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Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts

February 21, 2015

 

 

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Who doesn’t like (love) Kung Pao Chicken? How about a twist on your favorite Chinese take-out? Just add Brussels Sprouts to your Asian pantry staples…I hope by now you all have the ingredients on hand. Roast these seasonal beauties until they are firm but crisp and then toss into the sweet and spicy sauce for a dish that is layered with flavor. For a vegetarian option, I serve this dish with brown rice topped with roasted peanuts. If you want to add a protein, chicken or salmon is a nice complement.

Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts

Serves 6

2 pounds Brussels sprouts, halved
5 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled ginger
2 tablespoons hot chili paste (sambal oelek)
6 dried chiles de árbol, lightly crushed ( I omitted these)
½ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons rice vinegar, unseasoned
⅓ cup unsalted, roasted peanuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 425°. Toss Brussels sprouts and 4 Tbsp. oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast, tossing once, until softened (but not soft) and browned, 20–25 minutes. Set aside.

Mix cornstarch and 1 Tbsp. water in a small bowl until smooth.

Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring often, until garlic is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add chili paste and cook, stirring, until darkened, about 2 minutes. Add chiles, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, and ½ cup water and bring to a boil; stir in cornstarch slurry. Simmer, stirring, until sauce coats spoon, about 2 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Toss Brussels sprouts with sauce and serve topped with peanuts.
Adapted from: Bon Appetit

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Scallops With Brussels Sprouts And Pancetta

February 14, 2015

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It’s Valentines Day and you are NOT paying 2x for dinner “out.” This entree, along with a nice bottle of champagne and strawberries, will make for a very special evening at home. With only a handful of ingredients, this meal takes about 20 minutes…all in!! Brussels Sprouts are well accented by crisp pancetta, shallots, and garlic…a perfect accompaniment to the sweet, tender scallops. Drizzle with a light, lemony sauce for a perfect finish. All you procrastinators….you’re welcome!! For a quick and impressive sweet ending I suggest Balsamic Strawberries with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. See recipe below.

Scallops With Brussels Sprouts

Serves 2     OR  1 scallop each for an appetizer course

1/4 cup crème fraîche

1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon snipped chives

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

6 jumbo scallops (about 3/4 pound)

6 thin slices pancetta (about 2 ounces)

1/2 pound Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced

1 shallot, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 garlic clove, minced

In a small bowl, whisk the crème fraîche with the finely grated lemon zest, fresh lemon juice, snipped chives and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season the lemon-chive crème fraîche with salt and pepper.

In a medium skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering. Generously season the scallops with salt and pepper and add them to the skillet. Cook the scallops over moderately high heat, turning once, until they are golden and just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the scallops to a plate; tent with aluminum foil to keep warm.

Or cook the scallops until caramelized, the Thomas Keller way!

Meanwhile, in another medium skillet, cook the pancetta over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned and crisp, about 4 minutes. Add the Brussels sprouts and shallot and cook, stirring, until the Brussels sprouts are softened but still bright green, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the butter and garlic and season with salt and pepper; transfer to plates and top with the scallops. Serve with the lemon-chive crème fraîche.

This dish would also work well for a first course appetizer.

Inspiration from: Maureen

Recipe Adapted from: Food And Wine

Balsamic Strawberries

Serves 2

1 pint (about 2 cups) fresh strawberries, sliced thick, note the heart shape!
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablespoon sugar
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
Vanilla ice cream, for serving
Freshly grated lemon zest, for serving

Thirty minutes to an hour before serving, combine the strawberries, balsamic vinegar, sugar, and pepper in a bowl. Set aside at room temperature.

Place a serving of the strawberries in a bowl with a scoop of ice cream on top and dust lightly with lemon zest.

Recipe adapted from: Ina Garten

 

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Momofuku Crack Pie

February 8, 2015

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I needed a gesture of thanks…and a BIG one for our awesome neighbors, the Koz family!! We were stranded in Dallas while Chicago was getting pummeled by another storm of the century. They shoveled our driveway that had drifts up to three feet. I knew a sweet treat would be appreciated. And sweet it is!!! This pie is the creation of Christina Tosi, pastry chef at the acclaimed Momofuku Milk Bar (NYC). This infamous pie has a cult following and is as addictive as the name suggests. Although the recipe has lots of steps, it does not require much skill. The result…rich, gooey, chewy, salty, butter-scotchy…………ridiculousness!!!

Momofuku Milk Bar Crack Pie

Two (10-inch) pies      (and that’s a GOOD thing)

Ingredients

For the Oat Cookie:
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
⅓ cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
½ cup bread flour
1½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
½ teaspoon kosher salt
⅛ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of baking soda

Crust
1 recipe Oat Cookie (above)
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted

Pie Filling
1½ cups granulated sugar
¾ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup dry milk powder
¼ cup cornstarch
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
¾ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
8 egg yolks

Directions

1. Make the Oat Cookie: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until fluffy and pale yellow. Scrape the sides of the bowl and, on low-speed, at the egg yolk and increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 1 to 2 minutes, until the mixture is pale white.

3. Again, scrape down the sides of the bowl and, on low-speed, add the flour, oats, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Mix until the dough comes together and there are no remnants of dry ingredients, about 1 minute.

4. Turn the dough out onto the prepared baking sheet and, using an offset spatula, spread to a ¼-inch thickness (it won’t take up the entire sheet). Bake for 15 minutes, or until the middle of the cookie is puffed, but the edges are firmly set. (This will ensure it crumbles like sand.) Cool completely before using.

5. Make the Crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, break up the oat cookie into small crumbs resembling wet sand. Add the brown sugar and salt and stir to combine. Add the butter and use a rubber spatula to stir and press the mixture against the sides of the bowl until a cohesive mass forms. If the crust is not moist enough to form a cohesive mass, melt an additional 1 to 1½ tablespoons of butter and mix in as before.

6. Divide the oat cookie crust between two pie plates and press firmly into the pie plates, making sure that the bottom and sides are evenly covered. (If not using immediately, the pie shells can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.)

7. Make the Pie Filling: Combine the sugar, brown sugar, milk powder, cornstarch and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low-speed until evenly blended. Add the melted butter and mix for 2 to 3 minutes, until all of the dry ingredients are moist. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the heavy cream and vanilla, then continue to mix on low-speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until no white streaks remain. Add the egg yolks and mix on low-speed just long enough to combine, until the mixture is glossy, but do not over mix! (If not using immediately, the filling can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 1 week.)

