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!

Brussels Sprouts Galette

Brussels Sprouts Galette
The Brussels Sprouts Challenge, aka What To Do With A Glut of Brussels Sprouts, continues. This time I adapted another favorite basic preparation, a savory galette, to feature the tasty mini cabbagy things. Being a rather lazy cook I decided to try making it without first cooking the Brussels sprouts, an additional advantage to that, to my thinking, would be that the sprouts wouldn't get overcooked. And the decision paid off. The shredded sprouts wilted down but didn't become mushy and strong tasting. I also thought that some apple would add a nice flavor and indeed it did, it added a touch of tangy sweetness that I like with Brussels sprouts but it was not overwhelming. Actually, I didn't tell my husband that I had put apple in the filling and he didn't seem to notice. He did declare the galette a winner.

1 recipe whole wheat pastry dough
4 ounces red onion, sliced about ¼ inch thick
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pinch of salt
4 ounces or about 1/2 large Pink Lady apple, cored but not peeled
3 tablespoons creme fraiche
8 ounces Brussels sprouts
2 jumiper berries, minced
Freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon pepper flakes
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces Comte or Gruyere cheese, grated
1 tablespoon or more heavy cream or 1 egg white lightly beaten

Prepare the pastry dough and chill it while preparing the galette filling.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Saute the onion with a pinch of salt in the olive oil over medium heat until softened, just a few minutes. Set aside to cool.

Dice the apple into 1/4-inch cubes and toss it with the creme fraiche in a large bowl.

Slice the Brussels sprouts 1/8-inch thick on a mandoline. Toss the sprouts with the apple mixture, juniper berries, a few swipes of nutmeg, pepper flakes, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. It is easiest to mix it all together with your hands.

Roll the pastry into a 14-inch circle. Don't worry about the edges, it's a rustic galette and the rough edges look nice. Transfer the dough to a sheet of parchment paper set on a rimless baking sheet. Arrange the Brussels sprouts mixture evenly over the dough leaving about 2 inches empty all around. Scatter the onions over the top and then the cheese. Fold the edges up over the filling pleating the dough as you go. Brush the top of the dough with the cream or egg white.

Bake the galette in the middle of the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes until the pastry is crisp and browned and the filling has settled and browned a bit also. Check the galette after about 20 minutes and if it seems to be browning too quickly turn the heat down to 375ºF.

Transfer the galette on the parchment paper to a cooling rack to cool briefly before slicing. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Whole Wheat Galette Dough

This dough has become my favorite for making free form savory galettes. I like to use either freshly ground Sonora wheat or Jamu Jamu whole wheat flour that a vendor at my local farmer's market sells. Whole wheat pastry flour is available at my local market. You can also just use all-purpose flour, or white pastry flour, or a combination of white pastry flour and whole wheat flour (white whole wheat would be my preference but not necessary).

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 to 1/2 cup ice water

Mix the flour, salt, sugar, and butter together in a bowl. Cut the butter in with a pastry cutter, leaving pea-sized pieces. Sprinkle the water over the top and toss the mixture together, it will still be quite crumbly and not form a ball. Turn the mixture out onto a surface and gently knead the mixture together until it forms a rough dough, there should be chunks of butter still visible, it helps to use a dough scraper. Press the dough into a disk and wrap it in waxed paper. Refrigerate the dough for an hour before rolling it out. Roll it into a 14-inch circle to make a 12-inch galette.

Brussels Sprouts Skillet Souffle

The Brussels Sprouts Challenge continues with this souffle that I adapted from a recipe for a skillet souffle that's packed with herbs. It's not a traditional souffle made with a flavored sauce base, it's more of puffy omelet or frittata. It is more simple to make than a true souffle and goes together very quickly. A skillet souffle is very adaptable to a host of flavorings. In this one I've shredded the Brussels sprouts and stirred them into the base raw so that they end up barely cooked and bright green. Dave declared this delicious and I'm sure I'll be making it again.

2 generous tablespoons fine dry breadcrumbs
3/8 cup milk
6 large eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
6 large Brussels sprouts
1/2 cup sliced green onion tops
1/2 cup shredded Comte cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons butter

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Warm the milk and stir it into the bread crumbs in a large bowl and let them soak until they become pasty, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the egg yolks, salt, and pepper.

Finely slice the Brussels sprouts on a mandoline, about 1/8-inch thick. Add them to the egg yolk mixture along with 1/2 of the cheese, stir to combine thoroughly.

