It’s not unusual for a friend, student, family member, or neighbor to ask me to cook something — happens on a fairly regular basis. I’m known to oblige whether it’s food for a funeral lunch or a favorite pie they’d like for dessert. Occasionally there’s a request to figure out how to cook a certain dish or food. It might take me a while, but I’m typically up for the challenge. Not long ago, old friend Helen Brockman (at left) asked if I could come up with a new way to cook patty pan squash. She’d even bring some over. “Sure,” I said; “why not?”Continue reading
NEW BAKING CLASS: Make Your Pie and Eat It, Too! Basics of American pie baking just in time for Thanksgiving. Given two Saturdays in November: November 7 and November 14, 1 – 4 pm. 6 openings for each date. $55. per student includes pie making ingredients/instruction, dessert, coffee, and digestif (after dinner drink), if desired. See CURRENT CLASSES above right.
My good friend Pam is a marvelous alto. She’s a fine cook, too. I know this because she and her husband are in our wine group and I get to sample her tasty fare fairly often. Here she is looking gorgeous and cooking at a house we rented near the Paso Robles wine country a couple of years ago.
This summer I discovered another talent of Pam’s; she, along with her husband, is an avid, generous gardener. Arriving last week at our house for a laid-back deck burger fest complete with homemade ice cream, she walked in brandishing a bouquet of sumptuous late summer herbs and two bright-as-sunshine summer (yellow) squash. Several very busy days went by and while I had pulled some herbs out for a dish or two, I hadn’t touched the summer squash. I’ve been on a serious diet for months and hadn’t had a bite of pasta all summer long. When I DO make pasta, it’s usually a good-quality whole-wheat variety and rarely white pasta. But yesterday it was time for a treat; I pulled out the Cipriani’s pappardelle and began grilling the squash with some big Portobello mushrooms. Try this easily-made-vegan dish for your end-of-summer grilled supper:
PAM’S SAGE PASTA WITH GRILLED SUMMER SQUASH AND PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS
No grill? Cook the squash and mushrooms in a skillet or roasted in the oven.
For vegan version, follow green instructions/ingredients. The large mushroom and squash pieces give this dish a really “meaty” feel. For a vegetarian version, simply leave out the bacon.
- 3 pieces thick bacon, cooked, drained, and crumbled (Skip for vegan version)
- 2 summer (yellow) squash, sliced thinly lengthwise
- 2 medium zucchini, sliced thinly lengthwise
- 3 Large Portobello mushrooms
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
- 1 each tablespoon butter or olive oil (2 tablespoons olive oil for vegan version)
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- Crushed red pepper
- 4 tablespoons minced fresh sage (Reserve 2 tablespoons for garnish.)*
- 2 cups fresh spinach
- 2 large tomatoes, small dice (Reserve 1/3 cup for garnish.)
- 1 cup heavy cream (1 cup rice or nut milk for vegan version)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (Sub with a garnish of toasted bread crumbs for vegan version)
- 1 pound cooked and drained Pappardelle pasta–Cipriani’s is my favorite (Vegan pasta for vegan version.)
- Set cooked and crumbled bacon aside, if using.
- Heat grill to medium high. Toss squash and mushrooms with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and black pepper. Grill, turning midway, until grill marks are quite dark and the squash is tender. Remove and set aside. Slice mushrooms into 1/4-inch pieces. If grilling indoors on the stovetop in a grill pan, you may have to grill in batches. (Cook pasta now if you haven’t done so already.)
- In the meantime, heat butter/oil in a large sauté pan or skillet over medium flame and cook onions until quite soft. Add garlic, a good pinch each of crushed red pepper, salt, black pepper, 2 tablespoons minced sage, spinach, and all but 1/3 cup diced tomatoes. Cook another minute or two, stirring, or until spinach begins to wilt.
- Stir in cream or rice/nut milk along with Parmesan cheese, if using. Lower heat and simmer 2-3 minutes. Add grilled mushrooms and chopped, cooked bacon, if using. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Gently add the cooked pasta to the sauce and stir. Taste again and adjust seasonings as needed.
