Sunday, November 30, 2008

Chocolate Cream Pie

I have to be honest, I have no idea if this pie is any good at all and I probably never will unless I make another one. You see, I love pumpkin pie and until the last piece of pumpkin is gone I will not touch this pie. This was David's pie request for Thanksgiving and I can almost guarantee that this pie will be gone by the time I finish the Pumpkin Pie. It was really simple to make, although I did notice it was a little runny, should probably have cooked it just a little longer. I can't imagine it is too terrible considering the last photo...

Chocolate Cream Pie
from Allrecipes
INGREDIENTS:
3/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 (1 ounce) squares
unsweetened chocolate
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (9 inch) pie shell, baked
DIRECTIONS:
1. Combine sugar, flour, milk, and chopped up chocolate in 2 quart saucepan. Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until mixture begins to bubble. Continue stirring for 2 minutes.
2. Mix a little of the hot mixture into the egg yolks, beating rapidly to avoid cooking the yolks. Stir the warm yolk mixture into the remainder of the chocolate mixture, and cook for an additional 90 seconds. Remove from heat, and stir in butter or margarine and vanilla.
3. Pour filling into pie shell, and chill until set. Top with whipped topping, and a little grated chocolate.

I swear it did have whip cream, it was just very hard to get a photo...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Saturday Morning

The last Saturday morning in November. Here in Fairbanks we appreciate the little things. That beautiful pink light when the sun rises at 11 a.m., and today the redpolls returned to our bird feeder. That little red spot on the top of their heads is a bright spot in these very dark days. I must admit that I am looking forward to our next month of darkness. It is a time to slow down and relax. We can sit and drink coffee a little longer on the weekends. Time to catch up on reading and other long put off household chores like cleaning out the kitchen cabinets. Since purchasing all those canning jars to store all my dried good I have been wanting to get them all arranged.  They really look pretty all lined up with their contents in clear view. Now, maybe I should just take the door off the cabinet so I could see them all the time...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Pumpkin Pie

I like Pumpkin Pie, in fact I really like Pumpkin Pie. I'm really not too picky about Pumpkin Pie and when I read this recipe I wasn't really even sure I needed a super smooth Pumpkin Pie. Pumpkin Pie is one of the easiest kinds of pie to make (especially when you use the crust from the red box). Did I really need to make things more complicated by cooking the filling and putting it through a strainer? Is this really necessary? I'm here to tell you that it is not necessary, but it sure is good. This lightly spiced pumpkin pie really brings out the true pumpkin flavor. I don't think I will go back after trying this recipe. 

Pumpkin Pie Filling
from Cook's Illustrated
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3 large eggs plus 2 large yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 cup drained candied yams from 15-ounce can (see note)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon table salt

Whisk cream, milk, eggs, yolks, and vanilla together in medium bowl. Combine pumpkin puree, yams, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in large heavy-bottomed saucepan; bring to sputtering simmer over medium heat, 5 to 7 minutes. Continue to simmer pumpkin mixture, stirring constantly and mashing yams against sides of pot, until thick and shiny, 10 to 15 minutes.Remove pan from heat and whisk in cream mixture until fully incorporated. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl, using back of ladle or spatula to press solids through strainer. Rewhisk mixture and transfer to warm prebaked pie shell. Place pie plate with baking sheet underneath in oven and bake pie for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Reduce heat to 300 degrees and continue baking until edges of pie are set (instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 175 degrees), 20 to 35 minutes longer. Transfer pie to wire rack and cool to room temperature, 2 to 3 hours. Cut into wedges and serve.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Holy Mole! I am stuffed...

We decided early this week that we would like to deviate a bit from the traditional midwestern style (bland) turkey dinner. David has been asking for turkey mole for a while and so we decided that would be our starting point for the meal. Our final menu looked like this:
Turkey Mole from Cook's Illustrated
Creamy Corn Pudding from Cook's Illustrated
Pumpkin Pie from Cook's Illustrated
Despite a slow start (it was nearly 3pm before we put our turkey in the oven), our dinner turned out  how I had hoped. Things were rushed in the end and I ended up cutting some corners, but all turned out well. Magically all the different flavors and spices complemented each other nicely and gave the meal a nice twist. David was a little nervous about the mole, he stirred the pot as I added the ingredients. He was wondering if we had any of the jar stuff as back up, but luckily we didn't need it. I would imagine this mole to be pretty simple when you are not trying to make four other things at the same time! I'm sure I won't be able to get away with the jar stuff ever again...

