Monday, December 10, 2012

Edible Gifts

It's that time of year again, and I'm thinking what can go from the kitchen to under the Christmas tree.  This year it is going to be Dilly Beans (I planned ahead this fall), Maple WalnutsCaramelized Pecans and Roasted Almonds.

During the year I save attractive jars (especially red topped jam jars) to use as holiday containers for my various gifts. I've done almonds for years, pecans recently and walnuts are new this year. Most of the maple walnut gifts are maple walnut pieces for ice cream and salad topping.  I've included a recipe for Maple Mustard Dressing with some of the jars. I separate out the whole walnuts and package them separately, as "nibbling walnuts."



Fruit Cake was one of my Dad's favorites.  I used to make at least 3 fruit cakes for Christmas; one to share, one to go under the tree for Dad and one to save as his February Birthday gift. The rest of the family is not really that keen on fruit cake, so since Dad died I have scaled back and occasionally make one cake for the holidays.  This is still a good present, however, especially if made in the smaller mini-gift size pans.

Cranberry Bread (photo left) was always the "teacher's gift". For a few years I made it, and then Alex and Chris helped me or really made it themselves for their favorite teachers.  This is always a most appreciated item for holiday fairs.

Cookies, especially Mexican Meringues, Molasses Cookies/Ginger Snaps, particularly in the form of gingerbread men/ladies, and holiday stars and trees, and Nut Puffs also make nice gifts. And sometimes I have made a Cranberry Pudding, our traditional Christmas night dessert, for special friends/absent family members.

BEACH PLUM JELLY

Many years ago when "Grandmother" (Ed's Mom) summered on Chappaquiddick Island we gathered beach plums in August.  (Scanned old photo at left shows ripe beach plums in foreground and Pogue Pond in the background.) I would then make Beach Plum Jelly, the majority of it eventually filling Grandmother's Christmas stocking. Ed's Mom died in 1997 but even for several years prior to then I had no source of beach plums.  However, since this blog is is in part "historical",  I include this well tested recipe, for "Standard Beach Plum Jelly"* adapted from Plum Crazy, by Elizabeth Post Mirel for the "archives".

Make beach plum juice:

Simmer for 30 minutes

10 c beach plums
2 c water

Strain through cheese cloth. Do not squeeze.

Make the jelly:

Bring to a boil and boil hard for one minute

3 1/2 c beach plum juice [I use 4 cups]
6 c sugar
3 oz (1/2 bottle)liquid pectin such as Certo

Skim off foam. Put in sterile jelly jars and seal.

*  In the preface to the jelly recipes, Ms. Mirel writes: "Before producing jelly, you must decide whether you want Natural Beach Plum Jelly, made with fruit, sugar and water only, or Standard Beach Plum Jelly, made with fruit, sugar, water and added pectin. The adherents of Natural Beach Plum Jelly claim that the pectin is an unnecessary adulterant. The advocates of Standard Beach Plum Jelly state that making jelly without added pectin is risky." (page 31) She then devotes several paragraphs to the pros and cons of each method.  As I recall, when I tired to go the natural route, my batch did not jell properly.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Gallimaufry


© 2012 Edward C Kern, Jr.
When cruising, Ed and I usually eat on board. One of the few exceptions is when were are near Little Cranberry Island in Maine.  Then, often with other sailing friends, we make a special effort to have dinner at Isleford Dock. * For the past few years our favorite entree has been "Gulf of Maine Halibut white beans, fennel, spring onions", but this past summer a new offering caught my eye: "Gallimaufry of Steamed Maine shellfish whole lobster, clams, mussels, and crab claws in slightly spicy seafood broth (corn and fingerling potatoes)".  The catch, it was served for two.  It took a bit of persuading to get Ed to give up the known halibut for the unknown, but he finally agreed to give it a try (photo left).  While Ed was not enthralled with the whole lobster (cut in half) or some of the other in-shell creatures, he did like the spicy sauce/broth, spicy in part due to the rings of jalapeno in the mix.


