Friday, November 30, 2007

double agent: blooming green tea pot

blooming green tea is $2 apiece at bad robot. i found a clear glass double boiler to work well in place of a clear glass teapot designed expressly for the brewing and viewing of the tea. don't think you need to buy a new teapot just to enjoy this popular new variety.

boil the water in the smaller pan of the double boiler. (the bigger lip on the large pan will make it easier to pour into cups later.) place the tea blossoms-- which aren't real flowers, but are still quite lovely sewn together-- in the large pan. once the water reaches a boil, turn off heat. when it stops rolling, pour over the tea. and citrus or ginger if you wish. cover with the same lid. after five or ten minutes (you should really judge this for yourself!) pour the tea, using the lid as a strainer if needed.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

for the occasional milk drinker

a couple of different companies are producing aseptic packages of cow's organic milk. it's not a bad idea to keep a couple in the kitchen for emergencies. because of the packaging technique, this one i just bought is good till april!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

more cocktail (ducktail?) sandwiches

those loaves of cocktail bread are long! and to think i bought two.
this is more of the same pumpernickel from rubschlager, which has a nice bite to it, and keeps itself together amazingly well for such a thin, and oddly tiny, slice of bread.
i bought knott's berry farm jalapeno jelly for this, and while it is an amazing color, it was not remotely spicy enough to stand up to the other flavors.

take whatever serving platter you're using and cover it with slices of the bread, so you know how much to chop up in the way of toppings. spread a light layer of hot! pepper jelly on each slice.
top with a 1/8 inch slice of smoked duck. (cetak's has them right now and they're pretty good, but 13.77#. pieces averaged around twenty bucks. i used about a third of one here, froze a third, and will use the other third this week.) (the circumference of the smoked duck at cetak's may have inspired my entire foray into cocktail sandwiches.)
top each with however much chevre there is to go around (as to use a whole tube of the fresh goat cheese). cetak's has the standard little tubes for 4.99.
very thinly slice one or two stalks of celery, and arrange in whatever pattern on top of the cheese. it doesn't take much pressure for them to stay put.
then one more dollop of hot! pepper jelly on top.

these were gone quickly, but i can imagine this is not a fragile traveler, and could be assembled hours ahead of time--and stay that way through to their destination.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

smiley faces, even for some crazy vegan kids. and their offspring.

again, more popular with the adults than the kids, but i was one of those adults.
i finally got to use one of those loaves of cocktail bread from a chicago company called rubschlager, which happened to be on sale at hy-vee this week... and i chose the pumpernickel for this snack.
take your largest cookie sheet and layer the bottom with pieces of untoasted cocktail bread. spread each one lightly with hummus-- this is just to get the cucumber to stick, so use a light touch.
you need one cucumber (cut into at least as many coins as the number of pieces of cocktail bread). cut this up now, and toss into a bowl of salted water (to dry the cucumber a little) while you cut up two sticks of celery. one stick as the traditional c-shape. the other stick sliced from top to bottom before using the same slice as on the first stick, producing two eyebrows for every smile... again, you need at least as many as it takes to top each slice of bread. decide thickness of slice accordingly.
drain cucumber, affix coin to hummus-spread bread. add another thin layer of hummus atop the cucumber. use two small chunks and one c-shape of celery to make a smiley face on each bread-and-cucumber slice.

Monday, November 19, 2007

new york: not just a reality tv character

new yorks on sale at cetak's on mondays. anyway. put some peeled parsnips, 2 tbsp butter and 1/2 can of broth into the oven at 375 for thirty minutes. meanwhile, toasted some pecans in a skillet over medium heat. and as soon as those popped enough to get me nervous, i added one julienned onion and the rest of the broth-- and once that sizzled, i threw in one chopped gold bell pepper. put that over low heat and mixed with the parsnips (now out of the oven!) and covered.
grilled the meat over medium heat till medium rare, with the asparagus on the same grill at the last turn.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

non-ad sale of the weekend

two good sales on convenience meat food at 70th & pioneers hy-vee. they have shrimp appetizers from royal asia marked down from ten dollars to two... these must have moved not at all, because the candied walnuts alone (in the box i bought) were a steal at two bucks.
also crazy cheap at that location: sandwich-style bacon. more canadian than strip in format, must not have made an impression on their regular shoppers; but for three dollars a pound you can close your eyes and pretend it's whatever shape of your bacon dreams.

