Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sheffield Harvest Crush Apple and Grape Cider

My stepson contributed this tasty local cider to our Christmas dinner.  Sheffield Cider in Mesa (just north of Pasco) makes this blend from apples and several varieties of wine grapes.  It's amazingly fresh tasting, almost like fresh-squeezed juice.  First you taste the apple, then a delightfully crisp grape essence.

Add Alan Pangborn's Blanc de Blanc from Moonlight Cellar in Kennewick, and you have two wonderful, local ways to toast the New Year.  Resolve to make 2011 your year for eating locally!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Smoked Salmon Chowder

This delicious chowder has become our traditional Christmas Eve dinner dish.  Savory, hearty, with a subtle hint of tarragon ... it's a real keeper.  I've tweaked it a bit and see that I've written "perfect" on its page in the cookbook.
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SMOKED SALMON CHOWDER
Adapted from Soups and Stews by Maryana Vollstedt

Do make this a day ahead of time and chill so the flavors can blend.  Stir in the half-and-half when heating to serve.  You can leave out the half-and-half and still have a delectable, creamy chowder.

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1/3 cup all-purpose flour

4 cups chicken stock
2 cups bottled clam broth
2 Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and cut in half-inch dice
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dill
1 teaspoon paprika

10 ounces smoked salmon, from Northwest Seafood Market, skin removed and flaked
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 drops Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup half-and-half (or mixed Pure Eire milk and cream), optional

In large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, melt butter with oil.  Add onion and celery and saute until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle flour over vegetables and stir.  Add stock and stir until slightly thickened.  Add potatoes, tarragon, thyme, dill and paprkia.  Cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.  Add salmon, garlic, lemon juice, Tabasco sauce, salt, pepper and wine.  Simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes.  Add half-and-half and simmer over low heat until heated through, about 5 minutes.

The Lunar Eclipse/Solstice Box

Total lunar eclipse, Winter Solstice, and Winter CSA Box Three--all on the same day.  What is the deeper, or higher, meaning of this?  Um ... nothing!  I don't mean to squash anyone's enthusiasm for the supernatural, but I don't carrot all for big stretches to link unrelated items. Unless I'm trying to put a bunch of things into a recipe ...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Western Dried Fruits Cake


A gem of a cake made entirely of nuts and dried fruits, with just enough vanilla-scented batter to hold it all together.  Beautiful, jewel-like slices go wonderfully with coffee and tea, or on a plate of cookies and candies for dessert after a holiday meal.

This recipe came out in the 80's and I've seen many versions since then, varying the fruits and nuts, adding candied ginger and such.  But for a pure, heavenly taste that unquestionably deserves all the superlatives you can give it, this original version is the ticket.

I've been making this cake in little foil pans for around 25 years now, and giving them as gifts.  Merry Christmas!
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WESTERN DRIED FRUITS CAKE
From Sunset Magazine

A couple of hints:  Snip the apricots into quarters using kitchen shears.  It's easier than using a knife.  To butter the pans, use a brush dipped in melted butter; brush the butter onto the waxed paper lining also.

1 cup chopped pitted dates
2 cups quartered dried apricots
1 cup golden raisins
1-1/2 cups whole blanched almonds
1-1/2 cups walnut pieces
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Butter a 5- x 9-inch loaf pan; line with baking parchment or waxed paper, then butter the paper.

In small bowl, combine flour, sugar and baking powder to blend.  

In large bowl, combine dates, apricots, raisins, almonds and walnuts.  Add flour mixture to fruits and mix evenly.

Beat eggs with vanilla to blend.  Stir thoroughly into fruit mixture.  Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan and spread evenly; press batter into corners of pan, and press batter down as you fill the pan so there are no gaps.  Shape the batter so it's a bit rounded on the top of the loaf.

Bake in a 300-degree oven until golden brown, about 2 hours.  Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn out of pan.  Peel off paper and let cake cool on rack.

Wrap in plastic wrap or foil.  Chill at least two days or up to two months.  Or eat it immediately!  The flavor is excellent fresh, too.  If desired, sprinkle the top of the cake with 1 tablespoon rum or brandy once a week.

Makes 1 loaf

Gift loaves option:  Double the recipe.  Use six small foil loaf pans, about 3 x 6 inches.  Butter and line pans as instructed above.  Be sure to push batter into corners of pans and press down so the loaf is compact.  Bake at 250 degrees (a cooler temperature than the big, single loaf) for 2 hours.  Watch the cakes during the last hour to prevent burning.  For these small loaves, I found that 300 degrees was too hot.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Book Review: The Dirty Life

This book was absorbing and compelling all the way through.  It goes way beyond "city girl marries farmer."  Ms. Kimball describes how, although she was completely unfamiliar with farming, she almost instantly was captivated by its gritty fundamentalness.  She felt safe, seeing literally for the first time in her life where food actually came from.  A New Yorker, she had rarely cooked.

The farmer who became the author's husband, and with whom she started and currently operates a whole-diet CSA farm, is a fascinating man who lives his beliefs about how food should be grown, and he cooks fantastically simple yet complexly-flavored meals with the farm produce. 

There are no recipes, but that's kind of the point.  The author writes that when we move to seasonal, local eating, "The central question in the kitchen would have to change from What do I want? to What is available?"  The Kimballs provide "naked, unprocessed food, two steps from the dirt."

Their Essex Farm is the first whole-diet CSA in the country, providing members with beef, pork, chicken, eggs, milk, herbs and vegetables, berries, grains and flours, legumes, and maple syrup. 

This is a book to savor, but that will have to happen on my second trip through.  The first time I was completely caught up in the suspense inevitably generated when livelihood is linked so directly to something as capricious as Nature.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Roasted Beet Salad with Arugula, Goat Cheese, and Horseradish Vinaigrette

My Mom recently returned from a trip to Hood River, Oregon, and described this dish she encountered at the restaurant at Hood River Inn.  It sounded simple and delicious.  Spectacular, multicolored beets arrived in the first two CSA boxes, so I roasted them, used some for this salad, and pickled the rest. 

