Sunday, November 30, 2014

Creme Fraiche Mushrooms and Creamy Eggs on Toast

Mushrooms and eggs on toast have become one of our frequent (and favorite) go-to for weekend brunch or weeknight supper. After a long weekend in the country for the Thanksgiving holiday, and a rush back home to "trim up the tree" for the Christmas season, this simple plate was just what we needed for brunch today.  Sauteed mushrooms with creme Fraiche topped with creamy eggs provides the energy to get all those lights hung way at the top :)

Creme Fraiche Mushrooms and Creamy Eggs on Toast

(Serves 3)
For the Mushrooms: 
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
24 ounces cremini or baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp dried thyme
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, grated
1/4 cup white wine or brandy
salt and pepper to taste
1 heaping tbsp creme fraiche, greek yogurt or sour cream

For the eggs: 
1 tbsp butter
6 eggs
2-3 tbsp milk 
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tbsp chopped chives

3 slices seeded toast 

Saute the mushrooms (do not salt) in the butter/oil mixture over medium high heat until they start to release their moisture and crisp.  Add in the dried thyme, red pepper and garlic and cook one minute.  Add the wine or brandy to deglaze the pan.  Remove from heat, and stir in creme fraiche, season with salt and pepper to taste.   While the mushrooms cook, prepare the eggs.  Heat butter in a non stick skillet over medium-low heat. Whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper and add to melted butter in pan.  Reduce the heat a bit and cook the eggs on low to medium low, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes, until the eggs are soft and creamy, but cooked.  Place a slice of toast on each plate and top with some of the mushrooms, then top with eggs and garnish with parley and chives.  Serve immediately.  

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Cast Iron Ribeyes Over Broccoli Puree

The Beef before the Bird...

Last night's simple supper called upon the lovely head of broccoli from this week's bushel, which became the perfect backdrop for seared cast iron Ribeyes.  A truly welcome, minimal ingredient meal, with all the food preparation imminently on the horizon so close to Thanksgiving.

Beautifully bright and subtly nutty, this simple puree smeared on each morsel of rich steak is the perfect bite.

Cast Iron Ribeyes Over Broccoli Puree 

1 large head broccoli
1/4 cup Kefir (or you may use creme fraiche or heavy cream, if you prefer)
2  thick cut Ribeye steaks
salt and pepper
canola oil

For the puree:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Wash and trim your broccoli, breaking into small florets. Dice the broccoli stems.  Add the broccoli and diced stem to the boiling water and cook 6-7 minutes until all the broccoli is tender.  Reserve a bit of your cooking liquid. Drain the broccoli and puree in a food processor, adding a splash or so of the cooking liquid to help it along, until smooth.  Add in the Kefir and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Cover and keep warm to allow the puree to rest and mellow while you prepare the steaks.

For the steaks:
Heat a cast iron skillet on high heat, drizzle in a few drops of canola oil just to barely coat the pan.  Season steaks generously with salt and pepper and place in the hot skillet.  Sear the steak on one side for 3-ish minutes (the steaks will "tell" you they are ready to turn by releasing easily when you flip them).  Sear on the second side for an additional 3 minutes, and place in the oven for 3 minutes longer, to ensure an even cooking.  Steaks will have a lovely crust on the outside, and remain pink inside, at about medium/medium rare, depending on thickness. Remove steaks from the oven and skillet and allow them to rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes before serving.

To serve, artfully spread some of the broccoli puree on each plate and top with the seared Ribeye.  Bon Appetit!  And Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 17, 2014

baby bok choy simple stir fry

Bok Choy is our new garden love this season. Easy to grow, quick to prepare, and the perfect veg for a simple weeknight supper.

Rough chopped, and tossed in a pan with a bit of hot oil, ginger and garlic, then quick stir fried and seasoned with a pinch of red pepper flake and a shake of soy sauce, this dish is on the plate in a hurry.  We enjoy it with Sticky Honey Chicken over rice. Now that's nice.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Cinnamon Orange Slices

This is big on the list of simple joys.  It is the lone orange we left on an heirloom Republic of Texas Orange tree we planted last year.  Plucked yesterday from the young tree before the freezing temps last night, sliced and sprinkled with cinnamon for this morning's breakfast.  That, friends, is a real treat.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Fall Garden Deviled Eggs

Who says Deviled Eggs are only for Easter?  I beg to differ.  These zesty horseradish eggs were a lovely addition to a recent Fall picnic, prettied up with the bounty of a Fall garden -- chives, dill, and edible Viola flower blossoms.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Early Fall Crunch Salad with apples, celery, chickpeas, farro and feta

When these early Fall Texas beauties arrived in our bushel this week, it seemed pretty clear to me they would make the perfect seasonal fit for my new crunchy salad fix.  And so it goes.  Seriously, I could eat this crunchy goodness all day.

