Archive for Recipes

Extend the Gardening Season With Row Covers and Layers of Leaves

Here's my Kale, sung as a bug in a rug.

Winter weather is right around the corner but we can still have fresh vegetables with a little advance planning.  If you still have carrots, a thick layer of leaves will keep the earth soft enough to dig them for many weeks to come.  Parsnips shouldn’t be picked until they have been touched by frost.  The frost sweetens them and develops the flavor.  Cover these with leaves too and mark the ends of the rows with stakes so you will know where to dig, if snow covers the ground.  The soil may freeze but there will be days over the winter where it warms up and you can go out and dig enough for a week or two as the carrots and parsnips last well in the refrigerator crisper drawer.  Kale is one vegetable that stands up well to repeated frost.  It eventually succumbs, but that day can be put off with row covers.  I secure the covers to the hoops with clothespins so I can easily pull back the cover to get at the kale.  I have given kale recipes in the posts for December 13th and 17th, 2011 and more complete instructions for parsnips with recipes in the post for February 18th, 2012 (see archives).

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Wring the Most Meals from Your Thanksgiving Turkey Carcass

Here's what's left after picking the meat off the bones:   broth, meaty pieces and bones.

Here’s what’s left after picking the meat off the bones: broth, meaty pieces and bones.

Thanksgiving is long gone of course, but the turkey lasts for many more days.  I love the traditional dinner and always make enough so we can repeat the feast several times before I have to get inventive and make a different meal.  We had turkey with trimmings for four days (when the gravy ran out) and pie for breakfast for another day or two after that.  We had turkey sandwiches with cranberry sauce for lunch for five days.  This may sound boring, but we both love real roast turkey (not those packaged, saline infused cold cuts) and making Thanksgiving dinner is enough of a job, I welcome the time off from cooking.

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Turkey “Tetrazzini” with Brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce and carrot slaw

When the easily accessible meat has been used, there are still a few meals left in the carcass.  You only need to break it down to get at those morsels for soups and other dishes.  I have friends who put the carcass out for the crows and vultures, a very worthy action, but I am too much of a parsimonious Yankee to do that.  To break down the carcass, pull off the thigh bones and wings and put them into a large stockpot.  There is a natural joint at the base of the thigh that you can find by probing with a knife point, if it doesn’t come off easily.  (Push in the knife point and wiggle it around cutting the sinews that attach the joint until you can pull it loose.)  The body can be broken into two sections by cutting down through from the base of the ribs to the backbone, and if that isn’t small enough to fit in your stockpot, the carcass can be cut along the backbone, separating the “torso” and the “hips” into four pieces.  When all the pieces are in your stockpot fill to cover the bones with water and simmer it, covered, for about an hour.  Let it cool and separate the meat from the bones.  Set larger pieces of meat aside and save the smaller bits for soups.

When all was done, I had enough broth and turkey left over for four containers of turkey soup.

When all was done, I had enough broth and turkey left over for four containers of turkey soup.

It is amazing how much meat remains.  I had enough for two full meals and five containers of soup.  The first meal I made was Turkey “Tetrazzini,” a simplified version of the famous soprano’s chicken dish.  I sautéed onions, mushrooms and a little garlic together, added some of the reserved broth and some white wine, salt, pepper and herbs.  I reduced this to sauce consistency while boiling up some noodles, then added in some of the larger turkey pieces.  I like to add the noodles to the sauce and cook them together for a minute or two to marry the flavors.  The second meal was Turkey cacciatore style, which means “the way a hunter would make it.”  Presumably a hunter in the woods would be able to gather mushrooms for the sauce which also includes tomatoes, onions and garlic, etc.  I simplified this too, using some of the marinara sauce I canned this summer, adding more broth and reducing it after sauteing the mushrooms.   I added the turkey a couple of minutes before serving it over linguine.

For the soup, I used the remaining broth after straining it to be sure there were no bones.   Instead of thickening it with flour or something similar, I broke up leftover rolls and stuffing and used my hand blender to emulsify the broth after they had a chance to soften.  I then added salt & pepper, carrots, celery, onions, garlic and a parsnip.  For the starch I chose brown rice and I flavored it with herbs; parsley, sage and thyme.   We had it for lunch and I had four containers for the freezer.

Here's the Turkey Cacciatore, ready to serve.

Here’s the Turkey Cacciatore, ready to serve.

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Hen of the Woods: Day One

We brought two “nests” home and my husband cleaned them up.  I sauteed the fronds, half in butter and half in olive oil, and put these on cookie sheets to freeze for later use, reserving some for dinner tonight.  We still had the stalks which I sliced thinly and sauteed in butter to use for our lunch; Hen of the Woods sandwiches.

HOW2

These two nests differ in color but both are fine to eat. Hen of the Woods costs about $30.00 a pound in the store, if you can find it.