For two salads, simply cut peeled, roasted beets into chunks and toss them in a mixture of 2 tablespoons olive oil or Apres Vin grapeseed oil, 2 tablespoons vinegar, 2 teaspoons horseradish, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper.  Let the tossed beets sit in the mixture for a while, then lift out and arrange them atop arugula on two salad plates.  Drizzle remaining dressing from the bowl over the salads, and scatter crumbled goat cheese atop.  I think any vinaigrette, especially perhaps cranberry or raspberry, would be just as delicious.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

That Casa Mia Mango Dessert

Casa Mia makes a delicious dessert of zabaglione topped with mango puree.  My Costco mangoes were ripening alarmingly fast, so I decided to sort of replicate the Casa Mia dessert using my Pure Eire milk and cream.  Now, I use very little dairy, but can't seem to resist picking up some Pure Eire whenever I'm in one of our local health food stores.  My philosophy is that if you're going to have some dairy, why not have fresh, local dairy, from Jersey cows?

So.  I sliced two mangoes into the blender, and added enough milk and cream (okay, more cream than milk) so that the whole thing could blend into two servings worth of delicious, creamy, mango-y dessert.  Satisfying, and no processed sugar involved. 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Slow Food Christmas Cookie Exchange

Thirteen brave folks added the Slow Food Cookie exchange to their busy holiday calendars.  This despite the invitation to put vegetables in cookies, and categories for judging including "healthiest ingredient" and "most unusual ingredient."  Slow Food folk are incredibly intrepid!  They even shared favorite baking memories with the receptive group.   From left, Kurt, Nick, Sarah, Aisling, Peggy, Rachel, Laurie and Russ.

Ask Angela about anything to do with baking, and you will get an enthusiastic and thorough response, as Whitney finds out!

We sampled Carrot-Beet Cookies, Herb Shortbread, Spinach-Blueberry-Oat Bars, Squash-Cranberry-Walnut Biscotti, Pumpkin Cookies, Brandy Balls, Ginger Cookies, and Green Tea-Pecan Cookies. A good-natured but somewhat controlled free-for-all voting session awarded bakers prizes for healthiest ingredient, most local, most unusual ingredient, and first place in taste.  Congratulations to winners Sarah (2!), Angela and Peggy.

Not just cookies, but cider, local cheeses, fresh-baked bread (with local flour) by Angela, local hot spiced wine, and fruits were on offer.

Softly falling snow added to the holiday ambiance.

My Mom chats with Russ and Laurie, who supply many local folks with free-range chickens, eggs, turkeys, and even ducks. Thanks to all the farmers and bakers who made this relaxing and fun Slow Food event possible!  And special thanks to Angela for co-hosting!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cranberry Pluot Sauce



Rummaging in the freezer, I found cranberries from last year.  And beside them, a container of pluot sauce frozen this summer.  Combine them?  Why not! 

I usually make cranberry sauce with orange juice concentrate, but these fruity things seemed drawn to each other by some invisible force of culinary serendipity.  It happens!  It's fun, momentarily at least, to free oneself from the same old combinations of things and take a risk. 

In this case the payoff was an amazingly great cranberry sauce with summery pluot undertones.  I used a little honey to bring a not-too-sweet balance to the sauce and harmonize the flavors.
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CRANBERRY PLUOT SAUCE

8 cups frozen cranberries
3 cups pluot sauce (plum sauce would work, too)
1/3 cup honey

Put cranberries and pluot sauce in a large pot.  Add a little water to get things started.  Heat over medium heat until pluot sauce is fully incorporated and berries start to pop.  Cook, stirring, about 10 to 15 minutes more until sauce thickens and most of the berries have burst.  Stir in honey.

Makes about 8 servings.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Box the Second

Two winter squashes, two Chinese cabbages, two bunches of carrots!  Chili peppers and oregano, spinach and braising greens, a bunch of beets and turnips.  And a really happy CSA customer in a pear tree!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Lemon and Cumin Slaw

This is a light, lemony, crunchy slaw that goes together quickly and compliments any meat (pulled pork comes to mind!) or sturdier casseroles, such as enchiladas and mac and cheese.  It's also great alongside robust, winter soups such as chilis and chowders.

I'm always drawn to recipes with a minimum of ingredients, especially when they combine so beautifully like this, where the flavor of each ingredient is equally showcased.
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LEMON AND CUMIN SLAW
From the British Country Living magazine

This slaw keeps very, very well, and develops a deeper flavor over time.  But it's amazing freshly made, too.  I once tried adding some olive oil, but it only detracted from the fine, tangy crispness of the slaw.  

1/2 a medium-sized green cabbage, thinly sliced into shreds
1 organic lemon
1 tablespoon cumin seed (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon salt

Grate the lemon's peel into a large bowl using a Microplane or other fine grater.  Juice the lemon, adding the juice to the bowl with the peel.  Add the salt.

In a small skillet, toast the cumin seed 'til it begins to brown and becomes fragrant.  Transfer to a mortar and pestle, and grind roughly, then transfer to the bowl with the lemon juice and peel.

Whisk dressing, then toss in the cabbage and mix all together well.

Makes about 6 servings.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Party Mix, Remixed

Who doesn't remember the moment they learned how to pronounce "Worcestershire?" Every year around Christmas or New Year's when I was a kid, we'd make a batch of Chex party mix, baking it in the bottoms of our oven broiler trays, and faithfully stirring it every 15 minutes for an hour.  The salty-sour-crunchy effect was unique back in the day, and you had to make it.  Today, you can buy preservative- and color-laden bags of the stuff.  No thanks!  Herewith, my redux version.

"Redux" actually means "brought back" or "restored."  In this case, I'm bringing back the memorable taste but none of the preservatives that, alas, Chex brand cereals contain.  To complete the feel-good theme I used organic butter and a bunch of other cool things.

