Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I Promise. This Blog Has Not Been Abandoned!

  So just under the bell.  An entire year without a single, solitary post.  You would think with all of the SM out there this would not have happened to me.

It is true.  I did essentially no gardening this year.  We had an incredibly harsh winter and when we finally got to spring I had issues and planted simply.  A few salad greens, and a few herbs.  I can say that I am glad I planted the herbs.  They grow like weeds and paying for them in the store, when I actually plant okra, seems absurd.  Anyway, I felt a bit smug because most of the Master Gardeners I knew in the area were lamenting the short and abnormally cool summer.  It was enough to get the tomatoes to bear fruit, but ripening on the vine was difficult.

That said.  I have embraced my Rare Seed Catalog.  I have highlighted my selections.  I have even pegged the date on the calendar to start the seeds.  So all and all no worries.

I am going to leave you with a perfect nibble.  A cookie so easy that you really can whip it up in no time for yourself or as a host gift.  And I know you still have parties.  Perhaps tonight and probably through the weekend.

As far as resolutions go, I bid you join me in just one for 2015.  Experience, and share, more joy and laughter!  That is it.


Mini-Chocolate Chip and Rosemary Shortbreads (Adapted from Melissa d'Arabian)


 4 oz of softened butter cubed into eight pieces
1/4 c sugar
1/2 t. dried rosemary or 1 t. fresh rosemary chopped
1/2 t. salt
1 c. AP flour
1/3 c. mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
     Mix softened butter and sugar.  You can do this by hand but I usually use my mixer.  Add rosemary, salt, and flour.  Add mini-chocolate chips.
      Pat dough into a square.  On a floured surface, roll the dough into a rectangle  of 1/2 in thick.  Cut dough into 16 planks.  Each one roughly 1/2 in by 1/2 in  Place planks on a baking sheet.  Dock each plank with a fork.
     Place sheet in oven and immediately decrease oven temperature to 300 degrees.  Bake for approximately 25 minutes.  The planks should be firm to the touch and sandy-hued.  Cool on a rack.

Yes! You can double or triple the recipe.  These are simple, elegant, and addictive.

(Adapted from Melissa Darabian)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Clafoutis, The French Dessert for Grown Ups, Mais Oui!

Listen Here:

Grab the cherries and throw them into a hot buttered pie pan.  Tell the children that they can't have this one until they are older.  Yes! You can make it easily after work with no fuss or muss.  In fact, you will have to do like the old commercial and throw some flour on your face to make it look like the work was hard.

Cherry Clafoutis (Inspired by this thread over at LTH Forum with "Best Practices"/Inspiration taken from there, Julia Child, Dorie Greenspan, Craig Claiborne, and Christopher Kimball)

1 lb of fresh cherries, washed, stemmed, but pits left intact
3 eggs
1/3 c. sugar
3/4 c. cream
1/2 c. whole milk
1 t. vanilla extract
Pinch salt
1/2 c. all purpose flour

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and make sure there is a rack in the middle of the oven.
Butter a pie pan.  Arrange cherries in a single layer of the buttered pie pan.
Whisk the eggs until they are bubbly.  Then whisk in the sugar until there are no granules present and the mix is a smidge thick.  This should take about 2 minutes total whisking time.  Keep whisking and add in the pinch of salt and the vanilla.  Keep whisking and add the flour.  Keep whisking until smooth.  Now whisk in your milk and cream to combine.   Knock bowl on counter to dissipate any visible bubbles in your batter. 
This batter moves quickly, so be aware as you pour it over the cherries.  Bake until it's airy, puffy, and browned.  This will be about 45 minutes.  But before you remove it from the oven, treat it like a cake and insert a skewer in the center and make sure it comes out clean.  

Et voilĂ !  Serve warm or at room temperature.  Yes, you can add powdered sugar, but I loathe that stuff.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Fried Olives Are Delicious and Easy to Prepare in Advance for the Super Bowl Party

It is hard to believe that this Sunday will be the Super Bowl.   It's also hard to believe that today's high in Chicago is over 60 degrees.  What's not hard? This recipe that will be a boon to your Super Bowl gathering.  It's from The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser.  I will later post about why this cookbook is essential to add to your collection but for now I give you a delicious, and easy, recipe.

Fried Olives

Makes about 30, and can be prepared eight hours in advance
Marcona almonds
30 olives, I used home-cured Barouni, pitted
3/4 c flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 c Panko bread crumbs, these are my default for bread crumbs
Approximately 2 quarts of Mild oil for deep frying, I used a mix of
olive and grape seed

Stuff the olives with the almonds.

Set up a small bowl and place your flour in it. Then use another small bowl for your eggs. Finally, a third bowl should house the Panko.  Next,designate one hand for your dry ingredients and the other hand for the eggs. Using your designated "dry hand", coat an olive in flour. Second, drop the flour-coated olive into the egg, and roll it in the egg with your designated "wet hand".  Finally, roll the coated egg, with your " dry hand" in the Panko.  Set aside on a plate and repeat with the remaining olives.  You can fry them now or set them aside in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap until you are ready to fry them.

