Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Doogh, summer heat and my favorite salt

The sunny, lazy days of summer are here a bit early this year. Spring has more summer than in it than I've experienced in a while and all of Seattle is responding in kind with tank tops, ice cream strolls and grocery stores running out of ice.
In all my years sweating out spring, summer and early fall in Los Angeles I learned a few tricks on how to cope with the heat. Cool drinks were always my salvation. Ice tea to be sure but also doogh was always high on my cooling drinks list.
I just made my self a tasty batch and sip away while the fan blows my hair, Chavela Vargas croons and I type away on my dusty old blog...

Makes enough for 2

1 cup fresh plain yogurt (homemade is preferable, but a store bought works, too)
1 cup + 2T cold water
Splash of club soda
pinch of salt
pinch of lime, rose petal and cumin salt*
pinch of dried mint

Loads and loads of ice

Mix up the yogurt and water so there are no lumps (blender works best). Fill two highball glasses halfway with ice, pour in the yogurt-water to fill 3/4. Top with club soda and stir. Sprinkle and the salt and spices onto the top and guzzle.

*I make my own (recipe below), optional

Lime, Rose Petal and Cumin Salt
4-5 Persian dried limes, insides discarded, ground to a fine powder
2T toasted and ground cumin
3-4 dried rose heads, petals only ground to a coarse powder

I like to source my dried limes at a local bodega style persian market. It's a very welcome addition to our pantry, so don't be modest in your purchase. I use a coffee grinder dedicated to grinding spices to reduce it to a powder. This is very difficult to pull off with a mortar and pestle and I don't recommend it!
Grind all of the spices individually and then measure them together in a measuring cup. Add the salt at the ratio 3:2, spice to salt.

I use this salt on legumes, salads that feature avocado, poached chicken and loads of other applications, including doogh.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Wonderbag and Socially Conscious Cooking

A dear friend brought a new product to my attention recently that has really gotten me thinking. For years I've lived without a slow cooker. I've pondered one because I spend so much kitchen cooking time using my slow oven. I would be a good user for an AGA that stays lit all year round. Well, perhaps not truly- I could end up implementing my best sailor curses at a cooker that doesn't have any controls or knobs. I like controls and settings.

A picture by my son depicting an "egg making farm" (non sequitor noted)
But I digress. Last summer we bought a kamado grill so that I could do long slow roasts after we grilled and then we would dine regally all week on rumps and roasts. It worked out beautifully. Well, until the rains started and my willingness to cook outside waned. I would have made a terrible cavewoman. So back to running the oven for hours on end at 250°.

Then the Wonderbag came on my radar, thanks to another post made by my sweet friend Zakiyah. It's such an elegant solution to the low and slow power suck. Hopefully. Mine comes in the mail sometime early next week. I'm not sure when it's twin will arrive at the doorstep of the family in Africa they send concurrently. I hope that I can make luscious dinners without power. I hope that it helps that other family. I hope we all have full bellies and happy hearts.

More soon!

A divine meal at Artusi and dePuy lentil ideas for a friend

It's been far too long since my last post. No good excuses, except that perhaps I was too busy eating.

This past weekend we finally made it to Artusi in lovely Capitol Hill. I think of all the meals we have missed only having just caught up with them... such a shame. So I plan to make up for lost time and eat there often. 
Several dishes we had inspired me to rush home and figure them out. One bit of perfection was the Steelhead Conserva with Salsa Apicius and pickled green peppercorns. If I have tasted it before ordering I would have asked for two or five. I could eat this dish until my stomach burst...

I was also inspired by the shaved cauliflower with burdock, which doesn't sound like much but I am always keen to see what restaurants do with veggies. They have tossed the pretty little crucifer with colatura, toasted pinenuts, shaved parmesan & Pinot Grigio vinegar. I did almost exactly the same at home, using my trusty bottle of Nam Pla instead of the colatura and trading the Pinot Grigio vinegar for my prized Moscatel vinegar (sourced at The Pantry at Delancey. I put it on everything). I may drive my husband through the roof with this dish, because I plan on making it a staple in our house because it's so virtuous and incredibly flavorful.

dePuy Lentils

My friend Lisa asked me recently about how I cook my lentils because she was looking for ideas and I think like most home cooks, they're a bit of a mystery to her. I've shared my recipe verbally so many times over the years, it's seems like it's time to write it down... the trick is steaming the little bean. But I get ahead of myself.

