November, 2005

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Recipe x1
Nov 30th, 2005

I was derailed a bit by the holiday, but I'm finally ready to post the final recipe in my three part opus. Of course I didn't write this down, so I hope my memory is good.

Basically what we've got here is pork and beans, but with an aromatic oniony broth rather than a gooey tomato one. You could make this with any kind of pork really, but I thought the spices on the outside of the pork roast from the fennel/coriander rub really added something to the broth. The beans get creamy, the veggies get soft, and it's really a very comforting winter time dish. I think this was Jim's favorite thing I've cooked recently.

I wanted to use zucchini in the dish, and I'm including it in the list of ingredients below, but mine had turned to slime in the fridge while I wasn't looking, so I had to leave it out. I'll mark zucchini as optional, that should do it. Obviously the vegetables needed here aren't set in stone, they're just what I happened to have on hand. But I do think you need a base of some sort of onion, garlic, shallot, or leek product (I'd say allium but I might get accused of being pretentious. My mom and brother gave me enough crap over Thanksgiving for telling them to put the peeled potatoes in acidulated water. Hey, I like ten-cent words!)


Spice Rubbed Pork & Beans

onion, chopped
garlic, minced
leeks, chopped
carrot, cut in small dice
zucchini, cut in small dice (optional)
savoy cabbage, chopped
leftover roast spice rubbed pork, cut in large cubes
beef broth
dark beer or red wine (optional)
1 can Great Northern or Cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
dried thyme


In a dutch oven or large high sided pan, saute onions, garlic, and leeks in a bit of olive oil. Adding a bit of bacon or pancetta would not be a horrible thing to do at this point. Add the remaining vegetables and saute for 5 minutes or so over medium heat. Add the meat and toss to brown.

After a few minutes add the beans, enough broth to cover, and herbs. Cover and simmer until flavors are melded. You could add a bit of dark beer or red wine along with the broth. Depending on how soupy vs. stewey you want this you may want to raise the temp a bit and cook with the lid off to evaporate some of the moisture.

Serve with a crisp green salad and whole grain bread if you're fancy. If not just eat a bowl while standing in the kitchen and finishing off the remaining beer. I'll leave it to you to decide which path I chose.

-Kymm
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Recipe x2
Nov 17th, 2005

I had some of the fennel, coriander, orange zest spice mixture left over after I roasted my tomatoes and I really wanted to do something with it because it smelled so good. Over the summer Jim and I had dinner at Le Pichet, a restaurant I know Shannon enjoys when she is in town. We had a pork loin that was cooked with large white beans in a star anise scented broth. The licorice taste of the anise went really well with the pork, and the spice mix I had reminded me of that combination.

So I decided to do a pork roast and rub it with the spice mix. I doubled the amounts called for in the tomato recipe because I had a very large 4 to 5 pound roast, but I think with a more reasonable 2 or 3 pounder you could use the amounts as is. A pork loin roast would have been very good but was not to be found at my local grocery that day, so I used a cheaper, fattier butt roast instead. No problems here, I really have nothing bad to say about pork fat. The cooking technique was adapted from the Pork Roast with Rosemary and Garlic in Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. And we served the pork roast with Brussel Sprouts with Lemon-Mustard Butter and mashed potatoes.

I was very happy with the results, the pork tastes complex even though the preparation is very simple. And it looks impressive. This would be a great easy meal for when your meat-loving family drops by on a Saturday.


Roast Pork with Fennel, Coriander, and Orange Zest

2-3 lb pork roast
1 tsp kosher or sea salt
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 tsp finely grated orange zest


Preheat your oven to 450F. Coarsely grind all the spices except the orange zest in a mortar or whiz them a few times in a spice grinder. You'll probably want to get these a little bit more finely ground than for the tomatoes, but a fine powder certainly isn't necessary or even desired. Put the pork roast in a baking pan or a foil lined rimmed cookie sheet. Rub the spice mix over the sides and top of the roast and put it in the oven. Roast for 15 minutes at 450F and then turn the oven down to 325F.

