Saturday, October 30, 2010

Fun at a Local Farm, Stokoe Farms

The Pumpkin Patch

Adults having just as much fun as the kids.

Fun races.

Corn maze.
For those of you who celebrate, Happy Halloween.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Chutneys: Tamarind and Coriander

Its a mess- don't judge me.

I have a confession...  I am a cook book hoarder.  I have SO many... like close to 200.  And actually that would not be a bad thing if I used them.  But rarely I do.  I have about five that I refer to often but my main source is the internet.  And actually, other than Epicurious and Allrecipes and Cooking Light, I mainly look at blogs.  I do also make up recipes, which that is perfectly acceptable.  It's all about the visuals for me.  Eye candy. Some of my cookbooks have no visuals.. pishaw!  I have seen people make commitments to use their cookbooks and think, "I need to do that too."  And then.  I don't.  But now I am openly admitting my cookbook addiction and I vow to use them at least once a month.  Maybe even once a week.

That said, these recipes are adapted from various sources on the internet.  Shameful.

These are the sauces I made for the Indian meal we had last Sunday. And if you are Indian you will say these are probably common to you.  For us, they were like a revelation.  A taste revelation- an explosion of wonderful flavor in our mouths.  I can see many applications for these sauces and have already used the cilantro one in my black bean soup.

Tamarind Chutney

1/4 cup tamarind paste
2/3 cup dates, pitted
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups water
1/2 teaspon cayenne
1/ teaspoon crushed cumin seeds
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup palm sugar, grated

In a sauce pot combine tamarind paste, sugar, pal sugar, dates and water.  Place over heat and bring to a boil.  Turn down heat to simmer the mixture for about 10 minutes with the cover on.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool, cover off.

Once it is cool puree the mixture in a blender.  In a small frying pan roast the cumin seeds. Place them in a spice grinder.  Add the salt cayenne and ground cumin to the tamarind mixture.  Stir to combine.

Coriander Chutney

1/4 cup lemon juice 
1/4 cup water
1/4 pound cilantro leaves and stems
1/2 cup onion, chopped coarsely
1 jalapeno, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Puree the whole mixture in a blender.  Adjust sugar, salt and heat according to your taste.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Daring Bakers: Doughnuts

It's Daring Baker time again and lo and behold the challenge was something I have been wanting to make for quite a long time- donuts! With donuts costing about 75 cents each, I most certainly do not buy them.. My kids love them so I wanted to treat them.

If you are thinking fried- don't. Baking in my opinion produces and equally exceptionally tasting donut. Matter of fact I preferred my baked one over my fried one. Mostly because temperature control in a pot on the stove is a little more challenging. If you have a deep fryer with temperature control I think you will fare much better.

I made two of the four recipes provided for the challenge but you will find more of the recipes here.  Or by checking all the AMAZING Daring Baker creations.

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Cake Doughnuts:
Preparation time:
Hands on prep time - 25 minutes
Cooking time - 12 minutes
Yield: About 15 doughnuts & 15 doughnut holes, depending on size
Sour Cream ¼ cup / 60 ml / 60 gm / 2 oz
All Purpose Flour 3 ¼ cup / 780 ml / 455 gm / 16 oz + extra for dusting surface
White Granulated Sugar ¾ cup / 180 ml / 170 gm / 6 oz
Baking Soda ½ teaspoon / 2.5 ml / 3 gm / .1 oz
Baking Powder 1 teaspoon / 5 ml / 6 gm / .2 oz
Kosher (Flaked) Salt 1 teaspoon / 5 ml / 6 gm / .2 oz (If using table salt, only use ½ teaspoon)
Nutmeg, grated 1.5 teaspoon / 7.5 ml / 9 gm / .3 oz
Active Dry Yeast 1 1/8 teaspoon / 5.6 ml / 3.5 gm / .125 oz
Buttermilk ¾ cup + 2 Tablespoon / 210 ml / 225 gm / 7 ¾ oz
Egg, Large 1
Egg Yolk, Large 2
Pure Vanilla Extract 1 Tablespoon / 15 ml
Powdered (Icing) Sugar ¼ cup / 120 ml / 65 gm / 2.3 oz (Used for decorating and is optional)


