Saturday, December 31, 2011

Best of 2011 List

this is a potpourri of the best things of 2011 that I enjoyed this year:

B2011-LR

Best Song:

  • “Firework” Katy Perry

Best Movie:

  • Inside Job
  • The King’s Speech  (technically they are 2010, but I am a netflix gal)
  • The Social Network
  • A Crude Awakening
  • The girl with the dragon tattoo, played with fire, hornets nest, etc. (the originals)

Best TV Series (watched one episode after another on Netlfix instant play):

  • Glee
  • Gossip Girl
  • Weeds

Best Music video:

  • Will Schuster in Glee, Season 1 Acafellas

Best Villain:

  • Sue Sylvester

Best Books: (technically, audiobooks)

Best Laugh:

Best Kitchen Gadget:

  • Tripli non-stick saute pan, Giada Di Laurentiis for Target (still looks like brand new after 2 months).
  • (2010 it was the Vitamix)

Best Electronic Gadgets:

Most mourned deaths:

  • Steve Jobs
  • Amy Winehouse
  • Elisabeth Taylor

Thing most wasted time on:

  • Watching Kim Kardashian’s Fairytale Wedding

Let’s see what next year brings. Happy 2012!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Ice Beach

The days between Christmas and New Year are spent by many people at either one of 2 locations: the cold mountains, skiing, snowboarding, Aspen and the like, or at a warm beach, like St Barts or Miami. Yesterday, I took my last trip of 2011 to the ocean at Mount Desert Island, and I did not have to choose, I had both, the ocean, the beach and the snow and the ice. A beautiful atmosphere. 

winter_bh3-LR
Vacation includes fine dining. Mine was tapas at the ever beautiful Cleonice in Ellsworth.
cleo-1LR

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Winter Cat

Chanelle told me he has blog envy, with all the other cats being featured on the blog. So, here you go, darling, no need to be jealous (in my best Lisa Vanderpumps voice).

chanelle2LR

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Lentil patties

I mentioned them the other day, the baked lentil patties. They are great as sides, salad ingredients, for sandwiches and just as snacks. I made several versions since then, and they are all very tasty, hot as well as cold. One version is vegan using a flax egg, and the other uses eggwhites, which seems to hold the patties  together better. I also baked them in the oven and fried them (with very little oil). Fried was better because the baked ones stuck to the foil.
The fabulous ingredients about these patties is still the chopped medjool dates, which makes them surprisingly sweet with the smokey-ness of cumin and mexican oregano in the background. I like vegan dishes spicy, so I added some Sriracha to the mixture. Herbs like thyme would be great, too.
  • 1/2 cup dried lentils (red, green or beluga, or all of them)
  • 1/4 cup dried chickpeas
  • 1 bay leaves
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 cups water (as soaking liquid)
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 flax eggs or 2 eggwhites (flax egg: 1 TB ground linseeds, 2 TB water, mixing and waiting for 5 min for them to gel)
  • 1 ts cumin
  • 1/2 ts sweet paprika
  • 1 ts mexican oregano
  • 4 TB Trader Joes red pepper spread
  • 1 TB hot sauce (Sriracha, optional)
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • 5 medjool dates, chopped
Fill the lentils and chickpeas into a jar with sufficient space, and fill up with water. Let stand for about 10h until the lentils and the chickpeas soaked up the water and doubled in volume. Now, pour the lentils and chickpeas with the soaking liquid in a pot, add more water so that the lentil are covered, add a peeled, sliced garlic clove and 1 bay leaf, bring to a boil and let simmer on medium-low for 40 min until the lentils and chickpeas are tender. 

lentils_soaked
Drain the lentils and chickpeas, remove the bay leaf, keep the garlic clove, and pulse the mixture coarsely in a food processor. The mixture should keep a lot of texture and not be too smooth.
In a mixing bowl, mix the chopped lentils and chickpeas with the remaining ingredients. Mix well. Heat a pan with some olive oil so that the patties won’t stick. Form little patties (I got about 25 small patties from the mixture) and fry on medium heat, about 10min on the first side, and 4 min on the second side. You want to leave them in the pan (or griddle) longer at first so that they stay intact when you turn them over. Serve!
Lentilpatties

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Hidden Treasures

Today I did something that I normally don’t allow myself doing. Visit the Humane Society. Because one of these wonderful animals always tugs at my heart strings and I end up with a new cat (I have 4). But how can you walk away? So, instead I would like to ask you to visit your local Humane Society and see if you find a wonderful animal who you adopt into your family. Or just go and play with the cats and dogs for a bit, bring them a toy, a treat, make their day. 

