May – Roast Asparagus with Pickled Asparagus Sauce

May – Roast Asparagus with Pickled Asparagus Sauce

Do you peel your asparagus? Except with the very youngest thin asparagus, you are wasting at least an inch of the flavorful vegetable if you are not. Most folks prepare asparagus by snapping the ends, which can remove as much as a third of the stalk. When it is peeled, by contrast, only about an inch is lost.

I use a vegetable peeler, supporting the stalk with a forefinger so it doesn’t snap prematurely. Peel the bottom third of the stalk, cutting a little deeper at the very end.

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Unpeeled Asparagus Stalks

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Peeled Stalks Ready to “Snap”

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Only About an Inch of Stalk is Lost

Then snap off the very end before cooking.

Save the ends, they make a wonderful asparagus broth for creme of asparagus soup. You can even pop a bag of them into the freezer for the future.

To oven roast asparagus, preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Lay the stalks in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet, spritz with a little olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast 12 minutes for medium sized stalks, it will be shorter for thinner stalks and slightly longer for larger ones.

Let them cool slightly and serve. It is absolutely ok to eat asparagus with your fingers, dipping the stalks into a savory sauce or melted butter. Asparagus is also good served at room temperature, making it perfect for a dinner party or large buffet. I have made it several hours ahead and added a sauce just before serving.

My current favorite is a mixture of pickled asparagus, mayonnaise and sour cream (or creme fraiche). There isn’t really a recipe. I mince pickled asparagus into fine dice using either my food processor or a knife. Combine it with an equal mix of the mayonnaise and sour cream. Taste, add salt or extra pickling liquid if needed. Adjust it to your own liking. You can make the sauce a day ahead, just store it in the fridge until ready to serve.

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Oven Roasted Asparagus with Asparagus Pickle Sauce

Serve extra sauce on the side. I usually leave a few spears “undressed” just in case there are folks who prefer it plain.

Follow the links to see my recipe for pickled asparagus.

I think I will take this to the party at Fiesta Friday #226, it will be lovely as part of the buffet. You can find the link to Angie’s Fiesta Friday blog here. Follow the listed links at the bottom to any of the blogs that interest you. Angie’s cohost this week is Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

If you are a blogger yourself, please add your link to the list.

TGIF everyone!

May – Spicy Quick Radish Pickles

May – Spicy Quick Radish Pickles

What to do with an abundance of radishes left over from a crudite platter? That was the question that needed addressing this morning. The party was last weekend and those radishes needed a solution, there were simply too many of them to use up before they turned brown. The answer, a quick pickle. They will be wonderful with anything on the BBQ or as a quick snack with sharp cheddar cheese.

I found this recipe on the blog site COOKIE+Kate, it was originally posted in May of 2014. I modified it slightly by the addition of cumin seeds, with which I am slightly obsessed.

She slices the radishes very thinly, it makes the pickling process much faster. I don’t have a mandoline (must be one of the very few things not currently crowding my kitchen) and didn’t want to pull out the big food processor, so mine are not sliced quite so thinly. That’s okay though, I want them to have a definite crunch and don’t intend to use them for a couple of days. These will last several weeks in the fridge. IMG_7546 2

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large bunch of radishes
  • 3/4 cup of white wine or apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 3 tablespoons of honey or maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (1 teaspoon yields quite spicy pickles)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of whole mustard seeds (optional, I didn’t have any handy)
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds (my addition)
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns (also my addition)

METHOD:

  1. Prepare the radishes. Cut off the tops and slice into rounds (thin ones will pickle much faster). Pack the radishes into a pint canning jar or larger container if you have more radishes…I had about two bunches and used a quart canning jar.
  2. Add the red pepper flakes, optional mustard, cumin and peppercorns to the top of the jar.
  3. For the brine. In a saucepan (non aluminum) combine the vinegar, water, honey or maple syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Pour the hot liquid over the radishes in the jar and screw on the lid.
  4. Let the mix cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.

