Cooking

Memories of Dad

One of my favorite memories of my Dad, involved a very special breakfast. It was a breakfast only he and I shared.

Every summer, there was a park we would go to for family picnics. It was called Pine Way Trails. It has long ago been sold and the land developed.

The place would get very crowded, so we had to go early to get a prime location by the lake, and enough picnic tables for everyone. My Dad and I would go before anyone else.

Back then, it made me feel so special to go and to help. I am guessing it was because I was the baby, and no one else wanted to get up so early.

Dad and I would get there just as Pine Way Trails opened. The mist would still be rising off the lake. I’d help him unpack the car and place  stuff on the tables we were claiming for the day. We would move them together and make sure they were level. Dad didn’t want wobbly tables.

Then, he’d get a fire started in one of the grills. He always brought his cast iron skillet. Over the fire, he’d cook us bacon and then cook a couple of eggs. Dad had his thermos of coffee, and I had orange juice.

On paper plates we’d sit and enjoy our breakfast together. I don’t think, as a kid, I really appreciated the skill it took to get that fire just right. The bacon was crisp, but never burnt and the eggs would be sunny side up- with the yolks warm, yet runny. I’d use my bacon to get the last of the yolk off my plate.

Later in the day, everyone else would arrive. My mom, sister and brother, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends. We’d have a wonderful day together swimming and fishing and eating grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, chicken and salads and fresh melon. It was noisy and so much fun.

That special part of the day for me, was the breakfast my Father and I shared, quietly by the lake.

I got out the cast iron skillet this morning- cooked some bacon and eggs and thought of him.

Honey-Pomegranate Glazed Ribs

Honey-Pomegranate Glazed Ribs

I like my ribs to be fall off the bone tender, but still have a crispy exterior glaze. I decided to use a combination of moist and dry heat to get the result I wanted. I finished them off with a sauce made from pomegranate molasses and honey. They were really good.

While I prefer cooking ribs on the grill, you can cook them indoors with good results. Sometimes the weather isn’t right for cooking them outside. Sometimes, you realize too late, that you are out of charcoal. With so many rainy days lately, you might be forced to cook your ribs indoors.

Honey-Pomegranate Glazed Ribs

1 slab ribs, cut into 3-4 rib portions

salt and pepper

1 c. apple cider vinegar

2 T. soy sauce

1 T. hot sauce

1 t. garlic powder

1 t. smoked paprika

Glaze:

3/4 c. pomegranate molasses*

1/2 c. honey- or more to taste

1 T. hot sauce, or more to taste

Place rib portions in a large pan and season with salt and pepper. Pour over the vinegar, soy sauce, hot sauce, garlic powder and smoked paprika. Cover and chill for a couple of hours. You could even do this the night before. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place rack in large baking dish. Pour 2 cups of water into the bottom of the pan. Place rib portions on the rack. Pour over the marinade. Season with salt and pepper then place in the oven and bake for 1 hour. Turn heat down to 400 degrees.  Remove ribs from oven. Place ribs in a fresh baking pan. Combine glaze ingredients and brush all over the ribs. Return to oven and bake 20-30 minutes longer, or until glaze has gotten sticky and browned a little.

*Pomegranate molasses is available in some specialty stores, or you can make your own by boiling down pomegranate juice until it gets thickened.

Lemon and Sour Cream Cupcakes

Lemon and Sour Cream Cupcake

I love the lemon flavor in these cupcakes. They are rich, without being too heavy.

Lemon zest in both the batter and the frosting, really makes them special. Cupcakes are such a nice, easy dessert. If you try these, I am sure you will be pleased, as will your family and friends. These could be a nice dessert for Fathers’ Day.

It makes a big batch, so you can freeze some for later.

Even though I normally frost these, you can also just combine powdered sugar with a little lemon zest and dust them with it, instead of the frosting.

Lemon and Sour Cream Cupcakes

1 cup butter, softened

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon each baking powder and salt

2 cups sour cream

Frosting:

9 tablespoons butter, softened

6 ¾ cups confectioners’ sugar

6 tablespoons lemon juice

1 T. vanilla extract

¾ teaspoon grated lemon peel

3 tablespoon milk

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add lemon peel and vanilla; mix well. Combine dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream (batter will be thick). Fill 30 greased or paper-lined muffin cups with 1/4 cup of batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. For frosting, cream butter and sugar in a small mixing bowl. Add lemon juice, vanilla, lemon peel and milk; beat until smooth. Frost cupcakes. Makes 30.

