Sunday, May 13, 2007

Weekend Herb Blogging Recap

The first order of business is to send a big "Thank you!" to Kalyn for being so generous to share hosting responsibilities for what has turned out to be such a hugely popular blogging event as Weekend Herb Blogging. I've been largely AWOL on the blogging scene for a while as work has reared up, grabbed me by the ears, and hollered, "Pay attention to me!" and I have to say, I've missed it --- and you, blogging friends --- very much.

So it's a real treat to have my turn to host roll around and force me to set aside work for an evening and walk the rolling hills of blogland, waving to my friends and learning all sorts of new things in the process. Come with me, we're in for a fun trip!

Truffle from What's On My Plate not only wins first prize for earliest entry -- Monday, and very early Monday indeed! -- but she also bends the brain of this spring-addled New Englander by celebrating autumn. She's from Melbourne, you see, and they're saying goodbye to summer as we turn our faces south and welcome the sun. Celebrating autumn sounds like a good idea, though, when you read her recipe for Roasted Red Wine and Rosemary Plums on Creamy Vanilla Polenta.

Fran├žois-Xavier (FX) of visits from Switzerland to share a simple recipe from Tuscany called Devil's Chicken, Pollo alla diavola. If you like your recipes with lots of pictures illustrating the technique, then you will love this one. His recommendations for portion size are so practical: "I recommend a half chicken per guest so nobody will feel stepped over if they don't get their favorite part. Just take smaller chicken to adjust portion size."

"As the monsoons approach, the urge to have a quick spicy hot appetizer strucks any Indian head." So says Sushma, she of my favorite travel destination, India, and writer of Sunkiran's Recipe Source. She shares with us a vegetarian twist on the traditional Chicken 65, substituting cauliflower for the more traditional chicken to make Gobhi 65. Between the spices and the cauliflower, Sushma is over-qualified for WHB, wouldn't you say?

Ruth from Once Upon a Feast never fails to make my mouth water, and this week is no exception. Cedar Planked Salmon with Early Spring Greens & Blueberry Salad is a winner, loaded with antioxidants and all those other things we love to get into our diet, but most of all, tasty, tasty stuff. I could have shown you her picture of the plated salmon with the salad, but I was fascinated with the look of these gorgeous salmon steaks. You'll just have to hop on over to her blog to see the picture of her final product. She even gets to use Atlantic salmon, and considering that she's writing from Halifax, she gets it fresher than fresh. Trying not to drool here.

Amy over at Nook & Pantry has done us all a favor and posted the recipe for Tzatziki sauce. I love the stuff, being a big fan of Greek gyros, but have never thought of making it myself and finding other uses for it. Salmon, anyone? Amy comes to us from Seattle, our first entry from the U.S.

Charise of More Bread And Cheese, Please fame, celebrates Mexico's Cinco De Mayo in Ohio with Chipotle-Cinnamon Chocolate Cupcakes (aka Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes). Mexico seems to be the place to be to look for creative uses of chocolate. I'll never forget my first taste of chicken with mole sauce (pronounced mo-lay, for those of you who were envisioning a chicken-and-rodent meal!). Anyway, back to the cupcakes ... shhh, don't tell anyone, but these are super easy. Check the recipe to see why. And isn't that picture yummilicious?

Jaden of the eponymous Steamy Kitchen sez, "If I were stuck on a deserted tropical island with a GE Profile Oven, this is what I would make." Pretty hearty recommendation, that, and seeing the absolutely stunning pictures that accompany this post, I suspect I'd eat just about anything if she would just plate it and set it before me. It wouldn't even have to be as delicious-sounding as her Tropical Island Salmon. Jaden's steamy kitchen is in Florida.

When an entry starts out with, "Last year, I did not grow nearly enough parsley. What parsley we did grow came up sparsely (Parsley, sparsely. It feels like an Ogden Nash poem…)", you know you're going to have a good time reading what follows. Check out Genie's post over at the Inadvertent Gardener about Parsley, watered down and a simple solution, and have a few laughs in the process. Be sure to check out her "About" section if you think you'd like to laugh a little more before you leave.

Next up is Swank Caterers from somewhere In the Woods near the Triangle, North Carolina, US. I'm not sure, but I think The Triangle refers to the three cities framing a section of the US where the large majority of US-made furniture is made. The Huz and I made a trip down there once to look for a good deal on a leather sofa, and found one, but ended up not buying it for reasons which are best not discussed here if I still want to have a Huz when I wake up tomorrow. But I digress ...

SC from NC offers Grilled Sweet Potatoes and Roasted Brussels Sprouts (but not in one dish). Two of my favorite veggies, and her Roasted BS (ahem, sorry, I couldn't resist! please read on) is a variation on one of my own favorites posted back in the days when I had more time for blogging.

So, when's the last time you said to yourself, "Gosh, I gotta make myself some homemade tofu one of these days!" Never? Well, Willa of Yumminess Ensues in Pennsylvania hadn't either, until an offhand comment from a visiting foreign exchange student made her reconsider. Read the story of her journey to homemade tofu and ask yourself, "Could this be me?"

