late summer fare

Due to technical problems, this post, which appeared in the newspaper in August, never made it into the blog. The recipes are still delicious! —CMT

Summer means eating light. When temperatures rise, appetites wane. Heavy meals don’t appeal to most of us this time of year, and because they put a significant burden on our bodies to digest them we tend to seek out lighter fare. Here are a few ideas that might increase enjoyment of summer meals.

ramen noodle salad

Crunchy, tangy, and refreshing! And it won’t heat up the kitchen.

ingredients

  • 1 (16 ounce) bag coleslaw mix
  • 1 package ramen noodles, crushed
  • 1 oriental flavor seasoning packet from ramen package
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds (I use dry roasted)
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup sugar

directions

  1. Placed dry crushed noodles in a shallow bowl and microwave on high at one-minute intervals, stirring between each, till noodles are lightly toasted.
  2. Mix together coleslaw mix, crushed noodles, and sunflower kernels.
  3. In a small bowl, mix ramen noodle seasoning, oil, vinegar, and sugar and pour over coleslaw and noodles. Mix and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Add sunflower seeds just prior to serving.

variations

  1. If you have toasted sesame seed oil on hand, a drizzle or two before serving is wonderful addition.
  2. Double the amount of dressing (except one package of seasoning is enough) and marinate a cup of diced or pulled cooked rotisserie chicken breast for about 4 hours in the refrigerator.  Drain marinated chicken and add to noodles and vegetables.

spiedies (pronounced “SPEE-dees”)

My husband is from Binghamton, New York, and one summer he took me to the Spiedie Festival. Made popular by Italian immigrants—spiedo means “kitchen cooking spit.” In Binghamton’s industrial heyday in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, “spiedie stands” popped up to feed growing throngs of manufacturing workers in Binghamton, Vestal, Endicott, and Broome County in New York state’s southern tier. Many spiedie stands exist today, and spiedies are still a popular dish at local restaurants.

You can buy prepared spiedie sauce at our local grocery store, but it is so easy to whip up your own fresh version, which has a more authentic flavor. Rub the herbs between your finger and thumb before adding in order to release their essential oils. Beef and lamb are traditionally used—even venison, but lean boneless pork is also excellent. If using chicken, reduce marinating time to 3 hours or less. Other meats can be marinated overnight. This recipe makes six sandwiches.

for the marinade

  • 2 pounds meat cut into 1½ -inch cubes
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ¾ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼  teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano=
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

for the sauce

  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

have on hand

  • Loaf of crusty Italian or French bread

directions

  1. Make marinade and sauce. Combine marinade ingredients in large bowl. Transfer 2 tablespoons of mixture to separate bowl. Whisk in mayonnaise, vinegar, and lemon juice; refrigerate.
  2. Prick meat with fork, cut into 1½ -inch chunks; mix with remaining oil mixture. Depending on meat, refrigerate, covered, for 30 minutes for chicken or up to 24 hours for red meats.
  3. On the day, let meat stand at room temperature for 2 hours. Grill on skewers over hot fire, covered, turning frequently until lightly charred and cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes. No grill? Meat can be browned and cooked through in about 8 minutes in a cast iron pan. A ¼ tsp. Wright’s Natural Hickory Seasoning® (aka Liquid Smoke) added to the marinade will improve the flavor. Wrap bread around meat and drizzle generously with mayonnaise sauce. Serve immediately.

barbecued chinese chicken wrap

You can’t beat the combination of flavors. Lettuce must be uber fresh for the best crunch. Assemble a few hours in advance, and refrigerate. Terrific appetizers or a light summer supper.

ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 pounds thin-cut chicken breast or tenders
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil
  • Coarse salt and coarse black pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 inch ginger root, grated or minced pickled ginger (in Asian foods aisle)
  • 1 navel orange, zested
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced small
  • 1 small can sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin, Chinese barbecue sauce (in Asian foods aisle)
  • 1/2 large head iceberg lettuce, core removed, washed and spun dry
  • Wedges of navel orange

directions

  1. Discard tough stems from mushrooms and slice tops. Chop chicken into small pieces.
  2. Preheat a large skillet or wok to high.
  3. Add oil to hot pan. Add chicken to the pan and sear by stir frying a minute or two. Add mushrooms and cook another minute or two. Add salt and pepper to season, then garlic and ginger. Cook a minute more.
  4. Grate zest into pan, add bell pepper bits, chopped water chestnuts, and scallions. Cook another minute, continuing to stir. Add hoisin sauce and toss to coat.
  5. Transfer hot barbecued mix to serving platter, and pile the quartered wedges of crisp iceberg lettuce along side. Add wedged oranges to platter to garnish.
  6. Pile spoonfuls into lettuce leaves, wrapping in thirds around fillings. Squeeze an orange wedge over top to enhance.

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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