Sunday, February 28, 2010

Caramelized Pineapple

Go look out your window.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait…..Well, what do you see.  If you’re like me, you see dreary gray skies, bare trees and frost bit grass.  If you’re like Dave from My Year on the Grill, you probably see palm trees and blue water and sea shells and sun and all things good.  And as if all that wasn’t enough the girls at Our Krazy Kitchen decided to throw him a beach party! 

 

Really.  Could one person get any move love! 

So, I grumbled and mumbled into my winter scarf and carried the pineapple out to my car in my gloved hands, with visions of beach parties dancing through my head.  And now, I have to say thanks to Dave, because without this party, I probably would not have this lovely little tidbit of sunshine.  This yummy, sweet, islandy, pineapple.   You can find the recipe online:  Caramelized Pineapple, and I’ve posted it below.

Caramelized Pineapple

  • 1 pineapple
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar

    Core and peel pineapple. Slice it lengthwise into eighths.

    Heat butter in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Coat pineapple wedges with sugar; place in hot pan. Cook, turning once and shaking pan often, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove pineapple.

    Stir 3 tablespoons water into pan, and heat briefly; drizzle over pineapple.

    Happy Surprise Beach Party Dave and Jackie!!!

  • Saturday, February 27, 2010

    Weekend Cat Blogging #247

    "A dog will flatter you but you have to flatter the cat."- George Mikes

    Smudge is my entry for this week’s Weekend Cat Blogging hosted by  Nikita Cat.

    Friday, February 26, 2010

    Pickled Rosemary Carrots

    This post is about 2 food events.  One I can do, and one I can’t.  Let’s begin with what I can do.  As most of you do, I spend an inordinate amount of time reading blogs, and one of the things I kept noticing was Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum.  And I thought, hey, I do food.  I do food on Friday.  Why am I not doing Foodie Friday?  There was no good answer to that question, so here I am.  It’s Friday, here is my food.

    Now, on to the food even that I can’t do, The Tigress’ Can Jam.  This is a canning challenge, where every month a new ingredient is spotlighted. I want to improve my canning, and the only way to do that is practice, practice, practice, so this was perfect.  Only one prob.  I was too late to sign up.  So, I’m doing it anyway.  Private like.  January was citrus, missed that, because, of course, I was too late.  February was carrots and here they are!

    If you are new to canning, I highly recommend beginning with something pickled.  It’s so easy, it’s all water bathed and with some vinegar, some pickling salt and spices and a few veggies, you are ready to go.  I chose Pickled Rosemary Carrots from:

    Well Preserved: Small Batch Preserving for the New Cook

    I can’t tell you if these are good or not, because I’m letting them age a little.  Most pickles improve with a little age on them.  Aren’t they pretty? 

    Now, I’m not going to go into deep canning specifics, you really need a book or a good website for that.  But it is not difficult.  Really, I had these done in under an hour.  The more you do, the better you get and the faster you get.  You don’t have to keep looking up how to do anything.  Also, I halved the recipe because I only had 2 pounds of carrots.

    Pickled Rosemary Carrots

    • 3 cups water
    • 3 cups vinegar
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1/4 cup pickling salt
    • 2 T. mixed peppercorns
    • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
    • 6 hot chili peppers, preferably red
    • 4 pounds carrots, peeled, cut into sticks about 4 inches by 1/2 inch
    • six 3-inch sprigs of fresh rosemary

    Prepare preserving jars per canning directions.  Combine the water, vinegar, sugar, salt and peppercorns in a pot.  Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes.

    Working with 1 jar at a time, place 1 clove of garlic and 1 chili pepper into each hot, sterilized jar.  Pack the carrots in tightly, standing them upright.  Slide one sprig of rosemary into the jar.  Carefully pour the vinegar solution into the jars, leaving a 1/4 inch head space.  Release air bubbles and wipe the rims clean.  Top with lid and band (per canning instructions).  Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. 

