Saturday, July 30, 2011

Beet Chips

From the organic food coop this week we got some lovely looking large yellow beets.  Lo-cal and straightforward.  These were great.  I have to work on getting the larger chips crisper sooner.
They went quick.
Preheat oven to 400 F.

Slice beets very thin (I used my mandoline)

Spread evenly on a lightly greased cookie sheet, spray with nonstick spray and season with salt and pepper.  I used sea salt.

Roast 15 minutes, then flip the chips

Continue to roast 10-15 minutes, until chips are dry and crispy.

Very delicious

Happy Eating!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Tzatiki Dip

I love Tzatiki!  This recipe is simple.  It's a cucumber/dill sauce that's great on almost everything.  We had it on pan roasted pork chops that were marinated in lemon, oregano and garlic.

I'd put Tzatiki on salad, as a dip for veggies.  It's cool and creamy, perfect for summer.  I like this recipe because the base is a combo of yogurt and sour cream.

Put all ingredients into a food processor

3T Olive oil
1T Wine Vinegar
2cloves Garlic finely minced
1/2t Salt
1/4t White pepper
1c Greek style yogurt (much creamier and tighter)
1c Sour cream
1 English cucumber, seeded rough chopped into chunks
1t or more Fresh dill, finely chopped

Pulse until smooth.  Place in bowl and fridge.  I find an hour is the minimum time to let it meld.  Much better the next day.  Keeps for quite a while in the fridge.

Happy Eating!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Community Supported Agriculture

No farms, no food...simple as that.  And with people wanting to disrupt life in the US, buying local is key to our future.  We've joined a CSA Co-op (Community Supported Agriculture). We pay an upfront fee to a farmer and all summer and fall we get organically grown veggies. The upfront fees guarantee the farmer an income to purchase spring supplies...and you get great food. 

These are veggies that taste like the veggies when you were a kid.  There's U-Pick every week and it's a great place for families to show kids what their food actually looks like. It's vital to keeping eastern Massachusetts farmers in business.  We split a large share with another couple and we still don't eat all the food we pickup. I freeze or can something every week.

The picture below is one weeks catch from the farm.  I need to improve my photography...working on that.

To find a CSA near you in eastern New England.  Try this:

Happy (and healthy) eating!

Sunday's Dinner

I know it's a little late, but this was the menu for lunch with an old, but young roommate.

Soy Rubbed Salmon Fillet with Dill Caper Mayonnaise
Marrakesh Carrot Salad
Herb Potato Salad

Soy Rubbed Salmon

One salmon fillet per person
Rub each with soy sauce
In a grill pan place them flesh side down and grill until the fish releases itself from the pan, grill on all sides.  I like my salmon cooked all the way through.

Dill Caper Mayonnaise

1c Good mayonnaise
3T Capers.  I prefer those packed in salt.  If using this type make sure to rinse in cold water a couple of times to release some of the salt.  Chop coarsely.
3T Chopped dill
3T Chopped parsley
1T Fresh squeezed lemon juice

Mix all in a small bowl.  Let stand in fridge at least an hour, more if possible.

The quantities above are just a suggestion.  I love dill and capers so I probably add more.

Marrakesh Carrot Salad (via

  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and grated
 Combine all in a large bowl and let sit an hour or so before serving.  One diner thought there was a little too much maybe reduce that spice.

Herb Potato Salad

I had about two pounds of red bliss potatoes, medium sized.  I cut them up into bit sized pieces and put into cold salted water.  Brought to a boil and cooked until JUST done.  You don't want the skin to start breaking from the meat of the potato.

Drain and cool to room temp or put in fridge.

In a medium bowl put the potatoes and add:
  • Enough mayonnaise to coat
  • Herbs of your choice.  I had parsley and chives.  If you don't have something on the piquant side, try a shallot or some green onions and as a last resort white onion.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • This is great made the day before or the morning of.

