Sunday, September 26, 2010

For Rachel

I heard Rachel is excited about canning. This is my favorite thing to put in jars. It comes from a beautiful book on preserving food called Well Preserved by Eugenia Bone.

Marinated Red Bell Peppers (fabulous on salad, pizza, pasta, sandwiches...)
This is a canning recipe for water bath canning.

4 lbs red bell peppers (8 to 10 medium), stems snipped off
1 c bottled lemon juice
2 c white wine vinegar with 5% acidity
1 c olive oil
2 medium garlic cloves, sliced (but, frankly, I add a lot more!)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Roast the peppers. Bone suggests this: Place the oven rack about 7 inches from the broiler and preheat the broiler. Place the peppers on a baking sheet and char them under the broiler, turning them often with tongs so that they blister all over, about 20 minutes. Let the peppers stand until cool enough to handle. Remove the charred skin, cut the peppers in half, and remove the seed pods.

Here's how I do it: Put the peppers on the grill to char the skin. Turn so all sides get charred and blistered. Put them in a paper sack and roll the top closed. This seems to help them steam a bit and loosen the skin more. I remove the skins under running water -- it seems to help get the sticky parts off while I rub at it with my fingers.

After they're skinned, do this:

1. Combine lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, garlic and salt in a saucepan and heat just to boiling over medium heat.
2. Have ready 3 scalded pint jars and their bands. (To scald, simply dip the jars in boiling water. You don't need to sterilize the jars, as you will be processing them for over 10 minutes.)
3. Simmer new lids in a small pan of water to soften the rubberized flange.
4. Pack the peppers into the jars and pour the marinade over them. Using a butter knife, pop any air bubbles in the jars.
5. Distribute the garlic slices evenly between the jars.
6. Be sure to leave 1/2 to 3/4 inch of headspace in the jars, or your seal might fail -- peppers puff up some during the water bath process, and if there isn't enough space for the air to be pushed out of the jar by the heat, the pressure will push oil as well and the seals won't stick.
7. Wipe the rims, place on the lids, and screw the bands on fingertip tight.
8. Process the peppers in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. The boiling water must cover the tops of the lids the whole time, so keep an eye on things. If it doesn't, you need to stop timing until you add new water and get it re-boiling, then start timing again.
9. After 15 minutes, turn off the heat and let the jars sit for 5 minutes, then remove from water and let them sit 4 - 6 hours. Check the seals and store in a cool, dry place for up to a year.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

September 18 - 23

We cooked a duck!

Bought a duck this summer from our CSA. I was a little intimidated, especially when many people I told either said, "Why would you cook a duck?" or "I hear duck is really hard to cook." Hmmmmm. So we went to Julia Child and she told us what to do, and of course it involved using the majority of utensils we own.

But last night we cooked the duck. It had good flavor but was kind of chewy, so I have mixed feelings about it. We all survived, so I guess I consider it a success!

And with that, here's the plan for the rest of the week. Nothing else from a Julia Child cookbook...

Roast duck stuffed with sausage and apples
Roasted potatoes

Chili! It's cool, and there's football on. So how could we not?
We'll probably make it with a mixture of ground buffalo and sausage.
Mozzarella cornbread -- bought some at the farmers' market a few weeks back, tossed it in the freezer, and re-discovered it yesterday. It was the real reason for the chili today -- I wanted to eat it and had to think of something that would go with it.

Whole wheat linguini with pomodoro sauce (got this recipe from Runner's World -- not my usual go-to for cooking tips, but this sounded lovely!)

Grilled ribeye
sauteed mushrooms and onions
grilled mixed veggies (chop tomatoes, zucchini, baby eggplant, onion, add olive oil, salt and pepper, wrap in foil and put on top rack of grill for a 20 or 30 minutes)

Fajitas! Saute thin slices of venison steak, mushrooms, bell pepper, onion. Add some spicy spices (cayenne, cumin, garlic salt) and a bit of water and simmer down. Put in warmed tortillas and top with tomato, salsa, sour cream, etc.

Fried rice: Saute sliced red onion, red bell pepper, shiitake mushroom, matchstick zucchini, broccoli. Add cold cooked brown rice. Add some shrimp. Season with soy sauce and chili paste. At the end, make a well in the middle of the pan and scramble an egg or two. When they're cooked, gently fold them in with the rest of the rice.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 12 - 16

I planned this week's menu in the middle of my canning-palooza... I get a batch of tomato jars cooking, then have 40 minutes to kill before I go back and do it all over again. Trying to tackle a whole bushel this year. That's a lotta tomatoes.

So probably not much in the way of tomatoes for dinner this week. I'm thinking I'll need a break. But I'm loving the cooler weather (though I don't want it to get too cold too fast) and am ready for soup!

Our fall-ish menu for the week:
And happy NFL, by the way! Yahoo for football Sundays!

Veggie beef soup: we have a big old soup bone, and we'll brown that then put it in a pan and build around it. I'm reserving the right to make a game-time decision, but now I'm thinking: saute an onion, brown the soup bone, add some water, simmer. Add other good stuff (carrots? potatoes? garlic? tomatoes? okay -- I know I said I wouldn't use them this week, but it's soup. It needs them. What else? Maybe some chopped zucchini? I don't know. Maybe some barley?).

This will need crusty bread, I think.

Mushroom ravioli with onions and basil and parmesan

Grilled sole: lay it out on foil, coat with olive oil, salt and pepper, and sprinkle capers all around. Grill until the thin edges get a little brown and crispy and lovely.
With it: roasted pattypan squash, bread

Probably a good day for leftovers -- soup, or ravioli, or if there aren't any leftovers, little flatbread pizzas will be nice, done on the grill with mushrooms, basil, sausage, feta...

Fall means lentils!
Venison chops, pan-seared then a little bit of red wine and garlic and salt and pepper added for a little sauce
Lentils: cook them, add some sliced roasted red pepper and balsamic vinegar

Yum. I'm hungry NOW.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Dinner... the Back To School edition

School starts this week. Need I say more?

Trying to stick with the Meatless Monday idea, but knowing that when we come home from up north, pizza is usually on the menu... so I planned ahead a bit, and made sure we had stuff for salad:

Saute half a red onion, a handful of sliced mushrooms, a sliced red pepper and a few green beans in some olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add to a big bowl of lettuces. Dress with balsamic vinegar. Mix. Add shredded Parmesan cheese. Top with a fried egg if you wish.

Some toasted baguette on the side.


I don't cook on the first day of school. So I don't know what we'll eat, but I know I won't be preparing anything. Maybe it will be red wine and dark chocolate.


BLTs: I like mine with mustard instead of mayo. Is that bad?
Fruit salad


boiled baby potatoes
whatever veggies have ripened in the garden during the last week...

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