savoring summer

Summer always means fresh pesto sauce. And fresh pesto is totally easy to make.

All it is is olive oil, huge bunches of fresh basil, salt to taste, fresh garlic cloves, a pinch of thyme, a sweet onion, a dash or two of balsamic vinegar,and a red bell pepper if you have one laying around.

Today I probably used about a cup and a half of olive oil. I easily used four cups of fresh basil because my plants need it to be pruned.

You blend it all together in a food processor or blender and you let it sit in the refrigerator to chill so the flavors meld. When you go to heat it up with pasta you can add pine nuts and grated fresh Parmesan cheese. I also like to sauté chicken tenders and add that to a pesto and pasta dish.

People also use pesto sauce in vegetable soups like tomato in particular. Some people also like to add anchovies and sun-dried tomatoes, but I don't really care for that taste combination with pesto sauces .

Often homemade pesto will not be as thick and gummy as store-bought pesto sauces but those sauces have thickeners and / or preservatives in them. I love homemade pesto sauce, store-bought not so much.

I will also note that I saw the "West Chester Food Co-Op" is advertising a Gazpacho Adaluz (I put them in air quotes because they aren't a real bricks and mortar store they are just a booth I don't understand at the West Chester Growers Market. ) So I thought I would remind my dear readers that I shared such a recipe with you five years ago. It is called Kendall's Gazpacho as it is named after my late mother in law who bought the recipe back from Spain many decades ago.

Click here for the recipe to Kendall's Gazpacho. and the photo you see below is a batch of the gazpacho I made recently. The color of the soup is determined by the color of your vegetables. So when I use green bell pepper it stays green. When I use an orange or red bell pepper, the soup takes a red or orange hue. This is different from other gazpachos and doesn't actually have as many tomatoes as you would put in one of those.

Anyway I hope you make yourselves a batch of pesto and/or gazpacho before the end of the summer. The flavors of fresh vegetables this time of year can't be beat!

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen.

lost and found


I was rearranging my cookbooks and going through some older ones that were my mother’s at one point, and when I open one cookbook it was like opening Pandora’s box. Old photos and recipes. One recipe was hand typed by someone for my mother, and I remember her making this cake. I think this was a childhood friend’s  mother’s carrot cake recipe.

The other recipes were torn out of magazines and print publications. 

These are all from the late 1960s and early 1970s. I thought it would be fun to share.


blueberry fig preserves 

I was given the gift of figs off of a friend’s fig tree yesterday, so even though I wasn’t sure I was going to be putting anything up this fall, this morning I made blueberry fig preserves.

2 teaspoons baking soda 

8 cups fresh figs stems removed or 2 pounds of fresh figs 

2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

1 1/2 cups fresh apple cider

1/2 cup water

1 cup turbinado sugar

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

5 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract – pure only

1 lemon thinly sliced into rounds seeds removed

Juice of one lemon

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

Half teaspoon ground cloves

Half teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

Healthy pinch of salt

Three cinnamon sticks

First dissolve the baking soda in about 2 quarts of cool water and immerse the figs in the treated water either in one half of your kitchen sink if you have a double sink or in a really large bowl. Gently stir to wash the figs using your hand in the water.

Drain the figs and remove all stems and cut in half and place in a bowl.

In a big stewpot or jam pot (depending on what you have) slowly dissolve the sugar, maple syrup, butter, vanilla extract, water, apple cider, spices and a pinch of salt.

Now that you have created a sort of syrup add your fruit – figs, blueberries, lemon slices.

Toss in the cinnamon sticks. Add the lemon juice. 

Bring up to a boil over medium heat and stir a lot because the stuff will stick to the pan. Reduce heat to a simmer and stir gently occasionally and cook down until the figs are golden brown and the blueberries are so deep they almost appear a purple black.

As the figs are reaching the right color, I use an immersion blender to break everything up while continuing to cook down. I have friends who don’t do this at all and the reason I do it is because I like to serve fig preserves with cheese when company comes over and when there are big chunks of fig it makes it clumsy.

