Archive for Summer Vegetables and Sides

Caponata (Sweet And Sour Eggplant)

You just gotta love summer!

It’s delicious! The recipe makes a lot, but it keeps very well, for up to 1 week. It’s bit time consuming but I think the end result is well worth it and you can cut up everything but the eggplant the day before. Terrific to have in the fridge in the summer to serve with Italian bread or as part of an antipasti platter. Heck, I can’t see why it would not be good in a pasta salad or as a condiment in a sandwich, or like our friends did, served it with grilled lamb! Like I said, it’s delicious and when I make it everyone loves it! Who doesn’t like praise?

Makes About 1 Quart

DSC_3828 nx22 lbs. eggplant
2 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. coarse sea salt
EVOO oil for frying the eggplant
11 garlic cloves, chopped
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 28 oz. tin Italian tomatoes, finely chopped, juice reserved
5 celery ribs, cut into ½” pieces
1 large onion
1  red or yellow bell pepper, cut into ½” pieces, or half of each colour
1 cup (6 oz.) green olives (Sicilian or Greek olives) in brine, pitted, cut into ¼” pieces or so
¼ cup drained bottled capers, rinsed
1/3 cup red-wine vinegar
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh basil

Cut eggplant into 1/2 “cubes & transfer to a colander. Toss with 2 Tbsp. sea salt; let drain 1 hour.
While eggplant drains, heat 2 Tbsp. EVOO in a 4 – 5 qt. heavy pot until hot, but not smoking, then sauté ¾ of the garlic, stirring, until golden, but not browned, up to 1 minute. Add tomato paste & cook stirring, 1 minute. Add tomatoes & their juice; reduce heat & simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally until thickened, 20 – 25 minutes. Set aside.

You can make this the day before & chill until ready to proceed with making the caponata.

Bring 3 cups water to a boil; add 1 tsp. salt. Cook celery until tender, 5 – 7 minutes. Drain in a colander & rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Set aside.

Gently squeeze eggplant to remove excess moisture & pat dry. Heat ¼” EVOO (about 2 cups) in a 12” heavy frying pan over moderately high heat to 360 F, then fry eggplant in 4 batches, stirring & turning constantly with a slotted spoon until browned and tender, 3 – 5 minutes. per batch. Bring oil back to 360 F between each batch.. Transfer eggplant to a paper towel lined baking pan.

I like to use my trusty electric frying pan for this because of it’s built in thermometer.

Pour off all but 2 Tbsp. of the oil from the frying pan. Turn the heat down to moderate & return the pan to the burner, or continue using the electric frying pan. Cook onion, bell pepper & remaining garlic, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 10 minutes. It’s always a good idea to add the garlic half way through this process so that it won’t burn. Add chopped tomatoes & their juice, eggplant, celery, olives, capers, vinegar, sugar, pepper & remaining 1 tsp. salt & simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes.

Cool to room temperature, uncovered, then chill, covered for at least 8 hours.

Just before serving stir in the parsley and basil. Serve at room temperature. Yum, yum!  And…for a little extra yumm you can add 1/3 cup each golden raisins & either toasted pine-nuts or slivered almonds after the caponata is cooked but still hot.

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Crunchy Dill Pickles

Dill pickles are one of the things that we like a lot at our house. We have been canning/preserving them every year for it seems like forever…and when you present a jar to friends, are they ever happy! Cold, crisp and crunchy! We now get our organic dill cucumbers, dill weed and garlic from our local farmer’s market, we think the pickles have never been better. We put garlic in all the jars but only put pickling spice in half of them just for a bit of variety.

DSC_3927 nx2Makes Approximately 10 – 12 Quart Jars

10 – 12 lbs. dill cucumbers
2 bunches dill weed
10 – 12 large cloves garlic, peeled
Pickling spice
2 large bags of ice, (approximately 10 lbs.)

Pickling Liquid:

8 cups Heinz pickling vinegar, which is 7% acetic acid by volume, white distilled vinegar is 5%**
24 cups of water
1 ½ cups pickling salt

Special Equipment:

1 dozen quart sized, wide-mouth canning jars
Screw caps & lids if they don’t come with the jars
A canning kettle Wash & dry the canning jars & screw caps.

