Friday, December 30, 2005

Savory Challah

Savory Challah
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
Holla! - Is what I say before, during and after all Challah related experiences. So here's a Hannukah challah
to all.

Due to my career with the 7 and unders, I'm home all week on vacation with plenty of energy for some serious kitchen experimentation. We needed a savory bread for our New Year's dinner tomorrow, and I wanted to bake some Challah beacuase I like to hear myself talk (see above) and because I'm constantly working to compensate for my ethnic deficiencies in my ardent quest to be a good Jewish mother. And so- the Savory Challah was born.

First I Sauteed:
(in about a tablespoon of olive oil)
3 cloves of garlic
1/4 Cup white onion
Pinch salt
Pinch of fresh rosemary

Then I mixed:
1/2 Cup warm water
2 1/2 packages yeast
1 Tablespoon sugar

And let it sit until it was foamy (about 5-8 mins.)

During which I mixed:
Three whole eggs and 1 egg white
2/3 Cup water
1/2 Cup olive oil
1/3 Cup sugar
1 Teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon lemon honey (any honey will work- it's for sweetness in the new year)

And I added the garlic mixture and the yeast mixture.

And then I added about 6-7 Cups of white flour, one cup at a time. (Toward the end, just adding the flour becomes the kneading process) I removed the dough when it was smooth and elastic, and placed it in an olive-oiled bowl.

And I let it rise for about an hour (until it was BIG-you can just tell). I turned on the oven to 200 and left the door open for a while to give the bread a toasty enviroment in which to grow. Do not do this if you have a gas oven- it will not work out well for you!

I punched down the dough and let it rise for another half hour. Then I seperated it into two sections, and braided one section (out of three ropes) and twisted the other into a snail (pictured). Each loaf got it's own oiled baking sheet.

Then I went to physical therapy and let the dough rise for too long (thirty minutes would have been enough).

When I got home I reshaped my bread loaves a bit (so that the braiding/snail shell lines would be defined), brushed them (liberally) with a wash of one egg yoke and a Tablespoon of water, and placed baby rosemary sprigs all over their tops.

Then I baked them- first at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes, the at 350 for about 30 more (until they were both very brown). I switched their positions (top rack to bottom and vice versa) twice during the baking time, so that each loaf would get it's due time in the electric sun.

And then I put them on rack to cool, picked up Greg, and got major girlfriend points. And said "Holla!" about 20 times. (I think he's too in love to care).

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Humboldt Fog and Biscuits

Humboldt Fog and Biscuits 1
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
This morning, as I awoke, I was surprised (and pleased) to find a plate full of biscuits on my side table. Antonia got up before me and made me one of my favorite breakfasts - biscuits. Its a very simple breakfast, but Antonia makes the best biscuits I have ever had, so the simplicity does not take anything away from breakfast.

Yesterday, Antonia and I went into the East Bay to purchase a coffee table at Ikea and while in the neighborhood of Berkeley decided to lunch in our old digs. The plan was to go to A.G. Ferrari and Beanery, but much to the dismay of my bagel-loving girlfriend, Beanery was out of bagels. Just before the out-of-bagels incident at Beanery, we went in to A.G. Ferrari next door to get my lunch - the Siciliano sandwich (a roasted vegetable sandwich with ricotta salata on a seeded roll). While they were making my sandwich, I noticed the cheese case - the same cheese case that introduced me to smoked gouda and St. Andre. Today the cheese that caught my eye was the wheel of Humboldt Fog - a goat cheese made by Mary Keehn of Cypress Grove Chevre in McKinleyville, CA. This is by far the best goat cheese that I have tasted outside of France, where I was lucky enough to buy some fresh chevre for a train ride at the farmer's market in Carcassonne. It has a nicely moldy rind and some vegetable ash in the middle. It is named Humboldt Fog due to the color - which apparently resembles the color of the fog in Humboldt, CA.

