Monday, November 17, 2014

Quick Peanut-Maple Topping

Add more nuts to your diet this tasty way. A great topping, at breakfast, over pancakes or waffles, or dessert over ice cream or crêpes. First prepared November, 2014. We use a small stoneware server to make this. It heats quickly and holds the heat. Total carbohydrates = 19.5 grams per serving.
1 T (15 ml) maple syrup
2 T (30 ml) peanut butter
1 t (5 ml) butter
Combine ingredients in a small, microwaveable container such as a ceramic vessel. Some peanut butters benefit from a pinch of salt. Heat on high power for 15 seconds. Stir to combine well. Heat cautiously to serving temperature. Low water recipes such as this heat very quickly in the microwave. Serves one.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Okra Stew

At a recent late-Summer trip to experience the harvest bounty at the huge State Farmers Market in Raleigh, we spotted tiny pods of okra harvested that morning, moist with promise. We bought a pound of those beauties. The rest was from the pantry.
1 c (150 g) sweet red peppers, sliced into 1 inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely diced
1 lb (500 g) young okra pods, trimmed and cut into rounds
1 14.5 oz (425 ml) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes (Muir's™ is good)
vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste
In a sauce pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil until smoking. Add the peppers and fry quickly until nicely colored, stirring as needed. Add more oil and the onions and okra. When the onions soften, add the tomatoes with their juice. Add salt. Bring to a fast simmer and cook until the okra is just tender. Do not overcook. Adjust seasoning. Serves six.

Pico de Gallo

Serrano Chiles (Stock Photo)
Recorded June, 2013. This fresh salsa is called ‘Pico de Gallo’ (beak of the rooster) because the serrano pepper is fancifully likened to a rooster's beak. Serrano peppers are noticeably hotter than jalepeños.
1 lb ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 c white onion, finely minced
1/2 c sweet red pepper, finely minced
1 jalapeño or serrano pepper, seeds and membrane removed, finely minced
1/4 c finely chopped cilantro
1 to 2 t garlic, finely minced
2 T lime juice
1 t salt
Combine the ingredients in a bowl and gently mix. After chilling for an hour or two, adjust the lime juice and salt. If too tart, add a bit of sugar. Keeps well in the refrigerator. Great side dish for many Mexican meals.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Kosher-Style Dills

Developed October, 2014. Kosher style method for pickling cucumbers or green tomatoes. No vinegar is used in the Kosher-style method, and iodide-free salt is necessary. The vegetables are packed in a light brine, about the same saltiness as the ocean, 3.5%). This encourages the growth of wild yeasts and bacteria that form organic acids that, along with the salt, cure and preserve the vegetables.
1 liter (1 qt) water
50 ml (35 g or 3 T + 1 t) Kosher or pickling salt
Put a 250 ml (1 cup) water into a small sauce pan and bring to a boil, dissolve the salt, and stir in the remaining water. Cover and set aside to cool. 
Spice Mixture (close up)
Pickling Spice Mixture
1/4 t crushed red pepper
1/2 t celery seeds
1 t brown mustard seeds
1 t coriander seeds
2 t dill weed (or fresh dill seed heads if available)
1/4 t allspice berries
1 t fennel seed
1/2 t black peppercorns
1 t bay leaf, torn into small pieces
4  garlic cloves, peeled
Add the spices, except the garlic, to a small bowl, and rub them together with your fingers to release the essential oils.

Packing the vegetables
Choose sound fruit for pickling. Rinse in several changes of water, and drain. Split cucumbers in half lengthwise for faster curing or keep whole. Green tomatoes should be halved or quartered. Wash and rinse the jars thoroughly and use new lids and bands. To sanitize the jars, use a microwave to boil water in the jars, or dip them in boiling water. Turn upside down to drain on a clean towel. When cool, add 2 to 3 T of spice mixture to the jar, along with the garlic cloves. Pack the jar as full as possible, and cover with brine. All the vegetables must be in the brine or they spoil. Loosely cover, and place into a cool, dark place for the fermentation process to occur. Since jars may overflow, keep them on a paper-lined tray. Inspect daily for bubbling, a sign of fermentation. When fermentation slows, usually after about a week or two, depending on temperature, top up with fresh brine if needed, cap tightly, and refrigerate.