September 29, 2012

Late Summer Corn & Green Tomato Relish

2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 4 ears)
1 cup chopped onion (about 1 medium onion)
1 cup chopped cubanelle peppers (about 2 peppers)
1 cup diced green (unripe) tomato (about 1 tomato)
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 jalapeno, minced
1/2 tablespoon yellow mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

If canning: Prep jars/seals.

Stir together all ingredients in a heavy bottom pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes. Ladle into pint jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace.

If canning: Seal the jars and process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.

Alternately, allow to cool to room temperature and store, covered, in the refrigator up to 1 week.

Yield: about 2 1/2 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 went to the farm store this weekend and was pleased to find some suprisingly sweet, tasty, late season corn. I'm trying to keep my green tomatoes on the vine as long as possible, in hopes that they will ripen before the first frost, so I was happy the store also had some green tomatoes. I thought they'd make the perfect relish when paired with the corn.

I ended up canning it because I had the big pot going for some more autumnal canning projects but it would be just fine in the fridge for a week or so and of course you can eat it right away. It is wonderful on pork, hot dogs, poultry and burgers.

September 28, 2012

Toasted Coconut Topped Bittersweet Brownies

6 oz 70% dark chocolate bars*
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 350. Spray with baking spray or grease and flour one 8x8 baking pan. In a saucepan, melt the butter, cocoa and chocolate together over low heat. Stir occasionally, and when the chocolate is nearly melted, remove from heat. Whisk until smooth. Set aside. In a small bowl, stir together flour, salt, baking powder. In a separate bowl, beat together the coconut sugar, eggs and vanilla paste until frothy. Slowly stream the chocolate mixture into the eggs and mix to combine. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients and mix until the batter is thick and glossy. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle with coconut flakes. Bake 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely before slicing and serving.

*I used 2 Green and Black bars (mince 1 ounce) I broke into the scored squares.

My thoughts:
I haven't made brownies in forever (years?) but I had all of the ingredients in my crammed baking cabinets (sounds more glamorous than it is) and had a chocolate craving so here we go! I came across coconut sugar when I was at the grocery store recently. I had never seen it before and only vaguely had heard of it so of course I picked it up! It smells sort of coconut-y but looks like demerara sugar so I thought I could use it instead of brown sugar in some brownies I wanted to make. Luckily it worked! These are very dark chocolate-y brownies and the coconut provides a perfect slight tropical note. I will note that these are more "adult" brownies (unless you know a child like I was who was obsessed with dark chocolate nearly since birth), the chocolate is quite dark, there isn't much sugar and the coconut topping is unsweetened. I cut the pan into 9 square but you could go smaller.

September 26, 2012

Turkey with Hatch Chiles, Okra & Rice Skillet

1 lb cubed turkey breast
2 cloves garlic, minced
10 fire-roasted Hatch Green Chiles, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 cup diced okra
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 cup chicken or turkey stock
2 1/2 cups hot, cooked white rice
1/2 teaspoon hot paprika
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

In a 12-inch cast iron skillet, heat some oil. Add the vegetables and cook until they are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the turkey and saute until nearly fully cooked, about 10 minutes. Stir in the rice, spices and stock. Stir until the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes.

My thoughts:
One the most requested type of recipe I receive is one skillet dinners. This is difficult for me because while I do make a fair amount of all-in-one meals in the slow cooker, if I am making a meal on the stove-top, it pretty much isn't a one skillet creation. Often I am making a main dish for this blog and a side for a client or vice versa. Or trying to make a bunch of recipes for the blog all in one shot.

But, the readers have spoken and I like to listen. I made a one skillet dinner. However, while I was typing up the recipe, I realized this isn't quite a one skillet meal because you have to make the rice in seperate pot. Hmmm. I just put it in the rice cooker so that's not cooking, right? Loophole. You could make the rice ahead of time or use leftover rice and heat it up slightly; warm rice seems to absorb the stock better. The stock really brings the flavors of the dish together so you don't want to skip that step.

