Sunday, July 18, 2010

Too long since I've posted

This week I promise to add some new content. Work, life and family have sucked all my time away.
Our kitchen is finally done ! Phew. It only took a couple of years !

Thanks for hanging in - now the fun begins.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

"Fast Food" for us

Sometimes when I come home from work, kiss the baby and Karin, play for a little while, and then start to think about dinner...sometimes I don't have the energy for a more elaborate supper. Sometimes, I just want it to be easier.

This is my "cheating" type dinner.

And I'll be honest with you - it is so easy, I am often embarrassed when it comes out like it did the other night. So good I want somehow get my head in the pan afterwards.

I have a supply of chicken breast fillets in the freezer, just for occasions like this.

For this specific dinner, I took two cloves of elephant garlic, slivered them, and put them in a pan with some olive oil. Right when they started to lightly brown, I squeezed in about a tablespoon of anchovy paste. I stirred it in, and then poured in a large can of Italian tomatoes. While that was starting to warm, I took a couple of handfuls of country-style olives, and rough chopped them, and tossed them in as well. On top of that, I put 6 chicken breast fillets in, and covered it, turned it to low, and left the room.

This is the type of dinner that requires almost no work after that. I try to remember to go in and flip the chicken, move them from the bottom to the top, etc, but even if you don't, it is still going to taste good.

Thursday I didn't have any side to go with it, but usually a cous cous, or rice or even fresh pasta is a great accompaniment.

All we had was a fresh baguette, so I sliced them on the bias to get more surface area, and put three on the plate, with chicken on top, and then juices and olive/tomato mixture on top of that.
I realize that this is just a form of braising, but it is such a life-saver for us - it allows us to eat well when we need "fast food." Instead of a box of "who knows what" we can make dinner while we catching up on our days.

It might not be pretty, but the chicken is juicy, the flavors are bright, and the cleanup is minimal.

Friday, June 5, 2009

first grilling

Last night we christened our 'almost completed deck' with its first grilling.

We are still missing our railings and stair treads, but since the grill is on the deck, that's good enough for us !

After work I went a couple of doors down and bought three swordfish steaks from Yankee Lobster.  I hadn't been before (I don't know why).  Clean shop, nice selection.  I was asked how far I had to travel and when I told him that I only had to go twenty minutes (hoping for no traffic on the Pike), he went in the back and brought out a bag of fresh ice that he placed in the sack with my steaks.  Thoughtful and kind, and definitely the kind of action that will bring me back.

Once home, I simply took the steaks (which smelled of the sea, nothing fishy about them), and with a sprinkling of kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper and a drizzling of olive oil.  Into the fridge until grilling time. 

I quickly made up a pot of cous cous and then set it aside until dinner.

Grape tomatoes (sadly not my own) and some fresh Greek Oregano from my garden, kosher salt and pepper with olive oil.  Tossed and then added some kalamata olives, and let that sit until the grill was going.

I created a small pan for the grill, out of non-stick alum foil.  I put it on the grill and the moment I put the tomato olive mixture on to it, it started sizzling.  These were the first thing on the grill, and the last thing off.  I will say, the tomatoes did not burst, which surprised me.  However, they did release some of their liquid and then caramelized into lovely large ruby jewels.  The olives did their best to keep up with the tomatoes, but they just got crunchy bits here and there.   I will definitely do this again.  I could see doing this as a side on its own. 

Swordfish went on to the grill, 4 minutes on the first side.  While waiting to flip the fish, I took slivered almonds and started roasting them in a pan.   Just wanted to knock the raw taste and waxy mouth feel off.  Back out to the grill, flipped the fish, and back in to toss the almonds.

Dinner was really spectacular.  We hadn't had swordfish in almost two years, as Karin couldn't eat swordfish while she was pregnant.  Swordfish with the roasted slivered almonds on top, with a squeeze of lemon.  Awesome.  Juicy fish, wonderful texture, great flavor.  When I put the cous cous on the plates, I spooned the tomato/olive mixture on top and let then shaved some parmigiana on top of it.  