Truthfully this all cooked a couple of hours. 


While your jam is cooking sterilize your jars and lids in your canning pot. I actually broke down last year and bought a real big canning pot – black granite ware.

When your jam is ready to jar ladle it into your jars, leaving about a quarter inch at the top of room. Put your lids and rings on completely seal super tight and put them in your boiling hot water bath for 10 to 15 minutes. I will note that I looked at several recipes when developing my own recipe and people were processing anywhere from six minutes to 15 minutes in the hot water bath. I would say I processed mine about 10 minutes maybe a little less.

Pull your jars out and place on a cloth covered or wooden surface several inches apart until they are cool. Once the jars are completely cool press in the center to make sure they are sealed. Store in a cool dark area and wait at least two days before opening. I personally like to let my preserves said a couple of weeks before I try them.

Another important note is this is a recipe without using pectin. So it will probably be more loose than a jam made with pectin. You can make it both ways. I have always made fig preserves or fig jam without pectin. This is also the first time I’ve actually ever written down or looked at recipes for the jam – I’ve just always winged it and it’s turned out fine

rainy day chili

chili

One of the ladies in my cooking group asked for my rainy day chili recipe, so here it is:

 

Brown 1 lb ground pork and 1 lb ground beef with 6 cloves of garlic diced and 1 sweet onion and 1 red onion chopped.   Salt to taste.

 

To that add 4 grated carrots (medium carrots), and 1 1/2 cups grated raw potatoes (red bliss or Yukon gold).

 

Add one package frozen corn (no sauce kind – just the corn).

 

If I have green or red bell pepper I will chop up one of those too.

 

Add 3 Tablespoons Chili Powder (I use hot), 1 teaspoon Chipotle Chili Powder, 1 teaspoon Smoked Hot Paprika, 1 teaspoon bittersweet paprika. A few dashes of cumin.

 

Then add ¼ cup chopped fresh Cilantro and 1 Tablespoon dried oregano

 

Add one 40.5 ounce can of dark red kidney beans (or white cannellini beans which my grocery store has been out of)

 

Add one 28 ounce can of crush red tomatoes.

 

Add one 28 ounce can of tomato puree.

 

Add a few dashes of chipotle Tabasco sauce or a good Mexican hot sauce.

 

Bring to a slow boil over medium low heat and reduce to low/ simmer and cook the chili for a few hours until cooked down a bit (makes it thicker).

 

Simmer with a splatter screen on unless you want your kitchen to wear chili.

 

Adjust for seasoning here and there.  Chili cooked a day ahead and reheated is even better because spices have a chance to settle in.

 

when life gives you LOTS of apples…make apple cake

IMG_4361

Fall means a bounty of fresh apples. Fall also means apple cake. So I made one today. I did not give it enough minutes to cool, so I did have to put the cake back together ever so slightly.  It happens. Still looks delicious and will taste even better.

Here is how I made it:

 

    • 6 cups peeled thinly sliced apples (today I used giant Golden delicious from IMG_4357a friend’s tree)
    • ¾ cup turbinado or white sugar
    • 4 teaspoons cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
    • 1 teaspoon cardamom
    • 3 cups flour
    • 1 hearty tablespoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 4 large eggs
    • 1 1/2 cup light brown sugarIMG_4356
    • 1 cup oil
    • 1/2 cup orange juice
    • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
    • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
    • 1 cup pecan pieces
    • 2/3 cup seedless black raisins
    • Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

How to mix up and bake:

  1. Mix apple slices with cinnamon and ¾ cup turbinado or white sugar and 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar in a bowl and put to side.
  2. Combine dry ingredients including nutmeg and cardamom in a medium bowl; set aside.
  3. Beat eggs with 1 1/2 light brown sugar.
  4. Alternately add the dry ingredients and the oil to the wet ingredients, then add theIMG_4358 orange juice and lastly the vanilla and beat for 1 minute. (batter will be rather thick)
  5. Pour 1/3rd of the batter into a greased and floured tube or Bundt pan
  6. Layer  1/3rd of the apple slices, raisins, and nuts over the batter.
  7. Repeat with layer of batter, then apples, raisins, and nuts, then batter, then final layer of apples, raisins, and nuts.
  8. Drizzle the cake with a bit of the remaining cinnamon-sugar goop from the apple bowl.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and about 20 minutes or until tester comes out  clean.
  10. Allow cake to cool in pan on wire rack for 25 – 35 minutes, then turn cake out onto wire rack to cool completely.
  11. Dust top with confectioner’s sugar

