hello, gorgeous! – part 2

I could probably write two or three more columns about garden veggies but the cool weather will be moving in soon. Here are the recipes from my latest column in the Aroostook Republican and the Star-Herald. Then I’ve posted a few bonus recipes here: stuffed eggplant, grilled green tomatoes, and a variation on ratatouille (with bacon!). Click to follow me so you never miss a new post, and get a printable version of all my recipes.

horseradish cream & bacon-topped brussels sprouts
These tangy horseradish-cream-topped brussels sprouts are just the thing to serve with corned beef and potatoes, or alongside a baked ham or turkey. Look for sprouts with tight, firm, small deep-green heads; if they’re still on the stalk, so much the better. To prepare, peel off outer leaves and trim the stems.

ingredients

  • 1 1/2  pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 4 strips crisp-cooked bacon, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

directions

  1. Place a steamer basket in a large saucepan, add 1 inch of water, and bring to a boil. Put brussels sprouts in the basket and steam until tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
  2. Mix bacon, sour cream, horseradish, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add brussels sprouts and toss to coat.

cabbage & cheddar pie
This unusual combination is delicious and can be made ahead of time, refrigerated, then baked when needed.

ingredients

  • Your own basic pie pastry or 1 pkg. prepared, rolled pastry
  • 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 Tbs. canola oil
  • 1 large onion, halved, thinly sliced
  • 7 to 8 cups thinly sliced green cabbage (about ¾ of one head)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs

directions

  1. Warm oil in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, sprinkle with a bit of salt, and cook, stirring often, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Add cabbage, reduce heat to medium-low, cook cabbage, partially covered and stirring often, 15 to 25 minutes, or until very soft. Add the sugar and more salt and pepper to taste. (If mixture seems too dry, add water as needed by teaspoonfuls.) Remove from heat; mix in sour cream and mustard.
  3. Place pastry in the bottom of a deep dish pie pan and crimp edge. Refrigerate 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°.
  4. Add cheese to filling, and stir gently. Spoon filling into pie shell, smoothing top. Sprinkle with crumbs. Bake 40 minutes, or until golden brown. (If top starts to over-brown, cover with sheet of foil.) Garnish with fresh thyme or mint from the garden. Let cool 5 minutes.

green tomato chutney
A great way to use up your green tomatoes, this can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or frozen for many months. This makes about 2 cups of a wonderfully fragrant and delicious relish to serve with meats and egg dishes or even in a grilled cheese sandwich. I love it dabbed on top of cheddar cheese spread and crackers. Fabulous!

ingredients

  • 1 herb sachet (1 bay leaf, 1 thyme sprig, 3 cardamom pods, and 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds tied together in a square of cheesecloth)
  • 1 cup champagne (or white) vinegar
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced jalapeño pepper (seeds optional)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 4 cups green (unripe) tomatoes–peeled, cored, seeded, and diced
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and diced
  • Salt to taste

directions

  1. In a small saucepan, combine herb sachet with vinegar, white wine, water and sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook until syrupy and reduced by two-thirds, about 40 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Add shallot, ginger, jalapeño and garlic and cook over medium heat until softened, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes and syrup with the sachet. Cover saucepan and simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
  4. Stir in mustard powder and cayenne. Cover saucepan and continue cooking over medium-low heat until tomatoes are tender, about 10 minutes longer. Remove saucepan from heat. Discard the sachet.
  5. In a medium skillet, heat remaining teaspoon of olive oil. Cook bell peppers, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8 minutes. Fold into the chutney. Season with salt, transfer to a lidded container, and let cool to room temperature before using.

