Tag Archives: recipe

Applesauce Brownies

Thank you Trenton Farmers’ Market.

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Where else can you buy a bag of apples for $6 the day before Thanksgiving?

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There were also 55 apples in the bag, but who’s counting.

It took me exactly 30 minutes to peel the 55 apples, which means I peeled about 1.8 apples/minute, but again, numbers.

What is important is that with this many apples, you can make a fair amount of applesauce.

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How much applesauce, you might ask? Ah yes, another number!

Several numbers actually. By the time I had finished making the applesauce, it was time to eat Thanksgiving dinner at my parents’ house. So I borrowed a tape measure from my mom and made a few quick measurements. And then a week later, I did the calculations, and made some new art math.

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Yes, that’s right. I made a gallon and a half of applesauce.

The great thing about applesauce, though, is that you don’t have to make 194 ounces to enjoy it. You can make as much or as little as you like, it’s really easy to make (one ingredient!), and it tastes so good and naturally sweet. If you’ve never made it, give it a try – here’s the recipe.

Applesauce

  • 10 apples (or more)
  • (Optional) 1/4 cup apple cider or water
  • (Optional) Cinnamon
  1. Peel the apples
  2. Chop the apples into pieces (discard the cores)
  3. (Optional) Add the apple cider or water to a pot
  4. Add the chopped apples to the pot and cook over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally
  5. Cook until the applesauce is the desired consistency (smooth, chunky, or in between)
  6. (Optional) Add a little cinnamon

As the apples heat up, they become soft and release some of their juices. Then they do all the work  themselves and cook themselves into applesauce. If you want to speed things up, you could add a little apple cider or water at the beginning, and you could also cook them covered for a bit. Towards the end, you could use a potato masher too, if what you want is smoother applesauce more quickly.

Whatever you do, make sure to stir the apples occasionally so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot and burn. There’s nothing like having to use a second or third pot on a single batch of applesauce, and then having to do a multiple-pot-cleaning (scrubbing) afterwards. I mean, hypothetically speaking of course 🙂 My last note is that all types of apples are good to use. For the sweetest, richest applesauce flavor, I’ll use several different types of apples together.

But what about the brownies? I thought there were going to be brownies! Applesauce Brownies!! And while we’re on the topic, what is an Applesauce Brownie???

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Yes, exactly! I was wondering what an Applesauce Brownie is too, so I made some.

I’d actually been wondering this for a while, as I remember having eaten them once as a kid and having been amazed that they tasted like brownies despite having applesauce in them. Lucky for me, I now had one of the main ingredients on hand, and in abundance. So into the kitchen I went: Curiosity plus surplus equals creation.

I looked up a brownie recipe in a printed cookbook, searched for applesauce brownie recipes online, and then on the advice that applesauce is a big ingredient in vegan baking, I searched for vegan applesauce brownies too.

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Applesauce brownie batter, Version one

The vegan suggestion, combined with my further searching, got me thinking. What is the fewest number of ingredients I could use and still end up with brownies? The Google auto-fill in the search bar was pointing me in this direction too, listing among other things the following:

  • Baking substitute applesauce for eggs
  • Baking substitute applesauce for butter
  • Baking substitute applesauce for oil

Could applesauce be that versatile? And in the same recipe??

I thought, Let’s find out! The short answer to both questions is yes. The long answer is it took me two tries to come up with a recipe that I liked. For the first version, I used the following: applesauce, cocoa powder, salt, sugar, vanilla, and flour. It turned out alright, but it also came out a little flat, literally, and had an interesting chocolately, apple tangy flavor.

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Version one (with b/g apples from a different purchase)

When making version two, I included the three ingredients I figured had been missing in version one: baking powder, baking soda, and chocolate. And the result?

So good.
So rich.
So chocolatey.

Here’s the recipe 🙂

Applesauce Brownies

  • 1 1/2 cups applesauce
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  1. Mix the applesauce, sugar, and vanilla
  2. Melt the chocolate, and add it to the applesauce mixture
  3. In another bowl, mix the flour, salt, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda
  4. Add the flour mixture to the applesauce mixture, and mix
  5. Lightly oil an 8″ x 8″ baking dish
  6. Add the batter to the baking dish
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40-45 minutes
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Love that chocolate melting

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And love that final chocolate brownie product

It’s not easy to predict the future, but I do believe mine will include the following: additional apple purchases, more applesauce making, and now also vegan applesauce brownie baking.

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And if you want, you can even have them side by side.

Thank you applesauce.

Espresso Lemon Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Espresso Lemon Chocolate Chip Banana Bread!

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Or as I like to call it lately, my housewarming gift. In the past month or so, I’ve made it three times, each time for a party. I’m not a big drinker, but I do like making and bringing food. And that food being dessert. And eating it 🙂

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I’m actually eating a few chocolate chips right now as my dessert. (Thanks, Dad.) The chocolate chips above and the ones that I’m having now are also leftovers from last spring when I made chocolate covered matzoh (also good). The chips were on sale, and I, well, may have bought several bags. They still taste good though.

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It also wouldn’t be Espresso Lemon Chocolate Chip Banana Bread without the lemon! We need the zest!! Plus, saying four rather than five words before getting to “Bread” would also not be as fun.

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And finally there’s the espresso powder. I’m currently working on a 11-ounce bag that still has the majority of its ounces despite a printed ‘best by’ date that’s best gone by. But hey, I’m not a big (coffee) drinker. I do like dessert though. And eating it 🙂

And with that, here’s the recipe!

Espresso Lemon Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 stick of butter
  • Zest from one lemon
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 Tbsp espresso powder

Steps

  1. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in one bowl
  2. Mix the sugar, butter, lemon zest, eggs, and bananas in another bowl (I used a handheld electronic mixer for this step; I also softened and cut the butter into pieces and cut the banana into pieces first)
  3. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture, and mix until smooth
  4. Add the chocolate chips and espresso powder, and mix them in
  5. Pour the mixture into a greased loaf pan
  6. Bake for about an hour at 375 degrees

(Adapted from the Banana Bread Cockaigne recipe in The Joy of Cooking. I changed a few measurements and also made the coffee and chocolate additions :))

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So far the feedback’s been very positive, as it also was a few months ago when an espresso powder and frozen blueberry brainstorm resulted in the similarly titled, Espresso Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake, which itself followed from the equally if not more awesome, Lemon Chocolate Chip Pound Cake.

The espresso powder definitely gives it something extra. It’s hard to place – sort of like a hearty, dense smoky sensation that doesn’t at the same time give it a smoky flavor. If you have two pans, make a double recipe with the espresso powder in one, and see what you think!

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And there it is, Espresso Lemon Chocolate Chip Banana Bread!

Yum!

Now to eat a few more chocolate chips 🙂

Tofu Cacciatore

Hi, my name is Dave, and I have something to say.

Tofu Cacciatore.

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Tofu cacciatore, in a pita pocket

Actually that’s only part of what what I have to say. As is often the case, there’s the food, the story, and the more of the story.

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The food and the story began a little over two weeks ago. I was trying to figure out what to make for the day-before-Valentine’s-Day potluck party that my friends were having. I wanted to make something new and different, but lacking full inspiration, I decided to go with Tofurky Sloppy Joes (in pitas with mozzarella). The night before the potluck, I got everything together and made it. When I tasted it, it was good, but it didn’t seem like anything special. It seemed like…Tofurky with homemade tomato sauce. It was done though, and ready to go.

I still had about an hour before I was going to go to sleep, so I started up another cooking project. Having just baked some tofu, I decided to try making tofu cacciatore, i.e., to try making something from the list I keep of new things to try, test out, refine, perfect, and then, after several tests, write about and finally share in their beautiful, glittering, and ‘Let’s make this right away because it’s ridiculously good’ final perfect form. That was the plan. But you know how plans can be – it’s not bad to have them (in fact it’s often good have them), but sometimes they don’t go…as planned. The key is to be open to adapting to change along the way.

