2011

fennel and rice soup

This is another recipe from David Tanis’ The Heart of the Artichoke. I decided to go for it because I’ve never had a fennel soup. It did not turn out as I expected, but was good nonetheless. I had anticipated a much more prominent fennel flavor, but the fennel was subtle and balanced by chicken broth, onion and rice. Jordan thought that the soup was super comforting and he was a big fan of the herb sauce on top. Not only is this soup inexpensive, it will also use up any herbs lingering in your fridge.

Fennel and Rice Soup with Herb Swirl, adapted from The Heart of the Artichoke by David Tanis

For the soup
1/4 cup olive oil
2 – 3 fennel bulbs, sliced
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves
salt and pepper
1/4 cup long grain rice
6 cups chicken broth or water

For the swirl
1 cup fennel fronds, roughly chopped (from the tops of your bulbs)
1/2 cup parsley
1/2 cup basil (I didn’t have basil and instead used dill)
1/4 cup scallions (I didn’t have scallions and instead used shallot)
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

In a dutch oven or stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the fennel, onion and garlic. Season well with salt and pepper. Saute until the vegetables are softened and lightly browned.

Add the rice and broth. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer. Add more salt. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the herb sauce. In a food processor or blender, puree the herbs and scallions with the oil. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Puree the soup in a blender until you have a smooth puree (or, in my case, with an immersion blender until you have a chunky puree). David recommends that you strain the soup after you’ve pureed it, but I skipped that step. I like rustic food and I was attached to the idea of little rice pearls in the soup.

To serve, ladle the soup into a bowl and then spoon some of the herb sauce on top. Jordan requested that I bring the herb sauce to the table, so I’ll recommend that to you as well. Some cheesy toast never hurt either.

-Emily

buckwheat crepes with ham, cheese and egg

This recipe is another gleaned from The Heart of the Artichoke by David Tanis. He recommends it as a light lunch or as a first course, but Jordan and I had it for dinner without complaint. This crepe is actually sublime. It is simple, but hits on all the right notes. It is cheesy, smokey and slightly sweet from the ham, and earthy from the buckwheat—heavenly. We balanced out that goodness with this cauliflower soup and green beans.

Don’t be afraid of making these crepes if you’ve never made crepes before (or never made crepes with success before). This batter is quite robust and the crepes are really easy to flip. Just do yourself a favor and use a non-stick pan. The recipe below makes four to six 10-inch crepes, more than enough for 2 people.

Buckwheat Crepes with Ham, Cheese and Egg, adapted from The Heart of the Artichoke by David Tanis
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 salt
2 T honey
2 slices of good ham per crepe
1/4 cup grated gruyère cheese per crepe
1 egg per crepe

Whisk together the flours, egg, milk, salt and honey. Put in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Heat a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Quickly ladle in 1/3 cup batter. Swirl the pan to spread out the batter. Let the crepe brown on one side, about 3 minutes, and flip using a spatula or carefully with your fingers. Remove the crepe from the pan and set aside. Cook the remaining crepes.

To fill the crepes, lay each one top side down on a baking sheet. Make a ham and cheese barrier around the edges to contain the egg. Crack the egg into a small mug. Gently pour the egg into the center of the crepe and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake until the egg whites are white and the cheese is melted. A runny yolk is ideal. Serve immediately.

You can also prepare these crepes without the egg—a ham and cheese sandwich variation—which is just as good. To fill the crepes, sprinkle one side of the crepe with cheese and ham and then fold the crepe over to make a half-moon. Brush with a little melted butter.  Warm for a few minutes in the 400 degree oven, until the cheese is melted and the crepe is crispy.

-Emily

squash ravioli with brown butter sage sauce

There is nothing like crisp fall weather to make making squash ravioli from scratch seem like a better idea, except maybe David Tanis’ book The Heart of the Artichoke. David Tanis was a chef at Chez Panisse and is a beautiful writer. His recipes are simple, but coax the best flavor out of every ingredient he adds. His writing is just as wonderful—simple and heartfelt. This storybook-style cookbook easily convinces you to try every recipe inside. And the photos are just gorgeous. I just read the book cover to cover so be prepared for a string of beautiful David Tanis recipes.

