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Blueberry muffins and some creativity

16 Oct

One of my all time favorite muffins is blueberry, where as most of the high school students prefer chocolate chip. Everyone worked together learning the muffin method by preparing a blueberry recipe which includes creamy yogurt and a cinnamon sugar topping. Then they branched out on their own to create personalized recipes by choosing from a variety of “mix- ins”, such as cranberry, strawberry, coconut, pineapple, mango, coconut and of course chocolate chip. As always, I am impressed with their creativity, although my vote still goes to the gooey, tart blueberry.

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Blueberry Muffins

Ingredients:

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
1 egg
¼ cup vegetable or canola oil

1 cup frozen blueberries

Topping:
1 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
2. Mix the dry ingredients ( flour, baking powder, salt and sugar) together in a large bowl.
3. Whisk wet ingredients ( yogurt, egg and oil ) together in another bowl.
4. Measure cinnamon and sugar for topping in a small bowl.
5. Using a rubber spatula, empty the wet ingredients into the well of dry ingredients.
6. Mix gently with spatula, just until combined and all ingredients are moistened.
7. DO NOT OVERMIX! This forms gluten and makes it tough and chewy.
8. Gently stir in blueberries, over stirring will turn everything purple!
9. Scoop into muffin tins and sprinkle the tops evenly with cinnamon – sugar topping.
10. Bake ON THE TOP RACK for 25-35 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean from the center and tops are golden brown and crisp.

Whole Wheat Silver Dollar Pancakes

6 Oct

Thanks to period 1 for this delicious photo op!

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3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk
1 large egg
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all dry ingredients together in a medium bowl and make a well in the center. In a separate bowl, beat eggs, milk, oil and vanilla until fluffy. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredient well and mix just until combined. Do not over-mix – some small lumps are okay.

Pre-heat a DRY (don’t grease it) non-stick pan for 2 minutes on medium heat. (When making pancakes for the first time and learning to adjust the heat, oil or butter to grease the pan can burn and smoke)
Pour about ¼ cup batter onto hot pan. You can fit 2 per pan. Do not make a giant pancake, it takes too long, the edges burn and center stays raw. Let pancakes cook until the edges start to dry out and a few bubbles form in the center. Use the corner of your spatula to lift the edges of the pancake and check underneath. They should be light, golden brown. If batter gets on the spatula, clean it off with hot water otherwise it will transfer the raw batter to the cooked side.

Flip each pancake ONE TIME! Don’t press down on pancakes after they’re flipped, this will make them dense and chewy. Remember, pancakes rise like any other cake – would you push down on a cake that just came out of the oven? It will take less time for the second side to cook, about 30 seconds to a minute.

Lower-Fat Brownie Cookies with Buttermilk

5 Oct

One of the first labs I work on with my high school students is a basic macaroni and cheese recipe. During evaluation, students find that each group has a slightly different color and consistency, but overall the finished products are pretty similar to each other. It is an easy and forgiving recipe which allows the students wiggle room for over measured cheese or under measured flour or milk. As with most recipes in the “cooking” category, you can be flexible and switching up some of the cheddar with American isn’t a big deal. On the other end of the spectrum, in the “baking category”, accuracy is essential. A little more baking soda, under measured flour or even the temperature of the ingredients can vary the finished product greatly. In our measurements lab this week, students prepared this Lower-fat Brownie Cookie recipe to practice accurately measuring ingredients using the correct tools. During evaluation, it was apparent in every one of the classes, that each group, even though they used the same recipe, had very different end results. Some changed shape very little, due to over measured flour or under measured liquid. Some had off flavors, revealing a mix up between baking soda and powder. Some spread very much and baked up like a lace cookie due to too much butter or buttermilk. But overall, most of them were delicious despite their differences and we all learned the importance of accurate measuring.

These cookies are 73 calories each and bake up just as the name suggests, a fantastic combination of brownie and cookie in one! Enjoy!

