Archive for September, 2009

Peach Chipotle Sauce (Sort Of)

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

peach chip web

Given my habit of losing just about everything, I guess it was only a matter of time before I mislaid a recipe.
Welcome to the mislaid-recipe post.
I actually made this dish TWICE. The first time I discovered that my camera had jammed just as the pork was ready to eat.
The second time the camera worked, but the recipe disappeared shortly after dinner.
I THINK I remember what I did. The recipe below replicates that memory. Unfortunately, I’m only about 80 percent sure of its accuracy.
Despite my qualms I wanted to post this sauce for readers before peach season ends because it is really, really delicious–a perfect balance of sweetness and heat.
I love it over cream cheese on crackers and also with pork. (It would probably be tasty with chicken, too.)
So here’s your chance to experiment along with me. If you do, please post a comment to let me know what you think of the recipe.
The Peach Chipotle Sauce
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
butter as necessary for sautéing
2 cups chopped peaches
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 chipotle in adobo, finely chopped (add a little more if you like things a little spicy; I do so I found 1-1/2 chipotles just right)
In a saucepan brown the onion in a little butter. Add the peaches, brown sugar, salt, and chopped chipotle.
Simmer the mixture until it reaches the desired consistency, stirring frequently. If you want to use it for baking (see below), you need to cook it only for about 15 minutes, until the flavors have melded but the consistency is not jam like.
If you want to serve it with cream cheese and crackers, cook it until it is jam like–that is, until it just begins to sheet, rather than drip, off a cold stainless-steel spoon.
This recipe makes about 1-1/2 cups of the jam-like version.


Peach Chipotle Pork Tenderloin
1 generous pound pork tenderloin
a small amount of extra-virgin olive oil for sautéing
1-1/2 cups “drippy” peach chipotle sauce (see above)
1/2 cup water
pepper to taste
a little more salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the tenderloin into small medallions. (This is neater if you place it in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes before you slice it.)
Sauté the tenderloin in a small amount of olive oil to brown the medallions on both sides. Transfer them to a baking dish.
Combine the chipotle sauce, water, and pepper and pour them over the pork. Cover the baking dish, and place it in the preheated oven.
Bake for 45 minutes; then uncover the mixture and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more. Add a little salt if necessary to taste. Serve over noodles. Serves 4.


End of Season Ratatouille

Monday, September 14th, 2009
Ratatouille web
Here is another entry in the zucchini stakes–perhaps my last for this year. The little green gourds are beginning to be supplanted by their longer lasting fall cousins!
It pairs zucchini with other wonderful late-season vegetables, including eggplant, one of my all-time favorites.
This vegetable medley tastes lovely (and just a little spicy) by itself or over pasta. The formula here is meant only to get you started at the stove. If you have corn, add some kernels to the blend. If your herb garden has more oregano than basil, throw in some oregano. In short, let your garden and your pantry guide you.
1 medium eggplant, cubed
extra-virgin olive oil as needed
1 large onion, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 to 3 bell peppers of differing colors (I used purple and green because that’s what I found at the farm stand!)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (to taste)
salt and pepper to taste
2 small zucchini cubed, or 1 zucchini and 1 summer squash
2 large or 3 medium tomatoes
2 sprigs basil
2 sprigs parsley plus chopped parsley for garnish
Place the eggplant cubes in salted water to soak while you cook other ingredients.
In a 4-quart Dutch oven heat some olive oil. Add the onion and garlic, and sauté, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the peppers, pepper flakes, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and sauté, stirring, for at least 4 minutes more. Turn off the heat.
In a separate frying pan heat more oil and sauté the squash pieces for 4 to 5 minutes. Add a sprinkle of salt and throw the salted squash into the onion/pepper mixture. Drain the eggplant pieces and sauté them in q little more oil in the same pan you used for the squash. After about 4 minutes, add a tiny bit of salt, and toss them into the vegetable medley.
Add the tomatoes and the herb sprigs, stir, and cook all the vegetables over low heat for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. When you are ready to serve your ratatouille remove the wilted sprigs of herbs. Place the vegetables in a serving dish and toss chopped parsley overall.
Serves 4 to 6.
I love eggplant!

I love eggplant!

Lock Your Doors!

