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Grilled Romaine Salad

A warm salad for a chilly evening

A warm salad for a chilly evening

 

Who would have thought that my father was 20 years ahead of the culinary times? When we were little our vegetarian family would eat these little hoagies.  Those are “subs” to you folks who mistakenly call them subs. My mother, who is a fabulous cook, could often imitate things at home when she tried them eating out. Even it if wasn’t an exact replica, she would be able to reconstruct the essence of the meal that would make us want to have it again.

Growing up in Philadelphia we would get these hoagies from delis around us. They would give us a look when we ordered one with no meat, secretly excited since they get to keep their meat. I think some softer hearted persons would feel that more cheese was in order and would give us a hoagie laden with slices of slices upon cheese which would make for a disconcerting texture. As fun as it might sound, biting into a really thick slice of cheese is not good for your soul.

Just use a grill pan over the stove for everything

Just use a grill pan over the stove for everything

This of course has nothing to do with the main story. I tell you this because my mother would recreate an even better version at home and she nailed what we loved about the hoagie.

Of course an Amoroso roll was used, shredded iceberg, white american cheese (yes, it had to be white) and a concoction of mayo, red wine vinegar and olive oil with dried oregano and very thin slices of onion and sweet peppers (which I am really sad to say, I cannot find the ones to my liking here in the West Coast)

I tell you this not only because it hits a nostalgic pang in my stomach but also because my father and the rest of our family would differ in the following: He would want all the items on the roll then toasted. For some reason the wilted lettuce turned my stomach and my obliging mother would make his with the lettuce toasted first then ours afterwards.

I remember the look on his face, the same look I get when I am very much enjoying the food I am eating. We were sitting at our dining room table eating a very unhealthy meal of Doritos, soda and these hoagies when I realized my father was quiet. He leaned slightly back in his chair, consumed with a deep satisfaction that comes from eating exactly what you want made how you you imagined. He leaned back and blurted with all urgency and purity, “I love toasted lettuce!”

Choose your protein. I chose roasted chickpeas which were easy to make with a bit of cumin, salt, pepper and cayenne.

Choose your protein. I chose roasted chickpeas which were easy to make with a bit of cumin, salt, pepper and cayenne.

Being the horrible angsty pre-teen I was, I laughed at him. I think it was more the fact that he felt this was an issue of right and wrong. I, not having the palate that would appreciate “toasted lettuce” nor the insight that I might in fact also exclaim that I liked toasted lettuce 20 years into the future, argued with my father.

Well, the day has come when I can exclaim that I like toasted lettuce. I like it so much that for a whole week I made this for dinner. It of course had nothing to do with the fact that myself and my husband took it upon ourselves to grocery shop without telling each other and bought two whole bags of romaine hearts.

In the dead of winter… I know that no one feels sorry for a Californian to have to eat a cold dinner in a California winter (in my defense my body acclimated so I still feel cold during winter even if it is in the 50s) I didn’t want to eat cold salads and I had a time limit. Salad greens wait for no man before they die.

I felt that maybe it was time to give grilled romaine a go. I tried it and guess what, my stomach didn’t turn. You could say it did a somersault with joy. I didn’t realize what I was missing and Dad you were correct. So, you read it here. When you recant this story I would ask that you do not use the term hypocrite. I prefer to be called open minded instead. Thank you.

A salad fit for a father or daughter who has eaten her words

A salad fit for a father or daughter who has eaten her words

 

Grilled Romaine Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Salad
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 serving
 
A warm salad with a lemon vinegrette
Ingredients
  • 1 romaine heart per person
  • 5-6 mushrooms
  • 1 small zucchini
  • shaved parmesan
  • a protein of your choice (we used roasted chickpeas)
  • olive oil
  • sherry vinegar
  • lemon zest and juice
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Grill the vegetables of your choice or the ones we listed over a hot grill pan.
  2. Make the vinegrette 1 part acid to 2-3 parts oil depending on how zesty you want it.
  3. Set aside the grilled veggies.
  4. Cut the romaine heart in half and grill on high heat for 1 minute then take off the pan and place on a serving plate.
  5. Toss grilled veggies, your protein and some grated or shaved cheese on top.
  6. Pour dressing on top and enjoy

 

Kombucha: The sausage of the beverage world

Kombucha! An instructional manual

Kombucha! An instructional manual

Yes it is that slimy vinegary drink you see in the stores now. I have a secret. I love it.

