Friday, July 29, 2011

Finally, enough tomatoes for Salsa

There are a couple landmarks in the garden, in my mind.  The first batch of slow cooked green beans, the first summer squash on the grill, and the first tomato with salt.  But a secondary landmark has to be the first time there are enough tomatoes that we can make a batch of salsa fresco.

This year we had the bonus of our own hotter than hades in July jalapeno peppers.

Tonight I roasted off a couple of chicken breasts (you could do this on the grill but would miss the continual smoking and acrid odor of chicken fat on the walls of the oven), shredded them off the bone into a little of the reserved (what didn't pop onto the sides and floor of the oven) fat and served the meat on some fresh corn tortillas with the salsa fresco.  We have a lot of chicken left because this was totally about the salsa.

How to make the salsa - chop tomatoes, vidalia onion, cilantro and jalapeno.  Add some salt and lime juice.  Proportions are a matter of taste.  Given the incendiary nature of the jalapenos this year I used one pepper to 6 tomatoes.  And an entire bunch of cilantro.  But only half a vidalia. And about 2 Tablespoons of lime juice.  Only 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

I am thinking omelet with Mexican Cheese preshreds and salsa for breakfast.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

More Summer Kitchen

The threat of rain kept me from crock-potting on the porch, plus we went to see the last Harry Potter film today.  The film was great, cried like a fool.

 Today I made a pressed sandwich using the giardiniera I made last week.  Cost for 4 servings - about $3.00.  We get the mini-baquettes at Sams 6/$2.89 and freeze them.   For a side we have Jacques Pepin's Butterbean Salad.

giardiniera, Chicago-style

8                     jalapeƱos (or serrano peppers) -- sliced thickly  (I only used 3, they were HOT)
2                     each -- diced: red  bell peppers, carrot, yellow onion, celery rib
1/4          head  cauliflower -- roughly chopped (broken into bite sized pieces. )
1/2             c  salt, kosher
3             cloves  garlic -- minced
1/2             c  pimento-stuffed green olives
1               tbsp  dried oregano
1/2           tsp  red pepper flakes -- (1/2 to 1)
1/2           tsp  celery seeds
                        freshly ground black pepper
1                  c  white vinegar
 1                  c  vegetable oil

combine the jalapeƱos, bell peppers, celery, carrot, onion and cauliflower in the biggest bowl you've got; stir in the salt. add cold water to cover vegetables; cover bowl. refrigerate 12 hours.

drain salt water; rinse vegetables. set aside in the bowl.

combine the garlic, olives, oregano, red pepper flakes, celery seeds and black pepper to taste in a medium bowl; set aside.  Pour the vinegar into a medium bowl; whisk in the seasonings. slowly drizzle in the oil and whisk until completely emulsified.

divide Vegetables up into glass jars and top with the marinade.  Refrigerate at least 48 hours before using. the giardiniera will keep in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 weeks.
For Sandwiches, chop up some of this in the mini-Cuisinart and use like relish.  I blanketed both sides of the bread with this before adding the meat, cheese, pepperoncini and sliced garden tomatoes, wrapping it up and pressing it in the fridge under the milk cartons.

Butter Bean Salad - because I cannot get enough beans

  1        can  drained butter beans (bit not rinsed) -- (15.5 ounces)
  1        tablespoon  Dijon mustard (whole grain is nice here)
  2        tablespoons  fresh lemon juice
  3        tablespoons  chopped onion
  1        teaspoon  chopped garlic
  3        tablespoons  extra-virgin olive oil
1/2      teaspoon  salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Mix together in a bowl .

Monday, July 18, 2011

Summer Kitchen

We are entering what the weather geeks are calling a "Dome of Heat"  with a lot of exclamation points and that edge of hysteria to the voice.  I will agree that the heat and humidity make it uncomfortable and that the utilities are being maxed out with demand.

So I got up at 6am to bake my cookies - new recipe based on some internet research and the totally delicious St. Hildegarde Cookies from Simply Divine Bakery in Ferdinand, Indiana.  We got the cookies as part of our monastic shopping spree at Gethsemani.  Also got stinky cheese and fruitcake, arnica and herb ointment and a pocket Thomas Merton.

I got the cookies made and my recipe is pretty close to the originals.  I may have cut them a little too thin, it looks like 3/16 inch or 1/2 centimeter is the correct thickness.  But the taste is spot-on.  I noticed that the purchased cookies listed almonds in the ingredients but none of the web recipes had them.  Also, the spices were all over the place.  These are supposed to be clove-forward, crunchy and spicey.


                    St. Hildegarde's Longevity Cookies

     3/4           cup  butter or margarine (1 1/2 sticks)
  1                cup  brown sugar
     1/2           cup  almonds -- chopped fine (whizzed them in the tiny Cuisinart)
  1                     egg
  1                tsp  baking powder
     1/4           tsp  salt
  1 1/2           cups  flour
  1                tsp  ground cinnamon
  1                tsp  ground nutmeg
     1/2           tsp  ground cloves

"Let butter soften and then cream it with the brown sugar and almonds.  Beat in the egg.

Sift together the dry ingredients.  Add half the dry ingredients and mix.  Add the other half and mix thoroughly. 

Work dough into shape in plastic wrap and chill 2 hours or overnight.  Log should have flat sides, forming a rectangle

Heat oven to 350 (degrees).  Slice 3/16 inch thick and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.   Bake 12-15 minutes (till edges of are golden brown.)  Cool for 5 minutes, remove from cookie sheet and finish cooling on racks."

This made about three dozen cookies.  And they should improve with some age since they are spice.

