Category Archives: foodies!

The Bridgerton Knitting Incentive

Well, I didn’t finish DH’s sweater in time for his birthday yesterday; I got sidetracked by that new smaller leafed Leafy Origami Cowl. I decided to set the cowl down and do some mad knitting on the sweater.

Four episodes of Bridgerton later, it was long enough to consider hem options. DH doesn’t want patterning at the hem, just ribbing, so I had a bit more knitting to do. No problem. (For those who know that I was saving Bridgerton as treadmill incentive, I decided getting this sweater done was more important. I’ll pick a new incentive.)

The hem is just 1×1 ribbing, and I’m using Patty Lyons’ “What the Flip” method of transitioning into the ribbing so that the hem doesn’t flip up where the stockinette meets the ribbing. Basically, on the first round of rib, slip the knit stitches (purlwise with yarn in back), purl the purl stitches, and then work k1p1 ribbing on subsequent rounds. Easy enough! I don’t know that this hem was going to flip, but why not just avoid the whole issue?

The hem should be done tonight, and then I’m headed for Sleeve Island.

Even without his new sweater, we had a good day. We went to Mt. Tabor for a walk/hike to the top of this extinct volcanic cinder cone. Volcano in the city!

There are several city water reservoirs on Mt.Tabor that will eventually be decommissioned in favor of new covered reservoirs, but these are so pretty.

The kids made lasagna Bolognese from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s Food Lab book, and it was fabulous. Lots of interesting ingredients including anchovies and fish sauce for perfect umami flavor.

I made a pear tart and bourbon caramel sauce for dessert, both old favorite recipes. All was traded back and forth on the porch, since we’re still distancing. Looking forward to a Covid-19 vaccination someday soon.

Paella!

For Christmas, we gave the kids a private Zoom class with our favorite local chef, Jenn Louis. She has had several restaurants here in Portland, and has several cookbooks out, too. Their choices were: handmade pasta, paella, or tamales. They felt that paella was the dish they would probably make again on their own. Good call!

Jenn even lent us paella pans for the event. So perfect! I did all the shopping; it was like making a meal kit for the kids. They’re in a Covid bubble, as are we, so we had two houses cooking together, apart.

Jenn planned the whole meal. We had some nibbles before dinner: Manchego cheese, quince paste, marcona almonds and baguette.

Salad with roasted red pepper, olives, tangerines, lemon vinaigrette (and some goat cheese left over from the dates)

Bacon wrapped dates, stuffed with goat cheese.

The kids bought these delightful Spanish wines, red and an effervescent white. They were a perfect pairing with our dinner.

Are you hungry now? Jenn has graciously allowed me to share the paella recipe, below. She also said that we could do this in a large skillet, if we didn’t have paella pans. (I’m not sure I really have room to store one, lovely as the are.)

Paella with chorizo and shellfish

SERVES 4
1⁄4 cup [60 ml] olive oil, plus more for finishing
4 ounces [115 g] chorizo, roughly chopped
8 ounces [230 g] mixed seafood of your choice
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sweet smoked paprika
1 cup [200 g] Calasparra, Valencia, or Bomba rice (short grain, arborio works, too)
Small pinch of saffron threads (about 1⁄2 teaspoon)
2 tomatoes, cut into 6 pieces each and most seeds removed
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups [960 ml] chicken stock or water, plus more as needed (edit: now that I’m doing this in my skillet rather than a wider, shallower paella pan, I’m going to start with 3 cups. I can always add more if the rice isn’t done enough.)

Warm the olive oil in a 13 1⁄2-inch [34-cm] paella pan over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo and cook for 2 minutes, then add the onion, garlic, and paprika. Cook until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and saffron and stir to evenly coat and toast the rice, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until they become warm and begin to fall apart, about 3 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Evenly distribute and flatten out the rice in the pan and then add the stock. Turn the heat to high, taste the broth, and adjust the seasoning. Bring to a simmer, then decrease the heat to a medium simmer and cook, rotating the paella pan every 2 minutes, for about 20 minutes, until the rice is plump and cooked. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper.

After 10 minutes arrange the seafood on top of the rice and continue to cook until the seafood is done. (edit: I’m adding seafood when the liquid is down to the rice level)

Keep the paella over high heat and continue to rotate the pan every 2 minutes to create an evenly crispy bottom, (known as socarrat). Add additional chicken stock or water as needed to fully cook the rice. (edit: my super conductive Cuisinart pan doesn’t need to go to high heat; I don’t want it to scorch!)

A very pretty dinner, indeed!

