Author Archive

Where’s the cheese?

February 11, 2009

Wordle

I just “Wordle-d” our esteemed blog on a whim. As much as I like a nice cast iron pan, it seems like we could use a few more posts about cheese, cookies, bacon and gravy, am I right? Perhaps this could inspire a few posts of our favorite things that are not on the list or have a poor showing?

boxofbirds

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Cranberry Hazelnut Cookies

January 21, 2009

This cookie recipe, which I mentioned in an earlier post, is probably my favorite. Other than good ol’ chocolate chip, of course. I found it in some magazine about 15 years ago, so my apologies to the original, and now forgotten, author. It has become a bit of a tradition for me to make these chewy and chunky cookies around the holidays for my family. Cranberry and hazelnut is the perfect combination for Fall and Winter.

A couple of notes: The chopping of the dried cranberries is a bit of a chore because they are so sticky. I have used both a “chop-o-matic” style food chopper, which is a bit faster, but a pain to wash, as well as a sharp kitchen knife, which takes a bit more work, but is easier to clean. Your choice. I toast the chopped nuts under the broiler for a few minutes. Just make sure you watch it like a hawk as they burn easily. You could also toast them at a lower temperature, or by tossing them in a large skillet over medium heat. You’ll save a lot of money if you buy the oatmeal, dried cranberries, and hazelnuts in bulk.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup shortening
1 cup packed brown
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups chopped dried cranberries
1 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 375.
In a mixer, cream both sugars, butter and shortening. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Mix in flour, baking powder and baking soda. Stir in oats, cranberries and hazelnuts. Spoon large tablespoons of the dough on to a cookie sheet and bake for 9-12 minutes depending on how soft or crunchy you like your cookies.

boxofbirds

Quinoa Vegetable Soup

October 7, 2008

So here’s a quick soup I threw together the other day using the harvest of veggies from my p-patch. Feel free to use whatever veggies you have on hand.

3 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion diced
2 cups carrots cut in 1/4 slices (about 6 purple carrots from my garden)
2 cloves of garlic sliced
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped (1 tsp dry)
1/2 tsp salt (more or less depending on how salty your broth is)
1 cup quinoa
4 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
1 cup water
1-2 cups tomatoes chopped (and juices)
1 bunch swiss chard chopped into bite sized pieces

In a large pot heat oil over medium heat. Toss in onions and saute for 5 minutes or so. Add garlic, carrots, salt and thyme and continue to saute until the onions are soft and golden, and carrots have softened slightly, about 3-5 minutes more. Add the quinoa and stir. Turn heat up to high and add the broth and water. Bring to a boil then turn the heat down, cover and simmer for about 8 minutes. Toss in the chard stems, cover and continue to simmer for about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the chard greens and tomatoes with juices. Simmer uncovered for another few minutes until the greens and the quinoa are tender. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

This should make 4 generous meal portions or 6 or so side portions. If you have leftovers you may need to add a little more water when you reheat it because the quinoa will absorb most of the liquid when you store it in the refrigerator.

boxofbirds

Where was I…?

October 5, 2008

Oh yeah, I’ve been gardening.

I highly recommend it if you have a yard or a P-patch or just an outdoor area with a few pots. There’s nothing like produce straight from the garden, it even beats produce from the farmer’s market.

I’ll be posting soon some of the recipes that I used to enjoy the bounty from the P-patch.

boxofbirds

Peas Aren’t Just About the Pods

May 5, 2008

I am so excited to be starting a garden at the p-patch across the street this year. Along with tomatoes and basil and leeks and fennel and rainbow chard, I’m going to try growing some peas. But instead of growing the peas for the pods, I’ll be growing them for their delicate shoots. Apparently these shoots have been used in Asia for centuries, but they are pretty new to me. The young leaves and vines can be lightly sautéed and have a lovely fresh pea flavor.

I don’t have a specific recipe but the general idea is that you use the young tender vines and leaves from a snap pea or snow pea variety. You can also add just the leaves from the hardier stems. They only need to be sautéed for 10-20 seconds or so. I think they would go well with any dish that has light, fresh flavors, such as fish, stir-fry, risotto (with lemon!) or a pasta dish.

My first encounter with pea shoots was at Crave. Chef Robin Leventhal uses the shoots in a dish of goat cheese gnocchi. It is my favorite dish at Crave and I highly recommend it if you have a chance to stop by for dinner.

boxofbirds

Stealing Recipes

April 11, 2008

I’ve tried my hand at “stealing” a few recipes from restaurants. I started with something simple a few years ago, mango quesadillas from Agua Verde. Later I stumbled upon Penne alla Sorrentina from my family’s favorite restaurant, Vince’s. It’s fun, kinda like a puzzle, to try and recreate your favorite dishes.

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Farewell Winter Vegetables

March 22, 2008

I am certainly excited for spring. I can’t wait for all the great fresh local produce that will start rolling in soon. Seattle has a mild climate, but during the winter the local produce is pretty sparse and consists mostly of root vegetables, greens and more root vegetables. As much as I love potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and greens, it can get monotonous after a whole season.

That said, one of my favorite ways to serve winter vegetables is in a simple recipe with roasted chicken. It is pretty versatile and can be modified to add whatever ingredients you have on hand. I usually start with any kind of small potatoes and a couple chicken breasts (bone-in, skin-on), then add whatever strikes my fancy, like parsnips, carrots, fennel, turnips, golden beets, celery, onions, whole garlic, and so on. You could also do it with a half chicken, or thighs. When you’re finished you have a nice crispy brown piece of chicken and delicious roasted veggies to go with it.

Last week we made this dish with a half chicken and a mix of yukon gold, red and blue potatoes, fennel, red onion, carrots, bacon and thyme.

vegetables

Just roughly chop up the vegetables and toss with a bit of olive oil and whatever seasoning you like. Put it in roasting pan or casserole dish and bake at 450 degrees for about 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, pat the chicken dry and brush with some butter and sprinkle with ample salt and whatever seasoning you like. Take the pan out of the oven and place the chicken on top (skin side up, of course!) and then bake for another 30-40 minutes or until the thickest part of the chicken registers 170 degrees.

boxofbirds

Sawdust Cookies and Other Culinary Misadventures

February 29, 2008

When I was thinking about writing on the topic of culinary mishaps I figured I would remember some great story from when I was in college and first started cooking for myself on a regular basis, but I realized that the two worst disasters I could remember happened pretty recently. At first I was dismayed. How could I have so many disasters now that I have so much more experience? But then I realized it’s probably because I am much more likely to try brand new recipes, or just try to whip something up on the fly, which usually turns out OK, but can sometimes lead to “learning experiences.” (more…)

Cheesey Carb-y Goodness

February 28, 2008

Sorry for the tardy post on the topic of comfort food, but I was just invited to contribute and couldn’t pass up writing a few words about my favorite foods….

Like most Americans, “comfort food” means three things to me: carbs, cheese and more carbs. Some of my all time favorites have been with me since I was a little kid. From my mom’s potato salad she makes for every family gathering (no matter the season) and her scalloped potatoes with extra cheese on top (that she still makes every time I go home for a visit), to my grandmother’s mashed potatoes and turkey gravy. Other favorite comfort foods I discovered a little later, like gnocchi, baked macaroni and cheese, chicken and dumplings, read beans and rice, carbonara, and gratiné.

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