a flight of eggs

deviled eggs are delicious... a total childhood favorite of mine.
not to disregard the classic recipes, but here are a few ideas
for spicing up your deviled eggs.

need a tip for hard boiled eggs? submerge your eggs in a cold pot of water, bring to a boil. then turn off and remove from heat. let sit for 12-15 minutes (depending on how solid you like your yokes).

base: cool your eggs to room temp. slice eggs in half and remove the yolks. i used my food processor, but a fork works well too. mix in a splash of white vinegar, a spoonful of mustard, salt, pepper, and a few spoonfuls of cream cheese or sour cream (whatever you might have on hand).

add ins:
try mixing in fresh basil, jared artichoke hearts, and pine nuts for pesto deviled egg.
or... roasted peppers, smoked paprika and cayenne pepper for spicy deviled eggs.
or... grated carrot, whole grain mustard and dill, for crunchy classic deviled eggs.

this is a great protein packed snack - experiment with vegetables and spices!

spicy peach chutney

this was my first experiment with canning and preserving. ever. after reading about safe canning methods and looking at a variety of recipes, i decided to take on the big project of home canning. i can't wait to open a jar of peach chutney this winter to enjoy with my thanksgiving smoked portobello mushrooms or with some stuffed roasted dates. until then, i'll enjoy a little bit atop some roasted squash! yumm...

peach chutney:
3 pounds ripe local peaches - any variety
3 cups apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups local honey
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 large cubes of fresh ginger, crushed
1 cup golden raisins
1 teaspoon red chillies
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 tablespoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon graham masala
salt & pepper

peel peaches, discarding any bruised or mushy parts. cube peeled peaches into small pieces. mix all ingredients together in a large pot, and boil for about 90 minutes at a medium temperature until vinegar reduces and you have your desired consistency! store in the fridge, or follow directions for home canning.

ginger elixir

exciting news: i've obtained a fancy pants juicer.
it takes up a large corner of my kitchen counter, but i love it.

my favorite simple concoction thus far:

3 large sweet carrots, fresh from the farmers market
1 thumb sized chunk of young ginger*
2 valencia oranges
top with a sprig of mint (or heck, you can juice that too!)

young ginger is less pungent, but just as flavorful as "old" ginger. it's shinny, white, and looks like unwrinkled ginger.

pink potato, blue potato...

...and yellow potatoes, white potatoes, and red potatoes... all fresh from the farmers market this week!

dinner for two on the patio - potato and summer squash pizza:

my basic whole wheat pizza dough recipe, baked with pesto and layered with thinly sliced potatoes, yellow summer squash, and topped with goat cheese, parmesan, salt and pepper. delicious and simple! the only trick to this recipe is to soak your sliced potatoes in ice water for about 10 minutes, to release some of the starch. drain and salt them and let sit for about 10 more minutes until the moisture comes out a bit.

and for a picnic dinner at the lake - pesto potato salad with fresh green beens:

for this salad, i roasted red, yellow, pink and purple potatoes, halved and smothered in olive oil and pesto, in the oven for about 25 minutes at 425 degrees. let them cool. then i mixed in a bunch of fresh green beans (of the yellow, green and purple varieties) cut 1 inch long. more pesto, mizithra cheese, a bit of balsamic, tons of sea salt and pepper, and chives! this would have been amazing with pine nuts on top too...

i've never been the meat and potatoes kind of gal... but potatoes and greens! how delicious!

birthday crepe!

for my 21st birthday, my partner took me out for fancy crepes at my favorite cafe! tucked away on a corner on capitol hill, is joe bar... with funky art, a quirky loft space, an amazing crepe menu, and fantastic coffee. the day's sweet special was an anise flavored lacy crepe with fresh berries, bananas and a cinnamon spiced sweet cream. so good, i almost ordered a second one!

crepes are served only on the weekends at joe bar. the place can be packed, but it so worth the wait for a table! the daily special crepes are always unique, unpredictable, and delicious beyond belief!

a feast for my parents wedding!

