Friday, September 30, 2011

Tomato Jam

I don't think it's too late for this tomato recipe...  at least I hope not!  Quick, go buy some tomatoes and then come back :)

A bunch of field tomatoes from my CSA were sitting on my counter, giving me the evil eye for not using them.  I had to do something, and quick!  Dawn's Tomato Pie was almost the winner until the thought of a tomato jam couldn't get out of my head.

whole grain pita bites topped with goat cheese and tomato jam

It took awhile to cook the juicy red fruits down, but oh it was worth it!!  I fell in love immediately with this sweet and spicy jam and immediately started brainstorming things to do with it.

scrambled eggs with corn and tomato jam

Scrambled eggs with corn and tomato jam
Cheese and crackers with tomato jam
On sweet corn poundcake
On a sandwich...  egg and cheese or grilled cheese anyone?
As a savory cheesecake
Inside pop tarts!

sweet corn poundcake with tomato jam

Tomato Jam
adapted from the NY Times and food52
Yield:  ~2c

You can probably use whatever kind of tomatoes you have on hand or can find at the farmers market.  I just used field tomatoes - which are pretty juicy and took awhile to cook down.

3 to 3 1/2lb tomatoes, cored and chopped
1sm onion, diced (~1/2c)
zest & juice of 1 lemon
1/2c brown sugar
1 1/2c evaporated cane juice (or granulated sugar)
1/4c cider vinegar
1/2t cinnamon
2t salt
1t cumin
1/2t coriander
1/8t cloves
red pepper flakes or cayenne, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a heavy sauce pan or stock pot.  Heat over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring often.  Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened and reached a jam-like consistency, 2-3hrs.

Transfer to sterilized glass jars and cool.  Can be stored in the refrigerator 1-2 weeks or use a hot-water canning bath for 15min for long-term storage.

What would you put this tomato jam on??

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cleaning out the Pantry

I've been trying to get better about using the ingredients in my pantry.  I really have.  When I rummaged through them the other day I came across some refried black beans and garlic salsa that I pulled out and set on my counter to use.  A few days later I used them, along with some sauteed onions, zucchini and summer squash from my CSA to make delicious tacos for dinner!

Made even better by homemade spelt tortillas!  (Spelt flour being another thing I was apparently hoarding for a rainy day).   A fun project, these were soft and tasty, albeit a little tough to work with in my warm, humid apartment.  Some (ok, a lot of) extra flour and a little perseverance was all that was needed ;) 

I also uncovered a little bit of Israeli couscous from who knows when ;)  Really, I don't want to know.  When an eggplant arrived in my CSA I knew just what to make!

Don't let my sub-par photo deter you (I was exhausted and couldn't bring myself to get out my light box), the warm spices and creamy roasted eggplant totally won me over.  

Israeli Couscous w/Roasted Eggplant
slightly adapted from bon appetit
serves 2

This could be served as a side, or bulked up with some greens and chickpeas to serve as a vegetarian main dish.  Feel free to toast your own cumin seeds and grind them fresh as the original recipe suggests.  I was short on time, so opted to take the easy way out.

1- 1lb eggplant, cut into 1/2" cubes
1/2c israeli couscous
2-3T extra virgin olive oil, divided
1T white balsamic vinegar
1t ground cumin
3/8t ground cinnamon
2T finely chopped shallot
2T golden raisins
4 cubes of fresh frozen cilantro (found at Trader Joe's, could also use 1-2T fresh chopped)

Preheat oven to 450deg.

In a bowl or on a baking sheet, add 1 1/2T olive oil, salt and pepper to the eggplant.  Toss to coat and then roast until tender and golden, 20-40min.  (Mine were done rather quickly, they may have been on the smaller side)

Meanwhile bring a small pot of water to a boil.  Cook Israeli couscous in salted, boiling water until just tender, a little over 5min.  Drain and then rinse with cold water.

After the couscous and eggplant are cooked, prepare the dressing.  In a medium bowl, add vinegar, 1-2T olive oil, cinnamon and cumin.  Whisk well, then add in onion and season with salt and pepper.  Once cooled to RT, add couscous, eggplant, raisins and cilantro.  Fold together, taste and adjust seasonings.

CSA items used:  4
Pantry items used: 6

I might have a ways to go, but I'm making progress!!

