In my neck of the woods (So. Florida), the temperatures are climbing. Without a doubt, the calendar might say otherwise; but, the sizzling days of summer have arrived and so are the crispy corns of summer.
Decided to honor one of summer’s wholesome foods by grilling a couple corns on the cob.
As I removed the kernels, I had to pull myself away from the sweet and crispy treats. I nibbled on quite a few as they made their on the chopping board. These will be added into a warm bed of assorted veggies consisting of:
mini sweet peppers of assorted colors
Then, I will season with a pinch of salt and black pepper. I will make a slightly sour and sweet dressing made from honey and a splash of vinegar along with finely chopped parsley.
Thunderstorms couldn’t keep me away from my kitchenette. In fact, it was the opposite. You see, rainy weather lures me to my cooking range. And, that’s what it did this evening. Originally, I was planning on Chinese delivery; however, my culinary mind sent me searching for supplies (well, food).
The first thing that caught my eyes were my vine-ripe tomatoes. Those super-red and over-ripened fruits/veggies were begging to be rescued. So, I did. I rinsed same and retrieved for my other ingredients:
Eggplant parmesan was on my mind. However, I didn’t have the cheese of the hour. Moreover, there was no fresh basil. I did not allow that to damper my dish at hand. Decided to improvise and made my style, Eggplant with Feta cheese. Bought the cheese on sale for sometime; maybe a couple of months and stored the reserve in the freezer.
First, I made a home-made tomato sauce with my vine-ripe tomatoes. I softened finely chopped onions in olive oil. Then, chopped tomatoes, crushed garlic, thyme, dried basil, oregano, salt, black pepper, squeeze of honey and a splash of red-wine vinegar were added. I allowed these ingredients to simmer on low heat while I attended to my purple boy.
Grabbed my chopping board and went to ‘town’ with my big purple boy (eggplant).
Slices were seasoned with a pinch of salt and black pepper. I fleetingly thought about placing them in an egg wash, sprinkle bread crumbs and pan-frying. But, decided to employ the use of my grill pan. This move (grilling) saved me quite a few calories from pan-frying.
I was ready for action. Grilled eggplant slices were plated and fresh home-made tomato sauce was spooned on each slice with a sprinkle of the briny feta cheese. Didn’t have fresh basil in-house. I didn’t allow that to rain on my ‘parade’. Instead, I used thinly sliced kale I had on had.
I was super-happy. I served a few slices with a few roasted spicy jerk wings and sweet potatoes.
It’s the week-end; and, I’m in a kind of naughty mood. You see, in my culinary mind’s eye, there’s a full blue moon. And, when this rarity develops, almost anything can occur in my kitchen.
I was in the mood for something a tad salty, spicy and chock-full of amazing flavors. Moreover, I craved something that reminded me of my earlier years in Jamaica. Thus, all roads led me to fillet pickled red herring.
Herring pieces were cut into smaller portions. And because pickled red herring contains extra sodium I made sure to extract same. I did this by repeatedly rinsing, soaking and boiling for a few minutes until I was satisfied with the level of sodium I needed.
In a hot skillet, a drizzle of coconut oil was added. Then, sliced onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, scotch bonnet peppers, crushed pimento and garlic were sautéed on low to medium heat.
Pickled red herring was then added and allowed to simmer under low heat in order to absorb all the aromatic flavors. Also, because seafood loves acid, a drizzle of vinegar was added along with a pinch of sugar for a fine balance.
What a difference a day makes! Once again, we here in South Florida, U.S.A. have been blessed with a snippet of Fall. I woke up to the trees doing their signature dance as the blustery winds took hold of their branches. I was also fortunate to behold the trees ridding themselves of a few weakened leaves that made a little mess on my back patio. I didn’t mind. After all, its Fall Florida-style.
It seemed like the geese and the ducks felt the change; and, they too went prancing along. With a slightly cool and refreshing wind brushing my cheeks and shoulders, I took that as my cue to retreat to my kitchen. Something warm and comforting was on my mind. So, I reached for my baking sheet tray and lined same with foil paper.
I decided to make a roasted carrot,sweet potato and pumpkin soup. I retrieved a few carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and onions and cut them in wedges. I drizzled them with a little canola oil and sprinkled a cinnamon, salt, and paprika on them.
These were roasted in a preheated oven at 410 degrees for approximately 35 minutes. As the heat hit them, the spices perfumed my space and reminded me that it was Fall. These were then cooled.