Paired it with a chilled bottle of Starwood Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough region NZ) and I don't think we talked at all - we just moaned and smiled our way through dinner.

It was a nice way to start enjoying our deck, grilling, fish, summer.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Long Winter

After spending the winter focusing on work, family, slowly redoing our kitchen (and shovelling snow), we are ready to start blogging again.

Time to get the grills fired up, fresh herbs, fruits and veg into the kitchen and on to our table.  This is going to be new journey - more cooking from Karin and more adventurous cooking from Jamie.

The pictures of these grilled pizzas would be better if I had taken my time instead of quickly taking pictures so that I could eat them!

Making these pizzas couldn't be easier, and the "WOW" factor when you do it in front of people is ego-boosting.

We bought pre-made dough, in bags, from our local store.   I floured my hands, so the dough wouldn't stick so much, took it out and formed it into a ball.  Then I just slowly turned it, letting the weight of it pull the dough thinner and thinner.  When it was at a thinness that I liked, I put it on a baking sheet and put some olive oil on it.  Drizzled it on and rubbed it all over.  Then I flipped the dough over on the sheet and was ready to rock.

I preheated the grill (gas).  I imagine that hardwood charcoal would impart greater flavor, but since these are on the grill for such a short amount of time, and my time right now is tight, so I used the gas grill.  I'm looking forward to doing this with the hardwoods.  I digress.  I got the grill hot, and then flipped the dough (oil side down) on to the grill, on a medium heat, and closed the lid.   Checked on it a couple of times to make sure there were no steam bubbles in the dough.  

Once they had been on a bit, and the sides of the dough looked like they were drying out, I flipped it over.  Right there is "Wow" factor #1.  The dough just looks so cool !   The grill marks, the irregular shape, the crispy and soft areas of the dough...

Once flipped, time is of the essence.  Too many times have I had ideas of pizzas to create, only to get writers block when confronted with two blank canvases (mixing metaphors, I know).  Have a plan and then stick to it.  

And really, that was it.  One pizza got sauce, one didn't.  One got olives, one didn't.   One got fresh rosemary, one didn't.  Etc etc.  Top went down, and then we waited.  And not too long.  We like our veggies fresh, the mozzerella not too melted.

Once we felt they were ready, they came off, rested on a board, and then cut into slices.  They sat on our side table long enough to get photographed (hastily) and then they were devoured.

We've made these several times in the past month, and besides being easy, tasty and impressive to look at, they are also really rather cheap.  A bag of dough is 90 cents.  You already have olive oil in your pantry.  We grow our own herbs, so I just pick some fresh rosemary and do a quick rough chop.  A handful of country olives, rough chopped, thrown on top, is a marginal cost.  The only thing that will cost anything of note is the fresh mozzerella.  

Hungry now.  Must go plan next pizza.

Sorry for the quality of the pictures.

On the left pizza: country olive, DePasquale's hot sausage, caramellized onions, fresh rosemary and fresh mozzerella
On the right pizza: fresh basil, grape tomato, portabello mushroom, sundried tomato and fresh mozzerella

On the left pizza: portabello mushroom, hot sausage, vodka sauce and fresh mozzerella 
On the right pizza: country olive, vodka sauce and fresh mozzerella

Friday, October 24, 2008

Belmont CSA

Here are a few pictures of the farm - Gretta so graciously has allowed me to use her pictures.

I am looking forward to the next pickup - as this time I will know what to do, and bring my camera so I can take some pictures.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

CSA distribution and more !

This is some of the awesome bounty that we were a part of last weekend !  Absolutely fantastic.  The experience of picking up such pure food at the farm was fun.  I didn't know what I was doing, but the knowledgeable and nice staff helped me along the way.  

Can't wait to do more cooking with the beautiful foods we have stored away!

Thanks Gretta !!!! 

Going to the farm and picking up the distribution was so inspiring, that I spent some time in our own garden harvesting our herbs.  Brought them in and washed and dried them.

