Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Rioja Beef

After taking many, many months off of entertaining friends at our house, I think I am ready to start again. A cookbook I got for Christmas from brother is going to help that a lot! Perfect One-Dish Dinners is full of manageable dinners to make with optional menu pairings and wine suggestions. My favorite thing about it so far though, is that it takes one dish to prepare the food in and the two recipes I've tried were almost completely hands-off the last 45 minutes of cooking, allowing me to visit with my friends. Fabulous.

The first recipe I tried, just for our family, because I am never quite sure whether or not to trust new cookbooks/cookbook authors, was Rioja Beef. One things I will say about this cookbook, it is very meat heavy. It doesn't have a lot of recipes laden with the produce I find in my CSA book. This recipe was feasible for a weeknight meal because of the 1/4 cow that is languishing in my freezer.

This will serve 6 - 8 people.

Rioja Beef
from Perfect One-Dish Dinners by Pam Anderson

3 lbs boneless beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2 - 2" cubes and patted dry
3 T olive oil
1 large yellow bell pepper, cut into 6 pieces
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 6 pieces
1 large onion, chopped
3 lg garlic cloves, minced
2 T sweet paprika
1 T ground cumin
1/4 t saffron threads
3 T flour
1 c chicken broth
1/2 - 1 c dry red wine (rioja, if possible)
1 can (14.5 oz) crushed tomatoes
2 cans (15 oz each) chickpeas, drained
1 1/2 t grade orange zest and juice from 1 large onion

Heat a heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 1 T oil to the pot and heat. Add the meat and sear, turning once, until 2 sides are darkly browned. Repeat until all the meat is browned. Transfer to bowl and set aside. Add 1 T oil to the hot pot. Add the onion, and cook, stirring, until softened 4 - 5 minutes. Add garlic, paprika, cumin, and saffron. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about a minute. Whisk in the flour, then broth, wine, and tomatoes, seasoning with salt and pepper. Return beef and any accumulated juices to the pot. Carefully place a sheet of heavy duty foil over the pot, pressing the foil down so that it touches the stew. Seal foil completely around the edges. Set pot in oven and cook for 1 1/2 hours.

While beef is in oven, add 1 T oil to a frying pan and heat over medium-high heat until oil starts to smoke (just wisps). Add the peppers and cook, stirring until peppers are lightly browned and crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Set aside. (You can also do this in before browning the meat in the same pot you brown the meat in).

Remove pot from oven and set over low heat. Carefully remove foil. Stir in peppers, chickpeas, orange zest and juice, and a little water, if necessary, to make a gravy. Carefully re-cover the pot and simmer to blend flavors, about 5 minutes. Serve.

We loved this recipe. I really can't say much more about it than that. I made a couple of changes to the recipe, utilizing a second pan, but it made the flow seem better.

This recipe will serve 6- 8 people.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


New flash: There is still time to make these!! Do it now, find some very dear friends to share them with, and enjoy with a hot cup of coffee/tea/cocoa sitting around the fireplace Christmas eve (or in my case, frantically finishing wrapping my presents Christmas Eve after the church service). Either way, make these. Soon.

Granted, these won't be the most beautiful, elegant cookie you serve. In fact, they look rather sloppy and at times, ugly. That doesn't matter. Sometimes, beauty is more than skin deep and appearances don't matter.

One of my favorite things about this recipe is that the name sounds like arugula, with the "ah" sound at the beginning. Thus, if tell someone that you are going to eat only rugelach for supper tonight, they'll be impressed with your desire to eat a salad for supper. You will want to eat just these for supper. Curtis has named these his favorite dessert that I make (his apple pie is his favorite dessert ever). For the record though, he has deemed several desserts as his favorite dessert.

This will make 32 cookies. If I know I am sharing these with anyone outside my family, I make a double batch, otherwise, Curtis starts to whine. When you make these, allow yourself time to let the dough refrigerate for 2 hours (or freeze it until you are ready to make it if it is going to be days or weeks).

adapted slightly from Baking: From my Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

4 oz cold cream cheese, cut into 4 pieces
1/2 c cold butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 c flour
1/4 t salt

2/3 c raspberry jam (you want this to be a rather thick kind)
2 T sugar
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 c pecans, chopped
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (2/3 c mini-chocolate chips)

1 large egg
1 t cold water
2 T sugar (preferably turninado or coarse decorating sugar

To make the dough: Let the cream cheese and butter rest on the counter for 10 minutes so they are still cool, but a little softened. Put flour and salt in a food processor and pulse briefly to blend. Scatter the cream cheese and butter over top. Pulse the machine 6 - 10 times. Then process, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until the dough forms large curds (you don't want it to become a ball on the blade). Put the dough on a lightly floured work surface, gather it into a ball and divide it in half. Shape each half into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (you can also put the disks in the freezer and save it to finish much later).

To finish rugelach: Mix together 2 T sugar and 1/2 t cinnamon. Set aside. Remove one disk of dough from the fridge/freezer (if it's been the freezer, let it warm up on the counter for a little while). Remove the dough from the plastic wrap and place between two sheets of parchment paper (this makes for much easier rolling--you can also just lightly flour a work surface, but I've had better results with parchment---unlike what is pictured). Do the following as quickly as possible so the dough doesn't get to warm. Roll the dough into a 11 - 12" circle. Put dough circle back in the refrigerator for a few minutes to make it easier to handle. Remove dough from fridge and brush or spoon a thin gloss of jam over the dough. Sprinkle half of the cinnamon sugar over top. Scatter half of the pecans and half of the chocolate over jam/cinnamon sugar.

Using a pizza cutter (that's right, friends! Multi-tasking kitchen tools!!), divide the circle into 16 wedges (in half and in half again and so on). Starting at at the fat end of each wedge, carefully roll up the dough (like a cinnamon roll, kind of). Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or silcone mats. Once the baking sheet is full, refrigerate for 30 minutes before baking.

To bake: Remove rugelach from the fridge. Combine egg and water in a small bowl. Brush each rugelach with egg and water. Sprinkle with a little sugar. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees oven from 20 - 25 minutes, rotating sheets from top to bottom at the midway point, until they are puffed and golden. Transfer to rack and let cool to just warm or room temperature (so jam/chocolate doesn't burn your mouth).

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Chocolate Babka

Drat. I gifted the outcome of this recipe before I had a chance to photograph it. Curtis was slightly dismayed by the destination of this bread. He had to help finish them (as in, brush with egg glaze, slash the top, and bake) and thought one surely should have been left at home for him. Sadly enough for him, they went as Christmas gifts--one to M's teacher and one to the family we carpool with. As I was wrapping them this morning, I got a little forlorn myself and have now added them to my Christmas morning breakfast menu.

Despite the name and the delicious outcome, if you are comfortable baking bread, you will not find this recipe very difficult. It takes a chunk of time to make, but the hands on time is very short---lots and lots of rising with a little bit of work thrown in here and there.

If you would like to see the recipe step by step with fabulous pictures click here to be taken to the King Arthur Flour Baking Blog (and in case you haven't found it yet, King Arthur Flour website is wonderful!! resource). The recipe has been adapted just slightly to include generic ingredients instead of those products that King Arthur hawks. You don't need to use the espresso powder if you don't have it. However, it makes the chocolate flavor slightly stronger. I have a jar I keep in my freezer and pull out periodically for recipes. Click here for suggestions for substitutions, if you want them.

There's is still time---make this recipe, gift one loaf and enjoy the other.

Chocolate Babka
adapted slightly from King Arthur Flour baking blog: Baking Banter

2 lg eggs
6 1/4 c all purpose flour
1/3 c dry milk powder
2 T instant yeast
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 c sugar
2 1/2 t salt
10 T butter, at room temperature
1 T vanilla
1 - 1 1/4 c water (depending on humidity and season of where you live. I use 1 1/4 c in the winter)

1/2 c sugar
1/2 t cinnamon
1/3 c cocoa
1/2 t espresso powder (also called instant espresso)
1/4 c melted butter
1 c chocolate chips
1 c chopped pecans (walnuts are fine too--I'm just a pecan type of girl)

Combine eggs, flour, dry milk, yeast, cinnamon, sugar, salt, butter, vanilla and water in a large bowl using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle (basic attachment) until just moistened. Cover with a towel and let the dough rest for 20 minutes, this will make the dough easier to knead. Put the dough hook on the mixer and knead for about 7 minutes (if you prefer, you can do all this by hand), until dough is smooth and soft. The dough will still be very sticky. Transfer to large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, 1 - 1 1/2 hours.

Turn the dough onto a lightly greased work surface (some surfaces are fine without grease--I didn't need to anything to my counters and it was fine). Divide the dough into two equal pieces, cover with a towel and let rest. While dough rests, combine the sugar, cinnamon, cocoa, and espresso powder in small bowl. Stir in the melted butter. The mixture will look very oily and rather stiff. Shape each half of the dough into 9 x 18" rectangle (the 18" is approximate, it doesn't need to be exact). Smear each piece of dough with half of the cocoa/butter mixture, coming within an inch of the edge. Sprinkle each half with 1/2 c pecans and 1/2 c chocolate chips. Starting at the short end, roll up the dough gently into a log. Seal the bottom seams and tuck the ends under. Place each log in a greased 9 x 5" loaf pan. Tent with plastic wrap and let rise until they've crowned an inch over the rim of the pan, 2 - 2 1/2 hours.

