Sunday, August 30, 2009

Lentil Salad

This recipe was something of a gamble, both because I wasn't sure it would be good and because I was going to mess with its ingredients. Unfortunately, it wasn't a gamble that paid off... From the Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites cookbook, it basically called for cooking the lentils with some chopped onion and garlic, and then mixing them with chopped bell peppers, red onion, and celery. The salad has a "Curried Mango Yogurt Dressing," which was where I made some substitutions. I used the curried rhubarb, date, and apricot chutney I made earlier this summer, but otherwise followed the dressing recipe pretty exactly. I also added some salt. And then a bit more salt, in the hopes of making it less dull. No dice. I'm not even going to bother typing up the recipe - it DEFINITELY wasn't a keeper.

To cheer myself up, I chopped up some nectarines from the market this morning, tossed them with some blueberries, and made a fruit crumble. Now that? Completely made up for the so-so entree.

ETA: Actually, after allowing the flavors to meld overnight in the fridge, this recipe wasn't too bad. Still not likely to make it again, but it made an ok lunch.

Late Summer II (week of Aug 23)

Some weeks (especially in the summer) we just don't end up eating at home very much; this was definitely one of those weeks.

: Pork with Bourbon-Peach Sauce; mashed potatoes with chives
Monday: tomato salad
Tuesday: cook's holiday
Wednesday: out (at A Caprice Kitchen)
Thursday: out (at Stitch & Pitch)
Friday: SE Asian-inspired hamburgers; "baked" beans
Saturday: out (at Tamarind Tree)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Summer Tomato Sauce

This is a scaled down version of a recipe I'm auditioning for possible large-scale canning.

Last year, I just put up plain tomatoes. They were delicious, but my 9 pint jars really didn't last very long, especially as I'd use two of them every time I made pasta sauce. I'm thinking of cutting out the middle man, so to speak, and just canning sauce. There's not a whole lot you can do with tomato sauce and still use a boiling water canner. Garlic, especially, can be problematic for canning that way.

So I found a recipe for sauce that sounded pretty good in The New Vegetarian Epicure. When I first got this cookbook many years ago, the idea of canning 100 lbs of tomatoes seemed pretty much beyond crazy. Now that I know how fast 30 lb of canned tomatoes gets used up, though, it seems a whole lot more reasonable. If I do end up canning sauce rather than just tomatoes, I think this will be the recipe I'll use. It was really tasty, though to get the consistency I like, I ended up cooking it for about twice the recommended cooking time.

Summer Tomato Sauce
adapted from The New Vegetarian Epicure

  • 3 lb ripe tomatoes (at least a quart when chopped)
  • 1 Tbsp fruity olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp minced basil leaves
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Remove the tomatoes' skins (I use the same process here as I do for peaches). Trim off the stem ends and process briefly with an immersion blender so that there are no whole tomatoes remaining.

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan and add garlic. Cook for about a minute, then add tomatoes, basil, and a little salt and pepper. Cook for about 45 minutes, until the sauce is no longer watery. (If you're cooking down a large batch, this step will take longer.)
yield: about 2 C sauce

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Summer Ratatouille

I'm somewhat surprised that we've made it this far into the summer without having ratatouille. Both of us like it a lot, and even though I already have a basic recipe I like, I'm always trying other versions. This one came out well, although I ended up tweaking it fairly extensively.

We had it on some excellent egg noodles, left with us when some friends cleaned out their pantry prior to moving out of state.

Summer Ratatouille
adapted from Simply in Season

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • salt
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 Tbs fresh basil, chopped (or 2 tsp dried)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8 - 1/4 C tomato paste
  • 1 tsp fresh marjoram, chopped (or 1/2 tsp dried)
  • 2 summer squash, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, any color, chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • pepper, to taste
Cut the eggplant into rounds and sprinkle both sides with salt. Place in the sink in a colander and allow to drain while you prepare the other ingredients.

In a large saucepan, saute the onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent, 5 - 8 minutes. Pat off the eggplant and chop it. Add the eggplant, basil, rosemary, salt, tomato paste, and marjoram to the saucepan, and simmer over medium heat until the eggplant is soft, about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally to keep from burning on the bottom.