  1. In a small stainless-steel bowl set over a pot of gently simmering water, heat the sour cream until just warm.
  2. Heat the oil to 375°F/190°C.
  3. Over a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg; make a large well in the center. Place the yeast in the well; pour the sour cream over it. Allow it to soften (if using packed fresh yeast), about 1 minute.
  4. Pour the buttermilk, whole egg, egg yolks, and vanilla extract into the well. Using one hand, gradually draw in the dry ingredients. The mixture should be fairly smooth before you draw in more flour. Mix until it is completely incorporated. The dough will be very sticky. Wash and dry your hands and dust them with flour.
  5. Sift an even layer of flour onto a work surface. Don’t be afraid to use a lot of flour. You don’t want the doughnuts sticking to your counter. Scrape dough out of bowl onto the surface; sift another layer of flour over dough. Working quickly, pat dough into an even 1/2-inch (12.5 mm) thickness. Dip cutter in flour and, cutting as closely together as possible, cut out the doughnuts and holes. Place holes and doughnuts on a floured surface. Working quickly, gather scraps of dough together, pat into 1/2-inch (12.5 mm) thickness, and cut out remaining doughnuts and holes.
  6. Drop three to four doughnuts at a time into the hot oil. Once they turn golden brown, turn them and cook the other side. Cooking times may vary, but with my oil at 375 °F/190°C, I found they only took about 20 to 30 seconds per side.
  7. Once cooked, place on a baking sheet covered with paper towels to drain.
Sift powdered sugar over doughnuts and serve.

Finger Licking Good, Pumpkin Doughnuts:
Preparation time:
Hands on prep time - 15 minutes
Chilling time - 3 hours
Cooking time - 10 minutes
Yield: About 24 doughnuts & 24 doughnut holes
All Purpose Flour 3.5 cup / 840 ml / 490 gm / 17 ¼ oz
Baking Powder 4 teaspoon / 20 ml / 24 gm / .85 oz
Table Salt 1 teaspoon / 5 ml / 6 gm / .2 oz
Cinnamon, ground 1 teaspoon / 5 ml / 6 gm / .2 oz
Ginger, ground ½ teaspoon / 2.5 ml / 3 gm / .1 oz
Baking Soda ½ teaspoon / 2.5 ml / 3 gm / .1 oz
Nutmeg, ground ¼ teaspoon / 1.25 ml / 1.5 gm / .05 oz
Cloves, ground 1/8 teaspoon / .6 ml / ¾ gm / .025 oz
White Granulated Sugar 1 cup / 240 ml / 225 gm / 8 oz
Butter, Unsalted 3 Tablespoon / 45 ml / 42 gm / 1.5 oz
Egg, Large 1
Egg Yolk, Large 2
Pure Vanilla Extract 1 teaspoon / 5 ml
Buttermilk ½ cup + 1 Tablespoon / 135 ml /
Pumpkin 1 cup / 240 ml / 285 gm / 10 oz (Canned pure pumpkin or fresh cooked and pureed pumpkin – DON’T use pumpkin pie mix!)
4 ounces of unsalted butter, melted, for dipping

Combine first 8 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until blended (mixture will be grainy). Beat in egg, then yolks and vanilla. Gradually beat in buttermilk; beat in pumpkin in 4 additions. Using rubber spatula, fold in dry ingredients in 4 additions, blending gently after each addition. Cover with plastic; chill 3 hours.

Spoon mixture into greased doughnut forms or mini muffin tins or whatever form you would like to use. Bake at 350F for ten to twenty minutes depending on the size of your form.   When your fingers can stand the heat, dip the top of the doughnut in melted butter and then dip in sugar coating (recipe below).

Spiced sugar coating:
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

Monday, October 25, 2010

Dal Makhani

I first saw this dal on Steamy Kitchen blog.  It was photographed so perfectly, pulling me in with its beautiful lentils.  The version I made had a bit more spice than Jadens' but I want to say thank you to her for bringing this amazing dish to my attention.  We loved it.  I served it on Sunday.  Almost every Sunday I have my parents over for Sunday dinner. This past Sunday I thought I would make a complete Indian dinner.  It was a lot of work but well worth the effort.  My parents first encounter with Indian food was a pleasant one.  This is a feat because she equates Indian food (as I once did) tot he curry powder found in jars in the spice aisle of our love markets.  The certainly is not Indian food summed up in that little spice jar.

"The following is posting from the Chile-Heads mailing list which, I think, neatly sums up what a curry is (or rather isn't). The author is Brent Thompson who is highly knowledgeable on the subject and has lived in India. He wrote : "the term curry itself isn't really used in India, except as a term appropriated by the British to generically categorize a large set of different soup/stew preparations ubiquitous in India and nearly always containing ginger, garlic, onion, turmeric, chile, and oil (except in communities which eat neither onion or garlic, of course) and which must have seemed all the same to the British, being all yellow/red, oily, spicy/aromatic, and too pungent to taste anyway"" from The Curry House UK

So there you have it or maybe don't, a definition of curry.

I will post all the features of the feast in the next couple posts.  Chutneys, naan and gobi...  Here's a quick peak of the tables.  Ignore the coleslaw and raw cauliflower florets which the kids were eating.

