About This Blog

This is, as the title indicates, my kitchen notebook (the header is actually a scanned image of the cover of a notebook that I started using about 25 years ago and the background is a stained page from that book). I am not a professional recipe writer. If you try any recipe here, please keep that in mind, these recipes have not been tested by an independent tester. The "recipes" are often not even really recipes but rather a list of ingredients that I've noted after preparing a dish on the fly that I thought came out well. Perhaps I've also added some instructions, but I rarely keep accurate track of what I've done in terms of time or temperature, I've just noted to the best of my memory (feeble) what I did.

Please feel free to take some inspiration from here, but on the other hand, please give credit where it is due. I also welcome any constructive comments that you might have if you are inspired to try a recipe. Questions are welcome, but keep in mind that I may not remember specifics. The dishes do evolve over time...

Thank you and enjoy!

Kalettes and Duck Confit

This was a wonderful accompaniment to the Smashed Root Gratin. Fresh kalettes can be sauteed until tender but I prefer to blanch mine first to remove any aphids that are always hiding inside the frilly little heads.

About 1/2 pound fresh kalettes
2 legs duck confit
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large pinch dried fermented Mareko Fana pepper flakes
1 small handful dried tart cherries
Cherry balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Blanch the kalettes for 2 minutes and then drain them and plunge them into a large bowl of ice water. Let them cool completely, drain them, spin most of the moisture off in a salad spinner. Set aside.

Remove the skin from the duck legs leaving the skin intact. Heat a 10-inch skillet over low heat and place the duck skin in the pan. Slowly cook the duck skin, turning over occasionally, until most of the fat is rendered and the skin is crisp. Place the crisp skin on paper towels to drain. Set the skillet aside, do not discard the fat.

Remove the duck flesh from the bones and shred it into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

Place the skillet with the duck fat over medium heat. When the fat is hot again, don't let it smoke, sizzle the garlic briefly then add the pepper flakes and dried cherries to the pan and stir to mix. Add the blanched kalettes to the pan and toss for a couple of minutes to heat them through. Add the shredded duck to the skillet and continue tossing until everything is hot. Transfer to a preheated serving bowl and drizzle with the Cherry balsamic to taste and season with salt and pepper. Chop some of the crisp duck skin and sprinkle that over the top. Serve immediately.

Makes 2 servings.

Smashed Root Gratin

I added a rutabaga to the mix here because I had one and only one that was big enough to harvest. Fresh celeriac from the garden, a stash of potatoes lingering from a summer harvest, and that lone rutabaga came together into an amazingly flavorful and satisfying gratin. I used Red Boat salt, which is the salt left over making Vietnamese fish sauce, but any good salt is fine to use.

About 1 pound celeriac
About 1 pound potatoes
About 1/2 pound rutabaga (swede)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to finish
1 teaspoon salt (Red Boat)
1 pinch saffron threads
Freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces semi-soft cheese (Abondance), grated and split into 3 ounce and 1 ounce portions
Dry bread crumbs

Preheat the over to 350ºF.

Peel the celeriac and cut it into about 3/4-inch cubes. Place it in a bowl of cold water. Do the same for the potatoes and rutabaga and hold them in separate bowls of cold water.

Drain the celeriac and steam it until tender enough to mash, about 8 to 10 minutes, maybe more. Place the hot celeriac into a large mixing bowl and toss it with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Repeat the process with the potatoes and rutabaga, each may take a different time to become tender enough to mash so do them separately. Add an additional tablespoon of olive oil as each steamed vegetable is added to the bowl.

While the vegetables are steaming prepare the saffron. Pulverize the threads in a small bowl and add 1/4 cup hot water. Cover and let sit.

Season the steamed vegetables with 1 teaspoon of salt, freshly ground black pepper to taste, an additional tablespoon of olive oil, and the saffron water. Use a potato masher to smash the mixture into a somewhat chunky puree, add more water if the puree seems too thick. Stir 3 ounces of cheese into the puree. Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Spoon the puree into an oiled 6-cup gratin dish or baking dish and smooth the top. Scatter the remaining ounce of cheese over the top, sprinkle with a few tablespoons of breadcrumbs, and drizzle a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over all.

Bake for about 45 to 50 minutes until the top is brown and crisp and the gratin is bubbling around the edges. Serve immediately.

Makes about 6 to 8 servings as a side dish.