I had dirty rice in mind when I was making it. I've been craving dirty rice but I didn't have liver on hand and I've been trying to avoid huge shops at the supermarket the last couple of weeks (just picking up odds and ends like bread, fruit) because I have so much food in the freezer and fridge already. I had defrosted some boneless turkey cutlets so I cubed them, used the rest of the Hatch Chile peppers we hadn't frozen and some okra that miraculously was still fresh despite being in my refrigerator for over 2 weeks. I thank shopping at farm stores and very, very cold refrigerator for that trick. Luckily, it all came together and was tasty to boot. Call it "clean rice". The peppers do turn the rice slightly green though.

I think it is the perfect meal to pull together on a weeknight. It is homey without being bland or boring and really satisfying. The okra stays nice and crisp which provides great texture variety, something I always find lacking in a lot of one skillet meals.

September 24, 2012

Bacon Vegetable 15 Bean Soup

1 lb mixed dried beans*
4 cups chicken or ham stock
3 stalks celery, diced
2 medium carrots, cut into coins
1 poblano pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
1 shallot, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
5-6 slices thick cut bacon, cooked and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 tablespoon ground mustard
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon thyme
2 teaspoon ground lemon peel
1 bay leaf
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

*Look for these with the rest of the beans. I normally get 15 bean mix but I've seen 10 and 12 bean mixes as well. Here they are pre-soak to give you an idea what the mix includes:

The night before you want to eat the soup, place the beans in a 4 quart slow cooker. Fill the slow cooker insert with water, covering the beans by at least 2 inches. I normally fill the insert nearly to the top. Cover and allow the beans to soak overnight.

The next morning, drain the beans and return them to the pot, discarding the water.

Extra credit: sauté the vegetables in a bit of bacon fat or oil until the onions are translucent and the carrots are bright.

Add the vegetables, spices and stock. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Stir and serve.

Note: Since this soup cooks for a long time (I've had it at the 12 hr mark and it was just as tasty) I like to prep the vegetables and bacon the night before so I can get them in the slow cooker as early as possible in the morning. I let them cool then refrigerate them overnight.

My thoughts:
I'm sad for summer to actually be over. I know for many summer "ends" at Labor Day but I keep on being summery as long as possible. While I enjoy many fall foods, they do remind me that soon it will be winter again, the most boring food time of the year. This recipe is perfect for a crisp fall day and even though it doesn't have too much in the way of seasonal fall ingredients, it tastes autumnal. It is also a great recipe for days when you don't quite feel like going to the store. All of the ingredients are ones I have in my cabinet or refrigerator at all time and I bet they are in your house right now too. Unless you are a vegetarian**. I love those kinds of meals because there are just days when I can't get to the store but don't want to rely on the paltry variety of takeout in my neighborhood. I had it for dinner and then lunch the next day topped with a fried egg. I think it is even better the next day but some times it thickens up a bit. I don't mind it but if it happens to you, you can thin it out with a bit of stock or even water while you reheat it.

As an aside, my husband took some to work and heated it up in this lunch warmer we picked up recently. We were slightly skeptical of it but it works great for heating up lunches like this that do not microwave well when you do not have access to a a stove. He just puts the stuff in the insert in the morning, plugs it in when he gets to work and the soup (or whatever) is warm by lunch time. One neat thing is that you can't smell the food while it is heating up so your office doesn't smell like soup all day.

FYI: This soup freezes well for future meals.

**You can make a vegetarian version of this soup pretty easily. Just leave out the bacon and use vegetable stock.

September 21, 2012

Ginger Cardamon Nectarine Jam

3 1/4 cup crushed nectarines*
3 tablespoons powdered pectin**
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground roasted ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 tablespoons lemon juice


Evenly sprinkle the bottom of the Ball Jam Maker with the pectin. Spoon the fruit in a relatively even layer over the pectin. Drizzle withe lemon juice. Press the jam button. You will hear a beep at 4 minutes. Sprinkle the sugar and spices over the fruit mixture while the machine is still running. Cover and wait for the jam cycle to complete. Press the cancel button and unplug the machine. If not using a Ball Jam Maker, make the jam on the stovetop using the traditional method as seen in this recipe.

