Recipes

Peach Pie for Pi Day

Mmmness.

Mmmness.

Cleaning out the freezer and math happened to collide in our kitchen, so we thought we would share the results.

This peach pie recipe is a take-off on one that was quite popular at our restaurant, and that was a take off on one from The Frog Commissary Cookbook, one of our favorites.

Not that their recipe needed to be changed, it was more a matter of what was on hand in the house.

If you are using frozen peaches, be sure they are thawed and well drained.

Peach Streusel Pie

Line a pie tin with one crust, flute.
We prefer to leave the skins on our peaches, so we cut them into chunks. We put 5 cups into the pie tin, set aside.

Mix together:
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 Tbl. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. coriander
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. dried lemon zest

Set aside.

In separate bowl, combine:
1/2 cup warm water
3 Tbl. milled flax seed
Let soak for a minute, then add:
1 cup kefir or plain yogurt
1 1/2 Tbl. whiskey
1/4 tsp. vanilla

Combine the wet with the dry, and pour over the fruit.
Bake in a moderate oven, 350F, for 15-20 minutes to get the filling to set up a bit.

In the meantime, we make a streusel topping by combining pie dough equivalent to about 1/2 crust with 1 tsp. cinnamon and 1/2 cup sugar. Work it together with your hand or a fork until crumbly. you can speed things up by chopping with a knife after you have them mixed together.

Add 1 cup chopped walnuts.

When the pie is par-baked, carefully remove it from the oven and add the topping. Turn the heat down a bit, and continue baking until done, about 15-20 minutes.

Let it cool before slicing.

Couldn't wait.

Couldn’t wait.

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Wonderful Homemade Knish

Serve with a dollop of sour cream.

Served with a dollop of sour cream.

Most every culture has some kind of filled dumpling recipe.
The Polish serve Pierogies, while the Italian Ravioli. Chinese have numerous and varied recipes from potstickers to things we cannot begin to pronounce correctly.
Do a search on the internet and you will find an abundance of recipes to choose from.

Although we had heard of them for many years, it was only recently that we found knishes for sale at the local market.

Cool, a new food- We’re game.

It was somewhat disappointing though.
The dough was heavy; the knish fried, then cooled, then reheated; the filling bland.
But then, isn’t pretty much any manufactured version of a good recipe usually not as flavorful as it is supposed to be?

So I set about reading up on recipes, and feeling somewhat overwhelmed, decided to just try my own.
Most dough-filled dumplings can be fried, baked or boiled.
The kitchen is cool this time of year, so baked it will be.

The fillings usually center around precooked meat, potatoes or cabbage, and possibly veggies. Pretty broad.

We had some leftover mashed potatoes with turnips and rutabagas in the fridge, along with leftover imitation spicy sausage and homemade fermented sauerkraut.
Perfect.
We mixed it all together, adding a raw egg to help bind them.

Baking is something I have been doing since childhood, and professionally at our restaurant.
For us, the filling was a given- it was the dough that mattered.

We wanted a dough that would compliment the filling rather than overwhelm it.

Corn meal appearance, but able to form a ball.

Corn meal appearance, but able to form a ball.

So here’s what happened:

In a food processor, we added
2 oz. butter
3 oz. hard cheese, we used swiss
3 Tablespoons ricotta cheese
3 Tablespoons Kefir (or yogurt or sour cream)

Pulse this until it looks like cornmeal. You can also do it by hand with a pastry knife or two butter knives.
Slowly add enough flour to form a dough, in this case it was 2 cups. Like many recipes, how much flour to liquid ratio depends on your elevation and on the humidity.

Also keep in mind the less you work the dough, the better the texture will be.

Roll the dough as thin as you can on a floured board.
Fill with your choice of filling, pinch closed using an egg wash, or leave open at the top.
I was concerned the dough might melt some, having never made one with so much cheese in it, so used muffin tins. Turns out the dough held up just fine, so this really wasn’t necessary.
Bake at 350 until brown, about 15 minutes.

Ready for the oven.

Ready for the oven.

We did ours as an open dumpling, but you can also fold the dough over to cover the filling completely.

Forget what everyone told you growing up-
playing with your food is a very Good thing.

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A New Twist on Summer Squash

The tip of the summer squash iceberg.

The tip of the summer squash iceberg.

Three hills of summer squash may seem like two hills too many, unless you have fun ways to serve what you pick fresh.

