Wednesday, March 31, 2010

k is for kumquat

 i love the kumquat
it is 
sweet on the outside
and oh so sour
inside
sort of like 
john hughes character

truth be told
i would rather
eat them straight
than 
cook with them
but today
i decide to build a treat
around kumquats

panna cotta with kumquat confit
(printable recipe)
(say that 10 times fast!)
kumquat confit
10-15 kumquats--sliced thinly lengthwise
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
pinch salt
put sugar and water into a pot and bring to a boil  toss in salt and kumquats. let cook for 5 minutes then turn off heat. allow to cool completely.  Remove kumquats with slotted spoon and place on silpat or parchment paper.  Store sugar water separately.  The kumquats should be good and gooey.  The sugar water should taste citrusy. I use it to flavor my tea, or you can boil it up again and use it in your favorite marshmallow recipe.  If you want to store the kumquat for longer than a day, put in a jar, add a bit of the sugar water and put in the fridge.
vanilla panna cotta
1 1/2 cups cream
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
2 tsp powdered gelatin
3 Tbs cold water
Place cream, milk, sugar and salt in a saucepan.  In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let sit for a few minutes.  Heat the cream until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is simmering. do not let it boil.  turn off heat, and drop in the gelatin and stir until it is dissolved.  you may need to put it back on the fire to completely dissolve the gelatin, but do it over a gentle heat.  Add vanilla.  Pour into 4 ramekins or other serving pieces.  If you want to serve the panna cotta unmolded, put a little oil around the bottom and sides before filling, for insurance.  Refrigerate for about 4 hours or overnight.  Serve plain or with a bit of the confit, or sugared berries.
I am participating in alphabe-thursday over at 
you should go check it out
and see what all the fun is about
this week
sponsored by the letter K

Monday, March 29, 2010

Tuesday Night Supper Club--Garlic Chicken

there is something poetic
about eating
chicken with 40 cloves of garlic
on the eve of holy week
with a pair of dominican sisters

i "won" this dinner in a school auction
my alma mater
and a school i do some work with today

here's the part that might make you jealous
the school sits atop a hill 
with a million dollar view
with historic buildings and cottages rambling among 40 acres
and
walkways are lined with trees
and a family of deer
that roam about 
as if they are the family pet

it was so wonderful to be
among friends and family
in a place so blessed
enjoying an amazing evening

sister c spent the day putting together a meal
that had us licking our plates
but she wouldn't divulge the recipe
okay, 
she gave bits and pieces of the recipe
but never the whole thing

here is my interpretation
of what really should be
required eating
during lent

40 clove garlic chicken
(printable recipe)
olive oil
40 whole cloves (about 3 heads) of garlic--peeled
6 large chicken breasts (or parts you like) seasoned with salt and pepper
1 large leek--finely sliced crosswise (optional)
1/4 cup cognac
1 cup white wine (use your favorite)
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
in a dutch oven or heavy pan, heat olive oil.  cook chicken breasts or parts, skin side down until skin is browned.  remove from pan before meat is fully cooked.  with oil still hot, toss in whole garlic cloves and stir for a few minutes--they should start to color.  toss in leek (if using).  continue to cook while stirring occasionally until the leek begins to soften.  pour in cognac and then light it up. BE CAREFUL!! let the flame burn out completely. if you are uncomfortable with this technique you can skip it. the alcohol will cook off. i like the extra little smoky-ness it offers.
when flame is completely out, add wine and chicken broth. lay chicken side up in the pot.  cover, lower heat to lowest setting and cook until the chicken is cooked through. this will vary depending on the type of chicken parts and size of pieces.  check for after 30 minutes.
the sauce is a bit brothy and you want it thicker, remove the chicken and then simmer the sauce down until it achieves the required consistency.  If you like the sauce really, really garlicky, you can take 1/2 the sauce and blend then return to the pot. 


