Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pink Risotto in Honor of Breast Cancer Awareness


As you may know October is breast cancer awareness month. Ladies please remember to check yourselves MONTHLY, and get your doctor to do a yearly breast exam. It only takes a few minutes, and early detection is so IMPORTANT! If you aren't quite sure how to give yourself a breast exam here's a useful link:
http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/InteractiveTools.htm

Now on to the food! Over the past month many bloggers have posted pink recipes to raise awareness about breast cancer. I really wanted to post something too, but other than a dessert with berries(which are out of season) or something with pink food coloring in it (yuck), I couldn't think of anything to make. I contemplated making something with cranberries, but then I had a eureka moment.

This summer I came across several recipes for an amazing magenta colored risotto made with beet's greens. We love beets, buy them on a weekly basis from the farmer's market, and we usually just throw away the greens. Well today we bought a bunch, and I used part of the greens to make this tasty pink side-dish! I was excited both to make something pink and to reduce my waste. FYI it doesn't really taste like beets - it just tastes like risotto, next time I will probably add a little garlic. Also, the recipe I worked from said this served 4, but we had no problem polishing it all off ourselves!



Beet Greens Risotto:
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Small Onion diced
1/2 C. Diced beet stems (not the leafy parts - we'll get to those in a minute)
1/2 C. Risotto
1/2 C. White Wine
21/2 C. Broth or Water
1/4 C. Parmesan (I've seen other substitute cheddar on this one)
1/2 C. Beet Greens thinly sliced

1) Bring the Broth or water to a boil, turn the heat down really low and cover.

2) Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and beet stems. Saute until onions are translucent. Add the risotto, saute another 2 minutes.

3) Add the white wine and cook until it is all absorbed. Then add 1/2 cup of the broth or water and cook until it is all absorbed. Repeat until the risotto is cooked - this may take 2 cups of water or 21/2, just give it a taste after 2 cups and see what you think.

4) Add in the Parmesan and beet greens and cook about 2 more minutes. Taste and add a little salt if you need to (the Parmesan is very salty so you won't need much, if any).

You can eat this as a main dish with a salad - we ate it as a side dish with some roasted chicken.

Once again remember the reason for this post - breast cancer awareness!!! Here's a link to a ton of other pink recipes http://www.recipezaar.com/recipes.php?q=pink. Here's a great site with a ton of other food and non-food ideas for going "pink"
http://pinkforoctober.org/

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Peanut, Peanut Butter and Jelly

I have found another super easy treat. I adapted this one from the Celiac Chicks (http://celiacchicks.typepad.com/celiacchicks/2007/01/peanut_butter_l.html) via Elana's Pantry (www.elanaspantry.com). As a bonus it is gluten-free - but so cakey and yummo!



Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars:
2 C. (1 16oz. Jar) Natural Peanut Butter (the kind that has oil on the top, the only ingredient on the jar is peanuts! - I used crunchy, but it's totally up to you)
1 C. Honey or Agave (I used agave - it is much gentler on your system, no sudden spike in blood sugar followed by a crash! - you can even find it a Walmart these days!)
2 Eggs
1 t. Baking Soda
1/2 t. Salt
1/4 to 1/2 C. of your favorite jam or jelly (I used some blackberry that my granny gave me)

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 pan with foil.

2) Thoroughly combine the peanut butter, honey/agave, eggs, soda and salt.

3) Spread the batter evenly in the lined baking pan. Put small dollops of jelly randomly on top of the batter. Use a tooth pick to swirl the jelly and the batter to make a pretty pattern!

4) Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown.

Elana of Elana's pantry used almond butter instead of peanut butter (http://www.elanaspantry.com/almond-butter-blondies/)
I would love to try that, but I had 2 jars of peanut butter in the cupboard so I thought I better use those up first!

You can also omit the jelly and have these plain, or stir in some chocolate chips to make a peanut butter blondie. I bet other nuts and/or dried fruit would be good too.

One last point, you can make a smaller batch if you want. I only made half the recipe - I just divided all the ingredients in half and baked the batter in an 8 x 8 pan. Turned out fab (though Alfred thought they could've used a little more sweetner).



Come on, you know you want a bite!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Gormeh Sabzi - Persian Green Stew



This stew is one of my favorite persian dishes. I first tasted it two years ago when we visited Alfred's sister Fereshteh in Los Angeles. Here in Indiana I have my very own Persian chef to make it for me.



In Farsi the name of the dish is Gormeh (which means stew) Sabzi (which means green). As the name suggests the stew is green; it is made from a mixture of leeks, parley, and an herb named fenugreek. It also contains dark red kidney beans, and like most dishes it is served with steamed basmati rice. Traditionally the dish contains beef stew or shank meat. We no longer eat beef, so we made a vegetarian version of this dish; it still tasted great (and now it's greener in a different sense). We also added in some extra greens - spinach and turnip greens.

Some of the ingredients - especially fenugreek and dried lemons - may be difficult to find. You can find these at speciality international stores. In the Dallas area I would recommend Andre's on Springvalley in Richardson. In West Lafayette I would suggest the Indian Food Mart near Chauncey. There are also a number of websites you can order these items from, including www.sadaf.com. You could also leave out these two ingredients and still have a delicious meal.

