Saturday, July 20, 2013

Make Hash Not Trash – July 20, 2013

I LOVE OKRA.  Anyone who knows me knows that okra is my very favorite vegetable.  It has almost no calories, grows and freezes well here in Kentucky and tastes like butter.  I unfortunately haven’t, however, gotten others to embrace its slimy texture.  So, if I’m making it for myself, I simply clean and boil in a pot of salted water before draining and eating the whole thing with a bit more salt.  But, if I’m trying to show its best qualities to others, I look for ways to lessen the slimy joy.  I just recently found a great okra recipe which also happens to be a hash.  Hash is also probably the best way to use up food that would go to waste.  When I was reading the food book from the tenement museum in New York City, they referenced a cookbook from the 1800s which had 18 hash recipes which would have been greatly valued by housewives trying to make the best use of everything they had.  This was probably not one of those but it has a great Indian influence that I really enjoyed.

 Okra Hash

1 T. mustard seeds
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1 minced onion
2 minced cloves garlic
2 tsp. minced ginger
½ lb. diced potatoes
¼ tsp. red pepper
¼ tsp. salt
1 ½ lb. okra in ¼ inch slices
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. turmeric

Heat oil in heavy pan.  Add mustard seeds and cook until they pop.  Add onion, garlic and ginger and sauté 2 minutes.  Stir in potatoes, red pepper and salt.  (Pauls’s Fruit Market had local homegrown potatoes.)  Cover and cook on low 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Uncover and stir in okra, cumin, coriander, turmeric and more salt or pepper if needed.  Cook, uncovered, 10 minutes on low stirring occasionally. 

Because the okra is harvested at the peak of corn and tomato season (and just as the first peppers are becoming ripe), another great option is stewed corn with okra and tomatoes.  This recipe is great with cherry tomatoes too.  I used red and yellow cherry tomatoes.  

Stewed Corn with Okra and Tomatoes

½ chopped sweet onion or shallot
1 chopped jalapeno
1 chopped bell pepper
1 ½ T. butter (or more to taste)
1 lb. chopped tomatoes
3 c. corn (about 3 ears)
½ lb. small okra or okra chopped in ½ inch pieces

Saute onions, jalapeno, bell pepper and 1.2 tsp. salt in butter for 7-9 minutes.  Stir in tomatoes breaking apart as cooking for 15 minutes.  Add okra and corn and cook another 15 minutes until okra slime has cooked out.

One Year Ago - Corn Salad and Sweet Corn Gelato

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Canadian Cherries – July 13, 2013

John and I spent half of our vacation in Montreal, Canada at the International Jazz Festival.  It is the largest jazz festival in the world and we had the opportunity to see many shows including Trombone Shorty, Wayne Shorter (on the occasion of his 80th birthday) and Christine and Ingrid Jensen.  We also rode bicycles around town and ate at several local restaurants.  In addition to Poutine (French fries with cheese curds and gravy), this area of Canada is known for its preserved meats including sausages and pates.  While there, we bought picnic food for the festival which included chicken pate on fig bread.  And, while I didn’t have a chance to try it, there was a wonderful recipe in the newspaper there about how well pickled cherries go with both pate and cheese. 

Cherries are still in our grocery although not as local now as they are in Canada.  But, I just couldn’t resist putting up a half batch for a lovely cheese plate later this summer.  I might add that not only are they lovely on the shelf, but they taste even better than you might expect with a bit of crunch and both a sweet and sour taste.

 Pickled Sweet Cherries

2 c. water
2 ½ c. white vinegar (the Canadian recipe used half white and ½ Balsamic vinegar)
2 c. sugar
5 bay leaves
7-8 whole peppercorns per jar
)The Canadian recipe also added a pinch of cayenne)
3 pounds sweet cherries with the stems removed

Combine water, vinegar(s) and sugar (cayenne as well if using) and bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Clean 5 pint jars and add bay leaf and peppercorns to each.  Pack cherries into jars.  Pour brine over and add lids.  Seal in boiling water for 10 minutes.

One Year Ago – pita bread and cheese

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Best Ice Cream Ever – July 4, 2014

O.K., it’s not red, white and blue, but I was in the market for the best ice cream ever and I think I might have found it.  Well, I must admit, it’s actually gelato.  The difference between ice cream and gelato is just milk fat.  Ice cream is just what it sounds like, frozen cream, where gelato is frozen milk.  You would think that would make the ice cream more flavorful, but it s just the opposite in that the lower milk fat coats the tongue less and allows you to taste more of the ice cream flavor.  The only problem is that milk freezes at a lower temperature, so not all ice cream makers can make gelato.

Fortunately, my sweet husband bought me a gelato maker for Christmas a couple years ago.  I keep several bars of good chocolate in the cabinet just for when I have extra milk to use up.  I almost always make dark chocolate ice cream and I can tell you my secret – extra chocolate.  This time though I wanted something extra and I was lamenting the fact that Comfy Cow just stopped making their Lemon Pistachio Toffee Ice Cream.  The only thing better would be Dark Chocolate Pistachio Toffee Ice Cream.  And, it turns out I was right!  Here is how you make it!

 Dark Chocolate Pistachio Toffee Ice Cream

2 sticks butter
1 c. + ¼ to ½ c. sugar
1 c. chopped pistachios
1 T. corn syrup
1 T. water
3 c. milk
3 T. cornstarch
¼ tsp. salt
7-8 oz. bittersweet chocolate

Break or chop chocolate into small pieces in bowl.  Combine butter, 1 c. sugar, pistachios, corn syrup and water in heavy pan over medium high heat.  Cook 8-10 minutes until one shade darker than brown sugar and you begin to smell a faint burning smell.  Pour on cookie sheet and spread evenly.  Let sit in fridge one hour to cool. 

Meanwhile, bring 2 ¼ c. milk just to boil over medium heat.  Whisk remaining sugar, cornstarch, salt and ¼ c. milk until smooth and whisk into boiling milk.  Bring to boil again and whisk 3 minutes until it thickens.  Remove from heat.  Bring ½ c. milk to boil.  Pour over chocolate pieces and stir until smooth.  Stir chocolate mixture into cornstarch mixture until completely mixed.  Cover in fridge over night with plastic over to keep from forming skin.

The next day, freeze mixture in gelato maker adding about half of the broken toffee at the end of the freezing.  Chill in freezer 1 ½ hours or longer.  Soften as needed before serving with more toffee bits.

One Year Ago - Peach Jam and Sauerkraut