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

*This was from a little over 4 1/2 cups diced nectarines from about 5 whole nectarines.

**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 had some nectarines leftover from making the barbecue sauce and thought I'd make a quick batch of jam. While I like making jam the old fashioned way (and you can, of course, use the measurements of this recipe to make jam on the stovetop) this Ball Jam Maker really is a lifesaver when you just want to make a few jars to use up some fruit or in this case, when I was distracted by creating another, more difficult recipe. It was wonderful not to have to keep an eye on two big pots on the stove at the same time! Added bonus: between this and the other recipe I was creating, I was able to put a full load into the canner. Which I love because I hate heating up the kitchen boiling that huge pot of water for just 4 jars.

I added some of my favorite spices, ginger and cardamom to this jam because I thought they'd really set off the lush, juicy nectarine. It makes the nectarine take on a tropical vibe which I really enjoyed. I can't wait to try this in stuffed french toast.

September 20, 2012

Zesty Plum Ketchup

2 1/2 lb Italian prune plums (about 52 plums), halved
3 cloves garlic, quartered
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup water
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon ground roasted ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon Vietnamese cinnamon

Prep your jars/lids. Place all ingredients in a heavy-bottomed nonreactive pot (I used my enameled cast iron Dutch oven). Bring to a rolling boil and cook until the plums are soft, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Use an immersion blender or ladle in a regular blender to pulse until smooth. Return to a rolling boil and cook until thickened to ketchup consistency*, about 20 minutes. Ladle into pint jars leaving 1/4 inch headroom. Process in a 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 are some of my other favorite canning books and supplies.

*The sauce does thicken up a bit upon cooling. You can place a small amount on a dish and chill it in the refrigerator (while you're cooking the ketchup) to check the cooled consistency if you'd like.

My thoughts:
That big box of fruit from the kind folks at Sweet Preservation included exactly 2 1/2 lbs of these "prune" plums. The skin was such a pretty shade of purple, I was suprised when the insides were acid green! They were also on the tart side. The very ripe ones (most were just on the edge of ripeness, not unripe but not squishy soft either) were sweeter but not that over-the-top gushing sweetness of black plums or those apriums featured early this week. Still, a lot of flavor from a tiny plum!

I was tempted to make jam but then I thought better of it and thought I'd try another homemade ketchup. I'm still thinking about that beet ketchup I made earlier in the summer and thought it would be lovely to have a summery version to have on hand during the chilly months. As it turns out, the plums were well suited to ketchup. They were pretty meaty for small fruit and thickened up not only well but rapidly. The end product was tangy, zesty and tart-fruity; the perfect replacement for my too-sweet sworn enemy, tomato ketchup.

Note: I'd never made anything with Italian prune plums before but don't let their prune-y name throw you off. They are just plums and while they can be made into prunes, they are great to cook with. The skin is thin so there is no need to peel them and they are freestone so once you halve them along the crease, the pit pops right out. And when they cook, they turn a sort of fuchsia. What's not to love?

September 19, 2012

Spicy Nectarine Barbecue Sauce

4 pounds nectarines, cut up and pitted
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 medium onion, quartered
1 clove garlic
1 small jalapeno
2 teaspoons hot paprika
2 teaspoons chipotle
1/2 teaspoon ground roasted ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Prep jars/lids Place the nectarines, onion, garlic and jalapeno in a food processor or blender. Pulse until nearly smooth. Pour into a heavy bottomed pot and stir in the remaining ingredients. Simmer over low heat until thickened to barbecue sauce consistency, 10-20 minutes. Ladle into prepared jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Process in a hot water bath for 20 minutes.

