Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Warm Roasted Squash & Broccoli Salad with Hazelnuts

This is really quite a simple salad, and I was a bit surprised at how much Mom and Mr. Ferdzy liked it. I liked it too!

I'm saying 4 servings, but the 3 of us ate it all. However, I only served a small piece of chicken alongside it, so with something else more substantial it should go further, and while it is a little time-consuming, there really isn't a lot of actual work involved.

Often this kind of salad is served with feta cheese in it, and that would be one way to make it a complete meal in itself. Sausages on the side would be a good choice too, with their slightly salty flavour profile.

4 servings
1 hour 30 minutes - 20 minutes prep time

Roasted Squash & Broccoli Salad with Hazelnuts

Roast the Vegetables:
a 1.2 kilo (2.5 pounds) butternut squash
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground Aleppo OR similar pepper
1 large onion
1 large head of broccoli
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Peel and de-seed the squash, and cut it into large bite-sized pieces. Toss it with the first round of oil, salt, pepper, and Aleppo pepper and spread it out on a large baking tray in a single layer. Roast for 40 minutes, then turn the oven up to 400°F.

Meanwhile, peel the onion and cut it into large slivers / small wedges. Wash and trim the broccoli, and cut it into florets. Peel the stem and cut it into large slivers. Toss them with the remaining oil, salt, and pepper. Mix them into the squash when it has roasted for 40 minutes, and roast for a further 20 to 30 minutes, at 400°F, until the vegetables are done to your liking.

Toast the Hazelnuts & Finish:
100 grams (4 ounces) whole hazelnuts
the juice of 1 large lemon
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

At some point while the squash is roasting at 375°F, spread the hazelnuts on another baking sheet and roast them on the top shelf for 10 to 15 minutes. Let them cool, then rub them in a towel to remove most of the skins. Chop them coarsely.

Squeeze and strain the lemon juice, and mix in the mustard.

When the vegetables are roasted, toss them with the hazelnuts and lemon juice. Let cool a few minutes before serving - it should be still warm but not really hot.

Last year at this time I made Lamb with Turnip Greens.

Monday, 29 October 2018

Apple or Pear & Ginger Mincemeat

Our apples, as usual, are few and rather awful, but we managed to scrounge enough to make a batch of this mincemeat. Other than apples or pears, I'm afraid this is pretty determinedly non-local, but about every 5 years or so I hear the call of the mincemeat anyway. It's quite rich and there are all kinds of other Christmas goodies I like just as well if not better, but this year the urge struck so here it is.

In spite of the number of ingredients it's actually pretty quick and straightforward, as far as canning projects go. Apples will give a firmer, tarter mincemeat, and pears will make it softer and sweeter. I have also given up all pretense of putting any "meat" (or suet, etc) into my mincemeat, so this is vegetarian.

Part of the reason I decided to make mincemeat this year is that I have been seeing a lot of recipes for other things to do with it besides tarts and pies and I plan to try some of them out. Stay tuned!

6 - 500 ml jars
2 hours prep time

Apple or Pear & Ginger Mincemeat

Mix the Spices:
1 teaspoon allspice berries
5 or 6 pods green cardamom
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt

Grind the allspice and cardamom - remove the papery husks from the cardamom after the first few blows - until quite fine. Mix them with the remaining spices and salt in a small bowl. 

Mix the Fruit:
2 cups sultanas
2 cups raisins
2 cups mixed candied peel
1 cup finely chopped preserved ginger

Measure the sultanas, raisins, and candied peel into a large mixing bowl. Chop and measure the ginger, and add it as well. 

And Finish:
12 cups peeled and chopped apples OR pears
1/2 cup lemon juice
the finely grated zest of 2 large oranges
the juice of 2 large oranges
1 1/4 to 2 cups rum or brandy

Put the jars on to boil in a canner with at least an inch of water to cover them. Put the lids and rings into another pot with water to cover, and bring them to a boil just before you are ready to can the mincemeat.

Meanwhile, peel, chop, and measure the apples or pears, and put them in a maslin pan or other large heavy-bottomed pan with the lemon juice and bring them up to boil. Grate in the orange zest. Squeeze the oranges and add the juice. When the apples or pears begin to soften a bit, add the prepared dried fruits and the spices. Mix well. Heat until the whole mixture is boiling hot, stirring frequently - be careful, this mixture is very thick and scorches fairly easily. Spatter burns will likewise be sticky and unpleasant, so take care. You can add a little water or apple juice if it really looks like sticking, but don't over-do it.

When the jars have boiled for 10 minutes, drain them and place them on a clean board by the mincemeat. Add 2 tablespoons of rum or brandy to each jar as you will them. If you wish to add a spoonful or 2 on top as well, it will do it nothing but good. Fill the jars, then carefully wipe the rims with a bit of paper towel dipped in the boiling water. Place the prepared lids and rings on them, and tighten them just snugly. Return them to the boiling water bath for 40 minutes.

Let cool, test the seals, and label. The mincemeat should keep in a cool, dark place for up to a year.

