What's My Favorite BBQ?

Summer is a perfect time for BBQ. The fresh herbs from the garden add extra flavors to the grill. Here's one of my favorite summer meal, it is easy to replicate and always a crowd pleaser.

Grilled Jamaican Jerk Chicken:

 1 large fryer chicken, sectioned;
1 C. chopped fresh flat leave parsley;
1 C. Red Hot brand  hot sauce;
1/4 C. vegetable oil;
5 large cloves of garlic;
Juice from 1 lime;
1/2 small red onion;
1/2 t. pepper, salt to taste;
2 T.  McCormick Caribbean Jerk Seasoning;

Mix the hot sauce, herbs and spices together, rub all over the chicken pieces. Let the meat marinate for at least 2 hours. Grill on charcoal or gas grill until chicken pieces are done. Garnish with lime and chopped green onions. Serve with Thai Noodle Salad below.

Thai Noodle Salad:
1 lb. spaghetti pasta, cook until done. Drain, add 2 T. salad oil, toss and set aside.
For the sauce: 3 T. Sauce, 2 T. balsamic vinegar, 1/4 t. white pepper, 1/2 t. salt, 1 t. sesame seed oil, 2 T. sugar, 1 T. honey, 1 t. Red Rooster Sauce (Chinese hot pepper sauce), 2 T. creamy peanut butter, 3 large cloves of garlic crushed, 2 finely chopped jalapeno pepper, 1/2 C. chopped green pepper. Mix all ingredient together, pour over the noodles. If the noodle is too dry, add pasta cooking liquid until it reaches desired moisture content.Adjust salt to taste.
Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro. Serve with Grilled Jamaican Jerk Chicken.

Crustless Lemon Meringue "Non-Pie"

I like Lemon Meringue Pie, however eating the crust always leaving me feeling guilty. So I started making the lemon meringue without the crust, thus makes it a "Non-Pie". This recipe couldn't be easier. Instead of counting minutes when cooking, pay attention to the consistency of the filling.
Here's my recipe:
1.5 C. sugar, 1.5 C. water, 1/3 C. cornstarch and 1 T. flour;
4 eggs, separated;
2 lemons, 3 T. butter, and a pinch of salt.
1/4 t. cream of tartar + 2 T. sugar;
Beat the egg whites with a 1/4 t. cream of tartar and 2 T. sugar until firm peak forms.
Grate the lemon zest in a 3Q pot, add water, sugar, cornstarch, flour and pinch of salt. Cook on high heat and bring the mixture to a boil, stir constantly until thickened(Approximately 3-5 minutes, depending on your stove). Turn down the heat. Scoop some of the mixture and mix with the egg yolks, then pour the egg yolks into the mixture, continue to stir. Add butter, juice from the lemons, stir some more. Pour the mixture in a 8"x12" or comparable sized pan, spread the beaten egg whites on top. Bake in a preheated 375F oven for 13 minutes. Remove and allow to cool completely before serving (although this is not always possible).

Gluten Free Crackers

If you have loved ones with celiac disease or gluten intolerant, you know how daily meals can become a difficult task. Although increasingly gluten free snakes are available, the selection is limited and the price is high. This prompted me to try to make something myself. The crackers I made with masa meal (corn meal treated with lime for making Mexican food, available in most supermarkets)turn out to be a success. Here is my rough draft recipe (I will post refined recipe later):
Rosemary Sesame Squares (Gluten Free Crackers):
3 C. masa meal+more;
1 stick of butter;
1/2 C. vegetable oil;
1 large cube of chicken bullion, about 1 teaspoon;
1/4 C. corn starch;
1 large eggs;
Garlic salt to taste;
Sprinkle of crushed rosemary;
Sesame seeds.
Mix all ingredients together, add additional masa meal as needed until it forms a nice pliable dough that can hold its shape. Roll dough out into thin sheet on a baking sheet, cover the surface with sesame seeds, press down with rolling pin. Cut the sheet with pizza cutter into 1-1/2" squares or other shapes. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 F until done, approximately 20 minutes.
Note: The chicken bullion cubes contain salt, so taste and adjust the final salt level after the dough is mixed.

Winter Big Taste

Pesto made in the summer can add big flavor in the winter meal. There are different versions of pesto, just follow a loose recipe, don't worry about it if you have to substitute one ingredient for another. To make pesto, you need: herbs+nuts+garlic+olive oil. Pesto recipes also call for Parmesan cheese, I leave it out if I am going to freeze it for later use. You can always add fresh grated Parmesan cheese when you use it.
Herbs: Basil and/or parsley;
Nut: Pine nuts or almonds or walnuts, or combo;
Garlic: for every 4 C. fresh herbs add 2 large cloves of garlic;
Olive oil and salt.
Process herbs and garlic in the food processor, slowly drizzle in olive oil until the pesto reaches a consistency of a thick paste. Add salt to taste. Fill pesto in plastic containers and freeze.

