Friday, December 10, 2010

Blueberry Danish

blueberry danish, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

I used to make this blueberry danish quite a bit, but it relies heavily on a food processor and when our old cheapo food processor died several years ago, we didn't replace it. However, thanks to Costco, we now have a fantastic new food processor and we have been using it almost every day. I don't know why we just didn't get one as soon as the old one broke because we really do use it a lot.

The danish is from a food magazine from years go. It is fairly low fat, using low fat cottage cheese in the crust and low fat cream cheese in the filling. The dough and the filling are both made very quickly and easily in the food processor. What really makes this recipe is the blueberries--it requires a lot of fresh blueberries. The recipe specifically says "use only fresh blueberries." I was surprised to find fresh blueberries at this time of year, but they were very tasty. Perhaps I will make a few of these now that I have the tools to make it.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Favorite Breakfast

favorite breakfast, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

As you may already know, I am a big fan of potatoes. I have discovered the fastest and tastiest breakfast that perfectly satisfies my potato jones.

The ingredients can vary depending on what you have one hand--onions, green onions, garlic, fresh herbs, etc.

But the basic recipe involves 1/2 bag of frozen hash browns, an egg, olive oil (maybe 1/2 a tablespoon) and some spices (and I always include catsup, but that is up to you).

Heat the olive oil in a pan on medium/high heat until shimmering. If you are going to add onions or some other kind of fresh veggies, this would be the time to add them in the pan and soften them before adding the potatoes.

Add the potatoes and then add herbs and spices of your choice--one combo that the Crusader likes is a pinch each of cayenne, garlic powder, and paprika. Add salt and pepper to taste and then cook until the potatoes are done all the way through and slightly browned.

Then, crack an egg over the potatoes and then mix it in until the egg is cooked through. I just crack an egg in there, but the Crusader likes to lightly beat the egg before adding it to the potatoes.

When done, you will have a potato/egg mess that is pretty tasty. I then slather it with catsup as shown.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Egg, cheese, and chutney sandwich

This combination may sound odd, but it is pretty good. We originally had something similar many years ago on a British Airways flight to Italy. Once again, it may sound odd that we are trying to emulate airplane food, but I think that it is just really a British influenced food.

The sandwich is very simple and contains only cheddar cheese, a scrambled egg (seasoned lightly with salt) and mango chutney. We've used a lightly toasted Oroweat potato bread, but you could really use any bread. I bet this would be good on a bagel too.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Long Time No See

Kitchen Dahlias, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

Wow! It has been a little while since we've blogged here. Sadly, we have no new food to talk about. The Crusader has been cooking meals regularly, but we just really haven't been thinking about taking pictures of our food. So, for this post, a picture of lovely dahlias in our kitchen will have to suffice. Dahlias are one of the only sign that it is summer around here. The weather has been rather gray and cold here in San Francisco, so perhaps that is dampening our interest in taking pictures of our food. I'm not complaining through since I way prefer 60 degrees to 100!

In somewhat food related news, we finally got a dining room table for our formal dining room, so perhaps we should start eating at it--although we still need some more chairs if we are going to entertain visitors. I've been obsessing about what color to paint the dining room. I tried a sort of muted pink--which we both decided that we hate. So now we are going to try a dark blue. We'll see if that works out.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Attack of the Killer Pine Nuts.

A few days ago I made a "pantry soup" of carrots, celery, onion, 2 beets, cut into small dice and white kidney beans, all cooked with spring water, salt and pepper to taste, and a strip of kombu to add some nice amino acids. Because a little vinegar is necessary to combat the sometimes jelly-bean like taste of beets, I made a pesto of 1 clove of garlic, a few black peppercorns, 1/4 cup fresh oregano, 1/4 cup fresh mint, and 1/4 cup fresh basil. (This is the base to my "go-to" pesto, the oregano and mint really add some unexpected dimension to pesto.) In this case, since the soup was almost a borscht, I wanted something "pseudo creamy" to finish the soup so I added about 2 tablespoons of toasted pine nuts as a binder, and then mashed all this up in my mortar and pestle. I then finished the pesto with vinegar and lemon juice and water, instead of oil.