Lentils with anything
Serves 4

1 cup lentils, soaked in water for 3 hours or more
2 T olive oil
1T balsamic vinegar
1 leek or 2 shallots, cut into a chiffonade

optional ingredients:
roasted red peppers, feta, fried eggplant, herbs, fava leaves (if you can find them!), braised escarole...

Teff Waffles and the Beauty of the Kitchen Mistake

This is a recipe born out of a kitchen mistake. I make many but, considering the volume of cooking I turn out every day, they're to be expected. And they delight me when they produce a good recipe or prove a bit of the culinary chemistry. Learning moments.

I have recently fallen head over heels for a website/brand/recipe source called Food52. Man, do they know how to woo an impressionable gal like me with recipes while they secretly sell me more items for my ever expanding kitchen.

To prattle on a bit longer, the mistake all began when my dear friend Zakiyah posted about chia seeds on that social network. Until then, I had written off this gardening matter as a fad food and not worth investigation or mastication. Then I thought, what the heck, her other friends seemed to rally behind this humble seed, so I should make some and find out if they appeal to me.

Food52 provided me with a tidy little recipe which started with making almond milk and involved plenty of overnight soaking, which is seriously one of my favorite things. So I was very happy.
Now for the accident. Or maybe we could just call it a very dumb moment. I used whole teff instead of chia seeds. In my defense, I do have a very full pantry, I shop in many stores, in many bulk areas and hard as I try to canister and label everything up... well, I have a lot of unlabeled bags floating around. Compound that with my unfamiliarity with chia seed and it's an understandable mistake. One which, erm, took me almost 12 hours to figure out.
Teff on the left, chia on the right. Not exactly twins...

So I drained off the thick liquid meant to hydrate the chia seeds and plump them into slightly crunchy tapioca goodness. I hate throwing any food away that could be useful so I kept the teff blob thinking I'd make a pudding or a stew with spices so strong the blueberry would be masked. But no need! The magic fridge yielded many nice waffle ingredients- whey, almond meal leftover from the almond milk, lovely treacle-like syrup (I couldn't tell you the name but my crafty friend Sara begged some off of the chef at Wandering Goose)...

Here's the recipe. It's lovely. I don't know if soaking the teff for 24+ hours made a difference. I doubt it. If you're someone who makes nut milks this should be a good use for your nut meal. And it's accidentally vegan. This yields 8 waffles in my handy dandy Presto Flipside waffle maker (which I love love love- all other waffles irons be damned).

1 quart whey (buttermilk/water or yogurt/water can be substituted)
meal from 1 cup almonds (leftover from almond milk production)
1 cup teff
4 T Lyle's Golden Syrup, maple syrup, treacle (not dark)
2 eggs, beaten slightly
1/2 - 1 cup canola oil (your call on how wet you like your waffles)
3 1/2 cups flour
4 t baking powder
2 t baking soda
1 t maldon sea salt or 1 1/2 t kosher

Preheat your waffle iron.
Mix all of your liquids together. In a big bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Then pour in the liquid mixture and whisk until combined.
I use a 1 cup measure with a pouring spout for my waffles. My little flipside pal fills perfectly with one cup of batter and it makes the process a lot less messy than pouring out of a big bowl.
They should cook in 3 minutes.
The boys loved them with maple syrup and I had mine au natural.

Oh, and as a side note. I did make the chia seed tapioca and it was really good. I'm completely fascinated by these little seeds now. Thinking up new ways to use them, like this cocktail I made in LA with hydrated basil seeds...
The Frogspawn

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Summer picnic salad, crab season practice, lamb's quarters

Well, I've managed to neglect the blog for nearly half a year. If it were a garden it would be bursting with nettles, blackberry vines and horsetail by now. Yum, actually...
Last weekend we had a potluck barbecue at the beach and I opted to throw a side of Copper River Sockeye basted with Basil and Green Olive Pesto. We also brought a farro salad that enjoyed a nice reception, probably thanks to the little nuggets of Salumi Guanciale hiding in nearly every bite. There have been requests for both recipes so I shall provide them down below. All told it was a perfect day at the beach, cool in the shade tan-worthy in the sun. I think we may be paying for our good luck with the dreary clouds that set in at the crack of dawn Monday morning. Aaah, well. It is a Seattle summer after all!
I have a very big party I'm cooking for on glorious Lopez Island late this summer and one of the things we'll be cooking up is locally caught crab (and if we're lucky, Spot Prawns from nearby San Juan). To get my chops back on crab, I bought three yesterday: one live (to my four year old's screaming glee, he lived in the bathtub for several hours. A sort of edible pet), one cooked and chilled and a final one flash cooked and frozen on the boat off of Dungeness Bay. I need to see how I like the frozen crab, some really love it. It's a big test- in order to feed up to 75 people locally caught crab it's going to take some freezing ahead so no crabbing rules are broken, I suppose... The big recipe I wanted to try first was a yuzu-miso sauce with lime beurre blanc. It sounds extra fancy and fussy but took about 6 minutes to create after I set things up (another 5 minutes)- all told, far quicker than prepping the crab. I haven't tried the frozen crab yet, but the sauce was incredibly nice.
One of my crab partners-in-crime arrived with a grocery bag full of lamb's quarters. I blanched them for 30 seconds with large sprigs of cilantro and then sauteed the whole bit in olive oil and a big dollop of the Yuzu-Miso Sauce. Delightful!

