Tag Archive for easy

Summer Lunch

Summer has been cooler here than in prior years. So while tomatoes are really just starting to ripen and yield – finally!!!! – for real (a good 2 weeks past my usual tomato target date though), cabbage, kale (kale!!! in July! edible!) and lettuce greens are doing just well. On the other hand, the sweet potatoes are looking anemic, and the okra… well, we won’t talk about the okra. Frankly, there isn’t much to talk about!

Let’s talk instead about the colorful lunch (or dinner) plate that one can make from the garden at the moment . Everything can be cooked, days in advance, and assembled just a few minutes before serving. Perfect for when one feels lazy or is hurried. For example, today’s lunch:

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First, spread a variery of lettuce leaves on the plate; Read more

Making Radishes Lovable

There is somebody in the house who’s not so fond of radishes, especially radish leaf soup or stir-fried radish pods, but I’ve just hit the jackpot!

I made something with radishes where the reaction was: “I can eat radish like that all day long!” I am sure that was an exaggeration, and I won’t serve this at every meal. But I must admit it was good.

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In fact, the current crop of French Breakfast style radishes has peaked: they are gathering strengths to make seeds, and you can tell because the root is starting to a be little hollow. Still… I can’t throw them out.

Thanks to VeggieBelly, I’ve had fresh pickles on my mind – hers was mango, but hey, I don’t have mangoes, I have radishes – and what else do I have growing now? let’s see spring onions and cilantro – lots of cilantro as a matter of fact, and it’s starting to bolt because it did not like the few days above 90F (32C) that we had – so I need to use it.Voila, Quick Pickled Radish Salsa was born! We’ve tried it with several dishes, and we like it best with stir-fry beef, simple pork stew, hamburger steak and served with rice. Definitively need the rice to make up for the saltiness (and heat) of the pickle. And inspired by Marisa of Food In Jars who puts everything in jar, I jarred it. (if the radish salsa is not consumed right away, the radishes will start to turn pink throughout, continue to exude some juice and the texture will change somewhat – still very good – just not the same).

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Quick Pickled Radish Salsa Read more

Presto Garden Buckwheat Noodles

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I don’t know about you, but when I am home working and need a quick lunch, I want it QUICK. It’s often throwing together a green salad & omelet, or fajitas (or quesadillas), or – in winter – reheating some soup and making a sandwich (tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich being a favorite). Sometime, I want a little more, though, and that’s when stir-fry come to the rescue. Like today.

All one need is some noodles, a couple of veggies to keep the taste simple, some seasoning, and a little protein – today, it was eggs. At other time, left over meat or chicken works just fine.

So I put a big pot of water to boil. Run to the the garden to see what I can get and settle on some baby kale and tatsoi (raiding the fridge will do, in a pinch); I’ve got plenty of shallots, garlic and ginger on hand (I know, it amazes you that I keep ginger on hand); soy sauce? here. Sesame oil? check. Looks like we are leaning towards “Asian” flavors here, so let’s use some buckwheat noodles… yes? yes! Let’s go. Stir-fry eggs, then the veggies as the pasta cooks, add pasta, add seasoning. Serve. Eat.

Oh, and do note, that this is very flexible. Adjust the quantities to fit your needs and appetite. I only provide quantities for those people who can’t do without. You know who you are. Ah, yes, I need to call this something too, right? How about Presto Garden Buckwheat Noodles? I am hungry, so that’s good enough. Read more

Pork Chops with Chunky Pepper Tomatillo Sauce

Friday night’s dinner often requires little thought as it often consists of homemade pizza – not much to think about: make the dough, let rise 45 minutes, flatten, spread some toppings (variations are endless). Bake for 15 minutes. Meanwhile mix a salad, set the table and voila!

Thursday night is sometimes a little more complex: it’s not yet the week-end, and we are still caught up in the week’s activities. Stir-fries and sautéing then come to the rescue, especially if one has thought of taking some meat or chicken out of the freezer the night before. Then all that’s left to do is to take a quick inventory of what’s around in terms of vegetables and throw something together using those classic techniques. Varieties is provided by the vegetables and the spices.

Tonight was such a night. Pork chops (from a local farm, of course) were thawed, we have plenty of home-grown potatoes in the storage area and the peppers and tomatillos picked before the frost, while still perfectly good, need to be used. Impromptu Pork Chops with Chunky Pepper Tomatillo Sauce was forming a picture in my mind. Less than 30 minutes later dinner was ready. The recipe makes dinner for two – but is extremely easy to double or triple. You just need another pan for the extra chops.

pork chops with pepper tomatillo sauce

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Roast Chicken on Sunday = Tex-Mex Chowder on Day 4

Continuing our series of Roast Chicken on Sunday means easy tasty meals for the week… This is day 4 and we are using the remaining Day 2’s Chicken Tomatillo Soup of which we made a big batch. With the help of onions, potatoes and corn, we are going to transform it into a robust, flavorful, unusual and mostly meatless chowder that’s perfect for a cool fall night. Yes folks, there is still some late corn out there – if you can’t find it, just use frozen corn.

A bowl of tomatillo corn chowder

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Chicken on Sunday = Fall Rainbow Stir-fry on Day 3

Continuing our series of Roast Chicken on Sunday means easy tasty meals for the week… This is day 3 and we are using one cooked breast from our Roast Chicken. You can still make this stir-fry using an an uncooked chicken breast. You just need to stir fry it longer to ensure it’s cooked through, before adding back the vegetable.

