April 29, 2008

TWD - The one that almost wasn't: Ricotta Polenta Cake

I almost opted out of this week's Tuesday with Dorie assignment: a Fluted Polenta Ricotta Cake chosen by Caitlin the Engineer Baker.

It was nothing personal; it's just been a butter/flour/sugar heavy month. I'd just foisted the last of my Keller Cake onto a very willing group of house guests over the weekend. I still have a handful of marshmallows bouncing around the island. And Sunday's cheesecake pops were over the top indulgent.

I made a personal pact: this was going to be a week of fruit for dessert. Apples. Bananas. CSA fresh strawberries.

And then Tuesday came, and I opened my feed reader. And 100-some Doristas were more temptation than my resolve could withstand. I hadn't gotten to "D" and I started making a shopping list, knowing I had a date with the Kitchen Aid when I got home. Hey... fig's a fruit! And polenta's kind of a grain.

I decided to go small and pulled out my mini tart pans. I chopped the requisite 12 kadota figs and set them in a combination of chardonnay and warm water for a soak. And Inspired by Cheri at Adventures in the Kitchen, I chopped up a handful of organic rosemary from my CSA and tossed it with the dry ingredients.

The result? Probably not as healthy as an apple, but not devoid of nutritional value, and quite tasty. The ricotta added tang, the honey lends a fruity note, the polenta and figs contribute to a complex texture, and the rosemary brings it all together and gives it a real Mediterranean flair. Most excellent topped with a dollop of honey flavored Greek style yogurt.

From the archives...
In 2007 I failed at crepe cake 101.

Technorati Tags: | | |

April 27, 2008


Subtitle: Playing with Food.

Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey? Yeah you got *that* right.

Brought to us by Elle of Feeding my Enthusiasms and Deborah of Taste and Tell, his month's Daring Baker selection would be the *perfect* project for a tween/teen slumber party. Or a red hat girl's night in. Or any estrogen-heavy event in between.

Cheesecake Pops!

I procrastinated. Again. Started the cheesecakes yesterday, where cream cheese packaging and egg shells fought for space with crawdad shrapnel in the discard bin. And I think I've finally found a recipe that overwhelms Mo's trusty four quart Kitchen Aid. Five 8-ounce packages of cream cheese pushed the mixer bowl nearly to the brim.

I chilled the cheesecakes overnight as directed, and started forming cheesecake balls early Sunday morning. I had big plans: my 2 ounce cookie scoop would make the perfect cheesecake sphere. I abandonned that brilliant idea with pop number 3 (out of seventy-some... not the 30-40 the recipe promised) and resorted to my fingertips and the palms of my hands. Messy yes, but far more efficient.

Into the freezer for two hours while I tidy the kitchen and prepare the rest of the house for company; we were an hour away from hosting our dance group's monthly board meeting. And I discovered that dipping cheesecake in melted chocolate and and rolling them in graham cracker crumbs is a great way to diffuse the frustration these meetings often engender. When I was done with the pops, I was still in the mood to feed and socialize with the group.

After we cleaned up the barbecue fixings, we packed up the pops and toted them to the dance the group was hosting that afternoon for beginner dancers. And I'm proud to say my pops were the runaway hit of the buffet table.

Want to try cheesecake pops for yourself? Elle and Deborah both have it posted for you. Curious how the other 900-some Daring Bakers fared? Check out the blog roll. And while you're surfing, head on over to the brand new Daring Baker website and see what's happening in the public forums.

Technorati Tags: | | | | Key Ingredient:

April 26, 2008


Lynn Swann: You gonna add another championship trophy to the old case downstairs?
Coach Red Beaulieu: That's kinda like my old man told me one time, Lynn. The only thing better than a crawfish dinner, is five crawfish dinners.
-The Waterboy (1998)

I'd have to agree with the coach's father.

Which is a very very *good* thing when one has fifteen pounds of them to dispatch, peel and employ in something tasty good.

How did this California girl happen upon fifteen pounds of Louisiana's beloved mudbugs?

It all started in email.

Joshua said he liked my blog (I'm still often surprised that a bunch of people I've never met *read* my blog) and he was wondering if I'd be willing to try out one of the products offered at Cajun Grocer and blog about the experience. He offered a choice of Crawfish or Turducken.

