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.

 

January – Spicy Thai Influenced Chicken Thighs

January – Spicy Thai Influenced Chicken Thighs

Spicy chicken thighs redolent with ginger, garlic, lime juice, chili paste and coconut milk. Oh my! These are fantastic. Use the leftovers in the can of coconut milk to make coconut rice, rice cooked in coconut milk and water. I cannot say enough about this combination, yummy.

Thai Inspired Roast Chicken

Thai Inspired Roast Chicken

 

Spicy Thai Influenced Chicken Thighs

Ingredients:

  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs trimmed of any excess fat or skin (you could also use breasts in this menu, bone-in and skin-on preferred)
  • 3″ piece of ginger, grated
  • 5 garlic cloves, grated
  • 3/4 cup of coconut milk, low or full fat
  • 1/4 cup of hot chili paste, use less depending on heat and sensitivity
  • 1/4 cup of lime juice
  • 2 T of brown sugar (optional, I did not use)
  • 1 T of kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro, mint or a combination – for serving

Method:

  1. Combine the ginger, garlic, chili paste, lime juice, sugar (if using), and salt in a bowl with the coconut milk. Whisk or stir to mix. Pour the marinade over the chicken in a bowl or plastic zip lock bag and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 4 hours.
  2. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
  3. Remove the chicken from the marinate, shaking them gently to remove any excess. Place the chicken thighs on a parchment or foil lined lined sheet pan. Bake for about 30-40 minutes depending on your oven and the size of the thighs, or until the skin is brown and the juices run clear.
  4. You can bring any remaining marinade to a boil in a small saucepan, simmer for a few minutes and use as a sauce.
  5. Garnish with cilantro, mint or a combination.
Thai Inspired Roast Chicken

Thai Inspired Roast Chicken

I am taking these over to the folks at Fiesta Friday to share at the virtual blogging party. It’s Fiesta Friday #364 hosted by Angie and cohosted this week by Diann @ Of Goats and Greens and Petra @ Food Eat Love

Come on over, click on the link to Fiesta Friday and read all the blogging post recipes, craft ideas, and decorating tips.

Suitable for phase 3 of the 30 Day Metabolic Diet, remove the chicken skin before serving.

Thai Inspired Roast Chicken

Thai Inspired Roast Chicken

In My Garden – December 2020 to January 2021

In My Garden – December 2020 to January 2021

This post covers December as well as part of January. It’s winter here on the N CA coast and things are definitely taking a rest, it’s wet out so I have been avoiding stepping on the soggy ground or doing any digging. I have ordered some poppies to plant and they will be arriving later this month, so I will need to get out there to get them into the ground. Meanwhile things look a little sad except for the vegetable garden which is producing lots of healthy greens.

The Aussies love this time of year because it is cooler and they can run around without getting too overheated, not to mention all the puddles to jump in.

Most plants are sleeping, waiting for warmer weather. I cut back the spring and summer blooming perennials so the garden is looking a bit empty.

This time of year slugs are a big issue…and big is the word. We have banana slugs here and they can actually grow to the size of a small banana. I have to keep a close watch on things and check the garden each day for signs of damage.

A few things are still blooming and/or starting to bloom.

The Cuphea is in bloom all year.

The rain has brought mushrooms, lots of mushrooms of infinite variety.

Some of them are huge! I don’t know enough about them to name the species so I won’t be eating any of them.

At the end of this month I will plant more lettuce and a row of snap peas.

With the storms the ocean has been wild, we’ve had big waves and I am enjoying walking on the bluff and ocean trails to view them.

I climbed to the top of a small sand dune to take this one and was almost swamped.

I hope you are staying well. The end is in site with the roll out of the vaccine. I personally can’t wait to get back to a restaurant and the gym, not to mention gathering with friends. This has been a long period of isolation. I was ever so happy to see the end of 2020.

Happy New Year!

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.

January – Spice-Rubbed Braised Beef

January – Spice-Rubbed Braised Beef

Spice-Rubbed Braised Beef

Spice-Rubbed Braised Beef

I rarely braise any kind of meat in the summer or spring. Late fall and winter things are different though. Braised foods make your home smell amazing, definitely comfort food in the cold weather. And they usually provide several meals, a bonus these days of seemingly constant cooking.

