Caraway Carrot Sticks

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Preheat your oven to 350° F.

In a plastic bag, toss 1 TBSP of corn starch, 1 TBSP of olive oil, and 1 tsp of caraway seeds, a pinch of salt and pepper. Add 1 pound of baby carrots. Shake until they are completely covered. Spread on a baking sheet. Bake 40 minutes.

I served on a bed of baby spinach and spring mix lightly dressed with balsamic vinegar. I liked the way the caraway, the little olive oil, the salt worked with the salad. Makes two large servings.

Wow,  caraway and carrot is delicious. The caraway balances the sometimes overwhelming sweetness of roasted carrot perfectly.

I adapted this recipe from Melts by Fern Green, a cookbook I am currently reading. I used baby carrots and olive oil instead of vegetable oil and served on a salad. Otherwise the recipe is the same. She served it as a side with a sandwich melt…but I am out of bread. Otherwise, sounds like a great idea.

Pomegranate Relish or Dressing

Pomegranate Dressing or Relish

It’s pretty easy to clean a pomegranate, just cut it in half and pull the edges than knock it on the outside with a spoon and the seeds fall out. However, at Harvest Share this week, I got two packages of already cleaned pomegranate seeds. Sadly, however, they were already past their sweet spot and had turned sour and vinegary. I know some people would toss it out, since it was beginning to change, but pomegranate is acidic and just being past its prime does not make it a home for bacteria, just very sour flavor. I knew I could fix it and enjoy this fruit I really love. I just had to figure out how. Since it was already very vinegary, it made sense to use it as a sort of vinegar and make a salad dressing or a relish. But first I had to figure out what could balance the sourness. I pulled out aromatic spices like nutmeg, cardamom, and anise and tried a few grains with one pomegranate seed to see what I liked best. Both the nutmeg and the cardamon tried, but they added heat as well as balance and I wanted to make it more mellow, so I chose anise.

  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • ½ tsp anise seed
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • ½ yellow onion
  • 8 oz pomegranate seeds
  • 4 TBSP rice vinegar

I put 2 tbsp of olive oil in a sauce pan with ½ tsp of anise seed and heated to release the oils and flavor the oil. I then added 2 tsp of minced fresh ginger. I sliced ½ of a yellow onion into slivers and added to the olive oil, cooking until tender. I then added the 8 oz package of pomegranate seeds and cooked just until it started to break down. I added 4 TBSP of  rice vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. This made enough dressing for 4 large salads. It would also work well as a relish on the side where you might use cranberries, with pork, turkey, or sausage.

Here are a few salads made with the dressing. A simple salad with pecans and feta. A dinner salad with chicken sautéed with a bit of Old Bay. A dinner salad with some carne asada marinated in soy sauce and vinegar with some garlic, pears charred on the electric burner, and feta cheese.

 

Breakfast Tostada with Kale, Eggs, and Lemon

This took less than five minutes to make. I heated two pans on the stove, one set at about 4/10 and the other at 6/10 on the heat dial, a low and a high medium. In the low medium, I added no oil at all. I put about 1/4 of a small onion cut in thin slices and about 1 cup of chopped kale, chopped up. I added a bit of salt and pepper and a few red pepper flakes. I squeezed the juice from half a lemon on it and let it cook. I did not want it to get overly cooked, just warmed.

When the kale was about half done, I melted 1/4 tsp of butter in the other pan and cracked an egg in the melted butter. I added salt and pepper, and let it cook for a minute.

I put the tostada on a plate, spooned the kale and onions on the tostada, then I flipped the egg for a few seconds and placed the egg on top of the kale. When eating, I broke the yolk right away so it blended with the kale and onions. The kale alone tastes too strongly of the lemon juice until you mix the egg yolk…and then it’s a perfect lemony sauce .

This is a pleasant mix of textures, soft creamy eggs, crunchy tostada and soft, but still toothsome veggies. The egg yolk and lemon are a light and creamy sauce for the salty tostada and the sharp onions and slightly bitter kale. It’s fast, easy, and delicious.

Grits with Red Chard & Egg

So, you can make grits ahead of time if you like and even make a big batch of grits in advance, or you can make a single batch for just this dish.