Of course when I see something at the store that I like I automatically think ‘I can make this at home’ and then grab an armful and to take home to experiment.

Something was holding me back. I had bought a few bottles of store bought kombucha and each time my husband would shake his head as I asked him to try this murky drink telling him it is good for him as he backed away. It smells like vinegar he would say.

The kit

The kit. Kombucha is the sausage of the beverage world. The process of making it isn’t pretty so it helps to have a kit to start you off on the right track

He was correct, but again, I love vinegar so I was going to drink it. I bought a bottle here and there. Thinking I will get to brewing it at home but I admit the lackadaisical research I did pointed to the process being technique sensitive and I did not have the energy at the time. Each bottle I thought about starting a batch then I drank the bottle and left the sludge at the bottom thinking this is the bottle that is going to rocket my at home kombucha batch. It wasn’t and neither was the next one. I went a few weeks doing the same thing just throwing them away after I got yelled at for empty bottle hoarding. I was told there was prime refrigerator real estate that was being used and I had to do something. That something ended up being recycling the bottles.

All the stuff you need for your husband to start your first batch

All the stuff you need for your husband to start your first batch

I had all but given up on kombucha when I get a package in the mail with the words ‘fragile’ and ‘refrigerate or brew immediately’ written on it. I was intrigued since I did not order any such thing with an alien logo and called my husband. He said it was for me and to open it.

Open it I did. It was something thoughtful and unexpected, or so I thought. I figured he took notice of my mental anguish at not being able to start this goal of mine. I thought he was sensitive to my need not to give up and was helping me up and back onto the field. I felt loved and encouraged.

Delayed gratification: 10 to 14 days later the batch is ready for secondary fermentation if you can wait that long.

Delayed gratification: 10 to 14 days later the batch is ready for secondary fermentation if you can wait that long… we could not. We drank it at this stage. But makes sure to save the mother and some of the kombucha for your next batch before drinking it all.

When he got home he did the most peculiar thing. He took everything out of the box and started to make kombucha while telling me about it and how he saw it on television and there is a place in Brooklyn that you can order stuff from. I guess Andrew Zimmern has my husbands ear more than I do.

Getting people gifts that I really want is kinda my thing. How dare he steal my M.O. I only let this dampen my excitement for a little while with the requisite folding of the arms and trying (unsuccessfully) to not look excited which lasted all of three minutes before I started flipping through the cook book and instructions giving my two uninformed cents about what to do and how to do it. Jokes on him because I loved it!

Bottled in the only jar we had but at this stage you can add flavorings and such

Bottled in the only jar we had but at this stage you can add flavorings and such.

Our first batch was born. The only problem now is that I want to make more all the time which can be accomplished with a bigger fermentation vessel. Andrew, if you are reading this please make sure to mention this to my husband.

This might not be glamorous to discuss but my digestive system loves it as well and I will leave it as that. Pretentious foodie out.

I highly recommend this product to get you started.

I highly recommend this product to get you started.

Fermented Hot Sauce

 

Peppers in a PR farmers market

Peppers in a PR farmers market

I was given a sack of Thai chili peppers from the backyard of a friend. I have fond food memories of my trip to Thai land but couldn’t imagine eating all of these peppers. I decided to try my hand at hot sauce, fermented hot sauce.

My recent adventures in fermenting have kept me busy but this was something I had always wanted to try since our trip to Puerto Rico a few years back. The first restaurant we ordered some beans and rice since we wanted pace ourselves for our trip.  I felt it needed something and asked for hot sauce. The woman came back with a glass bottle with a label that stubbornly wanted to keep its place despite the multiple areas people had tried to peel it off with crusty top half filled with a reddish concoction.  I was immediately intrigued and tried a bit on my plate.

