Swiss Chard… a farmer’s market treasure! By Nikki

Oberusel, Germany Farmer's Market

Oberursel, Germany Farmer’s Market

This past week, our school has been on holiday for October break. Allison and myself traveled to Frankfurt, Germany to visit our good friend Anne. I have traveled many places with Anne and together we have found local food markets to purchase goodies for our various holiday adventures. Last weekend, while we wandered in the local farmer’s market in the quaint town of Oberursel, I found Swiss chard at one of the large vegetable tents.

the colorful leafy, greens

the colorful leafy, greens

Chard is one of my favorite things to eat from my mother’s garden! Swiss chard is the colorful, leafy green. It can sometimes taste bitter, similar to kale; however, with butter and garlic, it sautes beautifully- and tastes delicious. Anne’s menu plan for the evening was to roast a cut of beef and serve with a red wine mushroom sauce that Anne’s mother used to make. At the market, we were happy to find green beans, fingerling potatoes, and this chard to compliment the meal.

rainbow stems

rainbow stems

My mother would cut the stems of this chard 3/4 of the way and throw the whole leaf with stem connected, into a pan of shallow water to steam. I prefer to cut the stems off at the base of the leaves, chop the stems into small pieces and saute them separately. Add the chopped stems to a pan of sizzling butter and garlic and saute for 7-8 minutes, stirring frequently.

yummy

saute in butter and garlic

I cut the big, chard leaves into strips and add them into the same pan as the cut stems.

cut and ready to steam

cut and ready to steam

Add about 1/3 cup water, put a lid on top and let it steam for 5-6 minutes. When it is ready, you should strain the cooked chard to let the water run off.

ready to steam

ready to steam

I have never been one to enjoy cooked spinach, so when I make chard, I don’t let it get to that point where it is wilted. I prefer my greens to remain leafy with a slight crisp, and the beauty of chard is that you can cook it to your preference. We served ours with skirt steak stuffed with a sauteed zucchini and mushrooms, topped with a red wine, mushroom sauce. We also ate sides of steamed green beans and roasted, fingerling potatoes. Our German farmer’s market adventure turned into a beautiful plate of deliciousness! Thank you Anne for a wonderful meal…

Enjoy!

Enjoy!

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Goodbye Summer Fruit Pudding by L

Yep, Summer’s gone. Totally gone. The temperatures have fallen. Sweaters, thick jackets and wooly hats have replaced our tank tops, flip-flops and shorts. Our sidewalks are now scattered with red, yellow and brown leaves. Apples of every size and shape, pumpkins big and small and the scent of mulled wine can be found at the stalls of our Farmers’ Markets.  Autumn has come to town.

Summer's delight

Summer’s delight

Luckily, I was able to squeeze in this lovely dessert full of summer’s fruity collection. One last goodbye. One last delight. One last bite of summer.

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This pudding comes from Jamie Oliver’s cookbook, The Return of the Naked Chef.  (Thanks Claire!) His recipe called for peaches, but it could be easily substituted for other fruits. Whichever way you decide, I’m sure it will be a winner.

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It tastes best warm and with a dollop of anything that is white and creamy: a scoop of vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or creme fraiche.

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Let me know which fruits you decide to add! Enjoy!

The recipe in Jamie Oliver’s book is called “Sheila’s Pudding,” but is based on the classic Eve’s pudding (made with stewed apples). Since I’ve continued to play with the recipe, I think I’ll call it- Liezel’s Pudding!

Liezel’s Pudding (adapted from The Return of the Naked Chef)

About 2 cups of mixed fruit: I used nectarines, peaches, blueberries and plums.

Except for the blueberries, cut the rest of the fruits in half and remove the pits.

1 vanilla pod, scored and seeds removed

4 teaspoons demerara sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

125 g butter

125 g caster sugar

2 eggs

125 self-raising flour

Preheat the oven to 180/350.

Put fruits in a saucepan together with the sugar, vanilla seeds, cinnamon if using and 4 tablespoons of water.

Simmer for 5 minutes.

Then place on a well-greased and lightly floured ovenproof dish or bowl.

Beat the butter, caster sugar and eggs until light and fluffy.

Then add flour, mix thoroughly and spread over the fruit.

Bake in oven for 45 minutes.

Remove and serve with something cold, creamy and white! (Vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or creme fraiche)

When Autumn falls… it’s time for chilli!

