October – Butternut Hominy Chicken Stew

October – Butternut Hominy Chicken Stew

Butternut Hominy Chicken Stew

Butternut Hominy Chicken Stew

This is what we call at our house a ‘soup stew’. It could go either way depending on the amount of liquid you add and the number of days since you made it. After a day in the fridge the butternut squash melts into the stew, thickening it and making it creamy. It was delicious freshly made and leftover. It’s a substantial dish and only needs some fresh tortillas or bread plus something green to accompany it.

Butternut Hominy Chicken Stew

Butternut Hominy Chicken Stew – leftover

I garnished the reheated leftover soup/stew with avocado, sour cream and some crumbled tortilla chips for contrasting texture. It was almost better the second day for a filling lunch on a chilly afternoon.

Chicken in this dish is delicious but not required. Leave the chicken out and use a good vegetarian stock for a vegetarian or vegan version.

This warming soup is just the thing for the fall’s cooling days when butternut squash is plentiful. Make it ahead and reheat just before serving.

Butternut Hominy Chicken Stew

Butternut Hominy Chicken Stew

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion (red or yellow) – about 1 large
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon piment d’ville or piment d’espelette (a sweet, spicy red Basque chile)
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 lb. of boneless chicken thighs, cubed
  • 6-8 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 32 oz of chicken or vegetable stock – more if you want it soupy
  • 1 large (32 oz) can of hominy, drained and rinsed
  • Chopped cilantro to taste
  • Lime to taste
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Lightly toast the cumin seeds in a dry skillet, remove to a plate to cool. Once cool, grind 2/3 of the seeds in a spice grinder or mortar and pesto to a powder. Remain the left over whole seeds for a garnish.
  2. In a heavy bottomed stock pot, heat the olive oil and saute the onion until slightly golden
  3. Add the garlic, chili powder, ground cumin, and Piment d’ville.
  4. Saute until mixed throughout and smelling wonderful, then add the chicken and butternut squash. Mix all until coated, then add the stock, the amount varying depending upon whether you want a thick-ish stew or a thinner soup.
  5. Add the hominy, and allow the stew to simmer until the squash is tender, chicken is cooked through, and the flavors have melded. About 25-30 minutes.
  6. Add salt, cilantro and lime juice to taste.
  7. Serve with tortillas, avocado garnish, more cilantro, lime wedges, a sprinkle of the remaining toasted cumin seeds and sour cream.
Butternut Hominy Chicken Stew

Butternut Hominy Chicken Stew

Garbanzo beans can be substituted for the hominy…also I could see a Moroccan or Spanish influenced dish if you change the spices.

I am taking this easy and delicious soup/stew to Fiesta Friday #350 sponsored by Angie. This week it is cohosted by Jhuls of the Not So Creative Cook. Come on by and read the delicious recipes, creative crafts, and decorating ideas.

 

September – Fennel, Prosciutto and Pomegranate Salad

September – Fennel, Prosciutto and Pomegranate Salad

Summer is definitely salad season and the less cooking we have to do in the warm weather, the better. This salad could easily be an entire meal, just add some crisp bread and creamy cheese on the side. You wouldn’t even need to turn on the oven.

So serve this salad in the dog days of summer. The weather man has predicted a massive heat wave this Labor Day weekend in northern California.

Fennel, Prosciutto and Pomegranate Salad

Fennel, Prosciutto and Pomegranate Salad

This salad was adapted from Bon Appetit (November 2008) and posted by the blog Smitten Kitchen (November 2008).

That seems like a very long time ago now, so much has happened and changed since then. In 2008 I think pomegranate seeds were mostly available in the fall, now I often find them in the store year round. They add a very satisfying crunch to the salad, a wonderful textural and flavor enhancement.

Fennel, Prosciutto and Pomegranate Salad

Ingredients for about 4 servings: 

  • 2 cups thinly sliced fennel bulb
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon of coarse kosher salt
  • 6 cups of arugula (about 4 ounces)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced mint leaves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (I used my fig balsamic)
  • 6 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, torn into strips
  • 1/2 cup of pomegranate seeds

Method:

  1. Toss the fennel with 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium bowl, sprinkle with salt. You can do this as much as a day ahead.
  2. Combine the arugula, green onions, mint, vinegar and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large bowl. Toss and season with more salt and pepper.
  3. Divide the greens among plates or in a large serving bowl. Top with the fennel, drape with the prosciutto. Sprinkle the pomegranate seeds on top
Fennel, Prosciutto and Pomegranate Salad

Fennel, Prosciutto and Pomegranate Salad

Fennel, Prosciutto and Pomegranate Salad

Fennel, Prosciutto and Pomegranate Salad

I am taking this to share on Fiesta Friday, it’s #345 this week hosted by Angie and cohosted by me. Indian summer is here and cooling salads are always welcome. Please join us by clicking on the link, you will find a variety of sweet and savory recipes, craft and decorating ideas.

