Spring has finally arrived so the chickens and ducks have started laying again, which means it is time to start making more egg based dishes.
Today I made a family favorite — chocolate egg custard. This tasty dish is light, sweet and creamy. Best of all it uses a limited number of ingredients and only takes about 10 minutes mix at 45 minutes to cook, which makes the custard a great weeknight treat. The recipe for the custard is as follows.
4 cup milk (I use 2%)
6 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup cocoa powder
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Heat the milk in a large saucepan until bubbles form around the edges. Remove from the burner and set aside.
Add the eggs, sugar, vanilla, salt, and cocoa to a blinder and give it a few pulses until blended.
Turn the blender to a low speed and gradually add the warmed milk to the egg mixture.
Pour the custard into a 9×13 casserole dish or 9 custard cups.
Place the dish or cups in a large roasting pan and fill the pan with enough water to rehash about an inch from the top.
Bake for about 45 minutes or until the custard has just set.
The winter squash harvest is starting to come in. Unfortunately, the squirrels have reeked havoc on crops this year. Many summer and winter squash were eaten prior to maturity or scared by their little nails. Some of the Hubbard squash grew to maturity but were to scared for long term storage and needed to be processed immediately. I used one of these squash to make our first pie for the season since Hubbard, butternut, buttercup squash and pumpkin are interchangeable in pies and quick breads.
The recipe that I used is as follows. I hope that your family enjoys it as much as mine does.
1 medium Hubbard squash
1/2 stick butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 unbaked pie crust
Maple Whipped Cream, optional, recipe follows
Maple Whipped Topping:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Preheat oven to 350 degree F.
Slice into quarters, seed and bake squash for 1 hour in the oven on a baking sheet. When done, let cool.
Scrape the pulp out of the skin, transfer to a large bowl, and mash. Set 4 cups of the mash aside.
In a medium bowl, beat together butter, sugar, and brown sugar until creamy. Add eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and salt.
Add evaporated milk and stir mixture into squash. Beat together with mixer until smooth and pour into an unbaked pie shell.
Bake on bottom rack of oven for 1 hour or until center of pie is firm. Serve warm. Add dollop of whipped cream if desired.
Maple Whipped Topping:
In a medium bowl, beat together whipping cream and confectioners’ sugar. Add maple syrup. Beat together until soft peaks form.
Dinner tonight is fresh from the garden. Tomato herb tart topped with fresh goat cheese, and a bowl of mixed greens.
The tart is made with a herb crust that was blind baked for 20 minutes so it stayed crispy. After letting the crust rest for 10 minutes I topped it with chopped mixed herbs, sliced tomatoes, fresh goat milk feta, basil salt, pepper, and finished the layers with a drizzle of olive oil. Then baked the tart at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. The resulting tart had a flaky crisp crust and juicy topping.
With the very warm wet summer this year we have a bumper crop of green beans, tomatoes and eggplant. This morning I used 12 pounds of our tomatoes and 4 pounds of eggplant to make some lovely jars of aubergine pasta sauce.
The recipe I use is as follows. Please keep in mind that the canning method is the one that I use in my house. Please follow the canning method and times that are appropriate for your household.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion , chopped
6 garlic cloves , chopped
1 large bell pepper , chopped
2 lbs eggplants, cubed
8 cups tomatoes , peeled & cubed
1/4 cup tomato powder or 1-6 ounce can of tomato paste
4 tablespoons fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons dry oregano
1/3 cup date sugar (can substitute brown sugar)
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 cup dry red wine
In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.
Add onion and garlic; cook until the onion is soft.
Add tomatoes, eggplant, bell pepper, tomato paste, basil, oregano, hot pepper flakes, sugar, salt, pepper, and wine; stir.
Bring to boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Blend mixture with an emersion blender.
Put into hot jars and add prepared lids and rings. Screw rings on until finger tight.
Process in hot water bath for 40 minutes.
No matter how much canning I do, the reduction in volume when fresh produce is processed always amazes me.
The hard never ending rains this summer required that we use everything that we are able to harvest this year. This morning I picked carrots, green beans, egg plant, tomatoes and cabbage. The cabbage is now sliced seasoned and in the crock to ferment. Carrots, egg plant and green beans will be prepped for the dehydrator – I really prefer dehydrated veggies in winter soups and stews.
This morning carrot greens were turned into pesto – several batches for the freezer and one put aside for a pasta dish on Sunday.
Our gardens are starting to produce fairly well so I have been doing a lot of canning and dehydrating of vegetables, which has also produces a lot veggie scraps. By the end of this weekend I had enough to fill a large crockpot and make a batch of vegitable broth this afternoon.
I find that making my own vegitable broth saves us a fair amount of money and taste better than any brand I have found in the market. To make your own broth fill a slow cooker with vegitable scraps. For this batch I used onion, mushroom stems, celery, tomatoes, beets, kale stems, broccoli, cabbage, carrot tops, and green bean tips (keep in mind that you can always store scraps in the freezer until you have enough to make a batch of broth). Cover the scraps with water until it is about an inch above the scraps, add salt, pepper and herbs to the pot and cook on low for about 10-12 hours.
Run the cooked scrap mixture through press to render as much liquid as possible and then pour through a fine mesh seive to remove the larger vegitable particles that made it through the press.
Place the pressed scraps in to your compost container.
Pour the the warm broth into prepared canning jars and pressure cook for 75 minutes at the pressure recommended for pressure in your area.