8. Bake the Pie: Place the prepared pie plates on a sheet pan. Divide the filling evenly between the pie crusts; the filling should only fill the plates about ¾ of the way full. Bake for 15 minutes, until the pies are golden brown on top but still very jiggly.

9. Open the oven door and reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Leave the pies in the oven and the oven door open until the temperature reaches 325 degrees. Once it does, close the oven door and bake for 5 to 10 minutes longer, until the pies are jiggly in the very center, but set around the outer edges.

10. Remove the pies from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool to room temperature. Freeze the pies for at least 3 hours or overnight (this step condenses the filling and is a required step). Transfer the pies from the freezer to the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving. (If not using immediately, the pies can be wrapped in plastic wrap and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.)

11. Just prior to serving, dust the pie with powdered sugar. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. I suggest serving with whip cream…without any added sugar.

Recipe from: Momofuku Milk Bar

For another Momofuku recipe try….Banana Creme Pie Shooters

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Potstickers

January 29, 2015
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Homemade potstickers may seem intimidating but they are actually easy and fun to make. These dumplings fry and steam at the same time, leaving them soft and crispy. The deliciousness of the ingredients…ginger, garlic, sesame oil, water chestnuts and soy are suited for a meat or meatless option. Customize your dumpling to your liking. You can make ahead and freeze…just perfect for those game day get-togethers!! More game day  ideas…Asian Meatballs, Lettuce Wraps, or Reuben Sliders.

Potstickers

Makes 30

2 cups Napa Cabbage, chopped (I omitted this)

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus 1/8 teaspoon for seasoning

1/3 pound ground pork OR ground chicken

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced (from 1/2-inch knob)

1 small carrot, coarsely shredded (about 2 tablespoons)

1 tablespoon minced cilantro

2 scallions, thinly sliced (about 1/4 cup)

2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 teaspoons Asian  sesame oil

1/2 egg, lightly beaten (Note: 1/2 egg!)

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

30 gyoza (pot sticker) wrappers

1/4 cup canola oil

Dipping Sauce

2 tablespoons sambal

1/2 cup rice wine vinegar

1/2 cup soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

I omitted this step…..In large bowl, (toss together cabbage, I omitted) and 3/4 teaspoon salt and set aside for 30 minutes. Transfer to clean dish towel or cheesecloth, gather ends together, and twist to squeeze out as much water as possible. Wipe bowl clean, then return cabbage to it.

Add pork, ginger, carrots, scallions, and garlic and stir to combine.

In small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, sesame oil, and 1/2 egg, then stir into cabbage-pork mixture. Stir in pepper and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt.

On dry surface, lay out 1 gyoza wrapper, keeping remaining wrappers covered with dampened cloth or paper towel. Spoon 1 1/2 teaspoons filling into center, then moisten halfway around edge with wet finger. Fold moisture-free half of wrapper over moistened half to form open half-moon shape. To seal, using thumb and forefinger of one hand, form 4-6 tiny pleats along unmoistened edge of wrapper, pressing pleats against moistened border to enclose filling. Moistened border will stay smooth and will automatically curve in semicircle. Stand dumpling, seam-side up, on baking sheet and gently press to flatten bottom. Cover loosely with dampened cloth or paper towel. Form remaining dumplings in same manner. This video will help you with pleating the dumplings.

In 10-inch, lidded, non-stick skillet over moderately high heat, heat oil until hot but not smoking, then remove from heat and arrange pot stickers in tight circular pattern standing up in oil (they should touch one another). Cook, uncovered, until bottoms are pale golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Be careful with this next step!! (Have top covering pan and quickly pour water…the oil will splatter!) Add 1/2 cup water, tilting skillet to distribute, then cover tightly with lid and cook until liquid has evaporated and bottoms of dumplings are crisp and golden, 7 to 10 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons more water if skillet looks dry before bottoms are browned. Remove lid and cook, shaking skillet to loosen pot stickers, until steam dissipates, 1 to 2 minutes. Seve pot stickers warm.

For dipping sauce, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and serve.

To freeze, place potstickers on a baking sheet and freeze. Once frozen you can place them all together in a freezer bag or container. To reheat add frozen potstickers to hot oil and continue with the steps above.

Adapted from: Ming Tsai

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Cauliflower and Caramelized Onion Tart

January 24, 2015

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Cauliflower seems to be getting a bit more love lately….as it should. This cruciferous vegetable boosts antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, cardiovascular and digestive support. Roasting cauliflower turns the slightly bitter flavor to sweet and nutty. Healthy and yummy. NOW add sweet caramelized onions, a cheesy custard, a bit of dijon and you have a rich, decadent, stand-alone dinner entree, a perfect brunch item or an addition to a holiday buffet. A bit of a splurge I know but there are occasions people!

Cauliflower and Caramelized Onion Tart

Serves 8

1 small head of cauliflower (about 1 pound)
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon truffle oil or a few pinches of truffle salt (optional, I did not add)
1 refrigerated pie crust or a homemade tart shell (recipe below)
1 large onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 large eggs
1  8- ounce container mascarpone cheese (see Note below for suggested substitutions)
1/2 cup whipping cream (I used whole milk)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 cup grated Gruyère cheese (you could sub: Swiss or Comté)
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

Position rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 425°F. Toss cauliflower with 2 tablespoons olive oil in large bowl. Spread on rimmed baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast 15 minutes before turning florets over and roasting until brown and tender, another 15 minutes. Cool cauliflower then thinly slice and drizzle with truffle oil or sprinkle with truffle salt, if using.  Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.

If using store-bought pie crust, press it onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Line crust with foil, fill with pie weights and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil and weights then bake until crust is golden, about 5 additionally minutes. Press crust back with the back of a fork if bubbles form. Cool crust and maintain oven temperature.

Heat remaining 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook until onion is a deep golden brown, stirring occasionally. Approximately 30 minutes. Cool slightly.

Using a knife or brush spread the bottom and sides of crust with mustard. Spread onion over crust. Arrange cauliflower over the onion. Set the tart on a rimmed baking sheet. Whisk eggs, mascarpone, cream (or milk) and pepper in a medium bowl. Stir in Gruyère. Pour mixture over filling in tart pan, sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake until tart is golden and center is set, about 40 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool 15 minutes before serving.

Do ahead: Onions can be caramelized, dough can be par-baked (or rolled and pressed into pan, if homemade) and cauliflower can be roasted a day ahead. Store a par-baked crust at room temperature, a rolled-out unbaked crust and cauliflower and onion in the fridge. Keep cauliflower and onion should in separate containers. The whole tart can be made and baked a day in advance, reheated in a low oven before serving.

