Monday, February 19, 2018

White Asparagus Tart, White Bean Soup, Chopped Salad, and more...

It's White Week (but not snow white) here in Southwest Florida!  Two great white (but not shark) dishes for your delectation.  Sorry, MIB and Beatles fans, I have no cooking reference for the White Album!

White Asparagus and Broccoli Tart
Got some white asparagus from the Co-op this week.  I'd never worked with it before and figured I'd make something special.  The tedious part is peeling the tough skin from the stems.  A time consuming, but very, very tasty creation!
1-1/3 cup AP flour
3 Tbsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
zest of a lemon or orange
1/2 cup (1 stick) Butter, cold, cut up
1 Egg Beaten
1 tsp Vanilla, Lemon or Orange extract

Whisk together first 5 ingredients.  Cut in the butter to 'coarse meal'.  Add egg and extract and stir with a fork to combine.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface.  Divide into 4 piles.  Smear each pile once or twice with the palm of your hand to incorporate the butter.  Gather the piles together and form into a 5" or 6" disk.  Wrap in cling film and store in the fridge at least 30 minutes.

1 lb White Asparagus, peeled and trimmed 1/2 off the butts
1 head of Broccoli, rinsed, broken into small florettes (about 2 cups), and dried
1 Tbsp Butter
Salt & Pepper to taste
1-1/3 cups Half & Half or Heavy Cream
3 Eggs, beaten
2 tsp Rosemary

Cook the asparagus in boiling salted water until just tender - 5-8 minutes.  Transfer to chilled/iced water to stop the cooking.  Drain and pat dry.  Cut off and reserve the tips, then slice stems into 1" logs.

Preheat oven to 375F.  While that's going on:

Heat butter in a skillet and saute the broccoli for 2-3 minutes, then add the asparagus logs.  Salt & pepper to taste.  Remove from the heat.

Whisk together the eggs, dairy and rosemary.

Roll the crust out on wax or parchment paper to fit your 11" tart pan.  Transfer crust and trim to fit.  Spread asparagus/broccoli mix in the uncooked shell, then pour the egg/dairy mix over.

Bake 20 minutes.  Spread the reserved asparagus tips on top.  Bake another 30 minutes, until custard is golden but still wobbly in center.   Cool 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

This is a great dish!  The crust has become my new favorite tart crust.  But I have to say that all the hype is about the color, not the taste. 

White asaparagus, as far as my taste buds can tell, is pretty blah...  I think this dish, done with regular asparagus, would be much tastier.  The peeling technique would help you use the whole of the stems, instead of throwing away the butts.

Asparagus Tart Too
Earlier in the week I made a different savory tart with ordinary asparagus and sundried tomato bits on a new (to me) Pillsbury pre-made crust.  There are two varieties -- a 12" round regular crust and a 10x13 thin crust.  This time I used the 10x13 crust.

Slices of goat cheese, diced sundried tomato bits, and par-cooked asparagus cut into 1" lengths.  

White Bean & Dumpling Soup
I borrowed this recipe from a Sara Moulton article in the Sunday paper last week.  Up north folks are still freezing, and this recipe will help you fight the chill.

2 Eggs
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
2 oz fresh Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp Sage
2 Tbsp EVOO
1/2 cup diced Onion
1 cup diced Carrot
1-1/2 cups diced Fennel
2 tsp minced Garlic
2 cups cooked White Beans rinsed & drained; canned or cooked from dry
4 cups Broth or water
8 oz chopped Kale, Spinach or combination of greens of choice
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice or to taste
Salt & Pepper to taste

Beat the eggs; stir in the breadcrumbs and sage.  Chill 30 minutes, then roll into 12 dumpling balls.

In your pot, cook the carrot, fennel, onion over medium heat, stirring, until lightly browned -- 12-15 minutes.  Add the garlic.

Now add the beans and broth to the pot.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer -- cook 15 minutes.  Add the dumplings and simmer, covered, another 10 minutes.

Transfer 2 cups of solids (but not the dumplings), and a little liquid to a food processor, and whirrrr until smooth.  Return to the pot, add the greens and simmer until the greens wilt.  Add the lemon juice and salt & pepper to taste.

Ladle into bowls,  with 2-3 dumplings per serving.

Thick, rich and filling.  Very tasty.   This'll warm the cockles...!

