All posts by Ingrid Estell

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Make Pumpkin Rolls for Thanksgiving

5350998200_ea6b3b34b7_o Eating freshly baked bread is one of life’s joys. When my daughters moved away, my recipe for Pumpkin Rolls was one of the few they requested from me. The recipe below makes delicious dinner rolls and is a great addition to your Thanksgiving table. It’s also a wonderful way to get non-squash/pumpkin lovers to eat the nutritious vegetable.

Ingredients:

1 scant tablespoon yeast (or 1 package yeast)

1/4 cup warm water

2/3 cup milk (whole, 2%, skim, or soy)

1 cup cooked, mashed pumpkin or winter squash (If using a small commercial can of pumpkin, buy plain pumpkin not pumpkin pie filling. Use the entire can even though it’ll be a little more than a cup).

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup butter or margarine (butter tastes better!)

2 cups whole wheat flout

2-3 cups unbleached white flour

Oven temperature: 400 degrees

Makes 12 dinner rolls, 1 large loaf, or 2 small loaves

Directions:

Mix yeast, warm water, and 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar in a large bowl. Set aside for 10-20 minutes so the yeast can “proof.” The yeast mixture will look like a foamy, tan mass when it’s ready.

While the yeast is “proofing,” place the milk and butter in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat until the butter has melted (or microwave). Once the butter has melted, cool slightly (you should be able to touch the milk and butter mixture with a finger and it should be warm, but not hot) and add to the yeast. Add the cooked pumpkin or squash, the brown sugar, and salt to the yeast and milk, then stir until blended.

Add the 2 cups whole wheat flour, and stir. The mixture should be getting thick. Now add the unbleached, white flour one cup at a time – the dough should get so thick you’ll eventually need to give up the spoon and will have to knead, by hand, the rest of the flour in. Depending on the flour, you might not use it all or you may need a few more tablespoons to get firm dough.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, adding additional flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands. As you knead, you’ll feel the dough taking on an “elastic” quality – this is the gluten strands developing. I like to knead yeast breads in the bowl I’ve mixed them in – it contains the flour mess and I don’t have to clean up the countertop or table afterwards.cooking

Once kneaded, round the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl that is at least twice as big as the dough. Cover the bowl with a tea towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise. After an hour, punch the dough down, re-round into a ball, and let rise again for 40 minutes or so. Once it’s grown to about double in size again, push down, knead gently for a minute or so, and then set aside for five minutes so the dough can “rest.” Letting the dough rest allows the gluten to relax and makes shaping rolls or loaves easier.

At this stage, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Butter or oil your baking pans. I suggest a 9×11 cake pan for rolls, one large loaf pan, or two small loaf pans. This bread also makes a lovely, free-form round loaf that can be cooked on a cookie sheet.

The bread dough is now ready to shape into a dozen rolls, 1 large loaf, or 2 small loaves.  After shaping the dough and placing it in a pan, cover and let rise 30 – 40 minutes. The shaped dough should be about doubled in size; if your kitchen is warm, it may rise faster than the 30 minutes. When finished rising, place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. You can check for “doneness” by tapping on the top of the bread – if it gives off a “hollow” sound, it’s ready.

Take the rolls or loaves out of the pans and cool on a rack; let them cool before cutting. It’s very tempting to eat the bread as soon as it comes out of the oven but, if the bread’s still hot, it won’t slice well.

Note:  This recipe doubles or triples easily. Also, once baked, the rolls freeze well for later use.

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Apples from Heaven

One of the joys of fall cooking is the abundance of apples. Local apples abound in Missoula for the next month or two:  Macintosh, Transparents, Ruby Reds, Sweet Sixteens, Pink Ladys, and Honey Crisp to name a few. Apples, of course, are well suited for sauce, cider, and pie. One of my favorite apple dishes is the tart recipe below. Simple and tasty, the tart makes a wonderful finish to any autumn dinner or the perfect breakfast treat.

