Tuesday, August 26, 2008

tomato soup

Rachael and Annie came for dinner last night, and afterwards we played dominoes. Clever Rachael won every game!

Here's what we ate:

ww pain à l'ancienne
Whole wheat pain à l'ancienne,

purslane salad
purslane salad, and

tomato soup
yummy tomato soup.

Tomato Quinoa Garbanzo Bean Soup

2 lbs tomatoes, cored, one chopped and the rest whizzed in the blender
1/2C garbanzo beans, soaked
1/2C quinoa
bouquet garni (a bay leaf, a couple of thyme sprigs, some parsley stems, tied up in string)
1 large onion, chopped
1/2t cumin
1t mustard seed
1T olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1t kosher salt (or a rounded 1/2t regular)
1t tamarind paste

Cook the garbanzo beans with 3 cups of water and the bouquet garni in your pressure cooker at high pressure for 9 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally, then check to see if they're done. If not, cook for another minute. When they are done add the quinoa, bring back up to pressure, and cook for one more minute. Again, let the pressure release naturally.

Meanwhile, in your big soup pot, sauté the onion in the olive oil along with the cumin and mustard. When the onion's beginning to brown, add the garlic and cook for a couple more minutes. Add the puréed tomato, salt, pepper, and tamarind paste and bring to a boil. Add the chopped tomato, garbanzo beans, and quinoa, and bring back to a boil. Taste to see if it needs any more tamarind or salt. That's it!

Monday, August 25, 2008

tomato jam

I got up at 4:20 this morning because I had many things I had to get cooked before 10:30, when Annie was picking me up for a little party at Tom Stratman's house. I had to make Magic Bars for the party, bread and garbanzo beans for dinner, and tomato jam. I got everything but actually boiling the the jam done in plenty of time, so I got all set up for the jam (jars in the boiling water bath, my towels and funnels and ladles and hot pads for the hot pans arranged on the counter, etc.) and took my bath.

After my bath I turned the jam on and cooked it for about 1/2 an hour. I took its temperature--221ºF--and decided it was done. After I'd set the pan on its hot pad, I looked at it more closely and decided to cook it a little longer. I put it back on high heat and left the room for about 20 seconds. When I came back, the pan was engulfed in flames! Not pausing to take its picture, I turned off the stove and took the pan off the heat. I realised that my pan was still stuck to my cute Ikea magnetic trivet, and that was what was burning. I pried it off and threw it in the sink and ran water on it, so the fire was out, but there were terrible ashes everywhere, and the smoke alarm was going. I was so sad! And my cute trivet was ruined! Below, you can see that one of its little magnets burned right out and stuck to the stove.


The jam turned out okay, though, if you like tomato jam. I think it seems more like the kind of thing you'd put on a hamburger than on a scone, but I know that some people like it.

tomato jam

Lime-Ginger Tomato Jam

4lbs tomatoes, cored and chopped
2 limes, thinly sliced
4 1/2C sugar
1/2C julienned ginger
2t Aleppo pepper (or a smaller amount of hotter pepper flakes)
1 1/2t cinnamon
1/4t cloves

Put the lime slices in a little pan with a cup of water, bring to a boil, and simmer till it's thoroughly tender. Combine with all the remaining ingredients in a great big pan and cook on high heat till it's jam. Bottle and boiling-water-bathe. Makes about 7 1/2-pints.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

tomato nectarine salad


This is an easy salad to make when you have good tomatoes. To make enough for two:

1 tomato, cored and cut into thin wedges
1 nectarine, cut into thin wedges
a few basil leaves, cut into chiffonade
a sprig of tarragon, stemmed and coarsely chopped
2t sherry vinegar
a pinch of sugar
a pinch of salt
a few grinds of pepper

Mix everything up, then let it sit for a while till it makes itself a juicy dressing.

Saturday, August 23, 2008



This bread takes a couple of days, but comes out pretty fluffy for sourdough, low-gluten, 100% whole-grain bread. I think next time I'll add more fennel and caraway, as I couldn't really taste them.

