Sharing our love of baking, cooking and edible gardening

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Chard patties with garlic-pesto-yogurt sauce

Chard Patties with Garlic-Pesto Yogurt Sauce 
(vegetable patties lightly adapted from Ottolenghi's Plenty, Chronicle Books, 2011)

It's been too hot to cook anything complicated and a trip to the local Farmer's market today yielded some beautiful yellow-stalked chard today.  I also happened to make some peach ice cream and so we decided that meat was out.  Fred checked out some Ottolenghi recipes because chard is often used in Middle Eastern and Syrian dishes. He found this one and we organized a really delicious dairy dinner in under and hour. 

I do want to give a shout out to the farmers markets that dot the northeastern states at this time of year, they are an inspiration to gardener's, cooks and environmentalists. 

Ottolenghi suggests this dish as an appetizer, we added a portion of pasta and served it as a light dinner. 

cutting board, knives
2 large pots for boiling the chard and pasta 
large bowl for mixing the vegetable cake ingredients 
frying pan to toast pine nuts and saute the vegetable cakes 
mixing spoons
measuring spoons 

Ingredients for the Chard patties:
1 1/4 lb chard (a bit more won't hurt the recipe)
1/3 c pine nuts
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
4 oz salty brined cheese (feta, kashkaval, bulgarian are a few examples)
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt (scant! the cheese is salty)
black pepper (to taste)
6 Tbsp unflavored bread crumbs 
oil for frying 

Ingredients for the garlic-pesto yogurt sauce:
1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used 1% Chobani Greek yogurt)
2-3 cloves garlic , minced very finely
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard 
3-4 Tbsp finely minced parsley
2 Tbsp pesto (I used homemade, but I'm sure commercial would be fine)

Ingredients for pasta and sauce:
Any shape pasta, make enough for 2-3 people (we used farfalle)
1/4 c pesto
1/4 c garlic-pesto yogurt sauce 

  • We were working together, Fred making the chard and me making the pasta. If you are working alone, start with the yogurt sauce, it will need to stand to allow the flavors to meld (about 30 minutes).
  • Prepare the pasta, drain and allow to cool (mix in a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking if necessary).
  • Make the garlic pesto yogurt sauce while the pasta is cooking.
  • Mix the drained pasta with the pesto- yogurt sauce and let stand at room temperature while you prepare the chard patties.
  • Prepare the chard patties
  • Serve the warm patties with chilled sauce and room-temperature pasta

1. To make the sauce: combine yogurt, minced garlic, minced parsley, mustard and pesto. Remove 1/4 cup to a small bowl, cover the remaining sauce and chill. This will allow the flavors to meld. WARNING: the raw garlic will be sharp, if you are not a garlic lover, cut back on the amount of garlic (but do not use powdered garlic, it won't give you the same taste).

2. Cook the pasta. While the pasta is cooking, mix the reserved 1/4c yogurt sauce with pesto. I happen to have home made pesto (lots of basil growing in my garden), but you can certainly use prepared pesto.  

3. Drain the pasta, add the pesto-yogurt sauce , cover and let stand at room temperature while you prepare the chard patties. 

4. Bring a large pot of slightly salted water (about 2 quarts) to a boil while preparing the chard.   

5. Separate the stalks from the leaves. roughly chop the stalks and then roughly cut the leaves. Add the stalks to the boiling water, simmer for 3-4 minutes and add the leaves, simmering for an additional 3-4 minutes. Drain and press as much water as you can out of the chard. 

6. Allow chard to cool while you toast the pine nuts in the hot frying pan with a bit of oil. Be careful not to burn the nuts. Cool. 

7. Measure off the 4 oz of cheese and either mash or dice. Set aside. 

8. Roughly chop the chard into smaller pieces, slide the chopped vegetables into a bowl, add the nuts and oil, cheese, egg, and breadcrumbs. Mix well.  S&P to taste. Fred found the mix sticky, but decided not to add more breadcrumbs until he tried making one patty. Ottolenghi recommends adding a bit more breadcrumbs if it's too sticky. 

9. The mixture will make approximately 8 patties (2 in rounds, about 3/4 of an inch thick). Fry in a small amount of hot oil , 3 minutes on each side. Drain on a paper towel.  The cheese pieces will become golden and the pine nuts that touch the oil will darken. 

10. Serve warm with the garlic-pesto-yogurt sauce and prepared pasta on the side. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Pastrami Hash Blintzes (Breakfast for Dinner!)

All the components of a great breakfast for dinner:
hash and pancakes!

