Monthly Archives: August 2009

Summer gazpacho — with that which happened to be in my kitchen/garden

A friend of mine today asked me if I had a recipe for Gazpacho. I didn’t. I never have recipes. I never make the same thing exactly the same twice. Absolutely never.

What I did think when she told me she wanted a recipe was, “I haven’t made Gazpacho in years and I have all that I need to make it either in the kitchen or in the garden right now.”

Being that there is no time like the present I hastened to make the soup. My friend is hopefully on her way here to have some with me. It’s chilling right now, but I’ve tasted it and it’s yummy.

gazpacho

Ingredients:

4 ripe tomatoes diced in small pieces (I used 3 yellow and one red as that is what I had in the garden)

1/2 medium red onion diced very fine

2 jalepenos diced in tiny pieces (one was red and one was green — also from the garden — red jalapenos tend to be a bit hotter as they are riper)

2 red peppers diced (I cheated with the peppers as we don’t have them in the garden this year. I used two canned roasted red peppers)

1 large cucumber diced into small bits (I keep the skin as they are organic and have no wax)

1 – 14 oz can of tomato sauce

4 cloves of garlic finely diced

large bunch of parsley also cut finely

Salt to taste

2 tbls red wine vinegar

2 tbls balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

This is an easy dish as you just toss everything into a bowl and mix it up well, taste it to make sure it’s got the right balance of stuff. You can adjust everything to taste.

After it’s all put together put in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to chill and also let the flavors blend more. It’s best cold.

Chicken liver pâté

liverpate

Well I know a lot of people don’t like liver pâté , but if you like it as much as I do you’ll find this very cheap version of the delicacy a delight.

1 lb chicken livers
1 cup butter (soft — room temperature)
1 medium onion
5 cloves garlic
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup water
2 tsp tarragon
1 tsp thyme
3 bay leaves
Salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup cognac

Coarsely chop onions and garlic and saute for a couple of minutes. Add livers. Add water and wine and bring to boil. Add the herbs and spices. Boil for 3 minutes until liver is pink inside and then take off flame and cover for five minutes and let sit.

Take out the bay leaves and strain the livers, onions, and herb. Put all solids into a food processor. Put the juices aside.

Add the 1/4 cup cognac to the juices and boil and reduce all the liquid until quite thick and only 2 to 4 tbls of liquid.

Add that reduced stuff to the food processor with the cup of butter and puree the whole thing until smooth. Put into whatever containers you like. I froze half of this as it is very rich and really too much to go through with just two in the house.

Cream of mushroom soup

creamofmushroomsoup

Ingredients and directions

  1. Chopped up 2 lbs of organic mushroom
  2. Chopped up 2 very large onions
  3. 4 cloves garlic chopped
  4. Threw them all together in a pot with a bit of butter. Covered them and let them simmer for about 1/2 an hour.
  5. Poured one box of organic veggie soup stock and about 4 cups of organic milk into the mushroom, onions and garlic. Took off the heat immediately.
  6. Grated one 8 oz pack of yogurt cultured cheese with herbs and garlic
  7. Dumped it all into the mushroom with milk and veggie stock.
  8. added salt and a bunch of pepper

Let it cool.

  1. Came back and pureed the whole shebang.
  2. Had a cup of very delicious soup.

Lite on the sugar homemade banana ice cream

banana

I quit eating sugar for the most part about 3 years ago when I discovered I’m hypo-glycemic. It’s not been terribly difficult as I have never had much of a sweet tooth. On the rare occasions I feel like sugar I tend to indulge as my appetite for it is quickly relieved.

About two weeks ago I had a thought that I have from time to time. “I want ice-cream!” I don’t have this thought very often but when I do it’s really the only time I miss desert or sugar.

I thought though, “I really don’t like sugar that much, I like the creaminess of the ice cream.” So the idea to buy an ice cream maker was born. I went straight to Amazon and bought a nice little 2 pint Cuisanart ice cream maker. And the fruits of that labor just got put into the freezer right before I thought of writing this post. I haven’t had ice cream in several years either. I tasted it and it’s pretty scrumptious.

I thought a lot about how to make a delicious, healthy, (except for the fat, but when you use organic, grass fed cream, well the fat becomes much less of an issue!!) ah…back to the topic at hand….delicious, healthy, essentially sugar free ice cream. My final recipe:

1 very ripe banana

1 pint heavy whipping cream

1/2 pint low fat milk

1 egg and 2 egg yolks

1 tsp vanilla

1/2  tsp of nutmeg

2 tsp Stevia (a natural sugar-free herb that tastes sweet)

1 tbsp Agave Nectar (the same plant that produces tequila, produces this low glycemic natural sugar which actually has some additional nutritional value unlike processed sugar)

All of the ingredients are cooked into a very light custard by cooking very slowly over low heat until thickened and then refrigerated overnight and then put into the pre-frozen ice cream maker the next day.

