Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Orange Meringue Pie

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

This pie was a first for me. I love pies and love baking/making them. But I tend to favor fruit pies where I can highlight whatever fruit is in season. I am not a fan of "foofy" pies-those with lots of ingredients that are like a dessert in a crust. Justin Rashid, founder of American Spoon Foods, once said of my pies that in them, you can taste the pure fruit.

But I tried something new today. And, oh, was it good. And will be repeated. This is citrus season so I used navel oranges for this delicious pie. While I have made various cream pies, this is the first orange one for me. The orange flavor was very subtle. This is a thick and creamy pie.

What you'll need:

1 baked pie crust, cooled

For the filling:

2 c sugar
3/4 c corn starch
1/2 t salt
2 T freshly grated orange zest
3 1/2 c fresh orange juice
2 T fresh lemon juice
3 T butter, softened
5 large eggs, beaten lightly

Mix together the dry ingredients in a saucepan then whisk in the zest and 1/2 of the orange juice and the lemon juice and cook over medium heat, whisking, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter until it is melted. Add the remaining orange juice and eggs and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for 2-5 minutes until the mixture is smooth and fairly thick--you should still be able to move the mixture with the whisk. Force the mixture through a sieve into a bowl--quickly as this will thicken during this process. The difference between the mixture before and after going through the sieve will be very dramatic: the results will be creamy and shiny. Pour the mixture into the pie shell and cool completely.

For the meringue:
3 egg whites at room temperature
1 t cream of tartar
1/3 c sugar
1/2 t vanilla

Beat the egg whites on low speed until they are frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat at medium speed until the whites hold soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar and vanilla and increase the speed to high and beat until the meringue holds stiff peaks. Spread the meringue on the pie mixture and bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Chill completely for several hours.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Mom's Yeast Rolls

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

Thanksgiving and Christmas at our house always included hot yeast rolls.When we were young, our Grandma made them and all the cousins fought over them. Recently, the cousins used Facebook  to reminisce with each other about our huge family gatherings at the holidays and we discovered that in the family there are 3 versions of these rolls: one from our Grandmother, one from our Mom and one from one of the aunts. Grandma's was called Frigidaire yeast rolls because they rested in the Frigidaire. That version didn't include the extra eggs, milk and butter that our Mom's version perhaps because Grandma had a restaurant and didn't include the high fat/high $ ingredients.

I made these roll's yesterday and as always, they were a hit.

Sweet Dough Yeast Rolls
Makes about 42

1 1/2 c lukewarm milk
1 c sugar
2 t salt
1/2 c water
2  packages yeast
3 eggs
3/4 c shortening
7-7 1/2 cups flour

Mix milk, sugar and salt in mixing bowl. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in water, and let proof for 5 minutes. Add yeast mixture, eggs and softened shortening to milk mixture. Stir in flour in two additions. Knead until smooth.

Form into a ball and put in an oiled bowl, covered, until doubled in size. Punch down, knead a couple of times, and let rest for 15 min. Shape into one-inch round balls (roll balls in melted butter first), two per greased muffin cup. Let rise until double in size, 15-30 minutes. Bake 15-20 minutes until golden, at 425 degrees.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Blue Cheese Coleslaw

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

One of the items on today's menu is coleslaw. But not any coleslaw. Blue cheese coleslaw. This is a favorite family recipe given to me years ago by good friend Sherri Reynolds. If you love blue cheese, you'll love this slaw. And if you don't like slaw, you will like this one! It's tangy and sweet and never lasts long when our boys are home.

Combine, whisk and chill for 1 hour:
3 T apple cider vinegar
2 T finely chopped onion
1 T sugar
3/4 t celery seed
1/4 t salt
1/8 t dry mustard
1/4 t pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 c vegetable oil

While it is chilling, finely chop:
1 lb. of cabbage. For color, add some chopped red cabbage and carrots if you like--which we do.

Pour the chilled dressing on the cabbage, stir well and add:
4 oz. crumbled blue cheese

Good luck having any leftover!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Breakfast Casserole

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

This casserole has been a recent addition to Christmas morning. It is too good to eat only once a year! There are many versions of this egg-sausage-bread casserole and this is the version that I have created. We made a pan of it for Christmas morning and it got nibbled on all day!

1 lb breakfast sausage (I use the fresh sausage from my local butcher)

In a medium bowl, mix:
4 eggs
2 1/2 c milk
1 t dried mustard
1 t sweet paprika
1/2 t salt
1/8 t cayenne pepper
pepper to taste

Then add in:
6 slices, toasted and cute into cubes
8 oz. shredded Cheddar cheese

Stir in the drained sausage. Pour into a well oiled 9 x 13" baking pan, cover and refrigerate over night. Bake in the morning, covered, at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake at 325 degrees for 20-30 minutes until brown.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Serbian Family Slava Bread--Kolac

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

We had a Serbian theme for Christmas Eve. Marty spent four hours making sarmas, stuffed cabbages. My mother-in-law celebrates Orthodox Christmas and one of her traditions is this special yeast bread, called kolach that is often served for the Serbian Slava celebrations. Hidden in it is a coin: he or she who pulls a slice from the loaf and has the coin will have good luck for the next year.

The bread is somewhat sweet and it has sugar, lemon juice, milk, sour cream and butter so it is rich and tasty. Once the dough has risen once and been punched down, the dough is divided into 3 logs and then the logs are braided and placed in an angel food cake pan for the second rising and baking. My bread came out gorgeous and we have been nibbling on it but no one has yet found the coin!

In a small bowl, mix together and let this rise for about 30 minutes.
2 pk yeast
1/2 c warm milk
5 T sugar
5 T flour

In a stand mixer, add and mix:
1 c water
2 t salt
3 egg yolks (save the egg whites to wash the bread)
2 t lemon juice
1 c milk
1/4 c softened butter
1/4 s sour cream

Then add 5-6 c of flour in 1/2 c increments and mix with the dough hook of the stand mixer until the dough just begins to pull away from the side of the bowl. The dough will be sticky.  Place the dough in a large, oiled bowl, covered with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm spot until double.

Punch down the dough, place on a floured bowl and knead for 2-3 minutes until the dough is smooth. Divide the dough into 3 pieces and roll each into a log about 3" x 10". Braid the logs, place in an oiled angel food cake pan, overlap the ends of the braids and pinch together. Take a coin wrapped in foil and push it down, vertically, between two of the braid pieces. Let the dough rise again until double.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until the top is browning. Brush the top of the loaf with the egg white and bake for 10 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven and invert the bread on a cookie sheet placing another cookie sheet on the bottom of the angel food cake pan. Slide the bread out of the pan onto the cookie sheet (the top of the bread will be on the cookie sheet) and flip the cookie sheets so the bread is top side up again. Bake for 10 minutes, brush the sides with a the egg white wash and bake for another 10 minutes or until the sides are golden. Remove from the oven and take the bread out of the bottom section of the angel food cake pan.

Slice and hope you find the coin!  And if you are lucky, you'll have some leftover the next day for French toast.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

15 Minute Chocolate Walnut Fudge

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

I am not a candy maker. Our Mom made pralines, fudge, rum balls, , peanut brittle, nut clusters--you name it, she loved to make it. Not me. It's too time consuming and I'd rather be baking. So this 15 minute fudge recipe that appeared in Cook's Illustrated a few years ago is just for me! It's easy, fool proof, and almost as good as the Mackinac Island fudge that is in my roots.

In the top of a double boiler or in a heat proof bowl, add and toss together:
2c chopped semi chocolate
2 oz coarsely chopped unsweetened chocolate
1/8 t salt
1/2 t baking soda

To this add:
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 T vanilla

Set the mixture over a saucepan filled with 2 c simmering water. Stir with rubber spatula until chocolate is almost melted a a few small pieces remain, 2-4 minutes.

Remove the bowl from the heat and continue to stir until chocolate is fully melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in:
1 c coarsely chopped walnuts

Line an 8 x 8" baking pan with foil and oil or use a non stick baking pan. Spread the chocolate mixture into the pan and refrigerate for 2 hours. Remove the foil and fudge from the pan, cut into 1" squares and store in an airtight container.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Cranberry Pie

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

This time of year, cranberry season, this recipe comes out of the recipe box. I cut it out of Redbook magazine years ago and still have it glued to a recipe card. This is an unusual "pie". It's made in a pie plate and has a crust on top but no bottom crust. The introduction that appears on my recipe card says "An out-of-the-ordinary pie, this easy, tasty, nut and berry dessert has a cakelike crust."

Do you ever see a recipe that looks a bit unusual and you make it and not only are surprised at the taste but surprised you were captivated by it because it is a bit different? Growing up with a traditional pie baker in the house, I don't know what drew me to this but I'm glad I found it.

This is an interesting dessert: the cranberries are bright in color and tart while the thin crust is crisp on the top and sweet. Interesting blend of textures and flavors. This is really easy to make, about 5 minutes of preparation time!

3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
3.4 c chopped walnuts
3/4 c sugar
1 large egg
1/2 c flour
1/3 c melted butter

Grease a 9 inch pie plate or fluted quiche dish. Add cranberries and sprinkle with nuts and 1/3 sugar. Beat the egg with the remaining 1/4 c sugar and then add the flour and butter and beat until no lumps remain. Pour the batter over the berry mixture and bake 45 min at 325 degrees F until the crust is a light golden brown.

The recipe says to serve with a spoon. Once this completely cools, it can be cut into pie shaped slices. But it usually doesn't last long enough to cool!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

BBQ Meatloaf

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

This is another of those 'use what is in the fridge' dishes that turned out to be terrific. I had about 1 1/2 lbs of ground beef that needed to be used so I raided the fridge and found some green peppers, onions and a 1/2 jar of homemade BBQ sauce and together with a few other things they made a great BBQ meatloaf.

