Love to eat

Made and Ate This Week

Posted: October 3rd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Everyday | No Comments »

The Bounties of the CSA Box: Oh, what to do with cabbage, eggplant, fennel, and parsnips …

Farfalle with Chanterelles, Summer Squash, Corn, and Brown Butter Sauce

In

  • Broiled rainbow trout with a quick tomato sauce (tomatoes from the yard, onions, oil cured olives, fennel seed, fennel liqueur, red pepper flake), and sauteed haricot verts
  • Farfalle with chanterelles, summer squash, corn, and brown butter sauce topped with toasted breadcrumbs … adapted from Sunday Suppers at Luques
  • Long cooked romano beans … from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook
  • Carrot soup … adapted from Chez Panisse Vegetables
  • Stuffed savoy cabbage … adapted from Chez Panisse Vegetables
  • Morning Glory Muffins … from King Arthur Flour: Whole Grain Baking
  • Eggplant salsa … one of my favorites!?

Out

  • Veggie dog with lettuce, tomato, sauerkraut; garlic fries; and Kettle corn … ballpark food!
  • Vietnamese pancake, fresh spring rolls, vermicelli bowl … Green Leaf

Sesame Eggplant Salsa

Posted: October 3rd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Everyday | 1 Comment »

I’m always suspect of a person who flat out says I don’t like X or I don’t like Y. Immediately I am on the defensive for X or Y — “what is it you don’t like about X?” … “well, then, have you tried X this way? or Y that way?” That said, I’m for the most part convinced that I don’t like eggplant. There hasn’t been a preparation that really does it for me. Eggplant parmesan doesn’t count, as anything breaded, fried, immersed in tomato sauce, and baked with cheese is delicious. This “salsa” is one of the exceptions to the sourpuss that usually ends up on my face when eating the typically seedy, slithery, bitter thing that is eggplant.

Sesame Eggplant Salsa

Adapted from Bon Appetit

2-1 to 1 1/4 pound eggplants
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3/4 cup (packed), plus 1 tablespoon minced green onion
2-1/2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves minced
2 teaspoons of chili-garlic sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 large plum tomatoes, seeded, chopped
3/4 cup (packed), plus 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
1-1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

Preheat the oven to 400-degrees. Pierce egglplants all over with a fork. Place on a baking sheet and roast in the oven until they are very soft and deflated, about 1 hour,  turning once. Cool slightly.

Cut eggplants in half; scrape flesh into a strainer set over a large bowl. Let eggplants drain 30 minutes. Coarsely chop the eggplant (or if you prefer a smoother consistency, pulse in a food processor).

Heat vegetable oil in a heavy, large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 3/4 cup green onions, ginger, garlic, chili-garlic sauce; saute just until onions soften, about 45 seconds. Stir in brown sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Mix in eggplant and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in tomatoes, 3/4 cup cilantro, and sesame oil. Cool to room temperature. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made one day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

Serve with crackers or pita chips.

Makes about 4 cups.


Buckwheat Pancakes

Posted: September 26th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Everyday | 1 Comment »

Fascinating. Buckwheat is a seed? Not a grain? Yup. It’s also related to rhubarb? Crazy! Plus it’s good for you, especially if you skew towards vegetarianism.  it’s one of the of the few plant-based foods with all nine essential amino acids – the building blocks of protein. No need to add a side of beans to these pancakes.

Buckwheat Pancakes

Adapted from King Arthur Flour: Whole Grain Baking

1 cup whole buckwheat flour
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus enough milk to make 2 cups (or 2 cups of straight up buttermilk, but who has buttermilk?)
1 tablespoon butter, melted

In a medium bowl, combine the buckwheat and all-purpose flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a smaller bowl, beat the egg lightly with the molasses. Whisk in the milk and lemon juice mixture and melted butter. Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Stir the batter swiftly with a few strokes until the dry ingredients are moistened.

On medium to medium low, heat a nonstick or cast iron pan until it’s hot enough that a drop of water sputters across the surface (if using a cast iron pan, brush it lightly with vegetable oil). Spoon batter on to the pan, 1/4 cup at a time. Cook until bubbles begin to form around the edges, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the pancake and cook for another minute.

Note: The batter is dark colored, so be vigilant as it is difficult to tell if the pancakes are over cooked.


