Monthly Archives: June 2004

Pickle Potato Salad

Whew! I’m pretty busy at the moment. We are going on vacation in a few days and I also now have a fair amount of consulting work and I have to put the last finishing touches (connectors to the drain system) on the gutters and add a seat belt to our camper van. Plus there are innumerable small chores and I am still job hunting. So it isn’t surprising that I haven’t done much blogging or cooking for that matter.

We also have lots and lots of peaches from the tree – about sixty this year – so we’ve been eating a lot of those.

But I did find time to make a potato salad for the girls the other day that I was very pleased with.

Pickle Potato Salad

I’d heard about people making potato salad with bread-and-butter pickles before but I don’t really like those – they are too sweet for me. So I went with our favorite half sour kosher dills. First I gently boiled two pounds of russian red fingerling potatoes until just cooked through. I had cut them into bite sized chunks which meant mostly half a potato but sometimes a whole potato and sometimes quarters.

I let the potatoes cool in cold water after I drained them while I made the rest of the salad. I coarsely chopped half a bunch of watercress and threw it in a large bowl. Then I added six smallish half-sour kosher dills that I had sliced into pieces about a quarter of an inch thick. Then I added a quarter cup of the pickle juice and a quarter cup of mayonnaise and half a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of ground black pepper (most people will like a lot less like a couple of grinds from the grinder). I finely sliced half a bunch of spring onions and added them too. Then I added the cold and drained potatoes and stirred thoroughly to coat them with the rest of the salad. It was really very, very good. I might add a little honey mustard next time for a variation.

The kids liked it too and we ate it with corn on the cob (which I had cooked with the potatoes) and a little bacon (which could have gone into the salad too but for our vegetarian diner).

Hourly Updates

(but not from me!)

The inventively named and executed Food Porn Watch has added Tomatilla! to its list of watched sites. They hourly scan through a whole slew of good food writing sites and update a list of who has updated and when. It is a good way of tracking a whole bunch of top-notch food sites, so go check them out.

In other news I will try to write about the sushi and the potato salad I made for the family to take to the beach today – I couldn’t go – I had some work to do.

IMBB Number 5: Fish Edition

Wow, these events are coming thick and fast! It seems like just a few days ago that it was rice we were covering. Now this time around it is fish – and I am caught unprepared (ie I didn’t go scouting around for a lovely piece of fresh fish worthy of this wonderful occasion). So I am falling back on an old standby. No picture but I will try to put one up as soon as I can.

I am going to tell you how to make a simple but delightful smoked trout pate that is easy, quick, can be used for a quick snack or just as well for an appetizer for a fancy dinner party. You can accessorize at will with things like sliced red bell pepper, watercress, lemon slices, spring onion, etc.

Horseradish Smoked Trout Pate

You’ll need one piece of smoked trout – a little (say 4oz) goes a long way – and some plain yoghurt, a little pepper and salt and lemon and horseradish (fresh grated or better sauce or cream in a bottle).

You can use fresh or tinned smoked trout. I prefer fresh but it is harder to find and keep, whereas I can get tinned easily and cheaply. Drain any extra liquid off the tinned kind. Then put it in a bowl, removing any skin if there is any. Add two heaped tablespoons of yoghurt and a grind of black pepper, two pinches of salt, a squeeze of lemon. Now mash it all together with a fork. Once it is basically smooth you are done. You may need to add a little more yoghurt to make it more spreadable. Now you can add the horseradish if you want (it is good without it too). I usually add about half a teaspoon of creamed horseradish but you will develop your own taste for how much to add.

Spread the result on toast, crackers, slices of pepper, or anything else you like. I really like it on toasted pieces of french bread with a little watercress garnish on top.

