Thursday, July 21, 2011

of sprouts and slow roast tomatoes

I love my little occasional window garden of sprouts.  And I love using sprouts to flavor stir-fries, salads, tacos, pho bo and other soups, sandwiches, all sorts of yummy things to eat.  I learned this technique on Honest Fare, and here is the post, with some pretty pictures.  Beware of growing too many - the first time I did this, I used half a bag of lentils and I had more sprouts than I could eat (my mother warned me...). This time, I probably did 1/3 of a cup in a wide-mouth pint Mason jar. My plans are to start more as I begin to eat one batch, and have a fresh supply on hand at all times.

Windowsill Sprouts

You'll need a clean clear glass jar, cheesecloth, a jar ring or rubber band, and some kind of dried bean that you want to sprout.  I've only used lentils so far and they are tasty.

Rinse 1/3 cup of lentils and inspect for stones or bad seeds.  Place in a bowl and cover with cool water overnight. The next day, rinse the lentils and put in the jar. Cover the jar with a layer of cheesecloth cut to fit over the top, and secure with a jar ring or rubber band. Place in a sunny spot (I haven't done it in direct sun, though - a bright place on the counter or windowsill out of direct sun is fine).

For the next 6 or 7 days or so, morning and evening, rinse the lentils through the cheesecloth with cool water. Be sure to drain all the water out each time so they won't be soaking in water all the time. You'll see sprouts begin to form, and fill the jar. They are ready to eat when the leaves begin to open.  Remove them from the jar, rinse in cold water, and spread out on paper towels to drain for a bit.

Store in an airtight container lined with paper towels. They should keep in the fridge for about a week.

(I left the pictured sprouts in the jar for 2 or 3 days more, and it was filled to the top with larger, opening green leaves. You'll know when they're ready.)

When my brother shared a huge mob of cherry tomatoes with me recently, we just weren't eating them fast enough and I needed to find something to do with them. I made a recipe of fresh salsa, but we still had a good many little maters.  Google to the rescue, I found an easy recipe and slow roasted them in the oven. I was amazed at the flavor these chewy little rubies packed inside. I've mostly enjoyed them on salads, but I think tonight, it's time to give them a try on a homemade veggie pizza. :)

Oven-dried Cherry Tomatoes
(please note - these will not be completely dry using this recipe, so do not store them for long periods of time. A couple of weeks in the fridge, or a month or so in the freezer should be fine)

cherry tomatoes, washed, destemmed, and cut in half
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
dried basil leaves

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit a cookie sheet or broiler pan. Place the halved tomatoes, cut side up, in a single layer on the parchment paper. Sprinkle the salt, pepper, and basil over the top evenly. Bake for 3 hours (4 hours if you have big tomatoes). Let cool before storing in an airtight freezer bag or plastic container. Use over salads, in soups, on pizza, or even as a chewy snack.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Asparagus Tart

This is a wonderful recipe I originally found on Not Without Salt. I've also added thin sliced tomatoes to this underneath the asparagus, and that was wonderful too.  The recipe here is just a tad different in preparation and in a couple of ingredients; if you want the original, you can find it here.

Asparagus Tart

about a pound of fresh asparagus spears, snapped to remove tough ends
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 package (1 sheet or piece) of puff pastry, thawed
1/4 cup cream cheese (or Mascarpone, if you have it), softened
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 large clove garlic, minced
red pepper flakes, to taste (a good pinch or so)
½ cup pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
shavings of parmesan cheese, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

Pre-heat your oven to 420 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the puff pastry on it. Roll the pastry longways to measure about 8x12. If you have to prep ingredients now, cover the pastry with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator until ready to assemble the tart.

Preheat a grill pan on the stove.  While that heats, put the asparagus in a large bowl and drizzle the olive oil over it, tossing to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill the asparagus about 2-3 minutes on each side, then remove to a rack or place on paper towels. Set aside.

In a bowl, combine cream cheese, cream, garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt & pepper. Retrieve the puff pastry and spread the cream cheese mixture over the pastry, leaving about a 3/4 inch border.  Place the asparagus spears in a single row over the cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle with salt & pepper if needed, and bake for 20 minutes. Lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes. Remove from oven, place the parmesan shavings over the top, and put back in the oven for 1 minute. Remove from oven, sprinkle with pecans, and serve hot.

Delish. :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Though I really am in love with lemons and lavender, it seems fitting that I start off this new blog with a recipe that includes my first love - chocolate. :)

I got this from my desperate mother - desperate to find tasty ways to use up the plethora of zucchini and/or summer squash from her garden.  This may be my favorite way to eat squash ever.

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
(yield - 24 muffins)

Ingredient list:
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 cup butter (softened)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups white sugar
2 large eggs (room temperature)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups peeled and finely grated zucchini
1 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 standard muffin pans with cupcake papers. Mix together the milk and vinegar and set aside. In a large bowl, beat the butter, oil, and sugar until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, blending after each egg. Add vanilla and milk mixture. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add to the wet mixture and mix very gently to combine (or stir by hand).  Add grated zucchini and half of the chocolate chips and stir to combine well. Spoon the batter into the cupcake papers, filling about 2/3 full. Top with the rest of the chips and the nuts (if using). Bake for 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted at center comes out clean.