i love growing Tomatoes and contrary to the rule of thumb that you only need one plant per person in the household, I like to have many more. First of all, I like variety and second of all, not all plants will produce as they should. This year I planted 6 Tomato Plants and have two left over from last year. Unfortunately, the ones from last year are not producing too well. Probably because they are not in full sun – we only have so much garden space that will get sun.
Even though my larger Beefsteak type Tomatoes produce more and larger fruit, my favorites this year are the Green Zebra and the Lucky Tiger. I don’t think my Lucky Tigers are growing to the size that they should but they are fun – they are shaped like the Romas, but thinner and are green with orange/red stripes that are supposed to be dark purple according to the tag that was on the plant when I bought it. In spite of that, I still love the tomatoes. They are fun to grow and delicious to eat. They have a slightly tangy taste to them in contrast to the red tomatoes which are very sweet.
All this being said, what do you do with Tomatoes when you have an abundance of them? You can only make some many salads and eat so much salsa. In past years I have made Chili Sauce and will probably do that again this year if the plants keep producing like they have. For this batch though, I decided to make a Tomato Basil Soup. This is a tasty soup that can be eaten hot, warm or cold so it is perfect for summer or any time of year. The recipe actually calls for Roma Tomatoes, but not having Roma Tomatoes, I just used what I have growing and that is mostly red round tomatoes. Even though I put the tags that came with the plants in front of the plants, they somehow get lost or covered up so except for a couple of the plants, I’m not really sure what kind they are. Just round, red, sweet and delicious!
The Soup can be served as a first course or as a Vegetable Dish along with a meal – that is what I did last night. We had Meat Loaf, Baked Potatoes and the Tomato Basil Soup which I actually served first, but we had seconds along with the meal. I serve this soup in small bowls but it can be served in larger ones. Another way I like to serve it is in demitasse as a ‘stand-up appetizer’ for company meals.
The recipe calls for 2 lbs. of Tomatoes, 1/2 cup of diced Onion, Chicken Stock (I had Beet Water leftover from cooking Beets so I used that instead thereby making the soup good for the Vegan or Vegetarian Crowd. Of course you also need Basil which I also have growing in the yard. I used the Italian Sweet Basil for the Soup and Purple Basil for the Garnish along with the Lucky Tiger Tomatoes.
After the Tomatoes are washed and cored, chop, quarter or dice them. (It doesn’t really matter too much as they are going to be pureed after cooking)
Saute the diced Onions in 2 Tbsps. of Olive Oil until they are soft – from the photo below, you will notice that mine are slightly caramelized. This add additional flavor as long as you don’t let them burn. If they do burn, discard and start over – the burn taste will ruin the soup.
Once the Onions are sufficiently cooked, add the prepared Tomatoes and Basil and cook until the Tomatoes release their water. Mix as they cook. When the tomatoes are sufficiently cooked, transfer to a food processor fitted with the metal blade. If you don’t have a food processor, use a blender or a food mill.
Run the processor or blender until the Tomatoes are completely pureed and then return to the pot. Add the remaining seasonings -taste and add additional salt or Vinegar, if so desired.
Serve Hot with tiny Meatballs or at Room Temperature or Cold as an Appetizer. Garnish with additional Basil and diced Tomatoes, if desired. I used the Purple Basil and Lucky Tiger Tomatoes which only need to be sliced vertically down the middle. For additional zest add a splash of your favorite style ‘Old Boney Mountain Hot Sauce’.
May 10th is ‘National Shrimp Day’. Shrimp are absolutely one of my favorite seafood in any form or style. Below are a few recipes for you to try – one or all. Enjoy preparing them and then enjoy eating them.
Grilled Shrimp – marinated in Garlic, Basil, Lemon Juice and Olive Oil. These shrimp are delicious as an appetizer, main dish or in a salad. Good for any time, not just National Shrimp Day.
Coconut Fried Shrimp – great for a Backyard Luau or any Summer/Spring Meal. Served with an Orange-Lime Sauce.
Shrimp Fritters – a delicious and different way to eat Shrimp. For those of us who love Shrimp and who Fritters, this is the perfect dish. Shrimp Fritters can be served as an appetizer with Cocktail Sauce or as a main dish with a salad and or vegetable.
Cinco de Mayo will be here in 2 hours or earlier for East Coasters. Here are a few recipes you can use for your Celebrations tomorrow.
We will start with Appetizers including Salsas and conclude with Rice, Empanadas and Lemonade.
