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Thursday, February 8, 2024

Orange, Shallot, Olive, and Feta Salad

I see recipes for salads similar to this most winters. Except for the dressing, I've just thrown salad ingredients together with no requirement for amounts. 


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Orange, Shallot, Olive, and Feta Salad


Serves 2

2 teas orange juice concentrate or 2 T orange juice
2 T olive oil
1 teas red wine vinegar
pinch of salt
1/4 teas pepper

For the dressing, place the above ingredients in a jar and top with a tight lid. Shake until all is emulsified. Drizzle over plates with a mixture of the following ingredients as you like.

A mix of navel, Cara Cara or blood oranges, peeled and sliced
Kalamata olives, halved
shallots or red onions, slived very thinly
crumbled feta

Add other ingredients that you enjoy such as sliced fennel bulbs, chopped cilantro and/or chopped pistachios, if desired.

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Chai Tea Concentrate




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Chai Tea Concentrate



Source:  Gimmesomeoven
Yields 4 cups


12 cardamom pods, gently crushed or split
8 whole black peppercorns
8 whole cloves
2-4 inch piece of ginger, sliced
4 c water
4 cinnamon sticks
3 whole allspice
2 star anise
1/8 t ground nutmeg
1/2-1 vanilla bean, sliced down the middle 
2 T brown sugar or maple syrup, or to taste

Over medium-high heat bring all ingredient to a boil . Cover and reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to steep for 5-10 minutes longer. (At this point you may add 4 bags black tea or 4 teaspoons loose black tea and steep 5 minutes.) Pour through a strainer and use the liquid as a concentrate mixing  equal parts concentrate with water or milk to make chai tea. Concentrate can be refrigerated for up to a week.

Note:

If the current high price of vanilla beans is too high, skip the bean and add 2 teaspoons vanilla extract to the concentrate after it has cooled.  

Friday, December 29, 2023

Chimichurri

We have written elsewhere about my dad's preparation of taco dip on Christmas Eve every year when I was growing up. Last year my family varied from the specific tradition but kept to its spirit by having Michael prepare dinner on Christmas Eve, and we had ribs and chicken wings. He did the lion's share of the Christmas shopping this time, though, so maybe he would preferred a break! 

This year, he decided on steak, which we were lucky to grab at a Costco that was as crowded as I have ever seen it. The line went from the front of the store all the way to the milk before snaking back on itself all the way to the rotisserie chicken. For Michael's birthday we make steak at home, and in recent years this has included chimichurri, a South American condiment. We have cobbled together various chimichurris, but this year I kept notes and we now have a standard.



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Chimichurri

2 garlic cloves, peeled and trimmed
2 T red wine vinegar
1/2 c olive oil
roughly 1 c cilantro, cut from the end of a bunch
roughly 1/2 c parsley, cut from the end of a bunch
3/4 teas dried oregano
1 teas kosher salt
pepper to taste

Process all ingredients in a food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds. 

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Kókópancakes

 




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Kókópancakes


Adapted from: Alton Brown
Yields: about 10 (I usually double since these are easy to freeze and use later)

2 eggs
3/4 c milk
1/2 c water
1 c flour. all-purpose or a mix including some whole wheat
3 T butter, melted
1-2 T sugar, if you want sweet crepes
1 teas vanilla, ditto

Place the eggs, milk and water into a blender and mix until well combined. The add the flour, butter and extra ingredients, if you are using them. Run blender until all is well mixed and smooth.. You may need to use a scraper to push flour off the sides of the blender. AB recommends letting this sit in the fridge for 60 minutes for greater ease of cooking (less tearing), but Kókó and her daddy often don't wait to cook.

Heat a crepe pan or a small nonstick skillet (or best of all, a ponnukokupanna, an Icelandic pancake pan), over medium heat for at least 5 minutes. Butter the pan and use a teaspoon full of batter to test whether the pan is hot enough. It should take 30-60 seconds to cook on one side and fewer than that to cook the second side. Use a quarter cup measure to pour the batter in the pan, pick it up and turn and swirl so the batter slides into a thin covering of the bottom of the pan. When the edges dry slide a thin spatula under and flip the pancake carefully so the other side can cook. AB says he always plans on the first pancake being for the dog so don't get discouraged if your first few are not "beautiful". They will taste good. You can butter your pan between pancakes but I don't always do so. In addition, I prefer vegetable oil to butter. I think butter tastes better, of course, but for me oil is easier to work with. 

These can be treated as crepes but also as pancakes and you can use any topping including macerated fruit or berries. My favorite involves lemon juice and vanilla sugar. Other family members are fans of Nutella, powdered sugar, or cinnamon sugar, often all mixed together!

Forager's Pasta

This recipe comes from a lovely book titled, I Dream of Dinner (so You Don't Have To) by Ali Slagle. Her recipes are in a narrative form and allow for tweaks and substitutions and are flexible in amounts, so I'll set this up the way I made it. I'm glad to have run into this recipe since I'm fond of savory dishes which include sweet spices. 