HS1

Here is the first inmate I entertained today. A wonderful 2-year old long-haired gray-white girl. Very smart, very loving. And while I played someone stuck a sticker on her kennel. “I’ve been adopted !”. I am not surprised. 

HS2

I almost adopted her myself. 

HS3

And then there was the nursery. With 4 little, 3-months old brothers, 3 orange tabbies and one gray kitten, scared to death. The only place to hide was the litterbox.
 
HS4

Or behind the cushions.

HS5

Maybe, the litterbox is better after all. 

HS6

So, go, and explore and maybe you have room for one more kitten or cat or dog.

Winter in New England

There is some snow, not as much as usual yet, but it still makes for the wintery atmosphere we associate with New England. Looking at the photos it reminds me of the winter scenes of Valley of the Dolls, the 60s movie about four different women. Not much has changed. At least not in the wintery scenes of New England. It is serene, quiet and beautiful. 

frozen river
winterNE-1LR
winter NewEngland

Monday, December 26, 2011

Potato, Potahto. It’s all just a lahtke to me.

We got a few inches of snow last night, not much to speak of, but cold temperatures and after days of being sequestered under the Christmas tree I took the chance for a ski. The air was crisp, the sun peeked through the trees, and there was enough snow to glide above the surface working up a sweat. This called for a pre-ski snack. The frozen latkes I had picked up at Trader Joes last time came in handy. I heated up a latke straight from the freezer, it took maybe 10 min and tasted like freshly made --- crispy on the outside and smooth-potato-ey on the inside. I also heated a few of the spicy lentil patties, which I had baked instead of fried. The chopped medjool dates gave them a wonderful sweetness in contrast to the smokey and spicy flavor and burger-like texture. All rounded out with some mixed green, black cherry vinaigrette, and sauteed mushrooms. 

skifood-1LR

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Someone around here asked Santa for a Christmas sweater… doesn’t she look happy? 

manols manols2

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The sparkly spark solstice

It is Christmas week, hard to believe. It still seems so busy and not slowing down at all. I guess it does happen when Christmas Eve falls on a Saturday. Work finally did slowed down and I made a pre-holiday trek to the Big City to stock up on Trader Joes and Whole Foods groceries. Whole Foods had Emi Fondue to sample (which is the best, beside home-made fondue from scratch) and Trader Joes latkes. Flowers, cheese platters, cured olives in bulk at ‘extreme’ low prices, even caviar at Trader Joes,….holiday items in full swing, the holiday crowds not (yet). Loved the stores in the mall that already sold their merchandise at 40% off because they would do anyway next week. Sparkly spark for shoes, glittery dresses. It might be the darkest day of the year, but humans invented glitter and candlelight.
 
tj-holiday-3.LR

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Winter Vegetables

It is colder outside, milder than usual this time of the year in Maine, but a mix of rain and snow and a gray sky makes for warm comfort food. Salads are typically a combination of chopped raw vegetables, but a winter version is a combination of precooked or prebaked winter vegetables ---- in my case today it was a freshly sauteed portalla mushroom with olive oil thyme baked butternut squash cubes, chickpeas and french string beans baked with red onion slivers, all heated in a skillet and served with feta crumbles. My kind of winter salad. Looks the ground outside, mostly green with a few snow flakes.

winter_vegetables

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Adventures in Nut Butters

This morning, I saw several home-made almond butters as gifts for the holidays. They looked so luxurious and with a texture just like the Justin’s maple almond butter I am out of, so I decided to give nut butter my first try. A cup of raw almonds, mixed with 1 tablespoon of maple syrup, a tablespoon of chia seeds and a tablespoon of dark flax seed as well as 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and a 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt. I mixed it all up, and distributed the almonds on a baking sheet, and roasted them at 300F for about 20min. Now, the food processor got to work. And to work,  it did get.

