Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Granny's berry cobbler

When we were young, my sister and I always anticipated visits to our grandparents. We were sure to eat great food and to have big adventure --  running through the pasture, harvesting from the garden, feeding Harold the Brahman bull, nightly armadillo sightings, painting canvases "like real artists" on the screened in porch, picking bluebonnets, fishing in the pond, tractor rides, walks through the woods, barbecue.... and dewberry cobbler.

Both of our grandmothers specialized in desserts, and Granny's recipe for dewberry cobbler was an all-time favorite.

Granny's berry cobbler
2 cups dewberries or blackberries (I used blackberries here)
1/2 stick butter softened, plus 2 T melted
1 1/3 c sugar
1 c flour
1 1/2 heaping tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c milk (plus a little more)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt 2 T butter in a baking dish.  Sprinkle a few spoonfuls of sugar over clean berries and gently toss to combine.  Pour berries into the prepared baking dish.  Cream 1/2 stick softened butter and 1 cup sugar in a mixer with a paddle attachment.  Combine flour, salt and baking powder.  Slowly add a little of the flour mixture alternating with a little of the milk, until combined.  The batter should be the consistency of a thick pancake batter.  You may need to add in a bit more milk if the batter is too thick.  Pour the mixture evenly over the berries.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes, until golden on top. Serve warm with Bluebell Homemade Vanilla Ice cream.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Koch Kaase

This one is for my Dad.  As part of a family cookbook he is compiling, my sister, Mother, Dad and I recently uncovered several recipe boxes from both of my grandmothers, as well as a great aunt.  I stumbled upon this recipe in my Aunt Mo's box and found the title intriguing:  "Koch Kaase."  After a little research, I learned Koch Kaase is a German cooked cheese.  It's no wonder there were actually two variations of "cooked cheese" in Aunt Mo's box, given that my Dad's side of the family immigrated from Germany.

Dad remembered this recipe well, as his grandmother made it often.  It was traditionally used to spread on homemade bread sometimes instead of butter.  He joked that he'd enjoy trying it again, after many years.

Surprise, Dad! It's coming your way.

Koch Kaase
8 oz. Swiss Cheese, grated
3/4 stick of butter
1 cup milk
2 T flour
1/4 tsp whole caraway seeds

Melt butter in a heavy bottomed pan over low heat. Sprinkle in the flour, and add milk and grated cheese. Cook on low, stirring frequently, until melted and bubbly, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in caraway seeds.  May be served as a dip when hot, or served cold, spread on homemade bread.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Citrusy Fall Kale Salad with cranberries, feta and pistachios

There is something remarkably pleasing about taking a thing from the earth, planted by your own hands, and bringing it to the table, filling up your plate.

There's a simple joy in all of it, from the time the seeds hit the soil, to the tasks of watering, weeding, and watching -- a quiet delight in the daily tending of something that grows. And there's a satisfying pride too, as you see it in your kitchen, preparing for a casual Saturday evening meal at home, Fall blowing in through open windows and screen doors.

Hoping that you, too, are inspired to tend to something that grows.

Citrusy Fall Kale Salad with cranberries, feta and pistachios
serves 2
1 small bunch kale
1/2 lemon, juiced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper to taste
1 T olive oil
palmful dried cranberries
2 mandarin oranges, 1 juiced, 1 segmented
palmful pistachios

Wash, trim and chiffonade the kale and place in salad bowl.  In a small bowl, combine the juice of 1/2 a lemon, juice of 1 small mandarin, olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper to taste.  Pour the dressing over kale and massage the greens and the dressing together with your hands until the kale is well coated and wilted.  Toss in the cranberries, mandarin orange segments, cubed or crumbled feta and pistachios.

p.s.  If you happen to make this homemade pizza to go with the salad you grew,  while you sip a glass of wine, well then, you have certainly set yourself up for a sweet Saturday night!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

persimmon rosemary muffins

Now this is Fall. Cool morning, sunny, blue sky.  Woke up early for community garden harvest, followed by leisurely walk with our dogs, back home to find bushel arrived, persimmons inside.  And now, these muffins. This is a good day.

