Thursday, August 09, 2007

Blueberry Ice Cream

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
@ 2 cups freshly frozen, chopped blueberries (use the processor or blender, but leave some berry chunks intact)

Whisk eggs until lemon-colored. In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together cream, milk, eggs, and sugar. Cook until sugar is dissolved and mixture thickens, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Stir in the chopped blueberries and place in ice cream maker. Fill sides of ice cream maker with a 3 in. of ice to 1/2 inch of rock salt ratio. Crank and crank until ice cream forms. Eat soft immediately or let ripen in the freezer for about four hours until flavors have blended and ice cream has hardened.

Oven-Roasted Green & Yellow Beans

John made these; I'd never had such a thing before, but they are now one of my favorite ways to eat green beans (don't worry for my health; I like them raw, too).

Here's what he did.

Toss green and yellow beans in some oil. Spread them in a rimmed baking sheet, and roast them until they look like this, occasionally sprinkling with salt.

They are SO good. Millie keeps asking for some, even at breakfast time.

*I've since frozen garden green beans with only the ends cut off to make these in winter. Success! You just need to thaw and drain them before you toss them in olive oil.

Watermelon Sorbet

My dad split a watermelon and deposited one half of it in Becky's refrigerator and the other half in mine. It was a peerless melon, perfectly pink, crisp, and juicy, and I ate every slice down to the pale nub. I don't remember the last time I enjoyed a watermelon so much. I couldn't improve on God's work, but I made some sorbet with a portion of it, and it hit the spot on this muggy day. Next time, if I have a melon that tastes as good as this one did, I'll add less sugar, but here's the recipe, adapted a bit from Martha. (I think it's from her, anyway; I copied it down about four years ago, and my memory's foggy.)

3/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
3 cups watermelon, seeds removed

Prepare an ice water bath and set aside. Bring water and sugar to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and trasfer to ice water bath. Puree watermelon in processor or blender and add to chilled liquid. Stir to combine. (I also added a tablespoon or two of lemon juice, to taste, at this point, as I found it too sweet.)

Place all mixtures in an 11x6x2 and 3/4" plastic container and place, covered, in the freezer for one hour. After one hour, break mixture up with a fork. Continue to freeze, stirring every 30 minutes, until sorbet has set and is completely frozen, @ four hours. Will keep up to one week (but who would want to hold off eating it that long?).

I increased all proportions and froze it in a shallow plastic container of unknown size (e.g. I don't feel like getting up to check it...). I put it in the freezer and didn't touch it until the next morning, at which point I blended it in the processor and froze for just a little bit more. The texture was perfectly smooth, and the taste...? Well, it was melony and cold and made me forget, for just one moment, how hot I was. I'd say that's worth the making.

Orzo and Zucchini Salad with Garlic and Basil

John's mom gave us whole-wheat orzo! I've never had orzo before, but I really like it. Here's a summertime recipe adapted from Martha. I take this and put in all ingredients to taste. I suggest you do the same!

coarse salt (I used regular sea salt)
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup orzo
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil (just eyeball it)
2 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced, or as much as you'd like
one garlic clove, finely minced (I used more)
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn (The amount I use varies with how much the girls pick...)
1-2 tablespoons white wine vinegar (I don't have any, and splashed white vinegar and white cooking wine on in equal amount, to taste, and I think I use quite a bit more than 1-2 tablespoons.)

* I also add green onion tops or minced chive tops in it, to taste.

1. In a medium pot of boiling salted water, cook orzo until al dente, according to package directions. Drain well. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet to cool completely.

2. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add zucchini and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally, until crisp-tender, about 4-6 minutes. Don't overcook! The crunch of crisp-tender zucchini is much more pleasant than the soggy droop of overcooked slices.

3. Transfer orzo to a medium bowl; add zucchini mixture, basil, vinegar, cooking wine, and remaining teaspoon oil. Season with salt and pepper; toss to combine. If storing, cover and refrigerate up to one day; bring to room temperature before serving. (That's probably proper, but I've enjoyed it warm, lukewarm, and cold, and cold might be my favorite.)

Curried Indian Chickpeas

Yet another spicy one to fill your nostrils with the scent of faraway places.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. fresh ginger root, finely chopped
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander (the ground seeds of the herb cilantro)
Salt, to taste
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. ground turmeric
* I usually shake on some garam masala, too
Two 15-oz. cans garbanzo beans or the equivalent of freshly cooked
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro, optional

Heat onion in a large frying pan over medium heat and fry onions until tender. Stir in garlic, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, salt, cayenne, and turmeric. Cook for one minute over medium heat, stirring constantly. Mix in garbanzo beans and some of their liquid (I usually only put in some of the liquid from one can so the flavor is not diluted, though the recipe calls for all the liquid from both cans). Continue to cook and stir until all ingredients are well blended and heated through. Remove from heat. Stir in cilantro just before serving, if desired. Serves 8 or serves one bearded husband for three lunches. (He requested that I pack it for his lunch EVERY SINGLE DAY, but I haven't been a good enough wife to do it more than half a dozen times so far.)

