Thursday, July 15, 2010

Summer Fruit Salad

Perfectly summery, a variety of seasonal fruit is welcome in my house at any time.


After a visit to the farmer's market, I brought home some lovely peaches, nectarines, strawberries, plums, apricots, just to name a few of the delights found there. I also saw stalls for jerky and local honey along with the fruits and vegetables.

I let the stone fruits sit out in a bowl for a day or so to fully ripen. Around here, there is no such thing as "ripe off the tree" unless you grow it yourself.  Even with farmer's markets, sometimes you get so-so produce.

Anyhow, breakfast one recent morning consisted of Puff Pancakes topped with this fruit combination and little extra syrup, plus bacon.

Ingredients
2 white nectarines, pitted, peeled, sliced
2 plums, pitted, peeled, sliced
1/2 lb strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/2 lb Bing cherries, pittedand cut in half
1/4 lb blueberries
3 Tablespoons sugar
4 generous sprinkles of Fruit-Fresh

Method
1. First, as with all produce, make sure it is really washed well before you start cutting.

2. If you have never pitted cherries before, you will want some sort of tool. I have one that looks like scissorsand it pops the pit out. Beware, you will probably get cherry juice splatters on your clothes.

3. Start putting your fruit in a bowl.  Sprinkle the sugar and Fruit-Fresh all over and the mix gently so you don't mash up the fruit.


4. Keep in the fridge, covered.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sauteed Peppers and Onions

Ingredients
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1/2 medium size yellow onion, sliced into rings
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter

Method
1. Heat olive oil and butter to sizzling in a frying pan. Add the onions and saute until they begin to soften.

2. Add the peppers. Cook over medium heat until they soften to your liking. This should be about 10 minutes.

3. Add the garlic last and cook about 1-2 minutes.


4. Serve with fajitas or on top of Italian sausages.

Grilled Steak Fajitas with Bell Peppers

I decided it was time I posted a new recipe for beef. Being summertime, it was the perfect environment for grilling. Instead of boring you with how to grill a steak, I went for making fajitas.

Fajitas are basically whatever you want on top of grilled meat rolled in a tortilla. I especially associate sauteed peppers with fajitas so I made those too. Mom made up some rice to accompany it all.

Ingredients
1 1/2 lb flank steak
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3-4 Tablespoons olive oil
Guacamole
Sauteed bell peppers (see below)
6-8 flour tortillas
sour cream
salsa
refried beans and rice
shredded cheese

Method for the Steak
1. Combine cumin, chili powder, oregano, garlic salt, and pepper in a small bowl.

2. Sprinkle half of the spice mix over the flank steak. Drizzle about half of the olive oil on top and rub it into the meat. You want the spices and oil to evenly coat the meat. Repeat on bottom side of the meat.


3. Let the meat rest about 15 minutes at room temperature. (You could do this early in the day if you want a stronger flavor. Just be sure to put the steak in fridge so it doesn't spoil.)

4. Grill over medium-high heat, approximately 7 minutes per side. I usually poke the meat when it's nearly done to check for how fleshy and springy it is to determine how done it is. If the texture is springy/fleshy like the base of your thumb where it meets your palm, your meat will be rare. If it's like your chin, it's medium. If it's like the back of your hand, it's well done.


5. When cooked to your liking, slice up the flank steak into small strips.

6. Serve on warmed tortillas with toppings of your choice, such as guacamole, sour cream, peppers, onions, cheese, Tapatio sauce, jalapeno slices, cilantro, or lettuce. Roll up to eat.


Ingredients for Sauteed Peppers
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1/2 medium size yellow onion, sliced into rings
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter

Method for the Peppers
1. Heat olive oil and butter to sizzling in a frying pan. Add the onions and saute until they begin to soften.

