Saturday, December 31, 2011

Plus an hour ...

You didn't think that I would let 2011 go out without a recipe did you? I am totally sneaking this in so I have to make it quick but there was no way I was going to let this year go by without sharing this with you. And what else could I possibly do but leave you with a real, honest to goodness Panatone recipe.

That takes a week to make. Plus an hour.


It's a big recipe. It requires time and love. It is totally traditional and completely amazing. Just like I hope your new year is going to be.

Time to dish.

Insanely time consuming completely amazing Panatone
(Cuccina Italiana) 

**So the gist of it is this: You make a cool starter, which takes a week to develop, and there is some lengthy leavening, and then, there is Panatone heaven.**

Here is what you need for the starter:

  • 2-2.5 cups of unbleached all purpose flour (measured out in 1/2 cup portions)
  • 2-2.5 cups of whole wheat flour (measured as above)
  • 3-3.5 cups of room temperature water (measured out in 3/4 cup portions)

Here is what you need for the Poolish (Pre-Ferment):

  • 1/4 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of room temperature water
  • 1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon of active dry yeast

Here is what you need for the dough:

  • 3 and 3/4 cups of unbleached all purpose flour (more if needed)
  • 1/2 a cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of fine sea salt
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons of active dry yeast
  • 3 large eggs
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of whole milk (no skimping here with less fat okay...)
  • 1 and 1/4 cups of currants, soaked in warm water (or warm rum) for 10 minutes and then drained
  • 6 ounces of candied orange peel cut into small dice
  • 2 and a 1/2 tablespoons of honey
  • 3 tablespoons of quality extra virgin olive oil
  • Finely grated zest of three lemons and three oranges
  • 1 vanilla bean split lengthwise, scraped and reserved
  • 14 tablespoons of cold, unsalted butter

Phfeww! Are you guys still with me? Okay, here we go.

Here is what to do for the starter:

  1. One week before your Panatone dough adventure starts, get a bowl out and mix the following: 1.5 cups each of the all purpose and whole wheat flours and add 3/4 cups of the water. Stir into a batter like mix. Then cover with a cheesecloth and leave it alone for three days. Yep. Three. You will smell it baby!
  2. Now, uncover, stir together, and throw out half the mixture. This is the beginning of your started dears..Now add again as above 1.5 cups of each of the flours and 3/4 cups of the water, give a stir, cover and leave it for two days.
  3. At this point repeat the "feeding" process (same quantities of everything) and leave it for another 1-2 days until the starter is "ripe". It will bubble and smell sweet and lactic, kind of like yogurt, and a small spoonful will float in water.

Here is what to do for the Poolish (night before baking the Panatone):

  1. Get another bowl and mix the flour, water and yeast and let stand at room temperature for 10-12 hours.

Here is what to do for the dough:

  1. Yet another bowl must come out. Preferably one of an electric mixer or your hands will be really tired...Once out, blend together flour, sugar, salt and yeast. In another bowl, combine 3/4 cups of starter, all of the poolish, whole eggs, egg yolks, and milk.
  2. With your mixer on low, slowly add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until everything belongs together. About five minutes ...Let the dough rest for about 20 minutes...
  3. Now, in another large bowl(have you kept count of how many we are at here?) mix together currants, candied orange peels, honey, oil, lemon and orange zests, and vanilla and put it aside.
  4. Butter time! Cut the butter into medium pieces, put between two pieces of saran wrap, then flatten out. Return flattened butter to fridge. Come on now! Breathe! You can do it!
  5. Mix the rest of the dough on medium speed for 6-8 minutes. With the mixer running, add the butter piece by piece until all is incorporated and the dough is smooth.
  6. Then take the bowl out of the mixer, using your hands now, add the currant mixture to the dough to incorporate completely, then take dough and put it in a huge bowl, cover and let rise for two hours.
  7. Turn dough once, then cover and let rise again for about another 2 hours.

It's time to bake!!! Haleluiah!!!

