Easy Cook: Persimmon Custard

Today I’m making egg custard with an autumn twist. I have several persimmons remaining on my backyard tree and decided to add one to the custard which I am cooking. It gives the custard a unique “kick” for an interesting change. Custard is probably one of the most revered and beloved “comfort foods” around. I am sure that this custard will quickly disappear when my husband figures out that it is in the refrigerator — he absolutely loves custard. While rummaging around for custard recipes, I found several variations. This recipe is cooked on the stove — rather than a baked — which saves alot of preparation time. Although custard recipes traditionally do not contain cornstarch, this ingredient helps the custard thicken since it is not baked in the oven. I really like this recipe. It is fast and relatively easy to prepare. The custard is creamy and smooth without an “eggy” taste.

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Sweet Potato Spice Coffee Cake with Crumb Topping

It seems like I always purchase one too many sweet potatoes for the recipe that I’m making. I hate to waste food. Here’s a coffee cake recipe which uses just one sweet potato. I have been sharing Louisiana cuisine and beyond on my blog since my blog began. “Sweet Potato Spice Coffee Cake with Crumb Topping” is one of the first recipe ideas which I posted and it is still one of my favorite recipes. Today I made the coffee cake again using my last sweet potato. This coffee cake is full of pumpkin pie-type spices. The batter it includes both brown sugar and molasses. Add a crumb topping with aromatic pecans and the result is an absolutely delicious coffee cake. Watch out — it is hard to resist a second piece.

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Easy Cook: Miniature Fig Loaves

I struck luck when I found this very simple recipe for “Miniature Fig Loaves.” They taste delicious with the unique flavor of figs and the crunchy texture of tiny fig seeds. Two “secret ingredients” make this a very easy, fail-proof recipe. If you live in Louisiana, then you may be lucky enough to have a fig tree growing in your backyard. These trees grow to be about 10 feet tall and they become very wide and bushy. For a month or two in the summer, these small trees produce an explosion of figs. Just reach, pick and pop the figs in your mouth for natural candy. The sticky and sweet flavor of the figs can’t be beat.

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A Very Small Batch of Air Fryer Whole Okra

I am always looking for creative ways to use local ingredients. I figured that cooking okra in an air fryer a might be a good way to use some of the fresh okra harvest which comes in late summer here in Louisiana. My “Air Fryer Whole Okra” experiment was tasty, especially because I poured on the Cajun-type seasonings. However, as a disclaimer, air fryer okra is totally different from deep fried okra. That’s because air fryers “bake” the food with a convection fan running, they don’t “fry.” Why can’t I get that small distinction internalized in my head? I made multiple batches in my air fryer to get the process standardized, using both fresh and frozen whole okra. We devoured all the batches because the okra tasted pretty good. Just don’t expect air fried okra to have a a crunchy batter that “pops.”

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Easy Cook: Zucchini, Cherry Tomato & Couscous Medley

Here’s a rather unique dish for using some of the abundance of zucchini which shows up in our gardens, grocery stores and farmer’s markets each summer. This recipe is simple to mix up and quite tasty. The dish pairs roasted zucchini squash and cherry tomatoes with couscous and a splash of red wine vinegar. What is couscous? It is sort of like a pasta which is about the size of small barley. This pasta-like ingredient sits on my kitchen shelf, lonely, just waiting for a recipe to come along to use it. Here’s a great pairing — the neutral couscous blends well with the tomatoes and zucchini. We really like this recipe!

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Yellow Squash Ratatouille

It looks like I am going to have a bumper crop of yellow squash this summer if my giant squash bushes keep growing. I am actually observing a few bees in my garden; that’s a good sign. If yellow squash is fixed properly–it is very tasty. Otherwise, it can turn out to be the vegetable that nobody likes. To get ready for my explosion of squash, I am trying to recall all the squash dishes that taste really good! Today I am making an easy recipe which marries yellow squash with tomatoes and herbs. The dish bakes slowly in the oven which allows all the herbs and spices to meld with the squash and tomatoes. Even if you are not a fan of squash — the dish tastes great! I served the ratatouille with pasta.

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Love ‘N Knishes Cheesecake with Blueberry Swirl Sauce

I love cheesecakes. It is one of my favorite desserts. There are so many variations to the cheesecake theme that I don’t have to worry about running out of ideas for blog posts. My cheesecake recipe this week makes a delightful little dessert which is incredibly easy to mix up. Plus, it is rather unique — as there is no sugar in the bottom layer. At first I thought I was reading a misprint of the ingredients. But, I followed the instructions exactly and everybody loved the resulting cheesecake. Sometimes “sweet” isn’t always the best thing. I added a blueberry swirl topping and sauce made with fresh blueberries from this year’s crop. I hope you will try making this recipe, too, and I’m sure you will enjoy it as much as I did.

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Louisiana Strawberry and Bibb Lettuce Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

For a few fleeting weeks in March, April and May, Louisiana strawberries ripen and are at their peak. You can find these luscious berries in local grocery stores and farmers markets. What is so special about Louisiana strawberries? I compare them to vine ripened tomatoes versus those which have been grown to travel long distances to markets. Louisiana strawberries are sweet, juicy and aromatic. They are picked when ripe; hence they are perishable and really are not suitable for transport to far away markets. Today I am enjoying these strawberries in a salad along with fresh bibb lettuce that I grew in my garden. I added feta cheese for flavor and nutrition, sliced almonds for crunch and served my salad with a Sweet Apple Cider Vinaigrette.

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Sweet Salad Greens with Balsamic Vinaigrette

I am always excited when something grows well in my garden, especially if it is a new vegetable or plant. I would never say that I’m a big-time gardener, I just have a small, sunny area in my yard which I call a “garden.” And I mainly do things by “trial and error” with the help of a gardening guide. If something grows well, I’ll try it again. In February, I transplanted a 4-pack of mixed lettuce-type seedlings — it was called sweet salad green mix. According to my gardening calendar, it really should have been planted in December thru January. But, I thought I’d take a chance. Why not? (I read the gardening guide after I got home!) Wow, in a month these greens flourished and grew well, as you can see. And so I am proud to be making a salad, “Sweet Salad Greens with Balsamic Vinaigrette,” with the greens.

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Let’s Make a Very Small Batch of “Kumquat Marmalade”

Let’s cook “Kumquat Marmalade.” And just what are kumquats? These tiny edible “oranges” pack some punch. My mother-in-law has a backyard kumquat bush which is loaded with fruit this year. You eat the small, whole citrus-type fruit, including the rind, spitting out the numerous seeds found in the pulp. Kumquats are about the size of a cherry tomato and taste like a pungent orange. I find that eating the entire fruit is a little overpowering. Instead, I made a small batch of “Kumquat Marmalade.” It was was delicious, especially when served with cream cheese and crackers. Making marmalade — one jar at a time — is quite easy and not difficult at all.

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