Stay well and safe everyone. Don’t forget to keep your social distance and wear your mask. We need to be compassionate and take care of each other.

In My Kitchen – September 2020

In My Kitchen – September 2020

It is September already? Oh my! Labor Day usually means the end of summer but this year is certainly strange. School has started but only virtually here in California. Our holiday visitors usually go home in September but many of them are still here, living in hotels because the smoke and fires have driven them from their homes. Fall is our scary season because of warm weather and dry vegetation. We can only hope the winter rains start early.

This month is also the anniversary for this blog; started on September 26, 2014. At the time I had been recently laid off and was looking for a way to connect with others who had an interest in cooking and gardening. Little did I know how much it would expand my vision of the world. And how many lovely people I would come in contact with in the course of the next few years. My first post was titled When life gives you cucumbers… It is rather a fitting title for this year as well although perhaps I would change it to be something other than cucumbers. At least they taste good.

This month’s In My Kitchen will be a combination of July and August since I missed last month. In actuality September’s In My Kitchen is a review of August since September has only just begun. October will be a review of September.

So what’s been happening In My Kitchen?

An abundance of produce has meant preserving as well as meals that consisted mainly of vegetables. I was away for the first part of August and my assistant gardener (AKA husband) did a lot of harvesting. As a result I came home to 10 pounds of fresh beans that needed eating or preserving.

Fresh beans

Fresh beans

I blanched and froze several pounds for later in the season.

We ate several meals of green beans:

And I made several pints of quick refrigerator pickles (it was too hot to bring out the big hot water canner).

My assistant gardener harvested daily but, as usually happens, there were missed zucchini.

baseball bat sized zucchini

baseball bat sized zucchini

I intended to stuff this one but the fridge was bursting with produce that needed to be eaten. My worm bin got it in the end.

In My Kitchen I also have or had a half flat of figs from a local grower. I made Balsamic Pickled Figs and Brandied Figs (although I didn’t have any brandy so I used Cointreau). The leftover balsamic brine was reduced and added to some of my homemade red wine vinegar. It is adding a wonderful sweet note to salad dressings.

We also ate a number of them out of hand or in salads with candied walnuts, blue cheese and arugula.

Fresh Black Mission Figs

Fresh Black Mission Figs

 

Balsamic Vinegar Figs

Balsamic Vinegar Figs

Balsamic Vinegar Figs

  • 1 1/4 lb of Black Mission Figs, gently rinsed and dried but stems left on
  • 3/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 1/4 cups of sugar

Method:

  1. Sterilize 4 pint sized canning jars
  2. Combine the vinegar, water and sugar in a saucepan big enough to hold the figs. Bring to a boil.
  3. Add the figs to the brine and lower the heat to simmer gently for 10 minutes
  4. Add the figs to the jars and pour the brine over, leaving about 1/2 inch of space at the top.
  5. Wipe the top of the jar and put on the lids, finger tightening
  6. Process for 15 minutes in a boiling water canner. Once complete, turn off the heat but leave the jars in the water for another 10 minutes.
  7. Remove and let cool on a clean tea towel. Refrigerate any jars that do not seal.

Please refer to additional canning instructions (there is an abundance on line) if you need more details.

Don’t throw away the extra balsamic brine if you have extra like I did. I reduced it and added some to my red wine vinegar…oh yum! It is fabulous in salad dressings or drizzled over simply sliced tomatoes.

My kale was starting to bolt when I got home so I made a batch of kale pesto and froze several serving sized bags of blanched kale for winter soups.

Kale Pesto

Kale Pesto

Our CSA box has contained a lot of beets, both red and golden. I canned several jars of pickled beets from each.

On the way back from running an errand we saw a sign that a fishing boat at the docks had fresh albacore tuna for sale. You had to purchase an entire fish but they cleaned it for us. We had a lovely dinner of fresh grilled tuna and I froze the rest in appropriately sized portions. I’ve been freezing in vacuum packed bags so I have the choice of cooking them sous vide or thawing and cooking in another manner. The vacuum packing prevents freezer burn. I’ve found that I can cook most items, still frozen, sous vide and retain all the flavor and texture of fresh food.

Last night we pulled out some frozen lamb steaks, cooked them sous vide at 136 degrees (still frozen) for 3 1/2 hours and finished them on the BBQ. They were delicious and perfectly medium rare.

 

Fresh Albacore Tuna

Fresh Albacore Tuna – just off the boat

It’s finally tomato season, something I look forward to all year. In addition to my own garden tomatoes I purchased a flat of heirloom beefsteak tomatoes from Nye Ranch, just down the street.