Beans and rice with plantains

Beans and rice with plantains

It was hot sauce but there were a melange of flavors. I swear there was garlic, maybe carrot and a hint of banana or pineapple but without the sweetness. I immediately placed more on my plate and in my hideously broken what passes for Spanish I tried to ask what was in here and where I could get some. The woman responded in English and said, “Oh! everyone has homemade hot sauce and everyone puts whatever they want in it.”

She was correct. Without fail I would ask for hot sauce at every restaurant and someone would fetch a reused bottle with some crusty top and either a clear vinegar with peppers in it or a chunky hot sauce. They would put it down with a bit of pride and a smile that showed some respect for these travelers who really wanted to eat local. That smile could also have been amusement to see if we can handle it but for personal reasons I will assume it was the former.

The "house" hot sauce.

The “house” hot sauce in some hole in the wall restaurant

Some would appear in old soda bottles and there was always a crusty top. I would always ask what it was made of but would get the same answer of oh a little of this and that.

So I tried my hand at it with this bag of peppers. I salted the peppers added some onions, garlic and carrots and let it sit for a week. I blended it with a mix of other spices and blended fruit. Let me tell you the testing and tweaking of flavors jacked up my stomach. Then when I was ready I added a bit of vinegar.

image (2)

Mixed peppers: post fermentation

The seeds added a bitter flavor so they were removed but I had wish I had done that before the tweaking and tasting. The seeds and solids were then dried and some chili flakes were made from that. Waste not want not.

It was spicy and was a flavorful version of the standard hot sauce.

My second attempt was made with more of a mix of peppers both sweet and spicy and this yielded something more like those sauces in weird bottles. We are so brave when on vacation. If someone handed me a bottle like that here I would not go near it.

Crushing the peppers

Crushing the peppers, fermentation liquid is saved to add later to taste.

One attempt was more of a vinegar type sauce, free of all seeds, a consistent viscosity made from Thai chili peppers.

The other attempt was a more chunky sauce with whatever peppers I had from my garden. This I put in a very large empty vodka bottle and it has been going strong. Also this had that bit of PR flavor since I added banana and pineapple to it after fermentation.

Removing the skins and seeds

Removing the skins and seeds

My next step is to make a homemade version of Tapitio which is a favorite in our household.  Stay tuned for that.

Finished Product

Finished Product

 

 

West African Peanut Soup

Hearty Peanut and Lentil Stew

Hearty Peanut and Lentil Stew

I have had this soup cookbook for over 15 years now and still haven’t tried all the recipes. Every now and then, usually when the Northern California air starts to chill a bit, I pick it up. I was flipping through the pages and found a recipe for peanut soup.  I have seen it for the last 15 years but it never struck me as something I wanted to try.

Through my edible travels I have come across many uses of peanuts in savory dishes. There are Indian dals, multiple Thai dishes that use a peanut sauce or crushed peanuts but not until family parties did I come across a dish where it was a star ingredient. Kare-kare, a Filipino peanut butter and oxtail stew. I thought to myself, maybe this West African soup could be a similar experience with a thick peanut butter stew.

I, of course did not keep with to original recipe and tweaked it to throw in some things I might like and also to clean out my ever packed freezer.  I think my version came out to be a really stick to your ribs meal that shines a light on peanut butter being a star ingredient.

West African Peanut Soup
Author: 
Recipe type: Soups and Stew
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12 servings
 
