Category Archives: Cooking

Recipe: Maple-Sriracha Glazed Carrots.

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Good Morning:

Just in case you need something bright orange, vegan and zingy for your holiday table.

Maple-Sriracha Glazed Carrots

  • 1 lb. carrots cut into 2″ long quarter-inch thick julienne (or use 1 lb. of baby carrots)
  • 1 Tbsp. neutral flavored oil
  • Maple-Sriracha Glaze (see below for two versions)

I like my cooking time short because of a preference for very crunchy carrots. You may cook the carrots longer–it’s your stomach, make it your food.

Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium heat until it starts to shimmer.

Blanch the carrots in boiling water for 15 seconds, drain thoroughly.

Immediately add the carrots to the oil–watch out for splatter!–and stir until coated in oil. Keep cooking, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or if you prefer softer veggies, 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the glaze according to one of two versions:

I’m Nice with Spice

  • 1 tsp. Sriracha
  • 5 tsp. Maple Syrup
  • Salt and Pepper; OR

I Bring the STING

  • 1 Tbsp. Sriracha
  • 1 Tbsp. Maple Syrup
  • Salt and Pepper

Whichever glaze you choose, combine all ingredients into one bowl.

At the end of your preferred cooking time, scrape the glaze onto the carrots and stir until thoroughly coated. Keep cooking and stirring for at least one but no more then two minutes. Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl, and serve at once. Serves 4-6.

This yields a very small amount of glaze as I prefer only the thinnest coating on my carrots. You may choose to double either version.

Options: Use toasted sesame oil instead of a neutral oil. Add 1/2 tsp of Chinese Five Spice blend to the glaze. Or both.

Vonn Scott Bair

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Crostini, 26 September 2015. (Weekly Photo Challenge: Change)

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Good Afternoon:

Or, my first foray into food porn.

Before:

Before Broiling, Just Salt, Pepper and Olive Oil

Before Broiling, Just Salt, Pepper and Olive Oil

After:

After Broiling, Plain, No Garlic

After Broiling, Plain, No Garlic

Vonn Scott Bair

Recipe: Watermelon “Popsicles,” World’s Easiest Frozen Dessert.

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Good Evening:

Someone must have already thought of this. It’s too simple.

Start with a few slices of watermelon, about 3/4 – 1 inch thick. Your only ingredient.

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Cut each slice into quarters, like this:

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Stick the plate, uncovered, into the freezer for several hours and let the chunks freeze solid.

That’s it. You’re done. The texture is amazingly similar to frozen fruit popsicles, and you get a strong hit of watermelon flavor. In addition to dessert, you may use these to cleanse the palate between courses of a multi-course dinner. I’ve experimented with other melons, and Canary Melons are almost as good, but watermelon remains the best.

Vonn Scott Bair

Recipe: Three Basil-Mint Pestos, One Vegan, Two Vegetarian.

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Good Evening:

In my previous post, I described how I dealt with an overabundance of mint. But before I had the overabundance of mint, I had an overabundance of mint–plus an overabundance of basil.

Presenting how I got rid of that in a manner most pleasing to the stomach: Pesto.

Pesto does not require basil and only basil, plus pine nuts and only pine nuts. It does not even require Parmesan cheese. Whilst the famous Pesto Genovese includes all three, multiple variations exist. For example, the Provencal “pistou” is a Genovese with no cheese or nuts. You should feel free to invent your own.

Basil-Mint Cheese-less Pesto

I began with these ingredients:

  1. 2 cups of Basil leaves
  2. 1 cup of Mint leaves
  3. 3 cloves of Garlic
  4. 1/4 cup of shelled Pistachios (yes, Pistachios)
  5. 1/4 cup of slivered Almonds (a more traditional substitute)
  6. 3/4 cup of Olive Oil

Put the first five ingredients into a food processor, and pulse until everything is finely chopped. You will need to pause and scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times. Now leave the process on and slowly add the olive oil until all is incorporated and thoroughly blended.

Remove one-third of the Pesto, put in an airtight jar, and refrigerate. That is your first pesto recipe.

Basil-Mint Asiago Pesto

New ingredient:

  1. 3/4 cup freshly grated Asiago (you don’t even need the “right” cheese!)

Add the cheese to the pesto remaining in the bowl and pulse until thoroughly blended and incorporated.

Remove one-third of the Pesto, put in an airtight jar, and refrigerate. That is your second pesto recipe.

Basil-Mint and Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

New ingredient:

  1. Six ounces of jarred sun-dried tomatoes in oil, with the oil. Seriously.

Add the tomatoes to the remaining pesto in the bowl and pulse until the sun-dried tomatoes are thoroughly chopped, blended and incorporated.

Remove the remaining pesto, put in an airtight jar, and refrigerate.

Now all you have to do consists of combing the online websites for cool new recipes calling for any kind of pesto! Sorry, I can’t help you with that, but it is a fun activity.

