Archive for ‘Music’

July 12, 2012

The Teaches of Peaches | Herb Nectars

We just got back from vacation in Georgia. It’s such a great state with so many people committed to delicious food fresh off the farm.  My kind of place, really.  And to be honest, they make some mean fried chicken.

While I was there I couldn’t help but do some canning of some fresh Georgia peaches.  I basically followed this method for canning the teeny ten pounds I had into four quart jars.  In some of the jarred peaches I packed in some fresh basil,

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June 27, 2012

Good on Everything | Ajvar

This is something I will be making repeatedly throughout the summer.

Roasted red bell peppers and eggplant, finely chopped, along with copious amounts of garlic and a bit of olive oil and salt.  I was quite astonished to find the depth of flavor in something that truly only had four ingredients.  Roasting is certainly what certainly makes it so good.  And the thing is, with a gas stove (or this summer the grill, which is in near constant use) roasting takes almost no time.  Five to seven minutes or so straight on the burner over the heat, turning every so often to completely blacken the outsides.  Put in a covered container to steam and cool for 10 minutes, the skins on the peppers slide off like a silk dress.

This is sexy stuff.

I want it on steaks, on fish.  On these balkan burgers.  On regular burgers.  In my eggs.

In this recipe, I included a bit of roasted eggplant (at which Balkan traditionalists would have been shocked and horrified) but I found it gave a gorgeous texture.

For some background: ajvar is typically made in Serbia in the fall, where in small towns its process requires just about everybody who lives there to pitch in and help.  The peppers are roasted, peeled and deseeded.  Everything is pureed and put up in jars for the winter.  Only here, I can’t wait that long: I ate spoons of it out of the dish while we were waiting for company to arrive.  They were lucky they got here when they did.  I would have eaten it all.

Lovely stuff.

Make some.

Ajvar

2 red bell peppers, blackened over a grill or stove, skin, stem and seeds removed, chopped

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June 4, 2012

Two Light and Easy Nights | Summer Miso Soup

This past weekend the most recent Top Chef winner Paul Qui was in town at Market District to do a demo and answer questions.  Honestly, I don’t think there has been a nicer, more unassuming winner of that crazy show.   He’s just such a humble, talented guy.  His dishes were lovely light versions of chicken rice (his with lots and lots of a lemony ponzu) and a summer miso soup.  Things, he says, are his comfort foods.  I can completely see why.

His cooking got me thinking about dishes I had made in the past but could bring together for the perfect, almost no effort summer dinner.  Granted, you’ll have Asian food a couple of days in a row, but I don’t think that ever hurt anyone.  Plus, this is the time of year that you can gather just about everything locally, aside from the kombu, katsuobushi and a couple of pantry items.

But perhaps the thing that makes me happiest about this kind of dinner is that since everybody gets to choose what to include in their bowls, it’s lots of fun for Cherub.  She amazed even me tonight by her choice of tofu, zucchini, carrots, green onion, bean sprouts and snap peas.  But she passed on the fresh sweet corn.  (What kid does that?)  And she even had seconds.

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May 26, 2012

Luxury | Copper River Gravlax

I’d been following the FB posts of Dorothy Lane Market and tracking when the Copper River salmon was coming in.  It was the king that was in the store Friday.  Its brief season is only May and June.  But it is so very, very worth making every effort to find and indulge in it the fleeting moments you can catch it.

This year, I did something I almost can’t believe I did with the costly pound I purchased.

I made gravlax.

Making true gravlax requires no smoking.  It is, in essence, the purest Scandinavian method of preserving fish.

Only the best salmon, lovely coarse sea salt, pounded peppercorns, sugar, a handful of backyard dill.  Wrapped tightly in clingfilm and flipped twice a day for two days.

The dry salt-sugar coat results in the fish giving up all its water content and producing a oceany brine that the fish luxuriates in for the duration of its cure.

Once removed from its bath, it is finely shaved and mounded on potatoes, or garden baby greens for the most precious of all culinary experiences.

But the most important aspect of all of this?  You can do it.  You don’t need any special equipment or know how.  Make it and enjoy it.  While it lasts.

Copper River Gravlax, made using the instructions from Rick Stein in Complete Seafood.  If you don’t have this book, I don’t know what else to tell you except that you have to get it.  You have to.

One pound Copper River King Salmon

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May 25, 2012

Simple Summer Snack | Strawberry Lemon Balm Paletas

There’s only so much jam you can make.  Sometimes, you just need to start eating those 16 or 17 pounds of strawberries you picked.  And maybe you need to enlist the kids, too.  Enter the world’s simplest way to do that: popsicles.

I, of course, can’t just let strawberries be strawberries.  Besides, Cherub loves too much to graze through the herbs in the garden, and she’s going to be eating the bulk of these paletas anyway.

For this first batch, I made a quick mix of strawberries and sugar, boiled it for five minutes and then just ever so slightly pulsed them in a blender for a half a second.  Then I added in a finely chopped bit of fresh lemon balm (but what’s your favorite? mint? lavender? coriander?), poured into molds and froze.

Voila!  The world’s most refreshing snack.  And a great breakfast if you’re feeling generous.  And it’s especially hot.

Paletas de Fresa y Melisa (Strawberry and Lemon Balm Popsicles), inspired by the post at The Parsley Thief.

1 qt strawberries, tops removed and quartered

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May 21, 2012

Unexpected Savory | Cumin Granola

Sometimes texture can be just as important to a dish as flavor. It’s harder to enjoy something that’s just a bowl of mush.  Ok, aside from perhaps enjoying a whole dinner of say, mashed potatoes with copious amounts of butter or oodles of macaroni and cheese.  I have those days, too.  But sometimes there are some things that need a little crunch.

Enter this delicious and surprising garnish for a ho-hum dinner in need of some oomph.  Consider moderating the spices based on your dish.  I think a curry granola or a chile scented granola would be equally tasty.  And if you’re local to Columbus, stop by North Market Spices to pick up one of their many spice blends (which are amazing) to use.

Savory Cumin Granola

1 c rolled oats

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May 20, 2012

Precious Little | Strawberry Peony Jam

It’s the time of year that it’s hard to pin me down.  I’m outside.  Busy in the backyard, planting, weeding, sitting, contemplating.  I just want to be outside.  Watching for the return of Chestnut.  Seeing if we have any new baby rabbits in the yard.  I just find so much peace there, that you’re hard pressed to get a post out of me.  I have better things to do.

Because of this I was there, in the backyard, when the peonies bloomed this year.  They are my absolute favorite flower: profuse, heavy blooms; heady fragrance.  I turned the confetti of abundant petals into syrup.  I did this last year, but not as adroitly.

Marry to this that I went strawberry picking with friends last week.  And 17 pounds picked meant there was certain to be some jamming.  Did there happen to be some master pastry chefs along?  Why yes, there were.  (Thanks, B.)  So I asked them how to incorporate my peony syrup into the jam that was sure to follow all that picking.   Add the syrup at the last minute, they said, to keep all the flower essence.   But of course.

Ten cups of strawberries

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