Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Please Join Rosie In Her April Garden.

Welcome to Rosie's Garden.
Yellow and orange California poppies.
Purple irises.

More irises.

Yellow iris.

Bearded iris.

Red Flanders poppy.
Papaver rhoeas.

 I love spring.
So much going on in the garden.
New tulips up here.

This is Lunaria.
Money plant.
Honesty plant. 
Silver dollar plant, so named for the seed pods.

Oxalis (shamrock), parsley, and money plant.

Love the colors.
Orange poppies.
Purple irises. 

 I love my red poppies.

Split trunk of the Leyland Cypress in my front yard.
Lost it during Hurricane Matthew last fall. 


 Irises and poppies. 

 And then I found this pretty little columbine.

Bachelor button.
Centaurea cyanus.
Blue cornflower.
And then, the Hawthornes left home for a quick road trip.
This was the scene at Jockey's Ridge State Park.

Shot on the fly.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Strawberry Pie.

  It's strawberry time at the Malco Farm in Point Harbor right over the bridge.
We've been picking strawberries there for years and look forward to these berries every year.

Daughter Hawthorne was home this weekend(!)  She and her friends went a-pickin' and brought me a big box of beautiful berries.
I immediately set about to make my all time favorite strawberry pie.

Usually when I cook something and write about it,
I take step-by-step photographs for the how-tos and what-fors.
And I always try to get the money shot.
Didn't do that this time.

 This time, I only have the last piece of the pie.
And that's it right up there.


 That's how good this pie is.
It was eaten that quickly.

You deserve the recipe for Strawberry Pie.
And I'm giving it to you.

You can use a store-bought crust, but I made my own crust.
By the way, if you use store-bought crusts, buy the refrigerated ones that come rolled up two to a box.  Do not buy the frozen ones.  They'll crack in the freezer and they're not as deep as the refrigerated ones. 

The pie dough recipe makes enough for 2-3 pies, depending on their deep-dishedness.
You could also use the additional dough to make individual quiches, galettes (which is a free-form pie, either sweet or savory), little tartlets, cheese sticks, and all sorts of things.  Sounds like another post for the blog, another chapter for the book.

Here's the recipe for the pie crust dough.
I never met Craig Calhoun or his grandmother, but Craig was a friend of a friend of mine from another lifetime.  I have the friend's recipe in his own handwriting in my "Dessert" binder.

Craig Calhoun's Grandmother's Foolproof Pie Crust

4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 TB sugar
1 1/2 cups Crisco

Combine flour, salt, and sugar.  Cut in Crisco, a bit at a time, until you get a crumbly meal.

(Whenever I make a pie dough, I like to have different sized crumbles.)

1 egg
1 TB cider vinegar
1/2 cup water

Whisk egg, vinegar, and water.
Add to dry ingredients.
Combine and work into a cohesive ball.
Form into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Cut off enough of the pie dough for one crust.
Wrap remaining dough in plastic and refrigerate until another use - within 2-3 days.

Strawberry Pie
1 pie crust, cooked

Roll out above dough approximately 1/8 inch thick.
Spread out in pie pan, pressing.
Prick dough with fork.
Bake at 375° for about 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Let cool.

Pie Filling
1 quart just picked strawberries from Malco Strawberry Fields in Point Harbor
Reserve about two dozen or more choice strawberries.
Wash and hull berries.

1 cup sugar
2 TB cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1 TB unsalted butter

4 ounces cream cheese

Purée quart of strawberries.  Pour purée into saucepan.  Heat to a boil.  Add in sugar.  Combine water and cornstarch and add to strawberry/sugar mixture.  Cook, bubbling slowly, over medium heat for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat and add butter.  Let cool a bit.

In a food processor or by hand, mix cream cheese and about 2 tablespoons of the strawberry mixture until smooth.  Evenly spread cream cheese mixture over baked and cooled pie crust.  Arrange the 2 dozen or so reserved berries, sticking bottoms into the cream cheese base.  Pour the cooled strawberry glaze mixture over top.  Chill.

