Cook-Along

50 MPH Tomatoes-Good Year Round!

Accidental Locavore My 50 MPH TomatoesKnowing that these are one of my husband’s favorite appetizers at Cafe Miranda, being the proud owner of their cookbook, Adventures in Comfort Food, and having a big bowlful of tomatoes, the Accidental Locavore needed to take this recipe for a test drive. Luckily, this actually works better on less-than-perfect tomatoes, so go for it! Serves 2 as a large appetizer or side dish:

For the sauce:

  • ½ cup mayo
  • 1 tablespoon hot pepper relish
  • 2 teaspoons sweet pickle relish
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried onion or minced fresh onion
  • 2 pinches dried dill

Accidental Locavore 50 MPH SauceFor the tomatoes:

  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • Salt & pepper
  • ½ pound (1 large) tomato cut into 1” slices (horizontal)
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Scallions, sliced for garnish

Mix the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Put the cornmeal, salt & pepper in a shallow bowl. Coat tomatoes with the cornmeal mix, pressing slightly to make sure they adhere.

In a heavy 12” frying pan (cast iron is ideal) over medium heat, heat ¼” oil until hot – don’t let it smoke. Fry the tomatoes for 5 minutes until golden brown, carefully flip and fry another 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Smear the dressing on a plate. Plate tomatoes side by side on the dressing so they stay crisp. Sprinkle with scallions, serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore 50 MPH TomatoesMy verdict: Delicious! Not as good as being at Miranda (this photo is from there), but not bad for a first attempt. The sauce is a great version of Russian dressing with a little heat! I didn’t have any hot pepper relish, so I used slightly less than 3 tablespoons of India relish (and a little squirt of Sriracha in Kerry’s honor), the juice of half a lime and fresh dill in place of dried.

Kerry says this is a good way to use less than perfect tomatoes, so remember it for when you’re a bit discouraged by the tomatoes in the market. When I made it, it was tomato season, and we used a couple of big, beautiful beefsteaks, so they just needed about 3-4 minutes a side. The cornmeal crust was nice and crunchy, we just needed more of it, so next time I’m just going to eyeball a dish full so they get a better crust. Chives made a good garnish as there were no scallions.

 

 

Caramel and Chocolate Tart

Accidental Locavore Caramel TartWhile the Accidental Locavore isn’t usually much of a baker (no patience for following directions), occasionally one needs to come up with a dessert, especially around the holidays. I saw this from Dorie Greenspan’s new book, Baking Chez Moi and thought it looked like something I could do. This isn’t difficult, you just have to be careful with the caramel and pull it off the heat when it starts to get golden. Makes a 9” tart.

 

For the pastry:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 large egg yolk

For the filling:

  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 large egg yolks

Accidental Locavore Chocolate for TartFor the pastry: In a food processor, pulse together the flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt. Add the butter and pulse until it’s the size of small peas. Add the egg yolk and pulse in 10-second increments until incorporated (about 4 long pulses). Transfer the pastry to a sheet of parchment paper, pat it into a disk and cover with another sheet of parchment paper. Roll out the pastry to a 12” round. Slide the whole thing onto a baking sheet. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Remove from the refrigerator and let the pastry stand at room temperature for 5 minutes to soften. Discard the top sheet of parchment paper and invert the pastry into a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom; fit the pastry into the pan and trim the overhang. Prick the pastry all over with a fork and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400°. Line the tart shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the pastry is set and lightly browned at the edge. Remove the parchment paper and weights and bake the pastry for 5 minutes more, until lightly browned on the bottom. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°.

For the filling: In a microwave-safe small bowl, microwave the chocolate in 30-second bursts, just until melted. Let cool slightly. Pour the melted chocolate into the baked tart shell, spreading it evenly over the bottom and set aside.

