Cutest Potatoes Ever

September 17, 2012 21 comments

Cutest Potatoes Ever!

Usually, my food isn’t very pretty. I spend more time concerned with the taste than the looks. Wish I could do both, but I can’t. However, with these little potatoes, anyone can make “cute” and delicious food. To give you an idea of how tiny they are, the potatoes in the photo are in a 3-inch ramekin!

If you’ve been reading The Flaming Pot Holder lately, you know we like to grow our food when possible. Farmers markets are a great second choice for purchasing local food. However, sometimes you see something at a grocery store you must try. That happened a few weeks ago at the Whole Foods Market in Nashville. We found marble-sized red, white, and purple potatoes.

The company is Tasteful Selections and the Sunrise Medley Nibbles potatoes are from their Simply Amazing Potatoes line of products. They are tiny, but very flavorful and tender. When I emailed the company to ask permission to include them in the blog, I received a nice response from Melissa in their marketing department. I mentioned recently that I wanted to add a few reviews to the blog, so guess this is my first official one! I like the fact that this is still a family owned farm; it makes me feel better shopping at a big box store. If you want to give them a try, you should check out their website and Facebook page for other recipes, coupons, and even a sweepstakes. They also have a store locator so you can find where to buy them in your area.

To keep it vegan, you can use olive oil, coconut oil, margarine or your favorite oil. You just want something to help the salt, pepper, and herbs adhere. From start to finish, I think it only took about 10 minutes, so this really is a fast side dish. Hope you like these delicious and cute potatoes!

Cutest Potatoes Ever (Print recipe)

1 bag Sunrise Medley Nibbles potatoes (or other tiny potatoes)

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon olive oil (margarine, oil of your choice, or butter)

Kosher salt, to taste

Pepper (I used ground black pepper and Aleppo pepper flakes)

Fresh chives and/or herbs, chopped (I used parsley and Greek basil)

Wash the potatoes. Put the potatoes in a large saucepan, add one teaspoon of salt, and enough water to cover the potatoes. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. Test a potato, by piercing with a fork. Depending on the size, they might be done. Otherwise, they might need a few more minutes. Cook until tender. Drain. Add olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with fresh herbs. Enjoy! These are even delicious the next day cold! You can toss them into a salad.

Coming soon…my husband’s recipe for a Kitchen Sink Frittata that uses leftover potatoes as one of the ingredients!

 

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Layered Summer Vegetable Bake

September 5, 2012 9 comments

Layered Summer Vegetable Bake

The other morning on the TODAY Show, Martha Stewart had a recipe for a Provençal Vegetable Tian. It sounded and looked delicious. But of course I did not have all the ingredients she used. So, I decided to make my own version with things from our pantry, our garden, and our friend’s garden. That seems to be a theme lately – use what you have.

Back in high school, I was on the yearbook committee and one of my least favorite tasks was writing titles and captions. Not much has changed. I still struggle with this, in technical writing and in recipe writing. Not sure what to call my version of Martha’s recipe. Strata is not completely accurate since it doesn’t contain eggs, bread, or cheese. It reminded me of a baked late summer vegetable layered ratatouille. However, I didn’t cook the vegetables separately. It could be called a casserole, but it seems a little too fancy for that (not that there’s anything wrong with a casserole). I guess it really is a tian, a layered casserole of French origin. But, I hate to totally copy Martha, thus the lame name: Layered Summer Vegetable Bake. At least it is descriptive. Oh well, whatever you call it, hope you enjoy my version.

My typical disclaimer: This is another recipe where you can customize it to your tastes or use what is fresh and available. If you do not like eggplant, you can use zucchini, zephyr, crookneck, or patty pan squash. If you want to add peppers, go for it! Add more garlic if you’d like. If you do not have fresh herbs, dry herbs can be used. If you are on a sodium-restricted diet, you can omit or decrease the amount of salt. If you want to mix it up, you could even add sweet potatoes. Feel free to use different oil, if you prefer. Basically, you are layering veggies with a bit of salt, pepper, oil, and herbs, squishing it, and baking it. Ok you get it, please make this YOUR dish and have fun!

