Friday, November 30, 2012

A Dickens of a Dinner {Christmas}

I know, I know...it's still November. Barely. But because December is such a quagmire of events - all fun! - this serial planner has to plan things even earlier. Between Nutcrackers and three birthdays, I began thinking about our Christmas Eve menu this week. While I'm decidedly non-traditional for Thanksgiving, I decided to go ultra-traditional for Christmas with a Dickens-inspired feast, replete with a Christmas goose and plum pudding! I need to do some reading and figure out what the heck a Smoking Bishop is.

Here's my Christmas Eve dinner plan...

Recipes and photos to come.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Scheduling Serendipity {Food52 Potluck}

When I saw the post to host a Food52 Potluck during the month of December, I was excited. I love bringing people together around a central food them. But...during December?!? I should have had my head examined. Not only is our December as hectic as everyone else's, but add to that the annual Holiday Fund Drive for the non-profit that I chair, Nutcracker performances to see, Dylan's birthday, and the birthdays of four of our close friends - two of whom whose birthday cakes I always create. Needless to say, December is more than a little full. But I had committed, so I tried to squeeze it in somehow, piggybacking onto a dessert holiday party that a friend was already hosting. That didn't work. I thought of doing it at our family Christmas potluck.

Then...serendipity: my mom heard about my scheduling dilemma and asked, "Can I do it?" Ummmmm...okay.

My mom always hosts a Christmas party at her house for her friends - from ballroom dancing, from her ukulele club, and from her other activities that retired people have time to do. She had been looking for a theme for this year. Now she has it. And all I have to do is package up the swag that the potluck sponsors are providing - check out my Rancho Gordo Beans goody bags -, go taste the food, take some photographs, and do a blogpost. This is the easiest foodie event I've ever had to coordinate. Thanks, Mom!

If you're interested in a copy of the cookbook, The Food52 Cookbook, Volume 2, it comes out December 4th but it's available for pre-order now.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Rancho Gordo Beans {Food52 Potluck}

One of the great things about being a food writer: learning more about artisan foodsmiths. Today I received a package from Rancho Gordo Beans, one of the sponsors for all the Food52 potlucks coming up next month.



Rancho Gordo Beans grows heirloom beans in Napa. Heirloom varieties tend to have lower yields than other beans, but the payoff is in the flavor and texture. Most Rancho Gordo beans are new world crops, meaning they are indigenous to the Americas. 

Originally from Colombia, these beans - Cargamanto - have been bred around the world and have become Madeira, Borlotti, Tongues of Fire, Wren's Egg and many more.

While I packaged up most of these for the potluck giveaways, I kept a pound for myself to try this recipe...

Pasta e Fagioli
adapted from the Food Network recipe

olive oil
cloves garlic, smashed
red pepper flakes, to taste
1 T chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 C cubed pancetta
5 canned whole San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
1 C dried cranberry beans, soaked overnight
bay leaves
1 piece parmesan cheese rind, plus 1/2 cup grated parmesan, and more for topping
2 C small pasta, such as shells or macaroni
bunch kale, stems and ribs discarded, leaves chopped
1/4 C roughly chopped fresh parsley or other herb
freshly ground pepper
freshly ground salt

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, rosemary and pancetta and cook 5  minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook 5 more minutes. Add the beans, 3 quarts water, the bay leaves and parmesan rind. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the beans are tender, and hour and a half to two hours.

Uncover the pot and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Add the kale and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender. The soup should be thick and creamy; you can thin it with water, if necessary.

Remove the bay leaves and parmesan rind. Add the grated parmesan and herbs. Top with more olive oil and parmesan.

Or...maybe I'll try this Food52 recipe: Barley and Cranberry Bean Soup!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Food Matters Project: Pumpkin Soup with Bacon and Persimmon


The Food Matters Project challenge for this week was Mark Bittman's Roasted Butternut Squash Chowder with Apples and Bacon, chosen by Jen of Prarie SummersClick here to see what everyone else made; look in the comments section.


I really wanted to call this a pumpkin 'bisque'; that sounds more sexy than pumpkin 'soup'. But then I did some reading and realized that you can't categorize something as a bisque unless it has fish stock as its base. So...this is fenneled pumpkin soup made with pumpkin puree from the bounty of pumpkins I had gotten for a pumpkin-themed baby shower last month. I roasted and pureed all of the leftovers, stocking my freezer for things such as this.

