Nov 29, 2010

it was nice, really nice

i hope you had a very lovely weekend. i wasn't sure, but ours turned out to be marvelous after all: seeing old friends, lovely weather, a really clean house, and naturally, wonderful and delicious foods of all kinds. everything turned out just a little better than we'd hoped, making for a rather nice break before the craziness of the season truly begins. the kids had only a little homework, we saw movies, relaxed, talked, laughed, noshed and noshed some more.

and so far we are on top of things holiday-wise. online shopping has begun in earnest, lists are being checked off, presents are becoming wrapped, seasonal decorations are appearing, sprucing and polishing are happening. a happy busy vibe, with only a touch of trepidation this year. we are in a state of readiness. something tells me this holiday season is going to be a good ride. not extravagant certainly, but simple and sweet, and full of great moments.

Nov 24, 2010

pomegranate persimmon salad with leeks, a simple thanksgiving part 4

i love this salad. the pomegranate seeds look like jewels. the persimmons are a slightly sweet and crunchy interesting counterpoint to the greens and the leeks. very festive and a nice light addition to a holiday menu.

pomegranate persimmon salad
serves 6 - 8
12 ounces mixed baby greens, rinsed and dried
1/3 pomegranate, seeds only (about 1/3 cup)
1 large or 2 small fuyu persimmons, peeled and sliced
1 leek, finely sliced

2TBSP pomegranate cherry juice
3TBSP seasoned rice vinegar
3TBSP extra virgin olive oil
(a touch of dijon mustard or some minced shallots is nice here but i usually skip it because i am overwhelmed in the kitchen at this point) assemble ingredients. whisk up the dressing. pour. toss. serve. bon appetit.

Nov 23, 2010

delicious sweet potatoes, roasted two ways. a simple thanksgiving part 3

way number 1: wash sweet potatoes, place in a large mixing bowl. pour 1/4 cup olive oil over the potatoes to coat. mix and massage them with your hands if necessary. sprinkle with up to 1 tablespoon sea salt. place in a baking dish in a preheated 375 degree fahrenheit oven for 45 to 60 minutes, until the potatoes are slightly wrinkly and collapsed. enjoy with lots of fresh organic butter. these are so rich and creamy they taste like dessert.

way number 2: peel and cube the sweet potatoes. place cubes in a medium mixing bowl, pour a generous amount of olive oil and sprinkle a teaspoon or two of sea salt. mix to coat. place in a baking dish in a 400 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes until browned on the edges of the cubes. serve as is. adorable, and delicious.

Nov 22, 2010

bread stuffing with apples and dried cranberries simple thanksgiving part 2

so easy this stuffing. and nearly fool-proof. i love the mix of salty and sweet, moist and chewy in this simple savory, but slightly sweet, dressing.

2 large loaves of freshly baked bread, like baguettes, pain levain or something with a bit of tooth to it. cut into 1 inch cubes and set out to dry overnight.
3 very large onions, finely chopped
4 stalks of celery, finely chopped
1 large bunch of flat leaf parsely, leaves only, chopped
1 cup finely chopped apple, a tart one such as granny smith or braeburn
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup olive oil
2 to 3 cups chicken stock (could easily substitute vegetable stock here for a vegan version)
salt and pepper to taste

cook the chopped onions and celery over medium high heat in the olive oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. add parsley and stir to combine. reserve. heat the chicken stock. now in a large mixing bowl, place the bread cubes. add in the onion/celery/olive oil mixture on top of the bread cubes. combine with your hands or a large wooden spoon. add in the heated chicken stock until pleasingly moist, but not at all soggy, stop before you get to that point. season to taste with salt and pepper. it should already be delicious already, but bake it anyway as your guests will insist on it.

place mixture in large, lightly oiled casserole dish. bake at 350 degrees farenheit for 45 minutes to an hour. cover with foil if it is starting to brown too too much. (this dish can take longer to cook if there are lots of other things in the oven at the same time as is often the case on stuffing holidays). it should only take 45 minutes if it is solo in the oven.

yum. my favorite part of the holiday meal. delicious with gravy, or on its own. also quite good with crown roast of pork or roasted cornish game hens.

Nov 18, 2010

a simple thanksgiving part 1

i like to keep things simple. and when you are a simple cook, as i am, the ingredients are not far out and the procedure is not too too complicated, but all the elements must come together with care and attention. the details and quality are that much more important when the food itself, is rather simple. i buy the highest quality organic ingredients i can. as long as they are not outrageously priced or terribly inconvenient to get to as i think it also matters how far you have to travel to pick up this or that element of your meal, and perhaps also how far it has to travel to get to you. for the next few days i am going to post my simple thanksgiving recipes, which we've been making for about a decade now. though it took us another decade to get everything just where we wanted it. cooking takes time and experimentation, but there is not much more to it than that.

cranberry orange sauce
serves 6*
1 bag fresh organic cranberries
1 large tangelo, or orange, membranes removed and chopped into large pieces
1/2 cup freshly squeezed tangelo or orange juice
1/2 cup sugar
a tiny pinch of salt
*this recipe is dead simple and can easily be doubled or tripled depending on your needs.

peel and chop the orange or tangelo, do try and save all the juice from this process and add it all to a medium saucepan with the orange pieces. add in the bag of fresh cranberries. and now the sugar. allow to come to a boil over high heat, then turn down to medium. cook for 5 minutes or so, the cranberries will begin to make a pleasing popping sound. this is fun. cook another 3 minutes or so as the cranberries collapse a bit. taste for sweetness. most recipes call for 1 - 2 cups of sugar, i try to get away with as little as i can, some cranberries are sweeter than others, so i find it is a bit different every year. when you get it just right, turn off the heat and allow to cool for 3 minutes. then pour into a serving dish and allow to cool the rest of the way. at this point the cranberry sauce can be chilled in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. but i like it best still warm. yum. not to sweet. so simple. and so delicious.