Today, I made one serving, so I brought 1 cup of water with a dash of salt to a boil and added 1/4 cup of corn grits. Stir the grits in the boiling water for a couple minutes and then cover, turning heat down low for 15 minutes. If your pan is thin, check on it and stir frequently. If you have a big thick pot, you can just leave it and it will be cooked to perfection without sticking.

About 10 minutes before serving, heat a tsp of olive oil in a small pan. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp of anise and warm in the oil, add salt and pepper. Add 1/4 cup chopped onions and sauté until tender. Chop 1 cup of red chard, add when the onions are tender. Sauté lightly for
a minute or two then add 1 TBSP of rice vinegar. Let cook.

Poach an egg. You can either drop it in boiling water that you swirl to make centrifugal force keep it together or you can poach it in a microwave. Add about 1/2 cup of water to a bowl. Crack you egg into the bowl. It must be submerged under the water, but to be on the save kid, prick it with a toothpick or the tip of a knife anyway so it does not explode. . Cover the bowl with a plate. Microwave for about a minute. Keep an eye on it, sometimes it will be done in 40 seconds, sometimes a minute. I have poached dozens of eggs in the microwave and each egg seems to need their own time somewhere between 40 and 80 seconds.

Spoon the grits in the bottom of a bowl. Add the cooked chard, Place the egg on top. The yolk mixes with the vinegar and oil of the veggies into the luscious creamy, tangy dressing with the perfect blend of heat and bright tang.

Easy Baked Rice Casserole

This is inspired by a recipe I learned in college, though it’s run far afield since then. I was an international studies student then, was learning Arabic and Spanish, and had a lot of friends from around the world. Fairly often the International House, the center of international student and International Studies student social life, would have a potluck. They also had a big dinner fundraiser for which I helped make 1500 gyoza and 1200 krumkake in two of the most mind-numbing days of my life. But that’s another story for another day. One of the things at least or or two or three Arab students would bring was kabsa. And every kabsa was different. I learned how to make it and decided it was perhaps the easiest thing in the world to make. Now this is not going to be a traditional recipe because that’s the thing with kabsa, you make it what you want it to be.

The first thing is you heat your oven to 350° F. While it’s heating up, you put a baking dish on a medium high burner with a tbsp of olive oil. In the olive oil, you put about 1/4 tsp or so of an aromatic spice like nutmeg, cardamom, anise, allspice, cinnamon. The heat releases the oils and flavors the oil which is going to make everything wonderful. For today’s dish, I used 1/4 tsp of anise and a few shakes of red pepper flakes.

Then toss in a piece of meat – a chicken breast, 1/2 pound of ground beef, or some stew meat cut into good sized pieces, at least 1 inch square. I went far astray and used carnitas–which means I can’t really call this kabsa, because no Muslim would be using pork. You want to brown the meat.

While the meat is browning, cut up some vegetables into big chunks. No need to be dainty. For this one, I cut an onion into 8 wedges, crushed a couple cloves of garlic, cut some asparagus stalks into thirds, and chopped up two inch long pieces of red chard stalks and fennel stalks.

After the meat was browned, I tossed in all the veggies. I tossed salad tomatoes in whole and cut a lemon into quarters. The lemon is not required, but it sure makes it delightful. I just dump everything in, then I made a dip in the center, put one cup of rice there, added two cups of water. Now, if I were using chicken, I might add some turmeric here, but not for pork.

The raw rice, veggies, meat, and lemon – ready to get baked.

Okay, so to recap, aromatic spiece, browned bits of meat, big chunks of veggies, 1 cup rice, two cups water. That’s all you need, takes less than 10 minutes. Now you stick in the 350° and come back in 30 minutes and it’s done. No stirring, no messing with it, all in one pot. What could be easier?

The rice will be perfectly cooked. The large cuts of veggies keeps them from overcooking. Brownign the meat keeps the meat juicy and tender. It will taste not tasted boiled! The aromatic spice adds depth and the lemon wedges infuse the entire dish with a subtle, light lemony flavor. This makes four servings, that get better with every meal.

