I’m on a serious cherry kick lately. I can’t get enough of them… We have gone through almost 10 pounds in the last month because they always seem to find their way into my cart. You know, just in case I need more. I’ve been putting them in everything from cakes to oatmeal and this week, I decided to go a savory route. If you are unfamiliar with chutney, let me give you a quick description. It’s like a relish, it has sweet and sour ingredients, usually coming from sugar or fruits and vinegar. It is a blend of sweet and savory. It’s a great condiment to use with grilled meats or vegetables and this chutney went splendidly with a grilled flank steak.
This chutney was paired with grilled meat, but it can also be a great addition to a cheese board or a charcuterie platter or even as a tasty spread on a hearty sandwich.
Cherry season is nearly over, so don’t wait too long to grab a couple of pounds. I’ll be making another big batch before the summer is over to put up on the shelves so I can enjoy them long after they disappear from the stores.
A sweet & sour condiment made from fresh cherries, perfect on grilled meat.
This is officially my first post for the Sunday Supper group and it is rather serendipitous the way things work out. You’ll see what I mean in a second… The theme this week is “The Big Game” and everyone knows what game I’m referring to: Denver Broncos vs Carolina Panthers. My other half is a HUGE Denver Broncos fan, so this game is a Very Big Deal.
Last year, we spent a few days in Denver and I needed supplies for a quinoa salad I was making for about 100 people so we stopped into a local restaurant supply store. In front of the store were two lovely Mexican women making gorditas. I struck up a conversation with them and found out they were mother and daughter. We had quite a lovely chat about Mexico and I must tell you, they made the best gordita filled with rajas that I have had since living in Guadalajara. It was the perfect amount of heat. The peppers were charred to perfection, the gordita was filled with gooey queso and I had fresh salsa verde on the side.
I opened the kitchen door to our house and the heady scent of yeast met me as soon as I crossed the threshold. That is an unmistakable scent. It stopped me in my tracks, book bag still slung across my shoulder. A smell I would soon start to look forward to. Anticipation of very good things to come. I came to appreciate the vast difference between store-bought bread and bread that had been brought to life in the gathering place of my home. Yeast fermenting, bubbling away in a bowl set aside waiting to be introduced to a snowy pile of flour.
We were starting our “bread” module in culinary school, I walked into the room and could hardly wait to get started. There is something about the cool, smooth texture of bread dough that always makes me happy. Rolling your shoulders forward and really kneading it; pushing with the heel of your hand and pulling it back toward you, feeling the dough come to life and slowly begin to change. It transforms beneath your hands from a sticky mess into a beautiful, almost silky, elastic dough.
My first restaurant job was as a “garde manger”, which literally translates as keeper of the food. It is a bottom-of-the-food-chain position where most culinary graduates begin. In addition to the hot and cold appetizers, soup and desserts, I was also tasked with making rolls. In time it became my moment of peace in a whirlwind of chaotic activity. Servers running from one place to the next, polishing forks and knives; line cooks taking stairs two by two trying to make their way from the walk-in cooler in the basement back upstairs into the kitchen to finish prepping for service; the clanging of pots and pans as dishwashers set clean ones at each of our stations. Those few minutes kneading dough became the only moments of peace I would have for the next 10 hours.
As many of you are fully aware, I have an exploding tomato population. I went a bit “Little House on the Prairie” thinking I needed to sow all my seeds to get me through the long, hard winter on the farm apparently. Well, now… I am reaping what I have sown. PUN. FULLY. INTENDED.
It’s mass chaos back there. I think the tomatoes get together in some sort of secret society at night while I’m sleeping, plotting to overthrow me. One day I may wake up to them all crouched down waiting to pounce (think: Lord of the Flies). OK, clearly I’ve gone off on a tangent… Continue reading →
I know what you’re thinking. Another soup recipe? Seriously?! In my defense, I didn’t mean to… Honestly. This bag of lentils was meant for a “higher purpose” other than another batch of soup. I had seen a recipe in one of the numerous food magazines that arrives at this address using lentils. It looked so good. It was all gloss and glamour, the kind of photo that belongs tucked inside of a black plastic wrapper. You know the kind of photo I’m talking about. It made lentils look sexy and that my friends is no easy task.
