But the tomatoes are green. It's only almost summer. Almost time for barbecues and popsicles and sunsets on the beach.
It's getting close. I'm stocking up on sunscreen and skirts. And, for now, green tomatoes will do just fine.
Green Tomato & Honeydew Salad
Green tomatoes and honeydew might sound like an odd pairing, but this salad is bright and fresh and full of flavor. It's also gorgeous. An edible study in shades of green.
- 3 green tomatoes, chopped into bite sized chunks
- 1/2 honeydew melon, chopped into bit sized chunks
- 2 limes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 1 bunch scallions (about 4-5 scallions), sliced into thin rounds
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
In a large bowl, combine chopped green tomatoes and honeydew melon. Squeeze the juice from the limes over the fruit, and drizzle the olive oil on top. Throw in the cilantro, scallions, salt and pepper, and toss everything to combine. Sprinkle the feta cheese on top, and serve chilled or at room temperature.
This serves 2 people as a main course for lunch, or 4 as a monochromatic side dish, maybe to grilled chicken or a smoky BLT.
First, my littlest sister graduated from college. College, people. There she is, cute little Wisconsin badger ball of sass, in her cap and gown. If you see her, shout out some congratulations and then give her a teaching job.* And maybe a light punch in the arm, from me.
Secondly, I made carrot cake. I used this recipe, and I ate two pieces. I’d highly recommend doing the same, if you’re into carrot cake and need something to help alleviate the feeling of extreme oldness in light of your little sister’s college graduation.
Thirdly, fourthly and fifthly, I took a road trip, found inspiration in the form of some new friends in Minneapolis, and, oh yeah, am planning a redesign of this here nook of the internets.
See? Things. Happening.
I'm working with my lovely and talented friend Val to give this place a bit of a face lift. And by face lift, I really mean face transplant (they can do those now, I'm told). So, faithful reader, get ready for the new and improved olivejuiced, which will not in fact be called olivejuiced, but something else - a new name, one that makes me want to eat cookies. With milk. Excited? Me too.
So cheers, then - to triumphant ends and new beginnings. And all the cake we'll eat along the way.
*Since this post, Casey has been given a job. A really good one. I can only assume by one of my readers. Nicely done, team.
Peach Bellinis with Fresh Blueberries
Yes, this is a girly drink. So what? I'm a girl. Besides, it's delicious. And it's especially fun to sip one of these when you have nothing to celebrate, because it feels like, all of sudden, you do.
1 part peach juice or nectar
3 parts cold, dry prosecco or champagne
Pour peach juice one third of the way up a wine glass or champagne flute. Then fill the rest of the glass with prosecco or champagne, and toss in a few blueberries. Sip, sigh, repeat.
I think we should talk about something. Caramelized onions. Can we just agree right now that they smell of heaven above and bring happiness, justice and tranquility wherever they go?
Well. I made that stuff up about justice and tranquility. But the happiness part, and also the heaven scented bit, those are true. Empirically and emphatically true. The smell of onions caramelizing in a pan, that powerfully sweet yet grounding smell, the one that fills kitchens and minds with hints of something good to come -- is there any smell much better than that?
New babies, maybe. Or unicorns. I guess.
These particular onions, those ones right up there, ended up in a frittata. A caramelized onion frittata with feta cheese and herbs.
Frittatas, for those of you who are curious (or perhaps tend to skip brunch), is sort of the Italian version of an omelet. Made with eggs and usually some kind of vegetable or meat (frittatas are prime real estate for leftover meat and veggies), frittatas are different than omelets in that they're cooked through in the oven, instead of on top of the stove, and they're often served at room temperature, sliced into wedges or squares. An easy dish to throw together and one that takes well to being prepared ahead of time, the frittata is like a pocket Ace for a thankful kid on Mother's Day. Keep this one up your sleeve.
Caramelized Onion Frittata with Feta Cheese and Herbs
Some frittatas are made in a skillet (cast-iron works beautifully), started on the stove top and finished in the oven, but I poured my eggs right into a nonstick square brownie pan and baked it entirely in the oven. It came out beautifully - slightly blistered and crispy on top, soft and smooth inside.
