Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Autumn Vegetable Soup with Matzoh Balls

Last night I made vegetable matzoh ball soup for dinner. Matzoh balls are a comfort food here in Barnacle-ville.  You may recall Summer Vegetable Matzoh Ball Soup, which was a simple water based version.  Last night I made it with homemade chicken stock that was in the freezer..  Chicken stock is pretty easy.  Bill loves rotisserie chicken so I save the bones to make the broth. I like that nothing is wasted from the chicken.   Respect the chicken.  I admit that I use a pressure cooker, which speeds up and simplifies the process.  You can save up the bones in the freezer until you have time to make it.  You can use other bones or veggie scraps instead.

Barnacle Broth
yield 1 quart of broth concentrate
1 carcass from a rotisserie chicken
1 quart water
Place carcass (include skin if you wish) and water in the pressure cooker, and bring to a boil.  Bring up to pressure and simmer 45 minutes.  Turn off the heat and let the pressure come down naturally.  Drain the soup, discarding bones.  Pour the cooled broth into a quart sized container and refrigerate overnight.  The next day, remove the yellowish layer of fat from the top of your broth, (which may be jellied).  This golden disc is schmatz.  Use it like bacon grease, or instead of oil in your matzoh balls. If you wish, freeze the stock and the schmaltz for later.  When you use the broth, thin it with about 1/2 - 1 quart of water or to taste.

Autumn Vegetable Soup with Matzoh Balls
1 T olive oil
2 leeks, thinly sliced
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 red pepper chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 bunch of swiss chard, stems chopped, leaves chiffonade
1 tomato, chopped
1 qt Barnacle Broth
1 qt water
1 tsp salt

Matzoh Balls
1 C matzoh meal
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 C olive oil
1/4 C seltzer
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
black pepper

Make the matzoh balls: mix all ingredients into a thick batter and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Saute leeks, celery, pepper, carrots, and chard stems (reserve leaves) in oil.  When golden, add broth and water.  Bring to a boil, cover and allow to simmer while you make the matzoh balls.   Divide batter into 8 portions and roll into balls.  Drop into soup, cover and simmer 20 minutes.  After 20, add reserved chard leaves, cover and simmer for 10 more minutes. 

Dish Bitch
1 glass 1 quart measuring cup
1 c measure
1 teaspoon
cutting board
wooden spoon

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Yikes Time Flies

I can't believe it's October.  I can't believe that I haven't posted since July.  There was a convergence of events (health, motherboard crash, heat and shift my focus on getting back to work)  that required a lot of attention, thus I neglected my postings. 

I'm still having pain from injuries sustained last fall.  I'm back to work and I've faced the patient who assaulted me.  The patient is still in bad shape, but cognizant enough to apologize.  This person is not a killer or a criminal, just someone who was having a really bad day.  I am grateful.  I know, WTF?  But considering some of the injuries sustained by coworkers, inflicted by people who express their intent to maim and kill, I am lucky. But, I've been questioning my own sanity in my choice to return to this environment.

One of the things I've noticed since I'm back at work is the number of my colleagues who are practicing Roman Catholics, mostly from Haiti, Latin America, and the Philippines. 

I was surprised to see a scapula poking out of my colleagues' shirt.  I said, "your scapula's showing" which seemed natural as breathing (flashback to high school?).  She seemed amused and a bit awkward, and responded that she was trying to hide it.  I smiled and put my hand on my chest " I hear you, no atheists in foxholes."  She laughed and squeezed my arm. 

Although I'm not RC, I was raised RC.  As crazy as it seems, in times when I'm faced with sudden fear (like a deer jumping in front of the car on a dark night) , I might spit out a Hail Mary in Latin (thank you Dr. Fossa).  I feel strong connection to Liberation Theology and the Catholic Worker Movement.   Meaning, justice, collective work, and communal/ community experience that I sought, is present in this environment.  So I'm sticking to it for a little while longer.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

It's 3 AM and Bill's making Ratatouille

Seriously.  It's approximately 86 degrees in the apartment.  I'm being kind of stubborn about the air conditioning.  It's expensive and consumes a great deal of resources.  It wasn't that bad today, with fans going and windows open.   And we hit the city pool in the evening (thank you Robert Moses).    For dinner, I made no cook wraps: mesquite turkey, pepper jack, red and green leaf lettuce, Bill's pesto on Trader Joe's habanero lime tortillas and my favorite Polar Orange Dry soda.

It's been a bit unbearable though.  I'm feeling exhausted and utterly depleted this summer.  Natsubate is the Japanese term for "summer lethargy."  I didn't even photograph that sexy vegetable share on Thursday.  It is a gorgeous haul:  basil, beets, green beans, dandelion greens, lettuce, yellow squash, zucchini, cucumbers, spring onions, tomatoes (cherry and 1 beefsteak), peaches, chard.

Tomorrow is going to be 100 degrees or something.  In order to avoid heating up the apartment during the day when things are at their worst, I usually do any cooking early in the morning.  For example, it's the perfect time to cook up a batch of yogurt or boil pasta for a salad.  Bill is a night owl.  He likes to cook late at night, and many times I have awakened to the whirr of the food processor as he whips up a batch of pesto at an ungodly hour.

Right now the house smells heavenly.  The kitchen fans is exhausting all of the loveliness into the courtyard, where I am sure it is causing my neighbors to salivate in their sleep.

I have given up though.  I am retreating to the bedroom.  I'm going to turn on the a/c and try to get some sleep, assured that I will be enjoying some variant of ratatouille for breakfast.