my lovely parents wanted to celebrate the renewal of their wedding vows with a great feast to bring together about 30 of their close friends and family members. who better to cater the meal than their own daughter?! i spent a couple of days in the kitchen cooking up a Greek-themed feast. after which i was a little burnt out from cooking, so it's been a while since my last blog post. for now, here is my menu (more recipes to come soon):

flat bread crackers baked with sea salt and pepper
tzatziki yogurt dip with cucumbers, dill, lemon and spices
roasted carrots tossed with balsamic vinegar and fresh thyme
cucumber, radish and red onion salad lightly pickled with fresh dill
white bean spread with fresh sage, shallots, garlic and lemon zest
grape leaves stuffed with rice, pine nuts, currants, onions and sweet spices
orzo salad with feta cheese, sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts,
bell peppers, green onion and fresh basil
organic champaign grapes, dried figs, fresh apricots, marinated olives
artisan cheeses and breads
grilled lemon-herbed chicken and
smoked wild alaskan salmon (by my father)

the spread

beautiful stuffed grape leaves and peppers

perhaps the best part of the evening was the carrot cake cupcake tower! my parents had a carrot cake for their original wedding, but for a fun summer celebration i wanted cupcakes! a good friend generously gave me an amazing family recipe for carrot cake, which worked perfectly for these delightful cupcakes.

some were topped with organic, unsweetened shaved coconut... other with ribbons of carrots sauteed with maple syrup. gorgeous!

congratulations mike and zoe! you two are such amazing role-models. love you, aub

my family, celebrating the renewed marriage of my parents at the woodland park zoo's carousel

a blue breakfast

it's finally blueberry season! blue dog farm in carnation, washington has a selection of amazing organic blueberries. in less than two hours i had picked over 15 pounds of giant and perfectly ripe blueberries! they are now taking over my fridge and freezer...

blue berry & fig bars!
perfect for breakfast, dessert, or freeze for a later day.
this recipe made a large 9x13 inch pan of bars.

the crust:
in a food processor or blender, grind 2 cups of steel cut oats until fairly fine. then add a quarter cup of flax seed and 1 cup of walnuts. blend until nuts are roughly chopped. remove mixture from blender into a bowl, and mix in: 1 1/2 cups more of oats, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 2 beaten eggs (or egg whites), 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 cup pure maple syrup (more if you like it sweet). mix until mixture starts to hold together... adding more liquid if needed.

the filling:
in a small sauce pan, heat 4 cups of blue berries, the juice of one orange, and a drizzle of maple syrup or agave nectar. bring to a boil, then add a 1 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch. continue to heat until mixture thickens. then add 1 cup of dried figs, chopped, and the zest of a lemon.

layers: spread 2/3 of the crust mixture into the bottom of the pan. wet your hands to keep the crust from sticking to your fingers! if you can't cover the entire bottom of your pan, just use a portion of it instead of making it too thin. even out the crust and then top with the blueberry fig filling. the filling should be about half an inch thick or more. then sprinkle the rest of your oat and nut mixture onto the top. it's ok if it's not entirely covered.

bake at 350 for about 30 minutes until oats start to brown. let cool completely before trying to cut these guys into bars! perfect for breakfast with a scoop of greek yogurt and honey, or serve for dessert with some frozen yogurt! you can even wrap them individually and freeze them - then just remove one the night before to let thaw out in your fridge for the next morning!

fancied quesadillas and flavorful salsas

i couldn't even remember the last time i had made a quesadilla... but once i made these, i realized how much i had missed such yummy goodness! quesadillas stuffed roasted piquillo peppers, cilantro and jack cheese, along aside two awesome salsa salads: a corn & basil salsa, and a mango & rhubarb salsa!

