Sunday, June 29, 2008

Daring to Bake but No Time

Apricot Ginger Brioche

While I really wanted to do the challenge and planned to make a sweet (raspberries and cream) and savory (malaysian curry chicken) braid, family problems kept me out of the game. But, i still have it on my plans for the holiday weekend, by which point every person who reads food blogs will be fed up by braids. Alas.

Anyway, instead, I will post some apricot, ginger brioche with ginger spiced chai. Not quite as sweet, but maybe with braids in your head, you might like a diversion.

For at least 999 braids, go to the Daring Baker Blogroll.

Apricot Ginger Brioche

Icebox Experiment: Mango, Cream Cheese and Basil Brioche Pockets


Recently, I had left over brioche dough. The picture above is the predecessor to the Mango, Cream Cheese and Basil Brioche Pockets. Those were so good, we ate them straight out the oven.
But, here is how it went. Susan from Wild Yeast posted a lovely peach brioche tart in honor of Bri from Figs with Bri. I employed Susan's brioche recipe to make some rolls. With the leftover brioche dough, I turned to my pantry. Quickly, I knew that I wanted to sweet pocket; a sort of tea party food. The flow of mango has slowed slightly, but we still seem to have more. I tossed into my pocket some cream cheese with basil and topped it with mango. Then I set the brioche to have one last rise.

In that last rise, the miracle of the yeast seemed to happen in unheard proportions. Either it was a really warm day or we actually make bread correctly. But, the resulting pocket looked slightly unseemly in its overachiever's volume.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

RFJ: Apricot Ginger Pulled Pork on Pepita-spiked Brioche Rolls

Until I entered the Royal Foodie Joust, I was fairly confident it was some sort of historical anachronism society focusing on edibles. No doubt that society exists, but it ain't the RFJ. Those folks, or perhaps I should say we, make up recipes once a month based on ingredients chosen by the previous month's winner. Last month, the winner was Skinny Gourmet and she chose seriously wonderful ingredients--apricots, butter and ginger. These ingredients were not only seasonal but also edging on decadent.

I had a bazillion ideas--yes, that many and as a result we have been eating apricot food for the last ten days.

The ones we have made were:
Cornish hen, Apricot, and Goat Cheese Empanadas with a Duo of Apricot Salsas
Broiled Apricot, Ginger and Manchego Cheese Tapas
Apricot, Blackberry and Ginger Pasta Pudding
Apricot and Candied Ginger Brioche with Ginger Spiced Chai

In addition, we had dreams of making:
Lamb and Apricot Bistilla (oh, I adore phyillo)
Ginger Donuts with Apricot Filling and Browned Butter Glaze (Update: There is a wonderful donut entered this month)
Apricot and Ginger Mimosas with Beurre de Reims (a la Rose de Reims)

(Will those dream come true? Some day, no doubt.)

But, which shall I enter in RFJ? Well, none of them. We decided to go low/ high again this month with: Apricot Ginger Pulled Pork on Pepita-spiked Brioche Rolls. We paired this with butter-sauteed pumpkin seeds and microwave potato chips tossed in sea salt and chili powder.

We ate it while we packed to go out of town, but really it deserved to be a centerpiece at a barbeque.

Apricot Ginger Pulled Pork

The night before, marinate pork shoulder with:
6 oz apricot juice
2 T hungarian green peppers diced
3 T ginger
the top of a bulb of fennel
6 oz chicken stock
3 oz rice wine vinegar

The next day, cover the meat with ginger ale and sliced apricots. Slow roast the meat at 250 degrees for 4 hours or so.

Combine the marinade with 1/4 cup soy sauce, 2 T catsup. Cook until 1/2 its original volume.

When meat seems to pull apart, remove from oven and let rest. Combine juices, apricots, etc with incipient barbeque sauce. Blend with an immersion blender.

Warm the pulled meat in the barbeque sauce and let rest while you make the slaw.

Apricot-Ginger Cole Slaw
julienned purple cabbage, jicama, underripe apricots, hungarian sweet peppers, and a bit of scotch bonnet if you swing that way. (We did.)

Dress with:
finely minced ginger, rice wine vinegar and grapeseed oil.

Pepita-spiked Brioche Rolls
The night before, make up your brioche. For the ingredients, I followed Wild Yeast's recipe.

The next morning, turn out onto a floured surface and rest dough for 1 hour.
Shape the dough and add pepita (pumpkin seed) sliver into the top of the dough.