The tofu cacciatore, on attempt #1, was actually pretty good. I wasn’t about to bring it to the party though because I’d made it only once. I didn’t even take notes or pictures along the way, as I figured I’d make it several more times before sharing it.

But come the next day, and the approach of the potluck hour, I was starting to feel a familiar struggle rising up, of, What should I do… Should I bring the Sloppy Joes, as already prepared and as planned? Or should I bring this other thing I happened to have, Tofu Cacciatore, which admittedly tastes better but isn’t perfect (isn’t what I imagined perfect would be, and not what I planned)? I stood there for 5-10 minutes, knowing that I had to choose and start heating one of them up. And then, without thinking too much, came a moment of clarity:

Bring the one you like more, the one you think other people will like more, the one that’s a little different, the one that’s more unique, the one that’s more you, the one that well it doesn’t matter if it’s not perfect because right now, in the moment, it’s pretty good, good enough, and more than good enough. It’s Tofu Cacciatore. What more is there to say?

So I brought the TC. 🙂

It’s great when a decision feels right. And people liked it too.

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Tofu Cacciatore

Ingredients

  • 1 lb firm tofu, cut into smaller pieces (about 1″ x 1/2″ x 1/2″)
  • 1 Tbsp each: olive oil, soy sauce, maple syrup, white wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil (in addition to the above)
  • 2 onions, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 Tbsp dried rosemary, diced
  • 1 Tbsp dried sage, diced
  • 2 peppers (any color), chopped roughly
  • 3 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 1/4 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Steps

  1. Prepare and bake the tofu
    • Mix the olive oil, soy sauce, maple syrup, and white wine vinegar (1 Tbsp each) in a bowl
    • Add the tofu pieces, and mix to coat them in the marinade
    • Arrange the tofu pieces on a baking sheet
    • Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees, flip the pieces, and then bake for another 15 minutes (30 minutes total)
    • Let the baked tofu cool for 5 minutes, and then chop roughly into smaller pieces
  2. Saute the onions and the herbs (rosemary and sage) in the olive oil (3 Tbsp) over medium heat until the onions are soft, about 20 minutes
  3. Add the peppers and garlic, and saute for another 10 minutes
  4. Add the broth and wine, and simmer for 10 minutes
  5. Add the baked tofu
  6. Add the crushed tomatoes, and simmer for 10 minutes
  7. Add whatever is left of the tofu marinade
  8. Add the salt and pepper

The first thing I love about this recipe is the baked tofu. Over the past few months, I’ve made a lot of it, and the above marinade/time/temp combo is a keeper. The way I’ve been making the tofu is quick too – cut it, coat it, place it, bake it. You can also use this baked tofu for stir fry or as a hot or cold snack by itself. If you want, you can also leave out the 1 Tbsp of white wine vinegar (to make it mildly sweet rather than mildly sweet-tart).

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In the marinade

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Out of the oven

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On the cutting board

A second part of the recipe that makes me smile is how, near the end, I add the extra marinade to the Tofu Cacciatore mix.

You might be saying, Uhh, soy sauce and maple syrup, in cacciatore???

The answer is, Yup! It’s only a small bit, and really, what else are you going to do with it 🙂

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If you have fresh herbs, they’re always good to use. I still have a lot of dried sage leaves from my garden (if anyone wants some, let me know!), so that’s what I used for the sage. Chopping the sage also came with a satisfying crunch-sound of the dried leaves folding under the knife and an equally satisfying, ever-so-slightly-delayed punch of potent sage aroma.

Since I hadn’t taken any pictures and didn’t remember all the quantities from the first time, I did end up making the recipe two more times a few days later.

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Peppers and garlic – Take 2

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Take 3

I didn’t bring any leftovers home from the potluck, but I did learn today that this version of Tofu Cacciatore also keeps for at least 12 days. (I may have, um, had the last of the Take 2 and 3 leftovers today. Shortly before taking the first photo above, the TC in a PP.)

