Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Triumph and Tragedy

Cole Slaw 'n Pizza, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
Another busy Little Kitchen weekend. First up: Shaved Asparagus Pizza again I guess I have to face the fact that I've become addicted to this stuff. I was pondering trying another pizza and pan roasting the asparagus but before I knew what was happening, there I was shaving asparagus thinking that it might be best to christen the brand spankin' new pizza stone and the "00" pizza dough flour with something tried and true so as to make it easier to gauge any differences with the new technique...and yes, this pizza crust was thinner and crispier. Not too doughy. That's good. My first pizza was much doughier and though it looked and tasted lovely I've discovered that I do prefer the thinner crust. It did seem to have the pizza shop quality to it. Stellar!
Next up: "Not Your Mamas Cole Slaw" from SK via Ina Garten. Well, how can you go wrong with this. It was a triumph in several ways.
I was able to use up most of my home made mayo and a good dose of dijon. Now that I've become a bit of an authority on Dijon I was actually happy to discover that a VERY old jar of Trader Joe's dijon held it's own next to the fancy french label and managed to pack quite a whallop that and the blue cheese well what can I say? This is definitetly party worthy. It looks colorful and I didn't even buy the red cabbage thinking it's hard enough to use up one head of cabbage let alone two so I just made it with the one. It wasn't until I went back and read the full post that I needn't have worried. My happy dance began even before I took my first bite. I mean I knew it would be good so whilst leaf peeling method (the ATK way) I realized that the unused cabbage stays fresher this way. I've always avoided making cole slaw for myself because I'd cut into the head thinking I had to use the whole thing, fine when your making it for crowd not for one. That is until now Back on the post Deb notes that a head of cabbage keeps for a looooooonnnnng time and this makes up really quickly. Next time, very soon, today...I will get that red cabbage and let the party commence!
Alas not all of the days endeavors in the kitchen proved to be so happy. It's inevitable that the occasional HOT MESS occur every now and again to keep me humble.
I was thrilled to find a new posting from 101cookbooks in my mailbox in the morning for Baked Farro. Dang! could I be so lucky as to have another psychic friend or what? Just this morning as I was rearranging my pantry I was wondering what else I could do with all that farro and then this absolutely gorgeous image appears on my screen and it begged to be made immediately...later that very same day...later that evening:
She combines all the ingredients on the stove top and then it's to go into an 8 x 8 baking dish covered with foil which gets pierced. I figured I could use my casserole dish and leave the lid askew.
After baking for the requisite 45 minutes the farro was still really hard. I added more water and secured the lid checking on it every 15 minutes...well, an hour later it was al dente and and begging for mercy. Not a complete failure though. I saw the glimmer of potential and though the texture was chewy, the tomatoey cheezy flavors were begging for a second chance.
Oh! Hold the phone! LIGHTBULB!!!
This was the first use of the bulk farro. I don't recall seeing the words semi-pearled (a process that loosens or breaks down the husk) AND I forgot to rinse it. I think I need to make this again now to correct my mistakes and do right by my new friend Heidi.
I also just realized that I never would have realized this if I hadn't sat down here to write about it. This makes me happy.

