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May 25, 2008

Slow Bakers Sunday

This Sunday was my choice; we baked the Zucchini Olive Oil Cake with Lemon Crunch Glaze.
Although we don't yet have the summer glut of zucchini I thought it would be delicious and I was right! This a perfect cake with coffee or tea, any time of day. The recipe has a lot of steps--toasting then chopping the nuts, grating the zucchini, making the glaze but it was well worth the efforts. I especially like the tangy lemony glaze.

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Meanwhile, I am getting the dread of pre-travel anxiety. Even thinking about writing about it makes me feel a little weak in the knees. So, onward. Tomorrow we will begin our packing. A week from today I will sit down on the plane and be done with this predictably insane phase of my travel routine.

July 20, 2008

Polenta Cake

Actually, this cake was the first thing I baked from Gina's book. I love the citrusy bright flavor and the polenta texture.

I used the "instant" polenta from our Fresh Market. My friend Cecelia tried to make regular polenta from this stuff and we both agreed it was awful, but for baking, it's great.

The cake took longer to bake by about 15 minutes than the recipe says. After two 5 minute additions I kind of forgot about it so maybe it was ready a little sooner. It was drier this time than the last.

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I used an orange slice and lemon balm leaves from my garden to garnish and I served it with cinnamon whipped cream and strong coffee.

It's had to believe the Sunday Slow Bakers are finished with Dolce Italiano! I plan to go back and try some of the recipes I missed while in Italy.


July 27, 2008

Italy inspired coking

I have been enjoying cooking in my own, well-functioning kitchen since I've been back. This is not a fancy kitchen--we have laminate counter tops, for god's sake, and, except the refrigerator, which I hate (that's another story) these are all the original appliances. We moved in 20 years ago and everything's still kickin'.

Last night we made a little informal dinner party for our good friend, slow-traveler, almost Italian citizen, Lyn. Her husband Antonio brought a beautiful, bountiful, platter of fresh-from-the-garden, grilled veggies and another of fabulous Italian cheeses. The big hit was a little "bar" of something called cotognata which they brought home from Ascoli Piceno. It is dried apples and quince pressed together. Eating it with the sharp Italian pecorino was a real treat! I love those uniquely Italian flavor combos. We drank Prosecco with all of this.

Our first course was fettuccine with gorgonzola, pesto and sundried tomatoes. I had been thinking about trying it for a few days and I think it really worked. the simple pino grigio worked well with the richness of the sauce. Luckily I didn't make to much--just one pound of pasta for the 8 of us was perfect.

For the main course, we had another fuller-bodied white wine which Anthony had from Ascoli. It was great with the grouper I put on the grill. I had made some lemon infused olive oil earlier this week and used it to season the fish. Our friend Tandy made a huge salad which we ate with the fish and this foccacia which I had fun making in the afternoon:

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I used one dough for two kinds--one with onions and cherry tomatoes and the other with just grated parmesean cheese.

For dessert I did the Bluberry Coconut Tart from Dolce Italiano, page 150. If the Sunday Slow Bakers missed this one you've go to go back and try it. It was absolutely fabulous. We are in our last week or two of the local blueberry season and they are just yummy! I love feeling the connection to Gina through the recipes.

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After some coffee we all flopped on the couch! Anthony was the first one asleep (so, what's new?) I was really feeling staisfied with the whole meal!


August 10, 2008

Hosting the "Lunachics"

It was my turn to have our book group meet here this month. We read a terrific novel, "The Girls" by Lori Lansens. (Brenda BGE suggested this one to me)

The book has a strong Slovakian theme so I researched the food from that area. Plascinta are crepe-like pancakes--actually a little heavier than crepes. Usually they are served rolled with jam inside but what I did was fill them with local fresh blackberries, plain yogurt and a bit of honey. I also made a fritatta (nothing Slovakian about that) with spinach, bacon and lots of carmelized onions. We had a nice green salad which included arugala and grape tomatoes , I got at the farmer's market and some cheeses and pumpernickel bread. The star of the meal was the apple strudel, tough.

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I used a recipe from Cooks Illustrated Magazine which used filo dough--so much easier than making the dough. I used less butter than the redipe called for and a little bit more apples. I was suspicious about using butter bread crumbs in the filling but it really worked to keep the liquid runnineww under control. Using half Granny Smiths and half Golden Delicious worked well for flavor and sweetness. The strudel somehow disappeared completely!

We drank a few mimosas and tons of coffee and had a wonderful long discussion about the book. Really only one of our group didn't love it.

Happy birthday to my friend Rosen, if he's reading this.

September 7, 2008

Chocolate cake

I am always in search of a wonderful chocolate cake. A great weekend, to me, involves baking AND eating one. My favorite moment is hearing that special sound the knife makes cutting into the totally freshly made cake--total satisfaction!

