Baking in the Almost-a-Kitchen–So Long, Miss Gab

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                In memoriam:  Miss Gab.  July 4, 2008 – September 26, 2014

Our world is made up of many things--special times, prayers, phases, people, schools, skies, places, music, mountains, meals, oceans, books, travels, and, for me, dogs.  If you’ve read this blog long, you’ll know the dogs often figure prominently in the stories and cooking adventures at our house; they always have.

(Below:  May, 2009:  Fiona, our first female golden, with puppy Miss Gab on top of her and then Miss Gab and Tucker with friend Newman)

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(Below:  puppy Tucker with Britta, under Miss Gab, and his own grown-up happy self)

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And while I don’t often enough chronicle loss and pain here in a what appears to be a cooking blog, I can’t move on, cook, or write without a tribute to our Gab–so long part of the Two-Dog Kitchen.  Maybe I just need to get it down so that I can see it here, maybe make some sense of it.  But there’s no sense to this story.  You’ve guessed this isn’t a happy tale. Continue reading

Favorite Zucchini Recipes from More Time and Dinner Place

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This time of the year it’s tempting to fast forward and begin a bit of food talk about autumn roasted vegetables, spiked hot chocolate, chili, or pumpkin bread.  My blogging friend Lydia Walshin reminded me of this today.  But out west and up high (and elsewhere, too) where the vegetables are just now thinking about coming in –if they come in at all– we’re loving the lush summer extravaganza of corn, tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, beans, cucumbers, and sweet bell peppers to name just a few.  It’s still summer; my tomatoes are just beginning to ripen.  I’m eating Colorado peaches for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  The best corn of the year just arrived in the grocery this week.  And you’re trying to figure out what to do with all that squash, right?
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(Above: Fried Egg Skillet with Zucchini and Salsa” – a one-dish breakfast, lunch or dinner. Just sauté the zucchini and onions, break the eggs on top, cover, and cook until the eggs are just how you like them.)
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Zucchini might be my favorite vegetable; I eat is several times a week year-round– often for breakfast in my egg-white omelet or even stuffed into a sautéed veggie wrap. This post highlights my own favorite zucchini recipes from the last few years. I’ll probably include a few with yellow squash, which are just as prolific and delectable.  If there are photos you can’t abide, know that I KNOW they need to be redone and smile at them for me.  In the meantime, eat zucchini!  (By the way, said friend Lydia has published a lovely, quick book all about lovely ways to cook zucchini.  Check it out here.).
Here we go, beginning with morningish meals, including the one above at top:

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Ina Fridays — Soups, Salads + Sides — Grilled Salmon Salad Redux

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IMG_6629The first Friday of the month, I group-blog Ina Garten recipes with a great group of writer-cooks. Scroll down for more info and to click on the links for more soups, salads or sides.  Come back October 3 for Ina Fridays main dishes….

Finding a way to cook and blog when there’s no kitchen in the house is an effort. A problem.  Perhaps a puzzle.  A frustration, despite looking forward to the kitchen I’ll have by mid-October. I hope. We’ve been gone to Europe (a few pics at bottom) and had a new grand baby (ditto) since I last posted…and, in the meantime, the kitchen was gutted and the rebuilding was begun.

securedownloadAbove:  East wall.  Long pipe is the vent from the basement to the roof for the hot water heater.  Shorter pipe–at right–is the vent for the range hood.  This wall used to be all cream, melamine “Euro-style” cabinets that were incredibly easy to keep clean. (Wipe off with clean dishcloth or spray with Windox and paper towel dry on really industrious days.)  I had them when we lived in Europe and then loved them in this house.  They fell victim to the hue and cry to update.  (What does that mean?  Does anyone tell that to the people in colonial houses in Williamsburg?)

One of the oddest things is that I keep starting to go to the kitchen.  Which isn’t there.  It seems my world is in that room, though as a musician I know that’s only part of my life.  But my feet, my heart, my mind…continually move toward a now nonexistent room.  The construction has also cut off our living room (plastic-shut for dust/dirt), filled our guest room, master bedroom, laundry room, and garage with boxes, and often prohibits us from entering the house due to ladders, men on stilts, spray guns issuing forth, load of wood in the entry, and so on.  In other words, we  SHOULD HAVE MOVED OUT.  WHAT WERE WE THINKING? Continue reading

Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Zucchini–Going on Vacay

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More Time will be on vacation for a few weeks after this post.  If there’s a possibility of a bit of writing and posting while I’m gone, I’ll be in touch! In the meantime, check out my fb page and enjoy the rest of your summer, friends.