Love the fuyu persimmons raw in this persimmon, avocado & blue cheese salad with apple cider vinaigrette, but today, we tried something different. This muffin is a little bit sweet and a little bit savory, perfect for a late morning breakfast, or early afternoon snack. Diced persimmon with rosemary and pumpkin seed!

Friday, September 27, 2013

kobacha squash butter + rosemary blue cheese biscuits

kobacha squash butter + rosemary blue cheese biscuits = FALL.  Even if it is a 95 degree, hot/humid, late September Texas day.  I'm just sayin'. This lovely, the first winter squash in my busheltold me it was time for Fall.  Isn't she pretty?

About this same time last year, the kobacha squash in the bushel became this kobacha squash butter, and it seemed a fitting destiny for this first of the season, too.

Kobacha squash butter is perfect alone on plain toast, or try adding a dollop on top of Greek yogurt for a yummy, simple breakfast. But we're celebrating the beginning of Fall here, so we need something a little special.  With Pure Luck Dairy's super creamy and wonderfully delicate  Hopelessly Bleu Cheese  in hand, we're on to something here:  rosemary blue cheese biscuits. Indeed.

Yes, that's butter and blue cheese, but we're celebrating here, work with me, it deserves decadent.

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together and work the butter and blue cheese into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter, just until it forms a course crumble. Add in fresh, chopped rosemary, then buttermilk, and stir to combine.  Fold the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and press out to about an inch thickness. Note:  I flattened too far here, so my biscuits weren't as tall as I would make next time we're celebrating ;)

Cut the dough into squares and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. 

Brush biscuit tops with butter.

Bake at 375 degrees for 22-25 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden brown.

Slather on the kobacha butter, and welcome the new season with love!

kobacha squash butter + rosemary blue cheese biscuits 

For the kobacha squash butter, I used the same same recipe as I made last year, which you will find here:
kobacha squash butter.  The only thing I did differently, was to steam the squash in a crockpot, rather than in the oven. I know we're celebrating Fall, but it is 95 degrees, after all...

For the rosemary blue cheese biscuits:
2 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
3-4 oz quality blue cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 tablespoon melted butter for brushing biscuit tops

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Sift together dry ingredients in a bowl.  Add cubed, cold butter and crumbled blue cheese.  Using a pastry cutter, incorporate the butter/cheese into the dry ingredients until it forms a course crumble. Add in the rosemary to combine.  Make a well in the center, and add in the buttermilk.  Use a fork to stir together the ingredients, without over-working the dough. Pour out onto a lightly floured surface and flatten to about a 1 inch thick rectangle.  Cut the dough into squares (should make about 9 biscuits). Transfer the squares to a parchment lined baking sheet and brush tops with melted butter.  Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.  

Sunday, July 28, 2013

sweet pickled cherry lime gin spritz

Something very lazy, and very pleasant about a summer afternoon gin drink. 

Even though we know the days are getting shorter, they still feel so very long and hot here in Texas.  It's the kind of hot you certainly feel from the sweat on your brow, but can also hear in the chirping of the cicadas. That sound never fails to remind me of summers at my grandparents when we were little... sleeping with the windows wide open, barely a sheet to use as cover, the big box fan blowing out a breeze, and the cicadas singing us to sleep.  July in Texas, we do our outdoor work in the morning, and on a weekend afternoon, it's just too hot for much else.  Unless maybe you are sipping this drink.  Now that changes things.   

 It all starts with these sweet pickled cherries.  I hope you make them too.  They are kind of glorious, actually.  Wait until they show up in your farmer's market when they are in full, perfect season.  When that happens, you'll know it's time. Buy up a couple of quarts and pickle these.  

Muddle a few of them in the bottom of a glass with fresh squeezed lime juice and simple syrup.