Dal Makhani

1 cup de puy lentils (French green lentils)
1 large onion minced
1 1/2 cups tomato puree canned or fresh (I used canned)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
pinch of turmeric powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
salt to taste

Cook lentils in 3 cups water until tender.  Add the remainder of ingredients, except cilantro and let simmer for about an hour.  Stir in cilantro just before serving.
* Note:  I added a bit more than 1 1/2 cups of tomato puree- next time I will only add 1 1/2 cups.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Empanada Bites and Hand Pies

I use to buy Goya empanada dough disks and admittedly sometimes I still do in a pinch but really making your own dough is totally worth it.  Empanadas are more about the filling of course but this dough is one of the best I have made.  It turns out quite flaky despite the absence of lard in the ingredients. I know I know itr has butter but really lard makes a more flaky dough.  I always bake my empanadas simply to reduce the fat of deep frying.

Okay back to my quilt.  I have been working pretty hard at getting this quilt done.  You can see some of the pieces if you are interested at my craft blog, Craftication.  My goal is to get it on my bed- as soon as possible. My bedroom awaits for its makeover.

Chorizo Shrimp Filling

6 ounces chorizo
1 pound shrimp
1 (about 3/4 cup) red bell pepper, chopped
1 (about 3/4 cup) green bell pepper, chopped
1 (about 3/4 cup) onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon oil
4 ounce sharp cheddar, shredded

Saute onion and peppers in oil. Add chorizo and saute until browned.  Right before it is done add the garlic and cook one minute more.  Place in bowl when done.  Add cumin and uncooked chopped shrimp to mixture.  Mix in shredded cheese.

Empanada Dough

3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
9 tablespoons (4.5 ounces) unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
4 to 6 tablespoons ice water

In a food processor or with a pastry blender, combine flour salt and baking powder.  Mix in butter in small pieces, then yolk and finally add the ice water- tablespoon by tablespoon.  As soon as the dough becomes cohesive enough it is ready.  In a food processor you can easily see this process take place.  Stop mixing and gather up the dough into a ball.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least for 30 minutes.  You can do this the day before if you want that part of the process out of the way.

Break off two inch hunks and form into balls.  Roll out the dough to an 1/8 of an inch.  Form ovals.  Spoon 1/4 cup of filling or more if you can fit it in.  Fold the dough over and carefully pinch the dough together all around.  If any of the filling oozes out it will prevent the dough from sealing and you will have leakage when you bake it.  Brush with an egg wash for a nice color.  I did not use the egg wash but wish I had. Bake the empanadas at 375.

If you want little open empanada bites below, press some dough into tart forms or mini cupcake molds.  Place some filling in them and bake at 375 until you can see the dough pull away from the sides a little.  These are great little appetizers.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rosemary Olive Bread

Olives disappear out of this house like chocolate does.  My children, although picky at times, love kalamata olives.  It must be the salt factor.  Saving a few of those olives for this bread proved difficult.  It has taken a long time to make this bread for one reason or another.  Fresh rosemary from my herb garden just makes it all so worth it. When you slice it for that first piece, the smell of fresh bread mingled with the rosemary fills your senses. Dip it in olive oil with a little garlic and you may swoon as I did. Bread is an amazing thing.

Rosemary Olive Bread
Thank goodness this recipe makes two nice size loaves.

1 3/4 cups (14 oz.) water, room temperature
2 teaspoon instant yeast
2 tablespoon honey
3 1/2 cups (19 1/4 oz.) bread flour, plus extra as needed for dusting
1/2 cup (2 3/4 oz) whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons table salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) pitted olives, rinsed, chopped rough, and patted dry

Combine water, yeast, and honey in bowl of standing mixer. Add flours and mix on low speed with dough hook until a smooth dough is formed, about 3 minutes. Cover mixing bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Remove plastic wrap; make well in center of dough and add salt and rosemary. Knead dough on low speed (speed 2 on KitchenAid) for 5 minutes. Keep an eye on the dough as it may creep up the dough hook.  Just move back into the bowl if it does. Increase speed to medium and continue to knead until dough is smooth and slightly tacky, about 1 minute. If dough is very sticky, add 1 to 2 tablespoons flour and continue mixing for 1 minute. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and pat into 14×7-inch rectangle. Press olives evenly into dough. Starting at long side, roll rectangle into tight log. WIth seam side facing up, roll log into coil. Transfer dough, spiral side up, to oiled container or bowl, at least 2 quarts in volume, and cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in warm, draft-free location until it increases in size by 50 percent, about 1 hour.

Fold partially risen dough over itself. Turn bowl; fold again. Turn bowl again; fold once more. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 30 minutes. 

Repeat folding, replace plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes.
Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface, being careful not to deflate. Divide dough in half, loosely shape each piece into ball, and let rest 15 minutes. Flip each ball over and, starting from top, roll into tight oval shape. Using palms, roll each oval (seam side down) from center outward until 12-inch loaf is formed. Poke any olives that fall off into bottom seam, then pinch seam closed. Transfer each loaf, seam side down, to 12×6 inch piece of parchment and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours (dough is ready when it springs back slowly when pressed lightly with finger). 

