Yellow Zucchini and Carrot Kugel

Winter has finally arrived. The weather has been really strange this year. Until late in December the temperatures were still in the mid 70’s! This is not typical for Atlanta, Georgia. Finally, in mid January, we have some cold weather. But, to be honest, this is one of the mildest winters we have had in the 20 years we have been in Atlanta. Cold weather always makes me think of warm comforting food – soup, stews, curries etc. but I was walking through Trader Joe’s the other day and I spotted these gorgeous yellow zucchini and I thought “What can I do differently with them?” I don’t feel like my usual steamed  squash nor did I feel like stir frying them with other vegetables, so I thought why not use them in a kugel, a type of vegetable casserole. Then when I got home I noticed a whole bag of carrots in the fridge, so naturally what is my next though, “Why not combine some carrots to give it a bit of a crunch?”, and so the experimenting started. After a couple of trials and fine adaptations, this recipe was developed. It is a great dish to prepare in advance and to reheat to finish cooking through and crisp up.

Yellow Zucchini and Carrot Kugel

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Ingredients

6 large zucchini
4 large carrots
1 big onion
5 eggs
5 Tbs. flour/matzo meal
1tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbs. chicken soup stock powder
1/4 cup vegetable oil.

Method

Grate the zucchini, onion, and carrots.
Place in a colander and press down firmly to remove as much liquid from the vegetables as you can.
Place vegetables in a mixing bowl.
Beat the 5 eggs lightly with a fork and add to the vegetables. Mix well.
Slowly add each tablespoon of flour, and mix it in well before you add the next spoon.
Add the salt, pepper, and soup mix and mix well. IMG_2524
Finally add the baking powder and make sure it is blended in.
Place the mixture into a 1/2 sheet silver foil or a rectangular baking dish, and carefully pour the oil on top. Try to do so as evenly as possible to cover the entire surface.
Bake at 350°F for 50 minutes.

Ginger Ale Brisket Up a Notch

Brisket still remains a favorite for many. I know that you have all tried a ginger ale brisket recipe before, but this one is tangier, and has more punch to it. Making a rub for the outside of the meat, and searing it in really gave each slice of meat added flavor. Sometimes it is that little bit of extra work that makes the all difference.

Often I think of brisket for the holidays only, but it is a great cut of meat to make for Friday night dinner or a dinner party and then have left overs for the week, or you can freeze the left overs and serve at a different time.

The first cut brisket from Grillerspride.com is absolutely delicious. It needs to be cooked slowly for a long time to get the best flavors and for the meat to be tender. As I have mentioned previously, brisket is the one cut of meat that freezes well after it is cooked, so often I cook it in advance, ask my husband, Peter to use his amazing carving skills to slice it perfectly (not too thin and not too thick). I put the sliced meat back in the sauce and freeze it. This really allows the flavors to be absorbed fully into the meat. The day before I want to serve it, I allow it to defrost and I then reheat it covered in foil at 350°F for about 40 mins

Ginger Ale Brisket Up a Notch

Meat after resting 15 minutes

Meat after resting 15 minutes

Ingredients

1 x 6 lb. black Angus brisket
1 Tbs. Olive oil
Rub – see recipe below
4 large onions thinly sliced
1 pound of carrots cut into circles, or oval slices
2 sticks of celery finely sliced
6-7 sprigs of fresh thyme
5-6 bay leaves
1 tsp peppercorns
1 can ginger ale
1 cup ketchup
1 cup water
1 cup sweet and tangy ginger Duck Sauce
1 square inch of fresh ginger cut into 4 chunks, so it is easy to remove after cooking.

Method

Rinse brisket in cold water and pat dry with paper towel.
Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a large skillet.
Massage the rub over the entire brisket, and then place the brisket into the hot skillet.
Do not touch it or turn it for 5 minutes so it can brown and form a crust.
Turn it over and let it do the same on the other side.
Remove the brisket from the skillet and place ion a large plate while you prepare the next ingredients..
Add the sliced onions to the skillet the brisket had browned in, and toss the onions to coat them in any remaining fat and or seasoning from the brisket. Let the onions cook on a medium heat till they begin to soften and start to caramelize.
Add the carrots and celery and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Remove the leaves from the thyme and add to the onion mix, and stir it in.
Place half the onion mix on the bottom of a large roasting pan, and place the brisket on top of it. Spoon the rest of the onion mix on top of the brisket.
Add 5 – 6 bay leaves and a tsp. of peppercorns.
Combine the ginger ale, duck sauce, water and ketchup and pour over the brisket.
Cover with foil and bake at 325 °F for 6 hours.
Remove from oven and let it sit and cool completely  before you slice it.
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Best to place in fridge, so the fat can congeal and you are able to remove the fat before slicing the meat.
Slice across the grain, (the slices cannot be too thin, as they will disintegrate), and place the pieces back in an oven proof dish. Cover with the sauce that you have “de-fatted” and you can either reheat it there and then 180°F for half an hour, or freeze it till you are ready to use it.

Sliced Brisket

Sliced Brisket

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Rub
1Tbs.ground cumin
1 Tbs. ground coriander
2 tsp. chille powder
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. garlic powder

Combine the above ingredients with olive oil
to make a thick paste.

