Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Maine coast crackers, again

It’s been busy around here, including baking another batch of the Maine coast crisps (the fancy English/Canadian term for crackers). This time I used 3 small loaf forms, and the crackers came out just the right size. I hope I have enough for the party tomorrow.

Find the recipe here.

And a shout out to the U.S. swim team!

cracker_bread crisp_pile

Monday, July 30, 2012

All the pretty horses

On Saturday I was ready to finally go on a hike, the work was nicely in-between things so I had my head free, but the weather did not cooperate. The sky looked threatening of rain and thunderstorms, which eventually never happened. I took in the more local scenery, all the pretty horses, happily grazing on the lush meadows. Unfortunately, I wore high heels and forgot the carrots, so no close-ups of these beauties.
meadow_1
meadow_4
meadow_2
meadow_3
meadow_5
meadow_6

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Zucchini Quinoa bake

It is Sunday, time to make a more elaborate zucchini dish. How about a crustless zucchini quiche? I sliced a large zucchini really thinly with a mandoline and layered zucchini, cooked quinoa, zucchini, sauteed kale with garlic, white wine and onions, zucchini and topped it with a twirled egg with some water, salt and pepper. Bake at 375F for ca 30 min. Serve with hot sauce or…. red pepper hummus!

zucchini_quinoa_bake_prep zucchini_quinoa_bake

zucchini_quinoa_bake_serve

Roasted red pepper hummus

The weather today looked like the weather on the women’s cycling at the Olypmics this morning. So it seemed like the best day to run errands and get some work done to free up the schedule for the good weather to come back. But, alas things were less than productive. Time to at least give the hummus some cheering me up: roasted red pepper hummus. The basic hummus recipe with an added dash of tabasco and 4 TB of the Trader Joe’s roasted red pepper spread. Delicious!

red_pepper_hummus

Hummus (ca 2 cups)

  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas, liquid reserved 
  • 1/2 tsp fleur de sel (or kosher salt), or to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup tahini  (sesame paste)
  • 2 Tbsp reserved chickpea liquid (or water) or as much as needed to achieve desired texture
  • about 1 ts of Tabasco sauce, to taste
  • 4 TB roasted red pepper spread
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
Place all ingredients into a food processor (except the salt) and process until the hummus is coarsely pureed. Scoop into a bowl and drizzle with a good quality olive oil.  

red_pepper_hummus2

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Finally, popsicles

So, what did you think of the Olympic Games opening ceremony? I was still in awe from the one in Bejing and wondered how anyone can top this. I saw a Kenneth Branagh in a period costume and thought, the British have lost it. But after the Broadway type of production to convert the stadium from a meadowy, 18th century Britain to a industrial Britain including flying in Olympic rings from the sky….I was amazed. And then James Bond delivered the Queen from a helicopter….. she might not have taken the ride too well because she looked pretty sourpoussed for the rest of the evening. Ok, I admit I tuned out after Mr. Bean.

I am finally eating the real popsicles, and have ideas for more!

popsicle_s

Friday, July 27, 2012

Olympic ready lunch

Today, I was done with work around 2pm but it was too late to go anywhere scenic and be back to see the opening ceremony of the Olympics. Also, I was slightly too lazy to drive anywhere too far. Browsing some stores instead, I realized I had a real hankering for a bit of vacation. Far away from everyday life and everyday routine, instead a view on the ocean, breezy air, foreign coasts, and tasty food.  And feeling I never have to come back to chores. At least not for a while. But no such luck. One more week to wait. At last I decided to enjoy hanging out in the garden and download a new book to my kindle app on the IPad.

Lunch was goodness on a plate – Olympic games ready. When I buying baby beets at the farmers market, the baby beets always come with their baby greens. I am not too much of a fan of beet greens on their own, but this combination is very tasty: beet greens, kale and quinoa with a dash of pomegranate molasses!  ---- Saute a 1/3 of a small diced onion in some olive oil and add the chopped beet greens and same amount of kale. Immediately add ca 1/4 cup of white wine, or water or some miso dissolved in water to wilt the greens and kale down for about 5 min. Then, add a 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa, a grated clove of garlic, and a dash of pomegranate molasses and some salt and pepper. Extremely tasty and filling --- with all the fiber. Optionally, I sometimes add baby bok choy, pine nuts, or goat cheese or feta (or tofu).

beet_greens_quinoa

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Foraging, 2012.

