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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Olive Oil Cookies with Red Wine and Rosemary ...farewell food

Well, the time has come to say farewell to Bitty...sort of.  Over at IHCC, where we cook from one cook/chef for a six month time period, this is the last week of our Bittman months.  I know that I won't stop cooking and learning from him "in general", just won't be making a point of a weekly post.  So, to say tootles to one of my favorite guys, I baked him some cookies.  Some of his own cookies.  Does that seem backwards, somehow?  Nah... it's a tribute, right?  Some farewell food.  I thought they would be the perfect send-off...since they contain rosemary...for remembrance and red wine...for forgetance.  I'll miss having you in my life as much, Bitty...don't be a stranger.

Olive Oil Cookies w/ Red Wine and Rosemary
from The Minimalist Entertains by Mark Bittman
yield: ~4 dozen cookies

2½ c. ap flour
½ tsp. baking powder
pinch salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary leaves
¾ c. sugar
2 eggs
 ½ c. olive oil
 ¾ c. red wine, or a little more

Preheat oven to 375° F.  Combine the dry ingredients.  Beat the eggs w/ the olive oil and wine.  Use a rubber spatula to stir the liquid mix into th edry one, just until well combined; if the mixture is stiff, add a little more wine.

Drop by rounded teaspoons onto a lightly oiled cookie sheet and bake until browned, 12-15 minutes.  Cool for a couple of minutes, then remove to a rack to cool further. Store in a covered container for up to 3 days.
Starting next week, we'll be welcoming Giada DeLaurentiis to IHCC, so please join us if you like her.  Or don't like her.  Or are just interested in making up your mind.

***Attention Bittman devotees...all hope is not lost!  If you are still wanting a place to connect with other like-minded bloggers, my friend Alex of A Moderate Life is going to be opening up her Tackling Bittman project and sharing it with everybody!  Starting the first week in November, she'll be putting up a monthly linky for you to share what you've cooked with Bittman each month!!  Check out her past Tackling Bittman posts for more ideas...and don't let any dust gather on your Bittman books!***

*This post is linked to:
IHCC VFF familyfoodfridays WWFatHFL

Voting for PFB challenge #2 is NOW OPEN!! Please click HERE to vote for me...and my KARE KARE. Thank you ☺
Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Daigaku Imo ...Caramel-Coated Sweet Potato for Regional Recipes

Some of you may remember telling you of a time when I did not understand the glory of the sweet potato.  Can you imagine?  Until the time when I first tasted one of these gorgeous, orange tubers unadulterated;  roasted in its jacket...with nothing but a pat of golden butter to accentuate its natural sweetness...sticky-sweet juices peeking from the steam holes poked around the outsides before roasting.  That was all it took.  The skies opened up and a whole world of possibilities shone on the horizon!

I love sweet potatoes with a pat of butter, a smattering of bleu cheese and bacon, and a sprinkling of salt...that's my go-to.  But I also like to try different avenues.  I was flipping through a great book full of easy Japanese recipes in search of something to bring to the table for Regional Recipes this month when a page fell from my thumb...a page that required the fan of pages to stop.  Immediately.  Staring me in the face was THE exact thing I wanted in my belly.  I read the description on my way to the library check-out desk, eyes glued to the page...led only by memory and spidey-sense...desire building and tummy waking from its slumber.

"Daigaku imo (meaning "university potato") is so called because it was created to fill the stomachs of the young, cheaply and easily, and became very popular among university students living away from home.  This dish is eaten as a sweet snack as well as a dessert."

Daigaku Imo
(Caramel-Coated Sweet Potato)
from Easy Japanese Cookbook by Emi Kazuko
serves 4

2 Tbs. sea salt
3-4 sweet potatoes (~1½ lbs), sliced lengthwise and cut into ½" thick half-moons
oil for deep-frying
 ½ c. sugar
1 tsp. shoyu (soy sauce)
1 Tbs. black sesame seeds (black, white, or a mix)

Stir the salt into 2 c. water and add the sweet potatoes; leave 10 minutes, then drain and pat dry with paper towels. 

Heath the oil in a deep wok or pan to 200° F.  Gently slide in the potatoes and deep-fry, gradually increasing the heat to a higher temperature,5-6 minutes until crisp and golden. Remove w/ slotted spoon and drain on wire rack.

Put sugar and shoyu in a large saucepan w/ 5 Tbs. water. Heat over medium heat 5-6 minutes, stirring until mixture becomes syrupy. Remove pan from heat and fold in hot, fried potatoes. Sprinkle w/ sesame seeds and serve hot.
These are an amazing snack...the light shell of salty caramel softly envelopes the crisp outsides of the sweet potato...and then you bite in, exposing a tender, warm semi-circle of bliss.  It's the simple things in life, isn't it?


