing and we're from California! Ten years later, they ask for it. In fact my sister in Virginia asked for the recipe today. The best recipe I've found for cran-salsa is made in the blender, which also makes it the easist!

Break out the tortilla chips and let the party begin!

Cranberry Salsa

1 package cranberries
juice of 2 limes
1 garlic clove
2/3 cup sugar
½ cup cilantro
2 jalapenos, diced and seeded
4 green onions

Put all ingredients in blender or food processor. Pulse to desired consistency.
Let stand in refrigerator for a few hours. The salsa will get spicier as it sits.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Meatloaf to the Stars

One of the best leftovers for making sandwiches is meatloaf. The flavors only get better the next day! My favorite meatloaf recipe is from 72 Market Street. It is not your average meatloaf. Sausage and beef, tender fresh vegetables, and loads of seasonings make it a moist and flavorful dish. Once a celebrity owned restaurant in Venice, CA, 72 Market Street closed its doors in 2000. The meatloaf lives on!

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup scallions, finely chopped
1/2 cup carrots, finely chopped
1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
1/4 cup red bell pepper, minced
1/4 cup green bell pepper, minced
2 teaspoons of minced garlic
1-2 teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 eggs, well beaten
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup half-and-half
2 pounds lean ground beef chuck
12 ounces sausage meat (not Italian sausage)
3/4 cup fine fresh bread crumbs, toasted

Melt the butter in a heavy skillet, and add the onion, scallions, carrots, celery, bell peppers, and garlic. Cook until the moisture from the vegetables has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool; then refrigerate, covered, until chilled, about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine the salt, black pepper, white pepper, cayenne, cumin, nutmeg, and eggs in a mixing bowl, and beat well. Add the ketchup and half-and-half. Blend thoroughly. Add the ground beef, sausage, and bread crumbs to the egg mixture. Then add the chilled vegetables and mix thoroughly with your hands, kneading for 5 minutes. With damp hands to keep the mixture from sticking, gently press into one large or two small loaf pans. Put loaf pans in one large baking pan. Pour boiling water into the larger pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the loaf pans. Place the loaf pans in their water bath into the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the loaf pans from the water bath, and let the meat loaf rest for 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

What's In The Box?

Filling a lunch box with healthy, hearty and wholesome foods is a task that requires persistent energy, creative solutions, and careful planning. Or does it?
Packing a lunch to take to the office is quite easy. It’s simple to make a quick sandwich, salad or wrap with what’s on hand. Adding a piece of fruit or yogurt to a container of a favorite leftover meal is a thrifty habit. Including a special sweet gives the meal a little sparkle and becomes something to look forward to while working.
However, when one is packing a school lunch, things can get complicated. A successful lunch is one that gets eaten. Many a school lunches are thrown away each day, and the time and love spent packing them goes to waste. Involving the child in the process of making the lunch helps to ensure it’s edibility. Don’t complicate things by packing new foods or too many items into your children’s lunch box. For most kids, the golden rule is “Keep It Simple” - a sandwich, a fruit or vegetable, a healthy snack item and water or milk (no juice, no soda!). That’s it, nothing more.
Make a sandwich your child enjoys. Don’t make it too fancy. Giving your child a few basic choices each day will help simplify things. Turkey or Ham? PB&THKJ or Tuna? Egg Salad or Avocado, Sprouts and Tomato?
Pack a fruit or vegetable you know will be eaten and that travels well. Bananas, citrus and apples are fine whole. Berries, stone fruits, and grapes do well when portioned into reusable containers. Vegetables may be more appealing if packed with a favorite dipping sauce or sprinkled with a bit of seasoned rice vinegar.
Including a third item balances out the meal. A container of yogurt, a cheese stick, some crackers, a few almonds or walnuts, a piece of beef jerky, a hard boiled egg, fruit leather, a handful of savory Farmer’s Market kettle corn, or a rice cake are all fun choices.
Save the sweets for after school. Not including the tempting dessert makes healthy eating the only choice. Saving the sweet reward for the afterschool homework hour, creates a wholesome habit the whole family can enjoy!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

It's Come To This

I've been using email consistently since the 1980's. I was working at an Internet research institute when the World Wide Web (which is what those three little w's stand for kiddies!) was first created. Before the first Internet browser was created I was logging into Usenet groups to swap recipes and download free cookbooks. So, let's just say, I'm a bit tech savvy.