    Makes 5 to 6 pint jars.

     

    Thursday, February 25, 2010

    Spicy Asian-Style Noodles with Clams

    It’s time once again for Food For Thought, you know, where you read a book and then take food inspiration from it.  So far, I have been extremely creative (as in completely breaking) with the rules.  This time around, I am pretty pleased with myself, it actually all goes together.

    See, my latest book was, Remarkable Creaturesby Tracy Chevalier

    This is the fictionalized account of Mary Anning, an unjustly forgotten, real-life figure in 19th-century paleontology. Mary helped support her family by looking for “curies”  - or curiosities or fossils that would be sold to gentlemen who collected them.  She was the inspiration behind “she sells seashells by the seashore.” 

    This was a pleasant book, not earth-shattering, but a nice story.  It showed how Mary did all the work, and then the men collectors got all of the glory, because that’s how things were.  Even though I may fantasize about how charming it would have been to be living then with all the quaint ideas, I see that there was plenty not too charming about it.  All in all, a nice read. 

    Now, on to the amazing part of this post.  Again…another TOP RECIPE.  This clam dish was seriously amazing.   This was one of those dishes, where my husband and I stopped chewing every so often to spontaneously praise it.  You know what I’m talking about, right?  The flavors of the sauce melded together perfectly.  I’m not going to post the recipe, since you can find it here:  Spicy Asian-Style Noodles with Clams

     

    The only thing I did different, and it’s one of my tips to you, is how I handled the ginger.  I keep my ginger stored in the freezer in knobs about 2-3 inches long.  When  recipe calls for chopped or minced ginger, I bring it out, still frozen and grate it on my microplane.  This creates a fine ginger that incorporates more readily into the dish.  I don’t really like the sharp ginger flavor when I bite into a chunk so this allows me to have the ginger flavor evenly in every bite.

    Be sure and check out all the Food For Thought entries!! 

    Wednesday, February 24, 2010

    What Was it Wednesday?

    Mystery pasta

    You’re looking at July 31, 2008.  What was it?  Pasta – obviously.  Looks like some sort of roasted cherry tomatoes, probably some basil, served with a salad.  Oh…I long for summer tomatoes. 

    Tuesday, February 23, 2010

    Garden Tuesday

    Bunny Mr. Bunny is ready for spring.  He is tired of snow and ice.

    Oakleaf hydrangea is ready for spring, with one of last years blooms, still holding on, as new growth pops out. 

    Lenten rose Lenten rose is ready for spring.  It’s blossoms hang heavy and closed.

    Pam is ready for spring.  How about you?

    Monday, February 22, 2010

    Seared Tuna with Lime Crust

    Seared Tuna with Lime Crust

    There are good friends, and then there are best friends, and then there are the bestest friends.  That’s right, I said bestest.  Because sometimes, proper English just will not do.  And bestest friends…well, that’s what I’m talking about today. 

    My husband has a  longtime  friend, John (aka Moon).  Moon has a lovely wife, Olivia.  May I pause here for a moment and say that if I was going to write a children’s story book about a charming couple in love who lived in some cute little house and had grand adventures, that their names would be Moon and Olivia.  Really, aren’t they perfect?

    Sorry, digressing. Anyway, back to why they are the bestest friends.  My husband stopped by their house for a visit, while he was coming and going from someplace to somewhere.  At the end of his charming visit ( it was charming, because they are Moon and Olivia afterall), they presented him with a treasure. 

    A treasure that made me squeal, and giggle, and jump for joy, and clap my hands.  What was this treasure?  A grocery bag filled with fresh frozen tuna steaks all neatly vacuum sealed.  Really a bag full.  Because the charming Moon had gone deep sea fishing and he and the  lovely Olivia had lots and lots of tuna.  And being bestest friends they shared their bounty with us.

    Seared Tuna with Lime Crust

    Which (finally) brings me to this tuna recipe, from the also lovely and charming Donna Hay.

