Proud of Potatoes!

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A few of the potatoes, there are red, yellow fingerlings and Peruvian blue growing.

I harvested a few potatoes two weeks ago and was quite proud of my potatoes!

Somewhere, I read that they are supposed to dry a couple of weeks before you eat them so I put them in a bag and let them be until last night.

Look at the inside!

Look at the inside!

Scrubbed potatoes were cut and placed into a pot with cold water and put over high heat. Once the water boiled, salt and herbs were added to water to steep flavor into the potatoes as they cooked.

You can learn more about potato varieties on my post: All About Potatoes

Boil until the potatoes are done, drain and season with snipped chives and a small dab of butter  or olive oil if you like.

YUM!

YUM!

The Peruvian Blue Plant

The Peruvian Blue Plant

The flower

The flower

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So far, it has been quite fun to grow the potatoes. The Peruvian Blue potato plants are actually quite lovely. I’ve kept adding more soil to mimic “hilling” and hopefully, this will result in decent results meaning actually having some potatoes.

I showed the first harvest to Robert he said “looks like its going to be a long winter.” I do hope there are more potatoes to find when it is time! It’s like finding buried treasure when it comes time to dig them out of the ground.

I grew the Peruvian Blue in a 55 gallon purple Rubbermaid bin that I drilled drainage holes in the bottom to drain excess water.

Someone told me that the bags rotted, a pot would have to be quite large so since I had a bunch of bins, one became the container to grow Peruvian Blue Potatoes.

Someone else told me of a large garbage can with a door cut into the side so you could open the door, reach in and harvest a dinners worth of potatoes, close the door and the plant carries on.

How cool is that idea?!

I’d have to think of how to build something though as I’m not to sure everyone would agree on a garbage can with a door cut into the side, growing a potato plant as part of the landscaping.

Now if I lived on a farm . . .

My tomatoes are pitiful. Blossom drop plague. But at least we have a few potatoes.

Wild Mushroom Arancini with Swiss Chard and Roasted Garlic

A miracle happened at our house recently. We had left over wild mushroom risotto. We have no idea how it happened but it is the only way to get to make arancini.

Mushroom Arancini

Mushroom Arancini

Arancini is made from left over risotto, breaded and sautéed to crispy golden brown.

Arancini 002

Arancini 002 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To go along with the arancini, I “water-sauteed” a bunch of red Swiss chard, added some roasted garlic, salt and pepper and 2 drops of liquid smoke – Yum! A lovely contrast of flavors that blend and contrast amazingly well with the arancini.

Here is how to make Arancini:

Use any left over risotto, in this case we had wild mushroom risotto.

Shape the risotto into equal size balls, flatten sightly and then dip them into a standard breading procedure of flour, egg wash, bread crumbs (or ground nuts, which would be amazing!)

Pan fry the arancini in a small amount of oil. Do this over medium heat so the inside of the arancini can get good and warm.

Once one side is golden brown, flip them over and brown the other side.

English: Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) with vari...

English: Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) with variously colored stems on sale at an outdoor farmers’ market in Rochester, Minnesota (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To make the Swiss chard:

Wash the leaves and remove the stems. Reserve the stems for another use.

Chop the chard into 1″ ribbons.

Heat a saute pan to hot, do not add any oil. This is going to be a “water-saute”.

When the pan is hot, add the chard all at once, allowing whatever water still on the leaves to remain. “Water-saute” the chard until it wilts. Turning in the pan as the water evaporates.

Add a heaping spoonful of roasted garlic and a few drops of the garlic oil to the pan, stir gently to incorporate.

Season with fresh ground pepper, salt and 2 drops of liquid smoke (totally optional!)

Once all the liquid has evaporated, you are ready to serve.

Place a mound of the Swiss chard on the plate, place a wild mushroom arancini on the mound, garnish the plate with fresh tomato wedges, sliced fresh mushrooms and roasted garlic.

Simple, elegant and rich in flavors.

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Simple (And Great Tasting!) Bean Burger

Bean Burger

Bean Burger; Can you see it under the mushrooms and onions? I had to take the picture before Robert got to the table and didn’t have time to “present” the burger for photos.

This simple and great tasting bean burger is quite simple to make and is versatile enough to become many things besides burgers.

  • 1 15-ounce can dark red kidney beans
  • 2 cups cooked old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 tablespoon dried vegetable flakes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced onion
  • 1/2 cup ground pistachio or almond meal
  • 1 tablespoon Bragg’s liquid aminos (the salt)

Start by cooking the oatmeal. Include the garlic, onions and dried vegetable flakes if using for flavor.

Drain the beans, rinse and add to the oatmeal.

Combine the oats and beans and all the seasonings

Combine the oats and beans and all the seasonings

Process the mixture in a food processor until things are coarsely chopped up. You do not want to make a paste.

Coarsely chop

Coarsely chop

Form burgers using a scoop for even sizes.

