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love was in the air.

April 5, 2015

at a lovely wedding i attended recently in stern grove.

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stuffed.

March 24, 2015
tags:

life is so full.  and for the most part, in great ways. yet i have that definite desire for spaciousness – a second cup of tea, a lazy conversation & longer stretches of silence.  i try to use sunday afternoons to prepare for the week so that weekday mornings don’t feel rushed (i become less of a morning person when i have to go work) & i don’t feel d-o-n-e at days’ end.  stuffed peppers are a great cook-them-now-eat-them-later dish as they get even better after a day.  i am not a fan of green bell peppers so, as always, use what you like – that includes using something else, like zucchini, if you don’t like peppers.

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stuffed peppers (serves 6 – 8)
6 large peppers – i like yellow, red & orange
2 T olive oil
1 large onion
3 lbs. ground beef (no more than 85% lean)
1/4 C rice, uncooked
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried oregano
red chili flakes, to taste
salt & pepper, to taste

1/3 C pignoles
1/2 C parmesan cheese, grated
fistful of chopped parsley

6 C tomato sauce of your choice, preferably homemade

preheat oven to 350 degrees.

cut around the stem of the peppers so there is a hole in the tops & empty the seeds.  place in a baking dish into which they fit snugly.

add the olive oil and onions to a large skillet & saute until soft.  add beef & brown.  add rice and stir well.  add herbs, chilis, salt & pepper.  there should be some liquid from the meat in the pan – if not, add a bit of water, about 1/4 cup, and cover for 15 minutes.  add pignoles, parmesan & parsley.

spoon mixture into peppers & pour sauce into baking dish around peppers.  bake until peppers are soft, about 1 hour.

sweet pie of mine.

December 7, 2014

it has been a free-fall since halloween.

when faced with leftover deliciousness & especially in the form of salted caramel pie, instead of parsing it out over the course of several days, i reason – i am going to eat the rest of the pie anyway so i may as well eat it all today -.  this pie is deceptively simple and over-the-over-the-top good. the original recipe calls for a graham cracker crust but i tend towards more-is-mo’-better & prefer a shortbread crust – use whichever you prefer.

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salted caramel pie (serves 8.  depending on the day)
adapted from food & wine magazine

shortbread crust:
1 1/4 C flour
1/3 C sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick butter, cold & cut into pieces
1 egg yolk

preheat oven to 400 degrees.

butter the bottom of a pie dish & dust with flour, tapping out the excess.  set aside.

whisk flour, sugar & salt in bowl of a stand mixer.  add butter; process until mixture resembles course crumbs.  add egg yolk.  process just until dough comes together in a ball.  if dough is too soft, refrigerate for 30 minutes & up to 2 hours.  pat dough evenly over bottom & up sides of the prepared dish or roll it out between sheets of wax paper & flip it into the dish.  thoroughly prick the bottom with a fork & bake until golden, about 20 minutes.

filling:
2 14-oz cans sweetened condensed milk
fleur de sel
2 C heavy cream
2 T confectioners’ sugar

pour every last bit of the condensed milk into a 9 x 13 glass baking dish & sprinkle with 1/2 tsp of fleur de sel. cover the dish with foil & place it in a roasting pan.  add enough hot water to the pan to reach one-third of the way up the side of the dish.  bake & stir 2 or 3 times, until the condensed milk becomes golden & thick, about 2 hours; add more water to the roasting pan as necessary.  you are making dulce de leche!  don’t worry if it looks lumpy – as it cools down it will become smooth.

scrape the caramel filling into the pie crust, smoothing the top.  refrigerate until the filling is chilled – about 4 hours.

using an electric mixer, beat the cream with the confectioners’ sugar in a bowl until firm.  pile the whipped cream on top of the pie & sprinkle with fleur de sel. cut into wedges and serve.

sundance.

August 4, 2014

dear sun,

i miss you on these foggy mornings.
please hurry back.

xome

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SONY DSCjacket, nanapatproject on etsy / skirt, gift from a friend / boots, nine west

pucker up.

