Sunday, December 16, 2012

Swapper Profile: Christina Moretta + Spicy Pickled Carrots Recipe

Christina at Anchor Steam Brewery
'Tis the season, for another swapper profile! It is with great joy I present to you Christina Moretta. Christina is one of those people I have undoubtedly been at countless parties and events with over the years, but we never actually met until last year through the swap. Despite friends in common, interests in common (books, photography, drinks, getting creative in the kitchen and more), and being denizens of the same neighborhood, I'm thankful we've now tightened up the orbit and count each other as friends. A regular at swaps when her busy dance card allows, she's wowed us with her creative Dolores Street packaging and scrumptious items such as spiced walnuts, ginger simple syrup, pie dough and deliciously spicy pickled carrots which she has shared the recipe for below. Read on and raise a virtual glass to a fellow swapper. Her shining smile, convivial nature and inquisitive mind make her a great conversationalist, so be sure to chat it up with her next time you're swapping.

Name: Christina Moretta

Home (+ hometown swap): San Francisco

Profession: librarian / archivist / photo curator

How did you first get involved in food swapping?
I met Aimee at a mutual friend’s holiday party and she mentioned that she had started a food swap. It sounded like a perfect match for me. It did take a couple swaps to occur before my schedule finally matched a swap date. My first swap I attended was October 2011 and there was a lot of excitement because The Bold Italic was there to do an article.

What did you make for the last food swap and what inspired your choice?
I made pickled carrots and garlic confit. My inspiration was the surplus of produce I had from our weekly CSA box that we receive from Terra Firma. The garlic confit recipe came from the Bi-Rite Market’s Eat Good Food.

What’s your favorite thing about swapping?
I like that I can try new things that I would never consider making. After I have the new swap item, it motivates me to try new things (i.e., pepita butter).

Who or what most influences your cooking? My Terra Firma box definitely drives my weekly cooking. I have been a CSA member since 1994, and I have successfully achieved seasonal cooking. My daughter is vegan and for the last two years I have been experimenting with vegan cooking. The majority of our meals are vegan based on the amazing cookbooks and blogs that provide tasty recipes. My favorite vegan cookbook is Eat, Drink & Be Vegan: Everyday Vegan Recipes Worth Celebrating by Dreena Burton.

What’s your favorite kitchen tool?
My grandma’s wooden spoon. Every time I use it, I have a flash of my grandma’s oatmeal (with lots of brown sugar and butter!). I spent a lot of time in both of my grandmas’ kitchens. On the maternal side, I learned how to make red pepper jelly and bake and on the paternal side, I learned northern Italian dishes (usually Americanized).

Your current flavor or ingredient obsession? Preserved lemons. I made these for the first time in January. A little preserved lemon in a dish changes all of the flavors, and I add it into everything now!

Biggest food surprise?
Shopping at Duc Loi Supermarket on 18th & Mission Streets. I think the whole world is in that store!

If the Rapture came tomorrow, what would your last meal on earth be?
All of my favorite foods: olives, super delicious pizza, veggie lasagna, sautéed kale with garlic, and a shot of apple cider vinegar. 

When I'm not in the kitchen I'm...reading, riding my bike to & from work, spending time with my daughter & boyfriend, shaking it with my Sunday Skool dance class, knitting, and doing lots of cool city outings.

Favorite local food experience: I consistently enjoy my dining experience at Foreign Cinema and we love doing take out from Mission Chinese Food.

Recipe from Christina: 

Spicy Pickled Carrots (adapted from a variety of recipes)
Yield: about 2 pints

1 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1.5 cups white vinegar ( ½  cup can be apple cider vinegar)
½ cup of chardonnay (or any white that’s in the fridge)
1 ounce chiles de arbol, stems removed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt (plus more to taste)
1 pound organic carrots, peeled and cut into thin rounds
1/4 cup slivered onions
1 head of garlic
1 jalapeño, seeds and stem removed, sliced

In a medium-sized pot, add the water, vegetable oil, vinegar, wine and chiles de arbol. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to medium. Cook for 5 minutes, uncovered.
Add to the pot the cumin, oregano, and salt. Continue to cook on medium for 5 more minutes. Add the sliced carrots, onions, garlic and jalapeño, and cook for 10 minutes, or until the carrots are your desired texture. Taste and add more salt if you prefer.
Cool and then refrigerate. Will keep for one month refrigerated.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Cooking The Breakfast Book, Chapter 11: Maple Syrup Custard

The maple syrup version of Marion's basic custard is a winner. That said, I would never make this for breakfast. For dessert, yes. For breakfast, not so much.

