Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Turkey Day Table

T-day, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
I love our colorful collage of a table. It pretty much represented the mish-mash of De-lish that was eagerly  and thankfully consumed before we moved it all into the living room to watch the Niners (wah!) game.
As has become tradition, Thanksgiving is celebrated at the little sister kitchen. Dede cooked the bird in the outdoor grill and it was phenomenal not only in its juicy-ness but that big bird was cooked in 2 1/2 hours.  I can't remember how big she said it was but it had to be close to 20 lbs.
Next up we got the smashed taters that were co-mingled with cauliflower and plenty o'butter.  The veggie palooza continues thusly:
It began in my ADD-led brain, trying to figure what I could shop, pre-cook, prep and then reasonably carry (along with an overnight bag) on the train. I had my head spinning. I just had to shut it all down and go have a margarita.  At the same time I'm OCD-ing on Plenty, my current library loaner cookery book (Brit-speak for cookbook) I wanted to make everything. I settled on two plus a Sweet Corn Soup from Ottolenghi's Guardian column, The New Vegetarian.
Sitting in between the taters and stuffing is the Spicy Sweet Butternut Squash with Yogurt Tahini, Limes, Jalepenos and Cilantro. I roasted the squash the day before and they were a little on the soft side in the reheat but man! they were tasty. The spice factor comes from cardamom.
My next Plenty platter was the Bean Salad, a mixture of green beans, snow peas and frozen peas tossed together with jalepenos and scallions then lightly dressed in olive oil infused with garlic, crushed coriander seeds and mustard seeds, finished off with salt and pepper then lime juice.
My veggie trio concluded with the most awesome Whiskey Glazed Carrots from my newest, favoritest, cooking cowgirl, Ree, at . Can't give the Brits all the glory.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Rainy Day Baking

Rainy Day Baking, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
Gingersnaps! Smitten Kitchen does it again. So perfectly spicy and timely. I'm getting the holiday baking off to an early start. Literally...5:45 a.m. early. Crazy! What's really crazy is that I've never made gingersnaps before. I honestly can't even remember ever desiring a gingersnap, being offered a gingersnap or eating a gingersnap. I've lived my whole life in a gingersnap void. Then two things happened. TKD mentioned that gingersnaps were the only cookie he liked and a day later Smitten Kitchen posted her gingersnap recipe. Kismet? Perfect timing? or coincidence?  I decided earlier this week to audition new cookies for the Christmas cookie trays. I've been making the same three cookies for 10 years. Time to shake things up a bit.
Especially now that I've factored in the freezer.
I fell asleep watching Gosford Park last night and the night before and the night before. I love that movie, Clive Owen, Richard E. Grant, Helen Mirren...the all-star cast just goes on and on. What's not to love? yet it's proven to be better than a sleeping pill. Nod off early and here I am baking before sunrise.
I've got 3 new cookies in the freezer,  the doughs that is. World Peace Cookies (not so new), Brown Butter Brown Sugar Shorties and finally Gingersnaps.
I woke up and cracked open an eye to see how close it was to coffee o'clock. 15 minutes...and visions of gingersnaps were dancing in my head.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving Bounty

Hello, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
My friend Rick, dropped off about 30 pounds of squash and yams the other day. They had been purchased as set dressing for a fancy private party with a Moroccan street market theme. He ended up with a garage full of this stuff.
So ahead lies the challenge of what to do with this cast of characters.
One 900 gram squash made its way into Ottolenghis Sweet Corn Soup which I doubled to accomodate the whole squash and my family for T Day. I froze the soup in four 2 cup freezer bags.
I'll probably roast up a batch of fries with a couple of dipping sauces for T Day/football appetizers and there's a gorgeous recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash with Sweet Spices, Lime and Chilis in Plenty.

T-Day soup's on

T-Day soups on, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
Six days 'til turkey day. I begin with vegetable stock for the Ottolenghi Sweet Corn Soup. The ironic twist here is that his recipe doesn't even require stock! Just add water...just when I've got a freezer bursting with veggie bits (including about a dozen corn cobs) that have been dying to find their way into an awesome soup.
This is better than plain ol' water. Right?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Surprise Tartin