Using a meat thermometer inserted into the middle of the roast, check the temperature after a little over an hour. If you like pink in the middle you'll want to pull the roast out at 145F, if you like it well done you can let it go up to 155F. Right in the middle at 150F would probably be good as the temperature will rise about another ten degrees after you take the roast out of the oven and let it rest. Cooking time will most likely be around an hour and a half unless you have a monster roast like I did which will result in a longer cooking time. If you do have a 4 or 5 pound roast just double the spice amounts called for here.

Let the meat sit for at least ten to fifteen minutes and then carve and serve.

-Kymm
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Recipe x3
Nov 16th, 2005

Do you ever have recipes that create satellite recipes? Their very own entourage? Sometimes I'll make a dish and then the leftovers will get morphed into another dish the next night. Well this weekend I made a recipe that let to three very different dishes and I thought I'd post the whole evolution here.

I set out to make Oven-Dried Tomatoes. My mom's birthday is coming up and since she's retired and cooking these days, I thought I'd make her a little collection of interesting condiments she can use. I decided on Rosemary Vinegar, Preserved Lemons, and Oven-Dried Tomatoes. The tomatoes are a twist on the once ubiquitous sun-dried variety. You roast them in the oven for hours at a very low heat and then pack them in jars with olive oil. They keep in the fridge for about 3 months that way.

This particular recipe comes from a fabulous book by Sally Pasley Vargas called Food for Friends: homemade gifts for every season and the unique thing about it is the extremely aromatic mixture of spices that you roast along with the tomatoes. It's quite an easy recipe, the only things to keep in mind are that you'll need a long stretch of time where you'll be there to mind the oven and that the spice and tomato mixture smells so good during those long hours of cooking time that it just might drive you to distraction. Or to dreaming up new recipes... tune in tomorrow to see where my dreaming took me.


Oven-Dried Tomatoes
Three half-pint jars

4 pounds plum tomatoes
1 tsp kosher or sea salt
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
Olive oil


Preheat the oven to 225F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Cut the tomatoes in half and gently sqeeze out the seeds and liquid using your finger to assist the seeds on their way. Lay them close together on the baking sheet cut side up. Combine all the herbs and spices except for the orange zest and bash them in a mortar or lay them between two sheets of saran wrap and crush them with a rolling pin or heavy frying pan. When they are coarsely crushed mix in the orange zest and crumble the spices evenly over the tomatoes.

Roast in the oven until dried (but still bendy), approximately 4 to 6 hours. They'll look a bit like dried peaches or apricots when they're done. Check them around the 3 1/2 hour mark and take out any that are done while the rest continue to cook.

Pack the tomatoes into sterilized jars and pour over enough olive oil to cover. The recipe calls for half pint jars and should make enough for 3 jars. Cover and store in the fridge for up to 3 months. The oil will become seasoned as it sits and can be used itself to lend an interesting touch to different dishes. The oil may congeal, if so just let the jar come to room temperature before using. If you're not making this as a gift you could store it in tupperware, it will just need to be used up a bit sooner.

-Sally Pasley Vargas, Food for Friends: homemade gifts for every season
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Soup
Nov 14th, 2005

My mom always made the best soup. Clean Out The Refrigerator Soup was her specialty - if it didn't get eaten during the week, chances are you'd be encountering it in your soup bowl at week's end. Now that sounds like something that could lead to years of therapy and deep-seated soup aversion, but reference the first sentence. Those soups were good! And she never used a recipe as far as I know.

I've always been a slave to the soup recipe, but something happened recently to change that. My parents stayed at our place with the kids while we were in San Francisco with all you lovely people. And as usual my fridge was filled to bursting with vegetables just threatening to go bad. So when we got home my mom had stocked us up with homemade vegetable soup with a little leftover sausage thrown in. Now I've seen my mom make soup hundreds of times, but somehow the fact that all the ingredients came out of my fridge and were cooked in my very own kitchen triggered a little switch in my brain. It was as if I were walking around with a little lightbulb over my head with a thought bubble that read, 'I can make soup!'