Um... TurDUCKen? What would I do with turducken?

Not wanting to embarrass myself in front of my aforementioned readership, I selected the crawfish. Nothing difficult about crawfish. Boil. Peel. Eat some. Search Google for a recipe for the rest. This isn't exactly rocket science...

'cept for the true crawfish enthusiast, I suspect it has its similarities. In hindsight, the boiling process might have been easier with this. Or one of these. Having neither at our disposal, we put my 18 quart stock pot to some heavy duty use.

The fish arrived on Friday evening. After spending the evening on my island (and freaking me out a bit when I walked through the kitchen and heard them milling about in their container... yeah, they're most definitely alive), we broke out the stockpot and broke open the packaging to see what lay in store for us.

My only previous experience with crawfish is at the Bay Area's nod to Cajun Country: New Orleans by the Bay. The contents of my carefully packaged styrofoam container were at least four times the size of anything I'd seen there... some of them small-lobster sized. And based on their fresh but slightly earthy scent, I don't doubt the claim that they were fished and shipped the same day.

We boiled the crawfish according to the instructions on the seasoning package and I'm proud that my little stockpot that could held up beautifully to the task. We rapidly realized that the boiling was the easy part... the challenge was going to be in the peeling.

And peeling...

And peeling...

John did his part almost entirely with his fingers, while I chose to employ a paring knife so my manicurist won't have a seizure when I see her next week. It took us the better part of the afternoon to get them all peeled. We snacked a bit along the way and decided that the seasoning packet permeated perfectly, and enhanced the natural sweetness of the meat.

Now, what to do with all of that crawfish meat?

We thought about beignets, but that felt like a lot *more* work. I'm not a huge fan of etouffee or jambalaya. After some amount of deliberation, I chose to make a riff on Emeril's Crawfish and Cream over Pasta, employing a bunch of asparagus from this week's CSA box in place of the green onions and parsley, both of which would have required a last minute grocery shopping expedition. I used a package of Pasta Etc.'s fresh Lemon Chive Linguine which played beautifully with the chardonnay cream sauce.

In the end, the coach's dad would be proud... It's a rich, indulgent dish, easily allowing for five to seven crawfish lunches and dinners.

Others who've tried this recipe:
Elizabeth shares a sensational story of two families meeting in the wake of a storm as she prepares Emeril's feast.

Technorati Tags: | | Key Ingredients: ,

April 22, 2008

TWD - My cupcakes runeth over...

...and then they fell flat. The end result was pretty ugly, but they sure *tasted* good!

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie assignment was brought to us by Amanda at Slow Like Honey: Bill's Big Carrot Cake -- which I translated into Bill's lava-like Carrot Cupcakes. I wasn't sure about the whole carrot cake thing; like many other Dorista's out there I haven't historically been a big fan. But this is a Dorie challenge, I had a bunch of CSA carrots calling from the counter, and everyone loves cupcakes, right? So off I ventured.

I grated my carrots by hand, managing not to bleed in the process. My "mix-ins" included raisins and shredded coconut. And I seem to be out of cinnamon, so I tossed in nutmeg in its place. The batter came together quickly and easily, and before I knew it my cupcakes were expanding in the oven.

And expanding...

And expanding...

Then as they cooled on the counter, they caved. I noticed a lot of other cupcake-making Doristas had this problem (owing perhaps to the weight of the ingredients in proportion to the small amount of leavening in the recipe?) and chose to cover the flaws with frosting. In hindsight perhaps I should have tried that... but I figured there was no salvaging them physically and packaged them up for our dance group without frosting them.

And they were a hit. Even those of us who aren't crazy about carrot cake loved them. Without frosting, they pair beautifully with plain yogurt for an indulgent but quick breakfast.

Technorati Tags: From the archives...
In 2006 we took a field trip to the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market

| | Key Ingredient:

Please pardon the interruption in our programming...

...but your heroine's laptop appears to have to have the stomach flu. So the only time she has access to the internets is from work. My version of Bill's Big Carrot Cake (and a handful of other goodies) will appear as quickly as possible... but probably without pictures, at least to start.

