The Summer Heat Waves are over, Daylight Savings Time has ended and finally, it feels like Fall. Time to switch meals from Summer Light to Fall Hearty. This morning for Breakfast we had freshly baked Pumpkin Muffins along with Scrambled Eggs and fresh Coffee from Thunder Mountain Coffee on the top of Hawaii near Kona. Having recently visited there it was hard to resist bringing back some of their Coffee. Normally I am not a big Coffee Drinker and can do without but Thunder Mounter Coffee is excellent and I guess I am going to have to purchase some using mail order.
To get back to Fall Foods, please check out some of the recipes on my blog. You will find them simple to prepare, delicious and warming to eat. Fall is time when Squash is plentiful, freshly harvested, and delicious when prepared properly. Let’s start with Butternut Squash, a favorite among Italian Chefs. Here is a recipe for . Try it and let me know what you think.
While we are talking about Pasta and Squash (and yes, Pumpkin is a Squash) think about making Ravioli de Zucca. A delicious variation of Ravioli and not too difficult to make. It is early Fall and the Pie Pumpkins are in the market waiting to be purchased.
Golden Squash Jubilee is another delicious recipe – you could almost any kind of squash but yellow or orange is most attractive. Sweet Potatoes or Carrots can be substituted for the squash. This dish goes well with Poultry (Thanksgiving Turkey?), Pork or even Fish.
Squash can even be used to bake with. Zuchinni Muffins are delicious – a good way to get vegetables into your diet. For variation you can substitute Apples, Pumpkin or any other kind of fruit for the Zuchinni.
While we are talking about Fall Foods and Pumpkin specifically don’t forget about that Pumpkin Pie. Follow the link to a delicious Pumpkin Pie Recipe in a non-traditional Pecan Crust. Serve for Thanksgiving Dessert with freshly Whipped Cream. Even though the Pie below may look burned it is not. It is just nicely and well browned.
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Comfort Food is Food that warms the body and the soul. It makes you feel good and satisfied after eating it. I think Comfort Food is different for different cultures and different people but there are variations within the dishes that we call ‘Comfort Food’. The differences are not so much in the main ingredients but in the preparation techniques and the seasonings used. Here is another great Comfort Food that really warms you inside – Vegetable Soup – it can be served as a complete meal with the addition of some protein and delicious fresh bread. It can also be served as a first course and the leftovers are great for lunch.
I love to make Vegetable and it is one of my favorite ways of cleaning out the Vegetable in my refrigerator. If you have ever wondered what you are going to do with all those vegetables that you just can’t seem to getting around to use or even if like I do, you have little bits and little bits of that, Vegetable Soup is the perfect vehicle for using up those items. So when I taught school, I taught my students how to make ‘Clean Out the Refrigerator’ Vegetable Soup.
What you will need is a large pot and some Olive Oil and whatever you can forage from your refrigerator. If you don’t have items in your refrigerator that you can use, you can always visit your local Farmer’s Market or Grocery Store to pick up whatever you wish to put in your soup. For the last batch I made, I used Onions, (a must), Celery, Carrots, Mushrooms, Tomatoes and Tomato Paste, Frozen Peas and Corn. For the batch before this one I used a Sweet Potato and Spinach. Visit vegetable-soup for the complete recipe.
Saute your Vegetables (starting with the Onion and Mushrooms) in Olive Oil. I always salt the Mushrooms as they do need and it helps to leech out some of the water in their pores. Once they have cooked and started caramelizing add the remaining fresh Vegetables and dried herbs. For the liquid I use either de-fatted Turkey, Chicken or Beef Broth, depending on what is in my freezer. Vegetable Soup does not need to cook for a long time – you do not want really mush vegetables. It is much better to have some texture left to bite into. About 10 minutes before serving bring the soup up to boiling and add about 1 cup uncooked Pasta. Once the Pasta is ‘al dente’ add fresh Herbs (in this case two kinds of Basil), and frozen Peas and/or Corn if you are going to use them. A couple of minutes is all you need for these frozen Vegetables.