So now the floodgates have been thrown open and it's been a veritable SoupFest around our house (Souparama? Soupaganza? Soupalooza?) As the week winds down and the horrible realization dawns that another box full of fresh vegetables is about to descend on our house without us having made a discernable dent in the last one, it's soup time! Start with chicken stock, add carrots, celery, onions, broccoli, zucchini, parsnips, potatoes, swiss chard, cauliflower, squash, whatever you've got. Cook until the vegetables are soft. A can of diced tomatoes livens things up, as do leftover bits of pesto or any basil you've got lying around in the back of the fridge. For a while in the summer we had bags of arugula and basil and I was chopping up a mixture of both with a clove or two of garlic and adding it to the soup near the end of cooking time. If there was any leftover I'd add a spoonfull to my bowl after heating it up along with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. If you have any leftover chicken or sausage, hey throw it in. You may or may not need salt depending on the saltiness of your broth and your additions.

The blender is your friend. Blended soups are so easy and another great way to use up leftovers. Put cooked broccoli, warm chicken broth (heat it in the microwave), and grated cheddar cheese in the blender and you've got cheese-broccoli soup for lunch the next day. You can add a little cream, milk, or evaporated milk if you'd like, but you don't have to. I also made a yummy soup last week with the leftovers of a meal featuring black beans and guacamole. Into your trusty blender throw a can of black beans (drained), chicken broth, guacamole or sliced avocado or both, some diced fresh tomatoes if you've got 'em, and a bit of salsa. If you have sour cream and/or grated cheese to dollop on top you should do so. And of course you could reduce the amount of broth and serve this as a dip instead.

And of course there's trusty old chicken noodle. When we have a roast chicken I always save the bones in the freezer. If you've got two of these and some leftover cooked chicken you've got soup. Just simmer the chicken bones with water to cover along with very roughly chopped carrot, celery, onion, and parsley if you've got it (some ginger root and lemongrass added here can take you in a nice Asian-inspired direction). You don't even need to peel the vegetables. After a few hours you can pour the whole mess through a strainer and you've got broth/stock. I usually put the broth in the fridge at that point till the next day. Just throw away all the veggies and bones from the broth - they've given all they can, there is no need to ask them to do any more. The next day you can skim the fat off the top of the stock, throw it in your soup pot and add carrots and celery. The shredded cooked chicken and noodles are added after the veggies are tender and cooked until the noodles are done. I usually use corkscrew pasta, but you can use any smallish tube like pasta. Salt to taste. Feel free to supplement the stock with water or boxed broth if you need a bit more. That's it!

Long live the soup!


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Persimmons II: Electric Boogaloo
Nov 14th, 2005

Okay, this is my last post on persimmons, I swear. Just a quick note to say I got around to buying and sampling a couple Hachiyas this weekend, and for just eating fresh? Not so much. The flavor is fine, but the texture leaves a bit to be desired. Unfortunately in fact mucus is the word that comes to mind. So, conclusions: baking with Hachiyas good, eating fresh bad. Grab a Fuyu instead.

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Fruit
Nov 9th, 2005

Thanks for the feedback Steph. I'm so excited that you check this page every day. You all really don't want to know how many times I obsessively click on the Kafehaus during the day - it's a sickness. If you read this page, please do take a minute to look at my Questions post and give me your two cents. I'm waiting for those brilliant suggestions for a name for the food blog. Come on, you don't really want me to call it Curry and Beets do you?

