Thursday, August 26, 2010

Jam On It

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia! You will be cursing me by the end of this post, because that commercial will be stuck in your head for all eternity. Who hasn’t been blessed with a Chia Pet, purchased lovingly at a local Walgreens or Big Lots just for you? Well, my friends, the joke is on the gift giver! Chia seeds are actually an edible superfood; full of essential fatty acids and antioxidants, to name a few. I’ve been using them as an alternative to flaxseed and have discovered they are a perfect thickener in certain recipes. I decided to try them in homemade jam and loved the results. You can adjust the maple syrup depending on your taste preference. I bet a pinch of cinnamon would taste great too! Use the jam as a spread on scones; try spooning it into your yogurt or oatmeal.

Fresh Mixed Berry Jam

3 cups fresh berries (I used strawberries, raspberries and blueberries)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons real maple syrup (you may want to add more if you prefer a sweeter jam)

½ cup apple or any type of fruit juice

2 tablespoons chia seeds

Mix chia seeds into fruit juice and let soak until juice thickens, at least 30 minutes. It should be gelatinous; you can add more seeds if necessary. In a blender or food processer, combine the seed mixture, berries, lemon juice and syrup. Pulse a couple of time or until you achieve your desired consistency. Pour into a bowl and chill. Makes approx. 3 cups

I want my baby back, baby back, baby back ribs….

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

You like tomato, I like tomahto

Have you ever considered yourself to be lycopene deficient? The only way to combat such a problem is to attend an heirloom tomato tasting, which I did over the weekend. One of my two “must do” food events of the year, Tomato To-mah-to is a local event sponsored by the Connecticut Slow Food chapter. Located on the Upper Forty Farm in Cromwell and featuring over 100 varieties of tomatoes, it’s a fitting way to celebrate summer. As if that isn’t quite enough, there are several area chefs creating dishes featuring tomatoes along with Connecticut food artisans. Dill Cheesecake from the Pond House, Green Tomato Pie at Bloodroot, Beltane Farms cheese, were some of the standouts this year.

If you’ve never tried an heirloom tomato, you are missing out. Forget about your usual supermarket tomato; heirloom varieties come in a rainbow of colors, an incredible range of flavors, name and sizes. How about a tiny version in a husk that tastes like a pineapple? Or a vibrant green tomato called "Green Chile" with a crisp, almost apple-like flavor? Leave the dress at home, all you need is a dash of olive oil for your "Nebraska Wedding". It’s not too late to enjoy them either, check out your local farm market. As we left the festival, bags full of bread, cheese and vegetables, we looked forward to the annual "post festival" supper....a glorious tribute to the carefree days of summer.

Green Tomato Pie - served at Bloodroot - this dish is incredible!!

A savory dish that appears to be Pennsylvania Dutch in origin. Proportions are hard to be specific about in this recipe since it depends on how big your pan is and how many green tomatoes you have. From Roberta (Sage) of A Woman's Place, Athol, NY

1) Make pie crust (see recipe index) using 9 c. white flour, 2 1/4 t. salt, 1 lb. plus 1/2 stick sweet butter, 2/3 c. vegetable shortening, and 1 1/2 c. ice water.

2) Using a large pan, for example, one 11" x 17", roll out enough pie crust to fit and line pan.

3) Thickly slice 8-10 very hard green tomatoes, removing stem end.

4) Slice 2 very large onions and sauté in fry pan in 1/2 stick sweet butter
5) Slice 1 lb. Swiss cheese and 1 lb. Muenster cheese.

6) Sprinkle pie crust lined pan with bread crumbs. Layer tomato slices, cheeses and sautéed onions in pan. Sprinkle with coarse salt and lots of fresh ground pepper. AIso sprinkle over about 2Tb. brown sugar. Repeat layers until ingredients are used up. Top with more bread crumbs and a sprinkle of wine vinegar.

7) Roll out crust to top pie. Crimp edges and slash. Bake at 375° until brown. When it begins to brown, the top crust can be brushed with milk to glaze it. Leftover portions can be reheated in an oven or toaster oven.

Serves 10-12

Monday, August 2, 2010

Who Can It Be Now?

Ding Dong! What? There’s no one at the door? That’s because your neighbor just dropped a bag of zucchini on your doorstep and ran like hell! Now what are you going to do? You are going to bake, that’s what! Not your usual zucchini bread, how about Chocolate Zucchini Cake? Oh yeah. I make this every summer, just like my grandmother did. It’s a cross between cake and a brownie, rich and moist. I don’t frost it, preferring to eat plain or with vanilla ice cream. There are few ingredients and after whipping up a few batches, you might want to invite your neighbor in for coffee and cake next time.


1/2 cup applesauce
1 1/4 cups white sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded zucchini

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan; then lightly “flour” the pan with cocoa.

In a large bowl, mix together the applesauce, sugar and vanilla until well blended. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl; stir into the sugar mixture. Fold in the zucchini and spread evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake for about 25 minutes, brownies will spring back when touched.
Cut into squares and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream! They also freeze very well.