Dunkeldinkelbrot (Dark Spelt Bread)

100g 60% hydration spelt or whole wheat starter
750g whole spelt flour
560ml water
1/2t fennel seed, ground
1/4t caraway seed, ground
2t kosher salt

Knead everything together besides the salt, and let rest for about twenty minutes. Add the salt and knead a bit longer. Let rise till tripled (overnight, in my case, but time will vary according to the vigor of your starter).

proven loaves

Shape into loaves (I made 3 mini-bâtards) and let rise till about doubled. Slash and bake on a stone at 375ºF for about 30 minutes, squirting with water 3 times in the first five minutes

dunkeldinkelbrot's crumb

Friday, August 22, 2008

Bud not Buddy


Last Sunday, on their way home from the store, Rachael and Annie found a baby squirrel. Rachael frantically telephoned and texted me for advice, but I was at work and my phone was ailing (it said it had no SIM card installed) so I didn't get her messages till much later. I eventually told her to give him Pedialyte and baby kitten formula, and to rub his bottom with a warm rag after he ate, to make him poop.

I didn't meet him until Tuesday, at which point Rachael still hadn't settled on a name for him. Max? Ralph? Freddy? She addressed him as Buddy, but didn't think that was a suitable name. He was really cute, with his little grey hands and his skinny grey tail, and his little, tiny brown ears. I got him out of his cage to cuddle, and he stretched out along my forearm and started to suckle! I gave him a bottle of kitten formula, and hoped he'd survive to grow up and move into the park next door.

bud not buddy

It was not to be. Rachael texted me at work the next day, 'bud not buddy died! I am so sad.' Dakki thought maybe his mother threw him out of the nest because he was ailing; he'd been pretty lethargic right from the start. Anyway, Rachael and I had a little funeral for him yesterday, and now he's in an unmarked grave near Farney, Leslie, Laxmi, et al.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

another work potluck

We had another work potluck yesterday, fêting another departing nurse, and this time I brought pides (little Turkish or Syrian breads) and some yummy eggplant stuff. I have always thought eggplant was one of those unpopular vegetables like Lima beans and Brussels sprouts, so I was surprised when so many people said 'Oooh! I love eggplant!' This was a particularly kwik-n-e-z way to fix it, too, which was good since I hadn't gotten home from the opera the night before till 11:30 and had to get up at 4:30 to bake all my little pides as well as work on the eggplant.



Roasted Eggplant Salad

2 medium eggplants, about 2.5 lb
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, minced
a few sprigs of parsley, stemmed and roughly chopped
a small tomato, seeded and diced (optional; mainly for color)
3T olive oil
1T red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

Cook the eggplants in a tinfoil-lined pan under the broiler (don't have it turned up full blast, just at about 400ºF), turning them over every five minutes or so, till they're blackened all over and very soft. Take them out to rest and cool for a while while you work on your parsley and garlic. They should collapse into a couple of heaps as they cool. Cut the stems off, pull off the skins, and chop them up. Pick out any big, dark seeds. Let the flesh sit in a bowl for a while, then drain off any juice that's accumulated. Mix in the other ingredients. That's it!

Friday, August 15, 2008

funeral breads and a tortilla

On Wednesday I made three nice focaccias for Tom Stratman's funeral potluck. The recipes were all from Carol Field's Focaccia.

This one is made of whole wheat with olive paste, which explains its peculiar color--it tasted better than it looked.

These are both Focaccia Pugliese, with potato in the dough: one with peppers, the other with potato and sage.

Tina IMed me while I was working on my breads, and when she heard what I was doing she invited herself over for some. I said she couldn't have any focaccia as they were for a funeral, but she could have some of the tortilla I planned to make with my leftover pepper and potato that wouldn't fit on the breads. She was pleased and rushed over, but when I served the tortilla she was confused. 'Is this all? Where's the bread?' It turned out that, hearing 'tortilla' in conjunction with 'focaccia,' and being more Mexican than Spanish, she'd expected me to make her some special extra bread and not just a potatoey omelette. She quickly recovered, though, and we enjoyed our eggs.



2T olive oil, divided
A potato, thinly sliced
A shallot, thinly sliced
Some roasted, peeled strips of red pepper
4 eggs
A sprig of thyme, stemmed

In a big, round, not-too-sticky pan (I use this one), sauté the potato and shallot in a tablespoon of olive oil till everything's cooked but not browned. Scoop it all out onto a saucer. Whisk the eggs with some black pepper. Add the remaining olive oil to your pan and put it on medium heat. Arrange the peppers artfully, then scatter the potato slices and shallots around so they thinly cover the bottom of the pan. Strew thyme leaves over, then sprinkle with salt. Pour on the beaten eggs, tipping the pan around so that they cover the potatoes, then cook till it's almost done. Run it under the broiler for a minute or so (your pan ought to have heatproof handles for this step) to get the top done, then invert onto a plate and serve.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

boyish new hat


Here's the Koolhaas hat I just finished. I carefully made the girl's version (with one less repeat of the lattice pattern), even though it wouldn't cover my ears, because I hoped to look chic and feminine in my new hat. When Rachael saw me in it she immediately exclaimed "Mommy, you look like a boy!' As you can see, Rachael looks cute and girlish in the same hat.