I love gifts that are consumable, and leave no clutter behind. This was exactly right. And we all got to hang out together on Zoom, still socially distant. I’ll be so glad when they can just come over for dinner again, but this was a great alternative. Thanks to Jenn Louis for the recipe and the class!

Jenn’s latest cookbook is The Chicken Soup Manifesto; I gave a copy to my sister Sharon last year.

Burmese Chicken Noodle Soup
Chicken Mafè (West African)
Chicken gumbo

She’s on a roll! (Soup photos are courtesy Sharon Hsu. And I don’t know why the first two turned sideways when I uploaded them?)

Happy new year; I hope it’s delicious!

Thanksgiving recap

For those of you who wanted to know how the buttermilk brined, spatchcocked turkey went: It was fantastic. The kids said it was the best turkey they’ve ever had. Calling that a win!

Someone had to guard the turkey from the cats as it came to room temperature before roasting. Good job, Phil!

The turkey roasted up beautifully. I tented it with foil for the last half hour.

It is so hard to get a decent picture without natural light! And yes, a petite serving, but that’s what happens when I’m in the kitchen all day, and tasting as I go. Have to make sure it’s good! My Dad’s stuffing? Stellar.

I opened a special bottle of wine for the occasion, and sent half of it off with the kids. In a mason jar. Classy! But I wasn’t ready to give up the bottle/label yet. This was part of the swag from the solar eclipse watch at Willamette Valley Vineyards in 2017,

Great memories!

Pumpkin pie for dessert.

And breakfast!

We were happy to share dinner with the kids, picked up distantly from the porch. And we Zoomed with DH’s family in the morning.

Annual family picture, 2020 style

I’m hoping for a more normal Thanksgiving next year, but we have much to be thankful for, now. Wishing everyone a lovely weekend!

The river runs on

It was a big week! I did a little knitting, and a lot of teaching.

Here’s the little knitting, before. I ripped back my Rio Calina a bit. I learned that it’s not so much the direction of the cable cross that drives me, but the over/under. I didn’t like long snakey lines that continued uncrossed on the top of the fabric, so I changed it! Do you see what I did?

I like it a lot better this way.

The squash I’ve been pollinating (plant sex!) in the garden did some sneaky growing while I wasn’t paying attention. It got big!

I guess the bees can manage from here on out.

I used one of the squash on a pizza. Same basic structure as the puff pastry tarts in previous posts, but this is a little more substantial than the puff pastry.

Do you remember mug cakes, from a few years ago? We needed a small dessert, so I made a mug cake. This is half, plus some goodies. Here’s the recipe.

I taught 4 classes for Virtual VKLive, including Syncopation, which made its VKLive debut. It was really fun; my students were awesome!

Now I’m working on more video tutorials, and launching a Payhip store. More on that later.

Knit on!

Playing with my food: vegetable tart

This was a delightful appetizer. So simple, and so pretty. I’m not done playing with the idea, but here are some rough notes for it. Still playing with my food!

Summer Vegetable Tart
1 Pepperidge Farm frozen puff pastry sheet (2 in a box, I’ll be playing again)
1/2 small zucchini (you may call it a courgette if you’re fancy)
1/2 small yellow crookneck squash (story below)
20 cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella (I used crumbled feta, but will change)
small handful of basil leaves, sliced thin
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 T maple syrup
salt and pepper

Thaw puff pastry, 40 minutes. I flip it halfway through because it can get soggy. Roll it out a little bigger, to about 10” square. Fold up the edge to create a lip. Use a fork to poke holes in the bottom of the pastry to keep it from rising too much (but mine rose anyway, and I had to stab it to deflate it). Pre-bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.

While your pastry is pre-baking, slice squash into 1/8” thin rounds. Slice tomatoes in half. On your pre-baked pastry (which you’ve stabbed to deflate), sprinkle parmesan, and arrange your vegetables, artfully, of course. Bake 20 – 22 minutes at 400 degrees, until pastry is brown and vegetables are done.

10 minutes before tart is done, bring balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, and a pinch of salt and pepper to a boil, turn heat to medium high, and reduce to thicken to a sauce, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

When tart is finished, sprinkle with mozzarella and basil leaves, and drizzle with the sauce. Beautiful!

Planned playing: Toss the vegetables with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper to so they juice up a bit while cooking? Pre-roast more vegetables (because they’ll shrink), chunkier cut, for more flavor/softer texture? Or, do it like Jamie Oliver: roast the veggies in a dish, then put the puff pastry on top and cook, then flip the whole thing over to serve. Brilliant. I’m trying this next. Link here. I think it’s heartier/more dinner-like. The tart I made is a lovely light appetizer.

