Thursday, July 16, 2015

Green Beans, Red Peppers, Mushrooms and Shell Pasta

It's been so hot in the Northwest that many crops are appearing early and these past few weeks, green beans are here, so get them before they're gone!  This was my favorite vegetable as a child.  Not the most nutritious vegetable, but it's fun to eat raw or cooked. Buy them at your favorite farmers market because green beans toughen when picked. 

This picture was taken last year near Portland, Oregon.  I'd say the price of beans has gone up to $3.50 a pound for regular beans and $6.00 a pound for the haricot vert beans.  These are a slender, tender, sweet variety, and perhaps they have less yield, which could explain the price difference.

Long time vendors at the U-District farmers market, Liz and Michael grow crispy sweet beans, picked at just the right moment.  

I love everything Grouse Mountain Farm grows!

For color and taste I love red peppers.  I like to sauté, grill or roast until the peppers blacken and become even sweeter.

You could use any type of mushrooms but shiitake supports your immune system.  I like to maximize the healthy potential of any dish with shiitake mushrooms.  Like other mushrooms, if you dry-fry them, they add a meaty texture.

This is a simple, no-fuss recipe. You could add some jalapeno for spice if you want. You could also cut up a few tomatoes and blend those in before serving.  I had a great pesto sauce that a friend gave me and I got some garlic sauce from the Edmonds farmers market. 

Green Beans, Red Peppers, Mushrooms and Shell Pasta
(Serves 4)

3 cups shell pasta
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon canola or coconut oil
1 red pepper. seeded and sliced
4 cups fresh green beans, tips removed
2 tablespoons apple cider, white wine or water
1/4 cup pesto or garlic sauce (optional)
Chopped fresh chives, basil, parsley, etc

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  While you wait, heat a heavy skillet over medium heat and add mushrooms.  Cook and stir until mushrooms soften.  Remove from heat and set aside.  

Heat a skillet over medium heat and add oil and red pepper.  Stir and cook until pepper softens.   Add green beans and stir until they are coated with oil.  Add apple cider, cover and steam until beans soften to desired tenderness, however, do not overcook them.

Combine cooked vegetables with pasta, then toss in pesto or garlic sauce, if desired, and top with fresh herbs.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Red, White, and Blueberries

I has been exceptionally hot in the Northwest and since most people in Seattle don't have air conditioning, when the temperature climbs to 90F (32C), it's best to chill out, and I can't think of a better way than to eat cooling sorbet. 

You can always try Baskin Robbins, but I'm a big fan of making my own sorbet and I love the excuse  to use berries. But I do hope the hot weather doesn't last. Berries don't like the heat. They prefer cool days better. Me too. The hot berries get soft, the greens become thirsty and the plants want more water. And we could use a little more rain.

So be thankful when the farmers at the markets have berries because berries aren't easy to grow, especially when they're grown organically.

I found this great idea for a sorbet in the Cuisinart Ice Cream and Sorbet Maker handbook. Years  time ago, my Aunt Virginia told me product booklets are the best places to find good recipes and after all these years I know she was right. The recipe said, Easy Frozen Lemonade. I thought of raspberry lemonade. Then I saw the blueberries at a local market and got this idea for a great 4th of July dessert.

My first attempt did not come out like soft ice cream. That's what the texture should be, but it had too much liquid because I'd overfilled the ice cream maker. Don't overfill it!  I let that mixture thaw. Well, actually we ate some of it, but I froze the ice cream maker bowl overnight.  Then with the remaining defrosted mixture, I tried again, twenty-four hours later.

I poured the mixture back into the ice cream maker and in just 20 minutes got amazing results.  Just don't leave this slushy in the freezer for days or it will be come rock hard because it has no fat in it.  But then you could probably let it defrost just enough to churn it again.

Raspberry Lemonade Slushy with Coconut Sorbet and Blueberries
(Makes 4 servings)

3 cups lemonade
1 1/2 cups raspberries (chilled)
Coconut sorbet
1 to 2 cups blueberries

Pour lemonade and raspberries into freezer bowl of your ice cream maker.  Turn machine on and let it churn for 30 minutes or until mixture is fairly stiff.  Scoop into bowls and serve with coconut sorbet.  Top with blueberries.

It is so good, I even shared a bit with my Cooking Assistant.