Eetch

IMG_2552Eetch (pronounced Yeetch) is a traditional Armenian side dish made from Bulgar wheat. It is similar to tabbouleh but much thicker and grainier, and not as tart. Its color is derived from tomato paste and tomato sauce. It is a great way to use summer vegetables, another take on salads, and you can add as much spice as you wish.  I think the next batch I make I will omit cayenne pepper, but add some chopped jalapeno!  OK, I know that is not traditional, but we could call that Texas Eetch!

Eetch – Armenian Bulgur Salad

1 medium onion, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

1/2 cup olive oil

1 Tablespoon tomato paste ( I buy tubes of tomato paste rather than cans, so easy to use small amounts)

1 8 oz. can tomato sauce

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup water (just measure by rinsing the tomato sauce can)

1 1/2 cups Bulgar

chopped parsley

juice of 1 lemon or more to taste, optional

a pinch of cayenne pepper ( to taste, and optional)

Heat olive oil in large sauce pan. Add onion, green pepper, 1 T tomato paste and salt, Cook over medium heat about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add tomato sauce, water, and when back to boiling, stir in bulgur, mixing well.  Cover, remove from heat and   let stand.  Fluff and stir in parsley plus lemon juice and cayenne if using.  Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.   This is beautiful served on a Romaine lettuce leaf with a sprinkle of chopped fresh tonatoes and green onions, but also works well as a side dish or  a stuffing for peppers.

Mary Ann’s Favorite Morning Casserole

IMG_1062 There are hundreds of make- ahead  egg based breakfast casserole recipes! Our church has a famous sausage and egg casserole recipe that gets passed around every year at Easter when we all have breakfast together in between an early Easter service in the prayer garden and a later one at regular worship time. I love that recipe because it reminds me of Easter and our church family. I am fond of another recipe that uses hash browns along with eggs, peppers, and onions. There are Southwestern style breakfast casseroles served with plenty of salsa that are delicious.  But this casserole is my hands down favorite for making breakfast special.  I like to make it when we have overnight guests and pop it into the oven to bake while we have coffee in the kitchen.  I found the original recipe in a cookbook called Breakfast in Bed collated by Carol Frieberg which is a collection of wonderful breakfast recipes from various B&B’s and inns in the Pacific Northwest. This one is a favorite at Pensione Nichols in Seattle, Washington – located in a residence that is over 100 years old in the historic Pikes Place Market in downtown Seattle. I modified the recipe’s seasoning, and have used a variety of toppings.  It is delicious served with fresh fruit.

Mary Ann’s Favorite Morning Casserole

Prepare the day before:

16 slices white bread (thin slice) with crusts trimmed

16 slices Canadian bacon

16 slices sharp cheddar cheese

6  large eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped green pepper

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

3 cups whole milk

1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

For topping  – add the next morning before baking

1/2 cup butter

1 cup crushed cornflakes or other unsweetened cereal of your choice

 

In a large Pyrex baking dish (9X13 inch), place 8 of the bread slices. On top of this, layer all slices of Canadian bacon. Then ladd all slices of cheese. Place remaining 8 slices of bread on top.  In a mixing bowl, whisk eggs, then add milk, all seasonings, onion and green pepper. Pour evenly over the layers of bread, cheese, and Canadian Bacon, pressing slightly with back of spoon.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt butter and drizzle evenly over top of casserole.  Crush cornflakes and sprinkle on top.  Bake uncovered for 1 hour.  Remove from oven, let stand for about 10 minutes, and serve.

Cook’s notes:  I like to stand my stick of butter in a small ceramic cream pitcher or pyrex liquid measuring cup and microwave for 1 minute or until melted.  Then it is easy to drizzle the melted butter evenly on top of the casserole.  For the crushed cornflakes, place cereal in a Ziploc bag and crush with the heel of your hand on top of counter. Easy!

