Garden Variety

The produce from our garden has been busting out all over.chard in the basketI love Swiss Chard and it grows so easily in our garden. Within a week after trimming out 1/3 of this bed, it grew right back.

Swiss ChardI had to search for recipes that would be a challenge for me other than sautéing chard in olive oil and shallots.

I furrowed out a Bon Appétit  magazine from May 1999 profiling Provence, France. It was a Special Collector’s Edition. The main article profiled 20 essential ingredients of the region: fresh produce, herbs, dairy, meats, seafood and breads.

Bon Appetite May 1999In France, Swiss Chard is called blette. It has white or red stem varieties. The leaves need to be trimmed away from the stems before using in a recipe.

I have never made gnocchi before so I chose the recipe Swiss Chard Gnocchi (Gnocchi aux blettes) to prepare. On top of this, I have never even eaten gnocchi before!

Swiss Chard Gnocchi (Gnocchi aux blettes)  8 servings

1 pound russet potatoes (about 2 large)

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 1/4 pounds Swiss Chard, stems and ribs trimmed

1 large egg

1 TBSP olive oil

1 3/4 C all-purpose flour

1 stick butter (1/2 Cup)

4 C homemade or purchase tomato-herb sauce

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Steam or boil potatoes, about 50 minutes until tender. Cool potatoes, slightly then peel . Mash potatoes in large bowel until smooth, add the salt and pepper.

Steam or boil the Swiss chard until wilted, about 3 minutes. Once it has wilted, drain, until cool and then squeeze out as much water from the chard as you can. Finely, chop the chard by hand or with the food processor.

Mix the chard in the mashed potato mixture add egg and oil. Gradually add the flour until combined, forming a slightly sticky dough.

sticky dough

Dust a board with flour, I used pastry fabric. Working in batches and with floured hands, roll 1/4 cup of dough and form a 12 inch long rope. Cut the rope into one inch pieces.

rolling and cutting the rope

Roll each piece between palms forming a ball. Using a whisk, roll each ball down the length of the wires to make a ribbed impression.

ribbed impressions

Transfer gnocchi to a baking sheet with parchment paper to rest.

gnocchi on baking sheet

Place the gnocchi, in batches of 10-12 in a large pot of boiling salt water cooking for 6 minutes, until the gnocchi rises to the surface of the boiling water and are tender.

boiling gnocchi

Using a slotted spoon transfer the gnocchi to a large bowl.

Gnocchi cooked

Melt butter in large heavy skillet over med-high heat. Add the gnocchi and sauté until coated with butter and cooked through for about 3 minutes.

Serve the gnocchi atop hot marinara red sauce or white sauce and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

red sauce

IMG_3030

1. The gnocchi can be frozen up to 1-2 months in the freezer after boiled. When ready to serve, thaw, then cook with butter in a sauce pan before serving.

2. I used all-purpose vinyl gloves to mix and roll the dough. It was way to sticky not to!

3.  I enjoyed the white sauce better than the red sauce with the gnocchi.  The white sauce gave it a richer taste. If using a red sauce, it would be best to pick a light one, nothing heavy. Of course the shaved parmesan atop made the flavors pop.

4. Okay, I have to say it. The green-ness of the gnocchi was visually off-putting. It reminded me and my daughter of insect larvae.

5. When produce comes out of the garden I have to wash it two to three times. Dirt and bugs hang onto the leaves pretty easily.

Sorry if talking about bugs grossed you out.

Enjoy your meal – Bon appétit!

Related articles

Will and Kate cook

The royal couple took over my kitchen the past two weeks. Will and Kate.

Will and Kate

My daughter Kate, home for the summer, had surgery before heading off the vet medicine school this fall. Her boyfriend, Will, came to visit this past week. While we were at work, they cooked up dishes they never had space or time to make in a tiny college kitchen. She is putting a dent in this cookbook I am sending with her to school next month.

America's Test Kitchen Quick

Courtly Calzones

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F

10 oz frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed dry

4 oz each of crumbled goat cheese, ricotta cheese & shredded mozzarella cheese

1 oz grated Parmesan cheese

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 egg yolk

2 minced garlic cloves

3/4 tsp dried oregano

1/8 tsp red pepper flakes

1 lb pizza dough, room temperature

1 egg beaten with 2 Tbsp water

Combine all the ingredients down to the pizza dough and set aside. Divide the dough in half. Roll out each pizza dough on a floured board. Transfer the round dough onto parchment paper. Divide the filling and spread onto one half of the dough leaving a one inch border. Fold over the dough for the edges to meet making a half-moon and crimp the edges to seal. Cut 5 slits atop the pie dough then brush with the egg wash. Slide the calzones with parchment paper onto a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes turning the sheet halfway through the time. Cool 5 minutes before serving. Makes 2 calzones, 4 servings.

