Saturday, May 27, 2017

Garden Planning with Two of The Green Thumbs


Last month, D and other five kids - who call themselves 'The Green Thumbs' - designed, built, and installed two large mist collectors in their school garden as part of their six-week pilot program called LEAG. 

If you follow my blog at all, you'll know that I have the polar opposite of a green thumb. Is there such a thing as a black thumb? If so, I have that. But as the follow up for this project...



...the kids are proposing that families adopt a plot or planter box over the summer and take part in the Community Garden. Ummm...remember the black thumb?!

Well, I did what I usually do when I am ignorant: (1) I read and, if possible, (2) I sign up for a class. So, today, D, one of the other Green Thumbs, and I drove up to Watsonville to attend the free 'Starting Your Summer Garden' class sponsored by the UC Master Gardeners of Monterey Bay.


Carole King presented and led a discussion about everything from worm composting to caging your tomatoes. Then we filed out to the demonstration garden and watched her transplant a tomato.


The kids were inspired. I was inspired. We talked about how they get the word out to the other families, sharing the tips they learned. I just hope they get the summer garden signup out before I lose my nerve.


Both boys were talking about edibles. I am wondering about a pollinator bed. Maybe I can plant some plants that attract bees and butterflies.


Do you have a summer garden? What do you plant? 
This will be an interesting adventure for me!
Stay tuned.

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Foodie Edition with Nancy, Ruth, and Evan

Last week I had the chance to attend "The Foodie Edition", a benefit for the Carmel Public Library Foundation. Through work, but not for work, it was nice to be there just for fun. Though, truth be told, I did whip out a notepad and pen because these gals were such a riot and I wanted to be sure to remember some of their comments. The speakers were Nancy, Ruth, and Evan.


That's Nancy Silverton, Ruth Reichl, and Evan Kleiman. I jokingly only wrote their first names in the title of the post because there was a point when they joked about some chefs needing only a first name: Alice (Waters) and Wolfgang (Puck), for instance.

The format of the event included an hour of wine and mingling, a cooking demonstration, and a panel discussion. I didn't take any photos because (1) I wasn't working and (2) didn't have a press pass or explicit permission to photograph in the venue. That didn't stop many people in the audience from snapping away on their phones, but I always feel odd about pulling out a big Nikon for a point-and-shoot moment, especially when trying to capture a moment surreptitiously.


Just thought I'd post some of the gems they shared. While I didn't find their recipes or sentiments earth-shattering, it was an entertaining evening. It was like peeking into one of their dining rooms for a private party as they have been friends for four decades. There was a familiarity there that made for a casual - almost silly - atmosphere. While they each created their own dishes, the phrase "too many cooks in the kitchen" did pop into my head a couple of times.

Evan made a ricotta gnocchi colored with beets. That's one of D's favorite recipes already; check out his Roasted Beet Gnocchi with Wilted Beet Greens that he made for Valentines' Day. Instead of rolling the dough into ropes and cutting them, Evan simply dropped spoonfuls onto a floured tray and rolled each gnocchi by hand. We might try that next time.


I do plan to try the recipe Nancy demonstrated, Egg Salad with Anchovy Toasts. Soon! 

And Ruth shared her Cochinita Pibil. That is another recipe I'll have to try because, I agree, anything roasted in banana leaves is magical. I did learn that I should toast the leaves. Even from the audience, you could watch the leaves change color as she toasted them. I bet that would enhance the flavor even more.

Okay, just a few soundbites from the evening...

Evan: "Food is not just about the taste. It's about the sound."

Nancy: "Eveything tastes better with eggs and anchovies."

Ruth: "I like tasting menus. I think they show me the chef's vision. It's their personality on a plate."

But the single thing that stood out for me was the discussion of the "new" foodies. I am not sure if they were talking about GenY, Millennials (Wait! Are those the same thing?), or whatever they are calling my kids' generation. GenZ?? But they were hopeful. They commented on how this new generation is one of the most informed about sustainability and conscious eating. 

