Monthly Archives: August 2012

Canned roma tomatoes

I’m a Crazy Canner

I love canning.  It’s no secret.  I have shelves upon shelves to prove it.

I’ve been neglecting my little blog lately, but I have a good reason.

Canned roma tomatoes

Fresh produce waits for no one!  

All my free time lately has gone to preserving fruits and vegetables for the winter.

Bear with me, dear readers, I promise I have some wonderful recipes to share with you.  Including some new, fabulous curry recipes!

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Black Truffle, Prosciutto and Purple Potato Fritatta

I have so much I’d like to write about tonight, but the words just won’t flow.  Have you ever had a day like that?  It’s frustrating, to say the least.

This past Saturday and Sunday was my scheduled weekend to work; and man, was it a doozy.

Working at a hospital is hard.  Really hard.

Emotions–of all types–surround you everywhere you go.  There’s no escape.  Seriously.  I’ve even seen people crying or trying to hide in the stairwells because they were so overwhelmed with emotion.

You may see a family weeping in the hallways or comforting each other with tears in their eyes and hope in their hearts one moment.  A few minutes later–maybe even simultaneously, or just a few steps away–there may be another family celebrating good news with ringing laughter and ice cream cakes.

If you work in a hospital, you understand.  If you don’t, my rambling may make absolutely no sense; and for that, I apologize.

Now that I’ve got that somewhat out of my system, I’d like to introduce you to dinner!

I made this simple frittata in a manner of minutes using ingredients I had on hand and “dressing them up” with the very special addition of fresh black truffle.

Italian Summer Black Truffles

A little goes a long way with these suckers.  They have a really strong smell and impart a fantastic, earthy flavor into a dish.

I decided to thinly slice the truffles and add them to a fritatta along with a little diced prosciutto, boiled purple potatoes and chopped parsley.

I love how beautiful the inside of the truffle is. I find it almost hypnotizing.

I whisked 6 eggs with a little salt and pepper.  I added my other ingredients to the mix and got a oven-safe pan on the stove top.

I added a bit of oil to the pan.  Once it was nice and hot, I added my egg mixture.  I cooked it the same way one would cook an omelet, and once the eggs were about 2/3 of the way cooked…I tossed them in the oven–under the broiler.

The eggs cooked in the oven for approximately 2 minutes before my fritatta was finished.  Easy!

Coming out of the oven…

Once I pulled the fritatta from the oven, I scattered a bunch of fresh truffle slices on top (I used 2 decent-sized truffles for my fritatta).

 

Because I used an enormous pan, my fritatta was really thin–more like an omelet, I’d say.

I served my fritatta with a simple side salad and some fresh fruit.

stacked!

It kind of looks like a colorful pie there, doesn’t it?

Ohh…pie.  That reminds me.

There is a fabulous food event coming to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area in September.  It’s called The Food Experiments, and I’ve got to say…I’m really excited to be taking part!  It looks like a lot of fun.  Pie.  Beer.  Shenanigans.  What could be better?!

Check out their website (linked above), and if you’re in the area…you should snag some tickets before they’re sold out! Or, if you’re feeling quite daring, sign up to compete!

 After the great success of the 2011 National Tour, the Food Experiments will be bringing the show to Minnesota on September 30, 2012. It will be the twelfth stop on our 16 city tour, in which we bring together amateur chefs to create inventive takes on the event theme for a panel of local celebrity judges and an audience of food enthusiasts.

Exciting!!! 

oops.

The Pie Disaster.

I’ve been working on a few new recipes lately.

Some have been good…but not perfect.

Some have been complete failures!

These little pies would be an example:

I made these delicious, mini crusts using tea biscuits, pistachios, butter, flour and a few spices.  They were incredible!  They firmed up perfectly and popped right out of the pan I used to bake them.

Then I whipped together a filling.  This is where it all went down hill…fast.

I aimed to make a delicious chai flavored filling.  Kind of like a custard, I guess.  Something the consistency of key lime pie would have been perfect.

I wanted to use real tea because too often (almost always) things that advertise themselves as being “chai” flavored don’t even contain tea at all!  They toss together spices–usually an abundance of cinnamon–and call it “chai.”

