Month: August 2014

60539_10152693450275466_885678489184922706_n

Summer’s Bounty!

The dog days of summer are drawing to a close, cool nights and warm, sunny August days. These are perfect days for working in the garden. I don’t get the required amount of sunlight in my backyard to allow me to grow vegetables, so I just plant herbs, and often cherry tomatoes. Isn’t it it exciting though when friends show up with a load of fresh produce from their garden and leave it on your porch?  The past couple of years I’ve been very fortunate with my good friends doing just that.   I had the opportunity to visit my friend’s Dad’s orchard this past July 4th, and what I saw was absolutely amazing!  Four acres with rows and rows of peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, squash, tomatoes, pumpkins, zucchini and fruit.  A lot of hard work tending to these fruit and vegetables and it was all lovingly cared for.   With the past harsh winter that we experienced, they lost quite a few of their fig trees, so I was not able to bake the Upside Down Fig Cake that I have made with the figs in previous years.  After all that tender loving care that went into them, I thought I could whip up a few dishes with some family favorites and some new ones to try.  Today, I present to you, Garden Fresh Spaghetti Sauce, Eggplant Gratin, and Zucchini Ribbons with Fresh Dill, Mint and Feta.   Summer’s bounty was surely put to good use.

60539_10152693450275466_885678489184922706_n

Garden Fresh Tomato Sauce 

  • 3 pounds Ground Beef (I used extra lean)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 whole large onions, diced
  • 2 whole green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 cup white wine (or low sodium beef broth if you prefer)
  • 6 fresh large tomatoes (peeled and diced)
  • 1 small 4 ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 chorizo link 
  • 1 tsp ground Oregano
  • 1 tsp ground Thyme
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning 
  • 3 whole bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 cup finely minced fresh parsley
  • 1 whole rind from one parmesan wedge (optional)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 pounds spaghetti, cooked al dente and tossed with olive oil
  • extra minced parsley, for serving
  • extra parmesan cheese, for serving 
  • fresh torn basil leaves 

Gathering my ingredients 

IMG_1114

In a large pot over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef until totally browned.  Remove meat from pot with a slotted spoon and put into a bowl.  Set aside. 

IMG_1118

IMG_1116

IMG_1119Discard any grease in pot. Drizzle in olive oil. When it is heated, throw in the diced onion, bacon and diced bell pepper. Stir it around for a couple minutes, then add the garlic, stir and cook for an additional minute. IMG_1120My secret ingredient is chorizo, cube a link of chorizo and add it to the pot. At this point I chopped up some fresh basil and added it to the mix too.  Add the browned meat and let it absorb all the flavors. 

IMG_1121

Blanch, then rough chop the tomatoes.  (You do this by cutting an X at the stem end of each tomato, pour boiling water and let it stand for about 3-4 minutes until you see the skin begin to loosen.  Peel at the X.

IMG_1124

 I decided to use the Cuisinart stick to crush the tomatoes and give the sauce a smoother consistency.

IMG_1122Back to the pot and sautéing the vegetables and ground beef…now add some white wine (a couple of glugs for me) stir this around for a couple of minutes. Next I added the crushed tomatoes and dry spices….

tomato paste, oregano, Italian seasoning, thyme, salt, bay leaves and some more basil.

Cut a wedge of the parmesan cheese and throw it in the pot for added flavor. 

IMG_1145

IMG_1147

Grate some parmesan cheese and sprinkle with fresh parsley…. and there you have it, about 3 meals of spaghetti and meat sauce with plenty of leftovers. 

Eggplant gratin with fresh parmesan

IMG_1136

IMG_1138

Zucchini Ribbons with fresh dill, mint and a sprinkling of feta (which I did not have)

IMG_1149How’s that for summer’s bounty?  The gift that keeps on giving….. Thank you to Tom and Cheryl and to Tom’s Pop for sharing their bumper crop :) 

I’m bringing Summer’s bounty to Angie’s Fiesta Friday #31  – it is a linky party where folks from far and wide share their recipes, and ideas.  Go on, click on the link to find out more. 