Once the eggplant has softened, add the squash, peppers, and tomatoes. Continue to simmer until everything is tender, 10-15 minutes. Taste, and add pepper and additional salt if needed.
serves 4

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

Canning Cherries

I love cherries. I mean, I love all fruit, really, but the cherries that grow here in Washington are truly a wonder. My favorite preserve from last year was a cherry-almond jam, so I bought a bunch of cherries to do that, and also try some pickled cherries. The jam was something of a failure - I thought it had reached the jelling point, but it never really set. Luckily, cherry-almond syrup is still delicious!

The pickled cherries smell great, but I'm letting them pickle a bit longer before I actually eat any of them. They sure are purty, though!

Cherry-Almond Jam
adapted from the Ball Blue Book

  • 2.25 lb pitted cherries (about 3 lb cherries will yield this, with some left over for eating)
  • 3/4 amaretto
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 package powdered pectin
  • 4 1/2 C sugar
Finely chop the cherries (I use an immersion blender for this, and puree them in the saucepan). Combine cherries, amaretto, lemon juice, and pectin in a large saucepan. Stir well to combine. Bring to a boil and add the sugar, stirring until dissolved. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring to make sure it doesn't stick. Remove from heat and skim foam. Ladle into sterilized jars, leaving 1/4" headspace. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.
yield: 6 half-pint jars

Pickled Sweet Cherries
adapted from Small-Batch Preserving

  • 1 3/4 C white vinegar
  • 1 3/4 C granulated sugar
  • 3/4 C water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tsp whole cloves
  • 1 tsp whole allspice
  • 2 lb dark sweet cherries (optional: pit the cherries - the recipe calls for using them "with stems," but I went ahead and de-pitted them for ease of later eating)

Combine everything other than then cherries in a small pan and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat a simmer for 20 minutes, uncovered.

Pack the cherries into sterilized jars and pour the hot syrup over them, leaving 1/2" headspace. Process 15 min for pint jars.
yield: about 3 pint jars

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Raspberry Borscht

This recipe wasn't really a resounding success. Victor and I both thought it was odd, and more than a little "dessert-y." Actually, I'm pretty sure that without the onion (but including the vinegar) it would be a delicious dessert soup. With a touch more sugar, I suspect it would also make a good sorbet. It is tasty, and it was refreshing, but I doubt we'll be making it again... at least as a main course.

I also baked some bread. Because it was hot, I baked the bread in my bread machine (bless you, craigslist!). The bread machine definitely turns out more "sandwich bread" than artisan loaves, but it's easy and - most importantly right now - doesn't heat up the kitchen.

Raspberry Borscht
adapted from The New Vegetarian Epicure

  • around 2 lb beets (2 bunches)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 pint raspberries
  • 1/4 C minced red onion
  • 1/2 C lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 sugar
Cut the tops off the beets, reserving for another use if you like beet greens. Scrub them, and put them in a pot with enough water to cover by an inch or so. Throw in a pinch of salt. Simmer until tender (about 45 min for large beets; perhaps 30 min for smallish ones.)

Drain, reserving 2 C of the cooking liquid. Allow to cool. (I went ahead and cooked the beets to this point while it was still cooler early in the week, since I knew it would be blazingly hot yesterday.) Peel the beets and cut into chunks. Puree the beets and berries with the reserved cooking liquid. If you prefer a smooth soup, strain out the raspberry seeds. Add the onion, lemon juice, vinegar, and a bit of the sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Taste, and add more lemon juice, vinegar, or sugar as needed. Chill until you're ready to eat.
serves 4 as a light entree

Monday, August 17, 2009

Kitchen Experiments: Pickle Edition, Update

My 9-day pickles turned out really, really well. I finally canned them last night, and there were just four pickles that didn't fit into the jars. They were delicious. I'm not quite sure what texture they should ideally have, so I don't know if they were the *perfect* pickles or not, but I'm definitely looking forward to eating the ones I canned.

That said, it's a lot of work for just four pints of pickles. There's not a lot of hands-on time, but having a daily task for over a week was a little much. If I don't find another sweet pickle recipe I like as well, I'll double or triple the batch next time to get more bang for my canning buck. I feel like a basic bread-n-butter pickle recipe shouldn't be too hard to find, but we'll see.