Monday, November 12, 2007

kid-friendly vegan potluck salad

(and by kid-friendly, i mean kids there will like at least a couple of the ingredients, and their parents will still eat the salad as is.)

first, make the dressing: open a can of mandarin oranges. reserve oranges, and drain the syrup into a small bowl. to the syrup, add an equal part of olive oil and a half part of tamari, and one tbsp small flake coconut. mix and set aside.

take one bag cleaned baby spinach and empty into large bowl. add three ribboned carrots. add dressing and toss.

on top of tossed salad, arrange drained mandarin oranges in a ring, and throw a handful of roasted soynuts in the middle of that. if you mix the oranges or nuts into the salad now, they'll sink to the bottom of the bowl by the time you get to the potluck... so toss it all together when you get there.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

pumpkin marshmallow bread pudding

i couldn't find a recipe using canned pumpkin and marshmallows in a bread pudding... much less using breads like sourdough and pumpernickel, which i thought would stand up pleasantly to the sweetness of the dessert... so i put this recipe together from several others, with my own additions.

preheat oven to 350.
mix together two cups of milk and a third of a can of canned pumpkin. set aside.
chop 5-6 pieces of bread into cubes. toss these, and one cup of small marshmallows, into the pumpkin milk and stir till covered evenly. let this soak together while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

in another bowl, mix three eggs together. add a tbsp of maple syrup, a tsp of nutmeg (and whatever other related spices suggest themselves to you), and the rest of the can of pumpkin, and stir together.
pour this mixture over the soaking bread, stir to combine, and spoon into two loaf pans or similar. (there's just something funny about bread pudding in a loaf pan.)

bake for about thirty minutes, or until the batter sets-- if you use glass pans, you'll see it pulling away from the sides in places. serve warm, with whipped cream.

Friday, November 9, 2007

jalapeno and cheese cornbread muffins

i picked up some bob's red mill corn bread mix. the recipe on the back of the package is pretty simple to follow: mix together the wet ingredients (1 egg, 1/2 cup oil, 1 1/4 cup water) and add that mixture to 2 1/2 cups mix, stir only to combine. makes 12 muffins. 400 degrees, 15 minutes.

i decreased the oil slightly, and after the wet and dry ingredients were combined, i gently and briefly stirred in one diced jalapeno and 1/4 cup shredded colby jack cheese. these are tasty but very hot! good with cream cheese.

if you don't believe me, try it

let's say you're getting yourself ready for dinner while you're getting the dinner ready. if your evening includes both putting in contact lenses, and chopping up a jalapeno... fingers should touch contacts first!

broccoli balsamic with hazelnuts

bags of julienned broccoli stalks are in most of the bigger produce sections in town, labeled broccoli slaw. just because it's marketed as cole slaw doesn't mean you need to use it as such. this is just one idea for a quick side dish.
(it's the season for cheaper whole nuts in the produce section, too. have fun [carefully!] cracking the nutshells by giving each one a quick whack of a hammer while still in the plastic bag. as long you don't really smash them hard, the nutmeats are easy to remove from the shells. )

chop and toast a couple dozen hazelnuts in a skillet that has a lid...but don't use the lid yet. add a tablespoon of balsamic salad dressing and about as much water, and then add a bag of broccoli stalks. keep over low heat five minutes, stir occasionally. then add more water and cover to steam another five minutes.

i put some chunks of sheep's milk cheese on the top after taking this off the heat, and re-cover for a couple minutes to soften but not completely melt the cheese.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

...and, speaking of popcorn...

i'm all for making anything at home... unless, of course, you can buy it cheaper and easier than you can make it yourself. case in point: colby ridge's popcorn of unnamed flavor that is mostly plain popcorn with about 10% each of cheese and caramel popcorn tossed in.
salty! sweet! delicious.
available at their locations throughout the city, check for specials at the one near you.