Two years ago I created this blog so that I'd have a creative outlet for my food writing. Last year I discovered Facebook and found it to be a fun and easy way to keep in touch with many friends. Last month I created a twitter account and have thoroughly enjoyed tweeting daily about my culinary life. But now I find that my writing time has diminished. I'm working at the Farmer's Market on Sunday's. I'm taking care of my kids, husband and our life during the rest of the week. I'm tweeting, facebooking, blogging... and I believe the blog gets the short end of things. It's much easier to tweet and update your status than it is to write a decent article.

So, it's come to this, I'm recycling writing I've been doing for The Heritage Kitchen, and posting it here on my blog. The following recipe comes from our August newsletter. We've been publishing a monthly one-pager since February which contains a feature article, product highlight, Back To The Future rant and a seasonal recipe. Stop by our booth on Sundays,at the Pacific Palisades Farmer's Market between the hours of 8am - 1pm and you can pick up a copy. Sample some cheese while you are there!


Market Fresh Black-Eyed Pea Salad

Fresh black-eyed peas are an August special at the Farmer’s market. Cooked for four hours on high in a slow cooker, they become a hearty ingredient ready to use in soups, salads, or with rice for a nutritious meal.

1 lb cooked—fresh black eyed peas
4 ears fresh corn
3 small zucchini diced
3 small yellow squash diced
6 Roma tomatoes, cored, diced
8 green onions, sliced
1/4 Cup Sherry vinegar
1/2 Cup Plain yogurt
1/2 Cup Extra-virgin Olive Oil
1 bunch Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add two tablespoons of salt to the water. Shuck the ears of corn and put in the pot to cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove cobs from the water, drain and let cool. Cut the corn from the cobs and place in a large bowl. Add the zucchini, squash, tomatoes, green onions and cooled black eyed peas.
Pour the vinegar into a medium bowl and whisk in the yogurt, and a little salt and pepper. Continue to whisk as you slowly pour in the olive oil creating an emulsion. Taste the dressing for salt and pepper, adding more to taste. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and combine gently. Sprinkle the parsley over the top.

Serves 8 as a main, 12 as a side dish.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Figaro and Hooligan

Here they are, today's cheese selections...

Figaro from Andante Dairy in Petaluma, CA. This cheese comes from a
small batch artisan, Soyoung Scanlan who is famous for the care she
gives to her craft. Figaro is a very seasonal cow and goat cheese
wrapped in wine soaked fig leaves. Lovely fruit notes on a creamy
spraedable texture.

Hooligan is a cow milk cheese with a buttermilk washed rind from Cato
Corner Farms in Connecticut. Stinky on the nose, very rich creamy
center with a mild flavor.

Loved them both. Bruce says they went well together. Thank you Edythe
for sharing!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Pastie Report

The pasties were a big hit. The dough was nice and light even with the whole wheat flour. The beef and pork filling turned out amazingly tender. I used Clyde Hooper's recipe with the following substitutions:

  • I used butter instead of beef suet

  • Took out the turnips, used carrots

  • 2 Cups whole wheat flour were substituted for 2 C of the All Purpose flour

  • 2 Tablespoons of Worchestershire sauce was added to the stuffing

I made a Chimmichurri type sauce using Italian parsley, cilantro, a serrano chile, a jalapeno chile, red wine vinegar, olive oil salt and pepper. I purreed it in a food processor until smooth and bright green.

It had a nice kick and really added a nice acidic balance to the basic meat and potato filling.

The Hooper kids tell me that Clyde would have paired his with Malt Vinegar and Catsup. Yum!

Here's a pic of the one I sampled.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Bruce making the pasties in honor of Clyde Hooper

Just like in the UP 'eh...

We used beef and pork with potatoes, carrots and onions. We made the
dough using half whole wheat and half AP.

I will post pics once they come out of the oven an we have a taste.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Fabulous Pie!

