Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Kitchen has moved to a hosted WordPress blog!

You should be automatically redirected in 5 seconds.

If not, please visit and remember to update your bookmarks
and sign up for her brand new RSS feed.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


My two best friends were here for the weekend. And Dennis went out of town (smart guy.)

We had a great time. Washington DC was looking it's Springtime best, so we snuck in a sunrise cherry blossom tour. (The only time to drive around the Tidal Basin.)

A few highlights, in photos.

My garden: early little tulips

My garden: happy tulips. see the pink one in the back? have no idea where it came from.

martinis in the grown ups room (living room) w/cheddar crackers & habanero gold jam

snacks: cheese crackers, duck liver terrine, rice crackers, new Spring fromage,
habanero gold jam, strawberries glazed with balsamic & black pepper

Saturday morning the hyacinths all bloomed. intoxicating aroma.

lunch charcuterie was homemade chanterelle laced terrine, cornichons & mustard

out of the larder: sour cherries in light syrup and apricots in vanilla syrup

duck breasts scored, seared, served in sour cherry, thyme sauce

roasted golden beets and ricotta salata over baby arugula with horseradish dressing

Sunday morning, 7am, Washington, DC Tidal Basin - Cherry Blossoms

Sunday brunch: apricots & yogurt, Kaki's Strangled Eggs, scones,
my homemade breakfast sausage & bacon, caprese salad (local hydroponic tomatoes)

My garden: even in the rain, the tulips were cheerful

My garden: Monday morning, heading to the airport, cherry tree starting to bloom, star magnolia in full bloom, boxwood are recovering from the deep snow

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

There's No Place Like Home

You know how, at the end of The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy says "There's no place like home." That's how I've been feeling all day. There is just no place in the world I'd rather be than right here, in this little house on the hill.

Nevertheless, for the last eight years, Dennis and I have been searching for "the place we'll retire." The reason? Dennis, who is the money-brains behind this family, worried about rising costs, taxes, and the long term viability of living here. Reluctantly, but with a sensible understanding that it would be best to make this move in our 50s, as opposed to our 70's, we set out to find the perfect place.

We travelled to North Carolina, Southern Massachusetts, Providence, RI, Portland, ME, Southern NH, Charlottesville, VA - where would we hang our hat? We met with realtors, we looked at houses, land, condos, duplexes. We walked through houses built in the 17th c. and homes still under construction. It's been an eight year journey.

Last year, we found Chestertown, Maryland. A completely picture perfect charm of a town - brick Federal buildings on the water, a few dozen Victorian beauties lining Washington St., a small liberal arts college. And for those Gilmore Girls fans - there's an annual Tea Party where residents dress up as Colonial rabble rousers that would rival any Starrs Hollow festival.

We looked at every property on the market. I don't think I am exaggerating. Last week, we saw what can only be described as the perfect house. It had everything we were looking for, or the potential. It was exactly what we had been describing for years.

Can I tell you how confronting this was? We went to see the house again yesterday, and everything pointed to the fact that it was time to pull the trigger. This was The House.

Yet, we found, when all was said and done, there really is no place like home.

Dennis and I have agreed - no more discussion - we're staying in DC for now. Staying in this house, with all the stairs - the house that will in no way allow us to age gracefully - but we're staying. Maybe we'll move closer in, nearer the city when we get older. Lots older.

For now, we love our house, and more than anything else, we love the setting. Across from Rock Creek Park, we share our life with foxes, owls, hawks, and deer, not to mention the glorious collection of birds at our feeders. It's a great life, in the city, yet close to nature.

So, for all of you wonderful friends (Tin Man, Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion,) who have listened to the on again off again moving talk. Forget all that. We're going to be DC residents for the foreseeable future. There really is no place like home.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Cooking Classes with Mrs. Wheelbarrow: Schedule through August, 2010

It's Springtime in the garden and everything is greening up. At the same time, our menus change to take full advantage of the fresh foods available. Peas, asparagus, lamb, new salad greens, young beets, the first strawberries.

