How do you spell spelt?

Spelt is an ancient grain that is a distant cousin to wheat but existed centuries before. Hmmm…How did I stumble onto spelt?

Well I have experimented with my diet of late. My hairdresser told me about the Fast Metabolism Diet (FMD) and how she, her sister and mother had lost weight. She said it was quite healthy, so I had to check it out.

The FMD rotates in three phases by which to eat certain foods that will speed up your metabolism. My summary is this: you eat every 2-3 hours, no dairy, no flour, no soy, no corn products, no alcohol, and no sugar. You eat a lot of veggies, protein, drink lots of water and eat moderate amounts of fruit, oils, healthy grains like steel-cut oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, or spelt.

spelt flour

I’ve lost 5 lb. I’d like to lose 15 more, but I’m still working at. It is hard to go from semi-healthy eating to completely healthy habits in a month.

Anyhoo… I had to try a spelt recipe since I had never heard of it nor made a recipe out of it as yet. I was looking on Pinterest.com and came across Homemade Spelt Tortillas from fellow WordPress bloggers The Adventures of Z and K.

Spelt Flatbread

2 C spelt flour

3 TBSP olive oil

3/4 tsp salt

2/3 C water

Mix oil,salt and spelt flour together then mix in water a little at a time until incorporated, but not too sticky. Knead for 1-2 minutes, Rest for 20 minutes.

Cut the dough into 8 pieces with a pizza cutter. Roll out, flour the board or pastry cloth if it is sticky.

rolling tortillas

Heat a non-stick pan and brown for 1-2 minutes on each side.

spelt flatbread

Yummy flat bread!

Patty’s Points:

1. Spelt is not gluten-free. It is a cousin of wheat but people with wheat allergies do not have the same problem with spelt.

2. I found it easy to work with just like regular flour.

3. I heated up my pan initially really on high but had to turn it down to med-low, so as not to burn the bread. I found that 1 1/2 minutes on each side was perfect.

4. The hubby and dog loved the flatbread.

waiting for bread

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!

Fearless Cook Junior Edition

‘I want to learn to cook!’ my chip off the block chirped. Okay, Kate is 22 years old, she’s cooked before. During her college days she ate dorm food, made a few recipes I handed down to her, and tested the Pinterest web recipes.

She wants to feed herself in Veterinary Medicine School for the next four years. Her challenge for the this summer is to improve on cooking techniques,learn basic recipes and try to stay within a budget. My challenge is to give direction on what I’ve learned from trial and error in the kitchen.

See how enthusiastic she is?

Jr Fearless Cook

Here are all the recipes we’ve made individually and together.

Banana Bread

Chocolate chip and Peanut butter chip Banana Bread

omelets and falafels

Omelet with Falafel

beer batter cheese skillet bread

Skillet Beer Batter Cheese Bread from Quick Family Recipes

Nutella Bread

Nutella Swirled Banana Bread

radish, cucumber and apple salad

Red radish salad

Pork chops with the Dean brothers spice rub

Pork Chops with the Dean Brothers Dry spice rub

white chicken pizza

White Chicken pizza

cherry crisp pie

Cherry pie with almond crisp topping

frozen lemon yogurt

 Lemon Frozen Yogurt

Kate’s Komments:

1. Pitting the cherries for the cherry pie crisp was fun. About 10% of the cherries still had the pits inside despite using the cherry pitter.  We found two websites on how to pit cherries without  using a pitter at Our Best Bites and Baking Bites.  The cherries splattered juice everywhere while pitting them. We had just watched Django Unchained the night before and scenes from the movie came back to haunt us!

2. The Skillet Beer Batter Cheese Bread called for Gruyère cheese which was pretty tasty, but a little pricey for someone on a budget. For a similar and cheaper substitute use Swiss Cheese.

3. Her favorite recipe was the Nutella Banana Swirl Bread. Her mistake was that she set the oven for 250 degrees, not 350 degrees. The recipe in turn took longer to complete after she discovered  that the bread was still mushy inside and then adjusted the oven temp. As a taste tester, I thought the bread was delicious and moist. I didn’t know about the temperature error until much later. Gotta check the oven!  There are chocolate hazelnut butter knock-off brands that are cheaper.  They all vary in quality, so test out what brand you like.

4. Kate said she had never eaten a Falafel before and liked them. She also said she is not a fan of radishes, but we had them growing in the garden and we had to make something! She said the radishes were good as long as they were “hidden”.

5. Pizza is always a favorite and economical to make. We made a garlic butter sauce for the base of the crust. It was yummy with mozzarella cheese, basil leaves, halved yellow cherry tomatoes, red onion and grilled chicken thigh strips.

I bought her the America’s Test Kitchen ‘Quick Family Cookbook’ to take with her this fall. She loved leafing through the recipe book. The pictures are great with many step-by-step tips and techniques to master.

My parting wisdom: you can buy the ingredients to make your favorite recipes or you can look up recipes and decide what to make based on the ingredients you already have in your pantry. The key is use your ingredients thoughtfully. Way to go Fearless cook junior!

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