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The Meatrix I'm not a vegetarian but I dislike factory farming and I support small, family farms.


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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Paper Chef #3 Ingredient nominations open and... 
It is that time of month again. The third edition of the Paper Chef will take place a week from Friday on February 4th through 7th. As we muddle along, trying to find the method that works best for all of us, here is where the current ingredient list stands:

anchovies, cinnamon, smoked paprika, oranges, wheat flour, chorizo, goat cheese, stale bread, yeast, tamarind and eggplant.

Do not nominate: potatoes, savoy cabbage, chicken, lemon, ginger, almonds, cilantro/coriander or winter squash since they are previously used ingredients. Anyone can nominate ingredients but only one ingredient per person. The final three random ingredients will be chosen from this list on Friday the 4th of February and I will update the list at least once before then to reflect more nominations. You may also nominate over at Is My Blog Burning? where there is a Paper Chef ingredients forum.

On to other matters. I tweak my blog from time to time and along with using Haloscan comments, I am now going to use their trackback system (see below this post) and a trick I found at the Blogger help site to let you use shorter versions of posts on the main page with longer ones on the full story page. Like this...

Not that I am going to put much in here but just fair warning for the future.

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Sunday, January 23, 2005

IMBB Legumes: Warm French Lentil Salad and Maddhur Jaffrey's Tarka Dahl 
So, I am hoping to slip in under the wire here...I made a warm French Lentil Salad of my own devising yesterday and today a lovely Tarka Red Lentil Dahl from Maddhur Jaffrey's fantastic cookbook, "Quick and Easy Indian Cooking."

I had made a stunning roast leg of lamb that I cooked for seven hours at 275 in a covered pot in the oven and I wanted something that would go with it besides the lemon rosemary rice I had already made. So I made some wok-fried bok choy with black bean sauce and this lentil salad.
Warm French Lentil Salad copyright 2004 Owen Linderholm

Warm French Lentil Salad

First, I carefully picked over and washed three cups of French dark lentils (Lentils de Puy) and put them to boil with plenty of water and a teaspoon of salt and a whole stalk of rosemary and a whole lemon cut up. In the meantime I diced up about a cup and a half of cabbage and finely minced four cloves of garlic. I also sliced up half a cup of dry roasted smoked almonds as small as I could. Once the lentils were cooked (45 minutes), I drained them, fished out the lemon chunks and the rosemary stick (leaving the rosemary leaves in the lentils). Then I rapidly stirred in the cabbage and left it to wilt. I heated up three tablespoons of butter in a cast iron skillet until it was browned but not yet burning, then I added the almonds and garlic and let them toast for a little while. I added them and a tablespoon of hazelnut oil, two tablespoons of olive oil and the juice of a whole lemon to the lentils and a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Then I added a little more salt to taste after thoroughly combining all the ingredients.

The whole meal was a delight, especially the lamb and lentils. I'll write about the non-legume parts next time.

Our whole family loves lentil dahl, especially the Tarka Dahls where a highly spiced and seasoned oil is stirred into the basic lentil or bean dish at the last minute. But this simple recipe from Maddhur Jaffrey is just the greatest. I can't recommend the cookbook enough. You will immediately be able to make better Indian food than any Indian restaurant on the West Coast.

Here's our version - only changed to double it and add garlic.

Red Lentil Tarka Dahl

Wash and pick over 3 cups of red lentils. Add them to a heavy pot with ten cups of water and two teaspoons of turmeric. Bring to a boil and turn to a low simmer covered for 40 minutes. Then stir in a tablespoon of salt. Meanwhile slice four cloves of garlic into the thinnest slices you can manage. Now heat up three tablespoons of canola oil in a small frying pan until very hot and add a quarter teaspoon of red chilli flakes, a teaspoon of cumin seeds and the garlic. Stir while they all cook until the garlic is all turning brown. Dump the whole lot into the lentil pot, watching out for very vigorous steam explosions. Stir it all up thoroughly and serve...

Red Lentil Tarka Dahl copyright 2004 Owen Linderholm
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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Joys Of The Veggie Box 
Wednesdays are vegetable box days. We have been getting a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box from Terra Firma Farms in Winters, CA for about ten years now (with a two year hiatus when we lived on the isolated North Coast). It has always been a delight. We get the large version which costs us $104 per month for four boxes (one per week). To give you some idea of what you get, this week it was:

Four pounds of new potatoes
Twelve large navel oranges (about 8 pounds)
A bunch of the nicest, most photogenic carrots I have ever seen (Guinea Pigs get the tops)
Four pounds of new baby broccoli
Three large leeks
Four medium heads of bok choi
A bunch of collard greens
A bunch of red beets with beet greens attached
A small head of cauliflower
2 pounds of fresh spinach, separated, triple-washed and bagged.

