Can we PLEASE get serious about cole slaw?

Cabbage - great keeper. Also copiously available at the Farmers' Market where I work. Thus, ideal vegetable for poor and produce minded me.

Judes and I have addressed the cole slaw issue before, but I would like to share a little delight that I whipped up this week.

Fast Cole Slaw Everyone Likes
1/2 head medium to small cabbage, about 4 cups chopped
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 finely diced shallot.
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup white sugar
healthy dash of Soy Sauce

  • Slice cabbage thinner than imaginable. Seriously.
  • Toast almonds at 350. This happens faster then you thick. As soon as you smell them, take them out of the oven.
  • Toss sliced cabbage, almonds, and cranberries in a medium bowl.
  • Whisk together shallot, olive oil, red wine vinegar (you could also try rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar), sugar, and soy sauce. Dress cabbage mixture. Feel free to adjust dressing quantities to your liking - I am not a fan of lots of dressing, so I always keep it light - plus I think that helps the cabbage stay crisp as leftovers. If you like creamy dressing, you can whisk in a bit of mayo or sour cream.
  • Serve immediately, or set aside to marinate in the refrigerator. The dressing is strong enough that this is fine to eat right away.
I'm telling you peeps this is a winner, and obscenely simple. Did I mention that leftovers are nice with chicken? Or maybe some sesame seeds? Oh, oh , or everyone's favorite - RAMAN? Seriously, cabbage is the canvas, and we are merely the painters.

Rock on fellow foodies.

Signing off,

Reasons Why the West Coast Rules (Part I)

Collard Lake in Florence, Oregon is the land of foggy mornings, warm buckwheat huckleberry pancakes, cups of rich, black coffee, sweaters and wool socks; gloriously sunny afternoons (although at times windy), tomato and cheese sandwiches, hours spent sun bathing on the dock, deliciously good books (this trip featured The Old Gringo by Carlos Fuentes), canoe rides, fresh seafood, blackberry crisp, blue jeans, creamy golden sunsets and sand dunes. None of these activities would take place with such poignancy and leave such heart-breaking nostalgia without the presence of such top-notch individuals as my family. Despite the painful absence of my sister Katherine, my most recent trip to Oregon was as memorable as always. And when you wake up to a view like this:

what could possibly prevent total and utter bliss?

As a sprite young girl, I an enthusiastic eater and would frequently over-stuff myself to the amazement of certain cousins and my grandmother. I had no control; it was all or nothing. Life has taught me to restrain myself (to some extent) but I still march to an all or nothing beat. And now I've channeled some of my enthusiasm into cooking which I had ample opportunity to do with my family and especially my dad while I was at the lake. (I must mention that my mom, having discovered Julia Child and the French Way contributed amply to a degree of freshness and deliciousness that I haven't seen from anyone in a long time.)

The mighty creation pictured above of breaded rock fish with chanterelle cream sauce is my dad's own creation and my principal reason for writing today's post; it was a stroke of genius. At home dad plans the meals every week (with assistance of course) and does the grocery shopping. He doesn't have as much of an opportunity to practice frequent spontaneity in the kitchen. On vacation things are different. When we found the chanterelles and fresh rock fish, what we needed to do was quite obvious.

In the kitchen I set to work making the Chocolate-filled Jelly Roll from the Joy of Cooking. My mom took over the zucchini, new potatoes (from her garden!) and the salad, and dad made the fish. He was, however, happy to put up with and answer all of my how-to specific questions while he prepared the meal. So without further rambling, here's the recipe.

Breaded Rock Fish with Chanterelle Cream Sauce

for six people

The Fish

The recommended serving of fish is 6 ounces per person

About 2 1/2 lbs of white fish (this recipe works best with thin fillets so they'll cook fast in the pan)
A lot of rye crackers (Ryvita!)
Salt and pepper

- Find yourself some fresh fish (it should smell like the sea - so nothing except salty water)

- crunch up a bunch of the crackers with a rolling pin or glass bottle until you have fine crumbs (you'll want about a 1 1/2 C to be safe)

- Put the crackers onto a large plate, add salt and pepper
- Cut the fish into portion-sized pieces and set aside (this will bring them to room temperature)

- Make the sauce (see below)

- After you make the sauce, press both sides of the fish onto the plate, patting extra crumbs onto the top, turn the fillet and do the same to the bottom*
- Heat up two skillets (med/high) with a couple TBS of oil in them until almost smoking.
- Put breaded fish into pan and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until the flesh is just barely opaque. It will also be just firm to the touch. I like to poke a knife tip inside and test it's temperature by pressing the knife tip to my lip. When the knife's hot, she's done.**

* Often breading fish recipes require first that you coat the fillets in egg and then dredge through flour to create a kind of batter. I tested the rye cracker press-on method last night and it worked beautifully. The rye crackers give a subtle earthy taste to the fish. The perfect accompaniment for a rustic cream sauce. Also note that it's important to not bread the fish before you make the sauce because you'll run the risk of soggy crumbs!

