Make Over

The Tiny is getting a redo. We’re going to be a little bit bigger. Unified hardwood with the rest of the house. A little more countertop made from concrete. Undercounter fridges and a big ass sink. Right now it’s a mess and I’m exhausted so I won’t finish my post on Kamut. Instead I’ll show you pictures. Of the mess. I’ll update when things are looking more kitchen-like and maybe I’ll finish my other posts. Cheers!

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extraction
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bringing reclaimed hardwood into the original kitchen space; spending a little quality time with the 80 yr old subfloor
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cement work is detailed
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the pour; can you imagine ever cooking in this space??

Resolution for January 2

I do resolutions throughout the year. Last year, I had a New Year’s Resolution for December 27, 2015. It didn’t have anything to do with cooking. My resolution for today does: plan better lunches for the weekend. Guess what? I resolved for today and I achieved my goal!

Saturday Lunch
Saturday Lunch

How pretty is that? During the week, Spouse usually takes dinner leftovers-don’t worry, they are really good and I’m usually jealous-while Junior & I get what I’ve foraged from the fridge or freezer or from stopping by PCC after karate, or I forage and he makes himself some Annie’s Homegrown Mac/Cheese. Weekday lunches will get their own resolution to improve, but it’s the weekends that are the most problematic. We’re all home doing projects, I’ve thought about food all week, I’ve managed something for breakfast, and I’m planning something maybe more labor intensive for dinner and I’m asked: What’s for lunch? A simple question. Drives me batty. I don’t want that negative energy, don’t want remodel monies going to take out, I’m here, I love to cook, so plan for it. This minestrone is so easy & I already was baking bread that could go with. Having the pantry items of cannellini & tomatoes, the fresh onion, garlic & carrot, and the celery seed pounded with salt are standard, why not eat this for every winter Saturday lunch? We just might! Cheers!

Minestrone Soup                               

Preparation time: 15 minutes     Cooking time: 30 to 40 minutes        Serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium red onion, chopped

2 medium carrots, peeled and diced

1 large celery stalk, diced (or about 1/4 teaspoon pounded celery seed)

Pinch of red pepper flakes

1 clove garlic, minced

1 ½ teaspoons salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 (14 ½-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained and finely chopped (save liquid)

1 large potato, diced

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

5 cups water, as needed

1 (10-ounce) bag frozen green beans (or anything green-kale is awesome!)

¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Place a large pot on the stove over medium heat. Pour the olive oil into the pot. When the olive oil is warm, add the onions, carrots, celery, red pepper flakes and garlic. Stir the vegetables to coat with oil. Stir in the salt and pepper. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes, until the onions begin to turn golden.

Add the tomatoes, potatoes, beans, rosemary, the saved tomato liquid and about 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let the soup cook for 15 minutes. Test the vegetables for tenderness.

During the last 5 minutes of cooking, add the frozen green beans. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed.

Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan.

 

 

 

New Year, New Theme

Good morning! It’s 2016 and I’ve given this blog a new look. As with many new beginnings for me, I want things clean and tidy and organized, flat surfaces cleared so my thoughts can flow. This new year has my tiny kitchen getting a small overhaul of its own. We’re expanding it a bit, adding more counter space, changing the cabinets and countertop, adding a larger sink and moving the fridge to undercounter. I hope it’s done by early February. For now, I’m working in a temporary basement space, a space that will someday be a kitchenette on purpose. This is several steps ahead of camping, and way ahead of cooking in a standard hotel room, a tiny spot with less distraction. I’ll post pictures in a while. For now, hold the past with grace and the future with hope. Happy New Year!

Æbleskiver

The food highlight for me this Christmas was the Æbleskiver I learned to make at Birgitte Antonsen‘s Christmas In Denmark class. After assisting Birgitte in her 2014 class, I was sure I would make these fun holiday treats. That did not happen. After assisting again this year, I was adamant that Æbleskiver would be part of our festivities. And it was-twice!

Christmas Eve afternoon, my parents came over for tea, Apples to Apples, treats, and gift giving. I had the batter proofing, the pan heating, the butter melted, and the powdered sugar ready for sprinkling. The batter is pancake-like, but yeasted. Brigitte uses whole grain spelt flour in her recipe and only 1 tablespoon of sugar. I made the batter with Kamut-surprise!surprise!- adjusting the amount down to account for how thirsty Kamut can be, and I used coconut palm sugar. aebelskiver 2

When the pan is hot, spoon a little melted butter into each round, then fill each round with almost too much batter. After the batter has set, use a wooden skewer to gather the overfilled batter back into the round, and work the cooked underside around so that the raw batter can meet the hot pan. Continue to rotate the now round, so all sides get in contact with the hot Æbleskiver pan. When golden brown all around, remove the pancake/fritter/Danish Holiday Treat to a plate, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with strawberry jam. Our Christmas Eve batch turned out great but Spouse & I both wanted just a bit more sweet and I wanted a bit more cardamom.

