Winter Tomato Soup

winter tomato  

when the daylight hours are becoming more and more scarce, its nice to have a small arsenal of
go-to meals that only take a few minutes to prepare. this one relies on a quart of whole tomatoes 
i canned during the summer, an onion, and some spices. not much else. from ingredients to bowl
in about ten minutes.

heat some olive oil on the stove. add some fresh ground allspice berries, coriander, and a clove or two.
infuse the oil with the spices and then add a finely diced onion and a garlic clove. cook until the onions
become golden and translucent and the spice aromatics really open up. move to a food processor and
blitz until smooth. return to the pan. drain the tomatoes and give them a run through the food processor.
when they are pretty smooth, add to the onion mixture. heat through and then add a very small splash of
something creamy (yogurt, coconut milk, cream, etc.). i used some goat's kefir here. season with salt and
lots of black pepper. a squirt of sriracha never hurt either.



Black Cod, Black Radish, and Turmeric


even if you're not down with the peppery kick of any respectable radish, you'd still love them
once you've had them roasted. definitely more mellow but still maintaining a fair amount of their
snappy 'crunch'. and a nice dash of turmeric not only gives a nice earthiness, but also stains the
white flesh to a pleasing yellow. kind of a bumblebee-like effect. anyway......

rinse and cut up a few black radishes, shallots, and some garlic. toss with olive oil, turmeric, salt,
and pepper. roast in a hot oven until done. meanwhile, in a pan, melt a little bacon fat over medium
heat. cook a piece of black cod fillet until just done. season with salt and pepper and set aside. next,
squeeze the juice of one lemon into the bacon drippings. cook for a half minute or so and take off of
the heat. when radishes are done, top with the cod, the lemon/bacon mixture, and a little oregano.




Spiced Rabbit with Peppers, Thyme, and Ginger

. rabbit  

i picked up a rabbit at the farmer's market on saturday after realizing i hadn't had rabbit
in a few years. its a treat i really enjoy, albeit rarely. and since fall is well underway in
these parts (thankfully), a lovely warming braise seemed like a good idea. rubbing some
garlic, ginger, allspice, and thyme into the meat would bring great flavor. and cooking it
alongside a little dry cured sausage, roast red pepper, onion, chicken stock, and cider
wouldn't hurt either. in the oven for about 2 hours, and then out comes some really tender
rabbit. carefully remove the rabbit and then mash up some of those super soft onion and
peppers. keep cooking all of those vegetables and broth down until nice and thick. then
pour it over the rabbit and serve with some braised red cabbage. 



Autumn Chuck Roast and Blue Hubbard Squash

cooler weather means the oven is now in fair play. first time since about may. perfect
for fall roasts. like this chuck roast. seasoned liberally with salt, pepper, and unsweetened
dark cocoa powder. then wrapped in foil and tossed into a slow oven for hours. how many?
the longer the better. hell, overnight if possible. after its done, let it cool on the counter top a
bit and jack up the oven to 400F. toss some slices of blue hubbard squash in olive oil and a
little salt. roast until nice and tender. set aside. pull off a little meat and toss it in some heated
tomato sauce. add to the squash with a little green pepper on top. and go eat it outside just as
its starting to get chilly.




Bronze Leaf Potato Salad


i've got more bronze leaf fennel than i know what to do with. and that's not a complaint. 

i love this stuff. just brushing past this herb when i'm at the garden releases an intensely sweet
anise scent. i harvested a massive bunch this morning for a great potato salad. its basically just
a fennel dressing / pesto of sorts with some spuds. and it can be tossed together before your
water even comes to a boil. here's how:

boil your potatoes in lightly salted water until tender. while that's going, toss the following into
 a food processor: a ton of fennel fronds, parsley, garlic, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, apple cider
vinegar, pickle juice, salt, and pepper. toss the cooked (but still hot) potatoes into this dressing /
pesto. mix it up well and add in some thinly sliced onion and a few capers. a few pinches of some crushed red pepper wouldn't hurt. maybe a little more pickle juice if needed. chill and serve.





. juliachild100 

happy 100th birthday, julia child.



This Year's Model


last year's alcohol infusion seems to have worked well, even though its barely even been
used. its too hot outside for brandy. and in that spirit, i decided to start another infusion for
later this fall. in a jar, i combined: pitted and halved rainier cherries, bourbon, and allspice
dram. i'm gonna hide it in a cool dark place until autumn rolls around. imagine pouring a
'healthy splash' or two (or three) into a mug of some nice hot cider....

yeah, that's what i was thinking too. see you in october, my little cherries.



