Special sh#% holiday gift shopping

Special sh#% holiday gift shopping

I saw these bottles and thought it was TOTAL GENIUS marketing. A Texas company called Special Sh$% is making all sorts of seasonings and gift packs, just in case you – or a close frenemy – need a little bit of  savory sh&^ in your life. (Or your kitchen.) I can’t speak for the quality of the ingredients, at 12.95/bottle, I’ll wait for someone to give me a jar of my own some...
Late summer vegetable harvest, pickled

Late summer vegetable harvest, pickled

My vegetable crop was relatively small this year. One reason was out of my control; July and August were tremendously foggy this year. But I didn’t amend the soil or set up the drip irrigation like I did the past two years, and that certainly made a difference. But the crop made up in flavor what it lacked in bounty, the tiny radishes and carrots, green beans, and onion. For some reason I decided to pickle all of it using Monica Bhide’s recipe for pickled red onions. They turned into an excellent condiment for the week. And they’re pretty, too. Recipe: Combine 1-1/2 cups hot water with 1 cup white vinegar, 3 tablespoons sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a glass bow. Stir until sugar and salt dissolve, then add 1 thinly sliced red onion 2 serrano chilis halved lengthwise, and 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper. Stir, cover, and chill overnight. Use slotted spoon to transfer to plate. Keep chilled; can be made 1 week ahead of time....
Carrot and radish leaf pesto

Carrot and radish leaf pesto

When our week 3 CSA box arrived I was determined to use every bit of the animal – um, I meant vegetable – to the fullest. That meant getting creative with root vegetable greens, the fresh leafy tops from the radishes and carrots in the box. How cool would it be, I thought, to make pesto? I looked around online and found Chocolate & Zucchini had already pioneered that territory with radish greens alone. I followed the basic proportions of her recipe, improvising mostly by mixing up the greens and doubling up on the garlic. Here’s my version of the recipe; by the way, it’s not only deeply green but gluten free and vegetarian, too: Carrot and Radish Leaf Pesto   Save Print Prep time 15 mins Total time 15 mins   Radish leaf and carrot top pesto, adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini's Radish Leaf Pesto recipe. This recipe makes approximately 8 ounces. Author: Life in a Skillet Recipe type: sauce, condiment Ingredients - 2 large handfuls fresh radish leaves, thick main stems removed - 1 small handful carrot tops, thick main stems removed - 1 ounce grated pecorino cheese - 1 ounce toasted pine nuts - 2 cloves garlic, germ removed, cut in four - 3 tablespoons olive oil - salt and freshly ground lemon pepper to taste Instructions Toss all the ingredients in a blender and pulse in short bursts. Scrape the sides of the bowl and repeat until you have a finely textured paste. Spoon out into a glass jar and keep refrigerated. Wordpress Recipe Plugin by EasyRecipe 3.1.09   Don’t wait for pizza night; this...
Spicy pickled vegetables

Spicy pickled vegetables

Here’s a quick recipe for pickled vegetables for you to play around with. I’d been making a batch of pickled red onions every couple of month ever since I found Monica Bhide’s recipe in a magazine last year and finally started playing around with it to mix up the color and flavors. I love this version – it’s a gorgeous mixture of oranges, yellows, and purples – and it tastes just fabulous. Crunch, tang, spice, a bit of sweet . . . we’ve been adding it to everything from pizza to hot dogs to hummus and spinach tortilla wraps. Plus, it’s vegan, gluten-free, and has that super-healthy boost turmeric provides. Best of all, it’s a simple recipe that keeps for – well, I don’t know how long it will keeps. We’ve always eaten this size batch within 2 weeks. This is all you do. Pour 1 cup very hot water in a 2-quart Pyrex mixing bowl. Stir in 1 tbsp sugar and stir until dissolved. Add 1 tbsp turmeric and stir again Now add: One thinly sliced red onion 3 ribs thinly julienned celery 1 bunch thinly sliced radishes 1 cup shredded carrot a pinch of red pepper flakes Cover with white vinegar, and your work is done. Just snap on the lid, place the container in the refrigerator, and let the turmeric and vinegar do their thing for 6-8 hours. Drain the mixture well before serving; a colander works best. Store unused portion in the vinegar mixture in the refrigerator....

Taste memory of Loreto: pineapple and jalapeño salsa

“If we’re in Mexico, does the menu really have to say Mexican food?” This from my very astute Kid Two while reading the offerings at Loreto’s La Palapa, a tourist destination-type restaurant conveniently situated between the ocean and the town square. I had a few menu questions of my own, like why are the chicken fajitas and chicken in mole sauce listed under “Fowls” instead of included with the Mexican offerings? And in that spirit, shouldn’t the beef shish kabob have been more properly labeled as “Turkish” instead of under “Meats?” And why didn’t they get someone to spell-check the English translations? – “garlinc” “snaper” and “chesse” all snuck by, preserved forever under laminating paper.   La Palapa was highly recommended by the expat sitting next to me on the plane, a golf-playing blonde of a certain age on her way back from taking care of some business back in Portland. I can picture her there – sunburned nose on a hot summer night, a table with a pitcher of margaritas and her three best friends – a reliable spot to laugh a lot and sing a little, a place to start the night with fresh ceviche and guacamole and end it with a couple of tacos and a plate of fries to soak up the booze. Anyway . . . I’m being a little snarky, but I get why people like the place. It’s got energy – mariachi music, splashed with color, and an awesome kitschy thatched palm roof – and the food was fresh and perfectly fine. It has to be tricky, trying to stay in business by catering to the whims...

