Monday, July 6, 2009

Cantaloupe Alone is Born

Pre-Thanks was doing double duty as my dinner party blog and recipe blog until Cantaloupe Alone came along.

Please visit Cantaloupe instead of here. All of these photos, recipes, and on have been migrated over. Goodbye until fall, when its dinner party time. A tout a l'heure.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Uncle of all Sandwiches

Inner strata after cutting in half. See how the pesto seeps into the bread.

I don't quite know what the mother or father of all sandwiches would be. Maybe a pb&j, or pastrami on rye? What would the grandfather of all sandwiches be? I guess the Earl of Sandwich would know, but he was not at my 4th of July picnic. The uncle of all sandwiches is a big pan-bagnat style Italian sandwich topped with sopressata, smoked mozzarella, basil, roasted red peppers, artichokes, and pesto on hunky wheat bready. He smells like an Italian deli, is rich (with textures), and is sort of falling apart. Recipe to make it:

1 8-9 inch round loaf of bread
(You want the best! I used Balthazar's Wheat)
1/2 cup pesto
1/4 cup packed with fresh basil leaves
(don't substitute with dried basil, if you must replace use arugula)
1/4 lb thinly sliced sopressata, sliced thinly
1/4 lb smoked mozzarella, sliced medium to thin
1 6-8 0z jar of roasted red peppers
1 6-8 0z jar of oil marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
black pepper (red pepper if you like it hot!)

This sandwich which will be pressed under weighted plates in your fridge, so first make sure you have 10-12" square by 6-8" high space open.

Cut your loaf of bread in half with a long serrated knife. Insides out, which means pull about half (or less) of the bread out from inside of the cut halves. You are making space to layer the ingredients. Spread half of the pesto on the bottom half of bread and the other half on the top. Drizzle a little bit of the artichoke marinade on the each bread half for extra flavor. Arrange the sandwich fillings in this order:

1/2 of the basil leaves
1/2 of the smoked mozzerella
roasted red pepers
artichoke hearts
1/2 of the smoked mozzerella
1/2 of the basil leaves
sprinkle with pepper

Cover with top half of bread. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Place on a plate, larger then the sandwich. Cover the top of the wrapped sandwich with another large plate. You are making a plate-sandwich sandwich! Set in fridge. You will need to weigh down the plate sandwich with something heavy. I used 4 cans of beans which I placed in a skillet on top of the plates. The skillet prevents the cans from sliding off the plate. If anyone sees this pile of dishes in your fridge they will certainly think you have the whole idea of cooking backwards. Chill the sandwich for 3 hours to 24 hours, so the juices and flavors mingle.

After slicing in half, cut width-wise to make managable pieces.

Remove from the fridge. Unstack and unwrap the sandwich. Slice in half. Slice each half into 8 pieces, width-wise. Return slices to plate or serving platter. Allow to come to room temperature for about 1 hour.

Craig savors his slice. The uncle of all sandwiches was
pretty popular at the 4th of July Picnic I attended.

I can't lie, this sandwich is tricky to cut! Its innards flop out. Do not sweat it, you can shove those rebel fillings back in the bread with clean fingers. I suggest cutting the sandwich when its as cold as possible. It serves 10-8 with no leftovers, because everyone loves it.

Picnic Perfect

This talented-typography-loving lady decorated her strawberry mascarpone
cream pie with home-made tempered chocolate letters.

I love to be the guest. Forget dealing with directions, gathering gear, and worrying about enough food and paper plates. Its glorious to show up, and bring a thing-or-two to please. 3 categories of food always go over well on the picnic blanket.

1) Alcohol. Especially a slightly fancier mixed drink. Spiked lemonade, shaken margaritas, sangria. If in doubt a bottle of effervescent champagne or prosecco plus juice always are welcome.

Snacking on gooseberries & strawberries

2) Snacks and nibbles. Nuts, olives, fruit, crudité, mini sandwiches, chips, dip. You can be clever with this category, and a mix of health and slightly decadent please em all.

A little goes a long way in making a group feel full.

3) Dessert. Anything sweet makes everyone feel special. Group gatherings are the best place to test out your newest recipes and ideas. All the better if you recipe is a little fancy. Doesn't it feel good to spoil your friends and family?