Honey crisp apples are among my favorites as well - I do love a crispy apple. And unwaxed locally grown! Sounds delish. I came home with two grocery bags of apples and a bag of mystery squash from a trip to see the family in Oregon last month. Every fall my parents take a day and go apple and pear tasting along the Columbia River. Some valleys have wine tasting tours, this one has the Fruit Loop, an orchard tasting tour where you can sample and buy many different varieties of apples and pears. I siphoned off some of the fridge full of apples that resulted and also hit a local produce stand while the kids were enjoying Halloween farm goodness. (Note: these are not my children - I have no idea who they are, just some random people whose photo album came up when I googled Fir Point Farms, the location of the aforementioned Halloween goodness. This is what it looked like though if we had bothered to take pictures.) So I had probably a dozen different varieties of orchard apples to try, and now that I've worked my way through them all, I have to say none were as good as the ones I can buy here in Seattle at the Farmer's Market, which include the Honey Crisp. I still haven't investigated the bag of mystery squash - they're probably spaghetti squash, but my dad doesn't remember planting any squash in his garden this year. Yet a quiet little plant in the corner produced a big box of a vegetable that clearly looks like squash. I found a recipe for Spaghetti Squash Fritters that I want to try, I'll let you know if we all die. By haunting you from beyond the grave I suppose. Mystery squash! Woooooohhhhh!

Anyway, what I really wanted to talk about today was persimmons. Persimmons! When I was a kid we would spend Christmas with the extended Cooperrider clan in Fresno, California. Not really the place that springs to mind when you think bobsleds jingling, chestnuts roasting, etcetera, but hey palm trees are good for Christmas too I guess. My aunt would always make a persimmon dessert that involved mashing up ripe persimmon with pumpkin pie spices and serving it in individual glasses topped with whipped cream. I don't think I've eaten them since. So I was delighted when persimmons started showing up in my weekly produce box - delighted and a bit confused as to what to do with them. These persimmons weren't soft like the ones from Fresno, they were orange, but hard like an apple. Did I just have to wait for them to ripen? They didn't seem to be doing much in my fridge. A quick web search cleared up my confusion, the fruit I had were Fuyu persimmons, the ones I had eaten in Fresno were Hachiyas. Fuyus are firm when ripe and can be eaten like an apple, Hachiyas must be soft and squishy before you eat them, otherwise they're bitter and nasty tasting. Once the Hachiyas are ripe you can open them up and scoop out the soft sweet pulp and use them in cookies, bread, jams, or just a simple mousse like my aunt's.

I've now eaten all my Fuyus, and I'm in love, love, love. My favorite way to eat them is as follows: Peel the Fuyu and slice it into a bowl in thin little bite sized sections. Add yogurt on top, I like plain for the contrast with the sweet persimmon, but vanilla would be good too. Then dust with cinnamon and nutmeg and devour. It takes a minute or two to prepare like this, but I love the ritual of it. Selecting my favorite bowl, slicing the bright orange flesh, dolloping on the white yogurt, and running my nutmeg grinder over top of the whole thing. By the way, freshly ground nutmeg really is divine, and my little nutmeg grinder is so cute. When you can combine cuteness and good taste in one simple fruit dessert, you know you're in luck.

My next goal is to do some baking with the Hachiyas and maybe even the Fuyus, which can be used like an apple - I'm thinking a cinnamon quick bread with chunks of persimmon baked in would not be a bad thing at all. Here are a few Hachiya recipes that look inviting from some good food blogs:

Persimmon Cookies

Hachiya Persimmon Cake

And for those of us who have a food dehydrator (Katie, although I'm guessing you didn't tote it with you to Jackson Hole), you can dry Fuyus and use them in granola or cookies or just for snacking.


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Questions
Nov 4th, 2005

I've got questions for you all. I know at least two of you read this page! That ought to be a good representative sample size:

1. What kind of recipes should I be posting? What do you all want more of? I know I'm kind of falling into a rut. I was going to post balsamic glazed beet recipe I made and then I thought, good god, I'm sure I'm the only one around here who even eats beets. Why so many beet recipes?

2. I need to get this site its own domain name and move it off the Kafehaus Chat. I want to be able to give the link out without risking people finding our little gathering. So what should I call it? All the good food blog names are taken. 'Cooking Food that No-one Else Will Eat'? 'Curry and Beets'? Seriously, what should I name it?

3. What else should I add here - pictures? More cookbook reviews? More recipes? More long winded rambling? What works and what doesn't?

Thanks y'all, I really appreciate the feedback. And of course, if and when I do find this a new home, you all are welcome and encouraged to provide guest posts.


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