Fill the glass with ice, gin and seltzer, and garnish with a pretty garden mint sprig speared through a cherry.  All you need now is to find the porch swing, and sit back to enjoy the afternoon.

sweet pickled cherry lime gin spritz
(makes one cocktail)

3-4 sweet pickled cherries, pitted
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1 1/2 ounce gin
1 1/2 ounce seltzer
lime, mint and cherries to garnish

Place cherries in the bottom of a glass and add the simple syrup, and lime juice.  Gently muddle the cherries. Fill the glass with ice, add gin and stir to combine. Top with seltzer and garish with lime and a cherry speared through mint.  Sip.  Slowly. Savor.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Roasted Shrimp "Island" Salad with butterhead lettuce, avocado, egg, cucumber & jicama

Oh. Heck. Yeah.  This is what I've been waiting for.

It seems like once every summer I have an epiphany, and suddenly remember how much we love a good, homemade thousand island dressing -- remember it  like it's something brand new, because I haven't made it for many months (though I've been making it occasionally  for several years now), and I have to have it. As in, I have to have it right now.

It was this stunningly handsome Armenian cucumber and the gorgeous butterhead lettuce from this week's bushel that slapped me on the back of my head and jarred my memory: Must make Thousand Island Dressing.

Of course, this salad has to have roasted shrimp.  And avocado.  And jicama. Yes it does. Boiled egg too, no doubt.  Sweet, creamy, crunchy, savory. Yes, yes, yes, yes.  Okay, let's roast the shrimp. Simple and quick, lightly coat shrimp in olive oil and season with salt, pepper and Penzey's Northwood Seasoning.  It's my favorite blend for roasted shrimp, but if you want to create your own, it's made with coarse salt, black pepper, paprika, thyme, rosemary, garlic and chipotle.  Roast at 400 degrees for roughly 5-8 minutes, depending on size of shrimp.  These were smaller, and were ready in 5 minutes.

Hopefully, you, like me, have a couple of boiled eggs already handy in the fridge.  If not, fill a pot with your eggs, add water to cover.  Bring to a boil on the stove top.  Once the water comes to a boil, turn the heat off, cover and let stand for 10 minutes.  Drain and cool in an ice bath to stop the cooking.  Voila! Eggs ready to go.  Assemble your salad, and dive in. Don't try to stop smiling as you dine, it's good stuff.  You earned it.  Lean in and enjoy!

Roasted Shrimp "Island" Salad with butterhead lettuce, avocado, egg, cucumber & jicama
(serves 4)
For the salad:
28 medium shrimp, peeled, deviened, tails-on
olive oil
salt, pepper, and Penzye's Northwood seasing
4 boiled eggs, each quartered
1 Armenian cucumber (or Suyo Long or English Hothouse), sliced on the bias
2 small heads butterhead lettuce
1 lime (to squeeze on jicama and avocado)
1/2 small to medium jicama, peeled, cut into matchstix, with a squeeze of fresh lime
2 avocados, sliced with a squeeze of fresh lime
For the dressing:
Thousand Island -- Your favorite homemade or store-bought version. My favorite version has zip from sweet chili sauce, and crunch from sweet garlic dills.

Boil eggs.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Roast the shrimp.   Lightly coat shrimp in olive oil and season with salt, pepper and Penzey's Northwood Seasoning.  Roast at 400 degrees for roughly 5-8 minutes, depending on size of shrimp.  These were smaller, and were ready in 5 minutes.  Arrange the butterhead lettuce on each plate.  Place cucumber slices around the outside of the plate, sweetly tucked under the lettuce.  Scatter jicama, avocado and egg slices atop the lettuce, and spoon on the glorious dressing ;).  Top with roasted shrimp.
You're welcome. :)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

antipasto platter with marinated mushrooms

I love the simple beauty of an antipasto platter.  The plate, a blank canvas waiting for all those lovely colors and textures to come to life.  Not to mention the treat it is to your palate -- savory, sweet, salty, sour, crunchy, chewy, creamy.  Serious goodness, not much work.

