Sunday, September 13, 2009

Memory - September 2009

Diva: Bonnie
Memory food can be both a spiritual and primal encounter. It's more than just a culinary talent; it blossoms the soul and leaves one feeling fortunate and nurtured, or perhaps wanting to bathe in the delicacy and making strange primal noises. It's different than comfort food which can be a numbing tranquility. When taken to the more sophisticated pursuit of memory food, dining is transcendent. It's a pervasive intimacy, inciting in those of us who love to cook a desire to know this art. I invitee and challenged all the divas to bring a dish that was nirvana to them....that was a Memory in their dinning experience.

Drinks: Colleen
Champagne with a Strawberry or Sparkling Apple Juice with a Strawberry

This fun, bubbly drink has marked so many memories in my life. My mom's love for champagne ensured that no big event passed without a champagne (or sparkling juice when I was a kid) toast. Be it a wedding, graduation or even just a Sunday family brunch, champagne is embedded in my memories. Elegant and delicious, it is perfect for Divas.

Appetizer: Sara
Mini Open Face BALTs and ALTs with Mustard Aeoli

Ellis surprised me a with a picnic lunch at work--it was BLTs and bubbly water, that night I went into labor and the next day, July 23 we had Camas Mae!

i used a brown and serve baguette
beelers peppered bacon
heirloom tomatoes form moscow farmers market
organic avocado from the coop

aeoli: I used the recipe from the Joy of cooking and added stone ground mustard from a jar

break two egg yokes in stand mixer with two cloves of garlic minced, pour in 2 cups of canola oil very slowly so the yokes, garlic, and oil emulsify (the recipe calls for one cup of olive oil, but I was improvising with help from my husband who is a sioux chef at Nectar in Moscow). I would pare this recipe down because it made soooo much that we will never be able to use it all before it expires--something like--

1 egg yoke
2/3 c oil of choice (canola or olive)
2 cloves garlic minced
stone ground mustard to taste

Bake bacon at 350 for 20-30 minutes, cut strips in thirds. Slice tomatoes and avocados and tear lettuce. Stack ingredients on bread, top with dollop of aeoli or straight mustard.

Salad: Ashley
Wild Rice Mango Salad.

I lived off of this during my freshman and sophomore years at Colorado State University. I have gone back to it many times over the past 14 years. I got the original recipe from a 1995 issue of Self magazine. I added the cayenne to give it a little kick. Depending on my mood, I will tweak the ratio of the ingredients but usually stick to what the ingredients are. This is an especially nice wrap filling.

1 c wild rice, uncooked
2 c shredded cooked chicken breast
1 avocado, diced
1 large ripe mango, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
¼ c scallions, thinly sliced
¼ cup sliced almonds
2 T orange juice
1 T olive oil
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp black pepper
salt to taste

Cook rice. Cool slightly. In a large bowl, combine shredded chicken, avocado, mango, red pepper, scallions, and almonds. In a small bowl, combine orange juice, oil, cayenne, pepper and salt to taste. Toss with rice mixture. Refrigerate 1-2 hours.

(Original Recipe from Self Magazine 1995)

Soup: Mariah
Spinach Soup Topped with Popcorn

This dish reminds me of my time in Quito, Ecuador. The sights, sounds and tastes were intense, unique and glorious! The smell of diesel fueled vehicles crowding the city streets, the hustle and bustle of 250 thousand people living in the city, the noise of the masses moving from place to place, the language, the music, and the busy-ness. The family that I lived with gathered at 3pm for food and chat; among other yummy dishes. Our maid, Maruja, made Spinach soup topped with Popcorn for our late lunch Popcorn on soup -- wild and wonderful.

4 T butter
one yellow onion
one head of garlic
2 pounds spinach chopped
4 c veggie broth
Several dashes White pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat butter in large pot over medium heat saute onion and garlic, add spinach and stir until spinach is tender and reduced. Transfer mixture to blender add a cup of broth and process until smooth.

Return Spinach mix to pot, add remainding broth and season to taste. Simmer for 30 minutes and serve. Pop popcorn on the stove top and sprinkle on top of the soup.

Side Dish: Aven
Green Beans and Roasted Red Onions

My memory of this dish is from the first Thanksgiving I hosted after we bought our house. My parents and my in-laws came and I wanted to make green beans for Isaak's mom even though they weren't part of the Thanksgiving tradition that I grew up with. Isaak said his mom always made sure they had a vegetable (usually frozen corn, peas or beans) with dinner when he was growing up and I wanted her to think I was feeding Isaak as well as she did. I had never really loved beans, or onions, but this dish is phenomenal and definately changed my mind. I think it was my favorite part of the meal (except for, of course, my Mom's famous stuffing). I kept going back for more and more and more.

2 ¼ lb medium red onions (about 5) (*I used Walla Walla sweet onions)
¼ c olive oil
2 T balsamic vinegar (*I used white balsalmic vinegar)
1 tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp black pepper (*I used white pepper)
¼ c water
1 ½ lb green beans, trimmed and cut diagonally into 2-inch pieces
(*I also added some lemon thyme.)

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 450°F. Oil a 13- by 9-inch baking pan.
After peeling onions, trim root ends, leaving onions whole, then quarter onions lengthwise. Put onions in baking pan, then drizzle with oil and vinegar, tossing to coat. Arrange onions with a cut side down and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast, uncovered, turning over once and basting with pan juices twice during baking, until deep golden, about 30 minutes. Add water to pan and roast until onions are tender and caramelized, about 20 minutes more. Transfer onions with pan juices to a large bowl.

