Monday, May 21, 2012

Strawberry and Rhubarb Sauce

I understand the polarizing nature of rhubarb, either you love it or you are puzzled by it. I am firmly in the love it camp. I just adore the sweet tart taste, the silky texture, and the bright pink color (prink as I like to call it). This is an easy rustic way of celebrating the rhubarb with its favorite dancing partner the strawberry. The sauce is easy and delicious. I had it with yogurt this morning, and we are going to have it with angle food cake and whip cream for dessert. I hope you try it.

Here is how I did it...

What you need:

2 long stalks of rhubarb
1/4 cup of raw sugar
1/2 cup of water
1 pint of strawberries

What you do:

1. Heat up a heavy bottomed skillet and add the cubed rhubarb, sugar, and water. Cook on high for about 5-7 minutes until you have a jam-like consistency and the rhubarb has disintegrated. The smaller you cut the rhubarb the faster this happens. Take off the heat

2. Wash and cut the strawberries in quarters and fold into the rhubarb mixture.

3. Serve as a sauce with yogurt, gelato, cake, anything.

As always, much love, many blessings, and happy saucing!

Kitchen Cacciatora

So technically, this is Pollo alla Cacciatora or Chicken as the Hunter likes it. But... I call it Kitchen Cacciatora because really you can put anything you have in your kitchen in this. My recipe changes often depending on the left over ingredients of my fridge. The heady herbs and thick tomato sauce can bring new life to any leftovers. Since my in-laws will be dinning with us tonight, I have decided not to use leftovers and instead to buy proper chicken.

I'm using skinless boneless chicken thighs, because they cook up faster, they are easy to eat, and they have enough fattyness to keep the meat moist and delicious. You could put this on low in a crock pot while you are at work, but I am happy to plunk everything into a dutch oven and let it bubble for 20 minutes. Then put it in a low oven until you are ready to eat. My husband who runs our dinner preparation with the military precision of a swiss watch, is not a happy camper if dinner is cold.

You can serve it with rice, pasta, or crusty bread. Tonight for us, oriechette. Which is a type of pasta named because it looks like baby ears. I like shape becuase it holds on to the sauce like little edible bowls. But when we had it as left overs (above) I served it with sauteed kale and sorrell and a wild rice mix. I think I liked the pasta better. And my 10 month old son certainly liked it with pasta better also. I hope you enjoy.

Here is how you make it:

What you need:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 a large spanish onion diced

1 carrot diced

2 ribs of celery diced

3 smashed and minced garlic cloves

2 sprigs finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves

2 and 1/2 pounds chicken thigh (i don't bother to cut them)

1/2 teaspoon celery salt

1/2 cup any wine you have open

2 bay leaves

1 (14-ounce) can tomatoes (if you use the whole tomatoes squish them with your fingers first)

1/2 teaspoon raw sugar

pepper to taste

chopped parsely for serving

What you do.

1. Set aside a large dutch oven or safe crock pot you will be using this to catch the deliciousness as you build flavor.
2. Heat a large skillet add the oil, and the chopped veggetables until translucent. Add the garlic last so it doesn't burn. The minute you smell it, it is done. Reserve in your dutch oven.
3. With out cleaning the skillet, heat up the pancetta until crispy. Pour into dutch oven.
4. Same skillet, brown up the chicken a few pieces at a time so they don't steam. You just want the brown on the outside, not cooked. Reserve in the dutch oven.
5. Same skillet with all the yum drippings, add the chopped rosemary, celery salt, some cracked pepper, and bay leaves. Fry for a minute than deglaze with the wine. Add everything to the pot.
4. Pour in the tomatoes and half a can's worth of water over top of everything in the pot.
5. Add the sugar.
6. Now if you are using a crock pot, but on high and let simmer for 1 hr or on low for 3hrs ... If you are using a dutch oven. Set on a medium burner and let simmer for 25 minutes. After that you can put it in a 200F oven so that it will keep warm until you are ready.
7. Mange! Buon appetito!

Serve with pasta, rice, or bread, even polenta would be lovely. I had this with caprise salad and gelato for desert.

As always, much love, many blessings, and happy cooking.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Sticky Asian Spare Ribs

I lived in Japan for a few years when I was stationed there with the Navy. I remember the first time I was introduced to smells of real Asain cuisine, I ordered a salad at the officers club. The dressing was heady with the scent of toasted sesame seed oil, and ever since then I was hooked. I am sure my parents tried to introduce me to real Asain cuisine but the truth is the closest I got was Szchuan Star take out China Food. Suffice it to say that ever since that first salad in the O-club in Sasebo, I have always loved the balance of all flavor profiles that come with Asian cooking.

If you are going to start with baking, they say, start with cupcakes, they are easy, quick, and delicious. If you are going to start cooking Asain, I say, start with these ribs, they are easy, quick, and delicious. Don't be intimidated by the long ingredient list, just go to the Asian Grocery Store and have a ball...

Here is how you do it.