Breakfast Smörgås – Open-Faced Breakfast Sandwich


I really love a good open-faced sandwich, I suppose it’s my Swedish heritage and the tradition of smörgås. Two slices usually seems like too much bread, unless I use so much filling it’s unwieldy. I also have the Swedish yen for rye bread over all others. WinCo had fresh rye bread on sale for just $1.78 a loaf the other day. Who could resist?

Ingredients

  • 2 slices of rye bread with butter
  • Havarti Cheese sliced thinly
  • 1 tsp of reserved bacon fat
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 oz breakfast sausage
  • 2 TBSP yellow onion
  • 1 mushroom
  • 8 grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
  • red pepper flakes
  • 2 TBSP fresh fennel tops
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice

So, I put 1 tsp of saved bacon fat but you could use butter or olive oil in a small skillet on medium heat and added 2 TBSP of chopped onion, salt, and pepper and cooked until tender.

Meanwhile I removed the casing from 3 breakfast sausage links, but you could just measure out 3 ounces of breakfast sausage if you don’t buy it in links. I added the sausage, breaking it up into small pieces with a fork.

While the sausage was cooking, I sliced one mushroom in very thin slices.

I put a griddle on and started heating it to medium.

I put a small sauce pan on and heated to medium high with 2 tsp of olive oil. I added one clove of garlic (minced), shook in a few red pepper flakes and tossed in 8 whole grape tomatoes. I want the tomatoes to blacken a bit, so I shake them only to keep them from burning.

On the griddle, I laid down two slices of rye bread, buttered on one side and placed buttered side down. I sliced very thin slices of Havarti cheese and placed on both slices to melt while the bread toasted.

I chopped 2 TBSP of fresh fennel fronds and tossed into the sausage and mushrooms.  I cooked some fennel the other night and saved the tops knowing they are a delicious addition to anything with tomatoes.

I cut the top fifth off a fresh lemon and squeezed about 1 TBSP of lemon juice into the tomatoes, stirred and added the tomato sauce to the pan with the sausage, mushrooms and fennel.

Meanwhile, I poached 2 eggs in the microwave, breaking each into a tbsp of water in a plastic egg poacher. Poaching takes about 40 seconds for 2 eggs.

Everything should be ready together. I spread the sausage, mushroom, and tomato blend on top of both slices of bread. Then placed one egg on each slice.

 

English Muffin Breakfast Sandwiches

One of my favorite things about English Muffins is that they are the perfect size to hold one egg in a sandwich. An easy breakfast can be made by toasting an English Muffin and cooking an egg your favorite way. For me, I like a fried egg best, so that’s what I make. But what about adding a little extra to your sandwich. In the sandwich I made yesterday, I put some butter down on a medium cast iron skillet. I cooked my egg in the center, on one side, I cooked a small handful of spinach. On the other side, I toasted the English muffin, melting some thinly sliced Havarti cheese on it. Put the muffins on first, then the egg, then the spinach. To keep the egg from spreading out too far, I put it in a metal one cup measuring cup and  flip it on the griddle, leaving the cup in place. It holds the egg in place pretty well. You can also cut both ends off a can of tuna or cat food, and use it as a shaper to keep the size right.  The creamy Havarti is a perfect complement to the umami of the spinach.

This morning I made another sandwich. I started with the tomatoes first. I put 8 grape tomatoes in a small pan on medium. I did not add oil at first because I wanted a bit of char….it deepens the flavor and I always like a little char anyway. Meanwhile I heated my skillet for the egg, melting some butter in the center where I would cook it. When the first tomato burst, I put the egg on to cook with a dash of salt and pepper, put the English muffin in the toaster. Then I started to finish the tomato sauce. I added 2 tsp of olive oil, 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and then zested some lemon on top. When the muffin was done, I flipped the egg to cook the other side slightly, put it on the muffin. I then squeezed about 1 TBSP of lemon juice on the tomatoes and stirred. I spooned the cooked tomatoes on the other side of the muffin. It was delicious. The tomato sauce is rich in flavor, sweet with some heat and tartness and of course, the over easy egg added a creamy richness. Yum!