Do you have a tendency to stock up on ingredients you use normally or have a small pantry and have to pick up everything you need each week?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Farro w/Roasted Tomatoes & Eggplant

This recipe was born from the bounty of a friend's garden.  Slowly roasted tomatoes as sweet as candy (reminding of the tomato tarte tatin from last year!).  Chewy farro.  Soft roasted eggplant.  Aromatic roasted garlic.  The success, I think, is in its simplicity.

Farro w/Roasted Tomatoes & Eggplants
Recipe by Shannon
Serves 4

I served this along some fish (not worth repeating), but it would also pair well with roasted garlic sausage, tofu or your favorite protein.

1c farro
2lb grape tomatoes
1 lg eggplant, diced
4-5 cloves of garlic
extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 250deg (or 300deg if you're a little short on time).

Add tomatoes to one baking sheet and eggplant to another.  Drizzle both with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss to coat.  Wrap garlic cloves in foil and place on one of the pans.

Bake, stirring every 15min or so, until the tomatoes have begun to burst and release their juices and eggplant is soft and browned.

Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to a boil.  Add a bit of salt and farro.  Cook until tender, 15-25min.  Drain and add to a large bowl.  Add roasted eggplant and tomatoes.  Squeeze roasted garlic out of the cloves.  Mix well, then taste and adjust seasonings before serving.

Are you a fan of farro?   Or perhaps you prefer quinoa, wheat berries or another grain?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Lobsterman 2011

Location: Freeport, ME
Distance: Olympic (.93mi s, 24.7mi b, 6.2mi r)
Time:  9am start
Weather:  gorgeous (70s?)
Participants: 615

I can't begin the race recap without acknowledging Aaron Brooks (Perfect Postures) and Mike Carey (Performance Health Therapy).  Without them, training for an olympic distance race wouldn't have happened.  I've talked about it before, but over the past year I've been working Aaron and Mike to get my hips and feet back in proper alignment so that I can run (and bike) without that nagging ache in my left heel.  Obviously, it worked and I can't say enough good things about these guys!

My goal for this year (my first year in the 30-34AG) was to do an olympic distance tri.  Given the above, I picked a late season race to make sure I could ease back into training.  I was ready and looking forward to a fun race with a cheering section set to attend.  Then Hurricane Irene arrived, and said race was cancelled.  Understandable, but disappointing to say the least.  A week later I heard about another race up in Maine that was still open... hmm.

BPC friends help keep the nerves at bay pre-race ;)

To add another race or not?  After the let-down of Irene/no race, I took a week off of training, I just couldn't do it.  That's a bit of a long taper :)  And the course profiles couldn't be more different--  the race I trained for was pretty much flat, maybe some rolling hills.  This new race had hills.  Oh, and did I mention I was moving the day after the new race?  So I adjusted my goals--  just enjoy the race.  On Tuesday before the race, I officially signed up.

Our wave is off!

Given the wetsuit requirement and temperatures in the low 60s earlier this week, I was a bit worried about how cold the swim would be.  Luckily it wasn't bad (announced as 68), and the only thing that was a bit chilly were my feet.  The course had three buoys, and we were in the 6th wave.  Things went well from the start, I felt pretty good through the first two buoys.

At least I wasn't the only one swimming off course ;)

After rounding the second buoy I couldn't find the 3rd buoy (due to a poorly placed raft/boat), people from the wave behind me started to catch up, the water was getting a bit choppier, and I was getting a bit tired.  I tried to catch some feet, but that didn't last more than a couple of strokes as I was likely going off course :)  Somehow I made it to the third buoy and headed to shore.  I was guessing/hoping for ~30min, so 33:16 probably takes into account the extra distance covered by searching for buoy 3.

That's me in the purple cap and ear plugs!

Up a little hill to transition and back to my bike, I got out of my wetsuit without any issues and got ready to head out on the bike.  My chilly feet came back to life pretty quickly and before I knew it I was heading up the first hill out of the park.

As I mentioned before, the course is has some hills (see above).  There are more challenging courses out there, for sure, but for my untrained legs I was a little weary.  After all, I still had to run a 10K!  The course definitely keeps you on your toes;  I hung out in my granny gear on a couple hills but tried to take advantage of the downhills and maxed out on the other end a few times as well.

