A New Look + The Winter Market

It’s done! Nearly eight years after starting this blog, I gave it a major design overhaul last week! And thank goodness; I just couldn’t look at that raggedy old thing any longer. My lack of anything resembling technical knowledge kept me from tackling it for all those years, but I figured I’d give it a stab, because how hard could it be with one of WordPress‘s highly-praised themes? But still, I couldn’t do it alone, so here’s a big thank you to Gil for setting up a test site and to our friend Jason, who helped me get this behemoth up and running yesterday.

There are a few new features here that I’d like to tell you about. First of all, there’s a top nav to help you get around and a proper home page with some fun features! I’ll likely add some functionality to it in the future, but for now, you can find recent blog posts as well as projects there. Think of the Projects page as a portfolio-lite; it has a few selected images from projects I’ve worked on (mostly cookbooks) along with descriptions and external links to each. To see more of my photography, just click on the Portfolio link in the top nav.

You can sign up to receive an email when new posts are published by using the subscribe box in the blog side navigation or in the footer. Connect with me on social media via the links above the main logo or write to me (I’d love to hear from you!) from the Contact page. There’s also an honest-to-goodness About page now; I figure it’s about time you know a little more about me, and maybe see a picture, even.

Anyway, take a look around — I hope you like what you see! (And if something isn’t working, please let me know.)

Now for some food!

I’m not sure why I gave up the Farmers’ Market Feast series when our weekly market moved to a monthly one over the winter because I never miss one, even though I don’t get to load up on local vegetables at it. So this is my inaugural Winter Market post, and also the last until November because I’ll be back to a weekly schedule in May! Hooray!

Aged Goat's Milk Cheese @ Minimally Invasive

This lovely specimen of aged goat cheese comes from our friends at Edgwick Farm. There was a bit of give around the edges which promised a creamy interior; it was all I could do to hold off from cutting into it before taking this shot.

Aged Goat Cheese @ Minimally Invasive

Just look at that gooey loveliness! The slight goatiness was offset by a drizzle of local honey from Nina’s Red Barn Farm. I’ve consumed a little over half of the cheese in the past two days, which is why I don’t buy it too often; I simply can’t resist the temptation it throws my way.

Roasted Mushrooms & Egg @ Minimally Invasive

Now this little slice of heaven was my Sunday morning breakfast. In my 20s I really loved brunch or brunching; it seemed like such a civilized way to start the day and served as a good excuse to have a bloody mary at an outrageously early hour. (So naughty!) But after years of consuming lord knows how many mediocre egg dishes and entire fields of lukewarm fried potato chunks, I realized I really was in love with the idea of brunch. Now that I’m older, I find I can make a better meal than most brunchy restaurants offer, so it’s a good excuse to indulge.

Roasted Mushrooms & Egg @ Minimally Invasive

Wiltbank Farm is new to our market, selling flavorful oyster and shiitake mushrooms. I wanted to feature the oysters without much interference, so I tossed the mushrooms with some olive oil, a hefty amount of thyme and red pepper flakes, salt & pepper and threw in a few whole garlic cloves for good measure. After 15 minutes on a roasting pan in a 425 degree oven, they were deliciously schlumped and caramelized, so I smashed the garlic cloves into a paste, tossed the paste with the mushrooms and the angels sang.

This was an ideal nest for a perfectly fried duck egg from Edgwick Farm. After trying them for the first time this weekend, I feel sure they’ll be on the menu for as long as I can find them. The flavor isn’t so different from a chicken egg, but they’re much more substantial, and if you’re a yolk lover like I am, you’ll love the ridiculous size of these. I felt I ate like a queen.

And here’s a little yolk porn, just cuz. Have a great week!

Yolk Porn @ Minimally Invasive

A little dip for your chips

I enjoy blogging, but it’s a solitary activity and really can be a slog (especially in winter when faced with nothing but root vegetables in your CSA). I do my thing, hit “publish” and that’s it for the most part. Since I haven’t quite hit on a formula to make this more of a give-and-take affair, I’ve been intrigued by the Food52 community for some time. Members can post recipes to the site with an intro about its creation, then the community is off and running, commenting and making suggestions for improvement.

The site also hosts weekly recipe contests based on a theme, and the winners of each contest go into a cookbook at the end of the 52 weeks (hence the name). When they posted a contest for your best short ribs a few weeks ago, I entered my latest version of ragu for kicks and couldn’t have been more surprised when it was chosen as a finalist, then actually won! (Also, Jen got a wildcard spot in the cookbook for her Hunter’s-Style Chicken that same day, so it was doubly exciting.) The upshot is, after five+ years of this site, I’ll actually be in two cookbooks later this year (Food52, plus the book I styled and shot photos for over the holidays)!

Last week’s recipe contest got into the spirit of the playoffs by looking for your best dip. Encouraged by the positive response my previous two recipes got, I worked up a new one. No way this one will rise to the top (seriously, there are some incredible recipes entered in this contest), but I’m pretty happy with it just the same. What’s not to love about a caramelized onion & mushroom dip, especially when paired with crispy, salty kettle chips?

Caramelized Onion & Mushroom Dip also posted at Food52

3 tablespoons butter, divided
2 small yellow onions, finely chopped
1/2 pound button mushrooms, minced
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, reconstituted in 1 cup hot water, drained & minced
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon dry vermouth
1 tablespoon demi-glace, optional
1 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Melt half of the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Sauté onions with large pinch of salt until just golden brown, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring constantly, until deeply browned and caramelized. Remove onions from pan.

