20130315-SaladChipotle Avocado Salad Dressing
march 15, 2013

This is another tweeted recipe from @CHOW. I made it for lunch with Eatwell Farm's radishes, romaine, parsley and chickpeas, but it could be for dinner, maybe with black beans instead. Recipes that take up 140 characters or less are extra nice for people like me who don't particularly enjoy following directions. The fewer there are the happier I am.

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Love Your Mother: Lamb, Carrots and Fava Salad - may 11, 2011

This year I made my desires for Mother's Day known well in advance: no gifts, just a day at home in the garden and a big dinner, cooked as a family.  It was delicious, and I got gifts anyway - three of Andy Goldsworthy's books, much loved by my kids after we watched his Rivers and Tides together a week or two back.

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 Salmon Cakes - april 26, 2011

I've been struggling with pan frying cakes and patties of all varieties for a long time now.  They never turn out right - sometimes they stick, sometimes they fall apart, sometimes they burn to a crisp. But tonight I asked my husband for advice, knowing that he has a tendency to remember everything he reads (but nothing I say) and that he read Russ Parson's How to Read a French Fry a thousand years ago when it first came out.  Parson's book is all about kitchen science, and  I seem to remember it deals with sticky patties.

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Tomato Tart and a Little Gem Salad - july 28, 2010

The week we left San Francisco for Tucson, this summer's volume of Canal House Cooking arrived with the mail. You may already know this, but Canal House is my new favorite thing. Besides Nigel Slater, of course. I love its irreverence toward normal day to day life - for those at the Canal House, everything revolves around food. I also love its quick vignettes: trout from a friend of a friend fishing outside the window, a whole essay on why their pal likes to get a buzz on and a few words about Patricia Curtan (illustrator of Chez Panisse Vegetables) and her apricot jam.

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A Bale of Straw and Some Sausage Salad - june 14, 2010

I finally figured out, after making a wrong turn on my way home from Berkeley last week, how to find Golden Gate Fields. This is where my friend Geoff, from the Edible School Yard, sent me to remedy my compost problems. My compost has been neglected for weeks now, growing slimy, stinky, and buggy, after running out of its only source of "browns" - a season's worth of dropped leaves from our ancient apple tree. 

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Happy Mothers Day! - may 10, 2010

I know, its a day late, but I like to drag things on. It gives me more time to enjoy. My family gave me the greatest Mother's Day gifts yesterday. Naturally, they revolved around food, so I have to share them here.

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Lemon Chicken Salad - may 6, 2010

 To come clean, lemon chicken salad makes our dinner sound more special than it actually was. Ina Garten's recipe in The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook calls for grilled lemon chicken, which I'm sure is delicious, but was just not in the cards tonight. I used the remainder of our roast chicken from earlier this week, and while slicing it up, marinating it and then cooking it again on the grill was enticing, it was also too ridiculous. 

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Joy of a Roast Chicken - may 3, 2010

Today was a near perfect spring day - fitting, since May Day was this past Saturday. We had no plans this morning, which allowed me to tidy the kitchen to near acceptable standards of cleanliness, something it hasn't achieved since early two thousand six. There was only one timeout for the kids while I swept and rinsed and scrubbed and sorted, they were largely good on their own, playing "camping" in the sunny living room by redesigning the sofa into a tent complete with special secret agent devices.

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Doughies! - april 23, 2010

These little lovelies are something sweet my friend Steph reminded me of long ago. Steph and I go way back, before even high school, and today we still try to get together to cook and eat dinner frequently. For many years it happened once a week and often featured chicken pot pie, but now that we have three children between us, not nearly as often.

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Tuna Melts with Cesar Salad - april 12, 2010 

More fish is more fun - at least today at our house when I paired canned tuna sandwiches with a mock Cesar salad, which is basically romaine lettuce dressed with anchovies, lemon juice and olive oil instead of cream.  It takes about five minutes to make. 

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Mmmm....Lamb Rub!

We had a wonderful lunch today - and the best part?  I didn't cook it.  My husband Jason, who likes meat, cooked a leg of lamb and  a pot of beans.  He made fennel and blood orange vinaigrette. My friend Laure brought cream puffs.  All I had to do was go out into the garden and snip some lettuce and arugala. Luckily, I have a nice raincoat. 