Besan Flatbread
Besan is a fancy name for chickpea flour, especially if you find it in an Indian or Middle Eastern market.  The same chickpea flour you can use to make the Falafal I talked about last week, instead of grinding up chickpeas you spend all day (seemingly) cooking!   Besan is also good for making a variety of flatbreads or griddlebreads which are not baked.  These flatbread, because of the baking soda and baking powder, have the consistency and look of an American pancake.  Perfect for wrapping around a spicy sausage for a quick lunch.

1 cup Besan
1 cup Water
1 Egg
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
Optional additions like sesame seeds, spices like cumin or ras al hanut, etc...

Mix everything together and let it rest at least 5 minutes before cooking.  Use a lightly oiled griddle or a non-stick pan on medium high for cooking.

Ladle the mixture onto the surface and let it like a pancake until the bottom is golden and bubbles in the surface stay broken.  Flip and cook for another minute.

Sally's Chopped Salad
It's been quite awhile since I made this; maybe 2 years.  Sally loves this for her lunch, with a little dressing to pour over.  If you don't have a SaladMastertm machine like we do, you can still make this salad with just a knife and a cutting board, or the big side of a box grater.  But the SaladMaster makes this so much faster. Amounts of each veg vary depending on how much total salad you want to make.  Experiment to find ratios of this veg to that which you prefer.  Have fun.

These are my more or less standard ingredients, all raw, not cooked:

Jicama (peeled)
Red Bell Pepper
Cherry Tomatoes

Snow Peas
Beets (peeled)
Onion (skinned)

Wash the veggies.  Chop, large-grate, or dice everything, and toss to combine. 

Serve with a dressing -- I like Bleu Cheese or Ranch, Sally prefers a Raspberry or Mango Vinaigrette.

New Shakshuka Presentation
For Valentine's Day I got these beautiful matching wooden trivets -- perfect to present my mini-skillet Shakshuka, which the guests on Sunday requested.  Each 5" cast-iron skillet holds half a cup of the tomato base, plus the egg cracked on top and poached.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Pizza, Jam, Bean Rissoles, Falafel, Bread Pudding, Oh My!

Shrimp & Mushroom Pizza
You need a recipe for pizza?  I got a new Pillsbury pre-made crust from Publix.  Comes in a clear plastic rectangular tube.  The dough is rolled around parchment paper which makes it easy to in-roll onto your pan.  The one I picked was a 12" round standard crust.  They also have a thin-crust version.

Shrimp (I used Gulf Pinks)
Red Bell Pepper
Base Sauce -- I used a thin brush of Alfredo
Cheese -- I used a wonderful Garden Vegetable & Sweet Basil cheese from Aldi's, plus some shredded sharp white cheddar.

Black Bean Rissoles
My take on a recipe by Food Network's Sandra Lee.  Sandra made hers to be served as burgers on buns.

2 cups dried Black Beans, cooked until tender (or 2 cans of BB)
1/2 Sweet Onion, diced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
3 Tbsp  minced Parsley
1 Egg
1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 cup Bread Crumbs
S&P or other seasoning to taste

In a food processor whirr half the rinsed and drained black beans, the onion, garlic, egg parsley and pepper flakes.

Transfer to a mixing bowl and add half the remaining beans  and bread crumbs.  Season to taste. Mash into 4 - 6 patties.  I made these four giant "rissole" patties; but you can easily make 6 standard hamburger size patties from this batch, and serve them on buns.

Fry on an oiled grill, about 6 minutes per side.

Here I served the rissoles with a slice of heirloom tomato and a drizzle of bleu cheese dressing.

This one's a keeper, folks -- even if you aren't a vegetarian!!

Falafel with Tzatziki
If you've never had them, falafel are sort of Middle Eastern hushpuppies --  golden brown and delicious knobs of deep fried batter.  Hushpuppies use cornmeal.  Falafel use garbanzo, a.k.a. chickpea meal/flour.

1 cup cooked Garbanzos/Chickepeas we prefer home cooked dried chickpeas to those in the can
with preservatives, but they work just fine.
2 cloves Garlic
3 + Tbsp fresh minced Parsley
1 tsp Cumin, ground or seeds
1 tsp Coriander
2 Tbsp Flour
Pinch of Salt
1-2 Tbsp Red Pepper Flakes
1 Egg

Put everything (except the eggshell) in your food processor, and take it for a whirrrr until you get a thick paste.  Transfer to another contain and chill for at least an hour.

