30 October 2012

Pineapple guava ice cream

pineapple guava ice cream, feijoa ice cream

Well, we are still buried under a mountain of pineapple guavas, aka feijoas. I ate a bunch of them plain. I gave a big bagful to my friend Jen, and put another couple bags on the curb with a FREE sign. Those vanished overnight. But I still have a backyard completely carpeted with pineapple guavas, and hear the thumps of even more falling from the tree in the dead of night when I should be asleep.

So I made pineapple guava ice cream, and it is good.

I've had this ice cream recipe from Laura at Hungry and Frozen in the back of my head since April, when it's pineapple guava season in the southern hemisphere. Now that we've reached the right season in the northern hemisphere, it's time to go to town. All you need is pineapple guava, condensed milk, Greek yogurt, and lime juice. There is no custard-making of any kind involved. Super simple.

Also, look how beautiful the top of my condensed milk can was!

condensed milk can lid

Pineapple guava ice cream, aka feijoa ice cream
by Laura at Hungry and Frozen.

15 ripe pineapple guavas, aka feijoas
1 14-oz can condensed milk
2 tbsp lime juice, aka the juice of 1-2 limes
1 cup plain Greek yogurt

Start by halving your pineapple guavas and scooping the insides out. Chop them up, either by hand or in the food processor. I don't have a food processor, so I just used a knife. This worked admirably.

Put your pineapple guavas in a bowl and add your can of condensed milk, lime juice, and yogurt. I actually decided to use labneh--Middle Eastern yogurt cheese--instead of Greek yogurt, because 1. I love labneh and 2. I had a container of it already. Since it has the same tart flavor as plain yogurt, and an even thicker consistency, it worked very well indeed.

pineapple guava ice cream, feijoa ice cream

Once you have everything mixed well, all you need to do is freeze your ice cream. I put mine in our ice cream maker, but you can also just freeze it as-is in a container. It's all good.

When your ice cream is all frozen, eat up! The result is very smooth, and packs a deceptively strong pineapple guava punch. This recipe makes about a quart, although I can't say I actually measured.

pineapple guava ice cream, feijoa ice cream

I had my ice cream in a bowl, like you do, but I think what I really want to do is make some ice cream sandwiches. Ginger cookies or lime meltaways sound like they'd match with the tropical-floral-pear-pineapple flavor, but I also think a simple butter shortbread would work admirably.

I hope everyone is doing ok in the wake of the hurricane! I would feed you all plenty of ice cream (in sandwich form or otherwise) if I could. That obviously won't put the power back on, but still. Good thoughts!

28 October 2012

Angel hair pasta with tomatoes, eggplant, and artichoke hearts

purple cherokee tomato plant

In current garden news, tomatoes! Tomatoes for all!

It took until October for our Purple Cherokees to really ripen, but now that they have, they're pretty amazing. The plants are huge, productive, and still going strong. It helps that it's 78F outside right now, of course.  I suspect that we have about two to three good weeks left.

purple cherokee tomato

This guy was growing around a branch of the plant--look at the gouge it made when I picked it!--so I needed to get it inside and into my mouth as soon as possible. Okay! How about a batch of pasta?

I found a head of garlic, a jar of artichoke hearts, and an eggplant on its last legs, and got to work.

Angel hair pasta with purple cherokee tomatoes, eggplant, and artichoke hearts

Angel hair pasta with tomatoes, eggplant, and artichoke hearts

olive oil
artichoke hearts
angel hair pasta
oregano, basil, red pepper flake, salt, pepper

Before you make the sauce, put on a pan of water for the pasta. Heat it to boiling, covered, and turn it off (if you need more time for the sauce to cook). That way it'll be hot & waiting whenever you're ready to put the pasta on.

Start by warming olive oil in a wide saute pan. Smash a bunch of cloves of garlic with the flat of your knife, peel them, and mince them up. Then throw them in the pan, stir it up, and let cook over medium heat. Add some sprinklings of basil, oregano, and red pepper flake, so the oil gets all infused with their flavors.

Peel and dice as much eggplant as you want to eat. I had a long, skinny Asian eggplant, so I only ended up with maybe 2/3 cup of half-inch-square eggplant bits. That was all good. Toss your eggplant in with the garlic, mix it up, and keep cooking.

