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Archive for the ‘Meat’ Category

OK – so I lied. I thought that I’d be able to keep up my cooking in the warm months, but I just couldnt do it. My dinners usually consisted of cheese, crackers, fruit, nuts, a slice of salami… or something along those lines. Anything to keep my stove off. In fact, my gas bill for the last 2 months has been $2 over the minimum charge for delivery fees. Now? The leaves are starting to turn, the apples are ready to be picked, my radiator was on this morning, my peacoats are out, and my cookbooks are marked. Dear Fall – I’m ready!

Apples

Apple picking in New England is the thing to do in the fall – it’s not something that us Californians do back at home. Sure we have apple farms, but we have every type of farm. Apples, I guess, dont make a special list. I wanted to go to a smaller farm, one that didnt have hay rides or t-shirts for sale. Something simple. I wanted to meet the real farmers and walk around filling my bag with whatever I wanted. and I did. I went with a couple friends of mine to Harvard, MA (no, nothing to do with Harvard University… that’s in Cambridge) to a small farm called Carlson Orchards. $23 for half a bushel (however much that is) we filled our bag and wandered around the farm in the cool foggy mist. We climbed the (low) branches, sampled from the trees, and navigated the acres of apples – by ourselves.  Arriving a little before 5PM, we were the last ones there. My favorite of of them all? Empires – a cross between Red Delicious and Macintosh. They are dark red, firm, juicy, and sweet – but not too sweet. The perfect apple for cooking with.

A couple days later we made two sour cream pies – sweet, spiced, creamy, pies. The pies were too hot for me to take home, and unfortunately they spoiled because I found out they never made it in the fridge. The parts were delicious, so I can only imagine the completed piece of work would have been too. This soup was my second attempt at doing something with the apples other than just having them for breakfast. With the weather finally in the 50*s, I thought it was time for soup. I mean, who doesnt love soup on a cold cloudy day?

Bacon Bitsapple and squash simmer.

This recipe is very simple and very easy. The hardest part is peeling the butternut squash and apple – be sure to have your vegetable peeler on hand. I couldnt find mine for a couple minutes, and trying to peel a squash with a pairing knife wasnt fun. Also be sure to cut up the pieces into small cubes. The squash and apple are browned and almost cooked entirely from the oil, which is why the recipe only calls for 6-8 minutes of simmering. The larger the cubes, the more time you’ll have to add at the end simmering.

Soup's ready!

Apple and Butternut Squash Soup
based on recipe in Fine Cooking Magazine, April 2010

Ingredients:
8 slices of bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4″ strips
2.5 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2- inch dice
1 apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4- inch dice
1 quart low sodium chicken stock
1 tbs dried sage
salt and pepper
splash of white wine vinegar, or to taste

1. Cook the bacon in a large pot until crispy, about 8-10 minutes. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and place on a plate with paper towels.
2. Add butternut squash cubes to bacon fat and brown for 6-8 minutes. Be sure not to stir too often or the squash wont brown.
3. Mix in the apples, sage, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.
4. Pour the chicken stock into the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
5. Stir in 3/4 of the bacon bits, and puree with an immersion blender.
6. Season with a splash of vinegar, salt, and pepper.
7. Garnish with remaining bacon bits in bowls, and serve warm.

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Coconut Stewed Chicken

Dinner!
It’s started to be hot in Boston. Now, I normally would consider mid-80* weather very pleasant and I wouldn’t complain; however, that would be California weather. This humid, thick, hot, sticky air is something else. I went for a walk the other day during lunch and I swear I was walking through water.

I remember the day I landed in Boston from San Francisco was a lot like it has been recently. Coming from the cold 60* foggy weather and getting off the plane in the humid 80* weather I thought the wind had been knocked out of me. Luckily that was August 23, 2009 and I was staying with my friend who had air conditioning. Now, I dont have that luxury.

Unfortunately, this has curbed my desire to cook. I depend only on my small little fan in the kitchen to create air circulation; it doesnt quite do the trick when you want to turn the oven up to 400*. But, my love for cooking is starting to take over and I’m just gonna take my dinner up to my room with the big fan if I have to. I wont let the weather stop me any more!

This recipe is actually from my archives. My friend came to visit me one weekend and I told her to pick a recipe out of the ones I marked in the Saveur magazine I just bought. It was really nice to have someone to cook for for a change. We made this the same night I made the olive oil scented cake, so I thought it was fitting to be my next entry.