This cake, with caramel filling was in Bon Appetit September issue. Here's a link to the recipe:
http://www.bonappetit.com/magazine/2008/09/chocolate_cake_with_fleur_de_sel_caramel_filling

I remember lots of talk on ST about the salty caramels that have been all the rage so I thought I would try this cake. I was a bit too timid with the salt, putting a small pinch, instead of a generous one, between each layer, so the finished cake didn't have a really salt kick but it was really rich and delicious.

here's mine:

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I took a quarter of it to neighbors. Whatever is left after today, I have to take to school tomorrow so I don't eat it all week.

September 21, 2008

Pinot Party

Last night we had a little birthday party for Ken; his birthday was Thursday, the 18th.
I asked everyone to bring a Pinot Noir (one of his favorite wines) in a brown paper bag. So, we had a blind tasting and it was really fun.
The Hahn, Montery, was the consensus winner. I liked the Beringer, Napa Valley the best myself--it seemed more complex and had a nice finish but I liked the Hahn, too. I had bought the Bethel Heights from Willamette, which I think was probably the most expensive at $30, but it didn't show well. Maybe that was because we tasted it first--I'm not sure--but people just didn't like it so much. The 2 least favorites were the Summerland, Montery County, which had a very light cherry color and flavor to match, and the Coppola. The last was the least expensive--we used to buy it for our "house" wine but we got tired of it.

We had lots of great food--a cheese platter which included the wonderful, local, Sweet Grass Dairy, soft cheese and others. I made pork tenderloins on the grill (Wow! they are so easy and delicious) which I rubbed with herbs and salt and pepper. And I bought little rolls and had mustards and fig chutney. Cecelia made her "signature" roasted tomato crostini and they were fantastic. We had lots of other stuff, too.

I made Ken a birthday cake--yellow cake with raspberries and whipped cream between the layers and chocolate ganche in the center of the 4 layers. I wish I remembered to take a picture.

And we watched Florida State in an ugly loss to Wake Forest.

It was really an enjoyable evening!

November 17, 2008

Dinner Results

Dedicated to Brad.

The garlic shrimp pasta from Cooks Illustrated was a definite keeper. If you get the magazine, you will notice it asks for 5 cloves of garlic, which when I put them through my Zyliss press, only gave me about 2 teaspoons of garlic. I figured that was enough. The recipe was interesting because you use garlic in different stages--once to marinate the shrimp, then some smashed cloves to flavor the oil (later discarded) and a bit more goes into the sauce. I added some julienned sun dried tomatoes with the sauce ingredients. Everyone liked the dish! We drink a very nice Soave with it and a Vermentino with the apps.

I tried something interesting and very easy for the apps. I mixed some pesto I had in the refrigerator and some goat cheese--the soft, spreadable kind--and used it as a spread for crackers. Very tasty!

The dessert experiment was less successful. I made some traditional biscuits, adding a little sugar and a bunch of choopped crystalized ginger. They were good--no problems. I grilled the pineapple, just plain. I think I let it cook too long because, although it had great grill marks, it tasted almost like canned pineapple instead of the fresh juicy stuff I know it was beforehand.
I added some spiced whipped cream to each plate but the over all dessert was just a bit dry. I needed some sauce--maybe if I had caremelized the pineapple in a pan with some rum and sugar... Oh well, next time.

To make up for the dessert failure, we drank some grappa and limoncello.

Too bad our home team, Seminoles lost in an ugly game, which we watched after dinner.

November 24, 2008

Sunday Soupers #1

Here is the first of many soups for he Slow Travel Sunday Soup Group.

This is porcini chestnut soup. It would be perfect for a soup course for Thanksgiving; it's light and has delicate flavors. The chardonnay we drank with it seemed to overwhelm the soup--would have been better, I imagine, with a nice light Spanish albarino or a soave from Italy.

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I had no trouble peeling my chestnuts after roasting them; I did it the day before and kept them in a zip lock bag, but I did have to eat one or two. The porcini I used were brought home in my suitcase from Oliviera in Acqui. They have great flavor and that unmistakable earthy aroma. YUM!

Thanks, Amy, for the recipe. We loved it.

November 30, 2008

Sunday Soupers #2

Today's soup recipe, offered by Jerry, was a big success. My husband loved eating it and I loved making it! The recipe uses a technique I had never been aware of before. You "dry roast" frozen corn kernels until they are browned and toasted. The smell is great! The tomatoes get the same dry roasting treatment and it makes their flavor a little more intense and almost smokey.

Here's a messy shot of the soup in the pot.

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I prepped everything this morning so I could just throw it all together when I got home from yoga at 5:30. It worked out great. I also toasted some plain whole wheat tortillas and cut them into triangles for another garnish.

