Oct 6, 2018

The Beauty of Swiss Chard

Rhubarb Swiss Chard from Kumu Farms here on the Hawaiian island of Moloka'i.
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The beauty of Swiss Chard is that it's easy to make as a side dish, delicious, and is very good for you. Swiss Chard, like spinach, is loaded with vitamins and nutrients. 

Swiss chard isn't actually native to Switzerland. A Swiss botanist named Koch determined the plant's scientific name in the 19th century, and since then, the vegetable's name has honored his homeland. Chard really originated further south, in the Mediterranean region. Aristotle wrote about it in the 4th century BC, and the ancient Greeks and Romans valued chard for its medicinal properties.

The variety of Swiss Chard shown above is called Rhubarb Swiss Chard because of its vibrant red stalks. There are other varieties of Swiss Chard, and they pretty much all taste the same. 

Whatever, all I know is that it gives us all another beautiful vegetable to enjoy with family and friends.

SIMPLE – Swiss Chard
1 small onion, sliced thinly
1 bunch of Swiss Chard
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or other hot sauce (optional)
1 cup low salt beef stock
3 tablespoons soy sauce, or to taste

Remove the skin from the onion and slice thinly. Wash and clean the chard leaves trimming the bottom of the stems. Slice the stems into-inch pieces. Roll the leaves into a cigar-like shape and slice across horizontally into one-inch wide strips.

Heat butter and olive oil in a wok or large sauté pan on medium heat. Add the minced garlic and pepper, sauté for another minute.

Add the stock and chard stems and simmer for 2 or 3 minutes, until tender. Add the chard leaves and simmer for an additional 5 to 10 minutes. The chard leaves will wilt down.

Now add a little soy sauce or salt to taste.

Makes 4 small servings.

Note: Refrigerate Chard, wrapped in a plastic bag for up to three days. I like to serve chard with ham, roast chicken or pork, or toss steamed chard with pasta, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic. You can also sprinkle cooked chard with crumbled bacon or chopped hard-boiled eggs.

Swiss Chard with Pumpkin Seeds 
and Golden Raisins
2 pounds swiss chard, stem ends trimmed
1/4 cup raw hulled pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Place the chard on your cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut out the colorful stems from the leaves. Slice the stems crosswise into ¼-inch pieces and place them in a bowl. Working in batches, stack the greens, roll them into a thick cigar shape and slice them crosswise into ¼-inch-wide ribbons.

Toast the pumpkin seeds in a small skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan often, until fragrant, toasty-brown, and plump, 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a small plate to cool and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and salt and cook, stirring often, until it begins to soften, 3-4 minutes. Stir in the chard stems and cook until they're starting to soften, about 4 minutes. Add the greens and cook, stirring often, until they begin to wilt, about 4 minutes longer. Stir in the raisins and turn off the heat. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and turn the greens out onto a serving platter. Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds over the top and serve.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Sep 29, 2018

A Basket Full Of Love

I love mushrooms, but did you know that they are very good for you. They are one of the only veggie foods to contain vitamin D, mushrooms are a great way to boost your daily requirements of this vital compound. They’re also packed with other goodies too, such as selenium, copper, iron, potassium, niacin, and vitamin C, to name but a few.

They’re also a decent way to get a little more calcium into your diet as well. This works symbiotically with the aforementioned vitamin D, as it helps your body absorb calcium. Furthermore, mushrooms are packed with antioxidants and are considered to have a greater capacity than many veggies, making them brilliant immune system boosters. So, you really should be eating more mushrooms.

Here is a great recipe for...

DILLicious Cream of Mushroom Soup
This is an easy soup to prepare. It is thick and rich, with wonderful undertones of dill.

DILLicious Cream of Mushroom Soup
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3 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, diced
1 pound cremini or button mushrooms, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon paprika
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons dried dill, or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 teaspoons sour cream
1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice
fresh dill leaves for garnish

Melt the butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat, add the onions and mushrooms and garlic. Cook until the mushrooms have released their liquids and it has evaporated, about 10-15 minutes.

Mix in the flour and paprika and let it cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add the broth, dill, tamari or soy sauce, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Season with salt, pepper, then mix in the lemon or lime juice. Remove from heat and serve with a teaspoon of sour cream, garnished with fresh dill leaves. Serve with crackers or hot crusty bread.

Makes 4 servings.

Note: If you don't have chicken broth on hand, use a 10 3/4 ounce can of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup mixed with 3 cups of water.

Sep 28, 2018

Red & Yellow Bell Peppers

Pineapple Mango Pepper Salsa

This salsa goes really well on grilled fish and shrimp, in tacos, and used on chicken and pork chops. Mango and papaya go well together with the pineapple, so feel free to use papaya instead, using the same amount and technique as for the mango. It also is very good with diced avocado mixed in and eaten with chips. 

1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 large red onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons brown or white sugar
1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1 8-ounce can of pineapple chunks in juice or light syrup, chopped*
1/2 inch cube of peeled ginger, finely minced
1 small pinch of cinnamon
1/2 red bell pepper-cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch squares
1/2 yellow bell pepper-cut into ¼ to 1/2 inch squares
1 medium jalapeno pepper, de-seeded and de-ribbed, finely diced
1/2 firm but ripe mango, peeled and cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch dice
2 tablespoons cilantro or mint, (or a combination of both)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and cook to soften, avoiding browning.

Add the sugar to the pan and stir. Now add the vinegar to the pan and stir to mix well. Add the pineapple and the liquid it came with to the pot, and bring to a boil.

Cook to reduce the liquid to an almost syrupy consistency.

Add the ginger and cinnamon and cook to soften the ginger.

Taste for balance and adjust as needed. It should be a balance of tart and sweet. Use vinegar or sugar to balance.

Add the chilis and bells and mix well.

Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl to cool. When cool, carefully fold in the mango and chill. Add pepper to your liking.

Carefully fold in the leaves of some cilantro, or some finely shredded mint, or a combination of both.

*The reason I use canned pineapple instead of fresh is that fresh, uncooked pineapple contains an enzyme that will break down proteins. These enzymes, along with those found in papaya, are those used most in commercial powdered “meat tenderizers.” Bromelain and papain are the names of the active ingredients in the powders. The other reason I go with canned? It’s easier.

Makes 2 cups.