"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?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Recipe: Roasted Pear and Feta Salad

Pears are in season and good pears make cheeses great. I splurged on imported sheep's milk feta cheese packed in brine, but all feta cheese including domestic cow's milk feta cheese will taste good in this salad.

3 pears, peeled and sliced
Baby spinach or arugula leaves, washed and dried
4 strawberries, sliced
1 ounce bleu or gorgonzola cheese, crumbled or diced
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled or diced
olive oil
black pepper

1. Place foil in roasting pan, coat it with cooking spray, and roast the peeled, sliced pears at 350 degrees for 22 minutes or until the edges are browned. Meanwhile, pave a plate with the spinach or arugula leaves.
2. Place roasted pears on the plate. Put sliced strawberries on top of pears.
3. Strew cheeses on top of pears and strawberries.
4. Drizzle all with a small amount of olive oil. Grind some black pepper over all of it. Don't omit the pepper.
5. Toss a bit. 1 or 2 servings.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Recipe: Caramel-Apple Salad; I Dare You

...with diced Snickers and Milky Way bars! And Cool Whip! And cream cheese! My neighbor took it to friends she thought might like it. They raved. And I got some of it too! And I raved! Salad it isn't. It's dessert with a capital D, obscenely sweet (neighbor says she might halve or omit the sugar next time) and there will be no leftovers.

Candy Apple Salad

1 cup sugar
8 oz softened cream cheese
8 oz container Cool Whip
2 Red Delicious Apples
2 Granny Smith Apples
2 Snickers bars
2 Milkyway bars
1 cup chopped pecans

Mix cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Fold in Cool Whip. Dice apples and candy. (Candy dices best when cold.) Add to Cool Whip mixture. Add nuts. Keep cold.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Recipe: White Bean and Gorgonzola Soup

The can-of-beans theme continues and this cheese soup is a knockout. Because the cheese melts you don't have guests wondering why the cheese is blue. Evaporated milk is a great lower-fat substitute for cream.

White Bean and Gorgonzola Soup

1/2 to 1 chopped onion
1 can of white beans, rinsed
2 cups chicken broth or equivalent
small (6 or 7 ounce) can of evaporated milk
2 or 3 ounces of Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

In your soup pot cook the chopped onion until tender in 1/4 cup of the chicken broth, Then add the rinsed white beans and remaining chicken broth and cook until it cooks down a bit and the beans get softer. Remove from heat and puree the mixture and then return it to the pot, add the can of evaporated milk, and stir. When it's all simmering, add the cheese and stir until it's melted. Ready. 2 huge servings or 3 normal servings, or 4 or 5 soup cups.

Got the original recipe in 1999 from rec.food.recipes. Remember them? Using only one ounce of cheese makes this soup low-fat. I say, eat something else that's low-fat; this is too good. Some people add carrots at the beginning, sauteed with the onion, to tone up the color.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Recipe: Zucchini and Avocado Salsa Salad

This foolproof recipe from The New York Times in 2009, written by Martha Rose Shulman requires no skill, just chopping. Here's the link to the published original. I like my own photo and slightly changed recipe better. It works as salad, salsa, taco stuffing or pizza topping. So good it was chosen for the best 250 recipes from the NYT.

Zucchini and Avocado Salsa Salad

1 medium zucchini, cut into small dice
salt to taste
3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
1 or 2 jalapeno or serrano peppers, seeded and chopped
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped cilantro or to taste
1 Haas avocado, ripe but not too soft, cut into tiny dice
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1. Sprinkle the diced zucchini with salt and drain in a colander for 15 minutes. Rinse if it tastes very salty and drain it on paper towels.
2. Combine tomatoes, chilies and cilantro in one bowl and zucchini, avocado, olive oil and lemon or lime juice in a serving bowl. Put tomato mixture in zucchini mixture and toss gently and salt to taste.

I serve this to guests with home-baked tortilla chips along with drinks. I eat it as salad, but in the Midwest you do not serve guests a main-dish salad. They will wonder where the meat is and why you are cheaping on them.

Make this soon or you'll wish you had. It's September and the homegrown tomatoes and zucchini are getting scarcer. And zucchini already feels a little bit passe.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Recipes: Lazy Gumbo and Lazier Cornbread

Stir up the cornbread batter according to package directions, place in a pie plate; microwave for 5 minutes. It won't brown, but it'll be ready to be cut and buttered, and mostly we like white cornbread down here anyway. Yellow is eaten by Yankees out east.

The "lazy" gumbo begins with a can of product from Glory. They have a whole line of Southern-style food, like canned collards, or canned potatoes and green beans, or fried apples, or plain okra and tomatoes. I like the okra and tomatoes with corn; a Midwestern touch for gumbo.

Start with a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of flour in a saucepan. Heat the pan and whisk the butter and flour around and cook until they're unified and the color of a penny and the flour no longer tastes raw. Then pour the can of vegetables into the saucepan, add a can of water and some tomato, whether sauce or chopped. Cut up and throw in any meat, ham or bacon available. Simmer until it looks good. Add shrimp. If shrimp are raw, cook in the gumbo for five minutes; if cooked, heat them through. And don't forget the hot sauce! Better lazy gumbo than none.