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The blog is dead, long live the blog!

The past week has been in the 90’s here, and without air conditioning or a range hood, I’ve been cooking during the cooler nights and stocking the refrigerator with cold salads.

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Attribution: zandland

My favorite new food item is wheatberries (whole wheat kernels minus the hull). I had seem them for a long time in the bulk section of natural food stores but dismissed them as something only a health nut would choke down. I was finally persuaded to try them by Mark Bittman in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian who wrote that they were one of his staple ingredients, ranking them as good as polenta. So there! I cooked them simply by boiling them in water, always making sure they didn’t dry out. They took about an hour but by the end they were deliciously nutty and chewy and left a sweet aftertaste sort of in the same way artichoke hearts do. Does that sound unappetizing? I don’t mean it to–I should instead them as having a texture between brown and wild rice, with a nuttier flavor. That sounds better. If I was reading this and was not yet convinced to try them, this would be the place to mention they cost less than a dollar a pound and are really good for you…

My favorite recipe so far is a wheatberry salad with cabbage and course mustard from Bittman (HTCEV p. 85). So refreshing, flavorful, and crunchy, I made nearly two gallons of it and it was gone in less than two days. Besides cooking the wheatberries the night before, it was a snap to make using pre-shredded cabbage from TJ’s. (Lazy, I know…) I intend to try the rest of his wheatberry recipes before the end of summer and will report back.

My refrigerator+cabinet surprise/recipe of the week was a pasta salad: whole wheat penne with broccoli and shaved parmesean tossed in walnut oil, a little greek yogurt, lemon juice, salt, hot pepper flakers, and lemon zest, which added a nice complex flavor. Due to a pasta-draining mishap, the ratio of penne to broccoli was 1:1 and although this wasn’t my original idea, I think it was pretty good. Nice layered flavors, right amount of acid/salt/cheesiness….  I’d go on but after remarking that she liked it, Deb noted it was reminiscent of cold mac and cheese. I might tinker with it a bit next time and skip the urge to make the dressing creamy.

Although it was not a salad, I have to endorse Mom’s advice for the bag of fava beans we got from our CSA earlier this month. Rather than laboriously prepare them in the kitchen for a small pile of parboiled, shelled, and sauted beans, we ate them raw according to specific direction. We sat outside with a bottle of Chianti, a baguette, a wedge of Parmesan, butter, and sea salt and just shucked and nibbled for two hours over conversation. I could do it weekly, but sadly, their season is just about a week long. Till next year!

Plans for the rest of this hot weather week include wild rice salad with roasted peppers, green olives, and corn, baked kale with peaches and balsamic (unless that’s vetoed as too weird), and sweet potato/apple burgers with a butter lettuce salad.  Any ideas for what to do with a box of figs purchased impulsively?

For Martin: Blood and Sand: equal parts of scotch, OJ, cherry brandy, and sweet vermouth, but not actually, Chris puts more scotch in.  Unappetizing name borrowed from a silent movie staring Rudolpho Valentino.

For Molly: Corn n’ oil: falernum + black rum (Molly).  Another unappetizing name, made worse by Chris not telling me what falernum was, but just pouring it from a cloudy mason jar that was in the back of his fridge.

For Gesine and Chris: Sazerac: notable for its use of absinthe in coating the inside of the glass.  Chris pours excess back into bottle because Mom did not pass on her love of anise flavor to her children.  (Chris and Gesine)

Pictures to follow!

Molly and Chris reunited over dinner in CA!

We went to a Puerto Rican restaurant last night and they cook their pinto beans with green spanish olives. I never would have thought of this, but it was delicious! The salty/fruity/savory olives really punched up the flavor of the creamy beans, mmmm.

Also, if you get a sandwich, you have the option of swapping out bread for mashed green plantains and garlic fried into tortilla-like rounds. Messy but yum!

Egg tarte with corn, basil, and cheese + warm potato and green bean salad in mustard mayo dressing.

Mom added salad dressing to the salad, and probably didn’t overcook the frittata.

I used mustard I made from scratch using mustard seeds and homemade beer.

No matter what, cold crustless quiche/fritatta/tarte whatever was DELICIOUS as was salad.  Both are but memories, as good food often bccomes.

Expect more posts, we just got a second refridgerator and I am cutting loose.

First of all, sorry for the prolonged absence.  Obviously, I have been cooking and eating this whole time, but fell off the blog wagon. I’m back.

Back to things cooked and eaten too quickly to take pictures: three day weekend edition:

  • Manchego and Parmesan encrusted shrimp over fresh tagliatelli with garlic and lemom
  • Kumquat preserves
  • Applesauce and wheat germ muffins
  • TACOS featuring Paprika and cornmeal encrusted fish, cumin-cilantro slaw, guacamole, corn salsa, and a citrus mint spritzer
  • For week: red curry with sweet potatoes, tofu, red bell peppers, and snow peas.

Things I learned:

Burn lesson I: Garlic burns easily, when they say cook it at a very low temperature, don’t impatiently turn up heat and leave pan to go defrost shrimp.

Using paper towels (and kitchen cloths) to clean burned garlic butter from frying pan is infinitely better than hot grease/steam burns in sink. (Mom don’t buy me another frying pan when you read this, I know I could use another one, but the stove top is so slow and I was so annoyed I didn’t want to lose heat/momentum.)

