Saturday, October 25, 2014

Orange and Black! GO GIANTS!!

Ok, last night was our monthly Soup Night and when I realized that the Giants were going to be playing that night in the 3rd game of the World Series - the theme was set! I emailed everybody in the group (ok, just the girls as we are the planners for now) and said we HAVE to watch the game AND everything must be orange and black - including clothing! And let me just say this group went all the way! From pumpkin beer and Orange wine (i had never heard of this but apparently it's all the rage) to persimmon salad with pumpernickel croutons (Sarah you are Queen of Salad!) and a delicious pureed mushroom soup. And then my silly checkerboard cake. But that is another story for another day - stay tuned!
Orange wine - only made by Nuns

Soup night Giants style!

Orange wine and the series!

Persimmon Salad 

Thanks everybody for getting on board!! And tonight I'm hoping for a WIN!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Savory Roasted Delicata Squash - delish!

So simple and yet SO delicious! Reminds me of mexican grilled corn with lime and chili.  I've used these lovely winter squashes before, roasted in rings for a salad but this was so easy I will be making it a regular on my fall menu.

Roasted Delicata Squash for 2

1 delicata squash cut in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds
2 tablespoons butter
1 lime
1 teaspoon taste of tierra salt (ok, if you can't get this then use 1/2 teaspoon chili powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt)
freshly ground pepper

In a glass baking dish place the squash cut side down and add about 1/4 cup hot water to it. Roast in a 350 degree oven for about 20 min or until tender. Turn over and drain out any leftover water. Place some butter in each, skwirt of lime and sprinkle with your special salt or your substitute chili powder and salt and some pepper - let cook another 3-4 min - you can broil it for that time if you like to get it browned and bubbly - eat straight out of it's "bowl" with a spoon! Actually you can eat the skin too if it's tender.
I'm sorry but I had to share this amazing fall sunset we had the other day behind our house. I feel so lucky. So Fucking Lucky ; )

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Oh how times change!!

Starter on Route to PHX

This last weekend I went back to Phoenix for my 30th (holy shit) high school reunion. I stayed with my BFF Julie and we had a little pre-party at her house on Friday and she asked me to bake my bread. So, with a little trepidation, I loaded up some of my sourdough starter for the flight! I ended up going through the "pre-validated" line at security - or whatever it's called so no one said a peep! I was a bit concerned that they were going to be like "what the hell is in that glass jar" - I had all sorts of responses planned for that one... let's see - a special medical salve? Anyway - slipped right by security and even made a nice fat loaf the next day.

1983 (I think) lunch at McDonalds
Our lovely table at Julie's house - babaganoush, hummus, veggies, bread cheese salami plate and the favorite French Onion Dip. So nice to see all my old friends - who haven't aged a bit! Well, maybe just a bit, but no more than that. 

And yes that is me on the right eating lunch at McDonalds (holy shit)  from our Junior yearbook with Cheryl, Jen and Paige (forgot who that is looking on? Michele?) Yes, McDonalds has passed my lips - quite a bit in those days - just not anytime lately!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Okra Fritters

I keep forgetting about this tasty little bites! I do love my okra salad - but these okra fritters were delicious! This time I did them with the corn and these gorgeous purple okra that I've been getting at the farmer's market and some fresh green cornmeal from Tierra Farms. So good topped with some hot sauce - yum.

And while I've got the cornmeal out - here is another variation with fresh roasted green chills and cheese. Yum again.

Green Chili and Cheese Cornbread serves 4

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cornmeal (get Tierra's if you can)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoons sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
fresh corn cut off of 2 cobs
1 roasted green chili chopped (or canned if you don't have fresh)
1 cup shredded cheddar
couple tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl. In a measuring cup mix the buttermilk and egg and add to the dry ingredients mixing well. Then stir in the corn, chili and cheese. Place a cast iron skillet in the oven and let it heat up. Remove and put in the butter and oil. When melted pour into the cornbread mixture almost all of it, leaving a bit in the pan to keep it from sticking. Pour in the mixture and bake for about 10-15 min or until browned. Let cool in the skillet about 5 min then turn out so it stays crisp. Serve with more butter.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Simple but complete meal - Salad and Mac and Cheese

 Lots of things I cook don't really require a recipe - it's more just an idea that shapes up based on what's in the fridge and what's in season at the market. This week I got some little heads of lettuce and had some avocado and lemon cucumbers so I made an all green salad with just a little dash of my dressing and salt and pepper. Next - I had been making pimento cheese so I still had a big block of cheddar around so I decided to make mac and cheese to accompany my salad. If that's not comforting - I don't know what is.
My mom's original with saltines on top
Simple golden dressing

