Friday, July 27, 2012

Eating Down The Refrigerator: Simple Broccoli Quiche

I grocery shop, and visit food hautes with the best of intentions. I have menu planning ideas of grandeur for my family.  The very thought of bulk-food, fresh food and hard to find items, makes me weak.  

Whole Foods and Trader Joe's will make their debut in this sleepy Florida capitol city, that I call home.  God save me.  My family may not be able to control me.

I grow food with the best of intentions too. Being a novice gardener, it can be hit or miss.  When it's a "hit" watch out.  The garden has a way of giving gifts that never know when it is time to make an exit, it just keeps giving.  I am even learning to preserve fruits and my garden veggies.  Just look at my pantry shelves. 

Did I mention that we picked 40-quarts of blackberries? Purchased 20-lbs of fresh South Carolina peaches too? All packed in the freezer or preserved in jars.

I went through a phase that only freshly baked bread ( in my bread maker) was what my family was going to enjoy-it also meant that I purchased 50-lbs of bread flour. Really? Yes, really.

I have an idea that a stand-up freezer is necessary, next to my garage refrigerator, to store my fresh organic chicken that I will be picking up in September (thank goodness, my sister in law is sharing with me) or the idea that a freshly butchered whole organic pig should stuff my freezer shelves too.

Yet, I stare lazily into my pantry, refrigerator/freezer, and my imaginary freezer and mutter "I don't know what to make for dinner" Seriously? Yup, that's what I do.

This week, I stared into my food abyss.  Surely, I can put a few ingredients here together on the fly, and then proudly slap myself on the back.  That's exactly what I did.  

A simple broccoli quiche using my frozen garden broccoli, I made two. One for dinner and one for next time, when I stare wonder eyed into my food abyss-asking "what's for dinner?"

Broccoli Quiche
Recipe from All Recipes

2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, minced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
2 cups fresh broccoli, chopped (note: if using frozen, thaw it out)
1-9-inch unbaked pie crust
1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese or other shredded cheese
4 eggs, well beaten
1-1/2 cups milk or cream
1 tablespoon butter, melted
Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste.
A dash of nutmeg

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 F or 170 C.

2.  Over medium-low heat melt butter in a large saucepan.  Add onions, garlic and broccoli.  Cook slowly, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft.  Spoon vegetables into the crust and sprinkle with cheese.

3.  Combine eggs and milk. Season with salt, pepper and a dash of nutmeg. Stir in melted butter.  Pour egg mixture over vegetables and cheese.

4. Bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes or the center is set. Let rest for a few minutes and it is ready.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Lazaro Cooks 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Dirt to Table Experience: Fig and Vanilla Jam

My fig tree is loaded down with ripe figs. The feeling when I am pulling the branches down low to pull the fruit is a delightful one.  I am not even cussing at the birds who steal their fair share of the fruit. The small figs are perfectly ripe and their brown skins are soft to the touch. This season included a good amount of rainfall (thanks tropical storm Debby) and with that good early summer rainfall, our fig tree did not disappoint.

This year we picked  about 15 -20 lbs of ripe figs off our single tree.

What the heck do you do with pounds and pounds of fresh figs that have a shelf life of almost zero once picked from the tree?  Of course silly, you make jam!

This is a densely fruited jam that can be served with sweet or savory food, or with cheese and cold ham sandwiches. The hint of vanilla is a really nice addition.  Did I mention how easy this jam was to make?

Fig and Vanilla Jam
Makes about 2-1/2 lbs. or 3 medium jars

1-1/2 lbs. (675g) ripe figs with soft skins, trimmed and cut into quarters
Zest and juice of 1 organic lemon, washed
1 small cooking apple, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped
1 vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise
3-1/2 cups granulated sugar

1.  Put the figs in a preserving pan or a large heavy-bottomed saucepan with lemon zest and juice, chopped apple, and vanilla pod.  Cook over low heat for about 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until the figs have softened and broken down.

2.  Add the sugar and cook over low heat, stirring continuously, until the sugar has all dissolved.  Then bring to a boil and cook at a rolling boil, stirring occasionally, for about 15-20 minutes or until it reaches the setting point.  Skim away any residue as it cooks.  Remove the pan from the heat while you test for a set ( temp at 220 F.)

3. Carefully remove the vanilla bean, then ladle into warm sterilized mason jars, leaving 1/4-inch (5mm) headspace.  Process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes then cover, seal with two-part top, and label.  Store in a cool, dark place, and refrigerate after opening.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Christine Kim and Fresh Local and Best

Friday, July 13, 2012

Fresh Grilled Pineapple Crush Cocktail

Welcome to the dog days of summer...And the opportunity to rethink your cookout drinks.  Put away your watery beer, and trade it in for something a little extra-special. You deserve better and so do your guests.

Fresh Grilled Pineapple Crush
Recipe by Marshall Altier, Bartender at JBird Cocktails in Manhattan

Grill fresh pineapple wedges over direct high heat until they soften and have dark grill marks, 3 to 5 minutes.  For each drink, muddle 2 grilled wedges with 3/4 ounce of simple syrup (1 part sugar dissolved in 1 part water) and 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract.  Pour into a shaker along with 2-ounces of Jamaican rum, such as Denizen, and 1-ounce of fresh lime juice.  Add ice, shake, and strain into a cocktail glass over ice.  Garnish with a slice of pineapple lightly dusted with black pepper, and a slice of lime if desired.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Photo submitted by Chef Christo Gonzalez

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tacos al Pastor-Classic Mexican Street Food

Street food is real-it can be powerful. It represents the energy of a local community that gathers to eat, to socialize, to connect.

With a few fresh key ingredients, preparing this Mexican classic pork taco dish hot off my backyard grill is the best way we can honor this dish, it is easy to serve a few or a crowd.

You just need a few ice cold beers to bring this dish in for a landing.

Tacos al Pastor
Serves 4
Recipe from Men's Health

2 Tbsp. white vinegar
1/2 Tbsp. orange juice
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 Tbsp. chipotle pepper in adobo
1/2 tsp. guajillo pepper powder or chili powder
Pinch cinnamon
1-lb. pork loin, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
Salt and pepper
1 avocado, pitted and peeled
1 cup store-bought salsa verde
2 thick slices pineapple
8 corn tortillas, warmed
1 handful cilantro, chopped
Lime wedges


Prepare the marinade:
In a food processor or blender, blend the first seven ingredients to a puree and pour the mixture into a large resealable plastic bag.  Season the pork slices with salt and pepper and add them to the bag.  Refrigerate for at least an hour (and up to 4)before cooking.

Make the salsa verde
When you are ready to cook, preheat the grill, or grill pan on high.  In a small mixing bowl, mash the avocado to a coarse paste.  Then stir in the salsa verde to form a thick sauce.  Set aside.

Cook the pork:
Remove the meat from the marinade and grill until browned and firm, 2 to 3 minutes on each side.  Meanwhile grill the pineapple until light grill marks develop, 2 to 3 minutes a side.

Fold the tortillas and fill them with pork and pineapple: add salsa verde and cilantro and serve with lime wedges.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 236th Birthday America!

May you enjoy the day with family, friends and plenty of good food.

Photo from Bing Images