Let rise for 1 hour. After giving the rolls an egg wash, bake 20 minutes. (Butter in heaven.)

The B-Team: Apricot and Ginger Manchego

So, then there are the rejects for the Royal Foodie Joust. Too cold, too old, too dry, well, they were none of these. Basically, why did they not make the cut? We are a capricious bunch perhaps, or more, likely, because we made them too early in the month. Frankly, if I had but a few more days, my entry really would have been lamb and apricot bistilla. But, I will make that this week; I will.

Anyway, lets pull those misfits back out of the closet. First up, Apricot and Ginger Manchego Tapas. This was a breeze and worked wonderfully with beer or a Portuguese Green. The process was simple. Stew apricots in ginger and a Spanish or Portuguese white until tender. Top a piece of bread that has been buttered and then toasted on a griddle. Cover with thinly sliced manchego and broil ever so slightly. Top with agave nectar or honey. Why did this dish not go to the RFJ party? Well, it was nice, but just that--nice. If you hung out with this girl in high school, you would remember how funny she was but not the color of her eyes.

The B-Team: Apricot and Blackberry Pasta Pudding

and, for b-team 2 from my june royal foodie joust entry, on to that weird kid at the junior high dance. not the kid who smelled funny, but the kid whose outlook on life was just off the norm. of course, counting myself as that person, i think of this as a sort of compliment.

we love rice pudding here, so i decided pasta pudding must be just as delicious. this discussion brought serious consternation to maybelle's dad, the strong but silent better half of this blog. i have done absolutely no research to back up my belief in pasta pudding. but as is true of most marital arguments, conviction is 90 percent of victory.

we still had some fusili around. i browned the pasta in butter until just colored and then boiled it. i combined it with fruit, candied ginger (diced finely), heavy whipping cream, sugar and sabayon. and, baked the whole lot.

as it cooled on the counter, i added add a bit more cane sugar. and, then i allowed the scent, dare i say it, aroma, waft towards the italian-american one in the marriage.

this was really good. like that weird kid at the party, i think this is a little hard to sell to a wide audience, but it is true quality. and, i am sending this pasta dessert Waiter there's something in my... berries roundup at Cook sister!.

The B-Team: Cornish hen, Apricot, and Goat Cheese Empanadas with a Duo of Apricot Salsas

On to the captain of the B-Team, that nice guy with a little bit of chip on his shoulder because he never made it to varsity. (I think this high school analogy device is wearing thin.) While we both enjoyed this recipe, it seemed slightly contrived and a little over the top.
We had hoped for quail, but we had none and couldn't find any. We stewed cornish game instead (this would have been nice with goose), with caramelized onions, dried apricots and a Spanish white. In a separate dish, we made a fried rice using ghee, cloves and ginger. Both were placed in empanadas with slices of egg or alternately green olive and goat cheese. The two salsas were ginger, sweet pepper, and apricot (1) and then stewed apricots, scotch bonnets and wine (2).

Mini Kumquat-Blackberry Pies

Recently, having made a couple pies, I had left over crust. I am fairly convinced that pie is the most noble use for nearly-spoilt fruit. So, altruistic chef as I am, I decided to turn some pre-moldy blackberries into pies. Rather than large pies, I went mini, because that is who I am.

I diced up a couple handfuls of blackberries, combined them with kumquat/ star anise marmalade in a 2-1 ratio. To the combo, I added a smidge amount of Thai basil, darmera sugar and flour.

To make tiny pies, cut your dough in half. You will need a mini-muffin tin to hold your little pies. Find a glass, cup or cookie cutter which will create rounds of dough that are slightly larger than the muffin tins circumference at its widest point. Fill your pies and top with more crust. I really enjoy doing lattice tops. Recently Zoe Bakes had a great how to on large lattice pies, and you can try the same technique with these. For mini pies, I usually cut the strips and attach them to the pie in one orientation and then weave in the weft. When my knuckles finally revolt from weaving too many mini-pies, I chop up the dough into a fine crumble, toss it with darmera sugar and top the last of the pies.

Serve these mini-pies with a very spicy chai or eat a handful of them for breakfast. (Who the heck would know?)

