Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Nutty Nectarine Dessert

The sheer beauty of summer peaches and nectarines, carefully arranged in  vibrant pyramids of color, grabbed my attention as I ambled through Carr’s produce department. Temptation overcame caution and I bought a big bag of these nearly-ripe, seasonal beauties. Okay, so they weren’t local, after all I was in Ketchikan, but these were the closest I would come this year to fresh, in-season stone fruit. 

We ate a few nectarines at breakfast, layered with granola and Greek yogurt. We enjoyed a few more as snacks, just because they were there. Several more were chopped up in a fruit salad… and still more nectarines sat in the fruit basket, waiting to be eaten before they spoiled. Dessert would be the next course to tackle, even though I’m not a big sweets fan. Baked cobbler or pie didn’t sound appealing, so it seemed the glaze-and-broil approach might be a solution. I wondered if the leftover Sweet ‘n Tangy Chipotle Sauce would work as a fruit glaze? It sounded good.

Then I remembered a quick presentation from a little-used cookbook on board, Entertaining Vegetarians by Celia Brooks Brown. Just stuff fruit halves with a blend of chopped nuts, flavorings and softened butter; broil; serve. Could a dessert be any more simple?!  Better yet, I would try both presentations and see which dessert won the onboard taste test.

The results? Both were good, though the pucker factor of the chipotle glaze required a hefty addition of sugar on top before broiling. Our favorite? No question about it, we much preferred the pistachio-filled fruit halves with a dollop of creamy Greek yogurt. Any suggestions on how to enjoy the rest of the fruit supply?

Nutty Nectarines
Adapted from Entertaining Vegetarians by Celia Brooks Brown, Whitecap Books 2005
Serves 3 in my galley, but could provide 6 dainty servings

·      3 ripe stone fruits, halved and pitted (nectarines, peaches, plums, mango, apricots, or perhaps even papaya are good choices)
·      1 tablespoon sugar
·      Honey-flavored Greek yogurt, vanilla ice cream or whipped cream to accompany (I s’pose KoolWhip would work, but I’m not going there)

·      2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
·      1/4 cup nuts, slivered or chopped *
·      2 tablespoons sugar
·      3 tablespoons brandy**
·      a pinch of ground spice***


  1. Preheat the boiler, setting the rack so the top of the mounded filling is about 6 inches below the flame or element.
  2. Mix together the filling ingredients until well blended. Divide evenly between the fruit halves, filling each cavity with a small, firmly-packed mound of the nutty mixture.
  3. Sprinkle all with the remaining tablespoon of sugar.
  4. Place under the broiler and heat for about 6 minutes, until the sugar is melted and the stuffing shows some color. Be careful not to scorch the nuts.
  5. Serve with Honey Greek yogurt, crème fraiche, ice cream or whipped cream.
*I use pistachios, but I’m sure almonds, hazelnuts or pine nuts would be equally delicious.
**Mix it up a bit and substitute a tablespoon or two of vanilla or almond extract, mint, or a citrus juice and zest for the brandy.
***Experiment with flavors; use cloves, nutmeg or cinnamon or some combination of flavors. Rosemary or lavender? maybe.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sweet 'n Tangy Chipotle Sauced Pork Tenderloins and Peppers

Curiosity struck yesterday morning, it just tiptoed up and ambushed me in the galley. "How did all of those jars and bottles end up in my refrigerator? When did this happen? And what do I do with a tablespoon of this and a bit of that?" It was time to play around with some flavor combinations and experiment, with or without a recipe as a guide, and use some of those interesting items. The good news is that I date food products as they come aboard, and routinely toss outdated containers so there were no surprises from a decade ago.   

Several near-empty jars of jam, a mostly-full tin of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, and the common pantry items of honey, vinegar, garlic and olive oil combined to make a versatile sauce. Mmmmmm, how about a touch of fresh rosemary, or ………. Heat it up to blend the flavors and, Ooooh! that sauce is peppy! Sweet and tangy, but peppy! I had enough sauce to adapt it to a number of dishes, so let the fun begin.

This concoction was amazing as a meat glaze tonight, but the leftover sauce could top an appetizer or add zip to a panini tomorrow. Sweet, hot, sour and downright delicious - how good is that?

There’s nothing new about pairing jam or jelly with hot peppers - think Jalapeno Jelly from the 60’s. I’d almost forgotten how tasty that combination could be. Leftover canned chipotles in adobo present a challenge for me. I know, I know, you can freeze them individually and keep them for ages. My problem comes in remembering that they’re lurking in the freezer in time to grab them… before I open another can.

