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January 24, 2013

DIY Pizza Party at The Happy Place

DIY-pizza-party-fixings

The Thump-thump-giggle-gigglers stopped by for the day recently and when I mentioned that dinner was "DIY Pizza" there was (literally) dancing in the seats. I guess that means your very own, very special, just for you and nobody else pizza with EXACTLY what you want and plenty of it is a hit with kids of all ages.

Go figure.

Pizza dough and sauce were both made the day before and kept in the refrigerator overnight. Meat that needed precooking, like sausage, was also prepared ahead of time.

This time around, one of the kids was drafted to wash the vegetables and then they all sat around the table and cut them. This got competitive which made all that slicing and chopping go by pretty darned fast.

For each pizza, cut a piece of parchment paper. Roll and stretch the piece of dough into the desire size/thickness. Each person prepped their own crust, allowing for variations in thickness. Then the fun begins... (bunch of photos after the jump)

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April 29, 2008

Canadian bacon, cheddar and souffle recipe

canadian bacon and cheese souffle

I am a big fan of food that delivers showy results with a reasonable amount of effort. I like food that scares people even better. I don't mean "scares" like some of the stuff that Steve eats - that just weirds me out - but rather stuff that scares the cook, not the eater. Like soufflés.

Soufflés can definitely be intimidating, even though they consist of two dead simple parts: a simple white sauce that functions as a base and a mound of stiffly-beaten egg whites. The base provides all of the flavor and the whites elevate the dish, literally, above the simple ingredients. Combine the two, however, and even experienced cooks cringe.

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December 03, 2007

Stuffed Acorn Squash with sausage and two rices recipe

SquashRice

Just a couple of weeks ago, I wrote that there was a "distinct nip in the air and a slight crunch to the grass. Fall was creeping in on little cat feet."

Um yeah, whatever. What a difference a fortnight makes.

Can you say 129 mph winds, boys and girls? How about 3 inches of rain in six hours? I knew you could.

Seriously, in the last few weeks, we have gone from start of fall to first time they used the word hurricane to describe a northwest storm. The main interstate between Seattle and Portland is closed, probably for days,  (But remember, global climate change is a myth.)

Along with the overnight shift in seasons comes a shift in menus. Grills have been stored for the winter while tomatoes and basil have given way to winter squash and sage. Mmmmm! I love fall! It is all about warm comfort food around my house.

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May 25, 2007

weekend herb blogging: In love with lovage

lovage leaves

Lovage (Levisticum officinale) is one of my favorite herbs you have never heard of. The herb's lack of public recognition always seems odd to me. It's a versatile herb with a palate-friendly flavor a lot like celery, yet more complex and nuanced. Fresh, young leaves are mellow enough to use whole in a salad, but it also stands up to long cooking in soups and stews.

The obvious presenting flavor of lovage is celery, but the flavor is more complex than that. Along with the concentrated celery is a large dose of the bright green flavor of parsley and a hint of something sweetly earthy. I use it as a celery substitute whenever it is available and find it provides some ineffable extra taste that I really like.

The hollow stem, a section of which can be up to a foot or more in length and an inch in diameter, makes an excellent straw for drinks, such as a Bloody Mary, where a celery flavor is desired. Lovage stems can be candied, like angelica, as an unusual sweet treat.lovage brush

Excuse me a moment of excitement, but I just discovered a new trick for lovage stems: sliced lengthwise and put in ice water, they curl like the ridged curling ribbon they make for wrapping presents! This offers all sorts of possibilities from the sublime (make a brush for putting melted butter on corn on the cob) to the ridiculous (edible icons of the Flying Spaghetti Monster). Curlicue garnishes. Hair for Halloween monsters. This could be fun.

Lovage is also a beautiful addition to your herb garden. Unfurling from asparagus tip-like bundles in early spring, lovage quickly becomes a hip-high bush of soft green foliage.closeup of new growth on lovage Midsummer sees flower spikes shooting to eye level before opening golden umbels that slowly mature into marvelously tasty seeds, something the birds know as well as I. Come fall, the birds and I vie for themature seeds, with my winnings finding their way into stews and breads over the winter.

Gardeners appreciate lovage because it is easy to grow, tolerating most soil condition and even a bit less water and sun than large, leafy herbs. (It is easy to tell when lovage is thirsty; mine, which is in direct sunlight, droops noticeably on hot days. Fortunately, it revives just as quickly with a bit of water.)

lovage flowersA perennial that, like tarragon, requires a period of cold dormancy, lovage is often grown as an annual in warm climates. If you have to do this, you can save your own seeds, stored in an airtight jar in the refrigerator, over the winter for spring planting.

You can often find plants at a local nursery, although probably not at a 'big-box' store, and seeds are available from a number of sources, including Territorial Seeds and Seeds of Change. Better yet, keep an eye out for a plant in the garden of a friend or neighbor; If you see one, don't be afraid to ask for a start for your garden. A single plant is enough to supply all but the most avid of lovage fan - and two will do for even them - and since lovage self-seeds, there are often small "volunteers" growing around the base of established plants. Spring (now as I write this) is the perfect time to divide lovage clumps, preferably on a cool, cloudy day.

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June 23, 2006

Ribs with Chipotle Rub and Apricot-Pineapple BBQ sauce recipe

RibschipotrleapricotpineappSummer has always meant sloppy, gooey finger-food to me. Whether it's licking an arm to catch a dribble of fresh peach juice or licking the last bit of whipped cream from the strawberry shortcake off a finger, summer gives a pass to table behavior that may be considered a bit gauche in other, more serious, seasons. Heck, in summer you can lick peach juice off someone else's arm and get away with it!

This time of year also inspires a very non-RR sort of "thirty minute meal" around my place. Take thirty minutes, divide into two parts, and insert a long time in the middle while some meat cooks ever so slowly and I give it nary a passing thought. (Hey, hey, now all you RR purists! It's still thirty minutes and nobody said it had to be thirty contiguous minutes. If there's one thing I've learned as a writer, it's that if you don't pick your words carefully, others will pick them apart...)

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October 19, 2005

Recipe: Blueberry Habanero Chutney on Poached Fish

Vatofchutney_1

I’ve been talking about this recipe almost as long as I’ve had this blog, and for good reason: it’s delightfully scrumptious stuff, with a dstinct heat that's a perfect counterpoint to the decidely summery-tasting berries. (Blueberries do taste like summer to you, don't they? I think I have a peculiarly foodist form of synesthesia. Blueberries are August and giggling children.)
Anyway, where was I? Oh, that's right. The chutney. It's been served on chicken, fish, and meat, as well as alongside a blue cheese cheesecake that was smeared on thin slices of homemade baguettes. All yummy. It’s also been blended down to a puree and smeared on a rack of pork ribs. (Why do they call them “spareribs” anyway? I bet the pig doesn’t think they are exactly “spare” parts)

We had some of this chutney last night, on the seemingly inevitable fresh salmon, and it was the perfect counterpoint to the meltingly tender fish. The salmon was almost an impulse purchase—don’t you pick up a whole salmon while standing in the checkout aisle? They do stock them where you shop, don’t they? Right there next to the candy bars. No? Oops, sorry. So sad for you. You should come visit. impishGrin

I can hear you thinking, “But, Mage, what does salmon have to do with chutney? Wasn't there supposed to be a recipe here somewhere?” Well, actually, yes there is. Click on and you shall see...not necessarily immediately, but I promise we'll get there.

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