Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Strawberry Banana Mini Muffins


Everyone has their "perfect" banana bread recipe. Mine fluctuates all of the time, though I too have settled on a favorite. But never will I claim to have the best, or most moist, or "to die for" recipe. Tastes are far too complex and too many wonderful variations exist for me attempt to exult a recipe.

However, one thing I do love to do is use previously frozen bananas. I never get  around to eating our bananas before they become over ripe. By the time I do notice, usually I'm in no mood to turn them into baked goods. So into the freezer the freckled fruits go, to be used at my leisure. When ready, I defrost them for an hour or so on the counter. Of course now the bananas are an unappealing brown mass. Peeled and plopped into the recipe they are oozing with sweet fragrant juice. I've heard some microwave their bananas to yield similar results. To each their own.

UN-frozen overripe bananas will work equally as well.

 The recipe is my own

Yields 36 mini muffins or 12 regular sized muffins

The Ingredients
2 eggs, lightly beaten 
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil   
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
2 over ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup strawberries, finely diced 

The Process
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Lightly oil the mini muffins tins.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, oil, sugar, flours, bananas, baking soda, salt and vanilla. Stir until just combined. Fold in the strawberries.

Spoon by heaping Tbsps into the prepared mini muffin tins.  Bake for 10-14 minutes,  or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Transfer muffins from the tin to a wire rack to cool.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Snap Pea and Cucumber Salad with Radish and Dill

Veggies, veggies, everywhere! This salad is a nice change of pace from the usual mayo and pasta heavy side dishes at the summer's frequent potlucks and BBQs. And yet another wonderful excuse to use up the bounty of our CSA box!

This may be the last of the snap and sugar peas of the season. Which is truly a pity. Out of all of our farm's bounty, I love to snack on the sugar peas the most. They were plentiful this year, but we went through them before I had a change to blanche and freeze any for the winter. Ah well. Enjoy them while they are fresh!

The salad is sturdy enough to endure a day in the sun, unlike it's mayo laden brethren. However, after a day of so, the peas do begin to pickle and loose their vibrant green color. Do try to eat this salad up as quickly as possible!

adapted from Giada De Laurentiis' recipe on Food Network

serves 4-6

The Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs sugar snap peas, trimmed
2 small cucumbers, quarted and cut into 1/2-inch bites
1 small bunch of radishes, trimmed, halved and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 cup dill
Juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

The Process:
Prep a large bowl full of water and ice. Set aside. 
 
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add the snap peas and cook until vibrant green, about 1 to 2 minutes. Drain the peas into a colander and immediately transfer to the bowl of ice water. This stops the residual heat in the peas from continuing to cook them. Leave the peas in the ice water for 2 minutes. Drain well and transfer to a larger serving bowl. 

Quarter the cucumbers legthenwise and cut into 1/2-inch slices. Trim the tops and tips from the radishes. Cut each in half lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch slices. Add the cucumber, radish and dill to the salad bowl and toss with the peas to combine. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and zest with the oil until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Drizzle dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Chill until ready to serve.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Seared Pork Chops with Garlic Scape Chimichurri

One of my favorite parts of our CSA box is the garlic scapes. I love these elegant tender curls. Often I'll sautee them up like green beans. Or add them to a morning omelet with feta and whatever herbs tagged along in that week's box. But lately I've been coming across many scape pesto and chimichurri recipe and thought I'd give one a go.

I'd much rather grill these chops over an open flame than sear them in the pan, but the endless rain we've had this summer has put a damper on much of our grilling plans. Ah well, seared chops work in a pinch.

Pick thick-cut bone-in chops with a lot of marbling. Pork is a much leaner meat than beef and needs the extra fat, unless you want to end up with a tough and chewy chunk of meat. Rib chops...center cut of the loin...seem to grill up among the best. Thick cut helps keep them from drying out too quickly. And the bone? Well, honestly, I just enjoy gnawing the last bit of flavor off of the bone.

