Potato & Cheese Stuffed Poblanos

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Potato & Cheese Stuffed Poblanos -oh yum!  It’s been an unusual growing season here in central Ohio. By this time in the season I’m usually roasting Poblano Peppers to freeze and searching for yet another recipe to add to my growing collection. This year I’ve waited and watched my plants develop a few peppers and have just finally  harvested enough of my favorite peppers to make one dish. Now the dilemma, which one will it be?? In the end it’s determined by another favorite vegetables  – the potato and of course the potatoes will come from my CSA bag.

My earlier post on Crema de Chile Poblano taught you how to roast peppers on a gas range.  Today I’m taking the speed approach and using our gas grill.  It has an additional time-saving element because it’s a task that my husband is great at.  So,  while I do the rest of the prep, he’s out on the deck roasting my precious peppers.

The recipe originates from a February 2011 Cuisine magazine article on Meatless and Delicious and that it certainly is.  In the article the stuffed peppers are paired with a Black Bean Sauté which is also delicious but for tonight’s meal I’m pairing them with some simply grilled boneless, skinless chicken thighs and fresh off the vine cherry and grape tomatoes.  Our dog looks sooo sad because he knows that although he can enjoy the aromas, he won’t be getting a bite!

So finally I get to pick some peppers!  Certainly not a peck but enough for dinner.

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The jalapeno comes from my “garden” as well.

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The peppers go on the grill while I take care of the remaining tasks-so sad that there are so few of them.  Usually the grill is filled.

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I’m using a combo of “red” skinned (Blue Gold from Wayward Seed Farms)  and white potatoes (Kennebec from Dangling Carrot Farms),  but in this recipe most any type of potato will work.  But,  remember the better quality the ingredients, the better the dish. So if at all possible look for some high quality potatoes at your local farmers market.  

 When I’m making mashed potatoes, I usually want a russet like variety, but in this recipe they will be more of a smash, so even potatoes that are of the waxy variety will be fine.  It’s a dice for  the potatoes and a slice for the onion. 

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Into a pot of salted water they go.  Always start potatoes in cold water so the will cook evenly.

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The charred peppers go into a bowl and get covered with plastic wrap to steam.  This loosens the skins, making them easy to peel.

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While the peppers are steaming, slice the scallions and grate the cheese.  Check out those beautiful purple scallions from Clay Hill Farms.   Use both the white/purple part and the green stems.   I forgot the shot for mincing the jalapeno, but you should be doing this now as well.

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When the potatoes are tender, drain and return to the pot over high heat just for 30 seconds or so to evaporate the excess moisture.

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The peppers should be cool enough to handle after 10 minutes.  So pull the blackened skin off (remember not to rinse the peppers, you want all of that lovely roasted flavor to remain), cut a slit on one side and remove the seeds and tough veins and set aside.  

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Add approximately 3/4 of the shredded cheese, the scallions, jalapeno, cream cheese, sour cream, garlic powder and cumin and mash/smash.  I like mine on the chunky side but if you like smooth just keep on mashing until you get the texture you like. Taste and season with salt and pepper and lime juice if you like.  If you salted the potato water well you shouldn’t need any additional salt. 

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Generously fill the peppers and place them on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet.  Top each one with some additional shredded cheese. 

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Bake for 20 minutes or so until the the cheese is melted and golden brown.

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Because a couple of my peppers were pretty small I had some leftover potato ( ya hoo-a start for tomorrow nights dinner).  So I oiled a small baking dish, filled it with the potatoes, topped it with some cheese, covered it with plastic wrap and into the refrigerator it went.  An alternative would be to make little mounds of potato on the sheet pan with the potatoes, top with cheese and bake.

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If you’re having a meatless day, a side of Black Beans (there’s a very nice recipe for Black Bean Sauté that accompanied the original recipe in Cuisine) is all you need for the center of the plate.  Tonight I’m pairing mine with a grilled boneless, skinless chicken thigh and a handful of cherry (Sun Gold) and grape tomatoes from my CSA and garden.  And of course a glass of wine!  The flavors here are bold enough for a light red.  The contrast of the warm, earthy stuffed peppers and the bright fresh flavors of the cherry tomatoes (no need for any embellishment on them) makes for a fine late summer meal.

Buen apitito!

M.B.

