Nov 10, 2014

Okra for everyone

Confession: I hate okra. Well, I guess I should say I hated okra until last night when I discovered this delicious super easy recipe that totally eliminates that sticky slimy okra thing.
Its kind of Indian with the garam masala, but its just totally delicious, or...addictive.

1 lb. okra
oil for deep frying
salt
garam masala
cayenne
1 pomegranate, seeded


  • Wash okra, trim the stems and tips and cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • Heat about an inch of oil in a skillet to 350 on a deep-fry thermometer or until an okra slice sizzles madly when slipped into the oil.
  • fry okra in batches (not more than one layer in the oil) until light brown and crisp.
  • drain okra on brown paper or paper towels
  • sprinkle with coarse salt, garam masala, and cayenne to taste.
  • toss with pomegranate seeds.






Oct 18, 2014

Potato Gratin, or Scalloped Potatoes. No, not healthy. Just Yummy


Sometimes you just have to give in to a craving. 
This delicious side dish goes great with simple grilled fish. We had it with this great cedar planked salmon. But seriously, this and a green salad would be fine for a vegetarian dinner. It is the epitome of comfort food. You can, of course, make it with all cream if you like. 
A mandoline slices the potatoes really beautifully, but BE CAREFUL with that thing-- especially if its one of those cheap-o japanese ones like mine.
Serves 6 generously





Ingredients

3/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cups half-and-half
3 bay leaves
3 sprigs fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Unsalted butter
4-5 russet potatoes,cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices (scrub well and leave on the skins)
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan, asiago, fontina, cheddar or gruyere or a mixture. 
Truffle salt (optional)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400.

In a saucepan, heat the cream and half-and-half with the bay leaves, thyme, garlic, nutmeg and salt and pepper. Right before it comes to a boil remove from heat and allow the garlic and herbs to steep.

Slice the potatoes and put into a bowl.

Butter a casserole dish. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bay leaves and thyme from the cream. Pour the heated cream into bowl with the potato slices. Mix gently to coat the potatoes. Season the mix with more salt and pepper. Mix to gently. 

Arrange the the potatoes in the casserole dish in layers. Pour the remaining cream over the top. gently lifting potato slices, scatter grated cheese between the potatoes, saving some for the top. Scatter thyme leaves, truffle salt if using, and grated pepper on top. Cover the dish with aluminum foil (parchment first if, like me, you don't like to contact your food with aluminum foil) 

Bake covered for about 45 minutes, remove foil, and bake open, about 20 minutes more or until golden brown and crusty on top.

Oct 12, 2014

Fried Green Tomatoes "Garden Clean Up Special"

end of garden green tomatoes
Slices or Fritters- You Choose!
Today I went to the vegetable garden after being away for a few days and a few rains, and found some perfectly good green tomatoes on the ground. I picked them up and decided to try making Fried Green Tomatoes, after recently enjoying the version at Dinosaur BBQ. After frying the big perfect slices, I decided to see what would happen if I chopped up the last ones, mixed the dipping egg and the coating mixture, and made some fritters at the end. To tell the truth, the fritters were really great, and a lot easier than the slices. so this is one of those versatile recipes that you can take in different directions. The fritters would be GREAT with fresh corn, with corn and chopped jalapenos, with or with chopped zucchini. Use this sauce or improvise your own {ranch/creole/bbq/blue cheese/avocado/lemon aioli/green goddess}.

Ingredients
  • 1 cup vegetable oil for frying
  • 3 large green tomatoes
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepperto taste
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk or regular milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup of cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup panko crumbs or crushed cracker crumbs (any cracker will do)
  • 3/4 cup self rising flour
  • Cajun or Creole seasoning to taste
  • 1/4 cup (or more) shredded parmesan or pecorino cheese
1. Slice the tomatoes 1/4 inch thick. Lining them up on a clean linen towel (or paper towels), blot out excess water. Season generously with cajun or creole seasoning and let sit for 5 minutes. 
2. Mix egg and milk together in a small bowl
3. Mix cornmeal, flour, and crumbs together in another bowl. Add creole seasoning to taste (use a lot!)
4. Heat oil in a heavy frying pan 
5. Dip tomato slices into the milk and egg mixture, then into the coating mixture
6. Slip into the hot oil, (slices will sizzle immediately, if not, remove and get the oil hotter) and fry for 3-4 minutes per side, turning carefully.
7. When golden brown and crisp remove to brown paper bag or paper towels to drain
8. Sprinkle with more cajun seasoning and grated cheese.

