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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Roasted Kohlrabi

That white veggie on the upper left corner of the photo is not potato, nor is it turnip.
That's kohlrabi.
That's my discovery of the week.  Nutrition-wise and taste-wise.  Raw it's like a cross between cabbage, jicama, and, green apple.  Cooked it's like a sweeter version of long white turnip.
Nutritionally it's like an upper.
I know I don't have much on the plate, but it's because I wanted to have some more tomorrow, and I kept another one to eat raw.. since it's so amazing that way.
Here I've done it in the same way as I did the roasted carrots and served them along side some sunny side up eggs over fresh spinach in orange marmelade dressing.
I love discovering new vegetables!

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Spirelli'd Zucchini Linguine with Anchovies

There really are no words to describe this dinner.
Warm, fresh, filling, tart, happy, healthy...
I really didn't do much, but it worked out soooo well!
serves 1-2
1 large zucchini, spirelli'd into linguine
1 large handful fresh favas
2 handfuls fresh spinach, washed and torn
1 large handful cherry tomatoes, halved
2 small cloves garlic, grated and separated
juice from 1/2 lime
some marinated anchovies (I actually ate more than what was photographed)
sprinkle fleur de sel
lots of fresh cracked pepper
a drizzle of EVOO
a few shakes piment d'espelette
1 small sprig rosemary
sprinkle of parmesan for garnish
1.  Marinate the favas with half the lime juice and a drizzle of olive oil for a few minutes.
2.  While that is happening, toss the zucchini with half the garlic, the other half the lime juice, a sprinkle fleur de sel, some fresh pepper, a few shakes piment d'espelette, and a drizzle of olive oil.
3.  Heat a wok-like pan and add the favas with a bit of the juice.  Cook for a few minutes on high.
4.  Add a splash of olive oil and cook the spinach until it wilts.  Reserve the favas and spinach.
5.  On high heat, cook the spirelli'd zucchini.  I wanted mine al dente so I just tossed it around for a few minutes.
6.  Add the reserved veggies back into the pan along with the halved tomatoes, turn off the heat and cover for a few minutes.

Serve with marinated anchovies and a sprinkle of parmesan.

I love the hot/warm/cold mix of this.  The tomatoes were warm, but still raw, the anchovies cold, but being heated from the linguine underneath it.  It is just heaven when it comes together this way....

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Cherry Tomato Rosemary Pizza

There are other things going on here than cherry tomatoes and rosemary, but those really are the 2 main stars of this pizza.
The rosemary was mixed with olive oil and a tsp of tomato paste as the base of the pizza rubbed onto the rolled out dough.  I was planning on adding some grated garlic on there but realized I didn't have any left.
Then I was able to top with roasted zucchini, bell pepper, mozzarella, turkey ham, and some halved yellow cherries.
Cooked that on the pizza stone highest oven temperature bottom rack for almost 10 minutes, then cracked 2 egg yolks (and one of them broke I really hate it when that happens) and cooked for another 2 minutes.
Awesome.  Always use fresh yeast and your whole life will be better.
I should have used more of my yellow cherries.  I was afraid they would make the pizza too watery, but they just dazzled on there like little jewels....

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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Tahini Almond Cookies with Dates