And then skip up one entry and read all about rhubarb. Very timely for those of us for whom spring has only just arrived!

OK, now no kidding, we're getting some really interesting entries this week, and this one has to be one of the most unusual combinations ever, if I'm allowed to be the judge of that. Lettuce and noodles? Who'dathunkit? And the answer to that question is Sophie, of Oxford, UK and Mostly Eating. She tells us it's really calming by virtue of being, well, a little bland. And now that she mentions it, that picture does look very mellow ... mustn't look, got too many more entries to add to this post, can't allow myself to mellow out! (Did I just harsh my mellow??)

When you look at the name of my blog, you won't be surprised when I tell you that my favorite title among the submissions ... and there were many good'uns!... was the one from K├╝chenlatein: Where's My Tarragon? (gone) --- get it? LOL. Given that her native language apparently is German, I'm especially impressed with the wordplay in English. Anyway, send some mean thoughts in the direction of the slugs and snails who have been devouring her first batch of tarragon, in hopes of diverting them from the batch she just potted up!

Newcomer Nicole is an American in Sicily, joining us from Pinch My Salt. She grows lots of fresh herbs herself and today she offers us a gorgeous picture and delicious-sounding recipe for Herbed Tuna Salad with Feta and Pine Nuts.

Seared Salmon Fillets with Dill Dijon Sauce. I read the title and I almost wanted to say, "'nuff said." But that wouldn't be fair, because then you'd have no clue where to go to get the recipe! So please do go pay Terry at Blue Kitchen a visit, and while you're there, see if you can get him to divulge his recipe for this most excellent dish. Salmon, Dill, Dijon ... it's a match made in ... wow! That was close. I almost cliched. (If I already did and didn't catch it, have mercy. I really don't want to know.)

Brigitte from Singapore does such a good job of summarizing what her post is about, that I don't see any reason not to use her own words:
"For this event I made three different vegetable tarts each with puff pastry. One tart is with leek. And I combined leek with the herb thyme. The other tart is with tiny Roma tomatoes in 3 different colours, red, yellow, and orange. And I combined it with dried Oregano and fresh basil. Those three herbs are ordinary and I use them very often. The third tart with carrots is a bit unusual. I combined it with sweet touch of lavender and fennel. It was very delicious and even my three children loved it. I don't dare to make the puff pastry myself in the Singaporean climate, not in "my" tiny non-airconditioned kitchen. I bought a frozen, ready-made one."

As the evening progresses, and I see more and more beautiful pictures of luscious foods, I'm getting a bit hypnotized by it all. The hypnotist is murmuring, "You must eat very soon. Your eyes are getting very big for your stomach. You must eat very soon."

When I do finally succumb, (oh! Did I say "when"? Didn't I mean "if"?), it just may be goats cheese toast with sunkissed tomatoes like this from Once Upon A Tart that receives my undivided gluttonous attention. Honestly, folks, doesn't this picture must make you want to rock back on your heels and howl? No? Ok, maybe it's just me. Or maybe you're just not willing to admit it, with all of us listening in ...

I am totally enchanted with anyone who calls herself a geek, a name I have proudly borne for years. I always think it's kind of cute when I declare myself a geek and some sweet thing says in shock, "NO, you're not!" as if I were putting myself down by saying such a thing. Oh, yes I am, and so is Vanessa from What Geeks Eat! You go, girl! Today she shares with us a lovely recipe for Green Pizza, all the way from Wisconsin by way of San Francisco.

Rinku from Cooking in Westchester brings us this Indian- accented Citrus - Thyme Chicken. It uses both orange AND lemon juice, and drumsticks. Between the natural tenderness of dark chicken meat and the acid of those juices, I have to believe this is one of the most melt-in-your-mouth dishes possible.

Our next contributor from Australia is Kate, from Sydney, sharing recipes and tales at Veggie Friendly (not to be confused with those friendly Veggie Tales). Kate decided to experiment with daikon, and after one disappointing recipe she found this winner: Roast Daikon and Sweet Potato Pasties. I love just about anything with sweet potatoes and am intrigued with the notion of adding the radish flavor of daikon. You, too?

Before I sat down to write up this round up, I had visions of sharing with you some pics and rhapsodizations about my newfound love, golden beets. Beets, golden beets, overcomers of my life-long dislike of beetlike things! But time is going by and I had already given up on sharing that recipe tonight, when along came The Well-Seasoned Cook, Susan from New York, with this fabulous recipe for Yellow Beets with Walnuts. I'm so glad these lovely veggies are getting some attention today. I'll rhapsodize about them at some later date. Meantime, even if you're not a beet lover, head on over the Susan's blog and see if she can convince you to try them. You won't be sorry, I promise!

There's hardly a more dramatic fruit than blood oranges, as you can see from this photo. If you haven't tried them, go ahead and spring for just one. They're expensive but worth it. And if you have a few extra sitting around, you might care to let your eyes wander over the Blood Orange-Citrus Marinade for Grilled Chicken that's featured at Cucina Bella tonight. Read carefully for a great tip about how to be sure your marinade saturates your chicken well.

