Monthly Archives: July 2010

Salty and sweet

Sometimes you find a song that is just right. It hits all the right chords, pulls all the right heartstrings. You feel sentimental and optimistic when you hear it, like it reminds you of something lost, but promises something found. Isn’t food the same way, too?

The smells, sights, sounds and tastes of food bring us to a moment in time. You could be creating that moment for the first time, or reliving it each time you take a bite.

Fran‘s caramels are the most perfect candy in the world. I normally don’t care for caramel (not wrapped around apples, not inside a Snickers, not packaged in a plastic square), but this is not a normal caramel. Buttery and just chewy enough without sticking to your teeth, it is covered in thick chocolate and then sprinkled with smoked salt or their award-winning gray salt. Just divine. Made in Seattle, it reminds me of that salty city with sweet memories.

No matter whom I share my life with, they will always know that Fran’s must be a part of every holiday, birthday and in between. A girl can’t compromise – it’s my special moment in time.

Garlic scapes!

Garlic scapes, straight from the garden

Whoever thought it was a good idea to try and eat those curly green tendrils that grow atop garlic bulbs deserves an award. Sauteed in a little butter, these light garlicky bites are like an improved chive. A mix between a spring onion and garlic – without the hot garlic bite, but with all the flavor.

As I remarked to my roommate, they taste the way garlic smells, if that makes sense. She replied that that is why they are great in eggs: “Nobody wants garlic breath first thing in the morning.” Well put.

Mom gave me a whole big bag of garlic scapes when I visited her in the NW. I’m not one of those people who buys these at the farmers’ market, because I actually haven’t seen them at the farmers’ market. Plus, I wouldn’t have known how to use them. Now I know.

Use garlic scapes anywhere you would use garlic. In eggs, in soups, in pastas and, of course, in pesto (recipe to come). I used them recently in a simple egg scramble with sundried tomatoes and feta cheese. It was simple and surprisingly wonderful in texture and flavor. The scapes don’t break down like a green onion, so expect a nice bite, but a delicate flavor.

Eggs with garlic scapes, sun-dried tomatoes and feta

(serves 1 – but multiply as you wish!)

Ingredients:

  • 9 garlic scapes, buds trimmed, coarsely minced
  • 2 T sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
  • 2 T feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 eggs, beaten with 2 T cream and S&P to taste

Heat medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 T butter. When melted and foaming, add garlic scapes and saute 7-10 min., or until softened. Add tomatoes and saute another minute. Add eggs and reduce heat to low. Scramble eggs until almost done but still wet. Add feta and stir until eggs are done as you like them.

Serve and enjoy, friends! xoxo

Rhubarb Galette

Guess who’s back on rhubarb?

It’s true – memories of my depressing rhubarb challenge are forgotten as I visited the promised land of rhubarb: The Inland Northwest. It grows in almost everybody’s yard, so I couldn’t help myself. I pillaged a friend’s garden, where she had a third-generation rhubarb plant thriving in a cool, shady patch of earth. I picked more than enough for my rhubarb galette, which means took some on the plane with me…

For all my Southern friends who give me blank stares when I say “rhubarb,” here is what it looks like, once the big leaves are trimmed off (see? red celery):

I made this dessert from Bon Appetit a few months ago, and then lost the recipe. Martha to the rescue, of course. I love how she includes cinnamon and fresh nutmeg – I’ve never had those spices with rhubarb and it worked quite well. We changed the recipe a bit – mainly, adding mom’s pate brisee instead of Martha’s cornmeal pate brisee. Mom’s crust was perfect, not that anybody would be surprised…

This is a tart dish, perfect for hot summer days, or any days, really.

Rhubarb Galette

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c. flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 disk of pate brisee (I’m sending you to Martha’s – increase the sugar to 2 T)
  • 1 lb. rhubarb, sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch cinnamon
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw)
  • 1 T unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 375. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 14-inch round. Transfer to parchment-lined sheet.

Place rhubarb and lemon juice in large bowl, toss to combine. In another bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add rhubarb to sugar mixture and toss to coat. Pour rhubarb on top of dough, leaving a 2-inch border of dough. Fold border over and crimp to seal. Chill in refrigerator for 15-20 min.

Once chilled, brush crust with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar and dot rhubarb with butter. Bake until crust is deep golden and juices are bubbling, about 55 min.

Transfer to wire rack to cool. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream, or at room temperature.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Independence Day

A friendly kitchen

On this Independence Day, I spent every moment surrounded by strong women, goofy family members and pets who never seem to forget that they love me, even when they only see me twice a year. It was fitting to hear Aretha Franklin bellow “Freedom!” on the radio this morning.

My parents and I attended a casual barbecue with friends. We had the normal fixins: barbecue chicken that dad had brined and butterflied, along with fresh corn on the cob. (Note: mom said, “Save the livers for me!”

We rolled the corn cobs in butter until it dripped down the sides…

I made my scalloped tomatoes with basil from the garden – always a crowd-pleaser.

