Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas To All

Copyright © 2005-2010, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Coconut Cranberry Frozen Yogurt

[12-31-10: See Cook's Notes below for another, more coconutty, version made on a whim over Christmas.]

My intention was to get this on the table (read blog) in plenty of time for Christmas.

I don't consider this to be plenty of time, but that's my rather disorganized life at the moment (year actually).

Just now I was about to say that maybe 2011 will find me a more organized cook and blogger, but who am I kidding?  I've always been this way and will offer no more excuses. Hmmm ...  I feel a New Year's resolution coming on:  No more excuses; Iyam who Iyam.

I do love to make frozen concoctions and this one is as easy as pie (why do they say that? Pie is not necessarily easy). Let's just say that this can be made up in no time at all and doesn't require much organization.

Except, you do have to remember to drain the yogurt before hand.

Make this full-fat, low-fat or non-, according to your own dictates.  If you prefer to leave out the cream, substitute a little more milk.  And because the recipe is not made with an ice cream custard base, you can use whatever sweetener you prefer and the texture will not be affected.  I prefer my ice creams and frozen yogurts to be less sweet than the commercial standard, but feel free to kick up the sugar if that floats your boat.

Coconut Cranberry Frozen Yogurt
Christine's orignial recipe
print recipe
2 cups plain yogurt, preferrably orgainc, drained
1 1/2 cups 2% milk
1/4 cup cream
1/3 cup sugar or 1/4 cup (scant) Splenda Sugar Blend, or 7-8 packets Splenda
2/3 cup unsweetened, finely shredded coconut, preferrably organic
1/2 tsp coconut flavoring (optional)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Drain the yogurt by placing it in a damp cheesecloth-lined colander over a bowl, set in the fridge for about 3 hours.  Use the drained liquid in another recipe or discard.  Use the drained yogurt in this recipe.
Combine the yogurt, milk, cream, sugar and extract and stir well.  Taste and adjust at will.
Stir in the shredded coconut.
Process in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturers instructions.  When the yogurt mixture is semi-frozen, add the cranberries into the machine while it is running to mix them into the yogurt.
When the yogurt has finished processing, it can be soft-served directly from the mixer or spooned into an aritight container and frozen for about 1 hour before serving.

Scoop this into your prettiest holiday dishes and enjoy.

Cook's Notes:
This is best served the same day.  If kept frozen, you will have to let it thaw for at least a half hour in order for it to be scoopable.

Editor's note on 12-31-10
Josh, Kelly and Jackson visited over the holidays and one night I made a different version of the recipe above using only coconut milk.  We liked it very much so here it is:
Using the measurements above, drain the yogurt for 24 hours so it's very thick.
To the yogurt add one can of whole or lite coconut milk, the sugar, shredded coconut and flavoring. Stir or whisk well to blend.
Process as above, adding the cranberries last.
Serve soft immediately after processing or pack in an air-tight container and freeze for up to 2 hours before serving.

Copyright © 2005-2010, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved

Monday, December 13, 2010

Lentils Braised in Red Wine with Seared Duck Breast

This dish looks suspiciously like my recent chili recipe but I assure you it's a beast of an entirely different pursuasion.  Here I've incorporated lovely and tiny, dark green lentils with a mirepoix and red wine, cooking it down, down, down until the flavors have melted together and are ready to receive tiny slices of seared duck breast.  I made enough for company but you could cut this recipe in half for a family of four.

