Mon Jardin

P1020330

Now that we’ve finally gotten the last freeze behind us, it’s time to garden…and I couldn’t be happier about getting my hands dirty again.

This year, I’m focusing on planting only what I can eat, which means tomatoes, herbs, yellow squash, jalapeño peppers, and a variety of lettuces. I’d like to get some cucumbers in, too, but every time I’ve gone to the nursery, they’ve been out.

Cukes, you will be mine. I’m not giving up yet.

I’m particularly excited about the tomatoes, all heirloom varieties and all grown here in New Mexico. I’ve put in a black cherry along with a red and a yellow cherry tomato plant, and two different medium-size tomatoes, both of which are beefsteaky, but not too grande, apparently.

My basil is already bushy and needs to be propped up. Dill and oregano are doing fine. Sage, rosemary and lemon verbena — which I still remember Daniel Rose of Spring put in his ceviche one summer — all need to find a home. And soon.

I’m planning on planting some lavender, too, something that grows easily here and always reminds me of Provence and Paris, too, because my upstairs neighbor  always grew lavender, and bits were always blowing off of her plants and landing in our garden below, perfuming the air. It’s funny how when it comes down to it, it’s the little things that connect you to a place. In my case, I keep finding similarities between the two places, as different as they may seem. My front yard is filled with pebbles, which reminds me of so many jardins in France. It also happens to  be a smart landscaping choice for this climate.

Now that we’ve just turned the page into June, we’re looking at highs in the low and mid-80s. Hot, people. But with cool, windows-open nights and sweatshirt mornings with my coffee. Love that.

Last night I made an herby salsa with mint, cilantro, and flat-leaf parsley, and put it on top of some roasted yellow squash. Testing new recipes for some upcoming cooking classes…right here, in my little adobe. Coming soon.

P1020328

P1020333

P1020332

P1020340

Taos: Leathered Up

IMG_1302_2

IMG_1319

This is Rose’s new collar. Isn’t it pretty?

Rose was due for a new collar, and it seemed fitting that she have something a bit more cowdog, to go with her new hiking-in-the-mountains/Santa Fe lifestyle.

It’s a good thing I found myself in Taos a few weeks back with my friend Catherine, and as always, I insisted we stop at World Cup Taos for a triple latte before the drive back to Santa Fe. While sitting outside on one of the blue benches, drinking our very strong coffees, we both noticed a rack of t-shirts in front of the little bodega a couple of stores down. So we grabbed our coffees and Rosedog and started thumbing through the racks.

Three shirts later, while standing inside at the counter to pay, we both noticed these great leather bracelets and cuffs for sale. She and I both got one and we started talking to Noel, who was ringing us up, and who, as it turned out, was the artist who’d made them.

IMG_1309

I don’t remember who suggested the collar for Rose first, but I thought it was a great idea and I couldn’t imagine a better color than a dusty rose, Rose being so girly and all.

Noel hand-delivered the collar to me in Santa Fe a couple of days ago and brought a whole bunch more leather bracelets, too.

What’s interesting is not that they’re hand stamped, but how they’re stamped — if you look closely, you’ll see that some have a leafy-looking pattern while others have tiny squares or soft arches or delicate swirls. The colors, too, are unusual and subtle, looking almost vegetable dyed — I bought a faded khaki green one and another in a blue that’s somewhere between denim and inky.

IMG_1304_2

IMG_1310_2

The more slender ones look wonderful in twos and threes, mixed with other bracelets, and the bigger cuffs — reminiscent of the 70s– are striking on their own. What’s so great about these is they fit — my wrists are pretty small so most bracelets are far too large–it’s nice to feel these against my skin.

IMG_1327

IMG_1313

Noel ships her handmade bracelets and cuffs within the U.S. and is happy to take special orders for people and their animals. Don’t bother searching online; she doesn’t have a website. She’ll dye and stamp bracelets, cuffs and collars however you like — for your size and color preferences. She and I talked at length about the particular color of pink that I wanted, and I was going to have Rose’s name stamped on the collar, but in the end, decided to go with the simple, elegant stamped design.

If you’d like to place an order — Christmas is just around the corner, people– give her a call. 575/758-8573.

IMG_1312

Tacos al Pastor

P1010847

When I’m home, as I was recently, my mission is to eat as many tacos as I possibly can – and that means tacos for breakfast, tacos for lunch, and if I can swing it, even more tacos for dinner.

Texas Monthly, the award-winning magazine that’s all about us, declared the tacos at Fuel City, a truck stop about a half-mile from the Dallas jail, the very best in the state, so on a recent trip home, between breakfast and lunchtime, I drove over, put some gas in Mom’s truck, and got in line.