Saturday, March 27, 2010

madeline cloak project

i am working on a few things for a school auction
it is that time of year!
in the past i have donated cooking classes and dinner parties
but frankly
i am so busy
and 
coordinating schedules
has become tedious
so this year i switched it up a bit
and i am donating the fixins
for a 
madeline birthday party
i'm not going to lie
i was inspired by a kate landers party
that has been flying around the blogosphere
essentially,
what i am doing 
is providing all the things a
very hip and classy parent
(wink, wink)
would want and need
for their small child's party
and one of those things
actually i made 8 of them
is a madeline cloak
(fully lined, mind you)

i am not a seamstress
so this has been a bit of a challenge
but i have to say
i am 
in love with them
so cute

can't you just imagine

eight little girls
in two straight lines

more to come, i am sure





Wednesday, March 24, 2010

j is for jiffy pop

who can forget
those nights when mom and dad 
left a babysitter in charge
which meant 
hours of
 prank calls
(do you have prince albert in a can?)
ding dong ditch
pong
and then finally
settling in to 
The Magical World of Disney
with some freshly popped
jiffy pop
shaking back and forth
on the electric coil
until the foil hat was so full
it just might have exploded right then and there
the memories i have 
are so vivid
that
although the popcorn wasn't
gourmet
it has come to symbolize
the joy
and simplicity
of my childhood

I am participating in alphabe-thursday over at 
you should go check it out
and see what all the fun is about
this week
sponsored by the letter J


Bee-lieve It!

get ready 
for
loads and loads
of 
honey recipes
well, truthfully
you will have a whole year to prepare
our hive went up today
and our bees arrive
april 7th

post invariable
emergency room visit
(a mere distraction
caused
by being stung numerous times)
we will sit and watch our
3lbs or
9,000 bees
acclimate themselves to their new home
isn't it just grand!
in the meanwhile
try not to bee too jealous
we will share the honey
eventually



Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Franken-Tree

if you have been following my blog for a while
you know that we purchased a mountain cabin
last year
and have been working on it 
in bits and pieces
the interior
while not perfect
is 
perfectly livable
and even a bit
charming

spring has sprung
in our little mountain community
and we are planning our garden
sprinklers are going in
along 
with raised beds for vegetables
our berries and fruit trees have come through the winter looking strong
and 
we have been sprouting seeds while waiting for warmer days
lots of work
for homegrown fruit and veg,
summer evenings in the company of our well-pollened bees,
and an unobstructed view of 
this
FrankenTree
this little sweetheart
is a plum tree that bloomed last year
with 
just a few pieces of fruit
that 
never fully ripened
so hubster
being a mad scientist type
felt
it would be perfect
for grafting
so
under each brown paper wrapping
is a graft
from
a plum tree
a pluot tree
a peach tree
and
a nectarine tree
it seems a bit nutty
but if it works
i will be up to my elbows
in stone fruit salad


Monday, March 22, 2010

Tuesday Night Supper Club--fried rice and chicken wings

i do love fried rice
and am partial to the thai version
over the chinese
flavor aside
i like my fried rice more moist than dry
authentic or not
for tonight's dinner
i am serving baked chicken wings
along with the rice
just a simple way
to get a bit more protein into the meal
and they taste good
olive or peanut oil
3-4 cups cooked rice
1 zucchini--cut into julienne
1 large carrot--cut into julienne
1 cup straw mushrooms or sliced button mushrooms
3 green onions--chopped
3 eggs--lightly beaten
salt and pepper to taste
generous handful pignoli nuts
scant handful raisins
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/4  light soy sauce
2 Tbs tomato paste
2 Tbs oyster sauce
1 Tbs seasoned rice vinegar
2 large garlic cloves--finely chopped
1" piece ginger--peeled and finely chopped
1/4 tsp chinese chili paste (optional)
in a small bowl mix together the broth, soy sauce, tomato paste, oyster sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger and chinese chili paste (if using).
heat oil in a large skillet or wok.  fry the carrots, zucchini and mushrooms until they just start to brown, stirring frequently.  add the salt and pepper to just season (a generous pinch each).  pour in the egg and stir until the egg is evenly distributed, fully scrambled and cooked through.  toss in green onion, then the rice.  Stir and mix together, then add the sauce all at once. toss in pignoli nuts and raisins. stir until it is evenly distributed.  taste for salt and pepper and additional soy sauce.  