I had actually intended to make a different recipe from this chapter {sorry Steamed Persimmon Pudding, another time...}, but after being very tempted by some fresh flan at our favorite taqueria, I resisted, came home and made this instead.

While I appreciate that this recipe's simplicity would make it appealing for breakfast, it was just too sweet for my morning taste buds. In fact, I might lean towards reducing the amount of maple syrup in this just a wee bit, so the eggy, custardy, goodness can really stand out.

Other excellent things about this basic custard recipe include that you can make it out of ingredients you are pretty much always bound to have on hand, and it undeniably begs for experimentation. Nutmeg, cardamom or vanilla all seem like obvious potential flavor additions. How about lavender? Or jasmine, or orange? Something savory like curry? I plan to experiment with custardizing this winter for sure. And oh! I bet an eggnog version would be phenomenal.

Maple Syrup Custard
Four servings
Adapted from from The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham  

1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream, or 1 cup milk, or 1 cup half-and-half
4 eggs
Salt to taste
1/2 cup maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 375°. Fill a shallow baking dish large enough to hold all the ramekins halfway with hot water and place in the oven. Butter the 4 ramekins.

Beat the milk, cream, eggs, and salt together in a large bowl. Add the maple syrup and stir to mix.

Pour custard mixture into the ramekins and place them carefully in the water bath in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the custard is barely set. Remember it will firm up more as it cools, so don't overcook. 

Remove from the oven and serve hot or cold. 

For more goodness from the Custards and Puddings chapter, check out the posts from my Cook the Book pals: EmilyNatashaRachel and Claudie.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cooking The Breakfast Book: Chapter 10: Breakfast Sausage Patties with Applesauce

As we've worked our way cooking through this book for the past five months, somewhat unintentionally the chapters have been lining up nicely with the seasons and the weather.

It's starting to really feel like fall is here lately in San Francisco (we spent this evening weatherproofing our old Victorian flat windows, for example), so a heartier breakfast is just the thing.

When contemplating what to serve this savory sausage with, simple seemed best. Whole grain sourdough toast and homemade applesauce is a menu pairing that will absolutely be repeated. And, I froze most of the patties from this batch, so it will be extra easy to whip up again.

The simplicity of the sausage is key too; by not over-complicating the ingredients, they truly shine through. I used fresh thyme, but had recently dehydrated sage from the last food swap. It still had a sharp and strong odor and flavor, so I was happy to put it to good use here.

Breakfast Sausage Patties
Twelve patties
Adapted from from The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham  

This recipe can also be made into links if you feel so inspired. Instead of buying pre-ground pork, ask the butcher to grind it for you on the spot. If the pork is too lean to provide the necessary proportion of 1/3 fat, ask to buy additional fat and have it added in. If you are grinding the meat yourself at home, make sure it is well-chilled.

2 pounds pork butt (1/3 fat to 2/3 pork), coursely ground

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh sage, or 2 1/2 teaspoons crumbled dried sage
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon crumbled dried sage

Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, thoroughly but gently mixing together. You want to avoid having the meat become to "creamy", which won't pose a problem if the meat is chilled. If it is too sticky to form into patties, wet your hands slightly with cold water.

For each patty, use about 1/4 cup of sausage and pat into a round, flat patty. 

In order to brown the meat, place the patties in a hot pan and cook over high heat for 2-3 minutes on each side. Then reduce the heat and finish cooking for another 4-5 minutes, or until done. Blot off excess fat with paper towels and serve hot.

I highly recommend applesauce as a classic accompaniment to these pork sausages. I just happened to have made some a couple days prior from gifted apples off a friend of a friend's trees. (Thanks Pamela!) They were so perfectly flavorful, I didn't even add any sugar, so the applesauce was an ideal compliment to the richness of the meat.