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Potato & Cheese Stuffed Poblanos

by: M.B. Einerson

Adapted from Cuisine- Potato-Stuffed Poblanos with Monterey Jack Cheese February 2011 

Servings: 4 (plus some potential leftover potatoes for another meal)

  • 4 large poblano chiles
  • 24 oz. potatoes, cubed, about 2 cups
  • 1 cup sliced onion
  • 1 ½ cups shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack cheese, divided
  • ½ cup scallions-white and green parts, thinly sliced
  • 6 Tbsp. ( 3 oz.) cream cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. jalapeno chili, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 Tbsp. sour cream
  • 1 to 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • 4 tsp. lime juice (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 425° F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

Roast poblanos over a gas burner or on grill until skins blacken.  Alternative if you only have an electric stove to work with is to roast the peppers under the broiler until they are charred and blistered.

Transfer the roasted peppers to a glass bowl, cover them with plastic wrap and let them steam for 10 minutes or so.  Once they are steamed enough to loosen the skins and they are cool enough to handle.  Peel the blackened skin off (don’t rinse), cut a slit along one side of the pepper and remove the seeds and any tough veins.  Set aside.

Put the cubed potatoes and sliced onion in a pot of salted cold water, bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender.  Drain and return them to the pot to allow the moisture to evaporate.

Add approximately ¾ of the shredded cheese, scallions, cream cheese, jalapeno, sour cream, garlic powder and cumin to the pan with the potatoes and mash to the consistency you prefer.  Stir in lime juice if you like and then taste and season with salt and pepper (if you salted the potato cooking water well, you shouldn’t need any additional salt.)

Fill the prepared poblanos with some of the potato mixture, top with shredded cheese and place on the baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes or so until the cheese is melted and golden brown.  If you have extra potatoes that you can’t fit into the poblanos, put them into an oiled baking dish, top with cheese and plastic wrap and refrigerate for tomorrow night’s dinner.  Alternative would be to spoon the potatoes into little mounds on the same baking sheet with the poblanos, top with cheese and bake alongside the peppers.

Buen apetito!

M.B.

Greek Salad

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A simple Greek Salad is another perfect side to the Goat Meatball Kabobs from last weeks post.   As is often the case these days, when I cook there are leftovers.  Rather than simply repeat the meal, I try to switch it up a bit  so I seems like we’re having something entirely different. This is where  today’s Greek Salad come in.  The flavors are light, bright and fresh against the rich meaty goodness of the Goat Meatball Kabobs.  If you don’t have any Goat Meatballs, it’s a great lunch on it’s own or a side salad with any grilled or roasted chicken, burger etc.

The recipe is one I had almost forgotten about from Phase One of our South Beach diet days.     It was so good that in those South Beach days I often took it to potlucks in the neighborhood or work and no one ever suspected it was “diet” food.   It’s also perfect for the season as it highlights the bounty of cucumbers and tomatoes coming from my garden.

If you don’t have the lettuce, the salad of just cucumbers, tomatoes, onion and feta with the lemon, olive oil and oregano vinaigrette is awesome as well.

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Start by whisking the lemon juice, oregano and salt  and olive oil together in a small bowl. Hold back on the salt if your planning to add olives, pepperoncini or other salty ingredients. 

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Add the thinly sliced onion and set aside.  This little soak will take the sharp edge from the onion and give the oregano some time to hydrate.

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Tear and spin the lettuce.  A salad spinner is your best friend if you love crispy greens in you salads.

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Peel and seed the cucumber.  If your using an English cucumber (those long skinny ones that come wrapped in plastic in the grocery store) you can skip the seeding step.   A spoon is the best tool for removing the watery, seedy center from “American” cucumbers.

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Cut tomato or tomatoes into bite size pieces.  Even if you’re using a large tomato I don’t recommend removing the juice and seeds because that’s where most of that great tomato flavor resides.

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Place the lettuce, cucumber, tomato and feta and any other optional ingredients you like in a large bowl.  Pour the vinaigrette over the top and give it a good toss.   

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Lunch is on the table! 

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After I sat down to enjoy this one I remembered that I had some leftover olive oil toasted ciabatta slices and added them to the mix as well to turn this one into Greek Panzanella

Greek Salad

by: M.B. Einerson

Adapted from The South Beach Diet Arthur Agatston, M.D. 2003

 Servings: 2 as a light lunch entrée or 4 as a side salad

  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • fresh lemon juice (usually ½ of a medium to large lemon)
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano (Turkish is best for this salad)
  • ½ tsp. Kosher salt (optional if you’re cutting back on sodium-there is plenty in the feta)
  • ½ cup thinly sliced red onion (1/4 of a medium onion)
  • 4 cups crisp salad greens (approx. 8 romaine leaves, torn into bite size pieces)
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced (if your using an English cucumber you can skip the seeding part)
  • 1 large tomato, chopped or 1 ½ to 2 cherry or grape tomatoes halved ( I usually go high)
  • ½ cup (3 oz.) crumbled feta cheese (reduced fat if you want to keep the calories from fat low)
  • Garnish with Kalamata olives or Pepperoncini Peppers (optional)
  • If you want to make it a bit more filling as a lunch you can add cubes of French Bread or Ciabatta rubbed with a bit of olive oil and toasted and the salad becomes a Greek “Panzanella”

Whisk the oil, lemon juice, oregano and salt in a small bowl.  Add the sliced red onion and let it marinated while you prep the remaining ingredients.