Mole Sauce 
adapted from Cook's Illustrated
INGREDIENTS
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion , minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
3 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth , plus more if needed
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes , drained
1/4 cup raisins
2 tablespoons peanut butter
Table salt and ground black pepper
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
INSTRUCTIONS
1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until just shimmering. Add the onion, chili powder, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and cloves and cook until the onion is softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

2. Stir in the broth, tomatoes, raisins, and peanut butter and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 20 minutes.

3. Puree the sauce in a blender (or food processor) until smooth. (I used an immersion blender) Return the sauce to the skillet and simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes.  Add additional broth as needed to thin the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately over turkey and sprinkle with cilantro.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cranberry and Jalapeno Sauce


Last Saturday we went to a holiday gathering with my co-workers and had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings. So, we decided that we would do something a little nontraditional for our Thanksgiving meal. I won't give away the surprise yet. I can tell you that there will be turkey, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie. Tonight, I made our cranberry sauce. It is very telling as to what the rest of our meal might look like. 


Cranberry and Jalapeno Sauce
12 ounces fresh cranberries
zest of 1 orange, finely grated
juice of 2 oranges
2 tablespoons tequila
1/2 cup sugar
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely minced
Instructions: Makes about 1 1/2 Cups
Add enough water to the orange juice to make one cup of liquid.
Combine cranberries, orange zest, juice and water, tequila, and sugar in a large pot. Bring to a slow boil, stirring occasionally. When the cranberries begin to pop, add the chopped jalapenos and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. If the sauce seems a little thick, add a bit more water. Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl and chill.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sweet Potato Cake

I have joined another online cooking group. The Cake Slice Bakers are baking one cake a month for the next year from from the Sky High Irresistable Triple Layer Cakes Cookbook. I bought this cookbook a few months back and I thought joining this group would give me motivation to use the cookbook. This was another great selection. The cake was moist and the orange cream cheese filling was a nice addition. I highly recommend this cookbook. I won't give out all the recipes on this site, but I will share some highlights from the baking process...



Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tofu Tikka Masala

I love making Indian food on the weekend when I can go all out and make samosas, naan, chutneys, and raitas. I like to let the chicken and tofu marinade for hours and then cook it in the oven. The best part about Indian food is adding the spices to the pan one at a time letting the scent build through the kitchen. Then there are other nights when I just want Indian food and I want it quick. This is the recipe for those nights. If I stay on top of the whole process I can make tofu tikka masala with homemade naan in less than an hour. David  has to make the rice though, because I always forget about it. This recipe is very loosely adapted from Madhur Jaffrey's Simple Indian Cookery. 

Tandoori Tofu
1 package extra firm tofu cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1 cup plain yogurt
1 onion
1 garlic clove
1 inch piece of fresh ginger root
1-2 hot green chillies, sliced
2 teaspoons garam masala

Preheat oven to 550 degrees. Place tofu in a flat bottom casserole dish or small glass baking dish. Puree all remaining ingredients in a food processor. I like to use a mini 3 cup food processor for this job. Pour puree over tofu and let sit until oven it up to temperature. 
(I like to start my naan while waiting for the oven to heat) Place tofu in oven until top is brown approximately 15 minutes. Immediately start the Tikka Masala. 

Tofu Tikka Masala
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon vietnamese cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 onions, finely chopped
2 teaspoons finely grated ginger root
2 teaspoons garlic, crushed to a pulp
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne or more depending on how hot you like it
1 tablespoon bright red paprika
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon salt
1  15 oz. can of tomato sauce

Put the oil in a large, wide and deep pan and set it over medium heat. When very hot add cinnamon and cardamom. Stir once then add the onions and stir until they begin to turn brown on the edges. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring for one minute. Add remaining spices one at a time stirring continuously. Add tomato sauce and stir for one more minute. Add the Tandoori Tofu directly from oven into the mixture, stir to mix, turn the heat to low and cover. You can serve immediately or keep warm while finishing naan or other side items. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Winter Squash, Pear, and Sunchoke Lasagna

Don't try this at home! Sometimes, when you have a CSA and the vegetables start piling up you get desperate. Sometimes you will try any recipe that will use up as many vegetable as possible in one sitting. It really breaks my heart to have any of my produce go to waste considering what it takes to get it here, not to mention the cost. So, out of desperation I made Winter Squash, Pear, and Sunchoke Lasagna. The thing must have weighed 20 pounds. This lasagna was thick, pasty, and dry. It took a lot of beer and hot sauce to get it down, but in two nights we managed (with a little help from the dog).