Yield: about 7 8-oz jars + 1 4-oz jar

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 Sweet Preservation emailed me asking if I'd like to be a Canbassador, spreading the canning word, of course I jumped at the opportunity. I'd been to the website before while looking for modern, stylish looking jar labels so I knew they were my kind of canners. Sweet Preservation is a product of the Washington State Fruit Commission and they asked if I would like to have some fruit shipped to me from Washington. Of course I did! I wasn't sure what I was going to get so I was excited to open the box and find plums, nectarines and peaches. Our favorites! I know we are starting to transition into apples, pears and winter squash but many stone fruits are still perfectly in season. You know how much I love to extend summer as much as possible and these fruits were super juicy and flavorful.

I had canned the nectarine-aprium butter a week before this arrived so I felt comfortable canning nectarines in a non-jam way again. I like that nectarine skin is so thin you don't have to peel them; so much better than peaches! I just blitzed them in the Vitamix, stirred in some more ingredients, simmered and it is ready to can in just about the same amount of time it took to bring my huge canning pot to boil.

This barbecue sauce hits the perfect note of hot-sweet and is fruity to boot. I can't wait to try it in the dead of winter when I need a little cheering up. It tastes like a hot summer day in a jar.

September 18, 2012

Peaches in Vanilla Bean Syrup

14 peaches, peeled, pitted and halved
3 vanilla beans
4 cups sugar
8 cups water

Prep 4 quart jars.  If you'd like, float the peach halves in water mixed with Fruit Fresh or lemon juice, to help retain their color after peeling and slicing. Then pack them into the jars. Meanwhile, bring the sugar, vanilla beans and water to a rolling boil. Do not let it reduce. Pour the hot syrup into the jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Run a knife or a jar scraper to dislodge any bubbles while turning the jar slightly. Seal. Process in a hot water bath for 30 minutes.

Yield: 4 quart 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:
Last year my mom gave me a ton of old canning jars she had collected from various friends who were no longer canning. Most of them were pretty standard but a few were more unusual (to me anyway) especially in the quart size. I don't can much in quart sized jars (they're huge!) so I haven't used most of them. Last year I had wanted to can peach halves but peaches just were not very good last year; all watery and flavorless. Then this year it was iffy or downright awful weather pretty much any day we wanted to go to the pick-your-own farm so I didn't think I'd be able to get it done this year either. Then my box from Sweet Preservation showed up and it was full of large, juicy, delicious peaches! Peaches are Matt's favorite (I think he eats more than a bushel a summer all by himself, no exaggeration) and I thought it would be great preserve the last gasp of summer for the winter months. I made a light syrup infused with vanilla beans because I think peaches and vanilla are a wonderful combination and heavy syrup is just too sweet and well, syrupy. This is very light and I think the leftover syrup from the opened jars will be great in drinks or drizzled over yogurt.

To get back to my old canning jar anecdote, I dug out some quart jars to use and ended up using a square Ball jar with a really old (pre-1933? there isn't a swoop under "Ball") logo, a jar stamped "Magic Mason Jar", a fun Atlas jar and a Laurens "Longlife". Of course it really doesn't matter what the jars like but it is fun to think of all the other things that have been canned in them and they look pretty in my canning cabinet.

September 17, 2012

Nectarine Ruby Velvet Apricot Butter

4 lb nectarines, pitted and coarsely chopped
2 lb Ruby Velvet Apricots (apriums), pitted and quartered
2 cups sugar
1 inch knob ginger, grated
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 Tahitian vanilla bean

Place all ingredients in a 4 quart slow cooker, stir. Turn on low and cook overnight (about 8-10 hrs) with the lid slightly askew to allow for some evaporation to occur. Uncover and cook on high 8 additional hours. The mixture should be thick and paste-like when ready.Fish out the vanilla bean and discard it. If the mixture isn't totally smooth, pulse it with an immersion blender. Prep your jars and lids. Pour the butter in the jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Process in a boiling 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 are some of my other favorite canning books and supplies.