This makes a creamy nut-butter based pesto that thins out to an almost sour cream consistency when added to the finished soup, and the vinegrette-like flavor of the pesto vinegar hybrid went very well with the beet soup. It was exceptional and one that I thought should go on the food blog when I got a chance.

But that's not what I am writing about today.

I love pine nuts. If I toast any, I always toast up an extra tablespoon or so with salt to snack on while I cook. "It's good to be the cook!" I think to myself in these cases. Because I love pine nuts, I ALSO loved the pesto, it came out perfectly and I added an extra dollop to my bowl, because there was a lot of it and Optimistic was using it sparingly. I then went back and had another bowl, and added two dollops to that one, as well.

Not that day, not the next day, but the third day after eating the soup, I woke up and had a bowl of cheerios with blueberries, and then I made an espresso as I normally would. I had started a new can of coffee, and because of my financial situation, I had switched to a lower grade of coffee from Italy, and not my beloved Blue Bottle Roman Espresso. The cup of coffee was the WORST I have ever tasted, and I put the coffee aside thinking that I would take it back to the store, because assuredly it was bad. This cup was even more terrible than the carrot-cappuccino I made a few years back.

It tasted... Bitter. Not just a little bit bitter, but bitter like Satan had stuck his finger in my mouth. Bitter like Bitter married his sister, Bitterina, had an ugly baby, Bitterino.

That kind of bitter, but worse.

A little later on I ate lunch, and here is the odd part, it tasted... BITTER, which was strange, because it was a tofu dog and not normally bitter in the least.

In fact, everything I ate, (and everything I am still eating,) tasted bitter, and a persistent bitterness hangs out at the very back of my throat AT THIS VERY MOMENT.

I know that intensely bitter flavors are generally a biological warning, much like the color red on mushrooms. Three things are generally intensely bitter: 1) Italian after dinner aperitifs, 2) Poison, and 3) Bile, an indicator of liver malfunction. Since you don't mess around with the second two, I had the bright idea of Googling "Bitter aftertaste in my mouth after everything I eat, please by Odin's Beard make it stop."

This is how I found that a plague of second rate pine nuts has swept the nation, like a blight of tasty tasty toads, inflicting a vile, persistent aftertaste that exhibits three days after eating a largish dose of pine nuts, and lasts as long as two weeks. Some say that the nuts in question come exclusively from China, but I have no indication of where these particular nuts sourced from. Others say that any pine nuts that are old or have gone rancid will do this, and this could indeed be the case, since they were in a sealed bag in the produce section of Faletti foods and could have been there for time immemorial as far as I know. I do know that pine nuts of the past, sourced from Rainbow Grocery's bulk section, which has an incredibly high turnover, never produced such a bitter aftertaste before, so freshness is the culprit, in my opinion. (Chinese nuts coming over in steerage, are probably stale by the time they get to these golden shores.)

So how does one alleviate the suffering? Alas, I do not know, but others have suggestions. Mint tea and oranges are supposed to help. (This is not suprising, since mint and orange oil both contain terpines, or natural solvents, which might "cleanse" the palatte in a very literal way,) but the help is supposed to be temporary, lasting only until the next meal. (By the way, pine nuts ALSO contain terpines, and this may be the problem, they are not water soluble.) Alcohol is supposed to help, but I can vouch that it does not, red wine combines with the bitter flavor to make a taste kind of like bleach.

In any case, further reports as the situation develops. In the meantime, enjoy reading the following links reporting similar pine nut attacks.


Sensation of bitter taste in mouth What could it be?

Pine nuts left a bitter taste in my mouth.

The Pine Nut Menace

The Great Pine Nut Mystery

Bitter Taste After Eating For DAYS

The Bitter Aftertaste of Chinese Pine Nuts

Insidious Chinese Pine Nuts

EDIT: 07 Jun 10 San Pelligrino Aranciata soda does a really good job of neutralizing the bitterness for an hour or so.