Adapted from Bon Appetit/ Smitten Kitchen

A Savory Tart Shell

Adapted from Le Pain Quotidien

1 1/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, diced
1 egg

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch and one-fourth teaspoon salt. Cut the butter in with a pastry blender, fork or two knives until it is in very tiny bits. Add one egg and mix with a fork until a dough forms. If this does not happen easily, toss it out onto a counter and knead it together. This dough is rather tough but with a little elbow grease, it does come together nicely. (I made this dough TWICE!! In a food processor the dough was too hard to handle and roll out…I recommend by hand with a fork).

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a 12-inch circle. Place the dough in a 9-inch pie plate or tart pan and press to remove any air bubbles. Crimp the edges, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Proceed with your filling, no par-baking required.

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Salad Nicoise with Seared Tuna

January 18, 2015

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January. A fresh start. This healthy, protein packed salad from Provence, a staple in bistros all over France, may just be the entree to add to your weekday repertoire. In the traditional recipe according to Jacques Medecin, an authority on Provencal cuisine, “Never include boiled potato or any other boiled vegetable in your Nicoise. The only cooked ingredient should be eggs to be a authentic Nicoise”. My version goes like this. While high quality canned tuna is standard in French Bistros….I choose fresh (not a fan of the can!). Baked salmon is a smart alternative to tuna. I also include lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, anchovies, olives and eggs. This is really just a starting point….be creative with your veggies. This French vinaigrette ties these components together beautifully. You typically find this salad on summer menus, however, the ingredients can be found fresh year round (O.K. maybe not tomatoes) so you can enjoy this satisfying meal all seasons!!

Salad Nicoise

Serves 8          (pictured, serves 2-3)

Dressing
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon
Sea salt and ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salad
1 pound small red new potatoes, scrubbed and halved
8 large eggs
1/2 pound haricots verts or French green beans, stems trimmed
2 pounds fresh sushi-quality tuna
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup nicoise olives
16 anchovy fillets
16 caper berries with stems or 2 tablespoons capers
1/2 bunch fresh chives, snipped in 1/2

Dressing: Combine all ingredients in a jar or processor. Shake the vinaigrette to emulsify or blend together in your processor. Set the dressing aside while preparing the salad.

Place the potatoes in a large saucepan, add water to cover and a pinch of salt; bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer the potatoes for approximately 20 minutes or until fork tender. Place a steamer basket or colander on top of simmering water. Put the green beans in the steamer and cover with a lid. Steam the beans for 5 minutes until crisp-tender. Rinse the beans under cold water to stop the cooking. Make hard-boiled eggs. Peel the shells off the hard-boiled eggs and cut them in 1/2 lengthwise.

Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Rub the tuna on all sides with olive oil, and a bit of the dressing; season salt and pepper. Lay the tuna in the hot pan and sear for approximately 1-2 minutes on each side; as the tuna cooks, the red meat will become whiter. Transfer the tuna to a cutting board and slice.

To assemble the salad: combine the potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, olives, anchovies, capers, and chives in a large mixing bowl. Take the vinaigrette and give it another good shake to recombine. Drizzle the salad with dressing and toss gently to coat; season with salt and pepper. Toss carefully. Put the tossed salad down the center of a serving platter and lay the seared tuna attractively across the top and the eggs around the rim. Drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette and serve.

Adapted from   Tyler Florence


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Pear And Fennel Salad

January 13, 2015
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Fennel and pear are wonderful partners and combine beautifully to create this winter-time salad. The paper-thin fennel with a subtle, slightly sweet anise flavor, the bright peppery arugula and the crisp pear make this a perfect side for your comfy entree (braised beef shank?). The immune boosting fennel is a great source of vitamin A, potassium, iron and aids in digestion. Pears are an excellent source of fiber and plenty of vitamin C. Add the nutritional power house, baby spinach, and you have a healthy and delicious salad!
Pear And Fennel Salad
Serves 4-6
2 ripe pears, sliced about ⅛ inch thick
1 small fennel bulb, if you are prepping with a knife try your best to slice very thin (I used a mandolin)
Lemon, a squeeze
Arugula or baby spinach (I used both)
¼ cup toasted walnuts
¼ cup crumbled blue cheese
Mint leaves, a few to garnish
Dressing:
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon honey
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper
Thinly slice fennel into a small bowl. Drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil, a small squeeze of lemon, and some salt. Toss and set aside. (this process tenderizes the fennel a bit).
Whisk together the dressing ingredients, taste and adjust seasoning. Set aside.
In a larger bowl, toss together the pears, arugula, fennel, most of the blue cheese, and most of the walnuts. Dress the salad, be careful not to overdress! Taste and adjust seasonings again. Assemble on a platter and top with the remaining cheese, walnuts, and mint leaves. Serve.
Adapted from: Love And Lemons
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French Onion Grilled Cheese Sandwich

January 4, 2015

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Grilled cheese is perfect anytime, but with our first measurable snowfall and a lazy Sunday, grilled cheese seems like a perfect meal. There are so many creative combinations for this ultimate comfort food. With grilled cheese being soup’s best friend …let’s combine the two with this French Onion Grilled Cheese Sandwich. The nutty, sweet Gruyere pairs perfectly with the caramelized onion. I promise this gooey, savory sandwich will be one of your favorites. Other clever ideas….brie, pear and prosciuttobacon jam, tomato and cheddar…goat cheese and roasted red pepper.

French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Makes 2
1 large yellow onion- thinly sliced
1 tablespoon oil
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup sherry or beef stock
4 slices hearty Bread ( I used French)
2 tablespoons butter ( or 1 tablespoon butter 1 tablespoon oil)
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1 teaspoon fresh thyme

In a large skillet,  heat oil on medium heat. Add onion and saute for 5 minutes, stirring to coat. Turn heat down to medium low. Stir occasionally and continue sauteing for about 30 minutes, until the onions caramelize and turn golden brown. Add a pinch of salt, sherry or stock and let the liquid cook off. Remove from pan onions from the pan. 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spread outer  slices of  bread with softened butter. On two slices, divide and layer shredded Gruyere, top with caramelized onions, sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves, then add the rest of the cheese. Top with the other slice of bread, press together.
Heat 2 butter (or a combination of butter and oil) in the same skillet over medium heat. Place sandwiches in the pan and toast, carefully flipping when golden brown and cheese begins to melt. Place in oven to fully melt the cheese.
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Spaghetti Squash and Italian Sausage

December 29, 2014

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It’s hard for me to believe this was the first time I’ve made spaghetti squash. I’m a lover of the butternut and I’m a lover of the acorn and now you can add spaghetti to the list. It’s one of the easiest vegetables to create a tasty, simple weeknight meal. This little recipe has a sweet Italian flavor with a bit of a kick. Add your favorite chicken, turkey or Italian sausage. For another healthy alternative, toss with shredded kale, olive oil, garlic, parmesan cheese and a splash of lemon juice.

