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cucumber, tomato and radish salad, saffron dressing

cucumber tomato salad

It is funny, I just joked on Facebook that it has been so long since I have blogged that I have forgotten my wordpress password. Funny at first, sure, but somewhat sad too. These last 6months have been an upheaval for my family – some large changes in our life that have come to be very welcome indeed. With things seeming like a routine again I can now focus more time to taking food photos, making food, and writing about it. For that, I am seriously happy indeed. I am even more happy for the fact that my lovely wife took a few long days to clear up the garage so I can get to my meat curing chambers again. Things are on course for a very, very meaty winter.

With all that said, on to some food. I have had a long run on this blog of vegetarian dishes, and frankly I see no harm in continuing that trend. Given that we are in the midst of the best growing season I have seen for a few years, it would be rather inconsiderate to this fine weather not to write about something that wholly reflects the current time of year. I am not going to get on the whole local/sustainable/seasonal soapbox (because most know where I stand with that), but this is the time of year where that should be done, and done simply.

asian cucumbers
We were walking around the farmers market and saw some awesome asian cucumbers at our favorite lettuce stand. Snatching those up, and a watermelon radish I set home with a few ideas in mind. I have been looking at a lot of Persian dishes recently, and figured I might well do something in that vain. A simple side salad that was clean, fresh, and interesting enough to seem far more complicated than it really is.

cucumber tomato salad
So here. Mandoline a bunch of cucumber (the asian ones really do work well here) and watermelon radish, slice some tomatoes into wedges, mix up some saffron and herbs, and give this a go.

One thing I want to do is to take shots of my photography setups for each shot. This is really for my learning more than anything – so I have a log of how to do things. I see no harm in sharing the shots! If anyone has suggestions on changes to setup I would love to hear them!

(yes that is actually my white shirt I’m using as the linen!)

food photography setup

Cucumber tomato salad
Cucumber, Tomato, Radish salad recipe

2 cucumbers, preferably the less bitter asian variety
10 ripe cherry tomatoes
1 watermelon radish
a few springs of basil and mint
15 saffron threads
2 tablespoons of hot water
splash of lemon juice
2 talbespoons of good olive oil
sea salt

mix the saffron threads with the hot water. Let sit for 30 minutes.

Using a mandoline or some mad knife skills slice the cucumbers lengthwise, discarding (or snacking on) the core/seeds. Slice the watermelon radish using the mandolin also, across the radish so you see that awesome starburst color. Slice the cherry tomatoes into eight’s through the core to make nice looking wedges.

Whisk together the oil, lemon juice and saffron water. Tear the herb leaves into large pieces. Toss all of the ingredients together, and dress with the saffron vinaigrette. Season to taste with good sea salt.

Homemade labne with toasted nuts, spices and honeycomb

Hello, have you missed me? You see, my dog ate my computer so all of those 20 posts I have backed up and ready to hit “publish” on disappeared down fido’s esophagus.

To tell the truth this has been a crazy start to the year. Some health stuff, starting a new job, a remodel. Lots of changes. The biggest right now is that my curing chambers are (and have been) out of commission, which I hope to rectify shortly.

Thankfully things have stopped being “mental” as I call them, and I have actually managed to pickup my camera again, after far too many months. The first thing I aimed it at was some cheese. Well, the first thing was my son in his pterodactyl costume, but that doesn’t work for this blog. The cheese however does. The cheese in question is Labne. Some might know it as strained yogurt, greek yogurt, yogurt cheese, or whatever else. Personally I prefer to call it Labne, purely because it makes it sound far more mystical and somehow trickier to make than it actually is.

get this labne recipe after the jump

A bean stew with beet salad for a cold night

Things have been quiet around here recently. The last couple of months have been quite an unexpected roller coaster here in the Wrightfood household, and frankly I haven’t had much interest in blogging to be honest. Thankfully, things are starting to look exceedingly good for us, which has also meant that thankfully my passion for food has returned a bit.