Little Kitchen Bento

New Message, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
I'm not exactly sure what a bento box is but they always look so cute when I see pictures of them on menus.
Common sense would say all of your food groups are represented in ideal proportion.
Though there's no meat here there's plenty of protien in the nuts and farro. Veggies galore in asparagus, tomatoes, onions and leeks. Applesauce provides the fruit. Ummmn dairy? well what's not pictured is the yogurt that accompanies the apples or the parmesean that tops the farro. Not bad for an evenings work.
This was the out-put of my last kitchen frenzy...and the leeks don't look half bad in the morning light. That's them on top. The farro and asparagus served me up a couple of power-fueled weekend breakfasts with a poached egg. This is an awesome alternative to the breakfast burrito because it serves the same purpose.
The peanut salad? This will be a lovely little accent on a brunch plate. Definitely entertainment worthy!
Applesauce? Fantastic as usual although the Vietnamese cinnamon didn't pack the punch I was expecting. I guess Penzy's Extra Fancy Vietnamese Cinnamon compares differently than Rainbow Bulk.
That's a Green Onion Sauce on top...an interesting treatment of scallions that provided a nice little kick to the farro and asparagus along with the parm & egg? I've become a huge fan of this dish.
It's my weekend now and the weathers taken a down turn but it's all good. It's domestic goddess day. Goodwill purge, Pizza and coleslaw. I'm re-arranging the kitchen today...trying to expand my pantry.
Bring on the good Chi!
Oh and this a.m. I happen to open DG's newsletter and she's got a little vid of her and Junior in the kitchen preparing the Jammers. She's baking them in metal rings. They look like biscuit cutters. The sable is topped with a dollop of jam and the sprinked with streusel.
Methinks this warrants a trip to Daiso for more space saving pantry storage and a look-see for biscuit cutters. Her Jammers are the size of biscuits!

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Few Broken Eggs? No Worries

Mayonaise, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
Last night I ventured home determined to make Sables. I needed to stop at the market for eggs. Got home and three eggs were smashed. Considering that I've packed up my bicycle basket with eggs many times, this is the first time I've broken any.
Anyhoo...What to do? Make mayo. I've never made mayonaise before. Lets give it a whirl!
As fate would have it I'd just pulled out Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything around the same time as I'd watched ATK's Sandwich episode in which Julia whips up her own mayo for her tuna salad. So it was a no brainer to find a use for these unfortunate eggs. I did scramble up some for dinner.
It doesn't really taste like any mayonaise I've ever had but that's cool. This promises to be the start of something good.
So today I'll make cole slaw and maybe some tuna salad.

Buttery Sweet Little Buttons of Love

Sables, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
It's Valentines Day and nothing says LOVE like fresh home baked cookies right?

It was a little over a week ago that I opened up my gmailbox to find that message from Dorie Greenspan, you know that one.  The one about the CookieBar. It starts me up on the Chocolate Chip Cookies. Sometimes that's all it takes to spark an obsession. Then I'm thinking about Sables and I don't even know what a Sable is, all I learn is that the sable is the base of her "Jammers". I madly flip through my Must Make stack knowing theres a sable in there somewhere and ATK to the rescue, and last night did the deed. Sable=Love!

These little French butter cookies don't look like much, but I love how the tops glimmer from the egg white and dusting of sugar. I love that first bite into my Sable. I love that I heard angels softly singing. I love that these remind me of Mexican Wedding Cakes. I love that they're small and easy to pop in your mouth and taste like a little bit of bliss. I even love the over baked batch. I think I was so delirious from the first batch that I forgot to set the timer. I love that it didn't matter.

Before the night was through I'd pretty much tossed back about ten of these.

Today is Valentines Day. I love these cookies. I will find a heart shaped cookie cutter and make these again to bring to people I love.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Peanut Salad

Peanut Salad, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
Another styling of the Lime Bathed Peanut Salad from Heidi Swansons
Super Natural Cooking. She's the brilliance over at 101cookbooks. She's a gorgeous photgrapher so all of the photos in her book are inspiring art. As my weekend approached I begin to compile a managable to-do list and writing it down and putting it out there makes me accountable if only to myself as I'm the only one reading this. I imagine others though.
Friday evening I had another epiphany...my $7 chunk of parmeseano reggiano gave me sooooo much more satisfaction than the $7 cocktail so I'm diverting those misguided funds into my kitchen.
I still want to see my friends so this weekend I'll be divising a strategy to open up the little kitchen to a small contingent of friends.
First I'll need to do a little re-arrangement and get another feng shui purge going...starting with books to make room for pantry space.  All my pretty jars decorating my kitchen need proper dark storage.
Game on!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Farro with Green Onion Sauce, Walnuts and Asparagus

