Tasty yuzu stir-fry recipe

Tasty yuzu stir-fry recipe

The tube of yuzu paste a friend brought me back from Japan a few months ago had been mocking me from the refrigerator door for several months. It was something I’d never encountered before; it has in intriguing sweetly sour, citrus and chili flavor that seemed would be perfect in something. I just didn’t know what, and because of the small tube size, I didn’t want any to go to waste in failed experiments. But this weekend I needed a fast and simple dinner improvised a stir-fry that goes down as The Best Stir Fry Recipe Ever. All I used was is cooked rice, a bit of olive oil, a shallot, ham, frozen peas – and the yuzu paste, literally the only seasoning. It was perfect – just enough heat to get your attention, and just enough citrus to add a pop. I actually made this twice because everyone liked it so much. To be honest, the only reason I used ham and peas is because that’s what was on hand. Ham steak leftover from Friday night pizza night, and I frozen peas as part of my basic stock – not because I think they are particularly delicious, but because they make good ice packs for cold therapy. Fortunately this was an unused bag. And equally fortunately, it turns out I can easily buy more through Amazon.com. It’s called yuzu kosho, or yuzu and peppers, and the ingredients are yuzu, green chili peppers, and salt. Mmmm. Turns out yuzu paste aficionados have some illustrious company – Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto integrates the ingredient into recipes at his eponymous New York City restaurant....
Pasta con broccoli recipe

Pasta con broccoli recipe

Nights are getting longer and colder, and that means dinners are getting a little heartier and warmer. . . time for Pasta House Company-style pasta con broccoli with their house salad. Make it at your house with these recipes.

Battle zucchini

Battle zucchini

Stick with me to the end and I’ll share some zucchini dinner ideas with you. After five days in St. Louis hanging out with mystery writers at Bouchercon, I came home with a recharged imagination and chaos in the garden. Seemed that summer ended in my absence. The pea plants turned yellow; leftover pods shriveled on the vine. Barren Roma tomato vines withered into dried brown tentacles. The last of the spinach leaves were riddled with moth holes, and the zucchini leaves had mildewed. So on the first day of autumn, I cleared away the detritus and harvested all the veggie booty I could find. Here’s the loot: Those #$*% zucchini again. Again! The biggest ones there are 5 – 8 pounders, and the summer squash that never quite got off the ground started going crazy. I tried to do my best by the harvest. Zucchini risotto. Another gallon of zucchini marinara. 5 loaves of zucchini bread. Zucchini on pizza. Zucchini sticks. Zucchini egg cups. I even bought this awesome spiral slicer and we had zucchini “noodles” with olive oil and meatballs. By Saturday – a full three weeks later after that harvest – we’d lost any semblance of desire for zucchini. But there were two monsters left.  So I gathered the Kids and the pumpkin-carving tools and told them to go ahead and crush the courgettes. Meet Daphne and Velma, the fruits of their labors, our first jack-‘o-zucchini lanterns: A creative end to the zucchini problem. I used to have a couple zucchini around year-round to add to stir fry or pasta sauce or to saute with garlic as a side...
How to stuff a wild zucchini

How to stuff a wild zucchini

The zucchini have gone completely wild this year. It didn’t start out that way; they were actually slow to grow. I planted the 4″ starts the second week of May; by the third week of June they’d barely doubled in size. So I worked a handful of Dr. Earth into the soil and got the drip irrigation going. Drip, drop, drip, drop, 1 gallon psi for 30 minutes every other day. With a week 3 foot high stems sporting dinner plate-sized leaves waved high in the air. One day I found a monstrous 3 pound zucchini I swear hadn’t existed the day before. I went away the second week of July and, returning home, discovered the zucchini had gone completely wild. They’d snuck out of their raised bed, crowded out the cucumber and spinach, and sported platter-sized leaves. Hidden underneath were dozens of tastefully-sized baby zucchini . . . dinner! I’d just been reading the Southwest Airlines flight magazine featuring this recipe for zucchini carpaccio recipe, so we were on. I didn’t worry too much about arranging the thinly sliced squash in lovely pattern on the plate, just sliced, sprinkled drizzled, and ate – and it was so good! Dinner from the garden – a fantasy coming true. We’ve made it several time since, occasionally using white balsamic vinegar and leaving out the olive oil and lemon, depending on what’s handy. Then we started harvesting zucchini blossoms – they’ve starred in over a dozen meals over the last 8 weeks – and they really are the best part of the plant.  We’ve eaten them stuffed with mozzarella and chives, dredged in...
Squash blossoms in paradise