Surprise Tartin, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
Surprise! This tastes waaaaaay better than it looks. I was photographically challenged. This comes from Ottolenghi's Plenty, my current library possession and cookery project.
The beautifully lit, styled and photographed tart that was in the book got me all  churned up and the only thing missing from the little kitchen were potatoes. I already had a jar of sloooow roasted tomatoes waiting for a new purpose. Cool, so off to the store for potatoes and 15 minutes later I'm preparing this.
This tartin is full of surprises. It's a savory potato pie with roasted tomatoes, sauteed onions, fresh oregano, goat cheese and puff pastry. First surprise-caramel. A thin layer coats the bottom of the cake pan before you start laying down the cut potatoes. I need some more practice with caramel. Surprise!  burnt lip wilst trying to taste whether it was burnt or not. The smell should'a tipped me off. Molten lava. Don't do that. The cooked potatoes drink up the caramel which enhances the overall sweetness of the caramelized tomatoes and onions. The goat cheese and puff pastry finish...perfection! The next surprise is in the reveal. This is one of those flip-overs as you're building it from top to bottom. This wasn't as purdy as Ottolengi's but dang! 
The best surprise is how good this is. I made this for lunch. It was gone before bedtime. Ate the whole thang. No surprise.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Oh. My. Goodness.

Currently OCDing on this, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.

I like pretty pictures.
It was still dark when I scooted down to Simple Pleasures for a beautifully leisure 6:05 a.m. Madness for a day off. I booted up the email and saw the notice from the library that THIS was waiting for ME...after what seemed like an eternity of waiting. Two blocks and four hours away. I was giddy with anticipation. At 10:05 I had it tucked under my arm and it hasn't left my side since.
Plently by Yotam Ottolenghi.

Hmmmnnn where do I begin? I like pretty pictures.
Almost exactly a year ago I started this blog...after several  months of noodling around my kitchen, it seemed necessary to manage my kitchen ADD keep track of everything I was doing there and what was inspiring me. Smitten Kitchen had posted her Cauliflower Parmesean Cake. The pretty picture piqued my curiosity enough to reconsider my aversion to cauliflower. It also piqued my interest in Ottolenghi. She linked to her recipe source, a column in The Guardian (UK) called The New Vegetarian by Yotam Ottolenghi. He simply calls it Cauliflower Cake. Innovative.  That word comes up in almost every thing that's been written about him.
SK's  comment section was abuzz with rave after rave for Ottolenghi and his London eateries. The book I've got in my hot little hands is a compilation of recipes and lots of pretty pictures from The New Vegetarian.
I googled images from Ottolenghi's eateries (boutique take-out) after reading about the stunning manner in which the food is presented. This is not about food all dolled up for the camera. It's for real.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Serendipity Sliders

Sliders, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
I love serendipity.There's nothing breakfasty about these li'l burgers. It was really sorta freakin' me out that these little beef patties were cruisin' well past their sell-by date. I woke up thinking about sliders and just had to cook them asap. Last night I sloooooow roasted a sheet pan full of  farmers market tomatoes. Following a process I found in Gwyneth Paltrows cookbook (3-5 hours at 275 degrees), I'd put them in the oven around 8:00 somehow thinking I'd be awake long enough to see them through. By 10:30 they were on their way but still too plump. I turned the oven off and went to bed. When I anxiously woke at the crack of dawn with sliders on the brain, I fired up my cast iron skillet and commenced to cook. I only remembered the tomatoes when I opened the oven door to pop in some buns. Angels were singing. They had finished to a sunken syrupy perfection by the next morning in the residual heat.
I know I've said this before and I say this like there's actually someone out there reading this who gives two hoots but, slow roasted tomatoes are the bomb (thanks GP!). They are soooooo sweet and flavorful and can transform a good sandwich into a great one...a memorable one...a sandwich someone will write poetry about. Chop 'em up and toss them into pasta or on a salad or in an omelette....anyhoo...I digress.
Sliders. ok. these little suckers didn't suck. I topped them with crumbled blue cheese, spread 'em with a little canola mayo and some super sharp dijon and plopped down a slooooooow roasted tomato onto each bun. Absolutely brill! I can only imagine how good they'd be if I'd actually used fresh meat and bread.
I would have never-in-a-million-years thought to have made sliders if it hadn't been for the Fresh & Easy clearance...or unless Smitten Kitchen made some. Now I'm thinking of Turkey Feta Sliders on some kind of mini naan bun...oh! and some mint chutney.
This will keep me up at night.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Mint Chutney Chicken Sandwich

