Posts from April 2014

Collard Greens

04/29/2014

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What does this Iowa girl know about making collards, you ask? Not a whole lot, actually. But I was forced to learn due to a plant of mistaken identity.

We buy many of our starter plants from our local grocery store. Farmer John brings in the seedlings and small plants. He’s known for his blue ribbon winners; his plants really are tremendous! My only complaint about him, though, is that sometimes things are mislabeled. Last year there was the Romanesco I planted instead of cauliflower, and this year it happens to be collards I planted instead of broccoli. Gary and I have been waiting waiting waiting for something to sprout from the center of this dang plant, but nothing happened. Months it looked like this, all green and healthy. It wasn’t cabbage, we decided. But for the life of these two Midwesterners, we couldn’t figure it out. Until we had a friend who has lived in Florida much longer than us proclaim that we were growing collards in our garden.

Collards?!? After I learned this, and realized these crazy things were taking up prime garden real-estate, I was in the process of pulling them out and chucking them in the yard waste when Gary noticed (much to his dismay). He encouraged me to leave three of the plants, and he’d give the leaves of the ones I pulled to Bobby, a man from work. Bobby and his wife, both who grew up eating collards, declared these the “finest collards in all of Alachua County!” For which I take as the utmost compliment. (I’m sure it was probably Bobby’s wife’s recipe that made them magical–I’m trying my best to get the secret from her!)

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Ingredients:

1 bunch collard greens, chopped
1 quart chicken broth
1 T bacon fat
1 onion, chopped
1 c apple cider vinegar
1-2 c water
S&P

Instructions:

Put the bacon fat in a large stock-pan, and saute the chopped onions until they’re clear (about 5 minutes). Add the liquid and put in the chopped collard greens. I like to take out the thick veins in the middle. Make sure that there’s enough water to cover all the greens. Bring to a boil and bowl for at least an hour. You can add ham or bacon afterward if you want.

Serve with a good Southern dish, like shrimp and grits like I did.

Kale Pizza

04/26/2014

kale.pizza

kale.pizza.1

Last weekend, my adorable nephew (along with the rest of his family) came to visit. Maurice absolutely loved eating fresh kale straight from our garden. This past week, whenever I went to pick kale, my thoughts went to him.

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{Maurice is even more delicious than the kale.}

Ingredients:

Dough:

1/2 c warm water (110-116 degrees)
1 1/4 t active dry yeast
1 1/2 c all purpose flour (or gluten free flour)
1 t salt
olive oil (for coating bowl)

Topping:

1/2 c sliced onion
1 garlic clove, sliced
olive oil
4 c coarsely chopped kale
1 t herbs of Provence
1 T red wine vinegar
1/2 c sliced dried salami (or cooked sausage or this can be omitted for a vegetarian dish)
1/2 c shredded Swiss cheese

Instructions:

First, make the dough. (This needs to be done a least 1-2 hours ahead of time.) Pour all ingredients into the bowl of your electric mixer. Mix with a dough hook (or if you don’t have a dough hook, you can mix by hand) for 2-3 minutes, or until the dough is a craggy ball. Let sit for 5 minutes. Sprinkle a little flour onto a clean counter top, and kneed for another 5 minutes, or until the dough is pliable and rubbery. Coat a bowl with olive oil, put the dough in the bowl, and cover with saran wrap and a towel. Once it’s doubled in size (about 1-2 hours, depending on the heat of your room), you’re ready to start your topping.

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. While this is warming, chop your kale, garlic, and onion. In a large skillet, heat 2 T of olive oil. Throw in the onions, and cook for 5 minutes, or until the onions start to slightly brown. Next throw in the kale, garlic, and herbs of Provence. Cook for about 2 minutes, and then stir in vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until wilted.

Once the oven is hot, roll out your dough. I have a pizza stone in my oven (and another large ceramic tile that I just got from Lowe’s that works under the same principle), and a peal. If you have a stone but no peal, you can use the back of a cookie sheet to slide the pizza crust on the stone. I use a little bit of cornmeal to put on the peal; it acts like ball-bearings and helps the pizza slide onto the hot stone. You can also just use a cookie sheet with slides, and put the crust in there, if that’s all you have.

Cook the crust for 5 or so minutes, just so the top gets a little golden. Take out of the oven, cover the surface with a brush of olive oil, put the kale topping on the pizza and sprinkle with cheese and sausage. Delish!

Indian-Spiced Pork Burgers

04/23/2014

pork.burgers

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Although here in Florida we’re fortunate to be able to eat outside during the winter months, when Summer comes, so do our mosquitoes (and humidity and heat). So I’m trying to eat every meal outside for the time being because I know Summer is looming.

