Waffling about Waffles

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I received my first waffle maker as a Christmas gift from my sister-in-law Laura, some 22 years ago.  I coveted that thing, but in all honesty, probably only used it a dozen times.  It was stored in a hard-to-access cabinet, along with, many other “need-to-have” tools that were rarely used, if only because they were out-of-sight.  Not “outta sight”, as in Issac Washington cool, but out of sight, as in, can’t see it, don’t even think to use it kind of way.

Then those damn Eggo Waffles that I used to crave as a kid kept showing up in my freezer somehow.  Until, of course, those healthy versions of “Eggo” waffles kept showing up in my cart (and then into the freezer).  How easy was that?  Pop into toaster, butter, syrup and then eat, yum!  Now that’s convenience.

Then the whole gluten-free fad took hold, convincing even the most unconvincible (Me) to think about not eating gluten.  Until.  Until!  Until…I realized, (yes, me, I figured it out) that gluten is only bad for you, if it is actually something your body can’t handle.  For instance, if you have, (oh) say…Celiac disease.  Not if you have… “I-need-to-stop-eating-gluten-because-everyone-says-so disease”!!!  I didn’t want to catch THAT virus!!!

A few years ago, I began wanting to make waffles again.  Previously-mentioned waffle maker was no where in sight (yes, pun intended).  I think it had made it’s way to the garage during our kitchen remodel, over 10 years ago, never to re-surface again.  In any case, I wanted a waffle maker!  I needed a waffle maker!  I did a little research.  Tom did a little research.  And one year later, I still didn’t have a waffle maker!!?

One weekend, while at “the cabin” (my in-law’s vacation spot in Hoodsport), we discovered a waffle maker in the far-back reaches of the pantry.  We decided to make waffles!  Turns out, this might not have been the best idea?  Well, actually, it was a good idea, it just was not a good waffle maker.  What seemed like a solid piece of classic, old school kitchen equipment, began quickly to appear more like a medieval torture device.  Two burns and no waffles later (all the batter stuck to the grids, which simultaneously came out to attack me) I decided to seriously re-think buying a waffle maker; they were dangerous.
V e r y ,  very dangerous.

I continued to dream about waffles; sometimes with blueberries and maple syrup, sometimes with fried chicken and champagne.  Finally, I decided that while I had always been more partial to waffles, pancakes were equally good.  I would continue to make pancakes.  Yes! pancakes were good enough for me.  And safer.

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As I shut the door to waffle making, Tom opened his secret quest to find a waffle maker that I would love.  Christmas morning, I said hello to my new friend, the waffle maker.  It too was stout, was friendly to the eye, it was easy to understand, and most importantly, it did not attack.  Waffles are now in solid rotation on the weekends at Chez Stacey.

On a recent weekend, we were at “the cabin”; this time, my in-laws were there too.  As we discussed plans for food, the subject of waffles surfaced.  How perfect for a forest escape?  But I let it be known that we would not be making waffles with their waffle maker!  Lois and Bill both looked at each other perplexed.  “What was wrong with it?”, they wanted to know.  “Well let me tell you”, I said, and boy I did say.  In fact, I said quite a bit.

They continued to defend it,  so I curiously encouraged Lois to show me what I was doing wrong.  The next morning, we awoke to the happy site of a busy kitchen.  Coffee in hand, I took my place at the counter to watch the show; the batter was mixed and ready to go.  Lois went to the pantry and pulled out a waffle maker that was compact, on a stand with a handle and looked nothing like the one I had described.  “Where did that come from?”, I asked.  “That’s certainly not the one I was talking about”.  “Oh”, she replied, “you must be talking about that old one that was stuck back in the corner”.  Yup, circa 1965 we’re guessing.

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WAFFLES
Makes approximately 6

The first few attempts at making waffles on my new iron were fine but a little too heavy; perhaps I was trying to be a little too healthy with the type of flour and lack of oil; sorry Tom!  I did hit gold on pass three though.

These are made with whole wheat pastry flour but yet are still light, fluffy and with the perfect amount of crisp.  They freeze exceptionally well, which makes for a great way to enjoy an easy Sunday brunch the following weekend.  You can scatter a handful of blueberries over the batter after it is poured in, or for another variation, try mixing in a TB of cocao powder to the batter and serving it with bananas and creme fraîche.

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp sea salt
3 tsp baking powder
2 tsp raw sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs, yolk and white separated
1 1/2 cups almond milk
10 TB butter, melted

PREPARATION

Mix the dry ingredients together, sifting the sea salt through your fingers to make it finer.

Mix the butter with the almond milk.  Whisk the egg yolk to mix and add to the milk mixture.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff (or nearly stiff if doing by hand).

Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until well mixed.

Fold in the egg whites.

Let sit for 10- 15 minutes while you heat up the waffle iron.  I use the Breville waffle maker which I put to “Custom” and cooked for 5 minutes.

I'm feeling a little hungry

I’m feeling a little hungry

Hey Ginger, want to go get waffles?

Hey Ginger, wanna go get waffles?  Ok, Buddy, but I thought we weren’t supposed to have gluten?  Oh well, we’re 16, I suppose we can do whatever we want.

I hear there is a good diner just ahead

I hear there is a good diner just ahead (here we go a waffling…)

Those were good but Mom's are better

Those were pretty good but Mom’s are better

 

 

Lamb Curry (happened along the way)

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I was standing at the meat counter patiently waiting my turn. The gal ahead of me, a lovely Indian women, kept adding items to her order; “while you are down there, add four of those”, she said, speaking of lamb shoulder blade chops.  I contemplated those chops as I eyed the lovely marbling of fat nestled amongst the thick, red slabs of meat.  I have contemplated them before but pass them up for the illustrious rib rack or humble bone-in leg.  She seemed so confident in her selection though, that I couldn’t help but ask what she was doing with them; a lamb curry she replied.  “I brown them first, which is the most important part, then add some Indian spices, chopped onion, tomato and braise them. It is kind of like making a stew; sometimes I’ll add turnips or something, then you can just let it go by itself”.

Then it was my turn to place an order, which began with two pounds of ground lamb (one of which would be used for Ginger and Buddy’s dinner), 1 lb of apple-smoked bacon (breakfast maybe?), a slab of baby back ribs (they looked particularly good), and what the heck, “I’ll take four of those too”, I told the butcher, pointing to the lamb shoulder blade chops.