  1. Coat your Panatone molds with butter and put molds on a baking sheet. Decide your kick ass dough into rounds and place in molds about half way. Let the dough rise until it reaches the height of the papers, about 1-2 hours..I swear, we will bake it...
  2. Heat the oven to 400 with rack in the middle and bake! For about 15-17 minutes. Keep an eye on it, you'll know ...

Then dear readers, take it out, let it cool, and enjoy something from a time gone by.

Love and happy 2012,


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What I learned ...

Well, here it is. Three days to go until the New Year. A stack of late Christmas cards on my table. Patiently and knowingly (always late) waiting to be filled and mailed... Me, sitting in the kitchen being distracted by nightfall, snow and the blue lights outside ... reflecting (instead of getting to said cards) ... What a year it has been dear readers. Really. If I had to describe it in one word, that word would be scary. It is not a fancy word, but it is a word filled with truth.

Cards ...they so know they are going to be late ...

Distractions ...

This year has been a year filled with change and growth for me dear readers. Mostly in heart and spirit. Mostly because I had no choice. I've had to face many challenges and many fears. To look at life, people, relationships and myself in a light that I had never known before. And I had all the time in the world, in which to do it. My sabbatical is nothing like I thought it would be. I guess I kind of had an inkling of an idea that giving myself so much time on my hands after not having any for ..oh ..I don't know ..ever ..would have some kind of reflective, existential consequences but boy was I not prepared for the sheer physical and mental mind-bend of it all.

I'm going to share what I's personal, a little all over the place if you don't mind, and another scary thing to add to the proverbial list ...

This year dear readers, I learned to slow down. To take better care of my body because it is the only one I have and it feels really really good when I do. That I need to move. To sweat. To have screaming, kid like, heart pounding fun. I learned that I am very uncomfortable (like panic inducing uncomfortable) not having control and structure in work. I learned why. And to let that go a little more every day. I learned to be vulnerable. I learned to accept some of the not so pleasant parts of myself (yes, I have some :) because they are part of who I am. To soften up a little. To judge less. To be there for myself. I learned that I need to pay more attention to nature and light and cycles because they are a part of me and influence my well being tremendously. That I love rituals and marking the changes of time. I learned to talk about myself and that I would not burst into flames or die of shame if I did. That I cannot help sometimes no matter how hard I try. I learned that I cannot fix everything and that's okay. That I don't always have to be nice. That it is okay to be tired.

I learned to be okay with being scared, uncertain, in limbo and without a clear path for the moment, and to move forward anyway. I learned that everything I think I know (even the sealed in stone huge stuff) can change at any moment. And, that the human capacity for transformation and growth is a marvel.

Now, on to my dried flowers and other such things. I know I know, a little abrupt, but hey, a girl can only take so much heart on sleeve very public soul bearing. So, what I also wanted to share with you are some little things that put a smile on my face and remind me that things will be warm, bright and green again soon.

Time to dish photos ...

Flowers in jars on counter tops ..
Braided garlic and fuschia  flowers hanging on ancient sandwich press ...
Dried flowers ...
Red berries on dark branches ...

Wreaths made out of grapevines with dried grapes still hanging on them ...

Big, beautiful, regular wreaths ...

Happy New Year dear readers. As old fashioned as it sounds, may all your dreams come true.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

People will bow down ...

To get straight to the point, I am not a baker.

So. Not. A. Baker.

Proof: **I literally freaked out when shopping for this recipe and standing in the butter area I literally had to look five times at my phone because I was completely incredulous (I actually gasped) that these two, teeny, tiny cookie recipes could use that much butter. And the worst part was, as I left it hit me, I needed more butter, I had to double the recipes. It was nuts. And don't even get me started on the glucose and corn syrup ...Oh, and then when I realized I had to wait ... for the temperature butter...**.

Butter people much butter ...

