Friday, September 28, 2012

Spanish Tortilla (Week 39)

Where did this week go? I know..... To massive amounts of homework and a paper! Yikes!

Robyn to the rescue! Robyn brought over some beautiful fresh eggs so from this we are making Spanish Tortilla (the last time I had this was at a Spanish restaurant in town.... Boy I miss then!)

Spanish Tortilla
1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
2 pounds large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, quartered and cut in to 1/4 inch slices (I opted for red with some of the skin on... My favorite)
1 onion quartered and thinly sliced
2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Ground pepper
1/4 cup machego cheese, shaved
8 large eggs beaten (need about 10 of the smaller ones, so I made due with a mix)

In an oven proof skillet,heat Poland add potatoes, onions and salt. When oil bubbles, reduce to medium and continue cooking until potatoes are tense but not brown.

Using a slotted spoon transfer to a large heatproof bowl. Add eggs (with paprika) and stir gently to mix but do not break the potatoes. Strain oil into glass measuring cup and wipe skillet.

Using 3 tablespoons of the oil, add to skillet and cook over medium heat. Add the egg and potato mixture, stirring constantly until eggs set but still not messing up the potatoes (2 minutes). Spread mixture over the pan in
an even layer and cook till firm. Shake occasionally and preheat the broiler.

Sprinkle with cheese. Broil for about 2 minutes on high till light golden brown.

Remove from oven, place large plate on top and flip. Here is where I learned the value of 1) a non stick pan and 2) the true weight of my cast iron skillet! Let sit at least 20 minutes at room temp and up to 2 hours before serving.

Garnish with little rosemary.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Central Valley Flavors (Week 38)

I guess I am really slow on the "uptake" but did you know that the Bee does a custom publication called Central Valley Flavors?  They are celebrate all of our wonderful fresh and local produce.

So local foodies, send in your recipes, tips and comments by email to no later than October 5th.

Be sure to put RECIPE in the subject field.  Include your name, phone number and where you buy your ingredients (a special somewhere).  I'm putting the word out to all my fans and followers, as well as my FB and Twitter friends......if you are a local farmer or grower, a local chef or just someone who appreciates all of those local ingredients....SHARE SHARE SHARE!!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Apricot Bundt Cake (Week 38)

As mentioned in the earlier blog (the Pumpkin Crunch Cake), we EAT in our Cohort.  God bless Nancy (our expert baker and resident party-planner extraordinaire), we have terrific birthday cakes and other goodies.  Adriana and I have one of her delightful carrot cakes "on order" for our birthday treat.  This week I am sharing Nancy's creation from last week's class.  Hat's off to Nancy (also a blogger who can be found at for a FAB-U-lous treat!!

  • 1 Pkg yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup apricot nectar or water
  • ¼ cup butter or margarine softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 2-8 oz pks cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons apricot nectar or milk
Preheat over to 350 (325 for colored fluted tube pan). Using solid shortening or margarine (not oil) grease and flour 12 cup fluted tube pan (non-stick finish pan too)

In large bowl, blend first 4 ingredients: beat 2 minutes at highest speed.  Pour into prepared pan.  In same bowl, blend all filling ingredients; beat until smooth.  Spoon filling over batter in pan without touching sides of pan.  Bake 60 to 70 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool upright in pan 45 minutes; turn onto serving plate.  Cool completely.  In small bowl, combine glaze ingredients; mix until smooth.  Spoon over cake.  Refrigerate.

Pumpkin Crunch Cake (Week 38)

Fall is in the air (certainly not in the temperature!).  This wonderful little cake is both easy and very "fall".  To me it is a pumpkin and pecan pie married and living happily ever after.  A million thanks to my pal (and follower) Leesa for the recipe.  It's FABULOUS!!

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

  • 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
  • 1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
  • 3 large organic eggs (I like Flower Garden of Madera -- Fresh!!)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/w tsp. salt
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1 cup butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl (use a hand mixer).  Pour in to a greased 13 x 9 baking dish.

Run the cake mix through a sifter to get out the lumps and sprinkle the dry cake mix over the top of the pumpkin mixture.  Top0 with nuts.  Drizzle melted butter on top and bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool.  Serve chilled (or warm) with a dollop of whipped topping......or not!  YUM

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Nectarine and Black Pepper Cheesecake (Week 37)

I was intrigued by this recipe - it was like a hybrid of the US cheesecakes and the sernik (Polish cheesecake) that my mother in law loves. This one mellows out the gritty consistency that I don't like (from ricotta) and adds a interesting twist with the pepper and fruit.

From Mario Batali and the Fresno Bee AND Epicurious so I am giving you a link today rather than retyping since I am "on the run". Enjoy! See my notes below....

My attempt was surprisingly delicious BUT it took longer than anticipated plus the juice from the cooked nectarines wasn't fruity enough so I added a cube of frozen juice (I made at the close of the season) and a tablespoon of sugar to the sauce.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

BBQ'd Doves (Week 36 extra)

My Teta Marion and my cousin Mitch...getting ready for BBQ!
Typically, I don't write about food that isn't my personal favorite....why point my followers to something that doesn't make MY mouth water BUT last Sunday was the opening of dove season.  I come from a long line of dove hunters (seriously, it is a BIG family tradition!)  My Mother's father (Nono) used to dove hunt on his ranch and my Mom's birthday is at the opening of dove season so eating BBQ'd dove is both her right and her privilege!  I have family members who drive 100 miles or more to hunt on my Godfather's property and every one of my aunts can clean a bird faster than a well trained boy scout!  I, on the other hand, never quite took a fancy to those little devils.  Going in to the more recent history, my husband won my mother's heart the night he asked for my hand in marriage by showing up with a bag of cleaned, freshly shot dove ...woo woo!  Mom was thrilled, Dad was impressed.....I personally thought it was a bit CAVE man....!

