This year lots of changes are in store for the garden. I am removing all nine of my raised beds from the outer yard and replacing them with a perennial rock garden. I want to focus on the remaining six beds as well as Duckie and my woodworking pursuit.
The six center beds are all planted and almost ready for harvest.
The greenhouse is full of seedlings for the spring (and Japanese cucumbers and basil for the winter.)
Next up a photo essay on the remodel project for the front yard!
Last winter’s rains left us with a huge crop of kumquats this year. We made infused vodka… About one gallon of quartered fruit to two gallons of vodka. Infuse at room temp for four days.
5 kumquats, zested
1/2 oz. kumquat juice
1 oz. agave syrup
2 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 dashes Fee Broz. orange bitters
12 oz. infused vodka
Prepare all ingredients.
Zest the kumquats using a microplane.
Measure everything carefully.
Combine in a metal shaker glass.
Fill with ice, and shake vigerously for 30 seconds.
Garnish each glass with a half a kumquat, then strain the cockatil into the glasses.
These are killer boiled or deep fried, they freeze well, and you can have quick hors d’oeuvres or a nice snack in just a few minutes.
1 1/2 lb. ground pork shoulder
1 lb. chopped raw shrimp (buy the cheap ones, 41 – 50 size or thereabouts)2 oz. scallions, minced, green tops only (save the bottoms for the broth)
1 oz. garlic, minced
2 oz. water chestnuts, finely diced
1 oz. cornstarch
1 oz. sugar
1/4 oz. salt
1 t black pepper
Combine all dry ingredients in the bowl of a mixer.
Mix on low speed until the mixture becomes uniform,
then add the wet ingredients, and mix until smooth and sticky, about 2 minutes.
Turn out, and refrigerate until you are ready to make the wontons.
Lay the wonton wrappers out on a dry work surface.
Spoon a heaping teaspoon of filling into the center of each wrapper.
Use a pastry brush to wet the edges of each wrapper, one at a time (this is a good job for two people.)
Then fold in half, and seal the edges, taking care to force all air out before sealing. Moisten one of the tips with water.
Grasp each corner of the wonton, and pinch the two sides toward the center, then press the two ends together so that the wet side is in the center to seal them.
At this point you can cook them in boiling, salted water for about four minutes, then drain and toss in a bowl with a tablespoon of sesame oil. Lay then out on a plate or platter, and place in the freezer until solid. Transfer to a zip lock bag and freeze until you get a hankering. Reheat in boiling water for about three minutes, then serve with a drop of soy and a drizzle of Sriracha.
The weather has been so warm this winter that you might want to serve this soup cold! Super simple to make, and rich and satisfying, this is one of my winter favorites.
12 oz. leeks, white and very light part only, risned well to remove any sand, and coarsely chooped
2 1/2 oz. celery, rinsed and coarsely chooped
4 oz. yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 lbs. russet potato, peeled and sliced intoi 1/2″ slices
1 oz. butter
6 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water
2 t. kosher salt
20 turns black pepper
2 cups heavy cream (optional, but make the texture better)
It’s a rainy (finally) winter in Napa, so here is a good way to get warm…
2 oz. butter
1/2 oz garlic, sliced thinly
4 oz. celery, sliced thinly
8 oz. onion, sliced thinly
1-1/2 lb. broccoli – cut 2 cups of the florets off for garnish, then sliced the rest 1/4″ thick
1-1/2 oz. AP flour
6 cups chicken broth
1 t. salt
1/8 t. black pepper
2 c. cream or half and half
2 c. grated cheddar cheese (I use Tillamoksharp)
Remove from the heat, and puree in a blender or Vita-mix. Place the top on the canister, then COVER THE CANISTER WITH A DRY TOWEL. When the air in the canister gets hot, it will expand. The top can blow off! Hold the top tightly for the first few seconds of processing.
If you’re making a batch of duxelles, why not make a double batch?! This mushroom soup is as easy as a recipe gets if you have the duxelles.
and whisk together until smooth. With the soup still simmering, pour the cream and cornstarch mixture in, and whisk until combined. The soup should immediately thicken. Continue to simmer for 10 minutes, then remove from the heat.
1 batch profiteroles, about 65
1 1/2 c. duxelles
3/4 c. mascarpone cheese
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
2 T. basil, chiffonade
Using a paring knife, cut an opening in the bottom of each profiterole, then fill with the mushroom filling. These can be made and refrigerated or frozen in advance. To reheat, place on a baking pan and bake at 350 F. until hot in the center.
