Friday, October 26, 2012


The smell of curry leaf is utterly intoxicating to me.  I always look for Indian recipes that include curry leaf.  I life to smell it before I put it in the frying pan and then as it is cooking I like to inhale the aroma as it heats up.  So good.

I love having my curry plant too.  To go over to the plant and pluck off the leaves I need is ultimately satisfying.  If you are unfamiliar with curry leaf- it is an herb used in Indian cooking.  It is NOT what curry powder is made of.  Matter of fact it is not even one of the ingredients in curry powder.  At least not here in the USA.  If you would like to see the plant, click here.

I saw this recipe on Saveur.  It looked really fabulous and since I had the ingredients on hand (or was going to buy at our market that day) it was a must do!


Really, Indian food is all about stir fry of vegetables with fragrant aromatics.  I haven't met a vegetable yet that hasn't been enhanced by the aromatics of Indian cooking.  Though I have not always been a fan of fenugreek, the taste is growing on me.

Gujarati Cabbage
largely adapted from this recipe at Saveur

8 cups green cabbage, cored 
and shredded, I used cone cabbage and Savoy
Kosher salt, to taste
2 tablespoon peanut oil
2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. asafetida
2 tsp. cumin seeds
10 fresh curry leaves
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 plum tomatoes, chopped
3 Italian frying peppers, seeded and thinly sliced crosswise
1 serrano chile, thinly sliced

5 tbsp. roughly chopped cilantro

1⁄4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tbsp. sugar

Toss cabbage and salt in a bowl. Let wilt for 1 hour. Squeeze excess liquid from cabbage; set aside. 

In a frying pan saute mustard seeds, asafetida, cumin, and curry leaves; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Add cabbage, turmeric, tomatoes, peppers, and serrano; cook, stirring, until cabbage is crisp-tender, 6–7 minutes. Stir in cilantro, lime juice, and sugar. Season with salt; cook 5 minutes more. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Green Tomatoes and Salsa Verde

What do you do when you get a whole lot of green tomatoes at the same time?  Now that is a good question.  I have made green tomato jam before, well, actually a couple times because frankly it is just that good. But how much jam can you have?

I have made fried green tomatoes before, at least once per summer.

But now I have a new favorite with about six containers in my freezer to prove it.  Salsa verde.  Now, before you go getting your panties in a ruffle, I know salsa verde is traditionally made with tomatillos.  And yes, I make that and I love it.  But why not green tomatoes?  They are green and I turned them into sauce- thus salsa verde.
Then I used them for this great idea for zucchini and mushrooms  enchiladas.  An idea that came from here. A good idea in fact- they were quite tasty.  If you want to follow the recipe, hop on over to Closet Cooking.
I collected some ingredients that I would normally throw into tomatillo type salsa verde. But I added a few more things.

Salsa Verde, Green Tomato style
This recipe will make enough salsa that you can freeze about 3 cups of it and have some for this dish as well.  If you do not want so much, halve it or quarter it.

8 cups quartered green toamtoes
4 cloves garlic
1 large onion, chopped roughly
1 yellow bell pepper (this will help with the color)
1 jalapeno, more or less depending on your heat preference
3/4 teaspoon epazote (if you dont have this just omit)*
3/4 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon cumin seeds**
1 tablespoon oil

In a dutch oven or a heavy bottomed pot, saute onion until translucent.  Add cumin seeds and toast lightly.  Then add all the rest of the ingredients.  How easy is that.  Cover the pot and let it all cook for about an hour.  You want your green tomatoes to be tender.  Puree once it is all cooked.  Use salsa in recipes that call for salsa verde.

*  epazote is an herb used in Mexican cooking.  It is actually stink weed dried up.  It is pretty powerful stuff so you just want to use a little.  It really lends a lot of flavor and makes things taste mroe authentic.