Overall, it was a good recipe and experience. I modeled the Tofu Cacciatore recipe on the Chicken Cacciatore recipe that I used to make before I stopped cooking meat a few years ago, and that recipe was modeled in turn on the Joy of Cooking one. If there’s a TC 2.0 to in future, it might include the addition of more herbs (basil, oregano, and/or rosemary), flour (a browning and thickening ingredient from the past version), capers (also from the past), and mushrooms (maybe, maybe not; they’re not my favorite, but they are found in many a cacciatore recipe).

Admittedly, without the mushrooms, there’s no morel to the story 🙂 But, it does remain a story with food and more.

I’ve written before about letting go of trying to be and wanting things to be perfect – for instance, the reminder of how The reason is in the risotto – and there’s a bit of that reminder here too, with my new friend TC. Every reminder leads to a further shift in thinking, just like every day comes with something new to see, feel, think, and learn from. That was one of my thoughts as I was waking up today, along with the thought that it’s amazing that this post, what I’d be writing here, would be slightly different if I’d written it two weeks ago, one week ago, or even two days ago. Something new happens, is seen, and is felt all the time, and it’s a kitchen ripple. And I feel it. And just like the TC may change and evolve in the future, so too may I. Where we’re at now is good and right, and where we’ll be at later will be good too.

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In some ways, it feels like a repost.

And with food, it’s also a repast.

Knowing that everything builds over time, we can say too: every day that goes by is a new past.

And as we move forward, every day that we live in, and are a part of, is a new present.

New Potatoes

It’s a new year, and it’s time for some new potatoes.

For a new recipe, that is,
With potatoes.
And apples.
And onions.

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Food pyramid

According to my notes, I actually made it for the first time in late December. I’ve been playing with it in January though, and let me tell you, it’s a good one to play with since it tastes really good. Sweet, salty, rich, and tart. Sometimes together, and sometimes one after the other. What’s the secret? The three title ingredients, and the white wine and all the rest.

Potato, Apple, and Onion Sauté and Bake

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion – sliced
  • 3 potatoes – peeled, cut in half, and sliced
  • 2 apples – peeled, cored, and chopped and sliced
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 Tbsp thyme
  • 2 Tbsp butter (optional)

Steps

  1. Sauté the onion in oil over medium heat until soft and slightly browned, about 15 minutes
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients – the potatoes, apples, wine, water, salt, thyme, and butter
  3. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep it from sticking to the frying pan
  4. Transfer to a 13″ x 9″ x 2″ baking dish
  5. Bake covered at 400 degrees for 20 minutes
  6. Bake uncovered for another 5-10 minutes, to slightly crisp the potatoes (optional)

I took some pictures and made a drawing along the way, too.

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Three potatoes, peeled and cut in half

Aka, Potato pinwheel.
Or, Spud-sun.

Or perhaps, Tater, Turtle?

Say what you may, but sometimes potatoes just gotta speak for themselves.

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Can you tell I just took a cartooning class?

But back to the recipe – yes, this is a good one, and easy. I sliced the potatoes and apples into relatively thin pieces (white potatoes and macouns, but you could use other ones) and used the wine that I had on hand (Pinot Grigio). You could skip the butter if you want to make it vegan – it tastes good with or without it – and you could also scale it up if you want to make more. The first two times I made it, I also used more olive oil (2 Tbsp one time, and 1 1/2 Tbsp the other time), but I found that 1 Tbsp also worked, so that’s what I included here with the recipe.

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Yes, that’s a baking sheet on top of a baking dish.

Poor man’s tin foil.
Rich man’s lid.

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The last step, after letting it cool for few minutes, is to summon the foundations of self-restraint and not eat it all right away.

Or, just go ahead and keep eating.

I’m practiced in both.

Invitation to Tomato Risotto

You’re invited!

I hope you come, because it’s going to be worth it.

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Tomato risotto.