Slice of Veggie Goodness

Layered Summer Vegetable Bake (Print recipe)

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

4 garlic cloves, sliced ⅛ inch thick

1 medium onion, sliced ⅛ inch thick half-moons

1 leek or green onion, sliced ⅛ inch thick

4 small potatoes, sliced ⅛ inch thick

1½ teaspoons coarse salt

¾ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

4 medium eggplants, sliced ⅛ inch thick (I used skinny green, purple, and a few round orange Turkish eggplants)

4 medium tomatoes, sliced ⅛ inch thick

4 tablespoons capers, whole or smashed/chopped

4 teaspoons fresh herbs (thyme, parsley, and basil), chopped

Garnish: Fresh Herbs

Serves: 4-8 (depends on whether it is a main dish or a side dish)

Wash, dry, and slice your veggies. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Drizzle 1 tablespoon oil into 13x9x2” baking dish*. Cover the bottom with half the garlic, onions, and leeks. Top with half the potatoes. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Top with half the eggplant. Top with half the tomatoes. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cover with half the capers and half the fresh chopped herbs. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil. Use an oiled spatula to press down the vegetables. Repeat the layers – garlic, onions, leeks, potatoes, salt pepper, eggplant, tomatoes, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper, capers, herbs, 2 tablespoons oil. Use an oiled spatula to press down the vegetables. Cover loosely with foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil. Use an oiled spatula to press down the vegetables. Bake until the top is golden and caramelized, about 45 minutes more. Let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before slicing.

*If you have lots of patience, you could make individual serving sizes using either a muffin pan or mini ramekins. As you can probably tell from my photo, my version was very thin. That’s because we like crispy bits (there were lots). If you want less crisp and more layers, feel free to use a smaller baking dish.

 

Eye of the Goat Bean Soup

September 1, 2012 2 comments

Leftovers?
Make Eye of the Goat Bean Soup

If you made the eye of goat beans and rice from the last post, there is a good chance you had leftover beans (unless you cooked for a crowd). So what do you do with them? You can freeze them, make bean salad, chili, or refried beans. Or you could make a simple, quick soup. That’s what I did!  I’ve recently started back to work at a real job, as a technical writer and editor. After two years of not working, I’m relearning my time management skills. Juggling work, gardening, cooking, food writing, yard work, housework, etc. is challenging. Anything that makes a quick and healthy meal is a good thing in my book.

I served the soup topped with a bit of grated cheese, a few splashes of hot sauce, and some chopped fresh herbs. We had just bought some Cumin Gouda from the Franklin Farmers Market in Nashville and I thought it would be good with the soup. It was! The cheese is from Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese in Austin, Kentucky. If you happen to see them at a market near you, I would highly recommend them (or you can order online). They have some unique flavors: Cranberry Havarti, Coffee Cheddar, Garlic Paprika Monterey Jack, etc. I also served the soup with Beanitos’ Black Bean Chips, a new chip we recently discovered. I have several food allergies/food sensitivities and avoid corn, but sometimes I want a corn chip. Well, these are a good substitute – no corn or gluten; but high in protein thanks to the black beans!

Eye of the Goat Bean Soup

Leftover eye of the goat beans (we had half the batch leftover)

Veggie stock or water

Salt

Pepper

Garnishes: grated cheese, sour cream, yogurt, hot pepper sauce, fresh herbs, chopped peppers, sliced green onions, crackers, chips, etc.

Special equipment: immersion blender, food processor, blender, or potato masher

Depending on how soupy you made the beans, you might need to remove some of the liquid and reserve it for later (just in case you need it). Heat the beans over low heat. Mash the beans, either by hand or use an immersion blender, food processor, or a regular blender. If needed, add the extra bean liquid, stock, or water to make a nice soup consistency. Make sure it is heated through and season with salt and pepper as needed. Top with garnishes and serve.

 

Eye of the Goat Beans

August 29, 2012 3 comments

Eye of the Goat Beans

Last week, I was fortunate enough to be Freshly Pressed. It was an unexpected honor and I am thankful for the exposure. I am thrilled about new readers and grateful to my faithful followers who have been with me since the beginning. I appreciate the comments and the feedback and hope you will continue reading. I’m excited about upcoming changes to The Flaming Pot Holder – launching a Facebook page, changing the layout of the blog, categorizing recipes, improving my photos, etc. Ok, enough happy gushing, time for a recipe…

We first tried eye of the goat beans (a.k.a. goat eye beans) last year and loved them. We buy Gourmet Valley’s Eye of the Goat Beans. I really like this brand of heirloom beans. They have a nice variety of interesting beans – Scarlet Runner Beans, Christmas Lima Beans, Red Calypso Beans, Green Flageolet Beans, etc. One day, we hope to grow some of these varieties.

Gourmet Valley
Eye of the Goat Beans

Eye of the goat beans are similar in texture to black-eyed peas and pinto beans. They have a rich, firm texture that can hold up to long, slow cooking times. And they do look a lot like goat eyes. I know this personally, because we had two pet pygmy goats when I was growing up (even though we lived on Monte Sano in the city limits of Huntsville). Goats were frowned upon, so Mom told folks they were funny looking dogs with a weird bark :). They had beautiful eyes, similar looking to these beans.

