How often must I remind myself to not be cocky? Here’s how my personality rolls:
1. Bad stuff happens.
2. Make a plan. Solve that stuff.
3. Move on.
It’s my 1-2-3 approach to Life. Unfortunately it’s never worked particularly as I’d hoped. It’s not the Black and White that’s the problem, there’s all that messy Gray stepping in to clog the process.
Q: Can you identify this darling bird? A: It’s a Black-billed Magpie, a youngster.
Which brings me to June. Michael died three years ago this Sunday, June 28th. Since then, we will all agree, I’ve woven together a wonderful life. Many people who lose spouses, loved ones or partners are not able to do that. For me, really bad stuff happened ending in a sad, unsolvable result. Truthfully, I was then so weary of being brave, part of me wanted to give up. But after my family and countless friends had huddled up and lent support for ten lengthy years, I felt an obligation to find my own Way.
Pistachio Dukka, a traditional Egyptian combination of nuts, seeds and spices, is served with rustic bread and olive oil.
Which brings me to this pesky month of June. In the past three years I’ve begun to happily handle his birthdays, our anniversaries (29) and special occasions. Each of those carry joyful memories that only make me smile. So I do. June 28th, not so easy. I’ve been unable to pull up anything to cause me comfort. Regrettably it’s always a time I feel unsettled and a bubble-off. Hate that.
A bull moose, recently seen at a nearby perserve. Note the family in the nearby pond. Tom Bernard iPhoto
I charged into this month brimming with confidence, determined not to cause my friends or family angst. No whining. This was my pain to conquer. Or, not. Mother Nature and I would be best friends. That’s where I could expend my energy. There was still food to be made and blog posts to be written. I vowed to do it all with a smile on my face, a joyful heart and eight hours of sleep every night. (You jest. It’s important, my friends.) Realizing it’s the anticipation more than the day itself that seems bothersome, I soldiered forth.
New Potato Salad “Tartare” with “soft” hard-boiled eggs, capers, gherkins and fresh herbs.
So, how’d I do. About 65%. Grade B-minus. Let’s call that a win. To honor Michael and for our Cottage Cooking Club this month, I made four mouth-watering recipes from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg cookbook. Michael would consider this a dubious tribute. He lived happily on meat, potatoes, Oreos and Hagen-dazs. That I am cooking through Hugh’s book with the Cottage Cooking Club, a group of international food bloggers, would give him pause.
Mama Bluebird is patiently awaiting birth. She was calm during a weekly bluebird box check.
This month I made Tomatoes with Herbs and Goat Cheese, Quick Couscous Salad with Peppers and Feta, New Potato Salad Tartare and Pistachio Dukka. As usual with Hugh’s recipes, all were unique and delicious. I’ve posted the dukkah recipe below and will send others upon request.
Quick Couscous Salad with Peppers and Feta is perfect to have for lunch, take on a picnic, or share at a potluck supper.
For lunch, I shared the tomato and new potato salads with The Gant’s front office staff. I received two complaints, “not enough” and “day off”. Taken as compliments. The couscous salad traveled to the authors’ picnic potluck on the opening evening of Aspen Summer Words 2015 festival. Not one to name drop, I might mention authors Richard Russo and Andre Dubus both enjoyed my salad. Empty plates. Pistachio Dukka, a twist on the traditional Egyptian combo of nuts, seeds and spices, is a tasty blockbuster and will be my summer hostess gift.
Tomatoes with Herbs and Goat Cheese, a quick and easy salad to be served with cherry, grape, or various heritage tomatoes.
Enjoy these flavorful, healthy dishes and also Mother Nature’s healing photo contributions to my June life. Hooray and Welcome, July!