I put just a dash of sherry in the pan to deglaze it and wiped up the juices with the slices of bread to go on the bottom.  If you look at the bread carefully, you may note little pale spheres.  This is a legacy from our dear departed Rocky (see previous post from 9/18/12).

Slice the tough stalks and saute them in butter for a sandwich

Slice the tough stalks and saute them in butter for a sandwich

The sauteed stems make a terrific sandwich.

The sauteed stems make a terrific sandwich.

When he died I had just purchased two pounds of millet from the health food store for him.  I have been throwing a cup into my bread dough when I bake a batch of bread and we find we like it.  It adds a nutty crunch and livens it up.  Rocky was right to love millet.

Spread the almost completely cooked fronds out on cookie sheets, freeze them and pack in plastic bags.  When you need them you can just scoop out a handful.

Spread the almost completely cooked fronds out on cookie sheets, freeze them and pack in plastic bags. When you need them you can just scoop out a handful.

I used the rest of the reserved Hen of the Woods for wild mushroom risotto, making a whole recipe (way too much for us).  I added an egg to the leftovers and made it into patties for a quick “starch unit” to have on hand when we’re in a hurry.  For more info on this, see my post on 4/9/12.

Hen of the Woods Risotto.

Hen of the Woods Risotto.

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Jammin’ [A Frenzied Two Days Making Jam]

The finsihed product, quarts and quarts of jam

The finished product, quarts and quarts of jam

We eat a lot of jam at our house.  I’ve already made Strawberry Sweet Woodruff, Strawberry Rhubarb, Strawberry Pineapple, Blueberry Rhubarb and Tomato Ginger, but the raspberries are ready at my favorite Pick-Your-Own farm and we set off to fill our baskets.  I have tried growing raspberries but find them unruly to deal with, so we pick ours at this farm where there is no spraying.

The beautiful color of boiling rasperries.

The beautiful color of boiling rasperries.

Raspberry Jam is the easiest, no hulling of berries and no need to wash them, as I know who picked them.  Just crush, measure, add sugar and a little lemon juice and that’s it.  I don’t add as much sugar as many recipes ask for as we don’t like our jam too sweet but this means I need to cook it down a little more.  [See my instructions on how to tell it’s done in the post Ponderosa Lemon Marmalade, March 19, 2012.]  After the jam is done, I ladle it into jars and process it in my canning kettle for 10 minutes, just to ensure the seal.  This step isn’t really necessary but I do it to be on the safe side.

I also bought peaches and Concord grapes in the Farm Store.  I need the peaches for more Peach Chutney and I want to make some Peach Jam.  I often make Ginger Peach, but just having made Ginger Tomato, I make regular Peach Jam with a spice ball of cinnamon sticks and cloves to add flavor.  I also grate in an apple as peaches don’t have much pectin and I don’t like to use the artificial commercially available pectin.

Peach Jam cooking down

Peach Jam cooking down

Grape jelly in the making.

Grape jelly in the making.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the grapes, I’ve adapted a recipe from my Mother-in-law’s old 1954 Joy of Cooking which I inherited upon her death.  It’s also spiced with cinnamon and cloves but it cuts the cloying sweetness of the grapes with vinegar and is a jelly, so quite a different flavor from the Peach Jam.  To make the jelly, remove the grapes from their stems and cook them down with a little water, then drain them through layers of cheesecloth or a jelly bag.  Resist the temptation to squeeze out every drop of juice, or the jelly will be cloudy.  I let it drain overnight, then measure the juice and add the other ingredients.  Happiness is a full jam cupboard!

Jam enough for the whole year.

Jam enough for the whole year.

Boiling raspberries, sugar and lemon juice

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What’s For Dinner?

I wanted to try a recipe in Mark Bittman’s “Eat” section of last Sunday’s New York Times magazine.  He highlighted recipes using corn cut from the cob.  I already make the first cold corn salad recipe with cherry tomatoes, thanks to my friend Patricia, who introduced me to the concept a couple of years ago, but Mark had one with avocado and feta that intrigued me.  He advocates raw corn but I like it better blanched for two minutes.  I blanched the corn, cut it from the cob and added chopped avocado, feta and basil (after all I have sooo much), lemon juice (he asks for lime but I had none), olive oil, salt and pepper.  It was sensational!  I rounded out the meal with grilled sausages with sweet red peppers and onions and poached baby yellow crookneck squash.  The squashlings are cooked in a heavy skillet skimmed with olive oil.  Add minced garlic and cook the halved squash (if they’re tiny) at low heat until they brown.  They release their juices as they cook.  At the end add some lemon juice and basil leaves.

