Sunday, December 19, 2010

chili

I've been really struggling to find my groove with food here in Liberia - it's hard to shop, etc. Non-Liberian food is available at supermarkets, but expensive (cream cheese for $9) and hit-or-miss. Even things regularly stocked, there's no guarantee it will be there. Liberian food is sold in markets, but none seem to be walking distance from me or I can't find them. It takes knowledge that I don't yet have and time to prepare that I definitely don't have.

So, I eat a lot of fake Pringles and cheap Turkish cookies. A lot. Too many dinners.

Chili is now added to my repertoire. Note to self: if I'm carrying the bags of cans home, they're heavy.

******
Saute:
onion (4 small Liberian ones)
garlic (4 cloves)
3/4# ground beef (even the cows are skinny here: that was some lean beef)

Find a can opener (or a knife, or whatever works):
2-3 cans beans (or cook up a bag of black beans)
1 small can tomato sauce
1 large can peeled canned tomatoes (chop if whole)
1 1/2 T cumin (but I am a cumin freak)
1 tsp paprika*
1 tsp cayenne pepper*
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil leaves
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Add the beans & tomatoes & spices to the beef & onions/garlic and let it simmer for at least 15 minutes (longer is better).

I like to eat it on rice or with cornbread.

(*Or if have chili powder, use 1 1/2 Tbsp in lieu of paprika and cayenne pepper.)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Liberian-style cabbage soup

So, the secret to Liberian cooking?

Use a TON of oil, Maggi seasoning cubes, MSG, hot peppers, and boil meat and vegetables together and serve with rice.

I omitted the MSG but otherwise was pretty authentic.

*Fry chicken in about 1/2" of oil. (I used two large chicken legs, and it took a long time until it seemed nearly done.)

Remove chicken.

Add chopped* onions (3 small), garlic (5 cloves), peppers (4 long hot ones) to the oil.
Toss in a couple of bouillon cubes and a small can of tomato paste.
Allow to saute over low-medium heat until onions are transparent.

Add chopped cabbage. (I used a small head, but I needed at least twice that much.) Saute for a few minutes. When cabbage starts to wilt, add back the chicken and allow to cook over med-low heat for about 30 minutes, until the cabbage softens and flavors meld.

Chicken should fall off the bones, which is how I like it, but pull chicken out earlier if you don't like it so soft.

Serve with rice.


*Liberians use a mortar and pestle to pound the peppers, onion, and garlic. The flavor is superior that way to chopped, but I use what I got.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

lentil soup

Eating in Liberia ain't cheap or easy, I'm finding.

Going back to lentils, this soup was pretty tasty (based on Alton Brown).

Saute:
onion (I used two very small ones)
garlic (a few cloves)
carrot, chopped
a bit of seasoning salt

When onions are translucent, add:
chopped tomatoes (3 small)
1 pound lentils
2 quarts broth (I put in 2 quarts water and 4 bouillon cubes - too much bouillon, too salty)
cumin (1 tsp: but I forgot it this time and it was fine)
coriander (1/2 tsp: also forgot)
grains of paradise (which I have yet to find)

Bring to a boil, then to a simmer for 35-40 minutes.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

smoked fish and potatoes

I have no idea what I'm doing here, but I grabbed some potatoes and smoked fish (most likely mackerel) at the grocery store, and doggone it sounds good, so here goes:

*Steam the potatoes until pretty done.

*Debone the fish.

*Saute onion and garlic in oil. When soft, add in the fish.

Eat the fish on the potatoes, topped with yogurt (which is all i have ... should have picked up some sour cream).

I'll eat it with stewed okra & tomatoes ... and now I'm very hungry!

I'm in Liberia!

While it's possible to eat from a supermarket here if one's tastes go towards $15 per box cheerios and $7.50 bags of M & Ms (I spent a long time staring at those before leaving them behind), I'm cheap.

Fortunately I can eat out a lot for a good price. Well, I can eat out for a very expensive price, but what I'm finding is that I would much rather pay $2 for cook shop Liberian food than $20 for western food such as chicken quesadillas (they're actually only $9 or so I think, but most things are quite expensive). There's a fellow in the office with a hookup of a nearby woman who will even deliver, so some days that's perfect (though, if I'm too busy to go out to lunch, I'm likely too busy to eat - and I got scolded seriously for not sharing when the food was delivered).

Liberian diet is VERY rice heavy. Which for me is great! I find it interesting how the quality of the rice varies so much depending on where you eat. At an expensive restaurant it's perfectly white, but less expensive has some grains with dark ends (burned?), etc. Of course I like the cheap stuff. The diet is a lot of greens (potato greens, cassava leaves, and numerous other kinds I can't think of right now), very spicy with these tiny peppers that pack a punch. People add pepper sauces made of these peppers. Into the greens or soups of whatever sort (my least favorite is palava which is made I think with jute leaves that are slimy) are put chunks of fish, chicken, and beef - usually all three in one bowl. Liberians cook with a LOT of oil and Maggi seasoning cubes.

So, the challenge for me will be: a varied, healthy diet. I won't be eating the chicken quesadillas on a regular basis, but I will be going for the potato greens. In my own cooking I will experiment a lot with the local fish: I need to find a good supplier and then have my way with it.

There aren't a lot of sweets here except for fruit: year-round is bananas and pineapple, and I missed mango season sadly. Peanuts are another snack sold regularly, and I used to see fresh peanut butter at the refugee camp though I haven't seen it around here yet.

And so my culinary adventures begin!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

cocoa banana muffins

From here. Very yummy!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup applesauce (or substitute vegetable oil)
1 egg
1 cup sugar
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup cocoa
1-1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F. Cream applesauce, egg, sugar and banana. Stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into greased muffin tins. Bake for 25 minutes. Makes 1 dozen muffins.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

a must-try bread recipe!

No, I do not feel like baking bread when the temperature soars to double digits. Usually at this time of the year, I'm eating off the few loaves I baked during the last nice days before summer hit full-force. This year didn't really work out that way.

But this recipe intrigues me and I cannot wait to try it when we bump back down to double digit temperatures.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Crockpot Sweet and Sour Pork

Mmm...it smells so good! I've made this for dinner, and it's been stewing wonderfully today, waiting for Shelton to get home from class so we could eat this together for dinner tonight. =)

Pictures of food in a crockpot aren't as nice looking as those that are plated, but I guarantee you that this smells heavenly. It's not the traditional Panda Express type of sweet and sour pork that one may envision when they hear "sweet and sour pork"...it's a different type, and not really Chinese either, ha ha. But if it tastes as good as it smells, it's a winner and keeper in my recipe book! =)

I got it online. =) Anyway, here's the way I made it, and you can make it too! =)

Ingredients:
- 1.5 to 2 pounds of Country Style Pork Shoulder meat
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped up.
- 1/2 an onion, chopped up.
- 1 can of pineapple chunks (20 oz); you will need 3/4 Cup of the juice.
- 1/4 Cup of Rice Vinegar (or cider vinegar)
- 1/4 Cup of water
- 1/4 Cup of brown sugar, packed
- 1 Tbsp. of light soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp. of starch
- 1/2 tsp. of salt (to taste)

Directions:

1. Place the pork, bell pepper, and onion in the crockpot.
2. Mix well everything else except for the pineapple chunks in a bowl, and add it into the crockpot. Save the pineapple chunks in the fridge.
3. Turn the crockpot onto low and cook for 8 hours.
4. At about 45 minutes left of cooking, add the pineapples in.
5. Serve with hot rice! =)

Lemon-Fig Cake


Lemon and Fig Cake
Originally uploaded by gummychild
Made these mini cakes for my mom's birthday last weekend! ^_^ They were delicious, and not too sweet (she always complains that baked items are way too sweet, hee hee...), so it was perfect!

Because I didn't have a full cake pan and baked them in mini sized ones, they were kinda like giant muffins...but still good, and would be extra tasty with coffee, tea, or hot cocoa. ^_^

This is from Martha Stewart's little magazine book of recipes, Everyday Food, the Holiday Baking 2007 Edition. =)

Ingredients:

- 1/2 Cup olive oil
- 1/2 Cup milk
- 1 large egg
- 1-1/2 Cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 Cup sugar (I used only 1/2 a cup)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 package (about 7-10 ounces) of dried figs, stemmed and coarsely chopped up (about 1-1/2 Cups)
- 1-1/2 teaspoons of finely grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Brush a 9" tart pan with a removable bottom with some oil, or use a cake pan lined with parchment paper on the bottom.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk the oil, milk, and egg.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

4. Add the milk mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients and stir until smooth. Don't overmix! Gently fold in the figs and lemon zest.