The lamb was a two day project - Jason picked it up from Avedano's on his way home from work friday and somehow managed to cram it into the refrigerator.  Saturday he realized he'd incorrectly instructed the butcher and removed the thigh bone himself, much to the horror (or was it fascination?) of our children and their guest, Iris.  He made a paste of garlic and parsley and little fish and rubbed it all over the lamb, inside and out.  Then he tied it up with some string and crammed it into the fridge again.  Sunday he roasted it in the oven. After the work was done, he assured me that really it wasn't much work at all.

Then, after lunch, he took the kids out to see a movie.  It was great to have the house to myself, but a little lonely to wash all those dishes in silence.  I guess I could have turned on the radio. I did get a chance to do some reading on the sofa, though, which is really rare.  Usually I read in my bed, in the middle of the night when I can't sleep.  

Right now I'm reading Best Food Writing of 2009  for the Food Lit Book Club I moderate at 18 Reasons. 18 Reasons is a non-profit spin off of Bi Rite Market, over in the Mission, that hosts a variety of food related events - lots of tastings and how-tos.  And it's an art gallery, for food related art. Right now Sita Bhaumik has a show there, "To Curry Favor", that includes a huge wall print made of curry - its' fragrance fills the room.

We're starting the second quarterly session of our book club this month, and will be also be reading Farmer Jane by Temra Costa and It Must've Been Something I Ate by Jeffrey Steingarten. Meetings are on the last Saturday of each month, from 1:00-3:00. We've had special guest stars at two of our three meetings so far, Anne Zimmerman, whose biography of MFK Fisher is coming out soon, and also Novella Carpenter, the author of Farm City. If you're interested in joining, send an email to info@18reasons.org for details.

Happy Easter!


Roast Leg of Lamb (adapted from Canal House Cooking Volume 3):

One 8-10 pound leg of lamb, tail, pelvic and thigh bones removed; shank and heel bone left attached. Have the butcher give you the removed bones, to flavor the beans.

4 cloves garlic, minced

4 anchovy fillets, minced

1 bunch parsley, leaves chopped

extra virgin olive oil

1 handful fresh rosemary, leaves chopped

salt and pepper

Make a paste with the garlic, anchovies, half the parsley and salt and pepper.  Open up the meat so it lays out flat and rub the paste into the inside of the meat. Wrap the loose flaps up meat over the inside areas with paste and tie kitchen string around the leg to hold it together.  Put the lamb in a large dish and rub about two Tablespoons of olive oil, the rosemary and lots of salt and pepper on the outside. Refrigerate the lamb overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350˚.  Put the lamb in a large roasting pan, meatier side up, and let the lamb come to room temperature before putting it in the oven. Roast the lamb until it is browned and crusty, and the meat inside is rosy with an internal temperature in the thickest part registering 120˚ for rare (about 45 minutes), 130˚ for medium-rare (about 1 hour). Transfer the lamb to a cutting board or serving platter and let it rest, covered loosely with foil, for 10 to 20 minutes before carving.

Carve the lamb and serve it with the remaining parsley.



Easter Beans:

3 cups cannellini beans, soaked overnight

1 large yellow onion, quartered

1 large carrot, finely chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 sprigs lemon verbena 

salt (tomato salt or rosemary salt, if you have some)

bones from a leg of lamb (have the butcher put them aside for you when you purchase the lamb)

The night before, cover the beans by an inch or so of water and let them soak.  The next day, put the beans, lamb bones, onion, carrot, celery and lemon verbena in a big pot and cover all parts by 1/4 inch of water. Bring to a boil and simmer gently over low heat until the beans are tender, one to two and a half hours.  Be sure not to add salt until after the beans are soft.  If you do add salt early on, the beans will never soften and cause indigestion.

When the beans are soft, add salt to taste - start with 1 Tablespoon and go from there - be sure to taste the broth instead of the beans, because it will take a while for the beans to absorb the salt.  After salting, continue to cook the beans over very low heat (or just let them sit with the stove turned off) for at least another half hour, but not so long that the beans cook too much and fall apart.  Before serving, remove the onion quarters and large chunks of celery.  Use a slotted spoon to serve, leaving the liquid in the serving bowl.



