Thursday, September 11, 2014

when sleep takes over…..

Inspiration strikes me in so many different ways – I could be walking through a farmer’s market and spy something utterly seductive, and I know am going to play with it. I have been overseas, and encountered an unknown fruit or vegetable then I hear it whispering to me, telling me what needs to be done. Of course, every client is a source of ideas for everyone has their own particulars and I love to figure how to work within them. Then there are nocturnal visions. I am not one who has vivid dreams working out the daily crisis during what should be a time of rest – I rest. But I will say, many a recipe or germ of a recipe has occurred while I slept. More amazing to me is that I wake fully conscience the idea and I can carry the memory for days before I actually get down to work. It has always been a sign that I am in the profession I was meant to be in for no math problem was ever solved, by me, either when I was awake, or dead to the world.

Not all ideas are prompted by the high and esoteric. I obsessed recently about a container of yogurt -- we had a house of full of guests a few weeks back, and in an effort to be inviting I bought morning food. For me, that usually means 3 cups of steaming motor oil edged with a splash of soy milk. But I know not everyone can handle my daily java jolt, and I realize people actually wake up hungry where I wake up ready to satisfy hunger. The eggs became a frittata and the blueberry bread quickly disappeared but that container of yogurt remained, and a week later I was still staring at it. I thought I would whip a batch or two of flatbread; they freeze well and clients love them. I dawdled clearly I was not inspired. Then night fell and an adjunct to the usually bread bloomed during a REM cycle. The next morning I got down to making patties.

Chicken Patties – yields 8
2-cups non-fat yogurt (not Greek-style)
1-teaspoon baking powder
½-teaspoon salt
2-cups all-purpose flour

In a large work bowl mix the yogurt, chickpea flour, baking powder, salt and 1-cup all-purpose flour until it forms a sticky dough mass.

Place the remaining 1-cup of all-purpose flour on a clean work surface, and knead the dough mass for 5 minutes incorporating the flour. The dough should be slightly tacky to the feel. Put in the dough in a work bowl, and cover with a clean towel. Let the dough sit at room temperature for 24 hours.

¼-cup tamarind paste
¼-cup coconut vinegar
1-whole boneless and skinless chicken breast
1-teaspoon turmeric powder
2-whole black cardamom 
1-tablespoon coriander seed
½-teaspoon cumin seed
1-teaspoon whitepoppy seed
½-teaspoon celery seed
½-teaspoon mace blades
1-medium onion – chopped
3-garlic cloves – minced
¼” piece ginger – minced
1-tablespoon coconut oil
2-cups chopped greens (such as Swiss chard, spinach, mustard)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
¼-cup raisins
¼-cup olive oil

To make the filling soak the tamarind in the vinegar for 10 to 15 minutes and then push through a fine sieve to collect the seeds and any fibrous debris. Coat the chicken with the tamarind/vinegar paste, and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.

Pre-heat the oven to 350-degrees and cook the chicken breast for about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, and allow the chicken to cool. Then shred the chicken and reserve in a work bowl.

In a spice grinder pulverize the turmeric, cardamom, coriander, cumin, poppy seeds, celery seeds and mace.

Heat an 8-inch saut̩ pan over a high flame, and add the coconut oil, onion, garlic and ginger. Low to a simmer, and allow the mixture to caramelize Рstirring occasionally (should take about 20 minutes). Once the mixture has browned stir the pulverized spice mixture, chopped greens, salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes until fragrant and the greens have started to wilt. Stir in the raisins and remove from the heat allowing the onion mixture to cool completely. Combine with the chicken, and correct seasoning with salt and pepper.

Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, and on a clean work surface roll each piece into approximately a 6 to 7 inch circle. If the dough is sticking to the work surface lightly oil the area – avoid using any flour.

Place an eighth of the filling mixture in the center of each circle and fold in half to create a crescent shape. Crimp the edges with the tinges of a fork. If your patties are prefect and don’t have any “tears” create a vent hole with a small knife.

Place the patties on a lined baking tray. At this point, you can hold the patties in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before baking.

Pre-heat the oven to 475-degrees. Brush each pattie with olive oil and cook in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve hot.  

Thursday, September 4, 2014


Not yet a new equinox
 and summer rentals have ended...
...I want to keep the heat alive

Chili Sauce – yields 2½ cups

¼-pound yellow or red Thai chilies
1-inch piece of ginger – peeled
1-tablespoon turmeric
1-tablespoon amchoor powder
2-tablspoons kosher salt
10 clove spikes
1½-cups white distilled vinegar

Trim the stems from the chilies. Place all the ingredients in a blender, and process until very smooth – keep it running for a few minutes. Shut it off and run it for a few minutes longer.