Well, that was my intention. And then a cold front came through. Goodbye sexy lentils and hello lentil soup. So you see, it really isn’t my fault at all that I’m posting yet another soup recipe. Blame Mother Nature, she can take it. Continue reading →
“Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor’s Kitchen”. As soon as I walk into this space, I know if that were a real commandment, I’d be breaking it. And breaking it hard. Those of us who cook and are forced challenged to “get creative” with minuscule kitchens feel the sting every time we walk into someone elses’s beautiful kitchen. We look at their (audible gasp) cabinet space, counter space & WHAT?! You have built in ovens AND a center island?!
OK, maybe that’s just me… I look at my tiny space & feel a tinge of frustration, but remind myself that plenty of people have it worse. Although it doesn’t usually make me feel much better when I’m balancing things on top of one another just to find a little extra space to set down a cutting board. Continue reading →
I’ll be honest with you, I was in the grocery store with a big loaf of crusty bread in my hand thinking “What’s the big deal… I’ll just buy it instead of making it”, but I JUST. COULDN’T. DO. IT.
So, I put that gorgeous loaf of bread back amongst it’s friends and headed home to start the focaccia.
I pulled out the stand mixer, made my dough, let it rise… Placed it ever so lovingly on my sheet pan to puff up again before sliding it in the oven… And yet, something was amiss. It just didn’t look quite right, but I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. Once it was time for the bread to come out of the sauna, I realized I had a bit of a problem.
Not really sure how I screwed it up, but it was more of a focaccia pancake. It didn’t rise properly and looked rather pathetic. So I salvaged what I could, not wanting to waste everything and started over.
Truth be told, the Ohio State game was on and I was a tad distracted… There, I’ve said it. I wasn’t paying attention to my work, I was watching football.
That’s what happened.
Bacon, Eggs, Cheese, Pasta.
It seems every time I make pasta, I always have leftovers. Every. Single. Time. I used to hear the phrase “your eyes are bigger than your stomach” on an almost daily basis and I think it may still be true.
So, seeing that sad bit of pasta hanging out in the fridge I felt the need to rescue it. I’m not a fan of throwing food in the garbage (unless of course it has started to look like a science experiment gone horribly wrong). With that sense of resolve, I scanned the kitchen to see how this bit of leftover pasta could transcend its current state into something seriously good.
Staring into the refrigerator, I felt a bit like the woman from “Romper Room”… you remember her right? She would look through her looking glass and say the names of the kids she saw. Every week I waited and waited to hear my name. Never happened.
This is about the time of year when people who are lucky enough to have prolific gardens start to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of gorgeous bright red tomatoes and beautiful zucchini that their loving care has yielded. A problem I’d like to have, quite honestly…
Growing up, my grandparents next door neighbors had a garden behind their house. By the end of July, it was practically bursting at the seams. Every summer we were the grateful recipients of brown paper grocery bags filled with tomatoes and cucumbers from his garden. The trade off was the newspaper. One of us was sent next door to give them the paper every day after my grandparents had read it and in turn, every few days he left a bag of fresh from the ground veggies on the back porch. Not a bad arrangement.
If you find yourself overrun with tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, etc… this recipe is perfect! It utilizes all of the wonderful produce of summer in a healthy vegetarian dish that is… well, super yummy.
Ratatouille can be eaten warm, at room temperature or even cold. It is substantial enough to stand on its own or it can be served alongside roast chicken or tossed through your favorite pasta.
I have sandwiched it in a crusty ciabatta roll for lunch or served it on sliced, toasted baguettes as an hors d’oeuvre with a glass of wine. This recipe is the epitome of summer, there really is no wrong way to enjoy it.
The above is one of my favorite quotes from Julia Child, one of the gutsiest broads to ever hoist a meat cleaver. (and I use that term lovingly)
On August 15th of this year, Julia would have turned 100 years old and I’d like to think would still be cooking.
In the 100 days leading up to Julia’s birthday, the JC100 is celebrating this culinary powerhouse and her recipes. Each week, a new recipe is featured and this weeks offering was Coq au Vin… one of my all time favorites.
I remember watching Julia & Jacques and loved her candor and fearless approach to cooking. She made it seem fun and most importantly, possible. She had a way of walking her audience through a recipe that made complex dishes seem effortless and isn’t that all we really want? To feel like anything is possible?