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Archive for March, 2013

From Dish Amelia:
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I was casting about for what I would post this month for my SLD, and the topic ended up finding me in the most natural and planetary of ways. There were so many signs in fact, that I had to list the indicators just to look at because everything seemed so connected and clear. (Cycle, Spring, oval, egg, Easter eggs, Easter…)

I decided to try making the kolache. The kolache are a Czech pastry, but it is so much more. I know what these are because both of my parents are from Texas and we would visit sometimes when I was growing up. There is a solid old Czech community near my dad’s hometown, and he impressed on me the importance and specialness of getting the good kolaches in the tiny town of Snook when passing through. (Mom, Dad, kolaches, fruit, wildflowers, jewel tone colors…) It happened that my mom just went on a little road trip to see the wildflowers, and she sent a few pics. And, I just happened to work a catering job at Lincoln Center for the new play “Ann”, abut Ann Richards, the former governor of Texas. To add to the Texan reminders, large swaths of Brooklyn were just looking towards or went to Austin for the South by Southwest music festival. (Ann Richards gig, SXSW, Texas, New York, Brooklyn, Greenpoint, Poland, Eastern Europe, Czech Republic…)

I figured that the Tall Pole might have some awareness of this pastry, because many eastern European traditions carry a level of crossover, like poppy seeds. (Traditions, poppy seeds…) The Pole was not really sure, but was not opposed to my investigation, sweet-toothed as he is. I turned to the Eastern European Food section of About.com, an excellent resource, and found the related Polish kolaczki, which was interesting. But this was not the type I was going for, which led me to the obvious next stop: awesome food blog Homesick Texan written by Lisa Fain (who also has a great cookbook). Of course she did a post on kolaches. And weirdly enough she had posted in March of 2007, leading me to wonder about kolaches and springtime. (…food blogs, springtime, traditions, New York…) Her post is wonderful, and I can only add a slightly different angle, and also a bit more sugar, as the kolaches I remember are a bit sweeter than her recipe. I also left off the sprinkled topping. (Hers is adapted from Texas Monthly and the Houston Chronicle, mine is adapted from hers.)

1 packet active dry yeast

1 cup warm milk

1.2 cup sugar

3 cups AP flour

2 large eggs

3/4 cups melted butter

1 tsp salt

fillings at your discretion

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Photo from mom.

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Prepare your starter. Combine sugar, yeast, 1 cup of flour (whisk) and then milk

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Cover and let it double in size and get foamy.

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Mix together melted butter, salt and eggs

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The starter has become foamy! Mix the butter/egg mixture into this.

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Then mix in flour, a 1/2 cup at a time.

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Knead ten minutes. So fun. Place in an oiled bowl, cover and let rise one hour.

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Look at that! I’m always impressed by yeast.

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Pull off pieces and roll into egg-sized balls…

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Flatten into disks and brush with melted butter. Cover and let rise another half hour.

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Prepare your fillings. I chose mine based on tradition and color variety. There are several Polish pastries I’ve seen in Greenpoint that utilize this chocolaty looking (not chocolate) paste. With some investigation and many questions directed at the Tall Pole (who probably never imagined he would field so many) I found that this ingredient in Polish is called masa makowa, or poppy seed butter, and usually contains almonds and sugar. One can make this easily, but to save time, and invest in some authenticity, I braved the crazy Easter line of the Polish deli to grab some. It’s quite good. I also got some crumbly farmer’s cheese

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The fillings: strawberry, sour cherry, orange ginger, farmer’s cheese (with maple syrup drizzle, my one liberty), and poppy seed paste. Obviously you could (should?) make these too, but for maximum variety I used high quality, few ingredient jams. In the future I think I would just make my favorite or be more experimental, but I wanted to tap into tradition, not expand on it just yet.

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Make a decent indentation with your fingers and spoon in the filling.

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Bake at 375 for 13 minutes. Brush them with melted butter (why not?) when they come out. Let them cool a bit and savor this new rite of spring.

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From Dish Rachelle:
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The Boy and I recently joined a CSF (Community Supported Fishery), on the recommendation of former Dish Jess who, with her husband, runs Fair Share CSF in San Francisco.  I’m bummed we can’t support her business but we’ve fallen in love with the Village Fishmonger! Once a week we get a small bundle of fish, anything from Yellowfin tuna, to monkfish, to trout, to clams.  As adventurous eaters and pretty capable cooks, we love the challenge of working with a surprise ingredient every Monday.  It’s like our very own episode of Chopped.

I like ceviche but this is my first time making it at home, in part because I’ve never before had access to a seafood source that I trusted enough to go raw.  But week-after-week of beautiful fish convinced us to take the leap – and I’m still very much alive to tell the tale.

This simple recipe is pretty free form, and you can substitute any of the ingredients for others, if you prefer – lemons for lime, cilantro for parsley, etc.  However, if you’re going to use another fish, do a little research.  Fluke can (and should) be tossed in the marinade and then served almost immediately; if you let it soak in acids too long, it will get tough.  However, if you use raw shrimp, for instance, you’ll need to let it sit overnight before serving to get the texture right.

