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Archive for the ‘Summer’ Category

I have seen both Martha Stewart and Jamie Oliver make white crudite platters.  And they looked soooo beautiful.  Even Jamie’s, who’s food usually looks delicious, but well, not like Martha’s, to say the least.  So, I wanted to do that.  Either they have whiter vegetables than me, or they were photographed through some magic whitening lens because this is not white.    So, this is my shades of beige crudite platter.

The vegetables are endives, steamed potatoes, radish, and carrots.  The white (ish) carrots and radishes were procured by my amazing husband, who went to Berkeley Bowl and searched for the best white vegetables he could possible find, just for me.  Totally made my day that he came back with awesome stuff and not boring old cauliflower.   The potatoes were inspired by a friend of mine, who served steamed potatoes and siracha aioli at her housewarming, and it was so delicious.  But since siracha aioli is not white, I did not make it.  Instead, I made roasted garlic aioli.

Roasted Garlic Aioli
Recipe from the this website, reprinted from the Mustards: Napa Valley Cookbook by Ciny Pawlcyn.

Ingredients
1 large head garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 egg yolks
1 clove garlic, mashed to a paste
Juice of 1 small lemon
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of ground cayenne pepper
1-1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil

Instructions
To roast the garlic, preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Cut a thin slice off the very top of the head of garlic to expose the tops of all the cloves. Set the garlic head in a shallow baking dish. Pour the oil slowly over and into the head. Season with the salt and pepper. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 1-3/4 hours, until the garlic is very soft and tender. Don’t rush it; older garlic may take longer. Drain and reserve the oil, and set the garlic aside.

When cool, squeeze the pulp out of the roasted garlic into a food processor or blender and add the egg yolks, garlic, lemon juice, water, salt, and cayenne pepper. Purée until smooth. With the motor running, add the reserved roasting oil and the additional 1-1/2 cups oil in a slow, steady stream and continue processing until emulsified.

Makes about 2 cups

This was my first time making my own mayo, and I couldn’t believe how easy it was and how delicious it tasted.  I used half the mayo at the party.  The other half went into a potato salad with fingerling potatoes, scallions, and arugula, which was amazing, and a bit on some burgers.

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Twas the night before Christmas, and my husband and I were enjoying the glorious peace and quiet of a holiday alone.  I made a lovely Italian-themed dinner, but before that, we had our own cocktail party.  On the menu, roasted olives and fennel, blue cheese cookies (cut in the shape of stars, to be festive), and negronis.

Roasted Olives and Fennel

I am a huge olive fan.  Love them.  But, there is only one thing better than olives, and that is warm olives.  To make them, I rinsed off a mix of olives from the olive bar at the store.  I then zested an orange and lemon, removing the zest in big chunks, then juiced each of them.  Toss the olives in the juice.  Then, take a fennel bulb (or part of one, depending on how big and how much you like fennel), cut it in strips, and toss that in.  Add a bay leaf and a few cloves of garlic smashed up.  Toss it all together with a drizzle of olive oil.  Preheat the oven and stick them in.  This is not an exact science, so if your oven is already on for something else, that’s fine.  In general, I’d say a good 12-15 minutes or so at 375 or so ought to do the trick.  You want to heat them up, and cook the rawness out of the fennel.  And voila, warm yummy olives.

Negroni

Now on to the drinkies.  I am not a huge cocktail person.  Wine is my vice.  But, I make an exception for these.  They are just lovely.  The Campari is bitter, but it’s cut nicely by the vermouth. Not too sweet, not too harsh, just right. To make one, put one ounce each of gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari in a shaker with some ice, shake it up, and serve with an orange wedge.  Cheers!

 

 

 

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It’s a cold and rainy weekend here, so I wanted to make something comforting and satisfying.  In preparing the sausuages, I loosely followed this recipe from Food & Wine.  For the mash, I was inspired by this Martha Stewart recipe for mashed parnsip and apple, and this Ina Garten recipe for pureed celery root and apple.  Since there seems to be a bunch of recipes floating around online for mashed parnsip and celery root as well, I saw no good reason not to just throw them all together.

This is a pretty forgiving, easy meal, so I’m not going to bother with precise measurements or instructions.  Just throw things into a pan, and you’ll probably be fine.

Braised Sausages and Grapes

Add a few Italian sausages to a skillet and add water.  Simmer for about 6 or 7 minutes, longer if they are really big, turning a few times.  Drain. 

