Wednesday, September 10, 2014

plum fruit leather

School is now in session. 


If you knew what I've gone through to get here you'd understand my long silence. Influenced also by a crashed hard drive and end of summer woes. 

But we don't need to talk about the past. Let's look toward the future. A future of new experiences and all things fall, which can't be bad.

To celebrate fall I've begun a new kind of cooking.

In addition to cooking in the kitchen I've begun to make enamel jewelry. After thinking about it for over a year I finally had a private lesson at Liloveve with the talented Emilie Shapiro and I am now hooked. Expect to see more jewelry in future posts... and hopefully a new Etsy shop.

Another thing I've been wanting to do for a long time is make fruit leather. I figure now is the time since every parent is casting around their kitchen for something relatively healthy and low maintenance to throw into the lunch box. The perfect back-to-school snack.

Plum Fruit Leather

adapted from Natashia's Kitchen

  • Plums
  • Sugar (optional)
  1.  Preheat oven to 400. Please washed, halved and pitted plums skin side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Cook for 15-20 minutes, you want to avoid burning them, so check on them.
  2. Puree in food processor. Add sugar to taste or skip it. I tasted the plum puree and decided to go without sugar.
  3. Line same rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour puree into baking sheet and smooth to level out, you want 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness.
  4. At this point we are just trying to dry the stuff out and not cook it, so if you have access to open air and sunshine, place it in sun for 2 days. If not, place it in an oven at lowest temp, no higher than 140F. Leave in center shelf for 6-8 hours. Leather is done when it is smooth to touch and not tacky.
  5. Roll up in the parchment paper and cut into sections.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

thai salad with peanut lemon dressing

Back in the City and gearing up for the new school year. We are starting a new school and I am full of apprehension about the great unknown. Certainly it will all work out but the waiting and unknowing is tough.

So, crispy tofu. Weird concept, right? I mean why are we trying to make something the consistency of a marshmallow all crunchy and crusty on the outside while still creamy warm on the inside... don't answer that.

This recipe was a success. I was able to get those little wobbly cubes into some form of tasty crispy meal - with flavor like you wouldn't believe. But then, you really can't go wrong with Thai flavors - basil, lime, red chili paste... these are the things dreams are made of.

Or, if you're my son, a time machine that takes you to the Time of the Dinosaurs is.

Thai Salad with Marinated Tofu
Adapted from Shutterbean

Salad Ingredients
  • 1 16 oz. package extra firm tofu, drained
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for broiling
  • 2 tablespoons Thai red chili paste
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 heaping cups cubed cucumbers
  • 2 cups green beans, chopped in quarters
  • 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh Thai Basil leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1 medium head
Peanut Lemon Dressing
Adapted from Little Spice Jar

Dressing Ingredients
  • ¼ cup almond butter
  • 2 and ½ tablespoons rice vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 and ½ tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  1. Place the tofu on a plate and weigh it down with another heavy plate on top. Set aside to press for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, to make the marinade, in a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, olive oil, red chili paste, and sugar until smooth. When the tofu is ready, dry it with a paper towel and cut into 1-inch cubes. Add to the bowl with the marinade and toss gently to coat making sure that all tofu is in one layer in the bowl. Cover, chill and allow to marinate for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
  3. Preheat the broiler. Arrange the tofu in a single layer on a lightly oiled, small baking sheet, discarding the marinade. Broil about 6 inches from the flame for 15 to 18 minutes, turning every 3 minutes or so, until deeply browned. Make sure to toss lightly so as not to cut into the cubes.
  4. While the tofu broils, make the dressing. Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl.
  5. Assemble salad, add tofu and dressing and enjoy.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

hash browns with poached eggs

Who doesn't love warm, smashed, crispy potatoes with cooked eggs on top?

Maybe a fair amount of people. But a true test of a successful dish in our family - the kid ate it. And he hates potatoes. Which is so strange in and of itself. I mean, who doesn't love... oh, I already said that.

These potatoes are spiced up with chili powder and sweetened with some sauteed onions. Just perfect, especially now that the weather has turned so darn cold. What's up with that?!

So. I am reading Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace.  Described as a 'must read' for anyone interested in having a knowledge of modern literature, it is, well, daunting. To say the least. But also incredibly engaging and influential. It really gets under your skin.