honey baked ham and greens soup

the ham bone i got from honey baked ham was too big for even my biggest stock pot! there was still tons of meat on it, though, which i carved off and used to make a fantastic soup.
first i caramelized one julienned onion in a little olive oil. then i added two cans of chicken stock (on sale all over town this week) and the same amount of water, one whole dried chili pepper, and the ham from the hambone. i let this bubble away till i couldn't stand it any longer, about an hour. then i added one bunch of chopped kale, stirred, and covered. after ten minutes-- in other words, before the kale was overdone-- i removed the pan from the burner.

thrift shopping for the kitchen

i got these at saint louise's thrift store at 22nd and o street, the best thrift store in town. two hard plastic containers with a pleasing design, perfect for holding implements on the counter and freeing up some drawer space.

Monday, November 5, 2007

carrot cucumber and sesame salad

this is a good clean taste on a plate with either a complicated protein flavor, like game, or a delicate one such as whitefish.
first peel, quarter and slice one cucumber; throw that into a bowl with two ribboned carrots and a tablespoon of sesame seeds. in another bowl, mix together white wine vinegar and toasted sesame oil (in a ratio to your taste-- i go for equal parts myself). toss the dressing with the vegetables and chill while cooking the meat and grains.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

easy spicy-sweet-hot marinade

green onions are a buck for three bunches at hy-vee this week. which inspired this marinade for chicken last night.
one cup pineapple juice, 1/4 cup tamari, 1/4 cup toasted sesame oil. one chopped bunch of green onions, an inch of grated ginger, and three dried chiles. mix. marinate.
this would work well with some fish, too.

caramelizing onions, just for the record

this is the first step in about half the things i make, so i thought i'd go over it once. i know people who've thought 'caramelizing onions' meant adding sugar, but that's not the case. it just means heating the onions over low heat till translucent. the process brings out the sugar within the onion, taking away the bitterness (and resultant onion breath). if you take the onions all the way to browned--keep stirring!--you'll be surprised how sweet an onion can be. smells great, too.

making ribbons out of carrot sticks

carrots have a great sweet flavor. they're super cheap and they pop with color. i've never been a big fan of the texture, however... too woody when raw in a salad, whether in chunks or julienned. too mushy when cooked, as in a soup.
i solved my texture problem with this technique, and this is how i always prepare carrots now.
after peeling off the outer layer, which i discard, i just keep on peeling. when i get to the core of the carrot, when it gets difficult to peel, i just eat it right there as a snack.
tossed into a salad raw, or cooked into a warm dish, or even as a layer in a sandwich--it works!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

snack bars with an autumn flavor

having recently over- estimated someone's love of cereal, and wanting to take a snack to a friend's art opening, i put this together last night. gooey!
i was starting out with a big bag of honey nut whole grain cereal called scooters. the other ingredients followed that flavor lead. both the chips and the marshmallows were on sale at hy-vee.

first, melted a half a stick of butter over low heat. when liquid, added a bag of marshmallows, a cup of butterscotch chips, and a teaspoon of cinnamon. stirred constantly till all that melted, then immediately added six cups of cereal and stirred it to coat. then transferred the sticky mess as fast as i could into a pan, and spread it out as well as i could before it got solid. they disappeared quickly.

Friday, November 2, 2007

the best post-halloween sale buy ever

a skull plate! with nested eye- bowls! now only a dollar. there were still plenty at the 70th & pioneers hy-vee earlier today.

a pair of goulashes

i once went to a little eastern european restaurant in north beach, and was so excited to see goulash on the menu. not a common offering in san francisco, and a childhood favorite of mine to boot. i couldn't wait.
however, when the order appeared, i learned that goulash is one of those dishes with a lot of variations out there. the soupy stew on the plate in front of me was not my idea of goulash. and the open mic spoken word that started up right after was not my idea of poetry...but that's another story.

this is my version of the variation i grew up with:
dice an onion and caramelize in a little olive oil. when translucent, add one pound ground chuck and a tablespoon of paprika, and begin browning. in another pan, boil up a package of macaroni to just underdone. then drain the pasta, pour back into the pasta pan, and add the meat. with the pan over low heat, add a pint of tomato soup and stir till the dish comes together.
i used pacific natural foods' organic roasted red pepper and tomato soup, because it was just on sale at red clover...but any tomato soup works.