In a small skillet, stir 1/3 cup of the granulated sugar with the lemon juice and ¼ cup of water over moderately high heat until the sugar dissolves. Cook, without stirring, until the mixture starts to color, about 5 minutes. Continue cooking, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula, until a lightly golden caramel forms, about 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the butter, 1 piece at a time. Stir in the cream and salt then let the caramel cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining 1/3 cup of granulated sugar until smooth. Slowly stir the caramel into the egg yolk mixture then pour the custard evenly over the chocolate in the tart shell. Transfer the tart to a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the crust is browned and the filling is still slightly wobbly in the middle. Transfer the tart to a rack and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until set and thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours. Unmold, serve and enjoy!

My verdict: Cream, chocolate, caramel, butter, what’s not to like? Although this takes a bit of time, it’s definitely worth it! Be sure to have the cream at room temperature (or even a little warm) as it will harden the caramel if it’s too cold. That’s really the only tricky part. The crust is a good one and would go well with other fillings. If you don’t have pie weights or beans, small dried pasta (like macaroni) works well. I garnished my tart with a little shaved chocolate, but if you needed to be trendy, you could sprinkle a little Maldon salt on top.

 

David Lebovitz’s Salted Olive Crisps

Accidental Locavore Olive ToastsWhen the Accidental Locavore first saw this recipe in My Paris Kitchen, I knew I had to try it. There were a bunch of oil-cured olives in the fridge, so it was just a matter of finding some whole wheat flour and buttermilk. The buttermilk appeared in the latest butter-making process, and the whole wheat flour is local. This is adapted from My Paris Kitchen, and as David says, requires the use of a good bread knife.

  • ½ cup (70g) all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup (70g) whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
  • ½ teaspoon sea or kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup (45g) pine nuts, very coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup (60g) oil cured olives, packed and coarsely chopped (about 20 olives)

Accidental Locavore Olive Crisps DoughPreheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 9” loaf pan with non-stick spray, or oil it lightly. Line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper.

In a bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, herbes de Provence, salt, baking soda, and pepper. Stir in the buttermilk, mix in the olives and nuts. Pour into the baking pan.

Bake for 30 minutes, until it feels set in the center. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edges to loosen it, remove from the pan and set on a wire rack to cool.

Accidental Locavore Olive Crisps LoafDecrease the oven temperature to 325°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Holding the outside edges of the loaf firmly, to keep the edges from crumbling, slice the loaf as thinly as possible, aiming for ¼” thick slices. Lay the slices on the baking sheets. Bake for 30-35 minutes, flipping the slices after 15 minutes. Keep an eye on them during the last few minutes of cooking, you want them to be a deep golden brown, so they’ll crisp up when cooled.

Remove from oven and cool completely on wire racks. The crisps can be stored for up to 1 week in an airtight container. Serve (with some great cheese) and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Olive Crisps With ChevreMy verdict: The first thing I baked in my new oven, these come together really easily and tasted great! The only difficult thing is cutting them perfectly. I used pine nuts instead of almonds (which were in the original recipe) and it was tough cutting through them. It’s nice to have the crunch of the nuts, but it would be a lot easier cutting cleanly, without them. My only other complaint (and its minor) was that I tossed the leftover crisps in a Ziploc bag and they lost their crispness. Now, there are two solutions: finish them or toss the leftovers in the toaster-you choose. We ate them with a nice chèvre, which was a pretty perfect combination. Try them the next time you’re serving a cheese plate, they make a nice change from the usual baguette or crackers.

Chicken With Mustard and Bacon

Accidental Locavore Mustard Chicken With AsparagusThe Accidental Locavore was lucky enough to get an advance copy of David Lebovitz’s new book My Paris Kitchen, which I’ll tell you all about on April 7th.  The recipes look great and the first one I put to the test was this one for poulet à la moutarde. It was one of those “what’s not to like?” recipes, with bacon and so much mustard I actually ran out of Dijon – something I wouldn’t have thought possible! This serves 4.

  • ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon sweet or smoked paprika
  • Black pepper
  • ¾ teaspoon salt (Kosher or sea salt)
  • 4 chicken legs and 4 thighs
  • 1 cup bacon, thick cut and diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried
  • Olive oil (optional)
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 tablespoon whole mustard seeds or grainy mustard
  • 2-3 tablespoons crème fraîche or heavy cream
  • Chopped parsley or chives for garnish

In a bowl big enough to hold the chicken, mix ½ cup of the Dijon with the paprika, salt and pepper. Toss the chicken in the mustard, coating the pieces well, and rubbing some of it under the skin.

Heat a big skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat and add the bacon. Cook until the bacon is just starting to brown. Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels. Leave about 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat in the pan and discard the rest.

Add the onion and cook about 5 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the thyme, cook for another few minutes and scrape everything into a medium-sized bowl.

Accidental Locavore Mustard ChickenIncrease the heat to medium-high, add a little olive oil if needed and the chicken pieces in one layer. Don’t crowd them and cook in two batches if necessary. Brown them well on one side and then flip them over and brown the other side. Give it time as you want the chicken to be really browned as this is where the flavor comes from.

Remove the chicken from the pan and put it in the bowl with the onions. Add the wine to the pan and scrape off the bits that have stuck to the pan. Add the chicken, onions and bacon back to the pan. Cover and cook over medium heat until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes (165° on an instant-read thermometer). While the chicken is cooking, stir it a couple of times, to coat with the sauce.

Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the mustard seeds or grainy mustard and the crème fraîche into the sauce. Sprinkle the parsley over the top, serve and enjoy!

My verdict: Wonderful! An important lesson I learned from Gabriel Rucker and again, making this recipe, is that you really have to have some patience (something I have in terribly short supply) and let the meat really brown – it makes a world of difference! This is a pretty classic recipe and I’ve done a variation of it with rabbit – also delicious! Since Frank isn’t fond of chicken legs, I just used thighs and that worked fine. As you read in the intro, I ran out of smooth Dijon, so added in about 3-4 tablespoons of grainy Dijon, which was fine. If you used a good, strong Dijon, it will give you more of a pronounced mustard taste (which is a good thing – right?). He suggests serving it with some fresh pasta, but rice or mashed potatoes would soak up the sauce nicely too. Definitely give it a try, it’s probably under an hour, start to finish.

Croque Madame Muffins: A Great Brunch Recipe!

Accidental Locavore Croque MadameAlthough the Accidental Locavore never has white bread in the house, for this recipe from Rachel Khoo’s great book The Little Paris Kitchen, I snuck out and bought a loaf. As with anything this simple, the better your ingredients, the better tasting the results. This is her version of a croque madame, which is traditionally a croque monsieur with a fried egg on top. The sauce will serve 6, it’s up to you to make as many “muffins” as you’d like. It should take you less than an hour from start to finish.

For the mornay sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • ¾ cup milk, warmed (you want it lukewarm)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated if possible)
  • ¼ cup grated Gruyère cheese (plus a little more for sprinkling on top)
  • Salt and pepper (purists would use white pepper here)

For the muffins:

  • 6 large slices white bread, crusts removed (I’ve been using Pepperidge Farms Farmhouse White, which works well)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 ½ ounces ham, thinly sliced or cut into strips
  • 6 eggs

Accidental Locavore Bechamel SauceTo make the sauce, melt the butter in a small pan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk hard until you have a smooth paste. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 2 minutes. Gradually add the warm milk, whisking constantly. Put the pan back on the heat, add the mustard and nutmeg and simmer gently for 10 minutes, whisking frequently. The sauce should thicken and be the consistency of thick tomato sauce. Remove from the heat, stir in the cheese and add the salt and pepper. Taste for seasonings and set aside.

To make the muffins, preheat the oven to 350°. Flatten the bread with a rolling pin (or a wine bottle) to about ¼”. Brush both sides with the melted butter and place in a muffin pan. Press into place. Then, add an equal amount of ham to each and top with an egg. Add 2 tablespoons of sauce to each and sprinkle with the rest of the Gruyère. Bake for 15-20 minutes depending on how runny you like your eggs. Serve and enjoy!