After reading the passage on how the protagonist sets up his house for a drug induced binge of cakes and cookies, soda and tubs of chocolate frosting due to be eaten directly out of the can with a large spoon, I was compelled to eat not one, but, two large slabs of the chocolate babka I'd purchased the day before from the local Jewish bakery.

All of which is to say, and maybe this is a stretch, make sure you have something like this hash brown and egg dish around when the indulgent mood strikes. Much better for you than cake, and oh so satisfying.

Hash Browns With Poached Eggs
Serves 2-4

  • 2 tablespoons oil plus more to use while cooking
  • Small bag tiny potatoes
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 5 eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chili powder
  1.  Boil a pot of water with a pinch of salt and the potatoes. Cook until potatoes are tender , or easily pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes. Drain potatoes and smash them flat with the back of a fork.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet. Cook onions adding a pinch of salt and pepper, until translucent and aromatic, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add potatoes to onion. Mix together, sprinkle with salt and pepper and chili powder. Flatten in the pan and let sit without being disturbed for 5-10 minutes. 
  4. Add some oil around the perimeter of the pan and scoop out the potatoes, unsticking them from the bottom of the pan. Turn them over and flatten again to sit and brown the other side.
  5. Form holes in the potatoes and break the eggs into the holes. Cover and cook at lower temp until eggs have set on top but not completely cooked. Depending on how you like your eggs you can cook them longer or shorter.

Monday, August 18, 2014

peach cherry pie

We've been partaking in the abundant fruit this season. But sometimes we over do it and have more fruit than we can eat in a timely manner.

And so our Cherry Peach Pie was born. Cherries and peaches are, after all, so much better eaten fresh and raw than in a pie, but how can you waste all that lovely goodness. So, pie it was. And so good too.

This post was written about a month ago. The season is so unseasonable this year we are all wearing sweaters in August! How bizarre. All of which to say, I am not sure if cherries or peaches are still in season, but here you are. A wonderful pie all the same, and my husband's favorite combination.

Peach Cherry Pie

  • Two crust pie crust
  • 2 cups pitted cherries
  • 2 cups chopped peaches
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  1. Mix together all ingredients except the butter and flour.
  2. Make your pie crust. Line the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan with one crust. 
  3. Pour the filling into the pie pan. Dot with pieces of butter and dust with flour.
  4. Place top crust on filling and crimp around edges. Poke holes in the top crust around the pie. Brush with milk and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar.
  5. Place on a baking pan to catch the drips. Put into oven and bake at 375 F for 10 minutes. Lower heat to 350 F and bake another 45-50 minutes, or until pie crust is nicely browned.
  6. Allow to cool a bit to allow filling to gel. Serve warm or cold.

Monday, August 11, 2014

pie day

I just got back from a five week vacation.

Coming back to bustling Brooklyn is a bit of a shock. Particularly the size of our tiny apt and difference in the temperature. Being away always allows me to take stock of my life, what is working and what needs work. I generally come to realizations about how to change my life for the better and this was not an exception. Mostly I've come to realize that Europeans know what they're doing. Taking a month off is really essential.

It is interesting to be back home after a month, particularly in NYC. Thing change so fast. On my way to work today I went to my usual deli for a coffee and the deli was gone - priced out. So sad. I loved their salad bar.

So, let's catch up. Pull up a chair and tell me what you've been up to this past month.

While I was away I had loads of excitement. I managed to attend to local hospital not once, but three times. Once for me - I thought I might have Lyme. I did not. The other two for my son whose left foot swelled up after we took out a splinter. Then after four days of antibiotics it swelled up again. He is fine now but it was scary.

I successfully grew  tomatoes on my deck. A first for me.

We had many a camp fire marshmallow roasting event. S'mores included.

I've been reteaching myself to play the violin. It is surprisingly satisfying. I figure if I continue to play a little every day for more than a year I may just get good enough to perform. We'll see how it goes, but I am hopeful.

Oh, yes, and we had our annual Pie Day. Here are some of the goodies we devoured.

Monday, August 4, 2014

zucchini gazpacho

I've been in a cooking slump these days. Something about being in the country, where grilling is the norm, makes it harder to come up with innovative dishes. Until I read the NY Times Sunday Magazine where they feature no less than 12 gazpacho recipes. Gotta love a cold soup on a hot summer day.

As luck would have it I had all the ingredients for this lovely zucchini gazpacho. I substituted pepitas for the pine nuts but the rest is verbatim.

