Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Nettle Soup

Nettle Soup, originally uploaded by emmasdaughter.

Stinging Nettles, yes, stinging nettles. An herb that goes into my top 100 super foods list. Why? Because they are good, good, good for you! Not only are they high in iron and vitamin K, they are also a great supplier of vitamin D. You men out there, they are great for non malignant prostate enlargement. Allergies? High blood pressure? Arthritis? Gingivitis? Partake of stinging nettles.

Here is just one site that discussed the amazing properties of this herb.

This herb is so amazing that I would cultivate it if I could find enough rhizomes not currently sporting their prickly companions. So I will just settle for the leaves in my soup.

First, you must clean them of their grit and any darkened or wilted leaves. food 083Make sure you have a pair of thick rubber gloves on your hands and remove the tender leaves from the stalk. Place leaves in a colander and rinse well. Leave in colander in sink full of cold water while preparing soup base. Add to the pot and simmer. No more sting! Too many health benefits to mention.

Nettle Soup

1 large bunch Nettles, cleaned
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
Italian sausage (optional)
1 large onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp black pepper
salt to taste
6 to 8 leaves, any other green of choice, optional (spinach, escarole, chard, etc.)
1 hot pepper, diced, also optional

In large pot, over medium heat, saute sausage, onions and garlic until onions are soft. Add broth, salt, hot pepper and black pepper and bring to boil. Carefully add nettles (don't forget to wear your gloves) and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Another "to your health" recipe! Enjoy.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Comfort Food - Could This Be Any Worse For You?

Last night my daughter sent me a text message asking for a recipe for Tuna Casserole. Apparently, her brother requested she make it for dinner. I hadn't made this is so long that the dish is a distant and frightening memory. But, he likes it. He ate it. He wants it again. So - here's to you Hijo Primero! Maybe there is another person out there that like things made from Campbell's soup.

The Worst Possible Tuna Casserole On The Face Of The Planet

1 to 2 - 6 oz cans Tuna, packed in water, drained
1 cup frozen peas, thawed (optional, will not make it healthier in the least)
1 can (10.75 oz) Mushroom Soup (the kind with the garlic in it is best)
1/2 soup can half and half
1/2 tsp pepper
Salt to taste (do you really want or need more?)
1 - 8 oz pkg egg noodles cooked according to package directions
1 cup shredded cheese
Bread Crumbs

In a large mixing bowl, stir Tuna together with peas, soup, half and half, salt and pepper.
Add cooked noodles and stir to coat thoroughly.
Pour into 13x9 baking dish coated with non stick spray.
Top with cheese then sprinkle bread crumbs over all.
Bake in 350 degree oven until browned.

This is true comfort food for the oldest son. If you care to make it, please do not sue me for any high blood pressure or hardening of the arteries that may occur. Partake of this at your own risk! (the aforementioned is a caution to protect me from any lawsuit that may result from consumption of this "comfort food")

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Cleaning Fiddleheads

This is posted for my friend at BoondockBabble. Thought if she wanted to know, maybe a few other passing readers would be curious as well.
First, from my research, if you are gathering wild ferns for your table, you must make sure they are edible! Not all ferns are and will give a a wonderful case of something...not sure what. Here is a link to an explanation on cleaning and identifying the edible Ostrich fern.

The cleaning method I use entails placing the fresh ferns in a colander and soaking in cold water. Rinse, shaking the colander briskly in the process. Perform this 3 or 4 times and the majority of the scales will fall off. Then, place the ferns in a brown paper bag and shake a bit more. Remove from bag, and rinse again, rubbing between thumb and forefinger to remove any remaining bits of scale.

This should take care of the cleaning. Now, prepare and enjoy!

Can It Be True?

My Stat Counter says that 129 people visited yesterday.
Can it be True?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Blending of Flavors

Blending of Flavors, originally uploaded by emmasdaughter.

Blending of Indian Flavors

This recipe came to me tonight after spending the day in Syracuse at the regional market and my two favorite ethnic grocers. It is a combination of a couple of Indian recipes. The dish contains okra, shrimp, onions, peppers, coconut and Indian spices.

