April 8th, 2013 § § permalink
I was walking to my car one day in my teens when I heard some frantic chirping – the kind that comes from small hungry little birdies. I was a bit more than shocked to find a nest on the ground where it had fallen from the tree above. I tried saving those chicks. I’m no mother bird.
I was told to always leave little birds alone because mother birds will not come back to the nest if you disturb them… Is this true? My favorite nests to find are always empty because somewhere some little birds are all grown up. Spring is beautiful.
A few weeks ago right before Easter, I was making a lovely pizza with garlic thread – thinly sliced green garlic green garlic. I love charred green garlic. This pizza uses green garlic pesto, peas, asparagus, and eggs – all the great things that you should eat this time of year… This photo depicts a pastry version that is overly decadent dinner, but I’m sure it will also make a great brunch dish.
To build a nest
Gather: 1 Dufour Puff Pastry, 1 cup of shaved asparagus, 1 cup of green garlic thread, green garlic pesto, 1/4 c blanched fresh peas, grated mozzarella cheese, grated parmesan cheese, soft boiled eggs.
Assemble: Using a large bowl and pizza cutter, cut a round pastry circle – cut strips out of the discards (the puff pastry is square) and layer them around the edges to resemble a bird nest. I was very loose with my design… Then, evenly spread 1/4 cup pesto with fresh blanched peas on top of the nest surface. Sprinkle some parmesan and mozzarella on top. Lastly, weave a bird’s nest out of layers of cheese, asparagus, and green garlic (you can also do this on a chopping board and then slide it onto the pastry when done). You will have to re-chill your pastry for 30 minutes before baking.
Bake: Preheat oven to 375 and bake until golden brown. Serve immediately with soft boiled eggs.
December 12th, 2012 § § permalink
Granola. The word crunchy comes to mind, like walking on fresh fallen snow-covered leaves.
Breakfasting on granola is a contemplative effort because granola doesn’t try to please, it definitely doesn’t sound pretty, and it certainly is not polite. I have resisted granola because I am vegetarian, partially because I don’t like to be placed into comfortable categories that makes me “like to eat” certain fares. I’m talking about you kale! However, I did make this granola. Worst yet, I even gave some of it away – jars of it in tidy boxes by means of jet fuel . I think that makes our relation at least amicable?
I used to think granola was a specifically summer thing. It’s refreshing with cold milk and not nearly as comforting as warm Irish oats or creamed wheat. However. However, I think warm milk is amazing. Also, there’re all sorts of milk that deserves experimentation and attention, like flax milk, or rice milk and almond …. I digress.
Granola. This granola, my granola, comes from a series of experiments and standing in grocery aisles staring at plain cereals. How I came to bags of puffed millet I can’t exactly recall but I think it was in Atlanta in some organic grocer, the kind that carries seeds that most people feed to birds. I put those in my granola too. I like birds.
This recipe is “safe”. I’ve thrown in many things and it comes out perfectly well-adjusted to its new composites. I like to think that when it’s time to clean out my pantry of all the grains, all the nuts and seeds, and all the dried up bits of fruit, I can make something like this to share and eat on mornings when I don’t feel like poaching eggs.
inspired by The Splendid Grain
1 c pistachio
1/2 c pepitas ( I like the raw green looking kind)
2 c puffed millet
1 c rolled oats
1/2 c sunflower seeds
1/2 c flax seeds
1/2 c hemp seeds
1/2 c honey (Can use maple syrup if vegan, but granola will be less clumpy)
1/4 c refined sesame oil (this has more nutty flavored than the heated oils)
1/2 ts vanilla sea salt
1/2 ts ground cinnamon
1/2 ts ground cardamom
1 ts almond extract
1 ts orange extract
1 c dried raisins or dates
+ Preheat oven to 320F
+ Mix the wet and dry mix in separate bowls. Combine the two mixes an spread onto a large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
+ Place into heated oven and stir every 10 minutes. The granola is done in about 25-30 minutes. do not overcook. You should have a crumbly sheet of granola.
+ Toss the dried fruit on top of the granola and allow to cool completely before storing in an air tight container.
August 29th, 2012 § § permalink
Consider yourself lucky if you ever get a chance to eat a French Charentais melon because they are absolute perfection. Charentais are unabashedly sweet – the kind of sweetness that puts other fruits to shame, because we all know fruits have egos the size of Texas. Circa 1920 from the Poitou-Charentes region of France, these highly refined cantaloupes were developed to be free of warts and blemishes typical of European orange melons. They are rarely cultivated in the US and do not ship well due to their delicate nature and short shelf life. It’s worth growing if you have a green thumb and a bit of dirt. The famous French poet, Antoine Girarde de Saint-Amant, had these words to say about the Charentais:
It is better than the beloved apricot, better than strawberries and cream, better than the Holy pear of Tours or the sweet green fig. Even the muscat grape I love is bitterness and muck compared to this divine melon.
