Month: April 2012

Trading Granola for Eggs or My Urban Bartering  (TEST POST)

Trading Granola for Eggs or My Urban Bartering (TEST POST)

I was on the road a couple of weeks ago checking my computer when my I-Spy Radar saw an email with a subject line that had something to do with too many fresh eggs and trading cookies for them.  I try and stay off email a lot when I’m away seeing my kids or on vacation, but I couldn’t NOT look at this one.  Backyard eggs just hook me right in.   And!  Cookies fall right out of my oven.

My siblings and I grew up with fresh eggs; my dad either traded produce for them or shelled out a little cash to his Swedish farmer friend Munson.  When our  parents retired and took it (ha!) easy on a little “hobby” farm,  they had their own chickens and, hence, their own eggs, to say nothing of a garden that produced tomatoes the likes of which I’ve never again tasted.  When Dave and I visited as newlyweds, we had fresh eggs (fried in bacon or sausage grease) every morning early.  Why would you want anything else?  And why not at 6am?  There, of course, were also biscuits.  With sour cream and honey or molasses.  Unending pots of coffee.

To say that  mass-produced eggs pale in comparison is an apt description.  Don’t you love the looks of this egg produced by one of Cathy’s ladies?

(Read my post about this salsa here.)

So, anyway,  I missed great eggs for years.  I really missed them because I just love eggs.  I go through phrases where sure that the SB diet will take off my well-fed excess, I eat them daily.  Then I begin to worry about the cholesterol and switch back to egg whites.  Whichever, I always eat vegetables for breakfast, too.  (Alternately, I’ll eat yogurt and fresh fruit for weeks on end–with my homemade low-fat granola.)  But back to the email:  as soon as I could arrange it,  I was ready to start trading whatever I had for those eggs

In St. Paul, you can now raise chickens in your own back yard.  Right in the city.  Now I don’t have much space, and I’m only fond of eggs, not chickens, so I’m not putting up a coop back there in place of my postage stamp patio.  But I’m happy to oblige my friend Cathy and her family, who are the ones suffering from the overage.  Her “ladies” live in the yard, eat well, exercise daily, and are nearly pets who produce things like this:

Here’s a closer up pic so maybe you can see the beautiful colors.  The whites are nearly blue:

One week, I traded some oatmeal chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies:

This week I made granola for Dave, so just made a bigger batch and traded that.

It’s lovely with milk, better with plain Greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey, and best with homemade ricotta and fresh fruit. Naturally, you can scoop up a little and eat it out of hand.  (I do recommend leaving a scoop or spoon in the jar as you’re keeping this granola awhile.)  Your choice.   Whatever you do, I hope you find someone with whom to trade it so that you can eat eggs like I’m eating!  Thanks, ladies.

alyce’s low-fat granola with apricots, currants, and cherries

based on David Lebovitz’  recipe, which he says was based on Nigella Lawson’s!

  • 5 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 2t cinnamon
  • 2t ginger
  • 1t kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups each: chopped walnuts and almonds
  • 1/2 cup each: pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and plain sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup each: chopped dried apricots, cherries, and currants or raisins
  • 1/3 cup each: real maple syrup and honey  (can use all honey)
  • 3/4 c applesauce 
  • 2T olive oil

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees F.

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl or soup pot.  (oats through seeds)  Meantime, heat liquid ingredients over low heat, stirring, in a small sauce pan until just warm and well-combined. (syrup, honey, applesauce, and oil).  Pour liquid ingredients over dry and mix well for a few minutes.  Pour onto two or three large, rimmed baking sheets and bake 50-60 minutes until dry, golden, and crispy, stirring 3-4 times during the baking time.  Store in a tightly-sealed container for up to a month.  (This granola will not keep well in a plastic bag.)

I thought I’d share the differences between my granola and David Lebovitz’–his included 3/4 cup brown sugar (I skipped that) and had no fruit at all (I like fruit).  But I definitely borrowed the idea of applesauce in place of the large amount oil usually used in granola and part of the reason it’s so caloric.  This is very low fat, crispy, tasty, and…  well, you’ll like it.

If you’ve never visited the magical David Lebovitz blog,  please do yourself a favor and make the trip today.  David is an American pastry chef living in Paris who always has a great story to tell—  The food’s lovely, too, but it’s the stories that bring me back again and again.  FYI–David also does things like Paris Chocolate Tours if you ever get to the City of Light.  If you want more info, check the blog or ask David yourself in the comment section of his blog.

two-dog kitchen and around the ‘hood

Mother Gabriela

Our lilacs through the piano window.  Two views–above and below.