In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, cucumber, tomato and cheese.  Pour the dressing/onion mixture over the salad mixture and toss until coated.  Garnish with olives and/or pepperoncini if desired (just remember these will also add to the sodium level in the salad.

Kalí óreksi!

M.B.

Goat Meatball Kabobs with Tzatziki Sauce

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Have I mentioned I love my CSA’s!  Community Supported Agriculture for those of you who may not have discovered them are not only important from an economic and sustainability standpoint, the food you get from these producers simply tastes better.  I get most of my produce from Great River Organic and meat from a custom CSA from Bluescreek Farms.  The celery I got in this weeks bag actually has flavor and the pork from Bluescreek  is nothing like “the other white” meat sold in the big chain groceries.  The other thing I love about them is that they challenge me as a cook.  Each bag or bundle makes me feel a bit like I’m on Chopped.  Ok, so, I don’t get challenged by having to combine sea urchin with grape jelly but I do have the opportunity to step a bit outside my comfort zone with things like  the star of this weeks post, ground goat.  Actually ground goat isn’t very scary at all, it’s just ground meat with a tad more flavor and less fat  than ground beef.   I could put it in tacos or chili but a quick search online gave me a recipe for Billy Goat Meatballs.  The source is a NPR Kitchen Window Post by Bonny Wolf and her recipe was an adaptation of a recipe from The Meatball Shop Cookbook.  I’ve had some pretty fine meatballs at The Meatball Shop in Brooklyn, so I decided to put my spin on these for tonight’s dinner.  If you aren’t lucky enough to have access to ground goat, I’m thinking that some lean ground lamb or beef would be great as well.

The only special ingredients,  meaning  that I don’t always have them on hand are the ground goat and the goat cheese.  Everything else I expect you may have in your pantry as well.  Don’t skip the goat cheese, it gives a great layer of flavor and keeps the kabobs from being dry little pucks.

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Start by finely dicing/mincing half of an onion and a clove of garlic and stripping the leaves from a few sprigs of fresh thyme (if you only have dried thyme on hand go for it, just remember to reduce the quantity by approximately 1/3)

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Start with the onion, salt,thyme leaves  and some freshly ground black pepper in a small skillet with some olive oil.  

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Saute until the onion is very soft and starting to brown.  Add the garlic and the pepper flakes.  I’m using Aleppo because I like it’s  slight tartness and mild bite but you can substitute regular crushed red pepper flakes or simply omit them.  In other words don’t run to the grocery or let this be a show stopper.

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Almost as quickly as you can stir the garlic and pepper in, remove from heat and put in a small bowl  in the refrigerator to cool.  

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After the onion mixture has cooled, combine it with all of the remaining ingredients-egg, paprikas (I like to use sweet Hungarian for color and Smoked for flavor-), breadcrumbs (I always have Panko on hand, so that’s what I’m using but any type of breadcrumb will be fine).

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I didn’t show it here but, it’s a good idea to crumble the goat cheese a bit.  It will help you mix it in evenly without overworking the meat mixture.

Divide the mixture into 8 equal size logs.  If you’re counting you will see that I failed this bit.   In my haste I only made 7!  But I didn’t want to overwork my lovely little logs so I went with it.

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Wrap the logs in plastic wrap ( plug here for our favorite brand from Costco-every time my husband uses it he raves about it’s superiority).   Then chill for a while to firm them up.  An hour will do the trick but they can easily chill out for several hours or overnight.

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 While the kabobs are chillin you have time to make some Tzatziki to go with the kabobs.  My “secret” ingredient is a bit of mayonnaise, otherwise it’s a pretty standard Tzatziki.  I think the mayo helps bring the flavors together, but if you’re a purist, leave it out and substitute with olive oil.

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Many Tzatziki recipes specify grated cucumber, but I prefer a small dice to give a bit more texture to the sauce.   Peel, seed and toss it with some salt to get rid of the excess water and season the cucumber.  A 10 minute drain will do the job.  If you’re using a thin regular yogurt, you may want to drain it for a bit as well.  I suppose you could use low-fat yogurt, but the flavor will be a bit thin.  I prefer to use full-fat and simply eat a bit less of it.

