Brunch: Ricotta, lemon and poppy seed pancakes. Dinner: “all appetizers,” per the Nancy’s request. Warm potato salad with radishes, parsley and green onions from the garden, roasted asparagus from the farmer’s market, hummus, and carrot sticks.
The pancake recipe is a special one from Betsy Devine, via my girlfriend Marfa. These are our “special occasion” pancakes, and they’re worth the little bit of extra effort (separating and whipping egg whites, etc.).
I whipped up a batch of hummus using a can of garbanzo beans and the juice from the lemon whose zest I stole for the pancakes. I used to be uptight about cooking from cans, but when you’re in a hurry (and don’t have any beans in the freezer, or don’t have time to thaw them), why not?
one can garbanzo beans
1/2 cup tahini
3 or 4 cloves garlic
Juice of two lemons
a couple glugs of olive oil
salt to taste
dash of cumin
pinch of oregano
paprika to garnish
Dump everything except the paprika into the blender and blend till smooth. Serve garnished with a puddle of olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika. Great for dipping veggies, bread or crackers. (And complete protein — legume + grain!)
Warm potato salad
The potato salad I winged with what we had on hand and in the garden and a sack of new potatoes from the pantry.
3 lbs. baby red potatoes, quartered
1 small bunch radishes, chopped
3 scallions, sliced< 1 handful parsley, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 tsp. Mustard seeds
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil potatoes until they are al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain and let cool a bit. Put potatoes in a large bowl and pour oil and vinegar over them, then mix with salt, pepper and mustard seeds. Add radishes, parsley, celery and scallions. Serve warm; refrigerate leftovers.
Nancy got us started on roasting asparagus years ago, and it’s pretty much the only way we do it now. It’s super easy, and super tasty.
1 bunch slender asparagus (I don’t like it bigger than a pencil)
Preheat oven to 425 (or convection oven to 400). Snap ends off asparagus, and arrange in a single layer on a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with salt. Roast until the tips are starting to caramelize, turning once or twice. Serve immediately, or put them in the fridge and serve chilled later.
We didn’t have a stove this Christmas, but Mr. E. got the new one installed just before New Year’s Day. I wasn’t exactly hoping for the old range to die, but it was a nice excuse to convert to gas in the new house. Life with a stove ist definitely better than life without. And cooking with gas beats the heck out of electric.
I feel like I’ve spent most of the last three days in the kitchen, and today I finally got to make tamales in the new house (we skipped them last year because we left for LA the day after Christmas).
Here’s how I made them this year:
Filling (use your imagination!)
6 cups masa harina
5 cups warm broth
2 cups shortening
2 T cumin
2 T chili powder
salt to taste
Soak corn husks in boiling water (I like to soak them for an hour). Mix masa and broth; let sit. Whip shortening in a mixer until it’s fluffy. Mix in masa/broth mixture and spices; salt to taste.
I mashed a sweet potato and a russet with a little milk and butter for filling, along with some refried beans. smear masa into the corn husks, put in a dollop of filling, roll ‘em up and steam ‘em standing up and covered with a layer of corn husks in a double boiler until they’re not doughy; about 2 hours. Serve with your choice of toppings/sides/garnishes. I usually do a green sauce and a mole; this year I’m keeping it simple with a little guacamole.
And since it’s New Year’s Day, not Christmas, we’re starting things off with a pot of hoppin’ john.
Black eyed peas
Salt and pepper to taste
Soak and cook black eyed peas. Saute onion and garlic, and add into cooked peas. Add salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste.
For the gardener, the end of summer brings the zucchini dilemma. It doesn’t freeze well, and once it starts, it really gets going. You end up doing things like leaving squash on neighbors’ porches, ringing their doorbells and running off. Or making zucchini bread, which is delicious, but not exactly what I need as I fight the middle-age spread.
I’ve always enjoyed summer squash stewed with tomatoes and onions, which Wacky Mommy calls ratatouille (I always just called it “what was ripe in the garden at the same time”). Tonight we tried something different, inspired by a recipe in my girl Marfa’s Whole Living magazine. Call it a composed ratatouille, if you will. Here goes:
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
4 roma tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 medium zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 medium purple potato, sliced 1/4 inch thick
Coarse sea salt
Preheat oven to 375.
Sauté onion in olive oil until just starting to caramelize. Spread these evenly in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.
On top of the onions, lay the slices of potatoes, tomatoes and zucchini in an overlapping, alternating pattern. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, fresh thyme leaves, and Parmesan.
Bake 30 minutes covered, then uncover and bake another 30 minutes. Test potatoes with a fork, and bake a little more if needed.
We also have an abundance of heirloom Chioggia beets, which I planted by accident two years ago, and decided they were my favorite. Tonight I roasted them for about 35 minutes with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. We rounded out the meal with some seasoned pinto beans (olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper) and brown rice.
Surprisingly simple to make, fun to look at, delicious and nutritious.
The kids and I made ravioli and cake poppers to fete the inimitable Wacky Mommy.
We were more than a week late, but we tried to make up for it with extreme yumminess, verging on decadence.
I don’t miss much about the house we left a year ago… but I do miss the garden. Our new yard was not ready for gardening last year when we moved in, but we’re working on it now. Here’s a Flickr set documenting our progress.
Birthday girl requested, in order: hash browns for breakfast, left over mom’s mac and cheese for lunch, spaghetti and potatoes o’brien for dinner, and a combo deal on the cake: one with coconut, one with chocolate frosting, both based on the old family pound cake recipe. And what goes with pound cake and coconut cake? Why, chocolate syrup, of course! Yum! (And yes, it is, in fact, the second time I’ve made birthday cakes in as many weekends. It’s a special time of year for us over here!)
We at Chez Wacky are long-time devotees of the Beaverton Farmers Market. It’s still the best market in the Portland metro area, both in terms of selection and shopping experience.
Here’s a little something I whipped up yesterday. Let’s call it:
The Market Cocktail, v. 1.0
- Fresh strawberries from Denison Farms in Corvallis, OR
- CranHoney sticks from Little Oak Farms in Cornelius, OR
- Chopin potato vodka
- 7-Up or sparkling water
Slice 3-4 ripe strawberries and muddle with contents of one CranHoney stick and as much vodka as you like to pour. Add ice and top with a splash of 7-Up or sparkling water. Enjoy with your lovely spouse, and toast the coming of summer!