Friday, September 30, 2011

Moroccan Butternut Squash Stew or Why I Love Harry's

If you live in Santa Fe you know about Harry's. If you do not live in Santa Fe now you know about Harry's Roadhouse Restaurant , find them here. We are talking home-cooked comfort food, informal, unpretentious, with that diner drive-in vibe inside, but still a bit of Santa Fe sophistication. Everything is top quality, much of it organic and all of it unforgettable.  
Harry's has an incredible (vegan!) Moroccan Butternut Squash Stew on their menu and it is one of my favorites. It is the perfect dish to make using more of my wonderful fresh veggies from Cider Mills Farm.
Full disclosure here, I think I used every dish and small appliance I own prepping this recipe, but the end results are worth it. Especially if you enjoy the aromatic, multilayer flavors of Moroccan cuisine.
The stew is served with two condiments on the side. These are a must, they are flavorful but not hot.  I suggest making them a day ahead. The spice mix can also be made a day ahead. The carrots and butternut squash can also be prepped a day ahead or early in the day. Potatoes should be cut last minute. This makes 8-10 servings and is great for your vegetarian, and vegan guests if you swap the butter for olive or coconut oil.


1 bunch cilantro leaves
1 seeded jalapeno
1/2 tbs minced garlic
6 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
Mix all ingredients together in a blender

1/4 cup New Mexico mild chili powder
2 tbs minced garlic
1 tbs red wine vinegar
1/2 tbs salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup water
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp caraway
1/2 tsp coriander
Mix chili powder, garlic, red wine vinegar,
salt, oil, and water in a food processor.
Toast cumin, caraway and coriander in a hot
dry skillet. Grind in a spice grinder and
add to other ingredients

1 cup diced onion
1tbs minced garlic
6 tbs butter
2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
6 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded
   and diced into 1-inch pieces
2 cups carrots, diced into 1-inch pieces
2 cups quartered red potatoes
8 cups of vegetable stock or water ( I use 4 cups stock, 4 cups water)
Pinch saffron
1 bay leaf
2 cups cooked chick peas (if you used canned, rinse and drain them)
1/2 cup raisins
1 small bag fresh spinach
In a 6-quart pot, sauté onion and garlic in butter until soft. Add salt, pepper, ginger, turmeric, cumin, and cinnamon; sauté briefly. Then add squash, carrots, potatoes, stock or water, saffron, and bay
leaf. Simmer over low heat. When all of the vegetables are soft, fold in chickpeas, raisins, and spinach.
Serve over Couscous (follow directions on package using 4 cups of quick-cooking couscous) garnished with cilantro. Spoon condiments onto top of stew as desired. 

Thank you Harry's Roadhouse! Hope to see you soon! You can find Harry's Roadhouse Cookbook available here. Oh, and Harry's is way above sea level, so this cookbook is perfectly wonderful for those of us cooking at high altitude! Enjoy ❤

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Ubiquitous and Delicious Squash Casserole

I am working my way, this week, through that lovely basket of organic vegetables from Cider Mills Farm.
Today the yellow squash is calling to me. These tender little crooknecks are begging for a starring role in my family favorite Squash Casserole. This dish is the ultimate comfort food.  I have been making it since I was a young bride and although it is my recipe, it is not unique (which a Google search will verify!) So why try this one? Because it is perfectly balanced and your family will adore it.
You can prepare the casserole in the morning and pop it in the oven right before dinner, or you can bake it off and tastes great either way! 

Squash Casserole

3 med or 5 small crookneck squash, washed trimmed and sliced very thin using your mandoline
1 med/large yellow onion, sliced into rings, then halved
3/4 cup milk (I use what is on hand, 1% to whole milk is fine)
1-1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated (longhorn style melts nicely) Reserve 1/2 cup for topping
5 or more saltine crackers ( I use Nabisco Original Saltines over the years I have tried other types of crackers, bread crumbs, you name is not the same)
1 tbs unsalted butter
Freshly ground pepper to taste. I find the saltine and cheese add all the salt necessary.
You can adjust all the ingredients to fit the number of and size of your squash. Even older, less tender squash tastes great.