Now onto the recipes. Sadly, I didn't take any pictures- too busy making sure my kiddo didn't test out the live crab's reflexes. I will try to post some pictures when it's crab practice part 2!

Farro and Butternut Squash Salad
2 cup pearled farro (non pearled will take quite a bit longer to cook and should be soaked in a slightly salted brine overnight)
5 cups homemade chicken stock
dash kosher salt

1t olive oil, plus more if needed
1/4 cup Salumi Guanciale*, cut to 1/4" cubes
2 cups butternut squash, cut into thin 2" slices
2 cups leeks, cleaned, quartered end to end and sliced to 1/4" pieces
1/2 cup garden herbs (I used rosemary, lemon thyme, parsley, sage but play around if you don't have these), loosely packed

Balsamic vinegar
Walnut Oil

First, cooked your farro. Give it a quick wash in a colander, allow to drain a minute and then add to the chicken stock and salt in a large saucepan you can cover. If you don't have homemade stock, that's fine- just leave out the salt as commercial stock can be salty. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. The farro will be cooked in about 20 minutes, go a little longer to allow the farro to fully absorb the stock.
Now, I am a lazy cook. I knew I would be making this salad for the Sunday party, so Friday night while making dinner I cooked the farro and then put the whole pot in the fridge before bed (once it had cooled). On Saturday, I prepped the veg and left them in the fridge as well, leaving only 10 minutes of prep on party day. Of course, you can do everything all at once, but I like to stretch the prep out.
Heat the olive oil in a wide, high sided saute pan over a medium high flame. Use a spoon to make sure the whole surface is coated then add your guanciale. Cook for 2-3 minutes then add the squash, leek and herbs and a healthy pinch of salt, saute for 6-8 minutes. If you notice they are a bit dry add some olive oil, 1 T at a time. When the veggies have a tinge of brown, empty the pan into a large mixing bowl. Add the farro and season to taste with balsamic and walnut oil, starting with 1 T of each. I did two additions, but trust your own taste.
Chill and serve.
A nice addition to this salad is goat cheese and to make it a whole meal, you can serve it on a bed of greens like mizuna, butter lettuce or arugula.

* any kind of guanciale will do, even pancetta in a pinch, but a combination of Seattle pride and favoritism make Salumi's guanciale my best choice.

Miso-Yuzu Sauce
1/4 c lime juice
3 T finely chopped shallot
1/4 c butter

2 T shiro miso
1/4 cup sake
2 T yuzu vinegar

First, make a beurre blanc with the first three ingredients.
Over medium flame, heat the lime juice with the shallot for 2 minutes, making sure the juice does not completely evaporate. Then add the butter in 4 parts, whisking after each addition.
Now add the miso and sake in. Cook for 2 minutes and then remove from heat and stir in the yuzu vinegar.
This sauce is lovely on crab and also mixed into greens. We also tried it on rice vermicelli to lovely results.

Basil and Green Olive Pesto
This is a bit more of a tapenade than a pesto, but it is so very green I couldn't resist the misplaced moniker!
1 cup packed basil leaves
1/2 loose cup italian parsley
3 garlic cloves
1 cup pitted green olives, Castelveltrano or Bellas
1/4 c walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup peppery olive oil, Columela is a favorite
Mix all ingredients, except olive oil, in a food processor and blitz for 3 minutes, streaming the olive oil in once the ingredients are chopped. Scrape sides down and process a further 1 minute. The mixture should be smooth.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A new, perhaps terrible, liqueur in our cabinet

