Archive for July, 2009

Ladybug Jungle

I had no idea there were so many ladybugs living in the fennel in my herb garden. I almost let dinner burn, I was so enthralled with watching and photographing them.

ladybug-jungle

Like a box of chocolates …

… when you plant a garden, you never know what you’re gonna get. It seems like something different does extremely well each year. Last year, we were inundated with peppers – bell, Kung Pao, jalapeno. This year, the cucumbers have gone insane. I think there are three plants vining along the back fence – I just picked 10 cucumbers the other night. I wonder what the farmer’s market would pay for organic cucumbers?

A few someones at work got lucky yesterday.

I still have four cucumbers – might need to make this Spicy Cucumber Salad recipe again.

Topsy Turvy Tomatoes

We decided to try this upside-down method of growing tomatoes this year, to see what would happen. They’re doing better than some of our other tomato plants – a few have died – but not as good as some others. I’ve only gotten one off it so far, and it was good, but they’re small for beefsteak tomatoes.

They look kinda cool hanging off the shed there, though 🙂

topsy-turvy-tomatoes

GYO: Maque Choux

grow_your_own_logo-2009-bldgI saw Rachael Ray make this on her “30-Minute Meals” show once, and it looked really good. So I made it, and it is really good 🙂 It’s full of healthy ingredients and is a delicious way to use extra corn if you grill too much. The original recipe doesn’t call for zucchini, but I had about a third of one left in the fridge so I diced it and tossed it in.

The red onion and parsley are from our garden this year, and the jalapeno is one I froze last summer. We had an abundance of jalapeno and Szechuan peppers last year. I put the extra jalapenos on a cookie sheet, froze them, and put them in a freezer bag, so I could thaw and use them through the year. And I dried the Szechuan peppers; as soon as I run out of store-bought red pepper flakes, I’m going to chop these in the food processor to make my own.

Maque Choux

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped zucchini
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
4 ears grilled corn on the cob, kernels cut off
A sprinkle sugar
Dash cayenne pepper
Salt
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 ripe avocado
1 lime, juiced

Heat a skillet over moderate heat. Add 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (1 turn of the pan), chopped onion, jalapeno and red bell pepper. Saute 2 or 3 minutes. Combine corn with peppers and onions. Season with a sprinkle of sugar, a dash of cayenne pepper and salt. When mixture bubbles, reduce heat to simmer. Cut butter into pieces and stir into corn mixture. Allow mixture to simmer and cook until creamy, 5 to 7 minutes. Spoon maque choux into a serving bowl, sprinkle with parsley and serve.

This is great with grilled chicken.

maque-choux-500w

This is my contribution to Grow Your Own, the food blogging event that celebrates growing and preparing our own food. It was originated by Andrea of Andrea’s Recipes and is hosted this time by Playing House.

Bobby Flay’s Tomatillo-Avocado Salsa

Well, try as I might, sometimes I miss these food blogging event deadlines, but I like this relish so much, and it looks so good, I decided to post it anyway. Yummy and good for you, and soon we will be able to make it with tomatillos from our own yard.

Bobby Flay’s Tomatillo-Avocado Relish
3 ripe Haas avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
3 tomatillos, husked, washed and diced
juice of 2 limes
3 tbsp. canola oil
1 tbsp. honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 green onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
3 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

Carefully combine avocados, tomatillos, lime juice, oil, honey and S&P to taste in a medium bowl. Mix in the green onions and cilantro. May be made up to 30 minutes in advance and refrigerated.

This is great served with grilled chicken, or as a dip with tortilla chips.

tomatillo-avocado-salsa

Kibbee and Bits

grow_your_own_logo-2009-bldgMy sister-in-law, Jennifer, is of Lebanese descent and when we were visiting one time, she showed me a cookbook she had – “Kibbee ‘n’ Spice and Everything Nice: Popular and easy recipes for the Lebanese and American Family,” by Janet Kalush. I was looking through it and talking about how much I like to try new things, and she gave me the book right there. Thanks again, Jen! 🙂

She also mentioned that kibbee is one of her favorite foods; I hadn’t heard of it before, but I tried it at Azar’s, a local Mediterranean restaurant, and liked it a lot. So I finally tried making it myself.

This is a variation of Lebanon’s national dish. The traditional way to make kibbee is to make the meat mixture shown below, then make another meat mixture to use as a filling; then the kibbee is baked or fried. I skipped the filling (this extra step is probably why I hadn’t made it earlier) and grilled them instead. You have to be very careful when grilling these; the bulghur wheat makes them a bit fragile. But it works!

btw, Dan kept calling it Kibbee and Bits, so here we are: Kibbee with bits of grilled potato 🙂

Kibbee Patties (spiced ground beef or lamb with bulghur)

1 cup finely ground bulghur wheat
1/2 medium onion, or one small onion
3/4 tsp. kibbee spice (see below)
2-1/2 tsp. salt
1 lb. finely ground beef or lamb
2 rounds of pita bread
tzatziki sauce (cucumber/yogurt sauce)

Kibbee Spice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 tbsp. crushed dried mint (I used fresh mint from the garden, then dried it in the toaster oven at 200 degrees for 15 minutes)
1-1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

Combine thoroughly in a small bowl; transfer to a spice bottle and keep in a cool, dry place.

For Kibbee

Rinse the bulghur wheat in cold water twice and drain. Cover by half an inch with fresh water and let soak. Finely mince the onion in a food processor. Transfer to a bowl and add the kibbee spice and salt; combine thoroughly. Add the ground meat to the bowl and mix completely by hand.

Squeeze excess water from the bulghur wheat and add to the meat mixture. Mix by hand until well blended. Add ice water if necessary, to maintain a soft consistency.

Form meat into eight 3-inch patties, and press in the center with your thumb to form a dimple. Grill 3-4 minutes on both sides until cooked through.

To serve: Serve kibbee patties over tzatziki sauce or in pita pockets. To serve in pita pockets, briefly grill pita rounds to warm them a bit; cut in half. Put a few tablespoons of tzatziki sauce in each pita half and place two kibbee patties on top of sauce. Serves 4.

This is my contribution to Grow Your Own, the food blogging event that celebrates growing and preparing our own food. It was originated by Andrea of Andrea’s Recipes and is hosted this time by Andrea herself.

If you count the cucumber in the tzatziki, I used three ingredients from my garden in this meal: cucumber, onion and mint.

Kibbee patties ready for grilling
Kibbee patties ready for grilling

Kibbee with tzatziki sauce and grilled potatoes
Kibbee with tzatziki sauce and grilled potatoes

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