Tomato-corn pie with grain-free crust

A thing I’ve had to truly mourn this year: Tomato Pie.

It’s like summer in a pie plate. Like someone sat down one day and wondered, How can I fit all of summer into this pie dish? And that is what was born. Garden tomatoes, basil, and really good cheese baked into a delicate pie crust.

However, sadly… there is no tomato pie for the grain-free. And while I hear that really good pie crusts can be made gluten-free, grain-free is an impossibility.

But I refuse to be doomed to a life without my own pie plate full of summer. Just had to think outside the box a bit.

I’ve long heard praises sung for this recipe for a Corn-Tomato Pie over at Smitten Kitchen. And while I still don’t believe it’s as good as the pure unadulterated tomato-ness of my classic, it’s still a darned good pie. A bit richer, with its lemony-mayo and layers of summer corn. And as luck would have it — very adaptable to a grain-free crust.

This pie was loved by all but two of my three children. Which in our household means a winner. I’ll be making it again, likely long after I’ve re-embraced grains in my life. It will just be added as a distant cousin to the first and favorite savory summer pie in my repertoire.

If you are still among the grain-consumptive, definitely check out the original recipe (I’ve made very minor changes to the filling in the version below), which utilizes a double-classic pie crust. Otherwise, there’s still time in these weeks before September 22nd for the grain-less among us to get our fill of sunshine on a plate.

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Zucchini-corn fritters (gluten-free)

I like petite zucchini. There’s just something about the scale of a giant summer squash that seems, I don’t know, wrong. I know it’s not wrong, that this is just some silly subconscious preconceived notion about what should be the limits of squash growth, something probably covered by Freud in one of his texts. But reasoning with myself on this does no good. I will fish out the little guys from the bin at the farmer’s market, loving them for their convenient circumference and polite volume of seeds.

But of course, I also won’t turn down a big specimen, not when offered one from a friend’s garden.

Which is what happened a few weeks ago — my in-laws came through town, and I was handed a large zucchini, fresh from their vegetable patch. I brought it home with gratitude, and within a few hours had it shredded down to the perfect amount for making up a batch of zucchini fritters. I had leftover grilled corn cobs in the fridge to use up, with the challenge of making this batch grain-free. The skillet was heating up as I was stripping the corn of its kernels.

I ended up using the fritters as a base for dinner — one that involved sautéed kale and an over-easy egg on top. But several inspirational recipes included dips of sour cream cut with a little lime juice and spiked with chopped chives, or creme fraiche (easy to make at home). The sweetness of the corn (with a smoky component if you use grilled) perked up the texture and flavor of my usual standby fritter. My kids rejected them outright, so that left me with about 10 fritters all to myself over the next day or two — which I had no problem consuming, they were that good.

Good, and able to clear my conscience of squash discrimination.

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For this recipe, it can help your knuckles if you have a food processor — this one is my favorite. You’ll also do well to have a good pre-seasoned cast-iron pan.

 

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This post was linked up to the Seasonal Recipe Roundup: Zucchini at GNOWFGLINS.

 

 

Honey-rosemary ice cream (dairy-free)

Remember my grain-free strawberry-rhubarb crisp from a couple weeks ago? The one that fooled people, in its grain-free-ness? Well, this is the ice cream that went on top. The ice cream that fooled people in its dairy-free-ness.

There was a lot of fooling going on that night.

I’m not just into culinary trickery for grits and shins — though it is all selfishly-motivated. I want to eat yummy desserts. And so I try my hardest to make them, using ingredients I can eat while on my wacky diet. Sometimes, it works out, and I actually make something amazingly delicious. Which of course I then want to hoard in a dark corner of my basement share.

I have no idea why this ice cream works so well — I’ve made other coconut-milk-based frozen concoctions that are good, but something about this one was simply near-perfect. Maybe it’s because the honey and rosemary don’t fight with the coconut, don’t try to overshadow it — they just dance with it. The texture is as creamy as you can get without including the milk from a cow.

It would go well over just about any fruit dessert — say, an Independence Day pie or fresh blueberry tart. Or, on its own, drizzled with a dark-chocolate sauce. How you eat it matters not — it only matters that you eat it.

Eat it, and tell me you are not fooled.

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Recipe: Honey-Rosemary Ice Cream (dairy-free, refined-sweetener-free))

: makes about 1 quart

If you don’t have coconut cream, you can use (1) 14-oz can plus one additional cup canned coconut milk. Use a full can in step 1, and the additional cup in step 4. If you use local, pastured eggs from a trusted source and prefer to use raw yolks, you can forgo heating the mixture to 165º in step 3 (simply heat the honey and milk until the honey dissolves, then whisk in your yolks).

