Grilled Kababs with the Durham Home Fries

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I know, it’s been a while since I’ve written a post. This class was given way back in June and I ask your forgiveness for taking so long to put up the wonderful pictures that Casey Boone took for me and the recipes that were generated by the IBM Chef Watson application. Please enjoy them and use your creativity to make them your own.

Kabobs are a great way to let everybody customize their meal and have a little fun trying new foods from our local farms when you get together. They work for kids and adults and allow teens the opportunity to venture out on their own and help with the cooking too! Whether you choose, vegetarian, fish, meat or poultry combinations, understanding size, temperature and the role that marinades and spices can play is critical to pulling off a great grilled kabob. And that’s what we worked on during our class in June.

As the weather turns cool, I’m reminded of my summer class with The Home Fries just as school ended for many of them. The morning started with a slight breeze as we pulled out the charcoal grill at the Durham Farmers’ Market and readied it with hot coals.

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While we waited for the coals to heat we shopped the market for a couple of items including parsley and onions. I’m reminded now of the beautiful celery, cabbage and carrots that were still coming in because farmers had planted late this year due to wet field conditions and a very late frost that killed many of the fruit blooms. There’s been some fall celery at the market lately that I love for fall soups. But in a pinch, those turnip stems you keep throwing out; save them in the freezer, chopped up and use them as a replacement when you run out of celery.

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Then we played ‘follow the leader’ through the community herb and orchard right beside the farmers’ market. Seeds established and maintains this garden for everyone to enjoy and the entire community is welcome to use it. The ‘Garden of Eatin’  sits just behind the covered pavilion where the vendors park and sell each week. It’s easily accessible from the sidewalk or the pavilion with a walking path through the center. There are fruit bushes & dwarf trees and herbs lining both sides with a variety of traditional and unexpected plants, like a goumi berry bush. On our short walk we were able to cut fresh rosemary, thyme and oregano for our recipes but there’s also cilantro and parsley integrated in the garden.

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When we got back to our tents, we talked about the recipes and came up with a production line for cutting all of our ingredients for Pork Sausage & White Turnip Kababs with Pesto and Beef Stew & Summer Veggie Kababs. Some of the kids cut up veggies, and some cut up herbs. I cheated and cut the meat ahead of time so we could keep it refrigerated safely.

The nice thing about both of the recipes, and many kabab combinations, is that you can cook the combinations in a foil package in the oven or in a cast iron pan as a stir fry if the weather is bad, or you don’t have access to a grill. Just remember to cook the meat, fish or poultry to a safe temperature inside the foil package or in the stir fry.

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A simple meat thermometer is inexpensive, battery operated, and very small. In most cases, moisture from the vegetables will keep everything from burning inside a foil package. As a side tip, I like to add a layer of parchment paper inside the foil to help retain then moisture and keep everything from sticking to the aluminum foil.

 

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We were fortunate to have been given the summer squash and zucchini by the folks at Eastern Carolina Organics for our class. ECO is made up of a group of farmers in our area that use organic methods to raise their produce. They sell in bulk to many of our local restaurants which helps local farms sell their bulk crops quickly when there’s more than they can sell at the market Their generosity left us enough budget money to pick up the meat for this class, which was a fun surprise for the kids. In fact, they gave us so many veggies that we were also able to send plenty home with each of the kids and a still have a little leftover to donate to Farmer Foodshare folks.

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With sharp knives in hand, bamboo sticks waiting to be filled and hot coals on the grill, the kids showed me how fast they could whip up perfect size chunks of onion, zucchini, summer squash and tomatoes. Many of the kids were repeat students so they were well versed in how to use a knife and assisted the kids that needed some help.

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We showed them how to spear everything with the wet bamboo sticks without stabbing themselves and put them on the grill. While they were cooking we talked about what flavors might work well together in different seasons. One idea was Goat and Cauliflower where the goat is soaked with cumin, garlic, yogurt and the cauliflower in olive oil with some curry spices and cubes of paneer. Or Lamb and Fig Kababs where the lamb is rubbed with allspice, cinnamon, and olive oil with a little garlic and the figs are fresh from the tree. Serving this with a little drizzle of balsamic olive oil to round out the flavors. Or substituting chicken or firm white fish in the beef recipe that we used with the summer vegetables but using a foil package to keep either from drying out or falling apart on the grill during the cooking process.

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We checked on them occasionally and waited pretty patiently until they were ready!

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And then we ate! My favorite part is seeing them all enjoy what they created and the wonderful face of success. It’s pretty easy to come up with a lot of different combinations by using applications like Pinterest or Instagram or visiting any number of food magazine websites that offer free content.

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For this class I used IBM’s Chef Watson application because it allows me to choose local seasonal ingredients and then it sort of magically comes up with many ideas for recipes. At that point I try to narrow down some combinations that I think the kids will enjoy and that they can easily recreate at home.

The possibilities are really endless and you can change the ingredients even after you select a recipe to match what is available at the market that week. Saving the combinations in your personal recipe box allows you to come back to them or share using the FaceBook link. What I have enjoyed most about using this for class is the ability to challenge myself and students to think about unusual pairings of foods that grow in season together to eat more healthy local food.

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Many thanks to the volunteers at the Durham Farmers’ Market that help pull this class off every summer no matter what the weather serves up! And also to my lovely photographer Casey Boone  who knows how to move around me without me noticing her. All of the photos are hers, so please respect her copyrights and ask permission before you use them. And to Eastern Carolina Organics that supplied us with enough veggies to feed a small army. They supply many of our local restaurants with local organically grown farm food and I would not have been able to teach this class without their support.

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Beef Stew & Summer Veggie Kababs

Ingredients for marinade, sauce and kabobs
1 lb of stew meat (fat trimmed), bite-size pieces
4-6 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper ( 4-blend pepper corns are preferred)
1/2 – 1 teaspoon fine salt (Himalayan preferred)
2-3 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped without stems
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

3 tablespoons lebnah (strained yogurt), sour cream or creme fraiche
1-2 teaspoon chopped garlic (or roasted garlic)
1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon salt

2 Sweet onions (red or yellow)
4-8 Summer squash, depending on size
4-8 Zucchini, depending on size
1 carton cherry tomatoes

Preparation

To make the meat marinade, combine the olive oil, salt, pepper, coriander, thyme and parsley and add the meat. Marinade for at least 24 hours until the meat absorbs the oil and spices. If the oil is not absorbed well, it will drip into the coals and cause flames in the grill. Some are fine, but not too many!

To make the garlic sauce that accompanies the kabob, mash the garlic into a paste with the salt. Then combine the paste with the lebnah. As an alternative, you could use quark and garlic and add both to the meat marinade and skip the sauce. The acid in the quark will help break down the tissue in the meat. If you choose to substitute chicken or fish in this recipe, you could probably skip the sauce altogether. It might be overpowering for either of those two proteins. If you choose to use lamb or goat in this recipe, then leave the sauce or add to both meats while marinating.

The vegetables should be on the smaller side so that you have a bit of skin holding the flesh together on the zucchini and squash. Cut them just a little larger than bite-size as they will be on the grill as long as the meat. The smaller sized onions should be left in larger chunks so they do not fall off of the skewers as they cook and have layers holding them together.

Soak your bamboo skewers in water for an hour before you start to grill. This will keep them from burning on the grill as flames flare up. Alternate one piece of meat for 3 veggies on your skewer or consider doing all veggies and all meat skewers. If you use this approach, leave a little space between the meat pieces so they cook from all sides evenly.

When your coals are hot, add your skewers, place the lid on the grill and make sure to open the vents so that the coals continue to burn. You can adjust the vents if the coals get too hot, or move them to the side and use an indirect cooking approach. Cook until the meat is to your desired temperature and the veggies are nicely browned. This is where a little thermometer comes in handy. Remove and plate or just eat off of the stick. If you have the ability to make rice or serve with a chilled pasta, it’s wonderful mixed all together.

Pork Sausage & White Turnip Kebabs with Pesto

Ingredients for kababs, sauce and optional items
1 lb of mild Italian Sausage in casings, cut into bite size pieces with the casing
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 – 1 teaspoon salt
1 – 3 teaspoons minced garlic
1 cup sweet onions cut into chunks
12 Hakurei Salad Turnips (small white)

1/2 cup Basil Pesto (or other pesto of your choice) for serving

Optional: Rice or Pasta for Stir Fry or Warm Salad

Preparation

Soak your bamboo skewers in water for an hour before you start to grill. This will keep them from burning on the grill as flames flare up. Alternate one piece of meat for 3 veggies on your skewer or consider doing all veggies and all meat skewers. If you use this approach, leave a little space between the meat pieces so they cook from all sides evenly.

Cut the sausage into bite-size chunks and set aside in a chilled cooler or refrigerator.
Cut the onions into chunks that can be speared on the bamboo stick without falling apart or use larger pieces and separate the layers and use a couple of larger layers instead of several smaller layers. Set aside.
Cut the white turnips in half or quarters so that they are just a bit larger than the sausage pieces.

Toss the turnips in olive oil, salt & pepper. You can adjust the salt & pepper to your taste by tasting a white turnip. They can be eaten raw. The sausage will already have enough salt and other spices in it. If you plan to use this recipe as a stir fry or cook in a covered package you may not need any salt & pepper because the sausage will transfer some spices to the vegetables.

Alternate meat and vegetables on the bamboo stick.
When your coals are hot, add your skewers, place the lid on the grill and make sure to open the vents so that the coals continue to burn. You can adjust the vents if the coals get too hot, or move them to the side and use an indirect cooking approach. Cook over a medium fire until the sausage is cooked through and the onions and turnips are nicely browned. You may get some burning on the onions, but don’t worry about it. This is where a little thermometer comes in handy to check your meat.

