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Japanese turnips

Wegetable Vednesday, alweady?!

Portland Farmers’ Market

I did get some close-up shots of these beautiful beets and Japanese turnips. But how could I resist including this beautiful arm, itself nearly the color of the earth, laced with its branches and roots?

Portland Park Blocks Farmers’ Market – Saturday April 28, 2012

This is a wonderful farmers’ market, its tents and stalls spreading beneath a canopy of old trees that forms one long park through downtown. Vegetables, fruits, herbs, artisinal breads, pizzas, honeys and jams, every sort of baked good, shrubs and small trees, starts for your garden, children in strollers, bags brimming, fiddlers fiddling, sun and rain and fresh, everywhere earthly fresh. I had enough to carry so left my money in the car blocks and blocks away, knowing that Guinea Pig always carries cash. I left my very big-girl camera at home and brought something smaller. I was happily snapping away, when the camera suddenly seized. Already it was done for the day, and I’d only just started. OK then, time to fill our own basket to brimming. But with all the glorious goodness around us, how would we choose? It became simpler than expected when my husband brought out his crumpled $9, the sum total of what we had. Ruby beets, pale pretty turnips, and rainbow carrots. $3 a bunch. Cash broke and done.

Turnips have never appeared solo in our house, but always as part of a roasted vegetable medley or a soup or stock. Wanting to keep this simple though, I roasted these pretty little things with a bit of olive oil, a scattering of thyme from the garden and flaky salt and white pepper. When they were done, they’d sit on a bed of turnip greens drizzled with balsamic.

Roasted Japanese Turnips & their Balsamic Greens

bunch young Japanese turnips with greens

a dozen sprigs of fresh thyme

olive oil

salt & pepper

shallot

drizzle honey

squeeze fresh lemon (Meyer especially good)

white balsamic vinegar

Remove the greens from the turnips, leaving an inch or two of the stalks still attached. Gently scrub the turnips. (No need to peel.) Wash the greens, and then cut in approximately half, keeping the thicker stalks separate from the more delicate leaves. Set greens aside. For easy clean up, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the turnips in half from top to bottom and place cut-side up on the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, scatter with salt and pepper, toss sprigs of thyme about. Place in a 400°F oven for about 20 minutes. Using tongs, flip the turnips over and continue cooking until tender. (May be about another 20 minutes.)

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just another ‘ordinary’ breakfast in India

Last fall I introduced you to my friend Amit who grew up in Delhi, India. (See a wonderful rice and beans dish of his mother’s, Rajmah, that I posted at the time.) Amit, a man who loves all things associated with the kitchen, has inspired me in my own. Now borrowed from him are chai, rice and bean dishes, chutney, a couple salads and several curries that he brought to the US when he immigrated here. This is Amit’s father’s birthday month and in honor of that, I was asked if I could share a favorite dish of his Dad’s too. I told my good friend I’d be happy to.

Have you ever heard the expression that a person grows into the name he or she was given? It appears to be the case with Amit’s father, a gregarious man with a smile that lights up his entire face, and possibly the entire room. His name: Prakash Chandra Jain. Prakash means light, and Chandra – moon! Can you imagine being given such a name?! And then, having the privilege of growing into it?

Seen here with wife Anjana, at the wedding of their son Moni to his new bride, Richa.

~ ~ ~

Sri Prakash Chandra, since retired, had his career as an experimental physicist.  He’s always been an exacting man – both in his lab and in the kitchen where he loved to cook for his family. His interest in the culinary world was already well-evidenced by the time he was a young man in college where he took the lead in his dorm’s dining hall — purchasing the food, planning the recipes for the cooking staff and in general, managing the kitchen. Experimentation wasn’t restricted to his physics lab either – he’s been known to work and work on a recipe until he’s perfected it. And one of his favorite dishes is one that Amit and his family grew up eating on a typical (ever-delicious) Delhi morning.

Paranthas stuffed with cauliflower & spices

served with cumin raita and an out-of-this-world green chutney

Sounds complicated, no? Well, it’s not a bowl of instant oatmeal or a cereal bar grabbed on the way out the door (but who writes of that?)  It’s sit-down food, meant for moments to savor.

