Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fresh Strawberry Sorbet with Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar

bowl handmade by Sarah Logan
Got to love a recipe that only has three ingredients.  I know it is not common to have an ice cream maker, but they are often seeked out at thrift shops.  If you are one that likes to play around with food, especially fresh fruit, it might be worth your while to pick one up next time you see one.

I have an old Donvier Ice Cream maker that doesn't require plugging in.  The less gadgets with machines like this the better I think. The basics get the job done.

Did you know it only takes 20 minutes to whip up the frozen desert?  It is so easy and the creations are endless. As with any ice cream maker you do have to plan a night ahead so you can freeze the inside canister.

This is a great spring, early summer, dessert.  It's light and fresh and food allergy friendly. Here I also got to use a new item I found at Trader Joe's.  My eye's lit up when I saw it, and there was no doubt that it was coming home with me.  Perfect timing too, for this recipe that is. 

Strawberry Sorbet: (makes 1 quart)
1 quart fresh Strawberries, rinsed and dried
2 tbl orange champagne vinegar, or grated zest and juice of one orange
2/3 cup sugar

Combine vinegar (or zest and juice) and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat to cool.

Rinse berries and lay out on a towel to dry.  Check for any bad spots. Remove the leaves and cores and then puree the berries in a food processor.  Stir in the syrup.

Freeze in your ice cream maker according to their directions.

Serve garnished with mint, or a fresh whole berry.
bowl handmade by Sarah Logan

This dish is vegetarian, vegan, dairy free and gluten free

Monday, June 13, 2011

Strawberry Extravaganza 2011

large stock pot full of fresh ones
Ever been begged to pick strawberries?  Sounds nice huh?  Well, luck headed my way and after contemplating when I'd go pick strawberries for canning I got the text.
all to myself and a few friends

The farm that I worked for in the past was exploding with perfectly ripe strawberries.  If you don't pick them, well, then they just rot.  What's the point in that?
dressed for the weather and spirit of berries

This past Saturday was a pretty dreary drizzly day. When you get a whole strawberry patch to yourself, you recognize the sun is shinning somewhere.  I got about 2 1/2 hours of picking in before the down pour started.
So happy I don't even know how to smile

I think I got about 8 gallons.  Enough to play around with quite a bit.  Strawberries don't last too long once picked so I had to think quick.  First and for most, you have to enjoy them fresh.  A great breakfast treat I had was strawberries and "cream". As for the rest, a full pot went on the stove with some rhubarb for jam.  A bit quartered for a pie for a family gathering and a quart for sorbet. A few gallons went right into the freezer. Some were given away because I'm nice.  Lastly, I made a few jars of drunken strawberries doused in wine (all to be posted at a later date).

The strawberries and cream is a very simple dish that I had during a snack break at a school that I worked for when I was living in California. 
Strawberries and Cream 

A big turning point for me revolving around food and cooking happened during my first stay in Northern CA.  I am forever changed and was introduced to so many new foods and a different view on it.  Every day a mom, or dad, would come into school and prepare a snack that they brought from home for all of us.  One time it was mochi and cream cheese, some times straight up Annie's mac and cheese, once a surprise of sushi.  We were spoiled. 
Ceramic bowl by Seth Colter

One I wouldn't forget was sliced strawberries drenched in a simple mixture of 1 part yogurt and 1 part milk.  That's all. Give it a try. I promise you'll be in heaven.
Strawberries and Cream
This dish is vegetarian and gluten free

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Before and After: Upcycled Slipper Chair

Once again, I have scavenged something from my mother's house. Well OK, she said I could have it as soon as she brought it home, knowing she didn't actually have the room for it.  She is a bargain shopaholic, but many times I have benefited from it.

This chair she picked up at a thrift store for $10.  The upholstery was a little warn, but the chair over all is in great shape.  It's super comfy and light weight.

I've never made a slipcover before, but after much inspiration from my sister Jackie, with Simple Home Life, I knew I had to try.  If she could do it, then I could too.  I have sewing experience and enjoy the occasional puzzle.  I went straight to it.

