Phyllis' Kitchen...And All Around the House
What an amazing bounty is available at the Bardstown Road Farmers Market! Each week, new fruits/veggies/cheeses/baked goods show up to wow our taste buds. And August is one of those months when—yes—it’s still summer, with melons and berries, and all summer veggies, but apples and pears are appearing in many booths, and I even saw sweet potatoes and winter squash last week! Truly the best of all culinary worlds.
Carrots: There’s probably never a week in the entire year when there are no carrots in my fridge. They are the go-to-vegetable when I only have time to grab a sandwich to eat on the run, and are the mainstay of almost all soups and stews throughout the year. And truly, soups are my very favorite food; hot or cold, they combine amazing flavors, and may be eaten for several meals, and frozen in serving size portions to take for lunches. In fact, I made my children & daughters-in-law very happy last holiday season by giving frozen soups/stews to take to work for lunches. And packed them in Pyrex serving dishes that may go from the freezer to the microwave!
This Carrot-Apple soup is perfect for a first course, accompaniment for a sandwich, or to pack in a lunchbox. The recipe came from Southern Living, and I made modifications that made it easier to prepare without making a special trip to the store. Enjoy!
1 ½ pounds carrots, peeled and chopped, about 8 large
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 tart apples, cored, peeled, and chopped
2 cups cream*
1 ½ cups unsalted chicken or vegetable broth
1 ¼ cups apple cider (I used apple juice)
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons curry powder, optional
½ teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
3 tablespoons lemon juice, optional
Bring all ingredients to a boil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat; reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 50-60 minutes. Remove from heat and cool 15 minutes.
Remove thyme sprigs. Process soup in batches, in a blender or food processor (or use immersion blender) until smooth. Taste soup, and add lemon juice if too bland. Garnish with finely chopped apples if you like. Makes 7 cups.
*I have made this several different ways, including substituting half & half. However, since it curdles & separates, I would avoid using it. Instead, use only one cup cream, or add 1/2 to one cup lite sour cream after cooking if you don’t want the extra fat. The original recipe did not have curry powder or lemon juice, but I like both of them.
Eggplant: If fried eggplant slices and ratatouille are your only eggplant dishes, perhaps you’d like to expand your repertoire. One of my family’s favorite dishes is Eggplant Parmesan, but in the past, I rarely made it, since it absorbs so much oil while it’ browning, and neither my stomach nor my curves can afford to eat that much fat. You can actually broil or grill the eggplant slices instead of frying it them, and still have a good quality dish. The trick to having a wonderful - tasting dish without frying the eggplant is to use excellent cheese. Forget supermarket cheese, and use one of the wonderful cheeses from our Saturday market, and you will be so glad to receive the kudos of your adoring public. This is not exactly a recipe; more like a technique, though I’ll suggest some possible amounts.
2-3 pounds eggplant, sliced into ½” rounds
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
½-3/4 pound grated good quality white cheese, or more
½ to 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2-3 cups good quality tomato sauce
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, minced
½ to 1 cup fine dry bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
Salt the eggplant slices on both sides and allow to drain for 20 minutes. Rinse salt off, and place on towels to dry. Place eggplant slices in a hot broiler or on a grill, and coat with olive oil. Cook/grill until slices are tender and lightly browned, brushing with oil 2-3 times to keep them moist, turning as needed. Drain on paper towels.
In an oiled casserole dish, place a layer of eggplant slices to cover the bottom of the dish, followed by salt and pepper and a sprinkling of minced basil leaves. Cover with tomato sauce, followed by a layer of grated cheese. Sprinkle with bread crumbs.
Add a second or third layer of eggplant/sauce, salt, pepper, cheese, basil. Cover the top with Parmesan cheese, followed by bread crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until bubbly. Enjoy!
Zucchini: Last month I mentioned that zucchini is often left on porches and the back seats of cars when gardeners have too many. I even mentioned that it was OK to leave some on my porch, and—by golly!—someone did! I had just tasted a recipe that my friend Terri Freel had made with excess zucchini, and again, I adapted it for my taste buds. This is a delicious spread for crackers.