I’ve made this dish several times now, it’s based on a combination of recipes. One from the New York Times and my own special 5-hour slow cooked beef stew. That one is a favorite on the blog (it was first published in 2016) and I highly recommend it as it’s walk-away-easy as well as delicious. That first recipe uses cubed chunks of beef, this one a chuck or other roast. Use a cut you would use for a pot roast. What’s so special about that recipe? One – there is no pre-searing of the meat, and two – it will cook unattended by you during the afternoon while you do more interesting things. This time I adapted the recipe to a larger roast of beef, rump or chuck or cross rib.

Note: cook this in your oven, not the slow cooker. The liquid amounts are not designed for your slow cooker, or your pressure cooker for that matter.

This is the dish to use up that half bag of cranberries left over from Thanksgiving or Christmas, or one forgotten in your freezer from last year. It’s a reason to stock up on those bags as they are a seasonal item and usually unavailable the rest of the year. The cranberries add a tart but sweet note that is addictive. 

I will let you decide what vegetables to add. Some type of onion is essential but the rest can be varied. What about a bag of those small differently colored potatoes, or young carrots, small boiler onions, shallots…or all of them?

Spice-Rubbed Braised Beef

Spice-Rubbed Braised Beef with baby potatoes

Spiced Braised Beef with Cranberries and Carrots

Spiced Braised Beef with Cranberries and Carrots

The second time I made the recipe I used a bag of those baby carrots in various colors from Trader Joe’s. Both time dinner was a big hit.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 beef rump roast, brisket, or chuck roast
  • 1 large onion, peeled and sliced into half moons
  • 1/2 package of fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1-1/2 cups of tomato juice, V8, or spicy V8 (my favorite)
  • 1 cup chicken stock or water
  • 3 ½ tablespoons of instant tapioca, I used Minute Tapioca
  • 1-1/2 pounds of small boiling onions or shallots, peeled and left whole. Or 2 larger onions, peeled and cut into wedges and/or a dozen small potatoes or a couple of cups of carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks
  • For serving – chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper as needed

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F
  2. In a small bowl combine the paprika, garlic, cinnamon, cardamon, cumin, salt, and pepper
  3. Dry the roast and rub it all over with the spices, let sit for 30 minutes while the oven preheats and you combine the other ingredients.
  4. In a larger bowl combine the juice, stock (or water), wine, and tapioca. Stir to mix and dissolve the tapioca.
  5. Place the roast in a large casserole or baking dish with a lid. Pour the liquid over then add the cranberries.
  6. Nestle the the onions and other vegetables at the sides.
  7. Cover and cook 6 hours.
  8. Uncover and let sit for 20 minutes before serving.
  9. Add the lemon juice and garnish with the parsley.
Spice-Rubbed Braised Beef

Spice-Rubbed Braised Beef

Let this simmer away, undisturbed, while you go for a hike or a walk or a bike ride… You will arrive home to the heavenly scent of slow cooked beef and spices. All you need for a complete meal is a green salad and something to mop up any juices. Mashed potatoes would be excellent here, or polenta, or a loaf of crusty country bread.

Coast trail on the headlands in Fort Bragg CA

Coast trail on the way to the lighthouse – New Year’s Day 2021

Slice and serve a good strong mustard or horseradish along side.

Spice-Rubbed Braised Beef

Spice-Rubbed Braised Beef

Braised Beef with Carrots

Braised Beef with Carrots

It will be fall-apart tender.

January 4 is the first day of our annual 30-day healthy eating plan. With a few friends we do this every year. 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. We have all slid into comfort food the last 10 months. For 30 days we give up empty carbs, sugar, dairy, wheat, caffeine, alcohol and fatty/fried foods. We feed our bodies whole grains, beans, lean meats and lots of fruit and vegetables. It’s a reset. Yes, we usually lose weight but we also speed our metabolisms and reset our taste buds for healthier food. 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.

I wonder if the folks over at the blogging party Fiesta Friday have left over cranberries? I think I will mosey on over there and add this post to the link party. It’s Fiesta Friday #362 hosted by Angie and co-hosted by Petra @ Food Eat Love.

Come on over and join the party. Click on the links to read blogs about food, travel, decorating plus arts and crafts.

As this dish is cooked without any additional fat (strain any off the sauce), it would qualify as a phase 1 or phase 3 dinner.

Again, wishing you a safe, healthy and love filled 2021.