Heat 2 inches of oil in a medium sauce pan over medium high heat.  The oil will be hot enough once it reaches 375°. Add a handful of olives at a time to the pan but please don't crowd the pan.  Watch carefully, fry the olives until golden brown; this won't take very long.  Remove the olives with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

This year, like last year, it's all about the food at the party and not the teams if you are a Bears' fan, but then again the $64,000 question is whether Beyonce will sing or lip-sync her half-time performance?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Gift Guide 2012: Keep Calm and Carry On or in the Alternative KISS (Keep It Simple, Silly)

So you've waited and now you are getting up and surfing online trying to make it happen.  You don’t want to just give another gift card to Starbucks or even worse, an email gift certificate to itunes or (not that there’s anything wrong with gift cards or these businesses).

You however, pride yourself on being awesome.  Most of those on your list have everything they need and during the rest of the year you have amazing conversations with them about what’s important.  Your “what’s important” conversation is never about things.

Here’s what we’ve been doing and we’ve gotten peals of delight and bright eyes whenever the recipient sees it.

It’s a cookie from Dorie Greenspan of Beurre & Sel called a Port Jammer.  She’s every bakers’ favorite holiday elf.   It has everything a heart could sing for, cherries, port (or NA wine as I chose), chocolate, seasonal cranberries, spices, and streusel.  My husband says it is one of his favorite things.  My husband doesn’t like sweets!

Now pick up a bottle of your favorite sparkler, grab a jar of fancy jam (yes, there’s still time to make one, but I’m trying to keep this stress-free) and your favorite coffee (if you roast your own, then place the coffee in a mason jar) and watch their eyes light up with joy.

So worse case scenario, you don’t run to the mall but maybe, just maybe you run to the grocer and grab the ingredients listed below, head home, turn up whatever music grooves you and bake this cookie!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Complexities of the Love Apple

On this wet and cold day, it is amazing to think just how fantastic the tomato is. It is a fruit. Although our legal system has deemed it a vegetable. Now comes word that this fruit's genome has been decoded.

  May 31,2012:
The tomato, whose genome has just now been decoded, turns out to be one well-endowed vegetable, possessing 31,760 genes. This rich legacy, possibly a reflection of the disaster that killed off the dinosaurs, is some 7,000 more than that of a person, and presents a complex puzzle to scientists who hope to understand its secrets.
The tomato has also been called everything from sweet to tart, and even meaty. Is it any wonder that this fruit has been mischaracterized by mere mortals?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Just Say No to Eating Animals: Vol. #40 Ripped from a Favorite Restaurant or Two

Most days I want something different to eat. I'm far from a creature of habit when it comes to eating. That said, I've gone on jags of eating the same thing since I learned to scramble eggs and fry bologna in a tiny cast iron skillet when I was seven. I think I ate that as an after school snack most days for a very, very long time. In fact it was such a long time that even the smell of veggie bologna now causes my stomach to lurch. 

Then there was that period of time my first year in law school when dinner was a bowl of buttered popcorn with freshly grated Parmesan. But for most of my life, I like variety in meals. Earlier this year something odd happened, and I couldn't stop eating at Athenian Room. At least once, I went twice in the same day to this little Greek-American restaurant that isn't far from home. It is very similar in appearance to the salad at Cross Rhodes in Evanston. On each visit this year, I ate the exact same thing. It's called a Vegetarian Salad. This salad has lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, olives, and a vinaigrette but the kicker is it comes topped with fries covered in the same vinaigrette. This is genius, pure and simple. In part it reminds me of my summer after college spent with my mum, my godmum,and my aunt in France. It was an exceptionally hot summer there and I lived off of green salad, pomme frites, and lemonade. So Saturday's lunch was my take on that remarkably simple offering.

  Opa Salad, the fries featured are from Cook's Illustrated's New Best Light Recipe Oven Fries

12 c. torn lettuce, I used Romaine
1/2 c. roasted tomatoes (raw is fine if they are at their seasonal best)
1/2 c. roasted red bell peppers (raw is fine if they are at the peak of their season)
1/4 c.  feta cheese crumbled

5 ¾ T water
¼ c. of EVOO
3T Champagne wine vinegar
2 t Dijon Mustard
Salt and Pepper to taste
Toss ingredients and then add 6 T. vinaigrette  to the salad and fries and serve

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Sign Up to Dig Your Own Garden

The Overnight low is back in the 30’s but it is never too early to plan ahead.

Peterson Garden Project opened up spots in its community gardens project yesterday. One location is already sold out. I’ve gardened with them from the start. I garden there for the sense of community; I get plenty of food for the family from the Earthboxes out back. Still, meeting with my fellow plot sharers to ogle over seed catalogs has been fun.

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