Chicken Wings
(printable recipe)
10-12 wings
1/3 cup light soy sauce
2 Tbs honey
1/4 tsp garlic powder
mix together and pour over chicken wings. let marinate in the refrigerator for about an hour or up to 4 hours. heat oven to 400.  remove the wings from the marinade and bake on a cookie sheet until they are mahogany in color and cooked through. this should take about 30 minutes, but oven times vary.


EAT UP!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

i is for italian pastries

listen
i know yesterday was a big day
for the irish
and the color green
and corned beef and cabbage
and shamrock shakes
but hear me and hear me now
tomorrow
is the day 
everyone should cheer
pull out your italian flag
fire up the stove 
pull out all your big pots
open a bottle of wine
yell 
prego, prego
at the top of your lungs
and you will be ready
for
st. joseph's day
or
as it is called in our house
the feast
of
san giussep
and here is the best part
not only is there amazing food
at the St. Joseph Table
there are desserts
amazing
delicious
desserts
the best being
zeppole
which we only eat
this time of year
and the other best
are
cannolli
which i eat 
all too often

and another best is
pasta chote
which is not how they are spelled
but
how it sounds
in a
 complete and total dialect
i think may actually be
pasta croce
but i don't know
because this is what we call it
and when i say we
i mean everyone i have ever known
who has ordered, made, or eaten
pasta chote

and today
as my offering to you
and your st. joseph's table
i pass to you
the secret
to fabulous italian pastries

find a really good
italian bakery
and spend your time
making friends



Wednesday, March 17, 2010

livin' la vida lucky

i'm still debating the
luck of the irish
i'm awaiting a story which will lead me to believe
they are indeed a lucky group

unless 
you consider

the most beautiful landscapes
guiness
a brogue
mad limerick skills
colin farrell
and
smilin' eyes
lucky

do ya?
do ya now

in closing
here is a limerick i didn't write
but wish i did

Archimedes, the well known truth-seeker
Jumping out of his bath, cried "Eureka!"
He ran half a mile,
Wearing only a smile,
And became the very first streaker





Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tuesday Night Supper Club--Chicken Gyros

it is times like these that i am a little bit glad
that
 i can't find my old photos
don't hate me
because
 i spent a year in italy
i know how fortunate i am
it was
my junior year of college
and when that year of education was over
i packed my duffle and headed south
first to sicily
(which is a whole different story)
then to greece
the plan was to spend 1 week in mykonos
and then meet up with some other friends 
on santorini
mind you...
there were no cell phones
there was only
meet us on this day at this place at this time
very sleepless in seattle, no?
except we were all girls

i was traveling with two other girls to mykonos
and the three of us settled in nicely
and enjoyed ourselves more than anyone should
and
gorged ourselves on chicken gyros
every day for lunch
partly because they were so yummy
and partly because they cost next to nothing
to make a long story short
because i know you are dying to know
we never made it to santorini
the biggest storm ever to hit the islands
arrived
 the day before our scheduled departure
and didn't leave for 2 weeks
no boats in or out
at least i think that is how the story went
grin with me
here is my version of the chicken gyros
we ate
day after day
much to my delight
Chicken Gyros
4 large chicken breasts-cut in half crosswise
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
finely grated zest from a med to lg lemon
olive oil
tomatoes-sliced
lettuce leaves
pita bread
(i like to buy the fresh thick pita from a specialty store, but this works with the grocery store kind too!)
In a bowl, mix the salt, pepper, oregano and lemon zest.  Rub the chicken with olive oil and the spice mixture, then begin stacking on the skewer. You may need to cut the top of the skewer off to make it fit in your oven.  Place in a 400 oven and let it cook until it is done use a meat thermometer.  Let the chicken cool a bit and then begin slicing on the vertical, just like you see them do at your local donner kebab place.  Fill each pita with chicken, lettuce, tomato, roasted potato and tzatziki sauce. Fold and enjoy!
Tzatziki Sauce
1 small container plain non-fat yogurt
1/2 cucumber--halved, peeled, seeded and sliced paper thin
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 small onion--sliced paper thin
salt and pepper to taste
mix all ingredients together and let sit in the refrigerator at least an hour, but ideally overnight.
Roasted Potato Wedges
1 large russet potato--cleaned and cut into wedges
olive oil
salt
toss the potatoes in the olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  place in a 400 oven to bake until nicely browned.  check for doneness at 30 minutes
Wait...don't go!!!
i want to show you the most fun part of this whole thing
it is my homemade
meat stacker
you know
like you see in the kebab places
i have this beer can chicken thing
and where you are supposed to put the beer
i put foil
and a skewer
apologies for the poor photo quality
and then i stacked the chicken breasts
like so
and just popped it in the oven
easy, right?
Eat Up!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