Nov 9, 2010

what have i been up to? mad science experiments

i finally did it! i finally got around to starting my own starter. or natural leavening for bread. with the help and handholding and guidance of peter reinhardt, renowned bread expert. i'm onto day five or so of the process. with a few more days and some luck i will be baking pain au levain with my own wild yeasts and bacteria.

why have this strange mixture bubbling on my countertop at room temperature all week? naturally leavened bread keeps longer, uses an overnight slow fermentation process and tastes better (the last one is just my opinion). will let you know how it goes. to make your own starter, the process is really quite simple. unbleached whole wheat flour and unsweetened pineapple juice and spring water. read more about it from the experts here and here. you can keep the starter forever in your refrigerator as long as you care for it, nurture it and refresh it regularly. in other words, frequent, long vacations are not conducive to healthy starter. but i am going to be around for a while, so here goes nothing. it is bubbling away on my counter right now. apparently one is more likely to be successful if one names the starter, as it is easier to remember to feed your starter with flour every few days if you name it fred or something. so the kids and i have been trying to come up with just the right name. so far we've considered: liz lemon, phineas, ferb, goku, vegita, thomas jefferson, flaubert, etc. if you have any great name suggestions, do let me know. by this time next week, fingers crossed, our first loaf. i wonder if the bread will take on the personality of it's namesake? time will tell.

i've been meaning to do this for about a year now and it seemed for the longest time as though i would never get around to it. but here i am, getting around to it. a great winter project i think. how about you? any seasonal projects on your to do list? i am still carrying around a half-finished knitting project from the 1990s, but who knows, maybe i'll get around to that to, one of these days.

Nov 4, 2010


hey it's a blogiversary. i nearly missed it. now cup and table is two. woo hoo!

amazing how fast the time goes when you add blogging into your weekly routine. it's been a great experience in so many ways. i am still so amazed and flabbergasted at the content and community of the blogging world, which honestly, is a resource we've only just begun to tap.

a very special, heartfelt thank you to all of you who make the time to visit cup and table. i love the conversation about food, vegetables, art, and photography, and reading your interesting comments and thoughts and suggestions. i love to hear what you think, i love to hear what is going on in your part of the world, and also what is going on in your kitchen. i also love meeting fellow bloggers through their blogs, i love going to your sites and seeing all your wonderful photographs and visuals and reading what you are up to. there are so many talented people out there. so many. it is all beautiful. grazie mille!

my family and i must have unknowingly celebrated this small milestone last weekend. it was exciting and special. first, we met maira kalman and alice waters at maira's book signing @ a chelsea gallery, which raised a bit of money for alice's edible schoolyard project. they are now building a garden/greenhouse/kitchen at a school in new york city, ps 216 in brooklyn, which is fantastic news. and they've already broken ground see here. it is so important to support local, sustainable, and organic agricultural knowledge. we cannot leave this important part of our culture entirely up to agribusiness. i think we can mostly agree that would not go so well in the future. i love to see that in the u.s. we seem to be devoting more of our attention to the art of growing and preparing food. eating healthier. enjoying our food more, rather than simply enjoying more food.

i'd also like to thank new york city for being so wonderful, so varied, and so inspiring. i've only been back on this coast for 4 years, but it continues to be great, so many amazing chefs doing such interesting work. on saturday alone, we stopped at pulinos for pizza, where mr. nate appleman himself was behind the counter, (on what appears to be his last weekend at the restaurant), we also stopped by the sweet life on the lower east side, for (yes you guessed it) sweets, then dinner at my favorite family restaurant in the entire world (a warm, authentic, japanese restaurant where they know our names) wajima. all wonderful. great food, family. a fitting celebration i think, seeing artists and chefs and women doing great work in the world, making a difference with their art, intelligence, their care and creativity. it is a sweet life when so many voices are contributing, i love it all.

Nov 2, 2010

taking care of things

we sure eat a lot of salad, see here, here, here, and here.

so, we have a few salad bowls. these maple bowls are my favorite ones of the bunch. i finally got around to oiling them the other day and boy were they happy about it! the bowls, sad from neglect, were looking kind of grey and dull and dry. i am happy to report they now they look fresh and new again. i'd seasoned them (oiled them with mineral oil or olive oil) quite a lot at first, and then forgot all about it. best to do this every month or two, rather than every year or two. lots to do when the seasons change. otherwise, we are going around getting the house, and us, ready for that cold, dark time ahead which i am not ready to name just yet. sweaters and coats and all manner of hats and scarves and mittens pulled from storage. putting away beachy things. turning off hose bibs and sprinkler systems. stocking up on firewood. sewing a few draft-chasing door snakes. making lip balm and body butter to keep our skin fresh and moist. otherwise taking care of things.