Friday, September 11th, 2009

zucchini cake web

My neighbor Jack, who read my recent rant about zucchini bashing, shared a zucchini anecdote with me the other day.
He was asked recently where he was living. When replied that he was in our small town of Hawley, he was told:
“Hawley’s a nice town. People don’t lock their doors there–except at this time of year. They’re afraid someone will come in and leave zucchini in the house.”
Here I try once more to redeem zucchini’s sinister reputation with a recipe.
Pam Matthews of Phillips, Maine, was one of my co-thespians (and friends) when she lived in western Massachusetts.
She sent me the moist, flavorful zucchini formula below. She says the recipe was originally meant to make zucchini bread, but she found it cakelike and decided to bake it in a Bundt pan instead of bread pans.
It makes a lovely coffee cake (or yes, sweet bread) on its own. You can also dress it up (as my young friend Maija did) with a little cream-cheese frosting. (The candy corn is not obligatory, although we had a lot of fun with it.)
Maija considers her candy placement.
Maija considers her candy placement.
Pam’s Zucchini Cake
1 cup canola oil (or 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup softened butter)
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (I like these so I used a little extra)
1/2 cup raisins (ditto)
1/4 cup finely chopped pineapple (optional: this wasn’t in Pam’s recipe, but I had it in the house so I threw it in, and it worked)
3/4 cup shredded coconut (again you could use a little more; I LOVE COCONUT)
2 cups grated zucchini, drained in a dishtowel
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan.
Cream together the oil and sugar; then beat in the eggs, 1 at a time. Beat in the vanilla, followed by the cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda.
Stir in all but 1 tablespoon of the flour. Add that tablespoon of flour to the walnuts and raisins and mix well. Stir them into the batter, along with the pineapple (if you are using it) and the coconut. Fold in the zucchini.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake it until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 55 to 65 minutes. Serves 10 to 12.

Corn Moon

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009


Last weekend we celebrated not only Labor Day but the Corn Moon–the golden September full moon that marks the height of the corn harvest.
Corn is the perfect late-summer vegetable. Its color reflects the hues of the sun and the goldenrod-filled fields. Its subtly sweet taste reminds us to savor summer’s beauty while we still have it.
A few years back I tasted my first corn salsa, created by Nikki Ciesluk. Nikki’s family runs an attractive, abundant farm stand in Deerfield, Massachusetts, that specializes in sweet corn. Her salsa, which was featured in Yankee magazine, made me want to make some of my own.
Somehow I never got around to making it, however–until this past corn moon. Our dear friends the Kubaseks came to visit and brought farm-fresh corn. Grilling it took a little time and effort, but Bill the Grillmeister was up to the challenge.
When the salsa was finally ready to eat, 18-year-old Jasi said, “This is the best salsa I have ever tasted.” High praise!
A note: like most salsas, this one will vary a bit depending on the heat of the peppers used and the moisture content of the tomatoes. When I made a second batch I used an unidentified pepper from my garden that turned out to be VERY hot. I toned it down by adding a bit of honey to the salsa, but next time I’ll make sure I know what sort of pepper I’m throwing in.
A second note: don’t forget to wear gloves when you cut up your hot pepper!
Bill and Jasi man the grill

Bill and Jasi man the grill.

Grilled Corn Salsa
3 small ears or 2 large ears corn
olive oil as needed for roasting
1 medium-hot pepper (you could go as mild as an ancho or an Anaheim or as hot as a jalpeño, but don’t stray too far in either direction), seeded and cut up
1/2 bell pepper–green, red, or orange–finely diced
1/2 small red onion, finely diced
the juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon salt
a handful of cilantro, chopped
1/2 tomato, diced
Preheat your grill. Brush (with a brush or paper towels) the corn with olive oil and grill it until it begins to brown just a bit (about 12 minutes), turning frequently. Let it cool for a few minutes; then cut the kernels off.
In a bowl combine the peppers, onion, lime juice, salt, and cilantro. Stir in the tomato, followed by the corn kernels.
Serve as a side dish or with tortilla chips. Makes about 2 cups.
grilled corn web

Bread and Roses

Monday, September 7th, 2009
My roses have gone by so I had to serve Bread and Roses of Sharon!

My roses have gone by so I had to serve Bread and Roses of Sharon!

