August – Corn Cob Pasta Salad

August – Corn Cob Pasta Salad

Did your neighborhood participate in National Night Out on August 1st? National Night Out happens across the U.S. and is intended to bring neighbors together and promote relationships with local fire and police. Our own had a block party, it was easy to block the street since we live on a cul-de-sac. We roped off the street at 6 pm and let the kids roller skate and play basketball. It was a wonderful party, a chance to catch up with our neighbors, share some good food and wine. Our elected officials, local police and firemen took the opportunity to come around to introduce themselves and update us on civic events and trainings.

My contribution to the party was this vegetarian pasta salad. This is a perfect make ahead salad for warm days, I was able to make it in the cool of the morning and let the flavors mingle. Leftovers were even better for lunch the next day. There is no mayonnaise so you don’t have to worry about spoilage. It would be a great side for a summer BBQ.

Why do I call it corn cob pasta salad? Because the first step is to make a “broth” from the leftover cobs. I’ve read about this technique when making corn chowders, the cobs (once the kernels are removed) flavor the stock and give an extra flavor boost to the soup. Start by cooking the ears of corn in boiling water, then remove them after 4 or 5 minutes (when the corn is cooked to your liking), cut the kernels from the cobs, and return the ’empty’ cobs to the boiling water for another 30 minutes. The result is a mild corn flavored broth in which you cook the pasta. A corny stock.

You could use any shape of pasta, I used rotelle (wagon wheels) because I thought it would be fun for the kids and easy to eat off a paper plate.

Once the pasta is cooked and drained, I mixed it with the corn kernels, halved cherry tomatoes, chopped red onion, black beans, halved pitted black olives, shredded mozzarella, and lots of chopped parsley. The seasonings are light and simple, some red pepper, salt, vinegar, and olive oil. Since there is no mayonnaise, you don’t have to worry about food poisoning if it sits out for a couple of hours on a picnic table.

Corn Cob Pasta Salad

This makes a lot of salad, suitable for sharing at a large gathering for a 8 – 12. You could add fresh spinach to stretch it even further.

Ingredients:

  • 4 ears of fresh corn, cleaned
  • 1 lb box of dried pasta, your choice of shape
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 large red onion, chopped
  • 12 black olives, halved or sliced
  • 2 cups of shredded mozzarella
  • 1 bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 tablespoons of red wine vinegar depending on strength
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper

Method:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Add the corn to the pot, turn down the heat when it comes back to a boil and simmer for 3-4 minutes until it is cooked to your liking.
  3. Use tongs or another utensil to remove the corn from the pot.
  4. Cool the corn until you can handle it and cut the kernels from the cob, reserve.
  5. Salt the boiling water well and add the cobs back to the pot, simmer for 30 minutes on low heat.
  6. Remove the cobs from the water and skim any silk that might be floating in your corn broth. Bring the water back to the boil.
  7. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook as per the package directions.
  8. Meanwhile combine the corn kernels, tomatoes, drained black beans, red onion, and olives in a large bowl.
  9. Drain the cooked pasta, cool slightly (don’t rinse, I add a tablespoon of olive oil to keep it from sticking together) and add to the bowl with the other ingredients and add the pinch of red pepper.
  10. Add the olive oil and vinegar, toss together, taste for salt.
  11. Mix in the chopped parsley and mozzarella once completely cool.
  12. Taste again and add any additional seasonings that might be needed.

Also nice in the salad would be chopped red or orange pepper, I actually forgot to add them but think the pepper would be a flavorful and colorful addition. Finely minced garlic would also be good if you are serving only adults. What about hominy? Then it would be a triple corn salad…broth, fresh kernels, and hominy. This recipe is only a basic template for a world of flavors and your imagination.

July – Easy Graham Bread

July – Easy Graham Bread

Cleaning out old files of recipes can be a treasure trove of food memories. This time it was one for Graham Bread, found on a stained 3 x 5 card written by someone named Lynn (I regretfully don’t remember her but I remember her bread).

Graham Bread

I used to bake this quick dark loaf almost weekly. It is super easy, there are only 6 ingredients and zero fat. With a smear of cream cheese or labne (yogurt cheese), and a piece of fresh fruit it was a healthy and quick breakfast. It still is. Although this recipe doesn’t call for any added butter or oil, it is still moist. It contains a 1/2 cup of honey for the entire loaf, no sugar! You could substitute another form of sweetener such as maple syrup or molasses, both would add some interesting flavors. I haven’t tried it, let me know if you do.

Graham bread keeps well and provides a walloping 2.5 g of fiber and 3.8 g of protein in a single slice. I used sprouted wheat flour so the fiber and protein content is probably even higher.

Graham Bread

This bread is very satisfying but doesn’t sit like a lump in your stomach, it will fill you up and prepare you to meet the challenges of the day. It’s equally good as a snack at the end of the day.

Please note that the flavor of the flour is crucial here, use the freshest and best you can find. My local store did not stock graham flour, I was able to easily find and purchase it on line.

Graham Bread

This bread is not very sweet and goes well with savory dishes as chili or soup.

If you are not familiar with it, graham flour is a very coarsely ground whole wheat flour, usually made from dark northern hard red wheat. It contains all the germ, oil and fiber from the whole wheat kernel. It is very flavorful and commonly used in rustic breads and classic graham crackers.

You will recognize the flavor of graham crackers in the bread. Add chopped nuts and/or dried fruit for extra crunch and sweetness if you want. But it doesn’t need it.

Graham Bread

  • 2 cups of buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup of flour (I used sprouted wheat flour)
  • 2 cups of graham flour

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C)
  2. Whisk together the buttermilk and baking soda in a large bowl until bubbly
  3. Add the salt and flours to the buttermilk mixture, mix well.
  4. Pour into a large loaf pan.
  5. Bake for 60 minutes.
  6. Cool on a rack before slicing.

Graham Bread

This is the first time I’ve used this nutritional analysis, please bear with me while I get the hang of it. The loaf could easily be sliced thinner than 14 slices, it holds together well.

I am taking this to share on this week’s Fiesta Friday #182. Fiesta Friday is a virtual party hosted by Angie and co-hosted by none other than myself and Jenny @ Jenny Is Baking.

Please stop by to read all the fantastic recipes from all over the world.

A single serving of this recipe has 140 calories.

Nutrition Facts
Servings: 14
Per Serving % Daily Value*
Calories 140
Total Fat 0.7g 1%
Saturated Fat 0.2g 1%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 1mg 1%
Sodium 37mg 2%
Potassium 69mg 1%
Total Carb 31g 10%
Dietary Fiber 2.5g 9%
Sugars 11.6g
Protein 3.8g
Vitamin A 0% · Vitamin C 1%
Calcium 3% · Iron 6%
*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet
Recipe analyzed by
July – Three Pepper Quick Roast Chicken

July – Three Pepper Quick Roast Chicken

Three Pepper Chicken comes from a recipe typed by my mother on her old manual typewriter. I came across it while cleaning out some files, finding it was like discovering buried treasure. Mom had a cooking school in Florida back in the 70’s, but I don’t think this is from her classes. Judging from the folds, my mother must have mailed it to me. We shared a love of food and cooking. I don’t remember ever making it, which makes me sad. I missed an opportunity for the memories of a shared conversation about the recipe and the evening on which it might have been served. She would have wanted to hear all about the guests and the menu.

Three Pepper Chicken

This chicken was destined for our BBQ on a warm Friday night. It was too hot to spend time in the kitchen as we don’t have air conditioning. If your weather doesn’t cooperate, you could easily roast it in your oven. That’s how the recipe reads and my mom must have made it.

I combined her suggestion to spatchcock the chicken, cutting off the backbone and flattening it (see video),  with opening up the thighs for faster cooking. You can see more about this technique in my post about 45 minute roast chicken. The chicken does look a little pornographic but it immensely speeds the cooking time and ensures that the thighs are cooked at the same time as the breast meat. This method also has the advantage of letting you rub the three pepper seasoning into the thigh meat and the entire breast. The flavor is amazing!

Three Pepper Chicken

The three peppers are sweet paprika, black pepper, and Szechuan peppercorns. Only the additions of a little salt and olive oil are needed.

