Saturday, November 29, 2008

Rich and Creamy Soup Without the Cream

I am not sure what to call this soup. I wanted a rich soup with potato and then a friend and I were talking about the Olive Garden "Zuppa Toscana" so I knew I had to make something but without all that cream and this was really good, one of the best soups I think I have ever made.

1 large onion, halved and sliced
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
4 oz Italian Sausage cut into bite size pieces
2 oz bacon cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon red pepper flacks (do not use if using spicy italian sausage)
1 clove garlic, minced
4 cups stock or water
4 medium to large Potatoes
1 14oz can white kidney beans
1 cup chopped kale
1 cup milk
salt and pepper

In a large pot over medium heat slowly caramelize the onions in the olive oil about 20 minutes.

While the onion is browning peel 2 potatoes and cut in to cubes and place in pot with cold salted water and cook until tender.

Add the sausage chunks and bacon pieces, garlic and the pepper flacks to the onions and cook until the bacon is browned.

Blend the potatoes with the potato waster in a blender until smooth also blend 1/2 of the can of the white kidney beans until smooth, you may need to use a little of the potato water.

Add the stock to the pot of onions with the blended potatoes and beans. the rest of the potatoes, cubed, and the kale. when the potatoes are tender add the remaining beans, milk and season to taste.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Steel Cut Oats

I was reading something recently about Oats. I can't place where I was reading and if I find it I will come back and update this post. Nonetheless, I was reading about Steel Cut Oats and it sounded great and I did have some in the freezer so I pulled them out and made some.

Oatmeal is a regular breakfast food at our house. It warms you up and sticks to you bones if nothing else. After reading about how much better these oats are for you and after making them in my normal Oatmeal Cookie fashion they were great, much better then those rolled kind I grew up with.

3 cups water

1 cup Steel Cut Oats

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1 teaspoon Cinnamon

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon ginger powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt

place the water in a pot over medium heat. Once the water is boiling add the remaining ingredient and cook for 10 to 20 minutes depending on how chewy you like it. Personally I like it less chewy so I cooked it for 20 minutes.

oh yes and the honey in the photo was for my tea. Earl Gray with milk and honey.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Banana Cream Pie

I have never been a banana lover. As a child I would eat almost anything except bananas and PB&Js. When I was older I found that if the banana was still firm and green on the seams they were not too bad. Last year; however, I discovered these little bananas only about 4 inches long and wow are they good, they are so sweet. I could almost say that they have turned me into a banana lover.

I heard an interview on NPR last year with a man that was a banana expert and he said that the bananas that we know in the US are susceptible to a banana killing fungus and that bananas in the US will change. He also side that the bananas that we import are hardy but lack greatly on flavor. He also said that there are 100 different verities of bananas and most people have no idea what they are missing. When I saw these new bananas in the store I had to try and I have to say I am happy that I did.

I am not sure what these little bananas are called. A Goolge search gave me several names that they might be such as Se orita and banana-ouro and from the photos they look about right. I had a few that were a little riper then I like and because I was feeling ambitious I thought I would try may hand at Banana Cream the way I had never had banana cream pie before.

I took "Moms" quick pie crust recipe...

1 1/2 c flour
2 t sugar
1 t salt
1/2 c vegetable oil
2 T milk
Combine ingredients to form a soft pastry dough. It will be really soft, not like a rolled out crust. Press evenly into the bottom and sides of a 9" pie pan with your fingers

I then blind baked the crust at 400F for?... until it was brown. I know it is not pretty but it works.

I then sliced the bananas and toss with a little lemon juice to keep them from turning brown then line the baked crust with the tiny sweet bananas.

I made half of the pastry cream recipe my Husband likes. all the following was halved and it worked out fine.

3 Cups Milk
Seeds scraped from one vanilla bean - or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. If you are using vanilla extract it is added when the cream is finished cooking.
8 egg yolks
3/4 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

In a 3 quart saucepan combine the milk and vanilla bean seeds. Heat just below the boiling point (scalding).Using an electric mixer (with whisk attachment if available) beat the egg yolks and sugar in a large mixing bowl until they lighten in color. Stir in the cornstarch.

