From harvest to table ~ what's cooking now?

This blog shows where all those garden goodies I grow end up. I call this little eating area next to the stove my "chef's table" because at all the best restaurants it's a privilege to be invited to dine in the kitchen where the chef reigns supreme. So here I am "reigning" and you are all invited. :-D

Monday, January 27, 2014

Rye soda bread

Another kitchen escape from the bitter weather.

I found I had some rye flour languishing in a bin, so thought I'd try a version of Irish soda bread.

I swapped out 100g of whole grain spelt flour with the rye flour, then also added 1.5T of caraway seeds.

To mark the difference from my regular quarter-score cuts in the loaf, I cross-hatched this one.

The bread took much longer to bake with the rye flour.

At the 35-min mark the loaf didn't thump 'hollow', so I let it go for another 6 minutes.

Then I turned off the oven and let it sit in there for another 5 minutes.

I should have let it go longer in the hot oven.

While the loaf thumped hollow, the center was still a bit undone.

I cut the loaf in half and put it back in a heated oven for 5 minutes just to dry it out a bit more.

In the end the loaf was heavier than normal, but the taste was really nice - like a rye bread.

I've missed rye bread since I gave up modern wheat so this was lovely.

Next time: oven temp a bit lower and increase time by at least 25%.

I'll be trying this one again soon.

Some day, however, I'm going to have to try making some yeast bread.  But my house is way too cold for any rising in winter and when it's warm outside, who wants to heat up the kitchen making bread?

Buddy Dave gave me his old bread machine.  Maybe I should try playing with that during this week's polar (neg double digits again) temps.  Stay tuned.

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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Mushroom meatloaf

It was bitter cold and snowing and winds up 30-40 mph.

I was depressed.

So I spent some time in the kitchen.

I had another 3# pack of ground turkey so decided to make up a couple more meatloafs.

This time I decided to make them a little more savory than the last one (which was mostly veg for flavor).

So I browned up a carton of baby portabella mushrooms to add new flavor and texture.

I also added 1/4C of Worcestershire sauce - now that's savory!

I added the rest of the suspects:  3 beaten eggs, 1C rolled oats, diced green & red peppers, 1C shredded zuke and a whole bunch of herbs and spices (among them: garlic granules, dried onions, celery seed, smoked paprika, chipotle powder, cumin, salt and cracked black pepper).

Mixed together and formed 2 loaves, into a 375F oven for about 1.75 hr.

While the oven was hot I also scrubbed 10 large sweet potatoes to roast on the lower shelve.

Then I went out to get 6 inches off the driveway before the next wave of winter hit.

There.  Driveway clear (which lasted only 15 minutes - check the main blog page).

I came in and removed the sweet potatoes, then turned on the broiler.  For the few minutes it took for me to chuck off all my winter gear, the meatloafs got a nice toast to them.

There.  Hot lunch is served.

Taste?  Even better than the last batch.  Much more umami (savory taste) to the loaves.  I'll remember the mushroom/ Worchestershire sauce and the dried onions next time.

This recipe is a keeper.  Oh - the potatoes were also delish - sweet and creamy.

Do you change your recipes often?  Dink with them?  Or use up something on hand?  Does it usually work out for you too?

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Smooooooth move

I lucked into a sale of one of the items on my LSD (labor saving device) wish list this past weekend. 

Until now, to make a smooth soup or sauce I had to pour hot stuff into the carafe of a regular multi-speed blender, whiz it, then pour the soup/sauce/etc back into the saucepan to bring it back up to heat. There was also the extra cleanup issue to deal with.  Ick.

This weekend I found a Cuisinart 2-speed immersion blender - ON SALE - at a price right up my alley!

Seems the blue, green and yellow sticks were on sale because folks didn't want those colors.  Good grief!  Who cares the color!  It's the quality and convenience that counts, isn't it??

Capricious consumers didn't like yellow?  Okay, so go and pay 25% more for red or stainless. 

