Thursday, May 31

Pink Salmon Lasagna

Solar Baked Pink Salmon Lasagna

I've found that most of my meals during the gardening months are inspired by what's available in my garden -- not to mention, a limited budget. Radishes and lettuce produce within 28 days, but it takes at least 45 days for most other veggies. The first squashes to appear were the pattypan and zucchini. Not a bountiful harvest, true, but the annual promise of more to come. There was a sale on pink salmon, I had some country-fresh eggs, and it was simply a matter of bringing them all together with garden-fresh herbs.

Aren't they pretty! The lettuce and radishes hiding behind the lettuce provided the fresh salad accompaniment, which was more than enough for most appetites.

As with most lasagnas, you're going to make two separate fillings for the layering. The finished product is very light appearing because the salmon is such a soft pink, which is why I chose the red plate and green garni. After chopping the herbs, set aside 1 T for the cheese mixture.

Pink Salmon Lasagna

1 14.75 oz can pink salmon
2 medium eggs
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 tsps fresh oregano, chopped fine
2 tsps fresh thyme, chopped fine
1 tsp fresh parsley, chopped fine
1/4 tsp fresh stevia, chopped fine
1 T fresh garlic chives, chopped fine
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup buttermilk
lasagna noodles to fit pan for two layers
2 medium pattypan squashes, very thinly sliced
1 medium zucchini, very thinly sliced

Combine first 11 ingredients in a large mixing bowl; set aside. You may need to add more liquid if mixture is too stiff. You want to be able to gently press and spread over uncooked lasagna noodles without disturbing other layers.

Cheese Mixture

1 15oz container Ricotta cheese
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, finely-shredded
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, finely-shredded
2 eggs
1 T combined chopped herb mixture from above
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp mild powdered curry

Combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl; set aside.

Preheat solar oven to 225F. 2-quart casserole, lightly greased 

Place a layer of dry noodles on bottom of pan; layer half of the salmon mixture over noodles, half the thinly sliced squashes over salmon mixture, and half the cheese mixture on top. Add another layer of noodles, salmon, squashes, and top with cheese mixture. Sprinkle with paprika. Cover with casserole cover or tin foil, shiny-side down. Place in solar oven for 2 hours, remove cover, return to oven and bake an additional half hour or until top begins to pull from sides.

Let stand for approximately ten minutes before serving. You can see how light in color the layers are but the taste is out of this world. (I added the garlic chives and the top of an oregano sprig for garni, so my daughter wouldn't holler at me!) Simple beginnings create an elegant entree, fit for company.

Saturday, May 26

Fagiolata Over Baked Polenta Solar Baked at Midtown Market

Sometimes, just using a foreign language to describe dinner makes it taste even more scrumptuous; don't you think? Fagiolata is an Italian way of saying pork and beans -- and, I've stretched it just a bit further to be inclusive of all beans so I could get away with using Great Northern Beans in my dish. I think what makes it more Italian is the combination of spices that are not common in American dishes. (Oh, gosh, my daughter's going to kill me because I forgot to add a contrast color to my photo... somebody, save me!)

Using dried beans and dehydrated tomatoes, this was a two-day process.  I let the beans soak over night and rehydrated my tomatoes and onions. Before bringing it to the Market, I brought everything up to a boil, reduced the heat, and high-simmered it for twenty minutes. I transferred the Fragiolata to a smaller throw-away tinfoil baking dish and knew the solar oven would finish the cooking. And, if you've ever spent 30 minutes stirring polenta to get it just right, you're gonna love my easy-peasy way of making delicious, creamy, polenta with almost no stirring, at all.

Solar Fagiolata over Baked Polenta

10 ozs tomatoes, crushed
1 T butter
3 T olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 medium apple, pared, cored, chopped (optional)
5 cups Northern beans (rehydrated, if using dried)
1/3 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 tsp ground nutmeg
1/3 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground red pepper
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
Hot water to cover
6 ozs Fontina cheese, finely-shredded
3 ozs Parmesan cheese, finely-shredded
Polenta, baked and cut in rounds or strips (recipe below)

Preheat solar oven to 225F   Covered casserole

1. Over medium heat, saute onions in melted butter and olive oil, add chopped apple, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, red pepper, salt, black pepper; mix thoroughly, pour into 3-quart saucepan; add beans, stir to blend; add water to cover beans at least an inch; cover and bring to boil, cook for five minutes.

2. Place in solar oven for 2-1/2 to 3 hours. Cut polenta into rounds, combine cheeses and lightly sprinkle 1 T of cheese mixture over polenta, top with 3/4 cups fagiolata. Serve with a fresh salad and crusty bread.

Easy-Peasy Solar Baked Polenta

3/4 cup ground corn meal
3/4 tsp salt
3 cups water/chicken stock
1 T butter

Preheat solar oven to 225F.  2-quart casserole

1. Grease casserole with butter, bring water/stock to rolling boil; remove 1 cup water and mix with corn meal, salt, and butter, in small bowl. Carefully pour boiling liquid into casserole, then, slowly add corn mixture to water, stirring with whisk to thoroughly blend.

