Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Oleana Inspired Dinner

My inspiration after our dinner at Oleana  persisted even after making my collage of Mediterranean colors shown in the last post. I took the chef, Ana Sortun's book Spice out of our local library and chose a few recipes to try yesterday.

I decided to make sweet potato bisteeya and a fatoush salad. I chose those recipes based on what my family likes (specifically my daughter who is quite picky but likes sweet potatoes and pie!) and on what I have in the fridge and storage. We still had some watermelon radish and savoy cabbage from our CSA (the farmer is the chef's husband). The recipe for the fatoush salad in the book was summer variety, but was easily adapted to ingredients I had on hand and found available locally.

Usually I make rather simple but tasty dishes, but these had lots of steps and ingredients.
The bisteeya required boiling of potatoes, sauteing onions and spices, and adding chopped herbs to make the filling.

The filling went into layers of filo dough stacked with a toasted pine nut mixture.

 Together they looked like this.


Prior to baking like this.

The fatoush involved lots of washing, peeling and chopping vegetables, then making a vinegrette and  a yogurt sauce.

Finally after what seemed like many, many hours of cooking, I plated up the dishes and called the family.

Alas, my son thought it was "OK." He's not really a sweet potato fan. He always likes salad, but didn't necessarily find this one unusual. My daughter wouldn't eat the pie. There were too many things she couldn't identify. My husband liked everything, but he likes my meals that take a lot less effort too. I enjoyed the complex flavors and light texture of the pie. The salad was bright and tasty. But, I certainly can understand why this is restaurant food. I would have enjoyed it more if I had a sous chef to help with the preparation and someone to wash the pots and utensils.

Happily, I invited a friend to join me for a lunch of the leftovers today. She was very appreciative, and I enjoyed the meal even more when I only had to do a little reheating a plating. YUM.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Color Themed Collages

Joining up with ihanna again and her collage challenge. She's been doing some color themed pieces, here are a couple of mine.

In this coldest of weeks, mornings in the low single digits barely hitting the 20s for the day's highs... I tried some winter whites.


Last weekend we headed out to Oleana, the Eastern Mediterranean restaurant owned by the chef wife of our CSA farmer. Between 6 of us, we had 5 appetizers, 4 entrees and 3 desserts. So many delicious flavors... the most amazing beans cooked al dente and so flavorful in a dish of scallops and roasted cauliflower with cinnamon and other spices, Fatoush, a salad with watercress, romaine, tangerine & pomegranate, Sultan’s Delight; Tamarind-Glazed Beef & Smokey Eggplant Purée with Pinenuts, Chick Pea Terrine with Apricot, Pistachio & Tahini Sauce. I'm getting hungry all over again.

It inspired this deep red and green Mediterranean (and Matisse) themed collage:


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Artistry: Collages and Cuisine

Still working on my ihanna challenge collages;

This first one uses folded dollars that make the letters on the bills spell out controversial statements. They include "trust no one", "the American idol", "made in China" and "the end is near". I had cut them from The New Yorker months ago. I paired them with jewels from fashion magazines and Tiffany catalogs. I have such distaste for the ever-present focus on money, the GDP, and stock numbers by our news media. Everything is about being consumers, borrowing and getting more; fancier and newer cars and phones with more features. Meanwhile, we've just finished the hottest year on record with an unprecedented number of devastating storms and drought. Our leaders won't address crucial policy issues energy or preventing gun violence. I don't love this collage but I'm glad I was able to address these issues in my own head. It's the sort of political, religion, values talk that in society makes one unpopular.


Here's collage number three. I was trying to explore balance in color and form. I worked off the painting of the middle-aged comfortable but still stylish couple playing cards. I like the colors and their seeming attention to eachother. Next month my DH and I are celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary. Celebration and comfort are on my mind.

Still family and work commitments continue. It is a challenge to feed my family something healthy that they will all enjoy every night. Here's a new dish I tried. It was a real winner. Sort of like having dessert for dinner. I served it with roasted squash with onions and cranberry to round out the sweet flavors.Comment if you'd like the recipe.

Apple and Maple Ricotta Pie

Saturday, January 12, 2013

52 Weekly Collages

Working in my local library is exposing me to so many books whenever I am there. (I am a sub and generally work 1 to 2 days/week). I rarely leave without a couple more to add to my kitchen or night table stack. Down in the children's room the other day, I picked up a biography of Virginia lee Burton called A Life in Art. You may remember her as the author and illustrator of childhood favorites including: Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel or my favorite The Little House. What interests me most is her development from a talented amateur into a professional artist and writer. What gives a person that confidence and drive? How do people take their art into the public sphere and get noticed? Of course, in addition to confidence and drive, they probably have an unusual talent. Or in the case of movie stars who then write books, it's who you know.

As always, I continue to write and make art for myself. I think lots of people on the internet are in the murky twilight of loving to do art, but not really having anyone to share it with. So I continue to share here and hope for the comments and support of others. Recently, I joined a flicker group 365 Somethings. It grew out of a challenge on the ihanna blog.

I don't want to commit myself to 365 works, but I'm willing to commit to at least one per week (52 collages). Above is the first one. It uses as it's center a picture of a french subway entrance that I cut out of a magazine years ago and have been meaning to do something with before it gets torn, wrinkled or thrown away by accident. I set the picture before me and went through a stack of paper scraps until I found colors or shapes that echoed the colors or theme. I wanted to highlight that it was Paris, thus the golden skyline, and emphasize the gorgeous copper color of the walls and the curving ironwork. It looks a bit busy here, I think. Maybe, my attraction here wasn't the photo as much as wanting to be in a city where even the subway entrances are entrancing.

Below is a photo of three collages that I did last fall in progress. They have painted backgrounds, lusty or lively ladies and coordinated edges. The finished products are hanging inside my kitchen cabinets and remind me to be bold or silly, or just make me smile.