A quick spread for crusty bread or crackers. It's also great with sliced pears or apples.
December 24, 2008
A quick spread for crusty bread or crackers. It's also great with sliced pears or apples.
November 27, 2008
November 20, 2008
November 1, 2008
October 28, 2008
The Seattle Food and Wine Experience was huge fun! I attended the show as a food correspondent for Foodbuzz. If you haven't checked out Foodbuzz yet, you should! I tasted something like 30 wines and champagnes (there were a thousand available, but I had to pace myself!), discovered some new products, ate delectable small plates from several Seattle restaurants, picked up some recipes, but, mostly, enjoyed talking with people who are passionate about food, wine, cooking and eating.
Nearly all the mini entrees were excellent and I'm still going back and forth between two of them for my favorite taste of the show. I think Rover's chef Thierry Rautureau's Elk Bourguignon on Farro alongside Braised Rabbit with White Beans and Tomato just barely edged out my second choice. Barely. And that's only because I'm such a wild game freak. The elk was allowed to be itself in a sauce with hints of cinnamon and other 'warm' spices. Nothing overwhelmed - the flavors were perfectly balanced. And the "pop" of the farro grains was a nice counterpoint to the tender meat. The rabbit was shredded and tender, subtly flavored. Perhaps a little too subtly, but it is easy to bury the flavor of rabbit. I went back for seconds at the end of the day.
Next highest honors I give to Barking Frog chef Bobby Moore's Grand Marnier Prawns, which are the best prawn anything to ever pass my lips. The coating was sumptuous, creamy, with a perfectly light citrus flavor. The prawns were a major hit with everyone I talked to and chef Moore was kind enough to have the printed recipe there to share with his salivating crowd. Besides being a symphony in my mouth, they looked absolutely gorgeous. Food porn at its finest! These sensuous mouthfuls were enough to make me moan. And I did.
GRAND MARNIER PRAWNS
Exec. Chef Bobby Moore
20 peeled and deveined large prawns
1 1/2 c. cornstarch
1 c. Grand Marnier
4 c. orange juice
3 T. dried orange zest, pulsed in coffee grinder
2 c. mayonnaise
For the sauce, add the Grand Marnier to a sauce pan and burn off the alcohol, cool immediately. Reduce in a separate pan the orange juice to a syrup and cool immediately. Combine the Grand Marnier, orange syrup and pulsed orange zest powder with the mayonnaise and refrigerate.
To cook the prawns, heat frying oil to 350 degrees F. Dust the prawns in the cornstarch, shaking off any excess starch. Fry the prawns until crispy (about 2 minutes) and drain on paper towels. In a large bowl, toss the hot prawns in the Grand Marnier mayonnaise to coat. Serve on skewers. (My own note: I think these would be wonderful served as a starter on mixed torn greens)
There is much more to relay about the day and I'll be doing that over the next week. Reliving the tastes has made me HUNGRY, so I'm off to the kitchen to satisfy myself. Mmmmmmmmmmmm.
October 15, 2008
This is my version of the ultimate Greek comfort food. I woke up craving this today. Pastitsio is a baked pasta layered with a spiced meat sauce and topped with a cheesy bechamel sauce. Dieters, avert your eyes! The signature flavors are nutmeg and cinnamon. Greeks (and others) often use what Americans consider "sweet" spices in meat dishes. This is loaded with eggs and butter and is guaranteed to warm the cockles of your heart on a cold evening.
October 11, 2008
October 4, 2008
It's raining sideways here and I expect one or two of my chickens to blow by the window at eye level any minute. In thinking that, it got me thinking of ... food. On a blustery day like this, what with the odd chicken possibly being knocked unconscious, a nice pot of mean rooster stew with dumplings seemed just the thing. Heh heh!