I decided to try a version of this at home.  My first step was to define "gallimaufry", maybe it would reveal some key ingredient(s) or technique.Sadly not,  "gallimaufry" is defined as a confused jumble or medley of things; hodgepodge.  So this is one of those anything (almost) goes dishes.  The variety of seafood in this dish works if cooking for a large crowd or shopping at a fish market that sells in small quantities.  Cooking for just two and starting with a whole bag (smallest quantity available) of Moosabec mahogany clams, I decided this would be enough seafood and focused on the sauce.

In a large pan heated to ~350 degrees add:

1 T olive oil 
4 cloves garlic (about 1 T), finely minced
1  jalapeno chili, in small slices (or more to taste; Isleford Dock cuts in rings)
10 - 12 "creamer" size or fingerling potatoes

Sautee a few minutes until garlic and potatoes are slightly browned, then add

1/3 c white wine

Stir for a couple of minutes and then add:

14.5 ounces diced tomatoes (I used Muir Organic Fire Roasted with Green Chilies)
1/2 c corn kernels**

Bring mixture to a boil and then add

2 # Moosabec mahogany little neck clams, previously washed and scrubbed*** 

Check every few minutes to see if the clams have opened; continue to cook over medium high heat until most/all of the clams have opened. Discard any unopened clams. Add:

2 T  fresh minced cilantro
Pepper to taste

Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves. (Didn't have any garnish for photo, 2nd from top, and color is definitely missing.  Tasty, but does not compare photographically with the inspiration-dish in Ed's color saturated cell phone photo at top.)

Note:  This recipe makes a lot of sauce/broth but the quantity seems consistent with the amount in the Isleford Dock dish.  Serve in shallow bowls or on plates with higher rims.

* Isleford Dock is special not only because of its excellent food but also for its magnificent views across Eastern Way to Mount Desert Island.  Vacationers from Mount Desert come to Little Cranberry Island by private boats and a small public ferry to dine, visit the few galleries on the dock and take in the awesome views, especially the sunset over Mount Desert.  The Secret Life of Lobsters by Trevor Corson, recommended to us by a  kayaker we met on a nearby island, is a good read while visiting this part of the world. This book,  which among many other things provides a good description of life on Little Cranberry and the role Isleford Dock plays in the small lobstering community, provides an excellent overview of the scientific and commercial aspects of lobsters and lobstering.

** Isleford Dock used ~ 1 1/2 slices of fresh corn on the cob; I would do the same when corn is in season.

*** Made with just clams, this is almost a spicy tomato based rendition of Linguine with Clams. But, remember this is really meant to be a  jumble or medley. Improvise and add a mix of seafood based on availability and/or personal taste.  While Isleford Dock used lobster, clams, mussels and crab claws,  shrimp, scallops,  and/or chunks of white fish, even chunks of sausage and/or chicken (as in Seafood Gumbo) would work. Adjust final cooking time accordingly.



Monday, November 19, 2012

Pear-Ginger Crisp/Apple Crisp


Chris came to dinner last night. From my suggestions, he chose Spaghetti-Ricotta Bake. This called for a fruit dessert, not a cake/pastry thing.  Cranberry-Apple Crisp would be perfect, but I had served it so much recently.  At the farm stand, I found some of the last of the local pears and tried this....

Mixing the cinnamon with the sugar before adding to the fruit helps spread the cinnamon more evenly.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Mix together:

4 pears (~2 pounds), peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/4 t ground cinnamon mixed with
1 T sugar
1 T crystallized ginger, finely chopped
1 T lemon juice

Place in an 8-inch diameter tart/pie baking dish.

In the same bowl used to mix the fruit (do not wash) combine:

1 T butter, melted
1 T maple syrup
1 T brown sugar
1/3 c walnuts, broken in small pieces

Mix well and then add:

1/2 c rolled oats
2 T flour

Mix until all of the oats are well coated with the "sticky ingredients", then pour topping over the fruit and distribute evenly.