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The tortillas were good with the rest of the avocado cream on them, too.

I appreciated this light recipe after all the heavy eating we've done this holiday weekend.

December 14, 2008

Slow Soupers--Italian Wedding Soup

I've been a bad blogger but I plan to redeem myself starting with the soup of this week.

Here's my pot of soup cooking away.

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I loved throwing in the arugula because we have a garden full of it and it tastes great, mild and rich, this time of year. I made a bit of a mistake with my little meatballs. Because I had one and a third pounds of ground turkey, I increased the spices accordingly. I should have known better! What was I thinking??? They were way overly spiced with nutmeg and allspice. Some of it cooked out after adding them to the soup and we managed to eat them (and really enjoy them) but realizing that I had totally blown it did color my experience a little.

We drank a funny wine called "Fruit Bomb" from Washington State, with the soup. The wine was only $10 a bottle but I probably won't buy it again. It was a blend of Syrah, Cab Franc, Merlot and Cab Sauvignon. And guess what--it was a fruit bomb. I'm just spoiled but wine with a real backbone but for $10 it was fine.

Here's the soup in the bowl. I did the orzo separately because I knew we would have lots of left-overs and I didn't want the pasta to turn to mush.

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The soup is so pretty in the bowl!


December 21, 2008

Slow Soupers and Holiday Kick Off

Today is the first day of the rest of my vacation! Fantastic!

The weekend started out just great with Kathryn and her visiting boyfriend, Dom, rolling out the pasta dough. They were all smiles the whole weekend.

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The soup for today was Pumpkin and it was not my favorite. Maybe it was because it came from a can or maybe I didn't add enough salt. Just not so great to me, but some people loved it. I think it looked great in my purple bowls, though.

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Great fun and a great recipe came through Serious Eats (seriouseats.com) . It's Gina de Palma's recipe for Cocoa Snowflake cookies. Cecelia and I made the dough yesterday and rolled the cookies and baked them today. Our little assembly line system worked will and the cookies came out great! Here they are cooling on the rack.

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I love the complex flavor the orange zest adds to the chocolate. We used Droste cocoa Thanks Gina, for the recipe! I have only eaten one because I'm saving the rest to take down south to my mom and sister, the day after Christmas.

January 2, 2009

Hoppin' John

Shannon's soup choice was "Hoppin' John" and since I was away last weekend, I decided to catch up by making it on New Years Day. Given that it is a true Southern tradition,
I've made it several times before, but had only used smoked turkey, Now with my foray into the pork world, I could use my leftover Christmas Ham. Even though I had WAY overcooked it, it still worked well in the small cubes cooked in the soup.

I used frozen Black Eyed Peas that came in a 2 pound bag; it was much easier than the soaking/cooking process and they had a nice beany flavor. For a little added kick, I put in some Chipotle Tabasco (which is my best condiment find of 2008) and used a combination of collards and kale from the garden. The soup was like a meal in itself but I also made a cheesey corn bread.

Our great friends and neighbors Anthony and Lyn (LynK from ST) brought a beautiful salad, all picked from his glorious garden, including the sweetest carrots I've ever tasted. They also brought a bottle of yummy red Italian wine. We started with a nice, celebratory Prosecco--it was New Years Day, after all.

Here's a picture from the table:

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Anthony made a dessert he called a stratta. It was like bread pudding with berries. We all loved it! Thanks, Antonio.

Today--taking down the tree and Nutcrackers. Kathryn hopes to get some shopping in, too. Sounds like the perfect winding down the vacation day.

January 5, 2009

Soup #7-- Fish Soup

Now here's a great recipe for a working person! You can put it together very quickly and it tastes great.

Cindy's Fish Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small head fennel, tops discarded, and bulb chopped
¼ cup wine (can be white or red, whatever you have open, or you can skip this altogether)
2 teaspoons fish seasoning (I use Dean & Deluca brand. If you can’t find, you could substitute Herbs de Provence)
1 15.5 oz can diced tomatoes
2 5.5 oz can spicy V-8 juice
1 pound firm white fish such as halibut, cod, or rockfish, cut into 1” cubes
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion, fennel, and garlic, and sauté until soft, about 10-15 minutes. Add the wine, and continue cooking for a couple of minutes. Add the V-8, tomatoes, and fish seasoning. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and add the chopped fish. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until the fish is cooked through and the flavors have blended, about 15 minutes. Serve with slices of crusty bread that have been toasted in the oven and rubbed with a garlic clove.
Variations: If you would like a spicier soup, you can add a chopped jalapeno to the onions when sautéing, or add some red pepper flakes.

