the other day i had a reeeeeeal craving for some indian food - palak paneer to be specific - but out in the sticks there is nary an indian joint. looks like i'd have to tackle it myself.
luckily the spice corner is just a hop, skip and a jump from my place of employment so the martini and i hit it up one afternoon after work. it rocks! $11 got me several different spices and herbs and paneer! woohoo! $2 for a big, frozen chunk of paneer!
armed with my paneer and new spices and manjula's wisdom i headed home to make my very own indian cuisine for the very first time.
it was easy!! and it turned out amazing!! even skeptical mike who asked, "is this like tofu? is it going to be a real meal?" liked it. woohoo! palak paneer is in the arsenal!
after the first couple of frosts i realized that i needed to complete a final harvest out in the garden. i picked all the onions and they are currently curing in the garage on a tarp. this weekend i'll stuff 'em into some pantyhose and hang 'em in the basement. i've never stored onions before - it's an experiment!
i also picked all the leeks, cut a bunch of kale and pulled all the rosemary.
i washed and dried the rosemary and cut off the root ends. then i shoved it all into a freezer bag and stuck it in the freezer. sources say it will last and taste close to fresh. we shall see. it's an experiment!
we have eaten a ton of it this summer/fall and we'll continue to eat it into the winter! i removed the stems, washed, chopped, blanched, shocked and froze this kale in several small freezer bags. plus the kale is still kickin' out there! i'll probably freeze some more!
here's a sink full o' leeks!
with a few of these i tried out a recipe i found for horseradish creamed leeks. i love horseradish. i love cream. and i love leeks. seemed like a winner!
while the butter was doing its thing i washed the leeks and cut them down the middle but not all the way through.
mmm...leeks, butter and cream.
another look. mmm....
i removed the leeks from the pan and put them in gratin dishes. i stirred in a big blop of horseradish and some parmesan cheese into the buttery creamy sauce. then i poured the creamy source over the leeks and added a lil' more parmesan on top for good measure.
these went under the broiler for a just a few minutes until they were brown and bubbly.
man oh man. i wish i had a photo to show you but this looked and smelled so killer that we scarfed 'em down without a thought of capturing an image.
early this summer mike's dad gave us some sad lookin' leek starts. very sad. so sad in fact that i didn't think they would make it. but they did! they thrived! and we've had leek and potato soup and i've used leeks in all kinds of dishes and then i discovered braised leeks. mmmm.....
i halved the leeks, washed them really well and seasoned them very liberally with salt and pepper. i also chopped up a couple of small red onions (shallots would be great too) and some fresh thyme (all from the garden!!)
i seared the leeks in a smokin' hot pan with a lil' butter and olive oil until they got nice and brown.
i moved the leeks to a couple of gratin dishes and then added the onions to the hot pan. i cooked them for just a minute and then added some veggie stock and a lil' red wine to deglaze the pan. i let this reduce till it thickened up and then poured it over the leeks and topped it with some thyme.
these went into the oven for about 30-40 minutes and while those were braising in the yummy sauce i worked on the rest of dinner.
final menu: grilled flank steak with chimichurri, sauteed cabbage, braised leeks and roasted brussel sprouts. delicious!!
here are some things from warmer and sunnier days past. don't get me wrong. i do enjoy the fall. i just hate to say good bye to all of the wonderful produce and the fresh herbs and working in the garden and sitting at the farmer's market. sigh.....
c'est la vie.
awww...i remember this. it only happened once. our tomatoes fared pretty poorly. it was really disappointing. i canned some yellow sauce - 3 pints. i canned some crushed tomatoes - maybe like 6 mints and i ate the smaller ones on salads and grilled and as snacks.
i also picked two big bags of "paste tomatoes" from mike's aunt and uncle and roasted them. oh. my. goodness. these are awesome! even the ones i cooked too long that turned black still tasted good. one batch turned out perfectly and i froze a quart of them.
oh! speaking of freezing - we finally got a nice stand up freezer. the entire top shelf is fruit! i am so proud. sour cherries, peaches, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries. cobblers and jams will get a round II. woohoo!
crackers!! easy. and telling people you made your own crackers makes you look cool.
this is an egg. we get them every single day(!) now - usually three a day. yesterday, for the first time ever, we had over a dozen in our fridge!
delicious. i roasted two big shoulders in a mixture of scallions, garlic, ginger, pineapple juice, spices and several other things that i forget now pretty much all day.
another basket from the garden. the brussel sprouts and kale are still going strong and probably will for a while longer. we also still have some more sweet potatoes to dig up and those have been really tasty.
from baskets of fresh picked vegetables to vats of crisco!
a couple of days ago we dispatched two of our roosters. one went into the freezer and the other became fried chicken and chicken scalloppini.
here's the fried chicken. very tasty.
hard boiled eggs in salads have to be one of my very favorite things. add big, homemade croutons from thick, stale bread and i am fucking set. and look at those yolks! bright orange - not that pale, weird yellow that turns gray. you know what i'm talking about. buy fresh eggs! totally worth every cent and the minor inconvenience of tracking them down.
