December 8, 2011 § Leave a comment
These weeks dividing Christmas and Thanksgiving may be my most creative time of the year. Between card making, recipe experimenting, and gift searching I have come across some beautiful and resourceful ideas for sharing with loved ones. Take a look.
Chocolate Sausages? I think, yes.
Homemade Mustard. I would not mind finding this in my stocking.
A beautiful tree. We have a live tree. This may just have to go in my bedroom.
The Gift of Scents. I made these last year. Simple.
February 14, 2011 § Leave a comment
There are some things in life which never change. Like snow days. Who doesn’t get a cozy nostalgic feeling with the thought of a day off from the real world? As a kid, this meant an escape from sitting at a desk all day listening to someone talk
to at you from the front of a packed room (for many adults this may still be the case). For me, a snow day means that my kitchen gets my full attention.
These past few weeks I have been slightly obsessed with the mere thought of a delicate crêpe wrapped pleasantly around a oozy gooey filling of nirvana. Oddly, in these past weeks I have had more opportunities to indulge in a simple fruit filled crêpe since living in France. But I found myself resisting, unconsiously holding out for what would be the perfect crêpe day.
By noon on this exceptionally wintery day I had a table full of steaming buckwheat crêpes, warm fig butter, lustrous onion jam and a perfect way to spend my snow day. I made two batches of batter, one made from solely buckwheat flour, which is completely nontraditional. But I had no warning, and authentic batter should really rest over night and I unwilling to compromise. I want to have my crêpes and eat them too. Consequentially we will be finding all sorts of fillers for the endless stacks of toasty savory galettes which will be gracing our plates for the next couple of days as I could not resist the urge to mix up some more traditional batter, courtesy of David Lebovitz and fry them up tomorrow for dinner.
The filling for my crêpes today are from Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain, and are unbelievable delicious. She has this ingenious section of her book dedicated to fruit and vegetable jams and spreads to accompany all of her treats. My favorite: fig butter. I was first introduced to the idea of her fig butter when Heidi Swanson unveiled Kim’s Figgy Buckwheat scones on 101cookbooks. Since then have been looking for the perfect time to bring the heavenly butter into my life. I must confess my disappointment; the time which I let pass without consuming this butter is completely unacceptable. I could, no lie, eat this everyday. Possibly at every meal. It has a velvety, rich, deep flavor from the figs, wine, and butter but doesn’t leave a feeling of piggishness behind. It requires little hands on work aside from chopping off stems, boiling sugar, and getting out the food processor, and yields a sufficient amount to last (an insatiable girl) just about two weeks.
Perfection. The second filling was even more simple and just as ingenious. Onion jam will be finding its way into nearly all of my sandwiches from here on out. When onions cook down they turn into a heap of savory caramelized luxury ready to make any meal a feast. There is a reason that they make you cry, and it is happiness for what is about to come. It is as if they are forcing us to pay for the magnificence which if hidden behind their bite.
(Nontraditional) Buckwheat Crêpe
This recipe is actually gluten free as buckwheat has no relation to wheat. It also requires only a 15 minute rest which was the appeal for me. These are also a bit thicker than I am used to but delicious nonetheless. I used a 7 inch cast iron pan for the crêpe cooking, if you desire larger crêpes simply use a larger pan. I found the recipe here and followed it pretty precisely but I used salted (Baily’s Dairy!) butter and less salt.
1 cup buckwheat flour
2 tablespoons arrowroot (a thickening agent)
dash of salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 3/4 cups water
To make the batter simply sift the dry ingredients together into a medium sized bowl. Now whisk the eggs with the water and add the butter. When the wet ingredients are well mixed pour half into the buckwheat flour and stir until incorporated and smooth. Then pour the rest of the egg mixture and finish stirring. The mixture will be a pretty dark purple color and quite runny. Let it sit for 15 minutes. Just enough time to prepare the pan and finish up the fillings. Heat a cast iron pan over medium heat and coat it with butter. Add just under 1/4 cup of the batter to the hot pan and swirl it around so that it fills the entire bottom. When the crêpe batter has started to dry out on top, after 2 or 3 minutes, flip it over to briefly cook the other side. I used my fingers to do this. A spatula is safer but less effective. The first crêpe is always, always, always, a disaster. Keep the crêpes warm in a 200 degree oven. This recipe will make 10-12 crêpes. I am planning on freezing some leftovers by wrapping them individually in plastic wrap then sealing in a freezer bag.
