apricot clafoutis

August 13, 2015 § 66 Comments

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There are three very temperamental wild apricot trees down the street and during the six years we have lived here in the Cottage Grove neighborhood of West Seattle they have only produced two seasons of soft juicy fragrant apricots. Nobody takes care of these trees and it is difficult to tell whose property they are on.  For all one knows maybe this is the reason for their oversensitive nature. Perhaps it is up to me to give them a little affection and show my appreciation for the fruit they unselfishly bear for no one other than a passer-by who happens to notice.

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If you happen to come across six juicy ripe apricots here is a wonderfully easy dessert you can put together for your family or guests. You may dust the clafoutis with powdered sugar if you like.  We prefer ours without.  And it is delightful served warm with a ball of vanilla bean ice cream on the side.

Recipe adapted from William-Sonoma recipe catalog.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 apricots, pitted and halved
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

M e  t h o d

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Add 2 tablespoons of butter to your baking dish and place  in the oven for a couple of minutes, until the butter is hot and bubbly. Arrange the apricots in an even layer in the bottom of the dish.  In a blender, process the eggs, milk, sugar, lemon zest, vanilla, salt and flour until smooth. Pour the batter over the apricots.  Bake until the clafoutis is puffed and golden brown, about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly on a wire rack.

cauliflower soup with roasted parsnips & chives

June 26, 2015 § 65 Comments

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We sat down to an autumn dinner in the spring!  I love a delicious soup any time of the year and having a head of cauliflower and three large parsnips in the refrigerator for the past two weeks was all the influence needed to put this soup together. And of course for my friends living in the Southern Hemisphere, timing for this soup may be just right.

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While the parsnips were roasting in a hot oven with melted butter and a little brown sugar, the cauliflower was simmering on the stove in vegetable stock. Rather than roast the cauliflower I prefer to simmer the cauli-florets in broth with finely diced shallots.  The pungent cruciferous flavor mellows in the broth and the shallots add lovely flavor.

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After the cauliflower is tender, roughly blend into a delicious soup and top with caramelized parsnips and chives.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1 cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 2 large shallots, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • sea salt & pepper
  • 2 large parsnips, peeled and cut into rounds
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar
  • fresh chives for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  In a large dutch oven heat the olive oil on medium heat.  Add the shallots and cook until aromatic.  Add the cauliflower and push it around the pot to coat with oil/shallots.   Add the stock and turn up the heat to high.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium.  Continue a slow boil until cauliflower is tender.

In the meantime, melt the butter and stir in the brown sugar.  Add the parsnips and butter/sugar mix into a bowl and toss to coat well.  Place onto a roasting pan, cover with foil and roast in the oven for 2o minutes.  Remove foil, stir and place back in the oven for 20 minutes until brown and caramelized.

When cauliflower is tender and ready,  whizz with a hand blender until desired consistency is met.  Season with salt and pepper and serve with caramelized parsnips and snippets of fresh chives on top.

beet, goat’s cheese & walnut pie

June 12, 2015 § 71 Comments

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We’ve been in a constant state of remodel here at the tiny white cottage.  So much so that I have been without a kitchen table for the past five months.  Since then all of my photo’s for this humble little blog have been taken on a cutting board on my counter top.  I could have lost steam and inspiration for lack of space (and light for that matter) but for some reason I have been chugging along like the ‘little engine that could’.  I certainly haven’t lost enthusiasm for cooking dinner for the guys and some of my best meals have transpired in this construction zone. Like for instance, this beet, goat’s cheese & walnut tart.

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It doesn’t take a kitchen table to bring us together for a nice meal in the evening.  We are happy to sit down on stools or chairs or even hop up on the kitchen counter with a plate and fork in hand. It’s such a valuable time of day, and to be able to take three lovely organic beets with the greens attached and create a delicious tart such as this calls for a moment to sit and sigh in relief that all is well and wonderful.

I stumbled upon this recipe a couple of weeks ago on Epicurious and couldn’t get to the market quick enough to pick up beets and goat’s cheese.  If you love beet, goat cheese & walnut salad you’ll love this pie.  Sometimes beets with the greens attached are not available at the market.  If this is true at your market you may use another tender green such as spinach or chard.

Recipe adapted from Epicurious.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • single pie crust of your choice
  • 2 to 3 small beets
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (I used coconut oil)
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 or 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon thyme, finely chopped
  • greens from the beets (or spinach can be used)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • sea salt & pepper
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used whole)
  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (about 4 ounces)
  • small handful of mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup walnut, crushed

M e t h o d

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Peel and grate the beets using a box grater or food processor.  Place a large skillet on medium heat. Add olive oil or coconut oil and spread onion slices evenly in the pan. Fry for five minutes each side.  Add garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant.  Toss in 1/2 of the beet greens (or spinach) with apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper.  When the greens are wilted stir in the other half and remove the skillet off the heat. Beat the eggs together with the milk and then crumble in the goat’s cheese. Add the eggs and cheese to the greens and onion mixture and combine well.  Stir in the mint leaves and set aside.

