Apps & Snacks – Mixed Greens Blog http://mixedgreensblog.com Living Sustainably in the Pacific Northwest Thu, 17 Nov 2016 02:01:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 Resolutionary Thoughts: Snacks Unwrapped & Plastic http://mixedgreensblog.com/2014/12/28/seasons-eatings/snacks-unwrapped/ http://mixedgreensblog.com/2014/12/28/seasons-eatings/snacks-unwrapped/#comments Sun, 28 Dec 2014 13:00:53 +0000 http://mixedgreensblog.com/?p=7084 dried apricots and hazelnuts

I’m reading the paper the other morning, oblivious to the impending New Year, when from across the room Bob asked if I had resolutions for 2010. Not yet, was my absent-minded reply. But then the brain started buzzing, independent of what I thought I wanted it to do, and it began to muse about the list I make each new year, an enumeration of intention. Flights of fancy some, and difficult or impossible to accomplish, others easy enough and will be checked off the list before December 31, 2010.

(Yes, this is a repost from 2010, but apropos again, we think. Happy New Year, 2015.)

Dried fruit and nuts

Collectively the list is biographical, a reflection of the small and large things in life that currently seem important,  a personal state of mind-ful or mind-lessness. Every year, because I love a physical thrill like zip lines or kayaking into caves, I consider putting sky diving on the list – the flying through the air part tempting, the jumping out of the plane part preposterous. And that’s the dilemma of what could vs. what will end up on a list. The exercise reveals the presence, or lack thereof, of a lifestyle yin and yang, sometimes well balanced, sometimes not. Last year’s list included tiramisu from scratch, building a stone sculpture, more dancing and writing a story. Attainable.

From out of the blue came two of this year’s nominees: nuts and plastics. (I know. Yaaaaaawn.)

*”Except for the very small amount that’s been incinerated – and it’s a very small amount – every bit of plastic ever made still exists.”

Would I like to know Dr. Oz’s Realistic Resolutions for 2010? Again, from across the room. And this time he doesn’t wait for a response, just starts to read a list from the NY Times. Commit to family night, seven minutes of yoga a day, go to bed earlier, keep nuts/healthy snacks handy, make space for sit-ups in front of the TV . . . the list goes on, but he had me at the snack, simple, sustainable, healthy nuts. Not  revolutionary, we’ve heard it a thousand times, but then the moment arrives when you’re ready to take it in. Not sexy material for the annual list, but healthwise a grand idea. Resolutionary. So, Oz, along with *Sue Casey (science writer), brought me to a couple of this year’s convictions: to drastically diminish my consumption of plastic and to increase my consumption of nuts.

And now you know this isn’t going to be a hefty food story with a recipe at the end, but a statement about a simple resolve: to snack healthfully, and, it turns out, sustainably – without the requisite specially snack sized cutely wrapped plastic containers. For me, a snack of hazelnuts (Holmquist Farms is a good Washington source), and dried apricots or our own dried plums is appealing – crunchy protein with a chewy bite of sweet fruit. Local food without excessive wrappings and trappings. The environmental trick is to buy in bulk and then make sure they’re available in the car, at the desk, in the kitchen. Despite resolve, those other snacks won’t disappear, the chips and chocolate, but diminish. I’m not completely crazy.

dried fruits and nuts snack

Inexplicably perhaps, a couple of common snack foods are off limits in my book. Peanut butter and energy bars. Never, nada, nichts. I know that it’s a culinary sin to hate peanut butter and my credibility just took a nosedive. I made a decision about peanut butter when I was four and it has held. Unless it’s baked into a cookie, forget about it. But, a simple pile of nuts (no peanuts) and dried fruit, I’m in.

And there’s no extraneous, small-portions-plastic-packaging involved. Bonus points. This is significant. Our planet is suffocating from discarded plastic. (Take a look at this site, amazing environmental/informational art,
Chris Jordan’s photographs of America’s Intolerable Beauty.) 

And here’s to un-wrapping healthy snacks in 2010 (& again in 2015.)

*The Best American Science and Nature Writing of 2007 includes a piece by Susan Casey called Plastic Ocean, which might change a person’s sensibility about buying anything at all that’s surrounded by or made of plastic. Of the plastics we commonly use and conscientiously recycle, only 3-5% are reused in any way.

“Except for the very small amount that’s been incinerated – and it’s a very small amount – every bit of plastic ever made still exists.”

“Set aside the question of why we’re creating ketchup bottles and six-pack rings that last for half a millennium and consider the implications of it: plastic never really goes away.”

Maybe we can scare ourselves into healthy unpackaged snacks. A worthy resolution. snacks unwrapped

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Feast Mode: Come Join Our Thanksgiving Table http://mixedgreensblog.com/2014/11/16/seasons-eatings/join-our-thanksgiving-table/ http://mixedgreensblog.com/2014/11/16/seasons-eatings/join-our-thanksgiving-table/#comments Sun, 16 Nov 2014 13:38:04 +0000 http://mixedgreensblog.com/?p=17277 Theoretically speaking, Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be cranberries, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, Brussel’s sprouts, Waldorf salad, biscuits, butter, whipped cream . . . all that, plus. Theoretically. A few years ago I saw a country vegetable garden with this sign outside the gate: Dear Deer, It’s almost Thanksgiving and it doesn’t have to be Turkey this year. Keep Out!