** There are many ways to test for when a fish is done, and it (like anything) takes practice. I recommend doing everything you can to master this skill so you don't eat over-cooked fish, which is a highly unpleasant experience and the reason why so many people think fish is impossible to cook and disgusting. What a crime.

The Sauce

2 Cups chanterelles
1 TBS butter (or more)
2 TBS fresh thyme
1 1/2 C wine
1 C heavy cream

- Get yourself some chanterelles (these are seasonal depending and the ones we found weren't expensive, but they weren't the most flavourful - according to the tasting panel).
- Slice them into big chunks.
- Fry them in butter and thyme, or other fresh herb that you want to feature, until they're just soft.
- Set aside in a bowl.

- In the same pan, reduce the wine about 2/3

- Then add the cream to the wine reduction and reduce again until the cream is thick, bubbling and the spoon leaves streaks in the pan.
- You might want to add a bit more cream at the end to round out the sauce

- Add the cream and wine reduction to the mushrooms, mixing to coat all the mushrooms. Any mushroom juice is precious; don't drain them!
- Set the sauce in a covered bowl on the back of the stove, or if you're lucky enough to have a small thermos, like the kind kids take soup to school in, use that to keep the sauce warm until you're ready to serve it.

- Spoon the sauce onto the cooked fish and top with chopped fresh chives or herbs.

Then, hopefully you've got a lady like my mom Sal around to grate zucchini, salt it, squeeze and drain out all the water, and fry it up with shallots. If you're lucky she'll also roast some potatoes in a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper, make a killer salad, and share her big-hearted laugh. A lady after my own heart (or am I a lady after hers?)

Oh yeah, by the way, the jelly roll ruled. You can find it in the Joy of Cooking under Roll Cakes - Chocolate-filled Roll.

- murph


Last night I came home from a moderately rainy Farmers' Market with 16 ears of free sweet corn. Driving down the hill in truly blustery weather I thought to myself "Ribs would really be good with corn, too bad it is so late."

Walking in the door, I find my Matthew preparing BBQ sauce and boiling ribs from Painted Hill Farm that I had bought a few weeks prior. I squeal, get leered at over this out burst and set about shucking corn.

We grilled the corn under the broiler and ate off of one plate because everything else is packed or moved or somewhere in between. Huddled over that plate with sticky fingers and sweet corn stuck between our teeth was, well, delightful.

Biscuit Cinnamon Rolls

It's 12:39 at night and I'm about to eat a biscuit cinnamon roll. It was perhaps insane to make them so late, but I've been thinking about them for a week and there was no one in the kitchen. Plus tomorrow I'm going to Florence, Oregon - land of blackberries, sand dunes, pie, sun tans, family and greatness - which means I'm way too excited to sleep and that I need a snack for the plane. (Treats for snacks are the greatest things about plane rides.)

Mmmm! The first bite: the biscuit is perfect, very light and buttery, moist. A slight crunch of sugar and dark jeweled raisins. We're two bites in now. Oh so good! Warm right out of the oven, crumbling apart in my hand, sweet and an excellently honest cinnamon taste. Third bite, fourth bite, fifth bite, and she's gone. I'm left with my tongue searching for every last morsel and licking my lips, a sticky keyboard and a cake pan FULL! of buns for tomorrow. Perhaps I will share?

I first experienced biscuit cinnamon buns with my sister Katherine about a year ago exactly. I took a (much needed) vacation from tree-planting and joined my family for five days in Lake Tahoe where my uncle lives. Kath and I hadn't seen each other in a long time and didn't want to put up with the usual family shenanigans where someone suggests an activity and then everyone takes four hours to decide if they want to participate in it or not, and then no one really ends up doing what they suggested in the first place. A lengthily breakfast project seemed like a great escape. Immediately upon my arrival I started talking incessantly about cinnamon buns. This is a common occurance where I get an idea and then berate others around me until they give in and participate. But cinnamon buns take a while and Katherine really needed some convincing. All that yeast and letting things rise can be intimidating. So we opened up the copy of The New Best Recipe by Cooks Illustrated that was lying around (an excellent reference by the way) and discovered that they suggest making a biscuit dough, rolling it out flat and slathering it with cinnamon, sugar and raisins (but don't quote me on the raisin part, I can't remember if the recipe calls for them or not). This is exactly what we did and an hour later we had beautiful, delicious biscuits wrapped around a delectable layer of your token cinnamon bun filling. A pot of coffee? Good company? We were just recalling on the phone this evening that it was one of the better four hour-long breakfasts that we've both ever had.