My verdict: I’ve made these twice for brunch, they’re pretty easy and taste great. Since I currently don’t own a muffin pan, I’ve been cooking them in ceramic ramekins on a cookie sheet. The advantage is that you can have more stuff in each one and use bigger eggs, the disadvantage is the cooking time ends up being close to 30 minutes. We tried using brioche tins, but they were a mess and impossible to clean. The last time I made them, I had great Serrano ham, fresh eggs from my friend Bill and aged Gruyère from Murray’s…pretty spectacular! If you wanted to do them for a bigger meal, a simple salad would go nicely.

Update: Bought a muffin pan and it made a huge difference! Only one thing to think about, you’ll need smallish eggs when you use the muffin tin. Also, having the bechamel sauce made ahead of time makes this done in a half an hour. Added bonus, run the crusts of the bread through the food processor to make fresh bread crumbs!

 

 

Accidental Locavore Recipe for Corn Soup

Accidental Locavore Corn SoupThe Accidental Locavore can’t think of a cozier place to be on a snowy January day, then in the kitchen. Rather than shovel snow, or worse, get stuck watching football, the Locavore thought  it was time for corn soup. This recipe, adapted from Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain cookbook, has intrigued me since this summer, and because of it, there were a dozen corn cobs and a large bag of frozen kernels in my freezer. It would serve about 4 big bowls and took about 1 1/2 hours, mostly unattended.

For the stock:

  • 12 ears of corn, shucked
  • 1 small yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf

For the chowder:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 slices, bacon (optional), sliced into 1/4″ strips
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
  • Salt, pepper and sugar, to taste

Using a sharp knife, cut the kernels from the corn. Cut the cobs in half and put in a large stock pot. Put the kernels on a baking sheet. Add to the stockpot: the bay leaf, onion and 2 quarts water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the cobs and cook until it’s reduced to about 5 cups of liquid.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Toss the corn kernels, garlic and bacon on the baking sheet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in the oven, stirring once or twice until slightly golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Remove the garlic from the corn and bacon mix. Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook while stirring, for 1 minute. Add the wine, bring to a boil, and cook for about 5 minutes, until the alcohol is evaporated. Add the corn kernels and bacon and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the stock, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and cook for another 30 minutes.

If you like your soup really smooth, purée it in a blender (and if you like it really smooth, strain it after blending it). If, like the Locavore, you prefer it a little chunky, remove about 1/4 cup of the kernels and some of the bacon and set aside. Purée the remaining soup in a blender, food processor, or use a stick blender until you reach the desired texture.

Stir in the creme fraiche or sour cream, the kernels and bacon you set aside. Taste and add salt, pepper and sugar as needed. Serve and enjoy!

My verdict: this was really good, maybe not as good as the corn and potato chowder I usually make, but a good variation. Bobby Flay’s original recipe has you add sugar in before blending and that made it too sweet. The Locavore likes using the cobs to make stock and next summer, will just collect them and toss them in the freezer for future soups. Since I was using frozen cobs and kernels, everything took longer, but the end result was delicious! I also tossed in a little jalapeño Tabasco sauce to give it a little kick.

Frank’s verdict: really good. He would have liked a little more texture, which was easily remedied by adding in some more kernels.

 

Recipe for Mexican Style Fish With Potatoes and Salsa

Accidental Locavore Mexican FishSo far, the Accidental Locavore has stuck to my once-a-week seafood goal. A piece of cod found in the freezer clean-out inspired this recipe, based on one of my favorites: Rick Bayliss’ Mexican Everyday. Below is his recipe, for 4 people. It’s easy and fast. I use half the potatoes and fish to serve 2 and keep the rest of the salsa for other uses. 

