Sunday breakfast

I cut out a recipe from the Wall Street Journal on Saturday and modified it for breakfast this morning. Essentially, you soft boil eggs and cool some eggs, fry sourdough bread lightly in olive oil, sear some asparagus in the oil and lay it on the toast. Cover with burrata or ricotta mixed with herbs, lemon zest and salt. Open the egg on top:


I had to take a picture. Then I had to eat!

New, not necessarily better

I read the Wednesday food section of the NY Times and occasionally try one of the recipes. This week, I tried a recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi for moussaka. I’ve been making moussaka for years based on a recipe by Craig Clairborn from the old NY Times Cookbook. That recipe calls for slicing and salting the eggplant and setting it in a strainer to drain for 15 minutes or so, which reduces the liquid in the eggplant and takes away the bitterness.

Then you fry the eggplant slices in olive oil first before adding them to a casserole with a ground lamb tomato sauce and covering with a bechamel that includes fresh ricotta. It’s delicious, reliable, and a bit fiddly to make.

I decided to try the new recipe because it was much simpler: cube the eggplant, add the lamb, onions, tomato, etc. to a pot and roast together, then top with a mix of yoghurt, cheese and egg yolk.

But I’m always wary when they leave out one of the ingredients in the prep instructions–in this case, they left the garlic out of the big roasting mix. Also, on tasting, I had to add a little honey to offset the bitterness the salting hadn’t taken care of.

The resulting moussaka wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t nearly as good as Craig Clairborn’s recipe, and really not that much easier. So here is a link to the old standby if you’re feeling like some moussaka.

Egon Schiele

In New York I went to see an exhibit of drawings by Picasso, Klimt, and Schiele. Schiele, who died at 28, saw Klimt as a mentor, but took his erotic drawing further, I think. These certainly seemed like the best of the show to me. I wonder what it is that makes a line on paper come to life?

Continue reading “Egon Schiele”

Desultory Saturday

A friend asked that I post more recipes, and this morning I made one of my basic breakfast variations–so delicious.

You may not be able to go out and pick greens from your garden, but any greens will do. In my case I picked baby broccolini and my only two asparagus stalks, sautéed onions and garlic, added herbs, and fried an egg on top with a little cheddar cheese. For crunch I used a little leftover brown rice. To get the egg to set before the vegetables burn, I just cover the pan for a minute or two. Continue reading “Desultory Saturday”

Monday poem

I rarely do two poems by the same poet in a row, but I came across this poem from James Galvin’s latest book and really like it.

Wildlife Management I

All the trees kept their own counsel without any wind to speak of,
until one lone limber pine began gesticulating wildly, as if it
suffered from its own inner cyclone.
                                                                  It was like a lunatic in the
courtroom of other trees.
                                              We forgot about the sunset and the dark
coming on across the plain.
                                                   Then the reason appeared: a mother
antelope had twin newborns backed into the tree and fended off a
pair of coyotes who darted in and feinted out, knowing she
couldn’t defend them both.
                                                  The girl I was with shrieked, “Do
something!”
                         I thought of the rifle back at the house.
                                                                                                I thought of a
litter of coyote whelps in a den somewhere nearby.
                                                                                                I thought of the
three-hundred-yard sprint to the tree.
                                                                     The mother antelope would
be first to bolt, and those coyotes would have the aplomb to make
off with both twins.
                                    I said no.
                                                     The antelope struck out with her
forelegs, she butted the coyotes back, until one of them got the
chance they had orchestrated and caught a twin and trotted off,
dangling it by the nape as gently as if it were her own.
James Galvin, from Everything we Know Is True

A late summer recipe

IMG_2949Looking at a row of jars of freshly made jam is a summer pleasure. Especially when the jam is such a lovely golden color. Each year, with pears from my friend’s tree, I make this simple and delicious recipe. The whole thing can be made in a food processor. The citrus cuts the sugar, and the ginger adds spice. Don’t stir much, and don’t overcook, the jam is done just as the pears turn translucent.

IMG_2951Mother’s Ginger Pear

4 lbs pears
1 1/2 oranges
1 small lemon
1 2/3 lb sugar
1/4 lb ginger
2 cinnamon sticks

Continue reading “A late summer recipe”

Summer recipe

Optimized-2016-07-12 18.35.54This recipe makes a soup that is like a bowlful of summer.

I adapted it from one of my favorite cookbooks, Annie Somerville’s Field of Greens. She has you make a vegetarian stock with the corn cobs (adding a potato, some celery, garlic, salt and parsley), which I do if I’m having vegetarians for dinner. But I just cook the corn cobs in a light chicken broth if I’m making it for omnivores, and it works fine. Also, she runs the soup through a food mill. I’ve never had the patience to do that, and it tastes great without. But if you want a satin smooth base, you can do that.

