In My Kitchen – October 2018

In My Kitchen – October 2018

It is sooo… good to be back in my kitchen! My traveling (we had such wonderful adventures) is over for a few months. I will tell you about it in another post, but it has been a whirlwind of a summer. In June we were in Tennessee visiting family, July on a cruise to Alaska, September hiking in Italy, and then immediately off to the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon. It’s why you haven’t heard from me in a while, and why I have been out of my kitchen. But now I am back, in both the kitchen and garden.

October is my absolute favorite month of the year. Fall is definitely here, the air is full of a cool crispness, time to break out the sweaters and boots. Thankfully the heritage tomatoes are still in the stores for my last-minute cravings of Greek and caprese salads. Or a simple meal of perfectly ripe tomatoes, thickly sliced, on crisp grilled country style bread…maybe a little flaked sea salt and a drizzle of good olive oil. Heaven!

So being said, the first thing in my kitchen is a variety of wonderful fresh tomatoes, a few from my own garden (although it is looking pretty sad right now, I will be posting some pictures). The rest from elsewhere.

Heirloom Tomatoes from Ashland and my garden

Ashland is significantly warmer than Fort Bragg, definitely a tomato growing region. I couldn’t turn down gifts from my friend’s garden and the local store before driving back home this past Sunday.

Not looking sad at all are the dahlia plants in my garden. As soon as I arrived home I picked  enough for a large bouquet on the kitchen counter. Having fresh flowers in the house brings me into my happy place. I have tried to plant in my garden so I will have some flowers and/or greenery year round. It keeps me and the pollinators happy. More about that in another post about the garden in October.

Dahlias

Dinner Plate Dahlia

The blooms are huge, dahlias really thrive here on the coast.

In my kitchen I have 4 new pottery bowls from Tagliaferro Ceramics. They sell gorgeous rustic serving and other dinner ware items. These are seconds, they were handmade and came from a shop in Ashland. I love the mismatched natural shapes, light grey color and interesting glazing. I think they will add that certain something to photos and will be perfect for fall soups and stews.

See what I mean?

Chili anyone?

With the cooler weather I pulled out my electric pressure cooker, not an Instant Pot but very close. Now in my kitchen I have a big batch of vegetarian black bean chili…made without pre-soaking the beans. Yes you can do that with the electric pressure cooker. Delicious, perfectly cooked black beans in about an hour! I will post the recipe.

Also new in my kitchen is this lovely kitchen plank.

Do you see the face? It is made from antique California Chestnut Oak by Meadowlark Woods in Talent, Oregon (outside Ashland). Here is a link to their etsy page and their Facebook page. The plank is quite large and perfect for serving cheese, bread, and charcuterie. I fell in love with similar ones while we were in Italy. They were on all the buffets covered with delicious food.

Both of these items were found in a little store in Ashland called Nest. If you are ever up there I recommend paying them a visit.

In my kitchen I have a new mandolin. This is a plastic one made in Japan, very inexpensive. I had an expensive stainless steel one that never worked well (except to slice my finger), it was donated when we were cleaning out the house in Oakland. Then I realized that certain dishes really require thin and even slices. My knife skills are not quite up to snuff. I got this one on Amazon.

Mandolin

And lastly in my kitchen I have a new cookbook, appropriately titled In My Kitchen by Deborah Madison. I use her vegetarian cookbooks all the time (since I was first introduced to her cooking at the San Francisco restaurant Greens). It was one of the first all vegetarian restaurants in the Bay Area. I recommend going there if you get to San Francisco, it is right on the marina and a lovely place to walk.

In My Kitchen by Deborah Madison

This one is a collection of her new and favorite vegetarian recipes. None of them seem very complicated and they are all colorful and fresh, not overly carbohydrate heavy.

This post is part of a monthly round-up of kitchen stories from around the world. It is hosted by Sherry of Sherrys Pickings. I haven’t been around since June and am very happy to be back and part of the group. Take a peak and see what going on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August – Salad Soup

August – Salad Soup

This hot, muggy, humid, uncomfortable month in parts of the U.S. has birthed a number of recipes for Greek salad. All of them are delicious and cooling, taking advantage of perfect seasonal tomatoes and cucumbers. This soup is a version of gazpacho, but very similar to a Greek salad. It uses many of the same ingredients and is a light, cold lunch on a hot day. Even better, it is easy…very easy. And, you can modify the recipe to use what you have on hand.

