Monday, September 26, 2011

Green tomato chutney

This chutney was my answer to the green tomatoes that have been hanging on my plant, but not turning red. Since it's getting cooler, I figured I should try to do something with them before we lost them. I left a couple on the plant, just in case, because the past couple of days have been a little warmer than usual... maybe we will get another red tomato or two to enjoy before the season is officially over. This chutney has a lot of spices in it as well as vinegar, salt, and brown sugar. It would be really good over some pork or chicken along with some rice. It would even be good as a dip for some corn chips. As with any chutney, the opportunities are endless.

This recipe yielded about 3 cups of chutney. I put half in a jar in the refrigerator and the other half in a freezer container and froze it. I wanted to preserve and store some of the tomatoes, but I didn't have a ton - only one plant. If you have a lot of green tomatoes, you can easily adjust the recipe to make a large batch to freeze more. Since I made up this recipe and am not sure it has the correct acidity to be properly and safely canned in a hot water bath, I'm not going to recommend that (though pressure canning should be OK, but I'm not an expert).

Green tomato chutney
about 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
3 cloves
1 small onion, finely diced
1 small chili pepper, minced (remove seeds for a less hot chutney)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
about 3.5 cups diced green tomatoes
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup cider vinegar

In a medium saucepan, warm the olive oil over low-medium heat. When hot, add the mustard seeds and cloves. Stir and cook for about 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the onion and chili pepper. Stir and cook for about 2-3 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and stir. Add in all the remaining spices (cinnamon though salt) and stir well. Cook for about 1 minute.

Add the tomatoes, brown sugar, and the cider vinegar. Stir the mixture and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until it comes to a boil. Boil for about 1 minute and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chutney thickens and reduces, about 15 minutes.

Let cool and remove the cloves and cinnamon stick. Pour into storage containers and place in the refrigerator and/or freezer (or use right away).

What was I cooking one year ago?: spinach and artichoke pizza and curry chicken salad

Friday, September 23, 2011

Buckwheat pancakes

As the weather begins to cool and the leaves are starting to have hints of orange and yellow, I fear I am getting back into "pancake mode" on Sunday mornings. You would think that I would have run out of pancake ideas by now, but that doesn't seem to be the case. It's OK though, I mean, that's what Sunday mornings are for - leisurely coffee and a big breakfast.

There are a couple of things I just don't understand when it comes to pancakes. For one, I don't understand why more people don't make pancakes from scratch (i.e., why do so many people make them from a box or a pourable plastic container)? Pancakes are so easy to make and so versatile - it's fun to try out different kinds. They are also a great way to get kids to help you and get interested in their food and cooking. Also, I think it should probably be against the law in the state of NY (and probably VT) to use anything but real maple syrup. Why do we feel compelled to buy fake flavored high fructose corn syrup when we are surrounded by maple producers?  

But, back to these pancakes.... buckwheat is not wheat at all and also does not contain any gluten. It is a seed, not a grain, and has a lot of healthful properties. It has a strong, assertive taste that is very unique. You can make these pancakes with all buckwheat flour, which is great if you can't or don't eat gluten, or you can cut it with some wheat flour (which is what I did). These pancakes are very hearty and when I'm cooking them on a cast iron griddle, the smell makes me think of what it may have been like in "the old days" for some reason. Give these pancakes a try now that the weather is cooling. This recipe should make enough to serve three to four people. 

Buckwheat pancakes
1 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons fine unbleached cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg
1-3/4 cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons butter, melted and slightly cooled (plus more butter for cooking)
warmed pure maple syrup, for serving

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (buckwheat flour though baking soda).

In a medium bowl, gently beat the egg. Whisk in the buttermilk and butter. Add the wet ingredient to the dry, gently stirring with a wooden spoon until just combined.

Heat a cast iron griddle or other non-stick skillet. When hot, coat with a small amount of butter. Add the batter using a 1/4 cup. When the pancakes begin to bubble, flip them and continue to cook until the other side is golden. Repeat until all batter has been used. Serve hot and top with the warmed maple syrup.

What was I cooking one year ago?: chicken, apple, caramelized onion, and cheese quesadillas and spiced pickled grapes (I was really busy last September!)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Beef and wild mushroom stew

Autumn is in the air and I love it! As soon as the temperature begins to drop down, I'm ready for stews, soups, and all other comfort foods. I'm already grabbing up butternut squash, beets, cabbage, and more. I was in the mood to kick-off my cool weather cooking with a hearty and earthy stew. Full of beef and mushrooms on top of some creamy mashed potatoes - it was a perfect way to begin the season! These little baby carrots are not something I would normally use, but I got the for free and figured this would be a good way to use them up. Any carrots would work well for this (I just bought some orange, purple, and white ones at the farmer's market that I'm looking forward to eating). The mushrooms were from the farmer's market - a jar of dried wild chanterelles supplemented by some my husband had foraged.

