Monday, August 29, 2011

Make Your Own Gazpacho

Make your own gazpacho
It is nearing the end of tomato season so I am trying to make as many of my favorite tomato dishes as possible. I've realized that I have a lot of favorite tomato dishes. I don't think I will be able to make all of them by the end of the season, especially since I need to either freeze or can tomatoes for this winter. While I will miss fresh tomatoes, I am looking forward to fall soups, stews, gumbos, and chowders.
Today it is still summer and today's specialty is make your own gazpacho. Would it be easier just to make one gazpacho? Yes, it would but then Katie (who doesn't like onions wouldn't eat it). So this is my compromise. I make the gazpacho base and refrigerate it and chop up the stuff we like and everyone adds their own. It is kind of like a deconstructed gazpacho.  It takes a bit of time but it's worth it.

Gazpacho Base

3 Cups (720 ml) of Tomato Juice (about 4 Medium Sized Tomatoes Food Processed)
1 Lime, Juiced
2 Tsp Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 Tsp Kosher Salt
3 Garlic Cloves
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 Tsp Black Pepper
Hot Sauce, To Taste (optional)

Place garlic cloves in a food processor with cored  tomatoes (cut in slices) and process. (I use the seeds, skin and all put you could always remove the seeds and skin the tomatoes). Put in a bowl and add remaining ingredients. Since Katie does not like spicy foods, prior to adding the hot sauce, I remove one cup from the bowl and place it in a separate bowl. Refrigerate.
Gazpacho base
Gazpacho toppings
Sweet or Green Onion
Sour Cream
Croutons or Bread Smeared with Garlic and Olive Oil and Toasted

Dice the tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions. I like gazpacho with substance so my dice is a bit bigger than a small dice. Chop the herbs into small pieces.

The bottom line: Will I make it again? Yes, it is an easy no cook meal that my family loves. I am going to try to make this again before the summer tomatoes are gone.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Roasted Tomato Sauce

Roasted tomato sauce over pasta
I didn't make it to the farmer's market this week which means I did not get a bag of summer ripened tomatoes to make fresh uncooked tomato sauce. But I still had a hankering for homemade tomato sauce. The tomatoes I had to chose from where nice but not the same as the "day they were picked tomatoes" at the market. When I have less than glorious tomatoes, I make roasted tomato sauce. It takes a bit more time but the result is lovely.The roasting and the bit of sugar I add creates a slightly sweet sauce and the touch of crushed red pepper adds a bit of spice.  The roasting, the spice, and the sugar make up for any lack of taste the tomatoes may have. Oh! So does the garlic. You can't have a good roasted tomato sauce without garlic.
Roasted Tomato Sauce

8 cups (1.8 kg) Tomatoes, Diced
1 Cup (150 g) Diced Onion (I usually dice a small to medium onion)
5-6 Cloves of Garlic, Thinly Sliced
2 Tsp of Kosher Salt
1 Tbsp of Sugar
2 Tsp of Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 Cup (120 ml) of Olive Oil
1/2 Cup (10 g) of Basil, Diced

Preheat oven to 450F/232C/Gas Mark 8.
Diced tomatoes
Spread tomatoes in a single layer onto a large cookie sheet. Add the onions and the garlic to the tomatoes and sprinkle the salt, sugar, and crushed pepper on top of the tomato mixture. Pour the olive oil and stir so that the ingredients are mixed.

Ready for the oven
Roast until the tomatoes soften about 30-40 minutes. Remove from the oven. If you want a chunky tomato sauce, then stir in the basil and serve. When I want a smoother tomato sauce, I process it in a food processor and then add the basil.
Roasted Tomato Sauce
The bottom line: Will I make this again? Yes, as soon as I can make it to the farmer's market, I am going to make a huge batch and freeze it. Yes, the sauce freezers well. It is also really good on pasta mixed with pesto.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pork Chops Baked in Salsa

This is the easiest pork chop recipe I have. It is also one of the best. The stuffed pork chops I make may be my favorite pork chop recipe of all but this one is easier and healthier. I like using my spicy roasted salsa for this recipe but you can use a mild, medium or spicy salsa. I just realized that I don't have my roasted salsa recipe posted, I will try to get it posted soon. It is the easiest salsa recipe I make. Like this pork chop recipe it's written on the back of a food stained envelope. I wonder if people realize that when they send me mail, it is destined to become scrap paper for writing down recipes. 

