Friday, May 27, 2016

Now in Oregon and Chive Blossom Vinegar

We have been in Oregon a little over a week. Long days in the yard still don’t show much effort but the work goes on. Last year in December our little area on the coast received 20 inches of rain, that could possibly be four years of moisture in Arizona.

The garden has been mole proofed. My husband dug down the inside walls of the garden and installed wire mesh all around to help thwart any break-ins and a mole and gopher sonic spike has been installed. Well see who has the last laugh, I think it might be them, but there is always hope.

Still have not finished the planting but I’m getting close. My rosemary, sage and chive plants quadrupled in size. Below is a picture of the rosemary.

With the chive blossoms I made chive blossom vinegar. I first saw this on the Marisa's blog, Food In Jars, a few years back. The method is so easy, you really don't need a recipe. First cut the chive blossoms off the top of the stem.

Next clean the chive blossoms by soaking in water a few hours. This should help remove the dirt and bugs. Spin the tops dry in a salad spinner. Add 2/3 of the blossoms to each jar, then pour distilled or white wine vinegar to top. Seal jar and set in a cool dry place for about 2 weeks. Strain and enjoy. Marisa makes salad dressing and other things too, check out her website here.

We hike somewhere every day. Today it was the Cape Perpetua area. Always so pretty.

On the beach there was someone drawing Garfield the cat, pretty talented.

These pink columbines will be adorning our table tonight.

This should be a full week-end. Happy Memorial Day to everyone and a heartfelt thank you to all that serve and have served.  Take care!

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Elements of Pizza and My Cooking Experience in a Real Wood Fire Brick Oven

I’ve made pizza many times before, sometimes with premade crust, sometimes from scratch and every time it’s good, but not the best. Since I’m always looking for the next best tip I jumped at the chance to order “The Elements of Pizza”, my first and only cookbook on the subject. The author Ken Forkish is a James Beard award winner author of the book, Flour Water Salt Yeast and also owns three restaurants in Portland Oregon, Ken’s Artisan Bakery, Ken’s Artisan Pizza and Trifecta Tavern. Obviously this guy  knows his stuff.

"The Elements of Pizza" is divided into 7 chapters. The first is titled “The Soul of the Pizza”. This section describes the author’s travels in Italy and how he set out to understand pizza’s history and place in their culture. Next on to Pizza Styles, Eight Details for Great Pizza Crust, Ingredients and Equipment, Methods, Pizza Dough Recipes and Pizza Recipes. In the chapter Pizza Dough Recipes; there are 12 different styles for dough plus one for gluten-free. The recipes are divided into length of refrigerated time. The author explains that time is the critical ingredient, and that also depends on one’s schedule. There are important tips for a great crust such as hydration, time, temperature, climate, mixing and salt. What I found interesting was there was oven time and some broiling time to help get those temperatures up for a great homemade crust.

I would definitely recommend this cookbook to anyone who loves pizza. There is a pizza style for everyone and the directions and tips are very concise. The photography is beautiful and the pictures will help guide you through the steps, you will definitely feel the love.

Soon after receiving this cookbook, we drove to our summer home in Yachats, Oregon. The first week-end there was a Taste of Yachats Forest, Farm and Tide event in town. The Drift Inn which is one of our favorite places to enjoy a great meal had a come make your own wood fired pizza class/event. There were people of all ages which once again proves the fact pizza is a food for all ages.

They taught us how to stretch and press out our dough. I choose to prepare a white pizza; which is no red sauce and just a drizzle of olive oil across the dough. The toppings we selected were slivers of Yukon potato, prosciutto and a little fresh rosemary.

Next I was taught how to cook my pizza on a steel paddle in the wood fired oven. Turning the pizza was not quite as easy as it looks but I gave it my best shot. It’s just like everything else in life I suppose, practise makes perfect. Our pie took minutes to cook and just a few minutes longer to devour, it was amazing. Can’t wait to start making our own at home.