Later, she was telling me that a girl shouldn't wear stripy tee-shirts if she doesn't want to look like a lesbian. I pointed out that I have several stripy tee-shirts that I wear often, and don't consider especially dykey, and she told me nothing I wear could make me look more dykey than I already do! Maybe that's why cute boys don't flirt with me any more....

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

vaquero beans

Today I went to my favorite store, PFI, to buy olive paste. On the way I realized I was close to Top Pot, home of Seattle's best doughnuts. I went in and was overwhelmed by all the doughnuts; I couldn't decide, and ended up getting a Bavarian cream and a cinnamon-sugar old-fashioned. I felt dreadfully sick halfway through my old-fashioned, but managed to choke them both down.


When I got home I fixed a nice supper of cucumber salad, Vaquero beans with tomato salad, and tortillas. Rachael came over and helped me for a while. When she saw me using my cute new slicing device on my cucumber, she wanted to give it a try! I suddenly had sympathy with Annie, who always groans and wrings her hands when I'm using the mandolin, and begs me to use the finger guard.


The beans turned out pretty well, so here's a recipe for them:

Vaquero Beans with Tomato Salad

peppers and tomatillos

1lb vaquero beans, soaked
1T olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 sweet peppers, toasted on a griddle, then stemmed, seeded, and chopped
1 bay leaf
1 1/2t pasilla powder (or other not-too-hot chile powder)
big pinch Mexican oregano, crumbled
3/4t salt
5 tomatillos, toasted on the griddle along with the peppers, then husked and whizzed in the blender

Tomato Salad
6oz tomatoes, cored and cut into wedges
a small shallot, thinly sliced
a sprig of thyme, stemmed
salt and pepper
a glug of olive oil and a splash of sherry vinegar

Sauté the onion, garlic, celery and carrot in a big pot till they're starting to get limp. Add the peppers, bay leaf, and pasilla powder and cook till fragrant. Add the beans with their soaking water, oregano, and salt. Cover, and cook till the beans are done. Add the tomatillo purée and cook for five minutes more.

Mix the tomato salad while the beans are cooking, and serve atop the beans.


Monday, August 11, 2008

farmer's market

Annie and I went to the farmer's market yesterday to get ingredients for a fancy dinner. On our way, we saw this nice sea holly:
sea holly
I touched it gently to demonstrate its prickliness and drew blood.


Once we got there we saw lots of lovely vegetables, but most were very expensive: $4.99/lb for organic tomatoes! Carrots for $4.50 a bunch! Flavorless Red Havens were $3.99/lb! We found a few bargains, though, so dinner didn't end up costing $80. We got bird-bitten corn, three ears for a dollar; some $1.50/lb nectarines that, while not organic, were much better than the Red Havens; and tomato 'seconds' (they were mostly either overripe or green-shouldered) for a dollar a pound.

It's a good thing we got bargain corn, as our dinner called for 7 ears. We made Jean-Georges Vongerichten's corn ravioli with tomato salad and basil fondue from Great Chefs Cook Vegan,

Jose Andres' green bean salad,

and a nectarine galette, similar to last week's apricot cherry one.

The ravioli were pretty good, but I'm not sure that they were worth the trouble they were to make. Some of the corn was charred on the cob, then cut off and sautéed with a shallot, then cooked while soy creamer was gradually added and reduced, then ground up in the Cuisinart. More corn was cut off of the cob while raw, then sautéed and added to the liquidised basil; the rest was blanched and artfully scattered between the basil fondue and the ravioli. Not to mention the tomato salad. Lots of dishes to wash.

The galette was well worth the trouble, though. Here's the recipe (the crust is my adaptation of Cafe Fernando's adaptation of Dorie Greenspan's Good For Almost Everything Pie Dough):

Nectarine Galette

225g all-purpose flour
1/2t salt
40g sugar
170g unsalted butter
50ml water

550g nectarines, thinly sliced
2T each sugar and tapioca flour
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 pint jar of compatible jam (I used nectarine-raspberry)

Demerara or other coarse sugar, a couple of tablespoonsful

Make the crust well in advance to give it time chill in the refrigerator before rolling it out. First, whisk the dry ingredients together. Rub the butter in till it looks like cornmeal with the occasional pea-sized lump, then add the water and gently mix till it's just possible to form it into a ball. Flatten into a disk, wrap well, and chill for at least an hour (or a couple of days).

