Saturday, December 4, 2010

My Slice of the Pie

Pie hot from the oven and soup ready to ladle into bowls.

The other day I spent pretty much all day in the kitchen. I was making Butternut Squash Chowder and my Raspberry Cherry Pie. Since I believe in having dessert first, that's the recipe I'm giving.

My pie crust is a variation on Alton Brown's recipe but I had to be honest with myself...Lard? I was not going to go to the store to buy a pound of lard for all of 4 tablespoons of the stuff no matter how magical it may make my crust. sooo, I substituted.

Using a food processor made the whole process as easy as, well... pie. The recipe makes only one crust though. For Thanksgiving I doubled the recipe for a two crust pie and decided that since the process was so quick it is just as easy to do it twice and not worry about divvying up the dough equally (it's hard to judge when it's all crumbly)

Easy as Pie Crust (makes 1 crust)

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter cut into small pieces and frozen
1 cup flour plus more for rolling the dough
1 teaspoon salt if using un-salted butter or 1/2 teaspoon if using salted
Ice water

Pi Filling
2 cans lite cherry pie filling
1 can raspberry pie filling

Now Alton said to put the ice water in a spray bottle and spritz the flour mixture until it forms a dough. Um...yeah, not so much. I live in a desert and I'd be spritzing all day trying to get my ingredients to the proper consistency. So I improvised, and instead I used a drizzle bottle, I'm not sure the actual name for them but they're the kind usually used for oil. I put water in instead and put it in the freezer with the butter until it was almost frozen. Pie crusts love the cold!!

So just like Alton, the flour and salt went in my food processor and pulsed a few times to mix. from there I removed the lid to add the frozen butter, replaced the lid and pulsed until the mixture resembled medium course crumbs. Then I took the ice water and still using the pulse option slowly added water until the mixture resembled really course wet crumbs and formed a ball when squeezed. This got poured onto plastic wrap and formed into a disk and put in the fridge for about half an hour.

Preheat oven to 425 F.

After the dough had chilled I took one disk out, rolled it out and lined my pie pan with it,trimming it flush with the pan edge then put it back in the fridge for another 10 minutes. While it was chilling I opened my pie filling and mixed the two fillings together in a bowl. After the crust was chilled again I took it out and put the filling in, then rolled out the other crust for the top.
I like to use a center hole for my vent so I cut this before putting the crust on the pie. I then lay it over the pie, trim the crust so there's about a 3/8 overhang to turn and flute and then decorate. I have little bitty cutters for my shapes which I stick on using warm water dabbed on the back of the shape.

Almost ready to go in the oven, isn't it pretty?

Put your pie on a cookie sheet in case of drips. I also like to use a foil cuff to keep the pie from getting too brown. to do this I take four strips of foil about 5 inches wide and fold them together to create a continuous strip. This I wrap around the pie, fold on it's self to form a ring and push the top portion of the foil to dome loosely over the crust. it will look like a foil volcano shape.
Bake for 30 minutes then rotate and bake for another 25 minutes. Remove the foil and brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Return to the oven for another 5 minutes or until top is golden brown.

I got a little happy with the sugar there

Friday, December 3, 2010

Join me and a Merry Scotsman for Tea?

I made another Raspberry Cherry pie the other night and decided I wanted a slice with my tea this morning.

It's easy and yummy, the perfect combination. Consider this a teaser. I'll share my recipe tomorrow.

I thought you might also enjoy my merry Scotsman china.
A Scot, a coat of arms and a bouquet of thistles amid the tartan.

The back of the saucer, each piece is also numbered, do you see the black 5 at the top?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Herbed Butter

We got to have two Thanksgiving dinners this year. The first was Thanksgiving day with Lewis' mom and step-dad and the second the day after with his dad and step-mom. Each was delicious and I came away with new recipes to try.
I was in charge of a cherry pie for the first dinner but as I was looking at the cans of pie filling at the grocer I felt the need to add a bit more to it so I also grabbed a can of raspberry pie filling and using Alton Brown's pie crust recipe (best crust like ever) I made a raspberry cherry pie that was to die for. I wanted to kick myself though, it was beautiful and just turning golden when I took off the foil...and then I left it in for about five minutes to long and the crust started to burn. So no pictures of that version. I think I'm craving it now though so another may be in the works for tea with the ladies.