I was excited to try a different cuisine; I have never been to an African restaurant or attempted to cook it myself. The flavors are earthy, bold, and slightly sweet; simple yet intoxicatingly fragrant. I dont have any special notes about this other than it is best served over white rice and accompanied by a bitter vegetable to balance the creamy, slightly sweet coconut milk. I researched Kenyan vegetables and kale came up – it was perfect. Oh, and when you’re cooking with tumeric, don’t wear anything that you dont want stained. My counters were stained, my hands were stained, and my shirt was stained. It all came out in the end but I didnt realize how bright the seasoning was – it was my first time cooking with it.

Coconut Stewed Chicken
from Saveur magazine

1/4 c vegetable oil
2 tsp ground turmeric
4 cloves garlic
2-3 tsp chili paste (or 4 Thai chilies)
4 small tomatoes
4 bone-in legs and thighs, separated
1/4 c lime juice
2 14 oz coconut milk
salt and pepper to taste
cilantro for garnish (optional, but a great addition)
4 c cooked white rice for serving

1. Heat oil in large pot over medium high heat. Combine the turmeric, garlic, chili paste, tomatoes, and onions in the pot until the onions are caramelized – about 20-25 mintues.
2. Add lime juice, coconut milk, and chicken and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to medium-low heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until the chicken is tender – about 10 minutes.
3. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over rice and top with cilantro.

Chicken and Rice

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Farmers Abbie buying eggs

Spring means many things. Remembering what the sun feels like, spending time outdoors, ditching the wool peacoat for short sleeves and dresses, cherry blossoms, (allergies)… and the return of farmer’s markets with produce other than root vegetables!

There’s nothing quite like farmers markets and talking to the individuals who grow/bake/produce the goods you buy from the local farms. I miss the days when I used to go down the street in San Francisco every Saturday and buy all my produce – even in the dead of “winter.” Boston is a little slow bringing this spring delight back so I decided that a short trip to Rhode Island was in order. I didnt want to wait until the end of this month to get my first fresh produce from Boston (we’re having our first ones open up this weekend!)

I was thinking about fruit, farm fresh eggs/chicken, baked bread, vegetables, local cheese, and… ramps.

Food fads are a lot like fashion – every year there is a new “hot” item. Last year for food it was pomegranates and acai – the super antioxidant food. This year its ramps – the wild garlic/onion spring favorite. They are all over menus, in food magazines, blogs, news paper articles, pictures – everywhere. Me? I’ve never had them. Since they’re famous for their fleeting availability in early spring, I was determined to get my hands on some. Maybe I’d make a souffle? Braise them? Serve with pasta and olive oil? Put on pizza? Scramble with some eggs. I was so excited.

But had no luck finding them. I must have walked up and down the aisle 10x looking around, talking to farmers – no one had any left.

Flowers

However, this trip was still delightful. We went to a local diner, drank some coffee milk (not something we have in the Bay Area), and I bought some beautiful flowers, eggs, various vegetables, a whole chicken, and a lamb chop – all with great company.

Marinated Meat 2

Lamb is one of my favorite meats. I dont eat it very often – but it is quite irresistible. Lamb chops are small, juicy and tender with a small t-bone that separates the tenderloin from the eye. I know a lot of people have issues with eating young meat. Trust me, someone cooked me veal one time and couldnt bring myself to eat it. I just sat there looking at the plate, refusing to eat it. But for some reason I don’t have that same issue with lamb. (It doesn’t make sense, I know). I’m always looking for new lamb recipes to try out.

Roasted Bell Pepper

This recipe comes from one of my new cookbooks that I got at my favorite bookstore, Strand, while I was in New York City this weekend. The mint and vinegar make a bright fresh marinade, that is complemented nicely with a slight sweet/salty flavor.

The original recipe tells you to grill the lamb chops on a charcoal or gas grill. I dont have any outdoor space or a grill, so I chose to use my broiler instead. If you do choose to grill these watch them carefully, as they may not take very long to reach medium-rare. And wait until after the meat has marinated to add the salt – it’s a great addition that adds depth to the marinade.

I served it with baked potatoes and roasted red peppers – all from the farmer’s market.

Mint Marinated Lamb Chops
adapted from Best of the Best, vol. 11

1/4 c white wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1/3 cup mint
4-6 lamb chops, 2 inches thick
salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine vinegar, sugar, and mint leaves into a blender or food processor. Blend until the mint is finely chopped.
2. Let lamb chops marinate in mixture for 10-20 minutes at room temperature.
3. Turn broiler on. Sprinkle salt on each side right and cook lamb chops for 6-8 minutes per side, until medium-rare.

Lamb Chop Dinner

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