Mango Salsa which makes use of fresh Mangoes, Limes, Red Bell Peppers and Jalapenos if you wish.
Nachos – start with good quality chips, Cheese Sauce with Jalapenos (if desired) and serve with Salsa and Guacamole.
Salsa Cruda – incorporates diced fresh Tomatoes, Jalapenos or Serranos, Cilantro, Lime Juice and a little Salt.
Beef Empanadas are more traditionally an Argentine Dish but they can also be found in Mexican Cooking. The Empanada can be filled with whatever you please – diced Steak or Chicken or Ground Beef along with Tomatoes, Onions, Cheese and maybe some Chilies.
Sparkling Lemonade – we first had this in Acapulco and I have been making Lemonade this way every since. It is delicious, refreshing and a great accompaniment to any meal.
Categories: Beverages, Condiments, Cooking for Kids, Dinner Ideas, Family Fun, Food Festivals, Holiday Ideas, Holiday Meals, Holiday Tidbits, Main, Mexican, Tropical, Tropical Food Tags: Appetizers, Avocadoes, Chlies, Cinco de Mayo, family dinner, holiday recipes, kids cooking, Limes, Mexican, National Food Days, Rice, Tomatoes
Funny that November is recognized as the following Food Month –
- Georgia Pecan Month
- Good Nutrition Month
- National Peanut Butter Lover’s Month
- National Pepper Month
- National Pomegranate Month
- Raisin Bread Month
- Vegan Month
Honoring many types of food, but not of all things the Turkey. Why not? November is Thanksgiving and Turkey is the main highlight of most families dinners on Thanksgiving. So like October which I have declared ‘The Month of the Pumpkin’ I am now declaring November as Turkey Month. Everywhere you go, there are turkeys for sale, Frozen Turkeys, Fresh Turkeys, Heritage Turkeys, already prepared Turkey Dinners, etc.
Before we go any further does anyone know why the Turkey is called the Turkey? What did the Indians call the Wild Turkey that was prevalent when the first Pilgrims came over? Does anyone know? And why did the Europeans call Turkeys, Turkeys? Well it seems that the Europeans thought the Turkeys were related to Guinea Fowl which were transported to Europe via Turkey. Therefore, they called the Wild Bird they found in the New World, Turkeys. That name has stuck to this day.
Benjamin Franklin thought that the Turkey should be the National Bird but the Bald Eagle has and probably always will be the Bird Symbol for the United States. However, three States including Massachusetts have adopted the Turkey as their State Bird.
Most of us will be making or Eating Turkey for Thanksgiving Dinner. There are many ways to cook Turkey; Smoking, Frying, Barbecuing but the traditional and most ways to cook Turkey is still to roast it fully packed with Stuffing. But preparing Turkey for Thanksgiving Dinner is not the problem. It’s what to do with the leftovers that presents challenges. The best and probably favorite way is the ‘Turkey Sandwich’. My preference is with Mayonnaise, Pickles and Lettuce. Some like to put Stuffing and Cranberries on their Sandwiches, but whichever way you make it, I would venture to say that the Sandwich is the favorite way to use Turkey Leftovers.
Another use, though probably not usually thought by most people is a Turkey Frittata turkey-frittata/. The Frittata can be made for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner and is a good way to use up those little pieces of Turkey that fall off the bone or crumble from the slices. The Frittata is an omelet with Meat, (Turkey) Vegetables and usually some kind of Cheese. The Frittata is very tasty and a great use for leftover anything, including Turkey.
Another good use for Turkey leftovers are Turkey Croquettes. /turkey-croquettes/ Great for Brunch, Lunch or Dinner the Croquette can be varied to suit your individual taste palette. Either good old American, Italian, Mexican or even Asian. With just one or two additional ingredients the flavors can be easily varied.
One more use for leftover Turkey is the Turkey Pot Pie. turkey-pot-pie/ Delicious and warming in the cooler weather of Fall!
The above are just a few of the things that can be done with Turkey Leftovers. You can probably come up with more ideas on your own.
And don’t forget! November is ‘Turkey Month’!!
Categories: Asian, Breakfast Ideas, Cooking for Everyone, Cooking for Kids, Dinner Ideas, Holiday Ideas, Holiday Meals, Holiday Tidbits, Italian, Leftovers, Lunch Ideas, Main, Mexican, National Food Days Tags: Appetizers, family dinner, holiday recipes, Leftovers, National Food Days, turkey, Turkey Leftovers, Vegetables
Friday night, September 7th was our Teen Cuisine Class at Let’s Get Cookin’.
The theme this month was ‘Fire & Ice’ – grilled Appetizers and Frozen Desserts. The Students made:
Chinese Style BBQ Chicken Wings
Teriyaki Beef Kabobs
Louisiana Style Grilled Shrimp with ‘Dirty Rice’
Ice Cream Sandwiches
Tempura Ice Cream
Shown below are some photos from the class.
The week of August 13th – 17th was the Teen/Preteen Western Culinary Camp at Let’s Get Cookin’ in Westlake Village. During the week, we traced the evolution of Western Cuisine from its birthplace in the Middle East and followed the trail to Greece, Italy, France and then across the Atlantic to the New England States in America.
Day One – Middle East
Lavash -Flat Bread
Spinach Borani – Spinach & Yogurt Dip
Israeli Chopped Salad
Egyptian Bread Pudding
Cardamom Cookies & Pomegranate Blast
Paige making Israeli Couscous
On Emma’s plate is Israeli Couscous & Lavash. In the small cups are Israeli Chopped Salad, Spinach Borani & Pomegranate Blast.
Egyptian Bread Pudding – contains Baked Puff Pastry, a variety of nuts and Coconut sweetened condensed milk. The ingredients were combined and then baked before being served.
Day Two – Greece
Mediterranean Vegetable Salad
Beef & Macaroni Pie
Lemon Rice Pilaf
Filling for Baklava
Emma T, Paige, Emma M & Sheema
Day Three – Italy
Stuffed Shells with Marinara Sauce
Day Four – France
Coquille St. Jacque (Scallops in White Butter Sauce)
French Onion Soup
Butter Lettuce Salad
Haricot Verte (French Green Beans)
Elizabeth adding Pastry Cream that was forgotten
Day Five – New England
Rhode Island Clam Chowder
Stuffed Eggs Florentine
Sally Lunn Bread
Boston Cream Pie
Sheema, Emma T & Piper —->
Sunday, March 18 – 2012:
Today is David’s Birthday and since I invited him for dinner I also asked him to choose what he would like for dinner. He had lost 30 lbs. since December and thought this would be a good day to indulge himself, just this once! So Dinner was Lobster Lasagna, a Pineapple and Artisan Lettuce Salad with (the dressing is going to remain secret) and Sweet Potato Beignets for dessert. I added rustic Olive bread to the menu.
#1: Peeled and cubed the Sweet Potato and cooked it along with 6 ounces of Butternut Squash in salted Water. Once it came to a boil, I shut off the heat and let it sit, covered, on the stove until I needed to use it.
#2: I had some last minute shopping to do, so went to the market and got back by 9:30 and immediately continued with the food prep which went as follows:
#3: Using the Food Processor in a sequence designed to avoid repetitive washing, Shredded the Parmesan Regiano, then sliced the fresh Mozzarella with the thick slicing blade. (Fresh Mozzarella does not shred well unless it is half frozen. Processing it with the slicing blade, ends up with it being half sliced and half shredded which is perfect for Lasagna.
#4: Made the Basil Pasta Dough and wrapped it and set aside to rest.
#5: Made the Olive Bread Dough and placed in greased bowl with plastic wrap in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk.
#6: Made the Dough for the Beignets, covered it with plastic wrap and set in refrigerator for the dough to raise up.
#7: Removed the two Lobster Tails from the shell (froze the shells for later use to make seafood stock), cut up into bite-sized pieces and then marinated with Garlic, Basil, Lemon Juice and Olive Oil. Covered with plastic wrap and placed in refrigerator. (Never marinate seafood for more than 20-30 minutes max!)
#8. Brought in my old Kitchen Aid and attached the Pasta Roller; placed a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil and set out some clean dish cloths, one of them dampened.
#9: David came over and we started rolling out the Pasta Dough, one fourth of the recipe at a time.
#10: While David was running the Pasta Dough through the first 2 numbers on the Pasta Machine, I started sautéing the Lobster. Once that was done, I placed the cooked Lobster meat in a covered dish and proceeded to help David with the Pasta.
#11: We decided that it was easier to roll all the Dough one number at a time rather than having to keep changing the numbers. Once we got to #4, we cooked a small piece to test it. It was not thin enough so we went to 5, repeated the test and then settled on #6 for pasta thin enough not to obscure the sauce, but thick enough to hold up under the sauce and through cutting and serving.
