Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bacon and Caramelized Onion Pizza

Perfect Bacon and Caramelized Onion Pizza!
Let the Party Begin!

Recipe by Robin and King Arthur

It’s almost time for the Super Bowl, which means it’s almost time for Super Bowl parties. I don’t know much about football, but I do know that food and drink is at least as important as a big screen for a successful Super Bowl party. If tradition holds, now is not the time for lightweight dainties like fruit salad and carrot sticks, unless accompanied by dips, toppings, and possibly wings. But it is the perfect time to roll out a couple of handcrafted Bacon and Caramelized Onion Pizzas. This recipe is adapted from a step-by-step pizza contest entry I posted last week at instructables.com. If you like how-to forums and pizza, I humbly ask that you head on over to Instructables and rate my recipe.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Turkey Drumsticks with Veggie Gravy

Plate with Turkey Drum, Mashed Potatoes, and Gravy
Serious Comfort Food

Recipe adapted from Meals for One or Two

I’ve been wanting to share this wonderfully retro recipe from this classic 1978 cookbook ever since I started Seasonal Eating in 2011. Turkey drumsticks are baked with a wintry mix of finely chopped celery, carrot, and onion. Then the veggies are boiled down into a chunky gravy, flavored with catsup and paprika. The meat stays moist and lends its juice to the gravy because – get this – it’s baked in an oven bag! Just like Mom or Grandma used to make. How fun is that?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Persimmon Pudding I

Piece of Persimmon Pudding cut out of Pan
Smaller Pan makes Deeper Pudding

Recipe by Robin

There’s an amazing amount of variation among persimmon pudding recipes. Some start with 1 cup of persimmons, and others with 2. Milk can be whole, buttermilk, half-and-half, or cream, and can vary in amount between 1/3 cup and 2½ cups. Flour amounts can be either 1 or 2 cups. Some traditional sources, like Joy of Cooking and Aunt Edna at Food.com, use ½ cup butter, whereas Joy the Baker uses only 1 tablespoon. The amount of sugar can vary from ½ cup to 1½ cups, and number of eggs from 1 to 3. One presumably bread-like recipe uses no eggs at all, and only 1/3 cup of milk! Some recipes contain fruits and nuts. Alternatives to the traditional cinnamon-ginger-nutmeg flavoring include cloves, allspice, lemon, vanilla, and rum. Because pudding is by nature soft-textured, baking chemistry is fairly forgiving compared with breads and muffins. So one can apply plenty of artistic license when creating a recipe.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

How to Cook Live Dungeness Crab

Live Crab on ice
Object of our (Culinary) Affection

Recipe by Robin

As promised in last year’s post about selecting and reheating precooked Dungeness crab, today we’ll tackle cooking a live crab. Dungeness, a west coast (US) winter delicacy, is low in calories and high in protein. It’s also sustainably fished. Crab traps sit on the bottom of the ocean with very little impact on the local environment. Only mature crabs of legal size can enter the trap, and traps are designed to allow very little bycatch of other species. Of course, if you’ve ever observed crabs in an amateur’s aquarium, you’ll notice that given some time they eat every other species that comes near them, even fish and snails. They respond quickly to changes in their environment, typically with their claws. This fast response time and unrelenting claw action are the two main factors to heed when handling live crabs of any variety.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Winter Greens Soup for Immune Boost

Bowl of Winter Greens Soup garnished with Carrot
Colorful, Nutritious, and Most Especially Yummy

Recipe from Field of Greens

Looking for ways to strengthen your immune system? Good idea for staying well at this time of year. According to WebMD,  “A diet rich in antioxidant vitamins and nutrients can boost immunity. Top antioxidants include vitamins C and E, plus beta-carotene and zinc.” Their top antioxidant food picks include kale, onions, spinach, carrots, chard, and garlic. And that’s pretty much the ingredient list for this soup. So it’s healthy, but the real surprise is its savory deliciousness, considering its simple ingredients. Preparation method is key. As my friend Gwen, who makes this soup every winter says, “If you throw it all into a pot, it won't come out right. Follow instructions, then it's delicious!” Luckily, the instructions are pretty easy.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Persimmon Tangerine Lemon & Ginger Marmalade

Plate of English Muffin with Persimmon Slices and Marmalade
Persimmon Marmalade with Fuyu Persimmons

Recipe by Robin

‘Way back when during the winter of 02 – 03, when I developed this recipe, I gave away over 400 oz. of this stuff. All told I canned about 60 jars. I had only a vague recollection of my mother making jam, and internet resources for recipes weren’t what they are today. Basically, I had no idea what I was doing. Yet, with two giant Hachiya persimmon trees at my (former) home, I couldn’t stand for the fruits to go to waste. True that crows and starlings liked them, but their constant squabbling and wastefulness annoyed me. Especially when they tossed the squishy remains all over the yard, fence, and garden for you-know-who to clean up. After making 12 successful batches (and one failure), I could barely think of making persimmon jam the following year. Or any other year, until now.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Carrot Curry with Banana & Orange

Bowl of Carrot Curry over Rice
Bright & Spicy Winter Fare

Recipe adapted from the Carrot Cookbook

It’s almost unbelievable how a single, simple intuitive act can have little impact upon one’s life until 30 years later, when it makes a significant difference. This sounds like a theme for a romantic comedy that takes itself too seriously, but actually I’m thinking of the Carrot Cookbook. This recipe collection was published as a fundraiser by Santa Cruz’s Planned Parenthood in 1978. At the time, I couldn’t have cared less about carrots. I purchased this slim volume as a follow-up to PP’s Zucchini Cookbook, which had helped me use up our rapidly proliferating squash crop. I was compelled beyond reason to own the companion volume. Luckily so, because 34 years later, as a seasonal cook, this second book is most useful.  Since so few veggies are available in winter, Carrot Cookbook recipes appear with regularity on our table every January. This old school Santa Cruz curry is a good example.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Hot Cocoa Toddy

Cuppa Hot Cocoa Toddy with foamy top
Cow's Milk makes Best Foam Top

Recipe inspired by Don


Quite a few years back my friend Don went on a noble quest to create the perfect hot cocoa for grown-ups. In the interest of (culinary) science, Don experimented with all manner of spirits. He tried traditional hot toddy components like brandy and rum. Then, on to assorted liqueurs like Grand Marnier (orange), Crème de Menthe (mint), and Kahlua (coffee). After much experimentation, he and his wife Barbara concluded that Frangelico, the smooth hazelnut liqueur, compliments cocoa best. Frangelico’s flavor hints at cinnamon, vanilla, and chocolate along with hazelnut. This tasty but not overpowering blend is ideal in hot cocoa.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

January Veggies and Recipes

Garden Winter Savory

Frosty Dream Time

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, we’re in that dark, cold time of year. Today is the Epiphany, the official end of the Christmas season, when the wise men finally arrived in Bethlehem. We’ve baked and prepared our feasts, eaten our treats, given and received our gifts, celebrated the New Year, and made our list of goals for 2013 (or not). What now? May I boldly suggest some rest? (A vastly underrated commodity in the US.) It seems likely that the wise men spent some time hanging out with Jesus and deeply contemplating his birth, rather than rushing off to their next destination. Let’s take some time this month to contemplate our own lives and how we want our 2013 to be. If we give ourselves some time to imagine ourselves where we want to be, it just might be easier to get there.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Curried Pork and Pumpkin Stew

Small Bowl of Curry with Spoon
Sunshiny Color & Spicy Flavor

Recipe adapted from Sweet Onions and Sour Cherries

Happy 2013! Lest you think that I was dissing the humble pumpkin in our pumpkin vs. butternut squash pie smackdown on Christmas, I offer you this pumpkin-based winter stew. True that butternut is easier to make into pies than pumpkin, looks brighter, tastes sweeter, and is preferred by most diners in desserts. However, since pumpkin is more earthy and substantial, it’s perfect for savory dishes. Pumpkin compliments other vegetables and meats. Its flavor and texture marry well with curry ingredients to create a satisfying and spicy potage. Butternut is just too sweet and solid to perform the magic that creates this effect. Curried pumpkin stew is an antidote to cold and dark winter weather, warming both in degrees Celsius and Scoville heat units.