The type of BBQ sauce used will change the flavors but that creates a different meatloaf every time--exciting! We canned many jars of barbecue sauce this fall so I used our own.

1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 med onion, 1 chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 c panko bread crumbs--I used homemade panko crumbs
2/3 c BBQ sauce reserving 2 T
1 egg
1 1/2 t chili powder
salt and pepper

Mix the ingredients together. Grease a loaf pan. Put the mixture into the loaf pan and pack it down. Spread the remaining 2 T of BBQ over the top. Bake at 375 degrees F for 40-45 minutes. If you are lucky, you'll have leftovers for a meatloaf sandwich!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Homemade Dog Treats--Wheat Free

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

Ok, this is not a normal Three Siblings post. But what the heck, all three of us have dogs. So I'm blogging with my recipe for home baked dog treats.

Because Bazil, our recently deceased labradoodle, had a wheat allergy, I started making his treats. Dash, labradoodle puppy, doesn't have the wheat problem so I hadn't made any treats for him. In a clean-out-the cabinet mode, I found some ingredients, rice flour and quick oatmeal (not the stuff in the packets!), that I only used for dog treats and decided to make a batch to get rid of them. Dashel stood at the counter as I made them just as Baz did and this was his first baking experience.

I used rice flour because of Bazil's allergies; if that isn't an issue, substitute wheat flour. I use a stand mixer for these because the batter is very thick and heavy.

In the mixer, combine:

3 c rice flour
3 c quick oatmeal--I've tried regular, and the oatmeal flakes don't break down enough when baking
3/4 c peanut butter
1/4 c molasses
3 eggs
1 t cinnamon
1/2-3/4 c apple juice

Mix until well blended and the batter is thick. Because there is no baking soda or powder in these treats, they will not rise so you want a thick batter, so thick you can't drop it from a spoon.

Roll the batter out onto a rice floured cutting board and roll to 1/2" thickness. Cut into whatever shapes or sizes you want. Bake at 350 degrees F for 13-15 minutes until the edges just begin to brown. Cool and store in an airtight container. The ingredients are simple but provide whole grains, protein, and vitamins from the molasses. These finished treats are dark and crisp. Look at this ingredient list and the then the ingredients from most store bought treats--no comparison, this one has no chemicals.

I must have done something right: Dash just stands by the pantry door where these treats are kept and looks at us with sad eyes. He loves them!  Woof!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Broiled Bananas--Super Simple!

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

I was in the mood for something sweet tonight but didn't want to go to the effort of a baked good or pudding. So I used what I had: bananas, brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter. And what a treat!

This simple dessert takes minutes to prepare. I used one banana per person.  I cut the bananas lengthwise and placed them in a baking dish. Brown sugar sprinkled over the bananas topped with just a bit of melted butter and a dash of cinnamon completed the dish. Under the broiler they went for about 3 minutes until the brown sugar started to sizzle.

Once in dishes, I topped each banana with a dollop of plain yogurt (mine, of course, since I make my own). And that is it! Five minutes start to finish.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Toasted Oats

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

I'm an oatmeal fan and enjoy all kinds except for the stuff in the packets (with all the chemicals) that is microwaved. Steel cut oats are nutty and have a taste of their own.. I typically use whole oats, not quick, for my morning oatmeal--in a bowl with water to cover, a dash of salt and cinnamon and microwaved on medium power for six minutes. I prefer stove top oatmeal (cooked in a pan on the stove) but if time is short, the slow microwave method works.

Toasted oats are simple and have a crunchy, explode-in-your-mouth taste. I make my own granola which is similar to this recipe only with more additions like cinnamon or nuts.  Toasted oats will keep for weeks in an airtight container and are good with milk, yogurt or just to eat out of your hand as a snack.

4 c whole oatmeal
1/4 c maple syrup--the real stuff from the tree, not the fake stuff with corn syrup & imitation maple

Heat the maple syrup for 30 seconds in the microwave, just enought to thin it a bit. In a large bowl, mix the two ingredients until the oatmeal is coated.  Pour onto a baking sheet in a thin layer. I use one baking sheet for this 4c recipe.

Bake in a 300 degree oven for 30-40 min. stirring occassionally until the oats are browned.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Baked apples

By Perry Washburn

Last fall, on a trip to Napa Valley, we stayed in a great little B&B. The host made amazing breakfasts, which often included muffins or scones, omelets or a baked egg dish, and - I think every day - baked fruit.

This is not something I do much. But I was struck by how easy it was. And how much we liked it. His usually had some liquid, often in the form of a liqueur.

When friends came for the weekend recently, I remembered the fun of baked fruit. Here is my variation:

8 apples, cored and sliced (I don't bother to peel them)
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/4 C butterscotch schnapps
1/2 C brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 C sliced almonds

Butter a backing pan large enough to hold the apples 2-3 slices deep. Layer the apples. Mix the butter the schnapps, and drizzle over the apples. Sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon, and then the almonds over the top. Bake at 400 degrees for about half an hour.

The kids (and adults) LOVED this.

Note: the liqueur options are nearly endless here. This version tastes a bit like caramel apples, part of its appeal. But pears and a rasberry liqueur, for instance, also would be great.

Sweet Potatoes Cuban Style

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

I am not someone who only eats sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving. Actually, those super sweet, marshmellow topped sweet potatoes that were a staple of our family Thanksgiving potlucks do not appear at all in our house. I love sweet potatoes--they are gorgeous and rich in nutrients. Sweet potato fries, baked sweet potatoes, Cuban style sweet potatoes--yes!

This is a super simple savory sweet potato dish that I have been making for years:

Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F and when heated, put an oiled, baking dish in the oven until the dish is sizzling. I use a cast iron skillet.

Peel and cube into 1" chunks medium size sweet potatoes, one potato per person. In a bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with olive oil to coat and salt and pepper.

Put the sweet potatoes in the hot skillet in one layer. Bake about 20 minutes, stirring once, until the potatoes begin to brown.

Remove the potatoes from the oven and stir into them:
2 finely minced garlic cloves
1 T chopped fresh parsley

That's it!

Another variation--stir into the roasted sweet potato:
2 finely minced garlic cloves
1 T finely chopped cilantro
Juice of one lime

Or add the lime juice to the garlic and parsley version.

These variations provide quite a different taste to this simple dish.  These recipes can also be created on the grill using a grill basket.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Greek Stew

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

I've been making this simple stew for years. It's a standby, an easy dish that takes minutes to prepare and about an hour to simmer. There is a surprising ingredient that is added near the end of the cooking time that brings the flavors together in a simple explosion: cinnamon! Why would anyone buy a packet of stew seasoning when this one is so simple, so tasty and minus the chemicals in the grocery store packet. Serve this stew with a salad and a loaf of bread and you've got a great dinner.

1 lb stew meat (or a cut of meat that you like cut into 1" pieces)
1 T olive oil
1 large onion, cut into large wedges
3 large potatoes, cut into wedges
1/2 c carrots, cut into chunks--more if you like carrots, I do
1 can tomato paste
1 t cinnamon
 salt and pepper to taste

Saute the meat and onion in the olive oil until the meat just begins to turn pink. Add the tomato paste and then using the tomato paste can, fill it 3 times with water and add to the meat.

Bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the potatoes and carrots, salt and pepper, bring to a simmer then cover and simmer stirring occasionally for 45 minutes. Add the cinnamon, stir well, cover and simmer 15 minutes. That's it!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Corn Chowder

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

After raking leaves all day yesterday, I wanted somthing warm and filling. I looked in the refrigerator and saw some bacon and the last of this season's local sweet corn. Hum, corn chowder.  I also have quite a supply of gorgeous, multi colored potatoes that I dug from the garden, onions and green peppers from the garden and fresh thyme. Perfect--dinner!

This is an easy and tasty chowder.  You'll need:

6 pieces of bacon
1 med onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 c fresh cut corn, or frozen corn, thawed
2 c potatoes cut into 1/2" pieces
1 c chicken stock
3 c milk

1 t fresh thyme
salt and pepper
1 c grated cheddar cheese

Saute the bacon, removed to paper towel to drain. I poured off all but 1 T bacon grease and briefly sauteed the onion and pepper--about 3 minutes, and then removed to paper towel to drain. But yes, these veggies could be sauteed in olive oil--my Indiana roots prevailed.

Into a pan, add the corn, potatoes, stock, milk and seasonings and bring to a simmer using medium heat. When the milk begins to simmer, add the peppers and onions. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the grated cheese and stir until melted.  I did not add a thickening agent like flour because there is natural starch from the potatoes; the cheese thickened the chowder, too.

I served the steaming bowls of chowder with cornbread made with Spring Mill State Park cornmeal--great meal!

Here's the link from a previous post for Cornbread Roxie:

Cornbread Roxie

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Baking Fresh Pumpkins

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

If you don't already know it, there is a serious shortage of canned pumpkin this year due to cool, wet weather in parts of the country that grow pumpkins. There are no cans of pumpkins in the stores this Thanksgiving season so if you want a pumpkin pie, now is the time to buy fresh pumpkins so that you can bake them and make pumpkin puree.

The canned pumpkin shortage does not impact me: I always make my Thanksgiving pies from fresh pumpkins. There is no comparison in flavor; fresh pumpkin is the preferred ingredient for pies in our house.

The first necessity is to buy pie pumpkins not a carving pumpkin. Not all pumpkins are created equal! Carving pumpkins are thicker and when baked, the result is watery and stringy. A pie pumpkin is smaller, not more than 8-10 inches tall, with thin skins. If the pumpkins aren't labeled, ask.

