Saturday, July 30, 2011

Green Figs with Prosciutto

Amid one of those weeks where are stressful things happen at the same time, I discovered the green fig. And while it did not completely alleviate the stress and anxiety of this busy, busy week, they did provide me with a healthy alternative to stress eating all of the mini candy bars my co-worker wrestled up for me. Green figs are sweeter than their black fig counterpart, and while they are a delicious snack plain I love this idea from Martha. Apparently, this is a popular bar snack in Venice and it is an excellent way to wrap up the night or to start is off. The standard h'orderves table would be greatly improved with a tray of these babies hot out of the oven. The prosciutto is thin and delicate but crispy and bacon-y and salty. It adds the perfect amount of crunch and salt to the soft, warm, sweet green figs. I didn't have any fennel seeds, so mine were fennel-less but I would love to get my hands on some before I buy my next batch of delectable green figs.
Green Figs with Prosciutto adapted from Martha Stewart

6 green figs, halved lengthwise
6 thin slices of prosciutto, halved
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, coarsely crushed

1. Preheat broiler. If using, sprinkle the fennel seeds onto the cut sides of each fig. Wrap figs with prosciutto, overlapping the ends.
2. Place figs cut sides down, on a baking sheet. Broil until sizzling and prosciutto is lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Flip, and broil 2 minutes more. Serve warm.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Days of Great Food: Edmonds Farmers Market and So Many Clams

I made my first trip to the Edmonds, WA farmers market this weekend and was pleasantly surprised by the views of the Olympic mountains, the impressive size of the market and was happy to find many of my favorite vendors from around the city. This market does have a larger portion of arts and crafts but it is in quaint downtown Edmonds, surrounded by shoppers, the Washington State Ferry heading to Kingston and full of little local restaurants and shops. We had perfect weather, Seattle decided to give us a few days of beautiful sunshine, followed by thunderstorms today. But nonetheless, Saturday has amazing. Edmonds sparkled with life and great food.
I had to start my day with ice cream because the Whidbey Island Ice Company is my favorite. They bring this little trailer cart filled with chocolate covered ice cream bars and pints of their delectable and diverse ice cream flavors all around town in the summer. I have so far found them at the Wallingford Farmers Market on Wednesdays, Ballard Farmers Market on Sundays and now Edmonds on Saturdays. Strawberry Rhubarb, Mocha Mousse, Chocolate Chardonnay. It can be impossible to choose, but you cannot go wrong. They will slice open the plastic bag surrounding your bar, hand your a napkin and send you away to enjoy the cool treat before it starts melting down your arms.
After the farmers market we made an impressive 4 course meal for Austin's family with our farmers market scores, supplemented with a quick grocery store run. Barbecue chicken stuffed with garlic and roasted with a huge Walla Walla sweet onion from the Yakima valley, some yellow pepper and a locally produced spicy sauce. A chopped salad of kohlrabi, cucumber and white carrots dressed with fresh mint, lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper. And a baked potato salad with sour cream, cheddar cheese, bacon bits and a handful of green onions. I saved the appetizer for last because it has been claiming hearts and warranting requests for weeks. It is an Austin-original creation that has become a staple at these Saturday family dinners. Jalapenos halved and de-seeded stuffed with cream cheese, sprinkled with cheddar, wrapped in bacon and broiled until the bacon is crispy. So goooood. So indulgent. Spicy, salty, creamy, cheese and bacon-y. Winner. Dinner win.
The last few days have also been blessed with copious amount of clams. I have been eating mountains of happy hour clams with a good friend of mine lately. We enjoyed a traditonal bowl of steamers in a delicous broth of tomato, lemon, garlic, herbs and vermouth at the Latona Pub a few weeks ago and this weekend we had the red curry clams at the Sip Wine Bar downtown. They are a perfect snack to savor over a cold beer or glass of wine. And there is nothing like a great broth to warm the soul over good conversation.
To top off all of the delicious restaurant prepared clams I have been consuming lately, I was lucky enough to get a surprise text message invite to help my old neighbors consume the three- five gallon buckets of fresh clams they brought back from Pt. Townsend. One of the guys who lives the house is from the peninsula and his grandparents have beach front property seeded with clams. So before the boys came back to the city, they scooped up these live beauties and filled their backyard and kitchen with helpers to make clam chowder and steam these babies up for all of their friends. Quite an impressive show.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Chilled Peaches in White Wine

