Saturday, July 25, 2015

Wineberries

Time to check out the  woods!  For a number of years, (2009 berries at left, 2015 berries below), I have picked a sticky red raspeberry-like berry from the brambles on the west side of our house. Today after picking another heaping quart, I finally decided it would be a good idea to positively identify these wild things. Thank you Wikipedia:

Wineberry "is a perennial plant which bears biennial stems ("canes") from the perennial root system. In its first year, a new stem ("primocane") grows vigorously to its full height of 1-3 m, unbranched, and bearing large pinnateleaves with three or five leaflets; normally it does not produce any flowers. In its second year, the stem ("florocane") does not grow taller, but produces several side shoots, which bear smaller leaves always with three leaflets; the leaves are white underneath.
The flowers are produced in late spring on short, very bristly racemes on the tips of these side shoots, each flower 6–10 mm diameter with five purplish red to pink petals and a bristly calyx. The fruit is orange or red, about 1 cm diameter, edible ...it is not a berry at all, but an aggregate fruit of numerous drupelets around a central core. Ripening occurs from early summer.[3][4] .

The canes have red glandular hairs. These red hairs give the species its scientific name from the Latin phoenicus meaning red .In addition to seed propagation, new plants are formed from the tips of existing canes touching the ground. They enjoy moist soil and grow near and within wooded areas.
As a fruit develops, it is surrounded by a protective calyx covered in hairs that exude tiny drops of sticky fluid...[7]"*
Biennial stems,  tips of the canes rooting in the ground, the protective calayx, the red sticky berries,  this plant, which is now boardering on invasive on our property, meets all the criteria of wineberry.  

Over time many of the canes in our woods have died and turned brown. This spring  I  pruned the thicket and got rid of dead cane. This made the picking easier and, I think, the berries more abundant.  

We will enjoy these wineberries, mixed with a few wild blueberries (more favored by the birds so less abundant) and wild blackberrries also found on the same wooded slope. Wineberries are also good as a topping for local peaches which are now in season too.


* Quoted text Wikipedia; all photos Cook's Cache.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Pork Tenderloin with Glazed Oranges

This is a Father's Day post in honor of Dan, Henry's Dad, who first made this for me.  The book from which this recipe comes, Vij's at Home, was a gift from Alex and Dan,  written by the owner of one of their favorite Indian restaurants.  When Dan made this I prepped for him and was amazed at the quantity of cayenne peper in the marinade.  The resulting pork (served without oranges) was delicious.  The first time I made this, however, it was a disaster.  I scaled the marinade ingredients to my 1 pound piece of pork tenderloin and made a full recipe of the orange glaze. I'm not sure what happened, maybe my cayenne pepper was much hottter than Dan's. Hot for me and too hot for Chris and Ed. I liked the concept though; the oranges, pimenton and pepper reminded me of one of my favorite recipes, Spicy Orange Shrimp. So I tried again, using chili powder instead of cayenne pepper.  (Vij uses 1 T each of cayenne peper and paprika for a 2 1/2 pound tenderloin, and 1 T salt which I omit).  Also, while Vig cuts the 2 1/2  pounds of pork into 24 pieces, Dan and I roast/grill the tenderloin whole and then slice.

The orange glaze is the full recipe (for 2 1/2 pounds of pork).  I have yet to make the full meal suggested in this cookbook: tenderloin and oranges served over spinach and split pea mash, topped with cumin curry and garnished with pistachios and dates, but it is on my to do list....

Make the marinade for a 1 pound pork tenderloin by mixing together:

3 T olive oil
1 1/2 t paprika or pimenton
1 1/2 t chili powder
1 1/2 t garlic, finely chopped

Put the meat in the marinade and coat all sides. marinate for at least 3 hours, turning several times.

Make the orange glaze: in a medium sauce pan

1T butter (I've done substituing olive oil but not as good)
5 whole cloves
1/4  t chili powder (Vig uses cayenne pepper)
3 T brown sugar  (Vig also suggests demerara or honey)
1/ 2c orange juice (Vig uses mango juice)

Over medium heat, bring to a slight boil while stirring.

Add

1 large organic naval orange, unpeeled sliced in 1/4 inch rounds

Bring to a light boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Meanwhile grill pork to internal temperature of 150 degrees F.

Slice and top meat with oranges, either whole or, my preference, cut in quarters.