I'm sorry for taking a screen shot...  is that copying?

I safely maneuvered the packed gravel around mile 8, kept my cool when a couple people passed me and then stopped pedaling (really?), and I pulled back into the park just under 1:28 (16.8mph ave).  I'll take it!

While I survived the bike, I wasn't really looking forward to the run (usually my favorite part).  You see, I had ridden the first part of the run, and, well, it had the same sort of hills.

There's not really much I remember about the run...  my hips were really tight off the bike, but after walking up the second half of the first hill they loosened up so that was good.   My stomach wasn't feeling awesome (nerves?  salt water?), and I tried to keep my focus to one mile at a time.   Reminding myself of my goal (have fun!  enjoy the scenery!) and my move the following day, I didn't push it and walked up a few of the hills.  Unusual for me, but I was totally okay with it and somehow I finished in 58:50.

Hey look, my feet are moving!

I did see a retriever with his owner walking along the side of the road towards the end of the run.  He suddenly copped a squat and wouldn't budge, must have been tired of spectating/cheering :)   I feel the same way, Buddy!

Where is the finish line already??

Overall time:  3hr 5min 5sec  (21/42 in my AG)

Lobster Bake!

Final thoughts
I was aiming for 3hours and came in right around that on a challenging course that I didn't train for.  So I am very pleased!  It was great to see some friends podium too (Congrats Laura and Jeff)!

Oly?  Done.

It was an absolutely beautiful day for a race, and Lobsterman was a great one.  Volunteers were pretty awesome all day, and the race was very well organized.  The only issue I had was at the end of the race, when all I wanted was a bottle of water and they were filling small cups of water.  Bottles next time, please?  Thanks!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Gajar Halwa

Delicious Indian food was in abundance at the rehearsal dinner for my best friend's wedding earlier this summer.  There was one dish that stuck in my mind...  a cardamom-kissed dessert made with carrots, or gajar halwa.  I was smitten at first taste and determined to make it in my own kitchen.  What better time than when you get carrots in your CSA?

Gajar Halwa
adapted from beyond the plate

I changed the recipe a bit to retain the carrots' integrity, not be too sweet and not take too long... my personal preferences, feel free to adjust as necessary ;)  Raisins could also be added if you have them!

10oz carrots, peeled and grated
2c milk (I used Lactaid)
1/4c water (supposed to prevent milk from sticking to the bottom of the pan, but mine still stuck)
1/2c evaporated milk
1/3t freshly ground cardamom (or 1/2t pre-ground)
1/4-1/2c sugar (1/2c was too sweet for me)
1/4t saffron (a pinch)
2T butter (optional)
2T pistachios, chopped (or almonds or cashews)

Add carrots, milk, water, evaporated milk and cardamom to a medium, heavy-bottomed pot.  Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook, stirring frequently, until milk is cooked off.  I turned mine down too low (below a simmer) and it took over an hour, so cooking it at a low simmer should take 20-40min.

Add 1/4c sugar, butter (if using) and saffron (crushing between your fingertips as you add to the pot).  Stir and cook until sugar is dissolved.  Taste and adjust to your desired level of sweetness.  Serve, garnished with chopped pistachios.  It's good warm, RT or cold, or even stirred into your morning oats!

You all know I'm all about vegetables for dessert lately ;)  Have you ever tried gajar halwa??

Monday, September 12, 2011

Goat Cheese Ice Cream w/Roasted Cherries

So I decided to mix things up.  Instead of my traditional coconut milk-based ice creams, I went rogue.  Hello egg yolks!   Don't worry (?), I didn't use cream.  I restrained myself.  Ha.

The almost too-sweet cherries were a nice complement to the tang of the goat cheese ice cream I am now in love with.  If you're not as much of a fan of goat cheese as I am, try using 4oz, or perhaps substitute cream cheese instead.

Goat Cheese Ice Cream
adapted from Kitchen Confit & Ezra Pound Cake

Confession:  I must have heated my custard too much, as it curdled.  I continued, didn't bother straining the mixture and simply threw it in the blender before chilling and churning.  I'm not sure how this affected the final texture, as I haven't done it properly yet, but worked well enough for me!

