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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Soup with Dumplings

Last night, as Hurricane Sandy blew through New York and threatened the Maine coast, I was trying to cook soup before the power went out. I wanted to have something on hand that I could heat quickly outside on the propane stove if we lost our power, so I rustled through the fridge and cupboard and gathered a bunch of filling ingredients. Lucky for us, the power did not go out and we were able to have the soup tonight, cooked right in the kitchen. Originally this was just a hodge-podge soup, but when I went to heat it up for tonight, I thought I should add something special to it, to celebrate making it through the Hurricane. We were blessed here in Maine, unlike our friends and family in New York City, who are still without power.

This soup is really open to interpretation when it comes to the vegetables, but the combination here made for a delicious, rooty soup that stuck to our bones and warmed our bellies. The dumplings were a first for me - I have not only never cooked them, but I haven't eaten them since I was a child. I'm not sure why, but I always had an inversion to the mere thought of dumplings. Boy am I glad that I pushed myself past that and whipped up these bad boys tonight. What a perfect addition to any soup. I would strongly suggest cooking this soup, then letting it sit for a day. I didn't strain the fat from cooking the beef, so after sitting in my fridge all day, there was a thin layer of fat over the top. I stirred this back in and it made for a delicious, thick and hearty soup.

Hurricane Soup
serves 4

1T safflower oil
1/4 C onion, chopped
2 T garlic, chopped
1 lb ground beef
2 bulbs fennel, sliced
1 C carrots, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 1/2 C black beans (I cooked mine the day before from dried beans, but you just use a can of black beans)
2 C spinach, chopped
1/2 C groats
6 C stock
1/2 C coffee
2 T dried Italian seasoning mix (parsley, oregano, etc.)
salt & pepper

In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat and saute onions and garlic until garlic starts to brown. Add in ground beef and cook until brown all the way through - do not strain soup, keep the fat in there. Stir in fennel and cook 2 minutes. Pour in stock and coffee, toss in carrots and raise heat to medium high, gently bringing to a boil. Once it boils, drop it down to a medium low. Cook until carrots are tender, but not cooked through, just about 5 minutes. Add in groats and cook for 20 minutes until they are soft. Add in Italian seasonings, salt and pepper and black beans. If you are eating this tonight, cook for 5 minutes, then add spinach and cook for another 5 minutes. Drop in dumplings (recipe to follow), and cook, partly covered, at a  gentle boil, for 20 minutes. If you are not serving tonight, do not add spinach, but cover soup and put in the fridge. When you pull it out to cook, warm pot of soup over medium low heat until warm. Add the spinach and cook 5 minutes, then drop in dumplings as stated above.

(makes 10 golf ball sized)

1 C wheat flour
1/2 t salt
2 t baking powder
T butter
1/2 C milk
2 T Italian Seasoning
1/4 C shredded cheese

In a bowl mix together flour, salt, baking powder and Italian seasoning. Cut in butter, and then toss in cheese. Add milk and mix thoroughly. Roll into balls and drop in gently boiling soup. Loosely cover the pot and simmer soup with dumplings for 20 minutes.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Shepherd's Pie for Food Day

Today, October 24th is Food Day - a nationwide celebration and movement for healthy, sustainable and affordable food. I decided that our dinner was going to be 100% local, to show our support for local farmers' and meat suppliers. We haven't had Shepherd's Pie in quite some time, and I know that it's my kids favorite. I happened to have some ground beef in the freezer from Bisson's Meat Market in Topsham, and a bunch of yummy veggies from our CSA at Little Ridge Farm, especially some delicious potatoes that would make a perfect topping for the Pie. I layered my pie in rotating fall colors for fun, too! But the best part about Shepherd's Pie is that there's no single rule for vegetables, just use what's in your house and what you enjoy.

Earlier in the day, I posted on Facebook that it was Food Day and asked everyone what they were doing to celebrate. Maggie, my partner in crime for Baked Baking, sent me a message from New Hampshire to say that she was making some Shepherd's Pie with venison! Without even planning, we were making nearly the same meal for dinner. I decided on the spot that we should each write down our recipe and post it on the blog. Even being a state away can't keep us from whipping up some yummy and inspirational grub. Here is my version of Shepherd's Pie. Maggie's will be coming soon. Enjoy!

