Month: July 2012

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream with Blueberry-Lemon Sauce

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream with Blueberry-Lemon Sauce

 I’m not a big plain homemade vanilla ice cream fan; I like coffee ice cream.  But add some beautiful hot fudge or sliced fresh peaches and I’ll eat vanilla.  I’ll even make it.   And it does fill the bill for a crowd.   It pleases nearly everyone.

When it’s northwest blueberry time (warm days/cool nights make the best berries), I’m likely to make some fresh, quick blueberry jam for toast.  For years, I’ve filled freezer bags or containers full of these berries and kept them until blueberry season (not the Chilean season) begins again. (Store frozen and unwashed; rinse just before using them.)  I’m able to make great muffins, pancakes, or top my yogurt all year long without resorting to Fed Ex fruit.  Regular readers know my drill.  This year, I went for a beautiful blueberry topping (similar to the jam or conserve of other years) for that ice cream, but paired it with a bit of lemon to offset the sweetness of the blueberries.

A bloom bursting on beautiful blueberries!

This recipe is for a crowd; it makes a gallon and could be increased by 1/2 to make 1 1/2 gallons or the 6 qts in the White Mountain ice cream maker.  Bring it to a picnic and people will be if not swooning, at least very happy.  We took this sweet, cold dessert down to a neighbor’s the other night to serve after an al fresco supper on their back deck.  A hot day, it was also a fairly warm evening.  We were all glad of something frozen for dessert.  What else for summer?

Here’s how:

Make the custard.  Eggs must cook, of course.

Cool hot custard mixture in an ice water bath and chill in frig for a few hours or overnight.

 Place ice cream maker with custard mixture in tub to keep ice from flying around garage.

Add ice and freeze!  (This machine comes in a hand-crank version, too.)   In the meantime, make the sauce.

 

 vanilla ice cream and blueberry lemon sauce

Ice Cream :  makes 1 gallon approximately or 16  1/2-cup servings

Ice cream must chill for several hours before freezing; start early in the day needed (or night before)

*3 cups whole milk
*3 cups heavy cream
*2 cups 1/2 and 1/2
*1/4 t table salt
*1T vanilla extract (Use the best real vanilla extract you can find; I like Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla)
*1 1/2 cups sugar

*10 egg yolks, beaten in another bowl

1. In a 6-8 qt stockpot, heat  milk – sugar until steaming; do not boil.  Lower heat a bit.
2.  Starting with 1-2 T, whisk some of the hot milk mixture into the beaten egg yolks.  Add another 6-8 T, 2 T at a time, until eggs are tempered or warmed up enough so that they won’t cook when added to milk mixture.  Slowly pour the egg mixture, whisking all the while, into the milk mixture.
3. Cook over low heat until mixture barely thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and stir for a few minutes; the custard will continue to cook.
4.   Strain through a fine sieve into another pot sitting in a bowl of ice water.  When cool, place in refrigerator for several hours or overnight.  Chill your freezer’s ice cream container before pouring the custard into it immediately before time to make the ice cream.
5.  Freeze in gallon ( 6qt ) ice cream freezer according to freezer directions.

Note:  I like fresh, made-that-day ice cream, but if you need to store it or want harder, firmer ice cream, store in a container without a lot of extra space.  Pack the ice cream in tightly and seal very closely before freezing.  According to David Lebovitz (The Perfect Scoop and davidlebovitz.com ), ice cream should be stored 2-4 months with the exception of custard, which does not keep long.  As this is custard (has eggs), invite the neighborhood and make sure it’s all eaten so there’s no worry.

Blueberry-Lemon Sauce
 Watch out!  Blueberries don’t just stain, they dye!

*2#  blueberries, cleaned and picked over, stems removed
*3/4 cup white  sugar                                             
*1/4 cup water
*1t grated lemon zest

Place all ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.    Reduce heat and simmer until berries are popping and mixture has thickened somewhat. Stir regularly.  Remove from the heat and let cool; mixture will continue to thicken.  Cover and refrigerate if not using within an hour or so.  You’ll have more than you need for the gallon of ice cream.  Use the remainder for pancakes or spread on toast with peanut butter.  Use within 3-4 days.

Sing a new song,
Alyce
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right now on my Dinner Place Blog–a one-dish side or vegetarian lunch:

Green Beans, Mushrooms and Jasmine Rice with Tarragon and Mustard Vinaigrette

38 Power Foods, Week 7 — Brussels Sprouts –Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with New Potatoes and Parmesan

38 Power Foods, Week 7 — Brussels Sprouts –Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with New Potatoes and Parmesan

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When brussels sprouts (note spelling) first came back in vogue (they were vegetable non grata for a long time, right?), I put off making them.  It seemed everything was being thrown into the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper. Was there anything you couldn’t cook that way? Brussels sprouts joined in the olive oil-oven fun all over the food world.  I waited. 

