August 31, 2012

Rosemary-Ginger Pickled Red Grapes


Ingredients:
3 lb red seedless grapes
1 cup water
1 1/4 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
12 black peppercorns
2 springs rosemary
2 1/4-inch thick slices fresh ginger
2 dried tien tsin peppers
2 bay leaves


Directions:
Prep your jars/lids. Slice an shallow X into the stem side of each grape. Evenly divide the spices and grapes between 2 pint jars. Combine the water, vinegar and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a low boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Pour brine over the grapes, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Remove any bubbles. Seal and process in a water bath for 10 minutes.


Yield: 2 pints



Note: A great source for canning information is the Blue Book guide to preserving. I highly recommend it for learning how to can. Here is a bunch of other canning books and equipment I find useful.





My thoughts:
I love pickled fruit and this year I've been even more into pickling fruit then ever before. Jam and jelly takes so much fruit to make even a small batch and it seems like every weekend this summer has either been fully booked, 100 degrees or raining. Which means we haven't been hitting the pick-your-own farms or even the farmers market the way we have in the past. Pickled fruit however, in addition to being tasty, is much easier to make in small and even very small batches making it an easier and cheaper project than jam/jelly. What I like to do is make a few small batches of different fruit and flavors at once so I can get the most out of heating up that enormous pot of water.

This particular pickles have a heavy herbal note thanks to the fresh ginger, bay leaves and rosemary.

August 30, 2012

Sunshine Crookneck Squash Pickles

Ingredients:
2 crookneck squash, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rings
3 jalapenos halves (aka 1 1/2 peppers, sliced lengthwise)
1/2 small onion, sliced
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
1 teaspoon dried Valencia orange peel
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon dill seed
3 cups water
3 cups white vinegar
1/3 cup pickling salt


Directions:
Bring the water, vinegar and salt to a boil. Prep the lids/jars. Evenly divide all of the spices and peppers between 3 pint jars. Add the squash, leaving 1/4 inch headroom.

Pour in the vinegar mixture, still leaving that 1/4 inch headroom. Close the jars and process for 10 minutes in a hot water bath. Allow to sit 1 week before eating.




Yield: 3 pints

Note: A great source for canning information is the Blue Book guide to preserving. I highly recommend it for learning how to can. Here is a bunch of other canning books and equipment I find useful.


My thoughts:
I've talked before about our apparent yellow squash thumb. Our squash has been doing so well, I added a crookneck squash tag to the blog. We only have the two plants so we aren't as overloaded as we could be (no dropping off baskets of squash on neighbor's steps in the middle of the night) but we are still averaging a good number of squash a week. I was looking at the stash on the counter and with my crack canner's eye noticed that the circumference was just about that of a canning jar. I made zucchini pickles before so why not crookneck? Why not indeed. It took just a couple of minutes to slice the squash, pop it in the jars (I slightly bent a couple to really wedge them in) with some spices and then they joined some pickle friends in a quick trip in the water bath.

Our crookneck squash has been really sweet so thought some orange notes and a touch of sugar would be good but since I am not a fan of really sweet pickles (even my fruit pickles are pretty savory) I slid a jalapeno in for a bit of heat.


Try them on hamburgers! Not only are they a tasty alternative to the also delish classic pickled cucumber, they are the perfect size.

August 29, 2012

Chile Spice Pickled Nectarines



Ingredients:
4 large nectarines, pitted and sliced
1 cup water
1 1/4 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
8 whole cloves
4 white cardamom pods
12 black peppercorns
2 whole star anise
10 coriander seeds
2 bay leaves
2 dried Thai birds-eye chiles

Directions:
Prep your jars/lids. Evenly divide the spices and nectarine slices between 2 pint jars. Combine the water, vinegar and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a low boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Pour brine over the nectarine slices, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Remove any bubbles. Seal and process in a water bath for 10 minutes.


Yield: 2 pints



Note: A great source for canning information is the Blue Book guide to preserving. I highly recommend it for learning how to can. Here is a bunch of other canning books and equipment I find useful.

My thoughts:
I can't believe this is the first recipe I've posted using nectarines. I've been doing this for over eight years now and nectarines might possibly be my favorite fruit. I think I eat them too quickly to get the urge to make something with them.