Chai is the word for tea, it’s not just a simple spice mix.  And since I’m already on my soapbox, I might as well say that “chai tea” is a ridiculous thing.  Chai is tea.  They mean the exact same thing.  “Chai tea” is tea tea.  It sounds so silly.  (I’m looking at you, Starbucks!!!) 

oops.

So, I brewed some really strong Darjeeling chai–flavored with all the essential spices: black pepper, cardamom, bay leaf, ginger, clove and a little cinnamon.

The tea was fantastic.

Unfortunately, when I added the tea to the rest of the filling ingredients the mixture thinned out more than I had planned; but it still tasted quite good.

I decided to bake it anyway, knowing that it would probably thicken up, and it eventually did…after it had already caused my beautiful crusts to crumble.  :(

I think it would have probably worked if I tossed the pie shells back into the pan and baked them that way instead of putting them on a cookie sheet and letting them stand free.

Oh well.

You win some, you lose some.

Lesson learned.

Not everything can be perfect and beautiful all of the time.  Not me.  Not life.  Especially not pie.

 

 

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Fig, Prosciutto, and Caramelized Onion Pizza with Pistachios, Chevre, and Honey

This weekend was a whirlwind of events; and I’m glad it’s over.

My gorgeous niece, Madelyn, was very sick and was admitted into the hospital.

She was full of bruises and her blood counts were not normal.  It was incredibly scary, but hopefully everything is figured out now (fingers crossed!).  Her counts are still not normal, but they are improving; and that is a good sign.

Because I spent my days worrying and my evenings working, I didn’t have time to post this incredible pizza I made last week.

Fig, Prosciutto and Caramelized Onion Pizza with Pistachios, Chevre and Honey

It was a pure pizza masterpiece.  

Fresh figs are one of my favorite things.  Unfortunately, it’s hard to find really good ones here in Minnesota.  Because figs are so delicate, they don’t ship well.  They started showing up at Trader Joes a few weeks ago–and you better believe I did a little happy dance!

But sadly, they weren’t good.

I was lucky enough to find a few cartons of them at my local co-op, and they were just right (the price was also significantly higher–unfortunately).

Fresh Figs: Black Mission. This little guy isn’t quite ripe, but it sure is pretty!

I sliced about 1/2 lb of figs along with some prosciutto (a very salty and thin sliced ham) and set them aside to top my pizza.  I also crumbled a couple ounces of chevre (goat cheese.  I used Trader Joes Honey Chevre) and chopped up some pistachios.

Prosciutto, Figs and a log of Chevre

If you love baking or cooking with pistachios, here’s a little tip I’ve learned:

To make it easier to shell and remove that paper-like skin over the pistachio, keep your pistachios in the freezer.  It seriously makes using pistachios a lot easier and takes a lot less time.  

I used my go-to whole wheat pizza crust recipe.  It never fails me.  You can get the recipe by clicking on the printer icon below.

While the dough was resting, I caramelized some onions with some fresh thyme (leaves off a few sprigs).

I used some onions that I had left over from another recipe, so It was probably 1/2 of a large onion.  I would definitely use 1 large whole onion, or maybe even 2 next time.  The pizza was amazing, but more caramelized onions would have made it even better.

Caramelized onions with fig preserves

Once the onions were caramelized, I tossed in about 2 tbsp. of fig preserves and let it all melt together.

I thought that by adding the fig preserves to the onions instead of just spreading them out on the pizza I would get better flavor, and it might help keep the pizza from becoming too sweet.

I was right.

After my crust had been precooked for about 5 minutes (I always precook my crusts), I spread the caramelized onion mixture on top of it.

You can see it needs more onions

Then, I topped the onion mixture with the prosciutto, sliced figs and chevre.

Unbaked Pizza

I baked the pizza on a stone for about 10 minutes in a preheated 450 degree F oven.

One the pizza was done baking, i tossed on a bunch of chopped pistachios (they were previously salted and roasted) and drizzled a bunch of pistachio honey over the entire thing.

