Monday, April 12, 2010

more wafflized polenta

I try to eat locally and seasonally, I really do... but the thing is I love avocados. I mean I LOVE them. (Yes, I would like to marry them.) And there is no avocado season in maryland. But I eat them anyway. There used to be a restaurant over by Hopkins called the Carlyle Club that my office would order lunch from all time. It was kind of our own version of the soup nazi-- only they were the bread nazis. We would all get salads, in part because of the amazing herby, garlickly flatbread that came with them. We would often ask for extra bread. Apparently this angered the Carlyle Club proprietors because they started withholding said bread-- which led to several throwdowns between J, the office lunch organizer, and the restaurant staff. Not only did they stop giving us our usual bread, but they refused to let us pay extra for more bread. It wasn't pretty. J did always manage to get us our bread after a long fight somehow though. Anyway the reason for this long rambling story is that I always used to get the avocado salad from the Carlyle Club. It was basically a whole cut up avocado, some onions and I think corn in a vaguely middle eastern-ish vinaigrette. (It was a Lebanese restaurant) So for my second polenta waffle I made an homage to that salad with avocado, red onion, chives and my usual vinaigrette. It was perfect. And I didn't have to fight for my bread. The waffle-polenta was even better I think.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Yum. I am getting hungry just looking at this again. It all began when I stumbled upon the wafflizer blog-- I have always made weird waffles (carrot, pumpkin, chicken/waffles etc.) but I had never thought to wafflize other things before. Also I like saying wafflize. So I saw this recipe for waffle polenta and thought it was pretty brilliant. Once polenta (or grits) go in the fridge they get a sort of rubbery texture that is never quite the same again. So I happened to have some rubbery polenta in my fridge whilst reading about waffled polenta and knew that I needed to try it out immediately. It worked beautifully- they got all crispy and caramelized and waffle shaped (of course...) and most importantly, tasty again. I found that it was best to grease the waffle iron liberally and let it do it's thing until it was well browned. Opening the waffle maker prematurely didn't work out so well. I topped mine with some sauteed swiss chard, a fried egg, cheese and bacon from the co-op. It was so good that I literally started eating it while I was still taking pictures. Highly recommend the wafflizing of non- waffle things.

fennel rings & 3 philosophers

I went to the beer bourbon & bbq festival this weekend. It was just as awesome as it sounds. Oddly while I had lots of good bourbon the thing that most impressed me was a beer. Three Philosophers. I wasn't even really drinking any of the beer that night in order to save room for bourbon... and then all of a sudden at the very end of the night my friend insisted that I try a beer that he was drinking. Even after god knows how much bourbon I was impressed. We have since referred to it as the best beer ever. It's reallly good. It's belgian style, but brewed in upstate new york and a strange combination of things that sound weird, but somehow really work. So I decided that I needed some snacks to go with my beer and stumbled upon a recipe for fennel rings-- which seemed like one of the best ideas ever. I didn't actually use said recipe- I just made a standard beer batter (with natty boh- no way I was wasting the best beer ever) It's about 1.5 or 2 cups of flour, salt, pepper, paprika and a can of boh. Just slice the fennel bulb and push out the core- some of the pieces will stay in rings and some of them will be more like half moons. They will both be tasty. Dust lightly with flour and then fry until golden brown. They are so much better than onion rings and they go perfectly with the best beer ever.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

old wood planter

I have been meaning to finish this for years... literally. I finally did because the cheap pressboard that I had used "temporarily" began to disintegrate. I had been collecting old doors for some time-- which I dismantle to obtain this wood. I love the way it sort of looks like a boat. You also can't really tell from the angle of the picture, but the ledge it's on is a steep slope and the planter is level. There is way more stuff growing in there since I took this picture- I'll re-photograph when it's in full bloom. On a related note my reclaimed wood cat table showed up all over the web and on some of my favorite blogs... thanks guys!

moderncat, re-nest, ny daily news... and a few others!