Over the years Poppy and I have cooked all kinds of Thanksgiving foods and posted many of them on Mixed Greens. We invite you to our table. Peruse the menu of possibilities and choose anything you’d like to try, or to make again because it was so good the last time. Choose two or three if you want. It goes without saying that there’s a nap on the menu too.

Recipes for Thanksgiving Dinner

         

Roasted Cranberry Sauce        Sweet Potato Biscuits         Pumpkin Pie From Scratch

Celery Root Puree      crispy shallots     caramelized shallots

Celery Root Puree                      Crispy Shallots                   Caramelized Shallots

          
Roasted Sweet Potatoes             Turkey Gravy                    Cranberry Gin & Tonic

           

Brussell’s Sprouts               Cranberry Upsidedown Cake         PNW Waldorf Salad

           

Turkey Soup Anytime       Something Green On the Side          Moroccan Turkey

Alton Brown is emphatic about how to roast a turkey: Brine your turkey – he does it in a large cooler along with some ice. Don’t stuff it! No need to baste. Keep the oven door closed as much as possible. If you’d like to be bossed around a little more about Alton’s way to roast a turkey, check out his recipe. I heard him carry forth on NPR the other night and it was impressive. He was decisive, which is a lot more than I can say for myself when it comes to how to best roast a turkey.

We’re grateful for you all dear readers. May your meal be as local as possible and delicious, your table lively and loving.

Water flows over these hands. May we use them skillfully to preserve our precious planet.

                              Earth Prayers From Around the World, Thich Nhat Hanh

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A Party: An Enchanted Summer Evening Supper http://mixedgreensblog.com/2014/08/18/seasons-eatings/protein/one-enchanted-summer-evening-supper/ http://mixedgreensblog.com/2014/08/18/seasons-eatings/protein/one-enchanted-summer-evening-supper/#comments Mon, 18 Aug 2014 23:04:51 +0000 http://mixedgreensblog.com/?p=20920 Thirteen friends, the December dinner group, met for supper mid-August. We had a blast wearing flip flops and shorts instead of boots and sweaters. We gathered in the backyard, used many of our own vegetables and herbs, and enjoyed food mostly made ahead.

charcoaltomatoes

The Menu: Roasted summer vegetables with goat cheese ricotta on crostinis, prosciutto-wrapped cantaloupe and Charlie’s Jungle Bird cocktails; followed by lemon-dill shell pasta salad with grilled prawns and a platter of salad; Pam and Pamm brought dessert and I’m sorry, no picture of their fabulous ice cream sandwich cookies – it was dark by then. So much fun and the perfect delicious finale.

Summer Evening Supper

   Jungle Bird  Summer party 3  charcoal Grilled Prawns

tomatoes  summer salad  Pineapple mocktail  Foraged bouquet

summer roasted veg 2  summer roasted veg 1  Summer tapenade  Summer party (1) 2

Salad dressings, roasted vegetables and goat cheese ricotta made a day ahead took about an hour. Day of, finished everything else in a couple of hours. Pretty easy considering it was a meal for more than a dozen. Easy enough for hosts to then kick back and enjoy the delicious evening.

Lemon-Dill Pasta & Prawns Salad Recipe

 Pasta Salad with Prawns

Serves 12, or more.

Ingredients & Directions: 24 oz (2 pkgs) large shell pasta/ Generously salt plenty of water and cook pasta until al dente/ Strain, place in a large bowl, let cool briefly and then toss with all of the lemon dressing.

Lemon Vinaigrette: Make dressing a day ahead or while pasta is cooking: 1/3 – 1/2 C freshly squeezed lemon juice, ¼ C finely minced red onion or shallot, 2/3 C olive oil, 1 T mustard, 3 T mayonnaise optional, 1 t salt and pepper to taste/ Whisk or shake vigorously, pour over warm pasta/ Make more if needed – the pasta needs plenty of dressing/ When pasta is completely cool stir in 1/2 C finely chopped fresh dill and chives (or more), 1 C chopped parsley, salt & pepper to taste/ Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Grilled Prawns Recipe

Grilled Prawns

Ingredients & Directions: 2 ½ # gulf prawns (shells removed before cooking or not, your call), about 5 per person – keep refrigerated/ If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for at least 2 hours before grilling/ For the brief marinade: 2 T shallot or garlic, finely minced/ 1/3 C freshly squeezed lemon juice, 3 T olive oil/ salt & pepper/ Make the marinade, pour over prawns and toss gently; let sit for one half hour before cooking/ Arrange 6 prawns on each skewer/ Cook directly on a hot grill for 2 minutes on each side/ When cool, remove from skewers and place on top of prepared pasta salad/ Sprinkle with a little extra pasta salad dressing, lemon and parsley/ Refrigerate covered for a few hours or serve immediately.