Place sliced squash and onion in a 4 quart pan, fill with water, enough to cover the squash and boil until tender, about 15 minutes (do not overcook or the squash will take on too much water). Now here is the KEY to the success of this dish. Drain the squash/onion mixture thoroughly in your colander while you prepare the remaining ingredients. It does not have to be "bone-dry" but it should be well drained. Place the squash/onion mixture in a 2-4 qt covered casserole
Lightly beat egg into the milk then add to the squash mixture, mix in 1 cup of the grated cheddar cheese, a fork works well to evenly distribute the cheese.
Crush 5-8 saltines, I use my clean hands and crush them right over the casserole. I use the minimum number of crackers necessary to soak up the excess moisture in the casserole. If you use too will have a saltine casserole...too few, a soggy mess.
Top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese and dot with butter, cover and bake at 350° for 1/2 hour, remove the cover and bake an additional 15 minutes or until you get that browned cheesy crust on top.

Ready to cover and pop in the oven. No cover for your casserole dish? Aluminum foil will do

 My husband has followed his nose into the kitchen, "Is that for lunch, I hope?" he asks. How can I say no.

Monday, September 26, 2011

In Honor of Beet Greens

To honor the beautiful beet greens I brought home from Cider Mills Farm Friday, I chose to make this delicious rustic soup recipe from Fine Cooking Magazine (Nov. 2011 issue)
Beet greens are like gold to me, so difficult to find fresh, and I wanted to prepare these beauties so their great savory flavor would shine. This simple combination of ingredients is surprisingly rich and delightfully comforting.
Be sure to use a pot that is about 10" wide and not too deep, or you'll be diving after poached eggs.

Beet Green and Bulgar Soup with Poached Eggs
 2     Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
 1     med yellow onion, chopped
 4     cloves of garlic, minced
 2     quarts lower-salt chicken or vegetable broth (if you use salted broth do NOT add salt)
 8     cups lightly packed, stemmed beet green, cut into 1-inch pieces
 3/4  cup whole-grain, quick-cooking bulgur (I used Bob's Red Mill)
        Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
 4     large eggs
1/2  cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the broth, raise the heat to medium high and bring to a simmer. Stir in the beet greens and bulgur. Cover, cook at a vigorous simmer for about 24 minutes until bulgar and greens are tender.
Adjust the heat as needed to achieve a gentle simmer. Crack one of the eggs into a small bowl and pour it onto the soup near the edge of the pot. Spoon hot broth over the eggs and cook until the whites are set but the yolks are still soft, about 3 minutes.
Carefully ladle the soup and eggs into bowls. Sprinkle with the Parmigiano and serve.

Chop washed and dried beet greens into 1-inch pieces

Ahhh....a fitting end to these farm fresh beet greens...a simple but extremely satisfying soup!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Cider Mill Farms, Hill Rolls, New Mexico ~ Thank You!

Thank you Trenton Wann and Barbara Hawn for all that you do to make it possible for my family to enjoy organic, delicious, and beautiful fresh fruits and vegetables harvested from your incredible Cider Mills Farm. Thank you for saving me from trudging and drudging through the inferior offerings at the local "marts". Is  there a special place in heaven for farmers? I do believe so...or maybe they have found heaven right here. Have a look...

