Sunday, October 20, 2013

Beet pie!

So, this happened last night:

My garden did disgustingly well this year. I mean, really.  I am still working through fresh tomatoes and zucchinis, despite having made loads of spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, zucchini bread, and tomato jam. I also canned a bunch of beets, but I was still left with 20 lbs of them taking up space in my fridge. Now, I love pickled beets, but a person can only eat so many. 

So when I was home for Thanksgiving, I had an epiphany... Can you make beet pie?  I asked google and came up with surprisingly few answers, but I did see one or two recipes. So last night, with the help of a couple of girlfriends, we set about to invent a sweet beet pie. 

We had intended to use a sweet potato pie recipe as a jumping off point, but once we puréed the beets we thought they had a consistency more similar to moist puréed pumpkin, so we went there instead. 

We started by peeling, cubing, and boiling 3 or 4 beets, then pureeing them in the food processor. Added a few tablespoons of flour to pick up some of the moisture, then spiced the mix with cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mace. Added a pinch of salt, and about 1/3 of a cup of brown sugar and 1/4 cup of maple syrup. Threw in 1 cup of scalded milk as per my mother's pumpkin pie recipe, then 2 eggs, well-beaten. Poured into a pie shell, then baked at 450F for 10 minutes, and 325F for 45 minutes. 

The texture and flavour are very similar to pumpkin pie, but with that great beet taste underneath the spices. And the colour!  Well, the colour is plain fabulous. In the future, I might fool with separating the egg yolks and beating the whites to stiff peaks before folding them in right before baking. I think it could make it fluffier. Also, the mix could use a little less liquid, either by draining off some of the beet juice, or by reducing the milk.

Overall, I'd say it was a raving success, and well worth the wine consumed in the making!  

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Saturday Morning Breakfast Hash

My husband and I have very different ideas about what makes up the most delicious breakfast. I lean towards sweet breakfasts: crepes, waffles, pancakes. If you ask my husband, he will invariably answer, "bacon and eggs". So on weekends, I usually make one sweet breakfast and one savoury one.

But let's face it, bacon and eggs get boring, and aren't particularly good for you. How do I satisfy hubby's salt tooth while making the job of cooking less tedious and more healthy? Breakfast hash.

This breakfast is awesome for the boonies cook because it's kind of like a "choose-your-own-adventure". Start with a meat (or not): bacon, ham, sausage. Add a starch: sweet potato, potato, quinoa. Mix with veggies: onions, garlic, mushrooms, green pepper. Crack an egg in the middle of it all and wait. Serve over toast, if you're so inclined.

Here are the details:

Chop up some potato or sweet potato into 1/2 inch cubes and boil for 5 to 7 minutes, until soft, but not mushy. Or use cooked quinoa. Drain.

While the potatoes are boiling, chop up your meat and fry it in a deep skillet over medium heat.

As the meat starts to crisp, add your chopped veggies and sauté until soft. Add the drained potatoes or quinoa, season with salt and pepper, and sauté a few minutes longer.

Make a few wells in the hash and crack an egg into each well. Cover the skillet and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until the eggs are soft to your liking. Scoop the eggs out with a spatula and serve the hash around them, or on toast.

Bask in the glory of being an awesome breakfast cook!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Pork Chops with Leeks and Mustard Sauce

One of the issues (I don't want to call it a problem..) with buying an entire pig from a farmer, like we do, is having to find multiple inventive uses for pork chops.  There's always the good old "pork chops in mushroom soup" fallback, but that gets tiresome fast.  So I've been testing a lot of different pork chop recipes.

This recipe makes use of a couple of fresh herbs, which may not be readily available in winter.  The herbs in question, though, are easily grown in northern gardens in the summer, so I kept this in the "boonies recipes" pile.

The original instructions call for letting the pork chops rest in the salt rub for an hour or more, but I find that this makes them far too salty for my taste.  I rub them down about 15 minutes before they go in the pan.

Pork Chops with Leeks and Mustard Sauce

(adapted from Epicurious)

  • 4 bone-in pork chops
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 bacon slices, coarsely chopped
  • Olive oil (optional)
  • 4 cups thinly sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only; about 3 large)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1.5 cups low-salt chicken broth (alternate - substitute 1/2 c of brandy or white wine for some of the broth)
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage (or 3/4 teaspoon dried sage)
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup sour cream

  • Combine salt, thyme, rosemary and pepper in a small bowl.  Rub on both sides of chops at least 15 minutes (and up to an hour) before cooking.

    Cook bacon bits in a deep skillet over medium heat until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. 

    Raise heat to medium high and place pork chops in pan, searing both sides. Remove chops and set aside. 

    Pour off bacon grease until there are 3 tbsp left (or add olive oil until there are 3 tbsp of fat in the pan). Add leeks and saute until soft - about 7 minutes. Add garlic and stir for a minute. Add chicken broth (you can also add a bit of white wine or brandy at this point) and bring to a boil. Add cooked bacon and sage to skillet, then nestle the pork chops in the leeks. 

    Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until pork chops are cooked through, flipping the chops after a few minutes. 

    Remove pork chops and cover them to keep them warm.  Boil any remaining liquid off from the leeks, then add mustard and sour cream to skillet and stir to combine. Serve leek mixture over the pork chops.