Chicken and Rice Soup with Asian Flavors

This recipe is still a work in progress. I started with a whole 5 pound chicken which produced 2 huge breasts. I poached both breasts to make a broth even though I knew that it would be more meat than what I needed for the soup. But what I really wanted was the flavorful broth and one breast would not make a broth with as much flavor as both breasts. The second breast was perfect for adding to a salad another day so I got at least 2 meals for my effort.

I also ended up with more rice than I thought was appropriate for the soup. Next time I'll start with about 2/3 cup dry rice. On the other hand it's nice to have leftover rice to make a fried rice dish, so perhaps next time I'll make a larger pot of rice and then make chicken fried rice the next day. That sounds like a plan!

2 bone in chicken breasts with the skin attached, from a 5 pound chicken (wings removed)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 whole cinnamon stick
1 whole star anise broken into pieces
6 whole cloves
1 black cardamom pod
a 1-inch piece of fresh ginger cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
5 to 6 cups of water

1 cup brown jasmine rice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups water

Coconut oil, 1 to 2 tablespoons as desired
About 1 cup of 1/4-inch thick celery slices
About 1/2 pound of carrots cut into 1/2-inch dice
About 1 cup of coarsely chopped onion (leek?)
2 to 3 tablespoons fish sauce or to taste

1 large bunch of fresh cilantro
Sesame oil
Hot pepper sauce

Diced daikon radish would be a nice addition to the veggie mix.
Napa cabbage would be good.

First poach the chicken breasts. Place the chicken breasts in a 3 quart or larger saucepan along with the seasonings and enough water to completely submerge the breasts, at least 5 cups. Turn the heat on to medium, cover the pan, and bring the water to a gentle simmer. Do not boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer the breasts until the broth turns clear and then remove the pan from the heat and allow the breasts to at least partially cool in the broth.

Steam the rice while the chicken breasts are cooking. Place the rice, salt, and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to the lowest setting or put the pan on a low burner with a flame tamer, cover the pan and allow the rice to steam until all the liquid is absorbed. Set aside. (This made more rice than necessary, I had at least a cup leftover after adding as much as I wanted to the finished soup.)

Heat the coconut oil in a large soup pot set over medium heat. Add the vegetables, toss to coat with the hot oil, cover the pot and allow the veggies to sweat for a couple of minutes. Uncover the pot and sauté the vegetables until they are slightly softened, a couple more minutes.

Meanwhile, remove the chicken breasts from their pot and set them aside to cool until they can be handled. Strain the broth into the soup pot. Season the soup with a couple more tablespoons of fish sauce and bring the soup to a simmer.

While the soup is simmering, shred the chicken meat to be used in the soup, you will probably only need the meat from one of the breasts if you started with a 5 pound chicken. Remove the chicken meat from the bones, setting the bones and skin aside for another use (they can still be used in a long simmered poultry stock). Shred the meat into bite sized pieces.

Finish the soup when the vegetables are cooked to your liking. Add the cooked rice and shredded chicken. Simmer until the rice and chicken are heated through. Taste the broth and add more fish sauce or salt if needed.

Garnish each bowl of soup with a drizzle of sesame oil and a handful of chopped cilantro leaves. Serve with the hot sauce on the side to allow each diner to season the soup to their own taste.

Roasted Peppers Stuffed with Ricotta and Spinach

Too many peppers this year! 70 plants, what on earth was I thinking. I've been preserving many of them but there's still loads of them so now I need to dream up ways of eating more of them now. So here's one dish that I whipped up for dinner recently that got rave reviews from Dave so I knew I needed to write it up because I won't remember how to make it again the next time he wants it.

Blanched chard can be substituted for the spinach. Sautéed chopped onions can be substituted for the dried onion. (I used dried onion for the sake of expediency). Chopped fresh sage or sage cooked in brown butter should be a nice addition to the filling. Or onion and sage sautéed together in butter or olive oil should be good too. Hmm, and since I just wrote a post about corn chicos, some presoaked chicos might be tasty too.

12 ounces ricotta, preferably sheepmilk
2 ounces freshly grated parmesan
1/4 ounce dried sweet onion, chopped (no need to rehydrate)
1/2 teaspoon mild pepper flakes
Freshly grated nutmeg
5 ounces blanched spinach measured after squeezing out excess moisture, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt (or more, I'm watching my salt intake these days)
9 or more roasted sweet peppers such as Ajvarski
Olive oil
Dry coarse breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Lightly oil a 8 x 12-inch oval gratin dish or equivalent sized baking dish.