Remove the skewers and drizzle the pesto over the entire kabab.

If you have the ability to make rice or serve with pasta, it’s wonderful mixed all together as a warm salad that can be used on a buffet.

Posted in Beef, Chicken, Dinner, Fish, General, Gluten-Free, Lunch, Pork, Salads, Vegetarian, Year-Round | Leave a comment

3 Hummus Recipes for Carrboro’s “Market Bunch”

 

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First, let me thank the wonderful managers and support staff at Carrboro Farmers’ Market for making class time happen in the first place. It isn’t without a lot of planning, funding and support help that these classes happen at all. Kids are amazing when you give them a few choices about their food. They eat better than you would expect when good alternatives exist.

Second, I want to take a minute to thank the photographer Jenny Jaskolka. She came in at the last minute to help me and did a really wonderful job. There are so many photos I didn’t have space to use! It’s quite hard to get these pictures because all of us are moving around so quickly. As I always ask, please respect her artistic talent and photo copyrights. Ask permission before you use her work from this piece.

As school started back in the fall, the  Carrboro Farmers Market staff decided to add a line-up of classes after-school. Having hit a home-run during the summer season with their Saturday cooking program they thought they might give their kids another opportunity to hit it out of the park during the Wednesday afternoon markets for a few weeks while the weather was really nice.

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I tried to come up with something fun that the kids could make their own and use for lunch or after-school snacks. And hopefully that will be the last of the sports references. But seriously, parents have a difficult time figuring out all the meals that kids eat on a busy day without it getting boring. My suggestion; Pick a couple of favorites and have the kids alter the ingredients at least once a week on the same recipe. It’s pretty easy to do with the seasonal vegetables at the market.

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As the kids arrive, they wash their hands at the neatest little hand-washing station. Once the kids have their aprons tied, hands washed, and safety rules reviewed, we’re able to start chopping vegetables.

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IMG_7756.JPGWith plenty of room in the gazebo, all of the kids had an opportunity to chop, sauté veggies, measure spices and blend. Tasting spoons are on hand for the kids to test as they are blending so they can adjust the salt, pepper and other spices in the recipe and note changes.  

 

While I was going through ideas for the hummus I thought I might use lentils instead of chickpeas and tahini because many kids don’t like those two flavors.

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Three ideas that I came up with using IBM’s Chef Watson seemed perfect for the class. There was a lot of chopping, seasoning and blending for each. The kids can adapt the recipes as we are cooking to the veggies we picked up at the market and the spices we have available. 

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And hummus is a great make ahead snack for lunch containers where each person can add a little more or less spice to their portion.

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When you think of hummus, you probably think of tahini and chickpeas. But these recipes focus on lentils and seasonal veggies for flavor and color. The lentils are less bold than chickpeas and still blend smoothly with a variety of cooked vegetables. They are nutritious, inexpensive, used throughout the world and easy for young hands.

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We focused on three types of lentils for class: red- which are really kind of orange juice colored, French- which are like dark murky water colored, and golden- which are the color of the sun.

 

 

 

The flavor and texture of each of these lentils is important to the type of vegetable we added for each recipe. But each recipe is designed to be modified throughout the year and even use frozen veggies if there is one you like more.

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Veggie broth was used to cook all of the lentils, but water or chicken/rabbit stock works equally well. All three types of lentils were cooked until they were soft so they would blend up well with the vegetables  using a small food processor. The red ones take the least amount of time because they are just smaller. And they work well with winter squash, summer tomatoes or cauliflower in soups. The yellow lentils can be cooked until they are barely soft and served as a substitute for couscous. Their flavor is creamy. Kind of like grits, which is probably why I like to use them so much at home. The French lentils are generally used in soups to add some body and they stay firm in the broth.

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Of course, the market managers always have some activities planned to keep the kids engaged and when class is over, the kids are given tokens to spend with the vendors. All of these activities are funded by the market through the market’s ‘Perennial Program’ and annual ‘Harvest Dinner’. I would encourage you to look at the classes for your school aged children and at supporting the market’s funding through any number of programs.

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PattyPan Squash & Golden Lentil Hummus

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup raw Petite Golden Lentils
  • 1 1/3 cups water or vegetable stock
  • 2 cups chopped raw Patty Pan squash
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped raw sweet onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon dried Aleppo chile
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil

Preparation

  • Prepare lentils by simmering in stock with the lid on the pot for about 15 minutes until quite tender making sure to avoid burning. Let them sit with the lid on the pot until you need them so they do not dry out.
  • Slowly sauté the onion and squash with 1 tablespoon olive oil, oregano, cumin, coriander, chile, salt and pepper until they are very soft, about 15 minutes.
  • Combine 1/2 cup of the cooked lentils (there will be leftover lentils) with the cooked squash and onion mixture along with the dried pear and 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil into a small food processor and blend until creamy.
  • If the mixture becomes too thin, add more lentils. If it becomes to thick and doesn’t seem light, add a bit more olive oil.
  • Season with additional salt & pepper to taste. Serve.

Link to inspiration recipe for PattyPan Squash Hummus from IBM Chef Watson:

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Butternut Squash & Red Lentil Hummus

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup raw Red Lentils
  • 1 1/3 cup water or vegetable stock
  • 1 – 1 1/3 cups roasted butternut squash or 2 cups raw chopped
  • 1 – 3 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup raw chopped sweet onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon roasted garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans (or almonds)
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried pear
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger – optional
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil (optional topping for serving)

Preparation

  • Prepare lentils by simmering in stock with the lid on the pot for about 15 minutes until they are quite tender, making sure to avoid burning. Let them sit with the lid on the pot until you need them so they do not dry out.
  • Slowly sauté the onion in 1 tablespoon olive oil until translucent and soft.
    If using raw butternut squash, either roast it with maple syrup and olive oil or sauté it slowly with olive oil until it is quite soft.
  • In a food processor, blend 1/2 – 3/4 cup of cooked red lentils (there will be leftover lentils) with the butternut squash, onion, maple syrup (if you didn’t roast it with maple syrup), cooked onion, roasted garlic, cumin, raw or toasted pecans (or almonds), dried apple, additional olive oil and fresh ginger (optional) until smooth.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste, starting with about 1/4 teaspoon salt & 1/8 teaspoon pepper. This will be a little more sweet than savory.
  • To make it a bit more savory, top with a bit of toasted sesame oil before serving.

Link to inspiration recipe for Butternut Squash Hummus from IBM Chef Watson

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Eggplant, Pepper & French Lentil Hummus

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup raw French Lentils
  • 1 1/3 cups water or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup grilled, sautéed or roasted Fairytale / Rosa Bianca Eggplant (1 cup raw chopped)
  • 1/2 cup sautéed or roasted Pimente or other sweet pepper (1 cup raw chopped)
  • 1/2 cup raw chopped sweet onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon dried Aleppo chile
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (eliminate if fresh is not available)
  • 2 juniper berries, chopped or ground
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon sweet Hungarian Paprika
  • 1/8-1/4 cup dried apple
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Preparation

  • Prepare lentils by simmering in stock with the lid on the pot for about 15-20 minutes until they are quite tender and leave the lid on as they rest.
  • Slowly sauté the onion, sweet peppers, and eggplant in olive oil until they are tender. Be sure to use a Rosa, Fairytale or other light skinned eggplant which has a mild flavor and is less bitter than the traditional dark purple eggplants. The skins are thinner and the flesh has fewer seeds and is less bitter by using the mixed skin or lighter purple eggplant and the sweeter pimento and Italian peppers. You can add salt and pepper to this process.
  • In a food processor, blend 1/2 – 3/4 cup of the cooked French lentils (there will be leftovers) with the eggplant, peppers, onion, chile, parsley, juniper berries, dried apple, 1/4 teaspoon salt & 1/8 teaspoon pepper with the additional 3 tablespoons olive oil until smooth.
  • The amount and variety of dried apple will change the flavor of the recipe.
  • It may be possible to substitute apple juice or unsweetened plain apple sauce in this recipe.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and sweet Hungarian Paprika.
  • For additional heat, try adding some red pepper flakes or add some hot smoked paprika.

Link to inspiration recipe for Eggplant Hummus from IBM Chef Watson

IBM Chef Watson is free to anyone with a FaceBook account. It uses the recipes from Bon Appetit as a base for creating new recipes along with lots of other data. You can use it to help you change an existing recipes or create a new one. The interface is simple enough for

Posted in Appetizer, Diabetic Friendly, Events, General, Lunch, Recipes, Second Harvest, Sides, Snack, Vegetarian, Year-Round | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

WWFM Fathers’ Day Frittatas at Cary’s UNC Wellness Center

Group photo UNC Wellness Center

Western Wake Farmers’ Market Cooking Class at UNC Wellness Center in Cary. Photo copyright Casey Boone Photography.

Just prior to Fathers’ Day this year, I had an opportunity to make some wonderful Frittatas with a great group of local kids at the UNC Wellness Center in Cary. This class was part of a new youth cooking program hosted by the Western Wake Farmers’ Market at their second location. What a treat to work in a real kitchen designed for teaching with lots of equipment and tables!

WWFM Cooking Class at the UNC Wellness Center in Cary. Photo copyright Casey Boone Photography.

WWFM Cooking Class at the UNC Wellness Center in Cary. Photo copyright Casey Boone Photography.

