Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Taco Rainbow


Found these cactus tortillas at Monterey Market, roasted gypsy peppers and steamed purple potatoes for an alternative to taco night. Sauteed leeks and chard, and added some of the pinto beans I made earlier in the day. The results aren't particularly authentic, but celebrate the best of what's fresh, and make for leftovers that I'm going to enjoy right now.
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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Grilled Pizza Success


Put together a super-team for pizza grilling, with results bordering on perfection. I've grilled pizza before, but never have I ended up with such magnificent pizza: Thin and crunchy crust with just a hint of smokiness, toppings like chanterelles and tallegio.

One note for future reference: mature dandelion greens are really, really bitter. The sort of bitter that no advice from Mark Bittman about braising and lemon acidity can counteract. We ended up composting it because it was simply inedible. I'm stiking to young dandelion greens from now on.
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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Carnitas at La Costa in Brentwood


We stumbled across this place (a local chain, as it turns out, in Brentwood) on our way back from Bear Valley a few years ago, and were blown away by the carnitas. Flavorful, chewy and crisp, we then talked about them for a year-and-a-half before planning a Delta trip with the purpose of eating here again. Here is the documentation of that second trip, this time with Monica, Frank, Matt (pictured), Kathyn, Nathan, and Joel. We took a rather strange naturalist-guided boat trip, stopped in at Locke and then at that bar with all the animal heads, and ended the afternoon with these carnitas.
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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Love for Old Kitchens


At least in fabulous and well preserved historic homes. This one is from Vikingsholm in Tahoe.
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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Camping Food


I call this Junk Food Chicken, because it has a sort of junk-food sweetness to it. It's a combination of shredded chicken, chipotles, vinegar, brown sugar, ketchup, soy sauce, and a few other ingredients, all simmered together and then put into tacos or burritos with some cooling avocado. I made a big batch for a lunch while we were camping.
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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Caprese with Burrata? Oh My Yes


I spend most of the year looking forward to the dry-farmed tomatoes from SeaLevel Farms. To me, they're everything tomatoes should be: small, with a dense consistency, not an ounce of mealiness, and flavor that makes me, for a brief moment, believe that there is nothing in the universe beyond this one bite.

And while run-of-the-mill fresh mozarella is always a lovely accompaniment, I wanted to take it a step further and make it with burrata, since if I get in early enough on Saturdays, I have a great source for it.

Finish that off with the tiniest bit of arbequina olive oil, a little aged balsamic, some sea salt and freshly ground pepper, and I was almost there. I just needed a bit of basil.

For years, I had trouble growing basil. When I purchased the basil plant, it would be lush and thriving, but within weeks, it would wither. I experimented with different amounts of water and shade, put them in the ground and in pots, and just couldn't find the right happy basil equation. But then someone at the Schoolyard mentioned that basil likes to grow in the shade of tomato plants. I had immediate success with that approach, and now each year in spring I plant a large pot with one of two tomato plants (usually purchased from the Edible Schoolyard's Mother's Day sale) and a variety of interesting basil. And that ensures fabulous basil (not to mention tomatoes) all summer long.
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Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Joys of Research


Ice cream is gorgeous. It's the supermodel of frozen desserts. Sure, its career is fleeting, but it's just so damned photogenic when it's at the top of its game.

I didn't really appreciate this fact until I wrote America's Best Ice Cream Shops, which published today. I've always known ice cream tastes delicious, but just look at the photos in this gallery, and you'll see what I mean. Ice cream transcends the medium, offering the hint of a taste even in its two-dimensional form.

Thanks to Kathryn for the picture!
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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Butternuts porkslap?


Is it a yes please, or no thanks?

Instead of figuring it out, I opted for cilanto-lime soda with vodka.
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Blueberry Galette


I like to think of it as the lazy cook's pie. In the equation, I am said lazy cook. There's no trimming rolled-out dough to fit a tin, no weighting down, no crimping, no blind-baking before filling. It's little more than rolling out the chilled dough, heaping it full of fruit, folding up the edges, and baking. But it tastes perfect every time, and it's the pie equivalent of "Supper is dinner with its shirt undone. It's relaxed, languid, louche." (Yes, I just quoted from the Leftover Supper episode of Posh Nosh; watch it here.)

