Based in Los Angeles, Savour Fare is the home of Kate, a working mom who is low on time but high on life. I hope this site helps you find ways to make your life richer, easier, more beautiful and more delicious. You can read more about me and the site here and feel free to email me with any questions or feedback!
So if you listen to as many food-related podcasts as I do, you may have noticed that lately there has been a lot of talk about cooking (I blame Michael Pollan)- about how it’s healthier, and better for society, and connects you with your humanity, etc. Which, hello? is great, and I’ve been saying for years! Yay cooking! We love it around these parts. I also, however, like to play the role of fairy godmother of the reality check. You know and I know that we would LOVE to make from-scratch, healthful dinners EVERY SINGLE NIGHT, but we also both know that sometimes that just isn’t happening. Before you call the delivery man, or open (yet another) box of pasta, I present you for five ideas for easy, quick, no-fuss dinners. They don’t require NO cooking, but they do require MINIMAL fuss and no thought whatsoever. I usually plan to have ingredients for at least one of these in the house at any given time, to account for traffic jams, late meetings, and general exhaustion.
The fantasy: Your house is clean. Your children have finished their homework and are playing by themselves quietly and without incident. You have the time to chop, sauté and simmer, and fill your house with good smells as you make a leisurely, healthy dinner, which your delighted family eats with enthusiasm.
The reality: There was an accident on the freeway, so you’re home from work 40 minutes later than usual. Your daughter has emptied the contents of her backpack all over your living room, which is now strewn with glitter and various bits of paper. You’re supposed to send a signed form to daycare with your son, but you can’t find the paperwork anywhere. Your husband is working late. Bedtime is approaching. You need to get dinner on the table, quickly, but if you try to serve carrot sticks and chicken again your family will storm the barricades.
OK, maybe that’s just my reality. But I’m sure you have your own unique challenges.
The point is, we all want to live the fantasy. We want to cook entirely from scratch and feed our families healthy, homemade food every day of the week. But the reality doesn’t always stack up, and that’s where the harried cook turns to shortcuts, in the form of the supermarket rotisserie chicken. It’s healthier than frozen lasagna, quicker than starting from scratch, but not the most exciting meal. Here, then, are ten ideas for turning that rotisserie chicken into something fabulous. (Or, if you are living the fantasy, and have managed to follow the constant food writer suggestion of “Just roast a chicken!” then these are ideas for using up the leftovers.) Continue reading Ten Ways to Use Roast Chicken
Halloween is over, and we’ve all recovered from our sugar highs (theoretically). Now is the home stretch for home cooks – less than three weeks until Thanksgiving, and then the sprint through the December holidays into New Year, when we all collapse in a faint of exhaustion. I know you’re already planning your Thanksgiving menu, so to make it easy, I collected the Savour Fare Thanksgiving recipes into one easy place. The best, most foolproof, most delicious, juicy, crisp-skinned roast turkey? We’ve got that. Instructions on making your own pie crust (with a bonus recipe for silky smooth, perfectly spiced pumpkin pie)? You’ll find that here. In the next few weeks I’ve got a few exciting new recipes coming up — another savory sweet potato dish, a refreshing fall salad, and new twists on old favorites like stuffing and cranberry sauce, but in the meantime, here’s the roundup of Thanksgiving recipes for your inspiration:
One of the things I did during my hiatus was do a mini-redo of our kitchen. When we moved into Stratford House, the kitchen was fine. Perfectly functional and relatively new, but not exactly to our tastes. Of course, the problem with a kitchen like that is that it doesn’t make sense to redo it (especially when you find another roof leak, as we did last night in the Nuni’s room. Arrgh. This winter has been tough. And apparently our roof has no flashing.)
Here is the saddest, most pathetic “Before” ever – nighttime, and a total mess (Included mostly to enhance the after!)
Not much I can do about the dark wood cabinets at this stage, or the green countertops (I think they’re silestone, which is actually totally functional. I just wouldn’t have chosen green.)
Here’s another, slightly less pathetic “before” — allows you to see the built in banquette, and the Tiffany style hanging light (Yuck — both the stained glass and the shape) and the floral tapestry cushions. Most of all, you can see the completely inappropriate kitchen table we had in there. We inherited a bunch of furniture, and we put that antique game table in the kitchen as a place holder. It was exactly the wrong size, and shape, and function.
The first thing I wanted to tackle was our kitchen table. I wanted a table where we could sit and eat for informal meals, and one that could function as an extra work surface, and make the room feel more “me.”
Initially, I had my eye on this beauty, from Crate and Barrel, and I still LOVE it. But really, I have a three year old who likes playdough. And a puppy who likes to climb on the table. And I’m not the neatest cook. I’m not sure a marble table really fits my lifestyle, you know?
My next thoughts were an antique farmhouse table, like this beauty. (Actually, I drool over this entire kitchen. LOVE it.)
Sadly, I live in California, where something is “antique” if it’s 10 years old. And these things cost an arm and a leg to ship (and to buy in the first place). I looked at some of the big box stores, but I wasn’t digging the shiny finishes and fake distressing. We also needed a specific size to fit the built in banquette, and it proved difficult to find.
So I decided to make my own. Now, theoretically, I could build my own, but I wanted the table to be a) flat and b) sturdy, so I didn’t think that was the BEST idea. Enter the unpainted furniture store. I ordered a table (luckily in the perfect size) made from alder (technically a hardwood, but a soft one, so not as soft as pine), chose the leg style I wanted, and to boxes arrived at my house.
