Blog Archives

Quick Tip: Freezing Fresh from the Garden

 

DSC_8743 (1600x1060)

It’s the time of year again when things begin to ripen faster than you can eat them, but there are still not enough to think about canning or cooking down and freezing. So what to do?

_DSC8825 [1024x768]

I had a bunch of cilantro and two tomatoes which were rushing to ruin and decided I needed to do something so I didn’t end up composting them. You can do this with any leafy herb, such as the basil, parsley, cilantro and veggies such as tomatoes, peppers, and zucchini.

I added the tomatoes and cilantro into my blender, covered with water and blended together well. I froze them in 8 oz portions, as that is the amount I would use in soup or sauce. Ice cube trays are an option, too, but that size is better for when you’re freezing intense herbs, like basil, by itself, where you would only use a tablespoon or so in a recipe.

I also zest all my oranges, lemons and limes and freeze them in a thin and flat layer in ziplock bags. Then I break off whatever amount called for in a recipe.

Herbs can also be packed in oil (click here) as JeffreyW did with his basil pictured above and tomatoes can be flash frozen whole, as JeffreyW did with the batch  pictured at the top and detailed heregreen and red peppers can be seeded and cut up into large pieces and frozen in the same manner.

There are many more ways to preserve fresh from the garden produce and I’ll try and remember to document as I go along this summer. Until then….

cropped-habenaros.jpg

 

Mojo Roast Chicken with Black Beans and Rice

DSC_0544 (1600x1060)I bought a bottle of sour orange juice so I could more closely replicate the mojo marinade needed for a proper roast pork  Cubano sandwich.  I haven’t done that yet, but a recipe for mojo marinated roast chicken caught my eye.  A mojo sauce is mostly olive oil with garlic, citrus, and oregano.  I used fresh oregano instead of dried in mine.  The lemon and lime juices in the recipe are intended to get to the sour/bitter taste profile of the sour orange juice when sour orange isn’t available and regular orange juice is substituted.  Lacking a rotisserie on my grill I used the beer can roaster gadget with good result.DSC_0541 (1600x1060)A recipe for Cuban style black beans and rice worked well and fit the general theme of the plate.  I have no Idea if broccoli plays much part in the Cuban diet but I like it so I steamed some florets and gave them a squeeze of lemon.  I picked the green pepper and a couple of sweet banana peppers from my container garden to make the bean dish.  The addition of a splash of red wine vinegar to the beans right before serving them really made the dish.  I never would have thought to do that but it works!

Pasta Pr0n – Breaded Chicken Cutlets with Spaghetti and Broccoli

DSC_0120 (1600x1060)Pasta and veggie tossed in a lemon garlic butter sauce with Parmesan.  Chicken was floured, then dredged in beaten egg and breaded with my famous garlic breadcrumbs.DSC_0123 (1600x1060)

Shrimp, Ham, and Kale in a Garlic, Lemon, and Butter Sauce

DSC_9255 (1600x1060)

We watched an episode on The Food Network where a New Orleans joint offers a dish called Shrimp Magazine – named for the street where the restaurant is sited.  I watched the chef prepare the dish on the video a few times and figured I had it down.  A few days pass and I am less sure but I forge ahead.  The only recipe a search turned up looked close but seemed a little off from my memory.  The chef dredged the shrimp in seasoned flour and sauteed them in butter, turning once to brown both sides and then started adding all the rest of the ingredients:  Artichoke hearts, diced ham, tons of garlic, lemon zest and juice, grated Parmesan, green onions, chopped basil, white wine, and salt and pepper – serving it all over angel hair pasta.  I went with kale instead of artichoke hearts and didn’t add the basil.

I knew the shrimp wouldn’t like being with the kale as it cooked down so I removed it to a dish as soon as it was done and only added it back to the pan with the cooked pasta to toss prior to plating.  I used white wine to help break down the kale and added lemon juice and zest along with salt and pepper.  I minced at least six cloves of garlic, using some with the shrimp as it cooked, the rest after the shrimp were removed, along with a bit of olive oil.