Cheapskate cuisine

I’m a skinflint at heart: a cheeseparer (in every sense!), a cheapskate, a tightwad. I like coming in under budget – in everything. It’s one reason I like places like Trader Joe’s where you can get relatively high quality, high-end foodstuffs for relatively low prices. It’s why I also like ramen noodles (but I throw away the flavor packet – it’s all salt, yeast and MSG anyway) and vegetables and making my own bread and my own beer.

It’s now fashionable, too, with the trendy jump-on-the-bandwagon adoration of Fergus Henderson and his most likely very wonderful restaurant St. John’s in London. One day maybe I’ll get to go there… I like his book that’s just been reissued, ‘The Whole Beast.’ Anyway, I have been getting into this even a little more than before since I was laid off and I came up with a truly delicious and low cost meal the other day.

The menu

Slow roasted pork rubbed with rosemary and sage served with an apricot and mustard sauce

Blue Lake beans fried with chopped almonds

Fried rice with red onions, peas and sweetcorn

Here’s a picture of the whole meal.

Photo of Slow roasted pork with apricot sauce, green beans and rice copyright 2004 Owen Linderholm

Slow roasted pork with apricot-mustard sauce

I bought a pork roast, pre-marinated from Trader Joe’s ($2.79 per pound) and carefully washed the marinade off and dried the meat and then rubbed in a mixture of a teaspoon of salt, half a teaspoon of ground black pepper, a teaspoon of dried rosemary crushed into small pieces, a teaspoon of dried sage, half a teaspoon of ground fennel seeds. Then I put the oven on at 300 degrees and sprinkled a little olive oil and lemon juice on the rubbed meat and put it in the oven in a roasting pan. I left it to cook for three hours and that turned out to be about perfect.

Near the end I halved and pitted eight apricots and put them to stew gently on a low to medium heat in a saucepan on the stove. When they were soft, runny and falling apart I added a heaped tablespoon of dijon mustard and about half that of honey and stirred them both into the hot apricots, mushing the apricots up a little as I stirred. I then set the sauce aside to cool.

I took out about five cups of old basmati rice from the previous day and got out a large red onion and about a cup and a half of frozen peas and a cup and a half of frozen sweet corn. I chopped the onion up coarsely into pieces about a quarter inch on a side and set it to saute in a large skillet with a mixture of two tablespoons of olive oil and two tablespoons of butter. Once the onions were soft and translucent I added the peas and corn, stirring constantly and waited until they were hot. Then I added the rice and a teaspoon of salt and stirred continuously until all the rice was hot, too.

Finally I broke the ends off about a pound of blue lake beans and chopped very coarsely (into about thirds) a cup of almonds. I heated a tablespoon of olive oil to very hot in a skillet and added the almonds. When they started to brown I added the beans and cooked until they were hot and dark green but still had some snap to them. I serve as shown in the picture. It was really very, very good.

Business Networking

Now that I am actively looking for work again, I have been exploring all kinds of avenues to find the kind of job I want (in charge of editorial/content at a moderate to large company – particularly their website). I have been looking at business networking websites – kind of like Friendster but specifically for business networking. It is pretty interesting. I like LinkedIn the best because it does the best job of really connecting you across people you know to other useful contacts in other companies or businesses. Ryze is also good but it is better for putting up a kind of online business card that you can direct people to – the networking part seems to be more about creating online forums for businesspeople to meet in.

For those of you who didn’t know, I was most recently Editor-In-Chief of Sun Microsystems’ website. The main one – they actually have five large ones that are big enough to be treated as separate entities and I was in charge of content direction for the main one www.sun.com. Even bigger is actually the Java site and there are other developer and software sites as well. Anyway, my job was really about setting overall strategies and direction for content and trying to put together new tools and vehicles for content – not so much about day-to-day editing (although there was some of that too).

So if you are interested in business networking take a look at LinkedIn.

Heatwave!

We finally got the weather we’ve been expecting/dreading all Spring and early Summer – our normal weather – the dreaded over the hills heat. It was 94 yesterday and a bit humid and the sun felt just like the giant scorching ball of flaming gases that it essentially is.