For our second dinner I was in charge of rolls and I got a bit lazier. I would have made them from scratch but we'd gotten home too late the night before to pull out the bread maker to pre-program (cut me some slack, I was tired and had had quite a bit of wine to drink) and dinner was scheduled fairly early and I didn't want to get up early to make them. So I did what any self respecting lady of the house would do.
I whipped up a batch of herbed butter to go with the store bought rolls. It came out better than I expected and was enjoyed on our rolls as well as home grown potatoes from M and L's garden.
I think this would be lovely on tea sandwiches as well.

1 stick butter
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp dried basil
just a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (you can get whole nutmeg for a song at Indian markets and they're so very worth it!)
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Allow the butter to soften, I speed things up by cutting it into slices and putting in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time until it's soft but not melted.
Add all the dry ingredients and mix well. Let it sit for a couple of hours before serving to allow the flavors to meld.
I kept it at room temp so it was spreadable, but you could also put it in a butter mold or roll and refrigerate until firm.

Musings Over a Pot of Soup

I do love a step back in time to where the pace was slower and food heartier. The image of ladies with their full, floor length skirts covered with large white aprons bending over a pot bubbling on a cheery, wood burning stove to smell the delicate aroma rising therein comes to mind But as I was culling through a stewed chicken to make my Chicken Soup from Scratch I realized there isn't really anything romantically charming about the process at all. In fact, it's rather messy and more than just bit yucky.
When we think of the Victorian Era I think most of us think of the elegance and charm of a higher class lady. The one that had a cook to see to the meals and at least one servant to assist with the rigors of daily living. One certainly doesn't usually think of the lady with her sleeves rolled up to the elbow fishing through a pile of aromatics and chicken parts for choice bits of meat to set aside for the soup. And yet we know that someone must have.

My mother was born the year the Great Depression began and there was nothing romantic about that at all. She never knew anything but labor and although she was required to wear dresses she wasn't spared from working in the fields of my grandparents farm based on her gender. She could toss hay, till a field and milk a cow just as well as make enough bread to last a family of eight for a week, fix an entire dinner for the family using a wood stove and do the wash with nothing more than her hands and two large tubs.
It was from a childhood standing at her side that I learned most of my cooking skills. There were never any formal lessons given, just the constant repetition, gentle instructions and corrections
I learned to cook as she had, to use what was available in the pantry and never let anything go to waste. What could be eaten was eaten and what couldn't went back to the earth to fortify it for a new harvest.

Now all of us know that there is nothing more delicious and satisfying as a bowl of hot soup made from scratch. They may try, but the cans just can't capture the nuances of flavor that a pot simmering over the course of the day has. My daughter love soup, and we do occasionally purchase it in cans for simplicity sake, but that is nothing more than sustenance for the stomach. When I make soup from scratch is becomes food for the soul as well.
Today my lovely young Miss. arrived home from a night of sledding and sleepover to the aroma of chicken and aromatics simmering for the stock. She paused, deeply inhaled then gleefully asked "Soup?" A nod from me was all it took to bring her into the kitchen , coat still on to stand over the pot inhaling blissfully.
Through the course of the day as I've gone in to stir or chop she's been close at hand proclaiming how happy she is to be having soup. I'm so glad that I can create something that makes her so happy and is so good for her at the same time.

Chicken Soup from Scratch

4 qt chicken stock
2 cups chopped chicken
1lb carrots
6 stalks celery including leafy bits
1 large turnip
2 medium onions
4 cloves garlic
2 tbsp finely grated, fresh ginger*
1 tbsp chicken bullion
1/4 cup fish sauce*
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar*
freshly ground pepper & kosher salt to taste

Chop the vegetables to a uniform size, leave three cloves of garlic whole and finely chop the 4th and place all ingredients in a large stock pot. Set to simmer until vegetables are just tender. Serve with warm rolls slathered with herb butter.

*The ginger, fish sauce and rice wine vinegar are new to this recipe because the original plan was to make pho. It's not enough to give a distinctive Asian flavor but turned out so good that I've decided to keep them.