Ingredients

Serves 2-4

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2 medium fluke filets, sushi grade

½ ripe avocado, diced

Juice of 2 limes

Juice of 2 blood oranges

Salt

Oregano

Fresh jalapeno slices

Chopped scallion

Sliced radish

Chopped parsley

Olive oil

Sea salt

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Make your marinade.  In a large bowl, combine juices, salt, a pinch or two of oregano, some jalapeno slices (to taste), some scallion – and anything else your heart desires.  Taste it to make sure the salt levels are right and it’s something you want to eat.

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Let stand for about 15 minutes so that flavors combine.

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Just before you’re ready to serve, slice your fluke into bite-sized pieces.  If there’s a little lag time between slicing and serving, put it back in the fridge – you want the fish as cold as possible.

When you’re ready to eat, toss the fish and avocado in the marinade, stirring to combine.  Let stand for 3-4 minutes so the flavors soak in, then plate, garnishing with scallion, radish, parsley, a sprinkle of olive oil and some sea salt.

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From Dish Danielle:

Pinch a Pisces!
…Or maybe make them some ice cream instead?

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March marks my birthday month and to celebrate like any sweet-toothed Pisces should, I gathered my nearest & dearest round for some cones & cocktails.  I’d tried my hand at this recipe the weekend prior, but on my 31st, I wondered if the wisdom of this new prime number might perhaps enable me to make a more sophisticated batch…?

I was absolutely spot on, and my second try absolutely bested my first.

Did you know Pisces are apparently very intuitive?

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Ingredients:

2c whole milk

2c heavy cream

6 blood oranges: 4tbs zest & 1c juice

6 large egg yolks

¾ c sugar

zest infusing 2

In a small pot, place milk & cream over low heat.  Add 3tbs zest, whisking to incorporate. Allow liquid to come to temp slowly, letting the zest impart its delicious flavor.

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Put yolks in a small bowl next to the pot on the stove. When milk/cream is hot enough, (just before boiling), add juice & sugar to yolks.

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Whisk vigorously to incorporate. Use a spouted receptacle and scoop up approx. 1c of hot liquid. Pour liquid in a slow and steady stream into the yolk mixture while SIMULTANEOUSLY whisking like hell. Once the yolks have been tempered, (that’s what that last move is called), dump that mixture back into the pot. Using a wooden spoon, stir slowly while custard continues to cook over low heat. Prepare an ice bath with a glass or metal bowl nested on top. The custard will eventually begin to thicken considerably, which means the yolks have been cooked properly (don’t raise the heat much—that could result in an overly eggy-flavored ice cream. Patience is a virtue that this Piscean dish barely has. If I can wait it out, you can too!).

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Once the custard has thickened, immediately pour it through a fine strainer and into the bowl in the ice bath. This will strain out the zest—we’ll add a bit of fresh stuff later. Stir gently to cool. Once the custard has come down in temp, place it in the fridge for a good 5-6 hours, or overnight.

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Once you’re ready to churn, get your ice cream making apparatus ready. Before pouring the custard in, buzz the liquid with an immersion blender if you have one, (if not, pour it into a well sealed container and shake it like mad). After 20-25 mins of churning, your ice cream should be close to ready. At this point, with the machine still running, sprinkle in the remaining 1tbsp of fresh zest for a pop of color and an added zip of flavor. Store in a freezer friendly container once it’s finished. I usually allow the ice cream to sit in the freezer for another few hours before serving.

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Scoop into sugar cones and dole out to your guests during your next social gathering!

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From Dish Nicole:

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It sometimes works out in the land of Saucy Little Dish that we dishes have the same thing in mind.  Last week Deanna posted her quinoa recipe and simultaneously I had quinoa on the brain when I came across this recipe for a quinoa bake in the New york Times.  Quinoa is classified as a pseudo-cereal rather than a true cereal, or grain so I decided to make it pseudo-healthy and bake it into a gratin.  Who doesn’t love a delicious cheesy gratin anyway??  Plus I was just bringing the side dish; my good friend was making us the healthy main dish of fish and asparagus to accompany my quinoa creation.

1 6-ounce bag baby spinach

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 plump garlic cloves, minced

4 cups cooked quinoa, (1 cup uncooked)

2 large eggs

3 ounces Sharp white cheddar cheese, grated (3/4 cup)

1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage

1 ounce Parmesan, grated (1/4 cup)

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Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and start out making your quinoa as instructed (1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water).  I added chicken broth instead of water for added flavor.  While the quinoa is cooking, prep your ingredients and wash the spinach.  Leave a little of the moisture on the spinach and heat in batches in a large skillet over medium heat.  Once the spinach is wilted let it cool or rinse with cold water, squeeze out the excess water, chop and set side.

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Next you will want to heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add in your onion and cook until soft.  Add in the garlic and cook for approximately 1 minute before adding in the chopped spinach.  Add salt and pepper and set aside.