Bake at 325 degrees F for 40 minutes.

Good served with Stonyfield vanilla non-fat frozen yogurt.

The three of us who tried this agreed, we like this topping better than the topping I have been using on the Cranberry-Apple Crisp.


VARIATION:

Use 4 unpeeled apples (~2 pounds), thinly sliced, instead of pears.

Increase ground cinnamon to 1/2 t and omit the crystallized ginger.









October 2013 Apples from Moogie's Tree Crisp: Ed and I were in Carbondale (CO) in October and found lots of apples from my Mom's tree awaiting us. Since a bear cub had been recently sighted in the front yard near the tree, we carefully gathered the apples every day,  I made many crisps out of these apples, including a home grown apple Birthday Crisp for my Mom with some apples we brought back to NH.














Reviewed 5/17/17

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Moosilauke Whole Wheat Batter Bread

Ed and I spent a wonderful (though very cold) night at the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge recently. The food as always was yummy but for me the highlights were the Whole Wheat Batter Bread at dinner and the Sticky Buns* at breakfast.  John, one of the crew members, gave me the recipe for the bread, adapted from Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads.  After reading the recipe, I asked John what gave the bread the wonderful topping. He said he had topped the hot bread with some micro-waved honey and a handful of oats.

Because this bread is so easy to make, and because bread for sandwiches is often hard to find when cruising,  I'm eager to try this recipe (without honey topping) on the boat next summer!

NOTE:  This recipe makes 2 medium loaves of bread.

Grease (I used butter) 2 medium 8" x 4" bread pans.

In a large mixing bowl combine:

6 c whole wheat flour [Dip and sweep if you measure. I weigh and use ~ 30.6 ounces King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour]
1/4 c sugar
1 t salt
2 packages [4 1/2 t] dry yeast [or 3 t instant dry yeast]

Mix well. Gradually pour in

3 1/2 c warm (120 - 130 degrees F) water

Mix, about 50 strokes, to blend.

Divide the batter between the two greased bread pans.

Cover each pan with waxed paper [buttered on the side that touches the bread] and let sit 30 minutes.

Preheat oven [not convection mode though Mr. Clayton advises "if using a convection oven, reduce heat 40 degrees for each bake period"] to 400 degrees F. Put a small pan on the bottom shelf.

After the bread has risen for 30 minutes, place pans on middle rack in the 400 degrees F oven. When putting bread in the oven put 8-12 ice cubes in the small pre-heated pan. Cook for 15 minutes then
REDUCE HEAT to 350 degrees F and cook for an additional 45 minutes. Remove bread from oven.

Let cool a few minutes then remove bread from the pan and place on wire rack to cool.  If the Moosilauke honey-oatmeal topping is desired, warm in microwave

3 T honey

Using a pastry brush, spread over the top of the loaves, then sprinkle top of loaf with

2 - 3 T oatmeal



© 2012 Edward C Kern, Jr.
And what did we do to work off all this delicious food?  A morning hike up Mount Moosilauke. While the low forty degree F temperatures, brisk wind and clouds shrouding the top of the mountain gave us pause, our decision to hike was well rewarded. The hike up Gorge Brook Trail was sheltered from the wind and as we approached the summit, the clouds lifted and the sun came out briefly, illuminating small spruce and grasses covered with snow.  Indeed a magical moment!





© 2012 Edward C Kern, Jr.
If you nail this recipe, and hopefully you will,  cool :-) If you wish you'd done better, for a wandering discussion on how I finally made a loaf comparable to Moosilauke's see Notes on Bread-making.

* The recipe for the Sticky Buns (in progress, photo at left), for now at least, did not make the Cook's Cache cut - too much butter and much more complicated than this bread to prepare.  The recipe, adapted from the King Arthur Cookbook, can be found in the Famous for Fine Food and Favorite Recipes from Moosilauke Ravine Lodge.