Don't want to mess with the hour plus cooking of chickpeas, or the salt of canned garbanzos?  You can buy Chickpea Flour.  Bob's Red Milltm makes it, and I can get it in bulk at the local health food store.  I'm sure there are other sources

Fry in about 1/2" of oil at 350F about 6 minutes per side or until GB&D.

While the batter is chilling, make the Tzatziki:
"some" plain yogurt - 3/4 cup or so
"some" diced cucumber -- about 3" length of peeled and seeded cuke, diced small
"some" fresh or dried dill -- to taste (I like a lot)
"some" lemon juice -- maybe quarter of a lemon's worth

Stir it all together -- voilĂ  -- Tzatziki, a Greek/Middle Eastern dipping sauce; also good on gyros, lamb, burgers, etc.

Florida Bread & Butter Pudding
Had lots of leftover ends and bits of challah bread from our guests ordering my Florida French Toast breakfast.  Needed a dessert. This British version of the internationally favorite Bread Pudding dates back to at least 1728.  Of course I modified the recipe just a tiny bit to make it Floribbean:

2 Eggs
2 cups Half & Half, warmed but not boiled
Butter to spread
3/4 cup Sugar
Pinch Salt
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
4 Tbsp Sugar, divided
1 tsp ORANGE extract (this is Florida, why use vanilla?)
Slices of leftover bread cut about 1/2" thick -- enough to fill a 8x12 baking dish
1/2-3/4 cup Raisins or Sultanas

In a large bowl, beat the eggs.  Now add the warm dairy, spices and 3 Tbsp sugar, whisking all the while.  Stir to combine.  This makes what the Brits would call a custard.

Butter each slice of bread and lay them out, overlapping, butter side up in the baking dish, with some raisins between each piece and sprinkled over all.

Slowly pour the custard over the bread.  Press the bread down into the liquid so it absorbs the custard.  Let the pudding rest to thoroughly soak up goodness, while the oven preheats to 350F.

Sprinkle the remaining sugar overall.  Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.

Serve with my Florida Pudding Sauce:
1/3 cup Sugar
2 Tbsp Cornstarch
Pinch of Salt
1-2/3 cups Water
3 Tbsp Butter
2 tsp Orange Extract (again, this is Florida, not the UK)
1/4 tsp Nutmeg

Combine sugar, cornstarch and salt in a sauce pan with the water, stirring until smooth as the liquid comes to a boil over medium heat.  Cook and stir 2 minutes or until the sauce thickens.  Stir in the butter Orange extract and nutmeg.  Serve over warm pudding.
Sally and her Mum approved!   They did mention that in England, often there was more of the custard so that the bread was even soggier.  I suppose it depends on the kind of bread and its ability to absorb the liquid.   Next time with this bread and recipe, I'll make maybe 3 cups of dairy and a cup of sugar...

Want even more of an orange kick?  Try experimenting with frozen OJ concentrate instead of the extract.

Blood Orange Marmalade and Star Fruit Jam
You've seen my microwave marmalades many times.  Here it is with "Moro" Blood Oranges -- the BEST!  

I also "rescued" a bunch of nearly over-ripe starfruit from a tree down the way from Sally's, so I pureed them with sugar and slow cooked them down-and-down-and-down to make a simple jam shown on the right.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Cauliflower Shrimp & Grits, Stuffed Eggplant, Shakshuka

Cauliflower Shrimp & Grits
Ever had an idea for a dish, only to discover that someone else had it first?  I had a head of cauliflower that needed using, and woke up the other morning with this Cauliflower Shrimp and Grits recipe fully formed in my head.  I go to the internet and type in that phrase, and discover, of course that 'way more than one other person had had the same thought.  Here's my version.

1 head Cauliflower
1 cup Dairy (half & half, milk, non-dairy white stuff)
1 cup shredded white Cheese
White Pepper to taste
4-8  Shrimp per person, peeled
Cajun Seasoning or BBQ Sauce, to taste
2 cups chopped Greens (kale, chard, spinach, mustard, etc.)

"Rice" the cauliflower -- turn it into rice or grit size bits with a box grater, food processor, or whatever.  Cook the "rice" in a pot with the dairy and white pepper until you get something that resembles grits.  Add the cheese and stir to combine.