Bill's Midnight Summer Stew
olive oil
yellow squash
green beans, trimmed and cut into 1" lengths
carrots, peeled and sliced

Saute the vegetables, then cover and stew for a few minutes until everything is cooked to your liking.  Eat hot or cold, with pasta or rice, on toast (bruschetta), rolled in a tortilla or straight out of the fridge with a spoon.  Make a very large batch and eat it for days.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pattypan Masala

It was a hot and swampy night, with the fog rolling in from the harbor.  Her name was Pan, Patty Pan, and she wore her dark green cloak like a second skin, and her perfume filled the air with the exotic scents of India.

Pattypan Masala with Rice and Naan

2 C basmati rice
1 T olive oil
1 T butter
1 onion chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 t garam masala
1 large pattypan squash
2 large carrots, large dice
1/4 C water
14oz can of diced tomatoes
1 T brown sugar
salt to taste
4 pieces of masala naan, toasted

Cook rice using a rice cooker or your preferred method.  Heat a large pot.  Add olive oil and butter.  When melted, add onion and saute until golden.  Add garlic and garam masala to and continue to cook until you smell the garlic and spices.  Add squash and carrots and stir until coated with aromatics and oil.  Add water, stirring to scrape up the bits from the pan.  Add tomatoes and brown sugar.  Cover and simmer 15 minutes.  Turn off heat and let stand to finish cooking, until ready to serve.  You may serve this at room temperature or reheat if desired.

To Serve:
Gently pack rice into a custard cup and unmold onto a plate.  Surround rice with squash and naan.

Cucumber Lhassi
1 1/2 C yogurt
1 large cucumber, trimmed and cut in chunks
salt to taste (start with 1/4 tsp)

Blend everything on high speed in a blender.  Serve over ice.

The Verdict
It was delicious, spicy and had a bit of heat.  The squash is similar to eggplant texture, but a bit more firm. The garam masala spice blend was purchased at an Indian grocery, and the masala naan from Sahadis, one of the best things about living in Brooklyn.

Dish Bitch
cutting board
pot with lid
wooden spoon
rice paddle
rice cooker
custard cup (to mold rice)

Friday, July 9, 2010

CSA Share - 3rd pickup

First Tomato of 2010
From left to right: scallions, cucumber, tatsoi, dandelion, red chard, cucumber.

Bok Choy and Beets with greens

Patty Pan Squashes

Lettuce and Broccoli



Monday, July 5, 2010

4th of July

Happy Interdependence Day!  It was 90+ degrees and a beautiful sunny day.  My parents came to celebrate, and to enjoy some fireworks.  Unfortunately, Macy's changed the location of the big display.  We did not have a good view.  Fortunately Mother Nature provided a brilliant sunset.

I planned a simple menu with minimal cooking.   I mixed all of the vinaigrettes, syrups and sauces the night before.  Also, Bill and I made the appetizers and dessert on Friday night.  In the morning, I made the cacik, potato salad, coleslaw and put the chicken in the crockpot.

Appetizer: Cacik, Barnacle Baba with Crackers
Main: Pulled Chicken
Sides: Simple Coleslaw, Green Bean and Potato Salad
Beverages: Lemonade and Iced Tea
Dessert: Small Batch - Big Cookie, Watermelon, Coffee Float

Pulled Chicken
2 1/2 - 3 lbs chicken thighs, trimmed of fat and de boned
Potato rolls
1 T paprika
1/2 T brown sugar
1/2 T ground cumin
1/2 T granulated sugar
1 t kosher salt
3/4 t ground black pepper

BBQ Sauce
1/4 C rice vinegar
1 T brown sugar
1/4 t hot sauce (I used orange habanero)
1/2 t kosher salt

Mix together rub ingredients in a large zip top bag and add chicken. Shake the bag, and press the rub into the chicken pieces. Marinate for at least 3 and up to 24 hours in refrigerator. Place in a crockpot and cook 10 - 12 hrs on low or 6 - 8 hrs on high.  Meanwhile, combine sauce ingredients in a jar and shake to combine.

Let rest for a half hour, still covered. Shred with forks and mix with barbecue sauce. Serve as a sandwich on potato rolls with cole slaw. Can be served warm or at room temperature.

Simple Coleslaw
1 head of bok choy finely sliced
1/4 C vinegar
1/4 C mayonnaise
1/2 t black pepper
1 t salt

Green Bean and Potato Salad with Blue Cheese
3/4 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into 1" pieces
1 1/2 lbs potatoes, cut in chunks
2 ounces red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, mashed
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 lb blue cheese, crumbled

Combine vinegar through salt in a jar, and shake to combine.  Add oil, and shake.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and set up a bowl of cold water.  Cook green beans until bright then remove from boiling water with a slotted spoon.  Drop into cold water until cooled, then drain.  Add potatoes to the boiling water and cook until tender.  Drain.  Combine beans potatoes in a large bowl and pour vinagrette over all.  Just before serving, garnish with blue cheese.

3/4 - 1 C sugar
1 C lemon juice
6 C Water

Make lemon syrup: combine sugar and lemon juice in a large jar and shake to dissolve sugar.  Store in the refrigerator. Before serving, combine syrup, water and ice in a pitcher.

Coffee Float
Brew a pot of your favorite coffee.  Pour into mugs, and top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

The Verdict:
The chicken was spicy, tasty and literally fell apart when I stirred it with a pair of tongs.  Potato rolls are essential: they absorb the sauce without falling apart.  The coleslaw was very peppery, watery and needed a bit of sugar to balance.  I think it was due to the bok choy.  Next time I will make it with regular cabbage.

The potato salad was good, and I will make it again, but not with the chicken.  It has a strong flavor that is a bit much to pair with the spicy pulled chicken.  Next time I will make my grandmother's recipe. 

