Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Nibs! 100 Days of Recipes, Day 50

Or rather, Return of the Nibs! And let me take a moment to acknowledge that I finally reached the half way point of what didn't seem to be such a grand undertaking at the beginning. I also remind you, gentle reader, that it's not necessarily a daily undertaking, and that some days will just be on the Instagram feed. But I digress...

I ran out of cacao nibs a little while ago, and didn't think much of it, until I went to make a smoothy. Out of nibs, oh well. Hmm.... not quite as wonderful as it usually is. Went to make a salad. Out of nibs, oh well. hmm... it's just missing ... something. Thought about making cookies for someone. Out of nibs - that's a deal breaker now for my chocolate chip cookies, so it finally dawned on me that I needed more nibs. I was a nibs needer. 

Cacao Nibs, from The French Broad Chocolate Lounge

I know that nibs have become one of the new foodie darling trends, so they are much easier to find than in the days of yore, when after explaining to someone what they were, you had to then explain to them WHY you wanted them. And if you didn't know, cacao nibs are cacao beans that have been roasted, separated from their husks, and broken into smaller pieces. There have been all kinds of nutritional benefits that actually date back thousands of years, both for the nibs and the dark chocolate products that are made with the cacao bean. That's all very attractive, but my own experience with nibs started with a visit to The Happiest Place On Earth, which of course is the French Broad Chocolate Lounge. It was there I first tasted the 'Nibby Brownie' - dark chocolate goodness that would be a fine brownie just by itself, but the added texture and flavor boost from the nibs just puts it over the top. I tried nibs myself for the first time in a chocolate chip and dried cherry cookie, and I was hooked. When I read about the nib's 'super food' qualities, I looked for other ways to add it to things, like my smoothies and salads. When the Chocolate Lounge started selling nibs, it was an even happier day as I knew they would be sourced with as much love and care as all the products (including my mugs!) that they sell.

I toodled on down to the Chocolate Lounge yesterday, determined to end my nib drought, but when I went inside Chocolate + Milk, my heart skipped a beat - No Nibs!!! Lucky for me, the Manager, Melissa, was there and somehow she sensed my distress (not sure how, I'm sure I was so subtle!), and she called over to the Chocolate Factory and learned that they had some precious nibs. Double win - I would get my nibs AND I would get to visit the Chocolate Factory. I'm sure you can add years to your life just by walking in the door of the French Broad Chocolate Factory and inhaling deeply. Two bags of nibs in hand (along with a bar, and a bag or two of the truffle packs by the register - such chocolate pushers they are!) later, I was on my way home to revel in a nib-filled world.

All that (and it did go on!) to say, I have nibs, and the next several entires in my 100 Day Project may indeed feature ... wait for it ... nibs.

Today's entry, and one of my favorite dishes:

Fruity, nibby salad

One grapefruit, sectioned and sitting in its own juices, plus a handful of walnuts, some frozen blueberries, a handful of nibs, a drizzle of pomegranate vinegar, and a light sprinkle of large-flake salt. 

Happy Hump Day to all, and may you always have nibs.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Progressive Toast: 100 Days of Recipes, Day 49

You know that thing where you've made a new dish, it's really tasty yet while you're eating it you're thinking about what you want to do to it the next time you make it? Well that happened.

Last night's Market Veggie sandwich gave me some ideas, and that turned into today's lunch:

I love how food pops on this tenmoku-glazed small plate. And I love how the
plate pops on this tea-cup towel!

Toasted levain, with Roots' Mango Sriracha Hummus, some cucumbers, radish sprouts, and a drizzle of pomegranate vinegar. Crusty, spicy, cool, fresh, sweet, crunchy, and just a bit of a twang. Every bite a delight.

Monday, May 29, 2017

More Market Delights: 100 Days of Recipes, Day 48

It seems like it was JUST Day 47, and suddenly it's a week later, pots have been made, bisque fired, glazed, and as of earlier this evening, fired. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

My beautiful Birthday Cake, made by my friend Lindsey - it's
got a bottom layer of dates and nuts, a layer of cashew creme,
and a top layer of strawberry cashew creme, with fruit and other edibles.
Birthday celebrations last week provided fun and delicious meals through the week, and hitting the Tailgate Market on my way to the studio for glazing on Saturday kept me stocked with goodies, even if I was too tired to do much with them.