Reviewed 5/8/17

Notes on Breadmaking


The first loaf of Moosilauke Whole Wheat Batter Bread I made was a disappointment (photo left, bottom left loaf).  Tasty, but much denser than the bread we were served at the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge. So off to the library for bread books: The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum and the original source of this recipe, Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads.  If you are really interested in bread making  check out one or both of these books; don't rely on the wandering novice notes below.
NOTE: Quantities below are for one loaf or half the recipe.

FLOUR

When I first made this bread, I sensed the dough was a bit stiff,  my first instinct was to add more water, but since this was the first time I had made this bread I decided to follow the recipe exactly. "Three cups of flour" turns out not to be so exact. In Cool Tools I wrote about the benefits of weighing flour.  In The Bread Bible, Ms Beranbaum provides detailed measurement conversions for flour. Her chart notes:


1 cup whole wheat flour (dip and sweep) weighs 5 ounces
1 cup whole wheat flour, finely milled, (lightly spooned) weighs 5ounces
1 cup whole wheat flour, finely milled, (dip and sweep) weighs 5.3 ounces (1)

For her recipes, Ms Beranbaum defines flour volume as "measured by dipping cup used for measuring solids into the flour bin and sweeping off the excess with a metal spatula or knife" (2)

Mr. Clayton writes, "The amount of flour given is only approximate because flour varies greatly in its ability to absorb moisture due from differences from harvest to harvest, sack to sack, as well as month to month as the humidity changes and the flour absorbs or releases moisture.... In the latter stages of mixing dough, add flour sparingly.  It is better to slowly add the last bit of flour to be certain the texture of the dough is just right rather than to overwhelm the dough with flour.  If you do go beyond the point where the dough is soft and elastic, it becomes hard, add water.  The dough will accept it though reluctantly." (3)

For this first loaf (top photo, bottom left loaf), I used the dip and sweep method (which one of the crew members told me Moosilauke uses) or 15.9 ounces of 365 Organic Whole Wheat Flour. The bread was denser and had much less volume than the bread I remembered from Moosilauke.  I tried a few other loaves using less flour (one shown in top photo, top left loaf); the bread was lighter but the top concave.

Finally I got some King Arthur whole wheat flour, the flour the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge purportedly uses, and started again.  I used the dip and sweep method  and found the flour weighed 15.3 ounces. Since King Arthur lists the flour as weighing 34 grams per one-quarter cup or 14.4 ounces/3 cups, I then removed enough flour so the remaining flour weighed 14.4 ounces (photo second from top).  I added water to the lesser amount of flour (mixed with sugar, salt and yeast).  The dough seemed much too sticky so I continued to add flour until I had used all 15.3 ounces.   Writing about "too-soft dough" Mr. Clayton states "The combination of flour and kneading will give the dough sufficient body to stand alone on the baking sheet. Test it by slapping your open hand against the ball of dough. Leave it there for the count of ten.  If your hand comes away clean you have enough flour." (4)  Since this is a batter in a pan bread, not a kneaded stand-alone loaf, I used a batter that still had a bit of stickiness to it - small pieces would attach to my hand but the batter was not overly sticky.



Note photos of the bread after it has risen. Higher ratio of water ( photo top left) resulted in small bubbles (and concave top after cooking), while less water (photo middle left - first "successful loaf") resulted in a smoother finish (and convex top after cooking). The first loaf (photos below) which also had fewer bubbles did not rise as much/double in size. Turns out I was probably pretty close to the right flour:water ratio the first try.  Maybe the room was too cold for the bread to rise properly, maybe the convection oven.... the loaf (lower right photo) was dense and low volume, but it had a convex top.




