Thursday, July 29, 2010

Getting Back to Birth

24 hours...5 laboring women...2 babies...3-4 hours of interrupted sleep and about a gazillion evaluations for various pregnancy related issues.  The first day back on call after a vacation week is always busy - somehow the universe knows.

It is nice to get back to birth though.  No matter how much stress is around, whether it is personal or professional, the atmosphere in a room after a baby is born catches you and makes stop.  The emotions in the room - excitement, unabashed joy, relief - are palpable and robust.  I remember feeling this as a midwifery student and being blown away with how there can be such a change in energy.  Even with the most grueling labors, the baby arrives and there is this shift of emotions, of focus.

I used to be able to sleep for at least 4-5 hours when I got home post call, but lately I've had trouble.  Especially if I've caught some sleep no matter how little.  Instead of sleeping, I'm scheming as to what recipes this midwife will try over her next luxurious 2 days off until she's on call again.

For the menu today is Beet Salad with Blue Cheese and Horseradish.  I call it Spicy Beet Salad but have just dissected this name for about 5 minutes feeling unsure that that name really captures the essence.  I first had a version of this at the Dublin Airport, on a layover from Brussels to home.  J and I were starving and found a little deli-style restaurant with several types of salads and sandwiches.  The servings were generous and the beet salad left me thinking.  I'm still working on the perfect mix of ingredients.  Today's experiment went well and it definitely earned it's title.

Spicy Beet Salad (Beet Salad with Blue Cheese and Horseradish)

Ingredients:  3-4 roasted beets, cut into bite size chunks
                     Olive Oil, to taste
                     Red Wine Vinaigrette, to taste
                     Blue Cheese crumbles, about 1/8 cup
                     1 clove garlic, diced
                     Horseradish 1 1/4 tsp - 1 1/2 tsp
                     Dijon Mustard 1/2 tsp - 1 tsp
Serves 1-2 people as a side dish

Beet Prep
*To roast beets you can place individual beets in aluminum foil wrap and roast in oven at 400 F for 45 min - 1 hr until tender.  Then remove beets from oven and peel skin off once beets are cool.  Cut beets into bite size pieces and put in the refrigerator for at least 30 min to chill.

Once beets are cold...

1)  Drizzle olive oil and red wine vinaigrette over beets.

2)  Add blue cheese and garlic, mix well.

3)  Add the horseradish and Dijon mustard to taste, being sure to mix well.  Can serve immediately or keep chilled in the refrigerator.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Indian Street Corn

Summertime in New England is pretty wonderful.  Warm weather, stunning thunderstorms, great local produce.  This summer has provided all of those things, which is good because we got the short end of the stick last year - never-ending winter and it rained all summer long.  2009 weather sucked.  Oh and there was a tomato blight.

No blight this year.  Other than tomatoes, one of the best local veggies is, of course, corn!

Fun to prepare AND eat.  BTW, this is supposed to be a semi-suggestive corn photo (Gasp! - adult content!).  There are many ways to enjoy corn on the cob, but my favorite was one shared with me by a friend at a cookout a few summers ago.  It's very simple, involves cayenne pepper and lime, and leaves your lips burning.  And wanting more.  This is apparently the way some street vendors in India prepare and sell their corn.

I planned to come home Monday night and start my quest for the perfect quiche crust, but when you get home at 7:15 pm and you haven't even started the dough, sometimes you have to come up with something else.  I had decided on black bean and quinoa burritos and on the way home realized that a perfect side dish with this would be Indian Street Corn.  

You can prepare the corn a multitude of ways.  Stove top, grilled in the husk, grilled in aluminum foil, grilled on the hot coals (no husk or foil), or even in the microwave.  My favorite is grilled corn, but this Monday night we chose the quicker option - stove top.  I guess the quickest option would be microwave but I use the microwave for reheating purposes only.  


The burritos turned out great, although there was a mishap.  I have no idea how this happened but the quinoa failed me.  Maybe I failed the quinoa.  I've made it many times before, maybe there was too much water.  Anyways the quinoa became tasteless mush instead of a nice airy grain.  Reviewing all this in my mind, I am reminded that someone else helped prepare the grains while I was chopping...hmmm...

Needless to say, we had bean burritos sans quinoa - made with sauteed Vidalia onions, black beans, diced fire roasted green chilies, tomato, and a few dashes of cayenne.  Topped with chipotle cheddar cheese and sour cream.


Indian Street Corn

Ingredients:  Fresh Corn on the Cob
                     Cayenne Pepper
                     Lime (1 lime to every 2 cobs of corn)

1)  Shuck the corn.  Remove any of the corn silk.

2)  Cook the corn in whatever fashion you desire.  If cooking over stove top, set large pot of water over high heat to boil.  Add shucked corn, when the water comes to a rolling boil.  Cook until kernels are tender and look slightly engorged, about 5-7 minutes.  Remove from heat and drain corn.