To make a complete meal out of your Vegetable Soup, add some Protein such as Tofu (for Vegans), Chicken, Sliced Hot Dogs or Sausage or Turkey. Any one of the above make a great addition to your soup which is also delicious without it. Just serve it with some Hot Fresh Bread.
Comfort Food is Food that warms the body and the soul. It makes you feel good and satisfied after eating it. I think Comfort Food is different for different cultures and different people but there are variations within the dishes that we call ‘Comfort Food’. The differences are not so much in the main ingredients but in the preparation techniques and the seasonings used.
There are also variations in Winter Weather throughout the world and there are not many days that we can call Winter Weather in Sunny Southern California but this year , January is definitely Winter and Cold it is! Wet and Cold that is! Not complaining as we need the rain and cold can be fun for a little while, but all that aside, what do you eat when it is cold. Our normal Salads and Vegies and light meals don’t work when the weather is cold. We have to resort to old ‘Standbys from Childhood and our Mother’s favorites. One of these in our family is Stuffed Cabbage. Put together Green Cabbage, Seasoned Ground Beef and Tomatoes in a Sweet and Sour Sauce and serve with rice or pasta and you have a delicious bone warming meal.
So this is what I did the other night. I made Stuffed Cabbage but cheated a little bit as I had preformed Meatballs in the freezer. Having raised five sons I have a difficult time cooking small quantities of food for the 2 of us who make up our household now, so I usually make large quantities and freeze what we don’t eat for future use. The Meatballs were frozen in a single layer so as to make it easy to remove them and use them as needed. If I didn’t have the Meatballs I would have made the complete recipe from scratch as per the directions in the recipe itself. http://www.sylveeeskitchen.com/stuffed-cabbage/ Here are the step by step directions and photos for preparing this delicious and ‘heart warming’ dish.
First of all make sure you have all the ingredients. If you have to shop for some of them, check your staples and seasonings before going to the market.
In addition to Ground Beef (or Chicken or Turkey) you will also need Tomato Sauce, Lemons, Brown Sugar and Salt and Pepper. Instead of Tomato Sauce as per the recipe, I used ground Tomatoes which have much more flavor and body. Shown below is one of my favorite tomato products.
If you don’t use the whole can place the leftovers in a covered container and refrigerate until needed. They should keep up until a week depending on how cold your refrigerator is.
In order to roll the meat in the Cabbage Leaves you will have to soften them. The best way to do this is to:
1 – Core the Cabbage and remove any bad outer leaves.
2 – Bring a large pot of water (shown belown) to the boiling. Add the whole head of Cabbage, turn the heat down to simmer and leave the cabbage in the simmering water for about 5 minutes or until the outer leaves soften enough to be able to roll them.
3 – Remove the Cabbage from the hot water (I use a colander for this) and remove as many leaves as have softened or as many as you will need if the whole head has softened.
4 – If need be, return the head to the simmering water and remove as needed.
5 – Place the leaves on a cutting board and cut out the hard part that was closest to the core.
6 – Place a scoop of meat on each leaf and wrap the leaf around the meat mixture. Use clean Kitchen String to tie the rolls so they don’t fall apart in the cooking process.
Coarsely slice some of the remaining cabbage and place in the bottom of the vessel you are going to cook the Cabbage Rolls in. This will serve as a bed for the rolls. Next place the rolls on top of the sliced cabbage and then pour the sauce over all.
Bring to a boil over medium high heat and then turn the heat down to medium. Cook for about 45 minutes or longer, depending on the size of the rolls. Use Kitchen Shears to cut and remove the string before the next step.
I like to add an additional Vegetable and in this case I added sliced Carrots. They only need to cook for about 5 minutes or until they are barely fork tender. The residual heat will continue to cook them once the vessel is removed from the heat. If you use peas or corn, the cooking time will be shorter.
Serve with Rice, Pasta or Couscous. This is a delicious heart-warming and body warming dish that is perfect for winter weather. Vegans can also make by using a Barley or Rice in place of meat in the filling.