Birthday dinner with friends at the newly opened Jargon,
someplace I will return to often!
Tonight after the firing, I had plans to cook up a nice piece of fish, but three 12-hour days in a row cast a strong vote for no cooking. Luckily, my bounty from the Market gave me a perfect and satisfying meal of lightly toasted levain, a schmear of mayo, beautiful cucumbers, radishes, and radish sprouts. 

Perfect light meal that tastes of late Spring.

A lovely taste of the season.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Luscious Stack o' Leftovers: 100 Days of Recipes, Day 47

Or, fun with a canape cutter.

From the Sweet Potato Polenta, and a flattened version of Mom's Meatballs comes this lovely way of playing with my food:

So much fun playing with leftovers - I also had fun playing with my plates.
I took my trusty little canape cutter, and cut rounds of the leftover polenta. For each serving, a round of polenta and a round of meatball were heated on my Foreman Grill. Meanwhile, I cooked down some onions in herbed butter, then some spinach, also with light seasoning. While a sunny-side up egg slowly cooked, I started playing with the elements. A bed of spinach, then the polenta, some of the onions... When the egg was just right, I hit it with the cutter, and placed the cut parts of the whites on top of the polenta and onions. Next was the flat meatball, more onions, the egg, and a garnish of garlic chives (that had been in the onion saute). 

It's still rainy, but I'm ready to move back into the fresh foods of the season. This has been some comfort food fun, though!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Sweet Potato Polenta: 100 Days of Recipes, Day 46

Thanks to a rainy, cooler turn in the unusually warm weather we've been having, and to a prompt from Instagrammer @glennbenglish and inspiration from my current book companion (and kitchen bff), I veered off the salad road and onto Comfort Food Lane last night. In Glenn's post, he described making Sweet Potato Grits, which I've done a version of in the past (not as refined as his description, which I will most definitely try!). Sunday was the second day of Studio Stroll, and it was rainy and cool all day, and after slogging around the studio grounds taking down pennants in the rain, I was ready for something warming and comforting, so I headed home with visions of Sweet Potato Grits in my head.

My ingredients: delicious cornmeal from East Fork Farm,
a sweet potato, veggie broth (I love making my own stock,
but always keep some on hand for those long days), and
inspiration from my bff cookbook.
As with so many of my brilliant recipe ideas, I got home and discovered I didn't have all the proper ingredients. I was out of grits, but had some cornmeal. What's the diff, you say? For me, it's in the texture, and a more finely ground cornmeal is for Polenta, not Grits. Not sad, because I had just read a chapter in "The Pleasures of Cooking for One" by my kitchen bff Judith Jones, and she included a recipe for a baked Polenta that is how I love making it most, so Sweet Potato Polenta (because I'm almost never without sweet potatoes)!

Baking in handmade is easy, just heat it with the oven!
Place the sweet potatoes, cornmeal, and seasonings in the pot.

Pour heated broth on top of sweet potatoes and corn meal.

Stir it all together, making sure the cornmeal is well mixed with
the sweet potatoes and the broth.
I had also been wanting to make up a batch of my Mom's Meatballs, but to avoid the stove top spatter of cooking meatballs, and because I was tired and didn't want to stand in the kitchen while things cooked when I could be on the floor with my legs against the wall, I spread the paté out thinly on a baking sheet and baked it 'a la' my meatloaf, with a schmear of sriracha tomato paste on top. I used a canape cutter when it came out of the oven, and had cute, little flat meatballs to go with my polenta!

Comfort dinner on a rainy night accomplished.

Easy prep and great comfort food meal in a warm, stoneware bowl on a rainy night. 
Sweet Potato Polenta
(inspired by the aforementioned InstaPost, and Judith Jones' recipe for "Baked Polenta with Vegetables", 
in The Pleasures of Cooking for One, Alfred A. Knopf, 2009)

2 small sweet potatoes, peeled, steamed or boiled, and mashed with a bit of butter
2 cups vegetable broth
2/3 cup fine ground cornmeal
1/2 tsp salt
several grinds of pepper

I cooked this in one of my ceramic bakers, so I did not pre-heat the oven. If you're using pyrex or other baking dishes, you can pre-heat to 350 degrees.

Bring the vegetable broth to a light simmer, then turn off the heat.

Place the mashed sweet potatoes in the baker. Sprinkle the polenta on top, and add the salt and pepper. Pour the heated veggie broth on top, and stir carefully to fully blend.