The bacon adds a delicious smokiness and the persimmons impart an exotic sweetness. I served this as the first course for our Thanksgiving lunch. It was a hit!


1 C diced bacon
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and diced
1 T minced garlic
6 C pumpkin puree
10 C organic chicken stock
1/2 C orange juice
2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 t smoked paprika
1 t fennel seeds
freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
persimmons, peeled and julienned for garnish

In a souppot, cook the bacon pieces until they begin to brown but are not crispy. Add the fennel and garlic and cook until the fennel begins to caramelize. Add the pumpkin, chicken stock, fennel seeds and orange juice. Simmer until the soup begins to thicken. Stir in lemon juice, smoked paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with julienned persimmons.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Earl Grey-Poached Pear Salad {Local Thanksgiving}

Catching up on some Thanksgiving recipes I missed posting...

Recipes that poach pears in tea have long intrigued me. There's the Food Network's green tea-poached pears with marscarpone and brittle; Gourmet's tea poached pears with tapioca and satsumas; and The Meaning of Tea's lemon ginger tea poached pears. I decided to make them the centerpiece of our Thanksgiving salad.




Ingredients


  • 6 C water
  • 6 Earl Grey tea bags
  • 6 pears (I used a mixture of bosc and Asian), peeled, halved, and cored
  • 1 C raw turbinado sugar
  • 4 whole cloves

Procedure
Bring water to boil in medium saucepan. Add tea bags. Remove from heat. Cover and let steep 10 minutes. Discard tea bags. Add sugar to tea and stir over medium heat until dissolved. Add pears and cloves. Cover and simmer until pears are just tender, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pears to a bowl. Boil syrup in saucepan until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Pour syrup over fruit. Chill until cold.

On a bed of mixed greens, I placed the poached pears. I filled the hollow with a spoonful of chevre and sprinked salted, rosemary Marcona almonds over the whole salad. I dressed it simply with a drizzle of olive oil and fig balsamic vinegar. Freshly ground salt and pepper finished off this delicious salad!

The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles Dinner I {Review}

I am one of thirteen bloggers who has received copies of the Rinku Bhattacharya's new cookbook The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles from Hippocrene Books. Over the next few weeks, I'll be cooking from, reviewing, and giving away a copy of the book.

Tonight was my first dinner based on Rinku's recipes. The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles is a deceptively small volume, with less than 300 pages; once you crack the cover, however, you find yourself engulfed in fifteen chapters with multiple recipes per page. It was initially daunting, but my trepidation quickly transformed into giddy enthusiasm once I began to explore her recipes.

Rinku's prose is vivid and colorful. I could clearly imagine "heralding the morning with the sound of a conch shell blown by the mistress of the house." Wait...I am the mistress of the house and I do have a conch shell. Hmmmm....I'm not sure the boys would appreciate that kind of wake-up call!

And her recipes...let me just say that I had a difficult time choosing what to make for dinner. Tonight I settled on two of her recipes from Chapter 7, Vegetarian Entrees, serving them with side of steamed quinoa.

Kamala Shorshe Phulkopi
Golden Cauliflower in Orange Mustard Sauce
adapted* from Rinku Bhattacharya's The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles

1 large head of cauliflower, cut into small to medium pieces
1 t turmeric
freshly ground salt
freshly ground pepper
olive oil
2 T yellow mustard
1/2 C water
juice from one Meyer lemon
2 clementines, peeled and segmented

*I omitted the cayenne and the cilantro but added Meyer lemon juice.

Rub the cauliflower pieces with turmeric. In a large, flat-bottom pan, heat your oil. Then cook the seasoned cauliflower until it is cooked through and golden in spots. In a large bowl, whisk together the mustard, water, and lemon juice. Pour that over the cauliflower, toss to coat completely, and cook until the liquid is absorbed. Stir in the clementine sections and cook for about a minute.

Badhakopir Misti Dalna
Sweet and Spice Curried Cabbage
adapted* from Rinku Bhattacharya's The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles

2 T olive oil
1 t brown mustard seeds
1 medium head green cabbage, shredded
1 carrot, shredded
1 t ground cumin
1 C coconut milk
1 t organic raw turbinado sugar
freshly ground salt

*I omitted the onions and the green chilies.