5. Spread the batter into the pan, and set the pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes.

6. Cool in the pan for about 15 minutes before unmolding the cake onto a wire rack to cool completely. To serve, cut into wedges. The cake can be stored, wrapped well in plastic, at room temperature for up to one day.

Papaya Milkshake


Papaya Milkshake (1)
Originally uploaded by gummychild
A really tasty smoothie for a hot day like today! =)

Ingredients:
- 1 ripe papaya, scooped out into pieces with a spoon
- 3 Cups of milk
- 2 Cups of crushed ice
- 7-8 teaspoons of sugar (to taste, really)
- cinnamon
- mint leaves to garnish

Directions:

Use a blender to blend everything except for the cinnamon and mint leaves together (be careful! Remember that blenders can go crazy if you fill it all the way up...about halfway up is good, and if you need to do this in batches, that's fine too).

Serve with a dash of cinnamon sprinkled on top of the foam that will naturally be made, and top with a sprig of mint for some color, pizazz, and flavor. =) We didn't have any mint leaves available, but I think it would be nice. =)

We served ours in martini glasses, but this will serve beautifully in a tall glass as well! =)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

blueberry crunch

I grew up in southeast Alaska, in the Tongass National Forest. Our house was surrounded by trees and berry bushes - countless salmonberries and blueberries. We made a ton of jelly and jam (which my sister sold to cruise ship passengers when they docked - we always laughed when they would ask this very blond, green-eyed girl if she was Eskimo - which of course also shows lack of geographic knowledge).

This recipe, from family friends, is one of my very favorite things to do with wild blueberries. Yes, "regular" blueberries are fine, but wild blueberries have a special deeper more intense flavor that make me go wild.

SITKA COMFORT FOOD

Mix and then put in 9 x 13 cake pan:
4 cups blueberries (1 quart)
~ 1/2 c sugar
3 T flour

Combine, then dab atop the berries:
1/2 c brown sugar
1 1/2 c flour
1 c oatmeal
1/2 c butter (originally she called for 1 c, but I find the lesser amount is fine)
1 tsp vanilla

Bake 40 minutes at 375 degrees. Enjoy with vanilla ice cream.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

okra soup

An impending move has me seriously examining the contents of my freezer, knowing I need to empty it. I've spent the past year filling it with all sorts of treasures, so this is a challenge for me. But also a fun challenge!

Fry pancetta or bacon (alternatively, use cubed meat and/or a soup bone). Then saute onion & garlic & chopped peppers (bell and/or spicy).

Add in vegetables. I shall add:
*okra, frozen
*corn, frozen
*green beans, frozen
*spinach, frozen
*diced tomatoes, canned
*1 c tomato juice

Add enough stock/water/whey/bouillon to cover. Cook 30 minutes or so.

Season to taste with salt, pepper, herbs & spices. Probably a dash of salt and a few grinds of lemon pepper will satisfy me (and cayenne if no hot peppers).

New Orleans style cabbage

I spent New Year's Day at my friend Laura's house, where we had the traditional black-eyed peas (which she made "jerk") and cabbage. This cabbage was soooo good that I had to ask her how she made it. Yeah, an entire container of parmesan. Yeah. No wonder it's tasty!

So since I'm spending Easter tomorrow with Ruby's family, where I have not seen a lot of vegetables, I figured this would be a good way to finish off my parmesan - with moving, I'm in OPERATION: EMPTY FREEZER AND REFRIGERATOR, so this will do that ... and the breadcrumbs in the freezer ... and the cabbage in the crisper ... So, here are her directions.

What makes this New Orleans style? Well, her mimaw is from New Orleans, and she probably got this from an Italian neighbor at some point. But what REALLY makes this a New Orleans-style vegetable is that all the additions essentially negate all the positives of eating vegetables!

There's no particular recipe for the cabbage but I can give you a general idea. I cut the cabbage up into small strips and cooked it down with a little bit of olive oil, an onion, and some garlic. Once that's done, start mixing in Italian style breadcrumbs until it becomes a little pasty. You can add the cheese at this point. After that, I put it in a casserole dish, threw a little more cheese on top, and baked it on 350 for 30 minutes or so to get the top a little crunchy.


I hope that all makes sense. It's one of those things I picked up from Mimaw and she never had any measurements for it.

Note:  When my friend made it, it was really good.  When I made it, not so much.  I won't be making it again, but will enjoy at future parties.

Monday, March 29, 2010

canning lids!

These were as a Facebook ad and I'm so glad to have seen them!

They are Tattler reusable canning lids. I can be a bit of a canning fiend, but I get annoyed that I have to buy new lids each time. Sure, they're less than 10 cents a piece, but one of the benefits of canning is that you save money by reusing containers. So, I'm super excited to see that I have options!!

Friday, March 26, 2010

collards with ham hock

When I moved to the South, I took to okra immediately - it grows like crazy in my backyard and I cook it in various wonderful iterations, then pickle, freeze, and dry it and enjoy it. I am not in the least bit self-conscious of my okra affinity.

But collards? Truth be told, they're more complicated. Oftentimes when I would have them, they were too fatty for me and too doctored up. I wanted collards without the fancy dressing up, darn it.

But shortly after I moved here, I tried cooking my own collards to my own specifications. And honey child, they were atrocious. Bitter and tough (perhaps from the supermarket and not really fresh) and BLECH! And I gave up for the time being.

Now though, I feel more sure about my southern cooking repertoire, and so I tried again when I picked up some beautiful greens from the Farmers Market. And they're so good I think I might eat the whole darn pot today! Fortunately they're darn good for me - and here is an interesting article on their history & nutrition.

***
Put one smoked ham hock in a large pot of liquid. (The liquid can be broth or water or whey from yogurt making, which is what I used.) Boil it to get the flavor of the ham hock in the liquid. (I boiled it about two hours, and truthfully this was too long because that flavor is too dominant. Next time I'll boil it maybe 1/2 hour, then pull out the ham hock and set it aside to use for something else later.)

While that is simmering, clean your greens. Generally for cleaning greens such as collards, you need to do a fair amount of dunking in a big tub of water and rinsing. They do trap dirt. Then chop the greens. I keep almost all the stem (just trimming off the bottom bit). I take a big bunch of collards and roll them together and chop through all the stems then on up to the leaves.

When the ham hock is falling apart, add the collards to the broth and stir well. (If they won't all fit, add what you can then let it wilt down a bit and then add the rest.)

Simmer for about 45 minutes. The collards are a tough bunch, and they need the time to break down the bitterness and fiber. The long cooking (usually I lightly cook vegetables so this goes against my intuition) is actually important to release nutrients as well.

Flavor to taste. Definitely taste before salting! The smoked ham hock was super salty to me. I had just finished a jar of pickled okra and tossed in the garlic & peppers from that jar, as well as a bit of the vinegar.

Enjoy! I ate on "Jazzmen" rice (also super good with cornbread) with a good dash of Crystal hot sauce on top. And oh soul, so good!

The liquid left from cooking greens is called "pot likker" and is super tasty and nutritious. You can sop it up with cornbread or rice, or you can save it and use as a soup base.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

strawberry honey jam

(originally posted on other blog March, 2009)

Pre-work: prepare the jars & lids. Wash them well, then put them in separate pans. You want to boil the jars to get them very sterile, but do not boil the lids because that can destroy the sealing rubber gasket part. Get the lids to a simmer then turn off the heat; boil the jars about 10 minutes and then keep them in the pot. You'll use the same pot to boil them in later when they're full of jam, so don't dump the water out. [I have a problem with a film developing on the jars when they boil - my guess is from minerals in the water. Will need to figure it out.]



Then, wash the strawberries. Be gentle. Get organic strawberries, or at least unsprayed, so you're only washing to get off dirt, leaves, etc. Dry on a clean tea towel. Let them get to room temperature so that their flavor is very full.



Then, hull them. I take the stem off with my fingers, then use a huller for the tough attachment part. (Can also use a knife, but I find that seems to take off too much of the good berry.)



Slice until you think you'll have about 4 cups mashed (my best guess is about 2 1/2 pints). (You probably don't have to slice before mashing, but I think it makes the mashing easier.)



Then mash, leaving some yummy big chunks but getting out the juice. Measure into a pan to be sure you have 4 cups. {*I do multiple batches as well - see below.}


Get out your other supplies. I use Pomona's Universal Pomona because it doesn't require table sugar and has fantastic customer service (yeah, I've called twice). I use local honey because it tastes like ambrosia. I've never been all that into honey before, but this Westwego (on the West Bank) honey from Mynick's farm pushes me into paroxysms of pleasure. And the combination of local strawberries and honey is so wonderful!