Teriyaki Salmon

I found the inspiration for this recipe on the back of an Aldi bag of salmon, shipped here all the way from China. (I know...local eating.) I bought the bag under the impression that it was the same price per pound as its neighboring whiting. Stupid girl! It contained a pound less for the same price! This past week, which was several months after my original error, I made the same mistake (only purposefully this time) so that we could eat it again.

1/3 cup chicken broth
1/4 white cooking wine
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4-1/2 tsp. finely minced ginger root
a few shakes of lemon pepper
one small onion (you guessed it) finely minced
Now that the garden grows, I also added some green onion tops to the marinade and used some for garnish.

four 4-oz. salmon fillets, thawed and placed on a rimmed baking sheet. (If you're using fresh, then we're not in the same league at all. Don't sniff at my stinginess, just go here instead.)

Bring all ingredients (except fish, of course) to a boil and reduce to medium heat. Cook for a few minutes. Brush fillets with marinade, or, as I do, dump all the marniade on top of the fish. Broil under preheated broiler for about minutes, flip, and then broil for another three minutes.

Oven Roasted Red Potatoes with Rosemary and Garlic

John made this when his sister and her family were visiting. They are, quite simply, delicious, and I think we could have skipped grilling all the meat and been satisfied with just these. For those of you who think John's culinary genius of a mind created this, don't. I caught him looking up the recipe on the Food Network's site. Thank you, Paula Dean! We loved your potatoes!

1 1/2 pounds small new red potatoes (about 15), scrubbed and dried
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 to 6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Pare a narrow strip of peel from the middle of each potato. In a large bowl mix the oil, garlic, and rosemary; add the potatoes and toss well. Transfer the potatoes to a shallow baking pan and roast until potatoes are tender when tested with the tip of a knife. Serve hot. (One note, Ms. Deen. We'd gladly even eat them cold...)

Grilled Balsamic Squash and Zucchini

This is yet another way to prepare garden zucchini in a yummy way, and it's a bit healthier than the recipe below. If I jotted down the recipe when I mixed the marinade, I can't find it now. It's a simple marinade, though, so here goes.

Balsamic vinegar
minced garlic
minced onion
chopped green onion tops
freshly ground black pepper
lemon juice
some extra virgin olive oil
and I may have also splashed in a bit of white cooking wine

All to taste.

Wash zucchini (do not peel) and slice in lengthwise pieces of about 1/4 " thickness. Marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight and then grill, uncovered, until char marks appear. Flip, and grill the other side. If it is not yet crisp-tender, grill, covered, for several more minutes.

Strawberries and Cream Pie

After the girls and I picked berries, I made a sugar-free version of this for a helpful neighbor but made it again with sugar for us. I tweaked a few things in between, and here's the new version. It's essentially a strawberry glace pie with the addition of a cheesecake-like layer.

Prepare a single crust pastry and place in a pie dish but do not bake.

In a mixing bowl, combine 2 packages of softened cream cheese and 2/3 cup sugar. Blend well and then mix in 2 eggs and 1 tsp. vanilla, just until combined. Pour over pie crust and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until center has set and pie crust is lightly browned. Let cool completely. If desired, combine 1/2 cup sour cream with sugar and vanilla, to taste and spread on top of cheesecake layer.

Meanwhile hull and wash enough strawberries to cover the pie, pointed sides up. Wash and hull an additional one cup berries and mash in a small bowl. Set aside. In a small saucepan, combine one cup sugar and three tablespoons cornstarch. Gradually stir in water and crushed berries and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens, boils, and becomes translucent. Stir in one tablespoon butter, set aside until cool, and then pour over the point-side-up, fresh berries. Spread smooth and then top/garnish with sweetened, whipped cream.

Curry Dip

I tasted some curry dip at Zach and Sarah's wedding and couldn't get enough of it. I came home and made some of my own, and it's good, so here's the recipe. Please, though, if any of you know of a good curry dip, please share it in the comments! I'm craving some right now, and I'd love to try a tried and true recipe from someone.

This is great on steamed vegetables, raw vegetables (cauliflower, beans, carrots, broccoli, etc.) and is hard to resist on pretzel sticks.

1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tsp. curry (add this to taste, depending on the strength of your curry blend)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. minced onion
1 tablespoon chopped green onion tops
@ 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt, or to taste
sugar, to taste (@1/2-1 tablespoon)

Stir together and refrigerate for a few hours until flavors have blended.

