"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?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Lavender and Candied Ginger Shortbread Recipe

There's a reason why only two pieces of this shortbread survived for the photo. Making shortbread is very easy.

Lavender & Candied Ginger Shortbread (makes1 9x9 pan)

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons of dried culinary lavender buds, crushed
1-1/4 cup white flour
dash of salt
1-2 Tablespoons of water
3 Tablespoons of very finely minced candied ginger (also called crystallized ginger)

Cream the butter with the sugar. Add lavender, flour, and salt to the bowl. Beat until combined. Mixture will be dry. Slowly add water until the mixture is slightly moistened (the mixture should stick together slightly). By hand, mix in the candied ginger.

Press evenly into a 9" square pan. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 30 minutes. It will still be light, but beginning to turn brown on the edges. Remove from oven. While still warm (but not hot!)  cut into squares. Let the shortbread cool completely before removing it from the pan. Store in cookie tins or freeze for up to several months.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Pink Lentil Vegetable Soup Recipe

Tired of dark, muddy lentil soups, I made this brighter, lighter, and tastier version with vegetable scraps, pink lentils, and spices of India: It's also a make-ahead recipe. Serves 4 to 6.

1-1/2 Tablespoons light-tasting vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, crushed
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup chopped tomatoes (canned are fine)
1 cup chopped green peppers
1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 rib celery, slice
1/2 cup dried pink lentils, picked clean
2-inch stick of cinnamon, broken
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek
8 to 10 whole black peppercorns
2 tablespoons chickpea flour (regular white flour can be substituted)
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup cream, or coconut milk (don't omit!)
freshly cooked basmati rice
1. Heat the oil in a soup kettle over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, and onion, and cook until the onion is soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in the vegetables, lentils, spices, and flour.

2. Gradually add the water and mix well. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the lentils are fully cooked but still hold their shape, 18 to 20 minutes. Uncover, and using a slotted spoon, remove 1 cup of the vegetables and lentils, and set aside. Puree the rest of the soup.

3. Add the salt, sugar and lemon juice to the puree. Stir in the cream and the reserved vegetables and and cook on gentle heat until piping hot. Ladle into bowls and top each serving with basmati rice. 

Note: Steps 1 and 2 can be made up to 4 days ahead and refrigerated; wait until reheating time to add the seasonings, cream, and reserved vegetables.
-Recipe from Laxmi's Vegetarian Kitchen by Laxmi Hiremath, 1995.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

What's Hominy Good For? Spicy Posole Pork Stew

I bought cans of hominy because I thought I should, not necessarily to cook with. But then I tasted in a Southwestern restaurant the pork and hominy stew that's like a taco party in a bowl except it fills you and warms you to the core. This is the red or rojo version and it's blender-easy. . .and it's even better on the second day. The meat can be chicken or pork.

Posole (Hominy Stew) (serves 4)
3 dried ancho chile peppers
3 dried arbol chile peppers
1/4 cup chopped white onion
3 cloves garlic
a pinch of cumin
2 whole cloves
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil

Soak the chile peppers in two cups of warm water until they're rehydrated, about 15 minutes. Stem and seed them. Place all ingredients plus 3/4 cup of their soaking water in the blender and blend until smooth.

1 28-ounce large can or 2 14-ounce cans of hominy, drained and rinsed and placed in a pot along with 2 cups of water
1 pound of pork or chicken, cooked and shredded or cubed
1 lime, halved (don't omit the lime)

Heat the hominy and water to simmering. Pour the ancho chile mixture into the pot with the hominy and meat and simmer for 15 minutes. Prepare any garnishes you have: recommended: tortilla chips, shredded lettuce, cubed avocado, shredded cheese, chopped onion, cilantro, sliced radishes, sliced jalapeno, dried oregano.

Ladle into bowls, giving each bowl a squirt of lime juice and let your guests top their bowls with garnishes.