Overwhelmed by berries?

Gooseberry Galette

Wanted to try a new galette dough recipe from Good to the Grain but of the two in the book the first was too much of a pain in the butt at the time and the other seriously required the use of a stand mixer. I don’t own a stand mixer (I have my reasons). So I fell back on my old standby and used the Smitten Kitchen Zucchini Galette recipe. I decided to divide it into quarters as opposed to making one giant galette per usual to make personal sized galettes. Perfect to make a few more personal sized ones coming up since I suspect we’re about to experience The Great Summer Squash Explosion of 2011 in the next week or so.

The gooseberry part was borrowed from this Gooseberry Galette recipe and worked well. I enjoyed sprinkling my eggwashed crust with demerara sugar. Smelled great.

Seriously needed some plain old vanilla ice cream and I did not have any. P. did not seem to mind but I did.

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The Booze Project

It is possible that when friends come over for dinner that they’re not really interested in the food. We’ve stopped trying to buy family and most friends yearly holiday gifts. We don’t give fruitcake or brownies. At our house… it’s all booze.

The Booze Project started in my rental house in Bloomington, IN circa 2006 when inspired by some friends who had their own Booze Project going on big time. They were deep into it and recommended the book Cordials from Your Kitchen which I purchased and followed the recipes faithfully for awhile. Except I’m not good at following recipes unless they involve chemical reactions (baking!), and I like to play, and everything in the book was way too sweet.

I still have a few remaining sugary bottles from those years. Now a days I make things up as I go along, play with fruit as its in season. I used to mostly use Everclear as a base, but you can’t get the full-proof Everclear in Michigan so now I use vodka and have been enjoying making a lot of brandies.

Since the main goal of the Booze Project is to produce enough Booze to provide us with stress-free gifts for everyone come holiday time we not only put down booze all year long, but I also spend a great deal of time trawling local thrift shops for unique glass bottles to put the booze in. Friends save bottles and corks for me too. However, we tell everyone who receives booze that we expect their bottles back in order to refill them, even if it takes them 10yrs to drink their booze. This year we’re finally printing legitimate gift tags to go with the bottles and those tags will say as much!

A morning of bottling.

Were you to come to our house and look in our cupboard you would see an entire rack of science experiments. There are the old bottles, some dating back to 2006 from when I started playing with the booze (all sugary) and then there are the many mason jars full of booze currently being infused with fruit.

Here’s what’s on “tap” right now:

– Rhubarb

– Strawberry Brandy

– Strawberry Liquor

– Shiso Leaf Tequila

– Elderberry Liquor

– Sour Cherry Liquor

– Wild Mint and Honey Liquor

– Apple Brandy

I need to go pick some blackberries before it’s too late! Blackberry brandy is awesome!

Do people who come to our place think we’re alcoholics? We drink very little of the stuff ourselves.

Anniversary Dinner

Well, P. thinks this is our 2yr and I think it’s so much more than that. This was some time ago but picture rescuing took awhile.

Spruce Martinis

 

Spruce Tip Vodka made from the recipe in The Wild Table, a cookbook concentrating on gourmet applications for foraged foods. The cook is instructed to taste the young spring growth of many different spruce trees to pick their favorite and then the tree and vodka are whirred in a blender to a brilliant green. The mix sits in the fridge for a week being shaken, is strained, and is now kept in the freezer. We like it a lot, but no one else seems to. The trees were so interesting and different, I tasted many. I also have some olive oil to strain out and a spruce tip syrup. Truth be told I don’t love the syrup.

Buckwheat Wafers

 

Along with our martinis we enjoyed these Buckwheat Wafers from Good to the Grain, one of my new favorite cookbooks that concentrates on baking with unusual flours. Their nutty taste went very well with the resiny nose of the spruce vodka.

I’ve cooked several recipes from Good to the Grain this Spring/Summer and enjoyed them all.

 

Tagliatelle with shitakes, chick strips, and a ramp pesto alfredo sauce.

 

This last dish was a team effort. My partner P. typically takes on the role of sous chef except when it comes to pasta. He has latent skillz with the pasta-machine he gave me as a gift at the holidays. He should have given it to himself as a gift, cause his skillz are mad and I’m not really allowed to touch it. Instead I make a batch of dough in the morning and at dinnertime he runs it through the machine. Apparently this batch was a bit dry because he had a hard time with it. We wanted a wide thin noodle and we got a wide noodle that was thicker than we’d hoped for; I think I mixed in too much flour.

