Friday, October 15, 2010

Sauteed Peaches

This summer I was able to taste the best peaches I have ever had. They were perfect. Berry and peach picking with family took me to Reed Valley Orchard, which is now my favorite orchard in the area. Granted, this may be because I don't have children. There are several really great U-pick farms with hay rides, play grounds & petting farms, but I really enjoyed how quiet Reed Valley was.

Mostly, Greg and I just ate the peaches fresh, they were so wonderful. But, we wanted a gooey desert one night, and came up with this beautiful concoction:

I sliced a peach into 6ths, then sauteed it (skin on) in butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and bourbon. Then I mixed ricotta with honey and cinnamon and served the peaches on top, swimming in the butter bourbon sauce. Yum. I am really sad that peach season is over.

1 peach
1 tbs butter
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1 TBS bourbon
1/4 tsp cinnamon & nutmeg each (for sauce)
1/4 tsp cinnamon (for cheese)
1/2 C. ricotta cheese
1 TBS honey

-Slice peach into 6 slices
-Melt butter, add brown sugar, bourbon, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir to combine.
-Add peaches, flesh side down. Saute for 2 minutes. Flip to other side, saute for another 2 minutes.
-While sauteing, mix ricotta, honey and cinnamon together. Spoon in the center of a plate.
-Arrange peaches around ricotta
-Pour sauce over peaches

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Blue Cheese Potato Salad

Separately, a strong flavored cheese and potato salad are two of my husbands favorite treats. So, when I saw a "recipe" for both in the most recent edition of Fine Cooking, I knew what I had to do. OK, so I put recipe in quotes because the flavor combination actually came from a newer section called Cooking Without Recipes, it's one of the better changes Fine Cooking made when they revamped their magazine. Well, lucky for Greg, we were cooking for a group last week when Greg's eldest brother and 3 of his children came to visit. Even though I figured none of the smaller ones would go for blue cheese, it was the perfect opportunity to try this out!

The basic ingredients to this salad are: Yukon gold potatoes, granny smith apples, walnuts, and blue cheese. Ta-Da!!! It was wonderful. One of the suggestions for making the dressing was to use sour cream along with mayo. I took this a step further and used plain yogurt - lots of creamy texture and tang, wwwwaaaayyyy less fat (and less $$$). The other two majors changes I made were to leave the skins on the potatoes, and omit the red wine vinegar (two of my adult eaters are not fans of vinegar)

I had fun making this because all of the ingredients smelled sooooo good together, and my middle niece decided she wanted to help out. She tried each ingredient on its own (said she liked everything, even the raw onion, which she picked from our garden - brave girl), and then one (very) small bite at the end to taste how everything works together.

In general, I think I used a bit too much blue cheese and over cooked my potatoes, but this is all good to know for next time =)

Recipe: serves 8-10 as a side
3lbs Yukon gold potatos - boiled and cubed
1/2 C. plain yogurt
1/2 C. mayo
2 Granny Smith apples - chopped
3/4 C. Walnuts - toasted and chopped
1 C. Blue Cheese (next time I might start at 1/2 C. and add a bit as needed)
1 small red onion - diced
1 stock celery - diced
1 tsp fresh rosemary - diced
salt and pepper

-Boil potatoes until just done. Cool and cube.

-While the potatoes are boiling, chop and dice the apples, red onion, celery and rosemary.

-Toast the walnuts until fragrant. Cool and chop. Combine the apples, onion, celery, walnuts and rosemary together.

-Mix together the mayo, plain yogurt, blue cheese and salt and pepper.

-Add the apple mixture to the potato mixture, mix to combine.

-Add the mayo mixture and mix to coat. Serve cool.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Tomato Salad

Just-picked ripe tomatoes might just be one of my favorite things. Greg and I have successfully grown our first heirloom tomatoes this year! Our Matinas are already starting to ripen, and every day we harvest a hand full of incredibly sweet and full flavor, golf-ball sized tomatoes. They are ripening at the perfect pace right now: each day we can have a few fresh tomatoes, with out them going bad. I'll have to get my canning supplies out soon, though.

My dreams of veggie full meals have been thwarted a bit, as squash bores killed my crook neck, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, and zucchini plants. Gr....

And in related cooking kitchen is undergoing reno, and is barley functional =( So, we are eating simple food like tonight's salad (or, feeding D&R as payment for using their grill and kitchen). But, who can really get sick tomato, basil, and mozz?