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(Original cookbook source is unknown)

Lower-fat Brownie Cookies  –

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4  teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk (or add 1/2 teaspoon vinegar to whole milk to sour it)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Nonstick cooking spray or nonstick baking mat
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

Directions

  1. In a small bowl stir together flour and baking soda and set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt butter and remove from heat.
  1. Stir granulated sugar, cocoa powder and brown sugar into melted butter.
  2. Stir in buttermilk and vanilla until everything is combined and moistened.
  1. Stir in flour mixture until just combined, no flour should be visible.
  2. Let cool and roll into a log. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill dough 1 hour or overnight.
  3. Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat cookie sheets with cooking spray or place on a nonstick baking mat. Roll into tablespoon sized balls. Set on cookie sheet 2 inches apart.
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes until the edges are set, dough make still look wet. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

 

Dutch Cocoa Cookies

25 Jan

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Sometimes a pair of shoes can really make or break your day. My shoes broke me today. Most of the time, when I come home exhausted, I can make something happen in the kitchen if I resist the urge to sit first. Stop at the store on the way home, walk in the door and get things cooking. DO NOT LOOK AT COUCH. I was fairly productive this week in the dinner department, even accomplishing some recipes I usually only tackle on weekends. But today all I really wanted was a slice of pizza and these cookies for dessert. The radio said its the coldest week in New York in 17 years, so getting out of the car and into the pizza place didn’t happen. And if it weren’t for the shoes I wore today, I would be making these cookies instead of just drooling over the pictures. If you were more sensible in your wardrobe choices today and you have some energy this Friday night, you should make these. They are the perfect combination of crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside with just enough chocolate flavor to warm you up.

Dutch Cocoa Cookies
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Adapted from Grammy’s Chocolate Cookies – MarthaStewart.com

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup Dutch cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • coarse sugar for dipping

Directions

  1. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter,  sugar, and eggs on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla, and mix to combine. Gradually add dry ingredients, and combine with mixer on low speed. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and chill until dough is firm, about 1 hour.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or grease lightly. Roll dough into 2 inch balls. Dip top of each ball into coarse sugar. Place on prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake until set on edges, about 8 -10 minutes. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
2 Jul

Lessons in Food

 

As I sit down to write these recipes tonight, I’m absorbing all the smells, sounds and sights of this time of year. I can hear and feel a slight rumble of pre-4th of July fireworks in the background, followed by car alarms. Fireflies flicker outside my window and I can see the neighbors kids playing man hunt on the lawn. My skin still has the sweet smell of suntan lotion and sand and as I climbed the stairs to the second floor, I can’t help notice that even in this new house, the upstairs “summer smell” is the same as my childhood home. It’s a smell that flashes me back to summer sleepovers, when my cousins and I ran up the stairs to grab sheets and pillows to bring downstairs to build forts in the air conditioned living room. Then there is taste. What does summer taste like? Salty beach lips… grilled corn in your teeth… burnt marshmallows… ice cream and the…

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Sam’s Amazing Salmon

16 May

People always ask me what my favorite meals are and where I like to eat. Although there are a few places I like to go out to, most of my favorite dishes are ones made by friends and family. One of the most memorable things I have had in a long time is this recipe from my Aunt’s friend Sam, that he brought to her 4th of July party. Like an episode of the Food Network’s “The best thing I ever ate”, I couldn’t stop talking and thinking about this salmon for weeks after I had it. It was a beautiful whole salmon, steamed over a flavorful liquid and accompanied by a fresh, bright mango salsa. It was plated with a trio of different dipping sauce options and served cool. I ate my weight in salmon that day and even at night, when everyone else had switched to dessert before the fireworks, I was stealing more from the fridge instead of ice cream.

Although I was able to get the recipe from Sam awhile ago, life has been busy and I have yet to share it with you. I decided to share it with you tonight, because unfortunately, I found out that Sam has been sick in the hospital and needs to have surgery tomorrow. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do, and that you say a prayer that he has a quick recovery and can share more great recipes with us as soon as possible.