YEAST

Active dry and instant dry yeast are the two best yeast options for breads on this blog to date. In On Food And Cooking, Harold McGee differentiates between these two forms:

"Active dry yeast, which was introduced in the 1920s, has been removed from the fermentation tank and dried into granules with a protective coating of yeast debris.  The yeast cells are dormant and can be stored at room temperature for months.  The cook reactivates them by soaking them in warm water 105 - 110 degrees F/41 - 43 degrees C ["proofing"] before mixing the dough. At cooler soaking temperatures, the yeast cells recover poorly and release substances that interfere with the gluten formation (glutathione)" [At higher temperature the yeasties die].

"Instant dry yeast, an innovation of the 1970s, is dried more quickly than active dry yeast, and in the form of small porous rods that take up water more rapidly than granules. Instant yeast doesn't need to be prehydrated before mixing with other dough ingredients, and produces carbon dioxide more vigorously than active dry yeast." (5)

Making this bread I used Fleishmann's Active Dry Yeast.  Per the recipe, I did not proof the yeast but added it to the dry ingredients as I do in making  No-Knead Bread.  But in No-Knead bread I use Rapid Rise/(instant) yeast which does not call for proofing. Both Ms Beranbaum in The Bread Bible, and Mr. Clayton in Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads state their preference, except when a sour flavor is desired, for instant/quick rising yeast.  Ms Beranbaum does add "Active dry yeast, with its higher amount of dead yeast cells, is favored by pizza dough makers because the dead yeast cells contain glutathoine, which relaxes the gluten bonds, adding further extensibility - making it easier to stretch out the dough.  Dead yeast cells add a desirable flavor as well." (6)

In his book, republished in 1987, Mr Clayton writes "Because the new fast-rising yeast cannot be found everywhere in the United states, recipes in this book [including the Whole Wheat Batter Bread] have been developed for the conventional dry yeast with the liquid between 120 and 130 degrees [when mixing dry active yeast to proof, the liquid should be 105 - 110 degrees F]. In almost all of the recipes the yeast is mixed with the flour before the liquid is added.... if the bread is prepared with a new fast-rising yeast and at the recommended higher temperatures, the rising time should be reduced by half." (7)

Unlike Mr. Clayton who holds the quantity of yeast constant and reduces rising time, Ms. Beranbaum states "sometimes you will see it [instant yeast] called 'rapid-rise.' I see this as a misnomer, because used in correct portion, it does not speed the fermentation of the dough (which would be undesirable for full flavor development).  Because of the manufacturing process, there are fewer dead yeast cells in instant yeasts than in active dry yeast.  This special process also enables the yeast to 'wake up' more quickly and makes it possible to use less yeast." (8) The No-Knead Bread which has an incredibly long (18 -24 hour) rising period offers an option of more yeast, less  time.  Since the Whole Wheat Batter Bread only requires 30 minutes of rising time it makes more sense to reduce the amount of yeast (.67 times the weight of active dry yeast).

CONVECTION OVENS - STEAM

After making several loaves of this bread, I found the texture improved but I could not produce a loaf with a convex top.  When I cooked the bread, the loaf collapsed resulting in a concave top.  Back to the books. Ms. Beranbaum writes, "Volume is determined by oven spring, which takes place during the first third of the baking cycle, when the rate of fermentation rapidly increases, until the heat kills the yeast.... The goal is to delay the formation of the crust until the gases have accomplished their work so the dough can expand to its full capacity. One way to achieve this is by steaming the oven." She also advises not to use a convection oven, at least for the beginning cycle of baking as it will blow out the moisture." (9) Whoops. I had been using a convection oven and not introducing any steam.  I switched to my regular oven, and using one on Ms. Beranbaum's suggested methods added ~6 ice cubes to a preheated pan when I placed the bread in the oven.  Still a convex top with the higher water content, but using the dip and sweep (15.3 ounces of flour per loaf) I finally got results that were comparable with the Moosilauke bread (top photo, right loaf)!  In retrospect the "steaming" may be unnecessary - stay tuned.

