A mother-daughter conversation on food and cooking (mostly)

Friday, February 20, 2009


I made a calzone using my regular pizza dough recipe. It's a fairly wet dough, which made it a little tough to work with. Lots of cornmeal on the peel made it all okay.

No ricotta in this one -- just what we had around, which was homemade Italian sausage, mozzarella, and sauce made with canned tomatoes.

Mom, I used to love those calzones you made with ham and cheese when we were kids. I think that was my birthday dinner for several years running, wasn't it?

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Norm and Jane from Washington came for dinner and to spend the night. Norm is a vintner and brought two delicious bottles of his wine, an unusual Petit Verdot and a Voignier. Here was our Valentine menu.

Homemade Bread
Salad from the Garden
Strawberry Ice Cream
Fresh Blackberries

This soup is wonderful for guests because you can make the broth ahead, and then throw in the fish for five minutes right before serving. The flavor of the broth is lovely, starting with fennel and leek instead of the usual carrots, onions, and celery. The recipe is mostly from the 1997 Joy of Cooking.


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 leek, cut into 1/2-inch half rounds
1 small fennel bulb, cored and sliced
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
1 star anise
Peel of 1/2 orange
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat the oil and butter and gently saute the above ingredients for 5 to 10 minutes, until tender but not browned. Then add

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Saute a further 2 minutes, then add

1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup dry white vermouth

Boil gently for 3 minutes. Stir in

1 one-pound can diced tomatoes
3 cups Fish Broth*
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt, depending on the saltiness of your broth

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer gently for 20 minutes. You can stop at this point if you want.

Just before serving time, stir in 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of mixed fish and shellfish, cut in similar sizes so they will cook in the same amount of time--or else put the larger items in first. Cook up to 5 minutes or until just cooked. For this batch I used:

1/2 pound shrimp (I used the shells in the broth)
1/2 pound cod in 1-inch chunks
3/4 pound bay scallops
2 Australian lobster tails, cut in half lengthwise
1 can chopped clams

*I made this particular fish stock by simmering the shrimp shells, the juice from the can of clams, and a couple of tablespoons of fish sauce with water.

PS: We had the leftover soup for lunch today with Grandma and it was still excellent. Be careful not to reheat too much.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Fancy Nachos

Trying to use up food from the fridge, I made pretentious fancy nachos with:
  • homemade corn chips
  • bourbon-tomatillo black beans
  • goat Brie
  • white cheddar
  • roasted red peppers
  • cilantro
  • chives
I made the corn chips by cutting up corn tortillas and frying them in a small amount of peanut oil.

I made the beans by opening a can of black beans and cooking them down with some Herdez green salsa and 1/8 cup of bourbon. No kidding.

I compiled the whole thing and baked it for 10 minutes or so.

No meat here...maybe something like leftover roasted duck or homemade wild boar sausage might have been silly enough to match the rest of the dish.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Enchiladas and Beans

We cooked our standard comfort food yesterday: green chile enchiladas and beans. Tonight we had pulled pork, sweet potatoes, and ratatouille over at Grandma's. It's cold here. At 50 degrees, our thoughts turn to all-day oven dishes.

However, the real purpose of this post is to share that flatbread recipe you asked for.

Brown Rice Flour Flatbread

3/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup blanched almonds
3/4 cup mixed gluten-free flour mix
1/2 teaspoon anise seed
2 tablespoons sesame seed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon xantham gum

Process above ingredients in a food processor until finely ground.

1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 egg
1/2 cup water

Mix yogurt, olive oil, egg, and water in a measuring cup. Add to processor bowl and process for about 30 seconds to make a sticky batter.

Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray, or line with parchment paper.

Scoop the dough out onto the baking sheet into two lumps. Pat into flat round cakes with the help of a little additional rice flour. Slash the tops of the cakes in a grid pattern, 1/4 inch deep. Bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

February Thaw

Mom, we're geniuses. I just made that cocktail we invented in conversation last week, and it's great: a Campari and soda, but with an ounce of gin to cut the sweetness and make it stiffer.

The best part is that the gin and Campari flavors both come through well, with their two different varieties of bitterness. It's modeled on a negroni, of course, which is equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari, but is far less bizarre than a negroni, which is a drink I can probably have only once every few years, so sweet, strong, and unsettling is it.

This is 1 ounce of gin, 3 ounces of Campari, and maybe 5-6 ounces of soda -- enough soda to fill an ice-filled glass the rest of the way. Very good.

There's an actual sunset occurring here in Columbia at this very moment.

Last night, to capitalize on the warm weather, I grilled hot dogs. I also made a salad of mixed lettuces, sugar snap peas, and strawberries; the dressing was lemon juice, tahini, olive oil, honey, salt, pepper, and fresh mint. Very summery.

As much as I loved cooking and eating with you and Dad, it's good to be back in my own kitchen again, you know?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Cooking Fish with Eva

Here's another meal we made together last week: red snapper with charmoula, green beans, and gluten-free flatbread.

I liked this flat round of unleavened bread made of brown rice flour, gluten-free baking flour mixture, egg, yogurt, and baking soda. It didn't try to mimick yeast bread, but was flavorful and slightly crunchy. It's from The Wheat-Free Cookbook by Jacqueline Mallorca.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Cooking Habit Live and In Person: Plating

I liked this sequence of photos from when we made dinner together earlier this week, Mom.

First, roasted tomato vinaigrette.

Then polenta -- just coarse cornmeal and water simmered for a few hours and finished with butter and parmesan -- and pan-grilled grouper.

And finally swiss chard, grown and harvested by Dad and sauteed by you with some garlic.