Sweet Tomato Pie

I've posted this once before, but now I have pictures. This is the perfect meal to use up summertime harvest. Plus, it tastes good. (And I don't know why its originator named it a PIE, 'cause it's really just pasta with the works.)

Spaghetti Crust
1 (7 oz.) package spaghetti, cook al dente and drain
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten

1 pound sweet Italian sausage
1 clove minced fresh garlic (I use more, @ 5 cloves)
1 small zucchini, peeled and chopped (I use more, and I don't peel mine)
**I also use summer squash (again, I don't peel it)
one onion, chopped (I also use chopped green onion tops)
1/2 cup (4 large) fresh mushrooms
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2- 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons chopped parsley (or dried parsley, to taste)
5 medium fresh tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped (I skip the peeling)
1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup mozzerella cheese, grated or cubed (Add LAST)

Cook sausage and onions until browned. Add tomatoes and other filling ingredients; add mozzerella and mix well. Spread over spaghetti and bake in a lightly greased dish in a 350 degree oven for @ 25 minutes.

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

These are soft, chewy, chocolate-y goodness all on their own, but smushed a little bit flatter before baking, they double as excellent sandwich cookies.

1 stick plus 4 tablespoons butter
2 large eggs
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla

2 cups flour
3/4 cup baking cocoa
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda

additional sugar

Cream butter and sugar together in mixing bowl, beat in eggs until combined and add vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift flour, cocoa, salt, and baking soda. Add to the butter mixture, beating only until combined. Chill dough until easy to handle, and then roll into one-inch balls (or bigger or smaller, depending on what size you want your cookies). Roll the balls in additional granulated sugar, place on cookie sheet three inches apart, and flatten with a level tool (bottom of glass, etc.). Bake in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes and let cool before assembling sandwiches.

Adjust the baking time as needed for smaller or larger cookies and for fatter or thinner cookies. We made giant sandwiches the first time we made these and then miniature, oreo-sized ones the second time.

Fill with your choice of frosting. We made a peanut butter filling (recipe here), a mint, and an orange (recipes here), and we even had the foresight to write down the ingredients we used!

Peanut Butter Filling

1/4 cup butter, softened
@ 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup evaporated milk (I used this because I had some sitting in my fridge. Feel free to substitute an alternative dairy liquid, as long as it's creamy.)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners' sugar
@ one additional tablespoon evaporated milk

Cream butter and peanut butter together, then mix in the milk and vanilla. Beat in the confectioners' sugar, beating until creamy, and add additional milk as needed for the proper spreading consistency.

Peppermint/Orange/Etc. Filling

We used peppermint and orange extracts, but any other flavoring could be used, as well.

4 tablespoon butter, softened
@ 1/4 cup evaporated milk (again, substitute milk, cream, half-and-half, etc.)
1 tsp. peppermint flavoring or other flavoring, to taste (And please do! Taste, that is...)
@ 2 and 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

Mix all together until smooth and creamy. Add additional milk or sugar, if needed, for proper spreading consistency.

Chocolate Cloud Cookies

In our neck of the woods, these are also known as "Cow Patties," but don't let that turn you away...

These are a fudgy, chewy cookie, kind of like the marshmallow brownie king of the cookie world. All hail the king! (And all hail Becky for bringing me the cookie pictured above.)

3 cups flour
2/3 cup baking cocoa
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
8 oz. frozen mini marshmallows

Combine flour, cocoa, soda, adn set aside. Cream butter and sugar; add eggs and vanilla, beating until combined. Add the flour mixture, mixing just until combined, and stir in the semisweet chocolate chips. Batter should be stiff. Scoop by tablespoons, flatten in palm, and place 4-5 marshmallows in the center. Wrap the dough around the marshmallows and bake cookies on ungreased cookie sheet for @ 9 minutes at 400 degrees. Just as with brownies, take care not to overbake.

Breaded Zucchini Slices

*For an updated, delicious twist, click here for oven-baked zucchini fries!

John made these the same night he made the roasted beans, and he chuckled when I commented that it was a healthy meal gone completely wrong. Oh, but it tasted sooo right.

If you grow or have ever grown zucchini, chances are you've made your own version of these at one point or another. In bumper crop years (and, really, with zucchini, what year isn't?), you may have eaten them at every meal. Please bear with the vague "recipe." John just sprinkles what he feels led to sprinkle.

Stir together one egg with a few tablespoons of milk. Set aside. In another bowl, combine flavored bread crumbs, grated parmesan cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, a pinch of cayenne, salt, pepper, and "a few other spices...." (at this point, John's voice trailed off)

Slice zucchini in coins, dip in egg mixture, and then dredge in bread crumb mixture. Fry over medium heat in a pot that is filled with a few inches of oil, turning over when browned and crispy. Drain on paper towels and eat warm. (Oil is ready for frying when a pinch of flour dropped in immediately sizzles upon hitting.)

