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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Grilled Cauliflower with Garlic Scape Pesto

I finally broke down and bought the grill pan, after some feedback on the blog about my famous "foil packets" for cooking many things. Let me tell you, I am in LOVE! It cooked the cauliflower so much better than the packet, and it was a perfect venue for my my garlic scape pesto.

I made the pesto ahead of time, and took it with us camping, as we were celebrating our 11 month anniversary, and the last of our Three Floyds haul. Paired with a nice, rare ribeye steak, these were perfect. The final beer was Amon Amarth, a nice, lightly smoked porter. This is the best my camping camera could do, but the meal was amazing.

For the pesto:
1 pound garlic scapes
Olive oil and salt for drizzling 
1/2 cup walnuts 
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese 

1/2 lemon. freshly juiced

1/2 cup olive oil
Drizzle the scapes with olive oil and salt generously. Heat grill to high, and place scapes on the hot grill. Grill until scapes get a light char on outer leaves. Remove from the scapes from the grill and let them cool. Cut into one inch pieces. Place all remaining ingredients into a food processor or blender, and process until somewhat chunky, but mostly smooth.

For the cauliflower:
1 head cauliflower, cut into bite size pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
Grated parmesan cheese
Toss cauliflower in olive oil. Heat grill to high, and place grill pan on grill to preheat. Put cauliflower in pan, and stir frequently until lightly charred and tender. Remove from grill and place in a bowl. Stir in the pesto, and serve with extra parmesan cheese.

The new pan in action:

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Blackberry Black Mead Sorbet Floats

We are lucky to have a fairly substantial supply of homemade wines and meads stacked up at our house. So, when I wanted to make a wine infused sorbet with some of the berries from my Driscolls haul, I had quite a selection to choose from. I finally settled on black mead, which is technically a black currant melomel, a fruited honey wine. If you don't make your own, you can find these fairly easily at most wine shops these days, as meads have become more popular of late.

A word of warning about making sorbet with wine: it will take longer to process in your ice cream maker. In this case, it took me almost an hour to get this to the correct consistency, but it is worth the wait. It made a large batch, so I might cut back on the wine next time...or not!

I decided to serve this as a float because the sorbet is quite sweet, and the sparkling lemonade accented the flavor of the blackberries perfectly.

Blackberry Black Mead Sorbet
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup water
2 1/2 cups black mead (you can use any semi sweet red wine here, as a substitution)
1 teaspoon almond extract
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1 cup (2 six ounce containers) fresh Driscoll's blackberries
Sparkling lemonade
In a saucepan, combine sugar, honey and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until mixture turns golden, then add wine, extract, zest and lime juice. Stir until thoroughly combined, and add blackberries. Continue to simmer for 15 minutes, and mash the berries with the back of a spoon. Remove from heat, and press the mixture through a sieve to get as much juice out as possible. Refrigerate until chilled, then process in an ice cream maker according to manufacturers instructions. Place sorbet in freezer until set. Serve with sparkling lemonade, or your favorite citrus soda.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Grilled Pizza with Bacon Jam and Eggs

I recently read a review of a new food truck that was serving wood fired pizza, and one of theirs had smoked salmon and bacon jam. I LOVE bacon jam, and I happen to have some on hand. After making it, I think I may always have some on hand.

Of course, I had to try one at home. I didn't have smoked salmon, but I love eggs on my pizza, and bacon and eggs are a natural combination, right? It was fabulous! I added onions and peppers, because I like those on my pizza as well. This was really just breakfast for dinner, who doesn't like that?
Photo: Grilled pizza with bacon jam and eggs
Grilled Pizza with Bacon Jam and Eggs 
**you can find the recipe for bacon jam on my March 11th blog
For the crust (makes enough for 2 pizzas):
1/2 teaspoon yeast
3/4 cup luke warm water
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Stir yeast into water, and let sit for 5 minutes. Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture, and pour in the water and yeast. Use your hands to combine into a ball. Move to a floured surface and gently knead for 5 minutes. Separate into 2 pieces and form into 2 balls. Flatten out, and roll into crust. I usually roll onto parchment paper if I am baking in the oven, or foil if I am baking on the grill.