Squash blossoms in paradise

Here’s a question: if you were stranded on a desert island and could bring one book with you with the stipulation that all your food – recipes as well as ingredients – must come from that book, what book would you choose? (be sure to answer the question in the comments; prize for the best answer!) My friend at Novelbite would definitely be able to recommend an actual piece of literature that would have enough sustenance in food AND story. For me, though, there’s no question – I’d choose a cookbook – California Rancho Cooking. I found it several years ago in Sutter’s Fort gift shop in Sacramento during Kid Two’s fourth-grade pilgrimage to our state’s capital. The fort was built in 1821; much still stands as a visual demonstration of life in that era. Recognizing author Jacqueline Higuera McMahon’s name from her occasional San Francisco Chronicle food section stories, I bought it immediately. It turned out to be was a perfect book for the place; she’s an eight-generation Californian whose family received one of last Spanish land grant ranchos in 1821, just before Mexican independence. Ok, so it’s thin on plot, but she sprinkles in enough glimpses of rancho life to keep my imagination flowing on a desert island. Plus, the flavor of life on a rancho is mouth-watering; from simple breakfasts of sweet milk tortillas to picnics of spicy chicken and potato salad to celebrations studded with Chilean empanadas and sweet tamales, those Spanish and Mexican roots come through strong. It’s the perfect book for my sense of place, too. I know why there’s a recipe featuring wild mustard greens; I...
Tartiflette

Tartiflette

Short days and cool nights often call for a rich, hearty entree. Try this tartiflette, a type of potatoes au gratin with ham that is made using the distinctive reblochon cheese. Delicious!

Pork ragu inspired by La Posta

Tomorrow is our 19th wedding anniversary – 19 truly blissful years of living a cozy family-centric life by the sea. I’m completely appreciative of this life and these years, because it wasn’t always like this. Before LL I lived a comparatively vampirish life as a twenty-something back in St. Louis, energy waxing with sunset and waning at sunrise, tending bar until 1am then hitting a late-night spot or two to unwind. Moving through florescent and neon in a smoky haze. Weekend or weekday. Watching. Waiting. Wishing. Then I made the cross-country move and discovered what I was looking for en plein air, life softly lit by the sea. I met LL and we were married in fairly short order, a family of two we quickly doubled in size. Old habits died fast and hard with babies and bills to take care of, and over the years my weeknight schedule has been unvarying: homework, dinner, TV, tuck-ins, books, and bed. A couple glasses of wine thrown in for good measure. But the boys are older now, and life continues to change. Kid One spent last month in Argentina and Kid Two, of legal age to stay home alone, spent much of his winter break playing computer games with a new friend in Tasmania. So one Tuesday LL and I went out – at night! on a school night! – to join friends for dinner. Child-free and driving in the dark, two things I used to do every single night felt very strange to me now. We calculated that this most likely was literally the first time in our 19 year marriage...

A tale of two sausages

It wasn’t unusual that LL and I were each reading last weekend. It was unusual, though, that at the exact same moment each of us reached a page in our respective books that contained a recipe. Recipes written by people famous for something other than cooking. Plus, neither book was a cookbook. And each recipe involved sausage. My book was As Always, Julia, a book I’ve been savoring in small bites for several weeks now, completely impressed with how incredibly smart, thoughtful, busy, and passionate these two women were. And they knew everyone! One of my favorite bits is this excerpt from a letter Avis deVoto wrote to Julia Child about making her special spaghetti sauce, a recipe given to her by the poet John Ciardi – how cool is that? It was a blast from the past; I loved the word histories he did for NPR that I listened to back in my college-public-radio-reporting days. Here’s the recipe, which Avis wrote takes about five hours to make: 5 large onions sliced and softened in nearly a cup of olive oil, then two cans tomato paste, two cans tomato sauce, quart can solid pack tomatoes – garlic salt, bay leaf, caraway, basil, Italian parsley. Then eighteen Italian sausages fried gently and simmered in the sauce for couple hours. These are the fresh sausages made of pork butt and Marsala and garlic, fat and marbled pink and white – nothing like ordinary pork sausages and they don’t cook apart, they’re quite firm and rich and garlicky. The onions cook away to nothing and the sauce is intensely tomatoey. Then imported pasta cooked at the...