Just look at those beets! Thank you Barbara and Trenton for making my life more beautiful!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


This is my boy. He is Supersmart, Superstrong, Supernice and Supercute and today is his birthday.
Happiest of Birthdays dear heart. You are and will always be Superman to me I love you dearly.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Crazy for Birds

Tremar Potteries Ltd, Cornwall Long Tailed Tit

I love birds. Long before it was popular to slap the ubiquitous bird logo onto everything I was in love with birds. I find them beautiful. My grandmother gifted me with her love of birds. One of my first memories as a child is working in her garden, helping her fill the birdbath with water and the feeders with seed. To my grandmother, birds were a part of her life, and her responsibility. To me, they were amazing, beautiful, delicate. She took great pride in recognizing, naming and categorizing the birds in her backyard. I benefited greatly.
At seven years old, I became a member of the Audubon Society, collecting pictures, creating journals, and tracking the birds I had seen. As an adult in England I set up special feeders to lure the incredibly beautiful British Blue Tit to my kitchen window, began my collection of stone and porcelain birds (see above) and carried my British birdwatching book and a set of binoculars in my car.
Today, my heart beats a little faster when I spot the brilliant yellow of the Western Oriole in my own backyard, or the perfect graphic stripes and dots of our local Cactus Wren. Birds inspire me.

 Every day I am inspired by one of my most prized possessions, this fantastic collaborative painting by Maria Rose and E.K. Wimmer. The regal Peacock, brilliantly painted, captured, but cage-less!

...and imagine my delight when I recently opened a surprise package from Maria and E.K. to find I had been gifted this beautiful artwork by Maria!

I was crazy for this sculpture the minute I first saw it posted on her blog, but never imagined it would be my good fortune to have it to admire every day. I love the delicate silhouette (Maria is all about silhouettes! See here and the fantastical "rose" tail. I want to write a story about this bird...!

My love of birds inspires my own artwork. Here is a sneak peek....

More soon!!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

For the Love of Muesli

Do you like the idea of granola but find it too sweet? Not to mention pricey! I was first introduced to granola's healthier cousin, muesli while traveling in Europe. It is the European answer to cereal and what a wonderful answer it is! I love it, so I buy it, but good muesli is generally imported to this country which makes it hard on the budget.  I came across a recipe I thought I might enjoy and gave it a try. Here is my version. I feel like I hit the muesli jackpot! Try it, and enjoy!

European-style Muesli 

4 Cups (roughly) of organic whole oats (not quick-cooking)
1 Cup raw Papitas
1 Cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 Cup dried blueberries (got mine from American Spoon, yum)
1 Cup Trader Joe's Golden Berry Blend (or you can use your favorite dried fruit)
Yields about 8 cups

Heat oven to 375°
Spread oats on a baking sheet, toast about 5-10 minutes. I started checking and stirring after 5 minutes you are looking for a light, golden color. Next, on a separate baking sheet, spread the papitas and toast as you did the oats. I "pan" toast the walnuts on the stove top. I find they burn too easily when toasted in the oven. Use a dry skillet, medium heat, stir and watch them like a hawk.
Okay, now let everything cool.
Toss together with the dried fruit and serve with milk, almond milk, or plain yogurt. The berry blend makes it sweet enough for me, but if you are using a different dried fruit, you can always add honey.
How easy was that!
The cost was about the same to make as to purchase but I still came out a bit ahead AND my muesli has better quality dried fruit and nuts and therefore, more flavor. Oh, and did I mention, this makes a great snack!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Best Seat in the House

 We are a little berg...but we have a big-city balloon fest every year in September. It is my great fortune to have the best seat in the house from our patio. I know they don't launch all these beautiful hot air balloons just for me.....but I can pretend! Have a great Sunday! 

Our Annual Balloon Fest

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Little of This and a Little of That...

The promise of a cooler day somehow makes me crave a hearty breakfast. This morning's meal was destined to contain eggs and bacon, but I have so many lovely veggies! So I let the produce on hand dictate the meal.

Farm fresh eggs, mini peppers, green onion, crispy bacon broken into bits, sliced roasted purple potatoes from last night's dinner, fresh basil and salt and pepper. A Whole Food's favorite seed bread, topped with imported German mixed berry jam and some fresh raspberries.