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Next beat the eggs in a large bowl and add in the sage, spinach mixture and the cheddar cheese and mix well.  Pour into your gratin dish (aka baking dish) and smooth out.  Sprinkle the grated parmesan cheese on top, drizzle a little olive oil and bake until golden brown.  Approximately 30 minutes.  I prefer the top a little crunchy so I left it in a little longer.

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End result: crunchy, cheesy, yummy.

*The original recipe called for Gruyère, I chose to use sharp white cheddar instead.

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From Dish Deanna:

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I’ve never actually made quinoa before this recipe. I’ve always been a rice and couscous kind of girl but something about quinoa really intrigues me. Quinoa is appreciated for its nutritional value (14% protein!) and considered easy to digest. Those two things are very important to me in my diet so I decided to give it a try. If you don’t season it well it could be very bland, much like couscous. I find this grain so interesting because it can be made for so many different things. Plenty can be put into it and made as a whole meal, or it can be enjoyed as a side dish. For this recipe, I made a sweet quinoa side dish!

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa

½ cup sliced or chopped almonds

1 cup chicken broth

1 and ½ hot water

½ tsp salt

1 cinnamon stick

1 bay leaf

½ cup dried cranberries

almonds

First, over medium heat, I toasted the almonds. Make sure that you stir continuously or they’re likely to burn. When the almonds turn golden brown add the quinoa into the pan. Stir for a few more minutes until the quinoa begins to darken.

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Transfer the toasted quinoa and almonds into a saucepan and add the water, chicken broth, salt, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, and cranberries. Bring to a boil, simmer, and then cover for the next 20-25 minutes. When the quinoa has consumed all the liquids, fluff it with a fork. Don’t forget to take out the cinnamon stick and bay leaf! No one wants to chew on those…

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Let the quinoa sit for 5 minutes before serving and then ENJOY!

me with quinoa

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From Dish Amelia:

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Nalewka (Pronounced Nah-Lef-Kah) is a Polish cordial or aged homemade alcoholic tincture. This variety happens to be lemon and honey but you could make it with nearly anything. It is meant to be sipped and is even regarded as having a medicinal purpose; whether to calm the stomach or make you sleep soundly (heh). I got curious about this concoction when my favorite tall Pole described it to me as a popular traditional project. Then messages had to be sent, many questions asked, and a loose recipe transcribed and then tested. Looking through a variety of recipes, I would say this is a Polish version of Limoncello, perhaps. I now want to make a cherry and a ginger one. You know, for medicinal purposes.

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1 bottle Spirytus (This is grain alcohol which is scary stuff. One reason this is so easy to make is that you can dilute the alcohol as much as you choose, and a bit at a time) Start with this amount and it will go quite far.

10 lemons, juiced. (The Pole noted to keep at least a seed or two, and as much pulp as possible, as this is a homemade product and this helps to signify this.)

water (You must do this to taste. We started with 1:1, but this was too strong, so we added 200 more ml. (When you make this drink you have to use the metric system.)

a bit more than 1/2 cup honey. (Also to taste)

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Pour the honey and a bit of water into a saucepan and heat, so the honey dissolves into the water. Let this cool a bit or put it in an ice bath. Mix all of the ingredients, pour into bottles, shake, and store in the freezer. Serve in tiny glasses and sip.

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From Dish Danielle:

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What’s a dish to do with the ugliest character in her winter CSA share!? Eat ‘em fresh! I personally had never been confronted by this mysterious German turnip before, and I will admit, that I left it abandoned in my fridge’s crisper for far longer than I should have… Once I finally worked up the nerve to peel, slice, and sample this crunchy orb, I found it surprisingly mild in flavor and still very fresh considering it’s relegated hibernation…ahem. A fresh winter salad recipe is below. This is loose so feel free to add/subtract & riff on it to create the perfect winter salad for you:

Kohlrabichiffonaide 2cut

Ingredients:
-1 medium Kohlrabi, peeled
-1 medium bunch Lacinto Kale, destemmed and chiffonaded.
-1 bunch of dill, rough chopped
-1 c dried sour cherries
-grated zest of 1 lemon
-4-6 tbsp, fresh squeezed lemon juice
-few splashes of olive oil
-a squeeze or two of honey
-2-3 garlic cloves, minced
-S&P to taste
-1c alfalfa sprouts (if you’d like)

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Peel the kohlrabi and cut into thick matchsticks that are 1/4″ wide & 2″ long.

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Place all ingredients, (minus the sprouts if you’re using them), into a medium sized salad bowl. Get in there with your hands and massage the mixture–this allows the lemon to soften both the kale & kohlrabi just a bit. Let the salad sit for about 10minutes.

*chef’s note: I only had 1/2 a bunch of kale, so I used a mixture of kale and added 2 large handfuls of my CSA mesclun salad mix, which was great!

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Add the sprouts and mix once more–making sure to separate the threadlike bundle and incorporating thoroughly. Now’s the time to taste and adjust the salt/honey levels if needed. If you find a puddle of dressing at the bottom of your salad bowl, using tongs, lift the salad and place into another bowl leaving the juices behind.

Happy crunching!

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