June 12, 2013 § 3 Comments
What do you buy when you’re in a hurry but still want a good, tasty dinner? Pizza? Fish? Hamburgers? Prepared dinner?
I buy chicken thighs. Easy, delicious and inexpensive. They cook really fast in a hot oven and you can do a million things with thighs. You can barbecue, roast, saute and season with nothing but salt and papper and they’re delicious. Put over fresh pasta or roast in oven with some sliced potatoes and your meal is done. Bone-in thighs of course, there’s so much flavor in those bones.
I usually just throw them into a cast iron skillet with lots of whole garlic cloves, some cherry tomatoes, fresh herbs like oregano or thyme and a good sprinkling of salt and pepper. I don’t brown them first either, just put them into a preheated 400 degree oven for about 35 minutes. Then add fresh Parmesan grated on top when they’re done.
After eating them this way so often I thought it time for a change. So here’s a new favorite recipe. This isn’t quite as quick, but wow is it good. And even better the next day if there’s any left.
Chicken thighs, bone in, about 8 to 10
oil for sautéing
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
1 heaping tsp minced, peeled fresh ginger
2 tsp minced garlic
2 to 3 cups good chicken stock
salt and pepper
1/2 TBl ground coriander
1 TBL ground cumin
1 TBL paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (more if you like it spicy)
Feel free to increase these spices if you’re in love with any of them.
Preheat oven to 375. Season thighs with a good amount of salt and pepper. In a large skillet heat oil over medium heat and when hot, brown the chicken pieces on both sides then remove to a plate.
Add the chopped onion to the pan and cook until soft, just a few minutes. Add the garlic and all the spices, then stir them together until well mixed.
Return chicken to the pan, turning to coat them with the spice mixture.
Pour the chicken stock over all, you want the thighs partially submerged. Bring to a boil, then cover and put in oven.
Braise about 30 to 35 minutes, depending on the size of the thighs. Uncover for the last 10 minutes or so and you’ll get a little bit of crispy skin.
This is delicious served over noodles, like pappardelle, couscous or just as is with a big salad and some crusty bread to soak up all that great sauce.
Adapted from Food 52.
Some pictures of my gardens, the poppies escaped the rain and were beautiful this year. And a watercolor I did of them:
June 2, 2013 § 7 Comments
No need to say too much on the subject of water here. We all know we need it, and we will actually DIE if we don’t get it. We can go without food for several weeks, but in hot conditions dehydration can start in an hour. Ok.
It’s been particularly hot and humid here the past few days and I find myself consuming LOTS of it. But water can be rather boring don’t you think? So I started by adding some lemon slices to a jar of water and refrigerated it. One thing led to another and I was thinking up all these juicy ideas on how to kick water up a notch.
No recipe required, just add whatever you have or buy some organic fruit with the water jug in mind. Fill the jar right up with the fruit and refrigerate several hours until cold and infused. No need to strain, and you can fill up the jar with more water a few times to get all the essence out. Here are some of the waters in my fridge:
Lemon slices and a sprig of mint. Give them a good squeeze and drop them in.
Orange and grapefruit. I use the peel on the orange (organic of course) but not the grapefruit. A bit tart.
Watermelon, my favorite so far.
Raspberries, a second favorite. Mush a few up, the water will turn nice and red.
Pineapple. The water is really flavored with this one.
Kiwi, use a lot.
Peaches, make sure they’re on the soft side.
Strawberries and some sprigs of basil.
Or add several different fruits together, strawberries and lemons for instance.
You get the idea!
Don’t keep them in the fridge for too long, especially if you’re adding leaves like mint or basil. On a hot day I’m know you’ll be refilling them often!
For easy, healthy mint ice tea, totally cram a jar with mint and put it out in the sun for 1 or 2 days, turning it upside down every so often to keep the top leaves wet. Strain and add fresh lemons and honey to taste. You could add a few of your favorite tea bags to it also.
May 15, 2013 § 4 Comments
If you love a good loaf of artisan bread but don’t have the time or desire to stand there kneading bread for 15 minutes, try this recipe. Time and the oven do all the work.
I know it’s is all over the internet, but I still have friends who haven’t heard of it and ask me for the recipe, so this is for them. This is truly the easiest baking you will ever do. I takes about 3 minutes to stir the ingredients together, then you cover it and let it rise overnight, about 12 to 16 hours. No kneading. Then you bake. What is easier than that?
I’ll give you the basic recipe here, but there are so many things you can add to make this even better. I’ve done many delicious versions of this. Here are some to try:
Half whole spelt flour or rye flour
Half Einkorn flour, an ancient wheat low in gluten
Roasted garlic and rosemary
Cheddar cheese and thyme
Sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds ( about 1/2 cup each) I’ve added all in one loaf, delicious!
Sprouted grains like spelt or farro ( soak overnight in water, then drain before adding to the flour mixture)
Romano cheese and olive
Dried cranberries and walnuts or sliced almonds (orange zest is great in this too)
Sprinkled with a flaky sea salt
I don’t really measure the amounts of these, just a good handful will do, more or less, to your taste. One thing though, you need a Dutch oven or large stainless steel pot with lid. Make sure it can withstand the high heat, no wooden handles or knobs.