Blintzes: cheese, potato, or fruit filled are great at any time of the day. These blintzes have a meat, potato and onion filling - making them a great option for...any time of the day!  Think corned beef hash, eggs, and pancakes!

Blintzes (the stuffed crepe-like pancake) are the Eastern European Jewish version of the flat, crepe-like stuffed pancake commonly found throughout Eastern and Central Europe. The un-stuffed pancake itself has a specific Yiddish word: bletlach, which are unleavened wheat-based thin pancakes. And although it's interesting to think of a food as particularly "Jewish," blintzes are are related to blini (Russian), palacinka (Slovakian, Czech, Ukrainian), palacsinta (Hungarian), and  naleĊ›nik (Polish). 

Most people are familiar with the frozen blintzes that have a higher ratio of bletlach to filling. They can be fried, baked, covered with a milk-egg mixture to create a "souffle" or served at brunch in a chafing dish. They are rarely fabulous, but are a common comfort food. During Shavuot, when the custom is to eat dairy-based foods, cheese blintzes are standard fare. 

These blintzes however are a break with tradition. Take a traditional bletlach and fill it with a deli-meat hash. Serve it with a salad on the side and it's a fun meat entree. Make them smaller and serve as an appetizer or starter for Shabbat dinner. I've made the blintzes with both corned beef and turkey pastrami; other choices I'd bet on could vary from beef pastrami to smoked turkey. The filled blintzes were sauteed in very little oil and served at room temperature. 

This dish can be made in about an hour. Make the hash first. This allows the filling to cool while you make the bletlach. Saute in a small amount of oil and serve hot or at room temperature. The blintzes can be stored in a sealed container (either in a single layer or with a piece of waxed or parchment paper separating two layers) for 2-3 days. They can be frozen, but the quality of the blintzes do suffer.

Cutting board, sharp knife
Vegetable peeler
Saucepan, non-stick frying pan
Kitchen scale

Ingredients (for the hash):
There is "wiggle room" to this recipe, all ingredients are approximate. You can adjust the proportion of meat to onions.
1 lb peeled potatoes (suitable for boiling)
3/4 lb cubed deli meat (corned beef, pastrami, smoked turkey, salami, etc)
1/2 lb diced onion

1. Boil the potatoes until just fork tender (approximately 15-20 minutes). Drain and roughly mash with a fork.
2. At the same time the potatoes are boiling, saute diced onion until some pieces begin to brown. Add the diced meat, stir and cook through.
3. Mix the onion/meat mixture and mashed potatoes. Correct seasoning with pepper (there is enough salt in the meat). Cool.

Ingredients (for the bletlach):
The batter should be thinner than regular pancake batter. Add a small amount of water if you find it too thick.
6 eggs (large or extra large are fine)
pinch salt
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/4 c water (more if needed)

1. Beat the eggs and salt. Add the water and mix.
2. Pour the flour into a bowl, make a well and add the liquid. Mix with a wire whisk, breaking up any lumps.
3. Heat a small non-stick frying pan. You can spray the pan with oil spray if you like.
4. Ladle a small amount of batter into the pan while simultaneously turning the pan to distribute the batter. It may take one or two tries to master the technique. You want to create a thin round pancake.(see the technique video from Food and Wine )
5. Cook over medium heat for several minutes. The top of the pancake should be dry. Flip the pancake for 10-20 seconds (you want both sides to be cooked and dry, but not crisp. Slide the cooked bletlach onto a plate.

You should have approximately 8-10 bletlach.

Procedure for stuffing the bletlach:
1. Take on bletlach and gently place on a flat surface.
2. Take 2-3 Tbsp of the stuffing and place close to the edge of the pancake.

3. Begin to roll the bletlach around the filling, fold in the sides and continue to roll.

 Easy, right? Yep! 

4. Saute the blintzes, turning as they brown in the pan. Drain (if needed) on paper towels. Serve warm or at room temperature. Condiment ideas include mustard, Russian dressing, cranberry horseradish, sauerkraut or any other creative idea you come up with!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Strawberry Citrus Trifle

Trifle is an old fashioned dessert hailing from the British Isles. Trifles and related rich desserts making use of stale cakes go back to the 1700's. Fools, Spanish Bizcocho Borracho  and Italian Zuppa Ingles are all related to the same culinary tradition.

A beautiful and showy dessert that can be used as a table centerpiece, Trifle is made with sponge (or pound) cake, fruit, custard and whipped cream.  The components are usually layered in a large serving bowl, but you can also create "mini" trifles in small canning jars or individual dessert bowls. The great thing about trifle is that it serves a crowd and making sure that you add the whipped cream just before serving its fine to assemble the day before, cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.