In the same pan, melt remaining butter and sauté mushrooms with a large pinch of salt until they stop releasing water. Add sugar and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until mushrooms are deeply browned and caramelized. Add onions back to pan and stir in dry vermouth and demi-glace, if using. Cook until all liquid is absorbed. Taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Set aside one tablespoon of onion-mushroom mixture to use as garnish.

Add yogurt and sherry vinegar to the rest of the onions and mushrooms, mixing well. Taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary. Add as much black pepper as your heart desires. This dip has a real affinity for it. Garnish with reserved onion-mushroom mixture.

Spicy Mushroom Soup

It’s been some winter so far. Not content to bury us under successive blankets of snow, the heavens punished us yesterday for some undisclosed sin we’ve collectively committed by raining shards of ice on our heads. Knowing icy vengeance was coming our way, I made a pot of, well, I’m still not sure what to call this soup. It’s very, very loosely based on yuk gae jang, a mind-blowingly spicy Korean beef soup. It was a favorite of mine in my 20s, but the beef was always just a little too chewy for my taste, so I started tinkering with meatless versions sometime in my 30s and landed on this one in my 40s.

So you could say it’s been a long time coming. I’m not done with it yet, but it’s a dish that obviously can handle a fair amount of tweaking.

The secret ingredient in this bowl of bliss is gochujang, a fermented condiment heavy on the red pepper. Looking for an expiration date on the jar that’s been in my refrigerator for a couple of years (at least), I noticed a prominent ingredient was wheat, which I’m really avoiding in earnest these days. So I did what I always do — looked online for a gluten-free recipe, and found one right away. The ingredients were few, the time commitment was minimal and the rewards were great (it’s possibly more delicious than commercial-grade). I really can’t complain. Even though my Korean chili pepper was a little out of date and the gochujang wasn’t Insanity Pepper-hot, it still lit up the pot of soup like a torch.

As insurance against the weather, I added a hefty dash of chili flakes to the pot. You can see them swimming alone around the edges of the bowl, as if the vegetables were crowding together in the center for protection.

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “Spicy Mushroom Soup”

Yep, More Chicken

Hi, it’s me, your favorite disappearing blogger! I’ve been tied up with work and taking care of the doggies while Gil‘s away this week, but I didn’t want to let too much time pass before posting about this heavenly dish — skillet rosemary chicken. I still haven’t quite figured out what makes it so wonderful because there’s nothing out of the ordinary about it. I mean, combining chicken with lemon, potatoes, garlic & rosemary…

STOP THE PRESSES!

ROSEMARY! Why didn’t anyone in the history of the world ever think of adding rosemary to chicken?! Brilliant!

But really, there’s just something about it that knocked my socks off.

It’s probably the copious chicken fat the potatoes and mushrooms roast in, now that I think about it. Mmmmmm….

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “Yep, More Chicken”

new post

Hey, all. I owe you a big wrap-up of our last week or so, but my mind is elsewhere today. Ru was attacked by a neighbor’s dog yesterday on his afternoon stroll with the dog walker and is at the animal hospital awaiting surgery this morning. Gil’s out of town until tomorrow, so I’m just waiting by the phone and cleaning the house from top to bottom to keep busy.

The situation is especially infuriating because this same dog (a husky) broke through his electric fence and attacked another dog just two weeks ago and it seems the owners didn’t do enough to make sure it couldn’t happen again. So our boy has a big chunk of his haunch missing and needs one surgery today to install a rubber drain and another in a month or so to remove the drain and close the wound. (Ru’s vet took plenty of pictures of the wounds and his office notified the police department, so thank goodness that was taken care of before I even got there.)

So I rushed home from work and got to the animal hospital in time to see him before they closed for the evening.

ru1
He was even more pitiful than this when I first saw him, but at least his bed made him comfortable.

ru2
There was some panting, but he was loopy from the pain meds, so he wasn’t in a bad mood at all. I think he enjoyed the dirty t-shirt I brought for him, too.

ru3
But even getting his favorite new toy (John Calamari or Squid Vicious, depending on which one of us you ask) didn’t stop him from accusing me with his eyes when I was ready to go.

a week’s wrap-up after the jump

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Breakfast of champions

090315_mushrooms

Because I’m such a good girl during the week, eating heart-healthy cereal and fruit for breakfast, I like to change it up on weekends. But the last thing I want to do is start off the day with a sugar bomb — that just leaves me cranky and sleepy — so I’ve been gravitating toward more savory fare in the last year or so. Often it’s just a matter of treating oatmeal as a grain and topping it with butter/olive oil/poached egg, but I wanted something a little more involved last Saturday and turned out this meal.

It started with a base of polenta cooked over a low flame for 30 minutes, then flavored with a bit of butter, a bit more parmesan, and lots of freshly cracked black pepper. For a topping, I grabbed a bag of oyster mushrooms that had been languishing in the fridge for a full week and sautéed them in butter and olive oil with thinly sliced shallots until they’d caramelized. Adding a poached egg and a drizzle of truffle oil just brought the whole thing over the top and, I think, made Gil just a tiny bit envious (but he’d already had his bowl of cereal).