#12: While David rolled, I cooked and placed the cooked pasta on clean dish towels. Fresh Pasta is cooked when it floats to the surface of the boiling water. This took about 20 seconds, as opposed to the 10-12 minutes that dry pasta takes to cook.
#13: We wanted the Lasagna to have enough layers to give each person a substantial slice and to be able to taste the lobster, so I decided to use just a 9 x 12 lasagna pan.
#14: Once the Pasta was cooked, it was time to finish cooking the Sauce for the Lobster. Using the same pan the Lobster was cooked in and with the remnants of the cooking liquid, I heated the pan and added ¾ cup of Madeira Wine to the pan, and over high heat reduced the liquid to about one/fourth of its original volume. I then added 1 ½ pints of Heavy Cream and cooked it over a medium-high heat until it reduced by approximately one- fourth. I then added approximately one cup of Parmesan Cheese, cooked it until the Cheese blended in and then added back the Lobster Meat.
#15: We assembled the Lasagna with alternating layers of Pasta, Lobster Sauce and Mozzarella Cheese. We alternated the direction of the Pasta strips so that the Lasagna would stay together when we cut and served it.
#16: After the Lasagna was assembled, covered and refrigerated, David did the accumulated dishes and ran the dish washed while I punched down the Bread Dough and shaped it into loaves which I then set aside to raise until doubled in bulk. Since it was warm in the kitchen, I knew it would not take long for the Bread to rise, so while the bread was rising, I heated the Oven with the Baking Stone in it. The stone takes at least 30 minutes (preferably longer) to heat up at 500 degrees.
#17: At this point, David had to leave to get some things done and I decided to take a short rest.
#18: Sprinkled Cornmeal on the Peel (wooden paddle for bread and pizza) and placed the first loaf of bread on it and then slid it into the oven to bake. When the first loaf was done, I then baked the second loaf.
#19: Around 3 PM I cooked the Shrimp for the appetizer and then washed the vegetables for the Salad and made the Salad Dressing. This Salad and Dressing was so unusual, that I cannot divulge the ingredients or the Dressing here because I am going to save it for a future class or maybe a book or magazine article.
#20: Trimmed Asparagus and placed in baking pan with Olive Oil, Sea Salt and freshly chopped Basil.
#21: Cleaned 1 ½ lbs. Brown Mushrooms, quartered them and sautéed in Garlic, Olive Oil and Basil then set aside for a quick re-heat to serve at dinner.
#22: Around 4:30 PM Ev set the table and I made the Dip for the cold cooked Shrimp that was our snacking Appetizer and I removed the Lasagna from the refrigerator to warm up. I finished the Salad Prep, leaving the Dressing to go on at the last minute.
#23: People started arriving around 5 and we set out the Shrimp and Beverages. The Lasagna went into the oven.
#24: The Lasagna came out of the oven at 5:45 and the Asparagus went in. Bread was then sliced. We served the Salad and fresh Olive Bread and when that course was completed the Lasagna, Asparagus and reheated Mushrooms were brought to the table and everyone indulged in this extremely satisfying meal, even though it was loaded with calories. Because it was so rich, the pieces were cut into moderate sizes, allowing those who wanted more to have seconds and those who always ate less to have their smaller portions.
#25: When the main portion of the Dinner was finished, we cleared the table, Tina did the dishes, Arthur wrapped the few leftovers there were and I heated the Oil to cook the Sweet Potato Beignets.
#26: The Beignets were served with French Vanilla Ice Cream and a Cinnamon/Anise Sauce to drizzle over the Beignets. We all had a good time and everyone thought the food was delicious. Tina said that she wanted a Birthday Dinner just like this one. Hers last year was Mushroom Lasagna made with Crepes instead of Pasta.
We put a Birthday Candle in David’s Ice Cream and sang Happy Birthday to him. Everyone had a good time and David said he had a great day! It was fun making dinner together. It creates camaraderie and bonding and every family should try it!
Couscous. (Grain) As one can see, we also managed to include more vegetables in both the meat and poultry menus. The Roast Chicken was an easy version with the chicken being marinated for several hours and then baked at very high heat for a short period of time. This gave us a juicy chicken with a very crisp outer covering. (skin) The chicken was enjoyed by everyone. The second recipe was cacciatore and contained tomatoes and is Italian in origin. The Jambalaya has its origins in the Southern United States and maybe goes even further back to Africa. The turkey pot pies were made with turkey breast which allowed a short baking time. The pot pies can also be made with thighs which would probably be more flavorful, but there was also a time constriction. The Sweet Potato Risotto, Polenta and Couscous were very well received. There was so much to eat that the students took their Turkey Pot Pies home as we made individual ones.