Summer Salad Platter

summer salad

Line a platter with lettuce leaves and then arrange favorite summer vegetables on top – for example, avocado, fresh corn, sliced peppers, scallions, cucumbers, tomatoes, fennel. Edible flower blossoms. Salt & pepper to taste. Dress with Balsamic vinaigrette (or any vinaigrette) and sprinkle generously with chopped basil or any fresh herb combination.

Balsamic Vinaigrette: Pour generously over salad just before serving. In a pint-sized container, combine ½ C Balsamic vinegar, 2/3 C olive oil, 2 smashed cloves garlic, 2 t mustard/ Shake or whisk vigorously, taste and adjust as needed/ Mix ahead and set aside until time to serve the salad.

Roasted Summer Vegetables Recipe

Follow link to previous post and recipe.

summer roasted veg 2

Proscuitto Wrapped Cantaloupe

Ingredients & Directions: Cut 1 cantaloupe into bite-sized pieces, wrap each one with a small piece of prosciutto/ 12 oz of prosciutto was about the right amount/ Arrange on a plate with toothpicks and refrigerate until time to serve.

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Fruity Salsa Dancing http://mixedgreensblog.com/2014/08/10/seasons-eatings/basic-recipes-on-the-local-table/fruity-salsa-dancing/ http://mixedgreensblog.com/2014/08/10/seasons-eatings/basic-recipes-on-the-local-table/fruity-salsa-dancing/#comments Mon, 11 Aug 2014 00:00:57 +0000 http://mixedgreensblog.com/?p=10317 Bowl of Cherries

I’m on a fruit salsa kick and there’s no slow down in sight. Give me a bowl of fruit and I’ll whip up a bowl of salsa in no time and then it gets eaten just as quickly. Wait for me to make a pie and you probably won’t get one before summer fruit season ends. Cherries, blueberries, peaches — they all work using the same basic recipe with only a few small changes to suit the personality of each fruit. I adore the savory onions and citrus to balance out the fruity sweetness.

What got me started was remembering a cherry salsa Charlie used to make as a side dish for grilled salmon. I searched our old paper recipe files (remember those?) and couldn’t find it but had a vague memory that it may have been a Kathy Casey recipe. Checked on line and sure enough, she has a bing cherry salsa recipe. I’m not sure if it’s the same one from years ago but tried it and it’s the recipe I’ll make from now on.

Cherry Salsa

Kathy Casey’s Sassy Bing Cherry Salsa

2 cups pitted sliced Bing cherries (about 1 pound)

2 T seasoned rice vinegar

1/4 cup minced Walla Walla Sweet onion

1 T finely chopped cilantro

1 1/2 t very finely minced peeled fresh ginger

1/4 to 1/2 t red pepper flakes ( I used about a half finely chopped fresh jalapeno pepper instead)

I also add juice of 1/2 lime

In a small bowl, gently mix all the ingredients. Best if made right before serving but can be made up to 2 hours in advance. Recipe from Kathy Casey’s Northwest Table.

Bowl of Blueberries

Now that I’ve started on this salsa roll I can’t look at a bowl of fruit and not think about how to make it into a salsa. We went a little overboard buying blueberries in the Skagit Valley last weekend so once again, the extra blueberries became salsa using a variation of the recipe above with a few small changes. Starting out, I sliced a couple of blueberries in half but ended up leaving them whole. It takes way too long and honestly, they aren’t too pretty that way. I used the juice and zest of one whole lemon instead of the vinegar and lime and replaced the cilantro with mint. It’s an excellent accompaniment to chicken salad if you don’t eat the whole thing with a spoon before dinner.

Blueberry Salsa

Blueberry Salsa

Lately it seems like mango salsa is showing up more and more at potlucks and is devoured every time. We have such beautiful peaches at the farmers markets this time of year, why not keep it local and use peaches or even nectarines instead. I tested it out at a party last weekend and got rave reviews.

Peach Salsa

Peach Salsa

2 cups peeled and chopped peaches

1 avocado chopped

1/4 cup Walla Walla sweet onion, chopped

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped

1/2 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped

Juice of one lime

Salt & pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Serve as a side dish with grilled fish or chicken or with tortilla chips.

Peach Salsa on a Corn Chip

Warning — these salsas may become addictive. Luckily, they couldn’t be healthier so you can devour as much as you want (minus the chips, of course!)

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Parsley Steals the Show http://mixedgreensblog.com/2014/06/15/seasons-eatings/basic-recipes-on-the-local-table/parsley-steals-the-show/ http://mixedgreensblog.com/2014/06/15/seasons-eatings/basic-recipes-on-the-local-table/parsley-steals-the-show/#comments Mon, 16 Jun 2014 00:00:11 +0000 http://mixedgreensblog.com/?p=16384

Polite parsley — she never draws attention to her own bright self. Invite her to any party and she’s content to stand by and let everyone else shine by her mere presence. I thought it was high time this under-appreciated herb got her day in the sun so I set out to find recipes where she could play the starring role. Enough of this sprig here, sprig there, garnish mentality. Let’s put her on center stage and see what she’s got.

