Monday, June 29, 2009

In a Pickle -- Sour Dill and Quick Corn and Green Pepper

Made pickles tonight -- the biggest batch yet. Lots of dill, garlic and spices. Making these is an exercise in delayed gratification. They won't be "sour" and ready for about two weeks.

We use a variation of the recipe here.

I also made a quick refrigerator pickle tonight (photo to come). Basically, I cut the kernels off two ears of fresh, sweet corn, diced up about half a small red onion, minced two cloves of garlic and chopped a green pepper into 1/4" chunks. I used lots of salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste and added about a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar (use more or less of all these seasonings to your taste). I put the vegetable mix in a sterile jar and poured in a mixture of 3 parts white vinegar to 1 part water to just cover the solids. Seal and refrigerate. The quick corn pickle (really more of an old-fashioned relish, it reminds me of the Pennsylvania piccalilli my mom used to get) will be ready by dinner time. The corn and peppers were farm stand finds of Gary's as were the Brussels sprouts I sauteed to serve with the corn relish, rice and turkey meatloaf that was our simple and satisfying supper tonight.

Kept in the fridge the quick corn pickle should last two to three weeks.

Pickling on Foodista

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Cooking Jewish: Review and Green Chili Quiche Recipe

In a recent issue of the Temple Beth Abraham Omer newsletter, I gave a quick review of a Jewish cookbook I received. (Disclaimer -- a friend knows the author and I received the book for free.) I enjoyed the cookbook and most of the recipes so I thought I would adapt the article and include it on Blog Appetit. One note: I tested the recipe below during Passover and a period of intense weight watching so I had to make a lot of modifications. In hindsight, I probably should have picked a different recipe, but I do so love green chiles! And I needed a dairy recipe to mark the holiday of Shavout.

Here's what I wrote:

Called Cooking Jewish: 532 Great Recipes from the Rabinowitz Family by Judy Bart Kancigor (Workman Publishing), it is the record of an extended family through its recipes.

The food varies from traditional Eastern European through contemporary American with selections also coming from other Jewish and international traditions.

The book began as a small compilation of family recipes and grew as it was passed along and discovered by non-family members and the mainstream media. It still has a family feel to it, including photos of the contributing relatives and friends, family trees and more.

As I read through the book, I kept feeling I knew the people whose recipes and stories are featured, perhaps because the timeline on the Rabinowitz family immigration and “Americanization” mirrored my own family’s experience. While the recipes are appealing, I suspect it is this sense of “this could be MY family cookbook” also attracts many readers.

The food in this cookbook is not necessarily all traditionally Jewish, but it all is presented with a sense of connection and history and is offered with just a little schmaltz.

In honor of Shavuot, I wanted to feature a dairy recipe. Below is my adaptation of one of Cooking Jewish’s recipes.

Chiles Rellenos Quiche adapted from Cooking Jewish by Judy Bart Kancigor

This version is really more of an oven frittata. Kancigor’s version (see note below) is cheesier and a bit richer.

8 large eggs
16 oz cottage cheese (low or fat free okay)
1/2 teaspoon kosher or other coarse salt
8 drops of Tabasco or other hot sauce (or to taste)
8 ounces of cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (low fat okay)
1 can, 7 ounces, of diced green chiles, drained
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch glass dish with oil spray such as Pam.

In the jar of a blender, combine the eggs, cottage cheese, salt, and Tabasco. Blend until smooth. In a large bowl, mix the shredded cheese, the chiles and the melted butter. Add the mixture from the blender and stir gently until combined. Pour into the prepared glass baking dish.

Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake until golden brown and the eggs have set through about an additional 15-25 minutes.

Serves about 8-10 as a main course (perfect for brunch or light lunch or supper), about double that as an appetizer.

Note: To make the recipe as written by Kancigor, change to these amounts: 10 large eggs, 1 teaspoon salt, 10 drops of Tabasco sauce, 16 ounces of shredded cheese and 8 tablespoons of melted butter. Do not drain the chiles. Also, use 1 teaspoon baking powder and ½ cup flour. To prepare, follow the directions as above, but add flour and baking powder to the mixture in the blender and add the liquid along with the chiles to the shredded cheese mixture. Bake as directed, but allow more time (an additional 15-20 minutes) for the quiche to finish in the oven. It should be golden brown and puffy. Kancigor says this version makes 18 “brunch-size” and 36 appetizer portions.

Want to read more about sharing family recipes and memories? Check out this post.
Photo credit: Workman Publishing

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Gary's Granola -- A Father's Day Treat

My husband, Gary, aka Mr. Blog Appetit, has been eating Grizzlies brand Cinnamon Nut Granola for as long as I have known him (more than 29 years). In addition to being an excellent breakfast or snack, the granola has doubled as fruit crumble topping and once even once made it into some home made muffins. It truly was wondrous stuff.

Unfortunately it has become harder and harder to find as more and more stores use a single supplier for bulk foods. It has even disappeared from the bulk bins at the fabled Berkeley Bowl.

