Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Moroccan Pumpkin Soup
Yesterday was a bright and sunshine-y. Apple-crisp.
As nearby Church-bells rang out eleven, I found myself basking in the day, with a seasonally appropriate pomegranate cocktail in hand.
I was sitting in the most delightfully welcoming garden, a space festooned with artifacts of a life well lived, surrounded by happy dogs lazing about.
The Hostesses home, (the space I had to walk through, wide-eyed with awe, to get to the cocktails...I mean, garden) can best described as a compound (many structures, a few paths...voila, you have a compound) offering unexpected twists and turns. Truly charming. Perfectly homey, with a punk-rock ethos. It was flawless.
It was as we lounged in this tranquil glade, right after my hostesses boyfriend popped his head out of the second story stained glass window, squinted his eyes, smiled and asked if we wanted refills on our bevs, that I had my epiphany.
Life is good.
Nothing profound, but it is something important to be reminded of.
Life is good.
And with a bit of this soup...that much better.
When feeling frayed and needing to come back to a zen-space, (something I have mentioned more than once on this site, I'm sure) remember what stupendous friends can offer, what a fantastically beautiful place the world is, and so much more. And remember what a soul satisfying thing soup can be. All that, and everything seems right in the world.
I cannot tell you how quick this is to make. A few moments, and it tastes incredible. You can also make it with roasted squash - that certainly would make it super-fab...
Either which way, I recommend it. Autumn in a bowl.
And now, my peaches, I am off to the spa. (A day getting toasted in the garden helps a girl get her head on straight, but a day at the spa, well, that sets it in stone...)
Now try this, and enjoy!
2 15 oz. cans pumpkin
2 T. vegetable oil
1 large onion, minced (I did this in the Cuisinart)
6 cups vegetable stock
2 15 oz cans chick peas, with liquid
2 T tomato paste
pinch of cayenne
smaller pinch of nutmeg
cilantro or parsley for garnish
Saute the onion in the oil, until tender.
Combine the onion, squash, broth, liquid from garbanzo beans and one can of the beans. Heat a few minutes, then puree. This is best done with an immersion blender.
Add tomato paste, salt, pepper, nutmeg and cayenne. Add remaining garbanzo beans, garnish with cilantro and serve.
90 % of the pumpkins grown in the United States are raised within a 90-mile radius of Peoria, Illinois
Pumpkins are a fruit that are 90% water
An intense drought this year is going to cost Americans at the meat counter. Weather wiped out hay crops across the region, forcing cattlemen to sell large numbers of stock. Experts predict it will take three years or more for the nation's beef supply to recover. That will hurt consumers, National Cattlemen's Beef Association spokesman Joe Schule says, because supply is a big factor in the price of beef. -Al.com
Wheat crops have failed and forced up world wheat prices and shoppers can expect to see an increase in the cost of bread, meat, fruit and vegetables. Shoppers should get used to the high prices, even if the drought breaks soon. Food industry analysts and economists say prices of certain foods will stay high into next year. For the third year in a row, bakers are confronting big increases in the price of flour and other ingredients directly related to shortages caused by the drought. -ABC News
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Boys and Their Toys
I heart Dave...and well, what can a girl say about a nervous Alton...
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Beet & Watermelon Salad with Sherry Wine Vinaigrette
At this time of year, summer and fall always struggle for domination in Southern California.
Sure, the calendar says it's October, yet, the mercury hovers at 90F.
The days are short, and pumpkins are in the market, but we are warm and want light foods. Despite our inner thoughts begging otherwise...
Me, I have an entire shelf of clingy sweaters waiting to be worn, but in the meantime, I clothe myself little dresses in earthy colors and look longingly at my boots, wondering how many more days I have to savor wearing sandals. I have a arsenal of recipes featuring squash and peppers, apples and pears, perched on the precipice, yearning to be tried out, but alas, they just don't seem to match the climate. How can I eat soup on days like this...and yet, how can I resist?
The confusion...it's just so like L.A. Can't decide which we want, so we take both. Warm and cool, up and down, waxing and waning. It's all good by us.