**  cumin seeds are worth any time it takes you to find them. They are nice and fresh and give lots of flavor.  If you want them ground, just grind them in a spice grinder and voila, ground cumin with lots of POW.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Chocolate Pumpkins


Take pretzels and smother it with peanut butter.  Lay it out on wax paper an stick it in the freezer. After about a half of an hour, dip into melted white chocolate (or Melt type chocolates that you get at the craft store).  Freeze again.  Melt the next batch of white chocolate and add the stems by placing some on a knife and touching the top of the pumpkin where the stem would go.  Hey, it's not fancy but I think they came out cute.  Little hands in our house loved this project and most certainly ate up the results.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Black Bean Salad and Cardboard Bikes

It's bittersweet time of the year for me when tomatoes come to an end.  Tomatoes are one of the stars of summer - are they not.  You just can't find a good tomato in the winter.  But at the same time I love Fall and I love the cooler weather.  I know- no one around here is in love with winter.  They all swoon in the summer.  Save for a few people, I think I am the only one.

With some of the last tomatoes, I made this salad.

Black Bean Salad
I could rename this, the disappearing salad.  It was gone in a flash.  With a nice piece of grilled chicken and some corn bread, this makes a nice side!

1 can black beans
1 avocado, cubed small
1 cup corn
1/3 cup scallions, sliced thin
6 roma tomatoes
1/4 cup minced cilantro
1/4  cup red onion
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 jalapeno, minced
1 garlic clove, minced

Mix all together and let stand at room teperature to let the flavors marry.

Check out this bike- its cardboard.  Read about it here on Yahoo.

 Israeli inventor Izhar Gafni holds his cardboard bicycle as he poses for a photo in Moshav Ahituv, central Israel September 24, 2012. The bicycle, made almost entirely of cardboard, has the potential to change transportation habits from the world's most congested cities to the poorest reaches of Africa, Gafni, an expert in designing automated mass-production lines and an amateur cycling enthusiast, says. Picture taken September 24, 2012. To match ISRAEL-CARDBOARDBIKE/     REUTERS/Baz Ratner (ISRAEL - Tags: ENVIRONMENT SPORT CYCLING SOCIETY)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Scalloped Tomatoes


Pardon my absence as I have been a bit under the weather lately.  I had this head cold which moved into a respiratory thing.  I felt like doing nothing.  And I hate feeling like doing nothing.  Makes me feel like such a slouch.  Aside from this annoying cough, I am on the mend.  Must drink lots o' liquids.

This is so easy peasy and so crazy delicious. You will be coming back for more.  I know that a lot of the tomatoes are almost gone.  But if you have some you want use up in a quick jiff- this recipe is your winner.

Scalloped Tomatoes
You will notice my measurements are very "roomy".  So nice to do what you like with this recipe.  Having melted cheese smothered all over tomatoes - you just cant go wrong.

1/2 cup of onions, minced
1/2 loaf stale bread (cut into cubes) or croutons will do in a pinch
1 teaspoon Italian seasonings (or a combination of garlic powder, basil and oregano - or make up your own- consider this dish your palette)
8 to 12 ounces of cheese, grated (I like Swiss but I had it with Monterey Jack as well)
6 - 8 cups of tomatoes
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
you could even get crazy and add a bit of olive oil if you like.

Preheat oven to 375F.  Stir these wonderful flavors directly in the 13 x 9. Pop in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes.  OMG my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Bigger Zucchini Cake

Best. Zucchini cake.  Ever. The original recipe was from Bon Apetit. I have made it a million times.  Okay well, maybe not a million but a lot.Unfortunately it only makes a 9 x 9. I have played with the recipe and adjusted it because I wanted to save myself the hassle and make a 13 x 9.  But I changed a few things.  I had to reduce the eggs ('cause I ran out and because the thought of 6 eggs seemed a bit much)and I did reduce the oil just because, really 1 1/2 cups?  So with all the fluid adjustments. I upped the zucchini quotient a bit to make up for the lost liquid.  And it came out good.  I am doubtful you could taste the difference between the two.  

This is the original post here.

3 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup olive oil (not extra-virgin)
2 cups golden brown sugar
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups coarsely grated zucchini

Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray a 13 x 9 inch baking pan with cooking spray.

In a small bowl whisk together dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.

In a larger bowl combine oil, brown sugar, vanilla and eggs. Mix in dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Fold in zucchini.  Pour into 13 x 9" and bake for about 55 to an hour. Let cool, then frost.