Happy cocktail party!
Profiteroles are great for making passed hors d’oeuvres or for filling with pastry cream for a holiday Croquembouche.
1 batch pate a choux
1 egg, beaten
This is a recipe for the dough used to make profiteroles, cream puffs, and eclairs. We are going to make profiteroles for our mushroom puffs. It is simple and quick to make.
6 oz. water or milk
2 oz. butter
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. sugar
1/8 t. black pepper (omit if you are making cream puffs or eclairs)
100 g. AP flour
The dough will very quickly thicken into a firm mass that pulls away from the sides of the pot. Reduce the heat to medium, and continue to cook, stirring, for about one minute. Remove from the heat, and stir to cool slightly.
Holiday season is here, and I needed to make some hors d’oeuvres to take to a party. Here’s a set of recipes using a simple French mushroom preparation two different ways. Makes about 2 cups.
2 lbs. crimini or white mushrooms, washed
3 oz. shallots, minced
1 oz. butter
As the mushrooms brown, stir to scrape them from the pan. Continue doing this until you’re sick of it, then remove from the heat. This is the classic French mushroom duxelle. Next two recipes to use the duxelles, Mushroom puffs, a great hors d’oeuvre, and great cream of mushroom soup.
Last night was a fried chicken feeding, and what better on a warm autumn night to go with fried chicken than slaw! This slaw has a racy splash of apple cider vinegar and a goodly amount of ginger spiked with a bit of celery seed.
3/4 oz. ginger, peeled and sliced thinly across the grain
3/8 oz. garlic, peeled and crushed
1/2 oz. honey
1 oz. apple cider vinegar
3 oz. Best Foods mayonnaise
1/8 t. celery seeds
Combine the ginger and garlic in the cup of a smoothie machine, and place on the scale. If you don’t have a smoothie machine, a blender will work, but you will probably have to double the batch. If you don’t have a scale, consider buying a scale.
Measure the honey into the top,
then the vinegar.
Screw the blade base on, and process until smooth, shaking as needed to incorporate all chunks.
Unscrew the base, and return to the scale. Zero the scale, then measure the mayonnaie in. Spoon the 1/8 t. of celery seed on top, and screw the blade base back on. Process just to mix.
Reserve. Stores well for up to two days in the refrigerator.
Vegetables for Slaw
12 oz. napa cabbage, sliced into 1/4″ strips
1 1/2 oz. carrot, peeled and julienned on the mandolin
7 oz. apple, julienned on the mandolin
1 1/2 oz. scallions, green part only, sliced 1/8″
1 oz. cilantro, rinsed, shaken dry, and roughly chopped
Prepare all ingredients as directed, then combine in a suitable bowl wtih the sauce and mix to distribute evenly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Allow to sit for half an hour to allow the sauce to soften the vegetables. Be ready for a bright splash of flavor next to your fried chicken!
Julie and I often enjoy a roast chicken dinner together. She has the breast and I the leg and thigh. This leaves a lonely carcas and lots of meat. Leave a little bit of breast meat aside for the dogs, and there is still another good meal waiting for a little magic. We call this Chicken Noodle Soup. You might call it Pho Ga.
The first step is to combine all of the skin, bones, meat trimmings, and any juice left on the carving platter in a pot. I use a 3 1/2 qt. pot, and I fill it to the top with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer while you prepare everything else.
Everything else is really not much, but the spices are really important to me.
I use one small onion, peeled and cut in half (in that order – the two ends will hold the onion halves together later.) A nice, fat chunk of ginger about 1″ long, cut in half. Half a head of garlic cut in half across the equator. Then the spices: 3 cinnamon sticks, five or six cloves, five or six star anise, and a tablespoon of coriander seeds. The onion and ginger need to get cooked.
Place the cit sides down over the grates of gas stoves (or a grill) and cook until blackened. Turn occasionally to cook evenly. It should take about ten minutes over medium heat. Take your time. This step provides great color for the broth, but also adds depth of flavor.
As your pot of bones and trimmings slowly simmers, melted fat and dissolved proteins will rise to the surface. It’s not important to make it perfect, but I usually try to skim off most of the scum and fat and wash it down the drain.
After half an hour or so simmering and skimming, the liquid should be more or less clear.
Now it’s time to add the aromatic ingredients.
All you have to do is wait. Go about your business. The broth will simmer very slowly for somewhere between two and three hours happily.
In the meantime, soak your pho (rice noodles.) Enough cold water to cover them in a bowl is all it takes.