My thoughts:
I had some suddenly very ripe nectarines that I had to do something with so I thought I'd try to make fruit butter instead of my usual jam. I also picked up a few pounds of what was labeled apricots so I thought I'd use some of them too but when I started cutting them up, I realized they weren't really apricots, they were apriums! They were small like an apricot, the skin was a fuzzy but the texture of the flesh was closer to that of a plum than an apricot. They were also reddish colored rather than well, apricot. I thought maybe it was just a variety of apricot I hadn't seen before but I am sure it is an aprium. After doing some legwork, I'm pretty sure it is a Ruby Velvet Apricot (actually an aprium despite the name), a relative of the Black Velvet Apricot I made jam with last year. Luckily, I love apriums! Less delicate than apricots but just as sweet and juicy.

It made a lovely fruit butter, perfect to spread on sandwiches, swirl into yogurt and pair with cheese. It is thicker and creamier than jam which I think makes it a bit more versatile.

Note: I put this butter up before I went to bed and canned it in the late afternoon. You of course can do it the opposite way but the chopping/set up was the perfect little project to do in the evening and who wants to can the second they wake up?

September 15, 2012

Hatch Green Chile Turkey Burritos

8 oz Hatch Green Chile-Tomatillo sauce
2 cups shredded, cooked turkey
15 oz canned black beans, drained
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 fire roasted Hatch green chile, diced
1/3-1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar
sour cream
1 avocado, sliced
2-3 giant burrito sized tortillas*
about 1 cup cooked white rice tossed with the juice of 1 lime
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper


Heat oil in a small saucepan. Saute the onion, chile and garlic until fragernt. Add the beans and spices. Simmer unitl the beans are heated through.

In a second small sauce pan, stir together the turkey and Hatch Green Chile-Tomatillo sauce. Simmer until warmed through.

To assemble: Place a small portion of rice middle of a warm tortilla. Top with beans, turkey, avocado, cheese and sour cream. Fold the top and bottom towards the center, then wrap the sides towards the middle to close.

*Seriously, this what they were labeled. They were even bigger than regular burrito tortillas; think of the burritos one might get at a famous, national burrito chain big.

My thoughts:
In an effort to clean out the freezer in order to make room for the Hatch green chiles, I defrosted then grilled a whole turkey we simply rubbed with a chipotle spice mix. We had some that day and saved some for these burritos. If you are not a turkey fan for some reason, you could use chicken but I think the turkey works really well here. The flavor of the turkey stands up to all of the other ingredients in a way that chicken often doesn't in a burrito. To me the burrito is best when it is a mix of flavors and textures: cool and creamy vs. hot and spicy. This burrito is all three (if slightly unphotogenic).

September 14, 2012

Hatch Green Chile Chili with Pork and Black-eyed Peas

12 fire-roasted Hatch green chiles, diced
1 lb cubed pork roast
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
30 oz canned black-eyed peas, drained
30 oz canned diced tomatoes, drained*
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

suggested toppings:
shredded sharp cheddar
diced avocado
sour cream or Greek yogurt

Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Quickly saute the chiles, pork, onion and garlic until the pork is white on all sides. Scrape the mixture into a 4-quart slow cooker. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Cook on low 8-10 hours. Stir prior to serving.

*I actually used some fancy organic canned tomatoes that had both red and yellow tomatoes in the can but just regular old red canned tomatoes would work just fine.

My thoughts:
This is a pretty simple recipe but a good one! I wanted to let the special flavor and spice of the Hatch chile peppers really be the star for this chili. The pork is mild but adds depth and I don't know but I find black-eyed peas to be underutilized in chili. They hold their shape well and are tasty. I will have to remember to use them more often in the future! Hatch chiles are rather bright tasting and the ones I have are of medium heat (still pretty hot, though) so the chili is light tasting despite being a slow cooker recipe. Of course, you could just make this on the stovetop but I find you end up with a virtual identical result but instead of going about your business, spent the evening stirring a pot. And who wants to be doing that on the last few nights of summer? Not I.

September 12, 2012

Hatch Green Chile Tomatillo Sauce

1 1/4 lb husk-less tomatillos
2 fire roasted Hatch green chiles, chopped
1 onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon canning salt
1/4 cup bottled lime or lemon juice

Blanch the tomatillos. Add them to a food processor or blender (I used my Vitamix) and pulse until reduced to coarse chunks. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until a chunky sauce forms. Pour into a heavy bottomed pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes.

