Archive for the ‘Narrative’ Category

Salad Days and Sustainable Seafood

Recipe: Lemon Shallot Shrimp Salad

Sometimes, nothing beats a salad for dinner; on hot days, in August for instance. Or in January. I love roast chicken, tagines, chili, lasagna and cheese, all the typical comfort foods as much as anyone – more, probably.  But I take comfort in salad, too.

We’re lucky here in the Puget Sound. Greens grow abundantly pretty much all year round. Last week I came home from the farmers market with a huge bag of arugula and bundles of kale and rainbow chard.

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Savoring the sour: Tamarind Tofu Noodles

Recipe: Tamarind Tofu Noodles

Last week it was lemon ice cream –  today it’s tamarind noodles, and Friday a post about a lemon shallot shrimp salad. Maybe it’s a salt hangover from Charcutepalooza. (Have you seen the contest winning post? It’s really something special.) All I know is that I’m all about sour flavors right now.

I love tanginess almost as much as I love the heat of chilies – which probably explains my strong attraction to South Asian food. Sour and hot? Hand it over, now.

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It all started with an Ice Cream Manifesto

Recipe: Tart Lemon Blackberry Swirl Ice Cream

After two full years of making my own ice cream, it’s become second nature; easy even. If I have eggs, sweetened condensed milk, half-half, and whole milk in the house, I can come up with almost any flavor, and end up with a creamy, yet firm texture.

I’m ridiculously proud of this skill. It’s a case where practice has made, if not perfect, at least a huge difference. I can look at the warm custard and tell if it is going to freeze properly – not too hard, not too chalky, but with just the right mouth feel.

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Seeking New Traditions: Indian Food

Recipe: Chicken with Red Chilies

K.M. and I tend to make the same few Indian favorites, over and over again. Chicken Rolls, Chicken with Almonds and Sultanas, and Shrimp in a Dark Sauce, (both from Madhur Jaffery’s Indian Cooking), and Alu Kabli. They are all spectacular dishes – but how did we end up reducing the cooking of one of the worlds’ most vibrant and interesting countries down to four dishes?

It’s not like K.M. grew up eating just these four dishes. Not one of them is even a Bengali recipe. So one of my goals for the New Year is to break out of the rut – use the cookbooks I have and look for some new ideas. I went to a food photography workshop back in November and was lucky enough to meet Sala – the talent behind the blog Veggie Belly. I was blown away by her photos and her Indian recipes – and I’m excited to start cooking from her blog.

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Christmas Bars

Recipes: Candy Cane Brownies, Butter Rum Blondies with Chocolate Chips

We’re keeping things minimal this holiday season. With so much of our stuff in storage, it seems crazy to do much decorating, and anyway, the house we are in right now is too small for two big dogs, a tiny cat, two humans and a Christmas tree.

I’m not going to send many cards this year – but, that doesn’t mean I’ve become the Grinch. I bought a beautiful handmade wreath at our farmers market, and I’m making up care packages for our closest friends. And I’m planning a family brunch for New Year’s Day.

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Charcutepalooza: A Year of Meat, Chaos and Hope

Recipes: Duck Prosciutto Fig Spread, Mostly Poultry Cassoulet

It’s been a year of living dangerously: curing raw meat, making cheese, tending bread and yogurt starter, making sauerkraut in crock that belonged by my great-grandmother – a year of re-defining normal. And I owe the attitude that fueled all that to Charcutepalooza. I started out nervous. And I’m ending triumphant, with a renewed enthusiasm for all things culinary.

Would I have started making my own cream cheese if I hadn’t signed on? Would I have decided my diet is best defined by a proactive standard, i.e. humanely raised, locally grown, fair trade, etc. versus just drawing an arbitrary line in the sand and eating “no mammals” without Charcutepalooza?

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Food Network Virtual Thanksgiving: Blue Cheese and Rosemary Celebration Potatoes

Recipe: Celebration Potatoes

This year is the Food Network’s first ever virtual Thanksgiving. Featuring recipes from all over the web – from food blogs of all sizes and scopes, this compilation is sure to be helpful if you (like me) are still in the planning stages of your Thanksgiving meal. Time has just gotten away from me this year. I know it is mid-November already, but my personal calendar is still stuck somewhere in October.

I’m really lucky the next Charcutepaloza deadline isn’t till December 1st.

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The Road To Cassoulet

In an ideal world this post would include a recipe, rather than just a link, for cassoulet– the classic French bean dish that I have yet to make. I’m half way there – yesterday I made duck confit – duck legs preserved in fat; an essential element of cassolet.

But while I’m excited about what I have done this month for Charcutepalooza, skinning and boning a duck for roulade, rendering duck fat, and making the confit, the cassoulet will have to wait.

An old friend I haven’t seen in five years arrives for a weekend visit tonight with her daughter. And someone very close to me goes in for important surgery next week. I’m saving the duck legs for her recovery. It’s going to be a celebratory cassoulet for a Sunday dinner sometime soon. I’ve got a lot of hope pinned to those duck legs.

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A Five Dollar Fairy Tale

Recipe:Black Bean Soup with Roasted Corn and Indian Spices

Slow food shouldn’t have to cost more than fast food. This was the tag line for Slow Food USA‘s recent $5 challenge: sharing a fresh, healthy meal with loved ones, friends, or strangers for less than $5 a person.

I’m not sure how much of a challenge it was – the reality is that anyone who participated in the challenge, is probably already a slow food cook; someone who has the knowledge, access,
resources and the time to cook from scratch with real ingredients. If you work a 16 hours just to make ends meet, or live in a food dessert, a cooking challenge from Slow Food USA is about as interesting as a green energy tax credit. It’s a fairy tale.

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Procrastination and Half-Baked Paté

 Fear is always at the root of serious procrastination; fear masquerading as self-doubt, the nagging worry that I’m not up to the task at hand.  And in this case, fear that I might not like the final product.

This month’s Charcutepalooza challenge is packing – making paté, or pork pie.  I know from following the charcutepalooza twitter stream that it’s been a dream challenge for many Charcutepaloozians –Francophiles and many others who are accomplished and experienced in all things meat.

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