Monday, September 22, 2008


Pickled Golden Beets with Cloves

Well it certainly has been an age since I put up a post for my Kitchen Project series, now hasn’t it!

The idea being that this is a recipe that takes some time and is more of a “let’s spend the day indoors” event than a “Hey, what’s for dinner”? It's a way to connect with food in a more meaningful way by dedicating a block of time to it.

So let's get on with it!

What with today being the beginning of (Northern hemisphere) autumn, I can think of no better time to wax rhapsodic about that which is the beet. Seasonal, bright and tasty.

And to gild the lily as it were, we will be, immersing said beet in to a briny solution and calling it a pickle.

Oh my oh my.

I love pickles.

Who’s with me?

It’s the sweet-and-sour saltiness that gets me.

Plus, I can make them myself which adds to their fabulocity. Mix and match flavors, and a bite full of heaven is mine.

And if you play along, it can be yours too.

In this case, by using golden beets the counter tops (and my fingertips) stay white and I end up with jewel-like glasses of treats. Heady and delightful. Perfect with a charcuterie plate or cocktails or alongside roast meats. Nothing could be more autumnal.

So try this my peaches and taste the joy.

7 pounds of small golden beets, with roots and 2 inches of tops
1 California bay leaf, dried

A few sprigs of fresh thyme
10 cloves
10 peppercorns
2 cups organic, raw sugar
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups water
8 – 10 pint jars (I like Kerr or Mason brand)

Scrub beets thoroughly. Add to a large pot of cold water and bring to a boil. Boil until just tender (approx. 15 – 25 minutes depending on size.)

Drain beets and cover with cold water. When cool, trim the tops and remove skins. Slice into ¼ inch thick slices or wedges.

Combine bay leaf, thyme, cloves, peppercorns, sugar, salt, vinegar and water in a large, non-reactive pot. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Reduce the heat and let the liquid simmer for 10 minutes.

While the liquid simmers, pack the beets loosely into pint or quart mason jars.

Pour hot liquid over the beets, leaving ¼ inch of space at the top. Close the jars and process for 30 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Store the beets in a cool, dry place for three weeks before eating.

© 2008 Fresh Approach Cooking


2008 Rachael at "Fresh Approach Cooking" RSS Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, or at the aforementioned url, the site you are looking at is guilty of infringing upon terms of my copyright. And generally cheesing me off.

Restaurant review I just felt like sharing.
Aronia de Takazawa.

Told you I like pickles! Here we have
fennel, carrots and onions

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Lemon-Thyme Cupcakes

Take cover gentle readers. I hereby declare a full on sugar-shock assault.

I'm bringing out the big guns.

Serious stuff. Butter-bombs, not war.

That's right.

It's cupcake time.

I mean it kids. I don't mess around.

When I want a full-fontal attack of the heart and the smile, I think it's best to bring out the tiny taste sensations.

Something we can all come together over.

Seriously. I know you like cupcakes too.

Cupcakes trump all.

Case closed.

Now if you – my angels, my loves – have an urge to try the single best cupcakes ever devised, I urge you to try this recipe which was developed and writen entirely by the world's greatest pastry chef, and my dear friend, Suzy Griswold...based on my daft "I want lemon-thyme!" cry...and taste the joy.

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp kosher salt
1 cup crème fraiche
2 eggs
1 yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 oz unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
2 tablespoons minced fresh lemon zest

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 325 degrees. Line mini muffin pan with baking-cup liners. Lightly spray the liners with nonstick cooking spray.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together.

Combine and whisk together the crème fraiche, eggs, vanilla, lemon and thyme.

Put the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until the butter is creamy. Stream in the sugar and beat until fluffy and pale.

Reduce the mixer’s speed to low. Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with the wed ingredients in 2 additions.

Divide the batter evenly between the liners, filling them about two-thirds full.

Bake until the cupcakes are lightly browned and slightly cracked on top, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Top with vanilla buttercream frosting

Vanilla Buttercream

4 oz unsalted butter, softened
1 vanilla bean, scraped
3 to 4 cups powdered sugar
¼ cup milk
1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place the butter and vanilla bean seeds in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until the butter is creamy.

Add 2 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes.

Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.) Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

© 2008 Fresh Approach Cooking


2008 Rachael at "Fresh Approach Cooking"

This RSS Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, or at the aforementioned url, the site you are looking at is guilty of infringing upon terms of my copyright. And generally cheesing me off.

The term 'cupcake' is first found in E. Leslie's 'Receipts' (1828).

Indiana State Police said Anthony Herbert Lee, 38, of Hammond, was arrested Saturday for trying to sell the nearly 13.5 tons of stolen pizza, worth more than $45,000. A company contracted Lee to pick up 3,000 cases of Stouffer's frozen pizzas from Nation Pizza in Schaumburg, Ill., on Aug. 31 and deliver them to Springville, Utah, on Tuesday. After having motor trouble and realizing he wouldn't make the delivery date, Lee called his insurance company, according to police reports. He led the company to believe he owned the pizzas and needed to sell them, police said. - NWI Times


Thursday, September 04, 2008


Heirloom Tomato Tarts with Rocket & Torpedo Salad

While reading the book The United States of Arugula (Lovely book, but my, what a cheese-ball title) by David Kamp, a brief passage stuck with me enough so that I am about to look it up and share with you. Yes, my dears...for you.

Ah. Here it is.

I am copying from page 154 of the soft-cover edition, where Mr. Kamp is speaking about the ever-so (devilishly) outspoken Jeremiah Tower (who I just can't help but adore.) and his tenure at the acclaimed (and indisputably influential) Berkeley, California restaurant, Chez Panisse, in the early 1970’s. The italics are Mr. Kamps.

What was most extraordinary about their partnership, Bishop says, is that Tower wrote out these elaborate, themed menus, a different one for each night of the week, and sent them off to Goines to be rendered in calligraphy, printed up, and posted for public viewing a few days before they’d be served…without ever having cooked any of the dishes described.


The scandal!

Oh. Wait. Really?

Who doesn’t do that?

I certainly do. Every darned time. Conceptualize first. Cook later. It seems only natural. Is that not natural?

And if not, I guess I am just doing things the JT way, because I never have a recipe first. Or, mostly never.

I just think of best and most intriguing ingredients, string their names together into a pretty title and start cooking. Seems like the right way to go.

Makes cooking that much more of an adventure I say. And lends itself more to my very own artistic expression...

This tartlette, for instance, was conceived as such:

Tomato Tartlettes with Rocket and Torpedoes Salad

Polenta Crust Tart, Czech Yellow Wonder, Black Triefle and Cherokee Purple Heart Tomatoes, Wild Rocket Greens, Pickled Torpedo Onions, Indonesian Long Pepper Vinaigrette

Right there you have whole recipe so far as I can tell. Hardly needs much explanation. I would argue that anyone with a basic knowledge of cooking could take that title, and the ingredients and pretty much come up with a sensational recipe. Perhaps it would be a free-form tart. Or maybe the tart would rest on a bed of the greens. Maybe the pickled onions would appear minced up in the dressing. The possibilities are endless and endlessly delightful. It's what I love about cooking. The interpretivnessocity of it all.

But not everyone has a basic knowledge of cooking now do they. And some people just happen to like a good old fashioned recipe. Nothing wrong there! So for them (and you!) I present my interpretation (read: recipe) of that string of pretty words. Its a good launching point and hopefully one that will inspire.

The Rocket and Torpedoes business is just me thinking I'm a cut above sassy, when it really just means arugula (called Rocket in the UK) and Torpedo onions, which are elongated red onions. You can use whatever you have on hand. I also incorporated Indonesian Long Pepper which was grated on a microplane. Chic and warm, it’s a nice variation from regular black pepper. All together this makes for a sensational starter or light luncheon.

So try this my peaches, and taste the joy.

Your favorite whole-wheat tart dough recipe – enough for two large tarts
12 large tomatoes
Olive oil
½ cup pickled torpedo/red onions
Parmesan cheese
2 cups arugula (Rocket) greens
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 scant teaspoon lemon juice
6 each, organic Indonesian long pepper, grated as needed
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
Pepper as needed

For individual tarts you will need six individual removable bottom fluted tart pans. Otherwise, just make one large tart.

Core your tomatoes and slice lengthwise. Coat the skin lightly with olive oil and season with salt. Place cut side down on a sheet pan and roast at 500F until the skin blisters – about 10 minutes. Remove and let cool.