We had heard of making curly fries from potatoes and sweet potatoes, then learned you can do the same thing with eggplant, summer squash, and butternut squash.

After checking out a few YouTube videos demonstrating slicers, we chose one by Paderno. It seemed to be the easiest and most reasonably priced for what we needed.

According to the directions included, you can also use it to slice and make curly cues from turnips, radishes, cabbage, apples and carrots. Hmm… pretty neat.

Quick and easy.

Quick and easy.

Once we got the hang of it, it did the job quick and is very easy to use.
Mandolin grabbed some of the first batch of crookneck squash shown and added it to some sauteed garlic and roasted onion tops. He threw in baby spinach, fresh basil, a little salt and pepper and a dash of lemon juice.

Mmmm...

Mmmm…

Topped with some Parmesan cheese, it was lunch in a snap.

The rest of the squash curls went into the dehydrator, something we learned in the Facebook group Dehydrating Tips and Recipes.

Ready to store for up to 10 years.

Ready to store for up to 10 years.

No longer is Mandolin saying “Two zucchini plants are at least one too many.”

Instead we are anxiously awaiting that overabundance of summer squash, something we never thought we would be doing.

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Stuffed Texas Onions with an Asian Influence

What do you do with a case of sweet onions from Texas?
Anything you want! :-)

Texas Sweet Onions

We received this wonderful gift from Mr. and Mrs. Jones, jr. and were quite excited to try it, especially the ‘onion cooker’ that was in the box.

Sure enough the little plastic onion shaped device cooks a whole onion in the microwave in a manner of minutes. These onions are uber-sweet, and needed a recipe worthy of their flavor. Hmmm…

Making onion bowls

So we cooked a few peeled onions; when they were cool we sliced them in half and hollowed them out into bowls by pushing from the narrower ends.

In the meantime we sauteed some veggies, adding fresh grated ginger and carrot to the pot as well.

Stuffed onions Asian style

When they were just about ready, we tossed in tofu marinated with Asian seasonings, specifically a little Teriyaki sauce, sesame oil, and some dry wasabi powder.

Seasoning Tofu

Some thin slices of eggplant were pan seared, and stuffed with Feta cheese and rolled.
Everything was placed in the onion, which was heated back up in the microwave.

To top it all off, we used a little warm bechamel sauce and added a fresh garlic scape, just for show.

Pretty enough to eat.

We could say “Voila!“, but that’s neither Asian nor Texan.

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How to Make & Use Flavored Vinegars

This post has been moved to the recipe blog here.
Really, it is worth the extra click.

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The Unexpected Crepe

It was too cold to get much work done in the garden yesterday, but a good day to clean out the canning shelves and freezer.
First I happened upon the last jar of Red Onion Marmalade, whoa! I thought it was all gone.
Of course, this being nigh on a special occasion, I had to make something good enough to go with it.

Red Onion Marmalade

Next I found in the freezer enough small bags of berries left to make a Four Berry Jam. I slightly altered the recipe, and just put together 4 cups total of berries, and added 1/4 cup lemon juice for good measure.

Four Berry Jam

It wasn’t long before a Rhubarb Pie was in the oven and a pot of chili, using leftover tomatoes, onions and peppers from the freezer, was on the stove.
Now we’re getting somewhere! The house is warmed up and it smells wonderful.

Rhubarb Pie

Then a Facebook friend posted a link for making cornbread in a waffle iron, and topping it with chili.
Mmmm…cornbread.
But no waffle iron.
“Instead of a waffle, why not a pancake?” I thought.
“Instead of a pancake, why not a crepe?” my brain answered.

So I doctored a recipe on the bag of cornmeal and this is what it turned into:

2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup corn meal
1/2 tsp. salt
Mix these together, set aside.

Beat 2 large eggs.
Add about 1 1/2 cups of water, or more, to make a very thin batter. Note that the cornmeal will settle to the bottom, so stir before pouring. It also gets thicker as it sits, so add more water if need be.

Grease a hot skillet. Add enough batter to make a crepe the size you want.
The first one was too thick, but tasted good, so I kept going. The second one was too thin and ripped.
So far the dog was happy.

For the third one, I actually swirled the pan about to help spread the batter thin.
Flip when it’s all bubbly, then remove from heat and let cool just enough to handle.
Stuff with chili. If desired, top with salsa.
In the picture is a wonderful dark red cherry fiery chili that was a gift from the kids.