In fact the Germans have a healthy little saying which goes something like this, "Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper". This was definitely a "kingly" breakfast...well, a humble king with a garden! Guten Essen!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Rustic Fig and Raspberry Mini Crostatas - Fine Cooking Recipes, Techniques and Tips

Rustic Fig and Raspberry Crostatas
In my on-going effort to become a better baker (I'm tryin' Sis!) I could not resist this great looking recipe from Fine Cooking Magazine. Our local farmer's market blessed me yesterday with lovely fresh figs and raspberries.
Find the recipe here:
Rustic Fig and Raspberry Mini Crostatas - Fine Cooking Recipes, Techniques and Tips

Figs, raspberries, honey, fresh thyme, orange zest, sugar...oh my!
Ready to assemble, crust rolled into 5" rounds (roughly!) Set on parchment and sprinkled with crushed graham cracker crumbs to absorb moisture from the fruit

Mound fruit mixture in center and wrap 'em up!
(yikes...I need practice folding!)
Oh, and don't forget the butter...and a slight sprinkle of sugar.
Bake until crostatas are golden-brown. Loosen with a spatula but let them cool on the cookie sheet you've placed on a cooling rack
A little cream...and wow! These little rustic pies are full of flavor, the crust is light and with a slight crunch on the edges, the fruit, so intense and beautiful...the only question, should I eat it or paint it?!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Market Day!

My favorite day of the week!! During the summer and fall, the local farmers, ranchers and craft-ers set up their booths every Wednesday under the Cottonwood trees in our local park. Sometimes you have to wrangle for the veggies you want, did I mention our only large grocery store is WalMart? 'nuf I am there with bells on! I am a sucker for all the color!!

Here is a simple tomato sauce shared with us from our Alameda Farmer's Market Managers

Simple Tomato Sauce

There are endless variations to this. Buy whatever appeals to you at the market. If you can or freeze it, you'll be able to enjoy the flavorful taste of summer all winter.

2 medium large onions (about 1 pound)
3-6 large cloves of garlic
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2-3 pounds of ripe tomatoes, chopped
Other vegetables as desired

Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring 3-5 minutes.  You can add zucchini, peppers, eggplant, green beans, chard, basil, etc. and continue cooking and stirring for 2-3 minutes, or you can skip all of this and proceed to the next step.

Add 2-3 pounds of ripe chopped tomatoes and cook for 3-5 minutes or until the tomatoes are as done as you like them. If the tomatoes are particularly watery, you may want to cook some of this water off. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Tip: If you buy 5-10 lbs of tomatoes each time you go to market, you can experiment with this recipe until you figure out what variation you like best. Then, let it cool to room temperature, and pour it into a zip lock bag. Lay the bag down flat in a small baking dish and put in freezer. Once frozen, remove from dish. The flat bag will take up less room in the freezer so that you have room to make and freeze more!  If you do not want to contend with the tomato skins, puree the sauce before or after freezing.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Alimation - Photo du film 20

Alexandre Dubosc's Amazing Zoetrope Cakes!

A zoetrope is a device that produces an illusion of action from a rapid succession of static pictures. The term zoetrope is from the Greek words "zoe", "life" and τρόπος - tropos, "turn". It may be taken to mean "wheel of life". (Wikipedia)

 A visit this weekend with my good friend and photographer Rick Allred got me all jazzed about his work with time lapse photography and just how amazing stop-action photography is as a creative tool.
My first introduction to zoetropes came from the art of Peter Hudson and his amazing zoetrope installations at Burning Man. See another example here. My brother Scott, who was witness to all this merriment, directed me to Peter's work.
Imagine my delight when I recently came across these amazing animated cake zoetropes by Alexandre Dubosc (VIDEO) View Alimation
Don't you just love innovation and the human capacity for boundless creative spirit! Delicious AND Entertaining!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Showtime! Madrid, New Mexico

    My very talented husband Michael attending the opening reception of his art show "Persons of Interest"      

From left to right: "Morning Star" "Apex" "Isolated Showers"

                                 Patrons, good friends, art and wine. Is there a better combination?!!