Just before you are ready to cook the souffle, place a 10-inch ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Beat the egg whites until they form very soft peaks. Scoop the whites into the yolk mixture and quickly fold them in. Add the butter to the skillet and allow it to sizzle but not brown. Pour the batter into the pan and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Immediately put the skillet on the middle rack of the oven and bake the souffle for 15 to 17 minutes, or until it is puffed and deeply browned.

Serve it right away, spooned from the skillet, or at room temperature cut into wedges.

Makes 2 to 3 servings.

Lemony Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad

For a long time I had my doubts about a raw Brussels sprouts salad, I thought the raw sprouts would be too strongly flavored. But a glut of homegrown sprouts had me looking for something new to do with them so I took the plunge and gave the raw sprouts a try. Perhaps the success of this recipe is because I used sprouts that were growing in the depth of winter and had been sweetened up by a few freezing nights plus they were super fresh. Or perhaps the assertive flavors of lemon juice and Parmesan cheese outcompete with the strong flavor of raw sprouts. I don't know, but the salad is addictively delicious. If you like a shredded kale salad then I highly recommend trying a shredded Brussels sprouts salad.

1/2 pound very fresh Brussels sprouts, weighed after trimming
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice or regular lemon juice but a little less
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Use a mandoline to shred the Brussels sprouts into 1/8-inch slices. Toss the sprouts, cheese, and almonds together, then toss with the lemon juice and olive oil. Taste for salt, it probably isn't necessary because of the salty cheese. Serve immediately with a grinding of black pepper.

Makes 2 to 3 servings.

Variations that I may try:
- substitute pecorino cheese for the Parmigiano or use a combination
- substitute toasted hazelnuts, pecans, pepitas, pine nuts, or walnuts for the almonds
- add citrus segments such as blood oranges, grapefruit, or pomelo
- add some anchovy and garlic for a Caesar salad flavor and don't forget the croutons

Backcountry Brussels Sprouts and Carrot Salad

Detailed Method:

To slice the vegetables use a mandoline to get consistently thick slices so that they dehydrate at the same rate. I have a very easy to use and inexpensive Benriner mandoline (from Japan) that can slice up to 1/8-inch thick slices. For thicker slices I use a big stainless steel mandoline made by Bron in France - it can slice up to 1/4-inch thick.

I used cherry flavored balsamic vinegar because I like the flavor of cherries with brussels sprouts, but regular balsamic is fine also.

Note also that I did not blanch the sprouts first, they are shredded raw and dehydrated raw.

For the Brussels Sprouts
12 ounces washed and trimmed brussels sprouts, leave a bit of stem to hold when shredding
1 tablespoon cherry balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt

I used my Benriner mandolin to shred the sprouts 1/8-inch (3 mm) thick. Toss the shredded sprouts with the balsamic and arrange them in a thin layer on parchment paper or a silicone mat on the dehydrator tray. Sprinkle the shredded sprouts with the salt and dry at 125ºF (52ºC) until nearly crisp.I use a few paper clips to attach the paper to the mesh mat that sits on the tray to keep the paper from flopping around as the fan blows over the trays. My old circular dehydrator had fruit leather trays which might work, but I found that food tends to stick to them.

For the Carrots
6 ounces fresh carrots, scrubbed, peeling is not necessary
1 teaspoon cherry balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Shred the carrots on the coarse holes of a box grater. Then use the same method as for the brussels sprouts.

For the Onions
3.5 oz. sweet red onions
1 teaspoon cherry balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Use a mandoline to slice the onions 1/8-inch (3 mm) thick. Then use the same method as for the brussels sprouts.

Store the dried vegetables in airtight bags or jars.

To make the salad. Combine the dried vegetables in a heavy duty resealable bag, add hot water a bit at a time until the vegetables stop readily absorbing the water. Seal the bag and let the vegetables sit until they have cooled. Shake the bag every once in a while to distribute any remaining water over the vegetables. When it's time to serve the veggies add some chopped dried tart cherries, a splash of red wine vinegar and drizzle with olive oil. I didn't measure those ingredients, I just seasoned the salad to my taste. Serve with some toasted salted sunflower seeds.

Makes 2 to 3 servings.

I did weigh the vegetables after they were dry and here's the results:

12 ounces* fresh sprouts = 1.8 ounces dried
6 ounces fresh carrots = .8 ounces dried
3.5 ounces fresh onions - .7 ounces dried

*The fresh shredded sprouts were a bit less that 12 ounces because the stems from the whole sprouts got discarded.

