Thursday, May 31, 2012

Butter, tomato, and onion (it's so good!)

I heard a lot about a tomato sauce recipe that used quite a bit of butter, and I'd been meaning to look it up and try it. For some reason, I never got around to it. It's not like it would have been hard to find - the recipe has been posted online in several places.

The original recipe came from Marcella Hazan, but I found it in a cookbook by Guiliano Hazan - Marcella's son.

With the cookbook in my hands, I had no excuse. I had to make it.

This is an incredibly easy sauce, with just a little stirring now and then to make sure nothing sticks or burns. If you're near the kitchen anyway, it's no big deal to give it a stir a few times during the cooking.

This makes enough sauce for 1 pound of pasta. I used to for spaghetti.

My Mother's Butter, Tomato, and Onion Sauce
From Hazan Family Favorites by Giuliano Hazan
Used with permission; all rights reserved

2 pounds ripe tomatoes or 3 cups canned whole peeled tomatoes with their juice
1 medium sweet yellow onion
5 tablespoons butter
1  1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 lb spaghetti or pasta of choice

If using fresh tomatoes, peel them. Coarsely chop the fresh or canned tomatoes. Trim both ends of the onion;  peel it and cut in half lengthwise.

Put the tomatoes, onion, butter and salt in a 4 to 5 quart saucepan over medium heat.

When the tomatoes begin to bubble, lower the heat to a slow but steady simmer.

Cook, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes, until the tomatoes are no longer watery and the sauce has reduced, about 45 minutes, depending on the size and shape of the pot.

The sauce is done when the butter has separated from the tomatoes and there is no remaining liquid.

Note: When you toss pasta with sauce, add about 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.(I garnished with some, as well.)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tequila and Lime Marinated Skirt Steak

Some of my favorite meats for grilling are thin steaks like flank steak, skirt steak, and flap meat. They're all very similar, with the grain of the meat running lengthwise. Since they're thin, they cook quickly, and when you cut across the grain, the meat is very tender.

If you don't cut across the grain - well, don't do that. Fortunately, it's very easy to see which way the grain runs.

Since these meats are so thin, they take on the flavor of marinades pretty quickly.

The difficult part about cooking thin steaks is that they can overcook very quickly. You can't walk too far from the grill because the difference between medium rare and well done is a matter of minutes.

Just like any meat, you want to let the steak rest before slicing - but in this case you don't have to let the meat rest for very long - five or ten minutes is good enough.

Skirt steak isn't all that pretty, but once you slice it for serving, you won't notice that. My favorite use for skirt steak is for tacos, and that's how I used this one.

Aji amarillo is a type of hot pepper from Peru. If you can't find this particular chile powder, you can use any one you like - and adjust the amount to suit your preference for heat.

Tequila and Lime Marinated Skirt Steak

1 skirt steak
Juice of 1 lime
2 teaspoons tequila
Salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon aji amarillo powder

Combine the lime, tequila, a pinch of salt, and the chili powder and spread it on the steak, coating all surfaces of the meat. Let it rest for at least 30 minutes at room temperature, or up to an hour. If you prefer, put the meat in a plastic bag to marinate.

Heat the grill - or you can use a grill pan, if you prefer. Remove the meat from the marinade and blot it dry. Grill the meat on both sides just long enough to get the meat to your preferred doneness.

Let the meat rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing across the grain.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Orange Pull-Apart Loaf - it's what's for breakfast

I'm not a big breakfast-eater, and part if the problem is that I'm not a big fan of things like cold cereal. I like eggs, but I'm more likely to eat them for lunch or dinner.

Bread, on the other hand is simple enough for me to deal with in the morning, and obviously I like bread. Sometimes I'll slice whatever I have on hand and make some toast. But sometimes I prefer a bread that's different. This orange-flavored bread is one example. It's a little bit sweet, but that's offset by the orange.

While this bread has a little more sugar than normal, and a little more butter than normal, it's got enough flavor that you don't need to add any butter to it when you eat it. You can slather it with butter if you want to, of course. But it doesn't need it.

And unlike some sweet breads that stale quickly, this one was just as soft the next day.

Orange Pull-Apart Loaf

1 cup lukewarm water
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1/2 cup (3 ounces) semolina flour
2 tablespoons honey
3 cups (13 1/2 ounces) bread flour
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 large egg
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange extract
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar (or more, as needed)

In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the water, yeast, semolina flour, and honey. Stir to combine and let it sit for 10 minutes - it should be a bit foamy.

Add the bread flour, orange juice, egg, and salt. Knead with the dough hook until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Add the vanilla extract, orange extract, and butter. Continue kneading until the dough is shiny and elastic and the butter is completely incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside until the dough has doubled in size, about an hour.

Flour your work surface, and turn out the dough. Knead the dough briefly, then cut it into at least 16 pieces. You can cut it into more, if you like. The pieces don't have to be completely even - I like the idea that some pieces are larger and some are smaller. Roll each piece into a ball.

