Friday, October 2, 2009

apple butter (fall bounty)

dear friends,

fall is a very glorious time of year. harvest time! i am enjoying it immensely on the west coast (except, of course, for the curious absence of fall foliage colours. the leaves just fall and die in victoria, there is no transition!) in any case, to celebrate the wonderful harvest bounty, i made apple butter. it is a good thing to do while getting other things done (like about 600 pages of catch-up law school readings) - only requires a stir once every 15 minutes or so. plus, it makes your whole house smell delicious for the 5 hours that it takes to finish.

i used about 15 spartan apples with a couple of other kinds mixed in. if you have a bigger, wide-mouthed pot than i do, you can use as many apples as you have! peel if you want (i didn't. i hate peeling fruits for jams/butters. the skins give it a nice pink tinge, and also are full of vitamins and minerals that you would otherwise be throwing out just to get a texture that is a bit smoother. boo!) chop them up into a reasonable size, removing the cores. put them into a big pot and cook on medium heat with a little bit of water added here and there until they are soft enough to be mushed with a spoon. at this point, use an immersion blender if you've got one to puree into apple sauce. if you don't have one, you could always use a regular blender... or if you are like me and have a serious aversion to pouring hot liquidy things into receptacles, just keep cooking the sauce down until its soft enough that you can mash it all up.

after you have the apple sauce, it will take a couple of hours (maybe even 5) until it is spreadable, giving it a nice stir every 15 minutes. add some spices while it is cooking dowm (i used a bunch of cinnamon and a bit of cardamom, but i would have used ground cloves if i had them!) and sweetener to taste. i used brown sugar which was delicious, but you could also use honey, maple syrup, or regular old sugar. in the last 5 minutes, add the juice of one lemon.

once you're done, either eat everything you have made right away with friends and lovers. alternatively, can it for the winter! pour the hot butter into clean jars (sterilize jars in pot of boiling water for 10 minutes. it is preferable to use new lids), being sure not to leave any air bubbles. bang the jar on the counter to remove any, or slide a knife along the edges. put your lid on, then boil the jars again in a large pot for 15 minutes. i learned a neat trick from a fellow internet canning enthusiast. to test the seal of your jars once you are done boiling them, remove the ring of the lid and lift the jar by the rim. if it stays on tight, you are good to go!


love, beeks

Monday, September 21, 2009


I was perusing a Bonnie Stern cookbook one afternoon and what did I stumble upon but Lilian's famed 'survivor cookies'! You can imagine how pleased I was, after my request for the recipe sat idle on the right-hand panel for months. For these changing times when we're all over the place, finding our ways in the world, cold and alone, these provide much-needed sustenance. I haven't actually tried this particular recipe so you will need to contact beeks directly if you want any trade secrets.

Survival Cookies
c/o Bonnie Stern c/o someone else whose name I did not note
Makes 48

2 cups butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 3/4 cups large flake rolled oats
3/4 cups poppy seeds
1 1/2 cups raw unsalted sunflower seeds
1 1/2 cups pumpkin seeds
2 1/2 cups chopped dates

1. In a food processor or large bowl: cream butter and sugars until light. Add one egg at a time. Add vanilla.
2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir into the butter mixture.
3. Stir in oats, seeds, and dates.
4. Use 1/2 cup batter/cookie. Place 2" apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Refrigerate minimum 1 hour.
5. Bake at 350C for 15 minutes or until crisp but chewy (mmm...). Cool on racks.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

strange things done under the midnight sun

if we may for one moment, turn our thoughts and stomachs to the north, and if we forget that one of the functions of this blog is the democratization (within the bounds of economic status implied by internet access) of food and food preparation, then i will share the following:

suggested recipe for arctic grayling (or i suppose white fish of your choice):

after a few fishing excursions spent re-familiarizing myself with the whole line/pole/reel combo, i went fishing by myself after work, let's call it 1 or 2 in the a.m., on the lovely klondike river of gold panning fame. i was wearing my fishing outfit of course, jeans, rubber boots, elise's red plaid flannel shirt, hat and scarf for mosquito protection, and faded cordouroy jacket from 11th grade with a swiss army knife in the pocket. what i had thought lay in store for me was a tranquil evening not watching "300" the movie (the activity taking place in my living room), but my evening was destined to be violent and bloody as well. obviously, i caught a fish. whoa. a fish. for the last weeks i had been catching rocks and the occasional twig. so when that speckled silvery flopper chomped down on my spinner i was afire with adrenaline. unfortunately, the adrenaline, which is supposed to give humans you know great strength or speed or whatever, must have puttered out at exactly the wrong time. plus, let's be honest, i really had no idea what i was doing.

