Saturday, October 22, 2011

VP Corn and Black Bean Salad

I recently got home from Viable Paradise, where I go as part of the workshop staff every year. Part of my staff duties include cooking for a whole bunch of people, all week.

The kitchens are tiny, the workshop is on an island (lovely and idyllic Martha's Vineyard), and ingredients may or may not be available from one day to the next; as a result, I especially prize recipes that have the inherent flexibility not only to scale-up well, but to adapt to missing or substituted ingredients gracefully.

This is one of those recipes.


Mac's VP Corn and Black Bean Salad

  • 4-6 ears of fresh corn It was the tail-end of the season, but we got our fresh corn at Morning Glory Farm, and were very happy -- but if good fresh corn isn't available, frozen will do, or even canned)
  • 1 16 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed (I usually use about half-pound of dried black beans, though, soaked overnight then simmered in chicken or veg stock until tender)
  • 1 medium-to-large sweet onion
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1 large bunch fresh cilantro (I've made this recipe with curly parsley, too -- it's that flexible)
  • 1 large ripe mango (frozen will work, too, though - you want the amounts of corn, black beans, and mango to be roughly equivalent to one another)
Peel, clean, husk ingredients as needed, small-to-medium dice, so everything is about corn-kernel or black-bean sized.


Dressing:
  • 4-6 fresh limes, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic (you can use granulated or powdered, if fresh is too strong for you)
  • 1-2 tablespoons sugar (I like sugar-in-the-raw)
  • 1 tablespoon or so each of Oregano, Thyme, Parsley, Sweet Basil, to taste (fresh is best, dried is fine too, though)
Throw all the ingredients in a big bowl, dump the dressing over top, stir gently, let marinate as time permits (a couple of hours, at least, for best results) -- Stir again, right before serving.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Best Ever Lemon Meringue Pie

This recipe comes from a lady from Sunburst, Montana who has gone from this earth.  I found it in a cookbook called Recipes From the Aschim Family Ancestry.

My husband and a number of his friends, who had the privilege to grow up in her community and experience her baking, all swear this is the best lemon pie they have ever eaten.

Since my husband is in his mid-seventies and remembers this from early childhood, when they had community gatherings, I have no idea how old the recipe really is, but if you like Lemon Pie, he and his friends swear this is the best ever.


Kate Aschim’s Lemon Pie

2 cups water
1 ¼ cups sugar
4 Tblsp corn starch
Rind of lemon
6 Tblsp Lemon juice
Butter (size of walnut)
pinch of salt
3 egg yolks

Stir sugar and cornstarch together; add water and cook in a double boiler. Add beaten egg yolk and cook until clear. Pour into baked crust.

Never Fail Meringue:

2 Tblsp sugar
1 Tblsp cornstarch
½ cup water
Put in a saucepan and cook until clear. Set in cold water to cool.

Beat to a soft mound:

3 egg whites
1/8 tsp salt
vanilla

Add 6 Tblsp sugar and beat well. Add cooled cornstarch mixture. Continue beating until meringue stands in stiff peaks. Spread over custard. Bake at 350 degrees for 17 minutes or until light brown.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Quick and Easy Method for Freezing Fresh Summer Fruit


Right now there's a lot of fresh summer fruit available that's perfect for freezing. This is the easiest way I know of to freeze fruit. The basic method is to freeze the fruit in a ziploc bag or freezer container. I like to use the one quart bags because it's enough for most recipes, and they stack easily. Think about freezing fresh strawberries by placing them on a cookie sheet first, for aesthetic reasons, but you can simply wash, hull and slice them. To freeze grapes, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries, just rinse the berries, remove stems and trash, dry them and put them in freezer bags or containers. Frozen blueberries and grapes make fabulous eat-by-the-handful summer snacks, by the way.

For peaches (or apricots), you need to dip the fruit in boiling water for thirty seconds or so, so that you can easily peel them, them remove the pits and freeze the fruit in halves or slices. You need to use ascorbic acid with peaches and apricots to keep them from turning brown. I find that adding a teaspoon of ascorbic acid to a quarter cup or so of sugar (depending on the sweetness of the peaches) works well. You don't have to use much sugar; the amount depends on the peaches, but the sugar blended with the ascorbic acid does keep the peaches looking fresher. Add the mixture to the peaches, and stir them gently to dissolve the sugar and coat the peaches. The sugar, mixed with the natural juice of the peaches, makes the ascorbic acid adhere evenly to the peaches.You can freeze fresh mangoes this way too, though you can peel them without using a hot water bath. Do be cautious about handling the mango skin; many people are allergic to it.

Stack the containers in your freezer, and enjoy summer fruit all winter long. You can open a bag, remove some fruit, and reseal it as long as the fruit has not thawed. You can eat the peaches and berries as is, over ice cream, or cook with the fruit-and-juice. I love to make fruit cobbler or blueberry muffins in the middle of February with fruit that tastes as ripe and fresh as the day I froze it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Recipes: Antique and Modern

I just got back from the Pacific Northwest and spending a couple of week with Mac. It is good to keep in touch, but especially good to touch. It was a little cool, but all in all, very nice weather.

I shared a recipe with Mac and would like to share it with the blog. I think it is a lot of fun to know how our ancestors cooked and equal fun to convert those recipes.

This is simple recipe for a simple, inexpensive dessert. Indian pudding, then and now.

INDIAN PUDDING (1828 recipe)

1 cup (not quite full) molasses, 1 cup (not quite full) cornmeal, 1 egg, 1 heaping spoonful of butter or fat, salt, ginger or cinnamon to taste, all beaten together. Full quart of sweet milk put on to boil and the ingredients stirred in. Take from fire and add not quite a full cup of cold milk. Pour into pan onto lumps of butter. Bake one hour. Extra good.

This is the way they did it. I tried it like this.

INDIAN PUDDING (today's recipe)

4 cups plus 2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 cups molasses (a New England friend uses Maple syrup, yummy)
2 eggs beaten
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ginger or cinnamon (I tried using both together, taste similar to pumpkin pie)

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Heat 3 cups of milk in top of double boiler (can use microwave). Mix 1 cup of milk and cornmeal. Stir into hot milk. Combine the molasses, beaten eggs, butter salt and spice and add to cornmeal mixture. Cook over low heat intil mixture thickens slightly. Remove from heat and add remaining 2/3 cup milk. Pour into a buttered 2 quart casserole and bake 2 hours. Serve warm or cool with whipped cream

*NOTE FROM MAC:
This is the sort of thing Mom would do with us, when I was little. We'd look at old recipes for pies, cakes, pancakes, bread -- anything you can think of, really, that people have eaten for generations. Then we'd make the recipe together, and experiment with ingredients and amounts.  So it was extra fun and a little like time traveling to make Indian Pudding together in my mom's RV kitchen.*

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Chocoholic Brownies

This is a great recipe for all of us chocolate lovers (what's not to love about chocolate?)

CHOCOHOLIC BROWNIES
Melt 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (real chocolate, not chocolate flavored chips) with 1 stick of butter or margarine (not the soft spread). I use the microwave, but it can be done on the stove over low heat.

Stir in, mixing well after each addition:
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts (optional)

Spread on a sprayed or greased 8x8 baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
To test for doneness, an inserted toothpick will come out crumble-moist. Do Not overbake. Cool before cutting.

Now you're ready to enjoy a chocolate delight.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Yummy Scalloped Pineapple

I recently had the joy of spending Easter in Denver with two of my daughters and their families (Mac couldn't make it, bummer). Anyway, we had a lovely Easter dinner after the beautiful Easter service at Galilee Baptist church. Easter isn't really the only time I go to church. We had a friend of my daughter and some of her husband's family join us and, all in all, had a great day. I met a new friend and we all visited and played games and just had lots of fun after the great meal.

Speaking of the great meal, my daughter served a recipe that I had never experienced, scalloped pineapple. That's what I want to share with you. It made a great side dish to go with the honey-baked ham, YUM.


SCALLOPED PINEAPPLE

1/2 cup margarine, melted
4 cups bread crumbs (we used King's Hawaiian Sweet bread)
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup evaporated milk
2 15 ounce cans of pineapple tidbits in juice, DO NOT DRAIN

Mix together and bake in a greased casserole dish
We used an 9" x 9" pyrex dish.
Bake 35 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees.

I know this sounds like pineapple bread pudding, but tastes nothing like any bread pudding. The bread isn't particularly noticible, but the pineapple and custard are excellent. Don't know that I'll just use it to accompany ham. Might try is as dessert with a little whipped cream topping.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Favorite Swiss Steak

My apologies for taking so long to post again. We have been out of a service area for my mobile broadband, lolling on the lake for a couple of months. Hope everyone had a great holiday season and now we're ready to cook something different. This is my recipe for Swiss Steak.

SWISS STEAK

2 pounds (or so) of steak (best if using less tender cuts of round or chuck, The oven and the tomatoes tenderize it nicely.)
Salt & pepper to taste. I also sprinkle with a little garlic powder and thyme.
Pound with steak hammer (or edge of a saucer), pounding into the steak as much flour as possible. Brown steak in small amount of cooking oil(do not fully cook). I like Canola oil. Remove from skillet and place in one layer in a baking pan or oven safe Pyrex.

Saute using 1 tablespoon of remaining oil:
1 diced onion
1 chopped green bell pepper
add:
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 can of original Ro-tel tomatoes with green chilis
(if Ro-Tel are not available can substitie anothe can of diced tomatoes and a couple of chopped jalapenos)
Pour tomato mixture over browned steak,cover with foil and bake at 350 for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Serve over hot rice. I get a little lazy with the rice and use Uncle Ben's Long Grain and Wild rice, and microwave it. I really like the seasonings in the rice with the flavor of the Swiss Steak. Should serve six, or lefteovers are great, reheated.
Hope you all enjoy it