May 2021 – In My Kitchen

May 2021 – In My Kitchen

This post is part of a monthly roundup of goings on in kitchens around the world. It’s hosted by Sherry of Sherry’s Pickings. Please consider joining and adding your own monthly update.

We had our first weekend guests at start of this month (who were vaccinated and actually allowed indoors) since the pandemic started 14 months ago. Although it was sunny during the day, evenings were chilly and we were able to beat a welcome retreat inside for dinner.

To celebrate we had these stunning botanical gin and tonics featuring elderberry tonic garnished with flowers and herbs from the garden. Spring is definitely here.

Botanical Gin and Tonic

Botanical Gin and Tonic

Along with buttermilk brined beer can BBQ chicken, I served this delightful celery and lentil salad. Along with crisp crusted local sourdough, it was an easy and delicious meal.

 

In my kitchen there have been new salads that are perfect for serving with spring and summer cookouts.

Curried Sweet Potato Salad

Curried Sweet Potato Salad – I’ll have some of that!

A curried sweet potato salad with cashews and creamy goat cheese served with a simple grilled steak.

In my kitchen I have a new Korean pepper paste made with brown rice and red peppers.

Gochujang

Gochujang

While considering what to make for dinner in my kitchen, I saw a recipe for Spicy Fire Chicken (it was also called Maangchi’s Cheese Buldak) in the NY Times food section and was intrigued. Truthfully cooking has become somewhat tedious and the recipe was outlandish and completely out of my usual comfort zone. Here is a link to a YouTube video of Emily Kim (she is the Korean web star known as Maangchi) preparing the dish. I was able to order the rice and red pepper paste on Amazon. And although I fully intended to try the dish, when I tasted a spoonful of the paste it was HOT! So much so that I questioned the wisdom of cooking with it and imagined the hours of heartburn that might result. To the rescue came another very simple recipe using it. This time a simple marinade of equal parts gochujang and honey with a splash of soy sauce and olive oil. To my surprise the comments said that it was not overly spicy. And it was true. So true that I don’t have pictures because we wolfed down the dish before I could pull out my camera! The marinated skirt steak was delicious, it was not hot at all but had a wonderful depth of flavor. I will try and restrain myself long enough to post it next time.

In my kitchen was (all gone now) a cheesecake made with labne. The recipe is from the cookbook Nothing Fancy by Alison Roman. She called it Sweet and Salty Cream Cheese Tart, it’s made with a crust of Ritz crackers and includes grapefruit juice. It appealed to me because it wasn’t overly rich or sweet, and it was easy to prepare (very important). I don’t usually make desserts, preferring savory over sweet.

Sweet and Salty Cheese Tart

Sweet and Salty Cheese Tart

 

Sweet and Salty Cheese Tart

Sweet and Salty Cheese Tart

It cracked a little in the center when cooling but a few fresh raspberries concealed it.

Lastly in my kitchen I made a sheet pan coconut fish and tomato bake. I will post the recipe because it was wonderful. Stay tuned.

Sheet Pan Coconut Fish and Tomatoes

Sheet Pan Coconut Fish and Tomatoes

The rockfish was purchased fresh off the boat in Noyo Harbor. I served it with fresh asparagus and a creamy combination of mashed potatoes and pureed roast cauliflower (left over from a previous meal).

What’s new in your kitchen this month?

In My Kitchen – April 2021

In My Kitchen – April 2021

In My Kitchen is a collection of blogs from around the world. Please join us to find new recipes, ingredients, utensils (an occasional indispensable appliance) and views from kitchens and talented cooks from both hemispheres. A big thank you to Sherry for hosting us at Sherrys Pickings.

What’s new in my kitchen? I purchased these lovely blue/grey bowls when window shopping in Mendocino, CA. I fell in love with the rustic blue/grey glaze. They are the perfect size for snacks while binge watching Netflix. I have a weakness for bowls and would gladly use them instead of a plate most days.

In My kitchen there is a multitude of citrus; lemons, limes and mandarins (or clementines) fill my favorite cloth bowl. It was a Christmas gift from my friend Diane in Florida. I can’t wait to start traveling again and visit her. We’ve been friends ever since we met at homecoming my senior year in college.

Citrus

Citrus and a couple of avocados

I see a couple of ripening avocados in there as well.

I have used some of the mandarin oranges to make roasted chicken with Cuties (or clementines or mandarins or you could even use regular oranges). It’s a simple sheet pan dinner full of sunny flavor.