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Apple Coffee Cake w/ Pecan & Bacon Streusel

Feast your eyes on THE single most delectable cake I've eaten in...well...a long arse time!!!  It's a coffee cake, so it's good for breakfast, but don't count it out for dessert, lunch, dinner...heck, midnight snack, even!  Right after I made this...while it was still warm...I cut a quarter of the cake out, and like a fabulous, thoughtful neighbor, I marched next door.  I knocked.  I rang the bell.  I waited.  I repeated said steps.  Like a good neighbor.  Unfortunately for them and my thighs nobody was home.  Well, nobody answered the door, at least.  Once I we tried a slice...that was all she wrote!  I sincerely hope that my neighbors didn't choose today to peek into my inner-thoughts this place, cuz then I'll feel guilty.  And I'll have to make another Apple Coffee Cake with Pecan and Bacon Streusel.  That would be horrible.  Maybe I should remind them once again that I'm a food blogger...and that is why I'm always outside primping the food and straddling the picnic table.  Because guilt is an awful thing.

Apple Coffee Cake with Pecan and Bacon Streusel
from Deb's Test Kitchen (Rick Bayless newsletter Sept. '10)
Serves 8 to 10

Streusel Topping
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 ounces pecans
6 tablespoon butter (3/4 stick), softened to room temperature
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 slices crispy bacon, crumbled

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour (8 ounces), plus extra for the cake pan and the apples
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick butter, softened, plus extra for the cake pan
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sour cream
1 pound firm, tart cooking apples (2 - 3 apples) peeled, cored, and cut into a medium dice

1/4 to 1/3 cup warm cajeta

Set your oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch x 2-inch round baking pan. Line the bottom with a parchment round, and sides with 2" strip of parchment paper.

In a food processor, pulse together all the streusel ingredients except for the bacon until well combined. The mixture should hold together, but still be a little crumbly. Scoop the streusel into a bowl and mix in the crumbled bacon.

Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time beating after each addition. Pour in the vanilla and scrape in the sour cream. Mix until smooth. Add the flour mixture and mix on medium low until the mixture is smooth, taking care not to overmix. Toss the apple pieces with 1 tablespoon flour, then fold them into the batter. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the top. Bake the cake for 65 to 70 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the middle of cake comes out clean. Cool the cake completely in pan before unmolding. Once unmolded, drizzle the warm cajeta over the top.
Work it...
Own it....
Seriously, make this now.  Or I will.  Oooooh, scarey, huh?  I bet your thighs are quivering at the thought... oh wait, those are my thighs.

flash-back Friday Cookin' for my Captain
Sunday, September 26, 2010

Kare Kare (a traditional Filipino dish)

How is it that something brand-new can seem so familiar?  I'm standing in my kitchen, thirty four years old, one minute...and the next, I'm thirteen years old again and running up my friend Christine's staircase.  The one in her gigantic or so it seemed house. My bangs are plastered up...the sides of my hair plastered out.  Waterfalls and wings.  My stocking covered toes are digging into the plush carpet as I practice my dance moves and sing along to Paula Abdul ...he's a cold-hearted snake.... Christine hands me her camera so I can take a picture of her with her larger-than-life-sized poster of Martin Gore and the rest of the Depeche Mode guys (though he's the one she has a crush on).   These are the things that I remember on the surface...but underneath lies the exotic, seductive smell memories.  The ones that crept out of the kitchen where her tiny Filipino grandma was every single time I went to her house.  And I was at her house a LOT!  We would walk through the front doors- double doors... that was unheard me. ...and the scent would begin to seduce me.

I'm sure that underneath that mysterious medley, there were individual scents that I would recognize if given the opportunity, but by the time we walked through the doors, they were already in the midst of their heady marriage and my chance to take a peek had vanished.   I was always mesmerized by those unfamiliar smells that came from Christine's kitchen.  And yet, looking back, I cannot remember ever eating a meal in her Filipino kitchen.  Not once.  I mean, how does two years of being close friends with a 100% Filipino somebody pass by without ever sitting down to an authentic Filipino meal?  We ordered a lot of pizza.  That I remember.  Could it be that thing that first generation children go through?  Trying to "forget" their ethnic identities and just blend in with their friends?  I'm thinking it probably was...although I wish that my thirteen year old self had just once thought to ask her friend if she could eat a home cooked, authentic-Filipino meal that her grandma had made.  Typical kid.
Saturday, September 25, 2010

Fettuccine w/ Heirloom Tomatoes

Hi guys!!  I have a real quickie for ya today!  I'm still in the throes of heirloom madness, so just a simple and perfectly delicious bowl of fettuccine...bathed in the flavors of get ya through the day.  I'm busy at work racking my brain, researching, making shopping lists, and praying my dish for PFB challenge #2 will turn out as the way I plan!!  I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of you who took a little time to vote for me in round one...I appreciate more than words can express! 