The recipe that I used as inspiration called for a cup of sugar which I was avoiding.

3/4 cup of agave nectar is equivalent to a cup of sugar and 1/4 tsp of Stevia is equivalent to 1 tsp sugar. So do the math. This is very lightly sweetened. Of course the very ripe banana helps with the sweetening too. In any case it’s awesomely delicious and very low in sugar!!!

Tomato florentine soup

This soup was inspired by my local Earth Fare super-market which serves something akin to this with the same name in it’s hot bar. This is my version of what is clearly tomato and spinach soup. Beyond that I chose all the ingredients. It’s very good, but different than the soup at Earth Fare. They are both very good. I like that I can go to Earth Fare and get something delicious and different that I don’t have to cook!

tomatoflor

Ingredients:
1 lb frozen chopped spinach
28 oz can whole tomatoes with juice (smooshed by hand one at a time into the pot)
14 oz can of tomato sauce
2 large onions diced into very small pieces
6 cloves of garlic diced
40 oz vegetable stock
2 cups heavy cream
2 tsp dried dill
3 tbls pesto or a bunch of fresh basil
1 tsp red pepper flakes
Salt to taste

I have been taking short cuts to make these soups and not cooking anything before putting everything into the stock. I just throw everything into the stock and boil. They’re turning out really great so if that is all you have time for don’t hesitate to do that.

If you want to take more time, then by all means, saute the onions and garlic. It can only improve an already damn good soup.

Cook everything except the cream until very soft.

Add the cream once the soup is off the fire. Do not reheat to boiling once the cream has been added.

Enjoy!! It’s delightfully rich and light at the same time.

Two incarnations of the same salmon

Paul brought home some wild salmon yesterday. I made a goopy paste to go on top of it before baking it. It contained:

Tamari
Mustard (the condiment–the one that is heavy on the seeds and spicy)
Ginger
Garlic powder
Dried Dill Weed

It turned out looking awful! Keep on moving through this post, the second life of this fish was attractive and yummy.

uglysalmon

It didn’t actually taste all that good either. We ate only about 1/3 of it last night.

So today I made a salad with the leftover. It turned out much more delicious in it’s second life.

The salad contained:

Remainder of the baked salmon in shreds
Brown rice
Lots of fresh parsley from the garden
a heaping tbls of Capers
a quarter red onion sliced in halves
Balsamic Vinegar to taste
Tamari to taste
Olive oil to taste

Yummy and not bad to look at this time around:

salmonsalad

The Chocolate Chip Scone Experiment

Feeling a bit experimental, I wanted to try making scones.  My baking experience is limited to the wonderful white cake I made for easter (and yes, it was wonderful).  So, I turned to my personal search assistant – Google – for a Chocolate Chip Scone recipe.  Enter this bit from The Joy of Baking
http://www.joyofbaking.com/SconesChocChip.html
Not trying to be negative here but the experience well less than joyful.
The Prep
Following ever step listed in the recipe I thought things were going well until I look down at my dough and realize I have a overly wet, overly sticky ball of what should be scone dough.  It was almost as if there was too much milk and not enough flour.
My initial reaction was to add more flour but I resisted, thinking to myself “Ok, just follow the recipe”.  I ball up, knead the dough twice, and cut the product into triangles and get ready for some baking.
15 to 20 minutes later the scones are done.
The Scones
ACK.
During the prep the dough appeared to be too moist; however, the actual scones tasted as if there was too much flour added – they tasted doughy.  I thought, maybe, this was due to the fact that I was tasting the scones shortly after they came out of the oven so I decided to wait until the next morning and give them another try.
Yea, the ACK principle still applied for me.
I’m not sure what the issue was with this experiment.  Was it the recipe?  Was it the prep?  Was it some unknown variable?
While I’m disappointed with the outcome I will be giving it another try in the near future. Oh, and yes, I did have pictures of the scones (they looked good, trust me) but I have misplaced my camera.

Feeling a bit experimental, I wanted to try making scones.  My baking experience is limited to the wonderful white cake I made for easter (and yes, it was wonderful).  So, I turned to my personal search assistant – Google – for a Chocolate Chip Scone recipe. Enter this bit from The Joy of Baking.

