Friday, August 27, 2010

Some summer adventures

Dang, all this social media stuff is VERY hard to keep up with! I tweet, I FB, I try to blog, I email...and sometimes I have time to sleep. Oh well.

Some notes about things I've been doing:

Quick puff pastry from Nick Malgeri's "How to Bake" is da bomb. I made great peach turnovers with it. Tossed the peach slices (unpeeled, even) in brown sugar and tapioca. I may never buy puff pastry again.
(But my husband will, for some reason.)

Crab stock + chopped mushrooms + heavy cream = mushroom crab bisque, a wonderful thing. Add some "dumplings" made from the Mascarpone Crab Cakes recipe in "I Love Crabcakes" by Tom Douglas, and you have a great meal.

An Aerogarden is a wonderful thing for having a few fresh leaves of greens with everything. Just need a bit of French Dijon vinaigrette, so easy to throw together. Then serve alongside or on top of most any savory dish.

Sear diver scallops, deglaze and flame pan with brandy, add some heavy cream and reduce drastically. Pour juices off of scallops back into pan, add a bit more brandy, reduce again and serve over the scallops. Be sure to have a lot of scallops, you will want more.

I am going to be selling crocheted shopping bags and quilted brocade totes online later this year. I make them myself, am a bit worried that it will cut into my cooking time. As I tweeted today, maybe I should combine my passions and make/sell cooking bags. I will post here when I actually turn on the sales and where you can find them on Etsy. (It will be ShellysBags.)

I still love fresh roasted beets with blue cheese. I think I was ahead of the curve on this, by a very long time. I was eating blue cheese dressing on salad bar beets when I was a kid. Liked red onions with them, too, for the texture I think. Of course, I didn't grok that way back when.

If you're in Seattle and haven't been to Blueacre Seafood, what are you waiting for?'

I used a dried mix for making mint chutney as a seasoning rub for lamb shanks. Worth doing again.

Time to get ready to go to the baseball game. I'll try to be better about this, really I will!

Friday, July 09, 2010

I really haven't been gone...

...I've just been a bit overwhelmed with posting on FB and tweeting and email groups. It sure doesn't mean I haven't been cooking! I have also been spending time crocheting, sewing, and learning how to knit. And then, there was the trip to Barcelona...the market was amazing, as you can see:

Our CSA farm basket started just a couple of weeks ago. Already I've made arugula pesto and pickled Walla Walla sweet onions. Romaine lettuce with tiny Oregon pink shrimp. Mustard braised with homemade bacon. Roasted French breakfast radishes and bok choy.  This week I made corn tortillas to go with the pork I cooked in cumin broth and turned into carnitas. Yum. Add a bit of Mexican fresh cheese and some chopped sweet onions, and it is heavenly.

For not-so-local stuff I butterflied chicken breasts and stuffed with prosciutto, minced sage, and fresh mozz. Breaded in panko and baked them on a rack, so the bottom got as crispy as the top.  Sauteed greens with that.

Tomorrow I need to go up to the market to get some fish to cook with the fennel bulbs we got this week. Probably a bit of halibut, maybe halibut cheeks en papillote with fennel and greens. And then there's the summer squash. Five of those, a lot for the two of us. I will probably cut them into 1/2" cubes, salt and drain them, and saute them with onions. If the corn looks good I can add some of that to the pan, too. And I just remembered I have fresh poblanos, too, and they are great with that mix. Looks like fancy calabacitas is on the menu for the weekend.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Spicy cookies

This one is copyright 2010 Vivian Johnsen (just for the record )

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

1 stick Mexican cinnamon
2 chiles de arbol
4 C sugar cookie mix
6 T water
2 T honey
6 T cocoa

Grind cinnamon and chiles together until fine. Add 1 T of the mix to a mixer with the rest of the ingredients. Combine the rest of the cinnamon/chile mix with 3 T of sugar and set aside. Form the dough into 1" balls and flatten slightly into the sugar mixture. Bake at 375 for 5-7 minutes.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Recipe testing for Cook's Ilustrated

I have my fourth recipe to test for Cook's Illustrated magazine. It is fun to do - I certainly felt special when the first recipe I tested, for beef stroganoff, was in the April issue. Today I am doing cookies. This is the first time I have found an error in how the recipe is written. The flour and sugar are given in both cups and ounces. The sugar is divided, but the weight of the division is not provided. And if you measure cups, the total of the parts does not equal the initial amount measured. So I made an educated guess. First tray is in the oven. I think the dough was waaaay too soft, so put the rest into the fridge for a few minutes. We'll see how it goes. At least I am looking forward to eating my results!