Kim Boyce’s Fig Butter
These recipes are not published on the internet and I technically have no right to publish them. Consequentially I am going to HIGHLY recommend you make the decision to own your own copy of Good to the Grain if this looks good to you. I will leave a basic description of the recipe.
A little bit of sugar and water are boiled with cloves and star anise for about 10 minutes. Then lots of red wine and port and black mission figs and cinnamon are added to to the syrup. This mixture simmers for about 3o minutes and becomes a beautiful viscous maroon liquid. The concoction needs to come to room temperature for another 30 minutes or so before removing the cloves and star anise. Then the figs and their syrup are pureed with some soft butter. It is possibly the most indecent thing I have ever eaten.
Kim Boyce’s Onion Jam
See the notes above regarding Kim’s book. You can figure this one out on your own without a recipe. This onion jam with some sauteed mushrooms, horseradish, and hearty slices of bread could hardly make me happier. Although slathered inside a hot crêpe with butter I was quite delighted all day.
Slice a lot of onions. I think I used about 10 yellow cooking onions from Barnard’s Orchards. In a medium dutch oven heat some olive oil on medium high heat for a minute or two. Add the sliced onions and salt and coat them in the oil. Cook them on high until they just begin to brown. Turn down the heat and cover until they get a nice consistent golden. Remove the lid and let them look until they break down into a mass of jam like consistency. This all take about two hours and makes about a cup of savory jam.
February 10, 2011 § Leave a comment
As the cold weather has left me unmotivated to fix this pesky USB situation which has been hindering my ability to share all of the glorious things recently gracing my plate I will instead share some of the sites which have been gracing my browser’s tabs. There are so many amazing people on this Earth with so many different talents and insights and tastes, I can spend hours simply gawking at beautiful creations.
I have always wondered how to convert traditional baked goods into vegan goodies. Now I know. Because there are simply times when I want to feel really good when I eat things which are really good.
Similarly, the dreadfully anticipated Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, so my mind has been stuck on heart shaped scones made with browned butter, hazelnuts, and teff flour (USB, please work in time!).
David Lebovitz made something for World Nutella Day, and I happily altered it to my liking.
My newest fascination is here with insanely beautiful pictures of culinary and cloth creations.
So please don’t be fooled into thinking that I have only been sipping tea for the past couple of weeks (although that is exactly what I have been doing; on top of stuffing my face). I simply don’t have the images I would like to share uploaded yet. Shortly you will know all about the crepes, fig butter, onion jam, chocolate spread, hazelnut soup and much much more which has been filling my tummy.
January 13, 2011 § 2 Comments
There may be nothing like a cup of something warm after a trek through the snow. And if you spend more than an hour with me you will surely discover my affection for hot drinks. Namely the species of steeped bliss we call tea. A luxurious cup of Earl Grey is my current love as it is silky and rich while still leaving a refreshingly caffeinated murmur. Although I have had a little affair and just reveled in a lovely cup of white vanilla grapefruit. I would like to share some secrets of infusing a simple cup of hot water with some dried out ground up powder into a ritual of bringing a daily dose of delight into your life.
For starters, it is best to get out of the habit of relying on supermarket ‘Lipton’
teas shake. These are the lowest grade tea possible and are hardly passable as a blissful tea. Once you expose yourself to the glory of a real cup of tea, steeped with whole leaves, you may find yourself wondering how so many people are able to drink their stale, flat, and bland daily spot of tea.
There are many, quite convenient ways to find real tea. Most shopping malls will have a tea shop; Teavana for example has a nice collection and their staff is always helpful. Another option is Wegmans. They actually have a large stash hidden between the cheese counter and the organic bulk nuts. Although, surprise, surprise, I choose to acquire my blends from local vendors. Pure Blend shows up at my farmers markets doling out their hand blended teas and spices. I was quite infatuated with the pumpkin chai for a while, and the homemade komucha, a fermented tea containing everything which is good for you, is something sent straight from the Gods. Similarly, Mrs. Robinsons Tea Shop in Kennett Square has an immense collection of teas; herbal, caffeinated, decaffeinated, fruity blends, and all the tea paraphernalia you could desire. I could spend entirely too long sticking my nose into cups of the samples. Enough about the vendors.