Zucchini Gazpacho
  • 3 medium zucchinis
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 slice bread
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup water
  • Roasted pepitas

  1. Sauté chopped zucchini in oil over medium heat until tender, 15 to 20 minutes; let cool.
  2. Combine with 1 thick bread slice; ¼ cup each basil, parsley and mint; 2 tablespoons olive oil; 3 tablespoons lemon juice; 1 cup water; salt and pepper. 
  3. Garnish: Toasted pine nuts.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

tomato basil frittata with homemade wheat berry bread

There is nothing like growing your own food. So satisfying. Not just because you see it grow from seeds, to flowers, to fruit which then ripen, but because you know exactly what went into it. Why? Because you were there from the start.

That may be why this frittata was the best I've tasted in a long time. That and the 1/2 cup of grated romano melted on top.

Tomato Basil Frittata
Makes one 8-inch frittata, adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Cook Book

    • 2 tablespoons canola oil
    • 1/2 onion, chopped
    • Salt and fresh ground pepper
    • 2 medium-small tomatoes (1 1/2 cups), chopped
    • 5-8 basil leaves, sliced
    • 7 eggs
    • 1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
    1. Heat oil in 8-inch skillet. When hot add onion, salt and pepper and cook until soft. Add tomato and lower heat. Cook until dry and reduced. Add basil and stir to combine.
    2. Meanwhile whisk eggs with salt and pepper. Pour eggs into the pan and smooth over vegetables to cover. Add cheese.
    3. Cook undisturbed until mostly firm. To complete setting the eggs place in oven at 350F for 5 minutes.
    Wheat berry Bread
    Makes two loaves, adapted from Bread Alone Cook Book
    (Bread takes two days to complete - one for the starter and the next for the bread. The starter doesn't take much time to prep, but day two of making bread requires at least 5 hours - I sometimes let the bread ferment over night, if my schedule doesn't allow for making the bread all in one day, and that seems to be okay.)

    Poolish (Starter) Ingredients
    • 3/4 cup spring water
    • 1/2 teaspoon dry yeast
    • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    • 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
    Final Dough Ingredients
    • 2 1/4 cup spring water
    • 1/2 teaspoon dry yeast
    • 2 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
    • 1 tablespoon salt
    • 3 14/ - 4 1/4 white whole wheat flour
    • 1 cup whole wheat berries
    Instructions: Day One
    1. Place wheat berries in a medium bowl and cover with spring water. Let sit over night.
    2. Combine water and yeast of poolish. Let stand a minute and then mix to dissolve.
    3. Add poolish flours and stir with a wooden spoon for about 100 strokes. You know you are done when the gluten strands come off the spoon when pressed to the side of the bowl.
    4. Cover with plastic wrap and a dish towel (to keep it dark) and leave over night in a relatively warm place. I use the stove top.
     Instructions: Day Two
    1. Poolish should be bubbly, soupy, and puffy with a wheaty aroma. Place poolish in a large bowl and add final dough water and yeast. Mix to break up the poolish making a uniform consistency.
    2. Add the first amount of flour and drained wheat berries. Stir until combined. Add salt and enough of the rest of the flour to make a thick mass of dough that doesn't stir easily. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 15-17 minutes, adding flour as needed. Dough is ready when a small amount pulled away bounces back.
    3. Shape the dough into a ball and cover with oil, turning it in the bowl to cover all the sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a dish towel and place in a warm spot for fermentation, until doubled in volume, about 2-3 hours. Dough is ready when you push your finger in and it leaves a dent.
    4. Deflate the dough by pushing in the center and pulling up on the sides. Place on a floured surface and cut into two equal pieces. Gently flatten each piece with the palm of your hand, pressing the bubbles out. Shape each piece into balls. Place loaves on a wooden surface and cover with a damp, clean dish towel until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
    5. Heat oven to 450F one hour before you are going to bake. Oven rack should be in the middle of oven.
    6. Carefully place loaves onto a baking sheet, one at a time - I used a pizza pan - trying not to deflate them too much.
    7. Place in oven and spray inside with water to create steam. Quickly close the oven to capture the steam and bake for 3 minutes. Repeat the water spray and bake for another 15-20 minutes. Lower temperature to 400 and bake for another 15-20 minutes, until the bread is golden brown. You can tell if it is done by patting its bottom. If it sounds hollow it is done.