Bacon Waffles for Dad

Bacon Waffles

If you are looking for a special breakfast for Father’s Day, maybe dad would like some waffles. Even better, make him waffles with bacon inside them. Then serve your bacon waffles with extra bacon on the side!!!

For me, breakfast doesn’t get much better than waffles. Well, unless maybe you add bacon to the waffle batter.

Truth is, I don’t treat myself to waffles all that often, but if I am going to eat waffles, I go all out.

These are truly wonderful waffles. Light, crispy on the outside and studded with bacon. A drizzle of  warm maple syrup and you are good to go.

So, if you are looking for a special treat for dad for breakfast, or lunch, or dinner or a snack… try these bacon waffles. You can thank me later.

Bacon Waffles

1 pound sliced bacon
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, separated
1½ cups milk
¼ cup butter, melted
In a skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Drain; crumble and set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Beat egg yolks, milk and butter; stir into dry ingredients until smooth. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; fold into batter. Add bacon. Before making each waffle, stir batter. Bake in a preheated waffle iron according to manufacturer’s directions until golden brown.

Sweet Potato Salad

Sweet Potato Salad

I thought I would post one of my favorite salad recipes. We made it in class last night and everyone liked it a lot. This sweet potato salad is always a hit. It goes so well with grilled foods, too. I always make a double batch – it goes fast. The tricky part is not to overcook the sweet potatoes. They cook fast.  Keep an eye on them and get the potatoes into cold water to stop the cooking once they are tender.

Sweet Potato Salad

 3 large sweet potatoes

2 c. corn kernels, fresh off the cob preferred but frozen is O.K.

2 ribs celery, sliced

1 sweet onion, diced

1 c. sweet pepper, seeded and chopped

2-3 T. fresh parsley

1/3 c.  oil

1 t. Dijon mustard

3 T. apple cider vinegar

1 T. lemon juice

1 clove garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

½ c. roasted peanuts

You have several options in how to cook the sweet potatoes. I like to bake them whole in the microwave. I also like to cook the corn in the microwave. You can also cut the potatoes into large pieces and boil or steam until just tender. Corn can be boiled, grilled or steamed. No matter what method you choose to cook the veggies, place in ice water bath to cool down quickly after they are cooked. This will save you time and help the sweet potatoes to firm up. Once the vegetables have cooled down drain them and peel and cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Place potatoes and corn in a mixing bowl with remaining vegetables. Combine remaining ingredients, except peanuts,  in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake well before pouring over the sweet potato mixture. Toss to blend and chill until ready to serve.  Add nuts just before serving. Serves 6.

Garlic Scapes Hummus

Garlic Scapes Hummus

Around here, garlic scapes are in season and being eaten a lot. I find myself cooking with them in everything I can. Everyone seems to be talking about scapes and looking for new ways to use them. There is even a word for it – scorpacciata.

Scorpacciata is an Italian word that means consuming large amounts of a particular local ingredient while it’s in season.

Scapes, if you didn’t know, are the tops of hard-neck variety garlic. They are cut off this time to year- to help the plants produce larger heads. They curl as they grow. You should be able to find them at your local farm market. They can be eaten raw or cooked. They can be a little woody when raw.

This time, I steamed the scapes, and added them to my hummus. The end result was really good. The scapes replaced the garlic cloves, adding their own personality to the dish. I switched the dish up a little more, by using avocado oil, instead of the traditional olive oil.

So here is one more recipe to use those lovely, seasonal garlic scapes.

Garlic Scapes Hummus

1 can garbanzo beans, drained- I used a one pint jar of home canned

½ c. chopped garlic scapes- 1 or 2 garlic scapes- steamed 5 minutes and chopped

¼ c. olive oil or avocado oil

2 T. lemon juice – about 1 lemon

2 T. tahini (sesame seed paste)

salt and hot pepper sauce to taste

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. Adjust seasonings. Chill. Serve with pita bread, crackers or fresh vegetables. Also nice spread in a pita bread with sliced tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce. Freezes well.

Cooking with Garlic Scapes

Garlic Scapes

If you have never had garlic scapes, you don’t know what you are missing. Garlic scapes are the green shoots removed from hard-neck varieties of garlic. By removing the shoots, the bulbs will get bigger. So farmers and gardeners remove them.  Garlic scapes curl as they grow, and are good served raw, or barely cooked. They are showing up at farm markets around here right now.

When cooked, the flavor mellows a lot. I love to steam garlic scapes for about 5 minutes, then just eat like fresh green beans, with butter and salt. I steamed a bunch of scapes the other day- then chopped them up and added to potato salad. So tasty!!