Here is my adapted (by memory) version of the recipe.

Biscuit Cinnamon Rolls

Oven: 450 F

Make your favourite biscuit recipe (not drop). I doubled the Joy of Cooking's Buttermilk Biscuits. If you add the liquid in parts, flicking it with a fork to incoporate wet with dry, you'll discover that you may not need as much. This depends largely on your flour. I know the dough is right when I give it a pat and it's soft and springy, still moist, but not sticky, and the flour almost all mixed in.

NOTE: I DID add a TBS of sugar to this recipe. Usually I leave it out, but considering we're going for a sweeter affair here, I think it's kosher. Also, you might not want to add salt if you're using salted butter, or at least use less.


Mix together two TBS brown sugar and 1 TBS cinnamon. Chop up a good cup full of raisins (Depending on their size. I had very plump ones.)

Roll or pat out the dough on a clean, floured surface. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over top. Cover with the raisins and kinda pat them into the dough.

Starting along the longer length of the dough, roll until there is nothing left to roll. Cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces, put into a cake pan. I made more than one 9 inch cake pan's worth, so I just stuck the remainders on a baking sheet. However you wish to cook them is fine.

NOTE: I started these at 450 and then immediately feared that they would over cook. I thought I turned the oven down to 400 but I guess I actually turned it off. They finished fine and were delicious, but I recommend just cooking them at 450. It will be much shorter (mine took half an hour!) and they are biscuits after all.

The time? Is now 1:24. WAY TOO LATE. I can't help it, I'm an enthusiast. At least Kelsey slept enough for the two of us.

PS Good sweet plums! I almost forgot to suggest the addition of nuts, or whatever else your little heart desires. Chocolate chips!

Good night my dears.

When the Spirit says sleep, you sleep.

I slept, unwittingly until 2pm today. I went to bed at midnight. And I was so distressed by this 14 hour slumber that I had to call my sister to get her to talk me down. Her response was "I think you can count this as your day off."

Maybe we've noted friends that I (and Judes) are a little high strong with lots of projects and lots of directions. Tires a body out for sure. In duet with Judy's previous post I thought I'd chronicle a bit of the week that led up to this long nights rest. (Please note that almost every meal described here was followed by a fudgesicle. Classy.)

Monday: Shop all day with Matt's sister in Brookings, SD. Bike Ride for an hour in Oakwood State Park. Constantly fend off concerns about not making progress on school projects. (You can repeat this statement for every day following...)

Tuesday: Drive back to Mankato in Matt's clunker truck. Feel guilt for buying a vitamin water and pacakge of dark chocolate M&M's at a gas station in Lake Benton. Open and run the Mankato Farmers' Market between 3:30 and 6. Make a full batch of biscuits for dinner (which in fact turned out more like scones because I am still rubbish at the butter business). Serve with a few slices of bacon and sauteed squash. Eat two biscuits, freeze the rest.

Wednesday: Do market business all morning. Spend $30 at the Dollar Store on cleaning supplies. Eat freezer biscuit for lunch (worked nicely baked at 400). Begin packing current apartment. Make nachos for dinner.

Thursday: Meet friend for coffee (and when I say coffee, I of course mean tea) and reading at local coffee shop. Plot to make dilly beans the following Monday. Immediately get distracted with the hopes of shopping for new curtains for new apartment. Leave coffee shop to pursue such efforts. Fix spaghetti with squash and Spinach puree for lunch. Open and run market. Eat other half of pasta for dinner. Affix curtains. Start packing current apartment.

Friday: Attend to market business in the morning. Finish curtain project at new apartment. Eat more nachos for lunch. Make 1 loaf zucchini bread, 20 zucchini muffins, and a double batch of pesto (with walnuts - I roasted and removed the bitter skins with a cloth, thank you internet). Continue packing. Make a fillet of whiting in foil bag with potatoes, fresh pesto, and garlic scapes.

Saturday: Get up at 5:45 to go to market. Make quick breakfast taco. Run Market until 12:45. Shower. Eat sesame bagel with cheddar cheese. Continue packing apartment. Catch up with friend - meet other friends for Mexican food. Eat soft chimichanga. Eat too many tortilla chips, drink two blended lime margaritas. Laugh, a lot. Continue friend discourse until 11pm. Watch two episodes of "How I met your Mother," sleep.