On the cards these days is simple, fast, tasty food. The kind of food that you can whack a lot of flavor into in the space of 15 minutes, but yet it still has a subtle clean elegance to it, even if it is a rustic pot-o-beans.

get this bean stew recipe after the jump

smoked squash, herb marinated feta, garlic dressing

I don’t do a lot of smoking. I won a smoker a few years back for a photo of some meat, and guess what – I never used it. It stayed in garage, unopened in the box. Well, honestly, that was mainly because it was one of those that used these dicey pellets of reformed wood and with me being the hippy that I am I didn’t want to smoke my food with a bunch of unknown substances that hold that reformed wood together. I imagined it to be kinda like smoking food using MDF. Nah, not for me.

get this smoked squash recipe after the jump

beets with creme fraiche and other stuff..

Beets are my favorite root vegetable. My favorite to grow in our back yard, and my favorite to chow down on come the cooler months. They have, I have to say, been one of our great successes in the yard. We aren’t experienced gardeners, especially when it comes to vegetables. Many things have died from either our neglect or over attention, but beets have never been one of them. The seeds we sowed this year even survived a ridiculously wet spring and early summer that left most of our other crops bait for slugs. Each year we grow a couple of different varieties, some golden, some of the standard red ones and my personal favorite the chioggia beet. The chioggia is hands down the prettiest beet in the patch. I love how they look simple and beetish in the ground. You pick them and the slightly more red/orange root still looks like a standard beet, albeit a slightly odd colored one. But once you cut in to one raw and see the magnificent strips of brightly colored flesh you are sold. Unfortunately they loose some of that when cooked, however – which just means they should be eaten raw more often. For some reason it always reminds me of cutting in to a watermelon radish, a similar spectacular display of colors and patterns.

get more beets after the jump

roasted peppers, millet with apricots, raisins, hazelnuts and toasted spices

It is about this time of year that I start doing quite a lot with locally grown peppers. They crop up at the farmers markets everywhere and it is pretty much impossible to walk through without picking up at least one bag. Over the years I have started to stray away from the usual red bell peppers, in search of more interesting shapes and colors. I actively hunt out the odd looking ones. Those deformed ones seem to have more character and I think they taste better to boot – or maybe just photograph with more charm..

Click to read more of this roasted pepper recipe

a simple pot of beans

As I start getting old in my years, I am starting to realize there are two things that you shouldn’t mess with. The first is your mother-in-law, and the second is a pot beans. I am not even going to go there with the first – I happen to have a great MIL, so no worries there. The pot of beans is a far more complex issue anyhow (not calling the MIL “simple” you understand) because it needs subtly, which as we all know mother-in-laws can never have (hi Nell!)…

Beans are a favorite of mine, not just because they go so darn well with pork. Oh, and lamb to that point too. Beans have the ability to soak up so much flavor from whatever they are cooked in, yet remain delicate and individually nuanced if you want them to be.

get more beans after the jump

breakfast

“You need to eat more protein” said my naturopath, “preferably at breakfast” she added. Being honest, I wasn’t totally surprised. My breakfasts recently had been cereal mixed with nuts and apples, covered in yogurt (Grace Harbor Farms for the world!). Looks like there is less protein in yogurt than I figured.

To some readers of this blog, that might be a shock. Given that my world the last couple of years has revolved around cured meat, pig and fish. This might be a tall order to expect you to believe this, but I honestly don’t eat much meat. In fact, a lot of the stuff I cure I give away. So, with all this in mind I set about coming up with a few fast breakfasts that revolved around my number 1 favorite food.

Eggs.

Click to read more about my favorite breakfast

celery root remoulade

Some things are so classic, so perfectly right as they are that it seems like a total disgrace to “reinvent” them. There is a reason some dishes have been around for a long time, on and off restaurant menu’s, but always there. There is a tricky knife edge here though. You can fall one way in to classic stardom of a recipe – something so good, so simple that it should never be changed. A quick shake on the edge however and things can fall drastically apart. The dish can be flat, boring, dated.

(more…)

Roast baby turnips, guanciale, fines herbs

The poor old turnip gets a bad rap. It always seems to get out classed by other winter root vegetables (back off rutabaga’s..) and never quite ever gets seen as the star of the show. Half of the problem I think for us Brit’s was its association with Baldrick (NOTHING is ever going to be cool if associated with Baldrick) from the incredibly funny Blackadder TV series. From there it was just downhill for this sweet tasting white globe. I personally prefer the smaller, or “baby” turnips. I think they are sweeter, and more delicate. Just like me.

