Monday, September 8, 2014

Wild Plum Jelly

Wild Plum Jelly
While I had nothing to do with the makings of the wild plum jelly, I had hands-on experience with the gathering of the plums themselves. Our first foray was mom, Brynnly and I going out in the golf cart with bucket and sheet in hand. With mom's expert direction, Brynnly and I would spread the sheet under the heavily plum-laden branches, shake the branches, and then, with a great amount of luck, watch as the plums fell onto the sheet. Must admit that worked not as well as we had hoped. However, in the end, we gathered enough wild plums that jelly-making was a sure thing! Plus, we had a lot of laughs, so it was all just really really wonderful!

Wild Plum Jam:

wild plums - as many as you can gather
water to just cover plums
sugar - 3/4 cup for every 8 oz. plum sauce
cheese cloth
jelly jars w/the lids

Place picked-over (remove blemished plums, leaves, stems, etc.) plums in a large pot and just cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring often, until plums begin to split and have cooked down.
Line a strainer with cheese cloth and pour in the cooked plums. (Be careful! HOT!) Let the plums drain over night. Next morning, measure how much plum juice you have and put back into a pot. Bring to a boil and for every 1 cup of plum juice, add 3/4 cup sugar. Cook mixture until it begins to thicken. (When you dip a spoon into the mixture, two beads of juice should form into one bead and then very slowly drip off - it's a touchy-feely kind of thing, not an exact science.) In the meantime, place the jelly jars upside down into another pot of boiling water, along with the lids, and boil for about 5 - 10 minutes until they are sterilized. Remove from the water with tongs.
Ladle the plum juice/jelly into the jars and put the lids on. Let cool and distribute to those friend who are worthy of sharing in your hard labor!

'till we feast again!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Italian Flat Beans

Italian Flat Beans - a gift to the culinary world

Daughter Brynnly and I found a delicious supply of Italian flat beans, and, of course scooped them up! This is one of my favorite veggies and are simply divine just sautéed and flavored with salt and pepper. So....

For this, you need: 

Italian flat beans, cut on the diagonal
olive oil (extra virgin)
sea salt
fresh ground black pepper

Wash the beans and then cut them on the diagonal (cut one end like this \, then rotate and cut again on the \. Keep doing this till you have 1 - 1 1/2 pieces).

In a skillet that you've placed a steamer basket in, bring water to boil and add the beans. Steam until just tender. Drain the water, place beans in the skillet and season to taste with olive oil, salt and pepper. You can get fancy and add other herbs to taste, but in my estimation, simple is the best. Serve!

'till we feast again!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Chanterelle Madness!

A small number of the enormous amount of chanterelles in the woods around my parents' home

Every summer I've had the good fortune of being able to return to my Missouri home. Usually it's quite hot, humid, and by this time in July, very very dry. This year? Not so much. I've never seen a greener Missourahhh. It's obvious from the lush green foliage, the many wildflowers, and even the green lawns that rain has been a fairly constant part of this summer of 2014. This has also made for a bumper year for chanterelles. Mom and I first spotted an area of them last week, and then yesterday, after my brother Bill had mown paths through the woods for mom's golf cart, we found the motherlode of chanterelle patches. As far as you could see, there were chanterelles and more chanterelles! Enough that we simply picked what we needed for our meal and left the rest for another day. (Truth be told, we left the rest so mom could show off her chanterelle bed to our cousin, who has his own meager patch on his farm).

Below are two of the ways we've thoroughly enjoyed these wonderful mushrooms:

Grilled Beef Tenderloin Steaks w/Chanterelle Sauce

steaks of your choice, smeared with grape seed oil, then seasoned w/salt and pepper and either char-grilled or pan sautéed after the sauce is made

butter, about 1/2 stick
grape seed oil (if needed during the sauté)
1/2 or so lb. chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned and chopped/pulled into smallish pieces
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup or so dry reisling wine
1 tablespoon or so red wine vinegar
1 cup or so half & half cream
2 tablespoons fresh ground black pepper
salt to taste

Heat the butter in a large skillet and sauté the onions and garlic until they are translucent. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they have released their juices and are turning a deeper golden brown. Add the reisling and red wine vinegar and cook down until all alcohol has evaporated and most of the liquid is gone. Don't bother to measure the wine. A cup is good...2 cups? Good as well. Add the cream and stir to incorporate all the ingredients. Add the pepper, stir in. Taste and add salt to your taste. Keep warm and spoon over grilled steaks. Delicious! 