Like this salad. At first glance, it's the absolutely strangest combination of textures, colors and seasons, and yet...it works flawlessly. The dense, earthy beets, the lightness of the watermelon. And since watermelons at this point in the autumn are more texture than flavor, the sharp-sweet dressing is the perfect accessory for these dainty foods. And bonus, the watermelon takes on an astonishingly vivid hue when mingling with the beets.
So despite the calendar and the weather report, when it comes to this dish, summer and autumn are tied. For now.
Try it, and enjoy
3 large beets
1 small, seedless watermelon
1/4 cup sherry wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
large pinch black pepper
2 Tablespoons whole grain mustard
1 teaspoon brown sugar
3/4 cup olive oil
Goat cheese and black pepper for garnish
Preheat your oven to 400F.
Coat the beets with olive oil. Place in an oven proof dish. Add 1/4 inch water to the pan. Add some salt to that water. Cover the pan with foil, and roast in the oven for at least 1 hour, (up to three, depending on the size off the beets.) until a knife can be inserted into one with ease. When done, remove from the oven, leaving in the pan. Uncover and let cool completely, before trimming the root end off and slipping off the skins. Dice into even pieces. (You may want to wear gloves while doing this. Beets do stain after all...)
In a blender, combine the vinegar, thyme, mustard and sugar. Blend and while the blender is on, add the olive oil. Stop half way through, and taste. Add more oil as needed. Season with salt and set aside until ready to finish the salad.
Peel and dice the watermelon to the same size dice as the beets. Toss the two together with the dressing. Season with salt and pepper and serve with a sprinkling of goat cheese.
A 2006 U.S.D.A. test found 81 percent of potatoes tested still contained pesticides after being washed and peeled, and the potato has one of the the highest pesticide contents of 43 fruits and vegetables tested. - NY Times
When I wrote graffiti my name was Slop
If my rap's soup my beats is stock
Step from the tables as I start to chop
-Beastie Boys, Intergalactic
Donating to The Red Cross of Los Angeles is a great way to help out those affected by the recent fires.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Books: Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant
The lovely people who published, Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant, by editor Jenni Ferrari-Adler, sent me a copy for review ages ago, and I have have been remiss in blogging about it. (Mostly because I savored it for so very, very long.)
Bad Rachael, no donut.
So to them, I offer my apologies, and to you my readers, I offer the opportunity to read a fantastic book.
The basic query Ms. Ferrari-Adler posed is, "What do you eat when you are alone?" And the answers are a collection of often touching, terribly hilarious, essays of beans-or-pasta-eating-over-the-sink-in-a-tiny-apartment brilliance. I loved it. It's like taking a peek into the secret lives of people, and learning we are all more alike than we think...
With some of my favorite authors contributing, and some reprinted classic food writing...it runs the gamut of emotions and is always charming and readable.
So next time you sit down to a meal alone (or daydream you may have the chance to do so), don't just stare at your plate, open this book, and devour it too.
According to a study, eggplant absorbs more fat in cooking than any other vegetable. When researchers deep-fried a serving of eggplant, they found that it absorbed 83 grams of fat in just 70 seconds—four times as much as an equal portion of potatoes—adding more than 700 calories. - Wellness Encyclopedia
Monday, October 22, 2007
Homestyle Meatloaf with Sundried Tomatoes & Shallots
This weekend, as the Ombudsman graciously attempted - gin and tonic in hand - to tackle yet another one of my hare brained home-improvement projects (hare brained because I think them up and then pout until he agrees to try and help. And since he is only a smidgen more handy than I, it never really turns out well. Bless his heart.) he gazed back to find me perched on the bed wearing the latest in a long line of gold colored high-heels I have a habit of purchasing, and a short, loud, nearly sheer, multicolored dress.
Laughing (and pointing, if I recall. Then again, my G&T had already been drained.) he proclaimed he finally had a motto for my as-yet-un-realized family crest.
"Overdressed for the occasion, underdressed for the weather."
If only I had paid attention in Latin. I would have it translated immediately and engraved onto the nearest engraveable object.
An hour later, project (sort of) complete, (I think I have to have someone come in and touch it up...) we dined on this outrageously delicious loaf-o-meat.
Rich, dense flavors. The peak of perfection. A flawless dish for an autumn evening.
Fancy dress optional.