Of the millions of recipes that contain parsley, surprisingly few list it as a main ingredient. Tabbouleh, also known as parsley salad, is a great one to try, especially as we enter the summer picnic season. It requires no cooking and can sit in the fridge for a couple of days so you can make it ahead and save your leftovers. The traditional grain used is bulgur, which is a type of cracked wheat but you could use quinoa or brown rice instead. I like to go easy on the grains and use plenty of chopped vegetables, especially parsley.

Tabbouleh (Parsley) Salad

Ingredients: A large bunch of parsley, finely chopped. (Arrange in a bunch, start by chopping the stems and make your way up to the leaves)/ 3 spring onions, finely chopped/ 1 tomato, finely chopped/ 1 small cucumber, peeled and finely chopped/ Juice of 2 lemons/ 3T olive oil/ 1/2 cup bulgur/ 1 cup boiling water/ Salt & pepper.

Directions: Place bulgur in a small bowl, cover with boiling water and mix/ Drape a small towel over bowl and let it sit for 15 or 20 minutes/ Drain off excess water and let bulgur cool/ Place all the finely chopped vegetables in a large salad bowl and pour lemon juice over them/ Add the olive oil, salt & pepper and mix well/ Add cooled bulgur and mix/ Serve or refrigerate.

Parsley vinaigrette is a versatile dressing that’s delicious on salads, over grilled fish or grains.  You can make your favorite vinaigrette recipe and just add loads of chopped parsley or follow this easy recipe.

Parsley Vinaigrette

Ingredients: 2 cups chopped parsley (stems and leaves)/ 1/2 cup olive oil/ 3T fresh lemon juice/ 1/2 T champagne vinegar/1 clove garlic/ Salt & pepper to taste.

Directions: Pulse all ingredients in food processor until well blended.

I found this recipe in the April issue of Bon Appetit where chef Seamus Mullen, author of Hero Food, was singing his praises for this under-valued herb. He’s convinced of parsley’s nutritional and healing powers and has used it in his own fight against rheumatoid arthritis.

In addition to being a healthy superfood, parsley has a delicious flavor that’s not easily replaced by other herbs. While Parsley Anchovy Butter may not be your idea of a health food it’s one of my favorite spreads for crostini or crackers and makes an excellent appetizer, especially when sipping a gin & tonic. Sounds pretty healthy to me, especially when you use butter from Sea Breeze Farm. After all, when I saw my Dr. at the farmers market on Saturday, she was the one who convinced me to try it — the butter, not the gin & tonic.

Parsley Anchovy Butter

Ingredients: 6T softened unsalted butter/ 2 t parsley leaves, finely chopped/ 1 t minced anchovy/ 2 t shallot, finely chopped/ 1 t lemon juice/ 1/4 t lemon zest.

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl/ Taste and then season with salt & pepper, if you wish.

This recipe has been adapted from Suzanne Goin’s Gentleman’s Relish in Sunday Suppers at Lucques.

A couple other of my favorite ways to use parsley in starring roles — with shredded carrots and/or beets, dressed with lots of fresh lemon juice and a bit of olive oil, or toss a big handful in your next smoothie.

 

I hope I’ve convinced you that parsley didn’t end up in practically every recipe just for it’s good looks. It’s tasty, healthy, fresh and seasonal, not to mention, inexpensive too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Homemade Not-Too-Hot Hot Sauce http://mixedgreensblog.com/2014/06/08/seasons-eatings/appetizers/homemade-not-too-hot-hot-sauce/ Mon, 09 Jun 2014 00:02:19 +0000 http://mixedgreensblog.com/?p=20733 It’s all relative. This hot sauce has plenty of heat, but the recipe is about flavor first, heat second. Go for the burn with more seeds and another hot pepper or ten.

hot sauce #3

hot sauce 2

Talk about heat. We had a family reunion/graduation celebration just over a week ago in Rincon, Puerto Rico, where it’s hot in more ways than sauce. The climate, definitely, the women, the men, their fashion, their music, their salsa . . .  My second trip in a year and I can’t help feeling a little bland. One tries to become hotter, to fit in, but some things just weren’t meant to be. However, family living in PR for the past two years? They’re becoming hotter by the minute. Hey guys! Yeah you.

A year ago I was introduced to John & Roz’ passion for hot sauce. So much heat, not really my deal, but the flavor was a delicious surprise. I started using hot sauce sparingly for its taste. Just a little heat was enough: a dab with eggs, on fish or chicken tacos; in soup and stew; salad dressing; in certain beverages. In Puerto Rico dinner tables are festooned with hot sauce options. Choose your favorite or use them all. This recipe is potentially a mildish version, plus it’s homemade and can be kid-friendly. Use it with abandon for its flavor and make it hot, or not.

I know. Many of you have been using hot sauce forever – me, the late bloomer again.

