Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Ham

This ham came from Schubert's in Millstadt Il. It takes a little sleuthing to find a good ham-most super market hams will not measure up to this beauty. I removed any excess rind, panited the entire exterior with Dijon mustard and sprinkled it with brown sugar. I decorated it with the ubiquitous pineapple, cherries, and cloves. Eating celebratory pork is one of those traditions which date back to the pagan practices of the Hessians and Norsemen (like the wreath and the Christmas tree)-where the pineapple comes in I do not know and I'm too busy right now to research it, but it probably has something to do with the Dole Corporation. I baked it in a 300 degree oven, covered with aluminum foil for 4 hours. Increase the temperature to 450 degrees and brush the ham with a syrup of pineapple juice and brown sugar every 8 to ten minutes until glazed and shiny about 25 minutes.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fruitcake-The Sarah Palin of Christmas Treats

Sarah Palin is much like a Christmas Fruitcake. They are both attractive packages-Sarah with her big hair and beauty contest looks, the fruit cake filled with jewel like colors of candied and dried fruits. And, of course there is also that old cliche "nutty as a fruitcake". Many people adore Sarah, many people adore fruitcake-many people detest both. Here is an easy recipe that I sort of like. The recipe came from another controversial person, chef Jeff Smith-who went down in disgrace after a brilliant career-it is from his "The Frugal Gourmet Celebrates Christmas"-although I've altered the recipe so much you wouldn't recognize it.

2 cups mixed candied fruit-chopped I used pineapple, orange and lemon peel-no citron

1 cup candied cherries, halved

4 cups dried fruitsI cleaned out the pantry of little bits of leftovers-plums, pineapple, craisins, apricots, golden raisins, and mango

1/2 cup brandy

1 cup butter-room temperature

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

6 eggs-room temperature

1/2 ounce of melted unsweetened chocolate

3 cups coppped nuts-I used half pecans and half walnuts

2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup brandy

In a large bowl, combine the candied and dried fruits with the brandy. Cover and let marinate at room temperature for at least 3 hours.

With a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, add the eggs one at a time. Add the chocolate, add the flour, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and baking soda. Mix until all is incorporated.

Fold in the fruits and nuts. Spread into greased 10 by 4 inch tube pan-I used mini-loaf pans. Bake in a preheated 300 degree oven for 2 hours and 10 minutes-less for the mini pans. Remove to a rack, and when cool enough to handle, remove from the pan and cool completely.

Brush the cake with half the brandy, cover and store for one week. Brush the cake with brandy every week and re-wrap and store until Christmas.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sweedish Meatballs

Bishop Hill IL is an historic village in central Illinois not far from where I grew up. It is a place my mother likes to visit for day trips, and she got this cookbook for me several years ago. Bishop Hill began as a group of Swedes seeking religious freedom in this country. They were a utopian, communal society which flourished for 15 years befrore disbanding shortly after the Civil War. You can see pictures of the chamring village and read more about its history here.

This book contains 6 recipes for Sweedish Meatballs, I chose to follow Alfhild Bergen Oberg's recipe. Ground Allspice and Cloves are two spices that all of the recipes have in common. Oberg's recipe did not include cream, many others did. I served the meatballs with mashed potatoes and a spoon of Sweedish Lingonberries. I also had some terrific beef gravy left from a brisket dinner, so I did not use Oberg's recipe for gravy, but I included it as written in the cookbook.

1 1/2 cup soft bread crumbs or crackers
1 cup light cream
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 Tbls butter
3/4 ground beef
1/2 ground veal
1/4 ground pork
1 egg
1/4 cup finely minced parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon each nutmeg, ginger, ground allspice, and ground cloves
2 Tbls butter

Soak the bread in the cream for about 5 minutes. Saute the onion in 1 Tbls butter til soft, but not browned.

Mix the meats, the crumb mixture, onion, egg, parsley, salt, pepper, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cloves until all ingredients are well combined.

Shape the mixture into 1 1/2 inch balls.

Brown the balls in 2 Tbls of butter.

Remove the balls from the skillet and make gravy (recipe follows), add the meatballs back to the skillet in the sauces and simmer ther for 30 minutes.

2 Tbls of butter
2 Tabls flour
1 1/4 cup rich beef stock
1/4 tsp instant coffee
Salt and pepper to taste

Pour off most of the grease from the meat balls, add 2 Tbls of butter to the pan and lightly brown the flour. Add the beef stock and bring to the boil, whisking until the gravy is thick and bubbling. Taste for seasoning befor adding the meatballs back into the gravy.

My personal pet peeve about meatballs are that they are usually hard little hockey pucks of meat floating in sauce:making really good meatballs lies in forming the balls. It takes a light hand. You need to form them so that they stay together when browning and cooking, but to compress and pack them too tightly makes for dense and unappetising meatballs, so remember to always use a light touch.

Sunday, November 07, 2010


The powers that be-John and Susie, who own the restaurant-have requested more 99 cent fun from the kitchen. This week will be asparagus-check out our Facebook page and let us know what you'd like to buy for 99 cents, and we just might be able to make it happen.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Rack of Pork Stuffed with Apples and Dried Plums


2 Tablespoons butter
2 apples, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup dried plums
1 small shallot, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 cup diced celery
1 bay leaf
Fresh thyme leaves, or 1/8 teaspoon dried
2 Tablespoons fruit vinegar-cider or raspberry
Salt and pepper to taste
Saute everything except the vinegar in the butter until soft, but not browned.

Deglaze the pan with the vinegar, taste for seasoning, remove the bay leaf, and let the stuffing cool.

Prepare the pork rack and vegetables

You need a pork rack with the chine bone removed and the ribs frenched.

Brine the roast for 2 hours in 2 quarts of water with one cup of salt

Butterfly the loin without detaching the ribs, and lightly pound out the surface until it is flat and even.

Salt and pepper the surfae of the pork and sprinkle with some cognac or wine.

Spread the stuffing over the surface, and roll up the pork jelly-roll style, truss with string.

Place the pork on a roasting rack and roast in a preheated 325 degree oven for 1/2 hour.

Blanch the vegetables (I used turnips, potatoes, carrots, acorn squash, and onions-onions do not need to be blanched) until tender-crisp. Drain and hold until the pork has roasted for 1/2 hour.

Add blanched vegetables to the roasting pan, toss to coat them in the pork drippings, and place the pork rack directly on the vegetables, discarding the roasting rack, to finish roasting. Place everything back in the oven for about 1 hour, until the internal temperature of the pork registers 140 to145 degrees-Most safety guideline stipulate 150 degree, but that is too done for me. Let the roast rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Ardelle's Figs

One of our farmers is Ardelle Waltog, She supplies alot of spinach and tomatoes for the restaurant, but she also grows figs. During our recent Pumpkin Fest I bought all of Ardelle's figs with the intention of making preserves. They are very sweet and tasty. The recipe and canning are simple.

Weigh your figs, and use an equal amount of sugar.

Quarter the figs and mix with the sugar-add one thinly sliced lemon and the juice of one lemon, bring to a simmer and cook for about 1/2 hour until the jam is bubbly and thick.

Pack into sterilized jars, secure the lids and rings and process in a water bath for 10 minutes.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dia de Los Muertos

Here is a tray of beautiful bakery goods from Cherokee Street. There is quite a collection of
Mexican restaurants, bakeries, and Hispanic shops along Cherokee Street. This morning I was surprised with this gift box of breakfast goodies. I think the skulls look especially tasty-Happy Halloween.

Monday, October 25, 2010

99 Cent Fried Green Tomatoes all Week

I know I already posted about our fried green tomatoes a couple of years ago, but this year the restaurant has been gifted with so many green tomatoes from several gardeners-just dropped off at the back door. GM James Gallagher came up wih the idea of this promotion, and I just love the idea, I think it's alot of fun. And a basket of fried green tomatoes are just perfect with a dry martini, a pilsner of Ale, or its Southern cousin iced "sweet tea".

I don't like the traditional fried green tomatoes, which are usually breaded with corn meal, I'm the heretic that uses beer batter. I know all of you green tomato purists are calling me names, but..... actually as I write this I'm missing that gritty-crunchy cornmeal batter, served with a homemade southern-style chili sauce like my aunt Viola used to make-maybe next year back to mah roots of cornmeal dusted green tomatoes with Aunt Vi's chili sauce.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Waterloo 1ST Annual Pumpkin Fest

Last week I was asked to be one of the judges in a pumpkin cook-off at the first annual Waterloo Pumpkin Fest. There were two ctergories-pie and other. We were all unaminous in the first place winners;a beautiful dark and spicy pie with flower cut-outs on top, and for other a delicious and moist pumpkin bundt cake with chocolate ganache.

In addition to the cook-off there were many other booths, crafts, live music, etc. It was a beautiful day and a perfect showcase for small town charm. The other judges were chefs Jennifer, Jeremy, and Dave-all from wonderful local restaurants and the country club.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Spicy Dill Green Tomato Pickles

The summer tomatoes are all gone, but the tomato plants are still producing. These hard little green gems are perfect for pickling. You need smaller firm tomatoes.

25 small green firm tomatoes, washed, cored, and quartered
1 3/4 cups white vinegar
1 3/4 cups water
1/8 cup pickling salt
12 cloves of garlic, peeled
6 hot peppers, I used Habanero for extra spiciness
2 tablespoons mustard seeds
6 large sprigs of fresh dill
Sterilize 6 glass pint jars, prepare lids and rings.
Bring the vinegar, salt, and water to the boil.
Pack the tomato wedges into the sterilized jars, add 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, two cloves of garlic, one large sprig of fresh dill, and one Habanero pepper to each jar.

Ladle the boiling vinegar mixture over the tomatoes into the jars, wipe the rims, top with the lids, and screw on the rings-let cool and refrigerate. These pickles are not processed in a hot water bath, so they must remain refrigerated.

Let the pickles rest and mature at least 1 week for optimum flavor, but they keep well refregerated for up to 6 months.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Dancing Mushroom Sauce

I bought these Hen of The Woods mushrooms at farmer's market last week. They grow locally here and can reach 40 to 50 pounds each-They are found in the forest around Oak trees. They don't seem to have the following that our Spring mushroom the Morel has. They are much revered in Japanese cooking where they are known as Maitake-Maitake translated to dancing mushroom, because the way they grow resembles a dance chorus. They are slightly nutty and earthy in flavor, and they also hold their shape after being sauteed or simmered in a sauce. They retain a firm bite after being cooked, which adds a nice texture to the sauce. I served the sauce with a roast chicken and stuffing.
Since I had a big juicy roasting hen, I made a chicken stock with the neck and giblets. I included the neck meat and diced giblets in the sauce.
2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup cream
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 pound fresh Hen of the Woods mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter
Reserved cooked neck meat and diced giblets.
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh minced parsley
In a sauce pan, saute the mushrooms, onion, and garlic in the butter for about 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the stock and wine, reduce by half
Add the cream and continue to reduce until you reach sauce consistency.
Fold in the reserved neck meat and giblets.
Tastte for salt and pepper and add fresh minced parsley.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Greek Chicken with Okra-Kotopoulo Me Bamies

I read about this dish on a blog about Greek food called Kalofagas. The writer is a Greek-Canadian who visited his mother in Greece this summer, and this is one of the dishes she made with okra and tomatoes from her garden. It just seems about perfect for this time of year, very earthy and homey for these early Fall evenings. Although the garden tomatoes are gone, I used a high quality canned San Marzano tomato from Italy.

I know alot of you don't care for okra because of the slime factor, but if you choose small okra pods, and do not cut into them this problem is minimalised. I added some baby rainbow potatoes (red, yellow, and purple) that wasn't in his recipe, rice or orzo would also be tasty. You can read his charming blog and get the recipe here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Poached Fluke with Shellfish and Preserved Lemon

Poached dishes don't always sound appetizing-something about "boiled food"-but in fact they are complex and full of delicate flavor, especially when the poaching liquid is incorporated into a sauce that accompanies it. Poaching is not really boiling at all because the liquid should never boil, but just barely simmer, so that the food you're cooking has time to absorb some of the flavorfull poaching liquid as well as leaving their own flavors behind. It all starts with making a flavorful court-bouillon.

2 cups of water
1 cup white wine
1 onion, chopped,
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
bay leaf
1 teaspoon whole cloves
sprig of fresh thyme

Simmer the ingredients for 1/2 hour, strain the vegetables and spices out, and use this liquid to poach the fish and shellfish. I had some fluke, bay scallops, and mussels. The more varieties of fish and shellfish the better.

In dishes like this, I like to poach everything separately. Once all of the fish and shellfish have been poached, you can start the sauce.

1 cup court-bouillon
2 cups heavy cream
1 egg yolk
1 cup cooked fresh corn, scraped from the cob, scrape the corn "milk" into the sauce
1 quarter of preserved lemon, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and cayenne pepper to taste
Chopped fresh parsley and chives for garnish

Reduce the court-bouillon and cream by half.

Temper the egg yolk with the hot cream mixture and add it to the sauce, whisk thoroughly, at this point, do not let the mixture boil or the egg will cook too much and turned into scrambled eggs.

Add the lemon, juice, salt, and pepper and taste for seasoning-rember you are going to be adding all that fish and corn, so you can slightly overseason.

Once the flavors are just right, add the corn, fish, and shellfish to the sauce and just heat through-remember everything is already cooked.

Ladle into large soup plates and garnish with the parley and chives.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Raspberry Coffee Cake

This is the first morning in a long time that it has been cool enough to turn on the oven and bake something. I found this really simple recipe online from chef Stephanie Izard-a "TopChef" winner. I have never seen a "Top Chef" show, so I don't know what her performance on that show was, but it must have been pretty good, as she won the competition. The coffee cake was only ok, not spectacular, but it was nice to have something just out of my own oven. It is a very straightforward and easy recipe-maybe too easy. If I make this again I will add some things like vanilla, lemon or orange zest-maybe some nutmeg or ground cloves.

Get the recipe here, there is a vidoe of Stephanie making this for a TV show.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Eggplant, Pesto and Mozzarella Napoleons

This should be my Summer of the eggplant, I've made so many eggplant dishes this year. I don't always have time to get all the recipes written, pictures taken etc to write a blog post about them. Here is one of them, it is a dish I will be using at Kitchen Conservatory later this week. At Kitchen Conservatory I will be using the dish as a starter course for a late summer Italian dinner. In this photo, I placed the Napoleon on top of some Angelhair pasta to make a large pasta dinner.

I admit I chose a pretty affected name for this dish, a Napoleon usually means layers of crisp puff pastry with pastry cream and fruit fillings with some sort of glaze over the top. Here layers of grilled eggplant are spread with pesto and layers of fresh mozzarella and glazed with roasted tomatoes and Balsamic vinaigrette. So if my pretentious name puts you off, just retitle the dish eggplant, pesto, and mozzarella stacks-but do try it because it is rich and tasty, but I still think Napoleon sounds sexier than Stacks-it's really tough being one of those "elitists" everyone seems to hate.

1 eggplant
1 pound fresh mozzarella
Fresh basil pesto
Roasted tomato vinaigrette

Slice eggplant into 1/4 inch slices.
Salt the slices and allow them to sit 1/2 hour, rinse well and dry with toweling.
Brush both sides of eggplant slices with olive oil and grill 1 to 2 minutes per side.
Spread 1 teaspoon of pesto onto an eggplant slice, top with a thin slice of mozzarella cheese, and another teaspoon of pesto; repeat until you have stacks of three eggplant slices each.
Place the Napoleons in a 350 degree pre-heated oven just to slightly melt and meld the cheese.
To serve:Spoon a couple of tomato wedges and the Balsamic vinaigrette over the Napoleons. Here I served the Napoleons over angelhair pasta, but you could omit the pasta and place it on some salad greens or just serve it on its own.


2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed

3 large cloves of garlic

1/2 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

1/2 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor, pulse the leaves, garlic, nuts, and cheese until a crumbly coarse mixture develops. Drizzle in the oilve oil slowly, continually pulsing the machine-I like a chunky pesto. Season with salt and pepper.

Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette

4 Roma tomatoes, quartered

1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar (optional, but I like my vinaigrette slightly sweet, if you want a totally tart vinaigrette, omit sugar).

Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh thyme

1/2 cup olive oil

Place the tomatoes in a baking dish, cutside up, season the cut sides with the sugar, salt, and pepper. Strew fresh thyme over the seasoned tomatoes, drizzle the Balsamic over the tomatoes, finally drizzle the olive oil over them.

Roast the tomatoes in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Tomato Chutney

I was gifted with an abundance of tomatoes from my uncle's garden this past week-end. This is a really fast and easy condiment to put up. I used a recipe from Barbara Pleasant at Growveg Website, the recipe can be found here.

It is really excellent spooned along side roasts, grilled and smoked meats, or it can be one of the sides to a curry dinner. Chutney makes an unusual garnish to a cheese platter, and it makes a super quick hors de ouevre when spooned over cream cheese and served with crackers.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Stuffed Squid and Pan-fried Pork Dumplings
This started with some squid left from Saturday night's appetizer special, that I wanted to use. It wouldn't last into next week, so I decided to bring it home and stuff it. It is sort of a combination of Thai and Viet Namese recipes. I should also tell you there are alot of Italian-style recipes for stuffed squid. After stuffing the squid there was alot of the pork mixture left, so I just wrapped them up in won tons and froze them, of course I made a few to taste.
Pork and shrimp stuffing for squid and wontons:
1 pound ground pork
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined, and minced coarsely
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 scallion, minced
1 teaspoon Asain chili paste
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon sherry or mirin
2 tablespoons minced garlic

Combine all of the ingredients and mix well
I prefer small tubes of squid to stuff, just put a couple tablespoons of filling inside the tubes-do not overstuff as the stuffing expands and the squid shrinks. Secure the opening with a tooth pik.
I chose to make a Thai curry sauce for the squid and served some rice as well.
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
2 Tablespoons minced ginger
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 cup minced shallot
1 teaspoon Asian chili paste
1 Tablespoon red curry paste
Briefly saute the squid in a saute pan with a small amount of oil, about 1 minute on each side.
Remove the squid and add the ginger, garlic, shallot, chili paste, and curry paste, stir cook briefly and add the coconut milk.
Bring the coconut mixture to the boil and reduce the heat to a low simmer. Add the squid to the curry sauce and simmer for about 20 minutes, turning the squid half way through.
Top with some chopped nuts and fresh basil.
My method for pan-frying dumplings:
I pan-fried the dumplings, they could have been steamed if you prefer. To pan fry you need a saute pan with a tight fitting lid. First coat the bottom of the pan with a bit of oil, when the pan is hot, place the dumpling in the pan and let the bottom brown, add 1/2 cup water and quickly secure the lid. Let the dumplings steam cook for about 2 minutes. Remove the lid and let the water evaporate. Continue to cook until the dumplings begin to sizzle and brown. Any Asain dipping sauce would be appropriate.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Watermelon Pickles

This is fair week in both Sedalia, Missouri and Springfield, Illinois. Here in the agricultural states, fairs are a very big deal. So much excellence and personal pride on display. Barns and barns full of the showiest livestock and most beautiful produce. Missouri has a big wine competition, and of course there are competitons for baked goods, preserves, and many culinary acheivements. Since I couldn't make it to the fair this year, I thought I'd still enjoy the spirit of the events by putting up some watermelon rind pickles of my own.

I took a recipe from "State Fair Recipes" a compilation of blue ribbon winning recipes put together by Catherine Hanley. I used a recipe from Elaine Pretz from Portland Oregon. The pickles won a blue ribbon at the Oregon state fair, I don't know the year, but the book was published in 1993.

1 watermelon rind
1 cup pickling salt
2 quarts cold water
1 tablespoon whole cloves
1 tablespoon allspice
5 pieces cinnamon stick
6 cups sugar
4 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
1 orange thinly sliced
extra cinnamon sticks to place inside the jars for garnish, optional

Trim all dark green and pink from the rind.

Cut the rind into 1 1/2" pieces.

Place 4 quarts of rind in a crock and brine it with the salt disolved in the cold water overnight in the refrigerator.

Drain the rind and rinse well.

Put the rind in a kettle and cover with cold water, bring the pot to the boil and simmer the rind for 8 minutes, drain.

Wash the kettle and add the sugar, water, and vinegar. Make a cheesecloth sachet for the allspice, cloves, and cinnamon and add it to the syrup.

Boil the syrup for about 5 minutes until it begins to thicken, add the rind and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the melon turns opaque, turn off the heat and let the melon cool in the syrup for 1/2 hour.

Meanwhile sterilize the jars and lids, bring the melon back to the boil and pack carefully into pint jars, ladle in extra boiling syrup to cover melon, leaving 1/4" head space at the top. Add a cinnamon stick to the jar if you like.

Place the lids on the jars and secure with rings, process the jars in a boiling water bath for 25 minutes.

Pickles need to rest for about 6 weeks before opening to achieve the best flavor.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Paula Wolfert's 7 Day Preserved Lemons

I met Paula Wolfert several years ago when she was on a book tour promoting her book "The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean". It was a a cocktail reception for her, I can't remember who gave it, but the restaurant was beautiful-the food not so much. I'm such a big fan of hers, that I'm afraid I monopolised her much of the evening. Her recipes are always reliable as well as thoroughly researched-they are usually a sociology lesson as well.

Preserved lemons are a Moroccan ingredient used in many tajines, stews, and couscous dishes. But they are so versatile and are beautiful with anything fish, chicken or veal. Once made they last in the refrigerator for months. So I'll make this batch and they will be used up this winter in several recipes to come. I doubled the recipe to make a quart.

4 lemons, washed and quartered
2/3 cup kosher salt
Fresh lemon juice
Olive oil

Toss the lemon quarters with the salt and pack into a glass jar.

Muddle the lemons and salt with a wooden spoon.

Pour in enough fresh lemon juice to cover the lemons.

Let the lemons sit at room temperature for 7 days, shaking the jar each day to redistribute the juice and salt.

Add olive oil to top and refrigerate for up to 6 months.

Fresh Blueberry Daiquiri

1 cup fresh blueberries

juice of 1/2 lime

1 cup ice

1/2 cup silver rum

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Whip in the blender and pour into your favorite glass, garnish with a lime twist.

Perfect for Summer Sunday afternoons.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Griddled Sweet Potato Polenta With Apple-smoked Bacon Greens

We're big fans of greens around here. They are abundant at the farmer's markets right now. Of course, cornbread is what most people serve with their greens, but I thought some polenta would work well and I wouldn't have to heat the oven for corn bread.

1 sweet potato, roasted al dente, cooled, peeled, and cut into 1" pieces
1 medium onion, caramelised in 1 tablespoon olive oil with a pinch of sugar
1 clove of garlic, minced
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup yellow corn meal

In a sauce pan, sweat the carlic in oil over low heat for 1 or 2 minutes, add the stock and bring it to the boil.

Whisk in the corn meal, whisking constantly to prevent lumps and bring it back to the boil.

Lower the heat and cook the polenta for 25 minutes to 1/2 hour, stirring often.

Fold in the onions and sweet potato, and pour into a 9" cake pan lined with parchment paper let chill and set up.

Unmold the polenta and cut it into wedges and griddle or grill them until they are browned and crispy.

For the greens:
1 bunch each of collards, turnip, and mustard greens, washed thoroughly. Cut out eh ribs and slice the greens.
2 rashers of apple smoked bacon cut in to 1" pieces and crisped in a skillet large enough to hole the greens.
1/2 cup onion slices, browned in the bacon drippings.

Add the greens to the bacon drippings and bacon, toss until the green begin to wilt, add 1 cup of chicken stock, season with salt, pepper and sugar to taste-greens can be bitter and a little sugar tames them. Simmer until the greens are tender, adding more stock if necessary-about 1/2 hour is all that is needed at this point.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Rainbow Orzo and Corn Salad with Fresh Basil

St Louis is sweltering this week. It has cooled slightly, but really hot again today. We've been lucky enough to have been invited to a barbeque pool party ths afternoon. I'll be taking this light salad.

1/2 pound rainbow orzo, cooked al dente

Corn from two cooked ears of corn, scraped

1/4 minced onion

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 Tablespoons water

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup fresh basil, chiffonade

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all of the ingredients and let marinate a couple of hours or overnight.

Basil and fresh corn are so right for one another-they are definitely the Brangelina of summer foods. Chiffonade is a simple technique for slicing delicate herbs and lettuces. Simply stack the leaves on top of one another and roll them up jelly roll style, then slice into thin strips. If you try to mince basil or hit the herb too hard with the knife it turns black, this technique cuts it up and preserves the color-some people use scissors.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Poblano Peppers

I picked up these beautiful Poblanos at farmer's market last week. I roasted these peppers, and gently made a slit in the side and carefully removed the core and seeds. I stuffed them with a mixture of black beans, rice, and corn, topped with some queso fresco. In cooler weather I would probably bake them in a chili sauce, but I just served them at room temperature and they were just perfect-spicy and sweet-very summery.

1 1/2 cups cooked rice
1 cup cooked black beans
corn, scraped from 2 ears of corn
1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
1/4 cup diced onion, sauteed
1 clove garlic, minced and sauteed
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all of he ingredients.

Gently stuff the roasted peppers with the mixture and top with some crumbled queso fresco.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Saurkraut Potato Salad

1 quart of saurkraut, drained and rinsed

1 pound small red potatoes, cooked until tender and quartered

1 cup diced onion

1 cup diced red pepper

1 cup green beans, blanced and cut into 1" pieces
1 cut blanched carrots, cut into 1" pieces

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup cider vinega1/3 cup water

1 tablespoon mustard seed

salt and pepper to taste

1/3 cup olive or vegetable oil
Combine all of the ingredients and refrigerate a couple of hours-best overnight. If the salad is too soupy, drain off the marinade before serving, but the potatoes usually absorb alot of it.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pork Belly

This is extremely rich and probably better suited for a Fall or Winter meal, but I had this pork belly, and I had to use it. Actually I only used a third of it and froze the rest for later.
2 1/2 pound piece of pork belly, rind removed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 carrots, chopped
1 small onion, sliced
2 stalks of celery, sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
6 bay leafs
fresh thyme sprigs
1/4 cup sherry
I seasoned the pork with salt , pepper, fennel seed, bay leaf, and thyme. I smothered the belly with garlic, celery, onion, and carrots, doused everything with sherry and tightly double wrapped everything in foil. Roast the package at 200 degrees for 5 hours. Turn off the oven and let the belly cool in the oven for 2 hours.

Cut the belly into serving portions and crisp the fat side in a hot non-stick skillet until it is browned and crusty. I was going to discard the vegetables, but they were still in such good condition that I just served them under the belly. Some recipes call for making a sauce with the vegetbles and drippings, but there was just too much rendered fat for me to deal with.
This is almost flavor overload, so tender and succulent.

Monday, July 19, 2010

My "New" Copper Pans
Well, at least new to me. We left early Saturday morning to look for some Holly trees, and on the way to the nursery we came upon an estate sale. It was still early and a couple of hours before I had to leave for work, so we went in. On the outside it was a neat and tidy brick bungalow located in the neighborhood known as Holly Hills, close to Carondelet Park. Inside it was crammed full of stuff. Curios, and curio cabinets, furniture, collectibles, and clothes. It was obviously someone's lifetime accumulation. It looks to have been a happy life, although everything was quite dirty and grimy. There was alot of religious iconography, several fur coats-each stylish in their era, fancy gowns, men's suits as well. Since it was the last day of the sale everything was half off.
In the corner of a very greasy, dirty kitchen was a sad little pan rack with several pans hanging on it-and a sign which read, set $35.00-there were 7 pans and 5 lids. Some of the pans were so covered in grime that you could barely recognize them as copper.
Several pans had their original price tags still attached and labels and care instructions still on the inside. I don't think they were ever used. After at least 5 hours of elbow grease and a couple tubs of Twinkle Copper Cream, the pans look beautiful. The half off sale price came to $17.50 or less than $3.00 per pan.
Note to Mom:Remember the time in South Padre and Mexico we went to all those flea markets looking for copper pans-well I finally found them.