The lemonade was too strong, and needed twice the water.  The coffee float was a hit.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Bake Day

Last week was bloody hot.   It was between 85 and 95 degrees and humid for 5 days straight.  It's just plain wrong to use the stove or oven in this kind of heat.  

I had joined Swapbot Baking Week #13, but just couldn't bring myself to turn on the oven.  The weather finally broke but the next heat wave will hit on Sunday.   So, this evening Bill and I are having a baking marathon.    I made chocolate chip cookies, and Bill made baba ganouj (recipe follows) with gorgeous eggplants he bought at his favorite produce market for 39 cents a pound.

I decide to test a small batch recipe, adapted from Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Topped Cupcakes on the Not Eating Out Blog.  Oh yes, you must check out the post.  It's such a brilliantly evil idea to top cupcakes with cookie dough.  Someday I will make it as intended, but tonight I pressed the dough into a large disc and slid it into the oven.

Small Batch - Big Cookie
1/4 C brown sugar
1 T sugar
1/4 C butter, softened
1 tsp powdered egg whites + 1 1/2 tsp water (1 heaping T of beaten egg)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 C flourpinch salt
handful of mini chocolate chips
handful of walnuts

Combine sugar through vanilla in zip top bag.  Squish the bag to mix.  Add flour and salt.  Squish until it looks like cookie dough.  Add nuts and chips.  Squish to combine.  Form into one Great Big Chocolate Chip Cookie (or 6 "normal sized" cookies).  Place on a cookie sheet or small pan lined with parchment.  Bake at 350 for 15 minutes (8 minutes for "normal sized") or until golden brown. 

Prep Ahead:  Combine all dry ingredients in a quart sized ziptop bag.  Label it with "add 1/4 C butter, 1 1/2 tsp water, 1/4 tsp vanilla."  Store in your cabinet until you are ready to bake a quick batch.

The Verdict:
The cookie rose a bit, but was crispy and chewy as a good cookie should be.  You could really taste the butter in this recipe.  It was delicious, and I will definitely make it again.  It's the perfect size for dinner for 4.  Prepping the dry ingredients ahead of time allows you to make a batch at the spur of the moment.  I decided to mix it right in the bag because Bill's baba project needed a bit more space, and we have limited countertops.  It really worked well though.  Baking it as one big cookie is less fussy.  I think I would make this for company.  Serve it family style: place the cookie in the center of the table and let everyone break off pieces.

The Dish Bitch
Measuring cup
Measuring spoon
ziptop bag (yes you can wash and reuse!)
7.5" baking pan

Bill loves eggplant, especially baba ganouj, a roasted eggplant dip of Mediterranean origin. He makes it in large batches. He likes to make it over a wood fire, or by burying the eggplants in the coals of a wood stove. Since we do not have access to a wood fire at the moment, he roasts the eggplants in the oven at 400 degrees.  He doesn't have a recipe, just adds things and keeps tasting until it's right.

It was late when we started, and I went to bed after taking this picture.  Unfortunately, he was too hot and tired to snap shots of the eggplants after roasting. 
Black Beauties ready for the oven.

Barnacle Bill's Baba
5 medium eggplants

Prick the eggplants with a fork and place in a baking dish.  Roast the eggplants over a wood fire or in the oven at 400 degrees, until completely soft. Scoop the meat from the skin into a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients, and mash everything together with a potato masher. Serve with crackers, bread or matzoh. Yield: 4 1/2 cups.  More than enough for company and a week of no cooking.

The finished product.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Summer Veg Soup with Matzoh Balls

For the past week, the temperatures have been in the 90s.  Brutal.  Like the 9th circle of hell.  Cooking is not an option. 

BB and I try to live without the air conditioner.  When we do turn it on, we set it at 78-80 degrees, unless it is just unbearable.  The weather finally broke Tuesday night.  What a relief.  Last night the temperature dropped to 58.  It was perfect for sleeping.  Yesterday and today were comfortable, dry with bright blues skies and cotton candy clouds. 

This evening Bill and I went for a walk at sunset.  With the wind it was actually a bit cold.  It felt like a September day.  I made this soup for dinner.

Summer Veg Soup with Matzoh Balls

1 box of matzoh ball mix, prepared with 4 eggs, 1/2 C oil
2 T olive oil
1 garlic scape, minced
1 onion, Vidalia, chopped
bunch of peas in the shell sliced
2 large carrots, sliced
5-6 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 bunch of chard, sliced
1 potato, scrubbed and cubed
rind from romano cheese
shaved caciocavello cheese

Prepare the matzoh ball dough and refrigerate.  Meanwhile, saute onions and scape until softened.  Add pea pods and carrots, stirring to coat with hot oil.  let cook a minute then deglaze pan with 1 C water.  Add potato, salt and water to cover.  Place chard on top, cover and simmer 20 minutes.   After 10 minutes, stir the pot, replace cover and cook 10 minutes more.  Stir in cheese rinds.

Meanwhile, place a second pot with water and salt to boil. Remove matzoh ball dough from the refrigerator.  Divide dough into 8 large portions, and roll into balls.  Drop into boiling water and simmer 15-20 minutes.

Ladle soup into a bowl, then place a matzoh ball in the center and garnish with caciocavello cheese.  Serve hot or room temp.

The Dish Bitch
2 pots
slotted spoon
cutting board and knife

Thursday, June 24, 2010

CSA Share Week 2

Today was the second week of our EOW (every other week) CSA share.  It is quite a haul: spinach, garlic scapes, kohlrabi, bok choy, romaine, arugula, chard, radishes, 2 quarts of strawberries and snow peas.  Tucked in with the romaine you will see a bit of white plastic grocery bag and a basil start.