When the chill of the autumn air hits, it is time to start warming ourselves with soups and hot meals. Chilli is one of my favorite fall (and winter) foods. Chili is versatile and can be made for meat lovers or vegetarians. It is also a crowd-pleaser for a football gathering or on game night. You can dress chilli up with a variety of toppings such as cheddar cheese, sour cream, or jalapenos!  l prefer mine topped with a dollop of light sour cream and crunchy tortilla chips! What’s your favorite chili recipe? I would live to hear from you and possibly give your favorite recipes a try during this chilly-chilli season! Enjoy

It's Chilli time!

It’s Chilli time!

Spicy Vegetarian Chili

Ingredients: 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 medium white onion, 2 medium red, bell peppers, 4 cloves of garlic, 1 tablespoons chilli powder (2 if you want is SUPER spicy!) , 2 teaspoons dried oregano, 1 + 1/2 teaspoons dried cumin, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 3 cans of whole tomatoes, 1 can of kidney beans, 1 small can of yellow corn, 2 large carrots, 1 cup fresh green beans.

additional ingredients: chopped, fresh cilantro (corriander), sour cream, cheddar cheese, chopped green onions, jalapenos, and/or tortilla chips

Directions: Heat oil over in a large, soup pot over medium heat. Add onions, bell peppers and garlic and saute until onions soften. (about ten minutes) Mix in chilli powder, oregano, cumin and black pepper. Add tomatoes, carrots and green beans and cook on medium heat for 8-10 minutes.  Turn heat to low, add beans and corn and let cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. When ready, ladle into bowls and top with your favorite toppings or dip a piece of bread and enjoy!

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cake by Allison

Gluten-free Pumpkin Cake 

I’ve made this pumpkin cake at least four times in the last two weeks for social gatherings and I keep getting asked, “Can I please have the recipe?” So here it is again below! Enjoy!

Pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere.   With October in full swing and Halloween just around the corner, one can see all the different varieties of pumpkins stacked on top of one another at the farmers’ markets. Pumpkins were for carving when I was younger, or even for coloring as I won a “pumpkin decorating” content at the co-op one year by drawing hair on my pumpkin with a marker, I’m sure that was the deciding factor in me bringing home the grand-prize!

When my Mom made her fabulous pumpkin cake, she used Libby’s canned pumpkin, and the cake turned out delicious every time. When I moved to Prague there was a shop where I could purchase the infamous Libby’s canned pumpkin, but the supply was not consistent as I’m sure people were hoarding cans of this coveted goodness to squirrel away for Thanksgiving or another yummy dish of some sort for the future. During my second year in Prague, the shop closed and was replaced by a museum, which was not conducive to impressing cake lovers in my social circle with my amazing pumpkin cake.

Liezel suggested I try roasting my own pumpkin instead, so when I ventured into uncharted pumpkin roasting territory and made my first cake with homemade pumpkin puree, the result was better, way better. So goodbye Libby’s canned pumpkin, so long, farewell and I don’t think I’ll ever need you again. I’ve got bags of frozen pumpkin puree in my freezer ready and waiting to become future and fabulous pumpkin cake. When I had to go gluten-free nearly two years ago, I thought the days of eating to-die-for pumpkin cake were over, but I was so wrong. Luckily, this happens to be one of those recipes where a direct substitution of gluten-free four and gluten-free baking powder work magically, thank goodness my life is not without pumpkin cake after all.

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups pureed pumpkin
  • 2 cups gluten-free flour (Marks & Spencer gluten-free flour blend works great for this recipe)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder (can be found at Interspar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon*
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger*
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves*
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg*

* May substitute all these ingredients with 1 tablespoon and 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice.

Cream cheese frosting (optional)

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
Directions:
Roast the pumpkin
Cut your pumpkin into quarters, core and remove seeds. Place skin-side up and flesh side down on a roasting pan and add water to cover the bottom of the pan. Roast at 200 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour,  Baked until pumpkin flesh tests uniformly tender when fork is inserted. Let cool, discard the skin of the pumpkin and add the pumpkin to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
Prepare the cake
Preheat oven to 170 degrees C. Combine first four ingredients in a large bowl. Using a wire whisk, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices; add to pumpkin mixture and mix well. Pour into greased 9″ x 13″ pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool. Beat together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract, gradually add powdered sugar. Frost cooled cake. Cut and share with friends! Enjoy!