Ouch

I’ll be honest. These pictures are more than a month old. I haven’t had purple basil in my kitchen since July and it’s been weeks since we sailed my dad’s boat up the California coast. I needed to look at something to remind me what life can be like when I’m able-bodied.

On Thursday morning I hurt my back at the gym. I spent most of the day hobbling around with a grimace on my face and lying on an ice pack. After a visit to the physical therapist (conveniently located in the same gym) and a massage (also at the gym!) I feel much better. I’m still not back to normal and my back will probably never be the same. I’m optimistic about being healed enough to to the triathlon we’re signed up for on the 16th. Rest and ice will get me there!

Rather than complaining about my compromised mobility, I thought I’d break this long post-less streak with some food and sailing pictures I’ve been accumulating.

This was kind of a fun trip, despite the fact that we spent more time motor-sailing than really sailing. We saw tons of wildlife, even sharing an anchorage with three humpback whales for a day. I only had one seasickness episode and one disastrous spill in the galley (wet coffee grounds get in EVERYTHING when they go flying across the boat).

Now Unbroken Wings is docked  next to Fish, my new favorite restaurant, and the Heath Ceramics factory store, which is equally drool-worthy.

Thanks to a Mariquita Farm bulk delivery today I have a flat of beautiful tomatoes and a basket of Fuji + Macintosh apples on my counter. I think I’m going to can some quartered tomatoes, and make something yummy to eat now with the rest. Lee and will eat as many of the apples as we can (he loves Macintosh and I’m a Fuji girl). The rest might become apples sauce or maybe even pie filling. Stay tuned!

With this looming change of seasons I feel a renewed sense of commitment to this blog. There is too much good food not to share.

I leave you with Golden Gate fog horns. Enjoy.

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Lemon-Vanilla Bean Blender Pudding

I’ll try to keep this short and sweet, like a jar of pudding.

The Vintage Recipe Swap returns! After a several-month-long hiatus, our busy lives finally permit another epic recipe remake. We grew, we split, we frantically (at least on my part) went about our lives for a few months, and now we’re back together as one recipe-hungry group again.

Christianna provided us with an excellent recipe to rekindle our imaginations: Lemon Sponge Pie from the Old Court House Tea Room in Delaware. We are working our way through The Second Ford Treasury of Favorite Recipes From Famous Eating Places, compiled in 1954, hence the geographic context.

mmm pie. Lemon pie makes me think of afternoon tea drinking and sophisticated conversation. Maybe it’s the Delaware tea room bringing that scene to mind but I think of lemon as a light, refreshing flavor that is available year-round. In this season of syrupy summer fruit desserts, a little lemon is a welcome reprieve.

I am trying to take it easy on myself nowadays: no elaborate undertakings in the kitchen when there is so much to do outdoors. I’m not baking bread. My pizza stone has seen very little use this summer. I didn’t feel like making pie. I know what you’re thinking: What self-professed baker/blogger is too lazy to make pie? Pie has never really been my thing. I’m a muffin kind of girl, remember? Even those requite too much portioning of ingredients into little tins for my patience right now.

And now to the un-pie. My favorite thing about pie is custard pie filling (mmm crustless sweet potato goat milk pies). For my take on lemon pie, I decided to embrace summer simplicity and my love for creamy filling with a no-cook lemon pudding. Two things make lemon pudding better: vanilla bean and eating it out of a jar. Whipped cream and some simple vanilla wafers would be fantastic too but I didn’t have either of those.

Walnuts made a nice addition.

I completely made up this recipe and I am completely satisfied with how it turned out. The spoon I dipped into the blender came out with a very lemony, creamy bite of heaven. I even sneaked some healthy things in there, balancing out the tangy Greek yogurt with silken tofu and keeping the added sugar to a minimum with only 1/4 cup of agave nectar. I have to warn all traditional lemon-pie lovers out there that this dessert is very lemony and not very sweet. It was perfect for my taste but you could balance things out a little more with more agave or honey and less lemon. I’m providing those variations in the recipe below in addition to my zippy version.

Don’t skip the vanilla bean but substitute vanilla extract if it’s all you have. The vanilla bean flavor shows up more after the pudding chills in the fridge for a few hours. I was so happy to come home to a jar of this after some epic dinghy sailing last night even though my frozen toes and fingers could have used a hot drink instead. The vanilla had come through and the texture had thickened since my sample bowl earlier in the day.

Lemon-Vanilla Blender Pudding

Ingredients

  • 1 block (12 oz) silken tofu, such as Mori Nu Organic
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt, regular or low-fat
  • Juice from 2 lemons (1 for more subtle flavor)
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 1/4-1/3 cup agave nectar or honey, depending on your sweetness preferences
  • Insides scraped from one vanilla bean

Instructions

  1. Add everything to the your blender, starting with the tofu and yogurt.
  2. For the vanilla bean, slit the entire pod open with a knife and scrape out the dark paste (tiny bean flecks!) with the back of a knife or a spoon. Add this to the blender.
  3. Blend, starting on the lowest speed and working your way up, until the mixture is fully blended.
  4. Pour into bowls or jars to serve immediately or chill for a few hours or overnight before serving. The flavors will intensify and the texture will thicken as it chills.
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Upside-Down Fig Rosemary Cornmeal Cake

I wish there was still some of this cake in the kitchen. Sadly, it’s long gone. Lee and his sister polished it off with ice cream on Monday night. Oh I got my share. I tasted the sticky corners of the pan after I first inverted the cake onto a plate. I had a nice, big slice the night after our second triathlon. It was exactly what I needed and I was so glad I’d baked the day before. This is the best thing I’ve baked for a long time: it’s fruity, herby, sweet and nutty without being overpowering. It’s dense but still dessert.

