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Summer Corn Salad with Tomatoes and Basil

5 Sep

 

I found this recipe in Bon Appetit magazine in June and immediately knew I would be making it with my summer cooking class students. Since we were in a classroom and not outside, we skipped the original instruction to char the corn on a charcoal grill and gave the corn a quick saute in a cast iron pan instead. This took a long time and since there was such a large amount of corn, it didn’t really brown unless cooked in very small batches. This recipe doesn’t feature anything revolutionary or complex, but we all loved it, many of us eating it by the spoonfuls. It’s just simple summer flavors coming together to create something refreshing, tart and sweet. I loved it so much I made it from every batch of farmers market corn I bought, but as summer laziness kicked in, I began slacking on the recipe steps. I began leaving out the thyme, which I didn’t grow in my garden this year, and just microwaved the corn in the husk for 5 minutes before shucking it. That was all the cooking it really needed, although it was equally delicious completely raw on days where there wasn’t even time for that. The key to this recipe for me is the lime rather than lemon, it makes for an interesting pairing with the basil. I know that I am posting this a day after labor day, the unofficial end to summer, but technically the summer solstice isn’t over until Sept 21st. As long as my garden keeps pumping out September tomatoes and basil and the farmer’s market continues to give me corn, this recipe will continue another month longer.

Summer Corn Salad with Tomatoes and Basil – barely adapted from Bon Appétit’s Charred Corn Salad| July 2012

  • 6 ears of corn
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup  fresh basil leaves, ripped into small pieces
  • 2-3 limes, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme – optional
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

Microwave corn in the husk for 5 minutes and let cool. Remove husks and  silk and shuck corn from the cob. Place onion in a strainer and rinse with cold water to reduce it’s pungency; drain. Mix onions, oil, tomatoes, basil, lime juice, and thyme together with corn in a bowl. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more lime juice, if desired. Serve room temperature.

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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.

Tomato and Cheddar Pie

17 Sep

 

I collapsed on the couch last night with a piece of this pie, turned on the TV and watched about 30 minutes of a dirt bike race in another language before I snapped out of it and realized what I was watching. It’s been that kind of crazy, head spinning, busy week. It was the type of week for lots of take-out.  Apparently, my garden had other plans for me.  All 38 tomato plants are spitting out pounds of fruit faster than I can eat them. When the freezer hit the point where it could not possibly hold another jar of tomato sauce, I pulled out a recipe I had seen from the beginning of the summer for this Tomato and Cheddar Pie. Even though I would have loved to have been cocooned under the covers, recovering from the day, I deliriously made pie dough while standing up, half asleep. It was well worth it and deliciously distracting enough to sit through a dirt bike competition without realizing it. 

So this pie… WOW. Where do I begin? This pie is a wonderful Southern creation. I’ve never had anything like it before or really seen any recipes for it. Here’s why I think this Southern staple is great, certainly not exactly health food, but great none the less. The best part of the recipe is the batch of biscuit dough which ingeniously serves as the pie crust.  The buttery biscuit crust is layered with fresh tomatoes and obscene amounts of cheddar cheese and then smothered in the most deliciously tangy mayonnaise sauce with fresh herbs you have ever tasted.

 Bake it. Eat it. FEEL NO GUILT. It is worth every single calorie.

Tomato and Cheddar Pie

Loosely adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine 

Crust

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup buttermilk or 1 cup milk soured with a splash of white vinegar

Filling

  • 1 1/2 cups red cherry tomatoes
  • 2 large yellow ( or red ) tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 1/2 cups grated cheddar
  • 1 baby leek or scallion, washed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoon chopped basil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon chopped tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Crust

  • Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl. Using your fingers, rub in butter until a coarse meal forms. Some small chunks of butter should remain. Stir in buttermilk and gently knead with your hands briefly, until a soft dough forms. Wrap in plastic and chill for an hour.

