Dreamy's Delights

It's all about the food!

Sauerkraut – Take 2

Well, after roughly three weeks of fermenting, I pulled the sauerkraut out of the crock. I got about 3 quarts out of the two heads of cabbage I used. Tane stopped by last night and I asked her if she wanted some. I had her taste it first to make sure it was ok. After sealing the jar back up to send home with her, I turned my back and when I looked at her again she was eating another big bit of it. I took this to mean that it was good lol.

So I had acquired another three heads of cabbage and decided to make another batch last night. I also decided to jazz it up a bit. The cabbage is layered with red onion, carrots and dill. I put a layer of dill on the bottom, cabbage, onion, carrot, dill, cabbage, onion, carrot, dill and a last layer of cabbage. Slightly less than 24 hours later it already smells good.

Now, I have an OLD fermenting crock. Unlike some of the newer crocks, it doesn’t have a lid or weights. The last batch, I used a plate with a half gallon jar of honey on top for the weight. The problem was that the plate wasn’t quite big enough. Fortunately, we have a business called TAP plastics nearby. I had Jene get me a 9″ diameter circle of food grade plastic cut. It fits in the crock perfectly and then I can use my jar of honey for the weight. Now I just get to wait for 2-3 weeks before it’s done.

My next project will most likely be fermented pickles. I’m excited to be trying all this new stuff with fermentation. 🙂

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Chile-Lime Roasted Corn on the Cob

I made this for a party tonight and it was so popular I promised to post the recipe. So here it is!

Recipe

9 ears corn on the cob, husked

1 stick unsalted butter

1 large lime, juiced

1 TB chile power

2 tsp ground cumin

2-3 tsp kosher salt

aluminum foil cut into 12-15 inch lengths

If you have time, soften the butter to room temperature. If you don’t have time, you can soften/melt it in the microwave. You don’t want it hot, just soft enough you can easily mix in the lime juice and seasonings.

So, juice the lime, add the lime juice, chile powder, cumin and salt to the butter. Mix thoroughly. Slather on the ears of corn. Roll the corn up in the foil. You can then grill it or roast it in the oven depending on whether or not you have the grill in use for something else. I’ve been known to roast it in the oven when I just want the corn without firing up the grill.

The seasonings can be adjusted for preference. If you want it spicy, put in a bit of cayenne pepper.

I’m glad everyone enjoyed this so much tonight!

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Garlic Mashed Potatoes

This is one of those side dishes that sounds easy to make and IS if you think about what you’re doing. Believe it or not, it took me several years to find just the right way to make them. I tried roasting garlic and stirring it in, chopping garlic and stirring it in and then finally, ran across a recipe where you boil whole garlic cloves with the taters and then mash them in. Talk about a cross between an “AH HA!” and a “DOH!”

So the first step is to get some potatoes. Now that you’re standing in the store staring at the potatoes, you realize “Oh! There’s more than one kind of potato!” Most people are most familiar with the standard Russet potato. It’s got a slightly rough, brown skin and is used for things like baked potatoes all the time. However, you’ve also got red potatoes, white potatoes and gold potatoes. Each one has a slightly different flavor and texture. My personal favorite is a gold potato. It’s creamier like a red potato but not quite as soft. It’s got a thinner skin like a red which makes it perfect for leaving the skin on during mashing. Everyone has their own little preferences. My dad swears up and down that the only potato worth eating is a russet. I think he’s missing out lol. And in case you want to get really brave, you can also find purple potatoes and other “heirloom” varieties. Be prepared to shell out some big bucks but it’s fun sometimes.

Ok, so you’ve picked out your potatoes of whatever flavor. The next step is to prep them for cooking. If you’re using russet potatoes you want to peel them first. If you’re using red skin, white or gold potatoes you can leave the skins on. Just wash them really well then chop them into chunks and put them in a pot large enough so that you can cover them with liquid and they don’t boil over. Add several peeled cloves of garlic (about 1 large clove per pound of potatoes.)

This is where you can get creative. Nothing in the rules says you have to use water to boil your potatoes. I am currently boiling them in beef stock. I’ve also used bacon fat as part of my boiling liquid in the past too. You can add herbs to the water too. This is a chance to add some different flavors and play around with your food. And you can always stick with water if that’s what you have handy.