There is a recipe on the package for drunken beans that sounds delicious, but it has beer and mushrooms. I’m avoiding gluten and “fungusy” foods so I decided to create my own version with produce from our garden. I added some fresh diced tomatoes and a little tomato paste. This made a rich broth, but it was also a tad sweet. Something to think about when you are making the beans. This “recipe” is just a guide; please adjust it to your taste. We like spicy food, so I added several hot peppers, feel free to leave them out if you don’t want it spicy. I used a crock pot, but a large heavy covered pot or Dutch oven would also work great.

I served the beans with basmati rice, made with a new technique courtesy of Peri’s Spice Ladle. She recently posted her Step-by-Step Guide to Cooking Perfect Basmati Rice and I had to try it. I was intrigued since I had never used a microwave to cook rice. It worked very well! I added some saffron and it was a perfect accompaniment to the beans. I’ve been struggling with Thai sticky rice with mango, I wonder if this technique would work in lieu of a rice steamer or cooker?!? Hmm, I’m thinking a future post.  Hope you can find these beans (I have bought them at Whole Foods and Earth Fare) and you will give the recipe a try…

Eye of the Goat Beans
and Basmati Rice

Eye of the Goat Beans (Print recipe)

12 ounces eye of the goat beans

Water

2-3 tablespoons olive oil (or oil of your choice)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium onion, chopped

½ cup carrots, chopped

½ cup bell peppers, chopped (I used two small yellow and green peppers)

½ cup celery, chopped (including some leaves)

5 hot peppers, chopped (or to taste)

1 cup tomatoes, chopped

2 tablespoons tomato paste (optional, will add sweetness)

3 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper (black, cayenne, or Aleppo)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Garnish: Basmati rice, chopped fresh herbs (parsley or cilantro), and hot pepper (Aleppo or hot pepper flakes)

Pick through the beans to make sure there are no pebbles. Rinse the beans, drain them, and put in a crock pot. Cover with about two inches of water. Soak overnight. Drain. Pick through the beans again (just to make sure there are no bad ones you missed the first time). Cover with fresh water. Cook for 2 hours on medium or high. The temperature depends on how powerful your crock pot is; ours is old so I put it on high.

While the beans are cooking, wash and chop your veggies. Then, in a large frying pan, sauté the vegetables in the olive oil. Cook until the veggies are slightly tender. Stir in the tomato paste, salt, pepper, and cumin. Add this mixture to the beans in the crock pot. Cover. Cook for about 2-3 more hours, stirring occasionally. Check periodically for doneness. You can turn it to low when the beans are almost tender. Serving suggestion: serve with Basmati rice, fresh herbs, and an extra sprinkle of hot pepper.

Coming soon: what to make with leftover eye of the goat beans…

Harvest Meal

August 24, 2012 56 comments

Harvest Basket + 5 Ingredients

We often have pantry meals – we make something for dinner out of just what we have in the pantry (and maybe add a few things from the refrigerator and/or freezer). These meals can be creative. Sometimes we just don’t want to go to the grocery store or farmers market, this is a good alternative. Well this week, I went outside and harvested a basket of veggies from the garden: tomatoes, spaghetti squash, green beans, onions, bell peppers, cucumbers, celery, and herbs. I decided to make a “harvest meal,” using the ingredients in the basket plus 5 kitchen staples: olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.

I made a quick marinara sauce to top the spaghetti squash and served it with sautéed green beans, and a chopped salad. It was a tasty meal, made even better because we grew the veggies! We’ve only been gardening for two years, so it’s still a treat when we harvest. I don’t really have recipes and exact measurements, just guidelines. Hope you are enjoying the summer bounty! It’s time to think about a fall garden.

Spaghetti Squash with Marinara Sauce

Olive oil

Onions, chopped

Celery leaves and stems, chopped

Bell peppers, chopped

Tomatoes, chopped

Salt and pepper

Fresh herbs (basil, parsley, oregano)

Balsamic vinegar

Spaghetti squash pasta (see the next recipe)

Parmesan cheese

Heat some olive oil in a pan; add the onions, celery, and bell peppers. Sauté until tender. Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Cook until the tomatoes are tender. You can mash some of the tomatoes with a fork or potato masher or even use an immersion blender. Depends on the texture you prefer. Stir in a splash of balsamic vinegar and the fresh herbs. Serve over the spaghetti squash with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

Spaghetti Squash “Pasta”

1 medium spaghetti squash

You can bake spaghetti squash in the oven at 350º F for 45 minute to an hour, until tender. However, it is August and I prefer not to heat up the house by using the oven for this. The microwave does a fine job.

You can cook spaghetti squash whole, but I prefer to cut them. Wash the outside of the squash. Dry it thoroughly. The rind is tough so it can be a little tricky to cut, so use care when cutting it. Wrap it in a towel, place it on a cutting board and use a large knife to slice it lengthwise from stem to end. Then use a spoon or a sturdy ice cream scoop to scoop out the seeds and the stringy stuff. This is similar to how you clean a butternut squash or a pumpkin.