I've had a rooster or five over the years that ended up in a pot somehow. After about the 20th time one of them ambushes you from behind a shrub, spurs flying, it tends to make you less enamored of the gorgeous buggers. But WAIT! Lest you think this animal-loving woman has a dark side, (well, I do, but let's not visit it, shall we?) I hasten to say that any rooster I've "dispatched" has been anesthetized first. Yes, anesthetized. See, once they're dead, I have no problem bleeding, plucking, singeing, gutting and cooking them. It's that killing part I can't do. So, I have my unorthodox way. (No, the anesthetic doesn't stay in the meat) Any self-respecting true farmer is laughing his or her butt off right about now, and I'm not advocating this, it's just what I do.
And oh, the TASTE of a chicken that's been truly free range, eating bugs, berries and grass, zipping around racing the other chickens...it's nothing like the flaccid, white, bland chicken of the supermarket - poor things. So, here is my recipe. And, if you don't have a convenient rooster you're ticked off at for raping your hens and attacking you, you certainly can use store-bought chicken or turkey and have excellent results, too!
MEAN ROOSTER STEW & DUMPLINGS
a 4-5 lb. chicken, cut up
5 T. olive oil
12 pearl onions, peeled OR
1 lg. onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, cut into chunks
3 ribs celery with leaves, sliced
6-inch sprig fresh rosemary, leaves minced
3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped
2 tsp. salt
1/2 t. freshly ground pepper
2 c. flour
3 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
2 T. minced Italian parsley
1/8 t. ground nutmeg
4 T. shortening
3/4 - 1 c. very cold milk
In a large, wide stock pot, heat 3 T. olive oil. Braise chicken pieces until golden brown on all sides. Transfer chicken to a plate, discard oil but save all browned bits in bottom of pot. Add remaining 2 T. olive oil and return pan to medium heat. Add onions, garlic, carrots and celery and saute 3-5 minutes until vegetables are softening, but not browning. Stir in herbs, salt and pepper and saute briefly. Add chicken pieces back to pot and add cold water just to cover chicken. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer. Then make dumplings: Combine the dry ingredients and the parsley in a large bowl. Cut in the shortening until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Add 3/4 c. of the milk and stir briefly with a fork. Don't over mix! Add only enough of the remaining milk to make dough hold together. Once the chicken has simmered for 25 minutes, drop egg-sized spoonfuls of dough on top of the bubbling broth. Cover and steam for 20 minutes, without peeking! The cover must stay on to make the dumplings fluffy. Turn off heat, let stand a few minutes and serve in deep bowls.
September 18, 2008
September 10, 2008
It's so perfect outside, I'm soaking in all the sun and warmth I can. I'm fully into autumn-cozy mode. I'm stacking firewood - the silver lining of the horrible windstorms that downed 7 of our trees in December. We heat our house by woodstove only, so firewood is a big deal. I'm also canning, making herbed and fruited vinegars and oils, baking and doing my arty pursuits in the evenings. With the help of Reggie, of course! See how well he helps?
I hope you all are enjoying the days...
September 9, 2008
September 7, 2008
I've written before on rice, as it's my favorite food. Wild rice is a grass, like other rices, but of a different genus. True rice is of the genus Oryza and wild rice is Zizania. Wild rice and maize are the only cereals native to North America. It grows in the shallows of the Great Lakes region of Minnesota and Canada. "Manoomin" is the Ojibwe Indian word for wild rice, translated as "good seed". The Chippewa and Ojibwe tribes still harvest wild rice in the traditional way.
Native Americans harvest wild rice by canoeing into a stand of plants, and bending the ripe grain heads over the edge of the canoe, with wooden sticks called knockers, so as to thresh the seeds into the canoe. The size of the knockers, as well as other details, are prescribed in state and tribal law. (Don't get me started on the innuendos....I'm thinking I would be good at this! HA!) After knocking, the rice is parched, thrashed and winnowed. Parching is the drying of the moist rice kernels, thrashing is removing the hulls from the parched wild rice, and winnowing is separating the kernels from the hull. These steps are now mechanized, but were formerly done in the old ways, by hand and foot and birch bark containers.