Oh you could have an ice cream cone. My genius friends
successfully brought ice cream in a cooler bag to a hot day at the park.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Rosé Sangria for a Park Day

The apple juice gives it a mellow pink-orange color.
It rained about 2 minutes after I took this pic, can you tell?

Most sangria recipes involve red wine and brandy plus fruit. I thought I would bring an intoxicating rosé and vodka for a lighter sweeter day on the picnic blanket. This recipe is designed to make 2 large bottles of sangria. Perfectly portable to sweeten any group up with.

5 medium peaches, plums, or nectarines - pitted and sliced
1 small granny smith apple- cored, quartered and sliced
1/2 pt black berries
juice of 1 lime
1-3 tblsp sugar

1 large bottle of rosé or blush wine
(I bought a Beringer zinfandel which conveniently does not label its volume, but rest assured it the larger looking bottle)
1 gallon of apple juice
1 cup vodka

Macerate the fruit in a medium bowl with the lime juice and sugar. Macerating gives the fruits time to get to know one another and absorb each others flavors. The less ripe your fruit the more sugar you need, so add sugar as needed. Forget about it for 1-2 hours, this is a casual weekend recipe that doesn't so much attention.

This sangria is not in prison, just sitting in a Brooklyn window.

All of the apple juice into an empty pitcher. Pour half of the wine into the now empty apple juice bottle. Divide the fruit and its sweet nectar-like juices between the half empty apple juice bottle and half empty wine bottle, or are they half full, you tell me. Add 1/2 cup of vodka to apple juice bottle, and the other 1/2 cup of vodka to the wine. Fill each bottle close to the top with apple juice from the pitcher. Taste each bottle. I found I need to add a little more vodka at the end to give the drink just a little zing. You will have extra apple juice for another purpose.

Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, and up to 1 day before serving. Oh dang, its refreshing and punchy. You will have 2 bottles to intoxicate a crowd with.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Pt 3 Macarons - Fillings

Berry filling tart and sweet.

Just imagine all of the fillings the delicate macaron cookie could compliment. Really, you do all of the imagining. I already made a list in Pt 1 of the Macaron Series. I went for Lime Curd, based loosely on the Barefoot Contessa's recipe, Berry Jam based on the fact that fresh fruit is cheap in the summer, and Almond Honey Paste based on the fact that I had extra almonds.

Lime Curd

2 limes, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
4 tblsp butter, or half of one stick, room temperature
5 egg yolks, room temperature
1/4 cup honey
pinch of salt
2 tsp corn starch mixed with 2 tsp cool water

Zest and juice the limes, keeping 1/4 cup juice separate. Add the zest and granulated sugar to a food processor, blend for 1 minute. Add butter and pulse until butter and sugar are creamed. Add yolks, one at a time, pulsing until evenly combined. Add lime juice, salt, honey, and corn starch mix to the food processor and pulse again until combined to complete the lime curd base.

Bring lime curd base to a 2 quart sauce pan. Heat over medium low heat. Stir constantly until beginning to bubble and curd thickens. Remove from heat, place in fridge to cool for 4-5 hours.

Berry Jam

1/2 pint blueberries
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon blackberry brandy (or other dessert liquor)
1 teaspoon lime juice
6 oz mixed berry jam

Place the first 4 ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat until boiling and bubbling readily stirring. Lower the heat to medium, continue to stir until mixture thickens and coats a spoon, about 15 minutes. Add the jam and boil 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, place in fridge to cool for 4-5 hours.

Almond Honey Paste

1/2 cup leftover homemade almond flour
(see Pt 2)
1/8 tsp salt
1-2 tsp canola oil
1 tblsp confectioner's sugar
1 tblsp honey

Place almond flour, salt, and 1 tsp oil in a small food processor or coffee grinder. I used my coffee grinder. Grind for 1 minute until paste starts to form. Stop and stir, if the paste looks too dry add more oil. Grind 1-2 more minutes until smooth. Using a spoon or spatula scrape the paste into a bowl. Add the sugar and honey. Mix with a spoon until smooth. Its all about being smooth. You may need to adjust the sugar, honey, oil ratios at the end to get a desired consistency. I made mine thick and on the saltier/savory side.