We're just a few weeks away from delicious fresh produce appearing at farmstands and farmers' markets. I plan to do my best to enjoy in season foods and preserve the fresh bounty (CanORama)

Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Kitchen Cooking Classes
Schedule through August, 2010

Class size is limited to six.

Sunday, April 11 11a-3p
DINNER PARTY: Shitake Thai Sticks, Chicken in Striped Pajamas, Sweet Potato Fries,
Perfect Salad, Roasted Rhubarb on Puff Pastry

Saturday, April 17 1p-4p

Summer Classes
NEW DATE Sunday, May 23 12-3 Main Dish Salads
Salade Nicoise, Bistro Frisee Salad, Arugula Salad with Sliced Steak

Saturday, June 19 12 - 3 Basics of Canning: Jams & Chutneys
Students will take away canned goods they have made.

Saturday, July 10 12 - 3 Basics of Canning: Pickles
Dilly beans, Kosher dills, Sweet Pickle Chunks
Students will take away canned goods they have made.

Sunday, July 18 12 - 3 DINNER PARTY: Indian Flavors
Samosas, Saag Paneer, Vegetable Curry, Chicken Masala, Jasmine Rice, Dessert TBD

Coming in the Fall
Quick Pastas

Basics of Canning: Tomatoes from Sauce to Salsa
One Chicken Three Ways
DINNER PARTY: Elegant Pasta & Italian Tastes

Classes $50/each
Attend all four $150., prepaid
Bring a friend - two people attend for $80.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Daring Cooks - Favorite Risotto, Even Better

I have had an on again off again relationship with risotto. Sometimes I like it, sometimes it taste like gruel. So this month's Daring Cooks challenge hit me hard. I wasn't sure I was up for the challenge.

The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.

There's only one risotto I really like. It happens that it's from Food52 co-founder and New York Times food writer, Amanda Hesser. Amanda wrote a charming cooking memoir, Cooking for Mr. Latte, with a recipe that did a lot to change my mind about risotto. So, for this challenge, I went right there, and made Creamy Risotto with Lemon.

And I used a new chicken stock - one I've been testing for Food52 this week.
the stock was made with chicken feet and was so gelatin-y! amazing mouthfeel.

Finally, because I am still a little ambivalent about risotto - I started thinking about what I might add to this rice dish to make me happy. There were tiny little new asparagus at the market this morning, so they had a place, certainly. Then, I had a brainstorm. You see, I am a crunch lover. Not so big on the creamy ricey thing - too much like porridge.
Here's what I came up with. To the lemon risotto, stir in some chopped tiny new asparagus, spoon this into a baking dish, and cover with breadcrumbs chopped up with parsley and garlic, then moistened with a little melted butter.
This wonder of wonders emerged from the oven crunchy on the top and creamy inside. Yum Yum.
Baked Risotto with Asparagus & Lemon
Serves 4
For the risotto:
1 T olive oil
1 T butter
5 c excellent chicken stock, simmering in a pot (I made thirschfeld's Stock Under Pressure from Food52)
1 c arborio rice
1 medium onion, chopped
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/4 c creme fraiche
1 small bunch asparagus, blanched and chopped into 1" pieces
1/4 c grated parmesian cheese
For the topping:
1.5 c breadcrumbs
1/2 c chopped parsley
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 Tbls butter, melted