 

We started the class by talking about what sort of food we enjoyed eating and cooking the most. I’m pretty sure our group was a bit tainted (in a good way) being at the UNC Wellness Center! The kids were a little surprised to find out that we were going to use duck eggs from the farmers’ market instead of chicken eggs for our frittatas. But they couldn’t see any difference except the eggs were bigger and the yolks were more toward an orange color. I brought along some dehydrated cherry tomatoes for them to taste and compare against the fresh ones from the market. We also picked up squash and greens to add more texture and color to our frittatas.

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A class like this is where IBM’s Cognitive Cooking program “Chef Watson” is really fun to use. You’ll start by asking the program to use between one and four of specific ingredients you have on hand. In our case, we used just a couple ingredients we planned to get from the farmers’ market. The application will generate ideas for additional ingredients before it creates new recipes. You have the option to either select a dish or allow the application to create recipes without any requirements other than the ingredient list. I’ve found it useful to ask for some alternative dishes that might use similar ingredients, because the program will create additional combinations that might be useful. There’s even a neat wheel that shows how well the ingredients pair as you change them, based on the computer’s chemical analysis of the food. Once you find a recipe that you like, you can go in and make further changes to individual ingredients, based on the application’s suggestions for substitutes and ultimately save your personalized recipe into your file folder. From the file folder, you can share the recipe with others or post it to a public site for anyone to view. Pretty cool. And I think it’s a great way to get kids interested in creative cooking!

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Washing fresh veggies from WWFM. Photo copyright Casey Boone Photography.

Fresh herbs for frittatas

 

 

 

 

 

 

We talked about different types of locally grown potatoes and how the color can work in your favor. And onion variaties that can change the sweetness of your dish. We smelled some fresh herbs and and noted differences in our cheeses. As a group, this helped us understand the pairings that Chef Watson made and how we could adapt them for local ingredients from the farmers’ market.

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Cutting fresh veggies from WWFM. Photo copyright Casey Boone Photography.

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Cutting veggies from WWFM. Photo copyright Casey Boone Photography.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone took turns washing and cutting up the  veggies from Meadow Lane Farm & Jones Farm.

 

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Shredding cheese from Piemonte Farm from the WWFM. Photo copyright Casey Boone Photography.

Piemonte Farm Cheese

Lots of wonderful cheese from Piemonte Farm!

 

 

 

 

 

 

and shredding the Old Glencoe & Don Agustin cheese from Piemonte Farm,

 

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Beating duck eggs from The Grange / WWFM vendor. Photo copyright Casey Boone Photography.

beating eggs UNC Wellness Center

Beating duck eggs from The Grange. Photo copyright Casey Boone Photography.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and  beating duck eggs from The Grange Farm.

 

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A little oil in the pan to get started. Photo copyright Casey Boone Photography.

Then we preheated the ovens to 400F and started warming up the cast iron pans to saute the veggies. For a frittata you have to cook everything fully before you put it into the mixture. The veggies, meat and herbs don’t have time to cook very much once they are added to the frittata.  With so many hands during class, the process went quickly and we finished with the vegetable just about the time the ovens signaled they were up to temperature.

 

 

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Brushing the oil to cover the entire pan. Photo copyright Casey Boone Photography.

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Picking out the ingredients for the frittata. Photo copyright Casey Boone Photography.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the veggies were finished, it was time to oil the pan a bit more. It’s really important to brush the oil all of the way up the sides so the egg doesn’t stick in the cooking process. Don’t skimp on the oil or butter at this stage. the pan clean-up goes much quicker if the frittata just pops out when it’s finished.

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Pouring the eggs into the hot pan. Photo copyright Casey Boone Photography.

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Getting a second frittata started! Photo copyright Casey Boone Photography.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first thing you’ll do after getting the pan oiled and warmed up again is to put your veggies back into the pan if you have taken them out. Then add the half of the cheese and herbs and quickly pour the egg mixture into the pan on top of your filling. The egg will start to set up immediately and as it does, in the first couple of minutes, add the remaining cheese and herbs. You’ll cook it on the stove top for no more than four minutes, making sure you get the egg and filling mixed together a little with a spatula. Then pop it into the hot oven, carefully, to avoid spilling the egg out the sides. Then set the timer and watch the frittata balloon upwards. It’s tempting to let it get all lovely and brown, but don’t! It will be over-cooked and dry. As soon as the center looks remotely firm, pull that cast iron pan out of the oven and let it cool on the stove top for a couple of minutes. It will continue to cook because the cast iron pan holds the heat. Then simply cut out wedges or serve up individual frittatas. We were really fortunate to have an expert young chef that pulled every frittata out perfectly without me even checking!

Enjoying frittatas at UNC Wellness Center

Sample Time! Photo copyright Casey Boone Photography.

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Enjoying seconds! Photo copyright Casey Boone Photography.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Eating! I’ve included the recipes we used in class which I modified a bit from the Chef Watson application (remember I was using a beta version!) And I’ve included links to other frittata recipes I pulled during my preparation for the class. Have fun trying them or making up your own.

 

 

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Summer Squash & Ricotta Frittata

Ingredients
  • 1 cup chopped fresh summer squash & zucchini (bite size or sliced)
  • 1/4 cup fresh onions, chopped or thinly sliced
  • 1/8 cup dehydrated chopped cherry tomatoes (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (or butter / jowl fat)
  • 4 eggs (1 cup) beaten with 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup Piemonte Farm Ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup Piemonte Farm Don Agustin cheese
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh thyme, basil or other summer herbs
Preparation
  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • Using a small 7″ cast iron pan, heat the olive oil or other fat until it is hot but not smoking.
  • Add the vegetables and saute until they are tender, seasoning well with the salt & pepper.
  • Before proceeding, make sure the pan is well oiled all the way to the top of the sides to avoid having the eggs and cheese stick as they cook.
  • Add 1/2 cup of the cheese (or a blend of cheeses), 1/2 the herbs, tomato, and 1/4 teaspoon salt  to the eggs.
  • Pour liquid egg mixture into the hot pan with the vegetables.
  • Using a spatula, make sure to lift some of the veggies so the egg mixture can flow around the bottom of the pan. Work quickly and only for the first minute.
  • Add the remainder of the cheese and fresh herbs to decorate the top. Leave on the stove top no more than 4 minutes just to have the bottom set.
  • Put into the oven to bake for about 10 minutes, give or take a minute. Watch for the edges to pull away slightly from the pan and rise a bit. Do not cook until there is any browning, as it will be too dry. The frittata will continue to back once removed from the oven so pull it out when it is yellow and firm. Cool for about five minutes before slicing.
  • Serve warm with a salad, black beans or soup
Quark Frittata with Potatoes & Onions
Ingredients
  • 4 ounces fresh fingerling potatoes (or small purple, red, yellow)
  • 1/2 cup fresh onions, sliced thinly or well chopped
  • 1/ tablespoon bacon fat or olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8  teaspoon pepper
  • 1/16 teaspoon hot paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chives, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon pimento peppers, roasted & chopped (optional)
  • 4 eggs, well beaten with 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup Chapel Hill Creamery Quark
  • 1/2 cup Chapel Hill Creamery Thunderhill Swiss, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary finely chopped
Preparation
  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Using a small 7″ cast iron pan heat the olive oil or bacon fat until it’s hot but not smoking.
  • Add the potatoes and onions and cook until tender, seasoning well with salt & pepper, half the thyme & rosemary.
  • Add the paprika and stir.
  • Mix the quark into the beaten eggs and pour into the hot pan with the potatoes and onions. Immediately drop in 1/4 cup of the shredded cheese (reserve 1/4 cup for the top).
  • Stir the eggs gently for about a minute to lift the potatoes and onions into the egg mixture and then sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese and herbs on the top. Do not cook more than 4 minutes on the stove top.
  • Put the pan into the oven and bake for 10 minutes until the edges just start to pull away from the side of the pan. Do not brown the top or it will be over cooked. The frittata will continue to cook a minute or two when it comes out of the oven. Cool for about 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
  • Serve warm with a salad or as a side to a meat entree.

 

Pizza Frittata with Tomato, Eggplant & Basil
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/2 cup grilled eggplant, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves
  • 4 eggs, well beaten with 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • (feta would be excellent as a substitution for part of both cheeses)
Preparation
  • Preheat the oven to 350F
  • Using a small 7″ cast iron pan, heat the olive oil until the pan is hot but not smoking.
  • Add the sliced tomatoes with salt & pepper along with the pre-grilled eggplant. Just warm through to release some of the juice.
  • Add the beaten eggs and half of the shredded mozzarella & ricotta cheeses along with the basil.
  • Stir gently for just a minute so the eggs and cheese blend with the vegetables and herbs. Then stop and add the remainder of the cheese to the top evenly. Do not cook on the stove top for more than 4 minutes.
  • Put the hot pan into the oven and bake for about 10 minutes until the sides look firm and just begin to pull away from the edges.
  • Pull out of the oven and let it cool for about five minutes. It will continue to cook in the hot pan while cooling.
  • Slice and serve

 

Other Chef Watson Frittata Ideas: 

Bacon & Cabbage Frittata

Basil & Mozzarella Frittata

Swiss Chard & Feta Frittata

Posted in Breakfast, Diabetic Friendly, General, Gluten-Free, Recipes, Vegetarian, Year-Round | Leave a comment

Spaghetti for Breakfast with the Durham Home Fries

 

Around the beginning of the year, market managers start looking for local chefs to teach summer classes. I used to do a couple of demos a week around the state from early spring to early winter. That’s the sort of schedule that makes you appreciate what local farmers do to prepare for multiple markets each week of the year.  Now I teach a lesson a month with a group of young folks and it’s a lot of fun because many of the kids cook at home and bring their own experiences to class.