Will calzone

Will’s Calzone

Kate calzone

Kate’s Calzone

Kate’s Comments:

1. Kate is not a fan of spinach unless it was mixed with lots of cheese. The cheese mixture called for four kinds of cheese: parmesan, mozzarella, goat, and ricotta mixed with an egg to bind it altogether = yummy. She just didn’t care for the spinach, the cheese didn’t hide the flavor for her.

2. Will had a better handle on the pizza dough and was less afraid to stretch and form into a circle for the calzone base. Kate admits she was more afraid of the dough.

3. Kate overfilled her calzone with filling as it oozed out of the edges.

4. The cookbook had great pictures on how to form the calzone, pinch the edges and vent the pie top.

in the oven

 Chivalrous Chicken Parmesan Roll-ups

Preheat oven to 475 degrees F

1 chopped fine onion

3 Tbsp olive oil

6 minced garlic cloves

14.5 oz can diced tomatoes

1/2 C chopped fresh basil

salt and pepper to taste

6 oz shredded  mozzarella cheese

1 oz grated Parmesan cheese

6 chicken cutlets, 4 oz, 1/4 inch thick

1/2 C panko crumbs

Sauté the onions and garlic in 2 Tbsp olive oil for about 3 minutes until translucent. Add the tomatoes and simmer about 3 minutes, then add half the basil, salt and pepper. Set aside briefly before placing half of the mixture on the bottom of a 8-inch square baking dish.

Mix the cheese and basil mixture together in a bowl and set aside. Place the cutlets out and mound the cheese mixture at the wider end leaving an inch at the narrower end. Roll it up and place into the square baking dish seam down. Place the remaining sauce atop each cutlet and sprinkle with panko. Drizzle with the remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil. Bake about 15-20 minutes until chicken reaches 160 degrees with a meat thermometer. Serves 4-6.

chicken pounding boy

Princely pounding of the chicken cutlets

crutch girl

Princess posing with crutches

Chicken Parmesan Roll-ups

The Royal Dish

Will’s wise words:

1. Will liked pounding the chicken. I showed him how to wrap the chicken in plastic and use the flat side of the meat tenderizer to pound the chicken cutlet flat.

2. Kate made her own cutlets by slicing a chicken breast in half. She was so proud she aced the technique after following the picture directions.

3. More cheese.  One point Will and Kate both agreed upon. The recipe called for 1/2 C parmesan, 1 1/2 C mozzarella cheese and 1/2 C fresh basil divided into the filling and the topping. The flavor of the cheese was hidden by the tomato sauce and panko crumbs. They decided that whatever the recipe called for in cheese, that they should double it.  It is always better to have more cheese and not need it than to not have enough cheese and wanting more.

4. The oven temperature was pretty hot at 450 degrees, browning the crumbs too quickly. After 5 minutes they turned down the temperature to 375-400 degrees.

4. Scrumptious and served with a side of spaghetti.

We’re back to being commoners again. Thanks from dropping by Will and Kate!

Dandelion Blossoms

dandelions on table

Dandelions. For me growing up I thought they were cute little flowers that popped in the lawn. I hated when they turned to seed, I loved them when they were pretty yellow. Of course, we didn’t fertilize our lawn so they were everywhere.

You are starting to see more about dandelion health benefits these days, most notably with dandelion root tea. It is a tea that provides natural detoxification benefiting digestion and liver health.

So why dandelions? Why now? Well today is Mother’s Day and my mother passed about three months ago. I was sorting through books and came across this binder of recipes from my home county that belonged to my mother. There was date or year noted in the book but I am guessing it was circa late 1960s, early 1970s. My mother never contributed recipes to this cookbook but she referenced it quite a bit.

cookbook

Near the end of the book was this recipe for Dandelion Blossoms. I was taken aback, really dandelions?  I am sure my mother never attempted this recipe and we as kids, would’ve turn up our noses at it.

recipe

I did find Dandelion Fritter recipe. The website was a little more dainty with the dandelions than I was.

soak em

setting it up

fry em

long view of dish

close up of dish

Patty’s Points:

1) Make sure you don’t have allergies to dandelions before you eat them. ALSO make sure there are no fertilizers used in the area you pick your dandelions. You can also  grow them from seed  in your own backyard or indoors.

2) I used a Louisiana Fish Fry for the dry ingredient, lemon-spiced. I could barely tell I was eating dandelions. My husband ate one. My son thought they were mushrooms; I didn’t tell him any differently.

