Wednesday, March 28, 2012
So when the farmhand allowed him to feed the baby goats some greens and hold a few week-old chick, I thought he was going to burst. Truly it was the cutest thing ever, this little person who is usually so rough and tumble gently holding that little chick and falling totally in love with it. My heart melted watching him.
This was a completely spur-of-the-moment lunch that I would make again in a heartbeat. It was bursting with spring flavor and the sweetness of the pea flowers was a completely welcome surprise. It will serve two as a generous lunch, or four as a side dish.
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups low sodium chicken broth or home made stock
12 spring onions, roots removed and the bulb and lower greens chopped
1/2 cup freshly shelled peas (you can use frozen too)
1/3 cup pea tendrils, leaves and curly tendrils coarsely chopped and flowers reserved
In a medium skillet, heat two tablespoons olive oil. Pour in the rice and the onions and stir for a minute to toast the rice. Add the wine and let it simmer for a few minutes, until the wine is reduced by half. Stir in about a half cup of broth. Let the broth and rice simmer until the broth is almost completely absorbed, stirring once of twice. Add another half cup of broth and continue the process of simmering, stirring and adding broth until the rice is creamy and almost completely cooked through. If you taste a grain of rice, it will have just a slight bit of resistance to it. The whole process should take about 20 minutes. Add in the peas and chopped leaves and tendrils. Stir and cook for just a minute. Remove the pan from the heat.
Serve sprinkled with a few pea flowers.
Friday, March 23, 2012
I, on the other hand, am the complete opposite. Once I finish a meal, I am literally finished with it. I don't want to revisit it the next day to see how well it's held up in the fridge. I've moved on to the next great meal and left the old one behind. Sayonara grilled chicken salad...hello pork tenderloin...
Grilled to perfection, with a beautiful mahogany glaze and accompanied by sweet, garlicky peppers, this pork tenderloin is one of my family's favorite dinners. The best part about it is that buying two tenderloins is still pretty reasonable economically, and it means that I can make enough for dinner and a full leftover lunch the next day. And these are leftovers that even I don't mind having around. Of course, I imagine them as something entirely different from the first dinner. Maybe chopped and stuffed into dough to make empanadas, or sliced thinly and made into a sandwich with some soft goat cheese and some of the leftover stewed peppers, or reinvented as soft tacos, the possibilites are endless. What would you do with your leftovers?
Adapted from Saveur Magazine Issue #128.
The beauty in this dish is it's simplicity. A few ingredients come together to make a dinner greater than the sum of its parts. I like to butterfly the tenderloin to ensure even cooking. I've also had great results with bone-in pork chops.
2 pork tenderloins, about 3 lbs total
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tbs honey
5 tbs butter
2 sprigs rosemary, cut into 1 inch pieces
salt and pepper
Prepare the tenderloins by trimming any fat and silver skin from the meat. Using a sharp knife, begin to slice down the length of a tenderloin. You want to cut the meat so that you open it up like a book, so only cut it about 2/3 of the way through, not all the way. Repeat with the second tenderloin. Sprinkle both sides of the meat with salt and pepper and let it sit to come to room temperature.
To make the glaze, stir the balsamic vinegar and honey together in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn don the heat so that it is at a rigorous simmer. Continue to simmer until you have reduced the volume of the liquid to about 1/3 cup. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and rosemary sprigs.
Prepare your grill so that the heat is at about a medium high. Lay both tenderloins over the heat and grill for 6-8 minutes per side. Once you flip the meat over for the second time, brush a generous layer of the glaze over the top. Let the meat grill for about 2 minutes, then flip and glaze the second side. Continue glazing and flipping until the meat is cooked through and you have a nice layer of sticky glaze coating the tenderloins (I flipped mine a total of 4 times as I glazed the meat). Watch the grill carefully during the glazing process, the honey in the glaze will burn if the heat is too high! Remove the meat from the grill and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.
Slice thinly and serve topped with the stewed peppers.
Stewed Sweet Peppers
Also adapted from Saveur Magazine.
These peppers would be a great accompaniment to other grilled meats as well as this pork tenderloin. They're nice to just have hanging around the fridge for when the mood strikes you.
2 bell peppers, sliced thinly (I like a mix of colors, red and yellow are my favorite. Don't use green ones)
1/2 medium onion, sliced thinly
3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbs water
2 tsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
In a small sauce pan, heat the olive oil. Add the peppers, onions, garlic and water. Bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and let the mixture simmer for about 45 minutes. The peppers will become very soft and release all of their juices. Remove the pan from the heat and add the vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. The peppers will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.
Monday, March 19, 2012
We all need a little time to ourselves like that. So in case you're looking for a new favorite muffin and jam, I thought I'd share my recipes with you. The blood oranges are so bright and tangy they will make you forget that it's a rainy and miserable day and the muffins are perfect for any occasion, especially a little Mommy time out.
