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!

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.

A delicious summer supper!

8 07 2008


Originally uploaded by pincushion crumbs

Tonight, I had a bunch of vegetables from the farmer’s market that really desperately needed to be used (or risk losing their lovely freshness). And so, I set out to make something tasty and containing cilantro, baby yellow squash, and baby bell peppers.

I ended up with: curried lentil-stuffed peppers with crunchy panko topping with black rice noodles and star-shaped zucchini coconut sautee.

A lot of words there! I need to get better about naming my recipes, I think.

It really didn’t take much time to make, and it plated really nicely. Were I making it again, I’d use regular squash (so I could use the flower cutters more easily, they barely fit on even the larger parts of the baby squash) and I’d add some cashews and maybe even currants to the pepper filling. Quick tip: when I baked the peppers, as I’m sure you are all aware, it’s hard to get them to sit flat in the pan. I used the ends of my baby squash to prop up whatever side wanted to fall over, and it worked like a charm. Try it if you want! Serves 2.

To make my wordy recipe, you’ll need:

For the peppers:

4 baby bell peppers
1 can lentils (I know, I know, canned, but it was there and easy. That’s what SHE said.)
1 can light coconut milk
curry paste or powder to taste (I used about 3 or 4 tbsp of the paste, I’d guess, and I used a musamun paste from the asia market)
Bragg’s amino acids or soy sauce (probably about a tbsp, though use as much as you want)
Japanese breadcrumbs/panko and fried garlic (I have a jar of it from the asia market) mixed in roughly a 3-1 ratio
Cutout squash skin for garnish

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Combine lentils, about 1/2 can coconut milk, curry paste, and Braggs/soy sauce in a pot on the stove; bring to a boil and reduce until thick. You don’t want it running all over your oven.
Halve and clean out baby bell peppers; when mixture is thick enough, spoon into pepper halves.
Top with panko & garlic mixture, and place squash in the center. Bake at 350˚F for about 10-11 minutes in a greased pan. Small is better, so they don’t slide around as much.

For the squash/noodles:

3-4 baby yellow squash or 2 regular-sized, sliced and then cut into cute flower shapes
1 small red onion, diced
olive oil
scant 1/4c coconut milk
Bragg’s amino acids or soy sauce
Black rice noodles for two. Mine come in little bundles, of which I cooked two. Handy, eh? I found these at the asia market, too.

Put noodles and cold water and a pinch of salt in a pot and bring to a boil. You can start this right after you spoon your lentils into your peppers; I used the same pot, rinsed. Mine only needed to go for about four or five minutes once they boiled, so don’t overdo these. When they’re done, rinse in cold water in a sieve or colander (sieve for me, as they’re very skinny little noodles) and set aside.
While you’re simmering your lentils, dice onion and slice and cut flowers from squash.
Heat olive oil in a pan and add red onion; sauté until soft and translucent. Add flower-shaped squash. Sauté briefly to coat in olive oil, and add the coconut milk and Braggs/soy sauce. Simmer on med. or med-low heat until the rest of the dinner is done, stirring occasionally.

Serve noodles with squash on top; arrange peppers on plate, and garnish with a lime wedge and fresh cilantro. The lime is fantastic squeezed over the whole shebang. Yes, I am from Texas. For more photos check my Flickr photostream!