I poured all the almonds in the food processor, added a 1/2 TB of honey and pulsed the nuts. I scraped down the walls a  few times, and then let it run. And let it run. And let it run. According to the recipe it should be buttery after 10min. But after 10 min it still looked like coarse dark almond meal (center picture). So, I let the processor run for another 5 min, and another 5 min, and another 5 min….. For a while there I suspected that the only thing that would get to a liquid consistency would be the food processor’s motor. But I put faith in those recipes telling me “Be patient!” After about 30min, I gave it a rest (and the food processor a cool down). It looked like the picture in the bottom right, a thick fudge like consistency. After another 1/2 hour I added a tablespoon of sunflower seed oil, and let the food processor do its thing a while longer. 

Overall, it took about 1 hour until the almond butter had the required consistency (top right picture). Phew! Tastes good, though. And the food processor survived, too. 

nutbutter-3.jpg-LR

Does your cat still need a holiday present?

Here are a few ideas. Some, he/she will appreciate, others not so much. Worst case, the yarn itself will always be welcomed. 

cat_xmas-1

Friday, December 9, 2011

Mini Apple Pie, just for me!

Williams Sonoma sells these adorable (and practical!) ruffled mini pie pans from Henry Emile. I own the big one in white, but I don’t bake large pies that often, but the small one came in handy for those spontaneous mini pies. Crust or not, I tried it out today with some of the last apples from the farmers market that had lost their crisp, and would be perfect for as baked apples. I peeled 2 large apples, cored and diced them, and mixed them with 2 TB of multigrain flakes (or rolled oats), a teaspoon of lemon, a tablespoon of maple syrup, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract and a pinch of ground cloves. They were so sweet that sugar was not necessary. Once everything was mixed I poured the apples in the mini pie pan and baked them at 400F for 40min. A dollop of sweetened Greek yogurt with fresh orange zest rounded out the apple pie. Which was eaten at once.

mini_apple_mini

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Spicy Lentil Patties

THIS looks simple amazing. Check out the recipe over at veggie num num!

lentil-patty-pockets-2

Food tracking in today’s time

Sometimes we wonder why the skinny jeans sit tight. We’ve been good, right? Did everything right? Ate the right thing, and worked (out) hard? How frustrating!! But some explanatory theories are plain wrong like for example “the scale is gone off the deep end…" (or ‘I must get new batteries') or “I am getting older and now have a weird metabolism that is why I am not loosing” or “Diets are a complete mystery that have not been really solved despite the multimillion dollar industry behind it”. 

In reality, the laws of thermodynamics are intact: calories in versus calories out. However, it is more likely that our inner calorie calculator is off and we incorrectly assess calorie content of our daily meals. It can be because we underestimate the real weight of the portion and eyeball it (but then 3oz start to become more like 6oz), or we don’t know what is really in a dish when eating out (all that flavor enhancing butter smuggled into the veggies?), or simply let some ‘snacks’ or ‘that glass of wine’ slip our minds (and accounting). However, our trusty bodies account correctly. Getting the calorie equation right (that includes correct assessing how much we burn every day and not use the treadmill number at the gym which is likely based on a 180 pound 6 ft man) does works.

In our modern technology times, there are a new ways of being accountable: beside using a device like the BodyMedia sensor to track daily caloric expenditure automatically and accurately, Evernote has a new application for the IPhone to track food intact using the phone’s camera and the application. The data can be synch with a laptop-based application, and next time the jeans are tight again we can go back and wonder “did I really eat all these cookies at the holiday party?”  That is, if you take picts of the cookies, and not of the cute date next to you…. 

Also, check out Fitsugar’s How easy it is to gain a pound a week.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cinnamon-Spiced Candied Nuts

I love some crunch on my lunch time salads --- not just simple crunch with healthy nuts, but luxurious crunch with nuts candied in a tad of butter, brown sugar and sometimes a pinch of cayenne pepper. But it is the holidays, and time to change things up: time for vanilla and cinnamon. Delicious (and not just as a salad topping)! 

