17 December 2013, by gj
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.
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.
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.
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.
Categories: Recipes, you are what you eat
10 December 2013, by gj
Butternut and a wee volunteer acorn.
Finally the truth about squash is coming out, and that is that much of the ‘Canned Pumpkin’ on the market is actually Butternut Squash.
We first heard this a few years ago from a local farmer that has provided butternut squash to companies just for that purpose.
Why label something as ‘Pumpkin’ or ‘Pumpkin Soup’ when it isn’t, is beyond me.
It must have something to do with sales, the same way sweet potatoes are often mislabeled as yams.
Kudos to our local Wegeman’s on this score. Over Thanksgiving they had a sign posted explaining the difference, and why they label their sweet potatoes both ways.
Good for them, its a start.
As people become more aware of what they are eating, we are likely to see more things like that. That would be great.
Off the soapbox now and back to the kitchen.
Wash, cut in half or quarters, and remove the membrane from one good sized butternut squash. We threw the little acorn one in for good measure.
Cook however you desire. Some just microwave it. We steam it in the oven, which usually takes about 45 minutes.
When cool enough to handle, remove the flesh from the skin.
We got about 6-7 cups and put it in the Ninja; you can use any food processor. This was really more to pulverize the tablespoon each of fresh ginger and dried lemon zest, plus the handful of dried lemon balm. If you use powdered ginger and lemon juice, skip this step.
We put ours in the crock pot to heat back up, adding another tablespoon each of sesame oil and soy sauce. We also added 4 cups of vegetable broth to thin it out a bit.
That was it, it doesn’t get much easier.
You can save time by cooking off multiple squashes.
Use some for soup and freeze the rest for another meal.
Like Squash Ravioli. Mmmm.
Summary of Ingredients:
1 butternut squash, cooked
1 Tbl. each fresh ginger, lemon balm, lemon zest, soy sauce, sesame oil
Aprox. 4 cups vegetable broth, as needed to get the right consistency.
11 October 2013, by gj
A wonderful way to start the day.
Cheese and bread are often paired together, yet when I suggested these pancakes to Mandolin he responded a little surprised with “Hmmm, that’s an interesting idea.”
I have made then twice so far, once for a little taste-test and again for SaveTheWorld and her boyfriend.
They devoured them so I am assuming they liked them as much as I did the first sample.
We make our own Pancake mix, by stirring together:
4 cups flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 ½ Tablespoons baking powder
1 Tablespoon salt
Store in an airtight jar.
For a small batch of pancakes, just mix together gently:
1 cup dry mix
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup milk
1 Tbl. oil
Grate some Asiago, or other hard cheese.
Pour some pancake batter into a hot greased pan, then quickly add the cheese.
Because I was in an Autumn mood, I also sprinkled on a little pumpkin pie spice.
Proceed to cook the pancakes as you normally would.
The Pear Sauce was made my cooking:
About 3 pounds of pears, pitted and pureed in a food processor.
To this we added 2 cups sugar, a little lemon rind and about 1/4 cup of orange juice.
Cook until it is thick. You can process it in a water bath canner as well.
When the pancakes are ready, top with some warm pear sauce and enjoy!
So far Mandolin has not had the chance to try these, and I do still have a few pears left.
Perhaps tomorrow I will surprise him with a little breakfast; with all the work he has been doing on the house and garden, I’d say he certainly deserves it!
27 September 2013, by gj
Mandolin is great at seeing what we have on hand, and turning it into a wonderful dish. It must be his creative side.
And that’s what he did when the first of the spaghetti squash was ripe enough to harvest. This recipe leans towards Hispanic, and he claims it to be the best spaghetti squash he has tasted so far.
I would have to agree.
A wonderful start.
Take one good sized squash. slice in half lengthwise and clean out the seeds. Place face down in a dripping pan, and add a few inches of water. Cover with foil and bake in a moderate oven until tender. Ours took about an hour.
Let cool, then gently remove the spaghetti-like flesh.
In the meantime, saute:
1 1/2 Tbl. oil
1/4 clove fresh garlic
1/3 chopped onion
2 Tbl. chopped fresh green pepper
2 1/4 oz. can sliced ripe olives, drained
a med. plum tomato, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 pinch chipolte chili pepper
1/4 tsp. sweet paprika
Just before serving, add:
1 ripe avocado, chopped fine
1/2 cup shredded gruyere
Toss in the squash to get it warm.
Top with a little of the cheese and enjoy!
17 September 2013, by gj
Can you believe at our age we have never tasted Salsa Verde? We live such a sheltered life.
Fortunately our daughter in law and son gifted us a bag of homegrown tomatillos. Now was our chance.
I looked in one of the Ball canning books we have and under Tomatillo there was only one entry.
Yeah, you got that right.
So here is their recipe, reprinted with permission of course. And then I’ll tell you where we wavered.
Just asking for it.
5.5 cups chopped, cored, husked tomatillos (about 2 pounds)
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green chili peppers
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs. minced cilantro
2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. red pepper
1/2 cup vinegar
1/4 cup lime juice
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepot. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Ladle hot salsa into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 15 minutes in a boiling water batch.
Yield: about 2 pints
Note: When cutting or seeding hot peppers, wear rubber gloves to prevent hands from being burned.
Here’s how we varied:
I have mentioned before that we were previously licensed food processors, and we are aware of what you can mess with in a recipe, and what you cannot. When you are first starting out canning, please adhere closely to recipes for safety’s sake.
That being said, we knew we needed to keep the fruit to acid ratio the same to be safe, so although we changed some of the spices, we went with a total fruit amount that matched the amount of vinegar and lime juice the recipe called for.
That’s the fruit to acid ratio.
First off, we didn’t have cilantro.
Ack, what? Salsa Verde without cilantro?
Relax, we had the next best thing. Plenty of fresh parsley and coriander. In case you did not know, coriander is the seed that cilantro produces.
And, well, we didn’t have any fresh green chilis. Or so we thought.
Instead we chopped up some red and green dried chili peppers, then realized we actually did have some fresh hot peppers in the garden.
Just not all chili peppers.
A refreshing kind of hot.
Okay, so yeah… our first ever Salsa Verde includes a variety of peppers not mentioned in this recipe.
Are you surprised?
Oh and BTW, it’s awesome… with a hint of lime.
This recipe reprinted with permission. Recipes provided by BALL BLUE BOOK(r) OF PRESERVING. Copyright (c) 2009,
Jarden Home Brands, marketer of Ball(r) and Kerr(r) fresh preserving products.
Jarden Home Brands is a division of Jarden Corporation (NYSE: JAH).
Categories: Recipes, water bath/steam canning
25 August 2013, by gj
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.
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.
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.
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.
Categories: drying-roasting, How to Store, Recipes
11 August 2013, by gj
As the first of the potatoes started coming in, Mandolin got busy.
He started by baking off four medium sized potatoes.
Hint: Insert a butter knife into each potato, and they bake faster. Just be careful though, the knife gets very hot!
When they are cool enough to handle, slice them in half lengthwise and hollow them out. Leave a little potato on the skin to help them stand up better.
Spray with Pam or brush with your favorite oil and return to a moderate 350F oven to brown, for about 15 minutes.
Ready for round 2.
In the meantime, mix the cooked potatoes with:
2 Tbl. chopped scallions
2 Tbl. chopped hot peppers
1/4 tsp. smoked sea salt
1 tsp. chopped fresh lemon balm
2 Tbl. sofrito
Dash of black pepper
When the potato skins are ready, fill them with a heaping spoonful of the mixture.
For extra spicy potatoes, add a little dash of dried chipolte pepper.
Top with a slice of Irish butter and return to the oven for another 25 minutes.
Double spicy on the left.
He preferred the one on the left, the one on the right was plenty spicy for me!
21 July 2013, by gj
A reader shared a link with me for a spinach eggroll that sounded pretty interesting.
I showed it to Mandolin, hoping he would be inspired, and it worked.
He enjoys playing in the kitchen with what I bring in from the garden, and I love it when he cooks.
First he sauteed some onion and garlic in a little olive oil, heavy on the garlic.
To this he added chopped Red Malabar and New Zealand spinach, as well as some red and gold Swiss chard. A little fresh Greek oregano, some chopped carrots and the only tomato that was ripe also went into the skillet.
Last he tossed in some feta cheese, and let it cool down a bit.
In the meantime we considered a sauce. We have been adding minced hot peppers to some chive blossom vinegar and storing them in the fridge until we have enough to make hot sauce. So we added a few spoonfuls of that to about 1 1/2 cups of sour cream.
To take it up a notch he chopped some fresh silver mint and Dragonhead Moldavian balm, which is also a mint but with a nice lemon flavor.
The sauce was so good we could hardly wait for the eggrolls to be ready to eat.
And to be honest, later on that night we roasted some fresh potatoes, and ate the sauce on them too.
11 June 2013, by gj
What do you do with a case of sweet onions from Texas?
Anything you want!
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…
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.
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.
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.
We could say “Voila!“, but that’s neither Asian nor Texan.
9 June 2013, by gj
Making your own flavored vinegars not only saves money, but it gives you the control over the flavor combinations and uses.
Pretty much anything edible can be used, but the most common additions are herbs and fruits. Chive blossom vinegar, pictured here, gives a wonderful light taste to a white vinegar.
Here’s what to do:
1. Use clean, food safe jars.
2. Use clean, fresh, unbruised herbs and fruit. You can also use fruit peels and edible flowers.
3. Heat the vinegar if you like, or just add to the jar and place in the sun. Our general rule is if it can mold, like fruits, we heat it first.
4. Let cool, or remove from sunlight when it is warm. Refrigerate fruit vinegars, place herb infusions in a cool, dark place.
5. The longer it sits, the stronger the flavor gets. Generally give them a few weeks.
6. Strain and keep in a cool place. You can also water bath can if you are making a big batch.
Use as you would any vinegar. This picture is of a vinegar with fresh orange peels, it can be used in cooking or as a cleanser.
Mandolin and I were discussing other ways to enjoy them earlier this morning.
“The chive vinegar would be good for poached eggs” he said.
“How about jalapeno vinegar for poached eggs?” asked I.
“Ooh, yeah, that would be good too. That would be really good in lentil soup,” he continued, “It would help bind all the flavors together.”
I love it when he talks cooking like that.
“How are you going to use the fruit vinegars,” he asked, “other than on salads?”
“I think I’ll make a simple syrup and use them as a glaze. Maybe a raspberry glaze on a pear dish.”
“That sounds really good” he said, and smiled.
Maybe we both like talking about cooking.
Categories: Recipes, saving money & time