Long long time no write no hear. These last few years have been quite a ride...working full on 5-6 days a week, keeping a business going in the past 8 years has been a labor of luv for sure. Then fast forward to March 2020 and Covid hit. During the past 8 years of extreme "business" I have posted very few recipes but do hope to post more down the road.
Now with the reality of Covid... sadly, but also not so sadly, I have shut down my business. When push came to shove, I realized a few things.
First, I could not adequately meet our health guidelines for returning to work in a safe manner for everyone. Secondly, I am only a few years away from retirement, and while I would have liked to have had a few more years in the work force, it was not meant to be and after some adjustment it suites me totally fine. That said, here we are today in a most strange, strange world. A world that no one could have even dreamed about!
It is with much gratitude and hope that everyone I know out there in our worlds are well and safe.
With all going on in this incredible world of ours....I look to comfort food....always comfort food, plus this is an easy healthy meal to make.
Now, while this is technically not Vegetarian, it so could be. I used Chicken stock, but using Vegetable stock would make this Vegan/Vegetarian so use what suits you best!
2 Tblsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 of a small red pepper - roughly chopped
1/2 of a red onion - chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 of a celery stalk, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
3/4 cup red lentils - rinse well in a sieve
3 potatoes or roughly 2 1/2 cups chopped potatoes cut into 1 1/2 inch size - I used German Butter Potatoes (use potatoes that will not turn mushy)
1/2 cup chopped fresh green beans - or frozen will work
3/4 cup chopped frozen spinach
1 1/2 cups chicken stock - add more if necessary *
salt to taste
2 tsp. curry powder - I used a Madra style curry, but any curry powder of your choice will work here
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder *
*NOTES: If needed add more chicken or vegetable stock - the potatoes need to be just covered, but depending on the potatoes used you might need to add more liquid.
Onion Powder. For whatever reason, I can not find onion powder in my neck of the woods. So, here I have taken dried onion flakes and run them through a coffee grinder to reach a fine powder - onion powder - and it works great!
Heat up a good sized pot on low medium heat with the EVOO. Add the onion, garlic, red pepper sauteing a good 3 min. Then add in the celery, carrot, green beans, season with salt and continue to saute another 3 min. or so. Add in the curry powder, garlic, and onion powder, stirring to blend and continue to saute for 5 min.
Add in the rinsed red lentils, veggie or chicken stock, frozen chopped spinach, potatoes, and stir to combine. Bring to a lite simmer, lid on for 15 min. stirring occasionally. After 15 min, take the lid off, and continue to simmer another 5 min. or so (to help reduce if there is too much liquid) and to cook until the lentils and potatoes are cooked through. Check for salt/seasonings, and serve hot. A nice gluten free bread tops this meal off. This recipe serves 2-3 portions, and can certainly be doubled. The next day leftovers will be even better!
Thought I would post this early as beautiful fresh tomatoes in our neck of the woods are not too far away. With an abundance of heirloom tomatoes making stewed tomatoes is a great way to use them up. Although for weeks on end we just eat them fresh off the vine.
We do not do much in the way of canning in this household, but we do like to freeze as much fresh produce as we can. This will be lovely in the dead of winter for soups, stews, and pasta dishes. (I made these last year too - so yummy!)
6 cups chopped tomatoes - slice in half, then quarters, then in half (I used a mix of yellow, red, green heirloom tomatoes)
1 large onion chopped
1 celery stalk with leaves, diced
3 minced garlic cloves
1/2 cup diced green pepper
a good handful of minced fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
pinch of sugar
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
Wash the tomatoes and remove the outer core. Peel the tomatoes with a soft peeler or blanch the tomatoes to remove the skin (here is a method to blanch tomatoes). Chop all of the ingredients and add to a big pot, then add seasonings.
Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Keep on a low simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Taste for seasonings. Remove from the heat, and after 30 minutes transfer to 2 cup sized jars and fill to 3/4 full. This recipe made 3 jars...so double or triple up the recipe if you have tons of tomatoes. Refrigerate until cold, then freeze until ready to use. This was so tasty, I could eat it right out of the jar!
We are huge lovers of pesto in this household. Each year I make Organic Garlic Scape Pesto which we freeze to have throughout the year. This is the first time I have made Tomato Pesto and Oh My Goodness, do we ever love it.
As mentioned in previous posts, every year, we buy our local organic produce and eggs at our Farmer's Market (just down the street from where we live) which runs from May through to October. This year I signed up for their fall/winter program whereby I was able to go to the farm (8 minutes away) to buy winter vegetables, eggs, and these lovely dried tomatoes. The farm is called Alm Organic Farm - founded by Mary Alice Johnson.