A hearty peanut butter and lentil stew
Ingredients
  • ½ medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 bunch kale, collard or hearty green, ribs removed and leaves thinly sliced
  • ½ red (masoor) lentils
  • 1 sweet potato chopped
  • ¾ cup unsalted peanut butter (chunky or smooth)
  • 3 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 can of fire roasted tomatoes
  • A few drops of your favorite hot sauce, like sriracha or a homemade one
  • The juice of ½ a lemon
  • A few tbsp of sugar
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped peanuts, for garnish
Instructions
  1. In a large dutch oven heat some vegetable oil over medium heat and saute the onion, carrot, celery, ginger, garlic and salt. Cook until soft and the oil has picked up some color. Add the lentils, sweet potato, and greens and saute a few minutes.
  2. Pour in the stock and tomatoes and turn the heat to high until just boiling then reduce to medium heat again.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the peanut butter and tomato paste, then transfer a few tablespoons of the stock and wisk until you have dissolved the peanut butter/tomato paste mixture.
  4. Whisk the mixture together until smooth, then pour the peanut mixture back into the soup and mix well.
  5. Simmer for about 15 more minutes on medium-low heat, stirring often until the lentils are cooked. Add the hot sauce, lemon juice and sugar to taste.
  6. Serve over a hearty grain like brown rice if you'd like, and top with a sprinkle of chopped peanuts.

 

 

Preserved Grape Leaves

Rolled and ready for the brine

Rolled and ready for the brine

I remember seeing a Charlie Chaplin movie where he opens a window in his home and plucks a fruit from a tree.  That has stuck with me. Now that I live in an area that I can grow fruit trees, I just walk outside and pluck a fruit or in this case even a leaf and eat it or in this case preserve it for later.

My Husband makes the best dolmades I have ever tasted, and I have tasted them everywhere just to keep him on his toes. We usually make them once or twice in the spring when our grape vines start getting leaves. I figured this is unacceptable and there must be a way to have them whenever please. We have tried freezing them without much success. We do not want to buy the leaves in the store packed with who knows what preservative even if it is the dead of winter and get a craving.

This was our first attempt at canning them.  We found a few recipes. If in case you don’t see any more posts please come to my door and make sure I haven’t poisoned myself and family with botulism.

It was pretty straightforward. Snip the stem ends of the leaves, blanch them in salted water. Stack and make them into rolls. We had about 30 leaves and we fit it into a small jam jar. Bundle them up and make a saline solution and cook in a water bath for 10 minutes.  Please to enjoy.

 

Washed grape leaves

Washed grape leaves

Recipe: Preserved Grape Leaves

Ingredients

  • 25-30 leaves the size of a small man’s hand or a regular woman’s hand per jar
  • 4 c. filtered water
  • 1/4 c canning salt
  • 3 tsp of citric acid
  • More water and salt to blanch the leaves

Instructions

  1. Make brine combine water, salt and citric acid and boil for 5 minutes. during that that time, blanch leaves and dry on clean kitchen cloth. Stack 6-8 leaves fold the top down and the bottom up and roll from left to right creating a tight bundle about 3 inches tall. Place 4 bundles in a sterilized jars so that wedges itself in, fill 1 inch above the leaves with brine. Top with lid and place in water bath for 10 minutes. Use within 6 months.

Preparation time: 35 minute(s)

Cooking time: 15 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 12

 

 

Skillet Pizza

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This Valentines Day I will be flying solo since my dear husband will be advancing his knowledge base and will be taking a continuing education class out of town. I gave the requisite sad face and told him he would be missed izzthen turned around lips curling into a salacious smile walking away making a list of all the things I will do in his absence. The image of glass of wine, dogs on my lap and a  movie after movie flickering on the screen in our family room delighted me. Then I thought to myself, what would I like to eat?

Pizza.

Triple Dough

Three flour dough

I have a bit of a problem you see. I love pizza… to a really severe degree. Here is an example of my illness: I have frozen slices from a pie and placed in my checked baggage to take home after I have had some good pizza. Unfortunely that is a very true and embarrasing story.

I might have mentioned a few times that good pizza is lacking here. I have found some gems and have yet to try many other possible gems thanks to this dangerous site that reviews pizza places all over. Even with the help of the brave men and women who travel and eat pizza and tell us about it, I haven’t found any that are in close distance to my home which makes them as good as dead to me.  There was only one solution, to make it at home.

Quick Sauce

Quick Sauce

While I have made pizza at home a number of times, it seems it just doesn’t fit the bill. Something is always amiss. Each time trying to find a solution to the problem. The sauce always seemed to lack the consistency and well, who wants to make a sauce from scratch each time you are craving a slice of pizza. That solution was easy and was though of where I usually brainstorm, in the shower. The solution was easy. A dash of oil and a heaping tablespoon of tomato paste a few spices and some water. In a few minutes you can have a great quick red sauce.

