Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Second Life for Cilantro

I love having cilantro in my garden. It's such a great flavor addition to so many dishes, but it doesn't last long in my garden. So, I started researching and found that all is not lost because there are many uses for the cilantro seeds. Dried cilantro seeds, or coriander, can be used for new plantings and in cooking. Once your cilantro has bolted follow the easy steps below to get more life out of your plant.

Drying Cilantro Seeds

The “seeds” are actually two cilantro seeds encased in a husk. The husk is hard, round and is light brown or grey in color. Before you plant them in the ground, you need to prepare the cilantro seeds to increase the chances that they will germinate. Gently crush the seed husk holding the two seeds together. Soak the cilantro seeds in water for 24 - 48 hours. Remove from the water and allow to dry.

Planting Cilantro Seeds

Once you have prepared the cilantro seeds, you need to plant the seeds. You can either start cilantro indoors or out doors. If you are starting the seeds indoors, you will be transplanting cilantro to the outdoors later on.

Put the seeds in the soil and then cover them with about a 1/4 inch layer of soil. Leave the cilantro growing until it is at least 2 inches tall. At this time, thin the cilantro to be about 3-4 inches apart. You want to be growing cilantro in crowded conditions because the leaves will shade the roots and help to keep the plant from bolting in hot weather.

If you are transplanting cilantro into your garden, dig holes 3-4 inches apart and place the plants in them. Water thoroughly after transplanting.

Cooking with Coriander

To prepare the coriander seeds for use, cut the stems and tie them together. Hang them in a cool, dry place to dry out. Make sure to place a container under them to capture falling seeds. When dry, place flower heads in a bag and shake to harvest seeds. Make sure seeds are completely dry before storing.

To use the seeds, crush them in a mortar and pestle or spin them in a coffee grinder or small food processor. Toasting the seeds in a dry pan brings out their best flavor.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Reinventing Lefovers

We've all been there, your carefully crafted dinner was good the first night, maybe even the second time, but the third time is hard to palette. The dilemma: what can you do with leftovers once you're bored of them? Well, I just might have an answer (or two). Recently I have been surprising myself with my ability to reinvent leftovers, so I've decided to post some of my more successful attempts here.

First Meal: Barbeque Pork Chops (these were actually leftovers from a meal out)

Second Meal: Barbeque Pork Carnitas
Leftover barbequed pork chops, meat pulled away from the bone and thinly sliced
2 C white rice
2 C water (if using rice cooker, otherwise follow package directions)
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
3 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice, divided
1 can black beans, rinsed
pinch cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
Flour tortillas
Shredded cheddar cheese

Cook the rice and water in the rice cooker with 1 Tbsp olive oil, cilantro and 1 Tbsp lime juice.
Heat the beans over low heat with 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp lime juice, cayenne pepper and cumin. Heat until warm, about 10 minutes.
Assemble the rice, beans, meat and cheese in a tortilla as desired. Top with salsa and guacamole (optional).

*I ate this for dinner and then ate the ingredients as a "bowl" (without the tortilla) for lunch the following day.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


When I was a kid Blueberries for Sal was one of my favorite books; to this day, I can't eat a blueberry without feeling nostalgic. Perhaps that's because I have so many other fond memories tied to blueberries - fresh pints sold at the old hotel near our family summer cottage, going picking with my cousins, being taught the most amazing cobbler recipe as an adolescent and the Saturdays of my childhood when my bestfriend's mother served us blueberry muffins right out of the oven. Since the blueberry season is approaching, I've been pulling out some old, and new, recipes to make the best use of this amazingly healthy fruit. Below are two of my favorites:

Blueberry Muffins
3 C of all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
10 Tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/4 stick), softened
1 C sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 C vanilla yogurt
1 tsp grated lemon peel
2 C blueberries

Adjust the oven rack to the middle-lower part of the oven. Preheat oven to 375°F.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together, beating until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated after each one. Beat in the grated lemon peel.

Beat in one half of the dry ingredients until just incorporated. Beat in one third of the yogurt. Beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients. Beat in a second third of the yogurt. Beat in the remaining dry ingredients and then the remaining yogurt. Again be careful to beat until just incorporated. Do not over beat. Fold in the berries. If you are using store bought frozen berries, defrost them first, drain the excess liquid, and then coat them in a light dusting of flour. If you are using fresh berries you froze yourself, do not defrost them, add them to the mixture while they are still frozen.

Use a standard 12-muffin muffin pan. Coat each muffin cup lightly with butter or cooking spray. Distribute the batter equally among the cups. Bake until muffins are golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Test with a toothpick to make sure the center of the muffins are done. Set on wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Remove muffins from the tin and serve while still warm.

Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes

Blueberry Cobbler

Fruit Mixture:
3 C blueberries
1/2 C sugar
1/2 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp butter

Cobbler Dough:
1 C all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp cold butter
1/3 C heavy cream

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Combine berries with sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla. Place fruit mixture in a 1 quart baking dish. Cut the butter into several pieces and scatter over the fruit.

Measure the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar into the workbowl of a food processory and pulse twice to sift. Cut the butter into pieces and place on top of the flour; pulse 8-10 times. With the motor running, pour cream through the feed tube. Stop the motor when the dough clumps together.

Turn the dough onto lightly floured surfice and roll to shape the dimensions of the baking dish. Place dough over the fruit mixture. Cut several deep slashes in the dough.

Bake 20-25 minutes.

This recipe was taught to me by a woman for whom I babysat when I was about 14-15 years old. I don't know where she got it, but I cannot claim credit for it. You can also substitute fresh peaches for the blueberries - equally as delicious!