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Archive for September, 2012

I just love my garden!!!

I am at the end of all my “farming” for this year. I have a small garden but it is well planned and we get lot’s of fruits, vegetables and herbs from it all through the summer.

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A great harvest.

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I have a lot of herbs. Basil is of course one of the staples.

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Herbs cut for drying. I make my own “Herb the Brooklyn” mixture.

It includes dried basil (Genovese, lemon/lime, Greek,cinnamon basil), Thyme, Lavender, Oregano, Mint, Rosemary, Sage (purple, golden & regular Sage), Chives, Mexican coriander (recao is another name for it) & Marjoram. This mixture is my every day spice. I use it for everything. You can call it one of my secret weapons.

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Lavender.

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I also make a more “Swedish” mixture of dried Dill, Parsley & Chives. This herbal mixture is great for any seafood but you can also use it for many other things.

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A great tip for herbs is to cut them fine and pack them into glass jars. All through the winter, you will now have “fresh” herbs. Just take the jar out and scrape with a fork directly into the food you are cooking. Or perhaps you are making a cold sauce that needs some herbs. Just add some from the frozen jars. I always have Dill, Parsley, Cilantro & basil in jars all over my freezers (yes I have 2 freezers. One in the kitchen for an everyday” use and one in the basement for all my bulk purchases and harvesting.

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All sorts of cherry tomatoes. I keep them on my deck so that there is an “easy access”. I don’t have to go into the garden itself to snack on some sun ripe cherry tomatoes.

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We love to always have a variety of tomatoes. They are just so delicious to use as they are or to cook with.

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I am always looking forward to my home-made tomato sauce. It is a mixture of all my different kinds of tomatoes and a whole bunch of herbs like Basil, Oregano & Thyme.

I cut it all into small pieces and then boil it down to a good consistency. I also add a few very finely cut fresh hot peppers. To keep the sauce for the winter I pour it into extremely clean glass jars. I always boil the lids separately to make sure there is no bacteria hanging out. Then, I put the jars in a water bath in a large pot (the water should only reach up to the lid). Let them come to a boil and then simmer for about 25-35 minutes. It depends on how long I boiled the sauce itself. When done, take the jars up and but on a dry towel to cool down. When you hear a little “pop” from the pressure of the lid, the canning of the tomato sauce is done. Keep in a cool and dark place. You might want to check the jars ever so often to make sure the sauce is still good.

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Physalis. Just be careful with it.  It is one of those plants that ones you plant it you will always have them in your garden. They replenish themselves greatly.

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Asters. My mothers favorite flower. I always plant them for her, even though she is in Sweden.  I always have Asters & Bleeding hearts my mothers favorites, Lobelia my fathers favorite & Ranunculus my sisters favorite.

Happy fall to all of you.

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It’s about that time again…. The time when I feel anxious and just want to pickle, preserve, make jam & chutney. Do all the things that belongs to fall.

Chutney is something I try to always have in the house. You can “enhance” any meal by adding a little chutney. There are so many versions of this excellent condiment. I use any fruit and spice. The key ingredients are usually curry & ginger. But then again, they belong to my favorite spices. Chutney is typically made in India or South Asia. They used to be made in a mortar pestle but these days one usually use a food processor. I personally don’t. Instead, I cut all ingredients very small and fine and cook it for a long time. A chutney contains spices, fruits or vegetables, vinegar and/or citrus fruits (lemon or lime) & some kind of sugar.

I am not sure why, but my mother always made different kinds of chutney. It is a little bit of a puzzle since it is very far from the typical Swedish food. But then again, my mother was always very adventurous in the kitchen. She experimented and came up with the most tasteful food. I am very fortunate to have learned so much from her.

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Asian Pear Chutney.

1/2 lb apples.

1 1/2 lb Asian pears.

1/2  c. apple cider vinegar (or balsamic vinegar.)

2-3 tbsp. minced or shredded fresh ginger.

1/2 – 1 finely chopped fresh hot pepper.

