In My Kitchen – December 2019

In My Kitchen – December 2019

It will be 2020 in less than a month and I admit to being an anxious mess. I have had to take a news break and stop listening to the radio, TV, reading the paper or jumping at various flash news updates on all my electronic gadgets. The world does not feel like a friendly place at the moment. The Thanksgiving holiday was a welcome respite with its reminder of what is truly important. It was a chance to focus on friends and family (including all our furry four legged friends). I count my blessings for those people and animals in my life.

I recently read an article about morning rituals, one stuck in my head. The idea is to take 30 slow breaths first thing every morning, reminding yourself with each in breath of something or someone you are thankful for. It’s so simple and powerful, a gratitude meditation. But you can do it while dressing, or ordering your morning latte, or feeding the dogs. It doesn’t need to be a big deal. I haven’t been good about starting a meditation practice although I think it is important. My mornings are busy and noisy; the dogs usually get me up fairly early and their mood is one of joyous awakening. I can be thankful for their exuberance at meeting the new day. They are certainly a blessing.

Casey and Quinn

We are so thankful you are finally home

Anyway, on to what’s new in my kitchen.

In my kitchen I have lots of dressing, this year I made three batches because there wasn’t enough left over. The first was a vegetarian version of my regular sausage/cornbread/raisin dressing to satisfy all dietary requirements at Friendsgiving (made with parmesan broth instead of turkey broth). You can read the recipe here.  The second and third (yes three!) batches were with chicken sausage, the recipe is here. I did make some minor changes to both recipes in that I roughly tore the cornbread into pieces and toasted them in a 325 degree F until they were beginning to brown and crisp on the edges. I think that step improved the texture of the dressing.

Demolished

Batch number three…

Finished baked Dressing

It is the best leftover with multiple uses…as a bed for poached eggs, as a thickener for a turkey soup, or just reheated in the microwave as a snack. I only make it at two times each year, Thanksgiving and Christmas, my waistline can’t handle any more.

In my kitchen I have Cornish Game Hens cooked sous vide. You have to spatchcock them before vacuum packing and cooking under water for 1 1/2 hours at 161 degrees F. They were brushed with a mix of garlic, orange zest and paprika before cooking. I broiled them for a few minutes after they were done to give them some color.

Sous Vide Cornish Game Hens

Sous Vide Cornish Game Hens

We were very happy with the results.

With the cooler wet weather I have been craving more carb heavy meals, but at the same time I avoid eating a lot of wheat products. So I am interested to try this paleo grain free flour. Pancakes are in my future.

Paleo Baking Flour

Paleo Baking Flour

Have any of you tried it? If so, what do you think and what did you make?

To go along with those pancakes, some wonderful small batch maple syrup.

Maple Syrup

Runamok Maple Syrup

In my kitchen I have some Artisan crackers, these will be very welcome with cheese in the upcoming holidays.

Artisan Crackers

Artisan Crackers

And lastly in my kitchen I have some toasted tahini. I haven’t tried it but I will be making multiple batches of hummus and will let you know if there is a significant difference to my usual preferred brand.

Obour Toasted Tahini

Obour Toasted Tahini

From my kitchen I can see the lights of our Christmas tree. I’ve been collecting ornaments for many years and inherited them from my parents as well. There are many wonderful memories of past holidays and loved ones connected to the ornaments in the tree.

2019 Christmas Tree

2019 Christmas Tree

I’m connecting this post to a virtual blogging party at Sherrys Pickings. It’s the last “In My Kitchen” of 2019, oh my! Please follow the link to read what is going on in kitchens far and wide.

Happy holidays everyone!

November – Roast Brussels Sprouts with Pickled Carrots and Citrus Dressing

November – Roast Brussels Sprouts with Pickled Carrots and Citrus Dressing

Roasted Brussels sprouts, sliced pickled carrots, walnuts, cilantro and a citrus vinaigrette. Is it a salad? Or a side? In fact, it is both as it can be served warm or at room temperature but not cold. If you make it ahead, pull it out of the fridge at least 20 minutes before serving. It might qualify as the perfect side for your holiday dinner, make it a few hours ahead to free up your oven. Add roasted cooked farro or another grain for a vegetarian main meal. It’s pretty as well with the fall colors of orange carrots and bright green sprouts, roasted to dark caramelized perfection.

This recipe came from Six Seasons, A New Way with Vegetables by Joshua McFadden. I love the inventiveness of his recipes and am slowly cooking my way through the book. The premise is that there are actually six seasons, not just four…spring, early summer, midsummer, late summer, fall and winter. I think farmer’s markets and our own gardens would support that idea.

