Monday, December 31, 2007

Polenta and Roasted Root Vegetables

The original recipe for this casserole is found online here, but I first saw it over at the garden posted by ghoghunter and have wanted to try it ever since. As usual I didn't have all the ingredients and used what was available. I had some frozen okra in the freezer, wish I had thought to add it ... ah well next time. This is really good, the food critic gave it 4 stars !

I used sweet potato, onions and carrots and a mixture of provolone and mozzarella on top.

I made some zucchini fritters for a side dish to add some green to our supper. I had put up the zucchini this past summer in two cup amounts and thawed two bags.

Zucchini Fritter Recipe

4 cups shredded zucchini, squeeze out liquid
1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup pancake mix
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sour cream
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup oil

Mix all ingredients except oil in bowl. Heat the oil in a skillet. Drop batter into oil and brown each side. Drain on paper towels.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Sugar & Spice and everything ...

Sweet & Spicy Pecans

1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
1 egg white
1 Tbsp. cold water
1 pound pecans

Combine dry ingredients. Mix egg white with cold water and whisk until frothy but not stiff. Blend with dry ingredients. Add nuts and coat well.

Spread nut mixute on buttered cookie sheet and bake in a 250 degree oven for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Cool and store in an airtight container.

Source: Christmas Memories Cookbook

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Latkes & Applesauce

The discussion on the cooking forum over at the garden had me craving Latkes. I had 6 apples from Willoughby Hills Farm and made a quick dish of chunky applesauce for a side. The farm picked the rest of their apple harvest and stored them in a cooler on site. I will be able to buy locally grown apples through April. I am happy :)

Latke Recipe

4 medium potatoes, peeled and grated
1 small onion, grated
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. sour cream
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup oil

Grate potatoes, squeeze off extra liquid. Peel and grate onion into potatoes. Add eggs, flour, sour cream and salt and pepper. Mix Well.

Heat 1/2 cup of oil until it sizzles. Drop a tbsp. at a time of batter into the hot oil. When bottoms are brown turn them over. When done, remove and drain on paper towels.

Serve with applesauce, sour cream or just plain.

Chunky Applesauce Recipe

6 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

In a heavy pot, combine all ingredients. Cook covered over low heat until tender, about 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and mash apples. Serve warm with latkes.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Cauliflower and Mushroom Gougere

Since I had a half head of cauliflower and mushrooms left over from the Winter Pie, I used them as the filling for this Gougere. The tomatoes are from my freezer stock, thawed and crushed.

Cauliflower and Mushroom Gougere Recipe

1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
4 eggs, beaten
4 ounces cheddar cheese, diced
Salt & Pepper, to taste


1/2 head cauliflower
4 whole tomatoes, crushed
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
1 onion, chopped
2 cups mushrooms, sliced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a large oven proof baking dish.

Heat 1 1/4 cups of water and butter in large pot until butter melts. Remove from heat and add all the flour. Beat well until smooth. Set aside to cool.

Add eggs one at a time, beat until mixture is smooth and glossy. Stir in the diced cheddar and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Spread the mixture around the sides of baking dish, leave a hollow in the center for filling.

Cut cauliflower into florets. Crush tomatoes, reserving the liquid. Heat oil and butter in skillet, add onion and sautee for 4 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook an additional 3 minutes. Add the cauliflower and stir-fry for about a minute. Add the tomatoes and liquid and thyme to taste. Cook over a low heat for 5 minutes.

Spoon mixture into the hollow in the baking dish.

Bake for 40 minutes or until the pastry has risen and is golden brown.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cran-Apple Pie

As most of you know by now I am "crust-challenged, but I have found a solution to my dilemma. Cookie Cutters ! Cranberries are in season, now is the time to buy for "now and later". I have a few bags tucked into the freezer, who says we can't eat cranberries year round ? Since I already had sliced apples in the freezer, this was a quick dessert.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cran-Apple Pie Recipe

4 cups fresh apples
2 cups fresh cranberries
3/4 cups sugar
1 Tbsp. flour

Combine apples and cranberries in a large bowl, toss with sugar and flour and set aside.

Pie Crust Recipe

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup shortening
6 Tbsp. cold water

Combine flour and salt, cut in shortening until mixture is crumbly. Add water and mix well. Divide dough in half. On a lightly floured board roll out dough about 12 inches round. Roll up pastry on rolling pin and roll out into pie plate. Roll out second piece of dough and cut out shapes.