Skip to lunch today - I put the two wonderful foods together. Lunch was Humboldt Fog and biscuits. Basically perfection on a plate.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Satsuma Cake

Satsuma Cake
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
I was reading Slashfood a few days ago and came across a picture of this cake made by someone else. I had never heard of Clementine Cake before, but the picture and the attached description made it sound delicious (not Anyway, I clicked through and found out that it was a Nigella Lawson recipe. Antonia had told me about Nigella before, and coming from such a reputable source, I figured that Nigella may have something to offer. Boy was I right.

We ended up making the cake out of Satsuma oranges (mandarins) instead of clementines becuase those are what we had. I did have to run out to get the ground almond meal that gives the cake its structure. Well, here's the recipe - I hear that it can be made with any citrus - let me know if anyone tries it with another fruit.

Clementine Cake by Nigella

4-5 clementines(about 1 lb)
6 eggs
1 c plus 2 tbs sugar
2 and 1/3 c. ground almond meal/flour
1 heaping tsp baking powder

Put the clementines in a pot of water and bring to a boil for about 2 hrs. (We did 1.5 hrs and it turned out great!) Take out the little green stem parts and put into a blender or food processor. Pulse to liquify. Add in the rest of the ingredients and pulse to blend, or like we did, pour liquified orange pulp into a mixing bowl and whisk in the rest of the ingerdients.

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Butter (or margarine) a 8in springform pan and line with parchment or wax paper (and butter that as well). Pour in batter and bake for 1hr. Like in the original recipe, we put an aluminum foil hat on the cake for the last 20 minutes - it was getting pretty dark.

Well, enjoy this picture, enjoy the cake. Please let me know what works and what doesn't - one day I hope to make this cake in at least 3 flavors and serve them all on one plate.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Peanut Tofu

Peanut Tofu
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
This dish was made by special request today. Antonia wasn't feeling well today, so I stayed home to make sure she had everything that she needed. At around 11:30, she announced one final need before noon: peanut tofu.

I had invented peanut tofu a few months back, when trying to find something to do with a shallot and some peanut butter. Today, just like back then, I poured and mixed until I got the consistency I was looking for, so I will do my best to reproduce what I did.

Peanut Tofu.

1 block of firm tofu, pressed to remove excess water then cubed.
1 shallot, finely chopped.
1/2 c peanut butter.
1/2 c soy sauce.
1/4 c white vinegar.
2 tbs brown sugar.
2 tbs water.
olive oil for sauteeing shallots.
red pepper flakes to taste.

Heat a saucepan to medium high heat with a tablespoon of olive oil. Add in the shallots, and sautee until browned. Turn down heat to medium. Add in the red pepper flake.
Once the shallots are browned, add in the liquid ingredients, then stir in the peanut butter. If the sauce seems too thick, add in more water.

Into a very hot sautee pan I added the cubed tofu. After giving it a few minutes and a few tosses in the pan, I added in the peanut sauce and turned down the pan to medium. The peanut sauce and the tofu were left together to let the sauce soak into the tofu a little bit. I stirred constantly to make sure the peanut sauce didn't burn on the bottom of the pan (Although a little bit of crystallizing did occur, and the texture is great!).

I poured this over some egg noodles that I had boiled up and voila! Antonia had lunch. I hope that she feels better.

I really like this peanut sauce - It was made to try to emulate the peanut sauce on a CPK pizza, so I did the best I could. I'm pretty sure that their's has some fish sauce in it, but mine still turned out tasty.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Fourme D'Ambert Omelet

Fourme D'Ambert Omelet
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
10 years ago, you couldn't have paid me to eat an omelet, never mind an omelet with blue cheese. My taste for blue cheese has only developed recently though I wish that this was not the case.

I love this cheese. I was only introduced to in 2 weeks ago, and already I am in love. It is such a creamy blue cheese - almost like a blue brie. I picked it up at Nugget as the cheese lady was cutting it up and wrapping it. I tasted a piece and was sold. I had to wait until after I went down to Irvine for Thanksgiving to incorporate it into what I knew would be a great vehicle for this cheese: an omelet.