For a round-up of recipes that employ herbs from this week, join me for Weekend Herb Blogging, run this week by the amazing Kalyn from Kalyn's KitchenBlackberry mini pies


Mango Madeleines (Click for Bri)

Kumquat Madeleine
I had sort of planned to post for the Click for Bri event and then, with the deadline pending, as we are having a sort of difficult weekend in the family, it felt even more necessary. A very positive event is happening for one woman, who most of us have never met, named Bri who writes Figs with Bri. Bri is fighting cancer and dozens/hundreds of people are helping to pay for her out of pocket costs.

For my entry, I knew I needed to include mangoes. My uncle, who lost his battle to brain cancer a few years ago, was not only a mango lover but a mango pusher; and we all loved him for it.

Mango Madeleines

Adapted from Cook and Eat's Persimmon Madeleines
Beat together:
2 eggs
3/8 cup sugar

3/8 cup mango preserves
1/2 t vanilla

Sift in:
1/2 cup plus 2 T and 2 t flour
1/2 t baking powder

Fold in
3 oz unsalted butter, melted and cooled

After 10 minutes, put into mini-madeleine molds or teaspoons. Less is more--do not over fill.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

good-bye aunt m

I have always had a soft-spot for a certain type of industrial food likely stemming from a childhood following my parents around at their hospital jobs. But, today, I have an odd craving for that fake soft-serve ice cream that is served by Aramark and its peers. That is because it makes me think of my husband's dear aunt M. There was once one wonderful lunch, when my husband and I sat with her for what seemed like forever, eating saw-dust ice cream from tiny spoons.

She passed away today. It makes me sad to write this, but I decided a year from now when I come this journal, I want to remember her, and even this day. She was an amazing woman who had been a nun for 77 years. She welcomed me into the family even though I was from another faith. She was intensely caring, loving and interested. She was a woman who received letters from students who she had taught 50 years ago. Imagine how much they must have loved her--I know, because our family did. While it is sad to think that she is not here now...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Icebox Experiment: Junk Pie (Fruit Pie with Ginger and Balsamic Vinegar)

What is the history of pie? There is likely a website, a public television special, a quasi-historical non-fiction book, and a play that all deal with the topic. But, it is my guess, that fruit pie was way to put a positive spin on pre-rotting food. No wait, it gets better.

The other day, I had some strawberries, apples, and nectarines that were one-day past gorgeous. In other words, they were tasty but bruised. So, they became pie; elevated resting place for the senior fruit.

With my mind focused on work, crazed dare I say, I decided to go experimental with the filling. To the fruit, I added ginger and balsamic vinegar. While the pie could have been juicer, this flavor combos seemed to be a hit at work; the pie didn't last too long.

Tomatar Rice

Ages ago Mango Power Girl posted her recipe for Spinach Rice, and it made me think I should keep track of some of my veg rice recipes.

Belle has grown into a rice lover and so I try to make rice a value-added proposition. We often toss cooked brown (or white) rice with vegetables, most often eggplant or tomato. For the eggplant, I sautee diced veg, add veg stock or water, mint, cinnamon, and rice. For the tomato, I caramelize a bit of tomato paste and mustard seeds, add rice, water, tomatoes, curry leaves, lemon juice and sprouts. These are both delicious and easy. Paired ith some curry lentils; dinner is done in 20 minutes.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Rosewater Kulfi with Cherry Juice Steeped Noodles

The sippy cup has often left me in wonder. I am not quite sure when they arrived on the parenting scene. Suffice it to say, when my bottle habit (the childhood kind) was broken, through garden-variety parental lies and deceit, I drank from cup or more accurately dribbled liquids. I now know that strange thing of parenthood, when your child experiences something you don't know and can't understand.

Belle loves her sippy. After a great game of chasing the dog (great for half of the players), she grabs her sippy off the table and takes deep, purposeful chugs. The sippy seems to satiate her physically and emotionally. But, recently she had a sick throat and couldn't swallow from a sippy. I tried to get her to drink milk from a cup. But, she kept pointing to her sippy. I couldn't figure out how to comfort her; to explain to her that she would be able to use her sippy again soon.

So, I thought ice cream would be comforting. Women with sick babies have no time to churn; and I am not that lady with the drum from the ice cream maker in the freezer. So, I decided to go the easy way and make kulfi, unchurned Indian ice cream. In other words, there is no real work. This is made with equal parts of condensed milk and almond milk, 2 cardamom pods, a sprinkle of rose water, and some saffron if you choose. Mix everything and freeze.

