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    Entries in flowers are food (11)

    Tuesday
    Jul032012

    for the dudes who kicked the most balls

    Now, you may not be aware of this, but Spain just won the World Cup. Of football.

     

    You know, the game where you kick a ball with your foot. And you're not allowed to use your hands. Because it's FOOTball.

    I grew up in a household that put everything on hold during World Cup season. I'd find my step-dad watching tv at odd hours of the night so he could catch the games live. The guys at his office would not be able to talk about plays he hadn't witnessed himself. As a kid with insomnia, I suddenly had a lovely excuse to sit up at 3 am and watch tv.

    I'm not a big soccer fan myself, but I know most of the jargon and I can understand the accents of the announcers. The guys at work though, they've had the tv on in the lunchroom all day so they wouldn't miss the games. Watching youtube vids of the latest plays at your desk is apparently entirely acceptable behaviour.

    And I promised them that I'd make cookies themed to the winner of the World Cup. Of football.

    Saffron Cookies

    Saffron is the most expensive seasoning on the planet. It's practically worth its weight in gold.

    Fortunately, you don't need much of it. I bought this little box for about 8 bucks at a specialty store, and it will last a while. This recipe only needs 1/8 of a teaspoon.

    It's got a distinctly floral aroma and flavour (makes sense, it comes from a flower) but there's this underlying earthiness to it that can be overpowering if you use too much (maybe that's because it's the flower's reproductive organs).

    And because I wanted to really make sure I had the mediterranean thing down, I decided I wanted to use olive oil in the cookies instead of butter.

    Apparently some dude name Mark Bittman already came up with this combo and is regarded as somewhat of a genius for doing so. His is nearly the only recipe you can find using both saffron and olive oil. So his is where I started.

    Here's my version:

    What you need:

    • 1/8 tsp saffron
    • 1 tbsp milk or cream
    • 1/2 c olive oil
    • 1 c sugar (victory should be sweet)
    • 2 tbsp lemon juice
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 c flour
    • 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • bit of salt

    What you gotta do:

    Start with the saffron. It's awesome.

    Warm the milk or cream in a small bowl. I used the microwave for 20 seconds at 60% power. Add the saffron. At first it just sits there, looking kinda weird and out of place.

    Give it a bit of a stir or shake and then let it sit while you do the next few steps.

    Combine the oil, lemon juice, and sugar in a big bowl. It kinda smells like salad dressing.

    Beat in the eggs. Definitely salad dressing-like. I mean, this is practically mayo! Mix this with a whisk, or your fancy batter beater for a good two minutes. You want it nice and golden. It won't ever really get 'fluffy' because the oil acts differently than softened butter does, but it does need a good beating. Kinda like Italy got.

    Check on your saffron.

    Holy hell is that yellow.

    Artificial colours have nothing on this shit. Plus, the smell and taste of this... a tiny drop on your tongue. Seriously, you have to do it. It's strong, almost overwhelming, when its that concentrated, but it's amazing. Flowers, the earth, it's almost metallic, like the taste of blood in your mouth, but sweet and floral at the same time. It suddenly makes sense how this tiny part of a flower stands up to savoury dishes and adds delicacy to sweet ones. 

    Pour your yellow gold into the oil and sugar mixture.

    Sift on the flour, baking powder, and the salt.

    You want to just barely mix these.

    The dough is very soft, much more like a batter than your typical drop cookie. So I chilled mine for about 10 minutes. The consistency is perfect after a bit of time in the fridge. It's also freaking yellow.

    I used a 1 tsp measuring spoon to scoop the dough onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Smaller cookies means you can fit more on the sheet and they'll cook faster. It's way too freaking hot to have the oven on.

    TIP: Put a big pot of cold water on the element when your oven vent is. Change the water with every batch of cookies. Cover the pot to prevent evaporation and you've got yourself a great little heat sink.

    I recommend sprinkling a little sugar over the top of these. An extra bit of sweet. If you're feeling particularly generous, use the back of your wooden spoon to grind a pinch of saffron into a couple teaspoons of sugar.

    The tiny threads make for a nice bit of decoration on what looks like a plain and bland cookie.

    But oh my, they are neither plain nor bland.

    It's a subtle, delicate flavour, but so distinctive, and almost surprising the first time you try them.

     What's your favourite sweet / savour cross over ingredient?

     

    Monday
    May212012

    Extreme DIY

    I'm not cooking.

    Well, I am. Last night we grilled crooknecks, reduced some wine, added butter, and tossed it all with pasta, chicken breast, basil, and cheese. Tonight, pork filling for tacos. I do like pork in tacos.

    I also made date muffins again (turns out the recipe actually works and wasn't a total fluke), and sauteed chard to go into biscuit pastry for lunchy spanikopita-type things.

    But I didn't take a single picture.

    But I did take pics of food. It's just that it's food in a somewhat less familiar format.

    The garden.

    Yes, food comes from dirt.

    And while Taneasha and I are fans of DIY cooking, Recipe Guy has gone one step further and is DIYing his own food.

    I've had gardens in the past, but right now I'm trapped in my student apartment without even a balcony on which to grill things. Man, I love food cooked on fire.

    So, as I said, we grilled crooknecks last night. But first we had to harvest them. Squashes are fuzzy, and the fuzz is sharp and sticks in your fingers like fibreglass.

    Tasty things always have ways of protecting themselves. Note that the broccoli has no thorns, no fuzz, no dangerous parts to navigate around. That's because it's not edible. Contrary to what his housemates seem to think.

    Behind the broccoli is the remnants of the iceburg lettuces. There was romaine too. There's red leaf on the way. There's also chard.

    A lot of chard. I'd already taken 2-4 leaves off each of those plants. That got me about 4 grocery store sized bundles of chard. Sautee that shit in bacon fat with a bit of browned onion... goes perfectly with fried chicken. Holy yum.

    I need to make fried chicken.

    Some would recommend frying these little green tomatoes,

    but I think I'll wait until the sun turns them red (better them than me) and then eat them warm off the vine.

    TIP: As soon as your tomato plant starts fruiting, defoliate it. Pervert, it means take the leaves off. If you remove the leaves around the fruits, the sun will ripen them faster and the plant will put more energy into fruiting since it no longer has leaves to feed.

    And, if you let your cilantro go to seed, you'll attract all kinds of flying insects that will help pollinate the rest of the garden,

    and those little green burrs in the bottom left are actually corriander seed, a component of garum masala. Let them dry, harvest them by putting a paper bag over the seed head, turn it upside down and shake; all the seeds fall into the bag. This works for dill seed too.

    If you're lucky, you'll have a neighbour with honey bees

    (can you see the bee butt in the flower?) who shares the hibiscus scented honey that results from his bees spending all their time in your bushes.

    Of course, if you have a garden you need a compost heap.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04Zz-GRPAzA

    (still don't know how to embed vids)

    Now, you may not end up with a blues-singing, advice-giving heap, but what you might get are a few volunteers. I don't think I've ever seen a compost heap that didn't have things growing in it.

    We're pretty sure this is a butternut squash.

    There are onions just to the left out of the frame too. Which is good because Mowing Man keeps mowing down the wild onions in the horse pature.

    Speaking of wild things, remember the wild beans that appeared last year during the drought? Well, if you let wild beans go to seed in your garden, they will happily come back and demand trellises the next year.

    How does your garden grow?