Friday, June 20, 2014

Ina's Herbed Potato Salad with a side of peonies

 I know we all have our go-to, favorite recipes and this is one of mine. Summer is here (-ish, we still do live in San Francisco) and I'm dreaming of outdoor grilling on warm nights. To keep my delusion of summer alive I made a simple summer meal of "barbecue" chicken, herb potato salad and jalapeno cole slaw. I have been making this potato salad of Ina Garten's for years and I just keep coming back to it. It is a simple and refreshing version, herbaceous and not mayonnaise-y (for those of you who have mayonnaise-haters in your life as well).
To make Ina's potato salad: Place 3 pounds small boiling or fingerling potatoes in a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Let simmer for 10-15 mins, drain and then let sit in the colander covered by a dish towel until you are ready for 'em. For the vinaigrette: whisk together 2 tablespoons each white wine, chicken stock, and lemon juice. Add in a clove or two minced garlic (I go for one), a healthy 1/2 teaspoon dijon, 2 teaspoons salt and a generous dusting of pepper. Then slowly whisk in 1/2-2/3 cup olive oil.
   Once the potatoes have cooled a bit cut them in halves or quarters. Add the dressing and toss to combine. For the last step add fresh herbs. Ina adds in a diced red onion and tarragon. I skip the onion and usually add in some chopped cilantro, basil, parsley and/or chives (basically, whatever I have on hand and sounds good).

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Spring Panzanella

Many of my meals start out the same way as my outfits, I'm in the mood for one piece and then build the rest around it. In this case, I was given a beautiful loaf of sourdough bread that I knew I couldn't eat my way through while it was still fresh. So I decided to go with it and make some beautiful croutons with the leftovers and from there, my panzanella was born. 

I have a borderline unhealthy addiction to English peas, they are my go to afternoon snack right now and there is something cathartic for me about shelling them. 

Anyways, to make the panzanella, I tossed together English peas, some blanched asparagus, shredded kale, arugula and lemon zest. For the dressing I did a quick vinaigrette with a teensy bit of orange muscat vinegar, spring garlic, lemon juice and olive oil (salt and pepper to taste) and drizzled it over the salad (sometimes I add chili flakes when I'm in the mood.  To finish I tossed in my croutons and topped it off with a six-minute egg.  We devoured it.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I have never been a soup person, that being said, yummm tortilla soup. We are having a little false summer here (I know, we jumped from polar vortex to mini-heat wave) and I am starting to break out, tentatively, the rose, strawberries, and avocados (it's still a little early for fresh tomatoes). I will try to post something springy next, but in the meantime, enjoy some tortilla soup.
 I easily ignored the urge to make my own tortilla strips and happily reached for my always-on-hand bag of Have'a Corn Chips.To begin saute 1 chopped onion until it starts to get a little yummy and brown. Add in 4-6 cloves of smashed garlic along with 1 tablespoon each, paprika and cumin, 1 heaping teaspoon coriander and chili powder and a healthy dash of cayenne. Let the flavors marry for a few minutes before adding in a quart of chicken stock and one 28-oz can of tomatoes. Add a cup and a half of extra liquid whether you choose water (I often do), extra stock or a can of beer - it's up to you. Toss in a couple of bay leaves, a couple teaspoons of salt, a half bunch of roughly chopped cilantro, and a couple handfuls of slightly crumbled tortilla chips. Let the mixture simmer for about 45 minutes.
 Meanwhile, you can be working on your chicken. I used a half chicken but go with what suits you. I just did a super simple preparation for the chick-a-dee - season the meat with salt and pepper, sear in a cast iron skillet until skin is golden and then pop into a 450 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until cooked through. Once the soup mixture is done cooking, puree and serve. I like to put the shredded chicken on the bottom of the bowl and pour the soup over it - topping it off with some shredded cheddar, fresh cilantro, chopped avocado. I also like to eat the crispy chicken skin while i shred the meat. 

This recipe was inspired by the tortilla soup recipe from Food & Wine Magazine

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Autumn in Canada and a Cold-Weather Stew

The view from the top of Montmorency Falls, just outside of Quebec City
As the rest of the US continues to suffer through it's long winter I thought I would commiserate with a nice cozy-weather dish, inspired by Bon Appetit. I saw their recipe for Indian-Spiced Chicken and made a few tweaks here and there to make it my own.
The daunting staircase to walk up to the top of the falls
I began with a whole chicken and broke it down into parts and then proceeded to brown the chicken in a little vegetable oil. Once browned, set aside. Then in the same lovely pot add 1 diced onion, 4 cloves minced garlic and a thumb-sized piece of ginger, minced, and saute until your onion is soft and golden. Next add in 2 heaping tablespoons tomato paste and 2 teaspoons each of garam masala, cumin, turmeric, 1 teaspoon coriander and a hefty dash of cayenne, depending on how spicy you like it, and let all that marry for about 5 minutes.  
 Add in 8 cups chicken broth, 1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes, 1/2 cup cream, chicken and a bunch of carrots (roughly chopped if you please). Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover partially and reduce to a simmer, cooking for about 2 hours. Add 1 pound of sliced yukon gold potatoes and continue cooking for another 45 minutes until the taters are cooked through. I served over a bed of rice with a hefty dollop of yogurt and some fresh cilantro.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sticky Toffee Pudding - a Rainy Celebration

While half of the country has been swept up by the vortex, we have been sweltering (not quite) here in drought-ridden California. This past weekend we finally got a reprieve and had four glorious days of rain, which to me means that I can hunker down and get cozy and just eat, read and nap all weekend long - which I did.

When I lived in London, I had a deep and abiding romance with sticky toffee pudding and since leaving I must admit, I have felt a void. This weekend I decided to take matters into my own hands and make it myself. I immediately googled British recipes looking for the "best" sticky toffee pudding. After perusing for a while I realized I did not have the will to get the traditional ingredients (i.e. golden syrup, turbinado sugar, etc). So instead, I opted for an Americanized recipe that I found from Bon Appetit.

The pudding was DELICIOUS and tasted just like the versions I had abroad - I know that traditionalists will balk, but this was gooood. To make: Combine 1 1/2 cups dates and 1 1/4 cups water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat and add 1 teaspoon baking soda. Set aside to cool. Sift together 1 1/2 cups AP flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Then in a large bowl beat 1/2 stick butter, 1 cup white sugar and 1 teasoon vanilla extract until just combined . Beat in 1 egg. Then add in 1/3 of your flour mixture and then stir in 1/2 of the date mixture, alternating until both are incorporated. Beat in the final egg. Pour the mixture into a buttered and floured pan - the official recipe calls for a bundt pan, I did mine in a pie pan or you could do smaller individual puddings in ramekins - up to you.
Now, this part is key, the hard sauce. In a saucepan combine 1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar, 1/2 cup cream and 1/2 stick butter and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Continue boiling and stirring for 3 minutes then remove from heat and stir in a smidge of vanilla extract and brandy (I used calvados). The pudding is best served warm, drizzled (or drenched) with hard sauce and a dollop of clotted cream (go big).