In a large, flat-bottom pan heat the oil and add the mustard seeds. Cook until they begin to sizzle and pop. Add the cabbage and carrots and mix well. Cook until the vegetables begin to soften, approximately 4 minutes. Add in the cumin powder, coconut milk, sugar, and salt to taste. Simmer until the coconut milk is absorbed.

The Verdict on Dinner I...
These dishes were easy to make, teeming with flavor, and rendered my family silent at the table. Amazing! They were too busy enjoying these exotic flavors to talk. And when they were finished, Dylan, my almost nine-year-old, declared the dinner 'red book worthy.' My red book is where all of our family favorites go. Rinku, that's high praise!

I am thrilled with The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles so far. I can't wait to delve into more of her recipes. Stay tuned...

Riley's Double Chip Cinnamon Cookies

All day Riley has been asking if he could make cookies. I think he asked me twelve times, at least. So, I finally got everything out and let him create. And I decided that for every time he pestered me, I'll let him bake a different kind of cookie. Here's the first of Riley's 12 Days of Christmas Cookies. It won't be twelve days in a row, but it'll be twelve days between now and Christmas!

He wanted to make cinnamon cookies with two kinds of chips. Here's his recipe...

1 C butter
1 C organic dark brown sugar
1 C organic granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 t baking soda
2 C white whole wheat flour
1 C ground almonds
2 t pure vanilla extract
1 T ground cinnamon
2 t eggnog
1 C semisweet chocolate chips
1 C white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars together. Add the eggs and blend until smooth. Stir in the vanilla and eggnog. Sift in the dry ingredients - except the chips - and blend with a spatula until just moistened. Gently fold in the chips. Drop by rounded spoonful onto a baking sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes - or until the cookies are nicely browned.

Caveats: These spread out quite a bit, so give your cookies room to flatten. And cooking them for a shorter time with render them more chewy. Riley wanted his crispy

Enjoy with a glass of eggnog!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Triple Gingered-bread with Pumpkin



When we were headed down the coast yesterday, I turned on the radio and was horrified to hear Christmas music. Already?! Well, Turkey Day was over. And when we came back up the coast at the end of the day, there were Christmas decorations hanging from the street lamps. Really.

But it got me thinking about gingerbread. So, this morning, I used the last of my pumpkin puree and made four mini loaves of pumpkin gingerbread for breakfast. The "triple" ginger part = ground ginger + candied ginger + ginger syrup. This is not for the faint of palate!

3 C white whole wheat flour
2 t baking soda
3 t ground ginger
1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground nutmeg
2 C pumpkin purée
1 C butter, softened
1 C organic dark brown sugar
1/2 C unsulphered molasses
1/2 C ginger syrup
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup candied ginger chips/chunks

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease your baking pans; I used my mini loaf baking stones. In a large mixing bowl beat together the sugar and butter. Add in the pumpkin, molasses, ginger syrup, and eggs. Beat until smooth. Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Stir only until incorporated.


Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pans and bake for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then gently run a knife around the edge of the loaf and invert the loaf to remove it from the pan. Let cool completely.

And the boys declared this 'red book worthy'. Awesome.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Vanilla Cremeux with Poached Quince {Local Thanksgiving}


My kitchen elf Dylan helped me make the first of our Thanksgiving desserts.

Inspired by Chef John Cox's butterscotch cremeux that I had at The Grand Public Tasting during the 2012 Big Sur Food & Wine Festival at Post Ranch, I (1) looked up what a cremeux was and (2) decided to make a version of it for myself. Click to read my piece for Edible Monterey Bay about the Grand Public Tasting. Since I try not to use gelatin, I looked at a multitude of recipes, picking and choosing different techniques until I came up with this. So easy...and so delicious.

Step 1: Make the vanilla cream.
Place 1-1/2 C organic heavy whipping cream in a sauce pan along with the caviar of one vanilla pod - plus the pod. Heat the cream until it begins to bubble around the edges. Remove from heat. Let steep for 10 minutes.


Step 2: Melt the white chocolate.
Remove the pod from the cream. Bring to a bubble again. Add in 2-1/2 C white chocolate chips and swirl until they are completely submerged. Let stand for 3 minutes. Then, with a whisk, blend till smooth - like you're making a ganache.