- To serve, divide pasta between four bowls adding reserved grilled squash along side, on top, or around. Garnish with the reserved tomatoes and minced sage. Top with toasted bread crumbs for vegan version.
*Fresh sage is usually available in grocery stores, but if you can’t locate it, stir in 1/4 teaspoon dried, rubbed sage. Taste and add more if you like. Skip the sage garnish, perhaps substituting chopped fresh parsley instead.
WINE: White Burgundy or Chardonnay.
DESSERT: Sliced fresh peaches with a drizzle of Amaretto or apples with cheese.
Sing a new song,
I have a friend named Lori. She’s smart and tall, is mom to a big hulking chocolate lab, is beautiful and talented, and does things like run a salon and also fly airplanes. Sometimes in the same day. Did I mention she’s a runner and that she’s from Boston? She also “did” my nails for several years in Colorado Springs. When you spend an hour and a half every three weeks literally face to face with someone for years on end, you either become friends or sleep. Lori and I chose to become friends. (I miss her.)
So, being women and being friends, and being a foot apart so often, Lori and I talked food. (Also family, men, sports–her, not me, work, whatever) Lori’s mostly vegetarian, though she eats some chicken, etc. And Lori makes meatloaf. Turkey meatloaf. It’s good, says she, but she’s a bit bored with it. More than once, she asked if I had another recipe. Recipes, now that we have the internet, are a dime a dozen, but I hadn’t made turkey meatloaf in years. I was intrigued and remembered someone saying, “You cannot season turkey meatloaf like beef meatloaf; it’s awful. You must season it like turkey.” While that brings sage, onions and celery to mind, for me it also brings hot peppers, feisty cheese, and salsa. Living in San Antonio for four years and Colorado for 15 would do that. Taking cooking classes in Santa Fe would definitely do that.
One day, after months of turkey meatloaf ideas perking around in my head from time to time, I decided to try it. Wow! Both Dave and I loved it. This loaf is full of chiles, onions, garlic, and salsa, and I stuffed it with overlapping slices of pepperjack cheese so that when you cut it (make sure and let it sit a while or you’ll have a gooey mess), there are lovely melting bites of sharp cheese right at the center.
I mean, if meatloaf is good, people adore it–right? It’s filling, homey, stretches to feed a bunch, and makes great sandwiches. Though, really, loving meatloaf isn’t something everyone wants to admit. It’s not on top of the trendy list, though come to think of it COOKING LIGHT has a meatloaf article in the October Issue. But trendy or not, if you make it, they will come. And they’ll want the recipe. It’s one of those emotional food-pingers like, “My grandma made the best meatloaf!” Make this even if you have to invite people over to eat it. ESPECIALLY if you have to invite people over to eat it.
Side: Mashed potatoes is the usual suspect, but I did an all-in-one sauté of sliced new potatoes, onions, garlic, and late summer squashes that comes together just before the meatloaf comes out of the oven and while it rests before serving. Top it with finely diced fresh tomatoes and sweet green peppers for color and crunch. That’s not much for directions; let me look in the cooking journal and see if I kept amounts listed when I cooked it. If I did, I’ll include a recipe. How’s that for informality in the cooking blog? Here’s the meatloaf recipe, for which I definitely kept the list of ingredients and, uh–techniques and methods!
Here you are, Lori. Sorry it took so long.
Southwestern Turkey Meatloaf Stuffed With Pepperjack Cheese
Serves 6-8 (or 2 with lots of leftovers for sandwiches or freeze half for later)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided (one for oiling pan, one for the top of the meatloaf)
- 2 pounds ground turkey
- 1 ½ cups salsa, divided (1 cup in meatloaf, ½ cup on top for serving)
- 2 cups whole wheat bread, cubed
- 2 eggs, beaten
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/3 cup minced onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 ounces (about 1 ½ cups) chopped button mushrooms
- 4 ounce can chopped mild or hot green chiles, drained
- 1/3 pound sliced Pepper Jack cheese
- Chopped fresh tomatoes and bell peppers for garnish, optional
Note about salt: I do not include much salt as the salsa contains quite a bit. If you’d like to check and see whether or not you’d like to add salt, make a small meatball of the mixture and fry it in a bit of oil. Taste and see (great song, too!) if you’d like any salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil 9”x5” loaf pan using 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
- Wash your hands well and take off your rings and watch. To a large bowl, add the second group of 11 ingredients—turkey through chiles– using only 1 cup of the salsa. Put your hands down into the meat mixture and mix for about 2 minutes or until combined thoroughly.