Scoop for even size

Scoop for even size

Pat the burgers with additional pistachio or almond meal to ‘dry’ the outside of the burger. This will allow it to become nice and golden brown.

Using a very small amount of coconut oil or olive oil in the bottom of a saute pan (or use a non-stick pat and go fat-free) place the bean burgers into the hot pan, being careful not to overcrowd the pan.

Saute them until golden brown on one side, flip and cook on the other side until golden brown too.

You can finish cooking them in the oven or hold them in the oven until you are ready to eat.

Delicious Cooked Bean Burgers

Delicious Cooked Bean Burgers

Remove the burgers from the saute pan and then add sliced mushrooms and sliced onions, saute for 2 minutes, then add 1-2 tablespoons of water, continue cooking until the water is evaporated.

Serve the sautéed onions and mushrooms over the bean burgers.

This evening, we served them on a bed of fresh spinach with a side Caesar salad. I couldn’t eat it all!

If you have leftovers, you can saute the  crumbled burgers with some diced onions, chili powder, cumin and diced tomatoes to make “taco meat”. Fill corn tortillas and finish with your favorite taco toppings.

I find this can be used nearly the same as you would ground meat. Make chili, tacos, casseroles etc.

Enjoy!

Bean Burger topped with sauteed onions and mushrooms

Bean Burger topped with sauteed onions and mushrooms

Raw Kale Salad – Give it a Massage!

I was reading a recipe the other day on the Food Network website regarding a Massaged Kale Salad from the Aarti Party Show.

Kale is on the edge of being overdone but this is worth exploring. Give it a try before you get sick of eating so much kale!

Kale saladPrevious thoughts had me thinking kale was too tough to eat raw. A quick saute, dip in hot oil, plunge into a hot oven or dropped into soup is how I prepared it before this recipe caught my eye.

So I tried it. Massage your kale, sounds kinky right?!

I had to come up with another way of massaging the kale as not everyone likes to have their food handled to this extent by someone else’s bare hands.

Use a dough hook instead of your hands

Use a dough hook instead of your hands

Bare hand contact can be a health issue if the person touching the food does not wash their hands correctly or is carrying some kind of germ.

While the recipe wasn’t followed, the massage technique was. The result is an addicting, tender kale salad that can be dressed in so many ways.

After massaging the kale, create your salad. All you need to add is other ingredients and the salad is already dressed.

Choose a toasted nut and a favorite fruit, fresh or dried. Add some cheese and you can go forever with the combinations that can be created as additions for this most excellent salad.

This is what I did last night:

Kale Salad with Toasted Pine Nuts, Dried Cranberries and Shaved Parmesan

  • 1 pound kale
  • Juice from 1 fresh lemon
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • A light sprinkle of salt and fresh black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
Trim the stems from the leaves

Trim the stems from the leaves

Trim leaves from the stems, wash thoroughly in cool water to remove any garden friends, sand and dirt.

If the kale is very sandy or has a lot of soil on it, soak it in a deep bath of salty water. Dip and lift the kale from the water so the soil is left behind in the bottom of the soaking bowl. You may need to do this several times to get rid of all the dirt.

Chop the kale leaves small, but not too tiny; bite size is perfect.

Place the chopped kale into a bowl. Drizzle the kale with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. The amount you use depends on how much kale you use. Only use enough to lightly coat the leaves, you don’t want anything on the bottom of the bowl.

Using your hands (washed of course! and wear gloves) or in a stand mixer on low with the dough hook, massage the greens for 2-3 minutes.

You will notice the leaves changing texture, becoming more tender and turning a brighter green as well.

Peel Parmesan into the salad with a peeler.

Peel Parmesan into the salad with a peeler.

After 2-3 minutes of massage, add toasted pine nuts, dried cranberries and use a peeler to shave Parmesan into the salad.

The above amounts can be adjusted to your liking.

Try other fruits, nuts and cheese in this salad, avocado is amazing too.

Top the salad with beef, grilled chicken, shrimp or fish to make it an entrée salad.

Serve and enjoy!

eating kale saladThis salad was so good, I came back down and scarfed another bowl in the middle of the night and another after breakfast.

Now I need to go buy more kale.

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Pear, Bleu Cheese and Arugula Salad

What a marvelous crisp and tasty fresh salad! Crisp pears, shaved thin, spicy arugula, earthy bleu cheese, crunchy hemp seeds and for dressing, simple drizzle with fresh lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil.

Grab a pear

Pear, Roquefort, Arugula Salad

1 small handful fresh arugula for each salad bowl

1/2 fresh ripe pear, any variety

1-2 tablespoons Roquefort or any bleu cheese for each serving

1 tablespoon toasted hemp seeds

1/2 lemon, please, not bottled juice!

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Place the arugula into a bowl. Slice the pear and place slices over arugula.

Crumble bleu cheese over, top with toasted hemp seeds (Optional)

Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil as dressing.

Refreshing and delicious!