For the cherries:
2c pitted fresh cherries (or frozen, unthawed)
1/2c sugar  (I'd use even less next time)
2t cornstarch

For the ice cream:
1 1/2c milk (I used Lactaid Fat Free Smooth & Creamy...  I had a coupon and it was on sale!)
2/3c evaporated cane juice (or granulated sugar)
8oz goat cheese, RT
6 lg egg yolks

To prepare the cherries, preheat the oven to 400deg.  Toss cherries, sugar and cornstarch in a 9"sq baking dish (or anything that's large enough to hold the cherries).  Bake for 30-45 min, stirring occasionally, until the juice is thick and bubbly.  Cool to RT, then store in the fridge until making the ice cream.  Can be done a few days ahead.

For the ice cream, warm the milk and sugar in a medium saucepan so the sugar dissolves.

Meanwhile, crumble goat cheese into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top.

In a separate bowl, whisk together egg yolks.  Temper the egg yolks by pouring warm milk/sugar into the egg yolks, a little at a time, whisking constantly.  Once the milk has been added, pour the entire mixture back into the saucepan.

Stir the milk/egg yolk mixture with a spatula continuously over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens.  You'll be able to coat the spatula with the custard and draw a line that stays once it's thick enough.  Pour custard through the strainer and stir into the goat cheese until it's melted (or just use your blender like I did!).  Cool to RT (use an ice bath if you need it to happen more quickly), then refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, a few hours or overnight is best.

Churn ice cream according to manufacturer's directions.  Once churned, pour a layer of cherries into whatever container you use for ice cream.  Top with a layer of goat cheese ice cream, and continue alternating layers until the container is full or you're out of the ice cream and cherries.  Don't mix, as the ice cream will turn pink!  Cover with a layer of saran wrap or parchment paper and freeze until firm (a few hours).

If you really want to take it up a notch, serve a scoop with a pickled cherry brownie ;)

Pickled Cherry Brownies
adapted from Janetha's go-to brownie recipe

3 squares of Bakers unsweetened chocolate
1/2c butter (1 stick)
1 1/2c evaporated cane juice
2 eggs
1t vanilla extract
3/4c white whole wheat flour
1c pickled cherries, halved

Follow the instructions here (you can use the stove instead of the microwave), using a 9"sq pan and baking for 30-40min.  Mine were done perfectly at 35 min, a toothpick came clean but they were still fudgy when cooled!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Stuffed Peppers (CSA Week 11)

The purple peppers in this week's CSA screamed to be used for something special.  I almost went with Joanne and Meghan's suggestion for a curry before it dawned on me-- I should make stuffed peppers!  Even better, I could use some other items from my CSA and pantry, a win-win given my impending move.

Stuffed Peppers
Yield:  4-5 stuffed peppers

4-5 peppers (the bigger the better)
1 small onion, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 summer squash, diced
1-2T extra virgin olive oil
~1/2c frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
~1/2c frozen corn, thawed
1 package of sprouted brown rice (or 1c of your favorite grain)
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes (mine were roasted w/chipotle)
seasonings (ex:  s/p, cumin, oregano, hot sauce...)
1/2c grated cheddar (or more, I used grass-fed New Zealand cheddar)

Preheat oven to 400deg.

Heat oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat.  Add onion, and cook 3-4min, until translucent. Add zucchini and summer squash, stir and cook until soft and starting to brown.  Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes.

Wash your peppers and cut them in half.  Remove stem, ribs and seeds and set in a square pan with sides so they don't roll around.

In a large bowl, add spinach, corn, rice, chickpeas, diced tomatoes and cooled veggies.  Mix well, taste and add seasonings.  I went with a little salt, freshly ground pepper, and a few shakes of ground cumin.  Stir again and then stuff your pepper halves.  Top each pepper with ~2T grated cheese.

Bake for 20-25min, until cheese is melted and peppers cooked through (you can test them with a knife).

CSA items used: 3 (peppers, summer squash, zucchini)
Pantry items used: 5 (corn, spinach, brown rice, chickpeas, diced tomatoes)

Pantry items left:  let's not discuss that...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Peach Sangria

A couple of weekends ago, I happened upon a large basket of peaches.  Topping out over 20lbs, I had fun trying to figure out what to do with them all (fun, in a stressful kind of way when they all ripen at once)!

Halfway through!