Anyway! I've seen a lot of recipes for pickled peaches in the past. I've been tempted to pickle peaches too but 1. peach fuzz makes my hands itchy so I avoid handling peaches as much as possible and 2. I had some nectarines that I wasn't sure I was going to eat in time. Since I was making some other pickles and had room in the pot, I thought I'd make a couple of jars out of them. I'm glad I did! They are perfectly sweet-tart, spicy and very juicy. I think they'd be lovely over a salad or served with seafood. They are just so light and summery. The chile adds just enough heat to keep them interesting and from sliding into "candied" territory.

August 28, 2012

Seedy Garlic Cauliflower Pickles


Ingredients:
1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
2 jalapenos, halved
8 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon celery seed
3 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
3 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon charnushka
3 cups water
2 cups white vinegar
1/3 cup pickling salt

Directions:
Bring the water, vinegar and salt to a boil. Prep the lids/jars. Evenly divide all of the spices, peppers and garlic between 4 wide mouth pint jars. Add the cauliflower, packing it down and leaving 1/4 inch headroom.

Pour in the vinegar mixture, still leaving that 1/4 inch headroom. Close the jars and process for 10 minutes in a hot water bath. Allow to sit 1 week before eating.


Yield: 4 pints

Note: If you'd rather not process these pickles, you can make these into "refrigerator" pickles. Just let them come to room temperature and keep all of the jars in the refrigerator.

Note: A great source for canning information is the Blue Book guide to preserving. I highly recommend it for learning how to can. Here is a bunch of other canning books and equipment I find useful.






My thoughts:
I always find cauliflower to be oddly expensive so when some went to sale recently, I thought I'd finally do something I've been thinking about for a while: make cauliflower pickles! I am of course, a huge fan of anything pickled and while I've mostly had pickled cauliflower as part of a larger pickled dish like giardiniera, I thought they'd be fun to pickle on their own. I can just picture a pickle plate with these pretty white pickles, some dill pickled garlic, Old Bay zucchini pickles, hot pepper pickled asparagus and smokin' hot pickled okra. I also really enjoyed these with a wedge of really sharp cheddar as a late night snack.


One unexpected thing about these pickles is that after I took them out of the pot, there was a lot of "float"; the cauliflower was above about 2 inches of brine. The next morning however, they were as they are pictured there, evenly distributed in the brine just like they were before processing. I haven't had this happen before but I like it! The pickles would taste the same either way but the jars look prettier with the cauliflower spread out.

August 27, 2012

Cinnamon, Star Anise & Vanilla Pickled Black Beauty Grapes



Ingredients:
3 lb Black Beauty grapes
1 cup water
1 1/4 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
8 whole cloves
4 4-inch cinnamon sticks
4 whole star anise
2 Tahitian vanilla beans, halved

Directions:
Prep your jars/lids. Pierce each grape with a fork*. Evenly divide the spices and grapes between 4 pint jars. Combine the water, vinegar and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a low boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Pour brine over the grapes, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Remove any bubbles. Seal and process in a water bath for 10 minutes.




Yield: 4 pints

Note: A great source for canning information is the Blue Book guide to preserving. I highly recommend it for learning how to can. Here is a bunch of other canning books and equipment I find useful.




*I actually used a two pronged cocktail spear.






My thoughts:
I saw these beautiful Black Beauty grapes at the grocery store and had to have them! I didn't know exactly what type of grape "Black Beauty" was but when I looked it up it turned out it is a type of muscadine, which are a popular variety of grape in the South. Seedless, dark purple and pretty large; I thought they'd be perfect for pickling. Luckily, I was right! I pierced the slightly tough skin to ensure that the pickling liquid really penetrated. Since the grapes were on the sweet side, I really stepped up the spices with this recipe: whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, star anise and vanilla beans really pack a punch!

Try these grapes on their own, in a drink or part of a cheese plate.

Note: For best flavor, let these pickles sit one week before eating. Also, as with most pickles, if you do not want to process them to be shelf stable, you can let them come to room temperature and then refrigerate them.

August 24, 2012

Crawfish & Andouille Pizza



Ingredients:
1 cup crawfish meat (from about 2 lb steamed, whole crawfish)
20 cocktail-sized andouille sausages, halved lengthwise or left whole
1-1 1/2 cups finely shredded mozzarella cheese
14 sliced, pickled banana peppers
1/2 tablespoon Creole seasoning
Holy Trinity Pizza Sauce
Creole Spiced Pizza Dough


Directions:
Prepare the dough according to the instructions in the dough recipe. Prepare the Holy Trinity Pizza Sauce.