IMG_4362

 

summer dinner

  It’s been a brutally hot week and I’m having people for dinner. We will start with Mutabbal which is basically Egyptian baba ghanouj and pita.

Next to accompany a marinated roast we will be grilling we will also be grilling marinated veggie shish kebabs, lentil salad, and for dessert a simple summer trifle.

Guests may have sparkling water, ice tea, a lovely rosé wine or glass of Sancerre.

vegetables marinating for veggie shish kebab. Marinade marinade made with an Arabian spice blend known as Baharat

 

Lentil salad made witjh red and regular lentils, for grated carrots, one purple onion, one small purple bell pepper, halved grape tomatoes, Italian flat leaf parsley and fresh basil diced, a simple vinaigrette made with lemon juice lemons asked, garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil, cumin

 

Mutabbal- two cans drained canned chickpeas, tahini paste, olive oil, one roasted white egg plant and one roasted red pepper, half an onion, three cloves of garlic, a few dashes of Tabasco, Stonington sea salt, a little fresh parsley, juice of one large lemon and zest as well, paprika, cumin, couple dashes of Ras el Hanout. Purée and refrigerate and serve with pita.

Summer trifle made with rasberries, blueberries, lady fingers, lemon and coconut puddings

oh my easter pies!

Savory Easter Pie

Savory Easter Pie

I was inspired by my friend Lisa DePaulo’s mom’s Easter Pizza recipe, but didn’t have everything on hand to make that recipe.  So I took my recent Ricotta Pie recipe and adapted it…to two pies in normal, not deep dish pie plates.

I ended up with a a pair of pies…and here is how I did it:

Preheat oven to 350°

Take ricotta pie recipe  and assemble the filling but ONLY add   2 tablespoons of sugar. Add the vanilla and add the lemon zest of one fresh lemon. Do not add the orange zest.

Take two piecrusts and line two regular pie plates. Put in refrigerator to keep dough chilled.

Split your ricotta mixture in half into two large bowls.

In one bowl which will be your sweet pie add the sweet ingredients (1/2 of the sugar or 1/2 a cup, lemon zest, candied citron/lemon/orange peel, cinnamon, white raisins if you want and even 1/3 cup UNSWEETENED coconut), and there you have the mixture for the sweet Easter or ricotta pie.

In the second bowl (for the savory Easter pie)  beat in one more egg, add half a cup of Parmesan and Romano cheese mixture, and a about 4 to 5 ounces of grated cheddar. I prefer a sharp and white cheddar very dry. Add a little salt and pepper to taste, and a little dill and thyme and tarragon.

In a small sauté pan sauté with 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter melted add  2/3 cup of diced ham, one onion, and eight or nine baby bella mushrooms. Sauté down and drain of any liquid. Set aside to cool slightly. Some dill, oregano, thyme, tarragon to taste. I do not add any extra salt because of the salt in the ham.

Put the meat mixture into the bottom of one of your pie crusts in the pie plates and pour the savory ricotta cheese mixture over.

Pour  your sweet ricotta pie mixture into your other prepared pie crust and plate and you can bake them together in the oven for about an hour – you’re going to have to start checking at about 55 minutes- this is my first time through doing it this way so you guys are learning with me! I took about 1 hour and 10 minutes baking both – the savory dinner pie in the end was ready before the dessert pie.

Both pies turned out ok and are honestly very tasty and disappearing fast, although I probably should have taken both pies out of the oven at the 1 hour mark.

Buona Pasqua!

Sweet Easter Pie

Sweet Easter Pie