Our farmer's markets sell pie pumpkins and when I purchased four last week, the sales clerk commented on the shortage of canned pumpkin and said her daughter was bringing canned pumpkin from Missouri when she comes for Thanksgiving. I couldn't help myself: you sell pie pumpkins all day and you are having canned pumpkin brought to you?

Wash the pumpkins, place on a cookie sheet and put into a 350 degree oven. Bake about 50 minutes until a knife pierces easily through the flesh.

Remove from the oven, cut open and cool. Then scoop out the seeds and inner flesh and what remains is what will soon become a pie.  You can remove the pumpkin and mash with a potato masher or run through a food mill. I used a food mill: I scooped out the pumpkin flesh and dropped into a food mill set over a mixing bowl. A few turns of the food mill handle and creamy pumpkin puree fills the bowl.

Because pumpkin cannot be safely canned at home, I put 2 cups of pumpkin puree in quart size freezer bags and put in the freezer. We are traveling to Annapolis for Thanksgiving, so we'll put the freezer bags in the cooler--along with the turkey that will be brining as we drive.

If you want a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, you'd better find some pie pumpkins in the next few weeks before they disappear from the shelves, too!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Fried Sage Leaves

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

Why, oh, why was I so slow to discover these wonderful things? I have a lot of sage in the garden and it goes to waste. No more!

On a recent, wet, cold evening, I ventured into something new: sweet potato gnocchi. And I topped them with a light, white, creamy sauce and fried sage leaves. These are super simple to make, can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container--which I will be doing to use my garden sage before it is covered with snow.

So easy:

Wash and dry sage leaves. I put them in my lettuce spinner then placed on paper towels.

Heat several tablespoons of oil to medium-high heat. Drop in the sage leaves one at a time, only a few at a time. Cook them for only about 30 seconds, until the color just begins to change on them.

Remove with a slotted utensil and drain on paper towels. Salt and enjoy! These would be a perfect addition to any pork dish or the Thanksgiving turkey. I used a handful on the gnocchi but ate the rest as a snack!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Curried Ground Beef Served on Grits! Another $6 dinner

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

My intent was to grill hamburgers outside but pouring rain forced a menu change. Since I was creating butternut squash patties with curry, I stayed with the curry theme. And the result will be repeated again--it was a winner!

This was a quick and simple dish that used only a few ingredients. I served it on grits, yes, grits! We love grits and I made them with milk so that they were thick and creamy--a perfect fit with the curried beef. If you haven't discovered Anson Mills organic heirloom grains, you're in for a treat. www.ansonmills.com

For this dish, I used:

1 lb ground beef
1 T olive oil
1 med onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 T curry powder--more if you are a curry fan
2 tomatoes, chopped into pieces about 1" in diameter--1 red,1 orange because I still have heirlooms from my garden
1/2 c water
salt and pepper to taste
chopped parsley for garnish

And here's how to put it together:

Saute the beef until slightly pink--not completely cooked. Remove to another bowl, drain the beef fat, add the olive oil and saute the onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes. Add the beef and remaining ingredients and simmer for 10-15 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. My heirloom tomatoes are watery so this took about 15 minutes. In the winter when I don't have fresh tomatoes and don't want to pay $2 each for the cardboard tasting ones in the stores, I will use canned tomatoes.

This is not a dish that is based on the tomatoes; they are an addition and using only a small amount really works well. 

For this dinner, the meat was $2 (on sale) and the other ingredients were about $1, a bit more if I didn't have my own tomatoes so add another $1 for canned tomatoes. This could be served with rice or pasta but it was particularly great with the creamy grits. Another $1.50 for the grits and milk and adding in $.50 for the butternut squash pancakes, this was another under $6 dinner for the two of us and I had leftovers!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Savory Butternut Squash Patties with Curry

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

I had some leftover butternut squash that I wanted to use in a savory pancake version. What I came up with is a real winner--these were outstanding.

This time of year, I love various squashes. I am a fan of spaghetti squash baked and tossed with just olive oil and garlic. I picked up a large butternut squash for about $1 at the farmer's market and baked it--pierced with a knife, baked on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes until a knife easily pierced through it.

Next, I cut open the squash, let it cool, scooped out the seeds and strings, and then scooped out the cooked squash, tossed with butter and salt and pepper. Easy and good. But I had about 2 c leftover and was looking for something different. So this is what I put together:

2 c cooked butternut squash
1/2 t garlic powder
2 t fresh chopped parsley
1 t curry powder
2 T flour
salt and pepper

I blended the ingredients into a thick mixture. I debated adding an egg as Grandma Washburn always did with mashed potato cakes (oh, those were tasty) but decided against it as the consistency of the mixture was nice and thick.  My intent was to add some panko bread crumbs to the mixture but it didn't need any extra filler. I was a bit skeptical of this mixture minus the egg and panko but what did I have to lose--I was working with leftovers!

I formed the mixture into patties--not too thick--and sauteed in hot oil, turning twice until each side was a crispy brown. Amazing flavor. The savory patties will definitely appear again in our kitchen.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Chicken Dumplings in Green Curry

By Perry Washburn

My son Daniel rang me midday from college. "I'm coming home tonight to get winter clothes. Let's cook."

After much debate, and on a quest for something "new", he found this recipe for dumplings - perhaps better called meatballs - in The Complete Asian Cookbook. Luckily we have one great and several good Asian groceries in town. As I teach Thai classes, I keep more basic Asian ingredients on hand than most people, and know where to find the rest. Daniel marveled at my fav Asian grocery, and the Asian ladies pulling lively blue crabs out of a bushel basket, barrel-full-o-monkeys style. (Double Dragon on 2nd Ave. for Des Moines locals.) The lemon, lemon grass, curry and basil flavors in this dish were stellar.

Here's the recipe, with my additions or changes in parentheses.

1 lb chicken minced
3 green onions, diced
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 stalk lemon grass, white part only, finely diced
1 tsp chicken stock powder (I used 1 tsp Penzey's chicken soup base)
1 1/2 cups cooked jasmine rice
1 egg plus one egg white (I used 2 whole eggs)
(1/2 cup bread crumbs)
2 Tbs oil
2 Tbs Thai green curry paste
3 cups coconut milk (or 4)
4 fresh kaffir lime leaves
1/2 cup basil
1 Tbs lemon juice

Mix together the chicken mince, spring onion, cilantro, lemon grass, 2 Tbs fish sauce, the stock powder (I mixed in the Penzey's soup base with the fish sauce before adding), and some pepper. Add the rice and mix well with your hands. (I found my "dice" or "mince" was not fine enough, so I threw it all in the food processor. Much easier.)

Beat the egg and the white (or in my case both eggs) with a mixer until thick and creamy, then fold into the chicken mixture. (I had NEVER tried to beat whole eggs. Didn't know it would work. A revelation! You don't quite get to soft peaks, but close. Because I used the extra yolk, and Penzey's paste, these may have been slightly more soupy than normal. I wanted the binding power of the extra yolk. But they were too loose to roll, so I added bread crumbs to get to meatball consistency.) With floured hands (I used lots) roll tablespoon sized balls, and place on a tray. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours. (I cheated, and we put them in the freezer for 15 minutes).

Heat the oil in a large frying pan (I used my 18-inch cast iron skillet for this, and needed all of it). Add the green curry paste, and stir over medium heat for 1 minute. (I added some of the thick cream from the coconut milk at the beginning, as this is the traditional way to start a curry. Make sure you DON'T shake the coconut milk, or you will mix it all up. It naturally separates; use the thick part first. Don't ever buy "light.") Gradually stir in the remainder of the coconut milk, and reduce to simmer. Add the lime leaves and the dumplings, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. (I used a stiff spatula to turn them. I found in my cast iron skillet, these actually browned; I had to get under them to turn them. They would have broken with a spoon. I turned them often.) (If the sauce gets too thick, add more coconut milk. As the cans are commonly 19 oz each, you will have extra.) When the dumplings are done, stir in the basil, remaining fish sauce and fresh lemon juice. Serve over rice.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Braised Sauerkraut & Bratwurst--Dinner for $6

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

What an easy and great dinner we had tonight. We love sauerkraut and this recipe is one that I cut out from Parade Magazine in January 1983. Julia Child created it and we love it.

Sauerkraut is shredded green cabbage that is layered with salt and weighted down in a crock until it ferments. This was an ancient way of preservation. Sauerkraut has a distinct, sour taste that blends wonderfully with pork. You can find sauerkraut bagged in the deli section like I did or bottled (or make your own!). Julia's note in 1983 says to not buy sauerkraut with sugar added and that Dutch or German types are preferred.

This recipe will serve 4.

1 lb sauerkraut
1 1/2 c sliced onions
1/2 c dry white wine or vermouth
1 1/2 c chicken broth
1/4 t each caraway seeds and thyme
1 bay leaf

Start by draining the sauerkraut in a colander and rinsing with cold water. Then soak the kraut in cold water for 10 minutes. Drain, rinse, soak again. Repeat this 3 or 4 times--each time makes it less sour.  Drain one last time and squeeze by handfuls to remove excess water then fluff up the stands (Julia's words).

While the kraut is soaking, simmer the onions and wine/vermouth (or chicken broth) in a heavy casserole for 8-10 minutes or until quite tender. Add in the remaining ingredients and simmer slowly for 30 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated.

For my dinner tonight, I cut 1 lb of fresh made bratwurst into 3" lengths, browned for 10 minutes and added to the sauerkraut. Place the covered oven proof dish into a 400 degree oven and bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes.