Place the baker in a cold oven, then set the temp to 350. Bake for about 30 minutes, and check to see that the liquid has been absorbed. Let cool just slightly before spooning into a bowl. Grate a little pecorino on top if you like.

Also like many of my favorite recipes, I'm already thinking of what I can do with the leftovers...

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

French Toast: 100 Days of Recipes, Day 43

Actually, this might better be named the syrup that you might put on French Toast, but I'll include both recipes.

How this came about: I was gifted the most beautiful levain loaf by my friend and wicked-talented baker Beth, of Sweet Daisy Bakeshop fame, and when I got home with it, I realized that I hadn't had any beautifully made local bread in far too long, so French Toast for dinner was the only logical solution!

I always have eggs on hand from Mudluscious Gardens, so I knew the toast part would be great, but horror of horror, I'm out of Vermont Maple Syrup (yes, it has to be). Not to worry, there are plenty of odd jars of this and that around, and I'm pretty pleased with what resulted.

This is a scavenge-type recipe, so amounts are .... 'to taste'. As for the French Toast, that also changes from time to time - this time, it was as follows. 

A side note to say that this bread is a round loaf, so to get a good slice for the French Toast, I had to lop off a piece, cutting about 3" into the loaf. That means the slices that followed would be nice sized ovals that would make for great servings. It also means I had a lovely 3" piece of bread "end" that was just sitting there, daring me to wait until the French Toast was done to taste its goodness. I lost that dare. Worth it.

French Toast on one of my favorite plate designs. The copper
blue/green glaze creates a beautiful frame.
French Toast with Strawberry-Jalapeno-Fig Syrup and Caramelized Bananas

For two generous slices of levain (will feed two normal servings or one "I don't care how this looks I'm eating it all" serving).

1 egg
1/3 cup cashew milk (or milk of your choice)
pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 large slices from the loaf of levain, or 4 slices of your favorite bread for the occasion

Beat the egg, and mix in the next four ingredients. Dredge the bread in the egg mix. Heat a skillet or griddle to med/high heat, and place the dipped bread in the skillet. Turn after it's golden brown (time will vary depending on how thick you slice it!), and serve with fresh or prepared fruit and syrup of your choice.

The Bananas: 

1 banana, sliced into 1/2" discs
Pomegranate Molasses
1 small nob of butter

When you finish the last of the toast slices, drop the nob of butter in the skillet, then toss in the banana slices. Stir to coat, then drizzle some molasses on top - maybe about a TBSP total, but more or less depending on the size of your banana. Stir lightly to coat, being careful not to mush up the bananas as they get warm and soft. Carefully flip them over after about a minute, then let them cook on that side only about another 30 seconds. Put them on top of the cooked French Toast Slices.

Strawberry-Jalapeno-Fig Syrup

If you happen to have the same jars of jam in your fridge as I do, then you can make this. Or, you can use other jars of jam, and instead of the popsicle you can use a bit of juice or even water.

Strawberry-Jalapeno Jam*
Fig Preserves*
All-fruit popsicle (this was a mixed-berry pop)

Put a generous dollop (amount dependent on how much French Toast you want to cover!) of the jam and preserve in a small sauce pan over med-low heat. Take the popsicle off the stick, and add that to the pan. Let it all melt, stirring to mix thoroughly. Pour this over the bananas and the French Toast.

Optional: Zest a lemon and cut it up into thin strips and sprinkle on top.

*the jam was gifted to me by the maker, so if you don't make your own jam, get someone to make it, it's great! Same suggestion for the figs, but if you're in the Asheville area you can find great Fig Preserves at the Gypsy Queen Market & Deli.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Salad with Seared Salmon - 100 Days of Recipes: Day 42

More salad! I'm just now getting to the end of the veggies I got at the tailgate market over a week ago. $50 spent at the market seems a bit steep, but when I can get meals for over a week, it's money very well spent. Even the salmon came from that trip, initially going into the freezer, and coming out for a thaw and a quick sear to make this meal.