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Mix the drained  cucumber with the yogurt, some minced shallot/onion,  dill, mint, a clove of garlic mashed to a paste or pressed in a garlic press, a squeeze of lemon juice, a grinding of black pepper and 1 or 2 Tablespoons of mayonnaise or olive oil.

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Top it with a bit of sweet or smoked paprika to make it pretty and put it in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

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Back to the kabobs.  When the logs are well chilled and firm, light the grill and  thread them onto metal skewers.   If you are an apartment dweller with no access to a grill you can pan fry or bake them at 450° F for 20 to 30 minutes.   

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In all cases the internal temperature should reach 165° F.

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While the kabobs are grilling you have time to sauté a vegetable.  I have a bumper crop of yellow crookneck squash and another variety that sprouted up from my compost bin.  It’s the color of a patty pan but ball shaped and has lovely blossoms that I’m including in my sauté.  I could have done these on the grill alongside my kabobs, but I like being able to keep them warm in the skillet while I get everything else on the table.

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A bit of red romaine, a slice of heirloom tomato, a  piece of naan bread , the squash from my garden and Goat Kabobs with Tzatziki Sauce.   I so love summer food!!!

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Enjoy!

M.B.

Goat Meatball Kabobs

by: M.B. Einerson

Adapted from Bonny Wolf’s Billy Goat Meatballs who adapted hers  from The Meatball Shop Cookbook 

Servings: 4 to 6

  • 1 to 2 Tbs. Olive oil, divided
  • ½ medium Onion, finely diced
  • 1 ½ tsp. Fresh Thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp. Kosher Salt
  • Several grinds of Black Pepper
  • 1 clove Garlic, finely minced
  • ½ tsp. Sweet Hungarian Paprika
  • ½ tsp. Smoked Paprika
  • ⅛ tsp. Aleppo or Crushed Red Pepper flakes
  • ½ lb. ground goat or lamb
  • ¼ cup (2 oz.) Goat Cheese
  • ¼ cup Bread crumbs – I use Panko
  • 1 large Egg

 

Heat 1 Tbs. olive oil in a small skillet.  Add the diced onion, salt and thyme leaves and black pepper and sauté until the onions are very soft and lightly browned.  Add the minced garlic, paprikas and pepper flakes and sauté for less than a minute.  Transfer to a small bowl and refrigerate until completely cool.

Combine the cooled onion mixture with the remaining ingredients.  It’s best if you crumble the goat cheese to insure that it gets evenly distributed in the ground meat.  Mix thoroughly by hand and then divide into 8 equal portions.  Roll each portion into a kabob approximately 4 inches in length.  Place on a plate and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.  When the kabobs are well chilled, place onto wooden or metal skewers.

Heat grill to medium to high heat and place kabobs onto hot grates.  Grill on all sides until well browned and the internal temperature reaches 165° F.  Alternative is to pan fry or roast in a 450° oven to the same end temperature.  If roasting, place in a baking dish that has been coated with 1 Tbs. of olive oil.

Enjoy!

M.B.

Tzatziki (Cucumber Yogurt Sauce)

by: M.B. Einerson

Adapted from a March 2014 recipe for Tzatziki in Saveur Magazine 

Servings: approximately 1 cup

  • ½ cup finely diced Cucumber, peeled and seeded
  • ½ Kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 cup plain Greek or Regular Yogurt (if the brand of regular yogurt is very thin you may want to strain it in a cheese cloth or coffee filter lined strainer for a hour or two)
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh Dill or 1 tsp. Dried Dill Weed
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh Mint
  • 1 ½ tsp. fresh Lemon juice
  • 1 clove Garlic, mashed to a paste or pushed through a garlic press
  • ½ small shallot or onion, finely minced
  • Freshly ground Black Pepper to taste
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp. Mayonnaise or Olive Oil
  • Smoked paprika for garnish

Toss the finely diced cucumber with 1 tsp. Kosher salt in a fine mesh strainer set over a small bowl and let rest for at least 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Transfer the drained cucumber to a small bowl.  Stir in the remaining ingredients and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Enjoy!

M.B.

Fruit Cobbler

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It’s been a busy few weeks with little time for taking pictures or writing but this morning I realized I had both a little time and several bits of fresh fruit from my Great River Organics CSA  (Community Supported Agriculture) on hand and Fruit Cobbler  popped into my mind.  The recipe is based on one I got from a good friend and former colleague Carrie Sears.  It’s with her that I first experienced the joys of CSA membership.  We shared a Wayward Seed CSA share for several years and not only was it great to  enjoy the fresh, locally grown produce but we also got to share recipes and ideas of what to do with our bounty.   On one particular week we were discussing what to make with the lovely plums we had just gotten in our bag and she told me about the Fruit Cobbler she made.   This version of Cobbler  is much easier than the Cobblers I grew up with which consisted of a large rectangular pan of fruit topped with a pastry crust.  Not that making a pastry crust is time consuming or difficult but this type of cobbler is even easier and ever so tasty.  So when you have a bit of extra fruit on hand and are craving something sweet, this could be on your table too.

