A Couple Cooks – Let the Cooking Begin!

A Couple Cooks – Let the Cooking Begin!


 

Hello all! As I mentioned last Thursday, I am cooking through another food blog, A Couple Cooks. In this first week we tried the following:

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Spaghetti w/ Tuscan Kale & Chickpeas

 

The flavor of this was great, however I found it rather dry even though I had added some pasta water that wasn’t even called for in the recipe. If I try this again, I shall increase the sour cream and add even more pasta water. Next up


 

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Enchilada Skillet

This was super good with zucchini, bell peppers, corn, corn tortillas, and black beans cooked in an enchilada sauce. Though I realize this is a vegetarian blog I’m cooking through, I just have to say that left over chicken shredded in there would be a perfect touch! Then on to


 

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Salmon en Papillote w/ Roasted Potatoes

It’s been forever since I’ve prepared any fish en Papillote and I can’t for the life of me understand why! The fish cooks perfectly this way and clean up is a breeze

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This was a super simple preparation. The fish is sitting on a bed of julienned carrots and topped with fresh herbs, garlic and lemon. On the potatoes I simply tossed some baby heirloom potatoes in olive oil, salt & pepper and roasted in the oven. Great meal! Finally for this week


 

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Slow-Cooked Black Bean Chili

I wanted to try this recipe because it calls for dried black beans, soaked overnight and then simply placed in the crock pot with the sautéed onions, garlic, portable mushrooms and canned tomatoes.

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It took 13 hours to get the beans to the al dente state. Topped with cheddar cheese and green onion. I have to say this…it tasted fine but after slow cooking something for 13 hours I guess my expectation level is for something more than “tastes fine”, you know what I mean?


 

I’ll be back next week sharing more from A Couple Cooks. Stay tuned!

Hope your week is going well.

xo

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Palm Springs Getaway

Palm Springs Getaway


 

Hello everyone. Last week Brian & I took a few days off and headed to Palm Springs for a little warmth, sun, rest and relaxation with friends. Sharing a few moments from that trip in this very short video.

 

And now we’re back to reality. I’m wearing my heavy sweater and wool socks as I type this!

Cheers!

xo

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Food Photography – Whole & Parts

Food Photography – Whole & Parts

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Hello everyone! I have the honor of announcing that I am posting on Kim Klassen’s beautiful site Kim Klassen dot Com today speaking about food photography.

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There are these images on the site, as well as

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another video in which I talk a little bit about what I’m trying to achieve in my food photography and then seeing me put this collage of citrus together. If you have a moment to stop by, we’d love to see you THERE!

Cheers,

xo

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Pears

Pears

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Of all the fruits out there I think the pear is the most seductive. Their shape, texture and muted tones are simply stunning. I always get excited when pears make their way to the market. On my way home with a bunch, I think “what shall I make with these lovelies?”

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Every year for a few years now I’ve been developing my own recipe for a pear tart.

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This year I finally worked out something I’m happy with.

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Using a puff pastry dough I bought at Delaurenti in the Pike Place Market, I went to work. After rolling out the dough to a couple of inches larger than I wanted, I cut one inch of all the sides. Then I used a bit of beaten egg as “glue” around the edges to adhere the pieces I just cut off on top so that it would puff up higher around the edges of the tart.

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I then heated up some apricot jam and spread a thin layer on the base.

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Next came some crumbled almond paste, sprinkling all over the apricot jam.

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I decided to use both the pears and some blueberries in the tart…my favorite flavor combo! I also poached the pears a bit.

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The pears were sliced lengthwise and laid on the tart slightly overlapping.

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Next came the blueberries, sprinkled on top and nestled here and there.

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Then it was time to put it in the oven.

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Sweet success!

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It was absolutely delicious!

 

Carol’s Blueberry-Pear Tart

1 sheet puff pastry, about 1 1/2 lbs. pears (I used Bartletts), about 1/2 pink blueberries, apricot jam, about 3 oz. almond paste, 1 egg, vanilla bean, 3/4 cup water, 1/4 cup sugar, 2 Tablespoons butter, powdered sugar.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

In the meantime, peel your pears, slice in half lengthwise, and core them to remove the seeds and tough center. Combine water & sugar in a skillet large enough to hold your pears. Scrape in seeds from the vanilla bean; and add the bean. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Add pear halves, cover and simmer, about 6 minutes. Turn pears over; simmer until just tender, about another 5 – 6 minutes longer. Use a slotted spoon to transfer pears to a plate.

Rinse blueberries and remove any stems you may find. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit.

Roll out the pastry to about 2 inches larger in each direction than you need. Cut of 1 inch on each side – set aside the pieces. Move the pastry sheet to your baking sheet. Slightly beat your egg and paint it onto the edges with a brush. This will be the “glue” to hold the strips you cut earlier. Add the strips around the edges.