My Cook the Book partner-in-crime Natasha made the Trout Fried with Oatmeal, a recipe that had also caught my eye. It looks beautiful! If I ever do this again, need to figure out a way of sharing the meals we make among the chefs, or at least inviting more friends over to eat.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Swapper Profile: Patricia Algara + Tía Paloma's Sopa de Calabacita Recipe

It's swapper profile time again! It is my enormous pleasure to introduce Patricia Algara. If you are a swap regular you undoubtedly already know (and love) Patricia as our swap benefactor, who provided the free swap locale on Harrison Street for close to the entire first year of our existence. You also will recognize her infectious smile and generous spirit. Watch out, it's contagious! Patricia was the very first person to reach out to us when we started our swap, and her enthusiasm has never waned. She's shared her garden smarts and bounty, her passion for landscaping and community connection, and of course her love of growing, making and sharing food. She often brings piles of sunshiny Meyer lemons, herbs, and veggies from the Algarden, but has also busted out kombucha mother, mini pumpkin pies, hummus, and more for the swap. Since soup weather is upon us, her Tía Paloma's recipe is perfectly-timed, and assuredly delicious!

Name: Patricia Algara

Home (+ hometown swap): San Francisco - hometown: San Luis Potosí, Mexico

Profession: Landscape Architect

How did you first get involved in food swapping? How long ago? 
I got involved in the food swap last year. I believe it was the second swap. 
I have a small urban farm in Berkeley (1/5 of an acre) the "Algarden". It produces more than enough food for the 5 families that live next to it and myself with lots to spare. I had been thinking that a food swap would be an excellent way to share the produce. I was so happy to find the SF food swap and I have been participating and helping host the event ever since.

What did you make for the last food swap and what inspired your choice?
I don't really make anything. I bring fresh produce from the garden, whatever is in season and fresh herbs. Sometimes honey on the comb from my bees.

What’s your favorite thing about swapping?
Learning about new recipes; Building a community of like minded people who share a joy in connecting to their food and sharing it; Reducing the amount I spend at the grocery store. I'm all about exchange of goods and services rather than money and the swap allows me to do with some items that otherwise I would have to buy.

Who or what most influences your cooking?
The Algarden, whatever is in season at the garden. I try to eat most of my meals from the garden. It has pushed my creativity for new recipes, especially for Kale and Zucchinis.

What’s your favorite kitchen tool?
The Blender. I would be very happy with a Vitamix... some day!

Your current flavor or ingredient obsession?
Turmeric and bee pollen. So good for you!

Biggest food surprise?
Fava greens, they make delicious salads

If the Rapture came tomorrow, what would your last meal on earth be?
My mother's chilaquiles and pastel de tres leches

When I'm not in the kitchen… I'm at the Algarden.

Favorite local food experience:
Oysters at Tomales Bay

Recipe from Patricia
La Sopa de Calabacita de la Tía Paloma. My aunt Paloma's zucchini soup.
This is my California adaptation of my aunt’s original recipe. My version is dairy-free and low fat, her's is heavenly!

3-4 zucchini
1-2 sweet onions
4 cloves of garlic 
Coconut oil (use butter for the original version)
½ gallon rice milk (use milk and cream or half and half)
Fresh Rosemary
Lots of fresh black pepper
Grate the onion and the zucchini.
Sauté the onion and garlic with the spices. When the onions are transparent add the zucchini. Sauté for a little. Add the milk. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Cooking The Breakfast Book: Chapter 9: Oven Fries for Happy Times

French fries are my power food. Looking back I think it's because growing up we never really ate out at restaurants very frequently, nor were we allowed to eat anything remotely like junk food...except while traveling. Which luckily for me was pretty much every summer, all summer. So when in Germany visiting my mom's side of the family, oh how I loved to say "Mit pommes frites" when placing my own order! And while summers in Montana visiting my dad's side were more likely to feature Indian fry bread, french fries made regular appearances too: at the Havre Dairy Queen after swimming, or while on the road of course.

They remain one of my favorite foods, and probably my ultimate comfort meal. But making them at home for breakfast? OK, Marion, I'm with ya.

Oven Fries
Serves 3
Adapted from from The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham  

These are identical to french fries, but made in the oven instead of by deep frying.

2 russet potatoes, peeled

1/4 cup vegetable oil
Salt and lots of pepper

Preheat the oven to 425°. 

Cut the peeled potatoes into pieces measuring 1/2 inch wide by approximately 3 1/2 inches long. Pour the vegetable oil into a 10-inch square pan. Toss the potatoes in the oil, coating the completely on all sides. Apply salt and pepper liberally. 

Put the potatoes in the oven and cook for 15 minutes. Turn them over and apply more salt and pepper on the second side. Pour off any liquid, and return them to the oven to bake for another 15 minutes or until the fries are golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and eat them while they're hot.

Top your breakfast fries with an egg! It will taste excellent even if you do a crap job of cooking said egg because it's election day and you're trying to both cook and get out the door to vote before work. (I ended up voting after work, but at least I started the day right, right?)