Ingredients

  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup (1 8-oz box) unsweetened coconut cream (see note for substitution)
  • 1/2 cup mild honey
  • pinch salt
  • 6″ sprig fresh rosemary
  • 5 egg yolks (see note)

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the can of coconut milk with the honey and salt. Bring just to a simmer (do not allow to come to a full boil). Turn off heat, submerge the rosemary sprig into the milk, cover, and let steep for 30 minutes.
  2. Remove rosemary sprig (discard). Return saucepan to medium heat, and warm the milk until hot to the touch.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly ladle the hot milk into the egg yolks while continuously whisking (a towel placed underneath the bowl helps keep it from moving). Pour egg yolks and milk back into the saucepan, whisking, until combined. If using grocery-store eggs, heat the mixture until it reaches 165º on an instant-read thermometer.
  4. In a large bowl, pour the cup of coconut cream (or more coconut milk). Set a strainer on top of the bowl, and pour the hot milk & egg mixture through the strainer into the cream.
  5. Stir the mixture over an ice bath to cool. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill completely before freezing according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.

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This post was linked up to Simple Lives Thursday, via GNOWFGLINS.

An excuse to get out my mandoline

beetchips-rack

Oh I cannot wait for spring.

And lest your mind wander to the stereotypical images of gardening, mid-70s days and open windows: I’m really just ready for yard sales.

I developed a little tradition last summer. Late Friday night I’d check the paper and craigslist for area sales, and make a tentative list. My goal was to be at the earliest sale about 10 minutes before they opened — then I’d make my rounds, finally ending up at the Farmer’s Market mid-morning. By noon I was home with a Subaru’s worth of produce and treasures, ready for my eye-rolling oh-so-willing husband to help unload.

The thing about yard sales is that it’s almost impossible not to stereotype a sale depending on address — even though experience says the best deals and finds are often at unexpected places. One day last fall, toward the end of the sale season, I found one located just a few blocks from my house, on North Meridian Street.

If you’re not from Indianapolis: a good stretch of North Meridian (ahem, across a proverbial and invisible track from my block) is on the National Register of Historic Places. It holds stately, stone, turn-of-the-century mansions, heralding from they days when automobile money found its way to our city. Some of the homes are reminiscent of movie sets, surrounded by fountains, stately grounds, and lion-clad iron fences.

My kinda street to hit up a yard sale.

So I did — and as I perused linens and kitchenware that was no longer needed “at the condo,” I started a neat little pile of finds: a set of Riedel wine glasses, an All-Clad stainless griddle, and an OXO mandoline slicer. The griddle was marked $175 — and even after my best talking-down speech he wouldn’t budge (understandably, it’s a $350 griddle). So I walked away with the $1 wine glasses and the $5 mandoline — and though I likely tweeted and instagrammed those finds to a bloody pulp, I never forgot the griddle that got away.

Never satisfied, I am. It’s the blood of the thrifter.

A mandoline is, in my humble opinion, a somewhat frivolous tool. Excepting the fact that when you need one, nothing else will do — you just don’t need one that often. Case in point: I had still not used my $5 OXO even once after 6 months in my cabinet. On an afternoon of procrastination this week, I decided that must be remedied.

beetchips-mandoline

The challenge? Beet chips. Uniform slices are key, because otherwise these chips would be nearly impossible to cook evenly. This is a solid effort with just a small pile of reward — so save these for an afternoon when you’re bored, or needing to instead do laundry, or wanting to impress your dinner guests. A single large beet produced enough for 2 people, though I did eat them all.

Because I’ve gotta get every penny’s worth out of that five bucks.

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There are many recipes for beet chips available — this one from Martha Stewart gave me the idea of sandwiching baking sheets to keep the chips flat. The chips lighten as they cook — so dark red spots actually mean they are under-cooked — the chips will turn brown if they begin to overcook.

Recipe: Beet Chips

: one medium beet will yield 2 side servings

Ingredients

  • 2 medium beets, peeled and sliced 1/18″ thick on a mandoline slicer
  • 1 Tbsp olive or melted coconut oil
  • spices to taste: garlic powder, smoked paprika, chili powder, etc.
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350º and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, toss beets with olive oil.
  3. Add 1/4 tsp of each of your spices and salt, and toss with your hands to coat and separate beet slices (latex gloves will prevent pink hands). Taste a raw beet for seasoning, adding more to taste.
  4. Lay beets in a single layer on prepared sheet, and sandwich another sheet on top.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove top sheet, and rotate bottom sheet in oven. Bake another 8-12 minutes, or until beets are starting to turn pink.
  6. Cool beets on a rack, they will crisp as they cool.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.