Speaking of blooms. Vashon Island Garden Tour is happening in two weeks. Worth it for the island vibe alone, picnicing possibilities, not to mention great gardens. Two-minute video explains all.

When I found this Mark Bittman recipe the timing was perfect. Read his excellent article about chiles, or an excerpt below. Bittman’s deal with this recipe is to let the chile flavor shine instead of so much heat, though you can regulate more or less by leaving more seeds in the mix. And Pati’s Mexican Table website is a great source of information about chiles.

Chile-Tomato Not-Too-Hot Sauce

hot sauce 6

Not too hot is the point of this sauce. When a recipe tester suggested an optional serrano chile if cooks yearned for more spice, Mark Bittman said nope.

TOTAL TIME

Ingredients

  • 6 guajillo or ancho chiles
  • 1/4 cup neutral oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 cups canned tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup distilled white or apple cider vinegar

Preparation

  • Boil 3 cups of water. Put chiles in a large skillet over medium heat and toast, turning once, until fragrant, 2 or 3 minutes on each side. Transfer chiles to a bowl, pour boiling water over them and soak until soft and pliable, 15 to 30 minutes. Remove stems and as many seeds as you like (the fewer you remove, the hotter the sauce will be). Roughly chop them, and reserve soaking liquid
  • Put oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add chiles, onions and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions soften, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, honey, salt and pepper.
  • Adjust heat so the mixture bubbles gently. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is very thick, 10 to 20 minutes. Let it cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a blender with the vinegar. Purée until completely smooth, adding more vinegar or a splash of the chile-soaking liquid if you want it thinner. Pour into a glass bottle or jar, cool completely and refrigerate up to a week.

hot sauce

YIELD About 2 cups
My Notes: I followed this recipe almost exactly. Almost. I used 3 anchos, 1 jalapeño, 1/2 of a serrano and a red chili. All seeds removed. It’s what I had and I checked for heat as I went. I added 1/3 C of the soaking liquid when blending and a tablespoon more of apple cider vinegar. Yielded 3 cups, one in the freezer. Just the right amount of heat for us and lots of flavor. We love it. I’ve already added a couple of spoonfuls to a ripe avocado to make instant guacamole; plan to embellish almost any bowl of soup with a spoonful; also with roast chicken thighs or breasts. Just before they’re done, remove from oven and put chile-tomato sauce on each piece for the final 10 minutes of roasting. The pan juices will be imbued with the flavors of the hot sauce as well as each piece of chicken. Sprinkle pan juices over chicken and rice or quinoa when serving.
hot sauce 3
An excerpt from Bittman’s 6/4/14 NY Times article:
To me, there is no prettier sight than a counter loaded with chiles: long, mild, fresh red or green ones. (In New York, we’d call the former “Korean” and the latter “Anaheim.”) And then a few of the never-ending supply of fresh and incredibly inexpensive poblanos, those gorgeous dark green babies that so perfectly straddle hot and not, as well as anchos, which are the same models, only dried. And finally, a variety of dried chiles, California or New Mexico, guajillo, mulato and pasilla in all colors: red, black, beige or the characteristic burnt black chiles, a result of a process I’d not recommend trying at home; it can bring on a form of instant bronchitis. Buy them already blackened.
 
There are a couple of steps before you plunge in; one is optional, one essential. The optional one is roasting, or toasting. This makes a difference even with dried chiles, and even if you’re going to be cooking them anyway. Just a few moments over a gentle fire, or in a skillet, or even in a hot oven, will release complex aromas that may otherwise remain hidden. Fresh chiles, of course, benefit mightily from roasting because although it isn’t essential, it’s nice to discard the skins, just as it is with roasted bell peppers. Which brings us to heat. Any chile, even a mild bell pepper, can contain some heat. And that heat is stored variously in the seeds, stems, veins and skin, all of which can be removed. With dried chiles, the process is easy: Just break the thing open, get rid of the seeds and stem and, if the chile is moist enough, tear out the veins. By doing this, you’ve really disarmed the thing and rendered most chiles safe to eat in the quantity that will allow you to enjoy their flavor
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Resurrecting Rhubarb-Thyme Jam, Pie, & Alice’s Soufflé http://mixedgreensblog.com/2014/04/20/in-the-garden/resurrecting-rhubarb-thyme-jam-alices-souffle/ Sun, 20 Apr 2014 18:46:04 +0000 http://mixedgreensblog.com/?p=20371 Want something sassy and hot pink for supper? In a word, rhubarb: rhubarb-thyme jam (like a chutney), and rhubarb pie. Preceded by a light and airy, easy-to-make souffle. Aaaah, springtime.

stalks of fresh rhubarbrhubarb

We never think to smell the rhubarb, it has way too much competition right about now, but we should. It’s a robust and gorgeous big-boned gal (thank you K.D. Lang) whose hot pink underpinnings are the fruit of delicious culinary offerings. Our backyard rhubarb matures on the early side, has been around maybe twenty-five years now and provides abundant, deliciously sour stalks through most of June. By then it’s lost its fresh demeanor and is decidedly less appealing. I can assure any Pacific Northwesterner – including much of the northern hemisphere – that you’ll find rhubarb at Farmers Markets, in backyards, and in grocery stores starting about now. Whatever Easter may mean for you, let it include something with rhubarb, which is resurrecting itself at this very moment.