This stew is something that you make on the weekend so you can let it slow cook for a few hours until the beef almost melts in your mouth. This recipe will serve about four people. 

Beef and wild mushroom stew
about 1-1/2 cups dried wild mushroom of your choice (I used chanterelles) 
olive oil for cooking
about 1-1.5 lbs. trimmed and cubed stew beef
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 ribs celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
about 1-1/2 cups baby carrots (or about 1 cup diced carrots)
6-7 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and roughly chopped
1 bay leaf, broken in half
1/3 cup dry red wine
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2-3 cups low-sodium beef stock
1 cup frozen pearl onions
4 large white potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
about 1/4 - 1/3 cup milk

Put the mushrooms in a medium bowl and cover them with boiling water (until just covered). Set aside. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

In a dutch oven, heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Season the beef with salt and pepper. When the oil is hot, add the beef and cook, stirring occasionally, until all sides are browned. Remove the beef from the dutch oven and place on a plate. Set aside.

Add the celery to the dutch oven. Stir and cook for about 1 minute. Add the garlic, carrots, thyme, bay, and some salt and pepper. Stir and continue cooking for about 2-3 minutes. Then add the wine to the dutch oven and stir well to de-glaze the bottom. Let the wine come to a boil and reduce slightly. Add the Worcestershire sauce and beef stock and stir well. Add the mushrooms along with about 1-1/2 cups of their soaking liquid. Add the onions and return the beef to the pot. Let the stew come up to a gentle boil, then cover and place in the preheated oven.

Check it at about two hours and add more beef stock or mushroom soaking liquid if the liquid is getting too low. Cook until the beef is extremely tender all all the vegetables are tender and the liquid has reduced to make a nice, thickened broth, about 3 to 3.5 hours.

When you are about ready to eat, make your mashed potatoes. I like to leave the skin on my potatoes. Slice the potatoes thinly and place in a pot with a tight fitting lid. Cover with cold water, put the lid on the pot, and boil until fork-tender. Drain and add butter and milk to the potatoes along with a couple pinches of salt and pepper. Mash using a hand masher until your desired texture.

Place a layer of mashed potatoes in a bowl or on a plate and top with the stew. Sprinkle a few extra thyme leaves on top, if desired.

What was I cooking one year ago?: celery root and apple puree and sweet potato pancakes with cinnamon butter

Friday, September 16, 2011

Spanish rice

Did anyone else out there love a certain boxed rice product as a kid that had a "Spanish rice" flavor full of tomatoes and black olives? Well, I did. My mom didn't make that boxed stuff very often; for me it was always thought of as a treat. I thought about this rice recently when I was making some summer vegetable enchiladas and decided to try to make it for myself. I worked from memory trying to remember the flavors that were in the rice I ate as a kid - black olives, onions, tomatoes... I think the rice turned out pretty good and is likely much healthier than the boxed brand I remember. I used water because I wanted to keep this meal vegetarian. You can use chicken stock or vegetable stock in place (or half water/half stock). This will add more flavor to the rice, but I thought it was good the way it was. The fresh tomatoes help to make it sweet (and used up some of the romas that our plant has been producing). This rice is a perfect side dish for tacos, enchiladas, chicken with salsa, or even on a burrito. It will serve four as a side. 

Spanish rice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup finely diced Spanish onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup long grain white rice
1 cup finely chopped tomatoes
2 cups water (or stock/broth of your choice)
1/3 cup sliced, pitted black olives
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallion greens

In a large skillet with a lid, warm the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the Spanish onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Add the garlic, stir, and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add the paprika, salt, pepper, oregano, and tomato paste. Stir and cook for about 1 minute. Add the rice. Stir to coat with the oil and all the spices. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, stirring often.

Add the tomatoes and water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Place the lid on and cook until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is fully cooked, about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit, covered for about 5 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork and gently stir in the olives and scallion greens. Season with salt and pepper, if needed. Serve hot.

What was I cooking one year ago?: carrot-zucchini-ginger muffins and Moroccan stewed chicken

Monday, September 12, 2011

Zucchini bread

You know it's the end of summer when you begin making zucchini bread to try to use up more of your zucchini! I have always loved zucchini bread; it's one of those classic treats. I'm sure there are many of you out there that have your favorite zucchini bread recipes. I enjoy how the bread uses a summer vegetable with some classic fall spices. It is a nice transition from summer to fall. This quick bread goes well with your morning coffee or tea, or as a snack anytime of day - I like it with a glass of apple cider.

I used the batter to make one giant loaf of bread in a standard loaf pan (I couldn't find my other loaf pan!), but you can cut the batter in half to make two smaller loaves (just cut the cooking time down). Most recipes use 2+ cups of sugar, but I like to cut the amount down. I find that it is sweet enough.