Chili in Corn Crepes with Salsa

So yesterday went from too cold to chili.
Yeah, some days are just like that.

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My Big Fat Greek Eggplant

Recently at our local deli, a platter of Eggplant Rollatini caught our eye. So we tried some, and although it was very good and an interesting presentation, it was really nothing more than another version of Eggplant Parmesan.
Challenge accepted.

Gather your ingredients.

Gather your ingredients.

Peel one large eggplant and slice lengthwise 1/4″-1/2″ thick.
Place in colander and salt to remove any bitter taste.

Slice 1/4" - 1/2"

Slice 1/4″ – 1/2″

Saute in a little olive oil until tender:
1 chopped leek
1/2 med-large fennel bulb
1 large clove Elephant garlic

Add:
1/2 each small yellow summer squash & zucchini, sliced
1/2 cup fresh spinach
3 asparagus spears, chopped
2 tomatoes, cut in chunks

These last few ingredients were all leftovers we wanted to use up, and it worked out well. You can also throw in any leftover eggplant.
Add 1 tsp. oregano and a splash of lemon juice, and cook over medium heat until they are about half way done. Let cool.

Combine the flavors.

Combine the flavors.

Add:
4 oz. feta cheese
1/2 cup chopped artichoke hearts
1/4 cup chopped pitted Greek olives

Sear the eggplant.

Sear the eggplant.

Rinse and sear the eggplant slices about 3-4 minutes on each side, until they become pliable. Let cool enough to handle.

Stuff. Or, actually, over stuff.

Stuff. Or, actually, over stuff.

Fill with the veggie-cheese mixture. If your eggplant is sliced thin, you can actually wrap all the way around, overlapping the sides. Mandolin did these thicker, and used skewers to hold them together.
Cook about 30 minutes in a 200 degree oven if all your ingredients are still warm.
If you have let it cool more, cook at about 325 degrees. You just want everything to be heated through.

Garnish.

Garnish.

Ladle some Hollandaise Sauce over the top, garnish with a sprig of fennel.
Homemade hollandaise sauce is worth the effort, but too involved to go into it here.
Recipe serves 4-6.

Of course Mandolin said we should have had a bottle of Windex in the picture somewhere; and I added that if we really wanted it to be vegetarian, we should have used lamb.

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Fresh Fruit Crêpes with Mint Crème Anglaise

This recipe sounds fancy-shmancy, but actually it’s pretty easy.
Crème Anglaise is most often flavored using vanilla beans, but really the sky is the limit when it comes to combinations of fillings and flavors.

Creme Anglais flavored with Fresh Mint.

Creme Anglais flavored with Fresh Mint.

Crème Anglaise Sauce
2 cups milk
3/4 cup fresh mint
1/2 cup sugar
6 egg yolks

Mix the milk and half of the sugar together in a pan. Bring it just to a boil over medium-low, add mint and remove from heat.
Separate the eggs and place the yolks in a bowl with the other half of the sugar. Whisk the mixture to make it light.

Bring the milk back up just to a boil, then slowly add to the eggs, whisking as you go. Do this very slowly, known as tempering, or you will get scrambled eggs. For your first time, it helps to have one person whisk as the other slowly adds the eggs. Once you see how it’s done, you’ll know how simple it is.

Return the mixture to the stove and cook stirring lightly but constantly, until it starts to thicken. The end result should be more like a syrup not a pudding.

Strain through cheesecloth or other strainer to remove the mint and let cool. Give it a stir once in a while or it will get a ‘skin’ on it. When cool enough, refrigerate.

The only thing you need to keep in mind is to not rush the process. Cook it slow and low, and take your time adding the milk to the eggs.

Add the filling.

Add the filling.

Fresh Fruit Crepes

First, make a Pancake Dry Mix:
2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Use 1/2 cup pancake dry mix:
Add 1 egg
1 Tbs. oil
1 generous cup milk

You want this batter to be really thin. Pour into medium-hot preoiled pan and cook as you would a pancake, flipping over when the batter is bubbling and the edges begin to look dry.

Remove from pan and when cool enough to handle, bush one side with the crème anglaise. Add your choice of fruit to one end. It helps if the pieces are about the same size. Roll, using a little more crème anglaise to help hold the crepe closed.

Drizzle with a little more of the sauce, and dust with confectioners sugar. Serve.

If you have leftover batter, you can make more crepes and freeze between layers of waxed paper.

Mmmm... Tasty and Light

Mmmm… Tasty and Light

There are so many possible flavor combinations. While we were enjoying the meal, Mandolin and I came up with a few to try:

Pear-Raspberry with Bourban Crème Anglaise
Peach with Praline Crème Anglaise
Apple-Walnut with Maple Crème Anglaise

Perhaps those leftover crepes won’t be in the freezer all that long.
Any other combinations you would like to suggest?

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Tastes Like, Well…

Like many other people, Mandolin and I have been moving towards a more plant based diet. Of course this means adapting old and finding new recipes. We’ve been using more Tofu; made from soy beans it’s a wonderful source of protein.

Unfortunately there is a lot of GE soybeans out there, so be sure to look for the Certified Non GMO logo on the label, easy enough to find even in our area.

how to press tofu

texture adjustment

Tofu doesn’t have much flavor on its own, but picks up flavors easily. We used to just cube it and toss into stir frys and salads, or slice and deep fry to serve with an assortment of sauces.

Recently a group of friends were talking and the subject of tofu came up. One woman commented that she didn’t like the ‘rubbery’ texture; it was fine if it was turned into something else though. Another friend said “Oh just squish the water out. It’ll look more like chicken.”

Oh really?

fried or baked

fried or baked

As the first picture shows, simply place the tofu in a bowl, cover with a paper tower and plate, and then weigh that down. Give it enough time to get as much liquid out as possible; the drier it is the more texture it will have. We waited about an hour and a half, draining twice in the process. To play it safe, you can let it sit in the fridge.

tofu with sesame sauce

try it with your favorite sauce

So with STW as my taste tester, we set about trying some different marinades. All the tofu pieces were easily sliced using a piece of thread, were lightly fried after marinating.
In an effort to imitate beef, we tried steak sauce and liquid smoke. Although it’s a step in the right direction, two thumbs down.

I tried some that marinated in buffalo wing sauce, also in the right direction but needs more work. Understandably, she stayed away from that one.

Two thumbs up went to the tofu that marinated in sesame oil with a little teriyaki sauce. “This tastes the most like chicken.” she said. Granted it has been years since she ate any chicken, but I would agree.

tofu with hot sauce

spicy, creamy or sweet

Chicken doesn’t have a lot of flavor by itself, not compared to seafood or beef. That’s probably why we tend to add flavors to it, and that’s also why using tofu as a substitute makes sense. I tried one more, marinating it in Italian dressing and lightly breading before frying.
She nodded “yes” as she tasted it, and gave it a Thumbs Up.

“Hmmm…” I thought, “Not-Chicken Parmigana.”

vegan chicken parmigana

vegan chicken parmigana

Better with homemade chunky marinara sauce and dried basil. Now all we need is a little spinach with garlic on the side.
Mmmmm….

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Not Your Momma’s Stuffed Peppers

This recipe is for vegan stuffed peppers, but you can adjust it to what you like. It will make 4 peppers, but we only had 3 to stuff. What remained was enjoyed as a sloppy joe.

vegan stuffed peppers

Colorful and healthy.

You’ll need:
6 oz. Smart Ground vegetable protein crumbles
(or 8 oz. ground meat, cooked and drained)
4 red, orange or yellow sweet peppers
1/2 leek, chopped
1/2 tomato, chopped
1 small carrot, chopped
1/2 cup polenta, chopped
Caribbean Jerk spice
Chipolte spice
Tomato sauce
Hot sauce, optional

Slice the tops off the peppers and remove the seeds.
Put all the ingredients in a bowl. Add a few dashes of each spice, and a little hot sauce if you like it hotter. Add just enough tomato sauce (or salsa or sloppy joe sauce) to make the mixture moist.
Put the tops back on the peppers.

Crock pot stuffed peppers

Slowly simmer.

Place in the crock pot with about an inch of water in the bottom. Cook on low until the peppers soften, about 3 hours.
A few minutes before serving, add a cheese substitute or cheese of your choice. We used pepper jack. Just push it down through the hole in the peppers’ tops. Continue to cook until the cheese melts.

Crock pot stuffed peppers

Add 'cheese'.

Enjoy!

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