Hasselback Tomatoes

Hello Hello! There’s a surprise guest being featured next Friday…just think amazing person, volunteer extraordinaire (PandemicOfLove.com), deep thinker, lots more, AND she’s sharing her homemade Strawberry Bread Recipe. After all, it is the season of helping others AND of fresh strawberries. I can’t wait for you all to meet Suzi, a very recent friend and wonderful person!

This is a vintage vegetable that remains modern, and will always stand the test of time; and it’s finding a stage again in many forms. I especially love this creation because you can use it year round, since you are cooking the tomatoes. The name is derived from the restaurant where they originally introduced Hasselback Potatoes…the Hasselbacken in Stockholm, Sweden in the 1940’s. And a wise chef later decided to use the same treatment on the tomato. Put some swagger in your veggies!

6 ripe plum tomatoes, cored
8 oz Gruyere cheese, shredded
1 cup fresh basil, chopped
6 Tbs olive oil
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper

Preheat oven to broil.
Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiling element.
Place wire rack on rim of metal baking pan.
Using serrated knife, slice small bit off long side of bottom of tomato.
(We’re making it sit flatly.)
Place tomato on that now flat side.
Slice crosswise at 1/4 inch intervals, leaving 1/4 inch  at bottom in tact.
Combine half of the Gruyere, basil, oil, panko, garlic, salt, and pepper together.
Carefully open tomato slices, and spoon a bit of mixture between slices (about 2 Tbs per tomato).
Place tomatoes on wire rack.
Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Broil until cheese is melted, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Blue Cheese Green Beans

Sometimes my dog looks at me with that look, and I think she must know exactly how I feel. But then maybe she just wants the food off my plate.

12 oz package trimmed fresh green beans
1/4 cup chopped leeks
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1/4 t fresh ground black pepper
1 Tbs olive oil

Cook green beans according to package directions.
Sauté leeks in butter 2 to 3 minutes, until edges begin to brown a bit.
Place green beans on serving platter.
Sprinkle with onions, blue cheese, lemon juice, and pepper.
Drizzle with olive oil.

Serves 4 to 6.

Roasted Asparagus with Garlic Butter

Zinging into spring with a simple little midweek veggie; heck I’d serve this at a dinner party…oh that’s right, we don’t have those anymore, but SOON!! Nothing unusual about this little asparagus side dish, except its deliciousness. It’s perfect vintage southern and an ideal pairing with any protein. Try it, even if you’ve tried it before. Totally worth every little dancing taste bud that it hits sliding down the throat. Yum! Captured the below pics with the afternoon sun streaming in my westward facing kitchen windows. Perhaps it’s a bright and encouraging sign that we are turning the corner on Covid.

2 lbs thick asparagus, trimmed
1 Tbs olive oil
2 t fresh thyme leaves
3/4 t  Kosher salt, divided
4 Tbs room temperature unsalted butter, divided
1/4 t ground black pepper
4 minced garlic cloves

Place oven rack 6 inches from broiler.
Preheat oven to medium broil.
Place asparagus on rimmed baking sheet.
Pour oil, thyme, 1/2  t salt over asparagus.
Toss gently to combine.
Broil asparagus for 3 to 4 minutes.
Remove and toss asparagus to turn over.
Broil another 3 minutes, until lightly browned.
Transfer asparagus to serving platter.
Place 1 Tbs butter and garlic into skillet over medium high.
Cook until lightly golden.
Place remaining 3 Tbs butter, pepper, and remaining salt in small bowl.
Pour garlic melted butter into bowl.
Stir until combined; will make creamy sauce.
Pour sauce over asparagus and serve.
Serves 4 to 6.

Collards and Black Eyed Peas

Well Here Comes Peter Cotton Tail…And I have my Bunny Bait ready and waiting. No Easter Bunny is missing the house of my Grands! And my niece Jordan (Instagram @jblodgett1) makes this special concoction to insure that the bunny doesn’t miss your home.* She has that covered, so I’m covering your brain game with an excellent green veggie/starch combo for Easter lunch, or any meal actually! I promise you one thing; this simplified recipe will become famous. So, tuck your head down, don your mask, take your hand wipes, race to the grocery, break the “always fresh” recipe rules, and secure these simple ingredients. Make one dish easy on yourself with the best canned ingredients ever! Sit back, hit the pause button, and enjoy your Easter. I hope you have family and/or loved ones with you. Vaccinations are becoming more available; but please continue to be diligent in your efforts to stay safe and healthy. I cherish you all!

1/4 cup olive oil
1 large Vidalia onion, diced
2 t salt, divided
2 14.5 oz cans Margaret Holmes seasoned black eyed peas
2 14.5 oz cans Margaret Holmes seasoned collard greens
2 Tbs chipotle chili in adobo sauce, diced
3 Tbs lime juice
4 cups cooked rice
Chopped cilantro, for serving
Grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese, for serving

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.
Add onions, a pinch of salt, and cook until browned, about 8 minutes.
Combine cooked onions, peas, collards, and chipotle chili in large pot.
Bring to simmer and cook 20 to 30 minutes.