Make the risotto:
In a large, heavy stockpot or saucepan (at least 3 qt), heat the olive oil and butter. Add the onion and saute until starting to get toasty brown on the edges. Add the rice and stir, toast for a couple of minutes. Add the lemon juice and scrape up any brown tasty bits.
Turn the heat to medium low.
Add the chicken stock one ladleful/about a 1/2 c. at a time and stir until the liquid is absorbed each time. Be patient. Stir Stir.
When you've added all but a cup or so of the stock, taste the rice to see if it's done. It should be slightly al dente. If you need more liquid, add the stock and taste again. If you need more, use water. Keep cooking until the rice has a nice bite.
Take it off the heat, stir in the asparagus, cheese, creme fraiche and lemon zest.
Lightly butter a gratin pan. Spoon in the risotto until filled.
Make the topping. In the food processor, blitz the bread crumbs, parsley and garlic clove. Add the melted butter. Press the topping on the risotto and bake, uncovered, at 350 for 35 minutes.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Samosa Potato Cakes, perfect with chutney

Long before I made my first batch of mango chutney, it showed up on our family dinner table. My mother, in an attempt to feed two kids on a college professor’s meager salary, not to mention, raise those kids with educated palates, started to make Indian curries.

The first of those curries appeared in 1968, Madison, Wisconsin, a couple of days after Thanksgiving, no doubt a reaction to our moans of "No More Turkey, Mom."

It was a simple turkey curry made by browning onions and garlic in butter, sprinkling on curry powder and some flour to thicken everything. Once this aromatic mix was browned, the flour cooked, she added chicken broth and cream. When it was simmering, she added cooked turkey and warmed it through. Not an elegant curry, but we loved it.

When I think about our curry nights, it’s a funny piece of “modern table art” that my mother used for those special nights that is most remembered. A round wicker tray in which snuggled eight bright colored doves, each one a bowl. Around the tray were chopped tomato, chopped cucumber stirred up in a little sour cream, chopped scallions, raisins, chopped up hard boiled egg, flaked coconut, peanuts and that heavenly mango chutney.

Curry was like an ice cream sundae for dinner. We would pile all the additions on our budget-stretching curry, never imagining it was a leftover dinner. It was heaven.

That was my first encounter with chutney, and I’ve been finding new ways to use it ever since. Here are more ideas. Maybe you have an idea of your own? Leave a comment, please, and help spread the word.

As a condiment with all poultry. Heavenly with lamb.
Warm brie with chutney poured over the top in a 325 oven for 10-15 minutes.
As a spread on a turkey sandwich. Or leftover lamb sandwich.
Serve with samosas.
Stir it into a chicken salad.
Use it as a barbeque sauce.
Mix it with sour cream or plain yogurt (Greek, preferably) as a dip.
Or do as my friend, Capie, does, and spoon it right out of the jar.
I made up this recipe the other night. (Too many frozen peas led me to tweet a plea for pea recipes. The gals at Big Girls, Small Kitchen (@BGSK) said “Samosa potatoes? Like the filling of a samosa but without dough.” and I was off and running. I turned to wonderful Andrea Nyguyen’s cookbook Asian Dumplings for more advice.
Inside Out Samosas
adapted from Asian Dumplings
Makes 8 or 9 cakes

4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
1/4 c onion, diced the same size as the peas
2 tsp minced ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
2 T butter
1-1/2 tsp coriander seed
1/2 tsp cumin seed
1/4 tsp cayenne
3/4 tsp garam masala
1/4 c frozen peas
1/4 c carrot, diced the same size as the peas
1/4 c flour spread out on a plate
Canola oil
Boil the whole potatoes for 20 minutes, or until soft. Remove from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and cool slightly, then slip off the skins.
In the meantime, in that boiling water, drop in the diced carrots and blanch for 2 minutes, then drain.
In a small saute pan, melt the butter and toast the coriander and cumin seed in the butter. Saute the onion, ginger and garlic until just starting to brown on the edges. Remove from the heat.
Mash the potatoes, then add the onions, carrots, peas, and cayenne and mix. I used my hands.
Fill the 1/4 c measure with the mixture, for pretty portioning, and pat into a fat little cake. Form the remaining cakes in the same way.
In a large non-stick pan (really, trust me, you want non-stick), add a slick of canola oil and get it nice and hot.
Dredge each cake lightly in flour. Use a light touch, don’t smush the cake together.
Carefully place the cake into the nice hot pan and get it good and brown on each side.
Serve with mango chutney, naturally.