For these buns, I used a baking dish that was 8 inches in diameter and 4 inches high. Anything of a similar volume would work. If you want a little extra insurance that your buns will release from your pan, you can spray it with a little baking spray.

Pour the sugar onto a small plate, roll each ball in the sugar to coat it, and arrange the pieces loosely in your baking pan. If you need more sugar to coat all the pieces. If you have extra sugar, sprinkle it over the top of the buns in the pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and set aside until the dough has doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center of the oven.

When the buns have risen, remove the plastic wrap and bake at 350 degrees until they are nicely browned, about 35 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven, let it cool on a rack for 5 minutes, the turn the loaf out and let it cool on a rack. Cover the bread with a clean kitchen towel of you want a soft crust.

This has been submitted to Yeastspotting.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Bacon and Tomato Risotto

The inspiration for this risotto is a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich. Lettuce in risotto didn't sound like a good idea, so I had to come up with something else. I considered spinach, but thought the flavor would be too strong for it to represent iceberg lettuce.

I chose avocado. Not only is the color close to that of iceberg lettuce, the creaminess is similar to mayonnaise. I didn't mix it with the risotto, though - it was a garnish on top, along with crumbled bacon.

The rice I was working with was a brown rice instead of the typical white rice, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I figured it would require more liquid to cook to the proper consistency, and since I'm at high altitude I usually need more water, anyway.

With risotto, it's all about cooking to the right consistency, so use as much liquid as you need - don't follow the amount, pay attention to the texture.

This dish was created for a contest at Marx Foods, and they supplied the rice to all of the participants. As much as I like risotto made with the typical white rice, I thought this was interesting. And if you're going to be eating a rice-based dish, it's not a bad idea to use a whole grain, at least once in a while.

When the contest goes live, I'll be begging politely asking for some votes.
It's live! It's live!!! Please vote HERE.
There's no need to log in or give ANY info to vote.
Just click the button next to COOKISTRY, and click VOTE.

For sundried tomatoes, I prefer the ones that are sold like dried fruit - in bags - rather than the ones in jars. I like the flavor and texture better, but use whatever you like - or whatever you can find. You can also dry your own tomatoes, if you prefer.

For the stock, I used a homemade stock. A good-quality commercial stock is fine, but you don't want something that's too salty because it reduces a lot during the cooking time. The cheese also adds a saltiness, as does the bacon.

If your stock is salty, you can cut back on the stock and use water for some of the liquid. If you need to add salt, you can easily do that during cooking, but if your dish is too salty because of your stock, you can't take it out. If you're using a commercial product, look for something that's low-salt or unsalted.

Bacon and Tomato Risotto

1/2 pound bacon
1 cup Integrale Rice
1/4 cup vino verde
6 cups chicken stock (as needed)
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes
Salt, to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 avocado, diced

In a large saute pan, cook the bacon until it's crisp pouring out the bacon fat as it accumulated and reserving it for later use. When the bacon is done, remove it from the pan and drain off the remaining grease, leaving just a light oil slick in the pan.

When the bacon has cooled, dice it or crumble it for use as a garnish, and set aside until needed.

Meanwhile, heat the stock in a saucepan and leave it simmering lightly

Add the rice to the pan and cook stirring as needed, until the rice changes color - it will become more white. You'll see as you cook it.

Add the white wine and cook, stirring, until the pan is nearly dry again.

Add the stock, one ladle at a time, stirring often, keeping the liquid at a slow simmer. You want to continue adding the liquid a little at a time, never letting the pan go dry, but not drowning the rice. The goal is for the rice to release its starch into the liquid to create a thick sauce, and for the rice to be cooked through but still a little al dente. This should take about 20 minutes, but could be longer. Mine took a bit more than 30 minutes.

About halfway through the cooking time, chop the tomatoes roughly and add them to the risotto. You want them to soften, but not lose all of their chew.

Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed in the last few minutes of cooking - but keep in mind that there's cheese to come.

When the rice has reached your desired consistency, add the cheese and stir it in, along with a tablespoon of the reserved bacon fat.

Serve, topped with diced avocado and crumbled bacon.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Malaysian Pickled Vegetables #SundaySupper

I know absolutely nothing about Malaysian food, so browsing through Flavors of Malaysia by Susheela Raghavan was a good introduction. This is from the same publisher as the Sri Lankan book I reviewed a while back (and that toffee recipe was a real winner!) so the format is very similar, with history and personal stories along with the recipes.

I have no idea why, but the pickled cucumber and carrot recipe caught my eye. Maybe it's just that I love pickles so much. I liked the idea of crunchier pickled carrots along with the slightly less crunchy cucumbers, and the optional ginger sounded good.

The instructions for the size of the vegetable pieces seemed a bit confusing. It says the pieces should be about 2 inches long by 1/4 inch wide, but the photo in the book showed that the pieces were more of a julienne cut - so I cut mine about 1/4 inch square.