Place in a clean glass jar, and refrigerate for about 4 weeks before using.

Monday, August 25, 2014

All that pepper

It seems after watermelon, peppers are the best growers in my garden. And, I am in habit of making sure I grow enough varieties that from the tip to the back of my tongue receives notice of their season. The yellow banana and red pimento are terrifically sweet and the poblano straddles sweet, bitter, and hot. Then there is the straight-up fiery assault of the Thai bird’s beak, chocolate habanero and jalapeno, all of which I prefer to let fully ripen just to make sure their potency is fully apprecited. When the jalapeno is still green they are more like bonsai bell peppers to me. Unfortunately, I am married to the biggest “heat” wimp ever. He starts sweating profusely when I use a slightly ripening poblano. He chides me that I use chili sauce like most Americans use ketchup, and on this he is right. I have learned that on average I will go through about 2-plus quarts of chili a year. And, just think I grew up in a house with a small bottle of Tabasco in the door of the refrigerator, and an age worn, red and white tin of cayenne pepper probably moved from kitchen to kitchen by my mom.

The hotter chilies are no longer to be grown in any great quantity since they are primarily for me. However, three poblano plants and four sweet feed us bountifully during the summer, and gives me plenty to slice and freeze for winter’s soups and stews. So, while the black flea beetle clings to the leaves of my eggplant feeding its addiction, just across the path my peppers grow tall, bushy and don’t seem to want to stop flowering. While the summer sun pours down baking rays I will dry a couple of batches for homemade ancho chilies otherwise, it is another incarnation of peppers tonight.

Wilted Peppers with White Beans – serves 4
4 poblano peppers – seeds discarded

1-large onion – thinly sliced
2-garlic cloves – thinly sliced
13.5 ounce canned white beans – drained and rinsed
2-tablespoons olive oil
1-cup cherry tomatoes
1-tablespoon chopped summer savory leaves
3-cups packed chopped amaranth or spinach leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

After removing the seeds from the peppers slice them into no more than ¼-inch thick strips.

In a 10-inch sauté pan add the peppers, onions, garlic, white beans and olive oil, and cook over a low flame for about 45 minutes to an hour. Stir the mixture every so often in order not prevent it from scorching. Mix in the cherry tomatoes, summer savory, chopped leaves, and salt and pepper. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes longer. Serve warm on a crostini or over a grilled pork chop.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Heaping Scoops

It has been a difficult summer for me. Packing up the old house and going through a renovation, and the subsequent cleaning that it generated. Finally, the kitchen is complete and the boxes have been broken down and discarded (we are never moving again). Now, I can get back to the business at hand – playing in the kitchen. I have missed almost two months of garden and farmer’s market offerings due to the fact I only had my grill functioning, and the counter adjacent to the sink in the mudroom was all work area the new house had to offer. I have done very little puttn’ up, which means I am in overdrive to try and catch up.

I have sorely missed making ice cream, not that I am saying I have spent half the summer season without the creamy, frozen concoction. No stove to make the custard base, a single freezer crammed with the items that were accommodating the temporary loss of my back-up unit; and, the general mess and debris floating through the air just did not make it conducive to have ice cream churning away – Rocky Road is not a favorite flavor. But, now, life has been dusted, vacuumed and repeated numerous times I felt it was safe breakout the ice cream maker – enough with comforting myself with a pint of someone else’s.  I may have also failed to mentioned, that my husband has a nightly requirement of three scoops and he has become accustomed to requesting a flavor or inquiring what combination I was working with – I hate to let him down, and only be able to dole out a commercial bowlful. So, with my yearning to score some love points and satisfy my need to freeze a summer moment I let it rip. I don’t think this quart will last more than a few days.   

Rose scented Geranium and Cinnamon Ice Cream - yields approx. 1-quart
2-cups heavy cream
2-cups half-and-half
2-cups sugar
5-rose geranium leaves
2 3-inch cinnamon sticks
6-egg yolks

In a 1½-quart saucepan add the cream, half-and-half, sugar, rose geranium, and cinnamon sticks, and over a low flame allow the sugar to completely dissolve.

In a work bowl beat the egg yolks until thickened and a pale yellow. Add to the warmed cream mixture, and cook over a low flame for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a clean work bowl, and refrigerator for a few hours for up to 24-hours. Then pour the chilled ice cream base into the freezer compartment of an ice cream, and proceed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Once the ice has set up transfer into a freezer container, and place in the freezer for an hour or two before serving.