Enjoy!

adapted from The Brook Cook

serves 5

The Ingredients
for the chimichurri
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
3 Tbsp fresh, chopped
3 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
1 green onion, thinly sliced
4 to 6 garlic scapes, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup olive oil

for the chops
5 thick cut bone-in pork loin chops
generous pinch of salt and pepper
1 Tbsp oil

The Process
for the chimichurri
Combine the herbs, green onion, garlic scapes, lemon juice, salt, and red pepper flakes in a food processor. Purée. With the food processor still running, drizzle in the olive oil. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Chimichurri will keep in the fridge, covered, for up to a week.

for the chops
Generously season the chops with salt and pepper. Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat. Add the oil and reduce heat to medium-high. Add the chops and sear 3 to 5 minutes, with out moving. Flip and cook until meat is just cooked through, about 3-4 minutes more.

Alternatively, grill the chops...searing 1-2 minutes per side over direct heat until a golden crust forms. Move the chops to indirect heat and cook an additional 4-5 minutes per side or until the internal temperature reaches 135-140 degrees F.

Let rest 5 minutes before serving. Serve topped with chimichurri.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Pineapple Coconut Bread Pudding

Some weekends call for dessert as breakfast. Feel free to give this one a try! The trickiest part of the recipe was making the caramel sauce from scratch. I've master many a batch of caramel and the process still keeps me on my toes a little bit. If you're too wary, a jar of the ice cream topping will do just as well. No one needs that high a level of anxiety first thing in the morning after all. The rest of the dish comes together in a pinch, though a decent chunk of time is needed to bake the pudding. This may not be the recipe for a house hold full of early risers...maybe brunch would be more appropriate. And really, who doesn't enjoy brunch.

The original recipe called for a fair amount of sugar in ADDITION to the caramel sauce. Really, between the sweet bread, the sauce and the sweet fruity flavors, this bread pudding really does not need the extra sweetness. However...adding in that extra coconut and sprinkle of nuts on top give the dish a wonderful boost.

pudding adapted from What's Cooking, Love?
sauce adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

serves 8

The Ingredients
for the caramel sauce:
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp butter, cut into 4-6 pieces
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp salt

for the pudding
1 lb day old Portuguese Sweet Bread (such as King's Hawaiian)
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 - 14 oz can coconut milk
2/3 cup crushed pineapple, with juice
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup flaked coconut, toasted
1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts, toasted (optional)

The Process:
for the sauce
Place a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the sugar and heat, stir occasionally using a rubber spatula. The sugar will begin to clump and melt. Once the all of the sugar melts and forms a thick amber-colored syrup, add the butter, one piece at a time, stirring until completely. Be careful...it will sputter.

Once the butter has been combined, slowly drizzle in the cream, again being careful of sputtering.  Allow to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the salt. Transfer to a heat proof dish and allow to cool.

for the pudding:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, coconut milk, and vanilla. Add the cubed bread and toss to coat. Set aside for 5-10 minutes to allow the bread to soak up the egg mixture.

Lightly grease a 9 x 9 inch baking dish. Layer half of the bread mixture into the bottom of the dish. Drizzle with half of the caramel sauce and layer the flaked coconut on top. Top with the remaining bread mixture. Drizzle with remaining caramel sauce and sprinkle the pudding with toasted macadamia nuts (if desired).

Bake, uncovered for 35-40 minutes, or until the pudding is set and slightly puffed. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Top with additional caramel sauce if desired.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Indian Spiced Carrot Soup with Coconut Cream


The last thing I really want to do is hover over a hot stove during the peak of summer. But sometimes soup calls. Thankfully, this vibrant orange bowl of comfort only needs about 30 minutes of stove top time, without any of the hovering. The ginger and lime brightens up the sweetness of the carrots with the spices add some much needed heat and depth. The soup is thick and velvety without adding any heavy cream or bechamel...a making it vegan and glutton-free friendly, without sacrificing any flavor. The best part? The soup used up the rest of the  monster carrots we were blessed with in a recent CSA box.

adapted from Bon Apetit, 2008

serves 6

The Ingredients:
for the soup

1 tsp whole coriander seeds
1/2 tsp whole yellow mustard seeds
2 Tbsp peanut oil
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 large onion, finely diced
2 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
1 1/2 lbs carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
juice and zest of 1 lime
4 cups vegetble stock or water
salt and pepper to taste


for the coconut cream
1 - 15 oz can full fat coconut milk (LITE DOES NOT WORK!!)