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I was able to make this tonight after a ling day and we both loved it. I used about a half pound of sea bass, and a quarter pound of shrimp and bay scallops. Also, and I think this really made it great, I had a little less than a cup of left over saffron risotto, which I added before the fish. The fish cooks so quickly, so I let the broth (I added a little water, especially because of the rice) simmer for 10 minutes or so, first.
Does anybody remember why we're not supposed to eat Chilean Sea Bass. It was the only firm white fish in my place (Southern Seafoods) and I have to say it was so buttery and rich; it really made the soup wonderful.

Thanks to Cindy Ruth for a low fat, high protein, tasty soup!


January 11, 2009

Thanks to Andrew Carmellini

For my birthday, Cecelia and David gave me a new cookbook, "Urban Italian" by Andrew Carmellini. The author's restaurant is A Voce in Manhattan; I had a memorable lunch there a few years ago when in NYC, with my mom and sister. The meal was really impressive; and I knew that my friend, Gina, likes Andrew a lot. She's the one who suggested we go there.

So, now I have the cookbook and it is exciting. The recipes seem to have the same bold flavors that I remember from the lunch experience. Cec and I made dinner last night, using the book. We started with grilled bread with a ricotta spread. We used the last bit of the homemade ricotta and some store bought. I think this was Cecelia's favorite part of the meal. She kept complaining about now being able to stop eating it!
We drank an inexpensive Cline Viognier; it seemed the perfect "cocktail wine" and a nice match with the warm, somewhat garlicy bread and the cool, creamy cheese.

On to the dinner. We decided on grilled chicken, spinach with chick peas, and potatoes.

The chicken marinated in roasted garlic paste, lemons, oil, vinegar and fresh rosemary. I took the lemon slices and threw them on the grill for a garnish--see?

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We used boneless breasts, even though the recipe called for whole chickens and it came out perfectly.

The spinach, with chick peas, was wonderful--topped with ricotta salata.

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Cecelia worked hard on the potatoes. It wasn't difficult, just lots of steps, but SO worth it!

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Finally, here's the table, right before we ate. The dolcetto d'Alba we drank was a good match but not a great wine. Of course, that didn't stop us from finishing the bottle.

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I really recommend "Urban Italian" for a totally different kind of Italian cookbook. Reading the introduction was great fun, too. Andrew Carmellini seems like a great guy!
His first "tip" before you start on the recipe section is "Don't stress out".

We didn't, at all--the recipes were easy to follow and the results were delicious!


January 12, 2009

Slow Soupers--Caldo Verde

Mine was delicious but I think I used WAY too many greens--the whole bunch--which I didn't have the forethought to weigh or measure. I bought some called "Kalarrds" at the farmers market.

Also, I think I gave away my potato masher so I used the immersion blender in there a little bit which made it cloudy and thicker. When you take a ladle full it's mostly a whole lotta greens. Good think I love greens!

Still a very yummy, hearty treat--I especially love the crispy chorizo. I couldn't believe how much red fat was left in the frying pan after about 8 minutes.


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January 18, 2009

Slow Soupers--Asparagus Soup

A keeper, for sure! The Asparagus Soup was not too thick, not too thin--it was just right! Can you tell I've been doing Goldilocks at preschool all week?
Instead of leeks, I saw beautiful Vidalia green onions at the farmer's market (I know I should have taken a photo). They look a lot like leeks only a little bigger bulb at the bottom and they're shiny. They worked great in the soup, subtle but giving a nice flavor on which to build the asparagus and potatoes. Buying local, super fresh ingredients makes me happy and usually enhances the end product.

Ken didn't like the amaretti cookie crumble but I thought it took the whole thing to another level.
You can see my glass of scotch (Johnny Walker Black, if you're interested) in the photo, next to the soup bowl. Since I know asparagus is difficult to pair with wine, I stuck to the scotch I had been sipping during the cooking. It worked. Ken drank a Liberty School Syrah we had already opened the night before and said it really was awful with the soup. We had "sausage dogs" as our second course and the wine was really good with that. Really a crazy dinner--the soup was really elegant, refined and pretty and the sausage dogs were the total opposite. Oh well...

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Thanks to my good friend, Palma, for this lovely recipe.

January 25, 2009

slow Soupers--Sandi's Seafood gumbo

Making gumbo is a long standing Southern tradition but, even though I really embrace my Southern identity, I've only made it a few times before and it's been quite a while since I've done it. So, I approached this foray into the gumbo recipe with great enthusiasm. I was able to get authentic Louisiana andouille sausage here in town, at Southern Seafoods, where I got the super fresh shrimp and scallops. But great ingredients aside, I know the key to gumbo is in the roux. Sandi said cook it until it's cocoa brown. I think I was really a couple of minutes short of cocoa but the beautifully smooth, coffee colored roux I saw in my pan looked just right to me.