Saute the shrimp in a skillet with the Cajun seasoning and/or BBQ sauce.  Remove from the skillet and reserve.  Wilt the greens in the skillet.

Plate the grits, then greens, and top with the shrimp.   

New Stuffed Eggplant
I decided it was time to change things up a bit in the Stuffed Eggplant department, so I went looking for a new treatment.

1 medium-large eggplant, halved lengthwise
1-1/2 cup garbanzos
1/2 cup cooked Farro or Barley
2/3 cup Bell Pepper, diced (I used red and yellow for color)
3 Green Onions, chopped
1 cup Pomitm fine chopped Tomatoes
1/2 tsp Ras al Hanut spice blend or to taste

Roast the eggplant at 350F for 30-45 minutes, until nicely softened.

While that's going on, combine everything else in a pot of the stovetop and simmer to marry the flavors and reduce the liquid.  The Ras al Hanut gives the dish a nice touch of 'warm' spices.

When the eggplant is cooked, use the back of a serving spoon to press a cavity into the flat side of the eggplant, and ladle the sauce into it and more.

If you're using small eggplants, you can serve this dish with a side of rice or farro or couscous.

New Shakshuka Presentation
One of the things Sally got me for Christmas was a pair of small (5" diameter) Lodgetm cast iron skillets.  She knew I was looking for a better way to prepare and serve individual portions of Shakshuka to our AirBnb guests.  Last week we had a couple staying with us who requested the "Shak".  So I made a bit of extra tomato base, and did a test-run above and beyond the Breakfast for Two servings:

Works just great!  That's a half cup of bubbling tomato base topped with one egg poached on the base until the yolk is just set.  A perfect breakfast for one when served along with a side of toast and chef-made marmalade.

To make the base, you need "petite cut" diced tomatoes, or a can of Mild Ro*Teltm tomatoes, and a tablespoon of Ras el Hanut the quintessential Moroccan spice blend (available at World Market or other spice suppliers).  Mix the tomatoes and spice, and mash the blend to make the tomato chunks even smaller.

Get the tomatoes bubbling in the skillet and then carefully crack on the egg(s).  You can make this dish for a group for breakfast or dinner, using a 12" or larger skillet, much more tomato base, and 6 or more eggs.

For local readers, I understand  that Cafe YOU over in Cape Coral serves Shakshuka.  I'm going to have to try it there and see how it compares to mine.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Roasted Sprouts & Beans, BBQ Mahi, Asparagus Soup, Cara Cara Marmalade, more

Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Green Beans
Outstanding dish!  Don't forget, or substitute something else for the Pecans, they really make the dish. Makes a great side for chicken or chops, or a main dish for two.

20-30 small to medium Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and halved
2-3 good handfuls of fresh Green Beans, tipped and trimmed
1/4 cup Pecan pieces
1 Lemon, sliced
1/2 cup Alfredo Sauce with Garlic, warmed
Salt & Pepper to taste (not much)

Preheat oven to 425F and foil line a large baking sheet to make cleanup a LOT easier.

Put the sprouts and beans in a plastic bag and drizzle in a tablespoon or so of EVOO, and shake to coat.  Lay the veg out on the baking sheet and dust with salt & pepper.  In one corner add the pecans. spread out somewhat.

Roast the veg tray for 15 minutes or so; then switch the oven to Broil and broil for 3-5 minutes until you start to get some nice caramelization.

Transfer the veggies (not the pecans) to a serving bowl, then sprinkle the nuts over the top.  Sprinkle too with juice of half a lemon and add the wedges of the other half lemon, then pour the (microwave) warmed Alfredo sauce on and serve.

BBQ Mahi Mahi
Awhile back I got some beautiful fresh Mahi Mahi from Costco, used part for another dish, and froze three filets for another day.  Well, "another day" arrived when it was my turn to make Sunday Lunch.  Such beautiful steaks deserved something more than being chopped into pieces and folded into Plokk Fiskur, or turned into panko-crusted slabs.

I also have this wonderful Pepper Palace Key Lime Barbecue Sauce that Holly got me for Christmas --  I brushed the steaks with the sauce and let them marinate for an hour before grilling  (I used the broiler rather than firing up another kind of grill).