This morning after I finished studying for my now complete final in Microbiology, I decided to make myself an omelet. A couple of weeks ago I did the same thing and came up with the spinach omelet - it was great. The spinach from our backyard was wonderful in that omelet. Today's omelet was different - instead of a fresh, bright feeling in my mouth, I got an earthy, musky feeling to go along with the taste. The taste was near perfect - so good in fact I thought about it all through my tests today. In fact, I can still taste it now, 4 hours later. That gives a glimpse of the depth of the flavor.

The little block of cheese on top was the perfect finish to the omelet - half way through I received an extra bite of cheese - it was like a present from my omelet to me :)

Sunday, November 27, 2005

What used to be a Curry Chicken Sandwich

I wish that there were more pictures of the food that I eat for me to put up. Take for instance, this curry chicken sandwich. Exhibit 2 would be the Thanksgiving turkey. The problem stems from the desire to eat the food in front of me being more desirable than the desire to take a picture of the food. Now the people around me may not agree, thinking that I indeed do take pictures of everything that I eat. Let this be the prime example of me NOT taking a picture of everything that goes into my mouth.
Incidentally, this picture was taken in Del Mar, CA while lunching with David and his friend Sparsh, the congenial son of a San Diegan jeweler.

Monday, November 21, 2005

The Joy of Fresh Vegetables

Fresh Vegetables
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
Yes, that is a tomato and yes, it is November. I am as surprised as you are! When Antonia and I went out to the country yesterday, we were surprised to find that there has not been any frost in Davis yet, despite what the temperature receptors right under my skin tell me every morning. We found not only tomatoes, but also bell peppers, green bean(s), eggplants, and cherry chili peppers. It was quite a bounty that we pilfered from the backyard of Chez Oakley. Now, while I sit here and write about vegetables listening to Handsome Boy Modeling School, I realize that there really is a joy in fresh vegetables. The idea that the ingredients dictate what we make is new to me yet as old as cooking itself. It is a relatively recent development that all vegetables are available all year in a supermarket.

I for one love finding something to cook with a basket of vegetables. It is a simple pleasure that I do not come across often. Anyway, the fate of these vegetables was to be incorporated into---
Roasted Vegetable and Hummus Lavash Sandwiches, a la Gregoire Jacquet, Gregoire, Berkeley, CA.
The vegetables were grilled at 400ºF for 35 minutes with some olive oil, salt and pepper by the sweet Antonia. After acquiring some lavash from the Co-Op, we put down some hummus, filled it with veggies, and rolled up our sandwiches. A brief (3-5 min.) grilling on each side in a cast-iron pan gave them the perfect brown. MMMMM did those things go down quick!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Nothing is better for breakfast than a great omelet

Spinach Omelet
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
To prove to myself that I still believed the claim set forth in the title, I went about making myself a classic omelet this morning. 2 eggs, salt and pepper. That's all. Well, except for the wilted garden spinach from our gardent that made its way in. I have to credit Alton Brown for teaching me how to make such a great omelet. Since watching the omelet episode of "Good Eats", my omeletting skills have improved by powers of 10.

Conclusion: A great omelet is the perfect breakfast, but I think that I will have to run more tests (mmmmm) before I can publish my findings (except that right now I'm publishing my findings... oh never mind).

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Fried Eggplant with Honey and Mint

Earlier this week, Tom at work got a case of food from an organic farmer in the Capay Valley. In it was a bunch of vegetables, some fruit, and recipes to cook the foods they sent. One was how to fry eggplants.

Then this morning at the Farmer's Market we picked up some striped eggplants from Fiddler's Green Farms. So the eggplants, the yellow and white chard bunches and the fresh baguette came home with Antonia and I.

