"Piehole" in Midwestern means "mouth," as in "Shut your piehole." Preferably we shut it on some tasty home cooking. We love to grow, market, buy, cook, bake and grill so we can feed our faces, chow down, pig out, scarf & whatnot. I'm a born Midwestern home cook posting foods and recipes that show up in front of me, because like all Midwesterners I eat what's put in front of me. Pull up a chair. What can I get you?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Recipe: White Bean and Salami Salad

I know100 ways to fix cans of beans. This is easy and uses one can of beans and odds and ends. Serve on salad greens if you can.

White Bean and Salami Salad (serves 2)

1 14-ounce can of white beans, drained and rinsed
2 ounces salami, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
1/4 cup of drained pepperoncini peppers, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Place beans, salami, parsley, onion, and peppers in bowl. Then in a small bowl whisk together the olive oil and red wine vinegar. Pour the dressing over the bean mixture and toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Best served at room temperature. Refrigerate leftovers.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Recipe: Sausage and Peppers, Super Easy in Microwave

Men love this entree and you can cook it faster than they can eat it, and that's fast. Serve over mashed potatoes or pasta, or with Italian bread, or by itself. Only one dish, the casserole dish, gets used; no skillets. Please try it when harvesting bell peppers and basil. Recipe can be doubled; just use a bigger casserole dish.

Sausage and Peppers (2 large servings)

3  fresh Italian sausage links, cut into 2-inch lengths
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped into 2-inch chunks
3 bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, deribbed and cut into 2-inch chunks
3 tablespoons tightly packed fresh basil leaves or 2 tablespoons of basil pesto
Few spoonfuls of tomato sauce, or a small tomato, cut up
Salt (optional)

1. Place sausage pieces in a 1-1/2 quart casserole dish, cover loosely with paper toweling and microwave at 100 percent for 5 minutes, then stir and check that the sausage is cooked through; that's how you want it. If not, microwave it minute by minute until it's cooked through.
2. Remove casserole dish from oven, uncover it, and use the paper towel to soak up most of the rendered fat. Discard the paper towel.
3. Add remaining ingredients to the dish, stir to coat, and cover the dish tightly with microwavable plastic wrap. Cook at 100 percent for 7 minutes.
4. Remove dish from the microwave. Uncover and sprinkle with salt if desired. Serve.

This came from Microwave Gourmet (1987), a truly inspired cookbook by Barbara Kafka, who developed great microwave recipes for ribs, poultry, seafood, vegetables, brownies & c. The book is a revelation; do check it out.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Thy Bounty

Yesterday at the ice-cream social I was advised to attend the St. Patrick Rock Church picnic today to get the best fried chicken ever. This carryout plate weighs five pounds, mostly chicken (two legs, two breasts, wing section) but also green beans, chicken noodles, sliced tomatoes (we eat them plain; they are that good!!), coleslaw and dessert. It is random what dessert you get. Mine is carrot cake. Lady next to me scored a lemon meringue pie slice. There were literally a thousand people there and I waited 45 min for my turn in carryout line, listening to how Midwesterners squeal when we are happy to see and hug each other. Actually, only the women squeal. The men light up like holiday trees.

At home I selected a beer, Genesee, for old times' sake because it's made in Rochester, NY and I used to live not too far from there before I had the sense to move back home. We drank a lot of Rolling Rock there too. Later I will tell you about my life in beer. Right now I am eatin' $11 of food.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Recipe: Homemade Peanut Butter

Organic, low or no sugar, no chemicals, lower fat and cheap: That's what I wanted in peanut butter, couldn't find it ($6 pricetag on a jar of organic peanut butter at the store; same high price for "grind your own" at natural food grocery, plus the plastic container) and I finally got it by making my own in a blender. It is the color and texture of hummus, but that is natural.

Place the end product in fridge overnight before using. Minus the normal peanut-butter preservatives and salt it won't stay good forever. This recipe, making about a cup, stays good for about a week.

1-3/4 cups dry roasted organic unsalted peanuts
1 cup water
Combine peanuts and water in blender. Blend until smooth. Store refrigerated overnight before using. Use up within a week.
55 calories per tablespoon, 5 grams fat.
From Barbara Kafka's Microwave Gourmet Healthstyle Cookbook, 1989.

Recipe: Blueberry Five-Minute Freezer Jam

Buy up those bargain blueberries and enjoy them at your leisure with a no-canning, no-brainer recipe--

Speedy Blueberry Refrigerator Jam

Serve this jam on toast, pancakes, vanilla ice cream, pound cake, stir it into oatmeal or yogurt. . .

4 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup sugar
1 (3-ounce) package of lemon-flavored gelatin

Combine all ingredients in large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes. Pour into jars and refrigerate. Makes 3 cups. Yes, it will set up and jell.

Recipe from Bountiful Harvest (Reiman Publications, 1994) a cookbook of recipes that specifically use up "too much produce" whether it's rhubarb or zucchini or tomatoes.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Low-fat Chocolate Biscotti

Heh-heh, I know what you want. . .chocolate. I copied this recipe from SkinnyTaste.com and make it all the time. Yes, eggs are the only liquid in it.

Chocolate Biscotti recipe from SkinnyTaste.com 

1 2/3 Cups Flour
1/2 Cup Cocoa Powder [Piehole likes the Natural Cocoa from Penzey's Spices]
1 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
3/4 Cup Sugar
3/4 Cup Mini Chocolate Chips (optional)
2 Eggs
1 or 2 Egg Whites
Hazelnuts/Almonds/etc. (optional)

Preheat oven to 375F.  Line a pan with parchment paper.

Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add chips and nuts if using. Add eggs one at a time, mixing in between. Add an egg white.  

If the dough isn't holding together, add one more egg white and mix well. Form into one or two long ovals on the baking sheet.

Bake 20 minutes. Cool about 15 minutes, then cut into slices. Bake an additional 5 minutes, flip, bake 5 minutes more.

Cool completely.  Makes 16 to 24 biscotti. [Piehole says: They are still great without the chips.]

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Rainbow Trout with Herb Sauce

Okay, I didn't catch the trout, I bought it; so sue me. It was already cleaned and I had it beheaded and wrapped in brown paper. At home I rinsed its fat shiny body and patted it dry because otherwise the fish won't broil: It'll steam.

Next I cut some fresh herbs from the garden: Parsley, basil, a bit of arugula. This I ran through the mini-chopper with olive oil and salt. Not too much oil; you don't want to overwhelm the flavorful meat.

Then I opened the trout so it was butterflied and laid it skin side down on a lightly greased broiler pan, and painted each side with herb sauce and broiled it for 8 minutes. Any small bones left in it melted during broiling.

I cut some lemon wedges, and had some greens and roasted potatoes ready, and lunched like royalty on half of it, and had the other trout filet for next day's lunch. You should too. Fresh fish does not smell fishy. It seems pricey until you realize it takes only about three-quarters of a pound to serve two people, and it's all protein and no waste except skin, and infallibly delicious. Really, the sauce just gilds the lily. Don't wait until you catch a trout to eat one.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Pasta with Olives and Peperoncini

A wildly flavorful pasta good hot or at room temp.
1. Blend two Tablespoons fresh basil with one half cup olive oil. Pour into very large flat bottomed pan. Add 2 Tablespoons butter. Heat till butter melts.
2. Chop 1 cup mixed olives. Chop finely garlic to equal two to four Tablespoons. Chop 1 cup sundried tomatoes. Add 2 cups of whole peperoncini peppers. Add all these vegetables to the heated pan. Cook and stir a few minutes. Cover and simmer until peperoncinis puff up, about 10 minutes.
3. Cook one pound ridged tube pasta (penne) until al dente. Drain and place in bowl. Pour oil and vegetable mixture over pasta and toss till blended.
4. Salt and pepper to taste (it won't need much). Optional grated Romano cheese.
Serves 6 to 8.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Cast-Iron Grilling

Grilling six greasy bratwursts for my biker brother-in-law I seared them first to get grill marks, then finished cooking in a disposable aluminum pan to contain the grease and flare-ups.

In 106-degree weather I also wanted to cook hunks of beef like this flat iron steak. I chose as my grill the indestructible, portable (35 pounds), very low-tech, like 19th century, Lodge cast-iron "sportsman" grill. Photo is by the artist/poet/my bff Mantrap Marcie. "Natural" charcoal is my fuel.

Grill Features: The grill rack can be flipped to add an extra inch between the heat and the food, very handy. There's room for 6 bratwursts for one brother-in-law still loyal to Rush Limbaugh. Cast iron must be seasoned to work well, but that doesn't mean leave it outside; I don't do that. When finished grilling I scrape the rack, let it cool and then clean the rack, empty the ashes, and rub every part with a little bit of cheap vegetable oil on a paper towel, and so far no complaints. Grill cost $100 delivered, and will outlive me and the person who will buy it at my estate sale.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Basil-Walnut Spiral Dinner Rolls

I have way more pesto than I can use on pasta, so I had my bread machine stir up some half-white-half-whole-wheat dough, and then flattened the dough to a rectangle, massaged it with olive oil, cut it in half, paved each half with pesto and walnuts, rolled it up, and cut the tubes in two-inch pieces. These I flattened with the heel of my hand so the pesto-and-walnut spiral showed, placed them in pans and let them rise (outdoors! It's plenty warm there!) and baked for 15 minutes at 375 degrees. It made 14 rolls.

Machine dough, handmade dough, okay; but frozen bread dough, although convenient, has less texture and  high-fructose corn syrup in it, and it probably can't stand up to the taste of basil pesto.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Best Zucchini Recipe

This side dish looks and tastes so good you'll be sneaking bites out of the pan before it gets to the table. I used orange and red bell pepper. This strangely sexy dish makes a great side but also a wonderful pasta or pizza topping. Chili oil can be homemade by putting several whole dried red chili peppers into a bottle of olive oil.

Chinese Charred Peppers and Zucchini

2 cups of zucchini, chopped into large dice
1-1/2 to 2 cups of red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 tablepoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons wine vinegar
1 teaspoon chili oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Chop zucchini in chunks and place in a bowl with a half-teaspoon of salt; toss. Let this mixture sit for 30 minutes to an hour. Then rinse, drain and pat dry. It's important that it not be wet.

In the meantime, make the sauce by mixing the soy sauce, wine vinegar, a 1/2 teaspoon of  the chili oil, and sugar in a small bowl.

Heat 1/2 teaspoon of the chili oil in a skillet on medium-high heat until it smokes. Dump the zucchini and pepper chunks into the pan, stir, spread them around and cook for 5 minutes, stirring and pressing down with a spatula now and then so most pieces get scorched a nice brown. If it's going too fast, turn down the heat. Then turn off the heat. Stand back and pour the sauce over the vegetables. It will bubble and simmer until it's absorbed. Good eaten warm or at room temperature.