Pasta w/ Cherry Heirloom Tomatoes
adapted from Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express

Boil salted water for pasta and cook it; meanwhile, cook a 4 minced garlic cloves in olive oil for a couple of minutes, until fragrant.  Add about a pound of whole cherry or grape quartered heirloom tomatoes to the pan and cook over low heat.  When a few have burst softened, turn off the heat.  Drain the pasta and toss it gently with the tomatoes.  Season with salt and lots of freshly ground pepper; serve with freshly chopped basil and/or freshly grated Parmesan.

This is my IHCC Potluck entry for the week, as well as my Presto Pasta Nights submission, which I'll be sending to Ruth of Once Upon a Feast (who is the creator as well as the host this week of PPN) and my Cookbook Sundays submission!  To find any of those events, please click on the buttons below!!

Have an amazing weeked- and good luck to everybody else working diligently on their submissions!!!  Fingers crossed... ☺

*This post is linked to:
IHCC PrestoPastaNights cookbook sundays

Friday, September 24, 2010

Jalebis and Garam Chai inspired by Climbing the Mango Trees for Cook the Books Club

I was as I often find myself completely enamored by our most recent Cook the Books selection...which was Climbing the Mango Trees by Madhur Jaffrey.  It was a memoir...a lively, tempting, honest journey of a girl growing up in India...a girl who grew up in a different time...a different a completely different culture...and yet, I found myself connecting with her on a deeper level.  The vivid descriptions of a young girl and her family...making her way through life, recalling events through the food that was associated with them...on a mission to find the place in the world which she belonged, because she knew there was more out there than she presently knew!  "The life I was living was not my real life.  I was convinced that I belonged in another world.  I had no idea what that world might be, I just knew that I had not found it yet.  One day it would happen.  I would step out of one life and into another one-the one I was meant to be in.  I was oddly calm and optimistic about it."  Some people are just meant for more.

Jaffrey's descriptions of the traditional foods of Indian....and all of the cultures and influences that made their way into it had my mouth watering and my hands bookmarking the whole way through.  One of the memories that touched my soul was of school lunch.  She and her friends, a mini melting pot of Muslim, Hindu and Punjabi girls who couldn't guess that fate...and a division in their own country...would divide them one day not too far in the future.  When lunch period arrived, they would all grab their tiffin carriers and run to a remote section of grass, taking refuge from the heat under rows of tall shady trees.  They would excitedly share their amazing, handmade lunches... tier by tier...unstacking the wonders that were nestled inside.  "It was not so much the ingredients- the ingredients we used at home were not all that different, though we did use less chili powder- as the hand that put these ingredients together, and the order and timing it chose to use.  That hand had a different rhythm, a different energy from my mother's, and from our own Hindu cooks from Himalayan villages.  It produced a Muslim result."  I instantly drifted to memories of Mexi telling me how it just tastes different when I make a sandwich than when he makes a sandwich.  It tastes better coming from my hands....and I know that it actually IS about the energy of the hands that make that food.

So, I could go on and on about the parts of Jaffrey's book that spoke to me in whispers...or SCREAMED through my being, but instead, I'll just recommend that you read it for yourself.  You may hear something similar...or something all together different.  While I was tempted to make numerous things throughout the book, there was a memory that wouldn't leave me was as if it were my own.  I'm positive it's the comfort I feel when the sky opens up and soaks the world around me...the love of a magnificent thunderstorm...the way the earth feels cleansed.  Combined with with the marvel that is wind...I love to stand in it, close my eyes, and lift me chin...sniffing like an indoor cat at an open window...feeling my hair whip across my face.  Although I've never experienced a monsoon, I want to that sounds horrible, but I can't help myself  I somehow knew just how she must have felt when in the midst of the oppressive summer heat... " was a faraway smell, almost as if we were imagining it.  Soon the entire sky was dark with black clouds. thunder boomed from all sides, accompanied by zigzags of lightning.  The earth seemed hotter than ever.  First one or two fat drops of rain fell, then more and more, until there was a deluge.  Suddenly the heat broke, as if some shell encasing us had been cracked open.  We all....held our faces up to the sky, and allowed ourselves to get thoroughly soaked.  The monsoon season had finally arrived.  We could now feast on monsoon sweets, the squiggly pretzel-shaped jalebis, dunking them in glasses of cold milk as we gazed dreamily at the downpour."  At the same time I longed to step back in time and share a slice of Jaffrey's India, I also ached to get into the kitchen! 