Trifle is not an overwhelming project - you can simplify the components by using ready-made items (packaged cake, instant pudding, frozen berries, canned whipped cream) or you can bake a cake, whip the cream, cook the custard. The resulting dessert will be beautiful and delicious whether you go for shortcuts or not.

This trifle is made with a citrus-sour cream pound cake (adapted from Norwegian Sour Cream Cake on the King Arthur Flour website), pureed fresh strawberries (jazzed up with a bit of brandy and a small amount of confectioners' sugar), lemon custard (I used a packaged pudding mix) and whipped cream.  Although the cake is dairy, a non-dairy version can easily be created (it's harder to find a packaged non-dairy pound cake). I've included directions for converting the dairy cake to a very tasty pareve version.  Packaged lemon custard or lemon curd is often pareve. Non-dairy whipped toppings are available (although they generally have more chemicals than I'm comfortable with).

These steps can be completed a day or two prior trifle assembly:
*Bake (or buy) the pound cake. If you are baking a cake you can do so a day or two before you plan to assemble the trifle- or you can do as did this time, bake and freeze the cake until you plan to assemble the trifle. At the time you assemble the trifle, cut the cake into small, bite size squares.
*Puree the fruit (I used strawberries, soft stone fruit or berries will work as well....try peaches or nectarines). The puree can be made a day or two before you plan to assemble the trifle.
*Make the custard or lemon curd  (use a "lemon meringue" pie mix or make it from scratch. Cool the mixture.

These steps should be completed at the time you plan to assemble the dessert:
*Slice additional fruit for decorating the top of the trifle.
* Whip cream (or use ready made whipped cream).
*Assemble the trifle. Chill until you are ready to serve.

For the cake: 
2 medium loaf pans or bundt cake pan
measuring cups, spoons
electric mixer (or a sturdy wooden spoon if you are mixing by hand)

For the puree:
A food processor or blender

For the lemon pudding (or curd):
large saucepan (a heavy bottomed saucepan works better)
mixing spoon
measuring cups and spoons

For preparation of the whole fruit:
knife and flat surface

For the whipped cream (if you are making it from scratch) :
Mixer or portable beaters and a large bowl
Measuring spoons and cup


Cake ingredients:
This cake is adapted from Norwegian Sour Cream Cake on the King Arthur Flour website. The cake is made with dairy products, but I've included non-dairy (pareve) substitutions.

8oz unsalted butter (or pareve margarine or coconut oil)
14 oz granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp Fiori di Sicilia flavoring (optional, but it really adds a wonderful citrus tone to the cake)
12 oz sour cream (or yogurt, or pareve sour cream substitute combined with 1/2 tsp vinegar)
    Note: you can use full fat or low fat sour cream or yogurt. Yogurt is a bit thinner than sour cream
    so you may find that you'll need to add another tablespoon or two of flour in addition to the
    amount called for in the recipe.
17 oz all purpose flour

1. Preheat the oven. I used 2 glass loaf pans and preheated the oven to 350 degrees.  The original directions suggest a full size tube or bundt pan. Grease two loaf pans with spray oil and shake a tablespoon or two of unflavored breadcrumbs (or a small amount of flour) around the inside of the pan.

2. Cream the butter and sugar until smooth and creamy.
3. Add the eggs, one at a time. I break the yolks before adding them into a batter or dough, I find it makes it easier to blend the egg into the mixture. Add the flavoring and salt. Mix.
4. Combine the flour and baking powder. I use an old fashioned metal strainer that I've used for many years.  This step add a minute or two to the process, but you'll never have the bitter taste of baking powder (or soda) that didn't mix into the flour correctly.  You can also use a sifter for this purpose.

5. Add the sour cream (in two additions) and flour mixture (in three additions) alternately to the sugar-egg mixture. Mix until the entire batter is hydrated and mixed. Do not over-mix, the resulting batter will be thick.
6. Add half the batter to each pan, smooth with a silicone spatula and/or your fingers.
7. Bake for 35-45 minutes (check after 35 minutes). The finished cake will be a light golden color.

8. Cool the cakes and remove from the pan.  The cooled cakes can be loosely wrapped and used within a day or two - or you can wrap and freeze to use at a later time.

9. This cake has a wonderful and robust citrus flavor. Use one for the trifle and save the second and serve at another time by itself or with ice cream!