1  The Bread Bible, page 570
2  The Bread Bible, page 42 - Note, it is important to know method for dry measure when converting to weight!
3  New Complete Book of Breads , page 30
4  New Complete Book of Breads, page 709
5  The Bread Bible, page 532 - 533
6  The Bread Bible, page 561 - 562
7  The Bread Bible,  page 33
8  The Bread Bible,  page 561
9  The Bread Bible, page 84 -85

Reviewed 5/8/17



Monday, November 12, 2012

Pomegranate Seeds

I never thought I would quote Martha Stewart. However, I was doing errands Saturday and listening to Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!  Ms. Stewart was a guest and as part of her introductory banter she discussed how to de-seed a pomegranate. Since pomegranate seeds are one of my fall favorites, and since I already had 2 among the groceries in my car, I paid attention.

Cut a small sliver off the top of the pomegranate. Then score the pomegranate skin,  first in half and then in quarters; don't cut deep enough to cut the seeds.  Then break the pomegranate into quarters. Hold a pomegranate quarter, seed side down, over a bowl (I put the bowl in the sink to help contain the pomegranate juice which stains anything it touches) and tap vigorously on the skin with a wooden spoon.  While Ms. Stewart removes all the seeds in this manner, I helped some of them along with my fingers.  This method is very quick and does not damage the seeds. Store the seeds in a covered dish in the refrigerator.

Though we had beautiful pomegranate trees (top photo) outside our room at Las Chimeneas, I do not recall being served any. Must have been our timing. Pomegranates are found in traditional Moorish recipes as well as in Samuel and Samantha Clark's Moro cookbooks both of which inspired the cuisine of Las Chimeneas.  On my list of "to trys" is a Moro recipe for Bulgar, Celery and Pomegranate Salad. Meanwhile, I use the pomegranate seeds on Bitter Greens with Maple Mustard Dressing or with a little bit of aged balsamic vinegar on top of mixed greens.

Another favorite. Pomegranate seeds along with orange fused olive oil and  fresh rosemary make an elegant topping for topping for non-fat chocolate frozen yogurt/chocolate ice cream.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Beet Greens

Beet greens go back to my childhood. simply steamed and topped with vinegar and sometimes butter. Traditionally they are a spring crop, the by-product of thinning the beet field.  However, I have recently found beet greens along with pea tendrils available locally in the fall as well; a crop in themselves.

I got a huge bag of beet greens last week and decided to try cooking half (~ 7 ounces) as I frequently cook spinach. In a small wok sautee:

2 t olive oil (heat first)
2 cloves garlic, minced

until the garlic is lightly browned, then add

7-8 ounces beet greens, still damp from washing.

Sautee, stirring constantly until the greens are wilted.

The greens were tasty but I still think I like them steamed until they are wilted and then tossed with vinegar (I use my homemade tarragon vinegar) to taste.

I recently served the steamed version and Pork with Plums, and found this to be a particularly good pairing.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Cranberry-Orange Oatmeal Cookies

We hosted a neighborhood open house this weekend and my invite read "seasonal beverages and munchies".  But what seasonal munchies to serve?  Hummus would go well with fall carrots, radishes, broccoli  and all of the various colors of cauliflower now in the farm markets; Pumpkin Pie Muffins (mini) and Fiery Pumpkin Seeds also made the list. But cookies.... Browsing through Sarah Leah Chase's Cold-Weather Cooking  I found an interesting recipe for Cranberry-Oatmeal Cookies (page 111) but was put off by the amount of butter (1 1/2 cups/3 sticks to make 24 cookies). Taking the idea, I decided to modify my old standby recipe for Oatmeal Cookies and was pleased with the result.  While normally I would just add a "variation" to the original recipe, I decided this is such a great option for a more healthy holiday cookie, I would give it its own post. If you want a truly awesome (holiday splurge) cookie, go for the Awesome Oatmeal Cookies with the cranberry (rather than raisin) option.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Beat together until creamy (I use food processor fitted with steel blade):