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Kale & Grapefruit Salad

kale-grapefruit-salad

A friend told me about this salad early in the summer: I had a garden-full of beautiful kale, and was looking for new & interesting ways to eat it (my favorite way is to quickly pan-saute and drizzle with good balsamic vinegar). She mentioned that her mother had a raw kale salad with grapefruit at a restaurant, and that it was refreshing and delightful. I was a bit skeptical, as I’d never eaten a bowl full of raw kale leaves.

I lightening-fast found a recipe for exactly what she described (what? I wasn’t the first to know about this newfangled salad? what a shock to my kitchen ego). It was so simple, and while the heartiness of kale leaves might not appeal to the staunchly salad-wary, the grapefruit performs a wonderful balancing act of lending needed acidity and fruity texture.

As a bonus, it’s a salad that is coming into its season. Cooler weather brings citrus, and kale flourishes in the crisp fall air (I am told that I will be cutting kale out of the snow, come December).

This makes a perfect side to something heavy — I served it with a rich breakfast strata, and it was exactly what I craved next to a thick slice of eggs, cheese, cream, and bread. I even ate leftovers, straight from the container, for lunch the next day. Because leftover-lunch-from-the-fridge is how I roll.

The salad is made to eyeball, so that’s how I’m re-writing the original recipe.

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Recipe: Raw Kale & Grapefruit Salad

from this recipe at Elana’s Pantry

Ingredients

  • one bunch of kale (any variety)
  • olive oil, for drizzling
  • fresh-squeezed juice of 1 lime
  • good balsamic vinegar
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 grapefruit, peeled & cut into bite-sized wedges

Instructions

  1. Tear the leaves from the kale, and discard stems. Cut leaves into thin strips and transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Drizzle leaves with olive oil. Using your hands, massage the oil into the leaves to help soften.
  3. Add the juice of half a lime, and drizzle lightly with balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste.
  4. Add grapefruit to kale & toss.
  5. Let stand for 15 minutes or so before serving to allow kale to soften.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2011.

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On being a paranoid canner

Homemade Salsa (optional canning instructions) via KatySheCooks

Take my recent google search, after opening a jar of my first home-canned marinara sauce a couple weeks ago:
Can you taste botulism?”

Really. Google anything about home canning, and see if what you read doesn’t run a gamut between self-sustaining off-gridders praising a lost art of our grandparents and sterility-obsessed risk-avoiders who think home canning is akin to Russian Roulette. You can either find a recipe for canning that’s been used “by [so-and-so’s] grandmother and great-grandmother and they never got sick!,” or you can find the stats for people the CDC estimates die every year from eating contaminated home-canned foods. Take your pick which one you want to base your preserving decisions on.

I am not risk-averse. We drink raw milk in our household, which according to some forums should be punishable as child abuse. I will cut the mold off hard cheese and consume the rest of the block. I even eat a raw egg each day (because I know my egg farmer and know his chickens are healthy and happy!). All of these practices are considered riskier than eating sterilized food. But eating something that tastes fine and then ending up paralyzed was a scenario that — I’ll admit — kinda freaked me out.

The question mark looming over my marinara was that I used a water-bath canner, and failed to add extra acid to the tomatoes (in the form of citric acid powder or lemon juice). Since modern-day tomato varieties have been bred to be less acidic, they are sometimes not the right pH to be water-bath canned without some risk of bacteria growth. Botulism. You may not taste, see, or smell it. It does horrible things to people. Google told me about every single one of them.

So the answer for my head-full of doubt was to boil the heck out of it. Half an hour at a rapid boil in a covered saucepan should kill botulism. We all ate it, and have lived to tell about it.

But I don’t want to feel the need to do this every time I open a jar of home-canned tomatoes. I also don’t have a pressure canner, and am not ready to buy one. So I’ll be adding the safe-guarding citric acid to future jars, or just sticking to something safer, like tomato salsa.

Why is it safer? Because it has a ton of vinegar already in the recipe, making it safe for water-bath canning, keeping the sealed jars at a pH that inhibits bacteria growth. As a bonus, salsa has a higher jar yield from a starting quantity of fresh tomatoes than sauces. So to get 8 pint jars of salsa, I started with just 10 pounds of roma tomatoes. I like that math.

This is a classic tomato salsa, spiced with cumin and garlic, on a heat scale somewhere between medium and medium-hot. We are a family of heat wimps, so next time I make it I might use fewer jalapenos (I used a 1/2 cup for this batch). But other than that, for my first attempt at canning salsa, it was pretty near perfect.

Full of flavor, with nary a chance of bacteria-induced paralysis. That’s my kind of canned good.

This post was linked up to Simple Lives Thursday, via GNOWFGLINS.

