Sunday, March 16, 2014

You Won’t Get Raspberries from These Recipes – March 16, 2014

I hear Spring is coming although you’d never know it from watching the ice bits fall from the sky outside.  I guess it’s a good time to stay inside and cook.  I also am trying to do a bit of Spring cleaning by using up things we put away for the Winter and still haven’t used.  One of these was a bag of frozen raspberries from our backyard and community garden.  I took them out and let them defrost and drain over a wire strainer.  I thought I had about 1 ½ cups of berries, but it was probably twice that.  Unfortunately, I found that the white raspberries which I much prefer due to their mild taste do not freeze well as all.  They were totally mushy and some so icky, I just picked out and tossed.  I guess that will give me the encouragement to just eat them off the vine this year which is how they taste best!  But for now, I picked out 1 ½ cups of the best preserved berries, saved the rest of the strained berries for a smoothie and poured the strained liquid (about a cup) in a small pot with a half cup of sugar on medium-low.

Raspberry Muffins

2 ½ c. all purpose flour
1 T. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 c. sour cream
1 tsp. milk
1 c. sugar
8 T. melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ½ c. berries

Heat oven to 400 degrees with rack in center.  Prepare muffin pans by oiling or inserting cups in about 18 sections.  Whisk first five dry ingredients.  Mix remaining ingredients except butter and berries.  Add butter once it is cooled enough to insure you don’t cook your eggs and mix just until all ingredients are incorporated (lumps are fine).  Then carefully fold in berries.  Drop muffin mix in cups and sprinkle additional sugar on top of each muffin.  Cook 17-20 minutes.

The raspberry muffins are fabulous warm with butter or with lemon curd.

To go with them, I made a raspberry smoothie from the remaining berries. 

Raspberry Smoothie

I c. berries
1 c. milk
½ c. Greek yogurt
4 packs Splenda

Place everything in blender and blend.  Mine was a bit thick but you could add more milk if you prefer or add a half banana if you felt it was too thin or you prefer a thinner yogurt.  The thicker version can just be eaten with a spoon and would be great with toasted sweetened nuts or granola.

Also, about the time everything else had finished, I had a small amount of raspberry sauce that had been thickening on the stove from the raspberry liquid.  You could eat it on yogurt or ice cream or I mixed it with a bit of vodka and lime juice and simple syrup for a yummy purple afternoon treat.

One Year Ago - Egg White Omelet
Two Years Ago - Lemon Curd and Angel Food Cake

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Oh! Okra! - March 2, 2014

This is my birthday week and Fat Tuesday is this week as well, so what better way to celebrate than with okra.  O.K., I know okra isn't everyone's favorite vegetable, but it is mine.  I love that it is warm and buttery and can be made with nothing but a pot of boiling water and a bit a salt.  2013 was a banner year for okra in Kentucky because it was so warm for so long.  I was able to freeze bags and bags of okra pods right from the garden last summer and yesterday I took out the last one from the freezer.

And, don't forget I said it is almost Fat Tuesday which if you have okra means GUMBO.  Gumbo is one of those great recipes that is basically an okra stew that can be made with whatever local meat you have to add.  So, I did use some local chicken thighs, but I love gumbo with big juicy shrimp, so I added those as well.  You can easily double this recipe, but it made a big pot which was plenty for the three of us to each over three days.

Shrimp and Chicken Gumbo

5 c. water
1 1/2 lb. of large raw shrimp (peeled and shells reserved)
1 lb. andouille sausage
1 lb. okra cut in rounds (I used frozen but it's even better with fresh because they don't turn to mush)
4 chicken thighs (or legs)
1/4 c. plus 2 T. vegetable oil
1/2 c. plus 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
5 scallions, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 c. vegetable or chicken broth
4 bay leaves
1 T. Creole seasoning
2 T. file powder

Drop shrimp shells in water in heavy pan and simmer until water takes on flavor of shells (about 30 minutes).  Cut sausage in thin rounds and saute in another pan over medium.  Remove sausage once it starts to brown to a bowl lined with paper towel and use another paper towel and spoon to remove the grease but keep any sausage bits stuck to the bottom.  Add a T. oil and heat to medium.

Add the okra and cook on medium until all the slime is removed and the okra starts to brown and get dry.  Remove the okra to another bowl and add another T. (or two) of oil.  Dip the chicken pieces in flour and place in pan and turn heat to medium-high.  Fry chicken pieces on all sides until the flour browns and remove to another bowl.

Now add the 1/4 c. oil to your pan and heat over medium.  Once hot, slowly add flour to create a thin roux.  Keep cooking while stirring until the roux turns a dark caramel color, 10-15 minutes. Now, add onions and cook until wilted.  Then add garlic, parsley, scallions, bell pepper and celery. Strain the shells from your stock and add it and your broth.  Also add sausage, chicken and bay leaves.  Simmer for an hour.  If you are using fresh okra, you can add now as well.  If frozen, I would add after cooking 30 minutes.

Add the shrimp and Creole seasoning and cook until shrimp are cooked through (no more than 15 minutes).  Add file and allow to sit 15 minutes.  Skim fat, taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Serve over rice.

One Year Ago - Walnut Cake and Canadian Biscuits
Two Years Ago - Homemade Limoncello