Archive for October, 2012

cabbage soup

Whenever I make cabbage soup I always end up adding other vegetables. The end result is very good but it doesn’t have a very strong cabbage flavor. Because I love cabbage so much, this time I decided to keep it simple and only use cabbage with a few spices.

For other cabbage soup recipes please visit The Giant Cabbage.  I came across this interesting blog on cabbage recipes, a collection of more than 200 cabbage recipes by Cherie Stihler.



8 cups stock (heated)

olive oil

chopped onion

chopped garlic

salt / pepper to taste

chopped parsley and basil

chopped red pepper

1 head of cabbage shredded

In a large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium heat

Stir in onion and garlic, cook until onion is nicely browned

Add cabbage and cook until half done, turning frequently

Add red pepper and cook another minute

Add parsley, basil and salt and pepper, turn until blended

Add stock and cook until done

Taste and add more seasoning if needed

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stuffed banana squash

Recipe Template: Easy and delicious stuffed squash from theKitchn

With so many beautiful and unusual squashes available right now, we can’t seem to come home from the market without at least one new variety to try! Happily, stuffed squash is one dish that will work for just about any squash we happen to pick up. We don’t really need a recipe – just a few basic steps and dinner almost makes itself!

One squash the size of a grapefruit or a little larger is usually enough for two people. All these instructions are written with this in mind, but it’s easy enough to multiply everything to feed more people. In fact, stuffed squash is an easy and elegant dish to serve at a dinner party, particularly since it can be easily adapted to for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians.

1. Prepare and Cook the Squash

Pre-heat the oven to 375°F.

Wash the outside of the squash to remove any dirt or loose particle, then cut it in half through the stem using a very sharp knife. Use a slicing motion rather than a chopping motion to saw through the tough skin and flesh. Scoop out the sides and fibers from the inside hollow.

Rub the squash halves all over with olive oil and sprinkle the insides with a little salt. Lay them cut-side down in a shallow baking dish and pour about 1/4 inch of water into the bottom of the pan.

Put the squash in the oven and roast until the the squash is completely tender all the way through when poked with a knife. This will take 30-45 minutes depending on the type and thickness of the squash. Carefully remove the squash using spatulas and pour off the water. Return the squash to the baking dish cut-side up, so they look like bowls.

2. Prepare the Filling While the Squash is Roasting
Now comes the fun part! The filling can be just about anything you can imagine and can also be a great way to use up stray vegetables and other ingredients lingering in your fridge and pantry.

We follow this basic formula:
1 Cup Grain + 1/2 Cup Meat/Other Protein + 1 Cup Veggies + 1-3 Teaspoons Herbs/Spices

You want about one cup of cooked grain – brown, white, or wild rice, quinoa, farro, barley, bulgur, etc. For most of these grains, that means starting out with 1/2 – 3/4 cup dried grain. For this small amount, we prefer to cook the grain in a large amount of salted boiling water until it’s tender and then drain it in a strainer, as we would pasta.

To the cooked grain, add about a half-cup of cooked meat. We love sausage for its sweet-spicy flavor and chewy texture. Veal, ham, slab bacon, shredded pork or chicken, or even ribbons of prosciutto would also be good. For vegetarians, think about baked tofu, cubes of seitan, or sautéed mushrooms.

Next, add about a cup of cooked vegetables. We almost always use an onion as the base and add whatever other vegetables or greens we have on-hand. Cook them just until they’re soft and fragrant.

Finally, add your seasonings! Think about the other flavors going into your stuffing and choose herbs and spices to match. For fresh herbs like sage, thyme, or rosemary, we add about a tablespoon, minced. For dried spices, we start with 1 teaspoon and go from there. As always, taste the finished stuffing and adjust the seasonings as needed.

Oh, and the extras! We love extras! Toasted nuts, dried fruit, and cubes of cheese add wonderful flavor and texture, especially if you don’t have quite enough of one of the other components.

3. Stuff the Squashes
Season the well of the squash with salt, pepper, and a bit of whatever seasonings you’ve used in the stuffing. Sometimes, we also like to rub the inside with brown sugar!

Pack the filling into the squashes until they’re completely filled. Tent the baking dish loosely with foil and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes until the stuffing is warmed throughout.