Place the two halves cut side up in a microwave safe container (I use a Pyrex pie plate). Fill the cavities with water. Pour a little extra water in the bottom of the container. Microwave on high for 5 minutes. Rotate the squash halves and pour a little more water over the cut edges – this keeps them from drying out. Microwave another 5 minutes. Let them rest for about 5 more minutes. Then, use a fork to shred the squash so that it looks like strands of spaghetti.

Finished Meal

Green Beans

Green beans, washed and snapped (if needed)

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Fresh herbs (basil, parsley, oregano)

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan or wok. Stir in the green beans. Sauté until slightly tender (I like them with a little bite). Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and fresh herbs.

Chopped Salad

Tomatoes, chopped

Cucumbers, chopped

Onions, chopped

Celery leaves, chopped

Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper

Parmesan cheese

Fresh herbs (basil, parsley, oregano)

Toss the vegetables in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese, and fresh herbs. Toss well. Serve.

 

Spicy Gold Smoothie

August 17, 2012 4 comments

Spicy Gold Smoothie

My last post featured a way to preserve fresh peaches – in frozen peach cubes. This post includes a fruit smoothie recipe that uses the peach cubes. The name, Spicy Gold Smoothie, is a little silly but it is descriptive. This smoothie has plenty of golden fruits (peaches, Rainier cherries, and pineapple) and a nice spicy kick thanks to generous pinches of cayenne pepper and ginger. Use as much or as little as you like. I like icy heat, so I add plenty of spice. This smoothie is a great way to kickstart your morning!  It also makes a nice afternoon snack.

Special thanks to my mother-in-law and father-in-law for the beautiful birthday table linens from Sur La Table. I love this store! We visited one when we were in Seattle. It is probably a good thing we do not have one near us. Thanks to my in-laws, we now have placemats, napkins, and beautiful dish towels! They are almost too pretty to use. But we will :-). I will also use them as photo props and decorative accents in the kitchen. Yes, I just wrote decorative accents. For those who know me, you know how strange that sounds! I am no Martha Stewart. But with these kitchen and table linens, I can pretend!!

Peach Cubes, Etc.

Spicy Gold Smoothie

4 peach cubes

½ cup frozen Rainier cherries (fresh would also work if you have them)

½ cup frozen or fresh pineapple chunks or cubes

¼-½ cup water or juice (tangerine, apple, orange, white cranberry, carrot, pineapple etc.)

6 ounces yogurt or kefir (~½ cup, any kind works – soy, coconut, regular)

pinch of cayenne pepper

pinch of powdered ginger

pinch of turmeric

Optional add-ins: protein powder, fresh ginger, cinnamon, cloves, ice cubes if you use fresh fruit (I like cold smoothies)

Pour contents into blender container. Cover with the lid. Blend until smooth and golden. Sprinkle with more spices if you want. Enjoy!

Servings: 2 snack-sized servings or 1 meal-sized serving.

Peach Cubes

August 6, 2012 7 comments

Fresh AL Peaches!

Peaches are plentiful at farmers markets throughout North Alabama. We bought a small basket at the Greene Street Market last week. I enjoy eating them fresh, but there were a bunch in that little basket. So, I thought of ways to put them up and enjoy them this winter. Usually, I slice them and freeze them. Sometimes with a little lemon juice to keep them from browning. I might also add a bit of sugar. Frozen peaches are great for making cobblers, smoothies, peach pies, etc. However, depending on how you freeze them you can end up with a huge block of frozen peaches! Not the easiest to handle; unless you measure the quantity you need for a specific recipe and only freeze that amount in each container (I freeze 5 cups of peaches for cobbler).

I freeze pesto, tomato paste, yogurt, herbs, etc. in ice cube trays so why not pureed peaches!?! This weekend, I made pureed peach cubes! While making them, I vaguely recalled my mom doing this when I was a kid. The peach cubes are kinda boring looking, so I did not take a photo of them. A special thank you to Marilyn Evans for the beautiful photo of peaches available at the Greene Street Market at Nativity. I will take photos when the cubes are transformed in a recipe…maybe a smoothie, daiquiri, popsicle, fruit slush, something.

Peach Cubes

1 pound peaches, pitted and sliced  (you can peel them if you want or just spot-peel as needed)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Put the peaches and lemon juice into a blender container (or food processor container). Puree until smooth. If you want to leave a few large pieces, that is fine, whatever you prefer! Pour into ice cube trays. Freeze. Remove cubes and store in resealable plastic bags in the freezer.

Coming soon…what you can do with the peach cubes!