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, place baking stone on rack, and heat oven to 450 degrees at least 30 minutes before baking.

Slide parchment sheets with loaves onto peel or back of inverted baking sheet. Starting and stopping about 1 inch from each side, use razor blade or sharp knife to cut 3 1/2-inch-deep slashes on diagonal along top of each fully risen loaf; spray loaves lightly with water. Carefully slide parchment with loaves into oven using jerking motion. Bake 15 minutes, spraying loaves with water twice more in first 5 minutes, and then reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Continue to bake until bread is deep golden brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into center of loaf registers 210 degrees, 25-30 minutes. Transfer to wire rack, discard parchment, and cool loaves to room temperature, at least an hour.  If you can possibly wait that long.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Chocolate Whoopie Pies

I promise to refrain from cracking any jokes about the names of these pies.  Even though my corny, crazy self just wants to do a play on words.  I am keepin' it clean folks.

These amazing pies are so delicious.  People at the picnic I took them to kept referring to them as Oreo's.  Big Oreo's.  These are definitely more cakey but they got that chocolate and buttercream going on. Creamy, delicious, melt in your mouth, thing going on.

If you have not tried whoopie pies- I urge you to try them.  I think I need to make them again in pumpkin flavor.

Chocolate Whoopie Pies

1 cup cocoa powder
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
8 ounce butter, room temp
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 375F.  Line three cookie sheets with parchment paper.  If you have a pastry bag- this would be a great time to use it.  You will pipe these out like a mad person.  Easy peazy- no mess.  No spooning or scooping.  

Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl: cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, baking powder and flour.

In a large bowl beat butter and sugar together for about five minutes.  It will be perfectly light and fluffy.  Next add eggs, one at a time, and then vanilla.  Mix half of the dry ingredients into the mixture, then the buttermilk and then the remainder of the dry ingredients.

Spoon mixture into piping bag and make 1 1/2 inch diameter circles on the parchment, leaving about 1 1/2 inches between each one. If you do not have a piping bag, spoon out the dough into circles.  Do not worry about peaks, they will smooth down as they bake.

Bake for about 8 tp 10 minutes depending on their size.  Let cool on racks.  Once cool you can pipe frosting on.

Any frosting will work but the best one is the marshmallow one which can be found here.  

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Daring Cooks: Stuffed Grape Leaves

This month yours truly hosted the Daring Cooks challenge of stuffed grape leaves.  Because I know so many people would be unable to find grape leaves we allowed other tough greens.  If you have the chance to acquire grape leaves I highly recommend this recipe- especially with the apricots if you are not vegetarian.  If you are vegetarian, the second recipe  is really delicious as well.  Don't be afraid of rolling.  It is way easier than you think it is.  I have put it off for years and was glad that the Daring Cooks needed someone because it was a perfect excuse to take the plunge.

And a plug (not being paid to say this), these two books are excellent sources of Middle Eastern food, Claudia Roden's The New Book of Middle Eastern Food a Borzoi Book, published by Alfred A. Knopf and Jewish Syrian food, Aromas of Aleppo by Poopa Dweck and Michael J. Cohen .  They are full of excellent recipes.  I have tried many of the recipes in this book and have not been disappointed.

Here are the checking lines for the month:  Our October 2010 hostess, Lori of Lori’s Lipsmacking Goodness, has challenged The Daring Cooks to stuff grape leaves. Lori chose a recipe from Aromas of Aleppo and a recipe from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food.

Historical Note: Stuffed grape leaves are a part of many cultures including the Syrians, the Turks, the Greeks, the Lebanese, the Albanians, the Israeli's, the Iranians, the Iraqis and the Armenians (just to name a few). Generally speaking the stuffed part could be in zucchinis/courgette, eggplant, tomato or peppers. Really it also extends to stuffing certain types of fish as well. It is suggested that the origin of stuffed grape leaves goes back to the time when Alexander the Great besieged Thebes. It has also been suggested the Byzantines refined and spiced up the recipe and used the leaves of other vines such as hazelnuts and figs.

Preparation time: The recipe will take up to 2 hours, depending on how fast you roll. You can freeze them before boiling if you want to try to do half of the recipe ahead of time.
Equipment required:
Heatproof plate, lid or pie plate. Something to weight the stuffed grape leaves down in the sauce pan.
A sauce pan.

