Monday, August 20, 2012

Market Basket Stir Fry – there’s fiber in the fridge

We’re gonna be regular up in here yo! After a fun road trip through Maryland’s eastern shore yesterday that involved a stop at a Holly’s Restaurant for brunch, a fabulous cookout at my Aunt and Uncle’s farm, and a sublime delmonico steak at Theo’s in St. Michael’s, I’m glad I spent Saturday using my CSA delivery to cook some healthy and well, high-fiber vegetables.

Admittedly it takes time to get everything chopped, but then the cooking is quick and the whole market basket is done and you have time for a road trip. My family had a nice visit to Windswept Farm, keeping cool in the pond, cooking out, playing songs and looking up lyrics on iPhone : )














When we got home Sunday night, I was happy to know I had all of this prep and cooking done! I had tons of peppers and chiles, baby carrots, onions, celery, and of course squash.

I’ve learned that some of the squash coming from the farm is tougher than the others, so I chop those smaller, and start them cooking earlier to try to get everything to come out at the right doneness. The small bowl on the right has the yellow squash that needs more cooking time and the rest of the squash is next to it. Then I got cooking.



Summer Stir Fry

Prep Time: 50 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

I used the vegetables I had on hand, but of course substitute in your favorites. I wish I'd had mushrooms on hand.


- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, sliced on bias
- 2 zucchini or yellow squash, halved and sliced
- 2 cups mild peppers and bell peppers, chopped and julienned
- 1 carrot, julienned or 6-8 baby carrots, quartered
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 Tbsp sesame oil
- 1/3 cup sherry
- 2-3 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1/3 cup picked cilantro or julienned basil
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar or Ideal (optional)
- 1/4 cup peanuts, chopped (optional)


- heat 1 Tbsp sesame oil over medium high heat and add onion, celery, and I added tougher squash; cook 2-3 minutes
- make a well in the bottom of the wok or pan and add another Tbsp of oil, then garlic
- allow garlic to cook 10 seconds and then add remaining vegetables, stir everything and cover
- you can add a couple Tbsp of water and and/or lower heat of vegetables are scorching before cooking through
- add sherry and soy sauce; continue cooking 3-4 minutes until vegetables are tender but crisp and the sauce has reduced
- finish with sugar or Ideal, peanuts and herbs


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cute Cutlery

whew. Terembry Farms has been agrowin and growin some vegetables so I’ve been so busy cooking today, the post and recipes will have to happen over the next few days. In the meantime we’re finally taking the plunge on some new stainless flatware. A glance into our current utensil drawer is a flashback to college apartment living. Mixed up old stuff that was even more mashed together when I moved myself and my stuff in here.

Considering I actually had a dream in which I met Kate Spade, it’s not shocking that my favorite stainless pattern wound up being a Kate Spade pattern! Nice right?

I actually searched and searched online for a pattern I liked that is manufactured in the US, but I didn’t find anything I particularly liked. When I found one I was at least luke-warm on, there were some issues with having to order larger quantities, so I eventually just went with my fav. I like the simple, contemporary shape, but with a little ‘organic’ touch with the little vine.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Shortcut Homemade Tomato Sauce

I had some spaghetti squash, and more tomatoes than I could eat in salads and on sandwiches, so making sauce seemed an obvious solution. But I didn’t have a enough for a big batch, and I was feeling too lazy to do the whole business of blanching and peeling tomatoes so I decided to make it with diced fresh tomatoes, skins, seeds and all. It worked! And wound up really even tastier than I expected. I’ll be making it again in September when it’s all tomatoes all the time around here.

I definitely think the addition of baby carrots and celery sautéing in good olive oil, and then the addition of red wine and orange zest made the sauce special.