Early Fall Crunch Salad with apples, celery, chickpeas, farro and feta

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup farro (rinsed and cooked according to package directions)
3-4 small, crisp apples, diced
1 bunch celery, chopped including leaves
1 cup roughly chopped Italian parsley
1/2 cup feta, diced small cubes
Vinaigrette of your choosing)

Cook farro according to package directions, drain and cool.  Combine farro, chickpeas, apples, celery, parsley and feta and gently toss with dressing.  This salad holds up quite nicely, and travels well for lunches on the go.  Simple, simple, simple!  

Saturday, June 28, 2014

sweet corn summer chowder

Houston Summer.  Yes, it's hot. Yes, it's humid.  Yes, there are mosquitoes.  But there's sweet corn, too! This helps to temper things... just a bit.   Ever since the first of the sweet corn started arriving in the bushel, we've been obsessed with this Summer chowder.  Full of everything fresh -- corn, zucchini, poblano, carrots, new potatoes, onion.... Summer in a bowl, and in your belly.

Small dice onion, carrots, zucchini and poblano and saute.  This time we made it with a bit of bacon, but have eaten it both with and without and it's good either way.  If you choose the vegetarian option, omit the bacon, add in an extra tablespoon of butter before you throw the veggies in to saute, and sub veggie stock for the chicken stock.

When the vegetables are just tender, season with salt, pepper, thyme, and stir in 1/4 cup flour.  Continue to cook and stir the mixture for a couple of minutes.  Add in chicken stock, corn cut off the cob and potatoes, bring to a boil and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.  Add in milk and continue to simmer for 20 minutes more.  I like to add a dash or two of  tabasco sauce.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Garnish with finely diced zucchini, a few fresh corn kernels, crisp bacon bits and a bit of fresh dill.  Dig in!

sweet corn summer chowder
(serves 4-6)

2 slices bacon, cut into small pieces (or omit and add an extra Tablespoon of butter)
2 T butter
3 large cloves garlic, minced
2 medium carrots, small dice
1 medium sweet onion, small dice
2 medium zucchini, small dice, reserve some for garnish
1 medium/large  poblano pepper, small dice
1 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper
1/4 cup flour
4 cups chicken stock
4 ears sweet corn, kernels cut from cob, reserve some for garnish
6 small new potatoes, medium dice
2 cups milk
Dash or two Tabasco sauce

Add bacon to a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven on medium heat.  Saute until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp.  Remove bacon from pan to drain on paper towel. Add the butter to the pot.  Once it has melted, add in the carrots, onion, zucchini, poblano and garlic, and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.  Season with salt, pepper and add in the thyme.  Stir in the flour and continue to cook while stirring for a couple of minutes.  Slowly add in the stock while stirring.  Add in the corn and potatoes and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes are just tender.  Add in the milk, a dash or two of Tabasco sauce, and continue to cook, stirring from time to time, for about 20 minutes more.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.  Garnish with finely diced zucchini, a few fresh corn kernels, crisp bacon bits and a bit of fresh dill.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Crispy Butter Cracker Fried Green Tomatoes

There are a couple of rules I try to follow with regards to growing vegetables at home.
Rule #1:  Try not to let the varmints win.
Rule #2:  If the varmints are winning, don't let them win.

We had one larger variety tomato plant in particular whose tomatoes were consistently being eaten/half eaten or otherwise marred before getting any color.  We battled with, lay wagers on, and repeatedly swore at the critter that was winning the tomato battle, until we finally decided to take action and claim the green tomatoes for ourselves.  Take that, varmint!

Slice the green globes in thick, 1/4-1/2 inch, slices and place on a wire rack.  Sprinkle both sides with salt and allow the tomatoes to rest and release their moisture for about 30 minutes.  Next, gently pat the slices to remove excess moisture, then season with salt and pepper.

Dredge slices in flour, then buttermilk, then crushed, rich, butter cracker crumbs and place back on wire rack to set for about 10 minutes.  Heat canola oil in a cast iron skillet on medium heat and fry until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.

You cant' beat these crispy, tangy bites, served with a little buttermilk ranch dipping sauce, with some crunchy quick pickles on the side!  Now that's a tasty lunch.  We win, varmint!!

Crispy Butter Cracker Fried Green Tomatoes

3 large or several small, firm green tomatoes, thickly sliced 1/4-1/2 inch
1 cup flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups crushed butter crackers
canola oil
salt and pepper
dipping sauce of your choosing

Slice the green tomatoes in thick, 1/4-1/2 inch, slices and place on a wire rack.  Sprinkle both sides of slices with salt and allow the tomatoes to rest and release their moisture for about 30 minutes.  Next, gently pat the slices dry to remove excess moisture, then season with salt and pepper.  Prepare dredging stations of flour, buttermilk, and butter cracker crumbs.  Dredge slices first in flour and shake off excess, then dip in the buttermilk to coat, and finally coat each tomato slice in the butter cracker crumbs.  Place the slices back on wire rack for about 10 minutes to set.  Place a cast iron skillet over medium heat and pour in enough canola oil to cover the bottom of the pan to 1/4 to 1/2 inch up.  Carefully add in tomato slices, making sure not to crowd the pan, and  fry until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.

Sweet Garlic Dill Quick Pickles

It's pickle season!!