Grape Leaves Stuffed with Ground Meat and Rice with Apricot Tamarind Sauce/ Yebra
Adapted from Aromas of Aleppo by Poopa Dweck and Michael J. Cohen. Published by Harper Collins, 2007
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Ingredients for hashu/filling:
1 pound (455 gm) ground (minced) beef
1/3 cup (80 ml) (2 1/3 oz) (65 gm) short grain rice
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) all spice
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) cinnamon
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (3 gm) kosher (coarse) salt **if using regular table salt only use ½ tsp.**
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1½ gm) white pepper
1 onion, chopped **optional**
1 cup (5½ oz) (150 gm) pine nuts **optional**
1.Soak rice in water, enough to cover, for 30 minutes. Combine meat, rice, allspice, vegetable oil, cinnamon, salt, white pepper, and if desired, onion and pine nuts, in a large mixing bowl. Mix well.
Ingredients for assembly:
1 pound (455 gm) hashu/filling (see recipe above)
36 preserved grape leaves, stems trimmed, drained, rinsed and patted dry
1 tablespoon (15 ml) vegetable oil
6 dried apricots – or more if you desire
3 tablespoons (45 ml) tamarind concentrate **if you can’t find it, you can omit it**
¼ cup (60 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (9 gm) kosher (coarse) salt **if using regular table salt only use 1.5 tsp.**
If using grape leaves preserved in brine, to remove salt put them in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Make sure that the water penetrates well between the layers, and leave them soaking for about twenty minutes, then change the water a time or two using fresh cold water.
If using fresh leaves, plunge a few at a time in boiling water for a few seconds only, until they become limp, and lift them out.
Tamarind is actually fairly easy to find.  There is a paste that is in package already made up.  You can find it at Asian, Mexican or Indian grocers.  You can also find the pods (a little more difficult) and make it yourself.  It is akin to a sweet/tangy tea flavor. If you can’t find it, you can skip the sauce all togheter. The grape leaves will be just as delicious without the sauce. But we hope that those that can find it will use it.
1.Place a grape leaf on a flat surface, vein side up. You can trim the little stem if you would like.
2.Place about two teaspoons (10 ml) of the filling in the center of the leaf, near the stem edge.
3.Roll the leaf end to end, starting from the stem edge. As you roll, fold the sides of the leaf in toward the center. The leaf should resemble a small cigar, about 2 to 2 1/2 inches (50 mm to 65mm) long.
4.Repeat with the remaining leaves and filling.
a.(You can freeze the stuffed grape leaves at this point. Just line a baking sheet with wax paper. When firmly frozen, transfer to an airtight plastic bag place back in the freezer.)
5.In a medium saucepan put in the vegetable oil and then place the filled grape leaves in the pot.
6.Place apricots in between the stuffed grape leaves. Cover and cook over low heat for 5- 8 minutes or until the grape leaves begin to sweat.
7.Using all three tablespoons, place a little of the tamarind concentrate, if using, over the rolls.
8.Combine lemon juice, salt, and water then add to pan, filling it ¾ full.
9.Weigh down the grape leaves with a heat proof plate or board to prevent them from unraveling. Cover and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 40 minutes.
a.Alternatively, place the saucepan in an oven preheated to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 and cook for an hour.
10.Spoon cooking liquid over the grape leaves occasionally. You will know they are done, when the grape leaves are neither soupy nor dry.
11.Tilt pan sideways over serving platter, allowing the grape leaves to tumble out. Try not to handle them individually to reduce unraveling.
a.Alternately you can try spooning them out very gently.

Wara Einab or Dolma/Cold Stuffed Grape Leaves
Adapted from Claudia Roden's The New Book of Middle Eastern Food a Borzoi Book, published by Alfred A. Knopf
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
24 – 30 preserved or fresh grape leaves.
1¼ cups (300 ml) (9 oz) (250 gm) long grain rice
1- 3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped or 4 tablespoons (60 ml) (35 gm) finely chopped scallions
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (25 gm) finely chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (15 gm) crushed dried mint
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1½ gm) ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1½ gm) ground allspice
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6½ gm) dill
Salt and pepper
2 tomatoes, sliced **optional**
3 or 4 cloves garlic
2/3 cup (160 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) sugar
Juice of 1 lemon or more
If using grape leaves preserved in brine, to remove salt put them in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Make sure that the water penetrates well between the layers, and leave them soaking for about twenty minutes, then change the water a time or two using fresh cold water.
If using fresh leaves, plunge a few at a time in boiling water for a few seconds only, until they become limp, and lift them out.
1.Pour boiling water over the rice and stir well, then rinse with cold water and let drain.
2.Mix the rice with the chopped tomatoes, onion or scallion, parsley, mint, cinnamon, allspice, dill, salt and pepper to taste.
3.Place a grape leaf on a flat surface, vein side up.

4.Place about two teaspoons (10 ml) of the filling in the center of the leaf, near the stem edge.

5.Roll the leaf end to end, starting from the stem edge. As you roll, fold the sides of the leaf in toward the center. The leaf should resemble a small cigar, about 2 to 2 1/2 inches (50 mm to 65mm) long.

