Thursday, March 16, 2017

Turnips Gratin a la Jarlsberg

There once was a turnip in a garden.  The owner of the garden watched the turnip, that was planted last season, grow... long after the harvest of the others like it.  The turnip grew and grew as the summer turned to fall, then winter.  The owner would peer out into the now barren garden space and see the bright green tops beaming valiantly above the cold and lonely ground.  The owner watched the snow fall and cover the turnip. The owner watched the rays from the sun shine and melt the snow away.  The owner thought about pulling it up and mashing it with potatoes.  The owner thought about this for months. 
 One day the owner did indeed pull up the turnip and headed inside to make good on the thoughts the turnip had evoked. The turnip was huge by any standard, but slightly disfigured on one side.  The injury had probably happened when the turnip was just a 'pup', marring it and affecting it's normal growth.  The turnip healed it's wounds inflicted by the garden tool used to work the soil, but also gained an appearance much like that of a cave filled with stalactites and stalagmites.  By a supermarket standard this turnip was not a winner.  The turnip was not acceptable.   Something in the owner made her keep going past the back stairs of her home and down the lane to her sister, who once made an amazing soup from turnips and leeks.   The owner decided that this was a job for a person who liked challenges. 
You probably guessed it already, I'm the neighbor and here is what I did with this turnip.
This was a large turnip so, I had to peel and slice first before parboiling for 15 minutes in salted water with a splash of organic vinegar and a bay leaf.  After par boiling the turnips, I shocked them in cold water, then medium diced the turnips.  The regular supermarket turnips will most likely only be a fraction of this size, (this one being about the size of a grapefruit) so these extensive steps may not be necessary.

6 cups diced and par-cooked turnips, about 5 minutes
1/3 c. thinly sliced onion
1/8 tsp. turmeric
1 tbsp. or less olive oil 
1/2 c. shredded Jarlsberg cheese
Chives for garnish
2 tbsp. cooked crumbled bacon for garnish, optional 
Turn on broiler.
Heat oil and butter on medium high heat and add turnips, onions and turmeric.
Continue to cook, stirring and tossing constantly until the turnips show signs of browning on most sides, about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and spread into oven safe dish.  Garnish with bacon.
Sprinkle cheese evenly over top, then chives and place under broiler until slightly browned, about 2 minutes.
Serve immediately.
Makes 6 servings.

For more wonderful turnip recipes, search "turnips" on this site!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Leftover Makeover: Tex Mex Fried Chicken Noodle Bowl

This is a fast and satisfying dish for two involving leftovers, and an homage to 'souping' up a plain package of my college hero, Ramen.  This would be a long awaited addition to my early installments of 'Dormitory Gourmet', economical, (but also small), one to two person/one dish meals.
  I had a piece of fried chicken(thigh), corn on the cob, diced tomatoes and sour cream.  All these items, sans the fresh herbs that grow in my herb garden were from a part of another dish during the past week, the corn being from the night before.  The chicken was 'new' from store bought batch night before last.
 I keep Ramen on hand because it's convenient and a neutral food that kids can hardly fuss with, usually!
 I pulled the chicken from the bone in large pieces, then diced it, keeping the crust to help thicken the cream sauce that would coat and marry the ingredients together.  I cut the corn from the cob in planks, trying to keep it as whole as possible.  Sour cream contributes to the creamy sauce and robust spices like cumin, smoked paprika, coriander and red pepper flakes give it Latin/ Mid Western flair.
1 piece fried chicken, de-boned and diced, about 1 cup
1 pkg. Ramen, remove seasoning packet and reserve for another use if not chicken
1 3/4 c. hot tap water
1/8 to 1/2  tsp. or to taste powdered chicken bouillon or base*
2 heaping tbsp. sour cream, regular or light, whichever you have
Cumin, smoked paprika, coriander and red pepper flakes  to taste
1 piece corn on the cob, cut from cob
2 heaping tbsp. diced tomatoes, can or fresh, I used canned
Fresh or dried chives
Fresh Parsley, rough chopped
olive oil for drizzling
Sriracha if desired
*if you do not have Chicken flavored Ramen
Place Ramen, chicken base and water in pan and bring to a boil.
After about two minutes, add chicken.
After about one more minute, reduce heat and stir in sour cream.
About 1 minute more and well blended, add spices and herbs.
Turn off  heat and fold in veggies.
Fold until well blended and drizzle with olive oil.
Makes 2 to 3 servings.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Tri Color 'Pepper Steak' Style Venison Chili Beans