The sauce started out with a roux made with a whole wheat flour and butter. I always use whole wheat because I can’t really tell the difference and it always thickens up fine. I added heavy cream to turn it into a bechamel and then chickened out and ended up thinning the sauce the rest of the way with skim milk. Chicken! Just couldn’t do it. I whisked in a mixture of cheese to make a cheese sauce, some salt and pepper. Then I added the last of our ramp pesto from earlier in the spring and it turned slightly green and oniony.

In a saucepan shitakes and faux chick strips were sautéed in butter. Cooked pasta was added to the pan and everything was tossed with the sauce along with some extra cooking liquid from the pasta to give the dish some sheen.

 

We had no dessert because we were too full and we’d had the wafers with our drinks. We might have had a few after dinner too.

 

I have no freaking idea why anyone makes mac and cheese from a box, making cheese sauce is so fucking easy! EASY! I usually do it in a little old saucepan on our smallest burner. You have to pay attention to it while you do it, but seriously. Seriously. REAL CHEESE.

Garden infrastructure is 85% complete

This weekend my buddy the roller derby referee Slim Goodbody came over and helped us put in the little patio for the cheap picnic table I bought on Craigslist. It probably would have been a major pain in the butt without him, but it turns out that Slim is indeed a very handy fellow so it was only a minor pain in the butt.

Traced the outline, dug the hole, leveled it, added sand, leveled the sand, layed the stones, leveled the stones, added more sand, swept. Now patio.

Our grand terrace with only the finest of furniture.

The spoils of labor were fine indeed. I made Amaranth Flatbreads from Good to the Grain (AWESOME!) and poached eggs in a spicy tomato sauce. A simple salad from our garden (yes it’s starting) and mojitos made with some of the garden’s chocolate mint.

P.’s almost done with the bunny repellent fence for the front of the garden (taken a lot of beer to finish that project), just in time to protect the enormous amount of strawberries we’re going to have. The sunflowers and morning glories are sprouting and I have no idea what I’m going to do with myself when all the infrastructure is done.

I will leave you with this cat who clearly loves blogging.

Tender.

I purchased a new cookbook recently, one that focuses on growing a home garden and cooking from it. It’s written by one of the top food writers in Britain and has beautiful pictures to accompany simple recipes. Though it is not a vegetarian cookbook the author explains that he believes strongly in a diet that is mainly plant-based for the planet and for his health, so a majority of the recipes are vegetarian.

So, Tender; The story of a cook and his vegetable patch by Nigel Slater is wonderful. Each chapter is one vegetable, it describes planting it, growing it, cooking it, and then recipes for it.

When I was looking at samples of the book online I didn’t realize that it would be such a large tome, but I did realize that I would want to cook one of the example recipes as soon as I could. This soup, called simply, A soup the color of marigolds.

Now, when to make such a soup? The main ingredients are carrots and yellow tomatoes and those aren’t going to truly be in season for the home cook for some time, and chances are that when the tomatoes are ripe it’ll be too hot for soup. I had carrots from the farm market. I decided to break all the rules and bought tomatoes at the grocery store since they aren’t available at the farm market yet either. The store didn’t have any yellow tomatoes so I bought orange ones and I only bought 4 even though there were 6 and I regretted not buying all of them when I got home. When I got home I realized I’d need to bulk up the soup and debated between tomato flavor and golden color, ended up choosing to add some roasted yellow peppers from a jar to increase the volume. Then I broke more rules and added some cream at the end, not included in the recipe. Because I had some and we don’t use it for very much and it was going bad. So there.

What actually came from our garden? The chives on top. We’ve got many weeks to go before we have any real produce from the garden. I think we’ll have some lettuce this week. Woot!

 

A soup the color of marigolds.

A Riff on A soup the color of marigolds.

Ingredients

A bunch of carrots; peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

A small yellow onion; finely diced

3 cloves of garlic; minced

4 orange tomatoes; peeled, deseeded, and chopped,do this over a strainer and reserve as much tomato water as possible

2 yellow roasted peppers; diced

4ish cups veggie broth

salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbsp butter

1/8 cup cream

 

Directions

1) In a big saucepan melt 1 Tbsp of butter over med high heat. Add onions and carrots and salt. Cook until they begin to release liquid and then add garlic. Cook until liquid is mostly absorbed.

2) Add the tomatoes, peppers, and broth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a low simmer and cook for 15 min until carrots are completely soft. Stir in remaining butter.

3) Use an immersion blender to blend the contents to a puree, not entirely smooth. Aim for rustic. If you don’t have an immersion blender do half the soup at a time and don’t blend the second part entirely smooth. The soup should be chunky.

4) Stir in the cream and any other seasoning. Serve in bowls and top with any herbs of your choice.

You could sub any tomatoes of your choice, or leave out the peppers. Or the cream (and sub EVOO for butter) to make it vegan. Your choice. Remember, I was going for color.