I play around with tahini cookies quite a bit.  I mix and match the nut powders by switching out almond for hazelnut, chestnut, pine nut, or even coconut.  I play around with the flours by adjusting quantities of white, whole wheat, and sometimes buckwheat.  I mix and match the spices.. cinnamon, cardamom, pain d'epices.  My toppings, however, usually stay the same.  Some with black sesame and some with white sesame.  I do this because at any given moment I can have several different types of cookies in my cookie jar (or cookie tupperware) and the toppings make them easily recognizeable.  My peanut butter cookies usually always have chopped peanuts as a topping.  My chili cookies usually sprinkled with cayenne and sugar.  My buckwheat cookies are always accompanied by poppy seeds.
Why am I going on and on about this?
I don't know, but this time, I wanted to try dates.  They fit the theme.  Tahini.. middle east (well, kind of) home of desert candy known as dates.  This could also work with figs, which also fit the theme.
Mmm figs.
It also gives me a reason to repost the recipe I use most often for tahini.
Yield 52 cookies
140g all purpose flour
140g whole wheat flour (or just 1 cup of each)
70g (2.5oz) almond powder
100g (3.5oz) room temperature butter
150g (3/4 cup) cassonade or brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla sugar
1tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
200g (3/4 cup) tahini (I used Al Wadi)
black sesame
white sesame
split pitted dates
1.  Sift together the flours, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg, then add the almond powder and mix well with your hands so everything is evenly distributed.  My almond powder is moist so it clumps together if I don't get my hands in there.  Set aside.
2.  In a separate mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars together, then add the tahini and beat until smooth.  Mmm tahini.  You know if your tahini is top quality if it tastes good raw when you lick it off the spoon.  Make sure to stir it well before adding it.
3.  Get rid of your whip and switch to a wooden spoon.  Add the dry mixture little by little into the wet mixture until all incorporated.  The end result should be crumbly, but should come together if you pack it into a ball.  If your almond powder is not moist, you may need to add 1 Tbsp water or milk at this point just to help the dough come together.  Knead it well.
4.  Get your toppings ready.  I have a little saucer with white sesame, one with black, and a bowl of my split pitted dates.  Take a tablespoon sized amount of dough, make a ball with your hands, then dip it into one of the toppings and press it onto your cookie sheet to the shape you want.  Since there is no baking soda or egg in this recipe, the cookies will not expand or change shape while cooking.  For the dates, make sure you get enough dough on the inside of them before pressing them onto the cookie sheet.  This will avoid the dates falling off the cookie when they're done and thrown into the cookie jar.
5.  Bake for 175°C 350°F for about 20 minutes.  Carefully remove and let cool on a wire rack.

That.. is how to get a perfect tahini cookie!!

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Cherry Tomato and Grilled Zucchini Quiche

I know it's not cherry tomato season, but I couldn't resist the buy 3 get one free at the local supermarket on these gorgeous yellow cherries.  I secretly tasted one and they are definitely gorged with sun sweetness and juicy.  What seasons?
The thing is, when you go nuts on things like cherry tomatoes that don't necessarily keep forever, you have to start being creative.
I started imagining them auto caramelizing in their juices, sort of like when you halve and slow roast them.. and how all this would be perfect with some griddles zucchini, bell pepper, and rosemary!
That is how this quiche was born.  When I cut it, the tomatoes fell out of place, but they were so "confites" in their juices that I almost thought I was eating mirabelles.
1 whole zucchini, sliced thickly, olive oiled, and grilled on the griddle
1 corne de boeuf bell pepper, halved seeded, olive oiled, and grilled on the griddle
large handful cherry tomatoes
1 handful fresh favas
small handful of whatever cheese you want to finish (I used camembert that was getting pretty smelly but goat cheese or feta would work very well here)
1 buckwheat thyme shortcrust (I subbed fresh rosemary for dried thyme)
3 eggs well beaten
1 Tbsp extra spicy mustard
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk (I used goat)
small piece of fresh rosemary
pinch nutmeg
some flake salt/pepper
1.  Roll out the shortcrust and push it into a deep round baking dish.  Cover the edges with foil and lightly poke a fork into the base a few times.  Precook for 10 minutes at 400°F 200°C.  This will help the bottom cook and avoid the sides to overcook while the filling sets.
2.  While this is happening, beat the eggs very well.  This step is important for an airy quiche.  Beat in the cream, milk, then add the nutmeg, lots of pepper, a pinch of salt and the rosemary.
3.  When the shortcrust is finished precooking, remove the foil from the sides and start layering in the  good stuff.  Start with a layer of zucchini, then cheese, then bell pepper.  Find little areas to nestle in the whole cherries and top with whatever veggies or cheese you have left.
4.  Pour in the egg mixture.  In French they call that "appareil" which means apparatus or machine, which always makes me giggle... don't know why.
5.  Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour at 350°F 180°C.  If the center is still a bit jiggly, that's ok.
6.  Remove and let sit for 15-20 minutes.  The center should set and the quiche should still be hot enough to eat.  Since we put cherry tomatoes in there whole, some of them may have exploded and let out their juice.  All that comes together just fine during the setting process.  This is the hardest part because it smells so good, looks so good, and you are soooooo hungry.

