Savor The Earth

eat tastier, eat greener, eat cheaper

kebabin’ July 24, 2009

Filed under: Indian,meat — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 1:18 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I love the convenience of ground meat and find a number of local options at our farmers markets.  From Loncito’s Lamb and Thunderheart Bison at both Sunset Valley Farmers Market and Austin Farmers Market, goat and lamb from Premium Lamb at Austin FM, to pork, beef and longhorn beef vendors at both markets, you’ll enjoy plenty of choices.

Here’s an Indian-inspired kebab recipe. You can use lamb (my first choice), goat (very mild), or beef.   The ingredient list is long, but these juicy, aromatic  morsels will transport you, if not to India itself, then to your favorite Indian grocery store.  Mine’s MGM in Rich Creek Plaza at 7429 Burnet Road.  I don’t get north much so I buy what I can at Fiesta, but I relish the occasional foray into this friendly resource.  Sometimes they’re selling curry bush transplants.  I bought one at least 8 years ago and it grows great here.  It’ll die down in our “winter,” even with a sheet over it. Each spring I worriedly inspect the branches, searching for green signs of survival, and to my relief the plant always comes through.  Sometimes it blooms sweet smelling blossoms and one year it even fruited.  I had no idea what to do with those firm, dark, round berries.  Let me know if you do!

Although these kebabs are moist enough not to require condimenting, they taste extra yummy with some blueberry chutney.

KAKORI-STYLE KEBABS yields 10 finger length chubbies

  • 2 Tablespoons white poppy seeds–If you don’t have these, sesame seeds would probably taste good.  Black poppy seeds probably wouldn’t.
  • 3 Tablespoons besan (garbanzo bean flour)
  • 2 Tablespoons organic coconut oil, ghee, or neutral oil
  • 1 small yellow or white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons organic oatmeal (Whole Foods bulk sells for $1.79 a pound) soaked in 2 Tablespoons yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon garam masala–I always make my own and I’m always experimenting, but you can purchase some from WF or Central Market Bulk departments.
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, precious and optional, crushed with a little salt
  • 3/4 of a hard Texas pear, peeled, cored and finely shredded.  Go ahead and munch the other quarter or put it in your stock scrap bag in the freezer.
  • 1 pound ground meat, preferably local grassfed good stuff

In a small skillet, dry-toast the poppy seeds over medium or so heat until fragrant and darkening.  Add the besan and continue to toast until besan is roasty-fragrant and darkens a bit.  Dump out onto a plate or cake pan (cools faster), let cool and grind up in your spice grinder or mortar.  In your still hot pan, add the oil and onions and cook, adjusting heat as necessary, til they’re goodly browned.  You know what I’m talkin’ about.

Mix all your dry seasonings, including besan mixture, together in a small bowl.  Put the meat, browned onion, oatmeal and shredded pear into a large bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer.  I prefer to use a mixer because not only do my delicate hands get chilly but I can always count on a baby pooping on the carpet or some such disaster befalling my offspring when I’m up to my elbows in raw meat (or bread dough or whatever).  Praise be to KitchenAid®!  Dump in the spices and thoroughly combine all the ingredients however you dare.

Let the kebab mixture rest in the fridge for a while, all day or overnight.  Form the meat with your hands into 10 plump sausages.  An ice cream-style scoop works well to portion it out.  Grill over hot coals til cooked through and crusty brown.  Watch ’em disappear cuz even the youngest guy around here loves these.

Advertisements
 

Eggplant Chickpea Pilaf July 21, 2009

Filed under: Indian,rice,vegetarian — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 2:11 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Down at the Sunset Valley Farmers Market, my usual foraging turf, I find a number of local gems.  Ringger Family Farm, located in Bastrop County, makes soap with milk from their own herd of sustainably raised goats and grows beautiful jewel-like little eggplants.  I can’t get enough of their lavender and white striated, friendly-flavored finger-length delights.  And the cute, round, green and white-striped Thai orbs are a crunchy sweet treat when quickly stir-fried.  These folks also grow “tame” jalapenos for those of us whose capsaicin tolerance has been weakened by the proscriptions of our brood.

