Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Sweet Corn Salsa



If you were to ask a cross-section of farmers market patrons, you would likely get two general responses on how they shop the market. Some go with lists which they seldom deviate from, while others peruse the stalls and buy whatever looks goods. I am a combination of both, usually going with  a list but not afraid to try something new.

Last Saturday, I was there with my friend who shops the market completely differently from the way I do. Her approach has nothing to do with shopping at all. Instead, the first thing she does is get in line at the burrito stand - for a breakfast burrito topped with her favorite fresh, corn salsa. Such has been her ritual for a number of years she also knew that you can purchase containers of this delicious salsa, and if it is not out on the counter, you just have to ask.

It is corn season in the midwest and you can get some of the sweetest corn at the moment at farmers markets throughout the twin cities And I am certain this is what makes the salsa so good at that burrito stand. Fresh, local, sweet corn. This, of course, inspired my recipe here. And don't forget to try it with some scrambled eggs for breakfast.

Sweet Corn Salsa

2 tbsp vegetable oil
juice of 1 small lime
1 tsp agave
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper
4 ears of cooked, sweet corn
1 cup of diced tomatoes
1 small onion, diced
2 jalepenos, seeded and diced
2 tbsp minced cilantro

1. Whisk together the first five ingredients.
2. Remove the kernels of corn from the cobs and add, along with the remaining ingredients to the dressing. Combine well. Top with extra cilantro, if desired, before serving.






Friday, July 4, 2014

Watermelon Agua Fresca



Today we are hosting a backyard barbecue where we will be serving this watermelon agua fresca. Watermelon beverages epitomize summer so we tend to try a new watermelon-based recipe every year. This drink is light and refreshing and as simple as pureeing watermelon with some water and agave, and pouring over glasses filled with ice cubes (or, as we prefer, watermelon ice cubes.) Happy 4th of July!

Watermelon Agua Fresca
Serves about 6

10 cups fresh watermelon cubes
3 cups water
1/4 cup agave syrup
watermelon ice cubes (see how to make them here)
approx. 30 mint leaves

Puree the watermelon cubes with the water and agave syrup until very smooth. Coarsely crush the mint leaves at the bottom of a serving pitcher. Pour the agua fresca over the crushed mint leaves and stir well. To serve, fill a serving glass with watermelon ice cubes and top off the with agua fresca. Garnish with additional mint leaves. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Spaghetti Squash with Sausage and Peas


I read an article recently about foods that we should "break up" with. Some are quite obvious, such as white flour and processed meats. White flour because it lacks any nutrients and causes a spike in blood sugar levels. Processed meats because they contain saturated fats and unsavory fillers. Others are not too obvious, for example, dried fruit. Fruit, both fresh and dried are good for us, no? It turns out that some dried fruit preparations can contain added sugar and corn syrup, extra sources of glucose that most of us do not need.

Today, I am "breaking up" with spaghetti squash but not for  any of the reasons you might think. This recipe has been overdone at our house. It is one that I have been making almost bi-weekly since last fall. So I think it is time to give it a rest, for fear that my hubby will never want to see another spaghetti squash again. If you do get to try this recipe, you will surely agree that its ease of preparation and simple healthfulness make for a wholesome weeknight meal, and I'm sure you will understand why it become a  go-to recipe at our house over the last few months. 


Spaghetti Squash with Sausage and Peas

Serves 3 to 4

1 spaghetti squash
1/2 lb spicy sausage
1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
salt and pepper
1/4 cup grated parmesan
chopped parsley

1.  Carefully cut the squash lengthwise in half. Brush the cut sides with a little oil and place cut side down of a baking sheet. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 20 minutes until the spaghetti threads can easily be removed with a fork.
2. Cook the sausage in a skillet over medium high heat, for about 10  minutes, trying your best to break up any large chunks into small bite-sized pieces.
3. Once the sausage has been properly cooked, add in the  spaghetti squash and the peas. Combine well. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Transfer to a serving dish and top with grated parmesan and chopped parsley.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Kale Flatbread



These days, it is a rare event when I get to cook for my siblings, since the moments when they visit are so few and so far between. But I got the opportunity last month to make this flatbread for my sister, who braved the tortuous winter weather to spend a few days with us. This recipe will make a kale fan out of you, as it did for her.





Kale Flatbread
Serves about 3 to 4

2 tbsp vegetable oil
10 oz washed and chopped kale
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup shredded cheese
4 oz of cooked ham, cubed
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp honey
Flatbread dough (see recipe below)

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over low heat and cook the kale until it has wilted a little. This might take about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
2. Roll out the dough as thin as you can get without it tearing. Transfer to a well greased baking sheet and cover evenly with the shredded cheese, cooked kale,  and the ham.
3. Baked in a 350 degrees F oven for 15 to 20 minutes until the crust is golden brown.
4. While the flatbread is baking, add the balsamic and honey to a saucepan over medium heat. Cook until slightly thickened, about 5 to 7  minutes. Drizzle the thickened balsamic sauce over the flatbread before serving.

Flatbread dough

1 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup luke warm water
1 tbps olive oil
pinch of salt
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour


Add the yeast with the sugar to the lukewarm water, in large bowl and let the yeast form bubbles and proof, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the olive oil, salt, all purpose flour, and whole wheat flour. Mix well to form a ball. Knead on a floured surface for about 2 minutes. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap or kitchen towel and allow to almost double in size.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Orange and Cinnamon Chicken with Herbed Couscous


Here is an easy and delicious recipe that includes the warmth and sweetness of orange and cinnamon. This dish is a favorite of mine during the winter months because the aroma just wafts through the house, adding a sense of coziness on these cold evenings. Also, when I serve this on a bed of couscous scented with parsley and mint, it adds a little bit of Mediterranean flair to a weeknight dinner.




Orange and Cinnamon Chicken with Herbed Couscous
Serves 4 to 5

5-6 chicken thighs
1 tsp ground cinnamon
4 garlic cloves (grated)
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp salt
zest and juice of 1 orange
1 cup chicken stock

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Season the chicken with the cinnamon, garlic, black pepper, salt and orange zest.
3. In a large skillet, heat two tablespoons of vegetable oil.  Sear the seasoned chicken thighs on both sides, about 1 minute per side.
4. Place the seared chicken thighs in a large ovenproof dish. Pour in the chicken stock and orange juice. Cover tightly with lid or aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes.
5. Once cooked, remove the chicken pieces from the sauce. Place the sauce on the stovetop over medium heat and allow to thicken; this might take about 6 to 8 minutes. Pour this thickened sauce over the chicken. Serve with herbed couscous (see recipe below).


Herbed Couscous

2 cups dry cous cous
2 ½ cups water
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp oil
¼ cup chopped parsley
¼ cup chopped green onions
2 tbsp chopped mint (optional)

In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Stir in the salt and oil. Add the couscous and stir well. Cover, remove from the heat, and allow to sit for about 10 minutes, until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Fluff with a fork, and add the herbs right before serving.