Well hunters and huntresses, Fall is here, and it's time for some free roaming, grass fed greatness that is venison again!  I have secured my position in the wild game rally for this year's season.  I have been clearing my freezer to make room for my future deer and readying my mind for some new and exciting dishes to bring to you, including the one I present today.
I was so elated when I caught a Kitchen-Aid grinder attachment at a steal towards the end of last year.  I was finally going to be able to make my own quality market type grounds at home.  I have an antique grinder, you know the kind you attach to a good sturdy farmhouse style table, like the ones we used when I was a girl and helping with the cutting, grinding and curing of our livestock.  Yep, it brings back memories, wonderful ones, but I am glad I have the automatic kind, just to make things a little easier from time to time.
 I do all the butchering for my wild game, a fact for which I am proud, as not to underestimate a 'wonder' that is 'woman' as my hidden tattoo suggests!! I used my grinder to prepare the protein for the recipe above.  This way, you can control exactly what goes into your finished product and know it is a labor of love.
I used three types of beans for this  recipes and oodles of peppers, both in the form of a homemade salsa, furnished by my sister Linda's bestie, some green peppers gifted from a local garden, as well as some mini sweet peppers from the supermarket. I simmered this chili for hours, to develop the depth of these wonderful flavors and scent the house with some country and comforting aromas, but you will be ready to enjoy this in about an hour if you wish.
A crock pot will certainly be ideal, especially considering how busy the day can get, including but not limited to work, school, kids, chores, after school activities, after school sports, appointments, deadlines, canoodling and that mysterious thing referred to as peace of mind! weening the dish from the sometimes off-putting gaminess that is meat from the wild.   I soak all my cuts in a salted and acidic bath containing lemon or vinegar at least overnight.
Bold and warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, ginger lend well to the flavor profile of this dish and venison as a whole. These hearty beans will stand up to a long simmering and absorb the flavors like little protein packed sponges, but don't just take my word for it...Plus a fresh and bright or crunchy garnish helps every meal an individual's own, no bowl will be the same, and it exceptional the next day!!!
2 lbs. ground venison or desired protein
1 medium onion, small diced, about 1 cup
4 oz. uncooked smoky bacon, small diced
1 green pepper, small diced, about 1/2 cup
1/2 c. red, yellow and orange mini sweet peppers
3 tbsp. chili powder
2 to 4 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 soft beef bouillon cube or 4 c. beef stock concentrated down to 2 c.
2 c. homemade or organic chunky salsa
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp. Chinese 5 Spice
1 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. hoisin sauce
1/4 tsp. celery seed
1 15 can Garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz. can Pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz.can Black Beans, drained,but NOT rinsed
Fresh Thai Basil for Garnish
Garnish Bar: Optional of course
Fresh chopped onion
Shredded cheese
Sour cream
Diced Cucumber
Slivers of Radish
Fritos/Doritos/Tortilla Chips
In a heavy bottomed sauce-pot or dutch oven, over medium high heat, brown and render bacon pieces, about 4 minutes.
Add onions.
Cook with bacon for several minutes, until the onions are fragrant and translucent.
Add fresh peppers and cook for about 3 minutes.
Add garlic, spices and sauces and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and let go for an hour.
If desired, here is where you can add the beans and simmer for about 10 minutes or until heated through and serve.
Simmer chili mixture for about 1 1/2 hours, then add beans and continue to low simmer for about 2 more hours.
Crock-pots cut the hassle altogether,  just let it go all day on low setting adding everything at once.
Serve with crackers or crusty cheesy or buttery bread.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Grilled Cheese w/ Smoked Brisket, Gruyere and Sauerkraut

Brisket left over from a wonderful barbecue dinner the night before can be transformed into a fantastic and satisfying lunch or anytime sandwich, using just a couple more ingredients.  Granted, there isn't really anything one needs to heighten the taste bud satisfaction when there is deliciously and slowly smoked brisket in tow.  The smooth and nutty flavor of the Gruyere is complimentary to the trio, including well drained sauerkraut and an amazingly buttery roll, crisp and crunchy to the palate.
 I did some experimenting and found that a hot-dog roll, grilled with the raw textured side down, makes for a ample and satisfying vessel for the hearty filling.  The surface of the inner bun toasts up wonderfully and has an amazing crunch.  This sandwich is a fantastic blend of Southern American, Swiss and German wonderment!!!
If you don't have time to invest in a homemade brisket, they may be purchased fully cooked, smoked and sliced!
1 pkg. hot dog rolls
1 lb. or more Fully cooked and smoked brisket, thinly sliced
8 oz. Gruyere Cheese, thinly sliced
1 c. Sauerkraut, well drained in strainer and pressed free of any excess moisture
Butter at room temperature
Olive oil for drizzling