I don't keep onion powder (!) or that item the Chex people call "seasoned salt" on hand, and my garlic powder is rather ancient, so a little creativity was called for.  You can use your creativity, too.  But this recipe will get you started.
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PARTY MIX, REMIXED
Adapted from the Chex Original Recipe

Yes, you should double this.  It makes a lot, but you can give it away or even freeze it and surprise yourself later!  Plus, it has a tendency to vanish.  If you're a pretzel fan, substitute those in for some of the dry ingredients.

9 cups total of square, chex-ish cereals  (I used Health Valley Crunch-Ems and Cascadian Farms Multigrain squares from our local health food store)
1/2 cup dry roasted almonds
1/2 cup dry roasted cashews
1/2 cup Alexia onion strips, broken up a bit
1/2 cup Annie's cheddar bunnies

4 tablespoons organic butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Heat oven to 250 degrees.  In a large roasting pan, combine the cereals, nuts, onion strips and cheddar bunnies.  

In small saucepan, melt the butter.  Stir in the olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, salt and spices.  Mix well.  Drizzle over the dry ingredients, tossing well until combined. 

Bake for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.  Cool thoroughly before storing.

RELATED REDUX POST:  Tater Tot Casserole, Remixed

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Cabernet Sauvignon Roasted Potatoes

The subtlest hint of fresh Cabernet Sauvignon grape flavor from the oil lifts these local spuds into the realm of nearly ethereal.  

Snowy roads have kept me closer to home than usual lately, but I discovered some local organic Russets, purchased from my CSA farmer's stand at the Richland Farmers' Market, lolling around in my produce drawer. (Yes, Jeanne, that would be the "Humi-drawer," for those of us who remember the glory days of the Frigidaires!)

A light massage with grapeseed oil, a dusting of salt, pepper and thyme (rescued just before the single-digit temperatures blackened the herb garden), and these taters are ready to go.
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CABERNET SAUVIGNON ROASTED POTATOES

Glorious amounts of creativity can be applied to this recipe ... different flavored oils, different herbs, even different kinds of potatoes.  

4 local organic Russet spuds, peeled and quartered lengthwise
1 tablespoon Apres Vin Cabernet Sauvignon (or other flavor) grapeseed oil
Salt
Pepper
Thyme

Rub olive oil all over quartered potatoes.  Arrange on Silpat-lined baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme.  Roast at 400 degrees for 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

First Winter CSA Box!


The boxes are here!  Woo hoo!  Imagine having a box of fresh, locally-grown vegetables, all winter, every two weeks 'til April.  No, you're not dreaming!  It can happen!  

This first box contained winter squash, Chinese cabbage, chard, cranberries (from Western Washington), turnips, beets, carrots and sage.  The cranberries made a luscious sauce for Thanksgiving, and the carrots are wonderfully sweet.  The cabbage went into Thanksgiving dinner slaw.  I cooked the beet and turnip greens for dinner on dropoff day. And somehow missed getting the chard and cranberries in the photo.  I seem to recall flinging produce here and there in my delight.

This is my second winter CSA year, and my blog was created to document my first year's experience. We're off and running again!


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Secret Ingredients 101: Local Grapeseed Oil

While dining at a wondrous little cafe/wine bar in Prosser, Wine o'Clock, I noticed that their salads tasted lush and deep, despite having the mildest of dressings.  The other dishes we ordered also had this strange and wonderful presence, a sort of essence of themselves, unencumbered by strong flavors.  

I decided the secret must be grapeseed oil.  It had to be something that I obviously wasn't using at home!  Then I remembered that there were two bottles of Apres Vin oil tucked into my fridge door--Roasted Garlic Chardonnay and Cabernet--that I had purchased at last year's Richland Farmers' Market and had forgotten about.  Since my discovery, I've been using my Apres Vin grapeseed oils for salad dressing and roasting.  It works beautifully. 

For salads, tossing simple greens with plain Cabernet grapeseed oil imparts a subtle wine flavor and actually brings out the flavor of the greens.  You don't need vinegar.  You don't need garlic.  You don't even need salt.  Yes, it has taken me this long to realize that good salad greens actually have flavor to bring out!  This oil is very light ... you only need a little.

The Roasted Garlic Chardonnay oil has the subtlest hint of wine and garlic flavor, excellent for most anything you'd use olive oil for, even dipping bread.

Apres Vin makes several flavors of grapeseed oil.  Take a look at these flavors and combinations Apres Vin offers.  Their site also describes the nutritional value of grapeseed oil. It's not cheap, but you can use it sparingly.  A great addition to any kitchen where fresh, local foods are prepared!  And Apres Vin itself is local ... they're located in Prosser.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

To the Women of Thanksgiving, with Love

We cut and crumble, chop and knead,
Make endless lists, and cookbooks read,
Shop and haul, cash and carry,
Roll the dough, sort cranberries.
Scrub and toss and smooth and shake
All your holiday to make.


We traverse rural hill and dale
To the blood-spattered farmer, who on his scale
Does our free-range turkeys weigh.
We stand shivering there on butchering day,
And wonder why we truss and bake
All your holiday to make.


Yes, we will eat.  And we will pray.
And thankfully partake on the great day.
When all are served and sated, each one,
And we've cleaned it up, the dishes done,
A well-earned rest we'd like to take.
But no.  There's the next meal to make.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Shepherd's Pie with Yams and Curry

A cultural crossover here ... not your typical English version of the Shepherd's Pie, but an exotic cousin.  Warm, spicy, savory and sweet.  A brilliant one-dish meal that is hearty and happily filling. 
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SHEPHERD'S PIE WITH YAMS AND CURRY
Adapted from The Organic Foodie

I had a few mushrooms that needed to be used up and added them to the meat mixture.  They really rounded the dish out nicely.  I considered using ground lamb, but am glad I didn't.  The beef's milder flavor really lets the spicy ginger and curry flavors dominate.