This recipe came from one of Martha Stewart’s cookbooks. She used chicken, which I actually prefer, but I was in a hurry and didn’t want to mess with blending chicken in a blender. (Chicken paste looks pretty gross, too.) So I used ground pork I had in my freezer, and the cilantro from my garden.

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Ingredients:

Pork Burgers:
1 1/2 lb ground pork
4 green onions, chopped
3 T fresh ginger, pealed and chopped
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 T paprika
2 t ground cumin
1/4 t cayenne pepper
S&P
4 pitas, cut in half
1 cucumber, sliced
1/2 c fresh cilantro

Cumin Yogurt Sauce:
1/2 c plain yogurt
1/2 t ground cumin
1/8 c grated cucumber
S&P

Instructions:

To make the burgers, combine the ground pork with the onions, ginger, lemon juice, and spices in a bowl. Next, chop the cuke and set aside. Mix the yogurt sauce in a separate bowl and set aside. Grill the burgers until done throughout. Serve the burgers in a pita, with cucumbers and yogurt sauce. Yum!

Gator Tacos

04/16/2014

gator.taco

What’s another great gator recipe you ask? Gator tacos! So in all honesty, Jason’s smoked ribs win first place in the Tastiest Thing On My Plate contest, but I SWEAR the gator tacos take a close second. And this was validated by all the other gator taco eaters, too.

Ingredients:

1 lb gator meat (chicken or beef could be used instead)
1/4 c Dijon mustard
1/4 c cider vinegar
3 T sriracha (or other hot sauce)
S&P
1/2 head cabbage, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 cheddar cheese, shredded
1 package corn tortillas
1/2 c mayonnaise
3 T sriracha
olive oil

Instructions:

Mix the mustard, vinegar, and sriracha in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the chopped meat and set aside (this can be done ahead of time, too, and left to marinate.) Chop the toppings and shred the cheese. In another small bowl, mix the 1/2 c mayo and the 3 T of sriracha for the sauce. Set aside. In a large skillet, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to medium high heat. Throw in the gator (or chicken or beef) and cook until done. Gator takes about 5-7 minutes, like chicken, and it should be cooked all the way through. While the gator is cooking, heat another skillet to medium heat which will be used to warm the tortillas. The corn tortillas are best when cooked in a little bit of oil. Put a tablespoon or so of olive oil on the skillet and put down a tortilla. It should take about 1-2 minutes each side. The tortillas should be golden.

A hot tortilla + gator + cabbage + sliced tomatoes + shredded cheese + a little bit of spicy mayo = a satisfying and easy meal. (Catching the gator, though, is a whole different story….)

Walnut Feta Dip

04/13/2014

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A lovely long weekend was spent in Iowa. Got in a little work, and a lot of seeing loved ones. I was sent back to Florida with a bag full of fresh walnuts picked and cracked by my parents, and shelled by my grandpa. It’s a tedious task, but worth the effort.

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The nuts are encased in a hull with a tough outer shell.

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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

To get to the meat, hammers are effective to crack the shell. (Although beware of flying shrapnel!)

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After they’re cracked, a pick is used to get out the small pieces of meat.

Ingredients:

1 c walnuts
1 c feta
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 c olive oil
1 t paprika
1 garlic clove, minced
2 t lemon juice

Instructions:

First, toast the walnuts. Roast them in a skillet on medium high heat for about 5-7 minutes, or until golden. Put in a food processor, and blend. Add the rest of the ingredients. Enjoy with crackers or vegetables or as a spread on a sandwich.

Pickled Beet Salad

04/04/2014

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I think beets are beautiful. Not everyone agrees with me that their taste is as nice, but if they’re pickled just right, I think beet non-enthusiasts may turn into converts.

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{Pardon the weeds. Life happens.}

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This pickled beet recipe came from a snazzy website called, A House in the Hills. I know making-things-in-jars seems daunting, but I promise you, pickling things is WAY easier than canning. Canning involves precision and time and effort. Pickling things involves pouring hot vinegar and water over vegetables. Try it and see. It’s worth it.

Ingredients:

1 large white onion, sliced into rounds
1 beet
1 1/3 c cider vinegar
1 1/3 c water
9 T sugar
1 t salt

Instructions:

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Clean out two pint jars with lids. Wrap the beet (with the skin on) in foil and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 40 minutes, or until a knife will pierce it easily. Once finished, take out and let cool enough for you to peal off the skin. Then, in a small pan, heat the vinegar, water, and sugar, and bring to a boil. Pack the jar/jars to the top with the beet and onion slices (depending on how large your beet is, you may need a larger or smaller jar.) Once packed in, pour the hot liquid over the vegetables. Let sit for at least 24 hours in the fridge. Use as a salad or sandwich topper.

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