The directions are clear for Universal Pectin, which I appreciate. You have to make "calcium water" (just adding some liquid to water to keep in a jar). You add 2 tsp of that to your 4 c of mashed berries, and then add 2 tsp from the other packet (pectin) to however much honey you want to use (I use 1/2 c to 3/4 c of honey per 4 cups of strawberries.)


Bring the fruit to boil while stirring so the bottom doesn't burn. Then add the honey mixture, stirring well to dissolve the pectin. Return to a boil and then remove from heat.

Fill the jars to 1/4" of top (it really helps to have a canning funnel). Wipe the rims clean, screw on the two piece lids, and put the jars in the boiling water to cover. Boil five minutes if you're at (or below, in my case) sea level, longer at higher altitude. Remove with the special tool for that (jar handler tool) and set on a towel on the counter to cool. For four cups of mashed berries, I filled three 1/2 pint jelly jars and then a larger jar that isn't for canning to use as fridge jam (I sterilized the jar & lid and will keep in fridge and use up right away).



And then you have jam! Yum! It's fantastic to eat throughout the year, and I especially like it in homemade yogurt.

****
It is definitely possible to quadruple batches with this pectin (as long as you have enough pots, etc.).

3/24/09 - A whole flat of strawberries yielded about 18 1/2 c mashed strawberries (probably more but I measured generously). I put in about 2 1/2 c honey and 10 teaspoons each of calcium water and pectin.

It made 7 pints plus an applesauce jar, a jam jar, and another glass container I use for food leftovers.

****
3/23/10 - A whole flat yielded about 17 c mashed berries (yeah, I nibbled on quite a few), which yielded 9 pint jars of jam plus a little bit.

Monday, March 22, 2010

super simple apple dip

I am not much for sauces, but I'm a fiend for a good dip. I can eat bushels of raw vegetables with a fresh ranch dip (OK, now I'm craving ...). For Thanksgiving the hostess served (amongst 3,000 other things) sliced apples with caramel dip, and I could not stop gorging myself. If I had any shame, I would be embarrassed, but it had probably been years since I'd had caramel.

On my recent monster roadtrip, I munched apples and carrots along the way, and when I replenished I bought a big bag of Trader Joe's already-sliced apples, which was a LOT of apples. It got me craving caramel but all the recipes I saw were rather elaborate and for huge quantities.

But then I thought of dulce de leche and OH SNAP was that ever easy. All you need is a can of sweetened condensed milk (which I happened to have on hand for Vietnamese coffee) and a large pot!

****
Place the unopened can of sweetened condensed milk in a large pot, covered with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a bubbling simmer for about 90 minutes. (Many people said 3 hours or so, but 90 minutes was a perfect consistency and who wants to boil for three hours??)

Be sure to keep the can covered with water (or it could explode). Mine didn't need water replenishment, but if you boil longer or harder it could.

Remove can from water and let cool. Open can, pour in to container and serve. I liked it warm and also chilled.

Note: This is a lot of sugar and fat and calories. Share!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

revolution, shmevolution

Jamie Oliver, eff you.

I just watched two minutes of "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution" and I am revolted. I agree with this person. But let me up the discontent.

Do not call grown women "girls." Don't call the head cook a "lunch lady" and say you "love these girls." They're old enough to be your mother or more, and you need to show them respect.

Learn to show respect in general, asshat. Stop the self-righteous crap. Stop saying things like "Pizza for breakfast and chicken nuggets for lunch. Welcome to America."

Here are the problems with that statement. First, all Americans do not eat that way so stop being an ignorant bigot - Alice Waters is very American as well, thanks. Second, Brits don't eat any better, and their food tastes worse. Third, England has an obesity epidemic as well, so why not preach where people don't think you sound like a moron, with your pretentiously mussed hair? Fourth, you are portly, Jamie Oliver. If Eva Longoria wants to give nutrition advice, I would listen to her because she's lean. You have a belly that would turn Jenny on. Fifth, our entire food system is on its head because of whackadoo subsidies that make fast food and crap considerably cheaper than healthier food. Poor people don't have arugula cash (says the woman who just ate rice and beans, again).

Oh, I can go on and on, and maybe I just caught an awful couple of minutes. But anybody who comes in and disrespects Head Cook Alice - well, off with his head. Asshat.

I know that I'm a food elitist. Absolutely. I choose local, organic foods because I know they make me feel better, and I break down for "junk" only rarely. I am obsessive about my nutritional choices. But I don't expect or demand that of others. No revolution can be crammed down other people's throats.

We need a food revolution, but this? THIS is not how to do it, Jamie Oliver. You will just divide our country further, and I hope they tar and feather you.

We do need a food revolution in our country, but THIS is most certainly not it.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

goat and collards

Seeking to clear my refrigerator and freezer, I shall assemble a West African-style "soup." Sorry for the lack of measurements - I just empty up what I have.

*onion, chopped
*garlic
*goat meat, chopped
*peppers - bell or chili (in Liberia, they mash the garlic & chili peppers in a mortar/pestle - not chop. Makes the flavor richer)
*(celery)
*collards, one bunch, cleaned thoroughly and chopped; and/or other greens (such as mustard greens, cabbage, etc.)
*okra (frozen is fine)
*diced tomatoes (a can; or some tomato paste, juice, sauce, etc. - the acid helps tenderize the goat and adds a great flavor)
*other vegetables as desired including carrots, potatoes, yams, etc.
*stock (I use whey from yogurt making and homemade stock)
*seasonings to taste (salt, pepper - in Liberia they use a lot of MSG, which I do not; can also blend in a couple tablespoons of peanut butter toward the end of cooking)

Saute onion, garlic, peppers, and celery (if desired) over medium-low heat in peanut oil. (High heat will burn garlic and make it bitter.)

Add in goat meat and brown it. (Or remove the first ingredients and brown the goat alone)

Put that in a crock pot with the rest of the ingredients, add stock to cover, and let cook for several hours. The goat needs a long time to cook in order to tenderize, and that won't hurt the collards (I would use a tough green like collards rather than spinach for that reason, and any other vegetables added should be hearty as well to avoid turning to mush) - and the long time will help the flavors meld and the okra adds a great body.

Goes great on rice!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

gumbo z'herbes

Gumbo is a wonderful medley of cultures and flavors which thrives in the melting pot of New Orleans. I never turn down a gumbo, and have been told I make a damn fine roux especially for a girl from Alaska.

A special gumbo is gumbo z'herbes, which is made with a variety of different greens. In true New Orleans fashion, you cook 'em down with some meat and serve it up on rice. But that description does not do it justice.

I've only had it once, served up by Leah Chase. And if I were not atheist, I have no doubt there would be angels singing. It was one of those transcendent moments and took my breath away. It is that amazing.

The thing is, it's not a common dish. Traditionally it's only made for Good Friday and without meat. Being in New Orleans though, meat got added back in, and now it's more of a Lenten dish in general.

Know what time it is now? It's LENT! And I want me some gumbo z'herbes! And I want to see my friends. So I thought I'd invite Eve over to help me make it and we'd have a few friends over ... but then I thought, "Hm. Why not invite a whole bunch of people!" And suddenly I'm thinking of needing more bowls and bigger pots.

The thing about gumbo z'herbes is that you need like 15 types of greens - so it sure seems easy to me to make up a whole lot. And on rice, with some French bread - not too expensive to make. I'm always buying all kinds of greens anyway. Sure wish I'd grown more ... oh well. That's why we have farmers markets.

So, here's a recipe that's an amalgamation of a whole bunch of different types, and I will likely do something quite similar (though I want to get to 15 greens! They say however many types of greens in is how many new friends you'll make that year):

11 types greens

1 small bunch arugula
1 small bunch kale
1 bunch kohlrabi
1 bunch beet greens
1 bag spinach
1 bunch mustard greens
1 bunch collard greens
1 bunch swiss chard
1 bunch bok choi
1/2 head cabbage
1/2 head iceberg lettuce

(other types greens one can use: carrot greens, chicory, watercress, pepper grass, turnip greens, radish greens, nasturtiums, etc.)

meats

1 1/2 pounds andouille
1 pound cooked beef brisket
1/2 pound tasso
(can also use ham, stew meat, pickle pork)
1 pound bacon, cooked and drippings saved to make roux
1 cup flour for roux

seasonings

1 chopped onion
1 chopped bell pepper
4 stalks chopped celery
garlic
1 large bunch chopped shallots
1 bunch chopped parsley
1 bunch fennel
4 minced jalapenos
3 tablespoons vinegar
salt, pepper, hot sauce

How to make it

Strip the leaves off all the greens, removing the woody stems. Soak in large bowl in cold water, drain, soak again until the water runs clear. Stuff all the greens (omit the shallots) in a large stock pot and add 2 quarts water. Cover and steam until wilted, about 30 minutes. Drain greens and reserve the liquid (pot likker!) and chop greens fine or use a blender (blender is the preferred method). Fry off the bacon, remove then add about a cup of flour to the bacon drippings and make a roux. Once roux is ready add the chopped seasonings (celery, bell pepper, onion, shallots, jalapenos, garlic). Cut the meats (andouille, bacon, tasso, brisket) into small pieces and place in stock pot. After the seasonings are translucent, add to the stock pot with pot likker, and meats, and bring to a boil. Add the greens, parsley, fennel, salt pepper, vinegar and hot sauce, bring to a boil then simmer until thick. Serve over rice or grits, with some cornbread on the side.

