Friday, 23 August 2019

Watermelon Lime-Ginger Slushies

I used watermelon from last year that was already in the freezer to make this. Since watermelon is about the worst fruit for someone who is avoiding sugar, most of last years crop is still there. I know I have seen Ontario watermelons for sale, though.

We are only growing the golden-rind watermelons this year, more because we want to finish the breeding project than because we want watermelon. It's been a really terrible year for growing watermelon and we struggled to get a sufficient number germinated and growing early on. Once it finally warmed up they did okay, but they were so behind I worried they wouldn't ripen before it got cold again. However, there are lots of smallish but okay fruits out there, and the vines are starting to yellow, so presumably ripeness is not too far away. Meanwhile, this was a lovely treat on one of the very hot muggy days we've been having.  

4 servings
30 minutes advance preparation
chill time in between
10 minutes to make the slushies

Watermelon Lime Ginger Slushies

4 cups frozen watermelon pieces, without seeds
2 cups water
1/4 cup sliced ginger
the zest of 1 lime
2 tablespoons honey

The watermelon must be frozen at least 2 hours in advance. Cut it from the rind and pick out the seeds. Freeze the watermelon in pieces no larger than an inch thick and which will fit into your blender or food processor.

Meanwhile, put the water, sliced ginger, and lime zest into a pot. Be sure to give the ginger and limes a good scrub before slicing or zesting them, though there is no need to peel the ginger. Bring them up to a simmer and simmer gently for 10 to 15 minutes. While they heat, measure in the honey and stir until dissolved.

Strain the liquid, discarding the solids, and allow it to cool then keep it chilled until you are ready to make the slushies.

Put half the frozen watermelon and half the lime-ginger syrup into the blender or food processor, and process until very smooth. Pour into 2 glasses. Repeat with the remaining frozen watermelon and syrup for another 2 servings, then or at a later time.

Last year at this time I made Beans & Cherry Tomatoes in Mint Vinaigrette

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Greek Feta-Stuffed Peppers

In spite of a slow start, we seem to be getting a reasonable crop of peppers and the tomatoes are coming along as well.

I spotted this recipe on Pinterest and once I started looking it showed up quite a bit in several different versions. Many of the recipes call for a little bacon or ham. I didn't put any in, but as we were eating it I did think that slight smokiness they provide would be a good addition. If you wanted to keep it vegetarian, a little smoked paprika would give a similar effect.

This was invariably described as an appetizer but I served it with a quinoa pilaf as our meal. Four servings if that's how you have it, but it would stretch to at least 8 servings as an appetizer. I only had enough peppers to use half the filling, so the next day the other half got stretched out with a few other ingredients (bread crumbs, cheddar) and used to stuff zucchini, which were then cooked in a very similar way. We enjoyed those very much too.

4 to 8 servings
1 hour 10 minutes - 40 minutes prep time

Greek Feta, Parsley & Tomato Stuffed Peppers

Prepare the Peppers & Tomatoes:
6 6" green frying peppers to 18 3" green frying peppers
450 grams (2 to 3 medium, 1 pound) firm beefsteak tomatoes

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Put a pot of water on to boil for the tomatoes.

Wash the peppers, and cut a fine wedge from the side of each one. Extract the seeds and core, but leave the stem-end on the pepper. Put them in an oiled roasting pan that will hold them all snugly but in a single layer, and bake them for 15 to 20 minutes, until showing signs of softening and browning.

I added the strips cut from the peppers and roasted them too. 

Meanwhile, blanch the tomatoes for 1 minute in the boiling water, then rinse them under cold water until cool enough to handle. Peel them, chop them, and arrange them in a strainer, putting them in in layers and sprinkling each layer with a bit of salt. Set aside to drain.

Prepare the Filling & Finish:
2/3 cup finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
OR 1 teaspoon rubbed dry oregano
200 grams (scant 1/2 pound) feta cheese
1 large egg
1/4 cup yogurt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
OR 3 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled

Wash, dry, and chop the parsley and oregano, and put them in a small mixing bowl. Crumble in the feta cheese. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

When the tomatoes are well drained, add them to the mixture.

When the peppers are softened and slightly blistered in spots, remove them from the oven but leave it on. Lift the pepper strips from the pan and chop them. (Carefully; all carefully - they're hot!) Add them to the filling.

Fill the peppers with the prepared filling. Return them to the oven and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, until the cheese filling is soft and slightly browned. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Last year at this time I made Melon, Parsley & Sweet Onion Salad

Monday, 19 August 2019

Broiled Trout with Furikake

We had a family gathering over the weekend and it was time for something special, but quick and easy. I made the furikake - which is a popular Japanese seasoning blend - ahead of time, and then the fish just had to broiled and served.

Furikake was originally developed as a nutritional supplement - it contained finely ground fish bones which added calcium - but it also gave a burst of salty, nutty excitement to rice, fish, vegetables, etc. My take is not particularly authentic, but we really enjoyed it sprinkled on some trout fillets. This should make enough to season up to 8 trout fillets, but don't worry if you are not cooking that many. Save it and use it on lots of other dishes.

I put in some fish sauce to mimic the original base, but if you would prefer to keep it vegetarian you could omit it.

up to 8 servings
15 minutes to make the furikake
15 minutes to cook the fish

Broiled Trout with Furikake

Make the Furikake:
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons hemp hearts
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 sheets of nori

Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the sesame, pumpkin, and hemp seeds. Toast them gently, stirring frequently. Sprinkle with the soy and fish sauces and stir in until absorbed and dried onto the seeds. As soon as they are dry and lightly toasted turn them into a dish to cool.

Toast the sheets of nori over the stove burner, about 3" or 4" above the flame. They will shrivel slightly and curl up. They will also become quite crisp. Crumble them into the bowl of toasted seeds. Put the mixture into a blender or food processor and process briefly until it is a fine, even, crumbly mixture the texture of coarsely ground pepper.

Cook the Trout:
1 filet of trout per serving, 200 to 250 grams (1/2 pound) each

Put the trout fillets on a lightly oiled broiler pan. Cook under the broiler for about 5 to 8 minutes, until nearly cooked. Sprinkle each fillet evenly with about 1 tablespoon of the furikake mixture. Return to under the broiler and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes until the trout is cooked. Serve at once.

Last year at this time I made Meatball Pilaf with Green Beans & Peppers

Friday, 16 August 2019

Tomato Egg-Drop Soup

Soup in the summer! When it cooks as quickly as this, it's an entirely reasonable thing to have. Especially with tomatoes fresh from the garden. Especially when the tomatoes in question were on the ground, being nibbled by slugs. A little trimming fixed that, but nicely sliced it wasn't.

It may not be your typical cream of tomato soup, but I would still be very inclined to serve this with grilled cheese.

4 servings
20 minutes prep time

Tomato Egg-Drop Soup

2 large (500 grams; 1 pound) tomatoes
2 green onions
3 cups unsalted chicken OR vegetable stock
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons corn starch
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil
salt to taste
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Blanch and peel the tomatoes, by dropping them into boiling water for 1 minute then transferring them to a basin of cold water. Peel and chop them coarsely, and set aside.

Wash and trim the green onions. Finely chop the white ends and about half of the green parts finely and set aside; finely chop the remaining greens and set them aside by themselves to use as a garnish.

Measure 1 cup of the chicken stock and set it aside; while it is cold mix in the soy sauce, vinegar, cornstarch, and pepper.

Break the eggs into a small bowl and whisk until smooth.

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the onions to be cooked, and stir them around for a minute until well wilted. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes are softened and slightly cooked down.

Add the 2 cups plain chicken stock and bring up to a good simmer, then whisking the soup slowly, pour in the beaten egg slowly, to form longish streaks of cooked egg.

When the soup comes up to the simmer again, stir up the chicken stock with the cornstarch in it again, and mix it in. Stir frequently. Taste to see that the amount of salt is right; add a little if needed. Season with the sesame oil, and serve at once, sprinkled with the reserved green onion.

Last year at this time I made Bruschetta Margharita

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Zucchini & Tomato Salad with Basil & Balsamic Vinegar

Fried zucchini is the best zucchini; we all agree on that. Even if you are eating it as a salad. Fresh tomatoes are finally showing up and the basil is big and bushy. Garlic is harvested and curing in the shed... so here they are; the definitive flavours of late mid-summer.

4 servings
45 minutes prep time

Zucchini & Tomato Salad with Basil & Balsamic Vinegar

2 medium zucchini
12 to 16 cherry tomatoes
OR 4 to 6 salad tomatoes
2 sprigs (about 8 or 12 large leaves) fresh basil
1 clove of garlic
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil

Wash, trim, and slice the zucchini. Wash and de-stem the tomatoes, and cut them in half if they are cherry tomatoes or in slices of about the same size as the zucchini slices if they are salad tomatoes. Wash and dry the basil, and shred it finely. Peel and mince the garlic.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the zucchini slices in a single layer until well-browned on each side. Remove them to a plate lined with paper towel as they are cooked. You will likely need to cook them in 2 or 3 batches. Sprinkle the garlic over the last half dozen or so slices in the pan, and let them cook for just a minute - don't let them brown. Be sure to scrape all the bits out with the zucchini when they are done.

When all the zucchini slices are done, blot them well and start layering them on the serving plate, sprinkling them with the shredded basil leaves, and salt and pepper. Interleave the tomato slices with the zucchini slices as you go. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar and olive oil over each layer. Serve at once. The zucchini should not be hot, but it should still be a little warm. And the tomatoes, of course, are never let anywhere near a refrigerator and will be at least room temperature. If they are still a little warm from the garden, so much the better.

Last year at this time I made Black Bean, Corn, & Tomato Salad with Avocado.

Monday, 12 August 2019

Thai Basil Fried Eggplant

Our first eggplant out of the garden! It's a little late this year, like an awful lot of things. We planted all our remaining basil seeds in the spring and it turned out about two-thirds of it is Thai basil. Since I've decided not to freeze pesto this year, that's fine, I guess, but I'm going to have to find more things to do with it. This was a very good start! Next up, the ubiquitous zucchini and green beans, probably cooked in a very similar way. 

2 to 3 servings
30 minutes rest time plus 30 minutes prep time

Thai Basil Fried Eggplant

Prepare the Vegetables:
3 small (500 grams; 1 pound) slender oriental eggplants
1 large onion
1 green, yellow, or red pepper
1/2 cup loosely packed Thai basil sprigs

Cut the stems from the eggplants, and then cut them from top to bottom in half; cut each half in halves or thirds again to form long, thin strips. Put them in a strainer and sprinkle them generously with salt.

Peel and sliver the onion. Core and de-seed the pepper, and cut it in long, thin strips. Remove the basil leaves from the stems, discarding the stems and rinsing the basil well. Set it aside to drain thoroughly.

Make the Sauce:
3 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon red chile flakes
OR 1 to 2 small orange thai chiles 1 teaspoon arrowroot or cornstarch
2 teaspoons Sucanat or dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar

Peel and mince the garlic, and put it in a small bowl. Remove the stem and mince the chile, if using fresh, and add it to the garlic. If using dry chile flakes, add them to the bowl. Add all the other sauce ingredients and mix them well. Set aside. 

Finish the Dish:
3 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
1/2 of a large lime, cut in wedges

Heat the oil in a large wok or skillet over high heat. Rinse off the eggplants, and lay them in the pan to fry, skin-side down. Sprinkle them with a couple tablespoons of water. When the water is gone and the eggplants are cooking, turn them over. Continue cooking, sprinkling on a little water again. Once it evaporates and the eggplants start to brown, add the onion and pepper. Continue cooking and stirring until they too soften and acquire brown spots.

Mix in the basil leaves, and immediately mix up the sauce ingredients again, and add them to the pan. Continue mixing well until the basil is wilted and the sauce coats the vegetables. Transfer everything to a serving dish and serve garnished with the lime wedges.

Friday, 9 August 2019

Green Bean & Cauliflower Salad in Gremolata-Tahini Dressing

Without the garlic, lemon zest. and tahini, this is a dressing I have been making a lot this summer. It works well with low-fat (half the calories) mayonnaise, and I can put it on a chicken and vegetable salad and have a lunch that comes in around 350 calories.

Even eating it twice a week, I'm not tired of it and so I decided to use regular mayonnaise and gussy it up a bit, and have it again. We were very happy with the results. The tahini and garlic make it even livelier, and the parsley, beans, and cauliflower were a very good combination.

4 servings
30 minutes prep time

Green Bean & Cauliflower Salad in Gremolata-Tahini Dressing

Prepare the Salad:
2 cups trimmed, chopped green beans
3 cups cauliflower in small florets
1 cup finely chopped parsley

Put a pot of water on to boil the vegetables. Wash, trim, and chop the beans into bite-sized pieces. Wash the cauliflower and break it into small florets.

Add the beans to the water and set the timer for 6 minutes. Stir them well. After one minute, add the cauliflower. When they are cooked, rinse them in cold water until cool then drain them well. Put them in a salad bowl.

Wash and dry the parsley, removing any tough stems or damaged leaves. Chop it finely and add it to the salad.

Make the Dressing:
1 clove of garlic
the finely grated zest of 1/2 of a large lemon
2 tablespoons tahini
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons mayonnaise, light is fine
the juice of 1/2 of a large lemon

Peel and finely mince the garlic. Put it in a small bowl. Add the lemon zest, tahini, mustard, salt, and pepper. Mix until well blended and lump-free.

Add the mayonnaise and work it in until the mixture is smooth. Add the lemon juice, a spoonful at a time, working the mixture well between each addition to keep it smooth. Once the dressing is liquid enough, the rest of the lemon juice can be added at once and stirred in.

Toss the salad in the dressing and serve.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Spaghetti Nerano

I serve pasta with zucchini all the time, but only recently did I start looking to see if there are any traditional Italian takes on the concept. You would think so. And what do you know! Here's one.

I found this tasty, but a little greasy. I say "but", but it isn't as if those two concepts are in any way contradictory. Still, next time I would blot that fried zucchini a little better and really wipe out the pan before I put in the butter. 

2 to 3 servings
30 minutes prep time

Capellini Nerano

1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves
125 grams (1/4 pound) provolone cheese, grated
60 grams (2 ounces) Parmesan cheese, grated
500 grams (1 pound; 2 or 3 medium) zucchini
mild vegetable oil to fry the zucchini
225 grams (1/2 pound) spaghetti or other pasta
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
another 2 tablespoons shredded basil leaves

Wash and pick over the basil leaves, and cut them in shreds - don't forget to set aside a bit to garnish. Grate the cheeses. Set these all aside until needed.

Wash, trim, and slice the zucchini a little less than 1/4" thick. Put on a large pot of salted water to boil to cook the pasta.

Heat enough oil to coat the bottom generously in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini slices in a single layer and cook them until lightly browned on each side. Remove them to a plate lined with paper towel as they are done, adding more slices to the pan to cook as you go. When the zucchini is all done, remove the pan from the heat. Wipe or drain out any excess oil from the pan. Blot the cooked zucchini fairly well. Add the butter to the pan and let it melt, but don't return it to the heat yet.

Meanwhile, when the water boils cook the pasta for the time listed on the package. Just before draining it, ladle out about 1/2 cup to use as part of the sauce and retain it. Add the drained pasta to the large skillet and return it to a burner over medium heat. Stir it well into the butter, along with the reserved pasta cooking water. Sprinkle the cheeses over and mix them in well. Add the fried zucchini and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix in the shredded basil last, until it is just wilted.

Serve the pasta at once with the last bit of shredded basil leaves sprinkled over it.

Monday, 5 August 2019

Blueberry Cucumber Salad with Feta

Well, it's a salad, Made with stuff that was around. Because, you know, it's in season. I can't say I have very much to say about it, beyond the usual cries of "Tasty!" I like cheese and fruit in salads; it is known. 

4 servings
20 minutes prep time

Blueberry Cucumber Salad with Feta

Make the Dressing:
2 teaspoons honey
the juice of 1/2 medium lime
1 tablespoon sunflower or nut oil
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Mix the honey and lime juice in a small serving bowl. It may be helpful to warm the honey first; the microwave is the easiest way, for just a few seconds until liquid. Mix in the oil, and salt and pepper to taste. 

Make the Salad:
1 medium cucumber
1 cup blueberries
2 tablespoons small mint leaves
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
90 to 125 grams ( 3 to 4 ounces) feta cheese

Wash, trim, and peel - if you like - the cucumber, and cut it into bite-sized chunks.  Add it to the bowl with the blueberries, washed and drained well. Wash, dry and finely mince the herbs, and add them. Cube or crumble the feta cheese and add, then toss the salad and serve.

Last year at this time I made Zucchini, Beans & Onion Japanese Style.

Friday, 2 August 2019

Tart Mixed Berry Cheesecake Crumble

It looks like crumbles are the ideal dessert for someone who really should be keeping the sugar down.  After some internal debate, I am listing the amount of sugar I actually used. This is not a very sweet dessert, though, and you could use more sugar if you wanted. I would think up to 50% more would not be unreasonable. However, I found the level of sugar to be fine - you do adjust.

This was our entire harvest of currants and gooseberries for the year, augmented with a few black-caps and red raspberries. The old bushes are slowly being smothered out and the new bushes have not really taken off yet.

I would make this in the spring, with rhubarb or with haskaps, as being fruit (or "fruit") of a similar level of tartness. 

6 to 8 servings
1 hour 30 minutes - 45 minutes prep time

Tart Mixed Berry Cheesecake Crumble

Prepare Berries: 
3 cups mixed tart berries

Pick over the berries, removing any leaves, stems, etc. Rinse and drain well.

Make Crumb Topping:
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups whole spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Sucanat OR dark brown sugar
2/3 cup cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup buttermilk

Mix the oats, spelt flour, salt, and Sucanat in a large mixing bowl. Grate in the butter and rub it in until distributed throughout. Dribble the buttermilk over it and work it in until the mixture forms coarse, damp crumbs.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Make Cheese Filling:
250 grams (1 cup) soft cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk

Cream the cream cheese in a mixing bowl with the sugar, then beat in the eggs and salt. Beat in the buttermilk.

Put about 60% of the crumbs into an 8" x 10" baking (lasagne) pan and press them loosely into an even layer. Pour the cream cheese filling over them. Sprinkle the berries evenly over the filling. Sprinkle the remaining filling evenly over the top.

Bake the crumble for 40 to 45 minutes, until lightly browned and firm when pressed gently. Serve warm or cool.

Last year at this time I made Tsukune (Chicken Patties) with Yakitori Sauce.

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Purslane with Yogurt & Garlic (Yoğurtlu Semizotu)

You know the routine by now - it's the usual salted and garlicked Turkish yogurt and vegetable meze dish, this time with purslane. Our garden is churning out the purslane, if nothing else, so here it is. We also just pulled the garlic so the garlic is fresh and lively. 

2 to 4 servings
you'd better allow at least an hour for all the messing around;
about 10 or 15 minutes actual prep time

Purslane with Yogurt & Garlic (Yoğurtlu Semizotu)

1 cup purslane leaves
1 cup thick yogurt
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 small clove of garlic
2 teaspoons olive oil
pita or baguette

Collect the purslane. It should be soaked in cold salt water for 15 minutes, then remove and keep all the tender leaves in good condition, as well as the tender tips of the stems. Discard the roots, tough stems, and any damaged leaves. In my experience, this means I need to start with about 4 cups of purslane plants to get 1 cup of usable leaves. Drain very well.

Strain the yogurt for half an hour, discarding any liquid extracted. The best way to do this is in a sieve lined with a couple of coffee filters.

Meanwhile, peel and mince the garlic and mix it with the salt in a small bowl. Add the strained yogurt and the dried purslane. Add a teaspoon of olive oil and mix well. Transfer to a serving dish and drizzle the final teaspoon of olive oil over the yogurt. Serve with bread.

This is probably better for being made an hour or two in advance; keep it cool until needed but it should not be chilled when served.

Last year at this time I made Mid to Late Summer Hodge-Podge.

Monday, 29 July 2019

Raspberry-Mint-Tea Slushie

Hot and muggy, isn't it!? Slushies to the rescue. I put in the lower quantity of honey, and the result was tart, astringent, and very refreshing. I wouldn't have complained about a bit more sweetness, though, and you should sweeten it to your taste.

You will need a good sturdy blender to crush the ice. Don't over-load the poor beast, and if you must, transfer the ground ice to a bowl and keep it in the freezer as you crush more, then add it back in once the extract goes in.

4 to 6 servings
15 minutes to make extract
10 minutes to make slushies

Raspberry-Mint-Tea Slushie

2 cups water
1 to 3 tablespoons honey, to taste
2 cups raspberries
1 orange pekoe tea-bag
1/3 cup washed mint leaves, stripped from the stems
OR 1 teaspoon orange pekoe tea, in a tea-ball
about 3 trays of ice cubes
mint sprigs to garnish

Put the water, honey, and raspberries in a pot and bring to a simmer. Simmer until all the raspberries have broken down, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the tea-bag and the mint leaves. Cover and let steep for 4 minutes, then strain through a sieve, pressing to extract all the liquid and discarding the solids. You can keep this extract in the fridge until ready to proceed. Don't forget to check that your ice-cube trays are full!

To make the slushies, put 1/3 to 1/2 of an ice-cube tray worth of ice-cubes into a sturdy blender and run until it is fairly fine crushed ice. Add 1/2 the extract and blend again. Shake or stir the extract before adding it. Once smooth, add more ice cubes and process until you have the texture and strength that you would like. I found 1 1/2 smallish ice-cube trays worth of ice made 2 reasonably large slushies.

Garnish the slushies with a sprig of mint and serve with a straw.

Last year at this time I made Summer Fish Cakes.