As I have never made tomato pesto before I used Mary Alice's recipe as a guideline as well as my own Garlic Scape Pesto recipe - to create this heavenly tomato pesto. (pasta recipe to follow) Alm Farm tomatoes are the best I have ever had. (we were able to buy tomatoes in November!) They are super flavorful, and amazingly sweet as was this pesto recipe. Dinner tonight felt like a fresh breath of summer even though we are in the height of winter.
So, here is my recipe for Tomato Pesto - thank you Mary Alice & Marika for your inspiration and for your beautiful organic farm grown vegetables!
1 1/4 cups dried tomatoes - soak in boiling water, just to cover for 20 minutes (reserve drained water)
3 minced garlic cloves
1/3 cup Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
28 gram package of fresh Basil or 3/4 cup chopped Basil
3 Tblsp. reserved water from the tomatoes
a generous 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
fresh cracked pepper
Add the dried tomatoes to a 4 cup glass measuring cup. Add boiling water just to cover. Let sit for 20 minutes, then drain, reserving the liquid.
Lightly toast the sliced almonds in a dry cast iron pan on low/medium heat - about 8 minutes stirring so they do not over roast. Then place into a food processor and process until fine.
Drain the water from the tomatoes, reserving the liquid. Add the tomatoes to the food processor with the minced garlic and blend, scraping down the sides. Add the Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Parmesan Cheese, Basil, and fresh cracked pepper. Blend again then scrap down the sides. Add the 3 Tblsp. reserved tomato water and continue to blend scraping down the sides. If too thick, add a bit more of the reserved water. Once combined set aside for the pasta, or refrigerate to use in another dish. Pizza would be amazing.
TOMATO PESTO PASTA WITH ROASTED GARLIC GOAT CHEESE CHEVRAI:
1 340 gram package of Gluten Free Fusilli Pasta
1 large shallot, diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 Tblsp. Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 crimini mushrooms, chopped small
Tomato Pesto recipe from above
salt and fresh cracked pepper
1/2 cup of fresh chopped Basil
113 gram package of Roasted Garlic Goat Chevrai
3-4 Tblsp. reserved tomato water
freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Cook pasta as per directions.
Meanwhile, heat up a medium/large dutch oven on low medium heat with the 1 Tblsp. EVOO. Add in the shallots, garlic, mushrooms, salt and pepper - saute about 5 minutes. Add in the the reserved tomato water a Tblsp. at a time. The mushrooms shallot mixture will absorb most of the water. When the pasta is cooked, drain well, and add to the mushroom shallot mixture. Turn the heat down to a low minimum. Add in the tomato pesto and 1/2 cup of fresh chopped basil, mixing well. If needed add in 2 or 3 more Tblsp. of the reserved tomato water. Break up the Chevrai with your hands, sprinkling throughout the pasta stirring to combine and lightly melt. Plate and add some freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top - serve while hot. Enjoy!
This is a recipe where you could certainly use cream cheese, however, in this household I always make Yogurt Cheese - or dripped Yogurt. Recently, I discovered there is a company in California called Green Valley Organics that makes lactose free dairy products including sour cream and cream cheese. Oh heaven! It is very difficult to get these products into Canada, so until we can get it here or there is a Canadian company that can make a lactose free cream cheese - yogurt cheese it is. Although, yogurt cheese is definitely kinder on the hips, plus it is also much more lighter in taste. By the way, if feeding a crowd definitely double this recipe....it will be gone before you know it!
To make 1 cup of Yogurt cheese use a 650 gram container of quality 3.5 % Organic Yogurt
1 cup of Organic dripped yogurt: line a large sieve with 2 coffee filters, split in half to fully cover the sieve. Add the yogurt into the sieve then place over a bowl, and cover in plastic wrap. 24 hrs is sufficient, however, 48 hours of dripping is better as it will give you a thicker consistency.
4-5 Tblsp. Mayonnaise - check for taste
1 Tblsp. fresh Italian Flat Leaf Parsley
a generous 1/4 cup fresh minced Basil
2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
6 large sun dried tomatoes in oil, pat off oil with a paper towel and finely chop
3/4 cup crumbled Feta Cheese
fresh cracked pepper
Place all of the ingredients into a bowl, mix well. Refrigerate 3-4 hours and serve with vegetables of choice.