Shrimp & Okra Saute
1 Tbs Sesame Oil
1 Tbs Nut Oil (peanut, walnut, almond)
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1 cp thinly sliced onion
1 thinly sliced sweet red pepper
2 thinly sliced hot peppers (optional)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
15 okra pods, washed, trimmed and halved lengthwise
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/8 to 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tbs coconut powder

Heat oil over medium high heat. Add cumin seeds. Saute for a few seconds and add vegetables and all of the spices. Saute until onion is soft but not brown. Add okra, and a bit of water if needed. Saute for approximately 20 minutes until the okra is cooked but not overly soft. Add shrimp and cook until pink.
Garnish with coconut powder sprinkled over top.

serve with basmati cumin rice and naan for a wonderful, flavorful meal.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cake Pan Tip

What kind of cake pans do you have? The ones that are a simple pan, no frills, no little gadgets to help you get your cake out of the pan? If so, good for you! If not, then read on...

If you have the cake pans that have the little slider thing that you turn around the pan to loosen the cake, get rid of it! You can remove it by bending it upward and have a perfectly functional cake pan. Or, you can toss it in the recycling bin and purchase a plain one. Wilton's makes a very nice pan for the money.

All you need to do to get the cake out is use parchment paper. Cut the parchment to fit the bottom of the pan, spray a bit of non-stick spray on the bottom of the pan, place the parchement in the pan, spray a bit of non-stick spray on the parchment and...Voila! You have a pan that even the stickiest cake with fall right out of!

Why do you want to go to the trouble of demolishing a perfectly good (well maybe not) cake pan? Maybe you don't want to know. Just do it. If you do want to know, again, read on...

After a couple of uses of the little slider thing pans, batter builds up beneath the slider. This can't be a good thing. We won't go into the health issues here. Just suffice it to say that you don't want to keep baking and baking and baking and letting little bits of last year's cake end up in the one you are baking today. K? Nuff said?

My favortie pan.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Fiddleheads & Fish

Fiddleheads & Fish, originally uploaded by emmasdaughter.

Today I played in my kitchen. While perusing the fresh produce at my local grocers I came across some fun looking little items called Fiddlehead Ferns.

Now, from what I understand, if you live in the northeastern United States or Canada, these little delicacies are well known. But me, being born and raised in northern California, had only read about them in fairy tales...er gourmet cookbooks.

Wanting to live the cooking fairy tale, I bagged up the prettiest ones I could find. Being a cautious sort of fairy tale person, I only got about 1/2 lb.

Excited with my find, I ran to the seafood counter and perused the fish. I mean, what good cooking fairy tale doesn't consist of fresh fish? Little Mermaid? Big Fish? A Fish Called Wanda? I searched for the perfect fish. Cod? No, to blase'. Halibut? No, same-o same-o. Salmon? Way too pricey this week. But then, stop! Wait! Steelhead Trout!!! That was it! I snagged the largest filet in the case and ran with delight to the checkout counter.

Fast forward to evening...

Trout is in the oven...producing an enticing aroma of sesame oil and seasonings. The ferns are nestled cozily in with mushrooms, garlic and sundried tomatoes. Can't wait to see and taste!

Fast forwad to dinner...

Oh! The flavors and textures! Amazing! Glorious in their simplicity. The trout a wonder of tender flavor, enhanced marvelously with the spices. The ferns? All I can say is "why is the fiddle head season so short?" Should have gotten another 10 lbs or so.

You must try this entire meal if you have the ferns available. If you have a Whole Foods Market near you, I think you can get them. Here is the preparation directions for both dishes;

Northwoods Trout
(preheat oven to 350 degrees)

One large 1 1/2 to 2 lb Steelhead or Salmon filet
1 tbs Northwoods Fire Seasoning (go to Penzeys.com)
1 tbs Dill
2 tbs Brown Sugar
1 tbs Sesame Oil
1 tbs Soy Sauce
1/2 tbs Balsamic Vinegar

Line a 13x9 inch baking dish with foil and place trout, skin side down.
In a small bowl, combine all of the seasonings, sugar, soy sauce, oil and vinegar. Cover trout with mixture. Cover baking dish with foil.
Place in preheated oven and bake until fish flakes and is tender - about 15 minutes.

