Sunday, March 15, 2009

Cooking St. Patrick's Day Feast for 90 Friends

We had our 4th annual St. Patrick's Day Party yesterday. Friends and family started arriving around 4:30. There were about 40 kids who took over our property with a friendly game of war that was fantastic to watch. The boys (and a few brave girls) ranging in age from about 4 to 13 had sticks and branches and divided themselves into 2 sides. They traversed hills, zip lines, fences and trees. I love this, because today you hardly get to see a big group of kids just do what is natural and fun. We all did this as youngsters. We were more free to roam our neighborhoods and use our imagination to have fun with what is available outside our front doors. For me this was the best part of the party.

The food was pretty good too. Here's the menu:

The best corned beef from Staff of Life my favorite natural food store butcher anywhere, but this one happens to be in Santa Cruz and is operated by Ken Miller with the help of some fantastic butchers, especially Joseph.

I put the 50#'s of corned beef on to simmer about 11:30am. At about 3:30 It was nice and tender. I took it out of the pots and added 15 # of new potatoes and 10# carrots and simmered till tender. Then I added 9 heads of cabbage cut in 1/8ths. I sliced the corned beef while this cooked.

You must serve corned beef with coleman's spicy mustard (the dry stuff in the yellow can that you mix with water.)

I also roasted 2 sides of salmon (farmed - due to the shortage of salmon and restrictions on the industry, hopefully next year we will have a salmon fishery).

We had 6 loaves of homemade Irish Soda Bread (recipe included)

For dessert we had brownies, green jello jigglers, (thanks Joyce) homemade boston cream pie, and delicious cookies from the buttery (thanks Jodee).
My son Henry never came around when we serving cake, so I made him the Chocolate Cake in a Mug at around 9:30. (He is spoiled, but his Mama loves him).

The beer and wine were flowing and I heard that Robert Hyde brought a bottle of awesome Irish Whiskey. We were also gifted a lovely bottle of Hendrick's Gin. Yum.

I think everyone left content and with a full belly by 10. The lovelies Sherri Hyde and Deirdre Smith didn't make it to the party this year so things kind of petered out early.

Here is the recipe for Irish Soda Bread

Sift Together:
4 cups flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 3 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup raisins, 1 Tablspoons Caraway seeds

Mix Together:
1 cup sour cream, 1 cup milk

Blean liquid into dry ingredients and knead about 10 times.

Pat into a buttered cake pan and cut an X or Cross on top

Bake in 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes or till toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Happy St. Patrick's to Everyone!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I Love Recipes from Wednesdays' NYT

Tonight for dinner I am making this recipe from the "Good Appetite" column in today's New York Times.
Garlic and Thyme Roasted Chicken With Crispy Drippings Croutons is in the oven now and smells fantastic. I am roasting the chicken early so I can get my kids to dance and karate and get home, eat and back out again. Tonight is the scholastic Book Fair at our School and Micky Magic (our local tied died hippie magician) will be there. Henry is certain he will get picked to help with a trick, he said he always does.

This chicken sounds awesome to me. I secretly like to scrape up the salty, fatty drippings from the pan and savor them when no one is looking, so like the author of the article this is right up my alley.

Catching Up Sat, Sun, Mon

Friday was knitting night, so I am not responsible for feeding my kids. I only cook my dish to share which was pasta puttanesca. I started with olive Oil and 2 cloves chopped garlic, a few pinches crushed red pepper and anchovy paste or crushed anchovies in a saute pan and heated till fragrant. I then added a cup and a half of leftover quick tomato sauce, and brought to a simmer for about 10 minutes. I finished the sauce with a large handful of chopped kalamata olives and a tablespoon of chopped capers. Toss with Penne and fresh chopped mint.

The kids did great, Dad picked up ribs and fixings from Gayles Bakery, our local gourmet take out in the famous Capitola by the Sea.

Saturday, we were going to go out to eat but everyone was tire, so while I was out picking up kids I picked up some fresh ground beef and francese rolls and we had yummy cheeseburgers with avocado, tomato and lettuce.