ETA: The soup was a hit! We all had seconds and there's enough for lunch tomorrow. Thanks so much for reading and take care.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Chocolate Chip Gingerbread Cookies

My family isn't terribly keen on sweets to the point where I sometimes wonder if they're even mine.
Since there isn't much point in making cakes, pies and cookies for one I usually wait until I have friends come over for tea and go all out, or I just make something and resign myself to eating the majority of it and avoiding the mirror for a while.
I have finally discovered a cookie that we all enjoy though. a spicy delicious morsel that is beyond easy to make thanks to a box mix. I came up with the addition of the candied ginger and the daughter thought of the addition of chocolate chips.
I hope you give them a try and enjoy them as much as we do. Once you make gingerbread cookies with the candied ginger you will never go back to plain store bought again. It makes all the difference in the world as far as the flavor factor.

Chocolate Chip Gingerbread Cookies

1 box gingerbread cookie/cake mix (I use Betty Crocker) and the ingredients called for in the cookie recipe on the back of the box.
1/2 of a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 oz candied ginger finely chopped (you can get candied ginger at an amazing price at any Asian market)
1/4 cup sugar

Pour the gingerbread mix into a bowl, add the chocolate chips and ginger and mix. Then add the ingredients called for on the back of the box for cookies. Using a small (2 tablespoon) ice cream scoop form dough into balls and roll in sugar before placing on the cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with the bottom of a glass and bake as directed.

Makes about 2 dozen

Off subject: I just want to point out the beautiful tea set in my picture. I inherited several cups/saucers and plates from a dear friend when she passed away. They usually sit unused on a shelf but I thought this would be a lovely way to show one of the patterns off. Hopefully as I do more baking for the holidays you'll see more of them.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Stove Top Chicken Enchiladas

I had a craving for chicken enchiladas this week, but since I was working 12 hour shifts and coming home exhausted I didn't want to do my usual oven baked version.
I needed to come up with something quick and easy. Cafe Rio's burritos were my inspiration and this was the result. Since I was told to make these over my oven version from now on, I think they were a hit. So much so that the were pretty much gone before I could get pictures.
As usual, I made a big batch so we could have leftovers but it's basic so super easy to pare down.

1 economy pack of chicken breasts
2 medium onions chopped small
3 large cans green enchilada sauce
2 cans chopped chilies
2 cans black beans,rinsed
3 cups instant rice
3 cups water
Mexican seasoning
Large flour tortillas
grated cheese (mexican blend)

Heat a large, deep pan with a little oil. Sprinkle mexican seasoning on both sides of the chicken brown both sides and cook until almost cooked through. Take the chicken out and add onions, saute until almost tender then add three cans of enchilada sauce and two cans chopped chilies. Set to simmer.
Meanwhile, finely chop the chicken and return to pan with sauce and let cook at a simmer while the rice is being prepared.
(If you want plain sauce for serving enchilada style, set some aside before adding the chicken. We just used the sauce with chicken for simplicity sake.)

For Rice
Follow basic instructions for instant rice with the following exceptions.
Bring water to boil add 2 tablespoons mexican seasoning, 2 cans black beans and the instant rice, stir to combine, cover with lid and remove from heat.

To make enchiladas, take a large flour tortilla and add rice and beans, with a slotted spoon (so you don't get too much liquid) add chicken mixture. Roll enchilada and top with sauce. Sprinkle with cheese and serve.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Tried & True Chicken & Beef Stock

Everyone has their own way of making stock. Mine is pretty much the same for Beef & Chicken and while you can use this same day, it’s actually easier/healthier if you make it a two day process. You'll see why as you read on.
I didn't include clarifying the stock as part of the process because I never do it. I just use a fairly fine strainer to separate the solids from the liquid and call it good.

