Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tomato Salad - Kicked Up!

In addition to writing this blog, I also develop brochures for our local foods team.  I usually do about five brochures per year. I do two in the summer and one for each of the other seasons.


 
You might think eating locally in the Midwest is difficult, but it's not. Now, come fall and winter, a Midwesterner will be consuming root crops, kale, turnips, broccoli and beans. Dietitians recommend consuming a variety of foods and eating locally is one way to accomplish that. 

This recipe is one that I did for our local foods group. It stars locally grown tomatoes. Sometimes we just slice tomatoes, sprinkle with a little salt AND EAT! But at other times, we like to dress them up. Don't worry the tomatoes still shine through.


Tomato Salad with a Shallot Vinaigrette
 
Serves 6-8.

Ingredients:

3 Tablespoons minced shallots
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon kosher salt plus more
½ teaspoon sugar
4 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 large ripe beefsteak type tomatoes, cut into ½-inch slices
2 Tablespoons capers, rinsed
Freshly ground black pepper
10 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

Directions:

1. Combine shallots, vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt, and sugar in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil to blend. Set vinaigrette aside.

2. Arrange tomatoes on a large platter. Sprinkle capers over; season with salt and pepper. Scatter basil on top. Whisk vinaigrette again; drizzle over salad. Serve immediately.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Gettin' By and Makin' Do

Some of us grew up in an era where you made do with what you had. You went without until you could afford it. You used it up and you wore it out! And it is that vein, that I am writing this blog.

In my refrigerator, I found an "empty" bottle of Dijon mustard. "Empty", meaning you can't get it all  without the addition of liquid. Enter vinegar, in this case, red wine vinegar.





I actually got the idea for using mustard in a salad dressing from the French. And you know, they got that food thing going on. The French often add mustard to salad dressings. If you to make something else with mustard, check out Serious Eats.

This is simple and it's a no recipe, recipe. Add a couple of tablespoons of vinegar to the mustard. Put the top on and shake it up. A kid will come in handy for this part. Once it's mixed, add a little olive oil, one or two tablespoons should do it. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper. You can also dress this up with parsley, chives, shallots, or not. You decide.  It's okay to store this in the refrigerator for a few days. Allow to come to room temperature before using.

I used my dressing on boiled potatoes. But don't be limited to potatoes, use green beans, green salad, asparagus. It would even be good a broiled salmon. Give it a try and you will never toss an "empty" mustard jar again.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

You Asked for It!

Recently I posted this beautiful picture (if I must say so myself) on Facebook. Immediately, I got 'likes' and people wanted the recipe. Music to a foodie's ears. To all of my Facebook friends who 'liked' it and asked for a recipe, thank you and here's the recipe.

 
 
First of all, this is a recipe for chermoula (no we can't pronounce it either). Chermoula is a sauce of North African origins. After making it, I was reminded of a pesto, but with more oil. According to my resources, it is a marinade, or used to rub onto meats. I tried it on chicken and was impressed, along with my dining companions. I am looking forward to trying it on fish.
 
 
Chermoula

 
Makes 1½ cups.
 
Ingredients:
 
8 garlic cloves
½ cup parsley sprigs
cup cilantro sprigs
Grated zest of 2 lemons
4 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup olive oil
 
Directions:
 
Combine the garlic, parsley, cilantro, lemon zest, paprika, chili powder, cumin, and salt in a blender or food processor. Puree mixture on low speed until you get a coarse puree; do not process until smooth. With the food processor running, add oil in a thin, steady stream. Blend until a thick paste forms.
 
Note: You may want to start with less olive oil.  You can always add more.  This mixture will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
 

How I Used Chermoula

Firstly, I butterflied a chicken. I then rubbed the chicken with salt and pepper. After stirring the chermoula, I used about ½ cup to coat the chicken. I placed the chicken on a bed of sweet potatoes and red onions. You can use any vegetable to wish, Yukon gold or russets work well. I am thinking about trying winter squash next.
 
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Lay the chicken on the vegetables. Cook until the skin has started to brown, turn the oven done to 375°F and cook for another 10 minutes. Finally, turn to 350°F and cook until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160°F. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Traveling South

This summer I had the pleasure of 'traveling south'. As you know, all 'northerners' love to go to the south. Funny, southerners only travel north for a funeral, but that's a blog for a different time.


Mayfield Dairy Cow, the Welcome Sign for Ruby Falls, Chattanooga, TN

My first stop was Huntsville, AL. My friends and I went to dinner at Posey's Restaurant. The food was good and brought back great memories for a displaced southerner, fried chicken, fried fish, pinto beans, and cornbread sans sugar. You get the picture.