Once the dough is ready, spread about 1/3 cup of sauce on each pizza. Sprinkle both pizzas with 90% of the cheese. Evenly divide and distribute the toppings. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese (this helps keep the toppings from shifting when you take the pizza out of the oven) then sprinkle with Creole seasoning.

Place on the preheated pizza stone and bake for 12-15 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned and the cheese is melted. Slice and serve immediately.


Yield: 2 pizzas

My thoughts:
My local grocery store keeps getting in slightly unusual seafood lately: different kinds of fish, squid, these crawfish (crayfish) and I keep buying it because 1. I like variety and 2. I'd like them to keep stocking unusual seafood so I want to make sure someone is buying it. So then I had to come up with a crawfish recipe on the the spur of the moment. There is a pizza place near where we live that also makes po'boys and other NOLA inspired foods. They don't have any Creole or Cajun inspired pizzas but that always seemed like a mistake to me. Since I had the crawfish I thought I'd make my own pizza, one I wish they'd make. Obvously I needed andouille but the store didn't have links, just the mini cocktail sized andouille so I bought that. It actually ended up being pretty cute on the pizza. I love when making do turns out for the best after all.

Holy Trinity Pizza Sauce


Ingredients:
1 onion, minced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1 cubanelle pepper, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
28 oz canned crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons parsley
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions:
In a large saucepan, saute the onions, celery, pepper and garlic, in olive oil, 3-5 minutes or until fragrant. Add tomatoes and spices and stir. Cook 30-40 minutes on low or until thickened to the point when you run a spoon across the bottom of the pan "parting" the sauce and virtually no liquid trickles into the middle.


My thoughts:
In Lousiana, onions, peppers and celery are called the holy trinity because they form the base of many local dishes like gumbo, étouffée, dirty rice and jambalaya. Bell peppers are commonly used but I prefer the bite of cubanelles. Just take care to finely dice everything or you will end up with a lumpy pizza. Try it with my crawfish & andouille pizza.

Creole Seasoned Pizza Dough




Ingredients:
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
2 3/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 tablespoon Creole seasoning

coarse-grain cornmeal for dusting
olive oil for greasing the bowl

Directions:

Pour warm water into the bottom of a stand mixer. Add sugar and yeast. Stir the mixture until the yeast is dissolved. Stir in the Creole seasoning, olive oil and salt. Add the flour.

Using the dough hook and mix until the dough becomes a smooth, elastic ball. At this point you can fold the dough onto itself a couple of times if you'd like. Coat the inside of a large bowl with additional olive oil, and place the dough in the bowl, smooth side up. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and place in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 40 minutes. Remove plastic wrap, and use your fist to push down on the center of the dough. Fold the dough in half four or five times. Turn dough over, folded-side down, cover with plastic wrap, and return to the warm spot to rise again. Wait until the dough has doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 475. Place 16-inch (or larger) pizza stone on lowest shelf position.


Punch down the dough and transfer to a clean surface. Divide the dough in half, and knead each half four or five times into a ball. Place one of the dough balls back in the oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Lightly flour a clean surface, place the dough ball on top, pat into a flattened circle, cover lightly with plastic wrap, and let rest 5 minutes*. Begin to flatten and push the dough evenly out from the center until it measures about 7 to 8 inches in diameter. Leave a 1/2 inch border of unflatted dough around the edges of the circle. Lift the dough off the surface, and center it on top of your fists. Rotate and stretch the dough, moving your fists until they are 6 to 8 inches apart and the dough is several inches larger. Then place your fists under the inside of the outer edge, and continue to stretch the dough until it reaches about 12 inches in diameter. The dough will drape down over your forearms. Start over if the dough tears or gets to thin. Do this carefully, preserving the raised edge. Sprinkle cornmeal all over the surface of a pizza peel or parchment paper.

Place the pizza dough into a circle on top of the cornmeal-dusted peel. Distribute pizza sauce on the dough, leaving the 1/2 inch of raised dough bare. Sprinkle with cheese and toppings.


My thoughts:
I wanted a lightly spiced dough to go with my exciting crawfish pizza but I think this dough would work well with any pizza that needs a little zip. It is an awesome dough to work with as well, it rolls out like a dream and doesn't tear when you stretch it.