Above: Tasting Sean’s brews in Colorado.  Our son’s on his way to becoming a master brewer.  Woo hoo!

Above:  In Princeton–a facade saved, ready for its new building to be built behind.  Meantime, you can see the sky!

My Easter cake…will blog soon.  Great for spring!

Dogwood blossom in Princeton

With Dave and Emily eating lunch in the sunshine in the West Village

At The Spotted Pig in NYC,  April Bloomfield’s restaurant.

Couldn’t get in.  🙁

Dappled light –West Village/NYC (above)

Gorgeous window boxes in downtown Princeton (above)

Princeton spring–Dogwoods (above)

Trading Granola for Eggs – My Urban Barter Tale

Trading Granola for Eggs – My Urban Barter Tale

I was on the road a couple of weeks ago and checking my computer when my I-Spy Radar saw an email with a subject line that had something to do with too many fresh eggs and trading cookies for them.  I try and stay off email a lot when I’m away seeing my kids or on vacation, but I couldn’t NOT look at this one.  Backyard eggs just hook me right in.  And, of course, cookies fall right out of my oven.

My siblings and I grew up with fresh eggs; my dad either traded produce for them or shelled out a little cash to his Swedish farmer friend Munson.  When our  parents retired and took it (ha!) easy on a little “hobby” farm,  they had their own chickens and, hence, their own eggs, to say nothing of a garden that produced tomatoes the likes of which I’ve never again tasted.  When Dave and I visited as newlyweds, we had fresh eggs (fried in bacon or sausage grease) every morning early.  Why would you want anything else?  And why not at 6am?  There, of course, were also biscuits.  With sour cream and honey or molasses.  Unending pots of coffee.

To say that  mass-produced eggs pale in comparison is an apt description.  Don’t you love the looks of this egg produced by one of Cathy’s ladies?

(Read my post about this salsa here.)

So, anyway,  I missed great eggs for years.  I really missed them because I just love eggs.  I go through phrases where sure that the SB diet will take off my well-fed excess, I eat them daily.  Then I begin to worry about the cholesterol and switch back to egg whites.  Whichever, I always eat vegetables for breakfast, too.  (Alternately, I’ll eat yogurt and fresh fruit for weeks on end–with my homemade low-fat granola.)  But back to the email:  as soon as I could arrange it,  I was ready to start trading whatever I had for those eggs

In St. Paul, you can now raise chickens in your own back yard.  Right in the city.  Now I don’t have much space, and I’m only fond of eggs, not chickens, so I’m not putting up a coop back there in place of my postage stamp patio.  But I’m happy to oblige my friend Cathy and her family, who are the ones suffering from the overage.  Her “ladies” live in the yard, eat well, exercise daily, and are nearly pets who produce things like this:

 Here’s a closer up pic so maybe you can see the beautiful colors.  The whites are nearly blue:

One week, I traded some oatmeal chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies:

This week I made granola for Dave, so just made a bigger batch and traded that.

It’s lovely with milk, better with plain Greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey, and best with homemade ricotta and fresh fruit. Naturally, you can scoop up a little and eat it out of hand.  (I do recommend leaving a scoop or spoon in the jar as you’re keeping this granola awhile.)  Your choice.   Whatever you do, I hope you find someone with whom to trade it so that you can eat eggs like I’m eating!  Thanks, ladies.

alyce’s low-fat granola with apricots, currants, and cherries
based on David Lebovitz’  recipe, which he says was based on Nigella Lawson’s!

  • 5 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 2t cinnamon
  • 2t ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves, optional
  • 1t kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups each: chopped walnuts and almonds
  • 1/2 cup each: pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and plain sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup each: chopped dried apricots, cherries, and currants or raisins
  • 1/3 cup each: real maple syrup and honey  (can use all honey)
  • 3/4 c applesauce 
  • 2T olive oil

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees F.

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl or soup pot.  (oats through seeds)  Meantime, heat liquid ingredients over low heat, stirring, in a small sauce pan until just warm and well-combined. (syrup, honey, applesauce, and oil).  Pour liquid ingredients over dry and mix well for a few minutes.  Pour onto two or three large, rimmed baking sheets and bake 50-60 minutes until dry, golden, and crispy, stirring 3-4 times during the baking time.  Store in a tightly-sealed container for up to a month.  (This granola will not keep well in a plastic bag.)