Mother's Day Spider Plants

While this blog is about food, it's roots are in family recipes and family holiday traditions, again mostly food but occasionally plants make it into the mix.  Mother's Day is more about plants than food. The earliest Mother's Day plant I can remember is a tiny spider plant that Alexandra brought home from Mrs. (Lee) Brown's nursery school class.  Three years later Christopher, then in Mrs. Brown's class, brough me a similar plant in a similar small paper cup.  Somewhere in between came the Viburnum Tree (orchestrated by Ed) that we all planted together and still blooms in our yard each spring.

While these plants share the longevity prize, the spider plants are hands down winners of the profileration prize.  After having had many more, I'm down to three large spider plants in Lincoln and Chris has a similar number in Somerville by way of Brooklyn.  We still have one big spider plant in Colorado and there are a couple in New Hampshire.




This year I took  a tiny offshoot to Oregon. Henry, who I think is destined to be a gardner or at least a mulch spreader, had fun planting it as a Mother's Day gift for Alex.  We are now in the real second generation of spider plants!





Monday, April 27, 2015

Freezing Mint/Mint Gremolata

In July 2012 I wrote about the abundance of Wild Mint I find near our home in Massachusetts.  Last October when we were in Colorado the garden was overflowing with mint which I knew the immenent frosts would kill.  Knowing we enjoy local lamb in the winter and mint would be a great accompaniment, I decided to try to freeze (in a controlled fashion) some of this mint.  I picked a huge bunch, removed the leaves from the stems, chopped the leaves, placed them in a container and then put the covered container in the freezer.  Actually, I froze several batches.

This mint has been delicious on lamb (gremolata recipe follows) and also in Fresh Green Pea Soup.  I'm really suprised how much I used this winter, and I haven't even tried this frozen mint in Wild Mint recipes.
GREMOLATA

Combine:

2 cloves garlic, finely minced
Zest from 1 lemon
2 T frozen chopped mint (or fresh mint in season!)
2 t olive oil (1 t if  using fresh mint)


This is an excellent garnish for lamb.

Pastuerized Eggs/Egg Whites

Going back to "old family recipes" is not without suprises. Several things I enjoyed growing up contained raw eggs.  Last week, in anticipation of making dinner for my Mom, I tried one of her favorite recipes, Snow Pudding. Warning, if an old family recipe does not have an accompanying photo, it may not be fully vetted.  I got as far as whipping the eggs when I realized something was wrong, was I  really going to feed my Mom raw eggs?  Granted while the chance of ingesting samonella from the raw eggs of conventional battery-caged chickens is quite high, the chance of ingesting samonella from the raw eggs of organic free range chickens is very low/negligible.  I really wasn't worried about the eggs I had just gotten from our neighbor. Even so, I decided to be ultra cautious especially since salmonella is particularly dangerous to the very young, very old and people with weakened immune systems.

Next question was do pastuerized egg whites whip well?  Harold McGee writes in On Food and Cooking, Three safer alternatives to fresh eggs are eggs pasteurized in the shell, liquid eggs and dried egg whites, all of which are available in supermarkets.....For most uses, these products do an adequate job of replacing fresh eggs, though there is usually some loss in foaming or emulsifying power and in stability to further heating; and heating and drying do alter the mild egg flavor."1  Comments on the internet suggest these products usually do whip well but take longer to do so and sometimes require the addition of cream of tatar.  A stand mixer whipped the liquid egg whites I had purchased to stiff peaks in 3-4 minutes and the egg whites held firm as I beat in the additional ingredients required for Snow Pudding. I did add 1/4 t cream of tartar for 2/3 c of egg whites (the equivalent of 4 eggs), but I'm not sure this was entirely necessary given the brand of eggs and type of mixer I used.

1. Page 83, 2004 edition.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Henry Bear Bread


For Henry who is celebrating his First Birthday today!

In 1988 this was called Teddy Bear Bread and made at Christmas time by Alexandra, then nine, and Christopher, almost six, for themselves and for a few special friends. Since Henry loves bread and is used to only the best, this recipe may need some tweaking. I look forward to making the Henry Bear version, most likely using a whole wheat dough, with Henry during a future visit :-)

Meanwhile the original Teddy Bear Bread recipe:
(Makes two bears)

Over medium heat, heat until bubbles form around the edge of the pan:

1/2 c milk

Then stir in:

3 T sugar
2 t salt
3 T butter

Cool to lukewarm.