Ollalie-peary jam

The sweet, juicy ollalieberry – hybridized grandchild of the blackberry, raspberry, and dewberry vines – resembling like a knobby oversized version of its forerunners, growing best in tangled brambles along the foggy California coast. Here in Santa Cruz, ollalieberry muffins and pies abound during the all-too-short six week summer harvesting season. Happily, a local grower – Gizdich Ranch freezes enough 4-pound bags of the succulent fruit to keep aficionados with a taste of summer during these bleaker months. I had planned on making ollalieberry jam for my Christmas goodie bags but wanted to kick it up the proverbial notch from a sweet jelly to something a little more spicy and elegant, and I literally woke up one morning thinking, I know! I’ll add pear! and cardamom! It will be great! I did, and it was. It’s plenty sweet, even with half as much sugar as I found in other recipes, and the fruit pairs really well with cardamom’s heady, spicy-sweet taste. Here it is for you to try, my improvised recipe for ollalieberry-pear jam. Ollalie-peary jam 7 cups frozen ollalieberries, thawed 5 cups peeled, cored, and chopped pears 3 cups water 1 tsp cardamom 1 package pectin While berries are thawing, peel, core, and cube the pears. I made the mistake of simmering them in water thinking they would soften sufficiently; the best thing to do at this step is to puree them if you’d like a smooth jam or chop them into smaller chunks if you’d like your jam a bit chunkier. I opted for smooth jam. Place your berries, pears, and water into a Dutch oven. Bring...
Bacon jam – the best recipe yet

Bacon jam – the best recipe yet

December 14, 2011. My 21st anniversary of meeting LL and the 20th anniversary of our engagement. An occasion that called for – at the very least – a dinner treat – but dinner was elusive that night. Kid Two had a 6:00 keyboard lesson, his first with a new teacher, former Doobie Brother Dale Ockerman. While he was making music I drove to Whole Paycheck – I mean Whole Foods – to find something to make for dinner. The pizza boys were too busy shuffling around looking busy to help me out, the salad bar was a bit wilted, and the fish department smelled fishy. Feeling put out, I left, mentally figuring out Plan B. We stopped by Gayle’s Bakery on the way home but the Blue Plate Special had sold out by 7:30 and I didn’t feel like ficelles and twice-baked potatoes. So. I dropped Kid Two off at home and went for the big splurge – take-out from Bittersweet Bistro. Turned out to be a serendipitous choice  . . . one of their dinner specials was Bacon Jam Pizza! I’d already made two batches of my own bacon jam in search of the perfect recipe, and finally something to compare my effort to. And Bittersweet’s pizzas are nicely done; a plate-sized pie with thin crust and tasty toppings applied sparingly. So I loaded up, and by 9pm – on a school night –  we finally all sat down to dinner: sliders for Kid Two, steak sandwich for Kid One, Mediterranean pasta for Mija, beef stroganoff for LL. Sadly, though, my bacon jam pizza manifested itself as a Bacon Chicken...

Caesar dressing recipe

Yesterday, fresh off the plane from 24 hours in Las Vegas, I drove straight to the harbor to meet my mother and father-in-law. They brought sandwiches and bottles of water, and as we sat and watched Kid Two’s sailing lessons it dawned on me that the Santa Cruz Harbor is probably the exact opposite of Las Vegas. As we walked, tracking the progress of Kid Two’s Coronado 15 out into the bay, my father-in-law told me he would be making dinner that night following his favorite Caesar salad recipe. Here is how he got it: one day, years ago, after thoroughly enjoying a tableside Caesar preparation in Carmel Valley by a server, he asked for the recipe. The server was very forthcoming, writing it down and giving instructions on the finer points of the prep. It’s the first entry into my “secret” family recipe file so I’m eager to post it. This recipe stands as was written, but Grandpa C. said he adjusts to use an entire can of anchovies because that’s the way Grandma likes it. Looking at the recipe, I realize there’s lots of room for adjustments – I recommend starting with 1/4 tsp mustard and 1 crushed clove garlic and go from there. Turn it into an entree by adding grilled chicken, shrimp, tofu, or whatever floats your particular boat; whatever your twist, I’m curious to hear how it turns out: Grandpa C’s Caesar dressing recipe: smash 6 fillets anchovies add crushed garlic add dry mustard add 1/2 tsp worchescester add 2 tbsp wine vinegar add 1/4 cup olive oil add 1 tsp mayo Tear the leaves...