What to do with all this farro I've been collecting all week. Super Natural Cooking to the rescue.
It's such a great feeling to peruse a bunch of tasty looking recipes to find I've got almost everything I need on hand to make it. This recipe was a triumph in several ways.
Farro? my new favorite thing. I cooked it in chicken flavored vegetarian stock (Whole Foods bulk product). It takes a long time but planning has always been the key to good cooking and eating.
I actually USED all of the green onions I bought! And the most wonderful thing was while I was at Whole Foods yesterday I bought Parmeseano Reggiano. The best $7 I've ever spent.
Which leads me to a new epiphany (that's been happening a lot lately). After my $19.00 trip to Whole Foods, which always makes me happy anyway...and um mn yes I bought another leek (a big fat one that weighed a whole pound), I had a bit of a struggle loading up my bike basket. It was a moral struggle. I weigh out whether or not to pop down the hill and have a cocktail at my old hang-out. I've been trying to ween myself of that habit for a lot of reasons starting with their putting the kibosh on Happy Hour. So $18 (for my 2 well drinks) later I'm walking up the hill back to my bike thinking "WTF?!????? Why did I just do that? Do you know how much fun you would have had spending that money at Rainbow or Whole Foods?" I was so pissed off. And the hour I'll never get back...well hell...I felt guilty for spending that money with absolutely no pay off vs. what I've discovered about the money that I spend for my kitchen. THAT pays me back in so many ways.
I got home last night and immediately made the Mustardy Leek Salad. I didn't over cook my leeks this time and I managed to let my leeks chill and develop for several hours and they rocked. Still not pretty to look at but it's got a great personality!
Next up was the Peanut Salad: roasted peanuts, tomato, lime, cilantro & jalepeno with a little olive oil, salt & Pepper. I turned out picture perfect and tasty to boot (no worries mustardy leeks I still love you) and finally the farro which was so elusive in the beginning. Farro. I've found you and must make you mine.Talk about power food. This stuff seriously packs a punch. The farro is cooked in chicken seasoning (or vegetable stock) and the aspargus is added just before the farro finishes then you add toasted walnuts and lemon zest. Top it off with sauteed green onions that have been slightly processed into a chunky sauce and shave a little parmeseano reggiano on top and seriously? this is DE-lish! I heated some up for breakfast with a poached egg on top and I did not start feeling hungry until after 2 and it only took a couple of bites of the peanut salad to take the edge off. Then I had a small bowl of farro & mushroom soup with a chunk of bread before I left work. Life is good.
oh!... and by the time I remembered the leeks I was too stuffed to do nothing but taste and evaluate. So now I get to go home and see what 24 hours does to it. Wheeeee!

Lime Bathed Peanut Salad

Lime Bathed Peanut Salad, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.

Last week, strolling the aisles at May Wah, a big bag of peanuts jumped into my basket whilst visions of peanutella began dancing in my head. Craziest thing.
Each morning since, I look at the jar of peanuts nestled in amongst my collection of Ikea jars filled with all sorts of what not, and I think two things:
1. All this stuff should really be in a pantry, somewhere dark and cool.
2. When good peanuts turn bad
3. I really should start using this stuff
Then I remembered seeing something in Super Natural Cooking that had caught my eye...a very pretty picture. Natch...and pe-lenty of peanuts. A healthier use of peanuts.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Creamy Cold Mustardy Leek Salad

