Tag Archives: butter

What is that?! How to try a new vegetable

Novelty is the spice of life. Oh wait, that’s variety. Well, I like novelty..

Step 1: Walk inside a grocery store, bodega or your favorite market.

Step 2: Spot a piece of produce that makes your brain itch with curiosity. In this case: this delightfully geometric vegetable next to the cauliflower.

Face-off: cauliflower vs romanesco. Winter is here (in other words, these are in season).
Magic sauce: also known as butter and some other stuff.

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What CAN you eat off the ground?

Forest Fire Fruit: Morels!

Morels, with their buddy thyme.
Morels, with their buddy thyme.

I was lucky enough to score some wild-foraged morels from my friend Tesia, after she came back from a good weekend of collecting them. Apparently, her s.o. even maps out last year’s forest fires to track where good spots to find some morel treasure. It definitely peaked my interest, especially after a stint earlier in the year at a local community garden prepping for summer, when we found a morel poking out through the cardboard laid over a garden patch for winter. No- I didn’t eat it, my fellow volunteers warned me it was ‘a city mushroom,’ with unknown consequences. Even NPR did a segment on it.

From Northern California to Alaska, commercial and amateur mushroom hunters will be scouring hills that were ravaged by fires last summer and fall. Their prey? Morel mushrooms.
“Sometimes we call it ‘chasing the burns,’ ” mushroom enthusiast Kevin Sadlier says, in search of the black morel mushrooms that grow in the springtime after a forest fire.
After Fires In West, Mushroom Hunters ‘Chase The Burn’

Apologies, much of the ingredients are amounts “to taste,” and I was trying to track too many things so don’t have any exact times on here. The Serious Eats article did not specify times either.

Now, a rare medium on this blog thus far: a video.*

Ingredients:
Morels from your friend, the mushroom-gatherer (or from your friend at the farmer’s market)
1/2 onion, minced (alternatives: garlic, shallots, minced)
High heat oil for pan
Butter, about 1 pat
soy sauce, 1 Tbs (or less, to taste)
lemon juice, 1 tsp (to taste)
chicken stock, 1 Tbs (or less, to taste)
optional: chives, minced
salt & pepper, to taste

Optional but very useful supply:

pastry brush (or in my case, an extra toothbrush from my travels, because my pastry brush is silicone and the bristles would have been too big) Continue Reading

Wild Rice Soup

Dear Reader,

I staged another upo squash battle, so stay tuned for another installment of the upo trials soon. But for now…

Here’s a first for the blog: a recipe trial based off a magnet! Specifically this one, which I bought from my home state long ago and always meant to use. With Autumn in full swing, the slight chill in the Pacific Northwest air puts me in mind of the Midwest Fall, with its brilliant, last-ditch burst of colors before the real cold sets in. With that, comes the impulse to make hot mulled cider (which I brought to spectate a Spartan Race the other weekend), and making tons of soup.

Nothing quite like a fridge magnet to remind you of your roots.

You will note there are some vague parts in this recipe, like, you can use 10 slices of bacon, OR and indeterminate amount of chicken. Continue Reading

Herbed Butter

Some of you may be wondering why there hasn’t been a post in a while. Maybe one of you is wondering what happened with the spiralizer you loaned me, or what I ate on vacation in South America. Ooops, sorry, I’ve been busy seizing life by the throat and shaking it around. I do plan on recapping both those topics soon, but in honor of low maintenance recipes, herbed butter:

From Food52’s “Five Ways to Flavor Your Butter with Fresh Herbs,” I thought I wouldn’t use it a lot since I don’t eat toast much, but this little jar of deliciousness turned out to be a nice bonus to put on roast chicken, a green onion pancake egg sandwich, in a microwaved sweet potato at work, and anything else with a spreadable surface!

I used a tiny jam jar from a great wedding i went to, which was the perfect low commitment trial amount. I highly recommend trying out different flavor combos like in the article until it hits your taste buds just right.

Stick with the basics!
Stick with the basics!

Herbed Butter

Ingredients
2 Tbs unsalted butter
10 sprigs fresh thyme
1Tbs honey
Salt (to taste)

Steps

  1. Set butter out to warm to room temperature.
  2. Rinse and pat dry the thyme, removing stems.
  3. Once butter is warm enough to stir awkwardly, mix in thyme, honey and a dash of salt to taste.
  4. Serve immediately, or store in fridge at eye level for maximum usage.

Gift storage note from Food 52: “To gift or store the butter, dollop the flavored butter down the middle of a sheet of parchment paper. Using a straightedge, form the butter into a cylinder and roll the paper over it so that it keeps its shape. You can store it in the freezer for up to 6 months, slicing off coins of butter as needed.”

Herbed Butter

Today’s Trial Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating:
 4 of 5 stars.
It’s not a 5 only because i wouldn’t eat it on its own.
Likelihood of Repeat: 75%
prolly going to add this to my repertoire of edible gifts, for those I’m not worried abouy fattening up.
Lesson Learned: Do not underestimate the power of butter. Also: this will be a great way to use the herbs growing in my spring garden while also trimming them to grow bushier.

Pasta alla Carbonara

I needed to whip up a nice backdrop for an easy but satisfying Sunday night dinner with a treat of seared scallops.* I had turkey bacon and egg on hand, and picked up some bucatini.

This one from Nook and Pantry has been sitting at the ‘bottom’ of my Evernote recipe box for a while, since the first time I tried my hand at carbonara with pancetta my arteries could hardly take it. However, turkey bacon took some of the punch out of it (so I could swap it out for butter & olive oil for the scallops).

Pasta alla Carbonara
+Optional Turkey Downgrade

Makes 2 servings for some one trying not to gorge, but only if you pack half of it away for the next day before you start eating.

Ingredients:
Approximately 2 slices of thick-cut turkey bacon, sliced into 1/4 inch wide strips, chopped
1 eggs, beaten
1 ounce finely grated parmesan (or pecorino romano)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces bucatini

Steps:

  1. Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until it is crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a piece of paper towel.
  2. Bring a large pot of water, salted generously, to a boil for the pasta. Cook pasta according to package instructions, until it is al dente.
  3. Temper the egg thus: with one hand beat the egg and with the other slowly drizzle approximately 1/8 cup of hot pasta water with a measuring scoop or cup into the egg mixture. Set aside.
  4. Before draining the pasta, set aside about 1/4 cup of the boiling pasta water to loosen the pasta if needed.
  5. Quick! When the pasta is al dente, drain the pasta then return back into the hot pot. Keep the pot off heat. The residual heat in the pot and pasta will thicken the sauce. Add the drained bacon, ground pepper, pasta and with one hand, stir pasta while pouring in the tempered egg mixture.
  6. Keep stirring to mix the cheese and egg evenly and the sauce will be thickened and silky smooth. Add a bit of the pasta water if needed.
  7. Optional: top with extra freshly ground pepper and grated cheese before serving.

Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating:
5 of 5 stars
Likelihood of Repeat: 85%
The richness is definitely toned down with turkey bacon rather than pancetta, decide for yourself if you want that or not, of course..
Lesson Learned: How did I go so long without cooking bucatini all the time? The hollow noodles give the perfect al dente chewiness! Nom nom nom nom nom. This blends well with seared scallops, too. Due to the speedy timing, it’s definitely best to have everything else you want to eat ready before you sear scallops the Alton Way.

*I recently became allergic to some shellfish. The great news is, the allergist said to keep eating scallops regularly, to help prevent my body from identifying it as a foreign body. Most enjoyable medical advice worth following, ever!

Braised Celery

My “roommate” sent me this recipe in an email, a pretty direct hint to try making it. Recipe from A Girl DeFloured

Total Time: 15 minutes
Serves 2-3

Ingredients
4 stalks of celery, scrubbed and ends trimmed (chop and reserve leaves)
2 tsp butter
Pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup of chicken stock

Steps

  1. Cut celery into 1-inch slices on the diagonal.
  2. Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add celery, along with salt and pepper and cook until it starts to become tender.
  3. Add broth, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for ~5 minutes. Uncover and cook for about 5 minutes longer, allowing the broth to reduce and caramelize a bit.
  4. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately, garnished with reserved chopped leaves.

Today’s Trial Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating: 2 of 5 stars
Likelihood of Repeat: 20%
Turned out pretty tasty but I think I’d still rather have it with a protein like chicken, and maybe peanut butter. Cooked up fast, though!
Lesson learned: I tried another portion of celery with chicken sausage, plus apple. The apple was definitely a mistake. The sausage was…never meant to be made with sage. Blegh.

Combo #2: celery, chicken sage sausage, and apple.
Combo #2: celery, chicken sage sausage, and apple.

Zucchini Panini!

You know it’s good, ‘cuz it rhymes!

If you have a panini press, or maybe even a george foreman grill, this is a nice quick sandwich with melty cheese you can munch on while wrapping gifts, baking cookies, or whatever it is you’re busy doing this month.

open-faced zucchini panini sandwich
open-faced zucchini panini sandwich

Open-faced Zucchini Sandwiches

Ingredients:
1 small zucchini, sliced into long flat pieces, lengthwise
1 piece bread, sitting around your pantry threatening to go bad eventually
2 Tbs tomato paste
1 Tbs pesto
8 one-inch flakes parmesan cheese
3-6 slices deli meat, per preference (ham, proscuitto, soppressatta, etc).
1 Tbs butter
1 dash garlic powder
1 dash fresh ground pepper
1 drizzle olive oil

Instructions:
1. Combine sandwich ingredients vertically in layers, in this order:
butter (on the bottom)
bread
tomato paste & pesto
deli meat
parmesan
zucchini spread out in one flat layer
butter
garlic powder & pepper

2. Heat panini press to hotness, apply some butter.
3. Press sandwich for 5 minutes, max.
4. Enjoy!

Today’s Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating: 4 of 5 stars.
Likelihood of Repeat: 80%
I like the idea of having vegetables in my panini, even if it is a little on the carby side. If not for my ‘roommate’, I would probably make it without the deli meat too. Provided your tomato paste or sauce is thick enough, it serves just fine as a vegetarian version. You could even skip the cheese (and butter) and it would be a decent vegan option.
Lesson Learned: It’s good to have the zucchini atop the cheese, or else the cheese will melt and burn onto the panini press for a hot mess.

Mustard Lemon Cauliflower

This is a decent weekday recipe, based on the time spent, although you don’t get to just set it in the oven and forget it until it’s done. I cut the original amount of butter with olive oil so you can pretend it’s healthier. The initial recipe is based on one from the November 2006 issue of Bon Appétit available here. You could also just use olive oil, for a lactose-free version. Stay tuned for the next post! I’ve been working on cooking up some interesting posts for y’all.

roasted butter with a little cauliflower, atop quinoa.
roasted butter with a little cauliflower atop quinoa.

Cauliflower with Mustard-Lemon Butter

Ingredients:

  • 1 small head of cauliflower (about 1 3/4 pounds)
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1-1.5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel

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Sunday Recipe: Chicken Pot Pie

As a child growing up in the Midwest with home-cooked Chinese food for dinner, microwave dinners were some kind of marvelous space food I’d get to eat on special occasions (see: babysitter). Among those dinners, the best option often seemed to be the chicken pot pie, which could be easily popped in the toaster oven for a satisfying belly-sticking meal in a tin pan. Years later I picked up a recipe magazine based purely on the delectable-looking chicken pot pie on the front. I think it was a Reader’s Digest. Anyway, it seemed like such a novel and miraculous opportunity to learn to make pot pie, it has found an honored place in my recipe Dropbox files, usually only brought out to make something even better out of Thanksgiving turkey leftovers.

Fast forward to Labor Day weekend, and some old friends are in town and have made a special request for chicken pot pie. When good friends you haven’t seen in a years ask for pot pie, then you make pot pie.
Good thing I ended up with three great sous chefs to keep things rolling that Sunday..

Chicken Pot Pie
Based originally on ..a Reader’s Digest recipe
Serves 4
Prep time: 50 min
Total time: ~.5 hrs prep + 1.5 hr + chilling (approx. 35 min chilling 2x)

Ingredients:
4 Tbs unsalted butter
1 medium onion, cut into medium dice
2-3 large carrots, cut into medium dice
1/2 c all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface (whole wheat flour works fine too)
coarse salt & pepper
4 c low-sodium chicken broth (or veggie stock)
3 c cooked chicken, cut into 1-inch pieces (1 lb total)
1 c frozen peas
1.5 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves (or .75 tsp dried thyme)
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 large egg yolk
Optional: garlic powder, random italian seasonings

Steps:
1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium. Add onion and carrot and cook until onion softens, about 6 minutes. Add flour and 1/2 tsp salt; cook, stirring frequently, until mixture is pale golden, has a slightly nutty aroma, and is the texture of cooked oatmeal, about 5 minutes.
2. Whisking constantly, add broth. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens, about 8 minutes. Reduce to a simmer and cook 10 minutes. Stir in chicken, peas and thyme; season with salt and pepper (optional: garlic powder and italian seasoning). Divide mixture among four 12-ounce baking dishes; refrigerate until room temperature, about 20 minutes. Try to fill the dishes as full as possible to help support the dough on time so it gets a chance to rise. In the case of this last time I made pot pie, the baking dishes with filling were put in a cooler with ice and transported for the ~30 minutes to a friend’s house before continuing to the next step.

Thanks to sous chef K for speedy packing of baking dishes in a cooler to get on the road, and sous chefs A and J for all the chopping.
Saute, saute, stir, stir, chill. Thanks to sous chef K for speedy packing of baking dishes in a cooler to get on the road, and sous chefs A and J for all the chopping.

2.5 Optional step: get to your friend’s house and realize you forgot the puff pastry, half the group heads to the store to buy some more. :p
3. Preheat oven to 375 F. On a lightly floured work surface, roll pastry to an 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into 4 equal squares, 1 inch larger than dishes; with the tip of a sharp knife, cut vents into pastry. In a small bowl, lightly beat egg yolk with 1 tsp water; top potpies with pastry and brush with egg wash.
4. Refrigerate 15 minutes.
Chill, top with dough and egg wash, chill more, and bake. Also shown: random ingredients in leftover puff pastry by sous chefs.
Chill, top with dough and egg wash, chill more, and bake. Also shown: random ingredients in leftover puff pastry by sous chefs.

5. Bake until pastry is deep golden and juices are bubbling, about 35-45 minutes. It can be useful to put a wide dish underneath to catch any accidental overflow.
6. When serving, be sure to warn people the pot pie is very hot.

Careful, it's piping hot to the tongue!
Careful, it’s piping hot to the tongue!

7. Take a food coma nap.

Top: all done! This pie was split between two people and still plenty filling. Bottom: sous chef  posing with post-dinner asleep chef. Zzzz.
Top: all done! This pie was split between two people and still plenty filling. Bottom: sous chef posing with post-dinner asleep chef. Zzzz. I found this photo on my phone later after I woke up.

Today’s Trial Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating: 1.5 of 5 stars.
As mentioned, I usually only make this about once a year after Thanksgiving, so on that note, it’s a bit novel.
Likelihood of Repeat: 100%
It’s quite a bit of work, which is partly why I use pre-made puff pastry instead of dough from scratch. However, all that care and attention only makes it more worth eating.

Lesson Learned: You will never have leftovers from this, unless you keep the filling separate from the dough and don’t bake it. Also, you can make whatever design you want when cutting slits in the top of the dough. Exercising the patience for full refrigeration time is pretty key to making sure the crust doesn’t get soggy and collapse, and having moderately shallow baking dishes gives you a good crust-to-filling ratio. Don’t be afraid to use more vegetables.
A variant to try later: putting crust underneath the filling too, per my friend S____________’s requests. Comment here if you’ve done this!