Nye Ranch heirloom beefsteak tomatoes

Nye Ranch heirloom beefsteak tomatoes

We have been enjoying all kinds of tomato salads or big slices in sandwiches.

This salad of tomatoes with stone fruit and a seed drizzle was a big hit.

And finally In My Kitchen we had a wine tasting. This was a pre-release tasting of Pinot Noirs from the barrel. Navarro Vineyards in the Anderson Valley has a big farm barrel tasting each year for their members. It’s a lot of fun with wonderful food and wine. Of course, this year they had to go virtual. My husband and I got to taste 4 of their 2019 Pinot Noirs (the tasting was not virtual…maybe in more ways than one). Anyway it was great fun to chat with the owners and winemakers over Zoom and taste it with them. Here’s a picture of our tasting room set up in the kitchen with our tasting notes.

Sometimes I think it’s fun to go back and look at what was happening a year or more ago…

In My Kitchen – September 2019

I didn’t write one in 2018 or 2017

In My Kitchen – September 2016, we were preparing for a hiking trip in Ireland. Oh how I miss traveling.

In My Kitchen – September 2015

I hope you are all well and safe. This post is part of a monthly gathering of bloggers from around the world hosted by Sherry of Sherrys Pickings. Click on the IN MY KITCHEN link and you can read what’s going on in kitchens far and wide. And please consider adding your own post to the mix, I would love to hear what you are doing in your kitchen this summer (or winter).

August – Tomato and Stone Fruit Salad with Seeds

August – Tomato and Stone Fruit Salad with Seeds

For me summer is the season of non-cooking, at least as far as actual kitchen time is concerned. It’s the season of grilling and salads. An occasional foggy or cool day may call for a simple braise, but those are rare. I’d much rather spend my time out in the garden or taking a walk along the coast. But, eventually one grows weary of the repeated diet of grilled meat and grilled vegetables plus a green salad of sorts.

Enter tomato season, a little delayed and behind most of the U.S. here in Northern California. Our tomatoes aren’t really ripe until late August or early September. But I intend to take full advantage of our short season. I did manage to grow some in my garden this year but it isn’t enough to keep us in daily tomato salads.

Enter my local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) from Nye Ranch, which is just down the road. They raise their tomatoes under big plastic hoops and this week, for the first time, they offered them in flats to their members. I immediately snapped one up.

Aren’t they beautiful?

Nye Ranch heirloom beefsteak tomatoes

Nye Ranch heirloom beefsteak tomatoes

The think the first tomatoes are best appreciated simply, maybe on a slice of toasted rustic bread…they only need a sprinkling of flaky salt and a drizzle of olive oil to reach perfection. Heaven! Or tomato sandwiches, try this simple one that you will need to eat at the kitchen sink, the juices will drip down your chin Tomato Sandwich and the Kitchen Sink.

Later in the season is the time to be more inventive.

Have you tried adding fruit to tomato salads? The fruit will add an extra layer of sweetness against the tart acidity of the tomato. A little flaky salt underlines the sweetness of the fruit. My father always added a sprinkle of salt to watermelon to emphasize that sweetness. As a child I though that was weird, now I think it was a wonderful idea. This salad uses stone fruit but I have seen tomato and watermelon salads on the www. It seems like watermelon would be a good combination although I haven’t tried it, have any of you? This salad uses peaches but it would be equally good with nectarines, or plums later in the season. You could stop there, it would be delicious. But, read on…

A last minute drizzle of toasted spice and seeds added a crunch to this salad. I intend to use this same seed mixture on other vegetables, maybe on simply grilled zucchini (a vegetable on which I am beginning to tire). In fact it could be my new go-to enhancement for any simple roasted, grilled or steamed vegetable.

Tomato and Stone Fruit Salad with Seeds

Tomato and Stone Fruit Salad with Seeds

In addition to the seeds this drizzle includes turmeric and black pepper. What are the seeds? My favorite cumin, plus sesame seeds. Both are toasted first to enhance their flavor and crunch.

The recipe is flexible, increase or decrease the amount of tomatoes and fruit depending on what is available in your kitchen right now and the size of them.

Ingredients:

  • 3 – 4 tomatoes
  • 2 -3 ripe peaches
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher or flaky salt
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons of sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper

Method:

  1. Cut the tomatoes and peaches into wedges and position them on a large platter where you can spread them out. Sprinkle with the flaky salt and let them rest while you prepare the drizzle.
  2. Toast the cumin and sesame seeds in a dry skillet until beginning to brown and smell toasty, remove them to a small plate to cool.
  3. Warm the olive oil in the same skillet. Add the turmeric, pepper and toasted seeds to warm them and flavor the oil.
  4. Drizzle the warm oil over the tomatoes and peaches.