Back in March we decided to try to make him a granola he might enjoy as much if not more than the Grizzlies' one he has been accustomed to. Today, Father's Day, we just made our third batch and now when we shop the bulk bins it is not to search in vain for his old favorite but to look for ingredients for his new home-made one, customizing each batch to his taste.

Since I keep losing and having to find the slip of paper I've written out the proportions on, I thought I would post it on my blog so I never will have to search for it again (except, of course, by key word).

Gary's Granola
Makes about 5 cups of granola

This recipe is adapted from one in Deborah Madison's excellent Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. This makes a not-too-sweet, spicy and crunchy cereal that's good with milk or yogurt or just out of hand for snacking. Gary tends to eat about a quarter to a half cup at a time with plain yogurt and fresh fruit.

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup raw walnut pieces
1/2 cup raw whole almonds
1/2 cup raw, hulled sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola or other neutral oil
1/4 cup agave syrup (you could substitute honey)
1 cup raisins and/or slivered dried fruit (we like unsulphured apricots, but this mix varies)

Heat the oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine oats, walnuts, almonds, seeds,nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. Toss together until well mixed. Add the oil and sweetener and mix again thoroughly. Spread the mixture out on ungreased baking sheet pan(s). Put in the oven. Using a spatula turn the mixture over and spread out again every 10 minutes or so while it browns. When it has turned golden and brown throughout (about 30 minutes), remove from the oven and mix in the dried fruit. Allow to cool. Store in an air-tight container.

Update: 8.24.09 -- Gary is now making this without any salt and prefers it that way.
Update: 12.24.09 -- Gary is now using 1/2 honey and 1/2 agave and makes double batches.
Update 1.7.10 -- Gary now bakes for about 35 minutes (10 min, 10 min, 10 min, 5 min intervals between stirs).
Update 10.22.11 -- Gary now uses all agave syrup.
Update 3.9.17 -- Gary advises adding dried fruit after granola cools not before

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Taking Potluck -- Polenta Bake Recipe and a Promise of Cincinnati Chili

Right now, I'm working on a Cincinnati-style chili to bring to an "American" pot luck tonight.
The honoree is celebrating 40 years in America. His first home in America was in Cincinnati, hence the chili, which is not a traditional chili but more of a Greek-influenced meat sauce served over spaghetti, shredded yellow cheddar cheese, cooked kidney beans and/or onions (known as two-way, three-way, four-way and five-way respectively). More on this later. (Update -- the recipe is posted --- click here to see it.)

Last Monday, I hosted a potluck dinner meeting at my home. Many fine dishes were shared including Kay's salmon, rice and cheese casserole, Joanne's homemade crusty rosemary bread, Karen's frosted flakes baked noodle dish (which tasted amazing believe it or not, but definitely a sweet not savory style kugel), Jeanne's spinach noodles with grilled vegetables and much more. I offered up leftover, defrosted lemon cheesecake cups from Noah's graduation dessert buffet the week before as well as this quick and easy Polenta Bake (which earned raves from my friends, discerning cooks themselves.)

Honestly, this wasn't the dish I set out to make. I had vague thoughts of a lasagna or polenta lasagna went I went shopping, but when I got home I literally had only an hour before my company was to arrive, so I vamped and improvised and came up with this easy and luscious tomato-mushroom polenta bake. I apologize for the inexact quantities but I did this on the fly and didn't measure or right down, however it is more of a process based on what's in the refrigerator and/or pantry. Make it soon, make it your own, and leave your friends raving.

Tomato-Mushroom Polenta Bake with Pesto and Cheeses
Serves About 6-8

I know it's not traditional, but making polenta in the microwave is perfect for those nights when you need something fast that's not pasta, rice or potatoes. No mushrooms? Substitute sauteed greens or other vegetable of your choice.

1 recipe microwave polenta
(see recipe below)
2 tablespoons grapeseed or olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1-1/2 pounds of assorted sliced mushrooms (I used a combo of crimini, white button and shitake)
About 1 teaspoon ground French Provencal or Italian seasoning (or a 1/4 teaspoon each of dried, ground oregano, fennel, basil, thyme)
1/8 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 28-32 ounce jar or can of good quality pasta sauce (I used Trader Joe's Tuscan marinara sauce)
About 8 ounces of prepared pesto (I like Costco's Kirkland brand in the big jar), divided
Salt and pepper to taste
Sliced tomatoes (optional), enough to cover the polenta layer
About 16 ounces of fresh ricotta cheese (I used part-skim milk)
Grated or shaved Parmesan
About 4 ounces of fresh mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Make the microwave polenta:
In a souffle dish or other 2.5 quart or larger microwavable dish, stir 1 and 1/4 cups of yellow corn meal into 4 cups of water. Cover with waxed paper and microwave on high for 12-16 minutes, until polenta has begun to set but is still somewhat loose. Stir the polenta once, about six minutes in. (Total time depends on your microwave power). Be careful, polenta will be very hot. Take out of microwave and stir in about 1/2 teaspoon of salt (or to taste) and a few grindings of black pepper (optional) and scrape the polenta into the bottom of a greased (with oil spray or olive oil) lasagna pan or large, deep, round casserole. (I used my 14" round Spanish earthenware casuela.) (Polenta technique adapted from Barbara Kafka's Healthy Microwave Gourmet.)

