Category Archives: How To…

Thanksgiving Floral Arrangement

thanksgiving floral arrangement

thanksgiving floral arrangement

Stopped by Bi-Rite Market and selected a few stems to make a tall bouquet for the mantle. I already had the rocks and vase, so this more than 30 inch high arrangement cost $18, and I suspect it will last at least a week.

 

 

Fried Baby Artichokes & Potatoes with Flank Steak

fried baby artichokes and fried potatoes

grilled flank steak

From A Platter of Figs – totally doable on a Tuesday night, shopping and all!
Recipe for Fried Baby Artichokes and Potatoes with Flank Steak
For Two

1.5-2lb flank steak
2 C new potatoes or other tender spring potatoes, washed, boiled until just tender and halved/quartered
8-10 baby artichokes, outter layers peeled, tops cut off and halved or quartered*
4 cloves garlic, minced
10 sprigs parsley (or more/less), chopped finely
1.5 C arugula, optional
2 T olive oil
lots of vegetable oil (sunflower or safflower or other high heat oil)
salt & pepper

* As you clean and prep the artichokes, place them in acidulated water (water with juice of a lemon or lime) to prevent browning.

For the Steak
Generously salt & pepper both sides of the flank steak and set aside. Can refrigerate overnight ahead or season within 2 hours of cooking and leave out at room temp.

For the Potatoes & Artichokes
Prep all ingredients ahead. Heat the grill for the steak and begin cooking steak as you start this processs:

Heat a large skillet to medium high heat and cook the artichokes until beginning to color. This is to remove moisture and prepare for frying. Add the potatoes after about 2-3 minutes of cooking and cook. In a large cast iron or other high sided skillet, heat a generous inch of vegetable oil to frying heat. Test with a potato if needed for even bubbling. Add the potatoes and fry 1 minute, then add artichokes and fry all until deep golden. Remove and drain on paper towels or cooling racks.

In original skillet, heat 2 T olive oil with garlic, cooking at low heat until flavor is infused, about 3 minutes. Add fried artichokes and potatoes, salt, pepper, and parsley. Toss and serve. * Original recipe calls to add fresh arugula to potato mixture if you like.

“Moon Viewing Noodles” – Udon with Pork & Sweet Potatoes

udon noodles with pork tenderloin and sweet potatoes "moon viewing noodles"

The hiatus was not entirely my fault. We had an issue with the kitchen sink’s piping, which, once we went in to fix what seemed simple, turned into quite a mess of replacing one part after another, the crescendo being when the disposal decided to actually fall out.

I was not very motivated to create more messes with no great way to clean them, and shortly after that was fixed the hot water decided to turn a lovely rusty brown. Anyway, we are all back in action and, I’m happy to say, fully functional again!

About this time last year I began cooking lots of Japanese food, mainly from a great cook book I own called Washoku Kitchen ($24.50 at the time of this post)– “recipes for Japanese home cooking.” I picked it back up yesterday and started cooking, with a few modifications.

The thing about good Japanese cooking is that the most delicious items seem to take many steps–5 ingredients, but each one you must create. A soy concentrate. A dashi. A miso mixture. It takes time, and works best if you start cooking a LOT of Japanese food, so you can make these things and use them more than once without duplicating efforts.

Udon noodles with pork & sweet potatoes/yams

For 3-4 people as a main course
12 oz fresh udon noodles, cooked*
8 cups dashi with shitake**
4 T seasoned soy concentrate***
1/2 large sweet potato, peeled & cubed
1/2 lb pork tenderloin, sliced thinly
2 green onions, sliced thinly on the diagonal

Bring the dashi to a light simmer, adding the soy concentrate. Place the cooked udon noodles in heated bowls. Using a large skillet and a lightly flavored oil such as avocado, cook the sweet potato on medium high heat until color is deepened, adding a touch of salt.

Add 1 T sake and 2 T water, and cover to steam 3-4 minutes. Push potatoes to side of pan and add pork, trying not to pile the pieces on top of each other. When pork is cooked, pour broth over noodles, add potatoes & pork to one side of bowl and sprinkle green onion over the top.