We drank strong gin & tonics, sat on the back deck and talked until the sun went down. It was simple and lovely. As it should be.

Whether your Fourth of July included moonshine or a “Twilight Zone” marathon, I hope it was spent with love. xoxo

Pink lemonade cake with foamy citrus glaze

One of the first things I do when moving to a new town is join, or start, a book club. I recommend all my friends do this –  a great way to meet new people and widen your social network beyond the work crew. Naturally, work friends may dominate, but at least you’re introducing new blood to the mix.

I typically post a funny ad on Craigslist, telling a little bit about the books I like to read and inviting other wine-loving women to join. In Oregon, I posted an ad for the “Anti-Chick Lit Book Club” and I was overwhelmed with responses, including many from men, applauding the move away from Elizabeth Gilbert books. But hey, you may want to start an Elizabeth Gilbert Lovers club! More power to you.

My group’s last book was “Let Me Eat Cake,” a chronicle of one woman’s obsession with cake and a brief history of the confection. It was a weak foodie book, if you ask me, and it made me feel kind of disgusted by the end. Orangette‘s book is far superior as far as food reading goes.

Regardless, we had a sweet-themed club, complete with mini key-lime tarts, chocolate cupcakes and my pink lemonade cake with a foamy citrus glaze…

Don't come between a sweet tooth and her sweets

Admission: I totally Sandra-Lee’d this cake. That means it involves a box of cake mix and powdered pink lemonade. But you know what? I work late, and sometimes I just don’t have time to do it all from scratch. It turned out so moist, with a wonderful sweet bite of lemon – everybody loved it.

Here I have adapted it from Paula Deen’s sons’ recipe

Pink Lemonade Cake with Foamy Citrus Glaze

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • Butter for coating pan
  • 1 box white cake mix (18.25-ounce)
  • 3 tablespoons pink lemonade drink powder (Country Time is best)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Glaze:

  • 1 pound confectioners’ (powder) sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
  • 6 tablespoons frozen pink lemonade concentrate
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, finely grated
  • Water, as needed
  • Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter two round cake pans (mine were 9-inch) and line the bottom with parchment or waxed paper; set aside.

    For the cake, in a large bowl, stir together the cake mix and lemonade powder. Prepare the cake batter according to the package directions, using the eggs and the oil and water. Stir the lemon zest into the batter. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans. Bake for approx. 30 minutes, or until golden and a toothpick inserted in the centers of the cakes comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minuets. Carefully turn cakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

    For the glaze, beat together the confectioners’ sugar and butter until fluffy. Beat in the pink lemonade concentrate, zest and vanilla. If the glaze is still too thick, add a little water, in 1 T increments. You can make this as thick or thin as you wish.

    Transfer one cake to a cake stand or large platter. Using an offset spatula, spread the top of the cake with a layer of glaze. Place the second cake on top of the first. Spread the remaining glaze over the top and sides of both layers.

    The glaze spilled over my cake like a frothy mess. I loved it, and just covered the pools with hydrangea flowers from my garden (well cleaned!). I love how you can see the specks of lemon zest throughout, and just that faint pink color.

    Happy Fourth of July, friends! xoxo

    Road food

    I’ve always been one of those people who forms travel plans around food. Even while I’m eating at one great local haunt, I’m planning my next fantastic meal. Some call that a food obsession, I call it culinary tourism.

    As many of us are traveling this weekend, this post is a tribute to some great out-of-town food I’ve enjoyed this summer.

    First up, this funny little place in Greensboro, N.C. The line of silver-haired Southerners with sweet accents was out the door. I heard one guy order 1 lb. of barbecued pork, with a side of hush puppies.

    "Try our salad"

    I ordered the fried pork sandwich, weighing in at about 5 lbs. on a buttery biscuit with some wilted vegetables making it “healthy.” Had I finished it, I probably wouldn’t be here to tell the story.

    A few weeks later, I was on a North Carolina road trip. Along the way, we stopped in Asheville to meet up with some college friends at the Sunnyside Cafe (I think that was the name). Cari got this amazing fried-green tomato sandwich:

    I, of course, was on a health kick, so I ordered this cobb salad, with the best maple-syrup bacon I’ve ever had:

    We had to support the North Carolinian microbrews, of course…

    Jack of the Wood - Asheville, N.C.

    Foothills beer in Blowing Rock, N.C.

    Last meal was in Boone, N.C., at an organic/hippie breakfast place that I loved. We had the eggs florentine:

    And this really yummy fruit/granola bowl:

    Even more recently, I enjoyed a family dinner in Spokane, Wash. at The Queen of Sheba, a new Ethiopian restaurant in the old flour mill. It was one of those places with no utensils and you use that fermented spongy bread to sop up the curries. So tasty and spicy. This plate had the lamb, beef and chicken. Note the boiled egg!

    More curry was on its way.

    We also enjoyed sweet-potato fries. Glad these exist.

    The evening ended at one of those boutique ice cream shops with crazy flavors. I had molasses, which tasted like gingerbread cookies!

    Hope you all are enjoying your summer, friends! xoxo