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon coarsely and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns, bruised and crushed slightly (I used a mortar and pestle but you could put them in a plastic bag and hit them with a rolling pin)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Olive oil – about 1 tablespoon

Method

  1. Preheat your BBQ or oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). If making it in your BBQ, set it up for indirect heat (the central burners off or coals pushed to the side)
  2. Mix the paprika, black pepper, Szechuan peppercorns and salt in a small bowl.
  3. Coat the chicken, inside and out, with the spices. Drizzle with olive oil.
  4. If cooking in the oven:
    • lightly oil a roasting pan just large enough for the chicken to lay flat, skin side up.
    • Press any remaining spice mixture into the skin.
    • Roast in the center of the oven for 30-45 minutes until juices run clear. The time will depend on the size of your chicken.
  5. If cooking on the BBQ:
    • Clean and lightly grease the grill.
    • Rub any remaining spice mixture into the skin.
    • Place the chicken skin side up over the area of your BBQ where there are no burners or coals.
    • Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
    • Turn the chicken skin side down and continue to cook for 20 minutes or longer until juices run clear. Timing will depend on the size of your chicken.
  6. Let the chicken sit for 10 minutes before carving.

Three Pepper Chicken

The chicken had the most lovely color and flavor from the spices. She would have enjoyed hearing all about it.

 

June – Tomato and Roasted Lemon Salad

June – Tomato and Roasted Lemon Salad

This scrumptious salad was inspired and came together by combining two recipes, the Tomato Chickpea Salad from the blog kitchn, and one for Tomato and Roasted Lemon Salad from the cookbook Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi. Are you familiar with Yotam Ottolenghi? He is the inspiration behind the London restaurants Ottolenghi and NOPI, and has written several vegetarian cook books. They include Plenty and Jerusalem, in addition to Plenty More. His recipes have a wonderful mix of new spices, exotic ingredients, and methods (at least to me), many of them coming from the middle east. I changed some of the spices (I adore cumin, allspice not so much) and added the stir fried chickpeas from the kitchn recipe to make it a heartier dish.

Roasted Lemon and Tomato Salad

The new method in this salad is the addition of roasted lemons. I love the way lemons become caramelized and sweet when roasted, sheet pan roasted chicken and citrus is a favorite at our house. But, I had never thought of adding them to a salad. They add a wonderful citrusy scent and mellow lemon flavor sweetened by the roasting. Take a deep breath when you open the oven to check on them, the aroma is incredible. I had a sudden craving for lemon meringue.

Roasted Lemons – before

Roasted Lemons – after

This salad will be even better at the height of tomato season, unfortunately it’s still a few weeks away for us and I missed the farmer’s market last weekend. Use the best cherry tomatoes you can find (a variety is colorful), the rest of the ingredients will certainly ramp things up.

This is a salad I will be making multiple times this summer, it is a perfect side for a BBQ or potluck. In fact it is my addition to a friends party on the 4th of July. It has the benefit of also being both vegan and vegetarian, so can be served to a variety of guests without worry about dietary restrictions. You could bulk it up even further by increasing the amount of herbs or adding some arugula. It is even hearty enough to serve as a main dish with the addition of some crisp bread.

Roasted Lemon and Tomato Salad

The recipe will serve 4 but it is easily doubled or even tripled. Make the roasted lemons and chickpeas earlier in the day, all you have to do later is assemble.

Tomato and Roasted Lemon Salad

  • 2 medium lemons, unwaxed and organic preferred
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon superfine sugar
  • 8 sage leaves, finely shredded
  • 2 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (it is nice to have a mixture of colors)
  • 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • Salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F (or 325 degrees C) and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Slice the lemons in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Thinly slice the half lemons into half rounds (paper fine if possible).
  3. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil.
  4. Add the lemon slices to the boiling water, and blanch for 2 minutes. Drain well, place the lemon slices in a small bowl and add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and the shredded sage leaves. Mix well.  Spread the lemon slices out in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake the lemon slices for about 20 minutes until the edges have browned and they have dried out a bit. Remove and set aside to cool.
  6. Meanwhile prepare the chickpeas. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the chickpeas and spread out in a single layer. Cook without stirring until browned on the bottom (about 4-5 minutes). Salt and stir them, spread them out again to brown the other side. Cook for another 2-3 minutes until golden brown and blistered on all sides. Remove from the heat, add the cumin and red pepper flakes. Toss to coat on all sides with the spices, taste them and add some salt if needed, set aside to cool.
  7. To assemble the salad combine the tomatoes, chickpeas, parsley, mint, pomegranate seeds, pomegranate molasses, onion, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper.Lastly add the lemon slices and stir gently.