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Recipe: Tomato Salsa (for canning)

Recipe adapted for quantity and ingredients from this recipe at Preserving Traditions. The adjustments made included decreasing the amount of pH-raising ingredients like onions and peppers, and the lemon juice was replaced with an equivalent (not equal, as more vinegar than lemon juice is required for safe acid levels) amount of apple cider vinegar (for those rightly concerned with the pH of the salsa for canning purposes).

: yields about 8 pints

Ingredients

  • 10 pounds roma tomatoes
  • 2 1/2 cups diced white onion (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup finely chopped jalapeno peppers (seeds and ribs removed)
  • 1/4 cup minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar (this is my favorite brand)
  • 4 tsp table salt
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Fill a very large stockpot with water, and bring to a boil. Have ready a large mixing bowl filled with ice water.
  2. Drop tomatoes into the boiling water, adding only as many as will float in a single layer. After 30 seconds, transfer tomatoes to ice water bath. Once cool, slip the skins off the tomatoes and discard. Repeat until all tomatoes are peeled.
  3. Seed the tomatoes by cutting in half along the equator. Squeeze each half gently to remove the seeds and extra juice (discard).
  4. Chop the peeled/seeded tomatoes into a dice, and add to a large stockpot over medium heat.
  5. Add remaining ingredients to tomatoes, stir well, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes, or longer for a thicker salsa.
  6. Ladle hot salsa into hot, sterilized canning jars. Water-bath process pints for 15 minutes. Let cool completely, and check seals. Store in a cool place for up to a year.

 

Tomato Salsa for Canning on Punk Domestics

King candy corn

corn-salad

In his Yellow Farmhouse Cookbook, Christopher Kimball writes of corn:

Although the supersweet hybrids are all the rage, I find that they lack the depth of flavor that I associate with older varieties. Last summer I planted a hybrid called Bodacious and it was extraordinarily sweet and light, but it was a bit like cotton candy; it melted in the mouth leaving a sweet but slightly unpleasant aftertaste. By comparing sugar levels, I realized that the new hybrids areally are much sweeter. Old-fasioned “sweet” corn has 5 to 10 percent sugar, “sugar-enhanced” corn is 15 to 18 percent, and “supersweet” is 25 to 30 percent. …[I am] abandoning the supersweets entirely.*

I’m not quite sure I’ve ever tasted corn of an older variety — anything other than supersweet (or, more likely, if I came across it sometime in the 1980s, the memory was erased by years of hairspray abuse). These days the ears we buy at the farmer’s market are no doubt supersweets — and yes, they are reminiscent of candy. Which means that when we cook them, we must balance out all that sweet with a heavy dose of salt or acid.

Our favorite ways to eat candy-sweet corn are either grilled or in a fresh corn salad. The former is easy if you’re grilling other things as well — but to get some caramelization you need a very hot grill, so plan to put your ears on first. Simply rub husked corn with a good dose of extra-virgin olive oil, and sprinkle generously with salt. Place ears directly on a very hot grill, turning often with tongs, until some black spots appear on the kernels. Let cool on a plate while you grill the rest of dinner, and then serve alongside — they need nothing else (in the photo, the ears have also been rubbed with Old Bay seasoning, a favorite of the Wine Benefactor [slash] Grill Master).

grilled-corn

When the grill isn’t hot, or when you’re taking a side dish to a cookout, the corn salad recipe below (from Ina Garten) is ideal. A perfect side for almost any grilled protein, it has sweet, salt, and acid all at once. Fresh basil tossed in at the end makes this dish fresh and classic enough to take to just about every event of the summer where you can’t show up empty-handed. Bringing the grand total to TWO of Possible Dishes Katy Will Bring If You Invite Her To Your Cookout.

Don’t be shy about making the salad your own. A handful of this or that, fresh from the garden (I’ve added radishes and red peppers, and currently wonder what an avocado might do) is always welcome. Supersweet corn, it turns out, was bred for hospitality.

Recipe: Corn Salad

: From this recipe by Ina Garten

Ingredients

  • 5-6 ears fresh corn, husked
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt (plus more for cooking water)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • handful fresh basil, cut into strips

Instructions

  1. Bring a very large pot of water to a boil. Add 2-3 tsp salt, and the ears of corn. Boil for just 3 minutes, then remove ears to a large bowl of ice water (this retards cooking, important for retaining firmness).
  2. After corn has cooled, dry lightly on a towel. To remove the kernels, stand an ear on end inside a large bowl. Using a chef’s knife, cut down the sides of the ear, as close to the cob as possible. Repeat until all kernels are removed from cobs.
  3. To the bowl of corn, add onion, olive oil, vinegar, salt & pepper. Toss to coat. (To make ahead, complete through this step and refrigerate up to a few hours.)
  4. Just before serving, stir in basil.

Number of servings (yield): 6-8

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*Kimball, Christopher. The Yellow Farmhouse Cookbook, p. 181