Everything is seasonal. Everything is organic. Everything is absolutely fresh (picked yesterday). And it all tastes better than anything you can get at the grocery store.

And this is a 'boring' week. We usually get apples, nuts and something a little unusual. If you price this out against even non-organic produce at the market, it is a decent buy. If you try to match the quality then you rapidly jump to a lot more money.
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Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Non-entry for the last Paper Chef 
In the blinding haste of tracking all the entries for the last Paper Chef, I never got around to posting my own non-entry. I always try to make something even though I am not allowed to participate.

I had a few ideas about what to make mostly involving curries and stews but I decided to go with a technique that a LOT of other people used: wrapping. We had egg rolls and cabbage wraps and stuffed chicken and all kinds of things. I went with the humble calzone. I don't even know if the calzone is really an authentic Italian food. To me it has always seemed a way for thousands of small pizzerias across America to present the pizza in a different form. Wrap all the toppings up in a pouch of the pizza dough...

Where I grew up in England this was called a pasty. Of course, a pasty uses shortcrust pastry and by time-honored hidebound tradition, may only have certain ingredients.

But whatever you call it, this was basically going to be a pasty made with pizza dough and filled with chicken, savoy cabbage, lemon and potato. Of course, this being California where absolutely EVERYTHING grows, I couldn't get any savoy cabbage. I used a mix of collard greens and leeks to make up.

Chicken, potato, lemon and greens Calzone

First, get a batch of pizza dough ready. I cheated. I used a premade one. Then preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Then dice up a potato as fine as you can reasonably easily. Dice up a leek. Zest a whole Meyer Lemon (or other lemon) and juice it, putting the juice aside. Chop up some collard greens. Dice up a precooked piece of chicken left over from a roast earlier in the week. Gently saute the potato and leek in a little olive oil until both are softened. Add the greens and the lemon zest and chicken and continue until all are warm. Add the lemon juice and a teaspoon of salt.

Calzone Ingredients

Take pieces of pizza dough about two inches in diameter and stretch them into circles. Fill the circles with as much filling as you can get in and rapidly fold the dough over them, rolling and crimping the edges so that they don't come undone. Put them on a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake for about twelve minutes until a nice brown color all over. Serve while still hot.

Finished Calzone

Next time I will add a little grated cheese to the mixture.
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Monday, January 17, 2005

Gnocchi Redux 
Back to the writing about food I made rather than the writing about writing about food that other people made.

I made a simple mashed potato and chicken meal the other night and deliberately made much too much mashed potato. I wanted to get back to making gnocchi and see what else I could come up with. (The previous link is to my justly infamous sage and parmesan gnocchi with a browned sage butter and chilli sauce).

This time I went for a more basic spinach gnocchi. I had about two pounds of mashed potatoes and I added a pound of cooked frozen organic spinach and a little nutmeg and a teaspoon of white pepper and two teaspoons of salt. Then I added two cups of flour and kept stirring it in, adding more until I had a nice pliable (but still a little sticky) dough. I lost track of the exact amount of flour - sorry.

Then I rolled the dough out into rods about an inch thick with more flour to prevent sticking and cut them into about one inch by one inch pieces. Traditionally you flatten them a little with a fork at this point to increase surface area. I just used the knife I cut them with.

Meanwhile I had gotten a big pot of water to a rolling boil. I added a couple of tablespoons of salt and then left it on high while I rapidly made a leek and tomato and sherry and lemon zest and lemon juice and garlic sauce. Then I put the raw gnocchi carefully in the pot a few at a time and very gently stirred to make sure they didn't stick to the bottom. They are all done when they float to the top, which they pretty shortly did. Pour on sauce, add grated romano cheese. Good but nothing like the previously mentioned gnocchi - make those instead. Next time I will try butternut squash gnocchi.
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One wasn't enough 
I had to go and start another blog. At least this one I can pass off as a business expense...

Some of you know that I am in the throes of starting a small publishing company of my own. Not surprisingly, its first title will be about cooking and food. Specifically it will be a compilation of the best food blog writing from Summer 2003 through Summer 2004. Not quite everyone that I invited to take part agreed to do so, but it was a surprisingly small number that didn't want to give it a try. Anyway, things are coming to a head. Business filing is this week. RFQs have gone out to printers. Main body of book is copy edited. Intro is being edited. Cover copy is being finalized. Copies should be back from printer in very early February.