I’m making a birthday rhubarb pie for Poppy today (recipe below). If you’re not into pie-making there’s this rhubarb-thyme jam that’s quick and delicious with a nib of cheese on a cracker, with lamb or pork. Plus, it’s sassy and hot pink. Something rhubarb, along with Alice Water’s goat cheese souffle. Happy Spring.

Rhubarb-Thyme Jam Recipe

rhubarb thyme jam

Recipe created by Becky Selengut at Cornucopia.

rhubarb thyme jam

Ingredients: 3 C rhubarb, medium dice from about 3 large stalks/ 1 T ginger, grated/ 1 stick cinnamon/ 1 T fresh thyme, chopped/ 10 grinds black pepper/ 1/2 t salt/ 1/3 C champagne vinegar/ 1/4 C honey, or more to taste/ 1 t lemon zest.

Directions: Put all ingredients into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring often, for about 30 minutes until thickened. Remove cinnamon stick and cool the jam in refrigerator until ready to serve. Serve with a selection of local cheese, lamb or pork.

rhubarb

Rhubarb Pie ‘Recipe’

rhubarb pie 3

rhubarb pie rhubarb pie 2

An anecdotal recipe: Make a two-crust pie dough of your choice. I often use Alice Waters’ recipe, which you can find via this link – scroll to mid-page. For the rhubarb filling: Combine 5 – 6 C rhubarb, cut into approximately 1/2-inch chunks, 1 1/2 C sugar (can be a mix of white and brown sugars), 1/4 C flour for thickener, 1/2 t salt, 1/2 t cinnamon and 1 t lemon zest (both optional). Stir the rhubarb mixture together and let it stand while you roll out the dough. Put it all together, bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes (with a cookie sheet beneath for possible juice overflow), lower to 350 for another 35-50 minutes or until crust is browned and rhubarb is bubbling. Allow pie to cool at least partially, then enjoy a quintessential springtime dessert. Maybe wish somebody Happy Birthday.

Alice Water’s Goat Cheese Soufflé Recipe

souffle

From The Art of Simple Food. This recipe was quick and easy to follow, each batch was mixed and in the oven in under twenty minutes. I made the full recipe, then cut it in half, used various cheeses in addition to goat, added a pinch of this and that on a whim – it all worked. Make it local: Port Madison Farm goat cheese (portmadisonfarm@yahoo.com), Beecher’s Flagship cheddar, Mt Townsend Cirrus or Trailhead, Rogue River Blue, each was delicious; Stoney Plains Organic Farm eggs, Organic Valley milk.

Ingredients & Directions: Goat Cheese Soufflé, 4 servings

Soufflé Base: Melt 5 T butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat/Stir in and cook 3 T flour for 2 minutes/ Whisk in 1 C milk, little by little, whisking thoroughly between addition/ Season with salt, black pepper, a pinch of cayenne, 1 thyme sprig, leaves only/ Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes/ Remove from the heat and cool slightly.

Separate 4 eggs/ Stir the yolks into the cooled white sauce/ Add 4 ounces soft, mild goat cheese/ Stir in and taste for salt/ It should be ever so slightly too salty to make up for the unsalted whites, which will be added later/ Preheat the oven to 375ºF/ Butter 1-quart soufflé dish, or another baking dish such as a gratin dish, with 1 tablespoon soft butter.

Whip the egg whites into moist firm peaks/ Stir one third of the whites into the soufflé base/ Then gently fold the base into the rest of the egg whites, taking care not to deflate them/ Pour the mixture into the buttered dish and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until puffed and golden, but still soft in the center and jiggly when shaken gently.

Serve immediately and savor the beauty of a soufflé and its melting in your mouth.

Note: Fill baking dishes about ¾ full, bake large soufflés in a 375ºF oven for 35-40 minutes; bake individual smaller soufflés at 400ºF for 10 minutes. Resist the urge to peak while they bake.

I’m a little smitten over soufflé now that I’ve made these few. It took a long time for us to get together, but I think it’s going to work out. I happily share the infatuation.

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Grilled Cheese Grows Up http://mixedgreensblog.com/2014/02/02/seasons-eatings/appetizers/grilled-cheese-grows-up/ http://mixedgreensblog.com/2014/02/02/seasons-eatings/appetizers/grilled-cheese-grows-up/#comments Sun, 02 Feb 2014 23:00:10 +0000 http://mixedgreensblog.com/?p=12231

Growing up I used to love grilled cheese sandwiches, made with white spongy bread and sliced american cheese — especially when paired with a bowl of Campbell’s tomato soup. I still think this combo makes a pretty ideal lunch only now I eat some homemade tomato soup from my freezer and use mostly local ingredients on my sandwich. So what seasonal ingredients can you put in a grilled cheese sandwich in the dead of winter? As it turns out, there are plenty to choose from starting with some excellent local cheeses. Three of my favorites for sandwiches are Willamette Valley fontina, Port Madison goat cheese and any of the fabulous cheeses from Beecher’s, I especially like their Flagship.

