Jun 8, 2014

new work in the studio




i've been painting again and have added a few new pieces to my art website and saatchi online gallery please check them out if you are at all interested. i have started a site on society6 as well, which is a cool creative site out of LA. there you can have your images made into charming housewares and personal products like throw pillows, cell phone cases, shower curtains, and tee shirts. the art and designs are so original and interesting on this site that i may never buy another mass-produced and designed product again, the throw pillows alone are groundbreaking and so unlike what you can find in your local home furnishing store. also quality is quite good and prices are low. have a look cupandtable on society6

i am really excited to be painting again after taking a hiatus due to moving out of my studio space and into a barn with far less room to paint. it's been a challenge creating space and time to work, but i can never stay away from it for long. it's a compulsion for me and it is kind of like the ideas build up inside me until i get the chance to express them in paint. kind of cathartic really.

these latest paintings are a bit of a departure for me as they all feature gardens and plants. i am far more used to working with distant landscapes and abstraction. the plant kingdom is a fascinating place. more to come on that. also i've been taking a japanese ceramics class in nyc at togei kyoshitsu, really interesting. i just love japanese ceramics. so inventive. so many different shapes for plates and dishes, hexagons, rectangles, not all the dishes are round like standard issue american ceramics. it's been really fun playing with clay and wheel throwing. the last time i did wheel throwing i was in middle school and i would come to my mom's art classroom in a neighboring school district, she was an art teacher, to do ceramics on my days off. my mom is a brilliant crafter, and can make almost anything out of almost anything. her skills include weaving, sewing, jewelry making ceramics, pen and ink, etching, crochet, water color and photography to name a few. she's the kind of person who just might have a pair of needle nose pliers in her purse just in case, she is also a kitchen magician who easily pulls off things like baked alaska and maintains a beautiful garden with elaborate plantings. she still mows her entire lawn--and it's hilly and large--with her little electric push mower, she was born in 1935, and she's a force of nature. she was an excellent pottery teacher. but anyway, i'll show you some of the pottery i threw, nearly 30 pieces, course as soon as they come out of the kiln for the last time. it's been great to relearn something i haven't done in years. i hope you are enjoying this last bit of spring in the northern hemisphere. the stone fruits are in, nectarines, apricots, plots, an embarrassment of riches. xo, g




Apr 13, 2014

(finally) spring salad with mixed greens grapefruit, avocado and pistachios


well it is finally spring. it is time to forget the polar vortex and the record 16 snowstorms we endured this winter in new england. that is firmly in the rear view mirror now. spring flowers are coming up in the garden, the birds are chirping, the trees have buds, the weather in boston was in the 70s this weekend when i was visiting my son at school making for a lovely stroll around boston commons, newbury street and china town yesterday. so lovely. each new season seems to instruct my palate in a new direction. this spring i want fresh, green, light suppers. i want spinach- peach-blueberry-passionfruit smoothies, vietnamese noodles. today, i can't stop thinking about this salad. i am headed to whole foods shortly to buy grapefruit and avocados to put this wish into action. this is a repeat of a recipe i posted back in early may 2010. but trust me, it bears repeating. this recipe also makes a great lunch or a terrific side dish with grilled meat or fish for supper.


may 6, 2010

warmer weather has me thinking of cool, light, refreshing salads.

grapefruit has just been fantastic this season, so sweet and luscious. especially the late season grapefruit, still excellent in the stores right now. this salad comes together with an irresistible, sweet, tart and savory tang and a delicate but significant crunch.

i love this salad. grapefruit avocado salad is a california classic and makes the most of great local ingredients in season. in the 1940s and 50s my father-in-law ate a grapefruit avocado salad as part of the christmas day menu at his childhood home in brentwoodcalifornia. his mother, ona weed, my husband's grandmother, was great friends with edith head, a famously fantastic hollywood costume designer. i never met ona, as she died before i joined the family, but i've always been fascinated by her, for her interesting stories, even more than i interesting than her salads.

in present-day california, you will find, at the slanted door, (a firmly established and very popular vietnamese restaurant now located in the san francisco ferry terminal), a terrific grapefruit and jicama salad with candied pecans that is quite memorable. you can munch on it's crunchy goodness while looking out at the windy, vibrant, sparkling sanfrancisco bay, and thinking about the wonderful mix of textures and flavors, salty, sweet, spicy. mmm. somewhere between these two venerable salads lies the inspiration for this one. i like it so much i could eat it every day during grapefruit season.

salad of mixed greens grapefruit, avocado and pistachios
serves 6
16oz mixed greens
1/2 cup finely shredded purple cabbage
1, avocado, halved, peeled and sliced
2 large or 3 small grapefruits, a mix of varieties, white, pink and red is best, peeled and sectioned to remove membrane and pith
(you may have a few extra grapefruit sections, so snacking on the irresistibly juicy grapefruit
while making the salad is strongly encouraged, a nice little reward for the chef)
1/4 cup chopped toasted unsalted pistachios
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, stems removed

combine salad greens and vegetables in a large bowl or on a platter. arrange cabbage, avocado, grapefruit sections. sprinkle with cilantro leaves and chopped pistachios.