This one included assorted cheeses, meats, pickled peppers, tomatoes, olives, stuffed grape leaves, brie and homemade fig jam, and marinated mushrooms, which were super yummy.

marinated mushrooms
8 oz package baby bella or button mushrooms (I used Kitchen Pride baby bella)
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, grated or minced
1 T chopped fresh rosemary
1 T chopped fresh basil
2 T finely chopped red onion
1/8 t salt
1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes

Bring water to boil in small pot, and salt water.  Remove stems from mushrooms, and add them to the boiling water. Reduce heat and simmer about 4-5 minutes.  Drain.  Combine mushrooms and remaining ingredients in a bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Assemble platter -- you're ready for a party.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

veggie pesto bolillo sandwich

This sandwich, one of our Summer favorites, is tied up in good memories for me:  Music festivals, girl's trips, good friends and visits to farmer's market and "the" bakery on Airline.

The very first time I remember having a really great avocado and tomato sandwich on an El Bolillo bolillo roll was on a camping trip at an Old Settler's Fest, back in April of 2001.   This was my friend April's picnic offering for lunch, and I still remember the white bakery bag from which the rolls were spilled, ready for us to split and pile high with creamy avocado slices and thick, juicy, red tomatoes.  The weekend holds vivid pictures in my mind, filled with amazing music, good friends, hoola hoops, barn shower stalls, sitting around guitar circle, "'pinka' moon" and talking "names" for the new Lab puppy joining our family later that month ("name MUST be in a song" -- "Rubylove, YES, that's it").  Every time we make this sandwich, I'm reminded of that weekend.

As most excellent things do, this sandwich evolved over time, and came to also feature pesto, as the result of a girl's trip to Santa Fe to visit our friend, Susan.  Gorgeous hikes, 10,000 Waves, and a special lunch spot that produced a turkey, avocado, provolone and pesto sandwich on thick sliced, homemade, grilled bread that had my friend Mel involuntarily muttering "mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm" the entire while we ate.  These are the things I remember.  (psssssst, I remember more, but that's all I'm saying here....)

The sandwich:  It starts with really good bread.

For those of you Houstonians that visit Canino's Farmer's Market on Airline, you've no doubt been by El Bolillo.  And if you've lived here a really, really long time, you'll remember when the bakery was the tiny dive on the corner right next to the Farmer''s Market, prior to expanding and moving to it's new larger, present location now located across the street.  Either way,  the bolillos are absolutely the best in town.  When our niece and nephew visit, it usually includes a trip to this local Mexican bakery --  grab the silver tongs and tray as you walk through the door and pile high with freshly baked goodies until you hit the check out counter.

As mentioned, the "evolved" version of this excellent sandwich includes pesto.  I made a big batch recently out of a harvest of basil from the garden.  

Creamy avocado with squeeze of fresh lime, and juicy slices of Summer red tomatoes jump on board here too.

Slice your rolls, and spread on some mayo and a good amount of pesto.  Top with sliced tomatoes, avocado, provolone and butter lettuce.

Voila!  Veggie Pesto Bolillo Sandwich.  A winner every time.  Get out the napkins and dig in, this one is messy, but oh so worth it.

veggie pesto bolillo sandwich
serves 4

4 bolillo rolls 
1 extra large red tomato
2 ripe avocados, sliced
1 lime 
provolone slices
butter lettuce

Slice the bolillo rolls.  Spread on a layer of mayo, then a generous layer of pesto.  Slice tomatoes and avocado, and squeeze fresh lime on the avocado.  Pile the tomato and avocado evenly between the sandwiches.  Add the provolone and butter lettuce.  Place the top of the bread on, and (here's the highly technical and important part) squish down so that all the ingredients have a better chance of staying between the bread as you feast.  Happy eating!