Served this with boiled purple potatoes and sweet potatoes for the starch, and steamed broccoli for the side veg.

Asparagus-Cowpea Soup
I'm spending this week at my boat.  Our last chance, for awhile, for some alone time.  The Poolside Cabana is booked almost solid for the couple months.   Sally wanted me to make her a soup for the week, that she could have as lunch or dinner.  I've been saving asparagus trimmings for just such a task.  Cowpea is the general name for Black-eyed Peas.

1 lb Asparagus Butts, chopped into 1/4" pieces
1 Sweet Onion, diced
1 large Shallot, chopped
1 can Evaporated Milk (not Sweetened Condensed)
1 cup dried Blackeyed Peas (yields about 2-1/2 cups of cooked beans)
Bacon or Goat Cheese crumbles, or toasted slivered Almonds for garnish

Cook up the dry black-eyed peas in 4 cups of water, until just tender.  This will take about 45 minutes.

While that's going on, put the chopped asparagus, diced onion and shallot in your soup pot with a splash of EVOO, and cook until the onion is translucent.  Add 2 cups of water and simmer for about 20 minutes until the asparagus is tender as well.

Remove most of the veggie mixture to a food processor and take it for a spin until you have a nice puree.  Return the mixture to the pot and stir into the left-behinds.  Add a can of Evaporated Milk and 1 cans of water and bring to a simmer. 

Continue cooking, on Low, until the black-eyed peas are cooked.  Drain the peas and add them to the soup base.  Stir to combine.

Ladle into bowls and garnish as desired.  Serve with a crusty baguette for sopping up the yumminess.

Cara Cara Marmalade
I ordered some Blood Oranges from our Produce Co-op, and got these strange looking things.  When cut open they looked more like a grapefruit than a regular orange, and definitely not a burgundy-fleshed Blood Orange in color or flavor.  Flavor was mild and sweet, not as acidic as the usual orange or grapefruit.

Turns out they are Cara Cara oranges, a special cultivar of the Navel Orange discovered in Venezuela back in 1976.  Apparently they are being introduced here as a variety that may be less susceptible to the Citrus Greening disease which is devastating our orange industry.

I gotta say they make a great marmalade!

Three (3) of these oranges will make almost 2 quarts of marmalade (they're that big).  Cut the fruit into pieces, and place in a food processor -- skin, pith seeds and all.      Take the fruit for a whirrrrrr until you get a puree that sorta looks like marmalade - small pieces of skin in the mix.

Measure into a microwave safe glass bowl (don't use plastic!).  Then add the same measure of sugar, cup for cup.  The kind of sugar doesn't matter, just don't use confectioner's sugar.  Brown sugar will affect the taste though.  Stir well to dissolve the sugar into the puree. 

Taste.  Too sweet, add a lime or half a lemon pureed to the mix.  Too tart, add a bit more sugar.

Microwave on High for 5 minutes.  Stir again and taste.  Adjust taste if needed.  Nuke again for 5 more minutes.  Carefully remove the bowl and spoon the contents into screw top containers.  Let them cool to room temperature before lidding.  Will last in the fridge as long as it takes you to eat it.

Not only good on toast, this goes great on firm white fish, stirred into cooking carrots, or sweetening up oatmeal in the morning.

This basic technique works with any and all Citrus fruit -- lemons, limes, grapefruit, oranges, pommelo, loquats, kumquats.  The pectin necessary for the cooked fruit to set up is in the skin and pith of citrus fruit.  Not enough natural pectin in mango, starfruit, strawberries or other non-citrus fruits.

Cajun Red Beans & Rice
This was a 'cheater' dish.  We needed something fast and filling.  Our Publix megamart has had a 'dollar a can' special on the many (over 40) varieties of Bush's Beanstm, including these New Orleans Southern Style Red Beans.  Nice 'gravy', but not nearly spicy enough, and no visible traces of The Trinity.

So while the Jasmine rice was working in rice cooker, I sliced and diced a bit of celery, onion and bellpepper, gave it a quick saute with some Tony Chacere'stm Cajun spice, and added that to the canned beans as they heated.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Cauliflower Cheese

Cauliflower Cheese
Sally remembers her Mum making this when Sally was a child.   Even those who don't care for cauliflower will love this dish!  Think of this as vegetable Mac & Cheese and you won't be far wrong.  I used a bright orange-yellow cauliflower because our produce co-op had them, and I thought the dish would look better than if I used white or purple cauliflower.