 Turn the heat down to medium and put the sausages back in the pan.   Add a splash of olive oil and some minced shallot to the pan.  Saute for a few minutes, turning the sausages, and allowing the sausages to brown. 

Add about 1/4 cup of wine (I used red).  I’m sure vinegar or broth would be fine too.  Scrape up the sticky bits from the bottom of the pan.  Pour the grapes into the pan and season with salt and pepper.  Allow the dish to simmer for a couple minutes, adding another splash of wine to help it all come together.  Remove from heat and serve.

Apple-Root Vegetable Mash

Peel a large apple, a 1 pound celery root, and a couple parnsips.  Chop into 1-2 inch chunks.  Put into a pan with about a cup of water and a good pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer.  Let the vegetables cook for 20-30 minutes, until soft.  Drain and add everything back to the pan.  Add a splash of cream or milk and a good pat of butter.  Mash with a potato masher until it reaches desired texture.  Add extra butter or salt if needed.

I served everything with some braised broccoli rabe, which I made by sauteing it in some olive oil, a few cloved of minced garlic, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. 

To drink, some lovely Syrah from the fabulous Bonny Doon vineyards, a favorite of my husband’s.

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I had never heard of champvallon before but if Martha Stewart says it’s a real dish, I believe her.  Apparently, it’s a French dish of stewed lamb and potatoes that may have been invented by a wife of Louis XIV.  It seems to me more like peasant food than a dish of kings, but wherever it came from, it’s delicious.  And, for a dish that’s just a pile of meat and potatoes, surprisingly light, though that could be my super delicious Marin Sun Farms lamb talking.

Champvallon
Recipe by Martha Stewart

Ingredients
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, plus more for sprinkling
5 to 6 russet potatoes, peeled

Directions
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Season lamb generously with salt and pepper.  Cook a third of the lamb, until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes per side.  Transfer to a bowl.  Stir in cup stock, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom.  Pour liquid over browned lamb.  Repeat with oil, lamb, and stock.  After the last batch, do not pour out stock.

Add onions, garlic, and rosemary to pot, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.  Return browned lamb and juices from bowl to pot.  Add remaining stock and  bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cover. Simmer until meat is tender, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Slice potatoes as thin as possible.  If you have a mandoline, even better.  I don’t, but managed to get about 1/8 inch slices with a good knife and some patience.  Rinse, then pat dry.  Toss with remaining 2 tablespoons oil.

Cover bottom of a 12-inch dish with half the potato slices.  The recipe recommends a gratin dish, I found a good wide pie plate worked fine.  With the potatoes, start at outer edge, overlap each potato by half, working in concentric circles toward center.  Spoon lamb and broth over top, then repeat arrangement with remaining potato slices on top of lamb. Sprinkle with rosemary, and season with salt and pepper.  Bake until top is gold, edges are crisp, and juices are bubbling, about 1 hour.  Let cool slightly before serving.

The resulting dish was delicious. The potatoes on top get crispy and brown and the ones on that bottom soak up all the juices from the lamb and the rosemary infused broth.

Because this is a French dish, I thought French wine would be fitting.  But, with all my jaunts to Napa and Sonoma, there’s just no French wine anywhere in my house.  Fortunately, we had on hand some lovely French style pinot noir from Freeman Winery in Sonoma.  Ken Freeman and his wife Akiko have built this beautiful little winery in Sebastopol, complete with a spectacular wine cave.  They make lovely French style wines, and some of the best Chardonnay I’ve ever had.  I highly recommend a visit if you are in the area.  And, if you are not in the area, I recommend seeking out some of this Sonoma Coast pinot to drink with your champvallon.  It was a perfect combo.

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Just like last year, I’ve been buying up my beloved dry farmed early girl tomatoes like crazy.  They are the best tomato ever, and if you are lucky enough to find them at your farmers market, buy them.  You won’t regret it.

With those tomatoes on my mind, I was quite excited to stumble across this recipe in this month’s Food and Wine.  The tomatoes don’t get cooked, so it’s really a perfect recipe to savor the last of the amazing summer tomatoes.