Spaghetti Squash and Italian Sausage

Serves 4
1 small spaghetti squash (about 2 pounds)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 hot Italian sausage (pork, chicken or turkey)
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Split the squashes in half and scrape out seeds. Line an oven tray with aluminum foil. Season the spaghetti squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place flesh side down and roast for 30 to 40 minutes until fully cooked. Remove from the oven and let rest until cool enough to handle.

When squash is cool enough to handle, using a large kitchen spoon scrape the strands of squash from the inside of the skin.

Meanwhile, heat a grill pan over medium heat. Grill the sausages, turning, until cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper, onion and 1 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until the vegetables begin to brown, about 4 more minutes. Toss in the squash and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Serve with the sausages and sprinkle with parmesan.

Adapted from:  Food Network

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Salted Butter Caramel-Chocolate Mousse

December 21, 2014

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I’m in planning mode for Christmas Eve dinner. I love the idea of a rich chocolate dessert to put that exclamation point on the evening. On past Eve’s we’ve closed with Creme Brulee, Strawberry Panna Cotta, Chocolate Almond Torte, Chocolate Lava Cake…BUT this finale will take the cake. Salted Butter Caramel-Chocolate Mousse. Very few ingredients, so make sure all steps are ready to go…. and smooth sailing. Watch carefully as the sugar melts and transforms itself into a smokey, amber caramel (it can go from slightly smokey to burnt quickly). Then just add butter, chocolate, let cool and finish the recipe. The result…a rich, fluffy, decadent dessert. The remainder of the menu is shaping up like this: shrimp cocktail, marinated, seared tuna bites as appetizers (thank you Diamond Seafood), Shredded Sprout and Kale Salad and Lobster Risotto. After reading this to Randy….he fainted!

Salted Butter Caramel-Chocolate Mousse

Serves 4 (large) -6

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed

3/4 cup heavy cream

6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

4 large eggs, separated

1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt, preferably fleur de sel

Garnish: shaved chocolate or crumbled toffee.

Evenly place the sugar in a wide saucepan. Heat over medium heat. As it begins to liquefy at the edges, use a heatproof spatula to gently drag the liquefied sugar toward the center. Careful here….sugar will caramelize quickly….don’t let it burn.  Continue cooking, stirring gently, until the sugar is melted and caramelized. Continue cooking until the caramel is a deep amber color and has a slight burnt smell.

Remove the caramel from the heat and quickly whisk in the butter pieces, stirring until melted. Gradually whisk in the cream, stirring until caramel and creme are blended.

Once smooth, stir in the chocolate until it is melted and the mixture is smooth. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.

Once the mixture is cooled, whisk in the egg yolks. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites to stiff peaks.

Fold 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the chocolate, adding in the flaky salt. Fold in the remaining whipped egg whites until no white streaks remain. Divide the mousse into serving glasses or a decorative serving bowl, and chill for at least 8 hours. Serve chilled with a dollop of unsweetened whipped creme. The creme cuts the richness of the mousse beautifully.

Garnish with shaved chocolate or crumbled toffee (as shown).

Adapted from: WhiteonRiceCouple   Originally from David Lebovitz ” My Paris Kitchen”
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Breakfast Pizza With Gruyere, Baked Eggs, Spinach and Bacon

December 13, 2014

 

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I’m sooo over “the putting a fried egg” on everything!!!  However, eggs on a breakfast pizza makes sense. The original recipe did not include spinach…I like the idea of adding this veggie with Gruyere. Although a successful dish, with my next attempt I will roll the dough free form on a baking sheet with edges slightly turned up to capture all the yummy toppings. The eggs seem to become somewhat free form as they settle into the crevices. Ohhhh…. and the doughy crust is the perfect way to sop up all the delicious cheese and egg.

Breakfast Pizza With Gruyere Cheese, Baked Eggs, Spinach, And Bacon

Serves 4

Crust  (or store-bought)

2 cups flour

¼ teaspoon salt

1 egg

2 tablespoons melted butter

1 tablespoon cold water

1 tablespoon chopped chives

Pizza

¼ cup Crème fraîche, or Greek yogurt

1/2 cup shredded Gruyère cheese

1/4 cup spinach, (chopped, frozen) thaw and squeeze out all liquid

7 bacon slices, cooked until almost crisp (they will continue to cook in the oven)

4 eggs

fresh chives

salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Mix the dough ingredients in a stand mixer until the a soft dough comes together in a ball. Press the dough into a tart pan, then bake the crust for 10 minutes. Or buy pre-made pizza dough. (and bake for 10 minutes)

Mix the Crème fraîche, Gruyère and spinach in a bowl and add a dash of salt and pepper.

Spread the cheese mixture in the bottom of the baked tart shell and then layer the bacon on top.

Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees.

Bake the tart for 5-7 minutes to melt the cheese, then remove it and carefully crack the eggs on top.

Return it to the oven and bake it for another 7-10 minutes, until the egg whites are set and the yolks are still soft. If you prefer more well-done yolks, leave the tart in the oven for 2-3 minutes more. The whites will look slightly underdone due to the oils from the cheese, but they will be set.

Garnish with chives and serve immediately.

Adapted from: Against All Grain

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Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

December 8, 2014
MAKE AHEAD The chicken soup can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Reheat gently before serving.
Adapted from: Food and Wine/Amanda Johnson
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“ShreddedSprout” and Kale Salad

December 3, 2014

 

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This salad may become your go-to during the winter months. It is mine. Hearty, healthy greens in their natural state are the base for this delicious simple meal or side dish. The raw, thinly sliced Brussels sprouts add a nice crunch and stand up well to the bright, citrusy dressing. Add pomegranates to dress it up for the holidays. You can prepare this salad about 30 minutes prior to serving as the kale will soften a bit. DO NOT skip the sauteed almonds…they make the salad!!

 ShreddedSprout and Kale Salad
Serves 6-8
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 small garlic clove, finely grated
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for seasoning
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large bunches of Tuscan kale (about 1 1/2 pounds total), center stem discarded, leaves thinly sliced
12 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed, finely shredded with a knife or mandolin
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/3 cup almonds with skins, coarsely chopped (I used slivered with skins on)
1 cup finely grated Pecorino cheese
Pomegranate seeds
Combine lemon juice, Dijon mustard, shallot, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper in a small bowl. Stir to blend; set aside to let flavors meld. Mix thinly sliced kale and shredded Brussels sprouts in a large bowl.