Recipe: Serves 1

- 2 ripe small tomatoes (2 Matinas are probably the size of an average roma), each sliced into 4 thick slices
-8 small fresh basil leaves
-8 small slices of mozzarella
-balsamic vinaigrette

-Arrange sliced tomatoes with mozzarella on top of tomato, basil on top of mozzarella, ect..

-Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette


Friday, June 25, 2010

Farmers Market Eggs

Greg and I have been trying to make more food with a variety of veggies, and with eggs. Yes this is very healthy (and yummy), but we will (hopefully) also have a huge vegetable and egg harvest this year, and we really need good recipes so we don't waste any of natures bounty. And so, Farmers Market Eggs. The only produce from a backyard garden in this picture is spinach from Rebecca's spring garden, and basil from my herb garden. The whole wheat bread is my usual, and the rest is all from a grocery store. Greg and I ate these for lunch two days in a row - they are very filling and flavorful (and cheap). I really like the base recipe here: chop veggies, satue a little, crack egg over veggies, cook and serve. Next time, I may leave out the spinach, because it began to wilt, and was hard to chew off in one bite, and tended to bring extra egg with it. But in general, I think this will lend to the rest of our future produce really well.

Recipe: makes two open sandwiches

2 eggs
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1/4 C. corn kernels
5-6 cherry tomatoes, sliced
4-6 spinach leafs
2 slices of whole wheat bread, toasted and buttered
2 tsp crumbled feta cheese
1 tsp fresh basil, chopped
salt & pepper

-Toast bread

-Grease frying pan as preferred. Turn heat to medium. Add corn, sliced cherry tomatoes, and diced jalapenos. Cook for about 1 minute, push veggies into two small piles or circles.

-Crack egg in the center of each veggie pile. Flip when yolk begins to thicken, cook to desired yolk consistency.

-Place spinach on toasted and buttered bread. Place egg on spinach. Sprinkle with feta and fresh basil. Salt and pepper to taste.


Monday, May 24, 2010

The Urban Farmer's Wife

As I mentioned in my previous post, my staging area was consumed by seedlings. Well, I would like to report that the seedlings are all in the ground! And, what better way to celebrate being a farmer's wife than to make really good wheat bread? Well, you can cover a warm slice with mini chocolate that's a way to celebrate!

I found this recipe in a a baking edition of a CIA cook book for home cooks, I believe it was Baking at Home with the CIA, but I'm not 100% on that. I've made this several times, and I've found that 1) it works best if you don't bake in a loaf pan, and 2) this bread makes a mean grilled cheese.

In garden news (which will soon be related to food news), I have a few pictures of our gardens (flower and veggie), and our CHICKEN COOP!!!!! (Note: bread recipe to follow pictures)
From left to right: covered chicken run, chicken coop, garden with picket fence made by Greg.

One cute chick. I'm not sure what species this is, we have 4 different kinds.
Garden! We have a shade-tent frame up, it's easy to put the cover on solo, very difficult to assemble the whole thing alone. The cover is really nice to work under when it is blazing hot, or drizzling. Thus far, I believe we have the following planted: Tomatoes (3 varieties), onions (2 variates), leeks, bell peppers, hot peppers (3 varieties), squash (summer and winter), melons (cantaloupe, red & orange water melon), strawberries, asparagus, lima beans, lettuce and arugula (though they bolted this weekend and are now pulled up), egg plant, carrots, parsnips, turnips, string beans...and maybe I could very well have missed something. Like I said, I am now the wife of an Urban Farmer.
Lovely old red rose. We were told when we bought the house, that these roses were there when the previous owner purchased the house, 47 years ago.
A few iris that we transplanted last summer, plus the fence sans any pickets. A lot of the flowers in the yard were so over grown that they did not bloom last year. Greg and I thinned and moved what feels like hundreds of flowers. It was so fun to watch what colors the flowers have been.

And now, the bread recipe (thanks for your patience !!!)

Recipe: makes 2 loafs

2 1/2 C. warm water
1/4 C. honey
3 1/3 C. bread flour
2 1/2 C. whole wheat flour
1 tsp yeast
1 tbs salt

-Mix warm water and honey to dissolve. Add yeast and let bloom for about 10 minutes.

-Mix flours and salt together. Slowly add to water mixture. Kneed for about 10 minutes once the dough turns smooth.

-Let rise in a warm place for about an hour to double in size.

-Gently punch down, turn onto a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Shape into rounds or baguettes. If you would like to roll dough in seeds/nuts, this would be the time. Score bread as desired.