Mint Chutney Chicken, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
I am lately obsessed with my new neighborhood market, Fresh and Easy. I find myself the teensiest bit thrilled when I find that weekly circular in my lobby every Tuesday looking for that $5 coupon, the one that they dangle at me a couple of times a month. The one that sucks me in and has me spending more dollars than I've ever dropped at Whole Foods. There are evil geniuses cackling away up in their corporate offices.
How else can I explain buying vegetables in a package and clearance-shelf meat? Why would I be standing at the front door at 7:59 a.m. openopeneopen, then dragging two heavy bags (including 2 gallons of vanilla bean ice cream) plus a full backpack two blocks home.
Whatever. I'm up to my ears in carbs; cinnamon raisin bagels, fresh italian french bread, skillet cornbread and naan. Oh and I bought mini hamburger buns cuz the mini beef sliders were on clearance. Jeez...I've got vegetables mocking me at every turn and most unusual, too much meat. I bought tequila lime chicken breasts...yes more meat at it's sell-by date. It still took me two days to cook it. The Little Kitchen has morphed into it's own whacked out version of The Iron everything on the clearance shelf and make something asap...or not. Iron Stomach Chef?
I then find I must counter-act that chaingrocerystore action by high-tailing it down to the farmers market...ahhhh fresh herbs and tomatoes and corn on the cob. Now we're talking...yet all I did was glance at the Suhki stand and the guy selling  those Indian breads and spreads was pushing bites at me so eagerly that I felt compelled to buy something, and since I'm all about Indian food these days, well the ending is happy. Mint chutney and a bag of 2 large naan rounds.
I made these awesome sandwiches with my manky chicken. I stirred some plain yogurt into the mint chutney to spread on the naan....ooooh dang panini! too late. Stay tuned.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Skillet Cornbread

Skillet Cornbread, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
Nothing makes me happier and more at peace with the world than getting up at the crack of dawn and doing something productive...especially when it involves the flea market. I spent many, many years scouring flea markets, thrift shops and yard sales furnishing and outfitting the many apartments I've lived in over the years. After 10 years in the same studio apartment I've feng-shui'd most of that crap back out into the thrift shop cycle of life and a weekend job makes a leisurely day at the flea market impossible.
Thanks to the friend I affectionately call my test kitchen dummy, I managed to make my first trip to the Alemany Flea Market before my day shift. It was still pitch black outside when TKD swung by in his pick-up a few Sundays back to whisk me off. I had one goal: to find a cast iron skillet. I had seen a recipe for Skillet Cornbread somewhere. Months ago. I became absolutely obsessed with getting my hands on a cast iron skillet with the sole purpose of making cornbread...just not badly enough to cough up the big bucks to buy then carry it around  with me all day whilst riding a bicycle or public transpo. My early bird friend and his truck solved my logistical nightmare and I got to work by 10 a.m. having dropped off my $5 skillet at home along with a $5 pyrex measuring pitcher-a wide 4 cupper. I love it.
I made my first batch of Skillet Cornbread this weekend. It was not good. I found a recipe on epicurious that had potential but didn't call for any fresh corn. Weird. Lots of melted butter. Good. I added corn and browned the butter. More good. I used bacon grease to heat up in the skillet. Yum. When the batter hit that hot bacon-greasy skillet it sizzled. Awesome. That's what makes skillet cornbread special. The crusty bottom. Problem was the top third of the bread was underbaked though the top was well-browned and it was really dense and heavy. My mistake was having the rack too high 'cuz I was too lazy to take out my pizza stones and move things around. Live and learn.
For this next batch I used Smitten Kitchens recipe for Corniest Corn Muffins. This batch was brill'.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Chili Sauce Chicken salad

Chicken salad, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
The other day, a friend I affectionately refer to as my test kitchen dummy, showed up with a bag of vine ripened tomatoes, pears, peaches and ancho chile's along with a recipe for Fresh Chili Sauce, a recipe from a co-worker. "I don't see any meat or beans in the recipe though..." he seemed perplexed. I studied the recipe a little longer than necessary "this looks like a condiment". "'ll know what to do with it".
I made the chili sauce, adding my own savory concoction of sauteed onions, garlic, ginger and Indian spices. It turned out really nice. I was amazed at how much I loved the sweetness. I've never included chile sauce in my repertoire so I wasn't quite sure what to do with it. I'm not a big fan of ketchup.
First up...Chicken Salad. I mixed the chili sauce with yogurt, added a little more salt and pepper which really brought out the tangy-ness, then tossed it with my Tikka Masala grilled chicken, chopped pistachios, chopped dried cranberries and cilantro.