Obituary for Ozzy Price

Spring Haircut

We are sad to announce the passing of yet another of our pack on September 4th – Ozzy “Hoo Hoo” Price, Shih Tzu extraordinaire. He was  13 1/2. The passing of his buddy Ivan was just too much for him to bear in his old age.

Ozzy was adopted by Tom and his Dad when Oz was just 2 months old, the runt of his litter that no one thought would live because he had a heart murmur. I always joked with Tom that I married him for his dog. :-)

Ozzy was the proud father of two litters. He loved to do the “mad dog” run after his baths, and sat up like a gopher for treats. His facial expressions always entertained, and he always loved a comfy blanket to lay in. Oz would do anything for a Pup-peroni or pig’s ear. His begging was irresistible, having perfected the most pathetic expression possible. He LOVED his belly rubs.

Oz was known by many names including Hoo Hoo the Magnificent, Ozmundo, Pooh Bear, Scoobs, Budreaux, and Hoo Man. We have no idea where any of these came from, but that is the way of a dog’s nick name.

Ozzy is probably going to be spoiled rotten by Tom’s dad, on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge, being given lots of hand outs that he probably shouldn’t be given. He is joined by his pet-siblings Jabba and Ivan, and is also joined by his son Coby.

 

Eli Zabar’s Country Bread

As a native New Yorker, one knows that Zabar’s makes the best bread. Last weekend or so I watched Barefoot Contessa, where Eli Zabar showed the process for his Country Loaf. The process is really straightforward (and relatively hands off) and yields two delicious loaves that look straight out of your local bakery. The bread itself is soft and with a firm but not overly crusty crust. Of course you can do whatever you please with it, but our current favorite is to eat it with a slather of Biscoff Cookie spread (yes, a spread made out of those delicious cookies you get on the plane).

image

(Click the link above to go directly to the recipe)

Zucchini Three Ways – Part 1: Zucchini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Not a lot of people get excited for zucchini. Most times I hear about it being bland and uninteresting, but I am here to challenge that assertion!

Last year one of my teammates joked (as he gave me three monstrous zucchini) that most gardens here are overrun with the things, and that from time to time the odd person can find a car load of zucchini as a joke. About 2 weeks ago I arrived to find two gigantic zucchini on my chair, and knew immediately who they were from! Each zucchini weighed about 30 oz EACH! For someone who doesn’t have a garden (but wishes she did), a gift of produce is a true gift, but I will admit that I didn’t ever get around to using last year’s before they went bad.

I did have to figure out how to use 5 lbs of zucchini though.

For the first event, we have Sweet Zucchini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting:

image

Really delicious! The cake is flavorful, and you would never know there is zucchini in it, save for the odd speck of skin. To dispatch the zucchini quickly, I used my trusty Cuisinart food processor. And don’t forget to sift, sift, and sift again. I used Martha Stewart’s Sweet Zucchini Cupcake recipe for the cake (omitting the nuts as they were for a party). Also, and as another hint, I use an ice cream scoop to scoop my batter, which ensures the cupcakes have a fairly consistent size among them.

For the cupcakes:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, (sifted, spooned and leveled)
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
zucchini (10 ounces), coarsely grated (1 1/2 cups)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cups of a standard (12-cup) muffin tin with paper or foil liners. Set aside. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Mix in nuts.

In another bowl, combine zucchini, oil, eggs, and vanilla; add to flour mixture, and mix just until combined (do not overmix). Divide batter evenly among cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.

Cool in tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes; turn cupcakes out, right side up, and cool completely. Meanwhile, make frosting.

*******

For the frosting, you will need 1 lb of room temperature butter, 3- 8oz packages of cream cheese at room temperature, and 1 lb of powdered/confectioners sugar, as well as a splash of vanilla extract.

Beat the butter, cream cheese, and confectioners sugar together until combined (start slow or you will wind up wearing most of the sugar!), and then add vanilla extract to taste. Frost with either an off set spatula, or with a piping tip of your choice. You will definitely have more frosting than you need, so you can either halve the recipe, or store the frosting in the fridge for another dessert.

