Mary’s Bread • from the Beachside Quilting Retreat

 - by Elizabeth

Marysbread_9At our recent Beachside Quilting Retreat, Mary — our hostess — brought a loaf of bread to serve us that first night and we all raved over it, asking her lots of questions, jotting down the recipe.  Two days later, when we went to Summerland’s antique store, where we found two pumpkin-shaped Le Creuset pots: I bought one and she bought the other, and that afternoon, we had a bread-making lesson in between all the sewing and quilting.  While the ingredients are simple and easily whipped into a ragged-looking dough, it’s her cooking method that sets this bread apart.  The heavy enameled cast-iron pot is set into a cold oven, which is then preheated for a long period of time.  This is what she calls the “brick-oven” method of baking as heat and moisture surrounds the baking dough, ensuring a nice crust.  This recipe makes three loaves.Marysbread_1
Measure out 3 cups lukewarm water.  Add 1 and 1/2 T. yeast (2 packages of regular yeast) and 1 T. kosher salt (table salt is okay); let it sit for a few minutes to “bloom.”  Stir in 32 oz. flour, roughly 6 to 7 cups.  Stir with big spoon and cover with plastic wrap, letting it rise in a corner of the kitchen. While it will rise for a total of 2 hours, after it’s risen for roughly 1 hour set the cast iron pot with its lid into a cold oven and preheat the oven for 45 minutes to a temperature of 475 degrees F.

Marysbread_3When the dough has risen for two hours, divide into thirds by grabbing about one-third of the dough. Mary says it’s ragged looking, but keep going. Using lots of flour that’s been spread onto either a pastry cloth or a cutting board, shape it into a ball. Cut an “X” into the top of the dough using a sharp knife or razor blade.

Marysbread_4 Marysbread_5Set ball into hot pan, being careful not to burn yourself. Cover with the preheated lid and cook for 20 minutes.

Marysbread_8Uncover, and cook for 10 more minutes or until it is a nice golden brown. Either tip out the bread — or grab from the pot — onto a counter and/or rack; let cool.

Cook’s Notes:
On the second and third loaf (since the dough has been in the fridge), put the dough out onto the floured surface to come to room temp while the oven heats up. Mary says she has left the dough in the fridge for as long as 12 days. The only noticeable effect has been that the dough gets more sour-tasting.

Panzanella

 - by Elizabeth

PanzanellaI’ve made all types of panzanella, but I think this recipe is really fabulous.  I was traveling in Scandinavia, where the travel author Rick Steves says their favorite vegetable is a potato, and began thinking of my garden back home, wondering how many tomatoes would be ready to pick when I returned.  In scanning the news one morning, The Washington Post published this recipe and I couldn’t wait to try it.  So the first thing I did when we climbed out of our car after our long trip was to check the garden for tomatoes.  But to my horror, the irrigation systems had been shut off while we gone, and my garden experienced the full force of 100+ degree temperatures: it was crispy and no tomatoes.  So I used some high-quality tomatoes from Costco for this dish and it was still good.  I can only imagine what it would have been with my own.

I purchased a sour dough loaf from Trader Joe’s for the bread, cutting off nearly half of to keep to the 8-ounce requirement.

Recipe adapted from recipes by chef-restaurateur Fabio Trabocchi of Fiola, and from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, culinary director of SeriousEats.com.

Ingredients
3 cups packed, torn pieces sourdough bread (including crusts; from an 8-ounce loaf)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 1/4 pounds ripe heirloom tomatoes, hulled and cut into bite-size wedges
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Freshly cracked black pepper
10 fresh basil leaves, stacked, rolled and cut into very thin slices (chiffonade)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Arrange the bread pieces on a rimmed baking sheet, then drizzle half of the oil over them and toss to coat. Bake for 15 minutes, until the bread is dried and fragrant but not browned. Let cool.

