A Crowded Kitchen, Are __ Appliances too Many?

by Anne Maxfield on June 29, 2015

Accidental Locavore CannerThe Accidental Locavore was the lucky recipient of the new Ball freshTech Electric Water Bath Canner and Multi Cooker to try out. I’m hoping it will make a mad canner out of me and the fear of preserving will be a thing of the past! It’s beautiful and it’s big – make that huge. Since it arrived, I’ve been trying to find a place for it (off the kitchen floor) and it’s been making me take stock of what’s taking up real estate in the kitchen.

Accidental Locavore ToastersMy kitchen is pretty big and fairly well laid out. There is (or was) a lot of counter space, but these days most of that prime space is taken up with a crazy collection of appliances. The ones that are on the counters do get regular use (with the exception of one of the knife racks, but that one amuses me) or get banished to the pantry cupboard. A quick scan, working around the space from the stove, came up with the following:Accidental Locavore Coffee Makers

  1. Toaster
  2. Toaster oven
  3. Knife block
  4. Espresso maker
  5. Second espresso maker
  6. Coffee grinder
  7. Stand mixer
  8. Coffee maker (for our weekend guests), but not always out
  9. Another knife block
  10. Food sealer
  11. Microwave oven
  12. Electric kettle
  13. Cuisinart

Accidental Locavore Kitchen AppliancesIn my pantry cupboard:

  1. Electric slicer
  2. Juicer
  3. Scale
  4. Pasta maker (extruder)
  5. Smoking gun (hand-held smoker)
  6. Blender
  7. Rotisserie
  8. Pasta machine
  9. Waffle maker

Accidental Locaovre MixerAnd with the pots and pans:

  1. Large slow cooker
  2. Smaller slow cooker
  3. SodaStream (and bottles of flavorings)
  4. Sous-vide machine

So where will the canner call home? Hasn’t been decided yet. A smart person would find a space for it and the jars Ball was kind enough to include with it*. But that does bring up yet another dilemma, where to put all the goodies I’m about to start canning? Hmmmm….

*after several weeks of life on the kitchen floor, the canner has a prime home in the laundry room next to #26. Ice cream machine.

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Roasted and Crispy Chickpeas

by Anne Maxfield on June 24, 2015

Accidental Locavore Roasted ChickpeasIn an ongoing search for healthier snacks (i.e. not chips), the Accidental Locavore recently came across a bunch of recipes for roasted chickpeas. These, from the NY Times, are super easy, and probably pretty heathy, but you do need some time to let them dry before you roast them. Makes a good-sized bowl to snack from.

  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas, rinsed if canned
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons za’atar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

Accidental Locavore Drying ChickpeasSpread out chickpeas on a paper towel. Pat dry, then let dry for about an hour.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a heavy rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper, and spread chickpeas evenly on the pan. Bake in the center of the oven until crunchy, about 30 minutes, stirring and rotating every 10 minutes. (The chickpeas will continue to get crunchy as they cool.)

Accidental Locavore Chickpeas With Za'atarPlace hot chickpeas in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, za’atar and salt. Serve and enjoy!

My verdict: A surprisingly flawed recipe from the “paper of record”. A few of my chickpeas were actually crunchy, most were just sort of tough. With both these and the crunchy mushrooms, I used the convection setting on my oven because I figured it would add to the crunch. Now I’m not so sure. Anyone have any ideas? I did let them dry for most of the morning, so it wasn’t that. The za’atar is an interesting blend of spices and would probably be great on warm chickpeas or on a chickpea salad. If I tried these again, I would first toss them in the oil and za’atar and then roast them. That way, although they wouldn’t be as healthy, they might have a better chance of being crunchy and the za’atar wouldn’t all fall to the bottom of the bowl. Have you made crispy chickpeas? How did you do them?

 

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David Lebovitz at DeGustibus

by Anne Maxfield on June 22, 2015

Accidental Locavore D LebovitzAs you know, the Accidental Locavore is a big fan of David Lebovitz’s newish book, My Paris Kitchen. When DeGustibus announced that he was going to be doing a cooking demo, I couldn’t wait to sign up! As it turns out, he rarely does demos since he feels he’s not so good at cooking and instructing (but he would be wrong).

We started out with an amuse bouche of tapenade made from black olives and figs and served with champagne to get us in a celebratory mood. The figs were a nice addition to the tapenade, but what David said (and I haven’t tried yet) was that rinsing the capers and squeezing them dry “will change your life.” Stayed tuned!

