What I did this summer

The summer of 2014 is at an end. In Colorado it was a wet one. The garden did well this year.

I kept up with the produce but I invited neighbors and friends to stop and “shop” as well. Joy said this was better than the grocery store because she could come in her nightgown.

the 2014 garden

The food processor I got for Christmas got plenty of action with chopping and shredding

the food processor

I used this batch for a zucchini chocolate cake with a chocolate cheese frosting.

I forgot to get a picture, but I’ve made the cake for two potlucks.

At Mary Beth’s Labor Day party I got a standing ovation from an admiring crowd stating it was the best chocolate cake ever. Then laughed when they heard I snuck vegetables in a dessert.

shredded zucchini

Our neighborhood is full of rabbits (lack of foxes and presence of coyotes). One and maybe two bunnies made it into our garden although interestingly they haven’t eaten anything that I can see.

the garden bunny

 We grew cilantro this year, it was gorgeous so I tried my hand at some Indian Chutney.

making chutney

This Cilantro Chutney recipe is from The Splendid Table (my favorite website).

I fell in love. I put it on roasted chicken and fried eggs.

cilantro chutney

I joined the spiralizer craze, getting one for my birthday.

the spiralizer

I spiralized carrots, zucchini, potatoes and yams. I loved placing the carrots and the zucchini in a microwave safe bowl, steaming it for about a minute and tossing basil pesto in it. Yummy!

It could also be adapted into a cold salad and tossed with a vinaigrette or dressing.

spiraled carrots

I had a lot of cucumbers this year. This salad was a combo of cucumbers, mint (both from the garden) with black and white quinoa and brown rice

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This next recipe was from Bon Appétit  magazine Watermelon Gazpacho.

Cantaloupe was abundant and inexpensive at the grocery store, so I adapted the recipe.

melon gazpacho ingredients

Patty’s Cantaloupe Gazpacho. Oh it was so good. Sweet and cool eaten as an appetizer on the back porch.

melon gazpacho

 This recipe was also from Bon Appétit  magazine for a Grilled Salad.

I adapted this as well. The romaine lettuce was 99 cents per head. I brushed it with olive oil and my husband grilled each side for about 1-2 minutes. Oh this was wonderful! I adapted this recipe to what produce was available.

grilled salad

And finally, Ginger Marmalade. I was excited to make this recipe since sampling James Keillor and Sons Ginger Marmalade.

I surveyed many recipes on-line, it was a daunting task.

peeled ginger

shredded ginger

Time consuming little recipe!

hand blended ginger

canning the marmalade

Ginger can be a bit HOT. This marmalade was HOT. The ultimate experimenter, I looked at other recipes and found an Orange-Ginger Marmalade. So I mixed my marmalade with regular store-bought orange marmalade and tamed it down a bit.

I also used it as a glaze for roasted chicken and roasted carrots from the garden.

ginger glazed chicken & carrots

I went to Portland in August with nursing colleagues Nancy, Rita and Kathy, for a conference. A manager for a local retailer tipped us off on to Nong’s Khao Man Gai food truck for lunch.  Nong was the named Food Network Chopped Champion just 4 days before we visited.  What a sweet girl who has her own bottled sauce and make the best chicken and rice.

Nong's Food Truck

It was a summer of reflection for me. Autumn will bring some changes. Ready for new challenges.

A Fearless Woman

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Culinary Tea Party


Culinary Tea cookbook

The Fearless Cooking Club and friends gathered to celebrate all things tea. We had food steeped from tea in eggs, candy, fruits, vegetables, and salmon. We also drank tea as well. Culinary Tea written by Cynthia Gold, the tea sommelier at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel and Towers, was the basis of most of the recipes. Char visited Boston last fall and enjoyed an afternoon tea a the hotel. She delighted us with her cooking skills and beautiful setting to enjoy a culinary tea.

