Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cipollini and Mushroom Tart

The first time I ever had cipollini onions was the year we did a whole Martha Stewart Living Thanksgiving dinner. I was in charge of some of the side dishes and so became introduced to the lovely little cipollini. Normally, I'm not one to wax poetic about onions. They have their place but they're not a star on their own. These were. Pardon the pun, but they were gobbled up. Every last one of them.

This is not that recipe.

When I find it again, I'll definitely add it here. In the meantime, this dish sounded really really good. It's autumn after all, and my thoughts are turning to onions and mushrooms and other earthy delights...
Updated this to include links to these Martha Stewart onion recipes...
These all sound great and would no doubt taste good too. If the recipe I made was one of these, it was probably the Pan-Roasted Balsamic recipe. Don't quote me on that though. I can't be sure until I make it again!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Roasted Veg & Creamy Polenta

Notes: Made this for a potluck. Twelve people. Tripled the polenta, ended up with a little left over. Used real butter and real cream cheese. The polenta was kind of firm, not so creamy. Maybe too high of heat? Too long of cooking time? Checked other recipes after and they all call for more liquid. That's got to be it. Tasted good though. Def needed the salt to give it any flavor. Next time stir in some Parmesan or other cheese. 

The veg shrunk down quite a bit, but had plenty. Some took longer to cook than others so I made up one pan for the fast cookers and one pan for the slow. Bell peppers took the longest to cook (and were the most expensive! who knew?). Zucchini cooked the fastest. Don't cut the zucchini so thin next time. If they're small, cut in to spears instead of slices. Try sprinkling on a little balsamic at the end for more flavor.

Vegetables I used:

  • 5 sm zucchini (cut into lengthwise strips)
  • 5 slender carrots (cut in half, length and width-wise)
  • 2 sm red onions (cut into eighths)
  • 2 lg red bell peppers (cut into large strips)
  • 2 pkg mushrooms (left whole)
  • green beans (ends trimmed)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sourdough (Blueberry) Pancakes

Sourdough Pancakes with Blueberries, page 54, Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library: Breakfasts & Brunches, 1997

Notes: I didn't have any blueberries, and while the recipe does say that you can use bananas, mine are so ripe that they're good only for banana bread (actually they're great for that!). There was a small bag of strawberries in the freezer though, so I thawed them out and used them instead. The recipe says it makes 12 pancakes, I got 10. Close enough. They don't taste as sourdough-y as the other ones I've made recently, and
they cooked up more like regular pancakes as well. These probably don't use as much starter. I can't see going to the extra trouble of making these when they are so much like "regular" pancakes. Will try them again though for confirmation.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Whole-Citrus Vinaigrette

Don't be fooled by the color, these are lemons...The flavors in this salad dressing recipe bring to my mind the words "sunshine" and "summer". Not exactly sure why. Citrus fruits are actually a winter crop, and their bright bursting flavors are the perfect foil for all those hearty winter foods that we tend to prefer during the cold months.

But what about spring and autumn? Citrus flavors are complimentary to the foods we eat at those times also. Indeed, citrus flavors seem to be at home in any season. Perhaps growing up in the southwest (longer growing season, virtually no winter) is what makes me think of citrus as season-less. Now that I live farther north, I am more aware of the seasonality of things (and the cost of buying things out of season). Thankfully, I'm a quick learner and don't require annual snowfall in order to gain this valuable awareness.

As you can imagine, I was delighted to learn that Meyer lemons bear fruit year round. I'd never even heard of a Meyer lemon before I moved here. A lemon was a lemon. A Eureka lemon to be exact. Well, my little dwarf Meyer lemon tree on the patio now has a dozen or so golf ball sized green fruits on it and is still pumping out flowers. The blossoms smell insanely sweet and my mind reels at the thought of thousands of full grown potted citrus trees inside the Orangerie at Versailles* circa 18th century France. It must've been intoxicating. Yep, it's good to be the king (at least until the peasants find out what you've been up too).

Just reading this very simple salad dressing recipe from the Napa Style website made my mouth water. Add some grilled chicken to either of these salads and call it dinner (whatever the season).
*Read more about the history of orangeries. Check out this flickr slideshow for views inside the Versailles Orangerie, then go to this web page for some great photos of the Parterre Sud (south garden in front of the Orangerie) where the trees live during the more temperate times of the year. Lucky trees. I do wonder how they managed before the forklift was invented though. Oh, and just in case you were curious... what the heck is a parterre?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Baked Pear Pancake with Gingered Maple Syrup

I have a love/hate thing going with pears. At their very best, they are juicy, sandy and honey sweet; still the littlest bit firm and yet ever-so-slightly soft at the same time. They are unlike any other fruit. However, identifying their peak perfect point for consumption is something that eludes me. I always seem to get to them too early when they're rock hard; or too late when they've gone soft. Like with a mushy apple, I feel utterly disappointed after biting into one of those. You don't want to go on eating it, but you don't want to waste it either, so you soldier on and are that much more suspicious of the next one you try. Once bitten, twice shy.

This is the perfect dish to make if you're pear-anoid like me. Or should that be pear-annoyed? (Bad pun either way, I know. I'm so sorry.) The pears are cut up into pieces and cooked in a big pancake. There's no fussing over whether they're "perfect" or not. They are in the supporting cast, not a starring role. True, they have more lines than, say, the flour, milk or butter; but there's no star on their dressing room door. No entourage. No fawning fans.

If anything is the star in this show, I'm thinking it's got to be the Gingered Maple Syrup that I haven't tried yet. We just never seem to have real maple syrup on hand when I want to make this recipe. And unless prices come down, I won't be trying it anytime soon either. Maple syrup used to be a staple, a given, a no-brainer. Now, it's a total luxury item, right up there with caviar and cashmere socks. Maybe I'll put it on my Christmas list. Then, if Santa comes through, we could make this dish for brunch the day after Christmas. Now that would be perfect.

  • Baked Pear Pancake with Gingered Maple Syrup, page 125 of Gourmet's Quick Kitchen, 1996

Notes: As I was about to slice open the lemon before juicing it, I thought "why waste the zest?", so I zested it into the flour mixture first. Made a lovely addition. Subtle, but lovely.