Yes! 3.3 ounces of veggies are so much easier to carry in my backpack than 1.3 pounds! (94 grams dried vs. 610 grams fresh)

I definitely like the way the brussels sprouts rehydrated and I'm going to experiment a but further with the salad, using apple cider vinegar and dried apples for another version, perhaps a bit of cinnamon too. I also like dried currants with brussels sprouts so I will try another version with those and some regular balsamic and some toasted almonds or pine nuts. I think the dried shredded sprouts would also be great used in a warm rice or couscous pilaf.

Green Quinoa Pilaf

This recipe is inspired by a dish that I used to make years ago. It's based on a rice dish that is somewhat like risotto which I converted to a baked rice recipe. I'm not eating much rice anymore, especially the white rice that this recipe calls for. But Dave has fondly recalled Green Rice many times and fairly recently, so when I had the convergence of a big bag of quinoa, yet another harvest of spinach, loads of spring onions that needed to be thinned out of the onion patch, and a big bunch of bolting cilantro this dish popped into my head.  I weighed the greens as I went and rounded to the closest whole amount for the recipe, the volume measurement is what the recipe called for but I just eyeballed it. Really, the precise amount is not important, use more or less depending on what you have or what you like.

Quinoa is one of the few vegetable sources of complete protein, it has all nine essential amino acids. It's a pseudograin, meaning it's a seed that is used like a grain but technically true grains come from grasses (monocots) and quinoa comes from a broadleaf plant (dicot). But healthy eating aside, quinoa is delicious and I think it outdoes its refined polished cousin rice in this dish.

To convert it to a rice dish just substitute a like amount of white rice but increase the baking time, it may take about 45 minutes. The original recipe called for parsley instead of cilantro, substitute a like amount of parsley for the cilantro.

2 tablespoons olive oil  (about 30 ml.)
4 tablespoons butter  (about 55 g.)
4 oz./115 g. minced scallions (about 1 cup)
2 oz./55g. minced cilantro  (about 1 cup)
8 oz./225 g. finely chopped spinach  (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 ½ cups quinoa  (9 oz./255 g.)
1 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1 ½ cups hot chicken stock  (.35 liter)
Crescenza cheese (aka Stracchino), or Parmigiano

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Butter a 1 ½ to 2 quart size casserole. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and set aside. Heat the olive oil and the other 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium sized saute pan over medium heat. Saute the scallions until they soften, stir in the cilantro and then the spinach, stir until the spinach wilts. Add the quinoa, salt, and black pepper to taste, stir to incorporate into the greens. Turn the quinoa and greens mixture into the casserole, add the hot stock, drizzle with the melted butter. Cover the casserole and place it in the hot oven. Bake about 30 minutes, or until the quinoa has absorbed the stock and is tender.

Serve hot with thin slices of the cheese placed on top, it should get melty from the heat of the hot pilaf, if not, run it under the broiler briefly. Serve immediately.

Makes 3 to 4 servings.

Note: Crescenza is an oozy soft ripened cow's milk cheese that doesn’t have a rind. A generous dusting of Parmigiano would be good instead, that's what is called for in the rice version.

Spiced Parsnip Soup

I wanted something like a curry powder for the seasoning for the soup but didn't want a lot of turmeric and didn't want it to be hot so I made up this spice blend. Just use a tablespoon of curry powder if you prefer.

For the spice mixture:
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon dried green coriander seed
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seed
1 black cardamom pod
1/2 stick (about 1 1/2 inches) canela cinnamon (Mexican cinnamon)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

For the soup:
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
Rice bran oil
1 large white onion, diced
Salt to taste
30 oz. parsnips, peeled and cubed
1 quart chicken stock
1/2 cup creme fraiche or heavy cream
about 1/2 cup, more or less, water

Grind the whole spices in a spice mill to a fine powder. Add the ground ginger and turmeric and mix well. Measure out 1 tablespoon of the mixture for the soup.

Pour the oil into a small saucepan to a depth of about 1 inch. Heat the oil to about 350ºF. Fry the shallots until dark brown and crisp. Carefully pour the shallots and oil through a heat proof sieve, reserving the oil. Spread the shallots out on paper toweling to cool.

Heat a few tablespoons of the reserved shallot oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the spice mixture and allow it to sizzle for a minute or so until it is fragrant - don't let it burn. Add the diced onion and a large pinch of salt to the pan, stir, cover the pot and turn the heat down. Allow the onions to sweat, stirring a few times, until they are translucent. Add the parsnips and stock to the pot, cover and cook gently until the parsnips are tender. Use a wand blender to puree the soup or transfer it in batches to a blender and blend until smooth. Blend in the creme fraiche and add water if the soup seems to thick. Taste for salt.