Cook’s Notes:

1.  I thought I’d share the differences between my granola and David Lebovitz’–his included 3/4 cup brown sugar (I skipped that) and had no fruit at all (I like fruit).  I also added ground cloves, which are optional.  But I definitely borrowed the idea of applesauce in place of the large amount oil usually used in granola and part of the reason it’s so caloric.  This is very low fat, crispy, tasty, and…  well, you’ll like it.

If you’ve never visited the magical David Lebovitz blog,  please do yourself a favor and make the trip today.  David is an American pastry chef living in Paris who always has a great story to tell—  The food’s lovely, too, but it’s the stories that bring me back again and again.  FYI–David also does things like Paris Chocolate Tours if you ever get to the City of Light.  If you want more info, check the blog or ask David yourself in the comment section of his blog.

2.  Changing it up:  The number of additions (and the size of their amounts), to the oats is rather flexible., as are the spices.   If you only have a few nuts and some raisins, for instance, you can still make this granola.  Or if you have only apricots and almonds…you can still make this granola.  Only have cinnamon?  Use 3 teaspoon cinnamon then.  See?   Do keep the main ingredients and proportions intact:  oats, honey, maple syrup, applesauce, and oil.

two-dog kitchen and a bit of travel

Mother Gabriela

Our lilacs through the piano window.  Two views–above and below.

Above: Tasting Sean’s brews in Colorado.  Our son’s on his way to becoming a master brewer.  Woo hoo!

Above:  In Princeton–a facade saved, ready for its new building to be built behind.  Meantime, you can see the sky!

My Easter cake…will blog soon.  Great for spring!

Dogwood blossom in Princeton

 With Dave and Emily eating lunch in the sunshine in the West Village

                                                  At The Spotted Pig in NYC,  April Bloomfield’s restaurant.
                                                        Couldn’t get in.  🙁

Dappled light –West Village/NYC (above)

Gorgeous window boxes in downtown Princeton (above)

Princeton spring–Dogwoods (above)

“Yes, we did,”  said Gab and Tuck

Sing a new song,
Alyce

50 Women Game-Changers – # 45 – Diana Kennedy- Fresh Salsa Mexicana from Jerez

50 Women Game-Changers – # 45 – Diana Kennedy- Fresh Salsa Mexicana from Jerez

Wake up and smell the salsa.
This is not salsa made in New York City.
Nor in San Antonio.
This salsa is made in your house. On your cutting board. 
And not in your Cuisinart.

Plant your gardens and sharpen your knives.
This salsa is worth the time it takes to  grow the ingredients and make it by hand.  But you can make it in its glorious Mexican-flag colors this weekend in honor of Cinco de Mayo if you’d like!

If you’ve not been part of this journey thus far, welcome to my addition to a great group of food bloggers who are, week by week, cooking dishes from the 50 Women Game-Changers in Food from Gourmet Live.  This Friday we feature Mexican chef, teacher, and cookbook author, Diana Kennedy, a Brit (b. 1923)  who ended up in Mexico in love with Mexican food for more than fifty years.  Intent on sharing her passion, Kennedy wrote many cookbooks, (I count about twenty, though some are in English and some in Spanish.) but has remained most intent on passing on information about the culture of ingredients, agriculture,  and cuisine all over the country.
“I’m a very active person,” she said. “I want to spend the rest of my days doing what I know best and that’s identifying what people are using in the culture.”   Read more
Want to check out a recent interview?   Read a  2011 interview with 88 year-old Diana Kennedy here.
But let’s get to the good stuff.  How do you make this salsa?  And what’s it good for?
fresh salsa mexicana from jerez 
  1. 1 poblano chile—stems, seeds, and veins removed and flesh finely chopped
  2. 1 red jalapeño chile—stems, seeds, and veins removed and flesh finely chopped
  3. 2 yellow chiles—stems, seeds and veins removed and flesh finely chopped  *
  4. 2 serrano chiles, finely chopped
  5. 3 tablespoons finely chopped white onion
  6. 1 ripe medium tomato (about 4 ounces), finely chopped
  7. 1/2 cup water
  8. 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  9. 1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano
  10. Salt
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl; season with salt to taste. Set aside to macerate for about 1 hour.
*Not wanting an overly-hot salsa, I substituted red  bell pepper for these chiles.  My salsa was quite mild.  For a hotter salsa, try adding first one and then another yellow chile.

Recipe courtesy FOOD & WINE.