First off let me say don’t panic! I know the process looks like you'll get a ton of fat but you will be skimming it off so don’t worry about it during the cooking process**

For Beef Broth:
-You’ll need a combination to equal 3-4 lbs of any boney meat such as Ox Tails or short ribs and bone in beef shank.
Notes: This is all about the broth but if you’re looking to use the meat for a specific purpose be aware that beef shank is very fatty and once you get rid of the fat you've not a lot of meat left to use in a soup or other recipe. I’d use the broth meat in conjunction with a nicely browned stew meat if that is your intention.
You could use a leaner cut of meat initially but the fat and the bone imparts an excellent flavor to the broth and since that is the main purpose of this recipe just go with it.
I always use bone in meat for broth because when you simmer bones in liquid, the collagen in the bones and connective tissue turns to gelatin. This provides a richer mouth-feel and thicker texture.

Roughly chop the following:
-Two large onions
-1 bunch of celery
-1-2lbs carrots
-3 or more large cloves garlic sliced
-Fresh ground pepper
-Red pepper flakes
-Kosher salt

Cut the beef shank into fist size pieces. In a large frying pan heat a small amount of oil and brown your meat well on all sides (I usually bring it to just short of starting to burn). Remove from the pan and put in your stock pot. Deglaze the pan with a cup or two of hearty red wine and add the liquid to your stock pot
Toss the rest of the ingredients into the stock pot, add water to cover all the ingredients, cover the pot and simmer on the lowest heat possible for 4 hours adding water occasionally to keep ingredients covered.
Remove from heat. Stain all solids and separate the meat from the bones and veggies (both of which can be a healthy and most welcome treat for dogs). Trim off any remaining fat and gristle and set aside for later use.
*At this point you can try and skim the liquid fat off the broth and use it immediately, however, it is much easier if you refrigerate it for at least 4 hours to overnight. This will cause the fat to solidify and you can easily pull it off.
This is also where you will notice the effects of cooking with bone in meats. When you take it out of the fridge don't be surprised if the broth is more of a solid than a liquid from the natural occuring gelatin.

For Chicken Broth:

-1 whole chicken.
Notes: You can use a raw chicken or you can roast a couple, use one for your broth and break the other down and freeze for later use. If you had chicken for Sunday dinner you can save the carcass and use it as well, I love the store rotisserie chickens for this. And yes, I always leave the skin on because it imparts flavor and I skim the fat off anyway.
-1-2 cups dry white wine
Notes: If you roasted your own chicken, use this to deglaze the pan and add the liquid to your stock.
Roughly chop the following:
-Two large onions
-1 bunch of celery
-1-2lbs carrots
-3 or more large cloves garlic sliced
-1-2 whole lemons sliced
-Fresh ground pepper
-Red pepper flakes
- Freshly ground nutmeg
-Kosher salt

Place all the ingredients into the stock pot, add water to cover, cover the pot and simmer on the lowest heat possible for 4 hours adding water occasionally to keep ingredients covered.
Remove from heat. Stain all solids.
*At this point you can try and skim the liquid fat off the broth and use it immediately, however, it is much easier and you get more fat off if you refrigerate it for at least 4 hours to overnight. This will cause the fat to solidify and you can easily pull it off.
Separate the meat from the bones and veggies (the veggies are a healthy and most welcome treat for our dogs *Do not give dogs chicken bones*) and reserve for later use.

Monday, September 27, 2010


I recently made Borscht. It was the first time in forever, like over 8 years ago forever and it was so well received this time around by friends and family that I'm wondering what took me so long.
My friend who lived in Russia for some time says that this is a German Borscht, the Russians and Romanians don't add beets. I am a huge fan of beets, my favorite way to eat them is with a splash of lemon juice. I love the earthy aroma that fills the house when they're simmering. It's like nothing else.
I know that borscht can be eaten cold, but our house prefers it hot with the play of cold sour cream.
Like most of my cooking, I tend to make a lot but the recipe can easily be parred down. Honestly though, since it's a two day process I'd make a lot and freeze some for no brainer meals down the road.

