Monthly Archives: June 2009

asian noodle salad

 

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it’s hot. i don’t know about where you live, but here in texas, we are approaching almost two week’s worth of officially oppressive 100 degree (and above) weather. i made the bad decision to bake a cake at 5:00 o’clock in the afternoon the other day. i learned my lesson. no more cooking inside until this passes. i boiled the noodles for this salad at 8:00 o’clock in the morning and that’s the last of it. it’s officially salad weather. and this is a doozy. i found it on the pioneer woman‘s website, where she gleened it from jamie oliver. she says it’s her favorite salad ever. ever. ever.  and i have to concur. this is one sweet salad. i love the pasta to veggie ration. as i’ve said before, this is how i justfy eating lots of pasta. the ratio between pasta and veggies needs to be at least 1:1.

asian noodle salad

this is a versatile salad in that you could swap out the veggies for what you preferred or just what you had on hand. but please don’t leave out the cilantro. it was made for a salad like this. so cool and refresing. oh, and don’t leave out the brown sugar in the dressing, as the  pioneer woman points out. it needs it to balance out the other ingredients in the dressing. otherwise, it is too bitter and completely unenjoyable. i mean, don’t even bother, ya know?

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don’t you feel healthier just looking at all those veggies? i love napa cabbage. i don’t use it enough. how about you?

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you could use any pasta you prefer. i had fettucine so that’s what i used. i also added some cashews. just a few. as a treat. peanuts or almonds would also work well.

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asian noodle salad (makes a ton)

adapted from the pioneer woman and jamie oliver

salad:

1-8 ounce package pasta-cooked al dente, drained and rinsed (if made ahead of time, be sure to add a bit of oil to them to prevent fro sticking together)

1/2 head napa cabbage, sliced thinly

1/2 head purple cabbage, sliced thinly

several large handfuls of baby spinach

1 bell pepper (red, yellow, or orange) thinly sliced

1 small bag bean sprouts (i did not use these because i hate them more than life itself…)

2 scallions, thinly sliced (green and white parts)

1 cucumber, chopped or sliced as you like

 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped

 

dressing:

juice of 1/2 lime

4 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp sesame oil

3 tbsp soy sauce

3 tbsp brown sugar

1 1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 jalapeno, finely chopped (seeds and ribs removed for minimal heat if you prefer)

more cilantro, chopped

1 cup cashews, peanuts, or almonds (optional)

 

prepare noodles and set aside. mix together salad ingredients in a very large bowl. whisk dressing ingredients together in a separate bowl and pour over noodles. add nuts, if using, toss to combine. mix salad and noodles with dressing together. can be made ahead of time but is best eaten within 24-48 hours.

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copper dog farms

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do you know these people? after you read this,  you’re gonna wish you did. this is michael & amy werst, otherwise known as the creators and caretakers of copper dog farms. not only are they some of the nicest people you will ever meet, they are also among the most unassuming and the coolest. they are normal people, just like you and me. however, they do extraordinary things. they live on an urban farm. they not only grow their own food (and much of mine and many others i know), but they also raise chickens, a rooster, dogs, ducks, and 2 beautiful children. they don’t have a website, they don’t advertise, they don’t sell their veggies and eggs at the local farmer’s market, they don’t hit ya over the head with all the good they do. they just do it. in fact, they think it amounts to highway robbery when they see the prices that are being charged for food at local farmer’s markets, and i have to say that i agree.

copper dog-michael

talk about recycling. oh, how wonderful to recycle the old recycling bins to use as planters! why didn’t i think of that? brilliant! the usual early summer suspects are here:

copper dog-basil

genovese basil. one of several varieties.

copper dog-peach tree

wouldn’t you love to have a peach tree in your back yard? what about figs or apples? yep, they’ve got those, too.

copper dog-squash blossoms

yellow crookneck and zucchini squashes. i was offered and accepted the squash blossoms on this visit, fully planning to stuff them with goat cheese and lightly saute them in olive oil. then i promptly went on vacation for 10 days and forgot about them. i cried real tears when i thought about them on the plane. houston thinks knows i’m such a food dork.

copper dog-maters

tomatoes. lotsa heirlooms and the like.

copper dog-beans

and super special stuff. i believe these are the beginnings of italian flat beans (romanos).

copper dog-allium

a garlic scape. just gorgeous. especially when simply sauteed in butter with a pinch of flaky salt.

copper dog-chicks 'n' ducks

baby chicks and ducks. oh, my word. is it wrong that i wanted to make a blankie out of one (or more) of these?

