Monthly Archives: September 2004

You want to know what’s REALLY going on?

Then go to Chuck’s blog, Looka, at the Gumbo Pages. Chuck normally mixes food, cocktails, politics, music and a little essence of most everything else together into a wonderful ‘gumbo’ or perhaps ‘cocktail’ of interesting reading. But lately, in response to important events in America, he has been leaning on the politics a little harder. Go. Read. Think. Then go vote against the last four years of nasty, vicious lies.

Quick, Simple Crab-Artichoke Pasta

(Or making lunch in fifteen minutes)

Sometimes, even when you’re in a hurry, your subconscious can dig out something amazing and throw it forward to your conscious mind at just the right time to make use of it.

We have a pretty large pantry at home what with all the cooking that goes on. We also have a stand-alone freezer down in the garage/basement. Every now and again when I’m out shopping I see something that I think would be good for adding to one of these places on an ongoing basis. In this case, at Trader Joes I ran across cans of artichoke hearts and cans of crabmeat – both cheap (slightly over a dollar). So I bought about four of each for a rainy day.

The artichokes have proven to be more popular and successful in that they get used for antipasto or salads pretty regularly. Not so the crabmeat.

So on Saturday we are in a huge hurry for lunch. I get called to be told that the rest of the family will be arriving from some errand or other in about ten minutes and they expect to be fed. So…

Quick, Simple Crab-Artichoke Pasta

1) On goes the big pasta pot filled with hot water out of the faucet.

2) I run down to the pantry to get angel hair pasta and see the crabmeat and artichokes. I grab a can of each and run back up. I rapidly peel and chop four cloves of garlic and four very small onions. They start frying in olive oil. Then I add three left over small yellow summer squash and a small zucchini – also diced up small. Then in go the artichokes.

3) I remember to salt the pasta water.

4) I add the crabmeat AND the water it was in to the garlic, onion, artichokes and vegetables.

5) time to put the pasta in – I break it into shorter pieces since it will be tossed with the sauce.

6) I turn down the heat to low on the sauce and stir in about 2/3 of a cup of cream cheese.

7) The pasta takes 3 minutes. Drain, toss with sauce, serve with grated romano and also it will need a little salt.

8)Somewhere in there I found time to finely slice four red bell peppers to go with the pasta.

Elapsed time was about 15 minutes but not bad at all really and the pasta was really, really good.

Press For Change Publishing

As some of you may have noticed, I have been a little distracted lately. There are a lot of reasons for that but one of them is a big project I have been working on for the past three months that is finally ready to be made a little more public. I am starting a small publishing company, Press For Change Publishing, and the first book we are going to publish is going to be a compilation of some of the best food weblog writing of the past year (well mid-2003 to mid-2004) from about 30 different food weblogs.

A few of you already know about it and thank you all for your participation and support. The Press For Change website is up but really only shows a statement of the purpose of the company. For more information about the book, check in there regularly or check here. We plan to publish it by the end of November.

If you have any comments, questions or anything else, please feel free to email, comment here or comment at the Press For Change website. I hope you all find this as exciting as I do!

IMBB#8 – Lamb, apples and red, red wine

Well, for IMBB #8, the spirited edition, I fell at the last hurdle. I am posting this a day late despite getting the cooking done well in time.

But sometimes that’s just the best you can do. Among the delaying factors were the first rain of the season, which means tearing out of the house at 6 in the morning and rounding up the wide range of things you have left out in the rain. In this case we are talking furniture, cushions, towels, coats, swimsuits, a CD player and a camera. Then you get to run around and check gutters and drains and that kind of thing for a while.

But all is well when you can come back inside to the thought of a dinner of leftovers from the butterflied leg of lamb marinated in red wine, rosemary, garlic, honey and dry mustard, then grilled outside (before it rained). That’s dish number one for the roundup.

Here’s a picture of the ‘leftovers’ meal – Cold sliced red wine roast lamb with thre kinds of pickles – half sour kosher dill, cornichons and kalamata olives, accompanied by absolutely fresh basil, heirloom tomato and mozzarella salad and cappellini with pesto.

Photo of Cold roast lamb with mozzarella salad and pasta with pesto copyright 2004 Owen Linderholm

To be honest, the salad is as much of a star in this leftovers meal as the lamb is and you can find out more about how to make it here: tomato, basil, mozzarella salad.

Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Salad copyright 2004 Owen Linderholm

Then you get to have a pink lady apple galette (apples from the tree in the front yard) with a little brandy in the apple part, accompanied by a sauce made from raspberry sorbet (purchased) blended with a raspberry fortified wine, Framboise from Bonny Doon Vineyards. That’s dish number 2.

And here’s the galette surrounded by the main ingredients – pink lady apples and Bonny Doon Framboise.