P1010862

Figured I’d try the tacos al pastor, since I’d just been in Mexico City, and saw these sold all over the place by the street vendors, especially the ones near the metro stops. You can’t miss the Middle Eastern, shawarma-style rotisserie that this pork is cooked on, and its orangey color from the smoky chile – but what’s interesting is that there’s a distinct sweetness to this, too. The secret: pineapple.

P1010851

I stood outside and ate my tacos, served with a bit of fresh cilantro, a squeeze of lime, and a bit of salsa (chopped white onions are also an option, but hey, you just never know who you’re gonna kiss, right?), and thought that I was just gonna die they were so good. Plus, with tax – a buck fifty!

I know.

Then, a few weeks later, I was back in Paris, craving these silly things — with not a taco stand in sight – and what, I ask you, was a cowgirl to do?

I decided to make some of my own.

Which was tricky, I suppose, considering the no-grill and no-backyard-rotisserie rule, but I decided to forge on.

With the idea that I needed to merge the smoky chile, pineapple, and pork, I decided to get out my trusty slow cooker, and let it do the work. I used pork shoulder and cut it up in smallish pieces, but next time, will make them a bit bigger, I think. Also, I’m going to remove the cover for a bit at the end, so it won’t be quite so liquidy.

Most tacos al pastor recipes call for marinating the pork for hours and hours in the pineapple and then grilling it, which I may try next. I’ll let you know how that goes on the indoor grill pan, and what the neighbors have to say about that, since they’re always complaining about “les odeurs” from my kitchen, but I like to point out that the people next door are the constant cabbage-boilers, not me, and really, I think that they’re just jealous, anyway.

This is way too good to share, even if I wanted to.

tacos al pastor

Tacos al Pastor

2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch by 1-inch strips
½ pineapple, sliced and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large white onion, 1/4-inch dice
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 32 oz can diced tomatoes in juice
½ cup Cointreau (a Frenchy twist, eh?)
3 ancho chiles, roasted
2 guajillo chiles, roasted
4 chipotle chiles (in adobo sauce)
2 teaspoons cumin
1 ½ teaspoons Mexican oregano
sea salt

1. Roast the guajillo and ancho chiles. With scissors, cut off the stems of the chiles, then cut them once down the middle, split them, and remove the seeds and membrane. On an ungreased comal or cast-iron skillet, over medium-low heat, press the chiles down with a spatula until they begin to turn dark. You’ll smell them before you see that they’re ready — just be sure not to burn them. Now place the chiles in a bowl of hot water and let them reconstitute for about 15 minutes.

2. Drizzle a bit of olive oil in a heavy skillet, and add the onions and garlic. Turn the heat on low and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5-10 minutes.

3. Puree the guajillo, ancho, and chipotle chiles in a small food processor or blender. To do this, add as much of the chile soaking water as necessary to make the puree smooth and easy to blend. Keep this going for at least 5 minutes — you want a super-smooth puree. The more you blend this, the better it’ll be. Trust me on this.

4. Now, put the pork and onions/garlic mixture, chile puree, pineapple chunks, spices, tomatoes and Cointreau in the slow cooker, set to low for 4 hours.

Serve with homemade corn tortillas, chopped cilantro, white onion, lime, and your favorite salsa.

Note: If you don’t have a slow cooker, this will also cook nicely on the stovetop, on low, for 2-3 hours. It’ll be ready when the meat falls apart.

Paper Sack Apple Pie

Growing up, the unmistakable smell of a paper bag roasting in the oven always meant one thing – Mom was baking her famous Paper Sack Apple Pie.

Unlike lattice-top apple pies or double-crust pies, this pie is made with a crumb topping, which gives the pie a sugary, buttery crunch when you bite into it, and goes oh so well with a scoop of Bluebell Vanilla Bean ice cream — but what doesn’t?

Xavier recently pointed out the number of photographs on my blog with scoops of ice cream, but what am I supposed to do, serve these desserts naked? Besides being a capable star of its own, if you ask me, ice cream is the perfect sidecar to just about any dessert; it’s the Robin to the Batman, the Sonny to the Cher, the Ricky to the Lucy…together, they make a much more interesting, and delicious, pair.

On my recent trip home, I begged, I pleaded, for Mom to make her pie, which she did for Easter, and happily showed me some of her tried-and-true piecrust-making secrets along the way, which I’ll share in an upcoming blog, I promise.

These days, paper sacks are hard to come by – and Mom warns against using recycled sacks, because she read that they’re treated with chemicals that that shouldn’t be heated, and certainly not baked into a pie – so even though we managed to find a paper sack for this pie, if you can’t get your hands on one, don’t worry. A couple of layers of parchment paper would probably work, too (just put two pieces down in an “X,” bring the ends up over the pie, and clip with clothespins as you would with a paper sack).

