Tomato, Okra and Corn Soup

I almost didn’t post today – we’re taking the day off, stretching our weekend to four days – and I keep thinking it’s Saturday (“It is!” says Beloved gleefully. “For the next 3 days!”).

Anyhoo, I thought I’d post a beautiful, completely seasonal recipe today.  It’s a reworked version of one I posted 3 years ago, so it’s not exactly new.  What it is, however, is greatly simplified and somewhat improved.

When I posted this recipe originally in late August of 2011, I had not yet discovered the wonder that is a food mill – I was still peeling and seeding tomatoes by hand and pureeing them in the food processor.  A food mill, either a small one, like I used for this particular dish, or a large one, which is indispensable when making and canning huge batches of tomato or apple sauce,  is an absolutely marvelous gadget and I don’t know how I ever managed without either of them.  Basically, I just cut up the tomatoes we’d gotten that week from the CSA – there was quite a variety of them – and cranked them through the small food mill until I had a beautiful puree.

Sooooo much easier than cutting an X in the bottom of the tomatoes, dropping them in boiling water for a minute, shocking them in ice water, then peeling, cutting them in half, squeezing/digging out the seeds then chopping them by hand or running them through the food processor.  Trust me on this.

At any rate, this not only cut down the preparation and cook time, it also allowed me to increase the ratio of tomatoes to chicken stock, which made for a slightly thicker – and much smoother – soup.  I also increased the amount of sweet corn (we are just swimming in it this year) and used Cajun seasoning rather than just cayenne.

The result was simply out of the world.  It was just delicious and I felt so virtuous as I ate it I could barely stand myself.  Literally everything in it, spices aside, was local – the butter from a local dairy that pastures their cows, the tomatoes and okra from our CSA share, the sweet corn from the tiny farmer’s market where we meet our poultry farmer for eggs during the summer, the chicken stock from the backs and feet of the pastured chickens we get from the same farmer, and that I made and canned myself.  “Fresh” doesn’t even begin to describe it.

In addition to be it being about as local as possible – when you live in the suburbs, at any rate – this soup is incredibly nutritious to boot.  It is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, potassium, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin K, vitamin E, phosphorus, copper, magnesium,  manganese and fiber.  Eat this with a nice salad of fresh greens topped with a tasty homemade dressing, some simply grilled meat and a few Dilly Beans and you’ve got meal that you can feel smug about, too.

Note:  You can, of course, use canned tomato puree if you don’t have a food mill and/or access to tomatoes in season.  If you can’t find fresh okra, frozen should be fine (the same goes for the corn), assuming you can find it without breading.  Depending on how you view the inclusion of certain grains in your diet, this is paleo-friendly as well.  It is certainly gluten-free as written.

Tomato, Okra and Corn Soup. A Southern favorite, this soup is about as seasonal as it gets.  Bring on the late summer harvest!

Click the image to enlarge

Tomato, Okra and Corn Soup
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cups tomato puree
  • 4 cups chicken stock or broth, preferably homemade
  • 2 cups sliced okra
  • 2 cups corn kernels, freshly cut from the cob
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning, or to taste
  • salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium-low heat; cook the onion until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  2. Add the tomato puree, chicken broth, okra and corn; increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and stir in the Cajun seasoning. Continue cooking until the vegetables are tender and the mucilage has cooked out of the okra, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper before serving.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 216 calories, 6.9g total fat, 15mg cholesterol, 358.2mg sodium, 1153.4mg potassium,34.1g carbohydrates, 5.6g fiber, 14.5g sugar, 9.4g protein

Even Better Better Than Miracle Whip

Oh, look – I’m alive!

Sorry for the lack of posting, but real life has been, well, real.  Our garden is coming along quite nicely, although that is more Beloved’s doing than mine. The man has been a gardening maniac; I will have pictures soon.  The Young One is home for the summer, and gainfully employed – HOO. RAY.  Darling Daughter has completed her two week certification course for becoming a state tested nursing assistant; she’s busy looking for a job and studying to take the state test (they make them wait a minimum of 7 to 10 days after completing the certification course).  Jolly has landed a coveted field position within her company and is making ready to move to Michigan, which means we’ll have The G Man quite a bit this summer while she makes the transition at work and finds a good place (read: within a good school district) to relocate.