Monday, November 17, 2008

Dutch Potato Soup

I promise I will get back to the kitchen and cooking regularly soon. Last week was a busy week (poor David had to eat frozen pizza), so here is a soup I made a while back but never posted. It was really good, but we made it with Chipotle Biscuits and they stole the show...

Cafe Flora is quickly becoming one of my favorite cookbooks. I have not made anything from this cookbook that I have not loved. This soup is no exception.

Dutch Potato Soup
from Cafe Flora Cookbook

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
Salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds potatoes, unpeeled and sliced
4 cups vegetable stock
1 teaspoon caraway seeds toasted and ground
3/4 cup beer, lager or pilsner
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups smoked Gouda cheese
Freshly ground pepper

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and saute until the onion is soft and translucent, about 10 minutes, stirring several times. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add the potatoes and stock. Bring the pot to a boil, cover,  and cook the potatoes until tender, about 10 minutes. Puree the soup with an immersion blender. Add the ground caraway seeds and beer. Bring to a boil then stir in the cream. Return the soup to a simmer and stir in the cheese, a half cup at a time until it's melted. Simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, to melt the cheese. DO NOT BOIL, or you will curdle the soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve at once. 

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Persimmon Cake with Spicy Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting


It was so nice to spend the day puttering around my kitchen after a crazy week of frozen pizza and other not so great menu selections. The last two weeks I have had persimmons in my CSA and I have been trying to figure out what to do with them. I was at a party Friday night and many people there have the same CSA and we all agreed that the persimmons are very pretty, but nobody had used them yet. I searched the internet for a while and was inspired by this recipe for Persimmon Spice Cake. I wasn't really up for converting everything from grams to cups, so I decided to go out on a limb and make it up. I usually don't do this with baking, but now I am thinking I should do it more often. Once the cake was complete I decided it needed some frosting. This is very similar to carrot cake with a little zip. It is even better the next day. 

Persimmon Cake with Spicy Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Cake Ingredients:
4 to 6 very ripe, soft persimmons, yeilding 1 1/4 cup pureed pulp
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 3/4 cups unsifted flour
1 tsp cinnamon (Vietnamese if you want an extra kick)
1/2 tsp each fresh nutmeg and ground cloves
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 tsp Grand Marnier

Frosting Ingredients:
8 oz. cream cheese
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. Vietnamese Cinnamon (regular cinnamon will work, but not be as spicy)
1 tsp. Grand Marnier

Cake Directions:
Puree persimmons until smooth and strain through a mesh sieve. Stir in baking soda. Mix well. This will cause the persimmons to set to a hard gelatinous consistency. This is normal and kind of cool.
Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg and persimmon mixture. Combine flour and spices and add to mixture. Blend well, stir in nuts and Grand Marnier. Spoon into a 9 inch greased cake pan. Bake at 350 for about 40 or more until knife comes out clean.

Let cool completely before frosting. 
Frosting Directions:
Beat cream cheese, and powdered sugar until well blended. Add Grand Marnier, and Cinnamon and blend until smooth and color is even throughout. 

Friday, November 14, 2008

Peanut, Yam, and Chipotle Soup


I find myself making a lot more soup this time of year. Here is another flavorful one from the Cafe Flora Cookbook. 

Peanut, Yam and Chipotle Soup
adapted from Cafe Flora

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium yellow onion
salt
1 tablespoon minced, peeled fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted and ground
1 large yam (about 1 pound, peeled and cubed)
4 cups vegetable stock
3 tablespoons natural peanut butter
1/8 teaspoon chipotle powder
peanuts, toasted and chopped

Heat the oil in a large heavy bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and saute until the onion is soft and translucent, about 10 minutes, stirring several times. Add the ginger, garlic, and coriander seed, and cook for 1 minute.
Add the stock and the yam and bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the head to low and cook, covered, until the yam is very tender, about 10 minutes.
Puree about 2 cups of the soup in a blender and return to pot, or use an immersion blender careful to leave a few larger pieces of yam. 
Stir in the peanut butter, and chipotle powder. Bring the pot to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add salt to taste. Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with chopped peanuts, and serve. 