Everything worked pretty well although I wish the ham had a better dice, I chopped some thin sliced ham that helped the flavor but did nothing for texture.  I think next time I may use crispy bacon lardons.  Mmm… bacon!

Oh, and I need a better name for it.

 

Leftovers – Kicked Up with Kale

DSC_9054 (1600x1060)Not much to this dish.  We had the butterbeans and cornbread leftover from the other day.  A quick saute of some kale in bacon grease and chicken stock and this was a done thing.  We cooked a half dozen slices of bacon and set them aside to drain, then added a couple of minced garlic cloves and a little diced onion to the fat, gave them a minute to flavor the pan, and then dumped in the kale.  Separate the tough stems and rough chop or tear the leaves.  I tossed the greens a little to coat them with the bacon and then added a half cup of chicken stock and covered the pan.  Let the kale tenderize in the steam for five minutes then uncover and toss until the liquids evaporates.  I ladled the warmed over beans onto a bed of the kale and crumbled the crisp bacon and the cornbread over them.  I squeezed a lemon into the kale to add a bright note but that is optional.

Friday Recipe Exchange: Sitting on the Porch, Sipping a Rosemary Lemon Rhubarb Sprizter

Rosemary Lemon Rhubarb Spritzer by Alton Gunn

Rosemary Lemon Rhubarb Spritzer by Alton Gunn

It is too hot to cook. Mostly I take fresh fruits and veggies and toss them in a salad. I am waiting with anticipation for this year’s crop of peaches to begin to show up from Palisades, CO. Next to sweet corn, it is my favorite summer Colorado crop. Once they get here, we’ll revisit some of my favorite peach recipes. Until then I thought it would be fun to mix up some drinks to keep things cool.

Starting with Thai Iced Tea, from cyber friend, Tes at Home (recipe here), who is originally from Thailand and now lives in India and shares her food and travel adventures on her blog.

Next up, a couple of Watermelon Cooler recipes can be found here.

I love my Mimosas, but a few years back, someone introduced me to Poinsettias (recipe here), which I find equally delicious at brunch.

For the rest of our drink recipes, including a martini, old-fashioned lemonade, iced coffees, smoothies and more, click here.

I’m crazy busy this weekend, visiting the Chihuly exhibit at the Botanic Gardens and then off to the World Lacrosse Championships (I won tickets! I was going anyway, but this was a pleasant surprise). What’s on your plate this weekend, real and metaphorically? Have any favorite summer drinks or unique takes on the classics? What’s your “too hot to cook” go-to recipe? Share your ideas and recipes in the comments.

For tonight’s featured recipe, I picked an unusual, but tasty, spritzer. One night a few summers back I received a phone call from a friend who said her husband had just made the most amazing drink and I had to try it. I said, ‘send the recipe and photos and I’ll share it’.  A few minutes later I received the email. I read through the recipe and thought, there is no way this can be good.

But, to my surprise, it was delicious. So if you’re looking for something just a bit unique and refreshing, this is it.

Rosemary Lemon Rhubarb Spritzer

  • 1 pound rhubarb, cleaned, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • Soda water or carbonated water

Put rhubarb pieces, water, sugar, and rosemary leaves into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes. Rhubarb pieces will disintegrate.  Remove from heat. Strain out the solids with a fine mesh strainer. Add lemon juice. If too sweet for taste, add a little more lemon juice. Chill until ready to serve.  To serve, fill a quarter to a half of the glass with the lemon, rhubarb, rosemary syrup, and the rest with soda water.

Makes about 3 cups of syrup, and 1 1/2 to 2 quarts of spritzer.