  • 4 medium new or Yukon Gold potatoes (1lb) sliced 1/4″ thick
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
  • Salt
  • 1-15 ounce can diced tomatoes (fire roasted if you can find them)
  • 1 large garlic clove, cut in half
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup sliced, pickled jalapeños ( use jarred nacho slices), plus 1 tablespoon of the liquid
  • 4 4-6 ounce skinless fish fillets (mahi mahi, halibut, black cod, a firm white fish works best here)

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the potatoes in a microwave and oven-safe dish big enough to hold the potatoes in a single layer. Drizzle on the oil, sprinkle with salt, toss to combine and place the potatoes in a single layer. Cover and microwave until the potatoes are barely tender, about 4-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in the food processor combine the tomatoes with their juice, garlic, cilantro and jalapeños and their juice. Process until puréed with a little texture.

Layer the fish in a single layer over the potatoes. Top with the salsa.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the fish flakes and is just opaque in the thickest part. Serve and enjoy!

My verdict: this time I used my own tomatillo salsa (click here for the recipe) and the cod from the freezer. It was good but not great. The cod would have stood up to the regular tomatoes and jalapeños. With the tomatillo salsa I would have liked a sweeter white fish. Adding a good squirt of lime helped. If you do want to use your own, or a jarred salsa, just leave out the last four ingredients (keep the jalapeños if you like the heat).

 

Accidental Locavore: Recipe for Scallop, Potato and Beurre Blanc

Accidental Locavore Finger LimesSuddenly, the Accidental Locavore has been hearing a lot about finger limes. For something that wasn’t even on my radar, all of a sudden, they’re everywhere. When Fresh Direct had them as a President’s Pick recently, I decided to take them for a test drive.

If you live in a more citrus-friendly place (almost anywhere south of here), you’re probably thinking, finger limes, no big deal. Fine. For the rest of us, they’re kind of cool. Small and in various shades of red/burgundy/brown/green, finger limes have very distinct flesh, resembling grains of caviar (except prettier, being the palest pink). And treating the pulp like caviar is a great way to serve it.Accidental Locavire Finger Limes Cut

The Locavore decided to use them as a garnish for seared sea scallops on sliced Yukon Gold Potatoes in a beurre blanc sauce. This, with some sautéed spinach, fed 2. Timing is a little tight, but you could do what I did and just keep all the components in a warm oven until you’re ready to assemble.

  • 2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced into ½” slices (peeling optional). You need 8 slices
  •  1/3 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar (I used 2 tbsp white balsamic, 1 of sherry)
  • 1 large shallot, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in tablespoon-sized pieces
  • Salt & white pepper (if you have it, it’s just for looks, otherwise use black)
  • 8 sea scallops
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (or a mix of butter & oil)
  • 5-6 finger limes, cut off the end and gently squeeze the pellets into a small dish

Accidental Locavore Finger Lime CaviarBoil the potatoes in a medium pan of water with salt added, over medium-high heat until just tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, pat dry and set aside.

Boil the vinegar, water and shallots in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat until mixture is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add cream, reduce heat to low. Whisk in one piece of butter at a time, until they’re all melted and combined. Strain sauce, pressing on shallots, to get as much liquid out of them. Return to pan and place in a warm (as low as it goes) oven to keep warm.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over a medium-high heat. Add the potato slices and cook until golden brown on each side, about 5 minutes a side. Put on a plate and keep warm in the oven

Pat dry the scallops. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and dredge in the flour, shaking off excess. Add the scallops to the pan that the potatoes were in and cook until golden brown and just opaque in the center about 1 ½ minutes a side.

Pour the beurre blanc sauce on two plates. Place the potatoes on the sauce and top each with a scallop. Garnish with the finer lime “caviar”, serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Scallop PotatoMy verdict: The finger limes added a nice citrus crunch to the scallops. It was like the crunch you get from an inside-out sushi roll. I’m not a caviar fan, so this was a great way of getting that nice tiny crunch without the fishy taste (and not so budget-busting). The scallops were perfectly cooked and went well with the beurre blanc sauce. I thought about adding a little lime zest to the beurre blanc, but got lazy. Not sure the potatoes were essential and if I did it again, might use a more starchier potato. This was a very fancy looking dinner, (that tasted as good as it looked) without being too fussy or time-consuming.