Serve as a side or appetizer.  I served mine with a batavia and beet salad and it was extra delicious.

This dish gave me a bonus recipe as well!
Since I had a bit of extra crust after fitting mine into the pie dish, I used it to make a mini tomato tart.
I used small ramekins and tossed some tomatoes with olive oil, fleur de sel, pepper and rosemary, and just folded the sides over as much as I could and cooked that at the same time as my quiche.
Look at that!
Since there was no egg mixture involved, the tomatoes slow cooked and filled the tart and the result was so delectably tart and sweet with the aroma of rosemary that I'll probably be doing this again on a larger scale.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Griddled Asparagus

After roasted asparagus, here is the exact same thing done on the griddle.
I love love love that it is spring and we now have spring veggies readily available, as well as remnants of winter veggies.
Here I have a sort of transition salad: griddled asparagus, zucchini, and long white turnips with some red oak leaf salad (feuille de chêne) and a poached egg.
I suppose the only winter vegetable in the lot is the turnip.
That baby does really well on the griddle too!
I don't know why I didn't heat up my plancha for this, but I like the way the house gets smokey and I did this in the morning, so it was a bit chilly outside.  This could definitely be done on a BBQ over foil or something, but I just love my griddle pan.
1 bunch (500g or 1 lb) fresh firm green asparagus, washed and stems peeled
1 Tbsp EVOO
a pinch of sea salt (fleur de sel)
a few cracks fresh black pepper
a few shakes piment d'espelette
juice from 1/2 lime
Toss it all together and griddle on high heat for about 3-4 minutes, turning to color.
The asparagus are done when they start getting a bit floppy and are nicely colored.  They will be slightly crunchy, but that's the best part of the whole deal.
I did the zucchini and turnip slices in exactly the same way, working in batches.

I wish I had more bunches of asparagus to nibble on tomorrow...

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Veal Paupiettes in Roots and Mustard

Paupiettes are something I rarely cook, but when I do, I'm always in for a treat.
The thing about paupiettes is that you either make them yourself (which I didn't) or you buy good quality ones.  The concept of a paupiette is to have a beaten thin cutlet wrapped and tied around some sort of stuffing.  In France, that stuffing is usually meat based.  The inexpensive ones you can find are usually pork wrapped around a ground pork stuffing.  Sometimes you can find the Turkey/ground pork ones, but the best ones (in my opinion) are the Veal/ground veal ones.
When I can get a good deal on those, I usually go for them.
In this version, I decided to get them nicely colored, and then add some thinly sliced mushrooms, turnips, and carrots in some mustard.  This yielded a beautiful sauce that I decided to pair with tagliatelles al dente.
The result was very nice, delicate, and very French.. which is good once in a while because I do live in France after all...
Serves 4
4 good quality Veal Paupiettes
1 onion, thinly sliced into moon crescents
1 carrot, thinly sliced into half circles
1/2 long white turnip, thinly sliced into half circles (or 1 normal round turnip)
1 large handful mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 tsp thyme
3 Tbsp extra strong mustard
1 cup water (as needed)
lots of freshly cracked black pepper
few pinces fleur de sel
1 Tbsp heavy cream
drizzle EVOO
some chopped parsley
1.  In a high edged heavy based pan, drizzle some olive oil and color the paupiettes until they are nicely golden on each side.  This may take about 10 minutes.  They should release a bit of juice, which is good.  Remove and set aside.
2.  Add the sliced onions with a sprinkle of fleur de sel into the pan and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.
3.  Add the carrot and turnip slices, thyme, and some pepper and cook, stirring for another 10 minutes.  Add a bit of water if it gets too dry.
4.  Stir in the mushrooms and mustard and cook, for another 5 minutes.
5.  Add the paupiettes in with half the water.  Cover and simmer while you prepare your pasta.  I let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes, adding water if dry.
6.  About 5 minutes before serving, stir in the heavy cream, chopped parsley, and add more fresh cracked pepper.  Heat through, then taste and add salt if needed.  Mine were perfect at this point.