If you have sliced them very thinly the pickles will be ready to eat in a few hours. They will keep well for several weeks but will gradually loose their crispness after a week or so (depending on how thinly you sliced them). One bunch will make about a pint jar, depending on how large they are. I had enough for  quart canning jar, a bit worse for wear, that had just been removed from the dishwasher.

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PS There was left over canning liquid since I doubled the recipe. Not wanting to waste anything, I found half of a large red onion languishing in the produce drawer. I sliced it thinly, packed it into a pint canning jar, and added the pickling liquid on top. Quick pickled onions are amazing on burgers or grilled cheese sandwiches, not to mention anything Mexican.

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In My Garden – May 2018

In My Garden – May 2018

Things are blooming, oh my are they blooming! It has been so exciting to see the tiny plants that were put in the ground in March take off and literally take over. I find it difficult to imagine that a tiny plant in a 4 inch pot will, within a few months, turn into a sprawling 2 foot wide plant.

Baby Blue Eyes and California Poppies

You can see why they call this native wildflower baby blue eyes. They will reseed themselves for next year.

Baby Blue Eyes

The California poppies (or state flower) were grown from seed and obviously like it here.

California Poppies

In fact they have almost taken over one of the island beds.

Island Bed with California Poppies

Remember the stock I transplanted from our open house? It not only has repeat bloomed, but has a third bloom.

Deep Purple Stock

And there are lots of other poppies, some planted from seed. With a mixed packet of poppy seeds it is a surprise what comes up. In addition to the California poppies, there are larger ones in shades of red, orange and pink. The bees are loving them; we found a native bumblebee either asleep or completely blissed out in the middle of an orange poppy. You can see how much pollen there is in a single flower.

I plan to collect seed for next year as most of them are annuals and will die back once they finish blooming. The California poppies are considered a short lived perennial. Once they set seed I can cut them back almost to the ground. They will return with a second bloom in the summer but not so vigorously.

The irises that I brought from the Oakland house are blooming although they look a little shell shocked. It might take a year or so for them to adapt. It seems I could have brought a little fungus with them as well so they are not looking as happy as I would like. When I cut them back this fall I will treat with horticultural oil and hope to get it in control for next year. Please comment and let me know if you have successfully countered this problem.

The native Douglas Irises are blooming in the woods as well. We removed three old and overgrown and diseased pine trees. With the new sunlight I notice more of them coming into flower.

And the rhododendrons are finally in bloom.

These very large shrubs were probably planted in the 70’s when the house was originally built. It takes many years for them to reach their current size. I’ve planted 4 new ones since we purchased the house, they are only about 3 feet high and didn’t bloom this year at all. I see new growth though and have high hopes for 2019.

Spring is the most beautiful season in California. Come summer most things go dormant. My garden plan is taking this into account with summer and fall blooming perennials. Most of them are lagging behind and waiting till the weather warms, then it will be their turn to shine.

Remember the Lily of the Valley shrub? It has now put out wonderfully scented flowers. The bees love them, I can see them flying around outside my window as I type this post.

Lily of the Valley Bush

So the garden is buzzing with bees and hummingbirds as well as other pollinators.

I heard the first chirps of baby birds somewhere in the woods this afternoon. Spring is definitely here although our weather has been cool so far.

Thought it would be fun to close with a before and after picture. I’ll try and do this as the year proceeds so you can see the changes with the seasons. Same island bed. You can tell I like a bit of a messy cottage look with a mix of annuals and perennials.

How is your garden doing this spring?

 

 

 

 

 

April – Tahini-Marinated Chicken Thighs with Cherry Tomato Salad

April – Tahini-Marinated Chicken Thighs with Cherry Tomato Salad

That’s a big mouth of a title!  But it belies the ease and absolute deliciousness of this dish. The tahini-marinated chicken thighs finish baking with a crisp coating  and the tomato salad is a preview of coming summer salads. I am finding very acceptable cherry tomatoes at the grocery store right now, even though summer tomatoes are months away. Even nicer, they are often of different types and colors, a good stand-in while we wait for that first amazing local vine ripened tomato.

