Using the Carrot and Keeping Things Positive

Yesterday was a much needed day for so many people.  There has been so much rhetoric and hatred that seemed to have been winning out and leaving a lot of us feeling adrift and shocked.  But yesterday was an historic day.  It was a day that millions across the world stood up peacefully and said we don’t accept that.  The reports today are estimating that nearly 3 million in the US alone showed up which made it the most represented protest in US history.

I know it was called the Women’s March but it was inspiring to see that men and children joined in as well and that we are standing up together and rejecting the hate, rejecting the notion that we are going to be dragged backwards.  I’m afraid we will for awhile but I hope that we will not be silenced and we will fight to move our rights forward for all.

In our little town we had a turnout of about 500 people.  It was fabulous, though as I looked round you could see people of my parent’s generation and all I could think was that they must be so irritated they have to march for this again.  Signs around the world definitely bore this out.

Here are some of my photos of yesterday to share with you.

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I think if we can keep this positivity and using the carrot instead of the stick we can do so much.  Well, except voting.  That’s going to be a very big stick.

In the middle of tax season starting and standing up for ourselves I am finding time here and there to be creative in the kitchen.  Not as much as I’d like but it’s that time of the year!

We had great success with the carrots in the garden.  They came out massive but very sweet and tender.  There was the last large one to use up and because the kids love soup this time of the year I made a carrot ginger soup.  There are a lot of recipes out there with orange juice but that would that would make this soup super sweet so I went the savory route.

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In a saucepan heat up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.  Chop up about half a red onion.  You want to end up with a 1/2 cup/4oz or so.  Finely chop a couple of garlic cloves.  Begin to saute while you cube the carrot.  Obviously if you don’t have a massive carrot, cube 4-6 of them depending on size.  Add the carrot to the saucepan.

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Add enough chicken stock to cover the carrots and bring to a simmer. Grate fresh ginger into the pan. I did about an inch/2.5cm square. Then add a small handful of fresh tarragon.

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I seasoned this with sea salt and pepper.  I wanted a little kick to this so I added a bit of red pepper flakes.  Once the carrots are cooked through puree and add back onto the heat.  Add a cup of cream and slowing heat that through.

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Add a dollop of sour cream and enjoy with your favourite bread.

I sincerely hope that yesterday is the beginning of hope and positivity where we find our strength to stand up against the drumming of fear.

 

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Mushroom Tarragon Pork Pasta

I’ve lost count on how many days I’ve been saying I need to do a blog post!  It’s been the typical craziness with the holidays and all the prep that goes along with it.  We had a lovely Christmas with the kids.  It was our turn to have them for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning which I love.  We have Chinese food at night and sticky buns in the morning.  Other than that it was a very quiet day with my husband.

For one of the dinners before the holidays I wanted to make a nice comfort type of dinner to go along with the very cold nights we were having.  I am so ready for spring.  My MIL has been emailing me telling me how the grass is growing and how she is trying to keep up with weeding.  Harrumph!

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I had some boneless pork ribs and I decided to do a slow cooked dish with mushrooms and tarragon.  Heat up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet.  Season the pork with sea salt and pepper.  Brown all sides.

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While this is browning chop half a red onion and a few cloves of garlic.  Remove the pork and cover.  In the skillet saute the onion and garlic.

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Quarter several mushrooms until you have about a cup or 8 oz.  Add them to the skillet.  Chop a handful of fresh tarragon and add that as well.

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Saute for a few minutes then add half a cup/4oz of sherry or dry white wine.  Simmer for a couple of minutes then add the pork back in.  Next add 3 cups/24oz of vegetable stock and bring to a simmer.  It was at this point I got a text from my boss wondering when I was coming in.  Erm, not working this week?  Turns out, yes I was.  Nuts.  Turned off the dish and dashed off to work the evening shift.  It also turns out to be a happy accident.  It allowed the flavours to really deepen.  The next day I slow cooked it for several hours which reduced the broth.