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I won! I won!

I can't tell you how many times I have been online making a purchase, looking up information, or just surfing and have one way or another been entered into an online contest or sweepstakes. It seems like you can't get much information off the internet these days without first giving up your address. I always think that nobody ever wins these things, but guess what? Somebody does, and one of those somebody's was me. I received a package slip in the mail last week and the slip said the package was from Bloomsbury. I had not ordered anything and thought the slip might be an error, it did however have my name on it. So, I went to the post office on Saturday and they couldn't find the package. I was somewhat curious about the contents of my mysterious package but growing ever doubtful that it actually existed. Despite the fact that I had 100 things to do at work on Monday, I took a break and ran out to the post office. After some serious searching the postal worker walks towards me with an envelope and I could see this on the back...I had not received any notification, not even an e-mail, butI knew right away that I had actually won something. I wasn't sure which cookbook it was, so I tore the package open before I was even out of the post office. I wanted to yell right then and there, I won, I won like some crazy Publishers Clearing House prizewinner! I managed to keep myself under control and open the package to find Urban Italian. This is no wimpy prize, Urban Italian is one hefty cookbook and the best part is that their signature recipe is gnocchi. Those of you who have been following what I have been up to on this blog know that gnocchi is on my list of cooking challenges for this winter. I am very excited to dig into this cookbook. Yes, I will shamelessly promote it because I won, I won!
I also loved the little bookmark enclosed with the cookbook because it truly reflected my sentiments in that moment.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Suppa Club #3- Pork Roast with Three Mushroom Ragout

I know you have heard it before, but I am really bad about reading recipes. Here's my latest story...
Our most recent Suppa Club I voted for this recipe. I don't really like pork, but David loves it. I do really like mushrooms. I figured the worst case scenario I could just eat the mushrooms since there were going to be a lot of them. I figured choosing this recipe would motivate me to make a pork recipe. The day I was going to buy the ingredients I finally read through the entire recipe to discover I needed to cook this roast in a crock pot. Did I mention that I don't own a Crock Pot? At this point I was standing in the grocery store. I could not bring myself to buy a crock pot on the spot, so I put the pork roast down and decided to think about it for a few days. Then I read Molly's post about her Crock Pot not having a timer and how her pork all fell apart and decided if I was going to buy a Crock Pot that I better get one with a timer. A few days later Fred Meyer had a sale on Crock Pots and so I bought myself a brand new Crock Pot with a timer.
I never realized how expensive a blog can be! First you find yourself sending jelly to Norway, then you have to buy a Crock Pot, anther site wants me to make $135 worth of soup (don't worry David, we will not be eating $135 soup). The trouble is that it is so much fun! I am finding so many resources for recipes and ingredients.
This months recipe chosen by Ingrid was a Pork Roast with Three Mushroom Ragout from Cooking Light. The only minor changes I made were that I added a few Chanterelle mushrooms because there were only four Shiitake mushrooms left at the grocery store. I also used tomato sauce instead of crushed tomatoes because David can not eat whole tomatoes. Also eliminated the Sun-Dried ones as well.

Yield
5 servings (serving size: 3 ounces pork, 1 cup sauce, and 1 cup noodles)
Ingredients
1 (3 1/2-ounce) package shiitake mushrooms
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes, divided
2 tablespoons chopped fresh or 2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 (8-ounce) packages button mushrooms, cut in half
1 (8-ounce) package cremini mushrooms, cut in half
1 large onion, cut into 8 wedges
1/2 ounce sun-dried tomatoes, packed without oil, quartered (about 6)
1 3/4 pounds boned pork loin roast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
5 cups cooked medium egg noodles (about 4 cups uncooked pasta)
Preparation
Discard shiitake mushroom stems; cut caps into quarters.
Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes, and thyme in an electric slow cooker; stir well with a whisk. Add all mushrooms, onion, and sun-dried tomatoes.
Trim fat from pork. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper; place on top of mushroom mixture. Pour 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes over pork. Cover with lid; cook on high heat for 1 hour. Reduce heat setting to low; cook 7 hours. Remove pork from slow cooker; cut into slices. Serve over noodles.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Shepherd's Pie

I was really nervous about this recipe from A Good Appetite. I realized about halfway through that the serving size was way off. It was supposed to make about three cups. I ended up putting it in a 5 cup casserole dish. Then  I realized there was no oven temperature, so I put it in at 400 degrees and hoped for the best. Let's just say there was not a bite left in the casserole at the end of our dinner. We had to hold ourselves back just to give the dog one little morsel. I like the idea of the fennel, but I will be honest, we really could not taste it in this recipe. The flavors just blended together and the fennel just didn't stand out. The mashed potatoes were the best part. We also added a few green bean we had in the fridge.