May 30, 2014

we are spoiled here by the abundance of fruit trees that grow seemingly in everyone’s backyard – cherries, avocados, apples, pears, figs, meyer lemons, conventional lemons & so it goes. the other day we were at a bbq & the lemon tree in the backyard was…  something special.  the lemons were huge.  and by huge i mean conversation-stopping & then oh-my-god-did-you-see-the-size-of-those-lemons-huge (see scientific comparison documentation photo below).  the kids played football with one.  our endlessly creative waldorf teacher friend made a puppet with another. and i made a triple recipe of lemon curd with mine.  this is a tangy curd – you may want to increase the sugar – but i love its lemony-ness.  over the weekend we had it on pancakes that the boy made (recipe coming soon!).  it would also be great on toast with butter or as a filling for a fruit tart with fruits from, if you’re lucky, your & your neighbor’s backyard.

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lemon curd (makes about 3 cups)

5 large eggs
2/3 C sugar
grated zest of 2 lemons
1 C fresh lemon juice (6 – 8 lemons)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces

whisk the eggs, sugar and zest together in a medium stainless-steel saucepan.  add the lemon juice & butter.  continue to whisk while cooking over a medium flame until the butter has melted & the mixture is thick.  reduce heat to low & simmer for a few minutes.*  serve warm or cover surface of curd with wax paper and cool completely.

*i like the texture of the zest; however, if you prefer a smooth consistency, force curd through a fine sieve set into another bowl.

the egg is for scale.  and for the lemon curd.

the egg is for scale. and for the lemon curd.

 

getting handsy.

May 18, 2014

apropos of my recent cooking-with-corn-in-april post, seen here, today i bought a big bag of fat, in-season cherries.  so good straight from the bag, sweet cherries disappear with a quickness in my boy’s small brown hands.  but i recently came across a couple of recipes that maintain the texture & juicy cherry-ness of these stone fruits while switching things up a bit.  plus, in my world, pie is always in season.

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cherry hand pies (makes 6)
adapted from food & wine magazine
1 1/2 C cherries, pitted & chopped
1/4 sugar
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1 T cornstarch
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed cut into 6 rectangles
1 egg, lightly beaten
sanding sugar, if desired

preheat oven to 350 degrees.

in a bowl, combine first five ingredients.  mound by spoonfuls onto one end of each rectangle.  fold over & seal the edges decoratively with the tines of a fork & brush the tops with the beaten egg. sprinkle the tops with sanding sugar & place each hand pie on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  bake for 30 minutes or until puffed & golden brown.

 

shout out.

May 7, 2014

big thanks to stri over at WEAR YOUR VOICE, for featuring me in their ootd (outfit of the day – click through for the full story!) section & giving a shout out to whaticookedwhatiwore.

WEAR YOUR VOICE, exploring oakland’s neo-urban revival, is a super cool on-line magazine.  WEAR YOUR VOICE  brings forth oakland’s unique history of activism, art, music & fashion through photographs, photo essays & video &  how they manifest on our streets of oakland today through interviews with diverse citizens & artists.  they also highlight local shops & artisans.

…all about creativity reigning supreme & celebrating oakland – what’s not to love?  here is to WEAR(ING) YOUR VOICE!

Karena_Montag_OOTD_Oakland_street_style_fashion_close_looking_down

 

 

twofer.

May 3, 2014

i committed a subversive, don’t-tell-alice-waters, act the other day.  i bought corn.  in april.  the ears were stacked to the point of overflowing in the bins at the market – green & fresh, the kernels tight, small & shining.  on top of that it is end-of-summertime-hot here right now & actually feels like corn season.   the boy got excited & started talking corn fritters, corn cakes, corn pudding…  similar to a quiche but without a crust, less eggy & fluffier than a frittata.  so that there is an in-season option i also made a version with smoked ham & spinach.  though the custard-base is the same, the resulting flavor of each is distinct.  and, of course, mix it up with whatever catches your eye at the market.

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corn & zucchini pudding (serves 8)
3 ears corn, kernels removed
2 zucchini, small, cut into ¼ -inch dice
1 T flour
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
3 C heavy cream
1 ½  tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly cracked pepped

preheat oven to 375 degrees.

place the corn & zucchini in a bowl & toss with the flour evenly to cover.

in a separate bowl, combine the eggs & egg yolks.  whisk briefly, then add cream & salt.  whisk until fully incorporated.

butter shallow 9-inch casserole dish.  evenly spread the corn and zucchini in the pan & pour the batter over the vegetables. bake, uncovered, for about 45 – 50 minutes, until nicely browned on the top & a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. allow to cool for 10 – 15 minutes before serving.

ham & spinach pudding
6 ounces smoked ham, diced
10 ounces spinach
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
1 ½  tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly cracked pepped

in a dry cast-iron pan, saute the ham over medium-high heat until some of the pieces are golden brown. remove to a plate. add spinach to the same pan, lower the heat & gently toss with tongs until cooked down & liquid has been released.

butter shallow 9-inch casserole dish. add ham to buttered dish.  top evenly with spinach & pour the batter over the top. bake, uncovered, for about 40 minutes, until nicely browned on the top & until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.  allow to cool for 10 – 15 minutes before serving.