    I found this recipe in,

    Flavors

    This recipe was wonderful.  It had a nice amount of heat from the chilies, with other subtle crisp flavors.  I took the marinade and tossed it with the pasta to keep the pasta from sticking together. 

    Seared Tuna with Lime Crust

    • 12 oz tuna fillet
    • 1 T. grated lime rind
    • 1/3 cup lime juice
    • 1/4 cup finely chopped dill
    • 2 T. chopped parsley
    • 2 small red chillies, seeded and chopped
    • 2 T. olive oil
    • sea salt and cracked black pepper
    • 14 oz.fettuccine
    • 1 T. olive oil
    • 3 1/2 oz baby arugula leaves (I used spinach)
    • extra lime juice and olive oil to serve

    Combine the lime rind, lime juice, dill, parsley, chilli, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Place the tuna in a shallow dish and pour the marinade over it.  Refrigerate for 20 minutes, turning once.

    Cook the pasta as directed.  While the pasta is cooking, heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over high heat.  Remove the tuna from the marinade, reserving the marinade and sear the tuna for 1 minute per side (or longer, depending on how rare you like your tuna), then slice.

    Pile the pasta on plates, top with the spinach leaves, the tuna and the reserved marinade.  Drizzle with lime juice and olive oil before serving.

    Serves 4

    This will be my entry for this week’s Presto Pasta Nights hosted by  Michelle- Italian Mama Chef .

    Sunday, February 21, 2010

    Weekend Wine Reviews #15

    Terra-Barossa Shiraz.  Thorne Clark, 2008.  Australia. $16.99.  They say: the palate is rich and full, with spicy plums and creamy oak.   The tannins are fine and give the wine great length of flavor and a superb mouth feel.  We say:  plummy and spicy, nice medium body.  Buy again:  yes!

    Falling Star Chardonnay, 2008, Argentina.  $5.99. We say:  peachy nose, with a thin, pleasant flavor.  Buy again:  split..I say yes, hubby says no.  

     

    Penfolds Rawson’s Retreat, Merlot, Australia.  2008.  $6.50.  We say: plum, medium body and tannins.  Very good for the price!  Buy again:  yes!

    Saturday, February 20, 2010

    Weekend Cat Blogging #246

     

    Patchouli has been contemplating the fine art of bed making.  She doesn’t know how people without kitty cats do it.  There are dangers to the right.

    Dangers to the left.

    Even from up above.

     

    Really.  It saddens her to think of all the poor people without kitty cats to help them make beds.

    Contemplative and helpful Patchouli will be my entry for this week’s Weekend Cat Blogging hosted by  Sammy & Miles Meezer and Billy Sweetfeets Gingersnap .

    Friday, February 19, 2010

    Rosemary Mint Lamb Chops

     

    Hey, remember the new category…Top Recipe…that I came up with!  Well, here is another one.  It meets all of my stringent qualifications – super easy and super good.  It’s a simple mathematical formula in which work involved is considerably less than the output received. 

    The recipe actually calls for grilling the lamb chops, which would have been fabulous.  But I do not heat up my grill and stand outside on my porch in 20 degree weather to cook some chops for 4 minutes per side.  My cast iron skillet was happy to step up to the plate. 

    And besides letting me use my favorite cooking utensil (my grandmother’s cast iron skillet), I got to use the JalapeƱo Mint Jelly that I canned last summer!  Bonus! The glaze on the chops was amazing.  It was sweet and minty and little bit hot from the jelly.  I didn’t have any fresh  mint, but it didn’t seem to suffer without it. This recipe is from:

    Fresh Every Day: More Great Recipes from Foster's Market

    And always thinking of you, I actually found a video of her doing the recipe:  Sarah Foster Rosemary-Mint Lamb Chops.