Fried Eggplant with Honey and Mint

Cut 1 lb peeled eggplant into 1/8" rings. Place in a salt water solution (2 cups water to 1 tbs salt) for 30 minutes.

In the mean time, combine 2/3 c flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt, 2 eggs and 1 c milk in a vessel suitable for dredging.

Once the eggplants have soaked for 30 minutes, drain them and pat dry with paper towels... we can't fry wet food!

Bring 1/2 inch olive oil to medium-high heat in a skillet. Dip the eggplant rounds into the batter and fry on each side for 30-45 seconds, until brown. Do in batches of 4-6, depending on the size of your skillet. I did it in a small skillet and I could do 4 at a time.

Drizzle the fried eggplants with honey and sprinkle with mint.

The original recipe also called for sesame seeds, but I found that the best way to eat them was savory - no honey, no mint; We ate these for dinner. For a brunch, the honey and mint would be super.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

On Its Way

on its way
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
On my way home from work tonight I got a cryptic phone call: punch it down. That was it. When I walked in the door and smelled yeast and its delicious byproducts, I knew that pizza was for dinner :)
Antonia had started the dough earlier in the afternoon and had given our friends the yeast hours and hours to rise. More than double, for sure. It turned out to be a blessing.

We ransacked the garden and our pantry to find some toppings. I had (as pictured above) grilled onions from reva, roasted garlic, and spinach from our garden. Antonia had the onions and spinach, plus chicken that I made 2 nights ago (balsamic-honey) and a fresh tomato. Both were wonderful.

The picture above is the pizza in the oven - on its way to becoming dinner!

The pizza was really good: Here is the finished product. Next time maybe a little bit of olive oil on the crust to get it to brown a little bit more, but beyond that, it was damn good. It reminded me of Roman pizza (the best roman pizza, in my opinion, comes from the pizza stand at the entrance to Spagna station, next to the Spanish Steps. Pizza Marco, I think).

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Potato Puffs

Potato Puffs
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
Oh potato puff, how I miss thee!

I was in Berkeley over the weekend to visit my brother and my dad at which time we were fortunate enough to enjoy lunch at my favorite take-out only restaurant - Gregoire. Anyone who has ever asked me where to eat in Berkeley has received the answer "Gregoire." Why do I love Gregoire so? Is it beacuse I know Gregoire and feel a connection to the FrancoGreg? Yes. Is it beacuse I was in there 3 times a week when it just opened? Of course. Is it beacuse I am treated to a new and exciting sandwich each time I visit, from chicken with truffles and celery remoulade on pantifolone to lamb with manchego cheese and a balsamic sauce on ciabbata? Mmm hmmm. Is it beacuse I remember every meal that I have every had there. Yup.

But the most unexpected reason that I love Gregoire is the potato puff. The staple of the menu, like the Partobella Fritters at Rivoli, never fails to bring a smile to my face with that first, often far too hot, bite.

With a variety of aioli's unrivalled anywhere (that I have been), the sublime fried puff of potato is heaven. Nine puffs are not enough, yet at the same time too many for anyone daring enough to walk home without thier hands patting thier stomachs and their minds in the world of the octagonal cardboard box, dreaming of next month's menu.


Monday, October 17, 2005

Steak Taco

Steak Taco
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
The most satisfying moment I have found in my culinary adventures is watching peoples' faces when they try my food. A distant maybe third most satisfying moment is when I can repackage leftovers into a new meal.
That is what Antonia and I accomplished here tonight. Leftover steak from last night transformed into steak tacos! A little sauteed onion, so chile and a little bit of fresh tomato is all that the steak needed to be forever changed.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Whole-Wheat Waffles

breakfast waffles
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
What could be better than getting a full night of rest after a busy week? Waffles! That's what. I woke up this morning with the lingering smell of batter in the air. How lucky I was to discover that it was not my imagination, but in fact whole-wheat heart waffles made especially for me by my sweet Antonia.