Tahini-Marinated Chicken Thighs with Cucumber Tomato salad

It’s been awhile since I have had a blog worthy recipe, but this is it folks. I am not sure where I originally found this recipe and apologize for not giving credit. It has been in my files for quite some time, at least a year.

We have been eating very simply lately and I don’t think the blogosphere needs another post for grilled chicken or clean out your refrigerator salad. But it does need this delicious and interesting marinade for chicken. I bet it would be wonderful on fish as well, maybe I’ll try that next time. But back to this one, I used chicken thighs, skin on. You could also use it with breasts or skin off thighs. Keep the bone in though, I think it really does make a flavor difference especially with an overnight marination.

I do recommend that you marinate the thighs overnight, which take a bit of planning. The deep rich taste will make it worthwhile. Use a good brand of tahini, the one I use was highly recommended. It was not in any of my local stores but I found it on Amazon. A good tahini sauce will make a big difference both to this recipe and others such as hummus.

Tahini Sauce – this is the brand I use. Recommended by Yotam Ottolenghi

I made a couple of small modifications from the original recipe. I substituted lime zest and juice for the lemon and used sliced red onion in the salad. Feel free to use lemons if they are handy. I had used up all my lemons making preserved lemons a few weeks ago and forgot to buy them at the market. The ones on my backyard tree are still green.

Tahini-Marinated Chicken Thighs with Tomato and Cucumber Salad

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cup of tahini
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of lime zest
  • 3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons of parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated (I used a microplane)
  • 2 tablespoons grated onion (microplane again)
  • 6 chicken thighs, bone in

Method:

  1. Dry the chicken thighs with a paper towel. You could remove the skin if you want, I didn’t. Place them in a ziplock bag or bowl.
  2. Combine all the marinade ingredients, pour 3/4 of the mix into the bag or bowl with the chicken. Scrunch everything together so the marinade coats each thigh, this is easy to do in a ziplock bag. Keep in the fridge overnight. When I thought about it, I turned the bag over to remix. Reserve the remaining tahini mixture separately in the fridge.
  3. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  4. Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade but try and keep as much sauce on them as possible. Place them on a foil lined baking sheet or in a roasting pan, try to leave a little space between each thigh. Sprinkle them with a little coarse salt. Discard any leftover chicken marinade from the bag or bowl.
  5. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until brown and done, the time will depend on the size of your thighs.
  6. Let the thighs rest while you make the salad.

Tomato and Cucumber Salad

Tomato and Cucumber Salad

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup chopped cucumber, peeled and seeded if necessary
  2. 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved, different colors and types if possible
  3. 1/2 small red onion, sliced
  4. 1/2 cup parsley, roughly chopped
  5. 1 tablespoon mint, roughly chopped
  6. 1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  7. 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  8. coarse salt to taste

Method:

  1. Mix all of the ingredients together and give them a toss.
  2. Serve with the chicken.

Drizzle the extra tahini sauce over the chicken when serving.

Tahini Marinated Chicken Thighs with Tomato Cucumber Salad

The thighs were tender but lightly crisp.

Tahini Marinated Chicken Thighs with Tomato Cucumber Salad

And the tomato salad could be a stand in for this summers coming tomato salads. In the bay area we often have to wait until August or September…a long way away. It wouldn’t hurt to add a chopped avocado if you happen to have one laying around, just saying.

Tahini Marinated Chicken Thighs with Tomato Cucumber Salad

This is a Fiesta Friday worthy recipe. It has been a few months since I joined the party and I think this is one the group will enjoy. This week is is Fiesta Friday #221.