Monday, March 08, 2010

Lobster and Dungeness Crab Newburg crepes

A relative of mine just sent an email about how my cooking is always a "deluxe event." I think what I am trying to do with my cooking is make “deluxe” an everyday thing without it seeming too fussy.

However, the lobster and Dungeness crab Newburg crepes will not be an everyday thing. Aside from being complex and using way too many pans and bowls for one day, they are awesomely rich. Now, I made them a little more rich than the usual Newburg sauce recipe by going back to the original way of making the sauce a lovely pink – instead of paprika, I steeped lobster roe in melted butter and then sieved that through a tamis. A tamis looks a bit like a tambourine, with a fine mesh screen stretched across one side. You pour a mixture into it and then use a flexible pastry scraper to push whatever it is through the screen, making a very fine-textured puree. As lobster eggs are, well, fish eggs, they do have membranes associated with them so to get a nice buttery texture you really do have to get just the essence of them into the butter. The tamis worked quite well. Then you have to use that butter to make a cream sauce thickened with egg yolks. You whisk the butter and heavy cream together in a bowl over simmering water, then whisk a few tablespoons of that into egg yolks you have whisked (with yet another whisk) in (yet another) bowl to warm them, then whisk the egg yolk mixture back into the double-boiler set-up. Whisk constantly for about ten minutes while you strain to read the cookbook you left on the counter too far from the stovetop…because you have all the mess from making the crepes, and the crepes themselves still cooling on a rack on the counter, between you and that cookbook, as well as a cutting board with the lobster and crab you just diced up to go in the sauce when it is ready. And at the other counter you have your partner buttering a couple of little oblong casserole dishes to hold the crepes and sauce. Then he is cleaning the two nice big artichokes you’ve decided will go perfectly with the crepes. And he has never cleaned artichokes so you are directing him to get an oblong glass dish out so they can steam in the microwave oven as well as a cutting board to cut off the top inch or so of the artichokes and a bit off of the stem and, oh yeah, you tell him to get out a bowl as you reach with one hand down into the cupboard with the cider vinegar so he can make a bit of acidulated water to dip the cut edges of the ‘chokes in so they don’t brown…and he understands that he needs to put the ‘chokes stem up in the dish, and that if he is putting plastic wrap over them that they need to be completely covered. And you reach back into your brain to remember how long it takes big artichokes to cook in the microwave. And then the sauce is nicely thick and you concentrate on seasoning, ground white pepper (oops! just spilled some of that on the counter) and a couple of pinches of kosher salt, and is it good? You put a bit into Dave’s mouth to see if he agrees more salt, even though the seafood about to go in is salty. Then bowl of sauce over to counter, fold in the seafood, ooh that is good!, and see if you can roll it up into crepes gently draped into those buttered oval dishes – can’t just lay them out on a cutting mat because the filliing is pretty soft, and you’ll never be able to pick up the filled crepes and put them into the dishes without them splitting and falling apart. You silently thank yourself for realizing this before you try it and make a mess. You get the crepes filled a rolled with minimal hassle. Tell Dave to turn on the artichokes for another five minutes, please. Crepes into preheated oven. Crepes should be in there for less than 30 minutes so…whew! grab a glass of sparking cava (Spanish version of Champagne) and go in to watch some of the pretty dresses on the Oscar red carpet show. And are very glad that the lobster and crab were cooked and cleaned a few days before and that mess all cleaned up already. And that you know you’ll make a stab at cleaning up the mess after dinner, but Dave will shoo you out of the kitchen and take care of it.