Local breads are available at just about any market. You’ll want one that’s thick enough to get nice and crispy but not so dense that the cheese gets buried inside and can’t melt properly.  Butter, not in the pan, but spread on the outside of each slice is key to the “grilled” surface. Bread, butter and cheese are all you really need but why not have some fun and make a meal of it. Once I started thinking of combinations, I soon realized that the possibilities are endless, even at this time of year.

Classic Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Ingredients: 2 slices sandwich bread/ butter/ cheese — choose one that melts easily.

Directions: Put a nonstick skillet on medium low heat/ While the skillet is heating up, generously butter one side of both pieces of bread/ Place slices of cheese on one non-buttered side of slice of bread, using as much or as little as you like/ If you’re going to add extra ingredients, pile them on too and top with the other slice of bread, buttered side out/ Place sandwich in heated skillet and let it cook until the outside is golden brown, 3-4 minutes/ Using a spatula, flip the sandwich over and cook the other side the same way/ Once the second side is done, flip back to the first side to reheat for a minute or two/ If your bread isn’t too thick and your cheese is soft enough, this should be plenty to melt the cheese without weighting it down or pressing with the spatula.

Lightly sauteed mushrooms and thinly sliced onions or shallots make a meaty vegetarian grilled cheese. I used local cremini mushrooms but for a very special occasion, I’d be tempted to go for some wild ones, using a mildly flavored cheese letting the mushrooms shine.

Until we reach BLT weather next summer, Skagit River Ranch bacon makes an excellent addition to a grilled cheese especially with sturdy winter greens like spinach or arugula. Locally canned tuna is another protein possibility for a tuna cheese melt.

Apples, pears and herbs like sage or rosemary go especially well with goat cheese. I like to saute the herbs in a little butter first but the fruit is delicious raw and thinly sliced. Cut into quarters, this sandwich makes a wonderful appetizer with a glass of chilled white wine.

Just let your imagination go and think outside the box when it comes to grilled cheese sandwiches. Melted cheese is good on almost anything. Put out different cheeses and various other ingredients and let each person design their own sandwich. Sounds like a party!

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Homemade chips for couch potatoes http://mixedgreensblog.com/2013/01/27/seasons-eatings/appetizers/homemade-chips-for-the-couch-potato-in-all-of-us/ http://mixedgreensblog.com/2013/01/27/seasons-eatings/appetizers/homemade-chips-for-the-couch-potato-in-all-of-us/#comments Mon, 28 Jan 2013 00:55:33 +0000 http://mixedgreensblog.com/?p=17806 If you make it at home does it become a guilt-free indulgence or just another indulgence that we could live without but don’t want to?

potatoes

Potato chips, kale chips, caramel corn, cheesey crackers, stuff that’s fun to eat, easier than you might think to make, and without the packaging and mystery ingredients. No preservatives here. Sorry but you have to eat them right away. I know how you hate that with things like salty chips and caramel corn. Actually, they do last at least a few hours, in some cases a few days, but tend to lose their crisp sooner than the store bought variety. And need I mention, a quarter or so the price of store bought. There. Less guilt already.

That you can make this stuff at home without much trouble was a revelation to me. Roll up your sleeves for half an hour or so and make a batch of chips or crackers. Make leek dip to go with and then hit the couch. Indulge. Guilt is locked away in the garage until you need it for something serious, like two helpings of chocolate cake.

Baked Potato Chips Recipe

closeup chips

Equipment: A mandolin if you have one, to facilitate thin slices, or use a sharp knife and your best cutting skills. The thinner the slice the crisper the chip. You’ll need a cookie sheet per potato so  plan on baking in batches or use two pans. Parchment paper.

After experimenting with several batches, here’s what I discovered: less oil is better; thinly sliced potatoes cook at different speeds so check often and remove a few at a time as they become lightly browned and crisp – some chips were done in 9 or 10 minutes, others 15 minutes; I was able to remove chips from the pan or move them around with my fingers, no spatula necessary; ones that were slightly too brown were still good; lower heat and longer baking time worked better than high heat.

Ingredients: 2 medium sized potatoes (enough for 3 or 4 snackers), *Russet or Yukon Gold/ 3 T olive oil (approximately 1 1/2 T per potato), salt & pepper to taste. *The batch of russet potatoes turned out best. Just luck? Not sure.

potatoes

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees/ Preparing one potato at a time, pour 1 1/2 T of olive oil into a large bowl/ Line one or two cookie sheets with parchment paper/ Scrub clean and peel (optional) two potatoes/ Using a mandolin or a sharp knife, make very thin slices/ Place slices of one potato into bowl with olive oil and toss very gently, turning and separating each one so that each is lightly coated/ Add olive oil 1/2 teaspoon at a time if more is needed/ Spread potato slices out on cookie sheet, turning slices over at least once to make sure that each is coated with a little oil/Potatoes can be touching, but not overlapping on the pan/ Sprinkle with 1/2 t salt, pepper if you wish.