DFM Carbonara Class 2015

The Durham Farmers’ Market has been giving these free classes for a few years. Some other markets have added classes over the years, gathering local chefs to teach. Carrboro Farmers’ Market program was so popular that they filled all the spots in their summer program before summer even started! Western Wake Farmers’ Market has paired with the UNC/Wellness Center in Cary to deliver classes in a kitchen space designed for teaching. Most classes are outside. We use a combination of camp stoves, butane burners, and charcoal grills for cooking.

Cutting cheese July 2015

All three of these markets offer hands-on classes where the kids get a chance to shop, clean, cut, blend, grill, and cook local ingredients. It’s an opportunity to connect with creative young minds and explore food pairings and techniques they might not have tried at home or at school. This is the beginning of a path based on local food that they will hopefully build on and adapt throughout their life.

Normally there’s just an hour or less to do the actual cooking after we gather up the ingredients and talk about the recipe. The knives, cutting boards, and other ‘essential’ tools we find in our own kitchens are diversified, but at the market, you’ve got miniature versions of these items to fit smaller hands. Giving each participant time to practice each step means you need a recipe that is fairly easy and flexible in case someone dislikes one or more of the ingredients or needs some extra time to engage in a new skill.

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Saturday was toasty and humid by 10 am and most of the farmers had already been up a few hours packing the trucks, driving, unloading and filling orders from local restaurants and market patrons. The market was crowded, so it was kind of a challenge to take a dozen of us around the market together. The kids were great and we managed to pick up our ingredients from each of the farms quickly. All of the farmers graciously spent  time talking with us. I don’t think you can replace that sort of interaction at any grocery store.

Gathering up our food in a little card board box, we went to our tents and spread out around both sides of the tables. The kids put on gloves, which didn’t last long in the heat. And they got their knives and boards ready. A few volunteered to wash and dry the veggies and eggs. We try to give each of the kids time to try out every part of the process. Most of them enjoy chopping up veggies and carefully pulling the leaves off of herbs. But not all of them want to break or whisk eggs, so they get to do other things like grate the cheese or cook the pasta.

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So far, I’ve had fun teaching classes on smoothies, frittatas, raw noodle salads, grilled flatbread pizzas, tapas, and this week, spaghetti for breakfast at the Durham Market. AKA Carbonara as the adults know this dish. Any season is perfect for carbonara. Fresh and aged cheeses are plentiful at the farmers’ markets, along with an assortment of meats and vegetables throughout the year that can be used.

Carbonara started life as a simple meal that shepherds could make while herding their flocks across the landscape for days on end. Using cured meats, foraged eggs, dry pasta and cheese, this meal is typically made in one pot. It’s the perfect recipe for any season if you think a little outside the box. Perfect for Chef Watson too, because this class required a vegetarian recipe. Gone was the smoky pork you normally think of using in a traditional carbonara recipe. My standard sub for this element is shiitake mushrooms sliced thin and cooked fast in hot olive oil with Alder wood smoke salt and Mesquite & Applewood smoked peppercorns. This combination seems to yield a crisp texture and smokey flavor to contrasts the creamy cheese sauce.

imageAfter a year of working with Chef Watson as a beta tester, I am pretty good at manipulating the program to find substitutes on my own, but the latest version, the one all of you can sign up to use, provides a window for each ingredient where you can select an alternative. The program will reconfigure the recipe each time you make a new selection. Easy, even for young chefs to use!

This is where IBM’s Chef Watson and the teacher blend. Giving kids permission to break out of a standard rule book of recipes and create something new on their own. The teacher brings some easy techniques and parameters to help the kids be successful in the kitchen. The computer application helps identify new combinations that we might not have originally considered. Experimentation with local farm food. I can’t imagine anything more fun!

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All the kids had a wonderful time sharing stories about summer farm camps and their cooking adventures. Spreading the word about local food is part of the charm of these classes and what makes this experience unique among others.

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Most of the kids came back for seconds or grabbed a plate for their parents which was a good sign. Remember that you can change the greens with each season. The mushrooms can be cooked and refrigerated or frozen in advance and any local ones will work. Fresh herbs are available almost year round, but dried will work just fine. And this is great with or without the farmers’ mustard. The one I like to use is most like a Country Dijon, but not quite as spicy. Our eggs were fresh, but frozen, beaten eggs tend to be more creamy from freezing, so consider putting some up for this and other baked recipes when they are plentiful at the market.

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Spaghetti for Breakfast or Carbonara at the Farmers’ Market

Ingredients

  • 1 lb fresh spaghetti or 6-8 oz dry spaghetti
  • 1/2-3/4 cup cooked chopped shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 cups julienne cut spinach
  • 1/4 cup julienne cut fresh basil or parsley
  • 1-2 teaspoons farmers’ mustard (or dijon country style)
  • 3-4 eggs at room temperature
  • 1/2- 3/4 cup grated Chapel Hill Creamery Calvander grated or Asia type local cheese
  • 1 cup pasta water
  • Optional Addition:  1/4- 1/2 cup grated smoked local Farmers’ Cheese from Chapel Hill Creamery, Lindale / Gruyere from Goat Lady Dairy or Campo from Boxxcar Creamery
  • Optional Addition: 1/4- 1/2 cup bacon pieces (or slab cut up into pieces)
  • Olive Oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt &  1/4 teaspoon Pepper

Preparation

  • Rinse & cut all of the greens and herbs. Set aside.
  • With a damp paper towel, gently clean the mushrooms and thinly slice the tops (save the stems for stock or to cook slowly until tender for another meal).
  • In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs until they are blended. Add the grated cheese, salt & pepper. Set aside.
  • Sauté the mushroom slices in olive oil for a couple of minutes on high heat, until they are cooked through and a little crispy. Remove from heat and chop. Set aside.
  • If you are using raw meat, cut it up into bite size pieces and cook on medium heat until completely cooked through, about 5 minutes
  • Cook spaghetti according to the package directions in boiling water.
  • Drain the spaghetti, saving a couple of cups of the hot pasta water to temper the eggs & cheese.
  • Put the drained spaghetti back into the hot pot with a splash of pasta water so it doesn’t stick and add the mushrooms and greens.
  • Add about 1/4 cup of hot pasta water to the egg and cheese mixture to temper the eggs, bringing them up in temperature so they do not scramble when they are added to the hot pot. Quickly pour the eggs and cheese into the hot pasta. Stir vigorously so the eggs adhere to the pasta and form a creamy sauce. Thin the sauce with more pasta water if it appears to be thick. The hot pasta will cook the eggs in a matter of a couple of minutes.
  • Serve warm.

Notes

Frozen, beaten eggs that are thawed create a more creamy sauce than fresh eggs. The freezing process changes the consistency of the egg yolks. Dry pasta will absorb the egg sauce better and is more authentic for this dish that was historically prepared by shepherds in the field moving flocks.

Alternatives

Try adding chopped dehydrated Sun Gold tomatoes, herbs and bacon pieces with some greens – think BLT.  Or, change the original recipe to oyster mushrooms and add chopped chicken and thinly sliced greens – think Chicken Florentine. How about leftover meatloaf crumbled into the dish with sautéed onions or fresh chives and thyme?  I’ve added links to some other alternatives that Chef Watson came up with when I was planning my class.

Durham Farmers’ Market Vendors 

 

Other Chef Watson Recipes for Carbonara by a different name:

Mushroom Spaghetti with Creamy Eggs & Herbs

Spaghetti Pasta with Fried Eggs & Goat Cheese

Spaghetti Carbonara with Sausage

Posted in Breakfast, Chicken, Dinner, Egg, General, Lunch, Pork, Recipes, Seasonal Eating, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

IBM’s Chef Watson & Girl Scout Badge Challenge

Girl Scouts Class. Copyright & permission to reproduce: CaseyBoonePhotography.com

Girl Scout Class. Copyright & permission to reproduce: CaseyBoonePhotography.com

 

 

 

 

An unusual request to teach a girl scout troop came up a  few weeks back. They were working on a set of badges that required the use of local food and adapting old recipes from another country. They choose to work with traditional recipes from Spain in the 1900’s as their starting point. Morphing these into something they might eat today seemed a little daunting, but it turned out to be a lot of fun and a good teaching assignment. The girls shopped the farmers’ market before class with their troop leaders and found all of the local ingredients we needed for the meal, just as they would have a hundred years ago.  We previously selected a set of recipes that seemed seasonal enough to replicate in some way depending on what they found during their shopping trip so there was a little flexibility built into the lesson. The recipes included a couple of ideas using rice, black beans, and shrimp. For dessert we simply picked some common elements in recipes that included cakes and fresh boards of cheese and nuts. That made my job, of creating updated recipes, much easier. I felt like this would be a good challenge for IBM’s Chef Watson application because the latest version has the ability to specify up to four ingredients along with more detail about the type of dish and some regional choices for cultural changes. With these options, it’s possible to let the computer program come up with variations on a theme that are based on culture or season with some experience.

Relaxing on the porch after dessert. Image by CaseyBoonePhotography.com. All rights reserved

Relaxing on the porch during dinner. Image by CaseyBoonePhotography.com. All rights reserved

 

 

Spain is known for small plates and lots of conversation during a meal. With a three-hour class window, it was pretty easy to embrace this cultural exchange as a part of the lesson. Dinner followed a leisurely pace as we made adjustments to the recipes for each course. All in all, a pretty enjoyable way to conduct a cooking lesson.