In my kitchen I have some confit tuna. The recipe came from Melissa Clark’s book Dinner. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out and it used a couple of cups of olive oil, but it was delicious and didn’t taste oily at all.

I served it over some steamed Brussels sprouts with a couple of tablespoons of the oil drizzled over. Leftovers made absolutely the best tuna salad! The tuna was rubbed with harissa before poaching in seasoned olive oil.

From the kitchen in our Oakland home I can see orchids. These are the perfect plant for a place that is only visited a couple of times a month (at least now that most urban events are cancelled). They only need a good watering every two weeks to stay beautiful and the blooms last for months.

orchids

orchids

These are in a grey stand that my friend Peggy gave me for Christmas. I matches the overall urban industrial vibe of the condo.

One of the first things I do when I arrive at the condo and plan to stay for a few days is purchase flowers. You can never have too many flowers, and I love the scent of these lilies.

Lilies

Lilies

These are sitting on the kitchen counter where I can see them from everywhere.

In my kitchen are the leftovers from making buttermilk brined roast chicken. This is a simple recipe that is next on the lis

Buttermilk Brined Roast Chicken

Buttermilk Brined Roast Chicken

Brining in salty buttermilk results in the most delectable juicy white meat and crisp skin. It is absolutely a game changer.

Buttermilk Brined Roast Chicken

Buttermilk Brined Roast Chicken

In My Kitchen I have served lamb patties this month. These are both gluten and dairy free. The yogurt sauce was made with Oat milk yogurt. I am so excited by the numbers of new ingredients that are dairy free available in stores these days. And some of them are quite delicious.

And very new in my kitchen this past month were guests. Now that we have been vaccinated we can welcome visitors up on the coast to actually stay in our guest room. After a year of social isolation is it heavenly. Our first guests brought their new puppy, Ollie.

Casey, Quinn and Olllie...ready for a walk

Casey, Quinn and Olllie…ready for a walk

From my kitchen on the coast I could watch the dogs playing with each other. They were just as happy as we were.

What’s new in your kitchen this month?

 

In My Kitchen – March 2021

In My Kitchen – March 2021

It’s the In My Kitchen time of the month. Known as IMK, this is a collection of posts from bloggers around the world detailing what is new in their kitchen. You will read about new ingredients, techniques, appliances, kitchen upgrades and gadgets. I’ve been part of the party for several years and have learned a lot. So come on over to Sherry’s Pickings (she hosts it) and read all about our kitchen adventures.

So, what’s new in my kitchen?

The kitchen in Oakland got some nifty new mats. These are waterproof, vinyl and padded for comfort.

Kitchen mats

Kitchen mats

I love the patterns and they make cleaning up spills a cinch. I purchased them through the Food 52 website, they have lots of designs available. Note: I do not receive renumeration from any product recommendation.

Also from Food 52 I purchased a small cast iron spice grinder.

 

I find that purchased ground spices lose their aroma and flavor very quickly. And when I grind them in my mortar and pestle they tend to fly out and land all over the place, including the floor and even in my hair. This small grinder allows me to grind just the amount I need for a recipe, and keeps everything where I want it…not the floor and certainly not on me.

In My Kitchen I have a couple of new cookbooks. These are vegetarian and vegan, which I am not. However, the recipes are wonderful and creative. Many of us are pursuing a more plant based diet and I recommend both of them.

First Mess is vegan, but you certainly wouldn’t feel deprived eating anything you created from this book. The pictures made my mouth water.

Description from Amazon: “Home cooks head to The First Mess for Laura Wright’s simple-to-prepare seasonal vegan recipes but stay for her beautiful photographs and enchanting storytelling. In her debut cookbook, Wright presents a visually stunning collection of heirloom-quality recipes highlighting the beauty of the seasons. Her 125 produce-forward recipes showcase the best each season has to offer and, as a whole, demonstrate that plant-based wellness is both accessible and delicious.”

Start Simple is vegetarian and also very creative.

Description from Amazon: “From veteran food writer, recipe developer, and creator of the James Beard Award-winning Jarry magazine comes an innovative approach to vegetarian cooking.

What have I got to eat? It’s a question we ask every time we open up the refrigerator or pantry door. It might be eggs, some cheese, and half a loaf of bread, or a box of wilting greens, garlic, and some sweet potatoes. Though these ingredients may not seem like much to make a delicious meal, recipe developer and author Lukas Volger knows it’s all you need. In Start Simple he offers a radically new, uncomplicated, and creative approach to cooking that allows you to use what you already have on hand to make great meals you didn’t think were possible.”