Lentils in Red Wine with Seared Duck Breast
Christine's original recipe
3 medium carrots (about), peeled and cut into small dice
2-3 stalks celery, cut into small dice
1 small to medium red onion, peeled and cut into small dice
4 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon duck fat or olive oil
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups small green lentils
2 cups good red wine (I used a French Côtes du Rhone)
2 cups chicken stock
2-3 cups hot water
1 fresh or dried bay leaf
2 large sprigs fresh thyme
flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 boneless duck breasts
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Melt duck fat (or olive oil, if using instead) over medium-high heat in a heavy pot.
Add the carrots, celery and onions and sauté until beginning to soften, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the garlic for another minute or two.
Add the tomato paste and stir to incorporate.
Add the lentils, red wine, chicken stock, thyme sprigs, and bay leaf.
Stir and bring liquid to just under a boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the lentils absorb most of the liquid, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Check the lentils for doneness; they should be soft but not mushy.
If the liquid is gone before the lentils are cooked, add hot water in small amounts until the lentils are finished.
Remember to fish out the now de-leafed thyme sprigs and the bay leaf.
To Prepare the Duck:
Just before the lentils are done, heat a heavy skillet (cast iron is perfect for this) over hight heat.
Using a sharp knife, score the fat side of the duck breasts in a diamond pattern, taking care to not cut through to the meat.  Season the duck on both sides with a pinch of sea salt and some grindings of black pepper.
Put the duck breasts in the skillet, fat side down and allow them to sear, untouched, until some of the fat has rendered and the skin is beginning to turn golden brown. Reduce the heat, if necessary, to keep the duck from scorching and the fat from burning.
Using tongs, turn the duck breasts and sear for another 5 minutes.
Remove the duck breasts to a plate and tent with foil.
Add a small amount of red wine to the skillet and deglaze, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan and reducing the wine by two-thirds.
Pour all of this lovely goodness into the pot of lentils, which should be done by this time.
To serve:
Stir chopped parsley into the lentils then spoon them into warm bowls or plates.
Using a very sharp knife, slice the duck breasts crosswise into very thin strips and drape them over the lentils.
Open a bottle of the same red wine that was used in the cooking.


Copyright © 2005-2010, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's Crab Season!

The stacks of traps had been growing by height and breadth for several weeks in anticipation of opening day when right on time this year, with fairly calm if wet weather, crab season opened at 12:01 this morning.

All of we local crab lovers (some are crab fisherman lovers as well) wish our fleet safe sailing and a substantial catch.

Break out the champagne, pull out a recipe or two, and celebrate!

Copyright © 2005-2010, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Copyright © 2005-2010, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Flame-Charred Red Pepper Soup with Roasted All-Red Potatoes and Carrots

Dean the "Pepper Guy" at our local farmers market has had a wonderful selection of sweet, hot, hotter and hottest peppers this fall.  And while this summer our local farmers had a tough time due to the weather, peppers and tomatoes have been enjoying a late and extended season.
I love stopping at his stand and talking to him about the different flavors and heat his peppers will impart to food.  And while I'm not brave enough to sample the really hot, hot peppers, I have tried a few that are fairly spicy, flavorful (the best part), but not hot enough to slay my palate.

This soup was made using long, sweet Italian red peppers and one slightly spicy, long red NuMex variety pepper whose name escapes me and I will have to wait until Saturday to ask "Pepper Guy".  (I know: not enough research.)

No matter.  What does matter is that you seek out peppers you like and use them.  Please char and peel them first or you will have annoying, tough little pepper skins floating in your soup.  Little bits of softer charred skin are okay though; it shows what lengths you went to to please your people.

The potatoes (known as All-Red or Cranberry Red) and carrots round out the flavors and give the soup thickness and heartiness; just right for the season.

There is a bit of advanced preparation needed, but it can all be done quickly and pretty much at the same time.  The head of garlic, sprinkled with a bit of olive oil and a pinch of kosher salt, goes into the oven with the pan of potatoes and carrots while the peppers are charring on the top burners.  After you've finished all that, the rest is a snap. And please do use a full head of garlic. Roasting reduces it to a sublime, sweet, nutty richness which dramatically enhances the flavors of this soup.

Flame-Charred Red Pepper Soup with Roasted All-Red Potatoes and Carrots
Christine's original recipe
(print recipe here)
5 long (abt. 8-inches) sweet red Italian peppers, charred, skin and seeds removed
1 long red, mildly hot pepper (not too hot), charred, skin and seeds removed
1 head garlic, roasted (at least 10 cloves)
3 large carrots, peeled, cut into 1-inch dice
3 medium All-Red (also called Cranberry) potatoes, or other low-starch potato such as Yukon Gold, peeled, cut into 1-inch dice
1 large bay leaf, fresh or dried
4 - 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock, home made or low-sodium
small amount of olive oil for the garlic and the roasting pan
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup dry white wine (optional - I just like to cook with wine)

Peel the potatoes and carrots, dice them and put them in a small baking pan with a drizzle of olive oil to keep them from sticking to the pan. Cover the pan with foil and roast in a 350 oven for about 30 minutes. Remove the foil during the last 10 minutes of roasting so the vegetables can brown a bit. Remove from oven, loosen pieces from the pan with a spatula, set aside.