a little piece of cheese

i have been talking about making cheese for months now
and today
was the day
and i am not so excited 
about the result
first of all
what is up with starting with a gallon of milk
and ending with a 1/2 cup of cheese?
huh?
bogus
good news is
it tastes good
although 
it isn't as soft and supple
as i would like
i'm just a bundle of negatives
i know
but it was my first 
mozzarella
but not
my last
because i am going to do this
until i get it right
now
what i need
 is a 
cow
Fresh Mozzarella
(printable recipe)
1 gallon whole milk
1 1/2 tsp citric acid
1 cup cool water
1/4 tsp rennet diluted in 1/4 cup cool water just before using
thermometer

heat the milk and citric acid--diluted in the 1 cup cool water in a large pot to 90F.  Remove from heat and slowly stir in the rennet/water mixture.  Cover and let sit 5-10 minutes.  a nice medium firm layer of curds should form on the top. it will look like custard.  Cut it in cubes with a knife and using a colander, separate from the whey.  Reserve the whey to make ricotta (my next project!).  Place the curds in a microwave safe bowl.  You will heat this in the microwave until the curds melt and are just about too hot to handle.  Remove from the microwave and begin kneading and pulling, much like you would taffy.  If it gets too hard to stretch, pop it back in the microwave and start again.  You will notice that it will stretch and pull and become a bit glossy.  Form into a ball by folding and tucking. Eat right away or store in the fridge.

I think where i went wrong was my milk got a bit too hot before i added the rennet....and I didn't get a nice thick firm layer of curd.  I was able, however, to manipulate what i did have to make a fine tasting ball of mozzarella...but i really want it to be softer.

I am letting the whey sit for a bit before using it for ricotta cheese. I have read that it should sit for 12-14 hours. We'll see.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Chorizo Hash

i like my breakfast to taste like lunch
and
i think i might possibly have a slight potato addiction
so 
when i think about hash
i get glassy-eyed
because 
it is quite possibly
the perfect breakfast food
the best part is
it is so versatile
and yummy 
with any and all types of meat
and here's what else
it is a good hangover food
which i know
doesn't apply to you
or me
but you might know someone
who
 has maybe once or twice
overindulged
Chorizo Hash
(printable recipe)
2 medium russet potatoes--small cube
3 links chorizo--chopped or crumbled
1/2 large onion--finely diced
3 scallions--chopped
1 tsp garlic powder
olive oil
salt and pepper
plop cubed potatoes into a bowl of cold water for at least 5 minutes.  Drain and thoroughly dry.  In a large skillet, brown the onion and chorizo.  Toss the potatoes in a bit of olive oil, then drop into the pan with the chorizo.  Saute until the potatoes are cooked through and begin to brown. Just as the potatoes are starting to brown, toss in the scallions, garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste.
Serve as a side dish or top with a fried egg (or even a chicken breast) for a complete meal.





Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tuesday Night Supper Club--Pineapple Chicken