I used the first optional garnish with mustard seeds and rather than the second with peanuts

Here's how it went:

Pickled Cucumber and Carrot
Acar Timun Carot
From The Flavors of Malaysia by Susheela Raghavan
Used with permission; all rights reserved

  • 1 medium (1/2 pound) cucumber, sliced into 1 1/2 to 2-inch-long by 1/4-inch wide pieces (2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) peeled and sliced carrots (1 1/2 to 2-inch-long by 1/4-inch wide pieces)
  • 1 cup sliced shallots or red onions 1-inch to 1 1/2 inches by 1/8 inch pieces
  • 1 fresh red chile (jalapeno, Fresno, Serrano, cayenne, Thai, or cherry), sliced into 1 1/2-inch-long by 1/4 inch wide pieces
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar or distilled white vinegar
  • 7 teaspoons sugar
  • Optional: 1 to 2 tablespoons sliced fresh ginger (1 1/2 to 2-inch-long by 1/8-inch pieces)
Optional Garnish:
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon black or dark brown mustard seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 tablespoons roasted crushed unsalted peanuts or other nuts
  • 1 or 2 fresh green chiles (jalapeno, cayenne, Serrano, or Thai), sliced

Rub cucumber, carrots, onions and chiles with salt and let sit in a colander weighted down by a plastic bag of water for about 15 to 20 minutes, till all liquid is drained.

(Alternately soak the vegetable in water to cover for about 15 to 20 minutes, then drain in colander and gently squeeze out excess water.)

Make the dressing by combining vinegar, sugar, and ginger, if using, in a non-reactive bowl. Add the vegetable mixture and coat well with the dressing.

Optional garnish: In a small skillet, heat oil, add mustard seeds, cover, and let seed pop. When popping subsides, uncover, add the turmeric and chile powder and stir for a few seconds.

Remove from heat and pour this savory oil mixture over the pickled salad.

Or top the salad with the peanuts and chiles.

This post is part of #SundaySupper. Here are the rest of the participants:

Perfect Cocktails:
From the Grill:
Our recipes will be perfectly paired by Wine Everyday

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Typing with my mouth full

One of the benefits of being a food blogger is that sometimes people send me samples of things to ... well, sample. I love trying new things that I might not normally try. It's like those samples at the grocery store, except the samples are usually bigger than one bite, and I get to enjoy them in the comfort of my own home.

Here are some of the latest:

No Nuts

First are snack bars from a company called The Good Bean. Billed as "the fruit and no-nut bar" these don't have nuts, egg protein, or gluten, and they've got 5 grams of fiber in each little bar.

The interesting thing is that these bars taste like they have nuts in them. Or maybe it's that the texture fools you. They're a little chewy and a little crunchy with dried fruits and with chickpeas that mimic the nuts. I'd bet that if you gave them to someone to sample and didn't tell them the ingredients, they'd guess that they were eating some kind of nut.

The bars come in three flavors - chocolate berry, fruit and seed trail mix, and apricot coconut. I'm not fond of coconut, so I passed that along to another willing taster who loved the bar.

The verdict: these portable little bars would be absolutely fabulous to have in my purse for a quick snack when my errands run too long and I'm ready to succumb to eating something that's worse for me. Although I like nuts and I don't have any food allergies, the chickpeas made a good substitute for nuts, and they might actually be a slightly healthier option. Lower in fat, at least.

And these little bars were pretty satisfying, too. They're small, but they did a good job killing my hunger enough to get me to the next meal.

No moo

Next up was Cows Gone Coconut, a non-dariy frozen dessert. Sort of like ice cream, but with without any dairy products.

This manufacturers didn't quite contact me the same way others do. This is a local company, with the product made right here in Longmont. One of the employees - a culinary student - wanted to interview me about blogging for a paper she was writing. After our chat she gave me a container if the product to try.

You might recall that I said I don't like coconut. Truth is that I don't like the texture of coconut. The flavor isn't on my top 10 list, and it's not something I'd seek out, but I don't run screaming from the room when it's around.

The flavor I got was salted caramel walnut, and I've got to say that the coconut flavor was pretty subtle. It was there - I knew it was there - but it wasn't smacking me in the face. The salted caramel helped a lot.

The texture isn't quite the same as super-premium ice creams - a little harder and icier. But I'd bet it was also lower in fat. If you love coconut or if you can't have dairy, soy or gluten, this is the product for you. Well, it's the product for you if you live somewhere near me. This isn't in wider distribution, but you never know how quickly a company will grow.

What mouth?

Snackle Mouth. It's described as a granola nut cluster. Sometimes I wonder if the Boulder area has more granola companies than average. It sure seems like it.

I've sampled nut-free granolas and I've tried oat-free granolas. And there are granolas with a lot of oats and just a few nuts. Dried fruit, or no fruit. Honey, maple, sugar, or agave. Or no sweeteners. No two are alike, that's for sure.

One thing that sets Snackle Mouth apart before you open the packaging is the packaging itself. It's interesting, that's for darned sure. I saw them on a shelf at a local store, and I've got to say that those crazed faces sure stood out.

Interestingly, the company website lists three flavors, Almond Berry, Almond Pecan Maple, and Peanut Cranberry - but I got a fourth box as well - Bacon Maple. Hmmm.... was this a secret flavor? A test batch?