The ingredients are likely things you have in the pantry and refrigerator already.  Sugar &  spice, flour, butter, milk, baking powder, vanilla, a pinch of salt and the random fruit you have hanging around.  I didn’t find any evidence of it,  but my logic tells me it could have been called cobbler because  the early British settlers made it from what could be cobbled together from the ingredients and equipment on hand.  This would explain why there are so many different styles and versions of the same type of dish.  Some have a pastry crust, some a biscuit or scone like topping and some a simple cake or pancake like batter like this one.    The thing they all share in common is that they taste great and are simple to prepare.

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Preheat the oven to 350°F and melt the butter in the dish you will use for baking.  Today I’m using a rectangular baking dish but a 9 or 10 inch pie plate would work as well and would force the batter to rise over the fruit a tad higher.

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Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt (if you are using unsalted butter) and warm brown spice of your choosing in a small to medium sized bowl.  Today I chose coriander because I love it’s faint citrusy character, but cinnamon, nutmeg or allspice would be great as well. 

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Add the vanilla to the milk.

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Prep your fruit.  Today I’m using a some blueberries, plums, a peach and a few blackberries.  The total amount should be 2 to 2 1/2 cups of bite size fruit pieces.

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Whisk the milk into the flour mixture.  

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Pour the batter over the melted butter-do not stir.

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Arrange the fruit pieces evenly over the batter and again do not stir.  

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Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until the fruit is nice and bubbly and the batter mixture had turned a golden brown.

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Serve it warm as is or as as I like it with a little splash of heavy cream.    Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream are great as well, but this was my breakfast.   I guess I could have gone with a dollop of lowfat yogurt but I do so love Snowville creamery heavy cream!!

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Enjoy!

M.B.

 

Fruit Cobbler

by: M.B. Einerson

Adapted from a recipe given to me by my good friend and former colleague Carrie Sears

 Servings: 4 to 6 (but easily doubled in a 9 x 13 baking dish to serve 8 to 12)

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter (if using salted omit the salt in the recipe)
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. warm brown spice (I like coriander for its slightly citrusy character but cinnamon or nutmeg or allspice are great as well depending on the type of fruit you are using).
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • 2 to 2 ½ cups fruit, in bite size pieces – any single or combination you like, plums and peaches are two of my favorites.
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar (optional-it really depends on how sweet and ripe your fruit is and how sweet you like your cobbler, it will give a nice crunch to the top as well)

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Place the butter into a glass pie plate or 8 x 11 or smaller glass baking dish and place in the oven to melt.  The larger the dish the less the batter will rise up to cover the fruit.

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and spice and set aside.  Add vanilla to milk and set aside.

Prep the fruit if needed.  If you’re using blueberries, raspberries or blackberries etc. your good to go.

Whisk the milk into the flour sugar mixture until smooth and pour over the melted butter, but do not stir.  Distribute the fruit evenly over the batter and again do not stir.  The fruit will settle into the batter as the cobbler bakes.  Bake until the fruit is bubbly and the batter is golden brown, this should take approximately 45 minutes.

Serve warm as is or with some heavy cream, whipped cream or ice cream on top.

Enjoy!

M.B.

 

French Green Bean & Roasted Potato Salad

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At long last my table is filling with the bounty of locally grown produce.  To celebrate I’m going to make  French Green Bean & Roasted Potato Salad.  The recipe comes from one of my favorite non-profit organizations Local Matters and stars green beans grown in my front yard along with new red potatoes and crispy romaine lettuce from my Great River Organics CSA market bag.

This post will give you a bit of an idea of a few of the things I enjoy besides cooking in my kitchen and writing for this blog, but rest assured they don’t fall far from the tree.

The first is as a volunteer for Local Matters (http://local-matters.org/).  This local non-profit does incredible things in the Columbus community and beyond to positively impact our food system and I’ve been volunteering with them for over 5 years now.  The first thing that got me hooked as a volunteer for them was the fact that they were going into pre-schools  and teaching kids and teachers about  recipes like this that came from various parts of the world.  So fun and rewarding to see food that didn’t come through a drive-through or from a box bring a smile and request for more!