Blueberries seemed like just the thing for the Fourth, so trusty sous-chef (who said she feels like a little sister whenever she cooks at my house) Anna and I, armed with two quarts of pesticide-free blueberries from Stockton, created this one.

Details: After AJ said they don't use shortening at the bakery, I switched my go-to dough recipe from Macrina (which uses shortening) to the Chez Panisse Cafe version. Here it is:

(makes enough for 2 galettes; freeze one and you'll make your future self very happy)

2 c all-purpose flour
1 t sugar
1/4 t salt
6 oz (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter

Combine the flour, sugar, salt in a bowl, then cut the butter into 1/2 inch pieces. Add half the butter and work in with fingertips (or in the food processor- this recipe doesn't mention it, but I'm pretty sure I remember Mark Bittman saying it was okay) until the dough has the texture of coarse oatmeal. Add the rest of the butter and work into the dough until the biggest pieces are lima-bean sized. Pour about 1/2 c of ice water into the dough in several stages, tossing and mixing between additions. Don't try to dampen dough evenly; it should look ropy and rough. Stop adding water when there are still a few bits of dry flour remaining. Gather dough into 2 balls and wrap each tightly with plastic wrap, pressing down to flatten each. Refrigerate several hours or overnight before rolling (may be frozen for a few weeks).

Roll the ball into a 14-inch circle on a lightly floured board. Refrigerate the rolled-out dough for 1/2 hour before using (I always forget this step, but it still comes out well).

As for the filling, here's a good way to go for most fruit: Mix and sprinkle over the dough the following: 2 T sugar, 1 T ground-up almonds, 1 T flour. Heap about 1 1/4 fruit on top, leaving a 2-inch border to fold over. Spinkle fruit with about 2-3 T sugar. Fold up the border, then brush it with a bit of melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Cook at 400 for 40-50 minutes. Let it cool for 15 minutes or so.
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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tested: Sesame Chicken with Noodles


Tested and loved these noodles with sesame chicken. This one is getting a place in the rotation.
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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Cucumber Spoon Salad


I so wish this picture were better, because spoon salad is so pretty and so delicious, it really deserves to be properly celebrated.

I came across cucumber spoon salad at Oleana in Cambrige with Anne. We ordered the tasting menu, and this was my absolute favorite. It's so totally surprising, with layers like sorrel granita and flavors including cucumber, dill, red onion, and grapes. Love.
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Monday, April 12, 2010

When In Nebraska ...


Make vinegar rolls. Joel's dad's family reunion in Northeastern Nebraska brought all new culinary frontiers. I had been hearing about the fabled vinegar roll (a Depression-era holdover that Joel's dad's generation talks about but doesn't actually feel the need to make or eat anymore) for a while, and so when someone said they had the recipe, I volunteered to make it.

It was ... okay? In all fairness, I didn't follow the recipe fully. I just couldn't believe that you actually needed 10 cups of vinegar for this thing. So it came out kind of dry. Ah well, next time. Or not.
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Monday, February 8, 2010

You Are: Delicious


Sprouted garbanazo beans, lovely fresh dates, and crunchy almonds. A lovely way to greet guests. (Full disclosure: I had originally intended to fry/roast the garbanzo beans, but ended up not having time.)
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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Tapas in Puerto Vallarta


Should have posted this one earlier, but just getting around to it now. We went to Puerto Vallarta to eat, mostly. We ate at taco trucks, traditional Mexican restaurants, and to mix things up, a vegetarian restaurant with this totally crazy (delicious) cactus juice. We also walked just up the street from our B&B to go to this off-the-beaten path tiny tapas joint for a light meal one evening.
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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Best Tacos We Had in Puerto Vallarta


Little stand, lotta locals. We followed the scent for the last block, then ordered at the little window and grabbed two stools. The women behind the counter outfitted us with our tacos and three options of salsa (hot, hotter, and you-cannot-withstand-the-heat). The tacos were small but packed with flavor. And the flavor didn't depend just on the filling; the freshly made tortillas tasted of comfort and corn, and were so warm I needed the little piece of wax paper to pilot the taco. Both chicken and beef were slightly spicy and had the wonderful flavors of fire.
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