September 28, 2012

whole spelt pasta



I've been experimenting more with spelt flour these days, using it for making our bread, and also for making the pasta we eat at home. In my current bread-making experience, in which I use a high-hydration dough with a natural leaven, spelt flour, with its lower gluten content, needs less moisture than wheat flour, and also tends to be a little looser or dodgier to handle when shaping before baking. But for making pasta, spelt flour is just as easy to work with as wheat flour, and I actually prefer its taste.

September 21, 2012

coffee crusted ahi tuna with curry cream sauce

For several days last week, the overcast and drizzly weather created this sort of slow, relaxed atmosphere. While I worked in the kitchen, it felt like all my movements had this meditative quality, and I was exactly in that moment and nowhere else. Perhaps it's the fall season beginning to sneak in, and that's okay with me. When I was growing up, summer was my favorite time of year for obvious reasons; no school and endless days of swimming and playing. During those days, I was easily lost in moments without notice of time passing until the day's end was signaled by the setting of the sun. But in the long years since then, fall, with its mellow feel has become the time of year I most enjoy, and maybe it echoes the time of life I'm in too. Dusk, when the sun begins to set, is my favorite time of day too, and a good meal is the best way to enjoy it.

This coffee-crusted ahi tuna is my husband's inspiration; I've tweaked it by adding a little lemon zest and contrasting its darkness with a creamy curry sauce. I usually serve the tuna with a side of whole wheat couscous that I've doctored up with sautéed onions, white wine, and dried mission figs, and then finish the plate with some roasted asparagus, sprinkled with some of the remaining lemon zest. Ahhh...the beginning of fall, dusk, and this dinner? That just about completes a perfect end of the day for me. That and a little bit of chocolate, of course.



September 14, 2012

pear and lavender butter

Seckel pears

The more food I make at home, the more I try to simplify or streamline the process. This means making the most of a few ingredients and yet still getting as much flavor as possible. Roasting is an easy way to intensify flavor in just about everything, and is a standard method in our kitchen for cooking chicken and vegetables. It's also a great approach to cooking fruit, and the technique I use to make this pear and lavender butter. For the roasting temperature, I took Mark Bittman's advice in How To Cook Everything Vegetarian, and then lengthened the time suggested to an hour to get a nice caramelization on the pears. The extra fifteen minutes was literally the golden ticket to flavor for the pears, creating a deep gold in the puréed butter.

September 7, 2012

hiro and the creatures in the garden



I admit, the whole incident was probably my fault. I'd let the herbs overgrow a bit too much because I just didn't feel like dealing with them. Even though I usually keep a tidy garden, and an eye on those wayward mint roots and the sneaky grass weeds, the abundance of herbs has been overwhelming. As it turns out, it's a good idea to keep things trimmed on a regular basis, because you never know what will decide to take residence among the overgrowth. When you have a garden, some creatures are to be expected, and even welcomed, and others, well, not so much.

So it happened one morning, as I looked out the window to the backyard, I spied Hiro, our dog and self-appointed garden monitor, chewing away on something that hung from both sides of his mouth. I opened the back door, realized he had a small rodent, and immediately shut the door as he headed my direction. I reviewed my options. My husband was at work; I was the sole responsible party. Lucky me. I grabbed a plastic grocery bag and a paper towel, went back outside, and began negotiations to retrieve the rodent. Hiro refused, respectfully, and hid the entire thing in his mouth. I stood and waited, pleading with him to "drop it." Since it's hard to stay still for long with a small rodent in your mouth, every so often Hiro re-distributed its position within his jaws, giving a brief glimpse of a head or a tail, and evidence that he actually had something in his mouth. It was hard not to laugh at his determination while demanding his obedience, and if anyone was watching, they probably enjoyed the free show of the stand-off between dog and human.