Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

Homemade pizza sauce from homegrown tomatoes. It's superb!

This sauce is deliciously spicy and thick, making a great backdrop to a balanced pizza or pizza-baked spaghetti. It is easy to make for canning, as you get 2 full pints plus some extra to use right away! If you are using plum or paste tomatoes, you can use 5 cups otherwise, use 6 cups or about 2 pounds worth.

Don’t omit the “secret” ingredient of fennel seeds. You can substitute anise or caraway as they all taste similar. This will give the sauce that distinct flavor and say to your tongue, “I am not just spaghetti sauce with extra herbs.”

2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 to 6 cups fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
3 tbsp parmesan cheese
4 tsp dried italian herbs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp ground pepper
½ tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp fennel, anise or caraway seeds

In a large sauce pan, saute the onion, celery and garlic in the oil until soft and transparent.

Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and stir until smooth.

tomatoes, tomato paste and onions/celery in the pot.

Measure out the seasonings,

The seasonings

then stir them into the other ingredients and bring to a simmer.

pot with tomatoes, tomato paste, onions/celery and seasonings

Simmer for 45-60 minutes. Puree with a stick blender (or in batches in a blender). Spoon into pint jars or put back on the stove for added cooking time. Rule of thumb is to simmer it until no liquid pools when you make an indentation on the surface of the sauce. When canning, add ¼ tsp citric acid per pint to ensure adequate acidity.

Finished pizza sauce. 2 full pints plus a generous cup to use tonight.

Can in a boiling water bath for 25 minutes.  Yield: about 2 1/2 pints (5 cups)


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Strawberry-Rhubarb Popsicles are super fresh tasting and tongue tingling!

These are so delicious and perfect in the Spring when the strawberries are plump and juicy and the rhubarb is tart and crisp. The recipe will work with any fruit, though, so feel free to experiment. And with frozen fruit, you can make this any time of year. Yields 6 cups or so.

2 lbs frozen fruit, in this case: 1 lb strawberries, and 1 lb rhubarb
1 cu plain yogurt
2/3 cu sugar

Measure out 1 cup plain yogurt and put it into a food processor. Weigh your fruit, or check the labels on prepackaged frozen fruit.Top the yogurt with the frozen strawberries. 

Meanwhile, put the frozen rhubarb in a saucepan with the sugar and cook on medium heat. The rhubarb will release water allowing the sugar to dissolve.

Let the rhubarb cook in this syrup for a few minutes (I don’t recommend eating raw rhubarb, but it’s not bad or anything). Add the cooked rhubarb and syrup to the food processor.

It looks so pretty layered like this. Very patriotic.

Puree smooth.

It's getting going. . .


Pour into popsicle molds and freeze solid. You can also pour into freezer containers such as rubbermaid tubs. A serving would be 1/2 cup to 1 cup, and can be warmed briefly in the microwave to make a sorbet consistency. Yummy!

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This is my go-to recipe for making Apple Crisp in the fall as well, just substitute 5-8 apples for the fruit. It is so amazing warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Drool!

1 lb strawberries (can be fresh or frozen)
1 lb rhubarb (can be fresh or frozen)
¾ cup flour [healthiest substitution: ¼ cup whole wheat flour, ¼ cup white flour, ¼ cup ground flax seeds]
½ cup whole oats or plain oatmeal
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup canola oil
½ tsp cinnamon

Wash and hull the strawberries, then cut in half. Place in a bowl and set aside. Wash and de-string rhubarb (if necessary) and chop into ½ inch segments. Add to bowl with strawberries. Add ¼ cup of the brown sugar and toss.

Grease a 7 x 11 biscuit pan and pour the fruit mixture into the bottom of the pan. Preheat the oven to 375 F.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, ¼ cup brown sugar, and other dry ingredients. Cut in the oil with a fork, much like cutting in butter for biscuits. Mixture should be coarse and crumbly. Spread the topping on the fruit and bake in oven for 30-40 minutes.

Serves 6

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The Berry Bible by Janie Hibler

Despite the beautiful potential of the original (hardback) cover, this book is thick, wordy, and lacking the info I was expecting. Even in her introduction, she explains that not every berry is covered. Not every berry is pictured either, even though many types of blackberries and raspberries are pictured—all looking the same to me. Also, some fruit is pictured and not discussed, such as the pink and white currants. In the A-Z section, the relevant information to me would be: what does the plant look like, what does the fruit look like (color, size), and what does the fruit taste like? These key questions are not directly addressed, but some of that information can be gleaned from picking it out of the named paragraphs. The sections of info included about each berry are: name, classification, habitat & distribution, history, commercial growth, how to pick, how to buy, how to store, and notes for the cook. For example: she doesn’t describe the berry itself (or the flavor) but does mention that they will stain. So the berry therefore must be dark colored, right?