My first patrol of the 2015 season. (For those of you who’ve remarked you’d pay big money to see me in my USFS uniform, you have my address. )
PISTACHIO DUKKA by Hugh-Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage Veg
1 cup shelled, unsalted pistachios
cumin seeds, 1 tbsp
coriander seeds, 1 tbsp
sesame seeds, 3 tbsp
dried chilli flakes, 1 tsp
fresh mint leaves, a small handful (A MUST!)
flaky sea salt, 1 tsp (I used Maldon)
bread and olive oil, to serve
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Scatter the pistachios on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 5 minutes until they are just starting to turn golden. Chop coarsely
3. Dry-fry the cumin and coriander seeds in a frying pan over medium-heat until they release their aroma (about a minute). Transfer to a mini-food processor or mortar and mix together until broken up but not fine. Lightly toast sesame seeds for another minute.
4. Mix everything together. Add chile flakes, chopped mint and salt.
5. Taste to see if mixture needs more salt before serving with crusty artisan bread and olive oil, for dipping.
The dukka will keep for two weeks at room temperature in a screw-top jar. Also try scattering it over grilled veggies, a simple lettuce salad or on “soft hard-boiled” eggs.
Swallows sometimes “borrow” the bluebird boxes to make their own beautiful nests.
The Cottage Cooking Clubis an international online cooking group cooking and learning our way through Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg cookbook. The Club, led by The Kitchen Lioness, is ‘meant to be a project aimed at incorporating more vegetable dishes into our everyday cooking, learning about less known, forgotten or heritage vegetables, trying out new ways to prepare tasty and healthy dishes, and sharing them with family and friends.’
This Great Blue Heron is more interested in an unsuspecting fish than in my couscous salad.
Our springtime weather, disconcerting as it may be, translates into lessened fire danger and a healthier forest. That’s why, here in the mountains, this is our weary mantra. It’s been a soggy, snowy, chilly April/May in the Rockies. Think mud. Memo to Denver, Las Vegas and L.A.:As agreed, we’re shipping you our precious water but could you use a little restraint, please?
This tiny White-Breasted Nuthatch and it’s mate are year-round residents in the old-growth cottonwood tree standing next to my balcony. Although nuthatches do know up from down, their preferred direction is climbing head-down.
This weather has dovetailed nicely into what I’ve chosen to make for this month’s Cottage Cooking Club. My food-blogging colleagues and I share inspired veggie dishes from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg cook book. My choices, Spinach, Penne and Cheese “Spoufflé” and Pearled Barley Broth, will tickle a bud or two. Guaranteed.
PEARLED BARLEY BROTH, really a substantial soup, is a winner from River Cottage Veg cookbook.
I’m also sharing with you a glimpse of this resort community as you’ve probably never seen it. This is always a time when tourists are few, Aspen is under construction and flora and fauna begin to whisper, “Hey, remember us? ”
You thought the view from my balcony was Aspen Mountain? Not.
When I hear the first wing buzz and sharp chirp of the Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, I hang up my feeders. This astounding creature, weighing about 13 oz., can enter a protective torpor, by slowing its heart rate and dropping its body temperature, if our weather is abnormally cold.
The beautiful Pasqueflower is a welcomed harbinger of spring.
The Downy woodpecker is our smallest, has a very short bill and was too busy to be bothered by yours truly.
The painters arrived at The Gant in early April and are still here because the weather has not cooperated with their time schedule. At one point, while painting my D-Building, they needed to cover my windows/doors and tape me into my condo. Let me just say, Man Caves are overrated.
Here’s a view down valley of Sopris Mountain from the top of Smuggler Mountain, a typical Aspen day this spring.
Our mule deer are molting and look a little scruffy right now.
Remember those baby goslings from a few posts ago? They are growing up.
Elk migration is taken very seriously in these mountains. Their pathways are protected by numerous signage and limited speeds. When I first returned here two years ago I payed a hefty fine for speeding during the migration season. Learned my lesson.
On Memorial Day the local military association remembered to also honor the 38 Civil War veterans laid to rest in the historic Ute Cemetery located in The Gant’s backyard.
A well-recognized rite of springtime is graduation. Having never attended an Aspen High School graduation, tomorrow I’ll be sitting front and center at the Aspen Music tent to watch young Cav O’Leary receive his diploma. It was a wonderful day for Michael and me when the Texas O’Leary family moved to Aspen and our neighborhood. Then I will be deadheading to Bishop, California, where, next week, Emma will be graduating from 8th grade. Her Mother and I, always quick with the tears, will be shedding a few. Emma will be mortified.