Leeks and plenty dijon, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
This salad will never win any beauty contests. I attempted to take it's picture in the middle of last nights late night chow down determined to post it anyway, but the off color picture made the sad looking dish even worse. The important note here is that I DID make it again.
Whilst goofing off at work yesterday, I started thinking about the leek salad and jotted down some notes...reaction... adjectives... description... analogy.
Something important happened here. Some kind of kitchen epiphany or foodie religious experience...but now when producing a dish that does not live up to my expectations, yet continues to invade my thoughts, attention must be paid.
I started thinking about the alchemy of this dish. Here's this tangy, vivid, sinus clearing vinaigrette loaded with five tablespoons of Dijon (MC calls for the hottest dijon you can find) tossed into a bowl of limp and insipid cooked leeks. The vinaigrette instantly loses all of its character. Where'd the mustard go? What the hell just happened? Into the fridge for a couple of hours and the leeks are slowly lured over into a world of vibrancy that is so full of flavor. That's what intrigued me after the first attempt. What would happen if: I let them rest longer? mixed in more vinaigrette? cooked the leeks less? started with fresher leeks? better leeks? There were variables to be tried...a challenge to be met...a creative process to obsess over. Once again I'm snacking on cold leeks at 11:00 at night. It's about the journey now and if there's a great dish at the end of it? or a better dish? Well that's the icing on the cake.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Somewhere over at Rainbow, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
Yesterdays shopping epiphany at Rainbow still has me all churned up. Perusing the hundreds of jars of spices and herbs I'm a bit at a loss. I want to start opening and smelling and measuring little scoops of powders and seeds and leaves into little bags and writing my own labels, like some mad scientist.
I see the giant jar of cinnamon and my heart leaps a little as I see the Vietnamese cinnamon. Yay! I'm reminded of SK's Spicy Applesauce Cake and now she describes her trip to herb & spice emporium Penzey's in NYC. Danger zone. A trip for one or two small items ends up requiring a shopping cart.
Home I go with my tiny bag of cinnamon amongt my other spoils of the trip and start looking at recipes in a whole new light. Next time I'm down to Emerald City I'll have a list...or not.
I didn't make the applesauce but I did make a leek salad with mustard vinaigrette from Melissa Clarks "Good Appetite". She lured me into this one with her story about dijon mustard.
I can't say that I've ever been a big fan of dijon. I found it too hot. That was then and this is now. MC describes how a friend of hers always comes back from France with jars of mustard that though the labels can be purchased here, mustard is much fresher, more yellow and much more flavorful bottled at their source. She then goes on to describe her first encounter with this leek salad discovering that it needs a good rest so don't be disappointed at first as it does progress from bland to Wow!
I never gave it a chance to get to Wow! I finished it off at Good. That took about an hour. MC says she left hers for a couple of hours, which is what I'd intended to do. I tasted it every half hour and noticed a little more flavor each time. I'd fully intended for it to go back in the fridge, but I was still a little hungry after my pizza and before I knew it, leeks was gone.
Now I'm thinking that I'll have to give this another shot. Last night even after I'd just consumed this very tasty dish, I had my doubts about whether or not to attempt it again. Why? 'cuz it looked pretty awful and the slimy texture of the ribbons of limp leeks was just unpleasant. If someone plopped a plate down in front of me with a pile of that on it I'd probably give it the hairy eyeball  and a very hesitant tiny taste so as not to be rude.
Should I try it with fresher leeks, two were a definitely past their sell-by date and the other two were still 2 days old...and perhaps I'd cooked them a little too long.
ok...ok...I've only known Melissa for a very short time but she's made such an impact on me that I bow to her kitchen goddess status and have another go.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Somewhere Over at Rainbow...

Somewhere over at Rainbow, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
...towers of flours, beans, grains, nuts, teas, herbs, spices and a gazillion other things I've never heard of...This place is awesome and intimidating. I love it. I couldn't believe the selection. Farro? Three options including bulk, three options of dried porcinis and all the herbs and spices. Vietnamese cinnamon! Score. Home to make some applesauce.
This voyage of discovery was prompted by my latest library find, Heidi Swansons "Super Natural Cooking". I looooove her blog too 101cookbooks. I don't venture over there as frequently as I should and it wasn't until I started to peruse her book the other day that I remembered she lives in San Francisco. What a dork I am. Anyhoo, in her intro she describes a natural foods co-op the size of a football field with aisles of bins that start at your toes and rise to the rafters. I'd never been there but I knew exactly what she was talking about. Rainbow Grocery is not in my usual trek but it is only a 10 minute bike ride from where I work.
I've been meaning to get over there but never have. Until today. It was a gorgeous sunny day which demanded a lengthy bike ride with a purpose so off I pedaled with Heidi's cookbook in tow.
OMG this place is sooooo much better than Whole Foods. I love me some bulk bin shopping. I feel so in control with the freedom to buy however much or little I want...and though I haven't bothered with the math it seems to hit some kind of foodie holy trinity of economical, environmental and healthy.
I felt like a better person while I packed my bicycle basket with paper bags stuffed with my bags of new pantry staples.
No crowds, no lines on a Tuesday afternoon. Most excellent shopping experience. Can grocery shopping be nirvana? Yes I believe it can.

