Friday, May 28, 2010

Rhubarb Bread

1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup oil
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups wholewheat flour
1 cup unbleached white flour
2 cups diced rhubarb
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a loaf pan.  Combine in a bowl the brown sugar and oil, stir well until smooth.  Add the egg, buttermilk, salt, baking soda, vanilla and flour.  Blend until moist.  Fold in the diced rhubarb and chopped nuts.  Turn batter into prepared loaf pan.  Bake at 325 degrees for approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Rhubarb Cake

This recipe has been in my family for as long as I can remember.  My grandmother used to make this cake every year during rhubarb season.

1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk
2 cup flour
2 cup rhubarb, diced
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all ingredients and pour into a 13 x 9 greased and floured cake pan. 

Then mix together
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
and sprinkle on top of batter.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 - 35 minutes.

Serve with fresh whipped cream.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

Strawberry Ice Cream
2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
2 cups whipping cream
1 cup half and half
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place strawberries in blender and process at low speed until chopped.  Pour into bowl and add remaining ingredients.  Stir until sugar is dissolved.  Freeze in ice cream maker according to directions.  Place in freezer to harden and enjoy.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Chickpea Salad with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Chickpea Salad with Sun-Dried Tomatoes
adapted from Bon Appetit July 2002
Makes 6 servings

1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon cumin seeds

2 - 15 1/2 ounce cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained, rinsed
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, chopped (about 1 1/3 cups)
1 15 ounce can artichoke hearts, drained, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup thinly sliced drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

Combine oil and cumin seeds in heavy small saucepan.  Cook over medium heat 5 minutes to blend flavors, stirring occasionally.  Cool completely.

Combine remaining ingredients in large bowl.  Add cumin oil and toss to blend.  Season salad to taste with salt and pepper.  (Can be made 1 day ahead.  Cover and refrigerate.  Bring to room temperature before serving.)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Foraging For Asparagus

I had a chance to go foraging for asparagus with a friend yesterday,  she has been foraging for years so I jumped at the chance to learn from her experience and took the afternoon off work.  She taught me where to look for asparagus.  These two stalks were growing in a ditch along the road, she said to look for clumps of last year's dry stalks.

Then to search around the grass, pushing it aside.  Sometimes you can be looking right at a asparagus spear and not even see it since it blends in so well, you have to train your eye to look for a shade difference or she said to watch as the grass blows in the wind, the asparagus does not move.  She also said to walk around the old stalk and look at it from all different angles.  I found myself reaching right over the top of a spear to pick another one, never seeing the first until she pointed it out.  The spear in the photo below is right behind the dried flower.

We found clumps of asparagus along railroad tracks, in ditches and on the side of a hill right in town, which is  beside a busy road, growing among the sumac.

My friend said asparagus will continue to grow in those same spots sending up more shoots every few days or so.  She said it can be picked until the middle of June and then needs to be left alone so the plant can continue to grow and thrive.  The female plants will flower and grow berries that the birds will eat and then deposit seeds to grow in other areas. I came home with a fair amount of asparagus and a head full of knowledge about where to look and how to spot asparagus.  We enjoyed roasted asparagus for dinner, along with leftover quiche.  I drizzled olive over the asparagus in a pan and roasted it at 400 degrees, sprinkled with salt as it came out, mmm.  My favorite way to eat asparagus though, is fresh and raw, tastes like fresh garden peas.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Whole Wheat Sesame Crackers

Whole Wheat Sesame Crackers 
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup yogurt
Scant 2/3 cup ice water
kosher salt (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Toast sesame seeds in small pan over med-high heat, watching and shaking pan so they do not burn.  Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder.  Using a pastry cutter, cut in butter and yogurt.  Add toasted seeds to the batter.  Mix in the ice water, kneading lightly. 