6.Repeat with the remaining leaves and filling.

a.(You can freeze the stuffed grape leaves at this point. Just line a baking sheet with wax paper. When firmly frozen, transfer to an airtight plastic bag place back in the freezer.)
7.Pack the stuffed leaves tightly in a large pan lined with tomato slices or imperfect grape leaves Place a whole garlic clove in between them for extra flavor. The tightness will help prevent the rolls from unraveling.

8.Mix together olive oil, 2/3 cup (160 ml) water, sugar and lemon juice and pour over the stuffed leaves. Put a small heat proof plate on top of the leaves to prevent them from unwinding, cover the pan and simmer very gently for about 1 hour, until the rolls are thoroughly cooked, adding water occasionally, a cup at a time, as the liquid in the pan becomes absorbed. Cool in the pan before turning out. Serve cold.
There are many variations you can use but here are just a few suggestions:
Add ¼ cup (60 ml) (1½ oz) (45 gm) raisins or currants and ¼ cup (60 ml) (1⅓ oz) (40 gm) pine nuts to the filling.
Mix a pinch or two of powdered saffron with the olive oil and water before pouring over the stuffed grape leaves.
Soak about ¼ cup (60 ml) (1½ oz) (45 gm) dried chickpeas in water overnight. Crush them using a processor or blender and add them to the filling. In this case use ¼ cup (60 ml) (1¾ oz) (50 gm) less rice. You could also use drained canned chickpeas.

Additional Information:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pickled Peppers

Buttermilk Falls in Ithaca NY.  This picture was taken close to the bridge. This park is home to the Grey Petaltail Dragonfly, a species that flew with the dinosaurs.  Cool, eh?  The trail, taking the first bridge, is about a mile long.  It rises in elevation rather quickly.  You can find out more information about the park here, at NY Falls.

I like to take pictures of everything.  The main attraction certainly isn't the only beautiful thing here.  Lots of neat things, like these gnarly tree roots.

Jagged edges of rock protruding along the trail.
Mist and rock make some interesting textures.

Buttermilk Falls at the bottom.  If you come to the park, and are able to, you absolutely must take the trail up the gorge because it gets better and better.

This is so much more impressive in person.  My picture does not do it justice.

This was our picnic lunch after our hike up the gorge.  I brought some pickled peppers that I made a few weeks ago.  They went perfect with the wine, sharp cheese, crackers and apples.

Here's what I did to make them.  They were not canned - I just refrigerated them.  After they were gone I added some boiled onions to the brine to pickle them as well.

Pickled Peppers

2-4 bell peppers, depending on size, clean, and sliced
2 cups water
1 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt or sea salt

In a saucepan combine water with white vinegar.  Add sugar and kosher salt.  While that is coming to a boil, clean and slice your peppers.  I like a mix of colors for aesthetic reasons but you can pickle any color.  Fit them into a jar and then pour the boiling brine over them.  Let them cool to room temp and then place them in the refrigerator.  They will keep for a long time.  I had mine for about a month.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Beef and Black Bean Chili

Yes, I know I have posted chili before.  Some things are just repeaters like chocolate cake, yellow cake, white cake, brownies, chili, pancakes...  But each of them are a bit distinct.  This one won the approval of the hubby award.  He is always complimentary about my cooking.  Probably even when it is bad because "he knows what side his bread is buttered on."  For those of you that are not hip with American lingo that means he knows that he better compliment me because it will only make his life much easier in the long run.  Smart, right?  Anyway the reason why I point out this seal of approval is because when I first met my husband he said to me, I don't like Mexican food, I don't like chili and I don't like cabbage. (You might as well said, Lori, this is a challenge for you- change my mind). I have changed his mind about all of it- but the chili- only moderately (until now).

The Mexican food he had was from a neighbor who was Mexican. He hated anything she made.  I told him yah know, not everyone from Mexico is a great cook.  I said to him, maybe you just didn't like her style of cooking. You cedrtainly cant base your opinion on a whole cuisine because of one or two experiences from the same source. I did eventually change his mind through my cooking and through my favorite Mexican restaurant.

Now the chili- he loved it.  I had to publish this version because I had to keep this recipe in a safe place.  I won't lose it here.  My inspiration came from this recipe at Southern Living.

Beef and Black Bean Chili

1/4 cup Maple flavored bacon, previously cooked (this was a definite game changer for my husband)
12 ounces of beer
1/4 cup flour
4 ounces tomato paste (small can)
Ortega fajita seasoning
1 1/2 cups dried black beans soaked and cooked until tender with a bay leaf
(you certainly can use a can or two of black beans, based on yoru preference)
2 pounds ground round
3 cups stewed whole tomatoes
1 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
4 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon canola oil

Saute onions in butter and oil until translucent.  While the onions are cooking, add to a slow cooker the following: beer and flour (stir), seasoning packet, stewed tomatoes, chopped bell pepper, garlic and bacon.  Pour into a slow cooker that is set on low.  Cook ground round in the same skillet until browned ( don't skimp on this step, the browner the better).  Pour into the slow cooker.  In the same skillet place beans and water to cover by an inch, along with bay leaf.  Cover with a lid and cook until beans are tender. Cook for 6 to 8 hours on low.  A little before it is served add the tomato paste.  The only reason why you should not add it earlier is because it will thicken the mixture greatly and may stick to the crock pot.