Char and Debbie greeted us at the door with a flute of champagne infused with raspberry truffle tea syrup. Wow!

hostess and greeter

the culinary tea table

Each guest was presented with a card to keep track of types of teas tasted.

place setting

culinary tea card

We started with a flowering tea pod or bud.

pouring the water

After pouring hot water atop, the bud opens into a beautiful flower

flowering tea

Our first course was marbled eggs. They were hard boiled eggs, the shells cracked but left intact then steeped in green tea with brown sugar. After two days of steeping in the refrigerator, the shells were removed and voila marbled eggs.

marbled eggs

The marbled egg was served with rose petal and wine salts and mixed green salad.

marbled egg, flavored salts

Each guest brought a tea pot. We all went around the room telling the story of our teapot and the type of tea we were sampling. This was an opportunity to share our teas with others.

tell us about your tea pot

The main course was salmon en papillote steeped with darjeeling tea and acorn squash with chai cherry walnut tea.

Salmon en papillate with acorn squash

To cleanse our palate before dessert we had a Blackberry tea sorbet. I was surprised it wasn’t made with a blackberry tea. Instead fresh blackberries, sugar and Darjeeling or Assam tea.

blackberry tea sorbet

And for dessert (I was so full by this point), Riesling Poached Pears with Cardamon cream and

White Chocolate chai and Earl Grey Chocolate  truffles

poached pears and truffles

Patty’s Points:

1) Everything was sumptuous and beautiful. Char hit a high mark with her beautiful presentation and culinary tea skills. Her dining room was a beautiful tea room.

2) Char said that if she could change one thing she would’ve put more cracks in the egg shells before steeping them in the tea for 48 hours to add more marbling. I thought they were wonderful. The salts made of rose petals and wine were Mary Beth’s contribution from her trip to Europe this past fall. Thanks Mary Beth, they were a spectacular addition.

2) Everyone had a touching story to tell about their tea pots, given to them by loved ones or special memories of purchasing it. I didn’t have a remarkable story to tell about my tea pot, I had just purchased a new one the day before as I had broken mine. Pictured below is a combination tea pot and cup that belonged to my mother. She purchased it in Ireland (I believe), made in Galway. My father is caring for it at present. I carefully dusted the glass shelving it sits on along with twelve Irish coffee cups. I hope to collect it someday.

Irish teapot and cup

Thank you Char for a wonderful afternoon of all things tea!

The never ending search

The planning for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year has been going on for a month and a half now in the food and crafting blogs. This past week I saw posts on planning, cooking, decorating, and recovering from Thanksgiving. Luckily, I only had to make two side dishes to the Thanksgiving dinner I attended.

This great big world of the internet is kind of funny.  I am sure that you, like me, have been searching for new recipes and looking for old standards to make and share with our loved ones. Dinner, cookie swaps, afternoon teas, potlucks, parties, brunches and cocktail hours.

A new favorite website of mine is Pintrest; my daughter got me hooked on it. I’ve discovered that the pictures are sometimes better than the actual recipe. That is the beauty and the downfall of the internet and blogging.

I recently read a blog post on Blogher.com about Martha Stewart’s comment where she was uncomplimentary to amateur internet food bloggers.  I like Martha Stewart, especially when she was new in the business and was more involved her television show and magazine. She’s been to jail, she’s been humbled, she knitted sweaters; she’s been there and did that. Her humble beginnings are now a big conglomerate. Her brand also has a professional blog , Martha Stewart “Up Close and Personal.”

I started The Fearless Cooking Club and this blog out of admiration for Julia Child. Julia had humble beginnings and was a pioneer in cooking and television. She wasn’t afraid to make mistakes. She lives on with her quotes, philosophy and recipes on PBS.com. The blogging world is a combination of Martha and Julia. There are big blogs and small blogs; there are blog businesses and blog amateurs. I am an amateur with a small blog. There are other small bloggers out there like me.

I’m a self-taught cook and blogger, I’ve learned a few things about recipes. So in the spirit of this blog and the holiday season here are my points on the never ending search for the great recipe.

Patty’s Points:

1. When reading a recipe, look at the ingredients first. I blogged about this back in 2011. I was philosophical back then.

Do you like the ingredients? Are they in your pantry? Will it take time out of your day to get them? Is the ingredient necessary to the recipe? or could a substitution be made?

