Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Popover Pancake with Strawberry Sauce

Slice of Pancake on Plate with Strawberries and Maple Syrup
Easy to Make and Fun to Serve

Recipes by Philippa and Mom

As the years go by, I appreciate my cousins more and more. Most are far away but remain close to my heart. A few years back, after a 30-year hiatus, I visited my cousin/godfather Dick, and Philippa, his wife of nearly 50 years, in Pennsylvania. Both had inspired my early study of music by their interest and by their own musicianship. Amongst the catching up, Philippa whipped up the most amazing meals, including a light and airy popover pancake for breakfast one morning. She assured me that it was easy to make. It didn’t seem possible that its puffy, soufflĂ© like proportions could be easily duplicated. But surprisingly this impressive dish takes little time and effort and uses few ingredients.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Asparagus, Bacon, Roasted Pepper, and Sausage Strata

Slice of Strata on Plate
"Loaded" Strata

Recipe by Robin

Ten or more years ago I was served strata at an Easter brunch. It was so beautiful and yummy that I’ve wanted to make one ever since. The process of preparing all of the strata layers, assembling them in order, and pouring the egg mixture in was appealing. But the idea of refrigerating it for 10 hours to allow the bread to soak up the eggs and milk—that means planning—seemed daunting. But spring inspires new activities, especially when I see tender young asparagus on sale. I might get used to eating brunch at home weekends instead of going out…maybe.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Roast Chicken with Wild Rice Stuffing & Orange-Wine Sauce

Plate of Chicken with Wild Rice Stuffing
Early Spring Comfort Food

Recipe by Robin

Stuffed chickens are extremely out of fashion and I’d like to reverse that trend, particularly at this time of year. Though technically spring, many days still tend towards damp and chilly, evenings are nippy, and my East Coast friends are looking at snow from yet another storm. We’re craving something warm and comforting. An oven-roasted bird with stuffing reminds us of celebratory feasts from seasons past and orange-wine sauce provides a lighter take on gravy. Why limit our enjoyment of stuffed birds to winter occasions?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Coq au Vin

Plate of Coq Au Vin with Parsley garnish
Classic Coq Au Vin

Recipe Adapted from French: Delicious Classic Cuisine Made Easy

My mom used to make chicken with wine, and for years I’ve wondered how similar her recipe was to the classic French coq au vin. I’d never felt brave enough to venture into the French cooking world until my friend Lynn graced me with French: Delicious Classic Cuisine Made Easy last Christmas. Even with the simplification, this dish is much more complicated than Mom’s chicken, and it tastes quite different. After a frenzy of cooking activities, a slow simmer adds the real magic. Slow cooking is key to the chicken’s melt-in-the-mouth tenderness as well as its wine and mushroom flavor permeation. This is the richest “simply braised chicken” imaginable.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Citrus Pomegranate Fruit Salad

Individual Serving of Salad
Spring Colors with Last Harvest Fruits

Recipe adapted from Best of Sunset

Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be. As Seasonal Eating readers know, I’m crazy about retro cookbooks. The latest addition to my collection was published ‘way back in 1992. The Best of Sunset is a compilation of winning recipes from Sunset magazine’s not-so-distant past. Yet since Sunset has been serving up menu ideas since 1898, I suspect that this fruit salad recipe was first published earlier—around 1980 or a bit before. It’s from the years when honey-Dijon dressings suddenly appeared on menus everywhere, but we hadn’t learned to specify which “salad oil” they were made with. This salad is lightly dressed and even my friend Rox (not a big fan of mustard) rated it thumbs up.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Massaged Kale Salad with Sunflower Seeds

Pouring Dressing onto Salad
A Little Dressing & a Lot of Kale

Recipe by Robin

Raw kale is a nutritional powerhouse, but its sharp taste and unyielding texture make eating it a more healthful than delicious experience. However, the commercial solution of drowning the kale in an oily dressing to tone it down can reduce flavor and texture to a bland, soppy mess. Luckily, home cooks can achieve better results by massaging the kale by hand. Fear not, you won’t need extraordinary upper body strength! Most of the work is done chemically by lemon juice while you squeeze for just 2 minutes. Further mellowing of the kale is accomplished by marinating in an easy dressing.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Making Seed Bombs

Two California Poppy Blossoms
Easy Care Native CA Poppies

Inspired by Demo at the Maker Faire

Now that it’s raining again in California, and weather will become balmy throughout most of the US during the next few weeks, it’s time to think about bombing our landscape—with wildflowers. These bombs, made with recycled newspaper, will absorb water, break down, and with a little luck provide substrate to nurture the seeds inside as they develop. Making seed bombs is kid-friendly provided that an adult supervises or operates the blender. Whip up a batch and toss a few by your fence or in a weedy area, and see what happens.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Delicata Squash Burgers

Closeup of Burger on Bun with Tomato, Lettuce, and Parsley
Delicata Squash Makes Golden Burgers

Recipe adapted from Allrecipes

In case you haven’t heard, the world’s largest online foodie community, Allrecipes.com, now publishes a bi-monthly print edition. Recently an article in Allrecipes about in-season winter squash featured this recipe by Kphanie, who says that it makes wonderful ravioli stuffing as well as burgers. Delicata squash has a light flavor and just enough texture to hold a burger together. Though these burgers aren’t “meaty,” they’re agreeably flavored and textured, with sundried tomatoes, shallots, garlic, and Parmesan cheese adding to the delicate squash flavor. An excellent use of my last home-grown squash from 2013’s harvest, especially since my husband isn’t crazy about delicatas as-is.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Pineapple Rum Tortuga Cake

Piece of Pineapple Tortuga Cake showing Almond Topping
Moist & Rich Cake with Ground Almond Topping

Recipe Adapted from Various Sources

This year Pirates Kidnapped the Luau (party), so my usual Aloha-style Ginger Frosted Pineapple Cake—from Cooking By Moonlight—needed some Caribbean-ization. King Arthur’s Flour’s blog and Wuvie from Instructables helped me create a pineapple variation of a Tortuga Rum Cake. The most important detail of this recipe is that it must be made a day or two in advance to allow the rum glaze to mellow and permeate the cake. It’s best when left overnight in the pan before flipping onto the serving plate and enjoying. The flavor and texture are worth the wait!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Persimmon Ginger Sauce for Pancakes

Rolled up Pancakes with persimmon sauce, extra sauce in cruet
Persimmons in (and on) Blankets

Recipe by Robin

Anyone with a persimmon tree will tell you that there is such a thing as too many persimmons, especially Hachiya persimmons, the kind that get squishy as they ripen. Leaving them to the birds and raccoons is an option, unless the trees are near your house or walkway, in which case Mother Nature can create a slippery yet sticky mess. And so it was that my friend Bill gifted me with a large box of persimmons in December, once again. I froze many of these, but had an inspired idea for them last week when the persimmony taste in a persimmon pancake recipe was too subtle. Thus was born a sweet, delicate, spiced sauce to be served with the pancakes that takes 5 minutes or less to prepare.