Thursday, March 18, 2010

Red Flannel Hash of Sorts

Another winner!
Enough for 5-6 for breakfast.

2 large red potatoes, cubed
1 large onion, chopped
2 large beets, cubed
1 large carrot, chopped to match the size of the other veggies
olive oil

5 breakfast sausage links, cut into little pieces, then browned
8 eggs ~ scrambled
sea salt and pepper, to taste
(optional: leftover sauteed greens ~ beet or otherwise, reheated )

Roast the first set of ingredients in a covered baking dish at 400 till soft. I took the lid off for the last 15 minutes.
I reheated the leftover greens with the sausage in its final minutes of cooking.
Then I layered the egg, and sausage mixture on top of the roasted veggies. I highly recommend doing the chopping and cubing the night before. That makes it much easier and quicker in the morning (I'll try to remember that next time!). Colorful, hearty, and flavorful.

Lamb Tabouli Pilaf with Tahini Dressing

We have family staying with us this week, and I have made a loose menu of breakfasts and dinners so that we eat a large majority of meals here for the week. Last night I got resoundingly positive feedback on dinner (yay! ~ from a variety of "types" of eaters), so I thought it was worth sharing.
But I'm gonna make it quick because breakfast is cooking and I can't keep the masses at bay forever!

Lamb Tabouli Pilaf with Tahini Dressing
Enough for 6 for dinner, plus leftovers for a few people as a snack the next day!

1 lb ground lamb with salt and pepper, browned
1 1/2 cups brown rice
1/2 cup quinoa
beef stock
large can chick peas (other beans are worth soaking ahead. but i buy canned chickpeas.)
1 block of dry cow's milk feta, crumbled small
1 bunch parsley ~ minced
1 "bunch" peppermint (from garden), minced
1 "bunch" lemon balm (from garden), minced
2 Tbsp minced red onion (I hate raw onion, but I thought it was appropriate..)
freshly toasted cumin, ground
sea salt and pepper to taste
juice of 3/4 a lemon

whole milk yogurt
about 1/2 cup freshly toasted sesame seeds, ground in coffee grinder
olive oil
3 cloves garlic, pressed
more of the toasted cumin, ground
smoked paprika
sea salt
juice of 1/4 a lemon

Cooked the rice and quinoa together with 2 cups beef broth as part of the liquid. I let the meat and grains cool to about room temp, and tossed everything together in a big bowl.

Sorry I don't have measurements for the dressing. I probably used 1 1/2 cup of yogurt, and 1/4 cup (good) olive oil to make a thick creamy dressing. We used a lot of the dressing, so don't hold back. It was delicious, and was integral to flavor and texture.

This dish would be great served the next day ~ for a picnic for a group, etc. It is refreshingly light, yet filling, for a warm Spring day (like yesterday!).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

For the Love of Food

Three Stone Hearth included this little song in their weekly newsletter. Now this is a song I can relate to -one that passionately waxes poetic about good food. I love the lilt you can hear in the "Yes you did.." line. Makes me wanna be Irish. And eat a big pile of Colcannon. Or at least mashed potatoes with cream and butter...

Did you ever eat Colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream?

With the greens and scallions mingled like a picture in a dream.

Did you ever make a hole on top to hold the melting flake

Of the creamy, flavoured butter that your mother used to make?

Yes you did, so you did, so did he and so did I.
And the more I think about it sure the nearer I'm to cry.
Oh, wasn't it the happy days when troubles we had not,
And our mothers made Colcannon in the little skillet pot?

