April in the Kitchen – Roast Garlic and Chard Bruschetta

April in the Kitchen – Roast Garlic and Chard Bruschetta

I think of bruschetta as a summer dish, but it is also perfect for other time of the year if you vary the toppings. We’ve had some very warm weather and my chard is bolting. I’m trying to harvest as much as possible before all is lost, but I think it is almost over for this batch that was planted last fall. As with last year, we’ve had an unseasonably warm spring. I need the garden space for tomatoes, always an iffy crop here in Northern California. The last two summers have been warm and I’ve been successful with the smaller varieties, cherry tomatoes also do very well. If it’s a foggy summer I make green tomato chutney in the late fall, some years they don’t ripen at all.

Chard and Roast Garlic Bruschetta

Chard and Roast Garlic Bruschetta

Back to the chard, this bruschetta is a delicious way to highlight the vegetable. Kale or even spinach would also be good prepared this way. Lightly cook the greens to ensure they are still vibrant.

Bruschetta with Roast Garlic and Swiss Chard

  • 1 head of garlic, top 1/4 inch cut off to expose the individual cloves
  • Olive oil
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon (non-waxed organic)
  • 1/4 cup of softened butter
  • Freshly ground pepper and sea salt
  • 1 bunch of Swiss chard, washed, dried, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 country loaf, sourdough preferred, thickly sliced and toasted
  • Red pepper flakes
Bruschetta

Bruschetta

  1.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Cut a piece of foil large enough to enclose the head of garlic, drizzle the garlic with olive oil, close the foil tightly, and bake for about 40 minutes until the cloves are soft.
  3. Cool the garlic to room temperature, then mix with the softened butter, zest and juice of the lemon, salt and pepper. Use a fork to mash it together.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet on high heat.
  5. Add the chard to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until just wilted. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  6. When ready to serve, spread the toast with the garlic butter and top each with some chard, sprinkle with red pepper flakes.
Roast Garlic and Chard Bruschetta

Roast Garlic and Chard Bruschetta

This recipe is adapted from “The Fat Radish Kitchen Diaries“.

I’m taking this bruschetta to Fiesta Friday #64 to share with Angie and the gang.

Fiesta Friday

Fiesta Friday

February in the kitchen – Cauliflower Croquettes

February in the kitchen – Cauliflower Croquettes

These cauliflower croquettes are amazing! My husband and I ate the entire recipe in a single sitting! Forget the meat (we did), you won’t need it. Made small they would be wonderful as a starter, or larger as a main or side dish. Gluten free, vegetarian (if you leave out the bacon), low carb, and delicious! Isn’t cauliflower a wonderfully adaptable vegetable?

I served the croquettes topped with avocado sauce. They would also be good with a fresh salsa verde or green sauce or a dollop of sour cream.

  • 1 small to medium head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 4 slices of bacon, fried crisp and crumbled – keep 2 tablespoons of the fat
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 4 scallions, very thinly sliced (white and green parts)
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped parsley
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup of garbanzo flour
  • 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  1. In a food processor rice the cauliflower florets (it should be evenly chopped but not completely pulverized).
  2. Transfer cauliflower rice to a microwave-safe dish and microwave on high for 4 minutes, or until cooked.
  3. Meanwhile pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  4. Transfer the cauliflower to a strainer lined with a tea towel. Let it cool until safe to handle, the twist the towel to squeeze out as much moisture as possible. There will be a lot.
  5. Transfer the cauliflower rice to a mixing bowl, and add the next 8 ingredients. Up to the olive oil. Mix well. add egg, scallions, parsley, salt and pepper and mix well.
  6. Heat two tablespoons of the bacon fat (if using) and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large heavy frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  7. Form the cauliflower mix into a loose croquette or burger shape. The mixture will be quite loose but will firm up when cooked. Press the patties flat with a spatula. Fry until brown on one side, then flip and cook the other.
  8. You may need to do this in batches adding more olive oil to the pan.
  9. As you finish one batch, place the cooked croquettes on a cookie sheet in the oven to keep warm while you finish frying the rest.
  10. Serve with avocado sauce, salsa verde, or sour cream with a garnish of parsley.
Cauliflower Croquettes

Cauliflower Croquettes

Cauliflower Croquettes with Avocado Sauce

Cauliflower Croquettes with Avocado Sauce

I’m taking this to Fiesta Friday #57 to serve with my avocado sauce. Come join Angie and the gang at the Novice Gardener.