We had arugula salad with chick peas and radishes for dinner, and strawberries for dessert.  It is summer!

As of today, we used everything from last week, except a bunch of bok choy that rotted.  I think that I didn't trim, wash and dry it well enough before putting it away.  This week I took more care.  Each vegetable was washed, trimmed and thoroughly dried before wrapping in kitchen towels, and nestled into a large plastic storage container.  Hopefully this will work better.

At this point, the 1/2 share seems to be just right for the two of us. 

Monday, June 21, 2010

Tortilla Bake

I made this for dinner last night.  It was simple, included ingredients that needed to be used, and flavors that Bill enjoys.  I was able to sneak a bunch of mizuna into the filling.

Tortilla Bake
2 T olive oil
1 bunch of mizuna, washed and cut in 2" pieces
2 C cooked chicken, cubed or shredded
12  six inch corn tortillas
1 (16) oz jar of hot salsa
1/4 C water
16 slices pepper jack cheese, (about 1/4 lb) thinly sliced from the deli
2 tomatoes, sliced

Preheat oven to 350.  Heat a skillet over medium high heat.  Add 1 T olive oil, and saute mizuna until wilted.  Stir in chicken and cook just until it's heated through. 

Pour 1T olive oil into 13x9 baking dish.  Use a tortilla to coat the dish with oil.  Arrange 6 tortillas on the bottom of the pan.  Top with the kale-chicken mixture plus any juices from the pan.  Pour salsa on top of the chicken mixture.  Rinse the salsa jar with 1/4 C water and pour over the salsa.  Top with 8 slices of cheese and remaining tortillas.  At this point, you can refrigerate it for a couple of hours or overnight, if you wish.

Arrange tomato slices on top of the tortillas.  Sprinkle with salt and sugar.  Bake 25 minutes, then remove from the oven.  Place 8 remaining slices of cheese on tomatoes, and return to oven until bubbling and the top looks golden with brown spots.

Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

The Verdict
Bill really liked it.  It's totally guy food- cheesy and spicy.  I was happy with it because it was easy, relatively healthy and tasted great.  I used a modest amount of cheese, and it still had that statisfying gooey cheesy-ness.  I will definitely buy the cheese from the deli counter again.  The price was competitive, and the slices were paper thin.  The tomatoes sprinkled with salt and sugar were an impressive topper.  I will make this again. 

Dish Bitch
cutting board
baking dish
wooden spoon
spatula to serve

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lion Heads

Lion Heads is a Cantonese dish comprised of ground pork and cabbage.  The ground pork is shaped into large balls and cooked with shredded cabbage, which resembles a lion's mane.  This version is something I came up with over the winter, after reading a few different recipes. 

The first time I made this, I used a bag of shredded coleslaw mix, which was on sale, at a price that made it cheaper pound for pound than whole cabbage. I highly recommend that route if you are in a hurry. 

Lion Heads
Lion Head Meatballs (Chinese Style Meatballs with Cabbage)
1 lb bok choy, chopped
1 lb teriyaki meatballs (Aidell's Teriyaki & Pineapple Chicken Meatballs)
1/4 C dried shiitake mushrooms
1 piece kombu (seaweed)
2 C water
4T soy sauce
1 tsp powdered ginger
1 T cornstarch
1 T water
1 t sesame oil (opt)
accompaniments: chopped scallions or sesame seeds, chili garlic sauce, rice

Place mushrooms, kombu and 1 C water in the bottom of the slow cooker.  Layer 1/2 of the bok choy, meatballs, and remaining bok choy in the slow cooker. Combine remaining ingredients in a jar and shake to combine. Pour over cabbage. Cover and cook for 8-10 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high. Stirring occasionally.  Four generous servings.

Faster Version: Use 2 C chicken broth for the mushrooms, kombu and water, and 1 bag of coleslaw mix for the bok choy.  The night before you want to serve this, combine the remaining sauce ingredients with the broth in a jar and give it a good shake. In the morning empty the bag of cabbage into the cooker, toss the (still frozen if you wish) meatballs on top and pour the sauce over all.

The Verdict
This is a favorite in our house.  Next time I will chop the bok choy more finely.  While rummaging through the pantry, I found a package of slow cooker liners.  I can't recall from whence they came, but I have to say, clean up was much quicker.  

The Dish Bitch
cutting board
crockpot (used a cooking bag so it was easy)
half pint jar for measuring and mixing
wooden spoon

Cherry Almond Oat "Cupcakes"

Stocking up for winter is one of the habits you develop living in the rural Northeast.  You never know when a snow or ice storm will make roads impassable.  Or there's a power outage.  Or you just don't want to run errands in the cold.  Although we now live in an urban area with relatively mild winters (rain not snow), some habits die hard.

Over the winter, during a trip to Costco, we purchased a jagunda (aka humongous, ridiculously large) quantity of oatmeal.  It's healthy but the quantity is intimidating.

The Feedbag
I hate to throw away food, so I'm on a mission to use these oats before they go bad.  I left "the Feedbag" on the counter for a couple of days, hoping for a burst of inspiration.  I finally came up with a recipe. 

Bill and I have been having yogurt shakes for breakfast.  Delicious and nutritious as they say, but by mid morning, I'm feeling a bit peckish.  This recipe is based on the no bake cookies that were popular when I was a kid.  This is in no way a low calorie snack. It is nutritious, has a boatload of fiber and satisfies like a cookie. 