Along with the sauerkraut and bratwurst, I roasted some broccoli. I tossed cut broccoli pieces with olive oil and salt and pepper and roasted at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes.  For this dinner, the bratwurst was $3, the sauerkraut $1, another $1 for the broccoli and $1 for onion, seasonings, olive oil, and chicken stock. Dinner for $6.

As Julia would say, bon appetit!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Freezing Peppers

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

We still have a large quantity of peppers from the garden but they will not hold much longer. Last winter, we took a 'we are bored' road trip to Ann Arbor, 4 hours, to go to Trader Joe's. One of the new items I discovered on that trip: frozen pepper pieces.

Much to our surprise, they worked well in many dishes and with red peppers often $3 each in the winter, these frozen peppers added color and flavor without the cost.

Yesterday, I froze 3 quarts of chopped pepper pieces and look forward to tossing them into food next winter. Here's what I did:

Cleaned and chopped both red and green peppers. I then placed them in a single layer, no overlapping pieces, on a cookie sheet and put them in the freezer for about an hour. Then I loosened the pieces from the cookie sheet--they were stuck to it--with a spatula and scooped into a quart size freezer bag. They look gorgeous!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Black-eyed Chicken

By Perry Washburn
This fall finds me on the run, frequently looking to make something tasty - fast.

I had thawed a package of chicken thighs, and I knew I had a bag of basil from an Asian market run that needed to be used. And a bunch of leftover white rice. The rest was a fridge raid. My girls loved this! Here's how this really fun dish came out.

1 pound of chicken thighs, cleaned, boned and diced
Sesame oil
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 small onion, diced
1 cup green onion, with the white and green separated
1 cup basil, chopped
2 Tbs spicy brown bean sauce (check your Asian market)
1/2 tsp ground chili garlic oil (ditto)
1 can black-eyed peas, including the juice
1 tsp Penzey's vegetable soup base

Saute the chicken in a tablespoon or so of sesame oil until it's starting to lose its pink. Add the celery, the onion, and the white/light green part of the green onions. Continue cooking until they are beginning to wilt. Add the bean sauce, the chili/garlic oil, the blackeyed peas and the soup base. Cook for 5 minutes or so, until it's all well mixed. Stir in the basil and green onion, and serve over steamed (or in my case, reheated) rice.

Roasted Beets

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

I love beets in any fashion. This summer, my beet crop wasn't the best but last year I had so many that I canned jars of pickled beets and they were oh, so tasty. Many people think they don't like beets probably because they have only been exposed to commercially canned harvard beets. We've served fresh from the garden beets to dinner guests who were stunned at the sweet flavor of the real thing.

Last night, I took a roasted beet dish to a pot luck and it was a hit. The usual comments were heard: I forget about beets or I love beets but don't know how to cook fresh ones.  I came home from the farmers' market with two huge bunches of fresh beets for $3 and went to work.

Whenever I cook fresh beets, I remember Grandma Washburn telling me to leave 2" of the stems and roots attached to each beet so that the color doesn't drain out while cooking. So just like Grandma said, I trimmed all the beets, washed them, and put them on a large sheet of heavy aluminum foil in a single layer.

Next I added a handful of fresh thyme from the garden, four garlic cloves unpeeled and drizzled with olive oil and tossed.  I closed the foil around the beets, put on a baking sheet and into a 400 degree oven.

An hour later, I removed the foil packet, opened it and let the beets cool. Then under running water--this keeps your hands from turning red--I easily slipped the skins from the beets, cut off the root and top, and cut into chunks about 1" in diameter.  I squeezed the garlic cloves to remove the cooked garlic, chopped into a small dice and added to a serving bowl with the beets.

I tossed the cleaned beets with salt, pepper, 2 T olive oil, 1 T balsamic vinegar (the vinegar brings out the sugar in the beets) and just before serving, I added 1/2 cup of crumbled feta cheese.

Another favorite roasted beet recipe that I love is to add the roasted and cleaned beets to the food processor with salt, pepper and a couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and puree.  The gorgeous, red puree is a terrific color and taste addition to the dinner plate.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Leftover Pork Tenderloin Stir Fry

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

I had a large piece of leftover grilled pork tenderloin and a lot of fresh vegetables. Together, they made quite a delicious and easy dish.

What I had to use for this dish:

2 c chopped pork tenderloin, cooked
1 red pepper, sliced into long, thin strips
1 green pepper, sliced into long, thin strips
diced hot pepper to taste
1 medium onion, sliced from top to bottom
1/2 c carrots, sliced thin in 2" strips
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 T olive oil
1/2 c pepper jelly--I used some that I had made
salt and pepper
1/2 fresh parsley

Heat the oil and add the peppers, onion, carrots, and garlic. Saute over med-high heat until the veggies begin to soften but are still crisp. Add the pepper jelly, salt and pepper and 1/2 of the parsley and stir for 1 minute. Add the chopped pork and stir until the pepper jelly begins to simmer.

I served this on rice that had been cooked with Penzey's pork base and topped it with the remaining parsley. Only one word for this dish: Gone!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Roasting Peppers

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

We have bushels of red peppers ripening in my garden shed and I am roasting them to make ajvar. I finally discovered an easier way to roast the peppers so that they are evenly charred.

First, wash the peppers, remove the core and seeds, and cut in half. Place the halves on a lined cookie sheet--foil works best. As the peppers roast, they let off juices and under the broiler, these juices are difficult to clean from a baking sheet.

Flatten each pepper half with your hand. This trick makes the peppers brown evenly. Turn the oven to broil and put the baking sheet about 8" under the broiler--you want them to char but not turn to mush.

Broil the peppers until they are evenly blackened turning the pan after about 5 minutes. The peppers will blacken in about 10 minutes.Put the peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the peppers sit for for 15-30 minutes. The heat from the peppers steams the blackened skin away from the peppers so they are easy to peel. If you have used foil to roast the peppers, just wrap the foil around the peppers and let them sit.

Remove the plastic wrap or foil and let them cool. Then pull the skin away from the peppers. Voila! That's it.

One of our favorite summer dishes is grilled chicken breasts brushed with balsamic vinegar and olive oil served with slices of roasted peppers and fresh basil.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Roasted Chicken Breasts & Spanish Rice in the Dutch Oven--Easy!

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

Fall is here and it's time to change directions a bit on cooking. While we can still grill outside, a chilly Sunday got us thinking about a one-pot Dutch oven dish.

I love chicken breasts with the bone in. Not only are they cheaper than boneless, $.99 a pound compared to 3 or 4 times that, but they hold moisture better.

What I used in this recipe:
2 chicken breasts, bone in
2 T olive oil
1 c BBQ sauce
1 green pepper, chopped
1 med onion, chopped
1 t cumin
1 t chopped hot pepper--I used a hot Serbian pepper
1 c rice
2 c water

Start by browning the chicken breasts in a Dutch oven in 2 T olive oil.

While the chicken breasts brown, add the BBQ sauce to a saucepan. I used BBQ sauce that we made a few weeks ago but any thick sauce will do. To the sauce, add green pepper and onion, cumin and diced hot pepper (or pepper flakes). Bring this mixture just to a simmer.

Baste 1/2 of the barbecue sauce mixture on the chicken breasts in the Dutch oven. Then add the rice and water and the rest of the BBQ sauce, stir, covered and put into a 350 degree oven.

Rice takes about 20-25 minutes to cook but these breasts don't need that much time since they are browned first. So bake the breasts and Spanish rice for 10 minutes and then turn off the oven and leave the Dutch oven in the oven for another 10-15 minutes. The rice will continue to cook.

That's it! A one pot chicken and Spanish rice meal with great flavors and the total preparation time is less than 10 minutes.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Tomato Basil Tart

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

I made this tart last night with my last trip to the garden for the year to harvest tomatoes and basil. I covered the basil but it was 29 degrees this am so I'm afraid to check. Bushels of tomatoes got picked and moved to the garden shed for protection.

So it was necessary to use tomatoes and basil in last night's dinner dish and this tart fit the bill. I have played with various versions over the summer and this one got it right--ricotta cheese, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses, eggs, basil, garlic, tomatoes and a pie crust. Simple ingredients that turned into a perfect meal.

I first made a pie crust, single layer, and baked it for 10 minutes at 350 degrees just to set the crust. When I took it out of the oven, I immediately added 1/2 c of shredded mozzarella and let it sit for 5 minutes so that the cheese melted. These two steps--short prebake and the addition of the mozzarella cheese while the crust is hot--sets the bottom of the crust so that the tart doesn't sink until it resulting in a very flaky bottom crust.

Next, take 2 tomatoes--I used an orange and a red, slice thinly, salt, and place on paper towels to drain while the crust is in the oven.

In the food processor, I added and pureed:

1/2 c ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1 clove garlic
3/4 c fresh basil
salt and pepper

Place the tomatoes on top of the melted mozzarella in the pie crust and add the cheese puree.

Top with:
1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
1 c shredded mozzarella cheese

Bake the tart in the 350 degree oven for 45-50 minutes until the top is golden brown.

The great thing about this tart for us is that it was not only dinner last night, but lunch today. It's excellent cold. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Food Warms Up The Memories

By Perry Washburn

Reprinted from the Des Moines Register

Tradition is a powerful motivator. Since moving to Iowa four years ago, I have loved the Iowa State Fair because it is so rich in tradition. You can walk the barns and the buildings and see that families who have been showing off their talents there for generations.

Likewise, I am a good cook in large part because my Indiana family made food a huge priority. My grandmothers both ran restaurants, and my aunts and uncles excelled in the kitchen. My mom's gravestone proudly proclaims "world class pie baker." My siblings are fabulous cooks.