Once you have your potatoes, garlic and liquid in the pot, place it on the stove over medium high heat. Let it come to a boil and simmer until the potatoes are tender but not falling apart. I’m sure there’s some sort of time guideline out there but I just stick a fork in a chunk of potato. If the fork slides in easy, they’re done. If not, they boil a bit longer.

Once the tater chunks are tender, drain off the liquid. I just put a colander in the sink and pour everything out of the pot. Set the pot a cool burner or a trivet. The following is for about 3 pounds of poatoes:  Start with a 1/2 stick of butter and put it in the bottom of the pan. Then put the drained potatoes back into the pot. Grab some heavy cream and pour in about 1/2 cup. Use a potato masher to mash everything into a creamy consistency. Add a bit more butter and cream if you need to. Season with salt and pepper.

This is another area of personal preference. Jene prefers his potatoes super smooth and silky. I like mine a bit chunky. Do whatever you like to make them the way you want them. Taste test frequently as you go along so that you know they’re rich and buttery. Enjoy!

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Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad is almost the most basic thing you can make. It has a whopping five ingredients (seven if count salt and pepper). What makes MY caprese salad amazing is that I’m using mozzarella that I made myself and basil that I grew myself. Later this summer, I’ll even be able to use my home grown tomatoes. How’s that for home made! lol

So the recipe is really simple. Slices of mozzarella cheese layered with a basil leaf and a slice of tomato, topped off with either olive oil or a balsamic vinegar reduction (or just the vinegar out of the bottle if you’re lazy like me).  Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper if you choose. I don’t but Jene loves lots of black pepper on his. 🙂

To me, this recipe is the epitome of summer decadence. If you’re lucky, you can eat it with tomatoes that are so fresh from the vine that they’re still warm from the kiss of the sun.

A note about the balsamic vinegar reduction. Reducing the vinegar will give you a thick, syrupy sauce to make graceful and elegant zig zag lines across your salad. It also refines and concentrates the flavor. If I were serving this for a party, I would make the reduction. When it’s just Jene and I and just a couple of bites worth, I don’t bother. 🙂

And here’s a lovely picture of my salad that I’m about to eat!capresesalad

You can see a tiny little corner of basil leaf sticking out from the top right bit. It’s lovely to be able to wander out onto the desk and pick a couple of basil leaves for this. I’m growing Genovese Basil and African Blue Basil. This particular one is the African. It’s milder than the Genovese which makes it rather nice for this dish. The basil flavor isn’t quite so over whelming. Enjoy!

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Garden Potato Salad

This recipe comes from my mom’s mom (Grandma Elaine) and it’s been a family tradition my whole life. It is the potato salad to which I compare all other potato salads. I take it to parties and my friends refer to it as THE potato salad. So for the first time ever, here is the recipe, written (or typed) down.

Base Potato Salad– for those who don’t like their veggies (like my dad)

5 lbs of russet or yukon gold potatoes (my parents like russet and i like the yukon gold)

6 hard boiled eggs, finely diced

1 1/2 cups celery, diced

1/2 – 1 whole onion, diced or minced (I HATE big pieces of onion in my salad so I run it through the food processor to make it mush. Then I have the flavor but no big pieces. My mom loves big pieces, so it’s strictly personal preference.)

This next list of ingredients is by weight. I eyeball the measurements so I couldn’t tell you how many cups. I decided it was easiest to put the bowl on a kitchen scale and get the weight as I went along.

9 ounces of Miracle Whip (NOT Mayonnaise! Trust me on this. By the time you get it all mixed up you would never know it was Miracle Whip but the flavor of mayo is just not quite right.)

5 ounces sweet pickle relish

1 1/2 ounces yellow mustard

1 TB kosher salt

2 tsp Salad Herbs (recipe to follow)

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

The first thing to do is cook the potatoes. I leave them skin on and whole, put them in a pot of water and boil until fork tender. Let them cook then skin them. Leave them whole and then use a potato masher to mash each potato ONE time. This will give a combination of very small pieces and larger pieces which a consistency similar to very chunky mashed potatoes. It allows the potatoes to soak up the Miracle Whip, mustard and pickle relish without being soupy. I really, really hate soupy potato salad.

potatosalad1

This picture shows me in the process of mashing the taters. If there are any really big pieces, I break them up with my fingers to something resembling bite sized. Once this is done, add the egg, onion, celery, miracle whip, mustard, pickle relish, salt, salad herbs and pepper. Mix thoroughly. This what we call our “base” potato salad. You can stop right here and it’s a very good, very basic potato salad. Or you can add some extra veggies to kick it up.