Frank’s verdict: “Excellent!” He would have poured some of the sauce over the top of the scallops and spread out the lime a little more (he didn’t know how sticky it was!). Otherwise he was a happy eater!

Cook-Along Recipe for Shrimp With Feta Cheese

Accidental Locavore Shrimp With FetaFor 2012, The Accidental Locavore decided to make eating seafood at least once a week a priority. Part of the reason we don’t eat as much of it as we should is that upstate we’re really limited in our sources for good fish. Because we have such good relations with a couple of local purveyors, it’s easy to revert to meat. To make this resolution stick, the Locavore is going to pick a recipe each week and revisit the Cook-Along, this time with seafood. First up, an old Greek favorite:  shrimp with feta cheese. There are lots of recipes online for them. I started with one from The Olive and the Caper and quickly deviated. It’s really quick and this will serve 2:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1-14 ounce can diced tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted (if you can get really good tomatoes, use about 3 of them instead)
  • 1 tablespoon ouzo, or brandy (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
  • Pepper, to taste
  • ¾ pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 4 ounces Greek feta cheese, crumbled in big chunks

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. While the oven is heating, heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until just soft, not browned, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes and their juice, the brandy, dill and pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the tomatoes have started to meld into the sauce. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the shrimp. Put in a gratin pan or shallow casserole (I used two small gratin pans) and top with the feta. Bake (uncovered) for about 6 minutes until the feta has just started to turn golden on the corners (it doesn’t melt, but will soften). Sprinkle some of the dill on top for garnish, serve and enjoy.

My verdict: 3.5 out of 5. I used a can of fire-roasted tomatoes with chiles. The chiles didn’t add anything and while not terribly spicy, it was enough heat to be noticeable (and not welcome). If I were cooking this for more people and/or wanted to stretch it, it would be tempting to braise a little fennel and add that plus some Greek olives and serve it over orzo. The shrimp were lovely and tender, and went nicely with the creaminess of the feta. I didn’t get much taste from the dill, it might just have traveled too far.

Sorry about the fuzzy photo, the Locavore must have been hungry…

 

Cook-Along Recipe: Blueberry Caramel Sauce

Accidental Locavore Blueberry Caramel SauceBlueberry caramel sauce recipe, easy and delicious, and in about five months local too! In the meantime, the Accidental Locavore had gotten a big container of blueberries, and decided to put them to use as a dessert for the corned beef and cabbage Charcutepalooza dinner. Come summer this recipe will be made with local blueberries and my own ice cream, but since it’s still March and the sugar for the caramel will never be local…

This recipe for blueberry caramel sauce is adapted from Gordon Hamersley’s Bistro Cooking at Home. It’s easy and quick and makes a lot (2 1/2 cups). He suggests serving it with a peach galette, but I went straight for vanilla ice cream. My friend took some home, and we were wondering how it would be over waffles or pancakes. What do you think?

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 cups blueberries, washed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup or more to taste, fresh lime juice
  • optional: 2 tablespoons butter (I was fooling around and added the butter, figuring it couldn’t hurt)

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, cook the sugar to a light amber color. Cook it slowly and stir it to keep it from cooking too fast and getting a burnt taste. The sugar might harden, just keep cooking and stirring it until it smooths out. Add the blueberries and water to the cooked sugar. Be careful! The caramel will bubble and steam, so don’t stand right over the pot. The sauce will harden up because you’re adding cold berries, but will remelt as it heats up. Cover the pan and reduce to low. Simmer until most of the blueberries have popped, about 5 minutes. Remove the lid and stir to dissolve any lumps of caramel. Remove from the heat and strain the sauce to remove the blueberry skins and any hardened bits of caramel. Return to a saucepan, add the lime juice, and butter if you’re using it. You may also want to add a little salt to balance the flavor. Cook over medium-high heat until the sauce has reduced and isn’t too runny. Serve at room temperature or slightly warm. Enjoy!

If your pan has hardened sugar on it the best way to clean it is to fill it with enough water to cover the hardened sugar. Heat it, stirring occasionally until the sugar is melted, then it will clean up easily.

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