It was a Sunday and Sundays are for cooking adventures here at Chez Jojonoodle. We had a few beautiful squash from our CSA sitting on the table and I had some time to kill before Jordan got home from work. I put on an episode of This American Life and got down to business.

While making ravioli from scratch is time-consuming, you can make this dish from start to finish in about three hours. If you relax and accept that your ravioli are going to look very, very rustic, it will be even easier.

You begin by making the pasta dough. While the dough is resting, you’ll roast the squash. After the squash is roasted and dough rested, you’ll roll out the dough and fill your pasta. Cooking the pasta and making the sauce takes only 10 minutes, which you should do immediately before sitting down to eat.

Squash Ravioli with Brown Butter Sage Sauce, adapted from The Heart of the Artichoke by David Tanis

For the pasta dough
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 egg yolks
pinch of salt
2 T olive oil

For the filling
2 lbs of squash (We used carnival and golden nugget. Butternut would be great)
salt and pepper
2 T olive oil
1/2 cup pecorino, grated
zest of one lemon
1/2 t red pepper flakes
nutmeg, for grating

For the sauce
4 T butter
a small handful of sage leaves
salt and pepper
1 clove garlic, mashed
juice of 1/2 lemon

Preheat an oven to 375 degrees.

Place the flour in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, beat the eggs with the salt. Make a well in the flour and pour in the eggs. Mix well with a spoon. Pour the dough onto a floured counter and knead until smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside to rest for at least one hour.

Cut the squashes in half and scrape out the seeds. Put them skin side up on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes – 1 hour, until fork tender.

Scrape the flesh out of the squash skins and put in a large bowl. Add the olive oil, pecorino, lemon zest and red pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Grate in a bit of nutmeg and stir well. Set aside.

Using your pasta machine, roll out the dough into thin sheets.  To make the process manageable, I cut the dough into eighths and then rolled each of those pieces out and filled them one by one. I recommend that you coat the dough ball with flour to reduce stickiness and roll out the dough until you’ve reached the second to last setting.

Lay this piece of thin dough on a baking sheet and cut into squares—mine were about 4 by 4 inches. Put a dollop of filling in the center of each square. Wet the edges with a little water. Fold one side over the other and press firmly around the edges to make a seal. Set aside on a flour-coated baking sheet. Keep at it until you’ve finished with all of the dough and filling. I made about 40 ravioli.

When you are ready to eat, put two pots of water to boil. Salt them well. Add the ravioli gently and boil for 4 – 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sage and garlic, stirring occasionally as the butter browns. Once the butter has browned, season with salt and pepper and turn of the heat. Add the lemon juice. Spoon the sauce over the raviolis, top with a little parmesan and then enjoy the fruits of your labor!

fresh mint chip ice cream

I am a lover of mint chocolate chip ice cream. My favorite was Baskin Robbins mint chocolate chip followed closely by Breyers white chocolate mint, until I made this recipe. The flavor of the fresh mint in unlike anything made with peppermint extract. It is more subtle and less biting, while still being refreshing. I shaved the chocolate chips because it worked so well in the creme fraiche ice cream we made last month. We brought this ice cream to a dinner party and it was a huge hit.

Fresh Mint Chip Ice Cream, adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
pinch of salt
2 cups packed mint leaves
5 egg yolks
1 bar good quality dark chocolate, shaved for the chips

In a medium saucepan, heat the milk, sugar and 1 cup of cream. Once hot and steaming, remove the milk mixture from the heat and add the mint leaves. Let sit covered for one hour to infuse the milk with mint flavor.

Strain the mint leaves from the milk, squeezing them to coax out as much minty flavor as possible. Pour the remaining cream into a large bowl and set the strainer over it.