For more potato goodness from my Cook the Book pals visit: EmilyNatasha and Claudie.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Familial Tastes + Preserving Quince

I inherited my love of quince from my mother who in turn inherited it from hers. My mom is from Germany, where quince are called Quitte and my Oma would cook compotes and more with them. The past number of years we've both been gifted quince from friends with trees of their own and have of course shared the bounty with each other. This year, while she's been recreating the quince dishes of her childhood  and making a phenomenal James Beard's Quince Tart!  mine were languishing in my fridge.

When I first took them out, they were so fragrant even through the plastic bag I worried they were overripe. Perhaps they were as some of the larger ones were getting a bit gritty, but the beauty of making preserves is some slightly imperfect fruit really doesn't matter.

Quince are similar to large apples, but can be much tougher to cut and core. Since these were well-ripened, I was pleased to find that cutting and coring was actually pretty painless. Some cooks also complain about peeling them, but I've found the perfect tool for that task is a serrated peeler.

I debated between making membrillo (quince paste), poached quince or quince preserves, but in remembering the look and flavor of my beautiful quince jam jars from last year (and in the interest of available time), I went with the latter.

Like apples and other fruits, quince turn brown once exposed to the air, so squeeze some lemon juice over them while you're prepping the fruit to prevent this.

Magically quince also change their complexion when you cook them with sugar. From their natural golden color, they become a gorgeous rosy hue that somehow perfectly matches their aroma. And the longer you cook them, the rosier they become.


Vanilla Quince Jam
Adapted from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
Yields approximately 6 half pints

7 cups quince, peeled, cored and chopped
8 cups water
3 cups sugar
1 vanilla pod, split
Juice of 1 lemon, to prevent fruit from browning

Scrub the fuzz off the fruit under a cool, running tap. Dry the fruit and cut into quarters. Remove the core from each piece and then take the skin off each piece using a serrated peeler.

Chop into pieces and place in a large non-reactive pan, squeezing in the juice of one lemon. As you add chopped fruit from the additional quince, mix it around to coat with the acidic citrus juice.

Add water and sugar to the pot and bring to a full boil. Once sugar is dissolved, turn heat down to medium-high and stir frequently to keep from burning.

Once the fruit has begun to break down and turn somewhat translucent, smash the chunks down further using a potato masher.

Cook until your jam comes off a spoon in sheets, and ladle into hot, prepared jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.

Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.

If you are not an experienced home canner, please consult the USDA guidelines or follow the detailed directions in a trusted source such as the above-cited cookbook.

Vanilla Quince Jam on Punk Domestics

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Cooking The Breakfast Book, Chapter 8: Pink Grapefruit Apple Dish

In case you are just tuning in to this Cook the Book project, the first and third Tuesdays of the month deliver recipes from Marion Cunningham's The Breakfast Book to your mornings  brought to you by myself and four blogger pals: Emily, Natasha, Rachel and Claudie. Chapter 8 is titled 'Fruit Fixing' and includes a range of fresh and cooked fruit preparations.

Marion's Pink Grapefruit Apple Dish appeals to me in all kinds of ways. I love the literalness of the name, I really love grapefruits, and I appreciate how these ingredients you might not normally expect to be together actually marry well for a fresh, bright and surprisingly tasty side dish.


Pink Grapefruit Apple Dish
Serves 2-4
Adapted from from The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham  

3 pink grapefruits
2 sweet, firm apples
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
A sprinkle of sugar, as needed

Peel two of your grapefruits, removing as much white pith as possible. Then break into sections and remove the fruit from the membranes and skin. Put the grapefruit sections in a bowl. Slice your third grapefruit in half and squeeze the juice out it, straining out the bulk of the pulp if that is your preference.

Next peel and core the apples, slicing them into thin slices. 

Immediately add the apple to the grapefruit, gently stirring to coat them with the acidic grapefruit juice to keep them from browning.

Chill the fruit and top with a tablespoon or more of chopped fresh mint. If your grapefruits are not sweet enough, sprinkle a small amount of sugar over the top and serve in fancy dishes.

Cooking notes: I modified the quantities of the original recipe as I found that just one grapefruit and one apple were enough for single servings for two people. The use of an additional grapefruit just for juice was needed though, and the mint is really the secret weapon here, so I increased the amount. Also, since my grapefruits were actually quite tart, I sprinkled just a tiny bit of sugar over each dish before serving.