Just before baking, brush each loaf with an egg glaze (1 egg, beaten). If there are large air bubbles, pop them gently a toothpick. Taking a sharp knife, cut one long vertical slash through the middle of each loaf, cutting through at least 3 layers. This will let the loaf expand straight up instead of blowing out at the sides. Leave the beautiful domed bread just as it is--no cutting necessary.  (It comes out perfectly and presentable uncut).  Bake in an oven preheated to 300 for 35 minutes. After 35 minutes, tent the loaves lightly with foil and bake and additional 15 - 25 minutes (mine only took an extra 15 minutes). To check for doneness, use a meat thermometer to take the internal temp--it should be around 190 degrees. Remove the loaves from the oven, and let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and allow to cool completely.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Nutella Mini-Cupcakes

After my disastrous kohlrabi meal, I needed fast redemption. After the kids were in bed, we queued up How to Train a Dragon and I made Nutella Mini-Cupcakes for Curtis and I.

All was better in the world. These couldn't be easier and are great for an after-the-kids-are-in-bed-and-I-desperately-need-chocolate snack. If you are short on time, skip the hazelnuts on top.

This makes 12 itsy bitsy cupcakes which will serve 2 - 4, depending on how much self-restraint you have.

Nutella Mini-Cupcakes
from Fine Cooking Cookies Special Holiday Edition

1/2 c Nutella spread
1 large egg
5 T flour
1/4 c hazelnuts, roasted and chopped (optional)

In a medium bowl, whisk the Nutella and egg until smooth. Add the flour and stir until blended. Spoon batter into a 12-cup mini muffin pan lined with paper liners. Sprinkle with roasted, chopped hazelnuts if desired. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees oven for 11 - 12 minutes or until a pick comes out with wet, gooey crumbs (be careful not to overbake). Wait until they are cool enough to handle and enjoy!

Monday, December 13, 2010

German Style Stuffed Kohlrabi--Don't make this!!

Only on rare, rare occasions do I post about a meal I don't want to repeat. That is what today's post is about. The only reason I am posting is because it turns out that I have made this dish twice and it's been disastrous both times. Curtis made everyone peanut butter and jelly (or honey) sandwiches when I made this last week.

If some serious tweaking took, place I may attempt to make this again. I would make this more like stuffed peppers. After scooping out the insides of the kohlrabi (and possibly even before, to make scooping much easier), I would boil the kohlrabi in a pot of water until they were mostly tender. I would saute the (hamburger) meat with the onion, kohlrabi leaves, and other seasonings. After stuffing the kohlrabi, I would bake it at 350 until everything was hot.

I don't know exactly why we disliked this so much. I think it was a combination of the texture and the seasonings. Sauteing the meat is a good way to start fixing the texture thing.

Sorry. This is post is most obviously for me, to keep me from making the same recipe, exactly the same the third time around (next year when I have 8 kohlrabi in my fridge again).

German-Style Stuffed Kohlrabi, from Epicurious (click on title to see the disastrous recipe). The saddest part is, I even managed to take a bunch of pictures that I am not posting because I don't plan on making this meal ever again.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Char Siu Pulled Pork Bahn Mi

As you know by now (if you've been reading for a couple months), I am fascinated by Asian food this winter. Bahn Mi is my new favorite sandwich (so inexpensive at one of our favorite Vietnamese restaurant---seriously, McDonald's priced but so much tastier!!). I stumbled across this recipe on the blogosphere and decided it would make the perfect for serving my family the evening they got to Texas for Thanksgiving (which is my excuse for no pictures--being busy with my family and the craziness of having to feed and house 11 people for 3 days).

This wasn't quite the bahn mi (which is just a Vietnamese sandwich---meat with a cabbage slaw served on french bread/baguette) I had in mind, but it was pretty good. The original recipe had links to make your own char siu sauce (Chinese BBQ sauce) and nuoc mam cham (fish sauce), but I opted to buy both of those ingredients. Char siu sauce can be found at Asian markets. The nuoc mam, I picked up at a Vietnamese restaurant a couple of hours before super. Nuoc Mam is perishable, the char siu sauce, not so much if it isn't opened. The owners of the Vietnamese restaurant looked at me as if I were crazy, but obliged me anyway.

The hardest part about the recipe is procuring the ingredients. Once that is done, the slow cooker does most of the work for you.

This recipe will serve 4 - 6 people.
Char Siu Pulled Pork Bahn Mi
from the Ravenous Couple

Pulled Pork
3 lb pork shoulder (bone in)
kosher salt
black pepper
1 lg yellow onion, peeled and cut into 1/4" rings
1 (8.5-oz) jar char siu sauce

1/2 head green cabbage, thinly shredded
1/2 c red cabbage, thinly shredded
1/2 c cilantro, coarsely chopped
1/2 c mint, coarsely chopped
1/2 c fresh basil (thai basil is preferable), coarsely chopped
1/4 c nuoc mam cham

For the sandwiches:
additional nuoc mam cham

For the pulled pork: Put the sliced onions in slow cooler. Lightly rub pork with small amount of salt and pepper and put in slow cooker on top of onion bed. Brush on a generous layer of char siu sauce, turning pork to coat all sides evenly. Turn the slow cooker on low and leave on overnight (8 - 12 hours) or on high for 4 - 5 hours.

For the slaw: An hour before serving, combine cabbages, cilantro, mint, and basil and toss well. Season with nuoc mam cham to taste (we love nuoc mam cham so we used 1/4 cup). Stir and allow slow to marinate at least 30 minutes before serving (and up to a day before serving).

To assemble the sandwiches: Remove cooked pork from the crockpot. The pork should easily fall apart with gentle pressure. Put pork in a large bowl and pull apart with fork or tongs, discarding fat and bones. Add additional char siu sauce--1 T at a time until pulled pork is well coated (don't overdo it, you can always add more char siu sauce to the sandwiches).

Place pork in a baguette and top with slaw. Garnish with cilantro and drizzle extra nuoc mam cham over top if desired.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Pollo Enchiladas Rojos

For some reason, I think the name of this recipe sounds better in Spanish, so I've renamed it. :) Over the years, I've done lots of experimenting with chicken enchiladas. I started out with my mom's rich, wonderful enchiladas which were drenched in a sour cream sauce. I've tried plain chicken enchiladas, chicken enchiladas with green sauce, and chicken enchiladas with some chard mixed in. My experimenting with new recipes for chicken enchiladas is officially over. I love this recipe. It's not terribly difficult to make and it tastes fabulous!

I needed to make some significant modifications to this recipe, because according to M, this recipe would be TOO SPICY. (You would not believe what foods she complains about being too spicy--things that have no spice at all!) Thankfully, even with most of the spice taken out, it didn't taste bland and was full of flavor. Everyone really enjoyed this, even M. Curtis, bless his heart, told me this was his favorite chicken enchilada recipe I've made.

This recipe makes a lot of enchiladas--two shallow baking dishes worth. I split the chicken mixture and the sauce mixture in half. Half I used to I make one pan of enchiladas. The other half went in the freezer and made for a fabulously easy new baby meal for a friend.

Pollo Enchiladas Rojos
adapted from Food and Wine

Optional spicy addition to sauce
3 each of guajillo chiles and ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
3 c hot water

1 medium onion, quartered
3 lg garlic cloves
1 T ground cumin
1 1/2 t ground coriander
1/2 t ground oregano
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 1/2 c tomato sauce (20 oz)
1 c water

2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 lg onion, thinly sliced (3 c)
1/2 c chicken broth or water
4 c shredded cooked chicken (or turkey if you are looking to get rid of T'giving leftovers)
1 t cumin
1/4 c cilantro
3 c Monterey Jack cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
16 flour, whole wheat, or corn tortillas (not burrito-sized)

For the chiles: Cover the chiles in hot water in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, until softened. Transfer chiles to a food processor or blender. Add 1 c of soaking liquid. Proceed with rest of recipe.

For the sauce: Place onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, and oregano in a food processor. Add 1 c of water (if you didn't use the chiles above). Puree until smooth. Heat olive oil over medium-low heat in a large saucepan. Add the tomato sauce and water. Add the pureed onion mixture (if using the chiles as well, press the onion mixture through a sieve before adding to the tomato sauce to remove any stray chile seeds and skins). Cook the sauce, stirring occasionally until the sauce is slightly reduced, about 15 minutes. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat 2 T olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the broth and cook, until the onions are very soft and the broth has evaporated, about 10 more minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool. Stir in cumin, cilantro, and 1 1/2 c of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble the tortillas, Spoon 3/4 c of sauce into the bottom of two shallow baking dishes (I used 2 9x13" pans. Neither pan was full, but held 8 tortillas comfortably). Soften the tortillas (I heat 4 flour tortillas at a time in the microwave for 15 seconds). Spoon 1/4 c filling into each tortilla, roll up, and place in pan. Repeat. Spoon remaining sauce over top (dividing between 2 pans) and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cover pan with foil (or oven safe lid).