Gormeh Sabzi**
1 Cup of Dried Kidney Beans soaked over night, or 1 can of Kidney Beans
2 Bunches of Parsley
3-4 Leeks
3 Cups of Spinach
3 Cups of Turnip Greens
1/2 bunch of Celery - use all of the top leafy parts
1 Large Onion
2 Tablespoons Dried Fenugreek
6 Dried Limes
Juice of 2 Lemons
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Water or Vegetable Broth (around 3-4 cups)
Salt to Taste
** All of these amounts are estimates, you don't need to follow the recipe exactly

1) Roughly chop the parsley (leafy parts only), leeks, spinach, turnip greens, celery, and onion.
2) Drain and rinse soaked or canned beans.
3) In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add all of the chopped vegetables. Saute until wilted about 10 minutes.
4) Add the fenugreek, dried limes, and beans to the greens. Pour enough water or broth over the greens to cover them.
5) Cover and let cook on med-low heat for at least 2 hours.
6) Add lemon juice, taste and add salt as needed.
7) Serve with steamed basmatic rice.



Noosh-e-jan. (Bon apetite in Farsi)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pumpkin Puree Attempt #2

I wrote a few weeks ago that I had been unsuccessful in making my own pumpkin puree - I had attempted with so-called "pie-pumpkins" - which seemed appropriate. I ended up using butternut squash puree instead, but I wasn't quite ready to give up on trying to make pumpkin puree. This time I used an heirloom "Cinderella" pumpkin - and let me tell you she was just about too pretty to eat! I kept her for a week, hesitant to cut up such a beauty, but this weekend I couldn't wait any longer! For a mere $3 I got over 8 cups of perfect orange and creamy pumpkin puree.



To make pumpkin puree:
1) Cut the pumpkin in half, remove the seeds - save for toasting!!!
2) Cut pumpkin into smaller chunks and remove peel - alternatively you could leave it in half (and even not remove the peel), but mine was really big and wouldn't fit in my baking pans.
3) Place pumpkin halves/chunks in a baking dish (cut side down if in half) - preferable put a baking rack in the bottom of the dish so there is a little space between the bottom of the baking dish and the pumpkin.
4) Pour just a little a bit of water in the bottom of the baking dish - about 1/4-1/2 inch
5) Cover with foil and baking until very tender (mine took about 45 minutes at 350 degrees)
6) Puree the cooked pumpkin in a food processor or blender (if you left the peel on, just scoop out the flesh and puree it).

*** Instead of baking the pumpkin, you could steam it on the stove top or in the microwave.

With half of my puree I made pumpkin butter, which is a yummy twist on the apple butter from my last post - I've seen lots of versions on this on the web lately, I kind of improvised a little with what I had on hand.



Pumpkin Butter:
4 Cups Pumpkin Puree
11/2 Cups Dark Brown Sugar
11/2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Ginger
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all of the ingredients and let simmer on low heat - stirring occasionally until it reduces and thickens a little. Pour into canning jars and seal (or any other container, you'll just need to eat it sooner - which shouldn't be a problem).

*** Lots of the recipes I've seen on the web have called for adding some additional liquid - namely apple juice or cider. My pumpkin was more watery than canned pumpkin so I didn't think that was necessary. If you use canned puree, you should add about 1/4 cup of liquid for every cup of pumpkin.

Like pumpkin butter this is great on bread, but I can't wait to have it on some warm biscuits!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Pear Muffins and Apple Butter


The leaves are changing to lovely shades of gold and crimson. The air is crisp and cool. Fall is definitely here! I have already taken advantage of the tastes of fall: pumpkin, apples, lots of spices, this blog adds a few more fall-icous recipes.

On Saturdays our routine includes going to the farmers market and the public library. I always check out a few cookbooks, and I look over them in the evenings - it helps me relax :). This week one of the books I checked out was Williams Sonoma Bride and Groom Cookbook. The very first recipe was for Vanilla-Pear muffins and I just happened to have a basket full of pears - it was destiny! I altered their recipe slightly.

Pear Muffins
Topping:
3 T. Sugar
1/2 t. Cinnamon
Dry Ingredients:
2 C. Flour (I used a mixture of all purpose, whole wheat flour, and flax seed meal)
1/2 C. Sugar
2 t. Cinnamon
1 t. Nutmeg
2 t. Baking Powder
1/2 t. Baking Soda
1/2 t. Kosher Salt

Wet Ingredients:
2 eggs
1/4 C. oil
1/4 C. applesauce
3/4 C. buttermilk or sour milk
2 t. vanilla
3 Ripe but firm Pears (I used a combination of red and Bartlet) peeled and diced
1/2 C. Walnuts, chopped

Preheat the over to 375 degrees. Combine the topping ingredients and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. In another bowl, combine the wet ingredients expect the pears and nuts. Stir the wet and dry ingredients together, just until combined (a rubber spatula is best for this). Fold in the pears and nuts. Line or spray a muffin pan. Fill each cup and sprinkle with the topping mixture. Bake 25-30 minutes.

**I got 12 muffins plus to 2 mini-loafs out of this recipe.





I also made some apple butter, which brought back many sweet memories of my granny. I love homemade jelly and homemade apple butter, and granny is my source. In case you don't know apple butter has no butter in it, it is a thick sweet spicy apple sauce that you eat like a jam. I mainly drew from the recipe on the closet cooking blog (http://closetcooking.blogspot.com/2008/03/apple-butter.html).


Super Duper Simple Apple Butter:
10 Apples, peeled and sliced (I used Gala)
3/4-1C. Sugar (depending on the sweetness of your apples)
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. cloves
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 C. apple juice/cider or water

In a large saucepan over low heat combine all the ingredients. Let simmer until the apples are very tender (beginning to fall apart), and most of the liquid has evaporated leaving behind a thick dark brown syrup. Puree everything in a food processor until you have a nice smooth mixture. Mine filled up a 42 ounce jar.

This apple butter is great spread on the pear muffins, or biscuits, or toast, or straight out of the jar!

Happy Fall Everyone!