August 22, 2012

Grilled Rosemary Mussels with Rosemary-Malt Vinegar Dipping Sauce


Ingredients:
3-4 lb mussels, cleaned
1 large onion, sliced
3 springs rosemary, leaves only
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
canola oil


dipping sauce:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup malt vinegar
1 spring rosemary, leaves only

Directions:
Prepare grill according to manufacturers instructions. Toss the mussels, onion, rosemary, salt and pepper together. Drizzle with canola oil, toss again. Pour into grill pan. Place on grill. Cover and grill 5-10 minutes or until the mussels are all opened.

Meanwhile, in a small pot, place the butter, vinegar and rosemary. Melt over low heat. Whisk together. Serve with hot mussels.



My thoughts:
The picture above is from my iPhone. Not bad, huh? My camera battery died just as the mussels were done so I had to improvise! I didn't have time to charge my battery, it was dinner time!

I have made mussels many times but never on the grill. I was doing some canning (fruit pickles!) and was running out of burners and the house was hot so I thought I'd try them out on the grill. I had just bought this mesh grill roasting pan (similar to this one) at an end-of-season sale (is it really the end of summer already? I plan on celebrating summer until the actual end, in September) and it seemed perfect for the mussels. You could grill them directly on the grill grate but I have to say, it is easier to get them off of the grill when they are in a basket.

The final product is awesome. Smoky, rich and full of the sea.

August 20, 2012

Spice Pickled Mirabelle Plums




Ingredients:
20 mirabelle plums
1 cup water
1 1/4 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
2 whole star anise
2 whole cloves
2 whole white cardamom pods
10 white peppercorns
1 bay leaf


Directions:
Add the plums and spices to a quart jar, taking care to leave a little more than 1/2 inch of headspace at the top. Combine the water, vinegar and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a low boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Pour brine over the plums, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Remove any bubbles. Seal and process in a water bath for 10 minutes.


Yield: 1 quart

Note: A great source for canning information is the Blue Book guide to preserving. I highly recommend it for learning how to can. Here is a bunch of other canning books and equipment I find useful.

My thoughts:
I had some mirabelle plums leftover after making jam and eating some out of hand so I thought I'd try pickling some. I love pickled fruit and hadn't had a chance to pickle plums before. I thought their small size, sweet flesh and tart skin would be great in a pickle. I was right! These pickles are sweet, puckery and intensely flavored. Although the plum are French specialty, the spices I used are a slight nod to Scandinavian cooking. They are just so aromatic, I knew they'd be a great fit.

Since I made such a small batch, I used my Ball Home Canning Discovery Kit basket and my largest stock pot instead of my big canner. Since it was a smaller pot, the water came to a boil quickly. In fact, this whole project took about 15 minutes, including processing the cans. You could also easily slip this jar in with a batch of something else you are canning. I just just trying to preserve the plums before it was too late and didn't have any other canning projects ready to go.

Some thoughts: If you have more plums, I think this recipe could be easily doubled. You could also use two wide-mouthed pint jars instead of one quart. I have a bunch of vintage quart jars my mom's friends have passed on to me and I like to use them when I can.

August 18, 2012

Raspberry-Plum Jam



Ingredients:
12 oz fresh raspberries
4 large black plums, finely chopped
3 tablespoons powdered pectin*
2 cups sugar

Directions:
Use a potato masher to gently mash the raspberries. It should yield 1 cup crushed raspberries. Repeat with the plums to yield 2 1/4 cups.

Evenly sprinkle the bottom of the Ball Jam Maker with the pectin. Spoon the fruit in a relatively even layer over the pectin. Press the jam button. You will hear a beep at 4 minutes. Sprinkle the sugar over the fruit mixture while the machine is still running. Cover and let it do its thing until it beeps again. Press the cancel button and unplug the machine. Ladle the jam into prepared jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Process in the hot water bath for 10 minutes.


Yield: about 4 8-oz jars. (I was just slightly under so I canned 3 8-oz, 1 4-oz and had a bit leftover that I just ate)



*I recommend these jars of "flex" batch pectin. 3 tablespoons equals 1/2 of a pouch of boxed pectin.

Note: A great source for canning information is the Blue Book guide to preserving. I highly recommend it for learning how to can. Here is a bunch of other canning books and equipment I find useful.