Meanwhile, place the tomatoes in a colander set over a mixing bowl. Sprinkle the tomatoes with the teaspoon of salt; let them drain for about 20 minutes (no more), gently tossing them every few minutes. Transfer the tomatoes to a serving bowl along with the cooled bread pieces; toss to incorporate. Reserve the tomato juices in their bowl; there should be a scant half-cup. [Note: I had more, and used it all.]

Add the garlic, shallot and vinegar to those juices, then gradually whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to form an emulsified vinaigrette. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Pour over the tomato-bread mixture; use your clean hands to gently toss and coat.

Scatter the basil over the salad; serve right away.

Pasta with Burst Cherry Tomatoes

 - by Elizabeth

IMG_6033This recipe, found on the New York Times’ Recipe Site is a total winner, if you’ve got cherry tomatoes going gangbusters in the garden, which I do.  Melissa Clark made hers with red tomatoes, but I always plant the little golden plum cherry tomatoes and they keep going when all the other toms in the garden have given up because of the heat.  While she calls for fusilli pasta, any small shaped pasta will do.  I adjusted the ratio of tomato mixture to pasta, using a little bit less pasta than she called for.  Lastly, my garden’s mint wasn’t producing, so I omitted that as well, but I’m looking forward to trying it!

IMG_60311 pound fusilli pasta
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
6 ounces pancetta, preferably thick cut, diced (available at Trader Joe’s)
4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Fine sea salt and black pepper, as needed
1 quart cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
3 tablespoons butter
Fresh ricotta cheese, for serving (optional)
3 cups whole mint leaves, torn (I didn’t use)
4 scallions, preferably red scallions for color, thinly sliced
Flaky sea salt, to finish

PREPARATION

  1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until 1 minute shy of al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking water.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat for 15 seconds, then add the oil and heat until it thins out and easily coats the pan when swirled. Add pancetta and cook until it starts to render its fat, about 2 minutes. Add garlic, red pepper flakes and a large pinch of salt and pepper and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until they burst, turn golden at the edges and shrivel up slightly, about 5 to 8 minutes.
  3. Add pasta to pan and toss with tomato-pancetta mixture; if the mixture looks dry add a little pasta cooking water a few tablespoons at a time. Cook over high heat until the pasta finishes cooking in the sauce. Add the butter and toss until it melts and coats everything.
  4. Divide pasta among warmed pasta bowls. Garnish with dollops of ricotta if desired, and top with a generous mound of fresh mint and scallions. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and more pepper before serving.

Zucchini Pasta

 - by Elizabeth

IMG_5831

This dish came about because we had too much zucchini in our garden.  Well — instead of too much — a bounteous harvest of zucchini.  I found this recipe on the New York Times website, and followed it pretty much to the letter.

Ingredients
2 pounds zucchini
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

¼
cup freshly grated Parmesan, for serving (more to taste)
¼ cup (approximately) light cream
IMG_5826
Wash several zucchini from the garden; pat dry.  Slice off lengthwise ribbons of zucchini, using a vegetable peeler.  Peel off several ribbons from one side, then turn the zucchini and peel off more ribbons. Continue to turn and peel off ribbons until you get to the seeds at the core of the zucchini. Discard the core. You can also do this on a mandolin, adjusted to a very thin slice.
IMG_5829
Heat 1 Tablespoon of the oil in a large non-stick pan, over medium-high heat, and when it is hot, add about half of the zucchini ribbons, salt and pepper.  Toss and cook, keeping the zucchini in motion until it is just soft and barely transluscent, but not browned (about 2-3 minutes).  Set aside, and cook the second batch.IMG_5830Put both batches back in the pan, and pour over a little bit of cream, then add the grated cheese, again tossing lightly over medium heat.  Adjust salt and add freshly ground pepper to taste, and transfer to a serving dish.We topped ours with a fresh bruschetta-type tomato sauce.

Brined Porchetta Pork Chops

 - by Elizabeth

Pochetta Pork CHops_1 Pochetta Pork CHopsWhile looking for a recipe for the newly purchased pork chops from the Big Box store, I found this one.  But every caution says to use a pork chop with the bone still in. . . but mine were boneless.  So I compromised by brining them, and they turned out delicious.  The porchetta part is a variation of Melissa Clark’s recipe from the New York Times.