Salsa Baked Pork Chops
3-4 Thick Cut Bone in Pork Chops
1 1/2 to 2 Cups (339 g to 452 g) of Salsa (Depending on the number of pork chops used)
1-2 Tbsp of Cheese (or more) of Cheddar Cheese (or Mexican Blend or Mozzarella) per Pork Chop

Preheat Oven to 375F/190C/Gas Mark 5. Place pork chops in a baking pan.

Cover the pork chops in salsa and bake in the oven for 40 minutes. Cover the salsa covered pork chops with cheese and bake in the oven until the cheese is melted about 5 to 10 minutes.

Yes, it really is that easy.

The bottom line: will I make this again? Yes, it is an easy flexible recipe that makes juicy pork chops with a bit of spice.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Beer Rita Slushies

Beer Rita Slushie
I talked about these for months and I couldn't get anyone interested in them. It was frustrating. I knew they would be good. After a very long difficult day building a deck, I saw my chance to make the beer rita slushie. We were hot, sweaty and gross and in need of a cold beverage. Now that I have made them, I can say "I told you so." They are a margarita with an extra spark, a lovely effervescence.

Beer Rita Slushie

1 Cup (240 ml) of Limeade Concentrate
1/2 Cup (120 ml) of Tequila
1 Cup (240 ml) of Mexican Beer
Crushed Ice

Mix the limeade,  tequila, and beer in a pitcher. Pour the beer rita over crushed ice in a glass.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Grilled Garlic Shrimp with Herbs

Grilled garlic shrimp with fresh herbs
Today I came across some beautiful wild caught gulf shrimp.  They were screaming "Grill me!" So I brought them and the pondering began. What to do with them. First, of course I deveined them with a pair of my kitchen shears. Next I went to the garden and selected some fresh herbs. The rest is dinner history....

1.5 lbs (.7 kg) Large (21/25 Count) Wild Caught Shrimp
1 Cup (60 g) of Fresh Parsley
1/4 Cup (11 g) of Fresh Basil
1 Tbsp of Fresh Rosemary
5 Cloves of Garlic
2 Tbsp of Olive Oil
1/8 Tsp of Ground Black Pepper

Herbs fresh from our garden
Combine the parsley leaves, basil leaves, rosemary leaves and garlic in a food processor and process until finely chopped.  Add the olive oil and pepper and process until a paste is formed.
Herb and garlic paste for the shrimp
Devein shrimp with kitchen shears while leaving the shells on.
Deveining the shrimp
Stuff the mixture under the shells of the shrimp, leaving the shells intact.
Placing the herb mixture under the shrimp shells
Grill 3-5 minutes each side. (We used a piece of foil as our grill basket.)
Shrimp ready for the grill
 The bottom line: Will I make these again? Yes, I will. These were great. The flavors really combined well with the shrimp. Next time I think I will change the herbs I use. Maybe I will use some dill or cilantro.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Making Your Own Taco Seasoning

Taco Salad
I wanted a taco seasoning with a smokey flavor so I made this one. You can use it to make meat for tacos or a taco dip (add 2 1/2 Tablespoons to 1 Cup (239 g) of mayonnaise and 1 Cup (227 g) of sour cream). We used it for "make your own" taco salad.We also used it on popcorn instead of salt.

Taco Seasoning

1 Tbsp of Chili Powder
2 Tsp of Garlic Powder
1 Tsp of Onion Powder
1/4 Tsp of Chilpolte Pepper
1/2 Tsp of Cumin
1/2 Tsp of Smoked Paprika
1 Tsp of Pepper
1 Tsp of Cornstarch

Taco seasonings

1 Pound of Ground Beef
2 1/2 Tbsp of Taco Seasoning

Brown hamburger and drain any oil. Add taco seasoning and 2/3 cups of water. Cook until sauce is slightly thicken about 5 minutes.