¾ c canola oil (or 1/2 c olive oil + 1/4 c orange juice)
1 c firmly packed brown sugar
½ c granulated sugar
1 egg (I usually use 1/4 c "egg product")
¼ c orange juice
Zest of one orange (optional)
1 t vanilla

Then add:

3 c oats, uncooked (traditional, not quick-cook)
1 c flour
½ t soda

Pulse mixer just to blend oats with other ingredients; don't pulverize the oats! Mix in by hand not with food processor:

2 c (8oz) cranberries, coarsley chopped
1/3 c nuts (I use walnuts/pecans), coarsley chopped

Drop by rounded teaspoon onto greased or non-stick cookie sheet. Bake ~15 minutes.

Cool on wire rack.

Reviewed 5/14/17


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Inspired by Pizza

While I'm not crazy about traditional tomato and cheese pizza, I love more inventive pizza with thin crust.  Locally my two favorite pizza restaurants are Emma's in Cambridge (now closed, Boston location still open)  and Za, originally in Arlington and now also in Cambridge.  While I'd score Emma's higher on actual execution, I'd give Za extra points for tailoring their toppings to available local ingredients.  These seasonal offerings comprise the "chalk board specials" and are the inspiration for the following pasta recipes.

PASTA WITH SWEET POTATOES/PEACHES....

Last Sunday Ed and I went to Za's and shared "Kimball Farm's Peach, Caramelized Onion, Smoked Goat Cheese, Pickled Cherry Pepper and Basil" pizza.  I knew I could not duplicate the crust but thought this combo might also work well with pasta.  Just missed the local peaches (Za's in Cambridge has already replaced the peaches with apples) so I decided to use sweet potatoes instead.   While the sweet potatoes should be sauteed, the peaches should be added raw, just before serving.

Saute (heat olive oil first):

1 T extra virgin olive oil
2 oz onion, thinly sliced and halved
2 oz cherry peppers, thinly sliced and halved
1 medium sweet potato, about 6 oz, narrow diameter best, thinly sliced and halved

When potatoes start to soften add:

2 t dark brown sugar

Mix well and continue cooking until potatoes are just barely soft then add:

1 handful basil, coarsely chopped (or sage is a good alternative with sweet potatoes)

Stir until mixed then remove from heat.

While veggies are cooking cook two servings of pasta according to package directions.  I had some  Castellana Trecce di Giulietta (the braids of Juliet), a summer gift, and used 1 cup (dry);  it was excellent. Penne or other shaped past would also be good.

Drain pasta, toss with veggie/fruit mixture and divide between two bowls. Top with

Crumbled goat cheese  


PEACH VARIATION:

Omit sweet potato and follow above directions cooking until onion and peppers are barely soft, with the basil add:

1 large peach, thinly sliced and halved

Stir until mixed and continue following instructions above.


PASTA WITH FIGS, CARAMELIZED ONIONS AND GOAT CHEESE/GORGONZOLA

Another pizza we have recently enjoyed at Za's is "Black Mission Fig, Caramelized Onion, Gorgonzola, Fresh Garlic, EVOO, Truffle Oil and Parsley". Again, I tried a pasta variation modified according to ingredients on hand, substituting goat cheese for Gorgonzola and fresh rosemary for parsley.



Saute (heat olive oil first):

2 t extra virgin olive oil
2 t white truffel oil (or additional olive oil)
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz onion, thinly sliced and halved

When onions  start to soften add:

2 t dark brown sugar

Mix well then add:

~8 (6 oz) figs, quartered
2 t fresh rosemary leaves

Stir until mixed then remove from heat.