2 large yams, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 teaspoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup unsweetened fine-shred coconut

2 teaspoons coconut oil
1 pound lean ground beef (I used Thundering Hooves)
1 yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon curry powder
1-inch piece of ginger, minced
2 large garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup raisins (optional; I didn't use them)
1 packed cup of chopped spinach (didn't have this so used 1/3 cup cilantro - very good!)
1/4 cup almonds, finely chopped
two pinches ground cardamom
one pinch salt

Cook yams in a pot of boiling water until soft.  Mash until smooth.  Stir in until well blended the coconut oil, cinnamon, salt and coconut.

Mix almonds with cardamom and pinch of salt.  Small food processor works great for this.

In medium skillet, heat coconut oil.  Add onion and cook until onions begin to soften.  Sprinkle curry powder over onions and cook, stirring, for a minute.   Add ground beef and continue cooking until beef is thoroughly cooked.  Add ginger, garlic, spinach or cilantro, and (if using) raisins.

Place meat mixture in 10-inch Pyrex pie dish or other similar dish.  Spread yam mixture over top, and sprinkle with almond mixture.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes until heated through and almonds are a bit toasted.    Let sit for a few minutes after removing from oven.

Makes 4 hearty servings or 6 smaller ones.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Roasted Delicata Squash with Leeks, Apple, and Fresh Herbs

"Delicata" may sound sissy, and in fact I believe its name derives from the fact that it doesn't keep as well as other squashes.  But it's a hearty squash, unafraid to step up to the plate and challenge the big boys, like butternut, in both flavor and texture.  The maple syrup really provides the perfect link for all these flavors to meld succulently.
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DELICATA SQUASH WITH LEEKS, APPLE AND HERBS

1 Delicata squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch C shapes
2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, cut in 1/4-inch slices
1 apple, peeled, cored, and cut into wedges

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Fresh chopped sage
Fresh thyme

In large bowl, combine the olive oil, maple syrup, salt, pepper, sage and thyme.  Toss the squash, leeks and apple in this mixture, and spread them onto a Silpat-lined baking sheet.  Roast at 375 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until squash and apples are tender and leeks are soft.  Stir mixture once or twice during cooking.

Makes 4 servings

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Leek and Portobello Frittata with Thyme and Oregonzola

Leeks have become a real favorite of mine, and were frequently available at the farmer's markets this summer.  The other night, I realized that my garden thyme was still producing, there was a hunk of Oregonzola cheese in the fridge, and I had two local leeks and a portobello mushroom.  The planets aligned, and this dish was born.  A classic combination of great savory flavors.
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 LEEK AND PORTOBELLO FRITTATA WITH THYME AND OREGONZOLA

2 tablespoons butter
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced thinly
1 big 'ol portobello mushroom, stem removed and cut in 1/4-inch slices

1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried

6 to 8 local, free-range eggs, beaten
Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon crumbled Oregonzola cheese

In frittata pan or medium-sized ovenproof skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.  Saute the leeks just until they become somewhat soft.  Add the mushroom slices, and carefully saute for a few minutes or until the mushrooms have become somewhat soft.  Push the leeks around to cover the bottom of the skillet, and bring the mushroom slices to the top.  You can arrange them in a starburst design if you wish.  Scatter a little salt and pepper over all, then carefully pour on the eggs to fill the pan.  Lift up the mushrooms if any become covered with eggs.  Scatter garlic and thyme leaves over all.  Continue cooking on stovetop for a couple of minutes or until eggs begin to set.

Place pan in oven and bake for 5 to 10 minutes or until eggs are just set.  Watch carefully; you don't want the frittata to be too dry.

Remove from oven, wrap potholders around handles so no one gets burned, and scatter the cheese across the top.  Cut with spatula into wedges.  Serve hot.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Year of Blogging Local

Today my humble blog celebrates its first birthday.

You, dear reader, have really made my blogging year a true pleasure.  You have shared recipes, given advice, actually made some of my recipes (this one was the most popular), and some even showed up at my house for a class.  You have commented.  You have endured my bad photographs.   You have happily accepted containers of leftover blogged dishes, and in some cases sat down at the initial taste testings.   You have been unflinchingly honest.  You have come into my kitchen and cooked with me

One cannot cook with local foods without ... local foods.  I am constantly thankful for our many local farmers' markets, growers and producers, and especially for the indispensable gift of our local Winter CSA, happening again this winter.

This recipe was in the works last winter when we lost my Dad.  The comfort of robust, home-cooked food at a time like that cannot be overstated.  I am thankful for my family and friends, and give special accolades to my mom, whose influence on my life with food has for years nourished not only my love of the fresh and local bounty around us, but my creativity and spirit of fun in cooking and trying new things.

Thank you, every one.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Save the Pickled Beets!

Sometimes, but not so much lately, I worry about foods disappearing.  I know, some foods should disappear, like fried liver and doorstop fruitcakes.  But you know what I mean:  You're savoring a lovely slice of spicy pickled beet and suddenly, without warning, you think, "What if people stopped eating beets?  And farmers stopped growing beets?  And there would be no more pickled beets!"

I'm not saying everyone has episodes of food paranoia like me, but in case the whole worrying-about-food-disappearing thing is due to the cosmic resonance of some underlying potential universal truth, now and again I like to make, and enjoy, pickled beets. And if you do it, too, maybe we'll keep pickled beets alive!
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PICKLED BEETS

This recipe is easily increased for more beets, and all the ingredients can be played around with according to your taste.  Makes about a quart.  If you put striped or golden beets in with red ones, the whole mixture will be more or less red!

About 6 medium-sized beets, or 12 smaller ones, either red, gold, striped, or a mix
2/3 cup cider vinegar
1 or 2 tablespoons agave nectar or organic sugar (I sometimes use apple juice concentrate)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon horseradish
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
A few grinds of black pepper

Wash the beets and either trim the stalks off or leave an inch or so on.  Lay beets on an aluminum foil-covered pan and roast at 350 degrees for an hour or so.  If beets are varying sizes, some may need to be removed before others are done.  Beets should be tender when pierced with a knife.