Apple Tart

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Ingredients for crust:

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons flour

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon sugar

½ cup butter

1 egg, beaten

Ingredients for apple filling:

2 lbs (4-5 larges) apples – any variety will do and a mix of varieties works well

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

4 tablespoons sugar

½ cup raisins, dried cherries, or dried cranberries

2 tablespoons corn syrup

2 tablespoons butter, chilled and diced

Mix the flour, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter. Once the flour and butter resembles fine crumbs, add the beaten egg. Mix only until the dough begins to stick together. If the dough is too dry, add drops of water until it holds together. Place in a sheet of wax paper, press together lightly, and chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Once the dough has chilled, remove from the wax paper and use your hands to press into a 9-inch tart or pie pan.crust

While the tart crust dough is chilling, make the apple filling. Quarter and core the apples. You may leave the peel on the apples. Coarsely grate the apples then mix with the cinnamon, sugar, and dried fruit.ingredients-1

Place in the tart shell and smooth out.fill

pitter-patterSpoon the corn syrup over the filling, and then dot the filling with the diced butter.prebake

Bake for 35 – 40 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes and eat warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Serves 6 – 8.done-tartplated-1

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Savory Bread Pudding for Dinner

Savory bread pudding is a special occasion dish I use for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The prep is time-consuming and the cooking time a tad long, 90 minutes, but the results are worth the effort. This is a dish my children ask for again and again. It’s also a great centerpiece to a brunch buffet for friends and family.

I typically use fresh garden vegetables, but, in the winter, frozen vegetables work fine too. Be sure to thaw and drain frozen veggies before using. Be creative and combine meats and vegetables you like. The recipe is forgiving as long as you don’t add too much liquid to the ingredients.

Savory Bread Pudding

Ingredients and instructions:

1 loaf crusty French bread (baguette), cubed

12 eggs

2 cups milk (Skim, 2%, Whole, or even Soy Milk will work)

Beat the eggs and milk together. Set aside.

The three ingredients above are essential. The list below can vary and I’ve offered suggestions.

1 lb Italian sausage, cooked and crumbled into small bits (or ham, chopped small or other sausage)

1 medium onion, chopped and cooked (cook with the meat)

4 cloves garlic, chopped fine and cooked with the meat and onion

1 bunch of Swiss Chard (or kale, or collard greens, or 3-4 cups of spinach) roughly chopped. If using kale or collard greens, remove the stems. With the Swiss chard, you can include the stems. Thinly slice the Swiss chard stem that extends below the leaf.

1 bunch asparagus, chopped (or 2 cups chopped fresh green beans)

1 zucchini (small to medium, the size usually in stores) seeded and chopped

Optional:  1-2 cups sliced Japanese eggplants, salted, rinsed, and drained

2 cups grated cheese (Swiss, cheddar, parmesan, or whatever you have on-hand)

Place Swiss chard, asparagus, and zucchini (and eggplant if using) in a large bowl and microwave for 2-3 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften but are not cooked all the way through.chard

1 cup fresh mixed herbs: sage, basil, dill, marjoram, oregano (or whatever you can find). Mince herbs together. Dill and sage will be strong flavors so only use a little of each. If you can’t find fresh herbs, just add 1 tablespoon of Italian herb mix or even a tablespoon of Mrs. Dash no-salt spice mix.ingredients

Add the minced herbs and 1 cup of the grated cheese to the microwaved vegetables and stir.ingredients-2

Mix vegetables, cheese and herbs with the meat and onions and the cubed bread and put in a large, buttered, baking dish (a lasagna pan is perfect). Pour the egg and milk mixture over the bread mixture. The ingredients should be just covered by the eggs and milk. You may need to add more or even not use all the eggs and milk you mixed up.

Bake at 350 degrees for an hour and thirty minutes. Set your timer for 60 minutes. When the timer goes off, add the remaining 1 cup of cheese to the top of the pudding. Cook for another thirty minutes. The pudding is done when a knife stuck in the center comes out “clean” (meaning no wet egg/milk on the knife when you remove it). Depending on the size of your pan, the pudding may take longer to cook. If you don’t have a lasagna or a 9×12 cake pan, you can split the pudding into several smaller pans. If you bake in smaller pans or ramekins, your cooking time will decrease. The cooked pudding freezes and reheats well.finished-dishThis is a bountiful recipe that easily feeds 6 to 8 people.plated

ingredients

Going Green Pasta

As summer winds down, my vegetable garden is in full swing. Every plant is producing and I find it a challenge to eat what’s ready to be picked on any given day. The recipe below is a great way to take advantage of the fresh produce now available.