My thoughts:
I recently aquired the new Ball Jam Maker and have been dying to try it out. I haven't been canning as much this year as last because it has been too hot or rainy to go berry or peach picking like we did last year. We had a bumper crop of raspberries and blackberries very early in the season but it was short-lived and I made other things with them. Anyway, all this means is that I've had this jam/jelly maker for a while now and it was just last week I finally got to try it out. I know making jam isn't the hardest things in the world (I've made plenty of it) but it does require me to be in the kitchen, over a hot stove during the hottest time of the year in our un-air-conditioned kitchen. Not the most fun even though I love the outcome. Enter the jam maker in 20 minutes or so (about the time it takes my enormous canning pot of water to boil) you get jam. From what I can tell, it is basically like a wide slow cooker with a paddle that stirs and cooks the jam without getting your kitchen hot. Or the need for you to watch it. It does make rather small batches of jam (4 8-oz jars or so) but you can clean it out and use it again in the same day of course and if you are like me and like to make a variety of flavors of jam, means you aren't overloaded with any one flavor. I went pretty simple this time since I hadn't used it before but I don't see why you couldn't add some other herbs or vinegar to the mix. I was pleased with the results. One of the issues I've had with plum jam was having too many big pieces of skin left (which I personally don't mind but other people have commented on) and this time there were few obvious pieces left in the final jam. I like the flavor of plum skin so I was glad I could leave on. The jam was also, as you might expect, very, very well mixed, not as "lumpy" as homemade jam can be.

August 17, 2012

Rachel's Aged Cheddar Pimento Cheese


Ingredients:
2 1/4 cup shredded aged sharp cheddar
4 oz jarred diced pimentos, drained
2/3-3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Directions:
Place all ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir to combine. Refrigerate overnight for best flavor.


My thoughts:
Baltimore isn't exactly a pimento cheese stronghold but being a reader, I had read many books that mentioned it over the years and was intrigued. Occasionally, I've seen jars of it in the store but how could that compare to homemade? Alas, no one I know has, to my knowledge, made pimento cheese much less served it to me so I was on my own. I had made a version of it but it wasn't quite traditional. So when I was in Nashville in May I took that chance to have pimento cheese in situ. On our last day in Nashville, we had lunch at Picnic, where I had the salad plate which was pimento cheese, chicken salad, a muffin and carrot sticks. The perfect Southern ladies who lunch plate. It was as good as I expected so I thought I'd make my own. My cheddar is a little more aged than what they used (I used Cabot Private Stock Cheddar I bought at Costco which has a crumbly texture that works well in this dish) and I added a bit more bite with the mustard and paprika but the spirit is the same. Cool, picnic-like and oddly summery.

August 15, 2012

Mirabelle Plum Jam


Ingredients:
3 1/4 cups crushed (with a potato masher)pitted mirabelle plums (about 2 lbs)
3 tablespoons powdered pectin
2 cups sugar

Ingredients:

Prep jars/lids for canning. Place the plums into a large, heavy bottomed pan. Add the sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring until it begins to reduce and thicken. Stir in the pectin. Continue cooking at a low (rolling) boil for 2-3 minutes or until it looks thick and jammy. Fill the jars leaving 1/4 inch headroom. Process in the hot water bath for 10 minutes.


Yield: about 4 8-oz jars.

Note: A great source for canning information is the Blue Book guide to preserving. I highly recommend it for learning how to can. Here is a bunch of other canning books and equipment I find useful.


My thoughts:
When Matt came home from our local farm store saying he had bought some mysterious little yellow plums we were both intrigued. They were so sweet and juicy and unlike any plum we had seen in the stores or farmers market before. A little sleuthing revealed that they were mirabelle plums. While they can be grown here, there are some what rare and mostly grown and eaten in France. Apparently in the Lorraine region of France they are made into two things: jam and eau-de-vie, a type of fruit brandy. Since I am not set up to make my own brandy, I thought I'd make jam. I looked for jam recipes online but 95% were in French and used the more "casual" European approach to jam making. I thought I'd share what I did to make this French jam in the American, FDA-approved, more sterilized way. Now I know these plums can be tricky to find but they are worth seeking out. They are perhaps, the best plums I've eaten and the jam is unparalleled. I think your best bet for finding them (if you don't have a tree yourself) is a farm store, pick-your-own farm, gourmet grocer or farmers market. Good luck!

August 13, 2012

Spicy Roasted Okra


Ingredients:
1 lb okra
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon hot paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss all ingredients together until the okra is well coated. Arrange in a single layer on the pan and roast for 20 minutes or until crisp and lightly browned.


My thoughts:
I was faced with a lot of super fresh okra I had picked up at our local farm store and wanted to do something different with it. I hadn't roasted okra before so I thought I'd give it a shot. It was really good! The spices stuck well and the okra came out very smooth, almost creamy; not oozy at all.

August 10, 2012

Turkey Sausage Gravy with Greek Yogurt Pepper Biscuits



Ingredients:

for the biscuits:
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup 2% Greek yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
sea salt

for the sausage gravy:

1 pound bulk turkey sage sausage
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

for the biscuits:
Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. Flour a clean, dry flat surface.
In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Add the yogurt and milk and stir until a smooth dough forms. Place on the floured surface and using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to about 1 inch thick. Use a 2-3 inch biscuit cutter and cut out biscuits. Arrange 1/2 inch apart of the baking pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.


for the sausage gravy:
Melt about a tablespoon of butter to a skillet. Add the the sausage and cook, breaking up large chunks with the back of a spoon, until browned. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup flour and spices and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in the milk. Cook, stirring continuously, until the the mixture thickens. Pour over biscuits.


Yield: 6-8 biscuits

My thoughts:
We've been feeling rather Southern around the Rappaport house this summer as you might have noticed. Sausage gravy over biscuits is south of the Mason-Dixon favorite but one that is definitely on the heavy side. I love it but honestly, made the traditional way, it always leaves me feeling a little queasy. It is just so heavy! Pork sausage, pork fat, butter or lard biscuits. Too much. So I decided to make my own version that I could eat and enjoy. It honestly tastes a lot like traditional sausage gravy so much so, I think you could pass it off as pork if you wanted to be sneaky. The trick is using flavorful turkey sausage as your base. Then I made very light, fluffy and moist biscuits using Greek yogurt instead of butter or lard. They were awesome and I can't wait to make them again. They were very fine textured (I even broke out my stash of White Lily flour for them) but substantial enough they didn't get super soggy when doused with gravy. Best of all, I felt great after eating them! This really takes sausage gravy and biscuits from a "once a year" food to something you'd feel comfortable letting into more regular rotation.

August 08, 2012

Calamari Stuffed with Eggplant



Ingredients:
1 eggplant, cubed
1 cubanelle pepper, diced
1 large shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon capers
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 onion, diced
1 tablespoon minced parsley
1 teaspoon minced oregano
1 lb cleaned squid "tubes"
32 oz crushed tomatoes
6 oz cooked pasta (I used gemelli)

Directions:
Saute the eggplant, pepper, shallot and garlic in olive oil until the shallot is translucent and the eggplant is softened. Meanwhile, saute the onion in a Dutch oven until translucent then add the tomatoes and herbs and reduce heat to low. Remove the eggplant mixture from heat. Toss with breadcrumbs and capers. Allow the mixture to cool slightly. Fill each tube with eggplant. Do not overfill, the squid will shrink as it cooks. Pierce the squid with 1-2 toothpicks to seal. Place the squid in the sauce. Cover and cook 3-5 minutes or the squid starts to cook. Remove the lid and continue cooking until the squid is fully cooked and the filling is hot. Serve with pasta.


Serves about 4.

My thoughts:
When I saw cleaned squid at the grocery store I knew I had to get it. I've been wanting to make stuffed calamari for years but the few times I've seen squid, it has been sold as a combo of tubes and tentacles and since the tentacles are heavier and seemingly more numerous than tubes, I'd have to spend a fortune to get enough squid tubes to stuff and then I'd have to make something with a couple of pounds of tentacles very shortly afterwards. This time the tubes and tentacles were sold separately. So I bought a pound of tubes (about 10? tubes)and then scrambled to think of something to fill them with. I had noticed eggplants when I first walked into the store and they looked really good so I went back and picked some up. I'm glad I did because I ended up making an Italian inspired dish and these in season eggplants were not only tasty but the perfect texture for stuffing the squid. The end result was wonderful. The squid wasn't chewy and the eggplant was velvety. I kept the tomato sauce simple and it didn't overpower the seafood at all.