I purchased a heavy upholstery fabric from a discount fabric store.  I got 7 yards at $2.99/yd.  What a steal.  I couldn't afford to do these projects without places like this around, especially when it's my first try. When deciding on yardage, I took measurements for each piece that I would need and sketched them out on a grid of the width of the fabric on graph paper.  *Take note as to whether your fabric has a print on it that needs to go in a certain direction.*  The one I chose had a little give so a few pieces are running perpendicular.  Shhh, no one will ever know.

As with most sewing projects, find something similar, investigate it, look at every corner, and copy.  The chair already had a slip cover on it, so I took it off.  With my handy tape measure, I was on my way. Oh and, I decided against cording for the hassle and frustration.  Clearly it is not needed. I'm pretty happy with how it came out.  I'm ready for the next one.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Asparagus Pie

This recipe is a bit late, but asparagus is still being harvested in some places.  Once again, I was graced with the gift of freshly picked organic asparagus from a client that I work for.  I mixed it up with some purple asparagus that I purchased from Verrill Farms in Concord, MA.  This recipe was picked from a book Veggie Food by Kay Scarlett (a random thrift store purchase) and I chose it because it displayed the spears and I wanted to show off the purple variety.

The savory pastry dough is taken from The Complete Tassajara Cookbook by Edward Espe Brown. I've made it over a dozen times and I get to use my smoked paprika.

Pastry Dough for Savory Dishes (Makes 1 Pie Shell):
3/4 cup white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
2 to 4 tbl ice water

Combine all dry ingredients in a food processor, or large bowl if mixing by hand. Cut the butter into small pieces.  Add the butter to the processor bowl. 
Pulse a couple times then slowly add the water until small pea size bits form.  DO NOT OVER MIX. To test, pinch a sample with your fingers to makesure it holds together.

Empty contents onto a clean work surface. Combine the dough and form a round patty about 1 1/2 inches thick.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 2 days.

Pie Filling (serves 6):

1 lbs fresh asparaus spears
1 1/2 tbl butter
1/2 tbl chopped thyme
1 shallot, chopped
1/3 cup cream
2 tbl grated parmesan
1 egg
6-8 pitted kalamata olives sliced in half
pinch of ground nutmeg
milk for brushing on crust (or 1 beaton egg)

Remove tough ends of asparagus and cut to about 4 inches in length. If they are thick pieces, slice in half lengthwise.
Heat the butter in a skillet and add the cut spears, thyme, and shallot. Add a tablespoon of water and season with salt and pepper. Cook stirring for 3 minutes, unitl tender.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease an 8 inch tart pan. Remove dough from fridge and roll out to about 12 inches in diameter. Place dough in pan allowing crust to overhang. Arrange half the cut spears accross the bottom of the pan and the other half in the opposite direction.

Combine cream, Parmesan, egg and nutmeg in a bowl. Pour over the asparagus. Fold the pie crust over the filling, forming loose pleats. Brush with milk (or beaten egg). Top with olives. Bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown. Note, I use milk because I hate to spare the egg just for the shiny crust.  Milk does a good job too, and less food gets wasted.

Serve warm or at room temperature.  This is great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  It's nice an light either way.

This meal is vegetarian

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Farm Fresh: My Weekend Trip to Vermont

I finally made it up north to Vermont to visit my really good friend Gabby.  I realize I may hesitate to visit her so often for fear I may not leave that magical place.  She is always offering me a place to stay if I do want to live there.  This is so kind of her.  I wanted to share my trip with you all because we always make an effort to eat well and garden, oh yes, and shop ofcourse. Sadly I do not have garden photos this time around.

After my grueling ride up there (I have no patience), a few glasses of wine, and a good night sleep we hit the farmer's market in Burlington Saturday morning.  This is my first one of the season.  I was thoroughly impressed and very excited.  They know what's going on up there. We were instantly surrounded by flowers, seedlings, vegetables, eggs, meats, BREADS galore and of course arts and crafts, oh and we can't forget all of the tempting sweets.