DSC_3936 nx2 nx2Fill the canning kettle about 2/3rd full with water, cover & bring to a boil. Turn the oven on to 225 F. Place as many jars as you can in the canning kettle at a time; cover & sterilize the jars for 10 minutes. If necessary, repeat with the remaining jars.

Line two rimmed baking sheets with kitchen towels. As the jars are sterilized, place them onto the towel lined baking sheets & keep warm in the oven. Place the screw caps in the boiling water & keep them at a simmer until ready to use.

While the jars are being sterilized, wash the cucumbers then place into a large spotlessly clean, metal tub; add cold water & ice to cover. Let stand for an hour. Don’t skip this step as this is what makes the pickles crisp.

In the meantime, place the vinegar, 24 cups of water and pickling salt in a very large pot, cover & bring to a boil to dissolve the salt. Turn the heat down to simmer, cover until ready to fill the jars. Follow the instructions on the package of your screw caps & lids for how to prepare the lids as different brands have varying methods for doing this.

DSC_4009 nx2After the hour is up chilling the cucumbers, remove the jars from the oven. Remove the cucumbers from the ice water bath a few at a time; with a spider or other large slotted spoon or sieve; place in a colander to drain slightly. Place a clove of garlic & two or three sprigs of dill weed, saving the blossoms for when the jars are filled & ½ tsp. pickling spice, start filling the jars with the cucumbers, blossom end down.

Once all the jars have been filled with cucumbers (make sure you don’t pack above the shoulder of the jars), top each with some of the dill weed blossoms; then fill each jar with the hot pickling liquid, just covering the dills & blossoms, poking down the blossoms into the liquid. Carefully wipe each jar with a clean damp cloth a few times; then place a hot lid on each one followed by a screw cap fingertip tightened. When each jar has been covered with the lids & caps, process in a hot water bath.**

**Heinz Canada recommends their Pickling Vinegar to properly preserve foods by inhibiting the growth of food spoilage bacteria, as it has an acidity level that is recommended for successful, safe, home preservation of foods.  If you are outside of Canada check other vinegars to ensure they are safe for preserving foods.

**To see about preserving/canning using a hot water bath, click here.

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Anne’s Pickled Beets

When I worked in the executive dining room, we made these every couple of weeks and now, for old time’s sake, I make them at Christmas. My Mom always made pickled beets from scratch including growing her own beets! Molto lavoro (much work); this seems a whole lot easier to me!  I love pickled beets!

DSC_6351 nx23 tins Alymer’s Whole Rosebud Beets
2 tsp. (scant) pickling salt
1-2 Tbsp. pickling spice
1 cup sugar
1 cup white distilled vinegar

Make The Beets:

Drain off beet juice from beets, reserving 1 cup, pour into a medium sized pot. Add the distilled vinegar, sugar, salt & pickling spice. Bring to a boil on medium heat; lower the heat to simmer & simmer for 20 minutes. Get a nice big jar with a lid; wash well with soap & water, rinse well, then fill it with boiling water, let stand for 10 minutes. Drain the water & add the beets to the jar. Strain the hot beet juice over the beets. Top with 1 Tbsp. of the pickling spice. Cover with the lid. Let cool. When cool, store in the fridge. The beets will keep for approximately 3 – 4 weeks in the fridge.

Tip:  My sister places her pickling spice in a tea-infuser then adds that to the beet juice, vinegar & sugar.  When she’s ready to put the beets in the jar, she takes out the tea-infuser, leaves a couple of teaspoons of spice mixture remaining, disposes of any extra; puts the tea-infuser into the jar with the beets and pours the liquid over the beets.   That way she doesn’t have her beets filled with the bits!

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Green Beans With Shallots And Lemon

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This has been my go-to for making green beans for many years…they seem to go with everything and most people like them! The lemon adds a nice citrusy zing!  When I make this  with locally grown beans it’s pretty awesome!

Makes 8 – 10 Servings

Haricot Green Beans2 – 2 ½ lbs. fresh green beans (Haricot Vert if you can)
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
¼ lb. unsalted butter (2 oz.)
4 Tbsp. very finely chopped shallots
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
Juice of 1 lemon (I like to use Meyer lemons)

Garnish: 8 – 10 lemon wedges (1 per serving)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add the salt when the water boils.

Meanwhile, trim the stem end of the beans. Place the beans into the pot of boiling water & blanch the beans approximately 1 ½ to 3 minutes (or until they are tender but still crunchy). Remove the beans with a slotted spoon or a “spider” to a large bowl of ice-water & cool the beans until cold. Drain well, place on paper towels & set aside. Place a large serving platter in an 180F oven to warm.