Measure 1/2 cup oil into a cup. Spoon 1 tablespoon oil from cup into a small skillet; heat oil over medium-high heat. Add almonds to skillet and stir frequently until golden brown in spots, about 2 minutes. Transfer nuts to a paper towel–lined plate. Sprinkle almonds lightly with salt.

Slowly whisk remaining olive oil in cup into lemon-juice mixture. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Dressing, kale mixture, and toasted almonds can be prepared 8 hours ahead. Cover dressing and kale mixture separately and chill. Cover almonds and let stand at room temperature.

Add dressing and cheese to kale mixture; toss to coat. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Garnish with almonds and pomegranates.

Adapted from Epicurious

 

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Creamy Parsnip Soup

November 21, 2014

 

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It’s the season of tubers and root vegetables. Parsnips, with their unique rustic flavor, tend to be an under appreciated vegetable. Combining this ivory-colored root veggie with celery, onion, and garlic creates a savory, creamy and slightly sweet soup. Packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and phyto-nutrients, this soup delivers added health benefits as we head into the chilly months ahead.

Creamy Parsnip Soup 

Serves 8-10

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 garlic cloves, smashed

2 tablespoons thyme, minced

2 1/2 pounds of parsnips, peeled and cut into 2 chunks

4 cups  low-sodium chicken broth

4 cups water

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup milk (if needed)

2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips

Thyme sprigs, for garnish

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

In a large pot, melt the butter in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the onion and celery cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add butter, garlic and parsnips cook for about 4 minutes. Add salt, pepper and thyme. Add the broth and water and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer over low heat until the parsnips are tender, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the prosciutto and cook over moderately high heat, tossing, until crisp, about 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the prosciutto to a paper towel–lined plate to drain. Or alternatively, place on a baking sheet and broil for approximately 2 minute until slightly crisp, about 2 minutes.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until very smooth. Transfer the soup to a  saucepan. Stir in the cream (and milk, if needed), bring to a simmer over moderate heat, stirring a few times. Season the soup with salt and pepper. Serve. Garnish with the prosciutto and thyme leaves.

Adapted from: Food and Wine

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White Chicken Chili

November 15, 2014

 

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A Hearty White Chicken Chili with a spicy kick! You can never have too many chili recipes in your arsenal when the temps start to drop. This comforting one-pot meal cooks in under an hour and you have a chili that tastes like it’s been cooking all day. The beauty of a chili, soup or stew is that you can improvise with whatever you have in your pantry. Corn, chopped green chilies and avocados are just a few extras you can add to make it your own.

White Chicken Chili

Serves 4-6

2 (14.5-ounce) cans white beans
1 tablespoon canola oil or olive oil
1 medium jalapeno pepper, minced
2 medium poblano peppers, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 limes, juiced, plus lime wedges, for serving
1 rotisserie chicken, skin removed and meat shredded
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
Sour cream, for topping
Tortilla chips, coarsely crushed, for topping

Drain and rinse the canned white beans. In a medium bowl, mash half of the beans with a potato masher until chunky. Reserve.

Add the canola oil to a large Dutch oven and heat it over medium-high heat. Add the peppers, onions, and garlic and saute until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Season the vegetables with salt, and pepper, to taste. Add the cumin, coriander, and chili powder and continue to saute for 1 more minute to toast the spices. Stir in the chicken stock, and lime juice and bring to a simmer. Add the beans and continue to simmer for 20 more minutes.

After 20 minutes of simmering, taste for seasoning. (I added more cumin and chili powder for more of a kick). Stir in the shredded rotisserie chicken and cilantro and simmer until heated through, about 5 more minutes. Serve the chili in individual bowls topped with a dollop of sour cream, crushed tortilla chips, and lime wedges.

Adapted from The Neelys

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Pumpkin Creme Brulee

November 10, 2014

 

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Do not let this elegant seasonal dessert intimidate you…….it’s easy! Amazing how just a few ingredients can create a dessert that will be your show stopper this holiday. It has the earthiness of the pumpkin, warm notes from the cinnamon and a crunch from the rustic burnt topping. Make it the day before and caramelize the top before serving.

Pumpkin Creme Brulee

Serves 8

2 cups heavy cream

1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar, plus 4 teaspoons
8 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 cup mashed cooked pumpkin or canned pumpkin

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees

Arrange 8 (1/2-cup) ramekins or custard cups on a large metal baking pan.

In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until frothy and lemon-colored. Slowly add 3/4 cup of the hot cream mixture, whisking constantly. Add the egg mixture to the remaining hot cream, and whisk. Add the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin, and whisk until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Divide among the cups.

Add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Bake until the custards are just set in the center but not stiff, 45 minutes to 55 minutes. Remove from the oven and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours or overnight.

Sprinkle each custard with 1/2 teaspoon of the remaining sugar. Using a kitchen torch, caramelize the sugar. (Or preheat the broiler, and broil until the sugar melts and caramelizes, watching closely to avoid burning and rotating the cups, about 1 to 2 minutes.) DO NOT refrigerate after the tops have been caramelized. Garnish with spiced walnuts or whip creme.

Recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse

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Polenta with Sauteed Mushrooms

November 1, 2014

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This hearty vegetarian dish pairs rich, creamy polenta with a luscious topping of sautéed mushrooms. The Taleggio cheese adds a nutty layer of flavor that marries the earthiness of the mushrooms perfectly. For an entrée, we paired this with a crisp green salad, some crusty bread and an earthy red wine.