for the dressing
1/4 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (i squeeze what i need from the remainder of the grapefruit after sectioning)
1 T minced cilantro stems
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced shallot
1/4 cup ponzu or champagne vinegar (something very light and slightly fruity)
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp agave nectar or light brown sugar
mix thoroughly, allow flavors to blend for 10 minutes before serving, the flavors really blossom quickly but it does take several minutes.

lightly pour the dressing all over the salad, toss, and serve.

my family stopped speaking when i served this to them. 5 minutes of very mindful munching later, they peppered me with compliments. then they ate their vietnamese style broiled sole with nuoc chum and steamed jasmine rice very happily reminiscing about the salad.

Mar 5, 2014

vietnamese crêpes, a fresh start


oh arctic vortex, i am so tired of you. i am longing for the lush colors, flavors and textures of another time and place. i am often trying to cure whatever ails my family with vital foods. so when the cold and greys get at you, i recommend brightening your day and your week with say a classic dish from vietnam. warm. friendly. delicious brightness. this is one of my favorite foods in the whole wide world. fresh textures. lively flavors, crispy, salty sour sweet. it took me quite a long time to find and then massage a recipe i liked. but after a few years of research, i finally found what i was looking for. it didn't come easy. but it was worth it. so here you go. pour yourself into a new project, get re-energized, fight back against the chill. a whole new season is coming on.

vietnamese crêpes
6 servings

crepe base
1/2 cup dried mung beans
2 cups warm water

1. assemble ingredients. place dried mung beans in a small glass bowl, add water to cover. allow to soften for 1 hour. make the dipping sauce and set out the garnishes while  you wait.

crepe batter
1 cup coconut milk
2 cups rice flour
1 cup rice or potato starch
1 heaping teaspoon tumeric
3 thinly sliced scallions
4 cups water

filling
1 boneless pork chop cut into thin slices
3/4 lb shelled and deveined shrimp, halved
4 cups bean sprouts

2. lightly drain the softened mung beans. place them in a blender with the coconut milk. process until nice and smooth. pour into a medium sized bowl and add the flour, starch, tumeric, and water. whisk until combined. add in the scallions and whisk a bit more. allow the batter to rest while you are cooking the fillings.

3. in a nonstick pan, the same one you are going to use to make the crepes, add a small smattering of olive or rice bran oil and quickly sauté the pork slices over very high heat. make sure the pan is nice and hot. brown the slices on each side and set aside on a platter, they should be seared but lightly cooked, they will cook a little more in the crepe. next add the shrimp halves, again sauté quickly on high heat, sear, but lightly undercook. remove and set aside. now the bean sprouts. sauté quickly for 2 minutes and remove.

4. okay now it is show time. add another drizzle of olive or rice bran oil to the nonstick pan, (incidentally i use an 8 inch pan but a 6 or 9 inch could work in a pinch). stir up the batter and pour about 3/4 up of batter into the pan in a thin layer, swirling it around to cover the bottom of the pan with a few deft circles or your wrist (you can do this and it might even be fun). okay make sure the heat is on medium high or even high depending on your stove. let the batter sizzle in the pan and cover it for a minute, to cook through now add a small handful of bean sprouts and the a few slices of the cooked pork and shrimp, cover and cook another minute, and do not over stuff the crepe or it will be difficult to eat. check to make sure the crepe is nice and crisp. let it cook another minute if you are unsure, you do not want it to be gloppy or soggy, but light and crisp. okay when its ready insert your spatula under half the crepe, gingerly and swiftly fold it over on top of itself. now slide it onto a plate. one by one the crepes will be ready. i have even trained my kids to cook their own so the cook (me) gets to eat.

5. serve immediately. if you are super neat, cut the folded crepe into triangles and wrap in the lettuce leaf garnish and dip in a small dish of sauce. if you are more like me, cut into it haphazardly with fork and wrap in lettuce and dip, spilling some, but not too much. dive in. mmmm. yum.

garnish
heirloom, butter, red and green leaf lettuces, shredded carrot, cilantro leaves and nuoc cham dipping sauce.

nuoc cham (basic dipping sauce)

3 Tablespoons lime juice
3 Tablespoons brown sugar or palm sugar
1/2 cup water
3 Tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon minced shallot
(optional minced cilantro stems, grated carrot, minced thai red chili)

whisk together and let rest for 30 minutes or more to combine the flavors. Taste for flavor balance as some limes are sweeter than others and some fish sauce is saltier than others. If it is too strong dilute with an even mixture of water and rice vinegar until desired lightness is achieved.