1 small glass jar of dijon with about a tablespoon of mustard left
couple teaspoons champagne vinegar
about 1/3 cup olive oil (or if I have a walnut oil around I substitute a couple tablespoonsful)
about a pinky dip of honey
salt and pepper

Add all to the jar and shake it up! I keep this in the fridge and add more to refresh - it's the perfect container. Sometimes I use balsamic instead and skip the honey - but for today's green salad I wanted it without color.
Total meal - salad and bacon topped mac and cheese

Macaroni and Cheese serves 4

1/2 pound macaroni (or tonight I used fusilli)
2 cups whole milk, warmed
1/2 stick butter (4 tablespoons)
1/4 cup flour
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese 
dash cayenne pepper
1 cup fresh bread crumbs 
melted tablespoon butter

Cook pasta according to package directions, except reduce the time by a couple min - you want it slightly undercooked, then drain. In a sauce pan melt the butter and add the flour and cook for a few min - you don't want a brown roux, but you don't want raw flour - golden would be perfect. Then carefully add the warm milk, whisking to combine - it will thicken up quickly - cook for just a few min. Stir in the grated cheese until melted and salt and pepper and dash cayenne to taste. Pour in the pasta and then into a a buttered baking dish. Mix bread crumbs with butter and top the casserole. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30-40 min or until bubbly and browned. 

A mix of sharp cheddar 1/2 with gruyere or 1/4 of parmesan or use up what leftover cubes of cheese you have on hand. 
Add a peeled chopped tomato to the pasta before baking (I did this as I have such nice tomatoes right now)
Crumble cooked bacon on top (I just put a slice)
Chop smoked ham and add to the pasta to bake. 
Instead of bread crumbs use crumbled saltines - that was how my mom did it. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Tapioca Pudding - comfort food

I almost needed to call this tapioca pudding lemon - but it wasn't flavored or dyed yellow - except by these exceptional yolks! Tapioca is a love it or hate it thing - but I promise you might be more inclined to like it if you had it from scratch. It is a much bigger pain in the butt to make but well worth it - as most things go. instant takes the work and the greatness away. 

Beat eggs yolks and sugar until light yellow?? Not with these yolks!

 Tapioca Pudding 6 servings

1/2 cup large pearl tapioca (they look like little beans)
2 and 1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs separated
1 tsp vanilla

Soak the tapioca covered in water overnight. Drain the next day and add to milk in a large pot along with salt. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently - you don't want it to boil - until tender about 35-40 min. Meanwhile separate eggs and beat yolks with sugar until "light" in color (HA!) then add a little of the hot mixture to the eggs, beating to temper it and then pour into the pan and continue to cook until thickened - about another 15 min - on low and stirring so you don't end up with scrambled eggs! In another bowl beat the eggs whites until stiff then remove the pudding from the pot and fold in the whites and stir in the vanilla. Serve warm or cold with fresh fruit if you like - maybe a dollop of strawberry rhubarb jam or plain works too!

Thursday, September 25, 2014


 I have to say this had been an odd tomato season - nobody seems to be overwhelmed with tomatoes - I did grow a couple cherry tomato plants and ate them hand over fist for a couple months - but I haven't been boiling pots and pots of them to put up for the winter, maybe that will come but for now I'm just enjoying them every which way I can - and here are a few standouts.

Baked Tomatoes with Pasta serves 2

2 oz thinly sliced pancetta (or bacon will do) chopped
a couple tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs (use a good bread and whiz up in the blender)
2 large tomatoes, tops sliced off and squeeze out the seeds gently
1 clove garlic sliced

Fry the pancetta until lightly crisp then remove and add an extra tablespoon olive oil to the pan and toss the bread crumbs around until toasted. Put the tomatoes in a small roasting pan and stick in the garlic slivers. Mound on top the bread crumbs and pancetta then drizzle with another tablespoon of the olive oil and bake at 350 degrees for about 40 min - or until soft. I then remove from the oven and peel off the skin (I hate skin and it easily slips off after baking, just don't destroy the tomato shape) and serve over a bowl of pasta - drizzle a little more olive oil, some freshly ground pepper and parmesan and let the tomato melt into a sauce on your pasta with the crispy bits.
No recipe needed - Ripe tomato slices, fresh mozzarella, proscuitto salad, drizzle with olive oil and pepper

Chunky tomato soup topped with a fried egg
The title on the soup says it all - I just do my basic tomato soup (chopped tomatoes, onions, carrots) and for this version I put in a couple chopped peppers. Then to make it a rich and satisfying meal I fried an egg and slipped it in. With a drizzle of chili olive oil you are set.