TIP – You can make larger batches and put up in jars for gifts, but eliminate the oil and cook red bell peppers in the pot with the tomatoes.

veggie stuffed eggplant
This is an easy to prepare dish that sticks to your ribs !

ingredients

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup chopped zucchini
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper
  • 3/4 cup seeded chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup toasted wheat germ (or you can use bread crumbs or tempeh)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Dash crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

directions

  1. Cut eggplant in half lengthwise; carefully remove pulp, keeping a 1/4-in.-thick shell in tact. Cube pulp; set shells and pulp aside.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, saute onion and garlic until onion is tender. Add the mushrooms, zucchini, red pepper and eggplant pulp; saute for 4-6 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes, wheat germ, parsley, thyme, salt, pepper and pepper flakes; cook for 1 minute.
  4. Divide mixture evenly between the eggplant shells; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Place on a baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 20-25 minutes or until shells are tender. Yields 2 servings.

grilled green tomatoes
These are a fine accompaniment to steak or chicken, and fabulous alongside scrambled eggs.

ingredients

  • 4 large green tomatoes
  • 2 Tbs Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil

directions

  1. De-stem and slice tomatoes in lengthwise slabs about ½-inch thick. Marinate 1 hour at room temperature.
  2. Heat grill or broiler on high. Cook tomatoes 5 minutes on first side; flip and cook on other side 4-5 minutes.
  3. Serve hot. Yummy!

baked bacon ratatouille
I love ratatouille; I love eating it; I love making it as it is so colorful, so easy and makes you look like you’ve been cooking all day. This involves slightly browning and softening vegetables in bacon fat before baking so a bit of caramelization occurs and deepens the flavor. This version is even easier than the pot-watching kind I’ve always made and it involves bacon! How can it get more delicious?

ingredients

  • 4 slices thick bacon chopped into ½-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more as needed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small eggplant, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 pepper (red, green, or yellow), chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 small tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 3 or 4 leaves fresh basil, chopped
  • Splash red wine or balsamic vinegar

directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°. In a large oven-proof pan or dutch oven*, cook bacon till crisp; remove and set aside draining on a napkin or paper towel.
  2. Cook the vegetables in the bacon fat one at a time over medium high heat, separately, for 5 to 7 minutes, adding a little more oil as needed and seasoning with salt, in the following order: eggplant, zucchini, pepper, onion, and tomatoes (remember the order by using the acronym EZPOT, a credo of many famous chefs). As each vegetable is slightly browned and softened, remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Add tomatoes last and scrape up all the brown bits in the pan. When tomatoes are done, add garlic and cook, stirring till fragrant. Add the thyme and basil, and season with salt and pepper. Place all of the other cooked vegetables back in the pan in reverse EZPOT order (onions, peppers, zukes, and eggplant on top).
  4. Place in oven and cook for 55 minutes till bubbling. Remove from oven, stir gently to mix, add vinegar splash, and top with bacon. Serve grated mozzarella on the side. Serve with crusty Italian bread or French baguettes. Can be eaten hot, warm, or cold.

*TIP: Never use a pot or lid with a plastic handle or a Teflon pan made for stovetop cooking in your oven. Cast iron or enamel pans work best going from stovetop to oven seamlessly.

PRINT THIS POST! CJ-HELLO GORGEOUS part 2

hello, gorgeous! – part 1

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My tomatoes were grown in containers in my driveway.

do something with those gorgeous garden veggies!
Even if you don’t have your own veggie garden, there are many roadside stands, greenhouses, and farmers’ markets out there where you can pick up an amazing harvest of gorgeous, delicious, and sometimes organic, veggies. I’ve compiled a nice collection of unusual recipes that capture the spirit of the harvest that you and your family will want to enjoy for years to come.

feta and parmesan zucchini bake
This is so easy to throw together and a great way to use up zucchini or summer squash. Since eggs and cheese provide protein, this dish can be served alone with crusty bread for a quick late summer meal.

  • 6-7 medium zucchini or yellow summer squash
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs minced garlic
  • 2 tsp dried thyme or 1 ½ Tbs fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbs lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375° and spray a large casserole dish with nonstick spray. Slice the squash into 1/4″ slices. If they are larger squash, cut them down the middle before slicing into half-moons. Heat the oil to medium high in a large non-stick frying pan. Add the squash, garlic and thyme. Sauté and stir constantly until the squash starts to brown and soften slightly. Don’t cook too long or it will be mushy after it bakes in the oven, and the garlic will burn. Remove from heat.