Serve over a bed of hot tagliatelles al dente with a bit of fresh chopped parsley on top.

Mustard really gives depth to all the other flavors.  Carrots and turnips are a perfect match to the veal and melt in your mouth with each twisted forkful.  It almost doesn't even need cream, I just added it because I like a bit of cream with pasta.
I'm gourmande like that...

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Orange Marmelade & Mustard Salad Dressing

This post is about the salad dressing, but it's almost really all about the salad as a whole.
I've been experimenting with the sweet-savory-tangy mix of flavors by putting fruit in my non dessert salad.  So far I've done it with orange, pomelo, mango, melon, by mixing with shrimp, avocado, chicken, cheese, fennel, egg...
All this works so well it's like magic, so why not include it in the dressing?
As I mentioned in a previous post, some orange marmelade magically appeared in my kitchen.  Since the flavor is so particularly different than normal jam, it mixes surprisingly well in savory as well as sweet.  To take it an extra step I added grapes to my lambs lettuce salad, which made the whole deal an extremely pleasant mind boggler.
Serves 1 as a meal, 2 as a side.
1 heaping Tbsp orange marmelade
1 heaping Tbsp strong mustard (I used Amora Forte)
1 heaping Tbsp excellent EVOO
1 heaping Tbsp apple cider vinegar
pinch fleur de sel (flake salt)
a few grinds fresh black pepper
few large handfuls mâche (lambs lettuce or baby spinach) washed
1/2 tomato, chopped
few large delicious grapes, halved and seeded
a bit of fresh goat cheese, chopped
1 Tbsp capers
1 perfectly poached egg
1.  Mix the dressing ingredients together in a large salad bowl.
2.  Add all the salad ingredients on top.
3.  Toss that salad!

Zippity doo daw this salad blew me away!

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Linguine with Grilled Veggies & Meatballs

I may have already shared my love for grilled veggies, especially eggplant.. mmm eggplant.
I recently bought zucchini, artichoke, and eggplant to grill on my griddle pan to top my last pizza.. and since I had to grill in batches, I decided to grill a bunch to use later on in a salad.
That salad idea turned into a pasta idea.. spontaneously out of nowhere.  I needed to store some ground beef in the freezer, which meant make hamburger patties, or just freeze it as it is for some future spaghetti sauce..
oooo pasta
ooo if I'm going to handle the ground beef, I may as well make something interesting.. right?
ooo meatballs!
That's how dinner happened.
Serves 6
1 lb (500g) linguine, cooked al dente, then drained.
1 large zucchini, sliced
1 medium eggplant, sliced crosswise
1can artichoke hearts, drained
2 small shallots, sliced
3 Tbsp watercress pesto (or whatever other pesto)
some EVOO
juice from 3/4 lime
fleur de sel (flake salt)
1 tsp piment d'espelette
some fresh cracked pepper
crushed red pepper
drizzle heavy cream
1 cup water
parmesan and swiss
350g ground beef
1 carrot, finely grated
5 cloves garlic, grated
2 Tbsp strong mustard
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp watercress pesto
1 Tbsp piment d'espelette
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
lots and lots of fresh cracked pepper
1/2 tsp fleur de sel (flake salt)
1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
drizzle EVOO
1.  Make the meatballs.  Mix all the meatball ingredients together using your bare hands, until everything is evenly incorporated, then form them into palm sized balls.
2.  Cook the meatballs.  Heat a wok or heavy based pan and brown the meatballs until nicely colored. Remove and set aside, but keep the juice in the pan.
3.  Meanwhile, griddle the veggies (if they aren't already griddled).  Toss the eggplant, zucchini, and artichoke hearts with some EVOO, lime juice, piment d'espelette, fleur de sel, and cracked pepper.  Grill (I did mine on a cast iron griddle pan) for a few minutes on each side until cooked through and set aside.
4.  Heat the wok with the meatball juice and add the shallots until golden.
5.  Add in the pesto and water and simmer while the pasta cooks, then add a bit of cream and all the grilled veggies and meatballs to heat through.
6.  When the pasta is done, reserve 1 cup of the cooking water and set aside.
7.  Toss the hot al dente pasta with all the lovely goodness, adding a bit of reserved pasta water if needed.

