Monthly Archives: July 2009

fruits of labor: esther's cottage farm swedish cucumbers

July 25, 2009

i have been getting tons of cucumbers in my produce box, perhaps you have a similar problem or dont know what to do with all those cucumbers growing in your garden? here is a delightfully fresh and easy recipe – it is an adaptation of my great-grandmothers recipe for swedish cucumbers, but ive punched it up a bit.
this would be really fun and unexpected at a summer bbq!

the recipe that follows is for 1lb of cucumbers but as you will see it can be easily increased to accommodate more.

1lb of cucumbers
1 1/4 cups of water
1 cup of white sugar
1/2 cup of white vinegar
1/4 tsp of salt
3 tbsp of parsley finely chopped
1/8 cup of sliced red onion

combine water, white vinegar, sugar, salt, parsley in a large bowl

the easiest, most efficient and i think nicest way to do this next step is on the mandolin, (a rather ingenious kitchen accessory i must say. if you don’t own a mandolin they are rather inexpensive the one i have cost about 8$ though some can be as pricey as 100$ or over) if you aren’t equipped with a mandolin, slice the cucumbers and red onion as thinly as you can –

peel the cucumbers and then slice them on the mandolin right over the liquid mixture then do the same for the red onion until you have approx. an 1/8 cup in the mixture (you don’t want too much or all you will taste is onion). stir it all together and let it sit at least 2 hours – though i recommend over night or even 2 days ahead as they get better the longer they sit in the brine.

this is also a nice light accompaniment to meat or served over fresh sliced summer tomatoes. once you taste these im sure you will think of many things to do with esther’s swedish cucumbers –

trip to the farmers market

July 23, 2009

there is nothing like a trip to the farmers market on a bright, warm sunny day – all of the produce is swelled with ripeness and color and smell, and those samples are every bit as good as just looking at the fruit. here is a visual journey of just such an experience –

and there are wonderful shops to be seen inside of the san francisco ferry building – below are some pictures from my favoite

i love the baskets in these pictures they remind me of the baskets in this picture from my post about bohemian interiors. see the whole post here
i think they are wonderful! they are from the gardener. an inspired shop here in the bay area.

fruits of labor: top secret bean salad

July 22, 2009

this is my favorite salad to eat, make, bring, look at…. ok you get the idea. its colorful, flavorful, easy to make and generally fun! so im finally going to divulge my top secret fiesta salad recipe –

2 10oz. cans of black beans (you could make em fresh to but i see no need unless you are crazy)

2 ears of corn boiled or 2 8oz cans of whole kernel corn

1 4oz can of whole green chilies

1 medium sized orange pepper cut into small chunks

1 cup of finely shredded red cabbage (mandolin suggested)

1/4 of a small red onion

2 scallions

6 tbsp of olive oil

1 tsp of orange juice (fresh or otherwise)

1 1/2 limes zested and juiced

3 tsp of red wine vinegar

1 1/2 tsp of cumin

2 tbsp of chopped fresh cilantro

salt and pepper

ok i know it seems like a lot of ingredients but its gonna be amazing trust me – combine everything in a large bowl

drain and rinse black beans, add to bowl

drain and rinse corn if using canned or cut kernels away from cob after cooking – toast in a dry frying pan over high heat stirring constantly until skins are blistered, and dark brown (you will get a combo of all these looks but you don’t want to burn them just give them a true toasting) – then add to bowl

drain and rinse whole green chillies, dice and add to bowl

dice red onion and add to bowl

slice all parts of the scallions into 1/16″ rounds and add to bowl

cut orange pepper into small chunks and add to bowl

finely slice red cabbage (its easiest on a mandolin) and then run your knife through it a coupla times just to make the strands a bit shorter (so that later no one has to contend with them dangling half in half out of their mouth, ew)and add it to the bowl

then just add everything else except the cilantro and S&P. stir it with a rubber spatula so as not to mush the beans up. add S&P to taste, remember its a lot of veggies and beans so it may require more salt then you would have though – very last thing fold in the cilantro. cover and chill up to a full day ahead but at least 1 hour.