Cav O’Leary, Aspen High Graduation Class 2015
Emma, 8 years old, Black Mountain, Henderson, Nevada. (When Emma once visited me in Henderson, I “made her” hike up Black Mountain. It was high noon and in the 90s. I know, what was I thinking? Emma has never forgiven me, her parents were not happy and she has never visited me “alone” again. Lesson learned.)
Spinach, Penne & Cheese Spoufflé by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage Veg cookbook
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 bay leaf
1/2 onion finely cut
3 1/2 oz. penne or similar shaped pasta
A little canola or olive oil
9 oz. spinach
3 1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
6 1/2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
3 oz. mature Cheddar, finely grated
A little freshly grated nutmeg
3 large eggs, separated, plus 1 extra egg white
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and put a baking sheet in to heat up. Liberally butter a 6-cup soufflé dish. TIP: I halved the recipe and used a smaller dish.
2. Put the milk, bay leaf, onion and peppercorns into a small saucepan, bring to just below a simmer, turn off the heat and leave to infuse.
3. Bring a pan of well-salted water to boil. Add the penne to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain well and add a bit of oil to stop sticking together.
4. Cook the spinach, with just the water clinging to it after washing, in a large covered pan over a medium heat until wilted – just a few minutes. When cool enough to handle, squeeze out the liquid with your hands, then roughly chop the spinach. TIP: I used chopped, frozen spinach.
5. Re-heat the infused milk, then strain. Heat the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat, stir in the flour to form a roux (paste) and cook for a few minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the milk slowly to the roux and keep stirring until you have a thick béchamel sauce.
6. Remove from the heat. Stir in the cheese, nutmeg, chopped spinach, and some salt and pepper. Beat in the egg yolks, then fold in the cooked penne.
7. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites to firm peaks. Stir a spoonful into the Bechamél Sauce mixture to loosen it and then fold in the rest. Fold into the buttered dish and place on the hot baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until well risen and golden. TIP: Top with sour cream, yogurt or crème fraîche sprinkled with nutmeg and serve immediately.
If you wish the recipe for Pearled Barley Broth (really a substantial soup), just ask. The Cottage Cooking Club is an international online cooking group cooking and learning our way through Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s “River Cottage Veg“ cookbook. The Club, led by The Kitchen Lioness, is ‘meant to be a project aimed at incorporating more vegetable dishes into our everyday cooking, learning about less known, forgotten or heritage vegetables,trying out new ways to prepare tasty and healthy dishes, and sharing them with family and friends.’
Upside-down Onion Tart laced with Balsamic Vinegar,
Not surprisingly, I’m more about multitasking than meditation and mindfulness. No one defines me as serene or tranquil. In my next life, maybe. While I’ve dabbled with yoga throughout my adult life, that’s not been successful. Thirty-seven minutes into an hour session, I’d be in Downward Facing Dog mentally making my grocery list. By Warrior Pose I’d remembered two crucial phone calls to be made. Fifty-five minutes into the session when everyone is lying quietly, getting centered for the day, I’m rolling up my mat and creeping out of the room.
This tart is a ‘rather stylish and very tasty’ homage to the classic French tarte tatin. Fun to make.
I can finally announce, however, this was a major breakthrough month for yours truly. Let the trumpets blare. How many of those does one have in a lifetime? Is it time to make one of your own?
After tenderizing and carmelizing the onions/balsamic vinegar on the stovetop, lay the disk on top and pop into the oven for the magic to happen.
Since my return to Aspen, I’ve watched my friend, Judy, who lets nothing stand between her and three weekly yoga sessions. However it was my friend, Kathryn, another yoga groupie and new Lights on Bright follower, who inspired me to dig out my old mat. “You know, Mary,” she said, ”every weekday morning, except Friday, I have yoga to look forward to. Now, on Friday mornings, I have Lights on Bright. It’s perfect.”