    Rosemary-Mint Lamb Chops

    • 8 loin lamb chops (about 2 pounds)
    • 1/4 cup red wine
    • 2 T. balsamic vinegar
    • 2 T. pepper or mint jelly
    • 2 T. chopped fresh rosemary (plus more for garnish)
    • 1 T. chopped fresh mint (plus more for garnish)
    • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
    • Place the lamb chops in a glass baking dish.

    Stir the wine, vinegar, jelly rosemary, and mint together in a small bowl.  Pour over the lam chops.  Let them marinate for an hour at room temperature, or cover and refrigerate overnight.  Turn them in the marinade several times.  Bring them to room temperature before grilling.

    Prepare a hot fire in grill (or heat up a cast iron skillet over medium-high to high heat).

    Remove the lamb chops from the marinade and season with salt and pepper.  Grill for 4 –5 minutes per side (or brown in a hot skillet), basting with the marinade.  The chops should reach about 110 to 120F for medium-rare. 

    Serves 4

    This will be my entry for this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Cinzia from Cindystar.

    Thursday, February 18, 2010

    Vintner’s Rice

    Vintner's Rice

    Sometimes I can make rice look good and sometimes it just looks like rice.  This just looks like rice.  But don’t let it’s simple rice-i-ness fool you, it was really good.  This isn’t a huge, wow recipe.  It’s flavor is subtle, it sneaks up on you, taps you on the shoulder, and says “aren’t I good?”  And you nod, and say, “why yes, you are.”

    This lovely, simple rice came from my favorite rice cooker cookbook:

    The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook : 250 No-Fail Recipes for Pilafs, Risottos, Polenta, Chilis, Soups, Porridges, Puddings and More, from Start to Finish in Your Rice Cooker

    Are you thinking, “do I really need a rice cooker cookbook?”  I mean it’s rice.  How hard can that be.  It’s not hard, true, but coming up with ideas after using every last one of your brain cells trying to get 8th graders to understand algebra, can be a bit difficult.  I also have to say that it is one of my most used cookbooks, of course, that goes hand in hand with the fact that my rice cooker is one of my most used appliances. 

    So, without further ado, a lovely simple, goes with everything rice.

    Vinter’s Rice

    • 2 T. unsalted butter
    • 1 small white onion, coarsely grated (I just finely chopped mine)
    • dash of ground white pepper
    • 1 cup long-grain white rice
    • 3 thin lemon slices
    • 1/2 bay leaf (I just used a small one)
    • 1 1/4 cups chicken stock
    • 1/2 cup dry white wine
    • 1/2 t. salt

    Set the rice cooker for the quick cook or regular cycle.  Place the butter in the bowl of the rice cooker.  When it has melted, add the onion, and cook until softened about 2 minutes.  Sprinkle with the pepper and add the rice.  Stir until the grains are evenly coated and hot, about 10 minutes.  Place the lemon slices and bay leaf on top of the rice.  Add the stock, wine and salt and stir lightly to combine.  Close the cover and reset for the regular cycle (if you were on the quick cycle) or just let the regular cycle finish. 

    When the machine switches to keep warm, let the rice steam for about 10 minutes.  Then fluff and serve! 

    Serves 3-4

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010

    What Was it Wednesday? More duck.

    Duck with Cold Sesame Noodles

    You’re looking at June 8, 2008.  “Hey, wait a minute?!”  you sputter, indignantly.  We looked at June 8, 2008, last Wednesday.  Yes.  You did.  If I had looked at the photo right next to the duck, I would have seen this photo.  The photo of how I served the duck.  I believe that is the breast.  Carved and served with cold sesame noodles.  I believe it was good, all be it, a bit monochromatic.  Don’t worry.  This is the end of the duck.  There will be no need for sputtering next week.

    Tuesday, February 16, 2010

    Garden Tuesday – Red-Bellied Woodpecker

    Red Bellied Woodpecker

    I just want to know…who was in charge of naming this guy?

    Red-Bellied Woodpecker

    We thought we heard a hawk.  Notice the finch deciding it was time to go!