Serve with parmesan and swiss and top with a bit of crushed red pepper.

Dear me this was a meal worthy of guests!  I can't believe how delicious my meatballs were!  They were not dry at all (being all beef).  No need for sausage.
The secret is in the fennel and garlic, the carrots add a bit of moisture giving them perfect texture.
The griddled veggies add a whole other dimension to the pasta.. BBQ pasta..

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Orange Marmelade Buckwheat Muffins

Just when I thought I had run out of muffin ideas, an extra large jar of homemade orange marmelade and whole fig preserves just dropped out of the sky.
Seriously, my neighbors were gifted those items and didn't know what to do with them and supposed they'd have a better life with me.
Marmelade has tons of uses besides the very obvious one (spread it on some toast).  It works well as a zing factor in salad dressing, marinade for fish or duck, in cookies, as glaze on a cake, and as a fun flavor for muffins.  I'll probably think of more once I'm done writing this, like mixed with chocolate, peanut butter, coconut, in breakfast oats...I just don't get how you can be so entirely clueless that you give it away.
So at 10 pm, after thinking about the recent acquisition, I had a sudden urge to use that marmelade....
Yield 19 muffins
2 over ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs
1/3 cup (60g) cane sugar
scant 1/3 cup (50g) canola oil
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp powdered ginger
5 Tbsp orange marmelade
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1cup (120g) buckwheat flour
1/2 cup oats
Walnuts (I only used one per muffin)
1/2 tsp marmelade per muffin
1.  Beat together the eggs, sugar, bananas, oil, milk, and marmelade.
2.  In a separate mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
3.  Gently mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, then fold in the oats.  The texture should not be dry.. it should be very goopy.
4.  Grease your muffin tins and fill them 3/4 to the top, then drop a bit of marmelade int each muffin and  top with your single walnut wishing you had more, but happy to have enough left.

5.  Bake in a 375°F (180°C) oven for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean after a nice stab.

I love the tanginess of orange marmelade and it works perfectly in these muffins.  These are actually quite healthy too.. not too sweet, full of fiber.. just lovely.

I can't wait to make multiple jam flavor buckwheat thumbprint cookies now!!

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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Grilled Veggie and Chicken Rillettes Pizza

For me pizza has a minimum of 3 basic toppings:
roasted tomatoes

The rest is all freestyle and I very rarely make the same pizza twice... it all depends on what I have on hand.
Tonight's pizza had a trio of grilled veggies.. eggplant, zucchini, and artichokes, all grilled on the griddle pan.
I had a bit of rotisserie chicken rillettes left and decided to make little blobs of it on the pizza.  Those rillettes are really the best.  They are 100% chicken (most rillettes have pork lard although labeled duck or goose).

It was all lovely and perfect, but I still can't get over my crust.  It is my 2nd time using fresh yeast instead of dry and it really makes a world of difference.  The taste and texture is just perfect.  The crust was crunchy and chewy all at once with a nice fluff.
Pizza perfection has been obtained!

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