Cherry Almond Oat Cupcakes
1 C rolled oats
2 1/2 C Kashi cereal
1/2 C slivered almonds
1/2 C pumpkin and sunseed mix
1/4 C ground flaxseeds
1 C dried cherries
6 dates, chopped
1/2 C apple cider
1/2 C almond butter
1/2 C maple syrup

Place oats, cereal, almonds, seeds and cherries in a food processor.  Pulse until everything (except fruit) has a uniform size.  Combine dates, cider, almond butter and maple syrup in a large pot.  Heat, stirring until everything is melted.  Pour oat mixture into pot, and stir until everything is coated in syrup. 

Line a muffin tin with paper cases.  Use a wide mouthed funnel and an ice cream scoop to fill cups, pressing to compact.  Let cool, then remove from pan and into a sealable container.  Refrigerate until firm, and store  in the fridge.

The Verdict
Pretty tasty and satisfying with nice texture.  It's a pretty big serving, though, almost too much.   Next time I will use a mini muffin tin, and play with the ratio of nuts. Maybe substitute carrots for the almonds. 

Based on recipe calculator, each regular sized muffin has 275 calories, 11 grams fat and 5.5 grams of fiber.  Compared to my favorite maple leaf cookie (220 cal, 10 gr fat, 0 fiber per 2 cookies) it has a more calories but a better nutritional profile and fiber.
The Dish Bitch
Food processor
wooden spoon
measuring cups
muffin tin

Monday, June 14, 2010

Baked Jambalaya (Baking Week #11)

Bill loves Jambalaya and I make it regularly.  I'm a little bored with the process, so I've been experimenting.  Making stock from scratch has been part of the new routine, but it takes advance planning and time.  Tonight I wanted to make something that didn't need much tending.  I had all of the ingredients for Jambalaya and some leftover cooked brown rice, so I decided to try making it casserole style in the oven. 

6 skinless chicken thighs
5 links chicken andouille sausage
4 salt packed anchovies, spines and skin removed, rinsed well
olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 red pepper sliced
1 - 2 T Creole seasoning
15 oz can fire roasted tomatoes with green chiles (from Trader Joes)
3 C cooked brown rice

Toss the chicken, andouille, anchovies, onion, pepper and olive oil together in a 13 x 9 baking dish.  Spread out in an even layer, and sprinkle with Creole seasoning.  Poke each sausage link 3-4 times.  Bake 20 minutes, then pour tomatoes and a bit of water over all, and return to oven x15 minutes.  Stir in the  cooked rice and a little water if it seems dry.  Bake until heated through.

This came out surprisingly good.  It was drier than stovetop jambalaya, and the meats had nice golden brown crust.  The tomatoes with chiles combined with Creole seasoning made for a spicy dish with depth of flavor. 

I used salt packed anchovies which are fussy.  You have to remove the spine and skin and rinse them to remove some of the salt.  You can use Worcestershire sauce, fish sauce, oil packed anchovies or green olives instead.

The Dish Bitch :)
cutting board
1 13 x 9 baking dish
wooden spoon
container from the cooked rice

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Risi e Bisi with Pea Shoots

Pea pods, peas and a bunch of pea shoots with flowers.

I decided to use the glorious bunch of pea shoots and pods to make risotto for breakfast.  I made it in the pressure cooker, primarily because I wanted to make peapod broth quickly. 

Once in awhile arborio, carnaroli, jasmine, basmati or japonica will make it into the rice pot, but short grain brown rice is a staple in our household, and it is used in all rice dishes, from sushi to risotto. It has a different texture, but it's worth it. One cup of cooked brown rice has 3 grams of fiber, the same amount of white rice has only 1 gram.

Risi e Bisi with Pea Shoots
1 bunch of pea shoots with peapods
4 C water
1 t salt
1 T olive oil
3 green onions, sliced thinly
1 C short grain brown rice
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 tsp dried mint leaves
1/4 - 1/2 C grated romano cheese (parmesan if you like)

Separate the peapods from the bunch of shoots.  Shell the peas.  Wash the pods and peas separately. Place the pods, water and salt in a pressure cooker.  Bring up to pressure and let cook 15 minutes.  Drain and reserve pea broth in a separate container. 

Meanwhile, pick the tendrils and tender leaves from the tough pea vines.  Wash and dry in a salad spinner.  Place in a bowl with the peas and set aside.

Heat pressure cooker pot, and add olive oil.  Sautee green onions until softened.  Add 1 C short grain brown rice, and stir until coated with oil.  Let the onions and rice cook for a minute, then add lemon juice to deglaze pan.  Stir, scraping the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen all of the onion and rice.  Add reserved pea broth and mint.  Cover, bring up to pressure, place a flame tamer under the pot and let cook 20 minutes at full pressure.  Turn off the heat and release the pressure.  Quickly stir in peas and leaves, and re-cover the pot.  Let stand a few minutes then check.  If it seems a bit watery, cook off some of the liquid, stirring constantly.

Stir in the cheese.  Garnish with lemon zest and cheese.

The Verdict
Next time I will make the pea broth in the pressure cooker, then make the risotto in the more traditional method, with hot stock and stirring all the way.  This batch wasn't terrible, but the texture was more of congee (Chinese rice porridge) than risotto. The dish would definitely look prettier if made with a white arborio rice and maybe a pinch of saffron.  I will save the pea flowers and a few tendrils to garnish the finished dish.

The Dish Bitch
pressure cooker
cutting board
salad spinner
1 quart pyrex measuring cup
wooden spoon

Thursday, June 10, 2010

CSA 2010 Season Begins!

This week's share, photographed by BB. 

Today is the first vegetable delivery of the season!  This year we bought a half-share of vegetables and fruit, which means a delivery every other week.  This is a change for us: in the past we've gotten a full share.  The quantity of vegetables and the challenge of using everything before it rots was the inspiration for this blog.  A half-share should be more manageable and give us the opportunity to hit the farmer's market from time to time.