For the toppings:
1/2 cup bacon jam
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 small green pepper, diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 eggs
Salt and pepper
Spread bacon jam across the entire crust. top with green pepper, onion, then cheese. Preheat grill or oven to highest possible heat (500-550). I usually put the pizza on the grill first, then gently place the eggs on the pizza. Bake 8-10 minutes, just until eggs are set. Salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Basil Raspberry Crisp

It is raspberry season in Minnesota, and the good folks at Driscoll's sent me a coupon, and asked me if I would be interested in using some of their berries in a recipe. Heck yeah! 
As luck would have it, the raspberries were also on sale at the store, so I bought a TON! Then, to decide what to make. I had several ideas, so I ran them by my husband, Ray. Of course, he chose crisp, because he loves it. I was glad, because it's simple, delicious, and I had everything on hand to make it.
I wanted this to be really special, since I had the chance to really showcase these beautiful berries. I have a lot of fresh herbs in the garden, so basil seemed like a different spin on this. The smell of this coming out of the oven was heavenly. You have to try it ! 
Basil Raspberry Crisp 
3 cups (3 six ounce containers) fresh raspberries 
2 tablespoons corn starch 
2/3 cup sugar 
6 large fresh basil leaves, minced
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar 
3/4 cup rolled oats 
1/2 cup all purpose flour 
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
1/8 teaspoon cloves 
1/8 teaspoon allspice 
In a large bowl, mix together raspberries, cornstarch, and sugar. Gently fold in basil. Divide equally into 4 buttered individual casseroles, or place in a buttered 8x8 baking dish. In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Spread across top of berry mixture. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes until bubbly, and topping is golden brown. Top with vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Smoked Chicken Posole

I was smart (for once!) and froze the leftover smoked meat we had from our last big smoker event. But that doesn't mean the smoked meats don't call my name from the freezer, just begging to be used in a recipe.

I realize it isn't really soup weather, but I had the idea that this leftover smoked chicken would work really well in posole. And WOW! does it ever. Just replacing this for the pork in my usual recipe made a good soup into a great one. Between dinner last night and lunch today, we nearly finished the entire pot!

The real key to posole is cooking it long enough so the taste of the hominy is infused into the broth. The whole dish takes on an "enchilada" flavor that I really love, and this is not overly spicy, unless you want to make it that way. We like it just mildly spiced.

Smoked Chicken Posole 
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic. minced
2 poblano peppers, seeded and diced
1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced (more if you want more heat)
1 pound smoked chicken, shredded
2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
4 cups chicken stock
1 large can white hominy, undrained
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
For garnish:
Sliced radishes
Shredded cheddar cheese
Fresh lime wedges

In a large dutch oven, heat olive oil. Add onions and garlic and saute until translucent. Add poblano and jalapeno peppers, and saute until tender. Add chicken, and sprinkle with ancho chile powder. Continue to stir until chicken and peppers are well coated with the chile powder. Add remaining ingredients (except for garnishes), and simmer over low heat 30-40 minutes until you can taste the hominy throughout the broth. Serve with any garnishes you like.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Enchilada Pasta

Once every couple of weeks I am forced to do a purge on the refrigerator, to use up odds and ends that have accumulated, because I hate wasting anything. We jokingly refer to these as the "Chopped Refrigerator Challenge". This week was pretty simple: green enchilada sauce, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, corn on the cob and roasted red peppers needed to be used up. I have been craving macaroni and cheese, so the choice was quite simple. All I needed to add was a can of black beans, some pasta and dinner was served !

Enchilada Pasta 
3 cups uncooked pasta (I used ziti)
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup milk
4 ounces cream cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, diced
1 1/2 cups green enchilada sauce
1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup roasted corn kernels (or canned corn will do as well)
Crushed tortilla chips, for topping

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta, and cook until al dente. Rinse and set aside. In the same pot, melt butter. Add milk, cream cheese, cheese, and enchilada sauce and stir until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. Stir pasta back into pan, and add beans and corn. Simmer over low heat until all ingredients are heated through. Serve topped with crushed tortilla chips.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Huevos Rancheros with Breakfast Hash

We are not the kind of folks who generally eat hot dogs and hamburgers while camping. I usually try to come up with something different for us to eat. The challenge, of course, is the limited cooking facilities available, since we tent RV's here ! 

The night before this glorious breakfast, we had smoked hot links with blueberry barbeque sauce, grilled potatoes and bacon cream cheese jalapeno poppers. I "recycled" the leftovers into a southwestern style hash, and served it with two sunny side up eggs, green enchilada sauce. Ray  now wants this every time we go camping now! 