Dissolve

1 envelope active dry yeast in 1 1/2 c lukewarm water
(Check to be sure the water temperature is within the range given on the yeast package - too hot and the yeasties die, too cold and the bread won't rise).

Pour into a large mixing bowl.

Add the milk mixture and

3 c flour.

Beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Then stir in

3 1/2 to 4 c more flour, or enough to make a stiff dough.

Knead the dough on a floured board for 8-10 minutes. Then place the dough in bowl greased with butter. Cover with a dishtowel. Let rise for one hour. Punch down.

Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Set two pieces aside, these will form the bodies of the bears. Divide the third piece in half, these will form their heads. Shape the fourth piece into a long roll and cut into fourteen pieces, these will form the 8 paws, 4 ears and 2 noses of the two bears. Shape all of the pieces of dough into balls. Place the large balls on buttered baking sheets.  Place the medium balls above the large balls for the bear heads. Flatten these four balls slightly. Attach balls for paws, noses and ears.

Cover with a dishtowel and let rise for about one hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Make indentations for eyes, noses and belly buttons with the end of toothpick or a small skewer. Place raisins in these indentations.  Use a small spoon to make indentations in the ears.

Make an egg glaze by lightly beating:

1 egg
1 T cold water

Brush the egg glaze on the bears.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool on racks.

Tie red yarn or ribbion in a bow around each bear's neck :-)

Happy Birthday Henry!






Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Fresh Pea Soup with Coconut and Basil


How did this happen, in the middle of winter, I decide to make Fresh Pea Soup? And, after a recent dinner of Green Curry left me with an ample supply of Thai basil and kaffir lime leaves, I decided to give this soup a coconut base and add some of the Thai goodies. I really liked the result, Ed voted for the less complex Fresh Pea. This soup would also be good cold..  But now as the snow is approaching two feet and still falling, I have decided it's time to make a big pot of old fashion Pea Soup.  Will definately return to this recipe come warm weather!

Sautee in a large pot until onion is translucent:

1 T olive oil, heat first
1/2 large sweet onion, peeled and chopped
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 T ginger, peeled and chopped

Add and bring to a boil:

3 c water
14 oz (1 can) coconut milk (I use reduced fat)
1 c chopped Thai basil, coarsley chopped
3 kaffir lime leaves (optional)

Add to boiling mixture

24 oz (2 bags) frozen shelled peas
2 T lime juice

Return to a boil and then trun off heat immediately.  Let sit a few minutes and then puree using an immersion blender (my choice) or a food processor.

Garnish with thinly sliced Thai basil and

Hot pepper, finely chopped (to taste, optional)

Good Day for Soup!

Kale Soup
Pea Soup
Onion Cider Soup
Corn and Green Chili Chowder

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Rugelach

We had a full house this past Christmas, and Chris, assumed the role of pastry chef; a much appreciated treat for me. In addition to making Cranberry Linzertorte and Perfect Apple Pie (recipe follows soon, I hope) for Christmas Eve, he brought us many loaves of fresh French bread from his bread machine and box after box of cookies. The cookies included a couple of batches of Chris's Brownies, Awesome Oatmeal Cookies, Peanut Butter Cookies and Rugelach. Traditional rugelach are formed by rolling crescent dough around a filling, this sliced roll alternative is adapted by Chris from Smitten Kitchen.

Since Chris tells me to write about my failures so others won't make the same mistake, I'm sure he would want me to note that his first batch of rugelach was a disaster (his call not mine, I did not see or taste a cookie).  On first read, the recipe sounded like cookie dough rather than pastry dough, he explained.  The result was a tough crust.  For the next batch he used cold butter and cold cream cheese and found the dough much more satisfactory.   Everyone really enjoyed this second (and third) batch!

Make the Dough

Using a food processor with steel blade, blend until light and fluffy:

8 ounces  cold (straight out of refrigerator!) cream cheese
1 c (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Add and beat until combined:

1/4 c granulated sugar

Scrape sides and bottom of bowl well to consolidate ingredients, then add and mix just until just combined:

2 c sifted unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 t coarse salt

Divide dough equally into two pieces, form into balls, flatten into thick rectangles,  wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  If you have two paper towel rolls, slit them in the long direction and save for later.