Accidental Locavore Merguez MeatballsThese were followed by merguez meatballs with a harissa mayo. How these escaped me in the book, I have no idea! Nicely browned, the meatballs were just a bit spicy and the mayo added a nice little kick. Definitely have to give these a try and the mayo is a snap to make—just add a tablespoon or so of harissa to about ¾ cup of mayo. Bet it’s great on a lamb burger!

Accidental Locavore Parisian GnocchiProbably my favorite, and definitely the most indulgent, were the Parisian gnocchi with béchamel. Think savory profiteroles or cream puffs with cheese sauce and you’re most of the way there. It started with a pâté à choux, (it’s what’s used for cream puffs, éclairs etc.) formed into balls and poached until partially cooked. Then David whipped up a Mornay sauce, put the gnocchi in a gratin pan, covered that with sauce and sprinkled a healthy topping of Parmesan and Emmenthal and baked it. Think of it as the French version of mac & cheese, but better, so much better!!

Accidental Locavore Chicken and BeansNot that we needed anything else, but his main course was the chicken with mustard which I’ve made (and it’s great!). Your choice of mustard really counts here, so splurge and get some real Dijon. And if you think that green beans are generally ho-hum, you haven’t tried his—steamed and drenched in snail butter, in other words, lots of butter and garlic!

Accidental Locavore Chocolate Caramel MousseFor dessert, a chocolate, salted-caramel mousse. Since David is known as a pastry chef, it should have been the highlight of the evening, but it wasn’t my favorite thing. The texture was a little too slick and pudding-like for my taste, since I’ve never been a fan of toothless desserts.

If any of these sounds like something you’d like to try, get the book. It’s one of the few that’s crossed my desk that I’ve used over and over.

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Orecchiette With Broccoli Rabe and Goat Cheese

by Anne Maxfield on June 18, 2015

Accidental Locavore Broccoli RabeHappily, for the Accidental Locavore, my CSA has started and this year there’s been plenty of broccoli rabe. Orcchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe has always been one of my favorites, so when I saw this on Saveur’s website, I started chopping! Serves 2 hungry people and comes together quickly:

  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe (about ¾ pound), roughly chopped
  • 13cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • crushed red chile flakes, to taste
  • ½ box orecchiette
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 ounces of goat cheese, softened
  • Salt

Accidental Locavore Broccoli Rabe and SausageBring a large pot of heavily salted water to boil for the pasta. Cook the orecchiette until just al dente.

Steam the broccoli rabe until crisp-tender. I used a covered dish in the microwave for 2 minutes.

When the broccoli is cooked, add the olive oil to a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until golden, about 3 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the broccoli rabe, toss in the oil and reduce the heat to low.

Drain the pasta, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water, and add to the pan, along with the lemon zest. Increase the heat to high and slowly add the pasta water, stirring until it’s absorbed. Taste and add salt and red pepper flakes as needed. Serve, topped with dollops of the goat cheese and enjoy

Accidental Locavore Pasta With Broccoli RabeMy verdict: Yummy! Between adding the pasta water to make a sauce and the goat cheese, it’s a wonderful, creamy pasta. I’ve made it twice, the second time adding a large piece of Italian sausage that I crumbled up and cooked before adding the garlic etc. Frank loved it, which is a sign that’s it’s a good dish, as he’s not terribly fond of broccoli rabe. Funnily, both times I’ve made it, I’ve wanted to toss some toasted pine nuts into it, but both times was too lazy to go toast them. Some chopped olives, or sautéed mushrooms might be nice too.

Accidental Locavore Fasta PastaSpeaking of lazy, one of the chores we both hate is washing the pasta pot. That’s changed since we discovered Fasta Pasta. It’s a microwave pasta cooker (if you’re Italian and/or fussy about cooking pasta, just skip this) and it works like crazy! It’s a box that you fill with pasta and water and pop in the microwave. When it’s done, add the lid and it drains the pasta. There’s a chart that gives you amounts and times. What it doesn’t tell you, is that like most pasta, it’s much better when you add a healthy dose of salt to the water. If you’re cooking for a crowd, you’re probably better off with the traditional pot, but for a couple of people it’s just genius! It’s dishwasher safe and takes up much less space than the pasta pot (that we store it in).

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