September 16, 2014

Traditional Skills and Canning Salsa

Last week was a revival of traditional skills.

Canning! While I did get a good deal on a bushel of tomatoes, canning may make the most sense when you grow the food yourself. So for now, I see this as practice for the day when I have a garden. With a bushel of tomatoes, I made 20 quarts of quartered tomatoes and 8 pints of salsa. I also bought 2.5 pounds of tomatillos, which made 3 pints of salsa.

I also scored some free wild yeast sourdough starter from a baker at the farmer's market. While I want to master how to make my own starter, this allows me to start right off with using it to bake. So far I've made one whole-wheat loaf. It was good, but I've got a long way to go. Baking with sourdough is more about knowing the dough, so I've got my work cut out. I usually just follow a recipe without too much thought past that.

I bought 10 fresh whole chicken, and cut up most of them before freezing. Cutting up a whole chicken into parts isn't that difficult, but I still am learning the anatomy of the chicken. Some of those chickens have stray bones, or so it seems.

I also have been looking up information on how to save seeds. So far I have watermelon and cantalope. I tried it with a tomato, but I'm not so sure the fermenting process worked, so I threw them out. I might try saving the seeds from my mint plant as well.

Mild Tomato Salsa for Canning

10 cups, peeled, cored, chopped tomatoes
6 cups seeded, chopped peppers (use 2 or so jalapenos, the rest can be green bell peppers)
4 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup bottled lemon juice
3-4 tsp salt

Remove the tomato skins by cutting a small "x" on the bottom of each tomato and then drop them (in batches) in a pot of boiling water for about a minute. When the skins start to crack or peel, remove with a slotted spoon and put them in a large bowl or sink filled with ice water. The skins will easily peel off. Also cut out the core.

Chop up the tomatoes and put in a colander over a bowl to collect the juice. Squeeze the tomatoes to get out as much juice as possible. Put the juice in a large pot and bring to a simmer. Reduce the juice till thickened.

While juice is simmering, chop up peppers, onions, and cilantro. When juice is reduced and thickened, add the chopped tomatoes, peppers, onions, cilantro, lemon juice and salt to pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Add more salt, if needed.

Meanwhile, in a water bath canner, prepare 8 pint jars by submersing in water. Heat to almost boiling.

When salsa is ready, remove jars and fill with salsa, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe rims clean and top with clean lids. Screw on rings.

Put jars back in water bath and boil with lid on for 15 minutes. Then remove the lid of the canner and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove the jars and allow to cool.

September 15, 2014

Chia Seed Fruit Salad

This is one of the most delicious sugar-free dishes I've eaten. If you use bananas it really reminds me of frog eye salad (a cool whip fruit salad), which I don't make any more.

Chia Seed Fruit Salad

4 cups of diced fruit (berries, bananas, pears, apples, oranges, peaches)
1/4 cup currants or chopped raisins
1/3 cup chia seeds
2 cups coconut milk (1 can)
1 orange, juiced and zested
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Make this in one big bowl or four single serving dishes. To serving bowl (or bowls), add the fruit and currants. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the chia seeds, coconut milk, orange juice, orange zest, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. Stir to combine. Pour chia seed mixture over the fruit. Top with shredded coconut. Allow to set in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

August 11, 2014

Corn and Cheddar Chowder

Summer corn is in season! Try this delicious soup that highlights corn.

Corn and Cheddar Chowder
adapted from Family Bites

1 lb new potatoes, diced and unpeeled
3 cups water
6-7 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried thyme
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 large yellow onion
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon oil
4 cups of corn, scraped from 6-7 ears of corn
3 green onions
1 cup milk
1/3 cup cream
1 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
10 grinds fresh ground pepper
1 1/2 cups grated extra sharp cheddar cheese

Clean the potatoes and cut into bite-sized pieces. Place them in a soup pot and cover with the water, fresh thyme and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Chop the onion. In a medium saucepan, heat butter and olive oil and add onion, sauteeing until translucent and slightly browned. While the onion cooks, remove the corn from the ears and set aside. Slice the green onions, ends removed, and set aside.

Once the onions have cooked add them to the potatoes. Also add the corn, green onions, milk, cream and stock. Bring to a boil and allow to bubble for 7-8 minutes. Add the cumin, paprika and pepper and stir well. Lower the heat and add the cheese, allowing it to melt completely. Serve and enjoy.