Scarlet Runner Beans

Posted: September 20th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Everyday | No Comments »

So Gorgeous, Will Try Again Next Year

Shelled Scarlet Runner Beans

Scarlet Runner Beans

Early in the spring I planted about five scarlet runner beans in a nasty little corner of my yard next to a chain link fence. My hopes weren’t particularly high and rightly so. The slugs and snails attacked the leaves as soon as they were big enough to feast upon and I did little to stop them. But the heartiest of the plantings produced a few gorgeous beans. I gasped when I popped open the leathery pod and found these purple and pink beauties. I half expected unicorns to be nestled alongside the carnival colored beans. The beans were large — nearly an inch long — and when braised in wine with fennel and cherry tomatoes, had an incredibly rich and velvety texture. Next year these will definitely be a star in my garden. Watch out slugs.


The Independent Pizzeria

Posted: September 16th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Everyday | No Comments »
The Menu

The Menu

The Pizza

The Pizza

My New Favorite

I feel guilty saying it, but I have a new favorite place for pies in the city. Flying Squirrel had been it and I so want it to be it. It’s in my hood, it’s run by some of sweetest folks around, and their pizza and sauce is awesome. But dammit, The Independent Pizzeria is jaw dropping.

TIP’s crust is light, airy, and has the puff of a Neopolitan style, but it is crunchy AND chewy. It has the dotted char and a course, freckled texture that adds to the crispness. There is so much restraint in the sauce and the toppings that it makes me momentarily proud to be Catholic — indulgent and delicious, but not too much so.

One can see for themselves that restraint and mastery, watching the pizza maker behind the counter in the open kitchen. And even though there’s a pink-maned My Little Pony perched on the counter between bottles of olive oil and miniature jars of red pepper flake, you can tell he isn’t messing around.


Good Bye Summer 2010

Posted: September 3rd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Everyday | No Comments »

This was a memorable summer and for me, the meals are the memories.

It was a weird, busy, delicious summer no doubt. The weather was random, making the local food scene unpredictable and there were some firsts, a few obsessions, and the most important meal of my grownup life.  Here’s a quick recap of a few Summer 2010 memories that I can conjure.

Menu

Menu

Appetizer

Appetizer

Soup

Soup

Salad

Salad

Shellfish

Shellfish

Sorbet

Sorbet

Entree

Entree

Dessert

Dessert

Chef

Chef

Summer 2010 Recap

The Most Important Meal of My Life

At 35 I got married right. It was a small wedding built around a seven course meal reflecting the values of our times (and hopefully of the times to come): local, minimal impact, delicious foods.  The chef accomodated some challenging requirements including, food allergies, vegans, vegetarians, pescetarians, picky eaters, and a three year old … and there were only 21 of us!

Pizza, Pizza, Pizza

We eat a lot of pizza. Every year. Every season. But this year I think we broke a record, which is easy to understand considering the recent explosion of pizza options in Seattle. We ordered the seasonal broccoli raab pizza with ricotta instead of sausage at Flying Squirrel so many times they revised the menu to include our version. We ate at five pizza places in Seattle in a single day: Proletariat (if you haven’t been, GO NOW), Madame K’s (sad they’re gone), Veraci, Snoose Junction, and a New York Pizza Place. In San Francisco, we managed to squeeze in three pizza places in a day: Golden Boy, Delfino, and a slice from the place next door to the Toronado.

Chefs

Better late than never, right? We joined the Top Chef party this summer and have watched seasons 1 through 5 in marathon fashion, plus two seasons of Top Chef Masters. It was a guilty pleasure until I found out that chefs watch it too (and not just the wannabes like myself). In my teens and early twenties it was all about the local musicians, now, it’s all about the chefs.

Vegetables

This summer was my first as a CSA patron/subscriber/member and I will definitely sign up again next year. It’s like Christmas — each week getting a box of mystery produce. The variety and surprise has stretched my everyday repertoire. For example, I got a gorgeous bulb of fennel one week. I love fennel,  but don’t really buy it or cook it, until now. I braised the shit out of the fennel, with some white wine, olive oil, herbs, cherry tomatoes, and scarlet runner beans, and damn it was delicious. In addition to the weekly CSA box, my garden is bursting with black kale, swiss chard, beets, and tomatoes – the majority of which will likely never ripen.

