Sunday, May 31, 2009

Cardinal Basil

I needed one more plant for my small herb and vegetable garden. There is a vendor at the Farmer's Market with lots of varieties of beautiful basil. On Saturday, I saw a variety I wasn't familiar with, Cardinal Basil. It flowers and looks much like celosia when flowering. After getting the plant in the ground, I googled to see what information I could find. There's not much information out there. I am looking forward to watching the plant grow and coming up with ways to use it.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Strawberry, Rhubarb Crisp

My sister in law Terry was here last weekend and brought me several pounds of rhubarb. I've never been a big rhubarb fan. My early memories of rhubarb are my mother stewing rhubarb with sugar for my dad. He loves it that way, all I can say is YUCK. Instead of making my husbands favorite rhubarb dessert using a yellow cake mix, I decided to try a new receipe. If rhubarb is mixed with strawberries, I find it a bit more palatable. I did some searching and found this Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp recipe and changed it just a bit.

Strawberry, Rhubarb Crisp
Adapted from Food & Wine

2 pounds rhubarb stalks, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 pound strawberries, hulled and quartered
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 375°.
In a bowl, toss the rhubarb with 3/4 cup of the sugar and let stand for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. In another bowl, toss the strawberries with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and let stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the rhubarb to the strawberries; discard any rhubarb juice. Add the cornstarch, lemon juice and vanilla to the fruit and stir well. Transfer the mixture to a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish.
Topping:Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, mix the ingredients together until large crumbs form.
Sprinkle the topping evenly over the filling.
Bake for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325° and continue baking for about 30 minutes longer, until the fruit filling is bubbling and the topping is nicely browned. Let the crisp rest for 10 to 20 minutes before serving.

Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Chive Blossoms

My chives are growing beautifully. Even with our terrible winter, they came up with no problems. At the local Farmers Market, there were vendors selling bouquets of chive blossoms. I picked a bunch, they're so pretty. What else do you do with chive blossoms? I see recipes for using them in salads, making vinegar with them and an asparagus recipe that I would love to try. I can't wait to hear my husbands comments about eating chive blossoms.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sunday Morning Frittata

My favorite Spring vegetable is asparagus. The asapargus at the Farmers Market this season is beautiful. I wish I could find a way to freeze asparagus without the thawed product being a bit mushy. Anyone know of a way?

I recently purchased a cast iron skillet. I have a glass top stove and have read they shouldn't be used on the stove. I did some additional research and decided if I kept the pan stationary, it should be okay. One of the dishes I had been looking forward to trying in the new skillet was a Frittata.

Asparagus and Jack Cheese Frittata
Adapted from Food Network

8 large eggs
1/2 cup shredded jack sheese
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 pound aspargus, trimmed, cut into 1/4 pieces (about 3 cups)

Heat broiler to high and arrange rack to upper third of the oven.
Whisk together eggs, cheese, salt and pepper until combined. In an ovenproof frying pan, heat the oil and butter over medium high heat. When it foams, add asparagus, seasoning well with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, pour in egg mixtire and cook until a 1 inch borded of egg mixture is firm, about 5 minutes.(The center will not be set.) Place the pan under the broiler. Broil until browned and eggs are set, about 3 - 5 minutes. Cut into wedges and enjoy.

Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day! Please take the time today to hang your flag and remember those who have served and are our serving our country. A special tribute goes out to my father who served our country in Pearl Harbor!!!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Farmers Market

I have been counting down the weekends until the Farmers Market began in Omaha. I missed the first weekend because I had to work. Last Saturday, a cool front came through and our 78 degree Friday turned to a 46 degree morning. Lots of bedding plants, radishes, onions, tomatoes and rhubarb were prevalent at the stands. There is one particular organic vendor who sells the nicest salad mix. On Saturday, the baskets featured a vegetable I'd never seen before, Hakurei Turnips. When I inquired about these turnips as compared to regular turnips he described them as much sweeter and a very good addition to a salad. I was sold, my husband, on the other hand, wasn't so convinced. Turnips?, he said.

I sliced them and tossed them in a salad. The texture reminds me of a radish, while the flavor is much milder and sweeter.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Grilling Season Begins...FINALLY

It's May and until the past few days we haven't had much Spring weather. It's been cool and rainy. When I saw the forecast was for sunny and 70's this week, grilling season was about to begin. One of my favorite recipes for grilling is Pork Chops in Teriyaki Marinade. This is a recipe I found at least five years ago on Epicurious and was from the October 1993 issue of Gourmet magazine. Pork chops, for me, are often tough unless marinated or brined prior to grilling.

Pork Chops in Beer Teriyaki Marinade

2/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin (syrupy rice wine)
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh gingerroot
2/3 cup of your favorite beer (no dark)
4 1" thick rib or loin pork chops

In a saucepan combine the soy sauce, mirin, vinegar, sugar, gingerroot and the beer. Simmer until the mixture is reduced to about 1 1/3 cups. Let the marinade cool until it is room temperature. In a shallow baking dish or plastic bag, cover the chops thoroughly with the marinade. Marinate overnight, turning them several times.

Pour the marinade in a saucepan and boil it for five minutes. Grill the pork chops on a oiled rack set about 4 inches over glowing coals, basting them with the marinade while cooking, Cook 8 - 10 minutes of each side.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Foods We Can't Live Without #4

I find that blogging is taking me back in time to a food, a special person or a time gone by. I LOVE ice cream. As I think back to my childhood, I remember having ice cream as a treat before I went to bed at night. I thank my father for creating the craving for sweets that I still have today.

My first memories of going out for ice cream were to Zarda Dairy. I remember banana splits, hot fudge sundaes and Bubble Gum Ice Cream. At home I remember my dad making malts with malted milk powder.

Homemade ice cream...remember the hand crank ice cream makers? Was that a lot of work or what? Today, I have an electric ice cream maker. While making ice cream with this machine is so much easier it does remind me that this is just another tradition of the past that has been replaced by technology.

One of my favorite recipes for ice cream is Alton Brown's Serious Vanilla Ice Cream. When I went to make it today, I realized I didn't have the peach preserves. I did have Apricot Preserves, so I used them and couldn't tell the difference. In the last few minutes of the mixing process, I added crumbled Thin Mints.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

What is Verjus?

Prior to my trip to Sonoma a friend recommended a TV show called In Wine Country. In Omaha, it's on early on Monday mornings, thank goodness for the DVR. One of the features on the episode I watched this morning was on Verjus (vair-ZHOO).

Verjus is the pressed juice of unripened grapes. Verjus comes from the French term vert jus, literally "green juice,". The grapes used to make verjus are the unripened grapes the vintners thin from the vines. The unripened grapes are pressed but not aged.

Verjus van be used in salad dressing as you would a vinegar or as a substitute for lemon or lime juice.

I am anxious to see if Verjus can be found anywhere locally. Possibly Whole Foods? If not, I will be ordering verjus to try in some summer recipes.

Sad Sunday Morning Breakfast

For our Sunday morning breakfast, I was so excited to try the recipe for the Lemon Cottage Cheese Pancakes that I had so enjoyed two weeks ago.

As I was mixing the ingredients, I thought the batter seemed a bit runny. My husband was so nice and picked up the ingredients for me yesterday at the store. He purchased large curd cottage cheese and I did wonder if that might present a problem. Also, I did cut the recipe in half.

I've been lucky, so far everything I have decide to blog about has turned out well. Not so much today, these pancakes were a FLOP. They just didn't cook properly. From the one bite I tried, they seemed have too much lemon flavor.

I will try these again with a small curd cottage cheese, a little less lemon juice and a little more flour. If anyone has any other thoughts please comment.