SERVE IMMEDIATELY

for the fritter version:

Chop the tomatoes into 1/4 inch cubes
Mix the egg, milk, and cornmeal mixture together.
Stir the chopped tomatoes into the mixture, and spoon heaping tablespoons into the frying oil.
Fry until brown and crisp.
Sprinkle with cheese.

Here is the Dinosaur BBQ Sauce recipe:
Mix together
1 1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 cup buttermilk
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup finely chopped chives
1 Tbsp. lemon pepper
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. Creole seasoning
1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese.





Oct 8, 2014

Healthy non dairy cornbread for chili

Ingredients

    • 2 cups whole wheat flour
    • 2 cups cornmeal
    • 4 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    • 1/2 cup honey
    • 1/4 cup  coconut oil
    • 2 cups coconut or soy milk
    • 2 eggs

Directions

  1. Combine the corn meal,flour,baking powder,and salt.
  2. Add the honey,oil,milk and eggs.
  3. Mix just enough to moisten the batter.
  4. Pour the batter into an oiled 9 by 13 inch baking pan.
  5. Bake at 375 degree oven for 20-35 minutes or until golden brown.


Sep 30, 2014

Healthy, sugar free, additive free, First Birthday Smash Cake

Healthy food, healthy happy baby
Have you ever heard of a "Smash Cake"? Well, I had not, not until our grandson's first birthday approached, and Ilana requested a healthy version for the baby to enjoy at his party. Google "Smash Cake" and you will find dozens of photos of adorable babies smearing artificially colored, sugary icing into their hair. Sure, the idea is total adorableness, but our healthy baby hasn't had any sugar yet, and nobody needs artificial food coloring, and so we figured out this "cake" for him. It is not really a cake at all, but something like a sugar-free muffin, baked in a sheet pan, cut out into layers, and "frosted" with cream cheese thinned with yogurt. This one has an egg in it, and a bit of butter, but honestly, I'm sure it would be fine with neither if allergies are a concern, because... we are essentially talking about a prop for a photo shoot.


Cake Ingredients:
3 apples, cut up and simmered with a bit of water until soft, and pureed in blender or processor
1 banana
3/4 cup oatmeal ground until fine in blender
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
1 egg
1 Tablespoon of butter, softened

Heat oven to 350.
Butter a small rimmed baking sheet (the one I used was a bit larger than the pan that would fit in a toaster oven)

1. Mash banana and add to applesauce, stir in butter and egg.
2. Mix dry ingredients, and stir into fruit mixture.
3. Scrape into pan and bake about 20 minutes until toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean
4. Cool pan on rack.
5. Using a bowl or an empty oatmeal canister, cut cake into 3 small disks

Mix "Frosting"

1 tub of room-temperature whipped cream cheese, thinned with yogurt, formula, or milk, mixed until smooth and spreadable.

Put one disk on a plate small enough to fit on the tray of a high chair (like a salad plate)
Spread with cream cheese mixture, top with another disk, more cream cheese, then last disk. The cake is pretty crumbly, so spread it gently.
Starting on the sides, cover with frosting mixture, then finally on the top.

Decorate as desired with thin slices of strawberries, grapes, or whatever you like.

Photograph With Abandon





Sep 19, 2014

Super Easy One-Bowl Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Honey-Rosemary Poached Peaches






Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Cake, looks pretty garnished with a sprinkle of Pearl Sugar

I am crazy about this super-easy delicious, non-dairy cake. In less than an hour, with only one bowl to wash this dessert or tea-time treat can be on your fork.
I love it with Meyer Lemons (for reasons obvious and also the amazing flowery-fruity taste) but you can vary it with regular lemons, lime, orange, or grapefruit juice for variety or convenience.
I mix the whole thing up in an huge measuring cup, pour it into a pan, and before you know it: cake!
You can make it in a bundt or springform tube pan, or a regular round or rectangular pan. One with removable sides makes it easy to unmold.  It will be lighter and higher in a tube pan (science!) but the denser texture of the cake made in a regular pan is delicious.
Use a nice olive oil but not a super strong one, like you would use in a salad dressing.
For the glaze, you can make a simple mixture of powdered sugar and lemon juice, or just melt a dollop of your favorite marmalade (lemon marmalade is a no-brainer), and drizzle it over the cake when it is almost cooled.