Up until now it has been almost perfect weather – 85 or so with occasional light breezes. Oh well – the heat does mean that the peaches are finally ripening. I picked the first six yesterday, put them down in the kitchen, turned my back and they were gone. I suspect light-fingered children myself.

I know firsthand about the sun because I spent the last couple of days proceeding with the guttering which is now over half done and looking very nice. But between the sun and the hornets looking to find ways under the edge of the roof it can be a risky job.

I’ve also been doing some cooking. There is dough rising on the stove made with a sponge starter that I have had for some time in the fridge, using my slow starter method but making the starter more substantial and less liquid. So far it has worked really well and makes a much better sourdough flavor.

I made a couple of really good pork roasts – one was a Mediterranean herb marinade and the other a high heat spicy one. The high heat was slightly better but both were really good. I also made some wonderful barbecued/grilled salmon that came out perfectly – soft and translucent in the middle with a lovely smokey crust and I made a sauce by reducing the marinade in its flat pan directly over the grill. It was an artichoke, tequila, lemon juice and honey marinade and it made a great sauce!

When I get photos moved across I’ll give you the recipes as well.

A few good sites…

I finally got around to starting to add some of the other good food-related sites that I recommend. They are in the Links section in the left hand navigation bar and I am using Blogrolling to manage them for now – that may change…

I will try to keep the list to only the sites that I really think have good recipes and food writing – but since that category on my favorites menu already has over 60 sites in it, that may end up being unmanageable.

Popcorn and Milk

There are a whole lot of trite sayings that apply to this. ‘You can learn something new every day.”The naivete of children lets them try things others wouldn’t.’ Etc.

But I would never ever have tried this and am still strangely reluctant even though it makes perfect sense. We had some left over popcorn from last night – made the usual way. But Jan didn’t want/couldn’t eat it all, so we saved the rest for the kids. This morning when we discovered that we were out of bread so the usual bead and egg options were out, the girls spotted the popcorn and proceeded to make bowls of popcorn and milk for breakfast. They have apparently done this before and like it since both immediately dived in happily.

As you can tell, I was surprised. Maybe I should try it sometime…

Less is more with pizza

I have been making a lot of simple pizzas lately for the kids’ lunch and fo parts of meals at other times. Over the past few years I have come to a realization that less is most definitely more when it comes to pizza. I now make one or two smallish pizzas that have very little if any tomato sauce and very litte cheese on them and that highlight the other ingredients. The most recent have been cherry tomato and green garlic pizzas with a third or fourth ingredient that varies. Today, for, example I added some pepper and onion chicken sausage and a few thin slices of yellow zucchini. I used no tomato sauce and I sprinkled pecorino romano cheese on just before sliding it in the oven. With so little cheese you sometimes have to finish off for a minute under the broiler to get a nice brown top without blasting the middle. The pizza looked and tasted wonderful and is also even more healthy than regular pizza. I am finding that a small amount of intensely flavored ingredients works really well.

Of course, these pizzas are devolved somewhat and some might suggest that they are closer to foccacia, but in fact, because of the thin pizza dough base I would disagree. Perhaps they fall somewhere in between a real Italian pizza and a pisaladiere?

In other news I am still fighting bouts of aimlesness and am pushing myself on the jobhunting front. My resume is due for overhaul after taking complete stock of my situation during an outplacement ‘class’. Perhaps I will link to it here – I guess it can’t hurt even though I don’t exactly go out of my way to publicize this blog.

I have to remember to write about oatmeal sometime. Also grilling, roasting, the alchemy of greens and soy sauce, cheese straws, crockpots and fresh fruit.

I am also thinking about reviving my ‘The Shooting Match’ blog and making the process a bit more public. I ground to a halt when I realised I had to comepletely reorganize the plot and so maybe I’ll do that first and then take a crack at just plowing through the writing.