Saturday, June 18, 2011

Buttermilk Pie

On Thursday night I found myself with a little extra time on my hands. I think it's because we made dinner at home and that dinner was quick and easy requiring the use of only a few dishes. So, I pulled a roll of pie crust from the freezer before I started on dinner and set it out to thaw.

Buttermilk pie. I read about this southern treat on the Homesick Texan blog back around Easter time. At the time, we were baking up a storm and I couldn't really think how to fit in buttermilk pie so I didn't do it.

However, once again I was left with some extra buttermilk after using it in a recipe. I know there are substitutes for buttermilk but I am partial to the real thing. I had already made biscuits, the zucchini bread and now I still had more remaining. So buttermilk pie it was.

I must say I was a little nervous about this pie. I didn't want it to just taste like buttermilk. I read that it was a super sweet custard pie--not to be confused with a cream pie, custard is thicker.

This pie was a cinch to whip up taking only a few minutes to come together but then an hour to cook. I thought the flavor was delicious and the smell of it baking was outstanding. My husband brought the rest of the pie to work and everyone loved it. I would make this again if the right situation presented it is I still have some buttermilk I could use...

I followed this recipe from NPR, I used the regular version and didn't think it was that sweet. I also added a dash of nutmeg.

1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour, plus a little for dusting
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 1/2 cups buttermilk for less sweet version)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

3 eggs (or 4 eggs for less sweet version)

Beat eggs slightly with a fork and add sugar and flour and mix with a wooden spoon. Then add melted butter and mix well. Add buttermilk and vanilla and mix. Add a dash of nutmeg if you are so inclined.

Dust the unbaked pie shell with a little bit of flour. Pour batter into shell, and then sprinkle a little more flour on top. (oops I did not do that and it turned out fine)

Bake at 325 degrees until the custard is set, approximately 1 hour. The custard will shake a little but if you push a butter knife in the middle it will come out clean. Also, there will be a nice bit of browning on top. I let the pie cool slightly and then had a slice. Then I covered and chilled it for the coworkers the next day.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pan Seared Pork with Potatoes

Everyday I receive an email from Martha Stewart with a recipe for dinner and most of the time they are something that I wouldn't be making at home like Thai rice bowls or some no cook salad or soup. However, this last week I received a recipe for Pan Seared Pork with Potatoes and that sounded easy and quick, so I put it on my list.

After reading the recipe later I discovered that it called for pork tenderloin. Now don't get me wrong, I like pork tenderloin, it's just that it is really expensive. So I decided to use the thin boneless pork chops for this recipe instead. When I went to the store to get them, I forgot to consult my list and did not come home with the scallions the recipe called for. No bother, I added a bit of regular onion and it worked out fine. There are lemons included in this recipe and after cooking I ate the whole lemon slice--peel and all and it was delicious.

I couldn't believe how fast and easy this recipe was. I am always under the impression that potatoes aren't really very easy to make for a week night meal--but this hardly took 30 minutes in total. And, the best part was that my husband gave his stamp of approval on the meal!

So maybe I didn't follow Martha's directions, but let me tell you what I did:

4 thin boneless pork chops
3/4 pound of thin-skinned red or white potatoes (I used these cool ones from the market that were purple & white skinned but just white inside), cut into 1 inch cubes
2 T yellow onion diced small
salt & pepper
1 lemon
2 T olive oil
1/2 C water

1. Heat 1 T olive oil in a large skillet (you will need a lid later) over medium-high heat. Add potatoes, salt & pepper to taste and cook until lightly browned.
2. Add water and cover, cooking for five minutes or so until the potatoes are fork-tender and liquid has evaporated.
3, Add the onion and cook quickly until slightly soft
4. Remove potatoes and onion from pan and keep warm (I placed them in a bowl in the microwave)
5. Heat the remaining 1 T olive oil in the same skillet. Add pork and cook until browned and cooked through--about 2 minutes a side.
6. Meanwhile, slice the lemon into thin slices--about 2 per pork piece. Squeeze the remaining lemon juice in the pan with the pork. Add lemon slices into the pan in the last 2 minutes of cooking.
7. Serve pork, potatoes and lemon

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Grilled Steak & Tomato Sandwiches

My mom and I needed a quick idea for a nice lunch after a concert in Ojai for a large group. A couple of weeks before the event, I saw an idea on Martha Stewart for steak sandwiches. To change them up a bit, Martha added grilled tomatoes and basil along with the steak.

The grilled tomatoes with a little salt and oil really make this sandwich. If you aren't a tomato fan but want to serve this to a crowd who is, set out a sauce option for the non-tomato eaters as the sandwich would be a bit dry otherwise.

This was the perfect sandwich for a kick off to summer. We served it on thick fresh olive bread. Make these sandwiches and you won't be sorry!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

New Product - Rinaldi To Be Healthy Pasta Sauce

I decided on Wednesday night because I planned to do all these cooking (zucchini bread, coconut soup), that we needed to have a quick dinner. So I purchased a package of Italian sausage tortellini and a jar of pasta sauce. As usual, I was stumped when I got to the sauce aisle. There are so many choices!

The thing about pasta sauce is that they all taste basically the same unless you make your own or get something fresh and they all come in jars enough for at least 3 lbs of pasta smothered in sauce. The other thing is that once gargantuan jar of sauce is opened it sits in the fridge for weeks until you want to have regular pasta with red sauce again and then you either forget you have the stuff and buy an additional jar, or it has gone bad, or you didn't love it in the first place and are reluctant to finish it off.