To serve:
Place rice on side of plate.
Place collard mixture half on rice and half beside rice.
Squeeze lime juice on rice and collard mixture.
Sprinkle with cilantro and cheese.

Note: This is also delicious served over Raisin Cinnamon Toast instead of Rice.
*Jordan creates specialty items all year long for holidays and “every days”…so follow her Instagram for details. She specializes in all things wonderful! Respond to me if you can’t find her; I’ll get you there.

Quick Cauliflower Soup

There’s a long version I can share if you really want me to; but I was in a hurry this go around. I have a dear friend who took a tumble and fractured her jaw. Long story short, she needs to eat cream, pudding, a bowl full of mush* (nod to Goodnight Moon) and yummy homemade soup… for weeks. So I raced to the kitchen and made this Speedy Gonzales version of Cauliflower Soup (bonus, no cream!) and it turned out deliciously. Took every possible short cut known to this gal, and I’m hooking you straight up good people. So resurrect your middle school trapper keeper and take some notes. You have a choice…keep your old habits, or make new ones. It doesn’t need to be a complex tapestry!

3 Tbs olive oil
2 bags frozen chopped onions
1/2 t red pepper
2 cans cubed white potatoes, drained
3 bags frozen chopped cauliflowers, garlic flavored
10 cups low sodium vegetable stock
2 t ground oregano
2 t dried thyme
2 t freshly ground black pepper
1/2 t kosher salt
1 1/2 t parsley paste**

In large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat.
Add onion and red pepper.
Cook until softened, 5 to 6 minutes.
Add potatoes, cauliflower, stock, oregano, thyme, pepper, salt, and parsley paste.
Bring to simmer, and cook covered, until tender, about 30 minutes.
Blend with an immersion blender (or standard blender) until smooth.

This recipe made 6 quarts.
May easily cut in half. But i have several friends in need of some love…and since we can’t hug currently, hanging a quart of soup and a loaf of homemade bread on the doorknob works rather well.
Simple bread recipe coming soon!
Freezes beautifully.

* pic of mush
** would usually garnish with fresh parsley, but since i was putting it in containers, I mixed the paste in for the added flavor.

Sautéed Cabbage Salad

It rained a lot and has been really wet recently (I mean the golf course was closed often); but hey, we’re counting rainbows around here, not thunderstorms, right? Here’s another fun recipe from The Kitchen. This one hails from Sunny Anderson, who has been cooking outside during the pandemic, from her home patio and grill for months, and now back on the set of The Kitchen, but outdoors, planes flying overhead and all sorts of weather…kudos to her, and a terrible run on sentence! This one is light, bright, and full of delight. We dodged those raindrops, never got wet, and managed to drive the sunshine of a crisp salad right into your kitchen. I just love cabbage/slaw; but most people don’t think about serving it in the winter. Try this sauté and it will change your mind forever!!

For Salad:
3 Tbs olive oil
1/2 t celery seeds
1 cup shredded carrots (available shredded and bagged for you at the grocery)
1/2 head green cabbage, thinly sliced (I used a mixture of green and purple ’cause that’s what was in the fridge)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add the celery seeds and let cook for 1 to 2 minutes to bloom.
Add carrots and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add cabbage, season with salt and pepper, and continue to cook until cabbage begins to wilt, about 5 minutes.

For Dressing:*
1/2 medium red onion, sliced paper thin
2 Tbs honey
1 Tbs sambal (an Indonesian chili paste) A good substitute is Sriracha or Harissa sauce.
1 Tbs apple cider vinegar

Place onion in a medium bowl.
Add the honey, sambal and vinegar.
Mix together to coat and let sit for 5 minutes.
Add the onion mixture to the skillet and mix in.
Transfer to a serving bowl.

*I used Annie’s Asian Sesame bottled dressing. I just had it on hand, and I’m personally not wild about onions with my cabbage salads!
But I did drizzle a touch of honey over the salad before tossing in the dressing.

Salad on the left above is prepared just as suggested in recipe (except of course my bottled dressing!). To the salad on the right above, I added shaved almonds and salad topper Wonton Crisps. I just love a crunch in my salads.

Go wild and make it your own; or for simplicity just do it like Sunny! Make it happen captain, right at home.

Asparagus, English Pea, and Edamame Delight

Happy Saturday. This is the best little surprise mixture ever. Seriously people! Perfect for a quick and lazy weekend veggie delight! The Don is out in the rain and soaring heat swinging at that little white golf ball; and I’m hanging out inside in the cool breeze of my kitchen just testing recipes to share with you. This turned out to be a special delight on the tongue. Canning tomatoes tomorrow! See you next week.

Vegetable Asparagus, Pea, Edamame
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbs finely grated Parmesan
3 Tbs fresh lemon juice
2 t Kosher salt
1 t fresh ground black pepper
2 bunches fresh asparagus, ends trimmed
2 cups frozen English peas, thawed
2 cups frozen, shelled edamame, thawed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

In medium bowl, whisk together olive oil, Parmesan, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
Cook asparagus in saucepan with an inch of boiling water 4 minutes.
Transfer to ice bath to stop cooking process and cool for 2 minutes.
Transfer to paper towels to dry.
Combine vegetable oil and shallot in small saucepan over medium heat.
Cook shallots 8 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until crisp and brown.
Transfer to paper towels to drain oil.
Combine cooked asparagus, thawed peas and edamame in large bowl.
Pour dressing over vegetables and toss to coat.
Transfer vegetable mixture to serving platter.
Top with shallots and bacon.