The other day I put on my Hunter boots, put on bug spray, grabbed a little basket and headed out to check the stage of wild mushroom in the woods. Despite plenty of rain and warm weather, the foraging season is only beginning. No porcini to be found and only a few baby chanterelles. But, the 2012 season is to start.

chanterelles

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Layered summer salad

This layered summer salad is a summary of in season vegetables right now: lettuce from the farmers market, lacinato kale from my garden, the shaved baby fennel from the garden of Chase’s daily in Belfast, and the tomatoes were the first locals ones at the FM on Tuesday. The quinoa cake might have some wider circles of origin.

layered_summer_salad

Revisiting baked quinoa zucchini cakes.

This might not be the prettiest picture but the quinoa zucchini cakes are worth revisiting. My love for quinoa cakes started with Heidi Swanson’s fried quinoa cakes. They taste great but they also absorb much of the olive oil they are fried in. Even Heidi came up with a baked version and I am all for the baked version. However, quinoa is still dense in calories and I decided to bulk them with …. zucchini. In the end, these quinoa cakes are the love marriage of quinoa cakes and zucchini cakes. The basic principle is simple: 1 cup of cooked quinoa and 1 large grated zucchini plus a 1/2 cup of seasoned bread crumbs, a 1/2 pack of onion dip (for the lazy man’s version or use your own spices and salt) and 1 egg twirled with some water, all mixed and ready to form patties. Add-ins can be: kale and/or chives and/or black rice and/or cooked lentils and/or mint and/or fresh corn, the possibilities are endless and can change with the seasons.

The cakes are great for snacks, picnics, potluck, even on sandwiches. Love to quinoa zucchini cakes! (My second batch is in the fridge!).

quinoa_cakes_new

Monday, July 23, 2012

Pickled Baby Beets


I had bought the first beets this weekend on the farmers market, and since I often eat the beet salad in restaurants I was ready to try out something new. How about pickled beets? These are much tastier than anything from a store. 

























Pickled baby beets (makes on larger jar):

  • 4-5 small beets, scrubbed
  • 1/2 white onion, thinly sliced with a mandolin
  • 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar (or any pale vinegar like rice vinegar)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 TB sugar
  • 6-10 juniper berries
  • 10-15 pepper corns, whole
Special equipment:
  • aluminium foil
  • sterilized jar (boil in hot water for ca 5 min)
Preheat the oven to 375F. Wrap each beet tightly in foil, place on a baking sheet, and bake for ca. 1h or until tender (can be less if beets are really small). Unwrap, and let slightly cool. The beet skin should slide right off.  

In a sauce pan, heat the vinegar, water, peppercorns and juniper berries and the sugar, but don't boil it. Keep hot. Now, slice the beets, and layer with onions into the sterilized jar. A layer of beet slices, onion slices, beet slices, and so on. Once the jar is filled, cautiously pour the vinegar mix over the beets, also add the spices. Let slightly cool, the close with a lid. The onions turn wonderfully pink because of the beets, and the beets are ready to eat in a day. Keep in the fridge!

Symphony in Red

Yesterday, I made the best sorbet I ever ate. Haagen Dazs is very good, too, of course, but my version has more fruit and no sugar. I am still waiting for the popsicle molds being delivered by my favorite friend, the  UPS guy, but the cooling pot of the icecream maker was sufficiently chilled after 24h in the freezer. Time to make some sorbet.
The key of this sorbet are the frozen (!) raspberries. I find frozen raspberries are just so much more intense in flavor than fresh ones. The other addition are more flexible: strawberries, red currants, even a little bit of water melon. The key is to use 2 parts fruit to 1 part water (with a little bit of stevia), all pureed in the vitamix, and no need to strain anything. The fruit mix can be filled into molds or the ice cream maker. Tastetesting the mix, I thought that this makes an excellent basis for a fruity margarita!!!
Berry Sorbet
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries, thawed
  • 1 cup strawberries, or red currants
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/4 ts stevia (I use NuNaturals)
Prep: place ice cream cooling pot in the freezer for 24h.
Puree all berries with the water and stevia in a blender (best: Vitamix), and pour into a the chilled ice cream maker pot, insert the inset, and place the cover to top, and set to go. It takes about 30min for it to be done. Alternatively, fill popsicle mold and place in freezer. Enjoy!
sorbet_1
sorbet_2 
sorbet_3.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Baked quinoa cakes with zucchini and kale

