Monday, October 15, 2018

Spiralizer, Ribolitta Soup, Walnut Lentil Loaf, Veg Pot Pie and more

Spiralizer Veggie String Saute
You know I'm not much for kitchen uni-tasker gadgets, but Sally wanted me to make "zucchini noodles" after having tasted them at a restaurant. So she bought me an under-$10 spiralizer -- hand held, hand turned, it's like a giant pencil sharpener.  Works really well for the price!   Here's my first spiral veggie dish, a simple saute.
3-4 largish Zucchini
1/2 Red Bell Pepper cut into strips
1 cup sliced Mushrooms
1-1/2 cups low sodium Veggie Broth
Optional other veggies, nuts etc. if desired (I didn't this first time).

String out the zucchini and blanch them in boiling water for a minute or two.  Drain.
Saute the other ingredients in a skillet with a splash of EVOO to keep things from sticking.  
Add the broth, bring it to a boil, then add the zucchini strings and simmer for a couple minutes before serving.
An infinite variety of possibilities here for zucchini, parsnips, yellow squash, carrots, daikon, etc.  Next I want to try some Thai Style Carrot strings!

Ribollita Soup
This is one hearty soup.  Or is it a stew?    Maybe a thin casserole??  Really thick and rich whatever you call it -- add broth to thin as you see fit.

1/2 lb dry White Beans
2 large Zucchini
1 Sweet White Onion
2 stalks Celery
1 large Carrot
2 cloves Garlic
1 cup chopped Tomatoes
10-12 leaves fresh Basil
1/2 head Savoy Cabbage, diced
2 cups chopped fresh Spinach
1 cup diced day-old Sourdough or Buttermilk bread

Cook up the beans until just tender.  Reserve the liquid.  Drain. Puree half the beans.

Meanwhile, in your soup pot, saute one diced zucchini, the diced onion carrot and celery until just tender.  Add the garlic, tomatoes, basil and greens.  Cook another 10 minutes until the greens are wilted.  Add the pureed beans and whole beans and second diced zucchini.  Finally add the bread (I used the diced tag ends of a loaf of homemade Scottish Buttermilk Bread).  
Bring to a gentle simmer before serving with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of Parmesan or firm goat cheese.

Walnut-Lentil noMeatloaf
Made this for our football party on Saturday evening.  Like the Gators that night, it's a Winner!  Very flavor-full; you don't even miss the meat in this noMeatloaf!!  Try adding some salsa to the mixture for more flavor.  Slices much nicer (for sandwiches) when cooled completely.

1-1/2 cup Walnuts
1 cup dry Lentils
2 cups Vegg Broth, plus
2 cups diced Sweet Onion
1 cup diced Celery
1/2 cup diced Carrot
3 cloves Garlic
1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning or Taco Seasoning
Black Pepper to taste
1-1/4 cup Breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Salsa for the glaze
1 Egg, or  “flax egg” – 1 tbsp flax meal in 2 tbsp water

Pulse the walnuts into coarse meal using a food processor. Reserve  Cook the lentils al dente, in the broth. Reserve, mashing 'some' of the lentils to help bind things.

Saute onion, celery, carrot, and garlic until tender. Add cooked lentils and spices. Combine. Transfer to mixing bowl. Add breadcrumbs, walnut meal, and combine thoroughly using your Mark I mixer (hands).

Press into a 5x9 loaf pan. Smooth the top.  Cover top with salsa.
Bake at 350F for 50-60 minutes until top is browned and edges are starting to dry. Rest at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving. 

Veggie Pot Pie
There are lots of ways you can make this dish.  I followed the Forks Over Knives recipe.  Once again with a FOK recip the spices are very very minimal -- double or trip the listed amounts to have any real flavor at all.