What you'll need for the Borscht
A really big stew pot or two medium ones
8 cans beef broth
1 to 1 1/2 quarts water
3-4 lbs bone in beef shank Why so much you ask? Because it's a very fatty and once you get rid of the fat you've not a lot of meat left. Yes you could use a leaner cut but the fat and the bone imparts an excellent flavor so just go with it.
3 medium onions finely chopped
3 cups of cooked beets chopped
2 lbs carrots (I use baby carrots for simplicity sake)
4 lbs red potatoes cut to about 1 inch bites
1 small head cabbage shredded
1 cup Red wine
1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
Fresh Dill (the little container you get at the store) chopped with some sprigs reserved (optional)
Beef bullion cube (optional)
Salt & pepper
Sour Cream

First things first, sear the meat in a frying pan making sure the outer surface is nicely carmelized and brown. Remove the meat to your stew pot and deglaze the frying pan with the red wine (you can use the beef broth but I highly recommend the wine), once that is done pour the wine into the stew pot along with 4 cans of the beef broth. Set this to simmer as low as possible for about 4-6 hours. This will make sure your meat is amazingly tender and flavorful. Once it's simmered, remove all the meat from the stock, cover both and set to refrigerate overnight.
The next day take your meat and trim off all of the fat and gristle and chop into about inch size bites. Next skim off all the fat from the stock and don't be surprised if the stock is gelatinous, this is a good thing.
Place the stock back on the stove at medium heat, add the remaining four cans of broth about half the water, the meat, carrots, onions, and potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and let cook until the root vegetables are almost but not quite done. Add the beets, cabbage, the red wine vinegar and about 1/2 of the dill, we want to error on the side of caution, we want to taste the dill but we don't want our borscht to taste like a dill pickle, we can add more later if we like.
Now, your broth should be hearty but not terribly thick and there should be plenty of it so add enough water to cover your solids with about an inch of broth, from there refine the salt and pepper add a bullion cube if needed and let simmer until the cabbage is almost tender (don't let it get mushy, that's just gross!)
Your borscht is done!
Dish it up, add a dollop of sour cream and garnish with dill if desired. Serve with a nice rustic bread for a wonderfully hearty and delicious meal.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

This soup has become a a cool weather staple in our house, making an appearance at Thanksgiving and Yule dinner as well as at regular meals. The flavors meld and mellow making it just as good if not better the next day around so make extra.
It's also great for potlucks since you can just as easily let all the ingredients cook on low in a slow cooker over the course of the day. It's also super easy to vegitarian/veganize if you're diet is a meatless one. I include both options, I hope you enjoy this soup as much as we do.

1 large butternut squash
1 very large onion
2-3 large cloves garlic
fresh ginger root
Nutmeg berry
Chicken stock or (V) veggie stock
Optional: two roasted red peppers
Cream or cream substitute

Take the large butternut squash and cut it into quarters, scoop out the seeds and brush the skin and flesh with olive oil. Roast the squash (we use the grill, but the oven works too) until the skin is blistered and black and the flesh is almost cooked through. Let them sit until they're cool enough to handle then peel off the skin and any parts that are too charred. If you're adding the red peppers do the same with them. (Taking them off the grill and putting them into a seal-able plastic bag for a few minutes seems to help the skin separate from the flesh making it easier to remove.)
Meanwhile, heat a stew pot with a glug of olive oil and add one large chopped onion, 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced, a tablespoon of fresh, finely grated ginger, a teaspoon of fresh ground nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Add the squash and two cans of chicken/veggi broth then let simmer at a bare bubble until everything is pretty much falling apart.

Here you have two options, you can use an hand blender for a semi-chunky soup... or my personal favorite is to process small batches in the blender for a wonderfully smooth puree. (If it seems too thick, I'll add another can of stock.)
Garnish with the cream or substitute (either soy milk to Tofutti sour supreme would have the right consistency for garnishing as shown in the pic) and cilantro, serve and enjoy!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bacon and Potato Quiche

Much like scrambled eggs with bacon and toast, quiche is a popular breakfast food in our house. It was brought into our culinary orbit by our dear friend Rosemary and has been a staple ever since.
She used the tried and true recipe from the Betty Crocker cookbook as her starting point but like all good cooks branched out in other flavors with a play of ingredients.
For my daughter, it isn't edible unless bacon and potatoes are involved, When she was younger not much else could be involved although as she gets older she has learned to appreciate my now not so subtle inclusion of onions and peppers.
I used to use Betty as my starting point but with so many under my belt it's just as easy to make them off the top of my head which is what I did with this one. The measurements are approximations since no utensils were used. Keep in mind, this is enough for two quiche...quiches? I'm not quite sure on the plural.
Crisp about 6 strips of bacon, drain and let cool then finely chop.
Finely chop 1 large onion, 1 small red pepper, 1 small yellow pepper and *optional* 1 medium green tomato
Also finely mince about 2 tablespoons of fresh chives
Mix these ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.