The potato salad recipe is an ode to my mother.  At any family cookout the host always asks her to make her potato salad.  It makes her so proud.  I just put a little spin on it....:)  Right mom?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Turkey burgers with veggies

I came up with this one for dinner last night.  I think if the carrots were a little smaller, they would have fully cooked.  Still very tasty.  I find the low fat ground turkey to bland.

1lb Ground Turkey - 93% fat free
1 Piece of sliced white bread, crust removed
1/2 Green pepper coursely chopped
1/2 Large carrot cousely chopped or one medium
1/3 Red pepper coursely chopped
1 Clove garlic

1T Dijon mustard or to taste
3T Chopped parsley
1 Egg, slightly beaten

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350

In the bowl of the food processor, add the bread in chunks and whir until they resemble course bread crumbs, remove from bowl.

In the same bowl add all of the veggies and chop until small pieces, not pureed.  It will be about the same size as the bread crumbs.

Add all ingredients to a large bowl and mix well.

Divide into four servings and shape into hamburgers.  In an oven safe grill pan cook 4 minutes on each side and then put into oven until it reaches about 160 degrees internal temp.

Served with a large garden salad.

Happy Eating!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Home Canning Books

I really like the new edition of "Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving", c.2011 by Jarden Home Brands.  It has so many new additions since the last printing.  Some of the relishes and chutneys sound very interesting.  I'm to try a couple and I'll let you know.  It's also my bible.  Whenever I have a question about temperature, processing times, etc. I open it right up.  Also, it has step-by-step directions for canning some of the more popular veggies and fruits.

I don't know if it's still in print, but I also like a lot "Blue Ribbon Preserves", c.2001, Linda J. Amendt and published by HPBooks.  I'll bet you can get on Amazon or Ebay.

I have a bunch others but they have lots of recipes that just weren't appealing to me.  Some of them branch off into freezing, drying and other methods of preserving that are just uninteresting.

If you have special canning books you can recommend, please leave a comment.

Happy Eating!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Backyard Chickens

About three years ago we started keeping chickens for their eggs.  Here's this year's group.

There's a Wellsummer, "Easter Egger", Cuckoo Marin, two Black Copper Marns, Speckled Sussex and a Dominique.  The smaller chickens on the right are the new girls.  Great eggs almost all of the time.  They stop laying in late fall until early spring.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Zucchini Parmesan

There are several steps before the assembly.  I used an 8" square ceramic baker.  Plan on an 1.5 to 2 hours to get it to into the oven, alot of that time is waiting time.

Purchase ready made marinara sauce or make your own -
1 -28oz can of crush San Marzano tomatos
1 medium onion sliced fine
1-2 cloves of garlic
Olive oil
1t Dried oregano

Preheat heavy bottom sauce pan.  Add olive oil to just cover the bottom.  When hot add onion, cook until translucent.  Add garlic and saute for about 2 minutes more.  Add tomatos and dried oregano.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a slow simmer.  Let cook until you are ready to assemble, about an hour.

Prepare zucchini
Two medium to large zucchini
Baking sheets
Paper towel or cloth towels

Do not peel.  Cut off the ends.
Slice the zucchini length-wise in 1/8th to 1/4" slices.
Lay them on the baking sheets with the towel on it.  Salt liberally, flip and repeat.
Let them sit for an hour or so while the sauce is bubbling.  You're trying to get as much moisture out of the zucchini so you don't have a soupy mess in the caserole.

Saute the zucchini pieces
Bread crumbs
2 eggs slightly beaten with 3T of water
Olive oil (or veg oil) for the saute

After the zucchini has released its water, it's time to get them coated in much the same way you would with eggplant parmesan.

In a shallow dish or pan beat the eggs with the water.  On a plate or shallow pan put in the bread crumbs.  Coat the slices with the egg and then into the crumbs.  Place on a cooling rack until you get through all the pieces.

In a large skillet, heat up the olive oil.  It should be shimmering before you put in the zucchini.  Saute in batches and placed the sauted pieces back on the cooling (baking) racks.  Lightly sprinkle with salt when still hot.

Make ricotta stuffing
1lb container of part skim ricotta cheese
1 egg slightly beaten
1/2c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly chopped parsley to your taste
Salt & pepper

In a medium sized bowl combine all ingredient and return to fridge until assembly.