1 head Cauliflower broken/cut into small florets
2 cups Milk
4 Tbsp Flour
4 Tbsp Butter/Margarine
1/2 tsp Dry Mustard (Colemanstm)

Disassemble the head of cauliflower.  Bring it to a boil in a large-ish pot and cook for 10 minutes.  Remove the cauliflower to a strainer. 

Return the pot to the stove, and toss in the butter.

Add the flour to the melted butter.  Stir and cook a couple minutes to kill the floury taste.  Whisking all the while, add the milk and the dry mustard.  Continue whisking until the white sauce starts to boil and thicken.  The add, a bit at a time, the cheese and whisk as it melts into the sauce.  

Put the cooked cauliflower in a baking dish or bowl, and pout the cheese sauce over all. 

Bake @ 375F for 20-30 minutes until browning on the top.

Makes a great vegetarian main course, or a fabulous side to pork (in my case, ribs), beef, or chicken.

Roasted Parsnips Beets and Apples
Apples?  Yes, roasted apples.  We had parsnips and golden beets that I was going to roast, and I saw that a similar recipe included apple slices in the roasting.  They make a great splash of sweetness in what could be a bland dish.  Try to get everything cut into about the same sized pieces.  That way it will all get done at approximately the same time.

3 medium-to-large Parsnips, peeled and chopped
4 Golden Beets (red beets would work too but things get all red), peeled and chopped
1 large Honeycrisp Apple, sliced into wedges
1-2 tsp Thyme or Tarragon or some of each
1-2 Tbsp EVOO or Ghee
2 oz Goat Cheese crumbles
1/4 cup toasted Pecans

Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

Toss the veggies and spice(s) with the EVOO or melted Ghee.  Lay them out on a foil covered baking sheet.  The foil makes cleanup a snap.

Ghee is an Indian thing -- clarified melted butter -- with all the sediment removed.  In the fridge it's hard like lard, and when melted it's a clear liquid.  Not easy to find unless you have an Indian market around where you live.  I was gifted a jar by my foodie friend Sara Peterson.

Roast the veggies for about 45 minutes.  In the last 5-10 minutes  add the pecans in a separate container, to the oven to toast.  Switch your oven to broil, and cook another 10 minutes or so, turning the veggies at least once, until things start to get nicely browned.

Put the veggies in a serving bowl, top with dabs or crumbles of cheese and the nuts.

Serve hot as a main course or side.  As a main course, this is really very filling; the batch given above will serve 4 as a main!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Parsnip Patties, Eggplant Steaks and Fiskur

Aubergine Steak with Garbanzos & Tomatoes
Simple, really.  I was looking for a different way to serve eggplant, and thought "outside the box".  Instead of cutting into disks, I sliced the 'plant lengthwise into steaks about 3/4" thick.  Drizzled the steaks with toasted sesame oil, EVOO, and then dusted them with just a bit of Everglades Seasoningtm.   Broiled the steaks for about 4 minutes per side, and Bam!

Made an equally simple side by combining garbanzos with half a can of Ro*Teltm tomatoes and heating them through.  Fifteen Minute dinner for two!

Parsnip Patties
I really over-bought parsnips at Christmas, thinking they would be small.  I received beautiful giant 'nips and have lots to spare!  What to do,what to do?  Parsnip Patties, of course!  Great as a main course or as a side.

1-1/2 cups shredded Parsnips
1 small Red Bell Pepper, diced
1 small Onion, diced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried Dill
1 Egg
1 pinch Cayenne or a Cajun spice blend -- to taste
1/4 tsp fresh cracked Black Pepper -- to taste
4 Tbsp Parmesan Cheese (canned is OK)
3 Tbsp Milk
1/2 cup Flour

Beat together the egg and milk.  Add the flour and make a batter.  Use more milk if needed.  Fold in the parsnips, bell pepper,  onion and seasonings.  Form into 4 patties and fry gently in vegetable oil, 2-4 minutes per side until GB&D. 
Garbanzo was the "protein bean" of the week.  These are favored with Chana Dal, an Indian spice blend especially formulated for Garbanzos.

Make a simple Horseradish Sauce by stirring together mayonnaise and grated horseradish to taste, it really makes a great addition to these fritters.