The City of Fillmore, CA is known as the ‘Last, Best Small Town’. Small it is, as it only incorporates an area of 3.4 square miles. But small as it is, it is still an incorporated city since 1914. The city gets its name from J. A. Fillmore who was a general superintendent for the Southern Pacific Railroad which came to the Santa Clara River Valley in 1887.
Fillmore is located 39 minutes north of Thousand Oaks traveling on the 23 North. The 23 North ends at Moorpark, so you have to exit the Freeway and travel down Los Angeles Avenue to get to the roads taking you to the 23 North. (It is well signed, so you can’t miss it) (Google also gives you correct directions) It is a mountainous route with lots of turns (and this time lots of road work being done) One of the nice things about this drive is that you get to view the Orchards and farms that you thought had disappeared from the area. (Fortunately, only the obvious ones facing the Freeway have been the culprit of more and more condos and homes.) So the Santa Clara River Valley of which Fillmore is a part, still is well endowed with agriculture, fortunately.
As you enter the city limits the sign proclaims that the population is 14,000 and the elevation is 469 ft. The sign looked a little worn, so I am making an educated guess that the population is larger than 14,000. (According to the 2012 Census, the Popoulation was 15,002. The reason for this is that there are a lot of new home developments and people from outlying areas are probably taking advantage of this (home prices have got to be lower than the Conejo Valley or other nearby areas – it takes a little drive to get to Fillmore but it is a nice place to live and raise a family. The School District consists of two High Schools, one Middle School and four elementary schools.
Returning home, I decided to take the 126 to Ventura to avoid the road work and the twists and turns. It was quite a few miles longer but didn’t take any longer as you could go faster than 35 miles per hour and there were no twists and turns.
So much for particulars – Fillmore used to be a quaint little town that was fun to visit. On my recent visit there it looked entirely different than I remembered it from past visits. Fast Food and Big Block stores have invaded there as they have in almost every sector of this country. ‘Not so Good’. But if you go to the back streets and the area where the City Hall is located you will find remnants of the past. I went up one such street and found the water Tower with the name of the city well visible. I also found the rail tracks and loading docks for the freight trains that bring merchandise to the town and/or take it from the town.
The Train System is a big part of Fillmore – in addition to the freight trains bringing merchandise in and out of the town, there are also tourist trains which run to the orchards. There are event trains such as the ‘Mystery Dinner Train’ which I have been on. There are also other events such as the ‘Pumpkinliner’, ‘Christmas Tree Train’, ‘North Pole Train’, etc. The train system is Fillmore is also the scene for many movies and tv shows.
This last time that I was there it was lunchtime and I decided to try what looked like and was an authentic Mexican Restaurant, called El Taco Llama. The menu had a lot of variety – there were many, many items you could choose from and everything was made to order. My lunch was the two taco plate which came with rice and beans and salad and Guacamole. There were plenty of salsas on the side from the salsa buffet, both mild and spicy. Even though the tacos were the small authentic style, I could not finish the whole plate as the sides were plentiful.
For something to do and someplace to go that is different try taking a trip out here – park your car and walk around but stay away from the chain stores. These are not Fillmore, but everywhere USA.
Thanksgiving is on the horizon and many families will be busy preparing food and enjoying it with their loved ones. If you love to cook and even if you don’t but are going to be cooking listed below are the links to some delicious recipes that you may enjoy for your Thanksgiving Meal. Take a look at them and then try out one or two or three or all. When you do, please let me know how you, your family and friends enjoyed them.
CREAMED SPINACH – Spinach is one of my favorite Vegetables and this version is delicious, even for non-Spinach lovers. It is also versatile and can be turned into a Creamed Spinach Soup just by adding some Vegetable Stock and a little more Cream or Milk. A great recipe for Thanksgiving and the days beyond.