All of these fillings may be made a 1-3 days in advance and kept cool in the fridge. Spoon a small amount of filling into the center of a macaron cookie, so that just a small amount squishes out when sandwiched. Keep the lime curd macarons chilled. I packed mine in foil and have stored them in the freezer until their moment of truth.

Pt 2 Macarons - Brooklyn Style

Macarons left to right - mixed berry, almond honey paste, and lime curd.
I made it all from scratch.

I had almost nothing I need on the macaron equipment and ingredient list, and no experience. No fear, I'm a brave Brooklyn home baker spending her weekend tackling the french treat. I spent my weekend preparing and attempting to follow my recipe. I can barely follow a recipe, so I made my own way.

First - Acquiring & Creating ingredients
I spent Friday looking for almond flour after work. Dean and Deluca's has it, $9 for about 2 cups. Whole Foods on Bowery does not have it, though they have hazelnut flour. I looked online, and it lthe flour can be bought for prices around $10-15. No way. I went to the grocery store and bought 1 1/2 lbs of raw almonds. I toasted them in my oven, cooled, and pulsed them in my food processor. Pulse being key. Clumping means you have begun to go too far, so stop. This homemade flour solution is barely acceptable. Commercial almond flour is finer and drier. Mine has texture and color, but that sounds more like my life, yah.

Confectioner's sugar is a snap to find at the store. Extra fine sugar can be made in a food processor (dump regular granulated sugar in and buzz it for 1 minute.) Parchment paper for the cookie sheets is easy, and I got mine at Sur La Table. I also picked up some jam, honey, blueberries, and limes at the store for filling.

I separated my egg whites on Saturday morning as suggested. I saved the yolks to make filling. Both stayed in the fridge.

Second - Filling
This is a whole separate post, but I suggest doing this before you bake your cookies. I feel like it frees up your mind to ponder the nuances of the macaron.

Next - Almost Ready
Sunday morning I got the egg whites out of the fridge about 2 hours before I wanted to begin. I cleaned all of my cooking utensils to prevent contamination of any lingering savory flavors. I assembled my pastry bag, which incidentally I am missing parts for. I was left using a star tip instead of a round tip, and it worked fine. I lined 2 cookie sheets with parchment, because I don't own a silpat. The parchment must be cut to fit slightly smaller than the cookie sheet so curling edges don't deform your macarons.

Not perfect in shape, but light and chewy

Fourth - Dough
The big annoying job is sifting the almond flour (grainy and homemade by me) with the confectioners sugar. I only have a strainer with semi-small holes. My cookies as a result have semi-large crumbs of almond giving them a speckled appearance. Next, I whipped my egg whites, perfectly. Yes, the only step I correctly followed. Folding, my advice, just go slow, and use a spatula. I didn't dye my dough. I couldn't bring myself to make a mistake and create some awful puke colored cookies.

Loading and piping the dough out of the pastry bag is tricky. The slack dough likes to ooze out of the bag before you are ready*. Its tempting to pump out the cookies quickly. Many of my cookies were oval or odd and not even sized. I was happy to walk away from them for 20 minutes to let the skin form.

*Note: My directions indicate beating whites to a medium peak, but I'm finding lots of recipes indication whipping to stiff peaks. I will try this next time. I think my oozing dough might have been under whipped.

Fifth - Baking
The macarons I baked on a thin sheet cookie did better than the insulated sheet, and I don't know why. My first batch started to crack, so I put a wooden spoon in the oven door, and no more cracking! The smell was perfect, and I was pretty happy to see a nice bubbley foot, which is the rough bottom edge of the macaron. Damn this is a complicated cookie.

Nice foot! Some of my macarons cracked. This one is a little over-done.
Pale edges and bottom, not golden, have a chewier taste.

The recipe yielded about 90 cookies, to make 45 macarons, minus a handful of broken cookies. I filled with almond honey paste, lime curd, and berry jam. They are going to be served to lucky people at a 4th of July event this week. I'm keeping them in my freezer for now. My cookies are not french or perfect. They are rustic looking, but very very very good. The lime curd is my favorite. I feel like I have barely gotten to know this complicated cookie, shall I may try again.

