Pickled Buddha’s Hand

Making pickled Buddha's Hand

I haven’t been posting here much, partly because of time and partly because my shoulder’s not working right and my hand’s in a splint (and this has been going on in various forms for about six months now). Slows me down. However, I promised my daughter I’d explain how I do this, and it is easiest to do so here, then send her the link. But it’s going to be SHORT.

Last year I tried buddha’s hands in both sweet and salty brine, and found I really loved the salty, and the sweet was ok but not that exciting. The sweet basically tasted like candied citron, which is fine, but I’ve never been a big fan of citron. So I’m giving the instructions for the salty, and for the sweet just replace the salty brine with simple syrup (1 cup water, 2 cups sugar).

What I like to do with these is nibble, put them in sandwiches, but mostly use them in salads and sauces where I want a bit of citrus. The buddha’s hand smells like lemon, but without the tartness or sourness. You get that citrus flavor and scent without the acidity of lemons. The pickles are fun by themselves, but the brine is fabulous in cooking and salad dressings.

PICKLED BUDDHA’S HAND

(1)
Pull apart the ‘fingers’ of the ‘hand’ and slice crosswise. This time I had about 8 ounces, by weight, from one small buddha’s hand.

Making pickled Buddha's Hand: sliced

(2)
I made a ‘salty brine’ by pouring over 2 cups of water, mixing with 3 to 4 tablespoons of salt (depending on how salty you like it). Yes, this is WAY more liquid than you need, but for me the biggest pleasure in the final goodies is as much in the brine as in the ‘pickles’. Then I the whole mess to a boil, and bottled it following usual canning process.

Making pickled Buddha's Hand: boiled

(3)
When bottling, I ladle the solids into the jars first and fill with the liquid. I then have enough liquid (lemony salty brine) left for most of another jar.

Making pickled Buddha's Hand: bottles


UPDATED January 11, 2014.

When I made this last year, the brine was a lot saltier, and I liked that. This year, I couldn’t remember what I did, so I searched for salt brines online and modified what I found. It was less salty, but I know I like salt way more than most folk, so I thought I better err on the side of less salt. However, the pickled buddha’s hand jaw started to ferment, so I am back to adding more salt, and doubled what was listed above.

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Quinoa Casserole (Base Recipe, with Variations)

This is one of those experiments where I throw together a bunch of leftovers, and liked it, so I want to remember what I did. It’s also very adaptable, and can easily be modified. I’m giving a couple of examples.

Quinoa Casserole (Base Recipe)

QUINOA CASSEROLE (BASE RECIPE)

Start by cooking the quinoa.

1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup + 2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon salt

This should make approximately 1 cup of cooked quinoa. Then you mix it with the “color” and “flavor” ingredients.

1 cup chopped cooked potatoes (or double the quinoa)
1/2 cup sauce
2-1/2 cup vegetables
3/4 cup cheese
4 eggs, beaten
spices (salt, pepper, other)

Scoop into a greased baking dish. This is what it looks like going into the oven.

Quinoa Casserole (Base Recipe)

Bake at 450*F for 15 minutes, 350*F for another 20-30 minutes (depending on whether the baking dish is deep or shallow). This is what it looks like coming out of the oven.

Quinoa Casserole (Base Recipe)

Remove from oven, cover with additional grated cheese of an appropriate flavor, heat or reheat at 350*F for 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melted.

Serves 4.

So, here are some examples of how to mix it up.

QUINOA CASSEROLE (ITALIAN)

1 cup cooked quinoa
1 cup chopped cooked potatoes
1/2 cup spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup chopped sweet peppers
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
4 eggs, beaten
1 stalk fresh basil
salt, pepper to taste

Sauté the onion in the olive oil until limp. Add peppers and tomato. Mix all ingredients together with the quinoa.

Bake at 450*F for 15 minutes, 350*F for another 20-30 minutes (depending on whether the baking dish is deep or shallow). Remove from oven, cover with an additional half cup of grated cheese, heat or reheat at 350*F for 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melted.

QUINOA CASSEROLE (MEXICAN)

1 cup cooked quinoa
1 cup chopped cooked potatoes
1/2 cup green salsa (made with tomatillos)
1/2 cup chopped poblano peppers
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup grated Mexican cheeses (melting blend)
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
salt, pepper to taste
optional 1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot sauce

Follow assembly methods above.