1/2 – 3/4 c. of brown sugar.

1 lemon. I use both the juice and the zest.

6-8 cloves of minced garlic.

4-6 tomatillos (optional).

1-2 large onions, finely diced.

1/2-1 c, raisins, any kind.

2-3 cinnamon sticks.

2 – 3 tbsp. curry powder.

1-2 tbsp. Madras powder (optional).

1 tsp. salt.

Directions;

Wash and dice the apples and Asian pears (you can use them with or without the peel). Cut up the onions, ginger & pepper (if you prefer a less “hot” chutney, discard the seeds & the membrane of the pepper.)

Mix all ingredients in a big pot. Let come to a boil and then simmer for about 1 hour or until all apples and Asian pears are nice and soft. Make sure to stir ever so often so that it does not burn. Don’t add all sugar at once. Add some and then taste it. If not sweet enough, add more brown sugar.

The chutney should have a marmalade like consistency. When done, pour into well cleaned glass jars. Let cool and then put on the lid. (You can also preserve it through regular canning techniques.)

Keep the jars in a cool and dark place.

You can use the basics from this recipe and just change the ingredients some. Make it your own kind.

I use this to meat, chicken, fish, vegetables… Well really everything and anything. At times, I also use it as a spice for cooking.

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Asian pears. It is a really juicy and sweet fruit. Very delicious.

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My dad told me he caught 82 (!) flounders in his nets the other day. Isn’t it great being able to go out and fish, just like that whenever you feel like it? Makes me want to celebrate with some flounders myself.

Flounder is such an “easy” fish to cock with. Stuff it, bread it, fry it, bake it, poach it…. It is all good and everything works. The flounder I grew up with was breaded and pan-fried . My grandmother cooked it all the time. She served it with boiled potatoes and quick pickled cucumbers. I used to love it (even the boiled potatoes mind you…)

The flounder I am sharing with all of you, is a very easy one. I stuffed it with blue cheese and chopped spinach. It was actually one of my brothers that first introduced me to this combination. He used to make a blue cheese, spinach & creme fraiche pasta sauce. Try it, it is really delicious. You can use any kind of fish for this recipe. If you don’t stuff the fish put it on top and bake it in the oven.

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Blue cheese & spinach stuffed Founder.

Serves 4.

4-8 filets of flounder (4 if they are big, 8 if they are small)

1/2 c. crumbled blue cheese (you can use a little less if you want.)

1/2 c. chopped spinach(frozen works really well. Just remember to squeeze out the water.)

1/2 c. (or one container) creme fraiche.

Nutmeg to taste (about 1/2 tsp.)

Hot sauce (optional).

Salt & pepper to taste.

Directions;

Dry the flounder filets dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on the fish.

Mix together the crumbled blue cheese, chopped spinach (with the water squeezed out of it), creme fraiche, salt & pepper and hot sauce. Make sure it is mixed well. If the fish filets are small, use two that overlap each other creating one filet. Put a big table-spoon or two on top of the filet at one side. Make sure it spreads out “on hight”. Roll up the filet. Make sure it is nice and “tight”. It is really nice to bake these individually in small baking dishes or ramekins. This way you don’t have to worry about moving the fish from one place to another (they can “unravel” slightly. Don’t worry, just piece them together again. Nobody will know.) Have the roll “stand” up. Bake in a 350 degree oven (F, 175 C) 20-30 minutes or until the fish is cooked all the way through. 

Serve it with some fresh cherry tomatoes of different colors or anything else that you prefer. Decorate with a sprig of any kind of fresh herb.

It is so light and delicious. A pressed/ riced potato goes really well with this dish. Or why not a great salad.

Enjoy!!

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I am an “Honorary S:t Lucian.”

My husband and his family are from S:t Lucia, (The Lesser Antilles-West Indies). They have given me the title “honorary S:t Lucian.” Even though my mother in law says I am more West Indian than my husband. He prefers Swedish meatballs while I rather have Jerked chicken and Curried goat.