Preheat oven to 350
1c grated Parmesan
2c (or your choice) sliced mozzarella cheese

In the 8x8 pan put a coating of the sauce in the bottom and then a layer of zucchini which you can cut to fit, then more sauce, Parmesan and mozzarella.  For the second layer turn the pan 90 degrees. Repeat until you get to the top of the pan.  On the top should be sauce, slices of mozzarella and the Parmesan.

Bake covered with aluminium foil for 25 minutes.  Uncover and cook until bubbling and the cheese is browning, about 20 more minutes.

Happy eating!

Sorrel Soup

Here's the recipe I promised a few days ago.  The version Mary made was without the eggs and was still delish.  I might top with a little crumbled bacon to contrast the creamy base.

2T butter
1/2c finely chopped onion
1/3c long grain rice (I might try with short grain)
31/2c rich pork or chicken stock
3-4c packed sorrel leaves
1/2-1c of half-and-half or heavy cream
2 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper

Heat butter in a soup pot over medium flame.  Add onions, cook a few minutes.  Add rice and stock.  Cover, bring to simmer and cook 5 minutes.  Cut sorel into strips.  Add 2/3s of it to soup, simmer until rice is tender.  Reduce heat to low and stir in cream and remaining sorrel.  Temper the eggs by whisking 1/2c soup broth into the eggs then stir egg mixture into soup. Do not boil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Makes four servings.

This is what sorrel looks like in the garden...please ignore my weeds..

I'm going to try this tomorrow...with the bacon, of course.

Happy eating!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Herbed Chicken

Quick, fresh and easy. You can get this on the table in less than an hour.

Serves two with leftovers

2 - large chicken breasts with skin.  Remove ribs and cut in half.
A handful of fresh herbs which can include:  Oregano, thyme, sage, parsley or your choice.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Thin slices of lemon
Salt and fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Chop herbs roughly.  On a rimmed cookie sheet sprinkle the herb mixture.  Add olive oil and massage the herb mixture onto the chicken.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, place lemon slices on top.

Cook 35-45 minutes or until juices run clear.

We had one of the pieces each with some kim chi and fresh garden peas sauted with garlic.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Rick's Sweet & Sour Pickles

Hi.  Today was pickle day.  Went to Marini Farm and picked up some pickling cukes.  They are different from slicing cucumbers.  Dryer, smaller  and more crisp.

Making pickles takes some time but are much tastier than store bought.  I like sweet and sour, kind of a cross between bread and butter pickles and sour dills.  To make one batch you'll need a couple of hours.  I'll post the recipe at the end, but here are some of the steps involved:
Here are the pickles.  Six pounds...the colander is super-sized
In the brine with onions and salt

After brining for two hours
This is the actual pickling liquid, a combo of vinegars, sugar and spices
The jars sterilizing.  A clean environment is key
Here they are in the jar
This is the finished jar after processing

I find it's great to do with two people, particularly when filling and processing the jars.  There are a lot of repetitive steps. 

Here's the recipe:  Rick's Sweet and Sour Pickles

2qts (about 6lbs) pickling cukes washed several times and cut into 1/4" slices
1qt  yellow onions sliced thin and then in quarters
1/2c kosher salt
2-3 qts distilled water.
2c white sugar
1c brown sugar
2c white vinegar
2c cider vinegar
2t mustard seed
2t celery seed
1t tumeric
4-5 allspice berries
10 peppercorns

In a large bowl layer cukes, onions and salt. Cover completely with water and let stand 2 hours.  Drain and rinse thoroughly.

In a large stainless steel pot, mix brine ingredients.  Head gradually, stirring constantly.  Increase heat once sugar dissolves.  Bring to boil.  Add veggies and heat for 3 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Ladle hot veggies into sterilized jars.  Cover with syrup and maintain 1/2" headspace. Using a wooden skewer remove any air bubbles.  Add more syrup if needed.