When I have a really busy weekend coming up, this is the kind of meal I throw together on Thursday or Friday Night.  A lovely, big roasty sort of meat — or maybe a hefty oven-cooked chicken — is just the thing to tide us over without another hour or two in the kitchen. Sandwiches, tacos, salads, frittatas or cold slicing and snacking fill in the meals for the next few days. (I also give instructions for a yummy leftover hot meal –pork and mushrooms over rice with a rich sauce.) You’re free to do whatever it is needs doing. Like cleaning out your kitchen or packing for a trip, going to garage sales, or hiking and biking (or chatting on the porch) if you’re on a vacation or at the cabin.

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A couple of weeks ago, I made two crispy pork tenderloins and we ate off them for days.  I’m likely to buy these in cryopac at Costco where they’re a great value two to a pack. (You actually get two 2-packs and can freeze half.)  I wrapped them up in bacon, browned them on the stove top and threw them in the oven to finish cooking while I sautéed a big bunch of zucchini.  Over the following days, we ate barbecued pork sandwiches, tacos, and then threw some in a Cobb-type salad as a last resort. Continue reading

Ina Fridays — Appetizers — Roasted Shrimp Cocktail in the Empty Kitchen

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If you like old school dishes, this one’s for you.  No matter how old you are, shrimp cocktail might still sound like something your parents had before their dinner at the steakhouse or maybe mom even made them for starters for Thanksgiving one year. (Is there anything easier or more fun?)  I loved making this.  It was simple, fast, fun, and I made it just for me; the recipe — if you can call it that — is perfect to cut down for one or two.  I had to choose a dish that was so simple it screamed as I nearly have no kitchen.  My utensils consist of a table fork, knives, and a skinny spatula.  I have a bowl and a plate. And a rimmed baking sheet. My cutting board.  Nearly everything else is in the basement or packed away in the garage as we await demolition of our kitchen, which was scheduled next week. And now is put off at least a week or two while we do an asbestos abatement.  Hmph.  Our timeline said we’ll be done by the last week in September.  You heard it here; put it on your calendars and Nah-Nah-Nah me later.

This is the main part of my one-butt kitchen, a good old galley I love.  Great working triangle.  I had the same cabinets in a townhouse in Germany and have always loved plastic cabinets (melamine.)  Just wipe them off.  Very ’80s Euro.  I’m going to shed a few tears when it starts to disappear.  Cabinets are going to Habitat for Humanity.

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Israeli Couscous Salad

In the heat of the summer when tomatoes are lush and warm and cucumbers are cheap and numerous, I make a lot of Greek salads.  Sometimes there are lovely smoky hot peppers  and other times a few clean, green bell peppers suffice.  Feta makes an appearance if I have it.  Leftover salmon or chicken might get thrown in.

The other day I saw something somewhere about Israeli salad and, while it’s similar to traditional “Greek” salad, it has lots of lemon and often includes mint and/or other fresh herbs.  When I read the words, “Israeli salad,” I just had to have some.  I like mine with cheese, but many people also add nuts or seeds. Some never add cheese so that the salad is pareve–doesn’t contain dairy or meat– or so that it’s vegan.   Whichever way you choose, I think you’ll be happy and full.

My favorite little bit about Israeli salad (which is served at many meals in Israel including breakfast) comes from legendary blogger David Lebovitz, who had Israeli food writer Maya Marom write a guest post about the salad after his return to Paris from a trip to Israel.  Maya tells us there just aren’t any rules about making the salad as far as ingredients go:

The very bare essentials – which are, just like everything else in Israel, up for discussion – are cucumbers, tomatoes, and onion. The rest is up to your liking, and the amount of chopping patience you have. Just a handful of raw vegetables, finely chopped (“dak dak”) and well-dressed (just olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice), will make a tasty bowlful of goodness. Great as a side, or on its own as a light meal.
The only rule of chopped salad is this: There are no rules. Use whatever vegetables you can find. It doesn’t really matter which kinds you put in, as long as they’re fresh, well chopped, and at room temperature. (Vegetables straight from the fridge tend to taste a little dull).
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You can also look at–the photos are great– (or read if you read Hebrew) Maya’s blog here.

