June – In My Kitchen

June – In My Kitchen

At long last I have some things to write about for the In My Kitchen blogging group; truthfully there hasn’t been a lot going on in my kitchen these last couple of months, at least not in the way of interesting food news. We’ve been away on holiday; and when home, involved with the upgrades to our cabin in Fort Bragg. It is finally becoming a real house and not just a holiday cabin. Our contractor has assured us that the new addition will be completed sometime in July, we shall see. Meanwhile the construction team has made real progress now that the rain has stopped. I will be posting pictures of the new bedroom and bath soon, but it doesn’t have much to do with the kitchen so please humor me. After the construction completion, comes the creation of a real garden, both vegetable and ornamental. That will be my own project and I am looking forward to getting my hands in the dirt.

Last weekend I hosted a wedding shower, a real English tea for a good friend’s daughter.

Roses from Wedding Shower

The garden roses put on their best show for table decorations, and I got to appreciate them for a few days after it was over.

Also left over were a few (not many) sandwiches and tea cakes. The mother of the groom made the desserts and they were well worth any extra calories. Aren’t they beautiful?

Tea Cakes

She is a genius and is also planning to bake the wedding cake.

Shower Desserts

We made a big selection of tea sandwiches. All of the usual kinds were represented…egg salad, cucumber and cream cheese, smoked salmon, goat cheese and fig spread, and goat cheese with olive spread.

Tea Sandwiches

Tea Sandwiches

More Tea Sandwiches

I made a few spreads and dips. Cashew hummus and almond sesame were hits. I will be posting the recipes.

Cashew Hummus

Almond Sesame and Curry Dip

Crudites

Also leftover were a few slices of delicious Danish rye sourdough baked by the mother of the groom. She has promised me some starter and the recipe.

Danish Rye

This is a very dense and flavorful bread, meant to be sliced thinly and amazing with the egg salad or cucumber/cream cheese sandwiches.

Mother of the Groom, Bride, and Mother of the Bride

We are all very excited for the happy bride and groom, plus the uniting of two wonderful families.

In my kitchen I have two new cookbooks to feed my passion (maybe it should be termed obsession) for them.

The Spice Companion

The Spice Companion by Lior Lev Sercarz is a comprehensive and knowledgeable guide to spices from around the world and how to use them. To those of us who love trying new flavors, it is a prize. It also has recommendations for new spice mixes, I look forward to trying some of them and will post the best.

And I couldn’t visit the Oaktown Spice Shop without making a couple of purchases. Cyprus citron lemon flake sea salt is fantastic sprinkled over simple roasted asparagus.

Cyprus Citron Lemon Flake Salt

I first read about Marsh Turkish Chili in My Pantry by Alice Waters. It has a great depth of smoky flavor and only moderate heat. It is known as “Maras biberi” in Turkey. The chili flakes are traditionally mixed with olive oil, lemon juice and salt and used to season chicken, lamb, and goat dishes as well as vegetables.

Marash Turkish Chili

Dishing Up the Dirt

Dishing Up the Dirt by Andrea Bemis is the story of tumbleweed farm in Oregon. The recipes are simple but with a twist. I served the roasted beet and carrot lentil salad to my book club earlier in the month, only adapting the recipe a little by adding some curry powder to the lentils.

Roasted Beet & Carrot Lentil Salad with Feta and Yogurt Sauce

Finally from my kitchen I can see Casey and Quinn enjoying the sun and baking themselves on the deck.

Casey and Quinn on the deck, on the lookout for deer and squirrels

This is my June contribution to the “In My Kitchen” series. At the beginning of each month food bloggers worldwide give you a peek into their kitchens. Sherry of Sherry’s Pickings fame is our host, so click on the link and check out what’s happening elsewhere, or better still join in. You have until the 10th of the month to link up.

May in the Kitchen – Roast Spicy Cauliflower with Urfa Biber

May in the Kitchen – Roast Spicy Cauliflower with Urfa Biber

I know, what is cinnamon doing on my cover picture when the title says cauliflower? It’s because this post is about the Oaktown Spice Shop, and roast cauliflower, and the spice Urfa Biber. You get three in one post this time.