-With the oven at 475 and a small bowl of water in oven (oven proof bowl please), place shaped dough in oven. Turn the temp down to 450 and bake for 12 minutes. Turn the temp down again to 425 and bake for another 18 minutes.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Whole Wheat Veggie Pizza

I know that it's been over two months since I've posted anything, but I have a fairly good reason: my staging area for pictures had been usurped by my Husband for starting seedlings! At one point, I believe that we had around 60 seedlings growing. We thinned plenty, and gave a few others away, but since our frost date has passed, most are now happily in the ground. And no, the veggies on this pizza are not from our garden (yet), but our squash and zucchini plants both look promising right now! This summer should be full of garden-fresh meals. The thought of cooking from our garden is a bit overwhelming. The pressure is on for quality produce, and if/when we get that, I have to not screw up a good thing from nature. I've been browsing a lot of veggie-full cookbooks, and my new favorite is from The Cooks Garden. They have the most beautiful woodcut printings of vegetables and garden life, and the recipes are so descriptive that I don't feel the need to actually see what the food looks like. I tagged about 2 dozen recipes to try, and used my family has Guinea Pigs for the pizza dough when they were here last weekend. Since we had a large crowd, I tripled the recipe and it turned out just fine. I made no major adjustments to the dough itself, just added oregano and basil for flavor. We had three pizzas: veggies with rosemary and feta cheese, ham, and cheese. I think the ham went over best.

Whole Wheat Dough (From the Cooks Garden):
1 9x13 inch pizza
1 1/4 C. warm water
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1 tbs. olive oil
1 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 C. whole wheat flour
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 C. Parmesan cheese
1/4-1/2 C. pizza sauce
corn meal
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil

-Using stand mixer, add 1/2 C. warm water to bowl, add yeast and sugar. Let set 10 minutes. Add remaining water and oil.

-Mix flour, salt, basil and oregano together. Gradually add into water and yeast mixture until the dough becomes stiff and comes together. Kneed for a few more minutes.

-For the dough into a ball, place in a large, lightly oiled bowl and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in volume.

-Sprinkle bottom of pan with corn meal. Punch down dough and roll out until pan. Let rise again for 30 minutes.

-Sprinkle dough with Parmesan cheese and bake for 10 minutes at 424 degrees.

-Remove from oven, add toppings and bake another 10 minutes.

Veggies on top: Enough for 1 9x13 pizza
1 small zucchini, sliced and quartered
1 small yellow squash, sliced and quartered
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp rosemary
1 tbs. feta cheese

-Mix all ingredients together while raw. Place over pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese while pizza is baking for the last 10 minutes.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Gyro-Style Chicken Salad

Last summer, while visiting Nick and Beth, we ate at a small Greek diner that makes very yummy gyro's. Greg and I both thought we should try to re-create the flavors at home. After doing a bit of research on the gyro and Mediterranean spices, making this dish at home seemed really easy, and in fact, it is! Greg and I have been making this at least every other month since this summer - it's so flavorful, makes a large amount (left overs), and has a great variety of textures.

Well, a gyro is basically a sandwich with pita bread, often with tzatziti sauce. The fillings and type of pita vary a lot based on location. To make this, we picked the filling ingredients that sounded best to us, with no goal of making sure the dish was regionally correct to anywhere. We actually combined several regional gyro's for this recipe.

For this picture, we did forget one ingredient that made a huge flavor difference, feta cheese! We normally crumble a tsp or so for each serving. The extra saltiness really helps to bring the other flavors together. Must remember feta for next time. I'm also excited to use produce from our garden this summer! Hm, just picked tomatoes...yum!

Recipe: Serves 6-8
1.5 lbs chicken, cut into bite size pieces
2 large potatoes of 4 small potatoes
1 can chickpeas/garbanzo beans - drained and rinsed
1 C. plain Greek yogurt
1 cucumber, 2 tsp grated, the rest sliced into thin rounds
1 tomato, sliced in to rounds, then quartered
1 lg. white onion, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, minced/grated
salt & pepper
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp ground mustard
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp rosemary
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1 dash cayenne pepper

-In a large pan, coat with EVOO and turn to medium heat. Add 3 cloves of garlic, minced. Add salt, pepper, paprika, oregano, parsley, ground mustard, cumin, rosemary, ground coriander, and cayenne pepper.

-Add onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add potatoes and chickpeas. Continue to cook for 5 minutes, stir often. You may have to turn the heat down to medium low. Add chicken, cook until chicken is done, again, stir often.