Bake in a preheated 350 degrees oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil/lid and bake an additional 20 minutes. Serve hot, topped with sour cream or salsa, if desired.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Salted Roast Turkey with Orange and Asian Spices

Over the years, I've posted several good Thanksgiving Day type meals (which in my family also translated to good Christmas day meals because the food served at the two meals seem to be amazingly similar. Maybe that has to do with free turkey my parents manage to procure every year for Christmas). However, I don't think I have many turkey recipes floating around out there.

My husband doesn't like turkey. There, I've said it. In fact, the year we hosted Thanksgiving and I was pregnant with my middle child, we ate beef tenderloin with chimichurri sauce because I couldn't stand poultry. My husband was thrilled and thought that was probably our best Thanksgiving meal ever.

However, I insist on turkey. I don't love eating turkey--I love the leftover products that come from turkey. I am always left with several cups of leftover turkey, which is perfect for pot pies on a cold winters' evening (ok, cold in Texas terms) or enchiladas. The real bonus for me though is the turkey stock. Because it is from the turkey I roasted (instead of just boiling some chicken expressly for that purpose), the flavor is INCREDIBLE. I got over 5 quarts of stock off of this turkey which will make wonderful soups all winter long. Turkey truly is the gift that keeps on giving, to sound cliche.

Given the above two opinions, I try to find flavorful recipes that will keep a turkey moist. The past two years, I have made this recipe. Curtis hasn't complained too loudly, which I take as an compliment given the meal. The flavors make a superb stock. I allowed myself 4 hours for the turkey to roast and sit before serving, which was plenty of time, making a noon Thanksgiving lunch very feasible.

Salted Roast Turkey with Orange and Asian Spices
adapted just slightly from Bon Appetit

Spiced Salt
2 whole star anise
2 t Szechuan peppercorns
1 t whole cloves
1 t whole coriander seeds
1 t fennel seeds
1 cinnamon stick, broken into 3 pieces
1/3 c plus 1 T coarse kosher salt
1 large orange, peel removed in long strips and finely chopped (about 2 T) (reserve orange for another use, like eating plain!)

1 14 - 16 lb turkey, reserve neck, heart, and gizzard for roasting
5 large green onions, chopped
1 whole large orange, coarsely chopped with peel
1/4 c fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 whole star anise
1 cinnamon stick, broken into 3 pieces
2 T soy sauce
2 T light molasses
1/2 c unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 c or more of water

Coarsely grind first five ingredients of spiced salt in a spice mill (or pulverize in a food processor---it won't be very fine in the food processor, but I had more success with that than a hand-held mortar and pestle). Transfer to a small bowl. Coarsely grind cinnamon stick and add to spices. Mix in coarse salt. Stir in orange peel.

Rinse turkey, inside and out, but do not pat dry. Pull any fat pads away from main cavity and neck cavity of turkey, wrap, chill, and reserve for roasting. Place turkey in a roasting bag. Sprinkle inside and out with spiced salt. Close bag. Place on baking sheet and refrigerate 18 - 24 hours.

On day of roasting, mix green onions, orange, ginger, star anise, and cinnamon stick in a medium bowl. Mix soy sauce and molasses in a small bowl, reserve for glaze at end of roasting. Rinse turkey inside and out; pat very dry this time. Divide chopped onion mixture between main and neck cavities. Fold neck skin under and secure with skewer(s). Tuck wing tips under. Tie legs together loosely if that has not already been done (my turkey's legs came already tied together). Place turkey on rack set in large roasting pan. Spread butter all over turkey. Place reserved fat pads, heart, neck, and gizzard in roasting pan. Pour in 2 c water.

Roast turkey minutes on a rack set at the lowest position of preheated 325 degrees oven. After 45 minutes, baste with pan juices. Continue to roast until meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of the thigh registers 156 - 170 degrees. Every 45 minutes of roasting, baste turkey. If turkey starts too brown, tent with foil. Add water to the pan by cupfuls if the pan starts looking dry. Brush turkey with soy sauce glaze twice during the last 30 minutes of baking. The turkey should bake 3 3/4 hours to 4 1/4 hours total. Transfer roasted turkey to platter and tent loosely with foil until you are ready to carve and serve, at least 30 - 45 minutes. Reserve roasting pan juices for gravy.

Timeline for turkey roasting (I wish the recipe I had followed had laid it out this way, so I am)

0 minutes: Turkey enters preheated 325 degrees oven.
45 minutes: Baste turkey.
1 1/2 hours: Baste turkey
2 1/4 hours: Baste turkey
3 hours: Baste turkey
3 1/4 hours - 3 3/4 hours (take temp of turkey at 3 hours, if you are getting close to 165, start glazing): Brush glaze over top of turkey
3 1/2 hours- 4 hours: Brush glaze over top turkey again
3 3/4 hours- 4 1/4 hours: Remove turkey from oven and tent with foil to keep heat in
as early as 4 1/4 hours or as late as 5 hours: Serve and eat the turkey.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Spinach and Cheddar Strata

I must admit, this recipe is very similar to another recipe I have for a baked chard dish. However, I liked this because it popped up in my inbox and dealt perfectly with the 5 oz of fresh spinach that was long overdue being eaten. It also made good use of a chunk of several day old white artisan bread that traveled from Houston to here upon my husband's return from a business training.

All but M enjoyed this. I think part of my favorite part of this dish was being able to make it in my small, red gratin dish that normally stays tucked away under my other casserole dishes. The fact that I used a shallow dish also meant that it baked faster.

As a side dish, this will serve 3 - 4. For a main dish, double the recipe to serve 4. If you use a deeper pan, you will need to increase the baking time.

Spinach and Chard Strata
from Martha Stewart Everyday Food

1 t olive oil
5 oz spinach
1 1/2 c day old bread, cut into 1" cubes
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 c whole milk
3/4 c grated cheddar

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the spinach and cook until wilted. Use a spoon or rubber spatula to press as much liquid out as possible (either in a colander or in the pan--I found tilting the pan worked just fine). Place the bread in a small (1 qt) gratin dish or a small casserole dish. Spread the spinach evenly over top. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, and 1/2 c cheddar cheese. Pour evenly over top the bread and spinach. Sprinkle remaining cheddar over top. Bake in a preheated 400 degrees oven for 20 - 25 minutes, or until set and golden brown on top.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Chicken and Mushroom Fricasee

The recipe as it was published turned out way too runny for me. I am making adaptations and posting my version here. To see the recipe in it's original form, click here.

I made this for company. I have decided that I absolutely love shitake mushrooms. They are meaty and have wonderful flavor (especially in comparison to white button mushrooms). Everyone enjoyed this and it is definitely a make again, company dish.

I ended up making way too much. I created a second dish (all by myself--without a recipe!!) to use up the leftovers.

This serves 4 - 5.

Chicken and Mushroom Fricasee
adapted from Food and Wine

1/3 lb chicken, cut into 8 pieces
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 T olive oil
1 lg onion, finely chopped
1/2 lb shitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1 T fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 c dry white wine
1 c chicken stock or broth
1/3 c sour cream
1/3 c plain nonfat Greek yogurt (this is thicker than regular yogurt, if you can't find it, regular will do)
1/2 c celery leaves, optional

Arrange the chicken pieces, skin side up on a cookie sheet and season generously with salt and pepper. Roast in preheated 425 degrees oven for 45 minutes until chicken is cooked and skin is crisp.

While the chicken roasts, heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet. Add the onion and cook over medium heat until just softened, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, increase the heat to high and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are softened and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, bay leaves, and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the wine and cook until wine evaporates, scraping up any browned bits. Add the stock and simmer until reduced, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat (if the sauce seems to dry, add a little extra chicken stock). Stir in the sour cream and yogurt. Discard the bay leaves. Add the chicken to the sauce, leaving the skin out of the sauce (to keep it crispy). Simmer until heated through. Stir in celery leaves if using. Serve.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Chard with Olives and Pine Nuts

I got a new cookbook the other week. It's been quite a while since I've done that and when I saw table of cookbooks at Costco, I couldn't resist. I passed by Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table (new French cookbook) and another one (I can't remember) that was also on my possible cookbook list for Mark Bittman's Food Matters Cookbook.

I have a love/hate relationship with Mark Bittman. I love everything he's passionate about--good foods that are good for you. He's big into vegetables (he's the "vegan-before-6" guy). He uses meat as seasonings often. I like that. I like his writing for the New York Time's and his food blog. However, I am convinced by his cookbooks, and in retrospect, I am a little surprised I bought this one. I have his How to Cook Everything and have had mixed results with his recipes. I often feel crucial information is missing from his recipes (like the size of pan to use, when size does matter).