What you need:

16 to 20 pork spare ribs
4 tablespoons of White Rice Vinegar
3 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 tablespoons of sweet chili sauce (the sweet kind that is luminscent pink not Sarachi)
2 tablespoons of honey (I used buckwheat because I like the flavor)
1 teaspoon of sesami oil
1 diced green onion
1 inch diced ginger
3 star anise
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
cilantro and Sarachi hot sauce for serving

What you do:

1. The morning or the night before dinner: Cut up the spareribs and plunk in a bowl.
2. Add all of the ingredients except the extra cilantro and green onion. Toss to coat.
3. About 2 hours before you want to eat: preheat the oven to 350F. Put all of the ribs and marinade inside a foil lined roasting tin. Cover with foil, and place in the oven for 1 hour.
4. Serve with cut up cilantro.

This is delicious just by themselves but if you want to add something, fresh spring rolls, white rice, or cold soba noodles would be delicious.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Spanish Gazpacho

I never liked gazpacho, there was something unappealing about cold soup. But, then in the heat of the summer Seville sun, I had my first taste of real Spanish Gazpacho, and I was hooked. The only thing Spanish about this soup is that it is made by Latina and I used Spanish olive oil. Nonetheless it is delicious, and so easy to whip up. Even my 10 month son liked it. I have garnished the grown up rendition with crisped tomato peels and watercress. I love the look of the intensified peels when they are crisped in the oven; I love their taste and their crunch. I also like how the peppery watercress contrasts with the cool soup. Feel free to simplify the recipe by not bothering with the garnish and not seeding the tomatoes, but I do recommend peeling them for a smooth consistency.

6 ripe tomatoes (it is ok if they are a little too ripe)
1/2 an English cucumber
2 or 3 slices of stale bread
4 cloves of garlic micro planed
1/2 cup of Spanish olive oil
1/4 cup of sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of Spanish pimenton (paprika)
Salt and pepper to taste
Watercress and edible flowers to garnish


1. Preheat the oven to 400 F, and boil a pot of water big enough to hold the tomatoes
2. Score the tomatoes on the bottom with a sharp knife, making an X, be careful
3. Dip the tomatoes in the boiling water for 30 seconds or until the skins loosen
4. Let cool on the cutting board, while you prepare the rest of the ingredients
5. Dice the cucumber and bread and place in the blender
6. Micro plane the garlic straight into the blender
7. Add the rest of the ingredients save the tomatoes
8. Peel the skins off the tomatoes and place on parchment paper lined baking sheet in the hot oven
9. Halve the tomatoes and gently squeeze the excess water and seeds into a bowl (reserve for Pan con Tomate recipe next)
10. Pop the skinned and seeded tomatoes in the blender and blitz until smooth, add water or tomato juice if necessary
11. Remove the crispy tomato peels from the oven after about 10 minutes or when they are crispy but before they are burned. And garnish the soup with crispy peels, edible flowers and fresh watercress.

Serve and enjoy! I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does. And, I hope it offers respite from the summer heat and a wonderful use for all those garden tomatoes.

As always, much love, many blessings, and happy eating...

Pan con Tomate

So, no Spanish table is complete without good red wine and Pan con Tomate. This is so easy, it is not nearly a recipe, more of instructions, for an easy and tasty Spanish take on Bruscetta. Which I am willing to bet both Spainards and Italians would be happy to eat either rendition.

crusty bread of
any kind quality extra virgin olive oil
tomato or the reserved tomato seeds and water from the gazpacho recipe
clove of garlic

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
2. Slice your bread in half and drizzle with olive oil
3. Toast open faced in your oven until just golden
4. Cut the tomato and the garlic in half so you have good sized chunks
5. Take the bread out of the oven and while still hot rub the cut side of the garlic on the bread
6. Rub the cut side of the tomato on the bread or smear the reserved tomato guts from the last recipe
7. Eat, greedily with good Spanish Wine and someone you love

Buen provecho! As always, much love, many blessings, and happy eating...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Garden Strawberries, Organic Yogurt, and Muesli

I have been making granola for years. There are some delicious recipes out there. But I have always wanted to try muesli and see what was different and if it was better. So, I did, I bought a box. Tried one of the recipes of leaving it in the yogurt overnight (you can do this with milk too) and then eating it in the morning with some fresh strawberries. Muesli is delicious and so easy, instructions below, no baking! Not that I am against baking, but please I have 10 month old, anything I can do easier, I'm in. For this recipe of yogurt soaked muesli, if you forget to do it the night before, you can eat it straight out, it just is a little more crunchy. I bet this is delicious warmed with milk in the winter... Ingredients 1/2 cup muesli (recipe follows) 1/2 cup yogurt your choice (i love organic, plain, whole milk of any persuasion) 1/2 cup of fruit (washed and cut up) Method: 1. mix the muesli and yogurt together, leave in the fridge overnight 2. top with fruit and enjoy Muesli Ingredients 4 1/2 cups rolled oats 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ 1/2 cup wheat bran 1/2 cup oat bran 1 cup sultanas (golden raisins, a personal favorite use any dried fruit you like) 1/2 cup chopped brazilian nuts (also personal choice) 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds Methods: 1. mix all of the ingriedents 2. store in air tight container away from sun and heat and enjoy for up to a month As always, much love, many blessings, and happy mixing...