Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Kale with crocodile

Curly kale sauteed in olive oil, anchovy paste, garlic and white wine. With bbq sauce and feta cheese. Crocodile: Patti Sandberg.


Fall came and went

The fall and the foilage were mixed up this year. At first there were seasonal cold days, then a sudden summer warm weekend; a week later the maple trees took on a red look but also the leaves almost gone instantly with a few days. However, there are still many, many trees with yellow and brown leaves. I miss the red, my favorite dot of fall color.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Easy Italian plum tart

Italian plums are less common in US than in Europe. However, they make for a great, simple,  juicy tart in the fall. Using store-bought pie crust, this tart takes about 10 min to make (+ 30 min baking). Delicious!

Plum tart:

  • 9 1/2 inch tart pan (best with removable bottom)
  • store-bought (or home-made) bake-ready pie crust
  • 1 pound Italian plums, washed, stone removed, quartered
  • 3-4 tablespoon of ground hazelnuts or almonds
  • 2 eggs
  • 150ml milk
  • 1/4 cup fine sugar
  • 1/2 ts vanilla extract

Preheat the oven for 375 F degrees. Lay the tart pan with a layer of pie crust and press it into the corners and rim of the tart pan. Cut off excess dough. Sprinkle the base slightly with ground hazelnuts or almond meal. Cover it with quartered plums. Sprinkle a 1 TB of sugar over the plums. Mix the eggs with the milk, the sugar and vanilla. Pour the mix over the plum tart and bake for 30 minutes. Let it set for about 30 min for the custard to set and firm before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Not the Maine event

Article of a Philadelphian food critic’s recent family trip to Maine for lobster and other local fare.

“With such natural bounty to work with, food craftsmen with a strong locavore sensibility were everywhere we looked in Maine, from the dome-shaped pizza trucks (Harvest Moon and Uproot) that dotted the farm markets from Damariscotta to Rockland, to cheesemakers such as Seal Cove and Hahn's End, to Mount Desert Island Ice Cream in Bar Harbor, where Ambler-raised Linda Parker draws on local dairies for the ingredients for inventive ice creams with names like Bay of Figs and Blackstrap Banana that are as rich as they are clever. Even Allagash in Portland, the trend-setting Belgian-style brewery that's the national star of Maine's growing craft beer industry, has been using local fruits and wild yeasts to give its coveted barrel-aged sour ales - like Coolship Cerise - a distinctive sense of terroir.

Terroir - French to describe the intrinsic flavor of a place - is a word Maine chefs have been using since the early 1980s, almost simultaneously with Northern California. That's when Sam Hayward began calling himself a "terroirist" at a little restaurant named 22 Lincoln in Brunswick, and the "back-to-the-land" movement had found an inexpensive, rain-rich mecca for independent small farming in a state that now has the highest percentage of organic farms per capita in the nation.”

“There were other heralded Maine tables we didn't quite make, such as the garden-ringed Primo in Rockland and luxurious Arrows in Ogunquit. But there were so many other restaurant highlights, they were hardly missed. At Chase's Daily in downtown Belfast, a market-bakery outlet for the Chase family's 500-acre farm where dinner is prepared only on Friday nights, I ate one of the best vegetarian meals of my life. It was international in inspiration but deeply rooted in Maine produce. We spooned through cob-sweet Mexican white corn soup; a plate of heirloom soldier beans stewed Tuscan style with sage beneath shaved Parmesan; an exquisitely layered lasagna of beets, gorgonzola, and walnut sauce; and an upside-down plum cake that tasted like the caramelized end of summer.”

Click here for the full article by Craig LaBan.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Vegan Chili Verde with Hominy

It is chili weather, chilly + chili. The Food Network knows this and Giada di Laurentiis was also prepared with a special cooking different chilis, which all looked delicious and off the beaten path. I made the vegan chili verde which is light and quite different from meaty, heavy and beany chilis, but it does not lack the punch and stewy consistency. Tomatillos add a tart and lemony dimension and it works well with the potatoes, hominy and pureed poblanos.

Vegan Chili Verde with Hominy  (original source): (makes 4 large servings)

  • 1 TB extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 chopped white onion
  • medium sized Yukon gold potato, peeled and cut into 1/3-inch cubes
  • medium sized yam (red-skinned sweet potato), peeled and cut into 1/3-inch cubes
  • 3 large cloves garlic, flattened, peeled and microplaned
  • 4 large tomatillos (8 to 9 ounces), husked, rinsed, cored and chopped
  • 2 large poblano chiles (8 to 9 ounces), stemmed, seeded; 1 diced, 1 cut into 4 strips
  • 2 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • One 15-ounce can hominy with juices (preferably golden)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • One 7-ounce can diced mild green chiles
  • Garnishes, such as crumbled feta cheese, greek yogurt, chopped green onions, sliced avocados, lime wedges and chopped serrano chiles

    Open the can of mild green chiles  and pour then in a processor. Coarsely chop the raw poblano peppers and add them to the food processor, and puree until smooth. This makes for a nice deep green color of the chili.

    Heat the oil in a heavy, large pot over low to medium heat. Add the chopped onions, diced potatoes, yams, garlic, and tomatillos. Cover and sweat until the onions are tender. Mix in the oregano, flour, and cumin. Add the hominy with the juices and the broth as well as the chile sauce from the food processor. Bring the chili to a low simmer.