At the same time, remove the outer skin from the head of garlic and trim the roots but don't cut through to the cloves. Place the garlic head in a small lidded, oven-proof container, drizzle it with a tiny amount of olive oil and a pinch of kosher salt. Place in the oven with the lid on, alongside the pan of potatoes and carrots and roast until the cloves are very tender; this may take a little longer than the vegetables. Remove from the oven, remove the lid and allow to cool until you can easily handle them with your fingers. Pull the skins from the now-succulent garlic cloves and set aside.

While all this roasting is going on, place your peppers directly onto the burners of a gas stove on high heat. They will immediately begin to blister which will loosen the skin so you can remove it.  Using tongs, turn the peppers as they blister and char until the entire surface looks, well, blistered and charred.  Don't let them turn totally black - that's just too much charring.  The photo at left, while it is not a sweet Italian pepper, is a good example. As soon as they are done, pop them into a large paper bag, fold the top of the bag down, and let the peppers rest within for about 12 minutes.

Along about this time, place 4 cups of chicken stock in the large soup pot. Add the bay leaf and garlic cloves and bring the stock to a gentle simmer.  (If you want this soup to be vegetarian or vegan, you can substitute vegetable broth or water for the chicken stock. (See Cook's Notes).
Remove the peppers from their paper bag and, using a sharp paring knife, scrape the skin from each pepper. This is a messy job and will enwrap your fingers with charred pepper skins. You can rinse your fingers and knife under cool running water, but please don't run the peppers under the water as you will wash away their delicious flavor. I am of the school that a bit of pepper char is a good thing; its presence imparts character, of sorts.
Peeling done, slice the peppers from stem to stern (length-wise), open them up and remove all the seeds and the stem end.
Chop the peppers into about 1-inch square pieces and pop them into the stock.
Add the potatoes and carrots to the stock now, pour in a little white wine if desired, check for seasoning and add kosher salt and ground black pepper as desired.
Give the soup a stir and simmer for 45 minutes to one hour. Be gentle; don't allow the soup to boil.
Check and adjust seasonings again, turn off the heat and allow the soup to cool for about 15 minutes.
Using an immersion blender or your food processor, blend the soup until no chunks remain and the texture is coarsely smooth.  If the soup is too thick, now would be the time to incorporate more stock.
Heat the soup to serving temperature on a heat-spreader over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.
If you happen to be as lucky as Mr CC and I are, Simona's flax seed baguette goes delightfully well with this warming, hearty soup.


Cook's Notes:
When using vegetable stock or broth, be careful that the flavor won't overpower that of the peppers in the soup.  Some vegetable stocks use too much green pepper and celery and therefore will change forever what you are trying to achieve.  And what we are trying to achieve here is fresh, flavorful red pepper soup, right?

Ahem: One doesn't have to be too terribly observant to see that there is a sprig of thyme in the top soup photo but nary a mention of thyme in the post.  And that's because there is no thyme in this recipe.  The thyme sprig happened to be sitting on my kitchen counter because I was actually preparing two separate dishes on the same day; one, of course, using thyme.  What can I say?  I got mixed up.

Just what is a drizzle of olive oil?  For me, it's enough to barely coat the bottom of a pan in order to keep food from sticking.  I'd say it's about 1/2 teaspoon.  But I never measure so I can't be certain.

Copyright © 2005-2010, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Beef Chili With Beans - My Way

If chili has no Tex-Mex flavors, has a decidedly Mediterranean bent, is it still chili?

When I started out with some grass-fed, local ground beef, my intention was to make a traditional chili.  It's football season afterall and chili, cornbread, biscuits and beer are all over the culinary place.

The mirepoix was done and I was gathering the Tex-Mex spices from my pantry ... and paused ...  I'd just made a mirepoix ...  Before I knew it, the Francophile in me took over and the chili powder, dried oregano, chipotle pepper flakes, et cetera, all went back onto the pantry shelves.  I'd just made a mirepoix ...  

Of course right then I also changed the corn bread recipe I'd had going on in my head to a Euro-cheesy biscuit that would go with the now-more-Mediterranean-style chili or stew, or ragout, or whatever it was that was beginning to take shape.