In the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains of Northern California, six miles down a county road which leads only to a trail head, lies a tiny rustic lunch counter called Pie in the Sky Café at the Rock Creek Lakes Resort ( We were camping near the resort this week and stopped in for a burger and pie lunch. This place is famous for their homemade pies. Even in the winter people hike or snowshoe in to get a piece. Approximately ten different pies are available each day, sold by the slice. The pies sell out every day, one flavor after another getting crossed out on the white board at the lunch counter. By the time we arrived Fresh Peach was already gone. We decided on one slice of Boysenberry and one slice of Lemon Crème. They were awesome! We loved the contrast between the fruity bright boysenberry with its delicate top crust and the light lemon fililng with whipped cream topping of the other. Great lunch, excellent pie!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mother of a Gift

I went on a foodie adventure with Edythe and my kids today. We scoured an estate sale for kitchen kitsch, dug through the garden for any bits to harvest, and best of all, she gave us a mother! Edythe has been feeding her mother of vinegar for a few years. She generously gave me a few nice pieces to take home. I fed her the remains of a bottle of red wine which was left on the counter over our vacation. The mother seems happy in her new home, a large Ball jar with a paper towel lid allowing air in. I'm looking forward to the amazing vinegar she'll help me produce with the dribs and drabs of left over wine from our kitchen. I'm also hoping I can collect a white wine mother as well. I love vinegar! So much fun to be able to make my own good quality supply!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Best Green Olives - EVER!

Recently a good friend came over for a visit. We sat and enjoyed a glass of wine and, of course, some cheese. I had purchased some beautiful green olives at Whole Foods that day. The olives were huge, bright green and crisp like fruit in texture. My friend claimed that these olives were the best tasting olive she'd ever had. I was at Whole Foods this morning and saw them at the Olive Bar, I couldn't resist sharing them with everyone.


Sunday, June 7, 2009

My Favorite $20

The Rose guy has returned to the Farmer's Market. Each year he brings these absolutely gorgeous roses in large bouquets. He arrives in May, just in time for Mother's Day. The crowds have thinned out at his booth since last month...and I was able to get a bargain at the end of the day as they are usually $25 per bunch. This was the best $20 I spent all week...

Monday, June 1, 2009

Another Caprese Picture

Now that I'm addicted to Angelo & Franco's fresh mozzarella, the Caprese salad has become a standard Sunday dish after I get home from the Farmer's Market. I picked up some heirloom tomatoes for Cole's BBQ bash and had a few left over. Got the basil at the market and the cheese was the last unsold container for the day... turned out fairly beautiful.

The Cub Scout parents liked it...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Practicing Safe Cheese

Bruce and I went to the Farmer's Market at the Americana in Glendale this morning. We spied around a bit and found the BH Cheese Store and their very clever, custom made cheese safe. Love it! Want one!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Winnimere and San Andreas

The Winninere is the runny one in the back. It is wrapped in tree bark (looks like bacon) before it is aged. The San Andreas has the delicate Bellwhether Farms drawings on the rind... Lovely.

Santa Monica Cheese Shops

Edythe and I visited Andrew's Cheese Shop as well as Goudas and Vines this morning.

We were quite impressed with Andrew and his shop on Montana in Santa Monica. He carries a wide variety of cheeses from all over the world. He labels his cheeses well and writes an interesting, informative and often witty description for each one. We sampled a goat cheese from Spain that tickled the throat. We sampled one of the best blues in the world, which is from right here in the USA.

I bought two cheeses. A wedge of a cow cheese, very creamy and stinky, a bit runny - it's from Vermont and called Winnimere from Jasper Hill Farm. The second piece is San Andreas, from Bellwhether Farms in Petaluma, CA and is made from sheep milk. It has crystals in it, a few small eyes (air bubble holes) and has a great complex rich flavor of a well made sheep cheese.

I'll post a picture of my purchases later today. When I pull the cheeses out to eat a bit of each.

The visit to Goudas and Vines wasn't as productive. I had heard from a friend that it was a cheese shop, but it is more like a wine shop, deli, specialty foods store that happens to also have a case with some good cheeses. But there was nothing to write home about and no one interested in talking to us about their cheeses, so we left.

We had time for one more stop, so we took the opportunity to visit with Lauren at Market Gourmet in Venice on Abbot Kinney. Here is an article I found with some great pics of the place:

Lauren's place is somewhat similar to both Andrew's and Goudas and Vines, not sure they carry wine though. Market Gourmet carries a wide variety of cheeses and she was very informative and helpful answering our numerous questions and even giving us some contact information for obtaining some great American Artisan Cheeses.

We're working on finding smaller burrata which keep for over a week and they need to be packaged individually... not that we're demanding or anything...

Monday, May 4, 2009

Street Food in Beijing

Here are a couple of pictures from Bruce's recent trip to Beijing. He wandered through the street vendors and found himself sitting, dining and drinking with a migrant worker in need of company. Bruce said that the scent of the charcoal fires and grilled foods permeates the air throughout the city.