Shepherd's Pie
(serves 4-6)

1 lb ground beef
1/2 C BBQ sauce (I used my friend's No Susquehanna Sauce)
2 T soy sauce
1/3 C leeks, white parts only, sliced
1/4 C green sweet pepper, chopped
1 C butternut squash, boiled & mashed
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 C broccoli, chopped
2 C sorrel, chopped
1 C carrots, sliced
2 C potatoes, cubed
8 T butter
salt & pepper
2 cloves garlic
1/2 C cheese (I used a mix of cheddar and mozzarella)

Preheat oven to 350. In a skillet, brown ground beef, then add BBQ sauce and soy sauce, mix well. Place in greased deep dish pie plate. In same skillet, saute leeks and pepper until soft, then spoon over meat mixture. Meanwhile, in a sauce pan, place peeled butternut squash in water/stock/broth, just until covered and boil until soft. Mash with 1 T butter and nutmeg and spread over leeks and peppers. In same skillet you cooked beef, heat 1 T butter and saute broccoli and sorrel until soft - sorrel will cook quick, just keep stirring until broccoli is tender. Spoon this mixture over squash. In same skillet, heat 2 T butter and toss in carrots, cooking until brown on all sides. Add in 1/2 C water/stock/broth and cook until liquid is absorbed. Spoon carrots over broccoli mixture. Bring a large pot of water/stock/broth to boil and add in potatoes and garlic. When potatoes are soft, drain and mash with 3 T butter and cheese, salt and pepper. Spread over the top of the pie and dot with remaining butter. Bake for 35 minutes.

1/4 C onion, chopped
2 T butter
2 T flour
2 T soy sauce
1 1/2 C stock/broth
1 T tahini
salt & pepper

In a small saucepan, heat butter and saute onions for 2 minutes. Add flour and mix thoroughly. Cook for another 5 minutes over medium heat. Add soy sauce and stock/broth and bring to a boil for 1 minute. Add in tahini and mix thoroughly. Use a food processor, blender or hand held mixer and puree gravy. Sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste.

Serve Shepherd's Pie hot, topped with gravy. Bon Appetit!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Huevos Ranchubby

The Baked Baking team was back in the kitchen again this weekend, raring to cook up something yummy. I sent Maggie a message about making savory crepes for our brunch, showed up with a bag of farm fresh veggies, and the rest just came together. This morning, tired from the night before and ready for a feast, Maggie and I hauled our sore, sleepy bones into the kitchen with nothing more than an idea - Huevos Rancheros in a crepe! I brought some rainbow chard, she had black beans and seemed like the logical choice. The name emerged when we offered Maggie's husband a sneak taste of the lime infused crepes and he exclaimed: That was so good I got a chubby from it! So, ladies, if you want to help your man pitch a tent, then Hueves Ranchubby should be on your next brunch menu.

Before getting into the recipe, however, I'd like to explain Baked Baking's method of cooking. First off, we never have a full plan of what we are going to make. It's more like we have a general idea, we pillage the cupboards and fridge, we goof off, we mess up, and then voila, we serve food. The idea is to use up extras around the kitchen, and let the food take us where it wants to go. Along the way we will fill the house with laughter and love.

Huevos Ranchubby
(serves 4-6)

1/2 C onion, chopped
2 C rainbow chard, chopped (stems sliced thinly and set aside
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
1/2 C tomato, chopped

1 portobella mushroom, chopped
1 C black beans
1/2 C bacon, chopped
2 T butter
1 t salt
2 T lime juice
1/2 t pepper
1/2 cayenne pepper
1 T garlic powder
2 T cumin
2/3 C water

Lime-Infused Crepes:
2 eggs
1 C milk
2/3 C flour
1 1/2 t oil
pinch of salt
zest from 1/2 lime
4 T butter

...The Rest
8-12 eggs (plan for 2 per person)
1-2 t vinegar
1 C cheddar cheese, shredded
sour cream
1/2 lime

Poach eggs in boiling water and vinegar (instructions here), then set in a bowl full of ice and water and place in freezer. To reheat once the filling and crepes are done, simply bring a pot of water to boil, drop eggs in and cook 30 seconds.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except butter and mix with a beater until smooth. Add zest from lime and incorporate well. Heat 8 inch skillet over medium heat and melt a 1/2 T butter until it starts to turn golden. Pour in about 1/4 C crepe mix into skillet and gently tip it around so that the crepe fills out to the sides of the pan. Cook about 2-3 minutes, or until bottom is starting to brown. Gently flip over the crepe and cook another minute on other side. Set in a warm oven on a plate. Repeat until all crepes are made, leaving stack in the oven until ready to fill.

In a large skillet, heat 2 T butter over medium heat and add onions. Turn heat to medium low and cook until they are caramelized, stirring often. Add in chard stems and jalapeno, and cook 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, mushrooms, chard leaves and black beans. In a small bowl whisk water, lime juice, cumin, cayenne, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Pour into pan and bring heat to medium high. All this to cook until all liquid has been absorbed. Check flavor of filling and adjust as necessary. Push all the filling to one side of the pan and add bacon into empty side. Cook until just before it starts to crisp up, then mix filling and bacon together in pan.