2 T vegetable oil
3 shallots, rough chopped
2 carrots, peeled and minced
1 pound ground turkey
½ pound ground beef or pork
3/4 cups fresh cracker meal or breadcrumbs
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, minced
1/2 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons each, dried oregano and rosemary
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup (more or less) ketchup mixed with 1 T chipotle chile with adobo sauce
Preheat your oven to 350 F.
Using bakers spray or vegetable oil, lightly oil a standard loaf pan.
Heat oil in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the carrots and sauté until vegetables are very tender, about 15 minutes longer. Transfer to large bowl.
Add all remaining ingredients except ketchup to vegetables in bowl. Mix thoroughly. Transfer to prepared pan. Bake 1 hour. Brush with ketchup and bake 15 minutes longer.
I am a junkie for this site, and it's all for a good cause!
Want to make good seafood choices? Check out the Marine Stewardship Council
Are you reading Nook and Pantry yet?
Hardee's restaurants has introduced the new Country Breakfast Burrito. It is a two-egg omelet filled with bacon, sausage, diced ham, cheddar cheese, hash browns and sausage gravy, in a flour tortilla. The burrito contains 920 calories and 60 grams of fat. - AP
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Nutty Chicken with Peanut Dipping Sauce
When my darling, the Glamazon, was a wee bitty child, (pre-glamazon days, which I believe should be called the precocious years,) she announced, in response to my fathers query, "What do you girls want for lunch?" that her favorite food was Chicken Nuggets, and that is the only thing she was willing to eat.
Now, my father is not a fast food eater, nor is he a pop culture follower, so he just roared with laughter, eyes twinkling.
He sincerely thought she made it up. In his reasoning, there was no way there could there be such a foodstuff, it simply had to be the concoction of a fabulous four year old mind. Nuggets of chicken???
Now mind you, at that point in my young life, I had never indulged in a Chicken Nugget, but being a child, I was all very aware of their existence. My parents wouldn't have dreamed of letting us sample that sort of thing. So naturally, I chimed in saying that was all I wanted for lunch too. As the words came out of my lips, I was anxiously wondering...could this be the day? Would my father actually take us to a fast food chain to eat fried, compressed chicken bits served with gloopy, sugar dense, dipping sauce? The possibility of it all almost felled me.
Well, miracle of miracle, my food-conscious father whimsically decided to indulge Pre-Glamazon's fancy. (She was just so irresistibly cute.) So into the car piled four kids, one adult, and palpable anticipation.
Seemingly moments later, our food devoured, my father turned to the Pre-Glamazon, and asked if she had enjoyed her lunch. Tears welled up in her big golden eyes, (yes, her eyes are golden. It's stunning.) as she proclaimed they were "dreadful" and her new favorite food was hot dogs.
Turns out, her parents had never let her have them either...sly child that Glamazon.
After that day, I'm not sure I ever ate them again. They weren't to my taste. I know for a fact my father never did either. As for the Glamazon, she currently lives on a steady diet of salads and Champagne, as all good glamour girls do...but while none of us eat them, 20+ years later, my father still lovingly calls her (with that smile in his eyes)...Chicken Nugget...
This appetizer, it's an adult version. Real chicken. Complex flavor. Simply stunning.
1 T. fresh ginger, grated
1 teaspoon chile, minced
1 t. vegetable oil
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 teaspoon soy sauce
1 T brown sugar
1 T lime juice
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup pecans
1/2 cup peanuts
1 T. ground cardamom
1 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. salt
1 cup rice or wheat flour
4 chicken breasts
Saute the ginger and chile in the vegetable oil. Remove from heat and whisk in the peanut butter, soy, sugar, lime, coconut and water. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
Cut chicken into bite-sized bits.
Whisk eggs in a bowl.
In a Cusinart, combine the nuts, spices and rice flour. Pulse to combine. Pour this into a shallow bowl.
Dip the chicken bits into the egg, then the nut mixture. When all the pieces are coated, saute in the corn oil until golden brown. Serve room temperature with peanut dipping sauce.
Do I love Food? Heck yes, and if you live in Los Angeles, you should too. Review coming soon.
Other ways to play with Peanut Butter? Cookies anyone?