Alternatively, wrap the beets in aluminum foil and roast for the same amount of time.

Alternatively again, boil the beets in a big kettle of water until they are tender when pierced with a knife.  This is the method I use most often, because the beets peel more easily than they do when roasted.

Cool the beets, and trim off the stems and root ends and any weird spots.  Rub the peelings off (a paper towel works nicely for this) and cut the beets into your preferred shapes ... slices, dices, you call it.  Toss them into a quart jar.  You can have the vinegar and spice mixture already in the jar, or you can toss it in on top of the beets and shake gently.  Store in fridge, turning and tossing jar gently now and then to keep the beets coated in the pickly mixture.  They'll be pickled in about a week. Enjoy without fear.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Beet and Saffron Rice Timbale with Spinach and Leeks

Ms. Eating the Scenery is smitten.  She stumbled across this chef who, apparently, has been cooking in England for some time without Ms. Eating the Scenery's knowledge.  What a funny name he has!  And how creative are his culinary combinations!  Quinoa and fennel salad with mint, coriander and dill!  Lentils, radiccho and walnuts with manuka honey! 

Ms. Eating the Scenery is the devoted slave of anyone who can find new and tasty, nay, soaringly scrumptious dishes using vegetables, herbs, grains, nuts, legumes in simple yet magical ways! 

Even Ottolenghi's recipes, however, are but a starting point.  Inspiring, but endlessly revisable.  Which of course all truly great recipes are.  Ms. Eating the Scenery's addition of leeks to the sauteed spinach, she thinks, elevated this dish to truly splendid.  Her sidestepping of several of the more fussy steps resulted in a different looking dish than Ottolenghi's, but it satisfied on every level of taste.

Next time, Ms. Eating the Scenery will consider assembling this dish in a glass casserole in reverse order, so that it looks neat and contained, showing off its colorful layers.  
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BEET AND SAFFRON RICE TIMBALE
WITH SPINACH AND LEEKS
Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi

3/4 teaspoon saffron threads
1/4 cup boiling water

3 medium beets (but roast a few more while you're at it, for pickled beets)
2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and pepper

2 cups basmati rice
1 teaspoon salt
Grated peel of one lemon
Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons butter
1 or 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
8 to 10 ounces spinach, washed and spun (thick stems removed)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper

Pour the boiling water over the saffron in a small cup or bowl.  Leave to infuse.

Wash the beets and either trim the stalks off or leave an inch or so on.  Lay beets in a Pyrex baking dish, add a quarter inch or so of water, cover the dish with foil, and roast the beets at 350 degrees for an hour or so.  If beets are varying sizes, some may need to be removed before others are done.  Beets should be tender when pierced with a knife.

Alternatively, wrap the beets in aluminum foil and roast for the same amount of time.

Cool the beets, rub the peelings off (a paper towel works nicely for this) and dice them in 1/2-inch-or-so sized chunks.  In a bowl, toss the diced beets with the olive oil, salt and pepper.

Rinse the basmati rice 'til the water runs clear.  Cook according to package directions, adding the 1 teaspoon salt, until rice is fluffy and liquid is gone.  Stir in the lemon peel and pepper.

In medium or large-ish skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.  Saute the leeks until they begin to soften.  Add the spinach, and continue to cook until spinach is comfortably wilted.  Sprinkle chopped garlic over, and salt and pepper to taste, and stir. Cook just a few minutes more, then remove from heat.

For timbale, butter a 3-quart round or oval dish well.  Lay the beets in the bottom.  Cover with half the rice, pressing down firmly.  Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of saffon water over rice.  Layer the spinch on next, followed by the remaining rice.  Press it down firmly.  Sprinkle remaining saffron water over rice.

Quickly and carefully unmold the timbale onto a serving platter.  Alternatively, layer everything in reverse order, ending up with beets on top, and serve like a casserole.

Makes 6 servings

Thursday, October 28, 2010

But can you hug a Korean eGrandmother?

A few weeks ago I noticed a little ad in the local paper for a "Korean Food Festival."  Well, hey!  It was held at a Korean church on Gage Boulevard in Richland.  They had marinated meats and vegetables ready to grill, fried Korean pancakes, and various other Korean foods for sale, including big jars of homemade kimchi, which I love.

I bought a jar of kimchi, and asked the Korean lady selling it if she could give me a good traditional recipe for kimchi.  I was thinking, maybe her great-grandmother's traditional secret recipe .. you know.  But it was not to be.

"Oh, just Google it," she said.  "There are lots of recipes for it online." 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Cabbage Soup with Sausage and White Wine

Two things captivated me when I spotted this recipe years ago.  It called for two cups of white wine, which I felt sure would elevate a simple cabbage soup well beyond being brothily boring, and the cooking instructions said to cook "until the cabbage is redolent and tender."  I cannot resist words like "redolent."

A truly easy yet extraordinarily savory and memorable fall and winter soup.
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CABBAGE SOUP WITH WHITE WINE AND SAUSAGE
Adapted from The Kitchen Garden Cookbook by Sylvia Thompson

The original recipe was a stew, and used only one cup of chicken broth.  My other additions are the red bell pepper, crushed red pepper, and smoked paprika. The recipe also states that "a Czech or Pole would also season the stew with a good pinch of caraway seeds." Though not of either of those persuasions, I do grind some caraway seed a tad with mortar and pestle and sprinkle atop the soup when serving.

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 large or 8 small carrots, diced
1 large red onion, diced
2 tomatoes, diced, or 1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme (I usually add quite a bit more thyme)
6 cloves garlic, chopped

1 small head green cabbage, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 pound sausages, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, or larger if you prefer
2 cups dry white wine
2 cups good chicken broth
1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
Freshly ground black pepper

Boiled potatoes and sour cream or yogurt for serving


Heat olive oil in large soup pot.  Add carrots and onions and saute for several minutes.  Add tomatoes, thyme and garlic, and heat through.