Pt 1 Macarons - Parisian Style

I got my hands on a real Parisian Macaron recipe based on Christian Godneau instructions. Macarons are the essence of air. Egg whites whipped, folded with a few dry ingredients and baked to until crunchy and a touch chewy. The dainty cloud like cookies are sandwiched with whatever gooey delight your mind can dream up between. The recipe is a simple list of ingredients, that require the utmost skill and technique, a few specific kitchen tools (pastry bag and icing tips, silpat/parchment paper, standing mixer, sifter/sieve)and experience. The recipe is more tips than steps.

French Macarons:

12.5 oz or 3 1/4 confectioner's (powdered sugar)
6.33 oz or 2 cups almond flour
5 egg whites (brought to room temperature)
2 oz or 4 tblsp extra fine granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 350.

Sift the almond flour with the confectioner's sugar, and pick out large almond bits which were not ground finely.

In a standing mixer whip the egg whites on medium speed until soft, or past the foamy stage. Gradually add the fine granulated sugar and continue to whip until medium peaks form.

Remove bowl from the standing mixer, and hand fold in the sifted almond and confectioner's sugar. Dough will be slack and fall in ribbons. Add food coloring to dough, color represents filling, so pink=berry or green= pistachio etc.

Attach a 1/2 inch round icing tip to the end of a pastry bag, fill with dough. Pipe quarter-sized circles onto a silpat lined cookie tray. Allow to rest for 20 minutes or more until a dull skin forms. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Cool, and fill. Example fillings include: fruit jam, lemon curd, mocha butter cream, chocolate ganache, pistachio/nut paste, salted caramel, etc.

Key Tips to Remember:
-- Best made on dry days. Humidity prevents the cookies from properly drying out and egg whites from whipping well.
-- Make sure your tools are exceptionally clean. Keep water away from your standing mixture, your whites will never firm.
-- Pre-crack the whites, and let sit uncovered in the fridge for 1-2 days. Is this an evaporation thing? Could be, I don't know what this step is about.
-- Keep the handle of a wooden spoon in the door of your oven to prevent it from getting too hot. I found this tip on serious eats where you will find another tutorial.
--If cracks appear in your cookies:
--a- your oven is too hot
--b- too much humidity in the air
--c- egg whites were over-beaten
--d- dough was too moist, allow to form more of a skin/dry before baking
--e- the almond flour contains too much fat
--f- all of the above

Even if you screw up, your macarons will taste great. Dive right in and make some mistakes. You can tell all of your family and co-workers about it while they delight in your hard work. Thanks to Claire Michie for sending me the info.

Final Note: These are macarons not coconut mounded macaroons, but those are tastey too.

Almost Fatoosh

Fatoosh is a Middle Eastern salad normally topped with toasted and crushed pita chips, and signature sumac, a delightfully sour seasoning. I don't have any pita chips, but I still have a ton of vegetables.

1/2 cucumber, diced
1/2 tomato, diced
2 green onions, chopped
5 radishes, diced
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sumac (optional)
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 tsp dried mint, or 1 tblsp fresh chopped
pepper to taste
1 tblsp olive oil

Mix it all up and eat! Fatoosh tastes better if you let it sit for about 2 hours. Its a pretty and refreshing salad to bring to a cook out and compliments meat exceptionally well.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Garlic Zucchini & White Beans

Radicchio: nature's favorite shade of magenta offsets that charred zucchini just so.

Out with reflection and commentary on meals, right back in to recipe writing, starting now:

Garlic Zucchini & White Beans

1 tblsp olive oil
1 large zucchini, sliced into half moons about 1/8 inch thick
salt / pepper / red pepper (to taste)
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
8 cloves garlic
1 tsp white wine
(I use dry vermouth, cheaper & last longer then just white wine in the fridge)
1/2 head radicchio, thinly sliced
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
2 cans white beans
(cannellini, small white, butter beans, navy beans, or chickpeas)
more salt pepper and oil to finish

Heat oil over high heat in a large skillet. Add the zucchini, salt, pepper, red pepper and nutmeg. Stir to coat. Let is sit for about 4-6 minutes, but don't go away. You are looking for a good brown crust on the zucchini. Stir once, and wait another 4-6 minutes, trying to turn over exceptionally uncooked pieces so they get more heat. Add the garlic and stir every 4 minutes, cooking until all zucchini are a deep golden-brown and garlic is toasted. Lower heat and add the white wine. Scrape the bottom of the pan to remove browned bits. Remove from the heat.