In the time since I first started volunteering with them,  the number and types of programs Local Matters offers has grown dramatically. They literally reach from garden to table  and the impact they have on individual’s food choices and culinary skills among the myriad of other things is truly amazing.   My joy in volunteering for them however doesn’t stop at the important work they do.  It gives me the chance to work alongside  wonderful like-minded individuals such as their executive chef Laura Robertson-Boyd who first shared this recipe with me.

My other main ” volunteer”  gig is as a bag packer for Great River Organics CSA (http://www greatriverfarms.org).  Each week my husband and I get a first  peek at the goodies that will be delivered to a growing number of individuals in the Columbus area who choose to eat produce that  is locally and organically grown by a group of farmers that care about providing superior products, rewarding those in the time-honored profession of farming and respecting our environment.   In the literal sense we work for food because at the end of our shift we go home with some of the best produce to be found in Columbus.   Having grown up on a family farm where most of the food on our table came from our garden and pastures, I love the challenge/opportunity of creating great meals from the things that Great River Organics and I grow.   The other bonus of this gig, like my Local Matters work,  is that it allows me to work with yet another group of amazing people.  One of them is so amazing that she invited us to join a group of her friends on a cultural and culinary adventure to Italy last year.  I’ll save this story for another post(s)!

But back to the subject of this post.  This week I was able to harvest just enough green beans from my front-yard garden (I’m slowly but surely replacing things that are just ornamental with plants that either the bees and I enjoy) to go with the lovely new red potatoes and romaine lettuce from my Great River Organics bag.   Lunch just doesn’t get much better than this – at least until the vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes and sweet corn come along!

As with many great recipes, the list of ingredients is short which means that each one gets to shine and the quality is extra important.  So head to the farmers market or your garden and choose the freshest produce possible.  In my case I only have to step outside my front door for the beans.

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New red skin potatoes get a medium dice, a splash of olive oil and a sprinkle of kosher salt. 
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Then into a a 425° F oven or 400°F convection oven to roast until just tender and lightly browned.  They will tend to stick a bit to the foil, so use a gentle touch to stir/ flip them about half-way through the cook time.  Resist the temptation to eat them all as soon as they come from the oven.   
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While the potatoes are roasting, blanch and shock the green beans.  Don’t forget to salt the blanching water and have your bowl of ice water ready for the shock.  I like to use a salad spinner as my shocking vessel because it allows me to drain the beans easily and give them a spin to remove the excess water.  Beans are ready for the plunge into ice water when they are bright green and tender to the bite.  
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Next the vinaigrette.  Today I’m using a country style Dijon because it’s what I have in the refrigerator.   My personal favorite brand is Maille, probably because I had the good fortune to visit Dijon many years ago and bring home a pot of fresh mustard.  So each time I use this mustard I’m reminded of the beauty and great food to be found in the French country side and the wonderful people I met there.
The process of making a vinaigrette is simple.  Whisk the mustard and vinegar together,  then  slowly drizzle in the olive oil as you continue to whisk.   At end,  season with a little freshly ground black pepper.  
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Finely mince a shallot (if you don’t have a shallot some onion will do) and sauté in a bit of olive oil until translucent.
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Toss in the green beans and potatoes and heat until just warm.  Add the fresh tarragon or parsley ( tarragon is definitely the classic flavor for this dish, but try as I might, it is just “not my favorite” so I substitute flat leaf parsley).   Add the vinaigrette and give it another toss to combine. 
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Plate on a bed of sturdy lettuce and lunch is served.  
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 Bon Appétit and pat yourself on the back for a job well done!
M.B.

French Green Bean & Roasted Potato Salad

by: M.B. Einerson

Barely adapted from a Local Matters recipe by Chef Laura Robertson-Boyd, Executive Chef 

 Servings: 2 main course or 4 side dish

  • ¾  lb. of redskin potatoes, medium dice
  • 1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • ½ lb.  green beans, snapped into ½ inch pieces (haricot vert are classic for the dish but any fresh green bean will be fine)
  • 1 tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 small to medium shallot, minced
  • 1 Tbs. fresh tarragon leaves or flat leaf parsley (optional)

Vinaigrette              

  • 1 ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 ½ tsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly grd. Black pepper
  • 4 cups Romaine or other sturdy lettuce, torn (optional but highly recommended )

Pre-heat oven to 425°F.   Toss diced potatoes with 1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil and kosher salt.  Spread in a single layer on a foil lined baking sheet and roast for 30 to 40 minutes or until just tender and lightly browned.   Stir once, half-way through the cooking time.

Blanch green beans in salted boiling water until just tender and immediately plunge into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.  This is called blanch and shock.