Cinnamon spiced candied nuts
  • 3/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 3/4 cup walnut halves, chopped into medium sized pieces (or chopped pecans)
  • 1/2 TB butter
  • 1 ts vanilla extract
  • 2 TB brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 ts ground cinnamon
  • pinch of ground cloves (cautious, this is a strong flavor, add very little).
In a large skillet melt the butter on medium heat and add the vanilla extract. Turn down the heat to low, and add the nuts, the brown sugar and the spices and salt  (it might be good to premix the spices and the sugar before adding them to the pan). Stir the mixture until all nuts are well coated. Slowly turn the heat higher to medium heat and constantly gently stir the mix. It will take about 2-3 min until you see the sugar melting and becoming candy-like, stir for 1 more minute, turn of the heat and take the pan off the stove. Gently stir the mixture for about 1 min until it is slightly cooled off, and then distributed in a single layer on a paper towel lined baking sheet. Wait about 15 min until the candied nuts are cooled and can be stored in an airtight container.

cinnamon_spiced_nuts
cinnamon_spiced_nuts2

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Baked sugar rush

One of my favorite salad and meal ingredients in the fall/winter is baked squash from my winter squash collection. With a big serrated bread knife I cautiously forcefully cut the red kuri/kabocha squash into sections, remove the seeds, and line the slices on a foil-linned baking sheet. Same with a delicata squash. Some salt and pepper, and baking for 35min at 425F. Baked squash is sweet…. like sugar.

baked_kuri

Saturday, December 3, 2011

And this is why it is called winter chard

We had snow and our first snow storm. We are back to lawn greenness and there is one plant in the garden who thrives on this weather and is enticed to growth spurts – the winter chard. Once the 1 ft of snow was gone the swiss chard reemerged with a few extra leaves. The kale is also not deterred by the weather yet.

winter_Chard_coll

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The sparklies

I am in holiday spirits but I am so crazy busy with work that I don’t get around to cook anything elaborate right now or at all. So, I leave you with my eye candy adventures these days of other blogs. For example this ridiculously beautiful holiday sparkly cake? Anyone need to bring a dessert for a holiday party and has the time to make it? The Jungle Frog’s Mascarpone Raspberry Trifle should do it!

 20111129-_MG_1414

Monday, November 28, 2011

Post holiday cheer

Starting off the post Thanksgiving week with a light fresh salad --- my favorite combination right now, chopped romaine, waterkress, chopped apple, pomegranate seeds and some dried cranberry and home-made black cherry vinaigrette.

wintersalad

Friday, November 25, 2011

Winter holiday vegan saute

After the holiday indulgences of dark meat turkey and baked sweet potato it is back to simple vegetable pans for lunch. This particular combination I have been making for a few days and love it: the twist is to saute the kale not as usual with a tangy white wine, but with a sweet marsala. Adding to the holiday twist is a chopped apple, a half portabella mushroom, chopped, both sauted with fresh grated nutmeg, fresh ground pepper and a tad of salt and allspice in an almost dry pan until the mushrooms are browned. Topped with chopped fresh kale and 2-3 TB of sweet marsala to wilt down the kale. Done! The aromas alone sing “Winter holiday!”, and the baked apple flavor and the fresh pomegranate seeds round out the luxurious dish.

holiday_sautee

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A moment of silence

On days like this, when the internet is quiet, my Google Reader stays empty, Facebook lingers and all the bloggers that blog 3X a day shroud themselves in silence, I can only imagine what everyone else is doing. I imagine people baking, cooking, roasting, laughing. Hanging out with family. Playing with new babies. Running turkey trots. Going for their first ski of the season. On days like this I wonder what Rachael Ray is really rcooking and eating after I watch her for weeks making some form or another of Thanksgiving dishes on FoodTV. At least, we know what Giada is doing today, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade and looking fabulous.

We are so used to knowing what people are doing who we might have never met yet feel oddly familiar with, and when we don’t know we can only imagine. And sometimes that seems….. even more interesting. A moment of silence.