Mediterranean Baked Squash

IMG_1006

A trip to a local Farmers’ Market recently yielded some beautiful late season summer squash – yellow crook-neck and deep green zucchini. By adding the yellow, red, and purple peppers plus herbs from our garden, this easy to bake dish is full of flavor as well as color. It is a ratatouille style dish but does not include eggplant. I made it twice last week, once for our table, and once to take to a choir potluck supper. It was well received at both places!

Mediterranean Baked Squash

2 large yellow squash, sliced in thin rounds

2 large zucchini, sliced in thin rounds

2 cups crushed tomatoes

1 Tablespoon olive oil, plus additional for drizzling on top

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 red pepper, sliced

1 purple or green pepper, sliced

1 yellow pepper, sliced

4 garlic cloves, minced

fresh basil, chopped

fresh or dried thyme

sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

a piece of parchment paper cut to fit inside of baking dish top

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spray baking dish with cooking spray. Spread crushed tomatoes over bottom of dish.  Add olive oil, onions, and garlic and stir to blend.  Layer squash and peppers with alternating colors, starting at edges of the dish and working toward center, overlapping slightly.  Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and cracker pepper, basil and thyme.

Place parchment paper cut to fit inside baking dish on top of vegetables and bake for 40 minutes or until vegetables are tender but not mushy. Remove parchment and serve.

 

 

 

 

 

Stuffed Garden Peppers

IMG_0735If you think ground meat and rice stuffing when you think of stuffed peppers, these peppers will surprise you.  Typically, a savory stuffing with some variation of beef and rice is stuffed into green Bell peppers before baking. For this version, I wanted to use Gypsy peppers from our garden.  They are only slightly spicy, and can be eaten when they are pale green, or, as here, brilliant shades of orange and red. They are smaller than most of the sweet peppers we get, and can be stuffed whole, or cut in half and filled for appetizer portions. I used a combination of goat cheese, garlic, and herbs, also from our garden..

Garden Peppers Stuffed with Goat Cheese

6 small red and orange sweet peppers (packaged mini peppers will do if peppers don’t grow in your garden!)

8 ounces goat cheese

2 cloves of garlic, diced

6 large basil leaves, chopped

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

olive oil

sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash peppers and pat dry before slicing off stem end and removing seeds. In baking dish, pour enough olive oil to spread over bottom of pan. Add peppers, turning to coat and spreading olive oil inside and out with your fingers.  Mix cheese and herbs with salt and pepper to taste, then use a small spoon to stuff into peppers. Add a sprinkle of sea salt over top of peppers.  Bake for 15 or 20 minutes, or until peppers are fork tender. This is a wonderful light supper when served with a salad, but is also a beautiful addition to grilled meats..

 

 

Marinated Cucumbers with Basil

IMG_0633
A variation of sliced cucumbers seasoned with salt and pepper and covered with vinegar, my new favorite side for grilled fish, meats or sandwiches is this delicious Marinated Cucumber and Basil.  This is derived from a Japanese style pickle which uses Shiso instead of Basil. Shiso is an aromatic Asian herb which is becoming more popular but I do not have a good source for it, and I love basil. I added a just picked glossy jalapeno pepper, and the result was a perfect combination of sweet and heat served with a crunch.  If you can’t take the heat, leave out the pepper, but be sure to try this. Try the marinade on carrots, radishes, onions, or almost any other summer vegetable.  I like zucchini rounds!

Marinated Cucumber and Basil

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

3 Tablespoons sweet  Mirin, a Japanese rice wine

1 Tablespoon sea salt

2 English cucumbers

1 seeded, sliced jalapeno pepper

8 or 10 large fresh basil leaves

Mix sugar, vinegar, Mirin, and salt in glass or pottery bowl (non-reactive).  Whisk until salt and sugar are dissolved.  Slice cucumber very thin.  Wash and pat basil leaves dry, then stack them and roll them. You may shred with a small sharp knife or cut across with kitchen shears..  Add cucumber slices and basil to marinade, tossing to cover as well as possible.  They will shrink as they marinate.  Cover and refrigerate for several hours.