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The smell of the onions and peppers cooking with the sausage was enough to know this was going to be great. The finished product did not disappoint. I cooked the shrimp and scallops for only a few minutes and served it in bowls, over rice, and with a nice green salad. Rating--ten out of ten!

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My friend Nina said it would be helpful if I included the original recipes in these blog posts so here it is:

Seafood Gumbo
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup all purpose flour
1# chicken pieces
1# large shrimp, bay scallops, oysters
1# Andouille sausage
32 oz chicken broth
2 bell peppers, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp salt & pepper
½ tsp cayenne pepper (more or less)
chopped parsley
bunch of green onions chopped
In a large pot, saute onions and peppers. Add sausage and brown. Add water, spices, and chicken; simmer until the chicken is cooked through (if you use chicken on the bone you can cool it and pull it now) Use this broth as a part of your chicken broth.

Start the gumbo by making your roux. Use a heavy skillet and stir together flour and oil until it is a cocoa brown and thick, smooth consistency. You will want to start adding some broth to the skillet to thin your roux, then pour the it into the big pot. Stir like hell. Add chicken broth, stir some more until there are no clumps.

Cover and simmer. This will help to thicken the gumbo. Add cleaned shrimp and scallops, cooking on medium heat till shrimp are pink (10 minutes) Add the delicate oysters last. Remove from heat. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Serve in a large bowl on top of a scoop of rice, with a garnish of green onions.
Y'all Enjoy!


So, there's the recipe.
I am going to try to blog EVERYDAY is February so look for lots of posts next month!

February 1, 2009

Slow Soupers--Split Pea

What would a soup series be without a split pea recipe? Marcia offered this one

Split Pea and Green Pea Soup with Fresh Dill

Yield: Makes 4-6 first-course servings

Ingredients

3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large leek (white and pale green parts only), chopped (about 1 and 1/2 cups)
1 bay leaf
1 cup green split peas, rinsed
5&1/2 cups vegetable broth, divided (can use chicken broth, too, or a ham bone for seasoning).

1 cup frozen petite green peas, thawed
4 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill, divided

Salt
Pepper
Shredded Parmesan for garnish

Preparation

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium high heat. Add leak and bay leaf. Saute until leek wilts, about three minutes. Add split peas and stir to coat. Add 5 cups broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until split peas are just tender, about 35 minutes. Remove from heat. Transfer 1 cup soup solids, bay leaf and remaining 1/2 cup broth to blender. Add petite peas and 3 Tablespoons dill. Puree until smooth. Return puree to soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls. Sprinkle with remaining 1 Tablespoon dill and shredded Parmesan for garnish.

(If you like the idea of whole green peas in your soup, then only puree half of the petite green peas, add the other half to the soup).

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I found it to be light and easy to eat--a perfect starter, not a meal in itself. The soup is a lot thinner than a typical split pea soup.
Fresh dill is a real rarity in my kitchen and I think this recipe will motivate me to use it more often. I enjoyed this soup very much and it was quick and easy!

February! I've made the big commitment to blog EVERY DAY this month along with a whole bunch of Slow Travel bloggers. Some days I'm sure it will be short but I'm looking forward to seeing if I'm up to the challenge.

February 3, 2009

Pearl's Mandel Bread

My mother in law, Pearl Goldberg, was a pretty bad cook. We usually dreaded the dinners she made but we loved her warm company. Pearl was a real people person. As mother in laws go they don't get any better. Sadly, she died, of ovarian cancer, about 2 years ago.

Whenever we used to visit, she would have a freezer full of home baked cookies and cakes prepared for us. Although she was a perfectly awful cook, the woman could bake wonderful cookies. Her best loved recipe was mandel bread. It's like Jewish biscotti.

She kept all of her recipes in one of those old fashioned metal boxes, on 3 X 5 index cards. Soon after she died, I copied down the mandel bread one but I haven't had the occasion to make it until recently. I really wanted to try it for an upcoming community event.

Here's the recipe:

Preheat oven to 350

1/2 pound butter (2 sticks)
2 Tablespoons crisco
1 and a half cups sugar
3 eggs
4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon Baking soda
1 and a half teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 and a half cups chopped nuts (I used toasted pecans)

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs. Whisk together the dry ingredients and add to the wets. Add the nuts.
Roll into 3 logs and bake, on a cookie sheet, at 350 for about 35 minutes.

When they come out, cool on rack for 5-10 minutes. Then slice, with a sharp knife, into cookies. Put them back onto cookie sheet and toast them about 10 minutes per side or until they start to have just a little color.

Cool on rack.

They're great with coffee or tea!

Pearl always stored them in the freezer, in layers with wax paper, in a plastic container.
So, here they are:

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My husband says they tasted like "the real thing". I'm not really sure if she used walnuts or pecans but they sure were good with our local "Elliot" variety of pecans.