3 cups all purpose flour, organic if possible
1 1/2 tsp good salt
1/2 tsp dry yeast
1 1/2 cups water
Mix all together in a large bowl with wooden spoon until combined. Add any extra ingredients in with this now.
Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 12 to 16 hours. (I put it in my oven, not turned on). The next day it will look like this, doubled and bubbly.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. When it’s ready, put your Dutch oven in with the lid, and heat for 30 minutes. Don’t need to grease it. While it’s heating, flour your hands and take the dough out of the bowl. Shape into a round loaf, remember, no kneading!
Let it rest, covered with plastic wrap on a floured board for the 30 minutes that the pot is heating.
When the buzzer goes off and 30 minutes is up, remove lid (remember your potholder!) and plop the bread into the hot pot. Put the lid back on and bake for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, remove lid. (Now is the time to sprinkle generously with sea salt if you like). The bread will have risen quite a bit, bake it for another 15 minutes. This last 15 minutes will give it that nice brown crust. That’s 45 minutes total baking time.
And that is it. Hot, crusty, golden brown homemade artisan bread, from your own oven.
A few tips:
I haven’t tried using all whole grain flour yet, when you substitute for the all purpose flour it doesn’t rise quite as much. I find using 1/2 all purpose works fine.
Be careful of the hot lid! I burned myself after taking the lid off (after the first 30 minutes of baking) and forgot it was hot, really hot! Now I leave my potholder on it to remind me.
May 5, 2013 § 5 Comments
If I were marooned on a desert island and could have only one food, it would be the egg. It would have to be free range and organic of course. Most of you reading this probably already know the facts on eggs, but I’ll say them for those who might not think there’s much of a difference.
You can not only taste the difference between pastured eggs and supermarket ones, you can actually see it. Free roaming hens lay eggs with a deep orange yolk compared to the pale yellow yolks of supermarket, factory raised chickens. Chickens need fresh air, sunshine, worms and grass. They turn that into nature’s perfect food, loaded with vitamins good for the heart, brain and eyes. And don’t worry about cholesterol. Remember the body needs it for proper cell function.
So I’m happy my chickens are laying again.They take a little break during the winter but now that the days are longer they’re in full production! Eggs for breakfast, lunch and dinner (usually not all on the same day!) Poached eggs, egg salad, deviled eggs, mayonnaise. I’m always thinking, what can I make that uses a lot of eggs?
Here’s a good, easy recipe for using up some of those eggs: a delicious tart, or quiche, with thick chunks of country ham and some real milk and cream. Try to find non- homogenized milk and cream if you can. Or better yet, raw. Add a green salad and you’ll have a delicious and good for you meal.
1 1/2 cups flour, I use white spelt
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
about 1 1/2 cups country ham, cut into chunks ( I say country ham because it’s local, nitrate free and it comes in a thick slab)
1 1/2 cups Gruyere cheese, grated
1 1/2 cups cream, light is ok if you must
1/2 cup milk
chives or parsley
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Make your crust by combining flour and salt in bowl. Add the butter, cut into bits, and incorporate into flour mixture with your fingertips until well blended and butter is the size of peas. Add the egg and stir with fork. Once it holds together shape into a ball and give it a few kneads. Roll out on floured board and then fit it into a 9″ pie pan.
Spread the ham evenly over the crust and top with the grated cheese.
Beat together eggs, cream and milk and pour over the top.
Sprinkle with chives or place a sprig of parsley on top and then put in oven for about 50 minutes until puffed and golden. Test with toothpick.
If you want to eat it right away, try and wait about 15 minutes. It’ll be easier to cut and the flavors will have melded.
April 14, 2013 § 6 Comments
I was either very young or a teenager when my grandmother would visit from her native Germany. Things like cooking and baking didn’t interest me then but eating the delicious meals she would prepare did. It seems like Omi was always in the kitchen mixing and stirring something. Every night was a feast, not just on Sundays. And cakes, kuchen, even homemade jelly doughnuts were always on the kitchen counter. All made from scratch of course and never a recipe, written down at least.
One dessert that stuck in my mind as I grew up was this cheesecake. In Germany it is made with quark, a type of soft, fresh cheese with a mild, slightly tangy flavor. Back then (I’m talking way back) you couldn’t find it in the supermarkets so my grandmother would substitute cottage cheese. Now it’s available everywhere but I still use cottage cheese, I wouldn’t dream of changing it.
The recipe I have is written on an old card, yellowed and stained. It’s in my writing so I must have written it while watching my mother make this years later. It brings back nice memories of Omi in the kitchen with her apron on, wooden spoon in hand. How I wish she were still here so I could sit on the kitchen counter again and watch her cook.
Ingredients for crust:
1 1/2 cup flour, I use white spelt
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
1 egg, beaten with fork
Mix together flour, sugar. Cut the butter into small pieces and add this and egg to flour mixture. Mix together with your hands until combined, knead a few minutes then form into a ball. Add a few tablespoons of water if necessary. Wrap in plastic and chill about an hour.