2. Cover and place in solar oven for 50 minutes. Remove from oven and chill in refrigerator for approximately two hours. Slice into rounds/strips to bake, fry, or broil.

To serve with fagiolata, place on baking sheet and sprinkle with melted butter; bake for 20 minutes. Remove when cheeses are melted; top with fagiolata.

The oven was at 250F by 8:20 AM.

and I had separated the Polenta (cubed) and Fagiolata into two separate tinfoil casseroles. Samples were ready by 10:00 AM.

Monday, May 21

Midtown Solar Pate and Kielbasa-Kohlrabi Stew

It was such a glorious morning on May 12th, the day before Mother's Day, that I decided to set up the solar oven at 8:15 a.m. Using the telescoping leg on the back of the oven raised the floor enough to get some wonderful direct sunlight and, by 8:45a.m., the temperature had risen to 225F. There would be samples, today!  Using a blend of both my Solar Indian Rice recipe and the previous Chicken Liver raviolis, the samples were such a hit that even small children would bring friends over for samples! Now, that's an endorsement.

You can't see it in this photo but, just behind the solar oven is my Wonder Pot Cooker with some Kielbasa Stew cooking for my evening meal. Using a two-quart cast-iron Dutch oven, it is filled to within an inch of the top and was bubbling for about five minutes before being placed into the cooker. Again, another meal that wasn't removed until almost seven hours had passed, and it was still hot enough to eat without zapping in the microwave. I am really loving this cooker! 

The stew is from my first garden harvest from this year's garden. Kohlrabi is ka full-feed plant and I used the leaves, stems, and globes, before adding garlic chives and some farmer's market fillers. Kohlrabi gets tender but won't lose its shape as fast as other dense vegetables, so it does create body in a stew. And, it was nice knowing my dinner would be done and I could just relax, once I got home. Just needed some crunchy French bread to sop up the juices.

This is my design for the cooker and I've added loops to run cording through to draw the top edges closer before adding the top. It also helps stabilize the whole thing during transport. Because it was outside, I also did cross ties to prevent anyone from accidentally removing the top and letting all the heat out.

That's all there is to using a Wonder Box Cooker.

Solar Kielbasa-Kohlrabi Stew
1/2 lb. Polish Kielbasa, 1/4-inch slices, quartered'
4 medium kohlrabi globes, diced
Kohlrabi leaves and stems, diced
1/4 small cabbage head, chopped
1 medium carrot, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 stalk garlic chives, chopped
2 medium red potatoes, pared and diced
1 cup butter peas
2 T lard/olive oil
10 oz chicken stock
6 oz water (or enough to cover)
1 T soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/2 crushed stevia leaves

Preheat solar oven to 225F     2-quart stock pot with cover

1. Over medium heat, saute onions and garlic chives in lard/olive oil; add kielbasa and cook until it just begins to brown; add balance of chopped vegetables; stir to blend thoroughly.

2. Add chicken stock, water, and rest of ingredients; bring to boil. Stir to blend thoroughly.

3. Cover and bake in solar oven for approximately 2.5 hours. Serve with a crusty bread.

Wonder Box Cooking: Allow mixture to simmer for at least five minutes; then, transfer to cooker and cover. Do not remove cover for at least 3.5 hours.

The stew cooks in the solar oven in 2.5 hours; but, time is very limited at the Market and the cooker has become a great addition to my booth. Thank you, TexAzLady at Adventures in Solar Cooking!

Wednesday, May 16

Chicken Liver Raviolis and Red Wine Sauce - Solar Baked

Please do not go, "Bletch!" Chicken livers are not only inexpensive, they are used to make some of the most delicious pates that can cost you an arm and a leg at your favorite restaurant. I happen to love organ meats and discovering new ways of using them. What I was really trying out for the first time (OMG! Where have I been?!?!) was Wonton wrappers, instead of making fresh pasta dough. I will not keep you in suspense... I am a convert. These were absolutely delicious -- and, mmmph, lick, gulp, as I type, fantastic as a cold pastie! (Urp! S'cuse.)

This is a two-step recipe where you cook up the livers before chopping and mixing the ingredients for the raviolis. The secret to delicious chicken livers is a nice crispy outside crust and light pink inside. Try not to eat them before using them in the next step! That is really hard to do... oh, yeah.

Solar Baked Chicken Liver Raviolis and Red Wine Sauce
1 lb. chicken livers
1 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp finely minced fresh rosemary
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 T lard/olive oil
1 T unsweetened butter
8 oz. mozzarella cheese (parmesan, fontina, your choice)
1 pkg. small wonton wrappers
1 T unsweetened butter (for tops)
Ground rosemary (for tops)
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup red wine

Preheat solar oven to 225F. Small cookie sheet with parchment paper liner.

1. Clean livers and remove connective stringy bits. Cut large pieces in half.

2. In a large bowl or plastic bag, mix flour, salt, pepper, rosemary, cinnamon; add livers and stir/shake to coat thoroughly.

3. In a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, melt lard/olive oil and butter; add coated liver in batches, so that they have room to crisp, and cook on each side for approximately 2 minutes. Remove to separate plate lined with a paper towel. (Do not throw out remaining flour mix.)

