Sunday, May 20, 2012

Jam on it! If it is pizza.

Jam on it

Speaking of cleaning out the jam cabinet, have you considered jam on pizza? Like instead of sauce? My friend Miranda suggested it (she's been using fig jam) and dudes IT IS BRILLIANT. The pizza above is apricot-rosemary jam with mascarpone and then lightly dressed arugula once it was out of the oven. I recommend this combination, but I'm also curious: what other jam/cheese/other toppings combo would you guys put together? I was thinking tomato jam plus cheddar would be pretty rad, or a berry jam plus goat cheese, maybe. What do you guys think?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Oatmeal Jam Bars

Oatmeal jam bars

I recently did a little kitchen cabinet inventory and discovered that I may have been a little jam-crazy last summer. I still have five jars of tomato jam, nine (nine!) jars of jalapeno jelly, a few apricot rosemary, four sour cherry (hooray, my favorite!), a rhubarb, a peach, and a few plums. Canning season is just getting underway (I've already pickled some asparagus), and I need to make some space in the cupboard. So I polled twitter about what to do with all that fruity goodness. SO MANY GOOD IDEAS. Cakes and tarts and cookies, oh my! Roving Lemon passed along this recipe, originally from The Pioneer Woman, and since it was the simplest thing I had all the ingredients for, I made them to take to a party last week. They were a hit! Oh, and Adam is looking over my shoulder and suggests that you cut them into 16 smaller bars rather than 12.

Oatmeal Jam Bars
makes 12-16 bars depending on how you cut them
adapted, but not much, from The Pioneer Woman

I used plum jam, but I think the beauty here is that you can use whatever you want or have extra of - strawberry jam this month, peach in July, apple butter in September, woo!

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt (use 1/2 tsp if using fine sea salt or table salt)
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
10-12 ounces jam (I used one full 1/2 pint and a few spoonfuls from another 1/2 pint)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix together the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl, then use your fingers to smush the soft butter in. Cut a strip of parchment paper and use it to line the bottom and two sides of an 8x8 baking pan. Spray the pan with non stick spray.

Put half the oat mixture in the pan and use your hands or a spatula to press it firmly in an even layer. Spread the jam over the oats, then sprinkle the other half of the oats over the jam and use your hands to press it into an even layer. No need to pack quite as firmly here, you don't want to smush the jam to the bottom.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, rotating halfway through, until the top is light golden brown. Let cool in the pan, then use the parchment sling to lift the bars out of the pan (you may need to run a thin knife around the edge). Cut the bars into squares.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Chickpeas. Just chickpeas.

77: Chickpeas

My love for chickpeas is well documented on this site, but I don't know if I've ever written about just plain chickpeas for dinner. It might sound a little crazy, but we like it a lot. It's kind of like soup, but without all those pesky vegetable or chicken getting in the way.

It starts like this: buy the best chickpeas you can find. Soak them for a few hours, or all day while you're at work, or overnight.

When you're ready to cook, slice a shallot or two (or a small onion) and a couple cloves of garlic. Heat a splash of olive oil in your favorite bean pot (mine's a 6 quart enameled cast iron dutch oven that I bought myself when I just started getting into cooking, I love it). Sweat the shallots and garlic until they smell really good. Drain the beans most of the way, and add them to the pot, then add a couple of cups of homemade chicken broth (don't use store bought, the salt content will mess up the texture of your beans) or water, or best yet a combination of broth and water, until the beans are covered by an inch or so of liquid.

Add a bay leaf and some black pepper and if you have a few branches of thyme or oregano or marjoram, add those, too (the leaves will probably fall off, but you can just fish the sticks out later). Bring the pot up to a hard simmer, then back it down to low and let it simmer until the beans are tender. Depending on the age of your beans, this can take up to an hour or longer, but mine are usually done in about 45 minutes. Now you can add salt, a couple of big pinches. Stir the beans and wait a few minutes before you taste them so they can absorb the seasoning. You might need more salt, just add it until the beans taste good. Dish up a bowl full , then grate some good parmiggiano on top and sprinkle with chives or parsley and a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil. Eat with bread.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

30x30: Month Three

92: Ginger bug

Month three? THREE? Already? Geez, 29, why don't you just fly by already?

Ahem. Shall we proceed?

Culinary Projects
Check it out! I'm brewing ginger beer! I followed the instructions in Wild Fermentation (which, despite its terrible cover design, is a really great book, just take it with a grain of hippie salt, mmkay?). Grated ginger and sugar and water kept in a warm place (next to my coffee machine) and given regular feedings (more ginger and sugar) until it started to bubble (which took about a week). Last night I mixed the bug with a larger quantity of ginger/sugar/water mixture, put it up in a few recycled soda bottles and stuck it in a corner of the living room to ferment. It should be ready right around memorial day - dark and stormies for everyone!

Professional Projects
Nothing to report. Sigh. This is going to be the category that gets me in the end, isn't it?

Personal Projects
Still carrying on with Project 365, and now that Instagram is available for Android, I started using that, too. Two more books read, A Dance with Dragons (yay, I'm caught up and now I can move on!) and A Visit from the Goon Squad (a lovely book that you should all read). That brings me up to ten books, which is 30% of my goal. Sweet!

New hamper!

House Stuff
Not-ugly hamper, hello and welcome. Thanks for being so much nicer than white plastic.

Funny story: we put the two ugly white plastic hampers we had been using out on the curb with a sign that said "free," which is what you do in college towns with perfectly good stuff that you don't need anymore. Usually your perfectly good stuff is gone within a couple of hours (I'm pretty sure elves take it). An hour after we put the hampers out, Adam peeked out the window and said yay, they're gone! I said I thought perhaps our elderly, Sicilian land lady Maria had taken them and put them in the basement (she lives upstairs) since, as I mentioned, they're still perfectly good stuff. And elderly Sicilian ladies don't throw away perfectly good stuff. He went downstairs to check and yes. Hampers in the basement. Heh heh heh.

Fitnessy Type Things
Still working on chin ups, still running, still haven't tried a new yoga studio.

New goals met this month: 2
Total goals met so far: 7

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Ropa Vieja

72: Ropa Vieja

Two weeks ago I made this Cuban Style Ropa Vieja from Saveur, and I can't stop thinking about it. I think I'm going to have to make it again.

Oh and PS, I used skirt steak instead of flank steak and it was like $6 less per pound. Just a tip.