Italian Parsley, Purple Sage, regular Sage, Pineapple Sage, Thai Basil, Sweet Basil, Purple Basil, Oregano, Greek Oregano, Thyme, Creeping Thyme, Rosemary and a few other items from the gardens...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

winter share

We are very excited today to be picking up our first distribution of winter vegetables from the Belmont CSA.  Since we've only lived in our house since April, and most of the summer was spent in Rhode Island with our new baby, we didn't even think of being part of a summer share.  
However, we are around for a winter share.  And with the Belmont CSA, we get three distributions, the first of which is today.

To those of you uninitiated into CSAs, they are Community Supported Agriculture.  A quote from explains: 

Many farms offer produce subscriptions, where buyers receive a weekly or monthly basket of produce, flowers, fruits, eggs, milk, meats, or any sort of different farm products.

A CSA, (for Community Supported Agriculture) is a way for the food buying public to create a relationship with a farm and to receive a weekly basket of produce. By making a financial commitment to a farm, people become "members" (or "shareholders," or "subscribers") of the CSA. Most CSA farmers prefer that members pay for the season up-front, but some farmers will accept weekly or monthly payments. Some CSAs also require that members work a small number of hours on the farm during the growing season.

A CSA season typically runs from late spring through early fall. The number of CSAs in the United States was estimated at 50 in 1990, and has since grown to over 2000.  [read more here: ] 

It is a way for us to help the community - by keeping the land a farm instead a subdivision.  It is also a way for us to eat locally grown food - at a time when Stop and Shop, Costco, Publix, etc bring in food from all over the world so that we can have tomatoes, strawberries, plums, etc all year long.

Except, the tomatoes you buy at the store, they don't SMELL like tomatoes, and they taste like tomatoes from a store.  We've gotten a bit used to the way that supermarket veggies and fruits taste like, and thats what we expect, and now even, to a point, enjoy.

But if you've ever had a garden, the smell of a tomato is a beautiful thing.  In fact, just rubbing the leaves of a tomato plant will intoxicate you, and leave you wanting more.  Handle tomatoes at a supermarket, and your hands smell like your hands.

I digress.

Since we are novices at this, we are sharing this winter share with friends.  We've split the cost down the middle, and will split the distribution down the middle, or roughly.  They don't like brussel sprouts, so we will take those, but they will take our cabage, etc etc.  

Since this is my first time picking up and enjoying a distribution, I'm really looking forward to driving over to the farm for our 10:30am pickup.

From the Belmont CSA blog [ ]

How many people will one Winter Share feed? How much produce is in one Winter Share? How long will one monthly distribution of vegetables last? Each monthly distribution contains between 35 and 45 pounds of produce. We hope that the October share will contain an additional ten pounds of storage apples. In my home, it barely feeds two adults for a month. Of course, we cook a lot, eat most of our meals at home, and have the neighbors (two adults and two vegetable loving kids) over for a weekly shared meal. This year we've decided to do our best to eat locally-grown produce all winter. We might need two Winter Shares.

Will one Winter Share be enough for your household or will it be too much? Here's some information that might help you answer the question for yourself.

The monthly distributions will weigh approximately 35 to 45 pounds. If your goal is to completely eat all the food in each distribution within a month, that's about 10 pounds of produce per week. That's a good amount of food for a couple. Much of the produce stores well - winter squash, potatoes, onions, shallots, carrots, parsnips, celeriac, beets can last months if stored at the right temperature and humidity. Shareholders often make the produce last even longer by cooking and freezing it (winter squash soup, potato and leek soup, or my favorite, turnip, leek and sweet potato soup, for example), pickling it (beets), fermenting it (cabbage). Other shareholders use the share up more quickly by juicing some of the produce (carrots, beets, apples) and using it to feed family and friends at holiday meals/parties.

And apparently this is a multi-farm winter share, so we are benefiting from a few farms' worth of winter crops.  

Will report back later with what we got!