I personally didn't like to oil-free whole wheat crust.  I have several simple tart crusts that are tastier and simpler to make.  The dish could be made a lot simpler using all bags of frozen veggies rather than some fresh chopped and some frozen.  I would also use fresh diced onion rather than frozen pearl onions -- they don't really add anything to the dish except expense.  Here's the recipe as written, decide how much you want to follow it,

3 cups sliced Cremini
1 cup sliced Carrots
1/2 cup sliced Celery
2 cups Butternut Squash -- 1/2" dice
1-1/2 cup frozen whole Pearl Onions -- or use diced fresh onion for more flavor
1 can no-salt Garbanzos
1 cup Frozen Peas - or skip the carrots above and use 2 cups frozen peas & carrots blend
1 cup frozen Corn
1 tsp chopped Thyme
1 Bay leaf
3 cups salt-free Veggie Broth 
Salt & Pepper to taste

Saute the fresh veggies with a splash of water or EVOO until just getting tender.  Add the broth and then thawed frozen vegetables, plus the herbs and spices.  Then whisk together some of the hot broth and a couple tablespoons of flour or Wondratm and add it back into the pot.  Simmer for about 15 minutes or until the 'gravy' thickens.   Pour into a large round casserole dish 

and cover with batch of the Oil-free Pizza dough.  Bake for 20 minutes in a 425F oven.
Slice the top, and serve.

Oil-free Pizza Dough
1-3/4 cups Whole Wheat Flour
1 packet Active Dry Yeast
3/4 tsp Sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Mix the dry ingredients together then slowly pour in 1 cup of warm water until everything is combined.  Dump the dough onto a heavily floured surface and fold-in about another 1/4 cup of flour until the dough comes together and can be kneaded into a smooth elastic dough.  Cover and let rise 10 minutes before rolling out into a top for the pot pie.  Decorate with slashes to let the steam out.

Stewed Carambola
Star fruit are ripening and plentiful, it's time to start coming up with things to do with them!   This is as simple as it gets.

If the fruit are properly ripe, the star point will be hard and brownish-black.  Trim off the black pointy bits with a paring knife and chop the fruit into a 1/4 dice or thereabouts.  Stew them with a splash of water and 'some' brown sugar (to taste) until the bits are nice and tender.  Serve warm over vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Potato & Leek Soup, International Acorn Squash and Scottish Buttermilk Bread

Potato & Leek Soup with Smoked Paprika
Personally I love smoked paprika, especially the hotter versions.  So I was pleasantly happy when Sally suggested I make this version of Potato-Leek soup.  I was good -- I didn't use all hot smoked paprika, just enough...

3-4 medium Red Potatoes
1 Leek
1 Shallot
1-1/2--2 tsp Smoked Paprika, to taste
1/4 tsp White Pepper
2 cups Dairy (milk or Half& Half)
2 cups water.

Cube the potatoes (skins on) and sauté them until they start to soften and brown.  Likewise, slice the leek and shallot and sauté them until just soft.  Toss the solids in a food processor and puree smooth.  Add the puree, dairy and spices to a pot and simmer until warmed through and the flavors have blended.  

Top with  some chopped chives or minced leek greens, if you like.  A dollop of sour cream would go well too, especially if you over did the hot paprika a little.

Euro-American Stuffed Acorn Squash
Usually thought of as a Winter Squash, the Acorn Squash is actually the same genus (different species) as all Summer Squash like Zucchini and Crook Neck. Acorn squash is highly stuffable as this cross-Atlantic recipe shows.

1-1/2 cup French Mirepoix -- 1/2 cup each chopped Celery, Carrot & Onion
1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning, to taste
1 cup cooked South American Quinoa
1 Central American Acorn Squash
8-12 North American Cherry Tomatoes, Halved
1/2 cup European or American Pine Nuts

Make a batch of Quinoa -- half a cup of dry cooked in a cup of water.  I always make extra since it's so tasty and goes with so many things.  Reserve.  

Par-cook the seeded squash halves in the microwave 6-8 minutes (or 20-30 minutes in a 400F oven) until just fork tender.

Saute the mirepoix vegetables with the Italian seasoning until they are tender.  Reserve.  Halve the cherry tomatoes.  Toss everything but the squash together including the tomato and pine nuts.  

Stuff the squash with the vegetable-nut-grain mixture and either bake 20-30 minutes to heat everything through, or microwave....  It was 90F plus here -- I microwaved.

Scottish Buttermilk Bread
This is the Scottish equivalent of Irish Soda Bread, with the unique twist of adding oatmeal to the dough for a change of texture and flavor.  The recipe comes from a 1989 edition of Scottish Cookery by Catherine Brown; which was gifted me by Sally's childhood friend Tracey Dart.