True wild rice is not like the shiny, black grains usually sold commercially. The "real" stuff is brown and thinner than the cultivated variety and has a distinctly nuttier flavor. It also takes less time to cook than the cultivated type. Both, however, are delicious and healthy. Wild rice is high in protein, lysine and fiber and is gluten-free. It is high in B-vitamins and potassium.
A Minnesotan friend of ours once gave us a "share" of the Chippewa harvest of wild rice for Christmas. We had to wait until the following autumn to receive our 2 lb. share. It was worth the wait and it felt good to know the money went directly to the tribe. I've posted a recipe for wild rice salad since autumn is just about here!
September 1, 2008
Soon, I will search the woods for mushrooms. Precious gifts I carry home to my kitchen -- the smell of them almost as sublime as their taste. Their velvet caps and flutes, their feet cradled in earthy humus; I cut carefully, so they may return again. My cat, Thunder, follows me into the forest when I hunt for mushrooms. Like a truffle pig, he has often led me to groupings of mushrooms off my path. Does he know? It has happened too many times for me to question him.
The garden still has more to give ~ grapes, blackberries, tomatoes (with luck), potatoes to be dug, cabbage, leeks and lush herbs begging to be preserved in chutneys, vinegars and by drying. Summer's bounty isn't over yet. But I am ready and open to the quiet season, when my body is nestled in warmth and my mind flies.
I saw old Autumn in the misty morn stand shadowless like silence, listening to silence. Thomas Hood
August 30, 2008
I am not twenty~
No longer lean, smooth, unmarked.
Now my body is strong,
under a cloak of yielding softness.
My skin is not pearly
Nor flawlessly unlined and brown
from idle days spent perfecting
just the right look.
My scars, my cicatrices,
both inner and outer
have been earned;
often suffered for.
Reminders of where I have been.
I am not a girl
who falls asleep to dreams of possibilities.
I am a woman
who lives them.
Building on adventures lived,
planning explorations yet to come.
My body, although there is more of it now,
holds my soul.
As I am learning to be.
August 13, 2008
August 4, 2008
GAYLE'S CIME DI RAPA & CANNELLINI BEAN SALAD
2 15 oz. cans Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2/3 c. chicken or vegetable broth
1.5 lbs. cime di rapa (broccoli raab)
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
A dozen fresh sage leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Trim bottom inch or so off of the broccoli raab, then cut into 3 inch lengths. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to boil and cook until nearly tender. Drain well and transfer to salad bowl. While it is cooking, heat half of the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat and add stemmed sage leaves to the oil. Stir gently but constantly, until leaves are crispy, but don't let them turn brown. Remove leaves to a plate. Add garlic to oil and turn off heat. Don't allow garlic to brown. Heat beans, sage leaves, garlic with oil and broth in a saucepan and simmer for five minutes. Pour beans over broccoli raab and gently toss with salt and pepper, to taste. Allow to cool down to warm temperature. Just before serving, pour remaining olive oil over salad and toss once more.
Serves 4 as main course, 6 as salad course.
July 24, 2008
July 23, 2008
Organ meats, offal, or the euphemistic "variety meats" are too often overlooked (at best) or run away from, with disgusted noises issuing forth from the escapee. If only more people would try them! Most of it is a mental block, of course. At what point did we decide that muscle was the only kind of meat we should eat?
I was raised with my German great-grandmother, who grew up on a farm. Every part of a slaughtered animal was used. To throw away a good part of that animal would have been unthinkable. That sort of waste was not only a luxury, but, given the delightful flavors of the various organs, would have been a real loss to gastronomic satisfaction. When I travel to Europe, I'm always thrilled to find organ meats on the menus and available for purchase in the stores. Heaven!
