Friday, June 1, 2012

Spring Catch-up: Cooking, Just Not Writing

Hello all, thank you so much for your patience! I have been thinking of how much I have to write, but I have no time to do it. The trouble with being a professional writer who has a blog is that paid writing keeps getting in the way of the unpaid writing.

Good news, though, my deadlines have settled down a teensy bit, and I now have some energy to devote to foodie writing, right here!

I have certainly not stopped cooking. I have lots to share, which I will do in a brief list, with lots of recipe links, so that we can all get caught up without my being overwhelmed with how much I have to say.

Here are some of the highlights of the last few weeks:
• a six-day stretch over a weekend where I had overnight company (three different guests, one at a time) five of the six nights. Some highlights from those dinners:
Pear-cranberry tarte-tatin thanks to dee Hobsbawn-Smith's Quick Gourmet, sadly, out of print
Saffron cauliflower, from my new favourite vegetable cookbook, Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
Multi-vegetable paella from the same book
Jamie Oliver's baked chocolate tart (after a meal of grilled steak, Pommes Anna, and grilled asparagus and salad)
• I rediscovered the joys of making things ahead of time, and for a short while, I had a good supply pre-made hamburgers and frozen chocolate chip cookie dough in my freezer. There are a few hamburgers left, but the cookie dough is all gone, the last of it baked to take along to D's preschool windup.
• I have been experimenting with 'cooking by feel', making up recipes and adjusting cooking methods as I go, resulting, most spectacularly, in a meal of brined, cherrywood smoked short ribs, slow roasted by indirect heat on our bbq. I intend to cook like this more often!
• We finished building raised garden beds, and I planted my garden.
• We've been taking advantage of newly available seasonal flavours: we tasted our first homegrown asparagus, picked up some fiddleheads from the Farmers' Market, and I started making use of our perennial herbs, especially chives, lovage and Egyptian walking onions
• I started making whole grain rhubarb muffins regularly, and a rhubarb pie is in the works for tomorrow. Kids are enthusiastic about rhubarb!
• I hosted a Mexican night inspired entirely by
Chicken wings in easy mole sauce
Pork Tostadas with corn salsa
Fish Tacos (made with freshwater burbot from northern Saskatchewan, which is a perfect substitute for firm, white ocean fish)
Mango Salsa
• I hosted a Pampered Chef party, and offered up some yummy dips to go with the pizza we made during the show:
Yellow Split Pea Dip
Homemade Goat Ricotta with Herbs de Provence and garlic
Fiddlehead Dip
And for the sweet tooth, mini gluten-free quinoa cupcakes, using the usual quinoa chocolate cake recipe, but baking it in a mini-cupcake tin. A hit!
• I combined two of my favourite potato recipes (lovage potato salad and potatoes with lemon and capers) to create a new and delicious use for the plentiful lovage in my garden. For those of you not familiar with this old-fashioned herb, it is a shade-loving hardy perennial that has leaves tasting like lemon-scented celery. It is traditionally cooked with potatoes and seafood, but can be used in all kinds of recipes. I added it to my favourite simple potato side dish, and came up with a winner:

Lovage-scented potatoes with lemon and capers

5 or 6 potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled, cut into 3/4" cubes
A large stalk of lovage, leaves removed
Juice and zest of one lemon
2-3 T. olive oil
1 T. capers
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook potatoes in boiling, salted water, along with half of the lovage leaves. Chop remaining lovage leaves and place in a large bowl with the lemon juice and zest, olive oil and capers. When the potatoes are tender, drain and toss hot potatoes and leaves with the lovage/lemon juice mixture until well-coated. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with seafood (I served it with Herb-crusted Ling Cod and steamed broccoli and cauliflower)

• I started planning parties for the summer—now that I am no longer expecting a baby, buying/selling a house, or renovating (some combination of which I have been busy with for the past four years), I am excited to have the time and energy to really get into cooking and entertaining. Our party plans, so far:
-We're having an Indian food night featuring Goat Curry, in an effort to use up some of the goat meat I have obtained from my generous suppliers of goat milk and farm eggs. We're inviting three couples, all of which USED to get together for amazing dinners before we had children.
-Father's Day brunch for my husband, his dad and brother
-A neighbourhood come-and-go open-house brunch for the people on my street
-A food writers' food and wine get-together for some new acquaintances in the food writing world
-Later in the summer, the executive at my preschool will be gathering in my backyard for a 2012/2013 season launch.

More on that later!

There. That gets me more or less caught up. Thanks for your patience, and I'll do better in keeping up with regular posts.

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