Pile the cabbage on top of the vegetables, and scatter the sausage atop the cabbage.  Pour wine and broth over, and sprinkle with the paprika.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes, stirring the mixture all together at 20 minutes.  When the cabbage is "redolent and tender," add pepper, taste for salt (I usually add about 1/2 teaspoon), and serve over boiled potatoes.  Top with sour cream or yogurt if you wish.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Roasted Tomato Soup with Goat Cheese

When looking at a heap of fresh tomatoes ripening rapidly on one's kitchen counter, one tends to think of sweeping, efficient yet delicious ways to capture their fresh taste and make the heap smaller without too much effort.  Soups and sauces are the usual options, and for good reason.  They're scrumptious.

Once I got going with the whole quartering-the-tomatoes process for this recipe, I looked over and saw the pluots and plums lying there, and decided to roast a plum with the toms instead of adding the tablespoon of honey called for. 

And I don't mess around trying to pour hot soup into a blender ... I use an immersion blender that I discovered my husband had, after we married.  "I'll never use that," I thought.  Ha!  I use it all the time.
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ROASTED TOMATO SOUP WITH GOAT CHEESE
From Lucid Food by Louisa Shafia

Make sure you have enough liquid (about 3 inches or so, or enough to fully cover the head of the blender) before you start the immersion blender.  If the liquid is too shallow, the blender will fling it around your kitchen.

12 ripe tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon honey (or roast a pitted plum or pluot with the toms)
2 springs fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, plus more for garnish
4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup fresh goat cheese

Heat oven to 425 degrees F.

Core and quarter tomatoes, and remove and reserve the seeds for the stock.  In a large bowl, toss the tomatoes with the garlic, onion, honey (if using) or pitted, halved plum, rosemary, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, and a dash of salt.  Spread the mixture on a baking sheet and roast for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove the rosemary .

Combine the tomato seeds, bay leaf, and 1 cup water in a pot and bring to a boil over high heat.  Lower heat and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.  Strain the stock into a bowl.  Rinse the pot and return the stock to it, and add the roasted tomatoes.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower heat and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Turn heat off and let soup cool a tiny bit.  Add goat cheese and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and blend 'til smooth with an immersion blender.  Or pour the soup carefully into a blender or food processor and blend 'til smooth.  Season to taste with salt, and reheat a bit if necessary.

Garnish each bowl with a few drops of balsamic vinegar, a few grinds of black pepper, and perhaps a little rosemary if you wish.

Makes 4 servings.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Butternut Squash, White Bean and Kale Ragout

The farmers' markets are bursting with squashes and greens right now.  Who am I to resist them?  It's fall, after all, even if our warm temperatures belie the fact.

For sheer fall robustness and mellow flavor, this ragout fills the bill beautifully.  Both dinner guests immediately responded postively when I offered to send some of  it home with them.  And later I added chicken broth to my leftover portion to make soup with a marvelously maple-y and squash-y depth of flavor.  A delicious and versatile dish.
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BUTTERNUT SQUASH, WHITE BEAN AND KALE RAGOUT
From the New York Times, 11/14/07


1 3-pound sugar pumpkin or butternut squash
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2-1/2 teaspoons cider vinear
1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 large leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned and chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (or 3 cups cooked white beans)
2 cups vegetable broth

3/4 pound kale, ribs removed, leaves thinly sliced (about 6 cups)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, or more to taste
1/3 cup dried cranberries
Coarse sea salt

In small saucepan, stir together 2 over medium heat 2 tablespoons butter, maple syrup, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, and pinch cayenne. Pour into large bowl.

Peel butternut squash, remove seeds, and cut flesh into 1-inch cubes. Toss cubes in maple syrup mixture 'til coated.  Spread squash cubes on a large, rimmed baking sheet.  Roast, turning occasionally, until squash is tender when poked and a bit caramelized at the edges, about 30 minutes.

In large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil, and add leeks, garlic rosemary and a large pinch of salt.  Cook, sitrring occasionally, until leeks are very soft but not browned, about 15 minutes.  Add beans and broth and simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir kale and cheese (if using) into leek mixture, and simmer until kale is cooked down and very tender, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the roasted squash cubes and cranberries.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Garnish with additional cranberries if desired.

Serves 6 to 8

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Butternut Squash Advice, and My Dad

Nobody raised deeply flavored butternut squashes like my Dad.  We lost Dad last winter, and we miss him every day.  Naturally we are discovering with each season more of the quiet legacies he left that we grew to expect ... tulips and daffodils in spring, scrumptious tomatoes, peppers and raspberries in summer, and those glorious butternuts each fall.  He raised Concord grapes for Welch Foods for 40 years, and this year when that sweet, grape-y fragrance began to float about on hot fall days, it was especially poignant to realize that he wouldn't be here for the harvest.

While Dad didn't want much to do with computers or the internet, I think he would have approved of my giving you all advice on how to get the most out of your butternut squashes. 

Nothing tastes quite like an excellent butternut squash.  Mellow and smooth, it reminds us of summer's warmth and warns us of autumn's chill.

But how to get AT the dang things!  Butternut squashes can be exasperatingly inaccessible, what with their hard shells and the fact that most of us don't keep axes in our kitchens, much less a handy wood-splitting stump out back.

No matter. I have found that microwaving butternut squashes for 10 minutes or so softens the skin and allows you to peel it off, leaving an accessible squash that can now be cut into slices or cubes for your favorite recipes.

Just cut the ends off the squash (I'm not sure why I do this) and, with a knife, poke some holes into the seed cavity.  I think that helps avoid explosions?  Not sure.  But why not do it anyway! 