As for me, I’m looking for a new refrigerator, since ours is slowly dying, working on approximately 793 gum paste flowers for a tiered cake I’m doing in early June, planning a groom’s cake as well as a tiered cake for a fall wedding, and juggling two crochet projects and a cross stitch project while trying to work my way through season 6 of Sons of Anarchy.  All while working a 50-hour week and gearing up for what looks to be an incredibly busy season of canning, freezing and otherwise preserving the produce from not only our own garden, but the CSA as well.

If I collapse from exhaustion right before Halloween, you’ll know why.

Despite all the busyness, I do have things to blog about, including this little gem.  Since I posted it, my Better Than Miracle Whip has been been one of my most popular recipes.  However, as written, it requires a piece of equipment not everyone has in their kitchen: a stand mixer.  It also takes a bit of time and even then, the results aren’t always consistent – sometimes it thickens up really well; other times, not so much.  Recently, thanks to many demos on the interwebz, I’ve discovered a way to make it consistently and in a fraction of the time it takes in a stand mixer.

If you don’t have a stick blender, I suggest you buy one.  Like, right now – they are simply amazing, and you can get a good one for under $35.  Not only does it make the most amazing mayonnaise (or, in this case, Miracle Whip knock-off) consistently in under 2 minutes, it’s versatile as hell – we use it for everything from pureeing cauliflower to blending soups to whipping cream.

So here’s an updated version of one of my most popular recipes.  It makes a bit less than the older version, but is easily be doubled if you need more, and tastes even better than the original.  It really should be its own food group.

Note: Leave out the honey, paprika and garlic powder, sub the vinegar with lemon juice and presto!  You’ve got mayonnaise.  Also, do NOT leave out the water, or you’ll end up with Miracle Whip flavored soup (yes, I speak from experience).

Better Than Miracle Whip.  The deliciousness that is Miracle Whip, homemade in less than 2 minutes!

Click the image to enlarge

Even Better Better Than Miracle Whip
Serves: 16
[i]Makes about 1 cup[/i]
Ingredients
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • pinch smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 3/4 cup cold pressed, high-oleic safflower oil
Instructions
  1. Place all of the ingredients except the oil in a tall, narrow glass or plastic container (such as the one that comes with the stick blender). Slowly and carefully pour the oil on top, taking care not to disturb the other ingredients more than you can manage.
  2. Insert the stick blender all the way to the bottom of the container. Turn it on and leave it there for at least 20 seconds – you’ll see the bottom part of the mixture begin to thicken and emulsify. Keeping the blender running, slowly pull it to the top of the mixture. Gently submerge it to the bottom again; repeat the process 2 or 3 times until the mixture is completely blended and thickened.
  3. Scrape the excess off of the blender into the container and gently mix it in, along with any oil that may remain on the top. Cover and allow it to sit at room temperature for at least an hour before refrigerating.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 98 calories, 10.5g total fat, 11.3mg cholesterol, 65.3mg sodium, 4.7mg potassium, 1.3g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 1.1g sugar, <1g protein

Spicy Lamb and Bacon Meatballs

TGIF.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Personal (read: unbloggable) life keeps rolling on, eating up a lot of my time, but at least I’m not bored.  At any rate, I do have a really tasty recipe for you today.

If you were at all wondering what to do with any leftover ground lamb/liver/bacon from the Lamb Dirty Rice – and there will be – this recipe is it.

Boy, is it…it.

I’ve gotten to the point where, if I want The G Man to eat something he doesn’t like (anything that resembles a vegetable, for example), I hide it in meatloaf or meatballs.  The Young One, too – he absolutely loathes zucchini and summer squash, but he’ll scarf it down if I shred it and stick it in a meatloaf.  This recipe hides nutrient-dense liver – you can’t even tell it’s there, with all the bacon and spices.