Paper Sack Apple Pie

4-6 apples (Mom likes Granny Smith)
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup sugar
½ cup flour
½ cup butter (4 oz. or one stick), cold

Preheat oven to 400 F/200 C.

1. Peel, core and slice apples, and toss with lemon juice. Set aside.

2. Combine 1/2 cup of sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon in a small bowl, and add to apples and mix well.

3. Meanwhile, put 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup flour in a Cuisinart and pulse one or two times to combine. Add cold pats of butter and pulse only until butter crumbs form. 
(Mom still does this by hand, by putting all of the ingredients in a bowl and using a pastry cutter, and you may do this, too, if you’re so inclined.)

4. Place apples in unbaked pie shell and top with crumbs.

5. Slide into paper bag, fold it over once or twice to close, and secure with three or four wooden clothespins, and bake for one hour.

6. Split bag, remove pie, and cool slightly before serving.

7. Serve, naturally, with a scoop of ice cream.

The Flea

P1020359

How do you say “brocante” in Santa Fe? “The Flea” — a very Santa Fe-centric batch of vendors selling everything that’s Western, from saddles and tack to hats, cowhide rugs, and loads of beaded and fringed things. It’s all about the fringe here.

P1020378

This was the first weekend of The Flea, and maybe because it was a holiday (Memorial Day weekend), the crowds were scarce. There weren’t many vendors, either, but I’m convinced that once the season gets underway, there will be more folks out there wheeling and dealing.

P1020376

P1020374

Since I’d bought a cowhide rug — a nearly all-white one — the day before, I didn’t look too carefully at these, but if you’re in the market for one, they’ve got plenty to choose from out here.

P1020369

Dusty, never been worn before hats and lots of old stolen highway signs. I didn’t see anything that I had to buy, except for a pair of lamps for $30 that I immediately got home and decided that I needed to paint over and/or distress in some way. More on the lamps later. I plan to do a grand before and after for you.

P1020367

P1020361

Rugs all over the place! See how bright they are?  Color is such a part of life here. And I get it. But to me, seeing the saturated blue skies every day and the dramatic sunsets is where I get my color. Plus I’m already living in an adobe, which feels Southwestern enough. I’ve

Don’t get me wrong. I love the vibe of this place –I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t — but  little goes a long way in my book. I’ve got a ristra hanging outside my door and over one of my fireplaces, both souvenirs left from the previous owners. I’ll probably keep one of them. But if you ever catch me walking down the street in a broom skirt and a squash blossom necklace,

P1020379

P1020377

No-Knead Bread

P1040983

It is not a loaf of Poilâne, I know that, but it’s damn fine bread. It’s flavorful and has a crust that actually crunches when you bite into it. And it’s really easy.

Easy as in you don’t do anything at all except mix up the flour, yeast, and water with your big wooden spoon. Then let it hang out for a while–I give it a full 24 hours instead of the suggested 12 to 18, simply because I usually think of doing this in the morning instead of the evening.

I’d read about this no-knead bread before — it’s a recipe by Jim Lahey with New York’s Sullivan Street Bakery and it’s been all over the internet– but in Paris, who’s gonna bother with making their own bread when it’s coming out warm from boulangerie ovens every day?

The great thing about this bread, aside from the fact it needs no babysitting — letting you tend to other important tasks of the day, like checking out what’s new on Pinterest.

P1040971

No-Knead Bread

Makes 1 loaf

Adapted from a recipe by Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery

  •             3 cups/400 grams of bread flour
  •             1 ¼ teaspoon/8 grams of salt
  •             ¼ teaspoon/1 gram of yeast
  •             1 ⅓ cups/300 grams of cool (55 to 65° water)
  •                   wheat or oat bran, cornmeal or additional flour for dusting

1. Whisk or stir together the flour, salt and yeast. Add the water and stir with a wooden spoon until you have a wet and sticky dough — if it’s not sticky, add 1 to 3 more tablespoons of water. Put the dough in a bowl and loosely cover with a piece of plastic wrap and a dish towel on top of the overall bowl (the plastic wrap keeps the dough from getting crusty). Let the dough sit in a warmish spot for 12 to 18 hours (I usually leave mine out for 24), or until there are lots of bubbles on the surface and it has doubled in size. This super-slow rise (fermentation) is the key to the bread’s flavor.

2. Dust a work surface with flour. Scrape the dough out of the bowl and onto the surface — the dough will cling in long, sticky strands. Don’t add any more flour to the dough. Lightly dust your hands with flour and lift and pull the dough in pieces to the center in order to make a round shape. Dust a non-terrycloth dishtowel with wheat or at bran, cornmeal or additional flour. Now gently flip the dough over onto the dishtowel, seamed side down. Wrap the dough in the dishtowel and put in a warm place again to rise until it has doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.