(above) This is one of Madeline L Pots’ award winning songs from her CD “Gonna Plant A Garden”.

As a kid, I didn’t like brussels sprouts.  Did anyone?  As a young bride, I occasionally bought a package of frozen ones (just for something different) as there weren’t fresh ones available at the places I shopped.  As time went on, they just disappeared from my repertoire until a few years ago when I began to see them fresh in tiny bags or right on their very own totem poles at Whole Foods. (illustration courtesy Merriam-Webster)

 A few special recipes began to be part of our regular meals as I developed not one, but several ideas for these special tiny lovelies.  (I share a couple of them below- one with potatoes and one without.)  Cooked slowly in a sauté pan, the inherent bitterness dissipates into the air, and the gentle beauty of brussel sprouts begins to shine in their sweet, tender nuttiness.  Carmelization might be the word.  Makes them wine-friendly, too.

Prep:  Try to buy young sprouts; older ones tender toward the bitter side.  Store young, fresh brussels sprouts (yellowed leaves removed if they’re a bit older) for up to two weeks loosely covered in refrigerator.   When ready to cook, wash them well, remove a leaf or two, and trim the stem–not too far up or all the leaves will come off. You can also cut an X into the stem to quicken cooking time and ensure even cooking.  If they’re huge, cut them in half.   There’s a video for everything and here’s one about cleaning brussels sprouts since I know you have nothing else to do today:
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Now that you know all about them, try this:

PAN-ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS with New Potatoes and Parmesan 

             2-3 servings
  • 2T olive oil (regular is fine; don’t need extra virgin)
  • 12 fresh brussels sprouts, cleaned, trimmed, cut in 1/2
  • 6 red potatoes- 1/4d if large, left whole if small
  • 1 large onion, peeled and cut into eighths 
  • Kosher Salt, freshly-ground pepper, pinch of crushed red pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/4 c Parmesan cheese, “grated” in large shards with a potato peeler (skip for vegan version)
  1.  Heat oil  in a 12- inch skillet over medium heat.   Add brussels sprouts, potatoes, and onions.   Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, and add just the pinch of crushed red pepper.   Stirring frequently to avoid burning, but still to brown nicely, cook  for about 10 minutes.
  2.  Add Parmesan to the pan.  Turn heat down to medium-low and cook until vegetables are fairly well-done, but still somewhat crispy. Take care to not burn the Parmesan but  it should be quite brown; some of it will be almost chip like.  This may take another 20 minutes or so, depending on how hot your skillet is.   Taste; re-season if necessary.  Serve hot or at room temperature.
  3. Cool completely before storing well-wrapped leftovers  in refrigerator for 2 days.  
  4. To re-warm,  place in a skillet over medium heat with a tiny bit of olive oil to prevent sticking.  Heat, stirring often, until  hot–about 10 minutes.

Saving the best for last, here’s my pan-roasted brussels sprouts mixed up with only very crispy shards of Parmesan and topped with pumpkin seeds for crunch.   Cooked slowly and thoroughly, the sprouts become a little nutty and the Parmesan turns into something akin to chips.  Scrumptious.  Even if you never wanted to eat brussels sprouts.

 

PAN-ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH PARMESAN AND PUMPKIN SEEDS
  • 12 fresh brussel sprouts, cleaned and trimmed (Take l layer of leaves off,  cut off bottom tiny core) and cut in half
  • 2T olive oil
  • 1/4 c Parmesan cheese, “grated” in long pieces with a potato peeler
  • 1/4 c pumpkin seeds
  • Kosher Salt and freshly-ground pepper
In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat and add brussels sprouts. Stirring frequently to avoid burning, but still to brown nicely, cook brussels sprouts for about 10 minutes. Add parmesan and pumpkin seeds. Turn down heat to medium-low and cook until sprouts are fairly well-done, but still somewhat crispy. Take care to not burn the parmesan; it should be quite brown. Salt and pepper well.   Serve  hot.  Follow storage and re-heating instructions above.
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I’ve served these brussels sprouts for many occasions, but particularly like them for my fast Thanksgiving dinner.
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 everything you didn’t want to know about brussel sprouts
courtesy brusselsprouts.com:

Brussels sprouts, or Brassica oleracea gemmifera, are related to other better-known vegetables in the Brassica genus like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. They are part of the cruciferaeor mustard family, so known because of a four-part flower in the shape of a cross.