This salsa was really tasty with eggs, and while I’m not a chip-eater, I did try it with some tortilla chips and would have eaten more if I weren’t saving some for a Friday night movie.   I think it would make a great veggie dip; I’m always looking for vegetable-based dips.  You could ladle this sauce over simple greens or plain steamed vegetables.  I thought I’d try it with some plain grilled chicken and then in a chicken taco salad over the weekend.  My guess is it won’t keep more than a couple of days, but who would want it to?

I just loved the colors and intrinsic beauty of the ingredients and kept taking photographs of the greens and the reds…. 

And just to tease you:
Eggs traded for cookies with a St. Paul pianist who has a backyard full of chickens.

Please take some time and visit more of our great food bloggers:

Val – More Than Burnt Toast, Taryn – Have Kitchen Will Feed, Susan – The Spice Garden
Heather – girlichef, Miranda – Mangoes and Chutney, Amrita – Beetles Kitchen Escapades
Mary – One Perfect Bite, Sue – The View from Great Island, Barbara – Movable Feasts
Linda A – There and Back Again, Nancy – Picadillo, Mireya – My Healthy Eating Habits
Veronica – My Catholic Kitchen, Annie – Most Lovely Things, Jeanette – Healthy Living
Claudia – Journey of an Italian Cook, Alyce – More Time at the Table
Kathy – Bakeaway with Me, Martha – Simple Nourished Living, Jill – Saucy Cooks
Sara – Everything in the Kitchen Sink

If you liked this, you might like Boiled Eggs on English Muffins with Asparagus and Cheese Sauce on my Dinner Place  blog:

Cooking for One – It’s Fun!

 Sing a new song,
Alyce
Lemon Orzo with Asparagus, Peas, and Fennel

Lemon Orzo with Asparagus, Peas, and Fennel

Next day:  add some feta, more vegetables, and some oregano for a great salad.

When it’s spring, I’m all over asparagus.  You know that if you read my stuff.    But, it’s fennel, too.  Ramps (a bit like scallions) are also a treat if I can find them.  I like to bring all these April goodies together…and here’s one favorite I pair with a grilled or poached salmon.   Later on, come summer (or for next-day leftovers), I make a great salad by using this basic recipe with a few additions.  Try this:
.
lemon orzo with asparagus, peas, and fennel
    serves 4-6
  • 1/2# orzo, cooked al dente according to dirrections and drained

  • 1T each olive oil and butter (use all olive oil for vegan option)

  • 1# trimmed asparagus cut into 1/2″ pieces

  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, and sliced

  • 1/2 cup fresh/frozen peas

  • 1/4 cup sliced red onion or ramps

  • Juice of a lemon

  • 1T grated lemon rind

  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper and a pinch of crushed red pepper

While the orzo cooks, saute the asparagus, fennel, peas and onion in the olive and butter for 3-4 minutes until softened.  In a large bowl, mix together the drained orzo with the cooked vegetables.  Add the lemon juice, lemon rind, and season generously with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  Add a bit of crushed red pepper  (or aleppo pepper if you want the taste, but not all the heat) and taste.  Adjust seasonings.  Serve hot or at room temperature.
For the next-day or summer cold salad, you can add to the leftovers chopped feta, dried oregano, fresh basil, any other on-hand chopped vegetables, a splash of red wine vinegar and a little more olive oil.  Taste and adjust seasonings again.
Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the ‘Hood:
Out of my garden:

All together:  Annual Lilac-Bloom Dinner last Friday at our house.

Newman came for the occasion.

Gabby’s always happy with guests!

Sing a new song, get outside,
Alyce

50 Women Game-Changers in Food – #44- Nigella Lawson – Guinness Gingerbread

50 Women Game-Changers in Food – #44- Nigella Lawson – Guinness Gingerbread

A tender, quite moist gingerbread from Nigella.

Gingerbread is Christmas, right?  Maybe New Year’s Day?  Certainly a cold-weather dessert.  Except that I love it.  I’d eat it in July if I were willing to turn the oven on.  Which I’m not.*  So that’s why it’s April and there’s Nigella Lawson’s gorgeous Guinness Gingerbread on the blog. (Two “n’s” and two “s’s” in Guinness–tells you  alot about how much I know about Guinness.  I did tour the brewery in Dublin once and actually drank a tall one.)  If you’ve been following along on this trip, I’ve joined a group of great food bloggers who are each week cooking, testing, and writing about one of Gourmet Live’s 50 Women Game-Changers.  And, you guessed it, this week (number 44) is Nigella’s week–I’m so grateful.  After all, I needed a reason to make gingerbread in the spring.  Didn’t I? (Cold and nasty in St. Paul today after a great, warm spring.  I was happy to have a warm kitchen.)
   *I have just installed a combination microwave/convection oven above my rangeThis may help with summer baking.  More later!

