Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sweet Potatoes all Winter Long – February 21, 2013

I only recently learned how much I love sweet potatoes.  They are healthier and have more flavor than Russets plus they are great for baking and freezing for when you need then later.  This means I almost always have cooked sweet potatoes in my freezer (especially in the Winter).  Check out my earlier blog about the Great White Sweet Potato which extols the virtues of this great tuber.
Recently I also had bags of shredded Cheddar in a bag left over from making soup.  I admit, I don’t think of these two items going together, but then I found and adapted a recipe from Penzey’s magazine shared by Dane Kuttler.  You can make these fabulous enchiladas with meat or without and they are equally delicious.  I served them with guacamole and sour cream.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas

5-6 large tortillas (I used flour)
2 large sweet potatoes baked and mashed (without the skins)
1/8 c. soy sauce
1/3 c. apple cider vinegar
2 cloves chopped garlic
2 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. crushed pepper
1 15 oz. can black beans
3 cups shredded Cheddar
Up to ½ lb. cooked and shredded chicken, beef or Chorizo (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place potatoes, soy sauce, and vinegar in a heavy pot and cook to incorporate all ingredients.  Add more soy sauce and vinegar if not moist enough.  Add garlic, cumin and pepper.  Cook a few minutes until all is incorporated and bubbly.  Fold in beans and one cup Cheddar.  Fill tortillas with mixture and place all side by side in a 9 x 13 baking pan.  Cover with remaining Cheddar.

If that isn’t your cup of tea, here’s another great recipe for mashed sweet potatoes:

Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Cookies

¾ c. mashed, cooked sweet potatoes
1 c. softened butter
2 eggs
¾ c. sugar
¾ c. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. lemon extract
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
dash salt
¼ tsp. cinnamon
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c. chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  In large bowl, cream potatoes, butter, eggs, sugars and extracts.  In another bowl, combine flour, soda, powder, salt and cinnamon.  Gradually mix the two bowls together.  Fold in chips and nuts.  Drop by teaspoon on ungreased cookie sheet and bake 25 minutes.

One year ago – Oatmeal Muffins and Emergency Biscuits

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Fruits of Our Harvest – February 17, 2013

It was August 24th of 2012 when I blogged about our visit to the orchard to purchase two huge bags of grade out apples and pears.  We canned pears as jam and aigre deux, but there was so much left over I ran out of ideas.  That led to freezing which is almost always the easiest way to put things up for later.  We peeled, cored and sliced the pears with our apple corer/peeler/slicer.  Then, I boiled the pears about five minutes in water before putting 2 cups each into zip lock bags in the freezer.  This may sound like a small think, but when doing this, it is worth the trouble to put your bags on a plate or cookie sheet in the freezer until they freeze.  Some times I forget and the pears fall down between the shelving rungs and freeze there and I cannot remove the bag without breaking up the whole thing.

Any way, I was happy to remember that we had these pears on a cold February day when pear pie sounded like the perfect dessert when friends came for dinner.  I made the pie in a tall sided baking pan so there were piles of pear.  I also did not have a pie crust so I uncharacteristically made my own.  The pie was fabulous, but made even better because we topped it with vanilla ice cream and salted butterscotch topping our friend Mary shared from her homemade holiday gifts. 

 Pear Honey Pie

4 c. peeled, sliced pears (fresh or defrosted from your freezer)
1/3 c. honey
2 T. cornstarch
4 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest
¼ tsp. ground ginger
2 pie pastries
2 T. butter

Toss pears with honey, cornstarch, lemon juice and zest and ginger.  Pour into pie crust and dot with butter.  Cover with second crust and seal.  Cut vents in top crust.  Bake at 400 degrees for 35-45 minutes until golden brown.

As I said, I did not make the butterscotch sauce, but it was so good, I started looking up recipes and many sites had this same basic recipe:

Salted Butterscotch Topping

4 T. unsalted butter
1 c. packed dark brown sugar
¾ c. heavy whipping cream (not ultra pasteurized)
1 T. Vanilla
1 tsp. salt

In a heavy bottomed pan, melt butter over medium low.  Just as melted toss in sugar and stir to wet uniformly.  Continue cooking stirring regularly 3-5 minutes until it is no longer grainy and looks almost liquid.  Pour in the cream and whisk until uniform.  Increase heat to medium and cook 10 minutes whisking regularly.  Turn off and let sit a couple minutes before transferring to a bowl and cool.  Add half the salt and vanilla and taste.  Keep adding to taste you like up to full amount. This will last in the refrigerator for up to a month.