Back to story: I must say that I have always wanted to be a baker, to bake that is, but frankly, it scares me. The sheer preciseness of it all scares me. I naturally lean toward sublime chaos in the kitchen. The kind where you let your inspiration take you wherever it wants to that day. No holds barred. Aprons be donned it's going to get messy! You get the point. I am afraid of a whole cooking world that is so measured. So precise. So linear. So full of calories. Over the years, in attempts to gently nudge myself in the baking direction, I have bought baking related items, been given them as gifts and one by one, their fate awaited them. They were to live a lonely life under the kitchen sink (which I do not have at the moment). After some time went by, as it does, I would inevitably, and guiltily, pry open the door, look at them abandoned under the sink (I mostly, and guiltily, avoided their stares each time I opened the cupboards) and feel bad. For an object. I realize. Said bad feeling caused me to then head immediately for nearest charity to give sad unused baking items away... only to need them exactly one day after I had given them away because that was the day I needed to bake! Naturally.

This time though dear readers, it's really happening. I really need to bake (there's my friend's bazaar you see...) and I just gave away my kitchen aid super baking bowlmixercontraption thingie about two weeks ago and now I need it. I need it because I am baking some scary chocolate cookies and then some really scary chantrelle cookies. But I don't have it so my bare hands it is. And, I am doing it at the perfect time for someone with no baking tools and a baking phobia. The time during which I have no sink, no running water, a half finished countertop and no dishwasher (due to no running water). Because in my world, dear readers, when one is renovating a kitchen and has no sink, no running water, a half finished countertop and no dishwasher (due to no running water), it's time to bake 6 dozen cookies!

Anyhow, I could not make the scary chocolate cookies yet because it was just too much to bake both in said kitchenless kitchen (especially because it's a crazy recipe from Christina and requires advanced techniques perfect for the novice baker such as myself ...yes ...) so I made the ridiculous Chantrelle mushroom cookies I had a recipe for from an artisinal mushroom drier I met at this launch. And to make a flour filled, buttered out, nail-biting long story short, they are awesome. The bomb. I don't want you to be afraid of them because you will miss out on their awesomeness. Make them and people will bow down to your awesome cookie. Okay, too much sugar.

Time to dish.

The Bomb Chantrelle Butter Cookies

Here is what you need:

  • 2 and a half cups of flour
  • 1/2 a cup of gorgeous ground dried Chantrelles (grind in your spice or coffee grinder) they smell like heaven...I'm just saying ...
  • 1 and a quarter cups of butter room temperature, nerve wracking wait ...I'm just saying ...
  • 2/3rds of a cup of granulated sugar
  • 1/2 a tablespoon of beautiful vanilla extract

Here is what to do:

  1. Sift your flour, grind your mushrooms, then combine.
  2. Wait for the butter to come to room temperature ...wait ...wait ...
  3. Then mix together with the sugar and vanilla extract until a smooth yummy paste. Once you've done that and your arms hurt, mix in the dry mixture and combine until you have a super cool cookie dough. Then form into balls, squash a little and bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 12 minutes. Put a timer on. I learned. Then try not to eat ten of them at the same time. I learned.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Once I looked down ...

Hurray! A free morning! In between things! Yeesh. It's been pretty crazy around here the for last couple of weeks dear readers. An unending rushing stream of meetings, out of town visitors (aka Dad, I know he's singular...but it felt plural), dinner parties (Kosher lamb leg sword fight dinner parties with peer pressure fist pumping chant's of "Do it for the blog!" - excellent excuse for grown people to pick up giant lamb leg, bite into it growling and holding it up in victory...yes, you read right, I'll tell you about it), planning dinner parties, shopping for dinner parties, balancing, being at the market three days a week, property buying adventures, launching dish. private cooking lessons and catering to boutique dinner parties (so. much. fun.), shucking bags of beans, making mini lamb meatball and zucchini leaf soup, stuffing peppers, roasting peppers, drying peppers (see Facebook profile pepper rant), peeling thousands of gooseberries, buying lots of wool things (blankets, skins, socks and other such things) preparing our home for Fall and Winter, picking pumpkins and this awesome event.