Simple Salad of greens, roasted sweet potato, turnips & carrots,
pickled onions, walnuts, and a quickly seared salmon fillet.
For the salmon, after rinsing it and patting it dry with a paper towel, I gave it a very light coating of olive oil, and some salt and pepper on each side. I heated a heavy-bottomed skillet on med/high (our studio stove top cooks pretty hot, but you do want a hot pan!), and I started the salmon skin-side down. It stayed that way for about 6 minutes - I could see the pink turning lighter on the skin side, and after about 6 minutes I could move the fillet around the pan. I flipped it over for another minute, and then removed it to the cutting board. What you don't see in the picture is the crispy skin - kinda ate that while I was cutting up the salmon and plating. The salad was lightly dressed in the last of my balsamic vinaigrette, and then topped with the salmon.

I don't usually eat salad with chopsticks, but I love these bowls and the way they frame the food they hold, and one thing I love about eating with chopsticks is that you slow down. At least I slow down - it's kind of fun to pick up the individual parts of the salad and enjoy all the flavors. Of course you don't HAVE to use chopsticks with my chopsticks bowls, but it turned a quick studio lunch into a lovely dining experience all around. I'm just glad I used walnuts instead of sunflower seeds. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mom's Meatballs - 100 Days of Recipes: Day 41

Mom's Meatballs ...
... or if we're being completely accurate, My Mom's Mom's Meatballs!

First, to all who are moms, and to all who have moms, Happy Mother's Day! Today I'm sharing a recipe, to be sure, but it's really more of the story behind the recipe that I love so much. In fact, even knowing I wanted to post this today, I didn't manage to actually MAKE the recipe to take pictures, so I'm sharing images of my beautiful mom with the story, and trust me you'll want to make these, they're good!


Mom has always had a great sense of style and design!
My mom was born in French Morocco - Casablanca, actually, and I've paraphrased the story of how she talked her way into working on the American Air Force Base when she was still quite young, and how she was constantly woo-ed by all the fly boys, and she met both my father and my future step-father there (just wait for the book!).

Working at the Air Force Base
While she was dating my father, she would bring him home to her family (parents, 3 brothers, 6 sisters - not intimidating at all!) and one of his favorite meals there was my grandmother's recipe for spaghetti and meatballs.

Wedding in Morocco with my mom's immediate family - quite a good looking crowd!

So big flash forward, my parents married - three times, to be exact, for families and country, but that's another chapter in the book! My mom arrives to the US, and having never cooked for a household, is working to 'set up house' while also learning English and all the very different American customs. She really wanted to make her mom's spaghetti with meatballs for my dad, so she did what many young housewives do - she called her mom! She brought some of the spices of her family kitchen with her, which was a good thing as the seasonings in this recipe weren't as easy to get in a grocery store in the early 1950's as they are today. She made the meatballs and a nice batch of tomato sauce, but couldn't remember what exactly to do with the dry spaghetti. It was also no small feat to call Morocco in the early 1950's, so she had to figure this out on her own. She knew they ended up in the sauce, so she figured, why not just cook them in the sauce? So into her beautiful pot of tomato sauce and meatballs went the dry spaghetti.

I'll pause here to say that even if I were making this recipe in time to photograph for this post, I wouldn't go as far as a full recreation, because what she ended up with was a nice, big pot of gloppy spaghetti, having sucked up a good bit of the sauce but turning it into more of a stringy, chunky tomato dumpling/sauce. Happy ending of course, because my dad, being the good new husband, happily ate the meatballs!

A long story to say that foods cooked with love, even when they turn into gloppy messes, can be successful, because it's the love that comes out in the end. And if you have these meatballs, that helps, too.

Mom's Meatballs

(another note to say that these measurements are my approximate guesses, as recipes like this come with general instructions of "you need some ...." because of course you've made this enough times to know how much of each you need! As with anything in life, spice to your own tastes, but maybe use a little more than you think is right, and see what happens!)

1 lb. ground beef
2 cloves garlic, crushed and finely chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1 TBSP fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 small onion, grated, with juices squeezed out*
1 small potato, grated, with juices squeezed out*
1 carrot, grated, with juices squeezed out*
1 green pepper, grated, with juices squeeze out*
1 egg
1 piece of day old bread, soaked in water or milk, with excess liquid squeezed out

*you can pulse these veggies in the food processor, then squeeze the juices out together (save them for a soup stock!!).

Put all the prepared ingredients into the food processor and pulse/blend until well incorporated. You can do this by hand, but get your hands in there and make sure everything is evenly distributed.