Roll dough to 1/8 inch thick; any thicker will make the crackers tough rather than crisp.  Cut with pizza cutter to the size you want.  Prick all over with a fork.  Sprinkle with kosher salt if using.   Bake on a lightly greased cookie sheet for 10 minutes, or until lightly brown.  Cool on a rack.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Quiche Lorraine and Pie Crust Recipe

Serves 6
1 cup of ham or 10 strips bacon, crisply cooked, drained then crumbled
1 1/4 cup diced Swiss or gruyere cheese, cubed
4 eggs
1 1/4 cup half and half (light cream)
1/2 cup milk
freshly grated nutmeg
1 pie crust (recipe below)

Line a quiche or deep pie pan with pie crust (see below).  Poke a few holes in the crust with a fork to prevent bubbles.  Bake unfilled 15 minutes at 425 degrees.  The pastry shell can be baked in the early morning and the quiche filling can be added in the evening. 

Scatter bacon or ham in the pastry shell and sprinkle with cheese.  Beat eggs, cream and milk until blended; pour into pastry shell.  Sprinkle with nutmeg.

Bake in 350 degree oven for about 1 hour or until quiche is slightly puffed and appears set when gently shaken.  Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting wedges.

Pie Crust
Makes 2 crusts
(use just one crust for the quiche, other ball of dough may be frozen and used later)
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold butter
1/4 cup ice cold water

Mix flour and salt together.  Cut butter into flour mixture using a pastry cutter until mixture is pea size crumbs.  Then add water and mix with hands just until it forms a ball, do not overwork.  Add more water by the tablespoon is dough is too dry to form a ball, however the ball should be on the dry side and not be too moist or sticky.

Flour working surface, divide dough into two balls, roll out dough into a circle to fit your pan.  Flour rolling pin and starting on one side roll dough onto pin (as in photo below) and unroll into ungreased pie pan.  Flute edges with thumb on one hand and thumb and index finger on the next, pinching the dough to make points.  Bake according to quiche or pie recipe.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Basic Pizza Dough

Basic Pizza Dough

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water
1 teaspoon honey
1 Tablespoon olive oil

Add yeast and honey to the warm water, stir to dissolve and set aside.  Mix the flour and salt.  After the yeast mixture bubbles, stir it into the flour mixture and add the olive oil.  Mix and knead the dough until smooth.  Cover and let rise for 20 minutes in a warm place.

Heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  After the dough nearly doubles, roll it out on a floured surface and place in greased pizza pan or on heated pizza stone, dusted with cornmeal.

Top with ingredients.  Start with Parmesan cheese, then add tomatoes.  I used fire-roasted whole tomatoes; purchased because I already used up all my canned whole tomatoes.  Just scoop up a tomato and give it a gentle squeeze to release some of the liquid, then place the tomato pieces on the crust.  Add any ingredient you choose.  I used sliced mushrooms, goat cheese and arugula.

Bake at 425 degrees until cheese is melted and crust is crisp, approximately 15 minutes.  Enjoy!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fish Tacos

Fish Tacos
Serves 4 to 6

1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground Chipotle powder
3 cloves garlic, minced

3 to 4 fish fillets

2 tomatoes, chopped
1 avacado, chopped
2 green onions, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
1/4 cup cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
dash of salt

1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon ground Chipotle powder
1 tablespoon cilantro
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

shredded purple cabbage
salt to taste

Mix marinade ingredients and pour over fish and marinade for 30 minutes. 

Combine salsa ingredients and set aside.

Mix sauce, set aside.

After marinating, take fish out and sprinkle with salt.  Grill or sear, 2 to 3 minutes, flip and cook 2 to 3 minutes more until flaky, but still moist.

Assemble fish, salsa, sauce and cabbage on warm flour tortilla.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Spicy Garden Stew

Spicy Garden Stew

1 pound hamburger
salt to taste
1 teaspoon Chipotle Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 small zucchini, sliced
1 small yellow squash, sliced
1 quart whole tomatoes

Fry hamburger with a little salt.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Saute' onion and bell pepper until soft, add zucchini and yellow squash and saute until they begin to soften.  Add tomatoes, hamburger, chipotle seasoning and cumin and a little more salt.  Simmer for 20 minutes or so.  Serve with corn bread.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Vegetable Samosa

Vegetable Samosa

1 package wonton skins
4 or 5 potatoes
1/2 onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
1 green chili, diced
salt to taste
1 dried red chili pepper, crushed
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon garam marsala

Boil the potaotes.  Saute' onion and carrots in a small amount of oil until soft.  Add green chili, salt, red chili, coriander and garam marsala and mix well.  After potatoes are soft, drain and mash and add to onion and carrot mixture.

