July – Raw Beet Dip or ‘Making Do’

July – Raw Beet Dip or ‘Making Do’

I think we are all ‘making do’ right now. It might not be as bad as rationing during the last great wars, but it feels like we are under attack just the same. I feel fortunate to have a large garden and belong to a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm where I get a box of fresh produce each week. But, unlike my own garden, I don’t get to choose the contents of the box. Turnips…sorry I just can’t get behind them, even pickled. And, although I love beets and chard, enough is enough. Thankfully they don’t include zucchini, of which I have a plethora. But, I have become creative with other items of abundance in the box.

Kale and chard are easily quickly blanched and frozen in one cup portions for soups this winter. Once cooked a huge bunch of either becomes manageable. Kale also makes an amazing raw kale pesto (see a future post for the recipe). And, I have heard it is excellent in green smoothies. Just a rumor.

Beets are delicious roasted and marinated in a simple oil and vinegar dressing. A jar of them in the fridge will make a fantastic addition to a salad with blue cheese and toasted walnuts. They are also excellent pickled, I understand they are a classic on a hamburger in Australia.

And, they are also beautiful and flavorful in this raw beet dip. Okay, I get it, you have your doubts. But believe me this dip was received with raves at a recent outdoor appropriately socially distanced cocktail hour.

How are you making do?

Butchered and shaggy hair has become a symbol of the age of Covid (our salons are closed yet again) in the same way that many of us are sporting the Covid-10 on our waist and hips. My grey roots betray my age as well as how long it has been since I have seen my favorite professional stylist. I can count the months since a professional pedicure in the polish slowly moving down the length of my big toe’s nail. I choose to wear these signs proudly as a sign of adherence to the rules.

Gone are skinny jeans, instead I wear loose fitting boyfriend jeans and an oversized T-shirt. In addition I sport a boyfriend (or husband) haircut, both of us having had a turn with the scissors. He hasn’t done such a bad job actually although I am glad I can’t see the back except with some effort. Could raggedy and un-dyed hair be a new sign of nobility and and frugality? Will the age of Covid result in a whole new standard and definition of beauty? Will I no longer want or need my quarterly routine of three hours of cut and color at a cost of $250?

Will we all wear our manes with an ownership of our own natural beauty…curly or straight, unencumbered by an outgrown standard of comeliness defined by the commercial artistry of an industry?

Anyway, food for thought.

And meanwhile we have this lovely ruby red raw beet dip to keep us happy.

Raw Beet Dip

Raw Beet Dip

You don’t need to cook the beets for this dip. Nor, if you have young and tender ones, do you need to peel them. My own was on the large side, so I did peel it. I used walnuts, but almonds are fine. In the original recipe there was a smear of labneh or Greek yogurt on the base of the dish, I didn’t have either available and we didn’t miss them. Serve this with sliced pita or pita chips or cucumber spears or even potato chips. If you only have one lemon on hand, zest it before juicing, and set the zest aside for garnishing later.

To start, get out your food processor or blender.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. of beets (2-3 small or 1-2 larger ones) ends trimmed and roughly chopped
    • I peeled my large beet but it probably wouldn’t be necessary with smaller ones
  • 1 1/4 cup of walnuts, toasted in a dry skillet on low heat or a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Watch carefully so they don’t burn. 1 cup can be whole, chop the additional 1/4 cup for garnish.
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons of fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice, plus the zest for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses, plus more to taste
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil plus more to garnish
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Optional – 1 cup of labneh or Greek yogurt for serving

Method:

  1. Put the beets, 1 cup of walnuts, 3 tablespoons of lemon or lime juice, pomegranate molasses, red pepper flakes, garlic, and salt into a food processor or blender.
  2. Puree on high until the beets and nuts are finely chopped. Scrape down the sides and blend again until the mixture is as smooth as possible.
  3. Add the olive oil in a steady stream and blend again. You want a mostly smooth puree.
  4. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. You may need more molasses, or lemon juice, or salt.
  5. If desired and available, spoon the labneh or Greek yogurt into a small bowl, smoothing it with the back of a spoon. Spread the beet dip over the top, smoothing again. Top with the 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts, the lemon zest, and a generous drizzle of olive oil

Serve with cucumber spears and chips for dipping.

Dip will keep for a week in the fridge, covered.

Raw Beet Dip

Raw Beet Dip

What are you doing to ‘make do’?

This recipe came to me via Alexandra Stafford who writes the blog Alexandra’s Kitchen, she in turn found it in the New York Times by Tejal Rao. We have both made some modifications and adaptations.

I wonder how the folks at Fiesta Friday are making do??? It’s a virtual blogging party hosted by Angie, this week it’s #338 on the Fiesta week list cohosted by Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau

Please come by to sample all the yummy recipes, and get craft and decorating ideas. And please consider adding your own post to the party if you are a blogger. We would love to read what’s going on in your life and kitchen, how you are making do in this crazy time.

July – Spicy Grilled Pork Kabobs with Fennel, Cumin and Coriander

July – Spicy Grilled Pork Kabobs with Fennel, Cumin and Coriander

If you have been following this blog for any time at all you will have noticed that I adore the combination of fennel seeds, cumin seeds and coriander seeds. This recipe for spicy grilled pork kabobs adds coriander leaves, lime juice, garlic and jalapeno to that magic combo.

See Turkish Lamb Chops for another example.

Turkish Lamb Chops

Turkish Lamb Chops

Those spices char in the high heat of the grill or under the broiler, turning them into an aromatic counter point to the cubes of juicy pork.

If you are using wooden skewers, soak them in water for at least an hour before you thread on the pork. I find an empty wine bottle (of which we have an abundance these days) is the perfect size.

If you have time, marinate the pork in the spices for 24 hours before cooking.

Spicy Grilled Pork

Spicy Grilled Pork

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1 1/2 cubes
  • kosher salt
  • 1 lime, plus extra wedges for serving if desired
  • 1/4 cup cilantro or basil or mint or a combination
  • 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed an peeled
  • 1 jalapeno or other green chili, seeded if you want a milder flavor (I used only 1/2)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of coriander seeds

Method:

  1. Season the pork lightly with kosher salt (use less if using sea or regular salt) and put it into a bowl or resealable plastic bag.
  2. In a small dry skillet toast the fennel, cumin and coriander seeds until they become aromatic and golden brown.
  3. Juice the lime into a blender or food processor. Add the cilantro, fish sauce, garlic, jalapeno and honey. Blend until the jalapeno and garlic are pureed. Add the fennel, cumin and coriander seeds and pulse four or five times to bruise the spices and mix them in.
  4. Pour the mixture over the pork, tossing to coat all sides. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
  5. When ready to cook, heat the grill or broiler with a rack 4 inches from the heat source.
  6. Thread the pork onto skewers, leaving a little space between each piece.
  7. Grill or broil over the highest heat possible (2-5minutes) then turn the skewers or pieces and continue cooking on all sides until browned and charred in spots. A little pink in the center is fine but there shouldn’t be any red spots.
  8. Serve sprinkled with additional sprigs of herbs if desired.

 

Spicy Grilled Pork

Spicy Grilled Pork

We served this with grilled zucchini from the garden and sliced tomatoes.

Spicy Grilled Pork

Spicy Grilled Pork

Spicy Grilled Pork

Spicy Grilled Pork

It’s grilling season here in the Northern Hemisphere and this is a perfect dish to bring to Fiesta Friday hosted by the lovely Angie. It’s Fiesta Friday #336 and I am the lucky cohost this week. Click on the link to join the party, discover delicious recipes, fun crafts, decorating and gardening ideas. Please consider adding your own link as well, we would love to get to know you.

June – Grilled Cauliflower with Sicilian Puttanesca Relish

June – Grilled Cauliflower with Sicilian Puttanesca Relish

Grilled Cauliflower with Sicilian Puttanesca

Grilled Cauliflower with Sicilian Puttanesca Relish

Did you know you can grill cauliflower? Well I didn’t until I recently saw a recipe for grilled and charred cauliflower. I should have thought of it really. Well, if broccoli can be grilled, cauliflower is not far behind. In the summer we grill a lot of vegetables on the BBQ (in the winter we roast), those two are our preferred ways to cook most vegetables. They develop a much deeper and often sweeter flavor as a result of the slight charring and caramelization.

This dish has a puttanesca relish with the Sicilian twist of dried fruit. Sweet and sour combinations are a classic for Sicily. The recipe is adapted from one in the New York Times for Grilled Broccoli with Apricot Puttanesca. Adapted because I only had cauliflower on hand the first time and no dried apricots. And what is puttanesca without anchovies!!! Heretical. But leave them out if you don’t like them or want to make a vegetarian option.

You need to cut the cauliflower and/or broccoli into largish chunks so it doesn’t fall though the grill. Spread the relish over it while it is still warm. We served this with a simple grilled chicken, it would be equally delicious with fish.

Note: The second time I made this I combined the cooked drained raisins, capers, olives, chiles, oregano and anchovies in the bowl of a small food processor. Processed until roughly chopped. Proceed with step 4 below.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of yellow raisins
  • 3/4 – 1 cup of unflavored rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of capers, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of pitted Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of marinated Calabrian chiles in oil, minced (or pickled hot cherry peppers or a good pinch of red pepper flakes)
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon – 1 tablespoon of minced anchovies (depending on your taste, and leave out if you are vegetarian)
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil, more as needed
  • 1/4 cup of pine nuts, briefly toasted in a dry skillet (optional)
  • Juice of 1/2 large lemon
  • 2 heads of cauliflower, cut into large pieces or an equivalent amount of broccoli or a combination
  • Kosher salt as needed
  • 1 small onion or shallot, thinly sliced (optional)
Sicilian Puttanesca Relish

Sicilian Puttanesca Relish

See the note above for an optional preparation method.

Grilled Cauliflower and Broccoli with Sicilian Puttanesca Relish

Grilled Cauliflower and Broccoli with Sicilian Puttanesca Relish

Method:

  1. Put the dried raisins in a small saucepan, add enough vinegar to cover. Slowly bring the mixture to a simmer. Immediately remove from the heat and strain the raisins, reserving the cooking liquid.
  2. Mix the raisins with the capers, olives, chilies, anchovies, and oregano. Set aside.
  3. If using, briefly toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet, pour them out onto a small plate to cool. Watch them carefully as they burn quickly.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk 1/8 cup of the reserved raisin cooking liquid and lemon juice with 1/2 cup of olive oil to make a dressing.
  5. Heat your grill to high (or oven to 425 degrees F). Toss the cauliflower (and/or broccoli) with olive oil to coat and lightly season with salt.
  6. Place the cauliflower (and/or broccoli) directly on the grill and cook until the outsides begin to char. Flip and cook a few more minutes or until tender. Alternately roast on a parchment paper lined baking sheet in the oven for 30-40 minutes until browned and cooked through.
  7. Remove from the grill and toss with the puttanesca and dressing until evenly coated. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the optional onion slices and pine nuts. Or, reserve and serve at room temperature later.
Grilled Cauliflower with Sicilian Puttanesca Relish

Grilled Cauliflower and Broccoli with Sicilian Puttanesca Relish

I think this recipe would be perfect for serving at your BBQ on the 4th of July. It can be made ahead and is delicious at room temperature.

I know this holiday will be quite strange for many of us. Here in Fort Bragg CA (there is much discussion about changing our name since General Bragg was a slave owning Confederate with a bad reputation) there will be no fireworks, no parade, no outdoor salmon feed, no craft show, and no beer or wine tasting tours of the town. It is indeed a very unsettling time to be an American.

We will celebrate with a BBQ for two out on the deck, toasting the holiday with an Aperol Spritz.

And I think the folks at Fiesta Friday will want to add this side dish to their party. It’s Fiesta Friday #335 hosted by Angie and cohosted this week by Petra @ Food Eat Love

Click on the Fiesta Friday link above to see all the treats and crafts other bloggers are bringing to the virtual party.

Stay safe, be well. Let me know how you will be celebrating this holiday.

 

June – Grilled Greek Chicken Legs

June – Grilled Greek Chicken Legs

Grilled Greek Chicken Legs

Grilled Greek Chicken Legs

This is really a basic recipe for grilling chicken legs, by that I mean pieces where the thigh and leg are in one piece. You could cook these in your oven if the weather turns less than ideal, a sudden cold snap or rain shower.

I used a simple marinade; the juice of a lemon, a couple of tablespoons of freshly chopped oregano (or a tablespoon of dried…actually I used both), a good slug of olive oil, and a little kosher salt. Rub this all over the legs and let them sit at room temperature for an hour or refrigerate, covered, longer (even overnight).