Drain and roughly chop as many artichoke hearts as you want to eat. I love artichoke hearts, so I used six or eight quarters just for me. After the eggplant has had about 5 minutes to cook, add your artichoke hearts and stir everything up again.

Next, core and dice your tomato. I used just the one tomato, which worked admirably, since it was pretty gigantic. If your tomato season is over, you can use canned tomatoes, puree, or whatever works for you. It's all good. Add your tomato to the pan, salt and pepper, stir, and let cook. Here's what my pan looked like at this point:

angel hair pasta with purple cherokee tomato, artichoke hearts, and eggplant

So that's what one tomato can look like in a 10-inch frying pan. Hooray!

At this point, you just want to cook the tomato and veg down to a sauce consistency that you like. It'll probably take about ten minutes if you're starting from fresh tomato, and a bit less time if you're using canned. Put your pasta on to cook whenever it's most appropriate. I used angel hair, obviously, but pretty much any pasta shape should work with a mildly chunky tomato sauce like this one.

When everything is done, drain your pasta and add it to your pan of sauce. Give it a minute over low heat, so the pasta can absorb a bit of the sauce. I usually wash the pasta pot and then serve.

Angel hair pasta with purple cherokee tomatoes, eggplant, and artichoke hearts

Eat your delicious pasta with some fresh parsley scattered over the top. Grate some cheese over it if you want to. It's your pasta; do what you want!


22 October 2012

Vegetarian baked beans

homemade vegetarian baked beans

It's raining! Rain in California! Fall is actually here! HOORAY!

This is clearly the best possible time of the year to make a gigantic pan of delicious, hearty, warming goodness. I'm talking about baked beans.

Baked beans are traditionally made with navy beans or similar small white beans, plus onion, bacon, and a molasses-heavy sauce that would probably be excellent on barbecue. (Mental note: make a batch of actual barbecue sauce soon.) But the real essence of baked beans is the bean itself, or maybe the bean plus molasses. So, since our household is half vegetarian, we took out all the meat components and added in some liquid smoke and lemon juice. The result was more than satisfactory.

These take hours upon hours to cook, so they are excellent to make on a grey weekend when all you want to do is putter around the house. Nothing is better than a bubbling pot when it's cold and damp out, right? Soak the beans the night before, boil them in the morning, bake them right after lunch, and you should be all set by dinnertime. Bonus: delicious baked bean fumes delicately wafting through the house all day!

Vegetarian baked beans
Based on Boston Baked Beans

2 cups dry white beans
bay leaf
an onion
3 tbsp molasses
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp mustard powder
several good shakes of liquid smoke
juice of 1/2 lemon
butter/olive oil

Start the day before you want to eat by sorting and soaking about two cups of dry white beans. Leave them overnight, loosely covered. The next day, change out the water and simmer the beans with a bay leaf until tender. Depending on the age of your beans, this can take up to two hours. When done, drain your beans, reserving the broth. You can also cook your beans in advance and refrigerate them, or substitute canned beans.

When you're ready to make the beans, preheat your oven to 325F/165C.

Break out a dutch oven or other large, deep, oven-safe casserole dish. Chop up a large yellow onion. Fill the dutch oven with alternating layers of beans and onion, ending with beans.

homemade vegetarian baked beans

Next, make the sauce. In a pan, combine the molasses, ketchup, brown sugar, salt, pepper, mustard, liquid smoke, and lemon juice. Smoke seasoning is really potent, so be careful with it! Add a little at a time, and definitely don't drop the bottle.

Bring the pan of sauce to a boil, stir to dissolve any recalcitrant lumps of sugar, and pour it all over the beans. Then add enough of your bean broth to cover the beans entirely. (Freeze the leftover bean broth and use it in soups later.)

Dot the top of your bean dish with chunks of butter or a scattered drizzle of olive oil. Don't skip this--the fat in the oil or butter is going to carry the flavors of the sauce and onion to make the whole dish meld together. It's taking the place of the bacon fat in the original recipe.

Bake your beans, covered, for about two hours. Then take off the lid, check your liquid level, and continue to cook for another hour or two, or until the beans are amazing and delicious. It's done when you think it's done.