I made this for the figs. They practically begged me to do it. I have this problem with figs, you see. When the short-but-sweet fig season finally gets going I have to buy them. I buy them en masse and then remember that I’m the only one in this household that actually likes figs. I vaguely remember giving Lee one once, long ago, and having him say “Is this supposed to taste good?” Ha!

So, we have figs. Then there’s the rosemary and cornmeal, and not just any cornmeal but purple cornmeal. I came across this recipe (the second one) while searching for an upside-down fig cake and the thought of rosemary and walnuts with my gooey fruit was captivating. I also happen to have fresh rosemary from the CSA box in my fridge and walnuts in my pantry. This kind of ingredient alignment almost never happens to me!

I used rosemary and walnuts from the above recipe but found my cornmeal inspiration from Cake Duchess and her Peach and Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake. I almost recruited the peaches from my fruit drawer at the sight of this beauty and went right for the purple cornmeal I’d bought for some other grand plan a while back.

I should have taken a picture while I was mixing the batter. The purple color was incredibly intense. It darkened as the cake baked but I still like the dark purple notes in the finished product. Wouldn’t a yellow and purple swirl be fun?

I promise this is the last thing. There’s two things I learned when baking this cake:

  1. Even though it may seem like the butter-sugar concoction you’re coating your pan with is going to cook itself into a stuck-on mess it really isn’t. Everything is going to be fine. Butter is magical, even in reasonable quantities.
  2. Don’t invert your upside down cake out of the pan until you’re ready to serve it. I couldn’t wait to see mine to I flipped it as soon as it had cooled and I think the glossy topping soaked into the cake by the time I sliced it the next day. It might have soaked in even if I’d left the cake upside down but I’m guessing it would hold up better.
  3. I lied! I learned 3 things! Make a cake with cornmeal and fruit and you can eat it for breakfast without feeling like you’re eating cake for breakfast!

 

Upside-Down Fig Rosemary Cornmeal Cake

Ingredients

  • 8-10 ripe figs, halved and stems removed
  • 1 cup cornmeal, preferably stone ground but only purple if you feel like it. Yellow would be lovely too.
  • 3/4 cup flour of choice. I used barley flour.
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup applesauce (or another egg)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2-3 teaspoons chopped rosemary
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Instructions

  1. Turn the oven on to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place butter in a square or circular cake pan or a 10 inch cast-iron skillet and place this in the oven for a few minutes till the butter has melted.
  3. When the butter is melted, add 1/4 cup brown sugar and stir to combine and evenly distribute the mixture.
  4. Place halved figs on top of the sugar/butter layer cut side down so that they cover at least most of the bottom of the pan. Sprinkled rosemary and walnuts over between figs. Set the pan aside.
  5. In a medium bowl, sift/whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt.
  6. In the bowl of a stand mixer or by hand, beat coconut oil and remaining brown sugar until well blended.
  7. Add eggs to the oil+sugar. Reduce mixer speed to medium, if using, and beat well.
  8. Mix in milk, applesauce, and vanilla.
  9. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet, mixing on low until just combined.
  10. Pour batter into pan/skillet, distributing it evenly over the figs.
  11. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  12. Allow cake to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. To remove it from the pan, run a plastic knife or spatula around the edges of the cake. Place a tray, plate, or cutting board on top of the cake pan. Holding the edges, quickly flip the pan and the tray so that the tray is not on the bottom. You might need to shake the pan a little to get the cake to fall out but it should come out smoothly. You might want to wait till shortly before serving it to invert the cake so it keeps that fresh, glossy look.

Notes

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Oh, potatoes

I wrote a much longer, more eloquent post about these potatoes earlier today. WordPress proceeded to stall out while uploading a picture and send my hard work into a void of digital nothingness. grrrrr

This time around, I’m keeping it simple.

I’ve been getting bags of delicious new potatoes in my CSA box all summer long. While they aren’t up there among my favorite foods, I don’t dislike potatoes. Until last weeks batch, I don’t think I ever really appreciated them.

This simple recipe for roasting an assortment of tiny “Potatoes Détente” came from chef Jonathan Miller, who contributes recipes to Mariquita Farm‘s weekly newsletters. The medley of French Fingerling, Russian Banana, German Butterball, and Red Norland potatoes roasted up beautifully with a few springs of rosemary (also from my box), some olive oil, salt, and pepper. When I pulled them out of the oven their skins were perfectly crinkled, holding flavor I never imagined in a potato. The crunchy bits of rosemary only made things better. Every bite really did melt in my mouth! I could go on and on and on…but I won’t.

These were the smallest potatoes I’ve ever seen. Described as “sort-outs” in the farm newsletter, I don’t know where you would ever get potatoes like this except directly from a farm. Now that I think about it, part of what made me love these so much is the potato skin to pulp(?) ratio: skins are my favorite part of any potato and with tons of tiny spuds you get more crackly, crispy skin!

Roasted potatoes, tempeh (also roasted), and a salad.

Potatoes Détente (or any tiny, roasted potatoes)

Ingredients

  • About 2 lbs tiny potatoes, washed and dried
  • olive oil
  • 1-2 rosemary sprigs, if you have it
  • salt and pepper (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spread potatoes and rosemary on a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan (you can put slightly larger potatoes on their own pan. I just cut the handful of larger ones in half). Be sure they are not crowded.
  3. Sprinkled olive oil over the potatoes and stir them around until they are evenly coated.
  4. Add salt and pepper if desired.
  5. Place potatoes in the oven and roast until they are just cooked though. This will take about 30 minutes but start checking them at 20 to 25 minutes. Mine were perfect at 25.

Notes

From Jonathan Miller via The Ladybug Postcard Vol. 81

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