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Archive for June, 2007

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I haven’t fixed shish kebabs for a few years and yesterday I bought a large sirloin tip roast. I cut up enough cubes for the two of us for tonight and froze the rest. We can use the rest for kebabs or something else — whatever seems right at the time. I have been marinating the beef all day in a vinaigrette with a little soy sauce mixed in.

We will skewer chunks of red, yellow and green pepper, mushrooms, lots of mushrooms, red onion wedges, and cherry tomatoes. I like to skewer the meat and vegetables separately since they tend to cook for unequal times. The cherry tomatoes will be by themselves on a skewer as well because they only need a minute or two and I don’t want them to burst and fall into the fire.

I am fixing rice pilaf also. It’s one of Alton Brown’s recipes from the Food Network.

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With the arrival of summer, the initial abundance of tomatoes inspires us to prepare BLT’s, bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches. We love to have them with corn on the cob but I’m afraid we have to wait a few more weeks before we can have corn. (Actually, if we don’t get some rain soon, we may not have much corn at all.)

We had our first BLT’s last night. In fact, what we had was BBOTS, a variation named by my daughter and her husband. A BBOT (pronouced bee-bott) consists of Bacon, of course, Basil, Onion (red onion, preferably), and Tomato. I was going to have a BBOAT, avocado slices added to a BBOT, but I had already eaten the avocado. I had two sandwiches, one was a BBORT; I added some romaine lettuce.

I used my no-knead bread which is good on sandwiches, but I prefer the ordinary Pepperidge Farm White Sandwich bread for some sandwiches, namely BLT’s and turkey sandwiches. I usually only buy it one or two times a year. I like its denseness and slight sweetness with turkey. Before I started baking bread, I used grocery store whole wheat bread, usually one of the Pepperidge Farm whole grain varieties. Occasionally, we would treat ourselves to bakery bread, ciabatta or sourdough, usually. For about 50 cents, I can make my own bread which is a fairly good imitation of bakery ciabatta. Of course, it heats up my kitchen and probably causes extra cooling expense in the summer but will feel mighty good this winter.

The bacon I used was thickly sliced from the butcher counter of the grocery. It was OK, but I think I will use thinner sliced bacon as I usually do. Thick bacon was hard to bite into and tended to make the sandwich fall apart. I like Bob Evans’ pepper flavored bacon and will use that next time.

If I could use any bacon in the world, I would use bacon from Oscar’s Adirondack Smoke House. Oscar’s is in Warrensburg, New York. We’ve stopped there on the way to my sister and brother-in-law’s farm in Keene Valley in the Adirondacks . That is great bacon and you can order it online or by phone and have it shipped to your house. We’ve done that and also brought some with us from New York.

But the essential part of BLT’s, BBOT’s or whatever variation is the tomato. The ones we had last night weren’t exactly local. We are in Ohio and the tomatoes were from Grainger County, Tennessee. One of my daughters lives in Tennessee and she often gets Grainger County tomatoes and has told us how good they are. This spring, one of the local farms near us has been selling tomatoes from Grainger County since their own tomatoes aren’t ready yet. We have been enjoying delicious “imported” tomatoes for the last month or so. There is something unusually good about Grainger County’s bounty. This mountain-grown fruit is famous for its thin-skinned juiciness with that old-fashioned tomato taste and surely beats any grocery store offering.

Globe of dripping seediness,
Succulence with acidity,
Makes the long cold tolerable;
Hurry to my table.

Completion with flour and yeast,
Beast and cheese and condiments,
Green leaf romaine for healthful style
Top the mighty edifice.

Till the frost destroys the gift
Winter’s chill and dark of day
Reduce us to a petty state
Waiting Nature’s crimson bounty.

Hope you can find some good tomatoes soon.

Morgana

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This is a recipe from Gourmet Magazine via the Food Network. I think it is from a Sara Moulton show. I bought some chicken thighs Sunday and wanted to try something different. I did a little poking around on the internet and found this recipe. Luckily I had everything I needed, including some day-old bread to use for the bread crumbs.

I was going to Pilates class at 5:30 and wouldn’t be home until close to 7:00pm. I was able to marinate the chicken in the afternoon and get as much of the rest prepared then as well. I knew I’d have plenty of time to finish it up and get it in the oven before we would be ready to eat.

Here is the recipe. It was good.

Deviled Chicken Thighs

Recipe courtesy Gourmet Magazine
Don’t be alarmed by the 2 tablespoons of hot pepper sauce called for below. The resulting marinade is spicy, but not incendiary.