If you haven’t had the pleasure of watching Nigella on tv or reading one of her books, you just need to do it.  Picture a well-fed, very pretty British woman with a great accent sneaking out of bed in the dark to raid the refrigerator of crispy fried pork fat or snarfing down the last, well-hid piece of flourless chocolate cake.  Not only is she real with a capital R, but she’s fun and brings more than a bit of the seductive into the kitchen, where it surely belongs.  Whatever…it’s great to watch someone enjoy what they do and Nigella does that in spades.  Isn’t that what really draws us to people?  I adore friends who are happy in what they do.

For a biographical sketch that may surprise you, check out Nigella’s Food Network biography page here.  Not only has Nigella been a food tv star for several years and written a variety of best-selling cookbooks, but she was Deputy Literary Critic of the (London) Sunday Times before setting out to follow her own drummer as a free-lancer.  No small apples.

For a list of all of Nigella’s books, lots more info and recipes, check out her website.

But!  If you’re intrigued by the gingerbread:   get out a 9×13 pan and get baking.  Easy as pie (which isn’t easy–who said that?)  you warm up some butter, a cup of Guinness stout and a couple of other things, whisk in a few dry ingredients, pour into a greased pan and bake for 45 minutes.  Cool, cut, and serve with whipped cream, ice cream, or Crème fraîche.  Nothing better.  My own notes are in red.  Enjoy!

Guinness Gingerbread by Nigella Lawson

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 sticks 10 (tablespoons) butter, plus some for greasing
  • 1 cup golden syrup (such as Lyle’s) (I used Organic Corn Syrup plus a little Molasses.)
  • 1 cup (packed) plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup stout (such as Guinness) (There’s just a taste left for a chef’s snack!)
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • (I added 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 rectangular aluminium foil pan or cake pan, approximately 13 by 9 by 2-inches

Directions

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Line your cake pan with aluminium foil and grease it, or grease your foil tray.

Put the butter, syrup, dark brown sugar, stout, ginger, cinnamon and ground cloves into a pan (2-3qt saucepan)  and melt gently over a low heat.

Organic Corn Syrup with a little molasses poured in…quite pretty.

Dave was so sad that I bought a whole 6-pack.

Take off the heat and whisk in the flour and baking soda. You will need to be patient and whisk thoroughly to get rid of any lumps.

Whisk the sour cream and eggs together in a measuring jug (4c glass measuring cup) and then beat into the gingerbread mixture, whisking again to get a smooth batter.

Pour this into your cake/foil pan, and bake for about 45 minutes; when it’s ready it will be gleamingly risen at the centre, and coming away from the pan at the sides.

Let the gingerbread cool before cutting into slices or squares.

Add sweetened or spiced whipped cream, Crème fraîche,  or a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired.  Just a winter dusting of powdered sugar is lovely if you’re into simplicity:

For grin and giggles, watch this Nigella Interview:

If you’d like to read more great recipes, try one of the other blogs on our trip visiting 50 Women Game-Changers in Food:

Val – More Than Burnt Toast, Taryn – Have Kitchen Will Feed, Susan – The Spice Garden
Heather – girlichef, Miranda – Mangoes and Chutney, Amrita – Beetles Kitchen Escapades
Mary – One Perfect Bite, Sue – The View from Great Island, Barbara – Movable Feasts
Linda A – There and Back Again, Nancy – Picadillo, Mireya – My Healthy Eating Habits
Veronica – My Catholic Kitchen, Annie – Most Lovely Things, Jeanette – Healthy Living
Claudia – Journey of an Italian Cook, Alyce – More Time at the Table
Kathy – Bakeaway with Me, Martha – Simple Nourished Living, Jill – Saucy Cooks
Sara – Everything in the Kitchen Sink

Next week we’ll feature Diana Kennedy, the very fine Mexican cookbook author.  Join us!

Sing a new song,
Alyce

50 Women Game-Changers in Food – #43 – April Bloomfield – Lamb Burgers

50 Women Game-Changers in Food – #43 – April Bloomfield – Lamb Burgers

” I like my animals whole and my veggies unpeeled” — April Bloomfield

Just a note:  I’m away from home, on a borrowed computer and using an old suitcase camera.