Click to see and read more and to get this turnip recipe

chickpea, chanterelle, local black truffle

There are some dishes, quite a lot of dishes in fact, that I cook and never think twice about blogging the recipe for. In my mind they are too simple, too “everyday” and have no cured meat element to them!

Sod that I thought one day however. This is how I like to eat. Simple food, quality ingredients, honest cooking. If there can be a shed load of butter involved, than this makes it all the more reason to talk about it, no?

My favorite way of appeasing the hungry vegetarian in our household (Danika) is to cook up a variety of small plates most nights, depending on what is in the fridge or the garden. Typically I will muster together four little dishes, generally including some kind of green salad, and for me just add in some fish or meat. I am finding this vegetarian thing of her’s super fun. Whether I will in the dead of winter will be another matter, but right now it is enjoyable, creative and fun.

Click to get this chickpea recipe and read more

rustic modern sofrito

I had this post almost typed up and for some reason WordPress thought it would be funny not to save it. Quite frankly, and being honest with myself, that isn’t such a bad thing – it was a little dry. Lets see if it, like everything else, is better the second time around..

Sofrito is a very slow cooked mixture of finely chopped tomatoes, onions and garlic. This all gets slowly cooked in olive oil until reduced, caramelized and very flavorful. Bell peppers are often added in to the mix as well – but a classic sofrito is just those aromatics mentioned above.

The last time I did a sofrito was about this time a year ago and it took for bloody ever. The whole deal took about 5 hours – course most of that was cooking and drinking time, which is never all that bad – but it took a while. Typically sofrito is used as a rich flavoring component, and not something featured on its own. Last year I used it in a halibut and bean recipe, which was one of my more favorite things I have ever cooked. Honestly, that is most likely because of the sofrito, and after cooking it for so long I was sure as heck gonna enjoy it.

So once again fate happened, and I ended up with a bunch of tomatoes and bell peppers, wondering what to do with them. I thought of sofrito again – the first time in a while. Then I hit myself in the head with a pan, just for thinking of a building block that takes ages to make given my hectic schedule. Now, I never like to let a pan get the better of me, so I started thinking of sofrito again – this time out in the garden, away from anything I could bludgeon myself with.

Click to get this sofrito recipe and see more pictures!

Indian sweet and sour chickpeas, spinach roti

Being British I am genetically disposed to Indian food. I am also ridiculously snooty about Indian food. Outside of India, I reckon that England could quite possibly be the best place to pick up some fantastic authentic Indian nosh.

Being this snooty about it doesn’t make eating out in Seattle for Indian food fun. Not that much. Not for my incredibly patient wife, who has to listen to my food rants, and not for my taste buds either. The first time I went to an Indian restaurant here in Seattle, I got the worst food poisoning I have ever had, and spent three days in the smallest room in the house, kneeling, cursing the seafood mixed grill.

Click to read more, and get the chickpea curry recipe

The garden with a mix of fire

I thought I might just pop in a photography post this week – a few shots of our little vegetable garden, which I reckon is coming along nicely. Course, that all seems a little too nice, polite and pretty.. so lets through in some fire too (grilled gluten free pizza). Jolly good show.

Happy summer everyone!

Click to see more of our vegetable garden photos!

Savoy Cabbage and Caper Salad

Savoy Cabbage Salad recipe

Cabbage is not the sexiest thing to blog about. The whole group of vegetables that fall under the cabbage genus (is it a genus? I am guessing so) just conjure up images that are rather unappealing and the best of times.

My memories of cabbage really aren’t that good to be honest. The British have quite a history assaulting this group of plants, and quite honestly a lot of it could quite easily fall under the “war crimes” category, for it is that bad. I remember going over for Sunday lunch at my Grandparents a few times a year. Generally my grandmother was a great cook, she could knock a roast dinner like nobodies business. Cabbage however was another thing. The cabbage got boiled. Boiled for a very, very long time. “Fall apart tender” would be one polite description that could be used.

Click to see this cabbage salad recipe