Huevos Rancheros with Breakfast Hash 
3 baked potatoes, diced into 1 inch pieces 
1 small red pepper, diced 
1 small onion, diced 
3 spicy hot links, cooked and chopped into pieces 
3 leftover jalapeno poppers, sliced (or three jalapenos, diced)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil 
2 tablespoons butter
4 eggs 
Green enchilada sauce 
Warm tortillas 

Place large skillet on stove, and heat oil. Add potatoes, red pepper and onion, and cook until potatoes start to brown. Add sausage and jalapenos. Continue to cook until potatoes are crispy, 10-12 minutes. In a separate pan, melt butter. Gently fry eggs sunny side up to your desired doneness. Serve eggs over potatoes, and top with green enchilada sauce. You may also want to scoop into tortillas to eat.  

Friday, July 13, 2012

Chicken and Chard

With the weather so hot the last couple of weeks, we became a bit neglectful with our garden. When I finally went out to weed and prune, my swiss chard was out of control !

I kind of grow the Swiss chard out of habit, it was something we always ate growing up. As a green, it has more staying power in the garden than spinach, which tends to bolt once the warm temperatures hit. And that's probably why we had it back in the day, so we could eat greens all the way through the summer. 
The problem with the chard, is that the stems are a little more stealthy than spinach, as are the leaves, so they don't always do well with a simple saute, unless you pick them when they are very young. I hate to waste anything, so I came up with a preparation that I could use the stems to flavor the leaves after I boiled them. It was really great!

Chicken and Chard
For the chard:
Large bag of fresh red Swiss chard (I filled my dutch oven to overflowing)
1/4 cup butter 
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 
Salt and pepper 
Start a large pot of water boiling. Remove stems and large ribs from the chard. Cut into one inch pieces. In a small saute pan, melt butter, and saute stems until soft. Add balsamic vinegar and let rest until leaves are finished cooking. When water comes to a boil add leaves and boil until tender, 8-10 minutes. Return to pot, and stir in stems. 

For the chicken: 
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning 
1 teaspoon lemon pepper 
1/2 teaspoon smoked salt 
Rub chicken breasts with seasons, grill on high 5-6 minutes on each side, until thoroughly cooked. Let rest 3-4 minutes then serve with chard. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Poor Man's Grilled Peach Cobbler

This is an update of a dish my grandma used to make about this time every summer. The Ace Hardware down the street would start advertising Colorado peaches coming into town, and people would flock to the store to get on a list and reserve a  "lug". When they came  in, we ate peaches every which way we could, since they were not native to South Dakota. They were always a huge treat. 

This was a quick dessert she created, I imagine when they didn't have a lot of time or money. Her version was just a sliced fresh peach, fresh cream, crush graham crackers and cinnamon. I grilled the peach with a little brown sugar, and added some vanilla bean ice cream. I think it looks really elegant, so I feel a little guilty calling it "poor man's" anything, but that's grandma's name for it ! 

Poor Man's Grilled Peach Cobbler
2 fresh peaches, cut in half
4 tablespoons dark brown sugar
4 scoops vanilla bean ice cream
2 graham crackers, crushed
Cinnamon, for garnish
Preheat grill to approximately 400. Place peach halves on grill cut side down, and grill for 3-4 minutes, until you get a good grill mark on the cut side. Turn over, and sprinkle a tablespoon of brown sugar on the top of each half. Close grill cover, and grill another 3-4 minutes until brown sugar is melted. Remove peaches from grill. Place each one in an individual serving dish. Top with a scoop of ice cream, crushed graham crachers, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Grilled Scape Pesto and Potatoes

There is something about the garlic scapes that captivates me every time I see them. They have this fun, Dr. Seuss quality that makes me want to use them in something!

I have seen recipes where the scapes were made into pesto, and previously I have enjoyed them grilled. I decided to combine the two ideas, and made this grilled pesto. Ray started eating out of the bowl with a spoon after it was done! I stirred it into some grilled potatoes, it was both fresh, and "homey" tasting at the same time. 

Grilled Scape Pesto and Potatoes 
For the pesto: 
1 pound garlic scapes
Olive oil and salt for drizzling 
1/2 cup walnuts 
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese 
1/2 lemon. freshly juiced
1/2 cup olive oil
Drizzle the scapes with olive oil and salt generously. Heat grill to high, and place scapes on the hot grill. Grill until scapes get a light char on outer leaves. Remove from the scapes from the grill and let them cool. Cut into one inch pieces. Place all remaining ingredients into a food processor or blender, and process until somewhat chunky, but mostly smooth. 