Beat together the eggs, sour cream, cheeses and lemon juice in a medium-sized bowl. Place half of the squash into the bottom of the casserole. Sprinkle on some salt and pepper (remember the cheeses are salty!) then spread 1/2 of the egg mixture over the top. Repeat with remaining squash and then the egg mixture. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the mixture is bubbling and slightly set. Serve hot.

 

Buffalo Green Beansbuffalo-style green beans
This is an old Weight Watchers recipe I’ve adapted. It serves four, but you can double it.

  • 4 tsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbs orange juice or lemon juice
  • 2 tsp Tabasco or Frank’s Hot Sauce
  • 2 nice-size plum tomatoes, diced, or 1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
  • 2 or 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 pound green snap beans, washed, trimmed, and cooked until tender-crisp and well-drained
  • 4-5 fresh basil leaves rolled and sliced thin, or 1 tsp dried
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper or to taste
  • 1/8 tsp table salt or to taste

Whisk together oil, Worcestershire sauce, juice, and hot pepper sauce. Stir in vegetables, basil, salt, and pepper; Serve hot, or chill for 1 hour or overnight. Divide into 4 portions and serve with blue cheese dressing.

lebanese potato salad
This is a tangy variation on your potato, onion, and mayo version. The ingredients, like lemon, scallions, and fresh mint, make it a popular local dish, and it will be a big hit at potluck dinners, too. It is also very nutritious. You can make this with new potatoes, too. Just reduce boiling time.

Make Ahead Tip: Prepare all the ingredients ahead of time and refrigerate, then assemble just before serving. For a creamier salad, whisk ½ cup of plain yogurt into the lemon juice and oil mixture. Enjoy!

  • 4-5 pounds Round White potatoes (about 6-8 medium)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 6 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 8 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup each chopped fresh mint and fresh parsley

Scrub potatoes; remove stems and eyes. Place in a large saucepan. Cover with lightly salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, 25 to 30 minutes, or till a fork is inserted easily. Drain and rinse with cold water. Transfer to a cutting board. Let cool for 20 minutes. Cut the cooled potatoes into 1/2-inch pieces leaving the skins on.

Whisk lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add the cut-up potatoes and toss to coat. Just before serving, add scallions, parsley, and mint and toss gently.

roasted zucchini coins
This is a cinch to put together. Let the kids help. Be daring! Add sliced mushrooms, onions, or any fresh summer veggie.

  • 2 zucchini (give or take depending on size and how many people you are feeding)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Rosemary (fresh if possible, but dried works, too)
  • Garlic cloves, sliced
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Preheat oven to 375 F.

Cut zucchini into large coins and then quarter. Place the zucchini and garlic in a large zipper bag, drizzle in enough olive oil to coat, sprinkle in some salt and pepper, a bit of crushed rosemary and massage the bag gently to coat. Turn the zucchini out onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes until soft and starting to turn golden in a few places. Spoon into a serving bowl. Garnish with parmesan cheese and pass lemon wedges.

bonus recipe: curried broccoli
This exotic twist on broccoli will have your family asking for it again and again. Healthy, delicious, AND no cooking required! This can also be made using raw cauliflower or blanched brussels sprouts.

  • 1 small crown of broccoli, washed
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 pint or container cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Remove small crowns from broccoli stems, remove skin from stems and slice stems and crowns thinly. Place in bowl. Mix liquids very well and pour over. Toss. Add spices and toss again. Marinate up to 1 hour in the refrigerator. Add chopped tomatoes and mix before serving.

PRINT THIS POST Hello gorgeous part 1 BLOG

bits & basics – part 2

Here are some more cooking basics I continue to make over and over. My basics are foundations for more elaborate dishes with ingredients added to spice up my repertoire in the kitchen. You can do the same to save time and effort.

Basic Nine-Day Coleslaw  If you’re a coleslaw lover like I am, you’ll find this recipe valuable. It is mayonnaise-free, really does keep for nine days, makes a ton of slaw, and is great to bring to a potluck.

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs cabbage
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 2 onions
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup lite olive oil
  • 2 tsp table salt (or 4 tsp kosher salt)
  • 2 Tbs mustard seed

Directions

Chop cabbage, pepper and onion and set aside in a large bowl. Place the rest of the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat and pour over vegetables. Toss well to coat. Place in container or jar and store in refrigerator. Best after sitting one day. Optional additions are raisins, shredded carrots, or green onions.

Basic Fruit Cobbler  This is so easy to throw together. You can use most kinds of fruit or berries—whatever is in season, but it is best with apples or peaches.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups peeled and sliced fruit
  • 1½ cups sugar (divided)
  • ¾ cup flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ cup milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. Pour ¾ cup of the sugar over fruit, mix lightly and set aside. Mix remaining sugar, flour, baking powder, milk, and salt till blended. Place butter in a casserole dish and set in oven. When butter is melted, remove dish from oven, pour in batter, and top with fruit, spreading evenly. Bake 1 hour.

Basic Barbecue Sauce  I find bottled barbecue sauce way too sweet and loaded with all kinds of unpronounceable ingredients. This recipe is delicious, and you control how sweet it will be. You can make large batches and put it up in jars to give as gifts (be sure to check your canner instructions).

  • Ingredients
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbs balsamic or apple cider vinegar
  • 6 Tbs lemon juice
  • 5 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 Tbs butter
  • 2 cups tomato juice
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 3 Tbs (or less) brown sugar
  • ½ tsp celery seed
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Cayenne or red pepper flakes to taste
  • Liquid Smoke to taste (optional but very nice if used sparingly)

Directions

Prepare onions and garlic. Place tomato paste in a large saucepan. Add water gradually till well blended. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to very low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. Adjust salt, pepper, and sugar. Refrigerate in jars. Use within two weeks or so, or freeze in several small containers to extend shelf life.

Basic Roasted Vegetables  What shouts “comfort food” more than oven-roasted veggies? Well, maybe mac and cheese, but really, this is so easy to make and you might even get your kids to eat them.

You can use any root vegetable like potatoes, beets, carrots, as well as apples, onions, fennel bulb, winter squash, and even cauliflower and brussels sprouts.

First, preheat your oven to 425°. Depending on the hardness of the vegetable, you’ll want to cut them according to how long they need to cook. For example, cut carrots and parsnips thin and potato a bit thicker. Apples will not take as long as squash.

You can cut your veggies into chunks or slices. Spread them out on a large cookie sheet with sides. Drizzle with oil (I like extra virgin but you can use whatever you prefer), and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in oven for about 40 minutes, flipping around about half way through, or till browned around the edges. Test doneness with a fork. Remove the cooked pieces to a serving dish and cover with foil to keep warm. Return any undone pieces to the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes or till done. Serve as a side dish with anything. A drizzle of lemon juice and cracked pepper makes it even more yummy. Honey mustard dressing tastes great on this, too.

I added two bonus recipes on my blog last time—basic crepes and basic brown butter sauce—so be sure to log on to get them, and while you’re at it, download a printable PDF, Cook’s Journal-TIPS pt 2 of this post, too!

No posts lately?

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Check out my Stuffed Peppers  recipe on this blog posted in December 2014, “Holiday fare: colorful and tasty.”

Just wanted to explain why I haven’t posted to A Cook’s Journal for a long time. It all has to do with my arrangement with the newspaper and when I send them a column.

I sent a new column in almost a month ago, but they have not been able to get the room to print it because of all the community news and political issues that have mushroomed lately including graduation, local sports, school board disputes, and city secession issues. Really!

Since I’ve granted the Bangor Daily News First American Rights, I cannot post my column online until 48 hours after it appears in the Aroostook Republican and/or the Star-Herald.

Sooo, I’ll try to post some recipes that will not be in the paper but what I’ve been making lately. Please write and comment on what you’d like to see. I welcome all suggestions and submissions! Happy cooking!