Photo of Pink Lady Apple Galette with Two Raspbery Sauce copyright 2004 Owen Linderholm

The planned dish number 3 will be taking place next weekend – that is two batches of homebrew – one will be a version of a California Steam Beer made with fresh and ground ginger – call it Bay Area Ginger Bitter. The other will be a basic American Pale Ale. I may make a non-alcoholic ginger beer/ale as well so I can make high class ginger beer shandies through the winter.

The lamb wasn’t as good as I had hoped – more honey and mustard next time – but was still very good and nicely cooked despite a flare-up at the grill due to adding too much apple and grape stalk wood at the same time. That meant that the outside looked burnt but was really quite OK.

Photo of Roast lamb marinated in red wine, garlic, honey, rosemary and dry mustard copyright 2004 Owen Linderholm

Butterflied leg of lamb marinated in red wine with rosemary, garlic, honey and dry mustard

You’ll need 24 hours to do this right, but can still do it with six or so if need be. Get a 3 pound butterflied leg of lamb (3 pounds after butterflying – ie removing the bone). Prepare a sticky, gooey mess of a rub for the meat by mixing together four tablespoons of mined fresh rosemary, 8 cloves of garlic finely minced, a tablespoon of kosher or sea salt, one and a half tablespoons of dry english mustard (I like Coleman’s) and three tablespoons of honey. Add ground black pepper to taste. Now, using a tablespoon, smear the sticky mixture all over the lamb, especially the inside part where the bone was. Put the lamb carefully in a one gallon ziplock bag (or a large non-reactive bowl) and pour half a bottle of decent red wine over it all. Let sit in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Halfway through the time period, turn the lamb over so that the part most out of the wine now gets thoroughly soaked.

When you are ready to cook, fire up the grill – any method you like will do, but probably indirect grilling over flame is the best. Note for non-grillers: roasting works just fine, too – just follow cooking instructions for any butterflied leg of lamb at this point – I would do 400 degrees for an hour and a quarter and then check for doneness every ten minutes.

I grilled directly over a mixture of charcoal and apple and grape stem wood (the nice wood on my woodpile at the moment). Things got out of control for a couple of minutes when the fat on the outside of the lamb started to render and dripped over the wood, setting it all ablaze much too quickly. So I got a very very thin layer of black crispiness on the outside of the lamb – too little to ruin it but more than there should have been. You should try for a nice rich dark brown color without any black – no roaring blazes in other words. If you know how to test meat for doneness by poking it with your fingers do it that way – I don’t, so I use the cut the meat open every now and again to take a look approach. It isn’t quite as pretty but it’s very effective. When the lamb is done, it is done. And while cold lamb is very nice indeed (as you will see), hot lamb is glorious, so serve immediately. We made some pilau rice, grilled green beans and zucchini and a salad to accompany it along with a sauce made from the marinade by putting all the left over marinade in a saucepan with a bit more red wine and then simmering it down to sauce consistency. This technique is a good one for all liquid marinades and makes a great sauce that is guaranteed to go well with the meat.

As above, this ,amb is very good cold, too and I particularly like cold roast meat with pickles of different kinds, so here’s a bonus picture of the lamb with the pickles getting ready to go on plates.

Roast lamb and pickles copyright 2004 Owen Linderholm

The apple galette has a longer history. Our Pink Lady apple tree in the front yard has started to really come into its own and we had to come up with something to do with it. So I took all the not so good apples and cut out the cores and the bad bits and chopped them into pieces about half an inch across. Then I cooked them with a little water and lemon juice and honey and cinnamon and a stick of butter. About halfway through I carefully stirred in a couple of tablespoons of plain flour to thicken and then let cook on very low for an hour, stirring frequently. This turned a light pink color and became the apple base for several desserts including little apple pastries, apple turnovers and the apple galette.

Pink Lady Apple Galette with Double Raspberry Sauce

Make about 3 cupfuls of the apple mixture as above except add three tablespoons of brandy at the beginning. (Alternatively, do what I did and add one and a half tablespons straight into the mixture before you put it in the pastry). Make a basic sweet pastry. I set up the kitchen aid mixer and slowly creamed together a stick of butter and about half a cup of sugar and then slowly added in two cups if flour until I had a crumbly mixture. Then I dribbled in two tablespoons of water until the dough clumped into a solid lump. Then I hand kneaded it – just a couple of smoonches together – until it was a solid ball and put it in the fridge for two hours wrapped in cling film. In the meantime I took a cup of raspberry sorbet and carefully stirred in two tablespoons of Bonny Doon Framboise raspberry dessert wine and then put it back in the freezer in a bowl.

Here’s a very french country kitchen look at the main ingredients…

Photo of Pink Lady Apples and Bonny Doon Framboise copyright 2004 Owen Linderholm

When the pastry was cold, I rolled it out into a disk and put it on a baking sheet. I heated the oven to 375 degrees. Then I put the apple mixture in the center of the disk, crimped up the edges over the apple mixture leaving a hole in the center and put it to bake for half an hour. It is done when the pastry is starting to turn brown on top. Serve in slices with a tablespoon of the raspberry sauce on the side.

