Sunday, November 28, 2010

Green Speck

Because my parents know me so well (and because I am not a subtle hinter), they recently returned from three weeks in Italy with a bag full of cured meats, just for me. Nice work, parents.

A dark, meaty, almost hamburgery salami; a darling little wild boar sausage; a hard fennel salami, to name a few. And a big hunk of Italian Speck.

The speck is strong, fatty, difficult to slice, and a special treat. It is very good sliced thinly with rosé. However, my favorite way to eat the speck—a fact which I have learned retrospectively—is pan fried with greens. I think I have eaten speck with greens at least six times in the last two weeks. On pasta, with white beans, under eggs, with garlic, and alone, speck with greens has officially entered my repertoire as a simple, front running, fall favorite.

A happy companion of the many tasty root vegetables that are still around this time of year is their tops. I bring home turnips, beets and radishes from the farmers' market, and I end up with a pile of yummy greens. Greens with which to eat my speck.

Tonight, because it’s Sunday, I’m tired, and I still remember declaring yesterday that I would never eat again after a Thanksgiving weekend full of pie-based gluttony, I will have speck and greens alone. Perhaps I'll add a shave or two of Parmigiano Reggiano.

Tomorrow, maybe I'll deep fry it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I Want to be a Cowgirl

Did I mention that I bought the most amazing pair of cowboy boots last month? Well, I did. My friend from Uruguay calls them Texan boots, which I love. And the folks in Texas who sold them to me called them western boots. “Is this your first pair of western boots?” they asked. I think it showed. No matter what you call them, they’re quite sassy, and I intend to enjoy them for a long, long, time.

Much like the cookies I made this weekend. They’re a variation on a recipe for Cowboy Cookies that I have been enjoying for as long as I can remember. But no matter what you call them, they’re my definition of cookie—and quite a good one, I’d say. I’ve added dried cherries, and swapped pecans for the traditional walnuts. They’re salty and sweet, and wonderful.

Unfortunately, since it’s a snow day here in Seattle and I am the only one around, I am eating more than my fair share. I can attest first hand that they’re nice with coffee at breakfast, as well as after lunch with tea. Time to pack some up and distribute them around the neighborhood before they become dinner and midnight snack.

Cowgirl Cookies (aka Cowboy, Western, or Texan Cookies)
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
2 cups flour
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
½ t baking powder
2 cups oats
1 cup pecans
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1 cup dark chocolate chunks
1 cup dried cherries

  • Cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla.
  • Mix the flour, soda, salt and powder in a separate bowl. Mix in to the dough.
  • Add the oats. Stir in the nuts, coconut, chocolate, and cherries.
  • Spoon balls of dough onto a cookie sheet. I use a mini ice cream scoop.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 15 – 18 minutes, until the edges are golden and the middle is still soft.
  • Hoot and holler like a real cowgirl.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Oreo Dragon

When the produce man told me they were like Oreo Cookies, I knew I had to try them.  Turns out, I am pretty sure he meant that they look like Oreo Cookies—or more accurately—cookies and cream ice cream. My mom and I were enjoying a girls' trip to Maui, and we were giddy with all the fresh, local fruits: papaya, pineapple, little bananas, passion fruit.  I thought we needed to try these Oreo Cookie flowers too.
But even though I thought I was buying one of my favorite junk foods disguised as fruit, and that turned out not to be that case, I still enjoyed my first ever dragon fruit. 
Inside, dragon fruit have a similar taste and texture to a kiwi (and they look like cookies and cream ice cream). Outside, they’re gorgeous: red or yellow with green tips and a tropical flower-like look.

We chopped ours up with avocado, red pepper, white onion, and sour tangerine juice and ate it with grilled steak. Then we had the leftovers on cottage cheese for breakfast. Tasty.

They’re also popular in juices and cocktails.  "Just add rum” is a pretty good recipe for many things, don't you think?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Local Addictions

Any organization that gives away local sugar pumpkins as a door gift is fine by me. And if that’s not enough, Seattle Tilth also teaches kids and adults about organic gardening, hosts classes on how to raise city chickens, and helps refugees turn their farming skills into a living. I am thrilled that Seattle Tilth is part of my community.

I am also thrilled with the sugar pumpkin they gave me.

As part of my post-Halloween, jelly candy overdose, I wanted to make something full of vegetables. And to use my pumpkin. After much cookbook perusing, I chose to tweak Suzanne Goin’s recipe for Farro with Kabocha Squash and Cavalo Nero from Sunday Suppers at Luques. I made some substitutions and omissions, not because I thought it was a particularly good idea, but that’s what I had in the house.

And oh my goodness, this was a yummy one. I cook with kale (cavalo nero) a lot, and I have never done to kale what Goin suggested I do. I cooked the heck out of it and it was amazing. I may very well become addicted to it.

Seattle Tilth does so much for me and the greater Seattle area. Including help me feed my addictions.

Farro with Pumpkin and Kale
Adapted from Farro with Kabocha Squash and Cavalo Nero, Sunday Suppers at Luques, Suzanne Goin
3 cups fresh sugar pumpkin, peeled and diced
¾ cup olive oil
1 T plus 2 t dried thyme
1 # lacinato kale
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 chilies de arbol
1 cup sliced onion plus ½ onion cut into wedges
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 ½ cups farro
¼ cup red wine
½ cup shallot, sliced
Kosher salt and pepper

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil with lots of salt.
  • Toss the pumpkin with 2 T olive oil, 1 t thyme, ¾ t salt and some pepper. Spread on a cookie sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes, until soft.
  • Blanch the kale in boiling water for 2 minutes, drain and squeeze out the extra water.
  • Heat ¼ cup oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the rosemary sprig and one of the chilies, crumbled. Cook for about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium low, add the sliced onion and ½ t salt, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the sliced garlic. Cook for about 7 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions start to brown.
  • Add the kale plus 2 T oil, and stir to coat the kale with oil and onions. Add ½ t salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, until the kale is a little crispy and almost black. Remove the rosemary and the chili.
  • While the kale is cooking, heat a medium sauce pan for 2 minutes, add ¼ cup oil, the onion wedges, the remaining chili crumbled, and the bay leaf. Cook for about 5 minutes until the onion is soft. Add the farro, 1 T thyme, and 2 t salt, and stir. Add the wine and 6 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes until the farro is tender. Drain and remove the vegetables, bay leaf and chili.
  • Heat a large frying pan for 2 minutes, add 2 T oil, ½ t salt and the sliced shallots. Cook for about 2 minutes. Add the kale mixture, the pumpkin and the farro and cook until everything is heated through. Serve immediately or keep it warm in the oven.