Monday, September 28, 2015

Tomato Risotto

Richard doesn't love risotto - I know what is wrong with that boy? And when I said I was making tomato risotto for dinner he was less than enthused. But let me tell you after he had a bite of this he was hooked! It's like a rich and creamy tomato mozzarella salad - just melt in your mouth deliciousness. 

Tomato Risotto topped with Mozzarella

1/2 onion finely chopped
couple tablespoons olive oil
1 cup risotto
1/4 cup dry white wine
about 4 cups chicken broth Hot (or go veggie if you like)
1/2 cup tomato crush
5-6 dried tomatoes chopped (I used my oven dried that I had frozen)
1 ball fresh mozzarella
salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil
chopped fresh basil

In a large pan sauté the onion in the olive oil until soft. Add the rice let it get coated with the oil. Add in the white wine and let cook off. Ladle in the Hot broth in about 1/2 cup portions adding more when it has been absorbed. After the first 1/2 cup add the tomato sauce and dried tomatoes and keep stirring and adding broth. Taste after about 15-20 min - you want it al dente. If still to raw add a bit more broth. When cooked salt and pepper to taste serve topped with a slice of mozzarella and a sprinkling of basil and drizzle of olive oil. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Szechwan Green Beans in a New Wok

I finally broke down and bought myself a (nother) wok. And I'm so glad I did. I found this one on sale at Sur La Table - and it is a gorgeous Staub one with a really beautiful cast iron inside and gray exterior. I would leave it out on display if it didn't drive my husband crazy! This is the first recipe I made in it - Szechwan Green Beans and it was perfect! There are tons of lovely green beans at the market now so hup, hip! And no I didn't have any Szechwan peppercorns.

Post note: I had to break down and buy another wok - I threw mine out after a few years of living in SF because the chinese food was so good and we ate it soooo much there was no reason to cook it at home. Now that I live in Healdsburg I have to make my own again. Oh well, that justifies this amazing pan!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Pear bonanza!

Yes, peaches are done but I told you not to be depressed - Pears are in season! And I finally found a couple things to do with those lovely little Seckel pears besides gobbling them up with a shmear of peanut butter. Although I'm already dreaming about toasting this lightly sweet pear bread with a little peanut butter on top, or maybe some of my pear butter - just for extra peary goodness.

Ginger Pear Quick Bread makes one 9x5 inch loaf

1 stick butter, room temp
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
1/4 cup buttermilk
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon chopped crystallized ginger
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 and 1/2 cups chopped pears, I used seckels that were just slightly underripe (I cored them but didn't bother peeling)

In a mixer cream the butter with the sugar, then add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one and then add the vanilla. Mix together the dry ingredients in a small bowl. Add dry mix and buttermilk alternating and when mixed together fold in the lemon zest, candied ginger, almonds and pears. Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan and pour in batter - bake 350 degree oven for 45-55 min. Cool on a rack.

Rising for the last 30 min.
This is my half/half focaccia - I've been making Grape and Walnut focaccia now for 2 weeks in a row (it's that good) and this week wanted to try 1/2 done with sliced pears instead of grapes. This is unbelievably delicious with some cheese - I had some Cambozola and spread that on top -salty, slightly sweet - OMG. I can't tell which is better- side one or side 2 - I think I'll have both!
Hot out of the oven
Grape and Walnut Focaccia

3/4 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
about 2 cups small seedless grapes
2/3 cup walnuts
drizzle on top extra olive oil, sugar and maldon salt

Combine water, yeast and sugar in a 2 cup measuring cup and whisk to combine and let sit about 5 min or until frothy. Whisk in the olive oil. Put flour and salt in the bowl of a mixer (or you can do by hand) with a dough hook. Start the mixer and pour in the water yeast mix and continue mixing on medium low for about 3 min, or until it it comes together and is pretty smooth. Put a bit of olive oil in a large bowl and turn the dough so it's covered in oil and then place saran wrap on top and put in a warm place to double about an hour and half. Get a large sheet pan and pour in some more olive oil and dump in the dough. In the middle put in the grapes then fold it over. With your fingers spread it out, letting it rest for a few min, then spreading it some more. Then press in the walnuts all over - it's ok if the grapes are poking out too. Drizzle over some more olive oil and set aside to rise another 30 min. Sprinkle the top with a bit of flaky salt and about a teaspoon of white sugar (this time I used turbinado sugar and I don't like how it made the little brown speckles everywhere - so stick with regular sugar). Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 20 min, reduce temp to 350 and bake another 7 min or until crispy and browned. Remove to a rack and let cool. What an amazing addition to a cheese course!

