Showing posts with label garden. Show all posts
Showing posts with label garden. Show all posts

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Knock-off Chinese-Style Sesame Green Beans #recipe @LucyBurdette



LUCY BURDETTE:  Fact--I cannot resist sesame green beans in a Chinese restaurant, even though I know they are loaded with fat and salt. When I saw the colander full of beans that my hub had picked in our garden last week, I knew I would attempt my own version.

But first, I should tell you that these beans were hard fought treasures. A family of woodchucks moved in across the road and decimated our crops three times over. Finally Farmer John's layers of netting and booby traps including hot sauce and cayenne pepper kept them out, barely averting disaster: He insisted I order a trap and threatened to send me and Tonka out there with a gun to spend the night. (Ha!)

Ingredients

2 handfuls of fresh green beans
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
dash of sesame oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1-2 tablespoons of soy sauce

Cut the ends off the green beans, break into 2-inch pieces, blanch quickly in boiling water. 


Heat the three oils together. Stir-fry the blanched beans in the oil for several minutes. Add the sesame seeds and continue to stir. Add the soy sauce and stir until the liquid is slightly reduced. Turn the heat off and cover the pan.

 








Pretty darned good! We ate every one that same night. Oh so delicious, Mr. Woodchuck, so sorry you couldn't make it to dinner...



















FATAL RESERVATIONS is on bookshelves now! 


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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

How to Transform Tomato Peels into a Tasty "Sun-Dried" Tomato Spice by Cleo Coyle




My pop, Tony Alfonsi, was born November 29, 1929, exactly one month after Black Tuesday, the most devastating stock market crash in the history of the United States. Needless to say, Dad was a Depression era baby. He never had to preach principles of economy to me. He lived them—which meant I learned them by osmosis. Consequently, "waste not" has been a part of my philosophy for a very long time. (It’s also the basis for a whole range of global cuisines, but that’s another post.)

As for this post…

It's one I promised you last week when I showed you how to make Meatless Italian Tomato Sauce from fresh tomatoes. If you missed that post, you can jump to it now by clicking here.

Peeling and de-seeding fresh tomatoes takes your sauce up a level in quality. It also leaves you with a big ol' pile of tomato skins and peels, but you don't have to discard them. Today's recipe will show you how to make tasty use of them...




Cleo Coyle's
"Sun-Dried"
Tomato Flakes


To download this recipe in a PDF document that you can print, save, or share, click here.


Sun-dried tomatoes bring great flavor to so many dishes. That bright, tangy taste is concentrated beautifully in these easy-to-make tomato flakes.


Cleo Coyle, veggie
dehydrator, is author of The
Coffeehouse Mysteries 
You can toss the flakes onto sandwiches and wraps, stir them into soups, stews, and veggie dips; add a few tablespoons to a meatloaf (in place of tomato paste); or flavor boost your salads, pastas, burgers, omelets, and pizza. Best of all, it's a great use for tomato skins and peels that you might otherwise discard. The insanely easy instructions are below. So waste not and...eat with joy! ~ Cleo



Step 1: Start with the tomato peels (or skins) that you have left over from cooking sauce from scratch or other uses. (For instructions on how to easily remove tomato skins, see my recipe post from last week by clicking here.) Place parchment paper on a half-sheet pan and brush the paper with olive oil. Spread out the tomato peels in a single layer. 


Step 2: Bake in an oven preheated to 225 degrees. F. After 30 minutes flip the peels over. Bake for another 20 to 30 minutes for a total cooking time of about 1 hour. The peels are done when they turn crisp like potato chips—but you don’t want them to turn dark brown so check them near the end of the cooking time.


Step 3: When they’re done dehydrating in the oven, place the dried peels in a food processor, blender, or spice grinder (a coffee grinder with a blade) and run the machine in short bursts or pulses until they form flakes. (Do not over-process.) Store the tomato flakes in a sealed plastic bag or airtight container. For longer life (about 2 months), I keep mine in the refrigerator.




Eat with joy!