Urfa Biber is a purple ripened chile from the Urfa region in SE Turkey, it’s also sometimes called isot chile. It’s carefully dried to retain its oils and has a deep, rich beefy flavor and low but complex heat. I found it to have a unique flavor that combines raisin, tobacco and hints of chocolate. So far I’ve used it in a rub for chicken (with cumin and honey) as well as in a simple dish of roast cauliflower.

Roasting vegetables brings out the most amazing sweetness in them, the charred crispy bits are carmelized and the center becomes meltingly soft. My favorites to roast (and those where I find the biggest change) include Brussels sprouts, potatoes, asparagus, cabbage, and cauliflower. Before I start with this very simple recipe, I want you to come along with me for a short walk through the Oaktown Spice Shop. It’s worth a visit if you come to the SF bay area.

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Roast Cauliflower with Urfa Biber

Roast Cauliflower with Urfa Biber

Simple Roast Cauliflower

  • 1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets, rinsed and dried
  • 1 tablespoon of Urfa Biber
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 2-4 tablespoons of olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Place the cauliflower in a bowl and coat lightly with olive oil, toss with the Urfa Biber and sea salt.
  4. Spread on the baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes, turning halfway through. The cauliflower should be toasty and crusty brown in places but soft in the middle.
Roast Cauliflower with Urfa Biber

Roast Cauliflower with Urfa Biber

November – In My Kitchen

November – In My Kitchen

I can easily spend an hour in a new grocery store or anywhere food related. Exploring farmer’s markets, spice shops, cheese shops, wine shops, or other foodie places is one of travels greatest joys. I’m lucky that my husband is curious and likes to go along, he has the patience of a saint as I poke around and ask questions. Don’t you think that trying out a new ingredient is an adventure and sensory joy?

Following are a few new things I’ve found and brought into my kitchen during the last month.

Urumqui Lamb Rub from Oaktown Spice

Oaktown Spice Shop is a spice store at 530 Grand Avenue in Oakland, CA. They have an amazing variety of spices and house made spice mixes. The folks in this small store are knowledgable about how to use them, they provide recipes, and it’s fun to chat with them. When I was there we exchanged several cooking ideas. It’s a great place to get holiday gifts for your foodie friends. This Urumqi Lamb Rub is hand-mixed, a combination of garlic, cumin, pepper, chili and ginger. I plan to use it this weekend with slow cooked lamb shanks with yogurt. Stay tuned for the recipe on another post if it turns out like I think it will and my mind-tastebuds say it will.

Turmeric

This is fresh turmeric root. I grated it to use in the roasted squash soup (Halloween Soup). It made my hands yellow, but was delicious. I hadn’t realized how quickly ground turmeric lost it’s scent and flavor.

I soaked the peel of Meyer lemons (from my backyard tree) in vodka for making Lemoncello. The peels have been soaking for a month and will be bottled the end of this week, to be stocked in the freezer for the holidays. I like to serve a tiny glass of Lemoncello after dinner as a digestif. It also makes a great gift.

SalinityI found this salt from Salinity in Ashland, OR. It’s flavored with Blue Cheese from the Rogue Valley. They recommended using it as a finishing salt on a butternut squash soup. I’m looking forward to trying it.

These vegetable wraps (called GemWraps) came from in a store in Ft. Bragg, CA. They are made entirely from fruits and veggies, gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan. There are several different kinds, this one is mango chipotle but I also bought tomato and BBQ. You use them to make sushi like wraps for a zero carb, gluten free lunch or snack. I made a wrap with chicken, cheese, onion and avocado. I used some fresh goat cheese (called Laychee) from Penny Royal in Boonville, CA, and Chipotle Pineapple Chicken from Bruce Aidells. 

I made a batch of hot green chili spread. It was gone in a few days and I plan to make more. Sure didn’t last long!

Hot Green Chili Spread

Hot Green Chili Spread

And lastly, do you have any favorite flavor combinations? Have you ever tried avocado and soy sauce? Yummy!

avocado and soy sauce

Avocado and soy sauce

 

What’s new in your kitchen?

 

This has also been linked to Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, the November edition of “In My Kitchen”. Check out the link for some fascinating posts about what is going on in other kitchens around the world.