Serve, garnished with some of the fried shallots.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Parsnip & Mushroom Flans

I've adapted this recipe from Georgeanne Brennan's in her book The Vegetarian Table: France. I baked the flan in individual dishes rather than one large one and added cheese and changed the ratio of milk and cream, and changed the oven temperature and baking time. That's enough changes that I can call this recipe my own, but thanks Georgeanne for the inspiration.

4 tablespoons butter, plus additional for buttering the dishes
½ cup minced yellow onion
½ cup minced fresh mushrooms
3 eggs
1 cup whole milk
½ cup creme fraiche or heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup minced fresh parsley
1½ cups peeled and grated parsnips
4 ounces grated truffle Gouda or other cheese

Option 1: substitute ham for the mushrooms

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Thoroughly grease 4 individual souffle dishes with butter, my dishes have interior dimensions of about 4 inches by 1.25 inches. In a small skillet, melt the 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. When it begins to foam, add the onion and mushrooms and sauté, stirring often, until the onion is translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, creme fraiche, and salt until well blended. In another bowl, mix together the onion-mushroom mixture, the parsley, and the grated parsnips. Portion the parsnip mixture into the prepared souffle dishes and top each one with 1 ounce of cheese. Divide the custard mixture amongst the dishes. Place the filled dishes on a rimmed baking sheet.

Bake until the tops are puffed and golden and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve immediately or let cool slightly. They can be kept in the refrigerator in the dishes and reheated in the oven or microwave.

Green Chile Pudding Soufflés

I used a recipe for sweet corn pudding soufflés as a template for this preparation. This was a great way to use up a package of the frozen roasted Sonora Anaheim chile peppers from my garden. One thing that is really convenient about pudding souffles as opposed to regular poofy souffles is that most of the preparation can be done in advance. The pudding soufflés are baked twice, the first baking can be done hours in advance of serving them. For the final bake the puddings are removed from the ramekins that they were baked in, placed on a baking sheet or oven proof serving dish, then baked with some cream until they are warm and puffy. These make a great first course or a vegetarian main dish. We enjoyed them as a main dish accompanied by a green salad.

About 14 oz. roasted peeled seeded green Anaheim peppers, chopped
2 cups whole milk
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons Oaxacan Green cornmeal, or use 4 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon Oregano Indio, or dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, separated
2 1/2 ounces Mount Toro Tomme, finely grated, an aged dry Jack would be a good substitute
1/2 cup heavy cream or Crème fraiche
Smoked paprika

Blend half of the peppers with half of the milk in a blender or with a wand blender to make a smooth puree. Blend in the rest of the milk.

Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large saucepan, add the cornmeal and stir to mix, Allow to cook gently for a few minutes until the cornmeal becomes fragrant. Whisk in the pepper mixture until blended and smooth. Bring to a simmer. Allow the mixture to cook gently, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes, until thickened. Season with the oregano, cumin, and salt.

Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining butter. Stir in the egg yolks one at a time. Stir in the cheese and stir until the cheese has melted. Stir in the remaining chopped peppers. Transfer to a large bowl and allow the soufflé base to cool a bit.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Butter 7 or 8 ramekins, be sure to get the rims, and place them in a baking dish.

Beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks and gently fold them into the soufflé base. Ladle the mixture into the ramekins, filling them to the rims. Pour in enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Place the dish with the ramekins in the oven. The little soufflés should take about 30 minutes to cook, but check after 20 minutes in case there are hotspots in your oven. When done, the soufflés should be puffed up and brown on top. Immediately remove them from the oven, take them out of the water bath, and allow them to cool. The soufflés will fall. They can be made up to this point several hours in advance of serving.

Ten minutes before the soufflés are to be served, turn them out of the ramekins and place them, right side up, in individual gratin dishes that have been smeared with a spoonful of crème fraiche or use one large baking dish. Top each soufflé with another spoonful of crème fraiche. Put the baking dishes in the oven for about 8 minutes, or until the cream is bubbling slightly and the soufflés have swelled up. Remove the soufflés from the oven. If they've been baked on one large dish place each one on a warm serving plate and pour the cream from the baking dish over the soufflés. Shake some smoked paprika over all and serve immediately. 