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Forager's Pasta


Source: I Dream of Dinner (so You Don't Have To)
Serves: 4-7

1 pound mushrooms of any variety or several varieties, cut or torn into bite size pieces
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper to taste, remembering you'll use some of your pasta water which will add to total salt
2 strips of lemon zest and 3 T lemon juice
8 T butter, cut into 8 pieces and kept in fridge until needed
cook's choice of herbs and spices, such as 1 teas black peppercorns or fennel seeds, 1 half cinnamon stick, broken, or some fresh grated nutmeg, at least 8 sage leaves, 4 bay leaves, 3 thyme sprigs, and or 2 rosemary sprigs
3 T olive oil
12 oz short pasta but not necessarily tiny pasta

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or a Dutch oven and cook the mushrooms and chickpeas. Season with salt and pepper. Shake the pan occasionally and cook until contents are browned, 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, start a pot of water to boil. If you cook the pasta in a smaller amount of water, you'll have starchier water which will be good for your final product. But you'll have to stir the pasta while it cooks so it doesn't clump.

Coarsely grind or smash the spices you want to use and strip the herb leaves off their stems. If desired, you can chop the sage and/or rosemary. 

When the water boils, add the pasta and cook until almost al dente. Reserve at least 1 cup of the cooking water and drain.

When the chickpeas and mushrooms have finished, add the butter around the edges of the pan. Stir in the herbs and spices and cook while the butter foams and turns golden. Add the pasta to this mixture and cook, stirring while dribbling in some of the pasta water until the butter and the water form an emulsion. Taste and season if you need more salt and pepper. Pull out any sticks or stems left from the herbs and serve. 

Note: I used fennel seed, cinnamon stick, sage and bay leaves. For serving, I garnished with chopped parsley. In the summer I may garnish with basil. 

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Greek Salad

This briny salad hit the spot this week, with the start of summer. I use the recipe as a framework, adapting as needed to what I have on hand. I've used dried oregano, fresh red peppers instead of jarred, yellow onion instead of red, and whatever tomatoes are convenient. It's especially nice in the summer with my back porch oregano and mint and garden tomatoes.


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Greek Salad

Serves 6-8
Source: Cook's Illustrated https://www.americastestkitchen.com/cooksillustrated/recipes/383-greek-salad

Vinaigrette

3 T red wine vinegar 
1 1/2 teas lemon juice
2 teas minced fresh oregano leaves
1/2 teas salt
1/8 teas black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
6 T olive oil

Salad

1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
1 medium cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise
2 hearts romaine lettuce, washed, dried, and torn in to bitesize pieces
2 large tomatoes, cored, seeded, and cut into wedges
1/4 c loosely packed, torn fresh parsley leaves
1/4 c loosely packed, torn fresh mint leaves
1 c (about 6 oz) jarred, roasted red bell pepper, cut into strips no longer than 2 inches
20 large kalamata olives, pitted and quartered lengthwise
1 c feta cheese, crumbled

Whisk the vinaigrette ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the onion and cucumber, toss, and marinate for 20 minutes. Add lettuce, tomatoes, parsley, mint, and bell pepper to the bowl and toss. Sprinkle with olives and cheese, then enjoy.


Thursday, May 25, 2023

Strawberry Shortbread and Cream

We're both experiencing a glut of strawberries, Mom from her garden and me from my favorite local grocery store that has had cases on sale. Here's a favorite way to enjoy them.  

 


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Strawberry Shortbread and Cream


Yield: 4 servings plus extra shortbread (about 50 cookies, if you follow size directions)


For the shortbread:

1 c unsalted butter, preferably cultured (European-style), at room temperature
3/4 c granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 teas fine sea salt
1 T vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean, split and seeded with a tip of a knife 
1/2 teas orange blossom water or grated orange zest (optional)
2 c AP flour

For serving:

1 pint strawberries, sliced
granulated sugar, to taste, remembering the cookies are on the sweet side
1 c heavy cream
1/2 teas vanilla

Attach a paddle attachment to either a stand mixer or a hand mixer. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy and light, about 2 minutes. Add the egg yolk, salt, vanilla (extract or seeds), and orange blossom water, if using and beat. Add the flour and stir until smooth, occasionally using a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Place a 12-inch long piece of  plastic wrap on a counter and place the dough in the center. Using the wrap to form a barrier between you and the sticky dough, form it into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. You can also form 2 logs if you find that easier. Wrap tightly and place in the fridge until it's completely cold, at least 3 hours and up to 5 days.

Preheat oven to 350F when you are ready to bake and place parchment paper or baking liners on 2 baking sheets.

Remove the plastic wrap from the dough log and slice it into quarter-inch rounds. Place the dough on the prepared sheets and place in the oven. Bake 10-15 minutes until they are golden at the edges. These spread a little so keep that in mind. I successfully placed 4 across with 1 1/2-inch cookies. 

Transfer the baking sheets to a cooling rack and allow them to cool thoroughly before removing. These can be baked up to 4 days ahead as long as you store them in an airtight container at room temperature. 

About 20 minutes before serving, sprinkle the sliced berries with a little sugar and stir. Allow them to sit for at least 15 minutes while they release their juice.

Whip the cream using a mixer with a whisk or a whisk and a bowl (more effort on your part). Add a teaspoon or so of sugar. Again, the cookies are so sweet you may not need sugar in the cream.

Divide the strawberries into serving bowls saving a little juice for drizzling. Top with the whipped cream and drizzle the cream with some of the juice.  Tuck several cookies into each bowl and eat with spoons.