copper dog-wild thing the man

oh, and here’s big daddy, otherwise known as ‘wild thing’. or is it ‘thang’?

copper dog-michael harvesting potatoes

michael harvesting potatoes while us vultures stand around waiting for our haul.

wait, that ‘basil’ above looks an awful lots like these potato plant leaves. hmmm…

copper dog-michael musiciandid i mention in addition to planting, maintaining, harvesting, composting and everything else that has to be done to the garden beds, that michael is a professional classical musician? that’s him playing cello in the back. oh, and he also teaches music full-time to middle school students here in austin. and amy works full-time downtown, does a bang-up job taking care of the two little ones (so does michael), is smart as a whip, and is a fantastic baker? whew-i’m exhausted just thinkin’ about it all.

copper dog-water tank

gotta love the rain barrel collection tank….

the following are pictures of produce that i have taken over the past spring. the colors make me weep.

copper dog-carrots

copper dog-onion tops

copper dog-purple broccoli

copper dog-spring onions

copper dog-swiss chard

so, unfortunately for you, this not a csa that you can join. this is just a co-op between friends. some bartering takes place. pickled and canned lovelies and baked goods are sometimes handed over. donations for seed, scratch, and water are gladly given. i know i’m lucky to be in with this group of friends, believe me. it seems that every last one of has something to offer another. some are doctors, some are pet groomers, some are bartenders, some are photographers. some spend more time growing food, while others spend more time cooking it. hell, i think we even let a coupla lawyers in our group. we are a micro-society. this makes sense to me. lately, i have had such an aversion to going to the farmer’s market. it has become so frenzied and competitive. and over-priced. i am glad that people have become interested in food and eating locally. don’t get me wrong, this is a good thing. but sometimes i think we’ve turned it into such a frenetic trend that it is almost unenjoyable. this is like a bad habit. we let something good slip from our hands, allowed someone else to do it for us, then they turn around and sell it back to us. how strange we must seem to other societies. it’s time to take a step back and find your own micro-society. take what you do best and offer it to someone you feel good about and it will all fall into place. i promise.

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fresh cherry sorbet

cherry sorbet 1a

ah, the elusive and (sometimes prohibitively) expensive cherry. whether popped into the mouth fresh or stewed, to be poured over ice cream, it is a special summer treat not to be taken lightly. i had found an exceptional deal on a 3 lb box of cherries and, not wanting one cherry to go to waste, i found a way to up use 2 lbs within hours of returning home with them. if i were to pay full price however, i could not fathom spending 15-20 bucks on cherries to make 2 pints of sorbet. oh, wait, yes i could. that’s how good this is. and it’s so very easy.

cherry sorbet2

this recipe comes from a book called the perfect scoop by david lebovitz. as if his sedaris-like humor wasn’t enough, the man’s got skills. pastry skills AND frozen confection skills. mon dieu!

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if you don’t already have an ice cream maker, go out and get yourself one. i’m not big on extra gadgets and the like, but homemade ice cream just cannot be beat. if you have a kitchenaid mixer, i highly recommend the ice cream maker attachment. i just store mine in the freezer in the garage. it’s comforting to know that i can make a batch of ice cream or sorbet at a moment’s notice. you know, in case there’s was some sort of national emergency that only i could help with because i had planned ahead.

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fresh cherry sorbet (makes 1 quart)

adapted from david lebovitz

 

2 pounds fresh cherries-i used bings

1 cup water

3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar

1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/8 tsp pure almond extract or kirsh (similar to a cherry liqueur, but not sweet)

 

stem and pit cherries. place in a non-reactive saucepan with water, sugar and lemon juice over medium heat. simmer for about 10-15 minutes until cherries are softened. remove from heat and allow to come to room temperature. add extract or kirsch (resist the temptation to add more than the 1/8 teaspoon–less is more here).

place mixture in a blender and blend until smooth. allow to cool in refrigerator for at least 8-10 hours, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturers instructions.

cherry sorbet6

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strawberry shortcake cookies

cookiess1

yes. strawberry shortcake cookies. all of the flavor (and texture!) of strawberry shortcake with the ease of a cookie dough. you are welcome. i just had to sneak in one last  strawberry recipe before the season is over. it didn’t hurt that houston showed up with a pound and a half box of strawberries from work that THEY DIDN’T FINISH!! what is wrong with these people, i do not know. but they did get a batch of these cookies, so maybe they knew what they were doing after all.

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i could just dive into this bowl right now. either the bowl above OR the one below.

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the butter and cream gave the cookie a real scone or shortbread-like texture.