Step 3: Make the cremeux.
Place 1-1/2 C thick Greek yogurt in a mixing bowl. Stir in 1 T honey. Once the white chocolate-vanilla cream is smooth, add it to the yogurt and honey. Blend until completely combined.

Step 4: Assemble pots.
Dylan spooned poached quince into the bottom of a ramekin. Then he poured the cremeux over the top. We covered the pots with plastic wrap and let them set overnight.


Step 5: Garnish for serving.
To serve, we topped the cremeux with Kourambiedes crumbles and fresh thyme.



*Update 1/21/2013: I linked this up to the Iron Chef Mom Party: Vanilla Edition.*

Riley's ATOMIC Cookies

Remember the giant peanut butter cookie request from Riley?!? Well, this is what he made for the Thanksgiving feast goody-bags: atomic cookies for each of the guests.


He made a royal icing and attached chocolate chips to the cookie, correlating an element with each person, For instance I, Camilla, got Carbon. The circles represent the electron shells while the chocolate chips are the electrons and the neutron.

Royal Icing
3 egg whites, at room temperature
4 C powdered sugar
1/2 t cream of tartar

1. Make sure the egg whites are at room temperature before beginning.

2. In the clean, dry bowl, place the egg whites, powdered sugar, and cream of tartar. Using a hand mixer,  beat the mixture on medium speed until very thick, shiny, stiff and white. 

3. Check the texture to ensure that it is suitable for your needs. If you require a stiffer icing, add a little more powdered sugar at this point.

Braised Lamb Shanks {Local Thanksgiving}

I am not one to have turkey on my Thanksgiving table. Not that I have anything against turkeys - in fact, I drive past a rafter of turkeys every day on my way to work - but it's not my favorite fowl. So, in recent years I've served quail (in both 2010 and 2011), pheasant, duck, and chicken. This year, my parents requested lamb shanks, "just like the one in the picture from that dinner." Here's the picture.

My friends and I had attended Edible Monterey Bay's pop-up dinner at La Creme in Pacific Grove in September. You can check out my Edible Monterey Bay piece about the event. The braised lamb was only one of the magnificent courses cooked up by Chef Jon Moser. But it made an impression.

While my lamb is not locally-raised, I did pester the butcher at Whole Foods for the scoop. The lamb shanks I picked up are from New Zealand, completely grass-fed and grown without antibiotics, growth hormones, and are pasture-raised. Sounds good! Besides, it was locally-inspired by the La Creme dinner.


Ingredients

  • 6 T olive oil
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 T minced garlic
  • 2 T chopped fresh rosemary
  • 8 3/4- to 1-pound lamb shanks
  • white whole wheat flour for dredging
  • 2 1/2 C dry red wine
  • 2 1/2 C organic chicken broth
  • 1 T unsulphered molasses
  • 1 1/2 T fresh tomato sauce
  • 1 T fennel seeds
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 2 C steamed, peeled whole chestnuts
  • 2 C dried apricots
  • 2 stems of fresh sage
  • 2 stems of fresh rosemary

Procedure
Heat 3 T olive oil in heavy large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add sliced fennel and garlic and sauté until brown.

Coat lamb shanks with flour. Heat remaining 3 T olive oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Working in batches, add lamb shanks to skillet and cook until brown on both sides, about 10 minutes per batch.


Using tongs, transfer lamb shanks to plate. Add 1 cup dry red wine to same skillet and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Pour into Dutch oven with fennel mixture. Add remaining 1 1/2 cups red wine, chicken broth, tomato sauce, molasses, and bay leaves to dutch oven. Bring to boil. Add lamb shanks, turning to coat with liquid.



Simmer for one hour. Add in the rosemary, apricots, and chestnuts.


Bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until lamb is almost tender, turning lamb shanks occasionally, approximately another hour. Uncover Dutch oven and boil until liquid is reduced to sauce consistency, stirring and turning lamb shanks occasionally, about 30 minutes. They should be falling-off-the-bone tender! Season with salt and pepper.To serve, spoon the sauce over the shanks.

And on another note, we actually did have turkey on our table this year. Riley and Nonna cooked it.

Salted Fennel Pollen Shortbread



This was the second sweet that I served for our Thanksgiving feast. And our friends brought a chocolate-peppermint bread and chocolate-banana muffins. Even though we didn't have a single pie on the table, we were stylin' in sugared treats. Delicious!