Pasta with new potatoes, green beans, and pesto, served steaming hot or room temperature.
Red Cabbage, Parsnip, Orange and Dates Salad has Zing – that’s the perfect word. The orange’s juice provides the dressing.
Readers, you know I’m a sucker for praise. This yoga business was worth another shot. Long story short……3 mornings a week, M-W-Sat, 90-minute sessions, (repeat, 90-minute sessions), all month, without fail. Our teacher, Anne, is a flat-out miracle worker. She begins each class (it’s 7am, after all) with a short story. Last Monday Ann talked about Thoreau and Emerson’s famous conversation about Simplicity. Do you remember it? Thoreau was commenting to Emerson about the need to ‘simplify, simplify.‘ To which Emerson responded, “One “simplify” would have sufficed.”
Cannellini Bean Hummus topped with Olive Oil infused with Smoked Paprika
Cannellini Bean Hummus, a spicy and flavorful alternative to your regular dip or more-caloric sandwich spread.
While being amused by Emerson’s cleverness, it also occurred to me why I am so enamored with “River Cottage Veg, 200 inspired vegetable recipes” cookbook. Every month our virtual Cottage Cooking Club makes several of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s delicious recipes which are the very essence of simplicity. This month I’ve chosen a quickly made and tasty quartet: Red Cabbage, Parsnip, Orange & Dates salad; Upside-down Onion Tart; Pasta with New Potatoes, Green Beans & Pesto; and Cannellini Bean Hummus with my Baked Tostadas leftovers suggestion. Each recipe is delightful, simple and party or family fare.
Lunch – Baked Tostadas: Flour Tortilla, hummus spread, sliced tomatoes, chopped herbs. Ready for a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes.
Baked Tostadas: Flour tortilla, hummus spread, roasted red-pepper slices and leftover carmelized onions from my last piece of onion tart. Just pulled from the oven – it’s lunch.
Enjoy this delicious food through photos, each dish special in its own way. I posted the savory/sweet Onion Tart Recipe below. If you’d like other recipes, just ask. It’s a sure bet any of these dishes would make a tasty addition to your table.
UPSIDE-DOWN ONION TART WITH BALSAMIC VINEGAR by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
All-butter, ready-made puff pastry (I prefer the Dufour brand)
3 to 4 medium onions
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 1/8-inch thickness and cut out an 8-inch circle. Wrap the pastry disc and place it in the fridge.
3. Peel the onions and slice each one into 6 or 8 wedges, keeping them attached at the root end.
4. Heat the butter and oil in an 8-inch pan ovenproof frying pan over a medium heat. (I used a 9-inch cast iron skillet)
5. Add the onions, arranging them roughly in a pinwheel pattern.
6. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook for about 15–20 minutes, turning once or twice, until they are fairly tender, and starting to caramelize around the edges.
7. Trickle the balsamic vinegar over the onions and cook for a couple of minutes more, so the vinegar reduces a little. Remove from the heat and make sure the onions are fairly evenly spread around the pan.
8. Lay the pastry disc over the onions and put the pan into the oven.
Bake for 20 minutes, until the pastry is fully puffed up and golden.
9. Invert the tart on to a plate, so the sticky caramelized onions are facing up, on top of the crispy pastry. Sprinkle with minced fresh herbs and/or crumble over a favorite cheese, if desired. Serve with a green leafy salad.
River Cottage Veg, 200 inspired vegetable recipes, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
The Cottage Cooking Club is an international online cooking group cooking and learning our way through Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s “River Cottage Veg“ cookbook. The Club, led by Andrea,The Kitchen Lioness, is ‘meant to be a project aimed at incorporating more vegetable dishes into our everyday cooking, learning about less known, forgotten or heritage vegetables, trying out new ways to prepare tasty and healthy dishes, and sharing them with family and friends.’
Green Onion Galette, a quick supper of puff pastry, onions and Parmesan cheese.