A minute on skillet after adding toppings.

A minute on skillet after adding toppings.

Also preheating a stone, using the whole oven for just a few minutes of baking seemed ridiculous. The other problem was the thinner you  make the pie, the more difficult it is to place any kind of topping even if it was as simple as sauce and cheese.

After four minutes under broiler

After four minutes under broiler

Then came a wonderful entry that I saw. I cannot claim this as my own but I wish to send and electronic shout out to this lovely person. Not only does this take care of the time delay from the need for pizza for us junkies from thought to mouth, it deliverers a pretty good pie that won’t make you feel bad that you ate subpar pizza just because you were looking for a fix.

Nice char at the bottom of a pretty thin crust, reminiscent of wood fired pizza

Nice char at the bottom of a pretty thin crust, reminiscent of wood fired pizza

I did not use the dough recipe. I actually had some home milled hard red wheat (the wheatiest of the wheat flours) with a high protein content and figured why not make a pizza dough from it. I realized after I had started to mix the dough that to make a 80% hydration ratio for my dough I need more flour and I only had some dregs of all purpose and some gluten free (actually I had a ton of the gluten free stuff bought from Costco in a culinary epiphany.  It was left untouched for a long while since I realized I actually love gluten and have been using it for dog treats to try to use it up) I threw in about equal parts of each flour making about 3 cups of flour total and one tsp of yeast. I added salt after about 15 minutes of kneading with the kitchen aid mixer, threw it in a glass bowl, it sat on the counter for a few hours and into the fridge for a few days. I was looking for an airy chewy texture in the crust but also a crispness for the pie itself, having had gluten free things before I thought maybe that would just lighten up the dough a bit.

Chewy and crispy crust.

Chewy and crispy crust.

The use of the pan and broiler combination is great for two reasons: speed and the structural integrity of the pie while cooking.  You are attacking this thing on both ends when cooking so the sauce can be a bit more liquid and not soak through the dough causing malfunction of the end result.

Structural integrety

Structural integrety

It was genius. I gave it a try with my dough since I made it and it was begging to be used instead but am already thinking about ordering the 00 flour in a 10 pack and the writer suggested and put very nicely “I order it in packs of ten, much to my wife’s chagrin” which would have a similar effect in my household since my husband since is already overwhelmed at the level to which I push the limits of our pantry.

Takes about 5 minutes to cook.  Easy as pie.

Takes about 5 minutes to cook. Easy as pie.

It came out wonderfully, better than I imagined a home made pie could without cranking up the oven. Which wouldn’t be a bad thing during the chilly winter rain that has been falling all day.

Recipe: Skillet Pizza

Summary: Pizza for one or more in a quick and painless manor

Ingredients

  • Dough (will make 6-8 pizzas):
  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 c all purpose flour
  • 1 c gluten free flour
  • 1 tsp yeast
  • 75% water ratio (weigh the flours and then use 75% of that weight and measure out the water.
  • 1 tbsp salt (added in during the last bit of kneading)
  • Sauce (for one pie)
  • 1 heaping tbsp of tomato paste
  • splash of olive oil
  • pinches big and small of the following:
  • salt, pepper, dry herbs oregano and basil, sugar and garlic powder/red pepper flakes optional.
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Toppings:
  • as you like or just have some mozzarella cheese and torn basil, and a splash of good olive oil and and sea salt to finish after baking. Just don’t over load it.

