Dizzy Swallows

Summer Harvest & Chocolate Blackberry Financiers

October 11th, 2011

The dying throes of summer have lingered in the occasional crisp autumnal sunshine, but that fairer season will soon be buried by blustery winds and the omnipresent Seattle rain. However,
I take comfort in the knowledge of the lustrous little morsels of summer tucked away in our freezer. Like good Northwesterners, we managed a last blackberry harvest before the Fall weather came rolling in. I wanted to share a few photos from that expedition as well as a delightful recipe for gluten-free, blackberry and chocolate financiers!

Our chosen spot is a coveted family secret, but I can tell you it is on Whidbey.

It offers a perfection of rolling bramble thickets, accessible from both sides, with a view and sweet little meadow that can’t be beat.

My fellow harvesters also happen to be two of my favorite men in the world, my dearest Jacob and my cousin Brad.

Industrious gentlemen … Continue reading

Baked Oatmeal with Blueberries & Banana

August 12th, 2011 3 Comments

Breakfast chez nous is typically a dull affair. With both of us working from home, we have our simple morning routine down pat. Coffee is the first priority as we roll out of bed, bleary-eyed and yawning. Promptly after, the whir of computers spooling up fills our make-shift office (which double and triples as the living room and dining room) as teeth are brushed, water splashed on faces, and some semblance of clothes are thrown on. We are creatures of habit, and breakfast has suffered sadly for this. Most days oatmeal is our go to dish – it’s fast, easy, nutritious, and can be spiced up with whatever is on hand. But boy can it get old. Enter the ever ingenious Heidi, and her baked oatmeal.

This wonderful dish is worlds away from the typical gruel most people associate with cooked oats. Golden-topped, crispy-edged, scented with the sweet smell … Continue reading

On Fresh Fava Beans and Summer Pasta

July 22nd, 2011 4 Comments

Glorious weather not withstanding, summer is a feeling. It is that sense of freedom engrained from our schooldays, of long hours wiled away in hedonistic pursuits. Blue skies and golden sunshine certainly help, loosening limbs and warming faces. Sadly, as myself and others have noted, Seattle is having rather a dismal showing in the seasonal department this year. But summer be damned, at least the family farm is in full force.

On a recent visit we were presented with several beds of fava beans, ready for harvest. They are the strangest bean, growing resolutely towards the sky like so many impudent, fat, green fingers. The leaves are pliable and tender and, according to my mother, can be used to make a very pleasant pesto!

We harvested about a third of the crop, easily filling a large storage bin. I must admit, hitherto my only reference for fava beans came from … Continue reading

Mint and Green Tea Granita

July 1st, 2011

Happy Friday my dears! As things heat up for a long Fourth of July weekend, my thoughts are turning to grills and icy beverages. A few weeks ago I made these deliciously refreshing granitas as a pre-dinner party treat. They are ideal for a flagging, flushed chef, or for sun-soaked guests. The recipe is adapted from Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Cookbook, and, like most things Bittman, it is a breeze. The whole process takes about 2 hours due to freeze time, but only about 10 minutes of active work.

The result is a palette tingling hybrid of a shaved ice and a slushie. The ice crystals crackle and melt on your tongue imbued with the invigorating flush of mint, and the soft, grassy flare of green tea. If you are more inclined towards a sort of French glace, increase the freeze time slightly and enjoy the drink with … Continue reading

Gnocchi with Sage, Browned Butter & Oven-Roasted Tomatoes

June 17th, 2011 2 Comments

Gnocchi is a food dear to my heart. Very nearly, but not quite, as dear as risotto and for many the same reasons.

I first learned to make gnocchi from scratch in the brick-domed cellar kitchen of the school I attended in Florence, four years ago. While I would by no means call myself an expert, since the first moments of instruction upon an immense, rough-hewn Italian table, I have taken great pleasure in making these little starchy pillows.

There are many acceptable variations on the classic gnocchi recipe, and numerous regional breeds. Therefore, though this recipe comes from my instruction in Italy by an Italian it is not necessarily the definitive recipe. Gnocchi is a notoriously temperamental mistress, changing with the weather, the humidity, the altitude. My two words of caution: do not overwork the potatoes, and add the flour slowly, using as little as possible. If your results … Continue reading