If you have any leftover strawberry mixture, save it for breakfast tomorrow.  Great on toast!  Or oatmeal!  Or tapioca pudding!  Or fingers!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Homage To Spring.

This is Rosie's Homage to Spring.

 Welcome, Spring.

 I embrace you in all your greenness.

 Here's what's for lunch.
Seared scallops.
Green bamboo rice with asparagus I picked from the garden this morning, some green peas which I picked from the freezer, a sprinkling of lime zest, mint, and parsley
Toasted pistachios.
Reduction of juice of assorted oranges and some soy sauce, a splash of Cabernet Sauvignon.

 Let's start with the reduction.
That's where the time factor comes in.
The rice can be pulled together in 30-40 minutes.
The scallops are a quick flash in the pan.

For the reduction:
I had several types of oranges in the fruit bowl, so I picked out an assortment.  Squeeze out a cup or so of fresh juice.  Pour in about 1/4 cup of Tamari (soy sauce).  Splash in some Cabernet Sauvignon. Reduce by half or more slooooooowllllllly.

Here's how to reduce:
I poured the liquid into my small Revereware sauce pan.  
I placed the sauce pan in my little cast iron pan and set the flame on LOW.
The cast iron pan serves to diffuse the heat.
Trust me.  A reduction can go from syrupy golden goodness to a burned mess in a heartbeat.
The key is to dissipate the heat and let it barely simmer until reduced by at least half. 
Taste it as you go along.  The flavors will continue to concentrate.

 Next, I got my rice ready.
And mind you.  I have very special rice.
The Hawthornes always like to check out new restaurants and new businesses and we had the pleasure of venturing North to Duck a week or so ago to a new enterprise - The Spice and Tea Exchange in Scarborough Lane Shoppes.  Proprietors are Terry Bell and Megan Scott.

The Hawthornes visited and came back with a bag of assorted spice blends which I will be employing soon.  We were encouraged by our engaging salesperson, Sharon, to open the jars, get a good whiff of the contents, and then we decided on our purchases.
We came back with packets of a Spicy Tuna Rub Spice Blend, a Korean BBQ Rub Spice Blend, a Tuscany Spice Blend, Alderwood Smoked Sea Salt, Szechuan Pepper Berry, and something called Grains of Paradise.
Terry Bell & Megan Scott
Terry Bell & Megan Scott

And then I looked around the shop and I saw this:

 I'd never seen green rice before.
This is Bamboo Green Rice.
It's a short grain rice infused with bamboo juice.
And it's green.
So I had to have it.
 For the Green Rice:
I cooked the rice according to package directions.
One part rice to two parts water.  Add a pinch or so of kosher salt.
Bring it to a boil, lower to nothing, cover, and barely simmer for about 15 minutes.
Throw in some chopped asparagus you picked a few minutes ago in your garden.  Pour in some green peas you found languishing on the back of the third shelf in your freezer.  Give it a zesting of lime.  Cover.  Over bare heat for maybe five minutes.  Turn off and let it sit for about five minutes.  Add a plug of unsalted butter.

When you plate the rice, be sure to drift some fresh parsley and mint around.

 Did I mention the toasted pistachios?

For the pistachios:
I did more than toast.  I sautéed them in some unsalted butter over medium high heat, tossing until fragrant and even nuttier.  Blot on paper towels.  Cool.  Crush a bit for sprinkling, later.
 For the scallops:
I used 1/2 pound of scallops.

Prepare the scallops by removing that tough, rubbery little foot on the side.
Rinse, drain, and dry with paper towels.
I season with nothing but freshly ground pepper.
Heat a tablespoon each of peanut oil and unsalted butter over medium high heat until butter is fizzly-sizzly. 
Add in scallops, one at a time, not touching.
These were mostly large scallops, so I gave them about 75-90 seconds each side.  Remove and blot dry. 
Take the scallops and sorta squish 'em in the crushed toasted pistachios.
Then serve in a green nest of bamboo rice.

And there you have it!