Friday, February 05, 2010

The world contained

I have a wee terrarium.
I bought a set of three.
I gave two away.
I kept the third for me.

Get yours from Miss Mossy.

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The taste of spring makes for pearly whites

According to the interwebs the combination of strawberries and baking soda is a great natural teeth whitener. The boy made this discovery and promptly went out and bought a huge plastic box of wintery California strawberries. After one miracle application (no, I don't have photos of that one and, yes, it was a grand success, he claimed through his pearly whites) the box was pushed to the back of the refrigerator. After several days, I pulled those hard little nubs out and made this tasty bit of spring sweetness.They were no spring beauties, but baked into this bread, it's hard to complain.

Walnut-Strawberry (or Rhubarb) Quick Bread
Adapted from King Arthur

1/2 cup (2 ounces) chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups (6 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) mashed strawberries*
1/2 cup (3 7/8 ounces) vegetable oil

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease and flour (or spray with non-stick vegetable oil spray) a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the walnuts, flour, sugar, soda, salt and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, whisk together the lemon, eggs, strawberries and vegetable oil. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients, whisking until well-blended.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the bread in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove it from the pan and transfer it to a rack to cool completely, 1 hour or longer. For best flavor and easiest slicing, wrap the bread while still slightly warm and let it sit overnight.

* I chopped the strawberries and tossed them with a bit of sugar. Let them sit for a while at room temperature and they will be a breeze to mash.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Nick Dewar, your shining star will be missed

All illustrations by Nick Dewar.
The wonderfully talented illustrator, Nick Dewar — master of simplicity, color and concept — passed away yesterday at just 36 years old. I imagine he must have had the most wonderful sense of humor. You can read about him here and more nice things here. Or peek inside his world here.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Warm radish and red onion pickle

I'm missing Gourmet magazine. I'm sorry Conde Nast, but Bon Appetit just isn't doing it for me the way Gourmet did. Not that I don't have a zillion recipes clipped from past issues still waiting to be tried, mind you. And let's not even get into the fact that despite subscribing to two food magazines and having a shelf full of cookbooks, nine times out of ten I turn to the internet first to find a recipe.

It was a bad sign when I found myself poking through food magazines at the library last week. I checked out a couple issues of a magazine I had never seen before — Fine Cooking. I marked lots of pages and recipes and tried this tasty pickle last night. I switched out the vinegars: It called for apple cider and sherry which I traded for white wine and balsamic, respectively, because I don't like the first and didn't have the second, so… It's easy and can be made ahead, but adds a nice tangy bright flavor to marinated steak.

Pan-seared skirt steak with warm radish and red onion pickle

Adapted from Fine Cooking, Feb/Mar 2009

For the steak:
2 pounds skirt steak
1/2 c. plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
2 Tb Dijon mustard
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2 tsp honey
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
4 medium cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pickle:
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tb white wine vinegar
1 Tb honey
1 Tb balsamic vinegar
1 tsp ground coriander
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch red radishes (8 or 9), halved and thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
1 small jalapeno, seeded and thinly sliced

1. Marinate the steak: Trim any large patches of fat from the surface. If necessary, cut the steak crosswise into pieces 8 to 10 inches long. In a 9x13-inch baking dish (or similar), whisk 1/2 cup of the oil, the lemon juice, mustard, lemon zest, honey, pepper flakes, garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Arrange the steak in the dish and turn to coat with the marinade. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours but preferably overnight.

2. Make the pickle: In a medium saucepan, stir together the oil, white wine vinegar, honey, balsamic vinegar, coriander, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add the radishes, carrot, onion, and jalapeno and toss gently to coat. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are wilted and the radishes are no longer crunchy but are still firm, 4 to 5 minutes. Give it one final stir and remove from the heat. Set aside, uncovered, while you cook the steak.

3. Cook the steak: Remove the steak from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Season on both sides with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the steak to the hot skillet in a single layer and cook, flipping once, until deeply browned on both sides and cooked to your liking--medium rare will take 5 to 7 minutes total. Transfer the steak to a carving board and set aside. Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, and cook the remaining steak as above.

4. Let the steaks rest for at least 5 minutes; then slice thinly across the grain and transfer to a large platter. Pour any accumulated juices over the steaks, top with the warm radish pickle, and serve.

Good news: Fine Cooking has a fine web site!