I am looking forward to cooking from them both and sharing my favorites with you.

I’ve been playing around with the air fryer that I received for Christmas. Vegetables cooked in it have been a big hit. There isn’t any vegetable that I don’t enjoy roasted, now I don’t have to turn on the oven for a small batch. So far the biggest successes have been with Brussels sprouts, delicata squash, and mushrooms.

You will find the recipe for the mushrooms here. Both the squash and the Brussels sprouts were cooked at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes with a shake in the middle. Cutting the delicata into slightly thicker slices seemed to work the best. The middle was meltingly soft but the outside was delightfully charred. When in season, delicata squash is my favorite of the winter squashes because the peal is edible. I love tossing them in a salad along with crunchy nuts, sharp red onion, arugula and a mustardy dressing…cubes of sharp cheddar cheese optional.

In the air fryer, I have also cooked a pork tenderloin and chicken cutlets. I’ll post the chicken cutlet in the next few days. The pork tenderloin was very successful. Bone in chicken thighs were less successful, but a bone in chicken breast turned out juicy and delicious.

The chicken cutlets I used boneless and skinless breasts, cut in half horizontally, then breaded and cooked in the air fryer with only a few drops of oil. Stay tuned for the recipe, it still needs a little fine tuning.

Air fryer chicken cutlets

Air fryer chicken cutlets

I’ve been having fun with it, I only wish it didn’t take up so much space on the counter.

In My Kitchen I have a batch of moonlight cherry tomatoes. This year I have found the cherry tomatoes in the grocery store lacking in flavor. I don’t remember this being the case last year but it certainly seems to be this year. Have any of you readers found the same thing? Anyway, I decided to try an idea from the barefoot contessa to concentrate the flavors by roasting them overnight. It’s an easy recipe…preheat your oven to 450 degrees F, cut the cherry tomatoes in half, lay them cut side up on a parchment or foil covered sheet pan, sprinkle with a little salt and olive oil (my mother used to add a tiny drop of brandy). Put the sheet in the oven, turn off the heat, and leave them overnight. That’s why they are called moonlight tomatoes. It did help concentrate and sweeten the tomatoes, they were excellent stirred into scrambled eggs the next morning.

Moonlight cherry tomatoes

Moonlight cherry tomatoes

And finally, in my kitchen I always have my trusty sidekicks. Although their attention is completely self serving, they hope I will be clumsy and drop a tidbit.

Casey

Casey – are you going to share a slice of that pork with me?

Quinn

Quinn – play fair, you can’t give my sister something and not share with me!

What’s happening in your kitchen this month?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In My Kitchen – February 2021

In My Kitchen – February 2021

This post is part of a fascinating collection of blogs from around the world. In My Kitchen posts (also known as IMK) are about kitchen (and maybe garden) happenings over the past month. They could include dishes that have been cooked, pickled or preserved foods, herbs and veggies from the garden, plus new and interesting kitchen gadgets and other goings-on… You’ll find almost anything kitchen related. Since the blogs come from around the world (both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere) it’s an international gathering. Please join us over at Sherrys Pickings, add your own post or simply have a good read.

My February is being consumed by the move from out apartment in Oakland to our new (to us) condo, also in Oakland. We’ve been doing some renovations before the big move which happens in 10 days. Oh my, there is still a ton to do! I have only just started packing.

New cabinet doors in the kitchen and the bathrooms were installed last weekend. The painting of the entire unit continues and hasn’t yet been completed. Our painter has assured us that it will be completed at least 5 days before the move. Fingers crossed!

Consequently the cooking part of my life has been fairly simple and uninteresting, although nourishing.

But…stay tuned for next month when there will be lots of new things. The same day we move out, our daughter is moving into her own place. Consequently we are dividing up the contents of our current kitchen. We each have our favorite pots, pans and utensils so there is a lot of negotiating.

On to some details about the remodel. For such a beautiful place, the cabinets were shockingly awful and in terrible condition. They must have gone with the very lowest bid possible when they first installed them, it shows. They were laminate and particle board with cheap hinges that were hung badly. The cabinet doors didn’t really even fit.

Here are a few pictures of before:

As you can see, the pantry doors were too small. All the doors are hung unevenly, sagging a little on the hinges,  and the line of doors over the stove side of the kitchen don’t match in height.

The new cabinet doors are the same color, but actual maple with brass pulls. They did a beautiful job.