In a bowl, whisk the mustard and vinegar together. Slowly whisk in the olive oil.  Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Sauté the shallots in 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil in a skillet that will also hold the beans and potatoes.  When the shallots are translucent, add the cooked beans, roasted potatoes and a pinch of kosher salt.  Heat until just warm.  Add the fresh tarragon or parsley leaves.  Stir in the vinaigrette.  Serve warm or at room temperature on a bed of lettuce.

Bon Appétit
M.B.

Tomato and Cheese Tart

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To celebrate one of the first days we’ve been able to sit on the patio for a while I decided to make a long time favorite Brunch/Appetizer-Tomato, Basil & Cheese Tart.   It doesn’t exactly fit into the healthy category, but as long as the portions are small and it’s accompanied by a light green salad (I actually didn’t even put any dressing on my lettuce and tomatoes) it’s a fine way to celebrate a beautiful  Sunday in July.

The recipe comes from one of my friends in the neighborhood and has been served at many a party by both of us.  In fact,  until writing this post it was always referred to as Colleen’s “Quiche”. How it ever got that name I don’t recall,  as the only eggs that make an appearance in it come via the mayonnaise that binds the cheeses in the filling.  It does have a bit of a quiche-like appearance however with its lovely golden brown crust and top of melted cheese, so perhaps it can be considered a distant cousin of that other fabulous brunch dish.

In any case it’s definitely worth giving a try when the garden is filled with basil and the tomatoes are bursting with flavor.  I’m thinking that I may even revisit it later this summer and turn it into a BBT & C  (Basil,Bacon,Tomato & Cheese) tart.  Because as I was enjoying it for brunch this morning it occurred to me that the only thing that could make it even more tasty would be a bit of crispy bacon in the mix.  All things in moderation of course, so I’ll wait a while before indulging in that!

The first thing you may notice are some things on the left,  that from afar resemble curled green onions with no white end.  They are garlic scapes, that today I’m substituting for the garlic in the recipe.  They are one of the harbingers of spring at the local farmer’s markets and they have an amazingly long shelf life if you store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.  If you ever see them be sure to give them a try. 

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I almost always have an extra disk of pastry dough in the freezer, so won’t be making any today.  If you are in a rush I suppose you could use one of the pre-made kind, but homemade is so much better and it’s really easy once you get the hang of it.

 The dough I currently have  is a 1/2  of a recipe for a single crust pie, left over from some classes I teach, so I’m down sizing the tart today and using an 8 inch tart pan instead of the 9 to 10 inch that the recipe is written for.   I like to use this size when I’m making this as an appetizer because it gives nice little small slices and I’m a big believer in small quantities of things that taste great!  

In any case it’s an easy recipe to adjust as exact quantities of ingredients aren’t critical to success.

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Roll the crust to approximately 1/8 inch thick and 2 inches in diameter larger than the tart pan or pie plate.

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Roll the dough over the rolling-pin and transfer to the center of the tart pan.  Once it’s in place, gently roll the excess crust to the inside of the pan and press into the ridges.  Be careful not to pull or stretch the dough.

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With the dough in place, line the crust with foil and fill with pie weights.  I keep a bag of beans in my pantry for this.  Just don’t ever try to cook them after they’ve been serving as pie weights as they will never be anything but bean rocks.

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Bake the crust with the pie weights in a 450° F oven for  8 to 10 minutes.  Remove the foil and beans and dock (prick) the entire surface of the crust with a fork.  Return the crust to the oven and bake for another 2 to 4 minutes or until it is lightly browned.  If the crust puffs up, gently press down with the fork to release the steam.  This is called blind baking the crust.  It helps keep the crust from becoming soggy during the final baking.

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Set the crust aside to cool and reduce the oven temperature to 375°F.

Now you’re ready to prep the filling.  Grate the parmesan, shred the mozzarella, thinly slice the tomatoes (if you want you can put them on a paper towel to soak out some of the extra juice), mince the garlic scapes or garlic and chiffonade the basil. 

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Sprinkle the bottom of the cooled crust with approximately 1/3 of the mozzarella (1/2 cup if you’re making an 9 or 10 inch tart).  Top with tomato slices, basil and minced garlic or garlic scapes.

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Mix the remaining shredded mozzarella, grated parmesan cheese, the mayonnaise and some freshly ground black pepper and spread over the top of the tart.  Don’t worry if the mixture is thick and won’t spread evenly, it will melt and spread as it bakes.

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Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown.  You will want to place it on a baking sheet or place foil on the rack under the tart to catch any butter that drips from the tart pan as it bakes.