Make the Filling

Toss together in a medium sized bowl:

1/4 c plus 2 T sugar
1/4 c light-brown sugar, packed
1/2 t ground cinnamon
3/4 c raisins, finely chopped
1c toasted (optional), then finely chopped walnuts

Assemble the Rolls

On a lightly floured surface, roll out one piece of the dough. Rectangle should be about 12" wide by 1/8" thick.

Spread evenly over the dough:

~1/4 c raspberry preserves, heated and slightly cooled

and sprinkle with half the filling mixture. Beginning with one of the long sides, roll the dough into a tight log. Wrap in plastic wrap. Place the wrapped roll in the previous prepared paper towel roll (optional)   and give it a little roll to firm the shape of the pastry roll.

Place the completed roll on a baking sheet and repeat the process using an additional

~1/4 c raspberry preserves, heated and cooled slightly

Place the second pastry roll on the baking sheet along side the first, place baking sheet in the refrigerator and let chill for one hour or longer.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Make the Topping

Mix together:


1/2 c sugar
1 1/2 t ground cinnamon


Slice the chilled pastry rolls in discs about 1/4" thick. Using your fingers, dip each disc in the topping mixture then shake off any excess topping. At this phase if you didn't roll and cut them perfectly, there's a bit of squishing them together.  Place cookies about an inch apart on the prepared sheets

Bake 15 - 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove the cookies from the oven and  using a fork or fingers (careful, don't burn!) tuck in any ends of dough that might have pulled away.  Let the cookes rest on the baking sheet for two minutes to set. Meanwhile spray or wipe a cooling rack with olive or canola oil.  This will help keep the preserves from sticking. Transfer cookies to rack(s) and let cool completely.

Once cool, cookies can be stored in an airtight container.  If making more than one level of cookies, separate each level with a layer of wax paper.

Variations:

Instead of raisins use another dried fruit of your choice, finely chopped.

Instead of walnuts, use another nut of your choice, finely chopped.

Instead of raspberry preserves, use apricot preserves or use raspberry preserves on one roll and apricot  preserves on the other.



All photos this post:
© 2014 Christopher Kern

Spaghetti-Spinach-Cashew Cream Bake

Usually I would post this recipe as a "Variation" to Spaghetti-Ricotta Bake, but since that recipe was posted 7 years ago, I decided to give this a separate post.

The last time Chris came to dinner, at my request for ideas, he suggested Spaghetti-Ricotta Bake. Thinking of all the cholesterol Ed had consumed lately, I asked Chris how he felt about a cashew cream filling instead of ricotta. He said sure, and I substituted Vegan Cream Sauce for the ricotta. All three of us liked the results but agreed it was hard to choose the "cashew" version over the ricotta version and visa versa; they are both good in their own way. While the ricotta version has 183 mg of cholesterol (whole recipe), the cashew cream has no cholesterol and about half the saturated fat.  However, the ricotta verson has about half the calories as the cashew cream version.  Calories, of course, could be reduced by using less of the cashew cream.

Make the Filling 

Make 1 recipe Vegan Cream Sauce
When chopping the cashews, chop a few tabelspoons extra and set aside.

Sautee, until spinach is just barely wilted:

1 T olive oil
4 c (5 oz) fresh baby spinach

Cook Spaghetti and Assemble the Dish

Cook:

1 pound linguine or spaghetti (I use whole wheat)

until just barely al dente (see package for time and cook about one minute less than minimum).

While pasta is cooking, combine in a large bowl:

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 T olive oil
1 T Italian herbs

When pasta is cooked, drain well and toss with oil and garlic mixture. Lightly brush the bottom of a 9” x 9” (or equivalent area) baking dish with olive oil .  Put about 2/3 of the seasoned pasta in the baking dish and level the pasta. Spread:

1 recipe (or less) of Vegan Cream Sauce over the spaghetti, sprinkle with

Ground nutmeg

then top with

spinach mixture

(A package of frozen chopped spinach may be used instead.  When using frozen spinach, thaw completely and  remove as much moisture as possible; a good way to do this is to actually wring the spinach in your (clean) hand.)

Spread remaining pasta mix evenly over the ricotta/spinach.

For a vegan dish, spray the top of the pasta with a light coating of olive oil and then sprinkle the reserved chopped cashews evenly over the surface.

If vegan or zero cholesterol is not a goal, an alternative is to top with

Parmesan cheese, grated  (photo left)

and the reserved chopped cashews (optional - photo at top)

Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes or until top is browned and crispy.



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