Category Archives: foodies!

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!

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!

beet and orange quinoa salad

This is so pretty, and if you’ve got oranges hanging around from holiday gift baskets, this is a great way to use them!

Winter Beet and Orange Quinoa Salad

1 cup quinoa, uncooked

2 roasted beets, or if you’re lazy like me, one 8.8 oz package pre-cooked Love Beets, cut into bite sized pieces

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons soy sauce sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon raw agave nectar or honey
1 cup drained rinsed chick peas
4 oz baby spinach
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 fresh oranges, peeled, trimmed, cut into bite sized pieces

Rinse quinoa in a strainer under running water, then combine with 2 cups water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, turn down to simmer and cover. Set timer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove from heat, fluff with fork and let cool.

Make dressing: Combine olive oil, orange juice, soy sauce, vinegar, and agave in a measuring cup and whisk to blend.

Combine cooked quinoa in a mixing bowl with chick peas and baby spinach. Add salad dressing and toss lightly. Season with sea salt and pepper, to taste.

Add the cut up beets and orange pieces. Toss gently and serve. (Serves 4 as a main dish, or more as a side dish.)

No picture; we ate it!

Happy Lunar New Year!

Gung hay fat choy! It’s the year of the Boar (or Pig, but I think boar sounds nicer somehow).

Red envelopes with lucky money for the kids. Traditional foods…some friends asked me for this recipe, so I’m stashing it here. It’s pretty much a stew of different fungi! Feel free to mix and match according to your tastes and what you can find.

Jai
(Usually vegetarian but my Mom likes oysters and chicken broth in it)

1 oz dried lily flowers
1 oz shredded fungus (the ones we use looked like sliced black/gray leather strips)
4 bean curd sticks (dried)
10 black/shiitake mushrooms
8 red dates (dried. I don’t like them, but Mom does)
1/4 c fat choy (dried. Looks like black steel wool)

Soak the above ingredients for 2 hours or overnight.

2 T oil
1 Or 2 slices fresh ginger
3 oz fermented red bean curd (nom yee) (comes in jar)
3 oz fermented white bead curd (foo yee) (comes in jar)
3 C water
3 C chicken broth (or you can use all water)
12 oz canned gingko nuts
5 oz sliced water chestnuts (small can)
2 T brown sugar
3 T oyster sauce
3 T white wine
2 C shredded nappa cabbage
2 oz bean thread (dried)

Two 8 oz jars fresh small oysters (optional)

Presoak the first set of dry ingredients, separately, 2 hours or overnight. Rinse well. Cut and discard any hard portions. Cut bean curd sticks into 2” lengths.

Pour boiling water over bean thread to soften. Drain and cut into 3” lengths.

Heat oil in a large pot. Add ginger and bean curds; saute for a minute or so. Add 2 C water and break up bean curd. Add the rest of the water and broth. Add all other ingredients except oysters.

Simmer for one hour. Add drained oysters and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Makes a lot! Serves at least 8. Enjoy!

Back with knitting soon.