Eggplant and Potato Curry

Lots of September eggplants mean I am looking for great recipes to enjoy them to the fullest. This happens to be one of my favorite ways to do just that.  It is a vegetable curry, now don’t be put off by that; no long list of spices: only a couple and some fresh ginger in it and it isn’t too spicy or wild tasting. I have simplified it a bit and as a bonus I give you my best eggplant frying tip. Yeap, it is vegetarian but that can be a nice change of pace from all that meat. I serve it over brown rice and it is very satisfying. You can feel virtuous enjoying this savory entree and use all that fresh fall produce.

This recipe came from my favorite Indian cookbook Indian Cooking for Pleasure by Charmaine Solomon.  This 70’s bible for Indian cookery is out of print and very pricey to buy on line. I have used literally dozens of recipes from it. She knows her spices and chooses great recipes that always work.

You can use big fat eggplants as I did this time or smaller ones; you will just need more of them. These days there are many interesting smaller eggplant varieties; any will work here; just cube, no need to peel.

Eggplant and Potato Curry

1 medium eggplant

2 large potatoes

2 decent sized tomatoes or most of a can of chopped tomatoes

1 large onion diced

1 small red pepper and 1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced.

1 bunch spinach or a big handful of roughly chopped kale

3-4 Tbsp. mild olive oil

1 ½ tsp. grated ginger, I freeze mine and just grate it frozen

½ tsp. cumin seeds, crushed in a pestle

½ tsp. ground turmeric; I did a rounded measurement; a tad more than level

1 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. brown sugar

Directions: Slice eggplants into ½ inch rounds and cut into cubes. Peel and dice the potatoes into a bit less than ½ inch rounds. Chop the tomatoes. Chop the onion. Seed and chop the peppers (you can use any level of spicy pepper you like; the original recipe said green chilies). Wash and chop the spinach or kale (I used kale this time; subs in great)

Heat 3 Tbsp. mild oil in a large frying pan. Fry the cubed potatoes until golden; you will need to turn them a few times. Remove from pan. Add the eggplant and fry until cooked; once the oil is soaked in I wait a half minute and add a couple tablespoons of water to the pan; let the water steam off and the eggplant should be done; if you have to do that again; go ahead. This trick saves adding a lot more oil to keep the eggplant from sticking/burning. When mostly done remove from pan.  It will cook more later so it is okay if edges and bits are not fully done.

Note: you could fry the eggplant at the same time in a separate pan to save a few minutes if you are in a hurry; might take a touch more oil that way; worked for me.

Then, add a touch more oil to the same (now empty) pan and pour in the chopped onion and fry until soft and turning golden. Add the cumin, turmeric and grated ginger. Fry for a minute, stirring. Add the chilies, tomatoes and salt, stir well and add back the eggplant and potatoes. Tip: when I make this in a wide 12 inch frying pan I don’t have a big enough lid; I use an upside down metal pizza pan and it makes a great lid.

Top with the spinach or kale. Stir after a minute, cover and cook on low heat for a few minutes until the spinach is soft, adding up to ½ cup water to keep it from sticking/burning. Add the brown sugar and cook the curry uncovered until it is thick; no more than 8-9 minutes. Serve with Indian bread or brown rice. As I haven’t really found time re-create my favorite Indian breads I served mine over brown rice.  eggplant curry on plante

Mediterranean Pasta Saute

 

Summer produce is at flood stage right now. Quantities of ripe tomatoes are ridiculous and there are lots of other veggies fresh and cheap to be had.  It’s pretty darn hot; what to make that is quick and tasty and uses up some produce?  I like to make this sort of Mediterranean stir fry; you can vary the ingredients based on what is in your veggie bin or garden.  It is quick and it still tasted great the two times I enjoyed it again.

gorguta squash

Tromboni Italian squash aka gorgutza

Notes: Feel free to swap out a veggie for another if you want. Or change the basil to fresh oregano or any fresh herb you like. I love the tromboni squash as it is tender yet firm…not watery, but it can be hard to find; a substitute is summer squash of any kind. Use any melting cheese you like; I prefer either of the two I suggested. Chunks of fresh ripe tomato will work fine too. Any kind of mild pepper is a good choice.  Red onion will be great instead of regular onions.