Makes 12 standard sized muffins
These are the muffins my mom has been making for years, one of several recipes that's listed in my notebook as "Mom's". I left out the usual blueberries because I wasn't in the mood. If you would like to add the blueberries, add 1 1/2 to 2 cups to the batter after mixing in the wet ingredients. The muffins are light and moist and come together in a snap.
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
cinnamon sugar for sprinkling the tops of the muffins
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Line the wells of a standard muffin tin with liners or butter or spray the pan with nonstick spray.
In a large bowl stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add the oil, milk, eggs and vanilla and stir to combine. Distribute the batter evenly into the muffin cups. Sprinkle the tops with a light dusting of cinnamon sugar. Bake for 15 minutes, until the tops are lightly browned. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then remove them and cool completely on a wire rack. The muffins will keep for only 2 or 3 days in an airtight container before they get too dry.
Blood Orange and Blueberry Jam
Makes 1 pint jam. Adapted from SP Cookie Queen.
This jam is a real treat. It started out with just the oranges and I couldn't quite get the sweetness level how I wanted it. I didn't want to add more sugar so I tossed in the handful (literally) of blueberries I had hanging out in the fridge. They did the trick perfectly and also gave the jam its slight purplish hue that is so gorgeous and jewel-like. I have enjoyed the jam several ways- on biscuits with soft goat cheese, smeared on warm muffins, in a PB and J and, just yesterday, over buttermilk waffles. My little one likes it best licked straight from the bowl.
10 blood oranges
1/3 cup lemon juice (preferably Meyer lemons)
3/4 cup sugar
handful blueberries (about 1/3 cup)
2 tsp low-sugar pectin
Zest three of the oranges and place the zest into a medium saucepan. Add the lemon juice, sugar, blueberries and pectin to the pan. Stir, but do not place on the stove yet.
Cut the top and bottom off of an orange. Standing the orange on its bottom, cut down and around the orange to remove only the skin and white pith from the orange. Holding the orange above the saucepan, use a paring knife to cut the segments of orange apart from each other and drop them into the pan. Do this by carefully cutting along one side of the membrane between two segments until you reach the center of the orange. Cut along the other side of the segment in the same way to release it from the rest of the orange. When all of the segments have been cut away, squeeze any juice from the membranes left in your hand and discard the membranes. Repeat this process for each of the oranges.
Stir the contents of the pan and then place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, turn the heat to medium-low and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened. Stir ever few minutes and turn the heat down if it seems to be bubbling to rapidly- you don't want it to burn. Spoon the jam into a clean pint jar and refrigerate. The jam will keep for several weeks.
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Not too long ago, I ran across a recipe over at smitten kitchen that promised thick and chewy granola bars unlike anything you can pick up in a box at the grocery store. Thinking it may come in handy sometime, I bookmarked it and promised myself that one day I'd try it out. My opportunity came when I picked up a bag of dried wild blueberries last week. They aren't the dried cherries from my favorite granola bar, but surely they would substitute nicely right?
Home Made Granola Bars
From smitten kitchen
This recipe is more of a formula than anything else, though I'll give you the measurements for my two variations at the end. You can really go crazy with your own ideas and make these according to whatever you have in your pantry. The possibilities are limitless. Oh, and if you use gluten free oats, you can have a low sugar gluten free granola bar- how great is that?!
1 2/3 cups quick oats ( I didn't have quick ones, so I just whizzed some rolled oats in the food processor until they were slightly broken up)
1/3 cup oat flour (again I didn't have this, so the rolled oats went back in the food processor, this time until they were finely ground)
1/2 to 2/3 cup sugar (depends on how sweet you want them, I found the 2/3 cup to be almost too sweet)
6 tbs melted butter
1/3 cup nut butter (optional)
1/4 cup honey, maple syrup, corn syrup, or agave nectar
1 tbs water
2-3 cups add ins (such as dried fruit, nuts, seeds, oat or wheat bran, rice krispies, chocolate chips, coconut)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8 x 8 inch baking pan with parchment down one side, across the bottom and up the opposite side. Spray the pan and parchment with non-stick spray.
In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (oats, oat flour, sugar, and your add ins). Stir together. Add all of the wet ingredients (including the nut butter if you're using it) and stir to combine. Pour the contents of the bowl into the baking pan. Press the granola tightly into the pan. Bake for 30 minutes. The edges will get brown and the top will seem almost set.
Let the bars cool completely in the pan (and I mean completely). Remove from the pan and cut into 16 squares. I recommend wrapping them individually so that they don't stick together. They will keep for several days in an airtight container.
Blueberry Sesame Variation: I used honey as my sweetener and tahini as my nut butter. My add ins were 1/3 cup oat bran, 1/3 cup sesame seeds and 1 cup dried wild blueberries.
Chocolate Peanut butter Variation: For this bar, I omitted the granulated sugar as I wanted a crunchy bar. I used maple syrup as my sweetener and no-sugar-added peanut butter as my nut butter. My add ins were 1/3 cup oat bran, 1 cup rice krispies, 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, and 2/3 cup peanut butter chips.