This is the dilemma I have about pasta sauce every time I'm in that aisle. So I always aim for a smallish jar that is on sale so it doesn't become a huge deal*. This week, Rinaldi To Be Healthy sauce was on sale. I was intrigued by the addition of omega 3 and then when I checked out the ingredients I saw it contained carrots--extra much needed vegetables in our diet, it was a sign.

This sauce is pretty good. It passed the husband test, it had a nice flavor and I hardly noticed the shreds of carrots, and the sauce seemed like it was healthier than others. It also didn't come in a massive jar--but we still have half left. I would buy this sauce again when I'm in a bind.

*When I feel like doing a smidge more cooking than just boiling water, I make this pasta sauce from Smitten Kitchen and avoid the sauce aisle dilemma altogether and only have to make a decision on which can of tomatoes to buy.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Coconut Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Collard Greens

Last week my sister in law got her second box of produce. In it was a bunch of collard greens that she went to great lengths to get rid of. I ended up taking those greens and then had to figure out what to do with them.

There are two typical ways to make collard greens. 1. Braise them with hamhocks for hours until they are cooked down and flavorful, 2. saute them with bacon and onions. While the latter sounded like my kind of thing, I was really hoping to find something different to do with them. Eventually, I came across a recipe for soup with the greens. I thought it sounded interesting--something like a thai curry soup.

I got all the ingredients with grand plans to make it Wednesday night and then I hit a roadblock of laziness and put them aside. Finally I got to it on Saturday. This soup is ridiculously quick to make (as long as you don't have to run to the store to replace a moldy onion). After some light chopping the soup comes together in 40 minutes. One could have this as a quick weeknight meal.

My husband likely wouldn't eat this soup--although he said it smelled good and I almost got him to try some...I had my taste of the soup with dinner and poured it over rice. I don't think it needs the rice though as it wasn't nearly as spicy as I expected. I put in the lime juice and the cilantro and I think that was a nice edition.

You can find the recipe over on Dandy Sugar, Here.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Zucchini Bread

I had a real hankering for some zucchini bread last week as I peanut-buttered up a slice of whole wheat bread for my typical breakfast. Boy, was I tired of peanut butter bread. So I scoured the web for a good recipe and then headed to the farmer's market for some fresh zucchini.

I ended up choosing this recipe from Simple Bites. The results were mixed. My bread wasn't as solid as I expected and I also feel like it wasn't as sweet as I am used to...or something. Honestly I can't place it but it was different. That being said, the bread is still delicious just not the one I was thinking of (and if you know the one I was thinking of please let me know!). The one thing about this recipe though is that it is relatively healthy with hardly any oil.

The only change that I made which I didn't see on the recipe page was to cook the 6 muffins for only 35 minutes (and it should've been less, maybe 30) because they take less time than the loaf.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Grilled Tri Tip

Tri Tip roasts are a go-to dinner at our household. They cook up well, they make enough for either a crowd or for a future dinner, and they're ridiculously easy. Untrimmed tritip roasts are often on sale too. This week, I opted for the hand trimmed roast that also happened to be on sale. Joey usually does the grilling for this bad boy but today I took over and I'm here to share the method.

We grill on a Weber Genesis Gas Grill and this is the method for gas-grilling this beef.

1 tri tip roast (usually around 2 1/2 lbs)
kosher salt

1. Turn on all three burners on the grill and heat to around 500 degrees but hotter is fine.
2. Meanwhile, rub kosher salt into the meat all over--use more than you need because it will fall off a little on the grill.
3. Once the grill is hot, place the meat over the center burner area in the center of the grill. Sear the meat--this should take around 5 minutes.
4. Once the meat has a nice crust, flip it over--watch out for flareups especially if you are using the un-trimmed variety.
5. Sear the other side of the meat for an additional 5 minutes. Now turn off the center burner but don't move the meat. This is called cooking on indirect heat.
6. Check the meat every 5-7 minutes for doneness. Ours took about 20 or so minutes to get up to 140 degrees in the thickest part. Actually, it wasn't as rare as I like it but it was a perfect medium for Joey.
7. Let rest a few minutes before cutting and then slice it from the thin edge into thin slices.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Peas & Mint

This spring, Jenny & I have been seeing articles about the combination of peas and mint absolutely everywhere. Every blog, book and newspaper we read is filled with recipes for this odd-sounding combination. So last week I made a decision, I would try it just to see.

Originally I was considering making peas, mint and cream as I read that was one variation but that sounded even weirder and more likely to fail, so I just stuck to the basics.

Let me tell you, shelling peas is so not rewarding! I bought probably a half pound of peas and after shelling had enough for a very small vegetable portion for one person.

I really did keep it simple - I steamed the peas for 3 minutes in a steamer basket and added some chopped mint during the last minute of steaming.

The Result? Actually pretty good. Fresh peas are nothing like the soggy smooshy frozen peas you probably ate as a child. Fresh peas when steamed shortly have a little bit of a bite too them and a bit more of a sweeter flavor. And the mint? It takes on a whole different level of flavor--kind of like the bite of freshness one can impart from parsley. The mintyness of mint that I despise was not there, it was just fresh and springy and I would make it again.