Fava bean dinner
Fava bean dinner with green pasta.

Creamy Green Pasta

Ingredients:

¼ cup olive oil, divided

1 medium onion, diced

1 cup sliced mushrooms

2 small zucchini or 1 medium zucchini, seeded and chopped

2 cups green beans

2 garlic cloves, chopped

4 cups spinach (or Swiss chard, stems removed)

1 cup basil leaves

¾ cup evaporated milk

¼ cup walnuts

¼ cup almonds

1 pound of pasta

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

½ cup parmesan cheese, grated

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Heat 1/8 cup of the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion and mushrooms for 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and sauté for another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and reserve.

Steam (or boil in a little water) the green beans until tender, 5-8 minutes. Set aside.

Place 1/8 cup olive oil, garlic, spinach, basil, evaporated milk, walnuts, and almonds in a food processor and process until smooth. You may have to add the spinach in small batches, processing it down a few times before all the spinach fits in the food processer.

Cook the pasta in salted, boiling water per package instructions.

Drain the pasta and mix with the spinach-basil cream, sautéed vegetables, steamed green beans, and crumbled feta. Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese on top.

Note:  Vegan version – use soy or almond milk for the evaporated milk and substitute tofu for the feta cheese; omit the parmesan.

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Swiss Chard Rolls

When your garden produces an abundance of Swiss chard or you find beautiful rainbow chard at the farmer’s market, make Swiss Chard Rolls. Akin to cabbage rolls, Swiss Chard Rolls are a delicious way to utilize your summer garden bounty or farmer’s market produce.

What to do with summer's bounty...
What to do with summer’s bounty…

One:  Bring ½ cup raw quinoa, 1 cup water, 1 teaspoon olive oil to boil in a small sauce pan. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for 20-25 minutes until cooked. Set aside.

Two: Core and coarsely chop 4 large paste tomatoes. Mince one garlic clove. Heat 1
tablespoon olive oil in a medium saucepan. Once hot, add garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes, add chopped paste tomatoes. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and then reduce heat to low. Add 1/3 cup red wine. Add 1 cup of finely chopped fresh herbs: basil, chives, oregano, marjoram, thyme, parsley, or sage. Use a mixture of whatever herbs your garden provides or that you can find at the farmer’s market.  (Sage and dill should be used sparingly or they will overpower the sauce). Stir and let sauce simmer, covered, while you prepare the Swiss chard filling.

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Three: Wash 6 large Swiss chard leaves, leaving some water drops on the leafy part. Cut the leaves in half to remove the stems through the main leaf – you will end up with 12 half leaves for rolling. Set the stem pieces aside to use in the filling (step four). Place the leaf halves on a plate or in a large bowl, cover with wax paper and microwave on high for 45 to 65 seconds. You want the leaves to be softened and pliable but not cooked all the way through. Set aside.

Four: Dice (1/2 inch pieces) the Swiss chard stems, 4 medium peeled carrots, 1 or 2 paste tomatoes, 1 medium onion (if using a fresh garden onion, use as much of the green top as you like). Seed and dice 1 small or ½ medium zucchini, keep the zucchini separate from other diced vegetables. Finely mince 1 large garlic clove. In a large sauté pan or a wok, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Once hot, add the diced chard stems, carrots, tomato, onion, and minced garlic. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until onion is translucent.

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When the onions are translucent, add the diced zucchini and the cooked quinoa to the vegetable mixture.  Sauté for 5 minutes. Turn off heat and let mixture cool for 5-10 minutes so it’s easier to handle. Turn off the heat to the tomato sauce (step 2) at this time.

Five: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 7×11 baking dish (or any 2 quart baking dish approximating that size). Place one Swiss chard leaf half on the counter or a large plate; heap 2-3 tablespoons of the quinoa vegetable mixture at one end of the leaf half. Roll the leaf half up much like you’d role a tortilla for a burrito. Place in the baking dish. Repeat with the other 11 leaf halves.

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3 rolls per serving for entrees, 1 roll per serving for appetizers.

Swiss chard rolls are gluten free, salt free, vegetarian, and vegan.

Note: Leftover quinoa-vegetable mixture makes a great breakfast re-heated and topped with a fried egg!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Got Toast?