Next time we go to Portland, Oregon we are checking out Ken’s Artisan Pizza restaurant. Can’t wait!

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Cottage Cooking Club and Jamie's Food Revolution

It's time once again for the cottage cooking club to come together and posts our thoughts and experiences for the month. We are a group of international bloggers bound together by our love of fresh seasonal and sustainable recipes from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's cookbooks. Last month we completed two years of cooking along with "River Cottage Veg" and will begin our official start-up  in July with the, "River Cottage Every Day" cookbook. Andrea of the Kitchen Lioness is our wonderful leader and organizer. Each month she will pick one recipe from each of the 10 chapters and then we will choose as many as we have time for.

However this month will be different. Today is Food Revolution Day, an initiative of the Jamie Oliver Foundation. The Food Revolution is a global campaign to improve the health and welfare of children through the food they eat. Part of this process is educating people to make healthier food choices, the more understanding the better choices they will make. Since Andrea is part of the Food Revolution Community, we will be joining them by choosing recipes from "River Cottage Every Day", (our new book) that we individually feel is a must-know recipe. In turn we will share the technique and cooking skill we learned from it.

Our motto for the month of May is Join the food revolution!

The first recipe I prepared was the Seedy Spinach Salad. This was quick to prepare and utterly delicious. First the seeds are pan roasted. I used four kinds of seeds; pumpkin, sesame, poppy and fennel. Then a simple dressing of lemon, olive oil and salt is made. The object of this recipe is to have the seeds stick to the spinach leaves and not all fall to the bottom of the dish. The trick is to first pour half of the dressing on the greens; lightly toss then add half the seeds, then add the rest of the dressing and then the last of the seeds, toss once again. My picture does not do this salad justice, it really is pretty. In this recipe you see that by using seeds or even nuts you can create a satisfying and healthy meal. I need to be more resourceful with the ingredients I have in my pantry.

The second dish I prepared was the Tartiflette toastie, which is a great way to use up leftovers. I prepared Hugh’s meals on toast from the first book with great results and this one was no different. Here bacon slices or ham, cold baked or boiled potato, cream, a slice of cheese and toasted bread are placed in a hot broiler. The cheese will melt and start to bubble, a sure indication of a comforting hot meal. There are so many different ways to prepare this dish, the combinations are endless. Most of us have leftovers. All you need is some kind of vehicle for the ingredients to land on, pizza, pita, English muffins, etc. No need for fast food when you can create satisfying meals like this in your own home.

The third and last dish I prepared was the Asparagus soldiers with a soft boiled egg hollandaise. We all know how wonderful asparagus and eggs taste together but in this recipe the addition of a little butter and cider vinegar can ratchet up the yolks to a creamy almost hollandaise like deliciousness. This was a quick and effortless technique with loads of flavor.

These recipes have been slightly adapted from the "River Cottage Every Day" by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. First recipe; from the chapter "Vegetables Galore” Seedy spinach salad (page 293). Second dish from the chapter "Weekday Lunch (Box)” Tartiflette toastie (page 114). Third recipe; from the chapter “Vegetables Galore” Asparagus soldiers with soft-boiled egg hollandaise (page 254).

To see what recipes the other members chose for this month, head over to the LYL post for May 2016 on the CCC website, by clicking here.

P.S. Back in Oregon will send out a update in a couple of days.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Shakshuka with Chard and Feta

Hope all you Mothers out there had a wonderful day yesterday, I know I did. For brunch I prepared a Shakshuka with chard and feta. Traditionally Shakshuka is a meal of eggs baked in a tomato sauce with peppers and onions. Many times this dish is served with some type of naan or bread but since we are watching our carb intake we enjoyed this dish just like you see in the pictures.

My tomato sauce preparation was very basic with an minimal amount of simmering. Saffron threads, cumin, paprika, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper were added for seasoning. Feta cheese was added at the very end and I served this meal in a bowl with a garnish of parsley. Cilantro would be another great herb to add as well or in place of.

