Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Onion Soup and Sadness

Recipe: Rustic Onion Soup

All things end. But I don’t have to like it.

That’s what I wrote the day it became clear that my Cousin Helen’s cancer was both terminal, and progressing quickly. She was just short of eighty;  she lived with humor, grace, passion, and an undercurrent of strength.

My best friend called me last week to say her Dad is dying. I’m never ready for this news, always brought short by the inadequacy of words.

I took to the kitchen for my own comfort.  This soup is one to make on dark, cold days – be that the external or internal forecast. It’s not fast, but you can cry as you slice the massive amount of onions, and then, as they roast in the oven for two hours, you’ll start to pull it together as their earthy aroma permeates the house.

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From My Bookshelves: Matthew Kenney’s Mediterranean Cooking

From My Bookshelves is an occasional book review series – featuring my cookbook collection. A few years ago, I pared my burgeoning cookbook shelves back to just the essentials. It had to happen. No one likes a hoarder. If I recommend a book, it’s because I’ve cooked from it and love it – not because someone’s given me a free copy.  Occasionally, I may review other types of food writing too.

Recipe: Bitter Greens with Spiced Almonds

Want to be a hero among your friends? Always volunteer to bring the salad. Much of the time, green salads are an afterthought – but they can be so much more.  Salad opens the palate at the beginning of a meal, or provides a refreshing respite at the end.

My go-to salad evolved from a recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks.

My friend Lisa gave me Matthew Kenney’s Mediterranean Cooking for Christmas back in 1997, the year it was published. The book focuses on the flavors of the Mediterranean rim – in addition to recipes from Spain and Italy, the countries represented here include Morocco, Egypt and Turkey. Kenney states in the introduction that his recipes aren’t necessarily traditional in technique, or even ingredients. His goal is to bring traditional Mediterranean rim flavor profiles to American home cooks. And how did he succeed, at least in my kitchen.

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Pineapple Chicken And Food For Thought

Recipe: Pineapple Chicken with Kale and Barley

It’s cold this morning. Today was my first dog walk wearing a heavy coat and gloves. And how nice it was to return to a warm, dry house, electricity, plumbing, and privacy; all the comforts of middle class infrastructure.

Just a few of the things that many of those hit hardest by Sandy last week are still doing without. When Barbara at Creative Culinary and Jenn at Jenn Cuisine sent out a call last week for the food blogging community to step up for Sandy’s victims, donate to the Red Cross, and to blog about comfort food, I knew I had to be a part of it.  Join us – read the posts, follow the hashtag #FBS4Sandy on twitter, and most importantly of all, please give to the Red Cross.  Last night a nor’easter rolled into the tri-state area. It wasn’t as severe as originally predicted, thankfully, but imagine facing a winter storm a week after your home and life washed away. Or even just without power.

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Bread Pudding Chez Nora

Recipe: Bread Pudding with Salted Butterscotch Sauce

I ate bread pudding for dinner last night.

My mother didn’t serve Yorkshire pudding [with roast beef]…My mother served potato pancakes instead. I serve Yorkshire pudding and potato pancakes. Why not, you only live once.”
–          From ‘Serial Monogamy’

One of my favorite writers died this week. Nora Ephron may be better known as the queen of  romantic comedy, but she was much more. She was a real writer, concerned with craft, timing and the art of storytelling.

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Crustacean Crush

Recipe: Vintage Crab Cocktail

I lived on the East Coast for seven years, but I never really fell for lobster or lobster rolls. They’re good, particularly in Maine, along the coast, but they just never made me swoon. It’s not just a West Coast bias – I still dream of the fried clams on Cape Cod, for instance.

But when it comes to crustaceans, I am a Dungeness crab-girl. It’s a treat I will forever associate with trips to the beach as a kid, and the taste of the summer. The Washington coast Dungeness season typically runs from December through September.

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Carrots are Divine

Recipe: Spicy Carrot Pudding

I’m a child of the ’70s. If Bugs Bunny says it, believe it.*

Carrots are the first thing I ever grew from seed. My parents were big landscape gardeners, but not much into food gardening.  My mother planted cucumbers on the south side of our house one year, and the vines actually climbed up the house and under the siding – anything goes for heat-loving plants in the Pacific Northwest. Some years she grew corn, and almost always pumpkins and tomatoes – but it was too haphazard to be called a garden.

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Eating With My Fingers

I love flatbread.  I adore the taste, the crispness with just the right amount of give – but really, flatbreads; naan, parathas, pooris, even pita bread – are a means to an end. They give me the freedom to eat with my fingers. The smallest bit of bread makes any dish manageable with just a thumb and two fingers.

For some Westerners it’s a skill that has to be acquired. Not for me. I jumped right in on my first trip to India  – to the astonishment of my Indian family.  Eating with your hands gives you a new way to appreciate the texture of food and for me, turns every bite into a conscious act.  If I could get away with it, I’d ditch the silverware at every meal.

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Wild About Nettles

Recipe: Pasta with Caramelized Onions and Stinging Nettles

Wild food has a primal call. Catching a fish, digging clams, hunting (I suspect), and even picking a stinging nettle. Okay, there’s no danger involved with nettle gathering – being stung by a nettle is a weird, tingly sensation, but really not painful at all – but it’s still empowering.

So when a friend offered me one last chance to gather nettles this year, I didn’t hesitate, in spite of the persistent rain. (Once the nettles are more than a foot or so high, it’s too late to harvest. Older plants don’t taste great and contain calcium crystals that are hard to digest) Mid-May is really late for gathering nettles, even here in the Northwest. We were lucky to find any.

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Of Granola and Grey Hair

Recipe: Cacao Nib Granola

Granola is a loaded word. Even today, it’s not just about the cereal – it’s about a lifestyle. Especially if you make your own – something I’ve been doing for years.  For a long time I thought it wasn’t really worth blogging about, till I gave some to a friend and she started raving about it.

Eventually every food blogger posts a recipe for granola, anyway, right? Just as it was in the ’60s it’s certainly one of the gateway foods for a do-it-yourself lifestyle.  Ironically, the word granola was once a trademark; a cereal created by Kellogg’s, in the 1880’s, consisting of baked and ground  oats, wheat and cornmeal.

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Indian Carrot Pudding with Raisins and Pistachios

Recipe: Indian Carrot Pudding with Raisins and Pistachios

Confession: I’ve never eaten carrot halwa in India.  Yet it is one of my favorites – and a dessert I’ve been making for nearly two decades.  It’s a good thing I live with someone who knows how it ought to taste and can veto any adaptations that go too far. But I still think it’s safer to call my version carrot pudding.

Indian sweets are a special treat. A few of my favorites include kalakand, laddu, pesta barfi, and peda – we don’t buy them very often, (though there are local sources) and I have yet to attempt to make them. When my Mother-in-law comes to visit with a box or two, we cherish them till every bite is gone.

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