I sang “Bread and Roses” in church yesterday in honor of Labor Day.
The words to this song came from a 1911 poem by James Oppenheim, commonly associated with a bitter textile strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts, in the winter of 1912.
Legend has it that women striking in Lawrence carried signs that read, “Give us bread and roses too.”
The poem speaks in the voice of women strikers who long for a more just world in which they will be given not merely enough to eat but also enough to nourish their spirits.
“Bread and Roses” reflects the era in which it was written. It is idealistic about the role of women in society, shot through with the passion of the progressive movement, and mindful of the disparity of wealth that characterized early 20th-century America.
Here is a stanza of the song:
As we go marching, marching, we bring the greater days.
The rising of the women means the rising of the race.
No more the drudge and idler,
Ten that toil where one reposes,
But a sharing of life’s glories:
Bread and roses, bread and roses.
Oppenheim’s words have been set to at least two tunes. The version with which I am more familiar is the newer of the two. It was written in the 1970s by Mimi Farina. Farina started a nonprofit group in San Francisco called Bread and Roses, which brings music to people in institutions like prisons, hospitals, and rest homes.
Her version of “Bread and Roses” is performed every year at my alma mater, Mount Holyoke College, by the graduating seniors. On the day before they graduate they wind their laurel chain around the grave of Mary Lyon, the college’s founder, and sing all four verses of the song.
2009 Seniors with the Laurel Chain (Courtesy of Mount Holyoke College)

2009 Seniors with the Laurel Chain (Courtesy of Mount Holyoke College)

This tradition always touches me. It connects these young women to other Mount Holyoke graduates–some of whom march in the laurel parade with them every year.
It also connects even the most aristocratic of the seniors to working people everywhere. Mount Holyoke has a long tradition of training its students to reach out to others; Washington Monthly recently ranked the college second in the nation at contributing to the good of the country.
Mostly it reminds the seniors (and those who listen to them sing) that college, life, and justice are about more than just making a living–that to be happy, healthy, and good we must enrich the soul as well as the body.
Hearts starve as well as bodies.
Give us bread, but give us roses.
In honor of Labor Day, then, here is a seasonal bread recipe. I’m afraid you’ll have to supply the roses yourself! Read a book. Listen to music. Work in your garden. Walk in the woods. In short, do something that will make you happy….
Pesto Bread
This recipe is very flexible. If you are overwhelmed by your basil crop, double the pesto you add. Use all-basil or all-parsley pesto. (I only mixed them because I ran out of basil!) Use more whole-wheat flour for healthier bread. Use less for more delicate bread.
If you don’t want to braid your bread, put it in traditional loaf pans (greased, please). I braided mine because my friend Anna and her daughter Maija were around to help.
But don’t forget the roses!
for the pesto:
1 generous tablespoon pine nuts (or walnuts or pecans if you’re out of pine nuts)
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup mixed basil and parsley leaves, packed
enough extra-virgin olive oil to moisten the basil (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
for the bread:
1 packet active dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup hot water
6 cups flour (I used 1-1/2 cups King Arthur Flour white whole wheat and the rest KAF all-purpose), plus a bit more for kneading
1 teaspoon salt
1 recipe pesto
a sprinkling of cornmeal
First, prepare your pesto. Place the nuts, garlic, and salt in a small grinder or a blender, along with some of the herb leaves. Add a little bit of olive oil, and pulverize. Continue adding herb leaves and oil until you have transformed all of the leaves into a paste. Stir in the cheese and set aside.
Next, proof the yeast in the lukewarm water in a small bowl, along with the sugar. This will take about 5 minutes.
Combine the milk and hot water and make sure that the combination is lukewarm (if it isn’t heat it briefly on the stove). In a large separate bowl, combine the flour and salt. Briskly stir in the dissolved yeast and the liquids; then stir in the pesto.
Place the dough on a lightly greased or floured surface, put a little oil on your hands, and knead the dough for about 8 minutes, until it feels just right. You may add a little more flour as you knead, but try not to add too much.
Transfer the dough to a greased bowl and cover it with a damp towel. Let it rise until it puffs up and just about doubles in bulk. This will probably take an hour or more.
Gently deflate the dough with your hands, and cut it in two with a serrated knife.
Place each half in turn on an oiled board, and shape it into a rectangle. Cut the rectangle in three at every spot except the very top so that you can braid it (I know I’m not phrasing this very elegantly, but the photo below should help). Braid the bread.
Anna prepares to braid bread.

Anna prepares to braid bread.

Place each braid on a cookie sheet on which you have dusted cornmeal. Allow the braids to rise again until they have doubled in bulk–about an hour.
Bake the braids in a preheated 350-degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until they are a light golden brown. Makes 2 braids.
Maija concentrates on braiding.

Maija concentrates on braiding.

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