This is delicious served with sliced peaches, quickly poached in sugar, lemon, honey and a sprig of fresh rosemary: easy as can be:

Poached Peaches in Rosemary Syrup:
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
3 Tablespoons Honey
juice of one lemon
2-3 sprigs of fresh Rosemary
3-4 peaches, pitted and sliced in 1/2 inch slices
Combine sugar, honey, lemon, and water in a saucepan and cook a couple of minutes until the sugar is dissolved. Add rosemary sprigs and boil, stirring until thick. Stir in the peaches and cook until they are tender, about 4 minutes. Cool in the syrup. Serve warm or at room temperature.

In the winter, I love this served with a spoonful of sliced assorted oranges; just find a lovely assortment of different sizes and colors (blood oranges, clementines, mineolas etc- just peel them with a sharp paring knife and slice into 1/4 inch slices.



Ingredients:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup Meyer Lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
2 eggs

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F. Oil a regular-sized bundt or springform pan. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flours, sugar, salt, and baking powder and soda. Whisk well. 
  3. Make a "well" in the bowl, and and drop in eggs, juice, and oil. Quickly stir until everything is combined.
  4. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for about 45 minutes. When it is done, the edges should be brown and pulling away from the sides of the pan, and if you insert a tester it should come out clean. 
  5. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then carefully remove from the pan. Allow it to cool slightly on a wire rack.
  6. While the cake is cooling, melt the marmalade in a saucepan or microwave, or stir up the lemon glaze. Whisk together all of the glaze Then, using a spoon, drizzle the glaze over the cake. Allow to set. Serve warm or cool.

Lemon Glaze 
mix together until smooth:
3 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 cup powdered sugar


Aug 21, 2014

Maple Bourbon Vanilla Peach Butter


Bourbon Vanilla Maple Peach Butter 
Don't be intimidated by Jams and Preserves. Basically you cut up fruit and boil it with more or less sugar, pour it into jars, boil the jars, and enjoy summer as long as you can.


  • 4 pounds peaches, rinsed, peeled, halved, pitted & sliced (easily peel peaches by dropping them in boiling water for a few minutes, then dropping them in cold water)
  • 1/2 cup Grade B Maple Syrup (the oomph-ier big brother)
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 1/2 cup organic raw sugar 
  • juice of one lemon or 1/4 cup vinegar (champagne vinegar is nice)
  • 1 split vanilla bean
  1. In a large enamel pot or Dutch oven, combine bourbon, 1/2 cup maple syrup, sugar, vanilla bean, and vinegar. As you pit & slice peaches, toss in the pot so they won't turn brown. When all the peaches are in the pot, set it over medium heat, and bring to a boil stirring frequently. Turn down heat and simmer, covered, until peaches are very soft and breaking down, about 45 minutes minutes. Remove vanilla bean, scrape the tasty inside flecks and return only the flecks to the pan. (you can put the remaining vanilla pod into your sugar bag. Carefully puree in batches in a blender, or better yet buzz it up right in the pan with an immersion blender.
  2. Sterilize jars, by submerging (well-cleaned) jars right-side up in boiling water for 10 minutes. To sterilize the lids and bands, place them in the pot of boiling water with the jars. You may re-use jars and the bands, but you must not re-use lids if you intend to process them for storage.
  3. Continue to cook the peach butter over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the butter has reduced to desired thickness. Taste and add more maple syrup, sugar, and bourbon if needed. Generally, you will want it to simmer until reduced by about half and it will mound up on a spoon, or stay in a contained mass on a cool plate. If it looks like sauce, or applesauce, cook it a bit more. Keep stirring up from the bottom with a wooden spoon so it does not burn or stick. I do this on a night that I'm home cooking, and on a very low flame it can take a couple of hours. Google about doing it in a slow cooker if you have one, and don't want to babysit it.
  4. Set out a couple of hot, sterilized jars (see note) on a folded towel on a countertop.
  5.  Ladle the peach butter into the jars, leaving 1/2-inch of head room. Wipe the rims, and gently secure the lids and bands. Carefully lower jars into a big pot of boiling water for 10 minutes, starting the 10 minutes after the water returns to a boil. Transfer the jars to a folded towel on the counter and allow to cool at room temperature. After 1 hour, check the seals by pressing lightly on the tops to see if they are indented, and removing the bands from the jars, to make sure lids hold firm. If not, refrigerate that jar and eat promptly.