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Cook the pasta and add to the skillet just before you are ready to eat.  My husband made a delicious quick bread to go along with this dish.

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Top with a dollop of sour cream and serve.  If you want this to be more like a soup don’t reduce the broth so much.

Happy New Year’s everyone, I hope it is a safe and enjoyable evening.

 

Tarragon Beef Stew to Keep You Warm

I think it is time to give up the ghost where the garden is concerned at this point.  With the exception of the hardy root veg and brussels sprouts we’re done and dusted.  A couple of weeks ago I managed to find some tarragon still green in the garden which reminded me of a recipe I had printed out from allrecipes.com a few years ago.  Looking at it again, I realised that I hadn’t followed it completely when I made it before.  For one, it had honey.  And a few other interesting things.  But it does have vermouth which works really well with tarragon.

I love beef stews, particularly with ale, but my husband sometimes finds them too heavy in flavour.  This stew has a lot of flavour without the heaviness.  A more refined rustic soup if that isn’t too much of an oxy moron!  

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Dredge about a pound of stewing beef in flour and season it with sea salt and pepper.  In a saucepan melt 2 tablespoons of butter.  Brown the beef.  Chop a small red onion, 3-4 cloves of garlic, a carrot, and 2-3 mushrooms.  Add the veg to the beef and cook for a few minutes.

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Cube 2-3 red potatoes depending on the size.  Add it to the saucepan.  Cook for a few minutes then add 4 cups of vegetable bouillon and bring to a simmer.  Add 1/2 cup of vermouth, 4 tablespoons of worcestershire sauce, a handful of tarragon, and a small spoonful of mustard.

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Simmer for a few hours at low temperature until the beef is tender and the potatoes are cooked through.

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Add some crusty bread and you’ll be warmed to your toes!  🙂

Grilled Tarragon Chicken Salad and Radio Show

Every once in awhile you have to go outside of your comfort zone.  I had the opportunity to do that yesterday.  I’ve mentioned Luca, a chef in town and a friend of mine, who does cooking shows.  You might remember my daughter had a chance to do a show with him.

He also does a weekly radio show on our local talk radio with Dan Mitchell talking about cooking and he brings bloggers, chefs, etc on as guests.  He invited me to join him.  I had an absolute blast doing this. I was nervous about doing it but I didn’t want to miss this opportunity to do something new.

Here is the podcast if you would like a listen.  But please, I know I sound American.  Every time it comes up that I’m English, without fail, I get “but you don’t sound English”.  That bothers me.  Like there is a doubt of who I am.  I came over very young and didn’t go back again until I was an adult.  The accent doesn’t start coming out much until I’m back in the UK.  It is what it is!  Other than that I do hope you enjoy the podcast.

And of course I had to show up with food.  But because the show was in the morning and there isn’t a kitchen so it had to be something I could serve cold.

I decided to do grilled chicken with tarragon.  For dinner I did it as a salad and for the show I did it as lettuce wraps.

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For the marinade I finely chopped a few cloves of garlic and a handful of tarragon.  Mix it with equal parts white wine and olive oil.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Make sure it is mixed well and then add the chicken to marinade for at least an hour.

Grilled tarragon chicken 2 2015Grill the chicken and let it cool.  Meanwhile toast half a cup of pinenuts in a dry skillet.  You want to pay attention as you are doing this. The nuts can easily burn.  Keep the pinenuts moving in the skillet as you toast them.

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Once they are golden remove and set aside.  I did try to do a wine vinaigrette but it just didn’t have any brightness to it.  So I did up a tarragon lemon dressing instead.  Do two parts olive oil to one part lemon juice.  Add a bit of tarragon and season with sea salt and pepper.  Shake it up.

To assemble, lay out the lettuce leaves and layer with the chicken, veg of your choice, and the pine nuts.  Drizzle the dressing over the salad and top with creme fraiche.