In a medium saute pan or heavy bottomed cast iron skillet over medium high heat, drizzle in a turn of the pan of extra virgin olive oil, about 3/4 to 1 tsp.
This helps to keep the butter from browning too fast, plus adds an earthy fruitiness to the flavor profile.
Open hot-dog buns and flatten with palm of hand.
Spread butter on the white side and place in pan.
Gently shake back and forth to ensure all of cooking surface is coated with oil and butter blend.
Layer cheese, then meat on one bun and cheese, then sauerkraut on the other.
SPST.  (Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)
I like to use a lid at this point to speed up the melting process as well as help get ingredients warmed through, before the bread browns too much and gets scorched around the edges.
You may use as much or as little butter as you like, but too much will "sog" out the sandwich and sabotage the classic grilled cheese crunch.
Remove lid after cheese starts to look melty and continue to check bottom of buns for desired toasty-ness.
Flip one side onto the other and place on paper towels to remove excess oil.
Makes 4 sandwiches.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Silky Potato and Gruyere Soup (Meat, Gluten and Dairy Free)

My family and I enjoy potato soup anytime, especially this time of year.  I have several classic recipes that I serve and now I have yet another to share with you.This particular potato soup is unique and different in a key wonderful way.  I used Silk Sugar Free Vanilla Almond Milk.
Nut Milks are a powerhouse of wonderful heart and body-good nutrients.  This particular nut milk has half the RDA's suggested allowance for vitamins B12 and E, plus 40% of calcium, and healthy doses of riboflavin, vitamin D, magnesium and zinc! This is just for the milk substitution alone!
  This soup is fantastic for the lactose intolerant, those just looking to shave off a couple of calories or someone wanting to tap into their inner  Dairy, Gluten or Meat Free style of life, if only for a meal.  I tried this milk initially in a Dairy Free smoothie I created while on vacation.  It is pretty much a blank canvas as per flavor, considering there is no sugar, a little fat, which is mono and polyunsaturated and less than a gram of carbs.  
  Admittedly, this recipe involves full on Gruyere, but I did some research and there is a Vegan Gruyere made with almond milk also, which would accommodate the substitution, since it will be blended until smooth anyway. Again, this is a transitional recipe, so if you do dairy, by all means use the real deal.  The rich and nuttiness of Gruyere pairs well with the nutty flavor profile of the almond milk.  Also remember, vanilla in and of itself is not sweet per se, especially when no other elements of sweet are involved.  The garnish is simply some grated Gruyere tossed with  bright and smoky paprika and freshly cracked black pepper. A tiny sprig of Lime Thyme is added for aromatics and a pop of color.  This recipe allows for substitutions where you feel comfortable.

6 c. potatoes, preferably russet, white if desired, cooked in salted water, drained and mashed
1 quart Sugar Free Vanilla Almond Milk
1 quart vegetable stock OR chicken stock if desired, depending on desired consistency
1 c. crumbled Vegan Almond Gruyere Cheese OR grated Gruyere
2 tbsp. olive oil OR 4 tbsp. butter(optional)
1 tbsp. fresh or dried chives
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 tsp. onion powder
Himalayan Pink Salt (optional)
SPST (Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)
Olive or Chive Oil for garnish (optional)
Over medium low heat, in a medium sauce pot, add potatoes.
Add milk, stock, garlic and olive oil or butter.
Stirring often, slowly bring up to a bubbly simmer.
Using an immersion blender, carefully combine ingredients until smooth.
Add aromatics and cheese, adding more liquid if needed.
Reduce heat to simmer for several more minutes, then turn off heat.
Garnish individual servings as desired.
Serve Immediately.
Makes about 8 servings.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Atlantic Ocean Fisherman's Almanac: Pan Fried Whiting, Yep, I Caught, Cleaned and Cooked These Guys

