Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Buttermilk Rolls and Sourdough Bread

Michael is a having a pot luck at work tomorrow (Christmas day), so I thought a batch of buttermilk rolls would be a good addition to the pot.  The recipe is from the website http://www.thefreshloaf.com   I changed it a bit and added a couple of tablespoons of butter to the recipe.

Buttermilk Rolls
(Makes 12-18 rolls)

6 to 6 1/2 cups bread or all purpose flour (750grams)
1/2 TBSP salt
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast or instant yeast or 1 15 gram cake of fresh yeast
1 TBSP warm water
1 3/4 to 2 cups buttermilk (I used 2 cups)
2 TBSP butter, melted
1 TBSP honey (you can be generous here)

Glaze:  1 egg beaten with 1 TBSP water
Topping: sesame seeds, poppy seeds or grains(cracked wheat or rolled oats)

Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl.  Combine the warm water and yeast in a 2 cup measure and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  Add the buttermilk to the yeast to the 2 cup mark and stir to combine.  Melt the butter.  Pour the yeast, buttermilk, butter and honey into the flour and mix well.  If the dough is too sticky add more flour, if too stiff, add water or a bit more buttermilk.  You want a shaggy mass of dough that is kneadable.  Knead by machine or hand for 10 minutes to produce a smooth pliable dough.  Using a TBSP of vegetable oil, oil the large bowl and place the dough in it, turn the dough over to coat it completely with a thin film of oil.  Cover the bowl with a plate or plastic wrap, set the bowl aside and allow the dough to rise for 90 minutes or until doubled in bulk.  Divide the dough into 12 to 18 equal pieces( I usually go for 15 equal pieces that I measure on my scale to be sure they are of equal size).  Shape each piece into a neat ball and place in a well greased pan (I use some butter or shortening for this) with rolls touching each other.  I use a 9 x 13 pan to hold all the rolls and make 5 rows of 3 rolls each.  Some folks use a springform pan. 

Let the rolls rise until doubled in bulk (about 45-60 minutes).  Meanwhile preheat the oven to 425F if using a metal pan, or 400F if using a glass pan.  Once risen, mix the glaze and brush lightly over the tops of the rolls, sprinkle the topping.  Bake 25-30 minutes until the rolls are firm and make a hollow sound when tapped.  Serve warm or bring to your event and reheat.  Enjoy!

Next up, San Francisco sourdough - here are the two loaves after preshaping.  Next they will be given a final shaping placed in brotforms (bannetons) and put in the fridge for an overnight rest, baked tomorrow morning.
The loaves after baking --

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A New Recipe for Me - Pasta Frolla

OK, well it's not completely new, I've made Pasta Frolla before but always used the recipe from the Il Fornaio Baking Book.  Of course most of my cookbooks are packed away, including this one and Michael wanted some apricot jam pockets(faggotini di Albiccoca).  We love the little pockets of tender sweet dough stuffed with a bit of apricot jam.  Not wanting to disappoint him(or myself for that matter), I found a recipe for Pasta Frolla online on the Washington Post's website.  I just mixed up 1/2 a batch (2 lbs. of dough is too much!) and it's resting in the fridge for about 1 hour or so until it's ready.  I'll cut out 2 1/2 inch biscuts from the rolled out dough then place a small dab of jam in the middle of each one, brush some beaten egg around the edges and fold over to make a half moon shape.  Then, I'll brush the half moons with some more beaten egg on the top and bake for 10 minutes or so at 375F.  We'll see how they come out.  I have great hope for this recipe, it may even work as the dough in my Mom's lost recipe for Italian Pineapple Nut Cookies, we shall see.  Here's the recipe as found from chef Nick Maligieri -

Pasta Frolla

This is the basic dough you can use to make four other recipes: Chocolate and Vanilla Sandwich Cookies, Dulce de Leche Crumb Bars, Holiday Cutouts and Infasciadedde (Sicilian Twists); see separate recipes.

Italians use pasta frolla to line pans for baking a variety of pies, sweet and savory, and to make simple sugar cookies and all sorts of elaborate filled cookies. Using it as a base for bar cookies is simply an extension of its pan-lining capabilities.

The dough is best made in a food processor, but you can also make it by hand, rubbing in the butter and incorporating the eggs with a fork. You'll have to knead handmade dough a little to get it smooth; just don't overdo it. Pasta frolla can be made and refrigerated 3 to 4 days in advance.

Yield: 2.2 pounds of dough

·                                 4 cups flour (spoon flour into a dry-measure cup and level off)
                     2/3 cup sugar
·                                 2 teaspoons baking powder
·                                 1 teaspoon salt
·                                 8 ounces (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
·                                 4 large eggs
·                                 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (may substitute 1 teaspoon each vanilla and lemon extracts)
·                                 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon or orange zest

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Pulse 3 or 4 times to mix. Add the butter and process 10 to 15 seconds or until it is finely mixed into the dry ingredients. Add the eggs, vanilla extract and zest. Pulse a few times, until a ball of dough forms. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Form the dough into a fat cylinder and use immediately, or wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the faggotini di albicocca, roll the dough out 1/4 inch thick, cut out 2 1/2 inch circles, place of dab of apricot jam in the middle, paint the edge of the circle with beaten egg and seal tightly to form a half moon.  Do this with each 'biscut'.  Arrange cookies on greased cookie sheet or parchment paper on cookie sheet giving them at least an inch between cookies.  Brush the tops of the cookies with beaten egg before baking 10 minutes in a 375F oven.  Watch the cookies to ensure they do not burn.  Let cool a minute on the pan then remove to a cookie rack to complete cooling.  You may dust them with confectioners sugar before serving or just enjoy as is. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Lower Fat Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Today I'm baking 2 loaves of San Francisco Sourdough Bread (recipe from http://www.thefreshloaf.com) and tomorrow I will make a double batch of spinach pachadi.  Pachadi is an Indian dish that features any vegetable cooked with onions and a chile pepper, then mixed with yogurt and a spice mixture.  It's very tasty and when made with spinach always reminds me of the tasty spinach and artichoke dip that you can make and place in a hollowed out bread 'bowl'.

The only problem I have with the classic version of this dish is it has LOTS of fat in it, given that it uses sour cream AND cream cheese.  Pachadi uses some oil but also yogurt as the dairy which even at full fat strength is less fat than the classic. 

Here's the recipe -

Spinach in Yogurt Sauce (Spinach Pachadi)

Makes 6 servings (as part of a large meal)

Pachadis are lightly cooked South Indian salads, often involving yogurt. This was my grandmother’s recipe, and it remains a feature of my core repertoire because it’s so simple and unusual at the same time. This recipe is part of our menu for Sadhya, a South Indian feast.

Published in Gourmet Live 01.18.12


  • 3 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 pound spinach, coarse stems discarded and leaves finely chopped
  • 1 small fresh green chile, such as serrano, Thai, or jalapeƱo, slit lengthwise with stem end intact
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Salt
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (not Greek-style)
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 10 fresh curry leaves (optional)


  • Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot over medium heat until it shimmers. Cook onion, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 7 minutes. Add spinach, chile, 2 tablespoons water, and 3/4 teaspoon salt and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until spinach is wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in yogurt.
  • Heat remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a small heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then cook mustard seeds until they begin to pop and/or turn gray, then add cumin seeds and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until cumin seeds brown, about 30 seconds more. Add curry leaves (if using), covering skillet immediately for a few seconds, then stir spice mixture into spinach mixture. Season with salt. Serve warm.