It's delicious comfort for cool autumn nights, whether your team wins or not.  Remember to give some time to soaking and cooking the beans.  Like most chilis and stews, this recipe, while delicious the same day, will taste outstanding the next.  You will have to decide for yourselves if it can be called Chili ...

Christine's Beef Chili with Beans - Her Way
Print recipe
1 cup dried beans (I used a local cranberry bean)
1 bay leaf, dried or fresh
2 medium onions, peeled, chopped fine
3 medium carrots, peeled, diced (1/4-inch pieces)
3 ribs celery, diced (1/4-inch pieces)
6 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
2 Padrón peppers, seeded, minced
2 sweet Italian red peppers, seeded, diced (1/4-inch pieces)
2 lbs lean ground beef
Olive oil for the pan
2 cups tomato sauce (preferrably home made)
2 cups beef broth
A glug or two dry red wine
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon and allspice (adjust to your taste)
1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil leaves
Soak the beans for at least 4 hours in a large pot filled with water to cover the beans by 4-inches.
Drain beans then fill pot again with fresh water to cover the beans by 2-inches, add the bay leaf and bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat.
Reduce heat to low and simmer until beans are tender.  Drain beans, discarding the bay leaf, and set aside in a warm place.
Meanwhile, prepare your vegetables as stated in the ingredients list and have a large, heavy skillet and a large soup or stew pot at hand.
Heat the skillet over medium-high, add about a tablespoon of olive oil and the onions, carrots and celery and sauté until they have softened - 5-7 minutes.
Add the minced garlic and sauté for 2 minutes.
Stir in the Padróns and the sweet peppers, sauté 1 minute more then pour all of the vegetables into the soup pot and set the heat to medium.
Add a bit more olive oil to the same skillet over medium-high, then crumble in the ground beef.  Allow it to sear for about 5 minutes then stir it up and cook until no pink shows.  Pour the cooked beef into the soup pot then add about 1/4 cup red wine to the skillet, stirring to scrape up the browned bits and pour that into  the soup pot.
Now add the cooked beans to the pot along with the tomato sauce, beef stock, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and the cinnamon and allspice.
Allow all of this to simmer on the stove for 30 to 45 minutes.
Give it a stir, add more salt if needed, and add freshly ground black pepper if desired.
Sprinkle each serving with freshly chopped basil and place a cheese-y buttermilk biscuit along side.

Copyright © 2005-2010, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Buttermilk Biscuits with Jarlsberg Cheese


One look at food blogs and food magazines these days will tell you that it's chili season.

And what goes better with chili (with the possible exception of cornbread) than flavorful, cheese-laden biscuits?  And since the my-take-on-chili post isn't ready yet, Now it's ready! I'm giving you biscuits first.

These are light, slightly chewy, and perfect for autumn soups, stews and chili (post up next here).
Buttermilk gives them a tang, the Jarlsberg cheese gives them a golden hue (to go with autumn of course), and a heft that can hold up to hot liquid.  And they can be prepared in a snap.  I swear: 15 minutes to prepare, 15 minutes to bake, and they're ready to eat.

A plus for me is that they are gluten free.  Yep, made with my favorite gluten free flour, you'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference between these and wheat flour biscuits.  Of course, if you don't need your biscuits to be gluten free, just substitute an equal measurement of regular all-purpose flour for the gluten free kind and off you go.

Buttermilk Biscuits with Jarlsberg Cheese
Makes 12
1 1/2 cups gluten free flour, or regular all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon fine kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons cold butter, preferrably salt-free, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 cups grated Jarlsburg cheese
3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 400-degrees.
Whisk the dry ingredients togther then cut in the butter using two knives, or a pastry blender, or buzz in your food processor for a few seconds.
Put the flour-butter mixture in a large bowl, add the grated cheese and toss with your fingers until the cheese is well integrated with the flour.
Make a well in the center of the flour and add 3/4 cup of the buttermilk, using a fork and your fingers to incorporate the buttermilk into the flour.  Add more buttermilk if needed until it comes together as a dough.  Keep a light touch when doing this so your dough doesn't get overworked which can result in a tough biscuit.
Place the dough on a well-floured surface, pat into a disk and gently flatten with your hands (flour them if needed) until 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch thick.
Cutting the biscuits with a 2 1/2-inch diameter round cutter will yield 12 biscuits.
Place the biscuits on a baking sheet and bake in the oven 15 minutes.  Watch them carefully so they don't overbake.
When the biscuits are golden brown and give a little when pressed with your fingers, remove from the oven, cool slightly on a rack then serve with a steaming bowl of your favorite chili.

