Monday, October 5, 2015

Nutty Peaches

This dessert is much like a fruit crisp but faster. It also is quite flexible; you can substitute according to what you've got in your kitchen.


Nutty Peaches

Adapted from Seasonal Fruit Desserts from Orchard, Farm, and Market by Deborah Madison
Serves 4

3/4 c toasted nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, or almonds are good; going to try pecans
5 T brown sugar
1/8 teas salt
1 1/2 T nut oil, walnut or hazelnut
1 1/2 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 freestone peaches, ripe but still firm
Frangelico, sweet wine, or water

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a baking dish that will hold 8 peach halves. (Deborah Madison notes that this is a dish that can easily be cooked in a toaster oven but for about half the time, or less. I've used a toaster oven when I've halved the recipe.)

In a food processor, grind the nuts until quite finely ground but not turning into a nut butter. It is alright to have some small pieces. Add the oil and butter and pulse until the mixture is moist and somewhat sticky.

Rinse and dry the peaches, or wipe them with a damp cloth. Slice them in half along their seams. Twist the halves apart and take out the pits. If you like, you may enlarge the cavity a bit with a teaspoon, but I have never felt I needed to do so. Leave the skin on the peaches since this helps them hold their shape.

Using a tablespoon from your flatware, scoop some of the nut mixture and press it into the peach cavity. Place them in the baking dish and pour a little Frangelico or wine or a bit of water into the dish. The peaches will release juices as they bake and it will mix with the liquid of your choice and with the butter, making their own sauce. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and set to cool for about 5 minutes and serve.

If you use only some of the nut topping for this quick dessert, it lasts for a long time in the fridge, or it can be frozen.


I've made this successfully with all butter rather than a mixture of nut oil and butter.

If you want more flavor but want to avoid the alcoholic beverages, stir in a half teaspoon of almond extract into the nut mixture.

Madison writes of using this recipe with apricots as well. Maybe it would work with other fruits, too.

A serving option is to partially whip some cream until it is fluffy (but not holding anything like a peak), flavoring it with a little vanilla and almond extract. Put a couple tablespoonfuls of the cream in the center of a plate; place the peaches in the cream and serve.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Philly Cheesesteak Style Stuffed Green Peppers

Earlier this summer I was gone almost two weeks, and I came home to lots of green peppers in my garden. This is how I used them.


Philly Cheesesteak Style Stuffed Green Peppers

Source: Amber Spackman Jones, I think via
Serves 4

8 oz thinly sliced deli roast beef
8 slices provolone cheese
2 large green bell peppers
1 medium sweet onion, sliced
6 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 T butter
2 T olive oil
1 T minced garlic (3-6 cloves, depending on their size)
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add oil. When butter and oil are hot, add garlic and stir for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Then add mushrooms and onions; sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook for about 30 minutes until the onions are caramelized and the mushrooms are soft.

Preheat oven to 400F. Slice peppers in half lengthwise, and remove the seeds and ribs.

Slice roast beef into thin strips and add to onions and mushrooms. Cook for another 5 minutes or so. In the meantime, line each green pepper half with a slice (or half a slice, if your peppers are small) of provolone cheese. Stuff each pepper with the meat filling until nearly overflowing. Top with another piece of cheese.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until cheese is golden brown.

Note that this recipe is flexible in its amounts. I used probably 5 green peppers, most of which were small. It's harder to stuff smaller peppers, but doable. I roughly one-and-a-halfed the rest of the ingredients, and it turned out great.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Ty's Favorite Pork Carnitas

Tyler often wants to make this dish when he is in a country where pork is easier to acquire than it is in Turkey. He also doesn't carry the recipe with him so I'm putting it here where he can find it easily. We follow instructions from Rick Bayless but he has published at least two variations, one of which recommends cooking the pork in lard. This is a very tasty method, but lard without a bunch of shelf-stablizing chemicals is hard to find. In the version below, the pork ends up frying in its own fat which is essentially the same as being cooked in lard. This is a simple but wonderful taco filling on its own but can be combined with other authentic foods to make a real Mexican taco.


Ty's Favorite Pork Carnitas

Source:  Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen
Serves 2-4, depending on other fillings

1 pound boneless pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
(this can also be done with country-style ribs but increase the amount since some will be bones)
1/2 t salt
1 T fresh lime juice, optional but very tasty

Place the pork in a heavy 2-quart saucepan and cover with water by 1/2 inch. Add lime juice and 1/2 teas salt. Over medium heat, bring to a simmer with the pot partially covered. Continue to cook until the water and lime juice are absorbed. The meat will begin to fry in its own fat (this takes about an hour). Turn the heat down to low or medium low, cover the pot and cook, turning the meat often until it is evenly browned. As it cooks it will become tender. Using two forks shred the pork and serve on warm corn tortillas.

This recipe is easy to multiply.

Pork shoulder will have good amounts of fat to render. I prefer it to the country-style ribs, which can vary in quality in the supermarket. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Corn Omelet

I've been cooking a form of this omelet/frittata most summers for several years now. I discovered it in a book by Deborah Madison, whose cookbooks hold consistently reliable recipes. The combination of corn and basil was a pleasant surprise to me and it continues to be one of my favorite duos. Frittatas and omelets are by nature flexible so this recipe can be considered a guideline.


Corn Omelet

Adapted from Vegetarian Dinners by Deborah Madison
Serves 4-6


The original recipe calls for smoked mozzarella cheese, which is indeed delicious. However, it isn't something that is a staple in my cheese drawer and since I consider a frittata to be a speedy meal I usually end up using whatever cheese I've got--usually Emmentaler or Parmesan.