Toss the nectarines with the sugar an flour, then add the lemon and let it sit while you roll the dough out into an 11"/28cm circle. Transfer the dough to a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Spread the jam over the dough, leaving a 2.5"/6cm margin, then lay the fruit on top. Fold the edges in towards the center. Sprinkle the Demerara over the top, concentrating it on the crust. Bake in a 425ºF
oven for about 25 minutes, till the crust is browned and the fruit soft.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

five apricots


Less than a month ago, my apricot tree was covered with green apricots: many more than last year, when I picked about 1.5kg, enough for two batches of jam. When I looked at it through the kitchen window last week I could tell that there were far fewer, but I was still shocked and distressed to find that the squirrels had eaten all but five!


That wasn't nearly enough for jam, so I made this galette instead. The only thing I did different was spreading a jar of cherry-raspberry jam on the dough before laying on the fruit, instead of sprinkling it with cornstarch and sugar. Anyway, it was a success--everyone especially liked the crust.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

cauliflower noodles

cauliflower noodles

This is what I made with the other half of my cauliflower.

Cauliflower Spaghetti

10 oz whole wheat spaghetti, cooked
3T olive oil
1/2 a small cauliflower, thinly sliced right cross the whole thing so as to make little floret cross-sections
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/4C pimiento-stuffed green olives, sliced
1T capers, roughly chopped
a handful of raisins
1/4C tomato paste
1t harissa, optional
a tomato, roughly chopped
a bunch of herbs, e.g. basil, parley, mint, marjoram, thyme, stemmed and chopped

Fry the cauliflower and onion in the olive oil in a large frying pan on medium-high heat, stirring frequently, till they're getting lightly browned, then add the olives, capers, pepper, and raisins. When the raisins have swelled up from the heat, add the tomato paste and harissa, stir to mix it all up and let cook another minute or so, then add the tomatoes and cook for a couple more minutes. Take off the heat and mix in the herbs. When the spaghetti's done cooking, drain it and mix it in.

Friday, August 8, 2008

sandal-ready feet

sad feet vii
sad feet i
sad feet iii
sad feet vi
sad feet v

Rachael worked hard on her feet's beauty this spring, Ped Egging them and annointing them with various lotions, so at the beginning of the summer they looked really nice. Since then she's been neglecting them, and has been wearing a bunch of new, chic-but-uncomfortable shoes, so their condition has deteriorated severely.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

cauliflower fried rice

cauliflower fried rice
I got a nice cauliflower at Annie's favorite store and used half of it to make this fried rice. I ate a little of it for breakfast and took the rest to work, where I shared it with Little Debbie.

Cauliflower Fried Rice

1T peanut oil
1/2 a small cauliflower, thinly sliced right cross the whole thing so as to make little floret cross-sections
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 oz firm tofu, dried off and cut into little (<1cm) cubes
salt and pepper
2 cups leftover brown rice
1T sesame seeds
1 biggish tomato, coarsely chopped
2 green onions, thinly sliced
a handful of coriander, roughly chopped

Heat the oil in a big frying pan on medium-high heat, then add the cauliflower and onion. When it's getting limp, add the tofu, salt, and pepper and cook--stirring frequently--till the tofu gets a nice, brown crust. Add the sesame seeds and rice and stir around till the rice is coated with oil. Lay the tomato and green onion on top, and let the rice develop a little crust before stirring it. Let it get a crust a couple of more times, then stir in the coriander and serve.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

work potluck

pain rustique ii
There was a work potluck today to fête a departing nurse. I'd planned to bring some fancy bread, but forgot to start far enough in advance for optimal results. I wanted to make pain rustique from Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread, and to do it properly I should have started the biga yesterday morning before work. Then I could have made the dough when I got home, turned it a few times before going to sleep, retarded in the fridge overnight, then gotten up and shaped and baked it. As it was, I made the biga when I got home, so it only had 8 hours to ferment before I got up at 4 to make the dough. Then I slept in till 4:40, so was really pressed for time! I quickly made the dough before I had my tea, gave it a cursory bulk fermentation till 5:30, shaped it and let it rise while I took my bath, and got it baked just in time for me to take it with me at 6:30. It turned out pretty well, considering, but not as well as these loaves I made in May--the loaves with the immature dough got an unattractively dark crust, as well as not getting quite as big. They were a success at work anyway, as was the cherry jam and lemon ginger marmalade I brought to put on it.