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Real Food

February 20, 2013 2 comments
Baby Carrots

Real Baby Carrots

Oops, it’s been a few months since my last post. So, what are my excuses this time? The usual—holidays, sickness, family stuff, doggie drama, and work. I had a respiratory infection that lasted over seven weeks. During that time, I didn’t cook very much and when I did, it wasn’t inspired. Some of the results were downright dismal. Definitely not blog worthy. Unless, I wanted to write about my failures, which could be funny. I was beginning to think there was a curse in my kitchen. Maybe it was just my taste buds weren’t working. Thankfully, my taste buds are returning to normal and I’m cooking more.

Sautéed Baby Carrots

This weekend, I made something that was so simple; it was not even recipe worthy. However, it was divine. It all started in our backyard. We were clearing out the winter garden to make room for the early spring garden. I’m not sure if we are supposed to do this now, but the timing seemed right to get the onions in the ground. We’re learning what works for us. In the process of clearing space, we had to sacrifice some carrots. We harvested  the prettiest, most tender baby carrots I’ve ever seen. They were an organic rainbow mix – orange, yellow, white, and, purple. Beautiful and delicious.

I trimmed the stems and put them in the compost. Washed the carrots. In a skillet over medium heat, I steamed/sautéed the largest ones first in just a bit of water. Then added the next ones in size. I added the tiniest carrots at the end of cooking; they only had a few seconds on the heat. By this time, the water was gone, so I added a smidge of butter. I then topped them with freshly snipped parsley and a sprinkle of Kosher salt. Within 30 minutes, the carrots went from in the ground to on our table. To me, food doesn’t get much fresher or better.

It sounds silly, but they were so “carroty” tasting that it’s almost indescribable. If your only experience with baby carrots is with those little nubby things in the grocery store, then you are missing a treat. I would highly recommend buying some at a local farmers market or even better yet, growing your own. Carrots are easy to grow. You can even grow them in a deep pot if space is a problem.

Happy eating and happy gardening!

 

 

 

 

 

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Pumpkin Bread Pudding

November 21, 2012 4 comments

Not sure I’ve posted a recipe without a photo. But I am tonight, because I don’t have time to make the dish and take a photo. Plus, I wanted to get it posted before Thanksgiving. Ok, so there isn’t a lot of time to make this in time for Thanksgiving, but it is quick. And you might be making a pumpkin pie anyway, you could have leftover bread, so you might have all the ingredients already. And maybe you feel like trying something new.

This Pumpkin Bread Pudding is a nice alternative to a traditional pumpkin pie. It combines the best of two worlds–pumpkin pie and bread pudding! It’s not just for Thanksgiving time; you can make it year round. I keep a bag of bread cubes in the freezer. If we have an extra chunk of bread, it goes in the bag. When I get enough, then I make it.

Hope you have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving. Many thanks to all of you.

Bread Pudding

5 cups stale firm bread “cubes” (crusty French bread, cinnamon swirl bread, etc.)

3 tablespoons melted butter

1⅓ cups sugar

3 large eggs

2 cups half-and-half (or 1 cup milk and 1 cup cream

15 ounces pumpkin purée (canned pumpkin is fine)

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon cloves

¼ teaspoon ginger

¼ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated

½ teaspoon vanilla

½ cup golden raisins (or dried cranberries)

½ cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)

Optional toppings: whipped cream, warm dulce de leche or caramel sauce, whiskey sauce, and/or a sprinkle of pecans.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Melt the butter in an 11×17 baking dish. Swirl it around to coat the bottom and sides. This is a lot of butter, but you will later pour the excess into the pumpkin mixture. Tear or cut the bread into medium pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the bread with ⅓ cup of sugar, toss it around, and let it sit while you prepare the pumpkin mixture.

In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add 1 cup sugar, half-and-half, pumpkin, excess butter, salt, spices, and vanilla. Mix well. Pour the pumpkin mixture over the bread and stir. Place half in the baking dish, sprinkle with raisins and pecans. Top with remaining mixture. Top with the other half of the mixture. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until firm and lightly brown. Serve warm with one of the toppings or enjoy it plain! 

Frittata

October 4, 2012 6 comments

Matt’s Kitchen Sink Frittata

Recently a fellow blogger, posted about writer’s block. Mike (at Made by Mike) was suffering from it and I know that feeling all too well. I haven’t posted in over a week and wondered if maybe that was my issue too. But I don’t think so. I’ll chalk it up to not feeling well the last week or so. Caught a cold at my nephew’s wedding (it was worth it) and I am suffering with fall allergies. Spending time clearing the summer garden and working on the fall garden does not help my allergies but it helps keep me sane.

Combine puniness with learning new software at work and it’s no wonder I’m not cooking, blogging, and taking food photos! So, with little fodder for the blog, I turn to my husband, Matt, for this recipe – Kitchen Sink Frittata. It’s his latest creation. I’ve slowly corrupted Matt. When we first met, he was a recipe follower, but not so much these days. He got the inspiration for the frittata from one of his favorite cookbooks, The All New Good Housekeeping Cook Book. However, we had leftovers so he used them instead of following the recipe. He cleaned out the refrigerator and used leftover creamed spinach, the Cutest Potatoes Ever, and the Layered Summer Vegetable Bake. It was delicious. Have I mentioned lately that I love having a husband who enjoys cooking?!? I am allergic to eggs (and sensitive to dairy), but I ate some anyway, it was totally worth the rash and itching. Typical medical disclaimer: if you are allergic to any of the ingredients please do not risk it by trying this recipe! I have dealt with food allergies for so long, I know my limits. Disclaimer over, and now back to the recipe…

Frittata (Print recipe)

8 eggs

1½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

¼ cup half-and-half

¼ cup water

3 tablespoons fresh herbs (parsley, oregano, Greek basil, thyme), roughly chopped

2 cups potatoes (I would do more), thinly sliced

2 cups roasted veggies, chopped and/or thinly sliced (tomatoes, onions, peppers, artichokes, eggplant, summer squash, mushrooms, zucchini, garlic, etc.)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup creamed spinach (or other greens, add cream cheese and/or more cheese if just using regular spinach)

1 cup grated cheese*

Frittata and FredBread ToastPreheat oven to 425º F. In a large bowl, combine eggs, water, half and half, salt, and pepper. Beat until combined. Add herbs and half of the cheese, beat some more.

Note: this step assumes you are using up leftovers and everything is cooked. In a large oven safe skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Make sure you have some oil on the sides of the pan to prevent sticking. Reheat ingredients according to their thickness and ability to handle heat – heat the potatoes first, then the veggies, and then the spinach. As soon as everything is warm and reasonably well combined, add egg mixture. Stir slightly so that ingredients are evenly distributed, then let it cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until it starts to set on the edges. Pop it in the preheated oven.

Cook for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and top with the remaining cheese. Pop it back in the oven until cheese melts (about 2 to 4 more minutes).

To serve, loosen frittata from skillet by easing it up around the edges. Use a good metal spatula to loosen the bottom, and then gently slide it onto a platter. Makes: 6-8 servings.

*You can use cheddar, Swiss, Parmesan, or another cheese of your choice. You can also use more if you prefer. You really can’t have too much cheese with the amount of eggs in this frittata.

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!

 

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…