Now, position the squash on its side in a microwave, and cook for 5 to 10 minutes.  Total time will depend on your squash and your microwave.  Check after 5 minutes.  The skin should start to turn a bit gray, and begin to pucker a little.  The skin should remove easily when the right amount of cooking time has been reached.  

You will need to let the squash cool a bit before continuing with the peel job.  I've found that standing the squash upright and peeling downwards works best.  DO NOT cut upward toward the hand that is steadying the squash.  I hope I don't need to tell you why.

Be sure to remove the peeling down to the bright-orange squash flesh, and to trim off all the little green lines running vertically.

After peeling the squash, cut it in half lengthwise.  A serrated ice-cream scoop works wonderfully to get all the seeds and strings out.

You can now cut the squash into chunks, dice, slices --- whatever your recipe calls for.  The squash pieces can be used immediately or frozen.

Just don't waste any, y'hear?  It isn't easy to grow a good butternut!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Wedding Applesauce with Granny Smiths and Metaphor


This week my stepdaughter was married.  Naturally, the newlyweds have been on our minds a lot.  Today as I was making applesauce of delicious, local, organic Granny Smith apples, I was reminded that Grannies are my stepdaughter's favorite apples.  I noticed that the knob of ginger I peeled looked like a little bluebird of happiness.


As I peeled and sliced, simmered and spiced, I knew this applesauce was taking on a special meaning, like every good marriage does. And that a little metaphor might be in order, considering this new marriage in our family.

Granny Smiths can soak up a lot of water, so you have to keep checking in to see if you should add some. 

Tangy by nature, Grannies need a little sweetening, but not too much.  The sauce is better with a little texture, rather than blended boringly smooth.  I added fresh grated ginger for warmth, and cinnamon for a little spice. Applesauce can be soothing to come home to after a rough day, especially if it's made with love.

 This post's for you, kids.  May your trip through life together be warm and sweet.
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WEDDING APPLESAUCE

About 9 good-sized Granny Smith apples
A knob of ginger
A tablespoon or so of cinnamon
Honey or agave nectar, to taste

Peel, core and slice the apples into a large pot.  Peel the ginger and grate it over the apples.  Add about half an inch of water to the pot.  Simmer, stirring frequently, as apples begin to cook.  Add more water if necessary.  Cook until desired texture is achieved.  Remove from heat and stir in cinnamon and sweetening, if desired.  Share with someone you love.

Makes about 8 cups

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Chili Peppers: Crushed Red

Having years ago learned that the flavor of fresh-dried or fresh-ground spices is leagues better than the barely-there flavor of those little expensive cans of dust you find in the supermarket, I don't buy any herbs or spices dried or ground unless I'm having a pantry emergency.

Crushed red pepper is no exception.  While you will get heat from store-bought crushed red, you will not get the depth of flavor that comes from drying your own local peppers each autumn.  And have you SEEN the glorious selection of peppers at the Farmers' Markets?  Ask for the hottest ones, rinse and wipe dry, spread them out on an airy surface like a cooling rack, and go do something else for a few weeks.

If you get impatient, you can cut the stem top off and slice the peppers in half.  They will dry faster this way, but they won't look as scenic, and they'll take up more room.  I've found that if you make a wreath or swatch of the peppers, the air doesn't circulate as well and some of the peppers may mold.  If you find that any of the peppers you are drying turn black, discard them.

When peppers are dry (you can hear the seeds rattling when you shake the pepper), remove the stem tops and let the peppers dry again for a few days just to make sure they are really dry.  Now make your heat decision. Much of the heat in hot peppers is in the seeds.  If you want maximum heat, leave all the seeds in.  To tone things down a bit, discard some of the seeds.  But if you have read this far and like spicy food, you will scoff at that instruction.

Toss the dry peppers into a food processor and pulse until you get particles of a size that is pleasing to you.  Should you want smaller particles than the food processor will produce, grind a few tablespoons of the flakes at a time in a coffee grinder (that you reserve for grinding spices) 'til the sizes please you.

Store in a covered jar and use carefully.  It doesn't take long to make your soup or sauce inedibly hot; I usually start with 1/8 teaspoon of seeds to, say, your average eight-cup batch of soup.  The longer the peppers cook in anything, the hotter the dish will be.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pure Eire, Again

It seems impossible for me to stop blathering about how incredibly delicious Pure Eire cream is. It makes amazing butter. And I served it, whipped, atop a plum tart. You simply cannot believe the sumptuous texture and deep, buttery flavor of this whipped cream! And two days later, the whipped cream left over hadn't even begun to separate.

I buy it at Richland or Kennewick Health Food Stores, in the dairy section. As of this writing, Wednesday is the usual fresh delivery day.

Let's face it, if you're going to have cream now and then, it might as well be ethereal, no?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Chilis Rellenos Americanos


I have always loved chilis rellenos. Authentic recipes call for dipping the whole cheese-stuffed poblano pepper into egg batter and deep frying it. The stem end is left on for a very rustic experience.

Over the years I reserved chilis rellenos for special occasions when eating out, and never made them at home. Then, about six years ago, I decided to come up with my own recipe, one that would satisfy but be less greasy. I've made it many times, always in the summer when the poblano peppers start appearing at the farmers' markets.

The dish is wonderfully warm, smoky, chile-y, eggy and satisfying. It would make a great breakfast casserole, but I usually serve it with cornbread and coleslaw for dinner.

Be warned that roasting peppers indoors WILL set off your smoke alarms. At the Richland Farmers' Market, there's a vendor who will roast your peppers over a gas flame while you wait. It doesn't take long, but you'll want to get right home and refrigerate the roasted peppers 'til you're ready to use them.
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CHILIS RELLENOS AMERICANOS

Smoky chipotle salsa is simply a can of chipotle peppers "en adobo" (sauce), which you puree and store in the fridge. This little jar of smoky heat will come in handy for a lot of dishes.