2 bone-in pork chops, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches thick
2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt, plus a pinch–divided
1 cup apple juice
1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
Large pinch red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed
2 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds, more for garnish (nice, if you have them, but the recipe will survive without them)
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preparation

To brine: Put the chops in a quart freezer ziploc bag, or a container that is fits the chops snugly.  Mix together 1 teaspoon kosher salt and the apple juice, and pour over the chops.  Let brine overnight, then discard brine and proceed with recipe.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Pat pork chops dry and, using a very sharp paring knife, cut a large pocket into the fat-covered edge of each chop. Season chops all over with 1 teaspoon salt, including inside pockets.

Finely grate zest from lemon and put in a small bowl. Cut lemon lengthwise in quarters for serving (opt).

Using the flat side of a knife, mash garlic with a pinch of salt until you get a paste. Add to the bowl with the lemon zest and stir in rosemary, red pepper flakes, fennel seeds, 2 tablespoons fennel fronds and 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Divide filling between pork chops, stuffing some inside pockets and rubbing the rest on the outside.

Heat a large ovenproof skillet over high heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sear pork chops on one side for 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Gently turn over chops and cook for another minute, then transfer skillet to oven. Cook until meat is just done, about 5 to 10 minutes longer (internal temperature should read 135 degrees on a meat thermometer). Transfer pork chops to a plate, tent with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with fennel fronds and lemon wedges.

Judy’s Tomato Soup

 - by Elizabeth

Tom Soup1 Tomatoes

This tomato soup had its origins in a basketfull of tomatoes from our garden, and the winter delivery of a care package from my friend Judy, who is an amazing cook.  In her little dish was the best fresh tomato soup I’ve tasted, and it wasn’t until I was laid up with some surgery that she finally relinquished the recipe.Tomatoes prepped

Wash and cut in half a number of Roma-type tomatoes; no need to core.  Lay them skin-side down on a foil-lined rimmed cookie sheet or a broiler pan.  If you have eating tomatoes, cut those into approximate sized chunks.  Add one onion, chunked.  Squish three cloves of garlic over the tomatoes.  Drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil, and then liberally salt and pepper the tomatoes.Tomatoes roasted

Bake in a preheated oven at 425 for 40 minutes, until they are tender and even a little bit cooked down.

Place in a pot, and drizzle over some good-quality balsamic vinegar (about 1/4 cup).  With a stick blender, whir the mixture smooth, adding chicken broth as needed to bring it to soup consistency (probably about 3/4 to 1 cup of broth).

Now adjust for flavor.  Some things I usually add are:
fresh basil, snipped
heavy pinch of red pepper flakes
salt (to taste)
pepper
and if I have no fresh basil, I add about 2 Tbls homemade pesto.

Some garnishes are:
chunks of avocado
croutons
Hatch chiles, if they are in season (roast on BBQ, remove skins)

Tom Soup Garnishes Tom Soup withi Garnish

We roasted our tomatoes and onion, then placed them in a gallon-sized resealable bag and placed it in the freezer.  To prepare, we thawed the tomatoes and proceeded with the soup, as above. Tom Soup2

Quince with Cipollini Onions and Bacon

 - by Elizabeth

quince recipe

Another New York Times recipe, this is also interesting and delicious.  It all started when I had a quince and apple pie at our quilter’s night (thank you, Simone) and then the New York Times did a fabulous feature on all these recipes from all over the United States, where I found this one.  I think it’s a stellar side dish for Thanksgiving.  Because there are two of us, I halved it, so that’s what you see in the photos.

quince quince recipe1 quince recipe2

Ingredients
1 pound cipollini onions
2 ½ to 3 pounds quinces (about 5), peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
6 tablespoons pure syrup
½ pound thick-cut bacon
4 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar
¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
Leaves from 5 sprigs fresh thyme

Preparation

cipolini  Bring 2 quarts water to a boil, add the onions, turn off the heat and let sit 5   minutes. Drain and allow to cool.  {NOTE: The packaging from the onions said to cut off one end, and then kind of “squirt” out the inner onion out of its skin.  I did this.}

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Toss quinces with half the maple syrup and spread in a single layer in a large baking pan. Bake 25 minutes, until tender.