Labor day is the day for the West Indian parade. A carnival parades down Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn. It usually attracts millions of people. It is really a vibrant & exciting event. All West Indians in New York come together. People have been making floats and costumes for months. There are “bands/floats” representing countries, companies and events. People follow the floats and dance around them. It is like a “mini Rio” . Well, a very small version but the colors are explosive and people are in a festive mode. Food vendors are lining the parade route. The smell of peppers and spices, BBQ’s and jerks fills the air.

There is a mini version of the parade taking place early (6am) in the morning. It is called “Jouvet”. The parade is the same, except, everybody is throwing colored talc and powders at each other. It is a really crazy tradition. Don’t go if you are protective of your clothes.

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Jerked Pulled Pork.

1 pork shoulder or pork but.

Jerked seasoning. Store bought or home-made.

(Jerked seasoning;

2-3 tbsp. minced/finely chopped onion.

2-3 tbsp. dry thyme.

2-3 tsp. ground all spice. (Typical Jamaican spice)

1-2 tsp. cayenne pepper.

1 tsp. ground cinnamon.

1 tbsp. minced fresh garlic.

1/2-1 tsp. salt.

1/2-1 finely chopped hot pepper (optional).

2-3 tbsp. corn oil or vegetable oil.)

1 orange, sliced.

1-2 tbsp. beef stock.

Rub the pork with the jerk seasoning. Use more if you like it spicy.

It is not typically West Indian, but I like to add slices of orange on top of the pork. Put into a dish tightly covered with foil. Put into a 200-250 degree F (100-125 C) oven. Let slowly cook for about 5-8 hours depending on how big the pork shoulder/but is. (You can tell when it is ready by the meat starting to fall off the bones. The bones starting to be exposed.)

Start to shred the pork. I add some of the “juice” to mix into the shredded meat. I also add a little beef stock and if needed more jerk seasoning.

Save the orange slices for decoration.

Traditionally one makes Jerked Chicken. I just think it is a little boring to always make the jerk of chicken. Since we eat lot’s of pork, I make either jerked pulled pork or jerked pork tenderloin. If I use the tenderloin, I let it marinate over night in the fridge (in a zip-lock plastic bag.)

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West Indian Beans, my way.

Dry beans. This time I used pinto beans. 1 small bag.

1 c. coconut milk.

6-8 sprigs of thyme.

1 tbsp. chopped oregano.

1/2 chopped onion.

4-5 sliced spring onions, finely sliced.

1/2-1 thinly sliced fresh hot pepper.

2-5 finely minced garlic cloves. (I love garlic so I actually use about 5-8 cloves.)

Water.

Directions;

Soak the beans in cold water over night.

Next day, start to fry the onions in a deep pot. Add all the ingredients but the beans & coconut milk. Let fry for a few minutes. Add the coconut milk. Let simmer for a minute. Add the beans. Pour over water so that it just covers the beans. Let simmer/slow cook for an hour or two until the beans are nice and soft. Be sure not to over-cook them. When the beans are done, they look very light in color, not dark as regular baked beans.

Serve with rice.

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Fried plantains.

Make sure to use a very black old-looking plantain. (I used to throw out all the “rotten bananas” my husband, then boy friend, used to keep under the sink. Couldn’t understand why he always had these black rotten bananas in the house. Now I know better.)

Slice on an angle approximately 3/8″ thick. Fry in a skillet in corn or vegetable oil. Make sure the heat is low so that they don’t burn. Fry on both sides. Let rest on a paper towel before serving.

Enjoy.

A tip for plantains. As a snack, fry them as above. Sprinkle with a little ground cinnamon. I can eat a couple ” too many” of this… Yum.

I am really fortunate to be able to learn to cook more Caribbean food from my mother in law. She makes a “mean” Oxtail. People would do anything to get their hands on some of it.

Sorry, It is her secret recipe that she want’s to keep a secret… I can only say it is really fantastic and the key (besides her secret ingredients ) is to boil the Oxtail many times and throw out the old water. “Keep it clean” she says.

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