Recipes for My Brother-In-Law

My Sister broke her foot last week. If you know my Sis, it is hard to imagine her sitting still allowing people to help her as she is usually on the go and in her spare time, can often be found helping women deliver babies on the side of the road, rescuing battered women from gas stations, or saving neglected pups from an unforeseen doom at any given moment. My brother-in-law is a good cook but I thought he could use some more suggestions for quick and easy dinner recipes especially now. So, this post is for him. Meanwhile, we’ll try to help out a few more people in need while she is relegated to the sofa and hobbling around on one foot so the world won’t get too out of balance.

My favorite recipe of last week was a Summer Seafood Cioppino. We went to Margot for our 8th Wedding Anniversary dinner a couple weeks ago and I had a similar dish there and I guess this dish was inspired mostly by that meal. It seemed a good way to use more of the tomatoes from our garden, as well. I bought three different pieces of fish- talapia, cod, and grouper. I chopped up all the veggies and the fish and then let Grant throw it all together and cook it to perfection! Grant is a super great cook. He started cooking as a kid, with his Mom, as a way to get out of cleaning (haha!), and then in college he cooked at a sorority house for his part time job. He’s much faster and more skilled than I but we make a good team as I love coming up with the ideas and shopping for the food and preparing the ingredients. Anyway, back to the Cioppino…

We used chopped vidalia onion, sliced green pepper from the garden, a variety of chopped tomatoes from the garden, 3-4 cloves of garlic thinly sliced, thinly sliced yellow squash, and chopped flat leaf parsley. Also good to have on hand- crusty bread, some aged gouda (Reypanaer 2 year old is my current favorite!) and some dry white wine.

Grant sauteed up the onion in a little olive oil and then added the garlic, squash, and pepper. He then dredged the fish pieces in a little flour mixed with sea salt, garlic powder, chili powder, black pepper, smoky paprika, a little saffron, and thyme and placed it in the same pan. He sauteed that up and then added the tomatoes, some dry white wine, some chicken stock (fish stock would have been ideal), and then simmered. He added in the fresh parsley at the end.

We served it with some steamed asparagus!

It was so delicious, fresh and summery with the use of fresh tomatoes and much lighter  than the winter NW Cioppino version we are accustomed to. Also, the addition of squash gave it a Southern vibe. Leftovers made for a perfect lunch the next day. We just mixed the leftover asparagus right in!

I have to write about pesto again, too- not because it is something I truly love or can’t get enough of, but simply a good way to use up all of my fresh herbs from the garden. (Special note to said Brother-In-Law: you don’t have to use any of those foods y’all can’t eat to make pesto. You can keep it really simple and just use herbs, garlic, sea salt, black pepper and olive oil blended together. You can also add some good Parmesan Reggiano if desired. Maybe you already do that?) So, I’ve been trying my darnedest to come up with more uses for pesto so as to not waste all of that which I made so as to not waste all those beautiful herbs! Here are a few ways we have come up with (I have already posted some of these ideas but wanted to form a more concise thought on this and have them all together):

Pesto makes a wonderful salad dressing base to which you can add a little balsamic or lemon, sugar, and a tab bit more olive oil to:

Use it on toast for an appetizer or lunch, on sandwiches, or on homemade pizzas.

Use it on top of grilled chicken, pork, or fish.

Blend it in to pasta or rice.

Slather pesto over roasted or grilled veggies!

Or blend it into eggs…

Which brings me to breakfast. We were reminded this weekend that breakfast makes a great dinner, too! Here’s our newest pancake recipe- Blueberry Corn Cakes! This recipe is based on the recipe Grant uses for his buttermilk pancakes which he got from Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock’s cookbook, The Gift of Southern Cooking, which Bray gave us years back. This is one of our favorite go-to cookbooks. We have found so many yummy recipes here. I often get the ideas here and then try to make them a little healthier.

Blueberry Corn Cakes

1/2 cup fine corn meal
1/2 all purpose flour (White Lily)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda (Bob’s Red Mill)
1 egg
3 tbsp melted butter (organic, unsalted)
1 1/4  cup buttermilk (up to 1 1/2 cup, you can adjust for consistency)
fresh blueberries

Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl, give it a quick whisk. Combine the buttermilk and egg in another bowl with a whisk. Slowly whisk in the melted butter into the buttermilk and egg bowl. Mix the wet and dry ingredient together just briefly, until well blended. Do not over mix. Heat large skillet or griddle over medium heat and grease very lightly with a little butter. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of batter for each pancake and then drop 10-12 blueberries in each one. Cook until bubbles appear on top. Flip the pancakes and cook for 30 seconds longer.
Serve hot with butter and maple syrup!

We used stone ground corn meal we bought at the same little mill in Virginia where we found those yummy grits!

We’ve still been able to get local, organic blueberries and they have become a staple for us! My favorite way to eat them (besides just popping them in my mouth!) is to mix them with some plain Greek style yogurt.

And, one final easy dinner recipe for my Brother-In-Law that Grant came up with… Bratwurst Sandwiches. These are man sandwiches but ladies like them, too!

The main fancy ingredient was the special roasted tomato jam he made to put on them which was so amazing, you really can make any kind of sandwich and put this magical ingredient on top and be completely satisfied!

