Saturday, September 28, 2013

Gazpacho with Basil and Parsley

Bowl of Gazpacho Garnished with Parsley
Refreshing and Healthful

Recipe by Robin

After the delicious results of preparing cousin Sheila’s Mexican-style Gazpacho, I wanted to find a more traditional Spanish recipe. However, the original gazpacho turns out to be an entirely different soup, dating back to Greek and Roman civilizations. Its main components were bread, olive oil, water, vinegar, and garlic. Or perhaps the Moors brought a similar gazpacho, sans vinegar, to Andalucia. In any case, tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers weren’t added until they arrived from the New World in the 16th century. Given the bounty of these veggies at my house, sticking with the ancient tradition was not an option. As usual in the gardener’s kitchen, necessity was the mother of invention.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Turkey Stuffed Peppers

6 Stuffed Peppers in Baking Dish
Ready to Bake

Recipe adapted from Mom’s

As of last week it’s been 10 years since my mom died. Cooking was her passion, and it was indeed sad when she had to give it up due to disability in her latter years. Still, she remained interested in food and its preparation till the end, watching cooking show on TV and perusing menus from local restaurants. Even when she was barely able to feed herself, she enjoyed a rich variety of foods and knew which menu items were tastiest. Like many of Mom’s recipes that I’ve blogged, stuffed peppers were made without a written recipe.  Throughout the years I’ve made many attempts to recreate this classic Polish recipe.  Finally, I’ve gotten pretty darn close.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Parmesan Crusted Broiled Sole

Large plate of fish with Salsa, Avocado, Lime, and Cilantro in background
Perfectly Browned Fish with Garnishes

Recipe adapted from Let's Cook

Correct me if I’m wrong, but broiled fish doesn’t sound very exciting. Especially in a class called “Succulent Seafood,” where it shares billing with bouillabaisse, seared scallops with beurre blanc, and grilled salmon with lime butter. And yet, when all was said, done, cooked, and tasted, the simplest recipe turned out to be my favorite. Instructor Eric Carter, who directs the best culinary arts program around, at Cabrillo College in Aptos, shared a surprising ingredient to make crusted broiled fish extra-crispy: Parmesan cheese! What’s not to like?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Spicy Salsa with Lime, Home Canned

Four pints of homemade salsa
Salsa Stash for Winter

Recipe adapted from National Center for Home Food Preservation

I inadvertently made one of the best cooked salsas I’ve ever tasted last week. In trying to use up enormous quantities of u-pick tomatoes and peppers, I discovered the National Center of Home Food Production at University of Georgia. NCHFP is a treasure trove of safe recipes for home canners. Their Choice Salsa ingredients allow the cook plenty of creativity in proportion and types of peppers and onions used. High acidity is their key to staying safe, as in all canning. In this recipe, acidity is accomplished deliciously with lime juice, lemon juice, or a combination. Try my decidedly lime-flavored scaled-down recipe (4 pints), or check out NCHFP’s recipe and make up your own variations.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September Veggies and Recipes

Red and Green Dogwood Leaves
September Dogwood

Change is in the Air

The golden light of a September day is a delight to all, especially gardeners. As we approach the equinox, we see both the culmination of our summer harvest and the approaching winter. There is plenty to appreciate, plenty to harvest, plenty to preserve. It’s an ideal time to freeze, can, and dry the bounty from farm and garden. Tomatoes can be dried, cut in half and frozen, or made into tomato sauce and frozen. I’ll be posting this month about my first adventures in tomato canning. A little effort now will perk up meals during darker days.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Mexican Style Gazpacho: Chilled Veggie Soup

Bowl of Gazpacho with Avocado and Yogurt Garnish
Colorful, Seasonal, and Yummy

Recipe by Sheila

My cousin Sheila and I met at a party, and it seemed like we’d known each other forever. Technically, we weren’t cousins yet, since she married into the Horn family years before I did. We shared thoughts on gardening, homesteading, and cooking. I was intrigued that she was fixing up an old farmhouse in Idaho, where she grew and preserved crops. We began emailing recipes to each other, and she sent me this gazpacho recipe back in 2002. When I visited shortly thereafter, Sheila made us a garden-based dinner of vegetarian goodies. She assigned preparation of the gazpacho to my hubby’s sister and me, while she prepared more complicated dishes like chili relleno. Gazpacho results were fresh and savory, even though Lisa and I forgot to add the salsa.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Salsa Fresca: Fresh Tomato Salsa

Bowl of Salsa with Tomatoes, Lime, Sliced Avocado, Cilantro
Serve with Other Classic Mexican Garnishes

Recipe by Robin

I have a confession to make. I’ve never actually made salsa fresca before. It seems like a no-brainer recipe for a gardener in these days of abundant tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro, but I thought that there must be some tricks to salsa besides fresh veggies. And indeed there are: a couple of aromatics, a bit of acidic flavoring, and some salt. That’s it. The other reason I’ve not made salsa is the mystery of what to eat with it. I don’t want to encourage myself to eat lots of tortilla chips. And being spoiled by the variety of authentic Mexican food available in the neighborhood, I’ve not been motivated to develop my Mexican cooking skills. But tonight I’m making Parmesan-breadcrumb encrusted broiled sole, a recipe from a cooking class way back in May. Fresh salsa will perk up the visual appeal of this fish as well as complimenting its flavor.