6 or 8 poblano peppers (you may see these incorrectly called "pasilla" peppers)
16 ounces or so grated jack, pepper jack, cheddar, or a mixture of cheeses you like (smoked gouda gives the finished dish a more smoky flavor)

8 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Sliced green onions if you have them
Smoky chipotle salsa, about 1 tablespoon

Wash the peppers and cut the stems off. Reach down into the center and remove the seeds. If using a pepper roaster over a gas flame, turn on your exhaust fan. Arrange about three peppers at a time over the flame so they get maximum exposure. As skins start to pop and char, turn to expose all sides and, when peppers are charred evenly, toss them into a bowl lined with a paper towel, and cover them immediately. Roast remaining peppers and let them cool gradually in the covered bowl for 15 to 20 minutes.

Alternatively, arrange peppers on oven rack and turn oven to 500 degrees. Turn on exhaust fan. Roast peppers 'til skins start to pop and char; turn if necessary. Continue with step calling for putting them in a paper-towel-lined bowl and covering them. You can also place them in a brown paper bag, rolling the top down closed.

Rub the peppers to remove the black char as much as possible. Lay them out on your work surface.

Beat eggs with milk, salt and crushed red pepper until very well blended.

Set aside some of the grated cheese to sprinkle on the top of the dish. Form remaining grated cheese into fists, as many as you have peppers. Gently open the peppers and put the cheese into the cavity. Arrange peppers in a casserole, and pour the egg mixture over. Scatter sliced green onions on top.

Bake casserole at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, then lower heat to 350 degrees and bake for 20 minutes, or until knife inserted into egg mixture comes out clean.

Drizzle smoky chipotle salsa over the top, then brush it around to coat top of casserole. Sprinkle reserved cheese atop, and serve.

Makes 6 to 8 servings, depending on how many peppers you used.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Eggplant and Potato Gratin


A total departure from cheesy gratins, this dairy-free recipe is one of those serendipitous discoveries that I can't imagine not having found. I make it every year about this time when all the fresh vegetables in it start showing up at the farmers' markets. Everything in this dish except the olive oil, salt and pepper was locally grown.

This gratin truly illustrates the rich depth and mingling of flavors achievable with a simple preparation and ingredients that compliment each other. Be sure to use a really good olive oil.
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EGGPLANT AND POTATO GRATIN
From The Vegetarian Bistro by Marlena Spieler

If time is short or you are using potatoes that take longer to cook, like Yukon Golds, you can microwave the casserole for about 15 minutes to get it heated up, then put it in the oven to finish.

1 onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded, deribbed and cut into strips
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed

1 cup drained, diced tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, minced
Several large pinches of dried thyme (be generous here)

1 eggplant, stem end trimmed, sliced lengthwise 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick
2-1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Using 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, saute the onion and red pepper in a medium skillet 'til softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, two thirds of the garlic, salt to taste, and the thyme. Cook briefly and set aside.

Brush or rub eggplant slices with olive oil on both sides, and cook them on a griddle until lightly browned on both sides. Alternatively, broil the slices under the broiler. I suspect you could get away with not pre-grilling the eggplant slices, but I haven't tried it.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil a 3- or 4-quart casserole dish. Place one third of the potatoes in a layer on the bottom, and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Layer on half the eggplant, another third of the potatoes, and the remaining eggplant.

Spread the tomato mixture over the eggplant, then toss the remaining potatoes in a bowl with the remaining garlic and olive oil, and spread them over the eggplant.

Sprinkle the final potato layer with salt and pepper, and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Bake for 1 hour or until the top is golden and the potatoes are cooked through. Cover with foil if top gets too brown before potatoes are done. Test by inserting a paring knife down through the center of the gratin; it should meet little resistance. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Gyros!

Yes! You can make delicious gyros meat that goes wonderfully with the tomatoes, cucumbers and onions of the season. I had seen this recipe, and the tzatziki recipe that goes with it, some time ago, and finally decided to try it.

Local lamb and beef are, happily, quite available at our farmers' markets. You can also order from Thundering Hooves in Walla Walla, and they'll bring the order to a drop point in the Tri-Cities.

Honestly, this gyros meat is actually fun to make, is wonderfully delicious, and while it's baking will make your kitchen smell like a Greek restaurant!
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GYROS
Gyros and tzatziki recipes adapted from Velveeta Ain't Food

1 pound ground lamb
1 pound ground beef
2-1/2 teaspoons kosher (coarse) salt
1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 large yellow onion
2 large cloves garlic
4 slices bacon

Combine lamb, beef, salt and oregano with your hands. Wrap or cover and chill for at least 2 hours. This is important!

Line a small broiler tray with foil, poking holes in the foil so the fat will have a place to drain.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a food processor, pulse the onion, garlic and bacon until pureed. Add the lamb/beef mixture and puree, scraping down sides as needed, until you have a smooth paste. Yes, it is not going to be attractive!

Gather meat into a rough loaf shape with you hands and place it on the foil-lined broiler tray. Shape it into a loaf that is about 2 inches thick; this will result in a loaf length of about 9 inches and width of 5 inches or so.

Place meat on middle rack of preheated oven and bake for about 1 hour or until it has an internal temperature of 155 degrees. Let loaf cool. I refrigerated mine and sliced it after it had chilled; this probably made it easier to slice.

Cut chilled loaf into 1/4-inch slices. Broil slices about six inches from broiler for about 4 minutes per side, or until meat is becoming crispy and browned.

Serve with tzatziki (below), and diced, fresh tomatoes, onion and cucumber. If you'd like a traditional gyros sandwich, you can make a thick flatbread (not pita bread) such as naan, and enfold your gyros meat and condiments in a bready enclosure. I served tabouli salad and decided not to use bread, and we didn't miss it.

Makes 28 1/4-inch slices, about six servings

TZATZIKI

3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 medium clove garlic, pressed or finely chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped (or mint)

Mix all ingredients and refrigerate until ready to serve.