This salad can be made ahead and will be good for several days. It’s best warmed to room temperature before serving.

Tomato and Stone Fruit Salad with Seeds

Tomato and Stone Fruit Salad with Seeds

Tomato and Stone Fruit Salad with Seeds

Tomato and Stone Fruit Salad with Seeds

This recipe was developed by Ali Slagle for the Washington Post.

And if you can’t find perfectly ripe tomatoes or live in the Southern Hemisphere, try this different one with cherry tomatoes. They are usually available year round.

Tomato Salad with Roasted Lemons 

Roasted Lemon and Tomato Salad

Be well and safe everyone, have a wonderful Labor Day weekend.

I am going to take this to the party over at Angie’s. Fiesta Friday is a virtual blogging party, this week it’s Fiesta Friday #344 cohosted by Laurena @ Life Diet Health

Come on over to sample all the wonderful recipes, decorating and craft ideas.

And please consider adding your own link at FiestaFriday.net. To be featured you will need to add links to Fiesta Friday and the cohost.

 

 

August – Easy Refrigerator Pickled Green Beans

August – Easy Refrigerator Pickled Green Beans

I don’t know about you but, for me, it has been far too hot to pull out my big canner. My kitchen has been warm enough the last week without adding to it. Hence this recipe for easy refrigerator pickled green beans. The pickled beans won’t last as long as regular hot water canned beans, but 6 months is plenty of time to enjoy the harvest. They also taste a lot fresher and have a better texture.

As I said in an earlier post, I came home from a week away to find about 10 pounds of green beans had been harvested in my absence. That’s a lot of green beans. We ate a good percentage of them immediately…roasted green beans with garlic and olive oil, simply steamed green beans with coarse salt and olive oil, and in a Greek green bean salad.

Fresh beans

Fresh beans – these were all bush beans

The purple ones turn greenish when cooked. They were among the earliest to mature in my garden and were very prolific.

Oven Roasted Green Beans with Garlic and Olive Oil

Oven Roasted Green Beans with Garlic and Olive Oil

I still had a fair amount of green beans left over after 3 meals. I certainly didn’t want to waste them or throw them into the compost heap.

We like minced pickled green beans on top of avocado toast, it adds a welcome sharp note to the richness of avocado (especially when topped with a soft poached egg). You can also chop them, add a good spoonful of sour cream, and use them as a sauce for steamed or boiled green beans. Or, eat them out of the jar with a slice of sharp cheddar.

This recipe makes enough pickled beans to fill 3-4 16 oz canning jars.

Ingredients
  • 6-7 cups of blanched green beans 
  • 1 c white vinegar
  • c apple cider vinegar
  • 3 c water
  • 1/4 c sea salt
  • 1 T sugar
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 4 sprigs of fresh herbs such as dill, mint, tarragon or thyme
  • 1 tsp black pepper corns (I used smoked ones)
Method:
  1. Sterilize your jars and lids by placing them in boiling water for 10 minutes or running them through the dishwasher. Cool upside down on a clean dish towel.
  2. First, make the brine. Bring water, both vinegars and salt, and sugar to a simmer, stirring until all salt is dissolved. Remove from the heat and cool.
  3. Blanch the green beans by adding them to simmering salted water and cooking for 3 minutes. Drain and cool in a colander. I usually add a handful of ice on top of the draining beans and run cold water over them to stop the cooking. Spread them out on paper towels or a clean dish towel to cool completely.
  4. Place a garlic clove, herb sprig and 1/4 of the peppercorns in each jar.
  5. Pack the green beans into the jars as tightly as possible.
  6. Fill the jars with brine to within 1/4 inch of the top, close the jars tightly.
  7. Place in the refrigerator, they will be ready in about 2 weeks and will last for several months.

 

Quick Refrigerator Pickled Green Beans

Quick Refrigerator Pickled Green Beans

I had enough green beans for 3 pint sized canning jars with brine leftover. So I blanched the remaining snap peas from the harvest (only 1 minute this time). I added a slice of fresh ginger and sprig of mint to the one remaining pint jar and filled it with the snap peas. There was just enough brine to cover them to the top.

Snap and Snow Peas

Snap and Snow Peas

 

Quick Refrigerator Pickled Snap Peas

Quick Refrigerator Pickled Snap Peas

Maybe some of you also have a glut of beans from your yard or the farmer’s market…

Just in case you do, I am taking this to Fiesta Friday $343 over at Angie’s. This week I am helping by co-hosting. Head on over to join or check in on the virtual party. You’ll find lots of recipes, both sweet and savory, in addition to craft and decorating ideas.