So my cooking is a family tradition.

And nothing reminds me of my Midwestern foodie roots more than the bountiful harvests of fruits and vegetables. Take me to a farmers market, and my mind races with the memories of dishes and family gatherings gone by.

"These cucumbers and onions are great," my daughter said earlier this summer. They were tart, crunchy, fresh and delicious, tossed simply with some vinegar and a bit of sugar. But this dish is not one of my staples.

"Why did you make this?" she asked. Because, I told her, I saw the cucumbers and thought of my mom.

On the drive home from a daughter's softball practice last week, I found myself pulling over suddenly. My daughter thought I was nuts. But there in a yard was a table full of tomatoes and squash, a scale, a coffee can and some simple directions. I happily weighed a couple of the best-looking tomatoes you've ever seen, and put the money in the coffee can. I smiled at my good fortune. My wife and daughters, who love fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil, were in for a treat!

This time of year reminds me of fall harvests of the past, where Mom would excitedly call me to the garden. The broccoli is ready! Or the carrots, the beets. And she taught me simple rules. When you have something fresh and at the peak of flavor, you can let it be the star of the meal. With high-quality ingredients, simple often is better.

Often a little steam or some sautéing with butter is all you need for carrots, beets, turnips, broccoli and squash to shine. Perhaps add one fresh herb, say some thyme. The freshness explodes in your mouth. With fresh-from-the-garden flavor, you don't need complicated cooking methods or layers of ingredients.

My grandfather and I used to love digging potatoes in one of two huge family gardens. We especially prized the little ones, which Grandma or Mom would gently boil or roast, then toss with butter and parsley.

Grandad has been gone 40 years this summer. But a steaming bowl of fresh potatoes brings the tastes and memories flooding back. Pass the potatoes, please?

Perry's 2&1 rub

2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika

Here is a quick way to make your own rub. This is my theory: put in 2 teaspoons of the spices that should be in every rub. For me, those are salt, sugar and garlic powder. Then pick three of your favorites and add one teaspoon each of those. Most commercial rubs are salt heavy. If even this one has too much, move up the onion powder to the 2 teaspoon spot, and move the salt down to 1 teaspoon. Be creative on the 1 teaspoon side: Add dried herbs like thyme and basil, pepper or chilis, and/or spices with a zing like ginger, cinnamon, curry powder, etc. Have fun!

Perry's Cabbage and Chops

4 pork chops
4 tablespoons Perry's 2&1 Rub
1-2 tablespoons oil
1 small head cabbage (1.5 pounds) sliced thin
1 large onion, sliced
1 large tomato, diced
1 teaspoon oregano

Sprinkle rub onto pork chops and cover or place in a plastic bag. The longer you let the rub sit, the better it gets, although you can proceed immediately to the next step.

In a large skillet, heat the oil until hot. Over medium high heat, fry the pork chops until brown on the bottom and red juices are starting to come out the top. Turn, and brown the other side until done.

Take the pork chops out of the skillet and place on a heated platter and cover.

Add onions, cabbage, tomato and oregano to the skillet and cook, turning often, until the veggies are wilted. 8-10 minutes. (Some people like their cabbage just barely wilted, and bright green, and other like it cooked longer. Your choice.)

Put a heaping spoonful on each plate, and top with a chop.

Serves 4-6.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Carrot Soup

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

This soup is really tasty. This time of year when I have carrots in the garden, I make huge pots of it and freeze. One of those "wow" soups, it's simple and elegant.
I love using carrots in different ways and this recipe uses carrots along with a sweet potato and a baking potato (although today I dug potatoes from the garden.)

Saute in 1 T butter:
1 med onion minced

Add to the pot:
2 c sliced carrots
2 c chicken stock

Simmer until the carrots are tender. While they are cooking, microwave:
1 large sweet potato
1 large baking potato

Cut open the potatoes to cook and then scrape the potatoes (minus skins) into a food processor. Add the carrots, onions and broth and puree until smooth.

Return to the pot and:

3 c chicken stock
2 T fresh dill
salt and pepper

Simmer for 10 minutes. Serve with a dollop of sour cream.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Roasted Tomato Sauce

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

This sauce is amazing! We have an abundance of tomatoes from the garden and having canned dozens and dozens of quarts of tomatoes and pints of BBQ sauce over the weekend, I needed a new way to use them. Marty walked into the kitchen while I was putting a pan of tomatoes in to roast and he scoffed at me. After he tasted the sauce, he says he is unscoffing!

Most roasted tomato recipes call for Roma tomatoes but I only have heirlooms (16 kinds). I picked a variety this afternoon, cut them in wedges maybe 2" at the thickest, and tossed them in a bowl with olive oil and salt. I prepared enough to cover a cookie sheet. I put a Silpat baking sheet on the cookie sheet (saves clean up), added the tomatoes in a single layer and roasted at 285 degrees for 2 1/2 hours. I turned the tomatoes once while roasting. The tomatoes were reduced in size and just beginning to brown when I removed them from the oven.

While they were roasting, we brought in from the garden a medium green pepper and onion and a huge handful of basil, about 3/4 c. We sauteed the minced veggies in olive oil with a minced clove of garlic, basil and salt and pepper. I had 3/4 lb of cooked bacon leftover from last night's BLTs and crumbled the bacon and added to the sauce pan. To this we added the entire pan of roasted tomatoes, stirred the mixture and cooked on medium heat for about 10 minutes.

We served the sauce on cappellini but it would also be great on pizza, mixed with risotto, or served on warm polenta.

This was an absolutely outstanding tomato sauce--rich and flavorful. Now I know what to do with my tomatoes in the garden! This weekend's project will be making pots of the sauce (minus the bacon) and freezing.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ajvar--Serbian "Salsa" with Red Peppers and Eggplants (Aubergine)

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

Ajvar! It is the end of summer and the red peppers and eggplants are plentiful so now is the time to make ajvar. Pronounced eye-vahr, this tasty spread was introduced to us by one of our Serbian kids when he brought a large jar from home to us. When we visited Serbia 2 years ago, we became addicted.

Imagine sitting down at a Serbian dinner table and having a large bowl of glorious roasted red peppers and eggplants in front of you with a plate of thick bread. Then imagine trying to eat anything else after stuffing yourself with ajvar. When Nathaniel was in Serbia last year on business, he asked the waiter for the roasted eggplant and pepper spread and he said, "Ah, ajvar." Ah, indeed.

This is basically a spread made of roasted eggplants and red peppers pureed with garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, hot pepper, and parsley. We grow Serbian peppers in our garden and they are significantly different than American peppers. Peppers in Serbia are called paprikas and they are not as big around but longer. We have 3 kinds of Serbian peppers in our garden: large sweet, long hot, and tiny super hot.

I am canning ajvar now and hope to can about 20 small jars. Serving a small bowl of ajvar with good crackers to guests never ceases to bring the question: "What is this? It's amazing." Ajvar is so good but except for specialty stores that sell Balkan foods, you can't find it here. Trader Joe's sells a roasted pepper and eggplant spread which is basically ajvar but they probably didn't call it ajvar since no one would know what it is!

Eat an oven to 475 degrees.

2 large eggplants
6 large red peppers
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 c olive oil
3 T fresh lemon juice
3 T chopped flat leaf parsley
salt, pepper
Hot pepper flakes--or roast a hot pepper with the sweet ones

Place the peppers and eggplants (aubergine) on a cooking sheet and roast 20-25 minutes until the skins of the peppers are black. Put the peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, scrap out the pulp of the eggplant into a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients. When the peppers are cool, remove the blackened skin and seeds and add the peppers to the food processor. Pulse into smooth.

To can the ajvar, warm the ajvar in the microwave until hot to the touch throughout. Ladle into hot jars and can in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tomato, Cucumber, Onion & Basil Salad

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

Lunch. This is what I made for lunch today. Since I know I can't do this 2 months from now, I come home daily and make something from the garden. Today, I harvested 2 gorgeous tomatoes, a Japanese Black Trifle and Italian Rainbow, a cucumber, a red onion, and a handful of basil.

My salad was simple: the tomatoes still warm from the sun, with the other garden treasures, all cut into small bites and dressed simply with 1 1/2 T olive oil and 1 t balsamic vinegar.

We once had a similar salad in Ontario called Canadian slaw. I don't know why it was called a slaw. But it was also in the late summer and wonderful even if it surprised us when it arrived at the table.

The juice of the tomatoes blends with the oil and vinegar to make a superb dressing. I filled a large bowl with this salad and took it back to the office where each bite was like a bite of summer. Amazing. And none of it more than just a few minutes from the garden.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tzatziki--Cucumber Salad with Homemade Greek Yogurt

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

I picked the first Armenian cucumber today from the garden (the cold and the deer slowed their arrival) so I had to use one in one of my favorite salads: a simple Tzatziki, or Greek yogurt and cucumber salad.

Because I make my own yogurt at least once a week, I also make my own Greek yogurt. Even if you don't make your own yogurt, you can easily create a Greek style yogurt at home minus the hefty price tag. Greek yogurt is sometimes called strained yogurt because the whey is strained from regular yogurt. It is thick, tangy and so popular these days that Greek yogurt sales have grown nearly tenfold in the past few years.

To make Greek yogurt, pour plain yogurt into a strainer lined with cheesecloth, place the strainer over a bowl, and put in the refrigerator over night. That's it. In the morning, the bowl will be filled with whey (which my puppy loves!). Squeeze the remaining whey out of the cheesecloth and then scrape from the cheesecloth the thick Greek yogurt.