2. Add the peppers. Cook over medium heat until they soften to your liking. This should be about 10 minutes.

3. Add the garlic last and cook about 1-2 minutes.


4. Serve with the fajitas above.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rhubarb Strawberry Pie


Early summer is really the best time to pick rhubarb from the garden. However you can still find decent rhubarb at a few farmer's market stalls or the grocery store if you are desperate. I asked my mom to bring me a cutting from her rhubarb plant to add to my garden, but it's already too late into the season. Maybe I can get my own rhubarb plant next year.

Still, Mom had a few decent stalks left so she brought those so I could make pie. I don't make pies very often and I was really in the mood for rhubarb pie. So I did. And it was good.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
3 1/2 cups rhubarb, diced
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup Minute tapioca
1 Tablespoon butter
Pie crust for double crust
1/4 cup milk (you won't use it all)
3 Tablespoons sugar (you don't have to use it all)

Method
1. Combine rhubarb, strawberries, tapioca, and sugar in a mixing bowl. Mix up then let sit on the counter about 15 minutes.


2. Meanwhile, prepare pie crust.

3. Pour/dump rhubarb mixture into the bottom crust. Spread it sort of evenly, a little higher toward the middle than the edges. Dot with the butter.


4. Place top crust on top. Trim edges.


5. Lightly moisten bottom crust where top crust meets it. Flute with fingers while pressing together to seal edges.


6. Brush top with milk and sprinkle sugar over. Cut slits for steam escape.

7. Bake in a preheated 400F oven for about 45-50 minutes or until filling start to bubble out and crust has browned nicely.


8. Let cool about an hour before serving. Enjoy with whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Pie Crust No. 2

I decided to try a new pie crust recipe. The funny thing about crust recipes, is that there are only so many things that can change.

I tried this one about a month ago for Quiche and it worked very well. I wanted to make a pie this weekend, so I used this to be different. I didn't have my usual crust mix stored in the fridge so I threw this one together.

It was a bit more dry and uncooperative. I think that a lot of times, the weather effects baking more than we realize. It's been very hot and dry (Hello Nevada!) so I kept adding more water until it actually held together. The end result was a little thicker than my other crust recipe, but tasted good, nice and crisp and flaky.

Ingredients for one 9 inch crust
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
4 Tablespoons cold water

Method
1. Combine flour, salt, and shortening in a bowl and mix with a pastry blender. Mix until the shortening has been mixed in well, and the overall appearance has a sandy texture.


2. Add the cold water and blend with a fork. Once it begins to hold together, I use my hands to work it into a ball.


3. Place the ball on a floured surface and roll out to the desired size and thickness. Transfer to the pie dish and gently press in to get your shape and fit just right.


4. To make a double crust, simple double the recipe.  Divide it into two ball and roll each one separately.

Italian Pasta Salad

I was on a cooking spree this weekend. I had so many plans, that I didn't get to everything.  However, I managed to make this, which happens to be one of Justin's favorite pasta dishes.  It's great for a quick lunch or as a side to something else.

This versatile pasta salad has been a hit whenever I bring a bowl of it to a pot-luck. It's mayonnaise-free so food-poisoning chances are slim.

Also, you can change up the additions, say roasted red bell peppers are one of your favorite foods.  Go ahead and add some!  Change up the cheese.  I used Colby-Jack this time.

Ingredients
1/2 pound shaped pasta, like rotini or fusilli (corkscrew-shaped pastas)
1 garlic clove, peeled
1/2 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablespoon water
1/4 cup olive oil or canola oil
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 pound cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, provolone, or Colby-Jack) cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 ounces sliced hard salami, cut into julienne strips or cubes
1/2 cup sliced pickled small pepperoncini
1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leafed parsley leaves, minced
1 small can sliced black olives (optional)
1 small jar artichoke hearts, drained (optional)

Method
1. Cook the pasta according to package, until it is al dente tender and drain.


2. In a blender, blend the garlic, mustard, vinegars, water, oil, and salt (to taste) until the dressing is emulsified.

3. In a very large bowl, toss the pasta well with the dressing and stir in the other ingredients.


4. Chill the salad, covered, for 1 hour. The salad may be made 2 days in advance and kept covered and chilled.