Off I went, with my packages in the cart and on to the cheese counter where I sampled the Spring Gouda (and threw a wedge of that in on top of the other things that were not on my list). I was standing in the bread aisle when I heard an announcement over the speaker for the person who took the wrong cart to please come to Customer Service; “idiot”, I snickered. For now I was intent on finding my chestnut crackers and luckily found the last pack straggling behind by itself on a lower shelf.

My mind was scanning itself for what else I might be forgetting; I had come here for three items and wasn’t convinced that I had any of those three yet in my cart. I had spent so much time in produce that I lost track of why I came to the store in the first place. Ah yes, fresh-squeezed orange juice, check; I remembered getting that from produce. Natural all-purpose cleaner, yes, I remembered going with the one that disinfects. Check. Chestnut crackers, uh huh, just picked them up. My work here was officially done.

I got to the check out counter (20 minutes later) and as I stood in line, a weird sensation came over me. I felt a little lost as I started pulling the items from my cart onto the conveyer belt. I had picked up a large planter of baby lettuces from the garden racks outside on my way in; where was my planter? Who took my !@#$%! planter?

In the child’s seat of the cart, were two ears of corn, Roma tomatoes and a plastic bag with three mangos. I had selected two ears of corn but mine were much smaller and while I also chose three mangos, I had just thrown them into the main compartment without a plastic bag; I rarely use a plastic bag. I knew I didn’t put those tomatoes in because I always buy the brown tomatoes, if not those, the ones on the vine; vines that these tomatoes were missing. A wave of panic came over me as I looked up onto the belt and scanned it quickly for my cold-pressed orange juice. It wasn’t there. Tom would freak!

I looked at the gal behind the counter and asked if she remembered the earlier announcement about the missing shopping cart? I was standing there holding a plastic bag with a single artichoke, I had not picked out, and confessed, “It was me, I am the idiot that took the wrong cart.  It was me!”

She told me to go to Customer Service but, nobody was there , and I did not see a cart with my items. So I left the, mostly empty, cart with the wayward corn, tomatoes, mango and artichoke (in case it’s owner came back) and ran quickly to produce so I could get another orange juice (for Tom). On  my way back to the register I grabbed an ear of corn, a mango and a bag of cherries, assuming that I had lost the rest of my produce. I got back just as she was finishing up my order, handed her the items and she told me that she already rang up a bag of cherries. I was perplexed as to how I could still have had cherries in my cart when the cart must have gone missing after I left produce?!

When I got home, I realized that not only was I missing the cacao powder I had convinced myself to try, the sprouted brown rice I was happy to find, and that cute jar of local, raw honey, but I managed to make it back with only one of the items I had set out to buy, the orange juice (for Tom). I also realized that the bag of cherries were not the ones I had selected because my bag was open and this bag was closed. And, while I didn’t take the time to get another planter of baby lettuces, I did end up with a head of live lettuce, neatly tucked into a plastic bag. I guess it is like the song says, “You don’t always get what you want, but if you try real hard, you get what you need!”

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Lamb Curry

As I set out to make this, I realized that I had no idea what a lamb curry was. What Indian spices was the woman referring to? Does a curry need a curry paste or is it okay to use just the powder? Does it have to have coconut milk to qualify? I decided that it didn’t matter what an authentic curry should be, I would just approach it like a stew – with some Indian spices thrown in.

I started out with just the lamb blade chops, which were probably plenty of meat, but since we decided to take it with us to Hoodsport to eat with my in-laws, I decided to add an extra pound of lamb, but this time I used “lamb stew meat,” AKA chopped leg meat. I cooked that separately (because I had to cook it in “off-site” a few days later) with a sprinkling of ground coriander and curry powder, sea salt and pepper. I added red wine and let it braise, covered, for a few hours to get it to the same tenderness of the other meat. I then removed the meat from the lamb shoulder blade chops that I had already cooked a couple days prior, added them to the stew meat and poured the braising liquid and vegetables over top. I let that cook for another hour and left it to warm until we were ready to eat.

I always think it is better to make slow-cooked meals a day or so in advance because they tend to get better with a little age. You can make this with all stew meat or all blade shoulder chops, or a combination of both. I suppose, if you use the chops, you can serve them whole on top of the braise liquid and vegetables, but I think it is nicer to remove the bones and let the whole thing become one.

INGREDIENTS

2 lbs lamb shoulder blade, lightly salt and peppered, and at room temperature
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 TB chopped, peeled ginger (no, not that Ginger)
1 tsp curry
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp tumeric
2 TB chopped, seeded, jalepeño
4 kumquats, sliced thinly
1 large tomato, chopped
1 eggplant, 1/4” diced
1 turnip, skinned and 1/4” diced
1 cup red wine
2 TB lime juice
1/2 cup yogurt

PREPARE

In a large sauté pan, heat some olive oil and brown the lamb well on each side.

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A n t i c i pation…

Remove them to a large, low, oven-proof pan (I used my Le Creuset paella pan); add the onion, garlic and ginger to the hot pan. Sauté a few minutes and add wine, curry, coriander, turmeric and lime juice to the wine and simmer until it is just mixed together.

Meanwhile, scatter the jalepeños, kumquats, cilantro and tomatoes over top of the lamb.

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Pour the wine mixture over the lamb mixture and bring to a simmer.

Transfer the pot to a pre-heated, 350-degree oven and let cook for one hour.

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Mmmmm…smells gooood!

 

Add the eggplant and turnips by simply lifting the lamb out of the vessel slightly in order to tuck the vegetables underneath.

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Stir in the yogurt and cook one to two hours more or until the meat is very tender.

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What’s taking so long?

Either serve right away over (brown) rice or let come to room temperature and keep it up to three days more in the ‘fridge. If reheating, allow an hour in a 350-degree oven to let the flavors mix and heat all the way through.

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Is our food ready too?  Mommy, I think Buddy’s blood sugar is low; feed us, please!