Pear Walnut Focaccia

Same as above then
4 pears, cored and sliced and tossed with a teaspoon of lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon sugar
2/3 cup walnuts

So make as above but when you spread out into the pan lay out the pears and then place around the walnuts. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with maldon salt and some cinnamon and sugar. Bake like above.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

In case you are sick of zucchini

Make this pasta! It is yummy and you won't even realize you are eating zucchini for the hundredth time this season! I love those heirloom zukes! And don't even get me started on Franco's pancetta…
Raw zucchini rounds with pancetta

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Leftovers - your best friends.

 Yes, I do consider leftovers to be one of my best friends. And they can be yours too!  I know I've said it before but I hate to throw food out - any why do that when you can re-purpose them! I recently made my grilled chicken with mustard sauce and had a bit leftover - and then noticed a brown paper bag of little button mushrooms so I chopped them up and browned in a bit of butter then added the chopped chicken and sauce and warmed a bit. I served it over rice along with some lima beans and leeks - almost a chicken stroganoff - yummy.
Then last weekend we got a marinated tri-tip from Big John's Market and had grilled it for our friends Gary, Linda and Sarah - served along with succotash, okra fritters and tomatoes with salad cream. Sarah asked what kind of weird names were those? But she loved them! The next day while they went out on their own I sautéed some red peppers and onions and then tossed the sliced steak in to slightly warm - served alongside my potato chip focaccia it was wonderful. So don't toss it out - just get creative!
Okra fritters

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

It's still Hot so make some popsicles!

Yes, still a bit toasty up here so I made a few popsicles. I was inspired by a recipe for Mocha ones  I did change it up a bit, and I think they were great. I also made some strawberry ones. This way each couple got to share ; ) I love how the mocha ones look like a cappuccino.

Mocha Popsicles makes about 6

2 oz dark chocolate chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 cup espresso
1/2 cup cream whipped

Place the chocolate in a mixing bowl along with the sugar and hot water and espresso. Whisk to melt, if not totally melted, microwave for a few seconds. Then let cool and fold in the whipped cream. Pour into popsicle molds and let freeze. Love how they separated - reminded me of when my mom used to do jello in multi colored layers. Oh, the '70's. 

These strawberry popsicles were just something I blended up - I had a little bit of strawberry ice cream left over so I threw that into a blender with some fresh strawberries and a little milk. Then poured these into molds too. I have to say these were like the amazing treats I had a million (seems like) years ago when I was away at my first semester at college in Florence Italy. It was the summer after I graduated from high school. 1984 - Benetton was popular and the dollar was great - so yes, I came back with a wardrobe to die for. It was my first time away from home and the majority of other students were 2-3 years older than me, but I could keep up. We lived in a dorm style pension and stayed cool by opening the windows and had to keep the mosquito punks burning. We drank wine and ate great food at little hole in the wall places - this was way before wood burning pizza ovens were on the scene and the only pizza I ever saw was cold slices next to american "hamburgers" in take away shops - and even I wouldn't eat those. But one food I ate stands out after all that wine- The Fragola I found it at a little ice-cream stand. This is what it tasted like. Summer at it's best. Love a good food memory! 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The last of the peaches

Oh what a sad thought - BUT there is good news. I made what Renee (a wonderful farmer that grows peaches and lots of other goodies) calls "glop" which is pretty funny, but let's call it Peach Topping. She told me about it one day at the Wednesday Farmer's market when she had a few "second" peaches -ones that were not perfect. Basically she takes them, peels and pits and cuts off any bruised parts and then tosses in a pan with some sugar. She doesn't even chop up, just lets them cook for a little bit - so I can see how that would be justly named glop ; 0 and still delicious! But since I was going to the trouble of doing it I changed it up a bit. Still simple - just cut into cubes added about 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon lemon for each peach and cooked in a pan for a few min. Then I portioned them into 1/2 pint jars and froze for a wonderful winter treat. Thanks for the sharing the great idea Renee! While our friends from Maui were visiting I used the one I kept in the fridge a few times…
Cheesecake topped with Peaches

Yeasted Waffles
The yeasted waffles were a big hit - and this is a I can't decide which is better moment - fresh cut strawberries or peach topping? Have BOTH! And one pork bacon breakfast sausage and one sage. I love variety - that's why I always make my friends share food with me - because I want to taste everything. xoxoxo

The only other reason why I'm not depressed that there are only a few peaches left in my kitchen and none in the trees is that the trees are full of Seckel pears from Renee's Farm- my favorite! I don't have my own tree yet but soon...