Monday, July 30, 2012

All the pretty horses

On Saturday I was ready to finally go on a hike, the work was nicely in-between things so I had my head free, but the weather did not cooperate. The sky looked threatening of rain and thunderstorms, which eventually never happened. I took in the more local scenery around Veazie, all the pretty horses, happily grazing on the lush meadows. Unfortunately, I wore high heels and forgot the carrots, so no close-ups of these beauties.

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Zucchini Quinoa bake

It is Sunday, time to make a more elaborate zucchini dish. How about a crustless zucchini quiche? I sliced a large zucchini really thinly with a mandoline and layered zucchini, cooked quinoa, zucchini, sauteed kale with garlic, white wine and onions, zucchini and topped it with a twirled egg with some water, salt and pepper. Bake at 375F for ca 30 min. Serve with hot sauce or red pepper spread!

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A German biergarten in the middle of Bangor, Maine

My favorites about  Germany are --- crusty, dark bread, the massive variety of tasty cold cuts, and …. biergartens. A biergarten (beer garden) is a traditional summer outdoor hangout in Germany, to meet with friends and family in the afternoon and early evening in a garden like, shady setting, with long benches, umbrellas, and enjoy some cold beer, a light summer dinner with pretzels and sandwiches, and then cycle home. As you can imagine, on a particular mild summer night, the evenings at a biergarten might make for hanging until deep in the night. I’ve always hoped that biergarten will be similarly adopted like Italian coffee, French bread and European beer in the USA. How can it not, right?

I was more than happy to read that Nocturem in Bangor had set-up a biergarten in the back of their indoor, all year round beer bar. It looks very original. But, where are the people??

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Nocturnem, Bangor, Maine

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Hofbraeukeller-Biergarten, Munich.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Symphony in Red

Yesterday, I made the best sorbet I ever ate. Haagen Dazs is very good, too, of course, but my version has more fruit and no sugar. I am still waiting for the popsicle molds being delivered by my favorite friend, the  UPS guy, but the cooling pot of the icecream maker was sufficiently chilled after 24h in the freezer. Time to make some sorbet.

The key of this sorbet are the frozen (!) raspberries. I find frozen raspberries are just so much more intense in flavor than fresh ones. The other addition are more flexible: strawberries, red currants, even a little bit of water melon. The key is to use 2 parts fruit to 1 part water (with a little bit of stevia), all pureed in the vitamix, and no need to strain anything. The fruit mix can be filled into molds or the ice cream maker. Tastetesting the mix, I thought that this makes an excellent basis for a fruity margarita!!!

Berry Sorbet

  • 1 cup frozen raspberries, thawed
  • 1 cup strawberries, or red currants
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/4 ts stevia (I use NuNaturals)

Prep: place ice cream cooling pot in the freezer for 24h.

Puree all berries with the water and stevia in a blender (best: Vitamix), and pour into a the chilled ice cream maker pot, insert the inset, and place the cover to top, and set to go. It takes about 30min for it to be done. Alternatively, fill popsicle mold and place in freezer. Enjoy!

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Baked quinoa cakes with zucchini and kale

Yesterday, I made quinoa in my smart  rice cooker for the first time. 1 part quinoa and 2 parts water and the brown rice setting. A bit less water would have been better, but I just left it in the rice cooker on the ‘keep warm’ setting for 12h, and it had the perfect fluffiness.

Next step: making a large dent in the cooked quinoa/ Quinoa cakes! To make them lower calorie baking is the option to go. Adding flavor is key. In my case, I added sauted kale with garlic, grated zucchini, bread crumbs, and egg and for easy fool-proof flavors a half pack of onion dip mix. Delicious!!

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Baked Quinoa Cakes with Kale and Zucchini (makes ca 12 small cakes)

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 small zucchini (ca 200g), grated
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • good handful of chives, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup cooked lentils (optional)
  • 1 egg whipped with ca 2 TB of water
  • 1/2 package of onion dip or onion soup
  • ca.  8 large leaves of lacinato kale, thinly sliced
  • 1 white onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1/2 TB olive oil
  • splash of white wine

Freheat oven to 375F.

Start out with sauteing the onion, garlic and kale. In a sauce pan, heat the olive oil and saute the onion for about 2min, then add the grated garlic, stir and add in the kale. Stir, and add in the white wine.  On low, simmer for about 4min.

In a mixing bowl, add the quinoa, grated zucchini, breadcrumbs, lentils, chives, and onion dip, and mix well. Mix the egg with the water, and add to the mix, and mix the entire mix thoroughly. Add in the sauted kale. The dough should be rather sticky. If not, add a bit more water. If too soggy, add more bread crumbs.