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It is very easy to convert it to wraps.  Just put less into each piece and wrap it up!  Perfect for a warm summer day.  As I said this was a fantastic experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat.  🙂

Tarragon Steak and Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Yesterday was very frustrating.  We like to make cheese so we bought quite a bit of raw milk at a local farm.  Grand plans were made.  Grand plans failed in a spectacular fashion.  The cheddar may turn out ok but the camembert I tried didn’t get off the ground.  The pH seemed to be too low and the curd didn’t break properly.  We had issues with the cheddar as well.  Like I said very frustrating.

So being tired and feeling grumpy I needed a good dinner that wasn’t too complicated.  And it had to be quick!  There was wine to be had at the end of a long day.

We grow tarragon in our garden, though it’s currently getting overshadowed by hops.  If you ever grow hops put them somewhere by themselves.  We grossly underestimated their takeover talents.  So I waded in to find the tarragon and took a handful for this marinade.

Tarragon steak 1 2015

Chop up a handful of tarragon and a few cloves of garlic.  In a bowl add a few tablespoons of olive oil and one or two tablespoons of white wine vinegar.  Shake it up to mix.  Season the steak with sea salt and pepper then add it to the marinade.  Let it marinate for at least an hour.

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For those that follow my blog know I’m a huge fan of roasted potatoes.  I thought rosemary and lemon would be a nice touch for this meal.  Cube the potatoes and microwave them for 8 minutes.  Do not cover them with plastic or cling film.  That just leaches chemicals into the food.  In a baking dish add a few tablespoons of olive oil and a tablespoon of lemon juice. While the potatoes are in the microwave preheat the oven or toaster oven to 375F/190C with the baking dish in it.  Add the potatoes to the hot oil, stir well and season with sea salt and pepper.  Stir occasionally as it cooks.  Once it is cooked halfway add a couple of tablespoons of rosemary, finely chopped.  Heat the grill to medium high.  I picked skirt steak which is pretty thin so it cooks quickly.

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Given that it’s summer a salad is called for!  Make up the salad while the steak is resting.  Then slice the steak and top the salad.  Drizzle with olive oil and white wine vinegar.  Serve with the potatoes.

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We were lucky that there was low humidity last night so we had a lovely dinner outside on the porch.  The only interruptions we had was when we had to take turns chasing off the rabbits in our back garden.  They are showing no fear!

Roasted Mushroom Tarragon Soup

It has been a gorgeous weekend.  The weather is perfect and we’re getting loads of fresh air.  Though it was on the nippy side yesterday morning it was just warm enough with our winter coats and hats to have breakfast outside downtown.  We enjoy walking the dogs down and grabbing a bagel and do some people watching.

Yesterday afternoon I started tackling the garden.  Today we’ll be bold and plant a few things.  We need to thin out the jungle in the house and the brussel sprouts should be fine outside now.

Friday was chilly and I needed to use up some mushrooms so I came up with a mushroom tarragon soup.  It’s that time of year where you never know what the temperature will be so we can’t shake off the comfort food just yet.  This soup has a lot of flavour but isn’t heavy.

I find taking the step to roast the mushrooms really elevates the flavour of this soup.  I made enough for two people with a little leftover for one lunch.  I sliced about 1 1/2 cups of mushrooms and tossed in olive oil with salt and pepper.

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Roast at 400F/200C for about 20 minutes stirring occasionally.

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In a sauce pan saute 1/2 a cup of chopped onions and a couple of chopped cloves of garlic for a few minutes.  Add the mushrooms and saute for a few more minutes.

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Add 2 cups of veg bouillon and 1/2 a cup of marsala wine.  Bring to a simmer and then add a few teaspoons of fresh chopped tarragon.

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When it is time to serve add about 3/4 cup of cream and heat through.  Don’t let it boil!  Just simmer until it’s hot.  At this point add salt and pepper to taste.  While you are doing this do up some cheesy toast with parmesan cheese.  The pairing of the parmesan with the soup was very good.

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We both liked this a lot.  It’s a shame our son doesn’t like mushrooms as I’d like to make this for the kids.

Now on to a day of making cupcakes and gardening!  It’s gorgeous out so enjoy the day!