So, grab some fruit jam and a small can of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce. Add some vinegar and honey or sugar to balance the sweet/heat/pucker factor. Blend in a bit of oil to smooth out the consistency. Feel like adding some herbs or garlic? Go right ahead. Whiz everything together in a blender; cook down briefly and Presto! you have a Sweet Chipotle Sauce.

Pork Tenderloin and Peppers with a Chipotle Chile Sauce

Serves 4

Sweet 'n Tangy Chipotle Sauce:

*  1 small 3 ounce can Mexican chipotle chilies in adobo sauce (adjust, to tame the heat)
*  1 cup fruit jam or marmalade (I used kiwi jam and tangerine marmalade)
*  1/2 cup vinegar, adjust to taste
*  1/3 cup honey or sugar, adjust to taste
*  1/4 cup extra-virgin olive
*  (herbs, citrus zest and spices as desired)

Puree all ingredients in a blender or food processor, and then boil for 5 minutes.
Taste and adjust for the desired hot, sweet, tart balance.

Meat and Vegetables:
*  1 pork tenderloin, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices
*  4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
*  1-1/2 pounds mixed peppers (I used 2 red bell peppers and 2 poblano), seeded and sliced
*  1/2 cup of Sweet 'n Tangy Chipotle Sauce

Place a large, shallow baking pan in the oven and preheat the oven to 475 F.
Use a large bowl and toss together 1/2 cup of the sauce with the meat, oil and peppers, coating each piece well.
Remove the heated pan from the oven and spread the meat and peppers on top. Work quickly and make sure pieces are separated so they sear, not steam. Roast 20 to 25 minutes, turning occasionally. If the sauce looks like it will burn on the pan, add a few spoonfuls of water.
Serve the pork and vegetables on a bed of julienned kale or fresh spinach and accompany with rice, couscous, or quinoa.

You will have a lot of extra sauce - referigerate it and enjoy it as you would a chutney for several weeks.
This pairs well with assertive cheeses for appetizers and as a sandwich condiment - think pork/pear/brie/arugula.
Try it as a finishing glaze for chicken, fish or a shrimp kebab. 
Use it as a dip for grilled shrimp or sausage coins.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Fresh Fish

Disclaimer: the fish are NOT on F/V Reality, they belong to the boat alongside.
We eat a lot of fresh seafood during the months we cruise in SE Alaska. How fresh? So fresh that it can take under an hour to go from on-the-hook to on-the- grill. The flavor and texture of just-caught fish, crab and prawns are special, way beyond delicious. Access to such fresh seafood has spoiled us so much that we rarely order the restaurant or fishmarket product that’s available at home.

Fresh matters, so we catch only what we can eat and keep our catch very well refrigerated. Recently I spotted two fish hanging out in the open on a nearby seine boat. Really... hanging… tails tied up with twine and hanging from the boom. That boat (and many others) had moored across from us at the Warm Springs dock late at night after a two-day opening. We glanced at those two fish throughout the day while they hung there, drying in the sunshine for hour after hour, attracting flies and a few curious looks from passersby. What is that all about? Curiosity finally got to me and I asked the guys why they hung fish. One of the crew explained the large king salmon and smaller steelhead were bycatch from their haul of pink salmon and would be dinner that night. The seiner’s fridge was full, so bleeding and gutting would be sufficient to dry the fish and hold them for a day or so. Uh huh, an interesting, practical solution. It works for that crew, but no thanks. Not for me.

Fresh and refrigerated didn’t appear to matter to the cook and two crew members off a large chartered yacht when they came by late in the afternoon to barter for the fish.  The seine boat captain drove a hard bargain, eventually trading his hanging fish for two bottles of red wine and a large pork roast! I wonder if the guests on the charter boat enjoyed their fresh salmon dinner?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cruising Cookies

Cookie-licious Treats, the 2011 version

Factoid: 100+ posts since the beginning of In the Galley in April 2009. That number was a surprise, as were the 6000 hits noted in Blogger's statistics report. The recipe index highlights my varying food interests, listing twice as many seafood items as vegetable dishes. I love fruits and vegies, but the index suggests I love fresh seafood, breads, soups and Mexican food even more! 

A double batch of Cruising Cookies, the M/V Rhapsody variation of cowboy cookies, was a good way to celebrate the statistics... as though anyone needs an excuse to bake cookies! I added some ground flax and whole wheat flour to the mix, easing my conscience a bit over the quantities of butter and sugar. Healthy? of course not, they're cookies! But we do love these cookies for their flavor and their versatility. They have served as a dessert, a late-night snack and an occasional early-morning breakfast substitute. You know, the "grab a cookie and dash" routine when you are running behind schedule... or raising the anchor at dawn. 