The saltiness of both the prosciutto and the pistachios really helped even out the sweetness of the figs and the onions.

The chevre added an invaluable tang.

Piyush and I enjoyed our pizza while we watched the American women win Olympic GOLD in gymnastics!  So exciting!

All Sliced Up!

Now, here’s to hoping this week is less stressful…

…and if you liked this pizza, you may also like my Caramelized Onion, Purple Potato and Pistachio Pizza!!!

  Check it out here!

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Mini Turkey Lasagnas & the Woes of Summertime

Summer has never been my favorite time of year (except for summer of 2008—yeah that was fun!).  Because I have crazy sensitive skin, summertime has become synonymous with sunburn. If that’s not bad enough…I’m allergic to sunscreen.

This year–in particular–has been especially difficult because of the high temperatures and terrible humidity. Not to mention the drought.  Okay…I mentioned it.  We need rain!

In my opinion, the only thing good about summer (as an adult) is the vegetables.  I love being able to just step outside my home and come back inside–into the air conditioning–with a basket full of peppers, tomatoes, potatoes and herbs.

Some vegetables from the garden

I am especially proud of my shallots.   I am an amazing shallot grower, apparently.

beautiful shallots

In fact, I’m so proud of my shallots, I tear up.  Literally.  They make me cry!  I’m not sure what the reason is, but these tiny, purple-hued beauties make me bawl worse than a baby!

Their crying power is way stronger than that of any onion.  But, they taste incredible; so the crying is worth it.  I guess.

When I woke up today, I planned on going to the gym.  But those plans quickly changed.  The weather report said it was 71degrees outside, and I knew I better take advantage of that!  I decided to clean up my gardens and plant a few more cone flowers, mums and burning bushes.

When I finished, I came back inside with all this:

 

and had Lasagna on my mind.

You see, I love lasagna.  A lot.  In fact, I can’t be trusted around it.

Knowing this, I decided to make mini lasagnas instead of a giant pan full.  They’d be perfectly portioned and I wouldn’t have to worry about eating more than my share.

Instead of noodles, I used wonton wrappers.  This isn’t anything new, and I’ve seen tons of stuff made with the little dough squares–from raviolis to tacos…to pie crusts!  How versatile! 

I figured I’d use the wonton wrappers instead of traditional pasta for three reasons.

  1. There is no need to pre-cook the wonton wrappers, so I won’t burn my fingers.  I always burn my fingers on lasagna noodles!
  2. The wrappers fit perfectly into a muffin pan.
  3. Wonton wrappers are relatively low calorie.  They ring in at 20 calories/each.

I also decided to use ground turkey meat.  I cooked the meat with finely diced green bell peppers, basil, oregano, lots of garlic, and a bunch of finely diced mushrooms.

Because I’ve been scaling back the amount of meat I cook with, adding the mushrooms allowed me to use less turkey and also stretched the meat into multiple meals–instead of just the one.  In fact, I have made these lasagnas twice this week, and still have over half a pound of the cooked meat left over (frozen, for some other time).

I turned the tomatoes, garlic and basil into a simple–and flavorful–sauce (no real recipe, sorry!  I just tossed stuff together, blended it up and then let it cook for about 10 min. to reduce).

And made a mixture of basil, cottage cheese (3/4 c.) and Parmesan cheese (1/4 c.).  [Enough for 6 mini lasagnas]

I then layered everything together in a muffin pan which I sprayed with a little olive oil.  I started with a wonton wrapper, added a little sauce, cottage cheese mixture, meat, more sauce…and repeat.  I then topped the mini lasagnas with a little shredded cheese and some dried herbs.

The lasagnas were popped into a 375 degree F oven, and were baked for about 20 minutes–or until they started to get a little browned.

I let them cool in the pan for a good 10 minutes before I popped them out–simply using a fork.

 

Each mini lasagna was a little over 150 calories, so I had two.  And I’ve got to tell you…I enjoyed every single one of those delicious calories!

I plan on making another batch this weekend, but instead of baking them, I’m going to freeze them.  If all works out, I think they’d be a great way to preserve my garden’s bounty! :)