Shortcut Homemade Tomato Sauce

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Skip the seeding and peeling and just give the tomatoes a fine chop for a quick tomato sauce


2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup carrot, small dice
1 stalk celery
3 - 4 medium to large tomatoes, finely chopped, saving water
2 Tbsp good olive oil
zest of 1 orange
1/3 cup red wine
salt and pepper to taste


- saute carrot and celery in olive oil over medium high heat until softened
- add garlic and sauté 20 seconds
- add tomatoes, zest and wine and heat until simmering
- season, lower heat, cover and cook for 20 - 30 minutes

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Foodishness 15 August, Cheers

I miss Europe. Aside from the metric system, another very logical thing I like about Europe is that they do their dates in a hierarchy. So you get the day date, then the month, then the year. Smallest unit to largest. It makes sense. I like it.

European food makes sense to me too, and miss that too. Julia Child said ‘If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.’ She also asked ‘How can a country be called great if its bread tastes like kleenex?’ Right.

I got to help cook for and attend Julia Child’s 90th birthday when her Cambridge home kitchen (exhibit reopened!) was moved into the Smithsonian Museum and she flatly rejected some leaden ‘death by chocolate’ mess for dessert and demanded a piece of Mark Ramsdell’s classic cake. She spoke her mind and did good food and good humor. I miss you like I miss European butter, bread and valedictions.

Cheers Julia!


Monday, August 13, 2012

Must. Cook. Squash.

Saturday continued to not be one of those smooth days. With my website comment finally gracing cyberspace I moved on to tackling some squash taking over the produce basket in my fridge. I’ve been getting these lovely bumpy, crook-neck squash from the farm. I first dice the necks and then move onto the bodies which I quarter and then cut and scrape some of the seeds out. I feel like an indulgent over nourished American when I do that – I mean I don’t even compost any of the stuff I’m discarding. But I’m working on it. I’ll be composting at some point. My transformation to self-sustaining, fashion forward country girl isn’t going to happen overnight, so I’ll just have to feel guilty about it for now.




Ok, so the squash chopping went along fine. I picked up a jalapeño from another growing produce collection when I suddenly had a moment of reason. Aha! I thought. I should go switch from my glasses to my contact lenses before I use my bare hands to chop this chile. So I did. Then I chopped the jalapeño, got the squash sautéing, and put some other things in motion when I realized I really couldn’t see much or very well. I had only one contact in and unless I kept my right, contactless eye shut, I was quite woppy-jawed. So I washed my hands three times and put a lense in which, of course, caused a searing chemical burn in my eye. So whilst my squash was getting extra crispy I flailed like a maniac to get the offending contact out of my eye. The frittata didn’t wind up tasting burnt somehow : )

When I finally dislodged it and flooded my eye with 8 gallons of water I somehow felt that I must continue with the simultaneous sautéing and contact wearing. I’m not sure why I was so driven to do so, but I soldiered on. At least I wised up and washed my hands twice with lava soap. I learned about lava soap from the art school kids in college. And it is good stuff. I broke out a new contact lens and got that one in with minimal burning to the eye and the squash.

Then I made frittatas that turned out really well using light Laughing Cow cheese which is a trick I’ve picked up from a Hungry Girl interview where she talked about how versatile and light it is, and she’s right. It’s very soft cheese and it sticks to your fingers if you try to crumble it, so I cubed it and sprinkled over the frittata.





Summer Squash Frittata

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes


2 zucchini or yellow squash
1/2 jalapeño, diced
8 eggs beaten or 2 cups egg substitute
2 wedges Laughing Cow cheese, cut into chunks (I used Light Garlic & Herb)
cooking spray or 1 Tbsp olive oil
Basil, parsley, salt and pepper to taste


- preheat oven to 350 degrees; put in your contact lenses
- saute squash and jalapeño over medium high until softened, season with salt and pepper
- add herbs and salt and pepper to eggs and pour over top of squash
- sprinkle cheese chunks over top
- leave on the stove for a minute or two then drop into the oven 10 - 15 minutes or until eggs are set in the middle
- invert onto a place and cut into wedges


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Commenting on Blogpost

Some days I do things smoothly and it’s all good. This is not one of those days. To start, it took me an eternity to comment on a bloodspot blog

It took me an eternity when I first tried to do that a few months ago and I could swear I made notes about how I finally prevailed, but the notes eluded me this morning. So here are new notes, this time recorded on the internet. According to google and yahoo searches, commenting on blogspot is a real, pervasive jabbing pain in the ass, so hopefully this will help you too if you happen to have a similar arrangement.