    Roasted Lemon and Tomato Salad

    Roasted Lemon and Tomato Salad

    This salad was a hit on the 4th of July, I bet the folks at Fiesta Friday will also enjoy it. This week it is Fiesta Friday #179 hosted by Angie and cohosted by Petra @ Food Eat Love and Laura @ Feast Wisely. 

Join the party by adding your own link and come visit all the lovely food that contributors               are bringing along.

 

June – Middle Eastern Beer Can Chicken on the BBQ

June – Middle Eastern Beer Can Chicken on the BBQ

It was in March of 2015 that I first posted about beer can chicken. If you don’t have a rotisserie on your grill, cooking over a beer can (or other metal container filled with liquid), allows you to roast a whole tasty and tender chicken (or two) in your grill. As I wrote in the earlier post, the method is controversial. It has naysayers claiming cooking over a beer can makes absolutely no difference to the flavor, not to mention any other merits. I beg to differ. In my experience, it has two advantages. First, you fill the container with a liquid to flavor the chicken from the inside. There is no reason to confine yourself to beer. I have used wine, juice of all kinds (apple is very nice in the fall), chicken broth with spices or herbs, and plain water with sliced lemons and/or oranges plus some crushed garlic. Let your imagination go crazy. What would suit your taste buds on that particular day? And second, the liquid and metal container heat up and cook the chicken from the inside. This shortens the cooking time and ensures your chicken is done all the way through, resulting in a more reliably and evenly roast chicken. It has much the same result as those metal pins you can put in roasted potatoes to speed up the process.

There is a problem with using a real beer can though, it tends to tip over if you are not careful. I used the real beer can method for several years before I found this…a handy beer can BBQ tray with attached metal containers. It solves the problem of a potential scalding from a tippy beer can. Not to mention the mess it can make. This one came from Williams Sonoma where they call it Two-in-One Vertical Chicken Roaster. Please note that this endorsement comes only from my own experience and was not solicited.

Vertical Roaster

You can either roast two chickens (leftover roasted chicken is welcome on hot days), or one,  the center of the tray has a holder for a metal cup as well.

If you are using a real beer can, place it on a roasting pan or other flat surface. And handle it very carefully.

The weather in Northern California has finally reached summer temperatures, a few days before the the official date. Perfect for starting up the BBQ and staying out of a hot kitchen or further heating the house.

I decided to give these chickens a middle eastern flavor and use pomegranate juice as the liquid, and added a rub of cumin, Marash Turkish chile, and salt mixed with  with olive oil on the outside of the chicken before roasting. I first read about Marash chile in a book My Pantry written by Alice Waters, it has since become a favorite. If you don’t have it, substitute espelette or another you have on hand.

Although you could season the chicken immediately before cooking, letting it marinate for a few hours in the fridge will heighten the taste and aroma. You could even leave it overnight.

Middle Eastern Beer Can Chicken

Rub for two chickens:

  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin, toasted in a hot skillet
  • 1 teaspoon of Marash Turkish chile or another favorite chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons of kosher salt

Marash Turkish Chile

You will also need a liquid to put in the cups. See my comments above. Since this was a Middle Eastern themed dinner, I chose Pomegranate juice. Fill the cups 2/3 of the way to the top.

Chicken:

  • 1 – 2 organic chickens, free range if you can get them. Air chilled preferable.
  • Liquid or beer to fill cups

Slightly Off Kilter Chickens ready for the BBQ

Although these look tippy, they are held upright by the cups.

Method:

  1. Preheat your grill to between 350 and 400 degrees F (176 to 204 C). If using a charcoal grill, set it up for indirect heat.
  2. Fill the cups or can 2/3 with liquid, I used pomegranate juice. If using real beer cans, pour off some of the beer.
  3. If not done already, brush the chickens with marinade.
  4. Carefully place the chickens upright over the cans or cups, spreading out the legs.
  5. On a gas BBQ, turn off the center burner over which you will place the chickens.
  6. Place the tray with the chickens in the grill and cover the grill.
  7. Monitor the temperature throughout.
  8. Bake for 1 hour and check, the chickens will cook faster than you think. They may need another 10 minutes or more depending on the temperature of your grill and size of the chickens.

Finished Chicken

Crispy skinned chicken and tender meat is your result. Carve and serve.

Carved Beer Can Chicken