A Bowl Full of Buttery Bliss

Melissa Clark calls this Buttery Polenta with Parmesean (and Olive Oil Fried Eggs). I'm all about the poached egg these days, but she had me at Buttery Polenta, well honestly? just Buttery...so whilst I was perusing the bulk bins at Whole Foods the other day I see Polenta and suddenly I'm hearing the word Buttery in a soft faraway echoey whisper over and over...an hour later I'm stuffing a bag of polenta into a glass jar which is then forgotten.
Until yesterday morning...a gorgeous sunny day, it's my day off an somehow remember the polenta and.... Oh. My. God. Buttery Polenta with Parmesean is my new most favorite thing ever.
Bliss in a Bowl.
'Nuf said.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Crunchy Brunch

New Message, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
This was sooooo good I had to make it again. This is the Pan Roasted Asparagus with bacon bread crumbs and a poached egg I adapted from Melissa Clarks book. I feel satisfaction oooozing outta me like this perfecty poached egg. I've purchased more asparagus in the last ten days than I have in my entire life. May Wah market has them for $2 a bunch and I can't seem to get enough. The same holds true for mushrooms. I've got that mushroom and farro soup on the to do list over the next two days as well.
I ventured into a new market in Japantown yesterday. I was looking for mushrooms. They had 6 oz. packages of shitakes for $2.99. not as good as may wah (only 1.99 when they have them). I've got portabellas, shitakes and dried porcinis queued up for soup, a bag of farro (found at Whole Foods) and a giant bottle of sherry ready to roll.
Dorie Greenspan still has me thinking of cookies though I've been eating these chocolate chips for days now. I wanna make Sables!

Monday, February 7, 2011

It Feels Like Mac 'n Cheese Time

New Message, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
If I haven't said it before I'll say it again...America's Test Kitchen changed my life. Whenever I go to the library I'll grab any DVD's that happen to be available, no matter how many times I've seen it, they're like my old friends welcome in my home anytime. I'll love pottering around my kitchen with Chris and Bridget nattering away in the living room or I'll sit glued to the television for an entire evening watching for the 5th or 6th time the mac 'n cheese episode from season 2. Honestly I just can't get enough.
Thusly in my immediate future I see Mac 'n Cheese as well as deep dish pizza. On today's to do list is the purchase of a pizza stone and perhaps a deep dish pan. In the nearish future I might have to give that turkey tetrazini a go, man! that looked good.  Chris introduced the episode with a goofy story about being served tetrazini at one of his Vermont neighbors homes and being told (afterward) that it was Squirrel. I think I'll venture into the whole chicken territory for this one.
It's a gorgeous day for a bike ride to do some shopping, perhaps a little picnic and some reading then an evening in the kitchen.
I couldn't help myself, but last night I made the Shaved Asparagus Pizza again. There were some little differences in this attempt. I used the SK recipe for Simple Pizza dough. The first rising occurred in the plastic wrapped ceramic bowl in the oven for a couple of hours actually. I put in in before I headed off to Salsa class...so it was in there for more than 3 hours. Too much? It had more than doubled. Pressed it down and let it rise for 20  more minutes. I rolled it out a little bigger than I did the previous time. Piled on the usual toppings, though I did add some fresh thyme to the asparagus. The crust turned out much thinner than before, but this pizza still rocks. I'm seriously debating on whether or not to share it.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl Chocolate Chip Cookies