This turns out beautifully dense, hugely flavor-full, and fabulous with a schmear of butter, a slice or cheese, or as part of a sandwich.  

The night before you bake, combine:
2 cups quick cooking Oatmeal
1 Pint -- 2-1/2 cups "Buttermilk" -- milk plus the juice of a lemon

Stir well and cover.

The next morning:
Preheat oven to 350F.  While that's happening...

Add 2 cups AP flour to the oatmeal-milk slurry along with
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt

Fold into a soft and elastic dough, adding additional dairy 1 Tbsp at a time, if needed,  to keep it moist.  Knead together on a floured surface.  Be prepared to add more bench flour as necessary... I ended up adding nearly a cup more flour to get a dough that would knead.   Form into a ball, pat down to about 2" high, slice the top with an X for stretch marks, and bake on a greased or non-stick tray for 30-40 minutes until GB&D and the loaf thumps "hollow".  
Because of the extra flour, I had to bake the larger loaf longer too - nearly an hour.  Play it by ear (listen for the hollow thump).  I suppose the 'sloppiness' of the initial dough depends on which kind of oatmeal you use.  

The original Scottish recipe called for "medium" oatmeal, something we don't have in the States.  I used "quick cooking" oats which are finer cut than "old fashioned" rolled oats, so that may have made a difference.  Next time I'll try Old Fashioned rolled oats.  Or use the Quick Cooking oats again with more flour and a 400F oven.

We really liked this bread!  At least as good as Irish Soda Bread, but more flavorful. 

Monday, October 1, 2018

Chana Aloo, Floribbean Soda Bread, Stuffed Stuff, Savory

Chana Aloo 
Chana means Chickpea, and Aloo means Potato.  Simple, eh?  This curry comes to us from the Caribbean island of Trinidad, not directly from the Indian sub-continent.  There was, in the early days, a heavy British and Indian influence in the island of Trinidad which explains how they came to love curries and similar hot dishes there.  

The spice blend is strongly Indian, but with unique Caribbean influences, as you'll see.  A great dish to serve to a large group, this recipe easily serves 6 with a side of rice.

Flavor Base
1 large Sweet White Onion, diced
2-3 cloves Garlic, minced
2 Tbsp +/- Curry Powder, how hot do you like?  I used 1 tsp of a hot Jamaican curry powder
10-15 crushed Allspice Berries
6-8 crushed Clove seeds
1 tsp fresh grated Nutmeg
Salt & White Pepper to taste

Saute this together in a large pot or big skillet until the onion is translucent and softened. To the base add:

16 oz cooked Chickpeas
2+ cups 1/2" diced White or Red Potato (skin on for nutrients)
18-20 halved Cherry Tomatoes
2 cups Water or broth
A large handful of stemmed fresh spinach

Cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender (about 20 minutes) and the sauce is thickening.  Adjust the spices as needed.  If you want the sauce thicker, add a bit of Wondratm or Cornstarch.
  Serve over rice.

Floribbean Soda Bread
This is my take on Irish soda bread. If you not tried it, this is a fun, simple way to get started, almost guaranteed to be a success from the start.  Buttermilk is something we have to go out and buy special these days.  You can find it, but having to go shop for it cuts down on the spontaneity of making a loaf of fabulous bread.  On the other hand this is Florida, and we do have a lot of lemons around.  Lemon juice + milk = soured or buttermilk, which gives the bread a slight tanginess that is really nice.

4 cups AP Flour, or a mix of AP and Whole Wheat Flour if you choose
1-1/2 tsp Baking Soda -- otherwise it isn't soda bread!
3/4 tsp Salt
1-3/4 cup Milk or Half & Half (my preference)
Juice of 1 Lemon

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl.  In a measuring cup, add the lemon juice to the dairy, and stir.

Gently combine the buttermilk into the flour mix using a fork.  Stir until all the flour gets damp. Then plop it out onto a floured counter.  Knead with oiled hands until it all just comes together and you get a nice domed ball about 2" high and 6" in diameter.  Don't over-knead  though.  Lightly dust a baking sheet with flour or cornmeal and transfer the ball to it.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until GB&D and the loaf thumps 'hollow' sounding on the bottom.  Cool a bit before slicing and slathering with butter!

