When life gives you lemons….

Lemons

Life is a big ball of stress at the moment. I’m handling things as best I can. Today I retreated to my back yard for some sun.

I’m grateful that the house next door is currently unoccupied. That means I can pick fruit from the trees in their yard that hang over into mine. Bowls full of lemons and blood oranges. The blood oranges are weighing down the three to such a degree that soon I’ll have bowls and blowls of them too. I haven’t decided what to do with these yet, but give me time. The down side is that they are working on the apartments and soon people living there may have something to say about my pilfering. For now, I’m grateful for the bounty.

Oranges

Chokes

They were part of my house mate’s CSA box. I’m not really a fan of them since in my mind they’re the Kim Kardashian of vegetables…prickly and a lot of work for very little pay off. There’s a reason artichoke dip has a litany of other ingredients to make it palatable.
Yet they look great. That color and texture is hard to resist.

Chokes

I had pulled them out of the fridge and tossed them on the kitchen table so I could get access to something else. I looked up and saw them sitting there and the photographer in my head starting making obscene comments about my lack of produced work lately. It’s a simple shot but it says what I wanted to.

Thanksgiving Leftovers Stew

Like many people, I am still faced with a pile of Thanksgiving leftovers several days after the event. I’ve had turkey sandwiches and Brussels sprouts for lunch and midnight snacks of stuffing. And yet despite all that, I still have a ton of food to use. Rather than let them go bad or try to throw them in freezer where they would sit for months, I opted to make a unilateral use of them. It was just a matter of being honest that, no, I wasn’t going to have time to make something with all that turkey meat AND make something with all the left over side dishes AND make something with all the left over turkey stock. So I made an easy turkey stew by throwing everything (Yes, everything) in the crockpot and beefing it up with rice . The cranberry sauce added a pleasant citrus note and the chopped giblets that never made it in the gravy added richness. The left over bread stuffing dissolved and thickened the stew along with a roux.

Thanksgiving leftovers stew

This really is an easy dinner to make while doing weekend housework and will feed everyone (at least in my house) for several days. This will be especially good on a series of days where we are expecting some serious rain and chills. A quick batch of biscuits to go along with the stew makes things perfectly filling and enjoyable. Sure it’s not exactly a low fat salad, but you can go to the gym later when it stops raining.

Approximately 8-12 oz of chopped turkey
Approximately 16-24 oz of left over side vegetables like squash and potatoes.
1 large onion
3 stalks of celery
1 large carrot
2 large bay leaves
1 tsp poultry seasoning
2 tsp rosemary
2 tsp tarragon leaves
Olive oil as needed
3 cups turkey stock
3 cups water
1 cup of rice
1 stick butter
½ cup flour

1) Dice onion, celery and carrot. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until translucent.
2) Add turkey and mix well and then add poultry season, rosemary, tarragon and bay leaves. Mix well.
3) Add liquids and bring to boil.
4) Add everything to a crackpot and then add rice. Allow to simmer for 2-3 hours.
5) Melt butter and add flour and stir frequently over medium heat until roux begin to color to light brown. Add to crick pot and allow to thicken.

Peas out of the pod

I love peas and always have. As a kid I’d get a can of British baby peas for my birthday and I thought how special that seemed. With time I’ve grown like the peas right out of the pods and look forward to spring when they become available.

One of the signs that spring has gotten firmly entrenched is the arrival of spring peas at the farmers markets. The piles of bright green pods might still be a few weeks away in other parts of the country but here in San Francisco, we are lucky to have them now. While it’s great to have them, the peas inside may not have had time to fully mature yet. Certainly most pods have large peas inside, but some may need another week or so before they are at their best.

