Category Archives: recipe

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!

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.

Piano and Pinot 11.0

My home was filled with gorgeous music on Saturday evening. The eleventh annual Piano and Pinot Fun-Raiser brought together three musicians, 16 guests, and wine and dessert. I don’t play my piano much these days, so it’s nice to hear it played by someone else. For this event, I’m in charge of the venue, a freshly tuned grand piano, and dessert.

We had two intermissions; the first one featured this simple dessert:

Mini blueberry cheesecake shooters. I adapted The Pioneer Woman’s Cherry Cheesecake Shooters recipe, and topped it with my blueberry compote. These mini wine tasting glasses hold just enough, and look fabulous. Updated recipe is at the bottom of this post.

The second intermission featured a buffet of lemon bars, shortbread, fruit salad, and my favorite sensational dessert, a flourless chocolate cake with chocolate glaze.

Untitled

This cake is so good that the gluten free status is just a bonus. This is easy, elegant, and delicious! Recipe is also at the bottom of this post.

Biscuit was very well behaved.

Yadi wanted lemon bars. I had to put him in the back room where he sang along(!).

It was a lovely evening among friends.

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Blueberry Cheesecake Shooters
adapted from the Pioneer Woman’s Cherry Cheesecake Shooters

Make the blueberry compote the night before, and refrigerate.

For the blueberry compote:
2.5 cups frozen blueberries, unthawed
1/3 C sugar
1/3 C water
1 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp pectin plus 1 tsp sugar

Combine 1.5 C berries with the sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Simmer over medium heat, stirring often, until berries burst, about 10 minutes. Add remaining berries and lemon juice. Continue stirring; cook until compote thickens, about 8 minutes. That wasn’t thick enough for me, so I stirred in a tsp of pectin combined with a tsp of sugar at the very end and cooked for another minute. Perfect. Cool, then cover and refrigerate.

For the cheesecake (same day, or night before):
1.5 cups finely crushed graham crackers (12 whole crackers, crushed)
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 8 ounce packages cream cheese
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup sliced almonds

I used graham cracker crumbs, already crumbly, which is a great time saver.

Place graham cracker crumbs in a large mixing bowl. Gradually add the melted butter and mix until crumbs begin to cling together. Spoon this “crust” into serving dishes: mini wine glasses, wine glasses, whatever you’d like.

Combine cream cheese,sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla extract in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whip until fluffy. Place mixture into a resealable plastic bag, cut off a corner and pipe mixture over graham cracker crumbs.

Spoon blueberry compote over the cheesecake mixture. Top with sliced almonds just before serving. Enjoy!

Yield: 24 servings in mini wine glasses, fewer if you’re using larger dishes. I used two sets of Libbey’s mini wine tasting glasses. They’d also be cute in little half cup canning jars.

********
Flourless Chocolate Torte with Chocolate Glaze

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 19 minutes

Ingredients:

6 ounces coarsely chopped semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Glaze:
2 ounces coarsely chopped semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoon milk
1 1/2 teaspoons Agave syrup or honey
1/8 teaspoon vanilla

Fresh raspberries for garnish, 1/2 pint (about 30 berries)

Preheat oven to 350°F
Line the bottom of a 9 inch round cake pan with parchment paper and spray the paper with non-stick cooking spray.

Melt 6 ounces chopped chocolate and butter in a saucepan over medium low heat. Stir until chocolate and butter are melted and smooth.

Add sugar and salt and reduce heat to low. Cook while stirring for about one minute, until sugar starts to dissolve.

Remove pan from heat. Whisk in eggs, one at a time. Whisk in vanilla.

Use a mesh sieve to sift cocoa into mixture. Whisk until batter is smooth.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for about 19 minutes. (I check mine at 15, first.) The center of the cake should be just firm to the touch; do not overbake.

Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Invert cake onto serving plate.

Glaze:
Melt 2 ounces of chopped chocolate and 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a small saucepan. Remove pan from heat. Add milk, agave syrup OR honey, and vanilla and stir until smooth. Cool glaze for about 5 minutes.

Pour glaze in the middle of the cake. Spread over the cake, allowing glaze to run down the sides of the cake. Garnish with raspberries around the edge.

