Chanterelles, and Marjoram Pesto Pasta

19 11 2009

So, maybe I can focus. Sometimes. On some things. Like food, for instance. Yep, shocker, I really like making stuff to eat and then eating it. I did that for about five hours yesterday. I didn’t eat all of what I made, though. Thankfully, on that front, I have help.

Yesterday was a good example of making the best of a terrible lapse in time management skills. I worked on computer things all day (interspersed with some knitting) and then had decided to go to yoga, which was at four. Now, consider that I’m still looking for a job. And consider that the only thing I had actually scheduled myself to do yesterday was yoga. I got all ready for yoga, and then for some reason (which I may never divine) I decided to kill a few minutes messing with this new mascara I bought. Right before yoga.

Please explain my brain to me.

I mean, the mascara is great. I like it a lot. But I don’t need to put it on for yoga, for pete’s sake. Anyway, I went to close my computer and hop on my bike to find that I had wasted some ungodly amount of time on this mascara and now was never, ever going to make it to yoga in time. Good job, Kirsten. When you miss your daily exercise, there’s only one thing to do: go to the grocery store and then cook up a storm. Yep, if you can’t work it off, put some extra in, that’s what I say.

Okay, in all seriousness, I needed to get some staples and the ingredients for a cobbler and some jalapeno cornbread for our impending craft night (hooray). I really sort of enjoy the experience of wandering around a grocery store by myself; I feel more able to browse and come up with recipes as I walk around. I like going with company, too, but going alone is a different experience altogether. I went to a grocery to which I’d not been, and enjoyed it pretty thoroughly. There were a lot of local options, far more than anywhere else I’ve been thus far, and I was able to secure what seem to be local, humane, vegetarian, hormone- and antibiotic-free eggs, milk, and butter. This is great for me, as previously I’ve felt a bit lost at supermarkets around here.

I found these:

Chanterelles! I’ve never had the chance to cook them before. So I made chanterelle mushrooms and brussels sprouts sauteed in champagne vinegar and butter, threw in some field roast apple-sage vegetarian “sausage” (seriously the best stuff out there, and not nearly as processed as you think it is), and served it over a bed of marjoram pesto star-pasta (like chicken and stars, because I’m seven and I like the shape) with a side of roasted turnips. And then a friend came and had dinner with me! And another stopped by on the way home. I think one of the best parts of cooking is the communality of sharing a meal, and I’m lucky to have people to share with.

So, how bout a recipe? Today I’m going to share a recipe for marjoram pesto. It’s easy, and it will blow your mind. Marjoram is one of my very favorite flavors.

  • 1 bunch marjoram, about a handful, leaves removed from stems
  • 1/4c pine nuts
  • 1/2c grated parmesan cheese
  • olive oil, roughly 4 tbsp, but use your judgment
  • 1/2 tsp salt or more to taste
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 5-6 leaves basil

Put everything in a food processor and blend it till it’s smooth. Put it on your pasta. Thank me later. Yeah, that was difficult, right? Okay, okay, one quick thing: if you think it needs more olive oil, do it! Also, to actually make the pasta, I drained the stars, put them back in the pot, added about 1 tbsp of butter, stirred that in with another 1/4c or so of grated parmesan, and then added the pesto.

I’ll post a baking-themed entry later about all my cranberry escapades yesterday evening! I baked 2 different tasty cranberry desserts and I can’t wait to tell you about them. Teaser:


Zen Knittin’ and Pancakes

18 11 2009

I should warn you ahead of time that I took no photographs of the pancakes.

I finally went to the giant fabric store here with a friend, and I bought no fabric. However, I did buy a TON of yarn that was on sale, as well as some embroidery supplies, because I couldn’t bring my sewing machine with me yet and thus needed crafty things to do that in no way require the machine. My friend has been nice enough to volunteer hers for use, which is awesome! but I want some projects for when I’m at home, too.

Exciting news from crafting-land, by the way – we’re starting an arting and crafting group which I believe will be every other Wednesday. I’ll post some photos of its inception this coming week!

Anyway, I got so excited to knit again that I immediately started knitting this blue scarf. Now, planning is not my strong suit, as evidenced by most things I show you, and I proceeded to cast on 28 stitches of bulky, 13-gauge yarn and happily knit away for about half an hour before I realized that what I was working on was never, ever going to be a scarf, unless that person was about 2 feet tall, 1 foot of that being neck. So, I dutifully took it out, and proceeded to cast on 20 stitches instead. I evidently do not learn quickly, because 20 stitches is still far too many. So now I have a whole skein of blue yarn knitted into a totally useless rectangle of… whatever. Maybe I’ll try to felt it or something.

But then! Today! I was watching a video to learn how to switch colors in a more appropriate manner (the way I was doing it was fairly ridiculous) because I am making a purple and cream striped scarf for myself, and I learned how to rib! On accident! And now I’m ribbin’ away! I am not very good at it, but I do love knitting.

I like the portable productivity of knitting; it’s something tangible I can produce that, in a moment that’s perhaps too short to get into a book I’m reading or to start a journal entry, keeps my hands busy and my mind clear. It’s much like my better Zen meditations, or like a good bike ride; the repetitive motion of my needles becomes like the breath (in Zazen or in yoga), and I’m watching it and am simply present. I am having a lot of good experiences with presence lately, and with trying to be more mindful of it.

And now, on to pancakes.

I’ve always wanted to have a pancake picnic, and so recently this plan was enacted late at night at Laurelhurst Park, the gorgeous park just down the street from my house. I had some beautiful red peppers in the fridge:

and I wanted to make something involving said peppers, so I caramelized some onions and red peppers and made a frittata to go with the blueberry pancakes. If this looks good to you, make it! You can use my previously posted recipe for a frittata and instead use 1 whole onion, caramelized, with diced red peppers thrown in until tender; add the whole mess along with about 1 c of very small sharp cheddar cheese cubes. Not shredded. Cubes. I’m serious.

Anyhow, the picnic was great, and the frittata and pancakes were still warm (I wrapped them in foil, in a stoneware baking dish, in a cooler with no ice in it) and the chai was hot! Success. Trust me: eating pancakes in the dark in a beautiful place when it’s 40F out is absolutely as awesome as it sounds. Just be sure you dress warmly!

Berry-Vanilla Bean Coffee Cake

20 09 2009

I have done a lot of sleeping this weekend. No, really, a lot. 30+ hours since Thursday night. It’s been glorious. I’ve also made breakfast the last few days, as I am wont to do, and Friday night we had a weenie roast (har har) with our friends Meg and Ben. A weekend of food and sleeping? Yes please. And so, the culmination of this weekend of food and sleeping was a coffee cake. I’ve made it once before, and it’s truly, truly delicious – it’s a slightly modified version of the Better Homes and Gardens Fruit Coffee Cake (and let me tell you, that book will never steer you wrong).

Next time, I’m going to make a batch and a half of the coffee cake because I like to use a bundt pan and it’s not quite enough. BHG recommends using an 8x8x2 baking pan, so unless you have an IKEA springform pan with an interchangeable bottom, one of which is a bundt thinger (Liz!), just do as they suggest until I figure out the proportions. The IKEA one I use is smaller than a regular bundt pan so I suspect it’d go poorly to use the normal one.

Berry-Vanilla Bean Coffee Cake


  • 2c berries (I have used cherries every time; this time I added blackberries, which were fine but didn’t add much. Just don’t use raspberries)
  • 1/4c water
  • 1/4c sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1.5c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4c sugar
  • 1/2tsp baking powder
  • 1/4tsp baking soda
  • 1/4c butter
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/2c buttermilk or sour milk (to make sour milk, pour a bit of vinegar into the bottom of your 1/2c measure and fill to the top with milk; let it sit a minute or so)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste (my favorite brand is Singing Dog, which they sell here in Austin at Wheatsville Co-op)
  • 1/4c all-purpose flour (I used naughty white flour for this part, but I’m sure whatever you have is fine if you don’t keep more than one sort)
  • 1/4c sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter


  1. Preheat oven to 350F and butter your pan really, really well, especially if you are using a bundt pan.
  2. For filling, combine fruit and water in a medium saucepan (if you are using frozen, use a bit less water) and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 5min. Combine cornstarch and sugar, and add to fruit mixture along with the 1/2tbsp vanilla bean paste, cooking and stirring until thickened and bubbly. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a medium bowl combine 1.5c flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda. Cut in the 1/4c butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. In a small bowl, combine egg, sour milk/buttermilk, and vanilla. Add all at once to flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until just moistened (lumpy batter, you know the drill).
  5. For the delicious crumbly topping, in yet another small bowl (shut up and do the dishes later, it’s worth it), combine the 1/4c flour and 1/4c sugar and cut in the 2 tbsp butter until, again, the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. I usually resort to using my fingers, pinching the butter into the flour mix, because the volume here is so small.
  6. Spread the topping over the bottom of the baking dish and spoon half the batter over it, carefully. Spread the fruit over this and then spoon the remaining batter over the fruit. Be careful but don’t get too fussy. (Yes, you are making this upside-down. The original recipe does not call for this to be the case, but I like the more integrated, crust-like effects of the upside-down method are tastier than the crumb cake topping of the original right-side-up. It will also probably be less pretty. Just eat it. You’ll be fine.)
  7. Bake at 350F for 35-45 min, or until golden. Serve warm. Thank me later.

