Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Shaker Lemon Pie

It's citrus season in California and I've hit that time of year where I'm trying to use up my lemons. I found this recipe in the Sacramento Bee last week and was excited to find a new lemon dessert, particularly one that's a little different, but comes from a reliable source. The Shaker society of Ohio is the source of some really good home-style recipes. This one is described as a mix between lemon marmalade and lemon curd. It's a double crust pie: use your favorite recipe or one from the store (I like the Pillsbury roll-out one). I'd give you mine, but it's a work in progress. This recipe would also be really good with Meyer lemons, if you have access to any. This recipe does have an overnight component.

Shaker Lemon Pie
3 medium or 2 large organic lemons, thoroughly washed and stems trimmed off
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup sugar (additional!)
3 tbsp flour
1 tbsp butter
4 eggs
2 uncooked pie crusts
sugar for garnish

Slice the lemons, rind and all, paper thin. If possible, use a mandolin on it's smallest setting. I used a 1/32" myself. After slicing the lemons, place in the bowl, pick out the seeds and add the 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Mix, cover and refrigerate at least overnight. (Mine stayed there for a few days.)

8+ hours later, layer lemons on top of uncooked crust, sprinkle layers with the 1/2 cup sugar and the flour. Melt butter in a bowl, add the eggs, mix thoroughly, then pour over lemons. Top with second crust, seal edges well, cut slits and sprinkle with sugar if desired.

Bake at 450 F for 15 minutes on a cookie sheet, then reduce heat to 400 and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes. Pie is done when golden brown on top and an inserted knife comes out cleanly.

Cool to room temperature before serving. Serves 6 to 8.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Red Beans!

I know to many people beans and rice are kind of boring. But so many cultures have their own variety, and I love that I can make a different variety almost every week (and I do!) I really like Cajun-influenced food, but traditional red beans have an odd texture and feature andouille. I've worked hard to make a version with a great texture and a lot of flavor, without the fat and cholesterol. And who doesn't want cheap and healthy? I use dried beans since they're lower in sodium and I think they taste better. Feel free to substitute 2 cans of beans, and simmer 30 minutes before adding the rice and peppers.

Red Beans & Rice
4 oz dried red beans
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1 1/2 tbsp Cajun seasoning (I like Tony Chachere's, but Zatarain's is also good)
1 green bell pepper, finely diced
2 cups uncooked rice (I use brown)

Rinse and pick through beans. Put in a pot, cover with 1 inch water and bring to a simmer. Add onion, garlic & celery and simmer covered until the beans are tender and edible. Add seasoning, and add more if necessary until the liquid is slightly salty. Add bell pepper and rice. Cover and cook until the rice is done.

Serves 4 big portions or 6 lunch sized portions. Top with hot sauce if desired.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Carrot & Fennel Soup

I'm starting back to this blogging thing slowly. It seemed like everybody included fancy photos, and I'm not a photographer, but I do know food, so that's what I'm sticking with. Before I've always cooked fennel the same way: roasted with garlic & topped with parmesan. But I'm on this soup kick lately, so fennel soup it is. I wanted to balance the licorice-ishness with some sweet and savory.

Carrot and Fennel Soup

2 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, diced
1 potato, diced
1 fennel bulb, with greens, diced
6 cups vegetable broth

Over medium low heat, melt butter, then add onions. Cook until very tender. Turn the heat to medium, add garlic and rest of the veggies. Sautee, stirring occasionally, until the veggies begin to brown. Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook until vegetables are cooked through, about 30 minutes.

Serves 4 to 6.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Brightening Up Winter

Even though I worked last week, I had New Year's Eve and New Year's Day off, which really left 2 short week-ettes. So, that leaves this week feeling like my first back after a while. Tonight, I was determined to whip up a quick dinner before going out to a salsa lesson. I was so pleased to have a dinner of all local ingredients, use up more of my oranges and then go be healthy and social. Well, it turns out salsa starts next week, but at least I have a fun new recipe to share with you.

Greens in Orange Sauce
1 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 bunch greens, destemmed and chopped
juice of 1 medium orange (about 1/2 cup for those not trying to burn through oranges)
1 tsp soy sauce
3 gloves garlic, minced
1/2 inch ginger, peeled & minced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (or more)

Heat 1/2 tbsp oil in the bottom of a medium sauce pan over medium heat. While heating up, lightly beat eggs with garlic powder, then cook until just firm. Set eggs aside.
Heat rest of oil in the same pan, still over medium heat. Add greens. While they begin to soften, mix remaining ingredients, then pour over greens in pan. Allow to cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until greens are tender. Add egg back in, stirring to evenly distribute sauce, and cook until sauce has mostly evaporated. Serve over rice.