I think I needed that cathartic listing to affirm, that yes, it is ok to have a day off. Plus, I have Mexican left overs and zucchini muffins, and more fudgesicles - and those things just ring out "eat me while you watch illegal streaming television on your computer."

Here's to a day of rest. Cheers.


Oh the single life....

Things have gotten a bit out of control over here in ole Montreal. Monday and Tuesday are my days off and I usually cook for the week to come. But these last two days were particulary spectacular in terms of production.

On Monday I woke up and immediately made granola. A very simple granola and definitely not more expensive than boxed cereal. Then I went in search of pectin because I procured some strawberries the day before. I found pectin. Now, my dear sister Katherine advertised that Pomona's universal pectin is really the stuff to use because apparently you can use 1 1/2 C sugar for 4 C of berries. The pectin I found wanted me to use 7 C of sugar for 4 C of berries. I scoffed and hee-hawed and turned to the Joy of Cooking recipe for "Red Red Strawberry jam" that calls for 4 C sugar for 4 C berries. This was still more than I wanted to use, but Katherine's perfect pectin couldn't be found anywhere. So I made strawberry syrup jam (I think the berries were too ripe - which means they have even LESS pectin in them than they normally do - and I'm still convinced there was too much sugar, but apparently rearranging the sugar to fruit ratios is NOT something you want to do; I didn't dare.) Anyways, upon returning from several grocery stores and the pectin mission, I made bread. While the dough rose I made jam. Then I baked the bread, worried my jam was syrupy (it is, but you can actually still spread it on toast and it doesn't pour down the sides; I know I know, it'll be delicious on ice cream, I can't wait!) and sat down for a little rest. To take a real break I rented two films: The Horse Whisperer and Frida - I've seen both already, but I love watching movies twice. Then I got kinda hungry so I made potato leek soup, A LOT OF IT, and used a boxed vegetable broth and milk not cream. It's good, but it's not as good as it could be, so the recipe isn't necessary cause I want to make it at least ten times more.

(The bread? Super super super delicious.)

Tuesday I made black beans from the Homesick Texan's blog. I don't have a kitchen scale, so I just eyeballed the 16 oz of dried beans and probably didn't add enough because it was soupy at the end. But I'm glad I didn't add more because now, like the soup, I have so many beans I don't know what to do with them. I'm going to freeze some, like I did with half the soup, and in the mean time I'm going to eat beans on corn tortillas with salsa and cheese every day for the rest of the week. Not SUCH a bad life. Oh and they're delicious by the way! Spicy Chipotles are a life staple!

I have no recipes and no pictures. I want to master things and then tell you about them. So for the time being, I guess a silly rambling journal of my escapades will have to suffice. And I wish I had five hungry other people around who wanted to eat my creations. So if anyone's passing through (calling all candidates!) and wants to stop for tea, good grief, knock on my door and maybe even convince me to move out of this apartment, with this person that's alright, but doesn't share food and doesn't cook. Bah.

Kelsey? Jam recipe? Now I'm determined to make a damn good jam, so I need some feed back and some help.

Upcoming food projects for the rest of the week to use up buttermilk before I go to Oregon for a week:

a mondo batch of buttermilk biscuits for this barbecue on Saturday.

I've Fallen. Hard.

In Brookings, SD this weekend I ran across a STUNNING collection of antique pyrex. Now, I think it says a lot about me that given the infinite number of items available in antique shops the thing that brings me to my knees is the pyrex.

I've always had an affinity for pyrex. All my favorite dishes were made in pyrez- nachos, baked apples, coffee cakes, casseroles, pies, and to this day I always scour the shelves of second hand shops hoping to find some fabulous pyrex piece that has long since been forgotten. Also, pyrex is pretty much indestructible and serves nicely as both a container and a cookware. WHAT MORE COULD YOU WANT PEOPLE? Oh what? What's that? It also happens that vintage pyrex comes in amazing colors and graphic patterns? Lord, help me. Does anyone NOT want a "Friendship" collection? Please. (Side note: There is something very Finny about these patterns - compare to Marimekko).

Although I drooled, quite literally, over many many refrigerator dishes, I only ended up buying a butter dish, because I knew Matt wouldn't slaughter me for that purchase. (In case you are wondering it is the snowflake blue pattern, and I heart it, like woah).

Needless to say, much like the Murphy mom, I think I've found an obsession in kitchen/porcelain accessories. Sal, keep your eyes peeled on Ebay for me.

- Makifish

Miss K! I baked you banana bread and even saved a piece.