Filling

  • Preheat oven to 425°. Roll out dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap to a round that will fit into a 9 inch ceramic or glass pie dish.  Remove top layer of plastic wrap and turn dough over into pie dish. Take-off remaining top layer of plastic wrap. Gently press dough into pan if some areas on the sides are thicker than the bottom.
  • Whisk scallion/leeks, mayonnaise, herbs, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
  • Layer 1/3 of the cheese onto the pie crust and then top with cherry tomatoes. Spread half of mayonnaise mixture over tomatoes and another 1/3 of the cheese. 
  • Next layer the large sliced tomatoes. Spread remaining mayonnaise mixture on top of slices. Finish by sprinkling the remaining 1/3 of the cheese.
  •  Bake pie until crust is golden and cheese is golden brown, 35-40 minutes. Tent with foil if crusts is getting too dark. Let pie cool at least 1 hour before slicing and serving.

For original recipe see http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2011/08/tomato-and-cheddar-pie#ixzz1XyIpu5m2

Grilled Vegetable and Goat Cheese Sandwich

6 Sep

Misery loves company.  If you’re having a rough time with something, it makes you feel a little better knowing, “hey, it’s not just you… this is hard… other people are having a hard time too.” On the other hand, it really stinks when you seem to be the ONLY one having trouble with something and everyone else’s success eats at you inside, taunting your incessant failure. This isn’t going to get personal, I promise. This is about carrots.

I’ve been growing carrots and beets for 4 years now. Every gardening book I read keeps infuriating me with phrases like, ” perfect for the beginner”, “novice proof” , “easy to grow and needs little attention”,”everyone can grow this but you, you will suffer greatly and finally give up forever and be damned to a life of supermarket root vegetables”.

Look at them. A carrot only a mother could love.

 

And my beets? They’ve been in the ground since April and have barely grown. I moved them last week to a more roomy space to give them one more chance. I know I’m just prolonging the inevitable disappointment.

Did I dream of one day showing  them off like this?

 

Yes, but life is about acceptance.

I’ll love them for what they are and hide them in this delicious sandwich.

 

Grilled Vegetable and Goat Cheese Sandwich

So you may be thinking, “this sounds boring, it looks healthy, it’s not worth making”. YOU would be wrong. This is interesting, it’s good for you in a satisfying way and it’s totally worth making, right now. Trust me on this one.

  • 2 long slices of sourdough bread, whole wheat or regular 
  • 3-4 TBL goat cheese, room temperature
  •  1 large or 2 medium cooked beets, sliced
  • 1 large carrot, grated or shaved with peeler
  • 1/4 of a medium cucumber, sliced thinly  
  • Balsamic Reduction or Glaze
  • salt and pepper

Spread goat cheese on 2 sides of the bread slices. Top with vegetables and season with salt and pepper.

Like this:

Drizzle vegetables with balsamic glaze. Heat a large skillet with a drizzle of olive oil and a pat of butter. Grill sandwich on both sides until golden brown. Slice and serve.

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.

Sugar Snap Pea and Red Bean Salad

30 Jun

What you call a food often determines whether a child will eat it. Kids love sugar snap peas, my little cousins eat them right off my vines and the older kids seem to like them as well. I think it’s partly because sugar and snap sounds fun and delicious. The addition of sugar to this dressing doesn’t hurt either!

Sugar Snap Pea and Red Bean Salad

  • 2 cups Sugar Snap Peas or String Beans
  • 1 can dark red kidney beans
  • 1/4 cup red onion, fine dice
  • 2 TBL parsley, minced
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar

Place chopped onion in an ice bath for 10 minutes to remove any overly pungent flavors and then drain. Blanch snap peas and place in an ice bath to set the color. Rinse the kidney beans well. Simmer vinegar, oil and sugar in a saucepan until sugar dissolves. Combine beans and onions in a bowl and pour warm ( but not hot) dressing over it. Let cool and toss in snap peas and parsley. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Let marinate for 20 minutes before serving for best flavor.