If desired, sprinkle a little shredded cheese on the top before digging in!

Stuffed Squash: Recipe Template Summary

Serves 2

1 squash, grapefruit- to cantaloupe-sized (1-3 pounds)
1 cup cooked grain
1/2 cup cooked meat or other protein
1 cup cooked vegetables
1-3 teaspoons herbs or other spices
1/4 cup extras, like nuts or dried fruit

Bake the squash at 375°F. Meanwhile, prepare and combine the rest of the ingredients. Stuff the squashes and bake an additional 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese and enjoy!


pink banana squash

Information from Specialty Produce

Current Facts
Banana squash is a member of the winter squash family and of the species Cucurbita maxima, the most diverse domesticated and cultivated species of squash in the world. There are far more than one single cultivar of banana squash, including Pink and Blue Banana squash varieties, hybrid varieties (often labeled as “Rainbow”) and the highly regarded heirloom varieties, Sibley and Pike’s Peak. Regardless of what variety you knowingly or unknowingly choose, banana squash are considered top tier among all winter squash.

Banana squash are cylindrical in shape and imposing in size, reaching up to 2 to 3 feet in length and averaging 8″ in diameter. Though the average weight is about ten pounds, a heavy banana squash can weigh up to 35 pounds. Their thick-walled rind, when ripe is salmon pink in color. The flesh: thick, firm, dense and meaty with a true pumpkin orange color. Regardless of the monumental size of the squash itself, its seed cavity holds few and small seeds. The cooked flesh of the banana squash is fragrant, rich and earthy sweet.

As banana squash is a true winter squash variety, it can be used in place of other orange-flesh colored winter squash varieties such as butternut and kabocha. Banana squash is in its perfect culinary element when roasted and added to soups and stews. It can be thinly shaved and added to fresh salad greens or used as a topping for pizzas. Banana squash favors the pairing of rich and bold partners such as butter, creme fraiche, aged sheep’s cheeses, cream, pork belly, lamb and truffles. The best herb and spice pairings include thyme, bay, sage, rosemary, cumin, curry, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. Proper storage conditions can extend the post-vine life of Banana Squash, as well as winter squash in general, for up to six months. The best way to lengthen the post-harvest is to store them in a cool (50 to 60 Degrees Fahrenheit) unlit area with relative humidity.

Banana squash can trace its origins back to South America. Seeds from an archeological site in Peru matched the distinct identity of today’s banana cultivar. It would be traded and traveled to other regions within the Americas, yet maintain its identity as a true New World crop. The family of banana squashes were introduced into the United States by R.H. Shumway in 1893. Though the Shumway seed catalog would be the initial banana squash orientation within the U.S., other seed catalogs would soon follow and by the early 20th century the banana squash was becoming a popular winter squash variety. Somehow, though, it would eventually fall out of favor to modern winter squash commonplace varieties such as butternut and acorn squash and simply more fashionable squashes such as baking pumpkins. Most banana squash variety seeds are housed among heirloom seed savers and rarely find themselves in the commercial marketplace. Perhaps a secondary reason is that the Banana Squash require long periods of warm season weather to reach maturity, often staying on the vine for up to 120 days, requiring over a half-year to cultivate and making for a mere single crop annually.


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These stuffed potatoes not only look great but they were very good. Maila and Marilou add a little touch of Philippino cuisine to everything they cook and it always turns out fabulous.

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On my weekly visit to Jean Talon Market , yesterday, I came across these beautiful still perfect shepherd peppers. Last week I froze half a bushel so I decided to cut these up in strips, season them and roast them in the oven.

I didn’t time the roasting, but I checked them quite often. I wanted them roasted but not mushy.

Once done and cooled, I put them in jars, added a little olive oil and put the jars in the freezer. Do not fill the jars to the top. Allow headspace, ½-inch from the top. The headspace allows foods to expand during freezing and prevents the jar from breaking or the food from pushing through the lid.

