November – Vegetarian Chicken Broth

November – Vegetarian Chicken Broth

How can that be you ask? Of course this vegetarian broth isn’t actually made with chicken but it sure tastes a lot like it. Let me introduce you to parmesan broth. I first posted this recipe back in 2015 and think it deserves a repeat appearance before for the holidays. Those rinds make a vegetarian soup base brimming with umami, that fifth flavor that makes all the other flavors snap into focus.

My local deli sells grated parmesan and I can pick up the rinds for a song. You may even be able to get them for free if you let your friendly deli manager know you want them. Don’t let them throw them out. Stock them in your freezer until you have enough to make this delicious broth. I keep several quarts of broth in my freezer.

Parmesan Rinds

Parmesan Rinds

There are other uses for them, in Italy they add a rind or two to minestrone soup for a flavor punch. I’ve also made a fantastic parmesan flavored olive oil, perfect for making salad dressings with an extra dose of umami. It’s also a nice idea for holiday giving.

Parmesan Olive Oil

My contribution to Thanksgiving dinner includes a vegetarian faux sausage and raisin dressing, this parmesan broth is a stand in for turkey stock.

Parmesan BrotFinished Parmesan Broth, cooling before strainingParmesan Broth (makes 4-6 cups)

Parmesan Broth: (makes about 2 quarts)

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, quartered (no need to peel)
  • 1 head of garlic, halved crosswise (remove the outermost papery layer)
  • 1 bunch of fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3-4 parsley sprigs
  • 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 lb. of Parmesan rinds
  • 8-9 cups of water

Method:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, thyme bay leaf, parsley and peppercorns. Cook, stirring often, until the onion and garlic are toasty brown about 5-10 minutes.
  2. Add the wine, bring to a simmer, and cook, scraping up any brown bit until the liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the Parmesan rinds and water to the saucepan, bring to a boil.
  4. Turn down the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 2 hours. Stir occasionally so the rinds don’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
  5. Strain through a fine mesh strainer.

Use immediately or store in the fridge up to four days. Freeze for longer storage. This recipe makes 7-8 cups of stock, depending on how reduced it becomes. You can easily double it if you have more rinds. I don’t salt when making the broth, the parmesan contains some natural salt so I add any additional salt when the broth is used.

Parmesan Broth

Parmesan Broth

 

 

November – Palm Tree Leeks

November – Palm Tree Leeks

I’ve never been impressed by leeks unless they are in a potato leek soup. Generally, give me onions or scallions or shallots. That is until I saw this unusual recipe in Nothing Fancy: Unfussy Food for Having People Over by Alison Roman. Alison is a regular contributor to the NT Times food section and this is her first cookbook. She shared my opinion, having ignored them for years.

She says “Here, leeks sizzle in a spicy olive oil mixture, the wild tendrilly ends crisping up like they have been deep fried, looking like an extremely festive and delicious party decoration. The pale green centers become creamy and tender.”

This is preparing leeks in an entirely different way! In a way it’s like roasting kale, who would have believed you could take this vegetable and turn it into delicious chips even the youngest child would love. Even better, they look like palm trees which is really a hoot.

Spicy Caramelized Leeks with Fresh Lemon

Spicy Caramelized Leeks with Fresh Lemon

Ingredients:

  • 4 large leeks, dark green parts removed, washed and halved lengthwise with roots still intact
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons harissa paste
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 fresh lemon, seeds removed and finely chopped (I used a preserved lemon, white center removed and rind scraped, then the rind finely chopped)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F
  2. Pace the leeks cut side down and, without cutting through to the root, slice them lengthwise into 1/4 inch strips. They will look like a palm fan. Place the leeks on a parchment lined half sheet pan or baking dish.
  3. Whisk the olive oil and harissa paste together, then massage into the leeks, getting into all their layers. Season with salt and pepper and lay them straight-ish.
  4. Roast, without disturbing too much until they start to fry and sizzle and brown at the ends about 20-25 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving platter. Top with the lemon and flaky salt before serving.
Leeks

Palm Frond Leeks

Roasted Leeks

Roasted Leeks

You can roast these several hours ahead of time, they won’t loose their crispness. Cover them at room temperature. There is no need to reheat them unless you want to.

Crispy Leeks

Crispy Leeks

This is such an interesting twist on preparing an often ignored vegetable that I think the folks over at Fiesta Friday #302 will enjoy it. Fiesta Friday is a virtual blogging party hosted each week by Angie, this week it is co-hosted by none other than myself. Please do click on the link to read blogs from around the world of food, crafts, and travel.