This easy pan fried fresh gray cod was a lovely dinner enhanced by a tasty Tarragon Parsley White Wine Sauce. When using a white fish such as cod, halibut, or snapper just about any herb sauce will enhance the delicate flavors of the fish. (make the Tarragon Parsley White Wine Sauce first, and keep on minimum until ready to serve over the fish)
3 single pieces of gray cod or other white fish
3/4 cup gluten free bread crumbs
1 tsp. garlic powder
salt, and fresh cracked pepper
1 egg - whisk with a fork
2 Tblsp. butter, 1 Tblsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
On a plate, add the breadcrumbs, garlic powder, salt and pepper, mix well with a fork. Heat up a frying pan on medium high heat with the butter and EVOO. Rinse your fish fillets and pat dry. Dip into the egg mixture, then dip into the breadcrumb mixture pressing the fish firmly to coat. Add to the hot frying pan and cook each side until golden - or until the fish has reached 145 degree temperature. Mine took about 6 minutes per side - it will depend on the thickness of your fish.
TARRAGON PARSLEY WHITE WINE SAUCE:
1 1/2 cups milk (we use a neutral non sweet soy milk)
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 Tblsp. butter
1 shallot, finely minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tblsp. fresh Italian Flat Leaf Parsley, minced
1 rounded Tblsp. fresh Tarragon, minced
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
salt and pepper
3 Tblsp. Sweet Rice Flour
Heat up a sauce pan on low medium heat with 2 Tblsp. butter. Add the shallot, garlic, dry mustard, tarragon, parsley, salt and pepper. Saute about 5 minutes. Turn up the heat to medium and pour in the white wine. Bring to a good simmer and reduce by half.
Add in the Sweet Rice Flour, whisking well - it will be thick. Then slowly pour in the milk, whisking the whole time, turn down to low, and continue to whisk until thickened. Check for seasonings then pour over the pan fried fish and serve while hot with any side dishes.
A while back....(end of July/August?) I made my Homemade Apricot and Peach Jam - only this time, I made extra:
It is by far my most favorite jam. Regular Apricot Jam would work nicely here too. We found some beautiful Gray Cod Fillets at the market and with this Apricot/Peach glaze - it was a marriage made in heaven. It gave a sweet/tart/salty/savory flavor to the cod fillets with fresh Thyme infused throughout the fish - so good. Sometimes fresh fish is better than anything in the whole wide wide world...don't you think?
2 fresh wild Gray Cod Fillets (or Pacific Cod)
1 rounded Tblsp. Apricot/Peach Jam (or plain Apricot jam)
1 Tblsp. Tamari Sauce
juice of 1/2 a fresh Lemon
1 minced garlic clove
1 tsp. fresh minced Thyme
fresh cracked Pepper
1 shallot, sliced
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Mix up the Marinade/Glaze in a small bowl and set aside. Slice the shallots. Rinse the cod fillets in cold water and pat dry.
Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil. Place the cod fillets into the pan and layer on the sliced shallots.
Pour over the marinade/glaze and wrap up tightly.
Bake according to thickness of your fillets. Rule of thumb is 10 minutes per inch of thickness. Mine took 25 minutes for succulent flavorful fish. So so tasty!
This year we grew all of 3 zucchini's. It is definitely becoming more of a challenge to grow vegetables in my garden. We do appreciate anything we do get...so hopefully everyone has not had their fill of zucchini and can take one more yummy dish.
Our neighbor gifted us with freshly caught shrimp - so delicious! They were already cooked, so for this dish I lightly re-heated them to go alongside the Zucchini Cakes and Chili Paste with Sweet Basil dipping sauce. Can you tell I am in love with this Chili Paste with Sweet Basil? Lately I can not seem to get enough of it. For a reminder here is a picture:
Many thanks to our neighbor for the delicious shrimp! 🙂
2 Tblsp. Grapeseed oil
1 fully packed cup of finely grated zucchini - well drained
2/3 cup finely grated carrot - well drained
2 Tblsp. finely diced red onion
2 Tblsp. Chili Paste with Sweet Basil (if you do not have this brand - Thai Kitchen Red Curry paste would work, just use 1 Tblsp.)
1 Tblsp. mayonnaise
3 Tblsp. gluten free bread crumbs
salt to taste
1 small egg
Add the grated zucchini to a sieve and squeeze out the excess juice - to become very dry. Place in a bowl. Then add the grated carrot to the sieve and squeeze out any excess juice. Add to the bowl of zucchini.
Add the diced onion, chili paste, mayonnaise, bread crumbs, salt and the egg mixing well.
Shape into patties and place onto a plate. Heat up a frying pan with grapeseed oil on medium high heat. Add the zucchini cakes to the pan and cook 5-6 minutes per side.