I placed these little dollops of sweetness (of course I made them mini), atop rose water and cherry juice steeped noodles. This sounds fancy but is not. Add pre-cooked rice noodles or uncooked cellophane noodles to very warm but not boiling flavoring liquid (jasmine tea, strongly flavored juice) and let stand at least 15 minutes. Eh, voila, your noodles should turn a pale color. Grape juice and pomegranate juice work best to color.

As there are noodles involved, I thought I would send this off to Pasta Presto hosted Hillary of Chew on That and started by Ruth of Once Upon a Feast.

Saffron Pista Kulfi

Vegan Mango Pancakes with Shrikhand-style Topping

My mother's full-time job never fit into a 9-5 time-frame but somehow she managed to make us dinner every night. Like many new moms, all of a sudden I have gained more respect for my mom. So, last mother's day, I made her mango pancakes with shrikand topping. The idea came from Mango Power Girl's mango shrikhand.

While tasty, there are many caveats to these recipes. While I generally think you should not follow a recipe, with this one, make sure to take heed:

  • Shrikand is a wonderful, and calcium-rich, Indian yoghurt dessert. The best shrikhand is lick-the-spoon thick. This "shrikhand" is much thinner than its true self.

  • Soy yoghurt while yummy does have an aftertaste that I don't love. So, I made the topping with regular yogurt. But, you can use vegan yoghurt. (We are not vegans; but I love vegan baking and cooking for the health, financial and environmental benefits. And, frankly, vegan recipes are often way easier than their regular counterparts. No creaming, whipping, separating.)

  • These pancakes seem to have structural issues so make them silver dollar sized. Don't get over zealous unless you are a masterful flipper.

Vegan Mango Pancakes with Vegan Shrikhand-style Topping

Vegan Mango Pancakes
Mix the following:
1 cup wheat flour
1 T +1 t baking power
1/8 t baking soda
1 pinch (1/8 t) salt
1 T sugar
1 cup unflavored organic soy milk
1 T olive oil

On an oiled cast-iron skillet, place 4--5 pieces of diced mango. Brown for a few minute.

Add a few tablespoons of pancake batter. Brown and flip.

Shrikhand-style topping
3 T yoghurt
1 t rose water
2-3 t crushed pistachios
1 t cardamom
1-3 pieces of saffron steeped in 2 T warm soy milk
2 t sugar


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Mango Feta Salad (When will I leave the Poor Fruit Alone?)

mango feta salad
I love pushing fruit to the limit. Cooking a strawberry, kimchi-ing rhubarb, grilling an apricot--I am guilty of all these things. And, I am an unrepentent practioner of the savory fruit arts. Of course, the misses can be terrible; so much of the commercial raspberry vinaigrettes are criminally cloying. But, of the sucesses, there is a certain elegance born of the counterpoints that are possible in savory fruit dishes. I am trying to pack and prepare for a business trip, but I wanted to post my new power snack--Mango Feta Salad (sliced mango, basil, feta, olive oil, black pepper and sea salt.) Making it took less time than typing up this post.

And, while I am away, we will be in the final days of the Italy Food Lovers event. I am in a close race with another very nice recipe. If you are interested in my Ramp Gnocchi, vote for me.

(To do so, click on the Ramp Gnocchi, at the bottom of the entry there are pictures of flames, click on the one that is furthest right.)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Icebox Experiment: Strawberry Pizza

Strawberry Pizza
I like to support my fellow Cleveland bloggers; we are a cool bunch, I promise you. Cooking in Cleveland has an event called Strawberry Moon.

Previously on blog, I had a feature that I used to do call Icebox Experiments, wherein I use the contents of my fridge to create some sort of meal. These are different from other types of cooking experiences when I plan what I cook and shop for those specific ingredients. I did have strawberries in my fridge, but a variety of extras with which I decided to make an extreme pizza. By extreme, I mean--strawberry pizza--not dessert pizza, but dinner pizza.

The dish was simple: carmelized onions, parmesan, mozzarella and roasted cherry tomatoes on a pizza. Then, the dish is topped with sliced strawberries, marinated in balsamic vinegar and grapeseed oil, and fresh mozzarella. It is then given a blast in the broiler. Finally, the slightly cooled pizza was topped with basil, parsley, and a little more sliced strawberry.