Cauliflower stuffing

  • 1 medium cauliflower, shredded (using a coarse grater)
  • Grated ginger root (using fine grater) – a piece about 1 x 1-inch
  • Cilantro: 2 to 3 Tablespoons, chopped (Amit’s family uses leaves only)
  • 2 teaspoon Garam masala
  • 2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 jalapeño pepper (optional, but we like) – minced

(NOTE: Amit has also made this stuffing with purple potatoes, cooked & chopped finely, then prepared as in the directions for this stuffing. How very pretty that would be.)

Heat oil in a pan. Add ginger and sauté until just slightly brown. Add the cauliflower and spices. Cook uncovered over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes (or until tender).

Should you have any left over, this stuffing is delicious to eat as a side.

Green Chutney

fresh ginger – 1 inch x ½ inch piece

1 Tablespoon cumin seeds

15 – 20 leaves of fresh mint

2 whole bunches of fresh cilantro

2 cloves garlic

1½ salt  (Amit likes 2)

juice of 2 limes

1 jalapeño – ribs and seeds removed

¼ to ½ water (more like 3/8)

1 to 2 Tablespoons plain yogurt  (optional – I wanted to preserve the brilliant green color so didn’t add)

3 Tablespoons shredded unsweetened coconut

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things topsy turvy & a new feature at cooking-spree

In earlier posts I’ve alluded to “things about to happen” around our house, but I can explain further now. First there was the joyous birth of our little Drew baby! And even a bit before, and a lot since, we’ve been preparing for a good-sized remodel – two bathrooms and our kitchen.Once work begins on the kitchen, things will get especially interesting. We have a gas grill, and a portable induction burner that’ll hold one pot at a time. And we’ll have boxes full of herbs and spices and plates and forks and knives.

How do I prepare for what has been described to me variously as “completely disruptive”, “awful”, and “just plain hell” (really?!) ? I accept that things will be turned on their heads for a while, and I’ll be here to document it. I’ll photograph the destruction and mayhem.  I’ll play my part in this creative process, from demolition to gleaming completion. I know it’ll be challenging in ways I can’t yet know. But I’m thrilled! And I think I’m ready.

What will it mean here, on these bloggy pages? We’ll discover together. Smoothies? Salads? One pot wonders? Grilled seafood? We won’t go hungry, I promise!

One thing that will make this process less disruptive to food-lovers like us is that Spring is upon us and Summer is coming, and about now Farmer’s Markets are springing up all over the city and in the ‘burbs! Wooden stalls lined with fresh and gorgeous produce, bulging in bright ripeness! The choices we have are exquisitely exhaustive! So, one thing I can predict for the coming months is this: I’ll be carrying my basket to farmers markets, visiting with the growers, photographing fresh-from-the-farm fruits and vegetables and bringing a few choice picks home. Once a week I’ll share my trips with you. We’ll explore old favorites, never-liked and never-tried’s. Most of what will result will be simple, beautiful,  and delicious. And since life around our house will be turned on its head for the next little while, it seemed only fitting to name this weekly feature something like

Wegetable Vednesdays!

and so I have.

(but don’t be surprised to see a few vruits too)

It will be a veritable celebration of things with stems & seeds & roots!

Why not begin with a couple old standby’s and treat them freshly? It doesn’t get more basic than peas and carrots, right?

Well, it could…

~ ~ ~

R a i n b o w    c a r r o t ,  p e a   &   p e a   s h o o t   s a l a d

(about 6 servings)

1½ pounds rainbow carrots (various lengths makes it even prettier)

4 ounces pea shoots (see NOTE)

2 cups sugar snap peas

1 cup snow peas (optional)

¼ cup Meyer lemon juice

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 large clove garlic, minced

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 cup crumbled sheep or goat milk feta cheese

¾ cup mint leaves, cut into slivers

For protein, add either

3 cups cooked chicken, shredded

2 cups grilled or poached firm fish, in pieces

1 cup cooked & shelled edamame (fresh soy beans)

NOTE on pea shoots – One market I go to stocks them regularly. You may find them at Farmers Markets or Asian markets too. 

~ ~ ~

 Scrub the carrots gently in order to retain most of their bright outer color. With a mandolin or vegetable peeler, cut thin lengthwise ribbons to make about 4 cups. Discard ends or any tough cores. (What worked best for me was to lay the carrot on the cutting board, holding the thin end of the carrot in one hand and with the other, using a vegetable peeler and a bit more pressure than normal, peel from the small end to the large. I discarded both the first and last strip of each carrot since that was mostly peel.) 

