the rainy kitchen

cooking through the rain in southeast alaska

Month: July, 2012

roasted apricots

Over the weekend I cooked a five course dinner for 13 of our dearest friends as a belated 40th birthday celebration for my husband. One of the courses I made was a venison roast with an apricot and cherry sauce. I didn’t need many apricots for the sauce, so of course I had leftovers. I decided to roast them for a day after dessert. Simple, easy and all about summer. Here is what I did.

Roasted Apricots

4 ripe apricots
2 tbs Grand Marnier
1 tbs butter
1 tbs honey

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut apricots in half, remove pit and place them in a cast iron pan or other roasting pan with the flesh side up. Put a dollop of butter in on each half where the pit was. Drizzle them all with a small amount of Grand Marnier and put them in the oven. Roast for about 45 minutes, or until apricots start to caramelize but are not browned. Remove and drizzle with honey. Place apricots in the broiler for 3 minutes or until lightly browned on top. Watch carefully as this will happen quick! Remove and let cool to room temperature. Serve over vanilla ice cream or just pop them in your mouth. So good. So easy.

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roasted red pepper and garlic soup

Last week, a friend of mine did me a big favor. To thank her, I offered to deliver dinner to her house for her and her partner. Her only request was that there be no meat and no wheat. I said, no problem! I made a roasted red bell pepper soup and a side salad for them. It was nice to spend my Sunday afternoon cooking up the soup as thanks to my friend. Food is such a great way to show appreciation for the kindness of others. Certainly, we rely on the kindness of our friends to help us out in so many situations, none of us could do it alone, that is one thing I feel sure about. Here’s how I made the soup. Easy and delicious.

Roasted Red Pepper and Garlic Soup

8-10 red bell peppers
8-10 cloves garlic
olive oil
kosher salt
pepper
dry white wine
3 tbls butter
15 oz can kidney beans
2 c. water
8 oz heavy cream
parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Quarter peppers and put them in a roasting pan with the whole garlic cloves (use two roasting pans if necessary). Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Put in the oven and roast for apx one hour or until the peppers are good and soft and some have a nice brown skin on them. Remove from oven and put in a Cuisinart with kidney beans (you’ll probably need to do it in two parts). Put blended mixture into a pot with a bit of olive oil and 2 cups of water. Add heavy cream, a few splashes of white wine, and butter. Salt and pepper to taste and stir until it’s all well blended together. Serve with a sprinkle of fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

a spinach potluck salad

Several years ago, a friend of mine made a salad with frozen spinach, garbanzo beans and feta cheese that I thought was so good. I have tweaked the recipe slightly over the years, and I find this quick and easy salad to be great for potlucks or for lunch.

Garbanzo Bean and Spinach Salad

5 c. fresh spinach
15 oz garbanzo beans
5 0z feta cheese
1-2 cloves garlic
olive oil
fresh black pepper
crushed red pepper
juice of half a lemon

Saute garlic in a medium sized pan coated with olive oil. Toss in the spinach and let saute till shrunk down. Ad the garbanzo beans and sprinkle with crushed red pepper (more or less depending on how much heat you like), a few grounds of fresh pepper and the juice of half a lemon. Transfer to a bowl and crumble in feta, stirring it gently. Serve alone or with a good hard crusted bread.

an easy and elegant appetizer

We are back in Juneau after a fantastic trip! We were very lucky and came home to a sunny weekend, which prompted some yard time with friends. While we were in Idaho, at our friend Robin’s house, she made a delicious appetizer that I wanted to make for our friends, so she sent along the recipe. Please note, she got this recipe from Williams-Sanoma. I thought it was too good not to share. Thanks Robin for making it for us!

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Roasted Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

1 dozen ripe Roma tomatoes
5-6 cloves garlic
Olive oil
1 log goat cheese
Salt and pepper
Fresh Thyme

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Quarter and toss tomatoes with some olive oil and salt and pepper.  Foil line a cookie sheet and place a rack on top, lay the tomatoes on it and roast for an hour and a half. Slice garlic and ad to 1/2 cup of olive oil. Fry garlic in the olive oil for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and gently toss with the roasted tomatoes. Let sit at room temp until ready to serve.

