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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Wild Mushroom and Chard Frittata

I never had frittata growing up...wait, frittatas ? Frittata ? Anyway...
So, just being able to make one is pretty special to me. My husband grew up eating them, so the standard for making a good one is pretty high at our house.
Once a month, we get some wild mushrooms in our CSA basket. I wish I could tell you what kind these are, but I honestly have no idea. They were large, very delicate tasting, and I wanted to use them up right away before they spoiled. I also had some beautiful Swiss chard, potatoes, cippolini onions in the same basket, so this said frittata to me (yes, the food speaks to me, doesn't yours speak to you ?).
I think one of the things I like best about frittata is how easy it is to make. And, we had extra to snack on all afternoon, it's even good cold !
Wild Mushroom and Chard Frittata
6 tablespoons butter
3 cippolini onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 small potatoes, thinly sliced
1 cup wild mushrooms, sliced
1 cup Swiss chard, chopped
6 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 400. In an oven proof skillet, melt butter. Add onions and garlic, and sauté until soft. Add potatoes and continue to sauté until potatoes are almost completely cooked. Stir in chard and reduce heat to a simmer.Spread all the ingredients evenly over the bottom of the pan. Crack eggs into a bowl and add the milk and the spices. Whisk until frothy, then gently pour over the ingredients in the pan. Cook until the edges of the eggs begin to set, then place in the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the middle of the frittata is just barely set. Remove from the oven, and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Balsamic Glazed Chestnut Crab Apples

I almost forgot this one...and how could I ! It's so simple, and perfect for fall.
This is the final dish that Chef Sameh Wadi created from his Farmers Market basket challenge at the Minneapolis Farmers Market one Saturday. It actually inspired me to grill some apples with balsamic vinegar on the post preceding this one.
This is so simple, you won't believe how easily it comes together. But, you better get to it, the chestnut crab season is almost over ! Chestnut crab apples are the small, pinkish variety, but they have a nice sweetness, which pairs well with the balsamic vinegar. You could substitute regular apples as well, but make sure you choose a variety that has some tartness.
Balsamic Glazed Chestnut Crab Apples
6 chestnut crab apples, cored and sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (nice, aged balsamic is the best choice here)
Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium heat. Add sugar, and warm until sugar starts to turn brown, stirring regularly. Toss apples in the browning sugar, making sure not to let them burn. When apples are starting to soften, and are nicely carmelized, add the vinegar, and stir. Continue to cook until the sauce is thickened. Remove from heat, and plate.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Apple Glazed Pork Chop with Grilled Cabbage and Apples

I love apples this time of year. So, I bought some at the Farmer's Market, so I could "multi-purpose" some for eating and some for cooking. I chose the Zestar variety, because they are perfect for both. I had more than enough to snack on, and cook with as well. I usually purchase the "scratch and dent" bag, because I feel a little sorry for them, sitting on the table while people purchase their perfect cousins. And honestly, there isn't anything wrong with them they are just not as pretty. They taste just the same.
I like pairing them with pork, because it really is a perfect flavor combination. In this recipe, I also took advantage of some homemade apple jelly to make a glaze for the chops. It was a delicate, savory dish that was a great way to welcome fall.
The grilled cabbage was something of a revelation for me. I had heard tell of this magical dish, but had never attempted it. I like cabbage, so disguising it or transforming it isn't necessary, but for the non-cabbage lover, this could be a game changer. Grilling really masks some of that pungent flavor. I could eat this all day.
Apple Glazed Pork Chops with Grilled Cabbage and Apples
For the glaze
1/2 cup apple jelly
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon salt
Whisk together and set aside.
For the apples:
3 Zestar apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Toss apples in vinegar. Lay out a double layer of aluminum foil. Lay apples on foil, top with another double layer of foil and seal edges.
For the cabbage:
One small head of cabbage, cut into 8 wedges
1/4 cup of butter
1/2 cup onion, finely diced
Salt and pepper
Butter each side of the cabbage wedges, then generously salt and pepper. Lay out a double layer of aluminum foil, and lay out the cabbage. Sprinkle onions on top, then top with another double layer of foil. Seal edges.
For the chops:
4 six ounce center cut pork loin chops
Salt and pepper
Preheat grill to high.Salt and pepper both sides of pork chops. Place cabbage packet on first. Let heat 10 minutes ahead, then place apples on the top rack of grill. Heat for 10 more minutes, then start the pork chops. Grill for 5 minutes, then turn the chops. Brush generously with the glaze, and grill another 5 minutes. Brush generously again, before removing from grill. Let rest for 5 more minutes before serving, and give it another good brush on both sides with the glaze before plating. Serve the apples on top of the chops.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Yellow Cucumber Curry

