Friday, October 3, 2014

Good Week for Veggies

This week was a good week for veggies.  All winners.

  • Szechuan Green Beans:  This converts even a non green bean lover to love green beans.

1 ½ lbs. green beans, stems removed, cut in half
2 T. sugar
2 T. corn starch 
2 T.  garlic, chopped
2 T. light soy sauce or Bragg's liquid amino acid
1 T. chili garlic sauce
2 T. hoisin sauce
½ t. white pepper
½ C. water

In a small bowl mix sauce ingredients.  Add washed and stemmed green beans to a 2” deep skillet or wok.  Saute in a drizzle of peanut oil and sesame oil till tender crisp.  Add sauce and heat to warm sauce and coat green beans.  Serve.
  • Mashed Potato Fake Out (Cauliflower Mashed but this time I boiled it in beef broth vs chicken broth for added flavor, drain, mash and 1 T. butter and some pepper)
  • Portabella Mushrooms Stuffed with 1T. pesto and crumbles of goat cheese:  Bake in 375 oven for 30 minutes.  Be sure to scoop out the black gills and cut off the stem.

  • Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Maple Mustard Vinaigrette:  Tossing the warm sprouts with the vinaigrette, feta and dried cranberries make for a great side dish.
Maple Mustard Vinaigrette (add all ingredients to bowl, whisk, add roasted brussels, feta and cranberries, toss)
¼ C. maple syrup
¼ C. apple cider vinegar
2 T. mustard
-Salt & Pepper

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Pancake Puff, aka Dutch Baby, German Pancake or Pop Over.. ish

This is a very easy recipe that is like a pancake and a crepe but crispy.  It is thin, light and delish but best of all it takes about 5 minutes to prepare and 30 minutes in the oven, no peeking.

3 T. butter for dish
3 egg
¾ C. non fat milk
pinch salt
¾ C. flour
¼ t. vanilla
-Maple Syrup

Preheat oven to 400°F. Add butter to 10" pie plate and put in oven to melt while it preheats. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, milk and vanilla. Add salt and flour, whisk to combine. Remove pie plate from oven and swirl butter to coat sides of pan, pour batter into pie plate. Bake 30 minutes, no peeking. Serve with maple syrup. Makes 2-4 servings depending on size and hunger.

  • If adding fillings that need to melt or bake remove after 20 minutes, top and finish baking.
  • You can see from the two pictures adding more eggs makes it puffier (above). The eggs are what give it the lift. Which makes it lighter, thinner and crispier than the savory version (below) and also the fact that you open the oven to add toppings it won't be as puffy.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Sunday Breakfast

I assembled today's breakfast yesterday early afternoon.  I made the pesto the day before and frankly didn't totally care for it but in this strata it worked out great.  This strata was creamy, moist, cheesy with the bright flavors of summer.  I haven't had a lot of luck this year with store bought tomatoes.  They are not as flavorful as my "Sweet Million" volunteer garden tomatoes but for this dish I needed slices.  Since the final layer was tomatoes however the baking process sweetened them.  Next time I'll do two things differently when it comes to the tomatoes.  Slice all 4 tomatoes to keep the prettiest ones for the top layer and use at least one more so that the top layer has them even overlapping unlike shown here.  They were just so tasty and sweet after baking that more will be better.

The original recipe came from Cuisine at Home, #58 2006, pg. 21.  I have been cooking a bunch of recipes out of them ever since I sorted them into seasons and put the summer seasons on my coffee table.  This way I can cook based on what is fresh in the stores.  I didn't make a ton of changes to the original beyond making my own pesto and using non fat milk.  The recipe called for a 2-3 quart round dish but my 2 qt. was too shallow, one layer and it was full.  It needed a deeper dish so I used my oval 3qt. dish which is 5.5" deep and 12⅝”L. 9¼”W and I still had to press it down in order to pour the egg mixture over the top.

1 loaf (1-1.5 lbs.) sourdough bread, sliced ½” slices
8 oz. cream cheese, tiny cubes
½ lb. (8 oz.) ball fresh mozzarella, tiny cubes
¾ C. pesto
16 slices (6 oz.) prosciutto, thinly sliced
1.5 lb. (5-6) roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
Whisk, pour over strata, chill:
5 eggs
1 ½ C. non fat milk
½ t. salt
½ t. coarse ground black pepper

Slice the bread into half inch slices.  Cube the cream cheese and mozzarella into tiny cubes and slice the tomatoes.  Coat a 3qt. at least 3.5 inch deep glass baking  with a good layer of nonstick spray or oil.

Layer the following in order given:
  • Half the bread slices
  • Half the cream cheese, cubed or spread on bread
  • Half the mozzarella
  • Half the pesto, spread
  • 8 slices of prosciutto
  • Half the tomato slices, the uglier ones first
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Repeat with remaining ingredients
The top layer should be covered in tomatoes, overlapping if necessary unlike my first attempt.  Press down the mixture.  Whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper.  Pour over top of tomatoes.   Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 2 hours.

When ready to cook, remove from the refrigerator 20-30 minutes before baking.  Bake 350°F for 1 hour-1 hour 15 minutes, till eggs are set.  A knife inserted should come out clean.  Let rest for 10 minutes.

Note:  Since the cream cheese doesn't really melt you want to make sure the pieces are small so you get an even layer and not a big bite of cream cheese.  Unlike the picture shown here add enough tomatoes to the top layer so it is covered, overlapping if necessary.  Here I used 1 pound which equaled 4 tomatoes.  I've increased it to 5 or 6 just cover it.  The top layer of tomatoes are sweater because of the baking process so I wanted more.

PESTO:  I tried two new pesto's the day before and I used the one I didn't like here because by the next day it mellowed out and tasted better and it worked perfectly in this dish.  You can buy it already made, use my new recipe or my standard basil pesto recipe if you like.  I'll post those recipes next.  The second new pesto I made with the soy sauce, wouldn't work here.  It was too strong from the soy but it will work great with the fish I'll be cooking this week.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Canning and Pickling is getting easier with practice

I'm not saying that it is a hard process but once you have done it a few times the nerves go away which make it easier and less stressful and the time to do it shortens.  Also since I got a new stove the time it takes to bring the huge pot of water to a boil has reduced considerably, maybe by about 15-30 minutes.  I'll have to time it next time to make sure.

Most recently I received my free bowls of apricots from my neighbor so I made quite a few differnt things like apricot butter.  The apricot butter recipe was nice because I did it in the oven and although I stirred it about every 15-20 minutes it was more relaxing than doing it on the stove top.

4 lb. apricots
½ C. water
3 T. bottled lemon juice
4 C. sugar
1 t. cinnamon
¼ t. ground allspice
¼ t. nutmeg
¼ t. salt

Clean, pit and chop apricots.  Put in a large heavy bottomed saucepan with water, and lemon juice and cook for 15-20 minutes until apricots are soft.  Using a stick blender puree fruit or if you don’t have a stick blender use a food processor or blender.  Return to pot if you removed.  Add sugar, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and salt.  Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Remove to a braising or roasting pan.  Put in oven and cook until thick about 1 1/2 - 2 hours.  Stir every 15 minutes or so it doesn’t burn or stick to the bottom and sides.  The butter is done when a sample is put on a plate and there is no rim of liquid around it.  Ladle into hot jars, wipe rims and seal.  Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.  Makes 5-6 half pint jars.

I also made a quick Apricot Pastry using last years apricot jam, this years whole apricots and puff pastry.
I used the jam along with cream cheese and a sprinkle of goat cheese for a quick appetizer.
I made this wonderful Cinnamon Apricot bread.
I added some to rum and some to brandy.
I put some in apple cider vinegar for an infused Apricot Vinegar.  And then I had had enough so I froze packages of chopped apricots in 2C portions.  

Before I made the butter I had already started for the second attempt, pickled strawberries and watermelon rind.  The first time I did pickled strawberries they were extremely sour.  Now that I have tried a new recipe I moved my first attempt recipe to the infused vinegar section.  It makes for a flavorful vinegar but eating the strawberries alone were just too sour.  Adding them to a salad helped so I didn't have to toss them out.  My second attempt resulted in sweet strawberries and I can't wait to make them again but I think I'll simplify the recipe and get rid of the 2T measurements.  Not sure why this bugs me beyond a spoon to wash but it just seems unnecessary.  This is a good June/July gift for someone during peak strawberry season.  So here is what I did the first two times.

6 – 8 fresh strawberries, stems removed, quartered
1 C apple cider vinegar
1 t salt
1 t sugar
1 sliced or halved jalapeƱo or serrano pepper
½ t whole black peppercorns
¼ t whole coriander

Add strawberries to a jar.  Mix other ingredients.  Pour over jar.


1 lb. strawberries, stemmed, halved or quartered
½ C. + 2T white balsamic vinegar
½ C. + 2T granulated sugar
½ C. + 2T water

Bring to a boil, stirring to melt sugar. Remove from heat. Wash, stem and cut in half or quarter larger strawberries. Place in a glass jar. Pour warm liquid over top. Let cool to room temperature and refrigerate overnight. Best eaten within 2 weeks.

Note: If you leave larger pieces you can skewer them with mozzarella for a twist on caprese.

Serving Suggestions: Serve over goat cheese, cream cheese, Greek yogurt, pancakes, ice cream, in salads, use the vinegar as part of the vinaigrette in place of the vinegar and sweetener, skewer with mozzarella and basil or mint, serve on toasted bread spread with cheese

Leftovers: Use vinegar liquid in salad dressings.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Caesar Mashed Potatoes, very different but tasty

It has been a bit since I posted something but that doesn't mean I haven't been trying new recipes.  I will get caught up on all the things I've tried very soon.  Like the many apricot recipes, when my neighbor dropped off two huge bowls of apricots.

Yesterdays recipe was a winner although I will try and reduce the fat next time to what I have listed below.  I was intrigued by the recipe until I started adding the 1/2 C. of oil which felt like way too much and then to add the 1/4 C. mayo I really thought it was over the top.  To my surprise they tasted rather refreshing because of the lemon.  They were not too heavy or oily and they paired perfectly with my baby lamb TBone chops and a salad.  The original recipe came from Cuisine at Home #105 May/June 2014 pg. 30.

Awhile back I made pickled strawberries so I used them for the first time in my salad and used the juice to make a dressing.  I'll add this recipe too.  They were much better than the first recipe I tried.

1 ½ lb. red potatoes
⅛ C. mayonnaise
2 cloves (1 T.) fresh garlic, minced
1 lemon, zested
1 T. lemon juice
½ t. anchovy paste
½ C. Parmesan cheese, grated
¼ t. Kosher salt
¼ t. coarse black pepper

Cut potatoes in half if large. Add to a large pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Boil for 40 minutes or until potatoes are easily split with a fork. Drain, add back to pan and add oil. Smash. Mince garlic, zest lemon. Add mayonnaise, garlic, zest, lemon juice, salt, pepper and anchovy paste. Stir. Add Parmesan, stir.

Serving Suggestions: Serve with a salad and grilled lamb chops.