While there was some amount of consternation at the onset of this adventure, all constituencies gave heartfelt appreciation for this pizza. I would almost say that strawberries on pizza is not any crazier than adding that other fruit, tomato. Strawberry Pizza

English Peas, Fava Beans and Fresh Ricotta Macaroni


The crime of overcooking spring peas should be punishable by, well, eating those mushy grey suckers or maybe a special place in overcooked pasta hell. (The 12th century Japanese mind created fascinating depictions of the various levels of Hell, like Dante but with more roosters; and I can only imagine the hell for bad cooks would have soggy spaghetti.)

But, this dish is divinely easy and tasty. Boil small pasta (we used macaroni). Shell young fava beans and add them to the salted pasta water. Drain the fava beans and pasta. Toss with freshly shelled peas and cover. After a few minutes, toss in ricotta, grapeseed oil, mint, cracked pepper, and salt.

This was so easy and good--and Belle loved its faint, natural sweetness. Its awful simplicity makes it perfect for Pasta Presto Nights run by Ruth at Once Upon a Feast.

Asparagus Pasta Carbonara

My one time Taste and Create Partner Rossella made a lovely asparagus carbonara for the Osteoporosis event from Food Blogga. In her post, she quite rightly made the point that foods that prevent osteoporosis are delightful to eat. Her carbonara is quite easy to make especially if you have everything on hand as we did recently. I changed one element of the recipe. I pureed a little aspargus and whisked it with an egg yolk (which I had lying around from an asparagus souffle). The richness of carbonara can be off-putting but the addition of aspargus really makes this a wonderful dish.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

French Lentil Salad with Roasted Garlic Lavender Vinaigrette

The smell of salt water minges with the scent of the freshly cut lavender decorating the table. I went in and out of attempting to eavesdrop on the French being spoken at the tables beside me, but resigned myself to savory my wine. Earlier today, I ate three slices of carmelized onion pizza; proof that Italy doesn't stop at the border (or that the French originated pizza)

Have you clicked over to check my profile yet? Yes, I am in Ohio, but this afternoon I was exhausted from a morning of arts hijinks. I came home to eat and relax. I wanted something satisfying yet elevated. We had wandered through the garden on the way in and somehow I decided to try to cook with our lavender. Certain herbs verge on the medicinal for my tastebuds, chiefly rosemary and lavender, but it really looked good to me. The result was surprisingly good and not overly floral.

I am also sending this on to No Croutons Required run by Lisa's Kitchen and Tinned Tomatoes. The theme this month is legume salads.

French Lentil Salad with Roasted Garlic Lavendar Vinaigrette

In a grill pan or in the oven, roast 4 cloves of garlic until softened.

Boil 2 cups French Lentils

While the lentils are boiling, grill:
5 pieces of asparagus
1 head of radicchio

grilled vegetables (though reserve the outer leaves of the radicchio as a serving vessel if desired)
4 small french radishes
1 small carrot
4-5 cherry tomatoes
small handful of parsley

Create the vinaigrette. Mash the roasted garlic. Add:
a pinch of kosher salt
1/2 t honey mustard
3-4 T cider vinegar
1-2 leaves lavender

Whisk in olive oil until a suspension is created.

Drain lentils, add to vinaigrette, toss in diced veg, add a handful of buccatini, and 1-2 fresh lavender flower roughly chopped. Add course sea salt or fleur de sel.

Pretend it is April...Ramp recipes

Close your eyes. Imagine the pollen filled, tree blooming days of April. Imagine there is still dirt under your nails as you have just reaturned from foraging for ramps in your friends yard....Alright, so mostly, I am just two month behind in posting recipes. But, I wanted to get these down for next year.
We ended up with lots of ramps; free ramps. We pickled, preserve, grilled, slivered, fried and sauteed those little guys. And, I posted some of the recipes. Here are some of the other ways we used them (and I would suggest trying many of them with fresh garlic.) What I would not suggest is to run out to Whole Foods and purchase 10 a pound ramps that are shipped in from Washington State. Silly!

Here are some other ways that we used our ramps, but that I couldn't write about.

Fresh ramps:
In a gazpacho with grapes

Pickled ramps:
in Sambar instead of pearl onions
while standing in the pantry
on a cheddar cheese sandwich

Grilled ramps:
on tostadas


Ramps and Mussel Risotto

Mussel, Ramp risotto finished with saffron, white wine and ramp vodka.