Serve drizzled with pan juices.

Fiddleheads with Garlic and Mushrooms

1/2 lb Fiddleheads, washed and cleaned
2 cloves elephant garlic, peeled and sliced
6 mushrooms, sliced
4 sundried tomatoes, packed in olive oil
2 tbs oil from sundried tomato jar
salt to taste

Place all ingredients in a lidded saute pan. Saute, stirring occasionally for approximately 15 minutes or until fiddleheads are tender.

This was the most wonderful fairy tale that has ever come from my kitchen!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Weight Loss?

My Boyfriend/DH wanted to get rid of about 20 lbs. He whined and complained and blamed my "unhealthy" cooking habits for a time. I listened (sure I did) and tried to cook in a more healthy manner...didn't change much. Found the whole thing rather insulting. I don't buy chips, soda, or boxed foods except for pasta and the occasional couscous blend. The purchasing of fresh veggies is done every other day or so. And, I don't use animal fats or many fats for that matter until the invention of this snack.

Anyway, one day, I decided to invent a sweet "sushi" type snack and purchased a container of coconut oil, a package of shredded coconut, sliced almonds, a package of flax lavash, and a bit of agave nectar. Went home and put together a sweet snack.

Boyfriend sat down and ate them in one sitting.

The lavash, being full of flax went to work almost immediately. Won't tell you where he spent the night.

The next day, I made another plate of these little goodies.

Boyfriend came home, sat down, and ate a more reasonable portion. (1 or 2)

The next day, Boyfriend came home and made himself a sweet snack using just the coconut oil, agave and a portion of lavash.

Within a month he had lost 10 lbs! Now I am giving it a go. We will see if it is just him eating less or it has anything to do with the little sweets.

If you are curious, here is how they are made.

Lavash "Sushi"
1/3 slice of Lavash (an Armenian flat bread)
1 tbs coconut oil
shredded coconut
sliced almonds
agave nectar
Evenly spread coconut oil on lavash. Lightly sprinkle with shredded coconut and sliced almonds. Drizzle lightly with agave nectar.
Roll lavash to form a "roll-up" and slice into 1/2 inch rounds.
Place on serving dish and drizzle with more agave nectar if desired.
These are a fun way to get some good fats and omega 3. Tastes similar to an almond joy without the chocolate. I imagine you could add a bit or use carob to get the full almond joy effect.
Maybe I will try that next!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Possibly the Easiest Taco Salad Ever!

And possibily the best too! It is so quck to put together and will dissappear before you have a chance to say "Dinner's on!" I got the original recipe from Recipezaar and changed a few of the details to please my family. Give it a try...and, check out the website - it is great too!

TACO Salad
1 lb ground beef
1 tbs of your favorite chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbs brown sugar
1 large tomato, diced
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1 large fresh poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cps Iceberg lettuce, shredded
3/4 cp peach salsa (Newman's Own is really great here)
2 tbs mayonnaise
tortilla chips
Co-Jack cheese, finely shredded
1/2 avacado, sliced
Brown beef in skillet until no longer pink.
Drain fat and add next 5 ingredients. Saute until spices are well blended and aromatic.
Turn heat to low while other preparations are accomplished.
Crush tortilla chips in the bottom of a 13x9 inch baking dish.
Make a layer with the lettuce.
Make a layer with the pepper, onions and tomatoes.
Make a layer with the meat mixture
Add cheese in desire quantity
Mix mayo and salsa together and pour over top
Add sliced avacado and serve with sour cream and extra salsa on the side.
Give this a try. It is quick, easy on time and easy on the budget. What more can you ask? Oh, right...great flavor...It has that as well!.