In My Kitchen – July 2020

In My Kitchen – July 2020

Another month has passed and we are well into summer. It’s a strange summer with none of the usual holiday markers to indicate the march of time. No Memorial Day, no 4th of July, and I don’t think Labor Day will be different from any other day of the week. I am losing track of time and the date as one day seems much like the one before and the one to come. I’m not (necessarily) complaining as we are all well, have plenty to eat and I am not worried about where the rent payment will come from. I feel very fortunate. But, it seems unreal with so many sad and horrifying events happening around the country and the world. I try to avoid being political on my blog, but I am deeply embarrassed and humiliated by my country right now.

So I retreat into my kitchen (and garden) which has a bounty of richness.

The flowering sweet peas are blooming like crazy. They need to be picked almost daily or they will set seed and stop blooming. I can see the blooms on the dining room table from the kitchen and they smell divine.

Sweet Pea Flowers

Sweet Pea Flowers

On the edible side, I have both snap and snow peas in the garden. It takes a few days to harvest enough for a meal but they are delicious!

Snap and Snow Peas

Snap and Snow Peas

In my kitchen I have the first of the cucumbers from my plastic covered raised beds. I haven’t been able to get any to ripen in past years but the plastic has done the trick, raising the temperature.

Cucumbers

Cucumbers

In my kitchen I have zucchini, lots of zucchini, which we adore simply grilled and splashed with good olive oil. I usually salt them for a few minutes before cooking which improves the sweetness and draws out excess water.

Grilled Zucchini

Grilled Zucchini

In my kitchen I have lettuce, this one is so beautiful as it looks like a flower. It’s almost too pretty to eat.

Lettuce

Lettuce from the garden

Our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box from Nye Ranch has contained bunches of regular and golden beets the last couple of weeks. I pickled a two of pints of each. The golden beets are with rice vinegar and ginger, the red ones with red wine vinegar and star anise.

Also from our CSA I have turnips. I don’t really like turnips, I try but am not having any luck. I hate to throw them into the worm bin so this time I made a quick refrigerator pickle with them. I do like radishes and I know they are in the same family. But, I am simply not a fan. I will let you know if the pickled ones turn me around.

Quick Refrig Pickled Turnips

Quick Refrigerator Pickled Turnips

And in my kitchen I have this lovely broccoli Romanesco.

From Wikipedia:

Romanesco broccoli is an edible flower bud of the species Brassica oleracea. First documented in Italy, it is chartreuse in color. Romanesco has a striking appearance because its form is a natural approximation of a fractal.

Broccoli Romanesco

Broccoli Romanesco

Isn’t it beautiful? Although it looks closer to cauliflower the flavor is more like broccoli.

And, for comfort there has to be something sweet…in our case that’s chocolate, especially milk chocolate.

This post is part of an ongoing monthly summary from kitchens around the world. In My Kitchen is hosted by Sherry, from  Sherry’s Pickings.

Click on the link above for entertaining reading. And consider adding your own post if you are a blogger. We would love to read what is going on in your kitchen.

June – Grilled Cauliflower with Sicilian Puttanesca Relish

June – Grilled Cauliflower with Sicilian Puttanesca Relish

Grilled Cauliflower with Sicilian Puttanesca

Grilled Cauliflower with Sicilian Puttanesca Relish

Did you know you can grill cauliflower? Well I didn’t until I recently saw a recipe for grilled and charred cauliflower. I should have thought of it really. Well, if broccoli can be grilled, cauliflower is not far behind. In the summer we grill a lot of vegetables on the BBQ (in the winter we roast), those two are our preferred ways to cook most vegetables. They develop a much deeper and often sweeter flavor as a result of the slight charring and caramelization.

This dish has a puttanesca relish with the Sicilian twist of dried fruit. Sweet and sour combinations are a classic for Sicily. The recipe is adapted from one in the New York Times for Grilled Broccoli with Apricot Puttanesca. Adapted because I only had cauliflower on hand the first time and no dried apricots. And what is puttanesca without anchovies!!! Heretical. But leave them out if you don’t like them or want to make a vegetarian option.

You need to cut the cauliflower and/or broccoli into largish chunks so it doesn’t fall though the grill. Spread the relish over it while it is still warm. We served this with a simple grilled chicken, it would be equally delicious with fish.

Note: The second time I made this I combined the cooked drained raisins, capers, olives, chiles, oregano and anchovies in the bowl of a small food processor. Processed until roughly chopped. Proceed with step 4 below.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of yellow raisins
  • 3/4 – 1 cup of unflavored rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of capers, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of pitted Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of marinated Calabrian chiles in oil, minced (or pickled hot cherry peppers or a good pinch of red pepper flakes)
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon – 1 tablespoon of minced anchovies (depending on your taste, and leave out if you are vegetarian)
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil, more as needed
  • 1/4 cup of pine nuts, briefly toasted in a dry skillet (optional)
  • Juice of 1/2 large lemon
  • 2 heads of cauliflower, cut into large pieces or an equivalent amount of broccoli or a combination
  • Kosher salt as needed
  • 1 small onion or shallot, thinly sliced (optional)
Sicilian Puttanesca Relish

Sicilian Puttanesca Relish

See the note above for an optional preparation method.

