Thursday, August 22, 2013

Roasted Red Peppers with Olives and Parsley

Red bell peppers were plentiful at the market one day in the spring and I bought a lot of them. Then comes the question of how to serve them - one can only eat so many red peppers raw. I often make a mixture of roasted vegetables - zucchini, onions, peppers, mushrooms - and decided to try just the peppers. Roasting them at a high temperature makes them soft, juicy and caramelized on the edges. The leftovers are good cold, in a salad.

Roasted Red Peppers with Olives and Parsley

Red bell peppers, at least one per person (for the two of us I did 4, so as to have leftovers)
olive oil
coarse kosher salt
2 Tablespoons sliced olives (Kalamata or olive-cured)
2 Tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
1/4 cup soft goat cheese (chèvre)

Seed the peppers and cut into long strips, about 1/2 - 3/4 inch wide. Toss on a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil, just enough to coat each strip. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast at 425 degrees for 40-50 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the peppers are soft and beginning to brown on the edges. Place on a serving plate, sprinkle with the olives and goat cheese. Toss the parsley on top just before serving.

Adding a sliced onion to the peppers before roasting is also delicious. Substitute whatever type of fresh cheese you like - I've used a sheep's milk feta for friends with dairy allergies.

Grilled Rosemary Steak

The weather cleared up after a week of dullness and I've been inspired to cook on the grill again. Earlier this week I made Grilled Rosemary Steak which we enjoyed out on the deck as the sun slanted in the west. This is as easy a recipe as you can get. We enjoyed it with Potato Splats, Roasted Peppers with Olives and Parsley, and some sauteed patty pan squash.

Grilled Rosemary Steak

2 strip loin steaks (or however many you need)
olive oil
finely chopped fresh rosemary
freshly ground black pepper

Several hours before grilling the steaks, coat them on both sides with a little olive oil, rub in some rosemary and pepper and let marinate in the refrigerator. About 20 minutes before grilling, take the steaks out of the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature. 

Preheat the grill to medium or medium high and grill until done as desired, preferably a bit underdone as the meat will continue cooking as it rests. Sprinkle with salt, remove from the heat and let rest on a covered dish while you eat your salad or first course. Serve and enjoy.  

Rosemary Parmesan Coins

These are addictive little morsels of buttery, lemony, cheese and herb-flavoured goodness. I like to keep a couple of rolls of the dough in the freezer to have on hand and bake fresh for guests. Or me. They are delicious as a pre-dinner snack. 

Rosemary Parmesan Coins

1 1/3 cups flour
3/4 cup lightly packed grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1 Tablespoon finely minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, chilled
1 large egg yolk
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until blended. Add the butter and pulse until the dough resembles coarse crumbs. Stir together the egg yolk and lemon juice. Drizzle over the flour mixture. Pulse until small moist crumbs begin to form. 

Turn the mixture out onto an unfloured work surface. Work the dough (it will look like a pile of crumbs), smearing onto the counter and mashing it together until it forms a cohesive dough. Shape into a 1 to 1 1/2 inch diameter log. Wrap in plastic. Chill for an hour or more. Slice 1/4 inch thick and place on parchment lined baking sheets. 

Bake at 375 degrees for 15 - 20 minutes. Watch carefully for the last few minutes as they can burn quickly.

After wrapping in plastic, the dough can be frozen. Thaw slightly at room temperature to slice and bake.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Sage and Ginger Mixed Nuts

Pecans, almonds, peanuts, cashews - I love them all. A nut mix is a great thing to serve with drinks before dinner, or, if you must, instead of dinner. Any combination of nuts and seeds can be used, here I've used almonds, pecans, peanuts and pumpkin seeds. Faintly sweet, gently spicy, and fragrant with sage and ginger. Mmmm.

Sage and Ginger Mixed Nuts

2 1/2 cup nuts (can be all of one kind or a mixture to your liking)
1 egg white
1 Tablespoon water
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
dash or two of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Mix the egg white and water lightly with a fork. Add the nuts and stir to cover. Combine the brown sugar, sage, ginger, pepper and salt and then add it to the nuts, stirring well to coat. Spread on a parchment lined large baking sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until the nuts are golden brown and the sugar has lightly caramelized. Be careful towards the end as it takes no time at all for the nuts to go from golden brown to burnt. 

Cool, break apart and store in a covered container. Can be frozen. 

Green Beans with Sage and Bacon

My garden is bursting with green beans these days. I'm freezing a lot of them for soups and stews in the winter, and we're looking for new ways to eat them fresh, too. Bacon is always good with green beans, and I wondered about trying sage with them, since my sage bush is enormous. I think they marry well - the brightness of crisp tender beans plus salty bacon plus earthy sage - with a little onion added in. 

Green Beans with Sage and Bacon

Green beans, tailed and tipped - about 3 cups
4 slices bacon
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced (about 1/4 cup or less)
1 Tablespoon minced fresh sage
salt and pepper to taste

Place the beans in a saucepan and cover with a little water. Salt and bring to a boil, covered. Simmer until barely tender and still bright green. The younger the beans, the less time it will take. 
Meanwhile, cook the bacon slices until crisp. Remove from the pan and let drain on paper towel.
In a small skillet, heat the olive oil and add the onions. Saute until softened. Add the sage and saute for a few minutes until the mixture is fragrant. 
Combine all ingredients and season to taste.

Platz aka Plum Cake

 Platz is a Mennonite treat baked often by my mother and my aunts. It highlights fresh summer fruits like plums, peaches, apricots and berries, but any fruit can be used. Best eaten the day it's made, although a slice for breakfast tastes pretty good, too. In Germany, this is known as Plummen Kuchen - Plum Cake.

Fruit Platz

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons butter
1 cup cream (light, or even milk)
1 egg
 Fresh fruit: Use pitted cherries, plum slices, apricot halves, apples or peaches

Mix together the flour, baking powder and sugar. Add the butter and mix with your fingers to form fine crumbs. Stir together the egg and cream, then add to the flour mixture and stir just until moistened.
Pat out (flour your hands) onto a greased baking sheet (15 x 10 inches). I prefer lining my baking sheet with parchment paper. You want the dough to be fairly thin, but it doesn't necessarily have to fill out the entire baking sheet. 
Place a single layer of fruit over the dough. Top with the Crumb Topping, known as Ruebel.

Ruebel (Crumb Topping)

3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 Tablespoons butter

Mix the flour, sugar and baking powder together, then rub in the butter and add cream to make coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over the fruit. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Blueberry Sauce

8-10 cup of fresh blueberries, rinsed and drained
2 cups sugar (next time I'd cut the sugar by at least half - this batch was too sweet)
2 cups water
2 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and drained (you will add these later)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
3 Tablespoons lemon juice (bottled)

Combine the  8 - 10 cups of blueberries, sugar and water in a large stainless steel pot. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Maintain the mixture at a steady boil for 15 minutes. Stir and mash the berries as they cook.

Add the 2 cups of blueberries and the cinnamon. Boil for 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the lemon zest and juice. 

Fill clean 1/2 pint jars, allowing 1/2 inch headspace. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. 

Yields 8 jars (1/2 pint)