Read more on How to Freeze Food in Glass Jars

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tarte au jambon fumé

smoked ham pie in a rice crust

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kale pesto


What’s New and Beneficial About Kale

Freshly picked kale from Lisa’s vegetable garden ready to be made into kale pesto.

blanched kale

kale pesto in small tupperware ready to be frozen


2 bunches of kale, thick stems removed and discarded, leaves shredded

1 cup parsley

1 cup basil

1 whole head of garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup pine nuts, almonds or walnuts (toasted)

1 cup olive oil


Blanch the kale in boiling salted water for about 3 minutes

Chill in a cold water bath, drain and squeeze excess water

Add all ingredients, except oil, to a food processor, process until roughly chopped then drizzle in your olive oil


I add parmesan cheese if I use the pesto right away. If I make a batch to freeze, I leave out the cheese and add it in when I use the pesto in a recipe.


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eggplant balls

There are several ways you can prepare the eggplants for this recipe. Boiled, stir fried or roasted. I stir fried them with some sliced onions until soft. You can prepare the eggplants the day before and refrigerate them until needed. The balls can be fried or baked. Also if you skip the rolling in the breadcrumbs you can steam them the same way as dumplings. These may be served hot or cold, in a tomato sauce as a side dish or if you make them smaller you can add them to soups.


ingredients (about 20 balls)

to prepare eggplants

olive oil

1 chopped onion

3 large eggplants

to prepare balls

eggplant mixture

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

chopped parsley and basil

2 or 3 eggs depending on size

3 garlic cloves crushed

salt and pepper to taste

dry bread crumbs for rolling balls before baking

Preheat oven to 350* 

Clean the eggplants, peel them and slice them into strips

Stir fry the onion until translucent, add the eggplants and cook until soft

When cool, chop the eggplant in a food processor or mash with a fork

In a bowl combine the eggplant mixture with the parmesan cheese, garlic, basil, parsley, eggs and  season with salt and pepper

Wet your hands with a little water and shape the eggplant mixture into balls

Roll them in the breadcrumbs

Place them on a non-stick oven tray and bake them for 25 minutes until deep golden brown and slightly crusty


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The recipe for the pumpkin pie was taken in

When you buy your pumpkin, make sure that it’s a pie pumpkin. There is a difference.

Pie pumpkins are smaller, they have more flesh with a smaller cavity inside and fewer seeds.

Jack-o-lantern pumpkins are bigger and because they’re grown for size, the flesh is stringier and are more watery.


Making pumpkin puree

Rinse the pumpkin well 

Make a cut on the top, as if you are carving it for halloween

Scoop up all the seeds

Replace the top

Rub it with some olive oil and bake in a 350* oven for one to one and a half hours

When done and it has cooled, spoon out the flesh and puree


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I pickled two zucchini rampicanti exactly the same way as the eggplant.

These zucchinis are not like the regular zucchinis. They are more firm and do not soften, so they are perfect for pickling.

zucchini sliced in strips

boiled zucchini in wine vinegar, drying for 1 to 2 hours

pickled zucchini rampicanti preserved  in mason jars

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If you like eggplants and haven’t yet tried preserving them in oil, please give it a try. The finished product makes an excellent pizza topping, pasta or salad add-in, or can simply be placed on top of toasted bruschetta or add a few strips to your favorite sandwiches. You can also mash or puree the eggplant add some of the oil and additional salt and pepper together to make a quick dip. The added bonus is the flavored olive oil you are left with to use for stir fries or simply as garnish for salads.


Wash, dry, peel (or not) and cut in strips

Toss these with plenty of salt, then set them in a colander inside a large bowl to drain overnight in the fridge.  They will shed lots of liquid

Drain eggplant, use your hands to  press as much remaining liquid out of the eggplant as you can


This tip was given to me by my good friend Rosalba. She takes a clean pillowcase and fills it up with the eggplant, closes the pillowcase securely with ribbon or string and places it in the washer on the spin cycle for about 10 minutes. The eggplant comes out perfect and ready for the next step

Fill a large saucepan with vinegar, bring to a boil and blanch eggplant for 2 minutes

Drain and cool on a cotton cloth for about 2 hours


Chop some garlic, parsley and basil

Place the eggplants into a large bowl, and stir in olive oil, garlic, basil and parsley. Blend well until all ingredients are well distributed

Transfer to sterile 1 pint or 1/2 pint jars

Make sure to fill the jars to the top. Wipe the rims with a clean dry cloth, and seal tightly with new lids

Let the flavors mellow for at least a week, preferably longer

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