Not on our original Christmas Brunch menu, I whipped up more Æbleskiver batter to share with my in-laws. I did add 1 more tablespoon of coconut palm sugar and increased the 1 teaspoon cardamom by 1/4. These little things were good! Addictively good! For next year’s holiday, I will have strawberry jam in my freezer to serve with these treats. Happy Holidays!aebelskiver 3

ps. If you’d like to learn to make Æbleskiver, sign up for PCC Cooks email list. Birgitte’s class will hopefully be offered next Fall. Registration opens for Fall around the end of August, and we all know that time does fly.

Pancake Star Wars

Junior received a set of Star Wars pancake molds for Christmas. We tried them out using our usual batter ratios, but with 100% Kamut. I didn’t read the instructions and realized after the batter was all over the first set that I should have sprayed a little something on the mold. Those pancakes went directly to the chickens. The next set, a Millennium Falcon and X-Wing turned out, except that the X-Wing looks more like a starfish:IMG_0376

The next pair, a Tie Fighter (or Tie Interceptor) and a Millennium Falcon looked pretty good (as compared to my very unstaged stove top):IMG_0374

until I tried to flip the Tie Interceptor Fighter. It crashed hard:IMG_0375

Of the 3 shapes, the Millennium Falcon was the simplest and most sure to have recognizable results. Junior had fun but what a pain to clean these things! These are the types of gadgets that seem too good to be true in their super cute packaging on the shelves at Williams Sonoma.  When the pushing gets to shoving, when the batter actually hits the griddle, it’s not really very cute. We’ll use them again; maybe we can produce some stop motion breakfast battle movie.

I was very happy with the Kamut, which produced crazy fluffy, crazy light results. I did make this batter thinner than I usually do, what with using the molds. And I didn’t drop any frozen blueberries or raspberries onto the cooking batter like I usually do. If you’ve not tried raspberry pancakes, you really should.

Here’s how the batter happened today:

Kamut Pancakes

8 oz Kamut flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons butter, melted

2 eggs

8 oz kefir

8 oz milk

Preheat a griddle or pan. I love using cast iron. In a larger bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, eggs, kefir, and milk. When the pan is ready, ladle out 1/3-1/2 cup batter. After the pancake gets bubbled, flip it.

Serve with syrup or jam or apple butter or apple slices sautéed with butter and cinnamon or add yogurt to the pancakes with any of these other things, it’ll all be good!

 

Ratio

I’ve made pasta for a while. I learned with cup measures, translating those to my scale, but still using a number of eggs rather than the weight of eggs. That changed recently when I read Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio. Ratio goes behind the cups & weights to the relationship of the ingredients with each other. For me, this revolutionized pasta. With a 3 to 2 ratio, I now weigh the eggs IMG_7201first than add 1 1/2 times that amount of flour. Whether the large organic eggs I bought are on the small end of the grade, or if I’m using Beatrice’s generous large offerings, it makes no difference; the pasta dough is perfect, every time.

This day the pasta was for lasagna. I roll the sheets thin for lasagna, creating 4 or 5 layers in the baking dish. The pasta melts together with the béchamel, mozzarella, and simple tomato sauce, a recipe that I first learned from Iole Aguero. I make the pasta using mostly white whole wheat flour, rolling with a hand-crank Atlas Pasta Machine, and not letting the dough dry before IMG_7205assembling the dish. The tomato sauce is best using fresh cherry tomatoes at the height of summer. The flavor explodes! During non-peak tomato season, I use BioNaturae’s bottled strained tomato, simmering a few crushed garlic cloves and red pepper flake, adding basil chiffonade at the end of cooking if I have any on hand. Béchamel is béchamel. Make whatever version you love. Iole’s lasagna uses four cheeses and is very decadent. I use only two: mozzarella and parmesan, partly because I’m cheap and partly because I like this to be more than just a special-occasion dish. I will even use a meat sauce if I have extra, IMG_7203or if I’ve made a bolognese and want to go the extra steps to lasagna instead of just to tagliatelle. Assemble the dish with a hint of sauce along the bottom of the dish, followed by pasta sheets cut to fit, then more sauce, béchamel, and cheese. Repeat until your dish is full and cheese reigns over all.