Make your crust and blind bake. When slightly browned, remove from the oven and immediately grate some Parmesan cheese into each shell. Let cool then top with tomatoes.

For your vinaigrette. Whisk together the mustard, long pepper, olive oil and lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Toss the greens with a scant amount of the dressing.

Top each tartlette with the greens, some of the pickled onion and another light grating of Parmesan and long pepper.

Serves six

© 2008 Fresh Approach Cooking

© 2008 Rachael at "Fresh Approach Cooking"

Coffee is one of the world's most chemically treated food commodities. DDT, malathion, BHT, and petroleum-based chemical fertilizers are commonly used in it's production. - Los Angeles Magazine

Japanese Black Trifele are ttractive tomatoes that are the shape and size of a Bartlett pear with a beautiful purplish-brick color; the fruit are perfect and smooth with no cracks. The flavor is absolutely sublime, having all the richness of fine chocolate. -Baker Creek Seeds

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


Corn and Opal Basil Salad with Avocado

Now lookie here my little geese. My darling ganders. My sweet peaches.

What with that arbitrary holiday known as Labor Day (which I am all for, being a Union lovin’ gal and a bit of a socialist at heart and whatall) having come and gone you may be thinking “Alas! Summer is over! Whoa is me!”

But lament not!

According to the sun and the moon and the celestial path of this good earth I can assure you summer (in these here parts) is not at all over. (Unless you are the school attending type I suspect) And the bounty continues and the delicacies abound and let’s face it…there is much to revel in still.

You can still feel the sweet kiss of the sun and bite in to the heavenly fruits of the day. The moment has not passed.

(And to think. You accuse me of being hyperbolic. Haven’t we talked about this? I am! I am!)

As a darned fine example of the sustainable pleasures on which we feast, I offer you this. This dreamy delight. This earthy rendition of fantastic. This which will make your eyes smile and your mouth sing. Yes indeedy my angels my loves, this is that good. This is that simple. This is that close to summertime perfection.

This recipe, which was taught to me (though altered slightly) by the amazing, the incredible, the utterly foxy, Meg, of Large Marge Sustainable Catering, is what I am talkin' about. (And I hope if you have any catering needs you will give her sweet self a jingle and tell her I send my love.)

And as a fabulous bonus in my particular case, the ingredients seen here are all from my garden (yes, even the avocado). Which makes my heart beat that much louder and my desire for you to try it that much stronger. Home grown happiness.

Now please do try this and taste the joy.

4 ears of sweet corn
1 large avocado, diced
1/2 cup small, whole, purple (opal) basil leaves
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil

Cut the kernels from the corn. Toss (oh so gently) with the rest of the ingredients. Season. Taste. Re-season as needed. Serve as soon as possible.

Serves four.

© 2008 Fresh Approach Cooking

© 2008 Rachael at "Fresh Approach Cooking"

This RSS Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, or at the aforementioned url, the site you are looking at is guilty of infringing upon terms of my copyright. And generally cheesing me off.

In LA? Come take a cooking class at LA Food Works!

More than 50 million students eat lunch in school cafeterias daily. With the dawn of the new school year, districts across the country are signing on to the burgeoning "farm-to-school" movement. As a result, a number of school districts have cut back on fruits and vegetables purchased from large distributors in favor of working individually with local farmers. While that can be more expensive and may involve more work, food directors say it pays dividends in fresher, better-tasting produce that more kids eat. Signing up more kids for school lunches can help the bottom line, since schools receive a per-student subsidy from the Agriculture Department's National School Lunch Program. At the same time, schools are bolstering regional agricultural economies. - WSJ

Dark opal basil is a cultivar of Ocimum basilicum (sweet basil), developed by the University of Connecticut and John Scarchuk in the 1950s. With deep purple, sometimes mottled leaves, it is grown as much for its decorative appeal as for its culinary value. Dark opal basil is a past winner of the All-American Selection award. - Wikipedia

Labels: , , , , ,

... Chefs Blogs

... Click for Beverly Hills, California Forecast

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

All of the original words and pictures on this site are copyrighted property. (So there. Nyah.) With that in mind, please ask permission first and give due credit, if you plan on reproducing any part of it. Thanks so much!

2003-2008 COPYRIGHT (C) Fresh Approach Cooking