I can imagine how perfectly a cold glass of milk tasted alongside the jalebis in the heat, but I was craving another treat mentioned in the that I've only ever ordered from coffee houses...or tasted from a weak, boxed blend.  I definitely wanted a cup of homemade chai alongside my jalebis...

Garam Chai
adapted from IndiaCurry
yield: ~5 c.

3 c.  water
3 c.  milk
¼ c. honey
1" cinnamon stick, broken
6 whole cloves, slightly bruised
6 whole green cardamom pods, cracked
6 whole black peppercorns, slightly bruised
½ tsp. powdered ginger
1 tsp. fennel seeds, slightly bruised
4 Black Tea tea bags
good grating off of a whole nutmeg

half 'n half (optional)

Place everything except the half 'n half in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer slowly for ~30 minutes.  Strain mixture.  Keep refrigerated.  When ready to serve, heat ¾ c. mixture w/ ¼ c. half 'n half in a small pot or in the microwave...or just drink it straight w/out adding the half 'n's good both ways!  I also like it served cold.
I made the chai a day in advance, and then re-heated a cup to eat with my jalebis once they were hot and ready.  I also tried it with a cold cup of chai, which was equally good...but a whole 'nother taste sensation.

recipe adapted slightly from IndiaCurry

1½ c. ap flour (maida)
¼ c. yogurt (dahi)
¼ tsp. baking soda

oil for frying

1½ c. sugar
1½ c. water

Mix the flour and yogurt together.  It will look a bit clumpy and stringy.  Cover and let sit at room temperature overnight to ferment.  Just before you're ready to use, sprinkle the baking soda over the mixture, then whisk in a little bit of tepid water at a time.  It should be slightly thicker than pancake batter.  Heat the oil to ~375° F.  Put the batter into a bastry bag or a zippered baggy and cut the tip off.  When the oil is hot, pipe the batter in squiggly lines or spirals into it.  Fry until golden on both sides, just a few minutes total.

Just before you're getting ready to mix the water into your batter, put the sugar and the water into a pot and bring to a boil.  Continue to let it boil for ~15 minutes, or until it is a thick syrup.  Set it to the side.

As you lift the fried dough from the hot oil, dip it into the sugar syrup and transfer to a rack or serving plate.  Eat immediately!

*all of the quotes listed were taken from Climbing the Mango Trees by Madhur Jaffrey ...they were some of my favorite moments of her memoir...


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mabon Marigold Honey Wheat Bread, Spiced Apple Butter and Rosemary (or Thyme) Honey

Why, oh why, does time go so quickly?  Or should I ask how?  It is already that time of year when the sun crosses the celestial equator and moves south in the Northern Hemisphere...a time when the Northern and Southern Hemispheres both receive the same amount of light as they do dark...or the Autumnal Equinox...Mabon!  It all falls somewhere between the 21st and the 23rd of September...but I'm never really sure of the exact these three days just sort of become an extended celebration!  The beginning of my favorite time of the year. 

It seems that I'm falling into a routine of bread baking to welcome in the seasons this year.  Hey, I can live with that.  My Mabon loaves were inspired by this Dark Mother Bread.  I used up the end of my first jar of the Marigold Honey that I've become so enamored with...

Mabon Marigold Honey Wheat Bread
from the kitchen of girlichef
Yield: 2 loaves

2 c. warm water
1 Tbs. active dry yeast
3 c. white whole wheat flour
1 tsp. salt
6 Tbs. melted butter, at room temp or just barely warm
3 ½ c. bread flour + a little extra

after baking:
~½ Tbs. butter, melted for brushing on top of loaf after baking (optional)

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Using a wooden spoon, add honey and mix well.
Stir in the whole wheat flour, salt, and butter. Add in the bread flour, in ~ 3 additions…you may have to work the last bit in with your hands.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured countertop, and knead for ~10 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic. Form into a ball. Lightly oil a large bowl and place dough in, turning once to get a thin coat of oil all around. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside until doubled in size, ~1 hour.