corn & basil salsa salad:
this is one of my favorite summer time salads. i prefer to use cherry tomatoes (from my parents garden) but they are far from ripe now. luckily, we do have tons of basil growing though! mix:
2-3 ears of corn, hulled, boil for about 2 minutes and let cool, then slice off the cob
1-2 bell peppers, any color
1 cup diced tomatoes, or a few handfuls of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 avocado, peeled and chopped
2 green onions, sliced
large handful of basil, sliced
small handful of cilantro, sliced
juice of 1/2 lemon
drizzle of olive oil
salt and pepper

mango & rhubarb salsa:
delicious, sweet, tangy, great textures and flavor combination! mix:
1-2 ripe mangos, peeled and chopped into small cubes
2-3 stalks of rhubarb, halved lengthwise, and chopped into quarter-inch slices
1 green onion, sliced
1 small chilli, or half a red bell pepper if you don't want the spice
1 teaspoon of grated ginger
juice of half lemon
top with chives
add a dash of sugar if your mango isn't ripe enough to offset the sour of the rhubarb or spice

the simple part of this meal is making the quesadillas: i used smaller corn tortillas, but others prefer flour tortillas. i bought a jar of roasted piquillo peppers - bright red and full of smoky flavor without too much spice - sliced those up, and added them between layers of shredded jack cheese with some cilantro. grill on a frying pan or in the oven, slowly, until both sides are lightly browned.

two lovely crepes

when i go out for a crepe for brunch, i can never decide between savory or sweet. my solution: eat in and fix one of each (or maybe two or three of each...)

buckwheat crepe batter (makes 12-15 small crepes)
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
3/4 cup white flour (can use all white, or whole wheat instead)
3 eggs

mix everything together in a blender and let chill in the fridge overnight (leave it in the blender if you like... you'll need to blend it up a bit in the morning too). for some reason it's important that crepe batter chill, but bring it out to sit for a half hour in the morning while you prep your fillings. to make your crepes, pour about 1/4 - 1/3 cup of the batter into a lightly oiled frying pan. the pan should be heated, but remove from heat to swirl the batter - allowing the thin batter to coat the bottom of your pan. cook until lightly browned, and then carefully flip the crepe. you can keep the crepes warm in a heated oven if you want to make a bunch to start out with.

le crepe savoureux - garlic parsley walnut crepe with mushrooms and chevre
sautee garlic and olive oil, add sliced crimini mushrooms, tons of fresh parsley and a few chives. suattee until mushrooms are well cooked and soft. then add toasted, chopped walnuts. fill your crepes with mushroom mixture and top with goat cheese and extra fresh herbs. salt and pepper.

le crepe doux - "strawberry cheesecake with walnuts"
a ingenious creation by jonathan: goat cheese, strawberry freezer jam (that i made last week after a tedious berry picking trip) and toasted walnuts. pretty self explanatory, but so so delicious. sprinkle with powdered sugar and top with an extra scoop of freezer jam!

white bean and sage bruschetta

my sage plants were in need of some pruning, so i used the fresh sage to flavor a white bean bruschetta recipe!

4 tablespoons olive oil
zest and juice of 1 lemon
10-15 sage fresh leaves, thinly sliced
2 gloves garlic, chopped
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
1 can white or butter beans, mostly drained
salt and pepper
red chili flakes

heat olive oil in a pan, frying the garlic, shallot, zest and sage for about 5 minutes. add in the rest of you ingredients. cook over medium heat for another 5 minutes, stirring to incorporate the flavors. remove bean mixture from heat, and use a potato masher or the back of your spoon to roughly mash the beans.

the sage bruschetta was great on hominy bread, toasted under the broiler with and brushed with olive oil. serve with some fresh heirloom tomatoes and parsley! later, i made a sandwich with the sage bruschetta, black olive tapenade, tomatoes and sprouts. thought about throwing a fried egg in there too, but it was already so delicious looking!

campfire cooking

my cooking slowed down during finals week at college... and then i took off on a short camping trip. but while i was away, i cooked up some delicious chow over a camp fire!

a camper's feast: cast iron grilled cheese with sharp wisconsin cheddar. fire roasted shitake, zucchini and bell peppers skewers. and my favorite - grilled corn!

cast iron skillets are amazing with fire! perfect for frying up an egg in the morning or grilling some sandwiches for dinner. skewers are a great way to cook up any type of veggie over a fire. and roasted corn is a must.