January in the Kitchen – Crab Cakes

January in the Kitchen – Crab Cakes

Dungeness Crab - by brandita b 2007

Dungeness Crab – (photo by brandita b 2007)

Dungeness Crab Cakes

These special crab cakes are headed to Fiesta Friday #52 at the Novice Gardener. This is a special one year anniversary block party. I plan to make these cakes the size of a silver dollar for appetizers and pass them around with a small cube of avocado and a dollop of wasabi mayonnaise. Please join Angie and our friends for the fun.

Fiesta Friday

Fiesta Friday

Dungeness crab is found only on the West coast, from the chilly waters of Northern California up into Canada. The season runs from around Thanksgiving to August 1, closing briefly during the crab molting period for them to fill out. When molting the crabs use their meat for energy and will bury themselves in the ocean floor. Only mature male crabs are harvested and they must measure at least 6.25 inches across the back of the shell. Any undersized or female crabs are released back to the ocean to continue the mating cycle, ensure healthy stocks and future harvests.

The “meat-to-shell” ratio for Dungeness is approximately 25%, which makes it one of the meatier crabs available. A 2-pound crab will produce about ½ pound of picked meat. Dungeness crab meat is delicious and sweet tasting.

Crab meat

Dungeness Crab meat

I purchased several crabs off the fishing boat when visiting the Mendocino coast, we ate most of the meat cold, simply picked and eaten with crusty bread, salad, and a crisp white wine. To my joy, there was a bit over a pound of meat left over for making crab cakes.

I prefer my crab cakes to taste of crab, not breadcrumbs, and take my inspiration from sushi; specifically California rolls. These are considered “maki sushi” or rolls. They consist of seaweed wrapped around cooked crab, avocado, rice, and cucumber; often seasoned with wasabi paste. You also find them in what is called a “hand roll” where the seaweed is wrapped into a cone around the filling.

Make time so the crab cakes should chill for an hour before frying. Make these into small cakes around 1-½ inches in diameter to serve as a starter of appetizer for a party. They can be made a bit ahead and warmed in a 200 degree F. oven.

Dungeness Crab Cakes

  • About 1 pound of crab meat (Dungeness or other)
  • ½ cup of mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon of wasabi paste (to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Medium grind cornmeal, you’ll need about ½ cup
  • Vegetable oil for frying
Crab cakes coated with cornmeal

Crab cakes coated with cornmeal

  1. Prepare a large baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper
  2. Mix the crab, mayonnaise, wasabi paste, lemon zest, and soy sauce together in a large bowl. Mix gently so the crab stays in fairly large chunks. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
  3. Add the beaten egg to the mix and stir gently.
  4. Pour the cornmeal into a plate.
  5. With wet hands form the crab mixture into patties, I made fairly large ones, but small ones are especially nice if you are serving them as a first coarse or at a cocktail party.
  6. Roll the patties in cornmeal and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  7. Place in the fridge to chill for at least an hour.
  8. When ready to cook, heat a shimmer of oil in a large skillet on medium high heat.
  9. Add the crab cakes, flattening them slightly. Cook until brown on one side then turn to brown the other side. Turn down the heat if they are cooking to quickly. The interior should be cooked through and the outside crisp and brown.
  10. Serve with avocado, additional soy sauce, cilantro, steamed rice, and a lemon wedge on the side. Or, serve them as party food with a small slice of avocado and a leaf of cilantro on top.
Crab Cakes

Dungeness Crab Cakes

Join today’s party for great recipes for starters, cocktail food, drinks, and…

I served these larger for dinner but am taking smaller ones to the party.