I could probably eat diced eggplant fried in olive oil almost every day in season.  Thankfully they are not available locally year round—although I anxiously await the first harvest at the beginning of every summer.  Before frying, I toss eggplant cubes with a little salt and some turmeric and let them sit for a few minutes.  After cooking, I refrigerate the used oil for sauteing veggies or brushing onto tortillas for quesadillas.

Here’s a vegetarian meal in a skillet that takes advantage of our local bounty of eggplants:

EGGPLANT CHICKPEA PILAF

  • 1 cup basmati rice–I like the Indian and Pakistani brands in the large fabric bags.

Rinse the rice well in three changes of water, then drain and soak in about 1 1/2 cups fresh water for 10 minutes.  Drain in a sieve, reserving soaking water and adding enough to measure 1 3/4 cups water.

  • 8 small, slim, gorgeously young and fresh eggplants, beheaded and and quartered lengthwise.

Toss the eggplant pieces with about 1 teaspoon turmeric and a generous pinch of kosher salt

  • 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas, preferably organic (Whole Foods and Central Market offer their own brands at good prices), drained.  Don’t bother to rinse the beans.  Jacques Pépin doesn’t.
  • 3 or 4 Tablespoons oil or ghee.  I like organic coconut oil, of course.
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 2″ piece of cinnamon stick
  • 2 black cardamom pods (or 4 green), slightly crushed with the handle of your kitchen knife
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 0r 2 whole dried red chiles
  • 1/4 teaspoon kalonji (nigella), optional
  • 1/2 teasoon asafetida, optional
  • 1 medium-sized white onion, sliced thin
  • 1 whole green jalapeno, optional
  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled or ground in a mortar with a pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander (seeds)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 Tablespoons turbinado sugar
  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt

Heat oil and whole spices (through kalonji) in a 12″ skillet on medium-high heat.  Fry spices until browning and fragrant, then add asafetida and quickly dump in the onions.  Cook the onions, stirring and adjusting the heat as necessary, until browning agreeably.  Add the eggplant pieces and the whole jalapeno and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the eggplant is browned.  Add the drained rice and garlic.  Continue cooking and stirring until the rice grains separate and lose their translucency.  Add the drained beans and the remaining ingredients plus the reserved water and turn the heat to high to quickly bring the mixture to a boil.  Give it a final stir, turn the heat to low, and cover with a tight fitting lid.  Cook for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and let rest for 10 minutes before fluffing and serving.  Don’t eat the whole spices.  Remove them from the pan if you have the opportunity–otherwise just warn your diners.

 

blueberry chutney

Filed under: blueberries,Indian — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 12:15 pm
Tags: , ,

I can’t think of a snappy title this time.  But here’s a great chutney that shows off Texas ingredients in season right now.  Our local  farmers markets are offering plenty of organic options for onions, garlic and blueberries.  And those Texas pears!  If you steer clear of these rather rustic fruits on account of their tough hides or occasionally granular insides, I urge you to give ’em a try.  Let them ripen up to a yielding texture–they may still feel surprisingly firm–and peel that thick skin off.  These pears can be really luscious, and may even surprise your palate with a hint of walnut!  This recipe is very customizable.  It’s like a choose your own texture adventure.

BLUEBERRY CHUTNEY

  • 2 1/2 to 3 Tablespoons oil–organic virgin coconut is good.  Whole Foods brand is usually the best buy.  Most nut oils and any neutral oil would be fine.
  • 1/4 teaspoon brown or black mustard seeds.  If you have only yellow, that will do.
  • 1″ piece of cinnamon stick
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 whole dried red chiles–crush them if you want the heat.
  • 2 small or 1 medium-ish onion,  sliced thin or chopped medium fine, you decide.  Choose your color, too.  Mix it up if you want.  Pairing a red and a sweet yellow worked great for me.
  • 1 large clove of garlic, prepped as you please.  From whole or whole smashed to pressed or any form in between.
  • a pecan shell-size finger of ginger, preferably organic and domestic.  You can fine shred, microplane or mince this.  By the way, I almost never peel ginger.  Don’t tell anyone.  On second thought, tell everybody!
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 medium-sized Texas pear (about 5 ounces), hard or ripe, peeled, cored and diced medium or fine or shredded thick or thin.
  • 1/2 cup organic raisins–I love the Central Market Bulk raisins.
  • 1/4-1/3 cup organic apple cider vinegar
  • 80 grams (about 3/8 cup plus a scant teaspoon) turbinado sugar
  • 1 pint organic Texas blueberries–about $4 still at our farmers markets and Central Market–rinsed and drained.  Don’t bother to dry them.