I would rewrite those sections as: Plant Growth and Range; Berry Information (info about season of ripeness, berry size and color, taste and traditional or native uses); How to Find (either commercially or wild picked), and Other useful information (such as picking tips, storage tips, and cleaning and cooking tips).

If you approach this book as a cookbook only, you’ll be rewarded with tons of recipes in every category you can imagine. But if you approach it like I did, as a “bible” of berry information, you will be disappointed. There are 70 pages of berry info (the “bible” section of the book, in my opinion), and 236 pages of recipes. There is also a section of colored photographs of some berries, but when you realize how many are not covered, this section become a bitter reminder of lost oportunities.

Original (hardback) Cover Art: This cover implies a botanical and historical wealth of information could be inside. Alas, it is not meant to be. . . The new cover as changed brings the focus back to using berries in the kitchen which is admittedly the true purpose of this book. 

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This tasty soup can be easily made with chicken too. The tomatoes really perk up otherwise flat tasting turkey stew. Serves 6

The Stew:
1 1/2 to 2 cups chopped cooked turkey meat
4 cups turkey broth
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 14 oz can stewed tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup flour

The Dumplings:
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp dried parsley
1 egg

Start by heating a bit of oil in the bottom of a soup pot and adding in the diced onions. Cook over medium heat until onions are transparent. Then add in the celery, carrots, and turkey meat. Cook briefly. Add in flour, thyme, salt, pepper and parsley. Stir to coat the veggies with the flour.

Add in the broth and the tomatoes. Turn heat up and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes or so.

Waiting for the soup to boil.

Meanwhile, make the dumplings by heating the water and butter in a small sauce pan to boiling. Measure out the flour, baking powder and parsley in a small bowl and stir to combine. Once the water and butter is boiling, quickly dump in the dry flour mixture and stir vigorously until a dough is formed. Remove from heat and let cool while the soup simmers.

This formed into a dough in mere seconds.

When the 15 minutes of simmering time is almost up, combine 1 egg with the cooled dumpling dough, whipping smooth (an immersion blender is excellent for this, otherwise just use a fork and a lot of elbow grease).

Drop the finished dumpling dough by tablespoons into the stew and cover with a lid. Cook with lid on for 20 minutes. At the end of cooking time, the dumplings will have more than doubled in size like fluffy pillows. Stir gently to scrape any veggies from the bottom of the pot.

I could almost take a nap on these fluffy dumplings.

Ladle into soup bowls.

Like my whisk? Check it out here. It’s super great at making roux and gravies. 

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Chocolate & Zucchini by Clotilde Dusoulier

This is a beautiful little book with very interesting recipes from a real French woman who happens to have a blog. I never heard of her until the title came up somewhere in passing. I mistakenly thought her book would feature either chocolate or zucchini in every recipe. Nope. She didn’t even have a recipe that included both ingredients until after she named her blog that. She chose a very classic chocolate cake, by the way.

Since the book didn’t meet my expectations, I will not be making any of her recipes. I’m not into French cooking (sorry Julia!), and the titles of the recipes being in French puts me off despite my 5 years as a French student. I like to page through and glance at the titles to see if I’d make the recipe. Since it’s in French (the English is just underneath but I can’t read the font easily), I have to go by the photographs (which are superb, by the way—I wish I could take food photos as good as her!) But anyway, it’s probably a great book if you are already a fan of hers, she’s an excellent writer and her recipes seem authentic and delicious. I do have to say though, her Chocolate-Dipped Hazelnut Marbles should be called by their proper name: Buckeyes. I’m an Ohioan, people.


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These seasonally appropriate muffins are both healthy and delicious.

These are so perfect at Thanksgiving time. I usually make up a batch and let everyone snack on them for breakfast or whatever and they’re gone in a flash. If you’re unsure about the orange zest, just include half as much to start. I always make mini-muffins: this recipe will make 24 minis, or 12 regular sized.

1 cu white flour
1 cu whole wheat flour
½ cu plus ¼ cu sugar (divided)
¼ cu cornmeal or ground flax seed
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 1/2 cu whole cranberries (fresh or frozen)
2 peeled whole oranges

1 egg at room temp
1/2 cu water
¼ cu sour cream or yogurt
¼ cu oil

Directions:1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease your muffin tins.

2. Combine dry ingredients (only ½ cu sugar) in large bowl.

3. In food processor, rough chop cranberries, orange zest, peeled oranges and ¼ cu sugar.

Dry ingredients in larger bowl; wet ingredients in the smaller.

4. Mix cranberry mixture with remaining wet ingredients, then fold into dry ingredients.

Pouring wet ingredients into dry; about to fold.

When folded, the batter will have a "foamy" appearance. Don't overmix!

5. Fill muffin tins ¾ full. Bake for 20-25 mins in center of oven.

Mini muffins can be filled more than 3/4ths full. This is about 3 tbsp or so of batter per cup.

The finished muffins. They'll spring back when poked. Easy and yummy!

6. Cool for 10 mins, then remove from tins.

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