This year, the hubby teamed up with his buddies and went out to Madera (yes... always fresh and local) for a nice hunt.  He bagged 16 (which in doves isn't enough to equal a decent slice of prime rib).  I seasoned and marinaded them, took them out to the folks and BBQ them for my parents.  Mom was in heaven and Dad, who typically eats them to please Mom, called me the next morning to rave about my marinade.  I am now compelled to share!!

How I did the doves
1 big (gallon size zip lock) bag
12 to 16 cleaned doves
2 to 4 metal kabob skewers, wiped down with olive oil
4 fresh sprigs of rosemary
4 crushed cloves of garlic
1/4 c. or so of olive oil
juice of one whole lemon
LOTS of Pappy's Prime Rib Rub
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Put the dove in the bag.  Pour the wet ingredients in the bag, seal and squish it around.  Take the rosemary off the wood and place the little leaves int he bag with the dry seasonings.  Use about 4 or 5 tablespoons of  Pappy's and pour this in to the bag then shake it up and down till the birds are coated well.  Let sit over night till ready to grill.

When grill is hot, skewer the birds from the side of the body and place over flame.  Turn often and DO NOT over cook...they get DRY as a bone!  YUCK.  Test the breast in a few minutes to make sure that there isn't blood.  When just pink, pull them off and eat.  Finger lickin' good!

Another variation is to stuff each with a fresh clove of garlic or a jalapeno pepper and lace with bacon.  My Mom say the bacon over powers the bird taste but I am a bacon's up to you.

Riba s Grožđa iz Zastražišće (Cousin Roger's fish and grapes - Week 36)

My cousin Roger....  What can I say, we ran through the vineyard together as kids, making noise, breaking levees, ruining the irrigation with great plans to do something "non-Croatian" with our lives.  Right!  I am writing a food blog and my award winning photographer cousin is farming Thompson seedless.  We all migrate to our roots.

So let me introduce you to Roger.  Roger is the oldest (a nasty thing for a Cro are the experimental child) and was always to blame when a young sibling gets in hot water.  For Roger this was quite an issue.  I still have flashbacks of his little brother taking a bath in tiki torch fluid at Teta Lucy's.  Little brothers!!  Oh my.  God was very kind to Roger and gave him 3 beautiful daughters (and a great tall fiery redhead wife -- Love you Katie!!)

I think Roger secretly tortured me by taunting my sister in to trouble making ventures.  ".........there was this time with my Mom's VW.....or was it the whole episode at your Kuma's wedding....who knows but I have your number pal!"

Riba s Grožđa iz Zastražišće (Cousin Roger's fish and grapes)
 I am going to give it to you straight from Roger - no edits but maybe a guessed measurement....I'm making this on my own over the weekend and will add my thoughts in the comment section!!

"OK, here are the grape recipes I mentioned. A word of caution: These are Rog-recipes, which means exact amounts, cooking times, etc are included for your benefit only and are merely estimates. My "recipes" are sorta like those from your Nona or Teta…you eyeball everything and cook it until it looks right. I also change them up a little bit according to my mood or taste that day...just something else that drives the Redhead insane when she tries to copy my cooking. 


A Zastrazisce special! Dad has some fond memories of this one. Of course it is very Slav, very simple, and very easy to customize for individual tastes.

1. Fish…pretty much any firm fleshed variety will work. I usually cook 4-5 fillets. Talapia is good because it is cheap and doesn’t have a strong, fishy flavor. Sea bass is really good too…honestly, I think most anything you pull from the sea would work well. I’ve never done this with a freshwater variety, though…it runs counter to my Croatian instincts and island heritage. Still, if somebody wants to try it, I would gladly be their taste-tester.

2. 2-3 cups Seedless grapes…stems removed, of course. I think thompsons are the best for cooking as the skins are thin and they quickly break down when heated. Red ladyfinger types are also good, but they take a little longer to cook down.

3. Salt and pepper are a is olive oil and some crushed or minced fresh garlic. I like a little red pepper flakes too. A herb can also be used if you want…parsley, rosemary, fennel, thyme, sweet basil, can all work well depending on the fish you use and the flavor you like…but DON’T OVERDO IT! Small amounts of herbs go a long way on this dish, and you don’t want it to taste like your lawn. If you do use a herb, use only one type and us it sparingly. Parsley is the best choice when in doubt.

Drizzle the fish with the olive oil, rub with garlic, your herb of choice (if desired), and salt and pepper to taste. Grill the fish to put a little “crust” on it so it will not fall apart…I use an indoor grill for this and it works well. Remember, you are not trying to cook the fish completely, just help it hold together when it is added to the grapes.

Put cleaned grapes in a sauté pan and set to medium high heat, add some red pepper flakes...if desired, but I recommend it...and begin to cook them down. Mix often in the first few minutes so they cook evenly and don’t get scorched. 

Add the fish to the sauté pan after the grapes break down and their juices caramelize and thicken…usually it takes about 10 minutes for that to occur and you want to add the fish near the end of that process. Reduce heat and GENTLY mix or toss together, so the fish gets coated with the sweet sticky goodness of the grapes and finishes cooking for 1-2 minutes. 

I like to keep this simple and serve it with steamed white rice…my kid’s favorite part is mixing some of the cooked grapes with the it and it rocks! Seriously, they can’t get enough of this dish."