Ramp Vodka in Bloody Marys and in Pasta Sauce

Ramp vodka seems desperately cool foodie, but its simple brilliance is beyond fads. It is truly darn good. And, why? You can read my reasoning here or you can partake in one of these options.

Bloody Mary: Add some mince horseradish and pickled ramps to tomato juice and ramp vodka and top with a pickle ramp. (We used a tonic that one of the farmers market growers sells, pictured here.)

Tomato Cream Sauce: Where the recipe calls for vodka, substitute ramp vodka. It adds extra complexity to the dish.

Dirty martini: Instead of garlic-stuff olive, use ramp vodka; and expect very little problem with the opposite sex.

Persimmon and Ramp Kimchi Marinate Beef over Ramp Chap Chae


Orange Carrot Parathas

Gajar Halwa is generally relegated to dessert. When I read about the Cooking 4 All Seasons roti mela, I decided to make some special parathas. And, then I ran out of time to post them. Luckily Roti Mela has returned by popular demand (and the kindness of the hostess), so my Gajar Halwa Parathas have another chance to jump from Flickr to the big time of my blog.

The premise was simple. Mooli paratha was a favorite breakfast at my grandmother's house. Gajar Halwa was a favorite dessert. A little blending and I accomplished a nice sweet/savory dish.
The filling was shredded carrot, orange zest and the smidgest amount of cardamom. It was then pan fried as any paratha and then slathered in ghee. I then ate them with my spicy orange pickle, but it is an obsession these days.

Orange Carrot Parathas

Mix 1 cup of wheat flour with salt and water until it turns into a dough. Add water slowly.
Let rest while you make the filling.

While the dough rests, shred or grate 1 carrot. (I used 1/2 white carrot and 1/2 orange carrot)


1 t orange zest
1 t powdered ginger
1/2 t chili powder
1/2 t powdered cardamom

Roll the dough into 1 inch balls, add a dollop of filling and roll out.
Pan fry in ghee and top with more ghee and serve with pickle and yoghurt.


Friday, June 13, 2008

Basil Pie Parade continues: Apricot Custard Pie with Basil

What do you do with the extra yolks one commentor asked me recently? Hell if I know. Kidding. I freeze them or use them quickly. For example, I made a custard pie. I had lovely apricots at home and somehow decided to encase them in a lovely basil custard. Again, I was inspired by Susan from Wild Yeast to use basil with fruit.

One caution is that you must soak the apricots in sugar--otherwise they could be mouth-puckeringly sour. Other than that, this was a visually stunning dessert.
I made this a while ago so I don't have a true recipe, but I do have a plan (half the battle in cooking.) And, as this is different from Susan's (though clearly inspired), I felt it would be okay to I send this over to Weekend Herb Blogging run by Astrid of Paulchen's Kitchen and started by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen.

Apricot Custard Pie with Basil (inspired by Wild Yeast.)
Roll out a pate brisse and put it in a deep pie pan. Finish the edge as you wish and pucture the bottom.

Soak 1 lb apricots (halfed and depitted) in cool water. Drain, pat dry, and add sugar. Arrange in the pie shell.

In a medium sauce pan, heat:
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolk
1-1/4 cups heavy cream
2 leafs of basil

Let cream cool. Add:
3 teaspoons cornstarch

Pour over the apricots and bake at 350 for 35 minutes, tent with foil, and bake at least 15 more minutes or until set. (Think pumpkin pie consistency.)

Basil Apple Rhubarb Pie

Ages ago, Susan from Wild Yeast made a Rhubarb Kumquat Gallette with Basil for Weekend Herb Blogging. Classy fruit pie, I say. And, I am nothing if not classy.

For my pie, I was feeling like an over achiever and decided to roll out both a top and a bottom pie crust. I made a basil simple syrup to add to my fruit (apples from the farmers market and rhubarb) and also added basil to the crust. Basil with fruit was a revelation to me and since then I have made two more fruit and basil pies--but, I really think the rhubarb and basil was the best combo. It struck me as being the sort of thing an Vietnamese-American family might eat at July Fourth--sort of Asian and sort of American. This was delicious when topped with condensed milk (yes, I still have too much in the pantry.)
I made this a while ago so I don't have a true recipe, but I do have a plan (half the battle in cooking.)