Pic of the cheese

We introduced the Angelo and Franco Mozzarella and Ricotta this weekend. It sold out. We're so happy our customers can appreciate the fine craft of making fresh Italian cheese.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Cole at the Angelo and Franco Factory

Here's a picture of Cole during our tour of the cheese factory in Hawthorne.


Thursday, April 30, 2009

Angelo and Franco Mozzarella

We are expanding the cheese selection at The Heritage Kitchen booth. We are trying a new Italian cheese maker for our ricotta, mozzarella and a burrata type mozzarella ball filled with ricotta.
I'm off to visit the Angelo and Franco cheese company in Hawthorne. I hope to post pictures later.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wrapping Cheese

Recently we've had a great need for good cheese storage. We're selling cheese. We're sampling cheese. We're eating cheese. We need to keep our cheese fresh.
I have been using waxed paper for storing my cheeses. I like the natural brown waxed paper bags available at Whole Foods. They are inexpensive and seem to work as an efficient smell barrier while allowing the cheese to breath. If the wax paper gets a little soggy, I simply replace it, every few days.
We've discovered a product designed just for this task, cheese wrapping paper. We're very curious as to it's superiority as a cheese storage medium.
Formaticum Cheese Paper is quite expensive but the website indicates that funds go to helping the dairy farmers, which I like.

I'm also interested in glassine bags. They are traditionally used to store baked goods and candies and are similar to waxed paper. I'm wondering, are they better than waxed paper?

Is Formaticum Cheese Paper worth the expense?

Cheesy Broads need to know!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Naturally Dyed Eggs

Use onion skins for a beautiful batik effect. Save the papery skins of yellow onions until you have a big bagful, or ask your supermarket’s produce manager to let you collect loose skins from the onion bin. Tear the skins into bits and place piles of them in 8-inch squares of cheesecloth. Place a raw egg in the center of each pile, and tie the cheesecloth around it in a tight bundle, making sure the egg is completely covered by the onion skins. Place the eggs in a large pot with enough cold water to cover. Heat until the water begins to boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 20 minutes. Remove the pot from the stove and let the eggs sit in the water until they are cool enough to handle. Carefully unwrap the eggs, dry them, and place them in a decorative bowl or basket. The onion skins impart no flavor to the eggs, and their rich mottled copper color will make a most unusual spring centerpiece.

This article was first published in The Heritage Kitchen April newsletter and was written by Edythe Preet.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Cheese Report - Robert Downey Jr.

I worked at the market today. I've been working at the Pacific Palisades Farmer's Market at the Heritage Kitchen booth since January. I work with Edythe Preet selling vintage linens, homemade jams, jellies, pickles, chow-chows and chutneys, fresh baked goods, and CHEESE! I love cheese. I really enjoy spending each Sunday morning displaying, sampling and selling fine artisan made cheeses. What's not to like?
Today I looked up to hand out a sample I had just sliced from the Carr Valley Mobay. It's a sheep and goat cheese with a fine layer of grape vine ash in between the two which creates a beutifully layered wedge when cut. The goat cheese is a pure beautiful white and the sheep half is a buttery yellow. As you can see, I like CHEESE! But I digress. I was sampling the Mobay and as I reached out with the little bit of cheese on a waxed paper square I looked into the eyes of Robert Downey Jr. I stayed calm and sliced more samples and kept handing them out. He asked us which three cheeses we would pick and we steered him to our favorites: Three Sister's Serena and Carr Valley's Snow White Goat Cheddar (which won Best in Show at the 2008 American Cheese Society's annual competition) and Black Truffled Sheep. He sought out our Honeyed Goat Cheese with Blueberries and also picked up some fresh Dinosaur Plum Preserves. He wanted to know what made the Plums Dinosaurs. Edythe, a food historian, explained that Dinosaur Plums are a spotted heirloom variety. He paid for his products and was off. He seemed nice enough. He certainly knew what he wanted... CHEESE!