Melt the apricot jam a bit in the microwave and use a basting brush to apply it to the pastry. Do not apply to the edge strips. Crumble up the almond paste and sprinkle over the apricot jam layer.

Slice your pears lengthwise and layer the strips over the almond paste layer, slightly overlapping. Sprinkle the blueberries on top. Cut the 2 Tablespoons of butter into smaller pieces and place here and there over the tart.

Bake until crust is puffed and golden, about 40 minutes. Once cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Enjoy!

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Thanks so much for stopping by!

xo

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Love is all around

Love is all around

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Love after Love by Derek Walcott

The time will come when, with elation, you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror, and each will smile at the other’s welcome, and say, sit here, eat.

You will love again the stranger who was yourself. Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart to itself, to the stranger who has loved you all your life, whom you ignored for another, who knows you by heart.

Take down the love letters from the bookshelf. The photographs, the desperate notes, peel your image from the mirror. Sit Feast on your life.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

xo

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Little Studio Light Demo

Lowell EGO Studio Light Demo

Hello everyone! Just popping in to share this little lighting demo. Last month our little video made it’s debut on Kim Klassen’s blog and now am sharing it here just in case you missed it or perhaps are not following Kim’s site (and why is that?!)

Studio Light Demo from Carol Hart on Vimeo.

You might want to pop by Kim’s site too because in addition to my video she included a lovely video from Xanthe Berkley that you won’t want to miss. So beautiful.

Cheers!

xo

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Green Kitchen Stories – It’s a Wrap!

Green Kitchen Stories – It’s a Wrap!

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If you’ve been following me the last few weeks you know I’ve been cooking through the lovely blog Green Kitchen Stories by David and Luise. In the last week I cooked three more of their recipes starting with the lovely Vegetarian Bouillabaisse, pictured above and below

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This dish had all our favorites; parsnips, carrots, fennel bulb, potatoes, beans, and lovely flavorings of saffron and thyme. I especially enjoyed the big of roasted fennel as a topping, which echoed the flavor of fennel in the stew. Fabulous meal and would definitely do this again. Next up

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Mint & Mango Marinated Zucchini Spaghetti. I was so happy to be able to whip out my vegetable spiral slicer for this one!

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Super basic; blending mango, mint, red chili, and ginger into a sauce. Topped with pistachio nuts and pea shoots. My only mistake on this was tossing together the sauce with the “spaghetti” about 20 minutes before I took this picture, which makes the zucchini look a bit mushy. Note to self, blend sauce just before serving. Flavors were great. This would make a great summer dish as well. Last but not least was

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Butternut & Cabbage Stew. The flavors here were superb with a mix of butternut squash, cabbage, rice, and black eyed peas and topped with some roughly chopped parsley and thinly sliced apple. My only challenge was cooking the peas through…

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which I did do…at the expense of the squash, which became mushy. Texture is more like a porridge than a stew. If I did this one again, I’d go with canned black eyed peas so I could control the cook time around the squash.

Whenever I’m looking for a vegetarian option for a meal, Green Kitchen Stories will be at the top of my list.

So, what’s next? I’d like to explore

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A Couple Cooks. Another vegetarian blog by a very talented husband and wife team Sonja & Alex who love to cook.

Thanks to all of you for following along with me on this adventure. Cheers!

xo

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Planning ahead so we don’t have to do anything right now

Planning ahead so we don’t have to do anything right now

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Brian & I enjoyed the most beautiful afternoon, enjoying a lovely bottle of wine, bread from 3 Girls in the Pike Place Market, and a lovely aged chedder also from the Pike Place Market, and a pate.

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The pate was a creation of Brian’s… from a few weeks before this lavish afternoon delight when Brian had the notion of making a lovely smooth chicken liver pate

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As we sat there enjoying this lovely bite, I though back on the silly comedy film “Tremors” with Kevin Bacon & Fred Ward, among others.

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The two characters were considered losers and one of the famous lines Fred Ward’s character said in the beginning of the film was “See, we plan ahead so we don’t have to do anything right now”. Fabulous! I thought about that on this lovely afternoon when I realized we were enjoyed the spoils of a morning at the Pike Place Market, a past visit to one of our favorite wineries, and Brian’s inspiration to make a lovely chicken liver pate a few weeks before.

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Because of his passion, our hunter / gather instincts at our local market and our local vineyards, we sat here in this lovely afternoon doing nothing but enjoying what we planned for…without even knowing it.!

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Brian’s Chicken Liver Pate recipe:

1 lb. fresh chicken livers, cleaned, 1 cup cold milk, 1 stick cold unsalted butter, but into pieces, 1 cup chopped yellow onions, 2 teaspoons minced garlic, 2 tablespoon green peppercorns – drained, 2 bay leaves, 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, 1/4 cup Cognac.

In large saute pan, melt 4 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat. Add onions, cook, stirring until soft. Add garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chicken livers, the bay leaves, thyme, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring, until the livers are browned on the outside and still slightly pink on the inside, about 5 minutes. Add Cognac and cook until most of the liquid is evaporated and the livers are cooked through but still tender. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Discard bay leaves.