Moroccan oranges

I saw these on the blog of a friend of a friend, and couldn't pass them up. I'll just copy it word for word and someday for a special occasion make them (because now, this is more sugar than I eat in six months!): (and yes, see labels, I know that Morocco is not in the Middle East - but this seems something that would be served there ...)

Chantal's Mother Moroccan oranges

This is what you need

4 oranges
1 cup of honey
1cup of sugar
whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks (1 for the syrup and the other broken in half for the jars)
2 1-pint jars
and what I have added over the years which is of course, optional

A couple of fresh orange or lemon leaves, washed and dried
and a dash of Grand Marnier or Cointreau

Wash the oranges well with hot water to make sure they are completely clean. Remember, you will be eating the whole orange here. Slice the oranges into 1/3 inch slices. I normally use medium size oranges so they will fit nicely into a wide mouth pint jar. In a large frying pan for instance, place the sliced oranges and cover with water. Simmer at the lowest heat for about 20 minutes or until you can pierce the skin easily. Don't let them get too soft or the effect won't be the same. Firm but tender is the operative word here.

Drain them and then lay them flat on a cooling rack. I leave them out overnight covered with a piece of saran wrap. The following morning stick a whole clove in each slice and set aside. Now mix the honey and sugar to make a syrup. Bring the syrup to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer. Add 1 cinnamon stick and reserve the other. Carefully add the orange slices into the pan and simmer for another 20 to 30 minutes.

Now comes the fun part. I cook with tongs and I would be completely useless without them, but I am sure a slotted spoon or even a fork, providing you use it horizontally as you would a spatula, would make your job easy; You have to be careful as they break easily at this point, arrange them into layers into the 2 pint jars. Divide the syrup among the jars and add the cinnamon sticks. Wipe the edge of the jar clean and either add a citrus leaf to each, or a dash of liqueur. They are perfect without either but they are superb with both.

Serve with creme fraiche, or some of Trader Joe's French Village vanilla yoghurt. And then come back to tell me where your unicorn took you.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

needing protein

So, I'm kind of over meat.

I was a vegetarian a long time and then when I moved to an Eskimo village and my dietary choices limited significantly (dry fish with seal oil? or corned caribou?), so I started eating meat and never looked back. I realized I function best with a good deal of protein.

And so I became a meat eater. But, I'm kind of over it now. Being in touch with my inner Asian, I've been putting little bits in vegetable dishes for flavor, but the texture and feel of meat itself as a star of a dish? Rarely excites me. And i thought it was just a problem with my cooking, but now I don't think so.

So, I'm needing new and exciting ways to get enough protein.

Eggs I will eat sometimes, but I tire of them pretty quickly.
Yogurt is a staple but not a satisfying food (better as a dessert).
Legumes are a frequent part of my diet, often with a little bit of meat.
I would eat fish but I don't like the local fish and good wild Pacific salmon and halibut is way too expensive. And the shellfish here always makes me ill. I do eat tuna in moderation (ah, the mercury fears).
I do eat nuts and seeds, but they're way high in calories for the protein they provide.
I also take the whey from yogurt making and use it in soups and breads - I'm hoping that ups their protein content.

Other ideas?? I'm the queen of variety and cannot stand food routines ...

Monday, March 1, 2010

roasted asparagus

Honestly I've never been a big fan of asparagus. I make myself eat it because I think I should like it and it's very healthy, but steamed? Ick. There's a particular taste component that repulses me. I'll eat it when prepared as an appetizer wrapped in goat cheese, bacon, and dates ... but not regularly!

But roasted? Oh, baby. THAT is another story. I discovered roasting vegetables last year, and there has been no turning back. So I thought, why not? Oh, yum. Oh, yum, yum, yum. The roasting kills that icky taste and I'm a happy asparagus-muncher.

****
asparagus
olive oil
salt (I used Himalayan pink freshly ground) - go light on the salt - I find the roasting really emphasizes the saltiness
pepper (freshly ground - I used lemon pepper)
dried red chili pepper flakes

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Wash and dry the asparagus. Snap off the woody ends as necessary.

Spread out on a baking sheet single layer and spray with olive oil. (If you have no spray oil, you can roll it around in a plastic bag or bowl with about 1 T to 1 bunch asparagus - to lightly coat t.)

Sprinkle salt, pepper, and pepper flakes on top.

Bake 10-20 minutes, depending on size and how you like them. (I like 'em crispy, so I go full time.) Stir every 5 minutes or so.

Enjoy!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Curried Potato and Onion Curry

also from Aarti!

4 T olive or canola oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 large onion, diced
a few curry leaves
1-4 green Thai chilies (per preference)
2 pounds russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes & submerged in bowl of cool water to prevent browning
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
2 T chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add the mustard seeds, then once they beign to pop add the cumin seeds which which will turn reddish.

Toss in the onion, ginger-garlic paste, curry leaves and green chilies. Stir fry for two minutes.

Cover pan and cook 15-18 minutes.

Drain potatoes and add to the pan. Add salt and turmeric. Stir. Add 1 cup of water and cover the pan. Cook until potatoes are tender, 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the cilantro and serve.

Carrot, Cucumber, Onion Salad with Lime Dressing

from Aarti!

1 c grated carrots
1 cucumber, peeled & diced
1/4 onion, minced
1/4 green pepper, diced
4 T lime juice
1 tsp sugar
salt & pepper to taste
chopped fresh cilantro
chopped peanuts to garnish (optional)

Add carrots, cucumber, onions, and pepper to bowl.

In another bowl mix together the lime juice, sugar, salt, and pepper to taste. Add vegetables and toss. Garnish with chopped peanuts and fresh cilantro.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Time magazine article here on French school lunches. Love it!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Chicken Breast with Colorful Veggies in a Butter-White Wine ReductionSauce

I have no idea what to call this dish, hee hee...so the title just kind of names it. =)

I made chicken breasts again, similar to the paillard recipe from before, but modified it just a little. I'm not normally a fan of chicken breasts - I'm a dark meat girl - but I do have to admit that I can cook it so that it's moist and tasty. =)

The ingredients were completely eyeballed and thrown in together based on my own judgment, so...I'll do my best to give estimates, but honestly...most of the time, I just, as Toucan Sam says, "Follow my nose!". ^_^

Take one chicken breast and split it in half (or use two whole ones; up to how many you want to make), and season with salt and black pepper. In a cast iron skillet, heat up about a tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high. When it's hot, place your chicken on the skillet and let it cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side (*note: these were pretty thick).

Meanwhile, blanch one bunch of asparagus that you've trimmed and chopped into sections in boiling water. Drain, and set aside.

Slice one red bell pepper, dice a sprig of green onion, and chop up some white mushrooms.

When the chicken is seared well on both sides, and mostly cooked, add in about a tablespoon of unsalted butter, and let it melt in the skillet in the spaces where the chicken is not found. Also scrape off any chicken bits and let the butter mix with the juices and bits. Add in about 1/2 a cup of chicken broth (or mix chicken bouillon with water...depends on what you have) and all the veggies that were cut up, and mix the veggies and liquid well. Keep the chicken in the hot liquid on one side of the skillet as everything cooks. =)

TK and Bev left us a bottle of zinfandel...yay! That means Shelton and I can cook with some white wine, since we don't drink (plus, add in some wine to my diet and I'm sure Aiva will sleep for a little too long, hahahaha...!). How fun! So I added in some of the zinfandel, probably only about a tablespoon and some, and let the sauce reduce until about half, maximum.

Season with a pinch or two of kosher salt to your desire, stir well, and the dish is ready after all the veggies are cooked (which to me, means that it's still got some crunch, but definitely not raw!).

Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of this dish plated with jasmine rice, the chicken on one side, and veggies on the other, with the sauce drizzled on the chicken (and some on the rice, because the sauce was really tasty!). However, you'll have to trust me that it was really colorful, and delicious for the eyes as well as the mouth. Bon appetit! =)

Chicken Salad in Phyllo Cup


Quick chicken salad made from what I had on hand:

- 1 Chicken breast, diced into small pieces and poached.
- 1 apple, diced.
- 2-3 stalks of celery, cleaned, stripped and diced.
- 4 thin slices of deli honey ham, torn into pieces by hand (or you can dice)
- A handful of raisins
- 1 Tablespoon of light mayo (or more based on your preference)
- Toasted sesame seeds
- Salt and pepper

Mix everything together, and season to taste. =) Place in the refrigerator and serve when ready.

I tried to make a phyllo cup to place our salad in, only, as you can see, it kinda collapsed in the oven.

Collapsed Phyllo Cup...
Originally uploaded by gummychild

However, it was still fun to put the chicken salad on top, and breaking it up with our forks over dinner and mixing it well with our chicken salad. It gave it all a nice, crunchy texture, hee hee...

The salad itself was really refreshing and light! Not heavy at all, and the apples and raisins made it more fruity than a usual chicken salad. If I had a lemon, I'd squeeze some lemon juice in it for some zing. ^_^ The apples didn't oxidize, and I'm guessing it's because of the mayo because it would block its exposure to oxygen.

Monday, February 15, 2010

cabbage & pancetta with linguini

Better than it sounds!! Very yummy and really hits the spot when I'm craving pasta and vegetables.

From here, with few modifications.

Saute until crispy brown:
Pancetta (I used about 2/3 of a package from Whole Foods) or bacon

Lower heat and add:
1/2 c chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
black pepper

Saute a bit, then add in:
1/2 cabbage, chopped

Stir up and let cook well, preferably until cabbage browns.

While that is cooking, boil water and cook linguini to directions. (I like a lot of cabbage to a little pasta, but do the amount you would like.)

Mix together, top with some grated parmesan and butter (*see below), and enjoy!

***
*When I cooked this, I used some leftover bacon grease in a cast iron skillet; between that & the pancetta, there was plenty of fat for flavor so no need to add butter or much cheese.

Friday, February 12, 2010

banana bread

I have a bunch of bananas from a friend from our last freeze - I think they are ready for consumption, but they're a funky kind. Friend called them "Mexican bananas" but I see no description for that on-line; said friend said they're not as sweet and have a nice lemony flavor. Well, I have no idea what to expect, and I fear they're very starchy, but I don't want them to go to waste! I like banana bread a lot, but I'm not fond of it being too sweet or too fatty. So, I shall make this up! (Note: And it TURNED OUT GREAT!! Exactly what I wanted!!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees; grease 1 bread pan.

Combine & set aside:
1 1/2 c flour (3/4 white all purpose and 3/4 c whole wheat pastry)
1/2 c oats
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Cream:
1/2 c sugar (white or brown)
1/4 c (4 T) butter, softened

Add in:
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 c - 1 c yogurt*
1/4 - 1/2 c applesauce*

Add flour mixture in.

Mash: 2-3 very ripe bananas. Add in to mixture.

Add (if desired):
1/2 c chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts)
1/2 c chocolate chips or nibs

Bake for about an hour, until done.

*Honestly I didn't measure the yogurt & applesauce - just thawed frozen little containers. Whatever I used (probably to the upper level) was great - but the bananas were very starchy and didn't produce my liquid. So if I were using more and juicier bananas, I would use the lower limits of these probably.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Cafe Style Seafood Rice


Cafe Style Seafood Rice
Originally uploaded by gummychild
This dish is easy to make, and nothing super fancy, but it's great over rice or pasta...if you really want to make it Hong Kong cafe style, you can toss some cheese on top and broil the whole plate, but I opted to leave that out.

Ingredients:

- 1 Can Cream of Mushroom soup (plus milk and water to make the soup)- 1 fillet of fish (I used a big fillet of Mekong Basa, but any sole/white fish will work)- 4 sticks of imitation crab, frozen
- 8 fish balls (these are usually frozen, pounded rounds of fish meat, usually make with either threadfin bream fish, pollock, or other fish...not the balls of a certain animal, as Victor may have thought about "meatballs" and/or "fishballs" in his pho soup noodles, hee hee...)
- 1/2 a bunch of asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch sections
- Salt & Pepper
- Some flour or starch

Directions:

1. Slice the fish fillet into bite size sections, and season with a little bit of salt (I used very little, as we'll be using a canned soup later anyways, and they have enough sodium!) and black pepper. Coat/dredge the fish pieces in either flour or starch.

2. Add a few teaspoons of oil to a saute pan, and when heated up, add the fish into the pan. Lower the heat to about medium, and watch carefully to be sure the fish is cooked through. Flip and turn the fish as each side cooks up.

3. Meanwhile...in a small saucepan, cook the cream of mushroom according to directions. I like to add in half a can of water and half a can of milk (and a little bit more milk) to make the "sauce" a little creamier. =) Do stir the soup once in a while to make sure it's not getting too hot!

4. Boil another saucepan of water, and toss the asparagus, frozen fish balls, and frozen crab sticks into the boiling water. Remove when cooked. Set the asparagus aside. Slice the fish balls in half and set aside. Slice each crab stick into fourths, and set aside also.

5. When the fish is cooked, pour the soup into the pan, and add the rest of the ingredients. When the entire mixture starts to bubble, it's ready! Serve over fresh rice, or over fresh cooked pasta noodles. ^_^

Chicken Paillard in Lemon Butter Sauce


Slightly modified from Martha Stewart's Living


Ingredients
Serves 2 to 4

-4 chicken breast halves (Martha says to make them into paillards by flattening them with a mallet...I pounded them only a little with a can of corn, but then decided I'd keep them nice and big so that they'd be more juicy. A wise move, as I found out later!)
-Salt and pepper
-1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
-1 tablespoon plus 2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
-2 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
-Segments and juice of 2 lemons (in hindsight, just 1 lemon is enough. 2 was fine and tasty, but it would be flavorful enough with just 1 lemon)
-3/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock

Directions

1. Season 4 chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and 1 tablespoon unsalted butter in a large cast iron skillet (maybe it's psychological, but I thought the cast iron seared the chicken and made it taste better than just using a regular skillet) over medium-high heat until butter foams. Add chicken, and saute on 1 side until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Flip, and saute paillards until cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.



3. Raise heat to medium-high. Add segments and juice of lemons, chicken stock, and any plate juices, and deglaze the pan, scraping brown bits from bottom with a wooden or metal spoon. Simmer until sauce reduces by half, about 3 minutes. Gradually stir in 2 to 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (cut into small pieces) until just melted. Season to taste.

Served with rice and spinach (stir-fried with a bit of oil and a few cloves of garlic). Delicious! ^_^

Chinese Red Date Tea


Chinese Red Date Tea
Originally uploaded by gummychild
After delivery, I was told to drink this as if I was drinking water...and I loved it! It was a tea brewed of dried fruits, and it's easy to make.

Ingredients:

- Toasted Rice Grains (just heat them up till fragrant on a wok)
- Dried Red Dates
- Dried Longan Fruit
- Dried Goji Berries (aka Wolfberries)
- Hot Water
- Thermos

Directions:

1. Simply toss in about a Tablespoon of the rice grains into the Thermos...and add the fruits as desired. If you want a number, about 5-6 of the red dates and longans each, with about 12 goji berries will suffice, but you can increase the number of each depending on what taste you want. If you want it to be a little sweeter (and this is sweet as in a natural kind of sweet. It's really yummy!), add some more dates or longans. =)

2. Fill the thermos with hot water and seal. Let it sit for about 10 minutes, or whenever you are ready to eat. Enjoy it hot! =)

Slow Cooker 20 to 40 Clove Garlic Chicken

From Crockpot365

Ingredients

-3-4 pounds chicken
-1 large onion, sliced
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-2 teaspoons kosher salt
-2 teaspoons paprika
-1 teaspoon pepper
-20-40 garlic cloves, peeled, but intact (I used about 30...I think 20 would be best, as the flavor in the end with 30 overwhelmed that of the chicken. I like garlic, but the main part of this dish, in my opinion, should be the chicken!)

Directions

1. Place onion slices on the bottom of the stoneware insert. Toss and mix in everything else on top of the onions: chicken, olive oil, salt, paprika, pepper, and all of the garlic cloves.