I wanted that antique feel, and I also wanted my table to be food safe, so I decided to finish the top with tung oil. Pure tung oil is food safe, environmentally friendly, and relatively durable as a finish. It will protect the table from water damage, and can be renewed. It’s also cool because it penetrates the wood, so an errant knife slip won’t ruin your table’s finish forever. And the kicker? Easy to apply and no fumes. I used a citrus based solvent to thin the oil for application, which was also food safe. And made my house REEK of oranges for a week.
I turned the guest bedroom into a workshop, and got to work. (The Tung Oil is easy to apply, but requires several coats, each of which requires overnight drying time. I couldn’t work outside, given all the rain we were having.) The first coat was 50% solvent, 50% tung oil, and I applied it with a rag (from an old tee shirt). I had to apply about 6-7 “coats”, letting each coat dry about 30 minutes to let the wood absorb the oil, and then reapplying until the wood wouldn’t absorb any more oil. That was the first coat (and took ALL DAY). Subsequent coats went on with the same rag, using a slightly higher proportion of oil to solvent. I applied 6 full coats to maximize water resistance.
The apron and legs were easy — those I painted with milk paint. An environmentally friendly paint that lends a touch of historical authenticity (milk paint has been in use for hundreds of years) and looks a bit “distressed” from the get go. Best of all? It’s designed to go on bare wood — no primer is needed (or desirable). You mix the powdered paint (I used the “Pearl” color) with water, let it sit for about half an hour, and apply with an inexpensive natural bristle brush. It went on quickly and dried fast. I applied two coats, and the paint dried flat with some lovely streakiness and a light distressing. You can apply polyurethane over milk paint to “seal” it, but I wanted my table to “age”, and the finish becomes sturdier and more water resistant as time goes on.
The result? A kitchen table that’s functional, and even beautiful. Now we eat more meals in the kitchen, sit around the kitchen table to chat, and even though we have a bigger table, it really opens up the space.
Stay tuned for more in my mini kitchen renovation!
Springtime is strawberry season! And even though the strawberries aren’t quite there yet (the heavy rains we’ve had in California have really impacted the flavor), that hasn’t stopped me from buying and eating pounds of them — I’ve loved them since I was a baby. For your reading pleasure, below are 10 things you may not know about my favorite fruit.
1. Strawberries are grown in every state in the US, but 88% of the strawberries sold in the United States are grown in California.
2. The best strawberries come from Harry’s Berries, in Oxnard. Don’t believe me? My cousin works for Thomas Keller, and she told me that Chef Keller orders Harry’s Berries for his New York restaurant.
3. Strawberries carry a heavy pesticide load, so look for organic berries, or pesticide free (Harry’s aren’t organic, but they do grow without pesticides)
4. The best way to eat strawberries is straight out of the basket and slightly sun warmed until your fingers are stained pink from the juice.
5. The second best way to eat strawberries is dipped in creme fraiche and turbinado sugar. Strawberry shortcake and pavlova tie for third.
6. If you have some supermarket strawberries that are less than perfectly red and sweet, slice them up and toss them with a little balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. This enhances the color and the flavor.
7. The best way to store strawberries is in a sealed glass jar. They’ll last at room temperature for a couple of extra days, and in your refrigerator for over a week. However, though they maintain their texture and don’t spoil, the flavor does dissipate.
8. The fragrance and flavor of strawberries depends on a balance of acid and sweetness. When you cook strawberries, they yield a lot of juice, lose some color, and lose a lot of that acid which makes the flavor so balanced. Always add some acid in the form of lemon juice or vinegar when you’re cooking strawberries, but most of the best strawberry dishes use raw strawberries.
9. If your strawberries have mushy spots and you don’t really want to eat them, slice them up and throw them in a jar with some sugar and top with rum, vodka or brandy. The alcohol and sugar will preserve the berries in the refrigerator almost indefinitely, and the resulting concoction is fabulous over ice cream, yogurt, or eaten straight out of the jar with a spoon.
10. Homemade strawberry jam is absolutely divine. I like to add some balsamic vinegar to balance the sweetness (wrinkle your nose, but the flavors are so complementary you won’t even know it’s there) and a little black pepper for some floral warmth (the Italians eat strawberries with balsamic and black pepper. Try it!). You also get that June Cleaver Americana satisfaction of putting up your own jam. I promise that you’ll never go back to Smucker’s again.
<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/amusebouches/5613931241/” title=”Strawberry Jam by Savour Fare, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5144/5613931241_a514460bd8_b.jpg” width=”860″ height=”1024″ alt=”Strawberry Jam”></a>
3 lbs whole strawberries, hulled (if you like a smoother texture, you can chop or slice the berries. I happen to like big sweet slugs of strawberry in my jammy syrup.)
¾ lb granulated sugar
4 T balsamic vinegar
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 packets commercial liquid pectin
Combine sugar and berries in a large pot and heat over a medium high flame, stirring frequently.
Add pectin according to the package instructions.
Skim off foam as it rises to the top.
Test for set (after about 15-20 minutes) by dropping a spoonful on a cold dish and seeing if it holds together to your satisfaction — I like a soft set, but others like a firmer set. If you like a very firm jam, you might want to use 2 packets of pectin. If it’s not set, keep cooking and stirring, and test periodically until it is.
When the jam has set, ladle into hot, sterilized jars. Leave ¼ inch space between the top of the jar and the lid.
Close lids tightly, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. (Make sure the jars are completely submerged in the boiling water). Let cool, and remove rings for storage (if you remove the rings, you’ll know if a jar has lost its seal and needs to be eaten immediately or thrown away. ) Jam is a pretty low-risk canning operation, due to all the sugar and the acid, both of which act as preservatives.
I didn’t use the pectin in the pictured jam, so my jam is a bit runnier than I’d ordinarily make. It tastes divine though, and is perfectly acceptable on toast with a little ricotta, on yogurt, on a spoon …