Mix together the ricotta, parmesan, dried onion, pepper flakes, nutmeg, spinach, and salt.

Leave the roasted peppers intact but slit down one side so that they open like a book. Place a couple of tablespoons or so of the ricotta filling on one side of a pepper and fold the other side over to cover the filling. Repeat for the rest of the peppers using all the filling. Place the peppers in the baking dish with the seams to the side. Pack the peppers tightly into the dish so there are no gaps between the peppers, this keeps the filling from oozing out.

Scatter the dried breadcrumbs generously over the top of the peppers and then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Bake for 50 minutes to an hour, until the dish is bubbling merrily all around the edges. Let sit for at least a few minutes or longer before serving.

Makes 3 to 4 main course servings or more as an appetizer.

Cast Iron Skillet Roasted Frying Peppers

I tried a more hands off approach to cooking up a bunch of frying peppers by roasting them in a cast iron skillet and found that I like the end result even better. 

Mehmet's Turkish Sweet

About 1 1/2 pounds frying peppers (Mehmet's Turkish Sweet)
Olive oil
About 1 tablespoon salt packed Capers, rinsed
3 cloves Garlic
About 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
2 anchovy filets

Preheat a 12-inch cast iron skillet in a 350ºF oven. If the peppers are quite young you can leave them whole. For more mature peppers with hard seeds you may want to remove the stems, cut them in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. 

Chop the capers and put them in a small bowl. Chop the garlic and parsley leaves separately and then chop them together and then add them to the capers. Mince the anchovy filets and add them to the caper mixture. Thoroughly blend together the caper, garlic, parsley and anchovy mixture with a bit of olive oil. Set aside.

Toss the peppers with enough olive oil to coat them and salt to taste. Add them to the preheated skillet and roast for 30 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes or so. After 30 minutes add the caper mixture to the peppers and toss to combine. Continue roasting the peppers for another 15 minutes, tossing once or twice. 

Serve hot.

Makes about 4 servings as a side dish.

Ricotta and Dried Tromba D'Albenga Stuffed Prosciutto Rolls

I'm always looking for ways to use my stash of preserved vegetables. This dish uses both a dehydrated veggie and homemade frozen tomato sauce. The grated squash that I used can be used interchangeably with zucchini, Tromba D'Albenga squash is harvested young, firm, and green and used like zucchini. The dried squash does not have to be rehydrated, it will absorb the moisture from both the ricotta (don't drain it, include any whey that might collect in the container) and from the tomato sauce. The dish can be assembled ahead of time and then baked for serving hot from the oven. Go light on the salt in this dish since both the prosciutto and Parmesan are salty to begin with and perhaps your tomato sauce too.

12 ounces sheep milk ricotta
1 ounce dried shredded Tromba D'Albenga squash or zucchini
1 ounce freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried fermented Aji Amarillo Grande flakes
Freshly grated nutmeg
12 thin slices prosciutto
2 cups prepared tomato sauce
additional freshly grated Parmesan cheese
crunchy dried breadcrumbs
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 325ºF.

Gently fold together the ricotta, dried squash, Parmesan cheese, pepper flakes, and nutmeg. Use your hands so as not to crush the zucchini if it is very dry. There's no need to salt the filling because the prosciutto and Parmesan are salty enough.

Smear a bit less than 1 1/2 ounces of the ricotta mixture over a slice of prosciutto, no need to be precise, it doesn't have to go all the way to the edges nor does it have to be smoothed out evenly. Then loosely roll the prosciutto starting from a short side, you want a short fat roll rather than a long skinny one. Set aside and prepare the rest of the rolls.

Smear the bottom of a 6 cup oval gratin dish or similar sized baking dish with some of the tomato sauce. Arrange the rolls in the baking dish, pour the rest of the tomato sauce over the rolls, sprinkle more prosciutto over the top, sprinkle a couple of tablespoons or so of breadcrumbs over all and then drizzle some olive oil in a pattern over all.

Bake until heated through and bubbling around the edges, the rolls should have puffed up some, about 45 minutes.

Serves 4, or perhaps 6 or more as an appetizer.