April 17, 2008

Donut Muffins. Because Butter makes everything Better

Paired with Katie of One Little Corner of the World for the April Edition of Taste and Create, I chose to replicate her Donut Muffins in my kitchen as an antidote to an hour in commute traffic for me and a tax day treat for my coworkers. Because as a dedicated Dorista, I'm no longer afraid of a pound of butter -- I just make sure the majority of it isn't headed for *my* thighs. The muffins came together quickly and easily; my only modifications to the published recipe were to add a cup and a half of dried blueberries for a little color and to fill the nutritional void, and to nix the cinnamon in the coating in favor of some lavender-vanilla infused sugar. They had a nice dense texture reminiscent of a cake donut and they were a hit among my colleagues: the serving plate was empty in under fifteen minutes.

From the archives...
In 2006 I found my comfort zone in my little corner of the Internets.

Technorati Tags: | | |

April 15, 2008

Cheetah-licious: It's a Marshmallow World

It's a marshmallow world in the winter,
When the snow comes to cover the ground,
It's the time for play,
it's a whipped cream day,
I wait for it all year round.
Those are marshmallow clouds being friendly,
In the arms of the evergreen trees,
And the sun is red like a pumpkin head,
It's shining so your nose won't freeze.
The world is your snowball, see how it grows,
That's how it goes, whenever it snows,
The world is your snowball just for a song,
Get out and roll it along.

Imagine my surprise when a Google search for the lyrics to this classic kids' holiday tune led me to that Disney Dynasty: the Cheetah Girls. Yeah, the Cheetah Girls. You know... the kid from the Cosby show. And the blonde that danced with Kristi Yamaguchi's partner in LAST season's Dancing with the Stars...

Where am I going with this? This week's Tuesday with Dorie assignment, chosen by Judy over at Judy's Gross Eats celebrates the star of the s'more, the king of the krispie treat, the sweet silky sweet potato topping: the Marshmallow.

As she often does, Dorie gave us options with this recipe. Chocolate marshmallows. Pumpkin marshmallows. I took the recipe another direction, pulling out my prized bottle of lavender extract and creating lavender-scented marshmallows.

Oh. My. Gawd.

Ladies and gentlemen if the marshmallow cream I poured into the pan is any indication, this 'grown up' version of the classic confection is going to be quite a crowd pleaser. And I have big plans for my finished marshmallows. Stop by later this week and see...

From the archives...

In 2006 we visited a marvel of modern marketing capitalizing on a Hollywood legend.

Technorati Tags: | | Key Ingredient:

April 14, 2008

Market-Fresh Magazine Monday

It's been a while since I've turned to my magazine collection in celebration of Magazine Monday. But when last week's CSA delivery included tender-crisp asparagus and beautifully bulbous spring onions, I knew I was going to turn to my Fine Cooking collection for inspiration. And so, with a little help from my friends at Boccalone, this riff on Fine Cooking's Asparagus, Goat Cheese and Bacon (Guanciale) Tart was born.

For my version, I replaced five slices of bacon with 2 ounces of Cosentino's amazing guanciale. Because I was using the spring onions (sliced similar in size and shape to the asparagus) I also left out the shallot. And I employed a scant 5 ounces of herbed goat cheese that had been languishing in the back of the deli drawer in my refrigerator.

Preparation was fairly easy, with lots of opportunities for multi-tasking. I sliced the guanciale into thick bacon-like strips and rendered it while I prepared the asparagus and the spring onions. While the vegetable medley sauteed, chopped the cooked guanciale, prepared the puff pastry and the tart's goat cheese base. Next time, I'll mix a tablespoon or two into the goat cheese... it would have spread with far less mess if I'd diluted it a bit. Finally, I spent the twenty minutes that the tart was in the oven washing the few dishes I'd dirtied and getting mis en place for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie assignment.

I served my tart warm over a handful of mixed greens drizzled with balsamic vinegar and a glass of Foxglove Chardonnay. Another tasty, relatively healthy, easy to prepare Monday night meal. And even better, because other than the puff pastry my ingredients were sourced locally, this meal qualifies for the new "Farmer's Market Fare" Carnival over at Eat. Drink. Better.

From the archives...

In 2007 I found the antidote to office apathy in these Banana Crumb Muffins.