My own version of the salad, which often is made larger or fuller with the addition of fresh greens like spinach or arugula, includes Israeli couscous (pearl couscous), which is a very quick cooking small, round pasta that looks a bit like large tapioca.  If I have fresh fish like tuna (see cook’s notes), I grill it, slice it, and add  it on top with another big spritz of lemon.  For a dinner party, a large platter of the salad with a few sliced grilled fish fillets (or poached shrimp if, like me, you don’t keep kosher) is an easy main that can mostly be made ahead.  Serving it at room temperature means you can sit and have a glass of wine with your friends instead of standing at the stove or grill.   The leftover salad makes for great, healthy lunches or is perfect stuffed in pita.  Do taste and re-season if you serve it the next day as you would any refrigerated dish.  This particular bowlful contained fresh oregano as well as parsley only because it was that or sage, which didn’t scan for me.

Since this makes a significant amount of food, remember you can halve it.  My advice, however, is to invite a few friends and share this meal.

Israeli Couscous Salad
6-8 servings

  • 1 cup uncooked Israeli (pearl) couscous
  • 1 1/4 cups boiling water
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 2 English cucumbers, diced
  • 3 small tomatoes, seeded and diced (cut in half and squeeze seeds out; chop rest)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, reserve a bit for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 4 green onions, minced (green and white parts)
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/3 cup chopped feta cheese, reserve a bit for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
  • Juice of one lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
  • Crushed red pepper
Into a medium pan, pour the boiling water over the Israeli (or pearl) couscous and bring to a boil.  Lower heat, cover, and simmer about eight minutes or until tender.  Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Leave uncovered and set aside to cool a bit.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together the cucumbers, tomatoes, fresh herbs, peppers, onions, garlic, feta, and lemon peel.  Add the couscous and mix.   Drizzle lemon juice over everything, season well with a generous pinch crushed red pepper, kosher salt and pepper, and stir well.  (Begin with about 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper and add more if needed.)  Drizzle with about 3 tablespoons olive oil and mix thoroughly.  Taste, re-season, and serve at room temperature.  Good cold for the next day or two for a leftover lunch.
Cook’s Notes:  Leave out feta for vegan version.  To quickly grill tuna, heat stove-top grill or heavy skillet over high heat. Firmly place canola oiled, salted and peppered tuna fillets in hot pan and cook for 2-3 minutes on one side.  Turn and cook another 2-3 minutes on the other side.  They should still be quite pink in the center.  Let them rest a few minutes and then slice thinly at an angle.  4 ounces of fish, along with a big serving of the salad should be plenty for each person.WINE:  I liked an Oregon chardonnay with this; it stood up to the tuna. Try Chehelam or Bethel Heights.  If you make your salad quite spicy, see about an off-dry Riesling (the higher the alcohol %, the drier the Riesling–) from Washington, New York, or Germany.Have fun cooking and taking care of yourself,
Alyce
(originally published on my Dinner Place blog:  19 October, 2013)
Copyright More Time at the Table 2013. All rights reserved.

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Grilled Eggplant-Potato Salad with Homemade Spicy Basil Mayonnaise a la Daniel Boulud

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If it’s past our anniversary, which for 40 years has appeared each Bastille Day, it’s past the middle of July. That’s pretty late in the season to have not yet had one bite of potato salad.  Late yesterday afternoon, opening and closing the fridge door like a teenager hoping to find something new since the last time I looked, I couldn’t think of something to have with leftover burgers.  (I like leftover burgers nearly better than fresh.) The weather was not helpful:  60 degrees and 60 mph winds with hard rain and hail did away with idea of grilling anything.  I knew I needed to use a quickly aging eggplant and of course there were eggs.  In the vegetable basket were onions and naturally potatoes.  A big bunch of basil drooped unhappily on the counter.  I drooped, too.  Our youngest had been home for a few days for a family wedding and for our anniversary.  She had left that morning.

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Cook the Book — Last Week — Tomato-Carrot Soup with Feta

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(Above:  Soup is easily vegan without the feta garnish.)

This is the last week I’ll  feature a recipe from my new book, Soups & Sides for Every Season (click HERE to order).   Make the recipe, photograph it, email the pic to me:  soupsandsides@gmail.com.   If yours is the first email with a recipe photo I receive, I’ll mail you a book!  Don’t forget to include your snail mail address in the email as well as any adjustments you made to the recipe.  Now get “cooking!”  I can’t wait to hear from you.

My first for-real book signing is Saturday, July 19 (11am – 1 pm) at Aspen Kitchens and Design Studio here in Colorado Springs:  5134 North Nevada Ave. Colorado Springs, 80918 –University Village Complex. I’ll have a few books with me, but you still have time to buy one and bring it!  There may even be some soup or something else to taste.  Come see!  Next up is Shouse Appliances at Academy and Austin Bluffs; date tba.  There’ll be some cooking going on at Shouse, of course.

Soup Book-Cover final

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