CURRIED FRUIT STUFFING – a little different twist on Thanksgiving Stuffing – the Curry and Fruit give your stuffing additional flavor in a delicious way. This recipe uses Traditional Stuffing Ingredients with the addition of Apple, Apricots and Golden Raisins or whatever you wish to use plus Curry Powder. It is delicious and quite tasty with the addition of the fruit.
GOLDEN SQUASH JUBILEE – is a simple Vegetable Dish made with only 4 ingredients:
2 lbs. Banana Squash – shredded
1 cup dried Apricots – chopped
½ Cup firmly packed Brown Sugar
¼ cup Butter
This dish can be cooked in the Microwave or baked in the Oven.
MASHED POTATOES – be sure to use Russet Potatoes (you need to use a Potato that will crumble when baked so that they will mash easily
TURKEY FRITTATA – this is a great dish to use most any kind of leftover – it is an omelet made with Onions, Potatoes, Tomatoes and Cheese as well as the leftover Turkey. A Frittata is good for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner.
TURKEY CROQUETTES – these are made with leftover Turkey, Onions and a smattering of other Vegetables – they are breaded and then fried and served with Remoulade Sauce.
TURKEY POT PIE – made with leftover Turkey, Vegetables and a Rough Puff Pastry or purchased Puff Pastry if you prefer. Great for leftover Turkey, Chicken or whatever else you have. Serve with a Salad and you have a complete meal.
Today, Sunday, October 12th, my Son David and I went to the Thousand Oaks Food Festival. This was put on by the ‘Music Dept. Booster Club of Westlake High School. It was held at the North End of Conejo Creek Park adjacent to the Library, Teen and Senior Centers. This was the first Food Truck Festival that we had ever attended even though we have purchased and eaten food from numerous Food Trucks that frequent the Southern California area.
As festivals go, this was not really a large gathering of trucks but there was a decent variety. Among the trucks that participated were two Asian/Fusion, one Italian, one Hamburger, one Lobster Roll, a Grilled Cheese Truck (which had some really interesting sandwiches) and one Barbecue. There was also Ice Cream, Gelato, Italian Ice and Beverage Vendors. We tried the Lobster Quesadilla from one of the Asian Vendors and from the second one we had Deep Fried Shrimp Balls (these were chopped Shrimp which were Breaded and then Deep Fried) and a Breakfast Bao which contained Sausage and an Egg among other things. Of the two trucks we enjoyed the Lobster Quesadilla more than the Shrimp Balls and Bao. The Quesadill was a little on the spicy side but not too much so.
We had bottled Raspberry Lemonade from the first Vendor and Vietnamese Coffee from the second Vendor. Finally at the end we had Gelato to cool down the spice from the food. The Gelato that we tried was Salty Caramel which was actually Salty Caramel ribbons in Vanilla Gelato.
One of the drawbacks was that there was no planned seating area for people to sit down and eat – whether this was an omission on the part of the planning committee or a ruling of the park we don’t know. Some people sat on the grass, some were smart enough to bring their own chairs and tables but we ended up sitting on a couple of the large rocks (cave-man style) that were part of the landscape.
In the Park Area there were plenty of table and benches but these were not convenient to the Food Trucks. The Westlake High Band was performing throughout the day and there free massages, Pet Adoption, and other booths that rouonded out the event.
It was fun and interesting and worth at least one try. We don’t think we would go to another Food Festival though unless the trucks changed their format and sold small bites so that one could taste more variety. That being said we do like most of the food from the Food Trucks in that the food is not ordinary and really whets the taste buds.
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October is ‘National Apple Month and what better time to talk about, eat and use Apples in Desserts, Snacks and Meals. Here is an Alphabetical list of some of the Apples available. There are so many, it is almost impossible to be able to keep track of them all. We all have our favorites but it may be fun to try a new one or two. Keep on eye for some of the ones listed below. There is at least one for every letter of the Alphabet except for the letter ‘X’. If anyone knows of an Apple beginning with an ‘X’, please let me know. At the end of this list are links to Apple Recipes in this Blog.