Serves 2.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

I Like Parsnips

Yes, the statement "I like parsnips" is worth of a post title all of it's own. I've never actually tried them before, because they just seemed gross, right up there with turnips and brussel sprouts. I'm still not a huge turnip fan (but I'm always open to more ideas!) and haven't brought myself to try brussel sprouts yet. It's tough being a reformed picky eater.

But anyways, I could no longer avoid parsnips, as I've gotten several in recent weeks from my C.S.A. and I hate to waste food. Lately, I've been wanting to make some lentil soup, and since I mentally associate lentils with root vegetables, I thought it might be a good way to mask any undesirable flavors. When I pulled out the parsnips, I was going to discard the greens, then realized that I do like turnip greens, and well, greens never hurt lentil soup, so might as well throw them all in too.

Turns out, the title is a lie. I love parsnips. They're firm, slightly sweet and just so nice tasting. I actually wish I had more to cook with! And that's a dangerous statement to make. Last time I wished for more produce, with my beloved pomegranates, I ended up with over a dozen. But hey, I can eat parsnip and lentil soup all year long. That's what freezers are for after all.

I'd like to point out that with most of my soups, particularly those that start with onion, garlic and carrots, normal people throw in celery. However, it's not one of my favorite flavors, it doesn't come in my C.S.A. box so I'd have to buy it special, so I don't add it. If you like celery, have it on hand or want to bulk up the veggies in the soup, please feel free to add it.

Lentil and Root Vegetable Soup
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch ginger, peeled and minced
2 medium carrots, diced
2 parsnips, peeled and diced, greens reserved
1 cup lentils
4 cups vegetable broth or bouillon
greens from 2 parsnips, chopped

Heat oil in the bottom of a large stockpot over medium high heat. Add onions, garlic and ginger, and sautee for 2-3 minutes until very fragrant. Add carrots and parsnips, cook for another 5 min until onions are soft. Stir in lentils, coating thoroughly, and heat for another 2 minutes. Add broth, and simmer covered for 20 minutes, until lentil are soft. Stir in the greens, cover and cook for an additional 5 minutes until tender.

Serves 4-6.

My Oops Tradition

As a Southern, born and bred, I know I'm supposed to eat black eyed peas and collard greens on New Year's Day. Except for 2 years in a row, I found myself in the pantry with a can or two of pinto beans, but no black eyed peas. Since then, I've given up and decided that fate wants me start the year off with pinto beans. I hardly ever make this dish, but every time I do, I'm surprised by how much I enjoy it and swear I'm going to make it more often. As it is Southern and involves beans, the original recipe called for bacon or fatback. My personal substitution for that flavor is to throw in a dried chipotle: it adds smoke, heat and tons of flavor. And if I'm in the the mood for the added fat, I throw in a hunk of butter. Mmm, butter. Anyways, put these beside some of my favorite greens, a sweet potato or piece of cornbread, to feel nice and Southern yourself.

Smokey Pinto Beans

1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 dried chipotle
2-3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp white or apple cider vinegar
1 14 oz can pinto beans, or 1 cup dried, soaked and simmered
salt and pepper to taste

Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium pot over medium to medium high heat. Cook uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes have broken down and sauce has thickened. Add beans, and cook for another 15 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender. Remove chipotle before serving.

Serves 4.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hippie Muffins

With a New Year starting tomorrow after a holiday season of celebrating with lots of food and drinks, a lot of people are planning to eat healthier and drop a few pounds, myself included. I know that one of my down falls is not eating enough or any breakfast, then later when I'm starving, stuffing myself with whatever's handy.

These muffins, easily made vegan by substituting soy milk, provide a good punch of fiber and protein to keep me full, and add some fruit and a little bit of healthy fat to my diet. Plus, they actually taste good, particularly with a little dab of butter or almond butter I made in the last post.

Hippie Muffins

1 1/4 cup milk
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 mashed bananas
1/3 cup applesauce
1 cup dried fruit in bite size pieces (cut up peaches for this batch)
1/2 cup nut pieces (I used pecans)

Preheat oven to 400 F and grease or line a muffin pan.
Add lemon juice to milk, and set aside to curdle while mixing other ingredients.
Mix flour, oatmeal, zest, baking powder, baking soda, salt & cinnamon thoroughly. Stir in bananas & applesauce, then milk and finally fold in dried fruit and nuts.
Fill muffin cups 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full.
Bake for 18 min or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Makes 12 muffins, for roughly 200 cal apiece, if you like to count.