Sunday, January 29, 2012


Memories must leave trails in the mind, quietly forgotten until a flavor or smell sends us barreling into the cobwebs woven across their path. I found myself remembering my grandfather today in the juicy sampling of a tangelo. He has been gone for years, yet this particular fruit delivered vivid recollections of him. There he was with his papery skin and bone-dry humor, mixing bloody mary's in his Florida kitchen. I regret not knowing him more before he passed. He was a remarkable man. He was a gracious host to his overwhelming family of children and grandchildren stuffing his home to the gills during holiday gatherings. He always mixed the drinks, and he always had a endless supply of tangelos.
The Minneola tangelo, also known as the Honeybell, is a hybrid crossed from the Duncan grapefruit and Dancy tangerine, yielding exceptionally juicy fruit and electric orange skin. The bell shape distinguishes it easily from any other citrus. These fruits are unique due to their short season. Ripe only a few weeks out of the year, Honeybells are a rare treat.
Thanks to friends returning from a recent trip to the Sunshine State with a bag full, I was offered more than a succulent morsel; I bit into the unexpected gift of memory. A special flavor indeed.

Pin It

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Raw Kale Salad with Cashews and Cranberries

A friend of mine makes this dish often, and I finally called her to get the breakdown. Being more of a cooked vegetable fan, especially this time of year, I have been easily wooed by this raw preparation. Super fine chopped kale is dressed in fresh lemon juice and olive oil, studded with roasted nuts, dried fruit and hard cheese. As simple to prepare as it sounds, you will be surprised by a mosaic of flavor.
The taste of unadulterated green is a vivid tonic during these winter months, delivering a handful of health-giving properties. These include: calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, manganese, vitamins A, B6, C and K, beta carotene and age fighting antioxidants.
If you are feeling sluggish, this dish will wake you right up. Excellent served as a side or stuffed into wraps and sandwiches.
Chop, toss and serve.

Raw Kale Salad with Cashews and Cranberries:
*1 bunch fresh organic kale, rinsed and dried
*fresh lemon juice
*extra virgin olive oil
*sea salt
*roasted cashews, almonds, or pumpkin seeds
*dried cranberries, currants or sour cherries
*grated Parmesan cheese
*drizzle of maple syrup (optional)

Remove ribs from kale. Chiffonade then finely chop kale or working in batches, pulse leaves in a food processor being careful not to over blend. Transfer to a bowl. Add remaining ingredients, using proportions to your liking. Chill and serve.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Egyptian Red Lentil Soup

To learn about the undiscovered complexity of Egyptian cuisine, dip into this month's issue of Food and Wine. Author Salma Abdelnour takes us to Cairo and beyond, sampling the country's authentic specialties. Looking over the recipe for shorbet ads (Egyptian red lentil soup), I guessed it to be a winner. Preparing a batch on this chilly, overcast Sunday confirmed my suspicions. Just a hint of spice joins red lentils in a most peaceful union. Garnished with whole milk yogurt and a squeeze of fresh lemon, you may find yourself drifting off to an exotic place. Pleasant travels!

Egyptian Red Lentil Soup (Featured in January 2012 issue of Food and Wine):
Serves 8

*2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
*1 med onion, chopped
*2 carrots, finely chopped
*3 celery ribs, finely chopped
*3 garlic cloves, sliced thin
*1 teaspoon ground cumin
*1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
*1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
*1 pound tomatoes, seeded and diced (I used blanched frozen garden tomatoes, seeds remaining)
*2 cups red lentils
*sea salt
*Plain whole milk yogurt and lemon wedges for serving

In a heavy soup pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, celery, carrot and garlic. Cook until softened. Add spices. Cook and stir until fragrant. Add tomatoes followed by the lentils and 8 cups of water. Season with sea salt. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer covered for about 30 minutes.
Slightly cool and puree. Salt to taste.
Serve with a dollop of yogurt, lemon wedges and warm pita.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Scandinavian Raspberry Fig Cake

I posted a version of this recipe a long time ago and had forgotten about it until recently running across the original torn from an old issue of Food and Wine. It has been a long week, so I thought to make a double recipe for slicing and sharing as a morale booster. The figs and raspberries are so pretty scattered across the batter.
Dipping into a supply of frozen berries from a very prolific season helps brighten the heavy January scene. Pairs well with hot ginger tea and a good book.