Salmon and Mango Salsa – served with Dill, Chipotle Pepper and Honey Mustard dipping sauces

In Sam’s Words exactly:

Select a salmon fillet to suit your taste and of a size to fit your need. If you don’t have a poaching pan ( an asparagus cooker works very well too), you can use a deep frying pan as long as you use a wire rack so the salmon does not rest in the liquid. In the bottom of the pan, place a mix of 1 cup of water to 2 cups of white wine. I prefer Sauvignon Blanc or a similar white wine of full body and taste.

Rub the salmon with salt, white pepper and bit of finely minced tarragon and place on a rack in the pan so the salmon is not resting in the liquid. Over medium heat, cover the pan and steam/poach the salmon fillet.

Once the liquid begins to boil, continue cooking for about 10 minutes, depending on the size and thickness. When cooked through, turn off the heat and allow to cool to room temperature with the cover on. Place in the refrigerator for 3 hours or up to a day to cool completely.

Remove from rack and surround it with mango salsa.

Mango Salsa

2-3 ripe mangoes, diced small

1/2 red onion, finely diced

2-3 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped

the juice of 2-3 limes, freshly squeezed

2 tablespoons orange juice, freshly squeezed

freshly ground salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix. Season with salt and pepper. Allow to stand at least one hour or up to a day to allow the flavors to blend.

Note- this also works out very well with using ripe papaya, pineapple or guava.

Dill Sauce

In a bowl, combine 6 oz sour cream with 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise. Finely chop a handful of fresh dill and add to sour cream.  Mix in 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard. Mix by hand rather than in a food processor otherwise it becomes runny. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Chipotle Sauce

In a bowl, combine 6 oz sour cream with 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise. In a food processor finely chop a chipotle pepper ( canned in adobo sauce ) with 2-3 tablespoons of the sauce from the can. Add to sour cream mixture. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Honey mustard sauce

In a bowl, combine 6 oz sour cream with 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise. Add 5-6 tablespoons Dijon mustard ( smooth, not with mustard seeds) and 3-4 tablespoons honey. Mix in 4 tablespoons freshly squeeze lime juice. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Thank you Sam and get better soon!

Homemade Pierogi

1 Mar

Why Pierogi are awesome:

1. Pierogi is both the singular AND plural form of these delicious Polish dumplings. I know, you were calling them pierogies…me too.

2. They have aliases – They’re also known as varenyky in the Ukraine, taskice in Croatia, koldunai in Russia, pelmeni in Romania, gombac in Hungary and knedle in Czechoslovakia. Basically, they are sooo awesome, everybody has their own version.

3. They float to the top when they are done – Built in timer!

4. They are dumplings made of pasta-like dough, stuffed to the brim with mashed potatoes, enriched with sour cream, laced with creamy cheeses and often FRIED or BATHED in butter! I think we’ve said enough.

You buy your pierogi? From a lovely woman named Mrs. T? Those are great, don’t get me wrong, but these…these are a labor of love…and they are worth it. During my cultural foods class’s Eastern European unit we ( 20 teenagers and one crazed teacher ) make these in two 40 minute periods, you can TOTALLY do this. The first time I taught this, I tried a recipe from a student’s Polish grandma. Unfortunately Grandma recipes are rarely written down in specifics and are hard to replicate. The second year I did it, I found out that Martha Stewart’s mom was quite the perogi expert and Martha’s website features an adorable video of them making them together. Martha’s mom, Mrs. Kostyra, just seems like the type of grandma you can trust and you can, this recipe is pretty straight forward and my students and I were able to pull it off. The original recipe left us with a lot of filling leftover, leaving me to believe that we were probably not skilled enough to stuff them as much as Martha’s mom did. If you find yourself with leftover filling DO NOT DESPAIR! They make AMAZING potato croquettes. Refrigerate, roll into balls or cylinders and bread with flour, egg and then breadcrumbs. Fry or bake until golden brown. Two treats in one. Good deal.