to continue, the fish was on the rocks, landed safely, flopping, and i stood completely terrified on the shore wondering number one, how to get the hook out of its mouth without touching it, and number 2, how i was going to manage to hit it over the head with a rock, again, without touching it. the not touching was somehow a central concept at the time. i decided not to take out the hook until later: challenge number one, solved. then in my infinite fish-based wisdom i decided that picking up a large rock and dropping it on the fish's head would solve problem number two. as you may have guessed, i was wrong. so after some involuntary squealing and shuddering and jumping around in a panic, i touched the fish. it was an arctic grayling, straight out of the river, mottled and grey with the trademark oversized dorsal fin. at the time, it was just slimy and horribly horribly alive. so i hit it on the head with a rock again. and then i switched rocks. and there was blood on my weapon rock and on the anvil rock and it was still alive and fighting me and slippery and let me emphasize one more time HORRIBLE. eventually a quiet fell over the shore.

there is a fairy tale in which the brave little tailor kills eight in one blow. in my case it was more like one in eight blows. happily thanks to youtube, once the fish was dead i knew what to do. the cleaning was less dramatic then the execution and once it was over and the fish was gutless, headless and floating in the improvised rock aquarium i made for it on the shore, my panic had mostly subsided. and then three casts later, i caught another one.

but on to preparation:

lemon juice
garlic (if you wish)

combine on and around and in fish, wrap the whole slippery headless ex-swimmer in tin foil and bake in the embers of a campfire or the nice safe controlled temperature of your electric oven. check in 10 minutes, then consume and watch for bones.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Passing that Dutch: Lemon Cornmeal Cake with Lemon Glaze and Crushed-Blueberry Sauce

Reeducation at Warschauer S-Bahn
Photo credit: Erin Kimmel

As some of you may know, I have been rediscovering my hip hop roots lately, thanks largely to having downloaded (I mean, bought) the 10th anniversary platinum edition of Nas’ classic 1994 album Illmatic.

“What hip hop roots?” exclaimed Erin incredulously, when I told her the news. To which I responded that the second CD I ever purchased after Chumbawumba’s Tubthumper (anarchopunk forever!) was Ma$e’s Harlem World and that I beefed with hella ghetto kids on my nerdy high school basketball team, so there. Also, I believe Nas directly interpellated me in his chart-topping hit “N.Y. State of Mind.” (See verse two: “And the stuff that I write / Is even tougher than dykes.” Word Nas, word.)

In any case, in the midst of this re-hiphopification, Missy Elliot’s “Pass That Dutch” has been stuck in my head. Though some may think this is merely a narrow metaphor for marijuana, I have been dropping it lately haphazardly in a wide variety of contexts; and while such use generally invokes blank stares, I have quite enjoyed using it. Fittingly, I also think that this phrase is the perfect metaphor to frame this here blog post in which I, like Missy, pass that dutch and post a recipe that I neither made nor wrote but rather, briefly consumed.

So without further ado, I present to you, my pot-smoking Communist pig-friends, my friend Rebecca’s wicked dessert: Lemon Cornmeal Cake with Lemon Glaze and Crushed-Blueberry Sauce!

Prof. Tata (and Rebecca)

Lemon Cornmeal Cake with Lemon Glaze and Crushed-Blueberry Sauce

1 1/2 cups (packed) powdered sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons (or more) fresh lemon Juice

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled
Crushed-Blueberry Sauce

For glaze:
Combine powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons lemon juice in small bowl. Stir with spoon until smooth and paste-like, adding more lemon juice by 1/2 teaspoonfuls if glaze is too thick to spread. Set aside.

For cake:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter 9-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides; line bottom with parchment. Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in large bowl; whisk to blend. Whisk buttermilk, eggs, lemon peel, and vanilla in small bowl. Pour buttermilk mixture and melted butter into flour mixture. Using rubber spatula, gently fold liquids into flour mixture until just blended (do not stir). Scrape batter into pan; spread evenly.

Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean and cake pulls away from sides of pan, about 30 minutes.

Immediately run knife around sides of cake. Place rack atop cake in pan. Using oven mitts, hold pan and rack firmly together and invert cake onto rack. Remove pan from cake. Place another rack on bottom of cake; invert 1 more time so that cake is top side up. Stir glaze until blended. While cake is still very hot, drop glaze by tablespoonfuls onto cake; spread to within 1/2 inch of edge (some glaze may drip down sides of cake). Cool completely. Serve with Crushed-Blueberry Sauce.

Danke: Epicurious.

© C is for Kitchen 2009

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Definitely not kosher

This photo pretty much sums up my Uncle Paco. Just back from a weekend with him and his wife Maria in Oviedo, in northern Spain, where I ate very well and took silly pictures. (Apparently Woody Allen said something nice about the city so they made him a statue.)