 Polenta with Sauteed Mushroom
2 servings  or 4 small sides
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups mixed mushrooms, large ones halved
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
1 tablespoon truffle oil (optional)
Salt and black pepper
2-1/4 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup polenta (instant or traditional)
3 ounces Parmesan, grated
2-1/2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped chervil
4 ounces Taleggio (rind removed), cut into 3/8-inch slices (soft, Italian cheese)
Heat half the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add half of the mushrooms and fry for a few minutes, or until just cooked; try not to move them much so you get golden brown patches on their surface. Remove from the pan, and repeat with the rest of the mushrooms and oil.
Off the heat, return all the mushrooms to the pan and add the garlic, tarragon, thyme, truffle oil and some salt and pepper. Keep warm.
Bring the stock to the boil in a saucepan. Slowly stir in the polenta, then reduce the heat to the minimum and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. The polenta is ready when it leaves the sides of the pan but is still runny. If you are using instant polenta this shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes; with traditional polenta it could take up to 50 minutes (if it seems to dry out, add some more stock or water but just enough to keep it at a thick porridge consistency).
Preheat broiler. When the polenta is ready, stir in the Parmesan, butter, rosemary and half the chervil. Season with salt and pepper. Spread the polenta over a heatproof dish and top with the Taleggio. Place under the broiler until the cheese bubbles. Remove, top with the mushrooms and their juices, and return to the broiler for a minute to warm.*This makes a nice side dish to accompany grilled meats.
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Wilted Greens With Bacon Jam

October 27, 2014

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Bacon jam. Sweet, savory, slightly smokey and a bit crunchy. This condiment is a game changer for a multitude of dishes. While I’m posting this to accompany greens (  Thanksgiving??) think of the possibilities…..ultimate grilled cheese, hamburgers, over brie, rosemary focaccia crostini, stuffed dates, quesadillas and on and on and on. While there are lots of versions of this jam out there, I chose this recipe for ease of ingredients. Other additions include coffee, maple syrup, paprika, garlic, etc…This version is quick and easy.

Holly Hill Inn’s Bacon Jam
Makes about 2 cups

1 lb. good-quality bacon, diced
1 1/2 cups diced onion
1/8 cup bourbon
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar (original recipe called for 1 cup)
1/4 cup whole-grain mustard

Cook bacon in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until a good amount of fat has rendered and bacon just starts to turn golden, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove bacon, set aside and leave only about 2 tablespoons of bacon grease in the pan. Add diced onion, turn the heat down to low, and cook together until onion is tender. Add the bacon, bourbon, vinegar, brown sugar, and mustard. Simmer until thick, (stirring occasionally) about 45 minutes to 1 hour or until liquid is evaporated. (You may choose to use a food processor at this point…pulse only a few times)  Refrigerate until ready to use. Can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or freeze.

Recipe from Ouita Michel

Wilted Greens with Bacon Jam

Serves 4-6

2 lbs. mixed young greens, such as mustard, chard, kale, and spinach
1/4 cup bacon jam 
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Optional garnishes: red onion, sliced boiled egg

Submerge greens in standing water, remove any large stems, and rip leaves into bite-size pieces if necessary. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high, add bacon jam, and melt. Add greens, turn heat to high, and toss until wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish as desired and serve immediately.

Recipe from Ouita Michel

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Orange Olives

October 19, 2014

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Eat like a Mediterranean and live longer. OR…I would just like to live longer IN the Mediterranean!! After returning from a visit to Italy, it is clear that the Mediterranean diet is working on those people!! The diet is varied containing nuts, legumes, olives, olive oil, fish, whole grains and red wine. Most of the diet came out of necessity… eating what’s in your backyard and the unaffordability of meat and cheese. The classic diet includes eating olives…..every day!! The benefits of consuming olives or olive oil everyday are huge… they contain valuable amounts of antioxidants and anti-inflamatory nutrients benefiting high blood pressure, cancer and arthritis. Randy and I consumed our fair share of olives over the last few weeks…from olive oil, marinated olives… ohhh and perhaps a martini or two. So….. upon my re-entry I am starting out slowly and while we still have visions of olive and lemon groves on the mind, here is an easy and healthy appetizer to share. Add some fresh parmesan cheese drizzled with aged balsamic and of course a glass of red wine! Godere!!

Orange Olives

Makes 1 pint jar

2 cups brine-cured olives

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon finely grated *orange zest

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon fennel seed

1/2 teaspoon white-wine vinegar

Drain olive and tumble into a bowl. Pour in warm water to cover. Soak 15 minutes. Drain. Pat dry.

Roll olives into a medium skillet along with oil, thyme, zest, garlic, and fennel seeds. Cook over medium-high heat until garlic turns fragrant, about 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in vinegar. Serve warm or cold.

* I originally made these with lemon zest….in keeping with the lemon groves we visited.  While tasty, I found the orange zest flavor was a better marriage.

Adapted from Bon Appetit

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“La Dolce Vita”

October 12, 2014

 

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While I’m gathering my thoughts, unpacking our bags and getting my camera repaired (ughhh) enjoy these pictures taken on a trip to beautiful Italy. A country known to the world as a “living art gallery” filled with art and architectural masterpieces, it’s a visit that should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Ahh…but let’s talk Italian cuisine; it’s simple, vibrant, subtle, delicious and diverse. There are many regional variations of cooking throughout Italy, but in general grain foods such as pasta, bread, rice, and polenta are mixed in a variety of interesting ways with vegetables, beans, fish, poultry, nuts, cheeses and meat. AND the wine…..with vineyards dotting the Tuscan landscape, we enjoyed Chianti Classico, Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese and many other varietals in a region where Chianti was born. Days filled with touring and ending with a beautiful meal will be forever etched in our memories of traveling to this breathtaking country.

As I get back into the swing of cooking, I will be mindful of my experience and hope to share a few culinary highlights on Shreddedsprout.

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Chicken Cacciatore

September 19, 2014

DSC_0851 Chicken Cacciatore is a classic Italian comfort food. Cooking this rustic style, hearty dish makes for a perfect meal transitioning into the cooler months. Cacciatore means hunter in Italian. Hunt for your favorite version of this dish by adding cremini mushrooms, olives, red wine or other tasty ingredients. I am following the Northern Italian style by adding red pepper, onion, capers and white wine. This recipe is a simple combinations of flavors and perfect for casual entertaining. Serve over polenta or your favorite pasta. Godetevi questo gustoso pasto!

Chicken Cacciatore

Serves 4

4 chicken thighs
2 chicken breasts with skin and backbone, halved crosswise
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 cup all purpose flour, for dredging
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 ( 28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons drained capers
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves

*This recipe freezes well…think of doubling and storing in freezer bags.

Sprinkle the chicken pieces with 1 teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour to coat lightly. In a large heavy saute pan, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and saute just until brown, about 5 minutes per side. If all the chicken does not fit in the pan, saute it in 2 batches. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside. Add the bell pepper, onion and garlic to the same pan and saute over medium heat until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, broth, capers and oregano. Return the chicken pieces to the pan and turn them to coat in the sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Continue simmering over medium-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through, about 30 minutes for the breast pieces, and 20 minutes for the thighs.

Transfer the chicken to a platter. If necessary, boil the sauce until it thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Spoon off any excess fat from atop the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, then sprinkle with basil and serve.

