Thursday, February 28, 2013

Moscato Poached Pears with Pineapple

Plate of one half two kinds of pears with sauce and pineapple
Bosc (lower) and D'Anjou Poached Pears with Pineapple

Recipe by Robin

I don’t know about you, but  every winter I start dreaming about the tropics. Imagining abandoning my shoes, socks, jeans, and jacket (but not my hat) to walk carefree on some secluded beach. Donning flip-flops—known as slippers in my favorite locales—and heading over to the local farmers’ market to check out what produce can be grown in red dirt with plenty of rain and sun. Flirting with strange fruits and their vendors, chatting with local craftspeople, and selecting the most luscious from a huge number of pineapples by their scent. Alas, a trip to Kauai isn’t in the budget at the moment, but a can of organic pineapple chunks can add a sun-kissed touch to winter pears here on the mainland, especially when combined with a sweet California wine.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Saffron Fish Stew

Bowl of Stew
Saffron Adds  Golden Magic to Broth & Potatoes

Recipe adapted from Recipes from the Root Cellar

Hot fish stews and chilly winter nights, a match made in heaven for seaside dwellers? I’ve been planning to make traditional Provincetown Fish Chowder all month, but got hung up on the salt pork. My grandmother always kept it on hand during New England winters. But where to find it in Santa Cruz these days? What is it, exactly, for that matter? Luckily, our local library houses a copy of the quintessential winter cookbook, Recipes from the Root Cellar: 270 Fresh Ways to Enjoy Winter Vegetables. In it, there’s an unusual fish stew recipe. No salt pork, but enough saffron threads to make a subtle yet exotic golden broth.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Golden Beet Borani

Mixing Wok'd Beets with Dressing

Recipe adapted from India Joze

Several years back my husband took some cooking classes from Jozseph Schultz, a local culinary hero who was, I believe, the first to introduce chai and chocolate truffles to Santa Cruz. Using a propane wok burner for extra-super-high heat, he demonstrated a variety of dishes to students, who followed along on Joze’s printed recipe handouts. And then there were the extras—side dishes that Jozseph made spontaneously with ingredients on hand. Students scribbled these down as best they could, and this recipe derives from one such un-quantified scribble. Jozseph is known for using lots of spices in his recipes, but this dish is simpler, perfect for busy days.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Shrimp Scampi with Mushrooms and Sundried Tomatoes

Plate of Shrimp Scampi
Scampi is Italian for Shrimp

Recipe by Robin

The readers have spoken! The photo of a mistake in my How to Tweak a Recipe post inspired more comments about how delicious the shrimp looks than the boo-boo with the salt. Shrimp is easy and fast to prepare, and almost everyone likes it. So I thought I’d share a recipe I made up a few years back when I lucked into a locally harvested shrimp windfall. I don’t prepare shrimp frequently because finding sustainable shrimp is challenging.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Brussels Sprouts Steamed with Dill

Plate of Brussels Sprouts
Quick and Easy

Recipe adapted from Hawaii Kai Cookbook

As Seasonal Eaters know, Brussels sprouts don’t grow during the same months that dill does. Hawaii Kai solves this problem neatly by steaming the sprouts with dried dill to infuse them with an unexpectedly summery flavor. Not quite as good as a mid-February week in Hawaii, but still a reminder that green things will grow again in the garden, and that they can be harvested and dried for winter days like today.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Bourbon Pecan Cake

Slice of cake with whipped cream
Whipped Cream Adds Extra Decadence

Recipe by Great Grandma Ellen

It’s Mardi Gras, AKA Fat Tuesday, the final day for pre-Lenten revelers to indulge in, among other naughty things, sweet pecan cakes laced with liquor. This cake is unlike anything you’ll find in a bakery. The recipe is at least 120 years old, passed down through the generations to my cousin Jon, originally from Shreveport, LA. He got it from his 90 year old mom Marjorie, and she in turn got it from her grandmother Ellen. Ellen used to soak the raisins in the bourbon to prevent the alcohol from cooking off during baking. Doubtlessly this sort of resourcefulness helped Ellen to live, as she did, to age 105.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Eggs Florentine or Eggs Benedict

Plate of Eggs Florentine with Orange Slices
Bright Winter Brunch or Supper

Recipe by Robin and the Boston Cooking School Cookbook

When I reported in our January menus post that January is National Egg Month, I should have “examined” my source more carefully. According to the American Egg Board, May is Egg Month. Nevertheless, I spent the month of January coming up with a recipe to honor the humble egg. The carrot soufflĂ© that sounded so good was an utter failure. Then I remembered the first fancy dish I ever made: Eggs Benedict. I’ve never been a ham fan, so I substitute spinach (officially called Eggs Florentine). I’ve included a ham option in my recipe. Key to a great Benedict (or Florentine) is perfect old school Hollandaise sauce. You’d never know that at certain restaurants, where they serve thin gray salty sauce, dyed-orange white sauce, or even melted Swiss cheese on Benedicts. That’s just wrong.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

February Veggies and Recipes

Frosty Rose
Winter Wonder

Midwinter and Time for Love

We passed mid-winter on Candlemas (AKA Groundhog Day) February 2, and days in the northern hemisphere are getting noticeably longer. Though there’s still time for some quiet wintery introspection, there’s no shortage of celebrations this month. Lunar (Chinese) New Year this Sunday, February 10 is followed by Mardi Gras on the 12th and Valentine’s Day on the 14th. And then (in the US) comes Presidents’ Day on 18th. And of course (again in the US) there was the Superbowl last weekend. Are these many February party-ops coincidental? Or are they the result of a collective cabin fever that everyone experiences at this time of year, inspiring us to get active, connect with others, and get a little crazy before we go a little crazy?