Main Courses

North African Inspired Stuffed Peppers

I’ve never been a huge fan of stuffed peppers. They always seem dry and bland, stuffed full of lean ground beef and rice. The idea, however, of a pepper (which I do love) stuffed with things (which I also love) is too good of a base idea to discount it completely. So I marched down to the local grocery store, stocked up on peppers and ended up with this.

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I decided to use ras-el-hanout, a North African spice blend to liven up the peppers. The ingredients in this blend do change from seller to seller, but often you find warm woodsy flavors here. If you can not find a blend, try mixing some cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and black pepper.

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North African Inspired Stuffed Peppers

Ten large bell peppers

2 pounds ground beef

2 tablespoons ras-el-hanout

2 medium zucchini, washed and grated

1 onion, minced

1/4 cup neutral flavored oil

1/4 cup masa flour

13.5 ounces coconut milk

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

 

Brown the beef until cooked through. Mix in the spices and cook until fragrant. Remove the beef to a large bowl.

Add the onions and the grated zucchini to the pan. Cook until the onions are translucent, and the zucchini has yielded all of its moisture. Remove the vegetables to the bowl with the beef.

Pour the oil into the pan, and swirl to heat. Add the masa to the oil, and stir briskly. When the masa is completely incorporated into the oil, add in the coconut milk and nutritional yeast. Stir until combined. Add this mixture to the beef and stir to combine.

Wash and core the peppers and arrange in a large baking dish. Fill the peppers with the mixture. Add 1/2 cup water to the bottom of the dish to give the peppers a little room to steam. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

 

 

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Main Courses

Turkey Curry

When I was small, curry meant one thing: a small glass jar filled with gold powder labeled “curry.” So, naturally, I thought that this was the only curry. As were the other things found in small glass jars, dried dill and mint leaves and the small dimpled dots of black pepper. Which of course is not true at all, there are as many curries as there are ways to make barbecue sauce. This one starts with  paste made with fragrant cardamom, fresh shallots and chilies, which is poured over turkey in a crock pot – because new year, new dedication to a svelter you, am I right? This would just as well with chicken or pheasant I imagine. Or, this might be the perfect paste to rub on fish on the grill.

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Turkey Curry

4 shallots, skins removed and roughly chopped

1 lemon, juiced and zested

1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated

10 small red chilies, crushed

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

3 teaspoons powdered cumin

2 teaspoons powdered cardamom

1/2 teaspoons powdered cloves

2 teaspoons powdered coriander

2 pounds turkey breast, chopped into bite-sized pieces

1 14 oz can coconut milk

2 onions, diced

2 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup masa flour (optional)

Dump the shallots, the lemon juice and zest, the grated ginger, the chilies, the salt, pepper, cardamom, cumin, cloves and coriander into a blender and blend until you have a uniform paste.

Dump the paste, the turkey, the chicken stock and the onions into a crock pot and cook on low for 4 hours. Add the coconut milk and the masa (if using) and cook for another 30 minutes.

Serve on rice with cashews.

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Main Courses

American-Style Cassoulet

This is a cleaning out the freezer dish. I have a husband who frequently brings home animals: rabbits, pheasants, quail, venison. This is a perfect way to clean out the odd bits of things that have found their way into your home, and a great way to address some of the issues that lean wild meats have (low fat content). Hours of cooking in the liquid tenderize the meat, and make it fork-tender. This does take a while to get going – but be patient – this one is is worth it.

Why “American-Style” this French dish would never involve whiskey or slab bacon. This is Mid-west America’s answer to the classic.

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American-Style Cassoulet

1 lbs dried great northern beans

1 lbs nitrite-free bacon

4 lbs meat (this is largely up to you – you want a mix of fatty meats and lean meats in here. We regularly use about 1 1/2 lbs of game bird like quail and pheasant, 1 1/2 lbs of venison sausage, and 1 lbs of pork. You want a neutral sausage, don’t use a maple sausage.)