In a bowl add the radicchio, onions, and white beans. Add the cooked zucchini and garlic and stir. Finish with oil, salt, and pepper to taste.

I divided this recipe up into 4 containers, and boom, lunch, for most of the week. Also I cooked mine in the grease leftover from a hamburger, that I fried as I cut my veggies. Is that too carnivorous? I decided to write olive oil in its place, but still the zucchini tasted assertively better from the grease.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

csa week 1

Above average amazing tasting csa share, which I laid out on my floor with care.
It was hardly fitting on my kitchen table to photograph for the blog-o-sphere.

Does a 14-16 inch zucchini seem obscene? How about 2 of them? Today was the first week of my csa (culturally sponsored agriculture) pickup for 2009. Its my 3rd year and 3rd farmer. The farm van arrived 30 minutes late, but it was jammed with the largest variety and portion of vegetables I've ever received. In previous years I've signed up with farms named something like Garden of Dirt or Shady Root Farms. This year I got Jorge, and I got to say hi and thanks to his help Hector. This is already so much better. Here is the contents:

Lettuce, 1 head
zucchini, 2 obese ones, about 4 pounds total
cucumbers, 2
red beets, 7
sugar snap peas, a big bag
spring onions, 5
garlic, 2 heads
tomatoes, 2
radish, 8 big ones
turnip, 3 very hunky ones
Greens of unknown variety
(I overheard them being described as Mexican green that can be cooked like spinach)
1 dozen eggs (extra but worth it)

I pick up a full share every other week. The list above is what I am eating for the next two weeks. I will post the salads and ideas I've already whipped up for this week later on. Those vegetables aren't going to eat themselves.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Variety Spread

Brian making a hungry face at cocktail hour, devouring his anitpasto

I attended the wedding of a handsome Italian lady and serious Wyoming Western dude. It was a perfect combination of honkytonk music and Italian decadence, not to mention pretty wild. The anitpasto was enormous. I counted over 8 kinds of cured smoked ham cuts, more cheeses, countless spreads/tapenades, roasted veg, fruits, olives, a few pastas, bean salads, fresh breads plain and seasoned. Enough to make most of the guests think twice about dinner.

I have a lot to learn from these caterers.

Dinner was well organized around stations. Beef and salmon straight off giant grills behind the tables hanging off the back of the barn, pasta, salad with fixins. My favorite was the mashed potatoes served in a martini glass. You could choose from one of 4 varieties, and 20 plus toppings. Lots of people, lots of variety, and even more condiments, zero complaints.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

pangs of being black in the stomach - recipes gone bad

No updates for awhile, uuuh, yeah. There haven't been many meals in my life for a while despite my beckoning, stocked fridge. I am recovering from mother hugging food poisoning. Instead of a recipe, here is a some advice.

1) After the first upset instance, do not try to chug water to rehydrate. If you are really sick this will let loose more pain and anguish on your system.

2) Sip water, take 1 advil (cause you are in for some time and space altering cramps), wait 45 minutes.

3) If you can keep that first advil down, take a second advil with another sip of water, and wait another 45 minutes. If not, too bad, try again.

4) Now you have cramp pain under control, sort of. Sleep. You can't lose it if you are sleeping, you can have weird dreams, but much less discomfort for sure.

5) Call in sick to work, they are probably wondering about you. One time I had a friend call in for me because I couldn't speak with out crying, but oh lord that's another story.

6) After your nap, try drinking only 6 oz of water, and waiting. If you can manage this, you can try eating. I recommend instant soup or miso. Its the only thing I can keep down when I'm sick. I love and miss Batchelor's cup of soup. You can also eat one scrambled egg or dry toast, but really go for instant soup.

7) Keep yourself entertained. I tried watching 9 episodes of Lost Season 2, in a row. This was a mistake, because its getting creepy and loud noises are disturbing. I suggest reading comics. Quiet-like. Madlibs are excellent sick day entertainment.