Where my generation, GenX, was all about fast food and convenience, my kids are well-entrenched in the slow food movement. My kids read labels. They ask questions about our food sources. They cook. They give me hope. Obviously they give others hope, too.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Grilled Ras el Hanout Shrimp with Asparagus #BBQWeek #Sponsored

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Michigan Asparagus
 in conjunction with #BBQweek. All opinions are my own.

Well, that's a wrap on #BBQWeek. But, first, I need to offer many, many thanks to Ellen of  Family Around the Table for organizing this week. These events are fun, but they are also a ton of work for the folks on the back end. Kudos, Ellen. I had a great time and, now, have a lot of recipes for grilling season.

As we draw to a close, I wanted to give one last shoutout to one of our sponsors - Michigan Asparagus - who is giving one winner two grilling baskets and $50 gift card. Wowza! Enter at the end of this post. You still have time!

Asparagus_PanPrize.png

Fresh asparagus is definitely a harbinger of Spring and Michigan is one of the largest domestic asparagus growers in the United States. Michigan Asparagus is available mid-May through June and is the only hand-snapped harvested asparagus which means more usable asparagus and less waste.

Local Michigan farmers produce approximately 25 million pounds of Michigan Asparagus during the state's 6-7 week harvest. Michigan Asparagus has excellent flavor and a long shelf life. It is a nutrient-dense, low-calorie vegetable with no fat, no cholesterol, and very little sodium.

Grilled Ras el Hanout Shrimp

Ras el Hanout is a spice blend from North Africa that's akin to garam masala in Indian cuisine. Ras el Hanout, in Arabic, means "head of the shop", similar to the English expression "top-shelf", and implies it's a mixture of the best spices the seller has to offer. 

I've seen recipes that include ten spices; I've seen recipes that include nearly fifty spices. So, while there is no definitive composition, it usually includes some combination of cardamom, cumin, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, allspice, ginger, chile peppers, coriander seeds, peppercorns, paprika, and turmeric. I have seen it with grains of paradise, fennel, saffron, and even rose petals.

Ingredients  
Ras el Hanout
  • 2 t cinnamon, ground
  • 2 t nutmeg, ground
  • 2 t coriander seeds, ground
  • 1-1/2 t cumin, ground
  • 1-1/2 t turmeric, ground
  • 1-1/2 t fleur de sel or other flake salt
  • 1 t allspice, ground
  • 1 t black pepper, ground
  • 1 t black cardamom, ground
  • 1 t red chile pepper flakes
  • 1/2 t cloves, ground
  • 1/2 t hot paprika, ground
  • 1/2 t smoked paprika, ground

Shrimp
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • grill or grill pan
  • oil for the grill
  • preserved lemon rind, thinly sliced


Procedure
Ras el Hanout
Place all of the spices in a bowl and stir to blend. Set aside.

Shrimp
Place shrimp in a medium mixing bowl. Sprinkle 1 to 2 T of ras el hanout over the shrimp. Toss to coat. Heat the grill or grill pan over medium heat. Lay the shrimp in a single layer on the grill. Cook until the shrimp turns opaque and chars, approximately 1 to 2 minutes per side.

To Serve
Place the shrimp in a serving bowl or platter. Garnish with preserved lemon rind. I served the shrimp with some grilled asparagus. Yum!


a Rafflecopter giveaway Giveaway is open to residents of the United States who are 18 years of age or older. Prize will be sent after the close of the giveaway. Bloggers are not responsible for prize fulfillment.

You may find Michigan Asparagus...
on the web

Queijo Coalho (Brazilian Grilled Cheese) #BBQWeek


Welcome to #BBQWeek's Final Posting Day! What a week it's been. I hope we've inspired you to fire up the grill, serve up some burgers or steaks or chicken and some delicious sides and desserts! Follow #BBQWeek so you don’t miss one delicious recipe. There are more than 20 recipes this week from some amazing bloggers.

Our Final Offerings


Brazilian Grilled Cheese
So, I decided to go with international recipes for my posts this week. On Monday I shared my recipe for Korean Bulgogi alongside some Asparagus with Gochujang Sauce. On Wednesday, I posted a kabob recipe from Lebanon.  And I wanted to finish off the week with a Brazilian Grilled Cheese.

