Friday, August 29, 2008

Quick Blackberry Jam

My blackberry bushes have produced a ton of fruit this year and are so sweet and juicy. I was making dinner yesterday and had biscuits on the menu and realized I was out of honey and didn’t have any jam in the cupboard, so decided to whip up a batch of jam. I have never made jam this way, but thought I could figure it out and it turned out perfectly. I also love the fact that I didn’t have to sterilize a bunch of jars and make a huge mess, like you do when you do canning.

Quick Blackberry Jam

4 Cups Blackberries
½ Cup Sugar
2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
¼ Cup Cold Water

Place the blackberries and sugar in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Using a wooden spoon mash up the blackberries and stir constantly until they let out their juices and come to a boil. Continue to cook over medium high heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Next mix the cornstarch with the water, add to the blackberries and stir until thickened. Place the jam in a sealable container and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Fried Green Tomatoes

My tomatoes in the garden are almost ready, I wish I could magically ripen them. In the meantime I decided to make use of the green tomatoes and fry them up for an appetizer. They turned out really nice and crispy and perfectly cooked on the inside. The only thing to keep in mind is to not cut your slices too thick, or the sourness of the tomatoes will overpower the breading.

Fried Green Tomatoes

6 Green Tomatoes
1 ½ Cups Flour, plus ½ cup
½ Cup Cornmeal
1 Teaspoon Salt & Pepper
Oil, for frying
Kosher Salt

Slice the tomatoes into medium slices. Mix the 1 ½ cups flour, cornmeal ,and salt & pepper together in a large bowl. Add enough buttermilk to the flour mixture to make a thick batter (you want the consistency of a pancake batter) about 3 cups.
Dredge the tomato slices in the flour and shake off any extra then coat with the batter. Fry in ¼ inch of oil over medium high heat for a few minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain and sprinkle with a little kosher salt. Serve hot.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Corn Chowder

I have been loving all the sweet fresh corn that is available and decided to make a yummy corn chowder. It’s been very unusually cold and rainy here in Portland so this is the perfect thing to make to warm you up. The only thing I hate about this recipe is cutting the kernels off the cob, it’s messy and kind of a pain, but well worth the effort. I just used a very large bowl and tried to keep the mess contained as much as possible. I was on a total corn kick when I made this and made a sweet cornbread to go along side of the chowder.

Corn Chowder

1 Stick Butter
1 Large Onion, diced
2 Small Carrots, peeled and diced
2 Stalks Celery, diced
2 Russet Potatoes, Peeled and diced
¼ Cup Flour
6 Cups Chicken Stock
10 Ears Corn, husked and kernels removed
2 Cups Heavy Cream
Salt and Pepper
Fresh Thyme

In a large stock pot melt butter over medium high heat, add the onions, carrots, celery, and potatoes and cook until softened. Next add the flour and cook until fragrant, but do not brown, about one minute. Pour in the chicken stock and turn down to a simmer and cook until potatoes are very soft, about 10 minutes. Using a stick blender puree the vegetables to create a smooth thick stock. Next add the corn and cook until tender, about 10 more minutes. Pour in the cream and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with a sprig of fresh thyme.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Chicken Fried Steak & Gravy

I am on vacation this week and am so excited to get back in the kitchen. I went and visited my parents in Boise over the weekend and had a blast, and mom cooked for me, what a treat. I have a bunch of new recipes that I want to try over the next couple days, so I should be posting more regularly.
I remember eating chicken fried steak growing up and absolutely love it. It’s funny how many people I know have never had it before. It’s really quick to make and cube steak is really inexpensive, so it’s an easy way to make a hearty meal in no time with little cost. I usually serve this with mashed potatoes, or a warm biscuit.

Chicken Fried Steak & Gravy

1 Cup Flour, plus 2 Tablespoons
½ Cup Cornmeal
1 Tablespoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Pepper
1 Pound Cubed Steak, cut into 4 pieces
2 Tablespoons Butter
4 Cups Whole Milk
Vegetable Oil or Crisco, for frying

Mix the one cup of flour, cornmeal, salt and pepper on a plate to combine. Heat a large heavy bottomed frying pan with ¼ inch oil over medium high heat. Dredge the steaks in the flour mixture to coat, place into frying pan. Cook steaks until browned on first side, then flip and continue cooking until other side is golden brown. Remove from pan and place on a paper-towel lined plate.
To make the gravy drain the oil from the pan and place back on burner over medium heat. Add butter and reserved flour and cook until light brown. While whisking add the milk and continue to whisk until milk starts to boil, it will thicken quickly. Season gravy with salt and pepper to taste. Plate up the steaks and cover with gravy, enjoy.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I won a cookbook!!!