HISTORY: Sprouts were believed to have been cultivated in Italy in Roman times, and possibly as early as the 1200s in Belgium. The modern Brussels sprout that we are familiar with was first cultivated in large quantities in Belgium (hence the name “Brussels”sprouts) as early as 1587, with their introduction into the U.S. in the 1800s.

NUTRITIONAL INFO: Brussels sprouts are a very good source of many essential vitamins, fiber, and folate. They are especially high in Vitamin C. (Click here to see the nutritional label) They, along with their other cruciferous cousins, have been shown to have some very beneficial effects against certain types of cancer, as they contain many different ingredients that are believed to help prevent the disease 

These recipes originally available on More Time and Dinner Place in separate blogs.
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38 Power Foods is a group effort!   Stop by these other blogs and see what they’re cooking each week as we team up to bring you some of the healthiest cooking available.

Ansh – SpiceRoots.com  
Jill – SaucyCooks 

Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink
Anabanana – adobodownunder.blogspot.com
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As we go along, I’m guessing we’ll get some other writers involved.  If you’re interested in joining the gang writing each week, get in touch with Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits:  Mireya@MyHealthyEatingHabits.com

Sing a new song; cook a new brussels sprout,
Alyce

two-dog kitchen and around the ‘hood

Miss Gab watching Ina with me.

Lovey-Dovey

 I’m busy developing and testing recipes for the soup cookbook.  This week, I’m working on
Pozole (Mexican stew–mine’s made with pork tenderloin, corn, and hominy) and  Tom Kha Kai (coconut/chicken from Thailand).  I’m finding the most difficult part is figuring out how this whole thing goes from a Word doc (actually becomes a pdf first) to the 6×9, 100  printed page.
How can I be sure that the pagination makes sense or that recipes are on one page?  Or that the margins are accurate?  Did I consistently use “t” or “tsp” for teaspoon?  You get the picture!  Slowly, I’m starting to see how it works.  I have a bunch of home-testers cooking away.  If you have a testing recipe and I haven’t heard from you, I’m looking forward to a response pretty soon.  Test on!

It’s NW blueberry time; I’m eating all I can get and freezing the rest.

You can see how easy it is to move around my kitchen.

In Colorado, we have time for movies with the grandkid.  Thanks, God.

Just for grin and giggles, I made homemade mayonnaise for a dressing for a steak and fresh potato chip salad.  Dear.

  That’s all she wrote.

38 Power Foods, Week 6 — Broccoli — Broccoli Soup with Toasted Brie

38 Power Foods, Week 6 — Broccoli — Broccoli Soup with Toasted Brie

 

When my kids were growing up, they all loved broccoli.  Pretty unusual.   One of them adored spinach and one of them always wanted pickles, but all of them would eat broccoli.   So broccoli it was.  A lot. To this day, when our youngest, Emily, is home from grad school, she asks for Chicken-Broccoli Casserole (a quick Chicken Divan known as “Government Girl Casserole” around the D.C area) and I don’t have to look for a recipe.


You get the picture:  I seldom make broccoli anymore.  Being a healthy (see below for nutrition information) and relatively inexpensive cruciferous ( a family of plants which have four petals arranged like the arms of a cross, as the mustard, radish, turnip, etc.) vegetable, I know I’d like to buy it more, but some days I just can’t.  I have fallen in love with broccolini (a cross between broccoli and Chinese broccoli) and often sauté it with large shards of Parmesan until the cheese is a golden, crispy chip-like accompaniment.  The Parm-crusted broccolini is then laid gently atop greens and tiny tomatoes with a bit of lemon, black pepper, and olive oil for a filling main-course salad.

Working on the soup cookbook for the past two months (I got an ISBN number yesterday..AHHH!!) has been one of the most positive, annoying, interesting, and P-Offing of all my cooking experiences.  Somehow, the first soup I worked on (can’t remember why) was broccoli.   Too funny.   Maybe I had a plethora in the vegetable bin for some terribly odd reason; I don’t know.  Maybe it was on sale.  Whatever; that soup is out to a couple of testers now, but I’ll share it here with you.  I’ve made it  several times shall we say.    If you make it, I’d enjoy knowing how your soup turned out.   Read this carefully as we’re in the middle of a wretchedly hot summer in the U.S. (unless you’re an Australian or Scot reader):

This soup is luscious hot or cold.  The cold version is served differently:  instead of the brie toasting on top, you put a spoonful of peppered (or you could use lemon peel) yogurt down in the middle of the soup as a surprise to your table mates.  Being sure ahead of time, naturally, everyone eats dairy.  To serve cold, make it early in the morning before the heat of the day claims your kitchen.  Let cool and refrigerate covered until dinnertime.  