It’s time for my Cottage Cooking Club wrap-up of five tasty vegetarian dishes. Every month I join other bloggers to feature recipes from award-winning food writer Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg cookbook. Realizing there isn’t much about beef, pork, poultry and seafood that I don’t relish, you may wonder Why Vegetarian? Why now?
As I’ve admitted, I was tossed into this vegetarian mumbo-jumbo by shame. Years ago, my dear vegetarian friend, Susan, brought her own meals to Hirsch dinner parties. I couldn’t be bothered. (Yes, I have groveled and apologized about that for 25 years.) Eventually I offered an elegant green salad and crusty bread to my veggie guests. Gradually I began to realize that this dietary option is not mumbo nor jumbo. It’s a legitimate choice.
For your left over puff pastry, Cheesy Peesy Puff Turnover, filled with peas (fresh or frozen) and grated cheese.
Cheesy Peasy Puff Turnover is folded to a triangular pocket. I served it with homemade Broccoli-Leek Soup.
Four years ago, my 9-year-old granddaughter announced she was a Vegetarian. Although I suggested to her Mother it was just a phase, how the hell was my darling sweet Emma going to get enough iron, zinc, Vitamin B-12 and calcium to grow and flourish. Where’s the protein? Would her friends think this strange? Would Melissa, her mother, have to make two different menus for their dinners now? Couldn’t her Mom and Dad just say, “No?” ( I don’t say these concerns were legitimate, I am just admitting having them.)
Emma (9) in 2011, the year she announced she was a Vegetarian. Clara (7) is on the right. Death Valley National Park
Fast forward four years. Emma is still a healthy young woman, about to enter high school, and, yes, a Vegetarian. (Grandmothers can be wrong.) Before her family’s recent visit, I called Emma and asked to interview her about her vegetarian lifestyle. I’d never had a serious discussion with anyone about this rather important lifestyle choice. She agreed. We set a date, stipulating no Mom, no Sister, listening in. (They’d already asked.) Briefly, this is the very enlightening result.
Honey-roasted Cherry Tomatoes, an easy topping to make and delicious on risotto and grilled or roasted vegetables.
Grandma: Emma, I’ve heard various rumors but will you tell me why you chose to be a vegetarian?
Emma: You remember we went to Hawaii when I was 9, right?” she asked. (I nodded affirmatively.) “Our family went spearfishing. Dad caught a fish. When the boat people pulled it in, it wasn’t dead. They just whacked and whacked it on the head to kill it.” (Emma demonstrates the whacking technique.)
Grandma: What did you do?
Emma: Clara (7) and I started screaming and crying. Mom took us down into the cabin until the trip was over. Then, later that night we went to a Luau where they were roasting a pig. It just went round and round on the spit all night. I got sick.
That’s the night Emma made her announcement.
I piled my Honey-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes on toasted Artisan bread with Maldon Sea Salt flakes sprinkled on top.
Grandma: What did your Mom say?
Emma: She said okay. But right from the beginning she made three rules: [Readers, I know. I know. Pot. Kettle. Black.)
1) We went to the library, checked out books about food, proteins, vegetarian stuff. I had to read them and any books she gave me on the subject.
2) I was responsible for taking vitamins every morning, especially B vitamins;
3) When I am around other kids who are eating hamburgers, stuff like that, I can’t say, “Gross!” or “Ooh.” I must be polite.
My health concerns were proven unnecessary. The Places lead an outdoor lifestyle. This Summer Emma and her Dad took a 4-day Hiking trip over Paiute Pass ((11,423-ft). Emma carried a 24-pound pack.
Grandma: Do you ever do that?
Emma: Of course not, Grandma, 90% of the kids at my school are vegetarian. (eye roll and sigh)
Stir-fried Sesame Cauliflower, a strongly seasoned side dish with chile, garlic and ginger.
The kicker here is this. Our girls go to a Seven Day Adventist private school. One of the Adventist beliefs and practices is a vegetarian lifestyle. Since they have attended this school since preschool, this was a comfortable choice for Emma.