ETA: I just realised that my old post didn't have the recipe in it. Here it is:

Nine-Day Icicle Pickles

adapted from Small-Batch Preserving

  • 2 quarts pickling cucumbers
  • 4 C boiling water
  • 1/2 C pickling salt
  • 2 C white vinegar
  • 3 C sugar, divided
  • 1 Tbsp pickling spice
Day 1: Cut a thin slice from the ends of each cucumber, then cut into length-wise quarters. Cut each quarter in half. (You'll end up with little half-spear pickles.) Place in a large non-reactive container (I used the pot part of a spaghetti pot). Combine boiling water and salt; pour over cucumbers. Place something on the cukes to keep them submerged (I used the strainer insert from the spaghetti pot).
Days 2-3: Stir once a day.
Days 4-5: On both days, drain the cukes, discarding liquid. Cover them with fresh boiling water.
Day 6: Prepare a brine: combine vinegar and 1.5 C of the sugar in a non-reactive saucepan. Put the pickling spice into a large tea ball or tie in cheesecloth; add to pan. Bring to a full boil over high heat. Drain the cukes, discarding liquid. Cover with boiling brine. (You can throw out the spices at this point.)
Days 7-8: On both days, drain the brine into a large saucepan over high heat. Add 1/2 C sugar and bring to a boil. Pour over the pickles.
Day 9: Once again, drain the brine into a large saucepan over high heat. Add 1/2 C sugar and bring to a boil. Then, pack the pickles into your hot & sanitized canning jars. Pour the hot brine over the pickles, leaving 1/2" headspace. Process 10 min in a boiling water canner.
yield: about 4 pint jars

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Summer of Canning (week of Aug 9)

I was mostly on my own for dinner this week - Victor was out of town, and I exhausted myself by putting up over 20 lbs of peaches. Here's what went down:

Sunday: grilled sausages and summer squash
Monday: dinner out with friends
Tuesday: cook's holiday
Wednesday: grilled portobello mushrooms with teriyaki sauce
Thursday: tomato and basil salad; bread
Friday: Portobello and Basil Lentil Soup
Saturday: Chicken Thighs in Sicilian Style Sweet-Sour Sauce with Mint; whole wheat couscous

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sweet-Sour Chicken with couscous

I'm not quite sure how I feel about this recipe. On the one hand, I liked it a lot, as I do most "sweet and sour" things. On the other, I thought it was a little odd. Sweet, vinegary things tend to exist in a tasting "blind spot" for me, since I pretty much like them regardless, and Victor's normally my check on this tendency. Since he's not here, I'm a little concerned that my sense that the recipe is odd would translate to "ew" for someone slightly less enamored of this kind of flavor combination.

Anyway, I liked it. If you're going to be serving left-overs, I would suggest removing the meat from the bone and mixing the chicken with the sauce. It makes eating it in an office-type environment a little easier, and since the meat is basically braised, it's falling off the bone anyway.

I served it with a little whole-wheat couscous, which might not be all that authentic, but was easy and tasty.

Chicken Thighs in Sicilian Style Sweet-Sour Sauce with Mint
from The Splendid Table newsletter

  • Good tasting extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 large garlic cloves, thin sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dry whole leaf oregano
  • 1 medium sized ripe tomato, chopped, or 2 canned tomatoes, drained
  • 1 cup wine or cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 sugar, or to taste
  • 3 tight-packed tablespoons spearmint leaves, torn

1. Lightly film the bottom of a 12-inch straight sided sauté pan with olive oil. Heat over medium high. Add the chicken thighs, skin side down, and turn heat to medium. Slowly brown the thighs on both sides, sprinkling them with salt and pepper. They should be bronzed and crisp.

2. Stir in the garlic cloves, pepper flakes, oregano, and tomato, and sauté 1 minute over medium heat. Add the vinegar, water, and sugar (stand back in case it spatters). Adjust the heat so the liquid bubbles very gently, cover the pan and cook the thighs about 20 minutes, or until they reach 170°F. at their centers on an instant reading thermometer.

3. At this point, you could cool the dish and refrigerate the chicken in its sauce overnight. To finish the chicken, heat it in the sauce until it's hot all the way through. Remove it to a platter. Then simmer down the pan juices by about half, scraping up all the brown bits with a spatula until it is rich tasting, with a good balance of sweet, tart and spicy. Adjust flavors if needed. Pour over the chicken and scatter with the fresh mint. Serve hot or warm.
Serves 4

Addictive Red Lentil Soup

I've been making this recipe for a long time - it's good enough that once, when I made it for my dad while he was in town on a visit, I got him hooked. He lived in rural Pennsylvania, though, so I ended up sending him red lentils from our co-op, because he couldn't buy them locally.