What is Fiesta Friday? It is a gathering of bloggers with links to their posts, all hosted by Angie on her Fiesta Friday site. you can think click on any links that interest you. Angie usually have one or two co-hosts and this week it is Jenny @ Dragonfly Home Recipes.

Each week Angie and her co-host select four outstanding recipes or posts from the previous week’s group to feature. There are some amazing blogs out there!

Please stop by the party.

 

 

In My Kitchen – April 2018

In My Kitchen – April 2018

It’s that time of the month again, time for an update from kitchens around the globe. In My Kitchen (sometimes simply termed IMK) is hosted by Sherry of Sherry’s Pickings. You can read this month’s posts here. You will find a fascinating private tour around an amazing variety of kitchens.

To get on to my own, I am now down to a manageable two kitchens as our Oakland house has sold and we have moved out of temporary digs into a lovely apartment in Oakland. We now have our rural kitchen on the Northern California coast (Fort Bragg, CA); and the urban one in downtown Oakland. The absolute best of two worlds.

This will be your first peak into the new apartment kitchen. The layout is sometimes termed a galley kitchen. Everything is very compact and economical, on two sides opposite each other.

From the kitchen I have a view right into the living/dining area plus greenery from the tree outside the living area window. It works very well indeed.

Much to my joy we were able to bring our antique pine armoire with us to the apartment. It was our coat closet at the house in Oakland. Now my very clever husband was able to repurpose it as a pantry, as well as fitting spice and condiment  shelves on the kitchen closet door.

So, I have tons of storage in a comparatively small space.

The corner window seen from the kitchen is the perfect place for a large houseplant, but so far I haven’t had time to do a proper search. It’s been years since my “hippy” days when houseplants were all over my apartment, now I generally concentrate on my outdoor garden. However, the corner is the perfect spot with tons of indirect light. I discovered (thank you for contacting me Gary), this very helpful article on the best houseplants. Houseplants are actually recommended by NASA because of their positive impact on our home environment. You can read more about the top 35 houseplants by clinking on the link. I found it very helpful in narrowing my search. And will keep you posted on the final results.

Good light even on a rainy day

Best news is that the apartment is near the “Urban Wine Trail”, plus walking distance to the ferry to San Francisco, Bart, and the Oakland waterfront.

Rosenblum Cellars

No, the best part Mom is that we get to be in the apartment with you. Dogs not only allowed but welcomed.

On to what is new in my kitchen.

In my kitchen is this strange fruit. I do volunteer work in the botanical garden in Mendocino and was gifted with it. The tree was growing right through the greenhouse roof. Do you know it? It is called a Tamarillo and also sometimes a tree tomato. The other gardeners were not crazy about the taste but didn’t think they had let it ripen enough. Have any of you tried it? I thought it was beautiful, a lovely color. How do you know when it is ripe?

Tamarillo

In My Kitchen I have this lovely tea towel a friend brought back from her trip to Brittany. It is almost the same color as the tamarillo.

Tea towel from Brittany

In My Kitchen I have preserved lemons. These are Meyer lemons, harvested from the backyard tree in Oakland before the house sale was finalized. Elaine at the Foodbod gave me the idea of using different flavors when preserving them in salt. I drooled over her idea of Christmas flavors. I salted the lemons and let them sit for a week, then added additional lemon juice to cover plus a cinnamon stick, star anise, cardamon pods, and cloves. To the other jar I added turmeric, ginger, peppercorns and chili flakes. They will need to sit for several months before using them. I will let you know how they turn out. You can read more about the process on her link. The ones you preserve yourself are way better than any you can buy at the store.

Lastly, as a result of reading a blog post for bacon fried rice written by Chef Mimi, I ordered this fish sauce on Amazon. It wasn’t available at any of the local stores and was highly recommended by her and several others. I look forward to trying it.

Fish Sauce

Although there are several other new things, I will wait for next month. What is new in your kitchen?