Shepherd's Pie
from A Good Appetite
1 lb potatoes, peeled & cut into large pieces
2 T half & half
1 T butter
1 egg yolk
salt & pepper
1 T olive oil
2 small leeks, white & light green parts sliced
2 small fennel bulbs , sliced
1 medium carrot, chopped
2 small peppers chopped
3/4 lb lean ground beef
1 T all-purpose flour
3/4 c chicken broth
1 T tomato paste
1/4 c frozen peas
2 T fennel frond, chopped

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add potatoes & a dash of salt. Boil the potatoes for 20 minutes until tender. Drain. Return the potatoes to the pot, add the half & half, butter & egg yolk & mash until smooth & fluffy. Salt & pepper to taste. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the leeks, fennel bulb, carrots & peppers & cook until the vegetables become tender. Add the ground beef & cook until browned through. Stir in the flour & cook while stirring for a minute. Add the chicken broth & tomato paste & stir until thickened. Add the peas & fennel fronds & stir until just heated.

Divide the beef stew between two 1 1/2 c ramekins. Top with the mashed potatoes. Dot with a little butter if you wish. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet & into the oven. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes until the potatoes are golden brown.

Serves 2

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Meyer Lemon Jelly

The other night I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my Meyer Lemons before they went bad. I knew I wanted to make lemon bars which I did in this post, but I also wanted to make Marmalade or something I could preserve for a while when I came across this recipe for Meyer Lemon Jelly on Diane's World blog. The marmalade recipe was really time consuming, but the jelly sounded really easy. I on the other hand was very uneasy. This fall I didn't have the greatest luck making jelly. Most of the jelly didn't set up and the thought of any more "syrup" filling my cupboards made me a bit quesy. I decided it was time to conquer my fears...
This is the first time I have used liquid pectin and I have been converted. It worked beautifully and the jelly started to set right away. I was so excited. Did I mention that I also tackled this challenge on election night? Well, I take this as a good sign that things really are going to change. I am now convinced that next fall when our abundance of blueberries return to Alaska I will be prepared to make jelly like a pro! 

Meyer Lemon Jelly
from Diane's World
4 cups filtered lemon juice, preferably Meyer lemons, or juice with an electric juicer that removes most of the pulp and seeds
7 cups sugar
2 (3 oz) pouches liquid pectin
In an 8-qt stainless steel pan, over medium high heat, heat the juice until warm. Add the sugar and heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Increase the heat to medium high and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly.  Stir in the entire contents of both pectin pouches. Return the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat.
Quickly skim off any foam and immediately ladle the hot jelly into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe there jar rims and threads and apply screw rings. Process half-pint jars in a 200 degreeF water bath for 10 minutes, pint jars for 15 minutes.
From Blue Ribbon Preserves cookbook.
Yield: 7 to 8 half-pint jars

Friday, November 7, 2008

Barley Risotto with Golden Beets and Greens

I had been looking forward to making this golden beet and barley recipe for a long time. We are really enjoying our golden beets, so it just seemed like just disappeared before I could make it. Unfortunately, we were really hungry and after one hour and 10 minutes the barley still had not cooked down and soaked up all the water. So, we had soup! I did try and strain out as much water as possible. The original recipe was a little salty for us as well. I would cut the salt to half a teaspoon next time.

