Archive for ◊ August, 2010 ◊

31 Aug 2010 Green Rice (Arroz Verde)

I first posted this recipe on my Facebook “Polly, Julie and Julia” page in 2009.  Since then I have had a lot of feedback:  we have a winner! Green Rice has become a welcome addition to  many dinner plates.  Finally, a new rice side-dish; one that both looks good on the plate and is deliciously, delicately flavored. Odd, that you cook the rice in pureed spinach, cilantro and milk, but it works!  Don’t let the name-or the method-scare you off.  BTW,  the rice is not green-green, it’s more herby-green.  It’s pretty!

I found this recipe in “The Best 150 American Recipes“, by Fran McCullough and Molly Stevens, the book that spurred this food blogging urge.  The authors of the book  used some interesting turns of phrase to describe this rice dish (and other rice dishes of Mexico) the book said, “…like unexpected treasures at a rummage sale”.  This recipe certainly is an unexpected treasure…I don’t know about the rummage sale part though.

One note of caution, my rice, although very tasty, was a bit crunchy. Next time I will add a bit more liquid (2T – 1/4 cup). Check your rice about halfway through, to see if yours needs a bit more liquid, too. Other than that, you can probably fit this into your dinner plans in the next day or two. It will make the whole meal shine a bit more brightly “(…like an unexpected treasure at a rummage sale”!).

Green Rice

1 cup tightly packed spinach leaves (about 1.5 oz)
1/2 cup cilantro leaves (about .5 oz)
1 1/4 cup chicken broth (homemade is best)
1 1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. salt
3 T. butter
1 T. olive oil
1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
1/4 cup minced onion
1 minced garlic clove

Place spinach, cilantro and broth in a blender and puree. Add milk and salt to spinach mixture and blend until combined. Set aside. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat butter and olive oil. When butter has melted, add rice. Saute rice, stirring frequently, until rice just begins to brown, 3-4 minutes. Add onion and saute for 1 minute more, then add in garlic and stir. To rice in pan pour mixture from blender, turn heat up, and bring to boil. Cover pan, reduce heat, and cook for 25 minutes. (You might want to check, about halfway through, to see if rice needs a bit more liquid. If it does, add 2 – 4 T of additional warm broth, water, or milk.) After 25 minutes, turn off heat, stir rice, re-cover pan and let sit for another 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Recipe states the rice is best just after it’s made but can be made up to 2 days ahead and reheated in the microwave.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  Hope it was worth your while!

30 Aug 2010 Peach Crumble Bars

Peaches are really good this year, which is good news after a few disappointing crops the last few years.  I’ve enjoyed some delicious, chin dripping peaches this summer.  Topping that, I’ve also had success with two new recipes using fresh peaches.  Here’s the first.  Move over brownies.  Move over lemon bars.  There’s a new kid in town: Peach Crumble Bars.  I like this recipe becasue the peach layer is composed of fresh peaches, not canned, not peach jam, real fresh peaches!  The crumbly cakey layer is light and buttery (whoa…light and buttery?  LOL…yes!).  Next time I would like to add some vanilla into the crumb layer; I don’t think vanilla extract will work, so it would have to be vanilla bean or vanilla paste.  Even without the vanilla, this recipe is a winner, juicy, chin dripping, peaches, with cake, in an easy-to handle bar.  What could be better? According the websites I consulted, this recipe can also be made with blueberries and raspberries, so it’s a versatile recipe, too!

I found this recipe at Annies-Eats and she found the basic crumb bar recipe at Smitten Kitchen.  Both sites have better pictures than I do…  One of these days I need to either find a photographer or take a food photography class.  I think I had better start looking for a friend who wants to photograph food–payment being the food that’s being photographed!

Peach Crumble Bars

1½ cups sugar, divided use
1 tsp. baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. salt
Zest of half a lemon
16 tbsp. (2 sticks….ouch) cold, butter cut into small pieces
1 egg, lightly beaten
5 cups peeled, chopped peaches (about 5 peaches)
5 tsp. cornstarch
Juice of 1 lemon
freshly grated nutmeg, to taste (I used about 1/4 of a whole nutmeg)

Preheat the oven to 375° F.  Grease a 9 x 13? pan; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup of the sugar, the baking powder and flour.  Mix in the salt and the lemon zest, and stir together with a fork. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until the largest chunks are about pea-sized.  (I grate the butter, with a cheese grater.  Roll the butter in the flour mixture, grate, roll butter in flour mixture again if butter gets too soft to grate easily).  Combine well.  Stir in beaten egg. The resulting mixture should be crumbly without much loose flour.  Spread a bit more than half of the dough mixture in an even layer over the bottom of the prepared pan and press down firmly to form the bottom crust.

In another bowl, stir together the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and nutmeg. Gently mix in the peaches with a rubber spatula until combined.  Sprinkle the fruit mixture evenly over the crust.  Crumble the remaining dough over the top of the peaches.

Bake for about 45 minutes or until the top is slightly golden brown.  Cool completely before cutting into squares and serving. Eat within 48 hours, which shouldn’t be too difficult.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  I love your visits!

29 Aug 2010 Fresh Tomato Lasagna

Every morning, every good, calm morning, I browse the food blogs.  Most mornings I print off a few recipes.  The recipes then sit around for awhile and I revisit them from time to time.  Eventually, I do try some of the recipes.  Very few of the recipes I repost “as is”.  Some recipes show promise and I work with them for a bit (I have been working on a recipe for Orange Creamsicle Cookies for a few months now).  I probably post (or plan to post) about 50% of the recipes I test.

This morning I found this recipe.  This afternoon I printed it off, picked two pounds of tomatoes from my garden, and went to the store for some fresh mozzarella.  This evening I made the recipe (since our temperatures have finally dropped about 25 degrees in the last two days, I was OK with turning on the oven for 45 minutes).  This lasagna was creamy, cheesy and fresh tasting,  lighter than regular lasagna, but still rich.  Since there are so few ingredients in this lasagna that, if you decide to make it, be sure your tomatoes are the BEST and your olive oil is the best you can get.  Although this pan of lasagna looks very small,  it would certainly serve four people.

The original recipe can be found at SortaChef, One Hot Cat in a Woodfired Kitchen.  I changed the Bechamel Sauce to more closely resemble one I have made many times before and really like the flavor of (adding nutmeg, allspice and Parmesan cheese).  I also added some chopped fresh basil (thanks to a suggestion from my friend, Jeanne) and oregano, and changed the method a bit.

Fresh Tomato Lasagna

2 pounds fresh ripe tomatoes (don’t use tomatoes purchased at the supermarket)
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, preferably buffalo, sliced thinly or shredded
4 Barilla no-boil lasagna noodles
3-5 cups water at 150º (use half hot tap water and half boiling water)
2 tablespoons good olive oil
4 teaspoons chopped fresh basil (more or less to taste)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano (more or less to taste)
approx. ¾ teaspoon salt

For the Béchamel Sauce:

2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk (I used 1%, but whole milk is traditionally used)
¾ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon finely ground pepper (or more to taste)
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
dash of allspice
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 375º.

Pour 3-5 cups very hot water (about 150 degrees) into a loaf pan or casserole dish and slip the no-boil noodles in one at a time. Let noodles soak for 15 minutes.

Make the Béchamel sauce. Heat milk in microwave for one minute. Melt butter in a quart-sized saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter is barely melted whisk in the flour and cook for 2 minutes.  Turn off heat. Whisk in one third of milk and incorporate thoroughly before adding the next third.  Be sure the sauce is smooth before you add more milk. Once you have successfully added all the milk and the sauce is hot and smooth, add in the salt, pepper, nutmeg and allspice. Whisk in the egg.  Turn heat back onto medium and cook sauce for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover tightly with a lid and set aside until ready to use.

Slice 8 ounces of Buffalo mozzarella (or other fresh mozzarella) into ¼ inch pieces. Slice the tops and bottoms off of the tomatoes and discard or reserve for another use. Cut the rest of each tomato into ¼ inch rounds. Coarsely chop the basil and oregano.

In glass loaf pan build the lasagna in this order:

  • A layer of uncooked tomato slices, pack as many in there as you can.  Drizzle with your finest olive oil and sprinkle with 1/4 t. salt, 1 t. basil and 1/2 t. oregano.
  • 1 lasagna noodle
  • ¼ of the mozzarella
  • ¼ of béchamel sauce spread evenly to all edges of the pan
  • Continue the sequence with remaining noodles and filling, finishing with a layer of tomato slices drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt, basil and oregano.

Bake at 375º for 40-45 minutes, until béchamel has puffed up and the edges are bubbling.

Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen, and my garden, today!

07 Aug 2010 Veganized! Pecan Praline Toast
 |  Category: Breads, Breakfast & Brunch, Veganized!  | Tags: , , ,  | One Comment

Polly’s Pecan Praline Toast recipe sounded so good that I just had to see if I could veganize it. And it turned out great! Full of buttery, gooey praline goodness…

Vegan Pecan Praline Toast

for French Toast:

1/2 c. vanilla soy creamer (soy milk will work in a pinch)
1/4 c. chickpea flour (available at middle eastern markets. I guess regular flour would be okay, but the chickpea flour adds a nice, light crispy crust to the french toast)
2 T. cornstarch
Cinnamon and nutmeg to taste
1/2 loaf French bread cut into 1 1/2″ cubes

for Praline:

1 stick vegan margarine (I use Nucoa)
2/3 c. brown sugar
2/3 c. pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Dice butter and place on a rimmed cookie sheet (12 x15). Place cookie sheet in preheating oven to melt butter–be careful not to burn. Remove cookie sheet from oven when butter is melted. Sprinkle brown sugar on top of melted butter and then sprinkle with chopped pecans. Return to oven for a minute or two. Meanwhile, combine creamer, flour, cornstarch and spices (if using) with a fork or whisk. Mixture will be a little lumpy.

QUICKLY dip each side of the bread cubes into liquid mixture. The bread will soak up all the liquid very fast if you let it sit too long, so be quick! Arrange over praline layer and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes (mine was done after 22 min). Remove from the oven when the top of the bread has started to brown. I made a half recipe and inverted my baking dish right onto the serving platter but you can also lift out with a greased spatula and turn over so praline layer is on top.

I will definitely be making this again and again, props to Polly for the inspiration!