Mastering the Art of French Cooking

May 26, 2010 § 1 Comment

…well, we’re getting closer, anyway. Julia’s book has been a treasure trove of recipes for Panacea.  They need a little tweaking to suit our tastes, but over all – bravo!  That lady really knew what she was doing. We were very pleased with the Sauce Robert.  Sometimes we worry that recipes we test on our families won’t translate to larger batches, but this one did very easily.  We had to eat one chop in the kitchen (quality control), and  JM was cross with me for tossing the bone before it had been thoroughly picked clean.  When the cooks are fighting over the bone, that’s a good pork chop.  Or two immature cooks.  « Read the rest of this entry »

We’ve Returned From Marrakesh

May 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

A fabulous time was had by all.  We were indeed transported by the smells wafting through the kitchen on Monday.  Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg… wowza it smelled good.  The lamb tagine turned out well, I think. The meat was gorgeous, from Cattail Creek in Oregon.  We hope you enjoyed the tagine if it was your dinner last night!

Alongside the tagine was an Orange and Olive Salad.  We cut the orange into supremes (that’s fancy for “segments”), and look how pretty the leftover skins were:

I couldn’t throw away something so lovely, so I squeezed them to pulp and enjoyed an invigorating glass of fresh orange juice.  Ahhh.

PS: More About Fennel

May 18, 2010 § 1 Comment

I have very important news about wild fennel!  I’ve learned that there is an advantage to rampant fennel – fennel pollen.  I had never heard of fennel pollen as a culinary ingredient, but a quick trip to Google educated me.  In an article for Saveur magazine, Peggy Knickerbocker wrote, “If angels sprinkled a spice from their wings, this would be it.”  Well, that sounds good.  I still haven’t tasted it, but apparently the pollen has a very strong, distinctive flavor (intense fennel, I suppose).  I’ve read that you can sprinkle it on meat and fish – any place you want a flavor boost.  It is harvested from fennel flowers in full bloom, and it is very very expensive.  You need a lot of fennel flowers to produce a usable amount of pollen.  I don’t regret axing most of the fennel plants in my flower bed – they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.  But maybe next year I’ll set a spot aside for the fennel to roam free.

Fennel: Friend or Foe?

May 15, 2010 § 2 Comments

The garden behind the kitchen we use on Mondays has become overrun by fennel.  This weekend in my garden at home I pulled up fennel with roots at long as my four year-old. I once looked kindly upon this herb (or is it a vegetable?).  Sure, it wasn’t invited, but it brought something to the party.  Feathery fronds, a lovely scent when I picked it… But lately I’ve noticed fennel really oversteps it’s boundaries.  It’s downright invasive.  Have some class, fennel.  This wild stuff doesn’t even seem to have a bulb.  What’s up with that?  It barely makes a dent in fennel population control, but I have found a delicious pasta recipe that uses young fennel fronds.  I’m making the most of fennel, fennel everywhere.

This pasta recipe is from Alice Waters – it is in her Vegetables book.  It’s very simple and straightforward and deeeelicious.  You blanch a few handfuls fennel fronds, then dice them.   I use the same water to boil the pasta – since it’s already hot, and I’m impatient.  Mince a few anchovy fillets and a couple of garlic cloves – as much or as little suits your taste.  I love a lot of each.  In a sautee pan warm 3/4 C extra virgin olive oil over medium-low heat and cook the anchovies and garlic gently – don’t let the garlic brown.  After a few minutes add the fennel and cooked pasta and toss everything to coat it in oil.  Add a bit of ground pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.  I like to top the pasta with toasted breadcrumbs –  they add a very nice texture.  My finicky four year-old loves this dish, and so do I.  That’s a wonder.

Use Your Tools

May 11, 2010 § 3 Comments

I hope you all enjoyed the macaroni and cheese as much as I did. JM made this dish single-handedly.  I felt like a customer –  unwrapping the box, pre-heating the oven, sprinkling on the cheesy breadcrumbs and waiting for them to brown.  It smelled amazing and tasted just as good.  JM spent Monday making bechamel sauce using the 9lbs of cheese that I had grated on Sunday.  Which brings me to an important topic: acquainting ones self with kitchen tools. « Read the rest of this entry »

How Does My Garden Grow? Barely.

May 7, 2010 § Leave a comment

At the very first promise of spring (always deceptively early in Seattle) I decided that I would grow a vegetable garden from seed.  I went to City People’s with my daughter and we bought seeds and and a seed starter kit.  I was infused with enthusiasm and certainty that by June our garden beds would be lush with edibles.  The seeds sprouted very quickly – we were thrilled!  Then they grew and grew… and grew – leggy and lean and not right at all.  It became clear that these little sprouts would never mature into robust broccoli, kale, or lettuce plants.  My dreams of growing our own food in the backyard were dashed.  There would be no cupcake bushes.  « Read the rest of this entry »

Wicked Good.

May 4, 2010 § Leave a comment

The Wicked Good Chicken lived up to it’s name, I think.  The kitchen smelled great – mustard, wine, shallots, butter, butter, and butter browning on the stove.  We could have been in Provence.  Another transporting moment: when JM’s husband, John, swooped in and served us lunch al fresco, in the parking lot.  The shared bottle of pink wine and the sunshine refreshed us for the second half of our day.  Vive La Panacea!!  « Read the rest of this entry »

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