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Sweet 16 & always been kissed, by Ginger & Buddy

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By Ginger:

Every year humans seem to complain about getting one year older.  This, I don’t understand!  How many of us actually get the chance to grow old?  I feel so lucky today because I have lived yet another year!  I have had 16 years (s i x t e e n  y e a r s!!!) of special salmon dinners and carrot cake.  I have had sixteen years helping Mom taste things in the kitchen, helping Dad have a reason to go clean up the yard and prove to Buffy that she sent the right dog to take her place as guardian of this home.

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By calculation, I am old but in fact, I feel very young!  I can run fast, climb stairs quickly, bark loudly with great force and authority;  I may even be getting my driver’s license soon (Dad says I have to practice a little more first).  I have traveled by plane, by train and by automobile; by bike, boat and shopping cart.  I have run freely on the beach with sand softening each blow.  I have entertained at parties.  I have made friends and influenced people (to my way of thinking).

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Really Mom?!

I have embraced the fashions, both classic and trendy.  I have been photographed, published, video taped and listened to.  I have made my mark on the world (or at least the world that surrounds me) and have every intention of making more marks!!!  (Including those that don’t need to be cleaned up!)

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Uh, yeah, deal with it. (Yes, Mom did.)

I am sweet sixteen and I have always been kissed, loved and hugged (sometimes within an inch of my life)!

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Kiss me you fool…

I know Buddy has not always been kissed  but he is kissed now, and often, with sometimes even a peck by me.  We are both sixteen now.  I wasn’t so sure at first, but we are both in this together and I want to do my part to keep him well, keep him with us and keep him feeling happy and loved (as I always have been).  Buffy would want it this way.  Happy birthday to us!

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(A puppy at heart)

By Buddy:

I’m 16 too!  I’m six-teen!   Me, s i x t e e n !  This has been a good year.  I am still here!  I very much enjoyed the summer last year when everyone was more concerned about me than usual.  Ginger and I got a new deck, very comfy new furniture on it to lounge, and so much love I was sometimes bothered, but just a very little.  I like it here.  I have an amazing new menu that is served to me three times a day (and more when I act feisty).  I am bathed every week, whether I like it or not, carried practically everywhere (even when Mom is cooking;  I like that I can get a good view).  I mostly even get enough exercise (because Mom and Dad bought me socks so I don’t slip so much when I can walk), and I get kissed all the time!  They say I am sweet sixteen and boy do I get kissed! (I’m glad I found my way to my true home five years ago).  Buffy was right, this is a great place to live!  I want to live!  I am alive!  Bring on the sunshine!  Oh, and I want to EAT mmore meet !!!

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Macaroons (Little Presents: orange-filled + chocolate Bailey’s-filled)

Macaroons are like flavored kisses, dressed up as little birthday gifts .  To our delight, Ellen, the most fabulous person at the place Mommy takes us for her work, brought us a plate full of flavored kisses last week.  We (Buddy & Ginger) think these particular kisses were meant for us.  Why wouldn’t they be?  It was between our birthdays and although Ellen doesn’t kiss us, she takes great care of us at the office and she even tucks us in our beds with a blanket.   Plus, she likes food.  Not in a simple, likes to eat food kind of way but in  a sophisticated picnic and pleasure kind of way.  She gets what it means to enjoy  food; which means, she gets what it means to enjoy life.  We like Ellen; she’s our pal.

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“Ellen, look at the view with me…  Oh and yeah, a little more to the left. Thanks.”

These macaroons were quite pretty but not in the macaroon, Paris poodle sort of way; more in the wow, cute, cuddly and scrumptious type of way.  Mom thinks macaroons are too fussy but she sure seemed to like these that Ellen made.  They were the right kind of pretty with pretension left aside.  They were Hobo Buddy kind of good, meaning, they had (almond) grit but lots of character and flavor.

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There are a few bits of advise concerning the making of these cookies that Ellen thinks are important to note (also underlined below in her recipe):

  1. The eggs need to be room temperature because they will whip better.
  2. Use parchment paper and smack the tray to get rid of all the bubbles.
  3. Let them sit for 1/2 hour; you should be able to touch them without them feeling sticky anymore.
  4. 4.  If you use almond floor, they will be smooth.  If you use almond meal, they will have little speckles (which is what Ellen used).

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“Happy birthday to us, happy birthday to us, happy birthday us cuties, happy birthday to usssssss!  Okay, time for a nap.”

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In loving memory of Buffy Edwards-Bender:  August 1985 – May 20, 2000.  We miss you!

 

 

Happy Campers

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Getting out of town is always a good idea, even when one lives in a good town.  A change of pace, a change of scenery, a change in attitude, a mini-break always does good things.  This weekend, I am taking you to the Hood Canal in Washington, where we will sit by the water, sit by the fire, eat oysters and fish, drink beer and wine, soak up the sun and breathe in the salty and fresh air.  We will watch eagles soar and happily look over our pups as they relax, play, sleep, eat and walk in the natural beauty of the NW.

Four weekends ago, we got out of town and headed to my in-laws vacation home 2 hours south of Seattle in Hoodsport, WA.  We have been there many times and enjoy every visit, but interestingly, we never once stopped at the waterside resort in Union, located a mere 20 minutes from their place called Alderbrook.  Being that it was a sunny Friday afternoon and hunger pains were calling, as we rolled through town we decided to stop and have lunch on their patio (finally).

Of course, despite this being the nicest Spring in the region that anyone can remember, the patio was not open yet (even though it was 72 degrees!).  BUT, they served “picnic lunches” which really was a fancy way of saying you could take the food “to go” and sit on the property, anywhere.  The best part for us (of course), was that our dogs were allowed to sit with us too.  We ordered a couple of drinks and strolled down to the lawn which was right at waters edge.  I went back to the car, collected Buddy and Ginger, and then the four of us settled into Adirondack chairs and watched a man collect many bags of oysters.  Many!

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And as the hours passed, starring at the water, the sky, the flora and fauna, a cart appeared and they were served water-side on the dock, being freshly-shucked as the happy guests strolled by.

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The lunch menu was extensive but not so large as to overwhelm.  It showcased the abundance of seafood we are blessed with in the Pacific Northwest and also provided plenty of alternatives to satisfy those that did not want to eat fish; the burger we tried the next day proved to be one of the very best (sorry Burger Stand)!

We were hankering for a well-concocted batch of fish and chips, and along with a couple of local beers, we ordered that as well as the brown sugar steelhead naan “sandwich”.  The fish and chips were thickly battered, cooked to the perfect state of golden brown, moist, tender and best of all, not soggily dripping with oil.  The tarter sauce boasted the perfect tang of pickle, partnered with just the right amount of dill.

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It was the steelhead that we were most taken with though.  So simple yet a delightful pocket of flavor easily eaten by hand; making a well-suited partner for the surroundings.  One order came with two rounds of naan spread in garlic aioli, topped with a single leaf of lettuce, a sautéed fillet of steelhead and fried capers sprinkled atop.  A wedge of lemon squeezed over just before taking a bite set up an explosion of flavor that was akin to the sound of a favorite jazz tune, keeping a beat slow and steady as expected but with a lick of sass thrown in.

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Nearby was a pit of fire sending out lovely wafts of smokiness that mixed happily with the briny air.  A happy bunch of “campers” were gathered ’round with sticks of marshmallows roasting.

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Buddy was snuggled in next to me, snoozing peacefully under the shade of my scarf.  Ginger had her own chair and eagerly looked over to the action at the fire pit, holding court as many other four-legged friends stopped by to exchange a quick hello as they moved on with their happy families

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Needless to say, we had found what seemed like, an old friend.  Sun, beachfront, comfy chairs and each other.

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Mixed with the company of our pups, good food, well-made drinks and the casualness of a day off at the beach, we were ready to move in.

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So as I write this, it should come as no surprise that we landed back to that happy place once again two weekends ago.  You can’t recreate a moment but you can create new ones, which is precisely what we did.  Sun, surf, substanence and seafood!  Life is good.

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King Salmon Naan with Fried Capers and Garlic Aioli
Serves 2

We recreated our (current) favorite menu item from the Alderbrook Resort at home, using fresh Alaskan king salmon, because that was what was most available to us at the time. Steelhead is a much thinner fillet which produces a crisp crust giving way to delicate flesh.  Steelhead is really just trout disguised as salmon.  King salmon is a happy substitute, also sporting a delicate flesh but is thicker, juicier and has more richness.

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This is a simple preparation as well as a healthy alternative to eating grab ‘n go when time is short during a busy week.  The naan we like to get is a brand called “Stone Hearth” and easily found at our local grocers.  The aioli we used was our go to”mayonnaise, aka Wildwood aioli that we buy at PCC or Whole Foods.  It is low in cholesterol and has a mildly sweet taste of garlic with the creaminess of mayonnaise but no chemical after taste.  The best capers are sold jarred in salt rather than brine. Yes, it does seem counter-intuitive but those stored in salt actually retain less sodium than those in liquid.  I always soak my capers in water and drain before serving to expel any additional, unneeded salt.  Just as they serve this at Alderbrook, for added crunch,  a nice hearty leaf of lettuce is used but for added color and perhaps a little bit of elegance, spinach can be substituted.

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INGREDIENTS

1 lb king salmon fillet, bones and skin removed
1/2 tsp brown sugar
Sea salt and pepper to taste
3 lemon wedges
Olive oil for grilling
2 TB Wildwood Aioli (or homemade garlic aioli) plus more for serving if desired
2 large, crunchy leaves of lettuce (Romaine, Red Leaf, Green Leaf or Butter Lettuce)
2 TB salt-packed capers, rinsed and soaked thoroughly in water for at least 10 minutes, then drained and soaked again.
2 rounds Stone Fire Naan, or other naan

PREPARATION

Rinse and pat-dry the salmon. Spread the brown sugar over the fillet and season lightly with sea salt and pepper. Squeeze the juice from one lemon wedge over.

Prepare a grill to very hot.

In a small fry pan, heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Drain the capers and pat dry. Add them to the pan and fry for a few minutes until crisp. Remove capers with a slotted spoon and let drain on a paper towel until ready to use.

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Brush the salmon with olive oil and brush the grill with olive oil (I prefer a dampened paper towel). Grill the salmon on the top side for approximately 5 minutes without moving. It is ready to be turned when it comes away easily from the grill with a spatula. Grill the second side until just barely cooked in the center, only a few minutes more.

Meanwhile, as the salmon is cooking on the second side, add the naan to the grill. Cook them on each side until slight grill marks form and the bread is soft and warm.

TO ASSEMBLE

Slather each naan with 1 TB aioli, top with one leaf of lettuce. Divide the fish among the two pieces of naan and top with a sprinkling of capers.

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Serve with a wedge of lemon and perhaps a side of sliced tomatoes.

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Do we have to leave?

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Happy Mother’s Day Mom (Pat), Mom (Lois), Mom (Linda), Mom (Talita), Mom (Doris), Sis (Laura), Sis (Christine) and Sis (Irma),; all of the lovely mothers in our family!!!!

Love,
Us (4)

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Time for a spa day!

The Sound of Spring (and a good egg)

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It is a bit like music, the sound of Spring.  The melodic repetition of a single bird, singing, loudly.  The slow and gradual whoosh of a warm gusting wind followed quickly by a baby sparrow calling out for food and possibly, a slight drizzling of rain.  All the while, the leaves softly rustle in the background, like a constant rolling of the drums.  A dog barks, three times.  My dog scratches, tch..tch…tch…tchh…then shakes her head. There is a rake, a bike and the near-to-far sound of a passing car.  A shovel moving gravel, thump, scrape, dump…thump, scrape, dump ricochets through the air from three houses away.  The bird is still singing, yet softer now and more happily; perhaps it has found something to eat?

BLOODY MARY ENGLISH MUFFINS and A GOOD EGG (serves 4)

I like to make my own bloody Mary mix, starting with a good can of San Marzanos tomatoes.  Having armed myself with a large container of my magic mix, I realized, it can be used for more than just a brunch-time drink; it can also double as a sauce.  The best part for this recipe, you make your drink and sauce with it too.

This English muffin is a simple yet elegant way to make something quick, satisfying and (somewhat) healthy for the, typically, fat-laden brunch-time meal.

INGREDIENTS

approximately 1/3 cup homemade bloody Mary mix (recipe follows)
2 English muffins, split in half
4 eggs (+ olive oil to cook)
1 (4) oz. fresh (preferably Buffalo) mozzarella ball
8 thin slices good quality salami
fresh pepper to taste
fresh basil for garnish

PREPARE

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

(optional) make yourself and your three friends a blood Mary by adding your freshly made mix to glasses of ice with a shot of vodka (shake or stir).

Toast the English Muffins and transfer them to a metal tin.

Spread a healthy dollop of homemade bloody Mary mix over each half, reserving the rest for cooking the eggs and refilling your glasses.

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Dry the mozzarella ball with a paper towel and tear it into pieces, dividing the pieces onto each half of muffin.

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Top each half of muffin with 2 slices good quality salami.

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Set a non-stick  pan on the stove and add a small drizzle of olive oil.

Put the metal tin with the prepared muffins into the over while cooking the eggs.

Heat the non-stick pan until hot.  Break the eggs into the pan, carefully, so as not to disturb the yolk, and let cook, undisturbed until the white is slightly beginning to set (a few minutes).

Add in the reserved sauce and continue to cook, basting the top occasionally, but taking care not to break the yolk.

When the eggs are cooked to your liking, remove the muffins from the oven, divide amongst four plates and top each with an egg.  Grind over the pepper or let each person add the amount of pepper they want.

Garnish with fresh basil leaves.

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HOMEMADE BLOODY MARY MIX

The ultimate quantities of spice, citrus and salt are all very personal so feel free to add more or less for your own liking.  I tend to like mine with medium spice, extra citrus and less salt.  I do find the brand “Tabasco” to be the best (or most nostalgic) flavor for me but with so many hot sauces on the market, use whichever you find to be your favorite.  A good quality horseradish sauce is somewhat key, in my opinion; I like Bubbies quite a bit.

INGREDIENTS

1 28 OZ can whole cooked tomatoes (preferably San Marzanos)
4 TB worcestershire sauce
4 TB prepared horseradish sauce
1 1/2 tsp celery salt
as many shakes of Tabasco (or other hot sauce) as you desire
the juice of 1 lemon
freshly ground black pepper to taste

PREPARE

Simply add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.  If you prefer a thinner consistency, you can strain it too but I like mine full strength (the ice will thin it when adding it to your drink).

This will keep several weeks, well sealed, in the refrigerator.

What do you mean we can't have any

“What do you mean it isn’t for us?”

 

 

 

Luna – a love story

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PS_hana and luna with toast

I first met Luna at a most wonderful eatery in Pioneer Square called London Plane.  We had curried avocado toasts for lunch (or at least her mom and I did).

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I have now known Luna for 5 days.  I hope to know Luna for 50 more years.  I think she will do great things.  How can she not, with that smile that lights up a room, and those eyes, that convey her ability to know all that surrounds her?  I looked at her innocent little face; at that moment, her binky dropped, her eyes looked straight through me and she smiled, a very happy and honest smile.

It makes me realize that time goes quickly and ever on as the lives of those we cherish go on without us.  I am too easily distracted from the happenings of their lives, only to try and catch up with my own.

September of 2015, on a sunny afternoon, I finally caught up for lunch with my friend Hana.  She stood to hug me and I noticed that she looked as radiant and stylish as ever.  It wasn’t until midway through our meal that her pregnancy was revealed; she was due in less than 2 months.  How is it I didn’t notice?  She is a small woman, whose bump was barely visible but yet still…?

Hana is part of a story we all know; boy meets girl and both boy and girl fall in love.  Like most stories though, their’s too is unique.  They came together against small odds and become a couple that we all root for.  They are cute together and are made for each other so we are all thrilled that it has worked out.  Ups, downs, tiny (but beautiful) houseboat and all, they are a creative couple that are well suited for one another.  Now, along comes Luna.  Lovely Luna. Two, soon became three and what fun that will be.  Luna.  She came along and…life is her song….  Jon, marry that girl and finish the Love Story.  I’ll finish (with) the toast!

hana and luna with toast 3

Curried Avocado Toast with Pickled Radish, Melted Cheese, Roast Chicken and Fried Egg 

This version is not actually on toast but rather on Summer House English Muffins, brought to me by my travlin’ Tom.  This is also somewhat my brunch version of what Hana and I had at London Plane, but from what I hear, you can order it there with an egg too if desired.  We (Hana and I) quite liked it as it was served, cold and with no egg.  My version, made over a weekend, was gearing toward brunch.

The curry in the avocado is lovely (like Luna), make sure it is fresh.  The pickled radish is key to an explosion of flavor and crunch.  Cheese or no cheese, egg or not, hot or cold, English muffin or toast, all choices to be had but do what you will, and perhaps, try both (or all) ways.

ingredients 2

INGREDIENTS (serves 2)

1 avocado
1/2 shallot, chopped
pinch of sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp fresh lemon juice

3-4 small radishes, stemmed and sliced very thin
2 TB amber vinegar or rice wine vinegar
1 TB water
pinch of sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 tsp raw sugar
a sprinkle of chili flakes

1 English muffin, slit in half
1/2 cup roasted chicken, shredded
2 thin slices swiss or gruyere cheese
2 eggs

PREPARE

In a small bowl, mash the avocado with the shallot, pinch of sea salt, pepper, curry and lemon juice.

In a separate small bowl, mix the radish slices with the vinegar, water, a pinch of sea salt, pepper and sugar.  Let sit for at least 15 minutes.

Toast the English muffin halves.

Top them with the avocado mix, then some roasted chicken and then slices of pickled radish.

avocado toast 1

You could stop here and just enjoy, or keep going for a warm meal.

Top this with a slice of the cheese.  Broil for a few minutes in the oven until the cheese melts and the muffin warms through.

no egg

Top with a fried egg and enjoy.

with egg 2

Meanwhile, my precious babies nap.

my babies napping

 

Lentils, with a side of pizza

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I have had a love affair with pizza only since adulthood.  As a kid, even though I did like going to Shakey’s, I was more interested in the salad bar and video games than I was the pizza.  It was, most notably for me, when I moved to Seattle, specifically Pioneer Square, that my true interest in pizza formed.  I courted it often at a quaint little restaurant around the corner from where I lived.  It was a Trattoria that I first visited with my (then) neighbor and (still) friend Kevin; it was there that I fell in love with Pizza Margherit(a).

I am not here to talk about pizza though.  I am here to talk about lentils.

buddy on flowers

I can’t maintain this composure much longer, let’s eat!

Lately I have been craving a Margherita pizza, it’s true.  We eat pizza often(-ish) but Tom has always flirted with Pepperoni.  If not pepperoni, then something equally meaty.  I go along willingly because, well, they are fine too.

This weekend, however, I am without Tom.  When Tom is traveling, I tend to eat what he won’t; or more fairly put, what Tom doesn’t care to eat and I, of course do (crave to eat).  In addition to calamari, eggplant and mushrooms, I have lentils.

Lentils had not been on my mind until I read a post by Elaine at Foodbod.  She had a round-up of vegetarian soup and one of her favorite was the lentil soup.  I knew then, that I needed to make lentil soup (and in fact, told her so).  I do often get distracted though and hence, I did make lentils but did not make the soup.

crop pizza and salad

Already on my mind was pizza margherita, which I had planned to have at the Club watching tennis (Tom’s league team was playing and I thought I would cheer them on in his absence).  I skipped going to the club though.  Sadly, they lost.  Do you think it is because I wasn’t there?  Me neither.

Regardless, we (the eight legs and I) had a lovely meal consisting of arugula and lentil salad kissed by truffle oil, served with a side of Miss Pizza Margherit(a).  Well, my rendition this week anyway.

Lentil & Arugula Salad – serves two (easily doubled)

This is one of those things that can go many ways and requires less instruction than improvisation.  It doesn’t look particularly packed with flavor but I assure you that in this instance, looks are deceiving.  The lentils have been slow-cooked in the oven, but only after sautéing them in shallots and bacon.  They are then treated with a sprinkle of sea salt, a drizzle of olive oil and a dousing of balsamic and apple cider vinegars.

This in itself does not the flavor make; it is simply preparing the lentil to be at it’s best since it will be meeting up with two more stars, Arugula and Truffle.  I love the peppery flavor of the arugula with lentils.  All that is needed to dress them (for me) is a smidge of flaky salt, a drizzle of olive oil and a drop of vinegar.  With my pizza I also like truffle oil. Alas, why not just skip the drizzle of olive oil on the salad and rub the arugula with truffle oil instead?  Exactly, no reason not to at all.  It was genius in fact (if I do say so myself, and I do).

With or without pizza on the side, this salad is a perfect light meal.  You could also dress it up with a seared scallop or embellish it with any number of vegetables depending on your mood.

INGREDIENTS

2 large handfuls baby arugula, cleaned and spun dry
1/4 cup cooked lentils (approximately), recipe to follow
1/2 tsp white truffle oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste

PREPARE

Simply take the arugula, drizzle it with truffle oil and rub together between your fingers.  Set it on a plate, sprinkle with salt and then toss in the lentils, warm, cold or hot, your choice.  Grind some fresh salt and enjoy, with a side of pizza or…whatever.

Lentils

These lentils can serve many uses.  Most notably of course, is to use them with the arugula salad as described above.  However, they can be eaten by the spoonful (which, they usually are regardless, by me) or served beside grilled Italian sausage and poached egg, made into soup (the original intention) or put under seared, rare tuna with a red pepper sauce; so you see, the list can go on…

INGREDIENTS

1 large shallot, chopped (approximately 1/4 cup)
3 thick bacon slices, cut into dice
1 cup lentils (preferably French or beluga)
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
3 cups liquid (any combination of chicken or vegetable stock and water or wine – I used 2 cups chicken stock and 1 cup water but sometimes I add 1/2 cup red wine)
1 TB olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
Fresh, ground pepper to taste

PREPARE

In a high-sided pot with a lid, add the bacon and turn on the heat to medium.  When the meat begins to sizzle and cook, stir and add the shallots.

Turn the heat down slightly and cook until the bacon is rendered and the shallots are tender but not browned, 5 minutes or so.

Add the lentils and continue to cook, stirring frequently to coat the lentil with the bacon fat.

Add the balsamic vinegar.  Stir again.

Pour in the liquid (if using wine, I like to add that first and let it cook down slightly before adding the rest of the liquid.

Bring to a simmer then transfer to a pre-heated 300-degree oven and cook until the lentils are tender, but not mushy.  This can take anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour depending on the quality, age, or variety of lentil.

Remove from oven and add the olive oil, salt, vinegars and pepper.  Stir and let sit for a few minutes to let the flavors meld before adjusting the seasoning.

buddy and food from behind

Looks yummy, huh Ginger?!

ginger_where is mine 3

Insert yummies here!

bored meetings are boring: by buddy

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PS2_leisure crazy

I thought I was a Pup of Leisure.

Mom recently got into the habit of hauling us to the office with her and now I spend my days surrounded by paperwork (literally)!

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And the buzz of electronic machinery.

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I even had to attend a meeting in the talking room.

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Ginger’s not paying attention!

So, I’ve already been invited to a bored meeting; I now see how it got it’s name.

buddy conf

Huh?  Even my attention is waning.

The first day I came to the office, I started out taking dictation.

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Uh huh, yup, I’m listening….(snort, snarf, snoozzzzzzz).

They didn’t even let me take off my coat first, but at least I got to bring my own chair.

yes, yes, i'm listening

wutz that?  yes, yes, I’m listening…

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dictation is  h a r rr d .

Of course, Princess didn’t have to work.

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As soon as I’m rested, I think I’ll go to the water cooler where the real action is…

After proving my abilities though, I got promoted; now I get sent out to fetch lunch.

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i have to watch out for princess too (don’t forget that I’m the boss)

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come on ginger, the food is better at this truck

I wonder What’s for dinner? or betteR yet, I wonder what Mom iz cooking for dinner?

leisure

I think tomorrow I’m gonna call in sick

Food Matters: by Ginger

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PS_food from above

I used to be the gal that really got excited by going to Dick’s Drive-in with Mom and Dad because they always gave me bites of their hamburger (which, by the way, was really delectable).  Buffy, my sister who I only met once, got to go all the time and she got her own burger.  I even heard that our Uncle Petey used to take her through the drive-thru at another (not-to-be-named) drive-thru and get her her own burger when he pup sat for her in the “old” days.  They were tight.  I was led to believe that I would get my own burger too, but it turns out that Mom and Dad decided to become more healthy in their eating habits since I’ve been around, which coincidentally, trickled down to me and my prescribed eating habits.  I never got excited about eating the food they called my “prescription diet”, whatever that was suppose to mean.  They thought I would love it because it was made with duck and potato but I found it to be uninspiring and bland.  Who can honestly get excited about dry, hard nuggets of duck and potato, processed so intently that it tastes only of smelly, vile chemicals, in a “healthy” way.  I tasted Mom’s duck and her potatoes, and I can say for certain that my food tasted nothing like hers.

This led me to become a (bad) beggar, or at least that is what they called me.  I know it was annoying, but how would you feel if you had to watch someone cook every night, creating wonderful aromas, and all you got to eat was fake-tasting duck nuggets?  I was constantly asking to join the family for dinner, because, well, I am part of the family, and I too care what my food tastes like!

But that was a long, long time ago.  One day, the bag that was kept in the cabinet above our eating area (containing our fake nuggets), suddenly disappeared (!) and our bowls were instead filled with a much more palatable meal.  This pleased me very much.  Buddy became a ravenous (and noisy) eating machine, and I was happy to go along with it.  Instead of ignoring my old food put out in the morning until hunger got the better of me at night, I too began waking up, wanting to be fed our new food.  In fact, I’d wake my parents up with my textbook snarfing to get them to the kitchen asap!

After the initial euphoria wore down, I started to realize we were eating much better food, and I must admit, we have a pretty civilized set-up for dining, but (and this is a big “but”) it still wasn’t as good as the stuff Mom cooked.  I still smelled those tantalizing aromas each day and yearned for the food that they ate.  Yes, I got to taste it, but that was just like dangling a carrot in front of my nose (but oh how I do love my carrots; sometimes they dangled carrots and I would dance on my back legs).

Then, it happened.  Something good came out of something bad, which in turn made it good again (did that make sense to you?).  It might sound confusing, but hang in with me here.  Last year Buddy stopped eating his food.  I mean, like seriously, stopped!  At first, I helped him out by eating his portion too, but then I got a little suspicious that something might be wrong.  I decided to stop eating so much too.  There were a lot of visits to Doc, but she didn’t even poke me a lot of those times, just him, and then there was a lot of coddling of Buddy that went on, which I didn’t like so much.  He didn’t seem very good and I started to wonder if it was something he ate?  Uh oh, I was eating it too!  Hmmm, I was feeling okay?  I threw-up a few times but other than that, I was just fine.  Within days of his not eating, there was a big change in the kitchen.  The food that was cooking and those incredible smells I was smelling, were for us.  Before I knew it, Buddy was eating again.  I was definitely eating again, and this time I was eating the kind of food I wanted to eat.

Our Mom is a very good cook.  I now know what it feels like to have a home-cooked meal every day.  I understand how earth-shattering it is to be able to have variety in my meals.  I am on top of the world!  I am so glad to be alive!  The best part is that Buddy is alive too!!  He has been better ever since (and even though he gets other things done to him that I am glad I don’t have to endure), I know he likes being around too!  Keep it coming Mom!

The moral of the story is that food matters to us all.  Eat well, live well, be well.

 

PS_G from front

Life’s messy, clean us up!

PS_3finished meal in metal bowl

Doggy Turkey Delight

Stacey here:  I admit that sometimes I was a distracted Mother and ran out of my stash of food for the pups.  I know they think I cook for just them every night because they do have a home-cooked meal every day and night but the truth is, I often have help.  Along with my creations, I also buy custom made-for-them food from Paws Custom Pet Foods to have as filler for the times I can’t (or don’t have time to) cook for them.  I buy the nutrition bottle or kit plus an herbal supplement specifically for kidney disease from Paws, so that I can cook for my pups myself.  I try to mix up the ingredients and recipes to make it more interesting for all of us.  This rendition of pressure-cooked turkey breast, sweet potato, quinoa and peas was a particular pup pleaser (there were some other ingredients too).

I use a pressure cooker to make this but if you don’t have one, you could cook in all together in a slow cooker (I am guessing for 3-4 hours on high) or braise it in the oven at 350 degrees for 2 hours or so until turkey is cooked through and shreds away from the bone.

It comes together without as much effort as it sounds and makes the house smell like a Sunday dinner at Mom or Grandma’s house.  It was so good that I found myself eating it too, which is quite the point; why feed something to the “family” that you wouldn’t eat yourself…yum!

INGREDIENTS

1.5 lbs  bone-in turkey breast (I got a Kosher breast from Trader Joe’s), most of the skin removed

3 cups water (or more as needed)

16 oz shelled English peas (you can buy a bag of these at Trader Joe’s)

12 oz green beans, cleaned and diced into 1/4″ dice

8 oz sweet potato, uncooked, skin removed and diced into 1/4″ dice

6-8 oz peeled baby carrots, diced into 1/4″ cubes

1/4 cup uncooked quinoa (I use red quinoa)

1 egg yolk (optional)

4 tsp Paw’s Custom Pet Foods nutrition (optional but highly recommended)

4 tsp Paw’s Custom Pet Foods detox supplements (optional)

 

COOK

Put the water into the vessel of a pressure cooker (I use an electric Cuisinart pressure cooker) and add the turkey breast.  Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes.

When all the steam has released, remove the meat from the bone, discard the bone, shred it and chop a little bit.  Add the meat back to the vessel.  Add the remaining ingredients, (except for the nutrition and supplements).  Add a little water if it has evaporated (it should not cover all the way but be enough in the bottom to add steam).

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Cook on high pressure for 10-minutes more.  When all the steam has released, check the ingredients to be sure everything is soft.  If you want it to be softer, cook for 2-3 minutes more on high pressure.  This is personal depending on your dog’s size and ability to chew.

stew cooked in cooker

Transfer the contents of the vessel to a sheet pan to let it cool.  At this point, I use a potato masher to just smoosh it a bit to break up the peas.

PS_B G watching plated

Once cooled to room temperature, add the nutrition and supplements (if using), and mix well.

Transfer to containers for storage and to freeze.  I used ones that were recycled from food bought at Paw’s Custom Pet Foods that held 1 1/2 lbs each.

PS_portions

Ginger and Buddy combined, eat 1 1/2 lbs per day, so I froze two containers and left the others fresh to feed for the next several days.  If you have questions about feeding size recommendations for your pup, contact Shelly at shellyfuller@pawscafe.com.  She is very approachable and loves to make sure your dog is eating well.

 

PS_clean up licking the plate

Let the kids clean up

So long… our Friend (by Ginger)

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Monkfish with pan drippings

I woke up this morning going about my usual routine; a long, full body stretch, followed by a down dog (that’s me), then an up dog (me again) and a loud snarf. The morning was cool but the sheets were warm and as I jumped from the bed, I rolled to and fro, feet up in the air, letting out a signal that I wanted to be rubbed. When that didn’t work, I went on to scratch myself, hard and fast, under the arm. Before I could move into biting at my back, I was hit in the head with a flying panda bear; pretty sure Buddy sent Panda my way, probably to get me to stop making such a racquet.

PS_panda

It couldn’t have been Buddy or I, look how innocent we look…

I just can’t seem to get over this itch though! I know I have my allergies and some days they bother me more than others but lately, it has been a REAL _itch. The kind of itch that makes me go into a scratching fit for real relief rather than just for attention (more acupuncture please).

This time of year is always a little crazy in that there are Holidays going on (well there were holidays going on). Santa Claus came several weeks ago and the time leading up to his visit was a little hectic and varied from the usual order of business. For instance, a few days before Santa came, Buddy’s and my usual morning routine was diverted from that leading into a peaceful day of relaxation and calm sprinkled in with squirrel watching and biting my tail (cuz it really does itch now). Did I mention I’m allergic to pine (aka Christmas) trees?  Oh, but I love them so.  Ahhhh, but it was our spa day. On spa days, instead of longingly watching Mom and Dad leave for work, tails down in something they call “Snuffleupagus mode”, Buddy and I get bundled up in our coats and harnesses and carried by Mom to the car. Buddy starts to shake. I’m not sure if he is cold or just thinks we are going to see Doc, but I feel invigorated because I know we are going to see Victoria (I love Victoria and Buddy does too). Victoria cuts our hair (and has all of the time we have ever been with Mommy & Daddy). She does more than that though, she spoils us with her sweet, friendly charm and her patience for our shenanigans (especially Buddy’s). She is nice to everyone but we always feel extra special and secretly know that she would do anything for us. We get plenty of water and walks and love, even though there are many other dogs that are vying for her attention.

I didn’t always feel this way. There was a time that I hated going to that place. When I was a puppy, I was afraid of the water and thought the brush was a monster with big spiky fangs….yikes! Going to see Victoria (and Sue) meant being dipped in water and scrubbed. It meant being dried with a machine that blows air on us that is loud, and it meant getting rid of all the braids that formed in the time between visits. It also meant leaving feeling pretty and dainty when all I wanted to do was romp around in the leaves and the dirt, chewing on twigs. But now, being the Princess that I am, I like to feel pretty and Victoria always makes me feel pretty (and the product she uses leaves us smelling good).

Since I have been going there for so many years, Victoria also knows what I/we like. For instance, she knows that Buddy and I have sensitive ears and so she puts cotton balls gently inside them during bath time and drapes a hood over our head to protect them from the noise of that crazy air machine. She knows we like to be put front and center so we can see all the action coming and going through the front door and out on the street. She knows we like to sit together (Buddy and I), even though we used to pretend not to like each other when Buddy first became my brother. We also like Victoria to talk to us and tell us how wonderful we are.

So, you can imagine my surprise when, as we were about to leave, she told us she was going to miss us. I asked her to explain and as she did, her eyes teared up and her voice cracked a little. Funny though, cuz as she told us about her new adventure, I could tell it was something she looked forward to doing.

Buddy

Buddy thinks he’s always the last to know.

From here (Looking Good Grooming) though, it was time to for her to retire, from this. I have been around the block a time or two. I know good from bad. I know right from wrong. Most of all, I know friend from foe. Victoria is our friend and no matter where she goes, it will never be just good bye, but rather, so long…until we meet again, when I can say “hello”.

bud and ging in car

Parting is such sweet sorrow.

Monkfish Medallions with pan drippings and sautéed kale (with mushrooms and cipollini onions)

For Victoria, we present monkfish, because monkfish is actually “angel fish” and Victoria has been our angel. Also, monkish is a delicious, delicate white fish that is firm in texture but soft on taste. Mom always cooks a chunk for us, wrapped in foil to keep it moist and soft but without the salt and pepper they put on theirs. There are many sauces that would work with this but keeping it simple is just as good and much less fuss. Mashed potatoes or polenta is also a nice accompaniment to complement the texture of the fish.

INGREDIENTS
1 lb monkfish – trimmed of cartilage (ask your fishmonger to do this.  You are looking to have a nice, clean log (isn) of fish.
Salt and pepper to season
Flour for dusting
Olive oil and butter to sauté
A splash of white wine
1/2 head kale cut into 1-inch pieces
Juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, chopped
10 Crimini mushrooms, stem removed and sliced
1 large or several small cipollini onions, cut into wedges

PREPARE & COOK MONKFISH

1.  Slice the monkfish into 3/4-inch thick medallions.
2. Season the fish with salt and pepper then dust with flour.
3. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan until hot, but not smoking. Add the fish medallions and let brown on the first side, without touching (approximately 3 minutes). Turn and cook 2-3 minutes more.
4. Squeeze in the juice of 1/2 a lemon and let simmer until it is mostly evaporated.
5. Add 2 pats of butter and let melt. Swish around the pan to coat the bottom of the fish and add a splash of white wine.  Let simmer slightly until warm and remove from heat to plate.

PS2_cooking

MEANWHILE, LET’S COOK THE KALE:

1.Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a sauté pan. Add the mushrooms and cippolini onions. Saute for 5 minutes or until just soft.
2. Add the kale to the pan (I like to massage the kale first in olive oil, lemon and a pinch of salt just to loosen).
3. This should cook over medium-low heat while cooking the fish. Stir or toss periodically.

SERVE:

Plate the medallions of fish with a small pile of kale and a small pile of either mashed potato or polenta (red potato mash is pictured). Drizzle the pan drippings around the medallions of fish and squeeze over more lemon if desired.

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Ginger's head

Looking back to the salon as we drive off.  Until we meet again my dear friend…

 

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