Zucchini bread
3 cups white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2-1/2 cups grated zucchini (unpeeled)
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

Butter or spray a standard loaf pan and preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour to ginger). In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, applesauce, oil, and sugars until the sugar dissolves. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir with a wooden spoon until almost combined. Add the zucchini and walnuts and gently stir until just combined.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan. Bake for approximately 70-75 minutes, or until the bread turns golden and an inserted toothpick can be removed cleanly. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and serve warm or at room temperature. Store any leftovers in an airtight container (after about a day, store in the refrigerator).

What was I cooking one year ago?: watermelon rind pickles and roasted brussel sprouts with cranberries and hazelnuts

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Thai basil chicken

Thai basil chicken (sometimes called Pad Kapow or Pad Krapow) is one of my go-to dishes to order when I am at a Thai restaurant. I love the sauce with its sweet and spicy notes and Thai basil is one of my favorite herbs. Since we have Thai basil in our herb garden this year, I set out to recreate my restaurant favorite at home. I've made this twice now and both times I've found it to be very successful and similar in flavor to what I've eaten out. I read a lot of different sauce recipes and messed around with it until I found the flavor combination I was looking for. This dish is packed full of flavor and is quick and easy to make. I hope that you have the opportunity to get Thai basil where you are so that you can try it. I used chicken thighs and peppers in my dish because that's what I always see in the restaurant. Some recipes use ground chicken or pork, and I'm not sure what the "authentic" recipe uses.

My husband and I ate all of this the first night - no lunch leftovers. I think it should have fed at least three people though, but it was just so good (or maybe we were just really hungry that night). Serve this dish with some Jasmine or regular rice.

Thai basil chicken
olive oil for cooking 
1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
about 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
1 small-medium green bell pepper, seeded and cut into bite-size pieces
1 small-medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into bite-size pieces
2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce 
1-2 tablespoons granulated unbleached cane sugar
about 2 teaspoons garlic chili sauce (such as Sriracha)
about 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1/2 cup Thai basil leaves, loosely packed
1/4 cup shelled peanuts, lightly toasted
2 cups cooked Jasmine rice, for serving

In a large skillet, heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat until hot. Season the chicken with the black pepper and add to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Combine all of the sauce ingredients (soy sauce to vinegar) in a medium bowl. Whisk well and taste. Adjust as needed to your taste - you may want more spice or sweetness to get the balance you desire. You may want to play around with the amounts a bit.

Add the peppers to the pan. Cook, stirring often, for about 3 minutes. Then add the shallots and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Pour in the sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and return the chicken to the pan. Stir often and let cook until the sauce reduces slightly.

Stir in the Thai basil leaves. Serve over rice and top each serving with some of the peanuts.

What was I cooking one year ago?: peaches and cream tart

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Healing Foods event round-up: Zucchini and summer squash

Thank you to everyone who submitted their recipes to August's Healing Foods event which featured zucchini and summer squash. I chose zucchini for my August guest host spot. Zucchini is very abundant right now as we are right in the height of summer and zucchini production in my area. Did you know that zucchini has many health benefits? Zucchini, and all summer squash, are great sources of magnesium, vitamin C, zinc, and other antioxidants. Summer squash are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, blood sugar regulation, and other healthful properties.

Thanks to Siri, the creator of this event, we have a couple of give-a-ways. The lucky winners of the event were chosen at random. The first winner is tigerfish of An Escape to Food who made zucchini wrapped quinoa sushi. The second is Janet from the Taste Space who made a wheat berry salad with pomegranate roasted vegetables. You will be contacted shortly so you can receive your lovely new cookbook.

Now, here is the round-up of recipes in the order they were received.

From Vardhini of Zesty Palate: Zucchini Mor Kuzhambu (Zucchini in Yogurt Gravy) 
A dish full of warm spices that looks delicious.

From Kalinda of Wheat-Free Meat Free: Zucchini with White Beans and Sage
A nice combination of zucchini and beans with a fresh herb.

From tigerfish of An Escape to Food: Zucchini Wrapped Quinoa "Sushi"
A creative and pretty treat!

From Janet of The Taste Space: Wheat Berry Salad with Pomegranate Roasted Vegetables
A colorful salad full of vegetables.

Also from Janet: Grilled Eggplant and Mango Noodle Salad with Sweet Chili Dressing
A dish with noodles made from zucchini!

From Denny of Oh Taste and See: Crunchy Rosti Style Zucchini Potato Pancakes
These looks crispy and delicious!

From Sukanya of saffronsteaks: Zucchini Fritters
These looks like a tasty way to use up some of your zucchini!

From Usha of My Spicy Kitchen: Zucchini Rice
A rice dish that incorporates a lot of shredded zucchini.

Lastly, is my submission of Zucchini Pancakes
A sweet way to use up some of your zucchini.

Thanks again to everyone who submitted their recipes and to Siri for this great event. I hope you all found some new ways to incorporate zucchini and summer squash into your meals this summer so you can enjoy their taste and health benefits.