I call this recipe Greek or Mexican (you decide) salad in a soupy bowl of goodness, but without the dressing (only a drizzle of olive oil at the end, which is completely optional). It has healthy vitamins from all those vegetables, and healthy fat from the addition of avocado. You could up the protein by adding a sprinkling of feta or fresh goat cheese, or pour it over a scoop of cottage cheese. Make it spicy, or not. Got some leftover salsa in the fridge? Go for it. What about some crispy tortilla chips sprinkled on top (my husband’s favorite). It would then be a Mexican Salad Soup…you could even add a handful of corn kernels. Leftover grilled corn, you are on! And if you are adding tortilla chips a dollop of sour cream would be yummy. The options are endless.

Greek Salad Soup

This soup is even better the second day, and even better the day after that. It is my idea of a perfect lunch on a warm day. The vegetables give it a satisfying crunch and mouth appeal, the avocado is a touch of richness to fill you up. This season I keep a large bowl in the fridge to snack on or for a quick meal. Serve it instead of a salad with your dinner, it would make an appetite wetting first course with some crisp bread or flatbread.

To save time, I used V-8 juice as the base. It’s an idea my cousin in Tennessee introduced me to when we visited last June. Because I am a fan of spicy food, I added a small can of spicy V-8 to about 3 cups of regular V-8. But it is completely up to you and your own taste.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of V-8 juice
  • 1 small can of spicy V-8 juice (optional)
  • 1 red pepper, diced into cubes about 1/4″
  • 1 green or orange pepper, diced into cubes about 1/4″
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled if necessary, diced into cubes about 1/4″
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and diced into cubes about 1/4″
  • 4-5 scallions, sliced thinly
  • 1 avocado, halved and diced
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley (for Greek Soup) or cilantro (for Mexican)
  • salt to taste (I found it didn’t need any)
  • drizzle of olive oil to serve (optional)

Avocado ready to add

Method:

  • Combine all the ingredients and chill for at least 2 hours (better overnight).

That is all, can you believe it! It couldn’t be easier.

Salad Soup

This is a light, healthy, and quick lunch.

Salad Soup

You could serve it instead of a salad, maybe as a first course for dinner. What about small cups for folks to eat while they wait for you to grill dinner outside? It’s could easily be a walk-around the garden soup.

Salad Soup

Even better, it is vegetarian and vegan and gluten free. You won’t have to worry about dietary restrictions.

I think the folks in the midwest and south, where it is sweltering at the end of summer, will enjoy this refreshing soup. I’m taking it to share on Fiesta Friday #237 hosted by Angie. This weeks co-hosts are Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Diann @ Of Goats and Greens

Come on over to read about the other delicious things going on around the world. Please add your own link after reading the guidelines. Hope you are enjoying the weekend.

 

 

 

In the Garden – July 2018

In the Garden – July 2018

I hope you enjoyed the Fourth of July holiday if you are reading this in the U.S. On the coast the town of Mendocino hosts an old time parade which is quite a community event. Labor Day is the time Fort Bragg has its own parade. An example of the cooperation between the two cities, only a few miles apart.

 

We appreciate our volunteer firefighters and Cal Fire personnel in Mendocino County and they lead the parade. The summer fire season has been devastating to so many communities and is a constant worry. I must admit to tearing a little as these brave men and women from communities up and down the Northern California coast drove very noisily by sirens blasting.

But, now on to events in the garden.

Summer is here and I find It is at that “in between” stage. In between the lush new growth of spring (which is now sprawling, overgrown and starting to go to seed) and the not-quite-yet growth of summer flowers.

New this month are the tomatoes and zucchini planted in half wine barrels. Although the tomatoes are still green and I don’t expect ripe ones until the end of August, the zucchini are already productive.