Spring Greens with Orange Fennel Vinaigrette (adapted from Epicurious.com): 

makes 8 servings

1/4 cup fresh blood orange juice or fresh orange juice

2 tablespoons minced shallots

2 teaspoons grated orange peel

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh fennel bulb

2 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds

3 blood oranges or seedless oranges

12 cups torn assorted salad greens (such as arugula, watercress, mâche, and endive) 

2/3 cup walnuts, toasted

salt and pepper

Whisk the orange juice, shallots, orange peel and honey in a medium sized bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in the oil, then fennel and fennel fronds. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill. This dressing can be made up to a day in advance.  Re-whisk the dressing before using.

Peel the oranges and divide them into sections. Working over a bowl, cut the membranes off each section of orange. Combine the greens and walnuts in a large salad bowl.  Drain the orange segments and add them to the salad. Toss with enough dressing to coat the greens evenly, you may not use all of the dressing.  Season with salt and pepper and serve right away.



AsparagusAndSnappeas  I have to say that the Easter Bunny has a tough job - hauling all that candy around, hiding all those eggs, I'm shocked he hasn't run out of creativity and taken the holiday off yet.  But I see that Paas has taken some sort of road out because this year there were only five colors in our box.  Pink, orange, yellow, blue, green. No purple.  No turquoise, or whatever that other one usually is.  But lots of Cars stickers - and three plastic egg wraps.  I guess that is supposed to take the place of the two missing colors.

Its a good thing our bunny took the high road in terms of candy this year, and shopped at Miette, the best candy store in the country.  Walking into the Hayes Valley Miette is like going back it time, to some magical candy store I never had as a child. I love it.  

The candy store I do remember from my childhood was up at the corner of my block and the cross street that would take us to school.  It was called Prospectors because it was on Prospect street.  They stocked ice cream bars and Bottle Caps, Twinkies and Snoballs and those weird snacks with Andy Capp on the bag that only highschoolers ate.  But the best treat of all - Wacky Packs.  And how wonderful if you spent 20¢ and ended up with one of the rare ones - like Hipton Tea Bags or Kook Aid.   I always seemed to have multiple copies of Chock Full o Nuts and Bolts or one of the cigarette spoofs, which my mother would confiscate.

Anyway, all this bunny prep necessitated an easy dinner - and it was.  The kids wouldn't eat the salad, but the pitas and chicken disappeared, which is good enough for me.

Grilled Chicken Pita Salad (adapted from Sunset Magazine April 2010):

2 chicken breasts

1 bunch asparagus

handful of snap peas (if you have them in your garden)

lettuce for four (one big head or a similar sized bag of mesclun)

2-4 pitas, sliced into 8 wedges each

3 Tablespoons olive oil

juice of 1/2 lemon

salt and pepper

Cook the chicken breasts on the grill.  Because grills are so different, its hard to estimate when yours will be done.  To test for doneness, cut into the thickest part of the breast.  If it is opaque and releases only clear juices, it is done.  If you don't feel like grilling, use a grill pan on the stove or just pan fry them in a bit of olive oil over medium heat.

Wash and dry the salad.  Bring a pot of water big enough for the asparagus to fit in to boil.  Wash and trim the ends of the asparagus, wash the snap peas, pull off any leafy bits you don't want to eat.  When the water is boiling, drop the asparagus and snap peas in for a minute, then drain them into a colander in the sink.  Brush the sliced pitas with olive oil, sprinkle salt on top and toast them, either in a toaster oven or regular oven, set to 450˚ or so.  Keep a close eye on them so that they don't burn. When the chicken is done, slice it.

In a small jar, put two Tablespoons of the olive oil, all of the lemon juice and some salt and pepper. Put the lid on and shake it up. Put the salad greens in a large bowl, shake the dressing again and just before serving, pour it over the top.  Toss the salad, then divide it into bowls.  Also divide up the asparagus, peas, pitas and chicken into each bowl.  Serve right away and eat!