  • Indian ingredients can be mail-ordered from Kalustyans.com.
  • Chile can be removed during cooking when the dish is spicy enough for your taste.
  • Spinach-yogurt mixture, without spiced oil, can be made 1 day ahead and chilled. Reheat before proceeding with recipe.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Last CSA Box of the Year From Eatwell Farm

Tomorrow, Wednesday, marks the arrival of the last CSA box for the year from Eatwell Farm.  Every year Nigel and crew take a much deserved 2 week  'break' from packing our weekly boxes.  But, fear not, they have a great end of year box planned  as follows -

Young Lettuce
Crocodile Spinach
Champion Collards
Florence Fennel
Bok Choy
Celeriac (the celery was damaged in the freeze)
Wakefield or red cabbage
Watermelon Daikon
Diane Sweet potatoes
Early Washington Navels
Satsuma Mandarins
Watermelon daikon is back! Yay, I love this stuff, sliced thin and pickled.  It keeps forever.  We were just running low so this came just in time.  Crocodile Spinach is great just steamed, be sure and wash it well (at least 3 times) to get rid of all the dirt (Nigel is literally giving away the farm!).  I love collards and sauteed onions seasoned with cumin, turmeric and a bit of serrano chili paprika(grind up some dried serranos from Everything Under the Sun).  Pork chops or sausage on a bed of cabbage, onions, maybe some carrots? and apples is a great winter meal.  Fennel sliced thinly on top of some of the lettuce with shredded carrots and some of those pickled watermelon daikon slices would make a yummy side dish.  Celeriac trimmed and boiled with some white potatoes is also a good side with some roasted chicken or lamb chops.  Bok choy always is welcome in our house for a shrimp or chicken stir fry.  Of course, we just roast sweet potatoes, unless you're up for a sweet potato pie for Christmas dessert.  Lastly, let's not forget the navel oranges and mandarins - great for snacks or in Michael's lunch pail. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Deliciousness From Eatwell Farm

This week's CSA box from Eatwell Farm includes --

Spinach: We are famous for our dirty and very tasty spinach. We grow savoy varieties which have the best flavor but the wrinkly leaves are much harder to wash. I believe the effort is well worth it. A few years ago we grew flat leaf (easy to wash) and our regular savoy varieties and members resoundingly said keep growing the savoy spinach. Store in your crisper.

 Romaine or Red Leaf Lettuce: Store in the crisper in a plastic bag.

 Green Curly Kale: It is sweeter now that we have had some frost. Often this is used for decoration in meat or fish counters. This is young and delicious and deserves to be eaten. Store in the crisper

 Tokyo Salad Turnips: The greens are looking worse for wear after so many days of freezing weather. Remove the tops and store in the crisper.

 Arugula: A few holes from bugs earlier in the season. These have met their maker with the cold weather. The arugula is tasty and great in salads or sandwiches. Store in the crisper.

 Carrots: These are from Terra Firma. We have carrots planted but they will not be ready until the early spring. Certified organic as is all our produce.

 New Potatoes or Sweet Potatoes: We planted the potatoes at the end of August. The yield per plant is low but the flavor is great and you can see how fresh they as you can rub away the skin. Store in the crisper.

 Wakefield Cabbage: I had a customer at the market that asked if these were ‘‘any good’’. I said if he bought it he would not buy another green cabbage again. Very flavorful in coleslaw or light steaming/ stir fry. If we run out of these you may have a regular green cabbage.

 Leeks: We grow a European variety called Tadorna which has a long white shank. There is a very special planting machine that dibs a deep hole to plant the leeks to get a maximum white shank. Unfortunately we do not have the $25,000 for one of those. Even so they are pretty amazing. Store in the crisper.

 Satsuma Mandarins: From Bill Crepps in Winters. The paperwork of organic farming drives Bill crazy so he is not certified. That does not change how he farms. The taste tell us he is organic and I have known Bill for many years.

 Navel Oranges: From Nacho at Twin Girls Farm, certified organic. They are certified organic and pack for a wholesaler called purity so that is why you may sometimes find these labels on fruit from them. I asked for small fruit responding to members with small children who sometimes cannot eat a whole orange.

 Butternut Squash: I like to fill the oven then take the flesh out of the skin and store in a container in the fridge to use throughout the week. Delicious.
Enjoy the great bounty and vitality of the food from your farm.

Yum, spinach and leek quiche with gruyere cheese will be a welcome item on the menu this week.  I really like the kale last week cooked with cumin, coriander, turmeric and onions, that and the sweet potatoes will go well with some roast chicken.  Arugula salad with mandarin orange slices and blue cheese, always delicious.

A salad featuring thinly slice turnips, some shredded carrots and blue cheese sounds good as well.   Some sauteed cabbage with apples and onions is also good this time of year as a side dish.  Lastly, the butternut squash will get roasted and used in some more butternut squash raviolis.  We devoured the last batch and need some more in the freezer. 

Lots of good things from Eatwell Farm. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Cookie Baking 2013 - Let the Games Begin!

I'm a day behind schedule but it took me awhile to get in the Christmas cookie baking mood.  Today, I'm ready to go - first batch of anise/almond biscotti have completed their first bake.  Just have to slice them and toast them in the oven.  I'm doing the biscotti first, then the gingerbread men, then cherry winks, mint surprise cookies, peanut butter blossoms and last taralluces. 

Every year this activity is a tribute to my Mom who baked cookies every year and sent them to my sister and me without fail.  Thanks for the wonderful memories, Mom.  A toast to you, Merry Christmas!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Another Thanksgiving Dinner That Couldn't Be Beat --

Yesterday (Thanksgiving) we went to visit our friends, Carol and Mark.  They provided a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner and I brought buttermilk rolls to round out the dinner of braised rabbit, green beans, mashed potatoes, and cippolini onions, with a lemon icebox cake for dessert.  It was delicious!

Today, Michael and I had our own 'mini' Thanksgiving dinner.  We split two cornish game hens in half and roasted them in a 350F oven for an hour on a bed of the usual turkey stuffing (stuffing bread cubes, sauteed mild Italian sausage, an onion and 3 ribs of diced celery all moistened with chicken broth, 2 eggs and a bit o' homemade romano cheese).  For an additional 20 minutes we raised the temperature to 400F and completed roasting the little birds.  Michael made some gravy and we added cranberry sauce and steamed spinach to finish the meal.  We were so full from yesterday that we split a half a birdie, then had pies for dessert (sweet potatoe pie for me, sweet potato pecan pie for Michael).  Yes, we had another Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat.  We have leftovers too, but not the gigantic turkey that usually feeds us with soup and leftovers for the next month!  Next year maybe we only need one little bird for the two of us!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Baking Pies

Just like last year, I'm baking two pies the day before Thanksgiving.  One pie is a sweet potato pecan pie from Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Cookbook.  This is Michael's favorite pie served with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.  The second pie is my choice and I chose sweet potato/butternut squash pie.

This year's sweet potato pie recipe comes from Lorraine, the farmer's wife from Eatwell Farm.  Last year I made a Southern sweet potato pie from a recipe on http://www.thefreshloaf.com  It was excellent, but this year I wanted to try Lorraine's.  Here's the recipe--

Sweet Potato/Butternut Squash Pie

1 lb. sweet potatoes, roasted
1/2 lb. butternut squash, roasted
1/2 cup butter, softened (lets say just about melted)
1/4 cup maple syrup (yup, good pies doesn't come cheaply)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 TBSP molasses
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 eggs
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp nutmeg (fresh ground, this seemed like alot, I only used about 1/4 tsp because that's all I had on hand)

Bake the sweet potatoes and the squash for 1 hour.  Allow to cool.  Remove skins and save the delicious pulp.  Mash well, or mix well in a mixer.  Add the butter and mix well.  Stir in sugar, maple syrup, buttermilk, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla.  Beat on medium speed until the mixture is smooth.  Pour filling into an unbaked deep dish pie crust.  Bake at 350F for 50-60 minutes until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Dark Chicken Broth - Who Knew Chicken Backs could taste so good!