In Brazil, these are made with queijo de coalho, a dense, salty white cheese. I didn't end up being able to find that kind of cheese. But it's very similar in taste and texture to the Haloumi I used here. So, how is this Brazilian and not Greek or Cypriot?! Well...you'll have to use your imagination. Sorry.


Ingredients
  • 1/2 lb Haloumi cheese, sliced into blocks
  • 1 T fresh oregano, finely chopped
  • 2 T olive oil
  • oil for grill (pan)
  • Also needed: a grill or grill pan


Procedure
Heat grill or grill pan and rub with oil.

Place cheese on the grill. Use a metal spatula to scrape under the cheese before turning. Turn until evenly browned, approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side.

To serve, place grilled cheese on a platter. Sprinkle with fresh oregano. Drizzle with olive oil before serving.

Ras el Hanout-Spiced Lentils and Greens #worksmarter #sharpenyourkitcheniq #Sponsored

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of KitchenIQ. All opinions are my own.

When one of my contacts at KitchenIQ asked if I wanted to do a post featuring a few of their new kitchen tools, I agreed immediately. I am not a gadgety cook; I really don't have a lot of kitchen appliances. But I have received tools from KitchenIQ before and they are definitely my favorite.

The Tools...
KitchenIQ kitchen tools are easy to use, easy to clean, and they do what they claim they'll do! Plus, plus, plus. I love them. I received the Grate Ginger Tool, the V-Etched Spice Grater, and the V-Etched Better Zester! I'm going to do a quick rundown of each of the products, share a recipe that used all of the tools, and - at the end of the post - you'll have a chance to win all three of these tools for yourself. Good luck!!!


The Grate Ginger Tool is one of those tools that I never knew I needed...and, now, I'm wondering how I lived without it. I use fresh ginger all the time, putting into my weekly batch of Golden Root Milk, and this tool helps me easily peel, grate, and juice the fresh ginger. The only part of the tool that I haven't really utilized is the slicer. But I think that I'll try my hand at pickling ginger this summer, so I'll definitely let you know how that works.


We already have a V-Etched Spice Grater. I should say my Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf has a V-Etched Spice Grater. And, if I ask really, really nicely, he lets me use it. But with this shipment, I have my own. Finally. 

I use the V-etched Spice Grater, almost, on a daily basis now. I love its compact design because I can grip it firmly plus it fits easily into a prep bowl to catch any wayward pieces that might fly off of a cinnamon stick. It also has a slide-in container to catch the ground spices so you can measure before adding it to your dish. Additionally, clean-up is a snap. It is hand-wash only, but that works fine for me. For the recipe I'm sharing, I used it for nutmeg, cinnamon, black cardamom, and star anise. What a workhorse!


The V-Etched Better Zester is comprised of over 300 tiny V-shaped teeth that finely zests the outer layer of skin while leaving bitter pith intact. Though they call it a "zester", I would call it a microplane. It's useful for more than just citrus though. If I had to pick only one kitchen tool to take with me, it would be this one!


The Recipe...
When I was trying to decide on a recipe that showcased all of the KitchenIQ tools, I kept circling back to Asian cuisines. But, in the end, I decided to make Ras el Hanout and use it in a dish with lentils and hearty greens.


Ras el Hanout is a spice blend from North Africa that's akin to garam masala in Indian cuisine. Ras el Hanout, in Arabic, means "head of the shop", similar to the English expression "top-shelf", and implies it's a mixture of the best spices the seller has to offer. 

I've seen recipes that include ten spices; I've seen recipes that include nearly fifty spices. So, while there is no definitive composition, it usually includes some combination of cardamom, cumin, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, allspice, ginger, chile peppers, coriander seeds, peppercorns, paprika, and turmeric. I have seen it with grains of paradise, fennel, saffron, and even rose petals.

For this version, I grated nutmeg, cinnamon, black cardamom, and star anise on my V-Etched Spice Grater. I used an electric spice grinder for the other spices.