Yesterday, I made quinoa in my fancy neuro-fuzzy logic rice cooker for the first time. 1 part quinoa and 2 parts water and the brown rice setting. A bit less water would have been better, but I just left it in the rice cooker on the ‘keep warm’ setting for 12h, and it had the perfect fluffiness.
Next step: making a large dent in the cooked quinoa/ Quinoa cakes! To make them lower calorie baking is the option to go. Adding flavor is key. In my case, I added sauted kale with garlic, grated zucchini, bread crumbs, and egg and for easy fool-proof flavors a half pack of onion dip mix. Delicious!!
quinoa_cakes2
Baked Quinoa Cakes with Kale and Zucchini (makes ca 12 small cakes)
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 small zucchini (ca 200g), grated
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • good handful of chives, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup cooked lentils (optional)
  • 1 egg whipped with ca 2 TB of water
  • 1/2 package of onion dip or onion soup
  • ca.  8 large leaves of lacinato kale, thinly sliced
  • 1 white onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1/2 TB olive oil
  • splash of white wine
Freheat oven to 375F.
Start out with sauteing the onion, garlic and kale. In a sauce pan, heat the olive oil and saute the onion for about 2min, then add the grated garlic, stir and add in the kale. Stir, and add in the white wine.  On low, simmer for about 4min.
In a mixing bowl, add the quinoa, grated zucchini, breadcrumbs, lentils, chives, and onion dip, and mix well. Mix the egg with the water, and add to the mix, and mix the entire mix thoroughly. Add in the sauted kale. The dough should be rather sticky. If not, add a bit more water. If too soggy, add more bread crumbs.
Form little patties, or fill a sprayed muffin or square brown pan with the mix, and bake for 30min. Serve hot, or room temperatures. I like to add hot sauce and feta cheese.

Berry Popsicles

While I am sitting here in the shade on my deck, birds singing, wind rustling, a airplane slowly moving by, 40,000 feet above me, I dream about popsicles. Bea's popsicles. Many berries, some syrup and done. Since my first step of this recipe is ordering popsicle molds on amazon.com, I sweeten my waiting until Tuesday with a small Haagen Dazs mango sorbet from the freezer.

In case, you are curious about the recipe, check out Bea's blog.




Thursday, July 19, 2012

Stuffed Globe Zucchini with Black Rice and Mint

Today’s dinner was slightly more involved: I had to grow the globe zucchini first. Unfortunately, there are none available at the local farmers markets or grocery stores, and I ordered some seeds in the winter and started seeding in February. Now, mid July the globe zucchini find the perfect climate: it is sufficiently warm, in the upper 80s and it also rains.
globe_zucchini_7
The zucchini plants share a raised bed with the mint plants as well as the flat leaf parsley plant. Both the mint and flat leaf parsley are mixed in the rice mixture which I used for stuffing the zucchini.
DSC_0967g
As usual with zucchini, first there are many flowers, and tiny zucchini. Then, the small zucchini just fall off until some of the zucchini decide it is the perfect climate to grow strong and big almost overnight, and then everyone else also decides to grow huge until you raise your hands over your head in horror and share the zucchini deluge with the neighbors. But, we are not quite there. Just enough for a 4 person dinner side.
globe_1-2
The zucchini are scraped out with a melonballer, then stuffed with a rice mixtures, and baked for about 1h at 350F. Here is the recipe!
globe_zucchini_11
Stuffed Globe Zucchini with Black Rice and Mint (for 4 medium sized globe zucchini):
  • 4 globe zucchini, washed
  • 1/2 cup of chicken or vegetable stock
  • springs of sage and thyme
Rice mixture for stuffing:
  • 1 ts extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium sized red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 small garlic cloves, microplaned
  • 1/2 cup black rice (or risotto rice), rinsed and drained
  • splash of white wine
  • 1/2 can of fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 cup of zucchini flesh (from the globe zucchini), chopped
  • 1 TB tomato paste
  • 1 ts bouillon
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water (as needed)
  • large handful of fresh mint, chopped
  • large handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Wash and pad the globe zucchini dry. Cut off the tip of the zucchini to make for a little hat. Scrap the zucchini with a melon baller,  and preserve the zucchini flesh. Set aside.
To make the rice for the stuffed zucchini, heat a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the olive oil to the pan, and heat. Add the chopped onion and fry on medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and the rice as well as the zucchini flesh, and saute for about 3 min. Add the white wine, and scrap the bottom of the pan for the dark bits. Wait until wine is cooked off, and add a 1/2 cup of the hot water, bouillon, tomato paste, and canned tomatoes ; stir the mixture, cover the pot, and cook gently. Stir frequently and add more water as needed until the rice is tender (ca. 30 min). Remove from heat and stir in the  fresh mint, and flat-leaf parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Use the stuffing to fill the globe zucchini and arrange in an oven safe baking dish. Place the little hat on top, drizzle some olive oil on the zucchini and fill the chicken or vegetable stock in the baking dish. Baked at 350F for about 1h. Serve warm or at room temperature.
    globe_zucchini-1034