Friday, June 4, 2010

When Life Gives You Mushrooms

king oysters

A friend whose husband works at an organic farm recently asked if I liked mushrooms. Of course, the answer to this is a resounding "yes." I like mushrooms like cats like cheerfully destroying the only thing that you have left that reminds you of your grandfather.

So the next day she came in with a bag stuffed full of king oyster mushrooms. "I hate mushrooms," she said, "and my husband is allergic. These were the leftovers that his farm couldn't sell. They give them away to the workers, and if you don't take them, no one will."

Of course, with king oysters currently fetching $18.99 a pound at Rainbow Grocery, I am going to gleefully say yes to this offer of a Big Bag O' Fungus. Of course, now the obvious question becomes, what do you do with a big old pile of free mushrooms?

Fortunately Eric Tucker of Millennium has answered this question on page 151 of his cookbook, "The Artful Vegan." He suggests "Oyster Mushroom and Tofu Remolade Po' Boy," which calls for a few metric tonnes of mushrooms.

Of course cooking from The Artful Vegan can sometimes be tricky as the recipes tend to unfold like those Matrushkas, those little Russian nesting dolls, with layer upon layer of awesome. What at first seems simple, turns into a mystery, wrapped in a riddle, surrounded by an enigma. Or in this case, "Millennium Oil Braised Garlic" (page 212,) wrapped in a few cups of "Tofu Aoili" (page 213,) surrounded by aforementioned Remolade (page 151) and you find yourself in the kitchen for two and a half hours for want of a sandwich.

But once those mushrooms are dipped in that aoili and then in breadcrumbs and dry fried:

deep fried king oysters

OH, what a wonderful sandwich they make! (Seen here minus an ecstatic bite taken by Optimistic.)

deep fried king oyster sandwich

Friday, May 21, 2010

Salmon Benedict

Salmon Benedict

We made this the other morning when we had a protein jones. It's pretty straight forward.

English Muffin + Avocado Slices + Poached Egg + Salmon (a filet prepped into long, 1 inch "fingers" and then cooked in a skillet with a bare drop of olive oil, right before it is flipped, I seasoned it with just a BIT of soy sauce and yuzu juice) + A swirl of sriracha = Salmon Bennedict.

Yes there should be hollandise, but we only had a few eggs.

Since there isn't much in the way of a recipe, I will offer a few cooking hints involving poached eggs:

1) First boil the water with a tablespoon or so of apple cider vinegar in it. This adds to the flavor, but it also helps the egg white cook more quickly and keeps the whole thing from becoming egg drop soup.

2) Crack your raw egg into a small bowl, so that you can dump it into the water very quickly and place it precisely in the middle of the whirlpool (more on that in a moment.)

3) Once the water comes to a boil, swirl the water quickly with the back of a wooden spoon until a whirlpool forms (kinda like a downspout.) Then quickly dump your egg right in the middle. The spinning water will hold the egg in the middle of the pot, and it won't allow the egg to spread out in the water. (Once the egg is in the water, you don't need to keep spinning the water.) By the time the water slows down, the egg has hardened up enough not to come apart.

4) Cook it from 3 to 6 minutes, depending upon how raw you like the middle. These eggs were cooked on the long side, about 4 minutes or so each.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Avocado Pizza

avocado pizza, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

Sorry folks, it's been a while. We are still cooking on a regular basis, but we've just been too busy to take photos and blog.

One reason we have to keep up on cooking is that we are getting a CSA (community supported agriculture) box every other week. If we don't cook regularly, the produce piles up. It seems like some things come in waves and we tend to get a lot of one particular fruit or vegetable. For a while it was apples, and now we're been getting a lot of avocados in our box. They are good avocados, but there is only so much guacamole you can eat. So, we have been searching for avocado recipes to get out of the guacamole rut. With that in mind, we found "Fresh Tomato Pizza with Avocado" from Jack Bishop's "A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen."

When we looked at the ingredients we thought that it could not possibly be bad and we were right--it was delicious. The ingredients are: fresh tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, a jalapeno chile, farmer cheese (we used goat cheese instead), avocado, lime juice, and cilantro. We got a frozen pizza dough so it was pretty quick to put together.