Monday, March 12, 2012
So when I decided to host a brunch last week for a few of my friends, the preparation began. It started with a frenzy of looking through magazines, trolling Pinterest, and sifting through my favorites blogs for inspiration. I had a basic idea of what I wanted to make pretty quickly, which included some of my own classics like a Swiss chard and leek tart and a few new recipes. I had a gorgeous cocoa nib coffee cake from Ashley at not without salt and a blood orange and blueberry jam (I'll be sharing that recipe later this week) with biscuits and goat cheese. I was just missing a salad and getting no inspiration whatsoever from the usual places.
This is a very easy salad to make and absolutely captures the best of spring flavors. It's is a bit tangy, salty and bitter and wonderfully green and light. You can serve four with the proportions given here, but the recipe easily doubles.
1 bunch of asparagus (about 20 spears)
2 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs olive oil
pinch of salt and pepper
large handful of arugula
Pecorino or Parmesean cheese for shaving over the salad
arugula blossoms or other edible flowers (optional, but they make the salad something special)
In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste (use less salt than you would usually as the cheese adds some saltiness as well) and whisk again.
Cut or break off the tough lower portion of the asparagus stems. Using a sharp vegetable peeler, begin shaving off strips of asparagus turning the stem in your hand as you go. You can also very thinly slice the asparagus lengthwise if you like. Toss the asparagus strips along with the arugula into the bowl and mix with the dressing. Pour the salad into a large plate and using your vegetable peeler, shave strips of cheese over the top. If using the flowers, sprinkle them over the salad.
Monday, March 5, 2012
...the California sunshine...
...my little garden where I can grow food to make meals out of and still have enough to share with friends...
...the quiet few minutes when my little one is watching "Curious George"...
...my very handy, if not slightly over-ambitious husband...
...Tony, the appliance miracle worker, who fixed my 20 year old range so that it works better than ever...
...this little blog, a place that is all my own...
...finally figuring out how to reproduce a salad dressing that I have been working on for years...
...my mother, who came up with the idea for the dressing in the first place.
Over the years the company stopped making that particular dressing mix. At first, I could only find it in certain stores. Then only 1 store in town carried it and I would actually send packets to my mom because she couldn't find it at all. Then it was gone completely and I was lost for what to do to replace it. It's the dressing on my family's favorite salad and we couldn't go without. I tried several brands of bottled dressing and they just didn't cut it. I tried recipe after recipe with mixed results, but never quite hitting the nail on the head. Until now. All those years of tinkering with different recipes finally paid off in a big way. Whew! It's a good thing too, because my garden is full of lettuce and carrots.
Spicy Sesame Dressing
My favorite way to use this dressing is over a salad with grilled chicken. You'll need good, sturdy greens to stand up to the dressing, a baby lettuce mix will not do. I like a mix of greens that are mild along with some that are on the spicy or even bitter side, like romaine, mache, frisee, and red leaf. Sliced carrots and cucumbers work well in the salad if you have them, but please follow my advice and slice an apple over top. It doesn't really matter what variety, they all work well. I think I could skip everything else and just dip apple slices into the dressing and be perfectly happy.
1/2 cup mayonaise (if you want to go light on calories, try using greek yogurt)
1 tbs low-sodium soy sauce
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp rice vinegar
2 tsp dark sesame oil
2 tbs dijon mustard
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp chili powder (if you like spicy, you can add up to a 1/2 tsp more)
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Whisk together all of the ingredients in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. The dressing will keep in the refrigerator for one week.
Thursday, March 1, 2012
I was trying to reheat the baked oatmeal that I'm sharing today when my stove starting making crazy sounds. Which was a disappointment for several reasons, not the least of which was that I couldn't have this wonderful, filling, and good-for-me breakfast. And I really wanted it. What an absolute bummer. But I'm still going to share the recipe because it's so darn good.
There are so many different ways to personalize this recipe. I, for one, would prefer both more bananas and more berries than the original called for. But I can also imagine swapping out the bananas for apples or pears or using peaches in the summer. Maple syrup or honey would also be nice substitutions for the sugar. Here's to healthier breakfasts!
Makes enough for 4 people. From The Family Kitchen.
2 1/2 cups old fashioned (not quick) oats
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
2 cups milk
1 egg, beaten
3 tbs butter, melted and cooled
2 ripe bananas, sliced
1 1/2 cups blackberries (or any berry that you like)
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix together the oats, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and cloves. In a separate bowl, stir together in the milk, egg and butter. Set aside.
Spread the banana slices out over the bottom of an 8 x 8 baking dish. Sprinkle half of the berries over the bananas. Spread the oatmeal mixture evenly over the berries and bananas, then pour the liquid ingredients in. Sprinkle the remaining berries over the top and press them lightly into the oatmeal mixture. If you'd like you can sprinkle a light dusting of cinnamon over the top. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the edges have browned, the mixture is bubbly, and the berries have softened and browned. Let the oatmeal cool for 10 minutes before serving.