Pour fruit into pie shell and place cut-outs on top, sealing at edges. Brush with milk, sprinkle with sugar. Bake about 45-50 minutes, or until crust is lightly browned and fruit is tender.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Mushroom Soup

“Good soup is one of the prime ingredients of good living. For soup can do more to lift the spirits and stimulate the appetite than any other one dish.” Louis P. De Gouy, The Soup Book (1949)

If you are a regular visitor to my blog, you know by now that if you are looking for gourmet, you won't find it here, just simple home cooking. Well, throw away the cans ladies and gents, this mushroom soup has short prep time and is ready in 30 minutes. OMG, it is soooooo good !

Mushroom Soup Recipe

4 Tbsp. butter
2 onions, chopped
1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp. paprika
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup half-n-half
3 Tbsp. flour
Salt & Pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
1 cup sour cream, room temperature

In a soup pot melt butter and sautee onions till translucent, add mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes. Stir in broth and paprika. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Whisk flour and milk together and add to pot, simmer covered for an additional 15 minutes.

Stir in salt & pepper and parsley. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream.

Serve immediately with crusty bread.


Another way to use Thanksgiving leftovers that doesn't involve turkey which, if like me, you are probably pretty burnt out on. I made a basic pasta dough using whole wheat flour and filled it with sweet potato, cranberry sauce and a bit of goat cheese from the Lake Erie Creamery. After boiling I gently placed them in some browned butter in skillet till just coated. First time making pasta and I have to admit it is better than the processed stuff you buy at the grocer.

Following are the steps taken. Divide dough up and roll out, I used a biscuit cutter because I wanted uniform shapes. Each round received 1 tsp. of mashed sweet potato, 1/2 tsp. cranberry sauce and a smidgen of goat cheese. Lightly brush edges with water and seal with a fork.

Drop in boiling water, they are done when they float to the surface, remove with slotted spoon and transfer to skillet with browned butter.

Pasta Dough Recipe

2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup cold water
1 tsp. olive oil

Combine dry ingredients, make a well in center. Mix eggs, water and oil and add to dry ingredients. Turn out on well floured board and knead for 10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic. Divide dough in fourths, roll each fourth into a 12 inch square. Cut as desired.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Slow-Food Thanksgiving

The year has turned its circle, The seasons come and go. The harvest all is gathered in And chilly north winds blow. Orchards have shared their treasures, The fields, their yellow grain, So open wide the doorway~ Thanksgiving comes again! ~Old Rhyme

Happy Thanksgiving !

Roasted root vegetables, corn and green beans from summer harvest, Amish-raised turkey and cornbread dressing.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Squash and Sweet Potato Lasagna

This dish is my adaption of the butternut squash lasagna by Giada De Laurentis. I cut up a small butternut squash, a chunk of hubbard squash and a sweet potato. I also eliminated the cookies. This is the first time I have used the no boil lasagna and I have to say that I will probably never boil another lasagna noodle again :)

Squash and Sweet Potato Lasagna Recipe

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
Hubbard squash, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup water

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 cup dried basil leaves
12 no-boil lasagna noodles
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Heat oil in a heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add the squash, sweet potato and hubbard squash and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper, add water and cook until tender. Remove from heat and puree in blender and/or mixer.

Melt 1/4 cup of butter in a heavy pan over medium heat, add flour and blend well. Gradually add milk. Bring to a low boil, turn down heat and simmer until sauce thickens. Add 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, blend well. Add basil, salt and pepper (to taste) and remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Butter a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Spread a thin layer (about 3/4 cup) of the sauce on bottom of baking dish. Arrange 4 lasagna noodles on top of sauce. Spread 1/3 of the squash over the noodles. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers, ending with lasagna noodles on top. Pour remainder of sauce over the noodles.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle the rest of the mozzarella cheese on top and bake an additional 15-20 minutes or until top is golden brown.

Served with Sour Cream Bread.

Sour Cream Bread Recipe

1 pkg. yeast
3 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup warm water
2 cups sour cream, room temperature
1 Tbsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
4 cups bread flour
4 tsp. vital wheat gluten

Combine yeast, sugar and water and proof for 5 minutes. Blend sour cream with salt and baking soda and add to yeast mixture. Combine flour and wheat gluten and add, one cup at a time, to mixture. Turn out on floured board and knead for 10 minutes.

Place in a buttered bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place till double in bulk, 1-1 1/2 hours.

Punch dough down, turn onto a lightly floured board and knead for about 2 minutes.

Free form the loaf, place on sheet dusted with cornmeal. Cover and let rise in warm place for an additional hour or until double in bulk.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mist dough lightly with water, cut 1/2 inch deep slashes on top and bake for 30-35 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when tapped on top and bottom.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Gastronomic Adventure

Cathy, Not Eating Out In New York, has the final entries posted for "The Ugliest Gourmet", each contestant has posted a dish that may not look appetizing, but for this contest "the proof of the pudding is in the eating" !