Instructions

  1. Make dough by combining all ingredients minus the salt and knead in a mixer for 15 minutes on low, add salt for 2 minutes at the end. Let rest overnight in fridge and remove a few hours to acclimate to room temp. Bring it out and knead it a few times with some extra flour and cut into 6-8 pieces. You can store them in a ziplock baggie in the fridge or use them immediately. Stretch out the dough into a round to fit on a 10″ skillet and let rest.
  2. To make the sauce (or you can use a premade sauce of your choice) heat oil in skillet (you can use the same one intended for the pizza) add all spices and paste and cook the paste in the oil for 2 minutes pushing down with a rubber spatula. Add water and cook until desired consistency and add more spices/salt/sugar per your taste.
  3. Rinse pan and start to preheat on your stove on high heat. Start broiler on high and have the rack as close as possible to it.
  4. Once pan is hot place dough on top in one motion. Start to place sauce on top, add cheese and other ingredients minus the basil and oil. After a minute or two on the stove ( you will see bottom smoke just a tad bit) transfer to broiler for 3-4 minutes.
  5. Top with torn basil and oil if needed. Eat immediately.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time: 5 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 1

Pizza Topper

20131018_155924

I have to admit sometimes I crave bad pizza. You know the ones that you get from the place that is closest because you want pizza. I do that and I guess I am admitting it now in this very public way.

I have yet another confession. Although I haven’t had it in years… not because I didn’t want any but because the lack of Pizza Hut proximity. I like the cheese (or what goes for cheese) on Pizza Hut pizzas. It melts and at the same time it disintegrates soon after the burst of salty flavor.  I would love to meet the scientist that made that cheese.  Actually, scratch that I am not sure I want to know what I am eating.

20131018_153805

As my brother stated, “I can’t believe you have a garden of organic foods and you go get Burger King soft serve for breakfast… there is no demographic for that type of behavior.” Why did I make these confessions? BK soft serve nor Pizza Hut pizza is pretentious and nothing a foodie would admit to eating.  Well, I just wanted you to know I was just like you and you can identify with me.

That was pretentious. Of course I am joking, back to my concoction I made:

If you are like my family you ask for one of more of the following: hot pepper flakes, Parmesan cheese, pickled pepperoncini, garlic powder and maybe dried oregano. I have not been a fan of ranch dressing but I can see the allure. Of course on a beautiful Neapolitan pizza, little to nothing need be added but that is not the type of pizza we are talking about.

20131018_153943

In stead of bringing out the entire armamentum found in my spice cabinet/fridge. I decided to make something to use that encompasses all the flavors that are desired.  I call this my pizza topper.  It contains all the flavors mentioned above (minus the ranch but I could put something in to help with that if prodded) in one convenient bottle.

20131018_160152

I can probably find a better name for it and I am taking suggestions. It is basically pepperoncini pickled with the spices mentioned above.  I am actually dabbling in a little fermentation so I might eventually try a fermented version of this but for right now it is a mildly sweetened vinegar base with spices. Just boil the vinegar and then poor over the pepperoncini then allow to sit in the fridge for a week before using just to have everything come together.

Once it sits for a week, get that pizza and drizzle some on. The sharp vinegar cuts through the heaviness of the cheese. FYI Brother: the peppers are from the garden, as is the oregano.  There always must be balance in your life.

Please to enjoy.

Recipe: Pizza Topper

Summary: All inclusive pizza topping

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup chopped peppers (alternatively you can slice them)
  • 1/2 tsp chopped oregano
  • 1/4 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes
  • cracked pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (more to cover peppers if needed)

Instructions

  1. Boil all ingredients in pot and then transfer to glass jar. Top with vinegar if needed to cover pepper mixture. Increase amounts if needed and keep for a week before using on some bad pizza

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 5 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 12

Meyer Lemon Thyme Buttermilk Sorbet

 

Sorbet in glass

Sorbet in glass

It is all about the weird flavors now isn’t it. I guess you could just make lemon buttermilk sorbet… if you wanted. If you do you must not have a penchant for pretentiousness.

Meyer Lemons

Meyer Lemons

I have access to Meyer lemons so I chose them to use for this sorbet. This actually can be the base of many sorbets. I am sure you can cook and strain fruit of your choice.  Strawberry or blueberries might work well with the buttermilk in addition to other citrus as well.  Please take this as a basic recipe in which you can add the flavor of your choice.