Crunchy. Soft. Sweet. Sour. Sweet. Intriguing. More please.

These are some of the initial adjectives and commands that come to mind whenever I make this. After you try it, you might find yourself adding some more. The last two times I made it, for the family picnic last summer and a Princeton tailgate last month, I was party to almost the exact same, honest-speaking exchange:

My cousin (last year) / A new friend (this year): “Wow, this is really good.”
Me: “I know, right!?”

Lucky for me was the day sometime during the summer of 2009 when I happened to borrow Invitation to Mediterranean Cooking by Claudia Roden from the public library. I tried a few recipes from it at the time, and they were all good, but the one that stood out was Tomato Risotto. I’ve taken the book out several times since – let’s just say that mark on page 87, opposite the tomato risotto picture, may or may not have been caused be me (a food bookmark is what you want to see in a cookbook anyway, right??) – and I was looking forward to seeing the familiar pages again after I’d decided to make the recipe again last month. When I went to get the book from the library, though, someone else had taken it out! I also couldn’t find the photocopy I’d made of the recipe, which I wanted to see to double check the amounts. So, to the computer I went, and a small donation to the internet commerce fund later, I became the owner of my very own kitchen copy.

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Simple, good design outside, and like recipes inside

Here’s how to get the party going.

Tomato Risotto

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 12 fresh ripe local tomatoes, diced (about 6 cups, including the liquid)
  • 1 1/2 cups white wine
  • 2 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 1/2 tsp sugar

Steps

  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and garlic, and saute until partially softened, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the rice.
  4. Add the tomatoes.
  5. Add the wine.
  6. Simmer for about 40 minutes, or until the rice is mostly cooked (just a little crunchy), stirring occasionally.
  7. Add the salt, pepper, and sugar.

I love writing three-word steps.

The next step is to try not to eat too much of it before going to your picnic, potluck, or tailgate. I like it best either warm or at room temperature. If you think the recipe looks really easy – and it is – allow me to note the following also: the original recipe doesn’t include onions (I added them), and I doubled the recipe (why make less when you can make more). A few other small variations from the C.Roden original are the salt, pepper, and sugar quantities. I listed what I used this time, but as I’ve noted in the past, such as when making lyrical tomato sauce, how much to add is up to you.

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Two before shots

Yes, that’s how my table looked right before picking the 12 ripest tomatoes for the risotto.

These days, as in today, it’s looking more varicolored:

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Red and green and shades between,
The fruit picked and the plants stripped,
Some ready and some waiting,
A table of the frost’s creation.

Yes, last weekend New Jersey had its first frost, which means a few things: I picked all the tomatoes from my community garden plot ahead of time (red and green), and farmers around the state, and in other states, picked their last tomatoes for the season too.

There were still some tomatoes at the farmers’ market when I went this week, though, and when I asked a farmer friend about it, he said you should be able to still get tomatoes at the market for a week or two.

Which means, of course, tomato risotto! As in, it’s not too late. It’s there if you want it, a little summer wow to help bring in the fall.

Summer Roasting

I write this from a place of sitting-sweating.

Labor Day has come and gone, but for those already missing summer, I have the answer: Summer Roasting.

To do it my way, there are five easy steps: 1) Stop at the local farm stand (Z Food Farm) on your way home, 2) Turn your oven on to 400 degrees, 3) Turn your air conditioner off, 4) Put the chopped vegetables into the oven, and 5) Let them roast for 50 minutes while you do your own best roasting impression while preparing the rest of dinner, standing or sitting nearby.

That’s how I did it today, and also once last week and the week before (except for the air conditioner part; no need to turn mine off because I don’t have one. 🙂 Yes, it’s often summer roasting time here in my kitchen).

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The results are worth it though, and you also can’t discount the perspiration inspiration.

Sweat I swear
Is what I wear,
My beats are bold and
My beets are golden.
My features wetter
Than washed red peppers,
Onions chopped and garlic diced,
Potatoes cut and pink flesh shown,
This time I own, as pieces roast.
My current state, do not bemoan,
The heat is real, but here, no boast,
Cooled a bit with fresh apple juice,
Fifty minutes? Sixty would be nice,
Got an eggplant going, for baba ghanoush.

