Monday, December 10, 2018

Stuffed Portobellos, Macque Choux, Romesco and more....

Bad Chef.... bad, bad, Chef.  I haven't posted in weeks....  Not writer's block, just kinda 'stuck chef' block.  Anyway, I'm back;  and here's an extra large collection of recipes and techniques for you faithful readers.

Stuffed Portobellos
Yeah... I know.  Everybody stuffs mushrooms -- big and small.  But these I'm really proud of -- both tasty and beautiful!


Portobellos -- 4 (two each)
Garbanzos -- 3/4 cup cooked (canned is OK), tossed with EVOO
Beefsteak Tomato -- sliced into rounds
Spinach -- de-stemmed, about 1 cup, packed
Sweet Onion -- 1/2 cup sliced
Goat Cheese - sliced or crumbled
Italian Seasoning to taste

Roast the garbanzos under your broiler for 8-10 minutes until just turning brown.  Reserve. 

Under the same broiler grill the portobellos (brushed with EVOO and dusted with Italian Seasoning) for 3-5 minutes.  Reserve.  Saute the onion in a splash of EVOO until it turns translucent.  Add the spinach, a 1/4 cup of water, and cover for a few minutes until the spinach wilts.
Place the mushrooms open side up.  Divide the spinach and onion among the mushrooms.  Then to half the mushrooms add a slice of tomato artistically surrounded by garbanzos.  Dust the tomato with Italian seasoning. To the other half of the mushrooms add a just a layer of garbanzos and the seasoning.  Top all the mushrooms with strips or shreds of goat cheese.   Broil the mushrooms again (on a lower rack)  until the cheese starts to melt.

Macque Choux
Pronounced "mock shoe"!!  I was reminded recently of this Cajun classic recipe and wondered why I don't make an serve it more often -- it's a very accommodating side dish.  Think of this as a Cajun take on the Native American dish Succotash.  Great with almost everything.  Also really good just as a plate full of yummmm.  This is more of a technique than a fixed recipe.  What you'll need is some:

Celery, diced
Onion, diced
Red and/or Green Bell Peppers, diced
Corn off the cob -- fresh cut is best, but frozen is pretty darn good too
Cream or Half & Half
Cajun Seasoning, to taste

Use about equal amounts of the Trinity -- celery, onion, bell pepper sautéed with a splash of EVOO.  To that add some corn and spice, and cook until just about done.  Then add some dairy and simmer until it starts to tighten up just a bit.

Plate with barbecued shrimp, pulled pork, gator bites, or all by itself,  and dig in!!


Up by the shrimp you'll see a couple spoonsful of the next recipe>

Romesco Sauce
This sauce originated with Catalonian (Spanish) fishermen, who created it from the region's pimento peppers as an accompaniment for all kinds of seafood.   You can buy Romesco, but it's cheaper, and almost easier to make your own.  If you can get a deal on red bell peppers from your local Farmer's Market during 'pepper season', roast your own.  Or you can buy jars of roasted red peppers and use them.

12 oz  Roasted Red Peppers (about 2 large peppers)|
1 large Beefsteak Tomato
1 cup sliced Raw Almonds
1-2 Tbsp EVOO
1/4 cup Parsley
1/2 tsp Salt

2-3 cloves Garlic
2 Tbsp Sherry Vinegar
Juice of half a lemon

Take everything for a spin in the blender until it comes out smooth and thick and creamy.  

If it's too thin, add some Panko bread crumbs and spin again until it's almost as thick as mayo.

Here's the final sauce topping some angel hair pasta with sautéed julienned zucchini:


Guava Goodness
Guavas are in season now, and their aroma fills the house with the scent of strawberries.  

Other than just spooning them out of their skin, we like guava smoothies.  But make sure you spin it real well -- guava have a zillion tiny seeds that will add crunch where you don't want it.

Chickpea, Golden Beet and Pickled Onion Salad
This one came from Forks Over Knives, but of course I tweaked it myself.  Frankly, mine's better!  They wanted you to use ordinary red beets from a jar.  Bah!  If you're going to get closer to the source of food, stop buying jars and cans of stuff.  Buy real whole foods and prepare them yourself.  Eating healthy is a lifestyle.

2-3 large Golden Beets
1 cup sliced red or white Onion
1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar

1 cup cooked Garbanzos -- cook at home --  don't use a can (too much salt and preservatives)
Package of mixed Baby Greens
8-12 leaves fresh Basil
Mustard vinaigrette dressing


Put the vinegar in a screw-top jar and add the sliced onion.  Shake well and set aside for at least half an hour (or a couple days in the fridge) before using.

Peel the beets (much less messy than red beets) and cube them.  Cook until just tender in a half cup or so of water.  Drain and cool.
Lay down a bed of greens and add some basil leaves.  Top with beets and garbanzos and garnish with the pickled onions.  Serve with a mustard vinaigrette on the side.


























Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Squash Cubed, sorta

Spaghetti Squash Boats
You've seen me do this a number of times.  Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds.  Nuke until the skin starts to soften and then rake the flesh to make 'spaghetti'.  Add a ladle of your favorite pasta sauce or other gravy, and devour.  

As pictured above, you can make a variety of "passengers" for the boat -- shown is a mixture of farro and vegetables.  Some folks (not me) like to unload the boat --  completely remove the flesh from the skin, lay it out on a plate and top with the gravy.

Spaghetti Squash Fritters
Ever notice you can find spaghetti squash so small they'll barely serve two or else so large you can feed a platoon??  Our last Co-op box brought us one of the latter; so we had plenty of leftovers with which to try this dish.

2 cups leftover Spaghetti Squash
2 Eggs
3 cloves Garlic. minced
1 Shallot, chopped
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Thyme
Pinch Salt
EVOO for frying

Chop the squash a time or two -- you don't want long strings.  Combine everything in a mixing bowl and spoon the batter out onto a medium-hot, oiled skillet, 2 heaping tablespoons per fritter, and flatten them a bit.  Cook 3-5 minutes per side until crispy & brown.   They're delicate, so be careful when flipping not to break them up.  I topped these with a wonderful black bean chipotle salsa that I picked up at Aldi.
These are tasty but very delicate.   Next time I'm going to do two things:  pat or otherwise remove some/most of the liquid from the leftover squash as it cools; and second -- add some panko to help tighten the mixture up a bit and give the fritters a bit more body.

Acorn Squash Soup
UF football night with our friends on Saturday, so I made, by request, an acorn squash soup.  Normally I would use Butternut or Buttercup squash for a soup, but I found this Guy Fieri Food Network recipe and thought I'd give it a try.  I modified the recipe to eliminate almost all the salt and dairy.

2 Acorn Squash (about 4.5 lbs)
2 Shallots, minced
2-3 cups No Sodium Vegetable Stock
1 tsp Sage
1/2 tsp White Pepper
1/4 tsp hot Hungarian smoked Paprika
1 cup Almond Creamer (half and half if you like dairy)
1/3 cup faux Parmesan

Halve the squash and nuke them in the microwave for about 15 minutes, or bake in a 350F oven for an hour if it's cold where you live.  Scoop out the flesh into your soup pot, and discard the skins.  Mash the flesh a bit to get right of the big lumps.  Add the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer.

While that's happening, saute the shallots and garlic in a bit of EVOO until translucent and fragrant, and then add that to the squash.  Add the herbs and spices and stir to combine.

Simmer for about 30 minutes, then puree in your food processor in batches if necessary.  If you've got a stick blender, skip the food processor and puree in the soup pot.
Stir in the creamer and parmesan, simmer for another few minutes to melt the cheese into the mixture.  Serve with crusty bread and a sprinkle of parmesan on top. 

The almond creamer gives the soup a unique sweetness, but the hot paprika and white pepper provide a 'bite' to the finish that is really very pleasant.  

Monday, October 29, 2018

Five Gem Korma, Chickpea Flatbread, Moroccan Stew


Three Gem Korma
Eggplant and Green Beans go together.  Green Beans and Golden Beets go together.  Why not put all three together with a bit of onion  and a handful of cashews as well?  Flavor it all with some Garam Masala and a little plain yoghurt to make a korma style curry!

This was 2 large golden beets, about 3/4 lb of green beans, and one small eggplant cubed, along with a small-ish diced red onion and a literal handful of cashews.  I added about 1/3 cup of plain yogurt near the end to make a thick 'sauce'.

Italian Chickpea Flatbread
This on is a real "olde countrie" recipe -- about as simple as they come:

2-1/2 cups Garbanzo flour; a.k.a. Chickpea flour or Besan (in Indian cuisine)
3-1/2 cup cold Water
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Fresh cracked Black Pepper
1/4 cup EVOO

About noon, whisk vigorously (to prevent lumps) as you slowly add the water to the flour/salt/pepper mix in a large mixing bowl.  Cover with a towel and let the dough hydrate for at least 3 hours.  At this point you have a very thin batter, not a dough in the conventional sense.

When ready, pre-heat the oven to 350F.  Pour the EVOO into a larg-ish rimmed baking sheet, and then, when the oven is hot, pour the batter into the oiled sheet, making a layer about 1/4" deep.  My baking sheet is 9x13 and it worked perfectly with this amount of batter.

Carefully (because it's gonna slosh), move the sheet to the oven and bake for 30 minutes until golden. 
  Let rest and cool a few minutes before slicing into manageable pieces.
Serving warm, either plain, or topped with pesto, grated or sliced cheese, chutney... you get the idea.  We found it goes really well with a Mango Chutney that Sally's Mum makes.

Moroccan Stew
Eggplant, onion and tomato are three staple vegetables of the Middle East.  This stew combines them with garlic and the Moroccan spice blend called Ras el Hanout.  This stew would also be fabulous with cubes of chicken or lamb cooked into it.

