Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Bee-you-tiful tomatoes

Photo: Lori Korleski Richardson
This tomato plant came to me as an Indigo Apple. Since it doesn't seem very blue to me, I think it might have been mislabeled. But it produced lovely, rich fruit and a lot of it.

In today's Sacramento Bee, you'll find a lot of good recipes by chef/gardener/writers. Here's mine:

Prep time: About 15 minutes

Serves 3 or 4
Note: I like seeds and skins. Add more prep time, and some tomato juice, if you want to remove both.
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 medium red bell pepper, roughly chopped

1 large, young lemon cucumber, roughly chopped

½ red onion, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Two ½-inch slices french bread or 1 slice ciabatta, torn up

A few basil leaves and/or parsley

1 small fresh jalapeño, seeded and roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

Salt and black pepper

1 avocado, quartered and thinly sliced into fans (optional)

1 tablespoon sherry (optional)
Put the tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumber, onion, olive oil, bread, parsley and/or basil, jalapeño and garlic in a blender; season with salt and pepper. Process until smooth, adding up to ½ cup water if necessary.
Taste and adjust the seasoning. Refrigerate for up to a few hours before serving or serve immediately. Float the sherry on top and/or garnish with avocado fans, if desired.

Read more here:

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Bittman's move a big loss for the Gray Lady

Mark Bittman is leaving The New York Times to join a food startup that will "make it easier for people to eat more plants." He's been with the paper of record since 2011, serving as food columnist. As he says on his blog: “Oh,” say my friends, “you move to California and join a start-up.” Yup. Corny as can be.

Bittman has done a wonderful job of getting people into the kitchen again, by demystifying the process it takes to put food on the table instead of putting it on a pedestal that only great chefs can aspire to top. He shares the secrets of those high culinary priests, not on slick shows that take an unseen staff to prepare and produce, but in clear language and simple steps that busy cooks can easily follow.

His new venture sounds delightful, but he will be missed by those of us who follow the Times. Here's his last column for the New York Times.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Squashed tacos that are anything but flat

Remember the time that you "lost" a zucchini while picking the others, and the next time you harvested, it was big as a kiddie baseball bat? And you GREW it, so you wanted to do something with it? I mean, besides throw it in the compost heap? You probably stuffed it with sausage and baked it, right? How did that turn out for you?

Well, I didn't have zucchini that big, but I did have three squash of different persuasions that I needed to fix before going out of town. And I had chorizo. And a red onion. And tortillas.


And they were fantastically delicious. When people talk about using meat as a condiment, I think of sausage in general. It's too greasy to use on its own, yet it's well-spiced and flavorful in many kinds of dishes.

By pairing it with a fairly bland vegetable, such as squash, you get the pow of the sausage and a lot of nutrition as well.

Lori K's Chorizo Tacos
Serves 4

½ pound chorizo (see note below)
3-4 squash (zucchini, patty pan, yellow ... any summer squash)
¼ red onion
Salt to taste
8-12 corn tortillas
Cilantro leaves
Lettuce, sliced
Guacamole (optional)
Tomatoes, diced (optional)

Put the chorizo in a cold cast-iron skillet and turn burner to low. As you wait for it to start frying, gather your condiments and cut your squash in a rough dice. Small dice the onion.

Put the tortillas in a towel or warmer and set them in the microwave.

Chop up the sausage as it fries. When you flip it, add the squash. Cook until the squash is tender but not mushy, about 8-10 minutes. Salt if you think it's needed.

Add the onion and heat the tortillas in the microwave for about a minute. One by one, fill the soft tortillas with the drained mixture, add cilantro, lettuce, guacamole and tomatoes, and enjoy.

Note: Be sure to use the raw Mexican sausage in this dish. The one I used for this dish came from The Rock Barn, via Relay Foods. The Spanish version is not spicy enough and more vinegary. For vegetarians, there are very good vegan chorizos available. I often use them because they are much less greasy and still have the punch and flavor of the meaty kind.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Funny name for a fabulous treat

Chocolate lovers, this is your dream. It's a cake and pudding all in one, and comes in a little ramekin for you alone. Top it with whipped cream, strawberries, gelato, ice cream, Grand Marnier or Baileys Irish Cream, or a combination of the above. It's very rich, so it's best to make it in 4-ounce cups.