1 lbs carrot, peeled and diced

2 large onions, diced

16 cloves garlic, large dice

1 tablespoon tomato paste

14.5 oz can diced tomato

1/3 cup whiskey

1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried sage

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

4 bay leaves

4 cups broth (chicken)

Place the beans in a large bowl and cover with water. You want to use about six cups of water, and for the beans to be well under the surface of the water. Soak at least 8 hours, or overnight. Drain and set aside.

Fry the bacon and set aside. Leave the bacon fat in the pan, and saute the carrots in the bacon fat for five minutes on medium heat. After five minutes, add the onions. Cook the onions for about five minutes for another five minutes, then add the garlic. Let the vegetables sit in the pan for a few minutes, then add the salt, pepper, thyme, sage, and oregano. When the spices are well-incorporated, add in the tomato paste and cook for five minutes. Add the whiskey and cook until the whiskey is evaporated. Finally add the can of tomatoes. Mix this vegetable mixture into the beans. Chop the bacon into small chunks and add to the beans. Mix to combine well.

Brown whatever meat you are using in a pan with a little olive oil. You do not need to cook this all the way through, you just need to establish a crust on the outside. When I use a loose sausage, I form the meat into small meatballs and fry them on all sides.

Arrange your browned meats into three plates or bowls – one of the leaner meat, one of the fattier pork, and one of the sausage.

Arrange one-fourth of the bean mixture in the bottom of a casserole dish. Arrange the leanest meat on top of the beans. Arrange another one-fourth of the bean mixture on top of the meat. Arrange the fattier pork on top of the beans. Arrange the leanest meat on top of the beans. Arrange another one-fourth of the bean mixture on top of the meat. Place the sausage on top of the beans, and pour the remaining beans on top of the sausage. Press the mixture lightly with your hands to even the whole beast that you’ve created. Stick the four bay leaves into the beans. Pour the stock over the beans. You should just barely see the liquid through the beans.

Cook, covered, for two hours at 350.

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Breakfast

Breakfast Bread Pudding

Like everyone else in America, we’re caught up in the Steven Avery documentary on Netflix. We’ve been addicted to this show, huddled under covers, eating this bread pudding. This cozy and comfortable casserole will fortify you against the evils in the world, and for hours of digesting this docu-series.

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Breakfast Bread Pudding

1 stale large loaf gluten free bread, cubed (about ten cups of bread)

1 medium onion, diced

8 oz mushrooms, sliced

2 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 lbs maple breakfast sausage

12 eggs

1 cup whipping cream

5 cups broth (chicken)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 teaspoon dried sage

Handle your bread cubes. If they are not very dry, toast them in the over before moving forward.

Saute the onion in one tablespoon of butter, remove the onion from the pan and saute the mushrooms in the remaining butter. Saute the breakfast sausage until cooked and crumbled.

You’re going to need a large casserole dish for this one. Pour the bread, the meat, the mushrooms and the onions in the dish. Make sure that you have even distribution of the ingredients in the dish.

Whisk the eggs, the cream, broth, salt, pepper and sage together and pour over the bread. Make sure that the cubes are soaked, if any are above the liquid, press into the liquid.

Bake for 1 hour and ten minutes at 350.

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Breakfast, Snacks, Sweets

Gingered Pumpkin Bread

Winter is quick bread season. Life is fast, and if you need a little sweet in little time, quick bread to the rescue. This one is a mash up of some of my winter favorites: gingerbread and pumpkin bread. If you’re like me, you already have these things in your pantry already. Let’s get to mixing.

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Gingered Pumpkin Bread

1 1/2 cups gluten free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour)

1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 rounded teaspoon baking soda

1 cup pumpkin puree

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup molasses

1 stick butter, melted and cooled

1/4 cup water

1 thumb-sized length nub of fresh ginger

1 tablespoon oil, to grease the pan.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and grease a loaf pan with oil.

Sift the flour, the salt, the spices, the baking soda into a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients. Peel the ginger, and grate the fresh ginger into the wet ingredients. Mix well. Create a well in the dry ingredients, and mix in the wet ingredients.

Pour the mixture into the loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour, or until a knife emerges from the loaf cleanly. Let cool before slicing.