If you think of granola as being flakes of oats combined with other stuff in a loose mixture ... well, that's not what this is. Instead, it's clusters of stuff. Lots of nuts surrounded by a slightly sweet mixture that looks like it might have been crumbly at one time, but that is now clumped around the nuts.

It reminded me vaguely of the nuts that come in Cracker Jack, but less sugary and more better for you. Yes, I know that's grammatically incorrect. I'm being humorous. The fact that this wasn't over-sweetened made me happy. It's got a little sweetness - just enough to keep it from being savory - but not so much that it's like eating candy.

I'm not a huge fan of granola that's mostly oatmeal, but this stuff had me reaching into the bag over and over. What I liked (a lot) was that the flavors really were different from each other. It's not like some brands where one thing is changed, the proportions of the main ingredients are changed, and it's supposed to be a new flavor. There were enough differences here between the flavors and ingredients to make them truly different flavors.

As for the Bacon Maple, the maple was the primary flavor. I'm not sure that I would have guessed that it was supposed to taste like bacon if I hadn't read the box. Not saying I didn't like it - I did - that maple flavor was just right. Then again, maybe I haven't sampled enough. There are still a few bites left.

While the no-nut bar would be my choice for an on-the-go shove-it-in-my-purse snack, these granolas would be my choice for and at-home snack (which, frankly, is when most of the snacking occurs around here.) I usually have some kind of nuts around for that sort of snacking and these would fit right in, with the added value that they've got the grains and fiber.

I'm also thinking they'd make an interesting ingredient in baking. Maybe cookies. I'll have to work on that, if I can keep from eating them.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Cheers! Let's have a drink (or three)

I've been feeling childlike - or maybe nostalgic is a better word - and my cooking has reflected that. I've made a few meals that harken back to my childhood (and trust me, you don't want those recipes) and then I started thinking about childhood drinks.

I'm not talking about watered down powdered drink mixes - those weren't too good, even back then. At home, the beverage choices were usually limited to milk or water. But there were some more special drinks - the ones that came out during celebrations, or those that might be ordered when we were out somewhere.

Sometimes ice cream was involved, but these drinks were little celebrations all on their own - whether we were out somewhere or it was a special event at home.

I wanted to recreate some of them, but in adult versions.

Black Cow v2.0

1 bottle root beer (I used Virgil's Special Edition)
2 ounces dark rum
2 scoops ice cream

Put a scoop of ice cream into each of 2 glasses and add an ounce of rum to each.

Divide the root beer between the 2 glasses.


Orange-Nana Smoothie

1 banana, peeled and cut in chunks
1 cup milk
1 ounce orange liqueur
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tray ice cubes

Place all the ingredients in your blender and blend until the mixture is smooth and frothy.


Strawberry and Key Lime Margarita Slushie

1 cup ice cubes
Juice of 2 key limes
1/2 cup strawberries (plus one for garnish)
1 ounce tequila 
1 tablespoon sugar (more, to taste, if needed)

Add everything to your blender and process until the mixture is smooth and slushy. Taste for sweetness and adjust, if necessary - depending on the sweetness of the berries, the tartness of the lime, and how sweet you like your drinks to be, you might want to add a bit more sugar.

Serve, garnished with the extra strawberry - I speared it with a straw.

For more information about Whole Foods Friday, take a peek at the tab at the top.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A simple, elegant appetizer

Sometimes the simplest things can be the best. This appetizer only has three ingredients - well, four, if you count the optional garnish. And two variations.

But it looks pretty on the plate, and people will think you were a genius to think of this combination.

You can make a huuuuge tray of these for almost no money, if that's a consideration, and the ingredients are easy to find. I used both radishes and hakurei turnips, but if you can't find the turnips, you can use all radishes. If you can find different colors of radishes, it will make a nicer presentation, but that's not necessary, either.

If you can't find hakurei turnips, I suggest you give them a try. They're great raw- sweet and not harsh at all. They're one of the vegetables I look forward to buying at the farmer's market every year.

And then we have the butter. Since this is just one of three ingredients, this is the place to splurge and buy a good butter. I suggest buying unsalted, because the third ingredient is ... salt.

Again, this is the place to bust out the good stuff. A nice flake salt is good, but in this case I used a black flake salt and a red salt - I thought the color would make a nice accent.

The optional ingredient is chive flowers. I think they're really pretty as a garnish. Thyme flowers are also very nice. You might not find these for sale anywhere locally, but if you've got a garden or even a flowerpot on a sunny window, chives are very easy to grow. If you want to order online, Marx Foods has a nice selection of edible flowers, including chive flowers.

Radishes (and turnips) with Butter and Salt

2 radishes
2 hakurei turnips
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, slightly soft
Chive flowers (optional)

Slice the radishes and turnips thinly - a mandoline is perfect for this.

Add a small amount of butter to each slice. Just a tiny dab

Top each with just a few flakes of salt.