If you have to run to work and don't have time to do all of this before your day begins, you can do it the night before and place it in the fridge until morning then dump the whole thing in the crock pot.

We had ours with cornbread.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Mushroom and Beluga Lentil Burgers

Two summers ago I went through a vegetable burger craze.  I tried tons of them.  You can see the ones that are good in my recipe index.  I stopped making them for a while.  I guess I got bored and a little discouraged.  They weren't the texture I had been seeking.  The best one was a recipe I had found on Food Network.  This one beats it.  You can see in the picture it looks crispy.  It was delicious.  The mushrooms really make it meaty.  If you make this and use a lentil other than Beluga or French Puy, you will not need to add as may binders as I did.  Drop one of the eggs and drop the instant potatoes.

I froze the remainder of the patties I made for a future quick meal.

I bought the Beluga lentils at Trader Joes this past summer when we were in DC. I have not seen them around here but I will keep searching.  They are one delicious lentil. I recommend giving them a try.

Mushroom & Beluga Lentil Burgers
makes 12 patties

1 1/2 cups cooked mushrooms, minced
1.4 cup onions, minced and sauteed
8 ounces cooked Beluga lentils
1 cup bulgur wheat
2 eggs
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon grainy mustard or dijon
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons instant potatoes, dry
salt and pepper

In a large bowl combine mushrooms, bulgur, lentils and onions.  Add salt and pepper, worcestershire sauce, dijon, mustard and eggs.  Add instant potatoes and bread crumbs.  You should be able to gather a ball of the mixture and shape into a patty.  You need a gentle hand with these until they are fried.  They will crisp up nicely after pan frying in olive oil.

Spread some gourmet ketchup on this and add a few raw onion rings, place on a bun and WOW- flavor rush.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Barley Lentil Soup

For those of you who are here for food and want to me to cut right to the chase- here yah go.  I understand sometimes I am like that, blah blah blah, just give me the food.  Other times, especially when I have a cup of tea I read everything on everyones blog, loving every minute of it.

For those of you who like cats and want to hear me jabber, read below for a real Tom Cat Story.

Barley Soup Mix
This is one of those soups you can package in a pretty jar and give as a gift, with the instructions for soup.

1/4 cup pearl barley
1/4 cup green split peas
1/4 cup red lentils
4 beef or chicken bouillon cubes (I used my vegetable bouillon cubes that I have in the freezer)
2 teaspoons instant onion flakes ( I used a real onion)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil (as you can see I used fresh)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder ( again fresh is better)
1 small bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon thyme (again fresh)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper crushed
1 carrots, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped

Saute onion, carrots and celery in a large soup pot with a tablespoon of canola oil. Meanwhile rinse barley, peas and lentils, until water runs clear. When onions are translucent add the beans lentils and barley to the pot with five cups of water, seasonings (except basil), and vegetable bouillon.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer soup slowly. Cook one hour and fifteen minutes. until barley is softened.

The Pretty Kitty Story-

Let me start off by saying that I am allergic to cats.  I hate it because I would probably have had one by now.  I had one as a child growing up but near the end of her life I started having allergies that gradually became much worse after her passing.

I feel for my kids because I want so much to give them a dog or a cat.  I feel like I am cheating them out of some special love that you can receive from a pet.  No, I am not willing to take drugs unnecessarily to have a pet.  And yes I have checked into low allergen pets.

Anyway, something magical has happened.  A cat who I have seen many times over the past couple years patrolling my backyard for moles and rabbits and what nots, came to our door. He was there one summer day in August, sitting by the patio door, meowing, wanting something from me.  I poured a small amount of milk in a bowl and went to give it to him on our back stoop.  As soon as I opened the screen, he bolted into our house.  He came in and I moved his bowl inside.  He visited for a time and then left.  A week or so later he was back.  We gave him more milk.  He started coming more regularly.  Just recently I gave him some chicken gizzards- more on that at another time.  And he fell in love with me.  Not for me, per say, but for my chicken gizzards.  The longest he has stayed at our house is three hours.

I am pretty okay allergy wise for that time, so it is totally cool.  The kids get to pet him.  I don't have to clean a litter box.  I don't have to pay vet bills.  Totally. A very perfect arrangement.