i brought along some olive oil spray to keep things from charring too quickly and to grease my skillet. worked wonders! i also brought my favorite lemon pepper and some salt for the roasted corn. and smores for dessert of course!

i'll see how creative i can get on my next camping trip...

lemon-thyme zucchini bread

excessive zucchini in the garden or fridge? 
solution: lemon-thyme zucchini bread! 

perfect with a cup of earl grey with lemon

i combined a few different recipes to create a slightly healthier and wonderfully flavorful zucchini bread:
3/4 cup white flour
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup wheat bran
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (or 3/4 if you like it sweeter)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 eggs, slightly beaten
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cup shredded zucchini 
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1-2 tablespoons of fresh *lemon-thyme, de-stemmed and chopped

*lemon thyme is multi-colored, and smells slightly of lemons. a great fresh and light flavor!

mix dry ingredients in a big bowl, adding in wet ingredients. oil a 9x5x3 bread pan, dust with flour and shake out extra flour. batter should be thicker than waffle batter, but not as dry as most dough. bake for about an hour at 350. remove from pan and let cool on a rack. 

this recipe turned out perfect - slightly sweet, bright flavors from the lemon zest and juice, with a unique addition from the olive oil and lemon-thyme. 

tarragon pasta

the cheese that inspired it all: river valley's fresh tarragon goat cheese. this artisan goat cheese in incredibly fresh tasting. at such a young age, the cheese still has quite a bit of moisture in it, giving it a slightly different texture than your typical crumbly chevre. this week at the farmers market they came with a new flavor - one of my favorite herb flavors actually - tarragon!

delicious green tarragon pasta salad with tarragon goat cheese:
penne pasta (i used whole wheat penne, but it would have been more fun to use green spinach penne!)
large bunch of fresh asparagus 
1 jar of artichoke hearts, cut into quarters (marinated or not)
tons of fresh tarragon, chopped
fresh parsley, chopped
green onions, chopped
crushed raw or roasted garlic
zest and juice of 1 lemon
olive oil
goat cheese
salt and pepper

cook pasta as directed. strain and coat with a generous splash of olive oil. let to cool while you cut your asparagus into thirds, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. roast in the oven at 450 degrees for about 10-12 minutes until tender. while the your pasta is still warm, mix in the zest, garlic, and herbs so that the olive oil on the pasta absorbs the flavors. finally, mix in the artichoke, asparagus, lemon juice, crumbled tarragon goat cheese with tons of salt and pepper. this dish can also be great warm, but i like the freshness of the lemon in a chilled pasta salad best!

spicy sesame crackers and baba ganoush

crackers are simple to make and there are an endless amount of possibilities when it comes to flavors. i wanted something spicy, with sesame seeds to compliment a lovely chickpea-eggplant dip i made up.

for the baba ganoush:
2 eggplants
1-5 cloves garlic
lemon juice
1 cup chick peas
3 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
smoked paprika or garam masala

cut 2 medium eggplants in half, brushing the cut side with a bit of olive oil. place skin side down in a roasting pan or baking sheet and roast in a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes until the skin is well browned/charred. (note - you can use raw garlic. or while you're eggplant bakes, you can roast some garlic in olive oil along the side). let cool for a few minutes before scraping out the insides of the eggplant into a food processor or blender. add into the blender several cloves of roasted garlic (or 1 raw clove), tahini, lemon juice, chick peas, spices, salt and pepper. blend until smooth, adjust flavors and texture by adding more or less lemon juice or chick peas. should be slightly thinner texture than hummus. you don't to use chick peas, but it does wonders to the texture of your dip without taking away from the flavor of the roasted eggplant!

