Sharing meals with friends and family is one of life's greatest pleasures. Featured here are some of the simple, yet wonderful, celebrations that take place in our home on Any Given Sunday throughout the year.
Even in late spring, peas and asparagus are still abundant at the Santa Fe Farmers Market. Will cook some semi-pearled farro, then will add some chopped herbs, some feta and these lovely vegetables. A simple, healthy meal that is also hearty and satisfying.
I've posted this recipe before but it bears repeating, especially now that I've discovered the locally grown and ground white corn polenta from Talon de Gato Farm in Dixon, NM (just a little north of Santa Fe), and that is available at the Santa Fe Farmers Market.
A hot creamy bowl of polenta with good chorizo is one of our all-time favorite breakfast meals. The polenta takes 25-30 minutes to cook but it's worth the wait.
1/2 lb. chorizo sausage
4 cups water
1 cup polenta or grits (preferably the white corn polenta that is local to the Santa Fe area if you live around here)
2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese (or parmesan - see note below)
1 tablespoon butter
salt & pepper to taste
sour cream for garnish
cilantro for garnish
hot sauce to add heat (optional)
Cook chorizo sausage in a non-stick skillet on medium-high heat until done, approximately 10 -15 minutes. Keep warm.
Cook polenta in a medium-sized, heavy bottom sauce pan by bringing 4 cups of lightly salted water to a boil, then slowly pouring in polenta while stirring constantly so that it doesn't lump. Once all the polenta in stirred into the water and the mixture has returned to the boil, turn temperature down to medium-low and let cook for 25 minutes longer, stirring occasionally throughout the cooking process so that it doesn't stick to the bottom of your pan. Cook until polenta is the consistency of a thick custard. Turn off heat and stir in 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoons of mascarpone cheese. This will make the polenta quite creamy in texture. Season lightly with salt and pepper to taste.
Note: if you don't have mascarpone cheese on hand, you can use a good quality parmesan instead - just finely grate it and stir it into the polenta after it's cooked, just like you would the mascarpone.
Serve immediately by placing polenta into warmed soup bowls. Spoon cooked chorizo on top of polenta, then garish with sour cream, cilantro and hot sauce to taste.
When half of your household is Armenian, you get the benefit of these delicious sandwiches all summer long: Baljan Garmisa (egg and flour dipped fried eggplant slices with bell pepper, red onion, cucumber, and tomato. Best vegetarian sandwich ever!
Since maple syrup is not anywhere close to being local to Santa Barbara, we decided to go another route to top our waffles this morning. We squeezed the juice of 2 lemons and 2 blood oranges (from the trees in our backyard), and proceeded to cook them over very low heat with a cup of super fine sugar and 6 egg yolks. Once the heat was turned off, I stirred in 3 tablespoons of sweet butter and let it chill in the fridge for an hour or so. The resulting curd was not only a delicious topping for today's waffles, it was beautiful to look at as well.
We have the incredible good fortune to be spending weekends together in Santa Barbara until the snow melts and it turns toward spring in Santa Fe. Here is my recipe for biscotti, adapted years ago from the Cantucci di Prato recipe that appeared in the Il Fornaio Baking Book. I call them Ojai Biscotti because of the aroma the orange zest emits when they are first baked.
2 1/2 cups unbleached
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole raw almonds
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 whole eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
In a large mixing bowl, stir
together the almonds, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and
butter. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, vanilla, and orange zest and
lightly beat with a whisk until blended. Add the egg mixture to the flour
mixture and beat until a granular dough forms.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead for one minute.
Divide the dough into four equal portions. Using the palms of your hands, roll
each portion into a log about 12 inches long and one inch in diameter.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease it with butter. Place the
logs crosswise on the baking sheet, spacing them about two inches apart. Using
the palm of one hand, lightly flatten the top of each log until it is about
½-inch thick. Bake the logs in the preheated oven until golden brown, 15 to 20
minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet until they can
be handled, about 10 minutes. Leave the oven set at 350°F.
Transfer the logs to a cutting board and cut them crosswise on the diagonal
into pieces ½-inch wide. Line a second baking sheet with parchment paper or
grease it with butter. Arrange the pieces cut sides down on the two baking
sheets. Return the cookies to the oven and bake until they are lightly toasted
and the edges are golden brown, 10 minutes. Let cool completely on the baking
sheets before serving. Store in a covered container at room temperature for up
to two weeks.
Each year when January 1 rolls around, we splurge by having champagne and caviar for breakfast. It's our version of eating Hoppin' John, as we feel it brings us luck for the new year.
In addition to the caviar (from Little Pearl, which is stocked at a local market so we don't have to fly it in ourselves, thus saving food miles, and that was voted "Best Domestic Caviar" by Chefs in America, http://www.littlepearl.com/), the finely minced shallots , the homemade blini (an adaptation of a recipe by the Barefoot Contessa from her "Barefoot in Paris" book, recipe shown below), the Bellwether Farms créme fraiche (http://www.bellwetherfarms.com/), we enjoyed our last bottle of champagne by French producer, Pasqual Doquet. Two years ago, we found 8 bottles of his premier crus rosé and fell in love with it. The deep pink/red color, the crisp fresh strawberry fruit, the yeast -- all combine to make this bottle of bubbles one of our all-time favorites.
BLINI Adapted from the blini recipe by Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, from her "Barefoot in Paris" book. We love this recipe since it doesn't require yeast, yet tastes like it does. The blini also rise well, even at the 7,200 ft. elevation we live at here in Santa Fe.
1/3 cup buckwheat flour (we like the organic one from Bob's Red Mill http://www.bobsredmill.com/) 2/3 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt 3/4 cup plus two tablespoons milk 1 extra-large egg 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, clarified Caviar 1/4 cup créme fraiche or sour cream Finely minced shallots and/or chives for garnish
Combine the two flours, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, and 1 tablespoon of the clarified butter, then whisk into the flour mixture. Heat 1 tablespoon of the clarified butter in a medium sauté pan and drop the batter into the hot skillet, 1 tablespoon at a time. Cook over medium-low heat until bubbles form on the top side of the blini about 2 minutes. Flip and cook for 1 more minute, or until brown. Repeat with the remaining batter. (I clean the hot pan with a dry paper towel in between batches.)
When I was growing up in Upstate New York, there was a Mountain Snow apple tree outside my bedroom window. I loved those apples — they were dark red on the outside and almost pure white on the inside, with just the right amount of sweet/tart balance. The only other time in my life I've found that variety was at the Santa Fe, NM farmers market. And contrary to how most idealized food memories go, these Mountain Snow apples are just as lovely and delicious as I remember the ones from my childhood to have been.
It is All Saints Day here in Santa Fe and it's officially the end of the vegetable garden for the year. All the plants have been dug out and the trellises have been put away in the shed until next spring. We are already looking forward to the seed catalogs that will begin arriving next month, and to May 15, 2010, which is when we can plant next year's garden without the danger of frost. This was our best year for tomatoes ever - thankfully, we got around to canning to the pantry is full of wonderful sauce!