Friday, August 19, 2016

World Photo Day


     Today is International World Photo Day so what does one post on that day when one takes so many pictures it is impossible to choose?  And when there are so many millions of wonderful photographs uploaded to the internet every second of every day?  Well, food of course.  I never tire of photographing this subject.  It cooperates so well.  It doesn't move or wiggle or get impatient.  It doesn't say it doesn't want its picture taken or anything like that.  It simply sits there and looks yummy with its beautiful colors and flavors.  Yes, you can almost taste it when you look at it.

     The top photo is my salad I was devouring this week.  The farmer's market had gotten in a new batch of spring mix greens.  I added some melon balls and garlic infused olive oil.  Also I drizzled on some raspberry infused balsamic vinegar.  Don't think they would go together?  I beg to differ.  I nearly scarfed down the whole thing before I took the picture.  I get these lovelies at the Ashburn Farmers Market from Taste of Old Country.  Oh, they ship too.  I am having a lot of fun figuring out ways to use these oils and vinegars.

     The picture below is a sneak peak into the future.  A future recipe post or cookbook entry that is.  It is French Onion Soup topped with a waffle and melted cheese.  We are not ready for the fall food yet, but I can't help myself.  I love soup and I had a craving for French onion, so I whipped up this extremely rich one with a beef bone broth base.  Not just any bone broth, but bone broth pressure cooked for 8 hours.  Thanks to the fast forward cooking of the pressure cooker that is as good as a 24 hour simmer in only an 8 hour time frame.  The result?  A superbly flavored soup base for your onion soup.  Now as far as the waffle goes?  Don't judge me.  I did not have any French bread, and it fit nicely in the bowl.  It worked great.  Toast it first to get nice and crusty then pop it on top of the soup.  Add some cheese of choice, white cheddar here, and then broil in a broil safe bowl till bubbling.  Stay tuned for this one.  

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Three Flour Pumpkin Waffles - Recipe

     Traditionally we eat waffles for dinner at my house.  It is what I make when I want something fast and easy.  They are fun to make too as the aromas are wonderful while they bake in the waffle iron and are stacked on a serving plate.  There is something comforting about that little beep of our electric waffle iron, signally it is time to take out the waffle.  When I hear it, I know that something good is on the way.     
     Today I present my new favorite waffles.  I love a waffle that is rich, satisfying and almost completely whole grain!  Only 1/4 cup white flour is all I need to help hold these babies together.  The other two cups of flour are rustic stone ground rye flour and brown rice flour.  Pumpkin is such a delicious way to add healthy vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, and fiber to the diet.  When I think of waffles, I crave these.

Three Flour Pumpkin Waffles with butter, maple syrup, and sour cream.

Three Flour Pumpkin Waffles

(Makes 9 4x4 inch Waffle Squares)

Batter for Three Flour Pumpkin Waffles.
1 c. Brown Rice Flour
1 c. Stone Ground Rye Flour
1/4 c. White Flour
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
3 tsp. Baking Powder
1 (15-oz.) can Cooked Pumpkin
3/4 c. Goat Yogurt or Cow Yogurt
1 1/4 c. Water
2 Eggs
2 T. Real Maple Syrup or Sugar
1/2 c. Olive Oil
Palm oil for greasing waffle iron

Real Maple Syrup
Sour Cream

     In a large bowl whisk together the rice flour, rye flour, white flour, salt, and baking powder.  In another large bowl whisk together the pumpkin, yogurt, water, eggs, maple syrup, and olive oil.  If you don't have real maple syrup you can substitute sugar.  Before heating the waffle iron, lightly grease it with palm oil.  While you preheat the waffle iron, stir the wet ingredients into the dry just until the dry are incorporated.   Begin making the waffles.  You may need to adjust the temperature to find the sweet spot.  They will be nice and brown when fully cooked and come out of the iron easily when approached from the edge.  The outside will be slightly crusty and the inside soft and fluffy.  Serve with butter, maple syrup, sour cream, or your favorite topping.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Lemon Basil Shrimp Salad - Recipe

      This is such a great dish for summer.  Shrimp cooks up in a flash and is sooo good!  This dish is special with the lemon basil.  It is basil that actually has a lot of lemon flavor!  Leaving the leaves whole allow for a wonderful surprise when you bite into one.  If you don't have lemon basil, use regular basil and a little extra lemon juice to taste.  The celery and onions give it a fresh crunch while the tomato adds color and summer flavor!

