Tag Archives: recipe

Something warm and tasty

Autumn brings with it a whole new menu. Out are the grilled veggies and burgers and in come roasted root vegetables, soups and stews. In the summer, the thought of turning on the oven or even stove-top can be exhausting. The heat of summer means you don’t want to make your house any more uncomfortable. Everything changes though in September and October, suddenly cooking is appealing, baking cookies a joy.

Looking for something tasty to welcome autumn? Here is a recipe for one of my favorites, beans and greens. This dish can be used as a main meal or as a side to braised short-ribs, pork chops or a perfectly baked chicken.

Beans and Greens

1 medium onion, chopped
1 t. thyme
1 t. red pepper flakes
1 bunch greens (kale or chard) sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 can white beans (small white beans or cannellini beans)
2 c. diced tomatoes
1/2 shredded Romano cheese
  1. In a large saute pan, heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add onions and cook for about three to four minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Stir in kale stems and cook for another three minutes or until the onions begin to look translucent. Mix in the kale leaves and add the thyme and red pepper. Set on a medium-low heat and let cook for fifteen minutes or until the greens are soft.
  3. When kale is tender, stir in the drained can of beans. Once warmed through, mix in the diced tomatoes and let cook for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove from heat and sprinkle the Romano cheese on top. Serve.

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We all need something cheery

There are many things we turn to when we need comfort and we all need comfort right now. Personally, I bake and eat and bake again. This weekend I’ve been compulsively baking a new, delicious, truly comforting cake that makes you feel safe and satisfied and, believe it or not, a little in the holiday mood. The end product is a dense, chewy cake not quite like a muffin, not quite like a bread…something I can’t find a comparison to.

I’d recommend you try these simple, easy cakes today or tomorrow or whenever you need a little cheer over the next few weeks.

Eggnog Cakes

2 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1T baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. nutmeg
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. butter
2T honey
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
 1 3/4 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. whiskey

Pre-heat to 400 F.

  1. Melt butter and add honey. Take off heat and let cool slightly while you mix dry ingredients.
  2. In large bowl combine dry ingredients and whisk together so it is evenly mixed.
  3. In medium bowl lightly beat eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and whiskey. Continue to mix as you slowly drizzle butter into wet mixture.
  4. Add wet to dry until fully combined. Dough will be sticky and thick but to loosen a little you may add 2 to 3 T buttermilk or cream.
  5. Spray 10 inch round spring-form pan. Spoon batter into pan, using back of spatula to even out. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when poked into center of the cake.

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Savoring a short season

Fall has barreled its way for a far too short stay. In Upstate New York, Spring fails to commit, Summer creeps in them lays heavy in the air, Fall suddenly arrives with gorgeous colors and cooling crispness only to be quickly butted out by bitter, clingy, miserable Winter…Can you tell how much I looove winter?

Anyway, the truth is that September is my favorite month. This is the kind of weather we should have for 12 months not just one. It has clear, sunny skies. Warm, crisp days and chilly nights. September even offers a few wicked rainstorms to keep you on your toes.

Veggies are still abundant in backyard gardens and roadside stands. Summer foods, dinners made entirely of sweet corn are even still possible. But the chilly breezes also make you crave chicken soup, pot roast, clam chowder and stew. Warm, hearty and delicious friends that took a vacation while the sun shone and the humidity hovered. This past week I made my first lasagna of the year, Friday was a roast chicken and Sunday afternoon stew simmered away on the stove top. Soon I’ll have regular pot of chicken stock bubbling and boiling. I’ll freeze the stock by the quart to help me get through the winter.

For now though, I’m going to savor each moment Fall has to offer. Pumpking ice cream, apple pie, roast chicken, sweet potatoes and all the while enjoying the last bits of summer that hang on…sweet corn, salad greens, tomatoes and the like. September means combining all the things I love in the happiest, most relaxed and truly delicious ways. Following is my recipe for Beef Stew. The ingredients list may seem a little overwhelming, but really the whole process is pretty simple.

Beef Stew

2 – 2 1/2 lbs. stew meat or diced chuck
1 T. parsley pesto
1 T. Worcester sauce
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
2 T. olive oil
1/2 c. red wine
1 med. onion (1 inch dice)
1/2 green bell (1 inch dice)
2 cloves garlic – diced
2 large celery ribs (1/2 to 1 inch slices)
2 large carrots (1/2 to 1 inch slices)
1 can petite diced tomatoes (or 2 c. freshly diced tomatoes)
3/4 c. beef stock
1 T. fresh oregano (chopped)
1 large potato (1 inch dice)
1 T. parsley pesto

Marinate the Meat

1. In a large bowl mix meat and parsley pesto. Add salt, pepper and Worcester sauce. Combine completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 3 hours.