After an hour or so, the noodles will become completely soft and pliable. Drain them and hold until ready to serve the soup.
While you wait, you can also prepare the chicken meat and herb garnish. I like chopped green onions in the bowl, and a plate of Thai basil and shiso or cilantro on the side. You may also like thinly sliced jalapeno peppers. Julie does…
When the cooking time is up for the broth, and the liquid in the pot is slightly reduced,
strain through a sieve into another pot.
The color and aroma should be intoxicating…
Bring the broth to a boil (or use a separate pot of boiling salted water) and add the noodles.
30 seconds is enough, then transfer the noodles to warm soup bowls. Top with the shredded chicken meat and green onions.
Pour the broth over the top and enjoy!
The long-cooked pork bone and mushroom broth is amazingly rich, but there are many other styles of broth in Japan. Here is one that is much more simple to make, lighter and less filling.
makes broth for four large bowls
Combine all ingredients, and stir to dissolve salt. Bring to a simmer, then ladle over cooked noodles and garnish.
The noodles I’ve been using are from Tokyo Fish in Berkeley. They are fresh and locally made. At $0.99 each, they are a good deal! Cook them in salted boiling water for three minutes, stirring occasionally.
Drain but don’t rinse.
Portion in hot bowls with the rendered chicken fat in the bottom and arrange garnish over the top. Today I’m using slow-cooked pork shoulder in place of chasu, along with simmered bamboo shoots, soft egg, and green onions like the tonkatsu ramen. I’ll add a tablespoon of rendered chicken fat to this one, as well, but no tare. This broth has enough salt.
On vacation this week, and I made a trip to Tokyo Fish in Berkeley where I stocked up on sashimi fixin’s. One of the fish I was lucky enough to find was hirame, just the outside fin mussel. Called angawa, it is one of our very favorite sashimi items, but soy sauce does not do it justice.
Here’s a easy recipe for ponzu, the tangy citrus soy dipping sauce often served wtih angawa.
2 oz. Japanese soy sauce
2 oz. dashi
2 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 oz. rice wine vinegar
1 oz. mirin
good pinch bonito flakes
Combine all ingredients in a suitable bowl, and stir to mix. Allow to sit for an hour for the bonito flakes to infuse, then strain them out. Store refrigerated and covered tightly. Will keep for a week or so.
Here’s another recipe that I often make in large size to freeze. Defrost and add chicken and vegetables, a pot of rice, and dinner is ready in less than an hour.
3 oz. Canola oil
1 lb. head on shrimp, coarsely chopped
2 oz. Garlic, sliced
12 oz. Yellow onion, sliced
4 oz. Yellow curry paste
1/2 oz. Turmeric
4 cups Chicken broth
4 3/4 cups Coconut milk
3 1/2 oz. Palm sugar
1 1/2 oz. Lemongrass, crushed
2 oz. Galangal, sliced 1/4″ thick
2 oz. Thai chiles, coarsely chopped
20 each Kaffir lime leaves
2 oz. Lime juice
1 oz. Fish sauce
then puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Strain through a sieve into a storage container, cool completely, then cover. At this point, you can freeze the sauce or use it right away.
Whenever you are ready, prepare the meat and vegetables. It can be almost any combination that you like. In this photo, I used chicken thigh cubes and shrimp with diced roast yams, green beans, halved grape tomatoes, and thai basil.
Add everything except the tomatoes and basil to the pot, and bring to a simmer.
I almost always have carrots growing in my garden. It’s not that I can’t get perfectly good carrots at the grocery. It’s for the kids in my life. The excitement of pulling something out of the ground and eating never gets old. The question that then presents itself is – what to do with them?
This is a simple recipe that anyone’s kids can make, themselves.
Serve right away!
One of my favorite recipes from Hawthorne Lane is Nicole Plue’s recipe for Chive Biscuits. The dough is easy to make at home, and you can freeze it for a long time. It makes for a quick and very special addition to a soup and salad lunch and dinner. Or my favorite, bake them on top of chicken pot pie in place of pie dough. The bottoms become silky dumplings flavored with the chicken gravy!
1 lb. AP flour
1 oz. sugar
1 oz. baking powder
¼ oz. salt
4 oz. butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
Chives, cut 1/8″
12 oz. cream
Mix using the paddle just until the butter is reduced to small chips the size of a fingernail. Then add the cream in a steady stream with the mixer running on low. Mix just until the dough comes together.