Summers bring lots of cucumbers to the garden.  We love them, and eat them in salads, sliced with hummus, and often pickled, along side your favorite supper, tucked in your sandwich, or on top of a salad.  When they are abundant, I preserve the pickles by canning. But when they are just first showing on the vine, and we're enjoying them fresh, it's nice to make a mini-batch of quick pickles for the fridge.

This is a Suyo Long cucumber.  It's a traditional long-fruited cucumber from China, and grows quite well in our hot and humid Houston, Texas climate.  It may be ugly, but it's an excellent tasting cucumber, thin-skinned, sweet, crisp and bitter-free, you really can't beat it for taste, in my opinion.  It grows up to about 15 inches, and it makes an excellent pickling cucumber.

Sliced cucumbers, sweet onion, garlic, dill seed, celery seed, salt, vinegar, sugar and turmeric -- it's a simple and straight-forward pickle recipe.  Heat the vinegar, sugar, salt, water and turmeric to a boil in a sauce pan.  Place garlic, dill seed, and celery seed in the bottom of a sterilized quart sized mason jar. Layer in cucumber and onion slices.

Once your liquid mixture comes to a boil, pour over the cucumber and onions in the jar, and fill to within 1/2 inch headspace.  Gently tap the ingredients down with a wooden spoon, and cool on the counter, then chill in the refrigerator.  Voila!  You have just made delicious quick pickles. Dig in!

Sweet Garlic Dill Quick Pickles
(makes 1 quart)

1 large Suyo Long Cucumber (or other thin-skinned pickling cucumbers), sliced
1/2 medium sweet onion (such as 1015), thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves
2 tsp dill seed
1/4 tsp celery seed
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 tbsp pickling salt
scant 1/8 tsp turmeric

Combine vinegar, water, sugar, salt and turmeric in a saucepan and bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar.  Meanwhile, add garlic, dill seed and celery seed to the jar, then pack cucumber and onion slices in layers.  Pour boiling vinegar mixture over cucumbers, leaving 1/2 inch headspace at the top.  Allow to cool completely on the counter, then chill in the refrigerator.  These will keep for about a month in the fridge, but trust me, you won't have them that long!

Monday, April 7, 2014

moroccan spiced turkey stuffed chard rolls in tomato sauce

The turkey stuffing in this savory dish, filled with nice, warm spices and paired with sweet sultanas, stays perfectly moist and tender wrapped in each neat, little chard leaf package.   Served over simple saffron rice, the meal brings one last hooray of comfort food before things start to really heat up here in the South.  

This  year's garden brought chard (both Bright Lights and Red) that was beautiful and abundant. We've eaten quite a bit of this delicate green throughout the Winter and early Spring here in Texas. 

Though most "rolls" require a quick blanching of the leaves in salted boiling water, I find that chard leaves are pliable enough to skip this step, once you remove most of the tougher stem.  Reserve the stem, and finely chop to add to your sauce. While your sauce simmers, there's time to prepare the filling for the chard rolls. 

Though it seems like a lot of notes that goes into this mix, it's really a perfect blending of spices often found in Moroccan cuisine. And, you'll likely have most in your pantry.  If you're missing one or two, don't sweat it.  If you don't have turmeric, you can add a little curry powder instead.

For the filling, combine ingredients in a bowl and gently mix by hand, being careful not to overwork the meat.  

A couple of tablespoons of the turkey filling in each leaf rolled up and tied with butcher's twine yields pretty green chard packages. 

By this time, your sauce will have simmered and be ready for the rolls.  

Cover and simmer for 30-35 minutes, turning the rolls a few times during the process.  Serve over a simple saffron rice, and garnish with parsley and mint if desired. 

moroccan spiced turkey stuffed chard rolls in tomato sauce

1 large bunch chard leaves, thick stems removed, finely chopped and reserved.

For meatball filling:
1 pound ground turkey
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
handful chopped parsley
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1/3 c whole wheat breadcrumbs
1/4 cup sultanas or currants

spice mix:
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/4 tsp ginger

For sauce:
2 Tbl olive oil
1/2 red onion, finely chopped 
reserved chard stem 
1 28 oz can whole tomatoes, crushed by hand
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp fennel seed
zest of one small orange
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
sea salt to taste

Saffron Rice and parsley and mint for garnish

Gently combine the ingredients for the turkey filling in a bowl, being careful not to overwork the mixture and set aside.

For the sauce, heat olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat.  Add onion and chard stem and saute until softened. Add garlic and cook one minute more.  Lower the heat and add tomatoes, cinnamon stick, cumin, corriander, orange zest, red pepper and season with salt.  Let the sauce simmer for 15 minutes.  While your sauce simmer, prepare the chard rolls. 

Lay a chard leaf flat on a cutting board and place 2 generous tablespoons of the turkey mixture in the middle of the leaf. Roll up, tucking sides as you go, and tie with butcher's twine.

Once your sauce has simmered and your chard roles are prepared, add them to the sauce, cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes, gently turning a couple of times during the process. 

Serve over a bed or saffron rice and garnish with parsley and mint.