Some things never get old

12 09 2009

Like soup, salad, and good bread!

So I mentioned the no-more-photos quandary to my dear friend Patrick, and he told me to quit being so fussy and just snap a damn picture. Good advice! I took a quickie with my iPhone so you can be just jealous enough to try this recipe. I rounded up the recipe for the salad from eat the right stuff and got a rough idea of what I was doing on the gazpacho from another blog, though I didn’t really follow the recipe.

Hatch Chile Gazpacho

  • 1 hatch chile pepper, mild (I bought a spare to use for garnishing; you only need a 3 or 4 slices garnish for each serving, but the leftovers can always get thrown in some eggs with cheese and Cholula)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper (sorry, sorry, do something with the extra half, it can’t be that bad)
  • 4-5 basil leaves
  • 1 green onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tbsp (ish) balsamic vinegar
  • 1 slice bread (I used a roasted garlic and jack cheese, mmm), soaked in
  • 1/2c stock (I use, at the suggestion of the inimitable Orangette, Imagine’s No-Chicken Broth, because it doesn’t taste like much)
  • 1 seedless/English/Canadian/whateverthefuck your grocery is calling it today cucumber (the one with ridges, in plastic wrap), peeled
  • 1 large tomater!
  • salt to taste

Put the peppers, green onion, basil and garlic in your food processor and process until extremely finely chopped. Wee, tiny pieces. Add lemon juice, olive oil, tomato paste and balsamic vinegar; process until it starts to puree. Add the bread and stock and puree. Add tomato and cucumber; here you get to make your own choices. Sam likes hers pureed and thusly I puree it. Others like it a little chunky. This is why I tell you to wait to the end to add the cuke and tomato, because these are the things you would want chunks of. It’s like a choose your own adventure story, except the ending is always that you eat gazpacho. Add salt to taste (I used, I think, somewhat less than a teaspoon). Chill for as long as you have; I hear 2 hours is the minimum, but I don’t plan very well, so mine chilled more like half an hour. Oops. Garnish with a few slices of hatch pepper and be sure to serve with a few pieces of crusty bread!

Roasted Sweet Potato and Red Pepper Salad

  • 1 large sweet potato, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/4 tsp red chili flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • olive oil
  • 1/4c pine nuts, toasted (it is possible, just possible, that I forgot to toast these. Eh.)
  • salad greens (I used a spring mix or whatever, I’m not picky. It’s green. Put it in my face.)
  • Small log of Montchevre goat cheese (I like this brand because it’s mild and creamy and not too expensive and mmmmmmmm)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • heaping 1/2 tsp dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 400F. Toss yer sweet potaters in olive oil with the minced garlic and the chili flakes; roast in the oven for about 30 min, until tender and slightly browned at the edges. Put on a plate to cool and put the peppers in the pan as well (add a little more olive oil if you’re worried there’s not enough left over) and roast for about 20min. See how I just saved you a pan? You’re welcome.

While the warm foods cool, mix up your salad dressing, put some greens on a plate, pinch off a bunch of goat cheese for each salad (or just a little, if you’re a wuss, but I like as much as I can put on there without seeming like I have a problem), etc. Once they’re around room temp or slightly, slightly warmer, arrange the potatoes and peppers atop the salad greens, sprinkle with pine nuts and goat cheese, and drizzle with your vinaigrette. Eat!

A quick weeknight recipe

1 09 2009

Okay guys. I hope you can all forgive me for this (har har) but I probably won’t often post photos anymore – I stayed away for so long because I realized I detest making everyone STOP and wait for me to take a photograph of a plate before I serve dinner. Half the reason I love cooking is that I get to share it with others and make them happy, and I end up feeling sort of neurotic and removed from that sense of community when I have to photograph everything. So, this will mostly just be recipes, but that’s okay with me, because mainly my friends and family read this anyhow.

Without further ado, this is a delicious casserole I made once awhile back and again last night. It rules. Please try it. Normally I don’t use meat subs, but they’re great in a pinch, and if you eat meat you could easily substitute already cooked chicken (I think… I’ve been vegetarian as long as I’ve been cooking).

Cheesy Chik’n and Plantain Casserole!


4 large plantains or burro bananas, peeled
2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
3 anaheim peppers, diced (IT IS HATCH CHILE SEASON, PLEASE USE THEM INSTEAD! They’re hotter but oh so delicious)
Olive oil
5 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 8oz can tomato sauce
1 pkg Quorn pieces
1 tsp salt
cumin to taste
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
8 oz shredded queso quesadilla (get it at the food hole, or possibly cm)

1. Slice plantains lengthwise and lay on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 10min or until they start to brown (mine took more like 20). Turn the oven down to 365.
2. In the meantime, saute peppers and onions in olive oil until soft; add garlic and saute 1 min more.
3. Add the tomato sauce, quorn, salt, and cumin. Cook until bubbly and Quorn is heated through.
4. Lightly grease a casserole dish. Lay 5 plantains slices in the bottom of the dish and layer 1/2 the Quorn mix on top. Spread the beans over the quorn, and slice any left over plaintains and spread atop the beans. If you can fit all your plantains in the bottom of the dish, that’s great too! Layer on the rest of the quorn mixture, and top with the shredded cheese.
5. Bake for 30 min at 365 degrees.

NOTE: Do not be an idiot like me. Please get some kitchen gloves to dice peppers. If you don’t, you will probably get what amounts to mild chemical burns from the raw peppers. It hurts like hell and is basically the dumbest way to injure yourself ever. Leave it to me on that front.


29 08 2008

Okay! I finished my entry in Iron Cupcake in the nick of time, as I thought the deadline was the 31st – whups!

This month the challenge was to make a cupcake with chili pepper, and we were competing to win AWESOME stuff from great shops like Cakespy, Jessie Steele Aprons, Cupcake Courier, and Taste of Home. Wish me luck! However, I already got super great stuff, so really? I’m just glad to have made some tasty cupcakes =)

I made Chili-Coated Mango Cupcakes with Chili-Lime Frosting for a Mexican twist on cupcakes – again. Yep, again, I’m from Texas. Liz over at Things I Love About Austin made these cupcakes about six months ago and I swear, I wake up dreaming of them. I made them with eggs this time (local, humanely raised, and organic, of course), and rather than mango pulp I used mango puree. But the true secret?

I sprayed down my cupcake papers and coated the inside with a mixture of about 1/2 c sugar to 1 tsp dried ancho chili powder. Have you ever had a mango coated in chili-sugar? You should. It’s great.


This is how they looked out of the oven:

For the frosting, I just used a basic butter icing and added more dried ancho chili powder, lime zest, and a little lemon oil for some extra citrus flavor.

I topped them with more chili-sugar and some more of that lovely blue margarita salt – gorgeous!

Sam approves.

Look how fluffy!

AND NOW! If you’d like to vote for my delicious cupcakes to win this month’s challenge, visit No One Puts Cupcake in a Corner and tell ’em how you feel!

Today is my lucky day!

27 08 2008

A week or so ago, my friend Liz from Things I Love About Austin called me and said, “You won something!”

I don’t really ever win things, so I told her that wasn’t so, and she said in fact that it was. I believed it once I saw this post by the Milwaukee Cupcake Queen. A new (awesome) baking group I joined, Iron Cupcake Earth (and for which I must make this month’s challenge, probably Friday so’s to give some of the goodies to friends at our weekly gathering), had a drawing for anyone who referred a new Iron Cupcake member to the group. I had referred Liz and won, and I am pretty sure that rules.

And TODAY my lovely exciting packages came!

First, from The Glass Chef artist Peggy Festerling came an adorable, adorable glass cupcake necklace. The photographs of this cannot possibly do its cuteness and artistry justice, but I will share nonetheless.

I opened this package to a lovely handwritten note by The Glass Chef herself!

The necklace came in a prettily wrapped box with several business cards. Check out Peggy’s Etsy site – it’s all this fantastic, I swear. I’d try to eat this necklace if I didn’t want to keep it so much. Forever. I may never take it off.

I still feel like nothing does this piece of jewelry justice, but man. I love to get mail anyhow, but this is really something to get excited about!

My second package, which also arrived today, also came with a lovely handwritten note from Jessie Oleson of

I then realized there were an array of cards for neat etsy shops and independent design stuff in general in there – AND buttons. Buttons too! Buttons and cards and a note and a shirt! Holy cow. I feel lucky!

Look at that! Isn’t it thrilling? Aren’t you excited? I sure am. If you couldn’t tell. If this doesn’t convince you to visit Jessie, too, I don’t know what will. FUN! Fun! Fun. FUN I SAY.

I am one lucky girl today! Two fantastic artists sent me some of their fantastic art. Thank you so much, Iron Cupcake! Thank you so much, Glass Chef! Thank you so much, Cakespy! Y’all (yep, I’m from Texas) made my day, unquestionably.

Here’s the necklace nestled against my chestpiece (I love them together!):

And here’s me wearing my swank new t-shirt, too!

I also would like to point out, for the record, that I’m not as generally underwhelmed or ironic as I look. I’m just unphotogenic.