Friday, September 28, 2012

End of Summer Tomato Salad

Portland tends to get late summers, where they don't really start until after the 4th of July, but then they last through September.  In a last gasp of summer, I made one of my last tomato bread salads and drank a grapefruit Stiegl Radler the other day, and it was perfect.

This one had some homemade croutons, blanched green beans, hard boiled egg for protein, fresh corn, and of course tomatoes from the back yard.  For the method, as it is, and vinaigrette recipe, see here, although these pictures are prettier.  This is highly adaptable though, so you can always just throw together whatever you have.

A word or two on the Stiegl Radler.  I got it at my lovely local wine shop, although I believe I cleared them out of the last of their stock.  It's pretty well a summer drink anyway though, so I highly recommend it for next summer.  It's a shandy, so part beer part juice (in this case grapefruit, but I believe lemonade is the most traditional).  Mostly it is delicious.  It popped up in the Portland Bottle Shop's weekly newsletter and then in the July Bon Appetit as well, so I knew I had to try it.  Grab a bottle if you can still find it around, or it's always something to look forward to for next summer!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Clothing Swap Black & Gray

{Shirt: Nicolette, via Aggie at a clothing swap, Jeans: J. Crew; Flats: Target (old, similar here), Jewelry: Anne Klein, Fuchsia, BaubleBar}

In the move I went from a double closet down to a single closet, and so knew I was going to have to downsize.  It all took longer than expected, and so after purging and getting rid of half of my closet, I loaded up my car but didn't have time to make a Goodwill/Buffalo Exchange run before I was meant to meet some lady friends.  When they heard I had a car full of clothes I was trying to sell/donate, we decided it only made sense for them to shop through my closet and drink fancy champagne while I got to hold the baby.  It was so much fun, and I ended up with a shirt too!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Twin Shadow - Five Seconds

All my good new music come from Lauri!  I've been listening to Twin Shadow to get pumped up for moving and clearing out my old basement.  He's got kind of a cool 80s style thing going on, and some good up-beat boppy songs.  Reminds me a little of Swiss Lips.

Twin Shadow is the stage name of George Lewis, Jr.  His most recent album, Confess, came out on July 9th on 4AD.

This video is pretty great, but there's a weird talking intro, so if you just want to listen to the song, start it at 1:40.

Album cover via.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Lemongrass panna cotta with plum compote

I was invited to lovely dinner party this week where Suzie made her family's tomato soup, which incidentally was the most delicious thing ever.  I was asked to bring dessert, and decided I wanted to make lemongrass panna cotta, because I had lemongrass leftover from my FuBonn run.   I also had a bunch of plums from my produce box that needed to be used before they went bad and before the big move (to my sister's house).  Which is how I ended up with this apparently random flavor pairing, but which I thought sounded lovely.  It was Megan's idea to add ginger snaps (which I bought) to pull it all together, which was genius.

I adapted from a number of recipes, but there were a couple that were the most helpful.  This Kaffir-Lemongrass Panna Cotta recipe from Tasting Menu was the most helpful for technique.  I wasn't able to find sheet gelatin though, so I polled a bunch of other recipes to determine how much powdered gelatin to use.  And the plum compote was roughly inspired by the Rosewater Plum Compote recipe from 101 Cookbooks, although I reduced the sugar because I wanted it to be a little tart.

Lemongrass Panna Cotta with Plum Compote and Ginger Snaps
Serves 8

Panna Cotta:
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
zest of one lemon and one lime
2 stalks lemongrass, bruised and sliced thinly
3 cups cream, 1/2 cup held very cold
1 Tbsp. powdered gelatin (one envelope)

1 1/2 pounds plums
zest and juice of one lemon
1 tsp. powdered ginger
1/4 cup sugar

Put 1/2 cup of cream in the bowl you intend to whip it in, and place it in the fridge along with the whisk you intend to use.  Gather eight 6-oz ramekins or serving dishes.

Put the milk, sugar, lemon and lime zest, and lemongrass in a small sauce pan and heat over medium-low heat until just below boiling, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Remove from heat and steep for half an hour.

Strain the milk through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the solids, and return to sauce pan to rewarm the milk over medium-low heat.  Add the gelatin to the warm milk, and stir until completely dissolved.  Transfer milk to a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature for about an hour.

Meanwhile, make the compote.  Pit and chop the plums into roughly 1/2 inch pieces, and put in a wide, heavy-bottomed pot along with the sugar, lemon zest and juice, and powdered ginger.  Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat.  You want it to cook at a lazy boil for 20-25 minutes, so adjust heat as necessary.  Stir every so often and scrape the bottom to make sure the fruit doesn't burn.  The compote is ready once it has kind of all slumped together, but before the fruit is totally broken down.  Remove from the heat, spoon into jars, and store in the fridge until ready to use.  It will keep for about a week in the fridge.

When the milk/gelatin mixture is cool, begin whipping the 1/2 cup of cold cream.  Whip the cream gently, avoiding beating too much air into the cream.  You just want the cream to thicken until it kind of holds together, but before it will hold peaks.