Stuffed Stuff
In this case, stuffed smallish eggplants, and  Butternut Squash Bowls.  The eggplant is stuffed with a North African mixture of sautéed onion, tomato, and carrot and topped with chickpeas.  The butternut bowls were 'leftovers' -- I'd used the necks of the squash to get nice cubes for the Savory Squash Casserole below.  I filled the bowls with a combination of frozen mixed vegetables and a small handful of Boca Crumblestm,  from the Boca Burger folks, that was lurking in the freezer.

Stuffed Eggplant

Butternut Bowls

Savory Squash Casserole
We get kinda tired of the usual sweet winter squash recipes with brown sugar and butter, or marmalade.  This is my take on a savory butternut squash dish.

2 cups cubed Butternut Squash (I used just the necks)
1 chopped Red Beefsteak Tomato
1 chopped Yellow tomato
1 Sweet Onion, diced
Cavender'stm Spice Blend to taste
Italian Seasoning Blend to taste

Toss the squash cubes with a bit of EVOO and dust them with Cavender's.   Add the chopped tomatoes seasoned with an Italian blend. Mix in the onion and place in a 9x9 baking dish.  
Bake at 400F for 25-30 minutes until the squash is tender. 

Monday, September 24, 2018

Sunset Soup, Lentil Gnocchi, Apple Custard Pie and more!

Yeah I know -- I was bad last week -- no posting.  Sorry.  I catered an 'after-private-yoga-lesson' dinner party on Monday.  Tuesday something else got in the way. Wednesday I had an attack of my vertigo which I'm still getting over...  Just not a great week.  Anyway, I've got several great dishes this week to make it up to you.

… now this week, the fonts and line spacings are all screwed up!  Maybe next week things will be back to "normal"...

Sunset Soup

All these beautiful golds and yellows and oranges in one bowl!   No standing over a hot soup pot for hours to make this delicious, earthy soup.  The oven or grill does 99% of the cooking.

1-1/2 lb Golden Beets
1/2 lb Carrots
1 lb Butternut Squash
1 tspTurmeric
1 Orange, juiced
1 Lemon, juiced
Black Pepper to taste
1 Tbsp fresh grated Ginger
splash of  EVOO
Plain Yogurt – I used Siggi's brand Skyr
3 cups Water

Preheat oven to 400F.

Peel the butternut squash and remove the seeds. Chop into large chunks. Peel and chop the carrots, beets and onion (if using). Place vegetables on a lined baking sheet and drizzle with EVOO. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast the vegetables for 30-45 mins or until they are slightly caramelized. Cool the veg, then place in a blender. Add 2 cups of water and blend until smooth.  Remove to a stovetop pot or tureen.

Add the citrus juices, turmeric and grated ginger and stir to combine.

Serve chilled or hot, with crusty bread on the side. Garnish with a dollop of yogurt. Sit back and enjoy the sunset!!

Lentil Gnocchi

That's “knee-okie”.  Not "gah-notchee"! This is a great way to serve lentils to those who don't care for them, or who are tired of the usual lentil recipes.  This can be a main or side dish depending on how many gnocchi you serve per person.

1 cup lentil purée

4 ounces (about ½ cup) soft goat cheese

1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning blend

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

optional -- Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup AP Flour

To make the lentil puree, combine 1/2 cup of dried lentils with 1 cup of water and a pinch of salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 25-35 minutes, until lentils are very soft.

Add one cup of cooked lentils to your food processor along with the goat cheese, Italian Seasoning and salt. Whirrrr until the mixture is smooth.  Voilà  -- you have lentil puree!

Pour the lentil puree into a bowl and fold in 3/4 cup of flour. Don't overmix. Add additional flour if needed, a tablespoon at a time, until dough is tacky, but manageable.

Roll handfuls of dough between your oiled palms to create long, thin 'snakes' 1/2” to 3/4” in diameter. Cut into 3/4” to 1” lengths.

Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a rapid boil. Add the gnocchi, a few handfuls at a time. Cook until the gnocchi float to the surface for 10-15 seconds. Lift floating dumplings from the boiling water with a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels.  If you want, you can dust the gnocchi with grated Parmesan or Romano cheese at this point.
To finish the gnocchi, sauté them (in batches if necessary) in a mixture of olive oil and butter, over medium heat until just beginning to brown.