Peel and trim the onions. Quarter large ones; cut small ones in half. Fry bacon in a large sauté pan over medium heat until browned. Remove and drain on paper towels. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat. Add onions to the pan and sauté on medium until lightly browned, about 6 minutes.

Cut bacon strips in 3/4-inch pieces. Add to pan with onions. Reduce heat to low. Add remaining maple syrup and the vinegar. Fold in quince. Add nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Add parsley and thyme. Gently fold ingredients together. Cook a few minutes, then serve warm.

 

Cranberry Sauce, version 2014

 - by Elizabeth

cranberry sauceI wanted to try a new version of cranberry sauce this year, and found this one on the New York Times website.  However, theirs asked for pinot noir and I have no idea what that is, but I think it’s wine.  Since I don’t drink alcohol, I tried it with grape juice and it was still really delicious.  The recipe is still in beta-testing, but I feel reasonably confident about it, so here it is.

Cranberry Sauce
20 minutes, plus cooling 2 1/2 cups
10 whole allspice berries (I took that to mean “whole allspice”; see note below)
10 whole cloves
10 whole black peppercorns
4 cups fresh or thawed frozen cranberries
1 1/3 cups grape juice
splash of rice vinegar
1 cup light brown sugar, loosely packed
1 cup clover or wildflower honey
1 cup fresh orange juice
6 strips orange zest, about 1 inch by 3 inches, removed with a vegetable peeler
2 (4-inch) sprigs rosemary
1 small cinnamon stick
1 vanilla pod

Preparation

Combine allspice, cloves and peppercorns in a spice grinder or coffee grinder and pulse until finely ground. [NOTE: So, I just used 1/2 teaspoon each of allspice, cloves and pepper, as I didn’t have a grinder.]

In a medium saucepan, combine cranberries, wine, brown sugar, honey, orange juice, orange zest, rosemary, cinnamon stick and ground spices.

With the tip of a paring knife, split vanilla pod lengthwise. Use the back of the knife to scrape seeds from pod. Add seeds and pod to pot.

Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring often, until cranberries have burst and liquid thickens slightly, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and discard zest, rosemary sprigs, cinnamon stick and vanilla pod. Transfer mixture to a bowl and let cool.

 

Change-Your-Life Turkey

 - by Elizabeth

Turkey all doneOr at least that’s what Bon Appetit Magazine calls it: “The Turkey That Will Change Your Life.”  I’m never having it another way.  Yep, I’ve found THE recipe, and here it is:

Spatchcocked Turkey with Anise and Orange, from Bon Appetit, November 2014

To start, watch this video:
http://video.bonappetit.com/watch/thanksgiving-manual-how-to-spatchcock-a-turkey

Most butchers will remove the backbone for you. Lots of guests? Roast two 12–14-pounders; spatchcocking anything larger will be harder and takes longer.

Ingredients

Servings: 8–10

5 teaspoons aniseed
½ cup kosher salt
¼ cup finely grated orange zest, plus 4 wide strips orange zest
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh rosemary, sprig reserved
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, sprigs reserved
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 12–14-lb. turkey (neck, giblets, and backbone removed and reserved)
2 medium onions, quartered
4 large carrots, peeled, halved
4 celery stalks
3 heads garlic, halved
½ cup olive oil

Preparation
Toast aniseed in a dry small skillet over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Let cool; finely grind in a spice mill or a mortar and pestle. (Alternatively, chop with a knife, or do what I do: put it in a small resealable bag and pound it with a food mallet.)

Finely chop salt, grated zest, sugar, chopped rosemary, thyme leaves, pepper, and 4 tsp. aniseed in a food processor.