Here are some pics from McCracken Farms, the CSA we did this summer/fall. This last time we were allowed to take a pumpkin for each family member present and a pie pumpkin for each family member as well.  The kids loved this.  They really like going out to the farm. Here are some pics from their pumpkin patch.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Quick and Easy Cassoulet

So, if you have some beans laying around and some tomatoes laying around, and maybe some kielbasa or sausage of some sort.  Now in the true sense of a cassoulet, you would add duck. I was interested in adding the duck.  I wanted quick and easy not foo foo! Not that I wouldn't eat duck because I most certainly would but it is not always very economical.
Pair it with a nice salad and you have a great meal!

Like I never knew cassoulet was pronounced with a hard 't' at the end.  I have been saying cassoulet like this- cass-o-lay.  When I should have been saying cass-o-let.

1 cup navy beans or whatever beanage you have laying around
4 large tomatoes
1 cup onion
2 cloves garlic
2 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon oil
2 small bay leaves
2 sprigs parsley
1 teaspoon thyme (if you have fresh even better- two sprigs)
1 kielbasa (roughly equivalent to four links)- I brown it first before adding it to the pot

Add all together if you like in a crock pot and let it go on low while you are working or whatever.

Or you can saute the onions in oil until golden, then add the garlic and cook for one minute more.  Add in tomatoes, beans, salt and pepper to taste, bay leaves, thyme, parsley, chicken broth and sausage.  Cook for 30 minutes or so on a gentle simmer. 

The big news of the day... I finally have a microwave again!  Wahoo.  You see it has been non functional since April.  Yes, April!  My husband is a good man but he is not a good handy man.  Matter of fact he is not even a handy man. His talents lie elsewhere... 
He did need a little help though.  Thankfully my Dad is handy man of the century!  My Dad can fashion his own tools and find unique ways of solving problems.  And then he is a total perfectionist to boot.  So things get done very nicely.  Very professionally- matter of fact- better than most professionals!

Nonetheless, I am very proud of my husband.  Seeing him in handy man action just gets my motor running!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Stuffed Peppers with Beef

Lately all I want to do is sit and sew.  I don't feel like going anywhere.  I just feel like sewing.  Start the day out with a nice walk and then sit down at my sewing machine.  I go upstairs and I see some laundry that needs to be put away and then I think geez I really need to empty out my hamper, take it down stairs.  Then I get down stairs and think, oh yeah, I forgot I had a ton of laundry to do.  So I throw in a load and think, okay, now I will go upstairs and sew.  Then I have to go to the bathroom and I realize the bathroom needs a cleaning.  On and on it goes all day.  At the end of the day I realize I have not done any sewing, just chores all day long.  Ugh, so I try again the next day and guess what?  The same things happen. Different room, different mess.

I am not complaining though.  Well, I guess I kind of am.  But my thought right after that is always how grateful I am for what I have.  And really I am.  I try to count my blessings often.

Stuffed Peppers

6 peppers
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
6 roma tomatoes or 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/3 cup water
1 clove garlic, crushed
4 leaves of basil
1 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 pound lean ground beef
1 cup cooked long-grain rice or Black Thai rice
shredded mild Cheddar cheese, about 1/2 cup

Preheat oven to 350F. Cut tops off peppers; remove seeds and membranes.Place in baking dish (casserole type dish), cover with foil and bake.  This will pre-bake your peppers a little.  You don't want to do it too much.  Bake until they kind of slouch a little.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until hot. Saute chopped green pepper (from tops) and chopped onion for about 5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, water, crushed garlic, basil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Simmer for about 10 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, combine egg with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Gently stir to blend; add ground beef, cooked rice, and 1 cup of the tomato mixture. Mix well. Stuff peppers with meat mixture and place back in baking dish. Pour remaining tomato mixture over the stuffed peppers. Bake at 350° for 55 to 65 minutes. Top stuffed peppers with a little shredded Cheddar cheese just before peppers are done; bake until cheese is melted.

Recipe for stuffed peppers serves 6.