Add the 2 1/2 cups of unwhipped cream to the milk/gelatin mixture with a whisk.  Add the thickened cream and fold in with a spatula until evenly combined.

Pour or spoon the panna cotta into the ramekins or serving dishes, and chill in the fridge overnight.

To serve, run a knife around the edge of the ramekin, invert a dessert plate on top of the ramekin, and then flip the whole thing over so the ramekin is upside down.  The panna cotta should slide out, but if it sticks, gently lift one side of the ramekin and use a knife to loosen the edge of the panna cotta from the ramekin or release the vacuum.  Spoon a couple of tablespoons of plum compote over the panna cotta and add ginger snaps.

Picture via Margaret's Instagram.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

David Byrne & St. Vincent - Who

This is maybe the best thing ever.  David Byrne and St. Vincent, a favorite, just released a collaboration album last week, called Love This Giant.  Brought to my attention by my lovely friend Lauri, source of so much good music, and Dooce.

This video is amazing.  The dancing is great.  The whole album is so so good.  Or as my friend Lauri says, very funky and weird, and an obvious favorite. They are also touring this fall.  You should go.

Image via.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Kohlrabi Salad

I went grocery shopping at the wonderful Asian market near my house in SE Portland (FuBonn) to get the necessary ingredients to make salad rolls for a Labor Day picnic (and sadly forgot to take pictures) and came home with a bunch of great produce, including kohlrabi.

So I did my favorite thing(s) with it, threw it in a peanut noodle salad (post to come) and made the Orangette Asian flavored Kohlrabi Salad.  It is delicious and crunchy and keeps well.  I didn't have any pea shoots, but I did have some leftover snow peas, so I sliced them on a diagonal to mimic the julienned kohlrabi and carrots and threw them in.

We usually have Sunday dinner each week at my parents house, but the weekend before last they had two parties to attend on Sunday and so my sister hosted  my two brothers and me.  We ate kale chips, (boys response, "Hey, these are actually good") roasted chicken and root vegetables, and the kohlrabi salad.  Who knew we could get our brothers to eat kohlrabi?

Kohlrabi Salad, from Orangette:

2 medium kohlrabi bulbs
1 large carrot, peeled
1 tsp. fennel seed
2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
2 cups snow peas (optional)

Trim any stems or leaves from the kohlrabi bulbs.  Using a sharp knife, peel/cut away the tough outer skin.  Then julienne the kohlrabi, using either a mandolin or said sharp knife.  Julienne the carrot and slice the snow peas.

In a small dry skillet, toast the fennel seeds over medium heat until they begin to brown slightly and smell toasty.  Transfer them to a mortar and pestle (or spice grinder if you have one), and grind them into a coarse powder.  (This is a good job for muscled younger brothers - if you have one, or two.)

In a small bowl or the bottom of your salad bowl, combine the fennel seeds, vinegar, salt, and pepper.  Stir in the olive and sesame oil with a fork.  Either pour over vegetables or add vegetables to salad bowl, and toss to coat.  Taste for seasoning (salt, pepper, vinegar, etc).

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fall Orange

{Tank: Forever 21 (old, similar here), Cardigan: Banana Republic (old, similar here), Trench: American Eagle (old, similar here), Capris: Gap (old, similar here), Heels: Urban Outfitters, Purse: H&M, Sunglasses: kate spade (old, similar here), Flower headband: Fuchsia}

Transitioning into fall with my favorite orange and lots of layers.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Apricot Tart

I made this tart over a month ago now for a girls dinner, and it was a huge hit - because it is delicious.  I wanted to make sure and get it up on the blog before all the apricots are gone, although maybe I'll just be making it next spring/summer.

The recipe is originally from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook, but I found it through Orangette.  As is always the case though, I tweaked it a little.  I didn't have quite enough apricots so I added one plum to the middle, which made it quite pretty.  My other tweak was a little more daring though.  I think I actually just lucked out on the crust, because I didn't have any all-purpose flour and so used whole wheat, which upon some subsequent internet research doesn't look like it always works out.  I think the general problem with substituting whole wheat for all-purpose flour is the crust drying out, so I was just really careful about that, and made sure I didn't overcook the crust.  That being said, maybe just use all-purpose flour unless you're in the mood for an adventure and your crust maybe  flopping.

Apricot Tart, from Orangette and The Zuni Cafe Cookbook:

4 Tbsp. ice water, plus more as needed
3.4 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or whole wheat, apparently)
1 Tbsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
9 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

About 1 lb. apricots
1/3 cup sugar (or to your sweetness preferences)
3 pinches of salt

In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine 4 Tbsp. ice water and the cider vinegar.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt.  Pulse to blend.  Add the butter, and pulse until there are no pieces of butter larger than pea-sized.  With the motor running, slowly add the water/vinegar mixture, processing just until clumps form.  The dough is sufficiently processed if it holds together after you squeeze a handful of dough.  If it seems a bit dry (or you're using whole wheat flour), add more ice water by the teaspoon, pulsing to incorporate.  (I added 2-3 more teaspoons to keep the whole wheat flour crust from drying out.)