The Process:
for the coconut cream
Place the unopened can of coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight.

Once chilled, open and spoon out the thick cream that has separated to the top.  Reserve the liquid for another use.

In a chilled bowl, whip the coconut cream until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Keep chilled until ready to use.

for the soup

Heat a small, dry skillet over medium-high heat. Add the coriander and mustard seeds. Cook, stirring frequently, until the seeds are lightly toasted and fragrant.  Allow to cool. Grind into a fine powder using a spice mill or mortar and pestle.

Heat the oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add ground seeds and garam masala, stir 1 minute. Add the ginger and onion, sautee until the onion begins to soften, about 2-3 minutes. Add the carrots, lime zest and broth. Bring the minxture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered until carrots are tender, about 30 minutes.

Cool slightly. Working in batches, puree in blender until smooth, or puree in the saucepan using an immersion blender. Stir in lime juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a dollop of coconut cream.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Strawberry Daiquiri Sorbet


Hot summer August days are upon us. If you can get your hands on fresh strawberries this late in the season, this is just the treat to help you cool off.

There is only enough booze in this dish to give the sorbet a little splash of flavor. The strawberries are really what shine. Still, always advise your guests of the presence of booze in your dessert, no matter how little the amount.

adapted from Joy of Baking

yields about 4 servings

The Ingredients:
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
juice and zest of 1 lime
1lb fresh strawberries, hulled
1 Tbsp rum
1 tsp triple sec

The Process:
Place the freezer bowl of the ice cream/sorbet maker into the freezer one day beforehand.

Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan set over low heat. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil, and remove from heat. Transfer simple syrup to a heat proof container and refrigerate until cold.

Meanwhile, in a blender of food processor, process the strawberries into a purée. Pulse in the lime juice, rum and triple sec. Transfer to a medium bowl and refrigerate until cold.


Once the purée and simple syrup have chilled thoroughly, whisk both together into the freezer bowl of the ice cream/sorbet maker. Churn until thickened as per the manufacturer’s directions, usually about 15-20 minutes. When the sorbet is almost set, add the reserved lime zest and churn until combined. The sorbet will have a soft-serve consistency. If a firmer sorbet is desired, transfer the mixture to a chilled, air tight container and place in the freezer for an additional 2 hours. Remove from freezer 15 minutes prior to serving.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Rainbow Chard, Cannellini and Tuna Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette



I don't know why I struggle to come up with interesting salads. I am an oddball in that I truly enjoy a plate full of leafy greens studded with sweet and savory surprises, all glistening in a light toss of dressing. Going out to restaurant and perusing the likes of Pinterest and Foodgawker, I am in awe and inspired. But then when it comes to making up my lunch, I flounder.

Thankfully, our CSA is pushing me to experiment more with leafy green such as kale and chard, which I typically do not buy the rest of the year.  I'm quickly learning that these hearty greens can stand up to much more substantial toppings. And that leads to a much more satisfying meal. Added perk? These greens don't easily become soggy in the face of dressing, making them an ideal candidate for a salad to serve at a picnic or a potluck, where food has a tendency to sit longer than we'd all like to admit.

adapted from Kitchen Riffs

serves 3-4

The Ingredients
1 bunch  (about 4 oz) rainbow chard, stems removed and leaves chopped
2-3 green onions, thinly sliced
2-3 Tbsp fresh dill, coarsely chopped
1 roma tomato, quartered lengthwise and sliced crosswise
1 - 15 oz can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 - 5 oz cans of tuna, drained
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp capers
salt and pepper to taste

The Process
 In a large bowl, combine the chard, green  onion, dill, tomato, beans and tuna.

Whisk together the oil, vinegar, and capers. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Drizzle vinaigrette over salad and gently toss to coat.