Make Stew

  1. Heat oil in a dutch oven or large stock pot. Add meat in groups of 7 to 10 pieces. Sear pieces and remove to paper towel lined plate, repeating until all meat has been seared.
  2. Add red wine and onions. Stir to deglaze the pan. Stir in bell pepper, garlic, celery and carrots. Return meat to pan. Mix in tomatoes, stock and oregano. Cover. Reduce heat to low. Leave for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in potatoes. Cover and cook for another 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Add parsley pesto and any additional frozen vegetables (corn, green beans, lima beans). Stir to combine and let cook for additional 10 to 15 minutes.

If the stew is thin, combine 1 T. flour with 1/4 c. cool water until completely smooth. Stir flour mixture into stew, allowing the stew to thicken.

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Hanging on to summer flavors

This summer will go down in the record books as one of the hottest and driest on record. We’ve been lucky in New York. The worry of drought damage hasn’t disappeared, but the summer storms have finally hit parched fields. In my farm family at least, people are breathing a little easier. And while analysts and economists predict a rise in food costs come fall, I’m currently focused on savoring the taste of summer for as long as possible – well into winter.

 Summertime is the peak for New York vegetables and right now farms are ripe with edible possibilities. My family owns and operates a dairy farm. This means that the fields are full of corn and soybeans, both crops intended solely for the animals we keep and care for. Our garden is pretty pathetic too, thanks to a fertilizer mishap by my father. What it doesn’t mean though is that we can’t reap the bounty of fresh veggies summer offers.

 Anyone can easily enjoy the delicious harvest New York farmers provide. Local farm stands, farmers’ markets and produce auctions are great resources for produce – either a few ears of sweet corn for diner or a few bushels of beans to pickle, can or freeze. My father and mother spend Saturday or Sunday afternoons doing the latter. Freezing farm fresh veggies is an economical, convenient and amazingly delicious endeavor. One afternoon’s labor and $25 or so provides green beans as a side dish for nearly a year. And don’t get me started on the corn which tastes just as sweet and summery in January as it does right off the cob in July.

 Taking the time to preserve local produce connects the consumer to the farmer who raised the fruit and veggies. It continues the heritage of agriculture that has shaped New York State and ensures local agriculture continues in our communities. Most importantly though, it brings a smile to your face in the middle of winter as you savor the taste of summer.

 Here is quick and easy pickle. Though it isn’t processed, or sealed tight to keep in the cupboard till winter, it will keep in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for a month or so.

 Hungarian Pickles

3 large cucumbers (sliced paper thin)
1 t. salt
¼ c. sugar
1/8 c. water
¼ c. distilled white vinegar
½ t. celery seed
¼ t. paprika
½ medium onion (sliced thin)
  1.  In a large bowl, combine the cucumbers and salt. Mix well and set aside for 30 minutes.
  2.  In another bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and stir until everything is incorporated.
  3. After 30 minutes have passed, squeeze the cucumbers to remove most of the liquid. Add the squeezed cucumbers to the brine mixture. Mix thoroughly. Let sit in the refrigerator for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. After the mixture has had time to marinate, remove (with a slotted spoon) the cucumbers and onions and fill canning jars tightly, pressing down often with the back of a spoon. Pour the remaining brine over the cucumber mixture in the jars, filling the jars with liquid up to ¼ inch from the top.
  5.  Place sterilized lids on top of the jars and seal.

 Pickles can be kept in refrigerator for up to one month. I also pickle green beans using this quick and easy recipe.

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Why baking requires the buddy system

My family has a joke about my affection (or lack there of) for the oven. The joke goes that when we owned our catering company I wasn’t allowed to touch the oven. Top of the range was my domain. Cooking, mixing, creating delicious concoctions were right up my alley. But baking? A definite NO.

It is a known fact that I have a minor problem with authority. I find it against my nature to follow directions to the letter. I also may have a small impulse control issue and a need for immediate gratification as well. All these…quirks…are well documented in oral and written accounts. You see, baking is a science not an art form. You need precise measurements, times and temperatures for successful outcomes. What you cannot have is any kind of lack in discipline. I’m screwed.

And, yes, I may have set one or two (or four) towels on fire by grabbing the closest thing to remove an item from the oven instead of the appropriately named oven mit. I, perhaps, have forgotten to set the timer as well and turned bacon, cookies or a chocolate cake into charcoal.

All of these things may or may not be true of the past but not my present. I have worked very hard to overcome my baking barrier. I make coffee cake, bread and even bagels from scratch. Most of what I make is edible and a majority even delicious. But I will admit that I do require a baking buddy to keep me on the path to proper procedure. Someone to double-check the instructions and make sure that I keep an eye to time and temperature.

This is where Leah comes in. Last week we made absolutely beautiful bagels together, but I doubt they would have been if she hadn’t kept a diligent eye on me (wooden spoon in hand). For example, the recipe calls for the bagels to be boiled for 30 seconds per side. I was more inclined to 30 seconds total. Impulse control and impatience in action.

Baking buddies are clearly vital to a successful outcome as you can see from the results below. And the best part? Besides getting to hang out with a great friend for a few hours was sitting down with fresh-out-of-the-oven bagel (plain and spinach) dripping with butter and savoring the moment.

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It may be Lent but…

So, Lent begins today. We were all supposed to have our last hurah over the past week, eating decidently, living vicariously and after last night’s Shrove Tuesday dinner of pancakes we are now meant to give something up for 40 days. I’m not a particularly religious person, but 13 years of Sr. Mary Elizabeth and a Catholic education don’t exactly fade either.

I decided to do something rather than give something up. This year is some form of exercise every day. I’ve fallen off the wagon with the running (must get back on) and my middle has all too happily accomodated the lack of movement.

So, for those of you who have given up chocolate – I’m sorry. And for those of you who are a bit subversive (like me) – enjoy. Being naughty can taste really good.

Oatmeal Brownies

1/3 c. butter

3 oz. baking chocolate

1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 c. sugar

1 c. flour

1/2 c. quick cook oats

2 eggs beaten

1/2 c. buttermilk

1 t. vanilla

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a small saucepan melt the butter, baking chocolate and chocolate chips. Remove from heat.
  3. Stir in the sugar and eggs.
  4. Mix in the flour, oats, buttermilk and vanilla.
  5. Pour into a prepared 8×8 baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

These arerichand delicious so a little piece and a glass of cold milk will go a very long way.

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Edible awesomeness

Can I just tell you how purely satisfied I am with myself right now? I have made the most beautiful, delicious, unbelievably awesome homemade bagels…ever. They are so good that I am making a second batch as I type. And what really makes me smile with glee is that two years ago my mother tried in vain for three months to make bagels and failed left and right. It was the only baking disaster I think she’s ever had. One batch was so salty you couldn’t eat them, another so hard you’d break a tooth, and then there was the infamous ‘clam chowder’ bagel that somehow tasted like, well, clam chowder.

Here are the tempting results!

Anyway, I’m going to spread the love like a great big schmear of cream cheese. Below is the recipe. Make, enjoy and be awesome too. Happy Holiday!

Sponge

1 1/2 t. yeast

2 1/2 c. warm water (between 105 and 110 degrees F)

4 c. bread flour

Dough

2 3/4 t. salt

1 T. granulated brown sugar

3 to 3 3/4 c. bread flour

1 T. vegetable oil

  1. In a large bowl, stir yeast and warm water together. Mix in 4 c. flour until fully combined (but not over worked). Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 2 to 3 hours or until the sponge pushes against the plastic wrap.
  2. In a separate large bowl, combine salt and sugar and 3 c. flour. When the sponge is ready, transfer it to the flour mixture and vegetable oil and incorporate fully. If the dough is too dry add water a 1/4 c. at a time or until dough comes together in a sticky form.
  3. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. Add flour a little at a time if necessary. In the end, the dough (about four to five minutes in) should not need any more flour on the counter because it has stopped sticking. Keep kneading for the full time, dough will be stiff but silky.
  4. Separate the dough into 12 equal balls. To make the whole use your thumb to create the separation and then twirl around your finger on the counter (kind of like a hula hoop). Place the twelve bagels onto a sprayed baking sheet with a little corn meal scattered across it.
  5. Set aside and let rise 20 to 40 minutes. You don’t want them to get too big as they will increase in size when they are boiled and baked, but you do need them to rest and rise somewhat.
  6. Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees F.
  7. Boil water in a large stock pan. Add 1 t. baking soda. Drop bagels in two at a time and let boil for 30 seconds per side (1 minute total) and place freshly boiled bagels onto a baking sheet that has been sprayed and dusted with corn meal. Repeat until all bagels are boiled.
  8. At this point you can pop them into the oven or top them with your choice of whatever (salt, poppy seeds, Italian seasoning, etc.).
  9. Bake for 5 minutes at 500 degrees F. Turn the tray in the oven and bring the heat down to 450 degrees F. Bake for another 5 to 7 minutes or until golden on the top and bottom.
  10. Let cool (if you can) for five or so minutes and then dig in. You won’t be able to stop yourself because they will look so pretty and yummy and tempting.

If you try them, let me know how they turn out.

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