Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Curried Squash - Apple Soup

I love my immersion blender! Of course a regular blender works just as well, but prep and clean-up are both shortened with the immersion form. Here is recipe that is a perfect application for the immersion blender.  A warm, hearty,  low fat  winter or fall, comfort food.

This soup is a family favorite. I  don't think I have ever made it exactly  the same way twice, but the ingredients & prep stay the same. I roast the squash, unpeeled along with the onions and apples. When the squash is fork tender (30-45 minutes at 400 -time depends on the size of the squash) ,  I remove from the oven, strip the peel off the squash and apples, and place the squash, onion and apples in a large pot with the chicken stock.  I blend it all together until smooth, right in the pot. (This the cool part of owning an immersion blender!).  I add the spices to taste , turn on the heat to medium, bring it to a simmer and go for 5-10 minutes to blend the flavors.  The half and half,  added  before serving,  adds a little creaminess to the soup, but you don't need it.

Variations I have made in the past include: using a cup of apple cider in place of the apples, adding no-fat half and half or  whipping cream at the end, adding 1/2 to 1 cup of applesauce instead of apples. This recipe is very forgiving so use  whatever you have on hand!

Ingredients
  • 1 2-3 pound butternut squash, halved and pulp scooped out
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 -3 apples, quartered and seeded
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 to 1  teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon  yellow curry powder





Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pumpkin Pancakes

Waking up to a cold, grey, too early in the season, snow day brings on cravings for a warm hearty breakfast. Topped with some warmed, Vermont maple syrup I brought home with me a few weeks ago, this recipe fills the bill. Afterwards, we were ready to get out the shovels and work off some of those indulgent calories. A great way to put some cheer into the start of a week!
You can easily substitute the milk and vinegar for the same amount of buttermilk, if you have it on hand. In either case, be sure not to over mix!

  • 1 1/2 cups milk 
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree 
  • egg 2 tablespoons butter, melted 
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar 
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
Directions 
  1. In a bowl, mix together the milk, pumpkin, egg, oil and vinegar.
  2. Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, ginger and salt in a separate bowl. 
  3. Stir into the pumpkin mixture just enough to combine. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. 
  4. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie

There are so many meal options available to you when you have cooked chicken on hand!  Roasting a whole chicken is a great way to insure that.  Yesterday's roasted chicken is today's chicken pot pie --- and I still have enough meat on hand to make sandwiches slathered with homemade  cranberry mayo  on oatmeal bread!  Or maybe chicken quesadillas with cheese, corn and salsa!

Premade pie crust made this meal a snap. 15-20 minutes of prep, pop in the oven and relax until dinner! Served with a tossed green salad and you have a meal. Clark had seconds , which means he approved!

Ingredients
  • 2 crusts for 9 inch pie (I like Phillsbury if you can't make your own)
  • 2 T butter 
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 t black pepper 
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped 
  • 2 cups chicken broth 
  • 8 oz sliced mushrooms 
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, chopped 
  • 2 carrot, finely chopped 
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped 
  • 1 large potatoes peeled and cubed 
  • 1 cup of frozen peas 
Directions
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Place bottom crust in 9 inch  pie plate.
  • In a large saucepan, melt  butter on medium high heat.
  • Add onion, celery, mushrooms. Cook until soft.
  • Blend in flour, salt, pepper. 
  • Gradually stir in chicken broth. Cook, stirring constantly until smooth and thickened.
  • Add potato and peas and simmer  for 5-10 minutes, until potatoes are soft.
  • Add chicken, mix well and pour into bottom pie crust. 
  • Cover with top crust and seal edges.
  • Make several small slits in the top to allow steam to escape. 
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown, and filling is bubbly.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Oatmeal Bread

Oatmeal Bread
I love this bread! It reminds me of the homemade bread my Swedish grandmother use to make.  The recipe makes  3 loaves,  plenty to share as well supply bread for our (now) 2 person family for a week. It makes terrific toast!

The recipe directions assumes that you have some  experience and knowledge in bread making. One thing I do to facilitate  rising is to fill a cake pan with boiling water and place on the bottom rack of an unheated oven. The covered bowl  goes on an upper rack. The enclosed, warm, moist space  creates the perfect environment for rising bread dough.


Ingredients

1 cup regular oats (not quick cooking)
1 cup boiling water
3 T. butter
1 cup cold water
 3/4 cup molasses
2 teaspoons salt
1 page active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water
1 egg white, beaten  until frothy
extra oats for garnish

Directions

  1. Combine oats, boiling water and butter in a large mixing bowl; stir to melt butter.
  2. Add cold water, molasses and salt. Cool to lukewarm, if necessary.
  3. Combine yeast and water. Stir to dissolve and then let stand for 5 minutes.
  4. Add yeast mixture to cooled oat mixture. Stir in as much flour as you can, then knead in the rest.
  5. Continue kneading until smooth and elastic.
  6. Place Dough in a well greased bowl, turn to grease top. Cover with a clean dish towel  and let rise until doubled in bulk. 
  7. Punch down dough and shape into 3 loaves. 
  8. Place loaves in a greased 8x4 inch pan and let rise until dough reaches tops of pans. 
  9.  Brush tops with beaten egg whites and sprinkle with oats.
  10. Bake in preheated oven 45 minutes, or until bread is browned and loaves sound hollow when tapped.
  11. Remove from pans and let cool on racks.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Lydia's Apple Walnut Supreme Cake