Pasta made with frozen pesto and butter steamed mussels:
Ingredients: Spaghetti, crushed garlic, hot pepper flakes, olive oil, butter steamed mussels, white wine, salt and pepper to taste.
Cook pasta until al dente, set aside. Heat 1 T. olive oil in a frying pan, add crushed garlic, cook for 30 seconds, add mussels and wine. Bring to a boil, add cooked spaghetti. Stir to coat. Add salt, pepper and fresh grated Parmesan cheese.
(Quick note: Add pasta cooking water if needed.)

Winter Can Be Delicious II

My only favorable experience of dill was dill pickle. That changed last summer. Trying to expand my taste buds and learn to appreciate dill more, I grew a patch of dills. One recipe in particular I liked was an artichoke potato Greek soup I made from the dill and artichokes I grew. Now it is winter time, I don't have any fresh artichoke or dills, but still wanted to enjoy the soup. So I implemented with ingredients on hand, it turned out just as delicious!
Here's the winter recipe:
2 C. artichoke hearts (from a jar),
2 medium sized potatoes,
1 carrot,
1/2 small onion, sliced,
1 stalk of celery,cut up,
1 T. lemon juice,
2 T. olive oil,
2 C. chicken broth,
fresh or dried parsley,
Dill weeds,or dill weed blend,
salt and pepper to taste,
4 C. Water.
Wash and peel potatoes and carrot, cut into bit size pieces. Heat olive oil in a pot, add onions, saute until onion softens. Add chicken broth and water. Add all other ingredients, bring to a boil, cook for 20-25 minutes until vegetables are soft. Season with salt and pepper.

Served with fresh baked bread and olive oil dip.

Winter Can Be Delicious!

Growing a fresh vegetable garden is the first step to a good life. The next, is to learn how to preserve all the overflows from your garden, so that when winter arrives, the inevitable rain persists and the sun takes a three months leave of absence, or when you are blanketed under three foot of snow, you can still enjoy good food bursting with the summer flavor.

Sounds easy enough, but years ago when I was faced with all the extra vegetables coming out of the garden, I was overwhelmed. My initial attempts of preserving produced some pretty unpalatable results. Through trial and error and practice, I have developed some dishes that can be proud of. The important thing is to have a good plan, figuring out what to grow, what to preserve and what to do with the food you preserve. That way, coming harvest time, when all the eggplants, tomatoes, peppers and all the veggies pouring out of the garden, you can put your plan in action, meticulously and methodically pack way. Here are a couple recipes that I use every year.

Vegetables: 5 lb. Opus Eggplant, cut into 1/2" cubes, add 2 T. salt, allow to set for 4 hours, squeeze out as much liquid as you can, 5 large ribs of celery stalks, cut into 1/2" cubes, 2 C. carrots, cut into 1/2" cubes, 1 large onion, cut into 1/2" cubes. Side ingredients: 3 C. Green olives, cut up (I used the Italian Antipasto from the big box store), 1/2 C. capers, 1-1/2 C. raisins, 1 C. pine nuts.
Herbs and seasonings:2 C. fresh Basil, chopped, 2 heads fresh Garlic, peeled and crushed, 1/2 C. fresh fresh chopped oregano, hot pepper flakes to taste. 1/2 C. Olive oil, 1/2 C. Red Wine or Balsamic vinegar, 1 C. Brown sugar, 1 C. Homemade Tomato sauce, Salt and pepper to taste.
Directions: Saute vegetables in batches until they are soft, making sure all pieces of vegetables are well coated with olive oil. Add all other ingredients gradually, mix well, allow to cook together for 20 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

Homemade Tomato Sauce:
This is a easy tomato sauce recipe, because the sauce is cooked down in a crock pot, there is no waiting no stirring. Can the tomato sauce the next day, and the job is done!
Gather 15 lb. assorted tomatoes from the garden. They don't have to be perfect, just remove any blemishes and the stem ends. Cook in a large stainless steel stock pot until the tomatoes are soft and easy to break down. Run the tomatoes through a colander to remove the seeds and skin. Transfer the tomato sauce (at this stage very runny) in two oval shaped crock pots (5Q), add garlic, herbs (I use oregano and basil from my garden), lemon juice and salt. Let it cook overnight. The next morning, it should reduced by half. Pack the tomato sauce in clean jars, put lids on and process in hot water bath for 15 minutes. This will be the best tomato sauce you will ever eat! Great for making pizza and pasta.

Dried Tomato and Cayenne Pepper Packed in Olive Oil:
While I was drying my tomatoes last year, I harvested a big basket of red cayenne pepper. I thought why not pack the peppers with the tomatoes? It turned out to be a real winner. I used this preserve to make an olive oil dip, which is tremendously popular. Here's how:
Heat some olive oil in the pan until hot, add some chopped up cayenne peppers, include the seeds if you like your preserve hot. Cook until you can smell the aroma of the peppers and turn off the heat. Mix in dehydrated tomatoes. Pack the mixture into jars, adding 1 t. salt in each jar. Add enough olive oil to cover. Screw on the top. The preserve will be good for 6 month stored in the refrigerator.

Infused Olive Oil Dip:
Add feta cheese, chopped kalamata olives, crushed garlic to the Dried Tomato and Cayenne Pepper Preserve, adjust salt level. Add enough olive oil for dipping. Serve with any type of fresh baked bread.