Rewarm the infused milk. In another bowl, whisk egg yolks and salt. Slowly pour some of the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking to combine. Pour this egg-milk mixture back into the saucepan.

Over medium heat and stirring constantly, heat the custard until it has thickened enough to coat a spoon. Pour through the strainer into the bowl of cream and stir. Cool the mixture with an ice bath or refrigerate until cool.

Churn the ice cream in your ice cream maker, adding the chocolate chips in during the last few minutes of churning. Enjoy immediately or freeze until firm.

-Emily

heath ceramics factory tour—round two

On Friday, my mom and I visited the Heath Ceramics factory and shop. A few months ago,  Jordan and I took the tour of the factory and it was fascinating. I blogged about when I first fell in love with Heath Ceramics here. I thought my mom would enjoy the tour and so we went back. I decided to take more pictures this time.

For those of you who missed my first post, this is a bit about Heath Ceramics—Heath Ceramics was founded in 1948 in Sausalito, CA by Edith Heath. She was a feisty lady who knew her mind. She built her ceramic factory on the values of quality and sustainability, using local materials as much as possible and paying the real cost of labor always. Basically, she wanted to make simple, good things for good people. And so she did for the next 50 years. In 2003, husband and wife team, Robin Petravic and Catherine Bailey purchased Heath Ceramics with a mission to revitalize the company, which was in a bit of a tough spot. By placing a strong emphasis on design, handcrafted techniques, and the reinvigoration of the company’s designer-maker legacy, Robin and Catherine have persevered. Today, Heath Ceramics is one of the few remaining American potteries still in existence and Edith’s values are still going strong. Every piece they sell is made in their Sausalito factory by a team of 60 craftsmen, and every piece is truly a work of art.

 

In early 2012,  Heath will expand their operation and open a tile factory in San Francisco, just a few miles from Jordan and I. It is absolutely wonderful to see a business who does things right in every sense of the word succeeding in this tough economy. And now for some photos …

Slip casting. Vases, mugs, teapots and other complex shapes are made this way.

Plaster molds and a lathe are used to create most of the dinnerware.

Each piece is then hand trimmed and sponged smooth.

Every piece dries in a 120 degree room for 24 – 48 hours to remove all the moisture from the clay so it doesn’t explode in the kiln.

Then the pieces are glazed. Aren’t the names of the glazes something! They make them all from scratch at Heath.

The pieces are then fired in a kiln for several hours. These are their holiday colors. So festive!

Gorgeous tile samples.

Tiles made by Edith after a visit to the Southwest.

The teapot is the most complex design they make at Heath.

The adorable designs on these dinner plates are hand etched.

And, I’ve got to say, coffee out of one of these mugs just tastes better.

If you’re interested in visiting Heath Ceramics, or just picking up a few wonderful handcrafted gifts for the upcoming holiday, visit their site for more information.

-Emily

squash stuffed with barley and chorizo

Walking down the hallway of the psychology building at school, Jordan ran into one of his fellow researchers who was enjoying a stuffed squash. He was instantly jealous. Nothing seemed more appropriate for the onset of fall weather than squash, a rustic grain, mushrooms and sausage all topped with cheese. And he said to me, “Make it so!”

Squash Stuffed with Barley and Chorizo
1 large or 2 medium squash (we used carnival, but acorn would also work. Butternut might be a bit sweet)
1/2 cup barley
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
8 oz button mushrooms, sliced
1 chorizo sausage
cheese for serving

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 45 minutes, until fork tender.

While the squash is baking, cook the barley. Boil 3 parts water with 1 part barley with a little dollop of butter. Once boiling, turn the heat down and cover. Simmer for 25 minutes, until the barley is tender.

While the barley is cooking, take the sausage out of its casing. Saute the sausage until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. In the same pan, sauté the onion in a the rendered chorizo fat. When the onion is translucent, add the garlic. Saute for a few minutes more and transfer to bowl with the chorizo. Add a little butter to the pan and sauté the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Once browned, add to the chorizo and onion mixture.