10 T butter
1/2 C packed organic brown sugar
1 T lemon juice
2 t fennel pollen
1 egg, beaten
1-1/2 C white whole wheat flour
1/4 C finely ground cornmeal
granulated sugar and more fennel pollen, for rolling
sea salt, for topping

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Stir in fennel pollen and lemon zest until well combined. Beat in the egg, then carefully fold in the flour.

Roll the dough into a long cylinder. Flatten the cylinder into a rectangular shape, pressing granulated sugar and more fennel into the sides. Put the dough in plastic wrap and chill for about an hour, until the dough is firm enough to slice.

Using a sharp knife, cut the dough cylinder widthwise into 1/4" slices and place, slightly apart, on the baking sheets. Sprinkle with large flakes of sea salt and bake for 15-18 minutes until slightly browned. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Crab-Topped Shrimp Tarts {Local Thanksgiving}

Commercial crab season opened a couple of weeks ago with the promise that "there will be crabs for Thanksgiving!" Sweet.

With that in mind, I put crab on my Thanksgiving menu that is celebrating the bounty of our county.

Though the crab I'm serving isn't from my friend Mike, I wanted to share a photo of him with his crustacean loot! The take is ten crabs and each time he's gone out, he and his buddies have all gotten their limit. Amazing.

I'm green with envy over here. But I dutifully bought my locally-caught crabs and whipped this up for our kick-off course....


I started with the tart dough that we used to make Eliopitakia, Cypriot Olive Pies, on our tabletop adventure. It's flaky and citrusy, the perfect pairing for a seafood tart.

Pastry
3/4 C orange juice
3/4 C olive oil
4 C white whole wheat flour
2 1/2 t baking powder

In medium bowl, mix all the pastry ingredients and knead to make a soft dough. Let stand while preparing filling.

Filling
2 C shrimp, cooked, peeled and diced
1/4 C capers
zest from one lemon
1 C fresh herbs, minced
2 beaten eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough out to 1/2" thickness and place into tart pans. Spoon the filling into the circles,

Bake for 45 minutes  30 minutes (45 minutes was too long, next time I'll shorten it), or until crust is crisp and golden brown. Serve at room temperature with a crab garnish.

Garnish
1 C cooked crab meat
juice and zest from one lemon
2 T fresh herbs
freshly ground sea salt
freshly ground pepper
pumpkin oil

Mix the crab meat with the lemon juice. Season to taste with the salt and pepper. Spoon the garnish on top of the tarts, sprinkle with zest and pumpkin oil right before serving.

Fenneled Pumpkin Soup {Local Thanksgiving}


I really wanted to call this a pumpkin 'bisque'; that sounds more sexy than pumpkin 'soup'. But then I did some reading and realized that you can't categorize something as a bisque unless it has fish stock as its base. So...this is fenneled pumpkin soup made with pumpkin puree from the bounty of Borchard Farms pumpkins I had gotten for a pumpkin baby shower last month. I roasted and pureed all of the leftovers, stocking my freezer for things such as this.

Ingredients

  • 1 C diced bacon
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and diced
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 6 C pumpkin puree
  • 10 C organic chicken stock
  • 1/2 C orange juice
  • 2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 t smoked paprika
  • 1 t fennel seeds
  • freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
  • persimmons, peeled and julienned for garnish


Procedure
In a souppot, cook the bacon pieces until they begin to brown but are not crispy. Add the fennel and garlic and cook until the fennel begins to caramelize. Add the pumpkin, chicken stock, fennel seeds and orange juice. Simmer until the soup begins to thicken. Stir in lemon juice, smoked paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with julienned persimmons.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Kourambiedes-Crusted Tart


Unbelievable! My mom called and asked, "you didn't need those cookie crumbs, did you?" YES! "Oh, we ate them today." OH, BROTHER! So I had to make some more Kourambiedes crumbles before our Thanksgiving feast tomorrow.


And because I had some extra dough, I decided to press it into a mini tart pan. After baking this in a 350 degree oven till golden, I made an impromptu Kourambiedes-crusted tart: tart crust smeared with lemon curd, topped with honey-sweetened Greek yogurt, and sprinkled with raw turbinado sugar.