*hops off soap box*
kale. you've seen it. we still eat it. a lot.
oh. this hot mess became totally awesome seared tomato sauce. very, very good. winey and caramelized. i loved it.
i even spent my toilet-scrubbing-money on a bitchin' food mill and made it a second time (doubled the recipe) and froze a big bag of it. yum!
this was a sunday dinner - braised venison shank. i made an herb bundle of thyme, rosemary and parsley and braised the shank in red wine, veggie stock, carrots and onions for like 3 hours or so.
i don't know. meh. the sauce was better than the meat. i don't know. maybe longer on lower heat and some more liquid. we'll see.
and one of the great joys in life - oysters.
they are usually $7/dozen at klein's so every now and then on the friday of pay week i stop and pick up a dozen - sometimes two.
a lil' hot sauce, some cilantro and some fresh shaved parmesan cheese - grilled in the shell for just a minute. good lord! my $20 grill never ceases to amaze.
and the drunken sailors were just the beginning!
aNw and kMw gave us a bottle of patron as a host/hostess gift for the pig roast. mike hid it that night so no hooligans would see it and then we completely forgot about it until he came across it while cleaning the garage months later. woohoo!
and that is why i stopped and got oysters the next night!
we also enjoyed grilled summer squash and tomatoes and oysters on the half shell with horseradish. yum!!
argh! how i will miss walking outside and grabbing vegetables and herbs to toss on the grill. i will miss it so much.
in the meantime i'll sip oktoberfest and cider and rum and i'll dine on soups and stews and crusty breads and i'll carve pumpkins and eat squash and enjoy my vest.
why? well, first of all my laptop took a big ol' crap and i can't connect to the interwebs. secondly, mike's laptop sucks and half the keys don't work so you have to use the on-screen keyboard which blows and takes forever.
i'm also busy canning and freezing and drying and reading and writing and planning.
the impending nuptials are planned for next summer and it turns out there is quite a bit to think about.
i'm still cooking and we're still eating i just haven't taken the time to photograph it and document it.
we are enjoying loads of brussel sprouts - the best thing our garden has produced all summer - and tonight we have a date night planned.
and by date night i mean slaughtering and butchering four roosters. man oh man i can't wait to say au revoir to those cocks. i am sick of them crowing and crowing all day and night and i am even more sick of them raping the poor little hens.
speaking of hens - we got our first egg last week.
so far we collected probably 8 or 9 eggs and boy are they delicious. this morning i had a dippy egg breakfast sandwich on wheat bread with swiss cheese. and yesterday i had a breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, cheese, leftover flank steak, cilantro and hot sauce. mmm!!
i have a real craving for some good fried chicken. goodbye cocks. hello fried chicken!
jam. jam. jam. it's what i do. pretty much all the time.
for the last several years i have given jam as christmas gifts but i never really paid attention to the seasonality of the fruit. so, in december i'd go up to the market and load up on strawberries, raspberries and blackberries never even considering that they were shipped in from who knows where. and since the jam tasted good and people liked it i never gave it a second thought.
but jam made with seasonal, delicious ohio fruits....man oh man! what a difference! i feel better getting fruit from farmers, friends and family close by and the taste is really off the charts.
the only problem - there is a small window of time for each fruit so you gotta get a lot of it and can, can, can all you can while the window is open.
i bought 10 pounds of blueberries. two of these boxes.
i made blueberry jam, blueberry lemon jam and blueberry syrup. i also froze a bunch and we ate them in cobblers, pancakes and by the handful.
i bought a ten pound bucket of sour cherries in their own juice. i made cherry sauce (soooo good on ice cream!) and cherry jelly. i also made a clafoutis, a cobbler and i froze some for later.
we got blackberries from mike's folks. i made blackberry jam, blackberry syrup and peach blackberry sauce. more cobblers.
here's some blackberry jam from start to finish.
the latest fruit is peaches. mmm! sweet, juicy ohio peaches.
look at these beauties!
this is after i quickly blanched, shocked and peeled them.
the first project i attempted was a peach blackberry jam. i came across a recipe for blackberry apricot on my favorite new blog so i thought i'd adapt it a bit and use some peaches.
first i pureed the peaches.
then i squished some blackberries through a sieve to get rid of some of the seeds.
this was pretty delicious but it still hasn't set up so the tag reads, "peach blackberry sauce" not "peach blackberry jam." i did read (after making this) that you shouldn't puree fruit cuz it messes with their natural pectin. hmm...
i also canned some quartered peaches in a lil' simple syrup.
and i made peach jam.
and of course - more cobbler. peach blackberry...mmm!!
duck fest 2010 continued with a dish i've read about and eaten a zillion times but never tried myself - duck confit !
it's old school. and delicious!!
i made a rub of salt, pepper, fresh thyme and a couple of bay leaves. i rubbed down the duck legs and wings, wrapped 'em up tight and put in the fridge.
they sat in the "salt cure" for two days and then on the third i rinsed 'em, dried 'em and seared 'em.
mmm! nice, brown and crispy!
then the duck went into my single woman's dutch oven - nice and snug.
and now for the best part - the fat! i added all that wonderful fat i rendered earlier - enough to cover the duck - and put it in the oven.
and here it is after a couple of hours.
after the duck confit cooled i covered the pot and stuck it in the fridge. the duck, submerged in the fat, will last for quite some time. like months!
we couldn't wait that long but we did manage to wait a whole week!
i took the dutch oven outta the fridge as soon as i got home from work and let it sit on the counter for several hours. once the fat melted enough i removed the duck and rubbed off the salty, fatty goop before roasting it on a rack in the oven for about 20 minutes. this made the skin nice and crispy. mmm.
i served the duck confit straight up with a side of baby potatoes (roasted in duck fat of course!) and a swiss chard gratin.
practice makes perfect so i'll have to give this one another go. it was pretty salty. too salty. my salt cure was either too potent or it sat on the duck for too long. next time - less salt. another lesson learned.