Tag Archives: vegetarian

Flourless Pancake Bites

 

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Whether you call them flapjacks, griddlecakes or hot cakes, pancakes are one of the oldest forms of bread known to (wo)mankind.   Extremely popular around the globe, they aren’t without their controversy.  Buttermilk, no milk, carbonated water, eggs or no eggs, buckwheat, whole wheat, white flour are just a few debatable items in pancake world.  Regardless of your personal tastes and traditions, there are hundreds of variations of ingredients and cooking methods.  They are very versatile and can be served as appetizers, entrees or desserts.  In some form, they make an appearance across many cultures.  Many countries have specialty pancakes such as the French Crepe, Russian Blini, Swedish Pancake or Hungarian Palacsinta.  Whether you choose a sweet or savory direction, this humble food serves as a blank canvas just waiting for your creativity and personal touch.

If your thoughts immediately jump to “gut bomb” when you think of pancakes, you are not alone.  Certainly, this is a common experience.  I never want to finish a meal feeling heavy and ready for a nap.  In addition, they can quickly become a meal that is not that great for our health as we douse them in maple syrup, butter and a variety of sugary toppings.  Motivated to find a way to make them lighter and more healthy, I began to research recipes.  This is what led me to the idea of using cottage cheese and cooked whole grain cereal in place of flour.  If your reaction to “curds and whey” is anything close to this baby’s, I promise, they disappear in the batter and you will quickly forget their presence.  This holds true for the cooked cereal as well.

This batter is thin and produces a very light and delicate bite.  The addition of the vanilla and cinnamon adds sweetness and, for me, eliminated the need for extra condiments.  If it is savory you are looking for, eliminate both of these and add herbs, scallions, bacon, mushrooms, Parmesan or whatever else feeds your fancy.

This is how it went down in my kitchen.

FLOURLESS PANCAKE BITES                         Serves 4-6

Recipe by Jeanne Raffetto Tentis, adapted from Weelicious

1c cottage cheese

¾ c whole grain cereal, cooked (or oatmeal for gluten-free)

2 large eggs

1t pure vanilla extract (or flavoring of your choice)

1t baking powder

¼ t cinnamon (more if desired)

¼ t salt

Butter and/or neutral cooking oil, as needed for cooking

Toppings of choice such as, maple syrup, honey, fruit preserves, berries

  1. Using a blender or food processor, mix the cottage cheese and cereal together until almost smooth. Do not over process.
  2. Add eggs one at a time and pulse to incorporate.
  3. Transfer batter to a bowl and stir in the vanilla, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
  4. Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium high heat. Use enough butter and/or oil to provide a non-stick surface. I think a combination of butter and oil is best as the oil will prevent the butter from burning yet you get the benefit of butter’s flavor.
  5. Using a ladle or scoop, place batter on hot pan or griddle. I like these bites to be about silver dollar size.
  6. Allow the cakes to cook undisturbed until little bubbles form on the top and bottoms are golden brown. Gently flip and cook on that side for another couple of minutes. Transfer to a plate and repeat the process with the remaining batter.
  7. Serve plain or with your choice of toppings.

Thin and light and made silver dollar size, these could easily be adapted for any meal or as an appetizer.  With their pliability similar to a crepe, I think they would be perfect for stuffing.  Perhaps mascarpone and honey for sweet or ricotta or goat cheese for savory.  Apply a thin layer and roll for a perfect bite.  I would be delighted to see these, with or without filling, on any brunch or party table.

My mother always made pancakes with a popular ‘baking mix’ but why?  These are so light and easy and so much more flavorful.  They are also much healthier and can be easily adapted to gluten-free diets by using oatmeal in place of the whole grain cereal.  No more “gut bombs” in my kitchen.

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I hope this has served as inspiration for you to try a new twist on an old favorite.  Regardless of what you choose to prepare this week, remember to put your own spin on it and keep spreading the love, one dish at a time.  Big storm predicted for this week in our area of the world which translates to low and slow comfort food.  Better get to the store so I have the necessary supplies.  Until next time, be safe and stay warm.  Sending love from my kitchen to yours.  Jeanne

 

 

Oat and Nut Cookies

IMG_9995When our thoughts drift to desserts or treats they usually go delicious and decadent but sometimes there is a desire for something sweet but healthier and guilt free.  Just seventeen days into the new year, my resolve to take control of my health through conscience eating remains vivid in my mind and explains my recent focus on recipes with less carbs, fats and added sugars.  Let’s take a moment to discuss sugar.  We have known it for many years as the culprit causing tooth decay but sugar has had a lot of attention lately as a possible cause of inflammation leading to cancer and other debilitating diseases.  This is out of my areas of expertise but for more information on this you can go to the Mayo Clinic site where there are a number of papers written on the subject.  I found it very informative and interesting.

Now that that’s covered, let’s get back to our cookies.  This treat is vegan, gluten free, dairy free and with no added sugars.  Starting to sound boring and tasteless?  Believe me these crunchy cookies are a perfect sweet and chewy bite.  You won’t even miss the sugar as the ripe banana and dried fruit lend the perfect amount of sweetness.  The base is oats and cashews although you could use other nuts if you wish.  I chose cherries for the fruit but any dried fruit would work.  If you can say “I have never tasted anything too sweet” you might want to try using dates which have a high sugar content.  A touch of honey would also work but then you could no longer claim, “no added sugars” or “vegan” if that is important to you.  Next time I make them I am going to try adding some unsweetened coconut and play with using unsweetened applesauce in place of the banana.  I say this because the banana flavor is very pronounced and I want to experiment to see if that will help some of the other flavors to better shine.  In addition, I confess, banana is not my favorite flavor of anything.

Here is how it goes down.

OAT AND NUT COOKIES                                     Makes 3 doz (small)

Recipe adapted from Yummly

Sweet and delicious guilt-free cookies with no added sugar, gluten free, vegan and without dairy.

  • 3 large, very ripe bananas
  • 2 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup raw cashews
  • 3/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries (I used dried cherries)
  • 1/4 cup peanuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F, position oven rack in the middle of oven and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. Combine ripe bananas, cashews, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until mixture is smooth and there are little to no lumps remaining.
  3. In a bowl, combine oats with dried fruit, sesame seeds and chopped peanuts, and pour wet banana mixture into the dry ingredients.
  4. Mix together so everything is fully incorporated and combined, then, using a spoon or your hands, begin forming your cookies and transfer them to your baking sheet. Note: you can place them close together since the cookies won’t rise.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes, or until edges just begin to brown, but centers are still a little squishy.
  6. Remove from oven, let cool 10 minutes and serve warm or room temp.

The original recipe said it would yield 1-2 dozen but I made them small and got three.  Keep in mind they do not spread so don’t worry about spacing them too far apart.  As with all recipes, using high quality ingredients will make a difference in the outcome.  The difference can be as small as the 3/4 t of cinnamon.  It may seem insignificant, but the effect of a fresh spice could be what takes a dish from OK to over the top.  Because of their freshness and variety, my favorite place to buy spices is Penzey’s and my hands down favorite favorite favorite cinnamon of theirs is the Vietnamese Extra Fancy.  Extremely aromatic, I cannot adequately express how special it is.

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The high temperature for today in Southern Wisconsin is predicted to be -1 degrees with a low tonight of -13.  Yea, you read that right, MINUS those degrees.  Smelling the beans simmering in the oven is causing my tummy to rumble and I cannot wait to sit down to a steaming bowl of “red beans and rice”, with a twist of course.  Sure to warm the inners, I hope to highlight this recipe next time, so tune in.  In the meantime, stay warm and safe regardless of where you are, and keep spreading the love, one dish at a time.  I see a lot of love brewing in my kitchen this week and look forward to sharing it with you.  Sending warm thoughts and love from my kitchen to yours.  Jeanne

 

 

Awesome Autumn

Fall #1

For the past several years we have made an end of summer sojourn to Northern Wisconsin.  This post Labor Day trip is spent in a cabin on a lake, filling our days with fishing, hiking, exploring and catching up on our reading list.  We return refreshed and prepared for the tasks of putting the gardens to bed and keeping the falling leaves at bay.  It is always sad to say goodbye to summer but the crisp air and promise of an explosion of color help ease the pain.  I would be a happy girl if this season of transition would last forever, but alas, its visit is always fleeting leaving us to face the brutal winter.  With this in mind I try to seize the day and enjoy all the awesomeness of autumn.Fall leaves

With the turning of the leaves comes the always colorful and exciting season of harvest.  Although not recognized as one of the primaries, it is a time of year when farm markets, orchards and pumpkin fields burst forth with all the fruits, vegetables and grains that are ripe and ready for our enjoyment.  The colors are an artist’s dream, but it is the flavors and aromas that excite us in the culinary world.

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Since my cooking class schedule began just a few days after my return from the North, I have not had much time in my kitchen this week.  Yesterday, however, was a lazy Saturday so I resurrected all the chicken carcasses from the ever growing bone graveyard in my freezer and made a huge pot of chicken stock.  I cannot adequately express the delicious smells that permeated my house as it sat in slow simmer on my stove.  This chilly weather activity is so satisfying and having a cache lurking in my freezer fills me with promise of delicious dishes to come.

Lake superior 2Today I am also enjoying the wonderful aromas of cooking as I transform yesterdays efforts into a labor of love.  By the end of the afternoon I will have made enough Potato Leek Soup to provide dinner for us and some close friends who have been experiencing hardships and challenges lately.  This link is to a post I wrote as a tribute to Julia Child featuring her soup recipe (pictures and all) but I want to share one I developed and am making today.  It has been a family favorite for many years.

Here is how it goes down.

Potato Leek Soup                  Makes 6 servings

Recipe by Jeanne Raffetto Tentis

5 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced

3-4 leeks, washed well and chopped

4-5 cups rich chicken stock or enough to keep it all covered*

1 ½ c milk or cream

½ t caraway seeds

1 T dill weed

1 t sea salt

fresh ground pepper

2-3 T sour cream

Unsalted butter

Garnish: chopped chives, parsley, dill, crumbled bacon, cheddar cheese or let your imagination run wild.

Peel potatoes and cut into medium dice. Wash leeks thoroughly and chop well discarding tough greens ends. Cook these vegetables in the stock about 1 hour until they are very tender. Add the milk, caraway seeds, dill and salt and pepper to taste. Let soup slow simmer for another ½ hour or until potatoes begin to fall apart and soup begins to thicken. Do not boil. Take off the heat and puree with an immersion blender or in small batches in a regular blender or food processor.** Return to burner and stir in a few tablespoons of sour cream and a tablespoon or two of butter. Heat through on low heat and serve with desired garnish.

Mine and Julia’s recipes are similar and both provide a satisfying result, but I think the one I developed may be a bit easier.  Regardless of which recipe you follow, make sure you are wearing your pearls for optimum outcome. Julia never appeared without hers and we know how that story goes.  Also, staying true to Julia’s style don’t skip the butter as it adds a richness that elevates the humble tuber to company worthy.

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Autumn, especially in poetry, has often been associated with melancholia.  The possibilities of summer are gone and the chill of winter is on the horizon, but I would urge us all to think of it as a time of celebration.  Celebration of nature,  its gift of color and rich harvest.  Seize the season!  John Keats, an English poet, in his poem, To Autumn, describes it as a time of bounteous fecundity, a time of ‘mellow fruitfulness’.  Fecundity?  Who talks that way?  BTW, if you don’t know, it means, prolific or very productive.