That’s it for this week. Next week I’ll be travelling so there won’t be an exchange. And if you missed it, JeffreyW posted a stunning photo this week (I know what’s new? But this one is beautiful and unusual).  – TaMara

Mmm… Coconut Lemon Cake

DSC_7840 (1600x1060)Not as pretty as TaMara’s cake but I betcha it eats just as well.  Love the toasted coconut.

Chicken with Couscous

DSC_7832 (1600x1060)We like Chicken Marsala so much that we made a variant of it tonight.  This has boneless skinless thighs dredged in seasoned flour and then browned in olive oil.  Remove the chicken and deglaze with the Marsala wine, scrape the bottom with a flat wooden spatula to break the nice browned bits up.  Add a cup and a half of chicken stock to it and bring to a simmer.  Add the browned chicken back and cover.  I used butter kneaded with flour to thicken the gravy before serving.  The couscous was from a box mix, this one was flavored with dried mushrooms.  I squeezed lemon juice over my chicken and liked it well enough, optional.

We don’t eat much couscous, but it is being stocked regularly and we may step up the pace.  I see from the Wiki that we had the instant variety which is quick and easy.  I may browse the International Grocery next town over for the regular stuff.

Friday Night Recipe Exchange: Sweet Treats

Coconut Lemon Cake c2011 W4DS

Coconut Lemon Cake

Something about frigid temps makes me crave sweets. So when I was thinking about tonight’s recipes, that is what I was drawn to and lemon themed recipes rose to the top. I suppose because it brings with it a reminder of warmer climates. Which is where I am headed later in the month. Beach weather. I’ll be the pale, wind swept one by the eucalyptus tree.

One of my favorite tangy, sweet desserts is Sour Cream Lemon Poppyseeed Cake, yum, recipe here.

Sliced Lemon Poppy Seed

Since next week bring with it the ultimate date night, I thought it would be a good idea to include some special sweets: Valentine’s Day Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies, recipe here and Valentine’s Chocolates, recipes here.

Which is a good time to let you know there will be no recipe exchange next Friday. Do you have Valentine’s plans? Do you go out or stay home and cook? Or do you ignore it all together? (You should probably make sure your romantic partner is on board with that, if that’s your plan. Right?) And during these cold, cold days, what do you like to cook?

DSC_7759 (1600x1060)

Let’s not leave JeffreyW out of the mix, he and Mrs. J spent the cold week giving their kitchen a work out and this is one of the recipes that fortified them. Peanut Butter Granola Bars, click here.

And finally, tonight’s featured recipe (pictured at top):

Lemon Coconut Layer Cake

I have a friend who loves coconut cream pie.  I’m not a big fan, so I’ve never made one.  But when I saw a photo of a coconut-lemon cake, I thought she might like it, so I gave it a whirl.  The original cake was 6-layers, I just couldn’t fathom that, so I reduced it to a 4-layer cake.  Layering is easier to do if you use pie pans instead of cake pans.  This eliminates the need to cut each cake in half to achieve thin, even layers.  This cake works best if made the night before.  Refrigerate so the lemon filling stays firm. And shredded coconut covers any number of baking sins.

Coconut Cake:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups sifted flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 13 oz coconut milk
  • 3 eggs, separated

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 9-inch pie pans

Cream the butter in a mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar and beat until very light, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the egg yolks, blending well.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and add to the creamed mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the coconut milk, and beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Add the vanilla and beat to thoroughly combine.

In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff, and then gently fold into the cake batter. Divide evenly and pour into the pans, spreading to the edges. Bake until a toothpick inserted into one of the cakes comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool 15 minutes. Loosen and invert onto racks to cool completely.

Lemon cream filling:

  • 2 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Combine the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, water, lemon juice, lemon zest and butter in the top of a double boiler set over, but not touching, boiling water. Cook, stirring, until thick and creamy, about 5 or 6 minutes.  Cool thoroughly before spreading on the cake layers.