My favorite trick for removing the rim of the tart pan is to set it over a can and let it gently fall to counter.

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Garnish it with a bit more fresh basil and you have a lovely hors d’oeuvre for a summer party or a great brunch dish that only needs a bit of fresh salad. 

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The tart was so rich and tasty I didn’t even add any dressing to my salad.  But in hindsight a splash of balsamic would have been lovely.

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Bon Appétit!

M.B.

Tomato, Basil & Cheese Tart

Colleen’s “Quiche”

by: M.B. Einerson

Adapted from a recipe given to me by  Colleen 

 Servings: 12 appetizer servings or 4 to 6 entrée servings

  • Pastry for a single 9 to 10 inch pastry crust rolled fit pie plate or tart pan it should be approximately 1/8 inch thick and have a ½ inch overhang
  • 1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 5 to 6 Roma or small round tomatoes or the equivalent in cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 2 to 4 cloves garlic minced or two garlic scapes thinly sliced.
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, sliced into a chiffonade, plus more for garnish
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450°F

Place unbaked crust in a 9 or 10 inch pie plate or tart pan with removable bottom.  Turn the overhang under and flute or press into the sides of the tart pan.  Line with foil and fill with pie weights.  Bake for 8 minutes.  Remove foil and pie weights, dock the entire crust with fork pricks and bake an additional 2 or so minutes more, until lightly browned.  I the crust has puffed, gently press down with a fork or spoon.  Set aside to cool.

Reduce oven temperature to 375° F.

Cut the tomatoes into thin slices, wedges or halves depending on the type you are using.  You can drain on paper towels if you like but I love the flavor of the juice, so I sacrifice a bit of crispy texture for bigger flavor.

Sprinkle the bottom of the cooled crust with ½ cup of the mozzarella.  Top with tomatoes, garlic and basil ribbons.

Mix the mayonnaise, remaining 1 cup of mozzarella, shredded parmesan cheese and black pepper.  Spread this mixture over the top of the tomatoes.  Don’t worry if it’s a bit thick and won’t spread smoothly or evenly.  As the cheese melts it will spread over the tart.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown on top.  Cool slightly and serve warm or at room temperature.

Bon Appétit

M.B.

 

Bloody Mary’s

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As I told you last week, the perfect accompaniment to a great cheese soufflé is a Bloody Mary.  The preparation of this one has always fallen into my husband’s hands, so as I’m a bit tied up with gardening and teaching cooking classes this week I’m going to share his version of a Bloody Mary.

The origin of the recipe is a little red volume of  Mr. Boston Deluxe Official Bartender’s Guide New Worldwide Edition.  It’s another of those little gems that has been in our family since the late 1970’s.  The printing we have is the 54th, but the original dates back to 1935, two years after the repeal of prohibition.  A pretty busy two years for the Boston Bartender’s school to amass some 600 recipes (the “new” version has over 1000).   My husband’s version actually combines ingredients of the Bloody Maria (a tequila based beverage) with the Bloody Mary.  I’m not going to vouch for the complete accuracy of all of the measurements because he never measures!   However the measurements are close to those found the Mr. Boston and who’s going to argue with 70 years of success.

The special ingredient for this batch is some of my homemade tomato-vegetable juice, but any good quality tomato or tomato-vegetable juice blend is fine.  

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We mix them directly into the glass which makes it easy to personalize each one.  I like mine heavy on tomato and lemon juice.  Start with the ice cubes and vodka and then pour in the tomato juice.

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Squeeze in some lemon juice and add a splash of Worcestershire sauce.

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Top it off with a few drops of hot sauce , a sprinkle of celery salt and a grinding of black pepper. 

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Give it a good stir with a chopstick and taste to see if you need any adjustments.  When you’re happy, insert a stalk of celery.   Now all you have to do is wait for the Camembert Soufflé to arrive at the table.

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Cheers!

M.B.

 

Bloody Mary

by: M.A. Einerson

Adapted from Mr. Boston Deluxe Official Bartender’s Guide New Worldwide Edition copyright 1935, 54th printing August 1974  – Cost $2.50

Servings: 1

  • Ice cubes
  • 1 ½ oz. vodka
  • 3 oz. tomato juice, V-8 juice or a combination of the two
  • ½ tsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 to 2 dashes Tabasco sauce
  • 1 dash celery salt
  • A grinding of black pepper
  • 1 small stalk celery with leaves

Fill tall glass (16 oz.) glass ½ to ¾ full of ice cubes.  Pour in vodka and add tomato juice, lemon juice, and the next 5 ingredients.  Stir well.  A chopstick works well for this job.  Garnish with celery.

Cheers!

M.B.