When we have roast chicken, I buy a whole chicken, part it out myself and freeze the backs and wings for later use to make chicken broth.  Up until now, I have always made golden(light) chicken broth using the backs and wings. 

But today, I am trying something new.  We are having our own 'little' Thanksgiving on Friday, after the usual Thanksgiving with friends on Thursday.  Usually, I make a full on whole turkey dinner, but this year we are really focused on getting the house ready for sale and our pending move to Orcas Island - not much energy or time left to deal with a whole big bird, or 'elephant' as we like to call it( as in 'The gods have given us an elephant, you must help us eat it').  So we decided to have some cornish game hens roasted over the usual turkey stuffing.  However, what to do about turkey gravy?  The little birds will hardly render enough fat or juices to make good gravy.  That's when I remembered reading about dark chicken broth in David Tanis' book A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes.  You make the dark broth and then reduce it and freeze it for later use in whatever recipe that calls for a flavorful chicken broth. 

Without further ado, here is the recipe -

1 organic chicken, about 4 lbs. (I can't bear to waste good chicken, so I used 2 chicken backs and 4 wings)
1 medium onion, quartered
2 medium carrots, peeled and chunked
1 celery stalk
6 quarts water
a thyme branch or two
bay leaf
1 tablespoon tomato paste

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Split the chicken in half.  Place it, unseasoned, in a shallow roasting pan and scatter teh vegetables over and around it.  Roast uncovered at 400F for 15 minutes then reduce the heat to 350F and roast for about another 45 minutes, turning frequently, roast until the bird is very brown but NOT burnt on all sides. 

Put the contents of the pan in a stockpot and cover with the water.  Be sure to deglaze the roasting pan to get all the good browned bits off the pan.  Put the thyme and bay leaf in the stock pot. Add the tomato paste.

Simmer the stock for 2 hours or until reduced by half.  Refrigerate and then degrease.  Save the grease for some awesome gravy.  Your stock should be a rich brown and lightly gelatinized.  It can be refrigerated for several days or frozen for future use. 

For a simple dark sauce reduction, boils 2 cups of the half reduced stock until 1 cup remains.  Just 1 cup of this second reduction will be so rich it will make enough sauce for 8 servings.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Lots to be Thankful For from Eatwell Farm

What's coming our way from Eatwell Farm just before Thanksgiving -

Navel oranges or satsuma mandarins
Fuji persimmons
Green celery
Rosemary and sage
New Potatoes
Sweet potatoes

Where do I start?  Navel oranges or satsumas, I've been waiting all year - LOVE fresh oranges, but I refuse to buy the ones in the store from Australia, I'm so glad these are now in season in California.  Green celery will make a great addition to the stuffing on Thanksgiving along with rosemary and sage.  I like to make a stuffing bread and use it to make stuffing.  The recipe is from a bread machine cookbook and has all the usual stuffing herbs and spices in it as well as some oatmeal and corn meal.  The bread makes great turkey sandwiches too. 

Broccoli, another stir fry is in the plans.  Romanesco gratin will probably be on our menu for Thanksgiving.  Cauliflower - I really need to do an Indian aloo gobi with it and the new potatoes. The sweet potatoes will get baked for sweet potato pie and Michael's favorite sweet potato pecan pie.  I may need to use the butternut squash too to have enough for both pies.  Spinach and leek tart sounds good for a dinner.  Onions we just use all the time, I'm sure some will find their way into some stuffing and maybe even in the aloo gobi. 

Can't wait to get this box of great food from Eatwell Farm, all organic and raised thanks to Nigel's chickens who till the pastures making way for the plow and planters.  Chicken power!  Tilling, pest management and fertilizers all in one.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

This Week's CSA Basket from Eatwell Farm

Can you say cruciferous vegetables?  Not sure I spelled it right, but this week's CSA share is loaded with them -

Wakefield cabbage
Baby Bol choy
Italian parsley
Sweet potatoes

I like stir fry with broccoli and bok choy so that's one meal.  Romanesco gratin with roasted sweet potatoes - I just can't get enough of that, along with some meatloaf - a tasty dinner.  The cabbage and beets will be used with another head of cabbage to make some sauerkraut.  Macaroni and cheese with pureed cauliflower, whole peas and a bit o' ham sounds good to me.  Lettuce for salads along with the radishes.  Onions are always good in so many things - a little in the meatloaf, some in the mac and cheese, sauteed of course.  Italian parsley adds a dash of green to any dish or use the stems for making chicken broth.
Good meals here any way you look at it.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sourdough Rye and Sesame Crackers

I've been making lots of rye bread lately- 2 loaves for my quilt friends and today, another two for Michael and I.  I invariably have some rye starter leftover when putting the bread together.  What could be better than homemade rye crackers?  I essentially follow the recipe in a previous November 2011 post regarding sourdough whole wheat crackers, using leftover rye starter in place of the whole wheat starter.  Also I put the sesame seeds directly into the dough before rolling it out as thinly as possible.  Cut the crackers and bake. 

These are really good with some brie, or fresh soft cheese, or just munch them, yum!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Pizza, pizza!

I LOVE pizza, any kind, but I am partial to mushrooms.  Today I made a half whole wheat half white flour pizza and topped it with some of the eggplant tomato sauce, sauteed mushrooms and artichoke hearts along with a sprinkling of mozzarella cheese.  Baked for 20 minutes in the oven at 400F this pizza was delicious served with an arugula salad containing apples, blue cheese and toasted pine nuts.  Too bad we couldn't have some wine with it, but Michael was headed for work in an hour so that was out of the question. 

My recipe for pizza dough is pretty simple -

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups white bread flour (I like King Arthur bread flour the best)
1/2 tsp salt

Mix this together to distribute the salt and combine the two flours.

In a 1 cup glass measuring cup, measure 1 cup of warm water and add to it 1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast, stir to combine then add 2 TBSP olive oil.  Pour this into the flour and mix well.  You may need to add some water to get a workable dough.  Knead of a few minutes, then lightly oil a bowl, put the dough in the bowl and turn it over so all sides are coated with oil.  Let it rise in a warm place 45 to 60 minutes.  When doubled, spread it out in a pizza pan -  I have a round one about 14 inches wide.  Top with your favorite sauce and toppings, bake in a 400F oven for 18 to 20 minutes until the cheese is golden and melted.  Remove from the oven, allow to cool a few minutes then slice and eat.  Yum!

You could make this dough ahead of time up to the point of allowing it to rise and freeze some in a plastic baggie coated with olive oil for later use.  To use later, remove from freezer, remove dough from the baggie and allow the dough to defrost slowly outside the fridge in a covered bowl until it reaches room temperature.  Allow it to rise until double in bulk and then proceed as for pizza as outlined above.  This pizza beats waiting in line at Papa Murphy's any day of the week.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Sauce

I roasted a small eggplant yesterday.  You cut the eggplant in half, rub olive oil on the cut parts and place on a baking sheet lined with a silpat or aluminum foil.  Bake the eggplant in a 350F oven for 40 minutes or so, until soft and fork tender.  I let the eggplant cool and then began the sauce.

Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Sauce

1 roasted eggplant, skin removed, so you have a cup or two of pulp
1 quart pureed tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. sugar
1 TBSP or more Italian seasoning
1 TBSP or more Dried Parsley
1/3 cup white wine or vodka
3 TBSP olive oil

In a saute pan, heat the olive oil 'til 'shimmery', add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring to coat the onion and garlic with the oil.  Cook until the onion is wilted, do not brown the garlic.  Add salt and cayenne and stir.  Lower heat and add the tomatoes and eggplant, stir in the remaining seasonings, sugar and wine/vodka.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  Then puree the sauce using an immersion stick blender or regular blender.  Serve this tasty sauce over cavatelli, or gnocchi, ziti or any other pasta you enjoy!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

This Week's CSA Box from Eatwell Farm

Here is the list of goodies in this week's Eatwell Farm box--

Sweet potatoes
Butternut squash
Three kale stir fry

More persimmons for Michael.  If he doesn't eat them all, I might try to make a persimmon bread.  Cauliflower - aloo gobi this week or maybe a gratin.  Broccoli and kale for a chicken stir fry.  Arugula salad with pomegranate dressing, blue cheese and pecans sounds good.  Collards and sweet potatoes with oven baked chicken sounds like a good meal.  Lettuce and radishes for a good salad.  Butternut squash pie anyone?  You roast the squash and use it like pumpkin for your favorite pie.  Thyme will be dried and stored.  I love the fall/winter boxes, they always have lots of good things to eat.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Squash Soup and Other Delights

Yesterday was a major cooking day.  I started out roasting an acorn squash and a butternut squash for soup.  While that was in the oven for an hour of baking, I put together the beginnings of a loaf of whole wheat bread.  After that, I started hacking and hewing vegetables for the soup - onions, carrots, fennel and zucchini.  Rummaging around in the freezer, I found a container of Grammie soup, pure gold.  I also took out a container of chicken broth for the squash soup and thawed it in the microwave. 

Last week, we bought 2 small bags of dried serrano chilis from Everything Under the Sun at the San Francisco Farmers Market.  What a treat it was to wander thru all the stalls of wonderful fresh fruit and veggies, fresh cheeses, meats, seafood and lots of other homemade treats.  I took the chilis and ground them in a spice mill to make a very potent/hot serrano paprika.  I like to use this in place of cayenne for an extra kick in sauces and soups. 

Now for the soup, once the squashes were baked, I took out the pulp and placed it in a bowl, the skins went to the worms and compost pile.  A good drizzle of olive oil in my favorite large soup pot (2 1/2 gallon pot).  Added 2 diced onions and 4 cloves of minced garlic.  I let that cook for a while along with a sprinkling of salt.  Once the onions were good and wilted I added a tablespoon of ground cumin, 1/4 tsp. of serrano paprika, a tablespoon of Italian seasoning and a tablespoon of dried parsley.  Also added 3 bay leaves and the rest of the diced vegetables, stirred and let the whole mass sweat covered on low heat for about 10 minutes.  After that I added the chicken broth along with a quarter of water.  I brought that all to a aboil over higher heat and then added the squash.  Also let the soup come to a boil and then reset the heat to a simmer.  The soup simmered for about 1 hour until the carrots were cooked.  Then the fun part, I took out the immersion stick blender and made a fine puree of the soup.  After it cooled I froze the soup in 1/2 gallon containers for later use as quick easy dinners with some bread and cheese.

After the soup was done, it was about time to start the bread.  I made my favorite, Peter Reinhart's 100% whole wheat bread from his book Whole Grain Baking.  It makes a great loaf of bread for sandwiches or toasting.  I've taken to grinding my own wheat berries into whole wheat flour and really like the hearty wheat taste of this loaf.  This morning we each enjoyed a slice with strawberry jam and peanut butter, along with our bowls of 10 grain hot cereal.

Life is good!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

What's coming in this week's Eatwell Farm CSA Box 11/6/2013

Here's what is in store for us this week from Eatwell Farm -

Romaine Lettuce
Summer squash or beets
Wakefield cabbage
Red kale
White or yellow onions
Bok choy
Butternut squash
Fuji persimmons
Sweet potatoes

Wakefield cabbage AND beets (I hope) will make a great sauerkraut.  It IS that time of year and the cooler days ahead beg for some sauerkraut.  Romaine and arugula salads with pomegranate dressing, yum.  Bok choy, yay, I see a great chicken stir fry in the making.  Fractal broccoli, aka romanesco in a gratin would be delicious along with sweet potatoes and some grilled lamb chops.  Onions are always welcome as a start for some butternut squash soup, maybe a side of sauteed kale and onions with it.  Lastly, persimmons are one of Michael's favorite fruits to take for lunch.  Lots of good food here as always. 

Many folks think belonging to a CSA is expensive, but I beg to differ.  The 9 or 10 items I get in the box are worth more than I pay every week for 'the box'.  There is, of course, a committment to be made to eat what comes in the box and make good use of its contents.  The reward is a better diet using more healthy fruits and vegetables that are organically grown.  The box has definitely made a difference in our lives and is a great stepping stone for us when we move to Orcas Island where we plan to grow much of our own fruit and veggies.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

This week's Eatwell CSA Box 10/30/2013

Oh, boy!  Lots of good things in this week's CSA Box from Eatwell Farm.  Here's the list with explanations from Lorraine, the farmer's wife.

Lettuce: We pick the lettuce and bag it in the field. It may be dirty but it keeps so much better like this. Just take what you need out of the bag, wash it and enjoy. Members tell me the lettuce keeps up to ten days this way. Store in your crisper.

 Dino Kale: Also know as Cavelo Nero or Italian Black Cabbage. It was Sown in August this delicious and succulent crops is ready to harvest now. Store in your crisper....

 Summer Squash or Beets: We have four types of squash planted so you may get the light green Mexican, dark green regular squash, yellow squash or the round ones. Store in the fridge.

Arugula: This is delicious, a few holes are the price we pay for not even spraying with organic chemicals. Lorraine made a Blue Cheese dressing today which I am looking forward to using on arugula salad. Store in the fridge.

Green Tomatoes: A tradition at this time of the year when the crop does not ripen fast. Fried green tomatoes are a treat. You can always keep them for a couple of weeks over which time they will ripen. Keep on the counter unless they are cut or split in which case refrigerate them.

Eggplant: Some of you have yet to fall in love with this wonderful vegetable. I do read your comments and emails! This will be the last pick from this years crop. Give it one last chance. Try Lorraine’s simple recipe to my left. Store in the refrigerator.

Florence Fennel: While I was in England with my family I got to watch some telly. River Cottage is a popular food program. Hugh, the presenter, made a delicious fennel salad. Unfortunately there is not a link to this recipe on his website but Lorraine has included one of his other fennel and arugula recipes today. Enjoy.

Rosemary: A wonderful and versatile fresh herb. Store in the crisper.

Pomegranates: Great additions to salads, our lunchtime salad today included them with roasted beets and apples. These are from our good friends at Twin Girls farm. They are organically grown as is everything at Eatwell Farm. Delicious.

White Onions: Onions are difficult crop to grow organically as they do not shade out weeds at any time in their life. This year Ramon and Miguel did an amazing job keeping the crop clean with their finger weeder.

Acorn Squash: A true winter squash, nothing fancy in this one. We grow it to put in the share boxes one time because it has a following for the great flavor. It is not sweet but we all have to get over equating sweet with good. There are other flavors too.

Sweet Potatoes: Firstly please do not store these in the fridge, they love the warmth of your siting room. They will keep all winter long, unwashed at 70F. I once kept 600 lbs in a spare bedroom with underfloor heating. (It is difficult being married to a farmer.) Once you wash them they will live only two more weeks so bake them and enjoy.

Enjoy the bounty.