Plum Liqueur {Local Thanksgiving}

Back in July, when our friends were out of town for the summer, they asked me to rescue some of their plums. I made a plum-vanilla jam and I did the first part of making this liqueur, halving the plums and drowning them in vodka.

Now that it's Thanksgiving, this is finally ready. I strained out the chunks, bottled the liqueur, and gave it a taste. Delish!

Rhubarb Liqueur 2012 {Local Thanksgiving}

Back in July, I chopped up some organic, locally-grown rhubarb and drowned it in vodka for the first part of making rhubarb liqueur. Just in time for Thanksgiving, it's finally ready!

The second part is so simple, it hardly bears blogging...except that it's gorgeous and delicious!

Strain out the rhubarb chunks, bottle, and enjoy. Cheers!

Spiced Peanut Butter Cookies

"Mom, I need cookies THIS big [picture hand gestures showing a cookie about the size of his head]. And I want them to be peanut butter cookies." ~Riley


These giant peanut butter cookies are part of an elaborate goody-bag project for our Thanksgiving guests...all concocted by my 10-year-old. I'll post photos of his creations later. But here's the one Jake snagged for breakfast. Yes, breakfast. Well, it does have protein...

1 C organic granulated sugar
1 C packed organic brown sugar
1 C butter, room temperature
1 C organic crunchy peanut butter
2 eggs
1 T unsulphered molasses
1 t pure vanilla extract
1 t ground ginger
2 C white whole wheat flour
1/2 C ground almonds
1-1/2 t baking soda
1 t baking powder

Beat the butter and sugars together until creamy. Mix in the peanut butter, molasses, vanilla, and eggs. Mix together the dry ingredients - flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir the dry ingredients into the sugar-butter mixture.

Preheat oven to 375°F. While the oven preheats, place the dough in the freezer.  For normal cookies, shape dough into 1 inch balls. Place about 3 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten in crisscross pattern with a fork. Bake until light brown, 9 to 10 minutes. Cool on baking sheets for a minute; transfer to rack to cool completely. 

For Riley's giant cookies, I took small handfuls of dough and made hamburger-sized patties. No kidding! I baked the giants for 18 minutes.

Our Locally-Inspired Thanksgiving

With a little bit of tweaking here and there to accommodate my mushroom-averse friend and what I actually had from our CSA box and at the markets this week, here's the actual menu for our Thanksgiving feast, celebrating the bounty of our county. I used organic and locally-sourced ingredients as much as possible, but we all know that vanilla doesn't grow on the Monterey Peninsula. So, it's as much as I could do....

Photos and recipes to come.

Grissini

Grissini are pencil-sized breadsticks that originated in the Turin-area of Italy. I decided that I needed to serve a bouquet of grissini with my pumpkin soup for Thanksgiving. Of course I could have picked up a package for less than $5, but where's the culinary adventure in that?!?

So, here's my first attempt; I used this recipe from the L.A. Times as a jumping off point. I used whole wheat flour and added ground almonds; I seasoned mine with porcini salt and freshly ground pepper. Success! I can't wait to serve these at our feast.

1/2 C warm water
1 T active dry yeast
1 t organic raw sugar
1 1/4 C white whole wheat flour
1/2 C ground almonds
2 T olive oil
porcini salt and freshly ground pepper

1. In a large bowl, combine the warm water with the yeast, sugar and 1 C of the white whole wheat flour. Let bloom for 10 minutes.

2. Stir in the remaining flour, ground almonds, olive oil and salt and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Coat the bowl with a thin layer of olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

3. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into four pieces. Between two pieces of parchment paper, roll out each piece into a rectangle, 4 x 12 inches. Cut the dough lengthwise into inch-wide strips. Then roll into long, thin breadsticks. Place the strips about one-half-inch apart on a greased baking sheet or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.


4. Season with a sprinkling of porcini salt, freshly ground pepper, or whatever spice you choose. Bake the grissini, in batches, on the top shelf of the oven until lightly browned, about 15 minutes, rotating halfway through. Cool on a rack and continue until all the grissini are baked. Cool completely, then store in an air-tight bag, being careful not to break them.

11/26/2012 Update: This post has been added to The Clever Chicks Blog Hop #10. Thanks for the invitation to join the party, Kathy!

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