Put dark and light carrot ribbons in separate bowls of ice water and soak about 15 minutes to crisp them up. Drain in a colander and roll in kitchen towels. (or line a salad spinner with towel and spin.) 

Go through the pea shoots, discarding thick or tough stems and tearing sprigs into 4- or 5-inch pieces.

Pull the strings from the straight sides of snap peas (& snow peas if using) and then thinly slice lengthwise.

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rhubarb apple tart & tulips on the table

we all bring something to the table. what are our gifts? what of ourselves do we decide to grow and then share? what love language do we speak? do we learn to speak another’s? how well do we listen?

my husband learned years ago that i love flowers. in the beginning he would order elaborate flower arrangements (full to overflowing) and have them delivered to the door. then, somewhere along the line, he learned i like simple, and all of one thing. and now, he brings me bundles wrapped in paper, wound with string, carried in his own man arms. and sometimes, after days away, blooms are there, welcoming me home again.

if you’ve been with me awhile, you’ve heard of my fear of pie. (more truly, it was fear of a colossal-y failed crust.) i’ve done truly brave things in my life (i’ll even cop to a “reckless” act or two) but pie crust? why and how this fear (irrational to begin with) grew to be such a beast, you might guess. but for years i steered clear of the rolling pin. then, only fairly recently, i decided to stand toe to toe with that tiger, stare unflinching into his golden eyes.

that tiger walks beside me now, purring like a kitten. and finally (and this is reason enough to take on a tiger) i can make my love his apple pie.

Apple Rhubarb Tart

I’ve shared my recipe for a tart shell in an earlier post. (see French Lemon Tart if you want to be tempted!) I’ll include the crust recipe here too, at the end of the post. I’d like to be humble about this, but after years of being humble, to finally be proud seems like something worthy of sharing. So here’s the un-softened, un-humble truth. This crust is   a.w.e.s.o.m.e.

A word about the filling: I grew up eating and loving rhubarb. To me, it’s a thing of spring. So as a base for this pie is a thick rhubarb “compote” of sorts – the liquid cooked out of it and nothing but the essence of the fruit remaining, lightly sweetened, imbued with the scented seeds from a vanilla pod and touched with a hint of cardamon. Apples, rolled in melted butter and brown sugar twirl across the top. Serve as is, warm from the oven, with or without ice-cream or crème fraîche. Or serve it chilled. It’s not too sweet for brunch or tea.

the Fillings

the rhubarb

  • 1 pound rhubarb stalks
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar or muscavado
  • 1/3 vanilla bean
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

the apple

  • 2 apples – Granny Smith or Pink Lady are good (or any other apple that will hold its shape while cooking)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar or muscavado

Wash the rhubarb stalks. Split in half lengthwise, then cut into pieces about 1/2-inch or smaller. Put in a medium-size heavy pot. Split the piece of vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds, adding both the pod and seeds to the pot. Drop in the brown sugar and cardamom.

Place the lid on the pot and cook over low heat for 15 minutes or until saucy. (No water in this compote – the low heat will encourage the rhubarb to release its own moisture.)

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home again home & whole fruit margaritas

Here is what I know:

These 9 days away have been some of  the most

  indescribably JOYOUS, smile and laugh and love til you split wide open of days!

~ and ~

I’ve missed the man I love! I’ll soon be home! And waiting will be:

he

fish tacos

& whole fruit margaritas

Whole-Fruit Margaritas

¼ cup water

1 whole succulent navel orange, peel removed

1 ripe & extremely tart lemon, rind removed

1 juicy lime, peel-less

¼ cup sugar

6 ounces tequila

2 ounces Grand Marnier

6 cups ice cubes

Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender and process until margarita-ish.

Moisten the rim of 2 glasses with fresh lime.

Dip in salt.

Fill nearly to the brim with margarita!

kiss!

xo

the littlest “little” comes home


Meet Andrew Justice…

the littlest of our little ones…

Not far from where he started…

Drew and his family…

with Mama and sister Emi…

Emi with her newest little brother…

Luke and little Drew…

~

Daddy & Drew…

Emi, Luke & Drew…

the family celebrates…

What a joyous place to spend my days!!