Above you can see this week's haul in a picture taken by Barnacle Bill.  Clockwise from 9 o'clock: thyme and oregano plants in a starter pot; Mizuna (spiky green similar to kale); green leaf lettuce; vitamin green; bok choy; red leaf lettuce; radishes with greens; blue green peas shoots with pods; strawberries and rhubarb.  In the center is a bunch of scallions.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Barnacle Brownies (Baking Week #10)

One of my favorite things: my grandmother's cake plate. I'm told it was a wedding gift, which would make it ca. 1939. It's got a few dents, from years of use and multiple moves.  Usually it sits on top of my refrigerator, empty.  I love the embossed oak leaves and the wooden acorn handle.  It's marked, "Product of the West Bend Aluminum Company" on the bottom.

In deciding what to bake this week, I rummaged through the pantry.  I found a box of Ibarra Mexican Chocolate that I bought when it was still cold enough to want hot chocolate.  It is a combination of cocoa nibs, sugar and cinnamon pressed into round tablets that are divided into 8 wedges, wrapped and packaged in an hexagon shaped box.  It is usually melted with hot milk or water to make a convenience version of traditional Aztec and Mayan chocolate drinks.

It has good flavor, but the texture is coarse and quite gritty. Chocolate is chocolate, but in this case, the application of heat is essential. It seemed to have potential for a good batch of brownies.

Ibarra table chocolate: in the box, the tablet, with and without wrapper.

1/2 stick butter
3 tablets (about 3 oz each) Ibarra Mexican Chocolate
2 eggs
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 C flour
1/8 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
pinch of cayenne

Melt butter and chocolate.  Let cool for a few minutes, then stir in vanilla.  Meanwhile, combine flour, salt cinnamon and cayenne in a small bowl, whisk to combine.  Beat eggs in medium bowl.  Add a spoonful of melted chocolate to the eggs, stirring thoroughly to combine.  Add remaining chocolate mixture, and stir to combine.  Add flour to chocolate and eggs.  Pour into buttered muffin tin and bake until your house smells like chocolate and the center is set to your liking, about 10 minutes.
Barnacle Brownies unveiled.
The Verdict
The brownies were chewy and pleasant without being overly sweet.  I think the recipe would benefit from a little more salt and cayenne.  And orange zest.  Also, I will take them out of the oven sooner. 

Dish Bitch
small pot for melting butter
2 bowls
measuring cup
muffin tin
disher (small ice cream/cookie scoop) to fill pan

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Best Meal I Ever Ate

In November 2008 Bill and I went to California.  We spent a day in San Francisco and then drove 50 miles south to our target destination, Pigeon Point Lighthouse.   Pigeon Point is currently a lightstation, which means the Coast Guard installed an automated spotlight type beacon in the seventies.  The original lighthouse keeper's quarters are now part of Hostelling International, and would be our home for 3 days.The purpose of our trip was to view the annual lighting of the fragile original fresnel lens, made of 1008 pieces of hand polished glass.  The lighting was magnificent.  The picture below is from the Nasa Astronomy Picture of the Day Website.

The area around Pigeon Point is abundant with artichoke and strawberry farms, and as luck would have it we arrived on the first day of Dungeoness Crab season. Since the area is very rural, and we planned to relax and enjoy the sea and sky, bird, whale watch from the shore, and hike along the shoreline, we stopped at the Half Moon Bay farmer's market for provisions
The Best Meal I Ever Ate is a tie: breakfast and dinner, both at Pigeon Point Lighthouse.  Both meals were made with local products,shopped for, prepared and enjoyed with Barnacle Bill.

The best beakfast was coffee, artichoke bread, Harley Farms Monet Chevre (with flowers!), and persimmons.  We ate on the back deck of the hostel, overlooking the ocean. 

The best dinner is pictured above.  Succulent, sweet, Dungeoness Crab that we bought from the fisherman, right off the boat in Half Moon Bay, with butter, sauteed artichokes, artichoke bread and fresh beautiful strawberries.  We cooked it in the hostel's communal kitchen, in the company of other hostel guests.  It was a cold and rainy night, so we sat around the table eating and talking for a long time.  I can't remember their names but I remember their faces.  It was a great meal, and a great trip.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Chocolate Cherry Pudding Cake

Today's recipe is adapted from Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Pear Pudding Cake.  I heard an interview with Ms. Lawson  on NPR in January 2009, in which she described this cake.  It was a cold January day, after the mania of the holidays.  She made it sound so inviting, so comforting without any pictures, that I went to the website and printed out the recipe.  I made the other recipes from the show, but for some reason didn't get to the cake. 

I'm on a mission to use up things I have on hand, so instead of pears, I used a can of dark sweet cherries, which are my favorite.  I made 1/2 the recipe for our small household, and fit to the ingredients on hand.  

1 can (15oz) dark sweet cherries
1/2 C + 1T sugar
6 1/2 T flour
2 T cocoa powder
5 T softened butter
1/2 t baking powder
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400.  Butter a 1 qt baking dish.  Drain the liquid from the cherries, and put cherries in baking dish. 

In a food processor, combine remaining ingredients. 

Process until you have a thick batter

Spread batter over cherries.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing

What I Learned
Very good, but a bit sweet.  Add a pinch of salt to the batter, and decrease the sugar by one tablespoon.  Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for added decadence.

Dish Bitch
Food processor
baking dish
measuring cup
measuring spoons

Thursday, May 27, 2010


The Holy Grail

NYC doesn't recycle yogurt containers anymore.  This is pretty outrageous in my opinion, and every week, when I chuck the empty quart sized container in the trash, I cringe.  I know I could reuse the containers etc etc, but that only goes so far.  I mean how many yogurt containers can you reasonably use?   Or store in a NY apartment?