Friday, March 27, 2009

REAL Italian in the South Bay

I took a friend out to dinner last night for her birthday. She lives in Redondo Beach and wanted seafood. I headed towards Hermosa Beach and brainstormed along the way. I really wanted Italian food. Then I remembered Il Boccaccio at Pier Plaza in Hermosa Beach.
I discovered Il Boccaccio after eating their lasagna at the MBEF wine auction three years ago. One bite and i was hooked! They make the best lasagna I've ever tasted. They use homemade pasta sheets and a rich meat sauce and creamy ricotta which give it a hearty lusciousness that is addicting.
So we headed over to the Pier Plaza and walked right in. People who live in the South Bay know that the Pier Plaza is a party area. I think of it as a frat party for those in the 30-50 year old range. There is always loud music coming out of the various bars. The rent is high and these places pack them in and pour the liquor liberally.
But Il Boccaccio is not like that, in any way. It evokes the feeling of a small family run restaurant in Italy. The menu is simple and contains the basics of Italian food from many different regions. However, the specials are what really makes this place stand out. They are seasonal, freshly prepared and always changing.
We ordered the fennel and blood orange salad. The classic combination of flavors was fresh and clean.
I couldn't resist the Pasta Puttanesca made with FRESH anchovies. I love oily fish and these were very tender laying on top of a bed of angel hair dressed with tomatoes and capers. Another classic combination, this one made even better with the big juicy anchovies.
My friend ordered the grilled scallop special and seemed to really love them as they were gone by the time I looked up to ask her how they were!
Before leaving we chatted briefly with the chef/owner (Joe?) and let him know how happy we were to be enjoying a wonderful meal prepared by those who care - rather than being part of the cacophony that was going on just outside on the plaza. He appreciated the comments and we loved the evening.
Their website is a bit outdated, but don't let that stop you from going. If the website was all up to date I'd be worried that they weren't concentrating on the food!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Joys of a hearty breakfast

Did anyone else watch the Oprah show last week that was designed to get Americans cooking for their families? She sent out a few celebrity chefs into actual homes to show people just how easy and thrifty it is to make home cooked meals. The families which were chosen had fallen into common American eating ruts - relying on pre-made microfood, take out restaurant foods or just plain fast food to nourish their families.
You may think I had nothing to learn from such a show. But in fact, I too felt a bit inspired by the hearty breakfast section.
I have done my reading about nutrition and I know that a breakfast high in protein gives a satiated feeling that lasts well into the day. So why haven't I been feeding my children a high protein breakfast each day? I found it too tiresome. Until recently, when I embraced the hard boiled egg and began boiling them by the dozen and feeding them to my children liberally. I have also embraced bacon. I love bacon and so does my family. Who says my boys can't start the day with a few slices of crispy pork to fill their bellies? It's certainly better than the processed junk we Americans call cereal.
Now if I can only find a decent BBQ sauce and Blackberry jam which don't contain High Fructose Corn Syrup. These are the latest in my NASTY food discoveries. My boys hate me for that. Oh well...

Friday, March 13, 2009

My Chile Verde Recipe

I've been making green chile stew or chile verde for quite a few years. Originally I'd use a recipe I found at the old newsgroup, which was quite simple, but never really had enough punch for my taste. So, I've modified it over the years and it's become better and better.

I usually make the dish using pork. I dice up a picnic roast or pork butt roast (it's really pork shoulder, don't ask me why they call it butt!). Recently I made it with chicken and it turned out wonderful. If you are using chicken, I suggest boiling a whole chicken with some onion, carrot, celery, parsley and peppercorns and then pulling the meat from the chicken. Now you've made the chicken stock for the recipe and you don't need to brown the chicken, just add it after sauteing the onion and spices.

I think either way, this is a fabulous recipe and worth the effort.

Vickie's Chile Verde
Serves 6

8 fresh Anaheim green chiles
8 fresh Pasilla dark green chiles
1 lb. fresh Tomatillos
1 large white onion
4 garlic cloves
2 lb. lean pork, cut into large dice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
salt and pepper
1 12-oz. bottle of Mexican beer
1-2 Cups Chicken Stock
1 lime

Roast, peel and de-seed the chiles. Cut them into small dice. If you have never done this, please, look online and read up on how to do it right. You really want to get rid of all the skin off the chiles and blackening them is the best way.
Preheat your oven to 375F. Remove the husks from the tomatillos and rinse them well. Put them on a baking sheet. Cut the onion into quarters and put them on the baking sheet as well. Roast the tomatillos and onions until the tomatillos have brown spots and are soft (20-30 minutes).
Roated onion, tomatillos, garlic & zucchini - did them all in the oven for this batch.

While the tomatillos are roasting, smash the garlic cloves. Heat a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Salt and pepper the diced pork. Brown the pork a few handfuls at a time. Don't crowd the pan, you want the pork to get some nice brown carmelization. Set asside the cooked pork.
Browning the cubed and seasoned pork in small batches to get some good carmelization going.