2. Do not add water.

3. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4-6. The longer you cook chicken-on-the-bone, the more tender it will be. If you use drumsticks, the ones on the side will brown and may stick to the sides of the crock, burning a bit. If this bothers you, you can rearrange them with tongs an hour before serving.

Done!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Gumbo Ya-Ya from Commander's Palace

The farmers market has posted the recipe and ... yum! Can't wait to make it soon! (Posting it here as written in case it disappears off the internet before I can make it - and I doubt I'd change this much at all. I might add okra because I love it so much - but it's not necessary with the roux AND file. I made my first roux during the NFC Championship game, and my New Orleans native host said I make a damn fine roux especially for a girl from Alaska.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 2-1/2-pound chicken, cut into quarters
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1 cup sifted flour, divided
  • 4 large or 5 small onions, diced
  • 1 medium bunch celery, cleaned and diced
  • 4 bell peppers (green or red), diced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or 5 fresh cayenne peppers, diced
  • 1 pinch dried basil
  • 1 pinch dried oregano
  • 1 pinch dried thyme
  • 2 quarts cold water or stock
  • 1-1/2 pounds andouille sausage, sliced (or any spicy smoked sausage; I also use alligator sausage when available.)
  • 1 tablespoon filé powder
  • Louisiana hot sauce
  • hot cooked white rice
  • chiffonade of green onions (for garnish)

Directions

Heat oil in a pot over high heat for about 5 minutes or until oil is smoking. (Watch carefully.) Season chicken heavily with salt and pepper; dust with about 1/4 cup flour (shake off excess flour). Sear floured chicken in hot oil until golden brown, about 1 minute on first side. Turn and sear 2 minutes on second side. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.

Heat oil to smoking point again. Slowly add remaining flour to make a roux, cooking and stirring constantly for about 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture is the color of chocolate. (Scraping the sides and bottom of the pot while constantly stirring is the key to a good roux. Be careful not to burn it because if you do, you will need to start over.) When roux has reached the desired color, add onions; cook for 1 minute. Add celery and cook for 30 seconds. Add bell peppers and stir, scraping the bottom of the pot; cook for 1 minute. Stir in garlic and then add bay leaves, cayenne pepper, basil, oregano, and thyme. Add a touch of salt and black pepper. Slowly add water or stock, stirring constantly. Add seared chicken and sausage. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, then reduce heat and simmer for about 3-1/2 hours. Skim off excess fat. When chicken falls off all of the bones, remove the bones from the pot. Return to a boil. Add filé, stirring vigorously to avoid clumping; continue stirring until filé is dissolved. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Finish with Louisiana style hot sauce of your choice and taste. Adjust seasoning as necessary—don’t be afraid to spice this up! Serve over rice and garnish with green onions.

Serves 10-12

Recipe compliments of Jamie Shannon, Commander’s Palace

Thursday, January 28, 2010

pork shoulder in a crockpot

For Gail, learning the crockpot love! :)

***
When I had a surfeit of fennel greens, a friend suggested I try this (oven roasted pork shoulder with fennel tops). And so I waited for a sale on the meat, and today I made it!

Pork is supposed to cook to 170 degrees (though you can take it out earlier because it'll heat up at least another 5 degrees before cooling).

I didn't really want pulled pork, and all the recipes I could find were for that and for very long temperatures. In my crockpot (which runs hot), after about 6 1/2 hours, the meat was about 185 degrees. Good bye trichinosis!

Honestly, the flavor does not amaze and astound me, and the smell of the fennel tops got noxious. And as I just took a bite I remembered: I don't really like pork. Oh yeah. So I will probably slather it in a BBQ sauce and eat on rice with vegetables, and life will be fine - and next time I'm inspired to cook pork, hopefully I'll look back here and remind myself I DON'T LIKE PORK! Or at least I will remember how long it needs to cook.

***
*pork shoulder (called Boston butt - reverse-euphemism?) - mine was 4.2 pounds
*add any vegetables you'd like. I had a bunch of fennel tops chopped coarsely which I mixed with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, then spread over the pork.

Put in crockpot - NO LIQUID NEEDED (really, Tiff!). It creates its own liquid, which I will strain and defat and freeze to use in the future.

Cook on low until it smells done (should have checked at 5 1/2 hours but I thought that was too early).

Let cool, remove bone and fat, shred if using for pulled pork. (And if doing BBQ pork, shred and then put back in the crockpot with BBQ sauce to cover, and let cook on low another hour or so.)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

oatmeal pancakes

Super duper yummy! Very filling, hearty, tasty. Also NOT low-fat, so not a regular thing!

From here. I halved it and that worked very well.

2 cups rolled oats
2 cups buttermilk (or milk with lemon juice: 2 T lemon juice, add milk to 2 c, let sit a few minutes)
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. table salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten**
1/4 - ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted but not hot (less works fine)
Vegetable oil or spray, for greasing the pan
Maple syrup, for serving

The night before:
Combine the oats and buttermilk in a medium bowl. Stir to mix. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The morning of:
Take the bowl of buttermilk and oats out of the fridge. Set aside.

In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Add the eggs and melted butter to the oat mixture, and stir well. Add the flour mixture, and stir to blend. The batter will be very thick.

Warm a large nonstick skillet or griddle over medium-high heat, and brush (or spray) with vegetable oil. To make sure it’s hot enough, wet your fingers under the tap and sprinkle a few droplets of water onto the pan. If they sizzle, it’s ready. Scoop the batter, about a scant ¼ cup at a time, onto the pan, taking care not to crowd them. When the underside is nicely browned and the top looks set around the edges, flip the pancakes. Cook until the second side has browned.

Re-grease the skillet, and repeat with more batter. If you find that the pancakes are browning too quickly, dial the heat back to medium.

Serve hot, with maple syrup.

Yield: about 12 pancakes, or 3 to 4 servings

***
I learned two good cooking tricks growing up (yes, only two):
1. The best way to tell if something is finished cooking is by its smell
2. Don't flip pancakes until the bubbles have formed and burst.

Trust me - life is so much better if you just follow these very important rules.
*****
These are so tasty and satisfying that I decided to make them again the next week - but I'm not thrilled about all that butter. So I looked around the internet and it appears there are very similar recipes but with only 1-2 T oil listed, not a whole darned stick of butter. So next time I will try it with just 1 T and see how it works! I'm sure it won't be as rich, but it'll still have the satisfying texture.

** Once I decreased the butter, the egg taste really came through and that wasn't what I wanted. So next time I wonder ... if I just substitute 1/4 c milk for each egg, will that work? Hmm ...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

beet greens, pasta, and pancetta

*pancetta or bacon (I used 5 very thin slices of pancetta, chopped into pieces, because that's what I had - would be better with thicker slices of pancetta)
*garlic, chopped (depends on how much you like it - I used 3 medium cloves)
*onion, chopped (not much - I used two slices of a red onion)
*beet greens, coarsely chopped (I used from about six medium beets), but if you use the stems (I definitely do), chop them more finely because they take longer to cook
*sundried tomatoes in oil, chopped (maybe 2 T)
*pasta (about 2 c cooked)

Fry the pancetta. It has enough fat that you need not add other oil.

Fry until it's crispy and remove if you can (I couldn't), then add onion and garlic and saute until it softens. Then add the sundried tomatoes if you like (they have oil clinging which is a good thing now) and stir it all up and let it saute over medium-low heat until the greens are cooked enough to no longer be bitter (unless you're like me, and you like them a little bitter when combined with the sweetness of the sundried tomatoes) and the stalks aren't too tough.

Add pepper and salt to taste (and a dash of balsamic vinegar if you like).

Stir in the pasta and eat. Top with freshly grated parmesan or other similar cheese.

***
Substituting beans for pasta would be a healthy choice, but I'm about beaned out right now and I was craving the heartiness of some pasta. I used whole wheat pasta elbows because that's what I had, but any such shape would be good.

I LOVE beet greens - they're like chard with a special treat - and I always feel like I've gotten a super good deal because I can use the beets AND the greens. And with sun-dried tomatoes, a flavor combination I stumbled upon this year, they are phenomenal.

I wouldn't make this every week, but it was a great taste treat!

Monday, January 25, 2010

broccoli winter slaw

I regularly read Gluten-Free girl; while I don't think I'm gluten-intolerant, I don't think it's healthy to rely too heavily on glutinous foods and so I try for a good variety. That is to say - I don't follow her baking advice, but her other recipes are fun.

Ever since she posted this winter slaw recipe, I've been wanting to try it. And today when I just could NOT stop being hungry I thought some roughage would help (and roasted beets and sweet potatoes will be a great second course). (What I probably need is more protein, but I'll live.) Besides, I needed to clear all the vegetables out of my refrigerator as an excuse to cruise by tomorrow's farmers market.