Heat your oil and whole spices in 10″ to 12″ skillet on medium high heat.  Let the spices toast and the mustard seeds pop. Add the onions.  Stir and cook the onions to brown them nicely.  Adjust the heat as necessaryStir in your garlic and lightly brown it if you like.  Stir in the ginger.  Add the rest of the ingredients and cook over medium-low to medium heat about 20 minutes,  until the chutney has thickened well and the blueberries are as popped as you please.  Add a dash of water if it’s thickening up too soon.  Don’t eat the whole spices if you can help it!

You’ll love the royal hue of this sweet condiment.  Eat it with the usual kebabs and pilafs or try some on a tangy cheese.  Enjoy the Texas bounty!

 

that’s a crock…of potatoes July 13, 2009

Filed under: potatoes,slow cooker,vegetables — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 4:35 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Fresh and flavorful local potatoes are all over our markets lately.  If you’ve yet to taste a spud not long out of the ground, you’re in for a savory treat.  Our area farmers are offering mostly reds and yellows.  Get yourself some smallish taters, two inches or so across, and roast ’em outside in your slow cooker.

SLOW COOKER-ROASTED POTATOES around our house this barely serves 3

  • 1 1/2 pounds small (about 2 inches across) red or yellow potatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil,  preferably organic, plus just a little more
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt–I like Diamond brand
  • up to a whole head of garlic cloves, peeled (use at least 1/2 dozen)
  • 3 good-sized (about 6″–that’s a good size) sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1 good-sized sprig of fresh thyme

Wash and dry your potatoes.  Put them in the crock, drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle on the salt.  Mix them up.  Rub your garlic cloves with olive oil and nestle them amongst the potatoes.  Some of the garlic might sneak down to the bottom but try not to let the cloves touch the crock.  Rub your herb sprigs with olive oil and lay them on top of the potatoes and garlic.  Roast on high for about 3 hours.  The potatoes are done when you can poke right through them with a pointy implement.  If they roast a little longer you’ll get crispier skins.

 

from “can’t”aloupe to “can”aloupe July 12, 2009

Filed under: cantaloupe,dessert — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 9:35 am
Tags: , , , , ,

molding my 'sicles

pop-a-sicle!

I recently bought a small, quite fragrant cantaloupe at Sunset Valley Farmers Market.  Entranced by the heady aroma, I ignored the unfortunate fact that I actually don’t like melons (watermelons being the irresistibly refreshing exception).  This unabashedly ripe orb seemed to promise new possibilities of edibility.  At the very least the baby could try it.

Baby liked the new fruit just fine but my older son quickly decided he didn’t enjoy melon after all.  And despite that honeyed scent I couldn’t put a piece into my mouth and my husband wouldn’t even feign temptation.

What to do?  Popsicles, of course!  Now the whole family can dig these melons!

CANTALOUPE POPSICLES yield depends on mold size

  • a generous pound of ripe cantaloupe, cut into small chunks
  • 2 Tablespoons Amaretto–I spose this is optional.  You could add a small splash of almond extract instead.
  • fresh lemon and/or lime juice to taste–I used 1 small lemon and half of 1 small lime for my batch.
  • local honey, to taste–I put in about 2 Tablespoons.

Dump everything into your blender.  Pulse to get it going then blend til smooth (or a little chunky, your choice).  Pour the mixture into your popsicle molds and freeze for 1 hour before inserting sticks.  Freeze until hard and unmold at eatin’ time.

Astoundingly (to me) I do not own popsicle molds.  I see such cute ones in stores and magazines.  I probably own most every other kitchen doodad so I used some heart-shaped JELL-O® brand Jigglers® molds that I bought years ago at the (surprise, surprise) thrift store.  You can use waxed paper cups but that’s not so green.  If you don’t mind small ‘sicles ice cube trays will work and faster, too.

Take advantage of a luscious local fruit, in abundant supply right now at good prices.