Wipocalypse, August 2014

I’m baaaack…

I stopped doing Wipocalypse for a few months because I was focused on the “mystery” piece I was writing about. How dull must it be to keep reading, “I can’t show you, but trust me! It’s getting there!”. Well, it’s done! “Where’s the picture?”, you might ask. Ha! You didn’t think it would be that simple, did you? Tune in on December 26th to see my reveal. Otherwise your only clue is my monthly ORT post.

In any event, just as I was finishing up my piece, I ran out of 3371. I only needed a few more back stitches, so I rummaged through my current WIPs to scavenge some. MLI’s Celtic Banner screamed out to me as I opened the Iris box, so that is what I decided to pick up and work on again. Everything you see in this picture is new since I restarted (well, I take that back… Part of the blue striated flowers are new and then everything above it):

image

I didn’t have a chance to work on it too much this weekend, since I was involved in deep cleaning and then had no stitching place since we moved the furniture for the carpet cleaners. For the comparison (before) picture, check here.

And now for the question of the month, which is what your oldest and newest WIPs are. My oldest WIP is currently either Dragon Dreams’ “A Little Privacy” or “Mushroom Tabernacle Choir “, I’m not sure which. I take a bubble bath without fail every Sunday evening, so it is meant to hang in the bathroom when I am done. I really am so close to finishing it, but other things call my name louder. Meh. Both WIPs are about 10 years old, meaning that I got them to their present state about 10ish years ago, and then haven’t worked on them since. That was about the time I discovered Mirabilia and MLI, and picked up several of those designers for several years straight.

Hot Off The Grill – a Sur LaTable Cooking Class

A week ago my work team went to Sur La Table for a grilling class, which was so fun. I made a few dishes from the menu for dinner this weekend: Grilled Nectarine and Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese Crumbles and Grilled Marinated Pork with Plum Chutney. It is the perfect summer menu, using great produce from the farmer’s market!

Salad:

image

2 tsp Dijon mustard
3 tbs honey
2 tbs lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbs vegetable oil
2 ripe nectarines, halved and pitted
4 cups arugula, trimmed, washed, and dried
1/2 cup soft goat cheese

In a medium bowl, use a whisk to combine the mustard, honey, and lemon juice. While whisking vigorously, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until emulsified. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

Prepare a medium-high charcoal fire, preheat a gas grill to medium high, or heat a large grill pan over medium high heat. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the grill with vegetable oil.

Carefully place the nectarines on the grill, cut side down, until grill marks appear, about 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and thinly slice, setting it aside.

Toss the arugula leaves with enough vinaigrette to lightly coat the leaves. Divide between four salad plates, and then arrange the nectarines over, then adding goat cheese.

Grilled marinated pork with plum chutney:

image

1 Tbs olive oil
1 medium shallot, finely minced
1/2 cup firmly packed golden brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbs minced garlic
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp minced ginger
1/4 cup water
4 red plums, pitted and cubed

2 tbs minced fresh rosemary
2 tbs minced fresh thyme
2 tbs olive oil, divided
4 – 8-10oz 1″ thick bone in pork chops
2 tbs vegetable oil

For the chutney, add oil to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until shallot begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Add brown sugar, cider vinegar, garlic, mustard seeds, ginger, and water. Using a wooden spoon, stir mixture until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Stir in the plums, and reduce heat to a simmer, cooking, stirring occasionally until the fruit is soft and sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes. Taste, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

For the pork, in a small bowl, combine rosemary and thyme with 1 tbs olive oil. Rub the mixture all over the pork chops and season with salt and pepper. Marinate at room temperature, about 20 minutes.

Prepare a moderate charcoal fire for indirect grilling or preheat a gas grill to medium, leaving one burner unlit. Place a grill pan on the stove over a medium high heat. Use a pastry brush to lightly brush pan with oil.

