Spicewood Salad with Edible Flowers

Greens Salad with Watermelon Vinaigrette, Blueberries, and Edible Flowers

I think I’ll remember my parents’ and my in-laws’ gardens forever and for many reasons. They provided us with most of the food during difficult times in the 90s. They became the source of our memories about the best tasting fruits and vegetables. They gave us the knowledge of how much hard work, patience, and passion goes into gardening.

I still see something magical in being able to walk to the garden, harvest whatever looks good at the moment, and quickly fix a meal, fresh and satisfying, and undoubtedly healthy. The next best thing for me is going to the local farmers market. The closest, Pedernales farmers market is slowly growing on me. Things changed when I started talking to farmers, asking questions, talking about ingredients, food, eating experiences. It became a pleasure to see them almost every week and to notice their ever-changing assortment of fresh vegetables. The more we talk, the more I realize how passionate they are about their lifestyle. I have to mention two farmers and farms that became special for me — April @LivinOrganics and Neal @food_forest_tx — my major organic vegetables, greens, and herbs suppliers for the last month. These farms are the reason my family eats much more plant-based food recently, and not so much for health reasons, but mostly for the pleasure of true, real, natural flavors of food as we remember it from the past.

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Beets Salad with Feta Dressing

Steamed beets salad with Feta dressing

Both beet varieties in this salad are an heirloom. Detroit red beets are the most popular, often described as “old standard.” Touchstone Gold roots have bright yellow flesh and retain their color when cooked. They are smooth, sweet and tasty, highly flavorful. Creamy Feta dressing with a touch of garlic compliments them, and the toppings add to their beauty. If you like a combination of earthy-sweet and pungent-salty, this salad is for you!

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Heirloom Wheat and Rye Galette with Alaskan Salmon

Heirloom Rye and Wheat Galette with Alaskan Salmon

I am not a big fan of that kind of galettes — rustic looking flat cakes stuffed with whatever. This one is the first I’ve ever made, and the reason it made me curious was a combination of fish and rye. The origins of rustic rye pie with fish, I believe, come from Northen Europe. Kalakukko is a good example. My friend’s recipe inspired me, but the amount of vegetable oil in the dough forced me to go through several rye crust recipes available online just to see what else is out there. There were plenty and all of them overloaded with fat. One, in particular, made me almost give up my search for the low-fat version. It was a very tempting flaky rye crust made with tons of butter using the same method as for the flaky Pâte Brisée. But then I remembered my recently discovered The-Best-Ever dough. I tried using the same method for the rye and wheat mix of flours, and it worked! Again.

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Chard Rolls with Carrot and Cheddar Béchamel

Steamed Chard Rolls with Carrot and Cheddar Béchamel

I dreamed of making something special with the treasures I got at the LivinOrganics farm for a few days. The idea of steamed chard rolls came to me when two other legendary recipes crossed my mind almost at the same time — capuns and vertical lasagna with morels. Gently steamed broad chard leaves seemed a good candidate to sub the sfoglia. And then there were April’s amazingly sweet young carrots I could use to flavor bechamel, along with garlic and cheddar.

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Easy Dough for Ravioli/Pierogi Makers | Greens and Feta Dumplings

Greens and Feta Dumplings

I equally enjoy eating and making dumplings. It’s one of those foods that gives me an opportunity to let my fingers work on something fine and elaborate. That’s why I haven’t given a try to my ravioli maker for years until now. But even a passionate cook who tends to make meals from scratch feels lazy from time to time and I unpacked it.

I had an idea about what kind of dough will be best to use for the maker, and the first try was successful. There were only three convenient ingredients. The dough was easy to make and easy to use. It didn’t need more than 15 minutes to rest and nicely rolled very thin. The dumplings were cooked in about 2 minutes.

I tried it for a few times with different stuffings and now happy to share the recipe! It is perfect for dumplings with the stuffing that benefits from quick cooking — raw herbs, berries, fresh cheese, etc. Enjoy!

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Guglhupf | Kougelhopf | Alsatian Brioche

Kougelhopf| Guglhupf | Alsatian Brioche

What we call brioche is a bread highly enriched with milk, eggs, and butter. The more eggs and butter in the ratio, the puffier the bread, the more tender its crumb, the longer it stays fresh and soft (read it as moist). Similar dough recipes exist in many cuisines and have different uses. Differently shaped and cooked, brioche is loved all over the world. Alsatian brioche can be less sweet and served with foie gras and Riesling and can be sweeter and served as a dessert with coffee.

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Limoncello

Limoncello and lemons

Everybody knows what Limoncello is. Not everybody knows how it should taste. I don’t. I haven’t been to Italy and didn’t have a chance to get a sip of “as good as Nonna’s” Limoncello. Nevertheless, there is an ideal flavor I am looking for every time I buy a promising bottle of this authentic, imported from Southern Italy liqueur. So far, it’s always been a disappointment. Maybe an authentic Limoncello is about lemon zest, not a lemon? Maybe our local lemons are not good enough?

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Seafood Chowder

Seafood Chowder

The day has the color and the sound of winter. Thoughts turn to chowder…chowder breathes reassurance. It steams consolation.
— Clementine Paddleford

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Caviar Sauce — Cream of Ocean

Cream of Ocean Sauce with Caviar

Sea scallops are probably the most winning seafood ingredient to serve with this sauce. They can be made using different cooking methods, including searing, steaming, and simmering, etc. This sauce is good with fresh pasta. And, of course, any combination of pasta and seafood are perfect. My favorite dish with this sauce is sea scallop dumplings.

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Boring British Food | New Yorkshire Pudding

New Yorkshire Pudding

It’s been five years since Boring British Food project came to an end. It was a lot of fun to collaborate with my friend Katya who published more than a dozen books about the Victorian era. We discovered a remarkable number of dishes from the British Islands that became regular in my kitchen. The Yorkshire Pudding is one of them. Our version makes fast and easy dinner, and it is true to Yorkshire Pudding historical roots. Winter is an excellent time to enjoy it!

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