When the barley is finished cooking, add it to the onion, chorizo and mushroom mixture. Stir to combine and season again with salt and pepper. You want the filling to be flavorful on its own.

Once the squash is tender, remove from the oven and stuff with the barley mixture. Top with cheese — we used swiss, but Monterey jack, Gruyère or parmesan would all do— and put back in the oven for 10 more minutes to melt the cheese. This dish is very hearty and autumnal. We enjoyed it with a simple salad on the side.

-Emily

 

pumpkin ice cream

It is still fall, and so I continue to cook things with squashes. Plus, I had pumpkin puree left over from the pumpkin tea cake I made last week.

This pumpkin ice cream was tasty! The second day after freezing, it had a bit of a grainy texture. I’m not really sure why that happened, but there is really only one way to get to the bottom of it. More testing/tasting!

Pumpkin Ice Cream, adapted from David Lebovitz
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup  heavy cream
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
5 large egg yolks
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree

In a large bowl, make an ice bath. In a saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk and cream until hot. In another bowl, whisk together sugar, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and eggs yolks. Slowly pour the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking well. Pour this custard back into the saucepan. Stirring constantly, heat over medium until the custard has thickened.

Pour this custard through a sieve into a medium metal or glass bowl. Whisk in the brown sugar. Set in the ice water bath. Let the custard cool, stirring occasionally. Once cooled, stir in the vanilla and pumpkin. Pass the mixture back through the sieve.

Pour into your ice cream maker and freeze according to the machine’s instructions. Freeze the ice cream for several hours in the freezer if you’re able. But, there is no harm in enjoying it straight out of the ice cream maker either.

-Emily

pumpkin bread

It’s fall, which also makes it time to bust out pumpkin-everything. First up to the plate …  pumpkin bread. The sugar crust on this bread is lovely, the spices are perfectly balanced and it has a moist, delicate crumb. Basically it is everything you want from a quick bread.

Pumpkin Tea Cake, from the Tartine Bakery Cookbook
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 T plus 2 t cinnamon
2 t nutmeg, freshly ground if possible
1/4 t ground cloves
1 cup plus 2 T pumpkin puree
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/3 cups sugar
3/4 t salt
3 eggs
2 T sugar for topping

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Butter a loaf pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, soda and spices into the bowl of your stand mixer or a large bowl.

In another bowl, whisk together pumpkin, oil, sugar, and salt.  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. On low speed, mix the wet ingredients into the dry. Mix until just combined. You don’t want to over mix because it will make a tough bread.

Sprinkle with the sugar topping and bake for about an hour. Let cool in the pan for 20 minutes and then invert onto a rack to cool completely.

In what I thought was a stroke of pure genius, I decided to try to turn this pumpkin bread into pumpkin donut muffins. You might remember my life-changing donut muffin experience, but in case you need a refresher, check it out here. We thought that pumpkin donut muffins would be the crowning achievement of my life, but sadly (or perhaps not so sadly because now I still have future achievement to look forward to) the donut muffin topping did not really add anything to the pumpkin bread. This bread stands up perfectly well on its own. Those pumpkin donut muffins did look adorable though …

-Emily

pasta with roasted tomato sauce and bacon

In the past few weeks, I’ve made three variations on this recipe. The first was great but time-consuming, the second was delicious and will become my fallback recipe, and the third was our ultra-budget version that turned out better than expected. Here is how it all went down …

A few weekends ago, I was reading cookbooks and drinking coffee while Jordan slept in and Willow took up too much space in the bed. (It’s hard to kick something this cute out from under your covers, trust us).

I stumbled across a variation on Pasta Amatriciana—pasta with braised bacon and roasted tomato sauce—in the Zuni Cafe Cookbook. When Jordan woke up, I shared just the recipe title and he was sold. I set out to make this magical pasta. The recipe calls for slab bacon, which you then braise with a variety of vegetables and spices. Well, slab bacon is really hard to find, even at a fine market like Whole Foods. In a stroke of genius, I tied the cut bacon together so it re-formed a slab. Sadly, this does not work. My braised bacon was so bland; all of the smokey, salty flavor had leached into the broth and left the bacon beyond dull. There are few things sadder than flavorless bacon.