Jul 26, 2014

The Imam Fainted, imam Bayildi. The Best Eggplant dish ever


There are wonderful stories about the derivation of the name of this iconic Turkish Eggplant preparation (fun fact!). And as many versions of the recipe. This is my adaptation of a recipe by Martha Rose Shulman from the NY Times.
For the eggplants it is best to select small ones as fresh as you can find preferably at a Farmers Market. The reason for this is that the young fresh ones have much less bitterness because of their very small seeds. The perfect eggplants are about lemon-size. If you can find these, simply use them whole, slit before the first roasting. If they are orange- or small grapefruit size, cut them in half lengthwise (through the stems), and slit them before roasting. One of the things I like best about this dish is that it is great at room temperature, and mixes well with easy do-ahead summer salads. I served it with this chard strata, rainbow carrot salad, roasted multicolor cauliflower and a watermelon and feta salad.

  • 4 small eggplants cut in half lengthwise (or see note above)
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions, sliced thinly
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds (3 large or 6 medium) tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil 
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Optional: a dollop before serving is great!
  • 1 cup labne or Greek yoghurt mixed with grated garlic and chopped dill

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment and brush with olive oil. Slit the eggplants down the middle, being careful not to cut through the skin. Place on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, until the outer skin begins to shrivel. Remove from the oven and transfer, cut side down, to a colander set in the sink. Allow to drain for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat in a large, lidded skillet and add the onions. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are very tender, 5 to 8 minutes, and add the garlic. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds to a minute, until fragrant. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl. Add the tomatoes, herbs, salt to taste and 1 teaspoon of the sugar and 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil.
3. Turn the eggplants over and place in the pan, cut side up. Season with salt. Fill with the onion and tomato mixture. Mix together the remaining olive oil, the remaining sugar, the water and the lemon juice. Drizzle over and around the eggplants. Cover the pan and place over low heat. Cook gently for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, checking the pan for liquid and basting from time to time with the liquid in the pan, and adding water to the pan if it becomes too dry. By the end of cooking the eggplants should be practically flat and the liquid in the pan slightly caramelized. Spoon this juice over the eggplant. Allow to cool in the pan, and serve at room temperature.
Yield: Serves 4
Advance preparation: You can roast the eggplant through Step 1 and make the filling through Step 2 several hours before assembling and cooking the imam bayildi. Once cooked, the finished dish can sit for several hours.


Jul 17, 2014

Argentine Style Mixed Grill with Chimichurri Sauce

Having just returned from a fabulous trip to Brazil and Iguazu Falls, this BBQ dinner was inspired by our travels. Chimichurri is a delicious green salsa-ish sauce

The "Minute London Broil" and the Bratwurst come from Grow and Behold, but you could use any tender London Broil, and assortment of sausages that you have available. However, I cannot recommend Grow and Behold strongly enough.

The chimichurri sauce is a green and spicy blend of parsley and aromatics, you can certainly add cilantro to the mixture, and add more or less chili firepower depending on your personal taste.
There are many varieties, this one was so good I wanted to eat it by the spoonful!

Grill up the steaks (rare to medium rare is best), and the the sausages on a good hot grill. Slice thinly on an angle, and spoon on the sauce.
It was great served with a green salad, some fresh corn, This salad of Rainbow Carrots, and my should-be-famous "roast-a-touille" served over ribbons of raw zucchini (just use your vegetable peeler if you don't have a mandoline).

Chimichurri Sauce Argentina Style:

1 cup lightly packed chopped italian parsley
3 to 5 cloves garlic
2-3 garlic scapes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
2 large shallots minced
1/2 cup vegetable or olive oil
3 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
3 tablespoons lemon juice


Put all the ingredients into a food processor and chop until not quite totally smooth.



Jul 12, 2014

Frisee radish cucumber apricot salad. This week in the Farmer's Market

This Week In the Farmer's Market, and from my garden.
I made a lovely refreshing salad using this week's bounty.

1 head frisee or escarole cut in ribbons
2 cucumbers peeled and seeded, quartered, and sliced
10 radishes
5 apricots, diced
cherry tomatoes halved
small bunch of fresh mint

olive oil and lemon juice vinaigrette

line a platter with the chopped frisee, arrange other ingredients on top, scatter mint on top.
before serving, drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.