Which is what I want to tell you about today. The thing though is this... the evening took a slight...shall we say... twist. Between the location, the people, the food and the event itself, somewhere along the line, my obsessions got the best of me. Quelle surprise right? So there I was, in the middle of it all. With my media badge. The sun, the water, the boats, the cookies, the truffles, the over seven hundred plus (neuroses exposing) people, the chefs preparing for burger battle, the food critics preparing their burger palates and insane badass criteria lists ...I was preparing my strategy for photos, wondering how I was going to eat everything (the burgers were seriously huge), proudly and gleefully admiring the Birri boxes (which I see all day at the market) which were the staple for the chefs burger garnishes and generally scoping out the scene...when I saw this:

It was innocent. I thought nothing of it, (except oh! how cool!) snapped a pic, and went on my merry way, stall to stall, tasting all the awesome concoctions these awesome chefs had, well, concocted, if you will. I had boudin and dark chocolate burger (team GDS! awesome idea, I told you there would be blood...), I snapped a pic. I had a foie gras burger, I snapped a pic. I had a chicken fried chili burger, I snapped a pic. I had a pulled pork and fig burger, I snapped a pic.  But a little secret here ...the pics were all of shoes! Of shoes for heaven's sake. You should have seen me, burger in hand taking a bite, mmm'ing and ammm'ing and oh, these are so good'ing and then eeeever so caaaasually my head would just kind of... turn and look down ... at shoes. I simply couldn't help myself. Once I looked down, that was it. For the rest of the night I walked around snapping peoples shoes, while normal people were snapping burgers. Indeed.

Obsessive shoe snapping:

I also got a bunch of really cool shots (between obsession shots of course) of the "other" stuff, you know, the burgers and the people and the actual relevant stuff... Take a look at dish. on flickr my dear readers until I figure out how to construct a photo page on our little blog here. Yours and mine. Feels cool. In the meantime ...

Time to dish.

The most delicate Mini Lamb Meatball and Zucchini Stem Minestrone

** A little note. Zucchini stems are completely awesome. They have this wonderfully unique flavor and they hold up incredibly well during cooking. They don't disintegrate into nothingness and have a beautiful color to boot even after cooking. You don't see them around often and the zucchini stems that were used for this recipe were brought to the market by a little, old, hunched over Italian lady that picks them from the fields. She brings these goodies often in the Fall. Look out for them at your local market or ask your farmers/vendors where you can get them. It is completely worth the effort. **

Here is what you need for the Mini Lamb Meatballs:

  • Ground lovingly farm raised fatty lamb
  • One beautiful egg
  • Small handful of fennel seeds
  • Sea salt
  • Ground pepper
  • Cayenne pepper, small pinch
  • Olive oil
  • Finely chopped parsley
  • Finely chopped fennel fronds (if you have them)

Here is what you need for the rest of the soup:

  • Two bunches of Zucchini stems, chopped about five inches above the starting point of the stem (below that is not tender)
  • Onions, finely chopped
  • Garlic, smashed
  • Water (no broth required because the flavor of the zucchini stem is so amazing)
  • Sea salt
  • Cracked pepper
  • Lemon juice, lots

Here is what to do to make the mini lamb meatballs:

  1. Combine all your beautiful  mini lamb meatball ingredients into a big bowl and then get in there with your hands and mix. That is about it dear readers. Once mixed, roll into mini meatballs. Honestly nothing more to it. As little or as big as you like them. I have to thank loving husband here (thank you Axel) who rolled them for me while I was tending to the chopping. We have been cooking together more often these days and I really like it. He has a lovely touch.
  2. Once rolled, heat grape seed oil in a pan, medium high heat and brown these little suckers. Don't crowd them because you want to get it over with though. You'll steam their beautiful globeness instead of browning them. Once done set aside. 

Here is what to do for the rest of the soup:

  1. In a large soup pot, heat olive oil and add your onions, garlic and sautee for about ten minutes. Then add your chopped zucchini stems. Stir and sautee for another five minutes. Add the rest of your ingredients, your meatballs, cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer until stems are tender and meatballs are happily cooked. About half an hour'ish. Taste to know for sure. Add a little more lemon juice. Super healthy, so delicious and beautiful for fall and winter. That's it dear readers. See you soon. x

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Someone gray, someone fuzzy ...