-While chicken is cooking, make the tzatziki sauce by grating 2 tsp of cucumber and one clove of garlic into Greek yogurt. Add a bit of black pepper, stir to combine.

To serve as a pita, spread yogurt sauce on the inside of a pita half, place tomato and cucumber slices inside, then a bit of crumbled feta cheese. Add chicken and potato filling. Enjoy!!!

To serve as a salad, mix chicken and cucumber slices in with chicken mixture. Drizzle with yogurt/tzatziki sauce, sprinkle with feta cheese. Serve pita triangles on the side. Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sweet Potato & Zucchini Bread

While looking at my Google Analytics, I noticed that most people who came to my site via a search engine did so by looking for Sweet Potato Cake . This is a tad ironic, since Rebecca baked and shared her recipe! Thanks Rebecca! Anyway, this made me look up more recipes for sweet potato cakes and breads. Most seem fairly standard: pureed sweet potato, nutmeg and cinnamon, eggs, vanilla ,sugar, baking powder, salt, and flour. This recipe caught my eye because of there is Zucchini added in! And, both vegges are grated. At first I did not want to try this because I thought grating sweet potato would be hard, but cleaning my food processor might be worse. Come to find out, the sweet potato was easier to grate than the Zucchini!

The original recipe from Bon Appetit called for all white sugar, only all purpose flour, just cinnamon for spice, and veg oil. I substituted 1/2 C. whole wheat flour, used half brown and half white sugar, added fresh nutmeg and clove, and used part apple sauce, part melted butter for my oil. These muffins turned out beautifully! The texture was nice and light, and the color of the zucchini nicely showed through. If anything, they were also a bit too sweet, I might cut back a bit on the sugar next time, especially if I'm using applesauce as an oil.

Recipe: makes 24 muffins or 1 9x13

1 1/2 C. all purpose flour
1/2 C. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. clove
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 C. sugar
1 C. brown sugar
1/2 C. melted butter
1/4 C. apple sauce
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1 1/2 C. grated zucchini (1 medium zucchini)
1 1/2 C. grated sweet potato (1 small sweet potato)

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-grease muffin tin or 9x13
-grate veggies, set aside.
-Combine flours, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl, set aside.
-In a separate bowl, add sugars, melted butter, apple sauce, vanilla & eggs. Slowly add dry ingredients to this bowl. Once almost combined, add zucchini and sweet potato. Continue to stir until just combined.
-For muffins, bake 15 minutes, for bread, bake 1 hr 20 minutes.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Olympic Brownies

Friday night Dan, Rebecca and Clara came over for dinner. Our meal was OK (some bad coconut chicken soup, some great sweet potato stir-fry), and Winter Olympic Brownies for dessert! Dessert of course, was eaten while watching the opening ceremonies. Nothing like eating fatty, sugary brownies to celebrate world-class athleticism and international peace.

I used my standard brownie recipe + a hand full of chocolate chips. Once the brownies were baked, I placed a paper cut-out of the Olympic rings on top, then dusted with powdered sugar. Yum!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Egyptian Lentil Soup

Please, do not judge this soup by how it looks. That is an awful, awful shade of green, I know...but it tastes so good! I acquired a selection of lentils on a recent trip to Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor has what Lexington lacks - a year round market. One of the market stores had a greater selection of lentils than Whole Foods can ever hope to carry in their bulk section. One treat I left with was just about a pound of yellow lentils (actually orange, but turn yellow when they cook) and another pound or so of very small black lentils. I mixed the two for this soup, knowing well enough that they color would be interesting (but like I tastes wonderful), I may get the yellow lentils again, to make this with just yellow. I'm sure it would be rather pretty.

I've had Iranian lentil soup before, lovingly called Ash by a high school- friend's mother. And I remember this soup tasting so good, and being so filling. I tired to look up a recipe for Ash, only to learn that "ash" is Persian for soup. So, since 2003 I've been wanting to know the secret to this delicious soup of my high school study evenings. And, I found it!!!! The secret is a combination of cumin, coriander, turmeric, and fresh parsley. It was a wonderful surprise to discover that!!!

Anyway, the recipe is derived from a recipe that was derived from someone's grandmother's recipe (this does make me wonder how authentic it now is, but it does taste just like my friend's mom's) that I found on epicurious.

I made a few changes to the spices, by consulting my Flavor Bible, but other than that, I stayed true to most of the recipe.