Shopping note:  Fine French brie is an expensive, highly caloric treat.  While I’m crazy about it,  I wouldn’t necessarily use it in this soup, though of course you can if you like. (I like my French brie as is.)  Domestic brie, often made in the great state of Wisconsin, is sold for a great deal less and is fine here.  The Whole Foods in St. Paul, for example, sells a good-sized wedge for $2.99–a sale price, but it’s often on sale.  I haven’t checked the Colorado Springs Whole Foods for its availability.  Anyway….

Try the little preview from my soup book and have fun!

 

 

This soup is warm and filling without being heavy.  Made with puréedbroccoli and other vegetables, it appears to be a cream soup, but contains no cream. Topped with a slice of brie and slipped under the broiler for a few minutes until toasty, it’s a perfect lunch for guests arriving midday.  Ladled into tiny bowls or cups, hot or cold, it’s a first course for a birthday dinner with the surprise of a tiny spoonful of peppered Greek yogurt hidden in the middle.  While it may take a few minutes past the 30-minute mark, it’s worth it!

Still working on getting a good picture!

Broccoli Soup with Toasted Brie         4-6 servings

  • ·        2 quarts low-salt chicken stock**, heated in microwave or on stove
  • ·        2 tablespoon olive oil
  • ·        Crushed red pepper, fresh ground black pepper, and kosher salt
  • ·        2 garlic cloves (one left whole to flavor oil and one chopped for the soup)
  • ·        1 medium onion, peeled, trimmed, and cut into eighths
  • ·        3 stalks celery, trimmed, and cut into 2” pieces
  • ·        2 carrots,  trimmed, and cut into 1” pieces
  • ·        ½ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • ·        1½ teaspoon herbes de Provence (or a mix of dried basil, thyme and rosemary)
  • ·        5 cups fresh broccoli, trimmed well, and chopped finely*
  • ·        Hot sauce, 4-6 drops, or to taste
  • ·        Zest and juice of one lemon
  • ·        6 1-oz slices of Brie
1.     Heat the chicken stock in the microwave or on the stove. (I like an 8-cup Pyrex measuring cup for the microwave.)
2.     Place the chopped garlic clove, onion, celery, and carrots into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until chopped coarsely. (Or chop by hand.) 
3.     In an 8-qt stock pot over medium heat, sauté a pinch each of the pepper and salt along with the other whole garlic clove for one minute.  Add the chopped vegetables, stir, and cook covered about five minutes until beginning to soften.
4.     Meantime, preheat the oven broiler.
5.     Add the broccoli, hot stock, hot sauce, ½ t each kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, and lemon zest and juice to the stockpot. Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat a bit, cover, and cook until broccoli is tender, about 10 minutes. Stir once or twice.  Using an immersion blender (or process in batches in food processor), puree the soup.  Taste and adjust seasonings.
6.     Ladle soup into broiler-safe bowls and top each with a piece of Brie cheese.  Place bowls on baking sheet about 4 inches under broiler and broil 3-5 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned. (You could also bake this soup at 350 degrees F for several minutes if you do not have broiler-safe bowls.  Alternately, simply place the cheese in the bottom of the bowl, ladle soup on top, and let sit a couple of minutes to melt cheese.)     
  7.   Serve hot or let cool, chill covered in refrigerator, and serve cold with a surprise small spoonful of peppered plain Greek yogurt hidden in the middle of each bowl.
*You could also use leftover cooked broccoli here to hasten cooking.
**Use vegetable stock for vegetarian option
Accompaniments:   Midsummer, a small plate of ripe tomatoes and peppered cottage cheese with crackers for lunch.   Add a salad and grilled salt and pepper baguette for supper anytime of the year.
Wine:  I like a California Chardonnay with this soup, but a French Sauvignon Blanc with its grassy nose would also work.
Dessert:  Blueberries and a spoonful of lemon ice cream or sorbet.

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a few facts about raw broccoli

According to the USDA Nutrient Database, a standard 100 g serving of raw broccoli has 34 calories with .37 g fat, 1.70 g sugars, 6.64 g carbohydrates, 2.6 g dietary fiber and 2.82 g protein. Broccoli also contributes greatly to your daily vitamin and mineral requirements. For example, raw broccoli delivers 89.2 g of vitamin C, which equates to 149 percent of your daily allowance. In its raw state, broccoli provides 9 percent of your daily requirement of potassium and 12 percent vitamin A.