Yes, I made the boy waffles. I love him! I can't help but try to stuff whole grains into him at every opportunity. He's got to last me a long, long time. Plus- I figure this freshly made breakfast thing might mask, at least for a while, my propensity for awaking before 7 am on the weekends.
I think it's working so far ;)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Lemon Cucumber Sandwich

Lemon Cucumber Sandwich
Originally uploaded by monkeycat!.
With fresh-baked bread just out of the oven, I can think of nothing better to accentuate the taste of the bread than a cucumber sandwich. This one was assembled with lemon cucumbers from the Farmer's Market and Antonia's fresh whole-wheat bread.

1 slice whole wheat bread
1/2 lemon cucumber, sliced thin

It's a pretty easy sandwich to assemble - bread, margarine, cucumber.

Maybe some salt on top, but that's up to you.

Not once have I had one of these sanwiches when I didn't think, "Those English know what they are doing with tea sandwiches." Lemon cucumbers are great because they have those big, beautiful seeds!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Zucchini Curry with Basmati Rice

As I came home from work I was greeted by a backpacked girl exclaiming that it was time to cook dinner. At first I was not convinced as I was dreadfully tired from work; I thought it was nap time. Nevertheless, I was briefed: Zucchini curry. At once my heart quickened and I had to race her into the kitchen - it was time to cook!

3 lb zucchini, sliced into round chunks
1 large onion in thin half moons
3 tbs vegetable oil
1 can light unsweeted coconut milk
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tbs curry powder
2 tsp salt
2 tsp finely grated ginger
1 tsp redp pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds

Toast mustard and cumin seeds in a dry pan - when you can smell the spices, they're done!
Make a paste out of the garlic, ginger and salt. If you have a mortar and pestle, bully for you. If not, I achieved a paste by mashing the ingredients with the side of a knife - I used Frederique (he got a name today). Stir the curry powder, coriander and toasted seed combination into the paste.
In a stockpot, heat the oil over med-high heat then saute onions until golden. Add the paste and drop the heat to med-low and stir for a few minutes.
Add in the zucchini and cook until it softens. Add the coconut milk and bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. After 10-12 minutes, it will be done! yeah!

We accompanied it with basmati rice, which was great. We fried the rice in a little bit of butter before adding the water which gave it a little bit of richness.

Scoop the curry over the rice then garnish with the cilantro and cashews.

It was great! I could not have bought better thai food at Thai Basil in Berkeley. No complaints, no changes. MMMMMMMmmmmmmmmm

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Turkey Sandwich with Heirloom Tomatoes and Arugula

It's just about time to rename Sunday to Sandwich Sunday. Yesterday at the Farmer's Market we picked up a Pugliese loaf and a couple of heirloom tomatoes; Wednesday I picked up some arugula. Today a sandwich was born.

1 loaf of pugliese bread, tapered ends cut off, then cut in half
1 heirloom tomato, sliced thin
1/2 lb deli sliced turkey, or whatever bird you choose

Well, its a sanwich - assemble it however you like! I put the mayo on the bottom, then turkey, then tomato, then arugula.

This batch of arugula was particularly peppery and the bite gave the sandwich an extra dimension of flavor.

The best part was the fresh bread - Even Nugget Pugliese, which I think is great, could not even come close to this bread. On Wednesday when I go to the FM, I will find out who the baker is and thank him/her.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

White-Chocolate Chip Chocolate Cookies

In honor of Saturday, I announced to Greg that we had to bake cookies. I had, of course, announced this to Greg each day of the preceeding week- but with my days spent with the preschool set, and his protecting the rights of the voters of the world- we were just too tired. So- Saturday it was, and is- and they're good enough to quit your job over. -Antonia

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties!, 2001, Clarkson Potter/Publisher

1/2 lb margarine
1 c light brown sugar, packed
1 c granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder
2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 bag white chocolate chips (12 oz)

Heat oven to 350ºF

Cream butter and sugars. Add the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time. Add the cocoa powder and mix (be careful not to go to high on the mixer - you will be wearing the cocoa). Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together, then add and mix until just combined.