Pasta with Tomatoes, Anchovies, and Almonds
Recipe by Food and Wine

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds  tomatoes, cored and finely diced.  I used dry farmed early girls, but the recipe recommends beefsteak.  I think any meaty tomato that doesn’t have a lot of water in it would work.
1/4 cup finely shredded basil leaves
2 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of crushed red pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup salted roasted almonds
3 large oil-packed anchovies
1 large garlic clove, smashed
1/2 cup grated fresh pecorino cheese.  I used parmesan, but the recipe recommends Fiore di Sardo.
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1 pound pasta.  I used fetticine, but the recipe recomments spaghettini

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the diced tomatoes with the shredded basil, scallions, olive oil and crushed red pepper.  Season lightly with salt and black pepper and let the tomatoes stand for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a mini food processor, pulse the almonds with the anchovies and garlic until finely chopped. Add the 1/2 cup of cheese and the capers and pulse to combine.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta, shaking off the excess water. Add the pasta to the tomatoes along with the chopped almond mixture and toss well. Serve the pasta, passing extra cheese at the table.

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Frozen Bloody Marys

I’m several weeks behind in my blog posts because I’ve been traveling and running around busy with other things.  But, we are still getting tons of gorgeous tomatoes around here, so I figured I should get this up before they are gone.  For a while, I was having crazy bloody mary cravings.  I’m not sure why, though I suspect it was due to a particularly fabulous one I had for brunch one morning at Gather.  A recent Food and Wine had a recipe for frozen ones, so I thought I’d give it a try.

They recommended yellow tomatoes, but I could only find orange.  I also skipped the basil because in my haste to finally quench my Bloody Mary thirst, I forgot it.  They were so delicious though.  I will say that the leftovers were better the next morning after they had thawed out in the fridge.  The texture was thick and icy, but a little easier to drink.  My recipe also made way more tomato ice cubes than they said it would, so I just keep them in my freezer along side some vodka with a jalapeno in it, ready to go for my next breakfast emergency.

Frozen Bloody Marys
Recipe by Food and Wine

Ingredients
4 jalapeños, sliced
1 cup vodka
2 pounds yellow (or orange or red) tomatoes, cored and halved
16 Thai basil leaves (optional)
Salt
Yellow cherry tomatoes, halved, and basil flowers, for garnish (optional, as my boring glasses below indicate)

Directions
In a jar, cover the jalapeños with the vodka. Let stand for 3 hours, then strain.

In a food processor, puree the tomatoes. Pass the puree through a fine sieve into a large measuring cup; you should have 2 cups of juice. Pour it into ice cube trays and freeze until firm, about 3 hours.


In a blender, combine the jalapeño vodka, tomato ice cubes and basil. Blend until smooth and season with salt; if the drink is very thick, add a little water and blend again. Pour into rocks glasses, garnish with cherry tomato halves and basil flowers and serve.

If I had to do one think differently, I would put salt on the rims of the glasses.  Otherwise, they were perfect.

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As I have mentioned a few times, I’m signed up for a CSA through Marin Sun Farms.  Each month, I get 4 pounds of a braising or roasting cut and 5 pounds of ground meat.  It’s taken me a few months to find a variety of things to do with the ground meat.  I can only make so many burgers, meat sauce, and chili.  Shepherd’s Pie is now in my regular repertoire and now, I’ve got these.

They are really good and really easy.  The ingredients list looks long, but it really isn’t too complicated.  I read online that lemongrass can be frozen, which is a trick I haven’t tried yet, but I’m planning on buying a bunch and experimenting so I don’t have to make a special trip to a store that sells it just to make these.

And don’t skip the sugary coating.  That’s the best part.

Vietnamese Meatballs in Lettuce Wraps
Recipe from Food and Wine

Ingredients
For the meatballs
1 pound ground meat (I use ground pork, the recipe recommends chicken)
3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (I skipped this)
3 small shallots, finely chopped (I used onions)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 stalk of fresh lemongrass, tender white inner bulb only, minced
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup granulated sugar
To Assemble
1 head Boston or red leaf lettuce, leaves separated
Thinly sliced cucumber, radish, and/or red onion
Sprigs of cilantro and mint
1 small seedless cucumber—peeled, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
1 small red onion, halved and sliced
Asian chili sauce, if you want, but I don’t think you need it

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl, mix the ground meat with the shallots, garlic, lemongrass, chopped cilantro and mint, cornstarch, salt and pepper, and fish sauce, if you are using it, and mix with your hands.

Spread the sugar on a plate.  Form the meat into small 1 1/2 balls, roll in the sugar, and place on the baking sheet.  You should have about 16 balls.

Bake for about 15-18 minutes.  Serve the meatballs on a platter with the lettuce and other goodies.  Particularly delicious with a cool glass of sauvignon blanc.

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