Other great food blogs – or not

Well, I started to enter in the 50 or so other food sites I read moderately frequently. I was using Blogrolling (a service) as a tool but it has stopped working. I have asked them about it, but if nothing happens I will have to go back to maintaining it by hand – ugh! So until that is all resolved – no other great food blogs for now.

I am still considering about the weekend’s great IMBB ‘cooking with alcohol’ event. It looks like I will not be able to do the beer brewing as planned because I planned to do it as a community event and I can’t quite get everyone together in time. I am making a grilled leg of lamb marinated in red wine, garlic and rosemary. I’ll try to make a dessert of some kind – maybe with whiskey and apples. Well – you’ll find out on Sunday…

Roundup: cooking with kids, yellowjackets, plays and IMBB

I am beginning to feel overwhelmed. The publishing venture is picking up steam. I have a slight uptick in the amount of work I SHOULD be doing for my contract employer (but I am not quite getting to it) and we went on a trip with the kids and we have visitors both days this weekend and school has started for the kids and soccer has started for Grace (first game today and yes, I AM coaching again!) and swimming starts for them next week and Amelia has the lead in the school play…

…OK, you get the picture.

Let’s start in reverse order so we don’t get distracted. IMBB is coming up again next weekend. This time the subject is wine and spirits – any kind of cooking with wine and spirits. This one will take some thought – I probably will do something new, but the better alcohol-involved dishes I have made include roast lamb marinated in tequila and rosemary, sherry trifles (all kinds), moules mariniere, whiskey cream on berries, poached pears, and of course, beer. In fact, that might have to be included as an extra post…

Next up – the trip. We went with friends to a cabin (translation for anywhere other than the Sierras+small house in Arnold which is literally due East of here about 200 miles in the Sierras on the way up to Bear Valley and Calaveras Big Trees. The adventure was a lot of fun but we had some clear highlights and lowlights. The lowlight was obviously the point when Grace got stung by three yellow jackets after accidentally disturbing their ground nest. After I got her in the house she kept spooking at any movement and we soon found out why when she got stung a fourth time by the one that had crawled up under her shirt.

Fortunately there were some good times to balance the bad. Kayaking and swimming at the resevoir (forgotten the name) at 7000 feet. Hiking around the neighbourhood and finding the old swimming hole/lake completely dried up. Apparently it has some serious blockage issue which needs to be cleared before it can be allowed to be refilled. Much too much food.

The kids mainly helped with two meals. The first was crepes for breakfast. I mixed up a quadruple recipe – four eggs, four cups of flour, four cups of milk and whisked it until smooth. Then Grace took over and taught the other kids how to cook crepes. Meanwhile I made up some spinach with garlic and lemon and adults had crepes with that and with a little grated asiago. Kids had syrup, jam, lemon, sugar, etc.

The other dish Grace helped with was blueberry creme brulee. This was going to be a blackberry creme brulee from a BBC Goof Food magazine but there weren’t enough blackberries around so I bought some blueberries at Trader Joes. No pictures – I brought the camera and forgot to use it…

Blueberry creme Brulee

We creamed together ten egg yolks and six ounces of golden caster sugar (fine organic sugar also from Trader Joes). Meanwhile we heated 500 ml of heavy cream to almost boiling and added two tsp of vanilla extract. Then we let the cream cool for ten minutes and whisked in the egg and sugar mixture and returned it all to the heat and heated it whisking constantly until the mixture thickened up to where it couldn’t really whisk well anymore. Then we put the blueberries in a large flat glass dish and poured the mixture on top and put it in the fridge to set. An hour and a half later. We sprinkled a very thin layer of sugar on top of it all and put the broiler on high. We put the dish as close to the heat as we could and kept rotating it with an oven mitt every ten seconds until about three minutes later all the sugar was caramelized. We set it to cool again in the fridge. It was delicious. Really delicious.

Other food from the weekend included tequila marinated roast lamb. Roast potatoes. Greens. Chicken curry made with masala paste. Etc.

That’s all for now. I hope to get back to more recipes and cooking soon.

Kid Cooking School

I’m off for the long weekend – Jan has to stay behind and work – with the kids to stay at a friend’s cabin in the Sierras. No snow, but probably cool to cold so we will be going hiking. But I decided to bring stuff to teach the kids some cooking skills. On the menu so far – blackberry creme brulee (Grace’s request and if she really learns how to make it then maybe we can have it made for us!?) and scones and cheese straws and roast meat and potatoes and anything else that comes up.

I’ll try to bring the camera and get some pictures of the gorgeous redwoods and of the disasters in the kitchen…