Grilled Sausage and Peppers, Poached Crookneck Squash and Mark Bittman's Corn, Avocado and Feta Salad

Grilled Sausage and Peppers, Poached Crookneck Squash and Mark Bittman’s Corn, Avocado and Feta Salad

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Again with the Inner Squirrel: Baba Ghanoush, Pesto, Bolognese Sauce and Ketchup

Eleven Pints of Ketchup

Eleven Pints of Ketchup

I’ve been busy, Baba Ganoush, Ketchup, Pesto and Bolognese Sauce.  Baba Ghanoush is a Middle Eastern dish I first had when I visited my friend Terrie in Oregon.  Sad to say, I didn’t get her recipe and now she’s gone, but there are many good ones on-line so I have forged ahead.  The eggplants are going gangbusters this year, thanks to the row covers, and they are the base ingredient for this dish.  It also requires tahini (sesame paste), garlic, olive oil, spices and lemon juice.  When we were in Egypt, they served it with chopped vegetables on the side and you mixed them in and ate it like a salad that’s mostly thick dressing.  I like to spread it on a cracker or pita toast and top it with chopped vegetables, as a canape.  First I roasted the eggplants until they collapsed, then scooped the insides into the food processor and added the other ingredients.  I froze the resulting paste in small plastic containers, so I would have some on hand for parties.

Japanese Eggplants, Don't You Love the Color?

Japanese Eggplants, Don’t You Love the Color?

While I had the food processor out, I harvested some of my bumper crop of basil and made Pesto.  Because I am freezing it, I left out the Parmesan cheese as I believe the consistency changes when it’s frozen. This I froze in small cupcake papers which I supported in an egg tray while they froze and then put the lot into a plastic bag for storage, so easy just to take one out for rice, potatoes or pasta this winter.

Once these are frozen they can be popped out and stored in a plastic bag.

Once these are frozen they can be popped out and stored in a plastic bag.

Bolognese Sauce is my “go to” meal and I make a lot, cooking it up by the vat and freezing it in pint containers, enough for the two of us.  I use my variation of the recipe Marcella Hazan gives in “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” (a Bible!).  It takes a long time to cook as the flavors develop at a slow burble.  This is so worth the effort for the time it saves me when I have a wonderful meal at my fingertips.

This is now ready, having reduced by half on a low simmer

This is now ready, having reduced by half on a low simmer

The other item on my agenda was Ketchup.  Mine is really Chili Sauce, I think, but we call it Ketchup.  For this I get out my Grandmother’s food grinder (Patent 1897) as the processor doesn’t give me the uniformly fine size I like for the peppers and onions, that make it so delightfully chunky.  I can this in pint jars and got 11 pints, enough for a year, maybe more.  I always feel relieved when I finish the Ketchup and the Bolognese.  It would be very hard to get through the winter without them.

I never met my Grandmoter but I thank her every time I use this grinder

I never met my grandmother but I thank her every time I use this grinder

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Tapping my Inner Squirrel (Again)

Cooling off and ready for the freezer

Cooling off and ready for the freezer

A "vat" of Minnestrone

A “vat” of Minnestrone

This time it’s soups for the winter.  I was faced with an abundance of crookneck yellow squash and tomatoes so I decided to make a sort of minnestrone, using my freshly harvested onions and garlic and adding some cannelloni beans and Italian sausage for protein.  While I was making soup, I also made some split pea soup (there is a good recipe for basic pea soup on the back of the bag of dried peas).  The only tedious part of the minnestrone is peeling the tomatoes, but two minutes in boiling water splits the skins and they slip off quite easily after the tomatoes are cooled off in cold water.  Both soups begin with olive oil and sliced onions which are sautéed slowly until they turn golden.  Add minced garlic next and saute that for about a minute, then add the protein if you want to use it.

Split pea with diced kielbasa

Split pea with diced kielbasa

Most split pea recipes call for ham bones but I hardly ever have one around so I added diced kielbasa, as I had one still in the freezer from last winter.  Cook the sausage until it loses its pink color.  Now the vegetables:  for the pea soup add diced carrots and celery and saute until they soften.  For the minnestrone, add the cut up squash and peeled tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes start to shed their juices.  At this point herbs and spices are added, thyme and basil for the minnestrone; thyme and bay leaf for the split pea.  I add hot red pepper flakes to both but they aren’t necessary if you don’t like a little “heat.” After the added vegetables have cooked, liquid is added, chicken broth and a cup of vermouth for the split pea and white wine for the minnestrone.  Finally add the dried peas to the split pea (no need to pre-soak) and the beans to the minnestrone (pasta can be added instead).  I used dried beans which I preboiled for a minute and let stand while I finished the other steps of the recipe but canned are fine.  Just be sure to rinse off the soaking water or the can liquid to lessen the effects of the beans.  Simmer until the dried peas are soft (about 45 minutes) and the tomatoes in the minnestrone break down.  Check to see if more salt is needed as there is usually quite a lot in sausage.  I got sixteen quarts of soup.  This will taste so good for lunch as we’re sitting in front of the wood stove on a howling winter day.  [Sorry about combining the instructions, hope it isn’t confusing]

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