While the polenta is cooking in the microwave, start the mushroom-tomato sauce mixture. In a large saute pan, saute onions until golden, add garlic and saute until lightly golden. Add mushrooms and seasoning and red pepper flakes. Saute until mushrooms are almost cooked through. (Add a bit of broth or water if needed.) Mix in pasta sauce and 1-2 tablespoons of the pesto sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste and correct the seasonings if needed.

Assemble the polenta bake: Atop of the polenta layer, add sliced tomatoes (if using) in a single layer. On top of that layer, plop on tablespoons of the ricotta alternating with tablespoons of the remaining pesto sauce. Ladle mushroom-pasta sauce mixture on top and spread out evenly. Sprinkle with shaved or grated Parmesan cheese and slices of the mozzarella. Bake until cheese is browned and the dish is heated through (about 30-40 minutes.)

Straight from the oven, this dish is a bit "loose" but it firms up with standing time. It is delicious either way.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Not Your Grandmother’s Beet Borscht

I don’t know if you grandmother made borscht. Mine didn’t. Grandma just opened a chilled jar, plopped the soup into bowls and ladled on the sour cream. Even so it was a refreshing tonic to the humid New York City summers. If your family has a tradition of homemade borscht, this vegetarian recipe is likely to be different because the beets are oven roasted, not boiled, and the beet tops and stems are used, too. (Your beets came topless? Substitute Swiss chard stems and leaves.) This variation also features sherry and or balsamic vinegar.

This light-flavored soup with a zing produces a dark red bowl of borscht packed with beet shreds and greens. It can be served hot, warm, room temperature or cold. Serve with a selection of toppings and add-ins (see the list of suggestions at the bottom of the recipe) and enjoy.

Not Your Grandmother’s Beet Borscht
Serves 6

4 medium beets, about 6-8” in circumference, with tops attached
Vegetable oil spray or oil to grease baking pan
1 cup sherry wine vinegar and or balsamic vinegar (I used a mix of a half cup of each), divided
Salt and pepper to taste
1 small onion, peeled
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
2 cups of vegetable broth or stock
3 cups of boiling water
1 or more tablespoons of brown sugar

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Cut tops from beets about an inch or so from the beetroot. Reserve. Scrub beets but do not peel. You should have about 1 ½ pounds of beets. Spray a baking dish with spray oil product or grease with vegetable oil. Place scrubbed beets in baking dish and pour in half of the vinegar, 1 cup of water and salt and pepper to taste. Bake until the beets can be easily pierced by a fork, about 1-1 ½ hours depending on the beets. (I’ve had beets that took less time and ones that have taken more.) Turn the beets in the liquid mixture occasionally while baking uncovered. (Add water if pan starts to dry out.) Set aside to cool. Once cool, cut tail end of root and top stems off of each beetroot. Peels should rub off, if not scrape or pare off with a knife. (Use plastic gloves or put a gallon size plastic bag on each hand to prevent staining.)

Roughly chop reserved beet stems and tops (or substitute Swiss chard stems and leaves). You should have four lightly packed cups. I used about a cup of the chopped stems and the rest were the chopped greens. (Save remaining tops and stems for other uses.)

Grate cooled, peeled beets with the onion.

Heat the 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the chopped stems and tops and sauté until greens are wilted and the stems are starting to be tender when you bite into them. (About 10 minutes.) Add in grated beet and onion mixture and sauté for a moment. Add the 2 cups of vegetable stock. Stir. Add in the 3 cups of boiling water and salt and pepper to taste (the amount will depend on how salty your stock is, but I used ½ tsp of salt and 1 tsp of pepper). Stir to combine, bring to a simmer. Let simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes (adjusting heat if necessary). Taste. The beet shreds should be cooked through but still have a little crunch. Add the remaining ½ cup of vinegar and the 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. Stir in well and taste. Add more brown sugar if required.

Serve hot, warm, room temperature or chilled. (Be sure to taste the soup at the temperature you plan on serving it and adjust the seasonings accordingly. The temperature will make a difference to the taste. In general cold dishes need stronger seasonings than warm ones.) Garnish with any combination of the following: boiled, sliced potatoes, sour cream or yogurt, chopped hard boiled egg, diced cucumber and/or minced dill or mint.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Noah Graduates

Well, I haven't actually gotten around to the post promised below.
But watch this space for a Noah graduation pix.
We had a dessert buffet for him at home after his graduation.
All in all a wonderful day.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Watch This Space

Graduation Shamtuation -- I'm going to stay up late and post something tonight or tomorrow on Asian greens.

I hope.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Update and Paella from the Archives

Work has been punishing and with graduation almost upon us lots of little details to deal with after hours, plus the Future Architect needs open heart surgery in a month (to fix a congenital defect the original surgery at 5 months old didn't). Plus I've discovered scramble on facebook (shame!). Anyway, I do have lots to post, just no time. I hope to catch up with you all soon.
Don't give up on me. Lots of great posts and recipes in the archives.

Try this one for paella. I just made a version of it a few nights ago for a teacher of FA's who wanted something to perk up a month long stay in the hospital.