If I could have chosen which of Gourmet Live’s 50 Women Game-Changers in Food I’d be, at first glance I’m sure I would have chosen Elizabeth David or M.F.K. Fisher — two of my favorite all-time food writers.  But, no, I adore Ina Garten and I surely might have picked her.  Of course, there’s the omnipresent Julia.  Who wouldn’t have wanted to be that particular ice-breaker?  But as we’ve gone through the list, I’m impressed over and over again with the sweet love for life all these women have. I adore them all in some way.  The oh-so-interesting ideas they entertain.  The passion for the exactly right thing to eat at exactly the right time.  The attention to detail.  The waiting for the perfect pairing.  Not wasting a thing.   Wanting to end hunger.  The years spent with a head cocked sideways off a body leaning floorward to check a pan of cookies.  The eyes squinting from too many small-print cookbooks.

 The Spotted Pig in NYC


Because those of us in love with food are unusual people.  We are quite surely not “the girl next door,” despite our lust for making dinner.  We are maybe one little cut off the totem pole from the average female bear.  To begin with, we mostly don’t care if we don’t earn any big bucks, though we surely wish we had more than we do.  We’re more interested in having our arms firmly around the perfectly-browned loaf or our tongues guaging a finely seasoned vinaigrette.  We care more about who’s at the table and how we show our love by making their favorite roast chicken at dinner time. Or showing up at the picnic with someone’s best-loved rhubarb pie.  We’re a bit addicted, though, and probably do want to win the prize at the fair… or at the competition.  Somewhat obsessed.  Overly focused.  We are, to coin a phrase, highly seasoned women.  As my mother-in-law might say, “WHAT are you making NOW???”  As if I were crazed.  Which I might be.  Which is something all of us food-lovers have in common.

The Spotted Pig, two views of entrance

And so comes April Bloomfield — one of these marvelous she-cooks, whose name didn’t ring a bell, but whose restaurant my family visited a few months back. (It just happens I’ll eat at The Spotted Pig, April’s New York eatery,  myself this Saturday– or hope to before or after attending a Broadway show with same fam.  I may re-do the blog once I have a few more personal pics.  See above) And it also just happens that as I write, the young and famous Ms. Bloomfield has just published her first book,  A Girl and her PigBut really–the more I read about her, the more fascinated I became with her up-front no-frills, Birmingham, England language  (keeping up with any line cook I’ve ever worked with or met) and cooking–The more I understood how she earned her place on the list.  Because she fits the bill.  She’s got the obvious dedication, the love of extremes, the fascination with the product, the craze for the itsiest part of the process.  The willingness to put everything else aside.  Well, mostly, anyway.

In A Girl and Her Pig, April Bloomfield takes home cooks on an intimate tour of the food that has made her a star. Thoughtful, voice-driven recipes go behind the scenes of Bloomfield’s lauded restaurants—The Spotted Pig, The Breslin, and The John Dory—and into her own home kitchen, where her attention to detail and reverence for honest ingredients result in unforgettable dishes that reflect her love for the tactile pleasures of cooking and eating. Bloomfield’s innovative yet refreshingly straightforward recipes, which pair her English roots with a deeply Italian influence, offer an unfailingly modern and fresh sensibility and showcase her bold flavors, sensitive handling of seasonal produce, and nose-to-tail ethos. A cookbook as delightful and lacking in pretention as Bloomfield herself, A Girl and Her Pig combines exquisite food with charming narratives on Bloomfield’s journey from working-class England to the apex of the culinary world, along with loving portraits of the people who have guided her along the way.  courtesy amazon.com

Without much more ado,  I think it best to share an April Bloomfield recipe–one which, from the background reading I’ve done, might come from the restaurant Breslin as it’s a lamb burger topped with feta..  Try this simple ha! meal yourself and see if April doesn’t win your heart.  I–actually the love of my life– made a few last night for a bunch of burger-loving neighbors and there were simply only raves.  The obvious clue is this:  it’s all about the meat.  All about the meat being exactly what it should be.  The best it can be.  No mucking it around in some fancy-schmancy tartar sauce-like slop to mar or obscure the taste of what it is, which is meat.  Just the facts, ma’am.

No condiments.  No mustard.  No mayo.  Just the stuff on the recipe.  Trust April.
lamb burger
makes 4 burgers 
 
2# ground lamb shoulder
1 small red onion
6 oz goats milk feta
4 ciabatta or sour dough rolls
 
Combine ground lamb shoulder in a bowl.  Mix thoroughly for three minutes using your hands.  Divide into four balls.  Form into patties and allow to rest in the fridge for a minimum of two hours.
 