So what has all this got to do with another blog? The answer is that it has been such an interesting and frustrating experience that I am writing about it in the official Press For Change Publishing blog that I started ohhhh - about an hour ago.
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Wednesday, January 12, 2005

We have a winner! (Or three) 

Paper Chef January 2005

We have a winner (or three). Ronald of Is My Blog Burning and Love Sicily wanted to give three awards, so here they are...

I could go on and on about how wonderful they all were, what a great work they all did, how it was very difficult to choose because each one had something special - (and I just did go on and on).

So on to the results - I have three awards. One is the real one - the other two are ones that I just made up.

So the "Most Chaotic Way to Arrive at a Good Recipe Award" goes to Baking Beast.

The "Most Honest Recipe But I Still Cannot Believe That Someone Would Cook Chicken In the Microwave- For God's Sake, Let' s Be Serious People Award!" - goes to your brother (James).

Finally, the "Paper Chef" award goes to the Domestic Goddess. The recipe was fantastic, she used all the ingredients together in an imaginative way, and I really, really, would like to taste that.

So, Jennifer gets to put the nice shiny award logo on her site (or not - she has a lot better design skills than we do here at Tomatilla!)

Paper Chef Winner icon Jan 2005

Thank you all very much for participating. All the very wonderful entries are here in case you can't find them some other way. The Paper Chef for February 2005 will start on the first Friday, which is February 4th. Look for the official ingredient list at Noon PST.

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Monday, January 10, 2005

Paper Chef January 2005 Final Entries 
OK, the gate has closed and all entries are in. We got a wonderful eleven entries this time from as far afield as Sweden and Singapore (well Singapore via Texas and England). Our guest judge, Ronald of Is My Blog Burning and Love Sicily is going to have his hands full with this one!

Here are the entries in the order in which they were received. Emily actually submitted hers not much more than 24 hours after the ingredients were announced!

Emily of Baking Beast, submitted Sauteed Chicken with Potatoes, Napa Cabbage, and Carrots

Kevin of Seriously Good submitted Chicken in Parchment [no permalink]

James, no blog (as yet!) of his own, hosted at Tomatilla!, submitted Savoy Chicken

Daffy, a brand new food blogger of KiTcHeN cRaZy submitted Cabbage stuffed with chicken and potatoes in a lemon sauce

Jocelyn (with the lovely nickname of McAuliflower) of Brownie Points submitted Chicken in Milk with Potatoes and Savoy Cabbage

Anne of Where's My Dinner submitted Oven-fried garlic chicken parmesan with Potato wedges and Savoy Slaw with lemon and Turkish yogurt

Carolyn of 18th Century Cuisine (this is her second Paper Chef) submitted a Potato Galette

Ellen of Chronicles of a Curious Cook submitted Chicken with Sauteed Cabbage and Potatoes

Sam of Becks and Posh (this is also her second Paper Chef) submitted Lemon Cashew Chicken - Crispy "Seaweed" - Creamy, Spicy Potato Salad

Viv of Seattle Bon Vivant (Winner of Paper Chef in December) submitted Roasted Meyer Lemon Chicken with Savoy Cabbage, Chanterelles and Yukon Golds

and finally,

Jennifer of The Domestic Goddess submitted Lemon Chicken Egg Rolls with Citrus Dipping Sauce

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Official Paper Chef Entry for my brother 
[[Two hours left for entries... Note from Owen: everything that follows in this post is the responsibility of my brother. You can make all complaints, comments, plaudits etc. to him.]]

The Paper Chef: Chicken Savoy

Chicken Savoy

As you could extrapolate from the title of this dish, my style of cooking tends to be simple and quick. Had I named this recipe "Poulet au citron et pommes de terre enveloppe de chou de Savoie, avec fromage de Gruyere" you would have spent longer reading the name out loud than it actually takes to cook the thing! Well, not quite, but some of you would have had to check the French dictionary for pronunciation and that would definitely have taken longer than the entire cooking time for this dish. In fact, it took longer to stand at the checkout counter to buy the stupid savoy cabbage than it took to cook this. In case you have not yet grasped the point, this dish is quick!