Scandinavian Raspberry Fig Cake:
(Adapted from Mehmet Gurs Original, featured in Food and Wine Magazine March 2010)
*dry bread crumbs for dusting
*1 cup fine raw cane sugar, (you could experiment with honey also)
*1 stick organic unsalted butter, room temp
*3 eggs
*zest of three limes
*1 1/2 cup unbleached organic AP flour
*juice of one lime
*1/2 pint raspberries (I used frozen raspberries from last summer- unthawed, worked great)
*4 figs cut into eighths, or 1/2 pint additional raspberries

Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9 inch springform pan, or try in a cast iron skillet as Gurs' grandmother did. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs to coat. Beat the sugar and eggs with a handheld mixer in a large mixing bowl on high speed, until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the butter and the zest. At low speed slowly add the flour and lime juice, alternating between the two until just incorporated. Blend the rest with a rubber spatula.
Pour the batter into the pan. Sprinkle the fruit over top, and gently press into the batter.
Bake on the bottom third of the oven for 35 minutes. Transfer to the top third of the oven and bake for another 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Loosen the edges of the cake with a knife and release the spring form. Serve warm.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Oysters: Food for the Soul

My best friend's folks have a place on Isle of Palms, outside of Charleston. After a recent spell by the seaside they ascended into the North Carolina mountains with a cooler of singles; the contents boldly competing with giddy anticipations of a waning holiday season. We were generously invited to the feast.
Our friend Ben ended up as shucking station Captain, while us party goers swooped in like birds, grabbing half shells and sliding the silky contents down our throats (eyes closing, sea essence finding marrow).
Children played, golden pilsners eagerly swallowed, while our bellies filled with tokens from the deep.
Poetry was born from feasts like these. The sea momentarily transplanted to the smokey mountains, the mountain folk momentarily transplanted to the sea. It is a lovely thing- this being in two places at once, and all due to a heap of humble-seeming mollusks nestled on ice.
The evening dwindled swiftly, perhaps due to sleepy kids, perhaps in part to the "warming effects" of such fare. An ode to the oyster: a ration of festivity. love tonic. food for the soul.

Friday, January 6, 2012

I'm Still Alive. . .And Eating

Dinner these days has been more about getting it on the table than placing it center stage for cyber-foodie-passers-by. But, I want you all to know (since you've been loosing sleep wondering) that I am still alive, and even managing to make some bangin' dishes on the regular despite my lack of evidence. This post is to reassure you that I have not gone soft. No, still going strong. Recent dishes: local braised beef tips with roots over creamy organic grits, chicken Parmesan with fresh mozzarella in homemade marinara (frozen garden tomatoes are almost history), glazed root vegetables of all sorts (I am addicted to glazing, thanks to this month's issue of SAVEUR), roasted butternut squash soup swirled with locally made raw milk yogurt, local chicken n' herbed dumplings, wild Alaskan salmon in every shape and form (stay tuned for homemade gravlax), soups, soups and more soups. Oh yes, and buttermilk fantail yeast rolls (pictured) to keep us grounded.
I started this blog to display my obsession with foods in their God-given form. Its been two years of steady blogging, and I am still obsessed. Cooking at home continually reinforces how many pleasures are to be had from sometimes little more than roasted beets smothered in butter and sprinkled with flaky sea salt. Although life has gotten a bit busier around mealtime with our little one now almost six months old, food remains a priority here. Not only does it nourish our bodies, it deeply satisfies beyond physical necessity. Nothing quite settles the entire self like a bowl of chicken and buttermilk dumplings buoyed in rich homemade broth.
This post is for all of you who get goose bumps like I do when asparagus pokes through in early spring, when onions and garlic hit a buttery skillet, and when your favorite market vendor says: "I killed that yesterday."- Wrap it up, I'll take it!
Thanks for sharing in the obsession, and for another awesome year!