Saturday, August 15, 2015

Pureed Summer Vegetable Soup with Basil and Italian Sausage

This was excellent, tasting thoroughly of summer in every spoonful. Feel free to skip the sausage for a lighter soup. You can be quite approximate with the quantity of each vegetable. You can substitute zucchini for the summer squash if you like, but a nice yellow summer squash combines with the corn and tomatoes to yield a lovely pale orange soup. (Hat tip to my sister Tara for this recipe idea!)

Olive oil
2 large shallots, finely chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs summer squash, sliced
2-3 cups seeded chopped tomatoes
2 cups corn kernels
1 Parmesan rind (optional but nice if you happen to have one)
Chicken or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb cooked Italian sausage, sliced into thin rounds or diced
1 - 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh basil

Heat a little olive oil in a Dutch oven. Add the shallots and garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes over medium heat. Add the squash and continue to saute over medium high heat for another 3-5 minutes, until the squash begins to soften. Add the tomatoes, corn, and Parmesan rind (if using), then add enough chicken or vegetable stock to cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the veggies are tender, about 10 minutes.

Remove the Parmesan rind from the pot and puree the vegetable mixture using an immersion blender. Add salt and pepper to taste, then stir in the sausage and basil. Remove from heat and serve hot.

Serves 4-6.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Asian Tomato Peach Barbecue Sauce

This sweet-tangy-savory sauce is adapted from a recipe in Put 'Em Up by Sherri Brooks Vinton, one of my favorite books for food preservation ideas. This recipe is suitable for canning (or freezing if you like).

To easily peel either peaches or tomatoes, dunk them in boiling water for 30 seconds or so then transfer to ice water. Once they are cool enough to handle,

To speed up your simmering time, one trick is to use frozen fruit and/or tomatoes - let them thaw and drain off the excess liquid before making the recipe.

3 lbs peaches, pitted and sliced (peeling optional)
3 lbs paste tomatoes, cored, peeled, and seeded
1 3/4 cup cider vinegar
2/3 cup soy sauce
6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup grated or minced ginger root, or more to taste
1 3/4 cup brown sugar
3 star anise, tied up in cheesecloth or a tea bag

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and let simmer for an hour or so. Remove the start anise and puree the rest. If the consistency is good, can, freeze or refrigerate the result. If still too thin, continue to simmer until it reaches desired consistency (remembering that it will be thicker once cool than it is when hot).

To can, process using the hot water method. Process pint jars for 10 minutes or half-pint jars for 5 minutes.

Makes about 2 1/2 pints.

Eggplant Ricotta Bake

Chunks of roasted eggplant are baked in tomato sauce with ricotta and a topping of ground walnuts. Mix the basil in before baking or sprinkle it fresh over the top before serving.

2 medium Italian style eggplants, peeled and cubed
2 large shallots or a small onion, finely chopped
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 1/2 cups good quality tomato sauce
16 ounces good quality ricotta
1 cup walnut pieces, ground or minced
1 cup chopped fresh basil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the eggplant cubes with the shallot and garlic in a 10x13-inch baking dish. Drizzle generously with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. (Note that the eggplant will easily absorb all the oil; do not add more.) Bake for 20 minutes then remove from oven. Turn the temperature down to 350 degrees.

Pour the tomato sauce over the eggplant mixture and mix well. It should be well sauced but not too soupy. Dot spoonfuls of ricotta over the surface. Top with basil and walnuts if desired, or just walnuts with the basil reserved for fresh topping after baking.

Bake again for 15-20 minutes. Serve hot, optionally topping with fresh basil.

Serves 4-6.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Crustless Quiche Muffins with Tomatoes, Feta, and Fresh Herbs

I made these for a recent brunch. By using muffin papers you can skip the crust without ruining your pans. Another benefit is that it's easy to make a variety of different kinds because you can put the fillings in the muffin cups and then add the eggs. This high summer version with fresh tomatoes and herbs was a hit. Feel free to halve the recipe if you're not feeding company. For the herbs, you can go heavy on the basil and/or parsley. If relying more on oregano or dill, use less.

Cooked quiche muffins
16 eggs
2 cups milk (whole is nice, but use whatever you like)
1 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
1 large paste tomato or 2 smaller ones, finely diced
1 cup chopped fresh herbs
4 ounces crumbled feta

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place paper muffin cups into muffin tins or ramekins and oil them lightly if you have an oil sprayer. The recipe makes around 2 dozen quiche muffins.

Beat the eggs in a medium bowl, then stir in the milk, salt, and pepper.

Place a tablespoon or so each of tomatoes, herbs, and feta in the bottom of each muffin cup. Using a ladle, pour egg mixture over, filling to about 1/4 inch from the top.

Fillings in the muffin cups, ready for egg mixture to be added
Bake the quiche muffins for 20-25 minutes, until cooked through.

Serve hot, warm, or room temperature.

Serves about 6.

Peanut Sauce

This isn't based on local ingredients, but it's a great condiment for noodles, vegetables, and even new potatoes.

1/3 - 1/2 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice vinegar 
3 Tbsp peanut or canola oil 
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter (preferably natural)
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
2-3 tsp chili paste 
Up to 1/4 cup water
Up to 1/4 cup sugar or honey (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Add water as needed to reach desired consistency.

Makes enough to sauce 1 lb of noodles, 2 lbs of potatoes, or vegetables to serve 6.

Squash Noodles

Another squash for pasta nutrition boosting substitution. The squash has more of a slight crunch instead of chewiness, but it works well here. I served these with Peanut Sauce and we all loved it, even my skeptical seven-year-old. I think they would work well on their own with just the olive oil, salt, and pepper, or you could try tomato sauce, pesto, Alfredo sauce, or toss with some fresh herbs.

3 medium summer squash or zucchinis
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Use a vegetable peeler to cut the squash into long ribbons. Work your way around each squash lengthwise until you start to get to the seeds in the middle; discard the core. Toss the noodles in a colander with a sprinkle of salt and let sit for 15-20 minutes to release excess liquid.

After the squash has sat, press down gently to drain off the liquid it has released.

Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet. Add the drained squash. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Saute, stirring gently, for 2-3 minutes until just tender. Remove from heat and drain again if needed. Serve warm or room temperature.

Serves 3-4.