My humble offering to the contest was my Carrot Pie and, as you will see, the food bloggers have entered the ring of culinary challenge with dishes that will be hard to beat.

The Contest ends at midnight, Tuesday, November 20th, so please stop by Cathy's blog and cast your vote for the Ugliest Gourmet !

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Cranberry-Pear Pie

I love this pie because you don't have to worry about making that perfect pie crust. Which works out well for me since although I make a tasty crust, I am inept in making those pretty scalloped edges :)

Cranberry-Pear Pie Recipe

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly grease a deep dish pie pan.


Pie Crust

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 cup salted butter
1 large egg
5 Tbsp. cold water

Mix flour and sugar in large bowl. Cut in butter, until mixture is crumbly. Separate egg, setting egg white to one side. Mix egg yolk and water together, add to dough and stir with a fork.

Transfer dough to a well floured board and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 20-30 minutes.

Pie Filling:

6 Pears
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. cornstarch

While dough is chilling, peel, core and cut up pears. Mix pears, cranberries, lemon juice, sugar, ginger and cornstarch in large bowl.
Set aside.

Remove dough from refrigerator, roll out on well-floured board in a large uneven circle, making sure it is at least 4 inches larger than pie dish.

Transfer dough to pie pan, with crust overlapping dish. Pour fruit mixture into crust and dot with 2 Tbsp. of butter, cut into small pieces

Bring the edges of the dough over the fruit leaving an opening in center. Remember that egg white ? Mix the egg white with a couple of Tbsp. of water and brush onto the crust.

Bake for 10 minutes, lower heat to 375 degrees and bake for an additional 40-45 minutes until filling is tender and crust is a golden brown.

Options: Sprinkle finished pie with powdered sugar, or serve with whip cream or ice cream.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Farms and Foods of Ohio

Boulder Belt blog is one of my favorite reads, written by Lucy of Eaton, Ohio. She chronicles her life as a sustainable farmer and the local food movement.

Lucy's farm is featured in a new book written by Marilou Suszko, a culinary instructor at Laurel Run in Amherst and a free-lance food writer. ''Farms and Foods of Ohio: From Garden Gate to Dinner Plate", ''the book focuses on food grown close to home.

'It gets you thinking about locally grown food, who your farmer is and what they're doing for you,'' said Suszko.

When I visit my local farmers market, I have the opportunity to talk with the local farmers who provide the fresh-picked produce for my table.

Do you know your local farmer ? Do you buy locally grown ?

Willoughby Hills Apple Farm

Nick, Maple Valley Sugarbush & Farm

Farmer Jack

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Sour Cream Bread

Bread baking 101 continues, my first free form loaf is a success ! This bread is good for sandwiches or as toast.


1 package yeast
1 1/3 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees)
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 Tbsp. salt
1/4 tsp. soda
2 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour

Combine yeast, sugar and water and allow to proof for 5 minutes.

Combine dry ingredients. Add sour cream to the yeast mixture, then add flour one scoop at a time beating well after each addition. Turn out onto a floured board, kneed for about 10 minutes.

Shape the dough into a ball and place in a buttered bowl, turn to coat with butter. Cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm spot till double in size. About 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Punch dough down and let rest for a few minutes. Turn out onto a floured board and kneed a minute or two.

Place in a buttered loaf pan, cover with towel and let rise again till double in size.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven 30-35 minutes, or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped on top and bottom.

Note: I shaped the dough and placed on a sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Covered with a towel and let double in size. Before I placed it in the oven I used a sharp knife and made three slashes across the top. Place a hot pan of water on bottom shelf of oven, and spray bread lightly with water before placing in oven.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Spinach-Lasagne Rolls

One package lasagne, cooked and drained
Pasta sauce
Mozzarella cheese

Spinach filling:
2 10 oz. bags baby spinach
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups Ricotta cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Cook spinach for about a minute, remove from pot. Add cheeses, eggs and salt and pepper, mix well.

Spread a thin layer of pasta sauce over bottom of a 9X12 baking dish.

Lay lasagne out on wax paper, and spread spinach filling. Roll up the Lasagne and tuck into baking dish, filling up the entire pan. Spoon pasta sauce over the Lasagne rolls and sprinkle lightly with mozzarella cheese.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven 40-45 minutes or until top is lightly browned.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Harvest Festival

The Harvest Festival was a roaring success. We had so much fun. Lots of winter squashes, pumpkins, popping corn, maple syrup and maple candy, red peppers, cheeses, concord grapes, home-baked goodies and more. There were cooking demos ... Raina made an apple-cherry pie, Paul made crab cakes and Elizabeth showed us how to make ravioli, stuffed with squash and goat cheese.

Lots of pics to share.