That was years ago, and I'm pretty sure that red lentils are more readily available these days. I hope so, anyway, because this soup is mighty tasty and it won't work with green or brown lentils.

Portobello and Basil Lentil Soup
(adapted from a recipe published in Shape Magazine many (many) years ago)

  • 1 T. Olive Oil
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 small green pepper, chopped
  • 2 cup diced portobello mushroom
  • 3 garlic gloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper
  • 6 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 6 oz. tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 1 bunch basil, coarsely chopped (reserve a few small ones for garnish)
  • 1/3 cup dry sherry (optional)

In a soup pot over medium-high heat, saute the garlic, onion, green pepper, salt, pepper, and mushrooms until mushrooms are tender (about 5 minutes).

Add the chicken broth and tomato paste to soup pot and completely blend together.

Stir in the red lentils and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes stirring occasionally.

Add the basil and simmer (with pot covered)15 minutes longer.

Add extra salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the stew in individual bowls and float one tablespoon sherry on top of each bowl.

Garnish with remaining basil leaves and serve hot.

yield: serves 4-6

Canning an Overabundance of Peaches

The afternoon I dropped Victor off at the airport for a week-long trip, I decided to stop by the Columbia City Farmer's market. I don't often make it to any of the week-day markets, but I was near there and had time...

Of course, I encountered a bargain I just couldn't refuse - 20 lbs of peaches (actually, 23 lbs when I got home and weighed them!) for just $20. Organic, peak-of-ripeness peaches. Delicious peaches. Peaches that absolutely needed to be canned right away. By myself.

Last year, we found a similar deal and ended up canning over 50 (half-pint) jars of peach preserves. That was hard enough, but now I had to do it without Victor. It worked out in the end, but only because I primarily canned them without making preserves, and even then I ended up sticking about half of them in the fridge overnight (in a cold water bath with lots of lemon juice to ward off browning).

It was an adventure - I discovered that standard canning pots can't be used on smooth-top electric stoves (because their base is ridged, so they won't heat) and also that my large stock pot, while adequate for pint jars, wasn't big enough for quarts. Several shopping trips later I managed to finish canning the peaches the next morning.

The first step to all of these recipes is to remove the skins and pits (I saved mine - they're in the freezer right now, waiting to be made into peach peel jelly).

To do this, you'll want a big pot of boiling water, a large bowl filled with ice water, and another large bowl with ice water and lemon juice (or citric acid). Each peach needs to go in the boiling water bath for about 45 seconds and then into the ice water bath for a minute or so. The skin should then be very easy to peel off; remove the pit and cut into halves (or quarters if your peaches are large). The cut-up pieces go in the water with lemon juice 'til you're ready to use them.

It's useful to have a skimmer (aka a spider) to remove the peaches from the water, and another person to help move the process along.

Spiced Pickled Peaches
adapted from The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving

  • 4 lb peaches, prepared as above
  • 3 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 3/4 C white or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/4 C water
  • 3 cinnamon sticks, broken up
  • 1 Tbsp whole cloves
  • 1/2 tsp whole allspice
Tie spices together in a cheesecloth bag (or a large paper coffee filter). Bring sugar, vinegar, and water to a boil over high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add spice bag; reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add peaches to syrup and return to a simmer for another 5 minutes. Discard spice bag.

Remove peaches from liquid with a slotted spoon and pack into hot jars. Pour liquid over peaches to within 1/2 in of rim. Process 20 min (pints) or 25 min (quarts) in a boiling water bath.
yield: 3 quart jars

Peaches in Light Syrup
adapted from the Ball Blue Book

for the syrup:
  • 2 1/4 C sugar
  • 5 1/4 C water
Boil together until sugar dissolves. Makes about 6 1/2 C syrup.

  • 2-3 lbs peaches per quart jar, prepared as above

Pack prepared peaches into hot jars, cavity-side down, overlapping. Leave 1/2 in headspace. Ladle hot syrup over peaches, keeping 1/2 in headspace. Carefully remove bubbles, especially if you've used peach halves. Process pints 20 minutes and quarts 25 minutes in a boiling water canner.