Yogurt making seems pretty easy.  I've read many different recipes, using a crockpot, the oven, a yogurt maker, but I decided to try Dr. David Fankhauser's method.  He is a professor of biology and chemistry, and gives a detailed, illustrated description of the process, with a handy step by step chart. I used his recipe for ginger ale a few years ago, and was impressed by his method.   I felt confident that I would be successful with his recipe.

So I made a 1/2 gallon batch and it was a success!  I have two quarts plus one cup of gorgeous yogurt in the fridge.  I used our favorite brand of locally produced, crunchy granola, sandal wearing, hippie commune yogurt for starter.  I used our favorite brand of milk (see above).

The most daunting part of the process was sterilizing the jars. I used Dr. Fankhauser's steaming method.  It was easy.  I used my pasta pot.  It was tall enough for the jars and the insert made things easier to manage. 

PLEASE NOTE: this is my shorthand version of the process.  I recommend that you go to Dr. David Fankhauser's page for the complete process.

Place jars, lids, and funnel into the pasta pot (with insert). Add water to the bottom of the jars, cover and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes, turn off heat and let stand.

Meanwhile, heat 1/2 gallon of milk in the large pot, using a flame tamer to prevent scorching. Bring milk to 195 degrees. While you are waiting for the milk to boil, fill your sink with cold water, enough to reach halfway up your milk pot. When the milk reaches temperature, cover and place the pot in the sink.  At this point, uncover the pasta pot, and remove the insert. 
Scalding the milk.  Note the candy thermometer clipped to the pot, and the flame tamer between the pot and the grate to prevent scorching and boiling over.
Let the milk cool to 130 degrees.  Place 1/2 c milk in the pyrex cup, and add enough yogurt to make 3/4 cup.  Stir with the whisk to make a slurry, then add it to the milk pot, stirring well.

Pour the milk into the canning jars using the funnel.  Put on the lids.  Check the water temperature from the steaming pot.  When it reaches around 130 degrees, pour it into the cooler.  Place the jars in the cooler and cover.  Let rest for 3 hours.

I forgot to take a picture right away, so what you see is what is left after two days of lassi for breakfast.  I also have 1 half pint jar of yogurt in the back of the fridge to use as a starter for my next batch.

Voila!  Trash free yogurt.  It has the same texture as the starter yogurt: a bit lumpy with a substantial amount of whey.  The picture below is very dark, but it show the texture.  It looks kind of like cottage cheese, but the texture is smooth and soft.  If you want a smoother looking texture, whisking will help.

Sweet Lassi (2 servings)
1 1/2 C yogurt
About 1 1/2 C fruit
2 T maple syrup or honey
Optional: 2 T milled flax seed

Whiz in the blender.  Use frozen fruit or add ice cubes if desired.

Salty Lassi (2 servings)
2 C yogurt
pinch of salt
pinch of cumin
ice cubes

Whiz in the blender.  Optional: toss in a cucumber.

The Dish Bitch
Pasta pot with insert
2 quart sized canning jars with lids
1 half pint canning jar with lid
Large, heavy bottomed pot
candy thermometer
glass measuring cup
cooler (one that can hold a six pack)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Royal Artichoke Risotto

For Week #8 I'm continuing with the Artichoke theme.  I created this recipe to highlight beautiful long stemmed artichokes we picked up a couple of days ago.  It was delicious.  I the future I will make this for company and/or spring holidays. The picture above shows the finished dish, in a 13x9 baking dish.  The picture below shows one choke and the stems in 10" steam canner before steaming. 

The preparation is a bit lengthy.  You can prepare everything in advance, and store in the refrigerator.  Just let them come to room temperature before baking.

2 long stemmed King artichokes
Olive oil
1 lemon

3 T olive oil
1 med onion, chopped
16 oz arborio rice
1 lemon
1 qt of vegetable broth
3/4 C grated romano cheese

Up to 5 days in advance: Trim the long stems from the artichokes, and peel off the outer layer with a vegetable peeler.  Put artichokes and stems on a rack in a large pot.  We used one pot per 'choke: stock pot with pasta insert and one deep pot with a steamer rack.  Squeeze 1/2 a lemon over each 'choke, sprinkle with salt, and drizzle with olive oil.  Add water to reach the bottom of the 'chokes and steam for 1 1/2 hours.

When cool enough to handle, scoop out the center leaves and hairy choke.  Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Heat a deep pot over med high heat.  Add olive oil, then onion.  Peel the tough fibrous, stringy outer layer from the artichoke stems, and chop the tender inner part of the stem.  When onions are tender add the stems and stir to coat with oil.  Add rice and stir to coat.  Let cook a few minutes then squeeze lemon juice into pan, stirring to scrape up any browned bits.  Stir 1/2 of the vegetable broth into the rice.  When it starts to bubble, and the remaining broth.  Cook, stirring occasionally until rice is al dente.  Preheat the oven to 350.

Stir 1/2 C cheese into risotto.  Fill artichoke cavities with risotto, then press the leaves to close the choke around the filling.  Sprinkle cheese on top.  Place in 13x9 pan, cover with foil and bake for 20 -25 minutes or until heated through. 

To serve: let stand 10 minutes.  Slice the artichoke in half from top to bottom to expose filling.  Serves 4 as a main course.  Cut each choke into quarters to serve 8 as an appetizer.