 

cornmeal cakes tripled and berried July 7, 2009

Filed under: blueberries,cake — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 5:00 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

“BLUEBERRY CORNMEAL CAKE TRIPTYCH”

I’ve been goin’ at it with my Logan’s Turnpike Mill stoneground Georgia cornmeal and our organic Texas blueberries (still showing up in the local markets for around $4 per pint).   We enjoyed these three cakes recently (yes, we go through cake pretty fast around here).  If you gotta mind to you can enhance the cake of your choice with a little lemon zest or lemon oil added with the butter.  And if you really want to trip out try blue or even red cornmeal (make sure the grind’s not too coarse).

Here’s a terrific pound cake, with or without blueberries.


Cake and fireworks---can't be beat!

BLUEBERRY CORNMEAL POUND CAKE

  • 4 ounces (1 stick) butter, preferably organic, softened
  • 38 grams cornmeal
  • 181.5 grams (1 1/2 cups) organic all-purpose flour
  • 125 grams (5/8 cup) sugar
  • 1/2 Tablespoon plus 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 5/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • up to 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 151 grams (7/8 cup) sour cream, homemade yogurt 1/2-n-1/2 is fine
  • 42 grams (2 Tablespoons) honey, preferably local
  • scant Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs, preferably local
  • 1/2 pint fresh blueberries, preferably local and organic, rinsed and dried well

Preheat oven to 350º and grease and flour (I like Spectrum baking spray) a 6-cup Bundt® style tube pan.  I use a Turk’s head pan.

Combine dry ingredients (cornmeal through salt) in a bowl with a whisk.  Lightly beat eggs with vanilla and about a third of the sour cream.  Mix the remaining sour cream with the honey.

Combine butter and dry ingredients in a mixer bowl (a stand mixer works best for this).  Add sour cream with honey and mix on medium speed with the paddle for 90 seconds.  Scrape down sides of bowl and add the egg mixture in three parts, beating for 20 seconds  after each addition and scraping the sides of the bowl each time.

Fill the pan halfway with batter.  Gently stir blueberries into the remaining batter and finish filling the pan.  Bake for about 35 minutes, until cake tests done.  If the top seems to be overbrowning you can lightly lay a piece of foil on the top or  turn the oven down to 325º.

Cool cake in pan on a rack for 5 minutes.  Loosen sides by gently jostling pan and turn out onto a rack to finish cooling.

A light lemon glaze is nice but not essential.  Combine 1 Tablespoon lemon juice with 6 or more Tablespoons powdered sugar to make a drizzly drizzle.  Pour over cooled cake.


This next cake is good as a 1 or 2 layer cake with super buttery frosting or as a single layer served with tartened whipped cream (1 cup heavy cream and 1/3 cup sour cream whooped together til softly peaking), fresh blueberries and local honey.


BROWN SUGAR CORNMEAL CAKE makes 1  9″ round layer

  • 3 ounces (6 Tablespoons) organic butter, softened
  • 155 grams (3/4 cup) organic light brown sugar–Central Market Organics is usually the best buy
  • 1 1/2 eggs–75 grams or 4 1/2 Tablespoons–preferably local
  • 121 grams (1 cup) all-purpose flour, preferably organic
  • 2 ounces (about a rounded 1/2 cup) cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup yogurt or buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350º and grease and flour a 9″ X 2″ round cake pan.  For a surefire smooth move at unmolding time lay a circle of waxed paper on the bottom of the pan before greasing and flouring or spraying with baking spray.

Cream butter and sugar, beating until light and fluffy.  Gradually beat in eggs.  Whisk together dry ingredients.  Stir vanilla into yogurt.  Add dry ingredients to butter in three parts alternately with yogurt, beginning and ending with flour mixture.  Beat well and brieflybetween additions and don’t forget to scrape the mixing bowl.

Fill your pan, jiggling it to level batter, and bake about 20-25 minutes, until cake tests done.  Cool in pan on rack for 5 minutes before loosening the sides with a metal spatula and inverting onto a cooling rack.  Reinvert if that’s your style. Let cake cool completely if you’re gonna frost it.  Otherwise eat it warm.  Go ahead.