Mustard Greens and Apple Galette

Sounds a bit weird perhaps, a savory galette of mustard greens with apple? But the hint of sweet and tart apple is a very nice complement to the slightly bitter bite of mustard greens and comes together nicely with the nutty whole wheat pastry and tang of sharp cheddar cheese. My husband who is generally not a fan of bitter things took note of the bit of bitterness but found the galette to be delicious. He ate a quarter of the galette with gusto. I carried the apple theme to the accompanying simple salad of Red Iceberg and Three Heart Butterhead lettuces tossed with sliced apple, toasted sliced almonds, and a lemony honey-mustard vinaigrette.

1 recipe Whole Wheat Galette Dough

About 1 pound mustard greens
About 2 tablespoons roasted peanut oil or other oil
1 small onion, chopped
3-4 ounces Pink Beauty apple (half of a large apple), cut into 1/4-inch dice, no need to peel
About 1 tablespoon fermented sweet pepper paste
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
4 ounces Cheddar cheese, grated on coarse holes of a box grater
About a tablespoon of creme fraiche or heavy cream or an egg yolk thinned with a bit of water

Prepare the galette dough and refrigerate it while preparing the filling.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the mustard greens in batches, about 15 seconds per batch, allow to drain and cool in a colander. Gently squeeze some of the moisture out of the greens. Stack the greens so that the fat stems ends can be sliced about 1/4-inch thick and set aside, slice the leafy parts about 1/4 inch thick also. Don't be fussy, some fat stems will be a bit leafy and some leafy parts will be a bit stemmy.

Heat the oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Saute the onion until translucent. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the diced apple and pepper paste and saute until the pepper paste is incorporated. Add the chopped mustard green stems and continue to saute a few minutes, then stir in the leafy parts and add salt to taste. Continue to saute until any excess moisture cooks off, turn the heat up again if necessary. You don't want the filling to be too wet or the pastry will become soggy but you don't want the filling too be dry either. Set the filling aside to cool as you roll the galette dough.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Cut a piece of parchment paper at least 12 inches wide.

Roll the galette dough out to about a 16-inch circle. Transfer the dough to the parchment paper, it may be larger than the paper but after folding the sides of the dough over the filling it should fit. 

Arrange the filling over the dough leaving about 2 inches uncovered all around. Season the filling with freshly ground black pepper and grated nutmeg. Add more salt if necessary. Scatter the grated cheese evenly over the filling. Fold the edges of the dough up over the filling but don't be fussy about arranging it. Brush the folded over portions of the dough with the creme fraiche. Slide the pastry on the parchment paper onto a large flat baking sheet.

Bake in the middle of the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes, I use the convection fan so it speeds up the baking and makes for a nice brown crisp crust.

Transfer the baked galette to a cooling rack for a few minutes before slicing and serving. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Makes 4 main course servings or 6 to 8 appetizer servings.

Zucchini and Spinach Gratin with Ricotta Custard

My adaptation of a recipe from Deborah Madison's Book The Savory Way takes advantage of dried zucchini and frozen spinach from the garden. A pound of fresh zucchini dries down to about 1 ounce. I rehydrated it with the liquid that the frozen zucchini gives off as well as the moisture from the mushrooms and onions. The vegetable mixture should be prepared in advance to allow the zucchini to absorb the moisture from the other vegetables. It can be mixed and kept in the refrigerator overnight or longer.

1.25 ounces (35 g.) dried sliced Romanesco zucchini
8 ounces frozen spinach, thawed, excess moisture squeezed out and reserved
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 pound mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon tomato paste thinned with a little water
sweet fermented pepper flakes to taste (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
crumbled dried oregano to taste

1 cup ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1 cup milk, cream or a combination
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
freshly ground pepper
freshly grated nutmeg

Place the dried zucchini in a bowl. Add the reserved spinach water to the zucchini and set aside.

Warm the oil in a medium skillet and add the onions and garlic. Sauté about 1 minute, then add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Cook until the mushrooms soften and begin to release their liquid. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of zucchini, stir to mix, cover and set aside for a few hours or overnight in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Season the rehydrated zucchini mixture with the tomato paste, pepper flakes, parsley, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the mixture to a gratin dish. Chop the spinach and distribute it over the zucchini mixture, season with salt and fresh ground pepper.

Beat the ricotta with the eggs, then stir in the milk or cream, the cheese, and the remaining parsley. Season with salt and nutmeg. Pour the mixture over the vegetables. Bake until the custard is set and lightly browned on top, about 40 to 45 minutes. Allow the gratin to stand about 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm.