Friday, 26 October 2018

Brocc-a-Leekie Soup

There is no resemblance between this and the famous Scottish Cock-a-Leekie soup; in particular there are no prunes. I just found the name amusing and these days I need all the amusement I can get, however feeble.

Leeks and bacon are a classic combination and broccoli works well with them too. Leeks are so sweet and agreeable they get along with everything, really. Toasted barley as my favourite soup thickener, and a little vinegar and Worcestershire sauce to sharpen it up, and it's a sturdy, filling soup for chilly fall days. It will need a little something on the side, though, as these are not huge servings. We had ours with a grilled cheese sandwich and were very happy campers.

4 servings
1 hour - 40 minutes prep time

Leek and Broccoli Soup with Bacon

1 head broccoli
2 medium leeks
4 to 6 shallots
1/4 cup barley flour
250 grams (1/2 pound) bacon
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 cups unsalted chicken stock
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Wash and trim the broccoli, and cut it into quite small pieces. Wash, trim, and chop the leeks finely. Peel and mince the shallots.

Heat a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Add the barley flour and cook it until it is the colour of a paper bag, stirring regularly. Watch it towards the end in particular, as it will toast quickly when it does.Turn it out onto a plate to cool at once.

Chop the bacon and cook it in the soup pot over medium heat until it has rendered most of the fat and turned fairly crisp. Add the shallots, and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring regularly. Add the broccoli and shallots, and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring regularly, until they have softened and reduced slightly in volume.

Add the chicken stock, vinegar, and apple cider vinegar, and simmer for a further 10 minutes or so until the soup is thickened and the broccoli is cooked. Stir regularly.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Beans & Sausage with Peppers & Onions

This is not chili! No, really; it isn't. Yes, it is full of beans and meat and peppers but it is still not chili.  However, like chili, it is excellent piled on buttered toast.

You can use whatever kind of sausage you like for this, although I suggest something with garlic and without sweetness, so not honey-garlic, for instance. But I could be wrong. Maybe honey-garlic would be fine. I used a raw sausage but a smoked one would be very good too. Kielbasa, even. I did not add much in the way of seasonings to this because I wanted it to taste mostly of peppers and onions and garlic and sausage. Which means that whatever sausage you use, it should be a good one.

Also, this is very much last call for peppers. I've still got a lot, moldering away on the kitchen counter but they will be getting pretty scarce in the markets by now.

4 to 6 servings
2 hours prep time not including the bean cooking time

Beans & Sausage with Peppers & Onions

Cook the Beans:
2 cups dry beans
1 teaspoon salt

Put the beans in a large pot with water to cover them generously, and bring them to a boil. Boil for a few minutes, then cover them and turn off the heat. Soak for a few hours. Repeat boiling and soaking the beans until they begin to soften. Add the salt and simmer gently until the beans are tender. Replenish the water as required.

You can do this a day in advance and almost certainly should. Or, I suppose, you could use 2 540-ml (19 ounce) cans of beans.

Finish the Dish:
500 grams (1 pound) sausage, see remarks in introduction
1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil, if required
1 large onion
1 large green pepper
1 large red pepper
1 to 5 cloves of garlic
4 cups chopped or crushed tomatoes
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cut the sausage into bite-sized pieces. Put it in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot with the oil, if you think that the sausage will fail to provide sufficient fattiness on its own. Cook gently over medium heat.

Meanwhile, peel and sliver the onion. Wash, core, and cut into slivers the green and red peppers. Add them to the sausage and cook, stirring regularly, until they soften, reduce in volume, and brown slightly in spots.

Meanwhile, peel and mince the garlic, the amount depending on whether there is any garlic in the sausage already and how much you would like there to be. Add it to the pot and stir it in for a minute or two.

Add the drained beans and the tomato, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour. Taste and add salt and pepper as required. Serve with plenty of hot buttered toast.

Last year at this time I made Spaghetti Squash Pancakes

Monday, 22 October 2018

Pasta with Smoked Trout, Fennel, Leeks, & Dried Tomatoes

Smoked trout is rather expensive but a little bit goes a reasonably long way. Here it is mixed with some glamorous vegetables for quite a fancy pasta dish, but like most pasta dishes it is quick and easy enough for a week-night dinner. And yes, it's pasta again. We do tend to live on the stuff.

This is the time of year when I tend to strew everything with parsley because it is finally looking thick and lush; also there's no denying that fennel and leeks need a shot of green to liven them up. A nice green salad on the side will have the same effect and finish off your meal nicely.

2 to 4 servings
30 minutes prep time

Pasta with Smoked Trout, Fennel, Leeks, & Dried Tomatoes

Make the Sauce:
1 medium bulb of fennel
1 large leek
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground
1/4 teaspoon sweet or hot paprika, possibly smoked
1 cup fish or chicken stock

Wash the fennel and trim off the stems and base. Chop the bulb into bite-sized pieces. Wash and trim the leek, slice it lengthwise, and cut it in pieces.

Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the fennel and leeks, and stir to coat in the butter. Cook gently until softened but not browned, about 10 minutes. Stir regularly. Put the water on to boil for the past as as soon as the vegetables go into the pan.

Add the seasonings to the vegetables and mix in. 

When the vegetables have softened and cooked down for about 10 minutes, add the fish or chicken stock and continue simmering.

Cook the Pasta & Finish:
150 to 225 grams stubby pasta
1/2 cup dried tomato bits
1/2 (200 grams; 1/2 pound) of a smoked trout
1/2 cup cream
1 teaspoon arrowroot or cornstarch
sprig of parsley, and/or fennel

Bring a pot of water to a boil and salt generously. Cook the pasta until it is 3 minutes short of the recommended time on the package. Add the tomato bits when there is still 5 minutes left to go. Drain well.

Add the pasta to the pan of vegetables, and mix in well. Let cook for a minute or so, then add the smoked trout, crumbled into bite-sized pieces. Let that heat through for another minute.

Mix the starch into the cream and mix it into the pan. Stir gently, and cook until the sauce has thickened - just another minute or so.

If you have a little parsley, mince a sprig finely with a sprig of greenery from the fennel. Otherwise, just a sprig from the fennel. Sprinkle over the finished pasta to garnish.

Last year at this time I made Mallorcan Eggplant Pastel.

Friday, 19 October 2018

Turkish Broccoli & Carrot Salad

I'm getting a little addicted to garlic-yogurt sauce on vegetables, I have to say. We really liked this one. Carrots and broccoli go together so nicely, and look so pretty together, and the combination of garlicky yogurt and a zingy vinaigrette (is it a vinaigrette if you use lemon juice?) worked really well. 

4 servings
30 minutes prep time

Turkish Broccoli & Carrot Salad

Make the Dressing:
a few scrapes of  lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
the juice of 1/2 large lemon

Grate the lemon zest into a small bowl or jam jar, and add the seasonings. Mix in the olive oil. Squeeze the lemon juice and strain it before adding it. Mix well.

This can - and should - be done a little in advance, to allow the flavours to blend.

Make the Yogurt Sauce:
1 small clove of garlic
1/3 cup thick yogurt
a pinch of salt

Peel and mince the garlic. Mix it into the yogurt along with a pinch of salt. 

Make the Salad:
3 or 4 medium carrots
1 large head of broccoli
1/2 small sweet onion (optional)
2 or 3 tablespoons chopped parsley

Put a pot of water on to boil. Peel and slice the carrots, fairly thinly. Wash, trim, and chop the broccoli into florets. Peel and chop the onion, if using. Wash, dry, and mince the parsley.

When the water boils, drop the carrots in for 2 minutes, then add the broccoli and continue boiling for another 2 minutes. Drain the vegetables at once and rinse them in cold water until they are cool. Drain very thoroughly.

Toss the broccoli and carrots in a salad bowl with the onion and parsley, and the vinaigrette dressing. Pass the salad with the yogurt sauce to spoon over.

Last year at this time I made Cheesy Spaghetti Squash Bake.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Pasta with Spinach, Roasted Squash, Shallots & Ricotta

You'll have noticed that I haven't mixed squash and pasta before, or I don't know, maybe you haven't noticed. I have to say my instinct that they rarely go together still stands. Yes, squash is vegetable, but a starchy/solid one, and I think the combination is usually just a little too stodgy.

That said, this was enjoyable.  Sometimes some good sturdy stodge is just what you  need - chilly yard clean-up days, anyone? Cheese and spinach makes this a complete meal.

We had a bumper harvest of squash this year, and the quality is good. This is just the beginning of quite a few squash dishes for us.

4 servings
1 hour 15 minutes - 30 minutes prep time

Pasta with Spinach, Roasted Squash, Shallots & Ricotta

Roast the Squash, Etc:
1500 grams (3 pounds) butternut squash
6 to 8 large shallots
2  tablespoons mild vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 teaspoons rubbed savory OR sage
450 grams (1 pound) ricotta cheese

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Peel and de-seed the squash, and cut it into rather large bite-sized pieces. Peel the shallots and cut them in halves or quarters if large, which they are, ideally.

Toss the squash and shallots with the oil in a large shallow baking tray - they should be able to be spread out in a mostly single layer. Sprinkle them with the seasonings and toss again.

Roast the squash and shallots for 30 minutes. Stir them, and dollop the ricotta cheese over them. Return the tray to the oven and bake for a further 20 minutes.

Cook the Pasta & Finish:
320 grams (11 ounces) chunky pasta
1 bunch spinach
3 or 4 cloves of garlic
60 grams (2 ounces) Parmesan cheese, grated

Meanwhile, start a large pot of salted water on to boil. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions so that they will be done cooking within a minute or two of the squash and shallots.

Pick over the spinach and wash it very well, and drain it. Chop it coarsely. Add it to pasta for the last 2 or 3 minutes of boiling - you may wish to add an extra minute to the pasta cooking time to allow for the water to come back to the boil.

Peel and mince the garlic. Grate the Parmesan.

When the pasta is done, drain it well. Take the squash from the oven, and mix the garlic into it at once. Mix the pasta and spinach in gently, trying to break neither squash nor pasta. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the dish and serve at once.

Last year at this time I made Cauliflower with Leeks & Carrots.

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