Garden Fresh

"Convenience Food" and how to poach eggs.

Lunch today, with chard and an onion from my garden: a pictorial. You could garnish with chopped scallion, red pepper flakes, Japanese rice seasoning, chopped jalapenos, etc. I'd have added garlic, but am out until tomorrow. This took 15 minutes from chopping to table.








I poached the eggs with the seasoning packets. You can do that with ramen, but you gotta put the ramen in with the water. I find it more laborious. Plus, there are double the calories in a ramen block. You can partially scramble the egg if you prefer. But if you want good poached eggs,

Bring 2-3 inches of water and a splash of any vinegar to simmer (just below boil.) Crack an egg into a fine mesh strainer over a bowl or sink. Swirl it around for a few seconds just until the runniest part of the egg white drips out. Then slide the egg into the water. Repeat. Don't do more than three at a time, or four if you're a champ. Gently spoon a little of the simmering water over the top of the eggs. After a minute, make sure they're carefully loosened from the bottom, if necessary. For barely set yolks, take them out as soon as the whites on top are cooked.

Theoretical spaghetti sauce...

Sometimes I wish pasta salad hadn't become a thing in 1978 or whatever. Everything has been pasta pasta pasta ever since. But my 2nd gen mom and aunts called it all noodles, macaroni, spaghetti, maybe sometimes there'd be manicotti, which didn't sound remotely like how you say it. For them, it essentially rhymed with ricotta, which they also did not say like you say it. And there was lasagna, of course, contents of which were argued over every time it was made for Christmas Eve, which was now and then. When I grew up, I realized I was now putting my vote in for Aunt Helen's way, with just sausage, but actually, I still prefer all these dishes with the meat on the side, not inside. I've never been a ground meat sort of person, if that's a sort to be. So usually when I do eat it, it's for separate, not for mixing into things and screwing up their texture.

Anyway.  This Google search I just did is absurd, of course. First, because I know how to make spaghetti sauce 18 different ways and counting. Every time I make it, that's probably a new way. But I was looking for this particular one, cooked like a ragù, but without all the ragu in it. Second, because if I typed pasta, maybe I'd have found more of what I wanted, but I wasn't thinking of pasta, even though I'm actually going to put the sauce on ravioli later. And there will be sausage on the side, and salad from my garden.

And so whatever. This is what I plan to do. Chop vegetables, garlic, and a little salami, sauté it, add some tomato paste and red wine and let it reduce, then beef broth and smushed-up canned tomatoes, and some herbs from the garden. That's a fairly basic process. And let that simmer way low the rest of the afternoon. Then I'll see how it tastes later, finish it up, add a splash of cream, and serve it over the ravioli, which I got from Jungle Jim's pasta bar yesterday. Along with the sausage and mixed salad greens.

What's a cooking blog page post without photos, though? Hmm. Here is a linguini dinner I made for the boys recently, with a light chunky tomato sauce, sausage, and zucchini, and two photos of a very good gibson martini I enjoyed a few weeks ago. When the slow sauce is reality rather than theoretical, I will post instructions and pictures. 20140506_191152



stacked egg lunch

Last time I shared one of these, it was an egg between two salmon patties. I think an egg is nearly always a good idea. Today I had burrata topped with slices of homegrown Yellow Brandywine tomato, quick fresh pistou, and poached eggs. But if I'd had good bread to toast, I might have liked the cheese, tomato, and pistou on an open-faced sandwich, without the egg on top.


For the pistou I just pounded a couple of garlic cloves with a handful of basil leaves, added a couple spoonfuls of Asiago cheese, and drizzled in some olive oil.

If you use burrata with warm ingredients, it's a good idea to take it out a little ahead of time, so the chill is off.

Still harvesting!

Recently, I received two pie pumpkins in my produce delivery. Pie pumpkins are small and dark and easier to cut into than decorative ones. And much easier to prepare than you might think. 

I use my slow cooker. I cut the pumpkins into eight equal pieces, then scoop out the guts, put them in the slow cooker with about an inch of water, and cook them on high for about 3 hours until they are fork-tender. You can do it on low for longer. If you leave, make sure you have a tight seal and a timer, because you wouldn't want all the water to evaporate so that they start to burn. 

This can be done in an oven as well, but in that case, I would cover the pumpkins so the tops don't start to dry out. 