And then, they all come back, with pictures of feasts and adventures, of shopping plans and exploits and everything is back to normal.

thanksgivingski

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving palooza

On days like this, when you have deadlines but all you want to do is take a break, relax and spend endless time cooking an elaborate lavish pumpkin pie or infuse the house with the aroma of a perfectly roasted turkey, it is harder to stick to work. When the calls for sales and endless coupon emails start ending up in your inbox already well before Thanksgiving and both Thanksgiving and Christmas seemed to be lumped into one big holiday season, it is difficult to not be scooped up in the holiday cheer. But then, why not? The bright lights of candles, silvery china and big shiny Christmas trees light up the world when nature is at its darkest. But, it is still back to work, a few more days.

happy thanksgiving break!
turkey

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Farro Risotto with Red Kuri Squash and Lemon

This a flavorful variation on the butternut squash lemon risotto I cooked the other day. Instead of arborio rice, I used farro. Farro is a similar to wheatberries. Instead of butternut squash I used unpeeled red kuri squash, which has a firm orange colored flesh and rich flavor. “Farrotto” is similarly prepared as risotto but has a more nutty flavor.
 
Farro Risotto with Red Kuri Squash and Lemon (makes 2 serving)
  • 1/2 pound peeled red kuri squash, deseeded
  • about 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 ts olive oil
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, microplaned
  • 1/2 cup farro
  • 1 Tb dried or fresh lemon thyme
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • finely grated zest of 1 organic lemon
  • freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • goat cheese crumbles
Cut the red kuri squash into small dice (1/3 of an inch). 

In a small pot, bring the vegetable stock to a simmer. Heat the olive oil in larger pot over medium heat. Add the onion and saute it, stirring them occasionally, until they are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook it until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the farro, red kuri squash, and lemon thyme. Stir  for about 3 to 4 minutes. Pour the wine into the pan and let it cook off for about 2 minutes. Add about a 1/2 cup of stock and cook, stirring it constantly and making sure to scrape around the sides, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Continue adding stock, a 1/2 cup at a time, and stirring almost constantly, until the farro grains are tender with a bit of bite, about 30 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and black pepper. Taste and add more salt and lemon juice if needed. Stir in some Parmesan cheese before serving.

red_kuri farrotto

Treasures from the last summer farmers market

We were lucky this year, the weather was mild up until a few days ago but now it is how it normally is nearing Thanksgiving: a chilly cold making everyone bundle up at the farmers market. Last opportunity to stock up on the essentials: sheep’s milk feta, beautiful lacinato kale, kuri squash, macoun apples and celeriac.

Lucky for us, the first winter farmers market is in 3 weeks….

last_FM_market_2011-5_LR

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lemon Butternut Squash Risotto

The other day I made this wonderfully flavorful and light risotto, very seasonable with butternut squash but lightened up with lemon zest and juice (find recipe here). Today’s lunch was spring lettuce, waterkress with balsamic vinaigrette, a quarter of a small baked butternut squash, lemon risotto and a sprinkle of dried cranberries, goat cheese and lemon thyme.

Butternutsquash_risotto

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Let the holiday season begin

It is hard to believe that in less than 2 weeks it is already Thanksgiving. After it, the first real snow and the christmas season are not too far. Nature provides some beautiful holiday decor this year.

holiday_decor

Friday, November 11, 2011

Roasted Red Kuri Squash

My stash of winter squash decorating my long dining room table was overflowing so it was time for a delicious, yet simple lunch: roasted red kuri squash, simply dressed with salt, pepper, Trader Joes crumbled goat cheese and fresh lemon thyme.

To roast red kuri squash, preheat the oven at 400F. Cut the kuri squash in half with a serrated bread knife. Spoon out the pumpkin seeds, and sprinkle salt, pepper and olive oil over the squash halves. Roast the squash for about 30min. Serve with goat cheese, more fresh crushed black pepper and herbs.

roasted red kuri

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cruciferous vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables? Sounds somehow….. devilish?! Oh, wait, that was lucifer…. crucifix is a cross. Anyway, the name relates to the shape of the vegetable flowers (cross-like) and not to any health endangerments, despite the name. On the contrary, according to a recent SHAPE article they are actually really helpful for shedding the last 5 pounds. And, for once, I could not agree more, from my own experience.  You have seen a lot of brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli and bok choy on this blog.