Leaning to skin a peach. Image by CaseyBoonePhotography.com. All rights reserved

Learning to skin a peach. Image by CaseyBoonePhotography.com. All rights reserved

Green Smoothies made with chard, strawberries, peaches, lemon verbena, pineapple sage, dried apples, coconut water. Image copyright CaseyBoonePhotography.com

Green Smoothies with chard, turnip greens, strawberries, peaches, lemon verbena, pineapple sage, dried apples, coconut water. Image copyright CaseyBoonePhotography.com

Now we all think Spanish dishes are synonymous with tomatoes. But, there are many early dishes where tomatoes were never used simply because they were not grown. Many Spanish meals rely on seafood because so much of the land is boarded by water. Seasonal greens play a predominant role as well.  As I looked through history websites and reviewed recipes, one that looked promising was a chilled green gazpacho.

 

I’ve probably mentioned before that I think of soup in much the same way that I think about smoothies. The sum of the parts, balanced properly, can be morphed from soup to smoothie to frozen pop, depending on the weather and what’s available. So when the girls brought in a mountain of baby chard from Wild Onion Farms along with late strawberries and early peaches, I pulled up some recipes I had stored in Chef Watson’s recipe box and with the girls, compared them to the traditional soup recipes that I found on a Spanish history website. With just a bit of tweaking, it was pretty easy to move the traditional savory chilled soup to a refreshing chilled Rainbow Chard Strawberry Peach Smoothie.

Chopping fresh strawberries. Image by CaseyBoonePhotography.com. All rights reserved

Chopping fresh strawberries. Image by CaseyBoonePhotography.com. All rights reserved

The girls cleaned the greens, learned how to skin a peach, and chopped the strawberries. After reviewing the recipes one last time, we proceeded down the rabbit hole of measuring. Which means, we didn’t. Bad habit that I thank my Grandmother for daily. Except in this case it worked fine and taught the girls how to taste and adjust a recipe on the fly. In these situations, it’s important to think about the ratios. How much liquid to frozen fruit or fresh fruit before you bind the blender and it won’t mix? And how many greens before a drink becomes ugly or doesn’t taste good? We looked closely at the examples in front of us and proceeded. I warned the girls that it might not be pretty.

 

A good 'pour' of honey from The Carolina Bee Company. Image by CaseyBoonePhotography.com. All rights reserved.

A good ‘pour’ of honey from The Carolina Bee Company. Image by CaseyBoonePhotography.com. All rights reserved.

Mixing chard with dried apples, strawberries, peaches, honey and coconut water in the VitaMix made the ‘cooking’ fast and showed the girls how to turn a ‘raw’ meal into a nutritious and quenching drink. According to Chef Watson, some other alternatives might include figs, apple cider, and pears in late summer. Maple syrup or sorghum would be a nice alternative in the fall or winter months. As we started to blend the fruit and greens, it became pretty clear that the beautiful red strawberries and ripe yellow peaches were not going to hold their color against the greens. Let’s just say that it was not a pretty smoothie. This is the point where you wish you had cups with lids. We poured it over ice in vintage glasses, added straws, and surprisingly, the girls gulped it down, despite the color, and raved about it all evening. Who knew? Chef Watson, apparently.

 

Shelling the shrimp for the grill. Image by CaseyBoonePhotography.com. All rights reserved

Shelling the shrimp for the grill. Image by CaseyBoonePhotography.com. All rights reserved

As we began preparing the main dishes, all of the girls had an opportunity to help chop, mix and cook the dishes they were most interested in, including cleaning and threading the shrimp on skewers. This process proved to be most entertaining for all of us and the girls managed to keep all of the shells and legs separated from the part we planned to cook.

 

Threading shrimp on skewers. Image by CaseyBoonePhotography.com. All rights reserved

Threading shrimp on skewers. Image by CaseyBoonePhotography.com. All rights reserved

Moving on to the next course I had a surprise in store for the girls. Never having made either ink pasta or ink rice, I picked up some squid ink to add to our locally grown rice. I tried hard to find a local replacement for this ingredient that would add the flavor that squid ink has, but could not find a suitable substitute, so I did break down and buy the dry squid ink from the store. The recipe that Chef Watson pulled together suggested using zucchini blossoms along with feta, garlic, green onion, and thyme. We eliminated the blossoms. Feta from Prodigal Farm, roasted garlic from Waterdog Farm and fresh thyme from the garden created the most wonderful rice dish that paired well with the shrimp and black beans.

 

Grilled shrimp from Locals Seafood with a bit of salt, pepper, sweet paprika. Image by CaseyBoonePhotography.com. All rights reserved

Grilled shrimp from Locals Seafood with a bit of salt, pepper, sweet paprika. Image by CaseyBoonePhotography.com. All rights reserved

 

Grilling is common in Spain. The girls were given the option of outdoor grilling or indoor sautéing with the shrimp.Most of the girls had not worked with raw shrimp so they learned how to pull the legs off and then the shell. Fortunately our friends at Locals Seafood had already taken care of the heads. The girls wanted to grill and they wanted something less spicy so we modified the recipe to use sweet paprika instead of hot.

Sauteed mushrooms and onions mixed with the grilled shrimp along with some fresh herbs create a light entree dish that pairs well with the black beans and black rice. Image by CaseyBoonePhotography.com. All rights reserved

Sauteed mushrooms, onions and bacon mixed with the grilled shrimp along with some fresh herbs create a light entree dish that pairs well with the black beans and black rice. Image by CaseyBoonePhotography.com. All rights reserved

To go with the grilled shrimp we used a recipe from Chef Watson for Shrimp Risotto. The ingredients included mushrooms, onions, bacon, basil, stock and cream. The original recipe also called for butternut squash, but the girls elected to leave it out, because we had used sweet paprika instead of hot.  One of the unique things about using this application is that it pushes you to be more creative and it also allows you to find alternatives easily. In our version of the recipe, the lack of hot paprika didn’t require a sweet to balance to flavor.

Adding local onions and pasture raised bacon to the black beans. Image by CaseyBoonePhotography.com. All rights reserved

Adding local onions and pasture raised bacon to the black beans. Image by CaseyBoonePhotography.com. All rights reserved

With the rice cooking away, I showed the girls how to use the other ingredients from the farmers market to flavor the black beans. Our black beans were locally grown on Cohen Farm by one of their staff. They are hand-picked, cleaned and dried in small batches. They are so fresh that you only need to soak them about thirty minutes before cooking them for another thirty. Some chopped sweet onions, roasted garlic and a few onion tops for color along with fresh pork bacon from Walk Ahead Farms and Alder wood smoked salt at the very end along with Mesquite & Apple smoked peppercorns (from Savory Spice) make them taste like they came off of the bond fire.

Small plates. Image by CaseyBoonePhotography.com. All rights reserved.

Small plates. Image by CaseyBoonePhotography.com. All rights reserved.

 

The girls continued to talk and stir our risotto mixture, (minus the pasta) while they drank their smoothies. Adding the grilled chopped shrimp to the blend of mushrooms, bacon and onions might not have been at the top of my list for a pairing, but I have to admit that the Chef Watson application really came through with a delightful combination. The cooking lesson went well and we all learned a little more about the science of food.

Fresh Quark Cheese topped with honey, strawberries, pecans, lemon verbena. Image by CaseyBoonePhotography.com All rights reserved

Fresh Quark Cheese topped with honey, strawberries, pecans, lemon verbena. Image copyright Susan Walter Sink.

To finish off the meal, and to the surprise of the girls, I had picked up Quark from Chapel Hill Creamery for class. Quark is used extensively in Spanish cuisine and I found several cakes and savory dishes that use this light and creamy cheese. My first intention was to make a Quark Cake, but time was slipping by quickly in class. The temperatures were warm that day and the girls were happy to try something seasonal and easy. We used many of the cake ingredients to make a healthy and current dessert. Spanish folks are famous for eating cheese, fruit and nut plates to finish a meal, so we decided to combine the idea of a cheese plate and cake to make Quark Sundaes with local honey, pecans, strawberries and fresh herbs.

 

Posted in Appetizer, Breakfast, Diabetic Friendly, Dinner, Drinks, General, Recipes, Seasonal Eating, Summer | Leave a comment

Quark Waffles, an accidental recipe from Chef Watson

Along the way of developing the Quark Pancake recipe for the Carrboro Farmers’ Market Cooking Class, an accident happened. The IBM Cognitive Cooking program, Chef Watson, doesn’t always specify ingredients in detail. It’s a beta program, so I expect  to work around the challenges and try things to see what works best. The case in point here is the flour needed to make pancakes. The program lists several types of flours, but I didn’t want to limit the results by requesting one flour over another initially, so I picked out a generic ingredient and let the computer doing the selections based on its resources. The cool thing about the most recent release of the program is that it allows me to go into any recipe and select alternatives for individual ingredients. Then it re-jiggers the recipe to fit my change, going back to cross-reference chemical compounds and other recipes. Pretty amazing. It’s incredibly easy to spend hours coming up with creative things to cook from the market with this app. Trust me, my recipe box is bulging, hanging around on the cloud, accessible from wherever I happened to be hanging out. And, did I mention you can share them with others on the web?

IBM Cognitive Cooking Recipe from Chef Watson with changes during test runs

IBM Cognitive Cooking Recipe from Chef Watson with changes during test runs

So, moving forward, the original recipes generated from the application just specified flour so I used all-purpose for the initial test. Mixed with the kefir and the baking powder, the batter just became a little more sticky than I wanted and didn’t have a nice texture once cooked. Kind of gummy bearish. But never wanting to waste ingredients, I decided to play with the first batch to see if it could be saved. We’ve all done this. It’s a risky game and you have to keep notes or risk hearing the peanut gallery of eaters in your home ask you that question we all dread: “Can you make it again, or is this a once in a lifetime event?”. Been there, done that. I now keep a recipe journal that records the tests. Big help.