He sauteed up some red onions with the brats…

Here’s the recipe…

Big Smokey’s Fancy Bratwurst Sandwiches

Roasted Tomato Jam:
8 small golden roma tomatoes from the garden, roasted with a little olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp organic cane sugar
Sea salt
Black pepper
Garlic powder

Red onion, sauteed in a little olive oil
Bratwursts
Sauerkraut
Provolone cheese
Sandwich buns

And the final sandwich looked like this:

Happy cooking!

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Me Oh My Oh…

It’s ‘Mater season! Tennessee is having an extremely hot summer so our yield is lower than normal and many are splitting but the ones we are lucky to get are super tasty this year! Oh, and the basil and sage are rockin’! So, I try to incorporate those ingredients whenever possible.

I made a tomato veggie quiche one morning, cheddar sage biscuits with fresh tomato slices another morning and we’ve been tearing fresh basil up and adding it to our salads as we did above, served with grilled salmon and homemade croutons.

Here’s my biscuit recipe:

Cheddar Sage Biscuits

2 cups White Lily self-rising flour
an extra tsp baking soda
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter
2/3-3/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup grated sharp cheddar
a bunch of fresh sage, chopped
freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 500 degrees. Combine flour and baking soda in a bowl. Cut butter into pieces and add to bowl. Mix with hands gently until the butter is in crumbs the size of peas. Add the cheese and sage. Blend in buttermilk and gently mix in but do not over mix. Turn dough onto floured surface. Knead gently 2-3 times. Roll dough to 1/2″ thickness. Grind pepper over dough. Cut using a biscuit cutter. Place on cookie sheet. Bake 6-8 minutes or until golden on tops.

Speaking of pesto, Grant and I both get a little bored with it so I tried to make it a little different. I used basil, spinach, garlic cloves, parmesan reggiano, salt pepper, olive oil, and toasted South Carolina pecans.  We tried coming up with some different ways to use it since we had so much. We made pesto toasts a few time which turned out to be a lovely and delicious appetizer or accompaniment to an antipasto plate. We also made a simple dish of cappellini pasta, pesto, and tomatoes from the garden with parmesan reggiano shaved on top. Another good use of pesto is mixing some in with rice for a nice side dish.

And, my favorite beverage lately is, basil lemonade! It is so delicious and very thirst quenching.

This month’s been busy- Grant’s had lots of gigage and a new job, we had a fun family visit and my Birthday! Grant made me a delicious Birthday breakfast casserole and instead of cake, homemade peanut ice cream!!! It was so delicious. Below, is the recipe. The next day, our friend Kristin brought over homemade Crawfish Pie (Me Oh My Oh!) which was amazing. Food is always a good gift.

Peanut Butter Swirl Ice Cream

This recipe is based on one in Bruce Weinstein’s The Ice Cream Book (William Morrow and Company, 1999) and we found it in Saveur, issue #86.

1 cup milk
3⁄4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup smooth natural peanut butter
1 1⁄2 cups heavy cream
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup salted, roasted, shelled peanuts, chopped

1. Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until just hot. Meanwhile, beat sugar and eggs together in a medium bowl until thick and pale yellow.

2. Gradually whisk hot milk into egg mixture in bowl, then pour milk–egg mixture into saucepan. Return saucepan to medium-low heat and cook custard, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, about 5 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and stir in 1⁄2 cup of the peanut butter. Strain custard into a large bowl, let cool briefly, stirring often, then stir in cream and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until cold, 6–8 hours.

3. Process mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions, adding 1⁄2 cup of the chopped nuts to the ice cream 30 seconds before it has finished churning. Transfer to a bowl, quickly swirl in remaining 1⁄2 cup peanut butter, cover, and freeze until hard. Serve ice cream sprinkled with the remaining 1⁄2 cup nuts.

Also from one of our Saveur magazines, I made a Sofrito. I was trying to find a good use of all the peppers that we have from our garden. The recipe says this is traditionally used as a base for soups or sauces. We sauteed some chicken and onions and topped those with some of the Sofrito and served it with pesto rice and a salad for a completely green themed meal! The flavors were really nice together. We enjoyed this meal listening to a new cd Kristin brought over for us by a young Irish fellow, Garreth Dunlop. Check him out!

Sofrito

1⁄4 lb. aji dulce chiles or Italian frying peppers,
stemmed, seeded, and roughly chopped
8 sprigs cilantro
6 leaves flat-leaf parsley
1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded,
and chopped
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp. vegetable oil

1. Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and purée, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, until a semicoarse paste forms, about 1 minute. Refrigerate the sofrito for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.

For my Birthday, we went in search of South Carolina peaches as those are the very best! Luckily, we didn’t have to travel far. We bought a big basket at the Nashville Farmer’s Market. Pies of the last couple of weeks were- peach and blueberry, peach with pecan crumble top, blueberry with crumble top, and a plum custard. Our friends Catherine and Aaron just gave us a couple of bags of figs from their yard with the assignment to come up with a fig pie recipe! I’m excited to work on that.

I’ll end with a photo of my favorite summer wine which we like to get at our favorite neighborhood wine store, Woodland Wine Merchants. (They have an awesome website, check it out!!!) This wine is affordable, delicious and very food friendly.