 

Steelhead Trout with a Lemon and Rosemary Rub

Steelhead Trout with a Lemon and Rosemary Rub

As many of you already know I love growing my own herbs and as many fresh vegetables as I can. In the past I have grown herbs in pots on my deck, and this year Peter built me a vegetable trough – a great trough that stands at waist level for me. I have been able to grow tomatoes, grape tomatoes, peppers, jalopenos, zuccini, and eggplant. In addition, I have parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, mint, tarragon, oregano, and chives growing in the trough and some additional pots. Because the winter has been so mild, I still have most my herbs, but the vegetables are done for the season. Yet I can show you what it did look like.

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There is nothing better than cooking with freshly picked herbs, or making a salad with tomatoes and herbs from your own garden. This week I noticed an abundance of rosemary, so I decided it is time to cook some food using fresh rosemary. The first dish I made was Steelhead trout with a Lemon and Rosemary Butter Rub. It turned our absolutely deliciously, in fact I would go so far as to say, it was the best fish dish I have ever cooked.

Ingredients

2 filleted sides of steelhead trout
2 rounded Tbs. of butter or Can’t Believe It Is Butter
2 Tbs. fresh rosemary finely chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic finely chopped
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper

Method

Cover a baking sheet with foil, and spray with cook ‘n spray – i use the olive oil one
Rinse the trout fillets, pat them dry with paper towels and then place them skin side down on the sprayed foil.
Season the fish well with salt and pepper.
Mix together the butter, garlic, chopped rosemary, lemon juice and lemon zest to form a paste.
Spread the butter mix over the fish fillets covering them with a thin layer of paste.(Best to use your hand to spread it over the fish)
Bake at 400°F for 7 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F for a further 12 minutes.
Remove from oven and let stand for 3 to 4 minutes to let the juices return to the fish.

Serve with boiled baby potatoes, a fresh green salad, and of course my tomato salad

Quick and Easy Tomato Salad

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Slice grape tomatoes in half. Put them isn a shallow dish, Chop some chives and put them over the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar. Either tear or julienne slice some fresh basil and mix in with the tomatoes. Best if you let this stand for half an hour or more before you serve to allow the flavors to blend.

 

No-Fry Eggplant Lasagna

No-Fry Eggplant Lasagna

IMG_3205Winter finally arrived in Atlanta this weekend. It is Sunday, December 20th and we had our first really cold weather hit on Friday night! It is unbelievable that it is mid December and we are experiencing temperatures in the early 70’s F or low 20’s C. I am not complaining as I really don’t like the cold, so having this beautiful weather has been a real treat. However, as soon as it gets cold, I want some hot wholesome food. I had an eggplant in the fridge, and I was going to make eggplant parmesan with it, but then I decided to create a new recipe and make an eggplant lasagna. Somehow this makes it a full meal for me, pasta, vegetables, sauce, cheese. What could be yummier?

I have to confess though that I did take a short cut. I used a store bought garlic marinara sauce. In the past I have not allowed myself to do this, and I have first taken the time to make my own marinara sauce, but today I gave myself permission to use a store bought sauce, and I must admit it still turned out pretty well. It saved time and effort, and I was able to prepare the entire dish in under half an hour.

I also did not stand dipping the eggplant in an egg wash, then into bread crumbs and  thereafter fryi it. Today I sliced the eggplant, placed the slices on a baking tray and pre-baked them. More details about this in the recipe. This too saved time and energy, but more importantly, it made this dish so much healthier. For those of you that know me, you know I really do try to eat as healthily as I can, so I try to cook healthily too. I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I did.

Ingredients

Olive oil spray and cook
1 eggplant sliced into about 1/8 inch (1/2 cm) slices
9 sheets no boil lasagna sheets
1 lb. jar garlic marinara sauce
1/2 cup Greek yoghurt
1/2 cup low fat milk
2 Tbs. fresh oregano coarsely chopped
salt, pepper
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup breadcrumbs

Method

Lightly spray a baking pan with spray and cook. Place sliced eggplant in a single layer on to tray. Spray the tops of the eggplant with the cook and spray. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, chop up the oregano, and set aside.
Mix the milk and Greek yoghurt together to get a smooth consistency and set aside.
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Mix the bread crumbs with 1/2 cup of the parmesan.

Coat the bottom of a 9×13″ casserole dish with a layer of the marinara sauce

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Place three pasta sheets on top of it, 2 next to each other, and the 3rd broken in half to fill the rest of the dish.
Cover the pasta with a layer of the yoghurt and milk mixture.IMG_3199IMG_3200IMG_3201
By now the eggplant should be ready to remove from oven, do not switch oven off as you will be returning the whole dish to the oven in just a few moments.
Place a layer of eggplant slices over yoghurt and milk sauce.
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Sprinkle some oregano, a little salt and pepper over the eggplant, and then generously sprinkle some parmesan on top of the eggplant.
Coat one side of the next layer of pasta with the yoghurt and milk mixture, and lay coated side on top of the eggplant covered in cheese.
Repeat the layer of marinara sauce, eggplant slices, seasonings, and cheese.
Finally place a layer of marinara sauce over the eggplant covered in cheese and top with the breadcrumb mixture.IMG_3204
Bake at 350°F for 35 minutes. Remove from oven, and allow to settle for 5 minutes before cutting out a large piece of this delicious lasagna.IMG_3206IMG_3207