Chanterelle Pasta Salad

1/2 bag bow tie/farfalle pasta, cooked according to package directions
grape seed oil, amount as needed
1/2 lb. or so chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned and chopped/pulled into smallish pieces
2 garlic cloves, chopped
handful of fresh parsley, chopped 
handful of fresh summer savory, chopped
zest and juice of a large lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Fresh dill would be delicious in this as well. Actually any fresh herbs would work.

Heat grape seed oil in a large skillet. Add garlic and chanterelles and sauté until mushrooms release their moisture and are beginning to turn a deeper golden brown. Combine the cooked and still warm pasta and chanterelles in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Add the fresh herbs, zest of a lemon and the juice from half of the lemon. Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Stir to combine well. Add more grape seed oil and/or lemon juice, salt and pepper until it tastes good to you. Serve at room temperature. (Barilla makes a mini farfalle - that would be the ideal size for this salad.) Wonderful!


'till we feast again!

Sunday, March 30, 2014


The beginnings of jambayala...YUM!

On March 29, 2014 cousin Julie and I threw an engagement party for our Miss Mary Shaw and her Richie. It was a Mardi Gras-themed party and I was tasked with making a NOLA jambalaya. Around 20 years ago, GB and I were at a party where the hosts served jambalaya. It was absolutely delicious so I'd asked them for the recipe, which they happily share. Fast-forward to the engagement party, and it was the very first time I ever used their recipe. I used the original recipe as a starting point and then ended up just doing my own thing - a throw-n-go type of thing for sure! Note: As basmati is my go-to rice, Frank's Original RedHot Sauce is our family's go-to hot sauce - nothing better out there! Just love cayenne pepper and can't stand Tabasco Sauce - don't like the pepper it's made out of.

Below is what I did, but, as it was for me with the original recipe, it's just a starting point - just throw and go! Delicious results will be in your future! (Below makes about 3 - 4 gallons; reduce amounts to suit your needs.)
olive oil
2.5 lb. package Costco AMYLU gluten-free Andouille sausage (or equivalent) 
6 lb. (approximate) package Costco boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 large yellow onions, chopped
2 large yellow peppers, chopped
2 large green peppers, chopped
4 large red peppers, chopped
6 garlic cloves, coarsely minced
4 to 5 -14.5 oz.cans petite or regular diced tomatoes 
4 to 5++ 32 oz. boxes chicken stock (I used Whole Foods 365 organic brand)
parsley, chopped
Frank’s Original RedHot Sauce (I used 1/2 of a 12 oz. bottle)
~Cajun Seasonings~ by Penzey’s (Hand-mixed from: paprika, salt, celery, sugar, garlic, black pepper, onion, oregano, red pepper, caraway, dill, turmeric, cumin, bay, mace, cardamom, basil, marjoram, rosemary, and thyme. 
2 1/2 C. basmati rice, rinsed before cooking 
3 lbs. fresh shrimp, shelled, tail too (bay scallops could be used as well)
Cook the 2 1/2 C. rice in 5 c. water till just done.
Cut the sausage into 1/4” slices. Cut the chicken into chunks. Remove the tail from the shrimp and cut them in half.  
In a large skillet heat enough olive oil to smear the bottom of the skillet. Place sausage sliced in the skillet in a single layer and sauté until brown. Turn slices over and sauté until that side is brown. Do this in batches and throw done slices in a very large soup pot. (Mine is a 3-gallon All Clad soup pot that I absolutely adore - Thanks Kimmy!) Add the onions, peppers and garlic to the skillet (with more olive oil if necessary) and sauté until done. Do this in batches if necessary as you want the veggies to brown and not steam. When done, add veggies to the soup pot. 
Generously sprinkle the chicken with the Cajun seasonings and sauté in the skillet, adding more olive oil if needed. Do this in batches. When done, add chicken to the big pot. 
Add 4 of the 32 oz. boxes to the soup pot and also the rice. Bring pot to a boil and then simmer until the rice is done. Skim fat off if necessary. 
At this point, you can hold the jambalaya until 20 minutes before you’re ready to serve it. 
Add the shrimp about 15 minutes before you are eating, heat the soup, add more broth if it is too thick and serve. 

Crusty bread is a perfect side. Delicious!


'till we feast again!