Blount Museum in Knoxville, TN
 
The main draw of Posey's seems to be the buffet. On one of my many visits to the buffet, I noticed an older gentlemen crumbling cornbread onto a plate. Onto which he then poured likker from the pinto beans. He ended up with a few beans, not too many, he was aiming for the likker. He told us that as a child, he would put extra water in the beans, just to make sure there was enough likker for his cornbread.

Nutritionist talk about legumes and grains forming complete proteins. That is, they contain all the essential amino acids in the right proportion to substitute for meat. I am sure this gentlemen knew none of that, but he knew beans and cornbread is a 'darn good' combination. And sometimes, that's all that matters.

Since I also stopped by the Lodge Factory Outlet Store in South Pittsburg, Tennessee, I thought writing about beans and cornbread would be great. I know it's the middle of summer, but I still like beans and cornbread. And besides I break in my new Lodge skillet.

Blount Museum in Knoxville, TN
  
As I began to think more about this posting, I started to wonder how beans and cornbread came to be. So I googled it. Turns out, there are tons of hits for beans and cornbread. Guess I am not the only one eating them.

Here is my recipe for beans and cornbread. I kept them both simple and original. That is, I am using pork fat.

Pinto Beans

Serves 4 to 6.

Ingredients:
1 cup dry pinto beans
2 slices bacon or about 4 ounces smoked meat, pork or turkey
1 hot pepper pod or 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions:
1.  Sort beans to remove any rocks and partial beans. Rinse beans in cold water. Place beans in container cover with water to about 2 inches above the beans. Refrigerate overnight.

2. Drain beans and rinse. Add beans to a large pot. Cover with water to about 2 to 3 inches above the beans. Cover and simmer for about 2 hours until beans are tender. Add more water if necessary.

Cornbread

Ingredients:

¼ cup bacon fat
1 cup yellow corn meal
½ cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup milk
1 large egg

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Place bacon fat in skillet and heat, either on the stove top or in the oven.

2. Combine corn meal, flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk, milk, and eggs.

3. Add wet ingredients the corn meal mixture. Stir to combine.

4.  Pour hot bacon fat into batter and stir gently. Pour batter into hot skillet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Source: The Pioneer Lady









 

Monday, June 9, 2014

A Summer Without Rhubarb!

I write about rhubarb every summer. After all, it is my favorite vegetable.  And why not? You put sugar and butter on it, mix it into cake batter or throw it in a pie crust. You eat it and call it a vegetable! Life is Good!



Every year, I think 'I cannot find another rhubarb recipe'. Just when I think I have come to the end of the rhubarb recipes, low and behold, another recipe pops us.

This year I found a recipe for rhubarb bread. Quite tasty. Check out Discover Seasonal Cooking later this summer for that recipe. It's a real gem.

I also found a recipe for Rhubarb Frangipane Pie. A new recipe - for rhubarb. I was in 'hog heaven'. As it turns out, frangipane is an almond flavored pastry cream. After making the pie, I thought the frangipane would be good with other fruit based desserts. When I looked through my resources, it stated that frangipane is often used with fruit based desserts. Okay, so my idea was not original. That's fine, cooking is about each of us making discoveries in our own time.

Here is my recipe for rhubarb frangipane pie. The original recipe called for a cornmeal crust. I ditched that in favor of a regular crust. You decide.

Rhubarb Frangipane Pie

Makes one 9-inch pie.

Ingredients:

Source: First Prize Pies by Allison Kave and Tina Rupp
cup slivered almonds, toasted
cup sugar
6 Tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 Tablespoon all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon vanilla flavor

Rhubarb Filling:
¾ cup sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
1½ pounds rhubarb, sliced, about 3 cups
Zest of one orange
Egg wash or milk, for glaze
Raw or brown sugar, for garnish

Pie dough, for two crusts

Directions:

1. Frangipane Filling. In a food processor, grind almonds and sugar until the mixture is sandy. Add butter, egg, flour, and vanilla. Process until mixture is smooth. Set aside until ready to assemble the pie.

2. Rhubarb Filling. In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Add the rhubarb and orange zest. Stir mixture to coat the rhubarb.

3. Roll out pie crust and place in a 9-inch pie plate. Spread frangipane over the bottom of the crust. Top with rhubarb mixture. Brush edges of pie crust with egg wash or milk.

4. Roll out the second pie crust into an 11-inch circle. Place crust over top of pie. Trim edges of second crust. Press the two crusts together to seal.