Almost a cross between the first two cakes, this tall, rich layer is downright decadent without being fancy.  Dense with butter (nearly unctuous with Organic Valley Pasture butter), it’s irresistible when warm.  The blueberries actually help cut the richness.  So eat another piece before I eat it all!

that's rich!

RICH BLUEBERRY CORNMEAL CAKE makes one 9″ round cake

  • 6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) organic butter, softened
  • 83 grams (about 7/8 cup) organic whole wheat pastry flour
  • 35 grams (about 1/4 cup ) cornmeal
  • 83 grams (about 1/2 cup plus 3 Tablespoons) organic all-purpose flour
  • 200 grams (1 cup) organic sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • a little freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt–slightly less if using Pasture butter
  • 160 grams (2/3 cup) homemade 1/2-n-1/2 yogurt or sour cream (light is fine.  This cake is rich enough.)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 eggs, preferably local
  • up to 1/2 pint fresh blueberries, preferably local and organic, rinsed and dried well

Preheat oven to 350º.  Grease and flour a 9″ X 3″ round pan.  Lining  the bottom with a round of waxed paper is a good idea here.

Combine dry ingredients, through salt, in a bowl with a whisk.  Stir about 3 Tablespoons (don’t bother to measure) yogurt or sour cream and extracts into the eggs.  Combine flour mixture, butter, and remaining yogurt in a mixer bowl and beat on medium speed for 90 seconds.  Scrape down sides of bowl.  Add egg mixture to batter in three parts, beating for 20 seconds after each addition and scraping the bowl in between.

Pour two-thirds of the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle  the blueberries evenly over the batter.  Top with the remaining batter and the sprinkle with the blueberries.  Bake for 35 minutes or so until cake tests done.  Cool in pan on a rack for 10 minutes before loosening the sides and unmolding. Let cool as long as you can stand it.

 

Bread Out Back July 4, 2009

Filed under: bread,bread machine — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 3:26 pm
Tags: , ,

I generally use my bread machine just for mixing and kneading dough but in the hot hot months here I’ll bake an occasional loaf in the machine itself.  You already know it’s super easy to just dump in your ingredients, push the button and go.  I’ve now taken to putting the bread maker outside to keep the heat where it belongs.  Not quite the same as having a wood-burning forno or tandoor in the backyard but getting the job done nonetheless.  Here’s a cornmeal bread that bakes on the quick cycle (about 2 hours) that’s especially great as toast with some Luckly Layla butter or Organic Valley Pasture butter.

CORNMEAL BREAD for the bread machine

  • 2/3 cup plus 3 Tablespoons water
  • 3/8 cup milk (6 Tablepoons), preferably local
  • scant teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons local honey
  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • 325 grams (2 1/2 cups) bread flour
  • 4 1/4 ounces (scant 1 cup) organic yellow cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon bread machine yeast

Your machine’s instructions will tell you in what order to place the ingredients into the pan.  In my machine, that would be the order listed.  Take your machine outside–it’s best to bake in the shade.  Program your loaf on the quick or rapid bake setting and go back inside to cool off!

This recipe makes a small loaf.  If you find yourself with leftovers, tear or cut the bread into chunks and stash it in a bag or other container in the freezer.  I do this with almost any kind of stale bread.  When your stash is full, you can easily bake up some improv stuffing–in the toaster oven of course!

Today we enjoyed this bread with purple hull peas from Oak Hill Farms ($4.99 per 1 pound bag) from Central Market.  You’ll find various cowpea types at our farmers markets right now.  In addition to my standard fixin’s, I sparkled this pot o’ peas with a few of Finca Pura Vida’s small oblong greenish-red tomatoes and a languishing leek type thing (elephant garlic, I believe) from the back of the veggie drawer.  Some fresh oregano, marjoram and savory from my herb garden didn’t hurt either.  Tender palates in this house can’t take much spice so I drizzled the grown-up portions with a little pickled jalapeno brine.  I almost never let good brine go to waste.  I use olive brine for seasoning veggies and sometimes hummus and I’ve been known to quick-fix my cucumber salad with some leftover pickle juice.  Waste not!

January 25, 2010                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Speaking of zero-waste,  leftovers from this loaf toast up into first rate breadcrumbs.  You can store them in the freezer if you don’t eat ’em all up with a spoon!