Stir in the chocolate chips (the best part)

Place tablespoon-sized balls on a cookie sheet and lightly smush down into rounded discs.

Bake for 15 minutes - don't worry how they look when you take them out, they will set up nicely.

Once they are cool, eat! Or, don't wait for them to cool and eat!

We turned these into ice cream sandwiches after we made these about a year ago. They stand up well to ice cream and are the best tasting sandwich of the dessert kind.

Monday, September 26, 2005


Originally uploaded by monkeycat238.
Last night Antonia and I went back to our lives as breadmakers. We decided on a very "traditional" bread :) We have made it once or twice before and we both liked it. Of course, I have a long history with this bread (mostly taking place on Friday night with and with the aid of margerine).

1 pkg active dry yeast
3/4 c warm water
1 tbs sugar
1 1/4 tbs margerine, melted
1 tsp salt
1 egg
eggwash (separate from 1 egg above)
2.5-3 c flour

Oven at 375ºC

We let the yeast bloom in 1/4c water and sugar for 10 minutes. We then added 1/2c water (the rest), salt, margerine, egg, and 1-1.5c flour. We beat this with the whip for 5 minutes at which point it was combined well.

We then changed to the dough hook, and slowly added the rest of the flour until it was incorporated - the dough was still sticky when we took it out. After 10 minutes of kneading, we let it rest in a greased bowl for 1hr.

After the hour of rising, we punched it down, divided it into 3 ropes, braided the ropes, and let it sit on a baking sheet for 45 minutes.

Egg washed and into the oven for 30 minutes and done!

It is a very tender bread - I hope one day I can figure out how to get the ropes to become one loaf to a greater degree - I'm sure the scientific method will play into this at some point

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Pasta Primavera

Pasta Primavera
Originally uploaded by monkeycat238.
After our bike ride today, we were at a loss for what to have for dinner. We had a feast last night with the Oakleys and had a couple of ingredients left over: tomatoes and zucchini.

I decided to make a fresh tomato sauce to go over some leftover angel hair pasta.

2 servings of angel hair pasta, cooked
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced finely
4 small tomatoes
1 medium zucchini
1/4 c water
1/2 hot chili pepper, diced thin
olive oil
dry oregano
dry parsley

I put a little bit of olive oil at the bottom of a saucepan and set it to medium. I sauteed the garlic and onions for 5 minutes, then added in the tomatoes and salt; the salt was there to try to bring out some of the liquid in the tomatoes. I chopped a zucchini and added it into the pan. The pepper, parsley and oregano went in next. I added the water and turned the burner down to low.

After 20 minutes of simmering, I turned the pot up to medium-high for 3 minutes to concentrate the sauce a little bit, then poured it over the pasta!

It was really easy and as a bonus, I didn't even have to sit and watch!

I put some grated parmesan on top; sans parmesan for Antonia.

The sauce was wonderful: very light and very flavorful. We had a glass of Whitehall Lane 2004 Sauvignon Blanc with the pasta; the acidity of the SB went well with the acidity of the tomatoes. You can see the bottle of wine in the background of the picture :)


Saturday, September 24, 2005

Why Farmer's Markets are great

Glowing grapes
Originally uploaded by monkeycat238.
Walking around the farmers market, the fruit stands on one side and the vegetable stands on the other, I see another way of thinking about food. The food sold at the farmer's market isn't meant to sustain life the way that a mass-produced ham sandwich is. The food here acts almost as a language - a communication between the farmer and the cook. They give us letters, we give them books.

As I saw this grape catch the morning light, I realized that a celebration of ingredients makes us care about our food. When we care about our food, we care about how it tastes, how it affects us and how it brings us together with friends.