sesame crackers ~ 4-6 servings

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup wheat bran
1/2 cup oil (i used a grapeseed oil marinated with chili peppers)
1/2 cup cold water
teaspoon sea salt

combine all ingredients in food processor, or mix by hand. once combined, place dough on floured surface and kneed briefly, adjusting consistency with additional flour if necessary. you should have a dry but not too crumbly dough. roll out as thinly as possible (1/8 inch), flouring both sides so as to not stick to your rolling pin. take a fork and poke wholes all over your rolled out dough. use the rim of a glass to cut circular crackers, or cut to desired shape/size. place on a baking sheet with parchment paper. bake at 400 degrees until bottoms are light brown (bake time will depend on thickness and size of crackers.) once bottoms are browned, gently flip each cracker over, and bake for a couple more minutes. cool on a drying rack and sprinkle with a bit more salt. 

roasted garlic & sun dried tomato soup with pumpernickel croutons

seattle weather is completely unreliable! i woke up to a cold cloudy sky and instantly though of soup! this is my fancied up version of tomato soup with crackers:

roasting garlic adds a ton of flavor without the bitterness of raw garlic. to roast, simply peel your garlic, coat with olive oil, and wrap all the cloves in tin foil. bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes until browned.
it may be a lot of effort... but so worth it!

the soup: 
one onion chopped 
2 full heads of roasted garlic (15-20 cloves... oh yeah!)
dried thyme & oregano
3 small or 1 large potato, cubed 
1 cup sun dried tomatoes (not in oil)
4 cups vegetable stock
3-4 cups canned tomatoes

saute the onion with olive oil for 3-5 minutes, add in a spoonful of thyme and a pinch of oregano along with the roasted garlic cloves. saute for another minute. add in your cuped potatoes and sun dried tomatoes. cover with 4 cups vegetable stock. bring to a boil, and let simmer until potatoes are tender (15-20 minutes depending on the size of your cubes). add in the canned tomatoes. taste - add salt and pepper! use an immersion blender (my favorite kitchen toy!) or puree in batches in a blender until smooth. 

pumpernickel croutons:
tall grass bakery - a local bread company that frequents the seattle farmers markets - makes amazing artisan breads. their pumpernickel loaf is light and great for making flavorful croutons! 
cut your bread into 1 inch cubes. mix together a quarter cup olive oil, 2 finely diced or crushed cloves of garlic, tons of dried thyme, salt and pepper. drizzle over bread cubes and mix with hands. spread out on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, until edges are brown and crisp. let cool on a paper towel or paper bag.

thyme for a picnic

a lot of time was spent de-stemming thyme, but well worth the effort for this picnic meal. 

for the carrot: i used sweet organic carrots for this recipe, sliced at an angle to get longer half inch thick slices. dress liberally with olive oil, salt and pepper, and a couple table spoons of fresh de-stemmed thyme leaves. roast in the oven at 425 for about 20 minutes. then, remove the carrots from the oven to drizzle balsamic vinegar over your carrots. enough to coat. return to oven and turn on your ovens broiler for about 5-10 minutes. stirring frequently until your carrots are lightly charred. once out of the oven, you can toss on more fresh thyme. these are wonderful warm, but i think i prefer them chilled. 

welcome to drum beets

cooking is a passion for me and perhaps my favored form of procrastination as a student. but it wasn't until recently, while gushing about all my favorite food blogs, that a friend suggested i start my own blog. thank you, brilliant friend, for providing me with even more reason to procrastinate from studying. now there are posts to writes, recipes to share and photographs to take for your continued enjoyment. 

my name is aubrey. i love beets and drums. but also all other vegetables and all forms of percussion. i have been beating on drums since the age of five and eating vegetables since day one of baby food. i owe thanks to my parents, who took the approach of pureeing whatever they were having for dinner and spooning a wide range of flavors into my baby mouth. my folks successfully raised a very adventurous eater. i can thank my dad in particular for teaching me to cook intuitively - a skill that can only be acquired by cooking alongside another intuitive cook. 

i hope to inspire home chefs to cook intuitively and eat mindfully. but recipes are helpful too. for me, i enjoy reading recipes for the sole purpose of gaining inspiration, taking note of flavor combinations i'd like to experiment with, or to learn useful skills that can be applied in your own cooking. drum beets is my small piece in a giant landscape of food blogs from around the globe. i hope you enjoy and share my recipes with others.