In California they also live near Loma Linda populated by a high concentration of Seventh-day Adventist. It is one of five places in the world identified as Blue Zone Areas. These are the 5 sites where people are particularly healthy and live the longest. The other four Blue Zones Areas are Karia, Greece; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Okinawa, Japan; and Sardinia, Italy.
I wish this Sesame Cauliflower photographed better because it is tasty. I served it as a side straight from the pan but, with rice or noodles, it’s supper.
Grandma: I know you make your school lunch. What’s in it?
Emma:Vegetables and Fruit, Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Nuts, Tofu, Salads, Protein Bars, Leftovers, Salads and Yogurt for dessert. I love yogurt.
Emma, this Winter at Hearst Castle, just before our interview. She looks pretty healthy, huh?
Grandma: Do you ever get hungry?
Emma:No, Grandma. (another eye roll and sign)
Roasted Parsnip Chips with shallots.
Grandma:Tell me your favorite foods.
Emma:Pad Thai, Veggie Burgers, Tofu with various seasonings, Apples, Raspberries, Mushrooms and Caesar Salad.
These are ‘crisp and carmelized at the thin ends, chewy in the middle, tender and creamy at the fat ends,’ Best served hot, just out of the oven.
Grandma:Do you think you’ll always lead a Vegetarian lifestyle?
Emma:Yep, Grandma, I do.
There are many things I always want to do with my granddaughters but never in a million years did I think I would be exchanging vegetarian recipes and ideas with one of them. Every day of Life, a learning experience!
We are not allowed to print any of Hugh’s recipes but if you would like to learn how to make any of these delicious recipes, e-mail me. I’ll send them.
We call them burritos. The Brits say they’re foldovers. I just know this recipe, from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg cookbook, is delicious.
Let’s talk dirt? You know, that soil hugging a carrot just pulled from the garden. The stuff hiding in the crevices of leafy Red Romaine lettuce. And don’t forget the leek. Those babies pride themselves on clinging to the sandy soil they love. Not to mention, so I won’t, a radish bunch. For the past two weeks, that’s been my #1 dilemma. (The world should be so lucky, right?)
The solution: Oxo Good Grips Flexible Vegetable Brush. $4.99. Sold everywhere. Buy two.
My first bounty from Talley Farms’ Fresh Harvest produce box.
For several months I’ve been cooking with other bloggers from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s “River Cottage Veg, 200 inspired vegetable recipes.” Hugh’s a Brit, an award-winning food writer who has garnered a huge following from his popular BBC River Cottage TV series/books. Touted as a ‘pioneering champion of sustainable foods,’ he’s my idea of a celebrity chef.
Fresh squeezed orange juice is a morning treat.
Recently Andrea, who created our group and blogs as The Kitchen Lioness, asked us to not only cook from Hugh’s book but also highlight our sources. “One of the express goals of the members of The Cottage Cooking Club,” she explains, “is to make an effort to use as much local, regional, organic and also seasonal produce as is reasonably possible. Do you know and make an effort to understand where some of the food that you buy comes from?”
Week #2’s motherlode.
My answer was, “Uh, no, Andrea, not really.”
My dinner’s foldover, topped with sour cream, red onions and avocados, gets ready for its fold. (Notice my new Tom’s shoes? Sorta wanted to show them to you.)
For me, another you-talk-the-talk now, walk-the-walk moment. That’s why I recently joined Talley Farm’s Fresh Harvest produce box program. TFs, founded in 1948 by Oliver Talley, is based in the Arroyo Grande Valley on California’s Central Coast. Every week a $26 box, containing anywhere from 9-12 different fruits and vegetables, is delivered for me to my Cambria pick-up site. (In March I will receive the $19 Singles Boxes with fewer products.)
After I sliced the steamed artichoke in two, I needed to scrape out the choke (the fuzzy center.)
TF’s also supports each box with an informational website telling me how to store, maintain and cook with each product. They send me a head-up list so I have advance notice of each box’s contents. That’s when I pull out my River Cottage Veg cookbook and do menu planning. No matter the veggie, Hugh’s book offers me simple options for its use. Besides being a nutritious and delicious adventure, it’s great fun.