Lemon Basil Shrimp Salad

(Serves 4)
(Yields 2 cups of salad)

1 lb. Shrimp, uncooked and thawed, deveined, tail removed, and peeled (about 26 shrimp)
2 T. White Balsamic Vinegar
1 T. Dijon Mustard
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1/4 c. Olive Oil
15 Lemon Basil Leaves whole
1/2 c. Celery diced
2 T. Dill chopped
3 Green Onions chopped
1/3 c. Onion diced finely (1/2 small onion)
1 Tomato sliced
Zest of 1 Lemon
Pinch Salt
Pinch Pepper

Bring water to a boil in a sauce pan.  Add the shrimp and stir.  Simmer for 2 minutes until internal temperature is 130 degrees Fahrenheit.  They should turn pink and opaque when done.  Rest for 2 minutes out of water in a bowl.  Place uncovered in refrigerator to cool.  Mix the vinegar, mustard, and lemon together in a bowl.  Whisk in the olive oil by adding in a slow stream.  Mix the remaining ingredients into the dressing, then add to the cooled shrimp.  Toss together gently.  Cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for one hour before serving.

Lemon Basil Shrimp served in an ice cream dish.

Lemon Basil Shrimp Salad served in a ramekin.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Cabbage with Indian Spices - Recipe

     Here is the side kick for my Horseradish Beet Relish.  I made this yesterday to use up the extra cabbage I still had from the last farmer's market run.  So I thought, "How do I jazz up this cabbage?"  With spices of course!  Indian spices to be exact.  And healthy ones to boot.  For me, my must haves include turmeric and ginger.  I added garlic and cayenne to the mix too, to warm it up and round out the flavor.  I used garlic powder this time, only because I was in a hurry.  Feel free to use fresh minced garlic cloves to taste.  I must admit that sometimes it is nice to use that garlic powder though.  You get done in a flash.

Cabbage with Indian Spices

(Serves 6)

1 T. Palm Oil to coat bottom of pan
1 medium Head Green Cabbage chopped in 1-2 inch thick slices
1 tsp. Turmeric
3/4 tsp. Ginger
1 tsp. Celtic Sea Salt
1/2 tsp. Garlic
1/8 tsp. Cayenne Pepper

   Heat the palm oil in a Dutch Oven on medium heat.  Add the cabbage and begin to cook it down.  Don't stir constantly though.  Let it sit a bit to allow for a little browning.  When it begins to brown lightly, add the spices then sauté for a few minutes to distribute them evenly and release their aromas.  When the cabbage is soft, remove the pot from the heat and serve with a dollop of Horseradish Beet Relish on the side of each serving.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Horseradish Beet Relish - Recipe

     This is a spicy horseradish beet relish.  At the end of this week, I had a bunch of small young beets from the farmer's market still in my refrigerator and also a long horseradish root.  Hmmm.  I thought wouldn't it be nice to make a nice fresh relish with these two.  It could be used for all sorts of things.  I could add it to hot dogs, stews, yogurt or sour cream, or even a cabbage dish which I was going to tackle next (because I also had an extra cabbage left in the refrigerator from the market as well).  My family loves horseradish.  They can't get enough of it, so here it comes.  It made a lot, so I stored it in the refrigerator in a mason jar.

Horseradish Beet Relish
(Makes 2 3/4 cups)

8 inches Fresh Horseradish Root (1 cup chopped fine with a food processor)
1/4 c. + 2 T. Apple Cider Vinegar
1 bunch of small Beets (1 1/2 cups chopped fine with a food processor)
1 Shallot Bulb (1/4 cup chopped fine with a food processor)
1 tsp. Salt

     Before you begin working with the horseradish, open a window or turn on a fan for ventilation.  Peel the horseradish root and chop into chunks.  Place in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Place in a mixing bowl and add the vinegar.  Carefully stir.  The horseradish is strong, so you may need to look away while stirring to avoid the pungency.  Set aside.  Cut the ends off of the beets and scrub the skin clean with a vegetable brush.  Roughly chop them, leaving the skin on and process to the same texture as the horseradish.  Add the beets to the mixing bowl.  Peel and process the shallot in the food processor and add to the bowl along with the salt.  Carefully stir again and taste.  Adjust the vinegar and salt to taste.  Store in a jar in the refrigerator.  The horseradish will become less strong as it sits.

Horseradish processed to a fine dice.

Going in the mason jar.

Close up of Horseradish Beet Relish.

Paired with a Cabbage With Indian Spices dish I made up after making the Horseradish Beet Relish.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Summer Garden Gelatin Salad - Recipe

     This is a version of Perfection Salad that originated in 1905 in a recipe contest.  Many versions of garden gelatin salads exist and were especially popular in the sixties.  This salad is my take.  I prefer a less sugary salad with a more tart fruit and citrus flavored gelatin to hold the fresh vegetables.  The apple cider vinegar provides just the right tartness and brings forth a delicious apple flavor.  I used the sweet cabbage from Shenendoah Seasonal at our Loudoun Farmer's Market in Virginia for the salad below.  It is the perfect cabbage for this recipe.  The heads are firm and heavy in the hand, which means they are super fresh.  You don't need a fancy jello mold to make this recipe.  If you have one that is fine, but I have used a simple glass bread pan.  You can also pull out a Bundt pan too.  To unveil the artistry of unmolding a gelatin mold, in other words to avoid frustration, I provide detailed unmolding instructions to maximize your success.  As with childbirth, it is all worth it once the baby arrives.  I love eating this salad.  With each bite you get a crunch of fresh green veggies and a bit of salty savory from the olives all surrounded by a cider lemon gelatin.