After rolling out your pie dough transfer it to your pie pan.  Prick the bottom a few time and blind bake for 10 minutes.  Arrange the grated beets at the bottom of the pie and keep a little for the top. Pour the egg and greens mixture onto the crust, making sure that the cheese is evenly distributed.   Spread the walnut pieces here and there on the top and sprinkle the remaining shredded beets.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden and set.

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chilaquiles verdes

June 4, 2015 § 76 Comments

IMG_2436 I encountered some lovely organic tomatillo’s at the market a few weeks ago and brought home more than enough to make this delightful chilaquiles verdes recipe.  Turns out I ended up making two batches because it is so good!  The first time around I followed a recipe I had tucked away from Food52, which involved oven roasting tomatillo’s, red onion, jalapeño and garlic until golden brown, then whizzing in a blender.  The chicken was simmered in chicken stock just long enough to cook through and then shredded into tender moist bite size pieces.  All of this was placed back into the dutch oven to simmer with the chicken stock and a generous amount of lime.  It was perfectly flavored with queso fresco, cotija, cilantro and finished with a fried egg on top. DSCN3493 The second time preparing chilaquiles verdes our temperatures soared to 82°F (24°C) and I couldn’t imagine the oven adding heat to the already hot kitchen.  At this point, I decided to grill the vegetables and chicken and after whizzing the vegetables in the blender add it the pot of chicken stock along with the shredded grilled chicken and generous amount of lime. IMG_2913 Turned out to be an interesting comparison of oven roasted vs. grilled vegetables.  The fire roasted flavor from the grilled vegetables was quite nice, however, when I prepare this again rather than grill the chicken I will simmer it in the chicken stock to achieve the tender moist texture that makes chilaquiles so wonderful. IMG_2431 The recipe below is the oven roasted vegetable version.  If you are interested in the fire roasted version, grill your olive oiled vegetables for 15 minutes turning often and make sure to follow the same recipe below for the chicken. Recipe adapted from Food52 by lisina.

  • 3 pounds tomatillos in the husk
  • large red onion cut in 1/2-inch slices
  • jalapeños (I used one)
  • cloves of garlic, unpeeled (I used 4)
  • handful of cilantro leaves
  • lime
  • heaping spoonful of crema or sour cream (I used yogurt)
  • quart chicken stock (preferably homemade)
  • boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • cup (or more if you like) queso fresco in large crumbles (1/2- to 1-inch pieces), or shredded monterey jack
  • 1/2 cup crumbled cotija cheese
  • Cilantro leaves, for garnish
  • Salt and olive oil, as needed

Lay tomatillos, onions, jalapeños, and garlic on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place the baking sheet under the broiler, until the veggies are wilted and blistered, about 10 minutes (time will vary based on the heat of your broiler). Remove the veggies and let them cool until you are able to handle them. Remove the husks from the tomatillos, squeeze the garlic from the cloves, and remove the stem from the jalapeños. Throw the roasted veggies into a blender, along with any juices that accumulated on the baking tray. Add the cilantro leaves, the juice of the lime, and the crema. Purée until the mixture is very smooth. Taste and make any needed adjustments (more salt, acid, etc). While the veggies are still in the oven, bring the chicken broth to a gentle simmer in a dutch oven. Add the chicken breasts and allow them to simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Move the chicken to a cutting board and use two forks to shred it. Return the chicken and any juices to the pot. Add the tomatillo purée to the chicken broth, taste for seasoning (note the sauce should be tangy, almost sour, so add another squeeze of lime if necessary), and bring to a simmer. Cover and let the mixture simmer for about 20 minutes. Cut the tortillas into quarters. If your tortillas are fresh, dry them out in the oven or toaster oven. If they’re stale and dried out, add them right to the pot. Stir the mixture and let simmer for another 10 minutes. The tortillas will cause the sauce to thicken. Uncover and stir in the queso fresco or sprinkle with the monterey jack. Cover the pot again, allowing the cheese to melt. Uncover, sprinkle with cotija and cilantro, and serve.

blueberry rye slab

May 28, 2015 § 59 Comments

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A couple of weeks ago I decided it was time to get the hang of making a good pie crust.  Both fruity & savory pies are at the top of of my favorites list and there is no excuse for bringing home store-bought pie crust.  Crumbles, cobblers and pretty much any fruity baked dessert that doesn’t involve a combination of butter, flour, icy cold water and refrigeration for a period of time are put together with ease, but no, not pie crust.  Not for me anyway.