Hooray! Baked beans!

We had our baked beans over bowls of rice, but I would definitely be up for a biscuit and gravy or cornbread application. Hearty greens, either steamed or sauteed, would be perfect on the side.

What dishes do you love to make when it's dank and rainy out?

18 October 2012

Pineapple guava time

pineapple guava feijoa

Guess what started falling out of our gigantic backyard tree this week?

That's right. Pineapple guavas, aka feijoas.

I had never even heard of pineapple guava before we moved into this house. But! For two years, we've been caretakers to one of the biggest pineapple guava trees in the state of CA. No, seriously--ask our landlord. And now it's October--harvest time--and ripe pineapple guavas are falling off the tree and thumping into our yard all day.

Pineapple guavas are a tropical fruit. You cut them open and scoop out the pinkish-yellow insides. The texture is seedy and gelatinous in the middle and gritty and pear-like as you get closer to the edges. The taste is only sort of like pineapple--it's more heady and floral than anything else.

Last year the harvest completely overwhelmed us. I ate lots of individual pineapple guavas with a spoon. I infused pineapple guava schnapps. I failed spectacularly at dehydrating them, mostly due to an oven that won't run below 170F. Then I brought bags of pineapple guava to all my friends and neighbors, and left a big box on our front curb with a FREE sign. We still had a massive amount left over.

This year? I don't know. What am I going to make?

pineapple guava feijoa

I'm planning to try a recipe for pineapple guava ice cream that I found on Hungry and Frozen 6 months ago--which makes complete sense, since the New Zealand feijoa harvest is in April. Yay, opposite hemisphere!

This does require that I dig out enough freezer space for our ice cream machine bowl, but I think I can handle that.

It would still be a good idea to make jam. I certainly have the right volume of fruit available--or I will in a week or so. Does anyone have a pineapple guava jam recipe kicking around?

What do you guys make when you get a windfall of exotic fruit?

15 October 2012

Migas are delicious

homemade migas

This Saturday I made Stella's migas.

Then the next day I made Stella's migas again.

I think you guys should make some of Stella's migas, is what I'm saying.


12 October 2012

Minimal Salade Niçoise for busy days and nights

salade nicoise

Things have been crazy for the past couple weeks. All work all the time, even on our birthdays. Especially on our birthdays, actually. I'm finishing my first product for my own company, which--well--it's a little surreal. I don't know how to describe it. And I still have a lot more to do before launch.

I'm exhausted. Here, have a salad.

Minimal Salade Niçoise

butter lettuce
boiling potatoes
green beans
vinaigrette of your choice

Make as much of each ingredient as you like. I used three potatoes, four medium eggs, and two big handfuls of green beans for two people, and that was a bit too much.

Put a pot of salted water on to boil while you scrub your potatoes and remove eyes. Chop the potatoes into reasonable bite-sized chunks. When your water boils, add the potatoes. Bring the water up to boiling again, reduce to a fast simmer, and let cook until tender. This should take maybe 30 minutes for small chunks of potato. You can do everything else while the potatoes are cooking.

Put your eggs in the pot with the potatoes and let them cook for 9 minutes before you pull them out. Give it a minute or two longer if your eggs are cold from the fridge. Put your finished eggs into an ice water bath and let them chill while the potatoes keep cooking.

Trim your green beans, chop them into bite-sized pieces, and put them in a steamer basket that fits over the potato pot. If you don't have one, that's ok--you can just quickly boil them in a separate pot. Steam or boil until done to your tastes. I put mine on for about four minutes. When done, take them off the heat. You can ice them if you want to, but I left mine hot.

Core your lettuce, wash it, dry it, and chop it into reasonable salad pieces.

When your eggs are cool enough to peel, go ahead and peel them. Chop them into halves or quarters.

When the potatoes are done, drain them well. Let them sit for a minute while you arrange your lettuce on plates. Top the lettuce with potatoes, beans, and eggs.

For vinaigrette, I smashed a clove of garlic and added it to a measuring cup with a splash of white wine vinegar, a big spoonful of seedy dijon mustard, salt and pepper, and some chopped parsley. Then I whisked in olive oil until it all emulsified into dressing. I didn't measure at all, so I have no measurements to give you. Use your favorite vinaigrette recipe, or just go get the Newman's Head out of the fridge.