As I impatiently wait for a true summer to arrive in Seattle, I am going to make all of the recipes I want to be enjoying on a porch in some 80 degree plus weather. I enjoyed these summers morsels in my kitchen, while it drizzled outside. Not quite the ambiance I was hoping for, but they were still delicious and are a great way to enjoy your peaches and drink wine too. I had chilled peaches for the first time, last summer at a dinner party a friend through. We had epic burgers with homemade spicy red pepper sauce, sorted through the remains of a tequila tasting party and finished the meal with halved, chilled peaches in simple syrup. There is something so beautiful about not overworking summer fruit. Just enjoy the perfection. The key ingredient is some great peaches, so keep your eye out and when you find them, go for it. Don't try to force a simple recipe like this with a mediocre main ingredient. Also my "wine guys" advised me that tossing peaches and sugar into wine, messes up the intended complexity of the wine anyway, so there is no need to spend a lot of money on a nice bottle, you will just ruin it. Anyway, back to what happens when you combine great peaches and white wine. Light, summer, syrupy peach wine with the most delicious wine soaked peach slices. I am very temped to eat a large bowl of them over ice cream. But I love following Molly's technique and eating the peaches and then drinking the sweetened peach wine. So delicious, I many go enjoy some and pretend it is summer again very soon.
Chilled Peaches in White Wine adapted from Molly Wizenberg who found the recipe from David Tanis

8 ripe peaches, washed well and rubbed dry
4 tablespoons or sugar, or more to taste
1 bottle (750 ml) dry white wine

1. Slice the peaches thinly. (Molly got about 16 slices per peach, I got about 12).
2. Combine the peaches and sugar, toss gently to mix. Add the wine and toss gently again.
3. Cover and refrigerate for several hours-or up to a few days.

Serve the peaches cold, in a bowl or shallow class so that you can eat the peaches with a fork and then enjoy the leftover liquid.

*This recipe could also be halved very easily!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cabbage Rolls

I am always the one whipping up new, crazy dishes in my kitchen. Some roommate will undoubtedly walk though at ask what is that? What are you making? And for once I said, "I am not cooking". The new boyfriend was, and he got to answer all of their questions about the cabbage rolls he was assembling. I have to say, nothing gains more points in my book than showing up with a bag of groceries and a new recipe in mind for dinner. Well, new recipe to me, his family has been making cabbage rolls for as long as he can remember. One of those great recipes passed down from a grandmother changing a touch with each generation as they teach their children how to make it. But I have never made or eaten cabbage rolls. So for once I sat back and observed. Well, really I hovered and took notes and photos but I had to keep myself busy somehow.
I don't exactly know where these cabbage rolls can claim their heritage from. With extensive research I learned that the cabbage roll is a traditional dish from many countries including Croatia, Russia, Sweden and Ukraine. They all vary slightly country to county but the idea and the spirit of the dish is the same. We continued the hearty-cold-winter spirit of this dish by pairing it with roasted potatoes, carrots and beets. Yes, I know it is July, but this is Seattle, it has been raining. Eat accordingly.
Cabbage Rolls from Austin Dennis

yield: 12 to 15 cabbage rolls

1 head of green cabbage
2 pounds of lean ground beef
1 1/2 cups of cooked white rice
2 eggs
1 half of an onion, finely diced
3 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1 28oz can of diced tomatoes in juice
Salt and pepper
Optional spices: oregano, thyme, red pepper flakes, paprika

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit.
2. Place the cabbage in a large pot of water, bring to a boil. Let the cabbage cook for 10 to 15 minutes until the outer leaves are cooked and easy to separate. When the cabbage appears tender, delicately pour in into a colander and rinse with cold water to cool it off.
3. Remove 12 to 15 leaves from the cabbage and cut out the center ribs from each leaf. Set aside.
4. In a large bowl combine the ground beef, rice, eggs, onion and garlic. Season with salt, pepper and any other seasonings you have around that sound delicious.
5. Assemble the rolls. Place a single leaf on a clean surface. Take a small handful of the ground beef mixture and place it at the top of the cabbage leaf, roll the top of the leaf almost 1/2 of the way down to the bottom of the leaf, fold in the sides and then roll all of the way up. Place in a 12-inch x 8-inch casserole dish. Continue rolling until all of the meat mixture has been used up.
6. In a medium size bowl, smash up the diced tomatoes and season them with salt, pepper and any other seasonings you have around that sound delicious. Pour evenly over the assembled cabbage rolls.
7. Place the cabbage rolls in the oven for an hour, cut one open to see if the meat is completely cooked, they may need a few more minutes.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Chickpea and Arugula Salad with Cumin Yogurt Dressing

Summer salads do not generally need a recipe. The summer bounty of vegetables is often best, consumed raw, lightly dressed and in any combination and ratios of ingredients that are on-hand. My diet has recently been comprised of many random meals of the summer's best peaches, figs, radishes, broccoli raab and freshly shelled peas. Hardly a recipe has been followed, but I have been full and absolutely satisfied with the delicious flavors of summer. I did however stumble upon this simply delicious salad recipe this week that has added a bit more protein into my summer diet, and kept my lunchbox full. The dressing super easy to whip up and it is a really nice change from an oil based dressing. The lime juice and vinegar add a refreshing brightness and the cumin adds great flavor to the pantry-staple canned chickpea. Arugula, the spicy and much more interesting cousin of spinach, gives this salad a great kick. The overall dish was super satisfying, but even better the next day with the addition of some fresh peas and shredded carrot. So take this base recipe and turn it into your next on-a-whim summer salad.
Chickpea and Arugula Salad with Cumin Yogurt Dressing adapted from Food & Wine

1/2 cup whole-milk yogurt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
Salt and black pepper
Two 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 cups baby arugula (2 ounces)
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup salted sunflower seeds (optional)

*A great summer addition would also be fresh peas!