If you'd like to can the sauce: Prep your jars and lids. Ladle the sauce in the jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

If you would like to eat it fresh: Allow to come to room temperature then tightly seal and refrigerate up to one week.

Yield: about 3 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 are some of my other favorite canning books and supplies.

My thoughts:
Once I found myself with all those chiles, I had to think of something to do with them. I froze most of them but kept some out for experimenting. I love tomatillo sauce and thought it would be a perfect use for some of the chiles. They added just enough heat to keep it interesting but not so much the tomatillo flavor was drowned out. Perfect for burritos, sandwiches, quesadillas, tacos or any place you would use salsa, really.

I processed 2 jars for later use and refrigerated one to use for tonight's dinner but you could refrigerate all 3 jars (it really isn't that much sauce) or process them all for later.

September 10, 2012

How-to: Clean & Freeze Fire Roasted Hatch Green Chiles

you need:
25 lbs (or less! or more!) fire roasted Hatch Green Chiles, cooled
food safe plastic gloves
large bowl filled with very cold water
medium sized bowl
paper towels or clean teas towels you don't mind staining
resealable freezer bags (gallon and quart)
measuring cups
cutting boards
permanent marker


Place a batch of chiles in the bowl of cold water.

Wearing gloves*, gently rub the skins off of the chile pepper, removing as much as possible.

Cut the top off of the pepper.

Hold the chile cut side down over the empty bowl. Run your fingers down the pepper. Most of the seeds should pop out.

If you are freezing them whole, blot the chile dry on both sides with the paper towel/tea towel. Slide the pepper into the bag as flat as possible. Repeat for remaining peppers. Do not stack the peppers! Freeze in a single layer in the bag. Remove as much air from the bag as possible (sucking it out with a straw works nicely if you don't have a vacuum sealer) and seal. Stack them to the side.

If you are freezing chopped peppers, chop to a small dice. Blot out excess moisture from the chopped chiles. Measure and label the bags accordingly. We did 1 and 2 cup bags for easy recipe use later. Flatten the diced chiles in the bag. Remove as much air from the bag as possible (sucking it out with a straw works nicely if you don't have a vacuum sealer) and seal. Stack them to the side.

Repeat until all of the peppers are finished, changing out the water between batches. We had a few thin-walled peppers that tore as we removed the skins. We put them aside for puree and sauces, which we refrigerated but could also be frozen.

Freeze flat in the freezer so they take up as a little room as possible.

Defrost them as needed for recipes.

*Even though our chiles were only medium-hot, when Matt processed some without gloves, his hands burned for hours afterward.

UPDATE 2013: 
The peppers are quite pungent and can make other things in your freezer (like an innocent box of peppermint ice cream sandwiches) taste like pepper. This year I froze them into quart sized bags then put a bunch of the bags into a gallon sized freezer bag. That seems to help contain the odor from leaking out.

This year we submerged the whole bag of roasted peppers in ice in a large cooler. We left it out overnight and the next evening, the peppers were quite cool and about 3/4 of the ice had melted. We processed them straight out of the cooler, eliminating the large bowl of cold water step. They seem to peel more easily and the process went a bit more quickly.

My thoughts:
I've heard about Hatch green chiles for years and have occasionally found them canned but living in Baltimore, I haven't had the chance to try them fresh before due their tendency to spoil quickly. Each year I've kept my eyes open when it is Hatch season in New Mexico but had no luck until this year. I subscribe to a lot of supermarket e-mail lists and it finally paid off. The Annapolis location of a store we go to occasionally was hosting a Hatch chile festival in their parking lot! They roasted them right in front of you, packaged them up and sent you on your way.

You could place an order for fresh or fire roasted Hatch chiles in lots of 25 lbs. I placed and an order for a single batch of 25 lbs and anxiously awaited the day we could go pick them up. 25 lbs sounded like a lot of chiles but what did it look like? As it turns out, a lot of chiles. We obviously weren't going to eat them all so we froze about 95% of what we bought.  It is a pretty easy process but time consuming; draft a friend to help, it goes much more quickly. We set up on a picnic table in the backyard since the weather was nice and we didn't have to worry about dropping pepper bits or seeds on the floor.

