Grilled Cheese and Fig for Lunch

 

With company last weekend, I needed a quick but tasty lunch. Figs were plentiful in my garden so how to use them. I never make sandwiches, well hardly ever. Grilled cheese; honestly I just never think of it; so little sliced bread hanging out in my kitchen.  But, for some reason it was what I wanted. I made a simple grilled cheese using Aldi’s multigrain bread as the base. I sliced mild cheddar cheese, slathered one side with some brown mustard. The secret ingredient was a couple of ripe brown figs sliced thinly added before the grilling. The cheese got gooey and the figs softened even more. It was delicate and delicious. Use the cheese you prefer as long as it is good quality; no plastic cheese!  Ditto as to your bread. My choice bought at my local Aldi’s worked perfectly. Ditch the mustard if you wish. I used it in moderation; you don’t want it to be the prevalent flavor. This is a fig and cheese symphony!

grilled cheese

Grilled Cheese and Fig

 

2 slices gluten free sandwich bread

1 tsp brown mustard

2 tsp. butter

Enough cheddar cheese to make a solid layer on one slice of bread, like 5 chunks

2-3 ripe figs.

Directions: Super easy, super quick. I use a Teflon grill pan; melt 1-2 tsp. of salted butter; lay out the two slices; one plain and one with the mustard topped with cheese slices and topped with thinly fig.  When the bottom (you gotta peek!) is browned gently lift the solo slice and carefully place it on top. I like to put a domed lid over it and cook another minute on low heat to cement the two parts into one delish sandwich. Slice in half on the diagonal and enjoy!

 

 

Chunky Mushroom Soup

 

Cream of mushroom soup.  Sounds kinda dull. Everyday.  Nothin special… but when you make it from scratch and you use wild mushrooms it becomes extraordinary and quite memorable. I have made this soup before but this time I had several kinds of wild shrooms to use which amped up the flavor quotient.  I posted a picture on a facebook mushroom id group and got a lot of likes and a request for the recipe so I thought it could be my next post; why type it up just for that one or two folks who asked it; better to share it on my blog for my peeps!

My amounts are somewhat flexible; can use less or more cream, can use store mushrooms. What ever you want. My local farmer’s market has a vendor who sells wild mushrooms; another good source for your ingredients.  Just be sure you know the variety of mushrooms and that every shroom is safe and edible! Use what ever dairy you like. I have used a range of choices in the past.  This time I went with half and half and whole milk.  If you want to chop the mushrooms finer; go for it; you can even puree it but I much prefer it a bit chunky.

We ate outside by candlelight last night and I didn’t bother with a picture of it in the soup bowl due to the light conditions; tonight I will update this post with one of those shots taken in the kitchen! PS: I found most of the shrooms we picked; I am good at it! Joe is much better at identifying; I am a beginner and he is pretty expert at it. It is fun to do together.

Chunky Wild Mushroom Soup

Makes almost 2 quarts.

Ingredients:

  • 15-16 ounces assorted wild mushrooms, chopped coarsely

1 cup yellow onion, chopped

4 Tbsp. butter, divided

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 carrot chopped in small cubes

1 large shallot chopped small cubes (about 1/2 cup)

2 Tbsp. white rice flour

6-8 stems fresh thyme

1 cup dry white wine (I used a dry Riesling)

1.5 tsp. sea salt and ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper or white pepper

1 cup chicken broth

2 cups vegetable broth (or more chicken broth)

1 cup half and half or light cream

½ cup whole milk

1-2 Tbsp. chopped garlic or regular chives

Sprinkle of fresh parsley (I used dried as my parsley plant has bit the dust)

Directions; chop the ingredients so everything is ready. I like my mushrooms chunky but cut them how you like to eat them. Heat the olive oil and half the butter in a large heavy bottomed sauce pan; mine is copper; about 4 quarts. Add the onion, sauté on medium for 4-5 minutes until softened, add the shallots and stir for a minute. Add the flour; stir and cook for a minute. Add the wine, stir and cook a minute. Add the mushrooms and stir for 5-7 minutes until they soften, then add fresh thyme, broths and a tsp of sea salt and some fresh ground pepper. Cook 15-20 minutes on medium.  You want all the veggies to be soft and fully cooked but not mushy. Add the cream and milk, stir well; heat; do Not boil.  While it heats add the finely chopped chives, I used garlic ones and add parsley. I have a five tined scissors for herbs; it chops them perfectly right into the soup. Taste and add more salt if needed.  mushrooms soup

Notes; if you are not gluten free use all purpose flour. If it is too thick add more milk.  It does thicken on standing. I used a blend of honey brown mushrooms, hen of the woods, chicken of the woods and just a speck of chanterelle in my soup this time. A mixture really is nice for a full flavor. Use whatever mushrooms you like. If you want it richer use heavy cream instead of half and half. You can add more butter if you like but I find it quite rich just like I make it.  I pluck out the stems of the thyme when it is cooked; the tiny leaves fall off into the stew; you can remove the leaves from the stems before cooking if you prefer to do that.  You can replace the shallot with leek if you prefer.

This is a rough adaptation from a recipe from Food Network, by Ina Garten – I simplified it quite a bit. And I cut back on the butter, flour and dairy.  I used different mushrooms and made it gluten free as that is my life these days! Enjoy!

 

 

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!!

Pan Fried Ravioli with Spring Veggies

Sometimes I want a quick light meal; homemade and gf of course. I used some fresh asparagus from my garden, a small carrot, a small shallot, some EVOL and a few frozen ravioli to create this simple meal. No sides, two pans and it is quick to throw together; like 15 minutes tops.  People always want to pour red sauce over their ravs but I think they shine in a simple preparation. I used spinach and cheese ravioli but you can use what ever ravioli or even perogies. Yeap; there are gf perogies.

This recipe is for one serving, use a bigger frying pan and you can easily double this recipe.

Notes: first time I made this I used the capers, no carrots, second time no capers as I was out. Both yummy. If you don’t have shallots use a small onion. Sugar snaps were great; could use snow peas or even frozen peas.

Angie’s Pan Fried Ravioli and Spring Veggies

One serving

Ingredients

4-5 frozen ravioli

1 Tbsp. EVOL

1 small shallot

1 small carrot diced

1 small garlic clove, minced

Handful of pea pods, cut off any hard ends

3-5 spears asparagus cut into 1 to 2 inch lengths

1 Tbsp. dry white wine or vermouth

2-3 Tbsp. chicken broth

1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves off the stems

squeeze of lemon juice; maybe a couple tsp. and some zest if desired

1-2 tsp. capers if desired

2-3 tsp. butter if desired

Directions.

Heat a pot of salted water, cook ravioli according to package; mine said 6-8 minutes so I did 6 minutes. Drain. While that is cooking cut up the carrot and slice the shallot across into ¼ inch thick rounds. Heat the EVOL in a medium frying pan. Add the carrot, stir around, then add the shallot and the peas.  Cook 1-3 minutes; add the garlic, stir, add the vermouth. Cook one minute. Add the drained ravioli.  Cook a couple minutes on each side.  Add the asparagus when you turn the ravs.  They don’t need to brown but that would be yummy! You can add a touch of capers if you like. Add the thyme leaves and lemon juice at the end of the cooking.  Optional; add a Tbsp of butter and let that melt in. Can add a bit of lemon zest; maybe 1/2 to 1 tsp.  Add some of the cooking water instead of broth if you so desire. I did just that but added a tsp. of concentrated chicken broth. Enjoy!  rav with spring vegges plated