Pear and arugula salad

Easy Grilled Vegetable Rosemary Skewers

The other day Robert was going to the lake with some of his friends. They were going to grill out and get caught up on each others lives.

He asked me if I could make a vegetable they could grill so I made these vegetable kabob on rosemary skewers.

Rosemary Vegetable Skewers

To make these skewers, cut the rosemary twigs on a bias to form a point.

You will need:

  • 2-3 zucchini
  • Whole button mushrooms
  • Pappadew peppers
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Rosemary stems
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette

Slice zucchini very thin the length of the zucchini. Wrap the zucchini around a drained pappadew pepper, thread it onto a rosemary skewer.

Next, thread a button mushroom, the top with a cherry tomato.

Marinade in a balsamic vinaigrette for at least 30 minutes.

Season each skewer with kosher salt and pepper.

Grill on each side for 2-3 minutes each side or cook over indirect heat for about 8-10 minutes.

Serve with grilled meats.

Since Robert does not eat red meat, when he stays out I usually turn into a carnivore. This particular evening I had some beautiful lamb chops marinated in garlic, rosemary, mint, lavender, oregano, olive oil, and black pepper. We grilled fresh buckwheat bread seasoned with olive oil and rubbed with raw garlic. Marvelous.

I had some mint sauce I made from an arm load of mint during the summer so I couldn’t wait to eat some lamb.

With Robert away, my friend Joanie and I grilled and set the table in the courtyard, poured some wine and had quite a feast.

All because of a rosemary vegetable skewer.

Pecan Crusted Fried Okra

Southern Cooking has to include okra of some kind so I thought Pecan Crusted Fried Okra would be interesting.

Okra

How many of you like okra?

The most common perception of okra is that is disgustingly slimy. I have to give you that it is slimy like a world of snails would love.

I’ll never forget the first time I had stewed okra and tomatoes and all I could think was “what is wrong with you people?” It didn’t help that the person who made the dish was a terrible cook. (Bless her heart!)

Then I discovered pickled okra and fell instantly in love.

Quickly I learned there are ways of preparing okra that avoid the slimy aspects of this misunderstood vegetable.

Used in vegetable soup, okra will give the broth a nice thickness, not too thick but not watery either. I love the little balls of seed that float into the soup, yummy.

Okra

Okra (Photo credit: NatalieMaynor)

Okra is found all over the world and is used in many cultures and cooked in just about as many different ways as you can find recipes.

I am working on developing content for Charlotte Cooks which begins filming the new PBS season in August.

We are filming a segment on Southern Cooking and that must include some kind of okra dish.

Robert thought it should be fried okra. So as I researched and thought, the idea of combining the southern love of cornbread, buttermilk and pecans with okra.

This is the result of my study.

Pecan Crusted Fried Okra

1 pound fresh okra – choose young tender ones over older more sturdy okra

1 cup Martha White Self Rising Buttermilk Cornbread Mix

(Use more as needed)

1 cup buttermilk

(Use more as needed)

1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

Mix pecans and panko together, use more as needed

Vegetable oil as needed to fry

Fine ground sea salt

Method:

Set up a standard breading procedure with trimmed okra, cornbread mix, buttermilk, mix the pecans and panko together in the third pan.

Standard breading procedure set up:
Use cornbread mix, buttermilk, pecans and panko

Wash and dry the whole okra pods.

Trim the tops off the okra, leave the pods whole other than the top.

Bread the okra by coating in flour, then buttermilk, then pecan mix.

Have a pan with enough oil to come half way up the okra in the pan.

Only enough oil to come half way up the okra. Don’t move them around too much.
See, even mine had some drop the breading. Keep those as “cooks treats”.

Cook on medium high heat about 3 minutes on each side. The breading will be golden brown.

Using a slotted spoon or slotted spatula remove the golden brown okra from the hot oil and drain on a fresh paper towel.

Season with a light sprinkle of fine salt.

Serve with Texas Pete Hot Sauce.

Be careful, not only are these lovely morsels tasty and addicting but they will disappear before you know it!

When calculating how much to make, always make more because you will need it.

OK, now here’s the thing. Many of you will experience the breading does not really want to stay on the okra. It is hard to bread an okra and have it stay on like it should.

Following the standard breading procedure making sure to get each pod coated in flour first then coat totally in the buttermilk then pecans you will have the best chance of keeping the breading intact.

Once they hit the pan, let them cook. Don’t move them around too much or you WILL see the breading all fall off. This is why they don’t get deep-fried too. Just enough oil to come about half way up the okra while in the pan.

Make sure the oil is hot so the okra start cooking as soon as they hit the pan.

Putting them in a cold pan and cold oil will result in soggy oil filled  okra. That is disgusting. Oil and slime. Avoid it.

When they are done, pile them up on a plate and serve.

Jump back quick because they will disappear before you set the plate down.

A Heaping Plate of Pecan Crusted Fried Okra

Ya’ll come and don’t be late for dinner!