~ Alice Alfonsi
(Cleo Coyle)

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
Friend me on facebook here.
Follow me on twitter here
Learn about my mysteries here.







To view the
Coffeehouse Mystery
book trailer, click here.
 






The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each of the
12 titles includes the added bonus of recipes. 
To learn more, click here. 

 

The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure


Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
Mysteries
, which Cleo writes
under the name
Alice Kimberly

To learn more, click here.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

How to Make Meatless Italian Spaghetti Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes: A post for my Dad (Tony Alfonsi) by Cleo Coyle


I swear this 2-hour meatless sauce will fool anyone into thinking it was simmered for 6-hours with meat. The rich depth of flavor is amazing and well worth a Saturday afternoon making it the way the "old timers" did. Even if you make it only once in your cooking life, the experience is one you'll never forget.


For those of you who've made pasta sauce from fresh tomatoes, you know the very smell of the sauce cooking is like nothing else on earth. With all my heart, I wanted to experience that little piece of heaven again to bring back some very sweet memories of my father, Antonio "Tony" Alfonsi.

Dad went into the hospital a week after Father’s Day and never came out again. He passed away on June 27 and we laid him to rest July 3rd at the age of 83. 

Dad was born a poor boy, the son of an Italian mounted police officer and his wife who emigrated here from Italy. But Dad didn't need money to lead a rich life with plenty of family and friends who loved him. 

He was a tough guy with a tender heart who served in the Army Air Corps then worked for years in a Pittsburgh area steel mill...
My Pop, Tony, with his mother Grazia.
(You can see the steel mills in the background.) 

My Father and Mother,
Antonio and Rose Alfonsi



For over 30 years, Tony was a faithful husband to my late mom, Rose. He raised two daughters with her: one a medical doctor (and assistant professor), Grace; and the other a journalist and New York Times bestselling author (yes, me, Alice, aka Cleo). 

As one of his nurses said to him in the last few months of his life, "You did good." I think so, too, and count myself very lucky to have been his daughter.







My sister, Dr. Grace Alfonsi, during her
time serving as Community Health Director
in Bethel, Alaska. 


During the Depression, my father's father kept his large family fed by working a small farm from which they sold produce. Every spring, my dad helped plant 2,000 tomato plants for his family, so he had no problem tending the 100 or so tomato plants he sowed for our own little family every summer.

Fresh pasta sauce was part of that yield, which is why I'm dedicating this post to my father. My husband and I also dedicated one of our Haunted Bookshop Mysteries to him, as well as our 13th Coffeehouse Mystery, Billionaire Blend, the book we were writing when he passed away. 

Finally, I'd love to tell you how the Chianti in this picture got into this recipe, but that’s another story (thank you, Maria)! In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the recipe. May you cook it with love and make lifelong memories of your own...

Eat with (everlasting) joy,

Alice Alfonsi,
who writes The Coffeehouse Mysteries
as Cleo Coyle with her husband Marc Cerasini

8 pounds (about 23) peeled and de-seeded
fresh tomatoes will cook down to about 1 quart (4 cups),

which is what I use in the sauce recipe below...


Cleo Coyle's
Meatless Italian Spaghetti Sauce 
from Fresh Tomatoes for my Father...

To download this recipe
in an illustrated PDF
 document that you can print,
save, or share, click here.



What kind of tomatoes should you use for this recipe? While Roma (aka Italian plum) tomatoes are traditionally used for sauce, you can use any kind for this recipe. Whether you grow your own, pass a farm stand with big baskets for sale, or simply see a summer sale at your grocery, you can make this sauce out of any tomatoes you find or even mix the varieties--as long as they're ripe, you will eat with joy! 

