Down for the Count

Just an FYI, since I’ve been remiss in my notification duties! On the 25th, I had shoulder surgery to repair a torn ligament and labrum, and to remove some bone spurs.
Under M’s wonderful care, I’ll be recuperating for a week or so, then we’ll be back!

In the meantime, plow through our posts to find something new for yourselves, check out our links, or catch an episode or two of Eben’s guest Chef gig on The Big Wild.

Be well,

E

Shameless Plug for Trinity Cookbook

Trinity Episcopal Church in Fort Worth is a good place, indeed. It has a nice, 100+ year old building, a folk service every sunday, (Which has been held for 20+ years – A wonderful anomaly within the Episcopal faith). There’s a scent of antiquity and peace in the sanctuary, and a smell of some damn fine cooks in the kitchen.

Yes, Virginia, there is a truly fine tradition of food and fellowship at Trinity, and it’s now being bound and offered to you.

From Fabulous Feastings to Terrific Teas is available through the church. Offerings therein stem from appetizers to desert, with everything in between, including some true gems from the Feasting with the Saints meals conceived and brought to life by my dear friend Shannon Shipp.

The book costs $20, is well worth it, and as an added bonus, the proceeds will go to help update the kitchen, which is in dire need of such!

Contact the church to get your copy, and tell your pals!

Semi-Greek

Ok, so we suddenly have, shall we say, a whole pantload of cucumbers! What to do, what to do… Can’t preserve much of them, can’t give them all away, so gotta get cookin’. first thing that comes to mind for me is Tzatziki, just ’cause I do love it so. Secondly, we wanted something cool, ’cause it’s bloody 100+ outside and we neither need a bunch of cooking heat nor hot food on days like this, eh?

So off to the market, with a vague idea of a Greek themed dindin. I saw no lamb, so I settled on pork and beef, both USDA Choice, which they had as a Buy-1-Get-3-Free deal, so I bought three of each, of course. Snagged some very nice Greek yoghurt and some flatbread. No Retsina in sight, so a dry white wine, and back to the kitchen I went. I decided to make the protein as Greek-Like as a could and work from there. Here’s what I came up with.

Kinda-Greek Sausage
50%-50% cuts of beef and pork
Basil
Rosemary
Oregano
Thyme
Granulated Garlic
Salt & Pepper
Olive Oil

Note: I did this as sausage ’cause I have an attachment for our Kitchenaid – If you don’t, fret not – Just cut stuff to about 1/2″ and go with that, it’ll be fine – You won’t need to freeze/chill the flesh if you go this route, but limit its time outside the fridge strictly for food safety considerations.

Remove meat from packages, cube to about 1.5″ and throw them into the freezer for about 15 minutes. Throw another stainless bowl in there too, to catch the finished product. When making sausage, or really, any forcemeat, keeping your ingredients really cold all throughout the process is critical: This is necessary first and foremost to keep the proteins under 40°F and thus out of the Food Temperature Danger Zone. Secondly, it helps make a more homogenous end product with better taste and texture.

I grabbed the herbs from the garden, of course, (Which you should do too, by the way…) Field strip herbs and chiffenade/mince. Remove protein from freezer, coat liberally with oil, add herbs, garlic, salt and pepper, mix well.

Process through grinder with the wider of the two plates provided. Use chilled bowl for catching the finished sausage and return finished product to the fridge ASAP.

I cooked off the sausage in a saute pan, and M came home as I was doing so – I knew I’d done OK when the first words out her mouth were “Oh that smells soooo good!”

Now for the magic ingredient…

Tzatziki

1 8 oz container of Greek Yogurt, (You can use regular too)
1 med cucumber
2 tbspn olive oil
Juice from 1/2 to 1 lemon, (As you like it)
1 tspn dill, chopped fine, (You can sub spearmint)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
salt to taste

If you don’t have Greek Yoghurt, plain will do, but find Greek if you can; it is richer, tangier and thicker, all of which are good things when it comes to Tzatziki.
Line a colander or strainer with paper towel and drain the yogurt for 15 to 30 minutes; this is critical in avoiding a runny final product.

Peel, seed and grate cucumber. We used Armenian from our garden, which have wonderful taste and nice, firm flesh. Any decent cuke will do, but make sure it is nice and firm!

Combine everything and mix well by hand, as blending or processing will make your yogurt break down.

Place in a non-reactive bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

Let the sausage cool along with the Tzatziki.

Cut up veggies of your choice for garnish – We went with yellow bell pepper, tomato, cilantro, lettuce, onion, and pimento stuffed green olives – Talk about yummy!

Grill or toast flatbread. I wanted flatbread we could open and stuff like a Gyro, but the stuff I found wouldn’t do that, so we just cut grilled wedges and called it good. If you like cheese, then Feta or Mizithra would rock with this – We didn’t want to cloud the wonderful Tzatziki, so we left it off of ours.

Pile everything on and απολαύστε – εύγευστος!
(Enjoy – Delicious!)

Home Again…

Home, which is nice. Off tomorrow, which is very nice. 106 degrees at 7:15 pm, not so much…

Collected a few gem ideas on this road trip, met some wonderful cooks and eaters and generally had a blast. Now if we could figure out those deer flies…

Gonna take stock of the garden tomorrow and will post some pics and thoughts along that line as well.

Once again, big thanks to all the wonderful folks up in the north country. After a good few years of visiting, it feels like home and y’all feel like family. We love ya, we truly do!

E & M

Scots or Scottish?

Shortbread, that is!

I don’t get sweet teeth often, but when I do, I go straight to my Scots roots. The simplicity of this wonderful stuff infuses the house with amazing smells, and you with amazing taste and texture. This is the bar cookie style that I fell in love with as a kid.

Scots Shortbread (About 16 pieces)

2 ½ cups unbleached, white flour
½ pound unsalted butter
½ cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350º F with a rack dead in the middle.

Set butter out at room temp for about an hour prior to starting.

Combine butter and sugar and cream well together with a whisk. Add flour ½ cup at a time and incorporate with butter-sugar mix thoroughly after each addition, with a spoon. Finish blending by hand, kneading lightly.

When dough is fully blended, press into a 12” x 12” pan to a thickness of about ¾”. Prick the entire surface with a fork, all the way through the dough, at about a ¼” spacing.

Bake for 10 minutes at 350º F, then reduce oven temp to 300 º F and bake another 40 minutes. Remove pan to a cooling rack and let cool for 5 minutes, then slice shortbread into bar sized portions. Allow to completely cool in the pan before removing.

Ideal by itself, it’s unbelievable with fresh berries and a little crema, (Or crème fraiche).

P.S. – That one piece missing in the last pic, that’s just quality control…

Upcoming Stuff…

Well, the year is starting to fall together already!

First off, (And you Big Wild listeners, take special note!), M and I will be appearing at The Green Scene, in Walker, Minnesota, this July. A firm date for that will be posted here as soon as we have it. We’ll be doing cooking demos all day and will, guaranteed, be having big fun too! If you’re in the neighborhood, stop in.   Lots of great food from Community Supported Agriculture programs, great folks, big fun!

We’ve posted a link to the Green Scene here as well.

And stay tuned this week for a very cool post on hosting a no-fuss party for 25!

More Site Tweaks

Took a little time to tweak a few things that were bothering me, and to respond to a couple comments I was sent:  As a result, the main reading panel is now significantly wider, which allows for, naturally, both more text per line and bigger pictures – Thanks for the suggestion, you know who you are!  Also tweaked colors a bit to what seems to me to be more pleasing and easier to read.

Enjoy!