While veggies are cooking cook two servings of pasta according to package directions.  Shaped pasta works particularly well. Drain pasta, toss with veggie/fruit mixture and divide between two bowls. Top with

Crumbled goat cheese (or Gorgonzola)


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Watermelon Radish


Still more new veggies to try - I found these at the farm stand this week. I'd never noticed Watermelon Radishes before so went on line to see if they are really new.  Apparently not, but maybe one of the vegetables from another culture's cuisine that is gaining traction in this country. The Organic Authority offers a good description of the Watermelon Radish:
"The Watermelon Radish - so unassuming from the outside, resembling a parsnip - but slice it open to find a brilliant fuschia core that resembles that of, well, a watermelon. Also sometimes referred to as a Beauty Heart, Rose Heart, Shinrimei, Misato, Asian Red Meat or Xin Li Mei radish, the Watermelon Radish is an heirloom variety of the Chinese daikon. Compared to other radishes, expect these brilliant babies to be a bit milder and sweeter than regular, and much larger, averaging about three inches in diameter. Generally, their flesh is hotter toward the outside and sweeter toward the center, and they lose pungency as they mature (unlike most radishes). Crunchy and sweet, with just a hint of spice and a flavor,  this radish is reminiscent of jicama. But most of all - it's simply gorgeous!"

The watermelon radish almost justifies owning a mandolin.  Sliced very thin it would make an incredible garnish.  I used some slices to garnish a Carrot Cashew Salad.  Tasty, but not as visually appealing as they would have been thinly sliced. 



Saturday, July 28, 2012

Wild Mint

The brook by our house is full of fresh mint and Chris has been wading out on the dam and picking me large bunches.  I've been using the mint in many summer dishes, as a garnish for ice tea and gin and tonic, and as a centerpiece.  As some of the mint grows roots I transplant it to my garden.





I love mint paired with fresh tomatoes and goat cheese, whether in an omelette or on a pizza (or just toasted on pita bread).  Other favorite mint recipes include:

Tabouli
Easy Asparagus Pho
Fresh Spring Rolls with Tofu and Mint
Watermelon Salad
Tandoori Sweet Potatoes and Rice



It has been fun to watch the mint, at first limp from the extremely hot dry weather we have been having, drink up the water from the vase and lift itself skyward. The mint in top two photos is the same bunch; first photo taken the afternoon the mint was picked, the next photo taken the following morning. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Pork with Plums

Serves 3

It's midsummer and it was pointed out at dinner last night that we had been having many of the same, albeit seasonal, things over and over again.  Time to try something new.  Browsing through the August issue of Bon Appetit I came across "Pork Tenderloin with Plum Chutney".  This is a very loose adaption which blanches the plums, and uses less dark brown sugar instead of more light brown sugar, red wine vinegar instead of Sherry or apple cider vinegar, grainy mustard instead of mustard seed, no bay leaf or Kosher salt and boneless pork chops instead of pork tenderloin wrapped in pancetta. My critical eaters said it was a good change :-)


In a sauce pan half full of boiling water place:

2 large plums

Boil for 1 - 2 minutes until the skins on the plums begin to split.  Remove the plums from the boiling water, rinse in cold water and pull off the skin. Slice plums and remove pit.  Then cut slices into smaller chunks.

In a small skillet combine:

1 1/2 t olive oil (heat oil first)
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 1/2 t garlic, minced

When the shallots are soft add:

1 T red wine vinegar
2 T dark brown sugar
1 1/2 t grainy mustard
1 t ginger, grated and peeled
2 T water

Cook for about 2 minutes until the sauce is well blended, then add the plum chunks.  Cover and simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally for 8 - 10 miuntes.  Uncover and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until the fruit is soft and the juices have thickened, about 20 minutes. Sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated.  Rewarm slightly before serving.

When sauce is ready or almost ready, sprinkle

3 boneless pork chops, about 1/3 pound each with:

Herbes de Provence
Rosemary, fresh if available otherwise dried

Place the chops on a medium hot grill and cook turning until firm to the touch (145 - 150 degrees F). Center will be slightly pink but moist.  Remember meat keeps cooking after it is removed from the heat source and at 160 degrees F pork will be well done and dry.

Divide the sauce among the three chops and garnish with fresh rosemary.

SEE ALSO:  Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Fruit