Happy I could share a bit of it with you.

with Love & Joy,

spree

Easter morning

And whether or not you celebrate Easter, may this Sunday morning be full of light, warmth & good cheer,

and may there be love on, and all around, your table! 

love, spree

beholding

when you opened the eyes of your heart today,

what or whom did you see?


muffin madness

It’s time I told you of some plans. On Wednesday April 4th I’ll be heading out of town, gone for 9 days. Gone to meet, to hold and to fall in love with our family’s newest and littlest little. Besides nuzzling of soft powdery neck and losing my heart again, I’ll be preparing some meals, hiding-and-seeking, story-telling and tending to Ali, the  littles’ mama.

In anticipation, yesterday was largely spent in the kitchen, making muffins (and more & more muffins) and two batches of granola. We’ll all be pretty busy at breakfast time, so a bowl of yogurt topped with fruit and crunchy granola, or nutritious muffins in one hand and baby in the other will put us one leg up on the day.

GratefulGuineaPig is out of town and comes home in the afternoon of the same morning I leave. Our ships will pass in the night, so I’ve left him some muffins for breakfast too.

Earlier I posted a recipe for the Morning Glorious Muffins. You can find them here.

In the basket, Morning Glorious Muffins.

Earlier I posted a recipe for the above muffins. You can find them here.

But the muffin I’m about to share with you is ta-da   G l u t e n   F r e e.  That matters to an increasing number of eaters out there. And what I’m discovering in sampling some of these g-f recipes is that the baked goods that result are extremely Tender & surprisingly Delicious! A number of them win the taste test over traditional flour recipes, with hands tied behind their backs. (I’d have lost good money if I’d bet on that one.) Here’s one plucked from the pages of La Tartine Gourmande that I thought you’d like!

Millet, Oat & Apple Muffins

 Made with a combination of flours –

Quinoa flour – wheat-free, gluten-free, an ancient grain that adds a richness of flavor as well as a complete protein.

Millet Flour – one of the earliest cultivated grains (5,000 years ago in China!) it has a sweet flavor, high in amino acids and fiber and contributes a delicate, cake-like crumb to the baked goods it’s in. Again, easily digested and gluten-free.

Add in Gluten-Free Rolled Oats, tahini, grated apple, and this muffin packs a nutritional wallop and starts the day off right. 

Millet, Oat & Apple Muffins – Gluten-free

makes 10 muffins

  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup (80 g, 2¾ oz.) Muscovado sugar (or substitute with brown sugar)
  • 2 Tablespoons tahini (sesame butter)
  • 3½ tablespoons (50 g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (60 g, 2 oz) millet flour
  • ¼ cup (30 g) quinoa flour
  • ½ cup (50 g) rolled oats, plus more for topping
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (175 g, 6 oz) finely grated pink lady apples or substitute (peeled & cored)

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a muffin tin with 10 paper muffin cups, or use silicone muffin molds.

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a braided bread for special occasions – made easy with a food processor

This bread has been a favorite around our house for years. There’s hardly ANY time at all in the actual preparation. No muscles required, no sporty (red or otherwise) stand mixer to pull out of its cupboard. Just a food processor and a couple simple ingredients and you’re in the bakin’ business. Of course, like all yeasted breads, there’s time spent loitering around. You design what form your loitering will take, but here’s how to make the bread – so easy, you might confuse it with play. First, I’ll give of all the instructions for the basic braided loaf (in the style of Challah, a Jewish egg bread.) Then I’ll show you how to adapt it so as to end up with a Greek-style festive Easter bread.

Glaze

1 large egg

½teaspoon salt

Bread:

 1 scant Tablespoon dry Yeast (1 pkg)

3 Tablespoons Sugar  

2/3 cup Water (105° to 115º F) —See NOTE 

Bread Flour – 3 cups (15 ounces, 425 g) or more

¼ cup Safflower or other neutral-tasting oil — See NOTE on Ingredients

2 large Eggs

1 teaspoon Salt

Poppy or Sesame seeds (optional)

________

NOTE: Milk brought to temperature may be substituted for the water. Melted butter may be used in place of the oil. Both of these substitutions will result in a richer loaf.

Braided Bread

(makes 2 loaves)

In the bowl of the processor, whir the egg and salt together, then pour into a small cup and reserve. No need to wash the work bowl.

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