    Monday, February 15, 2010

    Chicken, Tomato, and Mozzarella Pasta Salad

    I don’t know about you, but sometimes, in the middle of winter, I’m over it.  I’m tired of stews and soups, and braises and roasts.  I want something light and summery.  If nothing more than to remind myself that it will be here sooner than we think. 

    This, of course, is helped by the fact that I subscribe to Donna Hay’s magazine.  I pay a ridiculous amount of money to get it shipped to my address in the US, but it is my one present to myself..well, that and my Kindle…oh, and my Ipod…oh and my Le Creuset Braiser…well, let’s just say I am very good to myself.  But you know, is that a bad thing?  I don’t think so.  That way no one else has to worry about making me happy.  I make myself happy.

    Anyway, back to Donna Hay.  See, she is on the other side of the world, and when I am stuck in the middle of winter doldrums, she is skipping merrily through summer.  This pasta salad in issue #47 (Oct/Nov) was perfect!  Instead of fresh basil, I had some that I processed in the food processor with a little olive oil and then froze in cute little jars.  Just opening up the jar and taking a big breath of basil is enough to transport me back to summer. This is also great for using some store-bought chicken (I only used the breast portions, keeping the rest for another dish, and it was plenty).

    Chicken, Tomato and Mozzarella Pasta Salad

  • 14 oz rigatoni

  • 3-4 pound store-bought barbecued chicken, skin off, shredded

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed

  • 9 oz cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 1 cup basil leaves, torn (or frozen, chopped)

  • 1 small white onion, sliced

  • 4 oz  buffalo mozzarella+, roughly torn

  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind

  • sea salt and cracked black pepper

  • ¼ cup  olive oil

  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar

    Cook pasta in a saucepan of salted boiling water for 10–12 minutes or until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water. Place the pasta, chicken, garlic, tomato, basil, onion, mozzarella, lemon rind, salt and pepper in a bowl.
    Place oil and vinegar in a bowl and whisk to combine. Spoon over the pasta and toss well to combine. Serves 4.

    This will be my entry for this week’s Presto Pasta Nights hosted by  Mrs Ergul Passion for Life .

  • Saturday, February 13, 2010

    Are You Counting Your Birdies?

    This is a reminder that this is the Great Backyard Bird Count Weekend.

    Today, during our 15 minutes, we counted:  2 tufted titmouse (titmice?),  1 red-bellied woodpecker, 1 junco, 3 Carolina wrens, 2 starlings, 1 brown creeper, 1 yellow finch, and 2 mockingbirds.

    We’ll count again tomorrow.

    Mr. Tufted Titmouse says, “Count me, please!”

    Weekend Cat Blogging #245

    This is not  a good picture, I snapped it really quickly with my Blackberry.  I would like to draw your attention to the bird feeder, it’s kind of hard to see, but it has a reddish top (it’s the same one in the cute birdie pictures from Tuesday).  Still can’t find it?  Well just find the black and white, Patchouli kitty up in the tree and then look to your left about 3 feet. 

    Naughty Patchouli is my entry for this week’s Weekend Cat Blogging hosted by Breadchick and LB at The Sour Dough.

    Friday, February 12, 2010

    Garlic Lime Rice

    Garlic Lime Rice

    I’m big on declaring years and summers and seasons.  There was the Summer of Pickles, not to be confused with The Summer of Preserving, Putting up and Pickling.  And then there was The Summer of My Herbs, which was really supposed to be The Summer of My Garage, but thankfully I came to my senses.  But lurking somewhere in my mind, I had a vague recollection of a declaration on side dishes…oh wait, here it is, The Spring of Side Dishes.  

