Recipes Made Better

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A swirl of truffle oil or walnut oil on green beans is really quite nice.  Some toasted slivered almonds or walnuts dressed with truffle salt is delicious.  And a bit of blue cheese and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar  elevates the green bean casserole from cream of something to fresh amazing.

Recipes are developed to appeal to the average palate but if you want to take your dishes from average to extraordinary, it really only takes a few changes to make your guests take pause as they eat.

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Pumpkin bread calls for cinnamon, but what about adding other spices from pumpkin pie spice?  Instead of vegetable oil sub out vanilla olive oil…or orange olive oil.  Add a handful of chopped candied ginger or chocolate chips.  It doesn’t change the basic recipe at all.  Vanilla salt replaces ordinary salt.  This makes pretty amazing pumpkin bread.

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Combine sesame oil with orange oil to dress salad.  Use smoked salt on mashed potatoes.  Add a little New Mexican red chili to sweet potatoes.  The sweet marshmallows and the smoky chili is bliss.  Cream chives into the butter.  Or cinnamon.  Have fun!  Cooking is an exploration of the human palate, a sensual dance of sweet, sour, spice, umami, and savory, far from average.  And eating with loved ones is food for the soul.

Here’s to family, friends, gratitude, and dreams come true.  Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

 

 

 

The Forest Feast and the Underground Supper Club

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I have found the most beautiful cookbook.  It is called “The Forest Feast” by Erin Gleeson.  You can taste the food and smell the forest and celebrate with friends as you flip the pages.  Cool cocktails and interesting takes on vegetables wooed me into the check out line with it.  I have spent hours lost in its pages.

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I bought it to challenge me.  Sometimes I make the same vegetables in many of the same ways as I always have.  Corn with butter and salt.  Broccoli with  uh…butter and salt.  How about broccoli roasted then tossed with blue cheese and pine nuts?  I served this dish with curried salmon and salad when friends came to dinner and the dish positively melts in your mouth and screams for great red wine.  Cauliflower steaks with cheddar and chives.  Cucumber and strawberry salad.  Paprika and cinnamon crispy carrot slices.  Sangria.

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It inspires me, as so many things out there do.  Shyanne and I have long dreamed of a supper club.  Wildflower and Fawn, after our respective Native names, would be its moniker.  Supper clubs are frowned upon when serving wines and food in a non-commercial kitchen and charging.  But, yet we dreamed.  Four courses, from scratch, organic, local ingredients, wine pairings, my creative take on main and side dishes, and Shyanne’s extraordinary flair for desserts.  A multi-star experience of fresh flowers, laughter, fine china, and delicious food and drinks.  A quarterly event.  A way to express our inner chef/sommelier/baker/entertainer without the restaurant.

The first one filled up in a matter of days.  The next is Memorial Weekend.  The ideas and inspiration keeps gathering force like stardust, and enchantment is all around.

 

Dinner and Movie Night-Spice and Herb Fish, Artichokes, and Spiced Cocktails

Dinner and a movie at home is one of our favorite “dates”.  Today we will make spice and herb stuffed fish with artichokes and a gingery, fruity cocktail.  The movie is “Burnt” with Bradley Cooper.  We loved it.  We love all foodie movies though.  This one was fast and fun and made our mouths water.

The Cocktail- This cocktail began a year and a half ago as my intern, Ethan, and I loaded a two quart jar with fresh peppermint, apple halves, and good rum as a Christmas present for Doug.  It is sweet and syrupy and delicious but certainly regular rum, or alcohol omitted all together, would be fine.

The base is delicious alone, really.  Load a pot with slices of ginger, turmeric, oranges, and fresh mint.  Drizzle in a generous amount of honey.  Pour over about four cups of water and simmer for one hour.  This mixture can sit in the refrigerator after it is done.

Rodney and Pat gave us a Soda Stream machine which carbonates water.  It makes fun “pop” and cocktails.

Fill a high ball with ice, pour in one or two ounces of rum, then half and half carbonated water and base.

The Artichokes- I do hope you indulge in artichokes.  They are completely delicious and nutritious and fun to eat!  Clip off any sharp points on the outer leaves as well as the top quarter inch.  Trip stem to one inch.  Place in boiling water with half a sliced lemon, 1 teaspoon of sea salt, and two cloves of garlic and simmer for 40 minutes.  Drain and cool.

To eat, peel off leaves and pull bottom part through teeth to get meat off.  As you get closer to the center the leaves get more tender and you will eat the lower third of them.  When you get to the center spoon out the fuzzy part and enjoy the whole heart and stem.

To make dip, place a quarter cup of mayonnaise and sprinkle with your favorite season salt.  I love the Market All Purpose seasoning from Savory.  It is full of smoky paprika.

The Fish- I used trout.  I love trout but any good fish will work.  Sprinkle inside of fish with garlic salt and lemon pepper.  Add 1/2 teaspoon of curry powder and grate 1/2 teaspoon of ginger and 1/4 teaspoon of grated turmeric and spread on inside of fish.  Stuff with sprigs of Thai basil, green onion, and peppermint (or whatever you have on hand).

Melt 1 Tablespoon of butter and 2 Tablespoons of oil (I used a flavorful orange and chili oil from Germany) in a frying pan.  Add fish and cook covered for 8 minutes.  Flip and cook another 5 minutes or until fish is cooked through.

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From my kitchen window, the snow is over a foot high and it is still blowing and snowing.  Another movie and foodie night might be in order!  Happy Eating, Friends.

 

 

 

 

Picking Personas (and cookin’)

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I knew it wouldn’t be long before I came up with another hair brained scheme.  It would take awhile to institute it and I have no idea how to make it happen but I do have a dream of a type of supper club.  Whether it be at a restaurant after hours or in our home once a month I can’t be sure.  It would include no more than three tables, very romantic, beautiful music, set five course meal for one price.  Wine pairings would be included and the meal would end with one of my daughter, Shyanne’s amazing baked confections.  All housemade specialties, local and seasonal produce and ingredients, nothing artificial, everything perfectly seasoned and paired.

I am not sure how so much complexity and personas can be in one person.  How can I be just as fascinated with being a mountain mama hermit as I am a high profile sommelier?  I am as comfortable in long dresses and old fashioned aprons as I am in stilettoes and a pencil skirt.  I love the entertainment of the city as well as the old farm truck and chickens in the country life.  I am a talented herbalist, have learned from shamans over the years, love food and wine and entertaining as well as gardening and chickens too.  I have taught, modeled, danced, and owned a quaint little shop.  I devour Country Living magazine and Food and Wine magazine each month with the same intensity.  Surely these things can all culminate into one lifestyle and profession?  Which persona to choose?  The vagabond hippie?  The chef that carries truffle oil around everywhere?  The music pastor?  The shaman/herbalist?  The food critic?  The housewife hermit?  Wouldn’t it be nice sometimes if we were a smidge simpler in design?

I was walking past a restaurant that is locally owned by a man that I have done farmer’s markets with for years.  We started the same time, sold similar products for a time, quit our jobs at the same time, moved to the country at the same time, now he still does lots of markets and runs a restaurant.  As with all the roving vendors at the market we had a bit of a love/hate relationship and hearty competitive nature as well as a reverent respect for each other’s craft.

Mark walked out of the restaurant and directly towards me and asked if I would like to cook at the restaurant.  I said no because I heard he yelled.

“Are you going to yell at me?” I asked.  He replied that he could not promise that he wouldn’t.  I told him that I cry if yelled at then throw sh#t. (Maybe I have been watching too much Hell’s Kitchen.)  He said fine.  I also told him I would be the worst employee because I never know my daughter’s schedule until the last minute and don’t know when I would be able to work.

“That’s fine,” he replied again.

I start Tuesday.