Brussels Sprouts with Pickled Carrots, Walnuts, Cilantro and Citrus Vinaigrette

Brussels Sprouts with Pickled Carrots, Walnuts, Cilantro and Citrus Vinaigrette

Brussels Sprouts with Pickled Carrots, Walnuts, Cilantro and Citrus Vinaigrette

(serves 2-3 but can be easily doubled)

Ingredients:

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed and peeled
  • 3/4 pound of Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • About 1/3 cup roughly chopped or sliced pickled carrots, either store-bought or home made
  • 1/2 cup of chopped toasted nuts, walnuts or pecans or hazelnuts
  • 1 bunch of scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced (white and light green parts)
  • 1/4 cup of citrus vinaigrette
  • 1/2 cup of lightly packed and chopped cilantro leaves (I was able to find baby leaves)
  • 1/2 cup of lightly packed and chopped flat leaf parsley leaves
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat Add 1/4 cup of olive oil and the garlic, cook until the garlic is soft and golden brown, watch carefully and reduce the heat if it is browning too quickly. Garlic turns bitter if allowed to burn.
  2. Scoop out the garlic and set it aside.
  3. Increase the heat and add the Brussels sprouts, cut side down. Season well with salt and pepper and cook until the sprouts are cooked all the way through, browned but not mushy. This will take about 8-10 minutes.
  4. Return the garlic to the pan, crushing it to break it up and mix with the sprouts.
  5. When the sprouts are cooked to your liking, remove the pan from the heat and add the pickled carrots, half the nuts, and all the scallions. Toss to mix and warm the new ingredients.
  6. Spoon the vinaigrette over the sprouts and toss again. Add half the cilantro and parsley.
  7. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
  8. Right before serving, add more vinaigrette if needed, along with the rest of the nuts, parsley and cilantro.

Citrus Vinaigrette:

  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lime
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 tablespoon Champagne or white wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  1. Zest all the citrus with a microplane or small rasp style grater into a bowl.
  2. Halve the fruit and squeeze all the juice into the same bowl, removing any seeds.
  3. Whisk in the honey, vinegar, 1 teaspoon of salt and several turns of your pepper mill.
  4. Taste and adjust, if needed.
  5. Whisk in the olive oil, a few drops at a time. For a more emulsified and creamy vinaigrette do this in a blender, drizzling in the olive oil as the machine is running.
  6. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Brussels Sprouts with Pickled Carrots, Walnuts, Cilantro and Citrus Vinaigrette

Brussels Sprouts with Pickled Carrots, Walnuts, Cilantro and Citrus Vinaigrette

I am taking this one to Fiesta Friday #305 over at Angie’s place. Please come join the party with lots of ideas about crafts, food, and travel. This week is is co-hosted by myself.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, hard to believe the Christmas holiday is only a few weeks away. Whew!

In the Garden – November 2019

We are still waiting for the winter rains to start, i don’t remember them ever being so late. In truth, I am tired of watering and look forward to reading seed catalogs in front of a warm fire with a cup of tea. But instead, I am digging a new garden bed and putting in plants. I was inspired by my friend Wendy in Berkeley because I helped her design and plant a new garden. And my husband was even in favor of the plan, which surprised me. He’s the one that has to do the watering if I am away. The empty spots will be filled with dahlias that I have ordered and will arrive sometime in March.

New Garden BEd

New Garden Bed

The plants include large number of salvias plus some other plants that I know do well here. We still have to work on the path. I’ve positioned it where the dogs run, so hopefully they will stay off the plants.

Dogs and garden

Mom, do we really have to stay off the garden?

The vegetable garden has slowed considerably but I have baby chard, lettuce, carrots, radishes and kale. I planted snap peas a couple of weeks ago and I see the first small sprouts. I hope to plant my sweet pea flowers by early next week, I’ve ordered a trellis and am waiting for it to arrive. I do love sweet peas and now is the time to seed them, they need the winter rains to develop strong roots. I look forward to flowers in May and June.

Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

The artichoke plants are looking very healthy and bushy. Hopefully I will get some artichokes come spring.

Artichoke Plants

Artichokes

My time this month as been spent weeding, mulching, and cutting almost everything except the salvias back. The salvias are still blooming and are am important source of nectar for the hummingbirds.

Thank you for taking the time to visit my garden. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

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 pre-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 straining

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

I am taking this useful recipe to Fiesta Friday #303. Please do stop by Angie’s place for holiday recipe, decorating and travel ideas.  The co-hosts this week are Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau and Antonia @ Zoale.com.

 

 

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.