If you have chive flowers, scatter some flowers on top. You can use more flowers as garnishes on the serving plates.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Bootstrap Brewing

Back in the stone age, beer-drinking was something for the guys. The gals sipped fruity cocktails or wine.

Now, beer is an equal-opportunity beverage, and the soon-to-open brewery in Niwot, Bootstrap Brewing, is a husband-wife partnership.

Steve and Leslie Kaczeus will be hands-on owners, which is exactly what they want to be. "She wants to bring in the woman's perspective," Steve said of his wife. "It's kind of a nice balance."

Steve started home brewing in 1993, and soon the couple starting introducing craft beers to their friends.

They look like they're having fun, right?
Yep, that's the kind of friends you want - the ones that invite you over for beer sampling.

The couple said that some people who were initially wary of hoppy or dark beers often changed their minds. "We gave them a safe place to try a sip," Steve said.

Makes sense. If order a glass of beer in a restaurant or bar, you feel kind of obligated to drink it, so it's difficult to try something new. What if you don't like it?

But when a friend offers a taste, it's a lot easier to take a sip and then maybe try something different. But after a few sips, a lot of those folks got used to the stronger flavors and decided they actually liked more than just light beers.

While Steve was the one who graduated from the American Brewer’s Guild to learn how to brew beer, Leslie is working on becoming a member of the Pink Boot Society - a group for women who are involved in the beer world.

Those women might be brewers or beer writers, but they key is that they have to make some income in the industry. It won't be long before Leslie can join.

Meanwhile, the couple is hoping the new brewery will be a destination location that will draw customers from all over the local area - as well as tourists who love beer. They're also hoping it will also become a spot where the local hang out and relax. And Leslie is determined that the gals will be just as welcome as the guys.

Leslie was happy to introduce her friends to more interesting brews, and she hopes to do the same for the customers who stop by, with educational events like beer-pairings featuring food from local restaurants. The brewery won't be serving its own food, but Steve and Leslie were talking about having food trucks stop by and maybe some catered food, as well.

What was most obvious when I interviewed these two was how much fun they were having and how excited they were to open the brewery, be part of the community, and have a business that both of them can participate in.

And they've got lots of ideas. Niwot has long mourned the loss of Rev Taylor's restaurant that drew people to the town - could this be the new destination location? Given the enthusiasm these two have for their business and for the town, it's a possibility.

Bootstrap Brewing is on schedule to open on June 20 at 6778 North 79th Street in Niwot, just south of Cottonwood Park Shopping Center. Customers will be able to purchase tasting flights, pints and 64-ounce growlers to take home.

Initial hours for the tasting room will be Monday-Thursday 3-8 p.m. and Friday-Sunday noon to 8 p.m., but that may change. You can follow the progress of the construction on Facebook.

Here's more on Bootstrap Brewing on Boulder County Eats.
And in the Boulder Daily Camera.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What else can you do with raspberry jam?

I never buy salad dressing - I always make my own. Sometimes it's as simple as vinegar, oil, and a pinch of salt. Sometimes it gets a little more complicated. There are themes that repeat - lemon juice with a Greek seasoning blend or red wine vinegar with oregano, but most of the time I make just enough for the day, so even when the dressings are similar, they're never exactly the same.

Besides the usual suspects, I sometimes add other ingredients. Maybe a little cheese, or something sweet. It depends on what I have on hand and what I'm in the mood for.

This time, the added ingredient was raspberry jam. But not a regular raspberry jam - this is an uncooked jam from a company called The Jam, so it tastes a lot fresher.

Raspberry vinaigrette dressings are popular, and sometimes I'll order them at restaurants. But I've never gotten it exactly right at home, mostly because I couldn't find a raspberry flavor that was what I was looking for. This jam had the right flavor profile, with just enough sweetness and fresh raspberry flavor. It was just right.

It's also good on toast, but I have a feeling most of mine will end up on salad.

Raspberry Vinaigrette

1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
2 cups olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
3 tablespoons The Jam's raspberry jam (plus more for garnish)

Combine all the ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake until well-combined and the dressing is emulsified.

Serve on salad greens.

If desired, add tiny splashes of jam to add a pop of bright color to the salad.

For more information about my relationship with Fooducopia, see the tab at the top.

Very Light Rye

Way back in the stone age of my childhood, the neighborhood bakery made a very, very light rye bread. I have no idea if it was an ethnic thing (back then, I didn't even know what that meant) or whether it was just something those bakery owners invented.

Most of the time when I make rye bread, I make a medium rye - because it's easy. Sometimes I make a darker rye. This time I went the other direction, and made a very light rye. Hint of rye might be more appropriate, actually, because it really is more like a robust-flavored white bread than a rye.

I baked this loaf in a clay baker - like the material flowerpots are made from. The idea is that you soak the clay baker in water and when you bake the bread in the closed container, that wet clay releases moisture so the bread bakes in very steamy environment.

If you don't have a clay baker, you can bake this loaf in a cast iron dutch oven. It won't release steam, but it will retain the moisture from the bread as it bakes.