Pour about 1/3 of the hot milk into the egg mixture (this is called tempering), whisking continuously to incorporate. Whisk the tempered egg mixture back into the remaining hot milk, and place the saucepan back on the heat. Cook on medium high heat, stirring constantly with the whisk, until the mixture comes to the boil. Reduce heat and boil for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and gently whisk in the butter.
Strain the pastry cream into a bowl and pure over the banana lined crust.

With the 4 egg whites I has I made meringue by whipping the whites with 1/2 cup sugar until then were stiff and shinny and then covered the pie, sealing the edges, with the meringue and place under a low broiler until the peeks were a little browned. Chill.

I really liked the pie but the kids loved it so much that they are still talking about it. This is a must make again. hummmm maybe for Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

White Fish in Orange Butter Sauce.

This is my take on a Recipe that is in Martha Stewart's cookbook Everyday Food called Sole with Lemon-Butter Sauce. I like this cookbook, as I do the PBS show, because they are straight forward recipes without 50 ingredients.

This kids love fish in general, but this one was a big hit with the orange flavored sauce. Meat that tastes like orange sauce, what not to like.

1/4 cup white wine

juice of 1 orange

4 tilapia fillets

Salt and pepper

8 thin orange slices

2 tablespoons butter

Place the wine in a large non reactive pan with a lid. Roll the fish and hold together with a toothpick season with salt and pepper. Place the fish into the pan with 2 slices of orange on each fillets.

Bring the Wine to a boil; reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and gently simmer until the fish is cooked, about 5 minutes. Carefully transfer the fish to a platter and remove the toothpicks and cover to keep warm.

Reduce the liquid by about half (1 to 2 minutes). Remove from heat and add the orange juice and butter to the sauce and stir until butter is melted and mixed into the sauce. spoon sauce over fish and garnish with fresh dill.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Lentils and Rice

I enjoy lentils but I always eat them as soup and only the brown ones. One day the the market I saw beautiful orange and yellow lentils so I had to get them. After several weeks of good intentions and nothing else I still had not tried the colorful lagumes. Finally I looked up a recipe for a lentil and rice dish, several recipes as a mater of fact, and I could not find a one that I had every ingredient for so I came up with a combination that I hoped would work. The dish was not bad but it still needed a little something, some life. I will try again and I hope that I figure out what the something is that will give this dish some real life.

1 med onion, diced
olive oil
1 cup lentils
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 clove garlic, minced
salt & pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 cup frozen spinach

In a sauce pan cook lentils as directed by the package (usually about 2 to 1 water to lentils and simmer for about 30 minutes, I like mine firm).

Meanwhile saute pan saute the onions in some olive oil over medium heat until the onions become translucent. add in the spices and let them cook in the hot oil and onions for about 1 minute then add the garlic. Add the rice, spinach and cook lentils to the onion and spices and cook together for another 5 minutes adding water if needed.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Randy the Milkman

Earlier this year I read a post by on Kim's blog, The Farmer's Marketer about Calder Dairy entitled Stan the Milkman and how Stan delivered fresh milk to her home in glass jars. Thinking there is no way this could possible be cost effective, and how good is fresh milk anyway, I did not call right away. After all, milk is milk! How wrong I was! the milk price is comparable to organic milk prices, even a little less, and the charge to deliver to my area is only $2.00. Ok, I was sold on the price. The milk is what keeps me coming back. their milk is so rich and creamy, and I am talking about the fat free stuff. There has been times since we started the service where we have had to buy grocery store milk and it is horrible, I could never go back to everyday plastic or cardboard container milk again, NEVER! you can't make me! All in all I have fallen in love with fresh milk again and Calder Dairy.

Oh, yes and because the sign is in the photo...Obama for President.