Saturday, September 26, 2015

sweet potato corn chowder

Late season sweet corn and early Fall harvest sweet potatoes join hands in a hearty variation of this corn chowder.  Spice it up with poblano, and add in some zucchini, and you have yourself a satisfying, body-nourishing bowl of goodness, ready for your table.

sweet potato corn chowder
(serves 4-6)

2 slices bacon, snipped into smallish pieces 

2 T butter
3 fat cloves garlic, minced
1 medium sweet onion, small dice
1 medium zucchini, small dice, reserve some for garnish
1 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
2 medium sweet potatoes, small 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 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 sweet 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 simmer, stirring from time to time, for about 15-20 minutes more.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.  Garnish with finely diced zucchini, a few fresh corn kernels, and crisp bacon bits.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Asian Pear Farro Salad

With late summer in Texas come these beauties -- delightfully crisp and sweet, the Asian Pear is a favorite in our kitchen this time of year.   Combined with farro, blue cheese, walnuts, cranberries, chickpeas, celery, parsley and tossed with a lemony vinaigrette, they make a hearty and satisfying lunchtime salad.

We were excited to open our bushel and find them inside recently, and devoured them quickly.  Simply sliced, they are the perfect hot summer afternoon snack.  We found them again at Eastside Farmer's Market this morning and happily took home a bagful.  Let the pear eating commence! 

Asian Pear Farro Salad 
1 cup farro (rinsed and cooked according to package directions, and cooled)
3 medium Asian Pears, small diced
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
4-5 stalks celery, small diced
1 cup roughly chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup walnut pieces
lemony vinaigrette (to a mason jar, add  zest of 1 lemon, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 clove garlic (grated), splash agave nectar, pinch of salt and pepper and shake to combine).

Cook the farro according to package directions, drain and cool.  Combine the farro, pear, chickpeas, celery, parsley, cranberries, blue cheese and walnuts and gently toss with vinaigrette.  The salad travels well, and makes a great option for lunches on the go.  Load into a mason jar, and you're portable!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

grill roasted eggplant dip with sumac

I'm going to let you in on a little secret:  It's bloody H-O-T out.  So much so, that even using the crockpot indoors heats up the house too much.  We've been making fine use of our grill this week, and keeping the hot outside and the cool in.  Lucky for us, summer produce likes the grill. Okra, corn, squash -- all easy and delicious choices. And, it turns out if you're looking for a charred smokey flavor for your roasted eggplant dip, the grill is an excellent option for whole roasting eggplant.

Simply prick the skin of the eggplant a few times with a fork, and wrap it in heavy foil.  Place on the hot grill and close the lid.  Grill the eggplants for about 20-30 minutes, depending on size of eggplant and heat of grill, turning every few minutes, until tender.  You'll know they are ready when they give to the touch of the tongs while turning.  Remove from grill and allow to cool.  Unwrap, scoop the pulp out into a bowl, combine with lemon juice, tahini, garlic, cayenne, cumin, paprika, and salt.  Garnish with sumac and chopped parsley, and serve with pita, cucumbers and carrots. You have a winner for your picnic lunch.

grill roasted eggplant dip with sumac
4 small or 2 medium/largish eggplants
juice of 1 extra large lemon, or 2 small
1 fat clove garlic, grated
about 1/3 cup tahini 
1/4 tsp each of cayenne, cumin and paprika
1/2 tsp salt, or more to taste
Garnish with olive oil, sumac, and chopped parsley.
Serve with pita, cucumber and carrot slices.

Heat your outdoor grill.  Prick the skin of the eggplants a few times with a fork, and wrap individually in heavy foil.  Place on the hot grill and close the lid.  Grill the eggplants for about 20-30 minutes, depending on size of eggplant and heat of grill, turning every few minutes, until really tender.  You'll know they are ready when they give to the touch of the tongs while turning.  Remove from grill and allow to cool.  Unwrap the eggplants and  scoop the pulp out into a bowl.   Add the lemon juice, tahini, garlic, cayenne, cumin, paprika, and salt.  Mash well with a fork to combine and break up the eggplant.  Drizzle with olive oil, dust on some lemony ground sumac and sprinkle with chopped parsley.  I like to serve mine after it has chilled, with pita, cucumbers and carrots.  If you make it the night before, it's the perfect quick weekend picnic lunch after a morning of weeding in the garden.  And the house remains cool when it's time for an afternoon nap!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Chiles Rancheros

The garden always inspires the recipe, and, often times, the driving factor is abundance.  That's the case for tonight's Chiles Rancheros.  The peppers in the garden right now -- they are plentiful. Serranos, cherry bells, jalapenos, and sweet carmens -- I've pickeld them, diced them into stir frys, scrambled them with eggs, wrapped them in bacon, and put them on pizzas.