Copyright © 2005-2010, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Figs Poached in Port and Thyme Over Creamy Yogurt Cheese Plus a Fig Giveaway

(Update: August 30th 8:19 PM - With help from, a winner of the fig giveaway has been picked!
Drumroll . . . . . . . . .    Congratulations Lindsey!  And a big thank you to all of you for joining in the fun.)

Mr CC and I are eating figs these days. Fresh, juicy, oozing-figgy-syrup California figs. They are impossibly delicious.

Mostly we eat them out of hand; unadorned, as you see above.  Did you know that figs are filled with antioxidants, are free of fat, cholestrol and sodium and are an excellent source of fiber?  Yes they are.  Eat them with the skins on for optimum health benefits.

The figs you see here were sent to me by the California Fig Advisory Board, who want to give away a box of fresh California figs to a randomly selected person who leaves a comment on this post.  The lucky winner will receive beautiful fresh figs delivered direct to her/his door!

 The deadline for this giveaway is Monday, August 30th at 5:00 PM, so please leave your comment soon. And please be sure to leave a way for me to get in touch with you in case you are a winner. 

I don't have a lot of time to cook these days, so I came up with this very quick and easy fresh fig dessert.
The poached figs came together in about 45 minutes from cutting to chilling.  Allow more time for the yogurt cheese as it has to drain most of its liquid to be firm enough to stand up to the weight of the figs.  I started preparation for this dessert in the afternoon and it was ready to serve by 7 PM.

The photo for this recipe does not do the dessert justice, but I promise you the result is delicious.  Give it a try and see if you don't agree.

Figs Poached in Port and Thyme over Creamy Yogurt Cheese
Christine's original recipe
2 cups Greek-style yogurt (I used Strauss Family Creamery Plain Whole Milk Yogurt)
2 pounds fresh figs - I used 1 pound Black Mission and 1 pound green Kadota figs (about 28 figs total), cut into quarters
1/4 cup aged tawny port (I used Taylor Fladgate 20 year-old)
1/4 cup vanilla sugar (more or less depending on the sweetness of the figs)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
pinch salt
To make the yogurt cheese, dampen a piece of cheesecloth large enough to hang over the sides of a large strainer.
Line the strainer with the cheesecloth and set it over a large measuring cup or bowl.
Spoon the yogurt into the cheesecloth and place the whole thing into the fridge for several hours.
When the liquid has drained from the yogurt, you should have about half the amount of yogurt you started with. Keep cold until ready to use.
To prepare the figs, place the quartered figs, sugar, thyme, Port and salt in a medium saucepan, stir and heat until just bubbling.
Reduce heat to a simmer and cook over a heat diffusor for about 15 minutes or until the fruit is cooked through and a nicely thick syrup has formed.
Adjust the sugar to taste, remove from the heat, allow to cool for a few minutes then transfer to a large glass measuring cup and place in the fridge to cool until thoroughly chilled.
To serve, place a spoonful or two of yogurt cheese into a glass dish and top with the poached figs.

More figgy recipes coming soon!

Cook's Notes:
Vanilla sugar may be made by placing a split vanilla bean in a jar of baker's sugar (superfine), closing the lid, giving it a shake, and storing it until you need it. I leave the bean in the sugar until all the sugar is all used up; for me, that can be a year or more.

Copyright © 2005-2010, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved

Monday, August 9, 2010

Plum Cardamom Ice Cream

I love cardamom.

I especially love using whole seeds that have been extracted from their cute green pods.

When I bought plums last week, I made a gluten-free plum and cardamom galette, which turned out fabulously, thank you very much.

I saved some of the sliced plums from that recipe to make ice cream and when it came to deciding on a recipe, cardamom, this time using whole seeds, just seemed like the right flavor combination.

Plums are in season right now so get them at their peak. If you can, source them organically and locally.

I think you will like this.