Even if you have a WordPress account, that option won’t work. Nor will the Open ID option in the drop-down; blogspot won’t authenticate your url. Mean blogspot. I don’t feel validated. But I had to dust off my insecure self and march on, so then I chose the google option and signed into an old gmail account which I did begrudgingly because I wanted to post as chefinista of course. But ta da! It seemed to work out and display my chefinista link along with my comment. I believe because I had a tab open where I was signed into chefinista on WordPress. Or that’s my guess.

So next time I try to comment on Blogspot I am going to do the following. Give it try.

1. Open a tab and sign into WordPress

2. In another tab find a cool website in need of my elaboration

3. Type comment, select Google from the ‘Comment as: Select Profile’ drop down menu

4. Sign into gmail the Blogpost pulls up and then publish the comment


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Eggplant and Tomatoes: The Persian Version

I didn’t intend to make this blog adhere to seasonality. Of course I knew it would happen naturally to some degree, but with the CSA, farmers’ markets, generous donations from friends’ gardens and my own handsome brood of herbs, I find myself neck high in and prattling on about summer vegetables.

Naturally I’ve made ratatouille and the tarts, but I’ve got one old favorite recipe I love to make this time of year (and one new (new to me at least) – stay tuned). The old one is something I’ve learned through some family, by interrogating my Iranian friends’ mothers, and the rest by trying a hundred variations of the recipes I found in a couple of Persian cookbooks that were gifted to my parents when I was a kid.

This book is a favorite that my Aunt Tamineh gave them. See?

Technically she’s my great aunt; from Dad’s, the Iranian-ish side of the family. Mom’s side of my family is Irish. But that side is still almost fully saturated Irish blood, and ‘Irish’ has an inherent ‘ish,’ which makes saying someone is Irish-ish quite silly unless their supposed Irishness is so totally marginal that they should be arrested for trying to pick up chicks with dragon beer breath and a ‘Kiss me I’m Irish’ button on St. Patrick’s Day. If you’re going to do that kind of thing you should be enough Irish or a celebrity chef. Mom’s family – most need SPF in partial shade  and are BFFs with the Catholic Church, so I just go ahead and call them Irish.

Anyway here is the book. It was first published in 1960, almost 20 years before the Iranian revolution. As a little girl in DC I remember fun parties at the Iranian embassy. There was actually a nice exchange of Near East recipes with American moms and good relations until Khomeini blew that up. Afterwards my friend Gina and I would play tetherball in the backyard pretending the ball was Khomeini’s head when we really wanted to pull a John McEnroe on it.

I have been asked about Persian food being spicy. There’s nothing spicy about it. I have no idea where folks get that idea, other than I think they mix up ‘I’ countries like Iran, Iraq and India. Persian food is really balanced with fresh herbs and mellow spices, often highlighted by saffron, and punctuated by service of the best. damn. rice. ever.

In the interest of cholesterol reduction and waist whittling, I often make it with chicken (and sub on the butter and shortening) – and the truth is, the light balance of lemon with tomato and an undetectable addition of cinnamon is a beautiful and different way to cook chicken. But the recipe is fabulous, and more traditionally made with beef or lamb. Vida, an almost mother-in-law from a college boyfriend told me about when she grew up in Iran… the lamb had been out eating wild herbs in the country. It sounded sublime the way she looked off wistfully as she mentioned it. When I make lamb I’ll sometimes marinate the cubes in random herbs so I can fantasize that I’m having such an Iranian lamb.