O sweet grassy snake, crawling on a green bed. It is Apollo’s masterpiece. The brothels of Rouen will be free of the pox… tobacco smokers will have white teeth… I will forget my love’s favours before I forget you-
O fleur de tous les fruits! O ravisant MELON!
Doesn’t this guy look like a sea creature? The seeds remind me of Nemo…
How was I lucky enough to get a Charentais?
My melon came from the kiwi farmer at the Civic Center Farmer’s Market. Get this, the kiwi vendor disappears for months, then shows up last week with the best peaches of the season: Cling peaches with the texture and flavor of mangoes (that’s only a slight exaggeration). As I was standing there eyeing the cling peaches and begging for kiwis, a couple walked up and said… “Hey you are our kiwi guy!!!” - we all welcome the return of the kiwi farmer because everything he sells is spectacular, hence this Charentais. This farm stand is also where I got those amazing French Sugarplums… have you roasted some yet?
Most people (that eat meat) pair cantaloupes with prosciutto but I find the combination too overpowering for this particular specimen of exquisite melon. I choose to serve it chilled and shaved with a bit of fresh ricotta, a drizzle of honey, and pistachios. Then, I melt onto the floor from happiness.
Option number two would be Charentais melon with fresh Burrata cheese, a sorrel infused oil, and julienne mint. I usually get my burrata from AG Ferrari, who recently told us that the FDA has been “cracking down” on products… I don’t even know what that means, but I think I need another burrata retailer. For now though, I like the balance of ricotta and honey.
This would be perfect for a quick refreshing breakfast or a delightful end to a heavy meal (like the pizza I had today)… I used my ceramic vegetable peeler for these.
August 23rd, 2012 § § permalink
There’s something heretical about the oralgasmic nature of honey roasted sugar plums; its decadent, syrupy warmth prompting a sweet parting from the purity of raw fruits. It is certainly unnecessary but absolutely irresistible.
The Bible should be revised to say:
And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did roast it with melted butter and honey, with a touch of vanilla, and gave none unto her husband with her; for it was too delicious.
You see, this makes Eve a terrible sinner, evil and selfish, but it would make her an excellent gourmandize, capable of transforming the beauty of crisp summer sweetness into the opening hints of autumn’s comfort. Here, a creamy concoction of milky Irish cut oats provides a soothing canvas from which the honey flavored fruits float and sing that siren song of sugary sins. Did I mention that melted butter, honey, and vanilla tastes like chocolate?
To Roast Sugar Plums:I’d be hesitant to replace other stone fruits for this recipe unless they are ripe and super firm.
for 4 fresh French sugar plums (also called fresh French prunes)
1 TB honey
1 TB unsalted sweet cream butter
dash of vanilla extract
+ Preheat oven to 400°F
+ Halve the plums and remove pits.
+ Place honey, butter, and vanilla in a microwave-safe bowl and heat until butter is melted. Mix well and toss plums in this mixture. Place plums cut side down and roast for 15 minutes. Save remainder of honey/butter sauce for topping roasted fruits.
+ Serve over creamy oatmeal or creamy barley or creamy wheat berries…
August 11th, 2012 § § permalink
Everything turns violently ensanguined when you add beets to them, but in the midst of their bloody bliss is the promise of chilled summer borscht, red velvet cakes, or roseate risottos. And then there’s beet pancakes…
I fell for these crimson colored pancakes in Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain… though the trouble in cooking pancakes has to do with self-control, a virtue I am constantly in want of. I eat them as soon as each one is done so I never get a lovely stack to share. The brilliant solution was to get someone else to cook them (aka, the boyfriend). I roasted some beets the previous night while baking focaccia and pureed them in advance so they could be quickly prepared for breakfast.
This recipe made so many pancakes we had to find a 4th person to finish the whole stack. This is probably because they are made with quinoa and whole wheat flours. Is it just me or do they triple in size upon consumption? The mascarpone adds a creamy honeyed texture that elevates this pancake to a extraordinary brunch. Also, fresh berries are a must. I’m already glum thinking about these dwindling days of summer.
Recipe Modified from Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain
1/2 c. quinoa flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. all purpose flour
3 TB brown sugar
1 TB baking powder
3/4 ts. salt
1/2 c. cooked and pureed beets (roast covered in a 400 °F for about 1 hour, puree in food processor until smooth)
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/3 c. plain yogurt
3 TB unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Fresh berries (I heat mine in a small sauce pan with some sugar to help them release their juices)
+ Sift together dry ingredients.
+ In a separate bowl, whisk together wet ingredients. Gently fold wet into dry mix with a rubber spatula.
+ Cook pancakes 1/4 c. at a time.
* This batter should be used the day it is made though Kim suggests thinning it out with 1 TB of milk at a time if storing overnight.