Zucchini Blossoms with Ricotta, Horseradish, and Sage


while my garden may not be producing an abundance of zucchini right now, i do have a fair amount
of zucchini blossoms. these are the male flowers which won't produce any fruit. and they are perfect
for frying up. just mix some horseradish in with some ricotta cheese and season with salt and pepper.
then stuff the mixture inside the blossom along with a sage leaf. dip it in some light batter and then
park them in hot oil until golden and crispy. best little lunch i've had in a while.



Hon Tsai Tai with Caramelized Onions, Coriander, and Lemon Mayonnaise


when i was planning my vegetable garden, i searched for seeds unknown to me. it was then
that i stumbled upon hon tsai tai. it's a stalk, a leaf, and a flower: and it's all edible. oh, and it
is really tasty. similar to broccoli. maybe i harvested a tad late because the stalks were a little
bit woody and some garden bugs sampled a bit of the leaves, but i don't care. i grew it and i
ate it and i loved it.

sauteed in olive oil and tossed with some caramelized onions, toasted coriander, and just a few
dollops of some left over lemony mayonnaise from the other day. salt and pepper. yum.


Update : Gooseberry Eau de Vie


decided today to check in on a project from last summer. not quite a year in (11 months), and
the gooseberries have pretty much given up everything they have to the eau de vie. its hard to
tell from this photo, but the once scarlet berries are now looking like small pale shallots. all of
the lovely red you see is the brandy itself. honestly, this photo doesn't do the red justice.

now the biggest dilemma will be : how to enjoy this properly?



Summer Slaw

summerslaw copy

quite possibly the perfect coleslaw for the summer: cool, crisp, and perfect with barbeque.

into a large bowl, shred: a few carrots, a golden beet, a large fennel bulb, and a head of red
cabbage. pour over a vinaigrette of olive oil, mustard, and apple cider vinegar. (a few table
spoons of mayonnaise if you must.) mix to combine. add some green onion and season with
salt and pepper. this will keep for days, but mine never lasts that long.



the Four P's

. yellowpepper copy

dead simple with pretty much only four ingredients : yellow peppers, pasta, pecorino, and pepper. 

roast the yellow bell peppers over fire until nicely charred. remove skin. place in a food processor with
some pecorino cheese. blitz it until smooth with a few glugs of olive oil. cook pasta until al dente. drain
but reserve a bit of the pasta water. mix the water in with the bell pepper mixture and cook in a pan for
a minute or two. stir a lot. add salt to taste and a whole lot of coarsely ground black pepper. pour over
pasta and mix real well. add more cheese and black pepper if desired. this should have a little heat.




Spring Chicken


chickenfenneltomato2 copy  

prep the bird for roasting (pat dry, salt, remove fat deposits, truss) and place it in
a hot oven. render down those fat deposits and pour over some sliced fennel, onions,
garlic, and cherry tomatoes. roast in a separate pan until almost done and then remove
from the oven. add salt and pepper to taste. when the chicken is just about done, move
the vegetables to the same roasting pan as the bird. this allows the bird's skin to get as
crisp as possible before adding liquid heavy ingredients like tomatoes. adding them at
the last minute allows the flavors to mix before serving. check seasoning and top with
some fennel fronds. allow the chicken to rest for 15 minutes before carving.

chickenfenneltomato copy  


Rye Cavatelli and Leek Bolognese


mix your pasta dough using rye flour, ricotta, and an egg. wrap in cling film and let it rest at least an
hour. in the meantime, get the sauce going. sweat some finely diced carrots, celery, garlic, and one
shallot in some butter. add a whole mess of thinly sliced leeks (thoroughly cleaned, of course). cook
for a few minutes and then add a splash of white wine. when the wine has reduced, grab one whole
nutmeg and grate a healthy amount on top. stir in a little pre-made roux and a good amount of milk.
whisk to combine. reduce heat to low and make your pasta. when ready, boil until just done and then
toss with the sauce. season with salt and pepper and grate some pecorino cheese on top.