Slice a log of goat cheese into half inch slices with dental floss (thinner will crumble). Lay on a platter and drizzle with half a cup of olive oil. Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper and a bunch of fresh thyme. Cover and let sit at room temp until ready to serve.

For serving, slice a good baguette into 1/4 inch slices. Enjoy!

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cherries

One of the best things about coming south this time of year is that cherries are in season. We have been on the road, camping and visiting friends and having a fabulous time. I have been eating as many fresh cherries as I can get my hands on. Sometimes, the most perfect foods in life need only to be put in your mouth.

Rainier cherries on the tree. Divine.

A palette of Bing cherries just after harvest.

farm fresh

My apologies for not posting sooner.  Believe it or not, this is the first time I have had access to internet in a while.

I hope you all had a lovely holiday! We spent it with family, celebrating Bret’s 40th birthday and of course all of the typical July 4th festivities. Being in Olympia has been fantastic. We love coming here. One of the things I love the most about Olympia is the Olympia Farmers Market. We always do our best to make it there, get some seasonal goodies, and make something delicious from them. This time it was apricots! They were everywhere and they were perfect. So, I decided to make an apricot galette and serve it with blue cheese, also from the market.

Apricot Galette

6 fresh apricots
sugar
frozen puff pastry

Cut in half and pit the apricots. Slice into thin strips, about a half an inch each. Use about a half of one apricot to cook down into a sauce. I just threw them in a small pot, added a few splashes of water and a little sugar, and let cook down until it was essentially a sauce. Take out the puff pastry and let thaw for about a half hour. Open it up and place it in the middle of a buttered cookie sheet. Use a pastry brush to paint on some of the apricot sauce. Layer the apricots so they look lovely, and brush on some more of the sauce. Sprinkle with sugar. Put in a pre-heated oven and cook at 425 degrees for about a half hour. Take out when the pastry is browned and beautiful.

This galette was quite tart and I thought it was delicious with the mild blue cheese (Chehalis Blue) we bought at the market, from Twin Oaks Dairy, a local dairy vendor at the market. The cheese was creamy and had a lovely mild flavor.  You can also serve with vanilla ice cream, depending on if you want a sweet or savory dessert.

vacation!

Bret and I are heading south to find some sun. First to Olympia, WA and then a road trip with the tent and the pups to wherever the sun is shining. My sweetie is turning 40 on the 4th of July! I will do my best to post from the trip. I am looking forward to farmers markets filled with seasonal fruits and vegetables. I can’t wait.

So, I realize it’s Monday, but here is a yummy cocktail to celebrate vacations, birthdays, or just the weekend! One of my favorite combinations is rhubarb and ginger. My friend Sarah makes some delicious rhubarb simple syrup, which she graciously gave me her recipe for so I could share it with all of you. I like to make ginger infused vodka, and I recently discovered, that a combo of the two, with a couple other ingredients, makes for a pretty yummy cocktail!

Rhubarb Ginger Refresher

2 parts rhubarb simple syrup
2 parts ginger infused vodka
1 part fresh squeezed lemon juice
splash of real ginger ale

Pour simple syrup, vodka and lemon into an ice filled shaker. Shake for a minute or so. Pour over ice. Add ginger ale. OR pour into chilled martini glasses and then add the ginger ale (in this case, no ice).

Sarah’s Rhubarb Simple Syrup

Chop rhubarb stalks into 1 inch pieces until you have about 2 cups. Put in a pan with about 2 cups of water. Add about 1 cup of sugar (more or less depending on the sweetness you want). Bring to a boil in a heavy pot, reduce heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Use a fine gauge metal strainer or cheese cloth to squeeze out as much juice as possible. You can use what’s left over ice cream or in any delicious rhubarb thing you may be baking. The syrup can be refrigerated for quite some time, frozen, or, if you’re really ambitious, canned.

Ginger Infused Vodka

Peel lots of ginger. Fill a one quart mason jar to about half full with the peeled ginger. Fill the jar with a good vodka of your choice. Let sit for a couple of weeks, or until the flavor is just how you want it. Use a cheese cloth to strain.

Cheers to sunny vacations!