Chicken:
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco, but I used Louisiana Hot Sauce)
2 3/4 pounds chicken thighs

Bread Crumb coating:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons packed fresh parsley leaves
3/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne

Put the lemon juice, hot pepper sauce, and chicken in a large sealable plastic bag and seal bag. Shake bag to coat chicken with hot pepper sauce mixture. Chill chicken in 1 layer, turning bag occasionally, 1 hour. (I marinated it for 4 hours.)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease 1 large shallow baking pan.
To make the coating: In a small saucepan melt the butter. Finely chop the parsley and in a bowl, stir together with the remaining coating ingredients.

Drain thighs in a colander and arrange, without crowding, in baking pan. Brush each thigh on all sides with melted butter and roll in coating, pressing crumbs gently to adhere and returning to pan.

Bake the chicken, 40 minutes total, or until cooked through and golden brown. Chicken may be made 1 day ahead and cooled before being chilled in an airtight container.

Serve chicken hot or at room temperature.

Episode#: SS1E25
Copyright © 2006 Television Food Network, G.P., All Rights Reserved

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The summertime fairies have returned to my garden again this year. I sometimes see them flitting about the flowers and shrubbery. Usually them are too shy to let me get a close look, but luckily, I had my camera at the ready and was able to catch this little cutie by the overturned pot I supplied for shelter for them. She looks quite content.

I am going to keep my camera by the backdoor and see how many I can photograph. I’ll keep you posted.

UPDATE: I was fortunate that I found these two cuties this morning while I was deadheading some flowers. They must be getting used to me because they didn’t run away immediately although they scampered into the underbrush right after I photographed them. They don’t like photographic evidence of their existence, I guess. I wonder how many there are in my garden? 100_2240_3.jpg

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Now that I’m baking 5-7 loaves of bread each week, I always have the last few inches of the old loaves left over. I can only use so much bread crumbs, and my waistline can’t afford French Toast and Bread Pudding, so I’ve been trying to find ways to use up the bread.

Last night, I fixed an Italian bread salad called panzanella. Basically, it is a combination of fresh tomatoes, oil, vinegar, herbs and cubes of stale bread. There are probably as many variations as there are households in Tuscany since it was originally a first course dish for busy households that would help fill up the family’s tummies before the main course. One or two day old bread mixed with good fresh ingredients certainly could fill up my tummy.

Some recipes call for soaking the bread in water and squeezing the water out before mixing with the other ingredients. Others just suggest moistening the bread with drops of water. Still others recommend toasting the bread or sauteing the bread in olive oil. Other ingredients could be lemon juice instead of vinegar, capers, onions, garlic, tuna, cucumbers, and a whole selection of fresh herbs.

I cut the thick slices of 2 day old bread into cubes and sauteed them in olive oil with slivers of a large garlic clove until golden brown. In the meantime, I chopped up 3 tomatoes, sliced half of a small red onion, tore up a small handful of basil mixed with a little Italian parsley, and a few oregano and mint leaves. I mixed those with about 1/2 t. sea salt and a good grinding of black pepper. When the bread cubes were done, I picked out the garlic slivers and chopped them up and added the garlic and bread to the mixing bowl with the tomatoes. The bread absorbed the juices from the tomatoes as well as the oil and vinegar. I prepared the rest of the meal and let the salad wait for a while so that the flavors could meld together.

This could easily be converted to a salad entree with the addition of meat or cheese, some arugula or a combination of salad greens. I’ll try that later this summer. I’m still waiting for my own garden’s tomatoes to ripen. I have about 50 getting ready to redden. Heaven. I’ll be in heaven.

Morgana

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[UPDATE: I have added lots of photos of the No-Knead Bread making process here .]

If you have been reading this space, you know I have been making no knead bread for nearly two months. I make about 5-6 loaves a week, easily enough to keep our family well supplied with carbs. My waistline will suffer, I’m sure. It’s so difficult to limit one’s self to just one slice of warm-from-the-oven savory bread with soft butter waiting to slather all over it. It also makes great toast, and great French Toast, once it starts to get stale, not that that ever happens around here.

Anyway, my last foray into bread making involved adding Parmesan cheese to the dough. I had no special recipe. I just added a handful, probably 1/4 to 1/3 cup of grated Parmesan (just from the dairy case at the grocery, already shredded, but not the green canister of Kraft Parmesan – I didn’t have a wedge of parm to grate myself) to the basic 3 c. flour, 2 t. salt, 1 5/8 c. water, 1/4 t. yeast recipe for no-knead bread. I did add about 1/4 t. powdered onion and 1/4 t. powdered garlic to see what that would do. I followed the rest of the recipe verbatim, let it rise for 18 hours, covered, at room temperature, formed it into a loaf and let it rest for 15 minutes, put it in an oiled bowl and let it rise again for 2 hours, covered, and then baked it in a 450 degree oven preheated for 30 minutes in a preheated enameled cast iron Dutch oven (Mario Batali brand, 6 qt. size) covered for 30 minutes, and uncovered for 15 minutes. Once it was out of the oven and on a cooling rack, I brushed it with butter.

