Sunday, June 27, 2010

Ode to: Farmers market squash blossom quesadillas

One of my (our) absolute favorite things in San Francisco was going to the Alemany farmers market on sunday mornings (the largest in the city, a five minute walk from our old apartment). A street food neophyte, I'd fallen into a long and expensive rut of eating fancy crepes from these two French guys (it would be funny if I could say French creeps so they would be French creep crepes, but they were nice guys)... until one day their tent was missing, and I was forced to look further afield.

Enter El Huarache Loco and life-changing, home-made tortillas -- literally pressed to order -- and the achingly short squash blossom season (or maybe they were just always sold out). They had really fantastic, even less frequently available, mushroom quesadillas too.

And here we are three (or wow, more like four) years later. The Hillcrest farmers market in San Diego was kind of disappointing at first, but in the last year or so -- I don't know if it's changed dramatically or if I just have a better idea what to look for -- but it has turned into/out to be a remarkably good place to buy food. I particularly love Be Wise ranch, Eben-Haezer eggs, Sage Mountain Farm, Suzie's, Archi's Acres but they're almost all great, lots of cool organic farms represented. Also Spenser Little has a booth there

So last weekend we picked up this small bunch of blossoms, to use with some fresh nopales tortillas (that Kristen had earlier in the week asked me to "hook [her] up with"), avocado (from archi's), salsa, and goat feta (sounds weird but it's not that different from cotija). The squash blossoms were kind of an adventure, apparently this is normal but I realized they were completely covered with ants when we got home... suffice it to say this meal involved significantly more death than they usually do at our house. But oh the result was delicious... if you haven't had them, squash blossoms are pretty much exactly what they sound like, flowers that taste like squash. They quickly cooked down into almost nothingness but the flavor stood up quite well.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Heirloom tomato pesto pizza

I wanted to update my pizza crust recipe because apparently I learned a few tricks since the last time around -- this one turned out so much better: chewy and pretty evenly cooked (though I'm still going to strongly advocate generally for the rosemary + goat cheese + caramelized red onions).

The brilliant innovation came from our neighbor: cook the pizza in a 12" cast iron pan (had been using a cheapo cookie sheet). This forced me to roll out a thicker crust but more importantly kept the pizza from burning on the bottom.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

hardly bartending! ginger beer, dark 'n stormy, and the communist

It seems like we've had a couple of days lately where we wake up, make a semi-elaborate breakfast, ride bikes to the farmer's market for lunch, do shopping for the week in the afternoon, get home just in time to start cooking dinner. Well this Saturday was like that... except with liquids :)

Ginger Beer

We'd both been excited to try making ginger beer after seeing this post on Lottie and Doof recently -- another thing I'd never really considered making. And I'm still not completely sold that the proper way to make it is to make ginger juice and add club soda, but the method seems pretty common on the internet and it sure tastes good.

Ginger is wonderful, curative stuff, but we made a budgetary decision to limit it to 1 pound (down from 2.5), and I'm kind of really glad we did because it is still crazy crazy spicy.

Homemade Ginger Beer

1 pound of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
4 cups of water
1.5 cups of simple syrup (1 cup sugar dissolved in 1 part water). Turbinado syrup turns daiquiris an unappetizing color but it was perfect for this
0.5 cups of fresh squeezed lime juice

Put the ginger and two cups of water in the food processor. Process on high for about 3 minutes, strain the liquid and return the solids to the food processor. Add an additional cup of water, process for another 3 minutes, and strain again. Return the solids to the processor a third time, add a final cup of water, process and strain. At this point you should be left with some totally flavorless cellulosic ginger, and a big bowl of fiery ginger juice (go ahead and taste a big spoonful, it's fun. and by fun I mean shocking). Add the sugar and lime and stir.

Serve with lots of ice and about a 2:1 ratio of club soda to ginger. You can add a little more sugar to taste at this point, but this seemed a pretty good balance to me.

This stuff is great on its own, but two shots of Gosling's dark rum and a slice of lime puts it right over the edge.

The Communist

Another classic mixed drink I learned from Rachel Maddow (It is hilariously difficult to try to search for this on Google; lots of hits for "rachel maddow communist"). It's been on my to-try list for a while, and when I finally saw Cherry Heering at BevMo I could not resist.

Pretty ain't it?

The Communist
1 shot gin
1 shot orange juice
1/2 - 3/4 shot of lemon juice
1/2 shot of Cherry Heering

Shaken with ice and served up

For me, the cherry and lemon juice are the stars. I was worried it would be sweet with the syrupy liquer and orange juice, but thankfully it balanced out quite well, though the gin is maybe not quite as prominent as I'd like. Definitely one I'd make again.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sam's avocado grapefruit mango salad

There is only one thing I miss about having cable and his name is Sam the Cooking Guy. This is from the avocado episode and the first time we made it, it was pretty much the best salad I'd ever had (also I like that picture a little better). This time I made some mistakes, but you dear reader can benefit from them!

Kristen bought five perfect avocados from the farmers market over memorial day weekend. This was the semi-creative thing we came up with for one of them; most of the others ended up in a huge batch of guacamole (uncreative but delicious)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Peel bananas, peel peel bananas

1 ingredient ice cream! We saw it on Thirty bucks a week, but apparently this is what all the cool bloggers are doing. Two bananas frozen, then food processed until they're completely smooth, then allowed to refreeze for at least 10 minutes. I loved it, Kristen characteristically thought it was too sweet. And I was like "It's a banana!"