Angie’s Mediterranean Sauté

Serves three

Ingredients

2 Tbsp. EVOL

1 med onion, cut in long strips and then cut across to shorten them in half or thirds.

1 frying pepper cut into narrow 1 to 1.5 inch long strips

2-3 cups tromboni Italian summer squash or use zucchini; cut into half moons or rounds about 1/3 inch thick max

2 garlic cloves minced

3-4 lengths of Italian sausage precooked and cut into ¼ inch wide rounds.

1 cup uncooked gf rotini pasta, cooked until one minute less than the package says to cook it

1/3 cup Mexican cheese crumbled or mozzarella cheese cut in ½ inch chunks

3-5 basil leaves chopped fine

A pint of cherry tomatoes; if they are big you could cut them in half

Directions:

Heat the olive oil until nearly smoking in a mini wok or sauté pan. Add the cut onion, the trombone squash and the pepper. If you use zucchini wait to add it for 2 or 3 minutes as it won’t take as long to cook as the tromboni squash. Stir for a minute, add the garlic, stir another minute. Add the cooked coins of sausage (I sauted them in a fry pan the day before; about 8-9 minutes), stir and cook a few minutes until the squash is nearly done. Add the cooked pasta and then the tomatoes, stir and add cheese, stir a minute until cheese is melting. Add the fresh basil leaves and maybe ½ tsp. sea salt. Toss well. Do not overcook; cheese should be just about melting and tomatoes warm and slightly soft but not burst open. Enjoy! saute on plate

 

 

Summer Tomato Soup

Summer is tomato time around here.  I had tomato salad last night and for lunch I had homemade tomato soup, had it yesterday too.  It is all gone but I am wishing I had another bowl in the fridge for tomorrow.  Last October I made a big batch and froze it in plastic containers, each two servings.  I felt like I was back in a sunny summer day whenever I had it for lunch last winter.  I add the cream before serving; not before freezing, FYI.

So make some, it is Ina Garten’s recipe simplified a tad.  If you don’t like it creamy leave out the cream or use half and half or whole milk for less calories.  If you are a vegetarian use veggie broth instead of chicken broth.  You can strain it but I prefer it unstrained and chunky. It has a fair amount of garlic which you can reduce as wished.  I cut back on the salt but you can cut it even further as you wish.

Your family will love this soup with a sandwich or salad. It is naturally gluten free.  GF croutons would bring a lovely crunch to it if you have any.  I make it a lot in late summer, commonly used recipe…I never think to take pictures of the process. Next batch!

tomato soup in bowl

This was made with just a touch of half and half, not cream; plenty creamy for me!

Cream of Tomato Soup

Ingredients
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped red or yellow onions (2 onions)
2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
4 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped (5-6 large)
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves

2-3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1-2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 to 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream/half and half or whole milk

Directions
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and carrots and sauté for about 10 minutes, until very tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, chicken stock, salt, and pepper and stir well. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are very tender.

Or: use your Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker to make it; saute as per recipe in the pot, add the rest of the ingredients and put the lid on and cook under pressure 20 minutes.  You might have to blend it a bit with an immersion blender. I sometimes leave off the cream but my next paragraph is how to add that….

The finish: Add the cream or milk to the soup and process it by blending with an immersion blender or run it through your food processor. I use my cute little boat motor blender and leave it chunky just as I love soup to be. Reheat the soup over low heat just until hot and serve plain or with julienned basil leaves and/or GF croutons. Enjoy!

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/cream-of-fresh-tomato-soup-recipe.

Original post of this was way back in the summer of 2014.  Minor changes and additions.

Golden Gazpacho…Cold Tomato Soup for Summertime Dining

Hot summer days mean I need a cool recipe. One with minimal cooking: gotta be easy and totally tasty.  Plus I gotta use some of my garden produce.  Gazpacho is the classic Spanish cold soup. I make it every summer out of ripe red tomatoes. This time I made it from some golden yellow tomatoes; they had some bad spots and couldn’t be included in a free produce give away due to that. I believe the actual variety is Kelloggs Golden; think big fat heirloom tomaters. They are especially nice for some people as this variety is lower in acid; we grow it in our church community garden for seniors who have trouble with regular tomatoes.  Using yellow tomatoes changed nothing else about this recipe but it sure looks different! The flavor is mild and delightfully tomato-y.golden tomatoes in bucket

