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.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Time Brings About a Change

Back home, the old folks had a saying, "Time brings about a change".  I often think about that statement when I think about food, especially the food I grew up with.  We had greens with fat back.  Yes, fat back, no salt pork in my house.  Fried chicken was a common Sunday meal.  These are the foods I grew with and they are near and dear to my heart.

No I am a little older (okay, a lot older) and starting to think about my diet a little differently.  I still like the same foods.  That will not change.  One of my students told me that her father made collard greens in the Italian style.  I was horrified.  I had a collard green throw down with one of my students one day - Asian vs. southern US.  Of course, there was no winner.  I have to say that I finally got to see one of my favorite foods prepared in a different manner - and I liked Asian collard greens.  Sometimes you just gotta change.

Another food that I ate growing up was sweet potatoes.  We baked them and added butter.  We also candied them, butter and sugar - lots of sugar. We never added salt, pepper and garlic powder.  But like I said, sometimes you gotta change.  So here is a new recipe for sweet potatoes.  They are savory and not sweet.  And they are good!

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Onions

Serves 6.

Ingredients:

4 medium sweet potatoes, about 2 pounds
1 medium yellow onion
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon salt

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 425°F.

2.  Peel sweet potatoes and cut into 2-inch cubes.  Cut onion into 1-inch pieces.

3. Place sweet potatoes and onions in a large bowl.  Add olive oil and seasonings.  Stir to combine. 

4.  Spread mixture onto a rimmed cookie sheet.  Bake at 425°F for about 35 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

If possible, roast vegetables in a metal pan.  Metal is a better conductor of heat than glass.  However, don't let the lack of a metal pan prevent you from making this recipe.  It will still be good, just not as crispy. 




Monday, February 10, 2014

Fun, Joy and Health!

Americans seem to go through phases with food.  Sometimes we want fat free, while other times we  eliminate carbohydrates.  Well, none of this sounds like fun to me.  And sometimes we forget that food should be fun and joyful! Yes, food should be fun.  And fun, joyful and healthy can coexist in a food.  So in 2014, lets fill our diet and life with fun, joy and health.

To help you with your journey, take a look at this publication, Fats in the Diet.  Briefly, this publication gives you tips on reducing the fat content of certain dishes.  It will also help you to increase good fats, such as omega-3's.  See, we are not always about 'cutting out'.




Omega-3 fatty acids are have a double bond, making it unsaturated.  Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, tuna, mullet, and sardines.  Some brands of eggs also have increased levels of omega-3 fatty acids.  These chickens have been fed a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids.  If you are looking for a plant source of omega-3 fatty acids, try flaxseed or walnuts.

So what is the big deal about omega-3 fatty acids.  Research shows that diets high in omega-3 fatty acids are associated with reduced risk of health disease.  The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that we consume 8 ounces of a variety of seafood per week.  This amount will provide an average consumption of 250mg per day of omega-3 fatty acids.

While salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, it can be expensive.  Tuna, mackerel and sardines are good, economical choices.  Below is an excellent (and inexpensive) recipe using sardines.

Fisherman's Eggs

Serves 2.

Ingredients:

1 can (3 ounces) sardines
1 small shallot, minced
1 to 2 Tablespoon minced parsley
1 garlic clove, minced
2 eggs
Salt and pepper, if desired


Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425°F.

2.  Coat two small oven-proof dishes with cooking spray.  Divide the sardines between the two dishes. 

3.  In a small bowl, combine shallots, parsley and garlic.  Stir to combine.  Set aside 1 tablespoon of herb mixture.  Top sardines with mixture.  Add black pepper, if desired. Place sardines in oven for about 10 minutes, or until sardines are heated through. 

4.   Remove from oven and place an egg on top of each dish.  Top with remaining herb mixture.  Add salt and pepper, if desired.  Place back in the oven for about 7 minutes, until the egg whites are cooked. 

Serve for breakfast or add a salad and serve for a light dinner.

For more recipes using canned sardines, check out 7 Things to do with Canned Sardines.