Spring Hill Saimin

Damn You Pork Belly

Vegetarian > Pescetarian > Carnivore > “Vegetarian”

For well over a decade I was a strict vegetarian. That’s a pretty long time, right? I don’t need to feel too guilty for abandoning that lifestyle, right? No? Phew, that’s what I thought. A steamy, delicious bowl of saimin at Spring Hill’s brunch marked the end of my days as a vegetarian. The two toothsome, fatty, smoky, salty squares of pork belly in that broth changed everything. Meat tastes good. It has richness and depth that no plant matter can replicate. No, not even dried porcinis or engineered, fermented, compressed, dried, and rehydrated frankengluten. That said, the thought of industrial meat makes my stomach turn, so these days I practice “vegetarianism” (i.e. mostly vegetarian until presented with something too delicious, too pure, too coddled to turn down).


Clearly the Yard of a Cooking Enthusiast

Posted: May 24th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Everyday | 1 Comment »

This year I intend to be a better, more attentive vegetable gardener.

The barriers that have kept me from being a vegetable gardener in years past have been, for the most part, dismantled. I’ve traded my 60+ hour a week job that forced me into frequent business travel for a more balanced (and yippee food-focused) job that doesn’t require me to travel; I’ve actually read half a book on organic gardening; and now that I’m not that young anymore, I don’t mind coming home promptly to water my little seedlings. Now, it’s just my limited knowledge of soil and the particular needs of the plants and my anal, exacting nature that need to be rectified.

Growing things to eat suits my slow, contemplative nature. I am a patient person – at least most of the time. However, I like to blast dried beans in the pressure cooker, as I usually find I want beans NOW or 35 minutes from now and not after an overnight soak and I frequently burn asparagus put too close to the broiler because I want to eat asparagus in 5 minutes, not 10. But there is no rushing the incremental preparation of food coaxed from a seed.

flowers

eh, flowers

Being that it is now late May, my yard is an explosion of garish colors. Yes, yes that hot pink bush is bright. Yes, yes those irises are impressive, bowing low from the weight of their heavy blossoms. But it is the more monochromatic greens, light greens, dark greens, and variegated lime yellows of the numerous herbs and vegetables scattered throughout my yard that thrill me and have me anxiously counting the hours of sunlight.

Since first cutting the soil in the yard of this, my first, house I have planted almost nothing but edibles. I’ve kept most of the flowering whatnots that came with the house, moving beds of this and that into more contained quarters and much to the dismay of my neighbors, completing removing an unwieldy patch of “prize-winning dahlias, reallocating the prime spaces for vegetable beds and herbs.

herbs

one herb patch

Patches of thyme in several varieties dot my yard along with stands of greek oregano (as many as I can wedge into the yard – the stuff is so freakin good … more to come on that one), sage, chives, rosemary, lavender, mint, and spearmint.

greek oregano

greek oregano

chives

chives

The vegetables require more time. Having waited until late April to put seeds out, the only notable growth has been the arugula, which has been a joy. Last year I planted the arugula seeds too early and they perished in a unseasonably late cold spell.

arugula

arugula ... just days away from salad time

Coming up is a bounty of greens: black kale and swiss chard, beets, three kinds of potatoes, summer squash, scarlet runner beans, and four kinds of tomatoes. I’ve done my job, now sun, do yours.


It’s a lousy blogger who …

Posted: May 14th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Everyday | 1 Comment »

… obsesses over eating, lives to eat, dreams of eating, and aspires to write about eating when not eating, but is a complete failure at taking photos of the food.

While I enjoy food porn as much as the next person, I’m just no good at making it myself. I think of being a tourist: camera sashed around the neck, snapping away ceaselessly, making a futile attempt to capture the fleeting magic of a moment. Or maybe it’s because when a glorious plate is presented to me, the last thing I think about is taking a picture. I lose my ability to think as a good blogger might, when said glorious plate overwhelms my senses. But those little cameras are everywhere and I commend those with the iron will to take a moment, stifle the urge to become immediately immersed, and snap one digital moment for posterity.

Here’s an example.

pizza al taglio

These are photos of my favorite pizza al taglio (pizza by the cut) place in Rome. Quite full and in a cherry tomato and chicory stupor, I managed to snap a couple of the storefront and the front counter on my way out. No pizza in sight.

Another example.

Clean plates at the now defunct Txori. Yup, it was beautiful and delicious. Honest.  Take my word for it.

Final example.

… and here’s an example of a moment when I was able to take pause. I present the impromptu holiday cheeseball, which may become a family tradition. In a drunken fit of inspiration after hours and hours of cooking the holiday feast, I was inspired to raid my parents pantry to see if a cheeseball of Hickory Farms proportions could be constructed. Behold. Much tastier than it looks. The folks even had Ritz crackers and a meat stick.