In a large skillet, toss beans over medium heat to remove any excess moisture. Season with salt & pepper to taste; add half the butter & the shallots to the beans & cook stirring for a few minutes until the beans are hot. With tongs, remove the beans to the warm serving platter; pour the lemon juice into the hot skillet then immediately over the beans. Cut the remaining butter into bits; add to the beans along with the chopped parsley; toss on the platter; garnish with the lemon wedges.

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Last Of The Zucchini Casserole

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A few days ago I picked the remaining Romanesco zucchini…now what? I’d pretty much run through the  “zucchini repertoire” and I needed to come up with something for dinner and there was some leftover corn we had cooked on the barbecue the night before! Here it is…sort of macaroni and cheese with lots of veggies instead of the macaroni. We made oven-fried chicken to accompany the casserole but it could be a main course. Leave out the bacon if you want a vegetarian casserole.

DSC_4933 nx2Makes 4 Side Dish Servings

1 lb. zucchini, sliced into 1/8” rounds
1 Tbsp. EVOO
1/8 tsp. each salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ – 2 cups corn kernels
2 – 3 slices bacon, depending on how large the bacon is
½ cup Panko crumbs
1 Tbsp. melted butter
2 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley
1 cup grated extra old cheddar (I used 2 year old  Balderson’s)
½ cup each of grated Gruyere & Parmesan cheese

Place the oven rack in the lower third of the oven & put a large shallow rimmed baking pan on the rack, then preheat the oven to 475 F. Toss the zucchini with the EVOO, salt & freshly ground black pepper in a medium sized bowl; place the zucchini rounds in one layer onto the preheated baking pan & roast for 5 minutes; turn zucchini rounds over & continue to roast for another 4 or 5 minutes until the squash is just tender. Set aside. Reduce the oven to 400 F.

Fry the bacon until almost crisp; remove to paper towels to drain; drain off excess bacon fat, leaving 1 Tbsp. for sautéing the onion. Sauté the onion until it is softened, about 5 – 7 minutes. While the onion is cooking, chop the bacon into bits & set aside. Mix the grated cheeses together & set aside.

Combine the Panko crumbs, melted butter, 1/3 cup of the cheese mixture, the bacon & the parsley; set aside.

For The Bechamel Sauce:

2 Tbsp. each unsalted butter & unbleached flour
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 ½ cups milk, preferably 2%
1/8 tsp. paprika
¼ tsp. Tabasco sauce

In a microwavable bowl, melt the butter, covered;  Add the chopped onion & microwave, uncovered,  for a couple of minutes on level 5 until the onion is softened & transparent. Whisk in the flour, return to the microwave & cook at level 5 for 1 – 2 minutes, until bubbly; remove from the microwave & whisk in the milk very slowly. Microwave the mixture, in 1 minute intervals on high heat, until it has thickened & come up to the boil. Remove from the microwave; whisk in the cheeses, salt, pepper to taste, paprika & Tabasco sauce; set aside until ready to use.

Grease a 9” shallow baking dish. Place the zucchini rounds in the dish; scatter with the corn; pour the cheese sauce over the veggies & scatter with the Panko crumbs. Place in the oven & bake 15 – 20 minutes until bubbly & lightly golden on top. Let rest for approximately 5 minutes & serve.

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Phyllis’ Tomato Salsa

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A good salsa is a wonderful thing! This version has both grape tomatoes and Sungold’s from the plants in our backyard. It certainly makes an eye catching and delicious salsa! Terrific on burritos, tacos or as a topping for grilled fish or chicken. You know they say, fresh is best!

DSC_4412 nx21 lb. tomatoes, chopped
1 small onion, minced
1 fresh jalapeno chili, seeded & minced
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic
1/8 tsp. coarse salt

Place the tomatoes, onion, jalapeno chili, lime juice & cilantro in a medium sized bowl. On a cutting board, mash the garlic with the salt using back & forth motions with the back of a chef’s knife until it is a paste; add the mixture to the tomato mixture & lightly stir in. Cover & set aside (not in the fridge) until ready to serve; up to 1 hour or so.