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Every Friday for the foreseeable future, I’ll be blogging one of the 38 healthiest ingredients from POWER FOODS : 150 DELICIOUS RECIPES WITH THE 38 HEALTHIEST INGREDIENTS by the editors of Whole Living Magazine.

38 Power Foods is a group effort!   Stop by these other blogs and see what they’re cooking each week as we team up to bring you some of the healthiest cooking available.

Jill – SaucyCooks 

Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink
Anabanana – adobodownunder.blogspot.com
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As we go along, I’m guessing we’ll get some other writers involved.  If you’re interested in joining the gang writing each week, get in touch with Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits:  Mireya@MyHealthyEatingHabits.com

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in memoriam
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One of my great cooking heroes, Marion Cunningham, is now cooking in that great perfect kitchen where the Tupperware bowls and lids all match and the whole world comes to the table in peace to ease their hunger….  Read my tribute to Marion on the Dinner Place Blog.

 

Bannocks- a simple, flat, oaty, crispy Scottish cracker-bread..from Marion’s BREAKFAST BOOK

Sing a new song; cook something of Marion’s,
Alyce

 

Grilled Eggplant and Sausage Pasta Made on the Grill

Grilled Eggplant and Sausage Pasta Made on the Grill

 Every summer, I get about half-way through and want…chili.  Pot Roast.  Lamb shanks.  I’m a bit perverse, I’m fond of saying.  I can’t wait for the first grilled chicken and tomato salads.  I’m nuts about burgers on the patio in May with zin.  But there comes a day when salad looks bleh (stick out tongue) and I don’t even much care about that long-awaited burger.  I want something  real.  I want pasta.  And I don’t want it in a restaurant.

So last year, in January (way ahead),  I experimented with a pasta dish that included grilled vegetables and sausage, but I still made a cooked sauce in a pot.  A lot of folks have been interested in that post,  so here’s a continuation…

I had the idea then to create a dish totally done on the grill--much fresher– and I’ve now tried it.  Even the pasta is cooked on the side burner, if you have one.  (If not, buy fresh pasta to cook indoors; it cooks much faster.)  I’ll amend that; Dave mostly tried it.  I designed, orchestrated, cheer leaded, made fresh cheese, and ate it up.  The only true heated cooking I did was to saute some garlic in the microwave and warm the milk to make cheese! (5 minutes)  Do you have to make cheese?  Of course not.  Buy ricotta–fresh if you can get it.  But I’d love it you made cheese.

I lately have been encouraging cooks to just try making an easy, quick fresh cheese.  There isn’t much simpler to do and the brief instructions are below.  I’ll also point out that if you need a lot of ricotta, this is the way to go; you’ll save a bunch of cash.  To purists, this isn’t true ricotta, which is made with all milk; here I add some yogurt.  My idea actually is a riff  (a mistake I made and liked) from a recipe created by dessert guru and Parisian blogger David Lebovitz.  See the original here.  (See my first attempts and info on how to make a firmer cheese here.)

Imagine pasta in the summer and no hot kitchen?   Try this:

grilled eggplant and sausage pasta made on the grill
           serves 4                 

 

 
directions:  (ingredients below)

1.  On the grill’s side burner (or on stove indoors):   bring to a boil a kettle of salted water with a couple of springs of fresh basil and several grinds of black pepper.  This takes a while outside, so start here.  When it boils, add 1# whole wheat linguine.  I like Whole Foods 365 brand; it’s luscious.  Cook until al dente — where your teeth are stopped just gently as you bite into it.  (Read package directions.)
2.  Heat oiled grill to medium heat and add 2 sliced unpeeled Japanese eggplant*, 2 sliced medium zucchini, and 2 large onions sliced.  Grill, watching closely, until nicely browned grill marks appear on one side  and turn.  Continue grilling until vegetables are almost tender.   Remove to a large pasta bowl or pot.  Sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper and toss.

3.  Grill 4 Italian sausages (buy locally made if you can), turning once or twice, until thoroughly cooked–about 6 minutes on each side.   Remove from grill, let rest a couple of minutes, and slice into rounds about 1/3″ thick. (Juices should run clear.)  Add to the pasta bowl with the vegetables and toss.
4.  Meantime, microwave two minced cloves of garlic with a little olive oil in microwave-safe container on high about 30 seconds.  (I use a 1-cup Pyrex measuring cup.)   Stir into the meat and vegetable mixture.  