I am going to tell you about someone special today dear readers. Someone gray. Someone fuzzy. Someone I love with all my heart. You may remember meeting her here a while back. Today, I am going to tell you guys about Napa. It must be today because she does something really special and this morning she did it and I just couldn't take the cuteness by myself anymore. I had to share. So here I am this lovely sunny glittery morning, sitting on my bed paying bills, going through paperwork, creating constant distractions to get myself out of said paperwork, ordering daily planners, calling governments, landing on a special agent and wondering how some people survive (I mean really), and all of a sudden perched right in front of me, is Napa. Holding a little piece of plastic in her mouth and dropping it right under my nose. She then proceeds, with big anxious Napa eyes, to look down at it, then up at me, then down at it, then up at me, then down at it, then up at me, imploring me, saying come on! throw it! let's go! It's the cutest thing ever. She brings me crumpled pieces of paper, elastics, a toy pac pac ball that fits in her mouth (barely, it's awesome ), pens, sticks and once, I kid you not, I spotted  her walking toward me with a duster in her mouth. It was twice her size. I wanted to eat her. We play for hours sometimes. I throw, she brings back. Playing fetch with a cat is awesome. Especially when she instigates it. With this look. It's the best.
This look ...and paw on leg ...
Eyeing the target ...
She is also so smart and notices everything. Neurotic and a bit of a diva. When she gets mad (usually because I pester her) she gets a bit of a crazy look in her eye and then pounces on me (well, my ankle, to be precise) paws spread. I looked for her for a long time. When I got her she didn't purr. I taught her how. She was the runt of her litter and because the other kittens wouldn't play with her, she went and promptly attacked the younger litter. Smaller than her. She is a bit nuts. She was her daddy's favorite. She is always beside us no matter where we are. She runs happily to us when we call her and she has a beautiful voice. I love when she speaks. She is also the same color as our blanket.


Time to dish.

Completely Unrelated to Post Awesome Ambercup and Sweet Mama Squash soup
(Very healthy this one is...oanayoda ...)

Here is what you need:

  • One Ambercup Squash, steamed and sliced, skin on (gives gorgeous color)
  • One Sweet Mama Squash, sliced, steamed and peeled (after steaming)
  • Two garlic cloves, smashed
  • Olive Oil
  • Milk, one percent
  • Chicken Broth
  • Plenty of dried thyme
  • Sea Salt

Here is what to do:

  1. So easy guys. And incredibly delicious, healthy and awesome. So: steam both squash in a bamboo steamer. Set the Sweet Mama aside but roast the Ambercup at 400 degrees until golden brown (this will not take long because squash is already cooked, we are just looking for caramelization here).
  2. In the mean time, heat up extra virgin olive oil, add smashed garlic cloves and sautee until fragrant. Then add your chicken broth, about a liter, dried thyme, about half a tablespoon, and bring to a boil. Then add your milk, about two cups. Add both squash. Cook for about five minutes.Take half the soup (reserving some whole squash pieces for serving) and puree in a blender. Add back to your pot with the non-blended portion, stir, plate, drizzle a little olive oil, enjoy. It's the best. **I serve mine with cheddar crostini and sauteed red long chili peppers as a garnish**

Monday, October 31, 2011

And now, the recipe ...

I know I know, you can't take it anymore! You must know! Which is it for heaven's sake?! Steadfast food snobs or complete culinary converts?! The anticipation is killing you! Well ...

The chip is out of the bag ...

Success. My closet guilty pleasure is now, well, let's just say the chip is out of the bag. We have achieved the very elusive complete culinary conversion dear readers.  The chip bag is empty. I repeat, the chip bag is empty.

I knew I had it in the proverbial chip bag when I started to pile on the cheese. Picture this: the bottom slice was broiled, oiled, rubbed with garlic, cheesed, topped with chips and cheesed again. Then, it started. The subtle peeks over the shoulder, the what did you put on top of that it looks not too bad proceeding to wow, that looks really really good proceeding to when will it be ready? (either they were hooked or they were really hungry).