Ackey is featured ... wait a minute, you say? Sounds like something a toddler might say when describing something he's just tasted and rejected, you say? What's ackey, you say? Well, I'm so glad you asked, because Sarina over at TriniGourmet has most generously shared about her love of this plant, which is native to Jamaica and sorely missed by our Sarina, who lives in Trinidad and can only get the canned version at exorbitant prices.

Strawberry Coffee Cake. So good one friend described it as "strawberry crack." I read things like that and am reduced to speechlessness. Friends, rather than try to say more, I shall just say, please go to What Did You Eat, and tell 'em Pat sent you. And anyway, isn't a picture worth, etc., etc.? Sure it is. Just do it.

Is it just getting late, or are these last few posts really rather indescribable? Haalo of Cook (almost) Anything from Melbourne, Australia brings us Slippery Jack or Suillus Luteus, a mushroom that she handles fearlessly. I have a friend who is an amateur mycologist, and it's amazing how much there is to know and learn about these rather mysterious critters. Did you know there are mushrooms that look normal-sized above the ground but whose bottom parts spread for acres? [Come to think of it, some days I think that description comes uncomfortably close to fitting me! ... ] Anyway, please go visit Haalo and read all about Slippery Jack and how he comes to an untimely end in her omelette.

Y of sends us her ode to quinces, autmnal fruit currently in season Down Under. She offers a number of options for using them, and muses,
"The most amazing thing for me about this fruit is that the flesh of quinces are, in their raw form, they are astringent, colourless and practically inedible. When cooked however, the application of heat and acidity over time, transforms them into amazing perfumed, ruby coloured fruit. Kitchen alchemy, at it’s very best."

Next up is Ros, from West London, who writes in Living to Eat "One Duck Salad, Two Interpretations." Both interpretations involve fruits; I leave it to you to find out which ones. Duck is so expensive here in the US, we have it only on special occasions, but it sounds as if Ros rather easily gets her hands on it. Lucky Ros! It used to be a tradition for family Thanksgiving dinners, but has become too costly for the large groups that surround our table(s) these days.

Sorry if I'm rambling a bit, this isn't supposed to be about me, is it? Oops!

Anyway, her "interpretations" sound fabulous, so if you're ready to treat yourself (or if you live somewhere that has affordable duck) then please give her recipes a try and let us know what you think!

And last, but most certainly not least, is the originator of Weekend Herb Blogging lo, these many moons ago, the Herb Blogging queen herself, the doyen of South Beach, the one we all love to love, Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen, who brings us Grilled Chicken with Lemon, Capers, and Oregano. I never knew till now that Kalyn and I share a love of capers, those little flower buds that, when pickled, add such a nice, salty piquant zing. I confess I sometimes eat them right out of the jar, but now I know I have to save some for this gorgeous. healthy dish that Kalyn is sharing for this week's event.

P.S. I just realized I left out Paul and Freya from Writing at the Kitchen Table (love that name!) Many apologies, you two, especially since you wrote such a lovely paean to a dish near to my heart, Sag Aloo from India. Catch this wonderful thinking/writing:
"Ingredients are like schoolchildren. Some get on like a house on fire, hanging out at sleepovers, getting drunk down the park together, falling in love whilst others just bully the weedier ones, or they are bolshy troublemakers. Some are so quiet that you don't even notice they're there, and 20 years later you can't even remember their names."
For more fun writing, head on over to WatKT and leave a comment, will you, to make up for my omitting them till the next day? Thanks!

Well, that's the roundup for this week! Next week, May 14 - May 20,the host will be Rinku from Cooking in Westchester. Send your entries to rinkub AT aol DOT com


Brigitte said...

Wow, so many delicious sounding recipes. Maybe I'm going to try to make tofu or should I try my own recipe of rosemary-plums with that creamy vanilla polenta. Or that been pizza. And if I only could find some yellow beet..
A lot of work and well done!
This is the permalink to my own entry.

myriam said...

great roundup pat! & i cant believe the bear in your garden! this is amazing!

Susan said...

Thanks, Pat, for a really thoughtful round-up. It was great fun to read.

Kalyn said...

What a beautiful job you've done. Unfortunately, I must go teach school now, but later tonight I will come back and read all the entries I missed. Thanks again for hosting.

Freya and Paul said...

Great Line-up Pat! And thanks for not quite forgetting me!!

Vanessa said...

Pat, thanks so much for hosting, and for the kind words.

Pookah said...

Great job Pat!

Your comments are fun to read.

BTW, the Triangle is Research Triangle Park which includes Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill. I live at the outskirts, outside Hillsborough. Now you and your readers are the only ones who know that.

Triad = Greensboro, Winston Salem, High Point - great area to live.

Thanks again.

Genie said...

Pat, it's a fabulous round-up and your comments are terrific! I'm so excited to read through the selections this time around -- homemade tofu? Blood orange marinade? Roasted plums? The Thank you so much for making this week's event happen!

Ruth Daniels said...

Fabulous recap. Everything looks delicious. Thanks for being a great host.