Hmmm, I was only going to tell you about the right way to make the sauce pink. Those crepes were wonderful, by the way, and the artichokes were the right thing. Got the inspiration from "Two Cooks in One Kitchen" by Jinx and Jeff Morgan, Doubleday 1983.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Been busy

Wow, guess it's been a while. It's not that I haven't been cooking! My
current project is another try at corned beef. Only one brisket this
time, though! You might recall that a couple of years ago I did three.
I trimmed it very close and cut it into four pieces. Might take a
little less curing time. I also used a premium pickling spice that is
wonderfully aromatic. Might even be ready by the 17th.

Our condo has started taking advantage of a composting program so now
I have something better to do with meat and plant waste. Sure cuts
down on the garbage -- even can put the crab shells from tonight in
there. Nice little compostable bags we use to collect it all.

The crab? Crab salad rolls for dinner. Yum.

Shelly / sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Comparing chicken

About ten days ago we went to a local market that had free-range chickens on sale at a great price (.97/lb). Picked one up, rubbed it in and out and under the skin with kosher salt and let it sit for two days. Rinsed the skin and then put some butter flavored with black truffle trimmings under the skin on the breasts, thighs, and legs. Cut out the backbone and flattened it, cooked it in a broil/roast manner. Probably the best chicken we've ever eaten.

Need to see if this is repeatable, and if the chicken was that good because of what it is, or it black truffle butter just makes everything wonderful.

So went back and the chickens had gone up in price but just to $1.29/lb, so picked up two of them. Also went to Costco and picked up two Foster Farms chickens. Have salted all four of them, and Thursday I will prepare one of each in the broil/roast method and the others I will roast and probably glaze with cranberry. Then we will evaluate. And of course I will tell you, just as I promised the meat dept manager at the store I would share the results with him.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Duck posole, pork posole

Skinned a duck. Put the skin in a roasting pan in a slow oven to render fat and get crispy. Boned breasts are marinating in homemade red chile sauce. Carcass is in the stockpot. Blue corn posole is soaking with Mexican oregano and cumin. Leg/thighs are waiting for the joining of the stock and the posole, along with green chile. Yes, I know I made posole stew on Monday. Oh, I forgot to tell you about that. Trimmed out the leanest tenderest part of a pork shoulder, cut into stewing cubes. Used Hatch green chiles (frozen) that DH brought back from Albuquerque and dried blue corn posole I brought back from Santa Fe last summer. It was amazing, very spicy but the flavor triumphed over the spice. I had a duck defrosted in the fridge, and caught Emeril doing a duck posole on a rerun last night, it inspired both of us. So I am making a deluxe duck posole stew today. It will freeze beautifully, I am sure. Or if there is really a lot I will can it. Gotta go skim the stock....

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Trying a chiffon cake today, candied orange sections

Something one of my mom's cousins mentioned on email a couple of weeks ago has stuck in my mind: chiffon cake. I have all of my pieces in place to make one today, an orange chiffon cake. Am on hold until hubby gets home to get my tube pan down from a high shelf. While I wait, I am going to try candy-coating some clementine sections. I am using the zest from the clementines in the cake. It is kind of a lot of fuss over a cake that I will have to give away, as that's way too much for us to eat. But the eating isn't the point, I guess. I have a quart of thick syrup left over from preserving some plums and while it is not flavorful it has a pretty pink color. I'm heating it up to the crack stage and will dip the clementine sections in that. An orange glaze with bits of zest and some of the sections should make a pretty decoration on the cake.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Ricotta crab dumplings

I think these might be a bit like gnudi, which are Italian dumplings that are like the filling of ravioli without the pasta: 2 C homemade ricotta 2 eggs, beaten 1.5 C homemade crab salad Mix together. Wrap 1-oz portions in plastic wrap and secure into golf-ball shapes. Poach in simmering water until firm. Blend 1 can chopped tomatoes, 1/2 C heavy cream, a pinch of white pepper, a pinch of salt, a pinch of dried thyme, and a pinch of ground fennel. Bring to a brisk simmer. Ladle over dumplings.