Turn the dough out onto a clean countertop, and push it all together into a rough ball shape, and then flatten into a disk about 1 1/2 inches thick.  If the edges crack, just keep pinching them together.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, continuing to form it into the disk shape, and using the plastic wrap to work out any remaining cracks around the edges.  Refrigerate the wrapped dough for at least two hours.  (It can be kept in the fridge for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 1 month.  Thaw it in the fridge overnight before using.)

Once sufficiently chilled (or thawed), preheat the over to 375 F.  On a floured surface, roll out the dough  into a circle wide enough to fit a 9-inch (removable bottom) tart pan.  Transfer the dough to the pan in your preferred method (wound around your rolling pin or gently folded into quarters).  Ease the dough down into the corners of the pan and up the sides.  Trim the excess so the dough hangs about 1/2 inch beyond the pan and then fold the overhang back into the pan to reinforce the sides.  Put the dough into the freezer while you ready the fruit.

Quarter the apricots and remove the pits.  Toss in a bowl with the sugar and salt.  Remove the dough from the freezer and place the apricots (and/or plums) into the shell, cut side up and in whatever pretty pattern you like.  Scrape any remaining juices and sugar from your bowl over the top of the fruit.

Bake the tart until the crust is browned and the fruit is softened, about 45 minutes.  (NOTE: whole wheat flour burns more readily than all purpose, so if you're using whole wheat start checking at about 25 minutes.)

Serve with your dairy product of choice, ice cream or yogurt (particularly good for breakfast).

Monday, September 10, 2012

Polica - Wandering Star

While this is maybe a little late to the game for some of you, my darling friend just recommended Polica to me a month or two ago, and I've been really enjoying it since then.  Their first album came out back in February.

The Minneapolis-based band is a collaboration between Channy Leaneagh and Ryan Olson. They're touring a bit this fall on the east coast and Europe.  Also, this video is great.

Image via.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Summer Tweed

{Tank: J. Crew (old, similar here), Skirt: J. Crew (old, similar here and here), Sandals: Sam Edlman (old, similar here), Sunglasses: kate spade (old, similar here), Necklace: College of the Desert street fair}

Quick summer tweed outfit in the backyard.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Braised Romano Beans with Cherry Tomatoes

I got Romano beans in my produce box this week and didn't know what they were.  So much so that I tried to eat one raw, thinking it was an overgrown sugar snap pea, which was unsuccessful, and then tried to peel it and eat the beans inside raw, thinking it was maybe more like an English pea, which was also unsuccessful.

All of which led to me having a bad taste in my mouth and finally breaking down and checking on the Organics to you website to figure out what exactly it was so that I could find a recipe and make them more palatable.  According to Deb at Smitten Kitchen, " Sort of broad and longer than snap peas, they’re also tougher and require a longer cooking time. "

Ahem, no wonder they were rubbish raw.  While I chose not to make the Smitten Kitchen recipe, her post did lead me to this excellent post on The Wednesday Chef, which I did make, albeit with some substitutions, because I didn't want to go to the store.    

I've written it below how I made it (substituting chorizo for pancetta and adding a couple of sad zucchini that needed to be cooked), but I trust you could make it either way with good results.  Also, my pictures are terrible (those are orange cherry tomatoes, but I cooked them too long), so go look at the pretty picture over on The Wednesday Chef.

I had some for dinner and then a whole bowlful for lunch the next day, and it was equally delicious both ways.  Much better than raw.

Braised Romano Beans with Cherry Tomatoes, originally from The Wednesday Chef:

1 link of chorizo sausage
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 cups chopped onion, about 1 medium or 1/2 large
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 1/2 pounds Romano beans, stems removed and cut into bite-sized lengths
1/4 cup wine/vinegar (optional, for deglazing)
1 tsp salt
2-3 zucchini, halved or quartered lengthwise and then sliced
1/2 pound cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 Tbsp minced fresh basil

Either halve or quarter chorizo link lengthwise and then slice.  Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  When the oil is hot, add the chorizo and cook until the meat is browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Add the onions.  Cook until the onions are tender, about 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and Romano beans and stir with the onions and chorizo.  Deglaze the pan with the wine or vinegar if you are so inclined.  (Pour in the acid and stir up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.)  Add the salt and 3/4 cups water and reduce the heat to medium.

Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are silky in texture and extremely flavorful, about 45 minutes.  If the mixture begins to cook dry, add a little more water.  (My pan lid is not tightly fitted, so I added an additional 3/4 cups of water twice in the 45 minute cooking time.)

When the beans are cooked, remove the lid, add the zucchini, and cook long enough to evaporate most of the remaining water, about 5 minutes.

Reduce the heat to low and add the cherry tomatoes.  Cook until they are warmed through (do not overcook like I did).  Stir in the basil and taste and correct for seasoning (ie more salt or pepper or red pepper chili flakes).  Serve either warm or at room temperature.

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