Wednesday, February 29, 2012

We got the beet

Beets are a delicious, simple food I like to have on hand - especially the ones I get from my CSA share with One Straw Farm. I almost always have a container of beets in the 'ol fridge.

Say you don't like the beet? Many people have only ever had canned ones...and You need to have fresh, roasted ones. Here's how I make mine: cut the beets in half, place in aluminum foil and add olive oil, raspberry balsalmic vinegar, orange juice, a few sprigs of thyme and salt + pepper and roast @ 400 for an hour. Let them cool completely, then peel. I've also peeled them before roasting, but I like cooking them really well first, then they're easier to peel. Either way, it's a little messy, hon. p.s. Feel free to use any herbs you like...beets are easy that way.

Have you had the beet salad at demi? It's shaved beets, asparagus, fennel, honey whipped chevre, coriander-grapefruit vinaigrette. Ridiculousness. And one of my fave dishes at Rocket to Venus? Beets, candied walnut, tangerine and feta tossed in light sherry reduction and extra virgin olive oil. I even asked the food service folks where I work to consider putting roasted beets on the salad bar (and, they did - thanks, Chef Bob!)

You can even have beets in your dessert. I had the most amazing golden beet saffron sorbet at Humphrey Slocombe in San Francisco a few years ago and I can still remember the taste.

My view on food - and life - is to keep an open mind. You just never know what you might like.

You might say I'm obsessed with beets...but I just know what I like. Give 'em a try!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Pie or DIY?

I didn't grow up eating pies...we were more of a cake family. Cake mixes, to be exact. I grew up with five older brothers, so Mom was a little busy. So when I started baking a few years ago, I thought...hmmm, what about pie? Who doesn't love pie? Pie sounds good. Let's make pie.

I started with a simple pumpkin pie and sweet potato pie (my fave) and then I got into strawberry rhubarb pie. Rhubarb completely fascinates's both beautiful and tart and is the perfect companion to sweet things like fresh local strawberries in the springtime. Last year, I planted rhubarb in my back yard and I can't wait for it to start sprouting!

I tend to make pies based on what's in season and fresh at the market, but usually use pre-made crusts from the grocery store and they've always served me well. Those food engineers really know what they're doing!

Then, I finally decided to make a crust from scratch with the help of Smitten Kitchen (thanks, Lesley!)  I followed the Cooks Illustrated recipe using part butter, part shortening Who would ever imagine vodka in a pie...not this novice baker! It turned out well and I shared it with some friends. They all raved, but they had also said they loved the ones I made with crusts I'd purchased.

Then...I had a bake-off in my tiny little Hampden kitchen. I made two blueberry pies - one with a homemade crust and one with a Pillsbury crust. I used blueberries simply because Whole Foods had tweeted about a buy-one-get-one-free dealio a few days prior.


My neighbors and friends were my taste testers. While they loved the flakiness and texture of the scratch crust, the taste overall was not THAT much more amazing to us overall, so I doubt I will be a faithful homemade crust girl. Maybe I would if I had a little more free time...but also, baking requires precision...and I think I'm more of a 'smidge of this' and 'handful of that' kinda cook. Much like my grandmother - she didn't even use recipes. I have a lot of friends who would never-in-a-million-years buy a pie crust. I respect them completely. I just cannot hang with them on this.

Here are a few of my fave pie recipes:

Peach creme fraiche pie
Strawberry rhubarb pie
Chocolate creme pie

Do you bake? What's your specialty? Cake? Pie? Recipes? Tips?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Ready, set, Gojee!

In a past life, I worked at the Baltimore Museum of Art. I loved working amidst amazing old masterpieces, contemporary art and everything in between. One of the huge perks of my job was the behind-the-scenes sort of access which comes from a private curator-led tour. I always felt so cool and 'in the know", learning from the people who put the show together. I loved hearing their insights on how and why they selected certain pieces and how it all worked together. 

When I first started cooking, I'd visit sites like My Recipes, All Recipes and other big websites filled with user generated content. The sheer number of chili recipes, for example, can be quite overwhelming - and don't get me started on lasagna. And ratings or not, how do you really know if that "Katie's Heavenly Chocolate Cake" will live up to the name. Sometimes the recipes on those big sites were good...but the time spent searching for them was just too precious to me. Don't you have better things to do than scroll through hundreds and hundreds of pie recipes?

Enter Gojee...a recipe site that is actually curated, meaning that not all recipes make the cut. You can search for recipes by ingredient, either via ‘cravings’ or by one key ingredient you might have in your pantry. You can also add your dislikes and allergies, which is a great time saver. What you get is a very manageable list of recipes. Gorgeous photos, too.

So, say I have a butternut squash staring at me from the kitchen counter or maybe soba noodles in the pantry that I bought on a whim at H Mart. (Both true for me right this minute.) I simply put that in the crave section...and get hand-picked recipes from great bloggers like Food 52, Eat Boutique, Sassy Radish and tons more.

Here are a few dishes I've made from Gojee (the photos are from the site, not by me):

Soba Noodle and Warm Vegetable Salad

Butternut Squash Risotto with Sage and Saffron

Chicken Soupy Stew

The editors of this beautiful and succinct cooking website are much like the curators at the BMA...only with food. It's pretty amazing.

Search, cook, eat.

p.s. Gojee has a Drinks site, too!