Simple Ingredients (shown: basil not lemon thyme)

Simple Ingredients (shown: basil and lemon thyme. optional use one or both or none)

I am a fan of frozen deserts but this being a tart frozen dessert hits a note with me. My love of these tart sweet yogurt desserts are close to my heart possibly from my upbringing where yogurt was consumed in staggering amounts. You can even find “tart” flavors of frozen yogurt in those fancy fro-yo places that are here and there.

Mix all ingredients and let develop overnight

Mix all ingredients and let develop overnight

When I was younger my mother would make lassi which can either be sweet or savory. It is a yogurt drink that is blended with fruit or other things (mango and rose flavors were most popular) or can be served with salt and other spices that either have or have not been bloomed in oil to enhance flavor.

After chilling 24 hours

After chilling 24 hours

Given that this could really be frozen lassi instead of a buttermilk sorbet.  We shall not re-brand it now since the title has already been written… but it is a thought.

After churning in ice cream maker let solidify

After churning in ice cream maker let solidify

You need three ingredients, four if you wish to add the thyme.  I had some lemon thyme growing in the garden so I thought it would be a nice addition. I did have this wonderful lemon basil ice cream at Ici, a ice creamery in Berkeley. One could say both the lassi I had in my youth and the ice cream I had in Berkeley sparked this post.

Now its ready to serve

Now its ready to serve

The SF and Bay areas are not shy when it comes to their ice cream. They have some bold flavors and an aficionado could come here and die happy.  Along side Ici, there are Humphry Slocombe, Bi-Rite Creamery. These have more non traditional flavors. Mitchell’s Ice Cream in the Mission District gives a nod to Filipino flavors.  There is also Fenton’s Creamery in Oakland which is seen in the movie UP.  The latter is more of a traditional ice creamery, the former are worth a visit if you want to try something a little different. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list.  I am sure there are more establishments deserving a mention and if there are let me know about them.  Some field research will be in order even if detrimental to my waist line.

Just a little taste test before I offer it to everyone

Just a little taste test before I offer it to everyone

In the mean time please enjoy this very simple recipe. If you are lactose intolerant I am very sorry for this was fantastic, but you could easily make a sorbet without dairy.  I would never forget about my lacto friends…  see my blackberry pinot noir recipe.

Recipe: Meyer Lemon Thyme Sorbet or Frozen Lassi

Ingredients

  • 4 c buttermilk
  • 1.5 c sugar
  • .5 c lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp zest
  • 1/8 tsp thyme leaves or julienned basil (when using basil, soak bruised leaves overnight in buttermilk and remove before placing in ice cream maker)

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and chill overnight for flavors to develop.
  2. Use ice cream machine for 30 minutes and then freeze overnight in an air tight container with plastic wrap to keep air out.
  3. Enjoy. It tastes especially good with gingersnaps.

Preparation time:

Cooking time:

Number of servings (yield): 12

Upcycled Magazines Pages: Seed Envelopes and Seed Company Review

Upcycled magazine pages to homemade seed envelopes

Upcycled magazine pages to homemade seed envelopes

I wanted to share a beautiful, green way of reusing those glossy magazines we all have.

I am sure the least you do for the environment is to throw old magazines out for recycling but here is an idea straight from the mind of my cousin who I happened to impose upon for a weekend. Not only did she feed me but also sent me away with a plant, clothes, some seeds that she and her husband saved from their new found love of gardening… I am not sure where they got the influence from (wink wink)

Packaging bitter melon seeds

Packaging bitter melon seeds

It is an idea on how to reuse those beautiful glossy magazine pages when you are done with them. Most of my magazines are travel, food or home and garden, all keeping the in the same theme. Not that I don’t have those magazines that features celebrities with cellulite and the like but I think they would be best suited for another purpose.

Use any image that strikes you.

Use any image that strikes you.

Her hobbies include designing and sewing so she was no stranger to taking things apart and remaking them into better versions of what they were.  She used a a small envelope to make a pattern and you can do the same.

It is simple, just use old seed or any small envelope and remove the glue (steam helps) and break it down to its essential shape to serve as a template. Cut the shape out using whatever part of the magazine strikes you, crease in the same areas, and then a simple glue stick is used to make it back into a new envelope.