Between you and me, I made sure to open the oven at the most opportune times allowing for maximum olfactory advantage. When your battle is this epic you have to pull out all the stops.

The moment of truth:

Let the crumbs speak for themselves.

Fellow food lovers, you should have seen it. The senses kicked in and salivating, savoring, crunching began and sounds were coming out.  Then, behold, the widening of eyes, the flavors registering and, the ultimate compliment:  this would make great pub food, you know, in a bar, after beer, and lots of drinking ... soooooo goood ... Yes!

For those of you who are looking at this thinking you shouldn't ... you totally should. I'll give you a few reasons so you can sleep at night. Laugh as loud as you will but this is the perfect fall food (yes I dare) in moderation because it replenishes salt lost during the summer months of heat and sweating. It gives the needed fat (yes, needed fat) to prepare the skin for the moisture depletion of the next 6 months of dehydration (at least on the east coast Canadian end). It gives you antioxidants from the fresh garlic and the good fats from the olive oil.

I guess this would be a good time to dish so:

Here is what you need:

2 slices of bread of your choice (crusty outsides and soft insides are my loves)
1 small clove of garlic
1 bag of lays ( big or small depends on how grand pow!pow!pow! you want your sandwich to be)
peppery olive oil 
extra old cheddar (shaved or grated), no mild will do.
mayo (good stuff please, it is a chip sandwich after all)
yellow mustard (go retro!)

Here is what to do:

1. Pre-toast both slices of bread in the oven at 350 to your desired crispiness. Drizzle the "bottom toast" with olive oil, rub it with a fresh clove of garlic and top it with cheese. Gingerly place the chips on top of the cheesy bread (they drop like lead if you are not careful).Then, you guessed it, gingerly, place the cheese on top of the barely balanced chips (if you lose some, cheese or chips, panic not, just pick up, discard and replenish).

2. Once perfect, place cheesed chip bread in a 350 oven for as long as it takes the cheese to melt (for me, 1.5 minutes on broil and on the very top rack)

3. At this point, adorn the "top toast" with mayo and yellow mustard and place (I know you know what's coming here) gingerly, on top of your perfectly finished chip sandwich.

Bon appetit dear reader.

And thank you for keeping an open mind.

Happy Halloween dear readers.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Together for the ride ...

It was exactly a year ago today dear readers. At 5:05pm. I remember the day well. It was cool, like today. It was gray and chilly and I was sitting in my study, debating. It was a pretty scary idea. The idea of taking my innermost (nutty, neurotic included) thoughts and putting them out there in the world. For all to see and scrutinize. I sat and thought, and typed. I swore I would always be honest. No matter how whacked. It went on for a few hours. And then, I clicked publish. 

And off we went. Together for the ride. 

I want to thank you, dear readers, for being there and cooking with me and commenting and not judging my confessions and neuroses and enjoying and, most of all, to thank you for reading. I love knowing that you are there. It warms my heart. We've crossed all continents and cultures in this past year and it has been a heck of a ride. I can't wait to continue.

In honor of this special day and in honor of humble beginnings, I'm going back. To the beginning. Here is how it all started. Happy One Year Anniversary dishchronicles. A glass lifted to many more adventures.

Humble beginnings ...

