Monday, April 30, 2012

Trading Granola for Eggs - My Urban Barter Tale

I was on the road a couple of weeks ago and checking my computer when my I-Spy Radar saw an email with a subject line that had something to do with too many fresh eggs and trading cookies for them.  I try and stay off email a lot when I'm away seeing my kids or on vacation, but I couldn't NOT look at this one.  Backyard eggs just hook me right in.  And, of course, cookies fall right out of my oven.

My siblings and I grew up with fresh eggs; my dad either traded produce for them or shelled out a little cash to his Swedish farmer friend Munson.  When our  parents retired and took it (ha!) easy on a little "hobby" farm,  they had their own chickens and, hence, their own eggs, to say nothing of a garden that produced tomatoes the likes of which I've never again tasted.  When Dave and I visited as newlyweds, we had fresh eggs (fried in bacon or sausage grease) every morning early.  Why would you want anything else?  And why not at 6am?  There, of course, were also biscuits.  With sour cream and honey or molasses.  Unending pots of coffee.

Friday, April 27, 2012

50 Women Game-Changers - # 45 - Diana Kennedy- Fresh Salsa Mexicana from Jerez

Wake up and smell the salsa.
This is not salsa made in New York City.
Nor in San Antonio.
This salsa is made in your house. On your cutting board. 
And not in your Cuisinart.

Plant your gardens and sharpen your knives.
This salsa is worth the time it takes to  grow the ingredients and make it by hand.  But you can make it in its glorious Mexican-flag colors this weekend in honor of Cinco de Mayo if you'd like!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lemon Orzo with Asparagus, Peas, and Fennel

Next day:  add some feta, more vegetables, and some oregano for a great salad.

When it's spring, I'm all over asparagus.  You know that if you read my stuff.    But, it's fennel, too.  Ramps (a bit like scallions) are also a treat if I can find them.  I like to bring all these April goodies together...and here's one favorite I pair with a grilled or poached salmon.   Later on, come summer (or for next-day leftovers), I make a great salad by using this basic recipe with a few additions.  Try this:
lemon orzo with asparagus, peas, and fennel
    serves 4-6
  • 1/2# orzo, cooked al dente according to dirrections and drained
  • 1T each olive oil and butter (use all olive oil for vegan option)
  • 1# trimmed asparagus cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, and sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh/frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup sliced red onion or ramps
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 1T grated lemon rind
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper and a pinch of crushed red pepper

While the orzo cooks, saute the asparagus, fennel, peas and onion in the olive and butter for 3-4 minutes until softened.  In a large bowl, mix together the drained orzo with the cooked vegetables.  Add the lemon juice, lemon rind, and season generously with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  Add a bit of crushed red pepper  (or aleppo pepper if you want the taste, but not all the heat) and taste.  Adjust seasonings.  Serve hot or at room temperature.

For the next-day or summer cold salad, you can add to the leftovers chopped feta, dried oregano, fresh basil, any other on-hand chopped vegetables, a splash of red wine vinegar and a little more olive oil.  Taste and adjust seasonings again.

Friday, April 20, 2012

50 Women Game-Changers in Food - #44- Nigella Lawson - Guinness Gingerbread

A tender, quite moist gingerbread from Nigella.

Gingerbread is Christmas, right?  Maybe New Year's Day?  Certainly a cold-weather dessert.  Except that I love it.  I'd eat it in July if I were willing to turn the oven on.  Which I'm not.*  So that's why it's April and there's Nigella Lawson's gorgeous Guinness Gingerbread on the blog. (Two "n's" and two "s's" in Guinness--tells you  alot about how much I know about Guinness.  I did tour the brewery in Dublin once and actually drank a tall one.)  If you've been following along on this trip, I've joined a group of great food bloggers who are each week cooking, testing, and writing about one of Gourmet Live's 50 Women Game-Changers.  And, you guessed it, this week (number 44) is Nigella's week--I'm so grateful.  After all, I needed a reason to make gingerbread in the spring.  Didn't I? (Cold and nasty in St. Paul today after a great, warm spring.  I was happy to have a warm kitchen.)
   *I have just installed a combination microwave/convection oven above my rangeThis may help with summer baking.  More later!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

50 Women Game-Changers in Food - #43 - April Bloomfield - Lamb Burgers

" I like my animals whole and my veggies unpeeled" -- April Bloomfield

Just a note:  I'm away from home, on a borrowed computer and using an old suitcase camera.
If I could have chosen which of Gourmet Live's 50 Women Game-Changers in Food I'd be, at first glance I'm sure I would have chosen Elizabeth David or M.F.K. Fisher -- two of my favorite all-time food writers.  But, no, I adore Ina Garten and I surely might have picked her.  Of course, there's the omnipresent Julia.  Who wouldn't have wanted to be that particular ice-breaker?  But as we've gone through the list, I'm impressed over and over again with the sweet love for life all these women have. I adore them all in some way.  The oh-so-interesting ideas they entertain.  The passion for the exactly right thing to eat at exactly the right time.  The attention to detail.  The waiting for the perfect pairing.  Not wasting a thing.   Wanting to end hunger.  The years spent with a head cocked sideways off a body leaning floorward to check a pan of cookies.  The eyes squinting from too many small-print cookbooks.

 The Spotted Pig in NYC

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

No-Hassle Easter

Cupcakes--Make them and freeze them tonight.  Defrost and frost Saturday or Order plain from the bakery and decorate at home.

no hassle Easter menu  serves 8

Deviled Eggs*
Make-ahead Green Bean Salad with Shallot Cream Dressing**
Pan-Grilled Double Lamb Rib Chops with Tapenade**
Oven-Roasted Rosemary Whole Carrots**
Czech Easter Bread, optional *
Cupcakes with Jelly Bean Frosting (Buy or Make)*