Category Archives: recipe

Plum deliciousness

You know I have a long-standing passion for yellow plum jam. Yellow plums are my all time favorite for jamming, and and for eating.

I made 2 batches (20 half pint jars) of ginger/plum/bourbon jam, from just two bowls of plums from my friend Linda. I thought I was done for the year.

Darn kids, I thought. Who’s dropping lunch reject plums on my dried up front lawn? Then I looked up, and realized the truth. The plum trees that I planted 10 years ago, that never produced fruit (well, one tree made two plums about 5 years ago), have decided that this is the year. Maybe they like being heat stressed, or they think they need to reproduce because the heat is going to kill them. Whatever.

I got on a ladder, and picked 19 plums. That’s the harvest, between the two trees. They’re oddly large, and the fruit is firm, like an Italian prune. I think they’re a Japanese plum, but I’m not sure; 2011 was a long time ago. The plums aren’t especially juicy, and they’re fairly tart. I don’t want to make more jam; purple plum jam isn’t as delicious as yellow plum jam, at least to me. What to do?

I put out the question on FB, and the answer was: Plum Torte. The famous NYTimes recipe from Marian Burros, to be precise. I remembered that Smitten Kitchen also had a take on it, and another friend referred to the Food52 version. Excellent references, all. I did a mashup of the three using:

3/4 cup all purpose flour plus 1/4 cup corn meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
Large pinch of salt
3/4 granulated sugar
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) salted butter, softened
2 large eggs
5 plums quartered and pitted (because mine are so big)
omitted the fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chunky sugar and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon for garnish

Cream sugar and butter, beat in eggs, beat in dry ingredients. I put mine in an 8” springform pan, because that’s the one I have. Top with plums, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or til done. Cool, remove from pan, celebrate!

I told you the plums are oddly large. The recipes call for 12 small Italian plums, halved, and a 9” pan. If I had halved the plums, I could probably only fit 4 in the pan, so I cut them lengthwise, twice, and made a flower/sunburst with them. They sink into the cake,, so you’d never know, and I forgot to take a picture before baking. I’m not a real food blogger!

We loved this so much, I had to make it a second time, because we still have a few plums left. Also, I wanted to tweak it a bit; I used more corn meal the first time, and it was crunchier than I like. I have medium grind cornmeal, because I use it under pizza on the pizza stone. A finer grind would be ideal, but I don’t use corn meal often enough to have more in the pantry.

This cake is actually for dessert tonight, but I wanted to take a picture for you. And now I have to taste it. Such a sacrifice. Delicious!

Ginger Chocolate Scones, redux

I’ve been making chocolate chip scones for decades. The ancient recipe lives on my refrigerator, and is getting harder and harder to read. It used 4 tablespoons of butter, and milk. They were nice, but not particularly luxe. Along the way, I’ve modified things a bit.

Ginger Chocolate Scones

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F

2 cups flour (not whole wheat; I used unbleached white)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder (not soda)
1/2 tsp salt

8 Tbsp (1/2 cup) cold butter

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/4 cup candied ginger bits (I like Penzey’s)

1/2 cup half and half (just barely, or it will be too wet)
1 egg, scrambled

Combine dry ingredients and stir. Cut the butter into pieces and then blend them into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter. Stir in chocolate chips and ginger. Scramble the egg into the half and half, and then pour it into the flour mixture. Stir until blended, then knead on floured surface about 10 times. Form three balls with the dough. Pat out balls into circles about 7 inches in diameter, slightly mounded in center. Cut each circle into six pieces. Place on ungreased cookie sheet, cover with a towel and let rest for 10 minutes. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until just golden. Cool on rack. EAT! To reheat, warm in toaster oven on lowest setting.

Makes 18 dainty scones.

One step closer to letting you know about my new project! 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!

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!

Potpourri catch-up! Zoom classes, pickles, and more

First, I have a Kerfuffle stranded colorwork cowl class on Wednesday evening through Weird Sisters. You don’t even have to be in the same time zone! Here’s the link.

It *is* possible to learn knitting techniques through Zoom, and if you’re missing your usual knitting circle, this is a great way to get your knitting fix. We had a Petite Brioche class on Saturday, and everyone was successfully knitting brioche by the end of class.

Second, I mailed off some goodies for the Minerva KAL participants this morning. If you’re out of the country, it could take up to 2 weeks to arrive. Otherwise, locally should be much quicker than that.

Third, my Fibonacci and Fan shawl pattern was just featured by Noble Knits. Check out this page for Fibonacci and Fan, and more great math geek knitting!

Fish sauce pickled cucumbers

Fourth, I’ve been playing with quick pickles recently. My favorite so far are these spicy fish sauce pickles. Original recipe here, and my take below. Basically double the liquid ingredients, reduce the sugar and red pepper. And only one cucumber. That’s what fits in the jar!

Spicy Fish Sauce Quick Pickles

1/2 cup rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 small cucumber

Cut cucumber into 1/4” thick rounds. Whisk all other ingredients together in a wide mouth 12 oz canning jar. Add cucumber slices. Refrigerate for 3 hours/overnight. They get spicier the longer you soak them! I take them out the next day and store them in a covered dish.

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!

In the kitchen for Christmas gifts

I’m back from vacation, so I’m in the kitchen today, making some quick gifts. I last posted this recipe in 2017, but it’s still just as quick, easy, and delicious.

DIY Irish Cream, adapted from Smitten Kitchen. This comes together in 5 minutes, and makes three of these cute 8 ounce bottles. (You get 30 oz of liquid, but I barely filled three of these 1/4 liter (8 oz) bottles the first time I made this. No worries; just adjust your expectations accordingly.)

1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup (235 ml) heavy cream
1 (14-ounce or 415 ml) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
9 oz Jameson’s Irish whiskey (original recipe calls for a cup, but 9 oz fills the bottles just a little better, and yum)

In a small bowl, whisk cocoa powder and a spoonful of cream into a paste. Add more cream a splash at a time until the paste is liquid enough that you can whisk in the rest of the cream. Transfer to a pitcher, and whisk in condensed milk, whiskey and vanilla. Bottle for gifts. Keep refrigerated for up to two weeks. Seriously, how long do you think this will last? Give it a good shake before using; the cocoa wants to sink, and the cream wants to rise to the top. Of course!

A little more work, but I’m also making Pear Vanilla Caramel Sauce, also from Smitten Kitchen. I made some last year, and it was fabulous. I’ll add a bit of bourbon to give it some warmth and depth. I like this recipe because it’s canned, so I can ship some back to my aunt and uncle! They send me a box of beautiful pears every Christmas, and I love finding new things to do with them. Previously, I’ve done cranberry pear jam, and lots of pear tarts with puff pastry.

I got brave and put up our tiny tree and menorah, but I hedged my bets with Calvin. I wasn’t sure if he could be trusted with decorations.

Apparently not. So the truly fragile ornaments will stay in their boxes!

Our Christmas stockings are up and waiting to be filled.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to you!

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.