In a stockpot, a drizzle of olive oil was added. Roughly chopped celery, onion, and crushed garlic were softened and seasoned with a pinch of salt and black pepper. These were then added to roasted root vegetables and pureed with chicken stock to a chunky finish.
Soup was returned to stockpot. Fresh thyme and chicken noodle along with a little cold tap water were added to further enhance the taste and flavors. Soup was simmered on low heat for approximately fifteen to twenty minutes until heated through and arrived at the preferred consistency.
As I sipped my warm and satisfying soup,on my patio by the water nearby, I smiled. I was in a perfect place. A place where the animal lives ran wild and free, a place where the trees were alive and the sound of carefree kids squealed with delight.
I’m being pro-active. You see, once again, Mother Nature is playing tricks. One would think by now the cool days of autumn would be gracing us with its presence. But no! We’re still patiently awaiting the refreshing conditions of Fall in South Florida. Temperatures are flirting in the 80’s and 90’s which makes it feel like summer.
I’ve decided to take matters in my hands. And, what better way to do so than retreating to my humble kitchen. Call me ‘nut’s; but, I did a nosedive of sort to my thermostat. I placed it in the late sixties. That felt like Fall Florida-style. I smiled and shivered a bit.
Apples are one of the popular fruits of Fall. As a result, their prices are relatively inexpensive. I bought some McIntosh as well as a bottle of Apple Cider. I had a plan. I decided to slowly braise some drumsticks and thighs (skinless/bone-in) flavored with apple cider. I took a sip of the cider (which are basically pressed apples) and found it not overly sweet, tart and refreshing. I knew my drumsticks and thighs were going to be super-happy.
Overnight, I chopped my drumsticks and thighs in smaller portions. These were seasoned with salt, black pepper, paprika, grated onions and crushed garlic. The other ingredients used were:
A drizzle of olive oil was added to skillet.
Remnants of garlic and onion were removed from chicken pieces and dried.
A very light sprinkle of whole-wheat flour was applied to chicken pieces. This action also aided in the thickening the sauce later. Chicken pieces were then seared on both sides on medium to high heat so as to lock in flavors. These were set aside.
Chopped root vegetables were added to skillet under low to medium heat. These were seasoned with a sprinkle of paprika, salt,black pepper, and a splash of vinegar. Fresh rosemary and thyme were also added.
As soon as veggies were sautéed and combined, apple cider was added along with cold tap water.
Seared chicken pieces were added back to skillet.
This was simmered under low to medium heat for approximately 30 to 40 minutes or until fork tender (a fall from the bone effect).
Half-way through cooking process, chicken pieces were turned and to ascertain if additional liquid was needed.
Braised chicken was served with a creamy Irish potato side dish and a fresh spinach and tomato salad.(Not in pic). As I sat and devoured my comfort dish, I reached for my warm throw making sure not to spill any of that rich sauce on same.
Mother Nature has a way of reminding us that it’s time to make that switch. She does so by orchestrating the beautiful trees within our midst. As they sway and perform their dances, we know it’s that time of year; a time when the air is dry and a little crispy.
For me, it’s the perfect indicator to head to my kitchen and pamper this stomach and palate of mine. And, what better way to warm and care for my culinary needs than with some chicken, pumpkin, assorted vegetables and spices all in a stockpot in the form of soup.
I love soup because it is very satisfying and healthy. This one pot wonder is loaded with nutrients such as, protein from the chicken, and large amounts of vitamins, mineral, fibers and other beneficial nutrients that are great for the body.
I didn’t need a large amount of chicken to ‘kick-off’ my chicken and veggie soup. I used the dark portions of the chicken. I would’ve also preferred the backbone and other bony sections of the fowl; however, I rolled with what I had on hand. I chopped a couple of drumsticks and thigh in small portions. I seasoned with a salt and black pepper and seared these for a few minutes in a sturdy stock pot with a drizzle of olive oil.
To that, I added chopped onions, carrots, pumpkin pieces, and other root veggies. These were combined and coated with the warmth of the chicken pieces. I made sure to season along with salt and black pepper. Cold tap water was added to cover same and allowed to come to a boil. Then stove was turned down to a low to medium for a simmering effect. Garlic, thyme, rosemary, pimento (all spices) were added.
After pumpkin pieces were fork tender, these were removed from soup and cooled. Then they were added to standing blender and pureed and added back to soup. At this point, okra, scallion, Grace chicken noodle Cock (packaged) soup mix were added to soup. Additional seasoning and herbs were added after taste test.
Soup was simmered on low heat for approximately fifteen minutes until the right consistency was had. Soup was served warm. I know I shall revisiting this dish throughout the cool months of the year.