They have a rich, garlic flavor that is all the sweeter because of the short time they are around. Enjoy them when you can- they will be gone soon.

I sometimes use scapes in place of basil, in my pesto recipe, or combine them with parsley in a garlic scapes-parsley pesto. You can also combine the garlic scapes with cottage cheese in the blender- add a little lemon juice and hot sauce for a tasty dip. Here are some more recipes for cooking with garlic scapes.

Garlic Scapes Potato Salad

Garlic Scapes Potato Salad

4-5  garlic scapes

2 lbs. red skinned potatoes*

½ cup minced sweet pepper

½ c. olive oil

½ c. apple cider vinegar

2 T. sugar

2 T. chopped parsley

2 t. fresh dill weed

Salt and pepper to taste

Hot sauce to taste

Steam the scapes for 5 minutes. Cool a little, and cut into ¾ -inch slices. You should end up with about 1½ of sliced scapes when done. Place in a medium bowl. Cook potatoes until tender. I baked mine in a microwave until tender and then cut into cubes. Baking them is also a nice way to cook the potatoes. You can also opt to cut into cubes first and boil the potatoes. Whatever method to cook the potatoes is fine with me. Take the potatoes, while still warm, and place in the bowl with the scapes. Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a small bowl and stir until sugar dissolves. Pour over warm potato mix, tossing to coat evenly. Adjust seasonings. Chill and serve. Serves 6-8.

* You can really use any potato you like.

Garlic Scape Pesto Sauce

1 c. chopped scapes – you can also use half scapes, half parsley
1/4 c. olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic
Salt to taste
1/2 c. pine nuts, sunflower seeds, pecans or walnuts
1 c. fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Combine all ingredients, except the cheese, in a blender and mix until smooth. Stir in the cheese and toss over hot, cooked pasta or use as a sauce on meat and poultry. Sauce will keep a few days in the fridge and makes about 1 1/2 cups, enough for 1 lb. of cooked pasta.

Lebanese Garlic Sauce

1/2 c. chopped garlic scapes

1 cup lemon juice

1 teaspoon salt

3 cups olive oil

In the container of a blender, combine the garlic scapes, lemon juice and salt. Blend at medium speed until smooth. Continue blending while pouring olive oil into the blender in a thin stream. The mixture should become thick and white almost like mayo. Store refrigerated in a glass container.  Nice on hot pasta, cooked rice or grains or brushed on meats while cooking. It also is a great salad dressing.

Garlic Scapes with  Broccoli

1 c. chopped garlic scapes

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets, steamed 5 minutes, cooled

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, or to taste

Place garlic scapes in a food processor with the salt and blend into a paste. Add olive oil, vinegar, and mustard.  Pulse until smooth.  Place garlic scapes mixture in a bowl and add the broccoli.  Stir to coat. Chill for 3 hours to marinate, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese before serving. Tastes even better the next day!!!

Candied Bacon

Candied Bacon

This candied bacon only has three ingredients- bacon, maple syrup and chopped nuts. The combination in sublime. Salty, sweet, smoky all in one crunchy bite. Friends and family love it!! This might be fun to make for Dad for Fathers’ Day.

The bacon is baked, then coated with maple syrup and chopped nuts. It is returned to the oven, where it bakes until the bacon is crisp and the coating it toasted, almost caramelized. It gets crisper once it cools down.

You can make a spicier version by sprinkling with a little cayenne pepper or adding hot sauce to the maple syrup.

Candied Bacon

1 lb bacon
3/4 c – 1 c maple syrup
3/4 c – 1 c crushed pecans (or any nuts you like! I like to leave some
larger pieces and then mix in some more finely ground)

Preheat oven to 350. Put bacon in baking pan and bake about halfway through (about 5-7 minutes or so). Drain most of the grease and allow to cool slightly. Coat each piece in syrup, roll in nuts and put back on pan. You may need more nuts as you go along, though it’s up to you how much to cover them. Bake another 7-9 minutes, until desired crispness. If you do like crisper bacon, just be sure to move the cooked bacon quickly off the baking sheet onto parchment paper, since the syrup will harden. Allow longer cooking times with thicker bacon.

French Sorrel

Fresh Sorrel

Sorrel is also known as French sorrel and garden sorrel. It’s a member of the dock family and its less cultivated relatives can be harvested in most any field. The sorrel grown in herb gardens produces larger leaves, and is milder in flavor, than its wild cousins. French sorrel produces large, pointed leaves on 6″ stems. When in flower, the plant sends up flower stalks that can reach more than 3′ in height.