 

November – A Simple Way to Cook Chicken Thighs

November – A Simple Way to Cook Chicken Thighs

You may be aware that the end of October brought a five day power shutdown to over 2,000,000 people in Northern California, including us. This was a preemptive attempt by PG&E to prevent wildfires; the winds were high and humidity low, and our winter rains are very late. We are lucky since we have a generator and a large propane tank, but we still try to conserve energy. We are never exactly sure how long the shutdown will last.  When the power is out due to the threat of high winds and fire, we try and conserve propane as much as possible.

Cook Something from Canal House, hirsheimer & hamilton

One way to conserve power is to avoid the use of my oven, it’s my normal way of cooking chicken thighs but an electric oven uses a lot of energy. I was reading Canal House’s newest cookbook, “Cook Something, recipes to rely on”, and found the pages How We Cook Chicken Thighs…timely, yes? How do they cook chicken thighs? They cook them the same way they cook a duck breast, skin side down in a heavy skillet with no additional fat. I’ve often browned chicken thighs in a skillet before braising them, but this method was not my usual. There were only 2 ingredients, chicken and 1/2 of a preserved lemon. Wow!

 

Chicken Thighs with Preserved Lemon

CHICKEN THIGHS WITH PRESERVED LEMON

  • 6 whole chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • finely chopped rind of 1/2 preserved lemon 
  • fresh lemon, quartered for serving – optional
  • chopped parsley or cilantro for garnish – optional

Method:

  1. Trim any excess fat and skin from the chicken thighs
  2. Season them with salt and freshly ground pepper
  3. Arrange them skin side down in a heavy cast iron or nonstick skillet (cold skillet, no oil)
  4. Turn the heat to medium and cook them, without moving them, until the fat is rendered and skin crisp, about 30 minutes. You might need to adjust the heat if they are browning too quickly.
  5. Remove the core of the preserved lemon and scrape off any white from the inside of the rind, then chop the rind finely
  6. Turn the thighs over and stir in the finely chopped preserved lemon
  7. Continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes until they are cooked through and the juices run clear when pierced.
  8. Serve the thighs with some of the pan drippings, fresh lemon and herb garnish.

I found the pan drippings made a wonderful warm salad dressing with some additional lemon juice.

The thighs were juicy and delicious.

Chicken Thighs with Preserved Lemon

If you have never made preserved lemons, I encourage you to try it. They are simple, only taking a little time. And, they are a wonderful ingredient to add tartness in many dishes. I promise they will become a pantry staple. I have even seen them chopped finely and added to avocado toast. Follow the link above if you would like directions.

I think the folks over at Fiesta Friday might like them. Fiesta Friday is hosted by Angie, it’s a collection of blogs about food, decorating, travel, and crafts. Click on the link to read all the amazing things going on in the blogosphere at Fiesta Friday #301, the co-host this week is Antonia @ Zoale.com.

In My Kitchen – November 2019

In My Kitchen – November 2019

Thank you for visiting my November version of In My Kitchen. Each month Sherry MacKay of Sherry’s Pickings hostesses a global gathering of food lovers. You get to peek into their kitchen lore and knowledge, recipes, new kitchen gadgets (I’ve made some amazing discoveries), new ingredients, kitchen tales and musings. Click on the link to connect with their blog postings.

Well, last month ended with five days of no power. It was quite an adventure. We fared better than many since we have a generator and were able to keep the lights on. But, most stores in town were closed. And, the one service station with gas had a line a quarter of a mile long. Surprisingly everyone was good natured about the whole thing and neighbors pulled together to help each other, sharing power to charge cell phones and other electrical communication devices. It did bring home how dependent we are on the electrical grid though, phone service was spotty since they use the towers to boost signals and the internet was down. It was a strange feeling to be so cut off here on the coast. I think these outages will encourage more folks to invest in solar and batteries.

The lemonade from the entire event was that everything was cancelled, I was left with four whole days of empty time on my hands. I finally got around to cleaning out the pantry, washing down kitchen shelves, and sorting through bookcases; all chores on my to-do list. I was waiting for a rainy day, which doesn’t look like it’s going to happen anytime in the next 10 days. We desperately need rain.

So, what’s new in my kitchen? October is my birthday month and favorite gifts are cookbooks (from others and also from me to myself).

nothing fancy by Alison Roman

Alison Roman is a frequent contributor to the NY Times, this is a cookbook about entertaining simply.

From The Oven To The Table by Diana Henry

I have a few cookbooks by Diana Henry and enjoy her writing. This one has a lot of what we call in the U.S. “Sheet Pan” dinner recipes. I always enjoy her take on food and her writing.

Sous Vide by Hugh Acheson

I love cooking sous vide and this one will definitely increase my range of recipes.

Cook Something from Canal House, hirsheimer & hamilton

This is the newest from Canal House in the U.K. It’s also my first one from them and I am in love. Canal House has been around for quite some time but they are new to me. I made some simple pan fried chicken thighs with preserved lemon. It was quite simple but delicious.