Me? I'm very happy with this yellow fellow.  Super heavy duty, solid construction, stainless steel shaft/blades with a nice deep carafe for smoothies, salad dressings, pudding, etc. and a 3-year warranty.

First thing to try - split pea soup. 

It was just so ... easy-peasy

Pot full of soup.  A couple of zzzip zzzip on low speed and *presto* the soup went from soft lumps to velvety smooth in no time.

A quick whiz of the shaft in warm sudsy water and clean up was done.

I think I'm in love.... 

Any new LSDs show up in your kitchen for the holidays?

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Back from the brink

I was cleaning the 'fridge after the holidays and found my long-forgotten milk and water kefir grains languishing in the back of the bottom shelf.

The dates on the lids advised they'd been neglected for a good 3 months.

I expected I'd have to just compost them.  But hey - let's give 'em a chance.

I put both types of grains through a couple of room-temp cycles and low and behold, both came back full strength!

I'd gotten so enthusiastic about kefirs at the beginning of 2013, then I got so ill that fun stuff like this just fell off the table.  Thankfully the kefirs are so forgiving and they waited for me. :-D

Now I've got to start using both types a little more often.  I'm thinking a soda bread today and some fizzy fruit juice too.  Stay tuned.

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Clever clover

I've been enjoying clover sprouts (I think they are tastier than alfalfa sprouts) on sandwiches and salads over the past few weeks.

Thing is, a little carton will run almost $2.

So the last time I was at the health food store, I picked up several ounces of red clover seeds so I could grow my own.

I scrounged up an empty cracker container and punched a line of little drainage holes along the outside edge of the bottom.

I cut a piece of paper towel to nearly cover the bottom (allowing water flow toward the drainage holes).

I wet the towel, sprinkled on about 1.5T of seeds ($.30), sprayed them with water and lightly covered with the lid.

I sprayed/drained a couple times a day and within 2 days the seeds began to sprout.

Another 2 days and there was some real growth

Another 2 days and little 'sun seeker' leaves popped open.

Finally just 7 days start to finish I had a luxurious growth of fresh nutrition-packed red clover sprouts

The makeshift sprouter worked like a charm.

Previously I tried growing the sprouts in a jar, but I wasn't happy with the results.   Those sprouts seemed kinda wimpy and very wet.  This sprouter kept the water in the paper towel and the sprouts themselves much drier.

Time to put this batch in the fridge (where they actually will keep growing, although very slowly).  I don't think they'll last very long, though.  These things are awesome.

Got anything growing in your kitchen?

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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Vegetable soup

I eat a lot of soup.

I MAKE a lot of soup.

Yet, for the 4+ years I've had this "Chef's Table" page and the near 6 years of the main page, I've never had an entry about actually making soup.

Oh sure, there are many pics of many kinds of soup on the main page, but for all you know I've just heated up a can of Progresso!

So here is my first real soup entry:  Vegetable.

I start with about 4C of homemade veg stock (from my garden goodies).  While that's defrosting/heating, I chop up the usual suspects: carrots, celery and white potatoes.

Now in a 2nd little saucepan, I start cooking the carrots and celery in about 1C of water.  When the carrots are half way done, I add the potatoes.

Meanwhile, in the boiling veg stock, I add 1/3C pearled barely, pre-steamed cabbage ribbons, and defrosted chick peas and green beans.  Then I add 2T of tomato paste, hot pepper, garlic, salt and cracked black pepper.

By the time the carrots & potatoes are near done I add them, liquid and all to the stock and let the whole thing simmer until the barley is tender but not mushy.  Right at the end I also add a few generous pinches of marjoram and some garden parsley sprigs.

Serve with some home-made (thanks, Dave) spelt toast strips for dunking and you've got something that Progresso only WISHED they could serve up!

What I really love about soup is  - it never turns out the same 2ce. LOL  (And I'm sure you'd agree!) There are no measurements, recipe or guidelines other than - start with homemade stock and go from there.  Happy lunch, everyone!     (Note to self: this batch made 2.5Q)

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