Using a bread pan as a mold.
Using a Bundt pan as a mold.

Summer Garden Gelatin Salad
(Serves 8)

2 Packages Gelatin
1/4 c. Sugar
1 tsp. Salt
1 1/2 c. Boiling Water
1 1/2 c. Cold Water
1/2 c. Apple Cider Vinegar
2 T. Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
2 c. Green Cabbage finely shredded
1 c. Celery chopped
1/4 c. Green Pepper chopped
1/2 c. Pimento Stuffed Green Olives sliced

     Stir together the gelatin, sugar, and salt in a glass mixing bowl.  Add the boiling water and stir until dissolved.  Stir in the cold water, vinegar, and lemon juice.  Place uncovered in the refrigerator until it develops a consistency of sloshy egg whites.  We want it to be partially set, so when the vegetables are added they don't all fall to the bottom of the mold.  You will need to watch the timing carefully.  After 45 minutes, start checking by giving it a stir, then check every 20 minutes.  Timing will depend upon the temperature of your refrigerator.  In the meantime, prepare the cabbage, celery, green pepper, and olives.  Shred, chop, and slice as directed in the ingredient list.  It is ok if some pimentos fall out of the olives.  I use a simple box grater for shredding the cabbage using the large slit.  Gently toss the vegetables in a mixing bowl and set aside.  Once the gelatin mixture is partially set, stir in the vegetables and pour into a lightly greased 1.5 qt gelatin mold or lightly greased 4.5 x 8.5 inch glass bread pan.  You may also use a Bundt pan.  Place in the refrigerator uncovered until set.  Once set, I cover it in plastic wrap and keep it in the refrigerator until I am ready to unmold.  I let mine sit overnight.  Before turning out the mold, moisten the serving plate and the top of the gelatin with a small amount of water.  This will enable you to slide the salad into place should it not come out centered on the plate.  Before turning out the mold, soak the pan in some warm water.  For a thin metal mold, you may need just a few seconds.  For a glass bread pan, it will take longer.  Pull out of the water and try it every few seconds or so until it slides out.  If you overshot the timing and the gelatin salad has started to melt a little, don't panic.  Just use a paper towel to soak up the excess liquid on the plate, and it is ready for presentation!  Store in the refrigerator covered in plastic wrap.

Sweet Cabbage.

I use the large slit on the box grater to shred the cabbage.
Mixing the veggies.

In my Bundt pan.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Rye Crackers - Recipe

     Rye crackers are a thing with me right now.  Rye is a major grain seen in Nordic baking, plus  I love Scandinavian flavors and flatbreads.  I wanted a Nordic crispbread/vehicle on which to dollop my herring spread and cheeses.  So instead of just buying some bland tasting old crackers from the store, I embarked upon the journey of making my own rye cracker/crispbread.  To create one with texture and character, I am overjoyed to report that I found traditional stone ground rye flour by Hodgson Mill.  This is a coarser texture than I have ever used before for rye.  At first glance I could tell it was ground more coarsely, but after seeing it in the dough I was very pleased to see just how much coarser it was compared to a fine ground flour.  I think it would be awesome in breads too, but that is for another post.  I seasoned these crackers with some caraway seeds roughed up in a mortar and pestle, but feel free to experiment with other kinds.

Rye Crackers

(50 crackers)

1 c. Course Stone Ground Rye Flour
1 c. Whole Wheat Flour
1 T. Caraway Seeds (lightly crushed)
1 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
2 T. Butter
1/2 c. plus 2 T. Water

     Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Cut small pieces of butter into the bowl and then use your fingers to work into the flour.  There should be small gravel sized pieces when finished.  Add the water, and mix with your hands to form a ball of dough.  It should be sticky enough to easily hold together.  Add a tiny bit more water if necessary.  Wrap in plastic wrap and let it rest for ten minutes.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place parchment onto two cookie sheets.  Separate dough into four balls, keeping the unused dough in plastic wrap.  With a hand roller, roll out two balls of dough to 1/16th of an inch onto floured parchment for each sheet, adding flour as needed to the top of the dough.  I use wheat flour for sprinkling.  To start out the rolling, I hold onto one side and roll away from my hand.  With a pizza roller or bench knife, score the dough into 2-inch crackers.  Poke randomly with a fork and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.  Swap the location of the pans halfway through the baking time.  The edges should be crisp when done.  Slide off the pans or lift with a spatula onto a rack to cool completely.  Break into rough pieces.  If  some of the crackers are not as crisp as you would like, place them back onto a cookie sheet into a 200 degree Fahrenheit oven at five minute intervals until crisp.

Rolling out cracker dough.