Pour your vinaigrette over your salad, pick up your fork, and eat it all.

Sleep the sleep of the weary.

What do you make when you're too busy to cook?

08 October 2012

Barley risotto with chicken sausage, zucchini, and mushrooms

barley risotto

After roasting my chicken the other day, I made chicken broth. This is super easy, if you've never done it. All you do is chuck your chicken trimmings and stripped bones into a stockpot, cover with lots of water, simmer for a couple hours, strain out the solids, put the pot in the fridge overnight, and skim off the solidified fat in the morning. Voila!

Most of the broth went immediately into the freezer for future application. When the freezer was full, I still had a few cups of broth left. Clearly, it was time for risotto.

I make my risottos with barley almost exclusively. It's cheaper, healthier, tastes very similar to standard arborio risotto, and is just as easy to make. Hooray for barley!

This risotto obviously has meat in it, but you can follow the same process with vegetable broth, olive oil, and your choice of vegetable additions, omit the cheese, and end up with an entirely vegan bowl of goodness.

Barley risotto with chicken sausage, zucchini, and mushrooms

olive oil or butter
dry white wine or dry vermouth
broth of your choice
precooked chicken sausage
salt, pepper
parmesan or other grating cheese

Start by dicing an onion and softening it in olive oil at the bottom of a large saucepan.

While the onion is cooking, fill another pan with about three cups of broth and heat it to a gentle simmer. Chicken broth is standard for risotto, but vegetable broth works well too. You can also make the veg broth from scratch--it only takes about fifteen minutes start to finish. No problem.

barley risotto

When your onion is soft and lovely, add about a cup of barley to the pan. Stir it all up and let it toast with the onion and oil for a few minutes. Then pour in a cup of white wine or dry vermouth, stir, increase the heat a bit, and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until the barley has absorbed most of the liquid. I like using vermouth here because then you don't have to deal with an entire bottle of wine. It's cheaper, too. We're practically the only people I know to go through bottles of vermouth on a regular basis.

Now it's time to start the cycle of liquid additions. Get a ladle and add a cup or so of hot broth to your barley. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the barley has absorbed all the broth. Then add another ladleful of broth and do it again. Repeat this until your barley is cooked through.

barley risotto

In between broth additions, chop up your sausage, mushrooms, and zucchini, in that order. Add the sausage and mushrooms to the pot of barley with your second broth addition, or when the barley is a little over halfway done. Add the zucchini only for the last three or four minutes of cooking, so it stays a bit firm and nice.

When your barley is done cooking--taste it and make sure--take your pan off the heat. Season with a little salt, plenty of freshly ground pepper, and a handful of chopped parsley. If you want cheese, grate up some parmesan or romano and stir it in.

barley risotto

Eat, adding more parsley and cheese to taste. Don't you feel better?

Hooray for warm, cozy fall food!

05 October 2012

Norwegian apple pie for birthday week


Birthday week continues apace. Tomorrow is John's birthday.

We don't usually do birthday cake at our house. Yes, even though John and I have birthdays three days apart, we can't be trusted to eat more than one slice apiece of a traditional befrostinged layer cake. On the few occasions we've tried, the leftover 7/8 of the cake slowly calcifies in the fridge until we throw it out. That's just depressing.

Now, if either of us could be bothered to make a fruit-filled dessert like apple pie, that would get eaten almost immediately. So I'm going to make Norwegian apple pie, aka eplepai.

This makes it sound like I'm making pie. Actually, this is a simple cake filled with chopped apples and almonds, baked in a pie pan. Why is it called apple pie in Norwegian? I have no idea. But I do know it's very good, super easy (unlike actual pie--I am bad at crusts), and only requires ingredients we normally have on hand. It doesn't suffer from over-richness or mountains of frosting. Besides, October is definitely apple season. Perfect.

This recipe comes from Beatrice Ojakangas's Great Scandinavian Baking Book, which is my mainstay for delightful baked goods. You know--even though we don't like normal frosted cake.