One year ago in 2012 – Croutons and bagel crisps

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Molasses for the Masses - February 10, 2013

Lots of local farmers have honey and molasses to sell in the Fall.  We bought both and used the molasses to sweeten pots of greens, but then started looking for other ways to take advantage of this natural sweetener.  Molasses have a strong flavor that I would describe as from a previous time.  We’re so used to refined sugars, many of us have lost or never acquired a taste for this rich flavor.  I decided to try one old time recipe that would really highlight the molasses taste.  I had heard about shoo fly pie, but never tried it.  The Wood Brothers have a song called “Shoo Fly Pie” that often gets stuck in my head.  Maybe the pie taste will as well.

ShooFly Pie 

1 9 inch pie shell
1 cup molasses
3/4 cup hot water
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup shortening

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a medium bowl combine molasses, hot water, and baking soda. Stir well. Whisk in beaten egg. Pour mixture into pie shell.

Then, in a medium bowl combine flour and brown sugar.  Mix well and cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle on top of molasses layer.

Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.  Lower temperature to 350 degrees.  Bake an additional 30 minutes.

Another great way to use molasses is gingerbread cookies.  These are the chewy ones.  They are all supposed to be great with milk before bed to help you sleep.

Gingerbread Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. salt
3/4 cup margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 T. water
¼ cup molasses
2 T. sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sift flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside. 

In a large bowl, cream the margarine and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg, then stir in the water and molasses.  Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture.  Shape dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar.  Place the cookies 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten slightly.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven.  Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container.

One year ago - Shrimp Shell Stock and Thai Shrimp Soup

Friday, February 1, 2013

Now We’re Smokin! – February 1, 2013

My wonderful mother-in-law, Mary Ellen, bought me a beautiful cookbook for Christmas called Home Made by Yvette Van Boven.  It is beautiful and has the best simple recipes for making almost anything at home.  I was checking it out during the holidays and saw that it had a whole section on smoking.  I considered buying a kitchen smoker you put in your oven, but my husband, John, said we could do it on the gas grill – and he was right.

We had some frozen salmon in a bag in the freezer that was too thin to be very good just cooked as a main course, so we thought this would be the perfect way to use it.  We also had some walnut wood in the basement shop that John cut into chips and some Rum left over from Derby when we made mojitos.  Here is what we did:

Smoked Salmon

1 lb. skinned thin salmon
½ c. dark rum
½ c. brown sugar
¼ c. or less of coarse sea salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
wood chips

Place salmon in shallow dish and soak in rum for 30 minutes.  Pour off liquid and let sit to dry.  You may have to pour liquid off again and/or pat dry with a paper towel.  Mix sugar, salt and pepper and place half in pan covering with fish and placing the remaining mixture over.  Cover with plastic and place in refrigerator 3 – 4 hours.  Soak chips.  Place chips in bottom of grill and heat.  Wipe all the salt mixture off the fish, rinse it off thoroughly with water (or it will be too salty), pat dry with paper towel or allow to sit to dry and place on grill.  Smoke for 15 minutes or longer if desired.  I liked it at 15 minutes.  We did again later for 20 minutes or longer and it was a bit too dry for me.

 I had salmon on salads and on a bagel with cream cheese.  Both were fabulous.  Then, I tried a warm pasta recipe that really showed off the salmon.

Amandari Smoked Salmon Pasta
4 chopped tomatoes
2 chopped shallots
2 T. chopped capers
zest of one orange
2 T. chopped basil
4 oz. shredded smoked salmon
¼ c. olive oil
1/8 tsp. pepper.
8 oz. angel hair pasta
2 boiled and chopped eggs
Parmesan cheese to taste

Mix tomatoes, shallots and capers.  Add next five ingredients.  Cook pasta and mix in sauce.  Top with eggs and cheese.

One Year Ago – Sugared Orange Rinds and Tangerine Chess Pie