Taco Salad

This was probably as good as we would have gotten in a restaurant, if not better.  I bought the flour tortillas and cheese, along with the beef and onions used in the chili.  Everything else on that plate came from our own garden:  the red leaf lettuce, the tomatoes, the various chili peppers, the corn, and even the dried beans and dried spices.  Okay, not the cumin and salt, but when we have a glut of chilies and “seed stock worthy” beans at the end of the season, we dry them.  Then I can boil the beans and grind the chilies as needed.  If we have corn, I throw a handful or two into my batch of chili; otherwise I omit it.

Taco salad.  It’s what’s for dinner.

taco-salad

 

Blueberry Pie

Now that blueberry season is upon us, I had to make a blueberry pie.  I don’t really use a recipe for it, but I do add about a half cup of sugar and approximately a well-rounded tablespoon of corn starch per pint of fresh blueberries, then cook them before using them as filling.  I don’t bother pre-cooking my filling for non-berry pies, but with berries, it seems the best way to judge whether the filling is the right consistency, so I can adjust it if necessary before it’s baked.  Some berries are simply juicier than others, and I really don’t want the filling running all over the pie pan after the first piece is cut, making the rest of the bottom crust all soggy.

Anyway, I just thought I’d share the picture.  Pay no attention to my “well-seasoned” cookie sheet.  Yeah.  Well-seasoned.  That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.  😉

blueberry-pie

More Food Pr0n

I didn’t list the recipes.  The pita bread one is straight out of Beard on Bread, except that I only made half the recipe.  The apple custard thing, I completely made up as I went along, but I do know how to make custard without looking at a recipe, so I’m sure something really similar to what I did exists somewhere.

Apple Custard Tart

Pita Bread

Shoo Fly Pie

I didn’t feel like making a regular pie crust, so I sort of cheated and used a store-bought graham cracker crust, but the filling and topping are from scratch.  Yes, I used the new food processor to do the crumbly stuff (about 2/3 to 3/4 of it goes into the filling, with the rest sprinkled on top).  For those of you who may be unfamiliar with shoo fly pie, it’s a gooey molasses pie that sets up like pecan pie when it cools, but has no nuts, and isn’t as sweet.  I suppose dark treacle could be substituted for the molasses.  It’s typically an Amish specialty.

OT: Deviled Seafood Casserole

I’m a huge fan of hot dishes, or pretty much anything that can be mostly done ahead of time, and finished up in the oven or on a grill.  This is a variation of a recipe from The Lady & Sons Savannah Country Cookbook.  Like anything from Paula Deen, the original recipe called for a boatload of butter, but I cut out half a stick of it by steaming the seafood first, rather than sautéing it.

It’s a hot dish, folks, so it’s sort of supposed to look like slop.  But what a yummy bowl of slop it is!  Note that I’m not a fan of scallops, nor haddock, but I did have some black sea bass that was caught in the Delaware Bay recently, and some canned crab meat on hand.  It took me significantly longer than half an hour to prep everything, but bear in mind that I started with a frozen whole bass we were given (head, fins, and all), not some fillet I’d bought at a grocery store.

Yield:  8 servings

Time:  30 minutes prep; 30 minutes in oven at 400F

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. of shrimp, peeled, cleaned, and deveined (originally 1.5 lbs)
  • 1 lb. of crab meat, picked through to remove any bits of cartilage (originally 1 lb. of sea scallops)
  • 1 lb. of sea bass fillet (originally 1 lb. of haddock)
  • 1/4 lb. (1 stick) of butter (originally a stick and a half)
  • 1/2 c. plus 1 Tbs. of flour
  • 1 c. evaporated milk
  • 1 c. beef broth (or consommé)
  • 2 Tbs. cornstarch
  • 1/3 c. milk
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 Tbs. horseradish
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard (I use Colman’s, but you could probably get away with using dijon out of a jar, if that’s all you’ve got)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cayenne
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 4 tsp. ketchup (more won’t hurt)
  • 1/2 c. sherry

Method:

  1. steam the shrimp and fish fillet until just done, and let cool before cutting into chunks
  2. melt the butter into a large saucepan
  3. whisk in the flour and evaporated milk
  4. stir in the beef broth
  5. cook over medium heat until thick, stirring occasionally
  6. mix the cornstarch into the milk, and add to the pot
  7. add the remaining ingredients to the pot, except for the sherry, and stir together
  8. stir in the seafood and sherry
  9. pour it into a casserole (no need to grease it first), and bake at 400F for half an hour

Food Pr0n

I decided on spice cake for the birthday cake, with caramel frosting.  I pretty much suck at cake decorating, but sprinkling chopped walnuts on top, and piping out little blobs of cream cheese icing for decoration covers a multitude of sins.  The frosting recipe was straight out of the Betty Crocker cookbook, but I improvised the actual cake batter, based on reading several others that sounded pretty good.  I’ll probably get around to posting the recipe on Sock Monkey later.

There were some funky reflections coming off that pewter plate; the icing isn’t really quite that lumpy looking.  😉

I don’t have a cake plate and lid, so I’ll have to plop an inverted pasta pot over it, which doesn’t exactly make for an elegant presentation, but if that’s what I have to do, so be it.

spice-cake-4

Darn Tomatoes

We’ve got six plants of full-sized tomatoes.  They have thus far escaped the tomato blight epidemic that’s been plaguing commercial growers in the NE.  Two of ours are bush varieties, which stay compact, but the other four need more support than stakes can provide.  I’ll have to get cages for them next year.

What irks me, a little, is that within the past two days, I’ve had to chuck out five decent sized tomatoes that I’d left to vine ripen.  They got basal rot, where they sat on the ground.  My solution is to pick them 2-3 days before they really are ripe, and let them bench ripen.  Rot is not an issue if I do that.

Despite the ones I had to toss, we’ll have to start canning them pretty soon.  There are only so many grilled cheese & tomato sandwiches we can eat, or so much chicken ciacciatore before we get sick of them.

Garden Harvest

This time of year, harvesting the fruits and veggies is a daily task.  I went out at 8 am, to do harvest duty.  I got a few peppers (yellow banana, and cayenne), two eggplants, a handful of cherry tomatoes, and another handful of Kentucky Wonder green beans.  Many more peppers can be picked any time I need them for dinner, but leaving them on the plants for another few days won’t do any harm.

Next, I dove into the wood margin, wearing long pants and a long sleeved mock turtleneck t-shirt to pick raspberries.  It’s sort of my hazmat suit, given all the poison ivy that’s in there.  I couldn’t care less about all the virginia creeper.  I only got a little over half a pint of raspberries today, but add them to the ones I snagged since Thursday, and we’re going to have a heck of a cheesecake, a few smoothies, or make jam or syrup.

Blueberry syrup is my favorite, but raspberry comes in a really close second.  Raspberry syrup on light, fluffy pancakes is divine!  A dollop of whipped cream is optional.

BTW, we have two quarts of blueberries.  They have so many possibilities.  I think a blueberry buckle is in our future.