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Sweets

Parsnip Pie

If you are me, and you have eaten a few squash-based pies in your life, you begin to wonder what other starch-based pies will be equally delicious, sweet potato aside, as it has already been proved utterly delicious. Just ask the little girl that I help learn to read on Mondays. Yesterday she was so hyped about her Aunt’s sweet potato pie that we just ended up spelling and reading Thanksgiving-themed words. Sometimes you just go with the flow I guess. Back to parsnips. They are delicious roasted toasty in the oven as a side to the Main Course, but take a minute to prepare this pie and brace yourself for a sweet and loamy* pie just right for the end of a holiday dinner.

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Parsnip Pie

2 lbs parsnip

1 shot whiskey (optional)

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon clove

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup evaporated milk

1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk

2 eggs, and two additional egg yolks

1 prepared and blind-baked pie crust

Peel your parsnips, and chop into even-sized pieces. Boil said parsnips for fifteen or so minutes, until they are easily pierced with a fork. Drain the veg and mash viciously with a masher. Small lumps are acceptable, large lumps are not.

Remove two cups of mashed parsnip from your bowl, and empty into a sauce pan. Add the whiskey, nutmeg, clove, ginger and salt. Apply medium heat for about five minutes. You want to see the whiskey escape as steam, and begin to smell the spice mingle with the parsnip mash. Slowly dribble the evaporated milk into your mash, stirring to incorporate. When incorporated, stir in your sweetened condensed milk. Allow to cool slightly.

Dump the eggs into a blender or food processor, and turn the machine on. Add the parsnip mixture, a scan tablespoon at a time until you can feel that the eggs have lost their chill and have begun to warm. Once the eggs have warmed, feel free to add the parsnip mixture quicker.

Pour the mixture into your crust and bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour, or until the pie is firm.

Serve room temperature, with whipped cream.

*Any Narnia fans out there? Love when the hamadryads eat a variety of soils, including loam. This pie isn’t exactly dirt, but the word loamy just fits with certain foods. Go with me here.

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Breakfast, Sweets

Banana-rama Bread

I love banana bread. Not only am I bananas about bananas, but there is something satisfying about taking a fruit that was at the end of the line, and make it into something new and fresh. Don’t you wish you could banana-bread-ize other things in your life? Of course, yes. But you can’t. Just make up for it by eating banana bread.

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Banana-rama Bread

3 medium over-ripe bananas

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

1 egg

3/4 cup cashew milk (you can use any milk here, but do not use a reduced fat milk)

1/4 cup granulated sugar (white or coconut)

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

1 1/4 cup almond meal

1 cup gluten free flour

1 1/4 cup gluten free oats

1/4 cup tapioca flour

Mash the bananas thoroughly. Mix in the vanilla, the coconut oil, the egg and the milk. Gradually mix in the sugars, baking powder, salt and cardamom. Add the flours and oats a little at a time until mixed.

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately an hour.

Let this baby cool completely before cutting, it is a little on the crumbly side straight out of the oven.

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Main Courses

Broccoli Cheese Soup

When it is cold (and it is); When you are hungry (and you are) – I grab for a bowl of soup. I realize that soup can be a little bit of a tough sell to the general public, but broccoli cheese soup is something that everyone likes. Plus, this comes together quick and is full of broccoli!

Broccoli Cheese Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, diced

1 1/2 pounds broccoli

1 small red-skinned potato

6 cups chicken stock

2 cups shredded Gouda cheese

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons pepper

Prepare your broccoli. Chop the florets from the stem, and peel and chop the stem. Arrange your broccoli pieces in a bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Roast the broccoli for five minutes at 425. After 5 minutes, toss the broccoli on the sheet pan and roast another five minutes.

Sweat the onion in the remaining oil. Add the potato and the broccoli and add the stock. Simmer until the broccoli and the potato are fork tender. Blend the soup with a hand blender until smooth. Add the salt and pepper and the cheese. Heat until the cheese is melted.

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Sauces & Other Extras

Lemony Tomato Jam

My mother’s tomatoes outdid themselves this fall, and I was the happy recipient of a large colander of them two weeks ago. I do love tomatoes, but after several dinners of them with cottage cheese, and tomato soup and sandwiches, even I cave and find a way to can them. You probably already have your own go-to tomato sauce and salsa. If you have a bumper crop of juicy garnet-red orbs this fall, make tomato jam. You can spread it on sandwiches, serve it on a cheese plate or top meatloaf with it. This is your year for tomato jam. Just don’t do what I did and splash boiling hot water on your chest, and then have to walk around with an ice pack for a few hours – avoid that part. Do however, make this on a rainy day that begs you to curl into a blanket that your grandmother made and sink into another reading of All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Towes. Have some goat cheese handy, with a little piece of bread – to check that the jam is, you know, just as good as you thought it might be.

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Lemony Tomato Jam

(makes twelve cups of jam)

6 pounds tomatoes, washed and quartered

6 lemons

6 cups sugar

4 tablespoons butter

3 jalapenos, seeded and diced

3 cups apple cider vinegar

3 limes, juiced

1/4 cup molasses

3 thumb-sized pieces of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into coins

2 tablespoons cumin

2 tablespoons cardamom

1 tablespoon cracked black pepper

8 cinnamon sticks

60 juniper berries

30 whole cloves

12 allspice berries

First things first, slice your lemons in half length-wise, then slice into thin half moons. Remove the seeds. Set these aside in a bowl while you move on to the next step.

Arrange all of your whole spices into a neat pile on a large-ish sheet of cheese cloth and tie shut with a long piece of twine.

In a vary large pot, combine the tomatoes, sugar and butter and bring to a gentle simmer. When the fruit has given up the ghost, so to speak, and has relinquished its juices to the sugar, you can crank that baby up higher to a boil. Boil for about eight minutes or so, stirring so as not to burn the bottom. Add the lemons and the jalapenos. You washed your produce, right? Please say you did that. Cook the tomatoes with the lemons for about five minutes.

Now added the vinegar, the juice from those limes, the molasses and the ginger. Add the cheese cloth with the spices, but tie the twine to the edge of the pot so that you can easily retrieve it later. Simmer this until the mixture has reduced by half. This is going to take at least two hours. Stir occasionally.

When reduced by half, ladle into clean jars and process.

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Main Courses, Sides

Cauliflower Gratin

We attach a stigma to certain foods. For example, only a vegetarian would eat tofu. This is such a silly premise. If you haven’t tried tofu, I urge you, please try tofu. Try it in sticks and eat like french fries with a curried ketchup dipping sauce – divine. Here’s another – only a vegan would eat nutritional yeast. Egad. I am not a vegan; I love nutritional yeast. It is not strange. It is delicious. (My office just recently realized that the vegetables that I eat for lunch almost every day are covered in a nutritional yeast sauce.) Don’t hesitate, make this recipe. This makes a great lunch with a little salad, or a side to a main course.

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Cauliflower Gratin

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup masa flour

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

2 cloves garlic, minced

13.5 oz full fat coconut milk

1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1/4 teaspoon mustard powder

1 head cauliflower

Optional – two onions, sliced and caramelized

To make the sauce, pour the oil and the masa into a sauce pan and whisk to combine over low heat. When the masa is fully incorporated into the oil, add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the nutritional yeast and whisk to combine. Now what you have in the pan is a pretty thick paste! Gradually add the stock a dribble at a time, whisking to combine each time. When all of the stock is added, stir in the coconut milk. Add the spices, and salt and pepper to taste.

Clean your cauliflower and remove any leaves that remain on the cauliflower head. Remove as much stem as you can while keeping the head intact. Sliced the cauliflower into slices that are about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. You are going to have some slices that are bigger, and some that are smaller. At the end, you are going to have lots of mismatched and odd pieces. That’s fine. Arrange your cauliflower slices into layers in a small baking dish. A gratin dish is perfect – but if you don’t have that try and find something about as deep as a pie plate, but a little wider.

Pour the nutritional yeast sauce over the cauliflower, and top with the onions if using. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

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