In a bowl, whisk together:
1 T olive oil
1 T red wine vinegar
2 finely minced garlic cloves
1 1/2 c Greek yogurt

To this add finely chopped cucumbers, salt and pepper and stir to coat the cukes. I also added fresh dill since I have it in the garden. Chill several hours.

For an early post on making yogurt, scroll down the page and in the right hand column listing the labels, click on Yogurt.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Spicy Chickpeas & Tomatoes

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

Oh, is this tasty! I love spicy, Indian flavors and have fond memories of a chickpea & eggplant stew that I had at diner in Maine years ago. This version comes close.

This dish can be done with just the chickpeas and tomatoes but because the garden is flourishing right now, I added onions, green pepper, and eggplant to it. The result is a thick vegetable stew that makes a great side dish (would be great with the lamb we just got) or for lunch as I had it today.

The hands-on time for this dish is less than 10 minutes. If you stick with just the tomatoes and chickpeas, it takes about 5 minutes to prepare, another 20 to simmer. Fast and tasty!

3 T olive oil
3 T cumin
2 T coriander
1 t ginger
1 t cinnamon
cayenne pepper to taste--I added about 1/2 t--I love Penzey's black & red

1/2 med onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 qt canned tomatoes juice included
2 cans chickpeas/garbanzo beans
1 1/2 c chopped eggplant (I used a long, thin variety)
salt, pepper to taste
1/2 c chopped Italian parsley

Saute the onion and green pepper in the olive oil over medium heat until they just begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the spices and saute, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes or until the oil turns a deep, rich color. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve hot, cold or at room temperature and top with chopped parsley.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Drying Herbs: Italian Parsley & Basil

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

For the next few weeks, we will be furiously "putting up" the herbs from our garden before the frost. Italian parsley is what I harvested today. I have a huge crop of it and preserve it in two ways: drying and freezing.

The first step in this process is the most laborious: picking, cleaning, culling. This would be one step easier if you are using farmer's market herbs--you don't have to pick them like I do. This time of year, there are a variety of herbs at the markets just waiting to be "put up" for use months from now.

Freezing is easy. Pull the leaves from the stalks so you are only using the leaves. Chop fairly fine and put into a small freezer bag pushing the parsley to the bottom and in a fairly even row across the bottom. Then roll the bag beginning with parsley end pushing air out as you roll. Seal the bag and freeze. I usually will do several bags like this and then remove the parsley rolls and put into one freezer bag. When you're ready to use the parsley, just cut off a chunk.

The other freezing method is the one I used on basil today. I chopped the basil and packed tightly into an ice cube tray, covered with water and stuck in the freezer. When they are frozen, pop out the basil cubes and put into a freezer bag. The basil cubes can be used in any recipe except for perhaps a fresh basil caprese salad. Throw the cubes in marinara sauce, soup and use for Thai curries. I will also dry basil.

Today I filled two ice cube trays with basil and four dehydrator racks with Italian parsley. The parsley will dry in the dehydrator for about 12 hours on low and then I will crumble it into a bowl and put in an airtight bag.

Yet to come to our kitchen for drying: dill, cilantro, coriander, oregano, thyme, and sage.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Canning Time: Bread & Butter Pickles

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

We are avid canners. I can't imagine not doing this. Taking veggies fresh from my garden or the farmer's market and canning them is a labor of love. But it also delivers a food product that is far superior than similar store purchased items. And there is no comparison in cost: this is inexpensive. And easy. With no preservatives or chemicals added. Pure and simple foods.

We have a pantry that is filled with items that we can each year: pickles, pickled beets, ajvar (Serbian eggplant & pepper spread), dilly beans (with a tiny, French bean that I grow), peach and grape jam, grape juice, green tomato chutney (outstanding with pork), tomatoes, marinara sauce, tomato juice, salsa. This week I canned something new, a thick, chunky zucchini relish that I can't wait to try on kielbasa.

Because of all that we can, we spend very little on these kinds of foods at the grocery store. Those inside aisles? Rarely do I go there except for baking items, oils, canned beans, or condiments like mustard. Once you have your own canned goods, the grocery store brands, even the pricey ones, just don't taste as good. With increased attention on eating healthy and being cost conscious at the grocery store, canning makes sense.

But I can probably can name only a few people who share this passion. Why more people don't do it, especially foodies, is mystery to me. It's so much fun and delivers such an outstanding food product.

Basic equipment needs: a canner and canning rack, about $19 at a big box store, funnel (to put food in the jars), jar lifter, canning jars and lids (at any garage sale!).

Bread and butter pickles are really good. They have the crispness of the cukes in a spicy sugar/vinegar pickling liquid. Don't even think of buying a bread & butter pickle mix! These are very easy to make. This recipe is a variation of the one in the Ball canning book.

6 c sliced cucumbers, about 1/4" thick, not the tiny dill size but not the huge ones either
1 1/1 c sliced onions
1 1/2 c sliced green or red peppers, or a mixture of the two

I like my pickles to be about 1/2 cukes and the other 1/2 onions and peppers so that when I open a jar months from now, it's almost a salad.

Put the veggies in a bowl, top with 1 c kosher salt and a layer of ice cubes. Let them stand about 2 hours, or overnight in the fridge. The salt brings out all of the liquid in the vegetables so that when processed, the vegetables stay crisp. Drain the veggies in a colander, rinse, and drain again.

In a small saucepan, bring the canning jars and lids to a simmer for 10 min to sterilize.

While the canner is heating up with water and 5 pint canning jars with water to cover by 1", bring to a boil
2 c sugar
3 c vinegar
2 t peppercorns
2 t turmeric
2 T mustard seed
2 t celery seed
1/2 t cayenne pepper

Add the drained vegetables, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove one of the pint jars from the boiling water canner (sterilizing the jars takes about 10 minutes at a boil), put the funnel in the jar and using a slotted ladle, fill the jar. Stir with a knife to settle the vegetables in the jar. With a ladle, fill the jar with the pickling liquid to within 1/2" of the top of the jar.

Wipe the rims of the jar clean with a damp cloth or paper towel. This removes any spices of vegetables that can make it difficult for the lids to seal. Place a lid and rim on the jar and tighten. Using the jar lifter, put the filled jar back in the canner and remove another jar emptying the water back into the canner as you lift it out.

When all the filled jars are in the canner, cover the canner. Once the water has returned to a rolling boil, start a timer that is set for 10 min.

After 10 minutes, remove the jars with with jar lifting and place on a dish cloth. Very soon, the lids with make a popping sound--you know they have sealed. Check the lids after a few hours to make sure all the lids have sealed. You will see a tiny indentation in the middle of the lid.

Pickles need to sit for 4-6 weeks to fully develop flavor.

Look at all the gorgeous jars of pickles on your counter and smile! I gave a canning lesson to a friend of mine this week. Anyone want to come for a lesson?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fresh Peaches with Brown Sugar & Sour Cream

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

I'm not sure this dessert qualifies as a recipe. It is oh-so-simple and very tasty.

Slice fresh peaches and place in serving dishes so that each dish has 1 c of peach slices.

Top each serving with 2 t brown sugar and 2 t sour cream.

When this is served, stir together the sugar and sour cream with the peaches. The peach juices mix with the sugar and sour cream making a golden syrup. The syrup brings out the best in the fresh peaches.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sweet Corn--'putting it up'--Black Bean & Corn Salad

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

The sweet corn that we are getting now is superb. Sweet, pop in the mouth, kernels. Corn is the one food that says summer to me. I hold the family record for eating 36 ears in one sitting--and I could do it again today! A summer 'supper' when we grew up was a table filled with sweet corn and BLTs and, of course, we used the bacon grease on the corn. Yum.

I always cook at least twice as much corn as I think we'll eat (I usually have 6-8 ears!). The remaining corn is cooled, cut off the cob--I use a serrated knife and cut into a wide bowl that is sitting on a large piece of aluminum foil, really helps with the mess.

I bag the corn by handfuls, usually 2 large handfuls to a quart freezer bag, mark the date on the bag with a marker and put in the freezer. Sometimes I'll mark notes on the corn bag. The first bag that went in the freezer this summer says "Aida and Madina" because they were here for Summer Camp Aunt Kathie. When I pull that bag out of the freezer in February, I'll an immediate memory of our glorious summer week.

One of my favorite summer salads is black bean and fresh corn. After cooking corn, I'll save 1-1 1/2 cups for the next day.

To the corn, add:
2 cans drained black beans (I now cook a batch of beans on the weekend and put them in the fridge so if I'm using those beans, I use 3 cups)
1 med onion, diced
1 med green pepper, diced
3 T minced fresh cilantro
3 T olive oil
1 1/2 T balsamic vinegar

This salad will keep for several days in the refrigerator--if you have any leftovers which I never do.

Monday, August 10, 2009


By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

I wonder how many people when hearing of the recent cartoon Disney movie "Ratatouille" wondered what the movie title word meant. We serve ratatouille often in the summer and take it for potluck dinners and many people have never heard the word or of the dish. They are missing something special.

I first fixed a ratatouille dish nearly 30 years ago when we had an abundance of eggplant and zucchini in our garden and used a recipe of Julia Child's printed in a Sunday newspaper magazine--in the days before you could Google eggplant and zucchini when looking for a way to use them. Consequently, we often call this Ratatouilla Julia.

We have eggplants, zucchini, peppers, basil and onions in the garden now but still do not have fresh tomatoes. So I used the fresh veggies and added a quart of my tomatoes that I canned last summer (I never buy canned tomatoes any more!). It was so spectacular that canned tomatoes might be what I use from now on. The added juice in the canned tomatoes really brought this dish together.