Pulverize the tomatillos in a blender until smooth. Dice the now softened onion. Saute the onion in the pot, add the garlic, cumin, oregano and a little salt and pepper. Now add back the pork and stir well. Pour in the tomatillo mix. Stir again. Add the beer and enough chicken stock to just cover the meat. Bring to a boil and then lower heat. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add the roasted green chiles, mix well. Add the lime juice and mix again. Taste. Adjust for salt.
The final stew.  This batch had multicolored chiles and added zuccini.

  • Add a minced serrano to make it more spicy.
  • Add some corn (cut from the cob and fried up a bit OR a small can).
  • Add a can of hominy.
Accompaniment ideas:
  • Tortillas hot off the griddle
  • Corn tortilla chips
  • Mexican Crema or sour cream
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Sliced Green Onions
  • Xenepek (google it!)

Black Bean Salad - EASY!

I had a request for my black bean salad recipe and I thought for SURE I'd be able to find it online. But no, it was never posted on a website, or a newsgroup, or saved by me at all. So, here is the recipe, it's easy to make, travels well and doesn't need to stay refrigerated, which makes it the perfect picnic and potluck dish.

Black Bean Salad

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 small can of corn, drained
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
5 green onions, the white and some of the green, sliced thinly
1 green chile pepper (optional) chopped fine
2 garlic cloves pressed or minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/4 tsp pepper (or to taste)
1/4 bunch fresh cilantro chopped fine
juice of 2 limes
3 tablespoon of olive oil

Combine the black beans, corn, tomatoes, green onions and chile pepper in a large bowl. Make a dressing with the garlic, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, cilantro, lime juice and oil. Mix well, taste and adjust seasoning to your liking by adding more salt, or lime juice. Pour over the salad, mix well. Chill for an hour before serving.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Slow Cooked Pork Ribs with Sour Orange, Fennel and Chipotle

Happy Birthday Lenae!
It was Bruce's sister's birthday last week and we invited her and her son over for dinner. Lenae loves my cooking. I asked her if she had any requests for her dinner. She mentioned her usual favorites, MEAT and cooked celery. She has a thing for cooked celery.
I bought a pork roast and was contemplating what to make exactly. Then, other obligations got in the way and usurped the pork roast. I had a few beautiful sour oranges waiting to be turned into something special. I've never even seen a sour orange until two weeks prior when I was on a foodie shopping adventure with Edythe. We were at the Arab Market and there they were, with all the other gorgeously fresh, ripe and seasonal produce. Sour Oranges are used in many cuisines around the world (Spanish, Italian, Central American, Cuban, etc.) but haven't really become popular enough for even specialty shops to carry here in the US. I had to buy some. I couldn't wait to play with them.
I searched for recipes using the sour oranges. I found a pork recipe or two that looked interesting. I read through them and kept thinking. When it came time to make the dinner it came together with ease and made for an incredible dinner.
The tender pork absorba the delicate orange flavor, the fennel seeds pair perfectly with the celery and the chipotle adds a subtle heat which pulls them together. Serve over roasted or mashed potatoes or rice, something to soak up all the wonderful juices.

Slow Cooked Pork Ribs with Sour Orange, Fennel and Chipotle
Serves 4

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 racks of Pork Ribs
2 Onions, cut into 1" dice
1 head of Celery, cut into 1" dice
4 large cloves of Garlic, smashed
1 Tablespoon Fennel Seeds
1 - 3 Teaspoons ground Chipotle Chile
2 Sour Oranges, juiced
2 Regular Oranges, juiced
Salt and Pepper

Rinse the pork ribs under cold water, pat dry with paper towels. Salt and Pepper them well. Heat a Dutch Oven over medium heat. Add the Olive Oil. Brown the pork ribs. You can cut the racks into halves which will make them easier to manipulate.
If you are using a slow cooker, move the ribs into it after you've browned them. If not, put them aside on a plate.
Add the onion and celery. Cook for about 5 minutes until softened. Add the garlic, orange juices, fennel, and chipotle. Bring to a boil.
If using the slow cooker, add the vegetables to it and let it cook on low for 8 hours.
If using your Dutch Oven, put the ribs back into the pot. Put in a low oven (250 F) for 8 hours.

NOTE: Since sour oranges are hard to find, you may use a substitute: juice of one lime and one regular orange for each sour orange used.

