Saturday, December 24, 2011
I don't know about you, but I have seen so many christmas dinner ideas on the internet that I feel full, even before I had an actual celebration dinner. Last night my mother and I enjoyed some quality time together with some fresh food and managed to get a festive night between the two of us, without feeling the next morning like we ate an entire pig. In fact that's how I have been making food decisions for the last two weeks now. Here are some of the things i managed to get on camera:
The dish below is my variation on a local winter dish called hutsepot, which is basically a stew from different kinds of meat and vegetables and not to be confused with the dutch dish called hutspot, which is in essence a mash of potatoes and carrots. I made mine with bacon, instead of the usual variety of stock meats, this allows the dish to be made quicker and in smaller quantities. The winter vegetables I used were brussels sprouts and turnips as well as some celery and potato.
Some tacos with some stir-fried vegetables, turkey breast and avocado. Its not like one can buy corn tortillas here, and I knew that ahead of time, so I managed to bring over a tortilla press from NY as well as some masa seca. When that runs out however, I guess I will have to make my own. In fat I am drying some field corn from the late fall now, so when the time comes, I'll let you all know how that goes.
For the casual sandwich I made some vegetable spread, simply by putting some cooked white beans, the rest of my stir-fry and avocado in the blender with some salt. That turned out really great and I definitely recommend trying it.
Of course some christmas gifts had to be made also. I was able to fill these cookies with my grandmother's jam btw, isn't that a nice collaboration?
Simple vegetable stock. I used the bottom and outer leaves of both a fennel and a celery, two small onions cut in big chunks, some whole cloves of garlic, a bay leaf, some thyme springs and some whole black peppercorns and salt. I ended up using it for baking a local fish called Brill with some lemon juice and a coarsely chopped shallot and some jerusalem artichoke. These root vegetables are low in starch and go lovely with seafood.
To go with the brill, I made a variation on Heidi's wintersquash salad and some brusselssprouts "cole slaw" with toasted pumpkin seeds, kohlrabi and a dressing of apple cider, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. I also added some home dried apple.
Did you notice the heart in the dried apple? I sliced the apple first and then sued a cookie cutter to take the seed house out. I think they made a super cute garnish as well as a decoration for around the stem of a champagne glass.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Although the cycle of life is nothing new, my attention has recently been drawn more and more to the phenomenon and the vague lines between the old and the new. I guess winter would be the natural time of year to hold still and think about what that means, but its been a steady recurrent theme for me lately. There is the obvious theme of my old neighborhood becoming my new neighborhood and what feels like yesterday in New York is slowly becoming a distant past. But, last week, I have heard of 2 families in the neighborhood who had to go though the horror of burying their baby, while in the same week, two friends of mine have become proud parents for the second time. This is all very overwhelming and yet very hard to imagine what exactly it is those people are going though. Deep pain and intense joy that change can bring.
My mother's new home is an old farm in the French Provence. She has a vegetable patch there and with the winter here and brought me these vegetables on her last ride back. Of course, coming from an own garden, these are so pure, its almost a shame to do anything to them other then just eat them the way they are. The beets and the squash, were roasted in the oven with nothing more then some olive oil, salt, pepper and some fresh herbs. With the chard and a verity of onions I was able to make some quiches. To make a quiche you need to do nothing more then make a classic piecrust, sauté some vegetables for the filling and mix some eggs with some cheese and some cream to poor over the whole thing before it goes in the oven. This basic principle creates so many possibilities that is a shame to post a recipe here, so, I wont. Be creative, use what you have in your fridge and omit or replace the items you don't have. The Technique for the piecrust is also simple; Put 1 cup all purpose flour (or a combination of flours, even almond meal works great) in a bowl and add 3/4 cup of cold, hard butter and about 5 tablespoons of ice water. Use a pastry blender or a food processor to pulse the flour and the butter to a course sand, add ice water one tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together. Do not kneed the dough, but refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes before rolling out and lining your tartlet pans.
In the light of turning something old into something new, this piece of furniture is on the to do list. Don't you just love these ancient bolts? The idea is to restore this wardrobe into a linen closet early spring 2012. Wish me luck!