It was delicious. It would be a great bread to serve with soup and a hunk of good cheese for a quick meal. Maybe not with a hot minestrone in the middle of summer, but certainly with a great gazpacho. Hey! I know what I’ll fix this weekend! We love gazpacho!

Next time I will use a little more Parmesan. Today’s bread had a too subtle cheese flavor and I want to see how much more I can add without going overboard with it. I intend to try Asiago cheese also. A local bakery makes an Asiago-Onion bread that has an Asiago flavor that is too strong for me. So I will try to temper my addition of that distinctive cheese for a more subtle approach. I would rather have plain bread and a piece of Asiago to go with it, than have my bread taste so strongly of the cheese itself.

I will keep you posted on the results of more experiments. By the way, the last experiment with 1 cup of cornmeal replacing one of the 3 cups of flour was not acceptable to me. It was too dry and not tasty enough. I will stick to cornmeal quickbreads in the future.

I hope you have found the time to try no knead bread. It is so simple and forgiving. I have done so many “wrong” things in preparing it and each and every time it comes out great. Let it rise too long? No worries, mate. Forget to stir the dry ingredients before adding the water? No problem. Do you think it’s too wet a dough? Nah. It’ll be fine. Anyone who has never dreamed of making bread will find this recipe a delightful introduction to breadmaking. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the best bread in the world. I haven’t bought a loaf of bread in over a month.

The only problem with it is that you must have a large cutting board and a good bread knife, preferably an offsett one, to save your knuckles. And also, you will always be cleaning flour off of your countertops. But it’s a small price to pay for something that lifts bread out of the ordinary and places it on a culinary pedastal. No kidding. You will be surprised at how good it is.

Morgana

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Often we are invited to a potluck lunch or dinner and I occasionally bring vegies and dip. A well laid out platter of colorful fresh vegetables is not only a sight to behold, but a sight to be eaten. You can do all sorts of clever things with hollowed out bell peppers to hold dips, fancy roses carved from tomato peels or radishes. Be creative if you wish, and if you have the time. The best recommendation I can make, however, is to cut everything evenly, and make carrot and celery strips skinnier and shorter than you might initially think, maybe 1/2″ X 3″. People find slim carrot and celery sticks easier to eat. Be sure to de-string the celery even if you would leave it as is for yourself.

As for the other vegies, go for as many colors as possible. Broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper strips of all colors, and scallions usually show up on my vegetable trays. Don’t buy the all ready prepared trays from groceries. You have no idea how long they have been sitting around waiting. You also have no idea how well the vegies were cleaned. You can bet they weren’t cleaned as well as you would clean your own. Sure, it takes some time to do it right, but you will be preparing fresher cleaner and prettier food for yourself and your guests and family. I was totally grossed out recently to see celery sticks on a buffet table at a restaurant that were filthy! I mean big black hunks of who-knows-what on many of them. I still am disappointed in myself that I didn’t complain to the management. Do it right. People will notice that you took the extra time to make it special. I don’t bother with fancy garnishes, but I do try to make all the pieces uniform in size and shape where possible.

Some people prefer to blanch broccoli and cauliflower before adding them. I don’t find it necessary.

Now that you have a beautiful platter prepared, do you want to serve a savory dip to accompany it? I have two that I often make. One is the omnipresent dill dip and the other is my favorite, a tangy mustard/horseradish dip that would make a salad dressing as well. Try one, or both, next time you are preparing a vegetable platter.

DILL DIP FOR A VEGIE TRAY

This can easily be doubled or tripled

1/3 c. mayonnaise
1/3 c. sour cream
1/2 t. dillweed, dried or 1 t. fresh, chopped
1 drop Tabasco, or to taste
1/4 t. Worcestershire
1/2 t. seasoned salt, (I use Lawry’s)
1/2 t. dried onion flakes, or 1 t. finely diced fresh onion
2 t. fresh parsley, finely snipped
black pepper, to taste

Mix all ingredients well. Cover and chill at least 4 hours. Can be made a day or 2 ahead.

MUSTARD DIP

1 c. mayonnaise
1 t. tarragon vinegar
1 t. garlic salt
1 t. horseradish
1 t. dry mustard
1 t. prepared yellow mustard
1 t. grated onion
1 t. curry powder

Mix all together, cover and chill. Can be made a day ahead.

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