There was a request for Brown Sugar Peach Ice Cream, so that was done.  And there had to be pie.   Joanne's Peaches and Dream Pie of course!  I used a frozen pie crust from my last baking adventure and baked it right up, my only other change being 4 egg whites instead of 2 eggs (I had them after ice cream making, recipe to come).  Light and peachy, everyone enjoyed :)

And then there was something I've had in mind ever since I visited Bishop's Orchard last summer.  We did a wine tasting there and I picked up a bottle of wine I thought would be perfect for sangria.  I planned it out before realizing it was, in fact, a peach wine (Blushing Beauty)!

Peach Sangria
Recipe by Shannon

The mint isn't overwhelming in here, but I think it adds a little something-something!

1 bottle peach wine (or other semi-dry white wine)
1c vodka (Absolut Acai Berry)
1c mint simple syrup*
3 peaches, thinly sliced
1 orange, sliced horizontally
club soda
frozen mango cubes
frozen raspberries

In a pitcher, combine wine, vodka and simple syrup.  Stir to combine.  Add peaches and oranges, and refrigerate a few hours, or overnight.

When ready to serve, pour sangria into wine glasses (~3/4 full) and top off with club soda.  Drop in a few frozen mango cubes and raspberries and serve!

*Mint Simple Syrup

1c water
1/2c evaporated cane juice  (or granulated sugar)
large bunch of mint

Bring water and sugar to a boil over medium heat.  Once sugar has dissolved and mixture comes to a boil, turn off heat and add mint leaves.  Steep for ~30min, then strain out mint leaves.  Store simple syrup in the refrigerator until ready to use.

It sure was a tasty way to pass the time through Hurricane Irene!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Brown Sugar Peach Ice Cream

Last year it was Saffron Peach Ice Cream, this year it's a simpler Brown Sugar Peach Ice Cream.  I'm not sure which I like better, I'll need to make them both again for a side by side comparison ;)

Brown Sugar Peach Ice Cream
A conglomeration of techniques from The Perfect Scoop, America's Test Kitchen and Eggs on Sunday

Normally I'd use sucanat instead of brown sugar without blinking an eye, but I think this recipe really benefits from brown sugar.  The clusters are completely optional, if you don't want the texture in your ice cream, feel free to leave them out.

3c of peeled, chopped peaches (~4 medium ripe)
1/2t fresh lemon juice
1/4c brown sugar
1 1/2T vodka
2 cans coconut milk
2T arrowroot
1/2c brown sugar
1T vanilla
pinch of sea salt
1 ripe peach, pureed

Stir together peaches, lemon juice and brown sugar in a medium non-reactive saucepan.  Let sit for an hour or so until they've released some juices and the peaches are slightly softened.

Heat peaches over medium high heat until peaches are tender and flesh has just started to break down, 3-4min.  Transfer to a bowl and stir in vodka.  Refrigerate until cold, anywhere from a few hours to overnight.

Reserve 1/4c coconut milk and pour the rest into a medium saucepan.  Add brown sugar to the saucepan and heat over medium heat until sugar has dissolved.  Whisk arrowroot into reserved coconut milk and set aside.  Just as the coconut milk comes to a boil, remove from heat and whisk in the reserved milk/arrowroot, vanilla and salt.  Cool to RT, then refrigerate until well chilled.

At this point you should have chilled peaches and coconut milk.  Strain the peaches and reserve the liquid  (you'll be using both the peaches and the liquid).  Add liquid and pureed peach to the ice cream base and stir well (or blend).  Churn the ice cream according to manufacturer's directions.  Transfer ice cream to a freezer-safe container and add peaches and brown sugar clusters (if using).  Fold in gently, then freeze a couple hours until firm.

Brown Sugar Clusters

1/2c oats
1/4c chopped pecans
1/2c unpacked brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350deg.

Add oats and pecans to a foil/parchment-lined sheet and toast for 8-10min.  Set aside to cool.

Melt brown sugar in a pan over medium heat.  When liquid and bubbing, and starting to get a bit darker, turn off heat and stir in nuts and oats.  You'll need to work quickly here, and spread the mixture onto the foil-lined cookie sheet and let cool.

Break into chunks and use as an ingredient or topping for ice cream/yogurt/oatmeal/you name it!

What's your favorite thing to do with peaches??
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