3 pounds zucchini, cut into ½” cubes (about 8 cups)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
5 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 ½ teaspoons fresh thyme leaves)
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (Kenny’s or Boone Creek Asiago cheese would also work well here!)
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Saute cubed zucchini in the oil and butter mixture in a large heavy skillet, along with minced garlic until barely tender, about 15 minutes. Place in a food processor and pulse roughly until it is minced, but not mushy. Return to skillet, add thyme, and continue cooking over medium heat until liquid has cooked out, but there is still some texture. Add remaining ingredients and stir well. Place in serving bowl and serve as a spread or dip with crackers or chips. Makes about 2-3 cups.
Yellow Tomatoes: I tasted something fabulous this week that tasted like a new exotic fruit that I could not place. It was something between a condiment and a jam, made with yellow tomatoes, lemons, and ginger, and I knew I had to make it for myself. I confess to not being fond of jams and jellies, since they are too sweet for my taste buds. However, this tomato preserve is not overly sweet, and does not taste like tomatoes, but some exotic fruit that I have yet to meet; you can make it as sweet or tart as you like. The lemon and ginger make it incredibly exotic, with a sweet-tart flavor that is amazing. I ate it with cream cheese on a cracker, and can picture that it would be great on biscuits, Valley Acres chicken, on DreamCatcher’s slices of pork loin or even with piggy or Italian sausage. It would make an incredible gift for a foodie who appreciates an exotic flavor. One caveat, and this is very, very important: yellow tomatoes should not be canned because they are a low-acid fruit, and since you may keep the sugar low, it is recommended that you freeze this preserves in straight-sided jars, or in freezer bags, and use within a week or so, once opened. The original recipe was from Frances Pyles from Baltimore, and appeared in the Washington Post.
Yellow Tomato-Lemon-Ginger Preserves
9 pounds* yellow tomatoes, peeled and cored
3 large lemons, sliced very thin, and seeded
2-3 tablespoons ginger root, finely minced or grated, optional
4 cups sugar, or more/less, according to your taste buds
2-4 tablespoons lemon juice, to taste, optional
Dip yellow tomatoes in a pot of boiling water to loosen the skins. When cool enough to handle, remove core and skins, and discard. Chop tomatoes and put in a colander to drain. Press some of the juice from the tomatoes, and place drained tomatoes in a large pot to cook. Use drained juices for some other purpose. Add sugar, and bring to a boil, lowering the heat to simmer. Add lemons, sugar, and ginger, stirring well. Continue to simmer for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. When the preserves have cooked away some of the moisture, taste, and add lemon juice if you would like a more tart flavor.
In a large pot of water, sterilize half-pint freezer (straight-sided) jars and lids in boiling water. Fill jars to within about ¾” from the top, and cover with a sterilized lid. Do NOT process in a water bath. When jars are cool, store upright in the freezer until they are frozen to allow for expansion in the ¾” head space. Once frozen, they may be stored at any angle. To use, allow the preserves to thaw in the refrigerator, and store in the refrigerator. Use within about one week, as they do not contain enough sugar for long-term storage. Makes about 7- 8 half-pint jars, depending on how much liquid is evaporated from the tomatoes.
Note: The preserves may be made with red tomatoes, but the flavor will be very different. Since red tomatoes are high in acid, they may be sealed and processed in a boiling water bath for 30 minutes. Add 1 ½ teaspoons bottled lemon juice to each half-pint jar.
*You may also make smaller amounts, adjusting the sugar, lemon, and ginger root to taste.
Check out our radio show, “La Vida Local” on Crescent Hill Radio:www.crescenthillradio.com, with former Courier-Journal food editor, Sarah Fritschner, Patty Marguet and me. If you know a great cook, please recommend them for an interview. You may stream the show on the CHR website at 1 p.m. Saturdays or find it on the sound cloud or on Facebook under La Vida Local. Bardstown Road Farmers Market vendors Ken & Colter Hubsch were recent guests, as well as Lelia Gentle from DreamCatcher, Charles Hambley, Dan Franzen from Heritage Harvest Farm, BethFowe from Full Heart, and market manager Beth Nolte. Check for other recipes on my website, www.phyllisfitzgerald.com, and you may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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