3)  My mother was fearless, in my eyes, when canning produce from the garden: pickled beets, cucumber relish, bread and butter pickles, and tomatoes. I admired that about her.  This recipe was adventurous for me. I’m sure my Dad would think I was a little crazy to eat dandelions. I probably won’t tell him I made these.

Happy Mother’s Day. I miss you Mom.

God took the fragrance of a flower, the majesty of a tree,

The gentleness of  morning dew, the calm of a quiet sea,

The beauty of the twilight hour, the soul of a starry night,

The laughter of a rippling brook, the grace of a bird in flight,

Then God fashioned from these things, 

A creation like no other,

And when His masterpiece was through,

He called it simply…Mother.

Herbert Farnham

Making Miso Soup

I been sampling a lot of Asian food lately: Japanese, Thai, Korean, and Vietnamese.

I started with Miso Soup. Alton Brown has even featured Miso Soup in a Good Eats episode and his cookbook.

Miso Soup ingredients are not commonly found in a typical grocery store. I ventured to an Asian neighborhood and shopped at the Little Saigon Market. I found food items and wares from every Asian country. It was so easy to get distracted with all the offerings and forget about what I was there to shop for.

Little Saigon

tea

The basic ingredients are dashi, miso, dried seaweed and tofu.

Dashi is the Japanese word for stock. Japanese dashi is light but packed with unami. It’s made by soaking dried edible kelp (kombu), cured bonito flakes, and sometimes dried sardines or dried shiitake mushrooms in water.

Miso is the elegant Japanese term for fermented soybean paste. It comes in red and white soybean paste.

Dried Seaweed is what it sounds like. The link is about the health benefits of seaweed.

Tofu is one item you can find in most grocery stores. It is soy beans made into a cheese like product. The firm type of tofu is for this soup.

IMG_2546

Simple 10-Minute Miso Soup – from The Steamy Kitchen 

Serves 4
4 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons instant dashi granules
1/2 cup miso paste
1 tablespoon dried seaweed (for miso soup), soaked in water
1/2 cup cubed tofu
2 tablespoons chopped green onion

1. Pour the water into a pot and bring to a boil. Add the instant dashi and whisk to dissolve. Turn the heat to medium-low and add the tofu. Drain the seaweed and add the seaweed to the pot. Simmer for 2 minutes.

2. In the meantime, Spoon the miso paste into a bowl. Ladle about 1/2 cup of the hot dashi broth into a bowl and whisk with chopsticks or a whisk to mix and melt the miso paste so that it becomes a smooth mixture.

3. Turn the heat off, add the miso paste to the pot and stir well. Top with green onions, if desired, and serve immediately.

miso soup

Patty’s Points:

1. Of all the recipes I looked at, Steamy Kitchen’s was the easiest. I didn’t have enough patience to make homemade dashi like Alton.

2. Dashi has an extremely strong fishy flavor. That flavor in combination with the miso, makes a strong flavored soup. One serving was quite enough.

3. I’ve made the soup again but greatly reduced the amount of dashi and countered it with vegetable or chicken broth. Miso Soup purists would probably think it dilutes the flavor. I don’t care.

4. The seaweed tasted okay. When I have replicated the recipe I added spinach once instead of seaweed. It was fine as well.

5. The soup is loaded with protein and health benefits. It has to be good for you.

I had to have some dessert before I left the Little Saigon Market so I purchased homemade Vietnamese banana cake: Banh chuoi nuong and sesame balls. They were both melt in your mouth delicious. I made one fool hearty attempt at making the banana cake. Another day….

banana cake and sesame balls

Kitchen essentials field trip

One thing I have learned since “becoming fearless” in the kitchen is that the equipment and supplies you use makes a big difference in the outcome of your cooking.

I’m a no-nonsense type of person who likes organization so I’m drawn to kitchen tools and products that are multi-purpose. Also having something that is easy to store is a plus since I have a small kitchen. Every purchase is calculated.

The Fearless Cooking Club took a field trip to the Standard Restaurant Supply Store. There are two located in our area. It was an adventure.

Standard Restaurant Supply

rows and rows

Rows and rows of products. This aisle was all on glassware and barware.

B-52 Flavoring?

There was one side of the aisle devoted to 50 types of non-alcoholic syrups, regular and sugar-free .

Fiesta ware look alike

Several rows of serving plates, cups and platters. These are Fiestaware look a-likes.