We picked up some brilliantly bright radishes to use for our lunch the following day.


We were planning for our visit with her family up in the hills that afternoon so Gabby purchased a lovely bouquet of flowers and I picked out a fresh loaf of olive bread.

spirea, columbine, ferns, and not sure on the light purple yet

Gabby introduced me to her friends who recently started their own business printmaking and more.  She raved about how she wanted to bring me to their shop that has odd hours, luckily we ran into them at the market with a booth.  New Dudds, check them out, . Keep it local, keep it handmade.

I came home with this one,
new dudds

Really wanted this one too,
new dudds

Over debate as to whether we would eat at the marker or at our traditional restaurant, Leunig's Bistro & Cafe we went with the restaurant.  They are a member of the Vermont Fresh Network. I think we hit it up just about every visit and it is always delightful.  They have outdoor seating, as a lot of restaurants on Church st, and I can't pass up a good meal, casual conversation, and people watching. Not to mention this time we were graced with this lovely duet with a sweet sound. They certainty got a little something from us in their bucket.

Why choose one dish when you can share two.  There were a few that I had my heart set on, but we when with the Roasted Veggie Hash (Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Yukons, Butternut Squash, Red
Onions & Peppers Tossed in Green Curry Coconut Sauce served with Two Eggs any Style & Home Fries) and the Eggs Arcadia (RissolĂ© Crab Cakes, Two Poached Eggs, Tomatoes, on English Muffins Topped with Hollandaise Sauce & Tarragon, Served with Home Fries).  As an egg enthusiast, they definitely were using farm fresh local eggs. Each dish was equally as good.  Now I need to make something with the green curry paste I came across in the fridge when I was moving.
 After lunch we headed east to her inlaws who just purchased a home with a "view".  Conveniently there is a winery a stones throw away, Boyden Valley Winery.

 It was quite charming and our party of 7 delighted in a private wine tasting.
 I am a huge fan of their labels for the reds and whites.  They are designed with block prints. I purchased this white for a gift.

After our wine tasting we headed back to her in-laws and whipped up drinks and filled big pots for boiling water.  Gabby introduced me to this amazing concoction of gin, pineapple juice and basil.  How she knew I was dying to make a drink with basil I don't know, but I will be sure to share this one and pass it on.
 1 part gin, 2 part pineapple, shaken with ice and basil leaves, and topped with a fresh one.
 Oh, did I mention we had lobster? The classic lobster bib photo couldn't go missed.
 It ended with Banana Flambe, because we all needed more butter.
 Here is the "view" looking north,

The extra surprise on the day, 8 week old kittens, aka instant happiness.  They let you move them around like dolls. They were so much fun.

Sunday morning we headed home back to Gab's.  You didn't think we would drive after those drinks did you? We hit up a few yard sales, the nursery and an antique store.  Gabby got some tomato plants, leeks, naturtiams, and a flower seed mix.  I brought up some kale, chard, cabbage, calendula, and tithonia seedlings.  She also had a few other seedlings that we planted while making lunch.

I made my radish sandwiches, that are to die for.  If you are not a radish fan, I assure you, you will like these.  The lemon, butter, and salt, kill the heat of the radish and make them melt in your mouth.  Did you know you can eat the greens?  This sandwich would not be complete without them.

Radish Sandwiches from Local Flavor by Deborah Madison

1 bunch of easter egg radishes, rinced and sliced
1/4 unsalted butter
1 tbl lemon juice
1/8 ts salt to taste
1 fresh loaf of bread
Radish greens rinsed ans stem cut off

Gabby whipped up some potato salad that we ate warm, the best way.

There is no excact recipe but she made it with the following ingredients:

6 red potaotes
4 hard boiled eggs
salt & pepper
chopped fresh chives (the ingredients that makes it so good)

We invited her neighbor over, after we clipped some of her chives and had a perfect Sunday afternoon lunch with lemonade.

And that was that. I hit the road after lunch.  The sun was shinning, wind blowing through my hair, and thoughts flowed on how much I love Vermont.