Thursday, February 28, 2013

The last February salad

It’s sloshy outside, a rain-snow mess, but fortunately, no snow shoveling required. The town empties out, most people disappear for the next two weeks, flying to sunnier, warmer skies and beaches or just home. When I made my salad today I wondered where the strawberries came from. In which part of the world it is strawberry season right now. Florida? The cats still curl up right next to the electric radiator and sleep because they think the 65F thermostat of the house is too cold for them, their little fury butts better get warmed by the radiator. Bye, bye, February!

another_feb_salad

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Good hope approaching

January, there is no hope. February is the month of slight hope, but not this year with snow storms galore each weekend. But we are on the brink of March, and March is good hope. Good hope for the snow to melt and the temperatures to rise, and a whiff of spring on a few days, shedding layers and wearing real shoes again. First of all, there is spring break, good weather or not, that’s one of the best parts of March.

Maybe, I even get around to cook something interesting again, instead of taking myself out more often than not, because it just collapses shopping, chopping, cooking, eating and cleaning up into well, eating.

Salad: radicchio, red cabbage, red beets, fennel, cherry tomatoes and balsamic vinaigrette.

late_winter_salad

Friday, February 22, 2013

Red spaghetti

It looks like there is the 3rd snowstorm in a row on the way for the weekend. Hmm. Good timing.  But today it is sunny, the days are longer and it starts to get me into spring spirit. I am looking forward to go to the farmers market again, to bike, to be in the garden even to lawn mow. Ah, anticipation! It will still be quite a while but I thought about planting seeds today for this summer's laminate kale.

Bright sunshine and bright outlook with today's spaghetti in red, tinted by some fresh beets, together with baby spinach, mushroom and cherry tomatoes. 


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Rebooting my outlook on life

These last weeks, months, have been exceptionally busy so that I made it simpler for myself otherwise in my life. I cut myself some slack on exercising and instead pampered my days and evenings with a little bit more off time (speak, netflix movies, lounging on the couch). And the consequence of all this self pampering? I got crankier and crankier and start to doubt the direction my life is taking again. I grew a serious chip on my shoulder. Yesterday, after a new layer of fresh powder, despite the wind, I put on my skis and went out for an hour in the fresh air, huffing and puffing, realizing how out of shape I am. I hadn’t been that weak in years. I continued to mumble to myself, grouchy at everything, snarky remarks hurled at events in my life….. but on the last third of my ski, I realized my head and the cranky thoughts had disappeared, I felt content with life again, instead of being stuck in my thoughts I sensed the wonderful surroundings of the snow packed woods and the evening sun. I packed up, sat in my office, and life was ok again. Nothing had changed --- I just got some fresh air and some exercise for an hour, my bloodstream soaked up some oxygen. The magic of fresh air to cheer you up.

Whatever the pressures of life and deadlines, don’t cut down on exercise or a walk outdoors, even if it seems like just another chore. Your outlook on life will thank you.

shaved_salad

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Rice Cubes

The nice powdery snow delivered by last weekend’s blizzard immediately converted to soggy puddles this week thanks to warm temperatures. I did not manage a single vicarious ski in the snow at least once. We will get new snow this weekend, even another blizzard. It feels like “blizzard, shoveling, work, repeat“ around here. Not sure how much snow it will be and how long it will stick around and how much opportunity for fresh air outdoor upper body exercise it will actually provide. But, alas, winter in Maine.

For a while I’ve been disturbed by the trend of people buying  precooked, ready to serve rice. Disturbed by the fact of how expensive those pre-cooked portions are compared to buying dry rice. Shakes her head. think about all the good shoes you could buy for that.

I admit that cooking just portions of rice can be cumbersome, but how about cooking a big batch, like 2 cups of dry rice, in the rice cooker and then freeze it. But then, how to freeze really small portions without fiddling too much with ceran wrap? The icecube tray!

Freezing: I cooked 2 cups of arborio rice (the smaller, and rounder the rice, the better this works, especially getting fluffy rice during reheating) with 4cups of water in the rice cooker. I let it slightly cool, and stuffed it into an ice cube tray. Freeze it for 12h (or less), run hot water over the bottom of the tray, and remove the cubes and place in freezer ziplock bag. Freeze in a ziplock bag.