New Message, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
Dorie Greenspan's awesomeness never ceases to amaze me. Over on her blog she probably got the whole 5 boroughs back east there all excited about her upcoming CookieBar, a venture she started with her son last year. It's a pop-up cookie store where she apparently sells her home made cookies in a space of a friends salon in Manhattan, giving the general public the opportunity to buy her goodies during a small window of time. I believe it goes up for a couple of days until the days cookies run out. Then I guess she goes home and bakes more and starts over the next day.
She's concocted  "Jammers" a cookie topped with streusel and home made jam. The jam was created by a friend of hers and made specially for Dories Jammers. The idea for Jammers came to her in a dream she explains on her blog. Ever since I read that I have not been able to stop thinking about cookies. Last night I had to stop thinking and start baking.
I have to say I'm pretty proud of a pantry and freezer that was capable of offering up the goods without a trip to the store when the uncontrollable urge to bake cookies consumed me. Flipping through my ever expanding binder of "Things I've Actually Made" I snatched out the cookie recipe I've come to think of as my very own since I adopted their browned butter awesomeness for my Christmas edition. Well, actually the browned butter was my own idea...well Smittens idea so that's how I've made Chef Eric Wolitskys cookie my own.
I baked up the whole recipe rather than reserving some dough for the freezer. I'm curious to see how long these last...or how long their chewy goodness lasts.
Every day I go to Simple Pleasures and I see what looks like the same plastic wrapped cookies plated up there. There are stacks and stacks of them. There's a decorated sugar cookie that I swear has been there for weeks. Who ever does those seems to change their looks according to holidays and seasons which leads me to believe that those pink petaled flowers are the same ones and not a new batch that's been replenished every couple of days ago cuz they're such hot sellers.

Thus I'm creating my own cookie time-line:

Day 1: baked up the Chocolate Chip Cookies Saturday night (the 5th) and of course fresh outta the oven...well I managed to give them a ten minute cool down...they're freakin' divine. These are a soft chewy cookie made with melted browned butter. The sugars are mixed into the slightly cooled butter and begin to dissolve. Two whole eggs and 2 additional egg yolks are slowly beaten in to create the moistest chewyest cookie ever...and they're big. I forget which # my scoop is but it's BIG. they spread out to about 3 inches.

Day 2: The next morning I've taken a couple with me to enjoy with my coffee at Simple Pleasures. There's not one cookie here of the dozens of offerings that I'd rather be eating than my own. Note to self: Storage. Zip-Lock bags vs. plastic container vs. individually plastic wrapped. Toss a few in the freezer too.

Day 3: Back at Simple Pleasure with three cookies that have been stored three ways. All remain moist and chewy. They bend slightly before they break. I really like the flavor of these Ghirardelli chips. They're larger than other chips I've used so they pack a punch in every bite.

Day 6: As I polish off the last cookie with my coffee at Simple Pleasures I can honestly say it was just as good as day one.  If it was stale I couldn't tell.

I gave a dozen to the good samaritan who found my wallet...Yay!

Chocolate Chip Cookies. Done.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Baked Potato Soup!

Baked Potato Soup!, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.

I know this only just looks like a bowl of paste and I could have prettied it up with may a dollop of sour cream or some chives or a crumble of bacon but having none of those things in the kitchen last night I just settled for a puddle of melted butter. Except I only remembered to do that after I took the picture but I could not wait another second for the butter to melt and set up for another picture. I pulled up my step stool/chair and dunked my fresh chunk of La Boulangerie boule and finished off what has to be one of the most delicious soups ever created. Thanks again SK>

Friday, February 4, 2011

'Shroom & Barley Soup-A New Day

Mushroom & Barley Soup, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
A definite improvement. The bright light of a sunny Spring morning, but wait! it's still Winter. I'm so glad I live in California. Soup's on for breakfast. Nothing wrong with that. Two thick slices of Acme sourdough boule and I was good to go. The day was busy therefore no time for kitchen grazing and I didn't really feel hungry until around 3pm. By 4:30 there was another bowl and some bread ready to go.
I stopped at La Boulangerie for another loaf and then to Mollie Stones to get some farro, so now I'm almost ready for round two. Tommorrow night I'll hit Clement St. for some more 'shrooms and make this baby up again. This is one recipe that begs to be doubled. That's a whole lotta 'shrooms.
Shall I share it? I'm fairly torn about that. Love Love Love this!