Dungeness Crab Cakes

Dungeness Crab Cakes

January in the Kitchen – Sausage Rolls

January in the Kitchen – Sausage Rolls

These sausage rolls have been a big hit at parties, movie nights, and TV sporting afternoons. Sausage rolls are part of my English heritage, I remember my grandmother making them. She was wonderful with all kinds of pastry; I’m not nearly so clever. For those of you who are not familiar with them, sausage rolls are similar to “Pigs in Blankets”, an American favorite. But, much, much better! They are traditionally eaten on Boxing Day, the day after Christmas when the servants had a day off (if you lived in the Downton Abbey era).

Sausage Rolls

Sausage Rolls

I’m going to give two sets of directions, one with the sausage made from scratch and one with doctored store bought sausage. I’ve done them both ways, both are good. I’m not talented with pastry and used commercial all butter frozen puff pastry from Pepperidge Farm; but I invite you to make your own if you are so inclined. They would be even better.

This recipe was adapted from one in the New York Times by David Tanis.

Sausage Roll recipe #1 (from scratch)

  • 2 pounds port shoulder, not too lean, have it ground coarse (you can have the butcher grind it for you or do this in a food processor with the metal blade)
  • 2 teaspoons of kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon of black pepper
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon mace
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage or 1 tablespoon dried
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Sausage Roll recipe #2 (Cheater’s rolls)

Before you make the “cheaters rolls”, check the seasoning of your sausage by frying a bit in a skillet. The sausage may not need any extra spicing up and could be fine as is.

No one needs to know you didn’t make these from scratch.

  • 2 pounds mild pork sausage either bulk or removed from casings
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon mace
  • 1 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried
  • 1 tablespoons chopped fresh sage or ½ tablespoon dried

Pastry and Assembly

  • 1 package all butter puff pastry
  • 1 egg, beaten for egg wash
  1. Defrost the pastry if frozen.
  2. Mix the pork with all the seasonings in a large bowl, incorporating evenly.
  3. With wet hands form the sausage into 4 logs or rolls about 9 inches in length. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F
  5. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper
  6. Working one at a time, roll each pastry sheet into a rectangle approximately 9 by 10 inches, cut in half to make 2 pieces each about 9 by 5 inches.
  7. Unwrap each sausage roll from the plastic and place it in the center of one rectangle. Wet one of the long edges with a bit of water to seal the pastry and roll it up, tucking in any pastry at the ends.
  8. With the seam side down, cut each log into 8 pieces.
  9. Lay the pieces pastry side up (seam down) on the baking sheets and brush with the beaten egg.
  10. Repeat with the other pastry sheet.
  11. Bake for 25 minutes until the pastry is crisp and brown, and the sausage cooked.

Cool for a few minutes before serving, these are good warm or served at room temperature. They are even good for breakfast the next day reheated in the oven. Serve with a good spicy brown mustard such as the one here

These are excellent with a cold beer (or champagne).

 

November in the kitchen – Pumpkin Humus

November in the kitchen – Pumpkin Humus

This idea for this came from Rana in Dubai, she writes the blog Zaatar and Quinoa which features healthy vegan food. She recently posted a recipe for sweet potato humus, which is quite yummy. I wondered how it would be with pumpkin, I think of pumpkin as the November vegetable.

I adapted the recipe slightly. It’s still vegan, vegetarian and gluten free. I think this would be perfect served as part of a holiday meal.

Pumpkin Humus

Pumpkin Humus

Pumpkin humus

  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup of cooked pumpkin or winter squash
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Juice and finely grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of Tahini
  • 1 teaspoon of sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Pomegranate seeds or cilantro to garnish

Toast the sesame seeds and ground cumin in a small dry skillet. Watch closely, they will burn easily. Remove them to a small plate to cool.

Once cool, place all the ingredients above in your food processor or blender and puree. You may need to add water to thin it to the proper consistency. Blend until smooth.

Serve drizzled with additional olive oil and garnished with pomegranate seeds or cilantro.

This humus would be good in a pita bread sandwich with some left over turkey! How would you serve it?