November 21, 2011 § Leave a comment
There are a whole slew of things to get used to when living in a new city. The roads, the neighborhoods, the restaurants, the markets. It’s all very exciting, this time of discovery. And it makes me think that part of the reason that I love moving around is to remind myself of my priorities, and hopefully provoke something new from them.
In Austin I am loving the modest and sincere attitude of nearly everyone. Albiet, there is a certain kitschy overtone to much of the city and it’s inhabitants which allows me to fly my humble little freak flag with no shame. It reminds me of Madrid with its defined neighborhoods and their relative populace, spattering of bites to eat at any hour, and seemingly slow as molasses pace of life. I am drawn to places that have a unique mix of taste, grunge, and reason, and this place has got it.
One of my favorite things to do right now is visit trailer parks. Ones that serve food. All day. Often with a Tex-Mex (one of my least favorite words, along with healthy and sustainable… but that’s a long tangent to get into) theme, but there is this crepe cart that I have been drooling over, and another with beet chips that have been rumored to be fantastic. Closest to me though, is a the Hill Country Pierogi which offeres sweet and savory pockets at the most random hours. I walk by this place on the way to yoga classes. Everyday. Help me.
Another ritual of mine which I have carried over to my new home is my weekly visit to the farmers market. And to my delight the Hope Farmers Market is within walking distance from my house. It is a great little market where I am greeted by Wunder- Pils Kombucha on draft to the left and handmade tamales on the right. But what I really seek out in a market is the produce. Hope’s market is well stocked by four farms bringing their freshest harvest. I am most excited about the itsy purple and red potatoes, purple streaked daikon radishes, and über crisp pears. But the baby cabbages and lovely sweet potatoes will be perfect for our Friendsgving table this week.
November 30, 2010 § Leave a comment
This past Wednesday night began with roasting a perfectly sweet, tart, and herby cranberry and hazelnut sauce for Thanksgiving. I got the inspiration here, and modified it until the recipe turned into my own.
Coat one pound of fresh cranberries in:
1 cup turbinado sugar
3 tablespoons walnut oil
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon fresh sage
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
Roast the cranberries on a rimmed baking sheet in a hot oven (425 degrees) for about 7 minutes until the berries around the edge begin to split. While the cranberries are in the oven heat 1/4 cup red wine with 2 tablespoons of water in a little sauce pan until it boils. When the berries begin to split take the pan out of the oven and mix in the hot wine then return everything to the hot oven for another 10 or 15 minutes. Stir the mixture a couple of times checking to see when the berries turn into a beautiful syrupy sauce. Leave the oven on to toast the hazelnuts. The method for the hazelnuts is essentially the same as the cranberries.
Mix 1 cup of hazelnuts with 1 teaspoon each fresh rosemary, thyme, and sage in a rimmed baking sheet. Then heat 3 tablespoons of red wine and 3 tablespoons of turbinado sugar until the sugar melts and mix with the herbed nuts. Now heat the coated nut for just under 10 minutes in the hot oven. Keep the saucy cranberries and the toasted nuts separate until just before devouring the mixture.
November 24, 2010 § 2 Comments
As I walked through my kitchen door this evening I felt like a shop-a-holic. The weight of my items were almost unbearable, and yet I found myself chuckling at the though of my spending habits. My products were not boots, jewelry, body products, or any sort of typical merchandise. The goods in my hands were mushrooms from the Mushroom Cap in Kennett Square; a fresh turkey with extra giblets and bacon on the side from the Country Butcher in Kennett Square; hazelnuts from Spring Run in Kennett; leeks, onions, sage, shallots, cider, and honey from Barnard’s. Nothing could have made me happier than hauling my shopping bags into the kitchen and unloading my purchases. I can completely understand how people become addicted to the feeling of new things. Luckily for me my valuables tend to edible, so I always need more.
My Thanksgiving menu has blossomed into something I feel quite proud of. Every flavor, from the woodsy mushrooms to the warm hazelnuts to the complexity of herbs, has meandered from one dish to the other. And most dishes will be a compilation of recipes taken from articles in various magazines and basic knowledge. I am a bit hesitant to be trying out new techniques and flavors with my usually quite traditionally palated family. Although when it comes down to it, who could oppose bread pudding baked inside a pumpkin and drizzled with whiskey sauce, or wild mushroom, hazelnut, and olive bread stuffing? And roasting cranberries in red wine has got to outshine canned cranberry sauce, especially when they are mixed with spiced hazelnuts. These are the dishes which I am fairly confident will be delicious; the bird is another story. I hardly cook meat and a 14 pound turkey commands some loving care. From all I have gathered, brining the gobbler will ensure a crackling layer atop a succulent frame, and just to go the extra mile I picked up some extra thick bacon to drape over the bird as he roasts provide some extra flavor and tenderness. I mean, if I am going to eat meat it better be tender, juicy, and rich.
