25 August 2013

grits with fresh corn and bacon

This is grits with the addition of fresh corn (two ears for one cup of dry grits); make the grits (I used ½/½ water/milk, so a cup each, with ½ tsp. salt), sauté a couple of strips of chopped bacon and then add the corn, removed from the cobs, and try to get some color. Fold the bacon and corn into the grits with some cheddar (I used a two-year-old cheddar), and top with shrimp and parsley if that strikes your fancy. The shrimp is nice, but decadent; the parsely actually makes a huge difference and brightens the whole dish.

blueberry-apricot preserves

After having thought that apricots were gone for the season, I found some at a farmers' market on Saturday. In my zeal, I purchased more than I'd eat in a week, so I deciced to make a jam with them and some delicious Michigan blueberries. Apricots and blueberries complement each other wonderfully here.

This is a basic jam recipe: I used 1 lb. apricots, ½ lb. blueberries, and 1 lb. sugar. I cooked this with the kernels of about half of the apricots, wrapped in cheesecloth for easy removal (break the pits by tapping them with a hammer whilst wrapped in a towel, as I did for this tart). I added the zest and juice of a lemon partway through. I cooked this until 220º (F), and once it would jell on a saucer that had been kept in the freezer, I removed the apricot kernels, ladled the preseves into jars, and processed them in a hot water bath for 12 minutes.

black turtle beans

I purchased some lovely black turtle beans from Breslin Farms (Ottawa, IL), and have had somewhat of a love affair with rice and beans since. These beans are incredibly tender and toothsome, cooking up beautifully (with coriander, cayenne, cumin and chicken stock). Paired with Spanish rice, sautéed zucchini and topepd with an egg and cilantro, this was important comfort food during a month of working more than I'd like to admit.

24 August 2013

nature morte

The smell of this basil mingling with this cantaloupe is intoxicating. I recently made a salad with cucumber, zucchini, melon, basil and onion (based on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's salad, but without olives and with the addition of basil), which was great, these seem to want something else.


I am quite thankful that I have been able to find great tomatoes, such as these cherokee purples, in Chicago. It makes a composed salad all the more glorious: with potato salad (à la Julia Child, basically a vinaigrette-based dressing), blanched green beans, red lettuce, and a delicously bright local egg.

21 August 2013

hazelnut cake + plums

Hazelnut cake (a Deborah Madison recipe) with two varieties of plums (whose names are escaping me), soaked in kirsch. Simple, especially if you have a pre-made cake in the freezer! 

13 August 2013

boozy sour cherry and chocolate mousse cake

Melt some bittersweet chocolate with espresso and beat eggs with sugar over a double boiler.

Beat the egg mixture and chocolate mixture; bring some egg whites to soft peaks, add sugar and bring to stiff peaks: fold into chocolate mixture. This fabulous mousse — from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking — will form the second layer of the following cake:

One layer of chocolate chiffon (with a splash of kirsch), a layer of Julia's mousse (with kirsch in lieu of orange liqueur), another layer of chiffon, a layer of sour cherries (stewed, set with tapioca starch and finished with—you guessed it—kirsch), more chiffon. I finished this with a crumb coat (it sets the top) of mousse followed by a generous glaze of chcocolate ganache.

Serve with boozy (read: kirsch-laden) whipped cream. Add candles (and sour cherries soaked in Everclear, orange and hibiscus) and it's the cake for a fabulous friend's birthday!

mushroom tart

I was hoping for something like oyster mushrooms, but the market today was devoid as apparently they have been finicky this season: either growing faster than they sell or not much at all.

Nevertheless, crimini make for a great base, with a good deal of shitake (about a ½ lb crimini, ⅓ lb shitake). Sauté onions and shallots, add sliced mushrooms, salt and pepper. De-glaze with the juice of a lemon and a splash of brandy.

And voilà: baked in a partially prebaked tart shell with a mixture of crème fraîche (8 oz.), egg yolks (3), fresh thyme, and topped with anchovies.

(Modified slightly from Tartine [Prueitt and Robertson, 2006])

08 August 2013

rhubarb-apricot-peach crisp

I don't know that I've seen apricot and rhubarb in season at the same time before, but the combination of them with Saturn (doughnut) peaches yields a wonderfully tart and delicious crumble. The fruit was tossed with mace, tapioca flour and turbinado sugar; the topping is butter, almond and wheat flours, sugar, salt, and cinnamon.

07 August 2013

mustard ravioli with chanterelle creme sauce

Mustard green ravioli (greens wilted in a sauté pan with garlic and then cooled, chopped and combined with a bit of Parmigiano-Reggiano, Gruyère, salt, pepper, and nutmeg).

With a heavenly chanterelle, shallot, and cream sauce.

There is little more to say, but I am really happy with the combination of the ravioli that had no ricotta and very modest portion of cheese with the rich cream sauce. It was delicious.