Ever since I can remember, I have been in love with food. My earliest childhood memory is of raiding the cupboards for the freshly delivered yogurt from the milkman. My grandmother took great care to place the jugs out of reach on the highest cupboards possible but at the tender age of four, I had a plan. The stories of my being caught precariously balancing on teetering books, jug in hand, little palms covered in yogurt because I stuck my hand inside the jar to get it out (how else could it be done) and guilty look on my face topped of with a thick creamy yogurt mustache always bring me a smile. Good times.
I was the cause of great drama in the kitchen to the dismay of all the elders in the house, with incessant nagging about how and why. Not paying attention to me was not an option.  I was this mini fireball whirling around with a thousand questions. I loved the noise, the smells, the colors and textures, the arguments the ladies would get into when there was a question about what the best way to do something was. I was right there with my opinion should they need it.
You can imagine then, how well this went off in Romania in the very early eighties withvery stern Eastern European grandmothers and aunts trying to prepare for company. The occasional threats of spankings and being chased around the house with a shoe in their hand waiving furiously and mumbling something I could not quite make out due to running for it were well worth it.
As a teenager, my tastes were not so discerning (aka: I was broke) but even when I made my mac and cheese out of a box or my hamburger helper, yes, out of a box, I felt compelled to make them my own. I was adding all kinds of things to them, some good and some not so good but always experimenting with textures and flavors. I am about to let you in on a secret. Only three people in the world know this about me. One of my favorite things discovered during this frugal period was the chip sandwich. Yes, you heard right. The chip sandwich. To the horror of the one person who has actually witnessed my creation (the other two know only through legend), and to be frank, to mine because I cannot believe my first dish shared will be a chip sandwich for goodness sake but here we are, I would bite ravenously into what I consider to be the snack of all snacks.
Now, you have to be brave to try this. You will battle food snobbery, face disbelieving friends, deal with grimacing faces and shouts of are you nuts! and how could you eat that! but if you can get past these things, you will discover one of life’s very guilty pleasures.
The original, in all its plastic 60’s style glory, was composed of the whitest sugary Wonder Bread (yup, here I am with Wonder Bread in my blog) so soft that if you pinched it, it would be thin as paper and super salty and crispy regular lays chips. Step one, separate your bread slices. Step two, place a mountain of chips on top of one slice. Step three, place your other slice on top of the pile, squish down hard and voila! I tell you the soft texture and sweetness of the “bread” against the crunchy crispiness and saltiness of the chips …perfection. When I was feeling fancy, I would add yellow mustard. Mmmmmm …
 Okay, nostalgia and shock aside, since it seems that by some cosmic joke this was meant to be the first recipe I share with you dear readers (I hope you don’t judge me and tune in for the next one) I will write here a more shall we say … delicate version of the abovementioned so you can have high class snack with your beer. I am going to test the recipe tonight on two unsuspecting dinner guests and let you know how that went. Steadfast food snobs or complete culinary converts … stay tuned…

Monday, September 19, 2011

There will be blood ...

I have a few posts coming up for you dear readers. It has been a crazy couple of weeks. In between, I had to sneak this in. This is a first for me dear readers. A food event that I am on the non consuming end of. I've never been on the non consuming (of course, I am going to consume but that will not be my number one priority... as it usually is) side of a food event before. This will be my first. And it's a competition. For charity. I want to win. For charity! I'm nervous and excited. I'm curious and somewhat (seriously) on edge. Six hundred and fifty people in one space does that to me...that is the number of people that will be there. Breathe in...breathe out... neuroses on display ...

Very public display of innermost neuroses aside, what food event you say? This one. Some really cool people from some really cool restaurants in Montreal, are cooking, yep, some really cool burgers in a competition to help an amazing organization help some amazing street kids get back on their feet. Today I met my Chef, owner and partner in crime. He's cool, charity close to his heart, he's cooked with the poor and in monasteries for orphans. I can't wait to tell you more about him. Let the burgers be made and the games begin.  I assure you, there will be blood ...but in a good way! Come on!

Amazing organization and team GDS ...

Now, since my stories are human ones and will come to you after said event takes place (and I've consumed everything and talked to everyone and shot countless pics and procured secret recipes and for sure have gotten myself into some predicament or other) I leave you with a pesto recipe. A very different one. You'll love it. Ready?

Time to dish.

Sage and Garlic Stem Pesto

Here is what you need ...

  • One bunch of garlic stems
  • One cup of peppery extra virgin olive oil
  • Two big handful of walnuts
  • Two big handful of pecans
  • Half of a bunch of sage leaves
  • Sea salt
  • Parmesan or Romano (optional, I did not add any cheese to this one and it was awesome)

Here is what to do ...