Spiced Peach Butter
my own crazy recipe, adapted from the Ball Blue Book and the (even more crazy than I am) Jamlady Cookbook

  • 18 medium peaches, prepared as above
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • box of "no-sugar" pectin (1 3/4 oz)
  • 4 C sugar
Put peaches into a large pot and puree with an immersion blender (or blend by your method of choice). Add cinnamon. Cook over medium heat until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes. Add the pectin and bring to a boil. Boil for one minute. Add the sugar, stirring to dissolve. Cook to the jell point. Remove cinnamon sticks and transfer butter to hot jars. Process in a boiling water canner, 5 minutes for half-pint jars and 10 minutes for pint jars.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Because, Really, What ELSE Would You Want To Do In The Middle of A Heat Wave?

My rhubarb haul from Veggie Trader was enormous. What was initially supposed to be 5 lb became 10 lb... and then when I actually weighed it at home, was closer to 12 lb! So, in the middle of Seattle's hottest week this year (the week which contained Seattle's hottest-ever-recorded day), I canned. And canned. I am a crazy person. Because I'm not completely mad, I did this over several days:

"Victoria Sauce"
aka Rhubarb Chutney
adapted from the Ball Blue Book

  • 2 qts chopped rhubarb
  • 1/2 C chopped raisins
  • 1/2 C chopped onion
  • 3 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1/2 C vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 tsp each allspice, cinnamon, ginger, salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Combine rhubarb, raisins, onion, sugar, and vinegar in a large pot. Cook over medium heat until very thick, at least 25 minutes. You'll need to stir it more as it thickens to keep it from burning. Add the spices and cook for another 5 minutes. Ladle into hot jars, leaving 1/4 in headspace. Process in boiling water canner for 15 minutes.
yield: about 8 half-pint jars

Rhubarb and Cinnamon Jam
adapted from Sensational Preserves

  • 2 lbs rhubarb, sliced
  • 2 lb sugar
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • juice of 1 lemon
Stir the rhubarb and sugar together in a nonmetallic bowl, cover, and let macerate in refrigerator overnight. Transfer to a saucepan and add the cinnamon and juice. Heat over medium heat, stirring often, until sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat and bring to a boil; boil for 15-20 minutes until the setting point is reached (220F). Remove the cinnamon sticks and ladle into hot jars, leaving 1/4 in headspace. Process in boiling water canner for 15 minutes.
yield: about 4 half-pint jars

Rhubarb, Date, and Apricot Chutney
adapted from The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving

  • 4 C sliced rhubarb
  • 1 C chopped dried dates
  • 1 C brown sugar
  • 1/2 C chopped dried apricots
  • 1/2 C cider vinegar
  • 1/4 C finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 C finely chopped candied ginger
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp pickling salt (or a little more than 1/4 tsp kosher salt)
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for at least 10 minutes, until thickened and fruit is soft. Ladle into hot jars to within 1/2 inch of rim (headspace) and process 10 minutes (half-pints) or 15 minutes (pints) in a boiling water canner.
yield: about 4 half-pint jars

I also put up some Rhubarb, Apple, and Vanilla Jam. Although the recipe doesn't suggest doing so, I let the rhubarb macerate overnight for this, just like the cinnamon jam I'd made previously.

ETA: bleh. That Victoria sauce is slightly gritty and weird. It's now 9 or so months later, and I've managed to use two jars. Even that was a struggle - I think I might just toss the remainder so that I can re-use the jars. I can't believe I'm even contemplating doing that, but it's definitely a sign of how much I disliked that chutney. (5/27/10)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

New Cookbook!

Friday: Indian Summer Casserole; peach & blueberry crumble

I belong to a book-swapping site. One of the things I really like about it is that sometimes, fairly randomly, I will suddenly get a book I've forgotten all about. Since we moved to Seattle and I realised how many books I already own, I've been trying to avoid buying new books. I don't apply this rule to the book swap, but it does make getting new books through it especially exciting.

My most recent book-swap acquisition is Still Life With Menu by Mollie Katzen (of the Moosewood cookbooks). It's pretty, and so far the recipes are looking good, but this was my first time actually making anything from it. My main criticism of the book is that, though it does have an emphasis on eating seasonally, it's not organized by season. In fact, I'm a little unclear as to what the organizational scheme really is.