Enjoy the bounty we will.  I need to juice the pomegranates and make a salad dressing with it.  Yum, dino kale and more fennel - looks like another tasty salad is on its way in our house.  Fried green tomatoes with anything will be great or just as a side dish with some hot soup.  Sweet potatoes make a wonderful pie, or just oven roast and eat as is, very tasty.  Acorn squash is a favorite alongside homemade meatloaf. Summer squash will go into a tomato sauce that will then be used in Eggplant Parmesan.   More arugula and lettuce salads are in our future along with the usual bowl of hot soup now that the days are getting cooler.  Lots of good meals here for us all.  Thank you Eatwell!

A Yankee Makes Fried Green Tomatoes

We received 4 green tomatoes in our CSA box this week and not wanting to waste them, I made fried green tomatoes as part of today's lunch.  It was kind of like (forgive me) making eggplant parmesan.  Traditionally, one would use some flour and cornmeal well seasoned with salt, pepper, etc.  but the cornmeal in the cupboard looked and smelled 'iffy' (it can get rancid after a while).  So, I used some of the freshly ground whole wheat flour I usually use for breadmaking instead. 

Here's how it all came about -

Slice 4 green tomatoes into 1/2 inch rounds (yeah a little thick but you get more 'mater flavor that way), salt and pepper each slice.  In a shallow, wide bowl, crack two eggs and beat together with 1/4 cup milk. Place about 1/2 cup flour in another shallow, wide dish or bowl.  Heat 1/3 cup vegetable oil (peanut, safflower, canola - your choice).  When the oil is hot, dip the tomato slices first in egg then in flour to coat both sides and then again in the egg, both sides. Carefully slide/drop the tomato slices into the hot oil, cook until browned on one side, turn over, cook on the other side.  Then lift the slices out of the pan onto a paper towel lined rack to cool and drain.

You can eat them just as they are, or if you are feeling fancy, make a remoulade sauce or just dip pieces in a combination of mayonnaise and ketchup(lazy girl's remoulade). 

They were yummy.  We don't have fried foods too often at our house so these were a real treat!

Monday, October 28, 2013

What's cooking?

Today,  the whole chicken I froze from The Local Butcher in Berkeley finally thawed.  I parted out the whole chicken into breasts, thighs and legs for roasting and back, wings and skin for making broth(along with the attached chicken feet).  I asked Michael to give the chicken head to the compost worms as I have a hard time dealing with the chicken eye looking up at me whenever I open the pot to stir the broth (LOL).  We had oven roasted chicken with roasted potatoes and steamed green beans for lunch.  Meanwhile the chicken broth bubbled away along with 3 bay leaves,  an onion studded with 12 whole cloves, a dozen peppercorns, a roughly chopped carrot, 2 celery stalks roughly cut, and some parsley stems.   I had skimmed the chicken broth before adding the veggies so it would be clearer. 

The strained chicken broth became the base for split pea soup that was finally done just in time for dinner along with some more Insalata Trevignano.  The recipe for split pea soup can be found on the Dec. 23, 2012 listing in this blog. Nothing of that bird got wasted and I was feeling good about having a gallon or more of soup for this week's solo dinners when Michael is at work or for a quick lunch later in the week.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

This Week's Box from Eatwell Farm

Here's what Nigel and Jose are planning for our CSA boxes this week -

Baby bell peppers
Sugar pie pumpkins
Red Russian kale
Green tomatoes
Summer squash
Asian pears

Hmm, looks like some cappellacci de zucca are in my future (pillows of pasta stuffed with seasoned pumpkin puree, recipe on another post in this blog).  Lettuce and radicchio for salads along with some red russian kale.  Tomatillos and green tomatoes will go into a green salsa that I will freeze for later use in a chicken enchilada casserole.  Beets and radicchio together in a salad, perhaps.  Kohlrabi will join its friend in the vegie crisper until ready to steam and sauce up somehow - maybe a gratin?  Summer squash will get shredded and made up into some sauce with tomatoes also frozen.  Michael will love the asian pears for lunches.  Baby bell peppers stuffed with a seasoned bread dressing for a side dish with grilled lamb chops.  All sounds good to me!

Baked Penne Pasta with Mushrooms, Sausage and Tomato Sauce

I LOVE baked ziti (penne) with sausage so today was the day to make a dish.  It is certainly a staple item in any catered Italian celebration that I went to back in New England. 

You need -

1 quart tomato sauce (homemade is good, but a good store bought brand that you like will work too)
1 lb. mild Italian Sausage (use hot if you dare), bulk sausage (no casings) or remove casings by slicing each link down the middle and removing the sausage.
1 lb. mushrooms, thinly sliced
2-3 TBSP olive oil
1 lb. penne pasta
4-8 oz. mozzarella cheese (as cheesy as you want it)
Some grated parmesan if you like

Start the water for the pasta.  Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large sautee pan.  Add the sausage and brown it until all the pink is gone.  Add the mushrooms.  Saute until the mushrooms begin to wilt.  Add the tomato sauce and simmer for a few minutes.  When the pasta water is boiling, add the pasta and cook until it is al dente.  When you have added the pasta to the water, preheat the oven to 350F.  Don't overcook the pasta as the dish will cook some more in the oven.  While the pasta cooks and the sauce is simmering, oil a 13 x 9 glass casserole dish.  Grate the mozzarella cheese. 

Once the pasta is done, spoon about 1/3 of the tomato sauce into the bottom of the casserole, top with half the pasta and half the mozzarella cheese.  top with 1/3 more tomato sauce, the rest of the pasta.  Stir to combine so all the pasta is covered in sauce.  Top with the remaining sauce and mozzarella cheese, sprinkle some parmesan on top if you like.  Bake 30 minutes or so in the oven until the cheese is melty and the sauce bubbling.  Allow to cool slightly and serve with your favorite salad and some crusty Italian bread.  Yum!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

What To Do with all that Radicchio!

We received a fairly large head of radicchio in this week's Eatwell Farm box.  The question is what to do with it.  I like radicchio added to a salad with other greens but how about by itself?  I found a recipe for insalata trevigiana- a salad from the city of Trevisio that features radicchio along with fennel bulb (which also appeared in this week's CSA box).  Here's the recipe -

3 bulbs of fennel (I have one huge bulb so will go with that)
1 head radicchio
75 grams walnuts (I like pecans instead)
150 grams gorgonzola cheese (like it but I'm using the 3 year old homemade lavender ricotta salata)
Olive oil 8 TBSP (maybe go a little lighter here)
3 TBSP balsamic vinegar
3 TBSP lemon (I assume to keep the fennel from turning brown)
1 TBSP honey
25 grams Parsley
Salt and pepper

Wash the fennel, remove the hard core and slice thinly (using my V-slicer (aka Mandolin) for this)
Place in bowl.  Wash and trim the radicchio, shred, but not too finely and add to bowl.  Roughly chop the walnuts (I used toasted pecans), dice/crumble the gorgonzola and add both to the salad.  Roughly chop the parsley.  Make a dressing of the oil, lemon juice, vinegar honey and parsley.

Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.  Pour over the salad and mix.  Serve immediately.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Soup Season is Upon Us!