Technorati Tags: | |

April 13, 2008

Kitchn Cure Update

Inspired by the Kitchn Cure 2008, I spent the better part of an afternoon paring through my plastic (and glass) container collection. It proved at least as much a psychological exercise or a physical one. As a child of children of the depression, I'm more than a bit of a pack rat. If it's functional, I'll hang onto it, whether or not it has a function in my kitchen.

Example: We don't have a dog... do we really *need* to hang onto the complimentary dog food bowl we received from some hotel looking for business for if/when we do? And yes, I save empty mayonnaise, mustard and peanut butter jars with the intent of storing staples... but if they're piling up in the container cabinet (where I'm convinced they reproduce) what value are they bringing?

In the end four and a half boxes of discarded containers (including the dog food bowl) hit the recycle bin. And I now have half of my container cabinet to house my Kitchen Aid...

From the archives...
In 2006 we spent a girl's night indulging in good wine and substandard sushi.

Technorati Tags:

April 12, 2008

Cash Only - Week 2

Continuing my cash only quest to balance the food budget, here's this week's shopping list:

C&H Granulated Sugar (10 lbs) - $5.69
Barilla Pasta - Mostaccioli (1 pound) - $1.39
La Tortilla Factory High Fiber Tortillas (10 count) - $3.49
Strawberries (1 pint) - $1.69
Red Bell Pepper (0.88 lb/1 count) - $1.31
Organic 1% milk (1/2 gallon) - $3.29
Bananas (0.8 lb/3 count) - $0.71
Organic White Bread (16 count) - $4.49

Add the CSA box: mixed baby lettuce (12 oz.), red chard (1 bunch), spinach (1/2 pound), green d'anjou pears (2 pounds) and nantes carrots (1 bunch) for $21.50 and the grand total comes to $43.56, or $6.44 under budget.

From the archives...

In 2007 I try to pull a rabbit out of a hat.

Technorati Tags: |

April 10, 2008

A Keller-Inspired Taste of Yellow...

Thomas Keller. The James Beard Foundation's best California Chef in 1996. Best American Chef in 1997. Not one but two Michelin three-star restaurants under his stewardship. And from everything I've read, it looks like he runs the the quintessential 5S, lean six sigma kitchen.

I received Thomas Keller's French Laundry Cookbook as a housewarming gift, and it's occupied a prestigious spot on my cookbook shelf ever since. It's my culinary equivalent of special occasion jewelry... it's there, waiting for an event momentous enough to merit employing it.

Well this April is an especially significant month of celebration. The perfect opportunity for Keller to make his debut in my kitchen. And I can't think of a better event to kick off my Keller-inspired month than Barbara's Taste of Yellow event in support of the Lance Armstrong Foundation's LiveStrong Day 2008.

As I mentioned in my contribution to last year's event, I love the fact that Lance has chosen yellow as the color of cancer awareness. Yellow is loud. It's vivacious. It's nobody's corner-sitting wallflower.

So in honor of LiveStrong Day 2008 I've turned to Keller and his Lemon Sabayon Pine Nut Tart, because as anyone surviving cancer will tell you, each day is a special occasion and a cause for celebration. And as we went through the process of making the tart (John's help was critical in the 15-20 minutes of constant whisking the sabayon required), I decided that Keller's recipe and his approach to preparing food pair beautifully with the spirit of LiveStrong. Keller pulls you firmly into the moment, forcing focus on the task at hand rather than dwelling on what has already happened or fretting about what's to come in much the same way a cancer diagnosis pushes the patient and everyone it touches into the here-and-now, living and enjoying every possible experience. The honor and respect with which Mr. Keller approaches each ingredient and each step in the process mirrors the way a cancer survivor savors each hour, each day for the blessings it brings.

And while what emerged from my oven is probably a bit more rustic than what you'd see on a plate at the French Laundry, I'm proud to offer it in honor of my cancer surviving friends and family.

Want to try it yourself? You can find the recipe here.

From the archives...
In 2006 I took my first look at a local/organic/sustainable diet and I haven't looked back.
In 2007 I contemplated the subtle and not-so-subtle impacts children have on holiday celebrations.

Others who've cooked this one with Keller:
I'm with Carol, the smell of the pine nut and vanilla tart shell as it evolves is transcending.
Tanya of Expat Chow found this Keller a keeper.
Mrs. VJW opted for a taste of green with her key lime rendition.