 

Anyway, adding a bit of whole-fat milk and an additional egg with the white whipped stiffly, helped incorporate some additional air to help it rise better in the waffle iron. Amazingly, this recipe turned out to be a keeper on the first try and I remembered to take good notes! Creamy on the inside, with a nice golden brown crispy outside shell, this waffle might become my go-to recipe over the one I’ve used for more than thirty years. The added protein from the quark cheese does not make these heavy but reminds me of the kind of texture you enjoy when eating a light cheesecake. These are just delightful, even chilled. I’ve been enjoying the extras with fresh fruit or fresh jam squished inside them, folded up, cold from the fridge in the afternoon.

 

Separating the eggs. Photo copyright Casey Boone Photography. Please contact for permission to reproduce.

Separating the eggs. Photo copyright Casey Boone Photography. Please contact for permission to reproduce.

Add Chapel Hill Creamery Quark to the batter. Photo copyright Casey Boone Photography. Please contact for permission to reproduce.

Add Chapel Hill Creamery Quark to the batter. Photo copyright Casey Boone Photography. Please contact for permission to reproduce.

I tested one of the initial runs of this with the quark from Chapel Hill Creamery at the market a couple of weeks ago.  I used the staff at the Carrboro Farmers’ Market as guinea pigs. The ladies seemed to like it, or at least they were being quite nice to me after munching on them. Which is why you’re getting the recipe so quickly.

 

 

A couple of notes are worth talking about regarding the cheese. The quark moisture level can vary a bit, because it’s an artisan cheese. And sometimes you’ll be getting quark with salt, sometimes without. Neither of those issues is a problem for this recipe. If you’ve ever made ricotta or had fresh goat cheese, you know that there are going to be variations in how dry or wet the cheese can be that just depend on a number of factors in the process. Tartness and salt can also vary. Cheese makers keep a log of amounts and times to know which combinations prove to be the best but it’s not an exact science since they are dealing with live animal products. Some of them even note the moon phases. Such is the case with quark. One week it might be a little more loose than another week.  I had a chance to try this with three batches that were all slightly different and it turned out well each time, so I’m comfortable passing this on to you, with a word of caution; I also tried this with a low-fat organic version from the store. Not such good results. You need to find a full-fat version because the low-fat just has too many other ingredients holding the texture together in a cold application that don’t work well heated in this recipe. The results are adequate, but if you can possibly find a local dairy to get fresh cheese that isn’t highly heat processed to hold up to weeks upon weeks of shelf life, it’s worth the trouble, I promise. Plus, it actually has a distinct flavor that will vary from dairy to dairy. Honestly, that’s kind of the fun part. If you want to try it with a full fat dry yogurt like European or Greek style, let me know how that works out.

This recipe will make plenty for 2 people and probably enough if you have little kids. Not so much for teenagers. Sometimes you can slow them down by making them cook for you, but I would double the recipe if my kids were at the counter waiting.

Have fun and experiment with your toppings! I found that maple candied pecans were one of my favorites on these, more so than the fruit, probably because I like the crunch contrasted to the creamy flavor of the waffle.

 

Quark Waffles

Quark Waffles 

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons spring or early summer honey
  • 1 tablespoon melted and cooled salted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (or vanilla powder)
  • 3/4 cup kefir (low-fat or whole-milk)
  • 1/4 cup whole-milk
  • 1/4 cup whole-milk quark
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (or 1/2 cup pastry & 1/2 cup AP)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (without aluminum)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (Himalayan pink if possible)

Preparation

  • In two bowls, separate the egg yolks from the egg whites using the larger bowl for the egg yolks.
  • Lightly beat the egg yolks with the honey, melted cooled butter, vanilla extract (if using vanilla powder, add to the dry ingredients), kefir, milk, and quark until blended.
  • In a large sifter above the bowl of liquids, add the flour, baking powder, salt and sift into the wet ingredients.
  • Beat the dry and wet ingredients together until smooth, without lumps.
  • Start to heat the waffle iron. I use a setting between 2-3 if 5 is the longest and most burnt setting. If you are using an older waffle iron without settings, you will be watching to see when it starts to smoke from the prior oil burning.
  • Using a balloon whisk (preferably with an additional ball inside), beat the egg whites until they are stiff.
  • Gently fold the egg whites into the liquid yolk batter so they are not deflated.
  • When the waffle iron is ready, open it up and using a pastry brush, brush the top and bottom with coconut oil, butter or a very light type of virgin olive oil. Each oil will add a bit of flavor the waffle so choose what you prefer. Close the lid for just a minute to heat the oil (similar to oiling a cast iron pan in the oven before cooking corn bread).
  • Pour the batter into the iron until it is about 1/2-3/4 full and close the lid. This should be a sufficient amount to spread to the edges without spilling out. If it spills out, leave it to cook as it will eventually flake off during the process of cooking the entire batch.
  • Cook until the waffle iron signals it’s ready at your chosen setting or look for the waffle to push the lid upwards and begin to push away from the edges. You’ll have to look closely for this and use your nose to smell the oil as it will change scents when it starts to burn and smoke. You will get some amount of this naturally in the process throughout cooking regardless.
  • Remove gently from the iron and eat immediately with your choice of toppings.
Posted in Breakfast, Egg, General, Nut-Free, Recipes, Seasonal Eating, Vegetarian, Year-Round | Leave a comment

Quark Pancakes with Honeysuckle Syrup & Fresh Fruit

 

Slicing fresh strawberries at the Carrboro Farmers' Market Cooking Class, May 2015. Photo by Casey Boone. Please contact for permission to reproduce. www.caseyboonephoto.com

Slicing fresh strawberries at the Carrboro Farmers’ Market Cooking Class, May 2015. Photo by Casey Boone. Please contact for permission to reproduce. www.caseyboonephoto.com

 

Spring seemed to play hide and seek this year. So after many weeks of waiting for the freeze warnings and rain to cease it was delightful to begin to smell honeysuckle vines blooming and get out and pick beautiful red strawberries. We were so fortunate to have fresh berries available at the market just in time for a cooking class along with freshly made honeysuckle syrup.

Trumpet Honeysuckle Blossoms in a jar. Add hot water and honey. Let sit overnight closed up in the fridge. Remove the flowers in the morning and store for 3 days in the fridge or freeze. photo copyright Susan Walter Sink.

Trumpet Honeysuckle Blossoms in a jar. Add hot water and honey. Let sit overnight closed up in the fridge. Remove the flowers in the morning and store for 3 days in the fridge or freeze. photo copyright Susan Walter Sink.

 

For those of you unfamiliar with honeysuckle syrup, it’s just what you imagine and more! This is one of my all-time favorite items in the freezer. If you are not up to making it and happen to be in Durham, I noticed a few quart containers for sale at Scratch when I visited their shop last week. It’s worth trying once in your tea, mixed in with strawberries or peaches and drizzled over ice cream, or blended with other fresh fruit reductions and mixed with soda water for a refreshing drink on a hot afternoon. Remember to buy some crushed ice for this last treat, or make snow cones from the winter’s frozen snow. Yes, it’s crazy, but I have snow in my freezer at home. It delights the neighbors’ children to no end to eat it in the middle of warm weather.

Photo taken by Casey Boone. Express permission required to reproduce. www.caseyboonephoto.com

The cooking group slicing fresh strawberries for the Honeysuckle Strawberry Topping. Photo taken by Casey Boone. Express permission required to reproduce. www.caseyboonephoto.com

 

Let me mention that Carrboro Farmers’ Market has a couple of new things going on this year for kids. First, there’s the small series of cooking classes, which filled up several weeks ago! And second, there’s a program called “The Market Bunch” that allows kids to earn Market Bucks to spend with vendors. They do this by just trying new foods and playing scavenger games at the market each week! It runs from June 6 through July 29th, so sign up the next time you are visiting to play along. And don’t forget to check out the wagon of cookbooks available to use for free. Bring some of your old ones to exchange while you’re there.

Photo taken by Casey Boone. Please contact for permission to reproduce at www.caseyboonephoto.com

Learning to slice berries carefully at the Carrboro Farmers’ Market. Photo taken by Casey Boone. Please contact for permission to reproduce at www.caseyboonephoto.com

 

One of the tools that I have been using this past year is a computer web application from IBM called Chef Watson, which you can sign in and use for free now too. When I began working on the recipes for this class, my goal was to incorporate the honeysuckle syrup into the recipe for strawberry and ricotta pancakes using local eggs and possibly something like hibiscus flowers for some fun color and tart flavor. After a brief chat with the folks at Chapel Hill Creamery during market one afternoon, they suggested I try out Quark to replace ricotta and promptly sent me home with a container. It did not disappoint in texture or flavor, and it has gone right to the top of my ‘favorites’ list. It’s perfect to use with either savory or sweet dishes, much like chevre, this cheese hails from Germany. I can imagine using it in raviolli or blended with honey next to a side of fresh fruit. It’s amazing and you can get it during the spring at either the Durham or Carrboro Farmers’ Markets, but check with the dairy to reserve it, as it sells out.

Photo copyright by Casey Boone @ www.caseyboonephoto.com

Learning to measure without the aid of a tool. Photo by Casey Boone. Contact for permission to reproduce  www.caseyboonephoto.com

 

It’s wonderful to have the kids in class experiment a little with both flavors and cooking techniques to find what best fits their taste. My grandmother never really measured anything properly, but taught me to measure dry ingredients in my hand or by approximating the volume in a bowl. This technique generally works for cooking savory dishes but sometimes baking or desserts require more exact measurements. Still, it’s fun to show the kids how to get close to the correct measurement in a pinch, like when you forget to pack the measuring spoons. It happens, but fortunately pancakes are forgiving.