While I will never be a raw foods follower, I think it's good to get a variety of nutrients and some are best taken raw. And I was intrigued at the idea of raw brussels sprouts - and I do believe I like them better than cooked!

This is basically taken from her recipe above. I liked it ok, though I would choose the other broccoli salad I make if given a choice.

***

The Slaw

1 head broccoli
10 brussels sprouts
1/2 head cabbage (Napa, savoy, regular)
1-2 stalks celery

The Dressing

½ cup mayonnaise, fresh-made if possible
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1-2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
kosher salt and cracked pepper to taste

Prepping the vegetables. Take off all the little florets of the broccoli head. Peel the outer layer (or not if it's not necessary) of the broccoli stalks and slice them in half lengthwise, then dice them (about 1/2-inch cubes). Remove the outer layer of the brussels sprouts. Cut each Brussels sprout in half. Slice the halves as thin as you can. Cut the cabbage in half. Remove the core and slice as fine as you can. Slice the celery down the middle, lengthwise, then dice the celery stalks the same size as the broccoli stalks (I do more finely because I'm not a big celery fan). Combine all the vegetables in a large bowl.

Making the dressing. Mix the mayonnaise, mustard, and rice wine vinegar. Season it with salt and pepper to taste. If you want the dressing a touch thinner, add a bit more vinegar or a smidge of water.

Finishing the salad. Coat the vegetables with the dressing. Season the salad to your taste.

Feeds 4.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

honey whole wheat bread

This is the very first bread I ever made - when I was about 12 years old I found it in the Mennonite More with Less cookbook and decided I would make bread. So, with no role model, I followed the recipe.

And it was FANTASTIC.

Since then I've made many other types of bread, but I keep coming back to this.

Bread is a great thing to help with stress: the kneading of the bread helps take the edge off my aggressive energy.

*Makes two loaves; bake at 375 for 40-45 minutes.

Combine:
3 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c nonfat dry milk (I don't add this usually - it's expensive!)
1 T salt
2 pkg dry yeast

Heat in saucepan until warm:
3 c water, whey, milk, or potato water (water that you boil potatoes in - it's yummy!)
1/4 - 1/2 c honey
2 T oil or butter

Pour warm (not hot) liquid over flour mixture. Stir well.

Add in:
1 additional c whole wheat flour
4+ c white flour, until the correct consistency

And make bread! (Knead at least 15 minutes; rise in warm place for 1-2 hours until doubled in bulk; punch down & knead a little; divide into two loaves, place in greased loaf pans and allow to rise until double in bulk.)

It's also great with wheat germ added and soy flour substituted for some of the whole wheat (I'm opposed to soy flour for nutritional reasons, but it gives a great crust). I've added various other things such as seeds and other flours. It's always great!

I just have to plug the cookbook - More-with-Less Cookbook: Suggestions by Mennonites on How to Eat Better and Consume Less of the World's Limited Food Resources. It was printed in 1976 - what's in vogue now, the Mennonites knew long ago. Now, some of the things in it I definitely wouldn't recommend now - such as using margarine. But it really shaped my concept of the world.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

harira


Harira - North African Vegetable Soup - served during Ramadan at iftar/breaking of fast, the national soup of Morocco (from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant)

serves 6-7

1 cup finely chopped onion
garlic, minced
2 diced celery stalks
3 T oil
1 t turmeric
1 t ground coriander
1/2 t cinnamon (go easy on it - not too much!)
1/8-1/4 t cayenne (to taste - go easy)
1 small potato chopped
1 small carrot diced
4 small tomatoes chopped (I threw in a can of diced tomatoes)
1 cup tomato juice
4 cups vegetable stock or liquid from cooking chick peas or water
1 small zucchini finely chopped
1/2 cup curly vermiceli, crumbled (I couldn't find curly, so used angel hair pasta)
1 c. canned or cooked chick peas (I just threw in a can - 69 cents at Whole Foods!)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (I didn't use fresh, but it would be tasty)
salt & pepper to taste
****
Garnish:
chopped fresh parsley
fresh mint leaves
red bell pepper or pimiento strips
********
In a soup pot, saute the onions and celery in the oil until the onions are translucent. Add the spices, potatoes, and carrots and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Mix in the chopped tomatoes, tomato juice, and chick pea liquid/stock and simmer until all the vegetables are almost tender.

Add the zucchini and vermicelli and simmer for about 5 minutes longer. Mix in the chick peas, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with chopped parsley, mint leaves, and strips of red bell pepper or pimiento.

*******
I think it would be way yum with cabbage, green beans, and small pasta such as orzo.

Freezes well.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mexican rice for a little crowd

Sadly, my childhood was bereft of culinary delights - unless you call tater tots, "cream of ..." soups, and canned vegetables delightful (I do not).

But there was something served in the school cafeteria I liked, and I spent years trying to recapture it - and this comes the closest!

This goes great with beans and other Mexican dishes to stretch the food dollar for a crowd.

***
*oil or butter
*1# bag of white rice
*garlic cloves, chopped
*onion, chopped
*cold water (1 1/2 times the amount of rice)
*can of diced tomatoes with chilies (generic Ro-Tel)
*small can of tomato sauce
*1 T ground cumin
*2 bouillon cubes (or just use broth instead of water)
*salt, to taste
(a little kick would be good - a jalapeno or two, or some cayenne)

Heat the oil/butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the rice and stir it as it browns (don't have to stir a lot at first, but keep an eye on after it starts to brown). Add in the garlic & onion to saute them a little.

Then add in everything else, stir it up well, and then cover it with a lid. When it starts to boil, turn it to low, and let cook undisturbed for 20 minutes.

***
This makes quite a bit - probably 10 good servings depending on what else you're serving.

Friday, January 15, 2010

easy chicken enchiladas with salsa verde

From here. Extremely yummy!

Yield 4 servings (serving size: 2 enchiladas and 1 lime wedge)
Ingredients
• 1 cup chopped onion
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 (7-ounce) bottle salsa verde (such as Herdez brand) (I used a 16-ounce bottle which was perfect)
• 2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
• 1/3 cup (3 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
• 1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
• 8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
• Cooking spray
• 1/4 cup (1 ounce) crumbled queso fresco
• 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
• 4 lime wedges
• Cilantro sprigs (optional)

Preparation
Preheat oven to 425°. Combine first 4 ingredients in a blender; process until smooth. Combine chicken and cream cheese in a large bowl. Stir in 1/2 cup salsa mixture. Reserve remaining salsa mixture.
Bring broth to a simmer in a medium skillet. Working with one tortilla at a time, add tortilla to pan; cook 20 seconds or until moist, turning once. Remove tortilla; drain on paper towels. Spoon about 1/4 cup chicken mixture down center of tortilla; roll up. Place tortilla, seam-side down, in an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining tortillas, broth, and chicken mixture. [OR - just steam or microwave the tortillas and stuff them then - no broth nonsense to deal with.]

Pour remaining salsa mixture over enchiladas; sprinkle evenly with queso fresco and chili powder. Bake at 425° for 18 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve with lime wedges. Garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired.
Nutritional Information
Calories: 327 (26% from fat)
Fat: 9.5g (sat 4.4g,mono 2.9g,poly 1.3g)
Protein: 28.5g
Carbohydrate: 31g
Fiber: 3.3g
Cholesterol: 78mg
Iron: 1.8mg
Sodium: 493mg
Calcium: 149mg

Green tomato cake

THIS IS SO YUMMY!! And nobody can guess what the mystery ingredient is. From here.

* 2 1/4 cups sugar
* 1 cup vegetable oil
* 3 eggs
* 2 teaspoons vanilla
* 3 cups flour
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
* 1 cup pecans or walnuts
* 1 cup raisins
* 2 1/2 cups diced green tomatoes
* coconut (optional)

PREPARATION:
Preheat oven to 350°. In mixing bowl, beat sugar, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg; slowly beat into egg mixture. Blend well.

Stir in pecans, raisins and tomatoes.
Pour into greased 9x13-inch pan. Top with coconut if desired. Bake for one hour, or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.
Serves 12+.

Monday, January 11, 2010

challenges

First, let me say hello to Aiva Jordin Yuen, who was born to "Gummy" on 1/10/10. Congratulations!! Y'all have many wonderful challenges ahead of you, and it will be fun to see how Aiva loves food too.