I usually mix the dough and bake off an entire batch all at once. The supply doesn't last long in our galley, and to misquote Martha, "...that's a good thing." The baked cookies freeze well, but I rarely freeze the finished product. Raw dough freezes well too. It's handy to slice off half a dozen coins from a log of the frozen, raw dough, pop them onto a baking sheet, insert into a cold oven and cook at 350F until done. You can tell when they are done by the light brown color of the tops and the tantalizing aroma wafting through the boatIt's hard to beat warm cookies, fresh from the oven.

 Cruising (Cowboy) Cookies
Yields 2 dozen
1/2 cup white flour

1/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/8 cup ground flax (optional) 
3⁄4 teaspoon baking powder

3⁄4 teaspoon baking soda

3⁄4 teaspoon cinnamon

1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

6 tablespoons sugar

6 tablespoons brown sugar

1 large egg

3⁄4 teaspoon vanilla extract

3⁄4 cup rolled oats

1⁄2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1⁄2 cup pecans, chopped

1⁄2 cup dried cranberries or raisins
1⁄2 cup shredded coconut 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Cream the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until fluffy.
  3. Sift and mix the flours, flax, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a separate bowl. Add to the butter, sugar and egg mixture and stir until just incorporated. 
  4. Mix in the oats, chocolate chips, nuts, dried fruit and coconut.

  5. Drop rounded tablespoon-sized balls of dough onto silpat-covered cookie sheets, spacing at least 2 inches apart. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the edges brown slightly. Rotate the baking sheets after the first 10 minutes. 
  6. Remove to a baking rack to cool. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Cookies by Hilary

These cookies are gorgeous! Who knew that a bit of frosting could transform a simple cookie into a work of art? Add a steady hand and a bit of artistry to the mix and you have this batch of seaside beauties created by Hilary W. 

You'll just have to imagine another batch, each cookie individually wrapped in cellophane and presented in a sand pail filled with brown sugar sand - imagine it because that photo didn't upload. 

I'm almost tempted to try my hand at cookie decorating, but really, I would rather enjoy Hilary's. If I'm lucky she will have some ready the next time I see her - hint, hint

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Taco Salad Revisited

Do you remember your first introduction to taco salad? I don't, but it was way back in the early-married years. It must have been love at first bite for it seems I've prepared it and loved it forever. Taco salad is the easy answer to no time/quick prep dinners. I remember an evening, no make that a very early morning long ago, when the TGIF crowd arrived, woke me up to join the party... and make them dinner/breakfast. You guessed it, a giant taco salad to the rescue. I think I was even good natured and joined the continuing party.

Taco salad is such an old standby that it hardly needs a recipe, it readily handles substitutions and variations. No two versions are the same, but it doesn't matter once you cover the basics. In my galley that means salad greens, salad fixins', tortilla chips, shredded cheese, ground beef, Mexican spices and salsa. Add some dressing, serve with taco sauce on the side and Ole! it's taco salad. Now about those fixins'. Tonight a fresh, sweet pepper joined a tomato, black beans, black olives and some scallions. That's what was available in the galley. On other occasions I have added corn kernels, jalapenos, shredded carrots, red onions, avocado, et al. Substitute shredded chicken for the ground beef and it's a pollo taco salad. Offer some sour cream and guacamole and it's fancy. Make your own tortilla bowl, garnish with fresh cilantro and lime wedges and wow! it's over the top.

Salad dressing is a matter of individual taste. I season the meat heavily with chipotle chile, cumin, cilantro and Mexican oregano and don't like to mask those flavors with a heavy dressing. Seasoned rice wine vinegar and a splash of oil works for me, but go with your favorite.

So that's my taco salad story. What's yours?

A Taco Salad Narrative
For the salad:
Prepare a large bowl of your favorite greens - romaine or iceberg are traditional
Add a variety of chopped vegetables - tomatoes, onions, avocado, corn, etc.
Scatter other fixins' on top - sliced olives, jalapenos, whatever!
Add shredded cheddar or pepper jack cheese
Add a few handfuls of your favorite tortilla chips - we like the lime-flavored ones

For the beef:
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook lean (not extra lean) ground beef until the pink disappears, stirring occasionally to break it up into small bits. Add some minced garlic and cook until fragrant. Add chipotle chili or cayenne, cumin, cilantro and Mexican oregano to taste, OR use a chili powder mix, and cook a few minutes longer. Add 1/4 cup water and some canned black beans (rinsed and drained) to the skillet; stir until well combined and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in a few tablespoons of chunky salsa to taste.

For the dressing:
Mix a tangy 1:1 vinaigrette of acid to oil. I typically use seasoned rice wine vinegar and lime juice with canola oil.

Just before serving:
Toss the salad with the dressing; add the beef and toss some more. Scatter any additional toppings over the bowl and serve with bowls of taco sauce, sour cream, guacamole, more salsa...

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