Making tea is an ancient art form. I have discovered that the process should not be rushed. If you are going to rush through the procedure as you would making a cup of coffee, you might as well drink Lipton, or coffee (clearly I am biased). Take the 10 minutes and enjoy the simplicity of rewarding yourself with a cup of ecstasy.
Fun Fact: All true tea leaves comes from the same plant. True teas are black, oolong, green and white. The difference is when the tea leaves are harvested. As the tea is harvested younger it brews lighter i.e. black vs white. Consequentially black tea is rich and heavily caffeinated, while white tea is airy and contains almost no caffeine. In the morning I like to wake up to a cup of something bright and radient so I opt for lighter white or green teas. When afternoon rolls around and my mind is beginning to lag I steep some gorgeous and awakening Earl Grey spiked with notes of bergamot and citrus.
A Perfect Cup of Tea.
This will steep enough for two small cups of tea, enough for one to linger with a book or two friends to share over laughs.
Warm up a 16 oz teapot simply by filling it with hot water from the tap and allow to sit while you prepare everything else. This ensure that the pot is hot and won’t cool the water off when you steep the tea.
Heat 16 oz (2 cups) of water. Different teas require different water temperatures:
|Green Tea||160 degrees F||1 – 3 minutes|
|White Tea||180 degrees F||4 – 8 minutes|
|Oolong Tea||190 degrees F||1 – 8 minutes|
|Black Tea||Rolling Boil||3 – 5 minutes|
|Herbal (tisanes)||Rolling Boil||5 – 8 minutes|
Add 2 teaspoons of beautiful tea leaves to the filter or diffuser. Similarly, you can use a loose tea bag found at any well stocked tea shop, with 1 teaspoon of loose leaves.
When the water is at the right temperature pour it over the leaves.
Cover the teapot and allow it to steep for the correct time. Refer to the chart above.
While the tea is steeping add a sweetener or cream or nut milk (for black teas only) of your choice to your tea cup(s). I always choose honey. Nothing else.
After 1- 8 minutes remove the filter but save the leaves. They can be steeped again, up to 3 times.
Pour your gorgeous brew into the prepared cup.
Sit. Sip. And enjoy.
December 21, 2010 § Leave a comment
One: the ingredient list is minimal.
Two: the recipe is (almost) idiot proof.
Three: the flavor does not reveal statement one or two.
I like to make this soup with a wide range of flavors. Sometimes it is gingerly sweet, sometimes it is savory and herbed. This last batch revealed warm curry notes in the silky coconut broth. But what ever flavor the bubbling pot may unveil, the backbone of the soup is, for the most part, unwavering.
One squash will generally make four servings, so increase the number of squashes and other ingredients accordingly. Many times I use two varieties of winter squash for a more interesting flavor.
1 kabocha squash split in half length wise
1 apple chopped
2 onions chopped (or 4 shallots)
1 cup coconut milk (or vegetable broth)
3 tablespoons red curry paste (or seasonings of your choice)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Rub down the orange flesh of the squash halves with olive oil and sea salt and place on a baking sheet. Roast until the skin feels like butter upon being pierced, usually 30 minutes. This is just enough time to caramelize the apple and onions. In a medium/large pot heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil on medium low heat, you don’t want the oil to smoke. Now add the chopped apple and onion and some salt. If you are making a herby soup add some of the herbs. Cover the pot. Check on the onions periodically and give them a stir. After about 20 minutes remove the lid and let the steam escape for the last 10 minutes. At this point everything in the pot should be a lovely golden color and have a silken glow, the squash should be emitting a deeply honeyed aroma and may even be sitting in a puddle of juice. When the above criteria have been satisfied, remove the squash from the oven and let it cool for a moment. (I would now remove some of the caramelized mix and reserve as a topping). Then remove the skin by either peeling it off or scooping out the flesh and adding it to the pot of apple and onion with a pinch of salt. Give everything a stir and add the coconut milk/broth and curry/herbs. Add more water or broth to bring the consistency to your liking. Top with caramelized onions or toasted nuts or maybe croutons for some texture.