Muck-muck Cake
Serves 8

7 ounces fine dark chocolate, broken into small pieces (I've made it with Scharffen Berger 70%,  Lindt 85%,  Baker's semisweet chocolate and Safeway real semisweet chocolate chips. Buy the finest you can afford. You won't regret it.)
14 tablespoons butter (2 sticks, minus 2 tablespoons. Use the extra to brush inside the ramekins.)
4 eggs
4 egg yolks
1½ cups confectioner's sugar
¾ cup flour

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Brush 8 3-inch ramekins with a tablespoon of melted butter. Set all of them in a 9x13-inch pan. Fill the pan with about a half-inch of water.
Place the butter in a 2-cup glass microwave-safe measuring cup. Microwave for a minute and a half or until butter is completely melted. Stir in the chocolate. Microwave for 30 seconds more if the chocolate doesn't completely melt when stirred.
Beat with a whisk the eggs and yolks in a 4-cup glass measuring cup. Slowly add the butter and chocolate, then the sugar, then the flour, until completely combined.
Pour into the ramekins, then put in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes (if you get distracted, or like only a little goo in the middle, a somewhat longer time is OK). Remove from oven and serve immediately with a dusting of confectioner's sugar or the topping of your choice.

Adapted from recipe given to me by Linda Wallihan in Sacramento

Friday, May 1, 2015

Crispy tacos in oven? Sure, if you don't like corn

I got really excited when I saw Food & Wine's Mad Genius tip for this week was crispy tacos, baked not fried.

The one problem: Justin Chapple used flour tortillas. I'm from Texas and NO ONE USES FLOUR TORTILLAS FOR TACOS.

Flour tortillas have their place: Freshly made, they wrap up fajitas. They make gooey, yummy quesadillas. Filled with rice and refried beans and other good stuff, they are burritos. They take the place of bread at the table. But they aren't tacos. Tacos are made with corn tortillas.

So after viewing the video, I tried to do the same with corn tortillas. I usually make soft tacos because  I hate to fry things, but every now and then, I have a hankering for a crispy taco. If I could do that in the oven, I would be one happy camper.

Sad to say, it did not work. I ended up crisping up the experiment in a warm oven to make chips.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

A late winter's salad

Signs of spring cheer the heart, but it's only mid-March as far as produce goes in the East. If you like a salad for lunch, think beyond tomatoes and lettuce. Here's one that's colorful and hardy for a cool, rainy day.

A late winter's salad
Serves 2

½ cup cooked wheat berries, chilled
½ cup cooked French tiny green lentils, chilled
4 mini bell peppers, sliced
Handful of haricots vert, or tender green beans, cooked and cooled
½ cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons quality olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Celtic gray salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Toss all in a bowl and serve. Also good over a bed of tender field greens or arugula.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Pi day pie – a rustic quiche

I was supposed to host a brunch today for my fellow nerds who wanted to mark the best Pi Day of our lives (3/14/15 9:26:59) by eating pie together. Alas, the best laid plans were laid aside when I slipped on ice in my driveway last Sunday and fell hard and twisted my left knee. It's healing, but I couldn't possibly host anything today.

But we did have pie this morning. I decided to try to make a pie that didn't require a lot of measuring or extra fat and could be committed to memory. Here's what I came up with and it was very tasty.

If you don't have ham, use crumbled cooked bacon or sausage or sliced hot dogs. If you don't have chopped fresh kale, used thawed chopped spinach squeezed until dry. Any medium hard cheese you like will do. Chopped green onions or any color chopped bell peppers would be good, too. And if you like it spicy, use cayenne pepper instead of nutmeg. If you don't have a 7-inch spring-form pan, an 8-inch pie plate will do.

Lori K's rustic quiche for two 

½ stick of frozen butter (2 oz)
1 cup whole-wheat flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup ice cold water

2 eggs, beaten
¼ cup Greek yogurt
¼ cup skim milk
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon black pepper
2 slices of deli ham, chopped
½ cup chopped kale
¼ cup part-skim mozzarella

Grate butter into mixing bowl. Add flour and salt and combine well. Add water slowly until it looks like everything is sticking together but not not sticky; you might not need the full amount of water.
Knead a little until it holds firmly together in a ball. Flatten the ball a bit, put it back into the bowl and put in the refrigerator while you make the filling.

Heat the oven to 475°.

Make the filling: Whisk together the eggs, yogurt, milk and spices. Roll out the dough so that it's large enough to cover a 7-inch spring-form pan. Press it around all the bottom edge, and flatten the folds. Take off any overhanging dough (you can roll it out thinly and bake at the same time to make crackers; they may be done before the quiche is, so keep an eye on them if you do this). Sprinkle the kale, ham and cheese on top of the dough, then pour the filling over.

Put in the oven on a baking sheet and turn the heat down to 375. Cook for 20 minutes. The sides will slip down and it will look like a rustic tart. Take out of the oven and cool for at least 5 minutes.