I'll ease the uninitiated in and begin with tripe. The simple definition of tripe is: the lining of a cow's stomach(s). However, tripe from pigs, goats or sheep can also be called tripe. But, the beef version is the most prevalent. There are 4 kinds of tripe, just as there are 4 stomachs in a cow or other ruminant. However, only 3 are usually available commercially, and only 2 are popular. The most readily available type is "honeycomb", from the second stomach, the reticulum. It is so named because the inner side has a pattern similiar to a honeycomb. Most recipes you will find call for this type. "Blanket" or smooth tripe comes from the first stomach, the rumen. This is the type favored for menudo. The third type available is one I like very much. From the omasum, it's called "bible" "book" or "leaf" tripe due to the hanging sheets of lining coming from the stomach. The fourth type is from the Abomasum and is called "reed" tripe. But it is usually not sold or sought after, due to its glandular tissue.
Trivia: the word 'ruminate' comes from ruminant...to slowly digest something.
Tripe dishes are popular in many countries...Patsas in Greece, Drisheen in Ireland, Dobrada in Portugal, Trippa in Italy, Andouille in France, Pepperpot Soup in America and Pho soup in Vietnam, for example. Popular belief has it that tripe is a cure for hangover and for improving your sex life! So why not eat some tripe today??? Try my recipe for Trippa alla Milanese and see what you think!
July 19, 2008
Anyone who knows me will tell you that rice is my comfort food. When other women crave chocolate, I crave rice. Any form of rice will suffice! My favorite basic rice is jasmine and my favorite dish is any kind of risotto, preferably made with Vialone Nano rice. I love 'wild pecan rice' from Louisiana. It has a nutty flavor and has some of the bran left on the grain. It smells like popcorn when cooking.
Rice is a grain belonging to the grass family. Botanical name: Oryza sativa and Oryza glaberrima. The plant requires warmth and moisture to grow, measures between 2 and 6 feet tall, depending on variety. Plants have long, flat, pointy leaves and stalk-bearing flowers which produce the grain known as rice. Rice is one of the few foods in the world which is entirely non-allergenic and gluten-free.
Rice is consumed by nearly half the entire world population and many countries are completely dependent on rice as a staple food. Rice is the most widely consumed grain in the world. It feeds a third of the world’s population: 590 million tons of rice were produced in 2003. The Chinese word for rice is the same as the word for food, and in Japanese, the word for cooked rice is the same word for meal. In Thailand, when you call your family to a meal you say, “eat rice.” Americans statistically eat only 25 lbs. of rice a year - not THIS girl...I eat 15 lbs. a month! In the Phillipines, a person eats 500 lbs. of rice per year!
At some point in its early cultivation in Asia, the more labor-intensive white rice became a status symbol—the whiter the better—and thus, the preferred variety. Only the poorest people, who could not afford white rice, ate brown rice. They, however, got far better nutrition. Today, it is unfortunate, given how many people in marginal economies eat rice, that white rice is the norm. Stripped of the bran and the germ, its most nutritious parts, white rice is almost pure starch. Brown rice has essential vitamins and minerals and takes less effort to mill. It would thwart the vitamin deficiency diseases that affect many of the world’s poorest rice-eating peoples, most notably beriberi. Enriching white rice does not compensate for the vitamins, minerals and fiber stripped away from the brown rice.
There are currently some innovative programs to grow rice more effectively. The system is called SRI, which stands for System of Rice Intensification, and the method at least doubles, the rice harvest. For an in-depth article about SRI, see the NY Times article here:
Most of us will only ever try a fraction of the number of rice cultivars known. The largest collection of rice cultivars is at the International Rice Research Institute, with over 100,000 rice accessions held in the International Rice Genebank.
As to Indian rice, most people are familiar with Basmati. But this is only one of many varieties grown in India. Rice agriculture is the backbone of India’s economy, providing direct employment to about 70% of working people in the country. Rice finds applications in the arts and crafts of India. Rice paste is used in the resist-dyeing techniques of creating patterns on cloth. In traditional homes, decorative features frequently consist of wall paintings and floor patterns. It is usually women who paint renditions of folklore and mythology on domestic spaces, passed on from mother to daughter. In many parts of India, as part of daily ritual -- ephemeral, abstract designs created by women are traced in rice powder or paste on domestic thresholds and floors. These are known by various names, alpana in Bengal, mandana in Rajasthan and kolam in South India, for instance. The designs are meant to bring good luck to the home.