Photo copyright Casey Boone @ www.caseyboonephoto.com

Mixing the batter and realizing the recipe needs to be adjusted. Photo taken by Casey Boone. Contact her at @ www.caseyboonephoto.com for permission to reproduce.

As we combined the ingredients, it was pretty obvious that I made a typing error when I was transferring the recipe for the market to print. Instead of 1 full cup of milk, I typed in 1/4 cup, which was the amount I used in the test batch. Big mistake, but easily corrected and a good teaching moment for the kids to see what a batter should and should not look like. Hopefully they will remember that when they start making up their own recipes.

Separating fresh eggs from a Carrboro Market vendor during the class. Photo taken by Casey Boone. Please contact for permission to reproduce at www.caseyboonephoto.com

Separating fresh eggs from a Carrboro Market vendor during the class. Photo taken by Casey Boone. Please contact for permission to reproduce at www.caseyboonephoto.com

 

Another fun opportunity and skill to learn is egg separation. This recipe and many other waffle and egg recipes call for beaten egg whites so the final result is lighter with the incorporation of extra air. One of the participants on Saturday was more experienced, so she demonstrated how to separate eggs just using her hands and delivered 2 beautifully separated eggs. She went on to use a “cage” whisk to beat the whites in just a matter of minutes to perfection. A cage whisk looks like a very large balloon whisk with an extra ball whisk stuck inside. It doubles the amount of air you can whip into the whites or cream in about half of the normal time. This single tool can make all the difference in the world in getting fast, reliable results when it counts.

Cooking an adaptation of the original recipe with some extra peach jam. Photo copyright Casey Boone @ www.caseyboonephoto.com

Cooking an adaptation of the original recipe with some extra peach jam. Photo copyright Casey Boone @ www.caseyboonephoto.com

 

Our class was small enough to allow plenty of time for everyone to enjoy each step of the process. From slicing and mixing to  working with hot cast iron pans and a  flames blowing out with the morning breeze. We had a great time and it passed too quickly.

The best part of class is tasting the group creations. Multiple flavors of Quark pancakes with Strawberries soaked in honeysuckle syrup. Photo taken by Casey Boone Photography. view more or contact her for permission to reproduce at www.caseyboonephoto.com

The best part of class is tasting the group creations. Multiple flavors of Quark pancakes with Strawberries soaked in honeysuckle syrup. Photo taken by Casey Boone Photography. Permission to reproduce photo: www.caseyboonephoto.com

The kids also took the opportunity to also add peach jam and blackberry jam to small portions of the batter. They were able to try combining different flavors and tasting the results. Peach, strawberry & honeysuckle were clear favorites of the group.  Hopefully they will be able to modify the recipe throughout the summer with all of the different fruits available. And of course, what would cooking be without the tasting part! Yes, everyone had a chance to try out every combination!

 

Quark Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 2-3 pints of fresh strawberries, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 cup honeysuckle syrup
  • 2 egg yolks (large chicken eggs or duck eggs)
  • 1 cup whole milk or cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons honey (spring or early summer pull of honey)
  • 1/2 cup Quark, full fat (Chapel Hill Creamery)
  • 2 teaspoons melted & cooled butter with salt
  • 2 egg whites, whipped until stiff
  • 1 cup pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (aluminum-free)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preparation

  • In a bowl, combine the honeysuckle syrup and strawberries and let sit while you are making your pancakes. For a bit of variation, when you make the honeysuckle syrup, you can add a flower or two of dried hibiscus which will be a little tart like a cranberry.
  • In a second large bowl combine the egg yolks, milk, vanilla, honey, Quark and cooled butter. Stir until well blended.
  • Using a sifter or mesh strainer, sift the flour, baking powder and salt directly into the liquid egg yolk mixture.
  • Using a stiff whisk, blend the dry with the wet until it’s very smooth.
  • In a third smaller bowl, whisk the egg whites until they are stiff.
  • Gently fold the stiff egg whites into the liquid batter.
  • Heat a cast iron griddle or pan on medium low heat until it is fairly warm, not smoking hot.
  • Add a bit of coconut oil or butter to the pan and as soon as it finishes melting, add the pancake batter until it’s about the size of your palm and not too large to flip when it is half-finished cooking.
  • As the pancake begins to brown on the bottom side and bubbles appear on the top side of the pancake, flip the pancake to finish cooking the second side. Another minute and the pancake should be finished cooking through.
  • Serve with a topping of the fresh strawberries and honeysuckle syrup.

 

As a quick housekeeping note, our photographs were taken by Casey Boone, a local NC photographer. Check out her other work at www.caseyboone.com. She owns this work, and it is protected by copyright, so please ask first permission before reproducing the images.

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Seminole Smoothie with Chai Spices & Juniper Berries

Seminole Pumpkin

 

Smoothies are so flexible that they have become a meal replacement for many of us. Varying from light and refreshing like a melon cooler for the hot days to something more substantial after exercising that includes more veggies and greens. The one I want to show you today is a variation on the Pumpkin Pie Smoothie from the Chapel Hill Whole Foods Homesteading Fair. I’ve been working with some new spice combinations more recently in an effort to present more seasonal alternatives for traditional favorites. I’m trying to use fresh spices, herbs and roots but I also want to have some options that you can use right out of your pantry and that’s where the folks at Savory Spice Shop have been really helpful.

Winter squash are excellent foundations for smoothies. There are so many types of heirloom winter squash grown all over the world that they make a wonderful starting point to try out new spice blends. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been adding new ingredients to my old recipes to see what works in each season. Diakon radish, chai spice blends and local sorghum for the fall and winter months seem to be a natural combination. Melons and mint in the summer months work well to lighten the winter squash into refreshing drinks.

This recipe will make enough for two people but feel free to change some of the ingredients and make it thicker or thinner by adding more or less of the veggies and fruit or liquid ingredients. Just cut the ingredients in half if you are blending for one. I use a VitaMix blender for this recipe. If you use a typical bar blender, it may take a little longer to blend this up and require a little more liquid and some additional chopping of things like the juniper berries.

Chai Juniper Seminole SmoothieSeminole Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 cup frozen roasted Seminole Squash (with or without olive oil)
  • 1/4 cup frozen peach slices (with juice if you have it stored that way)
  • 1/4 cup dehydrated apple slices (I used Fuji) or 1/2 apple without the skin
  • 1/8 cup sorghum syrup
  • 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon Mt Baker Chai Spice Blend
  • 3-4 whole juniper berries
  • 1 Medjol date, chopped (remove seed)
  • 1/4 cup frozen shelled pecans
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 1 cup coconut milk (homemade using WellnessMama recipe)

Preparation

Put everything into a high-speed blender and give it a whirl starting at lowest setting to get things chopped and working your way up to medium high or high to fully blend ingredients until smooth. This should take less than 2 minutes.

Variations

  • Use honey to replace sorghum
  • Use butternut or other pumpkin squash to replace Seminole squash
  • Steep hot (not boiling) coconut water in whole chai spices for 15 minutes and chill to replace ground spices
  • Add in 1/4 cup raw Daikon radish, chopped
  • Add in a tablespoon of raw pumpkin seeds
  • Freeze the mixture in ZipZicle bags to make popcicles

 

Farm Notes

 

Posted in Breakfast, Dairy-Free, Drinks, Freezing & Canning, General, Gluten-Free, Lunch, Recipes, Seasonal Eating, Second Harvest, Vegetarian, Year-Round | Leave a comment

Creamy Orange Soft-Serve Smoothie

It’s been raining off and on for four days now and the temperatures have not been exactly inspiring me to go outside or make cold drinks. But the sun came out early and burned off the remainder of the ugly weather so I was able to get out and hike a bit, working up an appetite for something healthy & colorful, I opted to fool around with some new smoothie recipes that I have been thinking about now that I’m getting better at using the new high-speed blender.

Orange is the color of the day. It’s warm on the color wheel, but we associate it with chilly temperatures and ‘winter’ squash varieties. Kind of an interesting contrast. Using the IBM Chef Watson application this week, I was able to ask for several different types of recipes that would produce creamy orange drinks combining common winter ingredients from the farmers’ market in unusual ways. One of the biggest issues I always face with this program is getting it to eliminate processed foods and those that are not local or in-season for me. I really try hard to make the most of what’s available seasonally or items that I have put up in the freezer earlier in the year.

Fortunately, many of the recipes that looked tasty to me this week also had components that I had on hand or could get easily at the market. There’s a bit of learning curve with this program, on both sides. The program learns from what we  create and the changes we make to its original instructions and recipes. There are some obvious errors that occur sometimes and have us all laughing; like the time a recipe of mine requested more than 20 pig feet! Ugh. No thank you.  But on the human side of the learning curve, we learn about new combinations that it is able to pull together from many more sources than we could ever view in our lifetime. For instance, I learned this week that I could ask for recipes in three different ways and each type of recipe I requested gave me more or less ability to ask for more or less number of ingredients without the program coughing and complaining. Ultimately, there were several recipes that balanced acidity and spices better than I could naturally.  The original recipe that inspired the smoothie was for Sweet Potato Cheesecake.

For the last couple of days, my test smoothies have focused on pairing daikon radishes with orange veggies like carrots, sweet potatoes & winter squash, along with chai spices  that the folks from Savory Spice Shop sent home with me on my last visit. I used coconut water and coconut milk as well as a blend of veggies with kefir and yogurt. I tried steeping hot coconut water in whole spices and chilling that overnight, which worked very well. Then I tried using ground chai spice with the raw veggies and liquids, which was much quicker and had great results too. But all of the initial recipes turned out a bit on the grainy side because the veggies were raw and the natural water in the raw veggies made them seem less potent than a juicing machine might create. Not bad and something I might enjoy on really hot summer days, but not something for cold rainy weather. So the next set of tests included part raw and part roasted to get the creamy texture that I love, along with more concentrated flavors since the water is essentially roasted out already.