Roll out dough 1/8 ” thick and put into a 9″ pie dish. Chill another hour while you make the filling.
Ingredients for filling:
2 eggs, beaten with fork
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 TBL flour
grated peel from 1 organic lemon
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 pound cottage cheese
1 cup sour cream
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Puree the cottage cheese in a blender until smooth. Put into a large bowl and add the sour cream, eggs, sugar, raisins, melted butter, flour, lemon peel and vanilla. Whisk all together until smooth.
Pour into the chilled crust, sprinkle with some slivered almonds and bake about 1 hour until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.
April 5, 2013 § 2 Comments
I’ve been eating asparagus since Saturday night. That’s 5 days now. Maybe my body is telling me something?
Asparagus is full of vitamins and minerals like potassium, vitamin A and K and is good for the kidneys. Like dandelions, this vegetable is a good spring cleanser. But health benefits aside, I simply love the taste and texture, earthy and green, like the ground in spring.
Now I find myself thinking of different recipes and feel a pull to go out tomorrow and get another bunch! Can one overdose on asparagus?
Here are some ways to use this unique and healthy vegetable:
Egg salad and asparagus: Hard boil some eggs, then peel and roughly chop with a fork. Add some homemade mayonnaise, some chopped fresh dill and lightly steamed asparagus spears. Salt and pepper to taste. Great on a slice of toasted sourdough bread.
Wild rice salad and asparagus: Steam some asparagus. Make some wild rice. When done but still warm, stir in some slivered almonds, the asparagus and some currants with a little butter. Taste for seasonings.
Raw Salad: Asparagus is delicious raw. Here’s my recipe for a nutty salad made with carrots, asparagus, pine nuts and Parmesan.
Of course you can add to a stir fry, make asparagus risotto, quiche, or eat the spears barely cooked dipped into a nice aioli.
And here’s my lunch for tomorrow: Asparagus, Ham and Potato Hash with a poached egg.
This recipe makes enough for 2 people for a nice lunch or brunch.
2 small shallots, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup uncured ham, cut into smallish chunks
asparagus, about 1/2 pound
2 potatoes, cooked and cut up
salt and pepper
Trim the asparagus spears ( hold on each end and bend til they break) then steam or boil in water until almost done, just a few minutes. Run under cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside.
In a small skillet, melt 3 to 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter and add the sliced shallots and ham. Saute until shallots are soft and lightly browned.
Meanwhile, poach 2 eggs a few minutes and they’ll be ready while you do this next step.
Add the cooked potato pieces, when warmed up add the asparagus, which you’ve cut into small pieces. Mix it all up together and taste for seasonings. Ham can be salty so taste before adding any salt.
Move all to your serving plates and top with the poached eggs, then grate some fresh Parmesan over all.
April 2, 2013 § 8 Comments
It’s a bit early for asparagus here in Vermont. Though the snowdrops are up here by the house, my vegetable garden is still under a foot of snow right now even with all the nice weather we’ve been having. Up here on the hill spring comes late, and I don’t pick asparagus until June. But it’s spring somewhere because I’ve noticed it in all the markets now and the price is irresistible, so I bought several large bunches. I immediately thought of a nice, creamy asparagus soup, springtime in a bowl!
Of course the secret to a good soup is, you guessed it, a good stock. Though you could make this and most soups with water in a pinch, water is water, great stuff but not much flavor. The difference in taste is so worth the small effort it takes to make a batch and have it in the freezer when you need it. So that, an onion, some garlic and the asparagus is pretty much it for this soup.
Now if you wanted a little something extra, like I did, eggs and bacon would be it. When the soup is finished, poach an egg, slip it into the soup and top it with the crispy, salty stuff. The runny egg yolk, bacon and asparagus all blend together for one delicious cup of soup.
About 1 1/2 to 2 pounds asparagus, trimmed of the tough ends, cut into smallish pieces. (You probably know how to trim it, just hold it on each end, bend, and it will break at the right place)
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
3 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
butter for sautéing
a slice or two of bacon, chopped fine
about 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 organic pastured egg
Parmesan cheese for grating on top (optional)
To make the soup:
First cook the bacon until crisp and drain on paper towels when done. Set aside.
Saute the onion and garlic in a few tablespoons of butter. I used 3.
Do this a few minutes until soft, the add the asparagus and cook a few more minutes until nicely coated with butter.
Now add the stock and bay leaf, about 1/2 tsp salt and a large pinch of pepper.
Bring to boil, then turn down and simmer, partially covered, for about and hour and a half. Yes, that’s right. This long cooking time really develops the flavors.
Puree in food processor until smooth. If you like, take out a few spears for garnish before you puree. Make sure to remove the bay leaf. You can put through a food mill to make sure no stringy parts remain. Young, tender asparagus won’t need this step. This will also make the soup quite a bit thinner and the egg won’t sit at the top.
Return to pot, keep warm, and add the cream.
Taste for seasoning.
When ready to serve, poach an egg. Ladle the soup into a bowl, add the egg and top with some crumbled bacon.
Add a grating of Parmesan cheese.