a new season, a new adventure!

Enough of not writing on annarbivore. I used to love posting things and now I can’t ever seem to make the time. Now that there’s a chill in the air, I want to be cooking things more and baking more. So join me! I’m embarking on a new culinary adventure!
I love cookbooks something fierce and when I buy a new one, I pore over it, imagining all of the wonderful meals I am going to make. And then reality sets in and I choose about three recipes out of it to go into my standard rotation and then that’s about it.
I don’t want that to keep happening. So, I’ve decided I’m going to try going through a cookbook over the course of a year. I’m keeping it simple this time with Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible. Why did I choose The Bread Bible, you ask? I want to make bread. I want to knead dough with my hands, I want the smell of baking bread filling my house, I want to get closer to some very basic nourishment. And, have you looked through that book? There are some amazing recipes in there.
According to my math, I need to make one recipe every four days or so. That’s a lot of bread-y goodness. I’m working out my rules right now. Do I need rules? For me, yes. I’ll get those posted soon. (And you know me. I’ll be on that). Karl has suggested I begin on November 5, for no other reason than he likes saying, “Remember, remember the fifth of November.” To humor him, I said I’ll start then. 

it’s time.

spring is in the air and dang it, I’m ready to blog again. Has the Daring Kitchen kicked me out yet? I hope not because there has been some pretty delicious looking food coming out of the Daring Bakers and Daring Cooks flickr groups.

the october daring cook challenge – vietnamese chicken pho

The Daring Cook challenge this month was pho. And for those of you who are not sufficiently schooled, the correct pronunciation is “fuh” – yeah, I didn’t know that either until this month’s challenge. Now we both know.

I have *always* wanted to try pho. Friends of mine rave about it, but for whatever reason, I haven’t had it. So when I saw this month’s challenge, I think I may have let out one or two squeals of delight. And it did not disappoint. There was tons of ginger simmered in the broth, along with coriander seeds, star anise (which my daughter loved smelling), and whole cloves. The broth itself was super simple to make. The host of this month’s challenge, Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen, gave us the option of a quick broth and broth from scratch. Guess which one I chose. Next time, broth from scratch. Next time.

Essentially, pho is like the best chicken soup you will have eaten. I know it can be made with beef or all other kinds of goodness, but I love the idea of a chicken soup with a deeply gingery broth. What better kind of soup to eat when you are sick? Or when you are well, actually. Anyways, imagine a ginger chicken broth, then add long rice noodles, big hunks of shredded chicken, then add-ons of cilantro, red onion (from my CSA share!), chile slices (also from my CSA share!), lime, and sprouts. The recipe called for bean sprouts, but when I went to the market to get some, they all looked so very sad, as if they had been there for a very long time without being cared for. I ended up with a clamshell of radish sprouts. I think that was a good choice. Not quite the same tooth as the bean sprouts, but with the spiciness of a radish. I recommend. Ah! Who could forget the sriracha sauce.

pho accompaniments

So I present to you the pho. It was lovely. I will eat this all the time. Or at least once a month.

pho

And because my husband is so awesome, he made a video of me making the pho. Or at least assembling it. And isn’t that music awesome.

As a special treat, Jaden presented us with a second challenge: making a dessert to go with the pho. Chocolate wontons. Or something sweet in there. Because I am a by the books kind of cook, I went with the chocolate version, folding the wonton wrappers onto big chunks of chocolate. These were yummy, but it took me a while to perfect the folding. With the ones shaped like triangles, I didn’t press out enough air, so they were puffy. The puffy bits were ended up just being very very crunchy. When I finally didn’t care anymore, I just folded the wonton around the chocolate like an envelope and fried it like that. Those were the best, when it came down to it. We ate them lightly dusted with powdered sugar. Yummy. Did I already say that? I meant it. By the way, next time, I’ll actually have a thermometer when I fry things.

chocolate wontons

the box – september 23

sept 23

Our share from Our Family Farm: a huge bunch of broccoli, a head of lettuce, six hot hot hot jalapenos, a handful of banana peppers, three eating peppers (two a gorgeous purple, one a deep red), a smallish butternut squash, one very long and skinny eggplant (chosen by the girl), two quarts of potatoes, three onions, a dozen eggs, and yay! our first taste of Farmer John’s honey.

I’m excited to take Farmer John up on his offer of checking out his apiary. When I talked to him about beekeeping, he recommended a book to me and told me after I had read it, he would be more than happy to take me out to his hives and show me what’s all involved.

you say ann arborvore, I say ann arbivore …

Looks like I (Karl, actually) had a pretty good idea going with my blog name.

Concentrate has picked it up and ran with it: How to be an Ann Arborvore. A good article, except they didn’t mention my blog. A tiny oversight on their part.

the september daring cook challenge – vegan dosas

My first month as a daring cook! I’ve seen references to the daring kitchen on various food blogs, but never really went so far as to actually see what it was all about. When a Michigan Lady Food Blogger mentioned it, I decided I would actually see what it was. Turns out it’s this really great online community of people who challenge themselves each month with a new recipe – a recipe they probably wouldn’t make on their own without being “dared” to do it. There is both a daring cook and a daring baker group – I joined both. All kinds of rules govern the group, such as how closely you must follow the recipe, when you can share the results with the world, and such, but really, it sounded like a fun thing to do. And how hard could it be to do? Except here I am, the night before the big monthly reveal, gathering the ingredients together and preparing the meal. Typical.