Mushroom & Barley Soup

Mushroom & Barley Soup, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
Note to self: Must work on pretty pictures. I need to focus on the creative and inexpensive endeavors over the next couple of weeks thus keeping me out of over priced bars ummn dining establishments. A lost wallet when the rent is due is a recipe for disaster. I could cry about it but what's done is done and I'll make this an opportunity to focus on cooking and writing and getting some good feng shui mojo into my home and life.
Last night I made SK's Mushroom and Farro Soup. I will find a way to make this LOOK as good as it tastes because it's pretty phenomenal. As soon as her beautiful photo popped up I was intrigued not only because of my new found love of all things 'shroomy, but there's something new here that begs investigation. Farro?? qu'est que c'est? and dried porcini mushrooms.
Off I go to Clement St. and May Wah finding neither after mistakingly asking for farro beans. I end up with barley and dried straw mushrooms. Since I was still in pizza mode and asparagus, I held off on making the soup.
My next adventure was down to the Ferry Building Farmers Market. I've managed to resist it's overpriced fancy but found myself down there on my sunny day bike ride. I bought some overpriced Cara Caras but inside grabbed a rustic boule from Acme and dug out my pizza bites and had a lovely little lunch on one of the patios reading Melissa Clark. Glorious afternoon.
I found the mushroom kiosk and bought some dried porcinis ($6.50). I also found the farro but since I already had the barley I resisted the $7 price tag figuring now that I knew what I was looking for, I'd probably find it cheaper at Whole Foods Bulk or elsewhere.
Thus I went with the barley and this soup turned out great. It's a first with the beef base I bought for the Shroom Bourguignon. Good Eats!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Pan Roasted Asparagus

Pan Roasted Asparagus, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.

I'm a huge fan of the library and even more so this week since picking up Melissa Clarks "In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite". I'd forgotten I'd ordered it. That was one of the photo-less cook books that came up on Mattbites awhile back...and definitely this gal knows how to write and entice you into the kitchen without delay.
When perusing a new cookbook I'm usually flipping throught the pages and looking at the pretty pictures then going back again and tagging the recipes that look appealing. That's generally worked for me.
So without pretty pictures, I just started at the beginning and read. Her stories and guidance through each recipe made me want to make things I'd normally pass on.
This recipe is called Pan Roasted Aspargus with Anchovy Bread Crumbs and Fried Eggs. Normally I would have seen the word Anchovy and kept on flipping. I was intrigued by her description of the pan roasting and I really need to use that asparagus. I figured I could substitute the last of my turkey bacon top it off with my new found love of the poached egg and voila!
This is wonderful. She calls the section "Waffling Toward Dinner" She's my new favorite cook book author.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Spring Panzanella

Asparagus, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
The Asparagus Pizzapalooza has required some behavior modification. I've been eating asparagus pizza for days now, breakfast, then cutting it up into bite-sized chunks and taking it with me for a quick and easy snack throughout the day and loveloveloving it, then doing the same thing for dinner. That pizza is like crack. When I'm not eating it I'm thinking about eating it. I tried to share it. Preparing the last pizza, I'd planned intended to give half of it away, making a certain friend very happy, but it didn't work out. I tried, I really did.
I'd bought 2 bunches of asparagus at May Wah and looking for alternative uses for the remaining bunch and a half, I came across this recipe at SK. I love these Italian salads with the toasty croutons.
This was my first venture into the world of white beans. I got some dry ones the other day at El Grande and tossed them in the slow cooker yesterday before left the house. I also tossed in some semi-fresh herbs that were teetering on being tossed in the trash. Thyme, rosemary and sage. I got home and the kitchen smelled amazing with herb.
From here it was just a quick stovetop simmering of leeks and asparagus, cut up and then tossed in with the toasty croutons and some vinaigrette.
This was dinner and it was lovely. I've been reading Melissa Clarks In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite and she's truly an inspiration. She's a beautiful writer and storyteller. She's got a recipe in there for Pan Roasted Asparagus that shall be made today.