Lovin’ Tomatoes: Creole Tomato Gazpacho

I love vine-ripe summer tomatoes and chilled gazpacho is a good way to use some of these tomatoes. This soup recipe brings out the best flavor of the tomatoes and also the other vegetables in the soup — cucumbers, jalapeno, red peppers, garlic and red onions. Serve with a panini sandwich on a hot summer day for a satisfying lunch. I think that the best gazpacho is one which is bursting in fresh vegetable flavors, but not with any lingering “raw” ingredient taste. This recipe, from Louisiana Cookin’ magazine, manages to accomplish that idea.

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Blueberry Buckle

Fresh blueberries are great any time of the year; I especially enjoy picking blueberries from by own backyard bushes. In my opinion, these backyard blueberries have more aromatic flavor than the blueberries purchased from a grocery store. So if you have a chance to “pick your own blueberries,” go for it. Today I am making a “Blueberry Buckle” which is a simple coffee cake filled with lots of fresh blueberries and topped with a crunchy streusel topping. I added in a few walnut pieces. They give a flavor and help accent the nice “pop” from the blueberries. This cake is delicious!

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Blueberry Lemonade plus a “Moscow Mule” Cocktail Variation

I can’t think of anything more refreshing than a glass of home-mixed lemonade on a hot summer day. And we have plenty of hot summer days here in Louisiana. I decided to add blueberries from my backyard to make a “Blueberry Lemonade” aromatic variation. Then why not kick things up a notch and make a “Blueberry – Lemon Moscow Mule?” That cocktail hit the spot, too. I added frozen blueberries and fresh mint for garnish to my icy summertime drinks.

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Blueberry Cornbread

It is a pleasant problem to have too many blueberries. My backyard blueberry bushes are producing about 2 cups of ripe blueberries a day. In addition to sharing with neighbors, I’m scrambling to find ways to use all the blueberries. I love homemade cornbread and recently ran across a recipe for “Blueberry Cornbread.” I guess this shows that you can add just about anything to cornbread. I love “Jalapeno Cornbread Muffins” with pickled jalapeno bits and my “Hushpuppies” with green onions and Cajun spices. Why not make a sweet cornbread recipe with fresh blueberries? Yum!

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Spicy Christmas Chutney with Satsumas, Cranberries & Apples

Here’s a colorful and absolutely delicious chutney for the holiday season. This “Spicy Christmas Chutney” is hard to stop eating once you open a jar of this pungent and hot concoction. The recipe is a sweet and sour chutney which combines Louisiana satsumas, cranberries and apples with a blend of spices for a powerful mix. I ran across the recipe inspiration on a Scottish internet site — didn’t know that the Scottish cooked with satsumas or made chutneys with this much punch — but it is a great recipe for me because it is a way to use my backyard satsumas. And the recipe is mighty spicy, too, including cloves, cinnamon, ginger and cayenne pepper. Yeah, we’re talking Louisiana, now.

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Great-Aunt Jenny’s Persimmon Pudding

A number of years ago, I asked my mother and her first cousins to recount favorite recipes and stories of growing up on Iowa farms during the 1930’s. This generation was quickly aging and I thought that it would be wise to capture their memories for a family reunion book. I love family history. The way of a living on a family farm during the 1920’s to 1930’s — for example, with a wood-burning kitchen stove — is just a memory now. Only one generation ago — my how times have changed! My second cousin, whose grandmother moved to California in about 1910, submitted her grandmother’s recipe for “Persimmon Pudding” for the reunion book.

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Marinated Zucchini, Black Bean and Tomato Salad

My backyard garden is doing great this year. The star performers are my zucchini plants. I have an abundance of this vegetable and I’ve tried out a number of recipes. This quick and easy summer salsa is a tasty way to serve zucchini. No cooking is involved — just slice and dice, combine the ingredients and marinate. The raw zucchini has a mild flavor and blends well in this dish. It’s a very healthy recipe and good way to include vegetables in meals. Continue reading

Heirloom Tomatoes with Classic French Vinaigrette

Once again, I’m attempting to grow tomatoes in my backyard garden. I love fresh, ripe tomatoes in the summertime and am not giving up as a gardener. This time I have a few green Heirloom tomatoes on my tomato vines. Hurrah! I’ll add a few more tomatoes from the market for a grand tomato salad because I’m getting tired of waiting for my tomatoes to ripen. I’m serving the tomatoes with my favorite salad dressing, “Classic French Vinaigrette.” This vinaigrette recipe has been my “go to” dressing for years for any type of salad greens or tomatoes. My dressing is “light” in flavor, adds just enough pizzazz to dress up the tomatoes and salad and includes one “secret ingredient.”

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Louisiana Satsuma Infused Carrot Cake

Back in my hospital food service catering days, we prepared and served a dinner for the Board of Directors each month. I liked to change things up — partially for boredom’s sake and little for spite as it meant I had to work late that night. So one month I served carrot cake — trying to pack a little nutrition into the dessert. Much to my surprise, one Board member came to me after the meeting and said, “that very large piece of cake was the best dessert you’ve ever served — it was delicious.” And Carrot Cake is delicious. It should be moist, with just a little spice and nutty flavor. Topped with a cream cheese icing, it makes a great dessert for the holidays. And so I’m making my carrot cake again this year.

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Roast Eggplant with Garlic and Zahtar

Here’s an easy recipe for a small batch of eggplant — “Roast Eggplant with Garlic and Zahtar.” Eggplant grows well in a Louisiana garden and I needed ideas to cook a few at a time as they ripened in the hot summer heat. One of my favorite eggplant dishes is served at a local Lebanese and Greek cafe. It consists of sauteed eggplant which is doused in lemon juice and garlic. The soft eggplant pulp blends with the spices perfectly and it is another “melt in your mouth” eggplant recipe. Thought I’d try to make a variation with my garden eggplant.

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