Serves 16

adapted from http://glutenfreecooking.about.com/od/dessertsandsweets/r/flourlessgfcake.htm

Once more, food gifts with spirit(s)

First, if you’re looking for the free Petite Brioche knitting pattern, see this post.

I’m back in the kitchen today, making some quick gifts. Of course they are boozy. These were on my blog last year at this time, but are still just as quick, easy, and delicious.

Irish cream

Last year’s big hit: 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!

P1060593

My aunt sent me pears again this year, and in return she’ll get some cranberry pear bourbon jam. I get jam, pear tart, and pears for eating fresh. A good deal for both of us!

Cranberry/Pear/Bourbon/Ginger Jam

4 cups cored and chopped pears (I left the skins on)
4 cups fresh cranberries
3 cups sugar
1/2 lemon, juiced and zested
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup water
1/4 cup bourbon
1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger (optional)

Combine chopped pears, cranberries, sugar cinnamon, lemon juice and zest, and water in a large pot. Stir to combine and let it rest until the sugar has begun to dissolve, about 10 minutes.

Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat simmer for 15-25 minutes or longer, stirring regularly, until it thickens. Add bourbon and ginger, and continue cooking until jam coats spoon without running off.

Ladle jam into prepared jars. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Makes 5 half pints. (If you need more thorough instructions for processing, go to Food in Jars! I’m assuming that you know how to jam.)

Bourbon caramel sauce

And I’m not currently making this one, because I still have some in my fridge to use on dessert. But you might need to make some, so here’s the recipe: Bourbon Caramel Sauce, recipe from Danielle Centoni. I’ve made this many times, and it always gets raves. We’ll be having some with ice cream on a pear tart tonight. My only warning on this one is don’t get greedy when caramelizing the sugar. It can go from perfect nut-brown to burnt in a blink. Brown enough is brown enough! This makes 2.5 cups; I usually gift it in little 4 ounce jars, because a little goes a long way.

Merry Christmas to you! Did you make food gifts this year?

WWKIP Day, KAL party, non-yarn chicken

It’s shaping up to be a knit-packed weekend here in Portland, Oregon! Knit Picks is having a WWKIP (Worldwide Knit in Public) Day event this Saturday, June 10. I’ll be one of the guest designers there; come say hi if you’re local! It’s from 1 to 3 p.m. at Overlook Park. Refreshments, door prizes, and yarn sampling!

I’ll be knitting with this Knit Picks Stroll Gradient cake in Ice Sculpture; it’s my Go Tell the Bees KAL knitting. (Click for Ravelry link)

And I’m having a a Go Tell the Bees KAL party at Pearl Fiber Arts on Sunday June 11 from 1 to 3. Fierce Fibers dyer StaceyKok will be there with some of her lovely gradient cakes, too. Again, if you’re local, come knit with me! (RSVP to Cindy at the shop; space is limited.)

And here’s a recipe that I’d like to share; we had this on Memorial Day. It’s a family favorite. (Hey, look, chicken that’s not YARN CHICKEN on the blog!)

Vietnamese Chicken Wings or Drums

Ingredients

Marinade
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup nuoc mam (Vietnamese fish sauce) I use 3 Crabs brand. Red Boat is also good, and it’s gluten-free if that’s an issue.
1 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup rice vinegar
2 heaping tablespoons minced garlic
1 rounded tablespoon red pepper flakes

1 large flat of chicken wings (about 20 wings), cut into 3 sections, discard tips, or 1 flat drumsticks (about 16)
2 tsp cornstarch, combined with 2 tsp cold water
1/2 bunch cilantro

In a quart-size jar with tight-fitting lid, combine marinade ingredients. Seal and shake until sugar is dissolved.

Marinate wings/drums in sauce about 4 hours in refrigerator.

Grill wings/drums on medium-low temp to brown and cook through, turning every 5 minutes. Drumsticks take about 25-30 minutes. I’ve never used wings, so you’re on your own for timing. They’re traditional, though.

While grilling, put about half the remaining marinade into a sauce pan and bring to boil.

Add cornstarch/cold water mix to thicken a bit, I used about 2 teaspoons of corn starch.

Chop up fresh cilantro.

When wings/drums are done, put in large bowl, pour in some thickened glaze and stir. Arrange on platter and garnish with cilantro.

Enjoy!