Plum Cardamom Ice Cream
Christine's original recipe
(print recipe)
2 cups (heaping) sliced fresh plums*
2 packets Splenda or 2 tablespoons sugar (or to taste), depending on how sweet the plums are
2 1/3 cups 2% milk
seeds from 4 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
2-inch piece vanilla pod, split
3 large or 4 medium egg yolks
1/4 cup Splenda/sugar blend*** or 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 to 3/4 cup heavy cream

Combine the sliced plums with the first measurement of Splenda or sugar and let sit for 15 minutes to juice.
Using a large saucepan, simmer plums over medium heat until they have cooked for at least 5 minutes.** Remove from the heat, cool 5 minutes then purée in a food processor. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the milk, cardamom seeds and vanilla in a large saucepan until bubbles form around the edge of the pan. Remove from the heat and allow to steep for 20 minutes to 1/2 hour. Remove the vanilla pod and strain the milk mixture through a fine mesh sieve. Put the milk back into the saucepan. You can scrape the vanilla seeds into the milk at this point if desired.
Beat the egg yolks with the remaining Splenda/sugar blend or 1/2 cup sugar until the yolks are a pale yellow and have thickened so the mixture falls in ribbons from the beaters.
Gently whisk 1/3 of the warm milk into the eggs until combined then whisk the egg mixture back into the milk and heat over medium low, stirring constantly, until it coats the back of a wooden spoon and your finger leaves a mark when run across it.  Remove from heat and allow to cool 5 minutes.
Gently whisk the puréed plums into the custard****, pour into a large glass dish or pitcher and refrigerate for at least 4 hours until thoroughly chilled (overnight is best).
Just before processing, stir the cream into the custard until blended, then process according to the  manufacturer's instructions of your ice cream maker.

* I used a combination of red and yellow plums that I had leftover from this recipe. They were sweetly tart, which I like. The amount of sugar you use for the ice cream will depend on the tartness or sweetness of the plums you use.

** I learned the hard way that some fruits must be cooked to reduce their acid affect on dairy.  I didn't do this with the first batch I made which resulted in a curdled custard. So, please, stew your plums.

*** I have also learned through trial and error that the addition of sugar to the beating of the egg yolks is pretty much paramount to ice cream success.  I'm not liking that this is true but I'm afraid it is.  So I use the least amount of Splenda-sugar blend that I can get away with.  It works for me and adds just a small amount of sugar per serving. As always, if you are not a Splenda user like I am, go for the sugar rush. I will not judge you.

**** Alternatively, you can add the plum purée to the ice cream while it is processing, resulting in a more ribboned effect.

Copyright © 2005-2010, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Farmers Market Fresh Frittata with Corn and Zucchini

Fast, fresh, easy.
Creamy and delicious.
20 minutes prep time, 30 minutes cook time.
Serve as part of a special weekend brunch or whip up for a quick weeknight dinner.
What are you waiting for?
It's Saturday and I'm off to the farmers market for more.

Farmers Market Fresh Frittata with Corn and Zucchini
Christine's original recipe
(print recipe)
8 large eggs
4 medium zucchini cut into 1/4-inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 ears corn, shucked, kernels cut from cob
1 cup shredded white cheddar
1/2 teaspoon Benson's Supreme Garlic and Herb Seasoning (to taste) and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil for the pan
a sprinkle of finishing salt (optional)
Crack eggs into a large glass dish and whisk gently with a fork until blended.
Add about 1/4 cup water and stir until blended.  Eggs will be thick.  Set aside.
To prep the zucchini, cut off the stem and flower ends, slice lengthwise in half and then lengthwise again into quarters. Cut the zucchini crosswise into 1/4 to 1/2-inch pieces.
To prep the corn, remove the husks and silk. Place the corn cob standing up in a wide bowl and, using a sharp knife, cut down the cob, releasing the kernels into the bowl.  Do not cut too deeply into the cob.
Sauté garlic over medium heat in about a teaspoon of olive oil until softened and aromas rise.
Add zucchini and sauté until it is just tender. Do not allow to burn.
Add the corn kernels, the Benson's seasoning (or salt), and a few grinds of pepper and stir to combine.
Allow most of the water that the zucchini will throw off to evaporate, but not all of it.
Pour the eggs over the vegetables and mix oh so gently with a fork.
Allow to cook for 3 minutes to set the bottom.
Sprinkle the grated cheese over the top of the frittata.
Going around the edge of the skillet, lift the edge with a spatula to allow uncooked egg to run into the space created.
 Keep lifting and turning until only the middle of the frittata jiggles when you shake the pan, adjusting the heat so the bottom doesn't burn.
Transfer to a 325-degree oven and cook for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until the middle is softly set.  A knife inserted into the center of the frittata should come out clean.
Remove from the oven, sprinkle with finishing salt if desired, and let sit for about 5 minutes.
Cut into wedges and serve.