McDonalds Chicken McNuggets (C), were introduced in 1983. 6 pieces have 250 calories. A McNugget is a small piece of minced chicken and mechanically separated meat held together with phosphate salts and chicken skin. The pieces are coated with batter, then deep-fried and sold. - Wikipedia
Monday, October 15, 2007
Books: Gluten Free Girl & a Recipe for Brussel Sprouts with Mustard
Shauna; home cook, blogger, wife, possibly-obsessed but-who-am-I-to-judge-Beatles fan, friend, author...had her people send me a copy of her recently published book, aptly titled Gluten Free Girl. Boo-ya! I felt so special, lemme tell ya!
My very own copy was on the doorstep Friday morning and I pounced, tearing open the package and flipping immediately to the acknowledgement page, where I already knew I was mentioned. (It's just all about me, isn't it! Ha ha ha) Oh kids, I was so giddy.
And I am giddy because a woman I just simply adore wrote such a beautiful tome.
I really hope you will buy a copy. It's both informative, lovely, funny and loving. A good read all around I would say...
Now, as part of her "Virtual Book Tour." She asked me to write an essay (I guess its true! You can take the teacher out of the school, but you can't take the teacher out of the -gluten free- girl! Ha!) about my life as a Covergirl...wait, no, about my life as a Gluten Free Girl! (So much more food-centric!) I think the idea is to have different prospectives on how her book can affect different people...as shown by the bloggers she is having participate. Pretty cool, right?
Well, as you can all tell, I'm not Gluten Free...but I am a huge fan of her site, and incredibly sympathetic to restrictive diets. Oh man, am I ever. Vegan? Kosher? Peanut Allergies? Macrobiotic? Halal? Low Carb? Just plain not in to something? I get it. Why? Because that is your body. You choose what goes in it, and only you know what makes you tick, so who am I to tell you what to, or not to, eat? Nope, I'd just rather, (Much like Shauna) you get maximum pleasure out of what you DO eat, and not focus on what you don't. (Phew! Heavy!) All that and I will say this...please...less packaged food, more cooking, ya? Ya!
(Me, I can't eat bananas. Happily, they are rarely the secret ingredient in anything...except at Jamba Juice...those peeps love them some 'nanas...stick um in everything...wassup with dat?)
So in the spirit of Mrs. Ahern, I will post today an entirely gluten free recipe...because as she says, its not what isn't in it that makes it good...it's what is...and this recipe was created with love.
Try it, and enjoy!
2 pounds Brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved
pinch of sugar and a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 T. Dijon style mustard
2 t. brown sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
coarse black pepper
In a large pot, boil the Brussel sprouts, with a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar until just cooked through, about 4 minutes. Drain immediately.
In a blender combine the rest of the ingredients, and blend to emulsify. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
Toss the b-sprouts with the dressing and serve at room temp or cold.
Makes 6-8 servings.
________________________________________________Many of the recipes on this site are gluten free...just click the labels to see!
Info on Celiac.
Info on CVS. (I have that. Miserable business...)
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Classic Waldorf Salad with Fresh Tarragon
There is much about our dear boy the Ombudsman that puts me to shame.
For instance, there is his unwavering commitment to civic life, his energy efficient car, and of course, the fact he doesn't own a television.
Okay, that last bit just confuses me really. But only because he will comment on current shows, or funny commercials, all without having a set to call his own...
But recently, like a primitive life form emerging from the primordial mists of bass-ackwards...it hit me how he pulls of this parlor trick...he watches programs on his laptop.
And in the same brilliant flash, I registered that so could I.
And that my friends...is...pathetically...where I have been.
No, not watching reruns of Mr. Bean (that honor goes to the boy...) no, I just spent approx. 44 hours of my life over the last few days watching shows I never knew existed. Eyes like saucers in the dark...mindlessly absorbing videos for songs I had almost forgotten existed, reveling in the beauty of Mr. Belvedere, circa 1987. (I have terrible taste in tv, what can I say...) Feasting on all sorts of wonderments produced by our friends at the BBC. And catching up on Heroes. Episode after episode of Heroes.
I'm a changed woman I tell you. Changed.
And while my mind was going grey...alas...so did the vast majority of the contents of my fridge.
But I am a resourceful gal. Oh yes, indeedeeeeeeee. I am. I pushed aside the jars of mustard, and that bag of green slime, that may or may not have started out as basil, and I made me a meal. An astonishing meal.