Basically: Food is great, even more so if it comes from someone who cares what I think of it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Pasta Pancakes (Galettes de pâtes)

I was reading Chocolate and Zucchini this morning and saw a recipe for leftover rice. I thought I could do just as well with pasta - so I tried with Antonia's leftover angel hair.

1.5-2 c leftover pasta, chopped into small pieces
2 eggs, beaten
olive oil
1 small tomato, seeded and chopped
1 small chili pepper, chopped fine (or dried chili flakes)
1 oz mozzarella, diced

I mixed the pasta, tomato,chili and egg together in a mixing bowl, then seasoned with salt and pepper. I stirred in the mozzarella into some of them (so my sweet Antonia could eat as well). In a skillet over medium heat, I brought some olive oil up to temperature for light frying.

It is just like making latkes, for those among you who have made them before :)

2 minutes on the first side, 1 minute on the second with a gentle, finessed flip in the middle.

I let them cool on a rack over a plate to let excess oil drip down.

The were really good - a perfect use for leftover pasta and "perfectly seasoned" to use the words of Antonia. The only thing I would do differently in the future is to use an oil with a higher smoke point - at one time there was a LOT of smoke in the kitchen

Postscript: These would be reallly good on the base of a little salad.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Italian Rounds

Olive Oil Rounds
Originally uploaded by monkeycat238.
Antonia and I have been baking our own bread recently and because she is in N. Carolina at the moment, I had to set out on my own tonight. We have adapted a M. Stewart recipe for pizza dough and turned it into loaves. The bread is great; It has a very even crumb, making it great for sandwiches. Right now the whole house smells like yeast - It could be the bread or the wine :)

1 pkg. active dry yeast
1 1/4 cup water
1-1.5 tbs salt
2 tbs olive oil
3+ cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 375ºF
Add warm water (warm that you can keep you hand in it, but warmer than lukewarm) to a Kitchenaid mixer (or your mixter). Whisk in the yeast and let it sit for 10 minutes.

Once the yeast has bloomed, add 2 cups of the flour and turn on the mixer with the dough hook. Add in the salt and olive oil, then start adding the rest of the flour, a little bit at a time. I stop when the yeast pulls off the bottom of the bowl at medium speed.

Let the dough knead in the mixer by running it for 10-15 minutes on medium-high speed. This replaces hand-kneading for 30 minutes (unless you want a workout - my forearms are sore after kneading!).

Grease a bowl with olive oil and turn the dough out into the bowl. Coat the dough in the olive oil in the bowl and cover with a cloth and put on the stove-top of the preheated oven. The heat from the oven helps the dough to rise.

Let rise for 1.5hrs at which time it will be BIG. Punch it down and let rise again for 1 hr.

Turn out dough onto a floured surface. Cut into two balls and put onto a cornmealed or floured baking sheet. Let the balls rise again for 1 hr.

Score the top of each loaf - I use a serated steak knife, but I'm sure almost any knife will work.

Put in the oven for 20-25 minutes.


Antonia and I really like this bread because, like all of our home-made breads, there are no preservatives - this lets all of the flavors of the ingredients come through. The olive oil gives the bread a great flavor, and the salt sets of the yeasty flavor perfectly.

Roasted Hummus Farms Cherry Tomatoes with Bodega Goat Cheese

Yesterday at the Farmer's Market I picked up both of these ingredients. The goat cheese is just as the woman described it: mild. Although I like goat cheese and its characteristic tang, this, I thought, would be perfect with roasted tomatoes. This recipe is adapted from Melissa Clark's THE SUMMER COOK; No One Ever Slaved Over a Hot Toaster Oven article in the New York Times, August 24, 2005.

1 basket little tomatoes (grape, cherry, 100's)
2-3 oz. goat cheese
olive oil

I drizzled the tomatoes, salted them and put them into a 385ºF oven for 40 minutes. When the tomatoes came out, i crumbled some goat cheese on top of them.