Take home buys

Our purchases: the cheapest item was bamboo skewers,toothpicks with American flags, and a plastic squeeze bottle $0.59 each. The most expensive item $7.49 for a glass syrup server. The different flavored syrups were $5.49 each for a large bottle. Other purchases were foil mini cupcake liners (gold and silver), racks for candy making, different sizes of cookie sheets, and a pastry cloth and plastic pastry boards. Gabe, our pie man, mentioned that both of these were good substitute for rolling out pastry if you didn’t have a marble board.

Patty’s Points:

1. B-52 syrup is named for the famous bar drink made from Kahlúa liqueur, Irish Cream and Grand Marnier. This non-alcoholic syrup is a combination of coffee, Irish Cream and a hint of orange flavor. They also had a carrot cake flavored syrup. Who knew these flavors existed and how fun to see so many choices in one place!

2. This is a store that anyone can shop at but it is directed toward restaurant owners. They had furniture, cleaning products, industrial stoves, refrigerators, freezers, popcorn makers, paper products, silverware, professional knife-ware, and on and on.

3. You have to carefully look at the prices. Some items are quite cheap and then right next to it a similar item is two to three times the price. What is the difference? Maybe the detail on the glass is more detailed, then it is more expensive.

The sale racks were quite good. We got a pack of 12 dish towels for $6.59, marked down from $12.00. That makes the towels $0.50 a piece. The Fiestaware look a-likes were of good quality and inexpensive. It depends on what you want and what you want to spend.

4. Appliances are not routinely discounted for the public. I saw a mandolin for shaving veggies that caught my eye, $79.00. I would have to do some price comparisons at like Macy’s, Kohl’s or Bed, Bath and Beyond. Those stores routinely have coupons for 15%-30% discounts that I might get a better deal.

If you are a restaurant owner with an account you can get a price that is comparable to other supply stores. They also have on-site vendors who can customize your kitchen. That is if you want a commercial type kitchen. The manager said it could cost $10,000 to $350,000 to set up a kitchen, depending on what you are cooking and where you are located.

5. I spent $33.00. I’m not ready for the commercial kitchen yet.

Another Award

liebster-award

I am the slowest person on the planet at replying to award nominations from other bloggers.

From My Kitchen To Yours nominated me six weeks ago for a Liebster Award. How sweet!

“The Liebster Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers…

Nominees of the Liebster Award must…

  1. Post 11 things about themselves.
  2. Answer the questions that the tagger/nominator has posted for them.
  3. Create 11 questions and choose (nominate) 11 blogs of 200 followers or less and link them in the post.
  4. Go to their page and tell them.

My 11 questions to you all

What is your favorite food to cook?

Lately it has been veggies.

What is your favorite food to eat?

Jelly or Jam, and specifically Ginger Jelly (I know really?)

What was your favorite childhood book?

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler by E. L Konigsburg

Why did you start your blog?

I turned 50 years old and I felt that I had no significance in the world. I have been told that I am funny,  have a talent with writing and good ideas. I thought the blog would help me express my feelings formally.

How do you decide what to cook?

My cooking is intuitional based. I grew up loving beets, green beans, cucumbers and corn because we grew them in our garden. I was in 4-H sewing, knitting, baking, and learning to cook anything with hamburgers or pork. I was raised on the outskirts of a small town with a state university, my Dad was a country boy and my Mom was a small city girl. I am a combo of city and country  – loving both.

How often do you go to the grocery store?

Anywhere from weekly to two to three times a week. Because I work full-time my “play time” in the kitchen varies from none to several times during the week.

What is your biggest dream?

I like living in a balance and I must have a creative outlet. I have this blog for my creative outlet but I also am a healthcare professional relishing in both worlds.

Recipes or no recipes?

If I get into a groove I can be inspired and throw ingredients together easily. When I’m stressed I have to look at the cookbook or recipe literally.

What is your favorite color?

Blue. It always has been and always be.

What do you hope comes out of your blogging?

I’m a late bloomer to writing and blogging. But, I have been told that I have an interesting point of view.

What is your favorite holiday?

St Patrick’s Day. My mother is Irish and her loves were a big influence in my life. I celebrated St Patrick’s Day this year in New Orleans. That was interesting. There were a total of four different St. Patrick’s Day parades in the city over the weekend. People throw cabbage as well as bead necklaces.

I nominate the following blogs for the Liebster Blog award:

Here are the following eleven questions to answer:

1. What is you go-to comfort food?

2. What recipe or food are you afraid to cook?

3. What is your favorite movie?

4. Are you a cat or dog person?

5. If you had a dinner party, which three  people would you invite (dead or alive) ?

6. If you won the lottery, how would you spend your money?

7. Who is your favorite TV chef?

8. What is your favorite candy?

9. What is your favorite childhood memory?

10. What was your favorite song?

11. What inspires you?

Happy Spring everyone!