To be fair, the name "Blackmaker Root Beer Liqueur" should have been warning enough. Root Beer is great, especially homemade root beer. Especially on a hot summer day. But turn it into alcohol and its presence in drinks takes me back 20 years when most of the people around me were looking to their "cocktails" to be as close to soda pop as possible (I was a snob- I liked bourbon and brandy).
But what can I say, I'm a sucker for a nice label. And look at that label- very typographic and the illustration reminds me of nice woodcut. So I'm a sucker.
I mixed it up in equal parts with the Russell's Reserve we were gifted at Christmas (again, I'm a snob and we're only using it mixed), squeezed in half a meyer lemon and then shook shook shook with ice. Voila! Poured into tiny taster cocktail glasses. Blech. Horrid. I would rather suck on bad cough drops.
Then it occurred to me. Thanks to my generous Santa of a husband, I have a lifetime supply of various bitters in hand.
A few dashes (really it takes a lot of bitter to take the sweet off this drink!) and the whole things was transformed. Complex palate revealed, warm on the way down (which is so nice after a day in the snow) and disaster averted. The Blackmaker is made with nutmeg, wintergreen, cinnamon, clove, ginger, sweet birch and anise. Thanks to the bitter all but the wintergreen revealed itself, trailed by a little bit of vanilla that was hiding in the Russell's.
If you're dying to try this cocktail, here's the real portions:
1.5 oz Blackmaker Root Beer Liqueur
1.5 oz Russell's Reserve 10 year Bourbon
3 dashes of Regan's Orange Bitters (No. 6)
1 t fresh lemon juice (I used Meyer Lemon)
Loads of ice, shaken for half a good dance song, decant into one luxurious up drinks glass or two smaller Thin Man Era glasses if you'd like to share.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A friend asks for a recipe, I post

I'm trying to make it a new policy that when a friend asks for a recipe that I post it here. I could be saying "if I had a nickel..." it happens so often, but instead I'm trying to find a system that binds me to my original goal with this blog- to write about the foods that I'm inspired by right now and give recipes.

This recipe is one I used to pull out all the time when I wanted to have duck but was too poor to buy. I found a version of it in an old cookbook I dug up at one of my favorite old bookstores, Powell's, about a hundred years ago when I was first cheffing for a living. I served it up at my first secret restaurant dinner so many years ago in San Francisco and was met with the hearty approval by my guests. Add a little lump of quickly braised greens and you have a minimally laborious meal.

I hope that my friends continue to ask me for recipes- I do love giving them out.

The only downside to this new plan, is I don't really have pictures of the food I'm advising you to make. But since I like pictures so much, in honor of the impromptu Farmer's Market Blackberry-Raspberry Jam I made tonight- here's something to drool over.

Now onto the recipe (pardon the format, a small hat tip to some of my cookbooks from the 20s and 30s, hope it's legible enough to follow):


Well, first you have to buy a ton (well, 5 pounds) of rock salt. The kind for ice cream works best. Now buy a whole chicken. Take out the neck and gizzards and whatnot. Clean her all up, pat her dry and leave her overnight in the fridge, on a rack, uncovered (air circulation). If you had a very cold protected place to hang her up that's ideal, but who has that?
Now, it's been at least 12 hours and you're ready. Take an orange, pierce little holes in it, about 10 total. Drop a bay leaf inside the gal, then shove the orange in and some scallion whites, cut to 3-4". Sew it up if your feeling fancy (call it dressing her if you're feeling really really fancy). Let her rest.
In a good sized wok, heat up your 5 pounds of rock salt, covered works well, over medium high heat is best. This will take a while and you'll hear hissing and popping when it's ready. Have a large bowl or pan nearby.
Spoon out about 2/3 of the rock salt into your spare pan/bowl, leaving a decent valley in the bottom of the wok, making sure you have about an inch of depth. Place your dried, dressed bird on top and quickly (but carefully, very hot) spoon the salt you removed back onto the bird. Try and make sure you have completely covered her back up. It should just look like a little hill of glistening, piping hot salt.
Cover with the lid and cook over medium low heat for 1 hour.
Remove the bird from the salt and then let her rest for 10-15 minutes. Get your cleaver ready. This is your chance to work on your best tough guys poses with the cleaver. If you're anything like me, you won't look so tough when you're actually trying to perform carving magic on that bird.
Now that the bird has rested, chop into halves (somewhere around her waist. Now half those end to end. Chop the breasts into halves and the leg joints as well.
Serve with hoisin sauce mixed with hot chili oil and some finely chopped fresh scallion.