  1. Ready, this is a doozy ... place all your ingredients in a blender, or mortar and pestle if you have a big enough one and blend! or mash!
Enjoy on toast for breakfast, with or without a juicy tomato, over fresh pasta, as a marinade for lamb or any other animal you enjoy, over fried or cocotte eggs and then crack the yolk in there, in crepes with asparagus and some super sharp cheddar...and so on...and so forth ...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Gathering ...

Today is a day for gathering dear readers. It's a little chilly outside but the sun is out, shining that special light that only graces us as summer is coming to an end. Artists of pen (or stick, stone and feather point, depending on the century, of course) and brush have said it that is the most beautiful light known to man. I tend to agree. Fall is one of my favorite times of year for so many reasons (with the exception of a slight issue I have with what follows Fall, of course). It is my favorite time to cook, eat, be at the market, paint, write, sit still and look, walk, breathe and just be. The sky is huge and the light and everything it illuminates, enchanting. I have always thought of Fall as natures way of giving us a magical feast for all the senses before the sensorial desert arrives.

Well, since it is a day for gathering, I must be off to...well...gather. But, before I go out to collect the herbs in my garden for drying, I have a tomato sauce recipe to share with you dear readers. It is a special one that I look forward to making every year. For those of you who have been requesting it all these years, here it is. For the rest of you dear readers, it's my favorite, and I hope it will be yours too.

Here we go ...

Hang in there ...

One left ...
Ahhhh ....shake it out ...

Time to dish.

Oana's Annual Tomato Sauce

Parenthesis: Yes, I felt a little weird about third personing myself but what the heck, let's be crazy (I may change it tomorrow if the weirdness turns into shame)...And, don't freak out about the cooking time. Just go to sleep or if you do it during the day, pick a lazy Sunday and prepare your favorite series. I just finished with Entourage. I am a little late to the table, as usual, and played catch up so I can appreciate season eight. But that's another story. Here we go.

Here is what you need...

  • A big, huge box of plum tomatoes (aka half a bushel), very ripe. If yours are not so ripe, just leave them on the counter, covered with a cloth for three or four days and they'll come around.
  • Olive oil, one cup
  • Apple cider vinegar, half a cup
  • Sea salt, three tablespoons
  • Sugar, three tablespoons
  • Soy sauce, three tablespoons
  • Balsamic vinegar, half a cup
  • A big huge sauce pot
  • Turkish oily chili flakes, as spicy as you like it baby
  • Butter (optional, some years I use it, some not. It depends on what my palate and thighs are saying to me that year), a quarter of a stick.
  • Garlic, four cloves, smashed
  • A potato masher, yep, that's what I use

Here is what to do...

  1. Wash the tomatoes. Still with me? Okay good. Score the tomatoes, a little X on one side of their little round bodies. It does not matter which one. Once scored, place the tomatoes (in batches because unless you have industrial pots, they will not all fit) into boiling water (must be boiling otherwise you will cook the tomatoes too much) for about three to four minutes. This loosens the skin so that you can peel them.
  2. Peel the tomatoes, and discard the skins (I have not yet been able to figure out another use for them).
  3. In your giant sauce pan, heat your olive oil and add the smashed garlic. Cook until fragrant. Then add your tomatoes and on high heat, bring to a boil. At this point reduce the heat to a low simmer and prepare for ten hours of cooking. What I do is this. Two hours in, I add all the other ingredients, stir and mash the tomatoes with the masher. Then I stir again, leave it for another two hours, stir, mash, check seasonings and then to bed. When I wake up, I stir, mash, check the seasonings and voila, all done. You may add more salt or sugar or acid or spice, depending on your own personal palate but if you do, add it during the last hour of cooking when you have a pretty good idea of what the final sauce is. I say this because flavors concentrate with long cooking times and you may think you need something at the beginning or half way through but it may not be necessary towards the end.
I use this sauce for all kinds of things. Pasta, all kinds, of course. In scallopinis, lasagna and over eggs. Anything Parmesan'ed. Chili. Add some fresh tomatoes, onions, avocado, lime and coriander and you have an amazing salsa. 

Happy Thursday dear readers. Enjoy.