Sunday, October 30, 2011

OCTOBER

We spent part of October on the West Coast where Alex and Dan introduced us to a new (for me) fall veggie - celeriac, or celery root.  We bought it at the Portland Farmer's Market and Alex prepared it much like mashed potatoes: peeled it, cut it into chunks and then boiled it until it could be easily mashed using a potato masher. Finished with salt and pepper and a bit of butter or olive oil, it is an interesting substitute for mashed potatoes. I've since found it at our farm stands, and used it instead of potatoes when making Cod with Carmelized Onions and Mushrooms.





At the Farmer's Market we also got a stalk of Brussels sprouts, abundant in the East this month too.

Although not local to New England, I look forward to figs which, unlike many fruits and vegetables, are only available to us for one short season.  In addition to using them as a garnish on Almond Olive Oil Cake,  I top local fall arugula with figs and pomegranate seeds and dress with just a bit of very good quality balsamic vinegar.







October is also apple month. Now that Alex and Chris are grown, we no longer make the trek to Harvard, MA to pick apples but rely on the local farm stands that offer an ever increasing variety of apples - one stand boasting "19 kinds of apples". It was particularly fun shopping for apples at the Portland Farmer's Market where vendors offered tastes of the various varieties. Interestingly, one variety that Alex had found sweet and crisp the previous week was not so tasty when we sampled it the following week. Time for Apple Raisin Muffins and Apple Tart and later in the month as cranberries are harvested, Cranberry Apple-Crisp.




And the pumpkins.... For recipes see Pumpkin Time Again.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Farmer's Market Huevos Rancheros

One of my most favorite things to do when visiting Alex and Dan in Portland (OR) is to visit the Saturday Farmer's Market.  The awesome mushrooms, the roasted peppers, toasted hazelnuts, not to mention all the fresh veggies, fish, meat, cheeses, breads, flowers....  Now I have one more good reason: breakfast.  There was a line, but we decided it was worth a wait to get breakfast at Verde Cocina (a stand in the Farmer's Market but now also a cafe).  Ed and I ordered Huevos Rancheros  (photo below, right) and Alex and Dan ordered Buenos Dias Breakfast (photo below, lower left) .  While we waited, we watched the "lots of market veggies" cook on the huge skillet.





The Huevos Rancheros - inspired by all the local veggies - were awesome .  When we returned home I picked up some of my neighbor's eggs and decided to give this a simplified try.

This is a very flexible recipe and "market veggies" means whatever is in season when you make it. This recipe is nominally for 2-3 but of course the number of eggs and amount of veggies and cheese can vary according to taste and appetite. As reflected in the ingredients used, I made this for a late October breakfast in Massachusetts.


Grate:

1 oz sharp cheddar cheese (1 oz shown in photo)

In a medium size skillet, saute:

1 T olive oil (heat first before adding veggies)
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 medium red onion, peeled, and cut in bite sized pieces
1 carrot, cut in small strips
2 small poblano peppers, seeds removed and cut in bit sized pieces

8 leaves of kale, coarsely chopped


When veggies are warm and wilted add:

1/2 c pinto beans, drained
1/2 c garbanzo beans, drained
1/4 c salsa

Cook, stirring constantly until beans and salsa are heated through.

While veggies are cooking poach

1 egg per person in water to which

And warm (I use microwave)
2 tortillas per person

When all ingredients are ready, assemble by placing one warm tortilla on each plate and dividing half the vegetable mix to top the tortillas, top with 1/2 the grated cheese divided among the plates, then add second tortilla to stack and repeat topping sequence.  Finish with poached egg and

Cilantro, coarsely chopped.

VARIATION:  Fill soft taco shells with market veggie and bean mixture, grated cheese and coarsely chopped cilantro and a mix of:

1 avocado cut in thin bite sized pieces
1 t lemon juice
Salt to taste
Cumin to taste

This is especially good for lunch.