The weather is a little cooler here in California, not cold yet, but cooler.  I had the beginnings of a good soup in the fridge.  Fennel bulbs from Eatwell Farm along with a red kuri squash and a pumpkin that arrived in this week's box.  I also had a plethora of onions that needed to find their way into some kind of dish.  Having to make room in the freezer I took out a half gallon of frozen chicken broth, defrosted it.  Meanwhile, I seeded and halved the pumpkin and squash, liberally slathered them in olive oil and placed the halves on a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil.  Into the oven they went for 1 hour at 350F to roast until soft.  While the squashes were roasting, I set to dicing vegies - fennel bulbs, fronds and all diced, onions diced, 3 large carrots diced and a few cloves of garlic.  Once the squashes were cooked they cooled until easy to handle.  I removed the baked flesh from the skins and mashed it with a  potato masher.  Now, ready to start the soup.  2-3 TBSP of olive oil in the soup pot to which I added the onions and garlic then a generous pinch of salt, some cumin and tumeric stirring to blend.  I also added a TBSP or so of Italian seasoning.  Add the fennel, carrots and whatever other vegies you like in your soup.  Let it all sweat covered under low heat for 5-10 minutes.  Next, add the chicken broth, raise the heat and bring to a boil and add the pumpkin. Simmer at low heat for about 1 hour.  Puree the soup using either an immersion blender or a regular blender. Enjoy with a hunk of fresh baked bread - YUM! I love soup season.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Beer, beer and MORE beer!

I don't think it is possible to have too much beer on hand.  We just bottled 2 cases of a really good tasting black IPA made from a kit sold by The Beverage People, Santa Rosa, CA. 

Last night I made up the priming sugar syrup and let it cool, put it in the fridge overnight.  I also put 60 beer bottles in the dishwasher and ran it on the sanitize cycle. 

So this morning right after breakfast, we began by sterilizing a primary fermenter (plastic bucket with a spigot on it), some plastic hose and a bottle filler(must be a better name for it but I don't know what that would be).  Michael then decanted the beer from the carboy to the bucket.  Once in the bucket, he attached the hose and filler to the spigot.  I got ready with the bottle caps all nice and sanitized from last night and the bottle capper.  Michael filled, I capped and placed the filled bottles in six packs.  We ended up with exactly 48 bottles (3 of them pints) of beery goodness.  They are resting at room temperature for 10 days and then they will be ready to go into the fridge.  I hope to wait another week or so before actually breaking one open.

We did have 1 short bottle so we had about 4 oz. each of 'green' beer.  Beware this is potent stuff.  We are lightweight drinkers anyway but this brew packs a kick.  It tastes good, no skunkiness, no 'band-aid' after taste.  A great beer for our efforts which were, it seemed, minimal - 4 hours of brewing time and 1 hour bottling.  We'll have to do this again, sometime soon!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Eatwell Farm CSA Box Coming this week 5/1/2013

I can hardly wait for this week's box from Eatwell Farm.  Strawberries!  Yum.  And other goodies too -
California Late Green Garlic
Fresh Green Onions
Chandler and Albion Strawberries
Head of lettuce
Green Cabbage
Sugar Snap Peas
Green Chard
Red Beets
Florence Fennel
Eureka Lemons

Hmm, roasted whole chicken stuffed with lemons and rosemary - very yummy as a main course.  Braised fennel would make a great side dish for this meal.  The snap peas along with green garlic, chard and chicken for a stir fry served over rice.  I would shred the red beets and green cabbage for a tasty slaw along with some carrots.  Or maybe some carrots and onions in a tasty soup?  I'm not even concerned about what to do with the strawberries - breakfast smoothies come to mind.  Lettuce, carrots and snap peas for a tasty salad as well.  So many possibilities!

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Ultimate in Reuse - Spent Grain Bread

A week ago we made a batch of Black IPA beer.  We saved the grain from the mash and divided it into 3/4 cup portions, frozen for future use in bread.  This past week I made one loaf with the grain and it was entirely edible and delicious.  Today I made a second loaf for us to use as toasting bread.  The recipe is from Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads book.  It's a tasty loaf with a rich brown color due to the grains.  Tasty too!
A crumb shot of the bread -
We have really been enjoying this bread toasted with peanut butter and orange marmalade for breakfast.  I will definitely make more of this bread in the future.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Fresh Green Peas at the Market

We couldn't help ourselves this past week at the Farmer's Market.  There they were, fresh English peas in the pods. It was time for our all time favorite (and not cheap) fresh pea soup with butter dumplings.  This is not a soup for someone who cannot have butter.  There is tons of it in this soup, so we only make it once a year.  The recipe is from the Vegetarian Epicure.

Fresh Pea Soup with Butter Dumplings

For the soup -
4 cups fresh peas, shelled (about 4 lbs. of peas in their shells)
4 1/2 cups water
1 tsp. brown sugar

4 1/2 TBSP butter
4 1/2 TBSP flour
1/2 cup dry white wine

For the dumplings -
6 TBSP softened butter
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Make the dumplings first, by working the softened butter into a mix of flour, salt and nutmeg.  Work the eggs into the mixture and set aside.

For the soup, bring the water to a boil in a sauce pan.  Add the sugar and the peas.  Simmer for 10 minutes until the peas are tender.  Remove from heat and puree the peas and water together using an immersion blender or a regular blender.  Set the blended puree aside.  In another sauce pan, melt the butter, add the flour and mix over low heat stirring constantly for 3 minutes.  Gradually add the pea puree to the pot, mixing thoroughly after each addition in order to avoid lumps.  Once all the puree has been added to the pot, mix in the 1/2 cup white wine, salt and pepper to taste.  Bring the soup to a gentle boil and add the dumplings by dropping 1/2 teaspoonfuls of dough into the soup.  When the dumplings float to the top, cook 5 more minutes.   Ladle into bowls and enjoy!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Time for Fava Beans--

Yay, it's spring and fava beans are back at the Farmer's Market here in California.  I LOVE fava beans.  Yes, they are some work, but oh, they are so rich tasting and delicious.  I've been making some fava bean puree based on Alice Waters' recipe in her cookbook 'The Green Kitchen'.  Here's my take on this recipe.  I've pared down the amount of fat (olive oil) and used water in it's place.

Fava Bean Puree

1 lb. Fava Beans in their shells
2 TBSP olive oil
1/4 cup water
1 stalk green spring garlic, sliced into rings
1 tsp. dried Italian seasonings

Remove the beans from their puffy green shells and place in a small sauce pan with water to cover them.  Bring to a boil, boil for about 1 minutes, then rinse the beans in cool water in a colander.  Allow the beans to cool.  Pop the green beans out of their pods. 

In a small saute/fry pan, heat the olive oil.  Add the green garlic and sautee for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the beans, season with salt and pepper.  Toss with the garlic and oil for a minute or so.  Lower the heat and add the water and Italian seasoning. Simmer for 5 minutes or until beans are softened.  Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool thoroughly.  Puree the mixture using a blender or a small food processor (I really like the small processor that comes with the Cuisinart stick blender and whisk for this job).  Process until smooth. Remove to a small container, refrigerate for future use or use immediately.  I like the puree spread on a slice of good bread or even in a sandwich as a replacement for mayonnaise.   Enjoy!

Friday, April 19, 2013

What's Brewing --

Today, we are brewing beer from a kit bought from The Beverage People in Santa Rosa, CA.  It's called Black IPA and it is very dark.  I'll also be taking the spent grain and making bread soon, using a recipe from Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads.   Here's the setup we had to chill the wort. The wort chiller is in the beer kettle on the stove, cold ice water flows from the bucket on the fridge into the wort chiller and then out a hose strung across the kitchen to the sink - pretty neat gravity feed setup!  In two weeks we'll bottle the brew wait a bit more and then enjoy.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Rye Bread Encore

I couldn't help myself.  I had enough rye starter for another batch of Eric's Favorite Rye Bread and I'd given away all the leftover bread from the potluck.  One loaf went to the guest of honor, Louise, who turned 90 that day.  The potluck was a celebration in her honor at our quilt room.  We feasted on sauerbraten, potato dumplings, cooked red cabbage, sauerkraut, chili mac and other wonderful stuff.  It was great. 