Technorati Tags: | | |

April 09, 2008


...while the country mourned Martin Luther King Jr., at 6:06 PM Mo and Jo gave birth to a 3 pound 15.5 ounce baby girl.

And the rest, as they say, is history...

From the archives...
In 2006 we opted for the Atkins special.
In 2007 someone else baked the cake.

Check out all of Dawn's sensational cakes.

April 08, 2008

TWD: Another week, another pound of butter...

This Tuesday's tryst with Dorie takes us to a Paris patisserie-lined street corner, where we celebrate the demi-god of French pastry: Pierre Herme.

Mary of Starting from Scratch offered us two options this week: either Dorie's Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart or her Fresh Orange Cream Tart. Neither recipe is for the faint of heart; each packs in over a pound of butter, a cup and a half of sugar, and several hundred calories per serving.

I chose the orange cream option. Sadly while the cream itself ranks up there as worthy of licking off someone you love, my photography of the finished product leaves a lot to be desired. So if you want to see cream tart food porn, you'll have to head over to the Tuesdays with Dorie blog roll and check out the hundreds of other French tarts.

Next week the egg white replaces butter as we master marshmallows.

From the archives...

In 2007 we celebrated Easter.

Technorati Tags: | |

April 07, 2008

Why pay $6 at Safeway?

...when leftovers make a sensational lunch?

When Pam announced April's edition of Leftover Tuesday, I knew exactly what my contribution would be.

I've been on a panini kick for the last few weeks, despite their exorbitant retail price. When I whipped up Joe's Cocoa Chili Rubbed Chicken (itself a product of leftovers and pantry staples) last week, I knew that the two leftover breast fillets would make a sensational chicken salad.

I shredded the chicken, sliced up a shallot, added in a handful of dried cranberries and tossed it all with a tablespoon of mayonnaise. Piled the salad on some crusty wheat bread with a couple slices of avocado and a handful of spring greens. Warmed it up on the grill pan and served it with the ubiquitous broccoli salad.

From the archives...
In 2007 I cooked with quinoa to combat cancer.

Technorati Tags: | | Key Ingredient:

April 06, 2008

Taking Stock, Making Soup

Three months and a few days ago, I made some predictions; I set some goals. Perhaps it's that the milestone I mentioned then is now just a couple of days away. Or that it's annual review time in my professional life. Or that it's just natural to reflect as we close the door on the first quarter of 2008.

To bring you up to speed, professionally I'm midway through my project; we'll be wrapping up the analysis phase next week. I completed six weeks of coursework and passed the final exam, so the completion of this project and a second one scheduled to start in the fall are all that stand between me and Lean Six Sigma "Black Belt" certification. The project hasn't been without its share of hiccups, but it's been an ongoing learning, growing experience for me, my team and my company.

In my blog world I've had some successes and some struggles...

I've managed to drop 15 pounds in thirteen weeks without limiting my repertoire to fat-free, carb-free, sugar-free, tasteless plastic food. I've made some healthy choices and some butter-laden choices, but I think the key to my success in this arena is that I made *conscious* choices -- and that I kept my activity level in line with my caloric intake week to week.

I've done a better job of employing my cookbook collection and entertaining our friends in-house than I have at blogging about the experiences. And the Blog 365 thing has been a bit of a bust... I've found that I write better (and enjoy the process more) when my head's in it, rather than when I'm writing for the sake of writing. There's a lot of ME on these pages, and I like it that way... I'm not interested in publishing content I wouldn't bother to read. So that means more often than not I'm posting once or twice a week. And so the journey continues...

The soup? Oh. Right. The soup. (Cream of) Carrot & Cilantro Soup. Made with Nantes carrots from the CSA box and a vat of turkey stock I found at the back of the freezer during my Kitchn Cure clean up exercise. Fragrant and full of flavor, the perfect lunch paired with a hunk of French bread.

Technorati Tags: | | | Key Ingredient:

April 05, 2008

Having a Par-tay

A full pound of butter.

8 egg whites.

Over a cup of whole milk.

Over two cups of sugar.

I think I gained two pounds just reading the recipe (and another two or three drooling over the photograph). To prevent further weight gain, I decided that Dorie Greenspan's "Perfect Party Cake" BEGS to be shared with a crowd. A large crowd.