3. Preheat a Dutch oven in a 475°F oven for 30 minutes. Remove it from the oven, dust the bottom of the pot with wheat bran, oat bran or cornmeal and, put the dough inside, and cover. Cook for 30 minutes, remove the lid and continue baking for 15 to 30 more minutes. Let the bread cool on a rack for at least an hour before eating (ha! I usually last 30 minutes before I get out the butter). Store in a paper sack at room temperature.

 

P1040973
P1040996

 

Pad Kee Mao

pad kee mao in wok

I’m smack dab in the middle of another missing-the-land of jalapeños and serranos and meals so spicy they’ll make your nose run and your forehead sweat (that’s a three napkin enchilada!) phase. Since I’m Tex-Mex pepper poor over here in the land of a thousand cheeses, I’ve been gravitating to the spiciest food I can make lately, which usually means something Thai — and this easy to throw together classic, Pad Kee Mao, is one of my favorites. It’s also one of the hottest.

Really, I’m just trying to see how I can get the French firemen to show up at my door.

Feu! Feu!

Now, my favorite Pad Kee Mao is simply rice noodles, bell pepper, Thai basil, tofu, and a whole bunch of garlic and chopped Thai chile, which you can add as much or as little as you can stand. You don’t have to use tofu — it’s easy to swap out with chicken, beef, or pork — but crispy fried tofu can be a wonderful thing.

Know that Pad Kee Mao does not take long to put together, but it does probably require a trip to your nearest Asian market for the rice noodles, tofu, and Thai basil. You may swap out with regular basil if you want, but Thai basil will give this the unique licorice flavor it’s known for.

It’s also an easy dish to make for one, or one plus leftovers the next day.

 

Pretty in Pink: Beet and Endive Salad

DSC_5806

Stuffing yourself silly with beets and endives may sound a little crazy, but that’s exactly what I did with this salad. Dang! Sweet beetness and crunchy, just slightly bitter endive coming together in a mashup that I forgot how much I loved.

 

 

DSC_5830

Yogurt Cake (Gâteau au Yaourt)

yogurt cake

There is no simpler cake to make – and probably no easier cake to eat, either. See what’s left of the cake in the above photo? That was taken the morning after I made it the night before. It was less than 12 hours old.

Delicate, slightly spongy and made with yogurt and oil instead of butter and sour cream, it tastes like a much lighter version of our pound cake. And it’s a very French thing.

For those of you who think that French women are pushing those extra-long rolling pins across sheets of puff pastry in their teensy kitchens, I give you this, probably the most common of all French cakes, the one that everyone, even X’s mother who doesn’t cook (and certainly doesn’t bake) makes all the time: gâteau au yaourt, or the yogurt cake.

It is as easy and as quick as a box cake. It is very dump-and-stir. You can add stuff to it, like I did in this recipe – the zest of a mandarin orange – or leave it plain Jane. I’ve added jimmies to this cake to give it a tiger twist, and I’m planning on making an all-chocolate version soon. My friend Debbie tosses in chunks of apples or pears and nuts when she makes hers. Think of this recipe as a base. Add whatever you’re in the mood for.

It is a great cake to have in your repertoire for those last-minute things that you want to bring something to but think you don’t have time for, or for a weeknight dinner dessert. You do have time to make this. It’s just 5 minutes to put together and less than an hour in the oven.

Serve it with a dusting of powdered sugar and a spoonful of jam (X’s preferred way). Have it with your afternoon coffee. Or morning coffee. Or both. In fact, I think there may be a tiny bit left in the kitchen…that I’m going to go eat right now before X wakes up.

I’ll make him another one.

Yogurt Cake (Gâteau au Yaourt)

Makes one 10-inch cake (8 to 10 servings)

  • 2 cups (4 125 gram yogurt containers) of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • zest of 1 mandarin orange
  • 1 cup/250 grams (2 125 gram yogurt containers) of sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup/250 grams (2 125 yogurt containers) of whole milk yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • ¼ cup of vegetable oil (I use sunflower oil in France), plus slightly more for oiling the sides of the pan
  • powdered sugar, for serving
  • raspberry jam, for serving

 

1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F and line the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan with parchment paper and lightly oil the sides. Place the pan on a cookie sheet to catch any spillage.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set this aside.

3. Mix together the zest and the sugar, using your fingers to rub the zest into the sugar – by doing this, you release the oils and it’ll make the cake more fragrant.

4. In your mixer, beat your eggs until they’re light, then add the yogurt, zest and sugar, vanilla, and oil and mix well. Now add the flour mixture and mix just until combined — you don’t want to overmix. Pour your batter into the pan, and slide it into the oven to bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Let cool on a rack. Slice and sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with a side of raspberry jam.