5.  When pasta is done, drain well, and add to the meat and vegetables.  Add 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes or cherry tomatoes cut in half.  Toss with 2-3 T extra-virgin olive oil. (Cont’. below)

                                                 If you’d like to make your own cheese, here’s how:

In 2 qt saucepan, heat 2 c whole milk, 1 c plain yogurt, 1 t salt, 2t vinegar for a few minutes.  When curds form, pour the mixture through a colander or sieve lined with 2 layers of cheese cloth.

Let drain a few minutes.

Et voila…cheese for your pasta

Yum.

                                           

6.  Stir in 2 cups homemade or store-bought ricotta and 1/4 cup shredded fresh basil.  Sprinkle with kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper. a pinch of crushed red pepper and stir well. Taste and re-season.  Serve hot or at room temperature with grated Parmesan cheese, if you like.

    

*If using regular eggplant, choose one that’s 1 to 1 1/2 #, firm, with shiny dark purple skin. Unlike the Japanese eggplant, you’ll need to peel the larger one before grilling.
ingredients list
  • 1# whole wheat pasta (I like 365 Whole Foods brand)
  • sprig of basil for the pasta water, plus 1/4 cup shredded to finish dish 
  • kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 Japanese eggplant, unpeeled, and sliced (or 1 large eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2″ x 2″ pieces)
  • 2 medium zucchini, unpeeled and sliced 1/4″-1/2″ thick
  • 2 peeled onions, sliced 1/2″ thick
  • Canola oil to oil grill
  • 4 Italian sausages
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided (a bit to cook garlic; the rest to toss with pasta toward end)
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes or cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 2 cups fresh ricotta, homemade or store-bought
  • crushed red pepper
  • Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
two-dog kitchen and around the ‘hood

Summers in Colorado are hot days and cool (sometimes cold) nights.   Wild lightning storms across huge skies.  Stacks of summer reading take me to Italy and beyond.

I adored this.

 Testing recipes for the soup cookbook keep me in the kitchen mornings before it’s too hot.

Grinding spices for the Red Lentil (vegetarian) I’m working on.  How do you spice your Red Lentil soup?

 Neighbors pop by for a drink on the porch or get together to watch a movie in a cool basement.  Friends come for supper to try the soups on the back deck.  So far, I like the Corned Beef-Potato with Irish Cheddar best.  But I’m far from done and even that one needs working on.

Last night off the back deck after the rain we both love and fear due to mudslides.

Giving up on corner grass…planting ajuga and a bit of sod.

Tuck’s fave pose here.

You’re where I want to be, Mom.

Leaving the robin’s nest on front porch light.  Too sweet.
Close-up:  She used our Russian sage.  A work of art by an animal.

Temporary herb garden outside the front door.

Our columbine in Colorado–chooses its own spot.  Illegal to pick.

Our front yard here in the Springs.

On the front walkway—wild yarrow and milk weed I’ve left.  I usually call this the “Primrose Path.”  But I’ve yet to plant primrose this year.

Bees and Russian Sage with my one pot of annuals that must be watered daily or twice-daily.

 Sing a new song,
Alyce

38 Power Foods — Green Peppers — Alyce’s Ratatouille

38 Power Foods — Green Peppers — Alyce’s Ratatouille

IMG_0692

Ah, summer.  Here’s my favorite use for green peppers.   Right after my mom’s stuffed green peppers, that is.

I loved the movie (Ratatouille).
Also “The Big Night”
And “Babette’s Feast”
Try them.   Food movies.  Ah.

I love the real deal better.   If you become a devoted cook, your world will revolve around the seasons.  Stews in winter.  Apple pie in the fall.  Berries in the spring.  And…
High summer: Tons of vegetables at their peak.

Continue reading “38 Power Foods — Green Peppers — Alyce’s Ratatouille”

38 Power Foods, Week 4 — Beets — Golden Beet-Ricotta Salad with Fresh Cherries and Caramelized Shallots

38 Power Foods, Week 4 — Beets — Golden Beet-Ricotta Salad with Fresh Cherries and Caramelized Shallots

In St. Paul, as nearly everywhere, it’s hotter than…   Well, you fill in the blank.  We’re cooking a bit, but not much.  This sweet-tart salad’s beets cook in the microwave.  Even if you make the cheese, it’ll only take you a total of about twenty-five minutes.  Most of those minutes are waiting for the microwave to beep and the milk to come to a quick simmer to create the cheese curds (hence the word “curdle,” friends).  This salad is filling without being heavy and is perfect for meatless Mondays.