As with many of the foods I want to write about, I take pictures during the process but forget to take pictures on the final product. Regarding lasagna, with the counters wiped and the saucepans cleaned, the aromas begin wafting from the oven, it’s dinner time. The table is set and we tuck in. Only after stowing leftovers into the fridge do I slap my forehead Homer Simpson Style, realizing I didn’t finish the photos. Oh well. It was delicious. Try the ratio. I think you’ll be pleased.

Fika

In October, two of my three nieces spent 3 weeks in & around Sweden, France, and the UK. The first leg of their trip was Göteborg & Stockholm. After photos of their arrival, the cobbled streets and brightly colored buildings around their inn, Instagram lit up with photos of Fika. I had never heard the term Fika so turned to Google. Much more than coffee break, Fika embodies the social, the gathering of friends, accompanied by coffee and, usually, something sweet. Growing up the child of a Norwegian Grandmother and Swedish Grandfather, my parents, aunts & uncles ALWAYS had coffee break-mid morning and mid afternoon. The idea that coffee break was an actual Thing, a big deal, a Swedish phenomenon even, tickled me. My niece at home found this book, which I promptly ordered, and with more pictures from my Eurotravelers, began investigating Fika.

Stocking up on cardamom, I first explored Johanna Kindvall’s Vetebullar. Always one to throw whole wheat flour into everything I make, the first batch didn’t respond well. The second batch made true to recipe, white flour and all, was amazing. I tweaked the third batch with half whole grain and while it was ok, wasn’t like that second batch. On my baking docket is a fourth batch of Vetebullar, one to incorporate my new-found love: Kamut.

After getting the vibe of the recipes, I turned to Tartine Book No. 3 for more. No. 3 is the culmination of Chad Robertson’s time in Scandinavia, exploring different grains, studying and creating with native bakers. With two-thirds of the book devoted to bread, and bread the reason I have the book, I forgot that the remaining recipes are pastry. Pastry using spelt and Kamut and barley and rye. These recipes, none overly sweet, fit easily into what I was reading about Fika. I arranged a baking day with Niece No. 1 and set a date for a Family Fika Event.

The Sunday following Thanksgiving had the World Travelers, most of my family and in-laws, gathered in the afternoon. We pulled espresso drinks for all, ate Vetebellar Twists & Rolls, Chamomile-Kamut Shortbread, Kamut-Walnut Shortbread, Fig-Walnut Cookies, Cardamom Einkorn Crumb Cake, an allergen-free Chocolate Sunflower Cookie, with a few other offerings. We talked and laughed and cheered on the Seahawks.IMG_0240

The Seahawks, and Fika, won.

 

Mix Up

I am a saver. I am not a hoarder, I have full ability to clean, purge, recycle, and toss, but I do hang on to things that I might need. I am currently reducing this collection of Might Need Someday, clumsily inching my way toward minimalism. My fridge and freezer reflect my attitude toward saving. Any usable leftover, be it tomato sauce, pinto beans, grated cheddar, or small chunks of mozzarella, can be found squirreled away in my freezer, a myriad assortment of Pyrex & Kerr & Deli containers. Items stay in the fridge if I know I’ll use in a day or two. This system usually works for me, but confusion or misidentification can happen.

My favorite story of incorrect freezer ID, was the lunch I sent to work with Spouse a few years back. It was post Thanksgiving and there were turkey leftovers in the fridge and I was certain I had mashed potatoes in the freezer. Still jammied in a dimly lit kitchen, I pawed around the freezer until I found that container with the frozen white mass inside. Success! I opened it, threw some turkey on top,  and packed it, the last item in Spouse’s lunch carrier. Later that day, Spouse sent what I thought was a rather cryptic email regarding his lunch, so I ignored as one of his less-than-better jokes. Pizza was on the menu for dinner and I readied my longer-rise partial Emmer pizza dough. When it came time to assemble ingredients, I pulled items from fridge and freezer: strained tomatoes-frozen, mushrooms-fresh, pesto & pepperoni-frozen, arugula-fresh, but I could not find the made-by-me mozzarella that I knew I had saved, the reason we were even having this meal, it was not in the freezer. A quick drive to QFC allowed me to purchase an inferior replacement, and pizzas were baking when Spouse returned home.

Ever so smug, Spouse quipped about more mozzarella, and described to me his lunchtime experience. He had heated up his lunch, but the mashed potatoes weren’t responding as they usually did. They were remaining pretty solid and frozen. He removed the turkey and heated the rest for a bit longer. When it was finally pliable, he realized instead of potatoes, I had given him a large, healthy portion of mozzarella cheese to eat with his turkey. Delicious. He ate it, finding it completely hilarious. I was mad that I didn’t get to use my beautiful cheese on the pizza, but eventually found myself laughing out loud at the faux pas.