Reviewed 5/12/17

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Almond Olive Oil Cake


When Ed and I were in San Francisco last week we were served a delicious almond cake with raspberry coulis  When I told our hostess how much I enjoyed it, she told me the recipe was from Chez Panisse. She also told me it contained a lot of eggs and butter :-(   Another very special occasion cake.

Soon after,  Casa Moro, requested from the library upon our return from the Alpujarras, arrived, and I found Pastel de Almendras - Almond Cake from which I loosely adapted this recipe.  I used half white and half dark brown sugar, instead of light brown;"egg product" instead of eggs, and added 1/2 t almond extract.  Perhaps, because I did not use real eggs, the cake was not as light as I hoped it might be so I subsequently added 1 t baking powder.  This did not make any appreciable difference.  I'm waiting for a special occasion to use real eggs. Meanwhile, this recipe makes a dense but very good cake.

In their preface to the recipe the authors write: "We find many Spanish puddings very sweet, but we could not finish this chapter without some kind of almond cake.  This one is very simple, but delicious and is made by Hilde ... who lives above our village [in the Alpujarras].  She prepares her almonds by soaking them in boiling water until the skins loosen and can be easily popped off. Almonds prepared this way do have a better flavor, which is preferable for this cake, though not essential."



Line a 9 inch spring-form pan (Casa Moro calls for 26 cm, or 10.2 inch, flan or pastry tin) with a piece of wax or parchment paper buttered on both sides (or do this while eggs and sugar are mixing). When locking bottom piece in place, be sure it is absolutely level.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a food processor, using the steel blade chop, adding a third at a time so some almonds are ground fine, some medium and some coarse for bite and texture:

7.2 oz blanched almonds

Remove from processor bowl and set aside.  Wipe processor bowl clean and place in bowl with mixing blade:

1/2 c + 2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 c "egg product" (for lighter cake use 4 medium eggs - I do this for company/special occasions)*
2.9 oz dark brown sugar
2.9 oz white sugar
1/2 t almond extract (optional)

Beat until mixture is pale and fluffy and bubbles form, about 5-7 minutes.  The Casa Moro authors comment, speaking, however, of real eggs, "This whisking is important as it beats air into the mixture and makes it light." Then gently fold in (taking care not to knock out any air) all but 2 handfuls of the almonds (First time I did not reserve any almonds (top 2 photos); I now mix in 5 oz and reserve 2 oz) and

3.6 oz white flour, sifted.

Place in the  prepared pan and cook for 20 minutes or until the cake is firm and golden brown.  Remove and cool on a rack.  I like this served with fresh figs, pomegranate seeds, rosemary and thyme. Ed prefers frozen yogurt and Dark Chocolate Drizzle.

*November 2011 Update:

A dinner party last night gave me the occasion to try this recipe with real eggs.  The cake was delicious, a bit higher and lighter, not appreciably better than the cakes I made with "egg product", but enough so I will now use eggs for special occasions. I served it with vanilla frozen yogurt topped with a few drops of Aromas Olive Oil and Orange I had gotten at La Oliva in Granada and garnished with figs.
















Reviewed 5/11/17



Thursday, October 6, 2011

SEPTEMBER

In early September we savored the corn, tomatoes, basil and peppers that were so bountiful at our local farm stands. Ed and I then took off for Spain where we enjoyed among other things more tomatoes and figs that were in full season as well as blackberries that we picked along the hiking trails.

Stay tuned for future posts on tapas surprises, a very special evening at La Oliva in Granada, and hiking and dining in the Alpujarra and Sierra Nevada. One thing I took away from this trip is that the Moorish-Spanish/European fusion found in Andalusia applies not only to architecture (Mudejar) but also to food. Starting with notes from the dinners we had at Las Chimeneas in Mairena, Nevada and the reading I am doing in Sam and Sam Clark's  (Moro) cookbooks, I hope to further explore this hybrid in my own kitchen in the months ahead.

Olives and "black" tomatoes fresh from the barkeep's garden served as tapas at a small restaurant/bar in Mairena.

Trail-side blackberries.