Punch down the dough, then turn out of the bowl. Cut in half, and place in two greased loaf pans. Allow to rise again until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 375° F and bake for ~30-35 mins., or until golden and fragrant. Immediately after you remove  from the pans (while still warm),  brush the tops with some melted butter, if using. Allow to cool in pan for ~10 minutes before transferring to wire rack to finish cooling.
These loaves turn out soft (from the addition of the butter in the dough), studded with marigold petals, and light...with a hint of sweetness.
The perfect accompaniment...
Spiced Apple Butter
from the kitchen of girlichef
yield: ~1 pint
This can be made either in a pot or in the crockpot...which is what I used this time.  So easy to just put everything in and let that magical pot do its thang.

~2 lbs. apples, peeled, cored & quartered
½ tsp. pure vanilla (or ½ of a vanilla bean)
1/4 c. brown sugar
big pinch ground cinnamon
good grating of nutmeg
small pinch of ground cloves
few pieces of crystallized ginger
1 whole star anise
big pinch sea salt

Place the apples and the vanilla in a crockpot (this amount fits in a small 2 qt. pot), cover and cook on low for 4½ hrs.

Lift lid and smash the apples up a bit with a fork or spoon.  Add all of the seasonings.  Replace lid and cook on high for another 4 hours or so...until dark and thick.  Warning...your house will smell irresistible to all who pass by and get a whiff!

Remove the star anise, the blend it all up with an immersion blender or in a stand up blender ('s hot!!) to get a smooth butter.  Store in a sealed jar in the fridge.
You could also toast the bread and spread it with a good bit of this...

Rosemary (or Thyme) Honey
Place a bunch of rosemary (or thyme) into a clean glass jar.  Heat some honey until it is just warm and pourable.  Pour over herbs. That's it!
Okay, I realize that's actually a picture of the thyme honey that I labeled rosemary honey. DOH! 
 Eat some at home with your family, friends and loved ones...and pack a basket to give to others in the spirit of giving...
My basket to celebrate the harvest includes Marigold Honey Wheat Bread, Spiced Apple Butter, Rosemary Honey, Witches Brew spiced red wine, a bunch of sage, some apples, a squash, some seed pods and some corn stalks turning from green to brown.  The basket itself symbolizes the gathering of the crops...the herbs, apples, squash, honey, wheat, seed pods, and corn stalks symbolize the culmination of the harvest brought in this year, and the transition to cooler temperatures and putting up the crops.
Bring on the Autumn fruits and veggies...and harvest foods...and comfort meals...corn mazes...squash, gourd and pumpkin and pear orchards...YES!

*This post is linked to:
BYOB YeastSpotting
*Voting is still open for the Project Food Blog competition...please take a moment to click here and vote for me.  You can vote for more than one contestant, if you so desire!  Thank you.*
Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Purslane, Heirloom Tomato, & Onion Salad

How do you wish summer adieu?  I prefer to round up a bunch of those warm, juicy globes that look ready to burst from their stems.  Then I snip some of the weeds that I purposefully let grow at their feet.  Maybe I'll even fish a small onion out of its earthen home.  Yes, I think this is the perfect way to give thanks to the beautiful harvest that I was blessed with this year...not huge, but definitely enough for our family.  I saw this salad over at Fat of the Land and just knew it was destined for our table.

Purslane, Heirloom Tomato, and Onion Salad

-(ripe, juicy) heirloom tomatoes...of any variety
-big bunch of Purslane
-small onion, sliced thin
-salt & freshly ground black pepper

Slice your tomatoes into quarters, lengthwise.

Clean the purslane and cut the small bunches off of the thick stems.

Toss the tomatoes, purslane, and onions.  Sprinkle the whole thing with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  The juice from the tomatoes should be enough to form a "dressing" of sorts.  If it doesn't seem moist enough, squeeze a couple of the tomato quarters to help release the juices.

This is my entry into Grow Your Own (GYO) which I am hosting this month.  Don't forget to send me your entries by the end of the month (click on GYO for more info)!  Your post can contain anything you've either grown, hunted, foraged, fished, or raised yourself...or been given by someone else who has done those things. It just needs to be from the month of September.  I'm looking forward to seeing what is local in your area!

*update 2/5/11: I am sharing this with Val at More Than Burnt Toast for "Have a Heart"!
*6/23/11: Also linking up to Renee at My Kitchen Adventures and her Summer Salad Event!
*6/29/11:  *Get Grillin’ with Family Fresh Cooking and Cookin’ Canuck, sponsored by Ile de France CheeseRösleEmile HenryRouxbe and ManPans.