    Don’t bother searching my blog for other posts having to do with The Spring of Side Dishes.  I’m big on declaring things, I’m not big on following up on them.  But be that as it may, that does not underscore the importance of a good side dish.  I am again, starting to think about side dishes and getting a few good ones into the rotation.  My favorite place to find side dish ideas is Cuisine at Home’s Weeknight Menus.  Because each menu has a side dish.  There are vegetable, pasta, rice and salad side dishes.  So, when I was needing to fancy up some rice, that is where I turned.

    As usual, they didn’t disappoint.  This garlic lime rice is easy (I did it in my rice cooker) and wonderfully flavorful.  The combination of lime, garlic, and cilantro can go with just about anything!

    Garlic Lime Rice

    • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
    • 1 T. olive oil
    • 1 cup dry long grain white rice
    • 2 cups water
    • 2 T. fresh lime juice
    • 1 t. Kosher salt
    • 2 T. minced fresh cilantro
    • 2 t. lime zest, minced

    Saute the garlic in oil over medium-high heat in a saucepan, until golden. Stir in rice and saute 2 minutes.

    Add water, lime juice and salt and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until water is absorbed, about 20 minutes.  Stir in cilantro and lime zest.

    Thursday, February 11, 2010

    White Chocolate Mint Mousse

    White Chocolate Mint Mousse

    Have you checked out Food For Thought?    It’s this wonderful challenge, where you read a book and come up with a food vignette to go along with it.  I have two problems (well, really I have a zillion, but let’s focus on 2).  First of all, I read most of my books on my Kindle now, and taking pretty photos of the book’s cover on my Kindle, just doesn’t cut it.  And second, the post is supposed to mainly be about the book and not about the recipe, but so far mine have been about the recipe and not really about the book.  I am a huge rule breaker, but luckily Jain is so sweet, she let’s me participate anyway.  But if you want to see how it’s done, with beautiful pictures and all, follow the link above.  Really, you’ll be massively impressed. 

    And you know what, I’m breaking the rules even more.  Because I haven’t even finished the book that I was inspired by.  But it’s a big book, and I’m not going to be finished anytime soon.   What’s even worse, is that I was searching for anything food related in my reading, and I grasped at a scene where they had tea.  Tea.  So what did I do, I made mousse and stuck it in a tea cup.

    The book, by the way, is

    The Little Stranger

    I am currently loving it.  It starts out slow, but it gently pulls you in.  I am just now getting to the mystery part of it.  It’s kind of an old fashioned gothic style, a far cry from my gruesome murder mysteries of earlier in the year.

    Okay, back to the mousse, which you can find online here.  What can I say about something that combines white chocolate and peppermint, that requires no baking, that is so rich, you eat only a little serving of it, which spreads it out over days and days….I say yes.  This was everything I had hoped it would be..easy, rich, creamy, a peppermint patty for grown-ups. 

    Nigella Lawson’s White Chocolate Mint Mousse

    9 ounces white chocolate, broken into small pieces
    1 cup heavy cream
    *1 egg white
    1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract 
    6 fresh mint leaves, optional

    Put the pieces of white chocolate in a bowl, and sit this bowl over a pan over simmering water until it melts, stirring gently with a spatula every now and then. When it's melted, stand the bowl on a cold surface to cool down a little.

    In another bowl, and using an electric handheld whisk for ease, whip the cream, egg white and extract together. You want soft peaking rather than a stiff mixture.

    Put a big dollop of cream onto the slightly cooled chocolate and mix, and then gently fold the chocolate mixture into the cream.

    Divide mixture between 6 small but perfectly formed glasses with a capacity of 60ml/ 1/4-cup each.

    Chill in the fridge or give them a fast icy zap but sitting them in the deep freeze for 10 or 15 minutes. Decorate top with a mint leaf before serving.

    Wednesday, February 10, 2010

    What Was It Wednesday?

    5 hour duck

    You’re looking at June 8, 2008.  Oh, I know what it was.  It was duck.  I vaguely remember that it was a 5 hour duck.  I only remember this, because I kept singing it to the tune of Gilligan’s Island…you know the “3 hour tour” part.