Serves 8 to 10.

May prepare vegetables and dressing 1 day ahead.
Cover separately and refrigerate.

Adapted from Epicurious Fresh, Summer Favorites, 2017.

Freezing Fresh Corn

The very best thing on earth after the corn season is over is fresh Silver Queen sweet corn during the winter. So I’m going to teach you the easy peasy way to stock your freezer. I use it all fall and winter in soups, stews, and as a side starch for dinner.  I froze 2 bushels this past weekend, which made 30 quart bags. So to break it down for the less ambitious, 42 ears of corn will make 8 quart sized bags, just half filled, so that they lay flat to freeze. Yummy…So, step by step, here you go.

Freezing Corn I

Bring large pot of water to boil. Drop ears of corn in. Blanch 2 1/2 minutes.

Freezing Corn II

Using tongs, transfer cooked ears of corn to ice bath for 3 minutes to stop cooking process and cool corn. (Make an ice bath by filling sink partially with cold water, and adding ice.)

Freezing Corn III

Remove ears of corn from ice bath and place on kitchen towels to dry for 10 minutes.

Freezing Corn IV

Remove kernels from cob. I find this easiest to stand an ear on the raised part of a bundt pan, letting the kernels collect in the pan.

Freezing Corn V

I use quart size freezer bags to freeze. I fill each bag about half way, so that I can then press all air out of bags and lay them flat to freeze.

PostScript…you have about 3 weeks left here in ENC to secure your Silver Queen corn and get it frozen! Post to the PostScript…It took me one hour to process 42 ears of corn and get it in the freezer. I used 2 pots of boiling water and each held 8 ears of corn at a time.

Spring Onion Soup

Sun streaming through the breakfast room window on my little Spring Onion Soup!

Don’t be sad thinking you can’t have your beloved French Onion Soup just because the winter is over! I’ve skinnied it up for you! This comes in under 200 calories for a full cup and a half serving. So sharpen your pencil and take note of this. I’m playing for keeps good people, and cooking in a lively Spring has Sprung manner.

1/2 stick butter
3 sweet onions, sliced
1 cup dry sherry
6 cups water
6 envelopes of Herb Ox granulated beef bouillon*
1 t Worcestershire sauce
1/4 t salt
1/2 t dried thyme
6 slices French bread, toasted on both sides with olive oil, salt, and pepper
6 oz shredded Fontina cheese
Snipped chives for garnish

(This is a duo serving; hence the onions are scarce! Don’t want to mislead anyone.)

Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat.
Add onions and cook 12 to 15 minutes, or until onions are soft and lightly browned.
Stir in sherry and cook an additional 2 minutes.
Bring water to boil in soup pot.
Add in bouillon and stir to combine.
Add onions to broth pot.
Add Worcestershire, salt, and thyme.
Cover and cook on low 30 minutes.

Preheat broiler.
Ladle soup into 6 ovenproof ramekins.
Top with bread slice.
Sprinkle with cheese.
Broil until cheese melts.
Sprinkle with chives before serving.

*I use sodium free broth whenever I can. Do you know that one serving of canned broth can carry 800+ mg of sodium. SNAP. Who needs that? Am I right!

Topping the soup with toasty French bread slice

And then, the cheese please

Asparagus Gratin

Vegetable Asparagus Gratin IIIHaving a dinner party this weekend? Or dinner for two? Or dinner for you! This classic is spot on!

2 lbs asparagus
2 1/2 cups water
1/4 t salt
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs all purpose flour
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Adjust oven rack 8” from broiler.
Preheat oven to broil.
Trim 1 1/2 inches from stems and reserve.
Bring water to boil in skillet.
Add asparagus ends and salt.
Cook covered 5 minutes.
Using slotted spoon, remove asparagus ends and discard.
Add asparagus spears to asparagus water.
Cover skillet and cook asparagus until almost tender, 3 to 4 minutes.
Transfer asparagus to baking dish lined with paper towels.
Reserve 1 cup asparagus water; discard remainder.Vegetable Asparagus Gratin IIVegetable Asparagus Gratin I
Melt butter in now empty skillet over medium heat.
Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until golden, about 1 minute.
Whisk in reserved 1 cup asparagus water and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until thickened, 3 to 5 minutes.
Remove from heat; whisk in Monterey Jack and 1/2 cup Parmesan.
Season with salt and pepper.
Cover and let stand 5 minutes.
Remove paper towels from baking dish.
Drizzle sauce over center of asparagus.
Sprinkle remaining Parmesan cheese on top.
Broil until cheese is golden and asparagus is tender, 6 to 8 minutes.

Serves 8.

Thank you Sarah Gabriel, Cook’s Illustrated, Best-Ever Recipes.