Monday, February 22, 2010

When Life Gives You Squash...

One of the troubles of getting a box of produce from a local farm, is that you often end up with surplus veggies.

Such is the case with the farm we get things from, Farm fresh to you, although they have a nifty option where you can go online and go "enough squash already!" After you receive the seventh butternut squash.

Of course, by then you've had squash soup, and pumpkin pie, and squash waffles (yes, based on an Alton Brown classic,) and now (if you are like me,) you are looking at three squashes on the pantry and thinking "what is in store for you jokers?"

Couple this abundance of squash with a newfound muffin obsession, thanks to the absolute artistry of The Sentinel, a local lunchtime sandwich shop that secretly cranks out hot muffins made from seasonal ingredients every morning to sell to commuters with coffee. If you find yourself near Second and Market at 7:30 AM on a weekday, try them out, it'll be the best $2.50 you spend all day.

Anyhow, I am on a BUDGET, dern it, I can't be dropping $2.50 out of my budget each morning for muffins, and ALSO, I have all this squash! So I borrowed a page from the Sentinel's book and crafted a muffin recipe using these crazy squash.

Squash Muffins (No pics this time guys, maybe in the future... But don't let that stop you, this is a fun recipe.)

One medium to small butternut squash, sliced in half and roasted sliced side down on a foil covered cookie sheet at 400 degrees for an hour. (Putting the sliced side down keeps it from drying out.)

There's another advantage to putting it cut side down. The sugars in the squash will run all over the foil and carmelize. Pry the squash off, scoop out the seeds, and then scoop the squash out of the shell. You should have about 2 cups of squash.

Lower the heat on the oven to 350. Grease a muffin tin, or put paper liners in a cupcake tin. (This recipe will make about 9 muffins, or 18 cupcakes.) Whip the squash with a fork into a puree. Add 1 Cup brown sugar, 1 Tablespoon molasses, 2 egg yolks (put the whites in another bowl, and beat them to stiff peaks and put them aside,) 1 teaspoon of grated nutmeg, 1/4 cup canola oil, and 1 cup of buttermilk, and mix this all up into a batter.

In another bowl, sift together 2 cups white flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon of salt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix just to combine. Once combined, carefully fold in the beaten egg whites. These are super moist, super dense muffins, the whipped whites add a little airiness and keep the cake crumb from being, well... gooey.

Put this mixture into the tins and bake. Fill up each tin till just below the rim. (The difference between a muffin and a cupcake, is that a muffin goes over the top of the tin, so fill those puppies up.) You may have noticed the numbers are a bit off. You'll have enough to fill one muffin tin completely and another tin halfway. Cooking the half tin can sometimes be a problem, because the half filled tin tends to heat up too much, making the muffins dry. These muffins are uber moist, so you don't need to worry about it at all. (If you run across this problem with normal muffins or cupcakes, fill the remaining holes of the tin with water for more even heating.)

Cook these for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the tin for five minutes or so, then cool on a rack until completely cool. These will fall a tiny bit while they cool. You don't want to eat these muffins until they cool completely, or they will stick to the cupcake paper. As they cool, they firm up.

The neatest thing about these muffins is that they are actually better after they completely cool, and hold their texture for days in the fridge.

I've also found that a nice variant is to add some upscale bittersweet chocolate chips and a tiny pinch of powdered cloves. They'd probably also be good with orange or lemon zest.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Apple and Mint Souffle

apple souffle
apple souffle

Second take on a souffle came out much better than the first. (And I didn't think there was anything wrong with the first one!) But these guys took off like rockets!

The souffle recipe is the same as the recipe from earlier, but the eggs were beaten just a bit longer, until the whites did not slide along the bowl when I tipped it. (That advice from the Herbfarm cookbook's "sidebar" section on souffles, which made the process that much easier!)

These were apple, mint and parmesian souffles. There is a sliced apple, fried in about a tablespoon of olive oil with salt and mint, which was added to the base just before the whites.