fruits of labor: summer shrimp

July 10, 2009

here is the fruits of my labor – that is if you consider going to the summer farmers market an act of labor – there were so many different vegetable, flowers and fruits among other things that i had to remind myself to be conservative and buy only what i though i could use over the next few days – so here is what i bought – umm delicious. and below is the recipe for what i made

for summer shrimp
2 shallots minced
2 tbsp pre or home made pesto
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp lemon zest
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/3 cup of fresh basil ribbons
3/4 to a 1lb of tomatoes cut into large bite sized chunks
(i used – 2 palm sized yellow tomatoes, 1 smallish heirloom tomato, and a small dark purplely red tomatoes – just use the freshest you can get)
3 garlic cloves minced
1 jalapeno minced
3-4 small summer squash cut in small chunks
shrimp – i figure 5-6 per person
1 cup of qunoia
half of a small block of feta
salt and pepper

begin by cutting the tomatoes up into large bite sized chunks. add them to a bowl with half of a minced shallot, 3tbsp of olive oil, 2tbsp of pesto, the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. combine all together gently and set to the side.

get the pan on for qunoia and cook according to instructions. when qunoia is done add about half to the tomato mixture stir to combine. to the remaining qunoia add the feta, basil and lemon zest & season with salt and pepper. then combine every thing together again.

while the qunoia is cooking begin the next step -for this i used my wok, but a large saute pan would be fine (*cooking times and temps may vary slightly) go once around the pan with a drizzle of olive oil, add the remaining shallot, jalapeno and a dash of salt to the pan. cook on low heat until the shallots have begun to soften, add the garlic and continue to cook until the shallots and jalapeno are cooked through and soft. turn the wok up to medium and add the summer squash. toss to coat and continue to stir frequently- the wok cooks quickly and you want them to cook evenly. when the summer squash is just tender,approx 4-5 minutes, push to the sides of the wok and add shrimp down in the middle. let them cook here for about 1 minute then combine everything and cook until shrimp reaches desired doneness – approx 3 minutes.

place a scoop of the qunoia and tomato mixture on a plate or bowl, then place some of the shrimp mixture on top of that, sprinkle with a few leaves of basil or parsley.

interior inspiration

July 7, 2009

isn’t the simplicity and neutrality of these spaces so inviting. i just want to climb right into this little cottage! this space is the work of ginger barber and was featured in the july ’09 issue of house beautiful.
i love the serene feeling that comes with the cleanness and airiness of these colors and textures. something else i love- the simple way the collection of handled crocks are left to make their own statement – they are just there to be admired in their form – or to hold flowers in the purple room or perhaps even store a little treasures or two – if you love these too, check out the one on my etsy shop

beautiful goblets for wine, water and otherwise

July 6, 2009

when i was in ireland this winter visiting my boyfriends family i saw these hand blown goblets in a store and i haven’t been able to get them out of my head since. they are everything i could want all in one beautifully crafted piece of glass –
i wish that i had some of my own so that i could set up some better pictures – this was the best that i could find. but the proportions and weight of this glass wear makes it so simple and yet so sophisticated! from the “straight range” collection of jerpoint glass.

fruits of labor: not your grandma's flank steak

July 3, 2009

not your grandma’s flank steak
you can use any size flank steak you like- here i used a 2lbs. one for the 4th of July barbecue –

Marinade – combine all of these in a separate bowl and stir until brown sugar is dissolved

  • 6 tablespoons strong brewed coffee
  • 3 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1.75 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, crushed
  • 3 -4 bay leaves

Dry RUB – combine all in a bowl and stir until well blended

  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder or coriander powder
  • 1tbsp chili powder
  • 3tsp cumin
  • 5 or 6 small passes on the grater of nutmeg approx. 1/16 of a teaspoon

i love the way that the inside of the nutmeg looks! so pretty –

  • 2lb flank steak
  • 1/2 lemon
  • salt and ground pepper
  • olive oil

lay out the flank steak flat in a baking dish. squeeze some fresh lemon juice on both sides. season both sides with salt and lightly with pepper (remember its already in the marinade) sprinkle half of the dry rub on to the first side of the meat – rub it in with your finger tips then flip the meat over and do the same thing with the rest of the rub.

then slowly pour the marinade over the top of the flank steak – be sure to get all the bits out of the bowl and on to the flank steak – flip the meat over a few times to make sure it is well coated. Finally drizzle some olive oil over the top of the flank steak before covering and putting it in the fridge. this prep can be done up to 24 hours ahead of time and as little at 1hour before cooking time – probably even less ive just never tried it less than one hour before. when you are ready to cook the steak bring your grill up to medium high heat. Cook the flank steak 4 minutes on each side or 4 on one and 3 on the other for a little bit rarer. the key to this steak is NOT to over cook it or it will be tough. let it rest at lest 10 min and then slice it against the grain the string-like bands that run through the meat, for maximum tenderness. because a flank steak is so thin, it should be sliced on an angle. Hold the knife at a 45-degree angle to the meat to get nice, wide slices