I Won A Cookbook!

I was so thrilled to get a package in the mail last week all the way from Sweden!!! Anne from Anne’s Food had the privilege of getting her hands on a new cookbook that was recently published in English and held a drawing to give a couple books away. I thought this was such a nice thing to do and I can’t believe I won. I am never lucky with drawings or games, ect…hence the reason I don’t play the lottery, but I won this one, whoo hoo! The book is called In Grandma’s Arbor and it’s all about baking in the Swedish tradition and covers five generations of family recipes. Please read the more detailed article on Anne’s Food Blog.
Thank you Anne for your generosity and for picking me!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Miso Soup

The other day it was a bit chilly here in Portland and I wanted something warm and yummy for dinner. That thought led me to the kitchen, I opened the cupboard and then shut it thinking I hope there is something in the fridge to eat because there is nothing here, well I was welcomed by a very empty refrigerator, but low and behold there was my miso paste! Whenever I’m at the Asian market I pick up a container of miso paste, it keeps forever, it makes delicious soup, and it’s really inexpensive. After my amazing find in the back corner of my fridge, I once again scoured the cupboard to see what I could doctor up the soup with and I just happened to have a few dried shitake mushrooms, a handful of rice noodles and a package of dried seaweed, hurray, dinner was officially started. This is such an easy soup to make, and you can really add anything you like or just add a bit of miso paste to water and have a very simple, but yummy meal.

Miso Soup

4 Cups Water
½ Cup Miso Paste
Handful Rice noodles
6 Dried Shitake Mushrooms
Dried Seaweed (a little goes a long ways!)
Anything else you like…scallions, tofu, shrimp…

Soak the rice noodles in hot water for a few minutes to soften, drain and rinse with cold water, keep in water so they don’t stick together. Soak the dried mushrooms in a bowl with hot water until reconstituted, about 5 minutes, drain, remove stems, and cut into thin slices.
Bring the water to a boil, turn off heat and then add miso paste and stir until completely dissolved, add all other ingredients and stir again to incorporate them into the soup. Place into 4 small bowls, for a starter, or a large bowl for dinner.
I also love to add a little siracha, and rice vinegar to my soup, but that’s just me…so do what you like!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Rum Balls

I was asked to make rum balls for one of my friends “Alice In Wonderland” themed scavenger hunt. They are so simple to make, and quite delicious. I was looking up recipes on line and was a little hesitant to use a recipe that calls for ground up vanilla wafer cookies, but all the recipes seemed to have this as a theme ingredient. We left some out on a plate and wrapped some up in tissue. When you first taste them you just get a hit of the powdered sugar and chocolate, then at the end you can really taste the rum, quite a unique cookie!

Rum Balls

1 ½ Cups Pecans, finely chopped
1 ¼ Cups Vanilla Wafer Cookies, finely crushed
½ Cup Powdered Sugar, plus additional for coating
2 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
2 Tablespoons Light Corn Syrup
¼ Cup Dark Rum

Mix all dry ingredients, then add corn syrup and rum, mix thoroughly. Shape into 1 inch balls, and roll around in sifted powdered sugar to coat. Store in the refrigerator, can be made several days in advance.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Mint Lemonade

Well I made it back from Phoenix, and boy was it hot! It was at least 110+ every day, so needless to say I stayed inside the entire time! I was planning on taking pictures of the delicious food and posting when I got back, but I forgot my camera, bummer! We had some pretty good food though, the first night we had several different grilled kabobs, and they had every kind of sushi and sashimi you could want. For breakfast we were served the usual American breakfast of bacon, eggs, hash browns. One day for lunch we had the Williams Sonoma Thanksgiving Dinner, it was amazing, I always love a good turkey! And for dinner the last night I was there we had the biggest fillet Mignon I have ever seen that were perfectly cooked and fork tender. I think between the food and champagne I had I gained at least 5 pounds!

I planted mint this spring and it is going absolutely crazy! I finally decided to use some the other day in my cocktail. I love the bright flavor that mint adds, and it's aroma is fabulous too! This is such an easy way to spice up your boring old lemonade, and you can throw in some vodka, or leave it out.
Mint Lemonade
Just tear up several mint leaves, and add to a glass of lemonade, stir well and enjoy.
Add a shot or two of vodka if you need something a little more relaxing.