It was so inspirational, watching someone cook five dishes in just about an hour. I don't know if I could have done it.
Of all of the interesting things created on Saturday, this has to be the one I would never have put together on my own. I don't think I have ever cooked a cucumber, other than to pickle it, which I doesn't count, really 
When Chef Sameh Wadi first saw these yellow cucumbers, he thought they were mangos, just like the rest of us. But, since mangoes are not native to Minnesota, it had to be something else, since everything selected was Minnesota grown. Apparently, when the cucumbers get to be a bit larger and at the end of the growing season, they will turn yellow, and some of the water will dry out. Which, as it turns out, makes them perfect for curry ! I can't wait to try this at home.
Yellow Cucumber Curry
Vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon caraway
2 small Serrano or jalapeno peppers, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons lemon grass, finely diced
2 small yellow cucumbers, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 orange heirloom tomatoes, diced
Salt, to taste
1 cup water spinach, cut into pieces
In a large sauté pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add spices, and toast until mustard seeds begin to pop. Add peppers and lemon grass, and sauté until they just start to become soft. Stir in cucumbers and tomatoes, and continue to cook over medium heat. Stew these together, until tomatoes are soft and a nice gravy has formed over the entire dish. Stir in half of the spinach and salt, and remove from heat. Place on a serving platter, and top with remaining spinach for garnish.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Ground Cherry, Egg Plant and Sweet Pepper Stir Fry

There are two dishes on this plate, I know. But, I was quickly trying to snap a photo and get out of the way so other people could look and chat with the chef. This recipe refers to the smaller one toward the top of the plate, on the left.
So, you know I love ground cherries, if you have every followed me here. I would never have imagined them in a stir fry, and yet here they are !
This again, was so simple, fresh and really takes advantage of the great flavors of the Minneapolis Farmers Market. As Chef Wadi said on Saturday, all you need is "Good vegetables, a knife, and the willingness to try!"
Ground Cherry, Egg Plant and Sweet Pepper Stir Fry
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 small Thai eggplant, cut into wedges
2 small multi-colored peppers, cut into strips (one purple and one cherry pepper type were used here)
1 cup ground cherries, husks removed
Salt and pepper
In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add peppers, then eggplant and ground cherries and sauté, stirring frequently until everything just begins to soften, but retains its crunch. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and place on serving platter.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Autumn Baba Ganoush

Part two of the recipes inspired by the Farmers Market mystery basket challenge. I have to admit, this was probably not a dish I would have tried with the rustic cooking conditions at the market. But, Chef Wadi was up for the challenge ! 

In the basket, he found two different kinds of eggplant. A small, white variety, and the smaller, green Thai style. He chose to roast the larger one, paired it  with a roasted chile, and make this very simple dip. The real challenge this day was not having access to a food processor. And, he had to make due with the spices they gave him, so traditionally this would have had tahini, but substituting sesame oil was genius ! With his amazing knife skills,  he made this super smooth appetizer look like he had access to a regular, well stocked kitchen. Directions below are for those with the more modern conveniences... 