Shakshuka made a wonderful brunch. The flavors were big; a little spicy and a little earthy. When the eggs were broken the richness of the yolk made the sauce creamy and rich. Enjoy with a side of bread, a light salad and fruit.

This dish was inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook “Plenty” and a "New York Times" online recipe by Melissa Clark.


3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion thinly sliced
3 small baby leek stalks, cleaned and thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 small pinch red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon saffron threads
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes and juice,(chop tomatoes before adding to pan)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ to 1 cup water
5 to 6 eggs
1/3 cup feta
Handful of parsley, chopped (optional)
Handful of cilantro, chopped (optional)

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet, (preferably cast iron) add olive oil, onion, red bell pepper and leeks. Cook gently on medium low heat until soft, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Add cumin, paprika, red pepper flakes, saffron, salt and pepper. Stir constantly about a minute. Add tomatoes and juice and simmer about 25 minutes. Depending how thick mixture is add ½ to 1 cup water and mix in. (You want a saucy consistency).

Gently crack eggs into mixture, cover with lid or foil and bake about 5 minutes. Remove from oven, (careful use oven gloves pan is hot) remove covering add cheese and check eggs. Bake for another 2 to 5 minutes depending on how set you like your eggs. Remove from onion, garnish with parsley or cilantro or both. Serve with a side of bread, a light salad and fruit.

*To change things up a bit serve Shakshuka on a creamy bed of grits.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Asparagus, Leek, Poached Tomato and Feta Cheese Frittata Sandwich

Frittatas are an excellent way to showcase seasonal veggies. They can be served warm or at room temperature and for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Serve with fresh fruit or a side of green salad and you have a complete meal.

Preparing a frittata is a great way to clean out the fridge. Almost any combination of vegetables can be used. You will want to cook them first, for example in this recipe the asparagus was lightly grilled. The tomatoes were poached in oil and the leeks were sautéed. There are so many variations of this dish out there, everyone has a favorite.  But one of the most important things I have learned is to add a little whole milk or cream and not to over-cook the eggs.

My husband has fond memories of his Aunt making sandwiches out of leftovers. She would make her own bread; add the egg slice and then a little ketchup. In this version (see picture above) the bread is a multi-grain sourdough that I purchased from Trader Joes and is toasted with a little spread of butter.


1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
6 large eggs
¼ cup whole milk
1/3 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
Cherry tomatoes in poached oil, click here for recipe
1 baby leek, cut down the middle, every stalk rinsed and cleaned, (diced into ¼ slices)
¼ cup feta cheese
1 sprig basil, torn into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350.

To prepare:

Prepare poached tomatoes in oil ahead of time, you will only need 6 or 7 but save the rest, you can use them in so many dishes, they bring so much flavor.

In a medium-sized non-stick skillet over medium-high heat; add olive oil, then add asparagus and leeks, stirring quite often. (you don’t want the leeks to burn). This will take a few minutes, sauté until stalks are crisp tender. Salt and pepper to taste.

Whisk eggs in a medium sized bowl with milk until just frothy. Add to veggie mixture, turn heat down to medium. Gently place tomatoes in the egg mixture. Cook about 4 to 6 minutes shaking pan slightly. Add cheese and place skillet in oven. Bake until center is set about 20 to 25 minutes, Remove from oven and let cool slightly, about 10 to 15 minutes. Garnish with basil. Cut into slices.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Malibu Farm Cookbook

It has always been a dream of mine to own and work on a small farm. We would have a big vegetable garden and flower beds that had flowers so big they would have to be propped up on one side. All the animals would be pets but at the same time have a purpose. Goats for their milk, chickens for their eggs, sheep because they are sweet and friendly.

This is what the Malibu farm cookbook is all about. Helene Henderson a Swedish native came here with $500 to her name and big dreams. She worked in various occupations but in the end found herself working in restaurant kitchens. She met and married her surfer husband who wanted to be near the beach. Together they found a 2 acre piece of land and eventually started gardens, vineyards and bee hives. They also acquired an assortment of farm animals.