Cheesecake at the Russian Deli in Reseda, CA

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Preserved Lemons - Recipes from Xmas

My son Miles and I made jars of Moroccan Preserved Lemons for family Christmas gifts this year. They are so easy and tasty I wanted to share this exotic treat with everyone.

Salt preserved lemons are a special ingredient used in Mediterranean cooking. The flesh of the fruit is not used, only the peel, which becomes very tender after sitting in salt and lemon juice for a few weeks.

We handed out these recipes with the lemons:

Preserved Lemons
2 dozen medium size fresh lemons
Sea salt
1 quart glass jar with lid
Slice each lemon in half. In a mixing bowl, toss the lemons generously with salt. Place half of the lemons in the quart jar. Juice the remaining lemons and pour into the jar. Fill the jar to the top. Secure the lid and let sit in a cool dry place for at least 3 days. The lemons, can set longer and will keep in the refrigerator.
Yield: 1 quart
Grilled chicken
with preserved lemon dressing and couscous salad
½ cup (125ml) chicken or vegetable stock
20g butter
½ cup (100g) couscous
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons olive oil salt and pepper
zest and juice of 1-2 lemons
4 small chicken breasts
2 quarters of preserved lemon, finely chopped
1 bunch mint, roughly chopped
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
130g bag mixed lettuce leaves
½ cup olives, roughly chopped
Place stock and butter in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and stir in couscous. Cover and stand for 5 minutes.
Pre-heat char-grill, grill plate or large flat pan.
Combine garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper and half of the lemon zest and juice in a large bowl. Lay chicken on a large plate and pour over a third of garlic and lemon oil; turn to coat in mixture.
Cook chicken for 8-10 minutes or until cooked through, turning halfway.
Meanwhile, add fluffed up couscous to remaining lemon oil mixture; toss to combine. Add preserved lemon, herbs, lettuce leaves and olives and toss gently.
Slice chicken thickly and serve on the couscous salad; drizzle with extra olive oil if desired.
Serving size: Serves 4
Preserved Lemon Dip
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons minced anchovies
2 tablespoons minced cornichons
2 tablespoons harissa paste
Peel from 1 preserved lemon, rinsed, minced (about 1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
1 cup olive oil
Whisk first 8 ingredients in large bowl. Gradually whisk in both oils. Chill at least 2 hours or up to 2 weeks. Rewhisk before serving.
Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 quarter preserved lemon peel freed of pulp and chopped fine
1 shallot or small mild onion chopped fine
4 - 5 Tablespoons of good olive oil
Put everything in a small jar with a tight lid and shake it well.
Moroccan Lamb Stew with Preserved Lemons
3 pounds boneless lamb stew meat, from the shoulder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch saffron threads
1 orange, zested and juiced
1/2 bunch cilantro, stems removed
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 yellow onions, finely chopped
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 cup water
1 cup pitted green Moroccan (or other) olives, chopped
Minced peel of 1 preserved lemon
Trim excess fat and gristle from meat and cut lamb into 1-inch cubes. Place meat in a large bowl. In a small bowl, mix the cumin, ginger, cinnamon, and saffron; sprinkle over the meat and set aside.
On a cutting board, mince together the orange zest, cilantro leaves, garlic, and salt until you have a paste. Add to the meat along with the orange juice and stir well to coat. Cover the bowl and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours, or up to overnight in the refrigerator.
Transfer the mixture to a heavy pot, add the onions, tomatoes, and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer (or bake in a preheated 350 degree oven) until the meat is very tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Add olives preserved lemon to the pot. Cook about 10 minutes more, then serve.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Vegetables - Xmas 2008

Along with the cranberry sauce and chutney, the Hoopers requested vegetables. They love my vegetables. I love cooking vegetables. And the Hoopers are always kind in accepting whichever recipes I choose to explore each year.

I brought three vegetable dishes this year. My first choice was a cauliflower dish I discovered a few months ago. For the record, I am not a big cauliflower fan. I find it boring, tasteless, a pale sister to broccoli. But this recipe turned the bland into beautiful. The cauliflower head is sliced into thick slices, roasted in the oven and tossed with a lemon mustard butter sauce that is out of this world. The carmelization from the roasting combines beautifully with the sauce and this dish is a big hit in my book.