One thing to remember when using a clay baker is that you can't put it in a hot oven. It will break. Instead, you put the baker into a cold oven and then turn on the heat. It goes into the oven before the dough is fully risen since it takes some time for the oven to heat and for the interior of that container to heat up.

When you take the baker out of the oven, you still have that risk of thermal shock, so don't put it on a chilly surface. A wooden cutting board, a baking rack, or a dry kitchen towel are safer than a cool counter top.

Hint of Rye Bread

1 cup lukewarm water
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup (2 1/4 ounces) rye flour
2 cups (9 ounces) bread flour
1/2 cup (3 ounces) semolina flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the water, yeast, sugar, buttermilk, and flours. Knead with the dough hook until the dough begins to get elastic. Add the salt and olive oil and continue kneading until the dough is smooth, shiny, and elastic.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, soak the clay baker and its cover in water.

When the dough has risen, flour your work surface and turn the dough out. Knead it briefly, then form it into a log if you're using an oblong baker, or into a round if you're using a round baker or a cast iron dutch oven.

Remove the baker from the water and drain any extra water out of it. Sprinkle cornmeal in the bottom of the baker and a little bit up the sides. Put the dough into the baker, seam side down, and put the cover on. Set aside to rise until slightly less than doubled - about 20 minutes.

Open the baker and slash the dough as desired, then put the cover back on. Place your rack in the center of the oven, put the baker on the rack, and turn the heat to 400 degrees. Bake for 60 minutes.

Remove the cover (carefully - it's hot and there could still be some steam.) If the bread isn't as browned as you like, let it bake another 5 minutes.

Remove the baker from the oven and remove the bread and let it cool on a rack on a rack before slicing.

This has been submitted to Yeastspotting.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Cream of Cauliflower Soup (and it's good cold, too!)

When spring arrives, I get giddy about the idea of going to the farmer's market and buying fresh vegetables. But after a while, reality sinks in. While there are plenty of leafy green things at the farmer's market, the vegetables I'm most excited about won't be making an appearance for quite some time.

The good news, though, is that when I go to the grocery store, the home country of the vegetables had moved north. Instead of seeing vegetables from Central America, many more are from California. And most of them look fresher and much more appealing.

Spring is also a time when the weather is conducive to both warm-weather foods and cool-weather foods. It's not too chilly to enjoy ice cream or a refreshing salad, and it's not too hot for soup.

When I found this recipe for cauliflower soup, I knew it would be perfect for spring, when the weather is shifting from warm to cool to back again. While this soup would normally be served hot, it’s an ideal soup to serve chilled like vichyssoise.

Cauliflower Soup
From Hazan Family Favorites by Giuliano Hazan
Used with permission; all rights reserved

1 cauliflower
8 ounces boiling potatoes (such as Yukon Gold)
3 cups whole milk
Freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 springs flat-leaf Italian parsley
1 tablespoon butter

Fill a pot large enough to accommodate the cauliflower with water and place over high heat.

Remove the leaves from the cauliflower and trim the root. When the water is boiling, add the cauliflower and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.

While the cauliflower is cooking, peel the potatoes and cut them into 1/4-inch slices.

When the cauliflower is tender, remove it from the pot an cut the florets away from the root. Discard the water the cauliflower cooked in and put the potatoes, cauliflower florets, and milk in the same pot. Season generously with salt and pepper, cover the pot, and place over medium-high heat.

When the milk begins to bubble, reduce the heat to low and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on the pot during the first few minutes to make sure the milk doesn't boil over; reduce the heat to the lowest setting if necessary.

While the soup is cooking, chop enough parsley leaves to measure about 1 tablespoon.

When the potatoes are done, remove from the heat and pass the soup through a food mill. Add the parsley. Cut the butter into small pieces so it melts more easily, and add to the soup. Stir well and serve at once.

I received this book from the publisher for review purposes.

Several other Virtual Potluck members are also cooking from this book - check here for the roundup!

Hazan Family Favorites

Today, Virtual Potluck is talking about the cookbook Hazan Family Favorites by Giuliano Hazan. If that last name is familiar, it's because Marcella Hazan is Giuliano's mother.

Cooking runs in the family, that for sure.

·         Join @educatedpalate (Lael Hazan) and author Giuliano Hazan (@giulianohazan) for a 1 hour twitter chat on Monday May 21 at 7 p.m. (eastern). Look for the hashtag #HazanFavorites. We'll be giving away a copy of the book during the chat.

Nelly (@nella22) from Cooking with Books will be leading the Twitter party.

And that's not all. Some of the VPers cooked recipes from the book, and will have the recipes (and variations) for you. You can read all about the book (and get some recipes) from these great bloggers.

Shelby at Diabetic Foodie made stuffed zucchini. 
Her version used ground turkey for a healthier twist:
 (Look here)

Theresa at Foodhunter's Guide also made stuffed zucchini. 
Hers used ground beef.
(It's right here.)

Milisa from Miss in the Kitchen made a tomato and butter sauce for pasta:
(It's right here)

Susan from 30AEATS made Strawberry Gelato:
(You can see it here.)

And me - I made an amazing cauliflower soup.
 (Right here.)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Marinated Artichoke Hearts #SundaySupper

I love artichokes in all forms - I love giant stuffed artichokes and I love marinated artichoke hearts and I love artichokes when they're added to entrees. Or pasta.

So when I found a recipe for marinated artichokes in Cristina Ferrare's cookbook Big Bowl of Love, I figured I'd try it.

She suggests starting with frozen artichokes rather than doing all the work required to clean a whole bunch of fresh artichokes to get to the hearts. And I completely agree.

Except, after scouring the frozen food aisles, I couldn't find any artichokes. I know I bought them before, but I don't recall where. All I know is that where I was shopping there were a billion varieties of frozen potato products, but not a single frozen artichoke heart.

On the other hand, I had some canned artichokes right there in my pantry. Not canned marinated, but just cooked and canned. Perfect!

Well, not completely perfect, but it was a good brand and it worked perfectly in this recipe.

But I've got to say, if you ever see the frozen artichoke hearts, buy them. they're really, really good. Next time I see them I'm going to stock up, that's for sure.

Unlike the jarred marinated hearts, these aren't swimming in oil, and they taste fresher, thanks to the green flavor of the parsley.

The only problem I had with this recipe was that they smelled so darned good while I was cooking them that they almost didn't last long enough to get photographed.

I know you're supposed to let them cool and serve them at room temperature, but they were amazing while they were hot from the pan. I'd be perfectly happy to have these as a side dish.

Or, like may things I make, serve them hot the first day and cold on the second day. Maybe warm with pasta for a main dish, and then chilled for a cold pasta salad on Day 2.

Or warm as a side dish on the first day, and chilled for an appetizer - maybe with some parmesan cheese shaved over the top - on the second day.

Or - OH! Grate some parm over the top and let them broil just a little bit.

There's also a recipe for an artichoke dip in the book that uses these artichokes. Yeah, next time I'm making a double - or triple - batch. I'll admit it, I'm kind of in love with this recipe.

Marinated Artichokes
From Big Bowl of Love by Cristina Ferrare
Used with permission; all rights reserved

2 pounds frozen artichoke hearts
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 pieces garlic, peeled and sliced thin
Kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
1 lemon, sliced very thin, for garnish

Cook the frozen artichoke hearts according to package directions. Drain in a colander for 10 minutes. Pat dry with a paper towel.

Heat a frying pan until hot. Add 4 tablespoons olive oil, and swirl it around in the pan. Add the garlic and saute, shaking the pan back and forth so the garlic doesn't burn.

The minute the garlic starts to turn golden, quickly add the artichoke hearts.

Lower the heat and continue to shake the artichokes back and forth. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and the red pepper.

Using a metal spoon, stir and saute for 8 to 10 minutes, until the artichokes start to caramelize.

Pour the artichokes into a serving bowl, add the lemon juice, and stir. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil over the top. Add a pinch of kosher salt, sprinkle on the parsley, and allow to cool to room temperature.

Garnish with a slice of lemon.

Whoo hoo! This post is featured on Punk Domestics!
Marinated Artichokes on Punk  

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Babybacks with Bourbon Maple Barbecue Sauce

This recipe is all about the sauce. You can cook your ribs any way you like, but I suggest grilling - if you have a charcoal or gas grill. Otherwise, ribs can be cooked in the oven.

Low and slow is the key. Low heat, for a long time, until the ribs are as tender as you like them. Some people like their ribs to fall off the bone, while others prefer a little more chew to them.

A simple rub of salt, garlic powder and paprika at the beginning of cooking time is enough to flavor the ribs before you begin cooking. Then the sauce is applied about 10 minutes before the ribs are done. The cooking time in between is mostly unattended - just the occasional peek to see how the ribs are cooking, and if you're using a charcoal grill a check on the coals to make sure they're still hot. On a gas or charcoal grill you might want to rearrange the ribs during cooking time to make sure they're cooking evenly.

If you can't find chipotle powder, you can use chili powder or any ground dried chile that you like. Chipotle peppers are smoked jalapenos, so they add some smokiness to the sauce. 

This sauce recipe is just enough to coat one rack of ribs, so if you want more to pass at the table, make extra.

Babyback Ribs with Maple Barbecue Sauce

1 rack babyback ribs
1-2 teaspoons garlic salt (or a mix of garlic powder and salt, to taste)
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
For the sauce:
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon bourbon
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder (or chili powder)
1/4 teaspoon allspice

I like to cut the rack in half or into thirds for easier arrangement on the grill and easier handling. If you prefer to leave them whole, that's fine too.

Sprinkle the ribs with the garlic salt (or garlic powder and salt) and the paprika, and rub it into the meat. This should be enough to coat the ribs lightly. Set the meat aside while you prepare your grill with the fire on the sides of the grill and an empty spot in the center.

When the fire is ready (or your gas grill is cleaned, lit, and preheated) place the ribs on the grill, bone-side down. If you have a rib rack you can use that, but it's not necessary. Cover the grill and let the ribs cook until they are as tender as you like.

