Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day lunch

Santa Ana winds are back with bitter chill and everyone is sneezing and bundling up. Still recovering from the daylight-to-standard "fall back" and now Veterans Day has thrown off my weekday rhythm with school and government offices closed.

Hustling to get out of the house and off to the office I managed to water some of the more vulnerable plants and containers. Then it was back to the kitchen to assemble a quick lunch - toasted Teff focaccia with smoked Hungarian bacon, Harvard cheese, and red lettuce. How beautiful!

And starting work tonight on the curing the ~4 lbs of olives I bought last weekend at Super King market! Will posted a step-by-step once it's underway.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Shipkas Olive Tapenade

Back home from taking Grandma to her first West Hollywood Halloween carnival. She's been eager to attend one since seeing a slide show of grandson Elliott's success as Lady Gaga in 2009. Quite the trouper for someone in her mid-seventies - she hiked down from the parking lot on Sunset and almost the entire length of the event - and of course back up again.

And so October is now minutes away from exiting the stage. For all the experience of acceleration this year has entailed, this Fall has packed a lot in. For starters we rediscovered (recovered) a couple of seasons - just days apart - from blazing recording-breaking heat a few weeks back (the official weather service thermometer in downtown went offline or "broke" upon reaching 113F) to a 5-day patch of monsoonal soaks. And that's leaving out the gorgeous "segues" between these weather events - stunning skies that capture your attention when you least expect it.

Halloween is the bow on this package and I finally got around to making more black olive and Shipkas pepper tapenade. I finished a cache of a green olive version (a not unsuccessful experiment, but no rival to the original) a week or so ago and have made my lunches with German mustard and Avjar.

While pitting the semi-cured black olives I decided to "go large" and doubled the recipe. The orange and black was just so damn Halloween!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Brining, Curing and Smoking

The results of my third weekend in a row of brining and curing pork and turkey. Sunday's batch included a turkey breast (with bone) and drumsticks brined for 48 hours, and pork tenderloin with a dry rub for 56 hours, smoked for almost 2 hours at 230-300F. This was a little hotter than planned but they still came out juicy and tender. Previous Sundays saw brined pork tenderloin and turkey breast brined for 24 hours.

This weekend is "smoke free" as I need to do some more thinking about what meats to tackle next. I also need to order some "pink salt" aka "InstaCure" aka "Prague Powder" which contains sodium nitrite (6.25%) and is essential to many recipes involving curing and canning.

Teresa has been baking sourdough almost daily and is already maintaining 3 starters. The acknowledged favorite so far has been the buckwheat with it's wonderful grayish color. As with other living foods, experiments are essential and it being Fall pumpkin was an inevitable choice. Quite good! I've toasted and enjoyed slices of it with chunks of blue cheese as a rustic late afternoon snack.

Pumpkin sourdough bread - how can you tell?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Inaugural Salsa Verde - Happy Equinox!

Our recent Grassy Knolls harvest of Green Zebra tomatoes and Bulgarian carrot peppers (Shipkas) cried out for a fresh green salsa so it was a quick web search for salsa recipes resulting in the following lash-up. Oh, and buying a delightful salsa verde from Cam, the Eastside Tomato King last Saturday at the Silver Lake farmers market...

Green Zebra Salsa Verde
  • 2 Shipkas peppers (seeds and all)
  • 6-7 Green Zebra tomatoes
  • 2 smallish heirlooms tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup of red onion
  • 7 large garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • salt & pepper to taste
The salsa is now in field trials with Enrique and results are expected soon.

The character of Shipkas peppers is fairly complex, hot but with a surprising twist at the end that's hard to describe. This is my third use of them and I'm sizing up my cache so I can have a few more recipes before they disappear for the season (and I'm moving the plant to a more sustainable pot and drying out some seeds for next year).

FOLLOW-UP: 2 days later I added more Green Zebras (this time seeded) and heated the salsa to reduce it a bit. Now in field testing at work, the salsa verde is greener, thicker, and less hot but still good and spicy.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Dog Days of Late Summer

Celebrating the end of the first week of high school and the fast approaching beginning of fall, end of summer, we ate a lazy Saturday afternoon lunch of Nathan's frankfurters topped with chopped onion, one of our freshly harvested heirloom tomatoes, Teresa's homemade pickle relish, and neighbor "Cam the Tomato King's" green tomato salsa.

Wow - these were great hot dogs!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The Sandwich Moment

This is the "money shot" in the sandwich making process. The sandwich freshly cleaved, the halves revealing a glorious stratified view of the constituent materials.

A great way to start the day, making lunches for my son and self, packing and cleaning up, ready to ride out to meet the day and whatever it brings.

This is a standard toasted focaccia*, with English mustard* and shipkas tapenade,* with German salami and Tilsit cheese and red and green lettuce.

* Home-made ingredients

Monday, September 06, 2010

Happy Labor Day - Lagom is best!

Not May Day (as in the 8-hour day 1886 version still officially observed elsewhere) but a 3-day brief from work and unofficial start of the school year and Fall semesters in the northern hemisphere.

It was stretch weekend for garden work - renting an truck and auger and picking materials for several home projects. The heatwave brought earlier and the weekend has been warm and mild.

As I've been meaning to snap a pic of this recent anonymous wall poster I detoured from our Sis Deli shopping errand to capture it in all the bleached-out glory of the midday late summer Los Angeles sun.

This simple, surprising sentiment turned agit-prop slogan resonates with my discovery of Lagrom - as in lagom är bäst. Roughly translated (as much as it resists translation) - "just the right amount" or "enough is as good as a feast."

After two days of errands, ground clearing, and pole hole digging we dined on a simple meal of BBQ chicken and sauteed trombetta fresh from the garden (with melted Tilsit for the adults). It's taken a few months to finally obtain a local source for Tilsit (aka Tilseter, like a stinkier, more flavorsome version of Havarti). Continental Gourmet Sausage in Glendale is worth visiting for their own sausages and cold cuts - so the Tilsit and other German and European food items are a just an added bonus.

Trombetta di Albenga - Winter squash