Basil Apple Rhubarb Pie (Inspired by Wild Yeast)

  1. Make one recipe of Pate Brisee. Chill and then roll out. In the process of rolling it out, add couple teaspoons of shreds of fresh basil.
  2. Create a simple syrup and add 1 leaf basil. Cool syrup and then add to sliced apples and rhubarb (2-1 proportion.) Add 1-2 T flour, nutmeg, chinese 5 spice and 1 more leaf basil cut into strips.
  3. Brush with an egg wash and then bake at 350 for 45 minutes
  4. Serve with condensed milk.


Taste and Create: Pastitsio with Swiss Chard, Dandelions and Nettles

The heat has finally subsided. That is to say, now it is just hot rather than cook you in your skin hot. Exhausted from work and life, last night I really wanted a warm, cheesy satisfying dinner in hopes that the fat and mouth-feel would elevate me.

And, Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska hooked me up. Laurie is my Taste and Create partner this month. I really think Laurie has a knack of making Greek food look lovely. Home food can be hard to present photographically. Tasty and pretty are not mutually exclusive (obviously) and Laurie is good at that intersection.

But, I so digress from dinner last night. We had almost everything we need for her Pastitsio in the fridge. A quick trip to pick up kasseri, a Greek melting cheese, and we were ready. Her recipe gave some latitude in the greens we could use. When I was reading her blog, I had this funny revelation. While India doesn’t seem exotic (much of family still lives there), Alaska sure does. Devil’s Club, Firesweed Shoots…Alaska just seems amazing. We made her Pastitisio using Swiss chard, dandelions and nettles to stay in her local greens spirit. We also used macaroni instead of penne, because Belle has serious opinions about pasta shapes. (Toddlers are sure idiosyncratic about food.)

The result was actually surprising—it was much lighter than I expected. Somehow I pictured down-home mac and cheese gone Amy Sedaris. But, it ended up being much more complex. The cheese was in the background with the greens as the star of the dish. This is definitely a recipe that we will eat again.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Cleveland Cupcake Project

I decided to do the Cleveland Cupcake Project for selfish reasons--I wanted to eat lots of cupcakes. But, as with all selfish plans, there are side-effects. I hadn't realized that it would make me feel a little bad to announce winners. Why? Because, I enjoyed all the cupcakes I ate.
But, my opinion didn't matter--it was the voters.

The prizes were two-fold. First for that delish local bakery...

And, so, imagine a drumroll,
anticipate heavily,
and the winner for best cupcake in Cleveland....

Main Street Cupcakes in Hudson

This great bakery specializes in cupcakes. And, all that singleminded-ness clearly paid off. To quote one brilliant voter, "MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM"

Other votes came in for White Flour Bakery, Wild Flower Bakery, Appetite, Casa Dolce, Hough Bakery (RIP), Nature's Bin, Cleveland Cupcake Company, Grandma Freda’s Fresh Bake, Great Scotts Bakery

Most of my votes came by email from non-bloggers.

But, those bloggers that participated are clearly amazing. They include:
i heart cleveland (first to submit, yeah!)
Fun Playing with Food
Heights Eats
Cleveland Bachelor

I promised an award for the best blog entry, but really they were all interesting in their own way. So expect an email from me to get an address for your handmade prize. (If somehow, I missed your entry, email me at
Finally, I want to thank Cleveland Epicure, Eating Cleveland, Cupcakes Take the Cake for their plugs of the event. Next year, it will be bigger (smaller?) and sweeter. Promise. Thanks to all!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"Puerto Rican" Eggplant Kimchi


According to the very relgious and the media, the world is ending. And near the end, I will be in my pantry eating kimchi out of jars--in part because kimchi is delicious and in part because I can't stop making it. I started with ramp kimchi. (Why not start boutique?) And, then there was the pea shoot kimchi (not as yummy.) And, then I came upon "Puerto Rican" Eggplant. Why quotation marks you ask? While I admit there are always chinks in my grammar, these quotation marks are so that I don't get slammed with flamming comments about my cultural insensitivity to the actual homeland of my striped green pretties. My grocery store told me they were from the warm land of J.Lo and the Internet did not disagree and I always agree with the Internet....
Eggplant Kimchi
So, I purchased way too many and then left them in my fridge. Many types of produce were consumed in their stead, and then finally I could not wait much longer. Would these be seedy like Thai eggplant? Would these be bitter like grocery store eggplants? I wasn't sure, but I figured kimchi would solve all and any problems. (Kimchi is a miracle.) They turned out to have a fairly thick skinned, mild flavorer with few seeds. And, they were lovely when kimchied up.