I love broccoli and enjoy finding new ways to prepare it that don't include butter, cream or cheese (because that is cheating, anything will taste great with enough butter, cream or cheese!). I found this recipe at Epicurious. It's a Mario Batali recipe and I wasn't sure it would be too exciting, but it is! The wine infuses the broccoli spears with a tangy goodness that is absolutely addicting.

I had to please the children at the party as well, so carrots were in order. (Can anyone tell my why children love orange and white food so much? My 10 year old spent at least 2 years of his life eating only only foods that were orange and white. Strange.) I cheated and used a bag of organic baby carrots and the texture of the final product always suffers when I do this. But hey, I was busy, it was Christmas Eve! I often do a orange glazed carrot recipe using marmalade and butter, sometimes garlic and ginger too. I kept it simple this year and just used the marmalade and a knob of butter in a large frying pan with a little bit of water. I simmered them slowly until they were tender voila. No recipe, just winged it.

Here are the recipes for the other two:
Cauliflower with Mustard Lemon Butter
1 large head of Cauliflower
2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest finely grated
6 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly butter a rimmed baking sheet. Cut cauliflower in half, then cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices. Arrange slices in single layer on prepared baking sheet; sprinkle with salt. Roast until cauliflower is slightly softened, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in lemon juice, mustard, and lemon peel. Spoon mustard-lemon butter evenly over cauliflower and roast until crisp-tender, about 10 minutes longer.
Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.
Sprinkle with parsley and serve warm or at room temperature.

Broccoli with White Wine and Garlic

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 pounds broccoli, cut into spears
1 cup Frascati or other dry white wine
1 tablespoon hot red pepper flakes
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Grated zest of 1 orange
In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil with the garlic over medium-high heat until just sizzling. Add the broccoli and cook, tossing frequently and gradually adding the wine to keep the garlic from browning until the stalks are tender 8 to 10 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and zests, and tossing well, taste and season with salt, serve immediately.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Flippant Culinary Style - Cranberry Sauces from Xmas 2008

This year was similar to many years past in that I was requested to bring vegetable dishes to the Christmas Eve Hooper dinner. One of the Hoopers put in a special request for my cranberry chutney. However, this simple request revealed a defect in my flippant culinary style. My passion is recipes, writing them, reading them, finding them. But not filing them. I hate filing. My motto when it comes to paperwork is: You know when it is time to file things when the item you were looking for was found in the 'to be filed' pile. Then, and only then do I even consider wasting my time stuffing paper into over crowded files.
This is the first time my office paperwork policy has tripped up my culinary world. I have no idea to which cranberry chutney recipe she refers. Bummer really, that I cannot keep track of such things. Each year I make what sounds good, looks good in a magazine, is sent to me by a friend, found on a website, referred to in a cookbook... whatever inspires me at the moment. I have no recipe loyalty, I make what I want each day. Once in a while I revisit favorite recipes, but in general, I'm always looking forward to something new. I don't have time to cut out, collate, collect, categorize, and certainly not FILE any recipe.

So, in an effort to fulfill the cranberry chutney request, I searched online and found two really nice recipes to bring to the Christmas Eve event. One I have used before, it's a recipe I heard on National Public Radio several years ago. It's a horseradish concoction that is excellent with roast beef.

The second cranberry recipe is simply one I found when I googled 'recipe, cranberry, chutney'. I liked the looks of it, the comments at the website were positive, so I used it. It received rave reviews by the Hoopers. It would be excellent on ice cream and went great with the turkey.

In an effort to keep track of things, and to be able to answer when someone asks: What was in that cranberry stuff you brought to the Hooper Christmas Eve Party last year?, here are the recipes.

Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish
1 bag whole raw cranberries, washed
1 small white onion, cut into large dice
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons horseradish from a jar
Put the cranberries and the onion into a food processor and pulse to a course puree. Add everything else and mix. The color will be shocking pink.
Keep refrigerated until ready to use. May be frozen and left a little slushy for a unique texture.
Makes 1-1/2 pints.
Spiced Cranberry Chutney with Apple
1 cup water
3/4 cup white sugar
1 (12 ounce) package fresh cranberries
1 cup apples - peeled, cored and diced
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
In a medium saucepan bring the water and sugar to a boil over medium heat. Add the cranberries, apples, cider vinegar, raisins and spices. Bring to a boil, then simmer gently for 10 minutes stirring often.
Pour mixture into a mixing bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the sauce. Cool to room temperature and serve or cover and refrigerate. Bring chutney to room temperature before serving.