Norwegian apple pie eplepai

Norwegian Apple Pie, aka Eplepai

1 egg
3/4 cup sugar (I used brown sugar)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup flour (I used wheat)
1/2 cup chopped almonds
3 medium tart apples

Preheat your oven to 350F/175C and grease a 9-inch pie pan.

Peel, core, and dice your apples. Chop up your almonds if they didn't come already chopped.

Norwegian apple pie batter

Now mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Since you're not adding much liquid at all, be prepared--your batter will be pretty thick and sticky.

Doesn't it look almost like a bowl of apples in caramel sauce?

Norwegian apple pie batter

Scoop your batter into the pie pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until lovely and golden brown. You can also do the toothpick test to ensure doneness.

That is it. Hooray! Zero effort; delicious pie. Cake. Pie cake.

We eat this totally plain--I know you're shocked, considering our lack of love for frosting--but it's also good with whipped cream or ice cream. Vanilla ice cream would clearly be good, but I can also see something in the butter pecan area working really well. If you're ambitious, you might even want to make a custard sauce and pour it over each serving. If you're feeling lazy, that's cool too--just eat it plain, or dust the top with powdered sugar. Everyone wins!

What tasty treats do you guys make for birthdays?

03 October 2012

Roasted tomatoes and zucchini

roasting sungold tomatoes and zucchini

It's my birthday! We're going to watch the presidential debate and then go out to dinner. In the meantime, would you like to see the feast I made the other night?

As you know, our garden is still churning out lots of cherry tomatoes and zucchini. That means we still need to use them up in quantity. What better way to do this than through roasting?

When you roast tomatoes, they melt into delicious pockets of goo. When you roast zucchini, the edges brown and crisp, while the insides turn tender. The end result is a pan of tasty bites in a pool of amazing tomatoey juice--perfect for soaking into a bowl of rice, couscous, or quinoa. Yay!

Roasted sungold tomatoes and zucchini

sungold tomatoes (or any other good tomato)
zucchini (or summer squash of your choice)
olive oil
salt, pepper

Preheat your oven to 350F/175C while you chop up roughly equal amounts of tomatoes and zucchini. I halved my tomatoes, since they were tiny cherries, and chunked my zucchini. If you have gigantic beefsteak tomatoes, you can chop everything into slices or wedges. It's fine to cut whatever shapes you want; the most important thing is to make sure that all your pieces are of similar size, so they'll all cook evenly. Put your vegetables in a casserole dish of your choice.

Smash a few cloves of garlic with the flat of your knife, peel them, and chop them roughly. Strew these chunks over your tomatoes and zucchini. Splash everything with a few glugs of olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and mix it all up.

roasting sungold tomatoes and zucchini

You can see that my mixing skills were perhaps not the best ever. Oh well.

Put your pan of vegetables in the oven and roast until the tomatoes have collapsed and the zucchini is tender and browning around the edges. This took about 35 or 40 minutes for us. Rotate the pan once during cooking, but don't stir--to make sure the zucchini gets a little crispy on top, you want to avoid a complete soak in tomato juice.

Serve over the grain or pasta of your choice, and top with whatever you like best. I decided the best possible course of action was to strew the finished veg and juices over some steamed couscous and add a perfectly fried egg.

Hooray! A tasty and filling dinner that uses up a large chunk of garden produce.

roasted sungold tomatoes and zucchini with couscous and fried egg

(I have got to get a better nighttime photo-taking setup together now that the sun is down by the time we eat dinner.)

What last fruit (and veg) of summer are you rushing to eat?

01 October 2012

October oatmeal

oatmeal with yogurt and toastes sesame seeds

October always sneaks up on me, probably because we live somewhere with no fall. My birthday is in two days. Yep. And I'm left with my jaw hanging open, because there is no rain, wind, or clouds, and we've actually had a heat advisory in effect the past few days. It can't possibly be October.

Oh well. At least I can eat hot oatmeal.

You guys know how to make oatmeal. Boil rolled oats with a pinch of salt and water to cover by a finger's width until done to your specifications. Easy. I had this bowl with a couple spoonfuls of plain yogurt and a handful of sesame seeds toasted in a little frying pan. Hot tea on the side. THAT is fall.

Now if only the leaves would turn red and the sky would turn grey.