 

 

The Real Dill

IMG_1629

 In Texas, we consider dill a cool-weather annual. Plant this herb in the fall, typically mid- to late October, and you can begin harvesting leaves around eight weeks later. It prefers temperatures between 40º and 78º F, but you’ll find mature plants are frost-tolerant.

Our dill harvest is usually over long before we have much to pickle. To preserve dill for the cucumber or okra harvest yet to come, cut fresh dill fronds and bloom heads into segments  2 to 3 inches in length. Fill a gallon-sized glass jar with the dill segments and completely cover with white vinegar (or your pickling vinegar of choice). If the jar has a metal lid, be certain to cover the jar first with a double layer of plastic wrap before screwing on the metal lid. This will prevent corrosion. Place the jar in a cool, dark place until you’re ready to start pickling your harvest. By then, your pickling vinegar will be well flavored and can be used as directed in a favorite recipe. I found this information in  a Texas Gardener magazine article.

One of our family’s favorite “real dills” is pickled okra. To use the preserved dill and vinegar as described above, use this recipe for small batches of pickled vegetables. We also like to add sliced jalapenos.

Basic Pickling Liquid

2 cups dill infused cider vinegar
1 cup water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 whole cloves garlic
3 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
1/4 cup equal parts mustard seed, black peppercorns, coriander seed, dill seed and lightly crushed red pepper (approx. 2-1/2 teaspoons each)

Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive saucepan and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Pour hot liquid over clean, prepared vegetables, add some of the reserved dill leaves and stems from the dill vinegar, and refrigerate until well flavored.

IMG_1772

Linguini with Shrimp and Arugula

001

 

I love tangy bitter greens in salads, but the added flavor arugula brings to this sauce for linguini is amazing.  Preparation is simple even though a few steps are necessary for the sauce to come out right.  A fresh bunch of arugula from our CSA share this past week paired well with these ingredients.  We will make this again soon! Recipe is adapted from one found at http://www.epicurious.com, printed in a 1993 issue of Epicurious.

 

Shrimp and Arugula with Linguini.

yield:Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 pound shrimp (about 12), shelled and deveined
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried hot pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup canned chopped plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 bunch of arugula, the stems discarded and the leaves washed wel
  • 3 tablespoons minced Italian parsley
  • 2 tablespoons minced sweet basil
  • 1/2 pound linguini

In a heavy skillet heat oil until it is hot but not smoking,and sauté shrimp,  garlic, and  pepper flakes, stirring until the shrimp are pink and almost cooked through. Take out shrimp with a slotted spoon and reserve.

In the same skille,  add onion, tomatoes, and salt and pepper to taste and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the vegetables are tender. Add whitee wine and simmer until the wine is reduced by half. Add broth, simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, and stir in the cream. Simmer the sauce until it is thickened slightly, then stir in arugula and shrimp, and simmeruntil the shrimp are cooked through. Stir in the parsley, basil, salt and pepper and keep the sauce warm, covered. In a kettle of boiling salted water cook linguini until al dente.  Drain pasta, then combine with sauce in large bowl.  serve with shaved parmesan on top and add a slice of crusty French bread.

Spicy Soba Noodles

013

There are so many different kinds of pasta that sometimes we miss trying types of Asian noodles that are so delicious.  I have a new favorite dish made with soba noodles. Soba is the Japanese word for buckwheat, synonymous with a type of thin noodle made from buckwheat flour. Using soba noodles instead of white-flour spaghetti is a good way to cut back on calories and carbs. In fact, you can cut your calories almost in half by making the swap. Due to their buckwheat content, soba noodles are a slow-releasing carbohydrate with a low glycemic index.