Now some purists, such as my mother and at least one of my brothers, will take issue with my cooking methods here. The rest of us know a good thing when we see it, and we decry them for the food snobs that they are. You see, you are going to cook this entire dish with a microwave. Oh yes, the way real folks cook. None of your Viking range, double-boiler, meat thermometer, Williams-Sonoma nonsense today! This is your home-from-work, TV-to-watch, feet-to-put-up cooking style. So, without further ado, here is the recipe.

Chicken Savoy

4 portions, or enough for two regular people, four diet freaks or 1 person living alone with enough for tonight and some to take to work tomorrow in a plastic container to reheat in the microwave in the staff room for lunch.

1 chicken breast
2 potatoes
4 savoy cabbage leaves Nice big ones, but not the very outside ones, because although they are the largest, they are sometimes nasty and scuffed and brown, and you wouldn't want that. But you knew that, didn't you?
Half a regular lemon. They don’t have meyer lemons in Alabama; they have Heilig-Meyers Furniture, with a permanent inventory reduction/going out of business sale. I was doing good to get the savoy cabbage!
6 oz. Gruyere cheese
Cream, preferably the good thick stuff that goes straight to your arteries. Don't worry, most of the calories evaporate when you cook with it. Or maybe that's wine. Sorry.
Caraway seeds, salt and pepper

Right, here we go...

Chop the chicken breast into small pieces, say half-inch cubes, place in a cheap plastic dish and grate the zest of the half lemon over it. Hint: this is much easier to do if you don't cut the lemon in half yet – oops, should have told you that earlier. Now cut the lemon in half and squeeze it over the chicken. Only half, remember and don't forget to pick out the seeds that have fallen in. Now your hands smell nice. Bung the plastic bowl into the microwave and nuke it for about 2 minutes. Remove and stir, then put it back in for 1 or 2 minutes more, depending on how good your oven is.

During this time, instead of just watching the food go round in the microwave oven, peel the potatoes and dice them. Let's say half-inch cubes for these also. Depending on how fast you are, you should also be able to chop up 4 oz. of the cheese before the oven goes "Ping." Slice the remaining cheese and set it aside for later.

4 minutes gone. Well, technically it took some time to stir, but de minimis, as the lawyers say.

Take out the chicken and set it aside. Shove the diced potatoes in a microwaveable dish with about a quarter of an inch of water and salt and pepper to taste. Nuke for about 4 minutes also. Meanwhile, pry off about 4 good leaves of the savoy cabbage and wash them.

When the potatoes are done, put the cabbage leaves in and set them going for 2 or 3 minutes. The aim is to get them soft enough to wrap with. Don't worry about the thick part down the middle. By the time you could get that soft, the rest of the leaf would have shriveled up completely; no good at all.

Chicken Savoy

Instead, after the leaf is soft, just make a little wedge cut either side of the ridge, going up about 3 inches into the leaf, and remove the thick part. You may want to take the leaves out and splash them with a little water part way through if you think they are getting dry.

8 minutes gone

Sprinkle each leaf with caraway. Put a quarter of the diced, cooked potatoes on a leaf, followed by a quarter of the chicken and a quarter of the cheese. Fold the leaf up as shown, rolling as tight as you can.

Place all four cabbage rolls in a microwaveable dish, splash on some cream and use the remaining cheese to make a thin layer on top of everything. Nuke for about 3 or 4 minutes. Enjoy.

12 minutes (20 if you were really, really slow)

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Sunday, January 09, 2005

Paper Chef Update 
Entries are coming in. It is very exciting. I even got one from my brother James, who I knew dropped in occasionally since I do look at referrer logs from time to time, and who else from Alabama would it be?

James doesn't have a blog of his own - and it would be about either gymnastics or gardening if he did - so I'll post his entry here later tonight. I haven't even looked at his recipe yet, but I'm sure it will be good. We all got taught to cook pretty much from as soon as we could. I remember him being the baker. He was making yeast bread from scratch at I don't know how old - eight?

Just a reminder of what happens from here. Deadline for entries is at Noon PST (that is West Coast USA time). I then pass them all on to our judge who lets me know the winner as soon as he/she is able. I also post links to all the entries on Monday afternoon/evening.
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Friday, January 07, 2005

Paper Chef January 2005 Edition Is Open! 
It is a new year. There's cooking a plenty afoot. (See SHF #4 for some brilliant nut-related desserts). So we are going to give you two extra hours for the Paper Chef (aren't we kind!)

By the way, this is highly informal. If you'd like to suggest a change to the format please do so in the comments.

Paper Chef Winner icon Jan 2005.