(meat) pie for dinner.

April 27, 2014

i made my picadillo the other day & i made a lot. really a lot.  so when my boy & i decided to do some weekend cooking, we decided to make empanadas – those delicious meat pies with various savory fillings – chicken, potato, chorizo…  the list goes on.  picadillo – with ground beef, olives & raisins –  happens to be a fairly traditional filling & also my favorite.  some folks are intimidated by making pastry / dough but this recipe comes together easily & rolls out beautifully, resulting in an incredibly flaky crust.

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empanada pastry (makes 12 large empanadas)
from the joy of cooking
3 C all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
10 T unsalted butter, cold & cut into small pieces
2 T solid vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces
10 – 12 T ice water

1 egg, lightly beaten
1 T milk
freshly cracked salt & pepper

picadillo (recipe below)

preheat oven to 400 degrees.

place the flour, baking powder & salt into a food processor & pulse until combined.  add the butter & shortening & pulse again until just barely combined & mixture looks like coarse bread crumbs.  transfer the mixture to a large bowl & drizzle ice water over the top.  moisten dough and gather together into a ball.  flatten into a flat disk, wrap tightly in plastic & refrigerate for one hour.

roll out the dough 1/8” thick on a lightly floured surface and cut into 6-inch rounds.  gather scraps and re-roll until you have twelve rounds.  spoon ¼-C of picadillo onto one half of each round of dough.  moisten the edges of the rounds with water (i use a pastry brush but you can also use your finger) & press the edges together, creating half-moon shapes, to completely enclose the filling.  use the tines of a fork, making a nice pattern, to seal the edges.  place on a baking sheet 2” apart.

mix the beaten egg & milk together and brush over the tops of the sealed empanadas.  top with a sprinkle of cracked pepper & salt.

bake empanadas in for 20 minutes or until deeply, golden brown.  serve warm.

picadillo (enough filling for 12 empanadas)

1 T olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 lb. ground beef (15 – 20% fat)
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1 potato, diced (about 1 C)
1 tsp. cumin
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. gound cloves
¼ tsp. chili flakes
¼ C raisins
½ C pimento-stuffed green olives, coarsely chopped
salt & pepper to taste
½ C slivered almonds

heat oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat.  add onion, garlic & bay leaf & sauté until onion is soft, about 5 minutes.  add beef & sauté until cooked, breaking up with back of a wooden spoon, about 10 minutes.  add all remaining ingredients & simmer, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender & picadillo has thickened. season to taste with salt & pepper.  discard bay leaves & stir in almonds.

 

 

 

keep it simple.

March 29, 2014

there are those days when i want a simple but-not-a-piece-of-toast-simple lunch.  and we all know about my delight for an egg. so here i have a quick salad that is lovely as is or, with the addition of lardons or roasted asparagus, can be dressed-up into something dinner party-special.

salad with egg & dukkah vinaigrette

 

simple greens with poached egg, avocado & dukkah vinaigrette (serves 1 big salad-eater)
dukkah vinaigrette (recipe below)
1 ripe has avocado, peeled &cubed
3 oz. spring mix
3 oz. baby kale
2 – 3T parmigiano-reggiano, freshly grated
1 egg, poached*

place about ¼-cup of dressing in the bottom of a wooden salad bowl.  place avocado in dressing and coat with dressing.  add greens and toss gently.  top with grated parmigiano-reggiano & poached egg.

*to poach egg:  in a saucepan, bring 2″ water & 1 tsp. white vinegar to a low simmer.   gently crack egg into the simmering water & cook until just set, 4 to 5 minutes.  remove with a slotted spoon to a clean, dry dishtowel.

dressing (makes about 1/2 cup)

1 ½ T orange/champagne vinegar
½ tsp. dijon mustard
¾ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
½ cup olive oil

2 T dukkah*

place all ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid & shake well, until emulsified.

*dukkah is a blend of almonds, fennel, coriander, anise seeds & sesame seeds.

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