8) The rest of my/your week may/still sucks. Be careful, and eat slowly. Definitely no coffee for a few days. I still can't stomach a meal. But I promise to post when I'm back to cooking. Right now its lots of protein powder, bananas, bagels, and instant soup.

9) Do not eat leftovers more than 5 days old! That's how I got into this mess. Being lazy, and eating old lentils. Gross.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Bittman's Flatbread

Sesame seeds make me want to eat everything.

Hot flatbread is a treasure. Its easy with practice, or if you are Mark Bitman, simple right off the block. I experimented with his 4-ingredient (one is water) flatbread from his NYT's article. I am not a purist, so I added black pepper to the batter and sesame seeds on top.

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup flour
(good flour counts in a recipe like this. I'm using King Arthur's 12 grain, which is superior)
1 big pinch salt
8 grinds pepper from a mill
1-1 1/4 cup water
sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Meanwhile in a 10-12 inch skillet, over medium heat, warm up the olive oil. The oil should generously coat the bottom of the skillet. Mix flour, salt, and pepper in a bowl. I mixed mine up in a medium cereal bowl, because this isn't a giant recipe. Whisk in 1 cup of water, mix until mostly combined. Add remaining water until batter resembles thick pancake batter. Add to the skillet, top with sesame seeds, and place entire skillet in the oven. Bake 50 minutes, cool, and serve.

I had great crust on my flatbread, but the center was moist like a bad pancake. I probably need a bigger skillet for this recipe. It could almost be called fried crust, as there isn't much rising action or other flavor to define the bread. I am excited to try making the bread with beer in place of half the water, or try another with a dollop of tahini to complete the sesame seeds on top.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Select Grade A Friends and Lamb

Sarah & I have been eating rare tender cuts for almost 10 years, and I think she's special for it.

I can't share a big hunk of meat on the bone with everyone, only a special breed willing to indulge in clams, stuffed pork chops, standing rib roasts, meatballs, and yes, lamb. These grade a friends (you know who you are) encourage me to experiment with meat-based meals (because lets face it, I can bake a mean fucking vegan cupcake, but really I'd rather eat a steak), and I lovem for it!

Leg-o-lamb, lightly seasoned & roasted, perfectly cooked, and an expression of love.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Maraschino Cherries

Cherry made merry in brandy.

I had a revelation when a friend informed me that she had been fed a real maraschino cherry at her high class restaurant job. A few nights later I dumped half a cup of juicy cherries into a glass jar with some brandy and waited overnight. In the morning they were still just cherries. Bah! So I did some online research and discovered that only one step was keeping me from the ultimate fruit and booze combo. Here is my version:

1/2 cup brandy (I use Mr. Boston Blackberry Brandy)
2 heaping tablespoons of sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 heaping cup of cherries, washed and stems removed

Bring the first six ingredients to a boil, stirring to dissolve. Add the cherries, lower heat to medium and let bubble for 7 minutes. Cool and store in a glass jar for up to 2 weeks.

Its true, the syrup tastes a little like cough syrup, but the cherries are magic. Perfect for the top of a very adult sundae, or other mind-boggling yet to be had recipes. I think next time I'll try more of a cognac thing, which may require more sugar. Mr. Boston Brandy is darn sweet.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

sun moon stars heavenly spice cookies

No recipe here just a shot of Mrs. Rampulla's molded, delicious, tender ginger cookies as presented at her daughter's (Andrea Anne Andy Rose Rampulla now Greenlee) bridal shower held this weekend in Kutztown, PA.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

berry crumble from a mumbler

Sweet bursting are coming to the grocery stores. I made this crumble (too lazy to make a crust) based loosely on Bon Appetite's Mixed-Berry pie recipe this month. It was a grand and not-too-heavy ending to a wonderful catfish dinner.

1 quart strawberries
1 pint blueberries
1 pint blackberries
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon blackberry brandy (optional)
Juice of 1 medium lemon

Zest of 1 medium lemon
Zest of 1 orange
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons cold butter
1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
1/8 teaspoon almond flavoring

cold water

1/2 cup whole raw almonds, chopped coarsely

Preheat oven to 375. Wash berries and add to a 9x9 baking dish. Mix in next four ingredients, and bake in oven for 25 minutes, and remove from over

Add the next 8 ingredients in a food-processor to make the streusel-like topping. Pulse until ingredisnets form a medium crumb. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time until large loose crumbs form. Stop before the mix becomes sticky. Fold in chopped almonds.