~ Cleo (Alice)


Makes about 1-1/2 to 2 quarts
(depending on your thickness preference)


Ingredients:

8 pounds ripe garden tomatoes

   (about 20 to 25 tomatoes)
5 celery ribs
2 carrots
1 large white onion
1/3 cup roughly chopped parsley leaves (curly or flat-leaf)
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 Tablespoon dried basil (or 3 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade.)
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup of your favorite red wine (I’m using Chianti this go-round)

1-4 cups vegetable stock (in a pinch, simply use water)


Step 1- Prep the fresh tomato base: The taste of fresh summer tomatoes in this sauce is truly amazing, but you must first properly prepare the tomatoes. The process of peeling, de-seeding, and pulping those little round orbs may sound difficult, but it’s very easy—and once learned, the techniques can be used in a lifetime of cooking. See my instructions at the end of this recipe.




Step 2 - Prep the veggie aromatics: Roughly chop the celery, carrots, parsley, and onion. Add them to a food processor with the olive oil and pulse until very finely chopped—but do not puree or liquefy.



Step 3 - Add the spices and ignite: Add this veggie mix to a large pot with the spices (garlic powder, fresh or dried basil, dried oregano, salt, and pepper) and sauté (while stirring) over medium heat for about 10 minutes to release the flavors. Be sure to stir to keep the mixture from burning.



Step 4 - Add tomato pulp, wine and simmer: Add the quart of tomatoes that you have peeled, de-seeded, and cooked down into pulp (see instructions at end). Pour in the wine and simmer for 1 hour, stirring every so often to prevent scorching. After 1 hour, the mixture will have thickened into a beautifully condensed and very flavorful sauce. Now all you need to do is thin it out a bit...

Step 5 - Finish with stock (or water): To thin out this very thick sauce, stir in 1 to 4 cups of vegetable stock (or water). Continue cooking and stirring for another 20 to 30 minutes. If you like, use an immersion blender to smooth out any remaining chunks before serving. (We do!)

Depending on your own taste, continue adding more stock (or water) and/or cooking down until you get the consistency (thinness or thickness) that you prefer. 

Storing: This sauce will stay fresh about 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.


How to Prep Fresh Tomatoes for Sauce 

Peeling and de-seeding tomatoes will remove bitterness and unwanted textures from your sauce. Because this step brings your sauce to a higher level of taste, it’s truly worth it—and it’s very easy to do. To watch a chef from the Culinary Institute of America perform this very easy process, click the arrow in the window below and watch the YouTube video.

-----------------------------------



---------------------------------------

1 - Peel your tomatoes: Remove stems and shallowly core as shown in my photo. Slice a small X at the bottom of each tomato. 


Place a few tomatoes at a time into a pot of simmering (or boiling) water. After 15 to 30 seconds (no more) remove immediately and drop in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. 



Using your fingers, gently peel the skin off the tomatoes. (You can save the skins to make a delicious condiment "sun-dried tomato flakes," click here for that recipe.) If you have any trouble with peeling a tomato, simply place it back in the boiling water for another 15 seconds and repeat the process. 


2 – De-seed your tomatoes: Cut the tomatoes in half--make sure you cut it as shown, crosswise, along its equator. Using a small spoon, gently dig out the seeds and discard. (You will not get every single seed out, and that's okay, just get as many as you can and you'll improve the sauce flavor.)


3 – Pulp your tomatoes: Place a large pot on the stove. Using a clean hand, roughly crush each peeled and seeded tomato over the pot and toss inside. Cook down the tomatoes over medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring every so often to prevent scorching. Continue mashing the tomatoes with a large spoon as they cook


Cook until the excess water has evaporated and you are left with tomato pulp. 8 pounds of tomatoes will give you about 4 cups (1 quart) of tomato pulp. 



While the tomatoes are cooking down, begin the Meatless Spaghetti Sauce recipe, starting with Step 2, and when you're finished, be sure to...eat with joy!



A daughter may outgrow your lap,
but she will never outgrow your heart.
I love you, Dad. Rest now and
I will see you again...



~ Alice Alfonsi
(Cleo Coyle)

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me now, Cleo (aka Alice). 
Friend me on facebook here.
Follow me on twitter here
Visit my online coffeehouse here.




The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each of the
12 titles includes the added bonus of recipes. 
To learn more, click here. 

 

The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure


Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
Mysteries
, which Cleo writes
under the name
Alice Kimberly

To learn more, click here.