Okay, so all the recipes for lemon filling wanted a double-boiler.  I started with one, but after 5 minutes of stirring and not thickening, I changed over to a saucepan and whisked it for 5 minutes while it boiled and thickened and had no issues with it burning or sticking.  High altitude may have been the reason for my original troubles.  Water boils at a lower temperature here, so the double boiler may not have offered enough heat to thicken the sauce.

Butter Cream Frosting:

  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  ¼ cup coconut milk
  • 2 cups shredded coconut

With a mixer, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.

Add vanilla and milk and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency.

To assemble: Place first layer on cake plate, bottom side up, spread with a third of the lemon filling, sprinkle with coconut, place next layer, bottom side up, repeat and again with the third layer.  Place fourth layer, top side up.  Frost and garnish with more shredded coconut.

That’s it for this week. On Monday the full dinner menu and shopping list will post and it will be a Valentine’s dinner if you need ideas. Happy Valentine’s Day! – TaMara

==================================

Dinner Menu: Lemon Nut Pork Chops and Raspberry Poppyseed Cake

Lemon nut pork copyrighted

I had a request for a Poppyseed Cake, so I thought it was a good enough reason to use it for the menu this week. These are some of my favorite pork chops (the other being my peach chutney pork chops) and a breeze to make. If you want some good baked potato ideas, head on over to last week’s recipe exchange.

On the board tonight:

  1. Lemon-Nut Pork Chops
  2. Baked Potatoes
  3. Steamed Asparagus
  4. Raspberry Poppy Seed Cake

Lemon-Nut Pork Chops

  • 4 boneless pork loin chops (approx. ½” thick)
  • ½ tsp crushed garlic
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup finely chopped pecans or hazelnuts (the finer the grind, the better this works, if you have a coffee grinder that’s best)
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 lemon, quartered

skillet

Rub chops with garlic, salt, pepper, & zest. Melt butter in skillet on medium heat. Brown chops, 5 to 7 minutes on each side. Spread 1/4 nuts on plate. Remove chops 1 at a time and press 1 side into nuts. Add ¼ more nuts each time. Sprinkle any remaining nuts over chops. Stir lemon juice into pan drippings, deglaze, heat for 1 minute and spoon over chops. Serve with lemon wedges.

Baked Potatoes – scrub well, rub with olive oil and kosher salt. If you have them, use metal skewers to speed up cooking.  You can place two potatoes per skewer.  Bake at 450 degrees, for about 30-45 minutes, depending on size of the spuds.

Asparagus – snap ends off each stalk by grabbing the lower, tougher end of the stalk and then tugging on the flower end until the tough bottom stalk snaps off. I use a skillet to steam with just enough water to barely cover stalks, cover and cook for 2 to 8 minutes, until stalks are bright green, but still slightly crisp. Serve with butter or vinaigrette.

Raspberry Poppy Seed CakeRaspberry Poppy Seed Cake

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • ½ cup butter
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp poppy seed
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cup flour
  • ½ cup sour cream

Filling:

  • 2 cup raspberries (about 12 oz)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp flour
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg

10” springform pan, greased & floured and 2 bowls

In one bowl, beat sugar & butter until fluffy. Add zest and egg. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed. In second bowl, mix together poppy seeds, soda, flour & salt. Add to butter mixture. Add sour cream. Mix well. Spread batter in springform pan. Combine filling ingredients with a fork, mashing slightly and spoon over batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes until golden brown. Cool slightly before removing from pan.

Shopping List:

  • 4 boneless pork loin chops (approx. ½” thick)
  • 2 oz finely chopped pecans or hazelnuts
  • 2 oz lemon juice
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 baking potatoes
  • 1 lb asparagus
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 sticks butter
  • 2-1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp poppy seed
  • 4 oz sour cream
  • 1 ¾ cup flour
  • 12 oz raspberries

Also: baking soda, salt, nutmeg, pepper, crushed garlic, olive oil, kosher salt

Originally posted January 2010

================================

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 714 other followers