That is the state of things here, truth in rhyme.

Olive oil and salt and pepper were also involved, and purple carrots too. I’ll include them here in the more traditional, full version of the recipe.

Summer Roasting Roasted Vegetables

  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 red potatoes, peeled
  • 3 golden beets, peeled
  • 3 purple carrots
  • 3 onions
  • 1 red pepper
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  1. Dice the garlic.
  2. Chop the other vegetables (into similar-sized pieces; I did roughly 1 cm cubes).
  3. Add the vegetables, olive oil, salt, and pepper to a baking dish.
  4. Mix everything together.
  5. Roast at 400 degrees for about 50 minutes.

The end result is nothing but sweet, roasted vegetable goodness.

It’s also easy to make, and the choice of vegetables, and colors, is up to you. Later in the fall I’ll also add Brussels sprouts and butternut squash. The numbers of each vegetable is also flexible, but if you do solid threes across the cutting board, you can make it a game of culinary #threestag. This time, except for the one red pepper, I was threezing (but not freezing). Next time, I’m going try 2 Tbsp of olive oil too instead of 3 because I think that’ll be enough, or I’ll add more vegetables.

And that’s summer roasting! Yes, there’s the oven. But there’s also the taste, and the colors a plenty (some shown here below, before roasting), for the overall loving.

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Adirondack Red Potatoes

adfs

Golden Beets

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Purple Carrots

 

Double Sweet Summer Garden Salsa

Growing up, I always loved sweet corn. It was a true summer treat, bought fresh from a local farm and then steamed at home for 5-10 minutes before being rolled around on a satisfying-to-the-sight-now-melting stick of butter (or sprinkled heavily with salt if you’re my dad) and eaten along with the rest of dinner. Yellow, white, or bi-color, it didn’t matter to me so long as it was sweet and fun to eat, which is what it was.

And it still is – and still is that simple to make.

But what else can you make with fresh sweet corn that is similarly simple and tastes great? Double Sweet Summer Garden Salsa! Of course. 🙂

I made it twice this week, the first time because it seemed like a good idea, and the second time to confirm that it was ready for the world. The key ingredients are sweet corn and grape tomatoes, both of which I had growing in my garden.

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Ready for picking

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Ready for a close-up

The other fresh ingredients, onions and garlic, I got from my CSA market share. And then the rest – the olive oil, salt, and pepper – were in my cupboard already and ready to go.

Double Sweet Summer Garden Salsa

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped into pieces about the size of corn kernels
  • 1 garlic clove, diced
  • 2 ears sweet corn, kernels removed
  • 25 grape tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  1. Saute the onion and garlic over medium heat until softened, about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Add the corn and grape tomatoes, and cook for about 15 minutes.
  3. Add the salt and pepper.

And that’s it! Sweet and simple.

The simplest actually would be to do each on its own – an ear of sweet corn husked and then eaten, uncooked, right off the cob (if you’ve never tried it, give it a shot!), and grape tomatoes picked and then popped right in the mouth (it’s more likely you’ve tried this, but if not, give it a shot too!). The combination of sweet corn and sweet grape tomatoes, though, with a touch of the natural tomato tartness, is worth the extra time. And what’s 30 minutes in the end when you’re making something else at the same time that takes a little longer (fresh tomato sauce in my case this time).

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On the cutting board

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In the frying pan

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And in the blue dish

You can eat it hot or cold, but I like it hot.

I’ve been eating it straight like a side dish, but it would also be good with chips or as a taco, burrito, veggie burger, or salad topping. Hmmmm, maybe another name for it could be sweet corn and grape tomato summer salad dressing.

However you use it, and whether the ingredients come from your garden or the farm, there it is, Double Sweet Summer Garden Salsa. Enjoy! Two summer sweets brought together.