I wish you cool winds and cold wine.  Try this:
 

Golden Beet-Ricotta Salad with Fresh Cherries and Caramelized Shallots 
serves 2-4 (2 as a main course, 4 for a first course)

    ingredients:

  • 6-8 cups fresh greens, chilled or not
  • 6 small-medium gold beets, roasted in the microwave*
  • 1/2 cup fresh, sweet cherries stemmed and pitted 
  • 6 small shallots, sliced and carmelized**
  • 1/2 c fresh ricotta (You can sometimes find fresh ricotta at a good cheese shop; it’s dear.  You can use regular store-bought or fresh goat cheese or  good cottage cheese in a pinch.  If you want to make it, here’s my recipe.* Use the cheese after it drains 15 min.)
  • 1tsp finely grated orange rind
  • 1T fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 T crushed, toasted hazelnuts or almonds, optional

Dressing ingredients:  1T sherry vinegar, generous pinch sea salt and freshly ground pepper, 1/2 t finely minced garlic, 1/2 t honey, 3T extra virgin olive oil.  Whisk (or use a fork) together all but olive oil.  Then drizzle in the oil one tablespoon at a time, making sure all of the oil is incorporated before adding the next tablespoon.   Two hints: Let the salt dissolve in the vinegar and don’t over beat the dressing.

Making cheese is oh-so-simple. THIS cheese anyway!

  directions:

  1. Make sure greens are clean and free of water.  Use a salad spinner if necessary.  I don’t mind room temperature greens, but you might like them chilled.  Place them in a large bowl.
  2. Sprinkle in cooked shallots and toss lightly with your hands.
  3. Scatter the beets evenly on top of the salad and mound the cherries in the center.
  4. Add 2-3 small scoops of fresh cheese around the cherries.
  5. Add orange rind and sprinkle lemon juice evenly.  Dust with salt and pepper, making sure each pile of cheese gets an extra smack of pepper,
  6. Add dressing to taste and toss quite well to distribute the soft cheese evenly.  Sprinkle with nuts, if using.
  7. Serve immediately.  Does not keep.  Eat it all!

*To “roast” beets in microwave:  Clean, scrub, and trim the roots off the beets, leaving about an inch of greens on each. Rub in a little olive oil over each beet.  Place beets in a microwave-safe casserole, cover, and cook on high for 10 minutes.  Carefully (HOT!) uncover and pierce with small, sharp knife to make sure they’re tender.  Let cool a few minutes and rub skins off with paper towels.  Slice off greens and a bit of the top of the beet and then slice into 1/4″ pieces.  copyright Alyce Morgan, 2011

*My recipe is for a basic fresh cheese, but is not ricotta per se.  Ricotta is made totally from fresh milk; my cheese uses yogurt.  Works beautifully here. 

**To carmelize shallots:  Peel shallots and slice thinly.  Place in a small-medium skillet with 1T olive oil and heat to low-medium low.  Let cook slowly 20-25 minutes until soft and browned.  Stir occasionally, but keep a good eye on them.  You don’t want them crispy or fried; turn down if you see that happening.                                                     recipe reposted from more time at the table july 9, 2011

Wine:  Very cold rosé or an unoaked Chardonnay.

about beets….
……………..a great source of folate…a wonderful antioxidant 
low in calories. ….very low in fat……………come in great
 colors……       
                   
 I like beets cooked, but in fact they’re are better for you raw.  Nutrients are lost in the cooking process.  They’re lovely grated into salad.  Try it!   Eat ’em up, eat ’em up:  RAW RAW RAW.
Also:  How about the price?  Can’t beat it.                                
         One little thing no one mentions:
                                                 You might notice a bit of change in the 
                                                 color of the matter you deposit in the toilet after eating
                                                  red beets.  No, you’re not sick; beets are a great dye. 
                                                  Nuff said. 

some people say, but these are not truths carved in stone:

Additional health claims associated with beet juice include:

  • Aids circulation
  • Beneficial to kidneys
  • Builds red corpuscles
  • Intestinal cleanser
  • Good source of energy
  • Helps fight the flu
  • Protects against birth defects
  • Stimulates the function of liver cells
  • Renews minerals and natural sugars in the body     (courtesy dietlovetoknow.com)

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1/2 cup slices (3 oz.)
Amount per Serving
Calories 37
Calories from Fat 1.8
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 0.2g
0%
Saturated Fat 0g
0%
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 65mg
2%
Total Carbohydrate 8.5g
2%
Dietary Fiber 1.7g
6%
Sugars 6.8g
Protein 1.43g
2%

Est. Percent of Calories from:

Fat
4.3%
Carbs
81.9%
Protein
13.8%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calories needs

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/thedailyplate/nutrition-calories/food/generic/beets/#ixzz1zaSRdfXq

Read moreThe 11 Best Food You Aren’t Eating  (NYT)

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Every Friday for the foreseeable future, I’ll be blogging one of the 38 healthiest ingredients from POWER FOODS : 150 DELICIOUS RECIPES WITH THE 38 HEALTHIEST INGREDIENTS by the editors of Whole Living Magazine.