Please use no more than medium to medium-low heat to prepare this dish otherwise the eggs will turn out rubbery.
The cheese may be combined with the eggs prior to pouring over the vegetables if desired. This will result in a more homogenous egg-cheese mixture, but, hey, I was playing.
Fresh chopped herbs may be used with abandon.
The Benson's salt-free seasonings are one of several that I've been experimenting with. A subject for another post. Substitute sea salt if desired.

Copyright © 2005-2010, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved

Friday, August 6, 2010

Christine's Quick and Easy Pasta Sauce With Ground Turkey

The title actually says it all about this recipe.  It can be prepped, cooked, and ready to spoon over pasta in about 45 minutes.

My boys (now men) know this sauce well; until they had grown up and fledged, I'd made it for them often, always tossed with spaghetti (although today I used gluten-free spirals), and it never failed to satisfy.  Sometimes I think they liked it better than pizza.

The meat is optional and leaving it out will result in a sauce suitable for vegetarians and vegans alike.

A note about the ground turkey: That mushy stuff sold in some stores that looks and feels like it has glue in it? Try not to use that. Instead, find a good source for ground turkey that looks as though it really was extruded through a grinder rather than mashed into paste.

Yes, I'm using canned tomato products but if you have home made sauces, go for it.  The measurements are not set in stone.  What you want to achieve is a thick, tomato-y sauce that will cling to your pasta.

This is dedicated to my boys (now men).  The recipe is a secret no longer so hone up on those knife skills and get chopping.

Christine's Quick and Easy Pasta Sauce with Ground Turkey
(print recipe)
1 pound ground turkey (not the mushy stuff), or other ground meat, optional
4-6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 large sweet onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 large red bell pepper, seeds and veins removed, chopped in 1/2-inch pieces
2 small Padrón peppers or 1 small jalapeño pepper, seeds and veins removed, minced
1 tablespoon (or more) organic Italian herbs
1 28-ounce can organic peeled tomatoes (I use Muir Glen Organic tomato products)
1 15-ounce can organic tomato sauce (preferrably sugar free)
1 6-ounce can organic tomato paste (preferrably sugar free)
1/4 to 1/3 cup dry red wine to rinse the cans (more certainly may be used)
small handful fresh basil leaves, torn
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
olive oil for the pan
If using ground meat, heat a heavy skillet over medium-high.
When a bead of water dances on the skillet, add roughly 2 teaspoons olive oil then the ground meat crumbled into pieces.
Allow the meat to sear for about 3 minutes then break apart with a wooden spoon and continue to sauté until no pink shows.  Drain all liquid (save this for the dog or kitties), remove to a plate and set aside.
In the same skillet, add a bit more olive oil then toss in the onions.  Sauté until they soften, about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and stir, allowing the aromas to come up from the pan, about 2 minutes.
Add the peppers, Italian herbs, and the contents of each can.
Rinse the cans with red wine and pour into the skillet.
Stir and break the tomatoes up with your wooden spoon.
Add the cooked ground meat,
the torn basil leaves, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, give it a good stir and simmer it for about 15 minutes.  At this point it's ready for pasta, although you can simmer it longer if you have time.

I said it was simple.


Copyright © 2005-2010, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Gluten-Free Plum Galette with Cardamom, Sugar-Free or Not

I have a new god(dess) and her name is Carol.

A year ago when I went gluten-free, I tried my hand at making GF pancakes, pies, tarts, fruit galettes and more.  Some of them worked fine, others came out so-so and yet others were total disasters.  Mostly I couldn't get away from the "beany" taste and/or gritty texture that the flours I was using imparted, so I just gave it up altogether.

Sometime during the year I realized how much I missed pie crust.  Light, flakey pie crust.  It almost became an obsession.  I grew up on my mother's pies.  She taught me by example how to make flakey, light-as-a-feather crust.  I just had to find a way to make a GF pie or tart that sung to me.

