Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Kitchen Nesting

Home at last!  Over the last nine weeks, I've spent far more time travelling than in my apartment.  In fact, if I've spent ten days at home since June, that would be a generous estimate.  Luckily, the tail end of my time away was all play and no work, and delightfully spent feasting on some of the freshest North Pacific fish and indulging in late-morning lunches that included delicious Kusshi oysters and chilled Prosecco.  Even considering the culinary gratification that came along with my travels, it sure is nice to be home. It should come as no surprise that since I'm back without any plans for long leaves of absence, I am nesting.  Some women nest by adding things around the house.  New pillows, pictures, decor of some kind.  Not me.  I do my nesting in the kitchen in the way of new recipes and old favorites.

Indeed as I write this I am baking a fresh loaf of cranberry walnut sandwich bread.  If you've read any of my past posts you would know that baking genuinely challenges me.  For some reason, I think I can alter a recipe by adding a little of this or swapping in a little of that and I ultimately ruin my end result. Maybe ruin is a bit harsh.  But most of my baking endeavors have made my husband look at me with his head cocked to one side as he forces the bite of muffin or cake down, and say as sweetly as he can muster, "Honey, baking just isn't your thing." He then always adds, "But you're a fantastic cook!"

While maybe I should devote some energy to self-acceptance, I'm not a girl that gives up all that easily.  I'm still quite determined to master this baking thing.  So, tonight it's bread. In the past my bread has turned out dry. Crumbly. It almost always requires a large glass of milk to wash it down. Something tells me this loaf will be different though... at least I hope it will. While I'm excited about the bread, I'm almost more eager about what's going between the bread.  See, all this nesting makes me crave cozy foods.  This time my cozy food thoughts led me to Thanksgiving fare: turkey, bread, cranberries, and apples.  While the traditional Thanksgiving sandwich is an all time favorite of mine, I wanted to make something a little more unique.  This sandwich layers honey roasted turkey, thick slices of triple-cream brie, gala apple slices and fresh greens between two slices of home made cranberry-walnut bread, then slathered with a chive mayonnaise.  It's grilled long enough to make the bread toasty and melt the brie until it oozes just the right amount.  The crunchy tartness of the apple is the perfect pairing with the mild and creamy brie.  The walnuts add texture and the cranberry gives an approving nod towards the familiar Thanksgiving sandwich. It truly takes the plain old turkey on white to new heights.

Now if only this nesting thing could just get me to organize my closet...

Cranberry Walnut Bread

  • I found the recipe shared by Bakingmecrazy on Recipes4Living. You can certainly purchase a similar loaf at your grocery store or bakery for a time saver.  

  • honey roast turkey breast 
  • thinly sliced gala apple
  • thick slices of brie cheese
  • your favorite lettuce 
  • chive mayo (just combine mayonnaise with chopped fresh chive)
Layer the ingredients on the bread, making sure the brie is on the bottom to ensure it gets enough heat to melt it just a little.  Spray a griddle with cooking spray and grill for a few minutes on each side, just until golden brown.  

Sunday, August 8, 2010

An Affair to Remember

I just fell in love with a farmer's market.  The problem?  It's thousands of miles from where I live.  In fact, it took two incredibly delayed flights totaling more than 7 hours to get there.  Don't get me wrong.  I dig my local markets.  I really do.  I can spend hours at Dupont Farmer's Market and if you've ever been there, you'd know it's not  big enough to spend hours at!  However, I'm in Seattle and I'm cheating on my local D.C. markets.  If you've been here, you may think the Pike Place Market is on the other side of this nefarious affair.  That would be a good guess, however, you'd be wrong.  I'm head over heels for Ballard Market.

The set up of the produce at Ballard Market alone was worth the the hassle of the transcontinental nightmare I endured to get here.  It was as if each and every vendor took a class in vegetable visual display, proudly bearing their spectacles of food porn for my viewing pleasure!  I simply couldn't take my eyes off it.  I enlisted my brother-in-law as my unofficial photographer for the day, thus ensuring I would remember just how beautiful everything was; from the multi-colored carrots to the patty pan squash to the brilliant bouquets of sunflowers.  Thankfully, he obliged me despite the fact that he can visit this market on his slightest whim if he chooses. What a lucky guy!

I delighted myself in samples of ginger honey caramels, saw my first donut shaped peach, and purchased the largest bunch of frisee I've ever seen from a farmer in the Wasatch Valley.  From the moment I arrived, I was giddy with culinary emotion.  I bought a jar of local, blackberry wildflower honey from Tahuya River Apiaries and was tempted to embrace the vendor who sold it to me for sharing with me his bottled beaker of bliss.  Zucchini and squash here, blueberries and blackberries there, fresh mozzarella and crisp romaine lettuce - ideas filled our heads faster than we could fill our canvas bags.  And fill our bags we did!

Arguably, the best part of our experience is yet to come.  We will prepare each ingredient simply and with as little tampering as possible, making them easy to taste the ultimate freshness of the flavors therein.  This evening's menu:  sweet and fat cherry tomatoes with uber-fresh mozzarella tossed with frisee and green leaf lettuce, fingerling potatoes in brown butter with fresh chive and parsley, grilled zucchini and squash, and organic, free-range chicken breasts bathed in a lemon-garlic marinade.  There may be nothing fancy about the meal, but I guarantee there won't be an unhappy or unsatisfied guest at the dinner table tonight.

Incidentally, right now the 2010 America's Favorite Farmer's Market contest is going on.  You have until August 31, 2010 to vote, so I request my loyal readers to get online and show some support for the farmers market love affair in your life.  It's easy and it's worthy of a few minutes of your time.  Our farmers and the markets they work with deserve some recognition for providing us with these nourishing and healthy treasures.

Wonder who I'm voting for?  Here's a hint: while I am smitten with Ballard here in Seattle, my heart remains at home.  After all, loyalty is a quality I sincerely value.  But tonight is about enjoying the fruits of the great farmers in this area area, and apologies to my Dupont market, but tonight it's just going to have to live with that.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

One detour, 3 salads

It's that time... my monthly post on Farm to Table.  

Here's a little excerpt to whet your appetite: 

My husband and I recently decided to road trip to the Virginia oceanfront and visit my niece. From the D.C. area, this is a trip that should take a few hours… unless it’s summertime, in which case it takes a few more hours. After sitting in traffic for about two hours, we were painfully aware of the fact that we’d only gone 45 miles. So we did what we’re glad not too many other people do: hopped off Interstate 95 and hit up a country road, leaving the congested, bumper-to-bumper world behind us. I couldn’t be more glad that we did.

Now mosey on over and check out the rest of the article- especially the three delicious salad recipes that are included!  Click here: One detour, 3 salads