38 Power Foods is a group effort!   Stop by these other blogs and see what they’re cooking each week as we team up to bring you some of the healthiest cooking available.

Ansh – SpiceRoots.com  
Jill – SaucyCooks 

Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink
.
As we go along, I’m guessing we’ll get some other writers involved.  If you’re interested in joining the gang writing each week, get in touch with Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits:  Mireya@MyHealthyEatingHabits.com

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If you liked this, you might like:

Golden Beet Potato Salad
 Photos are not terribly good on this post from several years ago, but the salad is lovely!
I’ll have to make it again. How fun to see how far I’ve come.

Sing a new song; dance to a new “beet,”
Alyce

Red, White, and Blue Kale Salad for 4th of July

Red, White, and Blue Kale Salad for 4th of July

Stay cool!

Where we live in Saint Paul, it can already be warm pretty early in the morning.  I’m a 
morning person; the earlier the better.  I’m also the daughter of both my father and father-in-law, because after I push the button on the coffee (pot filled night before), I check the temperature on my back porch.  In the summer if it’s above 70, I sigh heavily, drink my coffee, and get out for my morning hike.  Why?  Because it will soon be 80, then 90, and today, my friends, the little weather gizmo on my iphone says it will be 99.  If you’re a regular reader, you know what my house is like:

 

                                   Above:  Ah, our house in winter….

In other words, I have a nearly 100-year-old  house on three levels  with radiator heat and no capability for central air conditioning.  A couple of window units make life possible and there’s a cool basement that occasionally serves as our “cabin.”   Naturally, such climate also produces things like the best tomatoes on earth or my south garden roses:

Exercise and real cooking or baking must be done very early indeed on 100-degree days and I have invested in a combination microwave-convection oven where I can bake without getting the house too terribly hot.   I’ll be honest and say the convection oven is not all it’s cracked up to be, but it’s a real improvement over no oven for three months in summer.  A basement kitchen is what I want and there are many in the Twin Cities.

Most of the time, I do summer meals like everyone else: grilling, salads, ice cream for dessert.  Each year, the salads change depending on what’s good to eat or what I have at any given time.  If your frig or garden is full of kale (CSAs are notorious for delivering ton of kale!), this salad is for you.  I call it a shop and chop; you buy a few ingredients (here, feta and olives) and just chop up whatever else you’ve got.   Try this for the 4th; the kalamata olives serve as the “blue.”  It’s a great accompaniment for barbequed pork chops, Italian sausages, salmon, or marinated chicken breasts.

red, white, and blue salad for the 4th of July**
serves 8 as a side, 4 as a main dish

  • 10 cups finely chopped kale or baby kale
  • Juice of 1 lemon, divided
  • kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 cup each:   chopped feta cheese and whole, pitted kalamata olives
  • 2 cups chopped English cucumbers (no need to peel)
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup red onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1 t dried Turkish oregano
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, roughly chopped
  • 2T good quality red wine vinegar
  • 4 T extra virgin olive oil

 Place kale in a large bowl.   Drizzle about half the lemon juice over the greens and season lightly with salt and pepper.  Toss well.  On top of the seasoned kale layer the feta, olives, cucumbers, tomatoes, and onion.  Sprinkle salad evenly with oregano, dill, and a bit more salt and pepper.  Drizzle on the rest of the lemon juice and the red wine vinegar.  Toss well.  Drizzle on oil and toss again. Taste and re-season if necessary.  Serve immediately with wedges of lemon.   (Can be made several hours ahead:  make as described above, but do not add any lemon juice, vinegar, or oil until you’re ready to serve.  Cover and chill; dress right before serving.)

**If you have leftover grilled vegetables or sautéed eggplant from another day, these things make tasty additions to  this salad and are a great way to use up leftover vegetables.   If you’ve leftover grilled chicken, shrimp, or pork tenderloin, you could add them for a more robust main-dish salad.

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 Stay cool…especially all our loved Colorado folks….and sing a new song,
Alyce