I mixed together 2 sliced garlic cloves, 1 Tbs, lemon juice, 1/2 tsp of salt and pepper and 2 TBS olive oil. After brushing the entire artichoke halves with the mix, I grilled them for 6 minutes, 3 minutes for each side. No condiments needed for serving…so good.
This coming week I look forward to receiving more user-friendly local foodstuffs. My family was here when I picked up my first box so the fresh food was gobbled up. Using the black kale, Melissa, the mom, made kale chips. With the bags of oranges, Clara, 11, and I enjoyed freshly-squeezed orange juice each morning. We steamed the three artichokes and devoured two immediately. I grilled the leftover one for lunch this week. Unfortunately Emma, 13, didn’t share many blueberries. With the broccoli and leeks, I made soup. The spinach? Nothing beats Dorie Greenspan’s lemon steamed spinach. I claimed most of the carrots, radishes and cauliflower. With the lettuce, Melissa made salads, even for breakfast. Voila.
Last week I visited the Pacific Wildlife Center in Morro Bay, a site opened in 2007, all donor-financed and opened 365 days a year to all injured wildlife except grown bears. Last year they cared for 2014 reptiles, mammals and birds. Recovering here are a northern California brown pelican, Heermann’s Gull and a Royal Tern.
For this month’s recipe from River Cottage Veg I substituted leeks from TF’s for the onion. The recipe, Refried Beans Foldover, raises the bar on refried beans. I was put off by the refried beans moniker but charmed that the Brits call burritos, foldovers, so I soldiered on. Readers, this is an example of what an onion (I used leeks), a tomato and a can of cannellini beans, mixed together with the right seasonings, can create. Savory. Nutritious. Satisfying. Filling. Delicious. Company-worthy. And, pretty. Since the recipe is already blogosphere material, I may share it with you.
Refried Beans Foldover
REFRIED BEANS FOLDOVER by Hugh Fearnley-Whitingstall, River Cottage Veg
2 Tbs canola or olive oil
1 small onion or 2 leeks, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 fresh red chile, seeded and chopped
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 large or 2 medium tomatoes
1 can (14-ounce) of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 to 1/2 tsp hot smoked paprika or cayenne pepper
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 to 3 Tbs Sour Cream or Yogurt (I added Penzey’s Chip & Dip Seasoning)
Soft flatbreads, Naan, flour tortillas or tortillas chips
Grated cheddar or hard goat cheese
Sliced or Diced Avocado
Thinly Sliced Red Onion
1. Sauté the sliced onion or leek in a frying pan with medium-heat for about 10 minutes until soft. Add the garlic, chile and oregano, if using it, for the last minute or two.
2. Halve the tomato(es), grate the flesh directly into the pan. Discard the skins. Let the mixture bubble and reduce for a few minutes before adding the beans.
3. Add the beans and cook gently while crushing them with a fork to make a coarse purée. Season well with salt and pepper. Add cayenne or paprika for more heat.
4. Lay a healthy tablespoonful of the mixture on the flatbread. Top with a generous dollop of sour cream or yogurt before adding any extras you (or, your guests) choose.
5. Fold and eat.
Note: After making this mixture and without any of the toppings, I stood at my stove, fork in hand, and ate lunch. I waited to make the foldover until dinnertime. I am not particularly proud of that, just sayin’.
Cottage Cooking Clubis an international group of bloggers which is cooking its way through “River Cottage Veg, 200 inspired vegetable recipes” by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. If you’d like to join CCC or see what my colleagues cooked this month, go here.
Portobellos, my fungi choice for Big Baked Mushrooms
A talented, rather shy, German food blogger named Andrea Mohr, aka The Kitchen Lioness, is inspiring an international array of cooks (including this Iowa-born-and-bred woman) to veg-ify their palates. Every month she tosses ten recipes from Hugh Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg on the table and says, make your picks. At the end of that month, we post about our choices on a link, The Cottage Cooking Club. Oh, forgot to mention, she cooks all ten.