- olive oil, to coat the bottom of skillet
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 6 small yellow onions, sliced thinly
- 8 eggs
- 1/4 cup milk or cream
- 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or 1 good handful)
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- kosher salt and cracked black pepper
- fresh parsley, finely chopped
- fresh chives, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
Coat the bottom of a medium large skillet with olive oil over medium heat, and add the butter. Once the butter has melted, add the sliced onions, and stir to coat with fat. Once the onions are coated and beginning to look translucent, season them with a pinch of salt and pepper, and turn the heat down to low. Cook the onions slowly, over low heat, stirring occasionally, until they begin to turn brown, or caramelize, about 30 minutes. Don't rush the onions. It takes time for their natural sugars to come out and develop that deep, sweet flavor.
Once the onions have caramelized, remove them from the heat and let them cool to room temperature. Once cooled, arrange the onions in an even layer at the bottom of an 8-inch square brownie pan (if the pan is NOT non-stick, be sure to coat the bottom and sides with butter or cooking spray).
Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk them vigorously, at least 30 seconds. Season them with salt and pepper, and add the milk or cream, shredded cheddar cheese and herbs, mixing well to combine. Pour the egg mixture on top of the caramelized onions, and top with the feta cheese (and one more sprinkling of herbs, if you're so inclined).
Bake the frittata in the oven at 400ºF for 20 - 30 minutes, or until the top has browned slightly and the center is just slightly jiggly when you shake the pan.
Let the frittata cool before cutting into squares for serving.
Makes 16 small frittata squares, or 9 large ones.
When I was little, I collected stickers. I got into a sticker rhythm. Puffy ones, fuzzy ones, scratch n' sniff. And those awesome, blueish greenish oily stickers. Remember those? Those guys were the emperors of the (very rigid and well known) hierarchy of stickers.
When I realized stickers weren't all that fun, I started a candle collection. Nearly burned down our house in seventh grade. Actually, it was my friend Jessie Olson who almost burned down our house with my candle collection in seventh grade, but I would never tell anyone that.
Recently, I've been in a cookies and soup rhythm. The rhythm goes like this: it's a steady hum of cookie dough, of little mounds rising in the oven, of crunchy, chewy oatmeal chocolate chips. A gentle swell of soup, of chopping leeks and stirring broth, and steam rising from the big silver pot. It's a nice rhythm to be in, I think. No matter the weather, or the day of the week, I want cookies and soup. Sometimes in that order. It's a rhythm, alright, and I like it. It feels soft and round and perfect, like a big, fat matzoh ball.
Aunt Lissie's Matzoh Ball Soup
Adapted from Ina Garten and Streit's Matzoh Meal
This soup. It makes me want to hug someone. It has a deep, chickeny flavor, which is offset by sweet carrots and mild, pillowy matzoh balls. It's just so full of love. It's warming and hearty, without being heavy or rich. Thanks to the recipe on the box of Streit's matzoh meal, Lissie's matzoh balls are lighter than air and fluffier than a blow-dried Pomeranian. They're substantial enough to fill you up but won't leave you with that heavy, hibernation-seems-like-a-nice-idea feeling.
- 1 whole chicken
- 2 medium onions, quartered
- 3 carrots, unpeeled and chopped
- 4 stalks celery, with leaves, chopped
- 2 parsnips, chopped
- 1 bunch fresh parsley
- 1 bunch fresh thyme
- 1 bunch fresh dill
- 4-5 cloves garlic, unpeeled & smashed
- 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
- 3 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 cup Matzo Meal (Aunt Lis uses Streit's)
- 4 large eggs
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- pinch ground pepper
- 1 1/2 cups carrots, chopped (you can also use whole baby carrots)
- 1/2 cups celery, chopped
- 1 tablespoons minced fresh dill
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- reserved chicken meat, shredded into bite-sized pieces
- salt and pepper, to taste
To make the stock, put the whole chicken, stock veggies, herbs and seasonings in a large stock pot. Add enough cold water to cover everything, and put it over high heat to bring to a boil. Once the water comes to a boil, lower the heat and simmer the stock, covered, for 40 minutes. Carefully, using kitchen tongs, remove the chicken from the pot. Let the chicken cool for about 20 minutes, until it's cool enough to handle. Remove the meat from the chicken, and place the bones and carcass back into the pot. Refrigerate the meat until ready to finish the soup.