Now to build Huevos Ranchubby's - lay a crepe flat and put 1/3 C filling in it, a poached egg, and a sprinkle of cheese. Roll one end over the filling and egg, fold the sides up over those, then roll towards other end. Continue this with all of the crepes, filling and eggs. Squeeze a bit of lime juice over them and serve with salsa and sour cream.

Baked Baking Presents....

This page is turning a new leaf. It will no longer be the simple musings of my day to day recipes, but a collaboration with my friend Maggie, as we take you into the silliness of Baked Baking. The idea emerged on Labor Day weekend, with a spur of the moment brunch, followed by dinner and Melon Risotto Rolls. Maggie is a self-proclaimed control freak in the kitchen, that doesn't like people getting in her way. I am the opposite, and find enjoyment in a clustered kitchen - but I'm also a control freak, and tend to end up doing most of the cooking myself, even if others are competent. But when we found each other, everything changed. There was an instant rhythm about our cooking styles that was apparent to everyone in the house. Baked Baking emerged from that.

Baked Baking Presents Brunch Casserole

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Biscuit Pot Pie

With colder weather on our doorstep here in Maine, I was craving something warm, something that would fill the house with wonderful odors, and would warm our bones around the dinner table. I did a quick perusal of the fridge and veggie baskets, and noticed it was all root veggies. Yum! That could only mean one thing in this house - Pot Pie. I owe a great deal of gratitude to a special little girl that I could call my step-daughter for 3 years. Her favorite meal was Pot Pie, and every Thanksgiving and Birthday, she requested one from me. I had never made pie crust before that, but not one to back down from a challenge, I persevered. My pie crust improved each time, until she even commented that it was pretty darn good. However, tonight I didn't feel like making pie crust - I was craving something different.

Recently I've been trying my hand at biscuits - another item I'm not too good at. The first batch was a failure. The second batch was quite decent. Tonight I decided that I would whip up a double batch and make a unique Pot Pie AND master my biscuits. I'm proud to say that it was a success. The biscuits were delicious, and added a definite uniqueness to the Pot Pie experience. I still like a good pie crust on there, but this will most certainly get made again - probably as a Thanksgiving re-do.

Biscuit Pot Pie
(serves 4-6)

4 C flour (mix it up with Pastry, Whole Wheat, or White)
8 t baking powder
2 t salt
4 t sugar
1 t Cream of Tartar
1 C lard (or vegetable shortening)
1 1/3 C milk
2 T sage, fresh and minced
1/2 C cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl sift flour, stir in baking powder, salt, sugar and cream of tartar. Using a pastry tool, cut in lard until the mixture resembles a coarse cornmeal like texture. Stir in milk and split into 2 equal parts. In one half, mix in sage. In other half mix in cheese. Take the sage biscuits and press into an oiled deep dish pie plate or large cast iron skillet, pressing up onto the side. Bake in oven for 10 minutes and remove to cool a bit. Meanwhile, put a little flour down on the counter and press the cheddar biscuits to about an inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter, or any other round form, press out about a dozen biscuits. Seet aside on a plate while cooking the filling. Lower heat in oven to 350 degrees and open door for a few minutes to help drop the temperature for the cooking of the pot pie.

T olive oil
1 C potato, cubed
1 C cooked chicken
1/4 C carrot, sliced
1/2 C onion, chopped
1/2 C mushrooms, chopped
1/2 C arugula, chopped
1/3 C chopped fresh herbs (I used sage, parsley and oregano)
2 T flour
1/2 C broth/stock/water
salt & pepper
1 T butter

In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium heat and add in onion, potatoes, and carrot. Saute about 10 minutes on medium heat, stirring often. Add in mushrooms, arugula and fresh herb and stir thoroughly. Cook until 3-5 minutes, until mushrooms have released their juices. Add in chicken and flour, and stir to combine and coat everything with flour. Pour in broth/stock/water, adding more if necessary - you want the veggies mostly submerged in liquid. Cover and cook about 5 to 10 minutes, until liquid has depleted by half. Stir in salt and pepper and cook another 2 minutes uncovered. Remove from heat and pour into biscuit lined pan. Top with cheddar biscuits and dab with butter. Bake for 30 minutes, or until biscuits have browned on top. Remove and let sit about 10 minutes before serving. If you desire, serve with a nice onion gravy.

Bon Appetit!