When the squirrels started to enjoy my sweet Carmen peppers a little too much before they turned red, I made an executive decision to harvest.  What to do with a bunch of green sweet Carmen peppers?  Why, stuff them, of course.  Stuff them with black beans, brown rice, jack cheese, pickled serranos, corn off the cobb from this week's bushel, red onion and the Sweet Chelsea tomatoes from the garden.  And, then bake them in a tangy and just-a-little-spicy  Rancheros sauce.  Top with guacamole and a pickled serrano slice, and that's supper.

Begin by making this Rancheros sauce.

These Sweet Chelsea tomatoes just keep on giving, even as the larger tomatoes in the garden begin to play out. And so, they find their way into this stuffing.

Buttery and cool guacamole makes the perfect topper for these peppers.  Mash one avocado with the juice of one lime.  Add in a couple tablespoons minced red onion, one finely diced jalapeno, one clove grated garlic and a handful of chopped fresh cilantro.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Chiles Rancheros

Rancheros sauce (about a pint)
5 medium Carmen Peppers (or other elongated/bull's horn pepper of your choice)
1 to 1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
corn kernels from one ear of corn on the cobb
2 diced pickled serrano peppers (or jalapenos)
1/3 cup diced red onion
10 or so diced cherry tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 cup sour cream or greek yogurt
2 cups grated jack cheese, divided
salt and pepper to taste
guacamole and pickled serrano slices for topping

Prepare the Rancheros sauce.

While you make the sauce, prepare the stuffing for the peppers.  Combine the rice, beans, corn, pickled serrano, red onion, cherry tomatoes, cumin, coriander, sour cream and 1 cup jack cheese in a medium bowl.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Pour the Rancheros sauce into a 9x13 baking dish.  Cut each Carmen pepper in half lengthwise, and remove seeds and ribs.  Stuff each pepper half with the rice and bean mixture and place into the baking dish.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven, increase oven temp to 425 degrees, remove foil and top with remaining jack cheese.  Bake, uncovered, and additional 10-15 minutes, until the sauce thickens and the cheese is bubbly.  Serve topped with a dollop of guacamole pickled serrano slices.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Butter Cracker Fried Green Tomato Salad

Y'all.  This. These crispy butter cracker fried green tomatoes and this thousand island dressing.  This is what makes picking every stink bug off of the tomato plants and brandishing our fists at the squirrels worth it.  

With Summer just a few days away, we've been thinking about this thousand island dressing again. And, since it's currently tomato flush over here, we've had mega doses of them the last few weeks. We've had them juicy, ripe and red in Caprese, stocked the freezer with roasted tomato sauce, had them sliced bright red with blue cheese, had them on sandwiches with creamy goat cheese and cucumber slices, and now, it's time for some GREEN.  These crispy butter cracker fried green tomatoes kind of green, served over butterhead lettuce, with boiled eggs, sliced avocado, and a sprinkling of red cherry tomatoes and crumble of bacon.  Stick a fork in it.  It's suppertime, y'all. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Zucchini Bacon Cornbread

Bacon. Bacon. Zucchini.   We bought some really good small batch bacon this week, and so began the week of bacon.  My husband has been a happy, happy bacon boy -- bacon and beet greens brown rice lunches, and the double bacon theme for this supper -- zucchini bacon cornbread and bacon tomato soup.  In a Bacon Bliss.

Zucchini Bacon Cornbread

4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
2 small or 1 large zucchini
2 eggs
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup melted butter, cooled
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup coarse cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt plus a pinch

Slice 10 thin rounds off of the zucchini and grate the rest on a box grater.  Reserve the rounds, and place the grated zucchini in a colander, and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt, toss to combine and allow the zucchini to drain for about 30 minutes.  In the meantime, cook and crumble the bacon.  Melt the butter and allow to cool.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Oil a 8-10 inch cast iron skillet and place in oven for about 7 minutes, until very hot.