There is no photo of the cooked cakes. We ate them before I remembered to take a picture. That Good.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Can-O-Rama Kick Off: Zippy Mango & Sour Cherry Chutney

When did this canning obsession start?

I remember making strawberry jam with my great-grandmother Agatha, a compact woman with a commanding bosom. Her son, my great-uncle Arthur had a small farm and brought over produce all summer long. Whole tomatoes, kosher half sours. Sweet pickle chunks. Peaches in syrup - pears, too. Those were days when paraffin was used to seal the jars. We would work all day in her small kitchen. Me, five, maybe six years old, standing on a metal kitchen stepstool so I could see into the pot, and stir and stir. I can still see the narrow white stove. The big preserving pan. The white ceramic big sink. The steps to the cellar, where she stored all the jars. There were stewed tomatoes, pickled tomatoes, beets, watermelon rind and dilly beans.
Flash forward ten years. The parents divorced. We left the town where grandmother and greatgrandmother lived. I lost touch with their kitchens. I lost touch with a lot. I was a teenager, confused, and talking to my mother seemed just impossible. But we could always cook together, my mother and I. And making jam was a dedicated process that would take hours. And that’s where, as cherries were pitted, plums chopped, tomatoes peeled, family stories were told, and where we worked out our differences over the years. I grew up, I created a life in Washington, and she and her husband settled into a home in the Berkshires. But we never stopped cooking together.

Other than mango chutney, a condiment I grew up with, I hadn’t done much canning at my own house. (The mango chutney is like a drug. Once you’ve had it, you can’t imagine life without it, and so I started putting up a few jars of chutney even when I was in college.)

I otherwise left canning to my mother, and raided her larder for raspberry jam, apricot preserves, and jalapeno jelly when I visited. Somehow I thought I would be able to do that forever. And then, a short, gruesome bout with colon cancer, and she was gone. And I’ve been canning at my house ever since. At first, I’m sure I started it all just to evoke her memory. To spend time with her memories. Sort of obvious and I hate being so obvious.

All that sentimentality combined, now, with my desire to eat locally. To support local farmers. To eat organically. To eat no processed foods, other than those I process myself. And canning has become a passion. I’m poring through the stained index cards from great grandmother, both grandmothers, and my Mom, recreating and reinventing, with their whispered assistance.
I grew Thai chilis last summer and froze them. They work perfectly for the chutney.

Early March is the canning season kick off in this house. It’s right around this time of year the Mexican champagne mangoes come into the market. (I realize this is in complete contrast to all my local eating talk - but really, this chutney is a DRUG.)

I shopped the Asian markets here in DC, where I found a case of mangoes - 20 count - for $9.65 last week. A case will make six pints of chutney, or double the recipe shown below. In our house, where I am the only chutney person, I go through 3 pints a year. I make three extra pints for Christmas presents.

Here is my recipe for mango chutney, the one I’ve been making for years. It’s up on Food52 and has been since last summer. I have no idea where the recipe came from. My mom and I tinkered for awhile, and then I’m sure I did some tinkering over the years, too. This is the one I’ve made for at least 8 years.

I made a batch of my chutney a few days ago. Tried and true. Shortly before I began the chutney, Lizthechef, a Twitter friend & Food52‘er, posted her recipe for Mama's Mango Chutney. We agreed to each make the other’s chutney.
on the left -zippy mango & sour cherry. on the right -move over major gray mango chutney

Liz, I’m here to confess. I started to make yours, but then that little Recipe-Adapter-Devil got into me, and here’s what I came up with.

Zippy Mango and Sour Cherry Chutney
Makes 3 pints

5 c very ripe champagne mangoes and the juices, diced (from 10 mangoes)
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, slivered
1/2 c crystallized ginger
1/2 c golden raisins
1/2 c dried sour cherries
1 tsp mustard seed
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 c apple cider vinegar
1 c brown sugar
3 super hot thai chilis, pierced with the tip of your paring knife

Put everything into a bowl, stir, and cover. Refrigerate overnight to let the flavors bloom. The next day, put the mixture into a non-reactive preserving pot and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
Turn the heat down and simmer, uncovered, stirring regularly and gently, for 45 minutes.
The chutney will get thicker, but try not to let the mango pieces break down too much.
(You must put the chutney in jars and process at this point. If you aren’t able to, cover and cool, and when you get back to it, bring to a full boil, then simmer for 10 minutes before processing.)
Tomorrow: Samosas Inside Out - a perfect foil for this chutney.
In the meantime, as this is our first canning project together, I’ll walk you through the processing part:

Before you even start to think about the mangoes, get out your big deep stockpot. You’re going to need a rack of some sort on the bottom. You can use a rack like this, made from canning rings:

Or a piece of non-skid material. Or maybe your pot came with a rack. However you create a cushion, you just don’t want the glass jars banging around on the bottom of the pan.

So, fill the pot with enough water to submerge your jars, and bring it up to a boil.

You’ll need three pint jars or six half-pint jars, rings and new lids with the rubber rings. The rings can be reused as long as they aren’t rusty or dented. You’ll need new lids every time. Lids are readily available in hardware stores and some grocery stores, especially early in the canning season. In 2008, there was a late-season shortage and some tomato canners were freaked.

Put the glass jars in the deep stockpot and boil them.

Now, go back and make the chutney.

When the big stockpot with the jars is boiling like mad, set the timer for 20 minutes, and keep boiling, after which your jars are sterilized. This rough boil also will out any jars with cracks - they’ll split open BEFORE you fill them, in other words. A much better arrangement.

After sterilization, leave them in the covered pot and keep the water barely simmering until the chutney is ready.

Note: If you have a dishwasher, some have a setting for a short wash, or a sterilizer, which is very useful.

When your preserves is simmering away, about 15 minutes before it’s done, put the rings in a small saucepan filled with water, and get that boiling, too.

When the chutney is done, give it a good stir and turn off the heat, and let it sit for no more than 5 minutes before filling the jars.
In those five minutes:
Remove the glass jars from the hot water using your jar lifter, place them upside down on a clean kitchen towel.
Turn up the heat on the big stockpot and add 3-4 T of white vinegar. This will keep your jars all sparkly and the minerals in your water from making spots.
Turn off the heat under the small saucepan, take it off the heat, and add the lids with the rubber ring. You don’t want to boil the rubber rings, just place them in hot water so the rubber will more readily form a seal on the glass jar.
Flip the jars over.
I forgot this handy item in the list of must-have tools. Jar filling funnel. Hardware stores.

Now, ladle the ingredients into your jars, filling to 1/2” from the top. Any extra leftover goes into a little bowl for the cook. Don’t overfill, or your seal will fail.
Fill to the first ridge on the neck of the jar, that's 1/2" on any canning jar.

Wipe the jars, rim and all the threads well with a damp, clean kitchen towel.
Using the metallic lid lifter, or a pair of tongs, get the rubberized lids and place them on the jars.
Finger tighten the rings on each jar.

Using your jar lifter, lower the jars into the stockpot. Settle them on the rack, sitting upright. If the water doesn’t cover the jars by 2”, add more (I often use the already hot water that I heated the lids in.) Cover and get the water boiling - really boiling - again.
Counting from the time the water is boiling hard, process 10 minutes, for 1/2 pints or 20 minutes for pints.

After the processing is complete, turn off the heat and lift out the jars. Place them on a folded towel on the counter - never place hot jars on a cold stone counter - and listen. You’ll hear the seals pop. It’s a satisfying sound. And it means you’ve safely canned.

Don’t fiddle with your jars for several hours, if possible. Place them where they will be undisturbed. Then put them on the shelf and stare at them lovingly. Try not to hoard.