Helene eventually opened the Malibu Farm restaurant. It is located at the end of the pier in Malibu, California. Her restaurant has endless views of the Pacific ocean and serves fresh seasonal food. The recipes from her cookbook come from here as well from her catering and private chef jobs. As you page through her cookbook you come across recipes like coconut granola, farm chickpea hummus, broccoli mashed potatoes, shrimp with farro and white beans and various simple cakes. I prepared the rosemary whole wheat olive oil cake that was topped with whipped cream and black berries. The cake was moist and not too sweet. I was surprised how well rosemary and blackberries tasted together. They complimented each other perfectly. It was delicious!

The recipes in this book are easy to make and are Helene’s “tried and True”. Recipes that you would expect coming from the California coast from someone who really cares. The story behind it all is very inspiring. Malibu Farm is an amazing cookbook and would make a wonderful addition to any cookbook collection.

“I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.”

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Cottage Cooking Club Last Month, Three Recipes

It's time once again for the cottage cooking club to come together and posts our thoughts and experiences for the month. We are a group of international blogger's bound together by our love of fresh seasonal veggie dishes from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's cookbook, "River Cottage Veg". Our group is meant to be a project aimed at incorporating more vegetable dishes in our everyday cooking, and is and has been inspired by our dedicated leader Andrea of The Kitchen Lioness. Each month Andrea picks one recipe from each of the 10 chapters and then we pick and choose as many as we have time for. Sadly this is our last month of cooking from this wonderful book as we have completed the 220 recipes in “River Cottage Veg”.

But never fear in May our little group will start two more of Hugh’s books. One is titled "River Cottage Every Day" and the other one is "Love Your Leftovers". Please join us! Our motto for the month of April is: “Last but not least”.

The first recipe I prepared was the roasted potatoes and eggplant. Roasting vegetables in the oven helps them to caramelize just a little and gives them extra flavor. The potatoes were nice and crisp and the eggplant was soft and silky. Garlic was added at the end and roasted 10 more minutes. When removed from the oven the veggies were given a squeeze of lemon. Hugh also recommends freshly grated lemon zest, hot smoked paprika or chopped herbs. I will be preparing this dish often as I loved the combo. Also this was simple and easy to prepare.

The second dish I prepared was the Various rarebits. Welsh Rarebits is a dish of savory cheese sauce served over toast. In this version Hugh had us make a simple béchamel sauce with cheddar cheese. Bay leaf and onion are infused with milk to give the sauce even more flavor. I first toasted the bread then added the sauce, topped one sliced with celery slices that had been sautéed in butter until tender but still crisp. The other slice was prepared with leftover zucchini that I had grilled the night before. I thought the flavor was delicious but both of my toast were a little soggy in the middle. Not sure how everyone else did at this point.

The third and last recipe was Linguine with mint and almond pesto. Here the pesto is made out of toasted almonds, mint, garlic and lemon zest. Notice there is no cheese, the cheese is added as a garnish at the end. The pesto is then given a good squeeze of lemon and a little salt and pepper. This was easy to put together. The cooked pasta is tossed with pesto and half of the tomatoes. The other half is added to the individual serving bowls with the Parmesan cheese shaving when ready to serve. This was light and refreshing. Hugh also recommends using this pesto for salad dressing, just thin with a little olive oil.

These recipes have been slightly adapted from the "River Cottage Veg", by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. First recipe; from the chapter "Roast, grill and broil” Roasted potatoes and eggplant (page 351). Second dish from the chapter "Bready things" Various rarebits (page 209). Third recipe; from the chapter “Pasta and rice” Linguine with mint and almond pesto and tomatoes (page 266).

To see what recipes the other members chose for this month, head over to the LYL post for April 2016 on the CCC website, by clicking here.