In another bowl crack 6 medium eggs (or 4 large)
Add a scant 1 cup of heavy cream and a scant 1 cup of half & half. *Note, this quiche has a firm custard like consistency.
add a pinch each of dried basil, thyme and garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste.
Beat mixture until ingredients are incorporated.

Line a tart pan with a rolled out pie crust and cover the bottom with the bacon mixture some frozen hash browns and shredded cheese of your choice. Pour egg mixture over that and sprinkle top with more bacon mixture.
Bake at 400 for the first 15 minutes then reduce heat to 350 and bake for another 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Let cool completely and serve at room temp or chilled.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Berry Chicken Salad

This is one of my favorite summer meals. Light, cool, easy to prepare and high on the yum factor.

Bag of greens: I prefer the kind that has herbs and veggies mixed in.
Chopped grilled chicken: This chicken I grilled the night before, all I did was toss it with lemon pepper prior to cooking.
Dried Cranberries
Fresh Strawberries (and blueberries if you have them)
Mix and drizzle with your favorite raspberry vinaigrette.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Raspberry Tart

For Fathers Day dessert we had the most amazing fruit tart that I've ever tasted and since then I have been craving more. None of the markets close to me carry anything close to a fruit tart though. Makes me quite sad.
Saturday we had to make a rather sudden and rushed trip downtown and it took us past this place.
And they had these!
It's a a custard creme tart with raspberries and pistachios. Isn't it lovely! It wasn't quite what I was looking for but it was good. The raspberries were huge and oh so sweet.
I think they used regular pie crust dough instead of a pate brisee because it was rather tough but my overall impression was quite good.
Me being me, I'm loving the adorable container they put it in as well. Doesn't it look like a delicious flower?
They made a drool worthy iced chai too. I can't wait to go back and sample some of their other creations as well.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hurrah for Baba Ghanoush!

Well here it is folks. My first but not last attempt at Baba ghanoush. It is delish. Very creamy and garlic-y.
I was doing a little online investigation and found that it's good for me too. Eggplant is good for the brain, is a good source of antioxidants and fiber, is low in calories and lowers cholesterol.
So sign me up for the bandwagon, I'm on it for the long haul.
The recipe is easy as pie, I found out what the common ingredients were and just tossed them into the blender. The hardest part was waiting for the eggplant to grill.

Three eggplants. Oil the exterior and place on the grill. After 15 minutes turn a 1/4 turn, and again after another 15 minutes then twice more after 10 minutes each remaining side. Remove from grill and place in zip lock bag or a bowl covered with plastic wrap. Let sit for 20 minutes then peel. Place flesh in colander and let drain but reserve the liquid.
In a blender put three large cloves of garlic, more if you like but remember you can always add more but can't take away, salt, pepper, the juice of three to four limes or lemons (more or less to taste) a spoonful or so of tahini (sesame seed) paste (it has a distinct flavor profile so start with less) and a healthy drizzle of olive oil. Add the eggplant and puree until smooth adding the reserved liquid as needed to get a creamy consistency.
This is best if you let it sit overnight in the fridge but half of it didn't make it that far. We sprinkled it with some paprika and a healthy sift of finely chopped cilantro, drizzled with olive oil and devoured as if we hadn't eaten all day.
It's usually served with pita wedges but since we didn't have any in the house, we used tortilla chips.
Very yummy.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Baba Ghanou-what?

Beloved boyfriend and I ran to the store for a couple of items tonight. Root beer, lime chips, plain yogurt and cilantro to be exact. Needless to say that's not all we walked out with.
One of the extras were three purple eggplants. Tomorrow they are going onto the grill so I can make baba ghanoush.
I've never made it before so we'll just have to see how I do. Since I've never made it before I've been looking at recipes for it and they all look very simple. Eggplant, tahini, garlic and lemon juice, can't really get much easier than that. I'm going to make mine with lime juice since I didn't get lemons.
So wish me luck, if it turns out ok I'll share. :)


Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Bowl of Comfort

My favorite comfort food is called Tom Kha Kai or in English, Thai chicken-coconut soup.