For September’s Daring Cooks challenge: dosas with curried garbanzo filling and coconut curry sauce. Wow. The host for this month’s challenge is a vegan (or at least writes a blog about eating vegan) and so the food was vegan. I had to go on the hunt for the almond milk and the spelt flour used, but really, everything else was pretty familiar. I did buy a coconut, husk and all, since I didn’t think sweetened coconut would really do the trick.

dosa ingredients

Some of that food is from our CSA share – those tomatoes, the peppers, the cucumber, the onions (that didn’t make the shot). Next time I’m at the farmers market, remind me to buy some carrots.

The host offered the helpful hint that this was going to take some time to make, but ever the daring cook, I disregarded that and started making dinner at about 6:30. Even with Karl taking over the making of the coconut curry sauce and the garnishes, we still didn’t sit down to eat until 8:00. The kids ate plenty of Pirate Booty and cucumbers while they were waiting.

dosas

Was the end result worth it? Most resoundingly, yes. Delicious aromas of cumin, garlic, onion, and curry powder filled our kitchen.  The food, when wrapped it up, looked uncannily like enchiladas and they actually tasted a little like it, too. I was expecting more savory crepe and ended up with tasty enchilada. Strange. Neither of the kids wanted anything to do with it at first, but after some cajoling, both of them happily ate up their tiny rolled up dosas, complete with coconut garnish. In the future (or if you are someone contemplating making this recipe), I would cut back the salt with everything. A tablespoon of salt in the curried garbanzo filling was about two teaspoons too much. The coconut curry sauce was lovely, creamy and sweet with the taste of coconut milk. Even that could have stood to have a little less salt, though. We were scooping up bits of that with the last of the dosas, though. Score one for the Daring Cooks (and for me and Karl). I can’t wait for the Daring Chefs September reveal!

summer squash risotto with crispy fried sage and parmesan

Oh, what to do with loads and loads of summer squash. I have had a pretty steady supply of patty pan squash, yellow summer squash, and zucchini from Farmer John. There’s only so much zucchini bread you can make (although I think we’re making a couple more loaves tonight). I came across this recipe from Tyler Florence’s Dinner at My Place – a cookbook with lots of great recipes. When I saw how much squash it used up, I knew this was a recipe for us. The thing is, though, I don’t really like risotto. I’ve made it a couple times and haven’t ever liked it. I’ve eaten other people’s risotto and haven’t ever liked it. As I was stirring the big pot of rice in my dutch oven last night, I kept thinking to myself: Self, why are you making this? This is a lot of risotto and you don’t like risotto. And you’ve got a lot of squash roasting in the oven right now. Do you even like roasted squash? Is anyone going to like this meal? Will the kids eat any of it?

Yep, I was thinking all of those things in a super hot kitchen, cooking a meal I thought I was sure to not like. The thing is, I actually *did* like it. And I think everyone else did. Ava asked for more cheesy rice and “stuff on top.” That was good, considering when we put the plate in front of her, she did not want anything to do with it. Jack didn’t eat any of the risotto, but he did eat a lot of broccoli.

I’ve decided risotto is a food with complicated flavors. You just have to be able to appreciate them. The crispy sage on top is a must. I didn’t think it would be, but it is. The roasted squash was sweet and caramelized a bit. And the risotto was smooth with the tastes of wine and cheese. We also ate the broccoli from yesterday’s CSA share. All in all, a good meal, especially if you want to get rid of a *lot* of squash.

risotto

tyler florence’s summer squash risotto with crispy fried sage and parmesan

  • 4 summer squash
  • 4 zucchini
  • 6 pattypan squash
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1/4 bunch fresh thyme sprigs, leaves only
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch fresh sage sprigs, leaves only
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 750-milliliter bottle dry white wine
  • 2 quarts reduced sodium vegetable broth (I ended up using only about 1 1/2 quarts)
  • 1/2 stick butter, cut into thirds
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut squash, zucchini, and pattypan squash into circles and slice onion. Set out on a roasting tray and scatter with thyme leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown and fragrant. (and this is where I need to add in my own note: what? 15-20 minutes? I had to roast the squash for at least 40 minutes. Maybe if the oven were hotter? But definitely longer than 15-20 minutes. I guess let your nose guide you. This is something I have had to learn about cooking. So much can be learned by just smelling and tasting. Funny I had to learn that).

While the vegetables roast, start the risotto. Set a large, heavy-based pot over medium heat. Pour about 3 tablespoons of olive oil into the pot and fry the sage leaves until they are crispy and crackly. Drain the leaves on paper towels and set aside. Add onion to the pot and sauté until fragrant and slightly translucent. Add rice and cook for 2 to 3 minutes over medium heat as you stir with a wooden spoon. Add the wine; cook until mostly evaporated. Begin adding the vegetable broth, a little at a time, allowing the rice to absorb the broth each time before adding more. Continue doing this until the rice is tender but still has a little bite. To finish, add butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and top with the roasted squash and sage leaves.