For the potatoes, dice 3-4 potatoes, skin on. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and toss. Make a packet of foil, and place potatoes in the packet. Grill on high heat for 30 minutes, turning frequently. Remove from heat, open packet, and toss with pesto.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Smoked Duck with Blueberry Sauce

We bought a new smoker ! This fellow is really big ! And I wanted to load it up with lots of meat for the Fourth of July. In general, the smoker just works better when it is packed full of meat, and there isn't any sense in spending the entire day tending the fire for one small chicken, now, is there ? 

We had a duck in the freezer, and several hunting friends of mine had bragged about how great smoked duck tastes, so I had to try. Usually when I smoke any kind of meat I brine it ahead of time, to help hold the moisture in over the long cook time. I thought with the fat duck already has, it would be fine just marinated. I somehow had Peking style smoked duck in my head when I created this. It was quite good ! 

Smoked Duck with Blueberry Sauce 

For the marinade: 
4 ounces pineapple juice 
2 tablespoons soy sauce 
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar 
1/4 cup honey 
1 tablespoon sriracha 
4 cloves garlic, chopped 
3 tablespoons minced ginger
1 duck (4-6 pounds)
Mix the marinade ingredients together. Rinse duck thoroughly, and place in a gallon bag. Pour marinade over duck, seal bag and place in refrigerator overnight. 

For the rub: 
Photo: Duck ready for the smoker...
1/4 cup white sugar 
1 tablespoon garam masala 
1 tablespoon cumin 
1 tablespoon garlic powder 
1 tablespoon salt 
When the smoker is ready, remove the duck from the marinade and pat dry with a paper towel. Rub generously with the rub mixture, and place in the smoker. Smoke 3-4 hours, until the internal temperature is 145 degrees. Remove and let rest 15 minutes before serving. 

For the sauce: 
2 pints fresh blueberries 
1/2 cup rhubarb ketchup (plain ketchup will also work)
1/2 cup honey 
1 small onion, diced 
3 cloves garlic, minced 
2 tablespoons ginger, grated
2 jalapenos, seeded and diced finely 
1 tablespoon Coleman's dried mustard powder 
3 tablespoons lime juice 
Place all ingredients in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until blueberries are tender, about 1 hour. Remove from heat, and let cool to room temperature before serving. You may also want to run an immersion blender through it if you would like it smoother. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Smoked Pork Pizza with Eggs

I am still trying to use up the massive amount of meat we smoked on the Fourth of July! And pizza on the grill has become a new favorite for us this summer. I thought it would be easy to use some up on a grilled pizza. 

Many restaurants have barbeque chicken and bacon pizzas, so I didn't think this one would be much of a stretch. We don't like the traditional style barbeque sauces, so we had a Carolina style sauce we had served with the pork when we smoked it. It was a really unique addition to this pizza. And, of course, I had to add eggs, another new favorite of mine. This was almost like breakfast, the pork tasting like a mild bacon. 

Smoked Pork Pizza with Eggs
Pizza crust
2 tablespoons barbeque sauce (whatever kind you prefer)
1 cup smoked pork, chopped 
1/4 cup onion, finely diced 
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese 
2 eggs 
Fresh chervil, for garnish 
Freshly ground pepper 

Preheat grill to highest heat (500 degrees or more).  Place a pizza stone on the grill if you have one. Roll out pizza crust on foil. Spread barbeque sauce on crust, then top with pork and onions. Cover with cheese. Place pizza on the preheated stone, and gently place the eggs on the pizza. Cook 8-10 minutes until the pizza is cooked and the eggs are set, but yolks are still soft. Remove from grill, and top with chervil and pepper. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Drunken Blueberry Crisp

Blueberry season is nearly here, and I couldn't be more excited! My mother will tell you when I was a child the only reason I wanted blueberries was because they were purple (my favorite color). That is only partially true. I love them, in any way, shape or form. 

One of my favorite preparations has always been blueberry crisp, because I like the taste of the buttery, crispy topping with the soft, ripe warm blueberries underneath. I was inspired to change my recipe a bit by a jam we tasted from Dorothy Stainbrook, of HeathGlen Organic Farms. She has a blueberry jam with merlot and lavender, so I thought I could do the same to my crisp. It is heavenly! A scoop or two of homemade vanilla bean ice cream, and it was a perfect ending to our Fourth of July smoker!

I used some of our homemade blueberry mead in this recipe, but you could really use any red wine that is toward the sweet side. 