While the zucchini cakes are cooking make up this super easy dipping sauce:
Chili Sweet Basil Dipping Sauce:
3 Tblsp. Mayonnaise
1 Tblsp. Chili Paste with Sweet Basil
That is it...too easy, but mighty tasty!
Once the zucchini cakes are cooked, transfer to a plate. Cook fresh shrimp in the same pan just for a few minutes sauteing until nice and pink. (mine were just re heated) Serve the zucchini cakes and shrimp with the chili sweet basil dipping sauce.
Mercy...this was heaven on a plate. Seriously, seriously supreme deliciousness happening here.
Recently, I met a lovely woman who mentioned she was getting ready to harvest her garlic, and would I like to buy some? Oh yes indeed! Just check this out:
In my world this is a thing of true beauty. Then this kind lady also gifted me with this:
Have you ever had dried Greek Oregano? I never have - but one smell from this heavenly scented bag put me over the moon! Regular Oregano can have a somewhat strong bitter flavor. This Greek Oregano is sweet and much softer in flavor - we love it!
So today, I will share with you a show case of recipes using Garden Fresh Garlic, Roasted Garlic and Greek Oregano:
- Greek Oregano Chili Basil Marinated Pork Chops (this marinade is also great for chicken -check out the plate at the end of the post)
- Roasted Garlic, Basil, Greek Oregano, Sun Dried Tomato Compound Butter
- A Sweet Greek Oregano Vinaigrette.
We had a feast! Thank you to my lovely garlic growing friend!
All of these recipes were made and in the refrigerator by 1:00 p.m. so all of the ingredients could come together by 5-6:00 p.m.
Greek Oregano Chili Basil Marinated Pork Chops:
2 good sized pork chops - or steak or chicken would work nicely too
1 1/2 Tblsp. fresh lemon juice
2 roughly chopped garlic cloves
1 Tblsp. Dried Greek Oregano
2 Tblsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 big tsp. Chili Paste with Sweet Basil
1 Tblsp. Tamari Sauce
Fresh Cracked Pepper
In a bowl combine all of the ingredients whisking to incorporate.
Add the pork chops to a zip lock bag and pour in the marinade. Seal up and massage the marinade into the meat until well coated. Refrigerate and marinate 4-5 hours.
Remove the chops from the marinade, allowing the excess to drip off. We grilled these pork chops on the BBQ, but you could use a grill pan on medium high heat and sear the chops about 5 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the chops. Top with a generous pat of compound butter.
Next came the roasted garlic for the compound butter.
This was a large head of garlic. I cut off the top, and peeled the very outer layer of skin off. Place on tin foil with a drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive oil, and wrap up tightly. Roast for 1 hour in a 350 degree oven. Unwrap and allow to cool. This garlic was so sweet tasting, I could eat it on it's own!
Roasted Garlic, Basil, Greek Oregano Sun Dried Tomato Compound Butter
2 large sun dried Tomatoes, blot off the oil with a paper towel, and very finely mince
3 cloves of roasted garlic - mash well with a fork
1 Tblsp. Dried Greek Oregano
1 big Tblsp. fresh Basil, finely minced
5 Tblsp. butter
1 big Tblsp. finely grated Feta Cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl.
Then transfer the compound butter to a sheet of plastic wrap, sealing up into the shape of a log, and refrigerate.
Cut into chunks and serve with any grilled meat.
A Sweet Greek Oregano Vinaigrette:
2 Tblsp. Red Wine Vinegar
Extra Virgin Olive Oil - a 3 to 1 ratio with the Red Wine Vinegar
1 big tsp. Dried Greek Oregano
2 finely minced garlic cloves
1 tsp. honey
salt and pepper to taste
Add all of the ingredients to a jar, and shake up well. (I found this dressing needed a little extra splash of Red Wine Vinegar and some extra salt, so check for seasonings) Refrigerate for a couple of hours so the flavors can come together. Serve over a fresh garden salad.
I must show you this dinner one more time...make it tonight...but I must warn you....you might go out of your minds, it was so crazy crazy good! We had this beautiful meal with steamed organic Red French Fingerling Potatoes (yes those Red French Fingerling Potatoes once again!) and fresh steamed carrots with the salad on the side. Did I mention that this was heaven on a plate, did I? If I was not so full I would eat this all over again! Trust me, you are gonna love this! 🙂
Then a few nights later I made the marinade for chicken - marinate for 8 hrs. or overnight. We added the compound butter to steamed fresh vegetables...so so good!
I wish summer would last forever!