Let me know if you make them.

C

February 8, 2009

Saturday Night Dinner

First of all, I forgot to take a picture and I'm so sorry because this dinner was wonderful AND really pretty on the plate.

I used a recipe from the current issue of Cooks Illustrated Magazine (my favorite cooking mag) as the basis for Chicken with Porcini. It had a couple of techniques which were new to me and I enjoyed learning them. One thing was halving the boneless chicken breasts horizontally before pounding them to a quarter inch thickness which made so much sense. Instead of pounding away, just a few whacks makes perfect cutlets. The recipe also has you mix the briefly reconstituted dried porcini with chicken broth. I think that helped add to the richness of mushroom flavor. I ground some porcini in my spice grinder to mix with the dredging flour for the cutlets. These porcini were some I'd brought home from Acqui Terme and they are really full of that wonderful earthy mushroom essence.

I made some polenta to go with the chicken and for the first time, I used milk to cook the polenta. Didn't love it. I think I'll go back to the water, olive oil and bay leaves next time.

The chicken with sauce was a beautiful rich brown and the polenta a nice bright yellow so use your imagination and you'll see how it looked great on the plate.

We drank a Merlot from Iron Horse in Paso. I thought it matched well wih the earthiness of the dish without overwhelming it.


February 15, 2009

Saturday Night Dinner--Valentines Day

Ken bought me a gift for Valentines Day--a cast iron fry pan, which I had been wanting for a while. My gift to him was dinner.

We went together to the farmer's market, seafood shop and wine store. It was nice to have company on my morning errands. It worked because I skipped Pilates (very bad girl!) and waited for Ken to be ready to go.

I got shrimp and scallops at Southern Seafoods--no surprise there because I had it in my mind to do a seafood risotto. They also had mesh bags of fresh mussels from Prince Edward Island so I got one of those. I cooked them up, very traditionally, in white wine and garlic. They were absolutely fantastic! I also made some focaccia but it didn't really work well as a substitute for "crusty French bread".

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We got a bottle of Venica, Jessera, Pinot Grigio. It was perfect with the meal, having a just right acid balance and enough citrusy notes to compliment the seafood.

For the seafood risotto, I used canaroli rice, onions, wine, saffron and a fair amount of butter. I topped the risotto with some chopped fresh arugala from the garden.
That experiment worked well.

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The best was Ken cleaning up (he always does)! What a man!

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We spent the rest of the night in bed--watching a really dumb movie (Fool's Gold) and eating dessert. It was really a terrific Valentines Day


February 18, 2009

Easy Weeknight Supper

Ken and I are on a little bit of a diet. At least, we're trying to get back to a healthier eating routine--greatly reducing "white foods" and not eating sugar--saving wine for Saturdays only. The wine restriction is one of the most difficult because we had really been enjoying a glass (or two) with dinner every night.

So, tonight I made us a big fritatta.

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We had enough to have left overs for a healthy, high protein snack.

Here's what's in it ;

4 whole eggs and 2 extra whites
about a half cup of grated low fat cheddar
about a quarter cup of grated romano
a big bag of spinach--sauteed it first, squeezed out some water and chopped it.
one medium onion, chopped and sauteed with
a half of a red pepper, chopped.
two small Yukon gold potatoes, cooked in the microwave and diced.
salt and pepper

I just whisked up the eggs and added all the cooked veggies. Heated up some olive oil in a big frying pan and poured it all in. After a few minutes I put it under the broiler for another couple of minutes to fully set the eggs.

I added some pan roasted asparagus...

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There you go. A healthy, hearty, diet friendly supper.

February 20, 2009

Friday night fun

So I've blown the diet.
Friday evening and I'm thinking I'm dying for some nice pasta and good company.
Ken is all for it. F**k the diet.
To make things merrier, we call Anthony and Lyn and invite them to come over and eat with us. Of course, they accept and brought some nice wine, too.

So, I start cooking with some boneless skinless chicken breast (perfect diet food).
I cut them into little chunks, dredged them in a little bit of flour and browned them in some olive oil. Then I threw a big, diced red onion in the pan with a little more oil and eventually added a bunch of chopped garlic. Then my favorite part--I deglazed the pan with some red wine--

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Then I added a can of crushed tomatoes and a can of diced tomatoes, some salt and pepper and a bit of chopped, fresh rosemary.

We made some ziti, a salad and I roasted some brussels sprouts.

It turned out to be a great little dinner.

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We kept "enjoying" ourselves with some limoncello and grappa after dinner.

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Ken and Anthony had fun cleaning up,

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Now the other three are tossing around expletives as they talk intense politics, even envoking the names of Dan Quayle, Cheney and Burris. I am smiling as I post .