Lucky for us, large crowds are often our specialty. This month, the tasting honor fell to John's Wednesday night square dance group, who hosted their annual Circus Circus hoedown this evening. (Yes, a more accomplished baker would have decorated the cake in the circus theme. But my cake decorating skills rival those of a four year old).

Morven of Food, Art and Random Thoughts was the gracious hostess of this month's Daring Baker challenge and she offered bakers plenty of leeway in interpreting Dorie's recipe. In the interest of meeting our get-out-the-door deadline, I stuck pretty close to the original, baking the cake in a single half sheet pan and slicing the finished product in thirds to create a rectangular layer cake that would fit perfectly in my cake carrier and slice easily on a crowded buffet.

John jumped in and assembled the butter cream with the same ease he displayed with December's yule log. We used blueberry preserves as the filling, providing a worthy counterpart to the meyer lemon scented cake and butter cream.

The cake made the 45 mile journey to the dance just fine. The refreshment committee opened a rather impressive buffet at quarter to nine. At 9:05 I decided I'd better snag one of the last dozen pieces if John and I were going to taste it. By 9:15 the refreshment committee had washed and stowed my cake carrier.

Three people asked me to share the recipe. Eleven asked me to bake this cake for them for {insert significant event here}.

Dorie. Morven. We have a hit.

I'm late to this month's Daring Baker challenge, but if you missed the hoopla last weekend you can catch up here. And to try the cake in your own kitchen, Morven has the recipe here.

Technorati Tags: | |

April 04, 2008

A del.icio.us quarter...

Across the course of the last thirteen weeks, I meandered through one of Moosewood's cookbooks mixed results. I joined Jamie on a tour of the Italian countryside. And Dorie became a regular Tuesday evening companion. In addition to the 'celebrities,' several of you provided dinnertime inspiration, even if you didn't know it. At 1262 links strong (and growing) my del.icio.us list rivals both my cookbook shelf and my magazine rack for attention. Here are the recipes that have made it to the dinner plate so far this year.

Arguably our most successful meal from my collection of bookmarked must-tries was this Soba and Steak Salad I found on My Bit of Earth. Yes, there's quite a bit of prep involved so a bit of pre-planning is necessary. But it's well worth the effort. My favorite part was the salad dressing; it ties east and west together beautifully.

Also a hit -- a thirty minute meal with fresh, healthy ingredients that plates worthy of company: Roasted Salmon in Grapefruit Shallot Sauce, which Michelle of Je Mange la Ville found at the Food Network. Proving that at least some of their "talent" is capable of creating a meal without opening a bunch of prepackaged, processed food.

The focus of my participation in Kitchn Cure has been my refrigerator and my freezer, where forgotten items languish far longer than they should. The freezer purge unearthed a pound of perfectly deployable chicken breasts, so I turned to the internets for inspiration. In the Kitchn Cure theme, the goal was a dish that would use ingredients already in "inventory". I found just such a dish in Joe's Cocoa-Chile Rubbed Chicken. A little bit sweet. A little bit spicy. And on the table in less than 30 minutes. My kind of meal.

Never again will I discard chard stems, thanks to Helen of Beyond Salmon. I paired her Parmesan-Roasted Chard with Jaden's magic formula for converting cheap steaks into good eats and an avocado-salsa topped roasted red potato. The fact that the disparate dishes played well together on a plate didn't surprise me. And preparation was smoother than (though probably not as sexy as) a Kristi Yamaguchi and Mark Ballas tango.

From my CSA, this simple satisfying salad of potato and avocado in a lemon dressing is a fine way to show winter the door and say hello to spring. And its clean flavors pair perfectly with a variety of finicky leading men and ladies, neither overpowering the main course of choice nor blending completely into the background and boring the palate.

I'm not sure where I got this Tilapia with Hazelnut and Avocado Sauce... I know it was online but subsequent Google searches have turned up empty. A pity, since it was a weeknight warrior that could easily be prettied up for company.

What lies ahead? Stay tuned, faithful readers. Your heroine's planning to continue her Tuesday trysts with Dorie, will spend the second quarter with Thomas Keller, Deborah Madison and Ted Allen... and who knows what she'll uncover on the internets.

