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.

 

In My Kitchen – October 2020

In My Kitchen – October 2020

In My Kitchen is a monthly gathering of food bloggers from around the world. I’ve learned a lot over the years about new ingredients, products and tools from reading the posts. Click the link above to visit this virtual party. Our host is Sherry from Sherry’s Pickings. Please consider adding your own post, I would love to read what’s new in your kitchen.

September and early October are often referred to as ‘Indian Summer’ here in California. Besides a heat spell which seems to come unexpectedly (but every year) in May, it’s usually the hottest weather of the summer. And, it’s fire season. I used to look forward to this time of year, now I dread it. The good news is that the weather is now cooling and there is a weak storm system on the horizon. Hopefully it will assist the firefighters still battling the August complex fire which has burned at least a million acres and is now considered a ‘gigafire’. It’s the largest fire in California history, started by an unusual lightening storm this past August. Smoke has made the air’s particle count dangerously high. Even here on the coast there have been days when we don’t go outside.

I did manage to find a day to harvest the potatoes out of one raised bed. I was absolutely shocked at the abundant harvest from this one bed! I got almost a bushel of potatoes, Russian Banana and Princess.

September Potato Harvest

Fort Bragg Potato Harvest – September 2020

They are all considered fingerlings.

Fingerling Potatoes

Russian Gold and Princess Fingerling Potatoes

They are thin skinned and creamy inside. So far we have had them roasted like baked French fries and cooked as Syracuse salt potatoes. Have you heard of Syracuse salt potatoes? I had not before I went looking on line for recipes. Salt potatoes are a regional specialty of Syracuse, New York, a.k.a. The Salt City. Salt potatoes date to the 1800s, invented by local salt mine workers who created a simple and inexpensive lunch by boiling small potatoes in brine. The potatoes are still very popular today with the Central New York crowd and I understand they are a regular food item at the State Fair.

When boiled in a heavy salt brine they take on almost a mosaic salt shell but stay deliciously tender and creamy inside.

Syracuse Potatoes

Syracuse Potatoes

See the salty crust on these? I garnished them with some melted butter and chopped fresh herbs.

I served them with cabbage wedges roasted with heavy cream and parmesan and a simple roast chicken.

I have made this in the past with cabbage slices, it’s a favorite way of cooking cabbage as the cream caramelizes and the cabbage itself turns sweet. The link above will take you to the original recipe.

The combination with the potatoes was delicious.

You can find many different recipes for roast chicken on my blog. This simple one is my favorite.

In my kitchen I have a new book, Whole Grain Sourdough at Home by Elaine Boddy. Elaine was one of the first bloggers I met, actually through In My Kitchen, when I first started. At that time it was hosted by Celia of the blog Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. 

Whole Grain Sourdough at Home

Whole Grain Sourdough at Home

I just fed my sourdough starter (it came originally from Celia’s Patricia – we always name our sourdough starter) and am looking forward to trying some of her recipes. Because of the pandemic’s early enthusiasm for sourdough baking, the stores were out of most flours for months. I think exhaustion has finally set in and the shelves are restocked.

Sourdough Starter - before

Sourdough Starter – It’s Alive!

My own starter is named Devon.

And then there is the occasional flop. Isn’t this salad beautiful? Well, it was not a success in our household. I can’t remember where I found the recipe, maybe in the NY Times. It was a combination of roasted cauliflower and grated or finely chopped raw cauliflower with nuts, herbs, and pomegranate seeds. Sounds interesting doesn’t it?

It could have originally been from “Jerusalem,” the beloved Middle Eastern cookbook from Yotam Ottolenghi.

This salad sounded perfect but the textures and combination of sweet with tart was off. Next time (if there is one) I will make it with raisins or dates instead of pomegranate seeds, add more chopped red onion, more parsley and cilantro, less mint and raw cauliflower. And maybe some chopped green olives…

Roast Cauliflower with herbs and Pomegranate Seeds

Roast Cauliflower with Herbs and Pomegranate

It just goes to show that you can’t always trust a beautiful picture to be a great recipe.

In my kitchen I have two beautiful ladies, just back from the groomers and decked out as harem beauties.

Casey and Quinn as Harem Beauties

Casey and Quinn as Harem Beauties

Actually this photo was taken just outside the kitchen door before they had time to rub off the decorations. They are great favorites at the grooming parlor.

I am excited at the turn of the season. I don’t think summer food is exceptionally post worthy. Just how many blog posts of grilled vegetables and meats do you want to read? Me, not so many. But there are some exciting recipes I am looking forward to sharing, stay tuned.

And, stay well and safe. November promises to be an interesting month…

In My Garden – September 2020

I haven’t been spending any more than essential time in the garden so far this month. The smoke from the fires in the eastern part of the county have drifted over the coast. It looks like fog (but isn’t) and the skies are orange, more like Venus than here on earth. The air isn’t healthy to breathe.

Image may contain: sky and outdoor, text that says 'Smoky skies hang over the Mendocino Coast... POINT CABRILL LIGHT STATION'

It was so dark yesterday that we had to put the lights on in the house, I thought it was still night at 7 am when I woke. Our dogs are going a little crazy (you know how active Aussies need to be) because we won’t let them out to play. White ash covers our cars and the decks.

Casey and Quinn

Won’t you let us out to play?

I’ve been keeping the bird feeders and bath full so that any fleeing birds can find shelter, food and water. Birds aren’t my only visitors. Our native grey squirrel, the reddish Douglas squirrel, and chipmunks all enjoy the sunflower seeds.

chipmunk

chipmunk

The hotels and inns on the coast are full of evacuees fleeing the flames. We desperately need early winter rains. Fire season has at least another six weeks to go.

So, what’s happening in the garden? Remember last month when I put in a very late row of bush beans and zucchini? Well, this morning I saw the first zucchini flowers.

August planted zucchini

August planted zucchini

The first picture was the bed in August, the second a few days ago in September (with Casey observing). So far they are doing well. We may actually have beans and zucchini in October.

I planted lettuce, spinach and cilantro in two of the raised beds covered in fabric to cool them and protect them from the sun. They are doing well and I should soon be able to harvest the greens.

I have planted sprouting broccoli in one raised bed.

Sprouting broccoli

Sprouting broccoli

The flower beds are reflecting the impending change of the seasons.

And the pollinator garden has…well, lots of pollinators.

Pollinator garden visitor

Pollinator garden visitor

And that’s certainly not all that’s going on in the garden. It’s a constantly changing environment. Sometimes I just sit and watch and listen. Hummingbirds arguing for territory, birds scratching and singing, bees buzzing, butterflies flitting…it’s a very busy place. But it calms me in these days of hectic news. The bees don’t bother the hummingbirds on the same flower even though they are different. My prayer is that we realize we are still part of the same world and honor each other.

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).