This is an amazing blend of eggplants, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, onions and basil that is cooked slowly to a thick stew-like consistency. Just before serving, Parmesan cheese is folded in. This dish can be reheated or served cold. It is also great on pizza. Serve it with a thick, crusty bread and call it a meal.

And better yet, double the ingredients and when cooled, freeze 1/2 of the ratatouille in quart size freezer bags and when you serve it in January, you will thank me! It will be a taste of summer in cold January.

Saute for 10-15 min over medium heat:

1 medium zucchini, cut into 1" cubes
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1" cubes
1 large green pepper, cut into 1" cubes
1 large onion, cut into 1" cubes
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 T Olive oil

Add and continue cooking over medium heat for 25-30 minutes or until the eggplant can be easily pierced but is not soft:

1/2 c fresh, chopped basil
1 qt canned tomatoes
cayenne to taste (we like a bit of heat in this dish)

Just before serving, add 1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese. You won't wonder again what the word "ratatouille" means because you'll know it is delicious.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Can you bake a Cherry Pie?

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

One of the positives of this cool summer we're having is that tart cherries are still in season. Typically, they last only about 2 weeks. Fresh tart cherries have a very short shelf life, maybe 48 hours, which is why you never see tart cherries in the grocery stores.

I brought back tart cherries from Southern Michigan in mid July and was stunned to find them at the farmer's market on Friday. Never have we had four weeks of fresh tart cherry pies.

So here's the deal on a fresh cherry pie. In my mind, the only fresh one is one made from fresh cherries that I have pitted myself. I even have a cherry pitter that I use for these few special weeks of the year. And so for these few weeks each summer, we have fresh cherry pies.

The rest of the year, a cherry pie even if made from scratch just isn't a fresh one because the cherries aren't fresh. We are lucky to get flash frozen cherries and the pies from those are maybe 90% of a fresh one. Never have I used canned cherries or for that matter, any kind of canned pie filling. I don't have to when we have the wonderful frozen ones in our grocery stores.

For this pie, use the double crest recipe listed on the blog, Mom's recipe, so on the right side of this page scroll down to pies for the recipe.

Pit 6 c of fresh cherries
Mix with 1/4 tapioca
1 c sugar
1/2 t almond extract

Let the fruit mix stand for at least 20 min. New for me this summer in crust making is to chill the crust for at least 1 hr before I roll it out. Then I roll out the bottom crust and stick it in the freezer for 10 min. Into the bottom crust, I pour the cherry mix, top with the remaining crust, make several slits in the pie crust, brush with egg white and sprinkle with sugar. I cover the edges of the pie with a crust cover (or aluminum foil) and bake at 425 degrees F for 10 minutes and 50 minutes at 360 degrees F.

I also put a baking sheet covered in a Silpat sheet under the pie to catch the juices!

When the tart cherries are no longer in season, it's a sad day in our house. But then in just a few weeks, it's fresh cherry pie season!

Cucumber Sandwiches

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner
Anyone who says that they don't like cucumber sandwiches, probably has never had one. Years ago, I had a cucumber sandwich in mid summer at a restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin and it was an eye opening experience: cucumbers indeed are great in sandwiches. Up until that point, I had only read about them. This was not something we grew up on in Indiana but we probably should have! Easy and delicious.
This time of year with the garden in full swing, I come home for lunch, pick a cuke and cut some fresh dill and bring them inside for this sandwich.
Slice a cucumber into very thin slices. Mix 1/2 c cream cheese with salt, pepper, garlic powder and fresh snipped dill.
I like to use a very thick, hearty bread. Spread the cream cheese mix on the bread so that the layer is at least 1/4" thick (or more!), top with a stack of fresh cukes.
I have occasionally made an appetizer using slices of a baguette topped with the cheese, a single cuke slice and garnished with fresh dill. The sandwich I had in Wisconsin included a thick layer of bean sprouts. Sometimes I use the sprouts and either way is great.
Cucumbers aren't just for salads anymore!

Cucumbers and Onions in Rice Vinegar

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

So we're into cucumbers right now since the garden in filled with them. We alternate every few days between this salad and the version with sour cream posted below.

This one is a bit of a twist on the cukes and onions Grandma Washburn served. She blended cider vinegar with an equal amount of water (along with a handful of ice cubes) and a bit of sugar. I do love her recipe but also like this kicked up one.

Sliced cukes, usually 2 medium sized
Sliced onions divided into onion rings, about 3/4 c
1 c seasoned rice vinegar (or whatever rice vinegar you have)
1 t fresh dill
and occasionally for a another twist on this version, I'll add 1 t of minced ginger

Place the veggies in a bowl and add seasonings and vinegar. Stir to coat. The liquid will only cover about 1/2 of the veggies. Refrigerate stirring every 15 minutes, for one hour.


Cucumbers and Onions in Sour Cream Dressing

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

We grew up on cucumbers and onions in two versions--in vinegar and water or in sour cream. We love both especially this time of year when I can walk outside and harvest cucumbers and onions from the garden. The sour cream version that I make will be your new favorite for a potluck dinner. This dish is always devoured.

3/4 c sour cream
1 1/2 T lemon juice
2 med cucumbers sliced thin
3/4 c sliced onions
salt, pepper and minced fresh dill to taste

In the bottom of a serving bowl, sprinkle salt, pepper, and dill. Top with a layer of cucumbers and onions. Layer again with salt, pepper and dill and cukes and onions until you have 3 layers of veggies and seasonings ending with a layer of onions.

Evenly spread the sour cream on top of the mixture. Cover with plastic wrap placing the plastic wrap directly on the sour cream. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Before serving, stir in lemon juice. This salad will last several days--if there is any left to save!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Potato & Green Bean Salad

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

This is one of my favorite summer dishes, a simple blend of summer's best vegetables. I made this yesterday but I started by going to the garden and digging potatoes, picking the tiny French green beans that I grow, pulling an onion and cutting some dill and chives. Ok, so I can't do this most of the year but right now, it's a delight.

Basically, this salad is a blend of potatoes, green beans, an onion, herbs such as dill, chives, and tossed in a simple, light dijon mustard, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar dressing. In the spring, I will use pea pods or asparagus instead of beans. This can be served warm, at room temperature or chilled. My favorite is room temperature. Take this to a potluck dinner and it will disappear!

Toss together:
2 c cut potatoes, simmered until almost tender
2 c green beans, steamed
1/2 onion, chopped
3 T olive oil
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 t dijon mustard
2 T chopped chives
1 T fresh chopped dill
salt & pepper to date

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Blueberry Clafouti

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

Yes, clafouti which is pronounced cla foo' tee. Translation: yum! I first discovered clatoutis about 10 years ago and the first one I made was with fresh peaches. A clafouti is a custard like dessert dish with just enough flour added to give it different texture than custard.

You can use any kind of fruit with a clafouti but we have fresh blueberries right now so I used them in this dessert last night. We love any kind of clafoutis. They are meant to be served right out of the oven as the mixture rises a bit. But once it cools and falls a bit, stick it in the fridge for a completely different version the next day as a cold dessert.

The hot version is somewhat light while the cold version is thicker, more custard like. I don't have a preference; I love them both. And a clafouti is not just for dessert. They can be for breakfast which is how I had it today--fruit, milk, eggs--breakfast!

The total hands-on time for a clafouti is about 10 minutes, less if an easy to use fruit like blueberries are used, a bit more if you have to peel and slice peaches, or pit fresh tart cherries (which are in season right now in Michigan!).

Blueberry Clafouti
3 cups blueberries--enough to create a single layer of fruit on the bottom of a greased 9" baking pan
4 eggs
3/4 c sugar
1 c milk
1 1/2 t vanilla
1 t grated lemon peel (I used the dried version from Penzey's)
3/4 flour
powdered sugar for dusting

Beat the eggs until well blended then add the sugar and beat until light and frothy. Mix in milk, vanilla, and lemon peel. Then add flour and beat until smooth.

Place the fruit in a greased 9" pan. Pour the batter over the fruit. Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes until the top is browned and the dessert begins to pull away from the edge of the pan. Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Beet Risotto

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

The farmer's markets are the place to find small beets with the attached beet greens this time of year--although I went out to my garden to harvest them. Small beets, those around 2" in diameter, are incredibly tender and sweet. This risotto dish turns a brilliant red color and is stunning on the plate. We had it tonight with fresh lake trout (the fish just appeared in our backyard--in a cooler--this week) and it was a tremendous meal.

Roast at 350 degrees F for 30-40 min. in aluminum foil:

8 2-inch beets (or whatever size you have!), with 1" of stem attached, saving remaining greens, beets unpeeled
4 cloves of garlic
3 sprigs of thyme

Once the beets are out of the oven, cool, peel, and dice. Toss in a bowl with the roasted garlic (squeeze the soften garlic cloves out of the peel into the beets).

2 T olive oil
3 green onions, sliced
1 c arborio rice
3 c chicken stock

In olive oil, saute green onions. Add arborio rice, saute quickly until golden brown. In 1/2 c increments, add chicken stock, stirring, cooking over medium heat, for about 25 min until the rice is softened.

Beet greens, wash, cut into 1 x 3" strips
1 T olive oil
1/4 grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 t balsamic vinegar

Saute beet greens in olive oil, stirring constantly, until the greens are wilted.

To the cooked rice, now called risotto, add the diced beets, sauteed greens, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar and grated parmesan cheese. Cover and let rest for 2-3 minutes to let cheese melt.