So, this recipe is perfect for using excess tomatoes and I love it on a hot day. It absolutely must be made with ripe summer tomatoes, never ever attempt it with any less than the best vine ripened fruit.  You can get great tomatoes at farm stands, farmer’s markets and even the grocery store; look for the grown local label for the best flavored tomatoes. Please do not use greenhouse tomatoes grown far away and shipped while not really ripe. Your soup will not be full of tomato flavor and it will taste disappointing.  These ripe locally grown tomatoes are vital to the flavor of gazpacho.  If you can’t find golden tomatoes just use red ones; a more traditional looking gazpacho.

I make my gazpacho in the blender but I believe a food processor works okay too.  No heat,  minimal fuss.

golden gazpacho in blender

My version allows you to add chopped raw veggies in the amount you prefer just before you slurp it down. I prefer its fresh pure flavors to those soulless restaurant versions that are often gelatinous and terminally crammed full of assorted chunky veggies…uggh.

golden gazpacho toppings

Warning: you do need to peel the tomatoes but that goes pretty fast.  I heat about a wide sauce pan filled 3 inches deep with water to a boil and pop the ripe tomatoes in for 2 to 3 minutes. I put in two big ones at a time; done in a couple batches.  Let them cool a bit and then peel off the skin and cut out the blossom end (top) and they are ready to use. Saying large tomatoes is kinda vague; just think about how many will fill your blender about 2 times 2/3 of the way full. For me it was about 4 or 5 huge tomatoes.  I had a bit extra I put in a bowl and sprinkled with white balsamic vinegar to eat as a tomato salad; good way to use up extra  tomato slices. golden tomatoes in pot

One important instruction: gazpacho just HAS to chill really good; make it early in the morning to serve as a late lunch or better yet; for supper. The colder the better, I always put my soup bowls in the freezer for 15 or 20 minutes and yank them out just before filling and serving this cold summer delight.

It is a flexible recipe; depends on the size of your tomatoes. This should make close to 50 ounces or nearly a  quart and a half.  It will keep 3-5 days in the refrigerator.

Golden Gazpacho

Soup ingredients:

3 to 6 ripe fat golden tomatoes (large ones)

About ¼ cup EVOL; best quality you can afford: I used some from Aldi’s

2 slices white bread (GF if you have celiac)

1 lemon

2 large garlic cloves, peeled

1 to 1 ½ tsp. sea salt

Toppings:

2 tomatoes diced, heirloom if possible

1 cup diced burpless cucumber

2 scallions, sliced thin, green and white parts. Chives work okay too.

Directions: peel the tomatoes as described above.  When I peel them I do it over a bowl to capture the juices and seeds. I save them, strain off the seeds and I add back the juice as needed to thin the finished soup.    Put half of your cut up tomatoes in the blender; add a slice of bread broken up, 2 tbsp. olive oil, the juice of half a lemon and one garlic clove.  Put the lid on and blend well.  Note: do not fill the blender more then ¾ full. Taste; add salt; ½ to ¾ tsp. Pour in a glass bowl.

Repeat entire process with the rest of the ingredients and thin with reserved tomato juice – it should be thick but not porridge thick.  Mix the two batches together in a big glass bowl; never metal because of the acidity of tomatoes and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Then chill it at least 3 to 4 hours.

Serve with bowls of toppings to sprinkle on top of the thick soup; diced ripe tomatoes, scallion slices and cucumber ( preferably burpless) cut in small dice.  If you want to guild the lily, top with croutons (gf ones if you have celiac), I don’t often bother. golden gazpacho in bowl

 

Note: gluten free bread often gives a slightly different texture to the soup; somewhat less smooth in the look of it and the taste.  It’s okay as it doesn’t affect the flavor: it still is delicious and a bowl of it is so very refreshing on a hot day.  Serve with a small sandwich and you have a perfect summer lunch.

Stuffed Squash Blossom Fritters

 

Zucchini season is here.  The blossoms are plentiful and I am expecting many zucchini this season.  I now make my stuffed blossoms with gf beer batter. I have made them gf before; this is a repeat post with some new information.  I used seltzer thinking it could function like the beer;none of that in the house. So I whipped up a batch for lunch today.

I usually use Monterrey Jack cheese to fill them but in a pinch some sharp cheddar worked excellently.  Or whatever cheese floats your boat; can use almost anything that is not too hard or is really runny before cooking. I used sharp cheddar this time; perfect.

My go to in past has been GF Redbridge beer. I left it rest once beaten, for about one hour.  UPDATE: I used seltzer water this time very successfully. Use a tad less than you would of beer; seems thinner than beer makes the batter. Even flavored seltzer works; not sweetened though.

No need to deep fry in a quart of oil, I fried mine in a non stick pan with a good coating of light olive oil.  I like to turn them twice; resulting in a sort of three sided fritter. They are best consumed right away the same day they are made, eaten warm with a sprinkle of salt and a squeeze of lemon juice.  My twenty something daughter loves them. My grandson at two and a half enjoyed one!  They have a mild squash taste but I think the crisp batter coating is the predominate flavor. My GF version is pretty much identical to the old wheat version: they taste fantastic! The cheese is melted and creamy, the fritter exterior is crisp yet tender. I ate half of them and had to restrain myself from any more….I sprinkled some fresh dill on the plate. Perfect.

 

 

Stuffed squash Fritters

Ingredients

7-12 fresh squash blossoms, remove stamen

1 medium egg

2/3 cup white rice flour or any gf flour blend

Sprinkle sea salt, a few grinds of fresh pepper

1 ½ tsp light olive oil plus more for frying

3 ounces GF beer; I measure it midway between ½ and 2/3 cup or about 1/2 cup seltzer water

Approx 1 inch chunk of cheddar cheese cut into small rectangles

¼ a fresh lemon or lime

DIRECTIONS: Separate the egg and put the yolk in a medium bowl, ditto for the white.  Add the oil, salt, pepper and white rice flour to the yolk.  Then add the beer.  Stir well, cover with plastic wrap and let stand an hour or two.  Even thirty minutes works. Beat that reserved egg white until fairly stiff. Add to the batter and stir gently but thoroughly. It will lose some loft but don’t over beat; should be thick and puffy in texture.

Slit open the side of each squash blossom and break off the pollen stamen.  Insert a 1 inch by ½ inch chunk of cheddar cheese.

Heat a 10 inch non-stick skillet; add about 2 or 3 tbsp light olive oil.  Take 3 blossoms and gently roll in the batter to coat; making sure the cheese doesn’t fall out.  Lightly lay them in the hot olive oil and fry until golden, carefully turn twice with spatula and fingers; about 5 or 6 minutes total. Do a few more if you have room or fry in two batches.  Do not keep turning; maximum of two turns.  Lay on a couple paper towels to absorb any excess oil if they are oily. Mine were really not at all oily this time.  Plate, sprinkle with coarse sea salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

They are a lovely appetizer. I made 7 this time of them; that was how many blossoms I had; the batter should do at least 12 of them.  Even the bit of stem will taste good so don’t worry if you have ½ inch or so of stem.  The blossoms are best if you pick them yourself that day. Some fancy farmer’s markets sell squash blossoms so they are the first place I suggest you look for some if you don’t have access to a few squash plants.  I have used pumpkin or butternut squash blossoms in the past; they taste fine.

squash blossoms on plate

I squeezed lime juice on these and sprinkled with fresh dill; perfection!

Do try them; a real conversation starter, not that hard to make and really delicious.

Original post in summer of  2015 or thereabouts. Minor text changes and recipe variations.

 

Bratwurst in a Crepe!

This post came as a result of me buying some uncured German bratwurst at Aldi’s and I didn’t know what to make with it.  Then I saw a blog post; for a meal of bratwurst served in a “galette” which is basically a buckwheat crepe. Bratwurst is a quick cooking meat; about 10-11 minutes in fry pan. The crepes took far longer. I used dark buckwheat flour.  You will need some water, a bit of coconut oil or butter, salt and an egg. You beat it up and refrigerate it for an hour or more; up to overnight.  I made the whole recipe which should make 8 crepes; I got about 6-7.  I have made crepes before, long ago; they are a bit smaller; these were made in a 12 inch non stick frying pan.  They are harder to turn as they are so large. The crepe is thin, fairly flexible especially when it is just made. I reheated one tonight on a plate; for about 35-30 seconds.

I cooked the brats and then opened a can of sauerkraut and got out the mustard. It goes especially good with country style mustard; aka stone ground mustard.  One time I had it with a pickled okra added in and second time with some caramelized onions added.  Both tasty.

So here are my hints.  I made the batter in a 4 cup flexible measuring cup; measure the water and dump in flour and rest of ingredients. Mix it well.  Put in fridge while you do something else. When you measure batter to make a crepe, go for a touch less than a ladle full. I found that the first one was crap; just as the author said it would be.   Then I got out the cooking spray and changed from coconut oil to butter and sprayed the pan as well; Much less sticking. You have to rotate the pan around quickly to spread the batter into a thin big crepe. Be patient to turn and be careful not to flip it onto itself; sticks together and cannot be separated again; mutant crepe! Let it get some brown spots on the bottom. The edges might be all feathery; they look pretty when that happens.

I think you could use these to make wrap sandwiches; far better tasting and more flexible than any gf wrap bread I have found. They are fairly easy once you get the hang of making them. I love that there is no baking and in an hour of batter resting plus 15 or 20 minutes I can have 6 wraps to use with brats, hot dogs, lunch meat or whatever! Six is plenty for me; not sure they freeze so don’t want a ton of them. This is definitely a keeper recipe I will be able to use in many meal situations.

Here is the link to Margaret’s recipe: http://www.kitchenfrau.com/buckwheat-galettes/

Enjoy!!

Squash, Pancetta and Chard Pasta

 

This colorful pasta dish is pretty healthy and very tasty. Not too tricky either. Have enjoyed it many times in the past 5-7 years. I actually thought it was on my blog; not so. Hence this post. I made it this week and it made 4 lovely servings.

It showcases roasted cubes of butternut squash and tender melt in your mouth swiss chard. My amounts are somewhat approximate. It will keep a few days in the fridge. I used gf fettuccine noodles. Don’t overcook them! You could buy pre-peeled and cubed squash to save time. I used some I grew last fall and honestly it didn’t take long to peel and cube it. I suggest you roast the cubes from a whole squash and use as much as you think works for you. Valley Farms has great fresh swiss chard; that’s where I get mine if I don’t grow it myself.  I have made this recipe with thick cut bacon, if that is what you have; go for it.  I got a package of chopped pancetta at Aldi’s pretty cheaply.

 

 

Butternut, Pancetta and Chard Pasta

Ingredients:

1 bunch swiss chard, I like the red stemmed variety, rinsed off

3-4 tbsp. EVOL

1 cup or so of diced red onion; one decent sized one

1 lg garlic clove minced

1 small- medium butternut squash; peeled, seeded and cubed; at least a pound

4 oz pancetta, diced

12 oz dried gf fettucine noodles.

Good quality Parmesan cheese to grate on plated entree

Directions:

Roast the squash; heat the oven to 400 degrees, spray a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray; spread the cubed squash, drizzle with 1-2 Tbsp of EVOL and ½ tsp. kosher or sea salt, bake at 400 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes; turn cubes every 15 minutes with a metal spatula to help them cook evenly, a bit of crunch is nice! Start the rest of the recipe as they approach doneness or bake the squash a day before if that works for you. Have done it both ways. Crunchier if made right before serving

 

Heat a large pot of salted water for the pasta while you make the chard.  Chop it into 1 inch lengths; set the chopped leaves aside separately from the lower stem bits. Heat the EVOL in a large frying pan or smallish wok. Add the stems and cook 2-3 minutes, add garlic, stir, add the onion; cook 3-5 minutes until softening. Add rest of chard in 2-3 handfuls letting it cook down for a minute before stirring and adding the next third. Then push the veggies up the sides or to the edges and add the pancetta. Push the veggies gently back around and over the pancetta. Cook 2-3 minutes until the pancetta is hot and the chard is soft.  Meanwhile you have cooked the pasta to al dente. Add it to the pan with the chard, stir, add the roasted squash cubes. Stir. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top; none of that pre-grated crappy cheese please! Enjoy!

swiss chard pasta plated

 

 

Not sure where I found this recipe but it is a keeper; we often enjoy it in the fall as chard and squash are fall harvest vegetables.