New ingredient: Manchego is a delicious cheese and I wish it cost less. Anyone know of other sheep cheeses we could try?

Burn II: Don’t try to toast wheat germ in your toaster oven; you are doomed to smoky failure. Untoasted wheat germ is still deliciously nutty and flavorful.

Even though it is intimidating, more expensive than anything else I eat, and used to be animated, seafood is delicious and cooking it is not rocket science.

If closed liquor stores thwart your last minute idea for margaritas, make strong mint tea, juice lemons, limes, and an orange (or really whatever) and combine with sugar and ice till it tastes good. If you want to be fancy, add club soda instead of water.

Kumquat preserves taste good with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and desert.  Per Mom’s advice, next time I might add a cinnamon stick or vanilla bean to the boiling kumquat-sugar pan to flesh out the flavor.

Bonus one week ago baking: Best. Chocolate. Cake. In. History!  I’ve made it twice and it is forgiving, but more importantly, MOUTH WATERINGLY DELICIOUS.  It is also absurdly large.  Be prepared (and invite friends over).
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Double-Chocolate-Layer-Cake-101275

I asked for some suggestions for dinners. Mom-the-chef says:

How about you make pork tenderloin rubbed with ancho chiles and
cumin, grilled. Serve with rice, fried plantains, orange and red onion
salad, plus whatever veg looks good at the market?

Here is our current favorite rice- put 3 carrots through the mandoline
or slice into match sticks. Cook in butter until slightly carmelized
and limp, add shallots, cook a bit, add rice and chicken broth. Cook
and eat. Yum.

OR MAKE:
Green beans finished with gorgonzola, chicken halved and flattened
with a (preheated) foil covered brick on the grill with hot pepper
flakes and an antipasto platter of delicious odds and ends…

OR:
Your fabulous chicken stuffed under the skin with zucchini, ricotta
and parmesan, salad and bread.

(She’s talking about the stuffed chicken from Richard Olney’s “Simple
French Food” but I don’t have the recipe with me at work and can’t
find it online. I may have it at home.) And I just learned that a
flattened bird is called a “spatchcocked” chicken:

“In Simple French Food, the late Richard Olney wrote about stuffing a
flattened chicken with grated zucchini mixed with ricotta and Parmesan
cheeses. Olney prepared the recipe on his book-promotion tour in the
early 1970s, and for a while it became popular among cooks.
We still see spatchcocked chicken on menus around town, sometimes just
asimple flattened bird with a mixture of herbs tucked underneath the
skin. It always feels new. “

–from http://www.nakedwhiz.com/spatchdef.htm

OR
Good beer, sausages, different mustards, boiled potatoes with parsley
& pepper, green beans and a tomato salad.

OR
Potato leek soup with spinach leaves, sausages and homemade bread.”

I think I’m full already…
I’m making the flat herbed chicken tonight, and having a little
cocktail party tomorrow. I’ll be serving Sazerac Cocktails, Sidecars,
and making gumbo, for a cajun themed evening. See http://www.gumbopages.com/food/soups/gumbo-de-savoy.html for a great recipe. In fact, just read that whole site, it’s phenomenal!
http://www.gumbopages.com/food/beverages/sazerac.html for the Sazerac, and
for a sidecar:

2 ounces Brandy or cognac, depending on budget
1 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce lemon juice
Shake with ice. Strain into cocktail glass.

Lemoncello and framboise

The Factory

One batch of Framboise, a double of Lemoncello.

First, you’ll need two 1.75 liter bottles or big sun tea jars.

Lemoncello:

about a dozen lemons, a few more is OK.

.75 liter bottle of Everclear (grain alcohol) or vodka (cheap is fine). Everclear isn’t sold in all states, but makes stronger (better) Lemoncello.

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups water

Optional: a bit of ginger, rosemary or a very small amount of pepper.

Wash the lemons with a wax remover soap, sold at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. This is a bit of work but is important.

Peel the lemons carefully, you only want the yellow skin, not the white part underneath.

Pour the Everclear or vodka into one of the large, empty 1.75l bottles and add the lemon peel. Store in a dark place; shake/stir maybe once a week. After about a month, using a coffee filter or fine strainer, pour the liquid into the other empty 1.75l bottle. You’ll have a half full 1.75l bottle of very lemony Everclear or vodka.

Combine the sugar and water, heat until the sugar dissolves, let cool to room temp. Add the sugar water to the large bottle and let sit another couple of weeks or longer. If some cloudy sediment forms, filter through cheesecloth and/or coffee filters.

Delicious when served directly from the freezer.

The raspberry mash.

The raspberry mash.

Framboise:

1 lb fresh raspberries

1 lb sugar

1 cup water

2 cups vodka

2 cups brandy

2 cups water

Rinse and check the berries, place in a large bowl or plastic container. Moderately crush the berries with the back of a spoon.

Heat the sugar in water until disolved, let cool.

Add sugar water to berries, cover and store in the fridge for a week. Swirl once in a while.

Strain through cheesecloth or a fine wire mesh strainer into one of the large 1.75 liter bottles.

Add vodka, brandy and remaining water.

Store in a dark closet for about a month. You’ll probably want to re-strain again as a frothy layer will probably form at the top of the bottle.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Your storage bottles should be really clean. A couple of rinse-outs with soapy water followed by a couple of rinse-outs with very hot water followed with a final rinse out with near-boiling water is what you need.