Late Summer Bread Pudding with Roasted Tomatoes

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Right before it went into the oven – I forgot to take a picture when it came out!

Another zucchini hanging out looking cute in your kitchen, but all your stand-by zucchini recipes exhausted? Well, here’s a great dinner crowd idea that is sure to please – and it is really easy.

I have two bread puddings in my life: one is the stuffing that my aunt, Susy makes for Thanksgiving every year and the other is a sweet bread pudding that I experienced then recreated after taking our son to King’s Island in Kentucky one summer.

The sweet bread pudding is a dense, eggy spiced dish with a rich caramelized bourbon topping – very simple, but decadent and satisfying. The bread and eggs prevent me from allowing frequent visits to my kitchen – in fact, it has been years now since I’ve made it.

My aunt’s stuffing does not have eggs and it has always been my favorite dish on the Thanksgiving table. She sautées onions, garlic and celery, tosses in a few toasted walnuts and sage and mixes dry bread with a bit of vegetable stock. Seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper this concoction is pushed down into a baking dish to develop a thick crust around the edges. It is simple, and absolutely delicious!

So, with bread pudding on my mind, and an extra loaf of bread from the Smiling Pelican Bakeshop in Maiden Rock, I began the search for a new late summer recipe idea to help manage the glut of tomatoes and zucchini in the garden.

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Roasting some tomatoes to decorate the top became first priority. But, if you try this recipe, don’t use foil on the baking pan like I did! I had a piece leftover that was covering something, so I thought I’d just recycle it – I wished I had used my Silpat instead, but I still made it work. These tomatoes were sliced thick, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with a titch of salt and impaled with a smashed piece of garlic before roasting.

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The filling that is mixed with the bread includes sautéed onions, garlic, basil, a grated zucchini and three medium tomatoes chopped. I seasoned with salt and pepper. This was mixed with cubed bread, spooned into a covered baking dish, topped with the roasted tomatoes to make it cute and baked at 400 degrees for an hour and a half. I took the lid off the baking dish after about an hour. Truly easy. Truly delicious!

This is also a great dish to make ahead and freeze for later baking! I made this two days before the meal – just threw the covered casserole into a plastic bag. The day I needed it, it went straight into the oven.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf of any bread – stale or not
  • 5-6 medium tomatoes – 2 sliced, 4 diced
  • Garlic
  • Olive oil to drizzle
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 medium zucchini, grated
  • 1 handful fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Slice fresh tomatoes, lay them out on a cookie sheet, drizzle with oil and salt. Flip them and drizzle again with oil and push into the middle of each about a third of a smashed piece of garlic. Roast until the edges begin to caramelize.

Saute diced onions in a bit of olive oil until translucent then add 3-4 minced garlic cloves. Cook for a minute or so just until the garlic becomes fragrant. Turn off the heat. Then add the diced tomatoes, grated zucchini, basil, bread cubes and salt/pepper.

Once all the ingredients are well mixed, pout it into a covered casserole baking dish, push the pudding down, top with the roasted tomatoes in a decorative fashion. Bake for one hour covered, remove the lid and bake for another 30 minutes uncovered.

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Crustless Tofu Tart

Yesterday I made a batch of Mom’s famous Potato and Sauerkraut Hotdish, and as soon as I did, I couldn’t figure out what to serve with it. This savory tofu tart is an experiment that I hoped would pair well. All in all, these two together may be a bit too much puree for one meal – perhaps the perfect meal for anyone suffering painful dentures!

This Tofu Tart is very flavorful served with Herb Chimichurri and will be great with a side-salad and warm roasted tomatoes with garlic, basil, parmesan and a few crunchy breadcrumbs…

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 8 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 20 oz. packages tofu (I used Wildwood Organics Extra Firm)
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 2 Tbs. tahini
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1/2 cup soymilk

Directions:

Basically, you will need to puree all ingredients together to make a smooth and creamy batter. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1) Saute the onions until they begin to caramelize.

2) Break up tofu and puree in a food processor. You will probably need to do this in two batches unless you have a gigantic food processor. Add 1/2 of the soymilk to each batch to help it get creamy. Add one tablespoon of tahini to each batch as well.