leekbolognese copy



Carrots and Chorizo

carrotchorizo1 copy

peel and half some small carrots. add to a pan with some olive oil. gently brown. cover about
half way with water and then put a lid on the pan. cook until water is mostly reduced and then
check to see if carrots are done. add more water if necessary. this might have to be done a few
times. when the carrots are just about done, add a bit of tomato paste and mix in. season with
salt and pepper. add some chopped spanish chorizo. gently cook down the rest of the liquid
until the pan is almost dry. don't let it burn or it will taste terrible. add some fresh chopped dill.

carrotchorizo2 copy



White Perch, Eggs, Avocado, and Spinach


whiteperch copy  


melt some bacon fat in a cast iron skillet. cook some thick slices of potato until just about
done. as that is cooking, place a good fistful of spinach, half an avocado, a glug or two of
olive oil, and some red wine vinegar in a food processor. blitz it until smooth and add some
salt and pepper to taste. when the potatoes are just about done, add a whole white perch. cook
through on one side then flip over. add some of the avocado spinach mixture and a few eggs.
toss the whole thing into a blazing hot oven or under the broiler. cook until the eggs are just
set and the fish is done. season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.

avocadoeggsperch copy copy
don't worry if you break a yolk or two. its not like its going on the internet or anything....



Milk Braised Pork with Smoked Garlic, Porcini, and Feta


post-searing / pre-braising

my last winter braising. getting too warm for this sort now. until autumn then....

boneless pork loin roast. seared until just brown in a dutch oven or similar cast iron beauty. add a healthy bit 
of milk and some dried porcini mushrooms. salt and pepper too. bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. place the lid on ever so slightly askew. go do something for 45 minutes or so. take a break from that something and flip the pork over. lid askew. back to whatever you were doing for another 45. remove the pork to rest for a few minutes. pick out the garlic heads and the bay leaves. put whats still left in the dutch oven into a food processor.
blend the hell out of it. pass it through a real fine chinois. some of the sauce is for the roast and some gets tossed with some red cabbage. nom nom nom.




Lentil Salad of Peas, Pistachios, Bacon, and Sumac

peapistachio copy

this is one of those dishes that comes together out of whatever you've got lying around, which is
one of the fun sides of cooking. "i've got squash, raisins, anchovies, and cornflakes. what sort of
meal can i make with this stuff?" always fun. anyway, i keep pistachios on hand at all times. i had
lentils that have been in the cupboard forever and the peas were taking up valuable space in the
freezer. the black forest bacon is leftover from a birthday brunch last weekend and had to be used.

bring some chicken stock to a boil and add black lentils. simmer until done. meanwhile, cook a few
slices of bacon until just crisp and set aside. toss some frozen peas in some of the bacon fat along
with shelled pistachios. add a splash of water if needed. toss in some sumac and black pepper as
well. set aside. drain and rinse the lentils and toss in a large bowl with the peas and pistachios. add
chopped parsley and a vinaigrette of lemon juice, rice wine vinegar, and olive oil. add salt and pepper
to taste. chop the bacon and toss it in as well. all that is left to do is grate a little fresh romano cheese
right on top. done.

peapistachio2a copy



Staying Warm


breakfast : chorizo 'toad in the hole', grapefruit, tea


lunch : red lentil and tomato soup with dill, spinach, and feta. sourdough and apple. homemade hard cider.


dinner : braised lamb shank, spinach, shallots, and chickpeas

its a rare occasion that i have the luxury to spend time purposefully cooking all of
the days meals. after some much needed rest, i spent most of this chilly day in the
kitchen cooking breakfast, lunch, and dinner. as the soup was simmering away and 
the shanks were slowly braising, i avoided the snow, ice, and sleet outside by quietly
reading under the world's warmest blanket. only a wood stove would have made this
day any better.



Broccoli and Pistachio Soup

broccolipistachiosoup1 copy

easy. peasy. feel free to add some lemon squeezy.

bring a saucepan to a medium heat with a bit of olive oil. add some
broccoli florets and cook until nice and bright green, but not cooked
through. add some chopped garlic and small fistful of pistachios. pour
over top with some simmering chicken stock and cook for a few more
minutes (just until the broccoli is tender). purée the hell out of it and
pass it through a fine chinois. taste for salt and pepper and add a small
splash of rice wine vinegar. garnish with one floret of broccoli, a few 
pistachios, a touch of ricotta or mascarpone, and a drop or two of olive oil.

broccolipistachiosoup2 copy