Saturday, September 28, 2013

Coconut-Ginger Braised Chicken with Peppers and Carrots

I made this Thai-themed dish inspired by the last of the Thai basil (you can substitute cilantro, which is more plentiful this time of year) in the garden plus the colorful peppers and carrots that are coming in abundantly right now. You can use bone-in chicken parts if you like - no need to stick to thighs - but they will need to braise longer to be fully cooked. Serve this over rice.

Canola oil
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
3 Tbsp minced or grated ginger
1 1/2 - 2 lbs boneless chicken thighs
1 14-oz can coconut milk (lite is fine)
2 large sweet peppers, sliced the long way
2-3 large carrots, sliced into rounds or matchsticks
1 tsp lime juice, or to taste
Salt to taste
1/4 cup chopped Thai basil or cilantro

Heat a little canola oil in a large skillet or braising pan.  Add the shallots and ginger and saute over medium high heat for about 1 minute, then add the chicken. Brown quickly, turning over once, then add the coconut milk. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through.

Once the chicken is cooked through, add the vegetables and continue to simmer for a few minutes until they are tender but not too soft. Add lime juice and salt and stir to combine well. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.  Stir in the Thai basil or cilantro and remove from heat.

Serve hot over rice.

Serves 4-6.

Pizza with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Feta

Tangy, sweet, and salty with Fire Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and feta. A great way to enjoy some of the last flavors of summer. You can, of course, substitute tomatoes roasted in the oven. If you like, sprinkle a bit of chopped fresh parsley, sage, or thyme over the pizza after it comes out of the oven.

1 14-inch pizza crust
Olive oil
2-3 oz shredded mozzarella
1 1/2 - 2 cups Fire Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
1 large shallot, finely chopped
2-3 oz crumbled feta
Freshly ground black pepper
Finely chopped fresh herbs (optional) - 1 Tbsp parsley or 1 tsp sage or thyme

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Lightly paint the pizza crust with olive oil.

Spread the mozzarella over the crust, then add the tomatoes, shallot, and feta, and top with a bit of freshly ground black pepper.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, until crust is done and cheese begins to brown. Top with herbs if desired.

Serves 3-4.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Pickled Jalapenos

This recipe comes from Massachusetts author Sherry Vinton's wonderful preserving book Put 'Em Up. You can use it for any kind of chili peppers. The pickling process mellows their heat considerably, but they still retain a little kick. The hotter the pepper you start with, the more kick retained. I like to use jalapenos and Hungarian hot wax or banana peppers. If you like the pickled flavor but not the heat, try sweet peppers. Once opened, a jar of these will keep for ages in the fridge.  Great for nachos, tacos or quesadillas, scrambled eggs, homemade salsa, etc.

If you want to make more or less than this recipe calls for, just keep in mind that each pound of fresh peppers equals roughly one quart (or equivalent) of pickled peppers.

2 lbs jalapenos or other chili peppers
3 cups distilled white vinegar
2 cups water
2 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar

Stem the peppers and slice them into rounds. You may want to use rubber gloves for this. If you opt to use your bare hands, be sure to scrub them very thoroughly with soap afterwards to avoid unpleasantness the next time you rub your eyes or some other sensitive area.

Prepare the brine by bringing the vinegar, water, salt, and sugar just to a boil then turning off the heat.

Pack the peppers tightly into jars (I like to do this in half pint jars but you can do pints as well). Using a funnel, ladle the brine over the peppers, leaving about a quarter inch of head space at the top. Wipe the rims clean, then place the lids on and add the rings, screwing them until until just 'fingertip tight'.

Process the jars in a boiling water bath, 10 minutes for half pints or 15 minutes for pints. Remove from the water and let cool for 24 hours. If any jars fail to seal, put them in the fridge and use them soon.

Makes 4 to 4 1/2 pints.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Fire Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Late blight has done in all of our tomato plants except one at this point - but that one, a Matt's Wild cherry tomato, is going strong and proving remarkably resistant. Plus the tomatoes are great!  Today I fire roasted some on the grill along with some of our very last Golden Sweet tomatoes, a sweet yellow grape tomato that was the second-to-last left. Try these on pizza, tossed with pasta, or on their own as a side dish. 

1 lb cherry or grape tomatoes (slice larger ones in half)
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Toss the tomatoes in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, and pepper until well coated. 

Fire up the grill. Place the tomatoes in a grill basket and grill over medium-high heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring 2-3 times over the course of the cooking. Remove from heat when tender and nicely browned in places.

Makes 1 1/2 - 2 cups.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Fresh Tomatoes for Sauce

This is not so much a recipe as an advance preparation technique. You can use this for nearly any type of tomato (I don't recommend it for cherry or grape tomatoes unless they're quite large, just because the work involved doesn't seem worth it), including the juiciest slicers, and end up with a product that's good for making sauce without hours and hours of simmering down. You can do this in a small batch for a single dinner or in large quantities to freeze.

Blanched and seeded, ready to drain in the colander
Start by coring your tomatoes and cutting out any bad spots.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  While you wait for it to boil, prepare a large bowl of ice water nearby.

Carefully drop the tomatoes into the pot of boiling water to blanch them for peeling - as many as will comfortably fit.  After 1 minute, scoop them out with a slotted spoon and place them into the ice water. After a couple minutes, scoop them out of the ice water. Repeat with as many batches as you have.

Peel your blanched tomatoes. The skin should slip right off.

Once peeled, slice each tomato open. If you're using paste tomatoes, you can just scoop out the seeds and place seeded tomatoes in a colander over the sink or a large bowl.  If you're using slices or the like, break them into a few pieces and squeeze carefully in your hand - do this over a bowl! You want all the seeds and much of the excess liquid to go into the bowl below while holding onto the tomato flesh. Once you're satisfied with the amount of seeds and liquid squeezed out, toss the flesh into the colander.

Let the seeded and squeezed tomatoes sit in the colander for a bit, shaking or stirring them a few times to encourage excess liquid to drain off.  Once this is done, the tomatoes are ready to use or freeze. (I free them in quart freezer bags, about 3 cups per bag, pressed out kind of flat for tidy storage and faster thawing. You can thaw them in warm water.)