*cooked in a wide, not too deep pot with plenty of water for 2 minutes boiling, then drained and rinsed in cool water

**combine cold water with strip of kombu (thick kelp) and two dried shitake mushrooms. After 10 minutes, bring to just under a boil and then turn off. Add 1 cup unpacked bonito flakes (large tuna flakes). Let steep 2 minutes, then strain and return to clean pot

***Combine 2/3 cup soy, 1/3 cup sake, 1 dried shitake mushroom & 1/4 cup bonito or other tuna flakes, let steep 1hour-12 hours. Add 2T mirin, 3T water, 3T sugar. Bring to a simmer and reduce by 1/4. Strain and reserve.

Creamy winter citrus & crab salad

Winter salad with citrus and creamy yogurt dressing

Creamy winter citrus salad with Crab

For four:
1 dungeness crab, picked for meat (or about 8 legs/1.25 lbs in-shell)
2 small, tasty oranges
2 grapefruit
1 ripe avocado
1/2 C pepitas (pumpkin seeds, raw preferably)
3T plain greek yogurt
1 shallot
Juice of 1 lemon
1 T good, mild olive oil
bunch watercress
bunch frisee

Pick the crab meat and mince the shallot. Toast the pepitas in a hot pan, moving constantly for a few minutes. Zest the oranges and grapefruit a bit to get about 1-2 tsp of zest into a small bowl. Section the fruits by slicing the stem/flower ends off and cutting the pith away. Hold the fruit in your hand and cut* along the membranes to section the fruit out.

Drain the excess juice into the zest bowl, and add the yogurt, shallot, lemon juice, olive oil and a bit of salt. Whisk together and let stand. Slice your avocado thinly and portion 1/4 for each serving. Dress the frisee and watercress in the creamy citrus dressing, and assemble the citrus segments, crab, avocado and pepitas on top.

*If you’re afraid of doing this, watch a youtube video; if you’re still afraid, cut them in rounds instead.

Watermelon Rind Pickle Recipe & Their Applications

Homemade pickled watermelon rinds

My mother loves using these as appetizers by wrapping bacon around them, tooth-picking them and cooking in the oven until crispy, salty, sweet.

They’re relatively annoying to find in local markets and for a variety of reasons I expect them to be better made at home–organic watermelon, spices hand carried back from India, quality control. In a market, a jar half this size will cost about $4-5.

Watermelon rind in brine

watermelon-rind-boiling

Pickled Watermelon Rinds with Water Bath

These will keep at least a year assuming a seal is made upon canning.

Rind from an 8lb watermelon, peeled, flesh removed and cubed
Lots of kosher salt
Lots of water
2 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar, rice vinegar, or apple cider vinegar
4 cups sugar
1 T whole cloves
6 cinnamon sticks, 3 inches or so long
1-2 T star anise, whole
Optional: whole mace, tied in a cheesecloth bag (do not can it)

Peel and chop your watermelon rind and place the pieces in a briny water overnight, up to 24 hours, at room temperature.  You should use 3T kosher salt to every quart of water. Let it sit a few minutes then give it a stir to dissolve.

Drain the rind and put it in a large pan, such as a pasta pot. Fill with water, just covering the pieces. Simmer until becoming slightly translucent, about 40 minutes.

Drain again and set aside. Use the same pot to combine the vinegar and sugar. Bring to a boil, add the spices and the watermelon rind, reduce to a simmer and continue cooking about 20-30 more minutes, until all pieces are translucent.

Immediately transfer the rind pieces into clean mason jars or canning jars and have new lids ready and clean. Once the rind is distributed, pour the spices and spice syrup (less the mace packet in cheesecloth) in over the rind until about 1/4 inch from the top, covering the pieces.

Screw the lids on with moderate force and place into a large pot (maybe the same one, cleaned?) filled with warm/hot from the tap water, and bring it to a gentle boil. Once boiling, continue for 10 minutes, then turn off heat and leave until cool enough to handle.

If you force the jars to cool more quickly, they will likely crack or break. Within about an hour, all of the seals will probably sink to show that they are pasteurized and ready for storage. If they have not sunk by 24 hours later, you’ll need to repeat the water bath process.