Not too long ago my subscription link to Carol's blog Simply Gluten Free heralded her new GF flour.  A gluten-free flour that Carol guarantees can be used cup for cup like regular flour to make cakes, pies, cookies, breads, pastries, pizza(!), and more.

Was this to be my pie crust salvation?

I ordered some.  As soon as it arrived I made pie dough, rolled it into a large rustic circle and filled it with beautiful fresh plums.  I popped it into the oven.  I waited.  For 50 minutes I waited.  It was agony.

Finally it was time to remove the galette from the oven.  Then it had to cool ...  more agony.

Finally I cut a piece.  I took a bite...

Heaven!  It was heaven.  It had flake.  It had lightness.  It was delicious.

Carol, I bow to you.  You done good!

Gluten-Free Plum Galette with Cardamom
Christine's original recipe inspired by Carol Kacinski's Amazing All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour
(Print recipe)
Ingredients for pie crust:
1 cup gluten-free flour (see link above)
1 packet Splenda or 1 tablespoon sugar
tiny pinch salt
1/3 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons each cold heavy cream and cold water
Whisk together flour, sugar, salt.  Place in food processor and add butter pieces. Using quick pulses, process until butter and flour resemble fine sand, about 5-6 pulses.
Through the feed tube, add the cream in several pours while pulsing and stopping, pulsing and stopping, then add just enough water to make the dough come together. Pinch mixture between your thumb and fingers. If it holds together, it's ready.  Take care to not add too much liquid or your dough will be too wet.
Pour dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, gather the edges of the wrap and make the dough into a ball.  Flatten the ball into a disc and refrigerate for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Ingredients for plum filling:
10-12 ripe plums (yellow and red is nice), pits removed, cut into 1/4-inch slices. Makes approx. 3 cups* see Cook's Notes
Splenda packets or sugar to taste** see Cook's Notes
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon tapioca starch
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter cut into tiny cubes
heavy cream and vanilla sugar to finish the pie crust
While the dough is chilling, combine the plums, sugar, cardamom and tapioca starch in a bowl. Allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes for the plum juices to form.
Roll out the pie dough on a pastry cloth sprinkled with gluten free flour to a rough diameter of 14-inches.
Roll the dough up onto your rolling pin and center on a large parchment-lined baking sheet or pizza pan.
Place the plums (juice and all) in the center of the dough, spreading them to within 3-inches of the edges.
Dot the plums with the butter.
Fold the pie dough about 1/2-inch over itself, pleating and pinching if necessary, forming a smooth edge.  Bring the smooth edges of the dough about 3-inches over the plums, pleating as you go around, leaving a good portion of the plums showing in the middle of the galette.
Brush the dough with heavy cream and sprinkle with vanilla sugar. This is optional but makes for a nice crust.
Bake in a 380-degree oven for 45-50 minutes or until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbly.
Cool 30 minutes before cutting.
Eat and enjoy!  Then just think of the possibilities...

* I actually used 20 plums (10 red and 10 yellow) which made a total of 5 cups. I saved 2 cups of the mixture to make ice cream. Which will be coming along soon. ;)

** I have not provided a measurement for the Splenda or sugar because the amount you use will depend on how tart or sweet your plums are.  Add it sparingly and taste until it is to your satisfaction.  The plums I used were fairly tart so I added 7 packets of Splenda, which amounts to approx. 6 tablespoons of sugar, which is just under 1/2 cup. The finished fruit was tart with a sweet finish.

One more thing:  Just to keep the record straight, Carol doesn't know that I'm writing this post.  Well ...  she does now, now that I've published.  But there is no collusion here.  She didn't ask me to write this and I received no freebies for doing so. I'm just terrifically excited by the GF flour.

Copyright © 2005-2010, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

We Will Return You to Your Regularly Scheduled Program . . .

. . . when I return in a few weeks.

I know.

Just when I start rubbing my hands together, thinking Summer!  I'll have more time to cook, more time to

invent recipes, more time to blog . . .

Then I leave.  Then I come home for

all of one day, 

then I leave again.

I'm a bad blogger.


The recipe that goes with the photos will be revealed when I return. It's a fun way to grill fish.

See ya.

Copyright © 2005-2010, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved