Posts from May 2014

Chicken Curry with Coriander

05/29/2014

curry

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An authentic Indian curry, I learned fairly recently, is not the dried yellowish spice that you can find at the grocery store. That is a Western invention. Traditional curry is a blend of spices that do have that yellow color, which comes from the turmeric. Another spice included in the blend is coriander, which we harvested from our garden last week.

The seeds of coriander are from the cilantro plant. They taste nutty, and some say even have a hint of orange flavor. When the seeds turn brown on the stems, they’re ready for harvest.

I wish I knew more about Indian cooking than I do, but the trick I’ve picked up is to sauté your spices in your oil first. This flavors the oil and permeates everything else in the dish. I can’t say this is an authentic Indian recipe, but I will say it’s pretty tasty.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 c rice
4 chicken breasts
2 T flour
2 T olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 pepper, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 can diced tomatoes (preferably zesty flavored)
2 garlic cloves, diced
2 t coriander seeds (or 1 t ground coriander, if that’s all you can find)
2 t cumin
1 t mustard seeds
2 t gram masala (or turmeric, or leave this out if you can’t find it)
1 t paprika
1/4 t cayenne pepper
S&P

Instructions:

First, start your rice. Add 3 cups to your 1 1/2 cups of rice, bring to a boil, and let simmer. While the rice is cooking, chop your chicken into bite-sized pieces. Get a skillet hot with olive oil. Dredge your chicken in flour, and sauté until done, about 5-6 minutes. Take out of the skillet. Add more oil if you need to (don’t clean the skillet) and add all your spices. (Note: if you can’t find any of the Indian spices, you can cheat and use 4-5 T of curry powder instead.) Add the garlic, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, cumin, paprika, gram masala, and cayenne. (If my memory serves correct, I think the mustard seeds started popping once they got hot. Just a warning.) Stir for a minute or two. Next, add all the veggies: the onion, carrots, and peppers. Sauté for 4-5 minutes. Next, put the chicken back into the skillet, and add the can of diced tomatoes. Mix together well. Let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Place on rice, and use a dollop of yogurt as a garnish.

Morel Mushrooms

05/26/2014

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This past week, I’ve been watching my Facebook news feed with such envy as my Midwestern family and friends post pictures of their recent morel mushroom finds. Morels are not found around these North Florida parts, unfortunately, so I had to turn to my mushroom logs for something tasty instead. Or so I thought.

I watched these things sprout knowing full well that they were not shittakes, but if my memory serves right, I thought we had inoculated some of the logs with a different species of mushrooms. But for the life of me, I couldn’t remember what. Hen of the Woods, perhaps? Gary did warn me of Rule No. 1 of mushroom eating: NEVER eat one unless you are 100% sure of what it is. But I though, heck, they’re on our logs, that we inoculated, they’ll be just fine! I cut them off, sautéed them with soy sauce and butter, and before I put them on my pizza I was making for dinner, I bit into one: it was definitely NOT edible. I can’t quite describe what it tasted like; dirt, perhaps, or what you would expect if you decided to gnaw on one of those bracket mushrooms on dead trees? Blech!! Needless to say, I didn’t die from the experience, but we did have a mushroom-less pizza for dinner that night.

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Inedible mushrooms aside, I instead want to devote the rest of this blog waxing on about the fabulousness of morels! I miss lots of things about the Midwest, but morels ranges toward the top of the list with my family (especially my super squeezable niece & nephew) and fresh apples. Much of the goodness about morels is the search. I liken searching for morels to searching for scallops–both are scavenger hunts for delectables! In both instances, you’re in beautiful parts of nature–the woods and the sea–and you come across this delicious morsel that is incredibly camouflaged. My “gatherer” part of my female brain sends out a “WIN!” signal every time one is spotted.

According to lore, morels are up when the oak leaves are the size of a squirrel’s ear. (Whatever that means.) And you find them around the roots near dead or partially dying Ash trees. They look so similar to dead leaves, you can often miss a whole clump if you’re not careful. Some years they are in abundance, other times not at all. But even if none are found, the walk through the woods is still wonderful.

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{My brother, Thomas, cooking up a good morel find one year.}

My favorite way to cook them is simply sautéing them in soy sauce and butter. (And definitely use butter; morels are worth their weight in gold, so use the Real Deal and not olive oil.)

Ingredients:

1 lb morels
3 T soy sauce
3 T butter
pinch of garlic salt

Instructions:

After a delightful walk in the woods, take your find back to the house. Cut off the bottom part that may still have mud on it. Cut the morel in half length-wise. If they’re a little buggy, soak them in cold salty water, which will kill the ants (and other things.) Next, dry them off. Get a skillet hot to medium heat, and melt the butter. Throw in the morels. Once they’re almost finished cooking–about 3-4 minutes–throw in the soy sauce and a pinch of the garlic salt. You can eat these plain, put them on pizzas, in sauces, risottos, quiches, all egg dishes, just about anything.

Eat them and think of me, and know that I am absolutely pinning over your dinner.

Freezing Beans

05/23/2014

beans

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Our beans have been prolific, so we’ve been having them a lot. Three bean salad, beans and olives, beans sauteed on the grill, you name it. But because of our over consumption of beans, my husband has turned into Gassy McGasserson (sorry Gary!). Thus, it’s time to give them a rest.

Freezing beans is a cinch. Just blanch them and bag them. It doesn’t matter how little or how much you do. First, get a pot of boiling water going on the stove. And get a bowl of ice water ready. Wash and cut the beans. Boil for 2-3 minutes. Immediately take them out of the boiling water and throw them in the ice bath. It will stop the cooking. Bag them up in ziplocks, and throw them in the freezer. You’ll have beans whenever you want them for sauteing, stir-frying, and adding to dishes.

Fresh Chorizo Sausage

05/20/2014

chorizo

Gary and I are fortunate to have adventurous friends who are up for doing fun-things-with-meat when the opportunity strikes. In this case, we made sausage from a local 150 lb. wild boar. Gary and I attempted this process before, as chronicled here, but that was with the supervision of a butcher, and with professional equipment. Having neither, we decided to go whole hog with the whole hog anyway on our own.

I learned two important lessons during this process:

1. It takes way longer than you might think to make 60lbs of sausage.
2. I completely retract my statement, which I made here, about thinking valiantly that if I’m going to eat something living, I “may as well look it in the face.” Heads of mammals, I’ve decided, are not super appetizing. I know all living things have them, and I still can give homage to the animal, but I’d just rather not have the face be present.

Moving on. We got our hog from Wild Man Foods, a local business who traps and sells wild pigs. They’re super affordable, charging $1.50 for the hanging weight.

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Next, we cut off all the meat from the bones, and separated the fat. The fat is later used for the recipes, but it needs to be measured.

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For the un-squeamish folks, here is the head. I will NOT be making head cheese any time soon.

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We mixed the meat with the spices (recipe below). With our sausage maker Kitchenaid attachment, we ground the meat and then put it back in the fridge to cool.

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(There were LOTS of inappropriate euphemisms present at our Sausage Fest that will not be repeated here.)

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After about hour 6, I think I’m the only one with the “Sausage Making is Fun!” grin.

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The recipe below is for chorizo, a spicy Mexican and Spanish flavored meat. We made four other recipes with our 60+lbs of sausage; all of those recipes will be posted here in due time. The recipe and instructions are from this great website: Hunter Angler Gardner Cook. I tweaked the recipe some, but I’m adding their instructions verbatim since these guys totally know what they’re doing.

Ingredients:

4 lbs wild boar (or pork. You can use ground pork and add the sausages and skip the grinding part if you don’t have the equipment, too.)
1 lb pork fat
3 T salt
1 T sugar
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 T Mexican oregano
2 t cumin
1 t chipolte powder
1 t cayenne pepper
3 T chile powder
1/4 c tequila
1/4 c red wine vinegar
hog casings

Instructions from Hunter Angler Gardner Cook:

Cut the meat and fat into chunks that will fit into your meat grinder. Combine the salt, sugar and all the dry spices with the meat and fat, mix well with your hands and chill it until it’s almost frozen by putting it in the freezer for an hour or so.

Take out some hog casings and set in a bowl of very warm water. Mix the tequila and vinegar with the achiote paste and chill it in the fridge.

Grind the meat mixture through your meat grinder (you can use a food processor in a pinch, but you will not get a fine texture), using the fine die. If your room is warm, set the bowl for the ground meat into another bowl of ice to keep it cold. Make sure the meat mixture is very cold before moving on to the next step: You want it between 27°F and 35°F.

Add the tequila-vinegar mixture and mix thoroughly either using a Kitchenaid on low for 60 to 90 seconds or with your (very clean) hands. This is important to get the sausage to bind properly. Once it is mixed well, put it back in the fridge and clean up.

Stuff the sausage into the casings all at once. Twist off links by pinching the sausage down and twisting it around several times; do every other link and you will only have to twist in one direction.

Hang the sausages in a cool place for up to 4 hours (the colder it is, the longer you can hang them). If it is warm out, hang for just one hour. Once they have dried a bit, put in the fridge until needed. They will keep for at least a week in the fridge. If you are freezing the sausages, wait a day before doing so. This will tighten up the sausages and help them keep their shape in the deep-freeze.

We grilled them and had them with polenta. They were lean, not gamey at all, and had great spice.

Fried Alligator Poppers

05/18/2014

gator.poppers

Gary teaches a week-long microbiology class once a year to about 30 students who come from developing countries all over the world. For the past couple of years, we’ve hosted a handful of them at our house. They’re always so gracious, and it’s great fun to learn about other corners of the planet. One year it was five Egyptians, another year it was a Nepalese, Mongolian and Republic of Georgian, and one year it was all 35 of them from every continent minus Antarctica. This year it was a Romanian, a Bangladeshi, and a Californian (?).

I am always conscious about trying to plan meals to abide by others’ moral, physical, and religious food restrictions when we have guests over. In this case, we had a Muslim Bangladeshi who didn’t eat pork, and a Californian vegetarian who didn’t eat red blooded mammals. But everyone gobbled up and enjoyed our fried alligator popper appetizers from the gator that Gary caught! Gator meat: the new food that brings all cultures together. I love it!

Ingredients:

Poppers:
1 lb alligator meat (or seriously anything else. Vegetables, any kinds of meat, cardboard even…everything tastes good fried.)
1 c flour
1 t paprika
1 t chili powder
1 t cumin
S&P
2 eggs
1/2 c water
1/2 gallon peanut or canola oil

Sauce:
1 c mayo
1/8-1/4 c sriracha sauce
S&P

Instructions:

First, cut up your alligator (or other meat) into one-inch pieces. Dry off the meat, salt and pepper them, and set aside. Next, mix up your dry ingredients in a bowl. Set aside. Make your sauce by mixing the mayo, sriracha, and S&P together. Set aside. Beat two eggs in a bowl with the 1/2 c of water. Before you go any further, get your oil in a skillet hot. We use a big cast iron skillet and put it on an outside propane burner since the oil splatters and makes a mess. Next, take your alligator, dunk it into the egg mixture, dredge it in flour, and fry it for about 1-2 minutes, or until golden brown. Dunk in the hot mayo sauce. And toast to the beauty of differing cultures and the fact that despite different languages, religions, and homelands, everyone is, more or less, exactly the same.

Roasted Carrots

05/15/2014

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It’s toward the end of carrot season here. All that is left in our garden is the gnarled ones that are hard to peel.

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{This carrot has legs! And it’s a little boy carrot, to be exact.}

This recipe came from The Forest Feast. Her carrots are far more beautiful than mine–the dish looks great when they’re oval cut–but I think the taste is probably comparable.

Ingredients:

6 carrots, peeled and cut into ovals
1 t paprika
1 t chili powder
1 t garlic powder
pinch of cayenne (optional)
2 T olive oil
S&P

Instructions:

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Chop and peel the carrots. In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Pour the olive oil over the carrots, and then the spices. Stir, and put on an insulated cookie sheet. Cook for 20 minutes. Serve warm.

Related Recipes:

The Forest Feast: Roasted Carrots

Chimichurri

05/13/2014

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chimichurri

All of my fresh herbs have gone to see except my fresh parsley, which is apparently thriving. I’m not sure how or why our 90 degree temps haven’t bothered it much at all, but it’s still putting on new growth like it’s its job.

I made a chimichurri sauce for steak that is very easy to make. I found a recipe on David Lebowitz’s blog that was great. David is an American pastry chef that lives in Paris and chronicles his food adventures there. As much as I would loooooove to live in a place with fresh macaroons on every corner, I guess I should be thankful that I have fresh parsley.

Ingredients:

1 fresh chile pepper (optional)
1/2 c olive oil
2 t dried oregano
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 t paprika
1 c fresh parsley, chopped
S&P

Instructions:

First, if you’re using a chili pepper, which I highly recommend you do (it adds a great little kick!), char it over a gas stove. You can do this either on a grill, gas stove, or a broiler in the oven. Get all sides black, and set aside. Once it’s cooled, peel off the outer skin and the inside should be cooked. Cut in half, and removed the stem and seeds. David only used half of his pepper. I used all of mine. Do what you’d like.

Next, add the rest of the ingredients and stir in a bowl. It should be chunky, so no food processor is necessary. Put it on the meat after it’s cooked, for otherwise the parsley will char on the grill. Put a big spoonful on grilled beef or lamb.

Related Recipes:

David Lebovitz: Chimichurri

Simple Recipes: Chimichurri

Blueberry Pancakes

05/10/2014

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We have two young blueberry bushes in our yard that just started putting on fruit! But unfortunately, the amount of berries shown here is actually all of the berries on the entire bush–just enough to top my pancake. Although we don’t have many to share, North Florida has a bumper crop of blueberries this year. The local blueberries are so incredibly cheep so I’ve been buying lots and freezing them in order to have delicious tasting blueberries for pancakes and smoothies for months to come. Hopefully better luck next year with our two bushes.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 c flour
3 T sugar
1 3/4 t baking powder
1 t salt
1 1/2 c milk
3 T butter, melted
2 eggs
1/2 t vanilla extract
1 c blueberries

Instructions:

Combine the wet ingredients in one bowl, and the dry ingredients in another. Mix the liquid ingredients in with the dry ones. Pour 1/4 c batter onto a hot skillet. Immediately toss a few berries on the top of the pancake. Flip when ready. Serve with syrup & more berries.

Green Beans with Olives

05/08/2014

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It’s green bean season around here! When I pick beans, I can’t help but sing that song about beans I learned as a kid:

Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart.
The more you eat, the more you fart!
The more you fart, the better you feel, so eat your beans for every meal!

So, yes, eat those beans and flaunt your flatulence! It’s good for you.

This recipe came from Martha Stewart.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs green beans, trimmed
1 c green olives (or 1/2 c green olive tapenade, like I used)
1 c fresh parsley, chopped
2 anchovies
3 T olive oil
1 T red wine vinegar
S&P

Instructions:

First you need to blanch your beans. Bring a pot of water to a boil. And get a bowl of ice water ready. Throw your beans into the boiling water for 5-6 minutes, or until the beans are bright green. Strain the beans, and throw them into the bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.

In a food processor, put the rest of the ingredients. In a bowl, mix the pureed mixture with the beans. They’re then ready to eat!

Related articles:

Martha Stewart: Green Beans with Olives

Blackened fish with salsa

05/05/2014

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Our good friend Sam had us over for dinner last week to eat some Amber Jack that he caught over the weekend. He paired it with a salsa that was divine. (And the roasted potatoes with bacon fat were über delicious, too.) The salsa goes super well with any white flaky fish.

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(Okay, this is neither the fish that was caught, nor is it an Amber Jack, but it IS a picture of the fisherman and cook. And single ladies, Sam is an eligible bachelor! Not only can he catch your dinner, he can cook it for you, too! Sam is an alligator hunter, DIYer, art lover, soccer player, and all around great guy. So, if you live in North Florida, and meet Gary and my SUPER STRINGENT qualifications for whom is good enough for Sam to date, you can message me below.)

Ingredients:

Fish:
1 lb Amber Jack (or white flaky fish)
1 t paprika
1 t chili powder
1/2 t garlic powder
S&P

Salsa:
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped
half of a tomato, chopped
half of a small red onion, chopped
1 lemon, juiced
2 T distilled white vinegar

Instructions:

First, season the fish. Set aside. Next, make the salsa. Mince the garlic and chop the jalapeno. Put both into a bowl. Squeeze the lemon on garlic and jalapeno, stir, and let sit for a while. Chop and add the onion and tomatoes. Set aside. Grill the fish on medium high, about 3 minutes each side, or until the fish is cooked through completely. Enjoy!

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