Ok. So fast forward to this morning. In my fridge I had a baggy of butter bits, leftover butter from my current class, butter still papered but handled by kids so my assistants didn’t want it for themselves. I had taken it home, knowing I could use it in something baked. In the same fridge compartment as the butter bag, I had found another bit of something that I assumed was more butter, so all of it, plus a little more to reach 6 ounces, went into the bowl of fresh-ground Einkorn, orange zest, currants, kefir, and the leaveners. Scones for Junior on Veteran’s Day.

The scones mixed and baked up beautifully. I did however notice a small anomaly: some of the butter seemed to be coagulated rather than melted-how weird! I sampled a scone and the light crisp butter/flour magic was there, along with the slight of orange, the bit of currant-sweet and…what was that? The coagulated something was cheese! That extra bit I threw in? Parmesan. Not butter. It was a tiny amount so the scones aren’t so much savory as they are confusing. I’m hoping the jam Junior adds will cover my crime, an offense his taste receptors, if detected, will not appreciate. Oh well. Perhaps it’s time for a fridge system overhaul!

ps: this is the same scone I always make!

Mmmm sweet cheesy goodness!

Eat Cake

I have found a chocolate cake that I love. I have a simpler chocolate cake, an any day, make-on-a-whim chocolate cake that is really good, but this new one? It is very good. I found the recipe a few years ago on The Faux Martha, made the cake as written, in collaboration with my baker niece, Annie, for Spouse’s birthday. I collaborated with Ann because this cake uses an Italian Buttercream, a Salted Caramel Italian Buttercream. Planning a dinner party for 20 allowed me few extra neurons to devote to something I had never made before, something that sounded so-daunting. Annie, a caramel pro, produced a beautiful product with which we filled the cake before finishing with ganache. Despite the rave reviews and Annie’s reassurances to the contrary, that intimidating buttercream left the recipe to sit unceremoniously disheveled, piled in with all the Others on the shelf directly behind my office chair.

A few months ago, for reasons I can’t fully remember, the cake returned to my consciousness. Planning a baby shower for a dessert-loving co-worker, I knew I had to make this cake. This time I reduced the sugar a bit and used fresh-ground, whole grain einkorn flour. Einkorn, with its naturally lower gluten levels, produces an excellent pastry flour. Though any finished product might be a tad more dense, not sifting away the ground germ & bran keeps the protein levels high. Low gluten, high protein. Einkorn is crazy. I made a few iterations then my niece Betsey came over with her camera for Cake Day. Here’s what went down.food

A basic butter cake using natural cocoa powder, but with half & half rather than just milk.food-121

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I wanted a 6-inch by 6-inch square finished cake, so used a 12-inch square for baking. One recipe yielded four 3/4-inch layers. I reduced baking time, watching the oven closely, to account for the increased surface area.

The buttercream will have its own post, but while the cake baked, I made the caramel, ensuring time for some cooling before adding it to the whipped butter. I did find that if the caramel had cooled a bit too much, the buttercream became Toffee Buttercream, also delicious.food-57

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The ganache frosting is enriched with egg yolk and a small amount of butter, cooled, then whipped for a matter of seconds to incorporate a bit of air. If it goes grainy, you can rewarm, recool, rewhip.food-34

Finally, the layers were filled with buttercream, each pressing into the last. I chilled the cake, then finished with the ganache frosting.food-154

food-157Since Betsey is a photographer and nothing beats natural light, she set a charming garden scene for the finished photos. We didn’t cut this cake open. It was to be eaten the next day for a Nephew-FatherInLaw Combo Birthday. This, along with the other two cakes I made. It was, after all, Cake Day.food-13-2

I’ll leave you to use the recipe linked at The Faux Martha. If you want to try Einkorn flour, I used it ounce for ounce as the recipe is written. Enjoy!

Bakers Gotta

It’s been hot. This is Seattle and it’s been hot. Record-breaking, sleep-interrupting, Why-isn’t-everything-air-conditioned hot. The garden needs more water and extra shade. The lawn is already August-brown. The rhubarb and raspberries are in complete denial. My looks-great cement-everything patio radiates warmth well after sundown. We’ve filled the house with box fans. I can barely produce a meal. However, I love to bake. I miss baking. I am happy when I bake stuff. So I did. On the patio.

With this. IMG_6991

I made these.

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Quarter-size sheet pans, raspberries, blueberries, same old recipe, and a convection toaster oven. Life began to feel normal, less record-breaking, more me. Otherwise, I’m making a lot of kids-class versions of Doro Wat, Injera, Tomatican, Empanadas, and Picnic Chicken. In an air-conditioned, well-appointed, kitchen classroom.

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Happy July!