Meanwhile heat pan or grill to medium heat.  Season lamb burgers with salt and place gently on cooking surface.  Cook for five minutes on each side and allow to rest for two minutes.  Feel free to toast the buns.  Top off with sliced feta and red onions.
 
See?  No mustard.   Not even much in the way of onions.  Lots of meat and lots of great bun.  Maybe toasted.

Wine?  Oh, honey.  Do yourself a favor and grab a nice, big juicy Syrah.  California Syrah or Australian Shiraz.

Sides? I like a bit of a fresh homemade pickle with this…some cucumbers sliced thinly and mixed up with a good dose of white vinegar, a bit of salt, sugar, pepper and a good pinch of crushed red pepper.  If you’re hungrier, or have a crowd, make a hearty orzo salad with lots of blanched fresh vegetables, parsley, basil, and maybe some more feta.  Lemon juice and olive oil for a dressing.  OR  If it’s summer, just slice up a big platter of great tomatoes and be done with it.

April Bloomfield is the executive chef and co-owner of The Spotted Pig, Breslin, and The John Dory Oyster Bar in NYC. A native of England, Bloomfield began her career at London’s Kensington Place, then moved on to the city’s Bibendum and River Cafe (where Jamie Oliver got his start), before landing a spot at Alice Waters’s Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California. She opened The Spotted Pig with Ken Friedman in 2004. courtesy Food & Wine.

 

Follow April Bloomfield on twitter

Want to read more great 50 Women Game-Changer recipes? Check out the great blogs below:

Val – More Than Burnt Toast, Taryn – Have Kitchen Will Feed, Susan – The Spice Garden
Heather – girlichef, Miranda – Mangoes and Chutney, Amrita -: http://beetleskitchen.com.

Linda A – There and Back Again, Nancy – Picadillo, Mireya – My Healthy Eating Habits
Veronica – My Catholic Kitchen, Annie – Most Lovely Things, Jeanette – Healthy Living
Claudia – Journey of an Italian Cook, Alyce – More Time at the Table
Kathy – Bakeaway with Me, Martha – Simple Nourished Living, Jill – Saucy Cooks
Sara – Everything in the Kitchen Sink

All photographs unless otherwise noted copyright Alyce Morgan, 2012

No-Hassle Easter

No-Hassle Easter

Cupcakes–Make them and freeze them tonight.  Defrost and frost Saturday or Order plain from the bakery and decorate at home.

no hassle Easter menu  serves 8

Deviled Eggs*
Make-ahead Green Bean Salad with Shallot Cream Dressing**
Pan-Grilled Double Lamb Rib Chops with Tapenade**
Oven-Roasted Rosemary Whole Carrots**
Czech Easter Bread, optional *
Cupcakes with Jelly Bean Frosting (Buy or Make)*

My choices for wine:  Bethel Heights Pinot Gris
           Fisher Cabernet Sauvignon — your choice— or ask your winemonger for a great Cab for Easter

**Recipes below
*Click link for recipe/choose your own

Czech Easter Bread (Link to recipe above.)
This menu promises full tummies and smiles all around for the Bunny-Cooks who
 bake up/buy some cupcakes in the next day or two, 
 make short work of the  leftover boiled eggs turned starter deviled eggs,
 throw some fresh vegetables into the microwave briefly to create a spring salad extraordinaire,
 and then grill a few tiny, but fat double lamb chops while quick-roasting a pan full of long, slim carrots covered with pepper and rosemary.  Phew. 
Just a few tulips–the perfect centerpiece.

 Or why do it all yourself?  You might get your cousin to do the cupcakes, your sister to do the salad, and so on.  Make the day easy on yourself since someone had to clean the house and put out the egg-shaped candles, afterall. But if you’re doing it all yourself, here’s how:

No cupcakes for these guys.

 GAME PLAN:  


1. Today or Tomorrow:   Do grocery shopping.  Make/buy carrot cake cupcakes. Freeze plain cupcakes. 
2.  Friday:  Make tapenade and store well-covered.  Keep others out of it until Sunday.  Boil eggs.
3. Saturday:  Used boiled Easter eggs and make deviled eggs.  Store loosely covered in refrigerator. Do not sprinkle with paprika until ready to serve.  Here are three recipes or make your own. 
4. Saturday or Sunday morning:  Make the salad and dressing. (recipes below); refrigerate them separately until Sunday.
5.  Sunday: 

  • In the morning:  unthaw and frost cupcakes if not already done.  Store out of reach of the dogs and kids.
  • ”    ”      ”       :  set and decorate table
  • 1 1/2 hours before dinner:  Bring lamb chops to room temperature.  Uncork/decant red wine.
  • Set out deviled eggs and uncork white wine for starters.
  • Peel/prepare carrots and place on a half-sheet pan.  Prepare chops for cooking.
  • Pan-grill, then roast chops and oven-roast carrots.  Place chops and carrots on a large platter with tapenade and pass at the table.
  • Just before eating:  Spoon salad into large serving bowl, drizzle with dressing, and toss well.  Pour red wine. Place bread on table if serving.
  • Serve cupcakes and smile. 

  recipes:

 Make-Ahead Green Bean Salad with Cream Shallot Dressing
    serves 8

This recipe calls for you to blanch the beans and fresh peas briefly in boiling water, drain, and cool quickly in an ice bath.  You can also cook them, separately, in the microwave for 2-3 minutes with just a couple of tablespoons of water in a microwave-safe covered bowl.

  • 6 cups fresh haricots verts or green beans, trimmed, blanched, cooled in ice bath, and drained
  • 3 cups fresh green peas (or frozen), blanched, cooled in ice bath, and drained
  • 2 cups sliced celery
  • 1/2 c each diced red  bell pepper, yellow bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup thinly-sliced carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 4 cups mixed salad greens
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper



Dressing:   2T minced shallots, 2T lemon juice, 1 cup half and half, 2T finely minced flat-leaf parsley,  1/4 tsp each sea salt/ fresh ground pepper, 1 tsp grated lemon zest,  2 drops Tabasco.  Place all ingredients in a jar with a tightly-fitted lid and shake vigorously when making and just before dressing salad.

  1.  One day ahead:  Mix all salad ingredients—except lemon juice– together in a large bowl.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate. 
  2. When ready to serve, add lemon juice and toss well.  Drizzle with dressing and toss again.  Taste and re-season.  (You’ll have leftover dressing.  Store in refrigerator 2-3 days.)

Note: This salad is loosely based on one from the book SALAD FOR DINNER by Patricia Wells, who is one of my favorite cookbook authors.

Pan-grilled Double Lamb Rib Chops with Tapenade and Oven-Roasted Rosemary Carrots

  serves 8

  A. Up to two days ahead, make tapenade and store tightly covered in the refrigerator:

Tapenade- Chopped olives, garlic, parsley and anchovies.  Great with sliced baguette or crackers, too.
  • 2 cups pitted kalamata olives
  • 3 anchovies
  • 1/2 cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil                                              
  • 1T red wine vinegar
  • 1T fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch fresh ground pepper
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • salt, if needed, to taste   

Process all ingredients in a food processor fitted with the metal blade.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Store, well-covered, in refrigerator until needed.  Serve in a bowl on the table for guests to help themselves or spoon a bit on each chop if you like. 

B.  For chops and carrots ( recipe, see below) — about 45 minutes before dinner time.

  •     8 double lamb rib chops at room temperature
  •      olive oil
  •      kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper

 

  • 2 dozen long, thin carrots, peeled and trimmed
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher Salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 4T finely minced fresh rosemary

 
 Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 

 Place carrots on a large baking sheet/s, drizzle with oil and dust generously with salt, pepper, and   rosemary.  Place pan of carrots in the oven on a rack in the bottom third of the oven and roast until tender and somewhat crispy.

Heat grill pan or large, heavy skillet/s for the chops over medium-high heat.  Place another rack, for the chops, in the upper third.

  1. Meantime, drizzle chops with olive oil on both sides and salt and pepper thoroughly on both sides.  Brown chops very well on each side and remove to a roasting pan or oven-safe casserole.  When all the chops are browned, place pan/casserole in the oven and roast until done to your liking. 
  2.  Use instant-read thermometer to determine if chops are done.  I like mine fairly rare (quite pink) and took them out to rest when the temperature was between 120 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit.  If you’d like them just pink, try 140 degrees.  Quite done is about 160.
  3. Remove pan/casserole from oven and remove chops to serving platter.  Let sit 2-3 minutes. 
  4. Remove carrots from the oven and add them to the platter. Serve hot with tapenade  

Note:  If you’d like to use nice big and thick bone-in pork chops instead of lamb chops, they’ll work just as well using the same process.  You’ll want them cooked to 145 degrees Fahrenheit (medium rare) and allowed to rest a few minutes.  Great with tapenade.

Happy Easter and Sing a New Song,
Alyce