QUINOA CASSEROLE (CAJUN)

1 cup cooked quinoa
1 cup chopped andouille sausage
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup cheddar cheese
4 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
salt, pepper to taste

Follow assembly methods above.

FURTHER THOUGHTS

I could definitely see doing this in a French version with apples, onions, and swiss cheese. Or a version with broccoli. And so forth. This is a recipe made for experimenting. What do you want to try?

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ZuCaLe Bread

I’ve been asked for this recipe. Finding the recipe is a challenge. ZuCaLe (pronounced zoo-kale) used to be my favorite spice bread … until I discovered I was allergic to zucchini. That was about 35 years ago, and I haven’t made it since. So, I went back and dug through my old cookbooks and recipe files, and sorted and cleaned and organized my old recipes. But I couldn’t find it. So, what I’ve done here is to try to reconstruct the recipe based on what I remember, and knowing my own patterns for how I tend to adapt recipes. I remember the first time I made this up, I was trying to follow a recipe for carrot bread, and didn’t have enough carrots, so substituted zucchini, and threw in the lemon because I love lemon. I found that including the lemon rind made the whole thing so zesty and bubbly it was just sparkling in my mouth. A confession — sometimes I didn’t chop the nuts, but just tossed in whole walnut halves.

Now, I can’t actually test this out now to make sure this works, since now I am gluten-free, and I am not sure this recipe would survive the translation. It was a dense flavorful bread, rather moist. Also, it would take me so long to test it multiple times to get it right that I don’t think folk want to wait that long.

NOTE: I think this might work well as a bundt cake or muffins.

ZUCALE BREAD RECIPE

Makes 2 loaves

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup soy flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon each allspice & nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups total of a mix of grated zucchini and grated carrot
1 small or medium lemon, grated, complete with rind (remove seeds)
1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Grease and flour two 8 x 5 inch pans.
3. Sift together all flours, salt, baking powder, soda, allspice, and cinnamon.
4. Beat eggs, oil, and sugar together in a large bowl.
5. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well.
6. Stir in grated zucchini, carrots and lemons until well combined.
7. Add nuts. Fold in gently.
8. Pour batter into prepared pans. Let rest in pan for 5 minutes before placing in oven.
9. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted an inch away from the center comes out with only crumbs or clean (and no streaks of raw batter).
10. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and completely cool.

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Black Bean Quinoa Casserole

Cooking: Black Bean Quinoa Casserole

I made this up last week. A friend has teenagers who’ve gone vegetarian, and is wracking his brains to figure out what to feed them. I was thinking of his dilemma while cooking and this was the result. I will tell you it is AMAZING eaten hot, and so-so eaten cold. By “amazing” I really mean tasty hearty healthy filling down-home food. I’ve been keeping the leftovers in the fridge, and heating them up. Just as good as the first time!

BLACK BEAN QUINOA CASSEROLE

Part One

2 cups cooked quinoa
15-ounce can of black beans, rinsed
1 cup corn
1 cup sweet peas (frozen is fine)
1/2 cup chopped sweet bell peppers (I used a mix of colors)
2 medium onions, chopped, and sautéed in EVOO (olive oil)
2 cloves garlic, minced (I used home pickled garlic cloves)
1/3 cup grated cheese
oregano & basil (to taste, I used fresh from the garden, not sure how much)

Part Two

4 eggs
1/2 cup milk (I used kefir)
salt & pepper (to taste)

Topping

2/3 cup grated cheese (I wanted feta, but was out)

Assembly

Cooking

You know how to make quinoa, right? Roughly like rice — 2 parts water for 1 part rice or quinoa, with 1 teaspoon salt per two cups of water. With quinoa I like a couple tablespoons extra water, and I cook it by bringing it to a boil, boiling it for about 5 minutes with the lid on, then turning the heat off, leaving the lid on, and coming back later (anywhere from twenty minutes to eight hours).

Cooking: Black Bean Quinoa Casserole

I mixed the ingredients in the Part One section all together (cooked quinoa, beans, peppers, corn, onion, garlic, cheese, and herbs). You can substitute storebought herbs if you wish, but it is summer, and I have fresh ones in the garden. I’ve found I really LOVE the blossoms of the basil plant – such a strong spicy flavor for the basil!