A meal for the ages.
All that and I was able to use some fresh tarragon. My herb-du-jour, and the only green thing still discernible in the crisper drawer.
It was Waldorf Salad, and lo, it was a delight. Easy-breezy to make, and all the ingredients were on hand.
What more could a telly-addict ask for...
2 stalks celery, large dice
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
Combine the mayo, tarragon and lemon juice. Add salt and sugar as needed.
Toss the rest of the ingredients in a bowl along with the mayo dressing. Taste, adjust seasonings as needed, and serve.
Created at New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in 1896 by maître d'hôtel, Oscar Tschirky, the Waldorf salad was an instant success. The original version of this salad contained only apples, celery and mayonnaise. Chopped walnuts later became an integral part of the dish.
"You're the top, you're a Waldorf salad". - Anything Goes/Cole Porter
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Drink of the Week: Guavaberry Rum & Watermelon Cocktail
I spent a few mind bending days in paradise this summer.
It was a long journey.
(Insert blissful sigh.)
Four days of uninterrupted sunshine.
All I brought with me was a small carry on suitcase and all I brought back was a wicked tan, and a bottle of this sticky sweet, fruity elixir. Guavaberry liqueur.
It captures the warmth of the islands in a bottle...then you pour it into a glass, and...consider yourself transported right back to the sparkling beach...
And here is why I do not write ad copy. Could this explination be more cliche?
So look past my words, and go right for the bottle...you won't be disapointed.
If you see some in your local liquor emporium...or if you want to get some online, do so, you will love it.
Support the peeps, and get your drink on.
Oh, and what was the best preparation of this libation?
1 cup watermelon, cubed
1 oz. Guavaberry liquoer
1/2 cup sparkling water
Slice of lime.
Combine all, let set for 10 minutes. Pour all into a tall glass with crushed ice. Garnish with lime and enjoy.
Repeat as needed.
The guavaberry or rumberry is a fruit tree which grows in the Caribbean - Wikipedia
Guavaberry liqueur is considered the national drink of St. Maarten
A treasured Christmas drink, guavaberry liqueur inspired holiday traditions. On St. Maarten, carolers would go from door to door, singing “Good morning, good morning, I come for me guavaberry." At each house, they'd receive a small sample from the owner's bottle. - Searchwarp.com
Labels: Drink of the Week
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Fresh From The Farmers Market: Toka Toka Avocados
Bright and early this past Sunday, I found myself at the always fab and glam Hollywood Farmers Market.
Gosh I love it there!
I was wandering around, trying to gauge where we are in the "seasonally available" cycle, (Peaches, out. Peppers, in.) when I caught sight of these jewels.
Upon bleary-eyed, squinting inspection, a small sign told me they go by the name, Toka Toka Avocados. (I walked past the stand three times trying to figure out where they were from, but couldn't figure that out. It just dawned on me this second, that I could have asked the woman who sold them to me...I guess just because I was up and wandering around, I wasn't totally awake after all! Hee. Hee.)
Nestled in their wooden crate, half of them looked like miniature eggplants, (the glossy purple kind) and the other half looked like classic Hass avocados...except that they have a smooth skin...that is edible! Sorting through to choose an assortment of colors, it was obvious they were all perfectly ripe and ready to eat within a day or so. Smaller than average, (Maybe two and a half inches long, versus, the four+ that most avocados are?)they cost a sensationally reasonable, three for a dollar. I took six.
I ate one,taking a tentative bite. The skin is quite thin, and like most fruit (and they are, I believe, botanically, fruit. Not that that is relevant right now, but whatever) the skin has its own taste, but nothing overly noticeable. As for the actual flesh, honestly, in terms of flavor, they are a bit...flat. But in terms of, um, you know, being able to skip that annoying "peeling" step from your avocado prep-work, well, it rocks.
And they make really beautiful additions to a floral centerpiece!
San Diego County is the Avocado Capital of the U.S., producing 60% of all the avocados grown in California, which produces about 90% of the nation's avocado crop
I looked up Toka Toka avocados, and couldn't find any info. There are many varieties of edible skin avocados though!
On October 3, 2007 the New York Times food section ran an article about Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. I'm just sayin'