Good food and good friends--it doesn't get much better than this.


March 2, 2009

Slow Soupers--Lentil Soup

Here's a wonderfully homey, comfort soup from Kim

Lentil Soup

Recipe By :My Mom

1 Cup Lentils
4 1/2 Cups Chicken broth/stock (I use the fat free stuff)
2 1/2 sprigs parsley -- snipped
1 bay leaf
12 ounces tomato -- crushed (I use canned)
2 stalks celery -- chopped
2 sticks carrot -- sliced
1 onion -- chopped
2 cloves garlic - minced
1 teaspoon thyme (dried)

1. cook until vegetables are tender, 1 1/2 - 2 hours

Seriously, that's how my mother gave it to me. But basically, she just throws it all into a pot, brings to a boil and then lets it cook.

We really enjoyed this soup on a nasty, cold night.

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I like how you can see the steam coming up, in the photo.

Thanks, Kim.

March 3, 2009

A great Meal at Michy's in Miami

Michy's is always in the top 10 restaurants in Miami and I had been wanting to try it for a long time. Michelle Bernstein is the creator of it and I had loved her food at Azul, where she cooked before opening her own place.
I ate at Michy’s with my mom; we took the only time we could get on a Friday night, 6:00 and we had an excellent experience. The service was perfect--just enough attention but not overwhelming. Chris was our waiter and he did a great job.
I loved the food! My favorite dish was the arugala salad with braised rabbit. The rabbit was shredded and full of flavor while the greens were obviously garden fresh. This arugala had never seen a cellophane bag. And I loved the light cherry balsamic dressing.
We also ate the ham and cheese croquetas with fig marmalade. the combination of the blue cheese melting inside the crispy crust, with the slightly sweet fig flavor, was just wonderful.
The snapper Francaise was the least favorite, slightly over done for my taste, but the sauce was a lovely citrus beurre blanc and I absolutely loved the boniato mash with a little lime in it. Wow!
The sweetbreads were very nice (I had never tried them before) and the little bits of sausage were so tasty--very nice little light cassoulet.
Our over indulgence came in the form of 2 desserts. The baked Alaska was brilliant. The bottom layer was a slightly salty pistachio cake, topped by dulce de leche ice cream that was rich with caramel flavor. They were surrounded by an Italian meringue, which was beautiful, and perfectly executed.
The other dessert was a little, barely sweet, chocolate ganache tart with strawberries, strawberry foam and strawberry sorbet. A serious dessert that worked well.
I really appreciated the wines by the glass. My mom and I shared a glass of Arneis from Fontebranda. I loved that it was not ice cold. The perfectly chilled wine had beautiful fruit and made great sipping while we studied the menu. With the meal, I drank a Barbera, a favorite light red, and it worked well with everything.
One more point for the restaurant. The coffee was really good. They use Illy and brew it well.

I would go back to Michy's often, if I lived in the area. For those of you deciding between Michy's and Michaels's, I would say--no contest. Michy's is the clear winner.


March 8, 2009

slow soupers--Winter Minestrone

This week we made a wonderful, heartly and delicious minestrone from the January 2009 Gourmet magazine.

Here's the recipe:

1/3 pound sliced pancetta, chopped
3 medium red onions, chopped
4 celery ribs, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch Swiss chard
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice
3 quart hot water
5 cups coarsely chopped cored Savoy cabbage (6 ounces) (I used regular green cabbage)
5 cups coarsely chopped escarole (1/2 pound)
1 piece Parmigiano-Reggiano rind (about 3 by 1 1/2 inches)
1 (19-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained


Accompaniments: extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling; cooked ditalini pasta tossed with oil (optional); grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Preparation:
Cook pancetta, onions, celery, and carrots in oil in a wide 7-to 9-quart heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, while preparing chard.

Cut out stems from chard and chop stems, reserving leaves. Stir chard stems into pancetta mixture with garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very tender and begin to stick to bottom of pot, about 45 minutes total. (Set aside chard leaves.)

Push vegetables to one side of pot. Add tomato paste to cleared area and cook, stirring constantly, until it starts to caramelize, about 2 minutes. Stir paste into vegetables and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. (Paste may stick to pot, but don’t let it burn.)

Stir in tomatoes with their juice, breaking them up with a spoon, then add hot water (3 quarts), scraping up any brown bits from bottom of pot.

Bring to a simmer. Stir in cabbage, escarole, and parmesan rind. Simmer, covered, until greens are tender, about 40 minutes.

Coarsely chop chard leaves and stir into soup along with beans. Simmer, partially covered, 10 minutes. Discard rind. Season soup with salt and pepper. If using ditalini, stir in just before serving.

Cooks' notes:
Soup, without pasta, can be made 2 days ahead and chilled.