Baked Caramel Popcorn

This is the recipe that my mom used for us. It's crunchy, sweet, and yummy, and when I was very fat and pregnant with Annika, I ate half a batch by myself one night while waiting for John to come home from the late shift. I became sick that time (an entire stick of butter! what was I thinking?!!!), but that doesn't prevent me from making it now to share with my children....

We usually cut this in half.

10-12 cups popcorn
2 sticks butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla

After popping popcorn and placing it in a large bowl, bring butter, sugar, corn syrup, and salt to a boil, while stirring. Boil for about five minutes on the lowest heat at which the mixture will boil, without stirring.  Remove from heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla. Pour over popcorn, stir to coat evenly, and then spread out on a rimmed cookie sheet or jellyroll pan. Bake at 200 degrees for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes to break apart clumps.   When it's done, one note of caution: make sure you're not the only one awake in the house, or you may give yourself a bellyache.

*Also, if you like chewy, caramel popcorn, follow all the steps but don't bake it!  You can make caramel popcorn balls this way, too.

Peanut Butter Popcorn

This is another of Mopsy's Sunday Night Popcorn for Dinner specialties. I used to then, and I still do love peanut butter popcorn. I love peanut butter popcorn. I love peanut butter popcorn. Sticky, chewy, sweet, and peanut-buttery.

Pop 1/2 cup popcorn and place in large bowl.

Bring 1/2 cup corn syrup
and 1/2 cup sugar
to a boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved.

Stir in 1/2 cup peanut butter and 1/2 tsp. vanilla. Pour over popcorn and stir to coat evenly. Eat in one sitting while watching a movie on a sheet.

Savory Popcorn with Bacon and Cheese

This is to serve as popcorn inspiration only.

Becky brought some leftover popcorn over that she'd flavored with butter, salt, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder (I think) before sprinkling on bacon bits and melting cheese on top.

Yes, I said "yum", you popcorn purists, you! Take that!!!

The Dip That Has No Recipe

How can this be?!?! How can something so savory be denied a recipe? John's friend made an ocean of this dip, and John brought some leftover pita wedges and dip home. I loved it so much I ate it with a spoon after I finished the pita. When I begged Mark for the recipe, this is what he close to tastebud heaven yet so far away. You see, we rarely shop at Wegman's (though it's the best grocery store in the entire world), and we most certainly don't buy things from their food bar (though I bet the food is scrumptious). For those of you who can or do or would like to take my word that this dip is wonderful and try your hand at it, here's what Mark offered me.

Here's as close to a recipe for that dip as I can remember. This will probably make way more than you need so you could probably halve it. This is really a free form project so if you stumble across some great flavor combo while experimenting, let me know. It's much harder to overwhelm the cucumber than you think, so you can kind of go nuts. Peel, seed and roughly chop 3-4 cucumbers. I had one fairly big one (like almost a foot long) and three smaller ones (5-8 inches each). I have no idea how much total weight because i got them from the garden. Put the chopped cukes in the blender a handful at a time, with a pinch of salt scattered between handfuls. Let it stand there while you prep everything else so the salt can draw out water which will make things smoother later. Chop 8 roasted or sun dried tomatoes. For some reason I am certain that I actually used 8. I used pre roasted ones from the wegmans olive bar. Don't worry to much about draining the oil. If you use sun dried, use oil packed ones or soak them in hot water for a few minutes first if you use dry. If you roast your own, you won't need 8, but the ones at the store are small. Mince 3-4 cloves of garlic depending on your taste. I also added 8 or 9 peppers. I think they're called Lombardo peppers or something similar. They're on the olive bar at Wegmans, they're really long and skinny and red and are in oil with pickled garlic cloves. Chop those up too. Feel free to adjust the amounts. This is where the heat comes from, but individually, they're not terribly hot. You will also need half a pound of crumbled feta and a couple tablespoons of chopped herbs. I used oregano, basil, and thyme. In a pinch though you could probably get away with the Mediterranean herb feta. Have some red wine vinegar and olive oil on hand. When everything's ready, turn on the blender and liquefy the cukes. If they didn't release much water, add a little olive oil to keep things moving. Add the garlic, tomatoes and peppers and about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Puree. Add the cheese then the herbs. If you're feeling brave, just take the top off the blender while it's running and feed it in that way, otherwise add it a bit at a time. Everything should thicken up. Drizzle a little vinegar in. How much is really a matter of taste. Probably around a teaspoon, maybe a little more. Just do a little, run the blender and taste. It should have just a hint of the vinegar which is really there to sharpen the other flavors (kind of like salt does in most foods). When your satisfied with the taste, pour it into a container and chill it for a couple of hours before serving. It'll thicken up a bit more in the fridge, so don't worry if it's slightly runny coming out of the blender, as long as it's not liquidy. Good luck!!