Serve on a bed of cooked leaf spinach with wedges of lemon, as I did; tossed with pesto, or with a splash of marinara as a coulis.  

Apple Custard Pie
We got a bunch of little, fairly tasteless, apples, but didn't want to just dump them.  This was a great (and grate) solution.   This recipe started with one that Sally's friend Kathy Hogan gave her several years back.  I took the basic recipe and tweaked it my way (it's what I do).  I added the cinnamon and grated apples to the custard, and switched the baking time from a two-stage affair to one temp and time.

2 Tbsp AP Flour
1/8 tsp Salt
3/4 cup Sugar
1 Egg, beaten
1 cup Sour Cream or Plain Greek Yogurt
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tsp Cinnamon
Apples -- moon sliced to make decorative topping, plus 2 cups coarse-grated 
1 10” unbaked Deep Dish Pie Shell

Preheat oven to 400F

Mix flour, salt, sugar. Add egg, sour cream/yogurt, vanilla. Mix until smooth.  Fold in the grated apples.

Pour into pie shell.  Top with apple slices. Bake for 30-40 minutes.  

Cool a bit before slicing and serving.

Eggplant Pasta Salad
This one is sort of an amalgamation of several recipes.  I just didn't think a cold pasta salad with a tomato-based dressing would be very good, so I made my own from dibs and dabs in the fridge.

3/4 lb dry Corkscrew Pasta 
2 small or 1 large Eggplant, cubed
1 Red Bell Pepper, large diced
1/2 Sweet Onion, diced
1 large Yellow Beefsteak Tomato, diced
1/4 cup Cashew Sour Cream (see here)
1/8 cup Basil Pesto

Cook the pasta to package directions.  While that's happening... Drizzle the eggplant with EVOO, dust with your favorite seasoning, and grill/broil until just browning but still firm.  Cool.  Saute the red bell pepper and onion until al dente.  Cool.  

In a large bowl toss together the pasta, sautéed veggies and diced tomato.  
In a small bowl mix together the Cashew Cream and pesto and thin with almond creamer if necessary.  Pour the dressing over the other ingredients and fold to combine.  Chill before serving.

Indian Fried Okra
I used to hate Okra.  My first experiences with it were the southern-style boiled okra we were served as the slimy vegetable of choice when I went to Lake City Forest Ranger School back in 1967-68.  The other vegetable was boiled into submission greens of some sort with bits of over-salted pork floating in the pan.

Skip ahead a few decades and I found that I liked breaded deep fried okra 'nuggets' (they aren't slimey).   We first tasted this dish at the Chai Pani Indian restaurant in Ashville, NC a few years ago.  My first few attempts to duplicate the dish were foiled because the restaurant was not telling me the 'secret ingredient -- Amchur Powder.  This is a tart spice made from dried green mango that can be purchased at any Indian market.  This is the way okra wants to be eaten!!!

1 lb fresh Okra
Pinch of salt, to taste
1-2 Tbsp Amchur Powder

Top the okra and cut in half lengthwise.  I a bowl, toss the veg with the salt and amchur powder.

Get your griddle pan almost smoking hot, and swirl around a good slug of oil.  Lay the okra on the pan, cut side down, and fry until they start to blacken (crispy = good).  

Turn them over and cook again, but don't let them burn. Drain on paper towels before serving.  


Pear Walnut & Feta Sandwich
My first thought when Sally proposed a fruit and cheese sandwich was - what?  Then I put this together and tasted it, and WOW!  A really different way to get a fruit course in your life.  You could also serve this as a dessert.

Toasted bread topped with crumbled feta.  Slices of sweet apple -- I used a new-to-us variety called a Rave.  Boy do we rave!  This apple has natural hints of cinnamon in each juice bite. Every bit as good as a Honeycrisp (which would be my second choice of apple here.  Add some walnut or pecan pieces for a bit of veggie protein, and you're good to go!

Anyone else noticed how, over the past 10 or more years, that Red Delicious and Yellow Delicious apples aren't anymore?  Aren't delicious that is.  All the flavor and juice has been bred out and we're left with a bland woody taste and texture.