I make substitutions all the time. I regularly substitute chard for kale. I am still harvesting chard from my garden. To buy kale specifically for a recipe would be wasteful. It is an equal substitute.  Sometimes substitutions just don’t work, like putting Stevia or Splenda to replace sugar in a baking recipe. I tried this with a blueberry pie recipe last year. I’m not sure it tasted very good. It definitely would not work with taking candy to a hard crack like this Pumpkin Brittle.

pumpkin brittle

2. Read the directions. Do they make sense? Are they easy to follow? How much time will it take? Will you need to refrigerate the ingredients over night?

smores picture

homemade marshamallows

I have never made homemade marshmallows –  yet.directions

When I first started cooking and baking I threw everything into a bowl or pot and that was it! Very little technique was involved. I read a hand written recipe that had the ingredients on the card and at the bottom the directions were ‘Cook for 1 1/2 hours.’  If you don’t have any cooking knowledge or memory of how it is made it would be difficult to follow. Many loved recipes my mother wrote on stationery from my dad’s business. I’ll never throw them out because they are priceless piece of my family history. But, I’ll have to draw on my cooking knowledge or memory to make it.

Cooking and baking is about technique. The directions help develop technique and skill. I’ve been reading about how to make croissants off and on for several months. There is a lot of technique to making croissants and some day I may tackle it. In the meantime, I am still reading about it, getting up the courage to make a mess in the kitchen. Croissants take at least two days to accomplish. It wouldn’t be a good idea to start making it then go out of town next week.

3. Have you made a recipe similar to this one before? From your past experience, is there an easier way to make the recipe than the directions?

I made a turkey meatball soup today. I had all but one of the ingredients on hand but it was easy for my husband to pick up while doing errands. It took a day of preparation before I made the soup. I had to thaw the ground turkey overnight and there were a lot of ingredients that needed chopping. I chopped all the ingredients and placed them in a container to refrigerate overnight.

The next morning I was putting the recipe parts together. The meatball recipe looked bland; the cooking technique looked like it might be mushy.  So I referred to two of my basic, stand-by cookbooks. One cookbook  mentioned that if making the meatball with poultry you should refrigerate the balls for one hour before cooking or they would fall apart. The other cookbook advised to put the meatballs in mini muffin tins to keep them firm and round.  Also, one of the ingredients was 1/2 cups brown rice. Was is cooked or un-cooked rice? I couldn’t tell, so I relied on my instincts of making a similar meatball recipe. Everyone has their own way of doing things, but it needs to translate to my kitchen.

meatballs

meatball soup

4. My kitchen, maybe like yours, is the dumping ground for purses, grocery bags, kitchen equipment etc. Sometimes I am spinning around my kitchen looking for the olive oil bottle and still can’t find it because of the clutter.

piles in the kitchen

kitchen clutter

dirty dishes

Before making the recipe: a) clean the kitchen, b) do the dishes, and/or c) clear the clutter. I think in the directions it should say have those as the #1 on the list. You run the risk of starting a fire or dumping ingredients all over. I accidentally dumped cake batter onto my Brighton purse once. That was crazy. Everytime I carry that purse I think of that day! Don’t you wish you would see Ree Drummond or Lidia Bastianach show how they clean the kitchen before and after making their signature dishes?

Good luck out there navigating the internet. Five weeks of the holidays are yet to come. And don’t forget, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner!

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Julie’s Apple Butter

The cooking club members gathered at Julie’s house this past week to relax and enjoy the beautiful fall we have had this year.

2013 Fall

We had a fall assortment of dishes; tomato bisque, mini pepper appetizers, apples with salted pumpkin caramel sauce, fresh grapes, pumpkin bread, and sweet potato pie. We also got an lesson on how Applejack liqueur is made from fermented apples that freeze in the winter. I mixed my 1/2 shot of Laird’s Applejack with warm apple cider. My legs got a little warm and numb with that 80 proof concoction.

applejack

Afterward, we commenced to making Julie’s family apple butter recipe. She cut the original recipe down for an easy undertaking.  Julie likes using Pink Lady apples.