Also, the original recipe is for one serving and directs the cook to slide the mostly cooked "omelet" onto and plate and place the skillet upside down on it so it can be inverted. This works pretty well with a small skillet, but since I've increased this, I find finishing under the broiler works better. However, if your skillet isn't oven-proof or if you don't like to heat a non-stick skillet that hot, do the inversion. It is a bit tricky but can be done.

As you can see, I replaced some corn with potato in the omelet in the photo above. It was good but I think I prefer using just corn and cheese. But you may like it with potatoes; if so add 1 or 2 small potatoes cooked and cubed.


2 T butter
5 large eggs
1 splash water, or about 2 T
2 ears fresh corn, kernels cut off
1/2 teas salt
a few grinds of pepper from a pepper mill, or 1/4 teas ground pepper
cheese, a couple of handfuls shredded smoked mozzarella or Emmentaler or whatever you have
15-20 basil leaves, stacked, rolled and thinly sliced (chiffonade)


Cook the corn, either in the microwave or in a 10-skillet oven-proof non-stick skillet (in a bit of water). Drain the corn. Set heat to medium. Melt butter into the corn, if you cooked it in the skillet; otherwise, add the corn to the melted butter. While corn cooks, stir together the eggs, water, seasonings, cheese and basil leaves. Pour this mixture over the corn and allow to cook until nearly set on top, checking (by lifting the edge with a table knife) occasionally to see how brown the bottom is getting. Place the oven proof skillet under the broiler for a few minutes, depending on your broiler, until lightly browned and puffy.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Shish Taouk (Chicken Kebabs)

A common preparation for chicken I ate often in Bahrain. It is usually cooked on skewers. I'm too lazy to mess with them and cook the chicken pieces on a screen on my grill.


Shish Taouk (Arabic Chicken Kebabs)

Adapted from:  Arabian Gulf Cookbook  by Suzi Wells 
Serves 4

2 pds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 1/2-in pieces
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 T lemon juice
1/8-1/2 teas cayenne pepper
1/4 teas black pepper
1/4 teas ground cumin
1/2 teas salt
2 T vegetable or olive oil

Mix the lemon juice, oil, garlic, spices, and seasonings together in a wide container. Add the chicken cubes and stir until they are all completely coated in the mixture. Cover and marinate for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator, turning the chicken a few times to ensure even marination. Thread the chicken pieces onto skewers and grill over a barbecue for 10-15 minutes, turning so each piece browns evenly. Another method is to cook over a screen or on oiled foil (with holes poked through with a fork). The chicken can also be sauteed on the stove top but you won't get any smoky flavor.

Traditional accompaniments are hummus and pita, tabouli salad, and a rice pilaf. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Slow-cooker Greek Stifado (Beef Stew with Tiny Onions and Spices)

I've been wanting to make a this Greek beef stew for years. I was happy with how this recipe turned out both in flavor and ease of preparation.


Slow-cooker Greek Stifado (Beef Stew with Tiny Onions and Spices)

Adapted from The Mediterranean Slow Cooker by Michele Scicolone
Serves 6-8

2-3 T olive or vegetable oil
3 1/2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
24 pearl onions, trimmed, or frozen pearl onions, thawed
1/2 c dry red wine
1/4 c cognac, optional
3 T red wine vinegar
1 28-oz can tomato puree (or 1 can whole tomatoes, blended)
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of fresh thyme (or 1/2 teas dried thyme)
1 cinnamon stick
4-6 whole cloves
1 teas allspice berries
1/2 whole nutmeg, smashed and broken (optional)
chopped mint (optional)

Pat the beef dry and season with salt and pepper. In batches, brown the beef in the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Turn on the slow-cooker and when each batch of beef is browned, place inside the cooker.

Add the chopped onions to the skillet and cook over medium heat until softened. Add garlic and stir, cooking just a minute. Stir in wine, vinegar, and pearl onions. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook for 5 minutes or so. Remove from heat and pour into the slow-cooker. Stir in the tomato puree.

In a piece of cheese cloth, place the bay leaf, thyme, cinnamon stick, cloves, allspice berries, and nutmeg. Tie with with twine and place in the slow-cooker.

Stir everything together and cook for an hour on high and 6-7 hours on low until the beef is very tender.

Remove the herb/spice packet. Serve hot on orzo, rice, mashed potatoes, or couscous. Sprinkle each serving with chopped mint.


Other online recipes suggest cumin and/or rosemary. I thought the cumin might make flavors rather muddy.

If you don't cook with alcohol, increase the vinegar by a tablespoon or two and when finished cooking, taste it. The flavor should be somewhat tart.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Avocado Cucumber Salad

The textures in this salad are fabulous: crunchy cucumber paired with soft, creamy avocado. It doesn't keep well. It is possible to finish up a serving the following day, but it's better on the day you make it. There won't be many leftovers, I promise. And, as an added bonus, it takes about 10 minutes to throw together!


Avocado Cucumber Salad

Source: Smitten Kitchen
Serves: 4

1 seedless cucumber, 3/4-1 pound
1-2 scallions, to taste
1 large avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
2 T mayonnaise
juice of 1 lime or more to taste
pinch of salt or to taste
hot sauce, to taste
handful of chopped Italian parsley or cilantro, chopped

Combine vegetables in a bowl. Whisk together mayonnaise, lime juice, salt, and hot sauce, if using. Stir dressing into salad and taste, adjusting seasonings as needed. Sprinkle with parsley or cilantro and serve.