Sunday, March 07, 2010

sweet potato custard breakfast muffins with greens, and chevre

Still attempting to shake up the breakfast menu. This morning we had a winner, for sure.
1 large sweet potato
1/2 red onion, chopped small
A large cereal bowlful of greens, chopped fine
Fat for sauteeing (such as butter or bacon grease)
8 eggs
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup milk
Chevre - a goodly amount
Sea salt - a 1/2 tsp each for greens and custard mixture
Freshly ground pepper
Butter to grease the muffin cups

I sauteed the onion and the pile of greens - dandelion and kale
mainly - while I baked a large sweet potato. I cracked 8 eggs into a
mixing bowl with 1/4 cup cream and 1/4 cup milk, then added the peeled
sweet potato, sea salt and ground pepper, and took the immersion
blender to it to mix it till frothy (a blender would work fine).
Filled buttered muffin cups with a layer of the sauteed greens, then
topped off with the custard mixture up to maybe 1/4 inch from the top.
Then! I plopped generous spoonfuls of chevre into the center of each.
Baked at 350 until golden and firm. They came out all puffed up and
beautiful, but quickly fell as any other puffed egg thing does. Still
delicious!! I have an earthenware muffin cup dish with extra-large
cups. I'd say it would've been 8 regular-sized muffins.
But then there was a lot of the custard left over. So I poured it into
buttered (cast iron) mini-muffin cups that baked up to look and taste
just like popovers! With a really nice sweetness and color from the
sweet potato. A pat of butter that inevitably slid down the piping hot
muffin onto my fingers just meant that they were literally finger-
lickin' good.
And both were a hit with the adults as well as the wee one of the
house, so they score extra stars.
In the future I might either use fewer eggs to make fewer muffins,
or saute' more greens to fill all the muffins. But as it was, I
enjoyed having some more meal-like muffins and some treat-like ones.
Experiment amongst yourselves and get back with me.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

March 2

What We Ate (while you were gone)

It has been such fun for me to have this lovely email conversation with you while you were gone.! As much as I look forward to your return, I will miss the ritual it has become to write you a letter as I'm nursing Jali to sleep at night. You have been an inspiring and gentle muse. In the kitchen, as well, not a meal gets prepared for which I'm not thinking about how I will report to you about it: "yes, greens again," or: "I bet I wouldn't be cooking yet another hotdog if Austin were here," or, the best: "I should save some of this so Austin can try it.!" I actually did jar up and freeze some soup I made that I thought was extra tasty, but I think Sealion ended up taking it to work for lunch...
So, one last food report:
What happens when Tiffanie uses her discipline to avoid eating a delectable white-flour biscuit at Venus yesterday??She gets to eat a Whole Batch of homemade sprouted spelt biscuits at home!! I win! I followed the recipe in The Art of Simple Food, by Alice Waters (my gift to myself the time we ate a Chez Panisse dinner!), which calls for 3/4 cup heavy cream (!) as the liquid, and used sprouted spelt for the flour. I think I rolled them too thin, however I employed the technique I learned from Porsche and Misa to just barely mix the ingredients, and then fold it a few times, to create a flakey crispy pastry essentially. They could've been a pie crust - and that's a compliment.! Last night Sealion was off-kilter after getting home from a nightshift, so he wasn't hungry. I did something uncharacteristic of our meals here at the Pope house - I just made biscuits. And I had a big bowl of baked apples that I happened to cook that afternoon to take advantage of the end of the season at the farmers' market - "cosmetically challenged" apples. So one by one I spread butter on biscuit and perched a baked apple quarter on top. Hello? Better than apple pie. Austin, it was so good. What's almost as good as having fresh biscuits and butter and baked apples for dinner? Having leftovers for breakfast! I scored.
The other night I made an impromptu Indian dish that rocked. If you lean toward Asian in your cooking, I go for Indian these days. I love the artful way they prepare spices.. And I love the rich, slow-cooked sauces. It was coconut curry with potatoes and sweet potatoes. Anjali scarfed it down despite it being pretty heavy on the cayenne. I was pleasantly surprised.

Ok! I imagine you'll actually be home by the time you read this, but I just wanted to be in this space one more time.