Julie’s Apple Butter

6 C diced apples (about 6 medium to large apples)

1 2/3 C apple cider

1/4 C apple cider vinegar

1 1/3 C sugar

2/3 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp cloves

1/8 tsp allspice

Peel, core, and dice 6 medium to large sized apples to make 6 cups.

pink lady apples

Place in cooking pan and add the cider and cider vinegar.  Place on high heat until boiling for about 20 minutes, stir occasionally. Reduce to medium heat and add the sugar and spices, mix well and stir occasionally.  After another 20-30 minutes reduce the heat again to medium-low and cook for another 40-45 minutes. The apples will be soft and with a brown syrupy liquid. Remove from heat then mash the apples to eliminate the lumps. Place into jars and either process for canning or place in refrigerator for up to one week (if it lasts that long :))

cooking it down

Patty’s Points:

1.  Since the cooking process is 1 1/2 hours, we had to leave Julie’s house before seeing the final product. I made a batch at home tonight. It was easy to let it cook on the stove while I did other chores around the house.

2. I couldn’t find Pink Lady apples at my local supermarket. I found this website on the best apples for making apple butter. I chose Fuji apples from the list. The apple should be a softer type apple

3. I used my apple corer-slicer-peeler and the process went very quickly in prepping the apples.

apple peeler

4. I used my hand emulsion blender when the apples had cooked through to mash the apples into butter.

emulsion blender

5.  It is a very sweet butter with the sugar and the apple cider combination. You could easily decrease the sugar to one cup or less to your taste. I also substituted the spices listed in the recipe with 1 tsp of apple pie spice. What a yummy, smooth and sweet butter. It was yummy to top on buttered, whole wheat bread.

apple butterI had never made apple butter before this week. I felt my midwestern roots when making this classic recipe. A  flashback to childhood.

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The Korean Dinner Party

Kimona wine bottle cover

The Korean Dinner Party was a two-part adventure. The first party was held at Seoul Barbeque in April.

The thought of making the food for an actual Korean party was a little overwhelming. We thought we would partake in one of the best Korean restaurants in Denver first.

at the restaurant

Look at all the little side dishes that go with the sliced beef!!!

Seoul Barbeque

While we munched on all the delicious food, I showed this article from Bon Appétit about hosting a Korean dinner party.  After a short discussion we decided that we could put this party together! Barb volunteered to host.

Fast forward five months….

Shopping at M Mart

All adventures must start with shopping. M Mart is a Korean/Japanese Grocery Store.  We let Barb take the lead with shopping she had more experience. She and her husband adopted their son from Korea. Barb has visited Korea twice and raised her son by exposing him to his native land. M Mart has a great choice of meat and authentic Korean ingredients.  The meat for bulgolgi is thinly sliced rib eye steak on the cross grain.

stacks of rice

stacks of rice

IMG_3202Korean radishes

After filling our baskets we ventured over to the H Mart which is a large Asian grocery market. It was huge. The produce and kitchen wares were overwhelming. What fun it was!

long green beans

Really long green beans

tons of wares

Asian housewares

Now, lets get down to cooking.  First with the rice.  This is a Korean rice cooker – the Cuckoo. Three minutes before the rice was cooked, the top shot off steam. Then it spoke in Korean that the rice was done (I’m guessing) and it tweeted “Cuckoo!” So cute!

IMG_3217

This is when it is good to have a lot of people in the kitchen… chopping and shredding and mixing ingredients.

chopped vegetables

IMG_3227

IMG_3232

Bibimbap

IMG_3237

Doenjang Jjigae soup

IMG_3240

Bulgolgi

Doenjang Jjigae

Rice starch water:  rinse rice once with water and drain.  Add a 1/2 cup of water again, toss and swirl around the rice for 30 seconds. You will see the water turning milk-like.  Add 2 cups o water and swirl to collect all the starch from the rice. Drain to save the starch water in a bowl (it doesn’t say how much rice to start with – we used a couple of cups of dry).