When I got home it didn't take me long to realize I needed to make more of the rye bread so Michael and I could have some with soups and as a base for some awesome pastrami sandwiches (Michael's favorite).  Soooo the loaves are baking now and the house smells wonderful.  Making my mouth water with the aromas of onions and caraway.  Yum.

Eatwell Farm Box Coming this Week to a Location Near You! 4/17/2013

Wow, time sure flies when you're having fun!  Another week has gone by and it is time once again to think and dream about all the goodies in this week's box of fruits and vegies from Eatwell Farm.  Here's the list -

Albion Strawberries
Mini Lettuce
Polar Bear Spinach
Yellow Onion Scallions
... Sugar snap peas
Late Washington Navel oranges
Lisbon lemons
California Late Green garlic
Red Ace beets
Spring cabbage or cauliflower
Tokyo Market turnips

Oh boy, oh boy - STRAWBERRIES - yum.  We wait in anxious anticipation all year for those first strawberries and here they are.  Soon there will be strawberry days at Eatwell Farm.  This is my all time favorite way to see the farm, next to the tomato sauce days, of course.  We can pick all we want and eat all we want in the fields - what a delight.  And then, to come home with all those great berries, ready for jams and fresh strawberry pie.  What could be better!

OK, so we've got lemons - time for Indian lemon pickles.  We've got cauliflower that begs to be make into aloo gobi.   Turnips and red beans Indian style, yum.  Beets, hmm, I still have some from last week's box so some borscht is begging to be made, use the carrots and scallians in that.  Spinach as a side dish for the Indian food along with some lamb chops braised in a spicy Indian masala.  Green garlic is great sauteed and mixed with some scrambled eggs.  Sugar snap peas in a spring salad of baby lettuce greens.  All good eats here.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sourdough Onion Caraway Rye Bread

Today, I got to try out a recipe for sourdough onion caraway rye bread known on the Freshloaf website (http://www.thefreshloaf.com) as Eric's Fav Rye.  I didn't have dried onions in the house so I sauteed 2 medium onions in 2 TBSP olive oil until they were transparent and then cooled them in the fridge.  Two days ago I made a rye starter from 50g  of my whole wheat sourdough starter and 100g. dark rye flour(Bob's Red Mill) and 100g. water.  I then took 100g of this mixture last night and made the sponge per the recipe. Today everything came together in the final dough.  I added quite a bit of flour as I kneaded the bread for about 10 minutes, then I did 4 or 5 stretch and folds to aid in the gluten development.  After the dough rose for 1 hour at 80F, I divided and preshaped the loaves into boules.  After a 10 minute bench rest, I did the final shaping - one boule and one batard and then into floured bannetons they went.  After a 45 minute final rise, I first baked the batard and then the boule as they could not both fit on my oven baking tiles in one baking session.  Here are the finished loaves -

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Box from Eatwell Farm 4/3/2013

Can it be that another week has flown by?  Indeed it has and so tomorrow we will pick up another delicious box of fruit and vegetables from Eatwell Farm.  This week we will be treated to -

Baby turnips
Baby lettuce
Green garlic
... Yellow onions
Red kale
Green Cabbge

We just can't get enough of the arugula.  It's delicious in a salad.  I've also seen some recipes for it served with pasta - that would be something different.  Yummy baby turnips, along with lettuce and carrots make up a great salad.  Kale, onions, green garlic and cabbage go together with some lamb for a hearty soup.  Spinach as a side dish with some oven roasted chicken.  Lemons for a salad dressing along with some garlic and olive oil.  Navel oranges are good lunch box fruits.  The dill can add flavor to the salad dressing and remaining dill dried for storage.  All good stuff!

Bread Baking Day!

We ate all the whole wheat sandwich bread and were dangerously low on our favorite San Francisco sourdough so it's time to bake bread!

The sourdough we love takes 3 days from start to finish.  It's not all that labor intensive, but takes lots of time for the sourdough starter to work its magic.  The recipe is from http://www.thefreshloaf.com and was submitted by dmsynder (thanks, Dave).  The bread has a distinctive sourdough tang of San Francisco and we love it with a bowl of soup or with melted cheese, a great all around loaf, making Tartine Bakery jealous (LOL).  For this bake I added another 100 g. of whole wheat flour substituting for 100 g. of the bread flour.  I also think I let the loaves retard too long in the fridge, they didn't rise as much in the oven as in previous bakes.  All in all, however, I'm pleased with the outcome.

Next on the agenda, 100% whole wheat sandwich bread from Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads.  We love this bread toasted in the morning and slathered with peanut butter and jam.  I tried making a different bread (an oatmeal loaf) a couple of weeks ago but nothing can compare to the taste of this whole wheat loaf with its wild yeast starter and whole wheat soaker. Very flavorful!   Some day though, I'm going to try the challah version of this loaf just for grins.

Just took the whole wheat bread out of the oven.  It was near disastrous when I realized I neglected to turn the oven down from 425F to 350F per the recipe.  Yikes, the bread spent about 25 minutes at this higher temperature.  I just baked it another 10 minutes at 350F tented it with some foil and then removed it from the loaf pan.  It looks none the worse for wear. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Italian Easter Rice and Ricotta Pie

To finish off the 2 lbs of whole milk ricotta I made, it was time to make the last of the special Easter pies.  The sweet ricotta and rice pie was a favorite of ours at Easter.  The grownups liked the savory Easter pie with lots of deli meats and cheeses, but we kids liked the sweet ricotta pie. 

I found a recipe on http://www.ciaoitalia.com which was absolutely perfect in every way, resplendent with orange zest, orange juice, cinnamon and vanilla flavors.  I chose to make the pie using wheat berries as opposed to rice, since I always have some of those on hand and I wanted to mix things up a bit.  Here's the pie when it was removed from the springform pan, cooling on a rack.  Can't wait to taste it with a cup of tea this evening after dinner..

Monday, March 25, 2013

Savory Italian Easter Pie

Every year at Easter time, my mom, grandma and aunts would make Easter pies, along with taralli and other Italian goodies.  There were two types of Easter pies.  The first was a savory pie made with ricotta, eggs, proscuitto, grated parmesan cheese and seasoned with black pepper.  This was all put into a pie shell that had eggs in it as well.  The second type of pie was a sweet ricotta and rice pie.  Both were a must for celebrating Easter Sunday.  The first pie was often served with a glass of wine.  The second one was for the end of the meal along with a some dark rich coffee.  Each was good in their own way.  As children, we much preferred the sweet pie, but as we got older the savory pie was more appreciated. 

I found a recipe for the savory pie in the book, "In Nonna's Kitchen" by Carol Field.  Here she calls it Pizza Rustica Napolitan.  The pastry for the pie was made using olive oil in place of butter.  I'd never tried this before and found the dough somewhat difficult to work, but it did go well with the filling.  I started by making some whole milk ricotta and then added in mortadella and salami along with 3 eggs, parmesan and romano cheeses, black pepper and ground nutmeg. Here's the pie-

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Eatwell Farm Box for 3/27/2013

Oh boy, lots of good stuff coming our way next week from Eatwell Farm -

Green garlic
Red cabbage
Sugar snap peas

Yay, carrots - love Eatwell carrots they are so sweet and tasty, I think I'll just have these for snacks, dipping in some olive oil or a yogurt dip.  Time to make another quiche, love quiche, with spinach, chard and green garlic.  It's so nice to have some snap peas, stir fry them with some chicken and a bit of bok choy.  Arugula salad with orange slices, pine nuts and pickled watermelon daikon for dinner along with some grilled lamb chops.  Dandelion and leek salad with raisins and pine nuts as well would make a tasty salad too, maybe just wilt the dandelions a bit and add the raisins and pine nuts.  Fish tacos with shredded red cabbage, yum.  Maybe make up some lemon curd cupcakes this week, there's a recipe on http://www.thefreshloaf.com that I am itching to try.   Bon Appetit.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

What's coming in next week's box from Eatwell Farm

I'm diligently working on using up what is in each week's box from Eatwell Farm.  It is quite a task(but a pleasant one) as there are so many good things in each week's box.  Here's what's on deck for the upcoming week -

Spinach.. Amazing bunch
Green garlic
Chard... back again after a long break

Oh good, arugula is back - love it in a salad with green garlic, tangerines, pickled watermelon daikon radish and toasted pine nuts, dress that salad with a splash of balsamic vinegar and some EVOO and we are good to go.  Maybe some oven roasted whole chicken stuffed with fresh lemons and rosemary and roasted herbed potatoes will complete the meal.