Form little patties, or fill a sprayed muffin or square brown pan with the mix, and bake for 30min. Serve hot, or room temperatures. I like to add hot sauce and feta cheese.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Stuffed Globe Zucchini with Black Rice and Mint

Today’s dinner was slightly more involved: I had to grow the globe zucchini first. Unfortunately, there are none available at the local farmers markets or grocery stores, and I ordered some seeds in the winter and started seeding in February. Now, mid July the globe zucchini find the perfect climate: it is sufficiently warm, in the upper 80s and it also rains.

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The zucchini plants share a raised bed with the mint plants as well as the flat leaf parsley plant. Both the mint and flat leaf parsley are mixed in the rice mixture which I used for stuffing the zucchini.

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As usual with zucchini, first there are many flowers, and tiny zucchini. Then, the small zucchini just fall off until some of the zucchini decide it is the perfect climate to grow strong and big almost overnight, and then everyone else also decides to grow huge until you raise your hands over your head in horror and share the zucchini deluge with the neighbors. But, we are not quite there. Just enough for a 4 person dinner side.

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The zucchini are scraped out with a melonballer, then stuffed with a rice mixtures, and baked for about 1h at 350F. Here is the recipe!

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Stuffed Globe Zucchini with Black Rice and Mint (for 4 medium sized globe zucchini):

  • 4 globe zucchini, washed
  • 1/2 cup of chicken or vegetable stock
  • springs of sage and thyme

Rice mixture for stuffing:

  • 1 ts extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium sized red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 small garlic cloves, microplaned
  • 1/2 cup black rice (or risotto rice), rinsed and drained
  • splash of white wine
  • 1/2 can of fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 cup of zucchini flesh (from the globe zucchini), chopped
  • 1 TB tomato paste
  • 1 ts bouillon
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water (as needed)
  • large handful of fresh mint, chopped
  • large handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Wash and pad the globe zucchini dry. Cut off the tip of the zucchini to make for a little hat. Scrap the zucchini with a melon baller,  and preserve the zucchini flesh. Set aside.

To make the rice for the stuffed zucchini, heat a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the olive oil to the pan, and heat. Add the chopped onion and fry on medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and the rice as well as the zucchini flesh, and saute for about 3 min. Add the white wine, and scrap the bottom of the pan for the dark bits. Wait until wine is cooked off, and add a 1/2 cup of the hot water, bouillon, tomato paste, and canned tomatoes ; stir the mixture, cover the pot, and cook gently. Stir frequently and add more water as needed until the rice is tender (ca. 30 min). Remove from heat and stir in the  fresh mint, and flat-leaf parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Use the stuffing to fill the globe zucchini and arrange in an oven safe baking dish. Place the little hat on top, drizzle some olive oil on the zucchini and fill the chicken or vegetable stock in the baking dish. Baked at 350F for about 1h. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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    Sunday, July 15, 2012

    Summer

    These are the weeks of the year when the weather here in Maine has caught up with the great weather everywhere else. The temperatures are in the 90s, the streets are empty, and everyone is at their camp, taking a dip in a lake or river or the ocean. It feels like high noon in a western movie, only crickets chirping, if you stay in town. I am not in the mood for cooking, only drinking buckets of ice tea and reading an ebook in the shade. Summer.

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    Wednesday, July 11, 2012

    Garden, the summer version.

    Few words necessary.

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    TLC salad

    We are in a stretch of really nice summer weather: warm, pleasant, not too hot and not humid. Perfect, basically. The garden is lush and green, and it is quiet. Yesterday, I headed towards Mount Desert Island, and into the arms of tourists. I had to run some errands in Ellsworth and was indeed rubbing shoulders with them. It was all a little bit more hectic and busier than usual, but still good. For a late lunch (and a selection from the tapas menu), I headed to Cleonice. Since it’s not time for beets and beet salad, I had to look for new tapas. The TLC salad…..Tomato Lettuce Cucumber salad with some wonderful blue cheese. And a calamari salad to make me feel a bit Greek and Mediterranean.

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    Sunday, July 8, 2012

    A trip down the coast

    We have a stretch of good weather and after all the rain, summer suddenly sneaked up on us. Time for a road trip! First, browsing the goods at the Treasure barn along Rt 1, just before Belfast. This place makes feel more like I am in a natural history museum than antique ‘mall’.
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    Should have bought the bear cast iron mold…
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    The next stop: lunch at Chase’s Daily. The indoor farmers market was abundant with produce from the Chase’s garden, mostly fabulously looking lettuce. and herbs, even epazote.
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    Lunch followed the theme: lettuce with avocado, radishes, flowers and lime vinaigrette and grilled bread.
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    After snapping up a small olive tree at Brambles in Belfast, the next stop was: Camden.
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    Ready for sea-kajaking in a tandem kajak?
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    A beautiful, quiet footbridge in Camden’s river district, full of hanging flowering baskets, and little benched to enjoy the ice cream.
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    On the way home, a stop at Dot’s in Lincolnville.
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    Yes, summer in Maine.
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