Sunday, July 29, 2012

christmas crafting in july

A while ago I was asked by a friend if I knew anyone who could knit him a couple of personalized christmas stockings. After thinking about it for a bit, I volunteered to knit them for him. We choose a simple pattern, I went to a local wool shop and picked out some lovely yarn and got knitting. It was a great project to have as I sat on the sidelines at swimming or tennis lessons.

The stockings are done and given to their owner and he is really pleased with them. I'm pleased with them as well. Now I have another one to knit up as my boy wants one now as well. And another friend may want a couple of her grandchildren now that she has seen the pictures.

I used a Patons pattern, available on line. The reindeer design was taken from a garnstudio design and made to fit the fewer stitches I had to work with so any aberations are entirely mine.

The tree was taken from a template online and again modified to fit the stitch area. The tree is decorated with french knots and an embroidered star.

The names are added on the cuff , bells were added as decoration and I braided the three colours together to form a hanger loop.

summer supper

This week suppers have been on the simple side, inspired by the summer produce available at the market and fruit stand.

The other night I made a quinoa salad from Dana - I used red quinoa, and halved the recipe as I only had 1/2 c of the quinoa and red lentils and it was plenty for two of us and some left over for lunch. It was delicious served alongside roasted summer vegetables - zucchini, shallots, red and orange pepper, green beans with fresh corn kernels added in the last two minutes of roasting.

Quinoa with lentils and feta (from Dana Treat)

1/2 tbsp butter
2 medium shallots, diced
1/2 c red quinoa
1/4 c dry white wine
1/2 c red lentils
3 oz feta cheese
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
salt, pepper and chili flakes

Over medium heat, saute the shallots in the melted butter with a dash of salt and pepper until the shallots start to brown. Stir in the quinoa and coat with the shallots and butter, then add the wine. Cook until the wine is mostly absorbed and then add 1/2 c water. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer, cover and let simmer for 15 minutes or until the liquid is all absorbed. Scrape into a bowl.

In a saucepan, cover the lentils with cold water. Bring to a boil, add a pinch of salt and reduce the heat and leave at a simmer. Cook until the lentils are tender but not mushy, about 10 minutes. Drain and add to the quinoa.

Stir in the olive oil and lemon juice, crumble in the feta and season with salt, pepper and a pinch of chili flakes.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

summer pizza

A wander into the garden today resulting in our first harvest of potatoes,

 one very fat zucchini

and a big bunch of sweet peas. 

I used the potatoes and zucchini as part of supper and the flowers add fragrance to my kitchen. Tonight's pizza was inspired by all the summer goodness I have in my kitchen today and by this post from David Lebovitz.

Summer Pizza

1 ball pizza dough (I used Whole Foods)
2 tbsp basil pesto
6 small new potatoes, sliced and roasted
1 medium fat zucchini, sliced and roasted
a handful of kalamata olives, chopped
a small handful of diced red onion
2 giant leaves of swiss chard, slivered
5 big spoonfuls of fresh chevre (I was lucky enough to get from our local organic market)
2 ears of corn, kernels removed (from the fruit stand, picked today)
grated parmesan cheese

Roll out the pizza dough to fit a large baking sheet. Brush the dough with pesto. Cover the dough with the sliced, roasted potato and zucchini, then add the olives fairly evenly. Pile on the chard, and onion. Crumble the chevre over the top, then add the corn and finally the grated parmesan cheese. Bake in a 375 deg F oven for 15 minutes, or until the crust is browned. Slice and serve.

Monday, July 23, 2012

tarts and pies

A few weeks ago I went on a pastry blitz making tart dough and sweet pastry dough, resulting in vegetable tarts and fruit galettes.

The vegetable tarts were inspired by lovely campari tomatoes at the fruit stand one night, so I bought a bunch. I came home and whipped up a double batch of tart dough resulting in one tomato tart and one zucchini tart so my husband and I could both have vegetable tart for dinner the following evening.

A couple of days later, I made a double batch of sweet pie dough and made one strawberry galette and one blueberry galette spurred on by this month’s market competition for best berry pie. The strawberry tart had too much liquid to submit (despite adding 2 tbsp tapioca starch), so I ended up submitting the blueberry tart and that came in third (behind 2 pies featuring strawberries!). But one vendor did say my pastry was the best, so I feel a bit better about coming in 3rd.  My husband loved the fact that the strawberry pie had been left behind as that meant pie for him.

All of these tarts and pies were to showcase the vegetable or fruit that was the main component and as such, they are all humble and lovely.

Blueberry Galette (this is the recipe I used to make the galette I made for the market competition)

1/2 c + 2 tbsp unbleached flour
1/2 c baking flour from the Flour Peddler (locally milled flour)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c butter, diced
2-4 tbsp water

In the bowl of a food processor, mix the flours, salt, sugar together until blended. Add in the cold butter and process in pulses until the butter is incorporated into the flour but still remains in small chunks. Add the vanilla and 2 tbsp water and pulse. Add more water, by tablespoon until the dough just comes together. Pour the dough out onto plastic wrap. Wrap and chill for at least 15 minutes. Roll out into desired shape.

Blueberry filling:
1 lb organic blueberrys (I get mine from Forstbauer Farms)
1/4 c sugar
zest of one lemon, finely grated
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2 tbsp tapioca starch

Mix the ingredients together and let stand for 10 minutes, adding more starch if there is too much liquid.

For the galette, roll out the dough into a circle about 12" across. Move to rest on parchment paper or a baking dish. Mound the blueberry filling in the middle of the dough, pushing it out to the edges, leaving 1-2" around the edges of pastry. Fold the pastry over the filling, pleating as required. Sprinkle the pastry with sanding sugar, if desired. Bake at 375 deg F for 30-45 minutes or until the pastry is browned and the filling is bubbly.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

july so far

Summer has taken a while to come to our parts this year. One night in late June, the boy and I drove home, eating cherries from the fruit stand, which is a sure sign of summer or would have been except for the rain and chilly days that followed over our holiday long weekend, each day wetter than the one before. It poured rain on the boy’s first day of summer camp and I anxiously watched the sky all day as the forecast said it would clear in the afternoon. And it did. In perfect time for the boy’s first tennis lesson. And everyday got better and better – sunny and warm.  Perfect for the boy to learn tennis all week and perfect for me to knit on the sidelines while he ran around.

Last week I took time off and spent the week as mummy chauffeur – driving the boy between morning skateboard camp

 and afternoon soccer camp

 with a picnic lunch (and ice cream)

 in between. Lovely. At the end of the week, the boy had a new soccer shirt, soccer ball and soccer poster, and a painted-by-him skateboard,

new skateboard pads and a lot of bandaids on arms and legs. In other words, it was a lovely week for him as well.

This week, it is back to work for me, but the boy’s fun continues at day camp. The highlights this week were a trip to the aquarium yesterday and a trip to the water park tomorrow (and DQ ice cream/beach/park today).

And we are loving the summer time fruit and veggies – strawberries, raspberries, cherries, peaches, tomatoes, zucchini, beans, peas, potatoes, peppers, blueberries, etc.