    Monday, July 16, 2012

    Dreaming of…. South Beach.

    While I am sitting here, in the summer heat, not traveling for family reasons I dream of…. past vacations, like for example to South Beach. This was all long before I blogged, so an opportunity to unearth some of these time travel photos. The Delano hotel pool is still the place to be.

    beach_n

    cofeestand beach

    beach day 2 no 2

    delano pool nah delano pool

    berlin bar schild

    starbucks

    Sunday, July 15, 2012

    Summer

    These are the weeks of the year when the weather in Maine has caught up with the great weather everywhere else. The temperatures are in the 90s, the streets are empty, and everyone is at their camp, taking a cooling dip in a lake or river or the ocean. It feels like high noon in a western movie, only crickets chirping, if you stay in town. With the weather, half of the Mainers are elated, the other half wants the snow back. I am not in the mood for cooking, only drinking buckets of ice tea and reading an ebook in the shade. Summer.

    butterfly

    lunch_saladsalad

    Wednesday, July 11, 2012

    Garden, the summer version.

    Few words necessary.

    garden_chanelle

    garden_zucchini 

    garden_vines 

    garden_backgarden

    TLC salad

    We are in a stretch of really nice summer weather: warm, pleasant, not too hot and not humid. Perfect, basically. The garden is lush and green, and it is quiet. Yesterday, I headed towards Mount Desert Island, and into the gathering places of tourists. I had to run some errands in Ellsworth and was indeed rubbing shoulders with the tourists. It was all a little bit more hectic and busier than usual, but still good. For a late lunch (and a selection from the tapas menu), I headed to Cleonice. Since it’s not time for beets and beet salad, I had to look for new tapas. The TLC salad…..Tomato Lettuce Cucumber salad with some wonderful blue cheese. And a calamari salad to make me feel a bit Greek and Mediterranean.

    TLC_salad

    calamari_salad

    Sunday, July 8, 2012

    A trip down the coast

    We have a stretch of good weather and after all the rain, summer suddenly sneaked up on us. Time for a road trip! First, browsing the goods at the Treasure barn along Rt 1, just before Belfast. This place makes feel more like I am in a natural history museum than antique ‘mall’. 

    castine-1030157
    treasure_barn-2LR
    castine-1030175
    castine-1030180

    Should have bought the bear cast iron mold…

    treasure_barn3-2LR

    The next stop: lunch at Chase’s DDaily. The indoor farmers market was abundant with produce from the Chase’s garden, mostly fabulously looking lettuce. and herbs, even epazote. 

    castine-1030227
    castine-1030236
    castine-1030240

    Lunch followed the theme: lettuce with avocado, radishes, flowers and lime vinaigrette and grilled bread. 

    castine-1030244
    castine-1030248


    After snapping up a small olive tree at Brambles in Belfast, the next stop was: Camden. 

    treasure_barn_4LR
    Ready for sea-kajaking in a tandem kajak?
    castine-1030285
    castine-1030298
    castine-1030309
    castine-1030312
    castine-1030313

    A beautiful, quiet footbridge in Camden’s river district, full of hanging flowering baskets, and little benched to enjoy the ice cream. 

    footbridge_camden
    castine-1030342

    On the way home, a stop at Dot’s in Lincolnville. 

    castine-1030363

    Yes, summer in Maine.

    castine-1030357