Turnips, leeks and chard will go in a lamb stew. 

Navel oranges and tangerines make great snacks and good lunch time fruits for Michael's lunch box. 

I'm going to dry and save any dill that is leftover from making a dill sauce for some grilled salmon.  Serve that salmon with some spinach and top it with the dill sauce too, add some brown rice to complete the meal. 

Lidia Bastianich has a killer recipe for cauliflower and pasta that will make a great evening dinner along with a salad of the freshest lettuce.

Great food from Eatwell Farm - enjoy!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Brie to Go with all that Bread

Saturday, Michael and I took 2 gallons of milk and made 2 lbs. of brie cheese, 4 small ones and 1 large wheel.  After their long overnight rest at 74F, I salted them this morning and put them into their plastic containers.  They are resting on the counter in the kitchen, so they can dry out some more before going into the 'cheese cave'. 

This was our first go at brie cheese and it went well, I think.  We will know better in 10-15 days.  The only problem we had, per se, was the fact that there were not enough holes in the small brie molds that we made so the whey didn't drain quickly.  Thus, we ended up with 4 rather flat mini-bries and one regular sized 7 inch wheel (oh boo-hoo!).  Michael will add more holes to the molds for the next go around in a 2 weeks or so.

Without further ado (drum roll, please) - here they are resting comfortably--

Friday, March 8, 2013

Whole Lotta Baking Going On!

The past two days, I have been baking bread like a maniac, getting ready for next week. 

Wednesday, I baked our usual weekly loaf of Peter Reinhart's 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread.  This has become our go-to bread for breakfast toast. We like the wheaty flavor and the hearty texture of this bread.  It holds up well against the peanut butter and homemade orange marmalade.

Yesterday, I prepared a sourdough starter for San Joaquin Sourdough Bread (recipe on http://www.thefreshloaf.com)  I also set up a starter for some Sourdough Oat Bread, a recipe a friend gave to me that I recently converted to weight measures in grams.  Here's the recipe for the Sourdough Oat Bread, makes two nice loaves of bread.  You will see I made several changes after baking this bread.  I didn't like the pronounced flavor of baking soda in the bread and am going to eliminate it from the mix in my next batch.  It made the bread taste like biscuits.  That's not a bad flavor but not one I like for an oat bread - I'd rather taste the oats than biscuit.

Sourdough Orange Oat Bread(weights)

300 g sourdough starter at 100% hydration (4-6 hours before making bread, mix 50g starter with 125g water and 125g bread flour, leave at room temp 4-6 hours)

478g warm milk

336g warm water

8g active dry yeast

21g salt

8g diastatic malt powder  85g  (1/4 cup) honey

68g vegetable oil

18g baking soda butter, melted

176g whole wheat flour

160g 260g rolled oats (not instant)

900g   800g bread flour

zest of one large orange

1 egg + 1 TBSP water (eggwash)

extra rolled oats for the top of the bread

Prep: Mix all but white flour in a large bowl. Will foam up - allow to sit in covered bowl for 1 hr.
Stir down, and begin adding white flour, 1c at a time, and beat in well.
When stiff enough to handle, knead 6-10 min until smooth & elastic. Place in oiled bowl, cover with cotton towel. Allow to rise until doubled(about 1 hour at 74F).
{punch down, rise to double again}--I skipped this step
Grease 8” loaf pans - shape and make 2 loaves, allow to rise final time (about 1 hour) until nearly doubled. Top w/beaten egg + 1tbsp water, brush on loaf, sprinkle with oats
Bake in preheated 350F oven 50-60 minutes, turn after 20 if hot spot/oven warrants.
Turn out of pan, cool 30-40 min on rack.

Here are the loaves -

The crumb of the bread was light and fluffy -

I'll make this again, but I'm going to eliminate the baking soda, add more oats, and add honey and some orange zest to jazz up the flavor.

Today, I finally got to bake the San Joaquin Sourdough Bread that had been hibernating in the fridge overnight.  I shaped the loaf and allowed it to rise about 1 hour before baking.  The loaf is half Sonora White Wheat flour from Eatwell Farm in Dixon, California and half home-milled hard red winter wheat flour (wheatberries from Walton Mills).  The bread had great oven spring.  I can't wait to cut into it and see what the crumb is like.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Need More Bread!

After being away from home for a week, it's good to be back, even if I did have a great time at my niece's wedding and had a long and relaxing visit with my sister in New Jersey. 

Now it's time to make more bread.  We were almost completely out of bread.  Yesterday, I made some whole wheat bread for toasting.  Today, I'm working on sourdough bread for soups.  The recipe I use for sourdough is from the website The Fresh Loaf, and is called San Joaquin Sourdough.  I played with the recipe somewhat, using 200g whole wheat flour and 250g of Eatwell Sonora wheat along with the 50g of rye flour.  It will be a hearty loaf for sure. 

It was also time to refresh the sourdough starter I keep in the fridge.  I did that and also used a bit of the starter leftover from the San Joaquin bread to make more starter for a sourdough oat breakfast bread recipe that was given to me by a friend.  I want to try this bread recipe out and see if I can weigh my ingredients as I go to get a more reliable recipe. 

All fun bread games and tasty too!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Simple Diet - Soup and Bread

Since receiving a weekly box of fruit and veggies from Eatwell Farm, our diet has changed dramatically.  We are eating seasonally, locally and more simply.

Many of our lunches on a winter's day consist of soup, bread, cheese and perhaps a salad.  Today, I made a large pot of what we call 'Grammie Soup'.  It's basically an Italian minestra (not to be confused with minestrone).  This week's box from Eatwell contained spinach, mustard greens, leeks, collard greens and kale, all good soup ingredients.  I added some broth leftover from our great haggis experiment as a base along with some mild Italian sausage, celery, onion, carrots and spaghetti broken into noodle size lengths.  A flavorful soup was the result.  We will be enjoying the soup with some homemade sourdough bread or a slice of rye topped with melted Jarlsburg cheese.

In the morning I had set up a soaker and wild yeast starter for 100% whole wheat sandwich bread from Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads book.  After the soaker and starter sat at room temperature for about 6 hours, I finished building the bread dough using some freshly milled flour from my store of hard red winter wheatberries along with a cup and a half or so of Sonora wheat flour milled by Eatwell Farm.  The combination produced a fragrant loaf of whole wheat bread that rose well to fill the bread pan and has a light texture and crumb.  We love this bread in the morning, toasted and then topped with homemade preserves or orange marmalade (Seville oranges also thanks to Eatwell Farm).  A soft-boiled pastured egg from Eatwell rounds out the breakfast along with a cup of tea.

Simple foods but oh so nourishing because they are made with local ingredients at home in our own kitchen.  It also means we know what's in our food and from whence it comes. We appreciate the work that Nigel Walker and his farmers have put into growing the crops and caring for the chickens.

Thank you, Eatwell Farm.