Makes 4 main course servings.

Back Country Rice Noodles and Veggies with Shrimp

10 g. dried Petite Marseillaise or Yummy Belle or Odessa Market peppers
10 g. dried napa cabbage (part fermented mustard greens)
10 g. dried Pomme D'Amour tomatoes
10 g. dried Romanesco zucchini
10 g. dried Oven Caramelized onions
50 to 60 g. dried cooked shrimp
2 to 3 cups water, depending on how soupy you want it to be
50 to 60 g. rice noodles (break up the noodles at home) or 1 single serving size Thai Kitchen Bangkok Curry Rice noodles
1 tablespoon green curry paste, dehydrated (or the seasoning packet from the Curry Rice Noodles)
1 dried Thai Lime leaf
3 tablespoons (30 g.) coconut milk powder, optional
1 small packet soy sauce
Fish sauce to taste

At home, package the dried vegetables and lime leaf into a small resealable bag, package the shrimp separately, package the noodles and seasonings separately.

In camp. Put the shrimp in a pan with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and remove from heat, let soak for 5 minutes. Add the veggies to the pan and soak for at least another 5 minutes.

Add the noodles and seasonings, including the coconut powder if using, to the pot, add more water if desired for a more soupy dish, and slowly bring to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and insulate and let sit for another 10 minutes.

Serve immediately

Makes 2 portions.

A Stew of Beans, Pork Sausage, Zucchini, Tomatillo, and Green Chile

This came together as a result of raiding my pantry and freezer. I had tomatillos that had been roasted until soft and then frozen. There was a frozen packet of green Anaheim peppers that I had roasted, peeled, and seeded. The pork sausage was from the freezer also. Beans were from the pantry and dehydrated sliced zucchini from the refrigerator. I started the beans in the morning using what has become my favorite slow cook method. The slow method works magic with old beans. My 3 year old Petaluma Gold Rush beans took about 6 hours, fresher beans will cook more quickly and different varieties cook at different rates.

For the beans:

8 ounces Petaluma Gold Rush beans
1 quart water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 inch piece dried kombu kelp (supposedly has enzymes that make the beans more digestible)

Combine the beans, water, salt, and kelp in a lidded heavy 2 to 3 quart casserole (such as a Staub cocotte). Place in the oven and turn it on to 250ºF and bake for 1 hour. Turn the heat down to 220ºF and continue to cook until the beans are tender but not falling apart. Check on the beans every hour and then more often when they start to soften. Don't let them boil.

When the beans are done remove them from the oven, remove the lid and allow them to cool in their broth. They can be done ahead and refrigerated overnight in their broth. Remove the kelp or not, after 6 hours it will be falling apart and will just disappear into the sauce of the finished dish without leaving a noticeable flavor.

For the stew:

1 ounce dehydrated sliced zucchini
1 pound bulk pork sausage or ground pork
Olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
A pinch of ground cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon Oregano Indio
1 teaspoon dried fermented Aji Amarillo Grande pepper flakes
About 2 cups roasted tomatillos
About 8 ounces roasted and peeled green Anaheim peppers, coarsely chopped
About 2 teaspoons or more piloncillo sugar (or brown sugar) or to taste
Creme fraiche and grated cheese to serve

Place the zucchini in a bowl and add enough of the bean broth to cover generously. Set aside and allow it to soak. This can be done a few hours in advance but that long is not necessary.

Heat a large enameled cast iron casserole over medium heat. Break up the sausage with your hands and add it to the casserole with a splash of olive oil and cook until browned, breaking it up more with a wooden spatula as it cooks. Turn the heat up near the end to cook off most of the juices. Drain the cooked sausage, reserving the fat, and set the sausage aside. Return the fat to the casserole and add more olive oil and heat it over medium heat. Saute the garlic briefly and then add the onion, continue to cook until the onion is translucent. Add the cumin, cinnamon, Oregano Indio, and pepper flakes to the casserole and stir a minute or so. Add the tomatillos and break them up with a potato masher. Add the peppers, the zucchini with their soaking liquid, and the pork. Bring to a simmer, cover the casserole, and cook until the zucchini is just al dente. Add the beans with their remaining broth and the sugar. Bring back to a simmer and heat through. Taste for sugar and salt.

Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche and a sprinkling of grated cheese, I used Carmody but a jack cheese would be nice too.

Made about 6 to 8 servings.