Green tomatoes

Zucchini

First harvest of zucchini

With the warm weather we have been able to set up a couple of outside seating and eating areas, plus chairs around an outdoor fire-pit for star watching and the making of s’mores. Are you familiar with them? They are a traditional summer camping dessert. to make them you melt and brown a marshmallow on a stick over an open fire and sandwich it with a chocolate square between two graham crackers. The hot marshmallow melts the chocolate and makes a very messy but delicious treat.

It’s lovely to set and watch the birds, especially the darting hummingbirds. I find myself resenting any time that I need to stay inside.

Here are a few shots of the flower gardens.

I’ve started to cut back the California poppies; they will put out a second bloom later this summer although not as profusely or as tall. They were starting to sprawl everywhere and cut off the sun of other plantings in addition to setting seed.

The sweet peas are blooming in the half wine barrel, one of my favorite flowers. I wasn’t sure they would do well in a container but it has worked very well.

Sweet peas

 

I’ve saved some of the seeds of the poppies and am hoping they will reseed themselves for next year. It’s been exciting to find out what will succeed in this coastal climate with sandy soil compared to the had clay I had in Oakland.

There are new plants going in…more snapdragons, coral colored yarrow, pink nicotina, blue penstemons, sunflowers, hummingbird mint, and a burgundy leaved tea tree. Look for more about these next month.

New plants

Next week we depart on an Alaska cruise with friends so I am not sure how much gardening I will be able to do in the coming weeks. Fingers crossed that my house sitter will keep things alive while we are gone. The dogs are already disturbed by the open suitcases as we pack for the trip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June – Chickpea Crusted Chicken Filets with Crispy Chickpeas

June – Chickpea Crusted Chicken Filets with Crispy Chickpeas

Do you ever crave something juicy and yet crunchy? What about gluten and egg free? If you are avoiding gluten, sometimes it is difficult to find both. But these flavorful “breaded” filets will satisfy your craving. Even better, these chicken filets are completely grain-free since they are coated with healthy chickpea crumbs instead of flour or panko. You can find these crumbs at better grocery stores, be on the lookout. I’ve seen them on Amazon but you need to buy a case, a bit too many packages unless you can get a group together for the purchase.

Even if you are not avoiding gluten or other grains, these chicken filets are just plain yummy. You could even turn them into a chicken parmesan. Add some grated parmesan to the crumbs, once they are cooked, coat with a delicious tomato sauce, cover with a slice of melty mozzarella and run under the broiler for a minute. There you go!

Chickpea Crumbs

I seasoned the crumbs with Toasted Fennel Spice, a mixture from Michael Chiarello’s Casual Cooking. I’ve made this spice mix many times and often give it as Christmas gifts.

Fennel Spice

Here is a link to the recipe. Fennel Spice is a mixture of toasted fennel, coriander, black peppercorns, chili flakes, and chili powder. It also calls for ground cinnamon, which I sometimes leave out. It’s delicious with poultry, also pork and fish.

When coating the chicken you can dip it into egg first; or do as I did and dip the filets into the liquid from a can of chickpeas or garbanzo beans, it is called aquafaba. Aquafaba is used in many recipes as a vegan replacement for egg whites. It’s amazing stuff! You can make anything from meringues and macarons to marshmallows and more. It acts as a binder, leavening agent, emulsifier, or anything an egg white traditionally does—but without the cruelty or cholesterol. Actually I just learned that the juice from other canned beans have the same properties, great northern are somewhat milder. Anyway, if you are avoiding eggs for any reason, try aquafaba. Use this link and the one above for some ideas.

Anyway, I dipped the pounded chicken thighs in aquafaba before coating in chickpea crumbs, then served roasted chickpeas with the filets. They got a triple dose of chickpeas. All were additionally flavored with Toasted Fennel Spice.