Ingrid Estell, Northside Community Garden Mentor, is kicking off the first installment of her monthly recipe blog for the Real Dirt, which will be published every third Wednesday. Her recipes focus on creative alternatives and uses for garden-grown goods. 


Toast has come into its own. Once the side-kick to eggs or the solace for a sour stomach, toast can now be found as a main menu item at restaurants. In some establishments, toast is the sole culinary.

Being a longtime fan of home-toasted bread, I’ve created my own toast meals featuring fresh ingredients from the garden and beyond. Who needs to go out for toast when you can make delicious, and inexpensive, toast in your own kitchen? Have toast for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

First, select your bread. I prefer Dave’s Killer Bread, Organic, 21 Whole Grains and Seeds. The toast recipes below do require bread that will support a few layers of ingredients.

Asparagus Toast (Serves 1)

1 slice toasted bread

4-5 spears fresh asparagus, trimmed. Cut in half or to fit bread. Wash, cover with wax paper, and microwave for one minute.

2-3 tablespoons brie, softened

Sprinkle of salt-free seasoning such as Mrs. Dash’s Original

For extra fancy asparagus toast: thinly sliced 2-3 strawberries

Directions: Spread brie over toast, add microwaved asparagus, sprinkle with seasoning, and, if using, top with strawberry slices.

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Swiss Chard Toast (Serves 1)

1 slice toasted bread

2 large Swiss chard leaves and stems, washed and finely chopped.

2-3 drops balsamic vinegar

2-4 slices, thinly sliced extra sharp cheddar cheese (enough slices to cover bread)

2-4 slices crisp cooked bacon

Directions: Cover the toast with sliced cheese. Place Swiss Chard in bowl and add 2-3 drops/sprinkles of balsamic vinegar. Microwave until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Add to the cheese. Place bacon on the Swiss chard, either crumbled or in slices.

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Chard  Swiss Chard Toast

Taco Toast (Serves 2)

2 slices toasted bread

1 small to medium onion.  Halved, peeled, and sliced thin.

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

4 tablespoons cooked black beans

1 avocado, sliced

4 tablespoons cojita cheese

2 tablespoons chipotle salsa or salsa of your choice

Squeeze of lime

Directions: Cook onion and garlic in oil until caramelized, 10 minutes or so over medium/low heat. If you are using fresh green onions, chop the tops and throw them in the pan for the last few minutes of cooking. Once cooked, add to toast as the base layer. Next, add per toast: 2 tablespoons black beans, ½ of the avocado slices, 2 tablespoons cojita cheese.

Once the cheese is added, place toast under the broiler for 2-3 minutes and brown/soften the cheese. Remove from the broiler and add 1 tablespoon salsa and a squeeze of lime to each toast.

Taco Toast

The last toast suggestion is a carrot salad topping. The carrot salad makes 4 servings and I often eat it as a side salad for dinner and then use the leftovers for a toast breakfast the next morning.

Carrot Salad (2 servings as salad, 2 servings as toast topper)

1 cup grated carrots. With fresh garden carrots – leave peel on when grating. Store carrots, peel before grating.

1 orange.  Peeled, sectioned, and chopped.

1/3 cup raisins (or dried cherries or cranberries)

1/3 cup chopped pecans

1 tablespoon vinegar. I prefer cranberry vinegar but balsamic, rice, and cider vinegars work well too.

Directions: Mix all ingredients in a bowl and enjoy as a side salad, saving enough for toast.

Carrot Salad Toast (Serves 2)

2 slices toast

6 tablespoons Carrot Salad

4 tablespoons goat cheese

Directions: Spread each slice of toast with 2 tablespoons goat cheese. Top with 3 tablespoons carrot salad.

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Apricot – Beet Toast (Serves 1)

1 slice toast

1 fresh apricot, pitted and slices

1 small/medium beet, cooked, peeled, and sliced

2-3 tablespoons peppered cashews

2 tablespoons goat cheese

1 teaspoon of honey

1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar

Directions: spread goat cheese on the toast. Layer beets and apricot slices on the cheese and sprinkle with the cashews. Drizzle honey and balsamic vinegar over everything.

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Do note:  all the topping mixtures can be served in flour or corn tortillas or even on large crackers. Also, adding bacon crumbles to any of the toppings makes for excellent eating.