Friday, October 24, 2008

Dinner Snapshot - Clams with Bacon and Parsnips

This is my favorite Food and Wine recipe. For those of you who have never eaten a parsnip and are daunted by this vegetable, don't worry! It's a tuber and tastes like a cross between a carrot and a potato. You like carrots and potatoes, right?

Viognier-Steamed Clams with Bacon and Parsnips

1 lb parsnips, peeled
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing
Salt and fresh ground pepper
4 slices thick bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2 inch strips
1 1/2 cups Viognier (any sweet white wine will do)2 tbs unsalted butter
1 shallot, minced
4 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed and rinsed
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbs snipped chives

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
2. Place the parsnips on a baking sheet. Brush all sides with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Roast the parsnips, turning once or twice, until tender, 40-60 minutes. Remove and let cool.
4. Cook the bacon in a large, deep skillet, over a medium high flame until crisp. Drain the bacon
n paper towels and wipe out the skillet.
5. Slice the cooled parsnips 1/4 inch thick.
6. Pour the wine into the skillet. Add the butter and shallot. Bring to a boil.
7. Add the clams, cover, and cook over high until they open, about 8 minutes.
8. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the clams to a large bowl.
9. Pour the clam broth into a glass measuring cup. Rinse out the skillet. Slowly pour the clam
broth back into the skillet, stopping before you reach the grit at the bottom.
10. Add the cream and boil until the liquid has reduced by half, about 8 minutes, stirring frequently to keep the cream from separating.
11. Add the parsnips, bacon, chives, and clams (still in their shells) to the skillet. Season generously with pepper and bring to a boil.
12. Spoon into shallow bowl and serve.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dinner Snapshot - Lentils and Couscous

This is our cat, Tommy. He is obviously not lentils and couscous. If he was to resemble any meal, it would at least be "tom yum"[1].

Lentils with couscous turned out to be a highly unattractive dish to photograph, much like Pam Anderson after Tommy Lee. The first time around.

Anyway, on with the recipe which came about from me staring into the refrigerator and asking myself, “What’s for dinner?” Some leftover bacon, an ever present onion and garlic, and one sad looking carrot later, we had an answer.

Lentils with Couscous

1 bag lentils, washed and picked through for foreign objects
6 slices thick cut bacon, chopped
1 very large yellow onion, diced
7 large cloves of garlic, sliced
1 sad carrot[2], finely diced
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tbs curry powder
1 tsp cumin
Cracked pepper, to taste

Set a crock-pot to high.
In a large skillet over a medium-high flame, cook bacon until starting to go opaque.
Add onion to skillet and sauté until slightly translucent.
Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about one minute.
Dump bacon mixture into the crock-pot and add the carrot, salt, curry powder, cumin, and cracked pepper.
Stir in 3 cups of water.
Set over high for two hours or low for six, adding more water as needed.

Serve over whole wheat couscous.

[1] You see, Tommy is Siamese. As in, from Siam. Tom Yum is a famous Thai dish. Explaining is tiring.
[2] I’m sure a happy carrot would work just as well.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Dinner Snapshot - Seasoned halibut with seasonal vegetables

For the fish:
Halibut (I use about five ounces a person, but we're light eaters)
Potlatch seasoning
Olive Oil

Rub halibut with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Rub potlatch seasoning into both sides. Cook via preferred method (in the winter, I like to just cook it stove top...heat a skilled over a medium-high flame and cook for about ten minutes, flipping once). To serve, slice half an avocado, fan out on a plate, and place fish on top.

For the Vegetables:
Large patty pan squash, chopped and seeds scooped
Corn, removed from cob
Ancho pepper, minced
Jalapeno pepper, minced
Large shallot, minced
Five cloves garlic, minced
Olive Oil
Black Pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 F. In a large bowl, combine all vegetables. Pour a little olive oil over them and stir until well-coated. Season with black pepper and stir again. Cook for 25 minutes or until squash is tender.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Squashing Summer

We weren't quite prepared for the snow to fall so early on Saturday. We weren't very far into our first cup of coffee or GMA when fat white flakes started falling from the sky. This sent us scrambling for the garden to save whatever produce we could.

Tomatoes, green and red alike, were plucked from their vines. Lemongrass was ripped out by the roots. Assorted hot peppers were snipped. All remaining cucumbers, yellow squash, and patty pans were rushed indoors.

While I prepped our bountiful harvest, David worked on saving those plants that weren't quite ready or benefit from the cooler weather. He blanketed the onions and leeks, covered the less hearty herbs in plastic and left the brussel spouts alone to use this cold snap as time develop big heads.

The fall harvest is always met with a sad contentment. Gone are the days of vine-ripe tomatoes and fresh chimichurri sauces. We clean, sort, process and store the fruits (and vegetables) of our labor, savoring one last taste of sweet young onions speckled with dirt, and begin to dream about what we will plant next year.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Austrian Singing Goat

The rare singing goat of Austria, found near Schladming, but now in captivity.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Dinner Snapshot - Highbrow Manwich

This was a dinner that started with smoking chicken breasts in our Bradley smoker. David used pecan wood for 2.5 hours. We froze the whole breasts and just pull out however many we need for dinner.
After defrosting, David put the breasts over a low heat on the grill, misted them frequently with water, and let the breasts warm up. When warm, he shredded the breasts and placed them in a pot with a spicy barbecue sauce.

Half an onion, one red bell pepper and one orange bell pepper were thickly sliced, tossed with some olive oil and brown rice vinegar and then tossed into a grill wok until soft.