Monday, June 28, 2010

Chicken Salad Sliders

(I know it kind of looks big in the picture, but that's a mini chicken salad on a little 2-inch dinner roll.)

(Making it totally fair for me to have eaten four of them.)

The chicken salad was made from the left-overs of a Free Bird roast, meat pulled from the bone and tossed with chopped celery, onion, a little mustard and Spectrum mayo.  The lettuce was from my mom's garden, though the tomatoes, concededly, were from somewhere in Mexico.  The rolls are a phenomenal recipe from my mom's friend Mary, which I promise to make, photograph, and blog for you very soon.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Post Describing Why My Mom Will Be Living With Us After We're Married

She recently baked this cherry pie.

And not only did she actually go two houses down and HAND-PICK THE CHERRIES from our neighbor's tree, but she also spent three hours pitting and de-worming them.  Fresh from the tree, they had that hint of tartness that sucks your cheeks in a little as you eat.

She also substituted her traditional pie crust (made with Crisco) for one that I could eat: just flour, canola oil, and a little milk and sugar.

It was crumbly and rich, hitting that perfect balance just between golden-flaky and buttery-melt-on-your-tongue.

She topped hers with a little vanilla ice cream, but since we didn't have anything on hand without preservatives, I went with fresh blueberries instead.

I haven't consulted Matt yet about the new addition to our newlywed household, but something tells me he's going to be TOTALLY OKAY WITH IT.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Chips and Dips

Summer is my favorite time for home-made Mexican comfort foods... And it doesn't hurt that my mom, it turns out, is apparently an avid collector of small earthenware pots.  

The salsa is pretty standard: roughly chopped tomato and onion mixed with minced jalapeno and fresh cilantro, tossed with the juice of one lime, a dash of olive oil, and plenty of salt and pepper to taste.

The bean dip is incredibly simple and flavorful: throw a can of black beans into the mixer with one garlic clove, the juice of the other lime, and a couple teaspoons each of cumin, chili powder, and cayenne.  Salt and pepper until it zings on your tongue.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Minimalist Lunch

(For the cynics out there, that's a Smart Chicken organic hot dog: not super tasty, as far as hot dogs go, but the first hot dog I've seen containing only ingredients my mom has in her kitchen...)

Backdated: Berkshire Pork Chops

Mom and I bought these pork chops a couple weeks ago at the farmer's market, from a seriously charming Iowan who insisted they were the preferred pig of the Queen of England.

I don't know whether this is true, but they were thick and juicy, and we (tragically) overcooked them a little waiting fruitlessly for the flesh to turn white; I gathered later from a Wikipedia entry and a consultation with Garver that Berkshire cooks almost like red meat, staying pink even when fully cooked.

... Yeah, they were still pretty good.

Mom had also gotten some beets in her CSA bag, so we chopped and grilled the greens in a little olive oil, cumin, and salt.  We stuck the beets themselves in the oven to roast for an hour until they were soft and dripping red, then sliced them and served with a little soft goat butter and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

Finally, we made some of Matt's fantastic buttermilk mashed potatoes of which, as usual, I ate way too many.

Aside from the potatoes, everything in this meal came from the farmer's market, boding well for my New Year's resolution lasting at least through the summer...

Buffalo Meatballs

Sorry for the break in posting... I rolled into Omaha last week, promptly broke my camera, went to California for the wedding, and started working full-time on Monday, so let's just say that photographing my food hasn't been the priority for a while.

Now that I'm reasonably settled and back in a routine, though, I promise to do better.  With that, I present you: spaghetti and meatballs, slow-foods-style.

My dad and his wife graciously watched the Bean while I was away in California (they like having her: Denise claims she's a good influence on their wild child beagle pup, Bailey) so in thanks, I offered to cook dinner for them on Thursday night.

I stopped by the grocery on my way from work to their place, and was inspired by finding a package of ground bison.  Bison, for those who haven't already heard it, is a terrific whole foods choice, because buffalo are pasture-raised, generally without the use of hormones or antibiotics.  Someone who reads this might know more about raising buffalo than I do, but my general impression is that the meat hasn't gotten popular enough for someone to bother figuring out how to cram bison in feedlots.

The meat is wonderful; really, just like grass-raised ground beef, lean and savory.  And when you mash it together in balls with parmesan reggiano, an egg, and some bread crumbs, fry it in oil and then slather it in crushed tomatoes with basil fresh from the garden, really, any kind of meat will taste delicious.

I served them over organic rotini, with fresh-baked organic bread, each slice brushed with butter and then toasted in the oven, a light salad with lemon juice and olive oil, and more choices of cheese than were probably necessary: mozzarella, parmesan, feta.

I forgot my camera, so Dad took these photos, and I love how this one came out kind of like a Dutch painting, all light and shadow, with something vaguely eerie about it...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Wedding of the Century

(At least, until next June...)

We left early Wednesday morning for a long weekend in Sonora, California, there to celebrate the nuptials of two of our closest friends from our time in South Dakota.  Kim and David were married at a gorgeous vineyard about twenty minutes from her home in the little mountain town.  The weather was phenomenal, the celebration intimate and meaningful, the bride was beautiful, the couple was joyous.

And the food was OHHH. M. G.

Wednesday, Matthew Blair and I spent the day in San Francisco, dining at not one but two incredible whole-food-centric restaurants: Boulette's Larder in the Ferry Building, and a Moroccan place called Aziza with a Michelin star.  I managed, of course, to photograph neither meal.  Between a dead camera battery and a broken lens (requiring the use of my wildlife zoom lens for all photos), photographing on Wednesday was right out.