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Grilled Artichokes With EVOO, Lemon And Mint

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We are lucky enough to get local artichokes from Glen Valley Artichokes at both Kits Farmer’s Market and Yaletown. The first time I made this recipe we shared the artichokes with our neighbours; they made quite the impression! I know artichokes are a bit fiddly to prep. but I really think these unbelievably good little morsels are worth the effort! Hope you do too!  They would make an amazing addition to an antipasto platter.

DSC_4175 nx22 lemons, halved
6 large artichokes
2/3 cup EVO
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 ½ Tbsp. chopped fresh mint

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 – 2 Tbsp. salt.

Squeeze juice from halved lemons into a large bowl filled with cold water. Cut stem off 1 artichoke, leaving about 1”. Snap off outer 2 rows of leaves. Cut off top 1/3 of artichoke; quarter artichoke lengthwise. Using small knife cut out the choke (that hairy stuff inside the artichoke) and prickly small leaves. Place the artichoke in lemon water. Repeat with remaining artichokes.

Drain artichokes, add to pot & boil until crisp-tender, 8 – 15 minutes. Transfer artichokes to a rack and cool. This can be done 1 day ahead. Cover & refrigerate.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat if using a gas barbecue). Whisk oil, 1/3 cup lemon juice & mint in small bowl; season dressing to taste with salt & pepper. Brush artichokes with dressing. Grill until tender and lightly charred in spots, turning occasionally, about 8 minutes. (I thread the artichokes onto metal skewers to make it easier to turn). Transfer artichokes to a serving platter; drizzle with remaining dressing. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Grilled Mushroom And Onion Packages

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This makes a really good side dish for all sorts of meats as well as a delicious topping for grilled steaks; add a nice bottle of red vino & you’re good to go!

DSC_4046 nx2Makes 4 Servings

¾ lb. brown mushrooms, sliced
2 large onions, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. EVO, or a bit more
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dried)
**fresh thyme has such a sweet flavour, so if you can, do use it
½ tsp. salt, or to taste
¼ tsp. pepper

Toss together the mushrooms, onions, garlic, EVO, thyme, salt & pepper in a large bowl. Divide the mixture between two large pieces of heavy duty tin foil.

Place on the grill over medium heat & cook for approximately 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove from the grill, slit open the packages & place the mushrooms & onions onto a serving platter.

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Green Corn Tamale Casserole

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Known as Tamal de Elote en Cazuela in Mexico, I make this casserole quite often. It’s a really tasty dish to serve as part of a Mexican meal or with BBQ ribs, chicken or as a vegetarian main course with some Mexican beans and a salad. The salsa can be used for other things too!

DSC_2387 nx2Makes 4 Servings

1 (4 oz.) tin whole green chilies
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
3 cups fresh corn kernels or thawed frozen corn
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 tsp. sugar
½ to 1 tsp. salt
2 oz. each aged Cheddar & Monterey Jack cheese, grated

Tomato Salsa (recipe below** or purchased)

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter a 1 quart baking dish; set aside. Rinse the chilies & cut into wide strips. Combine the corn, cornmeal, butter, sugar & salt in a food processor & process until corn is fine. Layer half the mixture in the buttered baking dish. Top evenly with the chili strips. Cover with the cheeses; top with the remaining corn mixture. Cover the dish with foil; bake 1 hour.

Serve with the Salsa.

Tomato Salsa

2 ripe tomatoes, diced
2 to 3 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice, or more to taste
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, deveined & minced, or to taste
1 clove garlic, smashed (with the back of a chef’s knife) & pureed with a bit of salt
2 or 3 Tbsp. finely chopped red or white onion
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro

Combine all ingredients & allow to stand for an hour or so to blend flavours.

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Skillet New Potatoes

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The first time I made these, I was impressed, so easy but so darned good. I do have a thing for locally grown new potatoes available late spring & summer. Sometimes I  toss in a sprig of fresh rosemary with the other ingredients.

Makes 4 – 6 Servings

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. EVO
2 lbs. small new potatoes
2 large, unpeeled cloves garlic, or to taste
½ tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
(opt.) fresh rosemary

Garnish: chopped fresh parsley

Place all ingredients, except parsley, in a large heavy skillet. Cover & cook over low heat for approximately 20 – 30 minutes.  When cooked, place in a serving dish & garnish with the parsley.

You could also cook the potatoes in a covered pan on the barbecue grill, checking after 20 minutes.

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