Over the centuries, three main types of rice had developed in Asia, depending on the amylose content of the grain. They are called indica (high in amylose and cooking to fluffy grains to be eaten with the fingers, generally long grain types), japonica (low in amylase and cooking to sticky masses suitable for eating as clumps with chopsticks, generally short to medium grain types), and javanica (intermediate amylose content and stickiness).
So, I've posted my favorite Indian rice recipe in the recipe section. The flavors are haunting and unusual. Hope you'll try it and like it as much as I do.
July 17, 2008
July 8, 2008
Salty, substantial and satisfying -- these vegetables are a wonderful addition to many dishes. The botanical name is Salicornia, with several subspecies, but sea beans are known by many names: samphire, glasswort, pickleweed, pousse-pied, salicornia tips and sea asparagus. If anyone knows the various Asian names for them, I'd love to know! The term samphire is believed to be a corruption of the French name, herbe de Saint-Pierre, which means "St. Peter's Herb." I like the sound of samphire the best of all the names, myself. Salicornia is a genus of succulent, salt-tolerant plants which grow in salt marshes, on beaches and in mangrove swamps. It is native to Europe, the United States, south Asia and Sri Lanka. The ashes of these plants and of kelp were long used as a source of soda ash for glass and soapmaking until the 19th century.
I first came across sea beans at Uwajimaya ~ a fantastic Asian food supermarket in Seattle. "Waji's" is one of my main food stops on each city trip! But, I digress. More on Uwajimaya in a future blog. As you can see from the photo, the plants are rather coral-esque...growing in branched form. They can be eaten raw in a salad, where their crunchy, sharp-salty taste really pops. Sometimes I just snack on them by themselves. But, their flavor develops more nuance when quickly cooked as part of a stir-fry, or sauteed with a garlicky, black bean sauce or added to yakisoba noodles. Their briny pang offsets the sweet yakisoba sauce beautifully! And they are tender when cooked ~ not at all stringy. They complement fish dishes very well. Remember to reduce salt in any recipe in which you use them and then adjust as necessary when done.
They grow well here in the northwest and I seek them out on the coast and on Hood Canal. I hope you'll be able to procure some, either in a shop or in the wild and try them. They're available fresh from spring to fall. At other times of the year, you can find them pickled, but fresh is best, as always. Bet you'll be as addicted as I am!
I'll post a recipe I found on Epicurious, for Black Roasted Cod with Sea Beans and Oysters. It sounds divine and I'm going to make it soon!
More to come about sea vegetables and yummy recipes to try ...
June 23, 2008
His future will be to become an ambassador for his species ~ visiting schools to educate children about the big cats and wildlife, in general. I will update further, as we see him as he grows.
Canada Lynx Facts:
- Meat is on the menu for lynx, and the meat of choice is snowshoe hare. It took extensive field studies to determine how and why these two species interact to such a great extent. Fluctuations in populations of both are closely linked. Many other carnivores compete for the same prey as the lynx's but only the lynx is as skilled at catching elusive and quick hares. Hare makes up the bulk of the diet, but a lynx will sustain itself on squirrels, grouse, rodents or even domestic animals.
- Lynx feet seem overly large for their body size. The well-furred feet impart nearly silent movement and act as snowshoes in winter. The footprint of this cat is larger than a human hand. With its long legs, the lynx can travel rapidly while trailing evasive prey in the tight confines of a forest. Like other cats, it is not built for fast, long-distance running ~ it generally stalks and ambushes its prey.
- This cat is primarily an inhabitant of the boreal forest, across Canada and Alaska. Also found in the northern Cascade mountains of Washington and Oregon. The most likely place to see one is in the Selkirk Mountains.
- It is rare to see a lynx in the wild, even if you happen to be in prime lynx territory. It's far more likely the lynx is watching you...silently...assessing.
