Sunday, September 27, 2009

Maple Pecan Muffins

If you are looking for a simple, yet delicious muffin, try this one. It came about when we were having a guest over for morning coffee, and this is what I could scrap together from what we had in the refrigerator and pantry. Our guest liked them so much, he wanted the recipe to take home.

Pecan Maple Muffins

1 3/4 c. cake flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
3/4 c. dark brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 stick (8 T.) butter
1 c. buttermilk
2 T. maple syrup
3/4 to 1 c. roasted pecans, chopped

Mix together flour, baking soda, powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Melt butter. Pour into large mixing bowl. Cream together sugar with butter. Add 2 eggs, 2 T. maple syrup and mix until very smooth. Add cooled, chopped toasted pecans to flour and toss together. Put onto liquid in larger bowl. Add 1 c. buttermilk on top of that. Then stir gently until just combined. Divide among pre-greased muffin pan and. bake at 350 degrees for 18-25 minutes depending on the size of muffins.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Serrano Blackberry Lamb and Decadent Sweet Curried Cauliflower

You could use this marinade on flank steak as well, but I used a "mini" butterflied leg of lamb. And created a marinade using a jar of blackberry Serrano jam which we recently received as a gift from Christine. What a great fall combination.

The cauliflower is unbelievably good. Decadent. The meat marinade reminds me a meal I once had in Vail at the Antlers Room -- elk with juniper berries. I know I have juniper berries in my closet somewhere. I may have to try something with them this fall, too. Anyway, I digress.

For the meat marinade:

1/3 c. red wine
1/3 c. Worcestershire sauce
1/3 c. Serrano blackberry preserves (or use regular preserves and red pepper flakes)
rosemary Place all of the marinade ingredients together in a plastic bag, then place in refrigerator, for about 2 hours. Turn a couple of times to be sure the meat comes in contact with the marinade.

You can grill as you would a flank steak. I broiled. Line a heavy duty sheet pan with foil. Place meat on rack. (I use the one from our toaster oven for something like this.) Turn the broiler on high. Place about 6 to 8 inches from the heat source. Turn once. About 4 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of your meat. My meat was very thin.

Let the meat rest for about 10 to 15 minutes. Then slice thinly on the diagonal.

For the decadent cauliflower:

1 head cauliflower, broken down into large florets
salt and pepper
olive oil
sweet curry powder
creme fraiche

Cauliflower is so fresh and beautiful right now. Wash it, core it, then break it down in to large florets.

Sprinkle it with salt and lots of sweet curry, then drizzle with olive oil.

Be sure to use sweet curry powder, not hot. It is fabulous with cauliflower!

Roast the veggies until they are brown and beautiful like this. 375 degrees for about 35 minutes. Make sure they are soft. Longer is better for this recipe.

Place the roasted cauliflower in a bowl, add a small tub of creme fraiche, and smash them together with a handheld blender until the consistency of chunky mashed potatoes.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

White Bean, Bacon and Swiss Chard Casserole

Rainbow Swiss chard was at the farmer's market last week --- The colors are lovely --the veins are either yellow, pink or red --- it almost looks like rhubarb.It's a hardier version of spinach. The trick is to cook it long enough. If you don't it will be like chewing on paper. The stalks are also very good (and good for you) if you cook them long enough, too.

Swiss chard is often sauteed with garlic and served as a side, but when combined with bacon and white beans it becomes a hearty meal on it's own.

White Bean, Bacon, and Swiss Chard Casserole
large bunch of rainbow Swiss chard
4 slices of bacon
2 cans of white beans (cannellini), well-drained
salt and freshly ground pepper

Wash the Swiss chard, tear off the leaves, then chop the stalks into 1 inch lengths.

Bring a pot of water to a vigorous boil. Add the stalks and cook for 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the leaves. After 6 minutes, pull one out to taste it. If needed, cook a little longer. Could be up to 12 minutes in total to get the stalks and the leaves to be cooked, but not over cooked.

Drain well and set aside while you cook the bacon. I used the same pan that I boiled the Swiss chard in.

Cut the bacon into bite size piece and cook until well browned. Drain all but 2 T. of the bacon fat. Add a large tablespoon of garlic but don't let it burn.