And it worked! But here’s the thing. It tastes and looks more like dessert than a smoothie….. Some of you are probably thinking, what’s the problem with that? This is like a lovely soft-serve version of pumpkin ice-cream without all of the processed sugar. The fruit and sweet potato bring the sugar. Texture comes from the coconut milk and the roasted veggies which were roasted in olive oil and coconut oil (either will work for the orange winter squash varieties or just bake them plain and add the oil later if you need it). And the goat cheese adds that bit of tang. When you get it fresh from the dairy, it doesn’t have that strong flavor you associate with goat cheese from years past. You can stick a spoon in it and just eat it right from the container. It’s probably one of my most favorite foods when it comes in season. The good news is that it freezes and thaws incredibly well without loosing much of the texture or flavor.

So here’s the lesson for today: Don’t tell anyone what you put in this ‘smoothie’ when you make it. Dress it up with some chopped toasted pecans, maybe some ginger cookie crumbs and keep your mouth closed! Seriously. There’s radish and fresh raw turmeric, real baby carrots and a ruby sweet potato along with fresh goat cheese, cinnamon, peaches, raw ginger and a date. If you need to make it a little sweeter you can add 1-2 teaspoons  of sorghum, honey or maple syrup. I think you could even swap out the cinnamon for chai spices, but I’ll try that later in the weekend. And I want to try eliminating the goat cheese and heating it up for an alternative drink to the Sweet Potato Latte and Turmeric Tea recipes I love this time of year.

Here’s the version that is my favorite so far. I used my own ginger-infused maple syrup in my test run, but I’ve made some allowances in the directions for some other ways to get all that flavor in the drink. I hope you enjoy it along with your weekend shopping at your local farmers’ market!

Orange Smoothie

 

Orange Soft-Serve Smoothie

Ingredients for 2 servings

  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup plain coconut water (more if you want thinner drink version)
  • 1/4 cup fresh chèvre (eliminate if you can’t get it locally)
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped raw turmeric root
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon ground ceylon cinnamon (less for stronger variety)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger (outside should be pink & white) ***
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup, sorghum, or honey
  • 1/2 cup chopped raw or roasted carrots
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh raw daikon radish
  • 3/4 – 1 cup roasted sweet potato (can be roasted with coconut or olive oil)
  • 1/4 cup frozen peaches, rough chopped
  • 1 medjol date, chopped (remove the pit inside)

Optional Ingredients To Add

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground chai spice blend (will vary by maker)
  • Candied ginger can replace the fresh, but check sweetness levels
  • Ground ginger can replace fresh, use 1/4 of the amount to start
  • 1/4 cup of pecans can be blended into the smoothie, but balance with liquid
  • Roasted butternut squash or other winter squash can be substituted with a slightly different result in flavor.
  • *** Fresh ginger from the market is delicate and tender and much less fibrous than store-bought. The flavor is much brighter than the dried out root you get at the store.

Preparation
Put everything into a high-speed blender and pulse for about 15 seconds. Then move through blending on low to medium high until you have a thick almost frozen consistency. This should take between 1-2 minutes. Add more coconut water to thin the drink or cut back the sweet potato to 1/2 cup. Serve immediately.

 

Notes

Most commercial coconut milk contains gum-gar or some type of thickening agent and it’s processed at high temperature and put in cans that some of you might consider unhealthy. I have recently started making my coconut milk using a simple technique that I found on the internet on WellnessMama.com using shredded coconut. But there is another version using whole brown coconuts on NourishedKitchen.com that looks even more amazing, but a little more work. I used a bit of cheesecloth to really squeeze out my coconut and the remaining was very dry but great added to recipes like smoothies and soups. You’ll probably still have some leftover that you might add to granola or French Toast.

Posted in Drinks, General, Gluten-Free, Recipes, Seasonal Eating, Snack, Vegetarian, Year-Round | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Berry, Beet & Radish Resolution Juice

Many of you know that I’ve been working as one of the beta testers for the IBM Chef Watson application. The program has come up with some lovely ideas in the past. There were two new drinks  from Chef Watson at the  Homesteading Fair at Chapel Hill’s Whole Foods; a Pumpkin Pie Smoothie & Watson’s Summer Surprise Punch. At the Durham Farmers’ Market HomeFries Saturday Cooking Class, we made a Watermelon & Strawberry Popsicle Drink along with a Cantaloupe & Peach Smoothie based on some ideas the program generated for the kids to use.

The developers at IBM rolled out a third version of the software just before the year ended and I have spent a few hours trolling around and saving a bunch of recipe ideas. I have a whole folder devoted just to drinks now. Some of the recipes call for almond milk or yogurt. Some use rainbow chard and fennel blended with strawberries. There are several more ideas I plan to try when the weather warms up again, and I’ll update this entry with notes if any of them turn out to be spectacular winners so keep checking back.

After a day of internet research and looking through recipe books here at home, I charted my plans for using carrots and turnips, maybe some greens, and balancing them with summer fruit in a smoothie as the temperature rose this week. Last year I added a high-speed blender to my kitchen equipment. My old bar blender was being used daily for smoothies or soup and it’s still going strong, but the Vitamix blender I picked up during a sale does a better job pureeing the raw foods and nuts into creamy dreamy drinks and soups, where the bar blender can produce more gritty textures because the blades are smaller and don’t run quite as fast.

Last Saturday while I was at Western Wake Farmers Market looking for some of the little white round salad turnips, I started talking to Patricia at In Good Heart Farm about my plans. I found out that the little salad turnips are not as cold hardy as radishes this time of year. That prompted me to make some quick changes to my drink plans. I  decided to pick up daikon radishes because I have enjoyed eating them combined with carrots, apples and greens in raw salad and slaw.

As luck would have it, radishes are quite good for the liver and kidney. They help restore balance to both organs and cleanse them of impurities that might be stored up from overeating or perhaps drinking too much of a good thing, if you catch my drift. Seems appropriately funny for ‘after the holiday’ New Years Resolution meal planning, doesn’t it?

There are a couple of different variations on this set of ingredients. While I used Daikon radishes this week, I enjoyed the combinations I tried well enough to try some of the beautiful rainbow colored radishes in the coming weeks to see if different varieties change the flavor of the drinks. Dried apples and red beets provide most of the sweetness in this recipe. In my opinion, the red beets are more mild than the purple ones, so plan accordingly if you have a beet hater in your house. And the red beets are not as sweet as the commercially grown beets that are made into sugar. But they do have more sugar than sweet potatoes, watermelon and corn! I used both types in my test runs this week and the color varied in the final drinks from bright purple to a lovely shade of deep pink.

The dehydrated apple slices that I make at home also contain more sugar than raw apples because it gets concentrated as the water evaporates from the fruit in the process. So if you have fresh apples, you can add about half of an apple to get the same amount of flavor. Fresh apples will make the resulting juice a bit thinner, but it shouldn’t be much different.

Raspberries and strawberries that were picked and frozen last year balance the flavor of the radish in a ratio of 4:1. I used the Sweet Charlie strawberries which tend to be a little on the small side but they are sweeter than some of the larger varieties you will find at the store or early in the season. After picking more than 20 lbs this past year, I’m really glad to have some new drink ideas to use them up! The raspberries come from my own yard. I started a patch with less than a half dozen plants from a mountain patch around fifteen years ago. Now I have enough to last a full year after harvesting each day before the birds get to them.

If you want to try out blueberries, blackberries or black raspberries, they should all work well. I’ve simply run out of them in the freezer so I couldn’t test them. I did test some steamed celery that I had in the freezer. I added about 1/4 cup and it was fine. Nothing good or bad about it. It added some fiber but not a lot of flavor. I think cucumber or one of the red sweet melons would work nicely in this recipe as well. Some of the suggested recipes called for cumin and mint, others called for changes from honey to maple syrup and changes in liquids from almond milk to yogurt & buttermilk. Here’s the IBM Chef Watson Strawberry Radish Dessert Recipe that was the inspiration for this Resolution Juice.

There’s another recipe coming that uses carrots and peaches with the radish along with some chai spice and coconut water. I wish I had put up some of the Yellow Doll Melon to add to that recipe. That will be a good test for 2016! Look for the other recipe in the next day or so after I get some pictures taken. In the meantime, enjoy this and order some popsicle bags or molds if you like the flavor well enough to have this in the summer when radishes and beets are out of season.

Berry Beet Radish Resolution Juice

 

Berry, Beet & Radish Resolution Juice
Ingredients for 1 serving

  • 1/4 cup raw daikon radish chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen chopped strawberries (Sweet Charlie variety)
  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1/8 cup dehydrated apple (or 1/2 cup whole apple, chopped) (Fuji variety)
  • 1/4 cup frozen roasted red beets, chopped
  • 1 cup chilled plain coconut water
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons honey (with comb if possible)

Options

  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup coconut milk replacing coconut water
  • Freeze into popsicles for the summer. Add some whole fruit to the mix at the end to create a pretty molded popsicle

Preparation

Put everything into a high-speed blender and starting on the lowest setting and moving up, blend it until smooth. You will need a lot of speed to blend this up. It will take no more than 2 minutes to blend.

 

NC Farm Notes

  • Strawberries – Whitted Bowers Farm
  • Beets – Durham Farmers Market
  • Apples – Eastern Carolina Organics
  • Radishes – In Good Heart Farm
  • Honey – Ever Laughter Farm
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