Inkster Dispatch: Changes Coming…

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For those who have been paying attention, my microfarm pretty much closed up shop in November 2017. I still have a reasonable sized garden: however, it will be harvested likely by the new owner of my property come fall of 2018. Hubby and I have hatched a plan, for which you can see here:  Proteus Rising. For those struck by tl;dr, we’re selling the house/property, buying a boat, and going from land to sea and all around the world.

I’ll likely keep my own personal website for all projects that are “just Casz,” because I won’t stop writing. But I don’t know what this change here at casondrabrewster.com is going to look like. It will still cover my creative life — whatever that ends up looking like. Not really sure.

But, now you know there are changes coming.

More soon.

Thanks for reading all the way.

 

Harvest Creations: Seafood Stock ****

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Making stock is simple.

Please, please, please, whatever you do. Don’t buy stock, especially not seafood variety from the market. It’s so easy to make at home and costs a fraction of the store-bought kind and is so much yummier and nutritious.

I can my stock  in a pressure canner in quart jars for 35 minutes at 10 lbs. of pressure. But you don’t have to can it. You can freeze it for up to six months (mine rarely lasts that long), or use it fresh within two days. Chicken, Pork, or Beef, or I’ve even made Lamb or Duck, stock lasts a bit longer than seafood in the fridge — about two weeks –, but it’s still the same in the pressure canner.

However you decide to store it — it’s super easy to make. You’ll never want to use store-bought stock again, especially when making chowder, seafood stew, paella, or the like.

Take the time to bake/roast the shells. It gives the stock a richer flavor and decreases the “fishy” smell while the stock cooks.

Notes on the Recipe:

I use a giant pasta pot with detachable strainer. That way you can pull the shells out and cook it down for the long version of the recipe. Short version, mostly noted here, takes three hours. For the long version, you just cook it down a bit longer before canning.

Many people say that the roasting of the shells is not necessary; but, I feel like it gives you a better flavor and minimizes the “fishy” smell while you’re brewing up a batch of Seafood Stock. My advice? Don’t skip it.

Ingredients:

about 5 cups (or about 1 1/2 lbs) seafood shells (shrimp, lobster, crab, or fish skeletons)

The ingredients are easy and don’t require a whole lot of prep.

1 yellow onion, unpeeled and quartered

2 carrots, unpeeled and cut into chunks

1 garlic clove, unpeeled

1/2 cup  dry sherry or dry white wine

1 TBS tomato paste

2 sprigs of rosemary

1 handful of parsley

1 bay leaf

10 peppercorns

Directions:

If you have an insert strainer for your stock pot (I use a tall spaghetti pot combo), it makes this task even easier.

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place shells in a baking pan and roast for 5-8 minutes, until they begin to turn golden.

Place shells in a large stockpot (if you’ve got the stockpot/strainer variety, I highly recommend it), cover with water no more than half an inch above the level of the shells. Add onion, carrots and garlic.

Heat on high until small bubbles rise to the surface. Reduce heat to medium and cook for one hour. From time to time remove any scum (gray bubbly foam that stays on the surface) by scooping it off with a spoon.

After one hour, add wine, tomato paste, rosemary, parsley, bay leaf and peppercorns. Cook for another 30 minutes.

Strain the stock (If you don’t have the pot/strainer combo you’ll do it through a fine mesh strainer, discarding the solids). If you’re doing the all-day method, just cook down after you strain the stock at least about an inch in the pan. The result for this extra time investment is an even richer stock.

Refrigerate for up to two days, or pour into plastic containers with at least one inch of head room and freeze up to six months. If you pressure-preserve can, it will last in the larder up to a year. Again, it never lasts that long in my house.

This recipe is a four-star recipe because the rosemary and parsley were picked fresh right before, and the bay leaf is from my microfarm, too. Lastly, the shells I harvested myself as well. During the summer, it would be easy to have the carrots and onions at my disposal — so this recipe has the capability of being a six-star recipe. Again, for those new to the blog, each recipe gets a star for each item that I have grown/harvested/cooked myself — hence, Harvest Creations. This stock, in turn, will turn into a star for other recipes.

Harvest Creations: Low-Carb Paella ***

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I was telling a friend about this recipe and she called it Faux Paella because it doesn’t have any rice in it. Faux Paella, Low-Carb Paella, call it whatever you want, it’s delicious. And healthy, too.

Get all your ingredients together. Note the peas, herbs and stock are all from my microfarm/kitchen.

This recipe was because I am in the process of cleaning out my freezers and pantry and larder. So this used up some of the things so I could clean and get things ready for the next growing season.

 

I keep forgetting to note how many stars these recipes have — each star representing something that I grew and used in the recipe. This one is tough. Some of the herbs in the dressing were from my microfarm. And the peas were from our last harvest. But that’s it. However, I also made the stock. So this does get a three-star rating.

Notes on this recipe:

You will need a balsamic dressing for this. Be sure that it is just oil, balsamic, and herbs — no sugar, please. Fortunately, you can get it already made, but it’s super easy to make your own. Just two parts oil and one part balsamic vinegar and your choice of herbs. I prefer parsley, chives, and basil in mine. But you do you.

The recipe calls for chicken thighs, but as I mentioned above, I was cleaning out the freezer/fridge/pantry. So, you’ll see in the photos I used chicken breast because that’s what I had on hand. With breast you’ll use more stock then with thighs, hence why the recipe calls for one to three cups of stock. Even if you don’t use all three cups while preparing, it’s nice to add a little stock to leftover container to keep the paella moist.

This recipe calls for shrimp. In a pinch you could skip this ingredient, especially if you’re planning to eat for breakfast or lunch the next day. Some people are not happy with a fried egg over the paella with shrimp in it at breakfast, but I think it’s delicious. Plus, traditionally, paella is going to have some kind of seafood in it. I had the small cocktail shrimp on hand that I needed to use.

The cooking the chicken and chorizo step.

Equipment:

A cast-iron dutch oven with lid

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons of olive oil

1 lb. of chorizo, either chunked or ground

1 carrot, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

2 cups of cauliflower “rice”

1 to 3 cups of chicken stock*

Don’t skip the saffron. I know, it’s a spendy ingredient. But Trader Joe’s provides an inexpensive and quality saffron for home cooks. No, TJ’s isn’t sponsoring me. Just a tip from me to you.

1 cup of frozen peas, thawed*

1/2 cup of Balsamic dressing*

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 onion, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

salt and pepper

pinch of saffron (please don’t skip, it makes the dish)

1 pound of cooked shrimp

2 tablespoons of parsley, chopped

1 lemon, juiced

Instructions:

Set the chicken and chorizo aside after the initial cooking. Don’t worry, it won’t necessarily be cooked through. That will happen before the recipe is done.

In your cast-iron dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and chorizo and brown on all sides for 3 to 4 minutes. The meat will not be cooked through. This is fine. This is a pre-seasoning of the pan and the a searing of the meat step. Remove chicken and chorizo from pan and set aside.

Heat remaining oil in pan and add onion, carrot, celery, and bell pepper. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes until vegetables are translucent. Season with salt and pepper. Add cauliflower rice to the pan and stir to coat. Add saffron and stir.

Evenly distribute the “rice” around the pan and slowly pour in stock one cup at a time as not to disturb the “rice.” Only put in enough liquid to cover the vegetables and cauliflower ‘rice.” Next cover the dutch oven and cook for 7 to 10 minutes. Do not stir during this portion of the

Cauldron Cooking at it’s best.

cooking.

Finally stir before adding chicken, chorizo, and shrimp back to the pan, carefully nestling the pieces within the vegetables and cauliflower “rice”. Cover dutch oven again and continue cooking another 10 minutes until meat is cooked through and cauliflower “rice” is al dente.

Top with peas and parsley. Stir. Drizzle with dressing and lemon juice. Serve immediately.

 

*denotes that it was homemade or homegrown or both

Harvest Creations: Easy But Special Roast Lamb & Sauteed Greens

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So simple and easy, yet so elegant. Most of all, tasty!

One of my resolutions for the year is to try and celebrate every day. The Universe has seen fit to give me lesson after lesson of how precious life is and that even in the routine, even in the mundane, we must celebrate this beautiful gift of existence we have. This celebration should certainly include food.

This recipe is super easy and simple, yet seems so decadent and delicious. Every time I make it, my husband, bless his heart, says, “What’s the occasion?” And I get to wink and smile, and say, “Just cause.” But if I needed to make a meal for a special occasion, this likely would be my go-to. You know those memes that say you should have one recipe that you make to impress someone. This could totally be it. My go-to used to be Chicken Piccata. This kicks that poultry all over the kitchen and dining room and back to Thursday night. 😉

Cook’s Notes about this recipe:

Do not forget to take the roast out in enough time to not only be thawed, but be sure that it’s room temperature before you roast.

If you are planning for a special meal and need to do some pre-work on this recipe, feel free to marinade overnight. However, I like to just have it marinate as it gets to room temperature. If you do marinate overnight, again, be sure to allow the meat to rest on the counter and lose it’s chill before you roast.

Do not skimp on the ingredients here. There’s not a lot. But be sure to get the fresh rosemary. Don’t skip the nutmeg. It’s essential to the flavor. Feel free to up the garlic and cayenne to your taste.

If you need to “rush” the roasting process, you can cut cooking time down by having the ribs sliced ahead of time, instead of carving the whole roast. But you will need to turn during cooking. It turns out yummy this way, too.

Take the time to massage your greens, especially if you’re using kale or mustard greens. If you have baby greens, no need to massage.

For the greens this recipe details olive oil; however, feel free to use whatever oil you like. I love the flavor that avocado oil gives the greens, but it’s your decision which to use. Most folks nowadays have olive oil, hence the recipe’s status.

In the photo above, I had some leftover cooked bacon that I crumbled in the greens. Feel free to do that right before you add the salt, pepper, and lemon juice. But totally optional.

Every oven can be different and depending on how warm your lamb racks are before putting in the oven, your roasting time may vary. Get that meat thermometer out.

Equipment:

Cast Iron Skillet

Roasting Pan

Meat thermometer

Ingredients:

2lbs frenched rack of lambs

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 rosemary sprigs

4 cups of mixed baby greens (kale, spinach, mustard, etc.),

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 shallot, diced

salt,

pepper,

olive oil,

half a fresh lemon

Instructions:

In a small dish, combine salt and spices. Sprinkle seasoning evenly all over the lamb.

Add olive oil and minced garlic in a large zip lock bag and spread it evenly inside the bag.

Put the racks of lamb into the bag and place the rosemary on each side.

Squeeze out the air and zip the bag. Massage it slightly so that olive oil, garlic and all other spices are evenly distributed.

Marinate the lamb for at least an hour, or overnight. Bring it to room temperature before cooking.

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).

Place the lamb racks on a baking sheet lined with foil.

Roast for about 30 to 40 minutes depending how you like it done. The internal temperature should reach at least 130-140°F for medium rare. Broil for 2-3 minutes to add a little char before taking it out.

Cover with foil and rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

While the roast is charing and resting — work your greens in a big cast-iron skillet. Add oil to pan. Heat the pan to med-high heat. Then add the chopped shallots for one minute. Then add the peppers. Sautee for about 2 minutes. Add the greens and let wilt, stirring often. Salt and pepper to taste. Squeeze the lemon over the greens, remove from heat and serve immediately alongside the lamb rib roast portion.

Enjoy.

Harvest Creations: Low Carb Chicken Pizza

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So it’s the new  year and you’ve promised yourself you’re going to eat healthier. But you love Pizza. Yeah, me, too.

Here’s the solution I’ve come up with:  Chicken Pizza. No, the chicken doesn’t go on the pizza, it is the pizza, or rather, the pizza crust.

Notes about the recipe:

You may want to beat the chicken breasts a little thinner to make it more like crust. I have made it both ways and it is delicious either way and it just depends on how much time I have to make dinner or if I’m starting out with frozen or not breasts.

For the fresh basil leaves, you’ll need approximately two per breast, but depending on size of breasts and leaves you may need more/less. You can use fresh spinach if you don’t have basil.

Ingredients:

Four boneless, skinless chicken breasts

olive oil and a bit of butter

Pizza Sauce (I recommend you make your own to cut down on salt and sugar; but can sauce works fine)

Click to enlarge photo

Provolone cheese slilces

Pepperoni

Fresh Basil Leaves

Parsley, optional

Optional:  mushrooms, sliced tomatoes, peppers — you know pizza toppings. In the photos there is sliced tomatoes. If you put more on the chicken than the basil and pepperoni and cheese, you will need some shredded Parmesan to help make the toppings “stick.”

Homemade pizza sauce is easy and healthier.

Equipment:

Big Cast Iron Skillet with lid

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slowly heat your pizza sauce on the stove on low. You will use this like a marinara sauce for dipping as well as to put on top of the chicken.

Pound the chicken breast thinner, if desired, but optional. Season breast with salt and pepper.

Heat your skillet with some oil or a pat of butter on medium heat.

Once the oil heats or the butter melts, put the chicken breasts in and let cook on one side at least five minutes.

Then flip breasts over and cover skillet.

Cook for another five minutes or so. Flip back over, add a little bit more oil or butter, if needed (you don’t want the chicken to stick to the pan).

Fresh Basil is so wonderful.

Turn off the stove heat. With breasts still in cast-iron skillet, put a spoonful of sauce on the chicken breast and spread around.

Put on your fresh basil leaves.

(At this point if you’re adding more toppings, sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese and then add the toppings. Mushrooms and peppers should be pre-cooked, so there’s not too much moisture pulling off the toppings off the chicken “crust.” Remember, the more toppings the longer it will need to cook in the oven, just like real pizza.)

Put one slice of provolone cheese on each breast.

Add pepperoni. Sprinkle with dried parsley if desired.

Put skillet in oven and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Be sure skillet is in the middle of the oven.

Serve one breast per person with a side of the sauce (like shown above).

You can even hand pepper flakes and grated Parmesan to everyone just like at the pizzeria. Enjoy.