Oliver drizzles balsamic vinegar over all, but I think I’d still do the balsamic glaze to give it more body. It’s pretty!

I don’t think there’s any way to get this dish wrong; there are so many ways to play with it.

Edit: The kids came for socially distant lunch today, so I tried the roast and flip version. Upshot? It was good, but I like it better the first way; I don’t like my veggies being super soft from roasting. So I’ll probably hybridize this by tossing the thinly sliced squash with a bit of olive oil and oregano, and then placing them with the tomatoes on a par-baked crust and baking to finish. You could also use a veggie peeler and create squash ribbons, if you want to look *really* fancy.

Go play with your food!

Back story: I have one yellow crookneck squash plant. It has given me ONE squash, and not for lack of trying on my part. So I wanted to showcase the pretty squash, and that’s why I made this tart.

The plant was making lots of flowers. boy flowers. Then it made girl flowers. But not at the same time, for weeks. Finally, girl flowers appeared. (You can tell because they have an ovary under the flwoers; boy flowers are just flowers on a stem.) But the girl flowers weren’t getting fertilized, so they were withering on the vine (lower left picture).

Reader, I did the plant sex for them. Water color paintbrush. Boy pollen to girl flower. Voilà, a squash! Just one, so far. And now I check my flowers daily…just call me yenta/matchmaker!

Strawberry season

Friday’s full moon is known as the Strawberry Moon, and it’s definitely strawberry season here. I went to the farmers market last week and picked up local Seascape strawberries. I made 8 half pints of jam, strawberry shortcake, and 1/2 pint of strawberry balsamic jam with the leftovers. That strawberry balsamic jam was so good; it left me wanting more.

Hood strawberries

I went back to the market this week, and was early enough in the day to pick up Hood strawberries, the crown jewel of local berries. They’re so delicate they don’t travel out of the area. This half flat turned into five 4 oz jars of strawberry balsamic jam (recipe from Food in Jars here), more shortcake (half for us and half delivered to the grown kids), and a bit left for eating fresh. I think next time I’ll add an extra tablespoon of balsamic vinegar for a slightly deeper punch.

Apparently I used to be more opinionated about strawberry jam, so here’s my 2015 rendition of the recipe. Now I just want to get it into jars before the berries turn.

PIng!

strawberry shortcake

I think this is my favorite presentation, but it’s also nice to have jam to remember this fleeting moment. Strawberry season comes and goes in a blink!

Bagels, no yeast, no wait

Yogurt bagels

I wanted to bake bagels again this past weekend, but I’m short on yeast. An Instagram post by @minibagelmom mentioned something called yogurt bagels. And right down the rabbit hole I went!

Apparently there are 2 ingredient bagel recipes, which use just self-rising flour and greek yogurt. Self rising flour is just flour with baking powder and salt added, so that’s a 4 ingredient bagel at our house. Why buy and store self-rising flour separately? I have a tiny kitchen.

I looked through a lot of yogurt bagel recipes online; most made 4 bagels. That’s not enough bagels to turn on the oven. Doubling it would require 2 cups of greek yogurt, which I didn’t have. But! The recipe on the Fage Yogurt page only needed 1.5 cups of yogurt, and claimed to make 8 bagels.

And it did. There’s no rise time for these bagels, just mix, knead a tiny bit, and shape. No boiling, just bake. They’re not a perfect bagel, but a darn good substitute if you are short on yeast and time. DH liked them, and I’d make them again. Recipe here.

Note: Definitely shape them as directed; my usual way of making a ball and poking my thumb through made a very unattractive sticky ring. Rolling into a rope and making a circle looked much better, so I reshaped my originals.

We’re eating at home a *lot* with an occasional take-out meal to support a favorite restaurant. Other delicious things we’ve had recently:

Quinoa bowl with brussels sprouts and eggplant
Quinoa bowl with roasted brussels sprouts, eggplant, and tahini, recipe from NYTimes/Melissa Clark.

lentil and spinach soup
Instant Pot lentil and spinach soup from Kitchen Treaty.

What’s your favorite thing you’ve cooked recently? Are you being more adventurous in the kitchen?

Baking for fun and comfort

I spent some extra time in the kitchen this weekend. I had a hankering for bagels, and we didn’t have any.

homemade bagels

I’ve used this bagel recipe before, adapted to use some whole grain flour, with good results. Here’s my version of the recipe, in a previous blog post. I was a bit worried, because my yeast had a “best by” date of February 2019, but it worked just fine. You know at the beginning of the process, so no problem.

The bagels are delicious! Fabulous straight from the oven, but I actually like the slightly chewier texture the next day.