Roll balls into sizes just larger than a quarter. Heat some oil in a fry pan, and brown them on all sides before transferring them to your sauce pot to continue and finish cooking.

Not doing the sauce recipe here - just add this to your favorite!

My beautiful mama.
Happy Mother's Day to all, but with extra love to my incredible mom, who continues to stir love into everything she does!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Avocado Toast - 100 Days of Recipes: Day 39

Avocado Toast

I can almost see some eyes rolling with the announcement of another Avocado Toast, and here's what I have to say about that:

I have been eating mashed or sliced avocado on toast for years. Until the 'fad' of Avocado Toast appeared, I just called it avocado on toast. Sometimes alone, sometimes with other stuff on it. Then it became a 'thing', and now, apparently, it's a 'passing thing'. Well I still love it, so maybe I'll just go back to calling it Avocado on Toast. And if you're over it, then don't eat it!

Not that I don't pay attention to fads, sometimes - I wouldn't have thought of using sweet potatoes as a 'toast' if it weren't also 'a thing', and I make my avocado toast that way often. Let's go to today's recipe now, because I'm tired of 'words in quotes'. :)

Avocado toast, on small stoneware plate with white salt glaze.

Avocado Toast

The truly wonderful thing about avocado toast is that the only real requirements are avocado and toast. Beyond that, it's up to you and your tastes. Today's 'recipe' (oops, I did it again) is simply:

Toasted whole grain bread
1/2 avocado, mashed with salt and pepper
1/2 hard boiled egg, lightly sprinkled with salt/pepper
a generous squirt of Sriracha

In that order, refer to the image if you need additional instruction. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Beet Greens Soup: 100 Days of Recipes, Day 38

It's been a good while since I've done weekend shopping and cooked from that all week - it seems that in the past couple of years, it's been a day to day pondering, with the exception of making a large batch of something that lasts 2-3 days. "The Pleasures of Cooking for One", my current cookbook muse, is motivating me to create meals that feed into other meals, and is reminding me to think differently about all parts of the foods I'm using.  Today's "recipe" will take you through what I did yesterday, and while I am not writing this out in recipe form, if you read it all, the recipe is in there!

I'm a huge fan of leftovers and throwing things together with 'scraps', and reading this book in combination with recently discovering the Instagram feed called 'cookscraps' is giving me all kinds of great ideas!

All the bits and ends from weekend cooking and prep - soon to be a yummy stock!

Over the weekend, I started by preparing some salads for the week, and I tossed all the stems, peelings, ends and little bits left over into a stock pot with some water and a few herbs, and simmered a lovely veggie stock throughout an evening. I took that to the studio yesterday, with the rest of my beets, kale, garlic scapes, some onions, sweet potatoes, a random few mushrooms and carrot.

Note: Beet leaves are also great added to other greens in saute,
or even thinly sliced and added to other soups
I chopped up the beet stems and kale bones and softened them in a bit of the stock with a small spoon of coconut oil, adding more stock as I kept chopping stems and the liquid reduced. I also chopped up the onion, bulbs and greens of the garlic scapes and added that. And I finely chopped up about 2" of ginger and added that with about 1 tsp each of cumin, cayenne, smoked paprika, and turmeric. While that simmered away, I cut down the beet greens and kale, then added that to the pot with the rest of the stock (I had 2 quarts total), put a lid on it, reduced the heat to a high simmer, and let it do its thing until the greens and stems were completely tender. While that was happening, I peeled and cut 2 small sweet potatoes into cubes, peeled the beets, cutting the larger ones into smaller pieces, and cut the mushrooms into quarters. Those were tossed with a slight drizzle of olive oil and seasoned with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika, and roasted in a 400 degree oven until tender, but not overly soft. 

Green soup: pre-blend. I had gallery activity during the blending, so didn't photograph that part.
I forgot my immersion blender at home, but we have a small blender at the studio, so I did a few batches of the soup in the blender to get it all smoothed out (*tip: when pureeing hot soup in a blender, don't fill it all the way up, and drape a kitchen towel over the top before you go - the heat will expand out when you do, and if you're not holding on and/or if your lid isn't tight, it will pop off and shower you with hot soup. I did not find this out the hard way, I witnessed it years ago in a kitchen and never forgot!)