Fortunately, Jordan saved the dish by bringing home the back-up bacon. We sautéed that bacon and added it into the roasted tomato sauce, plus some of the braised bacon for texture. It worked well, but was slightly disappointing. The time-energy input did not match the deliciousness output.

The second time I made this recipe, I skipped right to adding sautéed bacon to the roasted tomato sauce. It is so good and so easy.

The last time I made this recipe, we had no bacon at all. We did however have some rendered bacon fat in our fridge. I sautéed the onions for the sauce in that bacon fat, and  like magic, delicious bacon flavor infused the whole sauce. It was unexpected and amazing and so inexpensive. The next time you cook bacon, pour the fat into a small bowl. Fill with the bowl some water to separate the fat from the burnt bits.  Refrigerate this mixture until the fat forms a solid mass on top of the water and carefully scoop the fat off the top. Sauté away, adding delicious bacon essence to whatever you cook!

Pasta with Roasted Tomato Sauce and Bacon, adapted from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook
1 16 oz jar of whole tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 T sugar
2 T olive oil or bacon fat
salt, pepper, chili flake
1/4 lb bacon, cut into lardon
1 lb pasta (we used ziti and penne).

*A is a beautiful photo of a technique that I don’t recommend you subject your bacon to.

Heat an oven to 475 degrees. Strain the tomatoes of their juice and reserve that juice. In an oven safe dish, add the strained tomatoes and a drizzle of olive oil. Roast the tomatoes for 20 – 30 minutes, until browned.

In a saute pan, saute the bacon until just cooked through. Remove from the pan and set aside. Pour off the excess fat, leaving a tablespoon or two. Sauté the onion in the bacon fat until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté two minutes more. Add the roasted tomatoes and reserved juice. Add sugar, salt, pepper and a pinch of chili flakes. Cook for 20 minutes and test for seasoning.

Meanwhile, put a pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta until al dente. When the pasta is nearly done, add the bacon back into the sauce. Toss the sauce with the cooked pasta and serve with a sprinkle of parmesan.

-Emily

larb—a delightful thai salad

I am a big fan of the Spilled Milk Podcast by Molly Wizenberg and Mathew Amester-Burton. It makes me laugh out loud—usually on my commute home—which in any other city might look weird, but in San Francisco just makes me typical. A few weeks ago they did an episode on Thai Salads and I was inspired to try this dish. The toasted rice component was irresistible.

This dish is typically served in cabbage leaves. You could also serve it over rice or noodles. Or —my preferred method—make little Thai burritos with cabbage leaves, rice and larb all wrapped up in one awesome bundle.

Larb Gai, adapted from Spilled Milk
1 pound ground chicken thighs or pork (breasts will dry out too much)
1/2 cup shallots, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons scallions, sliced
2 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons lime juice from 1 to 2 limes
1 teaspoon red chile flakes
2 to 3 tablespoons toasted rice powder (below)
cabbage or lettuce leaves leaves

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground chicken or pork, shallots, scallions, red pepper flakes, fish sauce, and lime juice. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is cooked through.

Turn the larb out into a bowl and cool for at least ten minutes. Stir in rice powder. Serve with cabbage or lettuce leaves for wrapping.

Toasted Rice Powder
1/4 white rice, uncooked

Place a dry skillet over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup white rice to the pan. Toast the rice, stirring and shaking the pan frequently, until the rice is golden-brown, about 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature and grind to a very fine powder in a spice grinder or coffee grinder. I used my magic bullet—thanks Dad!

Larb is as delicious as it is fun to say! Jordan and I really enjoyed this meal. We are also trying to invent more things to top with toasted rice powder! That stuff is awesome.

-Emily

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