Jan 30, 2014

Happy Happy Lunar New Year in 2014





Wow, a bright and shiny new year is upon us. If you are anything like me, you are happy to say goodbye to the last one and say hello to a fresh start. I hope you are well and galloping swiftly toward your fondest dreams in the year of the horse.

In honor of the new lunar year below, is my recipe for pork and shrimp potstickers. They are really not too difficult. I would say moderate effort will work. The homemade dough is easy, easier than pie, as most things are. And the filling, well that is not too hard either. If it seems taxing, you can put it off and make them in stages over a few days. Give it a try, fresh, homemade dumplings are one of the best things in the universe, they freeze well, can be steamed or fried, and are especially delicious made to your own specs.

Pork and Shrimp Potstickers
makes 32 dumplings

Dough
2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup luke warm water

Filling
1 pound napa cabbage
1 cup chopped chinese chives (available in asian grocery stores)
1.5 teaspoons salt
4 large shrimp, raw, peeled, deveined, lightly chopped
1/2 pound ground pork
(or pork loin or tenderloin cut into chunks and processed in a food processor with a little olive or sesame oil to make up for the lack of pork fat in these lean cuts)
1 T dry sherry
1.5 Tablespoons soy sauce
olive oil and or rice bran oil

Tangy Citrus Soy Dipping Sauce
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons brown rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon soy sauce

1. Mix the flour and water together in a medium mixing bowl with a dough whisk or wooden spoon. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead lightly on a lightly floured board for a couple of minutes until the dough becomes smoother and more elastic, add a few drops of water if too dry (as mine was this winter) or a little xtra flour if too sticky (as mine was last summer). Form the dough into a smooth ball, it should bounce back if you poke it, and place back in the mixing bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rest for 1 hour.

2. Slice the napa cabbage and then chop fine. Sprinkle a teaspoon of salt over the cabbage and allow to rest in a strainer lined with cheesecloth. Allow to rest for 30 minutes and then squeeze out the water, you will be able to remove a lot of water, maybe a cup. Discard the cabbage water.

3. Place the cabbage, the chopped shrimp, the ground pork, the sherry the soy sauce and a tablespoon of oil in a large mixing bowl and mix well with the spoon, dough whisk, or your hand. Cover and set aside while  you roll out the dough.

4. Divide the well-rested dough in two and roll between your hands, making 2 even ropes 16 inches long, use a ruler for best results. Cut the dough ropes into 1 inch pieces and roll the 32 pieces into balls. Cover with the damp towel to keep moist, this is important. With a rolling pin, roll each piece into a 3 inch circle. Dust the circles with a little flour and stack. Keep the stacks covered with the damp towel.

5. Place a circle in the palm of your left hand and place a heaping teaspoon of the mixed filling in an oblong shape in the center of the dough circle. Fold the dough over and seal the edges, making half circle shapes. Pinch the seams together and place four small folds in each dumpling as above in the photos. Keep the finished dumplings under the cloth to keep them from drying out.

6. The dumplings can be boiled or fried at this point. To boil fill a medium stock pot half full and bring to boil on high heat. Slip up to 8 dumplings into the water, one at a time, and gently. Make sure they don't stick together or to the bottom of the pot. Allow the water to come back to a boil and then add 1 cup of cold water. Bring to a boil again and add another cup cold water. Bring to boil one last time, at that point the dumplings are ready to eat. To fry, heat a 9 inch nonstick pan over medium high heat. Add 1Tablespoon rice bran oil, add dumplings, again about 8, make sure they do not touch. Saute for a minute. Then add 1/2 cup cold water and cover. Cook for another 5 or 6 minutes until the water has evaporated. At this point  you will want to shake them in the pan, lower the heat and cook for another 2 minutes until they are nicely browned, but not blackened.

6. Measure out the dipping sauce ingredients into a small bowl.

7. Serve the dumplings immediately with the dipping sauce.

Enjoy. I wish you and your family a prosperous new year with good fortune and good health. And remember, sometimes a little extra effort pays off handsomely. So grab some friends or family members and have them help you roll out these little nuggets of deliciousness.

Nov 7, 2013

natural states, painting exhibition

well the day has arrived, or nearly. friday night i am having the opening reception for a show of my paintings @ crome architeture in marin county california. i've been working on this for a while now and it was not so easy shipping all the work across the country, but i am thrilled with the space and how it all came together so easily despite the distance. wish me luck tomorrow and check out the show if you find yourself in the bay area. natural states will be up november 7 2013 through january 7 2014. will post some photos from the opening next week. here's a link to my painting site www.gretchenkish.com and an announcement about the show from crome architecture http://goo.gl/YDEQCS i'm serving an assortment of crackers and small grapes on toothpicks that look like little grape kabobs, chocolate covered raisins, california pistachios, plus wine and sparkling water as refreshment, but that is the closest i've made it to cooking all week, takeout food is a great timesaver when you are working late every night.