August 06, 2012

Sunny-side Up Egg Topped Crookneck Squash Risotto with Bacon



Ingredients:
5 1/4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 crookneck squash, cubed (about 4 cups)
2 large shallots, minced
2 cups Arborio rice
1/3 cup Parmesan, grated
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
3 slices cooked thick cut bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
4-6 eggs, fried
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper


Directions:
In a saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer. Heat oil and butter in a large saucepan Saute the shallot until translucent. Add the rice, salt and pepper and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring continually. Add the broth a 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously, and waiting until the liquid is absorbed before each addition. When you are about a third of the way through the broth, add the squash to the rice. Continue to add broth and stir. When the risotto is creamy and the rice is al dente remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan and bacon. Top with fried egg.


My thoughts:
We have really been having great luck with our squash. We didn't even know it was crookneck when we planted it (extra plants from my mom's neighbor) but we've been enjoying it. Normally grocery stores only carry zucchini or plain yellow squash (at least around here) so crookneck is a fun change. I think it tastes a little sweeter than regular summer squash, even when compared to homegrown zucchini of years past. Of course, you could sub in yellow squash or zucchini if you don't have crookneck. The fried egg and bacon was just a fun idea I had. Sort of a dinner-breakfast crossover. Brinner?

Note: I used an awesome knife from New Westknife Works to cut up all of these ingredients. It is so sharp and cuts like a dream. I have never made such quick work of a squash before. I can't wait to try it out on winter squash. They are beautiful as well. Right now they are hosting a giveaway for a knifeblock + knives. It is an amazing set. Contest ends August 13th.

August 03, 2012

"Skinny" Summer Crab Dip



Ingredients:
16 oz blue crab claw meat
8 oz Neufchâtel*, at room temperature
3/4 cup 2% Greek yogurt
2 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons Old Bay
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon ground lemon peel
1 shallot, minced


Directions:
In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients until they are evenly distributed. If you'd like, mix using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment instead of by hand.

Refrigerate overnight prior to serving, if possible. Store, refrigerated, in an air-tight container 5-7 days.



*AKA reduced fat cream cheese, not the French cheese with the same name.


My thoughts:
Baltimoreans love crab dip. It is at pretty much any party or celebration and the recipes are often a closely guarded secret. I shared my recipe a while back and while I love it, when I went to make it again it just seemed a little too heavy for August. The original has a lovely melt-y cheesiness which means a trip in the oven which I just couldn't face. This recipe is further lightened up by using Greek yogurt instead of sour cream which gives it a nice but not overpowering tang and Neufchâtel instead of cream cheese. I always use canola mayonnaise instead of regular so no sub was needed for that.  Just as tasty, just a little lighter. A skinny crab dip if you will. Perfect for a summer party. Not that you need an excuse to make it.

August 01, 2012

Blue Crab & Bay Scallop Chowder


Ingredients:
1 lb bay scallops
8 oz blue crab claw meat
1 large onion, diced
1 large russet potato, diced
3 ears worth of corn kernels
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapenos, diced
3-4 slices thick cut bacon, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 tablespoon pepper sherry
24 oz evaporated milk
1 1/4 cup milk
sea salt salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

In a Dutch oven, cook the bacon. Drain off most of the rendered fat. Saute the onion, potato, garlic, jalapeno, and celery until the vegetables are softened. Add the pepper sherry, spices, milk, and evaporated milk. Simmer until the potatoes are nearly cooked. Add the crab and scallops and simmer until the scallops are fully cooked.


My thoughts:
When we were in Maine, we ate a lot of chowder. No clam chowder oddly (maybe it was out of season?) but lobster chowder, fish chowder, seafood chowder, shrimp chowder. They were all very good but I found that the chowders I liked the most had a lot of "stuff" in them. Most of the chowders we had were straight up fish and broth. Which again, were tasty but I liked the ones with a bit of vegetables and other seasonings as well. Not to mask the fresh seafood but to enhance it. I used some cute bay scallops and fresh blue crab meat. I was just going to go with the scallops but 1. I am a Baltimorean and think everything tastes better with crab and 2. I like how the crab pops up in more bites than the scallops do. I didn't want a spoonful to be seafood-free and scallops can be elusive, slippery things in soup.