Note: If you can't get to chile roasting event, roast them at home in the oven using this method.

September 07, 2012

Crookneck Squash Spice Bread

3 eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup canola oil
3 cups grated crookneck squash*
3 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon roasted ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 tablespoon tung hing cinnamon**
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
zest of 1 lemon
pinch salt
1 cup coarsely chopped black walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour or spray with cooking spray with flour one standard loaf pan or one 4-cup mini loaf pans. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until light and fluffy. Add sugar, oil, squash and vanilla. Mix well. In a small bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Add to wet mixture. Mix until well combined then fold in walnuts. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 45-60 minutes. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes then remove from pan.

*I found the squash had some big seeds. Any ones that don't fit through the wide holes I grated the squash through, I discarded.

**I've also seen this labeled as "Chinese cinnamon". It is available at any spice shop and has a sweeter, less overpowering flavor than Saigon or "regular" cinnamon.

My thoughts:
We're still working through all of the squash our garden produced so I thought I'd make some quick bread. I've never seen crookneck bread before but I hoped it might be even better than zucchini bread because the crookneck squash seems to be sweeter tasting. It turned out great! I don't know if it is that noticeably sweeter than zucchini but the texture is great, maybe even better than zucchini and the flavor blended wonderfully with the spices. It is also the moistest quick bread I think I have ever made. Added bonus? The whole house smells amazing!

I made this in my mini loaf pans because while I like black walnuts, nuts creep me out when they are in quick breads so I made 2 mini loaves with nuts and two without. I sprinkled some nuts on the top of the batter in the well before baking to ensure it would be easy to identify them when they came out of the oven.

September 05, 2012

Sloppy Toms

1 1/2 lb ground turkey thighs
6 oz tomato paste
1/2 cup turkey or chicken stock
1/4 cup bourbon
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup shredded carrot
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon ground chipotle
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile flakes
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt

In a large saucepan, saute the garlic, onion and carrot in olive oil until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add turkey and saute until brown, stirring to break up the meat. Add the remaining ingredients. Simmer, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes, until thickened. Serve on buns. I like mine with a bit of sharp cheddar grated on top.

Yield: about 6 servings

My thoughts:
Something about early fall always makes me think about the food I ate as a kid. Maybe it is the whole "back to school" thing despite not having children or taking a class since I finished my MA. Anyway! Sloppy joes were a fixture of my childhood dinners though we made them with beef and sauce from a jar. I've made a couple of other versions over the years (coinciding with my once a year yen for them) that better reflects my tastes. This time I made them with ground turkey thighs which are lighter than beef but more flavorful than ground breast. I also snuck in some shredded carrots for some texture variation, natural sweetness and a little added nutrition. Don't worry, it doesn't make the sandwich taste "carrot-y".

September 03, 2012

Garden Squash Tomato Pasta Sauce

1 crookneck squash, cubed
28 oz crushed tomatoes
6 oz tomato paste
14 oz fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 anchovy filet
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Place all ingredients in a 4 quart slow cooker. Stir. Cook on low 8-9 hours. Stir. Serve over hot pasta.

My thoughts:

Once again, I turn to my summer secret weapon, the slow cooker. The perfect way to make a hot meal without heating up the house. For this recipe I used some more of that lovely crookneck squash from my garden and plenty of fresh herbs. Now I did use canned tomato products in this recipe. Mostly for two reasons: firstly, when fresh tomatoes are this good, I like to eat them raw. Secondly, I know what results I will get using canned tomatoes. While you could use fresh, depending on the variety, they may give off too much water and leave you with a sauce that is too liquid.

I love this sauce because even though it was made in the slow cooker, it tastes fresh because of the herbs and squash. The squash maintains a toothsome texture which I appreciated, too often squash is cooked into mush.