1. In a large bowl, combine the yogurt with the cumin, lime juice and vinegar. Fold in the chickpeas and season with salt and black pepper.
2. Arrange the arugula in an even layer on a large platter or on four plates. Spread the dressed chickpeas on top. Garnish with the scallion slices and sunflower seeds if using. Serve immediately.

*Dressed chickpeas can be stored separately from the arugula in the fridge to be used later.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Bastille Rooftop Garden Tour

It should not be new news to Seattle foodies that Bastille Cafe in Ballard not only sources much of their food from local providers but also has their very own rooftop garden. However, you may not have heard that every Wednesday this summer you can take a tour of this luscious urban farm while enjoying a cocktail inspired by ingredients from the roof. While the unobstructed sunshine warmed our heads and the beat down on the luscious garden around us, we sipped on the Bees Knees made with gin, fresh lemon juice and honey gathered from the four (4!) bee hives that are housed on the far corner of the Bastille rooftop.
The Seattle Urban Farm Company maintains the rooftop garden space and they make excellent use of container gardening. They use stacked blue children's swimming pools to create above ground beds as well at rectangular wooden beds complete with shade covers for the summer and heat trapping covers for the winter. The edges of the roof are lined with 5 gallon buckets which house tomatoes and climbing beans. While the garden does not supply all of the needs of the restaurant below, they do provide organic produce that is as local and as fresh a possible. We literally watched as a Bastille chef came upstairs to pick greens for dinner that night.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lemon-Lime Basil Shortbread Cookies

Life without a food processor is frustrating... I find fabulous recipes like this one, only to realize that they require the use of this piece of equipment that my kitchen is missing. But through out this disappointing process I have discovered that the food processor can frequently be replaced with more conventional methods. This version of the shortbread cookie is less than conventional. Not only did I use room temperature butter in the batter instead of chopping in chilled cubes of butter, but they are speckled with lemon zest, lime zest and fresh basil. Even with my quick butter method, these cookies are remarkably flaky, light and buttery. The basil is subtle enough to not be overwhelming but it adds an interesting hint of something different. It is a great summer cookies that combines all of the fresh flavors that we should all have on hand throughout the summer.
Lemon-Lime Basil Shortbread Cookies adapted from Bon Appetit

Yield 11 to 16 cookies

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons finely slivered or chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lime zest (from about one lime)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (from about one lemon)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
Turbinado sugar for dusting (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. Line a baking pan with parchment paper or grease with nonstick spray.
2. Combine butter, flour and powdered sugar just until combined with a rubber spatula. Add the basil, both zests, salt and lemon juice. Fold until all ingredients are evenly combined.
3. Measure level tablespoons of dough, roll between your palms to form balls, and then press flat to about a 1/4-inch and place on the baking sheet, spacing 2'' apart.
4. Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with turbinado sugar if using.
5. Bake until edges are brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Little Quinoa Patties

Little quinoa patties, quinoa burgers, quinoa cakes... I swear I have tried this on my own before. Leftover quinoa, the need for something with a nice golden crisp around the edges. Somewhat like a potato latke, but heartier and more flavorful, a whole meal that you can still feel good about. But I don't think my versions every turned out this well. The flavor was okay, but this is much better and mine never stayed together this well. It ended up more like fried quinoa crumble, still delicious but not the patty-like quality I was going for. Heidi's recipe for Quinoa patties is phenomonal. These babies and so stuck together they could hold up in a bun as a great summer veggie burger if you made them into larger patties. I ate mine solo with some extra green onion on top with a drizzle of a great creamy cilantro salad dressing. I feel like the Parmesan flavor would be complimented with a few spoonfuls of a great tomato sauce over the top of a few patties. But even alone these patties pack some great flavor. I think from now on I will be intentional making too much quinoa just for the excuse to whip up some patties the next day.
Little Quinoa Patties adapted from Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Every Day

Yield: Makes 12 little patties

2 1/2 cups cook quinoa, at room temperature
4 large eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup finely chopped green onions
1 small yellow or white onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup whole grain bread crumbs, plus more if needed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed

1. Combine the quinoa, eggs and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the green onions, onion and cheese.
2. Add the bread crumbs, stir and let sit for a few minutes so the crumbs can absorb some of the moisture. At this point the mixture should easily form into 12 1-inch thick patties. Add more bread crumbs is the mixture is top wet, or add water if it is too dry.
3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Form the patties in your hands and add as many patties as you can, leaving room between each one. Cover, and cook fro 7 to 10 minutes, until the bottoms are deeply browned. Carefully flip the patties with a spatula and cook the second sides for 7 minutes, or until golden.
4. Remove the patties from the skillet and cool on a wire rack while you cook the remaining patties.