Peas with their pods and spring onions with bacon
Despite that minor issue, you shouldn’t put off buying them now. The peas right out of the pods are sweet and grassy in flavor and have a pleasant crunch to them. A quick dunk of shelled peas in some salted boiling water and then dressed with butter is how most people serve them. Most people unfortunately just toss the pods in the compost. The pods shouldn’t be wasted because they have an equally pleasant crunch and flavor. This recipe uses both with a spring onion bought form the same vendor at the Galleria farmers market in the Financial District. Instead of cooking them fully, this recipe just barely lets the heat from the other ingredients warm them so they retain their fresh crunch and flavor to contrast with the other flavors.
• Approximately 1 pound snap peas
• 1 small spring onion with half the stalk
• 4 slices or 2 oz bacon
• 1 tsp fennel seeds
• 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
• Olive oil as needed
• Salt and pepper

1. Shell peas from pods. Stack pods and cut into ¼” slices. Set both aside.
2. Cut onion into ¼” dice. Slice stalk as you would a leek.
3. Cut bacon into ½” pieces. Over medium heat, render the fat out of the bacon with a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Take your time here so the bacon doesn’t burn.
4. When the bacon has started to brown, add the onion and stalk and sauté until just translucent.
5. Add vinegar and deglaze the pan with the liquid. Continue to cook until reduced by half.
6. Turn off heat and add pea mixture. Toss quickly and taste and adjust for salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve.
Snap peas and their pods with homemade bacon and spring onions

A version of this article also appears at http://www.examiner.com/article/spring-peas-and-pods-with-spring-onions-and-bacon

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Meyer Lemon and Herb Sauce

Lemon pasta is one of our “go-to” easy meals that we have been making for years. It’s quick, uncomplicated and relatively healthy. Normally we serve it during hot weather, but with Meyer lemons being plentiful at Bay area farmers markets, it seemed like a perfect time to make it. The citrus and herb flavor just makes us feel like spring is all that much closer.

pasta_2

We try to keep it fresh by not getting trapped in a set way of making it. Sometimes we use parsley, other times basil and yet others tarragon. Sometimes we use spaghetti, other times linguini or sometimes even penne. We also make sure to add more grated Parmesan than some recipes might suggest to make sure we get a creamier sauce. Adding some diced chicken rounds out the dish for a full meal but leave it out if you want to serve this as a first course. You can also add toasted walnuts if you want to make it a fully vegetarian meal. It also fares well the next day if you need to bring something for lunch to work.

3 cloves of garlic
¾ cup olive oil
Pinch of chili flakes
2 Meyer lemons, zested and juiced
1 cup tightly packed parsley leaves
1 cup grated Parmesan
1 cooked chicken breast, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound whole-wheat spaghetti

1) Cook pasta according to directions.
2) Heat oil in a small sauté pan and toast garlic cloves and chili flakes until the garlic just begins to brown.
3) Add garlic and oil to the bowl of a food processor with the parsley, lemon juice and zest. Puree till it forms a loose paste.
4) Dice chicken and mix with sauce and grated cheese in a mixing bowl.
5) When pasta is al dente, add to mixing bowl, using a little pasta water to loosen the sauce if needed. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
This article also appears on http://www.examiner.com/food-in-san-francisco/whole-wheat-spaghetti-with-meyer-lemon-and-parsley-sauce

The Pleasure of Persimmon Curd

One of the joys of living in the Bay Area is our access to fresh fruit year round and local persimmons are abounding in farmers markets this time of year. Their vibrant orange color is hard to miss.

We’re using the oblong Hachiya variety here. As David Leibovitz says “They’re incredibly tannic and astringent when not ripe and need to be squishy-soft and feel like a full water-balloon before using”. If you can only find hard unripe fruit, place them in a sealed container with an apple for a few days on the windowsill until they are ripe.

You can use them in cake or breads but they are also quite well suited to for curds. The fruit puree is a vibrant orange but settles down to a lovely pastel that goes well as a filler between cake layers, spread or toast or just eaten straight out of the container while giggling to yourself about how good it is.

Persimmon Curd

Recipe follows

Check List

2 dozen spice cookies with chocolate ganache – done

giant bowl of chex mix – done

garlic sausage rolls – in the oven

glazed ham – in the oven

sweedish meatballs – next on my list

crudite – as soon as my roommate gets out of bed

cheese and beer dip – will do that once the meatballs are done

grog – will get that percolating around 2

nog – apparently we have a few people with immune system issues so no raw egg rum for us

Starting a new holiday tradition – in progress