IMG_7591

Breaded thighs ready for the oven

Chickpea Crusted Chicken Filets with Toasted Fennel Spice Mix

IMG_7598

Chickpea crusted chicken with Fennel Spice

Ingredients:

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or breasts)
  • 1 cup of chickpea crumbs
  • 1 can of chickpeas or garbanzo beans, drained but liquid saved
  • 1 tablespoon or more of toasted spice
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Parsley for garnish

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, coat one lightly coat with olive oil.
  3. Add the liquid from the can of chickpeas to a shallow pan.
  4. Spread the garbanzo crumbs in another shallow pan, season with the toasted spice and salt and freshly ground pepper
  5. Flatten the chicken thighs or breasts between two pieces of waxed paper using a heavy rolling pin or mallet. You want them to be of uniform thickness.
  6. Dip the thighs first in the aquafaba, then into the crumbs, coating both sides. Place each on the baking sheet in a single layer. Spritz lightly with olive oil.
  7. Spread the drained garbanzos or chickpeas on the second sheet, sprinkle with lightly with olive oil and season with more Toasted Fennel Spice.
  8. Bake for about 30 minutes until the chicken is browned and cooked through, and the garbanzo beans are crisp. The beans might be done before the chicken so check periodically.
  9. Serve garnished with parsley.

    IMG_7600

    Crunchy crisp chickpeas

 

I think I will take this one to the Fiesta over at Angies, it’s Fiesta Friday #229 and I am the co-host this week. Come on over, and please add your own link. Make sure to read the directions though so you are included in the voting.

June – Lemony Chicken Wings with Potatoes

June – Lemony Chicken Wings with Potatoes

Here is a one dish dinner, you only need a salad or some type of green vegetable to round things out. Chicken wings are a popular item this time of year. Use the smallest new potatoes or fingerlings available, or cut larger new potatoes into halves or quarters.

Lemon Chicken Wings with Potatoes

Perfect food for eating outside on the first warm summer evening.

This is more a Mediterranean/Greek style dish than your traditional bar snack chicken wing recipe. You can use the larger drumette portion of the wing or the midsection or even the entire wing. I had to use a mixture, with the onset of grilling season (and the basketball finals) chicken wings were in short supply. These wings are baked with wine, lots of lemon slices, olive oil, garlic, rosemary, plenty of black pepper and s pinch of red pepper flakes. The potatoes bake in the juices, both are delicious right out of the oven but the leftovers were good as well at cool room temperature.

These chicken wings come from the oven crispy brown in places, as do the potatoes. This is finger food so provide lots of napkins.

Roasted Lemon Chicken Wings with Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds very small potatoes, such as fingerlings, whole or use medium-size yellow-fleshed potatoes cut in halves or wedges
  • 3 pounds chicken wings
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 small lemons (prefer organic unwaxed), cut in to 1/4 inch half moon slices
  • 6 large rosemary sprigs, leaves stripped
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup dry white wine or rose
  • chopped fresh or dried oregano for garnish (I didn’t have any available and used arugula)

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Rinse potatoes (trim if necessary) and pat dry.
  2. Spread the chicken wings on a baking sheet or cutting board in one layer. Season both sides of the wings with salt and freshly ground pepper, sprinkle with red pepper flakes as desired.
  3. Transfer the seasoned wings to a large bowl. Add olive oil, lemon slices, rosemary and garlic. Toss well to coat the wings.
  4. Place the potatoes in the bottom of a roasting pan. Arrange the seasoned wings and lemons slices over the potatoes in a single layer. Add the wine and cover the pan tightly with foil.
  5. Bake, covered, for about 45 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Remove the foil and increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees F.
  6. Replace the pan in the oven and bake for another 20 minutes or until browned.
  7. Turn the wings and bake for another 20 minutes so both sides are brown and crisp.
  8. Serve hot or cool to room temperature, garnished with fresh or dried chopped oregano if available.

 

Roast Lemony Chicken Wings with Potatoes

Browned Lemon Chicken Wings

Lemony Chicken Wings

The lemon slices end up being sweet and the juices just needed you to mash a few potatoes to soak it up.

This recipe came from the New York Times, from the City Kitchen by David Tanis.

I am taking it to share with Angie and the rest of the party at Fiesta Friday #229. And and guess what, I am the co-host this week. Click on the link to see all the lovely blog posts that are on the list. And please, read the link directions and add your own.