Sunday, October 24, 2010

holidays are coming!

and this year I'm reverse-appliqueing some motifs from Frank Lloyd Wright's houses (this one was a pattern in cement blocks in a wall) for the architect in my life.

For more on reverse applique, see these previous posts from me:
2009: Irish County T-Shirt
2008: Maidenhair Fern Pillow Covers (in velvet!)
2008: Tallulah Bankhead T-Shirt

And this post from the woman who brought reverse applique (along with a unique business plan and eco-conscience) to exquisite heights in the fashion world, Natalie Chanin:
DIY Eagle T-shirt

To make your own one-time-use stencil out of cheap printer paper (which has the benefit of being easy to cut, for all that it is a flimsy stencil), spray the back of your stencil (after you've selected, enlarged, printed, and cut out your image) with a repositionable spray adhesive, available at some arts and crafts stores. It basically turns the backside of your paper stencil into a giant sticky note. I have found that the adhesive did not leave a residue on these shirts, even though I left the stencil on the shirt for two weeks while I applied multiple coats of fabric paint.

autumnal eating

nothing quite like a bit of wild mushroom bisque with a savory pumpkin-shallot biscuit to take the edge off the cold and damp (emphasis on the damp today) and bring a little more warmth to these dwindling autumn days. Though I've made this soup before with only shiitakes and portabello mushrooms, I think I prefer the delicate combination of chanterelles and lobster mushrooms. The latter, true to their name, lend the flavour of shellfish to the soup, which pairs nicely with the apricot sweetness of the chanterelles. I add a little bit of shiitakes to ground the flavours with something a bit earthier.

Wild Mushroom Bisque

1/4 c. (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 c. flour

about 2 c. loosely packed sliced chanterelle mushrooms
about 2 c. loosely packed sliced lobster mushrooms
about 1/2 - 3/4 c. loosely packed sliced shiitake mushrooms
3 Tbl. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbl minced fresh rosemary
1 c. cream sherry
3 c. vegetable stock
1 c. heavy whipping cream
2 c. nonfat milk

Use the butter and flour to prepare a roux: melt the butter in a small sautepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, to form a thick paste with a toasty smell. Do not let the roux darken. Set aside to cool.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add mushrooms, onions, rosemary, and garlic. Saute over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and burning, until the mushrooms and onions have softened and begun to caramelize, about 10-15 minutes.

Add the sherry and cook until liquid has reduced by half. Add the stock, milk and cream. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat to keep the soup at a simmer. Stir in the roux a tablespoon at a time until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. You will probably need all of the roux, but feel free to make a thinner soup if that's your preference.

Puree the soup in a blender or food processor. Return to pan and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Savory Pumpkin Biscuits with Chives and Caramelized Shallots

2 shallots, thinly sliced
1-2 Tbl. olive oil

2 1/2 c. flour
1 Tbl. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
4 Tbl. (1/2 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces

2/3 c. pumpkin
1/4 c. milk

5 scallions (green onions), dark green ends only, chopped

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit

Heat olive oil in a small saute pan over medium heat. Add shallots and reduce heat to medium-low. Saute until deeply caramelized and crispy. (Note: you can prepare the biscuits while these cook, just keep an eye on them and keep stirring occasionally as necessary to prevent sticking/burning). Drain on paper towels. Chop or crumble between fingers.

Meanwhile in separate large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter pieces with pastry blender or fingers until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add pumpkin and milk and combine to make a soft dough, adding more flour as necessary if mixture is too sticky.

Work chopped chives and crumbled shallot into the dough, then turn dough out onto a floured work surface and knead until dough is smooth and elastic. Roll out to 1/2 to 3/4" thick and cut into small rounds (I used a small-mouth mason jar as a cutter; you could also use a glass or - of course - a proper biscuit cutter).

Place biscuits on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment. Allow some space for rising, though the pumpkin seems to prevent them from puffing up too much, so you don't need to space them more than 1" apart. Bake at 425 for 15-17 minutes, or until they have turned golden (or really, a slightly deeper shade of orange).

october sunset

getting cold here

simple is delicious

cut 4 plums into quarter, removing pits. Place in a roasting pan. Drizzle with the juice of 2 limes, sprinkle 1 Tbl sugar over, then drizzle with 1 Tbl. olive oil. Sprinkle 2 Tbl. chopped fresh rosemary over the plums, laying four sprigs of fresh rosemary in among the plums. Bake at 375 until plums are soft and juices have become a thickened ruby sauce.

Remove from oven, let cool slightly. Top with a dollop of plain nonfat strained greek yogurt or better, plain Icelandic skyr (I like Siggi's skyr, which I find at Whole Foods). Drizzle with just a touch of honey.


checking off old to-dos: wool pants to wool shorts

these were too-short wool pants that I've owned since about 2003 and haven't worn since at least 2006 (if not longer). Took a bit of doing to get it hemmed properly/smoothly since the leg was tapered through the thigh, but I think I'll get more use out of them in their new incarnation. Hope so, anyway.

pilaf for dessert

I don't know about you, but I grew up with a lot of rice pudding. My mom would make it with regular milk instead of cream, with raisins and just a little butter. We'd have it for dessert, then leftovers would be breakfast the next morning. My dad and I would sometimes eat leftover white rice cold, with a bit of milk and sugar. It was kind of a thing. I'll still do this for breakfast on hot summer mornings, only now I mix the nonfat milk with a bit of lowfat coconut milk, and top it with mango slices or fresh strawberries. So I'm partial to sweet pilafs for a snack, for breakfast, for dessert. It's familiar, comforting, and most of the calories come from rice - which is really not a bad thing, in my book. (Especially if you make brown rice, though admittedly I didn't do that here.)

So, when I had some bananas about to go bad one day, I decided to make bananas foster - rice. I cut the four bananas lengthwise, then sliced the halves into 1/2"-thick half-rounds (approximately). I melted 1 or 2 tablespoons of butter, added a tablespoon of brown sugar, some vanilla, and spices (I think I used nutmet, cloves ... and maybe ginger or cardamom?). I added the bananas and cooked them over medium heat until the bananas were soft and the butter/sugar cooked into a thick syrup. Meanwhile, I cooked 1 cup of basmati rice with 2 cups of water. When the bananas were soft and the rice was fluffy, I stirred it all together. Try it - it's a good, simple treat!

well hello there

going through images left on my digital camera, I realized how many posts I've been meaning to put up. Whoops, sorry about that.

So let's begin with a recipe we made a week or two ago from a cookbook we got for our wedding (Earth to Table): a pizza topped with shredded chanterelles, corn kernels, fresh thyme and goat cheese (we used maple-smoked chevre). Literally, that's all that topped this pizza. Simple, and delicious. I think next time, I would use a thin crust and brush it with olive oil and season with some salt and pepper, too. Delicious!