 

IMG_1098

Potato and Spinach Whole-wheat Flatbread & Mango Shrikhand

I’ve been blogging for about four months now and I do so enjoy the varied experiences that I’ve encountered throughout this process.  I’ve met some incredible like-minded folks who also blog, learned tips and tricks from them, improved my photographic skills, formed friendships from around the world and have come together sharing a passion we all enjoy, in this case “Food”.  My blogging journey chronicles not only family favorites, but rather some tried and tested recipes that I’ve bookmarked along the way.  Some friends were over for dinner last week, and since they were vegetarian, I decided to consult my handy Fiesta Friday bookmarked recipes.   I found one in particular that I thought would go well with some of the other vegetarian dishes that I had prepared for the evening, so I set out to give it a try, and I must say I was pretty pleased with the results (see below).   

Potato and Spinach Wholewheat Flatbread or parathas as they are generally referred to on the Indian subcontinent, can be made plain or stuffed.  Today, I’m going to share a recipe with you that I tried from one of the other bloggers.  Anjana, runs a spectacular blog, click on her name to reach her link and have a  glimpse around her blogging world.  Here’s her recipe for stuffed parathas and how my own turned out. :)

Ingredients

  • Oil – 3 tsp divided
  • Spinach leaves – 1 cup chopped
  • 1 large potato or 2 small ones
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Water as needed

Method

Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan. Saute the spinach leaves till they wilt slightly yet retain the color. Meanwhile boil the potatoes, peel and mash them. Let spinach and potatoes cool slightly.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients together. Add the spinach and mashed potatoes and mix well to make a crumbly mixture. The vegetables will let out some water. Add 2 tsp oil and a little extra water till the dough comes together. Knead well for a couple of minutes to make a smooth dough ball. The dough should be soft and pliable. You must be able to sink your fingers comfortably as shown in the picture below. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 20-30 minutes.IMG_1099Divide the dough into 6-8 equal parts. Roll each portion into a smooth ball, flatten it slightly  on your palm and dust flour on both sides. Place on a flat surface and roll with a rolling pin to 1/4 inch thickness. If it sticks to the pin or the rolling surface, dust lightly with flour and roll. Use a light hand while rolling so as not to tear the dough.

Meanwhile heat a large skillet on medium-high heat. To cook a paratha, place the rolled dough on the skillet and flip it after a few seconds. Spread a few drops of oil over it, flip again and spread oil on the other side. Brown spots should start to appear on the paratha now, press lightly on it with a flat spatula, flip again and ensure both sides are evenly cooked. Since there is spinach in the dough, the parathas will be more greenish than brown. Once done, remove onto a plate or basket and keep warm by covering with a clean towel or foil. Repeat till all the dough is used up.

IMG_1106

IMG_1108

IMG_1109The next recipe that I will introduce today is actually quite new to me.  Mango Shrikhand is a very popular sweet based Indian yogurt dessert that is simple, yet so refreshingly satisfying after a spicy meal.  It is light, airy, summery and pleasing to the palate. Since mangoes are pretty abundant this time of year, I thought a dessert like this should definitely satisfy.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup Mango puree
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (or more to suit your taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 2 tablespoons pistachios
  • 1 fresh mango cut into cubes

Method

Strain the yogurt in the sieve and leave it overnight in the refrigerator to drain the water.  IMG_1084Beat the yogurt with a spatula.  To this add the powdered sugar and mango puree and mix well.  Add a few pistachios in the mix, but leave a bit for garnishing. IMG_1086

IMG_1088

IMG_1089Chop up the mango making vertical and horizontal slits and scoop it up with a spoon for garnishing.  Serve it in a glass, pour some mango puree on top of the yougurt/mango mix and garnish with pistachios and mango cubes.  IMG_1094Hopping on over to Angie’s for Fiesta Friday.  Can’t wait to see what everybody has contributed to this online party, it’s always a great meeting place for like-minded folks.  I hear today’s party is being co-hosted by Dame Edna and Madge, an Aussie duo :)  G’day ladies!