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.