Set the chops directly over the coals or gas flame, and brown on both sides, turning once about 3-5 minutes per side. Transfer to indirect heat or lower temperature slightly on the stove, cover the grill and cook until an instant read thermometer registers 145° for medium rare, about 10 minutes. Remove the pork from the heat and allow to rest for about 10 minutes, tented with foil.

Lidia Bastianich’s Beef Braised in Beer

At work last week we did the Stand Out test, and in my results it confirmed something that I already know, which is that I need quiet rumination time – time to just think and process and ponder over things that have happened, in order it make sense of them. I realized that is a huge reason I gravitate toward cooking, baking, and needlework – they give me that quiet meditation time.

And so, after a stressful two weeks between work and home (plus the fact that it has been unseasonably cool and rainy here), I found myself gravitating toward making a hearty, warm braised beef dish (with pomme puree, natch). There is something so comforting in dishes like this… they envelop you in the food version of a warm blanket on the sofa while the rain drizzles outside and the TV runs softly in the background. It seemed too appropriate to meditate over the creation of this dish; comfort foods to bring peace of mind. If you need a little peace of mind, I would recommend trying this one:

image

Beef Braised in Beer – Lidia Cooks From the Heart of Italy

Ingredients

4 ounces thick-sliced slab bacon, cut in chunks
3 medium onions, cut into chunks (about 3 cups)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
A 4-to- 5- pound boneless beef shoulder roast (preferably a “top blade” or “top chuck shoulder” roast)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 sprigs fresh thyme, tied in a bundle with kitchen twine
3 cups (two 12-ounce bottles) flavorful beer or ale
About 6 cups light stock (chicken, turkey, or vegetable broth), or as needed
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Preparation

Beef chuck, or shoulder, offers excellent cuts for stews and braises, because the meat is extremely tasty and, over long cooking, all the connective tissue adds flavor and body to the dish. For this braise, I especially like the compact chunk of meat cut off the top of the shoulder blade, which is known by many names, including “top blade” or “top chuck shoulder” or “flat iron.” This piece is usually sliced and packaged as steaks, but ask your butcher to give you a whole top blade, as a roast. The more common beef chuck or shoulder roast, which comes from the underside of the shoulder, would be fine in this recipe, too. (It might be called “chuck pot roast” or “underblade chuck.”)

You will need a food processor; a heavy 6-quart ovenproof pot, such as enameled cast iron, with a cover.

Arrange a rack in the center of the oven with room for the covered braising pan, and heat to 375 degrees.

Put the chunks of bacon and onion and a teaspoon of the salt in the food processor, and mince together into a fine-textured pestata.  Trim the beef of fat, and sprinkle all over with salt, using another teaspoon in all. Spread the flour on a plate and dredge the roast thoroughly, coating all surfaces, then shake off any excess.

Pour the olive oil into the big pan, and set it over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes, then lay the roast in the hot oil. Brown the beef well, turning it every few minutes to sear another surface, until nicely colored all over, about 10 minutes.  Push the meat to one side of the pan, drop the pestata into the pan, and stir and cook it on the pan bottom until it has dried out and just begins to stick, about 5 minutes.

Move the meat back to the center of the pan, drop in the bundle of thyme sprigs, and pour the beer in around the roast. Bring the beer to a boil, stirring and scraping up any brown bits from the pan bottom. Pour in enough stock so the braising liquid comes halfway up the sides of the roast, and sprinkle the remaining teaspoon salt all over.

Cover the pan, and bring the liquid quickly to a boil, then set it into the heated oven. After 2 hours, lift the cover, drop the 3 tablespoons mustard into the braising liquid, stir carefully, cover again, and braise another hour.

Remove the cover, and continue the oven-braising, stirring the bottom of the pan occasionally, as the sauce reduces and concentrates. When it has thickened to a good consistency-it should take another 30 minutes or so-carefully take the pan out of the oven.

Lift the meat onto a cutting board and cut it crosswise into ½-inch- thick slices. Fan the slices on a warm platter, skim off any fat from the surface of the pan sauce, and ladle some of it over the meat.

Serve right away, passing more sauce at the table.