These come together really quickly, are ready in less than 20 minutes and simply just delicious.  You can use just about any ground meat/liver from the appropriate animal you like, too (chicken, beef, pork) – the bacon keeps the meatballs moist and you can adjust the spices to suit your personal tastes.

These would be quite good served with the Red Onion Jam I posted earlier this week.

Note:  Make sure your bacon is “clean” and these are Whole30 compliant.  (Oh, look – I still do that.)

Spicy Lamb and Bacon Meatballs. Easy and nutritious, your family will never guess what's hiding in these delicious little meatballs.

Click the image to enlarge

Spicy Lamb and Bacon Meatballs
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces ground lamb
  • 3 ounces lamb liver, finely chopped
  • 6 ounces bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large bowl, gently combine all of the ingredients until well mixed. Form into 16 meatballs of equal size, and place on the slotted top of a broiler pan.
  3. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until no longer pink in the center. Serve with [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/red-onion-jam/” target=”_blank”]Red Onion Jam[/url].
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 428 calories, 35.3g total fat, 195.7mg cholesterol, 902.48mg sodium, 346.5mg potassium, 5.3g carbohydrates, 1.1g fiber, <1g sugar, 21g protein

 

Scallops with Meyer Lemon Pan Sauce

As foretold yesterday, I have a scallop/Meyer lemon recipe today. Huzzah!

You know, all those people who unsubscribed because I’m “no longer relevant,” what with my lentils and quinoa and photos of crocus, are going to be disappointed that they missed this one.  It may not be Whole30 compliant, but it’s pretty straight-forward paleo/primal, and it’s absotively-effing delicious.  To say nothing of quick and drop-dead simple.

Oh, well.  Their loss.

Anyhoo, Meyer lemons.  I’d heard of them, but had never actually seen one until last week when I chanced upon a small bag of them at the local supermarket.  I eagerly bought it and left it on the counter while Beloved and I traipsed down to southern Ohio for an extended weekend of dominoes, hot tubs and other middle-aged fun and games (ahem).

I thought the Meyers, which are believed to be a hybrid of standard lemons and mandarin oranges, giving them a deep yellow color and sweeter, more floral flavor than your average, run-of-the-mill lemon, would be fine.  After all, I buy citrus all the time in season and it all does quite well sitting on the counter for several days.

Meyer lemons, not so much, unfortunately – all but one of them were beginning to rot when we returned on Monday.  Disappointed, visions of Meyer lemon goodies in the form of pies and pound cake quickly banished, I salvaged the one good fruit and began to wonder what I could do with it.

Once I’d remembered the scallops, it was easy.

Our butchers, Whitefeather Meats, have recently found a good source of wild, sustainably caught seafood, and last week we were pleased to see scallops in the seafood case.  They’re my absolutely favorite shellfish, so we bought them eagerly and when faced with no leftovers for lunch yesterday I decided it was time to consume them – pan-seared, they take all of about 8 minutes.  Coming up with the sauce took little time, and served with leftover Roasted Root Vegetable Hash, we were eating lunch in the comfort of our home 15 minutes later.

Let me just say, the Meyer lemon pan sauce is outstanding – I was literally licking it out of the pan as I cleaned up afterward.  It would be great on shrimp as well as chicken, so if you don’t do shellfish you can still make it and it will still be outstanding.

No Meyer lemons?  No problem – this would work well with your regular, garden-variety lemons, although you might want to increase the amount of honey and/or butter slightly, to keep it from being too acidic (which is the whole point of the honey and butter in the first place).

Scallops with Meyer Lemon Pan Sauce.  So simple and easy, but impressive enough for company!

Click the image to enlarge

Scallops with Meyer Lemon Pan Sauce
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 pound sea scallops
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • the juice and grated zest of 1 Meyer lemon
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon honey, or to taste
Instructions
  1. Rinse the scallops and pat them dry; sprinkle both sides liberally with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a wide, heavy skillet over medium-high heat until the butter begins to foam.
  3. Place the scallops in the skillet and cook until lightly browned but still opaque in the center, about 3 minutes per side. Remove to a plate; cover and keep warm.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking the liquid in the pan until it becomes a light golden color, stirring frequently, about 1 minute. Stir in the lemon juice, scraping up any brown bits, then the zest, rosemary and honey. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the sauce is reduced and almost syrupy (this should take less than a minute). Remove from the heat and stir in the butter until melted.
  5. Plate the scallops and drizzle with the Meyer lemon sauce. Serve immediately.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 211 calories, 13.2g total fat, 42.5mg cholesterol, 446.6mg sodium, 279mg potassium, 11g carbohydrates, 1.4g fiber, 4.3g sugar, 14.1g protein

Pressure Cooker Venison Chili

Look!  Two recipes in one week!  I must be on a roll.

For those of you who may not know, I was once a professional cake decorator.  It’s a hobby now (you can find photos of some of the cakes I’ve done here on the blog if you do a search for “cake” and sift through the recipes), and I enjoy doing it – so much so that I’ve recently acquired an airbrush and a very nice caddy for my supplies.  Which beats dragging a huge box off the top of the freezer in the garage and digging through it when I need something, let me tell you.

At any rate, the son of our beef farmer is getting married this year and I offered to do the wedding and groom’s cakes.  As payment, I received a box of approximately 50 pounds of mule deer and antelope meat after their hunting trip to Wyoming last fall.

I love the barter system.

We’ve slowly been working our way through all of this wonderful game, revisiting some of our favorite venison recipes.  The antelope is just wonderful – flavorful and sweet; the mule deer, however, is a bit different from the Ohio whitetail to which we’re accustomed.  It definitely has a “gamey” flavor.  Not bad, just kind of strong.

There are things you can do to mitigate the strong, “wild” flavor typical of some game meats.  One is to soak it, either in milk or a good marinade, for several hours before cooking (coconut milk works fine if you have problems with dairy).  Another is to cook it with bold spices and other strong flavors.  I did both with this dish, soaking the venison in milk before preparing it in the pressure cooker.

The result was a spicy, complex and deeply flavored chili, without any hint of gaminess, that is simply delicious.  The coffee and chocolate were inspired additions which contributed to the rich and complex flavor, but it seemed a bit bitter when I tasted it before locking the lid on the pressure cooker, hence the addition of the honey.  You can certainly leave it out if you prefer.

Like most chili and stews, this is even better the next day.  Of course, you can use beef in place of the venison if you like.

Note: If you don’t own a pressure cooker, you can cook this in a cast iron Dutch oven (either enameled or plain) on the stove.  Once all of the ingredients have been added to the pot, cover and simmer until the meat is tender, about 1 1/2 hours, then cook uncovered for another 30 minutes or so, or until the chili has thickened to the desired consistency.

Pressure Cooker Venison Chili.  Rich, delicious chili for dinner on a weeknight?  Break out the pressure cooker!

Pressure Cooker Venison Chili
Serves: 4 to 6
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds venison stew meat, cut into 2″ cubes
  • 2 tablespoons grass-fed tallow
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 large jalapeño peppers, finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cups beef stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 cup brewed coffee
  • 2 ounces high-quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons honey (optional)
Instructions
  1. Heat the tallow in a 4- to 6-quart pressure cooker over high heat. Sprinkle the venison liberally with salt and pepper and add to the lard; cook, stirring frequently, until the meat is nicely browned.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions, peppers and jalapeno. Continue cooking until the onion has softened, about 5 more minutes. Stir in the remaining ingredients.
  3. Lock the lid of the pressure cooker in place and increase the heat to high until the cooker reaches full pressure (15 psi). Reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and do a quick release of the pressure.
  4. Carefully remove the lid from the pressure cooker. Stir; bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until the chili has thickened to the desired consistency. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed before serving.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 352 calories, 13.3g total fat, 32.2mg cholesterol, 299.9mg sodium, 670.5mg potassium, 22.6g carbohydrates, 4.2g fiber, 12.4g sugar, 37.8g protein