June 20, 2008
The best thing about giving up your secrets to your hairstylist is that he (or she; but let’s just assume he’s a man) isn’t going to try to cure you of your little…aberrations. He has no interest in changing you, modifying your behavior, chastising you or telling your friends or your spouse. You are paying him to make you beautiful. And feeling gorgeous loosens your tongue. He is not your mother, your best friend, or your priest. Most importantly, he is not your therapist.
For that hour or two when he is running his fingers through your hair, massaging your scalp, lovingly painting dazzling colors on your locks ~~ he is all yours. And you want to tell him, don’t you? You clench your fists under the gown, curl your toes when the chills go down your spine in the washbowl, close your eyes and... spill it. It’s safe - it’s even a touch erotic. And it’s all yours.
To be continued...
May 26, 2008
Blue-orange flames lick glowing coals; cedar resin fires up - intense bursts that fill the nose with forest scent; exposed skin searing while backsides stay cool; crackling, shifting, feeding, burning. Smoke follows beauty, anyone dare to jump over?, oracles in the fflames, can I have another marshmallow? Stories and remembrances flow from the kiln of cleansing fire. My eyes glaze, my thoughts travel the past and future at equal speed. My body is here ... on this log. My spirit has flown with the heated ether.
May 19, 2008
Angels, Thieves and Winemakers written by Joseph Mills, has come to my attention. Mills is a literary critic who has written a book of poetry about wine. A few poems for your enjoyment...
Wine's Beautiful Illusions
Opening a bottle of wine is an act
of optimism. We're confident it will
improve the moment, the conversation,
the relationships. Each time we pull a cork,
it's as if we're saying, Here, I think this
will help make things a little better.
Some Hypotheses on Why a Second Glass May Taste Better:
Perhaps the eyes see the refill
and signal to the body
you're here for a while so
you might as well
loosen the tie
and settle in,
or perhaps the wine itself relaxes
slips out of its cork corset,
begins to breathe
and make itself more sociable,
but it's probably because
you are wiser
than a glass ago.
There is no mystery now
about what the bottle holds.
You no longer have
but you still have
Twenty Years Later I Make a Realization About Her Shampoo:
What do you smell,
the winemaker asks,
and I hesitate to answer
because it's an old girlfriend
and weekends in her studio apartment,
milk carton bookshelves
and cracked walls and ceilings
whose stains we pretended formed maps
of countries like Mythica and Fornucopia.
He waits politely
but you can't say
you smell a lover,
a life you used to have.
Finally, he suggests,
and I realize, yes,
the nape of her neck,
her ears, her hair.
May 17, 2008
I'm delighted to have stumbled upon a new, very local winery -- Westport Winery. On the way to the beach to watch the surfing competition, my hubby noticed a new sign on the beach highway. When he called to tell me about it, I was incredulous that there would be a vineyard this close to the coast. Growing conditions are not ideal in our cool part of the coastal northwest. It turns out that the vintner has been making these first wine releases from grapes grown in eastern Washington, where we have a reputation for excellent wines. However, he has planted his own vineyard and is being courageous -- hoping that, in the future, he can make wines from estate grapes.
The reason I say "very local" is because the labels for the wine offered are each different and unique to the history of Grays Harbor county. In addition, the winery wins points with me for giving portions of each sale to various local service and charity groups. These include animal rescue organizations, the Surfrider Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival, the county master gardeners' association, theater groups, libraries and even the Kurt Cobain Memorial Committee (he was born near here). Because of my veterinary background, I am partial to the Jetty Cat Red! There are many jetty cats in Westport and I've been involved in the past with spaying and neutering them to control populations. But, that's another story.
I suppose one could talk about wine labels getting gimmicky. But, the quality of the wine inside is what counts in the end. If the wine is good, why not have a little fun with the marketing? And if some of the money goes for a good cause, so much the better!The gift bottle I received today was the Surfer's Last Syrah. I haven't opened it yet, but, when I do, I'll post my tasting notes! I do love my vino!
Aspenglow / Buttered Lips by Gayle Nabrotzky is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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