Sunday, I had a little over a pound of beef leftover from Saturday and made quick Beef Bolognese. I sauteed diced carrots, onions, celery and garlic till soft add the ground beef and browned ot. Then I added 2 14 oz cans of San Marzano Peeled Tomatoes and 1/3 cup heavy cream. Simmered about 30 minutes and served with fettucine.

Monday we had roasted salmon pearl cous cous and sauteed spinach. I usually cook regular cous cous but Monday night I tried the Israeli Pearl Cous Cous. I sauteed the pearls in butter and olive oil with a chopped shallot and a tablespoon of tomato paste. When it was nice and browned I added the water and simmered on low 10 minutes. MY family liked it except for Mr. Noodles and butter dude.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Man is sick of chicken, wants meat

Red meat! New Leaf had organic New York Steaks on sale for $8.99 a pound. Picked up three. Henry insisted on a green bell pepper because he liked the smell. Livy chose green beans and I picked little white creamer potatoes and shitake mushrooms.

I boiled the little potatoes in their skins and then strained them and added them back into the pot with a nice big chunk of sweet butter, a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of grey sea salt, few twists of pepper and a big pinch of herbs de provence. Sauteed them a little bit for a little brownage on the skins.

To cook the steaks, I heated my favorite 10 inch all clad fry pan on high heat and added a drizzle of olive oil, salt and peppered the steaks and seared them in the pan, first side about 4 minutes flipped over and seared the other side about another 4 or 5 minutes.

While the steaks were cooking, I sliced the shitakes (remember to remove the stem, too tough to eat) julienned the green pepper, and chopped a small shallot and clove of garlic. When the steaks were done cooking I removed them from the pan to rest on a plate tented with foil. To the hot pan I added a little butter and the pepper and mushroom mix and sauteed till softened. I added about a half cup water to scrape up any brown bits from the pan and reduced down to a sauce. Check the salt and season if necessary. You can finish this sauce by stirring in a couple pats of cold butter if you like.

Steamed green beans.

Lovely Frida

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Fish Tacos and Frida Kahlo

Tonight is my 4th grade daughter's Book Club Tea at school. Every kid read a biography and then wrote and illustrated their own book about the biography. We have been binding the books this week using the Japanese Book Wrapping Technique and it's been a lot of fun picking out fabrics from a pile of donated scraps to match each kids famous person. Tonight the kids will dress up as thier person and present the book they made and give some facts about that famous person. My daughter Olivia did Frida Kahlo. My very good friend who spent a lot of time in Mexico loaned Livy a tradition outfit to wear from when she was a child. We will be making Mexican Wedding Cakes to bring along too.

Ooh, I think that was just a little earthquake!

For dinner tonight we are having Fish Tacos. Viva la Mexico. In our house we serve tacos build your own style. I set out little bowls with all the different fixings, a platter of fish and everyone gets a warm tortilla. We heat tortillas as we need them in a cast iron skillet. I will also heat up a can of refried beans.

The fish

any white fish (sole, snapper, cod, etc...)
blackening seasoning (recipe to follow)

Coat fish lightly with seasoning. Get a cast iron skillet very hot. Melt a tablespoon of butter in the pan. Add the fish and let sear and blacken on one side, then flip and finish on the other side. Depending on the thickness of your fish, it should cook within 2-3 minutes a side. I am using petrale sole tonight, so I am guessing it will be about 1.5 minutes per side.

Garnishes for tacos:

Chopped tomato
Chopped avocado
Chopped Green Onion
Cheese, (Queso Fresco, Catija, cheddar whatever you have/like)
shredded cabbage
chopped jalapeno
sour cream
sour cream blended with chipotle chile (my favorite for fish tacos) ( When I open a can of chipotle chile in adobe, I usually use just a little bit - the rest I put in a zip lock and put in the freezer. When i need a little I just carve off what I need)

Blackened Seasoning

make a lot and save for later use (can be used for steak, chicken...

1/2 cup paparika
1 Tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 Tablespoon white pepper
1 Tablespoon black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon salt

Recipe can be doubled up or tripled up, etc...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

San Marzano Tomatoes

Tonight we are having raviolis. Someone else made them, they are chicken and mozzarella and my family loves them. I just made a quick tomato sauce to serve over them and cleaned some fresh artichokes to steam in the pressure cooker when we get home from after school karate, art, etc...