Parsnip Fiskur
Back in September, when we came home from visiting Iceland, I posted my recipe for the classic Icelandic fish pie called Plokkfiskur.  See  September 25th:

This version is the same concept, except I used about half mashed parsnips and half mashed potatoes for the base, and added frozen mixed veg for color and variety.  Tweaking the potato flavor makes a nice change from ordinary potatos in this dish.

1-1/2 lbs cooked Cod or other white fish
1-1/2 lbs mashed Root Vegetables -- parsnip & potato, turnip & potato, rutabaga & potato
1 cup diced Onion
Butter, Flour and Milk to make a roux
15 oz bag frozen Mixed Veg
Paprika and chives or green onion tops for garnish

Pan Seared Brussel Sprouts with Corn & Caramelized Onions
For me, one of the neat things about Sally "going Veg" is that I'm experimenting with a whole new range of recipes.  We both love Brussel sprouts and this is an interesting and different combination of flavors.

20 Brussel Sprouts, halved
3-4 ears of Corn - off the cob
1 Sweet Onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
2 Tbsp Butter
2 Tbsp EVOO
1/4 tsp Red Pepper flakes, to taste
1/4 tsp fresh cracked Black Pepper, to taste

In a hot skillet, melt together half of the butter and half the EVOO.  Lay the sprouts cut side down and sprinkle with half the pepper and a pinch of salt.  When the sprout are browned, turn them over and do it again.

Remove the sprouts to a bowl, add the remaining butter and oil to the skillet, and saute the onion and garlic.

When the onion is caramelized to your liking, add the corn and red pepper flakes and cook a minute or two more to get the corn heated.  Return the sprout to the pan, toss to combine with everything else, and cook another few minutes to marry the flavors.  Ta da!

Great as a side dish with almost anything.  I served it with salmon steaks.

Sorry -- having trouble loading a photo here....

Monday, January 8, 2018

Holiday Special Edition -- LOTS of Recipes!

I know -- I know!  I've been bad!  I've not posted anything in a couple weeks.  Mea culpa!  Sally was sick over Christmas (her flu shot didn't work on Type B influenza), and then I got a nasty head/chest 'thing' over New Years (which I'm still fighting).   The rest of 2018 will be better, I promise.

Holly Wreath Fruit Dessert
I saw a picture of this on Facebook, I think, and since Sally's daughter Holly was coming for Christmas, I figured it would be a great lite dessert item for Christmas Day dinner.  IMHO it turned out beautiful.  The original used slices of apple skin to make a red bow for the wreath, but Sally suggested the stars of carambola instead.

10-12 Kiwis
1 container of Pomegranate Seeds

I found this really fast and simple way to peel and slice kiwis.  Trim off the ends, slide a thin bodied spoon under the skin, and turn the fruit.  Shazam!

To make the holly leaves, I cut the kiwis about 1/4" thick, and halved each slice.  Then it was just a matter of laying out the leaves and overlapping the inside ends to give the wreath its depth.  Scatter groups of pomegranate seeds, and slice a starfruit to give it finishing touches.

Homemade Ginger Beer
I got a huge hand of ginger (not just a finger, a whole hand!) from my Produce Co-Op supplier, with the promise that I'd make Ginger Beer from it.  Here you go, Steve!

This Ginger Beer, although fermented, does not contain any significant amount of alcohol; rather, the fermentation produces carbonation...

3-4 oz Ginger Root 1-1/2 cups or more peeled and shredded (I used our Saladmastertm machine)
3/4 cup (packed)  Brown Sugar, or to taste
2 quarts boiling Water (I used our hot pot rather than a stove pot)
Juice of 2 Limes
1/4 tsp Active Dry Yeast (champagne yeast if you have a brewing supply store nearby) otherwise ordinary Fleishman's works just fine.

Put the ginger and sugar in a large bowl, along with the lime juice.  Pour the boiling water over the mixture and stir strongly to dissolve the sugar.  Allow the liquid to cool to about 65F, in the fridge or an ice bath.  Filter through a wire mesh strainer and cheesecloth to get rid of the chunks.  Stir in the yeast until it hydrates and goes into the solution.