- A Ambrosia, Anna Apple
- B Beverly Hills, Burgundy
- C Crab Apples, Cameo, Captain Kidd, Candy Crisp
- D Delicious, Dawn, Davey, Dayton
- E Epicure
- F Fuji
- G Granny Smith, Gravenstein, Golden Delicious, Gala
- H Hayes, Hampshire, Hawaii
- I Irish Peach, Idared
- J jonathan, Jonagold, Jester, John, Jonadel
- K Kary, Kent, Katya, Keepsake
- L Lady, Liberty, Limelight
- M McIntosh, Maiden’s Blush, Macon
- N Nectar, Niagra, Norfolk
- O Oliver, Opal, Ontario
- P Pippin, Pink Lady, Pacific Rose, Pacific Beauty
- Q Quebec Bell, Queen Cox
- R Razor Russet, Red Delicious, Red Baron
- S Scarlet, Scarlet Surprise, Scarlet O’Hara
- T Taylor, Telstar, Tickled Pink
- W Winesap, Waltz, Wellington
- Y Yates, Yellow Transparent, York Imperial
- Z Zari, Zest
APPLE BREAD – http://www.sylveeeskitchen.com/recipes/baked-goods/breads/apple-bread/
APPLE COOKIES - http://www.sylveeeskitchen.com/recipes/baked-goods/cookies/apple-cookies/
CARAMEL APPLES - http://www.sylveeeskitchen.com/recipes/baked-goods/cookies/apple-cookies/
October is ‘National Apple Month’ so I decided to look up and see how many different kinds of Apples there are. Wow, I did not expect to find the number I did – there are literally dozens and maybe hundreds – the only letter in the Alphabet that does not bear the name of an Apple is ”X”. There are numerous kinds of Apples for each and every letter, however most of us are familiar with only a small number of them.
The most common Apples are the Red and Golden Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Pippins and Granny Smith. The best for eating are the Delicious, of course and the Gala and Fuji. The best for baking are Granny Smith and Pippins. The last two are not terribly sweet and have a firm flesh which lends them well to baked goods such as pies and pastries. For cooking and Applesauce the Winesap and Gravensteins are excellent.
My favorite use for Apples is to make Pie and of course, there is nothing as American as ‘Apple Pie’. I also love Apple Turnovers made with Puff Pastry. Puff Pastry is a pain to make but you can purchase frozen Puff Pastry Sheets which work very well. You can also use Pie Crust or even Yeast Dough for your Turnovers Shells.
There are also many other ways in which we can use Apples and so I am going to explore some of them here and reference several really great recipes. The first one is for Apple Bread – what a good way to use up those Apples from your tree or even the ones you bought. You can even use Applesauce. Try the referenced recipe. This recipe makes two to three loaves, depending on the size of the pans you use. You can also make Muffins from the same recipe. If there is too much for your family to consume at one time, these loaves freeze well or you can share them with your friends. www.sylveeeskitchen.com/recipes/baked-goods/breads/apple-bread/
Apple Pie can be made in various ways – there are French Apple Pies with a streusel topping and then there are the traditional ‘American’ type Apple Pies with both a bottom and a top crust. The referenced recipe is for a French Apple Pie which always easy to make because there is only a bottom crust and you don’t have to worry about getting the top crust to fit and look beautiful. www.sylveeeskitchen.com/recipes/baked-goods/pies-pastry/
Apple Turnovers are absolutely my favorite way to go! You can eat them out of hand without utensils; they are good for Breakfasts on the Go or for snacks or Desserts. You can use Puff Pastry or Pie Crust or any of your favorite pastry doughs.
