24 April 2010

A tired cheesemonger eats dinner.

I know, it doesn't seem that exciting to hear. But I get asked every day that I'm at work how on earth I work behind the cheese counter and not be flipping huge!? It generally boggles my mind that these people think so little of their own self control that they think I just gorge myself everyday. Truth be told, I eat very little cheese outside of work. When it comes to eating, it's almost work overload to have cheese at home, because I do eat a fair bit as a part of my job (how else would I know what fab suggestions to make when you people come in, pick out a cheese to taste and then hate what you picked?). But I do find ways to sneak it in here and there.


Pasta with Tuna and Veggies

1# small pasta (I used a Sardinian pasta that looks like little grubs, avoid spaghetti unless it is the only pasta you can find at the store. Rigatoni work well)
1 can San Marzano tomatoes diced
1/2# fire-roasted artichokes, chopped (regular will work, but the fire-roasted give a nice depth of flavor)
6 oz jar Spanish Tuna in olive oil
1/4 cup capers
1/4# feta cheese, crumbled
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup agradolche or muscatel vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Start the pasta in a large pot with plenty of salted boiling water. In a bowl large enough to contain the finished pasta mix the garlic, capers, artichokes, tomatoes, and the vinegar in the bottom of the bowl, mixing so the vinegar coats all of the veggies. When the pasta is done cooking, add to the vegetables and mix well. Add in the tuna, feta, and olive oil, tossing to coat. Crack fresh pepper over the top and enjoy!

Thing are Springing Up!

I am very pleased to introduce the newest members of the homestead. 27 darling little peeping chicks have taken up residence in a brooding box in my shed. For those of you who know what my house and yard look like, no, we are not keeping all 27. Some of them are roosters and such and will become delicious dinner once they are big enough (about September..) We ordered a mixed batch of heritage breeds from Sand Hill Preservation and recieved: 4 Black Australorp, 6 Buff Minorca, 6 Exchequer (Scottish) Leghorn, 4 Golden Polis, 4 White Crested Black Polish, 3 White Cubalaya. I'm super excited about my little babies!


14 April 2010

I might have a green problem...

Everything I find myself knitting lately has been shades of green. Green hats, green socks, green sweaters. Green just about everything. Lovely grassy shades, bright almost lime colors, and the soft mossy shades have taken over my knitting. I'm not sure where this little obsession came from..


And don't get me wrong. I love green (damn good thing, otherwise I would REALLY have a problem). But I'm beginning to realize that I may have a bit of a hangup. Someone might need to stage an intervention. Or just send more green yarn.. I'll get sick of it eventually right?

12 April 2010


Every year for Easter my family gathers on Good Friday and celebrates. The day starts at around 9am with all of my aunts and my grandmother in the kitchen, making pierogi. The finished dumplings are so delicious, when I make them for myself I usually make a couple of batches and freeze them so I have them for a while. We usually do just a potato filling. This year I did 5 pounds of potatoes mixed with 1/2 a pound of cheddar, finely grated. That amount of potatoes filled 2 recipes of dough. Alternately you can use the same dough and put a spoonful of your favorite pie filling inside and serve with ice cream or just powdered sugar for a fun desert. Other filling options traditionally include meat, and sauerkraut, but the sky is really the limit.

Pierogi Dough
Makes about 70 pierogi.

4 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs
5 tablespoons dairy sour cream
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
pinch of salt
about 3/4 cup water

Sift flour into a large bowl or onto a flat working surface; make a well in the center.
Break eggs into well.
Add sour cream, 3 tablespoons oil and salt.
Blend ingredients with your fingertips.
Gradually add water, working and kneading mixture into a smooth, pliable dough.
Divide dough into quarters.

Roll to 1/16 inch thick
Cut into 3-1/2 to 4 inch circles.
Place 1 heaping tablespoon filling -- fold over -- crimp edges. (crimp very tightly, if there are any holes all of the filling will leak out when you boil them)
Boil in salted water (1/2 teaspoon salt per 2 quarts water)
Cook 4 to 5 minutes or until pierogi float.

At this point you can freeze the pierogi, or if you want to eat them right away, you can either pan fry, deep fry, or bake them until they are golden brown and lightly crispy. If you want to freeze them, I recommend laying them out on a greased sheet pan and putting them in the freezer until they are solid, then put them in gallon zip-lock bags to store them. If you put them in before they are frozen, they will freeze together into a solid mass and be impossible to separate without tearing the dough.


07 April 2010

Tunisian Addiction

The last few weeks I've been getting really, really excited about food with the fresh produce and such coming back to the Farmer's Market. I had my very first salad of the season this last weekend with mixed spicy greens, pea shoots, handmade croutons, walnuts, and currents all drizzled over with a raspberry vinaigrette. No real recipe for this one, simply great ingredients tossed together in a big bowl and happily consumed. One thing in my fridge that sometimes gets forgotten about (and tragically so) is the jar of Tunisian harissa paste that lives toward the back. I made a squash soup that was liberally laced with it back in October that was delicious. But then the jar got pushed to the back of my fridge and largely forgotten about for a while. Then I got inspired by a couscous salad at work. And I was off into the kitchen to see what I could do to replicate deliciousness.

2 cups couscous (you really want the larger Tunisian style, or Israeli will do in a pinch), cooked and cooled
1 cup black olives, pitted and halved (do not use "California black olives" from the supermarket for this, I recommend a pitted kalamata or sahli olive)
1 bunch scallions, chopped
3 med ripe tomatoes, diced (you can use canned, just make sure to drain well)
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1 carrot, grated
1 lemon, zest

Harissa paste
lemon juice
Olive oil
couscous water

In a large bowl mix cooked couscous (the larger style is actually more like a pasta, cook accordingly and reserve about a 1/3 cup of the cooking liquid for the dressing), scallions, olives, tomatoes, most of the parsley, and carrot. Reserve about 2 tablespoons of parsley for serving.
In a smaller bowl, mix the dressing ingredients. I haven't given exact measurements for any of the dressing because I just kind of winged it, tasting as I went along. I started with about a tablespoon of the harissa and added the juice of one lemon (I only had one, more might be nice). I added the olive oil and reserved couscous water until I had a consistency I was happy with and what looked like about a cup of dressing total. Salt to taste.
Pour the dressing over the couscous and veg mixture and toss to coat. Sprinkle reserved parsley and lemon zest over the top when you serve. This is a pretty versatile salad, I had it warm, room temp, and cool and it was excellent all ways.

I am using the last jar of tomato sauce that I made this summer for dinner tonight. I am now waiting (probably not so patiently) for tomatoes to come back into season.