Not trying to be negative here but the experience well less than joyful.

The Prep

Following ever step listed in the recipe I thought things were going well until I look down at my dough and realize I have a overly wet, overly sticky ball of what should be scone dough.  It was almost as if there was too much milk and not enough flour.

My initial reaction was to add more flour but I resisted, thinking to myself “Ok, just follow the recipe”.  I ball up, knead the dough twice, and cut the product into triangles and get ready for some baking.

15 to 20 minutes later the scones are done.

The Scones

ACK.

During the prep the dough appeared to be too moist; however, the actual scones tasted as if there was too much flour added – they tasted doughy.  I thought, maybe, this was due to the fact that I was tasting the scones shortly after they came out of the oven so I decided to wait until the next morning and give them another try.

Yea, the ACK principle still applied for me.

I’m not sure what the issue was with this experiment.  Was it the recipe?  Was it the prep?  Was it some unknown variable?

While I’m disappointed with the outcome I will be giving it another try in the near future. Oh, and yes, I did have pictures of the scones (they looked good, trust me) but I have misplaced my camera. Maybe someone with some more experince can suggest some tips for future scone experiments.

Carrot and zucchini cream soup

1car

Ingredients:
7 med to large carrots
3 med to large zucchini (I used traditional green zucchini because we have them in our garden right now, a yellow squash might keep the color of the soup brighter and taste essentially the same)
32 oz vegetable stock
4 cloves of garlic
2 medium onions
2 tsp cayenne
4 tbls pesto (or a bunch of fresh basil)
8 oz heavy cream
Salt to taste

This was very easy. I simply cut up the carrots, zucchini, onion and garlic and threw it all into the vegetable stock. At this point I also added the pesto. I brought it to a boil and then lowered the temp and cooked it until it was very soft.

I let it cool and then I took out all the chunks of veggies and blended them until smooth in a the blender. Poured it all back into the pot and added the 8 oz of cream and the cayenne. Do not heat the soup to boiling once the cream has been added.

It was very scrumptious!!

Besan and Zucchini vegan frittata

large carrot to illustrate the size of these babies

large carrot to illustrate the size of these babies

Ingredients:
Besan Flour 1 cup (I put two cups but it was way too heavy…though tasty)
3 medium Zucchini grated in a food processor (or one huge one that got forgotten in your garden)
1 medium red onion grated in a food processor
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp red chili flakes
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp cumin
1 tbls coriander
3 tbls pesto
1 tsp garlic powder
Olive oil to cook the batter in
Salt to taste

The flour and the batter when it's ready for the pan

The flour and the batter when it's ready for the pan

Mix all ingredients up. No liquid is necessary as the grated zucchini emit plenty to moisten the flour. I made the mistake of adding too much flour because there was so much water from the zucchini I thought it would need it, but the texture would have been much nicer with a lighter batter. This was an experiment so I had no idea how it would turn out.

In the pan

In the pan

I cooked it on medium heat for 20 minutes on both sides. I think that if you use the lesser amount of the besan flour it will require less time to cook.

fully cooked and a wee bit mangled

fully cooked and a wee bit mangled

The flavor was delightful, though the texture as stated above was a bit heavy.
Enjoy.

Peppercorn and Sesame Seed Crusted Ahi Tuna

Being in a kitchen that had a grill allowed me to once again do some seared Ahi Tuna… I don’t know what it is but the open flame is my fav way of doing Ahi Tuna.  This rather simple dish uses a teriyaki / soy glaze that mixes perfectly with the peppercorn flavor.

Here’s what you’ll needed (serves one)

6 oz Ahi Tuna Steak
1 tbsp crushed peppercorn
1 tsp sesame seeds
4 tbsp teriyaki
2 tbsp soy sauce

1) Mix your crushed peppercorn and sesame seeds in a bowl, please tuna steak in bowl and cover both sides.

2) With your grill fired up to about 250, place your Tuna on off-set from the flame (not directly over the flame).  Do side one for about three minutes and side two from one to two minutes.  The whole point is to sear the tuna, not cook all the way through, as the dish is intended to be seared with a rare center.

While the steak is tuna is cooking, fire up the stove and mix your teriyaki / soy sauces together over a very low flame.  Make sure to constantly stir the mixture as it would be easy to burn the sauce if the flame is too high and/or the sauce isn’t given attention.  Once your tuna is ready just plate and drizzle your glaze onto the fish.

Peppercorn Sesame Crusted Tuna

With my dish I decided to side with rice and broccoli, just about anything lite in flavor would work so not to take away from the main portion of the dish.

Enjoy!