Apple Brown Betty is an old fashioned dish which can also be used for dessert or for Breakfast. There is no Pie Crust to worry about, just a cumbly topping. It is fast and easy to make and is great with Vanilla Ice Cream or Whipped Cream on top. www.sylveeeskitchen.com/recipes/deserts/apple-brown-betty/
Caramel Apples are one of my favorite ways to eat Apples. I love Apples and I love Caramel and nothing goes better together than Apples and Caramel. And since Halloween is this Month what better treat than Caramel Apples to share with the kids. This recipe is simple to make and the Apples are fun to eat. The best Apples to use for Caramel Apples are Granny Smith or Golden Delicious. Pippins are also good, but make sure that they are somewhat ripe or they will be to tart to eat, even with the Caramel. www.sylveeeskitchen.com/recipes/halloween-recipes/caramel-apples/
Remember, October is ‘National Apple Month’ and there is no better time to buy and eat Apples than now. Even better is if you can pick your own, either from your own trees or nearby orchards. Play around and experiment – Apples are a wondrous fruit and don’t forget ‘An Apple A Day Keeps the Doctor Away’. Try a different Apple Recipe for the Month of October – ‘National Apple Month’. And another reason for eating and using them now is that later on, the Apples you buy will all have been in cold storage which makes them mealy and less tasty. So take advantage of ‘National Apple Month.
This time I decided to make a batch of Ricotta using Rennet Tablets. It was my understanding that a quarter of a Rennet Tablet would be sufficient to curdle two quarts of milk. Unfortunately, this did not happen. When I used the Lemon Juice the heated Milk curdled within about 2 minutes. With the Rennet, I cooked and stirred with the Rennet added (after the milk came to a boil) for about 10 minutes. Getting frustrated I added Lemon Juice and it still did not look curdled so I added the rest of the Rennet Tablet. It finally curdled but did not yield as much Cheese as the Lemon Juice alone did and it was much looser and did not hold its shape. Fortunately I used the Cheese in Sweet Cheese Turnovers so the thickness did not matter as much. To add body to the Cheese I also used about half a carton of Mascarpone (thick Italian Cream Cheese). Next time I will go back to the Lemon Juice.
To make the Turnovers I placed the drained Ricotta in a medium-sized mixing bowl and added half a carton of Mascarpone, (about 4 oz.) along with 1 Egg, 2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar (this should be to your taste) and some Vanilla. A pinch or two of ground Cinnamon may also be added if desired. Combine the mixture and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the Turnovers I used commercial Puff Pastry but you can use Pie Crust or any other type of Dough that you prefer.
Have a small bowl of cool water at hand to help seal the pastry edges along with a fork to crimp them.
Lay out the Pastry on a cutting board and cut into 6″ squares. If needed you can use a clean ruler to measure. I usually just eye-ball it. Use a long knife or Pizza Wheel. Keep your eye on the end point and you will end up cutting a straight line. If you try to guide the knife or wheel, it is likely that your pieces will end up crooked. (I learned this little trick from my Mother who used to make all our clothes – when she cut out fabric she always said, keep your eye on the place where you want to end – this will guide your hand and keep it straight) It works every time!
Arrange the squares so that they are facing you as a diamond. Place a scoop of the filling on each square. (I used a #30 food scoop – about 1 1/2 Tbsps.) The filling should be placed just below the mid-point which will give you enough room to fold over the pastry and seal the edges without the filling oozing out the sides.
Using your clean finger or a pastry brush lightly coat the edges of two adjacent sides with the water; fold over into a triangle and then crimp with the fork.
If you plan on baking the Turnovers right away preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Place the Turnovers on the lined baking sheet with at least 2 inches between each turnovers on all sides. Even though there is no leavening agent as such in Puff Pastry, the layers formed by the Butter will puff up tremendously. Once the baking pan is full brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with Turbinado Sugar. Bake in your preheated oven for 20 minutes (DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR UNTIL THE 20 MINUTES ARE UP). The Turnovers should be a golden brown when completely baked – if after 20 minutes they are still too pale then bake for another 5 minutes or until golden brown. The Baked Turnovers are the Feature Photo above.
If you plan on freezing all or part of the Turnovers before baking them you can place them as close together on the sheet that you can as long as they don’t touch each other. Once they are frozen wrap them in plastic wrap or the parchment and place in a freezer bag. You can remove and bake as many or as few at a time as you need.