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I mix my pie crust by hand and just for practice I made four pies in the past two weeks; two savory pies and two blueberry slabs.   Yes, I made this slab twice in two weeks.  It is that good.

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The slabs turned out beautifully.  The crust was perfect.  Flaky, buttery, it easily rolled out to a perfect thickness and it held the juices in. Both the rye flour and the apple cider vinegar added a twinge of sourness which contrasted well with the sweet blueberries.  I just love a rustic looking pie.  And this held together well enough to eat without using a plate or fork.  You can pick up the squares and eat them as you would a hand pie.

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I still need a lot of practice but this blueberry slab was simple enough for a novice pie maker.  If you have any tips on making pie crust you would like to share, please do, I can use all the help I can get.

I took this Food52 recipe and reworked the filling by leaving out a large amount of sugar, ginger, lemon zest, salt and flour.

Recipe adapted from Food52 by Yossy Arefi.

Crust

  • 1- 1/8 cup (9 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 – 1/8 cup (9 ounces) rye flour
  • 2 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • teaspoon salt
  • 8 to 12 tablespoons ice water
  • tablespoon apple cider vinegar

To make the crust, combine the flours and salt in a bowl. Use your fingers or a pastry cutter to cut half of the butter into the flour until it is the size of peas, then cut in the other half until it is the size lima beans. Some of the butter will be completely worked into the flour, but you should have lots of visible pieces of butter in the dough, too. Add the apple cider vinegar to the water and make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Use a gentle hand or wooden spoon to mix about 8 tablespoons of water into the flour until just combined. If the dough seems very dry, add more water a couple of teaspoons at a time. You have added enough water when you can pick up a handful of the dough and squeeze it together without it falling apart. Press the dough together, then split it in half, form into discs, and wrap each disc in plastic wrap. Chill the dough for at least one hour before using, or overnight.

Filling 

  • cups blueberries, about 2 1/2 pints
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • egg for egg wash
  • 3  tablespoons crunchy sugar to finish

Preheat oven to 400º F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Gently toss the blueberries, sugar and vanilla bean seeds in a bowl until well combined.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out one piece of the dough into a roughly 8- by 12-inch rectangle, 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick. Gently move the dough to the prepared baking sheet and put the whole thing in the fridge. Roll out the other piece of dough to roughly the same size, erring larger rather than smaller, and set it aside for a moment.

Remove the dough from the fridge and pour the blueberry mixture on top, leaving a generous border of at least 1 1/2 inches around the edges.

To make a lattice top, cut the remaining dough sheet into 1-inch strips and starting from the top left corner of the pie, lay one strip of dough horizontally and one strip vertically, so that the horizontal strip is on the bottom. Lay a second horizontal strip about 1/2 inch below the top strip so that it overlaps the vertical strip. Fold the top horizontal strip to the left and lay another vertical strip about 1/2 inch to the right of the first one. Next, fold the top horizontal strip back over it. This way, the second vertical strip will go underneath the top horizontal strip and over top of the second horizontal strip. Fold the first vertical strip up and lay down a third horizontal strip. Fold the vertical strip back down. Next, fold the second horizontal strip to the left and place a third vertical strip. Fold the horizontal strip back over the pie. Fold the middle vertical strip up and lay down the fourth horizontal strip. Fold the top and third horizontal strip to the left and place a fourth vertical strip. Continue until all strips are used and the top of the pie is covered. You may have to piece some scraps together to make the last few strips of dough. Fold the bottom crust up and over the top of the pie and press firmly with a fork to seal.

Put the baking sheet into the refrigerator or freezer until the crust is very firm. When you are ready to bake, brush the top of the pie with a beaten egg and generously sprinkle it with sugar. Bake the pie until the crust is deep golden brown and the juices are bubbling, 35 to 45 minutes. Cool slightly before cutting.