Bottom line: Will I make this again? Yes, It was great.
The taco salad Katie made

Friday, August 5, 2011

Pineapple Preserves

It's July in the Midwest and it is hot. No actually it is HOT. It almost makes me miss winter. Almost but not quite. I like the hot more than the cold. For one thing, summer and hot means fresh glorious fruit. It is peak fruit season. That means that it is time to make preserves so I have a bit of summer to open this winter. The first set of preserves I made was pineapple. Why? Because I love cream cheese and pineapple on a bagel. Also it is great on ice cream. Yum! I think I am going to open one of the jars I just canned and have some preserves.

This time I did something a little different, I processed the jars in the microwave. Yes, that's right, I used the microwave to can. I thought my husband was going to have a cow. He kept telling me I was "crossing the streams" as he watched in fascination behind the wall separating the kitchen from the family room. He was convinced that I was going to blow up the microwave because I put the metal jar lids in the microwave. I think he was waiting to tell me "I told you so"  He didn't get to. I got beautifully canned preserves in a fraction of the time, without boiling a huge pot of water and without lugging that big pot canning around. It took two minutes in the microwave to process the jars. It was awesome!

Pineapple Perseveres

2 Lbs (.9 kg) of Pineapple (About 1 1/2 Pineapples)
1 Tsp of Citric Acid or 2 Tbsp of Lemon Juice
2 Cups (450 g) of Sugar

Place the pineapple in a food processor and process until you have the consistency of the preserves you want. Place the processed pineapple in a medium sized sauce pan and add the citric acid and the sugar. Bring to a boil and boil, stirring frequently until the temperatures hits the jelly stage (220F/ 104 C).
Making the pineapple preserves
This takes about 15 to 20 minutes. Place the preserves in hot sterile jelly jars. Fill the jars up to the brim. Place the lid and screw top of the jars and place in the microwave. There should be 1 1/2 inches between the jars. Cook in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes on medium high.
Bottles of preserves in the microwave

Take out and place on towels to cool. The tops should indent when cooled.
Bottles of preserves
The bottom line: Will I make this again? Yes, I will. It was so amazingly easy.

Grilled Chicken Satay Marinated in Red Curry Sauce

Chicken satay over rice
I love red curry and coconut milk, and I am absolutely crazy about them together. When I decided to make chicken satay, I knew that the marinade would contain both; I also knew I would be tempted to drink the marinade (so I decided to keep a little aside and put it over rice). Chicken has a a tendency to dry out on the grill. If I am grilling or smoking chicken, I always brine it (I always brine chickens that I am going to roast too). Obviously, I am not going to brine this so I decided to use thigh meat which, because it is dark meat, is less likely to dry out.

The Chicken

I used two pounds of boneless skinless thigh meat. I cut chicken into thin strips (about 1/2 inch/ 1.5 cm) and placed them in a plastic bag.

A marinade good enough to drink
The Marinade

1/4 Cup (35 g) of Onion, Diced
4 Garlic Cloves, Minced
1 Inch Piece of Ginger, Diced
1 Tsp of Turmeric
1 Tbsp Red Curry Paste
1 Cup (240 ml) of Coconut Milk
2 Tbsp of Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp of Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp of Rice Wine Vinegar

Whisk all of the ingredients together. (Yep it is good enough to drink). I set aside a little bit to put over rice and the rest I used to marinade the chicken for about 6 hours. You should marinate the chicken for at least 4 hours.

Skewered chicken
Place the chicken on skewers (if using bamboo, soak the skewers for 20 minutes) and place on the grill. You'll want the grill good and hot for this.  Make sure you have the temp up around 300 before you start grilling the skewers.  Grill the chicken for 3 - 5 minutes each side until chicken is no longer pink.
Grilling the chicken satay

I served the chicken with sweet chili sauce, peanut sauce, and hot sauce. My favorite was the sweet chili sauce. I also served them with cucumber salad and rice.
Ready to eat!
The bottom line: Will I make these again? Absolutely!  Next time I will double the marinade and reserve half of the marinade for a curry the next day.  Next time I will be sure to have the grill at 300+ before I start; they took a while to grill at only 250.  I will continue to grill them outside; they are much better grilled than broiled (or even grilled on the inside grill)