Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Well hello, stranger!

I regret that I haven’t written much over the past two years. I never wanted to stop writing, and actually I sat down to the computer to start an entry several times. My photo folder in drop box is full of pictures of food that I loved making, food that I shared with people I love, and that I meant to share with all of you! My journey in food has taken me from summer, to Korean food, to hearty soups, to Middle Eastern food, and back to summer. Quite the backlog of deliciousness. So let’s dish.


Each summer, like millions that came before me, I feel obligated to celebrate the *Tomato* (cue angelic music, light shining down from the heavens). I don’t make too many dishes centered totally around tomatoes, mainly because my partner in crime, the Lamb King (LK) doesn’t like them much. They go unappreciated by his delicate palate. But I love the acidity, the juiciness, the color, the flavor, just about everything about the glorious Tomato. I love them raw, I love them cooked, I love them baked, I love them stuffed, I love them in a sauce, I love them. This summer, I did not shirk my obligations. And, I got some pretty little heirlooms in my farm box, to boot!

Enter: the Tomato Pie, savory, colorful, filling. Gorgeous.

I know I cheated. I didn’t roll out pastry dough. I didn’t use a tart pan. I even…well, some things a girl doesn’t tell. But it tasted good. It looked good. And even LK enjoyed a slice or two of my Tomato Pie.

2 pie crusts
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 lbs heirloom tomatoes
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used cheddar and mozzarella, I think gruyere would be awesome)
1/2 cup mayo
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
handful of chopped fresh parsley
chopped thyme to taste
chopped chives
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375. Thaw frozen pie crusts, and bake for about 15 minutes to partially bake it before filling.

Slice the heirloom tomatoes, lay on towels, and salt them for 15 minutes to draw out the moisture.

Caramelize onions in the olive oil (the real way, it takes way longer than everyone says). When they've cooled a bit, mix in a bowl with cheese, mayo, breadcrumbs, herbs, salt and pepper. Spread a thin layer on bottom of each pie crust. Layer with tomatoes. Spread another layer of mixture, followed by a top layer of the best looking tomatoes. Try to evenly divide all of it as much as possible as you go. Bake until tomatoes are cooked through, about 45 minutes. Then try to wait until it's cooled off enough before you dig in.  

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A good little Korean girl

So per my last post, I've been craving Korean food. I've been going out to Korean restaurants, buying kimchee which I'm delighted to have in my Safeway, and generally gorging myself on the salty delights that typically appear on a Korean dinner table.

I was also inspired by my good friend Katie, who really challenged herself during a food blog competition to make something near and dear to my heart and stomach, bibimbap. She was tasked with making a dish that represented a new culture to her, and she chose Korean food! She also made bulgogi, which I think of as the quintessential Korean entree. I'm really proud of her, and though I didn't get to try it I'm willing to bet money that it was delicious. Katie's a fabulous cook.

While I was searching for recipes for Katie, I kept coming across recipes for oi sobaegi (cucumber) kimchee. I couldn't believe how easy it looked! I had most of the ingredients already in my pantry, so I decided to do a little experimenting of my own. The result was great oi sobaegi kimchee, but a little stinky in my fridge. Next time I'll need to triple bag the jar before I put it in!

So today when I was thinking about lunch I decided to pull some favorites out of the fridge and make a delicious Korean fall meal. The result: Miso soup with meaty chinese mushrooms, leafy greens tossed in spicy pepper paste (gochu), anchovies stir fried in gochu, soy sauce and sugar, pickled sweet radish (taquan), and of course, cucumber kimchee. Now here I sit, stuffed to the brim after a lunch that would make my grandmother proud, make my grandfather hungry, and give my mom a headache because of all the salt!!!

Oi kimchee:

10 Korean, pickling or kirby cucumbers*, with ends sliced off
1/4 cup salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup kochukaru (Korean chili pepper)
1/2 cup Asian chives, cut into 1 inch pieces (I used regular chives, or you can use green onions)
1/4 cup fish sauce or liquid from brined sauce
1/3 cup shredded carrots
2 Tbsp sugar

Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise, leaving on end in tact. Rotate and cut again lengthwise, so you have four sections of the cucumber connected at the bottom. Fill a large bowl with water and dissolve the salt in it. Soak the cucumbers for 30 minutes. In the meantime, mix all other ingredients in a bow.. After 30 minutes, stuff each of the cucumbers with the mixture (there will be some leftover) and pack tightly into a glass container. Be sure to find a container that will hold all of the cucumbers but won't have too much space when full. Then put about a cup of water in the bowl that the mixture was in and dissolve the rest of the mixture. Dump that over the cucumbers, seal up the container (has to be air-tight), and keep it at roomtemp at least overnight. I kept it out for 2 days because I like my kimchee sour!!!

This is all that was left of my lunch:

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Asian tour

Lately I've been craving asian foods. Anything. Whether it's the familiar Korean home cooking, a spicy noodle soup, or a nice curry that warms the tummy, I have been devouring all kinds. And I couldn't be happier!!! Of course I've been eating kimchee with ALL of it!!!

It all started with a tiny green eggplant. I spotted them in a farmer's market in Delaware. Kermit eggplants, as they're apparently called, are a frequent ingredient in thai curries, so I thought I'd give it a try. Turns out thai curry is incredibly easy to make.

Gaeng Gai

3 cups water
3-5 sprigs basil
2 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 medium onion, sliced
1/2 lb eggplant
1/4 cup bamboo shoots
1 tbsp curry paste or 2 tbsp curry powder
1 cup coconut milk (can use low fat)
1 chicken breast, thin slices

cook onions until soft, remove from pan. Add chicken to pan, until barely cooked. Add onions back in, half of coconut milk, and curry. Stir until everything is combined. Add in rest of coconut milk, water, fish sauce, eggplant, bamboo shoots. simmer until curry has desired thickness. The longer it simmers, the thicker it will get. Add basil at the last minute, quickly stirring in to preserve color. Serve with rice.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Way to This Woman's Heart

Oh, guys. I just polished off a 1.25 pound, fire-grilled lobster drenched in garlic butter at the Barking Crab in Boston, the city that will become our new home at the end of the year. Husband looked on with a mixture of love, awe, and disgust as I sent butter, cracked shell, and juices flying all over the place in my attempt to dig out every last morsel of meat.

If he was baiting me, it worked. Hook, line, and sinker.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Blueberries with Barbados Cream

I'm indebted to Nigella Lawson's grandmother. Not only is she a crucial link in Nigella's existence on this very Earth, but she also handed down a simple recipe for creme brulee's lighter, less assuming cousin, which costars in this perfect ending to a summer meal.

Blueberries and Barbados Cream
Serves 4

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup Greek/strained yogurt
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 cups blueberries

The night before (or morning of) your dinner, combine the cream and yogurt in a mixing bowl and whisk until thick but not stiff. Scrape into a shallow serving bowl about 8 inches in diameter and sprinkle with enough brown sugar to cover the top of the mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 8–24 hours. When you're ready to serve, bring the cream to room temperature and dollop over blueberries.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Famous Duos

Lamb and mint. Like Boris & Natasha, bourbon & ginger, and pink & gray in the 80s, they just belong together. Nothing really beats mint jelly, but in the summer, I like to take advantage of fresher offerings and make a mint pesto to slather on my lamb.

This recipe calls for roasted lamb loin chops, which I like because they provide a controlled, little portion of meat (and fat!) to have with a heaping salad. I usually eat just one, but if you're having friends over, plate two per person.

Or even better, if you're luckier than we are and have a grill, get a big rack of lamb rib chops and fire 'em up.
Summer cooking at its finest.

Roasted Lamb Chops with Mint-Pistachio Pesto
Serves 4

3 cups packed mint leaves
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup pistachios, shelled
half a zucchini, grated
8 small lamb loin chops, about 2 pounds total
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil

To make the pesto, combine mint and garlic in a food processor. Run it while slowly pouring olive oil through the tube until pesto reaches desired consistency. Add pistachios and run processor for another 15-20 seconds. Stir in the grated zucchini.

Preheat oven to 375°. Score the fat of the lamb to prevent curling and season the chops with salt and pepper. Heat a heavy, oven-proof pan over high heat, and add oil, heating until it ripples slightly when pan is shaken. Working in two batches, sear all sides of the lamb. Remove from heat and coat chops with pesto. Move pan to oven and cook until the meat's internal temperature reaches 145° for medium-rare, or 160° for medium, about 12–15 minutes.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Summer Love

Dear Summer, never end. Yours for life, Sarah.

My love for the season runs deep. For instance, I'm sweating my ass off as I write this, having just returned from the farmers' market, but you won't hear me complain because I'm too busy crushing on the bounty that awaits me in the kitchen. I plan to treat it well, making the most simple of meals that highlight these veggies, fruits, and herbs in their glorious, ripe state. The less cooking the better.

One of our favorite meals this season combines a beautifully basic Greek salad—which I learned to make on the island Amorgos—and roasted lamb loin chops with mint-pistachio pesto, finished off with cool blueberries topped with a dollop of Barbados cream. This menu is equally perfect for company and the weekly rotation.

Over the next few days, I'll post recipes for each dish. I'm starting with the Greek salad, which made Husband rethink his stance on salads altogether.

Greek Salad
makes 4 side dishes

Cut two riper-than-ripe tomatoes into wedges and slice a large green pepper into thin rings. Slice a cucumber thinly. If you'd like, dice up about 1/4 cup of red onion. Mix the veggies together with Kalamata olives and drizzle with a generous helping of olive oil, then some red wine vinegar. Season with salt and your choice of dried oregano (about 1 tsp) or fresh dill (about 2 tbsp).* Then, the best part: top with a big tangy, salty slab of Feta and eat!

*Or, if you're Virginia and like neither herb, try mint.