Note: Be prepared; a lattice-topped pie will probably leak, so do not forget to line your pan with parchment paper.

chicken meatballs in spicy tomato sauce

May 21, 2015 § 57 Comments

IMG_0793 My plan for dinner on this particular evening was to make chicken meatballs, Italian style with garlic, onion, parmesan, parsley, egg and breadcrumbs, but I couldn’t get past my craving for spicy Indian flavors.   Rather than a complete dinner makeover I decided to stick with the meatball plan and change up the ingredients to include chili powder, cumin, coriander, garam masala and a jalapeño pepper. DSCN3566 We have been discovering some interesting substitutes for glutinous ingredients and dry roasting 1/4 cup of quinoa on your stovetop and whizzing it in your spice blender or food processor will create quinoa flour and it can be used to bind your meatball’s together without using breadcrumbs. DSCN3570 Simple clean ingredients include organic free range chicken, one egg, chili powder, cumin, coriander, garam masala, onion, cilantro, quinoa flour, ginger, garlic, jalapeño and a generous amount of salt.  Most meatball recipes call for browning them in a pan and then finishing them in the oven.  I only baked them. It’s great to just put them in the oven and walk away.  Clean-up is also very easy, thanks to the parchment paper on the sheet pan. DSCN3573 The resulting meatballs have a touch of jalapeño heat and exude a wonderfully spiced fragrance. IMG_0793 After the meatballs are nicely brown and cooked they are simmered in a spicy tomato sauce.  Simmer them just long enough to absorb the sauce so they will become even more flavorful and juicy.  They would be delicious with couscous, or stuffed in pita with chopped cucumber and plain yogurt or even just stacked on rice with a cool salad on the side. This recipe is inspired from several online recipes for spicy Indian style meatballs.

For the meatballs:

  • 1-1.5 pounds lean cut ground chicken (you can use lamb/turkey too)
  • 1 medium onions – finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ginger – minced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic – minced
  • 1 cup cilantro – finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chilli powder ( I used spicy Kashmiri chili powder)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 jalapeno pepper – chopped (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup powdered quinoa (dry roast and grind them to a coarse powder)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt to taste
For the sauce:
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onions – finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ginger – minced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic – minced
  • 1-28 ounce can pureed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/4-1/2 cup water
  • Salt to taste
  • Cilantro to garnish
 
Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Place the ground chicken in a large bowl and add the onions, ginger, garlic, jalapeño, spices, cilantro and salt, mix well to combine. Add the beaten eggs, oil and quinoa.  Mix well using your hands. Roll into balls and place them on a parchment lined baking tray. Bake for 30 minutes until they turn golden brown on the outside. Remove and let them rest.

While the meatballs are baking make the sauce.
Heat oil in a large pot.  Add the onions and little salt and allow them to cook until translucent. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato puree and add the spices and cook for 20 minutes.  If sauce is too thick add a little hot water to thin. Add cilantro and baked meat balls. Simmer for another 10 minutes allowing the meatballs to absorb the sauce.

pasta with yogurt, peas and chili oil

May 15, 2015 § 56 Comments

DSCN3423 A very similar pasta recipe was posted here several months ago and the only difference between the two is the type of pasta used.  We have been using quinoa pasta as of late and honestly I really love both the texture and flavor of the noodles.  I have tried a couple of different quinoa products and the best, in my opinion, is a corn free brand called Andean Dream, which is made with only two ingredients, organic quinoa flour and organic rice flour. DSCN3420 It may seem a bit odd to use yogurt in a pasta sauce but it really works here. The overall effect is a tad sour and creamy but not heavy. And with pea harvest in full swing (at the co-op) now is the time to make as many pea recipes as you can during this short lived season.  This is a wonderfully light springtime dinner. Adapted slightly from Jerusalem, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi The original version of this recipe calls for conchiglie or shell-shaped pasta, but you could use any pasta shape you like.   If you’re worried about the amount of heat, consider starting with a little less chili than what is called for – or lightly drizzle the chili oil on your pasta.

  • 2 ½ cups (500 g) whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • 2/3 cup (150 ml) olive oil
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, crushed or pressed
  • 1 pound (500 g) fresh or thawed frozen peas
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound (500 g) pasta shapes of your liking, we used quinoa
  • ½ cup (60 g) pine nuts
  • 2 teaspoons red chili flakes
  • 1- 2/3 cups (40 g) basil (or mint) leaves, coarsely torn
  • 8 ounces (240 g) feta cheese, coarsely crumbled

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the yogurt, 6 tablespoons (90 ml) of the olive oil, the garlic, and 2/3 cup (100 g) of the peas. Process to a uniform pale green sauce, and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and salt it until tastes like pleasantly salty seawater. Add the pasta, and cook until it is al dente. While the pasta cooks, warm the remaining olive oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and chile flakes, and cook for 4 minutes, or until the pine nuts are golden and the oil is deep red. Also, warm the remaining peas in some boiling water (you could scoop out a bit of the pasta water for this); then drain. Drain the cooked pasta into a colander, and shake it well to get rid of excess water that may have settled into the pasta’s crevices. Add the pasta gradually to the yogurt sauce; adding it all at once may cause the yogurt to separate. Add the warm peas, the basil, feta, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Toss gently. Serve immediately, with pine nuts and chile oil spooned over each serving. Serves 4, generously.

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