Anyway, I basically selected this recipe because, on my initial glance at the table of contents, it was pretty clearly a "summer" recipe. I didn't quite have all the ingredients, having gone on an apparent bell pepper binge earlier in the week, but I did have extra corn, so it all worked out in the end. It's tasty as a dinner, but I liked it even better as a cold breakfast the next morning.

Indian Summer Casserole
adapted from Still Life With Menu by Mollie Katzen

  • 2 C corn kernels
  • 3 C chopped bell peppers
  • 2 green onion, diced
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 C chopped green onions
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • small handful fresh herbs - a combination of basil, oregano, and parsley
  • cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 C chopped black olives
  • 1 small medium-hot pepper, minced (e.g. poblano)
  • 1/2 C grated cheese
  • 4 eggs (if you want to cut the fat, only use two of the yolks)
  • 1/2 C yogurt (I used low-fat)
  • paprika, just a bit
Preheat the oven to 375F and grease a medium-sized casserole. In a large pan over medium-high heat, heat the oil and saute corn, peppers, tomatoes, garlic, scallions, cumin, salt & pepper. After the vegetables look soft (about 8 minutes), remove from heat.

Stir in herbs, cayenne, olives, and medium-hot pepper. Mix cheese into veggies until it melts, and pour the mixture into your prepared pan. Beat the eggs with yogurt, and pour over the top of the veggie mixture. Dust with paprika.

Bake, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes, until browned and bubbly.

yield: 4 generous servings

The cookbook is divided into menus (something I love), and Katzen pairs the casserole with a salad (which we skipped) and a summer fruit crumble. Her crumble is basic, but the recipe works very well, and conveniently cooks in the same temperature oven as the casserole:

Peach and Blueberry Crumble
adapted from Still Life With Menu by Mollie Katzen

  • 4 peaches, chopped
  • 2 C blueberries
  • 1 Tbsp Wondra (or cornstarch, but Wondra really is a wonder!)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar (optional - if your fruit is very sweet, omit it)
  • 4 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1 C whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • pinch salt
If your oven isn't already hot, preheat to 375F.

In an 8" square baking dish, toss the fruit with the Wondra or cornstarch and sugar (if using). Melt the butter (microwave is fast and easy) and combine with flour, brown sugar, and salt. Use your hands to mix it together and pat it into place over the fruit. Bake for 30 minutes until bubbly.

Serves 4 (or 2 very greedy peach lovers)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Summer Living is Easy Menu (Week of Aug 2)

Monday: Gazpacho con Tropezones
Tuesday: cook's holiday
Wednesday: BLTs with basil; cantaloupe sorbet
Thursday: ricotta gnocchi with sage & browned butter sauce
Friday: Indian Summer Casserole; peach & blueberry crumble
Saturday: pan-fried chicken with curried rhubarb chutney; brown jasmine rice

Kitchen Experiments: Pickle Edition

I've committed to having in-process cucumbers on my kitchen counter for the next week and a half. I'm making "Nine-Day Icicle Pickles." It's a little like having a (very boring) pet: give it a stir every day, and once in a while you clean up after it and add something to it. Not sure how it'll turn out - I will post the recipe once I know it's not a complete dud.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Basil BLTs

Wednesday: BLTs with basil; cantaloupe sorbet

We have been eating tomatoes all kinds of ways; I had some firm ones that I was going to use in a casserole (it actually calls for green tomatoes, but I couldn't find any at the market on Sunday). They ripened very quickly, however, and looked like they'd be luscious. Fortunately, we had a few slices of bacon in the fridge. Combined with some lettuce and basil from our container garden, we were set.

We got an early cantaloupe on Sunday; sadly, it wasn't all that tasty (too early, I think). Mixed with some sugar, however, it became a light and pretty sorbet - like a bite of the ripest melon, only better.

Cantaloupe Sorbet
adapted from The Perfect Scoop

  • 1 ripe cantaloupe, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 2-3 Tbsp orange juice
Puree all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Taste, and add a little more OJ if desired. Chill and freeze in an ice cream maker.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Summer Heat-Wave Menu (week of July 26)

Monday: Gazpacho con Tropezones
Tuesday: cook's holiday
Wednesday: chop salad
Thursday: bread with cheddar and chutney
Friday: our 10th anniversary - dinner out at Poppy!
Saturday: ricotta gnocchi with pesto