Jamaican Pork Tenderloin

This pork tenderloin recipe is comes together so quickly but has great flavor without marinating.

Jamaican Pork Tenderloin
adapted from Joshua Trent

2 lb pork tenderloin
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons brown sugar, coconut palm sugar, or sucanat
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon honey

Preheat oven to 425°F.

In a bowl, combine the spice rub ingredients.

Pat the meat dry with paper towels. Tenderloins don't always come trussed, so if you have two pieces, tie them together lengthwise using kitchen string in about 5 or 6 sections.

Rub spice mixture over tenderloin and allow to rest for 15 minutes.

Sear tenderloin in a large oven-safe skillet set on medium-high heat, about 1-2 minutes per side, or until browned. While searing, mix the honey, tomato paste and vinegar in a small bowl. When ready for the oven, brush mixture on top of the meat.

Place the tenderloin, still in the skillet, in the oven. Cook until a probe thermometer reaches 140-145°F, about 15-20 minutes.

Remove from oven and let rest uncovered for 10-15 minutes. Remove string and slice into 1/2 inch slices.

July 31, 2014

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate

When I want to make a treat, usually I think chocolate and peanut butter. I can't help it! I recently discovered these peanut butter chocolate chip cookies with oats. The oats aren't very noticeable and add texture. Try chopped dark chocolate (the darker the better) instead of chocolate chips here or in any cookie recipe to slightly reduce sugar content and add more deliciousness.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate
from Brown Eyed Baker

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar or sucanat
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

On medium speed, cream together the butter, peanut butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat to combine. On low speed, gradually add the flour until just combined. Stir in the oats, and then the chocolate chips.

Use a large cookie scoop (3 tablespoons) and drop dough onto prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly golden. Cool completely on the baking sheet and then store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Coconut Lime Cookies

These cookies are scrumptious!

Coconut Lime Cookies
adapted from Two Peas

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into sixteen 1/2-inch pieces, at cool room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature

1 tablespoon cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened finely shredded coconut

In bowl of standing mixer fitted with flat beater, mix flour, lime zest, sugar, and salt on low speed until combined, about 5 seconds. With mixer running on low, add butter 1 piece at a time; continue to mix until mixture looks crumbly and slightly wet, about 1 minute longer. Add vanilla and cream cheese and mix on low until dough just begins to form large clumps, about 30 seconds.

Use hands or a cookie scoop to roll dough into 1-inch balls. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake one batch at a time in 375-degree oven until lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Whisk cream cheese and 2 tablespoons lime juice in medium bowl until combined and no lumps remain. Whisk in confectioners' sugar until smooth, adding remaining lime juice as needed until glaze is thin enough to spread easily.

Dip tops of cookies into glaze and scrape away excess, then dip into coconut. Set cookies on parchment-lined baking sheet; let stand until glaze dries and sets, about 20 minutes.

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant parmesan never tasted so good as it did yesterday when I made it with this recipe. Yum!

Eggplant Parmesan
adapted from Martha Stewart

1 large egg
1 cup plain dry breadcrumbs (make your own by toasting stale homemade bread and then putting it in a food processor)
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus 2 tablespoons for topping
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 large eggplants (2 1/2 pounds total), peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
4 cups tomato sauce
8 oz. thinly sliced or shredded fresh mozzarella

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush 1 or 2 baking sheets with olive oil; set aside. In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk together egg and 1 tablespoons water. In another bowl, combine breadcrumbs, 3/4 cup Parmesan, oregano, and basil; season with salt and pepper.

Dip eggplant slices in egg mixture, letting excess drip off, then dredge in breadcrumb mixture, coating well; place on baking sheets. Bake until golden brown on bottom, 20 to 25 minutes. Turn slices; continue baking until browned on other side, 15 to 20 minutes more. Remove from oven; raise oven heat to 400 degrees.

Spread 1 cup sauce in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Depending on how much eggplant you have, arrange the eggplant all in the bottom of the dish OR only use half the eggplant. Cover the eggplant layer with sauce and mozzarella. If using two layers of eggplant, place the other layer of eggplant on top, and top with more sauce and mozzarella. Sprinkle the top with remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Bake until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted, 15 to 20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.