3) In the last batch of tofu, add the cilantro, nutmeg, salt and pepper, onions and garlic to puree together.

4) Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl along with grated carrots. You may want to taste for salt – I am trying to cut back, but you may prefer a bit more.

5) Spray individual tart pans or a springform pan with spray oil. Use semolina flour to lightly dust the inside of each pan. Fill the pan/s and bake for about one hour.

Sweet Potato Biscuit Pie

I’ve been eating WAY too much lately, and I know it’s a carbs thing. Once I start eating too many, I am hungry all the time, and lately it’s been a chocolate THANG. I’m eatin’ chocolate day and night. The wanting to eat and general carbs craving even had me picking up a bag of chewy Sweet Tarts from the staff lounge the other day! It’s a vicious circle  – a big problem here!

Tonight’s dinner is absolutely fabulous if you are in a carb funk like I am. If you’re looking for diet food, turn away now. This sweet potato pie doesn’t have added sweeteners, so I haven’t gone completely mad, but it’s topped with a giant biscuit, and you know that can’t be good. It’s full of fat and flavor and carbohydrates.

Now, this sweet potato pie is not traditional, so it’s worth trying. This one is infused with caramelized Vidalia onions and garam masala, so it comes across as a little belly dancing sweetie. It’s easy to make if you slice the potatoes with a food processor, and serves up quite nicely with a side salad and sliced avocado.

Sweet Potatoes:

  • 1 large Vidalia onion, sliced into rings
  • canola oil to coat pan (about 2 Tbs.)
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbs. whole cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbs. Garam Masala
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven 375 degrees. Heat the oil in a cast iron pan, and saute the onion on low heat until it begins to brown. Next toast the spices for a minute in the onion and oil mixture. Toss the sliced sweet potatoes in a large bowl with the sautéed onions, spices and salt and pepper. Layer the sweet potatoes and onion mixture in the cast iron pan. Place in heated oven to bake. You will make the biscuit dough while the potatoes begin to cook.

Biscuit Crust:

  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tbs. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup milk

Directions:

Place flour, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to mix. Next add the butter and pulse until the butter and flour mixture is crumbly. Next add the milk and pulse just until the dough pulls together. Turn the dough onto a floured board and knead a few times – just until the dough comes together. Roll the dough out to about a half-inch, or as big as your cast iron pan. (I think my pan is 9 inches.) Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the biscuit starts to brown on top.

Polenta

Winter is really a true test of my allegiance. Up here in the North, winter traditionally implies that one’s larder will be full of root vegetables like carrots and potatoes, and in the dry pantry, we celebrate legumes and grains like wheat, oats and corn. I must confess, I much prefer to build a dish around a legume and grain than around a root veggie. Weird. I think it must be the texture, or perhaps that I can wrap it around the spices of Mexico, or scoop it up with a chip…Regardless, molded polenta is a really easy dish that often finds its way into our kitchen during the long, cold, winter months, and I love to dress it up like a Mexican pinata for the mental vacation! This polenta was topped with a slather of roasted and pureed butternut squash, and served on a bed of kidney beans with a drizzle of sweet pepper cilantro lime yogurt over romaine.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs. canola oil
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 head garlic, minced
  • 2 Serrano peppers, minced
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 12 cups water
  • 4 cups cornmeal (polenta)
  • 4 ounces hard cheese – I used Pecarino Romano, grated

Directions: Saute the red onion until it starts to brown on the edges. Add the minced garlic and peppers and mix until you start to cough from the capsaicin! Turn on the exhaust fan and continue working. Add the water and salt and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, turn it to a low simmer and add the cornmeal slowly. Mix it well for a few minutes to work out all the lumps. Keep it cooking over a low flame and stir every so often. Cook it for about twenty minutes until the corn gets soft.

To mold the polenta, you can use a bundt pan, a spring form pan, or small ramekins that have a thin coat of spray oil to ensure easy removal. Pour or spoon the polenta into the dish and place it into the refrigerator until it is firm. When you are ready to eat, molded polenta can be easily reheated in the oven or microwave.

Pepper Pie

This morning I was cruising through some of my favorite blogs, and I noticed that Lee Zukor, from Simple, Good and Tasty was wondering what to do with the plethora of peppers that have been arriving in the CSA boxes the last few weeks.  I had been planning to make a roasted pepper and white bean chili of sorts and dashed him off a few ideas for the soup. After surveying the contents of my crisper, I decided instead to make a dish that I came up with a few years ago. It’s my second favorite thing to do with an abundance of peppers – the first being pepper stew with beans.

Notice I have many sweet red peppers and a few jalapenos. I only used one of the really hot jalapenos, but also had a few mildly hot reds that made it into the pie. The dish came out with just a little zip – perfect. In the past when I have used only sweet peppers I add 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper to liven it up a bit.

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This dish I make is another one pot creation. It’s simple and delicious, but not particularly beautiful.  I do use TVP, but have, through research, started to question the healthfulness of soy. It seems that the jury may still be out on that one, so while my family has cut back on soy consumption the last few years, it’s still an occasional part of our diet. Any thoughts?

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And now, for what you’ve been waiting for…I present the illustrious and delicious, Pepper Pie! The answer for an abundance of autumnal peppers.

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Pepper Pie – Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 cups TVP – sprinkled on the bottom of a baking dish 9x13ish
  • 2 Tbs. oil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs. whole brown mustard seed
  • 1 Tbs. whole cumin seeds
  • 5 – 8 peppers, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 oz. feta
  • 4 whole fresh tomatoes
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 2 cups grated provolone, mozzarella or cheddar to top

Directions:

1) Begin by pureeing the tomatoes, feta and cilantro in a food processor.

2) Next, with oil in a saute pan and over low heat, slowly caramelize the onions. When they begin to brown on the edges, toss in the garlic for a quick saute. Don’t burn the garlic.

3) Shortly after you add the garlic, add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds. Keep everything in the pan moving until you hear the mustard seeds begin to pop. This is all happening on low heat.

3) Add the peppers and mix well with the other ingredients already in the pan. Turn off the heat. The peppers do not need to be totally cooked as they will be in the oven for a good while

4) Pour the pepper saute over the TVP in the bottom of a baking pan.

5) Cover the peppers with the tomato, feta, cilantro mixture.

6) Cover the dish with grated cheese.

7) Bake at 375 degrees until the cheese is melted.

Garbanzo Bean Burgers

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I made these bad boys so big that eating them with bread seemed overkill, but topped with an heirloom tomato and some herb chimichurri is pure perfection!

I was hoping the breadcrumbs and tahini would do the binding for me without eggs, but unfortunately, it didn’t really work. The veggie burgers were great after they came out of the oven and rested a few minutes. They were firm and held up, but when reheated later, they completely crumbled. The fresh herbs, garlic and red pepper give this dish a wonderful layer of flavor, but I’ll have to keep working on the binding. I wonder if a few tablespoons of flour rather than breadcrumbs would do the trick?

Garbanzo Bean Burger Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups cooked garbanzo beans
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. dry red pepper flakes
  • 1 fresh jalapeno or serrano
  • 1 handful each: fresh rosemary, sage, parsley, cilantro and basil

Directions:

Pulse through the food processor all ingredients with the exception of the beans. Once everything is well minced, add the beans and pulse briefly. You still want a few chunks of bean so the patty has a little texture.

Grease a cookie sheet with canola oil and preheat oven to 425 degrees. Make large patties and place on baking sheet. Brush the tops of the patties with more oil and bake until the burgers are browned, about 20 minutes. Once they are brown on the bottom, flip the burgers carefully and bake until the bottom is also browned about another 20 minutes.

Rice Crusted Zucchini Pie

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I’m not sure if you ever heard of Ole and Lena. Well, they live here up north in Minnesota loving life and bumbling around. They will make you laugh for sure especially if you put on your best “Up North” Minnesota accent when you read or tell one of their jokes. I always heard lots of Ole and Lena tales from my dad after he moved far north to Duluth.

Here’s one for you – remember the accent!

Vell, don’tcha know, old Ole got sick and vus dyin’ in his bed. And vhile vaitin’ for her old husband to kick duh bucket, Lena started in to cookin’. She vus makin’ lefsa and a nice zucchini hotdish. Well, Old Ole, he loved nuttin’ better than Lena’s hotdish, and ven he smelled it from da deathbed, up he went to da kitchen. Vhen Lena saw dat he vas eatin’ a plate of hotdish and lefsa she took it from him and said, “Ole, vat are ya doin’? Dat hotdish is for duh funeral don’tcha know!”

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Rice Crusted Zucchini Pie Recipe

Prep:

Make two cups brown rice, saute onions and garlic, slice zucchini, devein and steam dinosaur kale and puree sauce.

Crust Ingredients:

2 cups brown rice, uncooked

1 bunch dinosaur kale

1 tsp. canola oil

1 egg

1/4 tsp. salt

Directions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. After the rice cooks, turn it out into a large bowl. Fold in the oil, salt and egg first. When it is well mixed, gently fold in the kale. Press this into an oiled baking pan. I used a large 9x13ish pan. Bake the crust for 15 minutes to allow it to firm up a little. This photo is the crust before I baked it.

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Toppings:

2 Vadalia onions sliced and sauteed

8 cloves garlic, sauteed

3 thinly sliced zucchini

2 thinly sliced yellow squash

parmesan cheese

Directions: While the crust bakes, saute the onions and garlic. Then slice the squashes into thin rounds.

Sauce Ingredients:

8 ounces feta

5 roma tomatoes

1 handful fresh basil

Directions: Puree together with a food processor.

Assembly: Think of this like a pizza. You make the crust, top it with sauce, add other delicacies and finally, cheese. With this monster, after you bake the crust you will first spread the onion and garlic saute, then add the sauce and finally, decorate with the squash rounds and a sprinkle of cheese.

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Galette with caramelized onion, fennel and kale

Galette with caramelized onion, fennel and kale


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This galette is made possible from the generous contribution of a leftover pastry from yesterday’s pot pie!  Like the beans I cook in bulk, I think I will continue to double every pastry recipe and freeze half for later adventures! It makes the second adventure so easy!

Once again, I am working through the contents of this week’s luscious bounty from my Foxtail Farm CSA. This dish includes small red onions, fennel, kale, zucchini and yellow squash from the box. I also made a fennel and rosemary pesto to top the galette, and I’m sure that will evolve into sandwich topping or pasta sauce for multi-purposed enjoyment!

Ingredients:

Filling:

2 Tbs. olive oil

2 cups diced red onion

3 large fennel bulbs thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

6 large stalks kale deveined and chopped

3/4 cup crumbled sheep’s milk feta

Yellow squash, thinly sliced

Zucchini, thinly sliced

Pastry:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 sticks cold unsalted butter, diced

2/3 cup ice water

1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

Flaked sea salt and cracked black pepper

Pastry Directions:

This is a food processor method for pastry.  Start by mixing the flour, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add diced butter and pulse a few times until it looks like a crumble. I like to pulse the machine and add the ice water in a slow dribble just until it comes together. Dump the dough out onto the counter and knead quickly into a ball. Place it in a covered bowl in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Filling Directions:

This caramelization process is not something I normally do very well when I am working. I just don’t have the time for it, but as I am home now, I can fiddle with these techniques that involve a little more time and patience. I thinly sliced the onions and fennel and tossed them into a heated pan with olive oil. I had the heat moderately high to give them a quick cook, but then turned it down as low as I could and left them to caramelize for about twenty minutes. I did stir them occasionally, and when the pan began to dry, I put the lid on to deglaze with their own juices. While the onions and fennel were sauteing, I steamed the kale for perhaps ten minutes. I then added it to the onions and fennel and allowed them to slowly cook together. I used the steaming water from the kale to deglaze the pan a couple of times, and when all the liquid was evaporated and my fennel and onions a lovely shade of toffee, I considered the process to be over. I mixed in most of the feta leaving just a little to sprinkle on top for the final bake.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and roll out the galette crust. Place it on a large cookie sheet and fill the middle of the pastry with the vegetable mixture. Decorate with the summer squashes, and then fold up the pastry around the filling. Sprinkle the last of the feta on top and bake for about 50 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. I brushed this crust with the fennel and rosemary pesto about ten minutes before it was finished baking.