Monday, March 01, 2010

For Randi ~ Indian by Intuition: a Recipe

Dear Randi ~
I was quite flattered by your recent blog post. As any blogger can do, I choose the face I put forward and the voice I use. Intentionality and mindfulness are practices I work on a great deal in my life, so they're an obvious focus of my writing.
(And, by the way, my personal blog is open and ready for business again after a brief .. re-collecting. (-; )
For cooking, as with any skill (such as writing plays or teaching students), I think it takes passion and practice. I can't help but cook because I love it. And by cooking, I get better at cooking. It is possible to hone your intuition. I had the great honor and luck to work with incredible, intuitive chefs weekly for several years at Three Stone Hearth kitchen. Simply by their presence and rapport with ingredients, Jessica Prentice, Porsche Combash, and Misa Koketsu, taught me volumes that textbooks could never attempt. I paid as close attention as my wits could muster.
One seemingly intuitive trick that Jessica taught me was about choosing ingredients that complement one another: pay attention to the produce and meats, spices and herbs, and fats, used by a particular regional/cultural cuisine. If you want to use coconut, for instance, it helps to start with cuisines in which coconuts are used commonly ~ say, Thai and not Irish. Then use the spices that that particular cuisine uses regularly ~ like lemongrass and ginger. Certain cultures (because of beliefs) would never use pork products in their dishes. Countries located by the ocean use a lot of seafood. A country's location on the globe affects the things they have had on hand down through the culinary ages. With our modern mechanized food system, that gives us watermelon and basil in January, it can take a little sleuthing to learn who traditionally ate what, where, when, and why. And that's where recipes and the internet are very useful ~ to learn these details. Once you know roughly the foods different cuisines use together with success, it is easier to browse the produce stands and your cupboards and know what will work together.
Porsche taught me about honing your intuition with measurements. Start with recipes. Every time you take a measurement ~ for instance, 1/4 tsp of cinnamon, dump it into your hand and get to know it until you can tell what a quarter tsp looks like without the measuring device. ~ It's ok to double check! After a while, you will gain confidence in seasoning things without thinking about the measuring spoons.
And in a day-long croissant-making session, Misa inadvertently taught me that there is really no substitute for.. experience. In a single afternoon, there is simply only so much one can learn about a skill that takes a career's worth of work to master.

And now on to the recipe.
Last night I had a craving for comforting Indian-style creamy sauce. I had in my cabinet:
a large sweet potato,
two small white potatoes,
a large onion,
and a jar of coconut milk.
I also had brown rice.
Coconut oil,
Sea salt,
Plus spices:
Powdered ginger
Fennel seeds, and
So I put the brown rice, water, and a tablespoon of coconut oil in a pot to cook, following the instructions on the package (takes an hour). I chopped the onion into pieces about as big as my thumbnail, and cut the potatoes into slices about the width of my pinky, and then quartered the bigger slices. I put a couple tablespoons of butter in a cast iron Dutch oven and turned the heat to medium-low. For time's sake, I threw all the veggies in at once. Then I bathed my daughter (you can skip this step; it's optional (-; ). Since they were on a pretty low heat, I didn't worry, and just glanced in to see them steaming every now and then. When Anjali was dry and in her favorite handed-down bubblegum pink bathrobe (which, in reference to your blog, Randi, I never would've kept if she hadn't dragged it from the bag and insisted I zip it up on her and then wouldn't take off for two days), I turned up the heat to medium, stirred the veggies, and stirred in: a tsp seasalt, a tsp cumin, a tsp coriander, a tsp powdered ginger, a tsp turmeric, a 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp fennel seeds, and ... a thorough sprinkle of cayenne (less than 1/8 tsp). I let these cook for about five minutes and then poured in a can of coconut milk (don't use "lite" - use the real deal! Delicious *and* good for you!!). I brought it up to an enthusiastic simmer and put the lid on. Stirring occasionally, I let this cook until the potatoes were tender. At the end I added about 1/3 pound of ground lamb that I had seasoned with salt and pepper, and browned in a skillet with butter. But this could be a delicious and filling vegetarian meal, easily. You could even add some canned chick peas during the simmer, and/or a couple handfuls of chopped greens such as kale.
Spoon the coconut-veggie sauce over the rice in a bowl, and savor for yourself after your daughter finally goes to sleep. (-;
And thanks for the inspiration Randi!