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sprinkle some sanding or coarse sugar on top. i used organic cane sugar. it has a very nice yet subtle crunch and a natural look due to the fact that it is unrefined.

strawberry shortcake cookies (makes about 3 dozen)

adapted from martha stewart

after you assemble the strawberry mixture and it sits while you are combining your dry ingredients, it will accumulate a large amount of liquid. i mean an alarming amount, if you have juicy strawberries like i did. you must drain this off or dough will be way too wet. i also found that refrigerating the dough for 10-15 minutes kept the butter cold enough that the cookies did not spread when they hit the hot oven.

 

12 ounces strawberries, hulled and cut into 1/4 ” dice 

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp granulated sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp coarse salt (i used kosher salt)

3 ounces (6 tbsp) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

2/3 cup heavy cream

sanding or coarse sugar to sprinkle on top

 

preheat oven to 375 degrees. combine strawberries, lemon juice, and 2 tbsp sugar. in a separate large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining 7 tbsp of sugar. cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or rub in with your fingers until butter pieces appear the size of peas (or coarse crumbs, whatever they are!). stir in cream until dough starts to come together, then stir in drained strawberry mixture.

using a small ice cream scoop or tablespoon, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper (believe me, you do not want to skimp on this step or you will have oven-baked fruit dried onto your baking sheets for the rest of eternity). sprinkle with sugar and bake until golden brown, about 24-25 minutes. transfer to a wire rack until cool. these are best eaten immediately and will keep up to a day. but the quality really starts to suffer after that. not that they’ll still be around after 24 hours. trust me.

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soft yogurt sandwich rolls

 

yogurt rolls6

 you’ve probably noticed that i don’t do a lot of baking for this blog. there’s a good reason for it: i’m just not very good at it. my cooking style of ‘a little of this, i’m outta that so throw in those’ just doesn’t bode well for the baking up of beautiful french baguettes or jaw dropping popovers. but i had made a new year’s resolution (to myself) to at least attempt more than the occasional cupcake or quick bread, so here goes nothin’.

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since i hadn’t baked any bread-type item in centuries, i thought i would start with this yeast roll recipe, as it seemed simple enough. no real time commitment necessary (just a few short rises) and i calculated that if successful,  it had enough of a wow factor to stand up to our pulled pork sandwiches and to keep me drawn in to whole baking thing. but what i really loved was the name: it had me at ‘yogurt’. i will make virtually anything that includes some sort of cultured dairy product (you know- sour cream, buttermilk, yogurt, etc.). the yogurt does not directly translate as flavor in the rolls, just as buttermilk is not detected in cakes. it just makes for a more tender crumb. this concept, and recipe, come from a great site called baking bites, that i can tell i will be visiting often, if this whole baking thing turns out alright. 

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cutting the prepared dough into roll-size pieces.

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making smooth tops on rolls by pinching corners together before final rise.

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final product: north carolinian pulled pork with super vinegary slaw on fresh baked rolls.

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yogurt sandwich rolls (makes 10-12)

adapted from baking bites

 

3 1/2-4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tbsp active dry yeast

3 tbsp honey

1 cup warm water (between 100-110 degrees farenheit)

1 cup plain yogurt (i used full fat, but low fat would work just fine here)

1 tbsp vegetable or canola oil

1 1/2 tsp salt

in a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment), combine 1/2 cup flour, yeast, honey, and warm water and mix thoroughly. allow to stand for about 10 minutes, until foamy on top.stir in yogurt, oil, salt, and 2 cups of the remaining flour. gradually stir in more flour until you have a soft, cohesive dough that no longer sticks to your hands or the sides of the bowl. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour as necessary to obtain a smooth elastic ball, about 5 minutes. Place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a draft-free environment (i have always used the microwave for this step of rising bread, don’t know where i got the idea from) until doubled in size, about an hour.

line a baking sheet with parchment paper. remove dough from bowl and punch down lightly to deflate. press into a rectangle. divide dough into 10-12 equal pieces. i cut mine with a pizza wheel. remember these will rise so make them about 75 percent of the size that you would like to have as your final product after baking. make a smooth top on the roll by stretching and pinching the four corners together (see picture). place on parchment-lined baking sheet and flatten each roll softly. cover with a clean dish towel or flour sack and allow to rise  for an additional 25 minutes.

Meanwhile preheat oven to 375 degrees. bake for 20 minutes until golden brown on tops and bottoms of rolls. allow to cool on a wire rack  for at least 5 minutes before consuming (if you can!).


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