The pureed soup was returned to the stock pot, but it was thinner than I had hoped. We didn't have much for thickening, but luckily I had been busy enough that I never got around to my own breakfast, so I harvested some uncooked oats and walnuts, tossed them in the blender with a cup of the puree, and created a nice thickener to add back to the pot, along with the roasted veggies.

What resulted was a lovely, thick, maybe not velvety but smooth enough, green soup with a delightful depth of flavor.

Sexy, velvety soup with roasted vegetables over soft vegetable polenta.
As I was cooking at the studio, I was cooking for more than one, and we wanted to stretch the soup a bit more (and add a starch for those who wanted it). I hadn't planned for that, so another quick tour of the studio kitchen cupboards gave us our solution: a bag of grits and a can of vegan vegetable soup. I brought the soup, plus two cans of water to a simmer in a small pot. Meanwhile, we picked a casserole pan out of the backstock inventory (a beautiful piece by my studio mate Sarah Wells Rolland - we were all so hungry by the time this was done, it wasn't until later that I realized we never took a picture of that!). It got a quick 'greasing' with coconut oil, then 2 cups of grits, salt and pepper and mixed that together. The simmered soup/sauce was poured on top, mixed well, and the casserole was placed in the cold oven. We set that to 350, and about 35 minutes later, the grit/polenta was stirred up, then baked another 10-15 minutes. 

The result: a nicely seasoned soft polenta under the velvety, green soup. SO. GOOD. Note to self: I wish I had brought a lemon with me - it would have added even a touch more brightness, but I'm certainly not sad about it being left out!

PS - I ended up with yet MORE scraps that went into a bag. When the bag is full of other bits and ends, I'll start another round of stock. And so it goes on...

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Salad Days Continue! 100 Days of Recipes: Day 37

Salad Days Continue!

A quickie post today, because when you have great, fresh salad ingredients, and you have delicious roast chicken in the fridge, you have lunch - all the things from the jar in my previous post, plus strawberries, and the leftover roast chicken. Mixed up a quick balsamic vinaigrette to lightly dress, and served it up in one of my 'big salad' bowls. Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Roasted Chicken Thighs. 100 Days of Recipes: Day 36

Roasted Chicken Thighs

current reading
I'm not really intending to just cook my way through "The Pleasures of Cooking for One" from start to finish, but as it happens, I picked up some lovely chicken thighs at the Tailgate Market, and her very first recipe is for a Broiled or Roasted Chicken that just hit the spot. Actually, it's the first formal recipe, as the introductory writing in the first chapter is a recipe of sorts on general kitchen preparation. I was pleased to read a lot of what I already have and do, and that we share the belief that cooking is "an ongoing process, one dish leading to another," (Pleasures of Cooking for One, p.4) and she has a lot of lovely, handmade pottery throughout her images, which makes Judith Jones my kitchen BFF. I also got a giggle out of this section:

fresh garlic scapes and young onions were my substitutions 
It wasn't in the list of essential equipment, but I thought a
mezzaluna would have been great to mince up these aromatics.
Then again, I do love my kitchen knives of all sorts!

"... If you don't happen to have an ingredient that I suggest, try a likely substitute - a shallot for a small onion, some fennel instead of celery, a different root vegetable to replace the ubiquitous carrot, dried mushrooms for fresh. Above all, don't throw away those few tablespoons of cooked spinach, or the three or four extra spears of asparagus you couldn't quite finish, and particularly the little bit of precious juice left in the pan - all these can be used in myriad ways and offer the single home cook some creative challenges."
(Pleasures of Cooking for One, p5)

It tickles me because so often when I'm sharing recipes, I'm usually sharing lists of optional replacements, and a friend recently noted the extreme number of "small jars" in my fridge - all with bits of this and that leftover from some previous meal.

I digress - so the first recipe I come to in the book is for Broiled Chicken, and in what I think is the very spirit intended, I immediately see how I can change it up to suit my ingredients. Here's what I did:

Roast Chicken

4 Bone-in, Skin-on Chicken Thighs

for the Herbal Undercoating:
1 Garlic Scape bulb, peeled and cleaned
1 good size, or two small spring onion bulbs, with about 3-4 inches of the greens, too
2 strips of lemon peel
handful of parsley leaves
fresh ground pepper
2 TBSP olive oil

Accompanying Veg:
1 small Sweet potato, cut into wedges
3-4 med/large mushrooms, cleaned and cut in half or quarters
3-4 baby turnips, cleaned and trimmed and cut in half
1 small carrot, in thick slices across the round
salt and pepper

I prepped and cooked this dish in one of my ceramic pie plates, so I did not pre-heat the oven, but put it in cold and then set it to 375. More on that later, but if you're not cooking in handmade ceramic, you can pre-heat your oven to 375 and use a roasting pan.