A word about canned tomatoes. The imported san marzano tomatoes make the tastiest sauce. Hands down. They cost more than any other canned tomato but if you are looking for taste especially in a short amount of time these are the tomatoes to go to. At my local natural food store Staff of Life they carry an organic italian peeled san marzano tomato in a 14 oz. can for about $1.50. This is a real deal. The brand is Strianese. I sometimes pay over $5 for a 28 0r 30 oz can of San Marzano tomatoes in a regular grocery store.

Quick Tomato Sauce Recipe:

2-3 Tablespoons Olive Oil (enough to cover bottom of saucepan)
3 garlic cloves finely chopped
big pinch crushed red pepper
couple shakes dried oregano

1 or 2 cans italian peeled tomatoes

Heat olive oil in saucepan and add garlic. Pour tomatoes into a bowl and squish with your hands to break up into smaller pieces. Add pepper and oregano to pan let heat but do not burn. Add tomatoes. Season with salt to taste. Bring to boil then simmer on very low heat till reduced to desired thickness. This is great pizza sauce also.

A cook is learned a Roaster is Born

Brillat Savarin said something like that. Anyway tonight we had Roast Chicken with Steamed Broccoli and Steamed Rice. Unfortunately I didn't live up to Brillat's aphorism tonight because my kids had eye doctor appointments back to back starting at 4:30 on the other side of town. We were late getting home so we picked up that roasted chicken from the market and all I had to do was put the rice in the rice cooker and clean and steam the broccoli. It's one of our favorite dinners where everyone actually participates in eating especially when I actually roast the chicken. I will post about roasting a chicken among other things at a later date.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Starting Over, potato leek soup and salad

In 2007 I started this blog to share my cheesemaking and goat raising stories. It was originally called Goatmama's cheesemaking. I wrote 2 posts that I never published and since have sent my goats to live with a happy herd in another place. I still make cheese occasionally, but not like I used to.

I decided to start this blog over again, sharing my love of food and cooking. My friends are often asking for ideas for dinner, so I will be posting what I'm cooking every night. That's the idea anyway. We'll see how consistent I am.

Today isn't exactly the best place to start. It's a lazy, rainy, Sunday and I already made dinner this afternoon. Potato Leek Soup, which my kids enjoy, even my super picky spaghetti with butter boy. Great way to get him his veggies. This version is made with a chicken broth I made earlier in the week when I roasted a whole organic chicken for dinner and threw all the bones into a pot after carving. I covered with water and brought it to a boil then simmered it for about 2 days adding more cold water as needed as it reduced down, and sprinkling about 2 teaspoons of gray sea salt in on the second day. You need to mush down and break up the bones with a big spoon or masher to get all the yummy marrow out of the bones. When the bones are nice and soft and broken up strain the broth and cool. Sounds kind of yucky, but according to Weston Price ( and Nourishing Traditions this is really, really good for you and your children. As a trained chef, I never cooked a chicken stock this long, but it's not bad, it's actually pretty good. Weston Price would say to drink 2 -3 cups of bone broth a week.

Potato Leek Soup

Melt a couple of tablespoons butter and olive oil in a large pot. Add 2-3 large leeks chopped, soaked and rinsed twice, 1 chopped onion and 1 clove chopped garlic. sweat gently till softened. Add 5-6 chopped potatoes and about 1 1/2 to 2 quarts water or chicken stock or combination of the two. You can also add some fresh thyme. Bring to a boil and simmer till potatoes are soft. Remove from heat and puree with an immersion blender or run through blender or food processor. Season with salt and white pepper.

Serve with a green salad

Simple Vinaigrette

In your salad bowl add:

couple pinches salt
couple twists of black pepper
couple pinches dry mustard

add 1 Tablespoon red or white wine vinegar and mix with fork to dissolve mustard

Using your fork, Blend in 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Build your salad on top of the dressing in the bowl. When ready to serve, toss gently.