Potato Pierogi – adapted slightly from Martha Stewart Recipes

http://www.marthastewart.com/339781/potato-pierogi

For the dough:

  • 1/2 large egg ( scramble and divide)
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

For the filling:

  • 5 medium baking potatoes, peeled and diced small
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted – Plus 3 tablespoons for frying
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese grated
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • cornmeal

Directions

Make the dough:

In a medium bowl, whisk egg. Add sour cream, and whisk until smooth. Add milk and water, and whisk until combined. Slowly add 2 ½ cups flour and stir with a wooden spoon to combine.

Turn dough out onto a clean work surface and work in remaining 1/4 cup flour as you knead. Knead for 8 to 10 minutes, the dough should be elastic in texture and no longer sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest while you prepare filling.

Make the filling:

Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Season with salt. Place over high heat, and bring to a boil. Cook until fork-tender. Drain and mash with a potato masher. Add 2 tablespoons melted butter and the cheeses and continue to mash until well incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Lay a clean linen towel on your counter, and evenly distribute cornmeal on it to prevent sticking.

To roll, cut and fill dough:

On a floured surface, roll out dough to about 1/8 inch thick. Using a glass or cookie cutter measuring 2 1/2 inches in diameter, cut out about 30 circles. Gather dough scraps together, rolling them out again, and continue cutting.

Form filling into 1- 1/2-inch balls, and place a ball in the center of each dough circle. Holding a circle in your hand, fold dough over filling, and pinch the edges, forming a well-sealed crescent. Transfer to linen towel. Continue this process until all dough circles are filled.

To cook pierogi:

Place a large pot of salted water over high heat, and bring to a boil. Place pierogi in boiling water in batches. They will sink to the bottom of the pot and then rise to the top. Once they rise, let them cook for about a minute more. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat with 3 tablespoons of butter. Sauté boiled pierogi until golden brown and crisp on the edges. Serve immediately.

Tuscan Lemon Muffins with Olive Oil and Ricotta Cheese

23 Aug

I have a thing for writing lists. My weapon of choice is the large, yellow, lined Post-it pads and a new mechanical pencil. Nothing beats the feeling of crossing things off a list. But today I have a little “to do list” guilt going on. I started an exercise routine that has only happened 2 out of 5 planned days and usually started with a handful of chocolate covered raisins to get me motivated and a cup of Italian ices to reward myself for working so hard.

I also planned to get some serious paperwork finished this afternoon.  That was 6 snacks, 4 episodes of Food Network Star, 1 nap and 5 hours ago. Not a single thing has been crossed off the list and I’m already in pajamas at 5pm. Things arent looking good. To procrastinate more,  I have decided that I need to share these really great muffins with you.

These muffins are great to eat while you are making to-do lists.  They are also suitable for motivating  or rewarding yourself for a workout because they have heart healthy olive oil and low-fat, protein rich ricotta cheese.  You can eat them while watching TV or mindlessly surfing the internet. You should not eat them while attempting a nap. You can even eat them when your working. They taste best when crossing things OFF your to-do list. Which is maybe what I will be doing soon… 

 Tuscan Lemon Muffins – adapted from Maureen Callahan, Cooking Light  MAY 2011

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons  coarse sugar
  • 12 muffin cup liners

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2.  Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl and make a well in the center. In a small bowl, whisk together ricotta, water, olive oil, lemon juice, zest, and egg. Add ricotta mixture to flour mixture and stir just long enough to moisten dry ingredinets. Do not overmix.

3. Line muffin tins with muffin liners and spray with cooking spray. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.  Sprinkle muffins generously with coarse sugar. Bake at 375° for 14 minutes. Raise heat to 400 for a remaining 2-3 minutes to caramelize the sugar on top slightly. ( I have used my broiler which takes 1 minute but you must stay close by watching it or they will burn) Test with a wooden pick inserted in the center to see if it comes out clean. Let cool in pan on a wire rack.