- Pat half of the meat mixture firmly and evenly down into the oiled loaf pan and place the slices of pepper jack cheese right down the middle of the loaf, overlapping, stopping before the very end. (So that the cheese doesn’t ooze out so much while the meatloaf bakes.) Pat the other half of the meatloaf mixture on top of the cheese—again, firmly– to create the loaf. Brush top of meatloaf with the other tablespoon of olive oil.
- Place loaf pan on a foil-lined sheet pan and bake for about 1 1/4 hours or until instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees F. Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes; temperature will come up to 165 degrees F. Invert onto serving platter, first pouring out excess liquid if necessary, and top with the other half-cup of salsa. (Carve in pan if easier.) Garnish with diced tomatoes and green peppers as desired. Surround the loaf with the Potato-Zucchini Sauté and serve hot. Store leftovers tightly wrapped in refrigerator for up to four days. (Can wrap tightly and store in freezer up to 3 months.)
Yes, it was in the cooking journal and here it is…
Potato Zucchini Sauté serves 6
- 6-8 small (1-2″) new red potatoes, sliced thinly
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (I like Penzey’s; choose your style.)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 each: small zucchini and yellow squash, sliced thinly
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- Garnish, optional: 1/4 cup each: diced fresh tomato and green pepper
- In a large skillet or sauté pan, heat oil and butter. Add potatoes.
- Cook until potatoes brown on one side. Stir and turn potatoes. Add onions and dust with chili powder, salt, pepper, and oregano. Cook one minute and add squash and garlic.
- Cover and cook until potatoes are tender–perhaps a total of 35-40 minutes and squash is al dente or grandma done (your choice)–another 2-3 minutes.
- Serve garnished with tomatoes and peppers if desired.
Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the ‘Hood
It’s that time of year. Keeping the cantata on the piano at all times (skipping my own piano lessons), planning holiday travel, getting the last of the outdoor chores accomplished before it snows, changing out the clothes, ordering wool socks, taking as many walks as we can with the doggies, and grabbing yet another bouquet out of the flower garden. This may have been the last rose of summer:
Or maybe this one!
|While very dry, the grass is still mostly green.|
Here are the pies I baked for Pops and Pies, one of the monthly concerts at Prospect Park United Methodist:
|Must be October if it’s pumpkin!|
Sour Cream Apple (above)
|I did make that beef-vegetable soup I mentioned (with three variations plus some ideas on how to make it a bit cheaper) and if you’d like to see how I did it, you’ll need to visit examiner.com where I write cooking and food articles for St. Paul.|
|Basic Beef-Vegetable Soup|
|Pumpkin Custard just for YOU|
Also, on my blog for The Solo Cook (Dinner Place), there’s a great pumpkin custard topped with cinnamon-kissed creme fraiche. It’s made for those who cook for one and is done in one minute in the microwave. Your very own (crustless) pumpkin “pie.”
|Warm enough for flip flops yesterday.|
|Stubborn Tucker: wouldn’t turn around for his picture.|
Happy October, my friends.
Sing a new song,
Last Friday night was a use-what’s-on-hand night:
- The first of the Minnesota corn (very tiny kernels, but yummy)
- One of the pork tenderloins I’d gotten on sale at Kowalski’s (froze 4 of them in April)
- Salad makings that wouldn’t be good the next day. I sautéed the greens with garlic and lots of fresh herbs:
|My own garden herbs: marjoram, sage, chives, tarragon, basil, and thyme.|
|I added raisins and chopped cashews to the sautéed greens.|
|The first of our tomatoes went in at the end.|
Despite heat and humidity that all Minnesota is ready to get rid of, we ate outdoors under our big maple tree that reaches toward the house and garage, creating a canopy to cover the patio. That soft, shady spot is often the coolest place anywhere and you can bet I’ve looked. Along with everyone else on Wheeler Street.