Heat a gas grill or your oven to 400 degrees F. Make sure the grill is clean and well oiled. Start the legs skin side down and turn at 20 minutes. We cooked them with grill covered for about 40 minutes. In the oven you can leave them skin side up for the entire time, it will still probably be 40 minutes.

I served them with grilled cauliflower (yes, you can cook cauliflower on the grill) with a Sicilian inspired puttanesca relish. That recipe will be posted.

Grilled Cauliflower

Greek Chicken Legs

I bet the wonderful folks over at Angie’s Fiesta Friday virtual blogging party would enjoy this. I am headed over to Fiesta Friday #334 where you will find a collection of recipes, craft and decorating ideas. Come on over and join us. This week’s co-host is Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau

June – Turkish Lamb Chops

June – Turkish Lamb Chops

This is a meal capable of lifting spirits, and right now I think we all need a bit of that. The news keeps getting worse, it makes me very sad and distressed. I am sorry, sorry for the U.S. and sorry for the world. We are all in need of loving arms around us, hard come by in this time of social distancing.

There is some comfort in feeding yourself and your family well. The warming spices in this dish of Turkish lamb chops just might lesson your heartache a little. Cook it on your grill if the evening is warm enough, sit on your deck or patio with a glass of wine or a cocktail or something sparkling with a lime wedge.  Listen to the evening songs of the birds. Be at peace.

Turkish Lamb Chops

Turkish Lamb Chops

The tahini sauce is optional. I almost left it out, but don’t do that. It adds a creamy counterpoint to the spices. And, leftover sauce was delicious the next night drizzled over a simple grilled chicken breast.

Ingredients for the lamb:

  • I tablespoon Marash Turkish pepper, or Aleppo pepper, or a large pinch of red chili flakes
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 pounds bone-in loin lamb chops, thicker the better
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Ingredients for the tahini Sauce:

  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 -3 garlic cloves, grated or minced
  • 1 3/4 kosher salt
  • 1 cup tahini
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 – 6 tablespoons of ice water

For serving:

  • fresh dill or fennel fronds, thinly sliced mint leaves, chopped cilantro or parsley
  • Ground sumac (optional)

Method for the lamb:

  1. Combine the red pepper, fennel seeds, coriander seeds and cumin seeds in a small bowl.
  2. Heat a small dry skillet over medium heat and toast the spices until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  3. Pour onto a small plate to cool and once cool, pour into a mortar or spice grinder. Add the salt and black pepper. Then pound or grind briefly until you have a coarse-textured spice mix. You do not want them to be too finely ground.
  4. Pat the spice mixture all over the lamb chops, let them marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or uncovered in the fridge up to 24 hours.

Method for the tahini sauce:

  1. In a food processor blend the lemon juice, garlic and salt. Let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes then add the tahini and ground cumin, blend until a thick paste forms. With the processor running, add the ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the sauce is smooth and thin enough to drizzle.

To finish:

  1. Heat the grill or broiler on high.
  2. Drizzle the chops lightly with olive oil. Grill until they are charred on the outside and cooked to your taste. The cooking time will depend on the thickness of the chops and your desired end. Mine took 3 minutes on each side for medium rare.
Turkish Lamb Chops

Lamb Chops with Red Pepper, Coriander, Cumin and Fennel Seeds

Lamb Chops with Red Pepper, Coriander, Cumin and Fennel Seeds

Lamb Chops with Red Pepper, Coriander, Cumin and Fennel Seeds

This recipe comes directly from a wonderful cookbook, Dinner – Changing the Game, by Melissa Clark published in 2017.

To ease kitchen boredom I have been perusing forgotten cookbooks and this one is definitely a winner. I took the recommendation of a friend and have a family member pick a cookbook, then I chose a recipe out of that book to make for dinner. It’s sometimes a stretch to find a recipe that matches ingredients on hand, but it’s a fun challenge and keeps me out of the dinner rut.

I think the mix of spices would also be good on a chicken breast, halved horizontally and pounded to an even thinness. Or grilled tofu, first drained between paper towels, then sliced before coating and baking or grilling.

I am taking this dish to share on Fiesta Friday #331 hosted by the lovely Angie. I am this week’s co-host so come on over to the virtual blogging party to find a new recipe or craft idea right from your arm chair.

Stay well everyone, and safe. Let me know how you are doing. We are all having up days, and down days.