Barley Risotto with Golden Beets & Greens
from Allison's Lunch

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 cup pearl barley, rinsed
2 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
3 medium golden beets, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
1 to 2 bunches chard, beet greens, or kale
black pepper

1. In a large, heavy pot over high heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and 1 teaspoon of salt and sauté until the onion is starting to brown lightly—5 minutes or so. Add the barley, ginger, and rosemary and sauté, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the beets (unless they are already roasted—see note, above) and 4 cups of water and bring to a boil.
2. Cover the pot and simmer the barley over low heat, stirring fairly often (but you don’t need to be stirring it obsessively). You’ll need to add more water periodically to keep the barley from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Cook until the barley is tender and the beets are completely cooked. This will take something like 40 minutes, but just keep tasting to see how it’s coming along. The barley releases starches as it cooks, so at the end, you’ll have a beautiful creamy porridge-like risotto.
3. While the barley cooks, prepare the greens. Remove their stems and chop the leaves into ½-inch slices. If you’re using kale (I recommend it!), you’ll need to blanch it, first. Boil it in a pot of salted water until tender (5-8 minutes—just keep tasting it).
4. When the barley is tender and creamy, add the greens to the pot, and if they were raw when you added them, cook, uncovered, stirring often, until the greens are tender (3 to 5 minutes). If the beets were already roasted, add them now. Taste for salt. Make sure to add enough to really bring the flavors up. Season with pepper to taste.
5. If you have time to cover it and let it rest for a 30 minutes to an hour before serving, do so. Reheat just before serving.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Meyer Lemon Bars

I have eaten plenty of lemon bars. Quite frankly some good and some not so good. You know the ones at a potluck where you think who brought the terrible shortbread and then someone says "aren't those lemon bars good?".  I think someone forgot the lemon. As far as I can remember I have never attempted to make lemon bars myself. I had always assumed they were very difficult based on the number of not so good ones I  have encountered. As I stared at the pile of meyer lemons sitting on my counter I thought I should really make something with them before they go bad. I would never forgive myself after having them shipped to Fairbanks from California. Then the next day one of my co-workers brought in some lemon bars (the good ones) and I felt inspired. Unfortunately, I kept forgetting to ask for the recipe and the lemons were continuing on their slow decline. Last night I couldn't take it any longer. After dinner I pulled out the lemon zester and removed all the zest from the lemons and then proceeded to juice them all. I knew I wanted to make lemon jelly, but what to do with all that zest? So, I hopped on the internet to look through some recipes I had saved on my previous Meyer Lemon post and found the Luscious Lemon Bars I had saved from the Alpineberry site. Mary is a self proclaimed lemon bar snob and with good reason, these lemon bars are out of this world. Luscious does not even begin to describe these lemon bars. If I was to imagine the most perfect lemon bar in the world, this would be it.  The perfect balance of Meyer Lemon flavor and the texture, you can actually differentiate the lemon layer from the crust layer! I really wanted to let these cool completely before we ate them, but of course I didn't and I must say I am glad because they were really good slightly warm. The lemon just oozed out. Perfect! Really, perfect! I will change one thing next time...  
I will make a double batch! 

(makes one 8-inch square pan)

Crust:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/8 tsp salt
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

Filling:
2 large eggs
1 cup superfine or bakers' sugar
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp finely grated meyer lemon zest*
1/4 cup freshly squeezed meyer lemon juice*

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper.

To make crust:
Combine flour, confectioners' sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Add butter and pulse until the mixture is pebbly. Press evenly into the bottom of your prepared pan. Bake until lightly golden, about 18-20 minutes. Set aside crust.

To make filling:

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, flour and salt. Whisk in lemon zest and juice until well combined. Pour over crust (it's okay if crust is still hot). Bake until filling is just set, about 15 to 18 minutes. Cool completely before serving. Dust with confectioners' sugar if desired.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Pomegranates


How can you help but love this time of year. Some of the best fruit of the year becomes available: meyer lemons, pomegranates, and this week I will try my very first Persimmon. I can't wait.  There have been some great recipes and resources about Pomegrantes available lately. Bon Appetit did a feature story on Pomegranates and included a recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash, Pomegranate and Walnut Salad. Not to mention the Pomegranate Panna Cotta! I have always wanted to make Panna Cotta at home and this seems like the perfect opportunity. 
A recent post on  Mighty Foods included some great recipe links and resources as well. We have already had two dinners this season with Pomegranate seeds: Golden Beet and Pomegranate Salad along with Soba Noodles with Broccoli, Walnuts and Pomegranates
I am also tempted to stock up on Pomegranates and make this Pomegranate Jelly from Simply Recipes. 