Grilled Cauliflower and Broccoli with Sicilian Puttanesca Relish

Grilled Cauliflower and Broccoli with Sicilian Puttanesca Relish

Method:

  1. Put the dried raisins in a small saucepan, add enough vinegar to cover. Slowly bring the mixture to a simmer. Immediately remove from the heat and strain the raisins, reserving the cooking liquid.
  2. Mix the raisins with the capers, olives, chilies, anchovies, and oregano. Set aside.
  3. If using, briefly toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet, pour them out onto a small plate to cool. Watch them carefully as they burn quickly.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk 1/8 cup of the reserved raisin cooking liquid and lemon juice with 1/2 cup of olive oil to make a dressing.
  5. Heat your grill to high (or oven to 425 degrees F). Toss the cauliflower (and/or broccoli) with olive oil to coat and lightly season with salt.
  6. Place the cauliflower (and/or broccoli) directly on the grill and cook until the outsides begin to char. Flip and cook a few more minutes or until tender. Alternately roast on a parchment paper lined baking sheet in the oven for 30-40 minutes until browned and cooked through.
  7. Remove from the grill and toss with the puttanesca and dressing until evenly coated. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the optional onion slices and pine nuts. Or, reserve and serve at room temperature later.
Grilled Cauliflower with Sicilian Puttanesca Relish

Grilled Cauliflower and Broccoli with Sicilian Puttanesca Relish

I think this recipe would be perfect for serving at your BBQ on the 4th of July. It can be made ahead and is delicious at room temperature.

I know this holiday will be quite strange for many of us. Here in Fort Bragg CA (there is much discussion about changing our name since General Bragg was a slave owning Confederate with a bad reputation) there will be no fireworks, no parade, no outdoor salmon feed, no craft show, and no beer or wine tasting tours of the town. It is indeed a very unsettling time to be an American.

We will celebrate with a BBQ for two out on the deck, toasting the holiday with an Aperol Spritz.

And I think the folks at Fiesta Friday will want to add this side dish to their party. It’s Fiesta Friday #335 hosted by Angie and cohosted this week by Petra @ Food Eat Love

Click on the Fiesta Friday link above to see all the treats and crafts other bloggers are bringing to the virtual party.

Stay safe, be well. Let me know how you will be celebrating this holiday.

 

June – Grilled Greek Chicken Legs

June – Grilled Greek Chicken Legs

Grilled Greek Chicken Legs

Grilled Greek Chicken Legs

This is really a basic recipe for grilling chicken legs, by that I mean pieces where the thigh and leg are in one piece. You could cook these in your oven if the weather turns less than ideal, a sudden cold snap or rain shower.

I used a simple marinade; the juice of a lemon, a couple of tablespoons of freshly chopped oregano (or a tablespoon of dried…actually I used both), a good slug of olive oil, and a little kosher salt. Rub this all over the legs and let them sit at room temperature for an hour or refrigerate, covered, longer (even overnight).

Heat a gas grill or your oven to 400 degrees F. Make sure the grill is clean and well oiled. Start the legs skin side down and turn at 20 minutes. We cooked them with grill covered for about 40 minutes. In the oven you can leave them skin side up for the entire time, it will still probably be 40 minutes.

I served them with grilled cauliflower (yes, you can cook cauliflower on the grill) with a Sicilian inspired puttanesca relish. That recipe will be posted.

Grilled Cauliflower

Greek Chicken Legs

I bet the wonderful folks over at Angie’s Fiesta Friday virtual blogging party would enjoy this. I am headed over to Fiesta Friday #334 where you will find a collection of recipes, craft and decorating ideas. Come on over and join us. This week’s co-host is Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau

In My Garden – June 2020

In My Garden – June 2020

I want to open with a quote:

“Knowing that you love the earth changes you, activates you to defend and protect and celebrate. But when you feel that the earth loves you in return, that feeling transforms the relationship from a one-way street into a sacred bond.” Robin Wall Kimmerer

You are indeed a lucky person if you have a garden right now. I know it has saved me.

I have had difficulty writing my IMG post this month. I spend almost every day out in the garden…weeding, pruning, harvesting, pulling out spent annuals, watering, and planting new summer and fall plants in both the vegetable garden and flower beds. How can I possibly tie it down to how it looks in one day when it is constantly changing? And it isn’t changing slowly either, I notice new things every day. The colors, scents, and shapes are never the same one day to the next. This blog post tries to tie it down but I think I need a movie to give a true picture.

But now in mid-June it is time. So here is a snapshot of what has developed in the last month.

Quinn is our big hunter of gophers and moles.

Quinn

Who me?

She frequently does more damage than good, especially with moles, digging deeply along their tunnels. It’s not so bad when she finds a tunnel in the forest. Other than returning covered in redwood needles, she can do little to hurt the deep piles of duff under the trees. However, every once in a while she finds them in the middle of the flower garden before we notice. Such was the case here…

It took us two weeks to catch the thing, knowing she would just dig it up again if we didn’t get it.