Cooking: Black Bean Quinoa Casserole

This is when everything is mixed in together.

Cooking: Black Bean Quinoa Casserole

Beat the eggs, milk, salt & pepper in a separate bowl.

Then, I lined a 13″x9″ cake pan with parchment paper, and spooned the quinoa mixture into it. Pour the egg mixture over the quinoa mixture, and top with the rest of the grated cheese.

Bake at 350F for 45 minutes.

Cooking: Black Bean Quinoa Casserole

Indulge in a healthy feast!

Cooking: Black Bean Quinoa Casserole

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2-4-6-8 Easy Lentil Soup

2 cups dried lentils
4 cups chopped onion
6 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
8 cups water
Salt & pepper to taste.

Boil until lentils are soft.

See? Couldn’t be easier, could it? Actually, I bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer on medium heat until soft and the water has reduced to an edible texture. But you knew that already, didn’t you? You may sautée the onion and garlic if you wish, but you don’t need to. I usually just toss them all together and boil/simmer merrily away.

Me, I love to eat this served on a mound of rice that has a pat of butter tucked inside. I’ve also been known to just bring a quarter cup of this to eat cold in my lunch, to round out whatever else I brought.

The recipe is very flexible, and you can do more creative things with it. Throw in some chopped greens! Add some curry spices. Whatever you like, you might want to try it. Feel free to play around. I always come back to this, though. It has bonded with my soul.

Simple soul food, hearty and healthy. Please note, this will make you a bit gassy the next day unless you add a pinch or two of ginger during the boiling. Doesn’t look like much, but tastes like a little bit of heaven.

2-4-6-8 Lentil Soup

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Banana Foster Quinoa Pudding

Black Sheep Tavern

Our church choir traditionally has a Mardi Gras party with potluck. This is my first time since going gluten free. They are going to TRY making a gluten-free roux for the big pots of gumbo, and I struggled with what to bring as a dessert. Someone else was already making a quinoa salad, and I wanted to make something both gluten free and semi-traditional Cajun Mardi Gras dessert. I make a lot of Cajun food (well, since we are descended from the original Beausoleil of Louisiana, that scamp).

But desserts are not so much my thing. (Despite evidence to the contrary on this blog. I guess because I make desserts relatively rarely, I tend to make a big deal out of it when I do!) Most of the traditional Cajun food is really everyday fare. I make loads of rice pudding, for example, but that is breakfast in my mind, so I didn’t want to bring that and call it party food. The actual Mardi Gras party food type of desserts were mostly either way too much work for me, or hard to transport. After considerable digging, I found a recipe for a Banana Foster Bread Pudding with Caramel Rum Sauce. Evidently this was originally from the magazine Bon Appetit, which also seems appropriate, n’est-ce pas? I didn’t want to make it with actual bread (those gluten free breads are EXPENSIVE), and quinoa is healthier anyway. So. With some fair amount of trepidation and experimentation and sheer fortitude, I decided to substantially modify the recipe to make this. It looks fabulous. I will know better how well it worked after the party. In the meantime, I don’t want to forget what I actually DID! So here it is.

Banana Foster Quinoa Pudding, Take 1

BANANA FOSTER QUINOA PUDDING
(with optional Caramel Rum Sauce)

Quinoa

1 cup uncooked white quinoa
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Bring ingredients to a full boil in a medium sized pot. Boil for three to five minutes, then remove from heat and set aside for either overnight or a couple hours.

Custard

3 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
2 tablespoons dark rum
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cups half&half (or 1/2 cup each whipping cream and milk)

Beat together vigorously.

Bananas

4 large “just ripe” sweet bananas

Peel. Carefully, slice lengthwise. Then slice crosswise in lengths of about 3 inches.

Caramel

What I did for the caramel part in the pudding is a bit more complicated than most folk will want to do. I made the traditional “Cajun” boiled can my mama and grandma always made. This is done by taking a can of sweetened condensed milk, put it in a deep pan covered with water by several inches, and then boil it for at least seven hours. Yeah. Right. So, there is a simpler alternative.