Shape article excerpt: “When you're actively trying to lose fat, focus on the type of carbohydrates you're eating—aim for more green, fibrous carbohydrates such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, asparagus, bok choy, and collard greens. These are all cruciferous vegetables and are in the running for the healthiest foods in the world.
It's important to remember that hormones play a big role in weight loss, especially the last 5 or so pounds that are so hard to lose. Cruciferous vegetables like those mentioned above contain two compounds—indole-3-carbinol and Calcium D-glucarate—that may help optimize estrogen levels, giving you an edge in revealing your abs faster. In addition to these two powerhouses, cruciferous vegetables are low calorie, high fiber, and have a low energy density. This means that you can eat a large quantity of vegetables and feel full and satisfied without consuming a lot of calories--another key for peeling away that final layer of abdominal fat.”

roasted_brussels

Tutu

This new Lululemon Athletica ad makes me want to buy a tutu. Even if I don’t do ballet.

tutu

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Vegan Kale and Frozen Grapes Smoothie

It was time for a smoothie again. Lots of kale, as usual, almond milk, a piece of frozen banana, but there were those gorgeous frozen grapes in the freezer, and so, why not? Surprisingly delicious!

Kale and Frozen Grapes Smoothie (1 serving)
  • 2 handfuls of raw kale (stems, leaves, everything)
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/4 of frozen banana
  • about 10 frozen grapes
  • 1 scoop of Vega protein powder, Berry flavor
  • liquid stevia, to taste
All in the blender (best: vitamix) and done!
grape kale smoothie

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Insanely good Turkey Gravy

Not too many more weeks before Thanksgiving, and inspiring recipes are abundant. This one deserves clipping: it is involved but  will be really worth it.

Gourmet 2005

Insanely-Involved-But-Totally-Worth-It Gravy (origin)

  • Turkey neck and giblets from your bird
  • 3 additional turkey necks
  • 2 whole chickens (or 8 leg quarters)
  • Aromatics like carrot, onion, leek, etc., to taste (optional)
  • Kombu and/or dried shitake mushroom, to taste (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon flour, or as needed
  1. A couple of days in advance, make stock using the turkey neck, extra necks and whole chickens. Start by preheating the oven to 425°F. Roughly remove all of the skin and cut off the breast meat. It’s okay to do a quick and shoddy job of both—you're just making gravy.
  2. Salt the breasts liberally and refrigerate for later. Separate the chickens into their parts and cut the necks into 3-inch segments. Place everything in a large roasting pan along with the giblets and skin off to one side.
  3. Roast for 45 minutes or until a little past golden brown. Deglaze the roasting pan, fastidiously scraping all browned bits with a wooden spatula and add the precious liquid to a stock pot along with all the bones, meat and vegetables (if you’re using them) and enough water to cover. Bundle the skins in a cheesecloth and add to the pot. (Feel free to add dried shitake or kombu to the pot if you want extra umami.)
  4. Heat your stock on high until it reaches a simmer, then turn down to low and allow to just barely simmer for about 3 hours.
  5. Strain the stock carefully into a pot with a heavy bottom and a tight fitting lid—this is your gravy pot. Discard the remaining solids, but reserve your bundle of skin, placing in back in the gravy pot as well. Refrigerate overnight.
  6. The next day, skim off the fat that has congealed on top of your stock and reserve it to make a roux a bit later on. Reduce the remaining stock to the approximate desired quantity of gravy (probably down to 3 quarts, 2 for pouring and 1 for stuffing). Once the stock has come to a boil, add your chicken breasts, turn off heat and allow breasts to poach for 10 minutes. Remove the breasts and wrap them tightly in saran wrap. Resume reduction of stock—the chicken can be used later or as a backup in case you run out of turkey.
  7. Presumably, your turkey is in the gentle roasting process by now. Interrupt your turkey roasting just long enough to obtain the drippings, ideally in something sturdy like a tempered glass measuring cup. Put the drippings in the freezer to separate; you want to keep the fat and trash the water. Fastidiously deglaze the roasting pan, adding the contents to your gravy pot.
  8. Remove the skin bundle and blend with as much stock as needed to get the blender going, probably about a cup. Reserve the resulting skin puree.
  9. In a nonstick pan, warm about 2 ounces of turkey fat (or the skimmed chicken fat) with turkey drippings and once the fat is hot, add 1 tablespoon of flour per ounce of fat. Stir over low heat until golden brown then remove from heat.
  10. Adjust the gravy to your desired consistency using a combination of turkey fat roux and skin puree. The roux will thicken but may take a moment to materialize. The skin will add unctuousness.
  11. If desired, you can puree the giblets into the gravy, or reserve to add to your stuffing. Adjust gravy to desired flavor with salt, pepper and any other accent, like a splash of vermouth.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Sunny November