4. In same skillet, add finely chopped onions and cook until translucent; remove to separate plate. Remove skillet from burner to prevent scorching.

5. Finely chop cooked livers. Leave approximately 1 Tablespoon flour mix in bowl or plastic bag; add chopped livers, sauteed onion, and cheese, mixing thoroughly.

6.  Have wonton wrappers and water nearby. [NOTE: I didn't wet my fingers to make the wrappers stick. Instead, I dipped the whole thing in water and shaped it around the filling. You have to be fast to do this. It's like working with wet clay. If you're unsure, use a brush.]

Then, you place them on the parchment-lined pan, leaving just a touch of room around each. Place a dab of butter on the top of each and lightly dust with ground rosemary.

7. Place in solar oven, using a toothpick at lower end of door to prevent moisture on inside, and bake for approximately 45 minutes, or until golden brown. 

8. Over medium-high heat, return skillet to burner, and bring ingredients to bubbling. Add 1 tsp. butter, if necessary, and 1 tsp leftover flour mix. Stir smooth, scraping bottom for all those delicious crispy pieces; add chicken stock and wine, slowly, to keep the gravy smooth.

After plating, spoon some gravy over raviolis and get ready to fork-stab anyone who tries to take more than their share!

I served them with fresh cooked greens, garden-fresh chopped kohlrabi, and a carrot-raisin salad. These raviolis are very filling and freeze well, and, there was enough of the mix left to set aside for another recipe!

Friday, May 11

Solar Indian Rice Roll-Ups

I just love trying to figure out what to do with perfectly good leftovers. The Indian Rice  that was cooked in the Wonder Box Cooker at the Midtown Market was enough for more than one meal and with fresh veggies and greens, it was time to get rolling!  Aren't they pretty?

Using garden-fresh lettuce with one thin slice of ham and an asparagus spear in the center made this a great second-time-around meal. There was very little added to the already spicy rice mixture and I decided to keep the sides clean and refreshing, too.

Doing one of my favorite ways of making clean-up a breeze, whilst adding flavor, I lined the pot with large leaves from my lettuce medley mix and then layered asparagus spears over top to make a bed for the rolls.  This would give them just enough steaming to cook thoroughly and still crunch.

On a large butter crunch leaf, I added a slice of boiled ham, a large tablespoon of the Indian Rice mix spread over the leaf, and one asparagus spear, scoring across the stiff spine on the underside of the leaf to make folding easier, and then rolled it from front to back.

All rolls were placed seam side down on the asparagus bed. The pot was covered and placed in the 225F solar oven for approximately 1.5 hours. Decided to offset the spicy rice with sliced radishes secured in a dressing made with mayonnaise, tomato catsup, sweet relish, and a little fresh minced rosemary, Greek oregano, Italian parsley, and German thyme. Over all, I poured 1/4 cup chicken stock with an equal portion of orange juice to brighten the flavors a bit.

I tried to do a radish rose, but realized I had a life to live and this would do. All in all, a delicious leftover meal.

Sunday, May 6

Indian Rice in the Wonder Box at Midtown Market

In just another two weeks, I'll be able to prepare some solar meals. The sun has to rise over the buildings just a bit more to the left to get the full benefit in the short time available at my booth. I've been wanting to make some Indian Rice in the solar oven and decided I could go ahead with my recipe and use the Wonder Box Cooker. This gave me another chance to test it for timing and how long it would really stay hot. It was a busy day and, by the time I removed the cover at home, it was almost two o'clock and the rice was gorgeous, fully-cooked, and hot for serving! And, I was able to use my SolarWear(R) for easy removal! 

This recipe is enough for four people. After bringing everything to a boil and letting it roll for approximately two minutes, everything was transferred to a 3-quart covered pre-heated baking dish.  The Wonder Box Cooker works on retentive heat so you want to be sure everything is hot before placing your pot inside the cooker. You'll need to have the pot full, as opposed to three-quarters full for solar cooking, and use about ten minutes of energy before transferring hot foods into the cooking vessel.

Solar Indian Rice from the Wonder Box Cooker

1.5 cups of rice (I used half sushi and have arborio rices)
3 T oil
1 large onion, cut longways and then very thinly sliced crosswise
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 medium chili pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped pecans/almonds/pistachios
1/4 cup dark raisins
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground pepper
3 cups hot chicken broth

If using solar oven, preheat to 225F; otherwise, have Wonder Box Cooker nearby and ready for transfer.

1. Preheat deep skillet over medium-high heat, add oil and when it begins to shimmer, add onion, garlic, and, chili pepper. Saute until onions are translucent.

2. Add rice to skillet mixture, stir thoroughly and cook until rice becomes opaque.

3. Mix nuts and raisins with all dry ingredients in a small bowl; add to skillet mixture, stirring to blend, cook for two minutes.

4. Add chicken broth and bring to boil; allow to boil for approximately three minutes. Transfer to casserole dish and cover, immediately; place in solar oven and bake for approximately 35-40 minutes or leave in Wonder Box Cooker for at least 2.5 hours.   

Remove cover; fluff and serve.

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