3)  Prepare cayenne pepper and salt mixture.  I mix together a 2/3 salt and 1/3 cayenne pepper mixture.  For 2 people, I mixed together a large spoonful of salt with 1/2 spoonful of pepper (this was probably about the size of a tablespoon).  It is fine to eyeball it, I usually do.

4)  Cut the lime(s) in half.  Dip the lime in the cayenne/salt mixture and rub all over corn so that corn has a thin coating of the mixture.  Then begin squeezing the lime as you repeat the rubbing process.  I sometimes will apply a little more of the mixture at this point, but it is very hot so do it to taste.

5)  Enjoy!  I suggest having a glass of milk handy for those burning lips.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Welcome and Such

In my eagerness to blog on Tomato Tarte Tartin, I forgot to write a short intro to what this blog is all about.  My current life obsessions are midwifery (and that which comes along with midwifery) and cooking.  I use the word obsessions because I was just asked at a dinner party what were my obsessions in lieu of asking what my job was etc, and I really like that.  I plan to use this blog to document new recipes and the process of trying to go from a cookbook cook to creating outside of a recipe.  I will also discuss some of the joys and demands of being a midwife, but I'll probably focus more on cooking.  I do feel like there are many similar things about cooking and midwifing and that no one life focus can move along parallel to another without intersections.

One interesting intersection was this dinner party.  Good summer cookout food, complete with veggie options.  When it comes up that you are a midwife, birth inevitably becomes a topic of conversation.  At this party, which was mostly filled with artists, almost all of the women that were mothers had had home births.  It was a small party in a hippie town but this is still rare.  I work in a hospital setting, but think home birth is wonderful and wish it was more supported in this country, especially by OBs and insurance companies.  Lack of support equals lack of access.  There are many women in this country who could not afford a home birth even if they knew to look for it.  As nice as it would be to work solely with a population seeking out midwifery care and natural birth, I would miss the diversity in my patient population especially bringing personable care to those who may not have had it otherwise.
Oh and I made Chocolate Malted Cupcakes and Warmed Chickpea Salad with Shallots and Red Wine Vinaigrette, both recipes from Orangette.  Delicious.

Soon to come - Buns in the Oven's own recipes and more photos - promise.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Tomato Tarte Tartin

As I say in my profile, I love to challenge myself with new recipes especially for guests or at some other inopportune time.  This week, with my parents visiting and the recent loss of my 9 1/2 year old Doberman (a very dear friend), I decided to take on a Tarte Tartin head on.  I've never made Tarte Tartin although I have had my eye on one recipe for a while.  This particular recipe, Tomato Tarte Tartin, is a twist and was found in the current issue of Bon Appetit.  Opposite of the saliva-inducing photo is an amazing description - "This dessert is a revelation.  As tomatoes cook in the caramel, they become sweet and tender but retain their clean, fresh flavor.  Prepare to be blown away."

Ok, could anyone actually resist that?  I definitely could not.  And there's something about cooking in stressful times that soothes me, even if said cooking causes stress.  It's kind of like the Gate Control Theory of Pain.  A very rough synopsis of this theory:  If you overload your pain receptors with different types of sensations, it reduces the perception of pain.  So if I overload myself with stress but cooking stress instead of whatever else is bothering me, my overall perception of stress decreases.

So back to the recipe - it required an ovenproof pan, preferably a cast iron skillet, which I didn't have.  We quickly remedied that and I have my sights on many other interesting dishes for this skillet.
Actually this is a relatively easy recipe, although it looks intimidating at first.  I forgot, of course, to defrost the puff pastry ahead of time, so I ended up starting to make dessert after we were all done with dinner.  There is some great detail at the beginning of the recipe on peeling the tomatoes.  Being the recipe rebel that I am(read: lazy), I decided to skip this part.  Don't.  While it doesn't completely ruin the recipe, the tomato peels kind of get in the way with the rest of the dessert and remind you that you are eating tomatoes.  In a way it's better if you don't remember, because then you can just slip into the taste of the dessert rather than analyzing it.

Caramelizing the tomatoes went smoothly and then I added the puff pastry.  I would suggest cutting the round larger than you need it, so you will truly have enough pastry to tuck around the edges.  This will create a nice crust.  After the tart bakes and cools, comes the final challenge, flipping it.  In my experience, this is where things go wrong.  And I think everyone, including me but especially my dad, thought it would.  Happily, we were wrong.  It flipped out of the pan easily and no tomatoes were injured in the making of this story.

Until we ate them...

Tomato Tarte Tartin is a very different dessert - rich and impressive.  The caramelized tomato comes out with a smooth consistency that is pleasant.  I think I'd like to try this recipe with apricots or maybe pears. I preferred the tart at room temperature and will have to get some whipped cream to try with it.

I was very happy with how mine looked.
Find the recipe here at Bon Appetit.  And remember, don't be a rebel, peel the damn tomatoes.