Ingredients
Ras el Hanout

  • 2 t cinnamon, ground
  • 2 t nutmeg, ground
  • 2 t coriander seeds, ground
  • 1-1/2 t cumin, ground
  • 1-1/2 t turmeric, ground
  • 1-1/2 t fleur de sel or other flake salt
  • 1 t allspice, ground
  • 1 t black pepper, ground
  • 1 t black cardamom, ground
  • 1 t red chile pepper flakes
  • 1/2 t cloves, ground
  • 1/2 t hot paprika, ground
  • 1/2 t smoked paprika, ground

Lentils
  • 2 C cooked lentils (you can cook them in stock for more flavor)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 C organic white onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 C chopped organic celery
  • 1 C chopped organic carrot
  • 1 T Ras el Hanout
  • 3/4 C vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1" knob fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used an organic Meyer lemon)
  • 1 t freshly squeezed ginger juice
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Greens
  • 2 bunches organic rainbow chard
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 T Ras el Hanout
  • 1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used an organic Meyer lemon)

For Serving
  • preserved lemon rind, thinly sliced
  • cooked brown rice

Procedure 
Ras el Hanout
Place all of the spices in a bowl and stir to blend. Set aside.

Lentils
In a large, flat-bottom pan, heat olive oil. Add the onions and cook until they are translucent and beginning to caramelize. Add in the celery and carrots and cook for 5 to 6 minutes. Pour in the stock. Sprinkle in the Ras el Hanout; stir in the grated ginger. Fold in the cooked lentil and simmer until the liquid is completely absorbed. Stir in the lemon juice and ginger juice and remove from the heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Greens
Rinse and dry the greens and trim off the bottom. Thinly slice the stems and chiffonade the leaves.

In a large, flat-bottom pan over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add the shallots and Ras el Hanout. Cook until the shallots begin to soften, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chard stems and cook until they begin to soften, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Add in the leaves and cook until wilted and tender, approximately another 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.

To Serve
Place cooked brown rice on an individual serving plate. Top the rice with greens. Spoon lentils over the greens. Garnish with preserved lemon slices. Serve immediately.

The Giveaway...
Open to US residents 18 years or older. The winners will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or any other entity unless otherwise specified. We cannot be responsible for items lost in the mail.
  a Rafflecopter giveaway

You may find KitchenIQ
on the web
on Twitter

*Disclosure: I received complimentary products from the sponsor for the purpose of review and recipe development. I also received the opportunity to giveaway products to one of my readers. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of  the manufacturer of this product. I have received no other compensation for this post.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Edible Enigmas for Beginners #FoodieReads


As we continue on with our May Foodie Reads Challenge, I picked up How to Eat a Lobster: And Other Edible Enigmas Explained by Ashley Blom.* I followed her when she blogged at Quarter Life (Crisis) Cuisine, then she started the blog Forking Up last year. We travel in some of the same food blogging circles, so when I saw that she had a book coming out, I ordered it. I figured: How can I resist a book written by a gal who posts Bacon Pancakes, Danger Scones, or a Tequila Old Fashioned on her blog?!?

I enjoyed the book. It's cute. It's clearly written. It has beautiful illustrations by Lucy Engleman.

But I will admit that it's definitely not intended for the experienced eater.  Most of the "Tricky Techniques" we tackled before the boys were ten years old. Topics include...

How to Eat Crawfish. Check.


How to Eat Raw Oysters. I know I didn't feed him raw oysters back then...but he has since we joined our CSF, Real Good Fish. Check.


How to Slice an Avocado. Check.


The titular section - How to Eat a Lobster. Check.


How to Eat Durian. Check. I even made my students try it...though I was banished from the building and had to slice into it outside!


And in "Etiquette Enigmas"... How to Drink Tea. Check.


How to Eat Noodles. Check. And we even made these noodles!


So, I liked reading it. I loved supporting Ashley, but it's not a book I'll pull off my shelf very often.

*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.




Here's what everyone else read in May 2017: here.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Shish Tawook (Lebanese Chicken Skewers) #BBQWeek

#BBQWeek continues. Here we are at Day Two of our posting dates which are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of this week.