This recipe makes enough for about eight people. It’s yummy and keeps well. But you can easily halve it and have plenty for four. It takes about an hour from start to finish, about half of it “active time” as they say in the world of cookbooks.

Summer Corn and Red Pepper Soup

5 C light chicken stock or water (see below)
1 1/2 T unsalted butter
1 T olive oil
12 medium or 10 large ears of corn (to make 7 Cups of kernels)
2 large or 3 medium red peppers (about 2 1/2 cups, chopped)
1 giant leek or a big white or onion (about 2 cups chopped)
4 large or 8 small garlic cloves
Salt and cayenne or other pepper, toasted ground cumin, green pepper powder
fresh basil Continue reading “Summer recipe”

Two quick chicken recipes

Optimized-2016-01-20 18.26.38Once in awhile, it seems like I take whatever is in the fridge and create something tasty. The other night it was leftover rice, a few chicken thighs, some butternut squash, mushrooms, onions, fennel, and green beans. I sautéed the onions and fennel with a little garlic and some spices, added the mushrooms and then set them aside and browned the chicken in the same pan. I layered a pan with the sautéed vegetables and rice, put the chicken and chunks of squash on top and added a bit of chicken stock. I baked them for about twenty-five minutes. While they were baking I lightly sautéed the green beans in the same sauce pan, and then sprinkled them on top. A yummy dinner in less than an hour. Worth saving the idea to make again. Continue reading “Two quick chicken recipes”

Best Beans

2015.11.06.11.32.23Instead of a vision of sugarplums, how about a simple, inexpensive and wonderful meal that lasts for days. I set myself the challenge of making a pot of vegetarian beans that taste as good as ones cooked with a ham hock.

First I made a rich vegetable stock: two whole ears of corn (chopped), turnip, rutabaga, golden beet, red pepper, carrot, onion, celery, herbs, simmered about two hours and strained. I rinsed the beans (I used black beans), brought them to a boil, and drained them. (Someone told me this reduces their gas-producing quality.) Then I cooked the beans in the stock with chopped early girl tomatoes, shallots, onions, garlic, and a chipotle pepper for about 40 minutes in the pressure cooker. After they were soft, I added cumin, chiles, cilantro, lime, salt.

These may be the most flavorful beans I ever made. We ate them with rice and chile verde, with eggs, and by themselves.  Yum!

 

Thinking about stock

Yesterday, as I made stock out of my two newly butchered hens, I decided to read about stock in Serious Eats. My stock method is mostly just throw whatever scraps I have into the pot and simmer for hours. But these were special chickens–gorgeous, rich meat and fat–and I wanted to do right by them.

2015.08.15.09.48.36I’d tried J. Kenji López-Alt’s method of chopping chicken into tiny bits, but it made a total charnal house of my kitchen, so I wanted to explore what else they suggested. Daniel Gritzner had a comprehensive article, and the comments about using a pressure cooker or bringing the stock to a boil then setting it in a 225 degree oven overnight interested me. I’m also going to try adding an apple with the onions, carrots, etc. The most interesting idea to me was to use one stock as a base to make another stock, layering and enriching the flavor. I’m definitely going to try that. Continue reading “Thinking about stock”

Summer food

Tomatoes and corn, sweet onions, greens, soft cheeses. That’s what I’m eating these days. Here’s a typical menu:

Polenta with fresh corn kernels
Tomato sauce
Grilled fish or pulled pork
Greek salad

FullSizeRender (1)I make the tomato sauce and polenta, then serve them like this with, some protein in the middle (or not). See below for a peek at a wonderful gadget I use that stirs the polenta for me while I’m doing other things.

Here are some recipes:

Simplest tomato sauce: Sauté an onion, a little garlic, chopped fresh basil in olive oil. Chop about a dozen of the ripest, best tomatoes around. Add them in. If you want, puree a few more, and add those. More basil, salt, oregano. Simmer.

Meanwhile, make a little polenta with 4 parts milk, one part water. (4 cups liquid to a little less than 1 cup of polenta.) Stir to avoid lumps. Add a few tablespoons butter and kernels from an ear or two of corn. You can add a little cheese if you like it cheesy. Cook till creamy.

Serve sauce over polenta. You can add anything you might want for protein in the middle of the sauce.

Greek salad: peel and chop a cucumber into chunks, add chunked tomato, sliced red onion, some crumbled feta.  Sprinkle with fresh oregano, salt pepper, olive oil and red wine vinegar.