So we pick up with photos on Thursday, by which point we were ensconced with Kim's lovely family, receiving fresh-made waffles and french toast with locally-grown berries for breakfast, coffees with agave nectar and fresh whipped cream, sandwiches slathered with peanut butter and dripping with jelly, and more than one memorable dinner:

And, it has to be said, the most fantastic margaritas I've ever had:

 Not a great photo because (as with all of these, and, for that matter, all the photos you'll see for the next few weeks until my kit lens comes back from the repair shop) this was shot from a distance of twenty feet.  But Kim's dad's margaritas are just lime-ade, triple sec, tequila, and lemons.  So they're whole, tasty, and wayyyy too easy to drink.

Which was a problem, when we had them not only Thursday night, but also with the catered Mexican rehearsal dinner:

This is saying a lot, but it was generally agreed and I really do think that those enchiladas were the best ever.  If you ever happen to find yourself in Sonora, I recommend you check out El Jardin.

The wedding dinner was the crowning glory.  Kim and David hired a local caterer who specializes in using local ingredients.  The spread of tender roast chicken with garlic and cherry tomatoes, grilled zucchini and bright bell pepper, fresh bread and greek salad was perfectly suited to the sunny, seventy degree evening.

I have to thank Jen for taking these photos, because I was part of the wedding party and didn't want to ruin the effect of my dress and hair by lugging the huge zoom-lens'd camera around all night.

Additionally, I drank, shall we say, to excess.

So the camera was safer with her.

What's a wedding without a cake??  This one, also created by the caterer, was lemon with a cream-cheese frosting.  The inner layer of frosting was stuffed with fresh berries.

It was so good, I actually stole two other people's slices when they were busy dancing.

This is true.  And I am not ashamed.  Not one little bit.

Congratulations, Kim and David!  
We love you so much, and we can't wait to see you in Chicago this year...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Farmer's Market

My mom joined a CSA with a couple friends this year, so we went yesterday morning to meet her farmers and divvy up the goods among the group.  While there, of course, we picked up some extraneous produce and cheeses, and a set of four Berkshire pork chops that cost an arm and a leg and look absolutely incredible.  Photos coming of that meal tonight...

This is a locally-crafted goat cheese, rolled in lavender and lemon zest.  I think they may have overdone it a little on the seasoning, but the cheese is soft and tangy, and the zest gives a flavorful crunch.

Above is a tiny loaf of dandelion bread, lovingly crafted by the young woman from whom my mom gets her weekly sack of goods.  You can see the little dandelion hairs in the slice; she said they sat around for hours, delicately pulling the hairs from the greens.  The resulting loaf was sweet and soft, a little like cornbread, and when spread with the smoky ripe camembert and topped with a fresh-picked strawberry from our own garden, absolutely heavenly.

Cheat-Meal: Jaipur

I'm not officially Homaha until we've eaten at my favorite restaurant in the world: The Jaipur.  I know this photo doesn't look that inviting, but let me tell you, nowhere else makes malai seekh kebab or vegetable samosas quite as delicious.

It's good to be home!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Sweet Summertime

I'm Homaha for the summer, on break from law school (ONBREAKFROMLAW SCHOOL!!!ZOMGG) and starting work for the public defender in just a couple weeks.  Matt and I are heading to California next week for Kim and David's wedding, and I'll launch into work immediately upon my return.  In the meantime, though, I'm taking a few days to run, play, read, write, generally decompress, and -- of course -- eat.

My mom and seven year old niece grow an amazing garden every year, which means there are always fresh vegetables and herbs for our meals, hand-picked only moments before cooking: as fresh and as local as you can possibly get.  (Photos coming soon).  Summer makes slow food so much easier.  

This morning, for instance, Mara and I set out to make parfaits with organic yogurt, summer-sweet berries, and the granola mom recently baked up:

(The granola is just old fashioned oats, shredded unsweetened coconut, and chopped pecans coated in a little canola oil and honey, baked until golden and then tossed with tart dried cherries.)

We layered the ingredients.  As one does with a parfait.

But when it came time to photograph, she grabbed some mint she'd picked from the garden last night for a garnish, and suddenly, your average fruit and yogurt parfait became a SUMMERTIME WORK OF ART:

You can't tell me that's not the most beautiful thing you've ever seen.  Go on.  Try it.


In any case, we heartily enjoyed them:

And when they were gone, we had to do something with the extra few mint leaves and strawberries...  Luckily for us, there was lemonade in the fridge.

I'm rapidly revising my list of favorite months of the year.  February?  You got nothing on June. 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Cooking for Three

Matt's sister Katie is due today (!!!), so over the weekend we journeyed up to Madison with his mom to visit in anticipation of the blessed event.  While there, we helped prepare some meals for them to reheat after the baby is born, when they will be overworked, underslept, and, apparently, very hungry.

While we cooked, we munched on good Wisconsin cheese and beer, purchased from the rather incredible Madison Saturday morning farmer's market:

On Sunday morning, Matt and I cooked breakfast, whipping up my mom's recipe for French pancakes.  We served them with just-picked strawberries from the farmer's market, and as farmers themselves, Katie and Greg had all kinds of home-canned preserves lying around, perfect for spreading with butter and farm-fresh goat cheese on the doughy crepes:

If anyone doesn't understand why I love the country so much, please reference the photo above.

Katie and Greg, we're sending all kinds of love and the best wishes in the world your way!!