Vonn Scott Bair

Recipe: Lemon-Mint Chimmichurri.

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Good Evening:

The thing is, the vendors at farmers markets must sell you much bigger bunches of fresh herbs than you actually need. They don’t have a choice; either that, or their produce spoils on the farm.

So yes, I knew what I got myself into when I purchased an innocent “little” bundle of mint leaves at the Civic Center Farmers Market. Even after using too much for the recipe in question, I still had vast quantities leftover and needed something different from making 50 gallons each of iced tea and lemonade (the traditional solution in New England).

Therefore I committed blasphemy. Chimmichurri is a magnificent Argentinian condiment made with fresh parsley, sometimes with either fresh cilantro or oregano added, plus garlic, olive oil, and white vinegar. I still had over a half cup of mint leaves leftover, and desperate to use all of a very fine quality batch, I developed this recipe instead.

Lemon-Mint Chimmichurri

Ingredients

  1. Two cups of parsley leaves (save the stems for soup stock)
  2. 3/4 cup of mint leaves
  3. 1 garlic clove
  4. Finely chopped zest of one small Lemon
  5. 3/4 cup of olive oil (you can splurge with the high-quality stuff)
  6. Salt and Pepper to taste
  7. Juice of one small Lemon

Process

Place the first 6 ingredients in a food processor. Pulse to chop, frequently pausing to scrape down the sides, until everything is finely chopped and blended. Add one-half of the lemon juice and pulse again a few times. If sufficient, save the other half for another use. If not enough, add the other half and pulse again a few times until everything is blended.

What foods go well with this?

Hundreds of them. It’s astounding how well this worked out. Chicken, pork chops, grilled vegetables, a dip for fresh vegetables, a dip for grilled shrimp, a marinade, a salad dressing, a sauce for egg noodles, a sauce for diced summer squash and halved cherry tomatoes (uncooked)–Lemon-Mint Chimmichurri works on almost every entree. Someone else must have discovered this before I did, because it’s just too dang good not to already exist.

It will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week. Let it reach room temperature before using.

Vonn Scott Bair

San Francisco Food Trucks, 5 June 2015. (Weekly Photo Challenge: Vivid)

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Good Evening:

When we discuss instant traditions only a few years old in San Francisco that have hung around since the 1800s (or something like that), we must discuss the Friday lunch hour food trucks that gather just across the street from City Hall. The tradition: the work week has almost ended, let’s get lunch and a side order of fresh air, sunshine, cool breezes, greenery and shade.

The challenge for the trucks: standing out in the crowd and drawing customers.

The solution: Colors. Really. Vivid. Colors.

For example (all shots taken with my iPhone 6 Plus):

HiYAAA! Food Truck, 5 June 2015.

HiYAAA! Food Truck, 5 June 2015.

Senor Sisic Food Truck, 5 June 2015.

Senor Sisic Food Truck, 5 June 2015.

Let Your Falafel Affair Begin.

Let Your Falafel Affair Begin.

I like the front of the Liba Truck:

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Yes, that’s a mirror image of “FALAFEL” like a mirror image of “AMBULANCE.” Which makes sense: when hunger has become an emergency, falafels come to the rescue. The next truck look restrained by comparison, but when you look at what they sell, basic black is fine for Bacon Bacon.

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Ah, but you, my clever and intelligent reader, you are asking a clever and intelligent question! “Does all this wildly colorful decoration-slash-advertising work? Do these bright and vivid colors draw hungry crowds to these trucks?”

Behold the answer:

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Vonn Scott Bair

PS–If I have accidentally induced hunger pangs in anyone, I apologize. Unless I don’t.

Carrot, Mint and Creme Fraiche Dip.

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Good Evening:

Another experiment, but this one turned out surprisingly well for a first attempt. Should work as a spread on crackers or crostini, but today I served with crudités.

Carrot, Mint and Creme Fraiche Dip

Ingredients

  • 8 oz Carrots cut into half-inch dice
  • 1 cup of Vegetable Broth, with more in reserve
  • 16 oz Creme Fraiche
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, washed
  • Optional: 1/4 – 1/2 cup chopped pistachios
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Technique

  1. Bring broth to a boil in a small saucepan.
  2. Add carrots and stir.
  3. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and let the carrots poach for 20-30 minutes until tender. Check frequently; if broth evaporates, immediately add more.
  4. Remove from heat and let cool. If any broth remains, drain and save for another use.
  5. Place carrots, mint, creme fraiche, salt and pepper into a food processor and puree until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
  6. Scrape into a bowl. Stir in the pistachios if using.

Pretty darn easy. This should serve a crowd, so cut all ingredients in half for family. You have other options. For example, add a tablespoon or two of tahini before pureeing. Or use dill instead of mint and no pistachios. Lemon juice to taste, perhaps. Or use Zatar for seasoning. It’s a pretty adaptable and versatile dip.

Vonn Scott Bair

PS–Once I figure food photography, I’ll try to include some shots.