Join us in firing up the grill, cooking, serving up some burgers or steaks or chicken and some delicious sides and desserts! Be sure to follow #BBQWeek so you don’t miss one delicious recipe.

What the Other #BBQWeek Bloggers are Sharing...

My International Focus...
When I joined the group, I wanted to showcase some international grilling recipes. On Monday I shared my recipe for Korean Bulgogi alongside some Asparagus with Gochujang Sauce. Today, I'm sharing a kabob recipe from Lebanon. Back in January 2016, I uncorked a bottle of Lebanese wine - Château Musar Jeune. Too bad I didn't have a bottle to open with this dinner.


The chicken itself is wonderful, but it's the Lebanese Garlic Sauce that sends it into the culinary magic realm! Yum. Okay, my husband probably disagrees with that, referring to it as 'Instant Death to All Vampires' sauce. I call it toum.

Ingredients

Shish Tawook
  • 2 lbs skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into cubes
  • 1 C freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 6 T plain yogurt (I used Greek-style yogurt)
  • 6 T olive oil
  • 2 T vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 t freshly ground pepper
  • 1" knob fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 t paprika
  • 1/2 t turmeric
  • 2 t freshly ground salt
  • 2 onions, peeled and cubed
  • Also needed: wooden skewers, grill pan or grill

Toum
  • 5 to 6 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 4 C vegetable oil (I used canola, I've heard that olive oil doesn't work well)
  • juice from 1 organic lemon, freshly juiced
  • 1 t freshly ground salt, to taste
  • Also needed: a food processor (traditionally it's made with a mortar and pestle)

Procedure
Toum
Place the garlic and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the garlic is a paste. Now turn on the processor on low; it will run continuously until you are finished. Through the chute, slowly pour in the oil in a slow, steady stream. After 1/2 C, you should see the sauce begin to emulsify. Drizzle in 1/2 of your lemon juice. Keep going until you have used all but 1/2 C of oil. Add in the rest of your lemon juice. Finish off the oil. If the sauce is runny, you may have added the liquid too quickly. In that case, it'll be thinner, but just as tasty!

Shish Tawook
Mix all ingredients for the marinade together. Massage the sauce into the chicken cubes. Cover and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. I left mine for about 8 hours.

During the last 20 or 30 minutes of marinating, soak the wooden skewers in warm water. Skewer the chicken and onions while you heat the grill or grill pan.


Cook the skewers, turning them every 3 to 4 minutes. They should be cooked through in 15 to 18 minutes.

Here's a trick I've read about to keep your chicken moist. It works every time.


As soon as you take the chicken off the grill, place the skewers in a pot with a lid and cover it for at least 5 minutes.  The moisture and steam get locked in and the chicken doesn't dry out. 


I served the skewers with preserved lemon, toum, and saffron rice...


and a generous drizzle of toum.


Check back as we wrap up #BBQWeek on Friday. I'll be sharing a meatless grilled recipe. It's one of my favorites!

Peach-Tomato Salad with an Herb Vinaigrette


Whenever we see peaches at the market, we grab them. The stone fruit season isn't very long here, but when the peaches, plums, and apricots are ripe, they are fantastic. I like to pair them with juicy tomatoes, baby greens, and an herb dressing that just screams 'summer.' I know it's not really summer yet...soon.


Ingredients
  • 2 C organic tomatoes (I used baby heirlooms this time)
  • 3 to 4 ripe organic peaches, sliced into wedges
  • 2 C baby greens
  • 1/4 C fresh herbs (I used a mixture of basil, parsley, oregano, and mint)
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 1/4 C vinegar (I used a champagne vinegar)
  • 1 T local honey
  • 1 t Dijon mustard
  • 1 small shallot, peeled and diced
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Procedure
Combine the herbs, olive oil, vinegar, honey, Dijon, and shallots in a blender or food processor until the dressing emulsifies and the herbs are pureed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place the green in the bottom of your serving bowl and top with tomatoes and peaches. When ready, serve at room temperature. Toss with dressing at the table. Serve immediately.

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