Cooking time varies so keep an eye on these/ Bake for 8 minutes (some might be done or close to done), turn chips over, bake another 5 – 10 minutes, removing chips from the oven a few at a time as they are done/ When potatoes are golden and starting to curl they’re usually done/ Some cooks don’t bother turning them over at all so do what you like with that part/ Taste and season again if needed while chips are still warm.

Allow to cool, find a couch and settle into some serious snackin.

You might already be wondering about chipotle pepper with the salt, cumin, garlic powder . . . yes, sprinkle with whatever, but go lightly at first and do it before baking or while chips are still piping hot from the oven so that flavorings will adhere.

I tried sweet potatoes too. Taste good, but don’t look so great. sweet potatoe chips

More good couch potato stuff:

Crackers           crackers-3

Caramel Corn maple caramel popcorn

 

Leek Dip            leek-dip-1

Kale Chips         Kale Chips

 

 

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Summer Vegetable Roast Au Jus http://mixedgreensblog.com/2012/08/12/seasons-eatings/basic-recipes-on-the-local-table/summer-vegetable-roast-au-jus/ http://mixedgreensblog.com/2012/08/12/seasons-eatings/basic-recipes-on-the-local-table/summer-vegetable-roast-au-jus/#comments Mon, 13 Aug 2012 00:00:04 +0000 http://mixedgreensblog.com/?p=16707

Before you head for the beach, roast a pan full of tomatoes, peppers, fennel and garlic, add balsamic to their pan juices, then soft goat or ricotta cheese (or any soft cheese). A luscious serving of summer on a platter. Serve it up with bread, pasta, rice, spaghetti squash. With pasta, this was the center of our eating this past weekend and it was heaven. Once prepared, it’s ready for whenever and however you want to serve it. Vegetarian and healthy, but tastes rich and decadent. As sister-in-law Pam would say, it’s beyond.

Speaking of exquisite, swimming at Colman Pool on the beach at Lincoln Park in Seattle is one of the best things you can do for yourself this summer – or, wherever you are, your own local version of this. A sprinkler might do. The swim and the stroll to and from the pool is summer in a nutshell, and if you have this summer veggie roast waiting at home, even better. Dinner on the table in fifteen.

Summer Vegetable Roast Au Jus Recipe

This is truly an anything goes recipe. Make it your own. What makes this a standout is the deliberate use of pan juices and the addition of a little balsamic, creating a sauce, a dressing that sends basic roasted veggies over the top. Oh, and the cheese. Use more or less of anything, include zucchini, onion, olives, any combination you like. Same with the cheese, choose what you like. The following recipe is a description of how I put together this batch, which turned out to be a winning combo. We ate it with pasta over the weekend, every last morsel and drip of au jus, gone. Delish.

Serves 3 – 4 for a meal with bread, pasta, rice, appetizers for 6 – 8.

Ingredients: 3 C cherry or quartered tomatoes/ 1 poblano chile, 1 red pepper, each sliced lengthwise/ 4 cloves of garlic, slivered/ 1 medium bulb fennel, cored and sliced thinly lengthwise, include some of the fronds/ 1/3 – 1/2 C olive oil, salt & pepper/  1 – 2 T Balsamic vinegar/ Fresh basil

These ingredients and summer produce of all kinds are available at local farmer’s markets.

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees/ Prepare and combine all vegetables in a large, shallow roasting pan/ Reserve the basil for later/ Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste/ Toss together until vegetables are coated with oil and seasoning/ Spread veggies evenly and roast for 50 – 60 minutes. Check & stir vegetables after about 25 minutes, return to oven/ Remove from oven when vegetables are soft and have begun to char a little around the edges/ Let cool for at least half an hour/ With a slotted spoon or spatula, remove vegetables from roasting pan to a serving platter, leaving the juices in the pan/ For the dressing, whisk Balsamic vinegar, 1 – 2 T, into remaining pan juices/ Place small spoonfuls of cheese around the platter, drizzle it all with the au jus and sprinkle with fresh basil/ Serve with garlic toasts, plain bread, pasta, rice . . . heavenly summer food, local and seasonal.

Cheese mixture: 1/2 C whole milk ricotta, 1/2 C fresh chèvre/ 1 T each fresh thyme & oregano/ Stir together and refrigerate until ready to serve. Just ricotta or goat cheese would be fine too.

Double batch caution: vegetables roast best in a single layer, though they can be crowded. Use two roasting pans when making a large batch so there’s plenty of room for veggies to roast and caramelize.

Thank you to Ross Dobson, Market Vegetarian, for inspiration. Checked this cookbook out from the library and like it a lot.

Poppy and I are gone fishin’ until September 2nd. Might do a posting, but then again, might not. In the meantime, grab some sun, have a picnic, go for a swim or a splash somewhere, build a sand castle, make applesauce. Eat tomatoes!!! Happy summer.

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