Casey, by contrast, can’t be bothered.

Casey

Just let me be a couch potato

The vegetable garden has changed a lot since we prepared the beds. There are three varieties of bush beans planted in this one.

Under the cover of plastic, zucchini is flourishing and we are harvesting our first crop.

Summer Squash

Zucchini

I cover them in the evening and uncover them once the sun hits the beds in the morning.

I also have some cucumbers and tomatoes growing under one of the mini greenhouses provided by the plastic covering. They seem to be doing well so far and I will let you know if I actually get a crop this year, it will be a first.

I have both sweet pea flowers and edible snap/snow peas in this bed.

Peas

Flowering and edible peas

The first dahlia to bloom.

Dahlias

Dahlias

And here are some shots of the flower garden.

June is truly the most beautiful month in the garden. Northern California is at it’s most colorful in spring.

And here is the pollinator garden. With the exception of a few salvia’s and day lilies, only last year’s wildflowers have reseeded it. The colors and flowers in bloom change weekly. It is full of the buzz of bees, fluttering butterflies, and the calls of small birds feasting on dropped seed heads.

 

Now the weather has warmed we are enjoying being outside, appropriately socially distanced with close friends. The back deck is a perfect place.

Set up for a socially distanced glass of wine

Back deck set up for an appropriately distanced glass of wine with friends – Casey and Quinn join us

The hummingbirds feeding in the bottlebrush tree behind the deck entertain us with their arguments and fights over territory.

I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse into my garden. Questions and comments are welcome.

And it you travel to the coast know that the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens are now open. Make sure you make an appointment, they are well worth a visit.

In My Kitchen – June 2020

In My Kitchen – June 2020

How are you doing? I realize that is mostly a rhetorical question – although I would absolutely welcome replies from all of my almost 300 readers.

Who wouldn’t be distressed right now? It seems frivolous to talk about events in my kitchen, even though it is a source of great comfort. I can (mostly) control things there while around me everything feels out of control and falling apart.

“The beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be an anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward.”

– Ijeoma Oluo

We all have hidden biases and prejudices. Knowing and examining them is the first step to having an open heart.

Covid still silently stalks us In the midst of demonstrations against police brutality and racial injustice. I understand the anger and frustration of the marchers, and the feeling of solidarity in joining together. We have all been separated during the shelter-in-place orders. But Covid-19 is still out there, we won’t know who or where it will strike for another few weeks. Where do we go from here? I really don’t know.

So, I will go to my kitchen.

In my kitchen I have the remainder of a jar of lemon/lime curd. There isn’t much left and I will soon make another batch. We love it on toast or an English muffin for breakfast, or on a cracker with a cup of tea as a mid afternoon pickup.

Lemon and Lime Curd

Lemon and Lime Curd

Here’s the strange thing, the yellow colored citrus fruit is a lime and the green ones are unripe lemons. If you leave a lime on the tree long enough it turns yellow even though it still tastes like a lime.

I made the curd sous vide which ensures you don’t actually curdle the eggs. It’s a perfect batch every time.

Makes about 1 1/4 cup

Lemon Curd

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/3 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice or a combination of lemons and limes
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) of unsalted butter, melted
  1. Preheat your water bath to 180 degrees F (82 degrees C)
  2. Sterilize a 1 pint canning jar, lid and ring (I just pour boiling water into the jar and let it sit until the water bath is heated or put it through your dishwasher)
  3. Place the egg yolks in a small food processor
  4. Add the sugar and pulse until it dissolves and the mixture thickens slightly
  5. Add the lemon juice and melted butter, pulse to incorporate. Don’t over process or it will turn frothy.
  6. Pour the mixture into the prepared jar.
  7. Seal the jar, finger tight, in immerse in the water bath for 45 minutes to an hour.
  8. Remove the jar from the water, open the jar and stir to mix. Reseal.
  9. Cool in an ice/water bath and refrigerate.

This will store for up to 2 weeks if it lasts that long. You can also freeze it.

The weather has finally warmed enough to sit outside with a glass of wine in the early evening. I made pizza with a crust of puffed pastry, perfect for alfresco dining.

We’ve also dusted and uncovered the grill. These Turkish lamb chops were delicious.

A cloudy chilly day brought me back indoors for slow baked salmon with a charred broccoli pesto.

We’ve had lots of salads from the garden and the first zucchini squash.

zucchini

Zucchini

I am looking forward to snap peas and green beans, it will probably be a few more weeks until they are ready to harvest. Meanwhile I have been enjoying vegetables out of the Nye Ranch CSA box.

Nye Ranch CSA

Nye Ranch CSA

In my kitchen I have flowers. Our rhododendrons are blooming, also poppies and many other flowers. I always have a fresh bouquet nearby.

Poppies and Rhodies

Poppies and Rhodies

This post is part of virtual blogging party, In My Kitchen, hosted by Sherry of Sherrys Pickings.

The link above will allow you to read stories of kitchens around the world, written by accomplished cooks and travelers. Please join us, and if you are a blogger, add your own linked post about your own kitchen adventures.