It's quite delicious and I highly recommend it. I was in the mood for it on a hot summer night, but it's perfect for chill fall/winter nights when you need a bit of comfort in a bowl.

Tom Kha Kai
3 Cans chicken or veggie broth
1 can coconut milk
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh ginger (must be fresh) I also like to finely grate it in.
1 medium onion chopped
1-2 large carrots coin sliced
1-2 chicken breasts thinly sliced* (slightly freezing them first will help the slicing go faster and be thinner.)
1 can baby corn
1/4 can straw mushrooms chopped
Juice of 2-3 limes
2-3 tbls brown sugar
1 tbls fish sauce
2 tsp chili paste (sambal)
2-3 kefir lime leaves torn into 1/4 (this really makes the dish so don't try and do without. They're available in any Asian market.)
2 plum tomatoes chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Sliced Serrano chili*
Sticky rice*

Combine broth, coconut milk and ginger in a large sauce pan, add onion and carrots and gradually increase the heat to boil stirring frequently. When the carrots begin getting tender add all the remaining ingredients but the tomato, cilantro, Serrano and and rice. Heat until chicken is cooked through. To serve pour over sticky rice and garnish with the tomato, cilantro and Serrano.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Food for Thought

I believe my first experiences in the kitchen involved pie dough cookies and bread.
My mother was born on a self sustaining farm at the beginning of the depression and pies, usually apple made from the fruit of numerous trees dotting the yard were a staple. In fact, pie for breakfast was more common than not.
This carried through my mothers childhood into mine where she would take a day to fill every pie pan we had with sweetness. My brother and dad preferred apple and my favorite was cherry, but there were also apricot and peach pies as well as pear and numerous other combinations of the above. Most of the fruit came from our own orchard when in season. From bottles of preserves that mom put up when not and very rarely from a can from the store.
The crust was always from scratch, flour, oil, salt...I don't recall the rest of the ingredients, I recall it tasting rather bland and almost chalky when I'd sample it uncooked, but it underwent a magical transformation with the addition of cinnamon sugar and the bubbling syrup of cooking fruit.
As mom trimmed the edges off the crusts she would push the scraps over to my brother and I. We would lay them out on a cooking sheet and with her supervision we would brush them with milk then sprinkle them with the cinnamon sugar. They would then go into the oven toward the end of the pie's baking time and emerge all glittering and golden. They were a wonderful treat and never lasted long, I think usually they didn't even get all the way cooled down.

Bread was also made from scratch. I remember mom proofing the dough in a large steel bowl that at the time seemed large enough for me to bathe in.
As she stood and punched the dough, kneading and shaping it I remember her pinching off little balls for me to work as well although more often than not I'd eat most of it. The sweet white bread was always my favorite but the nutty, earthy taste of whole wheat was also good. There was something so comforting in the smell of yeast, and of course the smell of loaf after delicious loaf of fresh baked bread. The first one out hardly had time to be turned out of it's pan before we'd sliced it and slathered it, still steaming with butter that would instantly melt and soak through creating little golden rivers down our hands and arms if we weren't quick enough to catch them with our tongues.

I doubt there is a person out in the world that doesn't have an emotional attachment to food in some way. It is such an intrinsic part of our lives from birth to death.
Most people I talk to have memories of their first cooking experience. Some good, others...not so good.

For me, the essence of food is in the way it make you feel, the memories that it can conjur, the aroma, the texture and of course, the flavor. I want to share with you this little corner of my life. To share my love of creme brulee as I encounter the first sweet crunch of the sugar, the decadent bliss of the cream as it melts over my tongue allowing the vanilla infusion to permeate my senses as well as the fire in my favorite Thai dishes that makes my eyes water and my nose run as I savor the citrus tang of lime leaves and the fresh green flavor of cilantro.
I hope you enjoy this journey as I re-visit old favorites and create new ones. Here is to life well eaten.