    Cover and simmer the chili 20 minutes, but stir regularly because it tends to stick to the  pot bottom because of the tomatillos. After the first 20min, uncover and simmer until the potatoes and yams are tender and the chili is reduced to desired consistency, stirring often again, 20 to 25 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

    Serve with your favorite toppings. I added greek yogurt and avocado slices.


  • Wednesday, October 12, 2011

    Roasted Figs with Red Wine, Honey and Greek Yogurt

    The last few of the Trader Joes’ mission figs were more than ripe and baking them in red wine with spices and serving them with Greek yogurt sweetened with honey and cinnamon was the last fig recipe for the season. A luxurious, simple ending to the fig season!

    Roasted Figs   (makes 2 servings):

    • ca 10 fresh Mission figs, halved
    • 1/4 cup cabernet sauvignon
    • juice of 1/2 lemon
    • zest of 1 lemon
    • 1 TB super-fine sugar
    • 3 whole star anise
    • 1 small cup Greek yogurt (like Fage)
    • 1 TB + 1 ts honey
    • 1/4 ts cinnamon

    Preheat oven to 400F.

    Arrange the figs in an oven-safe baking dish. In a small bowl, mix the cabernet, lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar and star anise. Pour over the mission figs, and bake for about 20 min.

    Mix a small cup of Greek yogurt with honey and cinnamon. Serve 10 half mission figs, still warm, on a plate for each portion, and top with a 1/2 cup of the sweetened Greek yogurt, and a drizzle of honey.


    Monday, October 10, 2011

    Fig pizza

    Fresh California mission figs have not much of a shelf life to speak of. I was in a hurry to try out what I actually bought them for: fig pizza. The real deal  of this pizza is with pizza dough made from scratch, proscuitto, gorgonzola, walnuts, sliced figs, baked and then topped with arugula salad with a balsamic reduction drizzle. Since I had made an apple tart from scratch I was in no mood for all the fuzz. So, shortcut to the rescue. I used a frozen small Trader Joes pizza, removed much of the toppings, and added gorgonzola and goat cheese crumbles instead and topped it with fresh figs before baking. 15 min later, warm, baked and smelling heavenly I added thinly sliced radicchio, pecans and balsamic vinaigrette. Elegance with a shortcut.


    Sunday, October 9, 2011

    Another dose of summer

    There was a 5 day stretch of winter foreboding last week: dark skies, cold temperatures and continuous rain. My body responded as necessary: putting me into a state of winter-ready hibernation. But the sun and even summer temperature came back this weekend. 80s? My body was more than ready to jerk me back into high energy and bright mood, and so I headed to the coast. 

    Belfast, ME, is a good coastal destination, nice old red brick houses town center with amazing stores, and one of my favorite restaurant in Maine, Chase’s Daily. The restaurant is housed in basically one large tall room, with tables and chairs in the front, a cordoned area which separates the restaurant kitchen area, a large old-fashioned counter with the tastiest looking tarts and croissants and a lavish cheese counter. The back area of the restaurants is an empty, hardwood floor lined art gallery space in the winter, but in the summer and fall it is an indoor farmers market. Since Chase’s Daily grows most of their produce on their own farm, and the surplus is sold in the back part of the restaurant. So, you can get bread, cheese and veggies, and before you get ready to labor in the kitchen yourself, you can relax with a cappucino and a plum tart, or a Tuscan bean soup and some Geary’s ale as in my case.

    chases_8 chases_9

    Sunday, October 2, 2011

    Foraging and Chanterelles

    This year, September has been a good month to find plenty of chanterelles in the woods. I have been foraging several times and brought home so many wild mushroom I had to freeze a few pounds of chanterelles. The last loot was, however, prepared right away. Chanterelles with 1 Tb of butter, 1 finely chopped shallot, cleaned and sliced chanterelles, salt, pepper, a 1/2 Tb of creme fraiche and chopped fresh parsley. Fall time fare at its best!


    Saturday, October 1, 2011

    Apple Olive Oil Cake

    It is apple picking time again! Maybe not today since it rains, so it is more apple cake baking time. This is one of my favorite apple cake recipe from La tartine gourmand. It is not only elegant and tasty, but also glutenfree.

    Apple Olive Oil Cake a la Tartine Gourmande (makes 2 small cakes or 1 large):

    • 1/2 TB butter
    • 5 smaller apples, peeled, cored and finely diced
    • 1/2 cup blond organic cane sugar + 1 TB for the apples
    • 1/2 TB vanilla extract
    • 1 ts finely chopped lemon thyme
    • 4 organic free-range eggs
    • Pinch of sea salt
    • 1/3 cup olive oil
    • 100 g millet flour & 100g brown rice flours*
    • 65 g almond meal*
    • 40 g quinoa flour*
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder

      *Or 200 g (gluten-free) all-purpose flour replacing all the other flours and almond meal combined

    In a sautee pan, heat 1/2 TB butter over medium heat. When warm, add the diced apples with 1 Tb cane sugar, and cook for 5 minutes, or until the apples are softer. Set aside.

    Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray 2 smaller or 1 larger (i.e.10-inch) mold with baking spray (with butter and flour) and set aside.

    In a bowl, combine the flours and baking powder and lemon thyme. In another bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar and a pinch of salt and the vanilla extract. Add the olive oil and mix well. Add the wet mixture to the flours. Fold the apples in the cake batter. Transfer the batter to the molds and bake the cake for 40 minutes for a very small mold and 50 min for a small, but higher mold, or until a sharp knife inserted in the middle comes out dry. Let the cakes cool for 5 minutes before unmolding.