Place turkey, skin side down, on a cutting board. Use a knife to score down long oblong bone in the center of breast. Turn skin side up and press down on breastbone to flatten. You should hear a crack and feel the bones give way. Rub all over with salt mixture; place turkey, skin side up, on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet and chill, uncovered, 6–18 hours. (Note: Of course, I forgot to do this, so I put it in the refrigerator that morning, then roasted it about 4 hours later, and it was still amazing.)

Turkey into ovenPreheat oven to 450°. Arrange onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and thyme and rosemary sprigs in a roasting pan. Rinse turkey, pat dry, and place, skin side up, on top of vegetables; let sit at room temperature 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil, orange zest strips, and remaining aniseed in a small saucepan until oil is sizzling, about 2 minutes; let cool slightly.

Turkey on boardBrush turkey with oil, add ½ cup water to pan, and roast turkey 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350° and continue to roast, brushing with oil every 20 minutes, until skin is deep golden brown and crisp and an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165°, about 1 hour longer. Transfer to a platter; tent with foil and let rest at least 30 minutes before carving.

Here’s their version of how to cut it up:

spatchcocked-turkey

from here

Hummus

 - by Elizabeth

HummusI whipped up a batch of hummus a while ago, based on this excellent recipe from the blog Inspired Taste.  While I list the ingredients here, head over there to see their video and their tips.  My sister-in-law Julie tipped me off to this–and they are right.  It is easy to make and really good.

Ingredients
one 15-ounce can (425 grams) chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans
1/4 cup (59 ml) fresh lemon juice, about 1 large lemon
1/4 cup (59 ml) tahini (I use their Homemade Tahini recipe, see below)
half of a large garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt, depending on taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 to 3 tablespoons water
dash of ground paprika for serving

Directions
In the bowl of a food processor, combine tahini and lemon juice. Process for 1 minute. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl then turn on and process for 30 seconds, as it whips up the tahini, making a smooth and creamy hummus possible.

Add olive oil, minced garlic, cumin and the salt to the whipped tahini and lemon juice mixture. Process for 30 seconds, scrape sides and bottom of bowl then process another 30 seconds.

Open can of chickpeas, drain liquid then rinse well with water. Add half of the chickpeas* to the food processor then process for 1 minute. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl, add remaining chickpeas and process for 1 to 2 minutes or until thick and quite smooth.

Most likely the hummus will be too thick or still have tiny bits of chickpea. To fix this, with the food processor turned on, slowly add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water until the consistency is perfect. Scrape the hummus into a bowl then drizzle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the top and sprinkle with paprika.

Store homemade hummus in an airtight container and refrigerate up to one week.

*On their website they did a comparison of hummus between slipping off all the chickpea skins, and not slipping them off before processing. After I saw the photos, I decided that I’d leave the skins on as it didn’t seem to make that much of a difference.

Charlie and HummusHere’s our grandson Charlie enjoying a bit of hummus on his pita bread.

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Tahini Paste (from Inspired Taste)

Ingredients
1 cup (5 ounces or 140 grams) sesame seeds, we prefer hulled
3 to 4 tablespoons neutral flavored oil such as grape seed, canola or a light olive oil
Pinch of salt

Directions
Add sesame seeds to a wide, dry saucepan over medium-low heat and toast, stirring constantly until the seeds become fragrant and very lightly colored (not brown), 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer toasted seeds to a baking sheet or large plate and cool completely. (Careful here, sesame seeds can burn quickly).
Add sesame seeds to the bowl of a food processor then process until a crumbly paste forms, about 1 minute. Add 3 tablespoons of the oil then process for 2 to 3 minutes more, stopping to scrape the bottom and sides of the food processor a couple times. Check the tahini’s consistency. It should be smooth, not gritty and should be pourable. You may need to process for another minute or add the additional tablespoon of oil.
Taste the tahini for seasoning then add salt to taste. Process 5 to 10 seconds to mix it in.
Store tahini covered in the refrigerator for one month. You may notice it separates over time, like a natural peanut butter would. If this happens, give the tahini a good stir before using.