5. Brush crust with egg wash or milk. Sprinkle sugar over the top. Cut vents in the top crust to allow steam to escape.

6. Baking the Pie. Preheat oven to 425°F.

7. Place pie on a large rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 30 to 40 minutes, until the crust is golden and the filling is set. Remove the pie to cool completely, at least one hour.

Source: First Prize Pies by Allison Kave and Tina Rupp






Monday, April 21, 2014

Buttermilk, It's Not Just for Chocolate Cake

Buttermilk seems to be the most hated dairy product, except for making things like fried chicken and chocolate cake, it doesn't get much use. It's a shame. There was a time when Americans, particularly southerners actually drank buttermilk. My parents and grandparents mixed buttermilk and cornbread for a light "supper". Over time, consumption of buttermilk fell.


When I talk to my students about buttermilk, they immediately turn up their noses. They haven't even tasted it. But I press on. I tell them the original buttermilk was the milk left after churning butter. Since the fat is removed, buttermilk is a low fat product.

Buttermilk is made by adding microorganisms to low fat milk, making it a fermented product, like yogurt. These microorganisms, commonly referred to as lactic acid bacteria, convert lactose into lactic acid and may possess probiotic activity. Because lactose is converted to lactic acid, it is a low lactose product. Good news for those who are lactose intolerant.

Recently, there appears to be an upswing in the consumption of buttermilk and other fermented foods. Research is beginning to show health benefits of consuming fermented products such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi. These products may help with digestion, enhance the immune system.

I have always wondered why the dairy industry did not add fruit and sugar to buttermilk like they did with yogurt. After all, Americans did not eat yogurt until we added fruit and sugar.

If you want to make your own buttermilk, add ½ cup of buttermilk and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt to 2 cups of milk. Cover and allow to sit at room temperature for about 24 hours. The milk will thicken and a curd will form. Refrigerate until ready to use.


If you want to try buttermilk, this mango lassi recipe is a good place to start.  Lassi is an Indian beverage made with yogurt or buttermilk and fruit.  If you have leftover lassi, make freezer pops.

Mango Lassi

Serves 4.

Ingredients:

2½ cups chopped peeled mango
4 cups (1 quart) buttermilk, shake before using
¼ cup sugar

Directions:

1.  Purée mango and buttermilk until smooth.  If desired, strain mixture through a fine sieve into a large picture.  Add sugar and stir to dissolve.


Monday, March 31, 2014

The Hawley Hamlet

Last fall I had the pleasure of visiting The Hawley Hamlet.  The Hawley Hamlet is a group of about 26 neighbors who decided to grow some of their own food.  It was an amazing evening.  I spent most of the evening in awe of the entire process.  There were sweet potatoes, large sweet potatoes.  There was butternut squash growing on tomato cages.  Hope for those with less space for gardening.  There was kale, strawberries, and of course, tomatoes.  You name it they seem to be growing it.


 
The 'instigator' of the project, Tim Rinne, has a goal to have at least one food from the garden on his plate 365 days per year.  Yes, I was amazed by all the food these neighbors are growing.  But what blew my mind away was level of community engagement.  One person started it, but others embraced the idea.  Even city government loves this project.  I just imagine all these people getting to know each other.  Imagine, a neighborhood where people talk to each other - face-to-face.  Reminds me of Mayberry and a simpler time.

If you want to know more about Tim Rinne and The Hawley Hamlet, check out the April edition of Mother Earth News.  If you want to start a garden, check with your local county extension office.  They will usually have a master gardener's program.  Local nurseries are also good sources of information.  After all, they want to sell gardening supplies.  If you are a little intimidated by the idea of gardening, start small.  Container and herb gardening are great ways to get started with gardening.

It's almost spring - I'm talking temperature, not the calendar.  I thought a recipe of asparagus, lettuce and lemon would be a good way to start off the gardening year.  To Hawley Hamlet, thanks for showing the rest of us the way.  I hope your project spreads all over the city. And Happy Gardening!


Roasted Asparagus and Spring Greens
with Lemon Shallot Vinaigrette

Serves 6.

Ingredients:

3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed
½ cup shallots, finely minced
¼ cup lemon juice, preferably fresh
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
6 cups baby spring greens
6 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 400°F.
2.  Place asparagus on a large-rimmed baking sheet in a single layer.  Drizzle with one tablespoon olive oil.  Roast until crisp-tender, about 10 - 12 minutes.  Set aside to cool.
3.  Dressing. In a small bowl, whisk shallots, lemon juice, mustard, pepper, salt and remaining two tablespoons of olive oil until thoroughly blended.
4.  Toss greens with about one-half of dressing.  Place greens on a serving platter.  Top with asparagus spears.  Top asparagus with more dressing and cheese.