For January 2005, the final ingredients are:

1)Potatoes - any kind, any way, any how.
2)Savoy Cabbage - OK this on is a little specialised, but if you can't get savoy, any other cabbage will do and if you really can't stand cabbage than use any other leafy green. But do give savoy cabbage a try if you can - it is nice stuff and fits in well with...
3)Chicken - any kind, any way, any how. Including, for vegetarians, any chicken substitute you care to try. See, I told you we weren't terribly rule-bound here!
4)Lemon - preferably Meyer Lemon. I am looking out the window at the neighbours' infamous Meyer Lemon tree with about 200 nice ripe ones. I know that this may not be seasonal everywhere at the moment (Australia, Singapore?) but lemon is easy to get.

Start as soon as you read this - and email a link to your entry about what you cooked before Monday Noon PST.

Winner gets to put up the prestigious Paper Chef Winner icon (which will be supplied) and also some kind of prize. In this case it will be a free copy of "Digital Dish" - a compilation of the best food blog writing of the past year or so. The book will be published by Press For Change Publishing, the publishing company I am starting. You will start to see more details about the book online in the next month or so. The winner will have to wait until the end of the month (or maybe February) to receive their prize, however.

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Paper Chef January 2005 Edition Preliminaries 
OK, it's that time of month again. Time for the Paper Chef.

TO recap, here are the rules (slightly updated and now the semi-official set)

Semi-Official Paper Chef Rules

On the first Friday of every month at some point prior to Noon PST, I will announce a list of four ingredients that must be used, along with any other ingredients you choose, to make a dish and then write about it by Noon PST on Monday, 72 hours later. An impartial guest judge will pick the best sounding recipe to them and the winner will be awarded the "Paper Chef" title for that month along with a meaningless prize of no intrinsic value that I will donate. You also get to display the prestigious winner icon on your site. Anyone who wants to is welcome to submit ingredient ideas and all suitable ones will go onto a list. Three of the ingredients will be randomly picked from the list and the fourth will be seasonal or trendy or in the news in some way. If the list of four is totally unsuitable (maraschino cherries, english mustard, liver and suet) then we will redraw randomly until it is conceivable to cook different kinds of dishes with all four ingredients.

Ingredient suggestions go to the Paper Chef forum on Is My Blog Burning up to midnight the day before the event. Ingredients that are NOT selected will be rolled over for a month and then removed. Anyone at all can suggest one ingredient - not more. Suggestions that are not realistic or are in bad taste in the estimation of the powers that be (me for the moment) will be ignored.

No sign up is necessary to take part. Just send an email to owenl1998@yahoo.com before Noon PST on the Monday to point to your entry.

OK - final shortlist from which the three ingredients will be chosen is:

anchovies, cinnamon, savoy cabbage, smoked paprika, oranges, wheat flour, chorizo, potatoes, goat cheese, chicken, stale bread, yeast and tamarind

and we cannot use ginger, almonds, cilantro/coriander or winter squash.

Guest judge this time is Ronald of "Is My Blog Burning?" and "Love Sicily"/"Via Ritiro N.7."

Final list of four (including the special seasonal ingredient) available in about two hours!
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Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Upside-Down Hotpot 
The hotpot is a funny dish - seeing as how it has nothing whatsoever to do with a pot. But it is tasty, although very meat-and-potatoes unfashionable.

Something I was reading by Nigel Slater made me realise that I could adapt the recipe a little for an almost no work midweek supper. He had written that he liked nothing better than to roast a joint on top of a mound of potatoes and veg for a simple and satisfying meal.

Then, at the store, I noticed that leg of lamb (boneless) was cheaper than every other cut of meat except chicken. We are all tired of chicken at my house. Very tired. So I got a 1 3/4 pound boneless leg of lamb and dreamt up the upside-down hotpot.

Upside-Down Hotpot

Small butterflied leg of lamb
Two pounds of potatoes
Small head of cauliflower
half bottle white wine (or red if that's what you have)
handful of rosemary and mixed herbs
olive oil, salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Then, slice all the potatoes very thin (using the mandoline you got as a present if you like) and put them in the bottom of a roasting tin. Toss them with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs. Break the cauliflower into tiny florets and stir them in. Trim all the fat you can off the lamb and rub it with a little oil, salt, pepper and the rosemary and mixed herbs. Lay on top of the potatoes. Pour half the wine into the tin. Put in to roast for three and a half hours. Halfway through, mix up the vegetables and turn the lamb over and pour on the rest of the wine.

Serve with salad or greens.

The lamb comes out soft and tender from the slow roasting/steaming.

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