Tag Archives: onions

Spread The Wealth

One of the outstanding things about summer is the abundance of fresh produce.  When looking for inspiration, I’m frequently inspired by America’s rich immigrant cultures.  I keep returning to the Mediterranean.  Their foods are creative, savory and delicious.

I am crazy about tomatoes, eggplant and garlic.  Alone or in combination they continue to be flavors with endless possibility.  I love a good baba ganoush or baba ghnouj, an eggplant dip typically made with roasted eggplant, tahini, olive oil and lemon juice. When I came across recipes from the Lebanese heritage using slightly different ingredients to make a thicker spread called Borani-E Badenjan I couldn’t wait to try it.  It had all the ingredients I love, including caramelized onion, garlic and yogurt.  I frequently freeze large batches of caramelized onions, since they are one of our main crops.  I have them at the ready to be used in anything from dips, to pizza.  I’ve written the recipe to include cooking the onion specifically as you make the spread.  I like to eat it with pita, cucumbers and/or carrots.

EGGPLANT AND YOGURT SPREAD (BORANI-E BADENJAN)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 large eggplants (a little over a pound)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and cut into thin slices
  • 1 cloves garlic, grated on a microplane
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sumac
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • Fresh pita for serving

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DIRECTIONS:

  1.  Preheat the broiler to high (alternately, you can do this on a gas grill).  Prick the eggplants in several places with the tip of a knife and place under the hot broiler or on a gas grill.  Broil or grill for 30-40 minutes, turning them halfway through, until the skin is charred and the flesh is very soft.  Halve the frilled eggplant lengthwise.  Scoop out the flesh and place in a colander for about 30 minutes to drain off the excess liquid.
  2. Heat the olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and cook until soft and lightly golden, about 5-8 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute for another minute or so.  In a food processor, add the eggplant, onions, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Process until smooth.
  3. Stir the yogurt, and sumac into the cooled mixture.  Transfer to a serving dish.  Drizzle with  olive oil and sprinkle with a few saffron threads or 1/4 teaspoon sumac.  Top with chopped walnuts.  Serve with pita.

Yields: 1-2 cups

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 “The only thing I like better than talking about food is eating” – John Walters

Wild Thing

Boy, are we ever having a heat wave!  Just in time for harvesting our 5500 heads of garlic.  The good news is it’s great for garlic; not so much for us garlic diggers and cleaners.  We get up early while the heat is bearable, then stop by midday to avoid becoming ill.  This is definitely the time of year for simplicity in the kitchen.  You can always throw something on the grill, but I really go for meal salads.  They don’t heat up the kitchen, and you can munch on them for a few days.  Virtually any grain or bean will work well, combined with vegetables of your choice.  I go for texture differences whenever possible; which usually means crunch and savory elements.  I’ve been making this salad for decades.  It’s great for a picnic (no mayo) and can be doubled or tripled to serve a crowd.

WILD RICE SALAD

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup long grain wild rice, cooked, drained and cooled
  • 8 pieces of bacon, chopped, fried and drained
  • 2 cups celery, diced
  • 2 cups white onion, diced
  • 4 ounces white or brown mushrooms, stems removed, caps sliced
  • 2 cups curly parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup pecans or almonds, toasted

DRESSING:

  • 1/2 cup sunflower oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

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DIRECTIONS:

  1. Measure 3 cups water into a medium saucepan and add 1 teaspoon salt.  Bring to a boil and stir in wild rice.  Turn down to low, partially cover and cook for 40 minutes.  Drain in a wire colander and set aside to cool.
  2. Chop bacon, fry until crisp and drain on paper towels.  Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, place cooled wild rice, with celery, onions, mushrooms, pecans and parsley.
  4. Place ingredients for dressing in a pint mason jar.  Seal with lid and shake vigorously.  Pour over salad and mix thoroughly but gently.
  5. Serve on a platter and top with crumbled bacon.

Serves 4-6

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“I love how summer just wraps its warm arms around you like a blanket.”  —Kelle Elmore

Confit D’ Oignon, C’est Bon

What’s Confit D’ Oignon?  Why it’s French Onion Marmalade.  Most marmalade’s  or jams are sweet and made from various fruits.  This marmalade has a savory, sweet and tart quality making it an excellent condiment for many things.  I love putting up assorted foods ahead of time.  There’s something special about pulling something from your pantry that you have canned yourself.  Onion marmalade is very easy to make and believe me adds something unique to you repertoire.  This makes an incredible holiday or hostess gift; not to mention surprising your friends and family with the unexpected.

I enjoy making onion marmalade with red onions, but you can also make it with yellow or white; just make sure to change out the red wine and red wine vinegar for white vermouth and white wine vinegar.  This can be canned or frozen depending on your preference.  I prefer to can it so I can give it as a gift that I don’t have to worry about thawing.

I strongly recommend that if you tackle this recipe, consider double or tripling it.  The time is mostly spent reducing and cooking it down to syrupy deliciousness.  It’s wonderful on beef or duck as a condiment.  My favorite way is a slice of toasted or grilled baguette, topped with fresh chevre and then onion marmalade.  Or try sauteed greens, feta, poached egg and top with a bit of the onion marmalade.  Then there’s topping a circle of brie with onion marmalade, wrapping it in puff pastry, then bake.  C’est bon!

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 large red onions (or 6 medium), peeled, cut in half lengthwise, and thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup dry red wine (I use Cabernet)
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

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DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat, add your olive oil and sliced onions.  Toss them around to make sure they all have a coating of the oil.  Reduce heat to medium and cook, covered until they start to color; about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Add the salt, pepper, bay leaves and rosemary.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes, or until the herbs have become soft and wilted.
  3. Add the brown sugar, wine and wine vinegar.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; then lower the heat to low and let simmer for 30-40 minutes (if you are doubling or tripling the recipe, this will take longer. In fact the more you make, the longer it will take to cook down; as long as a couple hours.)  Remember patience is a virtue.  Continue simmering on low until the liquid is dissolved and the onions are soft and sticky.  Note:  Stir frequently during this process so that the onions do not stick to the bottom of the pan from the sugar and become burnt.
  4. Remove the rosemary sprigs and bay leaves; discard.
  5. Let marmalade cool before serving or it you are refrigerating it for use within a week.  Otherwise, keep it hot for your water bath canning.  Can in sterilized 4 ounce or 1/2 pint mason jars, leaving 1/8 inch clearance.  Can for 15 minutes.

Yield: 4-5 4 ounce jars

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“Age and glasses of wine should never be counted.”  —unknown

Morocca-Tori

I’m always looking for inspiration in the kitchen.  When it comes to regional cuisine, a classic dish can often inspire me to bend the rules.  For example, I love Italian Chicken Cacciatore, with its tomatoes, garlic, onions and capers.  The challenge for me was, its traditional breading always sat a little heavy.  Why not lighten it up, leave the breading off, use Moroccan spices, chickpeas and feta?  The result?  Something similar, yet completely different in tone.  Vegetarian?  Leave out the chicken completely and replace it with roasted butternut squash or zucchini.  The real focus is what the regional seasoning does in relation to everything else.  The Moroccan or North African seasoning called  Ras El Hanout (which means: “top of the shop”) can contain anywhere from 10-100 different spices. I’ve included my version of this savory spice combination.  I highly recommend making it yourself, as you can easily control the heat. I’m hooked on it and keep finding different ways to use it.  You can also find it manufactured by several companies like McCormick or the Teeny Tiny Spice Company. Served over rice, couscous or quinoa, with a simple side salad of mixed greens tossed with vinaigrette and you have a dinner that’s comes together quickly and is sure to please.

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Moroccan Chicken Thighs:

  • 6 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion, sliced vertically into thin strips
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Ras El Hanout*
  • 1 28 oz. can Muir Glen Organic Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 cup organic chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz.) crumbled feta
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 2 cups of cooked rice, couscous or quinoa

*Kim’s Ras El Hanout:

  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cane sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (add a bit more if you want more heat)
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Mix all the spices together and store in airtight container.

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Melt butter and olive oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat.  Saute garlic and onion until soft, about 4-5 minutes.
  2. Add Ras El Hanout and simmer an additional 2 minutes.
  3. Add crushed tomatoes and stir to combine.  Take off heat.  Spoon about a 1/2 cup of the sauce into a 8 x 8 casserole dish.  Place chicken thighs on top of sauce.
  4. Sprinkle chickpeas around chicken.  Spoon the rest of the sauce over the chicken.  Sprinkle feta over sauce.
  5. Bake uncovered for 45-50 minutes, or until bubbly and chicken thighs are done.
  6. Remove from oven and sprinkle with minced parsley.
  7. Serve over rice, couscous or quinoa.

Serves: 3-4

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“The forest not only hides your enemies, but its full of your medicine, healing power and food.”  —African Proverb

Beautiful Bones

As a foodie, farmer and cook, I enjoy doing many things from scratch.  With my surgery a week away, I’ve been organizing recipes for my 10 day post-op liquid diet and wanted to include some homemade chicken or beef broth. I recently came across the benefits of bone broth.  Although similar to stock, bone broth is more rich in flavor and nutrients, making it a healing food.  Gelatin, found in the joints and knuckles of bones, is one of the most prominent “super foods” for healing a troubled digestive system.  It protects and heals the mucosal lining of the digestive tract and helps to regenerate cells.  It also aids in the absorption of nutrients.  Marrow, found in the larger bones such as the femur, helps to strengthen bones and connective tissues, as well as supporting the immune system.

Bone broth is a time-honored tradition with a long history.  It is not an accident that chicken soup was given for ailments from colds to upset stomachs.  Its soothing qualities help support the immune system.  it is one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can find.  It protects your joints with natural glucosamine, and the glycine in it helps us sleep better.  Bone broth is a rich source of collagen that will feed your skin, hair and nails.  The title of “super food” is well deserved.

Bone broths of all kinds are inexpensive to make and will reward you ten-fold with flavor and nutrients not found in any commercial product.  Be sure to choose your bones carefully from 100 percent grass-fed and finished cows, pastured chickens, and wild-caught fish.  Seek out a local, sustainable farmer or fisherman.  I have found that I prefer to make bone broth from chickens in a crock pot, and beef broth in the oven.  The choice is up to you.  Either way, the bottom line is that you will end up with the most rich and healthful broth you have ever tasted!

Beef bone broth ready for the oven.

Beef bone broth ready for the oven.

Beef Bone Broth:

  • 4 lbs. beef marrow and knuckle bones
  • 1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar (I prefer Braggs)
  • 2 stalks of celery, halved
  • 3 carrots, halved
  • 3 onions, quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • Handful fresh parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • Filtered water (as much that will fit into your Dutch oven
  • Himalayan pink salt
  1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees.  Place all ingredients in large Dutch oven and bring to a boil.
  2. Place in oven for 18-24 hours, stirring occasionally.
  3. Let cool, remove bones and vegetables.  Strain through wire sieve lined with cheesecloth.
  4. Season with Himalayan pink salt to taste. I start with a teaspoon.
  5. Chill in large bowl.  Lift off extra fat.  Pour into quart Mason jars.
When chilled, you can see the gelatin, nutrient-dense richness of this broth.

When chilled, you can see the gelatin, nutrient-dense richness of this broth.

“Good broth will resurrect the dead.”  —South American Proverb

Never Too Much!!

We’ve all heard by now the growing importance and benefits of fermentation.  During the growing season when cucumbers, zucchini and other vegetables are so abundant you might be tempted to drop them anonymously on your neighbors doorsteps; it’s a great time to think about the winter larder.  I enjoy putting up food.  There’s nothing better than opening a jar of summer in the middle of winter.  It helps me to appreciate the life we’ve chosen and the obvious health benefits.

I enjoy both the color and flavor of pickled squash.  This recipe is flexible enough to use any squash that seems to be coming out of your ears.  Summer squash, zucchini (any variety) or my favorite, patty-pan.  I select small or medium sized squash as you don’t want the seed cavity to become to large, otherwise your pickles become mushy.  I also don’t use the amount of sugar typically recommended in many recipes; I find the brine way too sweet for my taste.  I typically triple this recipe if I’m hauling out all the canning stuff anyway. These little gems have become family favorites.

Fresh and abundant

Fresh and abundant

Patty-Pan Squash Pickles:

  • 4-6 patty-pan squash, washed, halved vertically and sliced 1/4 inch thick (approximately 12 cups)
  • 2 medium sweet onions, halved vertically and sliced in 1/4 inch thick half moons
  • 2 red, orange, yellow or combination, seeded and sliced in 1/4 inch pieces equally 4 cups
  • 1/3 cup pickling salt
  • Ice cubes
  • 2 cups white vinegar (5% acidity)
  • 1 cup can sugar
  • 1 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. celery seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
Ready for the pint jars

Ready for the pint jars

 

Toss squash, onion and bell pepper strips with pickling salt in very large bowl.  Cover vegetables with ice cubes.  Cover and let stand for 3 hours.Sterilize pint jars, and prepare lids.  While jars are boiling, drain vegetables, but do not rinse, discarding brine and any unmelted ice.  Combine vinegar, sugar and spices in a small saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Pack squash into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space.  Cover with hot brine leaving 1/2 inch head space.  Seal and process jars for 10 minutes.  Remove jars from water and let stand for 24 hours.  Make sure each jars seals by pushing in the middle of each lid.  They should not pop.  Refrigerate after openings.  Makes 4, 1 pint jars.

Healthy & delicious patty-pan pickles.

Healthy & delicious patty-pan pickles.

 

“There may be many metaphors for living…. but we have to do the living.”

 

Low and Slow

It’s official, all the ice is off our lake.  The yellow finches are turning color; the sand-hill cranes and Canadian geese have returned to nest along the reeds.  Spring is raising her head in triumph!  Although it might seem early, we have already planted 4000 hard neck garlic, and 6000 onions (only 20,000 to go)! Granted, there are many different varieties in that total, but call us crazy!

Once our growing season starts, our slow-cooker is a godsend.  You can take a shoulder roast, or some other muscular cut and turn it into something so tender, you can cut it with a fork.  We come in with aching muscles and are greeted with the smell of something luscious.  Hot shower, before dinner cocktail and dinner is ready…

Slow-Cooked Brisket and Onions:

Caramelizing onions in Val's grandma's cast iron skillet

Caramelizing onions in Val’s grandma’s cast iron skillet

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large yellow or red onions, sliced into half moons
  • 3-4 lb grass-fed beef brisket
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups homemade beef stock (you can use organic in a carton also)
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp tamari
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  1. Heat a saute pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat with the olive oil.  Add the onions and cook on medium-low, stirring frequently, for about 20-30 minutes or until the onions are starting to turn golden and caramelize.
  2. While the onions are cooking, pat the brisket dry with paper-towels and season generously with salt and pepper.  When the onions are done, place them in a bowl and set aside.  Turn the heat up to medium-high (along with your vent or fan).  Sear the each side of the brisket until a golden crust has formed, about 7-10 minutes.  Remove from skillet and place in the slow-cooker.
  3. Sprinkle the garlic over the meat.  Mix together the stock, Worcestershire sauce and tamari and pour into the slow-cooker insert.  Top with the reserved onions, cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
Beautiful golden crust

Beautiful golden crust

Garlic and brisket, ready for onions

Garlic and brisket, ready for onions

4.  When the brisket is very tender, turn your slow-cooker to the warm setting for 30 minutes.  If you do not have a warm  setting, remove the brisket from the cooker, place in a baking dish and cover with foil for the same amount of time.

5.  After you have let the brisket rest for 30 minutes, it should be tender enough to take a piece of it, and place in on a platter.  Take two forks and pull or shred the brisket, pulling in opposite directions.  Continue with the rest of the brisket until it is all shredded.  Top with onions and several ladles of au jus from the insert. Garnish with fresh parsley.  Serve of mashed potatoes or rice, with extra au jus on the side.

Succulent, tender, perfection!

Succulent, tender, perfection!

Serves 6-8

Note:  Don’t have a slow cooker?  Cook in a Dutch oven with a tight fitting lid on 325 degrees F for 3-4 hours or until very tender.

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt,”  —Margaret Atwood