Drunken Blueberry Crisp
2 pints fresh blueberries, rinsed and any stems removed (about 4 cups)
1 1/2 to 2 cups sweet red wine (enough to cover the berries)
1 cup sugar 
1/4 cup corn starch 
1/2 cup butter 
1 1/2 cup rolled oats 
1 cup flour 
1 cup brown sugar 
1 teaspoon cinnamon 

Place blueberries in a large bowl and cover with merlot. Refrigerate overnight. Remove from refrigerator, then add sugar and corn starch and mix together well. Preheat oven to 375. Spray a deep, square pan with non-stick spray, and pour in blueberry mixture. Mix together remaining ingredients, and bake for 35-45 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. Let cool 15 minutes and serve warm with ice cream. 

Creamy Cucumber Tomato Salad

With all this hot weather, cool, refreshing salads are a staple for us for meals. This one always comes to mind this time of year, because it was my grandma's standby all summer long. We always had a big garden,  so this was a daily addition to her menu starting in late July.

Our tomatoes and cucumbers are not quite ready to be picked yet, but you can get them at the Farmer's Market, fresh and local already this year. It is simple, and quick to prepare.

Creamy Cucumber Tomato Salad 

4 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 English cucumber, peeled and diced
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Mix all the ingredients together, and chill for 1 hour before serving.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Blue Cheese Juicy Lucy with Grilled Jalapeno Poppers

I am thinking with all this warm weather that this will be "Grill Week" at the Zara house. And since we live in the home of the "Juicy Lucy", it was time to have one on the grill ! 

There has been a long standing rivalry in South Minneapolis over which restaurant has the best juicy lucy, and I have to say my favorite is the 5-8 Club, mostly because they have a selection of cheeses. My personal favorite of the "lucy's" is the blue cheese, so I have recreated my own version here. 

I had blue cheese crumbles in the refrigerator, but they were a bit too "crumbly" for my filling, so I added a little cream cheese, and they were perfect. Pretzel buns (thank you, Trader Joe's), homemade ketchup and mustard, and a little bacon jam, and we were all set ! 

The poppers couldn't be simpler, either. We have a small contraption called the "Chile Grill" that has small holes for standing the jalapenos upright on the grill. You will see these often wrapped in bacon, but I like mine with the bacon and cream cheese stuffed inside. 

Blue Cheese Juicy Lucy with Grilled Jalapeno Poppers 

For the burger:
1 1/2  pounds lean ground beef (I like 85/15)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon steak seasoning (I used Penzey's Chicago seasoning)
4 ounces blue cheese crumbles
2 tablespoons cream cheese
Pretzel buns
Bacon jam (optional, but excellent on burgers!)
Mix together beef, Worcestershire sauce and steak seasoning. Split into 4 equal portions, then split those each equally and make into two patties. Mix together blue cheese crumbles and cream cheese. Place a heaping tablespoon of the blue cheese mixture in the middle of one of the patties, and top with the second. Seal all the edges and gently form the burger around the cheese. Continue with remaining patties until you have all 4 completed. Grill on high heat 4-5 minutes per side. Serve with buttered, grilled buns and condiments.

For the poppers:
6 jalapenos, cored and seeded
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 strips bacon, fried and crumbled
Mix the cream cheese and bacon together, and stuff the jalapenos. Put a toothpick through each one to prevent them from sliding through the grill. Place in chile grill and grill over medium high heat for 10 minutes, or just until cheese starts to bubble out the top. Let cool for 2-3 minutes before serving.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Creamy Goat Cheese Grits

Photo: Cheesy goat cheese grits!

Am I the only person that goes out to eat, tastes a fabulous dish, then tries to make it at home ? I hope that's not considered stealing a recipe, but I loved the cheesy grits we had at Butcher and the Boar a couple weeks ago so much that I have been obsessing about making them at home. 

The one thing I was sure was that they had goat cheese in them. I wasn't sure how he got the lovely creamy texture, or how to find grits other than instant. As it turns out, this was quite a challenge. I ended up using canned hominy, and I might try this again with white masa to get an even better texture, but I think I am close on the flavor. We loved this dish very much, so this is my homage to Butcher and the Boar. 

Creamy Goat Cheese Grits
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 large can white hominy, drained (29 ounces)
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup heavy cream
5 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Fresh chives for garnish

In a large saucepan, melt butter. Saute garlic until soft. Add hominy and half and half, and simmer until warmed through, about 10 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth, then add cream and goat cheese and blend in. Stir in salt and pepper, and garnish with chives.