2 cups rice starch water (see above)
6-7 dried anchovies (cute little silver fish)
1 piece (3″) dried sea kelp
2 generous TBSP Doenjang (soybean paste)
1/2 package (4 oz) firm tofu, cut into 1″ cubes
1/2 onion diced
1/2 zucchini diced
1 tsp Korean chili flakes
1 garlic clove chopped
1 green or red chili sliced (I didn’t use this)
1/2 package enoki mushrooms or one handful of any mushrooms sliced
1/2 Asian leek or 1 green onion sliced

Directions:

1.  Bring small 1 quart stone or heavy bottom pot over medium high heat.  Toast the anchovies for 1 minute and pour the rice starch water into the pot.  Add the sea kelp and bring to boil; simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove the anchovies and sea kelp and discard them.
2.  Using a course mesh strainer, mash the Doenjang paste into the pot so it incorporates into the stock. Add onion, zucchini, chili flakes and let them boil.  Add tofu, garlic, chili and cook for 2 minutes.
3.  Lastly add enoki mushrooms and green onion.  Remove the pot from heat and serve hot with rice.

Patty’s Points:

1. The key to a good Bulgolgi is how the meat is cut. Barb said that she once purchased a ribeye at a local market and tried to get the butcher to cut it thinly on the cross grain. It didn’t turn out that well.  This is where an authentic Korean market shines.

2. The bibimbap bowl is made of granite. It is heavy-duty so it can be heated on the stove top. It has a specific handle that looks like a clamp, to transfer it to a serving plate. The hot bowl crisps the cooked rice, then each ingredient is added and topped with a fried egg. Prior to eating, all the ingredients are cooked when mixed together.

3. The Doenjang Jjigae reminded me of Miso Soup (which is Japanese). The difference is that all the ingredients are Korean based.  The fish broth was easier than I thought. The dried anchovies were cute.  Anchovies and kelp were added to the rice water but removed/strained before combining the ingredients.

4. Barb said that everywhere they went in Korea, they were served watermelon for dessert. Our dessert was watermelon, Asian pear and a matcha tea roll cake.  They were nice and light sweets after a full meal.

5. The key to our successful party was gathering together to prepare it. We all brought our own knives and cutting boards to keep up with all the chopping. All week I thought about how much fun the party was; it brought a smile to my face 🙂

드세요
deuseyo
“bon appetit”: French » Korean

How do you spell spelt?

Spelt is an ancient grain that is a distant cousin to wheat but existed centuries before. Hmmm…How did I stumble onto spelt?

Well I have experimented with my diet of late. My hairdresser told me about the Fast Metabolism Diet (FMD) and how she, her sister and mother had lost weight. She said it was quite healthy, so I had to check it out.

The FMD rotates in three phases by which to eat certain foods that will speed up your metabolism. My summary is this: you eat every 2-3 hours, no dairy, no flour, no soy, no corn products, no alcohol, and no sugar. You eat a lot of veggies, protein, drink lots of water and eat moderate amounts of fruit, oils, healthy grains like steel-cut oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, or spelt.

spelt flour

I’ve lost 5 lb. I’d like to lose 15 more, but I’m still working at. It is hard to go from semi-healthy eating to completely healthy habits in a month.

Anyhoo… I had to try a spelt recipe since I had never heard of it nor made a recipe out of it as yet. I was looking on Pinterest.com and came across Homemade Spelt Tortillas from fellow WordPress bloggers The Adventures of Z and K.

Spelt Flatbread

2 C spelt flour

3 TBSP olive oil

3/4 tsp salt

2/3 C water

Mix oil,salt and spelt flour together then mix in water a little at a time until incorporated, but not too sticky. Knead for 1-2 minutes, Rest for 20 minutes.

Cut the dough into 8 pieces with a pizza cutter. Roll out, flour the board or pastry cloth if it is sticky.

rolling tortillas

Heat a non-stick pan and brown for 1-2 minutes on each side.

spelt flatbread

Yummy flat bread!

Patty’s Points:

1. Spelt is not gluten-free. It is a cousin of wheat but people with wheat allergies do not have the same problem with spelt.

2. I found it easy to work with just like regular flour.

3. I heated up my pan initially really on high but had to turn it down to med-low, so as not to burn the bread. I found that 1 1/2 minutes on each side was perfect.

4. The hubby and dog loved the flatbread.

waiting for bread