One of the many highlights from our recent vacation to Myrtle Beach was fishing off the pier with my bestie and fellow vacation mates, Mike and Micheal.  The rest of the gang came too, minus two.  We had a blast, and the breeze was just right, enabling us to withstand the cloudless heat from the gorgeous day, before the storms started to set in.
 The suggested bait of choice was shrimp, which are a heck of a lot cleaner to work with, as far as the hands and worms go.  The pier fishing rates were way reasonable too, around 21 dollars (bait not included) from 3pm to midnight, which included the rod and reel! You could even leave with your equipment, as long as it was returned by the stated time.  This was awesome for me, since it was my and RD's (bestie) dinner night with the crew.  I was able to fish a bit in the afternoon, then we returned much later that night and fished until Midnight, well I did, RD was my photographer and videographer, as well as my witness to the 'one that got away'! I do believe it was a whopper!! Something even took one of my hooks along with my bait!
We had amazing time, not to mention my haul of these two beauties below.
This was the first time I had seen whiting in it's whole live form.  My wheels were turning for something spectacular to create with them, and I ran a  few suggestions by the Mikes.  They simply said "Fry Them" and I said "OK".  The rest is delicious history.
Whiting, scaled, cleaned and butterflied/filleted
buttermilk( I used fat free)
seasoned flour for dredging
oil for frying ( I used Canola Blend)

I butterflied the smaller fish and filleted the other.  I also soaked the fish in icy salted water for about 20 minutes and rinsed before pouring on the buttermilk.  Do not rinse before dredging in the flour.  Fry until golden.  About 3 minutes per side over medium high heat.  Drain on paper towels before plating/serving.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Southern Comfort; Omelette with Country Ham, Tomatoes and Peaches

 On our way to the beach, we passed many roadside stands that offered fresh produce, namely locally grown peaches, watermelons and tomatoes, some even had grapes!  This particular one had three of the aforementioned, so I was elated to have a fresh batch in tow when we arrived in Cherry Grove, South Carolina.  The peaches were large, fragrant and gorgeous.  I asked the kind and knowledgeable lady running the stand for a mix  of peak ripe ones, with some that would be better suited for the days to come.  I saved the largest and firmest fruit to take home to my lovelies, Mom Genesis, and Bronwyn.  The others I had a little fun with, including a Peach and Banana 'Shake' made from No Sugar Added Almond milk, 2 whole  fresh peaches, a banana, and lots of crushed ice.  I also added a tiny amount sweetener to balance it out.  My bestie Rufus and my friend Doris enjoyed it tremendously, as did I.
The next idea came around brunch time, when appetites were soaring and we were gearing up for a day of exploration and sunification, (yep, made that word up!).
We had missed the breakfast wave of the morning , where my friend Michael was at the helm of the breakfast barge, making omelettes to order, which looked amazing.  The team did a fantastic job of finely dicing the ham, onions and green peppers, nothing like a good ole Western to start the day!
I love a flavor profile that includes elements of sweet, savory, bitter and salty.  That being said, I had picked up these small packages of sliced country ham, a staple when I go out of town, if I randomly pass it in a supermarket. I took the traditional route for RD, with a Western and went all the way with mine.   The following recipe is what I enjoyed and can't wait to make again.
3 large eggs
splash of milk or water
1 dash Sriracha or other hot sauce
1 pat butter, more if desired
1 drizzle olive oil
1/4 c. fresh tomato, seeds and skin removed, diced
1/3 c. freshly diced peaches
1/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese, more if desired
1 oz. cooked country ham, chopped or cut into thin strips
olive oil for drizzling
In a nonstick pan, melt butter and drizzle of olive oil, over medium high heat.
Beat eggs lightly and add milk and sriracha.  SPST
Once bubbles in pan are small and before the butter solids brown, add eggs.
Shake pan vigorously back and forth to set up the omelette.
Using a rubber spatula, push outside of cooked egg to center, lifting the pan and distributing contents around the circumference of the pan until whole bottom is set,
Scrape runny topside of egg to edges and sprinkle in cheese, ham and tomatoes.
After about 30 seconds, fold omelette over in pan and slide onto serving plate.
In a small bowl, toss peaches with a scant drizzle of olive oil and fresh cracked pepper.
Arrange over omelette, and garnish with sriracha if desired.
Serve Immediately.
Makes one omelette.

These Muscadine grapes were outstanding!!