So this was all done at 7am and the outdoor temperature was 85 degrees.  Oven off, lights out, minimal heat generation.   Which leads to the subject of this entry - the summer kitchen.

Before the second world war it was not unusual for homes in warmer climate areas to have a second kitchen removed from the main body of the house.  Our great-grandmother had her basement equipped with stove, sink and refrigerator for cooking and preserving in the heat of the summer.  We do not have a basement, nor do we have the land for an outbuilding but we do have the screened in back porch and crockpots.

Yesterday we made pinto beans with ham in one crockpot and green tomato chow-chow in a second.  The smell was divine and carried over to all the neighbors.  Today I have a small crock filled with those adorable ball zuchinni stuffed with ground beef, cheese and onion in a marinara sauce.  And because I still had meat and sauce left, as well as more zuchinni, a second pot is layered with sauce, squash, meat and more sauce and will get a topping of mozzarella.  The bowl is today's tiny garden harvest.
Harvest!  First cucumber, second tomato, Okra, squash,
a couple strawberries
and some jalapenos

Summer Kitchen
Stuffed squash cooking away!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Summer Kitchen

We are in for a long spell of heat.  So I have broken out the crock pots for porch cooking.  There is a tradition in the south of a "summer kitchen".   And with the help of the crock pots that is what I am going to do with my back porch.

Today I made 2 lbs of pinto beans in one crock pot, and green tomato chow-chow in a smaller one.  I will admit that the chow-chow was an experiment because I still had some green tomatoes in the freezer from last year.  And you know how I hate to waste anything.

I did cook the cornbread in the oven but it was only on for 30 minutes.

                             Tomato Chow Chow - I halved this recipe and it still seemed a little runny.

  2               cups  apple cider vinegar
  1                cup  sugar
  1         tablespoon  dry mustard
  1         tablespoon  turmeric
  1         tablespoon  mustard seeds
  1         tablespoon  celery seed
  1           teaspoon  cayenne pepper
  1              piece  ginger -- (1-inch) peeled, grated or chopped
  2             pounds  firm green heirloom tomatoes -- cut into quarters
  2             medium  onions -- diced

Combine everything in the crock pot and simmer for 3-4 hours on high. Allow to cool to room temperature. Place in a serving bowl and serve.
                           Beans and Cornbread

                        Bean Ingredients:
  4               cups  Pinto Beans ( one 2-lb bag of dried beans)
  1           Ham Hock
  1           teaspoon  Salt
  2          teaspoons  Ground Black Pepper
 1           jalapeno pepper, scored
4            Tablespoons  minced onion

 Cornbread Ingredients:
     1/4          cups  Shortening
  1                cup  Yellow Corn Meal
     1/2          cups  All-purpose Flour
  1           teaspoon  Salt
2            Tablespoons  sugar
  1                cup  Buttermilk or soured milk
     1/2          cups  Milk
  1              whole  Egg
  1         Tablespoon  Baking Powder
     1/2      teaspoon  Baking Soda

BEANS: wash beans and place in the crock pot with the ham hock, salt, pepper, jalapeno and minced onion.  Cover with water to 1" above the beans.  Turn to low and set to cook.  After 4 hours check the water level and add more if needed.  When the beans are tender, remove the ham hock and pick the meat off the bones and fat.  Return the meat to the pot.

CORNBREAD: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat shortening in an iron skillet.  Combine dry ingredients, whisking to combine.  Combine wet ingredients.  Pour wet into dry and mix.  Let sit for 5-10 minutes.   Pour into hot pan, smoothing surface with spatula. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown on top.

We ate the beans on top of the cornbread, garnished with the chow-chow and some diced vidalia onion.  It was very, very good.  And the house stayed cool.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

One Jalapeno

Dinner tonight had only one jalapeno from the garden.  But this is a recipe you have to try.


              Pan Seared Salmon with Chipotle Bourbon Glaze

Serving Size  : 4    
                        salt and pepper
  4                     salmon fillet
  3        tablespoons  butter
     1/2           cup  honey
     1/3           cup  bourbon
     1/2      teaspoon  chipotle powder
  1           teaspoon  lime juice
salt and pepper the salmon

melt butter in a skillet
Place the salmon in the skillet and sear 2 minutes, skin side up.  Remove

Add the honey, bourbon, chili powder and lime juice to the skillet and reduce. 
Return salmon to the skillet and heat 3-5 minutes, until salmon reaches desired doneness.

I used white pepper on the fish.  I used fish without skin.  The glaze smelled like everything Kentucky - ham, tobacco, hot peppers.  I served this over rice that I had cooked with one chopped jalapeno, adding broccoli and vermont cheese powder at the end.

Make this for yourself and see.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Fried Green Tomatoes!!

the heat and humidity has made me sluggish.  i can't even bother to capitalize.  dinner is a salad made with imitation crab (it's indiana and fresh crab is a pipe dream) and a baguette.  but the tomatoes are loaded - i counted 67 tomatoes on 8 plants - and i have the cornmeal. so two are being sacrificed as fried green tomatoes.

first - i don't slice my tomatoes, i wedge them.  this makes it easier to handle them, gets more in the pan and each piece gives more flavor of tomato and less of fry stuff.  i flour then buttermilk then cornmeal the wedges, each step being seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, onion and cayenne.  and i use corn oil.  corn oil is, in my opinion, the best for southern fried foods.  unless you are using peanut oil.  which is also good.

the imitation crab salad is made with a lot of celery, vidalia onion, the fish, a little mayo, lemon juice  and old bay.  maybe a little extra cayenne because i like it.  i am swimming in citrus because we just made a pitcher of sangria, which will be ready tomorrow.  come on over.