Sprinkle topping over the half baked fruit. Put back in stove and cook for another 45 minutes, or until top is browned. You may want to put a baking sheet under the dish in the oven, to catch splattering berry juice. Cool at least one hour. Definitely serve with ice cream. Feeds 4-6.

Somthing Simple for Breakfast

Its easier to get your hands on a single potato then a slice of bread for my one slice of toast morning carb fix. Homefries have a much stronger satisfaction level. An approach to making perfectly cooked brown on the outside creamy on the inside potatoes is better than a recipe, and here goes:

oil/fresh bacon grease (enough to generously fill a skillet)
1 small-medium tater
red pepper flakes

- cube the potato into 1/2" cubes, smaller is okay, not bigger!
(if you want to cook up some bacon now is a good time to start while soaking)
- fill a pot with cold water and soak the cubes 5-10 min, to remove excess starch
- drain and pat with a towel
- Heat 9" or larger skillet on medium high so oil/bacon fat is talking and spitting
- throw in the cubes, season, turn to coat
- do not touch those tatoes, put a lid on and let steam for 3 minutes
- remove lid, turn, and then don't touch, another 3-4 cooking without the lid, repeat until all sides are brown
- eat, or in my case add hot sauce and eat!

Serves 1-2. If you increase the servings, you must use a bigger skillet. Good contact with the pan makes for nice browning. These are the skills, practice, enjoy, and impress your brunch happy friends.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Roasted Pineapple Salsa

Nothing says its the weekend like having the time to buy, peel, slice, and roast a pineapple. Not like I'm as efficient as this lady, but I have technique.

Roasted Pineapple Salsa

1 big pineapple
(test ripeness by smelling the very bottom looking for a fresh pineapple smell)
1 medium red onion, diced
1 jalapeno, finely diced, keep seeds for extra heat
1 bunch cilantro or curly parsley, chopped
1 juice & zest of 1 lemon
1 juice & zest of 1 lime
salt and pepper
dash of olive oil

Peel and core your pineapple. Slice into 1/4" pieces and scatter onto a broiler pan. Broil for 7-10 minutes, or until beginning to blacken. A grill would be best if you have it. Allow to cool and chop into bite size piece. Add all ingredients into a bowl and let sit for about 10 minutes before eating.

Eat it with chips, or as a side for shrimp, pork or broiled tofu. I put mine with some black eyed peas.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

grapefruit and romaine

I pretty much eat the same things every week. Whats fresh and whats on sale are often the same through a month, and contribute to how I pick my food. Grapefruit(first bright red in January and dulled down to the whitish kind now) have been 5 for $2. I eat them right out of the peel like an orange.

This evening called for something different. I wanted to finish off the morning's half grapefruit and get some salad in me before my basketball game. The following simple salad pleased and refreshed in a modern way:

1 grapefruit, quartered, peel sliced off, and roughly chopped
6 big leaves off romaine lettuce
1 tablespoon flax seed meal
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 drizzles of olive oil

Put everything in a bowl and toss! Feeds 2. If you can cut up the grapefruit in you hands over the bowl, your salad will benefit from the juicy drippings.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pink and Pickeled

A mini-dinner party this month highlighted a new winning side dish. Pickled onions! Easy, pretty and tasty. I didn't have to even explain to guests how to eatem. They were devoured. I've been topping salads and beans with the leftover pickling juice. Incredible.

Make em this way:

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced into half moons
1 jalapeno pepper, quartered length-wise, use seeds for a super kick, or leave out
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar

Put all the ingredients in a glass jar. Close tightly with lid. Shake vigorously. Place in fridge at least 12 hours before serving. Serve!

The onions should keep for a few weeks. I used them as an accompaniment to kabobs. The pickled gems would be good with anything. Try: on a sandwich or burger, next to pork, on top of steamed veggies, with your rice and beans, garnishing a dip, in some slaw, or 1000s of undiscovered places.