Buy one can of Nestle’s La Lechadera. Take out half of the can of “dulce de leche”, and heat it gently in a small pan with just enough milk to make it possible to stir it. It should not be soupy, and it should not be gloppy or pasty.

Assembly

In a well-buttered baking dish (I used a 9x13x2 ceramic dish), layer half the cinnamon quinoa. Take half the banana chunks (the less pretty ones), arrange on top of the quinoa layer, and press down into the quinoa. Spoon the caramel mixture over the bananas.

Add a second layer of cinnamon quinoa, with a second layer of bananas. The pretty ones, this time. Press them down into the quinoa gently until they disappear about halfway into the quinoa. Again, spoon the caramel mixture over the bananas.

Beat the custard mixture again, and then very carefully, slowly pour it over the quinoa-banana layers. There may be more custard than needed.

Cook

Bake at 350*F for one hour and ten minutes, or until the center is set (only jiggles slightly) and the edges have started to pull away from the pan.

Serving

The original recipe said it served 8 people. Wow, well, those must be awfully generous fotball-player size portions! I think it is more like 16 servings. You can serve with caramel rum sauce, or whipped cream, or both, or neither.

For the Caramel Rum Sauce instructions, see the original recipe at Chik’N’Pastry.

My Name is Puddin’ Tain: http://chiknpastry.com/2009/10/my-name-is-puddin-tain/

And with that, I am off to a party!

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Peach Yogurt Custard Pie

Peach Yogurt Custard Pie 3

Just in case anyone is thinking this might be a pie made with peach yogurt from the store, nope! This is a pie made with peaches and yogurt, as two separate and distinct things.

In summer, I often make this blueberry cream pie that is a wonderful family favorite. I’ve tried substituting raspberries and other berries successfully, and wondered about other fruits. I tried apricots once, and that didn’t work, but I still wanted to try peaches. I’ve been thinking about making a peaches and cream pie for YEARS.

Today I decided to make it. Was half way through, when I realized I didn’t have the right ingredients. Sent kiddo to two neighborhood stores, neither of which carried heavy cream. So, well, what do you do? Improvise!

There is a local dairy that sells their own yogurt in jugs, thicker than heavy cream, but more liquid than the yogurt sold in cups (no gelatin). I started with that … and improvised all over the place, so this recipe is less of a permutation of the blueberry cream pie, and more a completely new concept.


PEACH YOGURT CUSTARD PIE RECIPE

Step One: Peaches

1 – 10 inch pie crust (not graham cracker crust, real pie crust. Me, I use a gluten-free crust)
~3 cups fresh, ripe, juicy peaches, skinned, pitted, and diced large

You may wish to slightly precook the crust. Peel the peaches the usually way, by dipping first in boiling water. Remove the pits, and rather than slicing, dice almost cubeshaped and about an inch in size. Fill the cooled crust with the diced peaches, reserving the juice. I’d sliced the peaches, as you see in the picture, but the slices tend to stick together. I found that doesn’t leave a lot of room for the cream to get in between the pieces. Because the peaches were so fresh and tender, they made a lot of juice while I was handling them. I saved this to use in the cream portion of the recipe. (NOTE: Save the juice! I mean it!)

Peach Yogurt Custard Pie 1

Step Two: Cream

~1/4 cup peach juices, reserved
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup plain yogurt

Whisk sugar, salt, cornstarch, and cinnamon into the preserved peach juices. When smooth, beat in the 2 eggs, and last add and blend in the yogurt. Pour over the peaches. If needed, gently tease the peach cubes to allow the cream mixture to settle in.

Peach Yogurt Custard Pie 2

Step 3: Bake! Eat!

Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 40-50 minutes. Check at 30 minutes. If it is starting to get a much darker brown around the edges than in the middle (as shown in this picture, I recommend reducing the temp to 350 degrees for finishing. The pie is done when (as with any custard pie) a toothpick inserted halfway between the rim and the center comes out clean, and the center only jiggles very slightly.

I know, it smells heavenly, and looks delicious, but you MUST WAIT for it to cool before slicing.

Peach Yogurt Custard Pie 4

It was so good, I ate three pieces in two hours. I promise, I’ll eat something healthy for dinner. But wait! What’s not healthy about peaches and yogurt? Maybe I should ….

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