Finding the Best Banana Bread – A 3 recipe trial

16 Aug

Currently, you can not walk through my living room. There are approximately 50-60 piles of magazine recipes in the process of re-organization. My huge super-nerd binders of plastic, sheet protected clippings have gotten out of control. With no rhyme or reason to where things are placed, it can take me a half an hour to hunt through them for a recipe, which usually leaves me too tired to even cook. With a laundry list of way more important things to do, I decided to forgo daily duties and start an insane project by categorizing them by ingredient, which is the way I tend to cook. If I go to the farmers market and pick up some beautiful golden beets or baby artichokes, I want to take the opportunity to make recipes I had torn out at a time when I didn’t have those items on hand. At the top of my “banana pile” was a series of recipes from Cooking Light on banana bread. I have had them for a while and yet I never seem to make them because I already have a great family recipe for banana bread that I love. This week I just happened to have about 23 super ripe bananas on hand leftover from a recent camp class I did and it just seemed about time to challenge the classic and try a new healthy version out. Why not start two crazy projects at once? With all the piles around the house there isn’t much room anyplace else but the kitchen anyway.

Scroll down to see the results of trial!

Aunt Linda’s Original Banana Bread

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together 1 stick of butter with 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Beat in 2 eggs and 1 tsp vanilla extract.

Mix in 4 mashed ripe bananas.

Combine 2 cups flour with 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp baking soda in a separate bowl; then mix into creamed mixture until combined.

Bake as  2 large loaves for 45 mins to 1 hour or 25/35 mins for 24 muffins until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Substitutions and alterations:

add chopped nuts

sub 2 bananas for 2 chopped apples

sub 1/2 cup oil for butter

Basic Banana Bread – slightly adapted from Maureen Callahan, Cooking Light Magazine Oct 2010

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana
  • 1/3 cup vanilla fat-free yogurt
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 6 3/4 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Cooking spray

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Combine banana, yogurt, butter and eggs  in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed. Add granulated and brown sugars; beat until combined.

3. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour,flaxseed,baking soda,salt, cinnamon and nutmeg . Add flour mixture to banana mixture; beat just until blended.

4. Pour batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

5.Remove from oven; cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Remove bread from pan; cool completely.

Peanut Butter Banana Bread – slightly adapted from Maureen Callahan, Cooking Light Magazine Oct 2010

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana

  • 1/3 cup vanilla fat-free yogurt
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 6 3/4 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dry-roasted peanuts
  • Cooking spray

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. To prepare bread, combine banana, yogurt, peanut butter,butter and eggs in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed. Add granulated and brown sugars; beat until blended.

3. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, flaxseed,baking soda,salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl. Add flour mixture to banana mixture; beat just until blended. Stir in nuts.

4. Pour batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 5 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven; cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Remove bread from pan; cool.

Results:
The original recipe is still the best, sweet, buttery and delicious with great banana flavor. It is also the easiest and quickest to put together. Unfortunately it is not low-calorie or low-fat. The Cooking Light basic banana bread was a close runner-up. It tasted the best when cool. It was slighter drier and tougher but for a low cal bread with heart healthy flaxseed and nutritious yogurt, I thought it was great and definitely company worthy. The peanut butter bread fell short on the peanut flavor for my husband, I don’t really like peanut butter to begin with so I let him be the judge. I would try this again with the peanut butter glaze Cooking Light posted( see the website ) and possibly add more peanuts.

Do you have a banana bread that you think might be better? Please share and I would love to do the trial again!

Rainbow Swiss Chard Hand Pies with Olive Oil Dough

22 Jul

Victory gardening, farm-to-table restaurants, locavores, farmers markets, community shared agriculture groups, seasonal eating and even preserving foods through canning, have all become very trendy in the world of food. The concept of “trendy” gets a bad rap, especially when you think of it terms of things we wore in high school, like pleather ( plastic leather for those of you who don’t know) pants, which in my defense people seemed to like or at least that’s what they told me to my face. On the other hand, trendy things like growing your own food, supporting farmers and helping the planet by eating seasonal and local foods, is actually a good thing. I just hope it’s not a fad and that it’s a change people will make for life. I’ve invested a lot of money into my home garden the past few summers, much more than my scrunchie making business in the 90’s and I don’t want to see this fail. Besides being trendy with chefs and “foodies” alike, food that you grow yourself or preserve yourself or even buy from the farmer a few towns away -actually tastes better. 