While onions are roasting, cook beans in a 5- to 6-quart pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain beans in a colander, then add to onions and toss. Season with salt and pepper.

(Original Recipe from Gourmet, September 2004)

Entree: Tamara
Falafel with Israeli Salad and Tahina

My father grew up on the streets of Tel Aviv eating falafel from street vendors much like we would eat hot dogs from the corner stand. As I grew up we had falafel, not neccessarily for special occasions, but usually only when my mom had a little extra time for the deep frying. It was always a special treat. Today eating falafel means more to me. Now I see it as part of my past, my culture and my heritage. It has also become part of my future. It was the first meal I cooked for my husband back in the day and it's something to share with friends who have never had that type of food or realize it is an Israeli treat. I'm sure it will be something I will share with my son, in hopes of passing on the heritage and culture of his Saba, whom he was never able to meet.

1 c dried chickpeas (*I used two cans, drained)
½ large onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
2 T finely chopped fresh parsley
2 T finely chopped fresh cilantro (*I left this out and added more parsley.)
1 tsp salt
½-1 tsp dried hot red pepper
4 cloves of garlic (*I used 6-8 cloves)
1 tsp cumin (*I used 2 tsp)
1 tsp baking powder (*I used 2 tsp)
4-6 T flour
Soybean or vegetable oil for frying

Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Let soak overnight, then drain. Or use canned chickpeas, drained.

Place the drained, uncooked chickpeas and the onions in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the parsley, cilantro, salt, hot pepper, garlic, and cumin. Process until blended but not pureed. (*Do not add any water to try to blend it better. This will cause the balls to fall apart in the oil.)

Sprinkle in the baking powder and 4 tablespoons of the flour, and pulse. You want to add enough bulgur or flour so that the dough forms a small ball and no longer sticks to your hands. Turn into a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for several hours.

Form the chickpea mixture into balls about the size of walnuts, or use a falafel scoop, available in Middle-Eastern markets.

Heat 3 inches of oil to 375 degrees in a deep pot or wok and fry 1 ball to test. If it falls apart, add a little flour. Then fry about 6 balls at once for a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. (*I deep fry them until golden. If you do it this way, after dropping them in, be sure they float and don't stick to the bottom.) Stuff half a pita with falafel balls, top with Israeli salad and drizzle with Tahina.

(Original Recipe from The Foods of Israel Today, by Joan Nathan.)

Israeli Salad
An salad is Israeli if everything is finely diced.

iceberg lettuce (or other crunchy lettuce)
green pepper
onion or green onion

Dice and toss.

Take a few scoops of sesame paste, or Tahina, and thin with some lemon juice to taste and enough water to be able to drizzle the sauce over the pita. Add garlic to taste.

Dessert: Lovina
Huckleberry Creme Brulee

One of my fondest memories of eating creme brulee, my favorite dessert, was when Bonnie came to visit me from Reno. Years of working in food service had made us both really appreciate the little variations that chefs put into their menu items at different restaurants. We went to Bricks Restaurant in Coeur d'Alene after I picked her up from the airport and we enjoyed an exquisite line up of food items from the yummy calamari appetizer, to the ahi tuna entree, down to the huckleberry creme brulee we shared for dessert. It was all SO good that years later, we still talk about the dinner we had that night. When I found out that the theme was "memory food", and I was to prepare a dessert, it was an obvious choice for me! Special thanks to Bonnie for providing the huckleberries that were held over from her summer picking adventures with Ashley and Ivy.

4 c whipping cream
1 c sugar (plus about 1/3 cup for caramel)
10 egg yolks
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
¾ c huckleberries (separated in half)
5 bay leaves
big pinch of salt

For the custard:
In a saucepan, combine the cream, bay leaves, and vanilla and gently bring to boil (scalding the cream), allowing the flavors to infuse. Set aside to allow the cream mixture to cool. Preheat the oven to 325. Whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and pinch of salt in mixing bowl. Remove the bay leaves from the cream mixture once cooled (or strain through sieve). Place half of the huckleberries into a small bowl or cup. Using a handheld immersion blender, purify the huckleberries and add them to the cream mixture. Combine the cream mixture into the egg mixture, mixing just until blended. Distribute the remaining huckleberries evenly in the bottom of the ramekins (about 1/2 tablespoon each). Divide custard mixture evenly among ramekins. Place the ramekins onto a deep baking sheet and add enough hot water to fill the pan halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Carefully transfer baking sheet to oven and bake for 35-40 minutes until custard is only slightly wobbly. Remove ramekins from the water and allow to cool in refrigerator for at least 4 hours (ideally overnight).

For the caramel:
Remove chilled custard cups from the refrigerator and sprinkle each custard with 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar. Working with one custard at a time, use a kitchen torch or small blow torch to carmelize the sugar, resulting in a thin layer of light brown caramel on top of custard. Allow the caramel to cool to harden before serving.

(modified from Bon Appetit)

Wild Card: Stacey
Starlee's Avocado Chili Pepper Salad

My sister-in-law Starlee made that salad for us a couple of years ago and I fell in love with the dish. I love the combination of avocados, spicy hot chilies, and the cool tangy honey mustard dressing. I knew I had to make it for Divas sometime.

green onions - cut in 2 inch pieces
peppers - chili or alapeno - diced small
red pepper flakes

honey, dijon mustard, white wine, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. whisk together - set aside.

Roast almonds and healthy dash red pepper flakes in olive oil - in a hot skillet for about 10 minutes.

Platter Salad: layer tomatoes, then avocado slices, then green onions, then diced chilies, then almonds. Drizzle dressing over top and serve immediately.

Lottery: Erin

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