Next night, a quick look-see in the frig assured me I had enough to throw together some sort of salad as I had a snake squash (can’t find right name) from my victory garden neighbor:
|Tastes like a cross between a mild zucchini and yellow (summer) squash.|
Some asparagus (now out of season, but still my favorite) was sagging in there and a little bit of the pork tenderloin called me. What really appealed was the rest of my fresh cheese (blogged at Dinner Place), which I knew would fry. Could there be anything bad about fried cheese?
|Alyce’s 2-1 cheese|
What about a salad of greens, sautéed squash and asparagus, with avocado, blueberries, and thinly sliced pork tenderloin topped with fried cheese? With a perky, ramped up orange vinaigrette? I was sold. Moral of story: make up your salad as you go along.
|I cooked the squash and asparagus in a bit of oil, salt and pepper, and set that aside.|
|Sliced up my avocado. Creamy and fatty, it would be a good foil for my spicy greens.|
|Blueberries for color, texture, contrast of taste, and sweetness.|
|About 3-4 oz cooked pork tenderloin–or how much of whatever meat you have.|
|My homemade cheese fried in olive oil and black pepper. Dave was so excited.|
Fried Cheese Snake Squash Salad with Orange Vinaigrette
MAKE YOUR VINAIGRETTE FIRST:
Place the following ingredients in a small jam jar, close tightly with lid, and shake well until emulsified. I like to do this to “America” from West Side Story: Shake to this rhythm..123,123, 1—2—3—. (Thanks, Leonard Bernstein.) Set aside while you make the salad.
- 1T fresh orange juice
- 1/4t kosher salt
- 1/8 t freshly ground pepper
- pinch crushed red pepper
- 1/2 t honey
- 1/2-1 t minced shallot (or garlic)
- 2T extra virgin olive oil.
MAKE THE SALAD:
- 2 T olive oil, divided
- 1 cup each: sliced zucchini (or snake or summer squash) and chopped asparagus (or green beans)
- Kernels from 1 ear of fresh cooked corn (you can cook it in unshucked in the microwave.)
- 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
- 6-8 cups baby greens, your choice
- 1/4 cup fresh herbs of your choice, optional
- 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
- 1/4 cup toasted walnuts chopped
- 2-4 ounces sliced, cooked pork tenderloin, steak or chicken
- 2T fresh lemon juice
- Kosher salt and Freshly ground pepper
- 6-8 small pieces fresh cheese
- Orange vinaigrette (above)
- In a large skillet, sauté squash and asparagus in oil over medium heat for five minutes. Dust with salt and pepper.
- Remove veggies from pan and place in a large bowl. (Keep pan out; you’ll use it for the cheese)
- To the squash and asparagus, add the corn, chopped avocado, blueberries, walnuts and pork, keeping the ingredients at the center of the bowl.
- Around the pile of veggies and meat, place the salad greens and fresh herbs.
- Set aside or in refrigerator.
- In the skillet, pour another tablespoon of olive oil and heat over medium heat once more. Grind some black pepper into the oil as the pan heats. Place the cheese slices in the pan and cook a few minutes or until nicely browned. Turn carefully with a spatula and let the other side brown.
- Take the salad and drizzle with the lemon juice. Dust the whole thing with some salt and pepper.
- Drizzle the dressing over the salad and top with the browned cheese.
- Eat immediately. Won’t keep.
- Take downstairs and watch movies.
Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the ‘Hood
|On the wall ladies’ room in restaurant The Angry Trout|
|In our south garden|
|Heavy, heavy hydrangeas after rain– next to drive|
|As my mom would say, “Morning, Glory.”|
|This incredible flower showed up in my corner garden yesterday.
My pharmacist’s assistant tells me this is a perennial hibiscus.
|I’ve been making blueberry jam, actually blueberry-orange conserve.|
Hot and muggy. Lots of storms and rain. Tomatoes are coming. The first ones weren’t so good. Wonder if it’s like pancakes–throw out the first ones?
Sing a new song; enjoy August,