We all know how things like corn, cucumbers and string beans grow but watching them reach for the highest branch or stake around them, wrapping their amazing little tendrils tight as they climb with your own eyes, is like witnessing a small miracle .

 It’s amazing to watch, in a matter of days, your little seedlings sprout up into giant plants, taller than you, that produce actual food! Edible, delicious, super- fresh food. I hugged the first baby, new potato from my crop yesterday. Held it to my face in amazement and gave it a little, baby potato hug. And my San Marzano plum tomatoes? They are cuter than toddlers playing with puppies. I take that back, but really, you gotta see these little guys, they are something special. The only draw back to this giant garden I have invested in, is that it produces, in this crazy hot summer we are having here in NY, more than 2 people can eat. About 6-8 cucumbers a day and 40-50 string beans. When my 38 tomato plants start turning red I am really gonna be in trouble. My Rainbow Swiss Chard is growing back to full size after two days of cutting it down, which leads us to the fact that all this delicious produce must be cooked and consumed…let’s start with the chard…

This Martha Stewart recipe is incredibly delicious, one of the few things I make very often.  The cheese and little bit of flour in it make it seem rich and creamy and everyone who tries it, loves it and asks for the recipe.  The olive oil dough is effortless and bakes up more beautiful and perfect than any pie crust I’ve ever seen. The recipe uses a good amount of chard, so it will help you use up your crop. I’ve made this as an actual pie, as the recipe calls for and its great, but again, my household is only 2 and we couldn’t eat it all at once, so I made these into easy to freeze hand pies. Perfect for lunch in the garden.

Swiss Chard Pie recipe Adapted from Martha Stewart http://www.marthastewart.com/281788/swiss-chard-pie?backto=true&backtourl=/photogallery/mid-day-mini-meal-recipes

Olive Oil Dough

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt

Swiss Chard Pie

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into small dice
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 1/2 pounds Swiss chard, stems cut into small dice and leaves chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Grated zest of 1 large lemon, plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 large egg and 1 tsp water for egg wash

Directions

To make the Olive Oil Dough

Combine flour, extra-virgin olive oil, cold water, and coarse salt in a bowl and stir with a fork until the ingredients come together. Lightly flour a work surface and knead the dough until smooth, only for about 1 minute, don’t over knead. Wrap in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for half an hour.

 To make the Swiss Chard Pie

In a large pot, sweat onion and garlic in olive until softened.  Add chard stems and red-pepper flakes and cook until the stems have softened. Add all of the leaves to the pot and cook until wilted completely. Reduce heat to low and stir in Pecorino Romano cheese, flour, lemon zest and juice. Season with salt and pepper. Cook 1-2 minutes until thickened and shut the heat and let cool.

To make hand pies: Roll the dough into a large rectangle about ¼ inch thick. Cut into squares the size of your choice. Fill each square with a few teaspoons of chard filling. Egg wash the edges and fold over to make a triangle. Seal the sides with a fork and egg wash the top again. Cut two vent holes with a sharp knife.

To make a deep dish pie: Separate the dough into 2 pieces,  2/3 of it for the bottom crust and 1/3 for the top.  Grease an 8-inch, 2 inch deep round cake pan. Roll the larger portion of the dough out to fit the bottom and sides of the pan, you should have a little bit coming off of the top edge.  Fill pan with chard mixture. Roll remaining 1/3 of dough into a 9 1/2-inch round to place on top of the filling. Roll the edge of the bottom crust over the top and tuck it in to seal it. It should have a rounded, seamless edge. Cut vents into center of pie and brush pie with egg wash.

At this point the pie can be frozen and baked at a later time.

To bake:

 Preheat oven to 400, with rack in lowest position. Bake frozen pie until crust is deep golden brown, about 1 1/2 hours for the pie or 20-30 minutes for the hand pies. Less cooking time is needed if baking the dough fresh instead of frozen.  Can be served warm or at room temperature.