Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Chestnut Ice Cream

It's chestnut season...get ready for my next culinary obsession! 


Ingredients
  • 2 C roasted and peeled chestnuts
  • 1 C heavy whipping cream
  • 2/3 C organic granulated sugar

Procedure
Place the chestnuts in a blender with 1/2 C of cream and 1/3 C sugar. Blend till smooth. Pour the puree into a mixing bowl. Gently fold in the remaining cream and remaining sugar. Place the mixture into your ice cream maker and process according to your machine. Ours took about 40 minutes to come to a soft, gelato-like texture. Spoon ice cream into a container and freeze for 30-60 minutes before serving.

Not Buying Groceries or Anything Else on Thanksgiving or Black Friday

I am, admittedly, not a shopper. I actually dislike shopping, especially browsing. I go to the store with a list and get what I need. So, skipping the stores on Black Friday isn't tough for me.

And, normally, I would just head out for my hike and keep my mouth shut about what everyone else chooses to do. 

But, I am appalled by this trend of retailers opening, not just on Black Friday, but on Thanksgiving. For crying out loud, stay home, give thanks, play a board game, read, or just cuddle on the couch in your post-feast haze.

Thanksgiving is about being grateful for what you have and spending it with people who are important to you. It's not about getting the best deal before the person behind you in line can snag it. Spend time with your family and friends and not the deal-crazed lunatics with dollars signs in their eyes and with coupons hanging out of their pockets.

And plan ahead on the food front, you'll have plenty of leftovers to eat; you don't need to go to the grocery store - or any other store - on Friday.

Thanksgiving is quintessentially American. Dating back to the 17th century, it's about unity and breaking bread with family and community. It's a pause. It's not overtly religious, but it feels reverent and respectful. So, when I saw this campaign on Facebook, I shared it.

"Because I believe in family, I pledge to not shop on Thanksgiving. If I'm shopping, someone else is working and NOT spending time with their family. Everyone deserves a holiday."

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be helping. The list of stores that will open on Thanksgiving Day keeps growing. It's truly disturbing. Walmart, Toys R Us, Kmart, Old Navy, Sears, Target, JCPenny, Kohl's. Do you frequent any of these stores? I do. Or, I have in the past. I am taking a stand and will be spending my dollars at stores where actions speak volumes about how they feel about their employees. I may be a member of the "me" generation, but I find this trend nauseating.

As plugged in as we all are, if you must shop, do your retail therapy online. Your orders will be fulfilled on the next business day. You won't know the difference, I promise. Maybe we can at least keep the physical stores shuttered for the day and allow employees to stay home with their families. 

As a mother of young(ish) children, I think about the fact that my boys get more pleasure out of playing with the box that a fancy new toy comes in than the gadget itself. They love empty boxes because they can turn them into whatever they want. They can invent a board game or make a hut. They certainly won't know that you saved 80% on their Christmas present because you stood in line for 2 hours. But they will remember whatever you do that includes them.

Here's what we did on Black Friday a couple of years ago...we took our best friends down the coast, crossed a river in our underwear, built a driftwood fort, and had a delicious picnic of Thanksgiving leftovers. 


These four kiddos - and even my husband and I - talk about that day frequently. We're talking about doing it again this year.

I'm not going to be shopping on Thanksgiving, or the day after. I'm going to focus on what I have and do what I can to try to stop this holiday from being gobbled up by greed.

Souvlaki from Debbie Matenopoulos' "It's All Greek to Me" {#sponsor Book Review & Giveaway}

When BenBella Books invited me to join the book tour for It's All Greek to Me -- Transform Your Health the Mediterranean Way with my Family's Century-Old Recipes from Debbie Matenopoulos, I was excited. First, I love Greek food. Second, though I have reviewed many cookbooks, a virtual book tour is new to me. Many thanks to Rook No. 17 for sending them my way. What fun this is!

photo courtesy BenBella Books

We all love Greek food. And when I write that, I mean that when our local Greek Festival runs for three days over Labor Day weekend each year, we typically find an excuse to eat there on all three days. All. Three. Days. Here are a few photos from previous years' events.


In Debbie's warm and authentic style, she weaves incredible family recipes, anecdotal storytelling, and stunning photography that will transport the reader to the Greek family table, and delight their taste buds with the flavorful, heart-healthy delicacies of the Mediterranean.  At the end of this post, you'll have the opportunity to enter to win a copy of It's All Greek to Me of your own.

Here are some of the recipes that I am most looking forward to trying...


Gigantes: Greek Giant White Beans (page 183)
Kalamarakia Tiganita: Lightly Fried Calamari (page 50)
Revani: Almond, Orange, and Semolina Cake (page 254)

An Interview
I was delighted to have the opportunity to ask Debbie a few about her Greek heritage and her new cookbook.

Culinary Adventures with Camilla: What are essential ingredients in a well-stocked Greek pantry? Maybe the top five.

Debbie: A Greek pantry is NOT a Greek pantry without some very key ingredients. I know you've asked for 5, but there are actually 7 that every Greek kitchen should be stocked with. They are Greek extra virgin olive oil, dried Greek oregano, fresh lemons, fresh flat leaf parsley, fresh tomatoes, and onions. Combined, those ingredients and you have the base of a lot of Greek dishes.

*   *   *
Culinary Adventures with Camilla: I think food memories of cooking with moms and grandmothers help shape who we become culinarily. Not sure if that's a real word. But what's your earliest memory of cooking or preparing Greek food?

Debbie: My earliest memories of cooking are from when I was about 4 years old and are of me being in the kitchen with my mom. I was helping her stir the bechamel for the pastichio or moussaka over the stovetop to make sure it didn’t get too thick.  She would pull up a stool for me to stand on and make sure to let me know that my job was very important. She would tell me that getting the pastichio or moussaka exactly right all depended on me making sure I didn't let the bechamel thicken too much.  That responsibility made me feel so important and made me so proud when we all sat down to dinner. It truly made me feel like I was an integral part in making this delicious meal. I think that's when I fell in love with cooking.

*   *   *
Culinary Adventures with Camilla: What message would you like to resonate with your readers?

Debbie: I would like the readers of my blog and home cooks to not only enjoy the amazing flavors of the Mediterranean cuisine of my ancestors, but also the immeasurable health benefits.  And, I’d like them to enjoy this food with their family and loved ones, because after all, food is more than just food to Greeks. To Greeks, food represents love and family.  So here’s to you enjoying the deliciousness of this cookbook with your family!!

Souvlaki Arni
Lamb Souvlaki from It's All Greek to Me by Debbie Matenopoulos
photo courtesy BenBella Books

I laughed when I realized that I had photos of souvlaki from multiple years of the Greek festival. I guess that's a true family favorite. It helped me decide which recipe I wanted to make for this book tour.


Souvlaki, pronouced soo-VLAH-kee ahr-NEE, is an all-time classic! It's the Greek equivalent of the a hamburger for Americans. I made a couple of minor changes - my changes in blue- swapping the dried oregano for fresh, adding crushed garlic, and letting the meat rest overnight instead of just a few minutes. Also, I grilled baby peppers to serve alongside the meat.


Ingredients serves 6-8
  • 1 leg of lamb (bone-in weight about 6 pounds), cubed with bone reserved for another use
  • 1 T sea salt
  • 2 t freshly ground pepper
  • skewers (I used Firewire Flexible Grilling Skewers, but use whatever you have)
  • 1/2 C extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 T freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 1 T dried oregano (I used 3 T fresh oregano. A good rule of thumb for converting dried to fresh herb amounts: one to three.)
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, crushed and minced
  • fresh rosemary for garnish
Procedure
Thoroughly wash the lamb. Pat dry with paper towels and season with the salt and pepper. Let the seasoned lamb rest for at room temperature before rubbing with seasoning. Meanwhile, mix the olive oil, lemon juice, and oregano together in a mixing bowl. Rub the mixture all over the meat and let marinate overnight.

When you're ready to cook, let the meat come to room temperature. Then assemble the skewers.


Cook the lamb on the grill for 10 minutes total, turning every couple of minutes until browned on all sides. Remove from heat when done and serve.

Variations: this same recipe can be made with pork, chicken, or beef. Since my boys aren't huge lamb fans - they usually order the pork souvlaki - I went with that for them.


I thoroughly enjoyed cooking from It's All Greek to Me and am looking forward to trying my hand are more Greek recipes in the future. Now on to the part you've all be waiting for - the giveaway.

Giveaway

One of my lucky US readers - sorry, everyone else! - can enter to win a copy of It's All Greek to Me by Debbie Matenopoulos, courtesy of BenBella Books, Inc. Giveaway runs from today - November 18th - till December 1st at 5 o'clock PM, Pacific time. Please see terms and conditions in the rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Debbie Matenopoulos’s It’s All Greek To Me Cookbook to review plus the opportunity to give a copy away. Opinions are my own. I received no further compensation for my post or review.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Double Buddha's Hand Scones

It's funddrive week. That means it's lots of grab-and-go breakfast while I run out the door to collect contributions to help fund the gap between what the State pays and what it actually costs in programming for the kids to get all that they get - art, music, drama, PE, and Spanish. Yep. Someone has to do it.

While I normally end up with a cup of coffee and a handful of pretzels on my way out. I popped these in the oven for the boys...it's a riff on the Candied Buddha's Hand Scones I made this weekend, but includes some of the super-fragrant fresh Buddha's Hand as well. I did have to use some knife skills - yes, it's ugly...it's early and pre-coffee! - since my zester and my grater seem to have been moved to the new kitchen already.


Ingredients
  • 2 ½ C flour (I refrained from using whole wheat)
  • ½ C organic granulated sugar + some for sprinkling
  • ½ t baking soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 8 T cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 C heavy organic cream
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T candied Buddha's Hand citron
  • 2 T Buddha's Hand citron, finely chopped (zest or grated is perfect, too), divided
Procedure
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and baking powder. Using a pastry cutter, blend the butter into the dry ingredients until the dough resembles pea-sized chunks. Add the cream, egg, candied Buddha's Hand citron, and 1 T chopped Buddha's Hand, using a spatula to form a ball.

Transfer to a baking stone or parchment-lined sheet and gently press into a disc. Cut the disc into wedges and pull them apart, gently.

Drizzle a tablespoon of cream on the tops of the scones and sprinkle with the remaining 1 T Buddha's Hand. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes. The scones will be nicely raised and slightly golden.

Remove the scones from the oven and set them on a wire rack to cool slightly before serving.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Hadrian's Bread (with a Twist) for #BreadBakers


BreadBakersWelcome to a bonus post for the #BreadBakers. This is a special month. Not only is November a month for thanks and giving, but November 17th is National Homemade Bread Day. Since we're #BreadBakers, Lauren of From Gate to Plate suggested we all post something new. I'm game!

Our usual events are themed, but for this one we just let our creative shine; so there's a little bit of everything from bagels to rolls and from muffins and quick breads. We've got a pretty diverse line-up for you! So I hope you enjoy and are inspired to bake some homemade bread today on this national food holiday!


See the bottom of this post for more information about this great bread baking group.

I was inspired by the Hadrian's Bread recipe I found in Country Bread of the World by Linda Collister & Anthony Blake. And I fully intended to follow the recipe. This is based on a reference that Pliny made to a bread made with spelt flour and raisin juice. I did use spelt flour, but decided to use chestnut puree instead of the raisins. So...not traditional...but delicious!

Ingredients makes 3 mini loaves

Biga (a pre-ferment)
  • 3 1/2 C bread flour
  • 2 C water, room temperature
  • 1/2 t instant dry yeast
Whisk all the ingredients together and allow it to stand for at room temperature for between 6 and 36 hours; mine fermented for just over 6 hours. The biga will begin to ferment, getting gassy and bubbly. You'll use 1-1/2 C biga for this bread recipe. The remaining biga can be stored in the fridge, covered. You can keep the biga alive by discarding some of the biga every couple of days, and adding an equal amount of water and bread flour and giving it a firm stir.

The Bread
  • 1 1/2 C biga
  • 1 C chestnut puree (you can puree your own, I found a jar at Whole Foods)
  • 3/4 C water, room temperature
  • 1 T fresh yeast
  • 1 T honey
  • 4 1/2 C organic spelt flour
  • salt for sprinkling
  • 1/2 C raw pecans

Procedure
In a large mixing bowl, mix together all of the ingredients except for the salt and pecans. Stir with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. It took me about 8 minutes.

Place the dough in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, cover the bowl with a towel.


Let the dough to rest for an hour. This is what it will look like...


After an hour, divide the dough into half. Mix in the pecans, then roll the dough into a ball, tucking the ends of the dough neatly underneath. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and transfer the balls of dough to the sheet.


Sprinkle the top with salt. Space the loaves so they have room to rise. Let bread rise for 2 to 3 hours.


After two to three hours, the dough should be nicely puffed but not quite doubled in size.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cut an H into the top of your bread. Drizzle with olive oil.

Place a pan of water on the bottom rack. Bake the bread for about 50 minutes. The crust should be browned and crisp. When you pick up the loaf, give it a thump on the bottom. It should sound hollow. Allow the bread to cool before slicing and tasting.


For a late night snack, Jake and I sliced it up and served it with some coppa, brie, and a bottle of moscato d'asti. Cin cin!


Here's what's in the bread basket for today...

How to join...
#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com.

Fennel Frond Pappardelle with Rabbit, Muscat, & Cream for #SundaySupper


I was really excited when I saw the theme for this week's #SundaySupper: on the hunt. Wild, hunted, or foraged foods are a family favorite. However, since all of my hunters were either out of meat or out of town, I had to hunt down some rabbit...at Whole Foods! Thanks to Stacy of Food Luck People Love and Tara of Noshing with the Nolands for hosting this fun event.


This dish is inspired by a recipe in Afield: A Chef's Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish by Jesse Griffiths. I had intended to make my own pappardelle with fennel fronds mixed into the dough, but we're moving and I have half of my kitchen in the old house and half of the kitchen in the new one. The pasta machine was not where I was making dinner. Darn it. But I did buy fresh lasagna sheets and hand-cut my pappardelle.

Ingredients
  • 1 rabbit
  • olive oil
  • 1 bottle of muscat
  • vegetable stock
  • 1 onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped
  • 1/2 green cabbage thinly slices
  • pappardelle
  • 1 C organic heavy cream
  • juice and zest from 1 organic lemon
  • 1/2 C chopped Italian parsley

Procedure
Quickly brown the rabbit in souppot with a splash of olive oil, approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side.


Add in the next five ingredients. Use as much vegetable stock as you need to cover the rabbit by 2 inches of water. Bring the pot to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 80 to 90 minutes.


Remove the rabbit from the pot. Let cool for 10 minutes. Shred the meat, pulling it from the bones. While the rabbit cools, cook your pappardelle and turn the pot up to high. Let boil till the liquid is reduced by half.


Add in the cream, lemon juice, lemon zest, and parsley. Toss in the cooked pappardelle and let stand for 10 minutes. serve hot.


Here's what the rest of the #SundaySupper crew 
brought to the table. Yum!

Spread it on Thick

Nibbles and Sides

The Main Event

Sweet Treats

Sunday Supper Movement
Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET.  Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Candied Buddha's Hand Scones


Moving Day! Well, it's a local move, so there are going to be lots of moving days. But today I'm not running off to work, so I whipped up a batch of scones to bolster the troops while we pack, load, and unload...all day today.

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ C flour (I refrained from using whole wheat)
  • ½ C organic granulated sugar + some for sprinkling
  • ½ t baking soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 8 T cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 C heavy organic cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 C candied Buddha's Hand citron
Procedure
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and baking powder. Using a pastry cutter, blend the butter into the dry ingredients until the dough resembles pea-sized chunks. Add the cream, egg, and candied Buddha's Hand citron, using a spatula to form a ball.

Transfer to a baking stone or parchment-lined sheet and gently press into a disc. Cut the disc into wedges and pull them apart, gently.

Drizzle a tablespoon of cream on the tops of the scones. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes. The scone will be nicely raised and slightly golden.


Remove the scones from the oven and set them on a wire rack to cool slightly before serving.

5 Ingredient Challenge: Hundred-Foot Journey Brown Rice Risotto

Join The Hundred-Foot Journey 5 ingredient challenge. 
Submit your culinary creation using all 5 ingredients. Ready, set, cook!
(from the movie's Facebook page)


Okay, since it doesn't read "...using only these 5 ingredients..." I am adding a few others - broth, marscarpone, and a cheese. Here's our Hundred-Foot Journey Brown Rice Risotto. This isn't too much of a challenge; we use most of those ingredients all the time. A challenge might have been to cook with urchin. But, we did that already, too. Here is D's Spiced Coconut- Sea Urchin Soup.


Ingredients 
makes 8 servings, required ingredients for the challenge are in bold
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 T butter
  • splash of olive oil
  • 2 C sliced fresh mushrooms (I used a medley of mushrooms from Far West Fungi that included oysters, trumpets, and shitakes)
  • 4 C organic short grain brown rice
  • 6 C stock
  • 2 C boiling water
  • 8 oz marscarpone cream
  • 4 mild Italian sausages
  • fleur de sel
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 C fresh basil
  • 4 to 5 organic small tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 C shredded parmesan

Procedure
Bring your stock and water to a boil. Then reduce it to a simmer and keep it on a burner adjacent to your risotto pan.

Melt 2 T butter with a splash of olive oil in a large, flat-bottom,  pan. Add the garlic and cook until it begins to caramelize. Add mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms soften. Add in the rice and stir until completely coated with oil and butter.


Add one ladle of simmering broth at a time, stirring, stirring, and stirring some more till the liquid is absorbed. Repeat until the rice is soft. If you need more liquid, just add more; if you don't use all of the stock, that's okay, too.

In a separate pan, brown your sausages till cooked through. Set aside to cool, then slice into thick coins.


Stir in diced tomatoes. Let risotto stand for 5 minutes.


Season with fleur de sel and pepper to taste. Stir in sausage coins, marscarpone cheese, parmesan, and fresh basil. To serve, spoon out individual servings. Serve hot.

I can't wait to see what other people cook for this 5-ingredient challenge!