What I learned
1. Be diligent about removing the outer fiber on the stems.  I accidentally added a few of the fibers to the was very unpleasant!
2.  If you have help, one person can hold the artichoke open in order to add the filling.  I think a wide mouthed canning funnel will make this job easier for 1 person.  Hot risotto sticks to skin!
3.  You will have leftover risotto.  Refrigerate.  The next day or so, form into patties, bread and panfry.
4. Combine crushed garlic, chopped parsley, juice and zest of one lemon and olive oil to dip the leaves. 
5.  Next time I will use the pressure cooker, and cook the chokes one at a time.  I think the pressure cooker is the best method for cooking larger artichokes with a tougher heart.

The Dish Bitch
1 pasta pot with insert and lid
1 large steam canner with lid
steamer basker
cutting board
garlic press
baking dish

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What you hear

One of the things I really love about my neighborhood is the rich soundscape.  Tonight, I can't sleep. As I walk the floor, I'm really aware of how quiet it is.  There's whir and wine of the occasional car, helicopter buzzing by, once in awhile a plane.  In the background, the sound of a river flowing, that is actually the BQE.

In a couple of hours, the Staten Island Ferry will resume its horn blasts to announce it's leaving the dock, and the MTA work trains will start rumbling through, blowing their horns.  The "flowing river" will turn to "rushing river" as morning breaks.

Sometimes there's the pop and explosion of FIREWORKS as yet another cruise ship makes its way out of the harbor.  Sometimes there's music, thumping of bass from cars, kids playing or the ice cream truck sing-songing.  There's the sound of people, walking talking, arguing, walking their dogs, just doing their thing.

And languages: I think I'll try counting those instead of sheep.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


For 52 Weeks of Baking Week #7, I made Cornbread in a cast iron "wedge" pan.  The recipe is from the Lodge Cast Iron Cookware website

1 1/4 C cornmeal
1/2 t salt
1T baking powder
2/3 C flour
1/4 C sugar
1 egg
1 C milk
1/4 oil
3 T mayonnaise

Preheat oven to 425.  Spoon a dollop of shortening into a skillet and place in oven while preheating.  Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Combine wet ingredients in a large liquid measuring cup.  Pour wet ingredients into dry, mix well.  Remove skillet from oven.  Pour batter into skillet and bake 20-25 minutes.

What I Learned
1.  This recipe makes enough batter for a larger pan, most likely an 8" square or a 10" skillet.  I overfilled the cups and still had about 1/2 C of batter left.  Next time I will fill the cups less and pour the remaining batter in a cornstick pan.  I like the circus tent/ flower/ wheel of the year effect that resulted from the over filled cups. 

2. Surprisingly, it was fairly easy to remove using a pancake turner type spatula. Just cut along the score lines with the spatula, then gently wiggle it between the straight edge of the pan and lift up the cornbread.  I did follow the directions to heat the pan in the oven.  I did not have shortening, so I greased the pan with sunflower oil prior to heating.  I took care to get into the corners of the pan, and greased the top of the spokes.

3. I used stoneground white cornmeal.  This gave the bread texture, but it was a bit gritty.  Next time I will try a finer grind.

4.  I think the recipe could be improved with a bit more sugar.  I think 1 T would do the trick, either added to the batter or sprinkled on top of the batter before baking.

5.  Mayonnaise.  Weird.  You could taste a hint of it.  I think an extra tablespoon of sugar will counteract the slight flavor.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Artichoke Frittata

Barnacle Bill and I LOVE artichokes.  It is one of the very few vegetables that we will buy, regardless of origins.  Seriously, we are artichoke addicts.  One year, just after Thanksgiving, we bought a case of artichokes.  The price was right, around $10 for 30 artichokes. We cleaned, steamed, marinated and froze them.  It was a satisfying project that kept us happily feasting on 'chokes through the winter.

A couple of years ago we went to California in November. We ate artichokes to our hearts content: in soup, in bread, in salads. For breakfast the day we left the Central Coast, we had artichoke omelets at Duarte's Tavern in Pescadero, CA. They were amazing: a tender crepelike omelets folded around a pile of sliced al dente artichoke hearts and mozzarella cheese.
This week we went a little crazy.  On Wednesday, we bought 4 normal artichokes.  On Thursday, during a rare stop at Whole Foods, we were tempted by 2 lovely long stemmed King artichokes.  I will ask Bill to take a photo: my photography skills will not do them justice.

Anyway, inspired by the memory of a great vacation, Swapbot Baking and a fridge full of beautiful 'chokes, I made frittata for breakfast.

Arichoke Frittata

4 large artichokes
1 lemon

4 eggs
2 oz cheddar, shredded
1 teaspoonful chopped garlic
salt and pepper

Up to five days in advance:
Trim the tops of the artichokes, and peel the stems with a vegetable peeler.  Place them upside down in a in a pressure cooker on and squeeze lemon juice over all.  Sprinkle with salt, and add water to cover the tops of the 'chokes.  Bring pressure cooker up to full pressure, and cook 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool naturally.  Place in a container and store for up to 5 days.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Clean the artichokes by pulling off the outer leaves, and removing the choke.  Slice the hearts and stems. Heat a cast iron skillet on the stove.  Whisk eggs, salt and garlic in a bowl, gently fold in 'chokes and cheddar.  When the skillet is hot, add oil, then add egg mixture to the skillet in the oven.  Bake 20 - 25 minutes or until the frittata is puffed and brown.

What I Learned
The pressure cooker is an excellent way to cook artichokes.  It is energy efficient and much quicker than boiling or steaming.  Using a crockpot is also a timesaver.  Prep as you would for the pressure cooker, but put in your crockpot on high for 4 hours.   The outer leaves will retain a little bit of artichoke heart: save them to serve with dip.