Bottle in a 2 liter clean soda bottle (or lidded bottles like I used) filtering again through coffee filters or paper towels to get rid of the scum and other particulates  Set in the pantry for 2 days.  Release the cap(s) at least once a day to prevent fermentation explosion messes.  At the end of two days place the bottle(s) in the refrigerator to kill the fermentation. There will still be a thin layer of sediment in the bottom of the bottle(s), pour carefully to avoid getting this in your glass.  Add sugar as desired when serving.

The taste is similar to, but not the same as commercial Ginger Beer or Ginger Ale.  Those products have all sorts of additives, sweeteners, etc. and are often made with "ginger flavoring" rather than actual ginger.  You may not care for homemade Ginger Beer, but it's a project worth doing.  If you already brew beers or make wine or mead, you'll have all the fancy equipment to make a high-tech batch.

Ginger-Carrot Soup
This one I borrowed from the website of The Naked Chef -- Jamie Oliver!

1-1/2 lbs Carrots, shredded (large teeth on a box grater works well)
1 White Onion, diced
3" thumb of Ginger, minced
4 cups Vegetable broth or Water
1/2 cup Orange Juice
1/2 tsp fresh grated Nutmeg
Pinch Kosher Salt
Pinch White Pepper

Saute the onion and ginger in a splash of EVOO for a couple minutes until they start to soften.  Add the OJ, broth and carrots.  Simmer for about 30 minutes until the carrots are tender.  Puree with a stick blender or by transferring to a food processor/blender.  Return to pot and add nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Simmer another 20 minutes to really marry the flavors.

Christmas Pudding Taste Test
At Thanksgiving, you saw the steps that the ladies followed to make this traditional English Christmas dinner dessert.  Richer and denser and more moist that a conventional fruitcake, it also tastes a lot better too!  Rich, unctuous, not quite cloyingly sweet.  A lot fruity, a little nutty.  As I've said before, this is what "fruitcake" wants to be when it grows up!!

Seafood & Eggplant Casserole
Sally announced her conversion to semi-Vegetarian (she will eat fish, shrimp milk in her coffee/tea)  beginning January 1st.  I've been looking for a whole new collection of vegetarian dishes.  This is one I found, inspired by 3 smallish eggplants just sitting there on the counter...

5 cups Eggplant, peeled and cubed
1 lb Shrimp, peeled
1/2 cup each -- Celery, Onion, Bell Pepper diced  - The Cajun Trinity
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1/4 tsp cracked Black Pepper
1/2 tsp each Sage and Rosemary
1 tsp Cajun Spice Blend of your choice
5 slices White Bread
1 Egg, beaten
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
1 cup Panko
2 Tbsp melted Butter

Put eggplant in a pot, cover with water; bring to a boil and simmer 15 minutes or until tender.  Remove eggplant to a colander to drain, reserving the cooking liquid.

Soak the bread in the cooking liquid and drain in a colander.  Press excess water out of the bread and reserve. 

In a skillet saute the Trinity and the garlic until soft.  Add the chopped shrimp and seasonings.  Then add the egg, half the Parmesan and reserved bread.  Stir to combine.

Place the mixture in a 9x9 baking dish.  Combine butter, panko and remaining Parmesan, and sprinkle across the top of the dish.  Bake at 350F for 45 minutes to 1 hour, uncovered.

Broccoli-Cauliflower Casserole
This, as you'll see, is not only tasty, but colorful as well.  Have fun -- use purple or orange cauliflower when you can find it -- not that boring white stuff!

2 cups each  Small Broccoli florets and Small Cauliflower florets
1 cup Quinoa
1/2 cup diced Onion
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
2 Eggs
1 cup shredded Cheddar, divided
1/2 cup melted Butter
1/2-3/4 cup Panko

Cook the quinoa -- 1 cup grain to 2 cups water.  A rice cooker is perfect for this.  Drain and cool the quinoa, and spread about 1/2" deep in the bottom of an 8x12 baking dish.

Par-cook the broccoli and cauliflower separately, to maintain the colors.  Cover with water and boil just 2-3 minutes; drain and cool.  Layer the veggies atop the quinoa.

Beat the eggs.  Add the mayo, onion, and half the cheese (I used white cheddar).  Pour this mixture over the veggies.  

Then pour the melted butter over everything and scatter the remaining cheese on top. 

Last, top with the panko.  Bake @ 350F for 35-45 minutes until browned and bubbly.

Makes a great side dish or vegetarian main course.