Pan Roasted Chicken Thighs with Preserved Lemons

So, I plan to post some interesting new recipes soon. I must admit to having been in a cooking rut.

In my kitchen I have a bowl of apples from the tree in a friend’s yard. These are Galas and are delicious eating apples.

Gala apples

Gala Apples

In my kitchen I have the last of the summer tomatoes. These are from Nye Ranch just down the street, they have a Saturday farm stand and are also at our local farmer’s market each week. They told me that they don’t expect to have any more until next season. We have been enjoying them with a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar, olive oil and fresh cheese.

Heirloom tomatoes

In my kitchen I have a new pepper grinder, this one easily adjusts to a fine or coarse grind and is very easy to grind. I find my hands sometimes ache and I appreciate how little pressure this one needs to grind a generous amount of pepper.

 

And lastly in my kitchen I have dogs, five dogs to be exact. We were watching my friend’s corgis for a few days. Remember the puppy who stayed with us back in May? See puppy Milo in the left front of the first picture (he was a little peanut). The second picture shows him as an 8 month old, right front of the second picture. It’s wonderful that they all get along so well. It’s fun to watch them try to herd each other (and us).

 

In My Garden – October 2019

In My Garden – October 2019

It’s pumpkin time, and there is a tsunami of pumpkin this and pumpkin that everywhere! I am not a big fan of pumpkin spice or even pumpkin pie (which seems somehow un-American). But I do love all the winter squashes that are currently in the market. Unfortunately my own garden environment is too cool in the summer to grow them.

But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other things growing in the garden.  I’m still harvesting lettuce, arugula, chard, cilantro, parsley, Lacinato kale (or cavolo nero or Tuscan Kale), beets, and carrots. This month I seeded more kale, chard, cilantro, carrots (the small round Parisienne variety), arugula and several varieties of lettuce. The weather has cooled so growth will slow but, since we rarely get any frost, they should flourish with our winter rain.

Raised bed vegetable garden - Fort Bragg, CARaised bed vegetable garden – Fort Bragg, CA

The baskets are to keep the birds from eating the seedlings, to discourage marauding night creatures from digging for worms (the skunks can come in under the gate…we have captured them on our night camera), and to prevent our cat from using the beds as a litter box.

The artichoke plants completely died back during the summer and I thought they hadn’t survived. In fact I started to dig them out and then was surprised to see new shoots at the base of a stem; I added compost and mulch to see what would happen. Here they are now in early autumn, with luck I will have artichokes in the spring.

Artichokes - October 2019Artichokes – October 2019

The redwood trees surrounding us make gardening a bit of a pain. The redwoods roots are very aggressive in searching out any water, they love the rich damp soil in my raised beds and come up through the wire mesh in the bottom. Once all the plants in a bed are finished, I have to dig out the roots and add new soil (otherwise the roots would completely fill the beds). It’s a lot of hard work because there are a lot of roots, about half the soil is gone and needs to be replaced. It’s the price of being surrounded my such majestic beauty.

This time of year the color green takes over as many flowering plants are not at their best. Here is a view of the back perennial bed.

Western cottage garden - Back bed Fort Bragg, CA

Western cottage garden – Back bed Fort Bragg, CA October 2019

And here it was at the same time last year.

View to the back of the house, October 2018 Fort Bragg, CA

View to the back of the house, October 2018 Fort Bragg, CA

The garden has changed!

Much to the delight of the resident hummingbirds, the salvias and cupheas are still in full bloom. They will keep providing nectar throughout most of the winter. From those birds I have been able to identify (they are rarely still), we have Allen’s hummingbirds. They usually leave in mid-winter to migrate and then show up again in the early spring. I would love to attract some Anna’s (who stick around all year) but haven’t seen any so far. The Allens are quite aggressive in defending their territory.

Salvia 'Amistad', in back Salvia greggii (I am not sure of the variety but it is lovely salmon color)

Salvia ‘Amistad’, in back Salvia greggii (I am not sure of the variety but it is lovely salmon color)

 

Salvia elegans also called 'Pineapple Sage' this one is especially loved by the hummiingbirds

Salvia elegans also called ‘Pineapple Sage’ this one is especially loved by the hummingbirds

 

Cuphea – Candy Corn Plant (appropriate for October)

The pollinator meadow is greening and showing millions of baby seedlings.

Pollinator meadow, mowed but millions of baby seedlings starting

Pollinator meadow (2019), mowed but millions of baby seedlings starting from the seeds

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Meadow- soil improved by ton of new soil and compost – October 2018

Everything survived while we were away in Scotland last month, this month is busy as we leave for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland tomorrow and will be gone again. Thank goodness for a wonderful house/garden/dog/cat sitter. I am not sure what we will do when she goes back to work early next year.