I did start wondering where our friend was from.  He has no collar.  One day I saw him walk home to our neighbors a few doors down.  My husband and I went to their house for a visit. Just to make sure everything was cool.  They told us that "Shag" was kind of a community cat.  They can not keep him at their house.  They have other cats and he is not really interested in divided attention.  He wants to be loved completely and they also said that he does not want to be fed Friskies either.  A previous neighbor use to give him tuna and milk.  I think he will be coming around more now that he knows he can get some good eats at our house. Such a guy.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Apricot Jalapeno Jam

This apricot jalapeno jam recipe is all over the internet and for good reason.  It is really delicious.  Really the best tasting hot pepper jam I have ever had. It is akin to sweet chili sauce with less spice.  You can easily turn it into sweet chili sauce by adding garlic, ginger...  And as a bonus it is a really quick jam to make.

Apricot and Jalapeno Jam

6 cups sugar
1/4 cup red jalapeno
1 red bell pepper
1 1/2 cups dried apricots, chopped
2 cups cider vinegar
3 ounces liquid pectin

In a blender combine vinegar, jalapenos and red bell pepper.  Blend until peppers are chopped up.  Hand chop the apricots (if you put them into a blender they would just turn into paste.)  Combine all the ingredients, except the pectin in a large pot.  Bring to a boil.  Stir the mixture.  It should be at a boil that can not be stirred down for five minutes.  Remove from heat, let sit two minutes.  Add pectin and stir.  Pour into sterilized canning jars and seal.  Process in a hot water bath for 10 to 15 minutes depending on your altitude.

*Have your pot that you will process the jars in ready with hot water.  Your jars will be hot so you want your canner to be hot too.

**Also, people have suggested putting in a couple drops of food coloring.  I wouldn't- its just beautiful without it.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Technical Difficulties

I am unable to load photos on blogger at this time.  Until I figure out the problem I will be unable to post.  In the meantime if anyone else has had this problem let me know how you resolved it.

The problem:  Every time I try to load the window that pops up takes forever to load.  Once it loads it does not have any prompts in it.  Sometimes it does and then it says it does not recognize the format. 



Thanks to my stunning, intelligent, wonderful husband ; ), the problem has been somewhat resolved.  He suggested downloading Google's browser Chrome- I did.  No problem downloading pictures.  I will check back with the other browsers hoping that they are resolving the issues with those.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Creamy Chickpea Soup with Crisped Chorizo

I have been sew so into my quilt that I have hardly any time to post, visit peoples sites, or read recipes.  That's a good thing kinda because then hopefully I will do less eating.  Lots of soups and sandwiches now which is fast and easy to put together.  With five blocks a week for my quilting class on top of other obligations that is the best I can do.  Besides who would complain about soup.  Comfort food and on days when the weather is dropping.  Its perfect. 

You can use a can of garbanzos for the recipe instead of cooking the garbanzos but then you might need to add something more flavorful than water- like broth of some kind- vegetable or chicken is good.  But really if you make a pot of garbanzos on Sunday, you can do many things with them- such as hummus or throw them into other soups or serve them with pasta and some fresh tomato sauce or something.  They won't go to waste.  Oh, and of course you can season them and roast them in the oven for a low carb snack for when you are sitting there zoning out watching the TV. Or have a few roasted garbanzos when you are sipping on cocktails with some friends.   But thats fodder for another post now isn't it.

Creamy Chickpea Soup with Crisped Chorizo
adapted from this recipe from Fine Cooking

2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup dried chickpeas, sorted through and rinsed
1 tsp. kosher salt

For the soup:

3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1 inner rib celery, diced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs. sherry vinegar
10 oz. chorizo, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 Tbs. thinly sliced fresh chives

Cook the beans:

Wrap the bay leaves, garlic, and thyme in a coffee filter or cheesecloth and tie with twine. Put the chickpeas in a large pot and cover with water by 2 inches (about 2 quarts). Add the herb bundle and the salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to maintain a very gentle simmer, cover, and cook until the chickpeas are tender but not splitting and falling apart, about 2 hours (check occasionally to be sure the chickpeas aren't boiling and are covered with liquid; add water if needed). Discard the herb bundle. Set aside the chickpeas and their cooking liquid.

Make the soup:

Saute onion, carrot, and celery in oil, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften and start to brown, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring. Add the chickpeas and their cooking liquid. More water will probably be necesssary-there should be about 4 cups total. Add half of the thyme. Season well with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a bare simmer, and cook for 30 minutes so that the chickpeas soften a little more. Working in batches, purée the chickpeas and broth in a blender or use an immersion blender. Return the puréed soup to the saucepan, stir in the cream, vinegar, and remaining chopped thyme, and keep warm over low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Taste for salt, pepper, and vinegar.

In a large skillet cook the chorizo until it’s brown and crisp, about 8 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer half the chorizo to a plate lined with paper towels and stir the rest into the soup.

Sprinkle with chives.