So tonight I brine and give the salt time to suck the juice fromt the body out to the skin. The turkey will sit in a bath of citrusy salt for almost 36 hours and will be roasted Thursday morning.
Tomorrow I will roast the cranberries and toast the hazelnuts for the cranberry sauce as well as prepare the stock for the stuffing, basting, and gravy.
Thursday will be full of roasting, rotating, reducing. The turkey will cook in my oven while I prepare the mushroom stuffing and pumpkin stuffed bread pudding. Then everything will be transfered to my Grandmothers where the gravy will be made from the drippings from the turkey plus lots of extra innards, the stuffing will be baked, and the desert will be cooking while we indulge.
Recipes, regrets, and photos to come. Please help me with any suggestions or comments!
November 15, 2010 § Leave a comment
After halloween there seems to be an over abundance of pumpkins. My mind immediately thinks “eat as many pumpkins as you can”. Unfortunately not all pumpkins breakdown into the celebrated creamy texture which is baked into pies, scooped into batters, and sliced into casseroles. The pumpkins from my garden fall into the category of not the greatest eating type; their specific name is unknown.
All I know is that for my next pumpkin filling adventure (I have happily survived two in the past 24 hours) will be in a gorgeous cheese pumpkin i have had my eye on from Barnard’s Orchard. The long island cheese pumpkin is squatter, smoother, and a creamier color than the generic orange pumpkin found on doorsteps and porches as decoration and their flesh is less stringy than the flesh of my homegrown guys. Other pumpkin varieties I know are yummy are baby pam, peek a boo, small sugar/ new england, winter luxury, and trickster.
In any case, I have now figured out the basics of pumpkin stuffing and am happily formulating experimental stuffing possibilities. Last night we feasted on curried black rice with leaks, apple, and walnut filled into the pumpkin. The downside with rice in pumpkins is that the rice must be cooked first and then plopped into the pumpkin’s cavity. This defeats the whole novelty of cooking things in the hollowed out pumpkin. I want to use the pumpkin like a dutch oven, filling it with loads of delicious raw ingredients, giving it a stir and letting everything slowly cook together.
That is exactly what I did this morning. Essentially what I made was baked oatmeal; an Amish classic which combines oats, eggs, milk, cinnamon, sugar, raisins, and apples and bakes to perfection. Of coarse I had to fool with the basic recipe and I fooled around so much that I created something completely different, but completely the same. Impossible? Find out.
Oatmeal Stuffed Pumpkin
1 5 pound pumpkin
2 cups whole oats
1 1/2 cups almond milk (or cow’s milk)
1/2 cup apple cider (or juice of your choice)
1 chopped apple
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon honey
pinch of salt
Turn the oven to 375 degrees. Cut off the top of the pumpkin and scoop out all of the seeds and gook. Save the seeds to roast. Now fill the hollow pumpkin with your dry ingredients and give everything a stir. Then add the honey, milk, and cider. Stir everything around again. Put the top on the pumpkin and place the pumpkin in a dutch oven or on a baking sheet. Leave in the hot oven for about an hour, this time will vary depending on the thickness of the flesh. I took the lid off for the second half of cooking. It is ready to be eaten when the skin and flesh feel like butter upon being pierced. In the last five minutes throw a handful of walnuts into the oven on a baking sheet to toast then sprinkle them on top of the goodness you just created.
October 16, 2010 § Leave a comment
Is there a saying about nothing being better than an apple picked straight from a tree? I don’t think there is. There should be. Because, there is nothing like eating an apple picked straight from a tree.
The apples I gathered from the orchard yesterday had the sweetest, crispest, most awakening flavor of any apple I have ever tasted. No, I am not exaggerating. They are that incredible.
I just wanted to share my enthusiasm, and some pictures. In fact, I am so excited about these apples from Barnard’s, that I plan on having an apple tasting party. More about flavor comparisons after the fact.
For now, I am still consuming at least two apples a day, mostly Empire, which are my current obsession. They are sweet and extraordinarily juicy, with a crisp smack.