Dot these big guys with butter, garlic and S&P before cooking them in a 375 degrees oven for 15 minutes,
Of the many food bloggers I admire and aspire to becoming, Andrea rises to the top. Although I’ve never possessed an Envy chromosome, there is much to learn from The Lioness. She not only serves delicious and beautifully plated food to her family of six, but her food staging and photographs are exquisite. After reading her posted results (all ten) and then glancing back at mine (my two, maybe three choices), I’m already thinking, “How did she pull that off?”“Why didn’t I think of that?” and “Back to the cutting board, Mary.”
Then, again, what does Envy feel like?
If you wish to add cheese to the baked mushrooms, just sprinkle on grated cheese and return to the oven for another 5 minutes.
Today’s Post is more photo album than commentary. You can make Whittingstall’s recipes primarily from these pictures and my short explanations. While I do love cooking from Yotam Ottolenghi’s and Deborah Madison’s vegetarian cookbooks, their recipes are often involved, complicated and require prep, prep, prep. With Whittingstall, you receive get-those-veggies-on-the-table fare.
Obviously, I liked.
You’ll like my choices this month: Big Baked Mushrooms, Artichoke & White Bean Dip and Curried Bubble & Squeak (Heck, I first thought Bubble & Squeak was a dance.). Bonus Time: Hugh showed me the path to poached eggs perfection. I share.
I added the leftover Portobello to last week-end’s pizza.
I used Portobello mushrooms for my BIG BAKED MUSHROOMS entrée although any sized fungi will work. As the saying goes, choose your poison. Oops, perhaps not a good word choice when speaking about mushrooms. This is delicious without the added cheese but scrumptious with it. Your calorie preference. Since I wasn’t serving to guests, I left some stem intact.
I prefer a coarse purée but it’s the cook’s choice.
ARTICHOKE & WHITE BEAN DIP, Hugh explains is ‘a rich, creamy savory dip, wonderful with crudities, dolloped onto warm flat bread and works well served on crisp lettuce as a salad.’ To me this is what you hurriedly make when hummus or store-bought dips aren’t nearby. Serve warm or cold with roasted walnuts scattered on top.
Grab a jar of marinated artichoke hearts and a can of cannellini beans. Drain and coarsely chop the hearts. Drain and rinse the beans. Sauté an onion and garlic in olive oil before adding them and oregano to the pan. Pour these heated ingredients into a processor with lemon juice, chili flakes and enough yogurt for a chunky puree. Do your salt/pepper jig before adding that leftover artichoke marinated oil for any needed texture.
Curried Bubble and Squeak, adding spice to this English classic
BUBBLE & SQUEAK is a classic English dish first created in 1806 by thrift conscious Maria Rundell. It’s perfect for leftover cooked veggies and potatoes and was extremely popular in World War II during rationing and food scarcity. To me, it’s a frittata cloaked in a quirky name. During the cooking process this recipe is supposed to make bubbling and squeaking sounds. Thus the name. Not a peep out of mine.
Whittingstall holds the eggs but later adds a poached topping. He throws a healthy dollop of curry powder into the sautéed onion and garlic before adding the cooked potatoes and leftover vegetables which have now been shredded. After seasoning to taste and, if desired, add a poached egg.
Take a few minutes to admire my poached egg.
Now, Readers, in your Life have you ever seen such a perfectly poached egg? Modestly speaking, that’s an Alice-Waters-eat-your-heart-out poached egg. Here’s the tip. Carefully break an egg into a small bowl. Bring 2” of water to a rolling boil. At that point ‘stir it fast in one direction with a wooden spoon to create a vortex or whirlpool on the center.’ I admit hearing bubbling and squeaking during this process. But, I digress. When you see a distinct vortex, pull the spoon out and slide the egg into the center. Turn off the heat, lid the pan, and leave for exactly 2 1/2 minutes. Then, using a slotted spoon, carefully scoop up the egg, drain any excess drips and serve.