From the archives...
In 2006 we tried to replicate Kentucky Fried Chicken Livers but came up empty. (If anyone's got a good recipe, we're still looking).
In 2007 I opened the envelope and revealed the winners of March's DMBLGIT.

Technorati Tags:

April 03, 2008

Okay folks...

...what do I do with these?!?

For the first time in my 3 year history with my CSA, I got something in my box that I'm not sure what to do with.

Pea greens.

I tried Google. Not much there there.

Wikipedia's never heard of them.

And while there are a handful of recipes out there, nothing looks like what I have here.

So I'm counting on you.

Someone out there's surely got some experience working with these. Or a recipe bookmarked somewhere. My pea greens await your inspiration.

From the archives...
In 2006 we found Pho in Fremont.

Technorati Tags:

April 02, 2008


Last summer Jenny at All Things Edible spent a couple of weeks on a cash-only budget. Intrigued, I've been contemplating a similar experiment ever since.

It's probably a combination of tax season and the Kitchn Cure, but I've decided April's the month. I can relate to Jenny's experience; it's far too easy easy for me to mindlessly toss unplanned items into my grocery cart, quickly converting a quick $20.00 shopping trip into almost twice that. And it's easy to dismiss the financial impact when sliding a piece of plastic through a machine and punching in a four digit code, rather than forking over cold hard cash. So I'm curious how my little experiment's going to change how I approach the shopping experience.

Again in response to the Kitchn Cure this week I'm eating primarily out of my well overstocked pantry, refrigerator and freezer, so my first trip to the grocery store was mercifully easy:

Beckmann's Whole Wheat Sour Dough Bread (16 slices): $4.29
Clover Organic Lowfat Milk (1/2 gallon): $3.59
Bananas (3 whole, 1 pound): $0.99
Top Blade Steak (1.33 pounds @ $2.99/lb): $3.98 - I'm going to go Jaden with this.

Add to that this week's CSA bounty: 12 oz mixed salad greens, 1 bunch red chard, 1 bunch pea greens, 4 whole ruby grapefruit, 2 pounds green D'anjou pears, 2 pounds golden delicious apples and 1 bunch Nantes carrots for $21.50 and the grand total for the week is $34.38, well under my average of $50 - $60 using the plastic.

Edited 4/3/08 to add a quick trip to Target to pick up a quick read thermometer for next week's Dorie challenge ($12.99) and a container for storing kosher salt ($3.49). With tax, total purchase: $17.84.

Stay tuned to see how next week goes, when I can't live as well out of the freezer.

From the archives...
In 2006 we discovered Amador County is the new Napa/Sonoma/Livermore.
In 2007 I announced the supporting cast of DMBLGIT winners.

Technorati Tags: |

April 01, 2008

Got Milk?

Dorie suggests that you serve her Gooey Chocolate Cakes with something to play off of their chocolatey interior. Ice cream. Creme Anglaise. Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce. I submit that a tall, ice-cold glass of milk makes a perfect pairing, and I'm betting Sean Whalen would back me up. I also think it would play nicely with your favorite port.

Leigh of Lemon Tartlet and the Dust Bunnies offered up Dorie's Gooey Chocolate goodness as this week's Tuesdays with Dorie project, and I couldn't wait to give it a shot. Dorie recommends using a 6 cup muffin tin for these, and I briefly considered pulling out the rose shaped bundt pan. But in the end I went traditional: six small ramekins lined my baking sheet.

For the chocolate I selected the last of a dense, dreamy collection of Belgian chocolates we received from John's sister and her family for Christmas. And because there *is* no kill like overkill, I dropped three espresso caramel bonbons into each of the ramekins to give my tasters a bit of a surprise.

For as elegant as these individual desserts present, they're fairly simple to prepare and I'm sure I'll add them to the dessert after a dinner party rotation. Dorie's advice is to served them immediately, warm and gooey from the oven, but I found that 10-15 seconds in the microwave returned them to a delightful molten status. And my day-two tasters had no complaints about the 'leftovers'. Check out the blog roll to see what other bakers thought.

And stay tuned Dorie Fans, next week we tackle the French Lemon Cream Tart.

From the archives...
In 2006 we indulged in an obsession.

Technorati Tags: | | | | Key Ingredient: