Friday, October 23, 2009

Eggs in Purgatory

I have been dying to make this dish for quite some time.  Actually, I first thought about the recipe when I was looking of options for samples for my food styling portfolio,  I knew it would be a challenge to make eggs in tomato sauce look pretty for the camera, but i also knew it would probably be quite delicious to eat.

So when my brother-in-law handed me several bags of his homemade tomato sauce, I knew it was time to to make Eggs in Purgatory.  It proved to be a delicious breakfast.  My husband,   who was skeptical was brought to his knees.

I started with the chopped garlic and onions sauteed  in a olive oil.  Add about 2 cups of tomato puree.  It can be canned or if you are lucky enough to have some on hand, use homemade sauce. 

Reduce sauce until thickened slightly.

Make a 4 small wells in the sauce and carefully place a cracked whole egg into each well. 

Season with salt and pepper.  Cover for about two minutes, until the egg is nicely poached.

In the mean time toast 4 sliced of good Italian or French bread .  

When the eggs are finished carefully scoops two eggs and sauce into a serving dish.  Serve with toasts.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Raspberry Jam

A few weeks back my husband and I picked 10 pints of raspberries.  Riding high on the success of my apple butter experience, I attempted raspberry jam for the second venture in canning.

I went back to the good ole' Betty Crocker Cookbook for advice. The package of Ball liquid pectin was also helpful.

Raspberry Jam

10 pints of Raspberries
4 cups sugar
2 Tablespoons of Lemon Juice
1/2 packet Liquid Pectin

Place all of the ingredients except pectin, in a large non reactive pan.  Heat to a boil  and stir in the pectin.  Continue cooking until mixture is thickened and translucent. Pour into prepared jars.  Seal the jars and place in a large pot of water covering the jars two inches over their tops.
Boil for 10 minutes.

Carefully remove from the pot and place in a dry kitchen towel to cool. If any jars do not properly seal, (the lid should be tightly indented) refrigerate and use that jar first.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Puttin' Up for the Winter

Well. I've done it!  I've actually been canning.  
I know you might say, "So what."  "Big Deal."  "So!" Well, for me this is big.  I always assumed canning was too difficult, messy, and time consuming for me to want to tackle it.

My mind was changed when I brought a bushel of apple home from my parents house. Challenged by the task of using them before they rot,  I thought, "I'm going to make some apple butter.  And I'm going to can it."  

I found a recipe in an old Betty Crocker cookbook that was appealing, bought a case of jars, and got the vegetable peeler out.  Actually, I got two of them out of the drawer and enlisted my husband to help peel and slice.

The results were fabulous.  Creamy, spicy, sweet and tart.  It is so good, I thought, " hmm, I bet I can make raspberry jam too."  But, we'll talk about that in the next posting.
Apple Butter
4 quarts apple cider
4 pounds apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2 cups brown sugar
2 Tablespoons cinnamon, divided
2 teaspoons ginger, divided
1 teaspoon cloves, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat the apple cider in a large dutch oven, until reduced by half.
Add the apples and 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ginger, 1/2 teaspoon cloves and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Heat to a boil, then reduce heat.  Simmer uncovered, stirring very frequently until apples begin to break apart, about 1 hour.  Continue to cook until no liquid separates from the pulp. You can test this by putting a spoonful on a plate and let sit for 1 minute. Look for liquid seeping from the mound. If  the mound stays solid the butter is finished.

In the mean time, wash 10-8 oz jelly jars, lids and rings.  Place jars in a large stock pot and cover with water to two inches above the jars.  Bring water to a boil and continue boiling for 10 minutes.  In the last minute add the lids.  You don't want to have them in the boiling water too long  or the seal with warp. 

Drain the jars as you need them. Leave hot water for processing.

Immediately pour apple butter into hot jars, leave about 1/4 inch space at the top.  Clean any spills. Seal with the lid and ring. Place finished jars back into the hot water bath and boil for 10 minutes.  Remove one by one and place hot jars on a clean kitchen towel.  Each jar will make a snapping sound, indicating it is properly sealed.  This can take place as soon as is comes out of the water or as long a a few hours later.  Once the jars are cooled, check each carefully to be sure the lid has sunk in and is properly sealed.  Any jar that has not sealed should be refrigerated and used first.

Peanut Blondies

With the kids bake in college,  its time to send cookies and other treats to the hard working (wink wink) students.  I have a variety of recipes to share,  but this is one I'd never tried before.
They were well received.

Peanut Blondies
1 cup roasted peanuts
1/1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 stick unsalted butter, Melted and cooled
1/1/2 light brown sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a 9x13 pan with release foil.  Leave hanging over edge a little to aide in removing from pan after baking.

Whisk together the flour , baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Set aside.
In another medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter and brown sugar.  Mix to fully incorporate the butter and sugar.  Add the eggs and vanilla .  Mix thoroughly. Fold in the dry ingredients.  Mix until combined.  Do not over mix.  Fold in the peanut butter chips and peanuts.   Spread evenly in the foil lined pan.   Bake about 22 minutes, until top is a light golden brown.  Be careful not to ever bake-the blondies will be dry.  
Place on cooling rack until room temperature.  Lift out of pan and cut into 24.
The base recipe can be used with any combination of nuts and chips: walnuts and chocolate, macadamia and white chocolate, pecans and cinnamon. 

Fruit Topped Yellow Cake

I have posted about the cake before, back in March.  I looked back at the post and the photo is there , but not the recipe.  I will repeat it.  When I made it last, I did it without the fruit topping. This time I used peaches.  While they do sink into the cake somewhat and it is not "picture perfect", the flavor is great. I would suggest slicing the peaches thinner than I did. It will help to keep the fruit from sinking too far. This recipe is from a fabulous cook book by Abigail Johnson Dodge, called "The Weekend Baker".

Fruit Topped Yellow Cake

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 salt
8 tabelspoon
s unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cups whole milk
1 medium peach sliced
(pears, plums, apricots, apples or berries are also good choices)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour a 9"round cake pan.  Line with parchment and grease and flour the parchment as well.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk until combined.
In a mixing bowl, beat the butter on medium high until smooth.  Add one cup of sugar and beat until well combined. Add vanilla. Beat. Add the eggs one at a time, beat well after each addition. Add half the flour mixture and mix on low until blended.  Add remaining flour and mix until just blended. Scrape batter in to the prepared pan.  Smooth out evenly.
Arrange the peach sliced on top of the batter.  Sprinkle with the remaining two teaspoons of sugar.  Bake on center rack until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
Cool on rack for about 15 minutes.  Run knife around edge to loosen the cake. 

Invert onto a flat pan or baking sheet and then re invert onto a serving plate. Enjoy.

Roasted Chickpeas and Garlic With Swiss Chard

Another delicious  greens and beans combination.

Roasted Chickpeas and Garlic with Swiss Chard
2 cans chickpeas (drained)
10 cloves garlic (peeled)
2   shallots, minced
3 small bay leaves
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
(The original recipe called for 1 1/4 cup- I thought this was excessive.  Feel free to try it for yourself.)

Preheat the oven to 350.  Combine the first five ingredients in an ovenproof baking dish, about 8X8. Pour oil overt he chickpeas. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cover with foil and roast about 45 minutes.

Swiss Chard:
2 Tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 small bay leaves
2 shallots, sliced
2 bunches Swiss Chard, stemmed and chopped
1 cup chicken stock

Heat oil in a large saute pan. Add garlic, bay leaves and shallots. Cook about 2 minutes until shallots are tender.  Add half of the chard.  Toss until it wilts to half. Add remaining chard.  Toss until all is wilted. Add the stock.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Remove lid.   Cook until stock reduced by half.   Season to taste.  remove bay leaves.
Drain the chickpeas, reserving the oil. Discard bay leaves. Add the chickpeas to the pan with the chard. Add 2 tablespoons of the      reserved oil.  Heat until warm through.  Check seasonings.

Bacon and Swiss Chard Pasta

Add Image
I have been cooking, but I haven't had much time for blogging recently.  Just can't seem to get the balance, of social networking and realtime living.

In an effort to eat more greens and nutritious beans, I searched for a variety of recipes which combine both. This Bacon and Swiss Chard Pasta recipe exceeded my expectations on many levels, number one being taste.  It's delicious, even for someone who tires easily of greens.

Bacon and Swiss Chard Pasta
1 pound linguini
12 slices bacon cut crosswise
1 large red onion halved and sliced thin
2 large bunches Swiss Chard, stemmed and chopped
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 Tablespoons extra virgin  olive oil
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Boil water on a large pot to cook pasta.  Season water with salt.  When water is to a full boil, 
Cook the pasta until al dente.

In the meantime,

Cook Bacon in a large heavy skillet until crisp.  Transfer to a paper towel to drain.  Set aside.
Drain all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings.  Add onion and saute until softened. 

Add Swiss Chard.  Season with salt and pepper. Add a few ladles of pasta cooking water to the 
swiss chard mixture.  Cook until chard is wilted and tender.  Sprinkle with vinegar, cook another minute.

Add linguini and oil to the skillet.  Toss to coat.
Transfer to serving dishes.  Sprinkle with bacon and cheese.  Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.