Adapted from Giada Laurentiis

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Sweet Corn Soup With Toasted Corn Guacamole

September 11, 2014

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Make this soup! A simple, delicious, fresh corn soup with a touch of southwest flavors. The Avocado Salsa has the perfect mix of sweet and savory, with the poblano’s giving it a nice kick. This comfy soup has a creamy texture and is loaded with fiber, antioxidants and minerals. Thanks to Barb, my Canadian girlfriend for the inspiration!

Sweet Corn Soup with Toasted Corn Guacamole
Serves 4
8 ears fresh sweet corn
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup shallots, chopped  (2 medium)
1 poblano pepper, roasted, skin removed and chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon lime peel
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon coarse pepper
1 avocado, chopped
1/2 cup queso fresco cheese, crumble
Using a sharp knife, cut the corn kernels off the cobs (should have about 4 cups). Set aside 3/4 cup of the corn for the guacamole. Set aside three of the corn cobs; discard remaining cobs.
In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the shallots, half of the poblano pepper, and half of the garlic. Cook and stir for 4 to 5 minutes or until shallots are tender. Remove from skillet and set aside.
Add 1 1/2 cups of the chicken broth and reserved corn cobs to the skillet. Bring to boiling, reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove corn cobs and discard, reserve broth in skillet.
Add the 3 1/4 cups corn kernels to the broth in the skillet. Bring to boiling, reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes or until corn is tender. Cool slightly. In a blender or food processor combine cooked corn and shallot mixture. Cover and blend or process until almost smooth. Return pureed mixture to the skillet. Slowly whisk in enough remaining broth to reach desired consistency,  heat through. Keep soup warm while preparing guacamole.
For guacamole, in a large skillet heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add the 3/4 cup reserved corn kernels. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until kernels are tender and lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
In a medium bowl combine toasted corn, the remaining garlic, the remaining shallot, the remaining poblano pepper, the cilantro, lime peel, lime juice, salt, and black pepper. Add the avocado. Lightly toss to combine.
Ladle soup into bowls. Top with guacamole and sprinkle with crumbled queso fresco cheese.
Adapted from    Better Homes And Gardens
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The Original Plum Torte

September 3, 2014
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The New York Times published Marian Burros’s recipe for this Plum Torte every September from 1983 until 1995…the most famous recipe ever printed in the NYT. It’s perfect in its simplicity. Only eight ingredients, all of which, except the Italian plums, are most likely in your kitchen. When this torte cooks with the bittersweet plums, the fruit softens and creates a jammy consistency. These plums, also referred to as prune plums or quetche (in France), only appear for a very short time…September and October. While these egg-shaped, purple skinned plums can be eaten raw they are best cooked. Wait (if you can) til the next day to serve….the torte sets up with all the juices creating a beautifully moist, custard-like cake. This iconic cake freezes well so you may want to think…holidays.

The Original Plum Torte
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Large pinch of salt
1 cup granulated sugar plus 1 to 2 tablespoon
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
12 smallish purple Italian purple plums, halved and pitted
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Heat over to 350°. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In a larger bowl, cream butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time and scraping down the bowl, then the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.Spoon batter into an ungreased 9-inch springform pan and smooth the top. Arrange the plums, skin side up, all over the batter, covering it. Sprinkle the top with lemon juice, then cinnamon and sugar (mix together). Bake until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into a center part of the cake comes out free of batter, about 45 to 50 minutes. Cool.
Once cool, leave it covered at room temperature overnight as this cake really is even better on the second day. Or maybe you can’t wait….that’s OK too.
**This was my second attempt making the torte. Unable to find the small Italian plums, I used 6 large. The result was tasty but the size of the plums did not create as moist of a cake as those little jewels.
Adapted from    The New York Times
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Honey-Ginger Chicken With Lime

August 28, 2014

 

What a perfect entree for a beautiful Farm to Table dinner. This lovely evening started with fresh vegetable bruschetta, a puffed prosciutto appetizer and a few raw vegetables with green goddess dressing for dipping. The dinner began with a  Thomas Keller gazpacho topped with kernels of sweet caramelized corn, followed by a beautifully presented spinach and caprese salad. The main event was this Ginger Lime Chicken (thanks Marsha) over a bed of roasted garden vegetables and orzo. There’s an awful lot of flavor in this dish…the tangy lime, the kick of ginger and the aromatic combination of spices. The sauce was delicious with its sweet, tangy notes and was drizzled over the caramelized thighs. The dish pulls together in only 45 minutes (as noted in Quick and Easy Menus, Food and Wine /July 2014) which makes it perfect for a weeknight dinner but impressive for entertaining. The evening ended with Peach Cobbler topped with Bourbon Vanilla ice cream. Magical!

 

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Honey-Ginger Chicken with Lime

Servings 4
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 cup minced fresh ginger
1 jalapeño, finely chopped
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
3 1/2 teaspoons grated lime zest
4 chicken legs, cut into drumsticks and thighs  (I used just thighs)
2 teaspoons sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Lime wedges, for serving
Preheat the oven to 400°. In a bowl, whisk the vinegar, honey, ginger, jalapeño, garam masala, coriander, cumin, cayenne, salt, pepper and 3 teaspoons of the lime zest. Prick the chicken with a fork, add it to the bowl and toss. In a small bowl, mix the sugar with the remaining lime zest. In a large *ovenproof skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in the oil over moderately high heat. Add the chicken and cook, turning, until golden, 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the lime sugar and roast for 25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked (and caramelized). Add the lime juice and the remaining butter to the skillet. Serve the chicken with the pan juices and lime wedges.
*I transferred the chicken to casserole pan and baked (due to the quantity I made). Then de-glaze the pan to create the sauce.
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Summer Cucumber Drink

August 23, 2014

 

 

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This is a  light and refreshingly cool summer drink. The clean, crisp flavor of garden fresh cucumbers standout, while the mint adds a sweet herbal note and the lime adds just enough zing.  Add Vodka or Gin and you’ve got yourself a summer stunner.

The Cuke

Serves 6

6 limes
1 cup packed mint leaves, just the leaves, plus 6 sprigs for garnish
3 unwaxed cucumbers
½ cup sugar
2 cups vodka or gin, preferably Hendrick’s gin
Sparkling water

Adapted from The Kitchn

Thinly slice 3 limes and place in a pitcher. Juice the rest of the limes and add juice to the pitcher. Add mint leaves. Add two sliced cucumbers, then sugar. Muddle ingredients. Add vodka or gin. Place in refrigerator to steep 30 minutes or longer. Peel remaining cucumber and cut lengthwise into 6 spears.

Fill 6 large glasses with ice. Strain mixture from pitcher into each glass. Top with a splash of sparkling water, garnish each glass with a sprig of mint and a cucumber spear, and serve.

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Grilled Veggie Sandwich

August 15, 2014

 

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What to do with all the goodies from your local Farmer’s Market? Try this grilled veggie sandwich. Combine all your favorite produce…slice, grill, add a savory spread, a drizzle of balsamic glaze, a soft, whole wheat bakery roll and you have yourself a delicious meal. Satisfying and healthy!!!

 

Grilled Veggie Sandwich with Ricotta Spread
Makes 2 Sandwiches
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon each of fresh basil, chives and parsley, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Portobello mushroom
Zucchini, sliced lengthwise, as many slices as you want
Yellow squash, sliced lengthwise, as many slices as you want
Eggplant, sliced into rounds
1/2 red onion, peeled and sliced into rounds
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced in half or quarters
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 loaf ciabatta bread or other soft bread sliced into 6-inch sections and cut in half
1/2 cup arugula leaves or spinach
Balsamic glaze
These vegetables are a suggestion, be creative.
In a small bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, fresh herbs, garlic clove, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and mix until smooth. Set aside.
Oil the grill. Preheat the grill on medium high for 10-15 minutes. Drizzle the vegetables with extra virgin olive oil and season with dried oregano and kosher salt and pepper. Drizzle some additional olive oil on the cut side of roll.
Place the vegetables on the grill and cook for 5 minutes. (Keep a close watch , depending on the veggie…they cook at different times) Flip veggies when they start to soften and grill marks develop. Cook for approximately 4-5 minutes. Toast the roll. Spread the herbed ricotta mixture on the roll slices. Top the bottom roll with layers of grilled vegetables and arugula or spinach, then drizzle with balsamic glaze. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Adapted from  Foodiecrush
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Peach Cobbler

August 9, 2014

DSC_0451 A cobbler is simple. A homey, comfortable ending that typically shows up at a summer BBQ. In the height of your local farmer’s market harvest, peaches and our favorite berries are bountiful…perfect for this seasonal favorite. Top the sweet filling with a crisp, yet tender biscuit. As a perfect companion add a scoop of vanilla bourbon ice cream.

Peach Cobbler            Adapted from  Allrecipes

Peach Filling

8 fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced into thin wedges, 8-10 cups

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons arrowroot or cornstarch

Topping 

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

12 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into pieces

1/2 cup boiling water

Cinnamon Sugar Topping  

1/3 cup white sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a small bowl, combine all the dry ingredients for the peach filling. Stir to combine and then pour into a large 9×13 baking dish. Bake the peach mixture in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.

While the peaches are baking, combine the  dry topping ingredients and whisk to combine. Blend in the chilled butter, using a pastry blender or your fingertips. Stir in the boiling water, just until combined.

Remove the peaches from the oven and drop the topping over them in spoonfuls. (I like to use my smallest cookie scoop to do this.) Sprinkle the cobbler topping with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake until the crust is golden and a toothpick inserted into the crust comes out clean, about 28 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whip cream.

FREEZER DIRECTIONS: The peach filling can be prepared and frozen in advance. Combine the peach filling ingredients in a large ziplock bag. When you are ready to bake the cobbler, thaw in the refrigerator and then pour into the baking dish and proceed with the recipe.

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Roasted Green Beans

August 2, 2014

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What’s your favorite way to eat freshly picked green beans? Mine is raw….. until now. Roasting these summer farm stand faves highlight their sweet flavor. The result turns these beans to a nutty, caramelized, crispy side dish.

Roasted Green Beans
Serves 4-6
2 lbs green beans
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil (use only enough to lightly coat)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
Pistachio nuts, chopped
Orange zest (garnish) and a squeeze of juice to finish
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Clean, trim, and dry beans. Place beans in a bowl and toss with olive oil (lightly coat). Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place beans on a rimmed baking sheet. Spread in a single layer. Roast 20-25 minutes, turn after 15 minutes. Cook til brown and desired crispness. Sprinkle with pistachios and squeeze a bit of fresh orange juice. Garnish with orange zest. Serve warm or at room temperature.
The beans really shrivel up so plan on eating more than you might think!!!
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Zucchini Bread

July 28, 2014
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Zucchini bread probably conjures up the memories. Gram’s cooking or picking zucchini in your family garden or even …well I have no zucchini bread flashbacks and this is the first time I’ve ever made it. It will not be the last!!. This bread has a soft and moist texture….thanks to all the shredded zucchini. It also has just the right amount of sweetness and the perfect touch of cinnamon. This recipe pulls together in about 15 minutes and is your cup of coffee’s best friend.
Zucchini Bread     Adapted from All Recipes
Makes 2 loaves
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups white sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl. Beat eggs, oil vanilla, and sugar in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and nuts until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan and completely cool.
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Huevos Rancheros

July 21, 2014

DSC_0418The British Open and a festive breakfast was the start to a Funday Sunday. We decided to invite friends over early to watch golf, enjoy Huevos Rancheros, Bloodies…..and then play a round!!! (O.K. so this meal may have been more successful than my golf game!) Mexican fare is my go-to order for breakfast out, so I wanted to find an easy and delicious recipe for my fav…here it is!! The black bean and salsa components are as simple as adding a few ingredients into a processor. Lightly toast the corn tortillas, fry up your eggs and assemble. Serve with sour cream, guacamole, avocado and a few cilantro sprigs. A platter of watermelon lightly salted, a few lime wedges and cilantro, rounds out your meal.

Huevos Rancheros

Makes 4

3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided

4 corn tortillas

1 cup black beans (from a can, drained and rinsed)

2 clove garlic

2 tsp chili powder

2 tsp ground cumin

1 cup salsa (store-bought or home-made)

4 eggs

2 Tablespoons sour cream or more

Fresh cilantro, for garnish

Avocado, sliced

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Guacamole

In a food processor, add the beans, garlic, cumin, chili powder, a teaspoon of oil (or until desired consistency), salt and pepper. Puree. Transfer to a small sauce pan and set it on a low heat. Heat through. Remove from heat.

Put a skillet over the burner and add a bit of oil. Lightly fry each tortilla until slightly browned and bubbly. (or toast over gas flame) Transfer to a plate.

Add a teaspoon of oil and a little butter to the skillet and crack your eggs. Continue to fry the eggs (medium-low heat) until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny.

In the meantime, spread the bean mixture over each tortilla, followed by the salsa. Then top each with an egg. Dollop with a little more salsa, fresh cilantro sprigs, salt and pepper.

Make ahead: You can make the salsa and bean mixture the day before. Warm up before assembling.

Adapted from  Bev Wiedner

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