A cooking and baking journal

A Great Broccoli Dish and a Litttle Sweet Corn Lesson for This Sunday

8/23/09: Broccoli Flan and Mirai Sweet Corn

Meal details: Broccoli flan which consists of swiss cheese, eggs, onions, and broccoli. Yes, this recipe isn't technically a flan (which is a baked custard quite similar to crème caramel), but it has the texture of one and that is why the recipe creators decided to call this dish such. If I was titling this recipe I would call it an egg casserole instead. Alongside the baked flan we had a new variety of sweet corn called Mirai Optimum which I will tell you more about later.

Recipe sources: The flan recipe came from Recipes from America's Small Farms: Fresh Ideas for the Season's Bounty.
Defining moment: First time for me to use broccoli in a recipe.
What I learned: I am happy to say that broccoli isn't that difficult to clean. Yay! I also learned how to steam broccoli with ease and I owe all of this to Annemarie. She told me that I just have to take a large pot, put a 1/2" or an 1" of water on the bottom, put the broccoli in, cover, and put the burner on a low temperature. I stayed around medium heat most of the time and I stirred the broccoli every five minutes until they were tender. It worked out splendidly! I first thought I had to use a double boiler kind of contraption in order to steam, but that isn't the case. One final thing I learned is that leftovers taste great if pan fried, just like we do leftover scrambled eggs.
Any modifications? No, I followed the recipe exactly. And by the way, I multiplied the recipe by 3 and the flan fitted perfectly into the Pyrex casserole dish.
How it tasted: It tasted very good but I do think I should have put more salt and pepper in. Other than that, it was great.
How about a 2nd time? Yes, and I do hope our second patch of broccoli will pull through all the woodchuck and deer nibbling! :(

So here are a few photos of the broccoli flan I prepared:

And before I go I wanted to elaborate on what is Mirai sweet corn. The best way to tell you all is to copy what my father said in our farm market's weekly newsletter. He is a sweet corn guru (has been growing it for many years) so here it is:

Last August I happened to be listening to the Chicago's WGN 720 AM radio (the voice of the Chicago Cubs) and I heard an ad about a place northwest of Chicago that sold sweet corn that they grew on their farm. The announcer made it sound like the corn was really special - I found out that they were selling it for around $7 a dozen which means they must have thought it was special! The type of corn was Mirai corn, whatever that was. Well, I knew there were three types of sweet corn-regular old fashioned type (SU), the supersweet (SH2) type and the enhanced sugar (SE) type, which is the primary type we have grown for over 15 years. Actually we have grown all three types but we have preferred the enhanced sugar type. Well, there is a new type of corn Mirai, which has some of all three genes mixed in. It was claimed in the ad (from Twin Gardens Farm located near Harvard Illinois) that the Mirai type was the best tasting corn around. I had to try it so I planted three bi-color varieties of Mirai corn. (To be honest, two of the varieties have Mirai in their name, with a number like 301 as a suffix, and one is actually named Optimum which is the same type of corn as Mirai but put out by a different seed company so they couldn't use the Mirai name.) Despite the warnings that Mirai corn was hard to grow, it has done fabulously and we have just taste tested it. It is truly a revolutionary corn. About the sweetest corn I ever tasted. If you like it sweet you should try it (by the way we are selling it for the same price as most of our corn, $4 a dozen). To be honest though, my wife and I think it is so sweet it is almost too sweet! While I expect it will be a big hit with most of our customers, not everyone will go for it. However, it is definitely a lot tenderer and more flavorful than the old-time Supersweet, which I personally didn't like at all! The Mirai type is a good corn and if you think it's a bit too sweet let it set in the kitchen a couple of days and it will lose some sweetness. For more information check out Miraicorn.com or Twingardenfarms.com.

So there you go, everything you want to learn about this really tasty sweet corn! And for those who like the visual, here's a photo of the Mirai before it was boiled:

What I Think Would Be The Perfect Cooking Show

If you have Dish Network or DirectTV, odds are you have Food Network. My family first watched the channel when we switched from cable to satellite back in 2001. The first hour of satellite tv I watched consisted of the Eternal Word Television Network and Food Network. :) I believe the first FN (Food Network) show I tuned into was The Best Of, which was about two hosts visiting the best restaurants in the U.S. and neighboring countries that all had a similar theme. The Best Of didn't become my favorite show but the channel certainly included many programs that caught my interest and I am still an avid watcher to this day.

I am bringing up FN because I am a bit disappointed in seeing what they have been neglecting for so many years in their program lineup. And it is this: where is the mention of gardening, farmers, and learning the true basics of cooking? I don't know if I just happen to never tune in at the right time or what, but I've never to this day seen a chef on there tell you how to bake bread, can fruits/vegetables, or really take time out and explain the ingredients being used or thoroughly showing the cooking technique. Almost every time I watch a show I feel like I am getting 80% of the instructions and I usually end up going elsewhere to find the information I need.

I do really enjoy watching what FN has to offer but I would like to see less shows catering to the family who likes to throw parties and entertain and follow up with recipes and information that are directed to a novice chef that is learning the basics. And that includes choosing normal ingredients! I also would like to see a chef going out into the garden or farm field and showing a bit of garden know how.

After having seen all five seasons of The Next Food Network Star, I do hope there will be someone in season six that will bring these two food perspectives to the table! And by the way, I am still sad over not having Jeffrey and Melissa not getting each a show on FN. I like Melissa and all, but I think both deserved the winning title! :)

The Conclusion

Remember a few weeks back I posted a picture and brief description of my "Mystery Dish"? Well, I am now able to give you the conclusion. The dish's name is Roasted Summer Squash with Parmesan, Tomato, and Bacon Topping and it happens to be my original recipe that me and my family put together last month. The recipe was prepared, typed up, and sent to the Better Homes and Garden Recipe Contest. That is why I wanted to keep everything under wraps until I submitted my entry. I still am not able to give you the full recipe but you can well imagine the flavors and ingredient choices from the title!

Here are a couple more photos of, I hope, the WINNING RECIPE! :)

August Means Fresh Peaches!

8/20/09: Fresh Peach Pie

On Thursday, August 20th, I made two peach pies that were full of fresh, Red Haven peaches, straight from our peach trees. They were scrumptious! Here is the recipe I used:

Fresh Peach Pie

2 pounds peaches, peeled and sliced
3/4 - 1 cup granulated sugar(depends on how sweet you like your pie)
3 tablespoons cornstarch diluted with 1/4 cup water
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Prepare glaze by mixing sugar, cornstarch mixture, salt and almond extract in a pot. Cook until thick and clear, stirring constantly. After mixture comes to a boil, cook a few minutes more. Pour hot glaze over peaches, mix gently and allow to cool.

While peaches are cooling, prepare favorite pie crust recipe (ours is below) and prepare pie plate with bottom crust. Add peaches. Top peaches with remaining crust. Cut slits into top crust before baking to allow steam to escape.

Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 35-45 minutes or until crust is nicely browned.


2 ½ cups all-purpose flour -- sifted
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup shortening (we use butter flavored Crisco)
7 tablespoons cold milk (about)

Sift together dry ingredients and with pastry blender, cut in shortening until mixture looks like coarse meal. Add enough milk until dough appears moist but not wet. Try not to use more than 7 tablespoons unless necessary to hold dough together. Turn dough out and knead for a few seconds to hold mixture together. Handle as little as possible. Roll out using your favorite technique.


I had some trouble getting the glaze to the right consistency, so much so, that I had to make two batches. My first attempt was a failure: the glaze came out hard and sticky. I most likely cooked it for too long because I kept on waiting until the glaze was clear. My tip is NOT to worry about a clear glaze but just wait until it comes to a boil. Once it does, take it off the heat and pour it over the peaches. It may appear too runny/watery, but that's OK, it will thicken as it cools. When the peach pies came out of the oven and we cut into them a few hours later, the peach filling wasn't runny at all!

What I made for Sunday, August 23rd, will soon be posted, so just sit tight.:)

Get Your Fill of Dill

After having grown this herb on my family's farm for as long as I can remember, it is funny to say that I don't know much about it. So after having a dozen or so dill related questions pop into my mind this farming season, I decided to finally read up on how to use dill in cooking.

We planted a dill variety called Bouquet and it went through three stages so far:

Dill weed stage. (This is before the dill plant has produced a "head".)

Flowering dill stage. (This is when the plant forms a head similar to the Queen Anne's Lace flower.)

Dill seed stage. (When the plant's leaves begin to turn yellow and the head contains brown seeds.)

What is really interesting about dill is that you can use it in cooking during its entire growing process, from the time it bears its first leaves to when it has mature, brown seeds. Pretty neat, huh? But beware that each stage has a different amount of dill flavor. Look at the dill weed as an herb and the dill seed as a spice, for those seeds back a punch!

The dill weed is commonly used in lighter dishes like fish, egg salad, and the like, while the dill flower and seed are used in pickling and flavoring meats. For you picklers out there, yes, you can place the flowering dill heads into your canning jars. The flowering dill lightly permeates the vinegar so it isn't as overpowering as the dill seed heads!

Dill is very easy to grow and as I just found out: easy to reseed! When the dill heads are mature and have brown seeds, all you need to do is shake them into a paper envelope or bag and store them until the next planting. And if you plant them every two weeks during the growing season you can have this herb on hand all summer long. (Which is a good thing because dill goes wonderfully with many vegetables.) If you want to learn more about this herb, check out this website.

So as you can see, dill has many uses in the culinary world. But I shouldn't forget to mention that they look wonderful in the garden and in flower arrangements!

Photo credits: 1: hawthornfarm.ca / 2: howstuffworks.com /3. coffeepot.wordpress.com

A Mix That Can't Be Fixed

8/09/09: The ingredients of Saturday night were:

And as they blended together during most of the night the final dish was a total blackout.

So, yeah, we had some strong thunder storms pass through and we lost power. And since we didn't have electricity half of Sunday, I wasn't able to cook up something for supper. :( Nonetheless, I have figured out something really delicious and will try again two Sundays from now. (Since my sister's birthday is next week.) I'm crossing my fingers, hoping that the weekend after this one will be calm, sunny, and DRY. :)

photo credits: rain and lightning.

Need Some Ideas

8/02/09--I didn't do any cooking last Sunday but my sister made a bunch of cookies! They shall be eaten as snacks when the family is doing farm work. I had one when she pulled them right out of the oven and it was wonderful. Thumbs up sis!

I would like to cook something this Sunday (especially with the cornucopia of veggies that we have right now), but I'm not sure what I should shoot for. Sigh. Figuring out what to prepare is the hardest thing about cooking I must say! The forecast for this weekend is hot, hot, hot and so I have to plan for something that is quick, easy, and doesn't require much stove or oven time.

I'll try to figure out something. If anyone has an idea or suggestion, please leave a comment! Will appreciate it!