Just as an aside, the orange wall hasn’t been painted yet (and the disco ball light fixture will be replaced at some point).

Oakland Condo After

Oakland Condo After

It was the view that sold us on this particular unit. You can see the port of Oakland and San Francisco off to the right. By the way, this picture was taken from the kitchen window.

View from new condo

View from the kitchen, new Oakland condo

The waterfront at Jack London Square is only a block away. Restaurants, theaters, coffee houses, breweries and bars are a short walk. There is a Sunday farmer’s market plus lots of walking/running trails along the estuary. It’s quite a contrast to our rural life in Fort Bragg where we will still spend the majority of our time.

But I am looking forward to having a city home as well.

There is one very interesting new thing in my kitchen in Fort Bragg, rice koji. I will use it for shio koji marinades. I read about this on a chef’s blog and was intrigued. Rice koji is rice kernels covered in a fragrant white bloom of Aspergillus oryzae mold. It has been used to make miso, soy sauce, or koji pickles among other things. As rice koji is fermented with water and salt, it thickens into a porridge-like consistency and takes on a sweet funky aroma. You can see the gas from fermenting in the jar on the right. It’s rich in protease and amylase enzymes that can break down proteins and starches. I plan to use it as a marinade for meat, fish and vegetables. It is supposed to impart savory and subtle sweet notes to food as well as tenderize them. I will let you know.

Koji

Koji

It is common in Japanese cooking and currently popular with chefs.

Have any of you out there used it? If so, what are your favorite recipes?

 

Stay well everyone, and get your vaccinations when it is available.

 

In My Kitchen – January 2021

In My Kitchen – January 2021

In My Kitchen is a collection of posts from around the world. You get to read (and see) what happened in December in kitchens far and wide. There are new baking supplies, new utensils, fanciful decorations, time saving devices and even dog stories. Come join us and consider adding your own. Visit Sherrys Pickings: In My Kitchen. 

January 4 is the first day of my annual 30-day healthy eating plan. With a few friends we have been doing this every January for the past 4 years. We cheer each other on and support each other through our individual difficult spots. For some it’s the sugar or carbs, others late night eating, and still others that 5 pm cocktail. It’s time for a reset with an emphasis on whole foods…grains, lean protein, and lots of fruit and vegetables.

This year my goal is to get back into my skinny jeans. My closet sits abandoned as I wear the same yoga pants or tights and sweatshirts day after day. Comfortable but certainly not stylish. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and I want to be ready. Ready to eat in a restaurant, ready to attend a concert, ready to meet my friends, ready to have someone else make me a cocktail, and ready to go back to the gym (if my yoga pants are not worn out by then).

You can find details of the diet and some recipes by clicking on the category “30 day Metabolic Diet” on the right side of my blog. You will need to use your computer as the categories don’t show up on the mobile app.

Here is one to tease you, Phase 1 Greek Chicken Casserole.

So, what’s new in my kitchen?

An air fryer is what’s new, a Christmas gift. I have been lusting after one for several years but was worried about storage. My sister-in-law finally convinced me that it was a good investment. I cooked our Christmas Brussel sprouts in it and they were perfect.

Brussels sprouts in the air fryer

Brussel sprouts in the air fryer

It has a large basket, I expect I can cook most things in one batch. I will be looking for recipes and welcome any suggestions.

In My Kitchen I have some new dishes from Heath Ceramics. I love their heavy weight and nature inspired glazes.

In My Kitchen I also have a beautiful blue woven bowl, a gift from a dear friend.

Blue Woven Bowl

Blue Woven Bowl

I envision it filled with fruit on the kitchen counter.

In My Kitchen I have a box of pears from Harry and David in Oregon. My brother and sister-in-law send us two boxes every Christmas. They are absolutely delicious.

Pears

Pears from Harry and David in Oregon

In My Kitchen it smells fantastic due to making more braised dishes now the winter weather has started. It’s been unusually cold here in N. CA and braised meats are welcome.

I have already posted the recipes for citrus and holiday spiced pulled pork and the slow cooked, spice-rubbed beef with cranberries. Click on the name for the link to the recipe.

From my kitchen I can see our Christmas tree. We will be taking it down in a few days but it makes me happy to see it.

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree 2020

The ornaments have been collected over the years and many come from my parents. There are a few grade school projects still treasured. Tea towels and ornaments come back from our travels, bringing back the memories as we hang them on the tree each year.

I wish you all a healthy and happy 2021.