Sunday, September 28, 2008

hot apple pie juice

I made another juice the other day which was yummy plus a way to use up an overripe banana. The recipe was from reFresh, a Canadian restaurant cookbook with a juice emphasis. I think you could make it with boughten apple juice, if you didn't feel like getting out and then washing your juicer, with results almost as good.

Juice 4 smallish apples, a 1/2" piece of ginger, and 1/2 a peeled lemon, yielding about 500ml of juice (or use premade apple juice, and squeeze the lemon in, and grate the ginger and squeeze the juice trough a little cloth). Run it through the blender with an old, blackened banana and a big pinch of cinnamon, then heat it on the stove till it's a nice temperature (or, if you have a hippie blender, you could just blend till it gets hot and save washing a pan).

Friday, September 26, 2008

my favorite juice

Billy Warner and Carmen took me to MacPherson's on Sunday too get some cheap fruit and veg, and Carmen found a giant bag of nopales for only 79¢! I got them plus a nice, verging-on-overripe pineapple so I could make my favorite juice for upcoming work lunches. It's really easy: run 2 nopales, 1/2 a pineapple (peeled) and a lime (peeled) through your juicer. You should end up with about a pint and a half of juice, enough for two people. The cactus slime makes it thick and kind of chewy.

A nurse watched me drink it and wondered why I would bring such a thing in my lunch. 'Because I like it' was an inadequate excuse--cactus must have some health benefit or nobody would eat it. I looked into it and found that it's supposed to lower your LDL cholesterol, and be good for diabetics, and good for dieters because it's very filling per calorie.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

baking failures

I had two baking failures within 24 hours. First, my birthday cake:

failed cake

It's all flat, as if it has no baking powder. I remember putting it in: maybe it got too old?

Then my birthday corn bread:

failed corn bread i

It didn't fail as badly, but it should have been much bigger. I let it get overproofed when I realised--at the point when I should have been putting it into the oven--that I'd forgotten to heat my baking stone. I let it heat for a while, and then when I transferred the loaves from their couche to the peel they sank quite a bit. There was a little bit of oven spring, but not enough to compensate....

Thursday, September 18, 2008

work treats

work treat cookies

My quarterly work meeting's today. It's never very fun--its main purpose seems to be to point out all the things we've been doing wrong--but there's food at it. I usually bring something savory to that kind of thing, since there's so often a preponderance of sweets, but the people at my job seem more apt to bring salads and potatoey things so I made some nice wheat-free cookies on Little Debbie's behalf. The ones on the right are vegan spelt peanut butter cookies and the ones on the right are flour-free, vegan banana chocolate oat cookies. I've tried them, and they're both as good as regular cookies: I hope they're a success!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


allioli i

Rachael and I tried to make traditional Catalan allioli (with just garlic and olive oil and salt) yesterday using José Andrés' recipe. At first it went well, with our sauce looking creamy and emulsified, though not very thick. About a third of the way through adding the oil, though, it broke and turned into a soup of olive oil speckled with beige clots. I guess this is common. We switched to the modern, cheater's version by adding our failed stuff to an egg yolk, and got some lovely garlicky mayonnaise.



We put the allioli on stripy-pan-cooked vegetables (Rosa Bianca eggplant, globe zucchini, and semi-hot peppers, and ate it all with tomato-cucumber salad and polenta.


I fixed the polenta in my fuzzy-logic rice cooker, and it's the first time I've made polenta that Rachael liked. It was really easy, too, with no stirring. I just threw in 1/2C polenta, 2C water, 2T olive oil, some salt and pepper, and a big pinch of nutritional yeast, and ran it through the porridge cycle twice.

saffron ice cream

We had David Leibovitz's coconut-saffron ice cream for pud. Rachael didn't like it, but I did. It had a mysterious taste of honey as well as the saffron.

Saturday, September 13, 2008



Rachael and I couldn't think of a movie we both wanted to see yesterday, so I took her out for lunch instead. I thought we could go get nice falafels at the Ali Baba, but Rachael was in the mood for a hearty American breakfast so we went to the Canterbury. She got a short stack of blueberry pancakes, and I got a great, huge dish of nachos. I managed to eat almost all of them!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

summery dinner

When I had Rachael and Annie to dinner for tomato soup Rachael complained that she hadn't expected the soup to be hot, so I decided to have them back for gazpacho. I got up at the crack of dawn to make my second favorite French bread recipe, poolish baguettes from Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread (my number one, Acme rustic baguettes from Artisan Baking, requires more advance planning).

poolish baguettes

baguette crumb

Then I met Annie after her dentist's appointment to eat lunch and shop a little. We got some nice trinkets at City Kitchen's birthday sale, and cucumbers and peppers at the Pike Place Market.

I made the gazpacho as soon as we got to my house, as Rachael was ailing and eager to get home to watch Gossip Girl.


Then while it chilled in the reefer I fixed this nice corn out of 1/2 a small onion, 4 ears of corn, 1/2 a New Mexico chile, a couple of cloves of garlic, and a big squirt of lime juice (the corn and the bread seemed to be the only things poor Rachael enjoyed):


I realized I'd forgotten to get lettuce, so I rooted around in my vegetable drawer for something suitable as a basis for salad and all I found was some celery. I sliced it up very thinly with my scary new machine, and dressed it like celeriac rémoulade.

celery salad


1 kg tomatoes
2/3 of a cucumber, peeled
a small bell pepper. stemmed and seeded
1/4 of a small onion
a couple of handsful of bread
2T sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar if that's all you have)
salt and pepper
3-4T olive oil

1/3 of a cucmber, diced
1/2 of a bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/4 of a small onion, diced
anything else you think sounds good (avocado, hard-boiled egg, slivered herbs, halved green grapes....)