This was as good as the last time I made it - I think that the mild goat cheese does better than the ricotta suggested in the article. The one thing I miss is the tarragon - chopped tarragon may have been good on top of this. A basket of tomatoes is probably enough for 2 people as an appetizer - I had it for dinner, so I ate it all.

Make sure to pull off the stems from the tomatoes; sometimes they like to hide.

Tomato and Aged Gouda Sandwich

Today I found myself without the most important ingredient in a sandwich: bread. For the last two weeks, Antonia and I have been baking our own bread so buying bread was a little bit strange. I decided on Nugget's ciabatta, because I really enjoy it and it is good for sandwiches. The tomatoes come from Chez Oakley, and the gouda also from Nugget.

4-6 inches of a ciabatta (1/2 of a demi ciabatta) cut in half
1 tomato
olive oil
aged gouda (enough to cover the tomatoes)

I chose aged gouda because the flavor is much stronger and more pronounced.

I drizzled the bread with some olive oil and put it under the broiler for a couple of minutes, until the bread was just starting to brown. I thinly sliced a tomato and put it on the bread. I used a vegetable peeler (although I imagine a cheese plane would have worked better) to get a few slices of cheese. It is quite a hard cheese, so the slices came out paper thin. After putting the cheese on top of the tomato (which was seasoned with tomato's best friends - salt and pepper) I put it back under the broiler until the cheese melted.

The sandwich was very tasty - the only problem came when attempting to eat it open-face. The tomatoes do not stick very well to the bread and have a tendency to come off with each bite. I remedied this by closing it up, squishing it a little bit, and eating it up.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Welcome to Greg's Food: Steak and Caramelized Onions in Red Wine with Sauteed Eggplant and Squash

Well here it is: the first post in my food blog. I figure this will be a good place to share the food that I make. I don't know if anyone would want to try making the food that I have here, but I will include what I did just in case. Let me know if you try any of these :)

This was my lunch today, and it was good. I was given a London Broil by the Oakleys, so i figured I would use that. I went over to thier house today and picked some vegetables - 2 eggplants, 2 squash, a green pepper (not spicy) and a red pepper (spicy). I brought them back to our house and started.

Steak and caramelized onions with eggplant and squash.

1 London broil, 1.5-2 lbs.
2 medium yellow onions, cut into half moons.
1/2 cup red wine (I used Merlot - use a wine for drinking and cooking, none of that cooking wine stuff)
2 japanese eggplants, diced
2 small yellow sqaush, diced
1 cherry pepper, julienned
1 green (not spicy) pepper, julienned
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
dried parsley

Heat up a skillet with olive oil to medium heat. Add onions. Let them cook for a couple of minutes, then salt and turn down to low.
Rub london broil with salt, pepper and paprika on both sides. Cook to medium-rare (or whatever you prefer; My preference is a cast-iron grill pan, but you can cook it however you want). Medium-rare is about 8 minutes on each side.
Back at the onions - after they have been cooking down for about 10 minutes and are starting to get a little bit brown, add the wine and let the alcohol boil away. This should leave red-looking onions. Remove the onions to a plate.
In the same pan, add some more olive oil and turn up heat to high. When the oil is hot, add the squash, eggplant and peppers and parsley. Heat through for a couple of minutes, then turn down to medium and add in the garlic. This will keep the garlic from burning.

When the steak is done, let it sit for 10-15 minutes, or all of the juices will just spill out onto the plate (boo!).

Assemble to your preference - I put down some of the onions and placed a few slices of the steak on top. You could leave the steak whole and put the onions on top and serve family-style. I put a couple of spoonfuls of the vegetables on the side, and sat outside on my picnic bench with some red wine.

It was really nice. The steak was perfect; letting it sit for 10 minutes really helped it stay flavorful. The onions were great, the sweetness of the wine and caramelization were playing with the salt that I added. The vegatables were great; by having relatively big pieces of spicy pepper, it gave some variety to the bites- some were spicy while others weren't.