Each pie pumpkin will yield about two cups of mush, enough for a pie. Or other recipes. Since they have a high water content, you might like to let a bit of the liquid drain out before using it by putting it in a fine mesh strainer for half an hour, over a bowl or container. Your pie will be a little less dense than with canned pumpkin (which is still a very healthful thing; buy it all year round and put it in soup as a thickener or feed it to your baby) but I like the taste a little better. 

If you freeze it to use later, make sure you squinch out all the air so that water doesn't form on top.

Here are the tomatoes I posted recently; mostly ripened now, and only a couple that have not survived well. I have at least one more group outside I can pick and ripen indoors, but I'm running out of things to do with them!


Some I will just puree and freeze; others I'll simmer slowly with peppers, and then also freeze, for winter chili. 


Roasting all the things and making tomato soup

is what I do these days, pretty much. If there's even a possibility it can be roasted, I will roast it. I got a roasting book from the library to add to my roasting knowledge. If I like it, I'll tell you about it. 

By the way, the "recipe" on this page is near the bottom in bold italicized type. A brief template to use however you like.

Last week I roasted the one eggplant that grew in my garden, with some tomatoes and peppers I grew, and onion and garlic I didn't grow. (I added the onion after I took this photo.)


They were just drizzled with olive oil, a little pepper, and a few specks of salt. 

Here they are roasted:


And all I did then was put it all in the food processor and puree it into an insanely delicious dip for bread or crostini. Which we ate on the deck a couple nights later, when it was still warm.


Another time recently, I roasted delicata squash, yams, garlic and onions, mushed it up, heated it in chicken broth, and then processed batches of that for a very delicious and simple soup. Today I did the same thing for tomato soup.

The tomatoes on these pans were all picked green and allowed to ripen on the dining room table over the past two weeks. I roasted soft peppers at the same time, so I can preserve them for later, but they weren't added to the soup. The onions and garlic were, though. 20121008_145734

I used beef broth I made a few weeks ago and froze, but followed the same pattern as for the squash and yam soup. That's because the boys won't eat it unless it is pureed fine enough to give to a six month-old. So, heating it before processing it seems to do the trick. 

It was the finest beef broth I've ever made. I hope to make more next weekend.  20121008_165321

If it were just for me, I'd have added the seasoning (Kirkland Rustic Tuscan Seasoning; use about 2 teaspoons of whatever you like for a quart of broth and 4-6 cups of roasted vegetables,) warmed it, and eaten it this way with croutons and a little cheese. But...these other people here are tiresome about such things. Bring to a boil, simmer for 20-30 minutes, then process in batches in the food processor or blender. Taste for adjustments. Use whatever stock you like, but make it a rich one.

After I pureed it, I decided it wanted a pinch of sugar and a couple dashes of salt. This is highly dependent on your stock and tomatoes. The late season tomatoes want a little extra help. 20121008_175119

For a nice finish, swirl a bit of heavy cream into it. I ran out of cream this morning, sadly, so I added a sprinkle of very aged Gouda with my croutons. :-) 20121008_180151

Garden Dinner

Last night I chopped a variety of tomatoes and two Marconi peppers from my garden for a pasta dinner. Here are some phone photos of how that went. :-)

Yes, that's sausage on the same cutting board. Well, they were all being cooked together for a sizeable period of time, and of course I washed it anyway before doing the tomatoes. You just gotta use common sense. I never cut meat on the wooden cutting board at all, though. 

So there's about 2 lbs of tomatoes, 1 medium onion, 2 sweet garden peppers, 3 cloves of garlic, one pound of sausage. 

I cooked the sausage for about 5 minutes with a tablespoon of olive oil, then added the onions, peppers and garlic, and let them soften as the sausage continued to cook. The liquid they added to the pan assists with that. Then I added 1/4-1/3 cup of sweet vermouth. Any red wine that isn't too dry would do. Dry vermouth would be fine, as well. You can put that stuff in just about anything. Not a really cheap one, though; those are sorta sharp.

After that bubbled for a couple minutes, I added the tomatoes, a sprinkling of sugar, and 2 tablespoons of Kirkland Rustic Tuscan Seasoning, and put a lid on for a few minutes.

If this were just for me and not the kids, I'd have eaten it just like this, with a piece of bread and a little cheese. I'm not a big pasta fan.

But the boys would say, "Ew, it isn't really sauce." So I added a couple large spoonfuls of tomato paste, let it simmer for a few more minutes while the pasta cooked, and then finished it with a couple splashes of cream, and a couple dashes of salt and pepper.

For chunky sauce, you want a noodle that'll pick it up nicely. Rotini would work as well.