Autumn Baba Ganoush
1 white eggplant (any variety would work here, however) 
1 green chile 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
Dash of sesame oil 
1 Thai eggplant, thinly sliced
Drizzle of olive oil
On a grill or open flame, grill both the whole eggplant and the green chile until soft. Let cool, and remove skins. Place in food processor along with chipotle powder, salt and sesame oil. Blend until smooth.  Place in serving bowl, and top with olive oil to taste, and Thai eggplant slices, for garnish. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Plums

I was fortunate enough to score a front row seat for the cooking demo at the Minneapolis Farmers Market last Saturday. Chef Sameh Wadi from Saffron and EatWSK was going to take on a mystery basket challenge ! Well, anyone who knows my blog knows I often attempt to perform this particular feat myself (albeit with leftovers from the refrigerator), so this was right up my alley ! 

I was asked to watch, take notes and so I could attempt to share some of these ideas for making the most of the market. I have to say, I was really impressed with the simplicity of his ideas. This salad is a perfect example. 

Tomato season is almost over, but the market has some perfectly ripe, beautiful heirlooms this time of year. Chef Wadi took advantage of the beautiful colors, and then paired them with some ripe plums. Simple cheese from the folks at Shepherd's Way, it looks amazing ! 

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Plums 
2-3 large heirloom tomatoes, sliced and diced in various shapes 
2-3 small, ripe plums, quartered 
4 ounces sheep's milk cheese, crumbled 
2 tablespoons water spinach*, cut chiffonade 
Olive Oil 
Arrange tomatoes and plums on the plate. Top with cheese, then spinach. Season with salt, pepper and olive oil to taste. 

*Can substitute regular fresh spinach, if you can't find this ingredient

Friday, September 6, 2013

Garden Shrimp and Cheesy Grits

I am wondering how many versions of shrimp and grits I have invented over the last several years. It is a flavor combination we really enjoy, probably because we also love polenta, and they are very similar.
I wanted to add more vegetables to the shrimp portion, and some heat, so I created this using what we had in the refrigerator. In some ways, it reminded me of the sausage and peppers I make to top pasta. And, you can never go wrong with goat cheese grits. The spiciness of the shrimp is nicely offset by the super creamy grits. I had to stop Ray from eating the entire thing in one sitting !
Garden Shrimp and Cheesy Grits
For the shrimp:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced (I used a red onion, but white will do as well)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large green pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, finely diced
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
3 roma tomatoes, diced
1 pound fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil. Add onions and garlic, and sauté until translucent. Stir in green pepper and jalapeno, and continue to sauté until peppers just start to become soft. Add tomatoes, peppers and shrimp all at the same time, and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer, stirring frequently, until shrimp are pink and curled. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.

For the grits:
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large can (29 ounces) white hominy, drained
3/4 cup heavy cream
6 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
Using a sauce pan, melt butter and sauté butter and garlic together until garlic is soft. Add hominy and cream, and reduce to simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes, then stir in goat cheese. Let goat cheese soften, then puree until smooth.

Serve with shrimp mixture on top of the grits.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Ground Cherry Margaritas

It has been awhile since I posted a cocktail recipe, I realize now. I think this one is worth the wait !
I splurged on a fairly large purchase of ground cherries, so I would have plenty to experiment with this year. Since the flavor of the ground cherries always reminds me a bit of mango, I wanted to see if I could incorporate them into a nice, blended cocktail for the end of summer.
This is a pretty classic preparation for a margarita, I just substituted the ground cherries where I would use any other fruit. I chose to add a little mango orange juice to try to  increase the "mango" factor, but I think it would have been just fine without it.
Ground Cherry Margaritas

6 ounces good quality gold tequila
2 ounces orange liqueur
4 ounces sweet and sour mix
2 ounces orange mango juice
3/4 cup ground cherries, husked
Fill blender almost to the top with ice. Add all ingredients, and blend on high until smooth. Serve with a little ground cherry hanging on the rim of the glass !