Wipe rims.  Cover hot jars with lids.  Process pints & quarts 30 min @ 180-185 degrees
Happy Eating!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mary's Sorrel Soup

Always looking for new things, I tried my good friend Mary's Sorrel Soup.  It's something I planted in my herb garden this year and was a little afraid of it.  The soup was awesome.  Bright almost lemony not bitter at all, I thought.  In a cream base with rice!  Delish.  I must get the recipe.  Here's how it looks.

Total yum!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Homemade sauerkraut.

Fermentation has been used for centuries to preseve food.  Germanic tribes figured out how to ferment of the peasant foods.  Here's my try at it.

Here are the ingredients and the 'crock' to ferment in.  You can use any glass, ceramic or food grade plastic pail.  Avoid stainless because it may become etched by the fermantation process.
Cabbage, Salt and Spices.  Pretty simple.

Here's the recipe:

It's actually a two to four week process, but well worth it and the stranges odors that it creates. Here are some images from the process.

This is one my favorite tools, a madoline. 

This is a fancy one, but there are many resonable models.  Very dangerous!  The blades are as sharp or sharper than a chef's knife.  You adjust the knife to the desired width of the cabbage and you get perfectly sized cabbage shreds everytime.  Makes short work of the cabbage.

Here's an example of the output.  If you look closely, you'll see a fork stuck in the cabbage. I never directly hold the product on the mandoline.  There is a saftey handle for it.

You put the shredded cabbage in the crock or jar and keep pressing it down every couple of inches. It helps to start the salt extract water from the cabbage.

I decided to try some spices this time.  Caraway seeds and Juniper berries

Viola!  Here's the final setup.  The bowl and jar of water are there to make sure the cabbage stays underwater.  I'll check it in the morning and then every couple of days.

Happy eating!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hard Boiled Eggs.

With the chickens, we get lotsa' eggs, well most of the time.  Here's a simple recipe for hard boiled eggs that have no green ring and a great consistancy.

In a small saucepan, fill two thirds with water and add four or so eggs.  Make sure all of the eggs are under the water.

Heat on medium high or high until it comes to a boil.  When it does, remove from heat and let stand for 15 minutes.  Then run cold water into the pan until cool enough to handle.  Peal and eat.

Works every time

Sunday, July 17, 2011

What's in my fridge?

I think part of making the evening meal quick, painless and yummy is having certain essentials in the fridge and cabinet.

In the fridge I always have ginger, butter, lemon, lime, carrots, celery, heavy cream, cheeses (parmesan and shredded something), eggs, anchovies, soy sauce, capers in salt and olives among other things.  But for me these are the basics.

In the cabinet good olive oil, beans, bread crumbs, pasta, canned tomatos and vinegars.  In the drawer always has onions, garlic and shallots.

Just pick up a protein (chicken, beef, pork, etc) and you have Milanese (pan sauted bread crumb covered meat)  top it with lettuce that's been run through some oil and vinegar...dinner!  Another option is your protien sliced thin and made into a stir fry with garlic, onions, ginger and soy sauce.  You can keep going with just a few staples in the house.

Fast, quick, healthy and delicious.  What's in yours?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Welcome to Rick's View on Food.

Hi everyone!

I've decided to branch out in many new directions.  One of these, which is very vital for me, is food.  Food glorious food.  All regions, all countries and all good. 

I'm going to visit it from my point of view:  Gay man of a certain age and a certain skill set in the kitchen.  I'm a Julia Child cook.  I watched her for years on that black and white TV.  I wish I knew then what I know now.  Country food.  Gourmand, not flashy.  Things we all want to eat.

For novices, something to inspire and grow your skill.  For the more facile cook, less dictation and more appreciation for the food we make and present at home.

The recipes will be from my family and from websites all over the web.  I'll have made the recipe and offer my opinions on things that may "get you" and places where I think you can modify.

Also, I'm a canner.  I hope to start with a primer and then I'll post some of my canning recipes.

All in all, I hope it will be fun, interactive and a learning tool for all of us.

Day one.  Here we go!

Do I dare sign out "Bon Appetit"