Sausage & Lima Bean Stuffed Portabello Mushroom

Portobello mushrooms were just 1.99 per pound at the grocery store last week, so I picked up a couple, knowing how much I love them stuffed. Then I went and used the spinach I planned to stuff them with for something else and had this crazy idea I would try lima beans. I have some frozen lima beans from Harvest Share and thought why not? After all, lima beans are not super moist, so they might be great stuffing.

I preheated the oven to 350° F while I mixed the following in a bowl.

  • 1 cup of lima beans (thawed in microwave for 1 minute)
  • 4 links of half-cooked breakfast sausage, peeled and cut (I heated in microwave for 1 minute and drained off the fat, peeled off the skin and cut into small pieces.)
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • stems from 2 large portobello mushrooms, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 egg

Mix all this together and stuff into the cleaned caps of two large portobello mushrooms. I had some left over, I will use it with scrambled eggs.

Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.

You can shred some parmesan cheese on top if you like, but it’s not needed. Lima beans are a great choice for stuffing as they don’t lose their shape or substance when cooked, so the stuffing does not become overly mushy. All the ingredients in the stuffing were chosen to remain their constituent selves while holding together. They worked. The stuffing was completely cooked, but not the least bit soggy or mushy…thanks to draining off the sausage grease and using ingredients with low water content. Paprika seems to be made for mushrooms and works well, too with lima beans and sausage. This is a very satisfying meal that takes care of all your umami longings while remaining relatively light and fresh. This makes two stuffed mushrooms which would serve two if accompanied by salad or soup, or one meal on their own.

Roast Pork & Asparagus Sandwich

This was a delicious sandwich that took just minutes to make. Of course, I already had some pork roast in the fridge from supper the other night. I made Earl Grey roasted pork, but this would work with any good roast pork.

For Earl Grey Roast Pork, preheat oven to 450° degrees. Pour 4 or 5 packets of Earl Grey tea ground for steeping and roll the pork roast in the tea, coating all sides lightly. Roast until 140° (about 30 minutes for a 1.5 pound roast) and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. The roast for this sandwich, though, was cold, but it need not be.

Turn the oven to broil

I took one hot dog bun. You could use a ciabatta or sourdough, too, but I used what came from Harvest Share. Spread some butter and sprinkle with garlic salt (or crush one clove of garlic and mix with the butter), slice parmesan cheese thinly and lay down on layer of parmesan, Put four stalks of fresh, young asparagus on each side and broil. Keep a close eye, you do not want it to burn. It took about 4 minutes to broil with the rack at the middle.

While the sandwich was broiling, I cut two slices of roast pork and mixed up a quick spread with chopped parsley, chopped red onion, and mayo in equal portions (about 1.5 TBSP of each) and seasoned with a bit of garlic salt and pepper. I spread it on one side, laid the pork on the other, put them together and had a delicious, fresh tasting sandwich.

The mayo helped bind all the flavors together. I like the aromatic flavor of the Earl Grey pork, the bite of the onions, the fresh and tender asparagus and the earth grace notes from the parmesan and parsley.

Chicken & Spinach Sandwich

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Heat a cast iron skillet to medium with 1 TBSP of olive oil. Chop 2 TSBP of red onion and 2 of those baby yellow bell peppers. Add salt and pepper. Sauté until tender.

On a cast iron griddle or pan on another burner, toast a sandwich bun. I toasted it dry without butter or oil.

Meanwhile, cut one boneless chicken breast tenderloin into small pieces of about 1/2 inch square, salt and pepper. Add to the skillet and cook until done, (3 – 4 minutes), Add 1/2 cup chopped spinach or baby spinach, add a TBSP of mustard vinaigrette and put a lid on for two minutes to cook.

While the veggies and chicken are finishing, cut two slices of tomato and grate a bit of parmesan cheese, just enough to sprinkle over the sandwich.

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To assemble, spread some mayo on the top side of the bun and place two thin slices of tomato. On the bottom side of the bun, spread your cooked veggies and chicken and sprinkle grated parmesan over it.

Add salt and pepper.

This was delicious, the blend of textures, the crispy coated bread, the gooey parm, the slight crunch of the peppers, with the tender spinach and the freshness of the tomatoes. The flavors are full of freshness and umami. I used only a small bit of parm, but it was just enough to be creamy. The mustard vinaigrette finished it off perfectly with a bit of tang and bite.