I’ve seen on the interwebz that lots of people are stress baking during this COVID-19 stay-at-home order. Apparently there’s been a run on flour and yeast at the grocery stores. I don’t think I’m stress baking; I just like to bake! I’m not ready to use more of my dwindling flour supply yet, but that didn’t stop me from making dessert.

Peanut butter cookies

I baked some flourless peanut butter cookies, using a mashup of The Nashville Food Project’s 3 ingredient peanut butter cookies from Judy’s Chickens and Smitten Kitchen’s 5 ingredient version. The 2 extra ingredients? A splash of vanilla, and some coarse sea salt sprinkles. Those two extras make my day.

Peanut Butter Cookies (makes about 18 2” cookies)

7/8 cup peanut butter (just a little less than a full cup)
7/8 cup packed light brown sugar, or a mixture of light brown and white sugar
1 egg
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
coarse sea salt, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (no mess to clean up!)

Whisk sugar(s) and egg together in a mixing bowl. Whisk in vanilla, then peanut butter, until smooth. Use a mini ice cream scoop to form balls, and place on cookie sheet. Criss cross slightly flat with a fork. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake 12-15 mins, or until lightly browned at edges. Let them cool slightly, then move to wire rack to finish cooling. Store in airtight container, if you don’t eat them all immediately!

If you used a full cup of sugar, and a whole cup of peanut butter, it would still be fine. I used all brown sugar this time, but I’ve used half brown and half white before. This is not the time to stress over your baking! Feeling fancy? Add 1/2 C  mini chocolate chips to the dough. Yum!

How are you managing? Are you staying at home? Baking? Knitting? Cleaning house? OK, that last one isn’t high on my to-do list!

Wishing you sweetness and knitting in 2020!

Wishing you a happy 2020; I hope it brings you much joy.

We had a delicious family Christmas with my side of the family. Hosting Sis not pictured; she’s behind the camera.

We celebrated Hanukkah on the 10th night. Yes, I know Hanukkah has 8 days, but I believe in celebrating when you can. It’s better than not celebrating!

Mom-in-law was here for this Hanukkah/New Year’s Eve celebration, and we made this Chocolate Cloud Cake. It was fun to make, and it looked and tasted divine. The picture isn’t particularly artful, because everyone wanted to eat the cake instead of wait for me to style it. I can’t blame them. This is going into my repeat file, for sure. Link here. Oh, it’s flourless and gluten free, too!

I hope your 2020 is full of sweetness, and knitting, too.

Cranberry Brie Wreath

I made this appetizer the other day, and it was delightful.

It’s made with puff pastry and filled with cranberry sauce and toasted almonds. The centerpiece is a round of baked brie for dipping. The whole thing is garnished with fresh rosemary. Sound good? It was, twice! The second one was prettier than this one, as I figured out what I was doing.

I saw a video on Facebook for a Camenbert version, and had to play with it. Link here.

Now I’m thinking it could be filled with lemon curd, with a blueberry compote in a dish in the center after baking.

Or cinnamon sugar and butter, and icing in a dish in the center after baking.

Or chocolate chips, and…what goes in the center? Nutella?

The possibilities are endless. But start here:

Cranberry Brie Wreath

Ingredients:
1 package (2 sheets) puff pastry (I used Pepperidge Farm, frozen. Defrost for an hour)
1/2 – 1 cup cranberry sauce (mine had whole berries in it, so it took about 1 cup to spread enough)
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds (I bought them already toasted, supposedly a salad garnish)
1 small round brie
Drizzle of olive oil
Fresh rosemary for garnish
1 egg and a bit of milk or half and half for an egg wash

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Place one sheet of puff pastry on a sheet of parchment paper, roll it out lightly to reduce creases.

Spread cranberry sauce in a circle on puff pastry, avoiding center where cheese will go, and corners which will be removed to make a circle.

Sprinkle toasted almonds over cranberry sauce.

Roll out the other sheet of puff pastry, and put it on top of the first.

Round off corners of puff pastry, and cut out circle in center (use your Brie as a guide for size). Set Brie in center, score top.

Cut 4 slits in puff pastry, from outer edge to about 1/2 inch from center circle, North, South, East, West. Cut 3 additional slits between each of these first 4 lines (you’re making 12 equal pieces).

Working with paired pieces of puff pastry, twist each piece outward 2 times. Then give the ends another half twist to press the ends of each pair together.

Brush with an egg wash.

Score the top of Brie with a knife, and drizzle it with olive oil. Garnish the whole wreath with snips of fresh rosemary.

Transfer parchment to cookie sheet and bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees, or until puff pastry is golden brown. Transfer to serving dish. Serve hot.

Have fun with the possibilities!