Roll to a uniform 3/4″ thickness,
Happy warm dinner for a rainy night!
Another nice winter dish, this gratin is easy to make and can be prepared in advance.
1 cup milk
1/2 cup cream (or use 1/2 and 1/2)
2 T. flour
2 T. butter
2 oz. onion (1/4 wedge)
1 small bay leaf
5 oz. grated Gruyere cheese (or use cheddar cheese if you prefer)1 large head cauliflower
Begin by making the cheese sauce to top the cauliflower.
Heat the milk and cream over medium heat to a simmer. Combine the flour and butter in a separate pan.
While the milk and cream are heating, cook the butter and flour over medium heat, whisking to combine.
When the butter and flour are simmering nicely, add the hot liquids.
Whisk steadily while all of the liquid is added.
Continue whisking until the mixture begins to simmer and any lumps are mixed smooth. Reduce the heat to a low simmer.
Poke the clove through the bay leaf into the onion quarter, then add it to the pot.
Simmer for 20 minutes, then remove the onion, clove and bay leaf. Whisk the cheese in, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Reserve.
Separate the florettes from the core of the cauliflower.
Cut the larger florettes in half so all pieces roughly the same size.
Boil in salted water until softened, but still firm.
Drain and allow to cool.
Arrange in an oven-proof gratin dish, then pour the cheese sauce over the top. At this point, you can cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate if desired.
Bake at 350 F. until the sauce is bubbling and the tops of the cauliflower begin to brown.
As winter slowly creeps into the Napa Valley, I look forward to fires in the fireplace rather than the grill, and rich, braised dishes. This is an oldie but a goodie. You can use beef chuck meat, but I like the succulence of the meat from beef short ribs. Using prime or even choice meat is not important. The succulence comes from melted protein rather than fat.
5 lbs. beef short ribs
1/2 oz. canola or other neutral oil
Salt and pepper
1 lb. yellow onions, peeled and coarsely chopped
6 oz. celery, rinsed and coarsely chopped
4 oz. carrot, washed and coarsely chopped
1 oz. garlic, peeled and crushed
1 oz. tomato paste
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 oz. dried porccini mushrooms
1/2 t. black peppercorns
12 oz. red wine
4 c. chicken broth
1 lb button or crimini mushrooms, rinsed, stems removed and saved
1/2 lb. pearl onions, peeled, root off
3 T. AP flour
3 T. sweet butter, room temperature
Season the short ribs on all sides with salt and black pepper.
Now is the time to use that huge Le Cruset pot that is collecting dust. Place over high heat and add the oil.
Brown the short ribs on all sides. Keep the heat on high.
Darker color on the meat will result in a darker, richer sauce.
Continue browning until all pieces are done, then reserve.
While the meat is browning, prepare the aromatic ingredients. Chop the vegetables coarsely, and add the stems from the mushrooms. Crush the garlic cloves.
Remove all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the pot, then return to high heat. Add the garlic, and stir. Cook just 15 – 20 seconds for aroma.
Add the other vegetables, and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to wilt and lightly brown.
Add the tomato paste, and cook, stirring regularly, until the entire mixture is softened and browned.
Reduce to a
Add the wine, and bring to a boil.
Reduce to a fast simmer, and cook until the smell of alcohol is gone.
Add the browned meat, the thyme, peppercorns, and dried porccini. Push the meat down into the vegetables.
Add the chicken broth.
Bring to a simmer, season to taste with salt and pepper, and cover.
Bake at 350 F. for an hour and a half, or until the meat pulls away from the bone.
Remove the meat and bones from the liquid, and allow to cool.
Separate the meat from the bones, and cut chunks into roughly 1″ cubes.
Strain the broth into a suitable pot, pressing as much liquid from the vegetables as possible with a metal spoon.
Place the pot over medium heat, with the flame under just one side of the pot. This will cause the simmering liquid to push the accumulated fat to one side of the pot where you can carefully skim it off with a ladle. Continue to skim until the fat has been removed.
Wash the braising pot, and return it to high heat. Add the mushrooms and pearl onions, and cook until the mushrooms soften and the onions begin to caramelize.
Add the skimmed braising liquid, and bring to a boil.
Combine the flour and butter to make a smooth paste.
Whisk the butter and flour mixture rapidly into the boiling braising liquid.
The liquid will thicken.
Add the braised beef, and heat through.
Stir in a little Italian parsley if you have some.
Serve over buttered noodles, I like the little nests of pappardelle.
Happy winter dinner!