Rinse and pat dry the thighs, and place them skin-side up in the pie plate. 

Prep the Undercoating*:
Finely chop the garlic scape, onion bulb, and green onion with a good sprinkle of salt to a coarse paste texture. Chop up the lemon peel and parsley, and add it to the other and chop/mince it all together with the olive oil. Add a generous amount of fresh ground pepper. Divide out the mixture in four parts, and after creating an opening and separation of the skin on the thigh, push 1/4 of the undercoating mix under the skin of each thigh, pressing on the top of the skin to help spread it evenly. Salt and pepper the skin side, then flip them over and salt and pepper the other side (leave skin side down). 

You may most certainly bake/roast in handmade ceramic -
Just heat the dish with the oven. There are very few recipes that
truly require a 'pre-heated' oven. The flavors develop beautifully.
It's kind of like chicken pot pie - the extreme 'gluten-free' version!
When you cut your accompanying veg, place them all in a bowl, and give a very slight drizzle of olive oil over them, tossing them to get them all coated. Salt and pepper them, and then add them to the pie plate with the chicken.

Place the pie plate in a cold oven, then set it to 375 degrees. In a pre-heated oven, you might roast the chicken 20-25 minutes, then flip them skin side up and roast for another 10 minutes. Starting in a cold oven, you will have to adjust that a bit, maybe just adding another 5-10 minutes for the warm up. I flipped the chicken after about 35 minutes, and the skin was nicely done, but I worried about over cooking, so decided to re-crisp the skin under the broiler. That was a great idea, but a slight distraction caused me to check it about 3-4 minutes later than intended. Everything was still DELICIOUS, if not a bit charred here and there. Extra flavor.

Roasted in handmade, served on handmade, and delicious!
*I'm sharing my take on this wonderful recipe, and I don't know how available or hard to find this book is, but I highly recommend seeking it out if you don't have it, because her own style of describing a process, along with some other very cook tips and tricks that I didn't include, are in the book. Get the book.

Another good thing to come out of prepping this meal, and as encouraged in the book, I had a good bit of vegetable bits and ends, and I brewed up a nice pot of veggie stock that will become a soup later this week. Stay tuned!

Monday, May 8, 2017

It's Salad Season! 100 Days of Recipes: Day 35

It's Salad Season!

Salads of some sort are in season year-round, but in my area, the Tailgate Markets are starting to overflow with wonderful greens and veggies, as well as similar bounties from farmers bringing eggs, cheeses, poultry, meat, and fish. Omnivores and vegans alike will find endless options!

As noted in yesterday's blog, I loaded up on good salad fixings to add to the goodies I get from Mudluscious Gardens every week. I'm also trying to better prepare myself for studio workdays - as much as I love having 12 Bones BBQ and a daily food truck behind our studio, I love cooking and preparing my own meals, too!

Two days of salad yumminess!

Today's lunchbox will include a lovely jar o' salad: salad greens, walnuts, mushrooms, carrots, roasted sweet potatoes, baby turnips, baby beets, and kale. I also have some of the garlic scapes and spring onions finely sliced in some balsamic vinegar and salt, a nice 6 minute egg, and some avocado. I've got a nice dinner planned for tonight inspired by the book I mentioned yesterday, and leftovers from that will no doubt find a place on tomorrow's salad!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Farmer's Market and Weekly Prep - 100 Days of Recipes: Day 34

Not only did I come home from 90 degree Florida with a bit of a late Spring cold, I came home to true Spring weather - rainy, colder, and rainy. I hear lots of moans around me, but I LOVE it! I love all four seasons, but my favorites are those that really have a little of everything. Well maybe not everything, but the cool nights and early mornings and breezy, warm but not too warm days that come in early Spring and late Fall are my favorites.

Yesterday I bundled up to hit my favorite Tailgate Market, and it did not disappoint! My lingering cold slowed me down from getting there when they opened, and I thought the cold might slow others down, but it was packed when I arrived, and my favorite mushrooms were already sold out. I did, however, find lots of early spring greens, veggies, and ALL the strawberries! 