Reheating: Correct reheating is key --- steaming it is important because otherwise the rice will be dry and crumbly if it is only warmed up in the microwave. Reheating is easily achieved by adding some water when reheating in the microwave, and also use a lid ----Place rice cubes in a microwave safe dish with a lid and microwave with ca 1 teaspoon of water per rice cube for ca. 1 min/frozen rice cube. (3 ice cubes, 1 TB of water, 2-3min). Place directly into soups and stews.
freezing_rice_1
freezing_rice_2

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Coconut Chocolate Cake, Round 2

I found another coconut cake recipe, very similar to the flourless coconut cake but this time with flour and also with butter. With the flour the cake rises and is less dense, with still the great taste of coconut. This one is pretty fabulous for the traditionalists!

coconut_Cake_3

Coconut Chocolate Cake
(for a 9 inch spring form)
  • 100 g butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 ts vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 TB baking powder
  • 1 cup coconut flakes (I used unsweetened)
Glaze:
  • 1 cup semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Lindt couverture, a bulk product for pastry chefs, often found at Lindt Stores)
  • 1 TB butter
Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350F. Melt the butter in a microwave safe dish in the microwave on high for 20 seconds.In a kitchen standmixer with a paddle attachment, beat the better and the sugar until fluffy. Add the vanilla extract, and then 1 egg at a time. Mix in the salt and the heavy cream until well-combined. Slowly add in the flour and the coconut. The dough texture at this point is firm (see photo below).

coconut_Cake_1

Spray a springform pan with baking spray (mix of butter and flour), pour in the batter, and bake at 350F for 55min. Let cool and remove from pan.

coconut_Cake_2

Pour the chocolate chips (or couverture) in a microwave-safe dish and microwave for 30sec on high. Stir, and microwave for 30sec, and stir. Repeat until the chocolate is melted (if you don’t do it in step, and stir, the chocolate will burn).
Pour the melted chocolate on the cake, distributed with the backside of a spoon evenly. Let cool until firm. Serve!


Monday, February 11, 2013

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Shaved Fennel and Red Cabbage salad

The snow stopped last night and my workout was, as usual for these kind of days, shoveling the driveway. Fresh air, upper body strength, who needs weights or WODs, no? Today, the sun came out but I was too wiped out to go skiing from shoveling the masses of snow yesterday. The snow was up to my thigh, powdery, but nevertheless. Feeling like a tired Hercules, I took it easy, and made myself a crunchy salad: shaved fennel with shaved red cabbage and a Asian dressing. Fabulous!
red_cabbage_fennel_salad
  • half bulb of fennel, shaved with mandolin
  • 1/8th of a medium size head of red cabbage
  • 1/4 red bell pepper, small dice
  • fennel prawns for decoration
  • Marinade:
    • juice of 1/2 orange
    • orange zest of half orange
    • 1/2 sesame oil
    • 1 ts soy sauce
    • 1/2 ts red pepper flakes
    • 1/2 ts honey

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Snowmageddon 2013

Yes, it snowed. Overnight the wind started to howl around the house and the snow kept coming, blowing sideways. This morning I realized that the snow drift along the doors almost made it impossible to open them. The garage doors covered halfway up, I had my morning exercise cut out for me. It is not even over yet and we are not having the worst of it. I keep checking the animated prediction of the rest of the storm to plot when I am going to dig myself out. Tonight, earliest.

Everyone is scooped up indoors, the occasional dog walker and dog barks but otherwise only howling winds. Not even the snow plowers making their rounds.

Snowmageddon.










Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese

It looked like spring for a week (did not feel like it with the temperatures) but… there is a blizzard on the way. Two feet of snow? We’ll see. Maybe, the storm still decides to head out to sea which would be just fine with me.

The other day I came across an interesting recipe for vegan bolognese using ‘aged’ fresh mushroom as the base. Chopping up about a pound of baby portabellas, shitake and oyster mushroom and letting them ferment in the warm air for about 30min –1h. They get brown, which they should and develop an earthy deep flavor which makes them almost in-distinguishable from meat in the sauce. Chanelle even offered to watch the mushroom on the woodstove ;-)

veg_bolognese_mush

cat

veg_bolognese

Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese

makes 2 portions

Sauce:

  • 1 pound of fresh mushroom (button mushroom are fine, using exotic ones even better)
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and finely dices
  • 1 rib of celery, cleaned and finely diced
  • 1 TB of olive oil
  • 1 Tb tomato paste
  • 1 regular sized can of tomato sauce (fire roasted would be good)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 ts rosemary
  • 1 ts thyme
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • 1 TB vegan (soy) cream
  • 1 ts sugar

Pasta:

  • 4 oz of pasta, cook to instructions

In a food processor, coarsely chop the mushroom. Distribute on a baking sheet and let ferment in warm air (or an oven heated at 100F) for about 30min.

In a large pan, heat the olive oil and fry the onions. Once browned, add the carrots, celery and the mushroom. Saute for about 2 min, and then add the tomato sauce, the herbs and sugar. Simmer for about 20min. Add the cream and add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with pasta! (and, in my case Brussels sprouts).

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Feels like springtime

A wad of rain and mild temperature washed away almost 95% of the snow we had a few days ago. Surprisingly, the lawn underneath is still green, not the yellow look of death as usual. With plenty of sunshine and the renewed chilly temps watched only from inside of a warm car or house, it feels like spring is here. Let’s skip right to summer, please! Oh well, no time (yet) to get our hopes up because there is still the whole of February before us and this is still Maine, afterall. But Phil, the groundhog, also predicted an early spring.

With that I baked off the last winter squash today, and served it on top of winter salad, radicchio and balsamic vinaigrette and dried cranberries.

radicchio_squash