Apple Cake
The first time I ate this cake I was  a freshman at University of Maine. It was parents weekend and my folks were 8 hours away in New York so  I knew there was no way they'd make the trek up to see me for just a weekend. Besides, there were 5 other kids at home.  I didn't even ask. Fortunately, my room mate's parents lived less than a couple hours away AND they were kind enough to adopt me for the day. Her mom had packed a picnic lunch that included all kinds of home made goodies,   and this cake was one of the treasures. I still have the hand written recipe card she sent me, spattered and stained.  Each fall,  when fresh apples hit the markets, I rummage thru my recipe box and remember the kindness of a family that included a lonely freshman in their festivities!   The cake never fails to get rave reviews! Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Ingredients

4 cups coarsley chopped apples
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup Crisco oil
 2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups sifted flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (I always use peacans)

Directions

  • Combine apples and sugar. Set aside.
  • In another bowl. combine the dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon)
  • In a large mixing bowl, mix the eggs, oil, and vanilla. Beat one minute at medium speed.
  • Add in half  of the dry ingredients, stir,  then half the apple mixture. Repeat.
  • Stir in walnuts.
  • Bake in a 13x9 inch pan that has been greased and floured at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until cake test done with a toothpick. DO NOT UNDERBAKE.
  • When cake is completely cool, spread on frosting.
Note: I use  only one cup of sugar and have substituted half the oil with applesauce.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Stir together until smooth:
  • 13oz cream cheese (1/3 fat works fine), room temperature
  • 1 stick of butter (1/2 cup), room temperature
  • 2 t. of vanilla 
  • 1 and 3/4 cups  powdered sugar

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Poached Spicy "Greek" Cod with Tomatoes

I've made this dish several times in the last few months. Clark loves it.  Easy and quick, it makes a hearty, healthy  meal when served with brown rice  and a garden salad. I've  made it with fresh tomatoes when they were in season, but it works well with a can of  diced tomatoes, which is the way I made it tonight. If you use fresh tomatoes, just dice 2 or 3 and add after the onion and garlic have wilted and saute for a couple more minutes. Increase wine  to 1/4 to 1/2 cup, or add water. I use frozen cod from Costco which takes a little longer to cook, if  not thawed.  Previously, I have sprinkled a little feta on top of the dish. The rice helps  sop up the broth, which has a  great flavor!

Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-2 gloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine 
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 T. chopped fresh parsley
  •  1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 4 (6-ounce) cod fillets $
  • 1 small can of sliced black olives, drained

Preparation

  • Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 1-2 minute or until lightly browned. Add wine, tomatoes, salt, pepper, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 2 minutes. Add fish; cover and simmer 5 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Top with olives and parsley.  A sprinkling of feta cheese adds a little more  "Greek" flavor.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ployes

Ploye mix and finished product
As a kid, I remember Memere (pronounced mem-may), my  mother's mother who was French Canadian descent making ployes  at every meal for my grandfather. She made them on top of her wood fired cook stove.  They served as bread. My recent trip to  northern Maine, visiting my dad,  re-kindled this memory.  I made them  for dinner one evening to accompany a salad topped with roasted chicken. 

What are ployes?  Here's what wikipedia says:

"A ploye is a pancake type mix of buckwheat flour, wheat flour, baking powder and water which is extremely popular in the Madawaska region (New Brunswick), Canada and northern Maine, United States. The ploye was originally a simple carbohydrate filler food for the local population. It was very cheap, easy to make, and with local toppings, such as maple syrup or cretons, could vary in taste. This staple is often eaten with baked beans. Over time however it simply became a traditional dish."

Ploye Cooking in Skillet
The recipe is simple:  add 1 1/4 cups water to  1 cup of the  mix(buckwheat, wheat flower, baking powder and salt) and whisk to form a thin,  runny batter.   Pour about 1/2 cup into  a sizzling hot,  ungreased skillet ( a cast iron one works best). It cooks quickly so you have to stick close to the stove. When the edges are just dry, and bubbles have formed on the rest of the pancake, flip it over and finish cooking for a few seconds. It sort of resembles a crepe. The mix, sold in grocery stores in the area, definitely tastes just like the ployes my grandmother made.

My grandfather ate his ployes slathered with butter and rolled up.  Others use maple syrup (the real stuff is readily available in this part of the country).  We used butter and a little homemade maple syrup before rolling them up and enjoying. Either way, it's an interesting, high fiber, tasty,  regional dish that I'm proud to have as part of my heritage.

I brought some mix home to Idaho!