I have eaten soba in soups before, as well as served cold with dipping sauces, but I discovered a blog post on Molly Parr’s blog Cheap Beets which sounded so good that I tried it this week.  It can be found on many food websites since the publication of the cookbook Plenty, published by Yotam Ottolenghi, a London chef and food columnist.  I modified the recipe only slightly, shown by my notes in parentheses. It is good as a vegetarian entree, or topped with grilled shrimp or chicken. Either way, it is a flavorful combination of sweet and heat that you will enjoy.  When you read the recipe, don’t be discouraged by all the steps. While the water is heating you can prep the mango and eggplant, and cook the eggplant while the noodles cook. It all took me about 30 minutes, but it is important to let the mixture marinate for an hour or longer.  Adding the remainder of the chopped fresh herbs at serving time gives an extra surge of bright flavor.

Spicy Soba Noodles with Eggplant and Mango
 ½ cup rice vinegar
3 Tbs. sugar
½ tsp. salt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
½ fresh red chile, finely chopped
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
1 cup sunflower oil (or your cooking oil preference)
2 eggplants, cut into ¾-inch dice (I only used 1 because that is what I had)
9 oz. soba noodles
1 large ripe mango, cut into half inch cubes
1 1/2 cup basil leaves, chopped (if you use Thai basil, use much less of it)
2 ½ cups cilantro leaves, chopped
½ red onion, very thinly sliced
 
In a small saucepan gently warm the vinegar, sugar and salt for up to 1 minute, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add garlic, chile and sesame oil. Allow to cool, then add lime zest and juice.
Heat oil in a large pan and fry the eggplant in several batches to avoid crowding. Once golden brown, remove to a colander, sprinkle liberally with salt and leave to drain.
Cook the noodles in plenty of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally. They should take 5 to 8 minutes to become tender but still al dente. Drain and rinse well under running cold water. Shake off as much of the excess water as possible, then leave to dry on a dish towel. This step really helps dry the noodles off so they absorb marinade better.
In a mixing bowl toss the noodles with the dressing, mango, eggplant, half of the herbs and the onion. Set aside for 1 to 2 hours. When ready to serve add the rest of the herbs and mix well before serving.  
014

Mango Salsa

IMG_0217Tomato salsa  may be our most frequent accompaniment to eggs, Mexican food, and tortilla chips – but fruit salsas compete strongly for favorites.  Among those, mango salsa is at the top of the list.  It may be hard to save a mango or two when I bring them home because we love them plain and with Greek yogurt.  Last week I used the last two out of a carton of six to make this beautiful topping for baked fish. I have also used it to layer over a roasted pork tenderloin or to dress up grilled chicken breasts.  If there happens to be any leftover, we pull out the corn chips and have a snack.

Mango Salsa

2 mangos, peeled and diced*
2 medium Jalapenos, seeded and diced
1/2 small red onion, chopped fine
2 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves
Salt and pepper
Combine the mango, , Jalapeno, red onion, lime juice and cilantro leaves and mix well. Season with salt and pepper, to taste
* I wash and pat dry the mango, stand vertically with stem end down, and with a sharp knife, slice down by the side of the large seed, repeating on the other side.  Then lay each mango half in the palm of my left hand, and with a small paring knife, carefully cut into the mango, making diagonal cuts in opposite directions. Then I turn the mango half inside out, and the cut sections pop out.  These can easily be scraped off with a spoon or the paring knife.

 

Salmon Hash

IMG_0052

Mary Ann’s Salmon Hash

 This is a great way to use leftover baked or grilled salmon and leftover baked potatoes!

4-5 ounces baked or grilled salmon, skin removed and coarsely shredded

1 small baked potato, peeled and diced

5 green onions, chopped

¼ cup green pepper, chopped

2 Tablespoons fresh dill, chopped

1 lemon, cut in half

1 Tablespoon butter

salt and pepper, to taste

Melt butter and olive oil in non-stick skillet.  Add green onion and green pepper, followed by salmon and potato.   Season with salt, pepper, dill and juice from one of the lemon halves.

Slice remaining lemon half to use as garnish at serving time.