Monday, November 3, 2008

Blue Corn Muffins

When I first started making corn bread I wanted to make the kind my Grandmother used to make in the cast iron pan shaped like little ears of corn. So, I tried several recipes for Southern Corn bread, looking for the most "traditional" corn bread I could find. Somehow, I always came up disappointed. Always too dry and crumbly. I even tried the Joy of Cooking Southern Cornbread. Then one day, to my dismay I had a light bulb moment. It appears that I actually grew up in the North, maybe Southern style cornbread was not my "traditional" cornbread.  I broke down and made the Northern Cornbread from the Joy of Cooking. Guess what? Yes, that is the one, the nice cake like texture, just mildly sweet, not at all crumbly. I guess I will always be a "Northern" girl. 
When David and I went "outside" (*see note below) to Maine this summer we wanted to pick up a few special ingredients to bring back to Alaska with us. Well, time and money got tight and we were really only able to make one stop. I did manage to pick up a bag of blue corn meal and some tamarind paste. The lack of tamarind paste was really putting a hold on a lot of Indian recipes I wanted to try. The blue cornmeal was just a fun little treat, I do think it has a more corn like flavor however.
*In Alaska the term to go outside means to go anywhere outside of Alaska.

Northern Corn Bread with Blue Corn Meal
from Joy of Cooking
Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 9x9 inch pan or standard 12-muffin pan or line the pan with paper cups. Whisk together in a large bowl:
1 1/4 cups stone ground corn meal
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 to 4 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Whisk together in another bowl:
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
2/3 cup buttermilk
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until moistened. Fold in:
2 to 3 tablespoons warm melted unsalted butter or vegetable oil
Scrape the batter into the pan and tilt (if using a square pan) to spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 10 to 12 minutes in a muffin pan, 20 to 25 minutes in a square pan. Serve hot.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Just Like Grandma's Used To Make...

We all know the saying the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Well, apparently the way to David's heart was through nearly burning his apartment down (this story will be saved for a future gumbo post)! When we first started dating I attempted to woo him through my cooking. Of course, I did this making things that I had never cooked before. My first attempt at Chicken and Dumplings was good, but the dumplings completely fell apart. I was humiliated, even though David went back for seconds. David informed me that I shouldn't point out my cooking errors and that I should just say something like "this is an old family recipe, just like my grandma used to make". 
No, my grandmother never made this soup. I was referring to Grandma's in Duluth, Minnesota. Every time I go to Grandma's I always get a bowl of their Chicken and Wild Rice soup. I can't get enough of the stuff. I have come close to re-creating it at home in the past, but this recipe with a few adaptations from Eating Well magazine is the closest it has every been to the real thing. This one really is just like Grandma's used to make (and probably still does).

adapted from Eating Well
Makes 4 servings, about 1 3/4 cups each
Ingredients
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup wild rice
2 large chicken (or turkey) breasts, should equal 3 cups shredded
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 fresh sage leaves
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups sliced mushrooms (about 4 ounces)
¾ cup chopped celery
¾ cup chopped carrots
¼ cup chopped shallots
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ cup reduced-fat sour cream 
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

In a large soup pot or dutch oven (4 quart) over medium heat add chicken broth, wild rice, chicken, thyme, and sage. Let simmer for about 40 minutes. Remove chicken from the pot, shred, and return to pot.
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add mushrooms, celery, carrots and shallots and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add flour, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more. . Add 1 cup broth from soup pot and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Add mixture to the soup pot. Stir in sour cream and parsley and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes more.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Chanterelle Mushroom Pizza


I wanted to make something special with the Chanterelle mushrooms in our last CSA. They looked so pretty with their peachy orange color. I poured through recipes trying to find something similar to a Chanterelle Mushroom pizza I once had in Port Angeles, Washington. I started with three very small garnet yams and put them in the oven to bake. I wrapped a bulb of garlic in foil and tossed it in to roast alongside the yams. Then, I started my usual Pizza dough, but decided to use locally ground whole wheat flour instead of the usual all-purpose flour to give the crust a little more texture. Once the yams were soft I removed them from the oven and let them cool along with the garlic. I sliced the mushrooms and two shallots and fried them with a little oil and set them aside to cool. The yams and roasted garlic were pureed in my mini food processer with about 1/4 cup olive oil. I spread the mixture onto the dough, just like pizza sauce.Then I added the cheese (mozzerella, parmesan, and chevre) and toppings (chanterelles, and shallots). I placed it in a 550 degree oven on a pizza stone. Five minutes later we had one really tasty pizza...

The only thing that I meant to include and forgot was a little basil on top. That would have made it perfect.
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