Whiz everything but the olive oil in a blender till smooth, then pour in the olive oil in a thin stream while the blender's going. Chill for at least an hour. Serve with the garnishes.

Monday, September 8, 2008

blackberry picnic

Ana, Ken, and I went on a picnic at Magnuson Park, followed by berry-picking, yesterday. I made little pies--cheddar and olive for Ken,


and beet green and feta for me and Ana.

beet green and feta

Here they are after being baked (the snails are the beet green ones, the hoops are the cheddar):


They're pretty easy to make, and are good for things like picnics and work lunches.

Beet Green Pies
(makes eight)

500g flour, 100-200g of it whole wheat if you like
1t instant yeast
1 1/2t salt
1/3C olive oil
1C warm water

400g beet greens (or spinach or chard), sliced into strips
kosher salt
100g feta, chopped up
1/3C toasted pine nuts
3 cloves garlic, minced, or to taste
olive oil

The night before, mix together all the dough ingredients, let rest a while, then knead till smooth and elastic. Let rise overnight.

Sprinkle salt over the greens, and rub it in till they've darkened and shrunk. Squeeze them hard, to get as much juice out as you can. Throw out the juice, then fluff them back up so that you have a heap of individual strands again.

Divide your dough into eight pieces, and flatten each out into a disc. Let them relax for ten minutes or so, then start assembling pies. Roll out a disc of dough as thinly as you can, then scatter with greens, feta, pine nuts, and garlic. sprinkle on a pinch of sumac, drizzle some olive oil, then finish however you like. You could just fold them in half, sealing the edges, or you could roll them up like cinnamon rolls and form into hoops or snails.

When you're done, let them rise for 40 minutes, then brush with olive oil and bake at 375ºF for about 25 minutes, until they're beginning to brown.

beet salad

We also had this nice raw beet salad, which was made of grated chioggia beets, parsley, toasted walnuts, orange zest, and goat cheese, and dressed with walnut oil and orange juice.


At first we thought we were going to fail at blackberrying, as it seemed people had come just before us and pick all the good ones. Everywhere we looked there were lots and lots of red berries, and old, dried-up berries, but hardly any nice, ripe berries. It was hot and sunny and we were getting tired.... Finally I found a little path leading to a tiny meadow surrounded by virgin bushes, and in our last twenty minutes we got far more berries than we had in the previous hour.


Saturday, September 6, 2008

new furniture


Before we went to PFI on Thursday, Annie and I went to Antique Liquidators to look for a little cabinet or sideboard for me. We saw many nice, simple cupboards, but I was persuaded to buy this complex Belgian thing (the antiques people called it a sideboard, but I don't think they usually have an extra cupboard stuck on top) with marble and mirrored doors (note the bits of me visible in the mirrors). Noble Billy Warner agreed to help me fetch it, and was sad when he saw how big and delicate it was. We managed to get it out of his truck, up my stairs, and reassembled without dropping the slippery marble or breaking any of the glass, and it fits in its spot better than I'd feared. Now I just have to figure out what to put in its cupboards and and what to display in its little niche. Maybe my Guanyin?

durum flour

bread and crackers

Annie and I got some new durum flour at PFI on Thursday, and I tried it out yesterday on these crackers and Altamura bread, both from Bread Matters. I haven't tried the bread yet, but it certainly looks better than my cocodrillo from Monday. I ate a cracker last night and it was really good--kind of like a poppyseed Ak-Mak.

Friday, September 5, 2008

disappointing melon

cute melon

I usually never buy cantaloupes because I can never seem to find a good one. They're always green and hard and unscented when I look at them in the store. I know others have better luck, because the melon I eat at restaurants and at the Family Kitchen is always nice and ripe. Despite what Rachael says I think I have okay luck with watermelon, which is supposed to be harder to pick out (being all visual and auditory, with no smell to help).

I saw this cute cantaloupe at the Madison Market and thought my luck had turned! It looked ripe (no green, all nice and pale orange beneath the netting) and smelled strongly of cantaloupe. And it only weighed 475g, the perfect size for one person's breakfast! I sprinkled it with pepper and ate it with a fork, in the Ross-Ryan manner, and it had no flavor at all: just a pleasing wetness.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

potluck for Kathryn's birthday

We had another work potluck on Monday, this time celebrating Nurse Kathryn's birthday. I decided to make cocodrillo from Carol Field's The Italian Baker, even though it's a very touchy recipe that I have about a 20% failure rate with. When it's good it's very good, and it fails in novel ways.


My recipe is heavily annotated and highlighted, as I've found several different ways I can go wrong. I'm not sure what happened this time, though.

Here's what cocodrillo ought to look like:


And here's how it turned out this time (that's a nice Dunkeldinkelbrot next to it, that I got out of my archives for Little Debbie who doesn't eat wheat):

breads ii

It had almost no oven spring, a much tighter crumb than it ought to have, and was a peculiar dark beige color. It acted funny right from the start: the two starters were darker than usual, smelled sourer, and didn't rise as quickly. Then the dough seemed too wet even though I added the maximum amount of flour, which I usually never do. My current theory is that the expensive durum flour I bought at De Laurenti's isn't really durum flour. It has kind of a funny, sweet taste, and no wheatiness.

I made some nice muhammara to go with my bread, and it turned out better.


It's always a great success, and very easy to make. I followed this recipe, except that I used a rehydrated ancho instead of the hot chile, and used spelt pretzels instead of my usual Ak-Maks, because of Little Debbie. Megan the resident also brought muhammara, but hers was different from mine--wetter, and more pomegranatey.

Below, you can see the remains of the potluck. My contribution's up in the left-hand corner, along with Megan's muhammara. My bread was eaten up despite its failings.