2 cups cucumber, diced

2 cups bell pepper, diced

2 cups fresh tomatoes, diced

Mix all that in and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

A word on veggies… If you’re making this during the summer, take the time to get stuff at the farmer’s market. There’s nothing like a good tomato to make this out of the world. During the other seasons I used English Cucumbers (the ones that come wrapped in plastic) for a couple of reasons. 1. the seeds are smaller and 2. the flavor is closer to what you get from a fresh garden grown cuke. I use NatureSweet Cherub tomatoes because again, the flavor is closer to what you get during the summer from your own garden. 99% of store bought tomatoes are horrible and I refuse to use them. That said, since it’s only April I used an english cucumber and cherub tomatoes.

potatosaladfinished

This is what it looks like finished. It sticks together kind of like mashed potatoes but it’s not that smooth. If anyone tries to make this, I’d really be interested to know what you think.

Finally, here’s the recipe for the Salad Herbs. This was a blend that was originally made by McCormick. We used it for years as the “secret ingredient” to finish this off. Then one day we couldn’t find it. McCormick had stopped making it. Woe and ruin! However, on a whim I emailed the company and surprisingly, they emailed me back with the recipe so that we could make it ourselves. I will always admire McCormick for being will to share that with our family.

Recipe for Salad Herbs

2 teaspoons dried tarragon
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4-1/2 teaspoon dried spearmint

Combine all ingredients. Mix gently. Store in an airtight container.

This mix gives the salad an herby touch that catches you a bit by surprise but not in a bad way. It gives a depth of flavor you usually don’t expect from a potato salad and high lights the sweetness of the extra veggies. Now that

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Mashed Cauliflower

At long last, I’m posting my recipe for mashed cauliflower! I’ve been asked for it several times over the last few months but I’m lazy. I made it to top shepherd’s pie for dinner tonight.

Recipe

2 heads fresh cauliflower or 2 16oz bags frozen cauliflower

1/2 stick butter

1/3 cup milk or heavy cream

1/4-1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

If you’re using fresh cauliflower cut it into large pieces and remove the tough central stem. Put the pieces in a pot of boiling water. If you’re using frozen, just put it in the boiling water. Boil until the cauliflower is really tender. It would be considered overcooked if you were eating it alone but for this it needs to be soft.

Drain the cauliflower and put it back in the now empty pot with the butter, milk and parmesan cheese. Use a potato masher and mash until it is creamy and sort of smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

The reason for using the parmesan cheese is it acts as a binder. With mashed potatoes the natural starch helps it hold together but since cauliflower is lacking starch you need something else.

If you want to add a little extra flavor you can peel and cube up a celery root and cook it with the cauliflower. Celery root usually takes a bit longer to get soft to boil it for a few minutes before you add the cauliflower. It has a very mild celery flavor and I really like it. I didn’t have any today so this batch is celery root free.

Now that you know how to make mashed cauliflower, it can be used for just about anything that calls for mashed potatoes. I use it for shepherd’s pie and also for a side dish when I’m making gravy. Enjoy!

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Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is a dish I can take or leave, but Jene loves it. I don’t like serving him stuff out of a can so I’m making my own this year. Since I didn’t already have a recipe I was dying to try, I turned to my favorite website, http://www.epicurious.com

This site tends to have really good recipes and the instructions are easy to follow as well. In fact, my dressing recipe is from Epicurious as well. So here’s the link to the recipe. And then I’m gonna tweak it a bit. (Is anyone surprised?)

Recipe

yield: Makes about 2 1/2 cups

active time: 5 min

total time: 20 min

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
12-oz bag fresh or frozen cranberries (3 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
Bring water and sugar to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add cranberries and simmer, stirring occasionally, until berries just pop, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in zest, then cool.
Personally, I like my cranberry sauce a bit orangier and will be replacing about 1/4 cup of the water with orange juice and add a bit more orange zest. I will also reduce the sugar by a bit. This sounds like it will be much sweeter than I like.