Add two cans of well-drained white beans. I like Cannellini beans, but you could use anything.

Return the Swiss chard to the pot, and mix it all together until uniformly hot. Be sure to add lots of salt (the beans need salt) and freshly ground pepper.

Here's how it looks when turned out into a casserole. It was great on it's own, but it would also be nice companion to a grilled item, like a pork chop.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Easy Cornbread

Here's the Easy Corn Bread recipe I made to go with the roasted tomato soup. Over the years, I have tried many different corn bread recipes and the one that I find the best is on the back of the Quaker Corn Meal container, which I tweak based on my mood. This time I added a can of corn.

Easy Corn Bread
(from the back of the Quaker Yellow Corn Meal container)
1 1/4 cups flour (I used cake flour)
3/4 cup corn meal
1/4 cup sugar ( I used brown)
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 c. skim milk ( I used a little less because I added a can of corn which was wet)
1/4 c. vegetable oil ( I used canola)
2 egg whites or 1 egg, beaten
1 can corn, well drained (optional -- this was my addition)
Turbinado(raw cane)sugar (optional -- this was my addition)

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 8 or 9 inch pan. Combine dry ingredients.
Add the can of corn and stir so all of the kernels are coated. Stir in milk, oil and egg. Mix just until combined. Don't overmix. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle turbinado sugar over the top for added crunch and sweetness, if desired. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until light golden brown and wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm. Cut into thirds and thirds again.
Serves 9.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Roasted Tomato Soup

The first thing that I wanted to do when I got back home after being away to care for my mom was cook. I was sick of hospital and restaurant food.

During the long drive home, I concocted recipes in my head that I wanted to create. This was one. I wasn't a 100% sure about how to roast the tomatoes, so I looked up some recipes on the Internet and found this one by Tyler Florence, which I used as my jumping off point.

Then, I hunted down these tomatoes at the farmer's market. We've had a blight in our area which has ruined the tomatoes and potatoes, so I was thrilled to find these beauties.

It is a super easy recipe.

Roasted Tomato Soup

(adapted a Tyler Florence recipe from

2 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes (make sure they are ripe)
6 cloves of garlic, peeled (I used half a head)
2 small yellow onions, sliced (I used medium)
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 quart chicken stock ( I used a big can)
2 bay leaves ( I used 4 since my bay leaves were old)
4 T. butter ( I used only 2)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, optional (I used lots)
3/4 cup heavy cream, optional ( I used a can of 2% evaporated milk)

Preheat the over to 450 degrees. Wash, core and cut the tomatoes into halves. Spread the tomatoes, garlic cloves and onions onto a baking tray. Drizzle with 1/2 cup of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, or until caramelized. Watch out burning like some of mine did. You don't want that bitterness in your soup, especially when garlic burns. Throw out what is burnt, if necessary, but keep the beautiful, browned bits. They pack lots of flavor.Remove roasted tomatoes, garlic and onion from the oven and transfer to a large stock pot. Add the chicken stock, bay leaves, and butter. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until liquid has reduced by a third.

Wash and dry the basil leaves. Add to the pot. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth. Return the soup to low heat, add cream or milk. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves 6 to 8. I packed up the soup while it was still hot and took it down to my friends at West End Gallery for lunch. I served it with Parmesan Basil wheat thins. The next day I made cornbread to go with it for Tom and me.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Green Tomato Cake by Christine

Thanks for sharing one of your favorite harvest recipes, Christine!

My sister, Christine, lives in the Denver area and has a garden every summer in her backyard. With so much sun, she often has bumper crops of tomatoes. As a result, she has collected some great recipes that she can make and freeze for future use. She wrote yesterday to tell me that she had cleaned out her garden since a frost will be in the near future. She made three of these cakes. One to eat now and two to freeze. And she still has more green tomatoes!

Green Tomato Cake
(not sure where she got the recipe)
2 ¼ cups sugar
1 cup melted shortening
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 cup raisins
2 ½ cups diced green tomatoes

Preheat oven to 350. In mixing bowl, beat sugar, shortening, eggs and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg; slowly beat into egg mixture. Blend well. Stir in pecans, raisins and tomatoes.
Pour into greased 9x 13 inch pan. Top with coconut if desired. Bake for one hour or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.
Serves 12.