1 medium-large Eggplant, cut in 1/2" dice
2 Beefsteak Tomatoes, chopped
1/2 large Sweet White Onion, diced 1/2"
3-4 clove fresh Garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp Ras el Hanout

Start with the onion in a large skillet along with "some" EVOO.  Then add the garlic and tomato, and lastly the eggplant.  Add more EVOO as needed.  

Simmer over medium heat, covered, for about 20 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking.  
Serve with a slab of chickpea flatbread to sop up the juices.



Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Pasta e Vaianeia, Scottish Bread Update, Roasted Veg & Wheatberry Bowl, Carambola Treat,

Pasta e Vaianeia
That's Pasta and Green Beans, if you don't speak Italian.  My version of this regional Italian classic uses cubed Butternut Squash instead of potatoes and carrots as additional vegetables.
1 can White Beans
2 cloves Garlic
2 cups fresh Green Beans, tipped, tailed and halved
1-1/2 cups cubed Butternut Squash
1/2 box Rigatoni pasta
1 Tomato
1 Zucchini, chopped
Salt, Pepper, Thyme and Basil to taste

 Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta al dente to package directions.  Remove and reserve.  In the same water (add more as needed) cook the green beans about 1/2 hour until just tender.  Add the white beans, basil and squash and simmer about 15 minutes.

Add the (water) zucchini and whole tomato.  Cook 5 minutes, then smash the tomato in the pot and remove the skin.  Add salt, pepper and thyme to taste.  Fold in the cooked pasta and warm through before serving.

Carambola Empanadas
This is a simple and pretty as well as tasty dessert.  Trim the dark tips off of the ripe fruit before you start chopping and pureeing.

3-6 ripe Carambola, trimmed and finely chopped
1 Tbsp Ginger Cane Syrup (or cane syrup and fresh grated ginger)
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1 box Puff Pastry sheets

Stew together everything but the pastry sheets until you get a thick textured 'glop' and the free water is evaporated.  Low and slow is best.  Or microwave for a 15 minutes before transferring to a sauce pan.   Allow the fruit to cool and thicken.

Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

While that's going on, start thawing the puff pastry, and cut each sheet into 9 squares.

Roll each square larger and fold into a triangle over a healthy tablespoon of the fruit mixture.  Seal the edges with a fork and/or eggwash the edges before folding.   Bake for about 15 minutes until GB&D.  Let them cool, at least a little, before devouring.

Scottish Bread Update
No need to soak that oatmeal in dairy overnight, as I told you a couple weeks ago!!

That means you can be at least somewhat spontaneous in your desire to make a loaf -- no longer do you have to start the process one day and finish the next.
You do need to give them about 4 hours of soak though.  I started the soak at 8AM the other day, and at Noon I added the flour, baking soda and salt, and made up the loaf.  

I will also say that this time I had to add almost no additional flour -- a bit less than 1/4 cup of bench flour to make a good dough -- and I increased the temperature to 400F and the time to 50-60 minutes.  Came out even better than the first loaf!

Italian Roasted Vegetables & Wheatberry Bowl
"Bowl" meals are all the rage these days.  It all started maybe 25 years ago with fast food places that served Rice Bowls -- a scoop of rice topped with stir-fried meat and/or veggies.  I remember a place in Prescott, AZ called Samurai Sam's that was very good.   I actually considered opening such a restaurant myself, on a couple of occasions.  At their best these restaurants supplied a healthy, inexpensive meal.  Not elegant, but tasty.  The restaurants seem to have faded away, but the concept has come home to family cooking.

Now, Bowl meals feature not just rice but all sorts of common and exotic grains, topped with a wide variety of things.  This FOK recipe has roasted veg and a splash of marinara sauce topping wheatberries -- whole grains of wheat stripped of their inedible outer coating.  You can easily substitute Farro or Bulgar Wheat if you can't find wheatberries at your local market.  Serves 4.

1-1/2 cups Wheatberries
5 cups Water
1 cup diced onion
4 cups chopped fresh or frozen Kale.  I used a mixture of frozen Kale and fresh Spinach.

Boil the wheatberries in the water for about 45 minutes, then add the onion and kale and cook an additional 15 minutes.  Season with a pinch of salt and fresh cracked black pepper.  Drain and reserve.

You can do this part of the recipe any time and store in the fridge until needed.

Preheat oven to 425F.  On a lined baking sheet place:

2 cups trimmed and halved Brussels Sprouts
2 cups Cherry Tomatoes or large chopped Beefsteak or Roma tomatoes
1 Zucchini split in half and sliced into 1/4" halfmoons
1 cup diced Bell Pepper, your choice of color
Balsamic Vinegar to taste
Season with Italian Seasoning, splash with Balsamic, and roast for 20-30 minutes until the Sprouts are tender.

You'll also need:
1 cup Marinara Sauce
1/4 cup toasted Pine Nuts
1/4 cup cut fresh Basil

To Serve:
Re-heat the wheatberry mixture and divide between 4 bowls.  Top with marinara and roasted veggies.  
Drizzle with additional Balsamic to taste, and garnish with pine nuts and basil.






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.