 

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Creamy Cabbage & Kale (Sahniger Kohl & Grunkohl)

I was discussing this recipe with a fellow patient at Palo Alto Medical Foundation this morning. I couldn’t find it on my phone but knew I had it here at home. As I promised, I’m posting it. I don’t have any pictures since I’m not actually making it today lol.

Recipe

1 Kale bunch chopped & stemmed
1 lb Cabbage shredded
2 tb Corn oil
1/2 c Heavy cream
3/4 c Parmigian cheese grated
Salt & pepper to taste

Put your chopped kale in boiling water for 5-6 mins. until leaves are tender. Drain well.
Saute cabbage over medi-heat in oil until it softens. Add kale then saute for 2-3 mins.
Stir in your cream then simmer for 3-5 mins. while stirring often.
Add cheese then allow to melt slightly.
Remove from heat season with salt & pepper to taste.

Notes: If you like, chop 6 slices thick cut bacon and one small onion. Sauteed the bacon and onion in a large skillet. Do not drain the fat off, instead add the cabbage and sautee according to instructions, don’t use the oil.

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A busy day!

My youngest brother was supposed to be in town last night with his family as they move from San Diego, CA to Portland, OR. However, life being what it is, he didn’t make it until late tonight. In fact, at almost 8pm, he is at his hotel but has yet to make it to my house. Anyway, all of that aside, I did some cooking for them. Yesterday we smoked a brisket in anticipation. When we realized they wouldn’t be arriving we tested it for flavor (snicker) and put it in the fridge. This evening we sliced it thin and warmed it up in some duck stock.

After cooking the tomatoes I started yesterday for 12-14 hours or so I ran them through the food mill and have two pots of sauce simmering gently on the stove.

I made mayonnaise from scratch and used it to make coleslaw dressing. It’s incredibly rich and creamy. The dressing recipe makes a LOT. I used two bags of pre-cut coleslaw mix and a bag of broccoli slaw mix.

Recipe

2 cups mayonnaise

4-5 TB white wine vinegar

4 TB honey

2-3 TB Penzeys English Prime Rib Rub Seasoning

2-3 TB celery seed

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until everything combines and becomes smooth and creamy. Pour  over coleslaw and mix well.

I also sauteed some grey squash with onions, garlic and dill.

The only thing I’m missing is dessert and honestly, I’m worn out lol. I should go make brownies but honestly, I don’t have any room left on the stove top!

The picture on the right is the coleslaw looking all pretty in its bowl. The picture on the left is the pots of tomato sauce and the brisket in duck stock. The tomato sauce will reduce by about half over the course of the night on very low heat. I’m thinking I’ll get 5-6 quarts of sauce which is a lot better than I hoped.

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Tomato Salad

This recipe comes from my mom. I really can’t remember where she got it and I’m too lazy to call and ask. However, it is my absolute favorite summer salad recipe. I only make it during the summer when I can get true home-grown (preferably heirloom) tomatoes. This salad highlights the best flavors of summer’s bounty.

Recipe

4 cups, chopped fresh tomatoes

1 cup diced cucumber

1 cup diced celery

1/2 cup diced green/yellow/red sweet bell pepper

1/4 cup diced onion

1/2 cup oil

1/3 cup vinegar

1 TB sugar or honey (I prefer honey)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp dry mustard

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Mix the veggies in a large plastic or glass bowl. (Don’t use metal because it can react to the tomatoes and vinegar.) In a small bowl combine the vinegar, honey, and spices. Stir to combine and let sit for a couple of minutes to dissolve. Whisk in the oil and stir briskly. Pour over the salad and stir to combine. Serve chilled. As the salad level goes down, add more veggies to refresh. The vinegar based dressing works to semi-pickle the veggies and it keeps well for up to two weeks. It never lasts that long though lol.

I usually don’t take a distance picture of my food but I wanted to give you an idea of how big the bowl we filled was 😀 I’m extremely proud to say that ever bit of tomato and cucumber in that bowl was grown in my own garden. Jene has lovingly tended it for me this summer while my ankle was healing. There are four different types of tomato and two types of cucumber, all heirloom varieties.

This second picture is a close up where you can see the beautiful colors of the veggies.

This is a super easy to make salad but again, I only make it during the summer. I look forward to it all winter and dream of it as I plant my tomatoes each spring. Take the time to make it and try it. It’s worth the time spent chopping the ingredients.

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