This is the second recipe from his Food Matters Cookbook that I made. The first recipe was a bit of a major fail. I contemplated returning the cookbook after that (I don't often have major fails that are due to a faulty recipe. Usually I take full responsibility because generally, I have lost the ability to read and comprehend. In this case, it was the recipe at fault and not me). However, I decided to give another recipe a try because I like Bittman and his food philosophy.

Success!! Both Curtis and I enjoyed this dish. I am pleased to have found a way to cook chard in a side dish that is easy and quick. The kids didn't like it, but I didn't expect them too, so nothing was lost.

This serves 2 - 4 as a side dish.

Chard with Olives and Pine Nuts
adapted slightly from the Food Matters Cookbook

3/4 lb chard
2 T pine nuts
1 T olive oil
6 garlic cloves, sliced
3 T black olives (preferably, oil cured and wrinkly--like bulk olives at Whole Foods or Central Market, etc)
1/4 c water
salt and black pepper, to taste
feta cheese, crumbled, to taste

Cut leaves from stems of chard. Cut the leaves into wide ribbons and slice the stems about 1/4 - 1/2" thick. Keep the leaves and stems separate.

Put the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Heat for 1 minute. Add the garlic and cook, stirring until soft, golden, and fragrant, 5 - 10 minutes. Turn the heat up to medium and add the chard stems and black olives. Cook until the stems begin to soften, just a minute or 2. Add the chard leaves, water, and a little salt and pepper. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring until chard leaves are wilted and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. While the chard cooks, toast the pine nuts in small pan over medium-low heat, until they are fragrant and golden. Stir the pine nuts into the cooked chard. Adjust seasonings as necessary. Sprinkle with a little feta and serve, hot or at room temperature

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Gomoku Soba

When it is hot, I crave Mediterranean dishes---ones heavy on fresh tomatoes and eggplant. Dishes that started with olive oil and garlic. As the weather cools, I find myself moving halfway across the world. Noodles still come into play, but noodles known by udon, soba, and rice sticks. Asian foods emerge as the temperatures drop. Stir fries loaded with broccoli and carrots and hot, rich soups with noodles, cabbage, and scallions floating in them.

Part of my journey to Asian food this fall was the arrival of this in our CSA box. This is a Napa or Chinese Cabbage. As usual, I consulted my go to international cookbook, Sundays at Moosewood. This very rarely lets me down when it comes to the non-typical vegetables that show up in our box.
This recipe takes a couple of non-typical ingredients. The first is kombu. Kombu is a flat, green, dried seaweed. I find it in a blue bag at Central Market (I am sure Whole Foods and an Asian market would have it, too). It looks a little expensive, but you only use a little of it at a time. The other non-typical ingredient is dried shitake mushrooms. I buy these in bulk at Central Market as well (again, I suspect Whole Foods or an Asian market would have these too). The price on the container kinda freaked me out (it's like over $60 per pound). However, the mushrooms for this recipe cost $1.60, not too bad.

Unfortunately, my children love this. That makes me sad, less for me. I made the broths ahead of time and then would cut the vegetables and cook the noodles for individual servings.

This recipe serves 4.

Gomoku Soba
or Noodles and Vegetables in a Flavorful Broth
from Sundays at Moosewood

1/2 oz dried konbu (I just estimated)
8 c water
8 dried shitake mushrooms
2 c hot water
5 T soy sauce
1/2 c sake or mirin
1/2 c lg carrot, sliced into thin rounds
8 scallions, cut into 2 1/2" lengths
2 c sliced Chinese cabbage, 1/2" thick
1/2 lb soba noodles

4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and halved (optional, I skipped this)
chopped scallions (optional)

Bring the kombu and 8 c of water to a boil. Turn the heat down, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the kombu (pour through a strainer if you need to). This broth is called kombu dashi. While the kombu simmers, soak the shitake in 2 c of boiling water for 20 - 30 minutes. Remove the shitake mushrooms, reserving the liquid. This broth is called shitake dashi. Trim off and discard the stems of the shitake. Thinly slice the caps into strips. Combine 1 1/2 c of the shitake dashi (this should be all or nearly all of it) and 3 1/2 c of the kombu dashi (save the leftover kombu dashi for another batch of soup. It will last 4 - 5 days). Add soy sauce, sake, and sliced shitake. Simmer.

One at a time, cook each vegetable in the broth (I typically put the vegetables on a slotted spoon and dip into the broth. This makes it easier to fish out the blanched vegetables). Cook until each is just barely cooked. I cook carrots first, then scallions, than the cabbage. Remove the cook vegetables from the stock and set aside. As the take turns cooking, cook the soba in a separate pot of bowling water, according to pkg directions (about 3 minutes). Drain. Divide the soba between the individual bowls (one for each person eating). Arrange on top of the soba the vegetables and two halves of the hard boiled eggs. Pour the very hot broth over top. Garnish with chopped scallions, if desired.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Thai Red Curry Squash Soup

I love pureed soups. They are one of my favorite things about cold weather. I make a batch of a pureed soup, have it for supper and then enjoy it for lunches for several days afterwards. My husband, unfortunately, doesn't see it that way. Pureed soups are appetizers for him.

We don't do appetizers in our house. If I make something, it's supper, not an appetizer. However, with this soup, Curtis got lucky. I knew this soup would be spicy, so I knew I couldn't give it to the kids for supper. Sigh. So, I made this and I made a main dish as well. All were happy. I enjoyed my pureed soup, Curtis enjoyed his appetizer and main course, and the kids enjoyed the main course.

An ingredient note: Red curry paste comes in a large quantity. I have a container of it stashed in the back of my fridge. The stuff is SPICY!! Most recipes call for 1 T of it at a time. If you buy it, find a container that you can reseal and store in the back of your fridge until you make this or another red curry recipe again.

This serves 6 people easily.

Thai Red Curry Squash Soup
adapted slightly from Food and Wine

2 T butter
1/2 lg onion, thinly sliced
2 T thinly sliced fresh ginger (or 2 t ginger spice)
1 T Thai red curry paste (see ingredient note above)
1 1/2 lbs orange winter squash, kabocha, kuri or buttercup is preferred, but butternut will do, peeled, seeded, and cut into 2" chunks
2 1/2 c water
1 (13.5-oz) can unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 t lime zest (or 1 keifer lime leaf)
1/2 stalk of lemongrass (to get half, cut in half vertically), smashed and cut into 2" lengths (don't use long green ends, use the lighter colored bottom 1/4 - 1/3")
1 T sugar
1 T fresh lime juice
salt, to taste

In a large, heavy pot, melt the butter. Add the onion and sliced ginger, if using, and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, about 7 minutes. Add the curry paste and ginger powder (if using) and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the squash and water and bring to a boil. Cover partially and simmer until squash is soft, about 25 minutes. Add the coconut milk, lime zest, and lemongrass, cover partially, and simmer an additional 30 minutes. Discard the lemongrass (and lime leaf, if using). Working in batches, puree the soup in a food processor or blender (or just use an immersion blender in the pot). Return to the pot and stir in the lime juice and sugar. Season as desired with salt.

Serve hot.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Twice-Fried Green Beans and Cashews

Just for the record, vegetarian food isn't always healthier. Granted this meal would have been even unhealthier if I had used meat, but even without the meat, it had a bit of fat in it. I guess that's what happens when you deep fry green beans.

I know, deep-fried green beans? I was a little hesitant, but I was wanting a green bean stir fry for supper and this recipe looked the best of what I found in my little search. Turns out, it is really, really good. The green beans were incredible (but according to Curtis, most foods are incredible when fried--I would disagree with him there). The seasonings were minimal, but did the trick. My only problem was frying the cashews--I briefly forgot about them and they ended up a little too fried. We ate most of them anyway.

This will serve 4 - 6 people.

Twice Fried Green Beans with Cashews
adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

neutral oil like grapeseed, corn or canola for frying
1 1/2 lbs green beans (or however much you have--I didn't measure mine, I just used what I had), trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 - 2 inch lengths
1/2 c cashews
1 lb tofu, drained and cut into 1/2" cubes
1 - 2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c mild onion or scallions, chopped
1 t fresh chile (Jalapeno or Thai), optional (we didn't use it, but I suspect many would like this)
1 T sugar
2 T soy sauce
cooked rice or thin noodles (Udon, rice noodles, etc--I like the rice though since the green beans are kinda long)

Heat a enough of a neutral oil (I used canola) to be about 1 - 2 inches deep in a heavy black skillet or deep fryer (I probably used only about 1 - 1 1/2 inches of oil). Bring to 350 degrees (you can measure this with a candy thermometer--a meat thermometer won't get hot enough). Add the beans all at once and cook, stirring occasionally until they begin to brown, 5 - 10 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels, and sprinkle with salt. Add the cashews to the hot oil and fry until golden brown. Watch carefully to prevent the cashews from burning. Drain and sprinkle with salt. Set aside.

Let the oil cool a few minutes then pour off oil to containers to either reuse or dispose of in the trashcan (my husband's a plumber, he'd like for you to put in down the drain so you can give your friendly plumber some work). Keep 2 T of oil in the pan (or a separate pan, which I used because I didn't have enough patience to let the oil cool). Turn the heat up to high, and stir fry the tofu until it is golden brown. Add the garlic and onion and stir fry for a few minutes, until the onion softens (you can also use scallions, in which case only stir fry for about 30 seconds). Add the green beans and cook for 2 minutes. Add the sugar and soy sauce, stir, and remove from heat.

Serve over rice or noodles. Top with fried cashews.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Zucchini Muffins

Fall is here in Central Texas which means a variety of things. The temperatures are falling---highs now are only usually in the 80's and on the glorious mornings they're in the 50's (on the not so glorious mornings, it only gets down to the mid/upper 60's). We get occasional cool fronts. The produce we receive in our CSA box increases. We are still getting lots of warm weather vegetables: cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, and zucchini. These vegetables are actually bigger and tastier than they were during the hot summer months of July/August/September. The cool weather crops are also starting to show up---a variety of greens.

After cooking with zucchini for 5 months now, I get a little weary. By September and October I am frequenting my zucchini in baked goods recipes. My typical zucchini bread recipe has seemed a little too rich than what suits my mood. In my search for a replacement recipe, I discovered these zucchini muffins.

I think these are about the perfect zucchini muffins. They're not overly rich, they're full of flavor, and they have nice add-ins (pecans and dried fruit). I can easily eat 3 of these when they are warm (did I really just admit that?).

This recipe makes 12 if you don't make large muffins (10 if they're larger).

Zucchini Muffins
adapted from The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book

1 c flour
1/2 c whole wheat flour (or omit and use 1 1/2 c white flour)
3/4 c sugar
2 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
2 eggs
1/3 c canola oil
1/4 c orange marmalade (optional--I've never used this, but I'm sure it would be good!)
1 t vanilla
1 4-oz zucchini or summer squash, shredded (drain on paper towels if you use the marmalade)
3/4 c dried tart cherries (or raisins or other dried fruit)
1/4 c pecans, chopped

In a bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, oil, marmalade, vanilla, and zucchini. Add the flour mixture to the zucchini mixture and stir until the batter is smooth and evenly moistened. Stir in the dried fruit and pecans until just mixed. The batter will be stiff.

Spoon the batter into 12 greased standard muffin cups. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven until muffins are golden, dry, and springy to touch, 17 - 20 minutes (a tester inserted in the center of a muffin should come out clean). Cool for 5 minutes, unmold and eat.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

As my devoted followers know, I love gnocchi. Usually I satisfy that love by buying dried, vacuum packed gnocchi (because fresh is too $$$) or by ordering at restaurants. However, for a long time I've been wanting to make gnocchi.

Bucket lists are popular these days. I don't have a bucket list, but in the back of mind I have a long list of things I would like to do someday. A lot of those things are food related---make my own pasta, take a real cooking class, make to-die-for-Almond Rolls, and eat at Uchi (or Uchiko). Some things, I've already done like making rustic Italian bread (didn't love those results and haven't had the desire to try again...), making buckeyes, making my own mayonnaise, and making a whole bunch of cookies for Christmastime. Making gnocchi was also on the list.

We loved this gnocchi (which J called Humpty Dumpty). Curtis and M normally don't like gnocchi, but they thought it was fabulous. In fact, M told me "Mommy, I can't believe you made this because it looks so good, but I saw you. I thought it came from the best bakery in the whole world." (Five year olds occasionally get food sources confused). We easily polished off a whole batch.

A couple of recipe notes: 1) This recipe takes a lot longer to make than it looks like due to dropping the gnocchi in the water. The recipe suggests doing this via a pastry bag. That works great, it doesn't give you the characteristic gnocchi ridges and looks more like a very rustic gnocchi. Your hands will also get sore from squeezing the gnocchi through the bag. Give yourself a good half hour to squeeze and cook all the gnocchi. 2) The cream sauce was an epic fail, but didn't drive me to laying on the floor and crying (like in Julie/Julia which Curtis and I watched over the weekend). I used sour heavy cream and mascarpone that had grown mold, which I scraped off. Since I knew I was throwing out the ingredients anyway, I thought I'd give it whir, just in case. Didn't work and we ended up using store bought pasta sauce we had left in my fridge from when my mother-in-law came to our house and made supper. 3) I didn't have a potato ricer and wasn't ready to go buy one. After much searching through the kitchen, I decided to try the food mill attachment for my Kitchenaid that I use for making applesauce. It worked perfectly!

This serves 4 - 6, depending on how much people eat.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi
from the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission
4 medium-size sweet potatoes
1 medium-size russet potato
2 c flour
1 egg, beaten
pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

Mascarpone Cream Sauce
4 shallots or 1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 T sugar
1 c heavy cream
1/2 c stock or water
4 oz mascarpone cheese
1 bunch sage, finely chopped

Roast sweet potatoes in preheated 300 degrees oven for 1 hour or until tender (could also grill, I suppose). Peel and keep warm. Meanwhile, peel and cut the russet potato into chunks. Cook in boiling water until potato is tender. Cut sweet potatoes into chunks. Put all potatoes (sweet and russet) through a potato ricer or food mill. Stir in flour, egg, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Turn mixture out onto lightly floured counter and knead briefly to help mixture hold together. Divide into two balls. Bring water to boil in a large pot. Put one ball of sweet potato mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2" diameter tip (I used the base piece for the other tips and nothing else). Squeeze pastry tube over boiling water, cutting mixture with kitchen sheers at 1/2 - 1" intervals (I did closer to 1"). Cook in boiling water until dough floats to the surface. Remove with slotted spoon, put gnocchi in a colander to drain and keep warm until all gnocchi is cooked. Repeat until all dough is used.
For the sauce: In a saucepan, heat the shallots (onions), garlic, sugar, cream and stock. Add the cheese and sage and heat until cheese melts and is smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Combine gnocchi with sauce and serve.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Almond Rolls

My former favorite bakery in town (former for a variety of reasons, including change of staff and consistent removal of my favorite pastries from their pastry case, never to be seen again) used to make bear claws. These were divine things, filled with just the right amount of almond paste, and if I got to the restaurant at just the right time in the morning, they would be still warm. Sigh. I miss those bear claws. I dream about those bear claws. However, they are no more.

I immediately bookmarked the page then when I found on a recipe for Almond Rolls. Could they be similar? Warm almond paste inside a pastry? I took the plunge and attempted the slightly complex (mostly because of the series of steps that involved lots of waiting) recipe. There were good pictures to accompany it and I was happy with recipe until I got to the last step. Baking. The oven temp was listed (which was pretty easy to figure out anyway), but bake time wasn't. All it said was bake until golden. How long is that? 15 minutes? 20 minutes? Exactly how golden are we talking?

I searched the net and discovered something interesting about food blogs. Did you know people have their own food blogs that just copies and pastes the entire recipes without adding their two cents or hints? It is so blatant copying that they don't even bother to change the blurb preceding the recipe, that is copied as well. Now why would you do that? Most of them don't even source the original. From I what I figured, they never made it either because they don't explain why it looks like (from the pictures) that the cook added something to her almond paste to make it more spreadable and not so pasty or how long to bake the darn things for! My eyes were opened and I remained frustrated about the baking time.

I just experimented, I had two pans of almond rolls and the second pan was baked perfectly at 20 minutes. Fifteen minutes was definitely too short. I am including the recipe (and not just ranting), but will continue to tweak and edit this post as I get them to perfection (which they weren't, in my opinion, but everyone who tried them said they were wonderful. I think they were just being kind). When you make this recipe, keep in mind these puppies need to rest for at least 9 1/2 - 10 hours (including one overnight resting). I suggest making this as a weekend activity for Sunday breakfast. Start the dough Friday night, roll and fold Saturday, and shape and bake Sunday morning.

This yields 16 rolls. Be prepared to share!

Almond Rolls
adapted from

1 c cool water
2 1/2 t instant yeast (this is not active dry yeast--if you can't find any label instant, use rapid rise yeast)
1/3 c sugar
1/3 c sour cream
3 c bread flour
1 t kosher salt
1/2 c cold butter, cut into 12 pieces
1 (12.5) oz can almond filling (not marzipan, but almond filling, Solo brand is easy to find)
1 egg, beaten with a little water for an egg wash

In a medium bowl, mix water, yeast, sugar, and sour cream. Whisk to dissolve sugar and set aside. Put flour and salt into food processor. Drop butter into processor and pulse a few times (think pie dough or biscuits---you don't want to overmix the butter). Butter should be chick pea size, with variation to the large or small side ok. Transfer the flour mixture to the bowl with the yeast mixture. Gently fold the mixture with a rubber spatula to moisten all the flour, leaving chunks of butter intact. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, generously flour the work surface. Pat the dough into a rectangle and roll out to about 12 x 16": it doesn't have to be exact. The butter should still be chunky and clumpy. Fold the dough into thirds like a letter. Repeat the roll fold three times. Be sure to work quickly because the butter shouldn't melt or soften too much. End with the folded letter, fold it in half and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least an hour (or as long as the next day).

Take the dough out of the refrigerator and cut into two pieces. Return half of the dough to the fridge. Flatten a piece of dough and cut into into 8 pieces. Roll a piece into a 3 x 6" rectangle. Put a T of almond paste in the bottom half (I had to shape the almond paste in my hands with my fingers and then lay it on the dough--it didn't spread with an other utensil. I want to tweak this step of the recipe. I'll let you know as I do...). Roll the dough up and place seam-side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicon mat. Repeat with remaining 7 pieces and then with the other piece of dough in the refrigerator. Once a pan is full, cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes. Brush the rolls with the eggwash after the 30 minutes. Bake in a preheated 400 degrees oven from 20 minutes or until they are nicely browned. Let them cool and then eat (inside filling is much hotter than outside dough).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Slow Cooker Chicken Tagine

Mmm...butternut squash in a slow cooker with chicken and chick peas. Moroccan food made easy.

We enjoyed this and I was pleased to find a way to use butternut squash in a slow cooker. It was a nice stew and was great over couscous. The olives over top are optional--we put them on top the first time around, but not for the leftovers. M was a little hesitant about the squash, which was just fine with Little I who had all of his plus all of M's squash. M stuck to the chicken.

This is a great dump and cook slow cooker meal--which are my favorite kind. No sauting anything before hand--the only work is peeling and cutting the butternut squash into chunks.

This serves 6.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tagine
adapted from

1 (1 1/2 lb) butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1" - 1 1/2" chunks
2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped or 1 c canned diced tomatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15-oz) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
1 c chicken broth
1/3 c raisins
2 t coriander
2 t cumin
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
3 lbs (bone-in) chicken thighs, skins removed
10 oz couscous
1/2 c green olives, pitted (optional)

In a 6-qt slow cooker, combine squash, tomatoes, onion, garlic, beans, broth, and raisins. In a separate, small bowl, combine coriander, cumin, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Rub spice mixture all over chicken thighs. Place thighs on top of vegetable mixture. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.

About 10 minutes before serving, prepare couscous according to pkg directions. To serve, fluff couscous with fork. Stir olives into chicken mixture. Serve chicken mixture over couscous.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pasta alla Norma

Let me just start by saying I haven't touched my camera in two weeks except to take a picture of this dish. Enjoy this picture, it's the only I have of our food lately. :)

That said, I love eggplant. I never thought I would say that. However, eggplant in pasta sauce is just divine. It adds a nice texture and just a slight flavor. Sigh. I loved this dish and am wishing it was still around.

We all liked this pretty well. Curtis and I really enjoyed. Little I loved the eggplant in it. J and M were suspect about its presence. I gleamed some inspiration from Pasta with Robust Summer Sauce I made a couple of weekends ago (or has it been a month already?). The largest inspiration--anchovies. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I love anchovies. Anchovies got a bad rap sometime in the 70's/early 80's. Anchovies rock. They provide that last taste needed in dishes--umami. Give anchovies a chance sometime, like in the recipe for instance. They're not terribly expensive and they pack a lot of umpf! for just a small amount used.

Here it is: Pasta alla Norma alla Melani!

Pasta alla Norma
adapted from Gourmet

2 lg eggplants
olive oil
1 T dried oregano
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
large bunch of basil, leaves thinly sliced (roll up like a cigar and thinly slice into ribbons)
1 t white wine vinegar
2 anchovies, minced
28 oz (1 -28 oz can) diced tomatoes,
salt and pepper, to taste
1 lb spaghetti or other long, skinny pasta (I used cappellini)
grated Parmesan cheese

Cut the eggplants into 1/2" cubes (leaving the skin on). Add a little oil to a large skillet and heat. Fry the eggplant in batches, adding just enough oil to prevent the eggplant from sticking. You don't want the eggplant to bathe in oil to prevent them from getting oily tasting later. Fry into the eggplant are tender and starting to brown. Remove from pan and sprinkle with some oregano.

Return all eggplant to the pan, reduce the heat to medium and add a little more oil (as needed, to prevent sticking). Add the garlic and stir. Cook until garlic is fragrant, then add white wine vinegar, anchovies, and tomatoes (you can puree the tomatoes before adding if you wish, but I preferred chunky tomatoes). Simmer for 10 - 15 minutes, taste, and adjust seasonings. Add half the basil leaves (about 2 - 4 T).

Meanwhile, cook pasta. Reserve 1/2 c of cooking liquid, drain pasta, and return to cooking pot. Add the tomato sauce to the pasta pot and a little (2 - 4 T) of cooking water and toss together over low heat. Taste and adjust seasonings. To serve, sprinkle with remaining basil and Parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Chicken Gumbo

I want to like okra, I really do. I love how sliced okra looks--so pretty if you can ignore the slime dripping from each slice. All summer we've left our okra in the trade box or snuck it into friends' refrigerators. I decided a week or two again that it was time to use okra at least once this summer. Instead of going for the classic tomato/okra/hamburger skillet meal, I went for the other okra classic, gumbo.

See it turns out, that gumbo actually means okra. Countless gumbo recipes abound---some New Orleans' style others more African in style. I went for the New Orleans Style and found a recipe that could be made in a crockpot as well. Despite my original intentions, I didn't end up making this in a crockpot, but am including those directions because I just might make this recipe again sometime.

We all ate it. I wouldn't say anyone of us loved the entire dish. Curtis and I tolerated the okra. We tried to deny its existence in the meal. (Curtis informed me it would be much better without the okra. I told him in which case, it wouldn't be gumbo). M ate the chicken and shrimp out of it. J ate some of it. Little I picked at his, eating some of it, but it was hard to discern exactly what. I had it three days afterwards as leftovers and the okra started to grow on me. I'll make this again and we'll probably tolerate the okra again. Maybe, eventually, we just might like this dish--all parts of it.

This serves 6 - 8 if served over rice.

Chicken Gumbo
adapted from

4 T canola oil
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or thighs), cut into 1" pieces
4 T unbleached flour
1 c onion, diced
1 c green pepper, diced
1/2 c celery, diced
2 c fresh okra, sliced
2 c chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 (28-oz) can diced tomatoes
1 lb cooked chicken sausage, sliced into 1/2" rounds
1 lb large shrimp, peeled (you could use significantly less--I used more for M's sake)

Brown the chicken seasoned with salt and pepper in 1 T oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Remove with slotted spoon and set aside. Add remaining 3 T oil to skillet and heat until hot. Add floor and cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown 3 - 4 minutes. It should be about the color of peanut butter. Add the onion, green pepper, celery, and okra.

For a slow cooker: Cook onion, etc for 2 minutes or until the vegetables start to wilt. Add the chicken broth and stir until smooth and incorporated. Transfer mixture very carefully (to not burn yourself) into slow cooker. Add the okra, bay leaves, tomatoes, and browned chicken along with any juices left in bowl. Cover and cook on low for 7 - 8 hours. Thirty minutes before serving, add the sausage and turn cooker to high. Add the shrimp 5 minutes before serving. Serve over cooked rice with plenty of Tabasco.

For stove top: Carefully stir in chicken broth to onion mixture. Return chicken and any juices to the pan. Add chicken sausage, bay leaves, and tomatoes. Cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook another 5 minutes or until the shrimp are cooked. Serve over rice with plenty of Tabasco.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pasta Aglio e Olio

I've been having a hard time coming up with a week's menu lately. I'm not quite sure why. Periodically this happens though. I feel like cooking nothing and am very uninspired. Last week, this was the case. To illustrate the severity of this, let me tell you about our Labor Day weekend meals. Of the 6 meals we ate (3 lunches and 3 suppers--breakfasts aren't included), 4 of those meals consisted of sandwiches of some sort---salami and cheddar, almond butter and jelly, or roasted eggplant and arugula. Another meal, Curtis cooked steaks and sweet potatoes on The Egg. Yet another, we went to someone else's house for a cookout. That sums it up. I arugula and stone fruit salad and sweet potato biscuits and that was it for 6 meals. Sad, I know.

Now that that confession is out of the way, you understand when I said I've been uninspired. I was pleased to find this recipe that used locally sourced ingredients---Texas extra virgin olive oil and basil and garlic from our CSA (I could have splurged on locally made pasta, but didn't, story of my week). This was the best version of this recipe I've found. Simple, yet very delicious. So much so, that the usual 1/2 lb of pasta I made for our family didn't go nearly far enough.

A full recipe will probably serve 4 - 5 people.

Pasta Aglio e Olio
adapted from Whole Foods

1 lb spaghetti or other long thin pasta (we used linguini)
5 T extra virgin olive oil
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 c fresh parsley or basil, chopped
1/2 c grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 1/3 c of pasta cooking water, then drain well.

Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic begins to lightly brown. Watch carefully so garlic does not burn. Add the cooked pasta and reserved pasta water to the garlic and oil. Add all but 1 T of the basil, half of the cheese, salt and pepper to taste, and toss well. Transfer to serving bowl and top with remaining basil and cheese. Serve immediately.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Persimmon Bread

For the past couple of years, I've been seeing persimmons at the Farmer's Market. There was an article about persimmons in the current issue of Edible Austin as well. I took the plunge this year and bought a small box of persimmons last weekend.

I learned several things.
1. There are two common types of persimmons: Fuyu and Hachiya.
2. You use these two persimmons very differently.
3. Fuyus are commonly eaten while they are still hard (crisp) and often in salads or wrapped in meat.
4. Hachiyas are not eaten until they are very soft and mushy. They are usually baked. The most common recipe is some form of bread pudding.
5. If you add bourbon to a recipe, it pretty much hides the fact that you used the wrong kind of persimmons (especially if you were sure to use very soft and mushy fuyu persimmons that were beginning to smell a tad bit fermented).

I used a James Beard recipe for persimmon bread to use my very overly ripe Fuyu persimmons. It contained bourbon, which I just happen to have on hand because I am getting ready to make my own vanilla extract (thanks to my cousin who gave us homemade extract last year for Christmas). If you don't have bourbon or would rather not use alcohol in your baking, you can substitute orange juice (which I probably will do next time).

The verdict? Curtis and I thought it was pretty good. M was adamant that she didn't like it. J ate an entire piece and then decided he didn't like it. Fine with us. It makes a great breakfast bread.

This makes 1 9" loaf

Persimmon Bread
adapted from David Lebowitz who adapted it from James Beard

1 3/4 c flour
3/4 t salt
1 t baking soda
1/4 t freshly grated nutmeg (or 1/2 t regular ground nutmeg)
1 to 1 1/4 c sugar
1/2 c melted butter, cooled to room temperature
2 lg eggs
1/3 c bourbon, cognac, whiskey, or orange juice
1 c persimmon puree (I peeled the persimmons and pushed them through a mesh sieve, discarding seeds in the center)
1 c pecans (or walnuts), chopped
1 c raisins or other diced dried fruits

Whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, and sugar. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients, then stir in butter, eggs, liquor or orange juice, and persimmon puree. Add the nuts and raisins and stir until just combined. Pour into a greased and floured 9" bread pan. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees oven for 1 hour to 1 1/4 hours, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

New Eggplant Recipes

Are you needing new eggplant recipes? I haven't made many new recipes this summer, instead going back to a lot I discovered last summer and have already posted here.

However, NPR had a piece on eggplant this week with several new eggplant recipes. I may even be encouraged to try one or two these, they looked so good like Imam Bayildi and the Caponata recipe (it looks considerably less oily than mine which is my main complaint about my caponata recipe).

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Rosemary Chicken

I have a confession. I made this recipe about a month ago. I don't remember much about it other than it made my list of recipes to add. Sigh. Without any further ado, here is Rosemary Chicken from Saveur's Greek Issue (August/September 2010). I am sure we all liked it, because we can't go wrong with chicken in our house.

Rosemary Chicken
from Saveur Magazine

4 whole chicken leg quarters (or a combination of leg quarters and breasts)
1/2 c flour
1/4 c olive oil
1 c white wine
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 c water
juice of 1 lemon

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Put flour on plate and dredge each piece of chicken through the flour to coat, shaking off excess. Heat oil in 12" oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, turning once, until browned. Add wine, rosemary, and bay leaves. Return pan to heat and cook until wine reduces by half, about 2 minutes. Add water and brin gto a boil. Cover skillet and transfer carefully to a preheated 425 degree oven. Cook until chicken is tender, about 45 minutes. Uncover and let chicken skin crisp, 5 minutes. Remove from oven and stir in lemon juice. Serve with pan sauce.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Turkish Lamb and Vegetable Stew

I stay pretty busy. Six days of the week, I do countless loads of laundry, feed our family, pick kids up at schools, keep our house semi-clean, do errands, and the list goes on and on. I am sure your list seems endless sometimes too. Whose doesn't? Needless to say, I am trying to carve out one day a week where I stop a little and take a nap/read/write (just for me--not for any blog), putting aside my mile long to do list for the day. One way I accomplish this without racking up huge eating out bills is to get out the slow cooker. I turn it on the morning, wash all the dishes and then am done for the day in the kitchen. The challenge is finding slow cooker recipes I like that don't turn into a "open up a can" fest. I want recipes that match our summer season and use some of the produce have around.

I found this recipe and was excited. It used eggplant and zucchini (not your normal slow cooker ingredients) in addition to potatoes. All three things I got in my CSA box and had languishing in my crisper (well, not the potatoes).

We all enjoyed it. My only complaint was the amount of work that went into it. I prefer my slow cooker recipes to need not a lot of prep work, but this one took a little longer with browning the lamb and sauteing onions. It also was a shorter cook time than some. However, we had no problem polishing off the leftovers throughout the week, not that we had a large amount of leftovers. It was a hit with all of us. This would be good served with rice or another grain like couscous. If you don't like the gamey lamb flavor, either substitute another stew meat or roast or trim the fat off of the lamb very well.

This makes 6 - 8 servings.

Turkish Lamb and Vegetable Stew
from Eating Well Magazine

1 1/2 lbs boneless leg of lamb, trimmed and cut into 1 1/4" pieces (or other stew meat/roast)
1 1/4 t salt
black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 lg onions, thinly slices
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t dried oregano
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
1 lg potato (or 3 -4 small ones, in my case), sliced 3/8" thick
1/2 lb green beans, trimmed and snapped into 1 - 2" pieces (frozen green beans work fine)
1 sm eggplant, sliced 3/8" thick
1 med zucchini or summer squash, sliced 3/8" thick
6 bay leaves
3 T fresh parsley, chopped

Season lamb with 1/4 t salt and pepper to taste. Heat 1/2 T olive oil in lg skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add half the lamb and brown, 2 - 4 minutes, turning to brown all sides. Set aside and repeat with remaining lamb, adding another 1/2 T olive oil to skillet. Add to slow cooker (and all accumulated juices). Add remaining 1/2 T oil to skillet and reduce heat to medium. Add onions and cook until softened, 3 - 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and oregano and cook for an additional minute. Add tomatoes and bring to a simmer, mashing with a potato masher or fork. Remove from heat.

Spoon half of tomato mixture over lamb. Arrange potatoes over top, followed by green beans, eggplant, and zucchini, seasoning each layer with a little salt and pepper. Spread remaining tomato mixture over top of vegetables. Top with bay leaves. Cover and cook on high about 4 hours or until lamb and vegetables are very tender. Discard bay leaves and serve hot, garnished with parsley.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Spanish Stuffed Bell Peppers

I grew up eating stuffed peppers of the rice and hamburger variety. As I watched my bell peppers accumulate, I wanted a stuffed pepper recipe that didn't resemble the stuffed peppers of my youth.

I love the internet. Instantly, 1000's of bell pepper recipes popped up and I got to choose between the traditional stuffed peppers and ethnic stuffed peppers (sometime, I really want to try Indian stuffed peppers. Mmm). I settled on a Rachael Ray recipe for Spanish stuffed peppers.

Those peppers were fabulous! I made 3 stuffed peppers and then cooked the rest of the stuffing in the oven (I knew M wouldn't eat it if it was inside a pepper). Everyone loved it! J even ate some of a pepper and little I had several servings. This is my new favorite stuffed bell pepper recipe.

My only complaint was with the leftovers. They quickly developed a very wine-y taste that I didn't notice the first time around. I think next time I may decrease the wine and increase the water/chicken broth instead. I also thought the ground chicken had no flavor and wasn't worht the extra cost. I'll substitute a mild sausage or lean ground beef next time as well. Brown rice gives the filling a wonderful texture (and more nutritional value too). The recipe calls for 6 bell peppers but you can cook however many you need (I only did 3).

Spanish Stuffed Bell Peppers
adapted from Rachael Ray

6 medium bell peppers (red preferable, but green will do), tops cut off
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 - 1 1/2 lbs ground meat (chicken, beef, or a mild sausage)
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c golden raisins
2 t sweet paprika
3/4 c dry sherry (or a combination of 3/4 liquid between chicken broth, water, or wine)
2 15-oz cans tomato sauce
1/2 c parsley, chopped
1/2 c slivered almonds, toasted
2 - 3 c cooked brown rice
2 c Manchego cheese, grated

Bring a pot of water to boil and blanch peppers in boiling water for 3 minutes or until just tender. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat olive oil. Add the ground meat and season with salt and pepper. Cook until brown, breaking it up into small pieces. Add the onion, garlic, raisins, and paprika. Continue to cook until the onion s are tender, about 3- 4 minutes. Add the sherry (or other liquid) and stir to get the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add 1 1/2 c of tomato sauce and cook 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in parsley, almonds, and cooked rice.

Pour remaining 1/2 c of tomato sauce and a touch of water into a baking dish. Fill each pepper halfway up with rice mixture. Top with a little cheese and then fill to the top with more of the rice mixture. Top with some more cheese (so four layers--rice mixture-cheese-rice mixture-cheese). Set pepper in baking dish. Repeat with all the peppers. Put the leftover filling, if there is some, into a casserole dish and sprinkle generously with cheese. Bake, uncovered, in a preheated 375 degrees oven for 20 - 30 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Savory Summer Muffins

I don't have much to say about this one. Amazing, right? The kids didn't like them much, but Curtis and I did. This a great recipe for those times that summer squash/zucchini may seem overwhelming.

This will make about 18 or so muffins.

Savory Summer Muffins
adapted from Sundays at Moosewood

3 c flour
4 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 1/2 t salt
1 c cheddar cheese, grated
1 c zucchini or summer squash, grated
3 T parsley
2 eggs
1 c buttermilk
1/4 c melted butter

Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl with a whisk. Add cheese, squash, and parsley. Toss lightly to mix. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and then whisk in the buttermilk and butter. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just blended (not smooth or anything like that). Spoon batter into greased muffin tins, filling them 3/4 full. Bake in preheated 350 degrees oven for 30 - 35 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Rolled Eggplant

I've been finding rolled eggplant recipes since I started looking for eggplant recipes. I always thought it looked like too much work. However, after trying it, I've decided it's less work than a moussaka and even eggplant parmesan.
This is a great recipe. I used my homemade tomato sauce for the sauce which I think is partly what made it so good. In the pan, it reminded me of seafood (I am blanking on which one right now) with it's creamy centers and edge of purple. We enjoyed this and I will definitely make it again.

This serves 4.
Rolled Eggplant
adapted from Williams-Sonoma Cooking from the Farmer's Market

1 1/2 lb Italian or Asian eggplant (choose the skinny kind instead of the large, fat kind), trimmed and cut lengthwise into 1/4" slices
1/4 c plus 2 T olive oil
5 oz bulk Italian sausage (or links with casings removed)2 c your favorite tomato (pasta) sauce
1 c ricotta
4 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into small pieces (or 4 oz grated mozzarella)
4 T parmesan cheese, grated
1 T parsley, chopped

Brush the eggplant with 1/4 c olive oil on both sides. Season with coarse salt. Place in a single layer on one or two baking sheets. Bake in preheated 450 degrees oven until lightly browned on bottom, about 10 minutes. Turn slices and bake another 5 - 7 minutes, until eggplant is tender but still holds together. Remove from oven and reduce oven temp to 350. (You can just turn the oven off as well).
While eggplant roasts, cook the sausage in a skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through. Stir in tomato sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix together the ricotta, mozzarella, 2 T Parmesan, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

Spread 1/2 of sauce on bottom of 9" baking dish (either round or square is fine). Place a spoonful of cheese mixture at the top of each eggplant and gently roll up. Place upright or laying down in the dish with sauce. Repeat until all eggplants are used. Spoon the remaining sauce between and on top of rolls. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. Bake in 350 degrees oven for 20 minutes, or until sauce is bubbly. Serve immediately.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Greens Adobo

Our CSA boxes are getting rather thin at this time of the summer. That's understandable. It's hot here. Since the beginning of August, we've had temperatures near or over 100 degrees every day. That's enough to stress out any plant. We hang on for the next month or so, dreaming of the greens that are going to be appearing in October/November.

This summer, dreaming of the greens hasn't been quite as far-fetched. Through non-traditional greens, we are getting small amounts of greens in our CSA boxes. It's wonderful in a summer of eggplant and a variety of peppers. Thanks to purslane (also known as a weed) and sweet potato greens, my diet isn't totally devoid of greens this summer.

Evidently, sweet potatoes greens are commonly eaten else where. Sweet potato greens are high in vitamins A, C, and Riboflavin (B2). They also contain calcium, dietary fiber, potassium, phosphorus and are high in protein. The greens are commonly eaten in West Afriaca, China, Taiwan, and the Phillipines to name a few places.

To prepare the sweet potato greens, remove them from the thick stem (the tender stem can be eaten) and string them--like string beans. I've never actually stringed them, but I may try that next time (the string is supposed to be tougher).

I adapted a Filipino recipe to use these greens. Curtis and I both like it, the kids not so much, but we'll keep working on them.

Greens Adobo
adapted from Sundays at Moosewood

3 garlic cloves, sliced
2 T olive oil
5 c sweet potato greens (or beet greens, chard, or mustard greens), washed, well drained, and chopped
2 T soy sauce
1 T white vinegar
black pepper, to taste

Heat oil in a large skillet or wok. Stir-fry the garlic until golden. Remove and set aside. Add the greens to the hot skillet and toss over high heat until wilted and at desired tenderness. Turn off the heat. Stir in the soy sauce, vinegar, black pepper, and golden garlic. Serve at once.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dr Pepper Sauce for Baby Back Ribs

Vegetarians Beware. You may want to just leave this blog now because I am about to launch into singing the praises of meat, in particular, baby back ribs coated in Dr. Pepper sauce. Curtis and I have different opinions of this sauce--I think it is about the best rib sauce ever. Curtis is not convinced--I haven't figured out why, because it really doesn't get any better than this.

Before I go much farther, I must state a small disclaimer. I did not make these ribs. Curtis did. I made the Dr. Pepper sauce that went on the ribs. Curtis made the rub, marinated the ribs overnight, smoked the ribs on the Big Green Egg, and basted the ribs with the Dr. Pepper Sauce. I made the Dr. Pepper Sauce. Thus, the recipe I share is the recipe for the Dr. Pepper Sauce, not how to smoke ribs. I, unfortunately don't know how to do that. I could learn, I suppose, but barbeque is my one chance to get Curtis to cook, so why would I learn?

The Dr. Pepper Sauce gives the ribs more of a tangy flavor than an overly sweet flavor. Plus, I just love Dr. Pepper in general and anything with Dr. Pepper in it. (Yes, I am definitely becoming a full-fledged Texan--at least I don't love Big Red yet. I think that's the last step). I used Dr. Pepper made with cane sugar this time, instead of high fructose corn syrup. I don't think it made a significant taste difference--it was more just the idea of avoiding HFCS as much as possible in my life.

Enough rambling already. Without further ado, here is Dr. Pepper Sauce for Baby Back Ribs.

Dr. Pepper Sauce for Baby Back Ribs

3 T unsalted butter,
1 T onion powder (or 1 lg onion, chopped)
1 t garlic powder (or 4 cloves garlic, chopped)
12 oz (1 3/4 c) Dr. Pepper
1 c ketchup
1/2 c apple cider vinegar
1/2 c packed dark brown sugar
1/3 c Worcestershire sauce
3 T tomato paste
2 t ground ancho or New Mexican chile powder
1 t kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. If using actual onions and garlic (not powder), add and cook until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. If using powder, add them to the butter and all the other sauce ingredients. Cook until flavors are blended and sauce begins to thicken, about 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. If you used onion and garlic, let cool 10 minutes and puree. If you used powder, just cool and store in refrigerator until you are ready to use.

Use sauce to brush on ribs for the last 15 -20 minutes of smoking time to allow sauce to caramelize. Serve sauce alongside ribs.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Purslane and Peach Salad

If you've been following this blog for awhile, you know my parents' had what I considered a massive garden when I was growing up (and they still do---just with some flowers and raspberry bushes thrown in now). One summer, I remember that we were required to work in the garden an hour every day. Most of this was spent picking off potato beetles to later drown in motor oil or pulling weeds. I spent a lot of time pulling this weed. Little did I know that some 20 years later I would be paying money to buy purslane, the weed I spent hours trying to rid my parents' garden of.

Purslane is really healthy for you from what I understand--healthier than spinach, in fact. It's high in Omega-3's. Plus, it's completely free if you have a garden to weed (just goggle it first to make sure you are in fact planning on eating purslane and not something else). I made a simple salad of ours. I saw lots of more elaborate recipes--eating purslane is more common in other cultures. I didn't feel like elaborate though and made the simplest recipe I could find that looked good: Purslane and Peach Salad.

Curtis loved it. J ate some of it (he is actually eating salads now, glory be!!). M and little I didn't, but they aren't salad eaters yet (I still have hope). Curtis loved the texture of the leaves and it wasn't too bitter (like summer arugula often is).

I found this recipe off of It's not so much of a recipe as just a few things thrown together. Perfect for a side salad that presents wonderfully and requires minimal work.

Purslane and Peach Salad

a peach (or two, depending on how much purslane you have), sliced or cut into chunks
one small red onion, thinly sliced.

Combine all ingredients. If you are using a particularly juicy peach, you won't need any dressing. Otherwise toss very lightly with good extra virgin olive oil or grapefruit balsamic vinegar (if you can find it).