Bittermelon seeds. They look as ugly as the vegetable.

Bittermelon seeds. They look as ugly as the vegetable.

I was so proud she put my method to shame and inspired me to do better.  If you were wondering my method consisted of plastic baggies and label with a huge Sharpie marker I always have sitting in a cup in my kitchen.

I shared this with you with her permission.  I hope you enjoy this craft project and at the same time able to put your guests to shame when you send them off with a bitter melon seed that you saved from last year’s harvest as my cousin did me.. because isn’t that what it is really about? Of course I am kidding unless it is a competition then I am serious.

Rear of envelope

Rear of envelope

As a side note, if you are interested in Upcycling. Hipcycle is full of awesome ideas and also have items to purchase. You can reach out to the crunchy granola part that lives inside you and upcycle rather than recycle.  They actually have some nice things I have purchased to use and for fancy pictures in some of my blog entries.

 Seed Company Review

As another side note here are some seed companies I use in case no one has seeds to trade with me or if I fail at saving them from the season past:

Territorial Seed Company: Good for all general purpose seeds.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds: Have some fun and rare seeds. They have a beautiful Seed Bank in Petaluma, CA. It is a restored bank and physical seed store. I made a special trip at the excitement of my husband when I heard about this place. The descriptions are actually quite good for where these plants will grow best because lets face it we aren’t all in the Central Valley in California. I once found California strawberries in a supermarket in Thailand.

Kitazawa Seed Company: If you want to get your Asian on get seeds from here. These seeds are for those who wish to grow some non chain supermarket veggies. I use the term Asian loosely, it actually has seeds for many vegetables but those that are familiar in the cuisines of Asia, Pacific Islands and India

and

Solana Seeds: I have never ordered from this but if you want to dial up the pretentiousness this seed company has no catalog, use only craft envelopes and have the directions in French only.  I had to include this when I read that.

Check back, I might add some more as I try different seed companies.

Blackberry Pinot Noir Sorbet

Blackberry Pinot Noir Sorbet

Blackberry Pinot Noir Sorbet

I was told I could not make anymore jam from our crop of blackberries this year.

Served with a lemon shortbread cookie

Served with a lemon shortbread cookie

I was slightly relieved since the last thing I wanted to do was stand over a boiling vat of berries due to the summer heat that we have been having.  It gets pretty hot here. We are used to it for the most part but no reason to make matters worse and elevate the temperature when it is in the moderate 90s.

Straining the cooked blackberries and sugar

Straining the cooked blackberries and sugar

I rummaged around the kitchen and took a look at the cook books and internet and thought what could possibly be better than blackberry jam which also happens to be my favorite?  Well, factoring in the heat and the fact that I have been craving cool light foods… sorbet was the answer.

After the addition of all the ingredients, chill overnight to develop flavors

After the addition of all the ingredients, chill overnight to develop flavors

I wanted another dimension to the sorbet since the blackberries were particularly sweet.  I needed something else for depth of flavor.  I thought some wine would be perfect.   I sometimes cook with a limited attention span.  I was staring at the wine bottles when I came up with this.

Churning away in the ice cream maker

Churning away in the ice cream maker

Whatever the reason it did not matter. It mattered that it worked. I am not sure if the addition of the wine helped the texture but this sorbet came out very velvety. I think I might have added a bit more sugar than was necessary but you can adjust that to your liking.

Out of the freezer

Out of the freezer

Recipe: Blackberry Pinot Noir Sorbet

Ingredients

  • 4 c. blackberries
  • 1.5 c sugar
  • 1 c pinot noir wine
  • 1.5 c water
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients except the lemon juice in a pot and cook on medium heat and stir and mash the berries 20 minutes.
  2. Pour in a blender and blend for a minute. Strain in fine mesh stainer and then chill in fridge until cold or overnight for flavors to develop.
  3. Use ice cream maker and freeze in a covered pan with plastic wrap on top to keep out air until hardened or overnight

Preparation time: 45 minute(s)

Cooking time: 20 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 12