Heat enough oil in a wok to deep fry the samosas.  Put a small amount of samosa mixture on a wonton wrapper and wet the edges of the wrapper with water and bring all four corners up, pinching them along the edges and making the traditional samosa look.  Deep fry until golden and drain.  Cool and enjoy.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Murgh Dahi with Samosas

Murgh (chicken) Dahi (yogurt) is a recipe from northern India and very good served with Vegetable Samosas.

Murgh Dahi
Serves 4 - 6

3 1/2 to 4 pounds of chicken pieces, skinned
1 teaspoon salt
1 green chili, finely chopped
1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
3 to 4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted

Prick chicken pieces all over with a fork and place them in a large bowl.  In a small bowl, combine salt, chili, yogurt, coriander leaves, ginger, and garlic, mix well.  Pour over chicken, cover bowl and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.

To cook chicken, preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Pour half the melted butter into a roasting pan.  Put chicken into the pan and pour yogurt mixture over the top.  Place pan in the middle of the oven and roast for about 20 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and continue roasting, basting frequently with remaining butter and pan juices, for about 30 minutes or until chicken is done.

Remove chicken and place on a serving platter.  Pour sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Rain Water Harvesting

My husband set up our simple rain water collection system over the weekend working through the on and off showers we had.  We have already collected a fair amount of water.  We use this water for our potted plants and our garden.  Obviously it is not enough water to take care of the garden completely, but it does reduce the amount of tap water we use.  We may in the future add another collection system to the house or garage, using a more attractive barrel. 
My parents have a more sophisticated collection system.  They live in the country and have a large shop on their property so they are able to collect a lot of water, just from this weekends rain (less than 1/2 inch for them) they have half-way filled their tanks.  My father connected the two tanks so they fill add the same time and he hooked up a pump and pipe running to the garden so they can connect a sprinkler at the garden.  They should be able to water their garden using only rain water if we have normal amounts of rainfall.  Less than one-half of their shop is collecting water, so they have the potential to collect more rain if they need.
Both of our systems cost very little money.  The barrel we used was left by the previous homeowners and we spent 80 cents on the mesh to cover it, strapping it on with bungee cords we already had.  My father received his tanks free of charge.  They were used for weed spray by a local company and he washed the tanks out, neutralized them with bleach, then washed them again.  If we add a water collection system to the house or garage it will cost considerably more.  I have seen barrel systems cost between $100 to $150 dollars, that is why we haven't gone that route yet.

There are many benefits to using rain water rather than tap water, here are just a few.
  1. Rain water is at a more favorable temperature for plant growth than is cold well water.  
  2. It is not chlorinated or treated with chemical as most municipal water supplies are.
  3. Rainwater is a renewable resource.
  4. Once the system is set up it is free.
  5. Reduced water bill.
  6. It reduces the amount flowing into storm sewer drains, taxing the city's sewer system.
There is an excellent article on Rainwater Harvesting on The Global Development Research Center site.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Spinach Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Spinach Ricotta Stuffed Shells
Makes 6 - 8 servings

Marinara Sauce
1 quart whole tomatoes
1 pint tomato sauce
1/2 cup dry red wine, such as Chianti
2 carrots, finely diced
1 onion, chopped
1 cup sliced mushrooms
5 garlic cloves, minced
olive oil

Saute' onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat until translucent, add carrot and saute' until onions begin to brown around the edges.  Add mushrooms, garlic and a little more olive oil, if necessary.  Saute' until mushrooms begin to soften.  Add whole tomatoes, tomato sauce and wine, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Spinach Ricotta Filling
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1 cup cooked spinach, squeezed dry and chopped

In a medium bowl, mix filling ingredients.

Shells and Topping
1 12 oz. package Jumbo Shells
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded 

Boil shells in 5 quarts of water, salted with 1 tablespoon salt, until al dente.  Drain and rinse under cold water to stop cooking and make them easy to handle.

Stuff shells with cheese and spinach mixture and arrange in a 13 x 9 pan, overlapping slightly. Top with marinara, sauce (there may be some sauce left over, refrigerate or freeze and use at a later date) and 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 50 minutes, uncover and broil for a minute or two until slightly browned.  Let stand for 8 to 10 minutes before serving.