We are currently living through the wettest summer in a good number of years. The upside is that we have not needed to water our crops in almost two months and we are seeing a bumper crop of all types of green beans, pinto beans and kale. The downside is our tomatoes are splitting, cabbage is starting to rot, and the pumpkins and butternut squash are slow to produce, and slugs are starting to become a real problem. In an effort to reduces some of the water related issues we have let the ducks loose in the fields to help with bugs, have been canning and running the dehydrators at least twice a week, covered every flat surface in the house with tomatoes that need to finish ripening, and cooking all types of kale and Swiss chard dishes. For dinner today I made a Pistachio, Farro and Kale Salad with hot water cornbread. The dish was very easy to make, used several items from our gardens and was very tasty. If you would like to try the salad recipe it can be found at https://dailyburn.com/life/recipes/farro-kale-salad-recipe/
We have finally arrived at the Time in the growing season hat we can eat mainly out of our gardens. This morning I picked eggplant, sweet peppers, green beans, tomatoes and onions. A number of the fresh veggies noted earlier, and a block of tofu made by a local farm were used to create a Sriracha-spiced Stir-Fried tofu with eggplant and red bell peppers for dinner. There is nothing quite like the taste of garden ripened produce to make a very memorable meal.
If you would like to try this dish the base recipe can be found on Kalyn’s blog.
I made some minor adjustments to her recipe to fit what I had available in my gardens. I replaced the Thai basil with fresh Italian basil, the green onion with a freshly picked shallot, peanut oil with canola oil, and stevia with maple syrup. I also sliced the fried garlic and added it back to the dish at the same time as the sauce was added,
Between other cooking and canning projects I restocked the pantry with some speciality crackers. These cranberry hazelnut rainforest crackers are full of protein and fiber and have some rich flavor in every bite. I like to make these crackers when I have to be in the kitchen because they take two days to complete from start to finish. Not that they are difficult to make, but there is a fair amount of wait time between the mixing of the batter and the actual production of the cracker.
Generally a batter is made, poured into mini bread pans then baked. The cool beard is then placed in the refrigerator over night so that it easer to slice. The next day the bread is sliced very thinly and placed on dehydrator trays. The slices are then dehydrated on the jerky settinguntil Crisp (in my dehydrator this takes about 4 hours).
These crispy, slightly sweet treats are wonderful served with almost any type of soft cheese. The recipe that I use can be found on the Wives with Knives blog. This recipe will makes a little over six dozen crackers.
One of the things that I like to to do is package the finished crackers into appetizer size packages and store them in the pantry so they can be brought out when unexpected guest arrive or for that special family meal. If you would rather have small batches of crackers on hand, then just freeze the baked breads and defrost and prepare the crackers on an as needed basis.
If you try the recipe noted above I strongly suggest that you use a dehydrator instead of the oven to dry the crisps. This will reduce the time needed to watch an oven, address any uneven thickness in the slices, and do away with any possibly of the sugars in the crisps burning.
My wonderful honey volunteered me to make a desert for the monthly community choir board meeting. So I made one of my standby deserts that is always receive well, fruity oatmeal cookie bars. Not only is this desert quick and easy to make but it uses few ingredients and allows me to use up some of the jam I can each year.
Today I used a cherry pie jam I made and canned last year as the center in the bars. Please excuse the plastic Christmas tray in the first picture. Over the years I have learned to only send food items on trays I don’t mind loosing, since the love of my life often forgets to bring them home from events.
The recipe I use is:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt (omit if you are using salted butter)
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 small container of homemade jam or 3/4 cup of store bought jam
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease an 8 inch pan and line it with parchment paper
Combine brown sugar, flour, baking soda, salt and rolled oats. Rub in butter with your hands to form a crumbly mixture
Press 2 cups of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan
Spread the jam to within /4 inch of the edge
Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over the top, and lightly press it into the jam
Bake 35 to 40 minutes in preheated oven until lightly brown
This morning I needed to stay in the kitchen while the pressure cooker processed our first batch of green beans for the season, so I baked a gluten-free double chocolate banana bread. The bread is easy to make and allowed me to use some of the almond pulp in my freezer from making almond milk and a couple of overripe bananas. An added bonus to this recipe is that it is only about 155 calories per slice and contains very little fat.
Point your browser to http://thetoastedpinenut.com/double-chocolate-banana-bread/ If you are interested in trying the recipe.
This time of year our chickens start producing a lot of eggs and there is a lot of milk avalable, so I make a lot of old fashioned recipes for family and friends. One recipe that I make often is egg custard. It only takes about five minutes to prepare, uses simple ingredients, and if made in single serving container can be pulled out and dressed up for guests.
My family likes the custard plain with a healthy sprinkle of nutmeg on top. For guests it can be pulled out of the refrigator, topped with fresh seasonal fruit and some fresh whipped cream. Some of my favorite fruit toppings are blueberries, raspberries and strawberries in simple syrup.
The custard recipe that I use is:
4 cups milk (room tempature)
6 large eggs (room tempature)
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
fresh ground nutmeg
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Place all of the ingridents in a blinder and mix until will incorporated.
Pour mixture into 8-one cup baking dishes or a 9×13 inch pan. Place in a large pan with enough water to reach about 1 inch from the top of the custard dish(s).
Sprinkle a bit more nutmeg on the top of each dish.
Bake for about 45 minutes or until the custard has just set. Be careful not to over cook.
Cool custard then cover and refrigerate. Will keep for 5-7 days in refrigerator.