Fruit Puree:
1 lb ripe, hulled and cleaned strawberries
2 Tbsp brandy (optional)
1/4-1/3 confectioners' sugar (sweeten to personal preference)

1. Place the fruit, brandy and sugar in the bowl of the food processor.
2. Pulse the fruit until smooth (don't liquify).
3. Pour into a container. If you are making the fruit puree more than a day or two in advance, cover and freeze. Defrost several hours prior to dessert assembly.

Lemon pudding (lemon curd) :
I used a packaged mix, but if you want to make it from scratch, easy versions can be found at:
David Lebovitz's link or at the King Arthur blog .

The pudding/curd can be made a day ahead.

Sliced Fruit:
Slice 1 lb of hulled cleaned strawberries (or other berries or fruit if you choose). The fruit should be prepared when you are ready to assemble the trifle. Leave a few larger pieces to decorate the top of the trifle.

Whipped Cream: 
1 large can whipped cream or 2 cups sweetened home made whipped cream.
An easy recipe with directions for making whipped cream from scratch can be found at the Land o' Lakes website .  The proportion is 1 c whipping or extra heavy cream, 1/4 c sugar and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract.  You can use 1 tsp vanilla sugar instead of the extract.

Home made whipped cream can be prepared, covered and stored in the refrigerator a day or two before assembly.  Canned whipped cream is squirted directly over the assembled dessert just before serving.

To Assemble the Trifle: 

Building the trifle takes about 30 minutes.
1. Slice and dice one of the pound cakes. Set aside.

2. Have the prepared lemon pudding (lemon curd), pureed fruit (defrosted if you have prepared it previously) , sliced fruit and whipped cream ready.

3. Use half of each the ingredients to create the first layer: cubed cake, pudding, fruit puree and sliced fruit. Repeat to make a second complete layer. Top with whipped cream and decorate with the larger pieces of fruit you set aside. Serve in small portions using a large serving spoon - the trifle is rich and will serve a crowd.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Savory Cornbread on the BBQ

This Savory Cornbread is made in a cast iron pan on a gas grill. 
The recipe is adapted from 
Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins Hot & Sassy Cornbread in The New Basics Cookbook 

It's bbq season and in our house that means cook whatever you can on the grill and keep the kitchen as cool as possible. This recipe can be made in a baking pan in the oven, but it's much more fun to make it directly on the grill. Serve it directly from the pan or slide it onto a serving platter. 

This is a quick bread, mixed in one bowl, blended by hand with a large spoon and baked (or in this case roasted) in a cast iron pan. The batter can be cooked in 2 smaller cast iron pans or a 12-14 inch pan. 
The seasoned pan must be pre-heated on a gas grill, a small amount of oil added to the pan and the batter poured into the heated pan. The entire process, from start to finish will take about 45 minutes. 

Large mixing bowl and mixing spoon
Measuring cups and spoon
Well seasoned cast iron pan* (s) - you can use 2 cornbread pans (wells for forming individual portions), 2 eight inch pans or one large (12-14 inch) pan 
      *if you plan to bake the cornbread in a traditional oven, you can use the cast iron pans or
        a 9x13 baking pan 

1 cup stone ground corn meal (white or yellow)
1 cup white whole wheat flour 
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp kosher salt 
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp chili powder (or a bit more if like things spicier)
2 Tablespoons brown sugar 
1/2 cup soy milk 
1/2 cup plain non-dairy yogurt (soy or coconut) or non-dairy "sour cream" 
1/2 tsp vinegar 
2 large eggs 
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil 
10 oz frozen corn kernels 
3-4 Tablespoons diced sweet pepper (any color) 
Several thin sliced of pepper (optional) 
small amount of oil for greasing the pan 

1. Measure the dry ingredients into a bowl and stir to mix
2. Measure the eggs and liquid ingredients into a bowl. Before mixing the dry and liquid ingredients, place a dry cast iron pan on the grill, lower the cover and heat the grill to between 400-450 degrees.

3. Combine the dry and liquid ingredients. Stir well. Add the corn and diced green pepper 
2. Add 2-3 T oil to the hot pan and distribute the oil
evenly around the bottom of the pan 
3. Pour the batter into the pan, smooth out so that it forms a 
large pancake. If you want, press pepper rings decoratively around 
the batter. Close the grill top and bake for 15-20 minutes (check after 15 minutes, the top of the bread will be dry to the touch, but will not brown in the way it does in the oven. Remove the pan from the grill
      * If you are baking the cornbread in an oven, preheat the oven to 400 degrees, grease a baking pan          and bake the cornbread for approximately 25 minutes, until a cake tester (or tooth pick) comes            out dry 

Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 4-5 as a side dish. 
Serving suggestion: BBQ or Beer Can Chicken 
and for dessert try my