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That said, I wish all of you a long and beautiful fall.  Fill you homes with the fragrance of the harvest and keep spreading the love, one awesome dish at a time.  Until next time, may you enjoy the joys of the season.  Sending love from my kitchen to yours.  JeanneKimball #3

Orzo Salad with Fennel and Pickled Cherries

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Defined as the combination of parts to form a whole, every recipe is a composition.  Much like an orchestra, each element has a purpose and is meant to serve as a complement to its counterparts.  Not too much, not too little, each component makes its individual contribution to the overall balance.  This concept in the culinary world was brought home to me during a recent visit to a local restaurant, “Pig in a Fur Coat.”  This place is known for its small plates meant to be shared so we ordered three different things.  The first to arrive was the Rabbit Rillette.  A rillette (ree-YEHT) is a mixture of cooked pulverized meat resembling a smooth pate and  is served cold, usually as an appetizer, spread on toast or bread.  As you might imagine, it is very rich and soft therefore in need of texture and something to cut the fattiness.  The thoughtful additions of pistachios, chopped fine for crunch and a side of pickled cherries, offering up the perfect blend of sweet and acidic, were perfect for achieving the needed balance.  It was these vibrant cherries that brightened the dish and made it a culinary masterpiece.   They were also the inspiration for today’s composition.

Giving serious thought to an upcoming picnic, I wanted a dish that would be a crowd pleaser, carry and hold well yet hold an element of surprise.  Pasta salad, being a warm weather favorite, served as the foundation.  I chose the tiny rice shaped orzo for the noodle for its ease in both serving and casual eating.  Dying to try my hand at pickled cherries, it seemed perfect for the desired, “wow what is that in there?” reaction I was hoping for.  The cherries were made a couple of days in advance streamlining the final assembly.

Here is how it went down.

ORZO SALAD with FENNEL and PICKLED CHERRIES           6-8 Servings

Recipe by Jeanne Raffetto Tentis

1/3 c red wine or apple cider vinegar

1/3 c + 2T extra-virgin olive oil

1T Dijon mustard

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 lb. orzo

1 bulb fennel, halved and sliced thin

½ c pickled onions

¾ c pickled cherries, cut in half

2c arugula, chopped

½ lb. fresh mozzarella “pearls” or larger balls cut into small pieces

  1. Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, mustard, ½ t of salt and ¼ t freshly ground pepper. Set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, add a generous amount of salt and cook the orzo until al dente, about a minute less than the package instructions. Drain well and while it is still warm, add the dressing. Mix well.
  3. Fold in the fennel, pickled onions and cherries. Allow to cool to room temp, about 20 minutes.
  4. Add the arugula and mozzarella and stir to incorporate.
  5. Garnish with fennel fronds. Serve at room temp for maximum flavor.

Note: If making ahead, refrigerate while holding. A drizzle of olive oil will freshen it up prior to serving.IMG_9301

IMG_9295This salad provided a symphony of flavors and color all working together seamlessly.  The fennel, shaved thin on a mandolin (can also be sliced thin with a knife) was perfect for its sweet fragrance and crunch and provided the added bonus of the graceful fronds for garnish.  The assertive peppery mustard flavor of the arugula was an excellent companion to the sweet and savory punch of the pickled cherries and onions.  The added interest of the mozzarella pearls provided additional texture and eye appeal.  Overall, this salad had the impact I had hoped, both for the palate as well as the eye.  The pickled cherries were akin to the prize in the box of Cracker Jack!IMG_9288

Put some of these in your culinary repertoire.

PICKLED CHERRIES

Recipe by Jeanne Raffetto Tentis

¾ c apple cider vinegarIMG_9252

¼ c sugar

2t whole black peppercorns

1t whole coriander seed

½t crushed red pepper

¾ c water

7 oz. dried cherries                   IMG_9245

1 lrg sprig of rosemary

1 piece of orange peel (1 ½ in)

1 small yellow onion, cut in half and sliced thinIMG_9241

  1. Place vinegar, sugar, peppercorns, coriander seed and crushed red pepper in a saucepan with ¾ c of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Strain all the solids and return liquid to the pan.
  2. Add the cherries, rosemary sprig and orange peel and simmer 3-5 minutes or until the cherries are softened.
  3. Place the sliced onion into a quart jar with a tight-fitting  lid. Add the cherries and all the liquid making sure everything is submerged.
  4. Cap with a tight lid and refrigerate for 2 days or up to a month.

Note: Pickled cherries and onion can be used in salads or as an accompaniment to grilled meats. They are also delicious served on a cheese platter.

Have you noticed pickled everything making a show on restaurant menus lately?  Like fashion, food trends are ever evolving so move over cucumbers you now have a lot of competition.

Before I leave you today I would like to pay homage to one of my mentors, Julia Child, who would have celebrated her 103rd birthday yesterday.  Check out some of her most notable quotes.  Thank you, Julia, for all you gave and are still giving to the culinary world.

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I hope my makeover of an old classic serves as inspiration to you.  There are endless uses for the cherries and I challenge you to come up with your own ideas on spreading the pickle love, one dish at a time.  Whether you are making a salad or roast leg of lamb, add your personal spin and always cook with love.  Sending mine to you.  Jeanne

“I think careful cooking is love, don’t you?  The loveliest thing you can cook for someone who’s close to you is about as nice a valentine as you can give.”  Julia Child

Grilled Shishito Peppers and Other New Discoveries

IMG_9107During my recent trip to California, I did one of my favorite things, restaurant hopping with my son, Noah.  Being a chef in Sacramento, Ca. and owner of Zoncas he knows many of the restaurant owners and definitely knows where to find the good eats.  Among several places we sampled this time was a delightful vegetarian eatery called, MotherOne of their specialties is small plates so we simply put the menu aside and asked the chef to prepare us a sampling of several we could share.  Our party of five was thrilled as the dishes began arriving.  We had smoked cheddar biscuits smothered in honey butter, harissa potatoes. chili verde with roasted potatoes and my favorite, pan kissed shishito peppers.  Usually a little goes a long way for me when eating within the family of Capsicum but I could not stop eating these little beauties.  Shortly after my return, I began my market search.  Checked all my usual haunts and nothing, so I went online and discovered they are carried at Trader Joes.  The very next day I journeyed over there and eureka!IMG_9095

Shishito peppers are the Japanese cousin to Spain’s Padron peppers.  Delicately sweet and usually mild they are simple to prepare and can be eaten as a snack, appetizer or as a side.  I found this easy recipe for the grill and served them as an accompaniment to grilled shrimp.

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Here is how it went down.

GRILLED SHISHITO PEPPERS                                          Makes 4 servings

Recipe by Christine Gallary

½ lb. shishito peppers, washed and thoroughly dried

1T olive oilIMG_9091

¼ t togarashi (Japanese seasoning containing chili powder)

Coarse sea salt, such as fleur de sel or Maldon

  1. Heat an indoor grill pan or outdoor grill to medium high (about 375-425 degrees). Meanwhile, place peppers in a medium bowl, add the olive oil, and toss to coat; set aside.
  2. When the grill is ready, place peppers on the grill in a single layer, making sure they’re not touching; reserve the bowl they were in. Grill the peppers uncovered, turning them occasionally until they start to char and blister on all sides, about 6-8 minutes.
  3. Return the peppers to the bowl, toss immediately with the togarashi and salt. Serve warm.IMG_9093

Note:  Togarashi can be found in Asian markets or the ethnic section of your grocery or if you wish, you can substitute crushed red pepper, cayenne or chili powder to taste.

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At the restaurant they were simply tossed in olive oil, blistered and dressed with a bit of lemon.  The grill gave them a nice smokiness and then hit with a small amount of heat from the togarashi and a sprinkling of Maldon to enhance their natural the flavor.  Yum!

While addressing new discoveries I thought I would share a few things I recently found and am really liking.  One is this ceramic grill pan.  Able to take extremely high heat, you can place it directly on the hot grill or your stove top.  With its generously high sides, it is great for grilling those little things that tend to roll around or that need to be stirred.  Another advantage is it is dishwasher safe so easy to clean.IMG_9122

A television chef, known for his grilling expertise, recommended the use of “grill toppers” when your grilling anything that may fall through the grates.  They are disposable but if washed can be used multiple times.  I would recommend hand washing as they are a bit fragile.  I used them for the peppers because I wanted the smoke to fully permeate.  On TV he said they were available at any grocery but I did not find them at mine.  I happened to run across them at Walgreen, on sale for $1.09 each in their seasonal aisle.IMG_9117

Last but certainly not least, Bees Wrap.  A sustainable food storage wrap, it serves as an alternative to plastic wrap or bags.  It is made with cloth and beeswax and can be washed and reused.  IMG_9114You create a seal by warming it with your hands and then molding it over a bowl, loaf of bread, half lemon or cheese.  The manufacturer does not recommend using it for meat.  It is available from a variety of sources online or at specialty stores.  Locally I found it at Willy Street Coop.

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These little peppers and other discoveries made me happy and hopefully they will do the same for you.  I love finding things that make my culinary world easier, more sustainable, and especially, more delicious.  Whether your grilling, cooking over a camp fire or firing up the range, this season is the perfect time to keep it fresh, keep it local and keep spreading the love, one dish at a time.  Hope eI provided you with some summertime inspiration to get grilling.  Sending warm weather wishes and love your way,  JeanneIMG_9108

Fried Rice with Shrimp

IMG_8695Fried rice is a popular Asian dish uniquely prepared in many countries including, but not exclusively, Thailand, Burma, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Korea, Japan, Indonesia, and the Philippines.  It is believed to have originated in China and it is sometimes served as the penultimate dish in Chinese banquets, just before dessert.  Many popular varieties have their own specific list of ingredients but the beauty of this dish is it can accommodate any number of food combinations depending on what is available seasonally and your personal preferences.  As a homemade dish,  it is typically made with leftover ingredients (including vegetables, meat, or seafood) leading to countless variations.  Leftover rice is perfect for this but if not available, fear not.  You can make it fresh but it works best if rice is cooled before frying.  Spread out onto a baking sheet and place in the refrigerator for best results.  The most common form, found in American Chinese restaurants, consists of some mixture of eggs, scallions, and vegetables with meat, seafood or tofu added at the customer’s discretion.  It is easily adapted to vegetarians or vegans.  Flavored with soy sauce, as opposed to salt, it can vary in appearance from dark brown, often seen in East Coast establishments, to a light brown frequently seen in the Midwest.  It is extremely versatile as rice serves as a blank canvas.IMG_8668

One common complaint I have with preparations I’ve encountered is it is often very oily giving it an unappealing mouth feel and adding a lot of “fat” calories.  The recipe I developed for today’s feature reduces the amount of oil used by blanching the more fibrous vegetables like broccoli requiring less time in the wok/skillet with the added benefit of setting vibrant color.

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Here’s how it goes down.

FRIED RICE with SHRIMP                                             Serves 4

Recipe by Jeanne Raffetto Tentis

1c broccoli florets

3T peanut or other neutral cooking oil, divided

1 medium red or yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips

1 c snow peas, trimmed

3 c cooked long-grain white rice, chilled (or rice of choice)

1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined

2T dark sesame oil

2T grated peeled fresh ginger

Favorite tool for grating ginger.

Favorite tool for grating ginger.

1/4 c soy sauce

1 1/2 T rice vinegar, preferably unseasoned

1 t Sriracha (hot chili sauce) or more if you like

3 scallions, sliced, separating the greens from the white parts

  1. Blanch broccoli until crisp-tender; set aside in a large bowl.
  2. Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add 1T oil to pan. Add bell pepper, snow peas and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Place vegetable mixture in a large bowl with broccoli.
  3. Add remaining 2T oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add ginger, and stir-fry for 10 seconds. Add rice, and stir-fry for 5 minutes or until rice is lightly browned. Remove rice mixture from pan, and add rice to bowl with the vegetable mixture. 
  4.  Scrape any remaining bits from pan. Return pan to medium-high heat. Add sesame oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add shrimp; stir-fry 1 minute, remove and add to rice and vegetable mixture. Stir in soy sauce, vinegar, and Sriracha; bring to a boil. Cook briefly until liquid thickens slightly. Add vegetable/rice/shrimp mixture and white parts of scallions; stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute or until thoroughly heated, stirring frequently.
  5. Serve immediately. Garnish with green parts of scallion.

This can serve as a side dish or as a main course depending what you choose for ingredients.  My preference is to represent all the food groups so I have a one pot meal, quick and easy.  Most often fried rice finds itself on the menu when I have a variety of fresh vegetables needing to make their journey from the refrigerator to stove to my belly.  Leftover proteins like chicken, pork or tofu also provide inspiration.  The sriracha provides some depth and heat, controlled by how much you use.  No sriracha in your pantry?  Hot sauce, Sambal Oelek (ground fresh chili paste), finely chopped Thai chilies or  crushed red pepper flakes could be substituted.  Even if you are shy about heat, I urge you to add a small amount as it’s another layer of flavor that contributes to the balance of the dish.  One other note about the rice.  The preparation in the photos is made with brown basmati but I have used many types of rice; white, brown, basmati,  jasmine and black depending on what was on hand and how the spirit moves me.

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Whether you are an untethered soul or a traditionalist, this is a the recipe for you.  Stick to form or go crazy but keep spreading the love, one comforting dish at a time.  Spring is come and go in this part of the country but I hear ramps are on the horizon so maybe next week’s creation with include these beautiful seasonal treats.  Hanging onto hopes for the season.IMG_8717

Until next time, love flows from my kitchen to yours.  Jeanne

Roasted Peppers/ Eat, Preserve, Enjoy!

Every year I fall victim to over-planting something.  This year the crop of the year is chilies!  Jalapenos and Serranos abound in their red and green glory.  Part of the problem is that they look so beautiful hanging from their plants that I can’t resist!  The other problem is I suffer from memory loss in the Spring when I go to the nursery and see those tiny little plants barely an inch or two in height.  They just don’t look like they will grow to be the foot high and ever producing crop that they are.  In addition, they often come in a four pack.  What’s a girl to do?

After many batches of salsa and dinners of fajitas, I am faced with how to best use and preserve what remains.  I love the roasted peppers available in jars so I decided that was the way to go for my own harvest.  I should add this method works for all types of peppers.  So if you grow bell, banana, Italian or Anaheim this is a method that works perfectly.  Let me also add I usually leave my peppers on the plant until they ripen further and turn from green to red.  The red peppers tend to be sweeter and for my palate have generally more flavor than their green brothers and sisters.  This will vary depending on the variety so use your own judgement and tastes to determine your plan of action.

I used the grill for roasting but this can also be done under the broiler.  Either way, keep a close eye on them, turning often, so they char but don’t completely burn up.  Another tip I might pass on is wearing gloves.  I tend to dislike using gloves for almost any task but after handling and peeling this many chilies, my hands were on fire the remainder of the day and through the night even though I washed them often and thoroughly.  I even tried dipping them in milk but that offered little relief.  This is probably not so crucial if you are working with sweet peppers as opposed to hot. 

Here’s the process I used:

Roasted Peppers

  1. Preheat the grill or broiler to high heat.
  2. Place peppers directly on the grill or on a broiler pan or baking sheet (if using broiler).
  3. Watch carefully, turning occasionally until skins are bubbled and charred on all sides.
  4. Remove and place in a bowl.  Cover and allow to steam until they are cool enough to handle and skins are easily removed.
  5. Peel each pepper.  At this point you can leave the stem and pepper intact with the seeds if you wish but I stemmed, peeled, cut in half lengthwise and scraped out the seeds.
  6. Place in a jar and cover with extra virgin olive oil.  I refrigerate this for more immediate use, or….
  7. Place on a baking sheet and freeze (approximately 1 hour).
  8. Remove and place in a small container or freezer bag.  Store in the freezer for future applications.

 

 

 

 

Roasted peppers can be used in many dishes including but not limited to sauces, soups, eggs, casseroles, pastas, sandwiches, tacos or  as creatively as your personality and taste buds allows.  My husband used them this morning with eggs in a breakfast burrito, one of his specialties.  Delicious!  They will keep for up to six months in the freezer and up to 2 weeks in oil, covered and refrigerated.

If you enjoy peppers but don’t garden, visit your farmers market.  Right now they are plentiful, at their peak of flavor and inexpensive.  Their gorgeous colors of green, red, yellow, orange and purple provide a visual that is hard to duplicate.  Even if you don’t eat them, it is worth taking a look as it is nature’s gift of Fall art, right up there with the foliage, and not to be missed.

Hope you enjoy the smokey goodness of roasted peppers all Winter.  They warm you up and brighten almost any dish.  How do you use them?

Compound Butter—Lemon Tarragon Butter

When the herbs are plentiful in my garden and the garlic is harvested I start to think about ways to use and preserve them for when summer is long gone.  You can dry them, of course, and some even freeze well but it is my experience that they lose some of their vibrancy.  So I am always looking for ways to use them so they remain bright for future applications.  One of my favorite things to do with them is to make compound butters.  When you see that on a menu it sounds fancy and complicated but nothing could be further from the truth.  Compound butter is simply butter creamed with other ingredients such as herbs, garlic, wine, shallots and so on.  The French word for it is beurre compose.

The thing is, not only is it easy to make, it freezes very well, lasts a long time and has many applications.  I have made ramp butter, basil butter, parsley and garlic butter and sage butter to name a few.  You can add things like white wine or in the following recipe, lemon juice or just use the herbs as is.  I have added crushed red pepper flakes when I have had an abundance of chilis and they are dried.  Freeze them in a log wrapped in plastic wrap and just slice off the amount you need.

How do you use them?  Let me count the ways.  I really can’t as you are limited only by your imagination.  I use them to baste chicken or turkey, as a topper for steaks, lamb chops, fish or shellfish, slather on bread, season pasta, rice or vegetables.  Match the herb with the dish.  For example, we know sage is often used with turkey so it would be a natural pairing.  Rosemary and lamb go well together so there is another.  Get the picture?

Today I made Lemon Tarragon Butter that I plan to use as a seasoning for smashed baby red potatoes.  This recipe, which came from the people from Organic Valley, can be adapted to any combination of herbs and flavorings you choose.

Recipe             Makes 12 or more servings

8T unsalted butter, room temperature

1T lemon zest

2t fresh squeezed lemon juice

2T fresh tarragon, chopped

  1. Put all ingredients in a small bowl.  Blend with a wooden spoon until creamy.
  2. Place the butter mixture in a log on a piece of plastic wrap, roll to shape it and twist the ends.
  3. Chill in refrigerator until butter is set, about 1 hour.  Or chill for 1/2 hr. and then use a pastry bag with decorative tip to pipe butter onto cooked fish, poultry or vegetables.  If you made a log, cut into rounds for serving.

If preserving for future use, place in a freezer bag after it is chilled and use as desired.

Tonight I am serving smashed baby reds with leftover grilled chicken.  To make them simply boil potatoes in salted water until they are fork tender (fork goes in and out of potatoes easily when poked).  Using a potato masher, smash them until they reach your desired texture .  Add lemon tarragon butter (amount depends on how many potatoes you are making) and mix gently.  Taste for salt and season as needed.  Easy, right?

Another favorite way of mine to preserve herbs is to make pesto.  It is not just for basil anymore! I will, however, leave that for future blog post.

I hope you will try your hand at compound butters and let me know what combinations you come up with.  I look forward to hearing from you!