Vegetable Pot Pie

Vegetable Pot Pie

Oh, the weather outside is frightful…in July, in Minnesota! I’ve heard it’s been unseasonable cool in many parts of the the country, but when one starts thinking about pot pies and gratins in the middle of the summer, you know it’s severe! Saturday topped out at 65 degrees on a day that in years past has delivered 95 degrees with a dew point of 70. I absolutely hate too much heat so I should be thankful, but I really think something is wrong when I start shopping for a Riviera Maya vacation for August! At any rate, I made a warm and satisfying vegetable pot pie for a cool summer day! It is a summer treat as all the vegetables were all from this week’s CSA box.

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The recipe involves three parts: the vegetables, the roux and the pastry.

Ingredients:

The Vegetables:

2 cups onion finely diced

2 large fennel bulbs thinly sliced

2 tbs. canola oil

3 cups diced carrot

2 cups chopped green beans

1 small cauliflower head cut into small florets

5 leaves kale, deveined and chopped

2 cups cooked white beans

The Roux:

3 Tbs. canola oil

3 Tbs. flour

3 cups hot water

1 tsp. cumin seed

1 tsp. brown mustard seed

2 tsp. good curry powder

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 tsp. salt

Freshly ground black pepper

The Pastry:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 sticks cold unsalted butter, diced

2/3 cup ice water

1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

Flaked sea salt and cracked black pepper

Directions:

I would recommend you make the pastry first. It can cool in the fridge while you prep and cook the veggies. I used the food processor method for the pastry.  Start by mixing the flour, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add diced butter and pulse a few times until it looks like a crumble. I like to pulse the machine and add the ice water in a slow dribble just until it comes together. Dump the dough out onto the counter and knead quickly into a ball. Place it in a covered bowl in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Next, get all the veggies washed and prepped. I sauteed the onions and fennel over a low heat for about twenty minutes bringing them just to the point of caramelization. At that point, the rest of the vegetables can be added at the same time and sauteed for a few minutes. They will get baked in the oven, so you don’t want to overdo it.

The roux was fun to make because I had the idea to toast the spices with the flour and oil and it seemed to work! After I added the flour to the heated oil the mixture was pretty dry – perfect for toasting spices. I added all the spices and kept them moving around the pan until I heard the pop of the mustard seeds. I gave them a few more seconds to toast and then added the water. This boiled up quickly, so be ready to turn the heat down a bit. I whisked it all together until the lumps were out and finally, mixed it in with the vegetables. Once the roux and veggies are mixed, you can spoon it into a baking dish. I like the idea of making individual pot pies, but today opted for a one-pan quick method. I rolled out only about 1/2 of the pastry and cut it to fit the baking dish. I then cut it into six sections and premolded each so I could easily scoop out the pot pie without breaking up the crust. Brush the pastry with the egg mixture, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake at 375 degrees until it is brown on the top – perhaps 50 minutes to an hour.

Mock Pulled Pork Recipe

Mock Pork

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2 cans mock duck rinsed shredded

1  small onion

4 cloves garlic

1 jalapeno

4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

2 Tbs. dijon mustard

1 Tbs. smoked paprika

1 tsp. salt

1/4 cup white vinegar

1/4 cup brown sugar

Directions: Dice and saute the onion in a splash of canola oil. When translucent, add chopped garlic and jalapeno. Cook until just fragrant – you don’t want to burn the garlic. Puree the chipotle pepper in food processor and add all remaining ingredients to the pan. Let simmer for no more than three or four minutes as the mock duck can get a little soft if warmed for too long. Obviously, if you prefer a milder mock pork do not include the chipotle or jalapeno, and substitute 4 Tbs. tomato paste.

Serve as mock pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw and chips or as a Vietnamese pork Bahn Mi sandwich with pickled vegetables.

Also makes a great taco or burrito filling.