Note: The soufflés were looking close to finished at 20 minutes but were still quite jiggly. They continued to puff up over the next 10 minutes. At 30 minutes they were still somewhat jiggly but quite brown on top. Perhaps I'll cover them with a sheet of aluminum foil for the last 10 minutes the next time I try the recipe, either that or reduce the oven temperature to 375ºF. They seemed to be baked enough though and once cooled they came out of the ramekins fairly easily, I scooped out the little bit of souffle that stuck to the bottom and placed in the gratin dish and plopped the souffle on top.  It came out great.

20 minutes
25 minutes
30 minutes

The corn soufflé recipe called for 6 ramekins of an unspecified size. I guess my ramekins were too small, I had to enlist a 7th one of a different shape and still had a spoonful of mixture left. My ramekins hold 7 ounces when filled to the rim, that other one holds a bit more and it has a rim with an outward curving lip which made for a different shaped top. I like the effect with the straight rim. Next time I'll probably make eight slightly smaller souffles with the straight sided ramekins.

Faux Merkén

Dave and I were in Chile earlier this year hiking in Torres del Paine National Park. Every evening, whether we were dining in the dining room at the EcoCamp or dining in one of the refugios along The Circuit, there was a bowl of Merkén (or Merquén) to be found on the table. Merkén is a chile pepper blend made by the indigenous Maupche tribe for ages but which has recently become a popular seasoning enjoyed throughout Chile. I found myself requesting it every morning to spice up the bland scrambled eggs that we were served to fuel us for the day's hike. Scrambled eggs are not one of my favorite things, but with a dash of Merkén and a slice of cheese on top of the usually blah toast, breakfast became something more than just fuel for the trail.

Unfortunately we spent all of our time in Chile in the park so there wasn't an opportunity to shop and stock up on a stash of Merkén to take home. When I got home I did a bit of research, which started with trying to figure out what the name of the spice blend is. That took a bit of rooting around on the web but I finally found what I was looking for. Merkén is made in two basic formulations, natural - which is just ground chiles and salt, or especial - which is ground chiles with salt and coriander seeds and sometimes cumin and oregano, and sometimes other ingredients like bay and garlic.

What really makes Merkén unique is the chile peppers and how they are prepared. Aji Cacho de Cabra (Goat Horn Peppers) are the peppers grown by the Mapuche. The peppers are harvested green, allowed to ripen, then sundried, and then finally smoked over a wood fire. I wanted to make my own version of Merkén, it would certainly not be authentic, but I craved that same lovely flavor of sweet spicy salty peppers and sweet and earthy spices. The Wikipedia article on Merkén says that the typical ratios for the especial mix are 70% peppers, 20% salt, and 10% coriander seed. And then I recently found a couple of Merkén recipes in Maricel Presilla's book Gran Cocina Latina, where she recommends using dried New Mexico chiles. I have loads of dried New Mexico chiles that I dried from my grand chile growing experiment last year. Maricel recommends using hot Spanish pimentón to lend spice and smoke to the blend, but I decided to us smoked sea salt instead. And to get the spice into the mix I used a mix of dried mild New Mexico chiles and dried Aleppo peppers (also from my garden). The result is fabulous.

I used very small quantities for my experimental batch, but I'm actually thinking that small is the way to go because the mix will lose it aroma quite quickly if it sits around - fresh is best. I also used my digitial scale which allows metric measurements, grams are so much more precise when working with small quantities.

Faux Merkén

17 g. dried seeded Zia Pueblo peppers (or any mild New Mexico type pepper)
4 g. dried seedless Aleppo peppers (or dried cayenne peppers)
6 g. smoked sea salt (Salish is good)
3 g. dried green coriander seeds

If the peppers are leathery they need to be crisped to grind properly, I placed mine on a baking sheet and put them in a 350º degree oven and then turned the heat off and let the peppers sit in the oven a few minutes, then removed them from the oven and let them cool on the baking sheet. They can also be toasted in a skillet or on a flat griddle, press the peppers onto the hot surface with a metal spatula until they are dry and slightly charred. I find it easy to burn the peppers with the griddle method so I dry mine in the oven.

Grind the salt and coriander seed together in a spice mill (coffee grinder) until fairly finely textured. Crumble the peppers into the mill and grind the mixture to whatever consistency you desire. I like it to be between fine and coarse, with pepper flakes and pieces of coriander still visible.

The mix is great on eggs, or used as a spice rub, sprinkled on vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, tossed with roasted nuts, or sprinkled on cheese. Hmm, it might even be good on a nice cold slice of melon. Cucumbers, tomatoes, and Merkén. A dash of Merkén on hummus. Merkén and chocolate? What might it not be good on?