The idea behind stir-fry is to use what you have. Pick 3 or 4 vegetable with contrasting colors, that remain firm when cooked (not tomatoes), that cook quickly (not potatoes) and that do not “bleed” (not beetroot). I picked yellow beans, broccoli florets and red Italian peppers (in addition to onion), because they made a pretty colorful plate, and I had all of them on hand. Other choice at this time of the year might be: corn, green beans and orange bell peppers. Or green bell pepper, shredded cabbage and julienned carrots… you get the idea.

When making stir-fry, it’s important to have all the ingredients trimmed and cut to size, i.e. ready to go into the pot – that, by the way is called “Mise en place” in restaurant lingo - because each ingredients cooks fast. It’s also important to cut/slice/dice each ingredient into the same size to ensure even cooking. Finally, while a wok is nice, it’s not necessary: a cast iron skillet (which is what I use) works just as well. However, do not overcrowd the pan, or the result will be steamed ingredients, not stir-fried. Much better to cook in small batches! Each ingredient is first cooked separately, and set aside. Finally everything is added back to the pan with the seasoning liquid and cooked for a couple of minutes.

A plate of Fall Rainbow Stir-Fry

Fall Rainbow Stir Fry Read more

Chicken on Sunday = Chicken Tomatillo Soup on Day 2

I love visiting other people’s gardens and tasting food they cook from their garden. So when I went to visit Pat D.’s garden in Castleton, VA, I was in for a treat. She asked me to stay for lunch, and served a most intriguing Tomatillo Chicken soup: pale green, slightly sour with a hint of heat, it was very pleasant. I, of course, requested the recipe since tomatillos are now behaving almost like a weed in my garden – albeit a welcomed one – as they pop everywhere. Pat said she got the recipe from the internet years ago when she was trying to figure what to do with all those tomatillos. Her husband Ed has been making the soup ever since and they both love it. The original recipe called for 2 chicken breasts that one has to pound and then sautéed. I thought left over from a roast chicken – especially dark meat – would work even better. And it did. Pat’s recipe did not called for any spice, I added some coriander seeds. My recipe has less meat than hers (feel free to add more to your taste) and is also thicker. Remember, we are using meat from the chicken roasted on Sunday.

A bowl of Tomatillo Chicken Soup

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Not Yet Peached Out

A bowl of peachesI promised more peach recipes. If “recipe” is the word to use. You got to do a lot of things – fast – when you got a bushel (close to 60 pounds!) of peaches.

Perfectly ripe fruit call for a very simple treatment. Why mess up with pure goodness? Some nice dough, a sprinkling of sugar, a dash of spices. Voila!

This “recipe”for rustic summer fruit tart works with peaches, nectarines, apricots and plums. Picture #1 shows 3 unbaked Rustic Tart, 2 plums & 1 peach; picture # 2 shows baked Rustic Peach Tarts.

Three assemled tart waiting to be baked

Ingredients

  • frozen puff pastry (Or fresh, if you make it. I have not quite been successful at puff pastry and will admit to buy it – unbaked and frozen). Frozen puff is what I’ve got on the freezer right now, so that’s what I use.
  • ripe peaches, pitted and sliced (I don’t bother to peel – although I do wash – but go ahead and peel if you must)
  • sugar
  • vanilla powder

Thaw puff pastry. Roll out thinly on a floured surface.

Cut each sheet in rectangle – any size, does not matter. In the picture, I cut up a 3-fold pastry sheet rectangle in 3, giving me 3 small-ish rectangular tarts.

Put dough on parchment paper on cookie sheet. The parchment paper – while optional – prevents sticking and makes it easier to remove the baked tart without tearing the bottom.

Arrange sliced fruit on top, leaving enough edge to fold the pastry on the fruit. See first picture. Crimp, pinch etc as necessary to ensure the pastry wraps well up the fruit to hold the filling in place during cooking. You can see on the 2nd picture, in the middle tart the dough was not wrapping the fruit well enough so some juice escaped during baking

Sprinkle one or two tablespoons of sugar and a dash of vanilla powder on fruit.

Bake in a preheated 400 F oven. 20 minutes or until done (i.e until the pastry is puffed up and golden, with slightly browned edges)

That’s it! Pretty, tasty, easy. Fast enough to make just about any week night…

Rustic Peach tart

Ruby Lemonade

A glass of blackberry lemonadeI don’t like to throw out (I mean compost) food – even things that other people may not see as still edible.

I went wild berry picking earlier in the week (that’ll make a post fo another day) and decided to make a sorbet with some of the wild blackberries I picked. (By the way, if you ever wonder why berries seem so expensive, go pick some, and you’ll get a much better understanding of that price…)

The wild blackberries have a lot of seeds, so I strain the puree before mixing it with my syrup. But although I tried to squeeze as much pulp as I could (getting purple hands and a new color pattern on my apron in the process) there was still too much pulp left for me to throw those seeds in the compost without a vague guilt feeling.

I had lemons left. We had Spirited Lemonade over the week-end as well as marinated lemon chicken. Sooo… How about blackberry lemonade?

I put water in a bowl, drop the whole seed mass in there, swish them around, strained again, and voila! blackberry wash! Then I squeezed a few lemons, use the blackberry wash instead of water, sugar to taste (not too much: maybe 2 tablespoon for the quart I was making, as I prefer my lemonade tart), and we had a beautifully ruby-colored lemonade, tasting of both lemon and wild blackberries.

Locavore log: blackberries from the hedgerow