What a great weekend! A successful show, a much appreciated stay with a dear friend, connecting, creating and sharing. Excellent!

Friday, September 9, 2011

No-Cook, No Kidding!

This is a great way to use up those ripe, ripe tomatoes, you know, the one's that can't stand up to the structure of a sandwich! This is my hands down favorite, easy, delicious and good-for-you pasta sauce. It tastes so good, it should not be this easy, but I promise it is!! All the fresh flavors shine through in this sauce.
Make it early in the day and let it sit at room temp in a non-reactive bowl (covered) large enough hold the pasta you will add later.  Again, adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine.

Salsa Cruda (No-Cook Tomato Sauce)
Serves 4

3 Large or 4 medium ripe tomatoes cut these into a 1/2 dice. Heirloom are my favorite
1/2 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil (the flavor shines through)
1/3 cup roughly chopped fresh basil
1 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh thyme
2 med. cloves garlic ~ minced
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 lb dried pasta (imported Italian pasta if possible) ridged types like
penne rigate or rigatoni

Heirloom tomatoes are sweet, juicy and flavorful. Perfect for this sauce

Dicing the tomatoes with my serrated bread knife makes the job super easy!

Fresh basil, thyme, garlic

Into the  non-reactive bowl it goes! Now let it sit while you go do something fun. (sorry for the dark photo)

Toss just-cooked pasta (drain it first!) in with the sauce, season to taste with salt and pepper.

I dressed it with a smidgen of Parmigiano-Reggiano and served market fresh buttered green beans along side. So easy!!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Chard and the Path to Enlightenment

I don't consider myself a dreamer, although I certainly have dreams, but in the few days I have been writing and posting on Sixteen Cakes I have realized how much time I have been spending in "dream land".
Who knew this simple undertaking would force me into the present, in a way that is strangely similar to raising babies and puppies!! Soooo... this is why we blog....

Eating more consciously

Lunch has been a habit of sandwiches and chips. Not terrible if the bread is good,  the meat is lean and  covered in yummy cheese and basil or heirloom tomatoes or something else wonderful, but a habit and act of 'unconsciousness' none the less.
So, in the name of paying attention, I have been cooking lunch for Michael and myself, daily. I know, it is HOT out...but I start early, before the worst of the heat.
Today, more market finds, beautiful Swiss Chard!!
This recipe is loosely based on a rainbow chard recipe from Fine Cooking, issue Summer 2010. I have altered it to suit my taste and pantry.

Fresh Swiss Chard with Garlic, Pine Nuts and Basil
1 Lg or 3 Sm bunches of Chard tough stems chopped into 1/4" dice and leaves chopped, approx 2"
1 TBL olive oil
3 TBL pine nuts already dry pan toasted
2 cloves garlic minced
1 TBL cold unsalted butter (cut into quarters)
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil (8-10 large leaves)

I dry toast my pignolias ~ toast and stir in dry skillet on medium heat on stove top until lightly browned don't walk away! When toasted, set them aside
Heat olive oil in a deep saute pan with lid. Cut the tougher stem bottoms into a dice and add them and 1/2 minced garlic to the heated oil. Saute a few minutes

Saute until tender, just a few minutes medium heat. Don't burn the garlic!

Add in the remaining chopped chard...guard yourself..the pan will sputter and spit. Turn the chard with tongs so the oil/garlic mixture covers evenly. Cover and cook for a few minutes, stirring a few times

After a about four or five minutes, toss in the remaining garlic, a pinch of kosher salt and cover.  Continue to cook on medium heat about four minutes, until tender, depending on the amount and size of your chard...when it is cooked down like this...toss in the cold butter, stir and finish...

Just before serving stir in the pine nuts and the fresh basil. Serve immediately with brown basmati rice for a satisfying, yummy and totally conscious lunch!

I enjoyed mine all mixed up!

Have you eaten with awareness today?
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