Kelsey, I made you banana bread, and I think you're really gonna like it. It's dense, moist, chewy, with a twist of cinnamon and cheap. I made this on Wednesday, and it's Friday, that means I ate the whole pan in very little time, mostly for dinner in fact, or lunch, hey even breakfast once! smothered with peanut butter and jam. With a couple of carrot sticks and broccoli stems, what more could a gal ask for? It's the perfect snack and as long as you have two eggs and three ripe ripe bananas, you're more than set, the rest should be in your pantry (as they like to call it).

I'm a huge fan of Molly Wizenberg. Her writing is too good and her recipes too enthusiastic, ranging in excellence for those of decadent or peasant natures. She also has a thing for banana bread. I'm lucky because I have a savings account of bananas in my freezer. The girl I live with is rather "particular" and she hates spots on her bananas, and she always buys bananas, so at the end of the week there's usually one or two over-ripe bananas that are just screaming to be used and loved. There's no better way than to bake them into a warm, soft loaf of bread which helps soothe the soul and/or vamps up the energy level when needed. During My last summer tree-planting, if there was banana bread for breakfast (which there often was) I usually ate at least 3 pieces (alternating bites with slurps of very hot black coffee) and took 2 more for my lunch. It seemed I was always running towards the rumbling diesel truck at the last minute with a piece in my hand, leaping up into the seat, ready, grinning, munching. Oh! What a joyous food it is!

Of course, where were we? Molly, yes yes, Molly. She first got this recipe from the blog Everybody Likes Sandwiches: a totally excellent no-fuss Vancouver gal who writes about food (like so many of us do!) I found the recipe on Orangette a couple of weeks ago and said eh! no milk? no butter? what? And then I tried it.... I shared it on the solstice with a gang of right-brained, scientifically oriented biker boys. We went on an excursion to the F-1 racing track in Montreal to ride our bikes around and around and around. After I got my second flat tire, (they repaired the first one) and it was 1 in the morning, I decided it would be a good time for a little snack. With exclamations of mmmhh! delicious! and wow! they said it was the best banana bread they'd ever had. Which is something.

Banana bread with chocolate and cinnamon sugar

As adapted from Molly Wizenberg's recipe

The remaining piece you see before your eyes does not contain chocolate, or the cinnamon sugar topping 'cause I riffed a bit on the recipe (translation: I had no more chocolate chips). I'm going to give you my adaptation of the original, with the chocolate incorporated because that's how I made it first and it was darn darn good.

3 ripe bananas
2 large eggs*
1 1/2 C flour
3/4 C brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 C chocolate chips

*you could try only one, but I have a feeling the texture might be a little heavier.


2 TBP sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 F.

- Combine well: the bananas (mash 'em up), eggs, brown sugar, vanilla and 3/4 of the chocolate chips
- In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and cinnamon
- add dry to wet
- pour into 9 X 9 square pan (or any other pan you want to use, just adjust baking times, but something tells me that something flatter would be best, like a cake pan.)
- mix up topping
- sprinkle remaining chocolate chips over the top
- sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the top

* note: I added 1/2 tsp ginger and 1/2 tsp cardamom to the recipe I just made without the chocolate chips. I also sprinkled cinnamon and ginger on the top and held the sugar. Basically, you could do anything you want. So go nuts. (Nuts! would be a great idea by the way.)

Bake for 35-40 min. (I actually undercooked this most recent loaf was fine....but really, the first time was dead on. It of course, it depends on your oven.)

Hope you love it!

- chef murph


Lime flavored tortilla chips are the bomb. And they leave your fingers kind of green in the same way Cheeto's leave them kind of orange.

Matt: I bought brand name peanut butter.
Kelsey: What? You're kidding.
Matt: It was on sale.
Kelsey: Natural?
Matt: (Guffahs) No. Skippy.
Kelsey: You bought me Skippy, baby?
Matt: Yep.
Kelsey: Now we know we've made it.

I am pickling beetroots today because I fell in love with them in Finland. I wanted very much to do this recipe, from my favorite Scandanavian site, Nordic Recipe Archive, but I cannot find Spirit Vinegar. Suggestions?

My modifications for the brine are as follows:

1/2 c water
1/2 c standard vinegar
1/2 c white sugar
1/2 tsp. pickling salt
White pepper and cloves as described.
And cinnamon. If I could convince Matt that beets are not a waste of time, I would have purchased sticks. Alas, now my beet pickles will be murky, but c'est la vie.

Also, faithful readers, any thoughts on what to do with copious amounts of beet greens? Seriously, I have a wok full.