1 lbs dry yellow lentils - rinsed
1 medium carrot - chopped
2 red potatoes - chopped
1 large onion - chopped
1 large tomato - seeded and chopped
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
3 cloves of garlic - minced
salt and pepper
2 14.5 cans of low sodium beef broth
fresh parsley

1 C. dry rice
whole wheat pita bread

-Start cooking rice by bringing 1.5 - 2 C water boiling. Add rice, cover, turn to simmer for 45 minutes. Set aside.

-Place lentils, carrot, potato, and tomato in a stock pot. Add water until there are 2 inches of water covering the contents. Bring to a boil, then down to a simmer for 30 minutes. Once cooked, puree and remove from heat.

-Add EVOO to a skillet. Then add cumin, ground coriander, turmeric, salt and pepper. Once fragrant, add onion and saute until the onion starts to turn light brown. Add minced garlic and turn to coat. Then add onion to puree before the garlic burns. Stir to combine.

-Warm pita bread. Drizzle with a bit of EVOO and a little salt.

-Spoon rice into a bowl, pour the lentil soup over the rice. Add 1 tsp fresh parsley to each bowl. Serve with pita bread.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Asparagus Tart

This dish makes me think of Easter. We always ate ham on Easter, and asparagus just goes so nicely with ham. In fact, this could make a lovely entree for an Easter brunch. Well, this dish tasted wonderful, but had a major structural problem. There is an egg custard that gets poured into an already baked pie crust, which leaked out of the crust, and then out of the tart pan. Maybe an actual pie dish would be better suited for next time. Thankfully, Greg had a last minute premonition of egg spillage, and suggested putting tin foil on the oven rack, under the tart pan. Good suggestion =).

Anyway, this was really easy, and really yummy. Next time, I may put poached eggs on top to serve, since the egg custard was fairly thin (but then again, a decent amount of it did spill out).

1 pie crust, rolled to fit your baking dish. I used the Betty Crocker classic, but Cooks Illustrated has a fantastic recipe, using vodka (sadly, we had no vodka on hand).

1 bunch of asparagus. Cut into a bit shorter than the radius of your pie dish (or, short enough to fit into a 9x9 square)
3 red potatoes, boiled and then thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 C. milk
4 lg. eggs
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 lbs. ham
1 tsp. rosemary
1 C. Swiss Cheese, grated.

-Steam asparagus over the boiling water with potatoes cooking. Steam the asparagus until bright green and they start to become tender. Dump into cold water, then dry on a towel.

-While the potatoes are cooking, have pie crust baking. Grate black pepper on pie crust before it goes in the oven.

-Mix eggs, milk, nutmeg, 2/3 C. Swiss cheese and salt.

-Once crust is done, layer in: thinly sliced potatoes, ham, asparagus. Then pour egg mixture over the asparagus. Sprinkle with more remaining cheese.

-Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Orzo with Shrimp

Well, hello all. The past 5 months have been hectic, to say the least. Somehow, I convinced myself that it taking the equivalent of anatomy & physiology I & II in 1 semester was a sane thing to do. While I suppressed any creative instincts for the past 5 months, the "right side" of my brain is now ready for a little action. OK, I know, Orzo with Shrimp is not creative, but I didn't really cook for about 5 months, so I need some training wheels again. I actually made this dish the first week after finals to celebrate freedom, and stay warm because we were freezing here in Lexington. This picture is from Greg's re-creation of the meal. After a few quick instructions, he was cooking away when I got home from work last night!

The key for this to turn out well is to actually over cook your orzo. It should be fairly mushy - makes it all the more comforting =). This time, we used frozen pre-cooked shrimp that were just thawed. Next time, I might use fresh frozen so we can spice them up a bit, without turning them into rubber with over cooking them. A dash of fresh nutmeg would also be good for next time. I can't wait for warming weather, because I think grilled shrimp and grilled veggies would be very yummy, too!

1/2 lbs orzo
2 zucchini, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds, then cut again into halves
2 cloves garlic, minced
~2 tbs EVOO
3/4 C. parmesan cheese
shrimp - thawed and prepared to preference
salt and pepper

Boil water for orzo - let cook until very well done.

While water is boiling, turn over to 375 degrees F. Slice zucchini and cut into rounds. Toss with EVOO, minced garlic, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 5-7 minutes, until they start to turn golden brown on the edges.

Thaw and prepare shrimp while veggies are roasting.

When orzo is done, drain off most of the water. In a large bowl, slowly add parmesan cheese & stir until it starts to smell like Alfredo sauce. You may not need the whole 3/4 C. Once cheese is stirred in, add zucchini and shrimp. Toss to coat. Serve warm.