So use whatever suits you to cook up your summer eggplants and tomatoes Persian style and enjoy a dish with fabulous history : )


Khoreshe Bademjan or Stew with Eggplant

Yield: 5-6 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

a classic recipe from In a Persian Kitchen by Maideh Mazda, with many thanks and lots of love to Aunt Tamineh


2 medium eggplants, cut into 1" slices
2 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp butter
1 (up to 1.5) lbs stew beef, lamb or chicken cut into 1" pieces
1 medium onion, small dice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
6 Tbsp shortening
1 1/4 cups tomato sauce (the kind in the can works)
1 3/4 cups water
3-4 Tbsp lemon juice
1 large tomato, chopped (optional)


- sprinkle eggplant slices with salt and allow to stand 20 minutes (believed to remove some bitterness in the eggplant)
- melt butter in 3-quart pot and saute onion, meat and seasonings
- add tomato sauce, water, lemon juice and let simmer 35 minutes on low heat
- in the meantime, rinse off the eggplant and dice
- fry the eggplant in batches in the shortening and 15 minutes before serving, add to the meat mixture (for a lighter version I toss with olive oil and roast in the oven and add it earlier)
- serve with Persian saffron rice if you can, barley and wild rice pilaf if you need fiber
Nush-e Jan!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

liver loophole

I’ll never understand some of the food bans and regulations in this country that favor highly industrialized processing of animals and outlaws traditional and raw food creation and preparation. You barely need to go half a mile from any point in our fair land to score a carton of cigarettes with mystery chemical-laced tobacco, but we have to go underground to get a gallon of raw cow’s milk.

But there are those who find dairy farmers for their raw milk and cheese and there is one guy who has found a way to serve foie gras in California in spite of their ban on the luscious duck liver! Apparently, according to this article, if you’re technically giving the foie away then there’s a way to serve it.

Thus was born the ‘Shut the Duck Up Burger’ from Jason Quinn at The Playground restaurant. Double rib-eye cheeseburgers with seared foie on top. Duck yeah!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Cool OCD Cutting Board System

If you ever need to have open heart surgery, I suggest you have it in my parents’ dining room. Or any other part of their house which will be equally ordered, cleansed and sanitized. My parents’ house is truly one of the cleanest places in the solar system, and I orbited through that corner of it just the other day when I learned a new, nifty little trick from Mom.

But first, exhibit A. Here is the set-up for a crab feast at my parents’ house… if you are not from the mid-Atlantic US then you may not know that a crab feast is a lengthy, sticky, salty and smarmy affair with beer spillage and crab guts everywhere… This, in other words, is totally inappropriate.

Ok, back to how you, I and other mortals can keep things clean and easy… For all of the efficiencies and speed I’ve learned in commercial kitchens, this new simple move from Mom really works without lots of wiping down, rinsing and dirtying towels. Great system Reenie!

All you do is use a small cutting board next to your main cutting board. The small one for onions, garlic, shallots, topping and tailing squash etc – anything that soils and screws up your board, you do on the small one. Then without having to continually wipe down your main board, you just move things over to it – all nice and clean – once you done the dirty work of removing root ends, peeling and putzing. Sorry for the crumb on the counter. This pic is from back at my house. sugh, nice and clean, but no operating room.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Smokey Sweet Potato Soup

My mother-in-law makes a delicious sweet potato soup that gets a wonderful smokiness to it from the sausage she sautés  for it. I’ve wanted to mimic it with a vegetarian version, so the last time the smoker was going, we threw some sweet potatoes on there.

They look kind of dreadful and burnt coming off the smoker, but once you get inside, there’s nice soft, smokey potato goodness in there. From there it’s easy to make any variety of soups.


Smokey Sweet Potato Soup

Prep Time: 15 minutes


5 medium sweet potatoes, rinsed
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup white wine
6 cups vegetable stock
peach hot sauce to taste (or other fruity, sweeter hot sauce; or hot sauce plus some honey)
1-2 cups heavy cream to taste (optional)
2-3 Tbsp butter
salt and cayenne pepper to taste
maybe a little brown sugar


- smoke potatoes 1 - 1 1/2 hours until cooked through; when cooled, peal and dice
- saute onion in olive oil until translucent
- add garlic and allow to sweat 10-15 seconds
- add wine and allow to reduce by half
- add stock, potatoes some salt and cayenne and simmer 15-20 minutes until flavors come together
- transfer half of the potatoes and some stock to a blender to puree, and then return to the pot
- stir in cream and butter and finish with hot sauce