i'm not sure why
but i have multiple cans of pineapple slices in my pantry
and i am not really
 a
dig into the pineapple slices, as a snack kind of girl
i suspect at some point
i was going to make pineapple upside down cake
and then lost interest
it kinda sounds like me
naw
it sounds a lot like me
i figured i would put the fruit to use for tonight's dinner
a very 80s display of culinary delight
you know
a unapologetic use of curry powder and other anglo-indian spices
for sure
i'm gonna be honest
i wasn't sure how this would turn out
and i was afraid to tell my husband that i kinda sorta started throwing things into the pot
but it turned out pretty good
and very light
Pantry Pineapple Chicken
(printable recipe)
2 lbs chicken
(i used skinless boneless chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces)
1/2 tsp salt
3 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1" knob fresh ginger--peeled and cut into pieces
pinch paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 medium onion--thinly sliced
1 cup chopped mushrooms
3 scallions--chopped
1 carrot--finely cut into matchstick size pieces
2 large handfuls of fresh spinach
1 can pineapple slices or chunks in juice (not heavy syrup)
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
Heat heavy lidded pan over medium heat. Add enough oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan...just enough to prevent sticking.  Toss in onions and cook to lightly brown.  Meanwhile place salt, pepper, cayenne, cumin, curry powder, ginger, paprika, turmeric and garlic in a mortar and pestle and grind to a paste. If you don't have a mortar and pestle, you can use a blender with a bit of water for liquid or even the back of a knife to smash to a paste.  Once onions begin to lightly brown, toss in the spice paste and cook for a couple of minutes.  Add carrots, mushrooms, scallions and chicken.  Let cook a minute or two, then add the pineapple with juice and the chicken broth. Cover and let simmer about 20-25 minutes.  If you are using boneless chicken, it should be cooked through after about 25 minutes, but check to be sure.  I removed the chicken and then threw the heat up to high and reduced the sauce to thicken it a bit. It is not necessary, you can keep the sauce brothy if you prefer.  Toss in the spinach just before serving.  Serve over rice or couscous.
EAT  UP!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Saturday, March 6, 2010

everybody loves a winner!!!

congratulations to the winners of my book give-a-way
random.org pulled #12 and #20
and those numbers were assigned to
drumroll please

and




send your mailing address to: christy@luciagrace(dot)net and I will put them in the mail to you



congratulations and  happy saturday




Wednesday, March 3, 2010

G is for Give-A-Way

oh so glad that g is here
finally!
i have something really special to give-a-way
books
children's books
that speak to any age
about finding your passion

these books are written by
my younger brother
(full disclosure)

they are fun and have amazing illustrations
and there is a toy too!
a little plush bug for your little one's backpack
or your backpack
i won't tell!
i have 2 sets to give away
and i will pick the winners on saturday
entries will be accepted until midnight (pst) friday march 5th, 2010
i will be using random.org

here's how to enter:
1 entry if you leave a comment
1 additional entry if you are a follower (please specify in a separate comment)
1 more entry if you blog about the give-a-way (please specify in a separate comment with link)

Good Luck! 

I am participating in alphabe-thursday over at 
you should go check it out
and see what all the fun is about
this week
sponsored by the letter G

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tuesday Night Supper Club--Coconut Shrimp

a couple of weeks ago we were in san francisco
for my mom's birthday
and we ate at the most amazing restaurant
the food is fresh and delicious
and i have found myself craving it daily
one of my favorite dishes they serve
is a cabbage and jicama salad
i had it for the first time a couple of years ago
and i talked about it so much
that a friend of mine tracked down the recipe 
and left it on my doorstep
tonight
i share the recipe with you
with my little twist
coconut shrimp
now pardon me
while i lick my plate
Cabbage and Jicama Salad
(printable recipe)
adapted from The Slanted Door Restaurant
1/2 red cabbage--shredded
1/2 medium jicama--cut into matchstick size julienne
1 medium carrot--cut into matchstick size julienne
1 grapefruit--supreme
1/2 cup fresh mint--chiffonade
1/4 cup candied walnuts or pecans
Dressing
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tbs seasoned rice vinegar
1 Tbs cider vinegar
1 Tbs agave syrup (the recipe calls for sugar, i substituted the agave)
1 tsp minced garlic
1 thai chili minced (or 1/2 tsp chinese chili paste)
1 tsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp oil
salt and pepper
cover the shredded cabbage with salted water and let sit 30 minutes or so.  Drain and fully dry. Add to all other salad ingredients, with exception of the nuts. Stir together all ingredients for dressing and mix into the salad.  Toss in nuts and serve.  

Tonight I am serving our salad with coconut shrimp which is really simple

Coconut Shrimp
(printable recipe)
peeled and deveined shrimp
2 eggs--lightly beaten
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup shredded coconut
oil for frying
mix the cornstarch and coconut together in a shallow bowl.  dip each shrimp into the egg and then into the coconut mixture.  Drop in oil heated to 350.  Cook until the coconut is nicely browned.
EAT UP!

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