Sorrel is a hardy perennial and will produce tasty leaves for many years, once established. It prefers full sun and well-drained soil. The leaves have a sour, almost lemony flavor that is used in dishes like sorrel soup. The lemony/sour flavor makes sorrel a natural match for seafood.

Young leaves can also be served raw in salads. To encourage new, tender growth sorrel can be cut back to the soil line. New leaves will start to grow soon after cutting back. Young sorrel leaves can be added to soups and sauces, egg or pasta dishes. Because sorrel leaves are high in oxalic acid, they should be eaten in moderation. Or, the leaves can be blanched and rinsed to reduce the oxalic acid.

Sorrel can be started from seed, either indoors or directly sown in the garden. You can also buy plants at garden centers that carry herbs. It can be hard to find plants in some areas.

When I was a kid, my Busha (Polish grandmother) would make sorrel soup from wild sorrel. I remember harvesting the tiny leaves in a field. She needed a brown paper grocery bag full for a batch of soup. You can imagine how delighted I was to discover that there was a domestic version I could grow at home- with much larger leaves.

Here are some of my favorite recipes using sorrel.

Sorrel Soup

2 medium onions, chopped

2 T. oil

2 lbs. potatoes. Peeled and cubed

1 rib celery, sliced

1 qt. chicken or vegetable stock

1 qt. milk

1/3 –1/2 c. flour

1 lb. Sorrel leaves, washed and spun dry, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

In soup pot sauté onions in oil until tender. Add vegetables, stock and 3 cups of the milk. Simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. In a container with a tight fitting lid place the flour with the remaining milk and shake until mixture is smooth. Pour into hot soup and simmer 3-4 minutes. Use more or less flour depending on how thick you like your soup. Toss in sorrel, adjust seasonings and serve. Garnish with snipped chives, if desired. Serves 6-8.

Sorrel Pesto

1 c. tightly-packed sorrel leaves

½ c. olive oil

3 – 4 cloves garlic

salt to taste

½ c. pine nuts, sunflower kernels, pecans or walnuts, toasted preferred

1 c. fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Hot sauced to taste

Combine all ingredients in blender or food processor until smooth. Adjust seasonings.  Use with chicken or fish. Sorrel Pesto is also good on potatoes, or tossed in a spinach salad with some wine vinegar. Great on grilled vegetables, too!

Sorrel Sauce

½ c. mayo

½ c. sour cream or Greek yogurt

½ c. fresh chopped sorrel leaves

2 T. minced green onion

1 T. chopped fresh parsley

2 t. fresh lemon or lime juice

salt and pepper to taste

dash red hot pepper sauce

This sauce is good with fish and chicken or on baked potatoes. You can also use it as a dip with veggies.

Peach Scones

Fresh Peach Scones

I’ve really been in the mood to make scones lately. Since I had some beautiful peaches, I decided to use them in the batter.

They worked out even better than I had hoped. I added cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves into the dough, for a little extra flavor. Nicely complimented the sweetness of the peaches.

These are wonderful for breakfast, brunch or with tea or coffee. They would also make a nice base for shortcake. I could see them with berries and whipped cream for a perfect summer dessert.

I used a 2 oz. cookie scoop and got 25 scones. You could make them bigger, just increase the baking time a couple of minutes. I also placed only one baking sheet in the oven at a time. You could put both in at once, but reverse the rack you have them on- half way through baking- so they bake more evenly. Also, if both trays are in the oven at once, increase baking time a couple of minutes.

Peach Scones

3 cups flour

½ c. sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 t. cinnamon

1 t. nutmeg

Pinch of cloves

½ t. salt

10 T. cold butter (1 stick plus two tablespoons)

¾ c. half and half or milk

1 egg

1½ t. vanilla

1½ c. peeled, chopped peaches – about 3-4 peaches

Glaze:

2 c. powdered sugar

About 2-3 T. half and half

1 t. vanilla

Preheat oven to 425. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, or use silicone liners. In a bowl, place the dry ingredients and stir to mix. Cut in butter to resemble coarse crumbs.  Make a well in the center and stir in half and half, vanilla and egg. Stir to make a soft dough. Fold in peaches.  Use ice cream scoop to make scones, placing scoops of dough onto baking sheets.  Bake until browned – 14-16 minutes. Cool on a rack. Make glaze and dip tops of scones in glaze  or drizzle it over them.  Makes  22-25 depending on size.

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