In food processor puree the liver mixture. Add remaining butter in p pieces and pulse to blend. Fold in remaining 1 tablespoon peppercorns and adjust the seasoning to taste.

Strain pate through a fine mesh sieve and pack the resulting mixture  into desired ramekins.

Optional: top the individual ramekins of pate with a bit of clarified butter or melted duck fat to seal and add a sage leaf.

Pack the individual ramekins in vacuum pkgs. Then thaw when needed and serve with either hardy crackers or wholesome bread. Enjoy!

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Green Kitchen Stories – Part 2

Green Kitchen Stories – Part 2

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As many of you know, I’m cooking my way through the Green Kitchen Stories blog. Lots of wonderful recipes there. first up this last week was the Celeriac Lasagna AKA Shaved Roots & Mushroom Casserole. All kinds of goodness here, but it is a large casserole.

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As you can see from this close up, all kinds of flavorful goodness is layered in here. Because it is just Brian & I, we clearly could not eat it all. So, instead of simply reheating leftovers as-is, we decided to blend the rest up as a soup. So good. More on that in a future post.

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Next up was this beautiful Cauliflower Leek Soup. I made this recipe especially for Brian as he has this long standing love affair with cauliflower. Topped with micro greens and roughly chopped almonds, lemon zest, and also – my add, a drizzling of truffle oil. So, so good. Will definitely be adding this to my list of go-to soups.

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My history with cauliflower soup is adding milk or cream. This has none of that. Recipe calls for water, I used vegetable stock to boost flavor. So glad I did.

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I found some absolutely beautiful mangos in the market so immediately went to Green Kitchen’s Mango & Walnut Salad recipe. I used a salad mix for the greens, as well as some micro greens for garnish. On the walnut dressing I did add a few drops of Agave syrup. Quite delicious

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and since mangos are readily available right now I’m thinking we will revisit this one soon.

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My final offering on this post is the Saffron Bulgur with Vegetables. This was beautiful, flavorful, and filling. I substituted feta cheese for the called for goat cheese. I love goat cheese, but it’s not a favorite of Brian’s so…a nod to his palette. Actually I think the goat cheese would have added a mushy factor that I don’t think would have enhanced the dish so glad we went with the feta.

Well, sadly that’s it for this week. I would have liked to cook more but with Brian’s travel last week, we were backed up on leftovers that had to be eaten through. We are doing a good job though of eating through the fridge!

Until next time, thanks so much for stopping by and hope the new year has been treating you well so far. Can you believe we’ve traveled through one month already? Where does the time go?

xo

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Blood-Orange Sorbet

Blood-Orange Sorbet

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Winter here in the Pacific Northwest means we don’t have any local strawberries, Blueberries, or raspberries.

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But we do have citrus! I just love the bright flavor and color of grapefruits, tangerines, meyer lemons, and of course blood-oranges.

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They are my absolute favorite. The blotchy red-orange skin just doesn’t look anything like a regular orange, and the dark red color of the fruit and it’s juice is amazing.

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They are great as a snack. Just slice into wedges and eat the fruit off of the peel.

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You can certainly juice them and have yourself a lovely glass of blood-orange juice. Or you can do what I’ve done here and make a sorbet.

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The peels can be candied

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So easy to do

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The candied peel can be eaten by themselves, but also makes a nice garnish for the sorbet

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Here’s the recipe for both the sorbet and the candied peel. Enjoy!

Blood Orange Sorbet

1 1/2 Cups Strained blood-orange juice (about 6 oranges)

3/4 Cup Simple Syrup (recipe below)

1 to 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice, strained

1. In a bowl, stir together the blood-orange juice and the simple syrup. Add lemon juice to taste. Chill the mixture until it’s very cold, about 3 hours or overnight.

2. Freeze in an ice-cream machine according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Simple Syrup

2 Cups sugar

1 1/2 Cups water

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the sugar and 1 1/2 Cups water. Bring mixture to a simmer, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Let the syrup simmer for a minute, then turn off the heat and allow to cool. This will keep almost indefinitely in a tightly sealed bottle in the refrigerator.

Candied Orange Peel

Peel only from a couple of oranges

4 Cups sugar, divided

3 Cups water

1. Cut the peel into long strips. Cook in a large pot of boiling water 15 minutes; drain, rinse, and drain again.

2. Bring 3 Cups sugar and 3 Cups water to boil in medium saucepan over  medium heat string to dissolve sugar. Add peel. Return to boil. Reduce heat; simmer until peel is very soft, about 40 minutes. Drain.

3. Toss peel in 1 cup sugar on rimmed baking sheet, separating strips. Lift peel from sugar; transfer to sheet of foil or other baking sheet. Let stand until coating is dry, 1 to 2 days. Can wrap and freeze up to two months.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

xo

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