I love creating new dishes out of leftovers. The act itself is a creative challenge and the results are always unique. This time is no exception. On Wednesday, I had a group of friends over to play Mah Jong, a challenging and interesting game, once played only by men in the Orient. When we get together the hostess always provides several snacks to nibble on. Needing to try out my recipes for my upcoming teen culinary camp, I made a hot Artichoke/Spinach Dip and served with crispy tortilla chips. This dip is also good with French Baguettes or croustades which are usually very thin baguettes, sliced and lightly toasted.
Since there were only five of us playing and there was more than one type of snack to nibble on, I only put out half of the dip that I made. The other half stayed in the refrigerator on hold. Since we never had to go into the second half, I now had more artichoke dip which my husband and I could probably have a meal of. Rather than do that, I decided to make Artichoke Turnovers. The dip was made with artichoke hearts, spinach, jack cheese, onions and garlic and is very tasty and would go well with the puff pastry I make turnovers with.
Turnovers can be made with pie crust, a quick puff pastry or purchased frozen puff pastry. The type of frozen puff pastry that is sold in the freezer case in the market is usually rolled and has to be thawed (in the refrigerator) before using. Since I have an upright freezer in my garage with lots of shelf space, I usually buy a 25 lb. box of puff pastry]. The pastry keeps indefinitely in the freezer and I only have to take out what I need, one sheet at a time. It takes only about 5 minutes to thaw out to be pliable enough to use for turnovers. To roll the pastry, you would have to let it thaw a little longer.
The puff pastry I use is 10 x 15 inches wide, thereby allowing me to cut it into 6 equal 5” squares. The best way to do this is totake an 18” ruler or yardstick and nick the dough at 5” intervals on all four sides. All you have to do the is to take your knife, start at one end and then look where you want to end up. If you keep you eye on your finishing point, your cutting line will turn out straight. If course, at the same time, you want to make sure you keep your other hand out of the way of the knife.
Once you have your squares cut, you need to line a baking pine with baker’s parchment paper or a silpat® sheet to place your pastries on. Also have on hand, a small dish of cold water to moisten the edges of the pastry so that they will stick together when you fold them in half diagonally.
Once you are ready to make your turnovers, turn each square of dough so that it looks like a diamond. Place a moderate amount of the filling on the lower half of each diamond. In the case of the Artichoke Dip, I placed a scoop of the dip plus some additional shredded cheese on top. Moisten two adjoining edges and then fold over to create a triangle. Use the tines of a fork to crimp together the edges so that when the pastries are baked, the filling will stay inside. Use the same fork to poke holes in the top portion of the pastry to allow steam to escape when baking.
Once you have all your pastries filled, you can then either bake them or freeze them. During the summer when the fruit on the trees have ripened, I usually make a lot of turnovers and freeze them for use throughout the year. When you are ready to bake the turnovers, preheat your oven to 400 degrees (375 for convection). Before baking, brush the tops with an egg white. For savory turnovers, such as the artichoke dip, you can lightly sprinkle some flavored sea salt on top. For fruit turnovers, sprinkle with Coarse Brown Sugar. (This is usually marketed as raw sugar, but it actually isn’t) When the desired heat has been reached place the pan in the oven and set the time for 20 minutes. When the turnovers are done, then should be a nice almost dark golden brown. The high heat is needed to make the puff pastry puff.
Puff pastry is made by incorporating a butter block into the prepared pastry and then rolled, folded, refrigerated and then rolled, folded and refrigerated about 4 more times – The multiple rolling and folding creates hundreds of layers, thereby making ‘puff pastry’ which when made correctly is a wonderfully flaky and delectable treat.
If you are baking only one pan, place the on the middle rack of the oven. If you are baking more than one pan, then you should use levels two (one from the bottom) and four Once the turnovers are finished baking, remove from the oven, place on a cooling rack and allow about 5 minutes before serving. Turnovers taste best when eaten fresh out of the oven. Puff pastry is handy to keep around and can be made to create all kinds of turnovers including meat, cheese or fruit or even vegetables. Try creating your own and see what you can come up with. Leftovers can give you all kinds of ideas asto what do make them from – the possibilities are endless.