Squeeze the excess water from the grated zucchini and place the grated zucchini in a bowl.  Add the eggs, honey, cooled melted butter and buttermilk to the bowl and combine.  In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients, including a pinch of salt.  Make a well in the dry ingredients, and add the wet ingredients to the dry, folding with a spatula just to combine without over-mixing.  Gently fold in the bacon crumbles.

Remove hot skillet from the oven and pour the batter in.  Arrange the zucchini rounds on top.  Bake for approximately 13-14 minutes, until it's golden and test toothpick comes out clean.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Turnip and White Bean Puree with Preserved Lemon and Thyme (+ grilled spring onions, pork tenderloin and rotkohl)

One of the cool things about Texas is that at this time of year, you can find local vegetables from multiple seasons -- farmers are still harvesting the last of the winter crops (like Hakurei turnips), but also harvesting Spring veggies, such as the Spring onions pictured above.  Our bushel delivery arrived this week and included turnips, gorgeous Spring onions, bright red and juicy strawberries, carrots, lettuce and beet greens, as well as a sneak peek to Summer with the first of the sweet corn on the cob, and the Houston's Eastside and City Hall Farmer's markets have been packed with all the good stuff of the season.  It's a good time to live in Texas and love fresh food.

We've been on a white bean puree kick lately, so when the turnips arrived, it was clear this is how they should be utilized, along with the salty, extra lemony preserved lemons from our Meyer Lemon tree.  Add some garlic and thyme to the white bean turnip puree and you have the perfect compliment to grilled meat and veggies.  Though I could eat bowlfuls of this puree all on its own, we served it this time with grilled pork tenderloin and the beautiful Spring onions from the bushel, as well as some Rotkohl (a traditional German sweet and sour red cabbage) I'd canned from an earlier bushel bounty.  We may try this again with grilled Artichokes.

Turnip and White Bean Puree with Preserved Lemon and Thyme

1 (14  oz) can Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed
1 small to medium turnip, or 6 Hakurei turnips, peeled and diced
2 T olive oil
2 fat cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 t dried thyme or 2 springs fresh
1 1/2 to 2 cups vegetable stock, divided
1/4 preserved lemon (rind only)
pepper and salt to taste

Peel and dice the turnip and add to small pot with enough vegetable stock to cover.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer until tender, approximately 12 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of your dice.  In the meantime, rinse and drain the cannellini beans, the garlic, and heat 2 T of olive oil on medium heat in a heavy bottomed pan.  Add the garlic and allow it cook for about a minute.  Add the thyme, beans and about a 1/4 c veggie stock.  Reduce heat slightly and allow to simmer for a few minutes until everything is nice and fragrant.   Remove the tender turnips from the broth (reserving liquid) and place in a blender.  Add the bean mixture to the blender and allow to cool slightly.  Rinse and remove and discard the pulp from about a 1/4 of a preserved lemon.  Add the preserved lemon peel to the blender.  Puree, adding a little of the reserved turnip cooking broth as needed to help it along.  Season with pepper and salt as needed, though I found salt unnecessary in mine, as the preserved lemon provided just enough.

Spread some on a plate and top with your favorite grilled meat, fish or veggie (such as grilled artichokes or summer squash).

Friday, March 27, 2015

spring eggs + a happy lunch

Edible Violas + Classic Deviled Eggs = Spring Eggs --  The excuse to make a happy lunch with ingredients from the garden, to be enjoyed outside on the deck with a friend (who took the happy egg photo above!).

Spring Eggs, Radish and Chevre toasts, Copycat Salad and Chard Pesto pasta make the feast.

Garden radish and chevre toasts.

Last week we had the most amazing salad at a neighborhood restaurant.  This is my copycat version with sugar snap peas, strawberries, shaved red cabbage, mint, walnuts, yogurt and balsamic.

Happy Eggs.  Happy Spring.  Happy Lunch.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

carrot/red cabbage tahini slaw + arugula + chevre lavash bread wraps

I heart carrot season.  If you've never grown your own carrots, you just simply need to do so.  Seriously.  Do it.  They are the sweetest, most tender but crunchy orange bites of goodness you'll ever taste, pulled straight from the ground.

We came up with these wraps for lunches this week using what we had from the garden and our bushel.  Smear some hummus on lavash bread, layer on arugula, then carrot slaw (made with grated carrots, red cabbage, chopped carrot tops, currants and tossed with tahini dressing), and top with chevre.  Roll it up, slice in half and serve with a side cup of simple cauliflower soup. Pretty sweet on a rainy January day.