Serve this dish and I guarantee you that people who think they don't love beets will devour it!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Mango Salad

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

We went to a potluck dinner last night and on my kitchen counter were the last of a large quantity of mangoes sent to me by David for my birthday. So guess what I used in my potluck dish? Mangoes! My mango salad was a huge hit and not the normal northern Michigan salad--but then who has lots of mangoes in northern Michigan? I do!

I created this based on what I had in the kitchen so here's how it went together:

3 large mangoes, peeled, diced
3 medium sized green onions, chopped--pulled from my garden, one green, one yellow, one red
3 T fresh cilantro, chopped
1 hot pepper, your choice, I used jalapeno, diced
1 small green pepper, diced
1 small red pepper, diced
3 T olive oil
1 1/2 T lime juice
salt and pepper

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Stir Fried Bok Choy

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

I have bok choy and green onions in the garden right now so I put them together into a tasty dish. Ginger is something I usually have in my refrigerator. I love the combination of the smell and slight heat as well as the almost sweet taste it adds to foods.

8 cups chopped bok choy
4 green onions, minced, greens included
1 T ginger, minced
2 T olive oil

I used about 8 cups of bok choy and since it is really new, fresh bok choy, I have mostly the leafy parts and not much of the stalks. I trimmed the huge leaves into strips about 1" wide and 6-8" long and chopped the stalks separately.

Saute the ginger in the olive oil for about a minute. Add to it the stalks and green onions and quickly stir for another minute and then add the greens. Stir fry until all the greens begin to soften, 3-4 minutes.

Then add:
2T soy sauce
1 1/2 t sugar
salt, pepper, and a dash of cayenne pepper

Stir another minute and then add 3-4 T of water, cover, and cook for another 2-3 minutes until all the liquid is cooked off. Add 1 1/2 t of sesame oil and toss before serving.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Pea Pods and Fresh Corn

By Perry Washburn

I created this specifically for the Des Moines Register's new EAT! publication. Now is the time of year you can get fresh, high quality pea pods and fresh corn.

2 cups fresh corn, cut off the ears
2 Tbs butter
1 Tbs olive oil
2 cups pea pods, trimmed and cut on an angle (for fun and presentation)
1/2 cup red bell pepper cut in 1-inch strips
2 Tbs fresh chives, chopped
2 Tbs sliced almonds (much preferred over slivered)
2 Tbs green onions, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet or wok melt the butter and add the oil. Over medium high heat, brown the corn in the butter and oil, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add the pea pods, bell pepper and chives. Fry, turning frequently, for 2-3 minutes more, until pea pods are bright green. Add salt and pepper. Remove to platter and sprinkle with green onions and then almonds. Serves 6.

Photo in my kitchen by Vickie Ashwill for Eat!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

It's strawberry season in Northern Michigan and one of my favorite, and simple, desserts is fresh strawberries on top of ricotta cream. Ricotta cream is 2 c ricotta blended with 3/4 c powdered sugar and 1 t vanilla. It is oh, so tasty. And even better with homemade ricotta which is what I did today. It's so easy, so good and much less expensive than purchased ricotta.

To begin, put a large saucepan in the freezer for about 5 min. Chilling the pan keeps the milk from scalding. To the chilled pan, add 1 gallon milk and 1/4 t salt. Stir occasionally to keep from sticking and simmer until the milk reaches 180-185 degrees F or until steam rises from the milk and it just begins to bubble.

Remove the pan from the stove and add 1/3 c of white vinegar and stir for one minute. Immediately, curds will begin to form. If you've never seen curds and whey, you will as soon as you add the vinegar!

Cover the pan with a dish towel (this lets it air while keeping it covered) and let it sit for at least 2 hours.

Line a colander with dampened cheesecloth and using a slotted spoon, remove the curds from the pan into the colander. Let this drain (I just put the colander in the sink) for another 2 hours.

Gently squeeze the remaining whey out of the mixture by gathering the cheesecloth together. That's it!

One gallon milk, which today costs about $3, will make a quart of ricotta cheese. In my grocery store, 16 oz of ricotta is about $5 so with this recipe, you will make the about $10 worth with only about $3 in cost. Total time of actual effort is about 10 minutes. And worth it!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Grilled Kielbasa, Green Peppers & Onions--A Mixed Grill

By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

I love this simple 'supper' dish (my Indiana is showing)! When our Serbian 'son' lived with us, he loved this dish and once we visited Serbia, we realized why: it is very similar to mixed grill dishes in Serbia.

Kielbasa is a favorite of mine for this recipe although I can use other sausages with this like Smoked Polish Sausage. I use a grill basket on the grill during grilling season and a cast iron skillet on the cook top during the cold weather months.

For 2 of us, we use:
1 lb kielbasa cut into 2" chunks
1 large green pepper cut into 2" chunks
1 med sweet onion cut into 2" chunks

Toss with 3 T olive oil, salt and pepper and a splash of cayenne and grill, stirring frequently, until the sausage is brown and the veggies soft, about 15 minutes.

One variation: add a handful or two of cubed (large cubes) of potatoes but put the potatoes on first for about 5 min (making sure they are coated with olive oil so they don't stick) and then add the remaining ingredients.

Serve with a hot mustard and you've got dinner!

Sunday, June 21, 2009


By Kathryn Washburn Breighner

Fresh strawberries are in season in Michigan and for today's Father's Day dessert, I made scones and topped with the strawberries that had been mixed with a bit of sugar, slightly crushed to bring out the juices and chilled.

These scones are simple and one of my favorites for topping with fresh fruit as well as cooked fruit like sauteed apples. I've been making these scones for more than 30 years and every time I bake them, I'm reminded of how easy a recipe it is to bake and how flavorful the scones are.

Preheat over to 425 degrees F.

2 c flour
1 T sugar
3 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 T grated orange peel
1/3 c butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
1 egg beaten
1/2 c milk

Mix dry ingredients including orange peel. If you don't have orange peel, leave it out. It's not critical but adds a nice flavor. I used Penzey's dried peel that I soak in a bit of milk.

Cut in the butter with a fork or pastry blender until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the beaten egg and milk and blend until the mixture just pulls together. If it is still dry, add 1 T of milk at a time until it just comes together.

Flour a cutting or pastry board. Turn the dough onto the board and knead--pull the top of the dough over the to bottom of the dough and press with the heel of your hand--8-10 times until the dough is somewhat smooth.

Roll out using a rolling pin to 1/2" thickness. Don't overwork this dough. Roll out quickly. Cut into rounds: I use a 1/2 pint canning jar dipped in flour. Place on a greased cookie sheet(I use a silpat baking sheet on top of my cookie sheet). Brush with milk and top with sugar.

Bake 12-15 minutes until golden brown.

To serve with strawberries, either slice in half or break into small pieces and then top with the fruit and fruit juices.

Store the remaining scones in an air tight container. Great with fresh strawberry jam! This makes 12 scones.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Wild Ramps

by Kathryn Washburn Breighner

When I commented to Perry that we had done a version of one of his pizzas with wild ramps, he had to look up ramps to find out what I was using. Wild ramps are like a wild leek only smaller, with flatter leaves, and with a garlic taste. They are rampant in the woods--rampant ramps that would be--and with our long, cool, spring (freeze warning tonight and it's almost June), the ramps are just waiting for the picking. Ramps can be found as far south as Mississippi and as far west as Iowa.

Marty came back from the woods with a bag full of morels and a bag of ramps. Not a bad hike! Like an onion, ramps can be pulled from the soil. Last weekend, he brought home about 10 pounds of them. They are not the easiest to clean. When done, we had a huge stack of them and decided to pickle them. After a few hours of work, we had 18 gorgeous jars of pickled ramps on the counter.

This was the earliest canning adventure we've done. We are avid canners and in late summer and fall, we process hundreds of jars of various vegetable products.

I did two versions: one spicy and one dilly. These are the perfect cocktail accompaniment. We have been using the fresh ramps in risotto, sauteed with asparagus, on pizza, and in an amazing cheese grits dish with the morels.

For both canned versions, the ramps should be blanched for 30 seconds and then dropped ice water.

Dilled Wild Ramps

This makes 7 pints. Bring to a simmer:
5 c vinegar
5 c water
1/2 c salt

In the bottom of a pint canning jar, add:
1/4 t cayenne
1/4 t dill weed
1 clove garlic

Fill the jar tightly with the ramps, top with the liquid leaving 1/2" at the top of the jar. Process in a hot water bath for 15 min.

Spicy Pickled Ramps

This makes 9 pints. Bring to a simmer:
4 c white vinegar
4 c sugar
4 c water
3 T salt

To each pint jar, add:
1/2 t mustard seeds
1/2 t coriander seeds
1 t fennel seeds
1 t peppercorns

Pack the jars tightly with ramps. Top with the liquid leaving 1/2" of space at the top, process in a water bath for 15 min.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Pizza Night with Perry

By Perry Washburn

My pizza books have arrived!

Pizza Night with Perry....24 recipes and 22 cooking class secrets in one little book

From the promo material:

"This amazing little pizza book is full of recipes and tips that will surprise and amaze your Pizza Night guests. Unique taste combinations include: Blueberry Portobello, Apple Prosciutto, Green Bean and Goat Cheese, Salmon Mango Rosemary and Perry's signature Maque Choux with Fresh Corn and Andouille Sausage. Born from creating countless Pizza Nights and teaching dozens of cooking classes, Perry brings you savory doughs, tangy and unusual sauces and unexpected toppings. This little book is a gem!"

Price $20 each. If you are out of town, I will ship them for free. If you are near me, I will give you $5 off your next cooking class.

Contact me: foodisfun@mchsi.com, or perry@perrywashburn.com.

You can send me a check (940 Brentwood Circle, Waukee, IA, 50263), or pay through PayPal: