Monday, 15 October 2018

Stir-Fried Cabbage with Peppers & Shallots

Stir fried cabbage is not exactly a novel idea but I was surprised to see that I haven't combined it with red peppers before. Along with shallots and garlic, the result is rustic and assertive; a good companion for robust roast or grilled meats such as beef, lamb, or pork. It's not too much for chicken or fish though.

Otherwise, not much to say about this - it's a quick, simple and tasty stir-fry. 

4 servings
15 minutes prep time

Stir-Fried Cabbage with Peppers & Shallots

4 to 6 medium shallots
1 medium thick-fleshed red pepper
4 cups chopped green cabbage
3 or 4 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil
2 or 3 tablespoons soy sauce

Peel the shallots and cut them into slivers. Core and de-seed the pepper, and cut it into thin strips, then cut them in similar length to the shallots. Chop the cabbage. Peel and mince the garlic.

Heat the oil in a large skillet, over high heat. Add the shallots and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 or 3 minutes until softened. Add the cabbage, and sprinkle with the soy sauce. Continue cooking for another 2 or 3 minutes, until the cabbage is softened and reduced in volume, and the soy sauce is absorbed or evaporated. Add the garlic and stir it in well, cooking for another minute or two until the garlic is fragrant and the cabbage is cooked to your liking. Serve at once.

Last year at this time I made Kohlrabi Soup

Friday, 12 October 2018

Beet & Carrot Salad with Spicy Lemon Vinaigrette

This was a nice, simple salad. Sweet onions are on their last legs, but hopefully there are still a few around. Apply the Aleppo pepper and lemon juice with a fairly heavy hand, as the beets and carrots will cheerfully absorb it. 

6 to 8 servings
1 hour to cook beets; 20 minutes assembly time

Make the Salad:
3 cups peeled diced cooked beets
3 cups peeled diced cooked carrots
1 sweet onion
1 cup loosely packed chopped parsley

Cook the beets by trimming them and covering them in water, and boiling them until tender; 45 minutes to an hour. They could also be wrapped in foil and baked at 350°F for an hour to an hour and a half, until tender. Let cool, peel, and dice.

The carrots should be peeled and diced, then cooked in boiling water for 5 to 8 minutes, until done to your liking. Run them under cold water to cool and drain well.

Peel and chop the onion. Wash and chop the parsley.

Mix the beets, carrots, onions, and parsley in a bowl.

Make the Dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground Aleppo pepper
the juice of 1 large lemon

Measure the oil into a small bowl or jam jar. Add the salt, pepper, and Aleppo pepper and mix well. Squeeze the lemon juice and add it.

Toss the salad in the dressing.

If you want the salad to sit for a while before it is eaten, keep the parsley out of it and add it just before serving to keep it crisp.

Last year at this time I made Pasta & Broccoli with Goat Cheese & Croutons

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Lo-Bak Pancakes

I love dim sum! It's such a pity the nearest purveyor is mighty close to 2 hours away by car. Whenever we go, we order 2 dishes of lo-bak go; that is to say radish patties. One of them is just for me, and the other is for the rest of the table. Yes! It's my favourite!

It's also kind of a pain to make. I have tried it; the mixture gets boiled, then put in a pan and steamed, then, cut into slices and fried. All that just to have a base to slather on the chile-garlic sauce! These are really not quite the same, but there is a sufficient resemblance for me to enjoy them very much, and they are comparatively very simple to make.

8 to 16 pancakes (4 to 6 servings)
1 hour prep time

White Winter Radish Pancakes

2 cups peeled and grated lo-bak, daikon,
        or other similar white winter radish
3 to 4 green onions
4 to 5 slices of bacon
3/4 cup barley flour
1/4 cup potato flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 large egg
3/4 cup chicken stock
oil to fry

Wash and peel the lo-bak. Put it in a strainer and salt it, and let it rest while you prepare the other ingredients. Preheat the oven to 200°F.

Wash, trim, and chop the green onions. Chop the bacon quite finely.

Mix the green onions and bacon into the barley and potato flours, in a mixing bowl. Mix in the salt and pepper. Squeeze the lo-bak gently, measure it, and add it as well. When it is evenly mixed in, break in the egg and add the chicken stock. Mix until smoothly blended.

Heat enough oil to coat the pan in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drop in spoonfuls of the batter to form pancakes. Smooth them out a little to keep them even and not too thick. Cook until nicely browned on each side and cooked through. Transfer them to a plate in the oven to keep warm as you cook the rest of them, adding a little more oil to the pan if needed.

Serve the pancakes with chile-garlic sauce, or a drizzle of soy and vinegar if you don't care for chile-garlic sauce.

Last year at this time I made Roasted Peppers in Cream

Monday, 8 October 2018

Crazy About Potato Seedlings

As you know by now, if you are a regular reader, Mr. Ferdzy and I have all kinds of bees buzzing around in our bonnets. One of them is the idea of growing potatoes from seeds. Actual seeds, from an an actual potato fruit, not seed potatoes. Up above, you see us - okay the bottom half of Mr Ferdzy - about to dig up the little section allotted to this project this year.

We tried a different technique this year for starting our seeds. Normally we have started them in pots inside very early in the winter, let them die down, refrigerated the resulting mini-tubers to simulate winter, then planted them out to grow in the summer. Most potato breeders do this; they figure it cuts out a year of the long process of assessing new potatoes. We have come to the conclusion, however, that we lose too many little mini-tubers in this method.

So, this year we started them indoors in pots, but later in the winter to go out into the ground with everything else in the spring. Most of them died down and formed mini tubers - but not quite so mini as in the more usual technique, but there were 3 in particular that grew, and grew, and grew. Eventually we got fed up with them and decided to dig them anyway.

And there they are, with a brick for scale. We thiiiiink 2 of them are from Duane Falk and the Latvian potato seed he gave us, but we are not certain. One of them is not; it was mauve with a white edge to it. It looked a bit like ham. It tasted very good (but not, alas, anything like ham) when we boiled one of them, so it will be replanted. Unfortunately, of the other 2, one tasted "okay" and one tasted downright bad and so has already been eliminated from replanting. We will plant the "okay" one - it may do for future breeding even if the flavour is a bit blah, if it continues to produce like it did this year. And if it has fertile flowers, of course. Always a question, with potatoes.

Of the remaining, more typical potato-lets, we eliminated a number of these little piles - each pile representing a single plant - on the grounds that we were already not impressed by their productive capacities. Many of them, though, went into a paper lunch bag, again one for each plant. From there they go into the house, and a sacrificial victim is selected and boiled for 15 minutes. We then assess it for flavour and texture. If it gets a thumbs up, it will be planted next spring. If it gets a thumbs down, it goes into the compost.

We got about halfway through testing all the new types of potatoes that are under consideration for replanting in the spring before we started suffering from serious potato fatigue. We'll finish testing them on another day, then see how they survive the winter in the cold room... next year we will plant them out and see how they do.

We were a little surprised to eliminate some of the potatoes we had grown from seed last year. They had all been tested for flavour already, but there were a couple that just didn't impress us the second time around. Different growing conditions? We were in a different mood? Who knows?

One of the potatoes we eliminated made me a bit sad. The potatoes it made were not very large, but it made lots and lots of them, and the foliage only grew about 6" or 8" high! But while it rated quite well for flavour last year, this year we didn't think it tasted good at all. Too bad. 

There is something about very little potatoes; they are slightly bitter compared to even medium sized potatoes from the very same plant. We try to keep that in mind when we are testing these tiny potatoes.  However, there is a limit!

Over all, we are quite pleased and excited with the results of our potato seed trials this year, and we are looking forward to even bigger and better things next year - we hope! 

Friday, 5 October 2018

Basque Chicken Terrine

Yes, it's basically a chicken meatloaf! 

It did not work out quite as I hoped, but the problem was mainly one of texture; I don't believe I chopped my chicken enough. So, be sure to chop the chicken fairly finely. It was certainly very flavourful and we enjoyed it very much.

We have arrived at a pivot in the seasons. The kitchen is still full of little heaps of peppers, but the tomatoes - at least the fresh ones - are gone. I pulled in the last of the basil in case of frost tonight, but there will be parsley until it snows. I have started pulling the first of the leeks and they are looking very good. Garden clean up continues apace. I have to say I am looking forward to finishing for the season.

8 to 10 servings
2 hours - 45 minutes prep time

Basque Chicken Terrine

Prepare the Vegetables:
1 small red pepper
1 small green pepper
1 medium leek
3 or 4 shallots
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves OR 1 teaspoon rubbed thyme
1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil OR bacon fat
1/2 cup dried tomatoes, chopped a bit if necessary

Wash and core the peppers, and chop them finely. Wash and trim the leek, and chop it finely. Rinse it again and drain well. Peel and mince the shallots. Peel and mince the garlic.  Strip the thyme leaves from the stems and mince the leaves (discard stems).

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add the peppers. Cook for a few minutes, until softened and slightly reduced in volume. Add the leek and shallots, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until they too are softened and reduced. Add the garlic, thyme, and tomatoes, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until everything is fairly well cooked and amalgamated. Set aside to cool.

Make the Terrine:
500 grams (1 pound) ground chicken OR turkey
500 grams (1 pound) skinless, boneless chicken meat
3 large eggs
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves OR parsley
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Put the ground chicken into a  mixing bowl. Chop the meat into fairly small pieces and mix it in. Add the eggs. Wash, dry and coarsely chop the basil or parsley (if using parsley, it can be chopped finer) and mix it in. Season with salt and pepper, and mix the ingredients very well. Pack them firmly into a 4" x 9" loaf pan or other similar pan.

Bake at 375°F for 1 hour up to 1 hour 15 minutes until the juices run clear. Let rest 10 minutes before serving, although it is also good served just warm or cold. 

Last year at this time I made Taco Joes.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Turkish Eggplant & Potato Kofte

These were yummy! And a rather different take on the theme of Turkish patties. They make a good appetizer or vegetarian main course. Serve them with rice and salad. If you had leftovers, I think they would make a different and interesting sandwich filling. Not that we had leftovers. 

In addition to being vegetarian, these are gluten-free.

4 servings
1 hour puttering around to start
about 45 minutes to form and fry the kofte

Turkish Eggplant & Potato Kofte

Cook the Eggplant & Potatoes:
2 medium or 3 small (675 grams or 1 1/2 pounds) eggplants
3 or 4 medium (350 grams or 12 ounces) potatoes

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Wash the eggplants and pierce them in several places with a fork. Lay them on a baking tray and bake them for 40 minutes to an hour, until tender. Let cool at least enough to handle.

Meanwhile, wash the potatoes. Put them in a pot with water to cover them and bring them to a boil. Boil for 15 to 20 minutes, until they can be pierced fairly easily with a fork but are still quite firm. Drain them and let them cool. 

These steps can be done up to a day in advance, and the cooked vegetables refrigerated until wanted.

Make the Yogurt Sauce:
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
1 cup thick plain yogurt
a pinch of salt

Peel and grate the garlic, and mix it into the yogurt with the salt. Keep covered in the fridge until wanted. 
Finish the Kofte:

1 medium onion
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon ground Aleppo pepper
1/4 cup chick pea flour
1 large egg
oil to fry
1/2 cup chick pea flour

Peel and chop the eggplants, and put the flesh into a mixing bowl. Grate the potatoes, discarding any skin not inclined to grate. Peel the onion and grate it as well. Add both of these to the eggplant. Peel and finely grate the garlic, and add it to the bowl, along with the finely chopped parsley.

Add the seasonings and the 1/4 cup of chick pea flour, and mix well. Break in the egg and mix well.

Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of it generously in a large skillet. Meanwhile, put the remaining chick pea flour in a shallow bowl. Take the mixture by large spoonfuls and form it into balls, then roll them in the chick pea flour. Fry them until firm and quite brown, turning once or twice to cook them evenly. Flatten them to ensure they cook through in the middle. You won't get them all into the pan at once, so fill it up - not too crowded - remove them to a serving dish as they cook, and add new ones to the pan. If the oil is all used up, add a little more.

Serve with the yogurt sauce.

Last year at this time I made Gingerbread Pear Crumble. Oh la la! I need to make it again!

Monday, 1 October 2018

Pollo alla Romana

An easy, classic, Italian dish for early fall. How is it different from Pollo alla Cacciatora, you may ask? The answer to which is, not very. Pollo alla Cacciatora, at least as I make it, has a more blended set of vegetables; Pollo alla Romana brings the peppers strongly to the fore. Roasting and peeling the peppers adds a fair bit of time to the operation, but it really does improve them.

Good Italian bread and a crisp salad will round this out nicely, although rice or pasta are good choices to accompany it as well.

4 servings
1 hour 30 minutes - 1 hour prep time

Pollo alla Romana - Roman Chicken with Peppers

4 to 6 large (700 grams; 1 1/2 pounds) pointed red peppers
4 large chicken thighs or small chicken legs
2 tablespoons bacon fat
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 or 4 cloves of garlic
a sprig or 2 of fresh rosemary or thyme
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup white wine or chicken stock
6 to 8 medium (700 grams; 1 1/2 pounds) ripe red tomatos

Wash the peppers and place them on a tray to fit under the broiler. Broil the peppers until charred, turning and moving them as the cook to char them as evenly as possible. When they are charred all over, set them in a container and cover them to let them cool.

Once the peppers are cool, remove the cores and seeds. Peel them and cut them into large bite-sized pieces. If you like - and I think it is a good idea - you can prepare the tomatoes as well by blanching them in boiling water for 1 minute, then peeling them and chopping them coarsely. 

Heat the bacon fat and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces. If you are using whole legs, they should be cut into sections first. Brown them well on both sides. While they brown, peel and mince the garlic.

Add the garlic and sprigs of herbs to the chicken, and stir them about for a minute. Add the pepper pieces and stir in well. Add the wine or chicken stock, and the chopped tomatoes and cover the pan. Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Turn the chicken pieces and leave the lid off now; let the chicken simmer for another 15 minutes or so, until tender and most of the liquid evaporated. Serve with bread, rice, or pasta.

Last year at this time I made Cauliflower with Spiced Tomato Sauce