A far less consequential challenge in the cosmos are these bananas. Jamie cut them before the biggest freeze and there's a big bunch stalk of them in their house (which I posed with along with Ruby in full chef's regalia ... think I need that picture) and he sent me home with these. Eve says they are "Mexican bananas" but I find nothing on those on-line and I am not banana-savvy enough to distinguish from the on-line descriptions to see what other names they may have. She says they have a nice lemony flavor and are good in banana bread.

So, banana bread it shall be! But ... what else?? Bananas foster bread pudding - I had some of that a few months back and it rocked my world. I wonder how they would be in a raita.

Jackie Frost, if you're reading (though I know you're ill now), your culinary services are needed! Because truth be told, I haven't really eaten bananas for a couple of years. Almost all my produce is from the farmers market, and until they start selling bananas there I'm sitting fruity with satsumas and Pontchatoula strawberries.

So ... any ideas?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

orange yogurt

I picked up some incredible blood oranges at the Farmers Market on Saturday - they picked like mad before the freeze, and I don't know how much longer we'll see any citrus this year. I wanted to do something special with them, and I just made some yogurt, and as usual Ina Garten has good ideas! From here. It's super yummy - tastes like orange sherbet/vanilla ice cream without the chemically residue that leaves in my mouth. I omitted the honey (because it was all solid and I didn't feel like liquifying it), and that was fine, though it would also be good with! This feels like a special treat and would be great to serve at a brunch, etc.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups (2 pints) plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup good honey (or less)
  • 1 orange, zest grated
  • 1/2 to 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Orange, orange zest, raisins and walnuts, for garnish (optional)

Directions

Line a sieve with cheesecloth or paper towels (or a tea towel) and suspend it over a bowl. Pour the yogurt into the sieve and allow it to drain, refrigerated, for 3 hours or overnight.

Place the thickened yogurt into a medium bowl and stir in the raisins, walnuts, vanilla, honey, and orange zest. Thin with orange juice until it is a desirable consistency. Garnish with sections of orange, orange zest, raisins, or walnuts and serve.

***

Truth: This stuff is like crack to me. It tastes like a creamsicle or an Orange Julius but without all that nasty chemical aftertaste. It is SO GOOD. I will not ever be taking it to a brunch because it would disappear long before I could get to my destination. Maybe it wouldn't be so magical without the blood orange, but DANG it's good now.

granola in the crockpot

Please note: all of the ingredients are highly variable. Don't want pecans? Don't put in pecans. Put in what you want! The advantage to using the crockpot is that it is less likely to burn than in the oven, and this uses less energy.

mix together:
5 c oats
1 c pecan halves
1/2 c whole almonds
1/3 c raw sunflower seeds
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt

combine:
1/4 c honey
1/4 c brown rice syrup (or more honey)
1/4 c butter melted (or coconut oil)
3/4 c applesauce
1 tsp vanilla

1 c dried fruit (to add after the granola is cooked)

Mix it up, put it in crockpot on low. It takes about 5-6 hours; stir it every 20 minutes or so (when you can smell it).

Let cool, add fruit, and store in airtight container. Great with yogurt and fruit!

pickled okra salsa

A friend who knows I'm an okra pickling fiend just sent this to me (from Jan 2010 Southern Living Magazine) and I'm super stoked to try it!

Pickled Okra Salsa
5 whole pickled okra, sliced
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
4 tsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp. ground pepper
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes with mild green chiles, drained
Pulse first 6 ingredients and half of tomatoes in a food processor 4 to 6 times or until thoroughly combined. Stir in remaining diced tomatoes. Serve immediately, or cover and chill. Store in refrigerator for up to 7 days. If refrigerated, let stand at room temperature 15 minutes before serving.
Makes 1 1/2 cups. Prep time: 10 min.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

oh crock pot how do I love thee, let me count the ways
















I can wax poetic on slow cookers/crock pots ad nauseum. As y'all know. But SERIOUSLY, they are AMAZING. (Crock pot is just the Rival brand name for slow cookers. That's what I have - the 4 qt red, actually two of them (on one, I broke the crock - but I've super glued it back together and it holds pretty well, so when I really need two - I'm set). It runs a bit hot.)

I have no recollection of when I first discovered them ... there may have been one in the house when I was a kid but I don't think my parents ever used it. Never lived with somebody who used one really.

But at least since moving here, I have been a fiend. Right now, as you can see, I'm making yogurt and black beans (just threw everything in so it doesn't look like it!). Also this week I'll make chicken makhani and probably either black bean chili or tamale pie with the black beans. Stephanie O'Dea's website makes me feel more sane about my crockpot lovin' because she's over-the-top.

A crockpot can be a great tool to help reduce costs. Actually I think that's how I got so obsessed - I use it to cook the garbanzos to make my own hummus.

If I were at a job and away from home for 10 hours or so, I would definitely get a crockpot with a timer, because most things don't want to cook that long. But it's also great for making a big pot for the week on the weekends when home more.

But I was just thinking today, Gail, about how GREAT a crockpot will be for baby food down the road. Those little containers of baby food are ridiculously expensive, and they add all sorts of icky stuff to some of them (seriously, what baby needs SUGAR added to sweet potatoes? PLEASE!). But a crockpot can cook vegetables and fruits down to very soft, and wouldn't take much attention at all, and you could freeze portions (or can).

That can also be a problem - crockpots can make mush out of vegetables. Some vegetables are definitely better added late in the cooking. It's just a matter of figuring out what works for you. It's really good for cooking things that want a long, slow simmer time - like sauces and soups whose flavors richen with time. Also good for frozen meats - can just throw it in and let it cook all day.

Also, it seems that most things I can make in the crock pot, I can freeze portions for later. My freezer runneth over!

OK, there is so much crockpot joy for me to share, but there are other things I need to do today besides stare in awe and wonderment at them. I'm curious how other people use them - if there are uses I haven't thought of.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Indian butter chicken (chicken makhani)


This is definitely worthy of company! (especially if they are not on a strict fat regulated diet)

from here.

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (she says frozen solid is fine)
1 onion, sliced
6 garlic cloves, chopped
2-4 T butter
15 cardamom pods (or more - sewn together or in cheesecloth)
2 tsp curry
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp garam masala
an inch or so of fresh grated ginger
1 can coconut milk (I used light)
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
2 T lemon juice
1 cup plain yogurt (to add at the end, I used nonfat)

Throw everything in (except yogurt), stir it up and turn it on. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or high for 4 (or less - with my hot crock).

Stir in plain yogurt 15 minutes before serving. Discard cardamom pods. Salt to taste, serve with rice. Roasted cauliflower is a great side!

***

NOTE: If only cooking four hours (3 1/2 was sufficient for the chicken), then the onions will be a bit crunchy. So, either cook longer or saute them first (probably preferable, though it destroys the whole "I can put this meal together in 15 minutes" vibe).

sweating vs. caramelizing

Video from CHOW here on sweating vs. caramelizing (wouldn't let me embed).

The secret? Cook longer for caramelizing. Medium heat for both, add salt from beginning - but (and this is key and what I wasn't sure about): you don't need to add any sugar to caramelize. The longer cooking brings out the natural sugars.

I just ate some roasted beets & sweet potatoes, and some of the bits were caramelized and HOLY MOLEY THAT'S GOOD! But the recipe I have calls for a bit of brown sugar - and I think I'll omit next time if it's unnecessary.

lemon poppyseed bread


(modified from a Horizon yogurt recipe that was once on-line but is no longer)

Combine:
1 c yogurt
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
zest from one lemon (~1 T)
1/4-1/3 c poppy seeds
1/4 c melted butter
1/4 c applesauce*

Combine in another bowl:
2 c flour (all purpose or whole wheat pastry or a combination)
1/2 c sugar
1 T baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Then combine them and bake in a greased bread pan at 350 degrees for 50+ minutes. (The texture was a little strange - really thick.) (Usually 50 minutes works fine, but today it was still doughy in the middle when I pulled it out then - use the toothpick test to check for doneness: slide one in the middle and see if there's uncooked dough sticking to it. Crumbs are ok- pull it out. But goop and it needs more time.)

Let it cool a bit.

Heat together: juice of a lemon and 1 T sugar until sugar is dissolved.

Poke little holes in the cake with a toothpick and drizzle the glaze over it.

***
AWESOME texture! Soft. Not as lemony as I'd expect, but it's mild (probably because I use Meyers lemons). Freezes well.

*One of my fat-cutting tips is to replace half butter in any baked recipe with applesauce. It works well though it does change the texture, and it helps with the many jars of applesauce I still have left on my shelves from the saucing extravaganza Erin & I had last year. But if you don't want to use applesauce, it would be fine to use 1/2 c butter total.