Monday, April 5, 2010

parsnip gnocchi

There have been parsnips for a couple of weeks now from the co-op and I have gotten tired of roasting them. I decided instead to make gnocchi. I used both parsnip and ricotta as I didn't really have enough to do an all parsnip gnocchi. They were tasty although I would like to try them with just the parsnip next time. I didn't really use a recipe just took roasted parsnip puree, ricotta, flour and eggs and started making gnocchi. It's one of those things that seems harder than it is. Making the little indents on them works better the less you think about it I swear.

easter eggs

I still dye easter eggs. Yes I am in my 30's. No I don't have kids. I just like it ok? I never get around to it until easter day and my mom and brother join in as well. Although I think they probably just do it because I make them. I have been wanting to do natural dyes for some time and the first picture is the result. I think they look awesome, but mom and bro were not excited about them. They require way more time in the dye than paas and they weren't having it. I brought some food pens to distract them in the meantime and I made a cat egg. I love it. Yes it's weird. But it's cute! It has drawings of all four of my cats. Yes four. I have four cats and no kids. Call me a cat lady. The other thing I love about easter eggs is egg salad. God I love egg salad. And it's somehow even better with the weird blue and green stained bits from the easter eggs. I have taken to making mine with mostly greek yogurt and just a tiny bit of mayo-- not really for health reasons just because I like it better. It's not as heavy. I also always add finely minced red onion and chives. I put this one on my egg bread to round out my easter theme.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

happy easter

Here's hoping the easter bunny doesn't bring you any white chocolate. I made beet dyed eggs and braided egg bread-- not sure why, but I am a sucker for a loaf of bread with eggs in it.

Friday, April 2, 2010

cocktails alfresco

Do you ever have those perfect moments? You know that even as they are happening seem like some kind of perfect moment out of a movie? And don't mean romantic really-- just perfect and simple. Actually the more I think about it... the more I realize that nearly all of mine took place in Italy... maybe I am just biased. One of my fondest was when I last went to Praiano (2? 3? years ago?) We wound our way through the maze of little streets along the sheer cliff face down to the ocean and then spent the afternoon sunning ourselves on the beach. That wasn't it though... then we went to a little cafe on overlooking the water and shared a bottle of white wine, it was april and perfectly warm without being overwhelming and the waiter brought us a little dish of croutons. (Most likely because he didn't want the silly american girls getting sloppy... but still) The were very simple-- just good italian bread toasted in olive oil with a little salt. The wine was a grecco di tufo. There were rosemary plants lining the terrace warm and fragrant from the sun. We laid out in our deck chairs and drank wine and ate croutons and inhaled sun and rosemary. It was perfect. I know I am getting a bit flowery here, but it was. Today was the first perfect warm day of spring in Bmore. As I type this I am lounging on the deck with a cat periodically pouncing on me with a glass of grecco di tufo and a plate of roasted fingerling potatoes and rosemary and it's almost as perfect. I added a goat cheese and garlic dip that is one of the only things that could make fingerling potatoes better in my opinion. And ice cream truck drove by playing some bizarre version of "it's a small world" to remind me that I am in fact in baltimore. Less flowery- no less delicious.

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes & Goat Cheese Dip

Got some beautiful fingerlings from the coop this week and try as I might to mix it up this is nearly always how I prepare them. They are like natures french fires. Just cut in half and roast. The dip came about after I saw a recipe on martha for fingerling potatoes and goat cheese fondue- hers was hot, mine is cold. I that both the dip and the potatoes are just as good room temperature it makes them a perfect food for picking at on a lazy spring evening with a glass of wine. I don't even remember what was in her's beyond goat cheese honestly. Mine uses a base of yogurt cheese- just yogurt that has been drained in cheesecloth overnight until it becomes the consistency of cream cheese with some herbs and garlic added.
for potatoes:
  • fingerling potatoes
  • garlic
  • coarse salt
  • rosemary
  • olive oil
for dip:
  • yogurt cheese (you could probably use greek yogurt instead if you didn't feel like waiting for it to drain)
  • goat cheese (left out on the counter for a bit to soften)
  • olive oil
  • pinch of lemon zest
  • salt
  • pepper
halve the potatoes and arrange in a single layer on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil. mince the garlic, salt and rosemary together on a cutting board and the sprinkle on potatoes. toss to coat. Roast in a 425 degree oven for about 40 minutes. (depending on the size of your potatoes) Meanwhile mix the yogurt cheese and goat cheese in a bowl, add enough olive oil to make a good dipping consistency. Add lemon zest (I like just a pinch) salt and pepper to taste. I do about yogurt and goat cheese about 60/40 but use whatever tastes good to you. Serve potatoes warm or room temperature with dip and a glass of white wine.

yogurt cheese

I am obsessed with yogurt cheese. This shouldn't be that much of a surprise since I have generally been obsessed with yogurt for a long time... but anyway. I got yogurt from the coop this week and I honestly wasn't that excited about it, because I really obsessively love greek yogurt. So I decided I would make it into yogurt cheese. All you do to make yogurt cheese is put some yogurt into a cheesecloth lined strainer and drain the fridge overnight. It comes out the consistency of cream cheese. I added chopped herbs, garlic, salt and pepper. I have been eating it on everything since then. It may even have made me reconsider my greek bias.