In casa, I worked hard on my vocabulary. A few choice words and phrases:
  • voy al cine de las sábanas blancas = i'm going to bed (literally: i'm going to the white sheets cinema. apparently used only by my aunt's father.)
  • no veo tres en un burro = i have terrible vision (literally: i can't see 3 people on a donkey... note that if you can see 4 people on a donkey, you're OK. the donkey probably is not.)
  • buzear = scuba diving (necessary for watching the 1980s underwater/alien/Cold War classic The Abyss, starring a young Ed Harris, dubbed into Spanish)
  • me estás mimando mucho! = you are seriously spoiling me (literally: me all weekend)
Even though she doesn't like it herself, la tia made a delicious Asturian bean stew for us Allodis and was kind enough to pass on the recipe.

Fabada asturiana

1 kg dried Asturian white beans (longish, but not flat like those from Barco de Avila)
pancetta/tocino entreverado (pig fat from the underbelly with some meat)
lacon (salted pork)
blood sausage (Maria insists it must be Asturian)
chorizo (Spanish pork sausage with paprika)
1-2 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
1 bay/laurel leaf
cuarter onion
pinch of saffron, if you like
some white flour, to thicken the broth

Soak beans overnight. Put them in a pressure cooker or pot, add water to cover plus an inch. Add everything else except the flour. Bring to a boil and skim off all the gross foam. Cook under pressure for 20 minutes, or longer in a normal pot. If you like a thick broth, take out some beans, puree them and add them back. You could also add some flour. Serve beans alone or with meat. MMmmm...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Pink Pasta

Dear Blog Readers,

The other night I made a very counterintuitive pasta dish--pasta with beets! Not only was the whole thing fantastically rose-tinged, it was also delicious. It was sweet and savoury and crunchy and cheesy--what more could you need? I would seriously recommend that all of you make this as soon as possible.

Pink Pasta with Beets and Beet Greens

1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
extra-virgin olive oil
2 large onions, sliced into thin crescents (about 4 cups)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 bunches beets with fresh healthy greens, greens cut into 1-inch-wide-strips
12 ounces farfalle (bow-tie pasta)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus extra for serving

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Begin by putting the beets into the oven to roast. Depending on their size this will take between 3o and 60 minutes, so get started early! When they are finished, peel and cut the beets into crescents.

Next, get to work caramelizing those nice crescent onions. Put a large frying pan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the onions, and saute until beginning to soften and turn golden, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and saute until tender and browned, about thirty minutes longer. (FOR A GREAT PRIMER ON CARAMELIZING ONIONS, go here). Once you are satisfied with the caramelization of the onions, add garlic and stir for 2 minutes. Scatter beet greens over onions and garlic, drizzle on a little more olive oil if needed; cover, and cook until beet greens are tender, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, put a large pot of water on the stove to boil. Once boiling, add pasta and cook until al dente--tender, but still firm to bite. Reserve a cup of the pasta boiling water, then drain, and return pasta to pot.

Stir onion-greens mixture and beets into pasta. Add pasta cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls to moisten, if needed. Season with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Stir in Parmesan cheese, and pinenuts.


Saturday, January 31, 2009

Climate change in action?

Madrid is having a pretty brutal winter. While most years it rarely dips below 0ºC, this year has seen quite a bit of snow. Madrileños are still talking about their brush with death a few weeks ago when a full 10cm accumulated, more snow than they have seen in 40 years. Hundreds of flights were cancelled, only the children ventured outside, the city was paralyzed - it was hilarious. It also made me realize that I actually miss snow. How great of a Canadian am I?

Well... not such a great Canadian that I don't appreciate this last week of 15ºC and sunny (Madrid has apparently recovered from its cold spell). Hence the recipe. This cold summer soup is what I made yesterday after I went running in the sunny Parque del Buen Retiro in shorts and a t-shirt. Kisses!

NB: Spaniards insist this is not a soup. The best description I have heard is "Andalusian liquid salad." Serve in a bowl or drinking glass.

2 slices stale white bread, crusts removed (75 g)
4 large ripe tomatoes (1 kg)
1 green bell pepper
1/2 cucumber
1/2 onion
2 cloves garlic
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp salt
5 tbsp white wine vinegar
some water or ice cubes
garnish: toast cut into cubes, chopped hard boiled eggs, and any of the vegetables mentioned above that you want, chopped.

Soak the bread in water (mmmmm soggy bread). In a cuisinart, combine the tomatoes, seeded peppers, cucumber, onion, and garlic. [Purists insist you need to run it through a sieve to get rid of skins, seeds, and other undesirables. Whatever.] Squeeze the water from the deliciously soggy bread and add to the mix. Add some oil, salt, and vinegar to taste. Add water to taste, or ice cubes if you want to serve immediately.