Continue simmering the soup gently for two hours. Make sure that the soup doesn't come to a full boil, or else it will be cloudy. After two hours, remove the soup from the stock and strain it through a fine sieve or cheesecloth. Remove the solids and discard.
At this point, the broth can be put back on the stove (to finish the soup), or it can be left to cool and refrigerated, up to a week.
To make the matzoh balls, beat the eggs vigorously in a large bowl. Add water, oil, salt and pepper. Mix well. Add the matzoh meal and stir thoroughly to combine. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, and up to 1 hour.
Partially fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. Moisten hands with cold water and form matzoh meal mixture into balls, about 1 inch in diameter. Drop the matzoh balls into the water, and boil for 30 minutes. Drain on a paper-towel lined cookie sheet.
Note: At this point, the matzoh balls can be flash frozen, right on the cookie sheet (just remove the paper towels first). They store well in a zip-top bag in the freezer. To reheat, just drop them, frozen, into simmering stock and cook for about 20 minutes, until warmed through.
To finish the soup, reheat the stock in a large pot, bringing it to a simmer. (If you've refrigerated the stock and it's cold, skim off the layer of fat on top before adding the stock to your pot). Add carrots, celery, matzoh balls, and salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer the soup until the matzoh balls are warmed through (about 20 minutes, if they've been frozen). Add the reserved shredded chicken and simmer a few minutes more, until chicken has warmed. Add the fresh herbs, and serve immediately.
Makes about 4 quarts of soup, and 10-12 matzoh balls.
Today, I made some. I then ate approximately 4 of them, in rapid succession, and then felt approximately ill. But really, what was I supposed to do? My mother and her friends were sitting around our kitchen table, planning my cousin Laura's wedding shower and gabbing away about save the dates and "party flow" and napkin schemes. I love a good party, and I love Laura, but when it comes to bridal shower crockery, apparently I'm at a loss. Party flow. napkin schemes. What else could I do but shove warm cream scones down my gullet?
They're not hard to eat, these scones. They're fragile and flaky, and studded with tiny berries, bright and beautiful, like jewels in the sand. They smell of toasted butter and, though light and crumbling, feel satisfyingly heavy in your palm. That cream. And with a smear of soft butter and jam? You can forget all about napkin schemes. Which is just fine by me.
Berried Cream Scones
Barely adapted from Gourmet, March 1990
Cream scones are traditionally made with dried currants, I believe. I found a blend of dried berries at Trader Joe's called "Golden Berry Blend" with golden raisins, cherries, cranberries and blueberries, and found the resulting berry scones to be mildly awesome.
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons sugar, plus additional for sprinkling the scones (I used turbinado sugar for sprinkling)
- 1/2 cup dried berries (I used a mixture of dried cherries, cranberries, blueberries and raisins)
- 1 rounded teaspoon lemon zest
- 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 1/2 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing the scones
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
In the bowl of a stand mixer (if you don't have a stand mixer just use a medium-sized bowl), mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.
Add the dried berries and lemon zest, and mix to thoroughly combine.
Add the cold, cubed butter, and used the paddle attachment (or a pastry cutter or just two knives) to incorporate the butter into the flour mixture, until the butter pieces look about the size of lentils (or a bit larger).
Combine the cream, egg, and vanilla in a small measuring cup or mixing bowl. Pour the liquid into the flour butter mixture, and mix gently, until just combined. The dough will be shaggy and a bit crumbly - this is good. If you over-mix the dough, your scones will come out dense and tough, instead of light and flaky.
Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured counter top, and form it into a square about 3/4-inch thick. Use a sharp knife to cut the dough into squares (I got nine), and gently place the squares onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
NOTE: At this point, the scones can be put in the freezer, uncovered and right on their baking sheet, if you don't want to bake them immediately. I froze mine overnight and baked them off the next morning, from frozen. They work beautifully and this step saves you from having to wake up early to impress brunch guests.
Before baking, brush the scones with cream and sprinkle them with sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for about 12 - 16 minutes, or until golden brown.
Serve warm, with soft butter and jam.
Makes about 9 scones.