The salad greens came in my weekly Mudluscious Farms delivery, and I found baby beets
and turnips, garlic scapes, spring onions, kale, and strawberries at the North Asheville Tailgate
(along with a yummy vegan scone and coffee that didn't last to make the picture!)
There was no cooking yesterday - it was first day back in the studio, finishing up some packing from the last kiln, a bit of studio organization, and some warm up platters at the wheel before joining studio mates with a bit of gallery re-arranging. Taco Billy sustained me at the studio, and nibbling on my market finds with leftover mac & cashew cheese became dinner.

My fridge and pantry have been filled, from Mudluscious, the Tailgate, and a quick stop at Hopey & Co. for fill-ins, and I'll start prepping ingredients and planning meals today to take me through the week.

A side note on an unintentional, yet lately acknowledged, tradition of sorts. Every year at Christmas, good friends come to stay, and one of our regular traditions is to make pilgrimage to Mr. K's Bookstore. We have a leisurely visit, and I try to limit myself but always walk out with a small armload of books. These books, it seems, are what I go to when I travel. I don't have as many long, uninterrupted periods of time to read as I'd like, but between getting to the airport early enough to navigate a long tsa line to layovers and delays, traveling by air is a great time to read. I've traveled to Florida several times this year, and I noticed on this trip that I was going to my "Mr. K's" stack of books each time for my reading companion.

Current reading...
So when I was preparing to leave for the most recent trip, I grabbed the book at the top of the stack, and it was "The Pleasures of Cooking for One" by Judith Jones. Anyone who knows me knows that I love cooking for others, so the title wasn't the immediate draw! What caught my eye in the bookstore was the author, Judith Jones - a name I immediately recognized as the editor for many cookbooks I owned, by Julia Child, James Beard, and others. I knew immediately I'd love to read her perspective on cooking, and even though I love to cook for the leftovers, I figured it never hurts to have new tricks and tips for putting together quick meals for one.

I read the introduction waiting for my first flight out, and by the time I finished that one section, I knew I would savor every word on every page of this book - I'll be sharing some morsels with you in the coming posts to be sure, but for now I'm off to take inspiration from this passage from her introduction:

"...there is something about going home at the end of the day or giving over a quiet Sunday afternoon to cooking - smashing the garlic, chopping an onion, getting all those good cooking smells going, stirring, and tasting mindfully, and then adjusting the seasonings - that makes us feel creative." (The Pleasures of Cooking for One, Introduction, by Judith Jones)

Friday, May 5, 2017

Mac and Cashew Cheese. 100 Days of Recipes: Day 32

I thought I'd get further in than 21 days before a major gap occurred in my 100 days, but I'm glad it's happened so I don't have to fret it! 

The past 11 days, some of which you'll find on the Instagram account, have included the frantic finish of production into a glazing and firing cycle, followed by unloading, sorting, packing, delivering, and shipping pots. That was followed by a trip to Florida to see my folks and help them with a yard sale, returning late Tuesday of this week, bringing with me a lovely summer cold. The cold kept me home yesterday and today, but today at least included taking care of the travel laundry, so I'll be ready to get back to the studio tomorrow!

I haven't been out to get fresh fruits/veg since I've been back, so all my comfort cooking this week has come from the fridge and pantry (I can't wait to get to the farmer's market tomorrow!). Today's recipe may have already appeared in the blog, but it's been a perfect comfort lunch on a slightly cooler, rainy day.

Sick Day Comfort Food: Mac & cashew cheese, with peas
& finely crumbled turkey bacon

Cashew Cheese Sauce (for mac & cheese)

This cashew based 'cheese' sauce is great to sauce your mac, or to use as you would any light cheese sauce. You can make it more hollandaise-like with a bit more lemon, or cheese it up even more by adding more nutritional yeast. 

1 1/2 cups raw cashews
3 TBSP fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp. chili powder (or cayenne)
1/2 clove garlic, smashed
1/2 tsp. mustard

(this makes enough to dress 16 oz. pasta)

Process the cashews in a food processor. First they will chop up, then as they continue to process, it will ball up, then get more paste-y. That's where you want it to be.

Add the rest of the ingredients and process to blend well. 

If you're making 'mac & cheese', cook 16 oz. of pasta to your 'dente' choice. Drain and return to the pan, adding the sauce and stirring to blend and heat.