Saturday, October 25, 2008

a few thoughts on cake

Yesterday I made a german chocolate cake for a church thing on Sunday. That means that this morning there was a huge cake on our dining room table.  Well, it's been whispering to us since I frosted it last night: "try me, try me", so, as it is a gigantic two layer rectangle, I  guiltily sliced off about an inch from one end.

We happily ate most of this as our Saturday morning second breakfast.

Cake is so very special, particularly purloined church cake, I think it is best enjoyed on a plate with a fork. 

By the way, I used buttermilk in the cake batter. It makes it nice and tender.

Friday, October 10, 2008


 I remember when I was a young, poor art student in Maine. We would eat whatever fish was running at the time. We would buy bluefish, which was really cheap then, then  stuff  it with brown rice, carrots and season with tamari.  It was a great dinner to share with friends.  So today, when I saw bluefish at the market, I had to buy one and re-visit this often overlooked fish. 

 Yes, it is fishy. But that is not a bad thing! It is also inexpensive and full of Omega 3. So I selected a 3 pounder and had it headed and cleaned there. Here is how I cooked this fellow and what you will need;

a fresh bluefish
some rice, or you could use any grain actually
some onion
a nice fresh bunch of kale
a handful of mushrooms (not essential)
an apple
a garlic clove, slice into slivers
some lemon, soy sauce, wine

Please keep in mind you can use whatever you have around in this. I do, however, think a fresh green, like kale or swiss chard or even spinach or mustard greens are essential.

Cook some brown rice, not alot, about 1/3 cup.
Clean and cut up a bunch of SC kale. In a large frying pan, sautee 1/2 onion sliced, add kale, a little Slap Yo Mama (actually garlic salt and cayenne) and add a generous T or so of hungarian paprika. 
Slorp some red wine over, cover pan and cook til kale was done.

Meantime, split the fish open more so it opens like a book, and further clean him up: cleaning the cavity, removing the spine and ribs using needle nose pliers,  rinsing well. 
Rub cavity with soy sauce  and fresh lemon juice.

Mix the rice with the kale mixture, and add about 3/4 granny smith apple chopped up.

Now, there is too much of this to use in the fish. You can heat up leftover for lunch as is, or, add a little broth and make it a soup.

Back to the fish.  Stuff fish with veg rice mixture. Tie with a string in 3 places ot hold it together. Rub skin side up wiuth olive oil. Slash this side in 4 places and insert slivers of garlic.

Slorp a little wine (red or white, whichever) over filling to keep it moist.

Roast at 400 til done, approx 30-40 minutes. Serves 3 generously. Or more, if you buy a larger fish

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

rainy morning

We are finally having the rain we need. Rick came back from the barn with only one egg. Our chickens are molting and their output is much diminished. I decided a colorful breakfast would be great, and made a saute of a little onion, a few small garden tomatoes, a bit of garlic in a little olive oil. I added a handful of spinach after the other items had softened. While this was wilting , I boiled a fresh egg for 4 minutes. Instead of salt, I added just a little (about a tsp) of feta to the veg mixture when I put in in a smallish bowl. Dropped the shelled egg on top of.

The runny yolk combined with the veg to make a colorful, rich, delicious and filling breakfast. 

Thursday, October 2, 2008

coq au vin for Thursday night

I found chicken quarters on special at my market today. I was not shopping for chicken but the weather is finally delightfully fall-ish here, so it seemed a good plan to make coq au vin. I consulted with Julia Child, and also with Ruth (Gourmet Cookbook and Magazine editor) Reichl.  Here is what I ended up doing. Most of this stuff you'll probably have around this time of year:

for 2-3 people
3 whole chicken legs (includes thighs)
2 carrots
some mushrooms
a large onion
at least 1 cup dry white wine ( if you don't keep wine around, buy a bottle of Noilly Pratt or other good quality dry vermouth and keep in your cupboard for cooking)
some chicken stock (please, not the salty cubes... canned at least)
sprig of thyme from the pots on your deck. Or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
4 cloves of garlic

Cut chicken into thighs and drumsticks. 
Wipe off chicken and remove any weird bits or extra skin. Generously salt and pepper each piece. 
Cut up 4 pieces of bacon into squares and put in a heavy bottomed pot, not a frying pan. Sides need to be at least 4" tall. Brown the bacon on medium heat. Put aside the bacon. Discard 1/2 of the bacon fat. 
Add a little olive oil to the bacon fat, and brown your chicken in this, about 6 minutes on each side.

Remove chicken from pan , and drain off a lot of the fat. Cut up a large onion, or 2 medium onions into quarters. Cut up 2 carrots into 1" lengths, and cut the fat end in half lengthwise, so it is more like the other pieces. If you have celery, you could add a rib, also cut up.

Add to veg to hot fat, cook over medium heat til browning, stirring once or twice. 

When vegetables are starting to brown,  add the chicken,  and the bacon pieces back in, a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme (a small amt. of dried tarragon is good, too,  about 1/2 tsp.) and nearly cover the chicken with 1/2 chicken broth and 1/2 white wine. Also, I added 4 peeled and smashed cloves of garlic, because I love garlic. Scrape up the browned bits in the bottom of the pan and stir into the liquid. 

Cover the pot and turn burner to low. Cook for about 45 minutes-1 hour. Remove chicken and veg and put on platter. Now as for those onions, you can plate them with the other veg, or just forget them.  Take the cooked garlics and mash against the side of the pot with the back of a spoon. Stir into sauce.

You will want to thicken this sauce after you put the chicken on a platter. Make a buerre manie, which means mash up some butter (approx. 1T) and twice as much flour together(2T) and add this to the sauce. Cook uncovered, on med high, stirring. If you have cognac or brandy, it would be good to add a couple of T of this as well.

In a smallish frying pan, brown your mushrooms quickly over high heat in a little olive oil, add to pile of chicken. Spoon sauce over chicken and serve.

As for me, I am not sure if I will thicken the sauce. I may serve the chicken, veg and unthickened sauce (perhaps will add 2T heavy cream) in soup bowls with hunks of good bread, or maybe steamed yukon potatoes.  

And a nice little spinach salad dressed with lemon and olive oil.