Cooking time will vary depending on how meaty those ribs are and how hot your grill is, but assume that it will be at least an hour, and much longer if the ribs are meaty, your temperature is low, and you want to cook them until the meat falls from the bone. With meaty ribs and really low cooking temperature, 3-4 hours is possible.

While you can crank up the heat and cook the ribs much faster, the low, slow cooking will give you tender, juicy ribs rather than jerky between bones.

When it's convenient, mix all of the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside until needed.

Ten minutes before the ribs are ready to come off the grill brush the sauce over the ribs, coating them evenly. Use all the sauce. Close the grill and let them cook for the final 10 minutes.

Remove the ribs from the grill and let them rest at least 5 minutes before you cut into them.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Whole Foods Friday: Scallops Three Ways

I picked up a bag of bay scallops - one pound - and then couldn't decide exactly what I wanted to do with them. I mean, there are so many options.

Everywhere I looked, there were recipes for grilling scallops, but I think the bigger sea scallops are much better suited for that sort of treatment. The little bay scallops don't offer as much surface area, nor are they the best choice when you want impressive presentation.

And threading a bunch of little scallops on a skewer didn't seem like a good use of my time. There are plenty of other ways to cook them.

But even though bay scallops aren't that impressive to look at, they still taste good.

On the raw side

I started with a cold preparation: ceviche. Some people would say that ceviche is raw, since there's no heat applied, but others would tell you that the seafood is "cooked" by the acid. It looks cooked, and the texture changes. I guess it's actually pickled rather than truly cooked. But it's not like a raw scallop any more.

If you're one of the folks who thinks cilantro tastes like soap, you can omit it, or use parsley instead. The parsley won't give you the same flavor, but it will add a nice punch of green color and flavor.

As for the pepper, it depends on how much heat you like. Jalapenos are milder (but larger) than serranos. To tame the heat of either one, remove the seeds and the ribs. If you want more heat, leave those seeds and ribs in place.

Scallop Ceviche

1/4 pound bay scallops
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 medium tomato, diced
1 jalapeno or serrano chile, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
Zest of 1/2 lime
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Quarter the scallops - or, if they're larger, cut them again - you want pieces about the size of a small pea. Combine all the ingredients in a small non-reactive container and refrigerate at least 20 minutes, until the scallops have turned white and feel a little firmer.

Serve with tortilla chips or crackers.

This can also be made a day in advance.


Poaching is all about cooking something slowly in a liquid. In many cases, that liquid is a stock or perhaps water fortified with wine and herbs.

In this case we're poaching in butter. Yes, butter.

The key here is to keep the temperature very low - you don't want the butter to burn. The thyme infuses the butter with its flavor, and that flavors the scallops as well.

And nothing goes to waste. The butter dresses the pasta.

Butter-Poached Scallops with Tricolor Orzo

1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon dry thyme
1/4 pound bay scallops
1 cup tricolor orzo
1 small tomato, diced
1 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise, sliced thinly
Salt and pepper, to taste

In the narrowest pot you have, melt the butter - ideally the scallops should be submerged in the butter as they cook. I used a 2-cup metal measuring cup that's stovetop-safe. They didn't all stay completely submerged, so I had to move them around as they cooked.

Add the thyme to the melted butter, then add the scallops. Turn the heat down as low as it will go - you want the butter to just barely bubble once in a while - not quite a simmer. Cook the scallops, stirring as needed so they cook evenly, until they are evenly white.

Meanwhile, cook the orzo in boiling salted water until cooked to your taste.

Add the scallops and all the butter to the pasta, then add the tomato and zucchini. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, as needed. Serve warm.

You cooked what?

Did you know that the leaves on cauliflower - those leaves you usually trim off and throw away - are edible?

Sure, you might not buy cauliflower just for those leaves, but this is a great way to use them up. Cooked, they look - and taste - a bit like bok choy.

Of course, if you don't happen to have cauliflower leaves on hand, you could use bok choy or celery instead.

The radishes, cooked just a little bit, add a bright pop of pink and bright white. The cooking mutes their sharpness a bit, so even folks who don't like raw radishes might like these.

Pan-Fried Bay Scallops and Vegetables

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Leaves from 1 cauliflower, trimmed of tough or damaged bits, thinly sliced
1 small yellow squash, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced
4 radishes, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon lemon juice (or to taste)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 pound bay scallops

Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil on medium high heat. Add the cauliflower leaves and cook for a minute or two until they begin to soften.

Add the yellow squash and cook, stirring as needed, until the squash wilts a bit - it's fine if some of them brown a bit.

Add the radishes and cook very briefly, just until they wilt. Add the salt, pepper, and lemon juice, stir to combine, and transfer to a serving plate.

Add the second tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and cook the scallops until they are white and cooked just though. If you can get them to brown a bit in spots, that's great, but don't overcook them or they'll get rubbery.

Serve the scallops on top of the vegetables. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and another squeeze of lemon, if desired.

For more information about Whole Foods Friday, see the tab at the top.