After last week sneak peek of winter we are fortunately back to sunny, warm weather that everyone enjoys. This includes Tigger, the neighbors’ cat, who enjoyed a sunbath in the kale bed. BTW, Tigger says, tell your mommies that pigs might fly but cats don’t. 

We are both sad that Jack the Cat passed away.

tigger_sunningLR

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Trader Joes adventure

You probably can relate to the feeling that if you do NOT have a Trader Joes in close proximity but have to drive a few hours: if you are in Trader Joes, you feel like taking everything in the store home. Yesterday was another one of those TJ adventures. I did not buy all those things, but my camera still took the old favorites and the newbies home.

TJ-coll7T

Some of my favorites: Brussel sprouts on ‘the vine’, liberte red wine and spanakopita. And the newbies: pumpkin cheese cake anyone? I actually had my own tart phase recently.

BTW, if you are looking for a vegan pumpkin cheesecake recipe, check out Isa's.

TJ_coll4T

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hearty Vegan Chili

 This is my new favorite vegan chili due to its heartiness, being full of flavors and depth, thanks to the pureed dried chilies that are added to the base ingredients: kidney beans, corn, red bell pepper and, quite seasonally, diced butternut squash. For a non-vegan version add some ground turkey. Delicious!
  • 2 dried New Mexico chiles, stemmed, seeded and cut or torn into pieces
  • 1 large dried ancho chile, stemmed, seeded and cut or torn into pieces
  • 1/2 TB extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 TB chili powder
  • 1 ts taco seasoning (I use Old El Paseo taco seasoning}
  • 1 small can of no salt-added tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup frozen or fresh corn
  • 1/2 cup small diced butternut squash
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, and diced
  • 1 hot chili pepper
  • 1 Tb organic brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso coffee
  • One 15 to 16-ounce can dark kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • Garnishes, such as vegan sour cream, or goat cheese crumbles and chopped cilantro
Bring the New Mexico chiles and ancho chiles to a simmer in 1 cup water in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the chiles are just tender, ca. 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a blender, and add the hot chili. Holding the top on firmly with a dish towel, blend until the chile puree is smooth.
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and red onions to the pot. Saute until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Mix in the cumin, oregano, chili powder and taco seasoning. Add the tomato sauce, corn, kidney beans, butternut squash and red  bell  pepper. Also, add the chile puree from the blender, brown sugar, and espresso; stir to blend all ingredients. Bring to a simmer and cover. Simmer for about 30 min.
Season the chili with salt and pepper to taste (if necessary). Serve with sour cream, chopped cilantro and tortilla chips.
chilli_vegan

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Baby Bok Choy with Goat Cheese and Pomegranate

Today on the menu: baby bok choy and baby spinach sauted in chicken broth with goat cheese crumbles and pomegranate seeds.

bokchoy

The last days of Golden October

Today, well, today we have a historic snow storm. Besides the opportunity to photograph red leaved trees with snow cover it might not last very long. Yesterday, people seemed in a frenzy to get the garden ready, a month ahead of schedule, leaves raking and bagging, mulching and the like. Yesterday was a wonderful sunny, golden October fall day, and it was farmers market once again. The ‘table’ has rotated to all types of winter squash, root vegetables and radishes. Even colored radishes.

oct_FM