This recipe took a long time because you have to cook the sofrito for 45 minutes. Mine got a little watery--maybe the onions gave off some water, but it was so worth the time and trouble.

It says it serves 8 but I think it's more like 12. We have a ton of soup!


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This picture is from right after I put the chard into the soup, towards the end of cooking. The colors, at that point, were so bright I just had to take the picture. I din't find ditalini but I did get these wonderful tiny bowties, called farfelline (little butterflies). They were so cute.

March 16, 2009

Slow Soupers--One of Each Soup

My turn.
I wanted to find something unique. Since I don't often cook with a recipe I posted this one.

I found this originally in Gourmet of Dec. 2001 and have been making it ever since.

yield: Makes 4 to 6 servings

active time: 15 min

total time: 30 min

Originally, this curried soup was served cold. Given the winter chill in the air, however, we tried it hot and discovered it to be even better.

Ingredients
1 large boiling potato (1/2 lb), peeled and coarsely chopped (I use Yukon Gold)
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 celery heart (inner pale stalks with leaves), coarsely chopped (1/2 cup)
1 large apple (preferably Granny Smith), peeled and coarsely chopped
1 firm-ripe banana, coarsely chopped
1 pint chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream (I use whole milk)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 rounded teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives (I have used chives or cilantro or a mixture)

Preparation:
Simmer vegetables and fruits in broth in a 3-quart heavy saucepan, covered, until very tender, about 12 minutes. Stir in cream, butter, curry powder, and salt and heat just until hot (do not boil).

Purée soup in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Thin soup with water if desired and serve sprinkled with chives.

Cooks' note:
· Soup can be made 2 days ahead and chilled, covered.

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Actually, we didn't have the chance to eat it yet because we had a big, covered-dish, community meeting here last night. So, we feasted on greens, lovely salads and yummy desserts (you never know what you're going to get--sometimes it's all pasta and sometimes lots of salad, but that's another story).
Good thing--I have dinner ready for tonight!

March 26, 2009

Slow Soupers--Carrot Orange Ginger Soup

Here is a really wonderful and easy (especially if you have an immersion blender) soup.

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I was sorry I didn't garnish it to make it prettier for the photo but there it is. Bright color and bright flavors. Here's the recipe:

One large onion - diced

Three cloves garlic minced or crushed

Three inch piece of ginger root - finely diced(you can use more or less depending on preference)

Eight large carrots (diced)

4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth

One and a half cups of orange juice


Saute onions, garlic and ginger in olive oil on low heat to soften and start to carmelize for only 10 minutes. Put in carrots and saute for 5 minutes to bring out the sugars. Add enough broth to cover the carrots and simmer till carrots are tender.

Remove from heat, place a small amount of broth and all of the carrots into blender and puree until smooth. Pour back into pot, add orange juice and rest of broth (or water) until you get the thickness consistency you desire.

Of all the soups we've made so far, Ken says this one is his favorite!
Thanks, Debrah.

March 30, 2009

Slow Soupers--Maylasian Curry Coconut soup

We took this soup over to our friends, Anthony and Lyn's house for supper, Saturday night and I forgot my camera. Anthony also made a great vegetable stir fry and some shrimp. We drank a Chenin Blanc from South Africa and it held up well against all the strong and complicated flavors of the soup.

It was so pretty with all the garnishes and the great yellow curry color underneath--just like all the photos on slowtrav.com on the food forum.

I found all the ingredients at the Asian food store, including the lime leaves. In my case I thought they were too dominant. Maybe these were stronger or bigger but I would have liked fewer. I over cooked the rice noodles a little so they were a tad mushy. Like Jerry, I had my "mise" all together so it was very easy to cook.
And like Palma, I appreciated the eastward turn in my cooking.
Friends and husband loved it!

Thanks Marta!
Here's the recipe:

Coconut Curry Chicken Noodle Soup (Curry Mee)
Time: 45 minutes

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced lemon grass or pale green cilantro roots
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dark red chili paste, such as sambal, more for serving
3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken thigh or breast meat, thinly sliced and cut into bite-size pieces
3 tablespoons curry powder, preferably Malaysian, Thai or Vietnamese
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 can (14 ounces) unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup half-and-half
4 cups chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar, more to taste
About 12 kaffir lime leaves or curry leaves, fresh or frozen (optional)
8 ounces dried thin rice noodles (bun or vermicelli), or other Asian noodles such as udon or lai fun
Salt to taste
1 cup bean sprouts
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 scallions, cut into thin rings
2 shallots, thinly sliced and deep fried in vegetable oil until brown (optional)
Quartered limes for serving.

1. Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add onion, ginger and lemon grass and cook, stirring, until softened, about 10 minutes. Do not brown; reduce heat if necessary. Add garlic and chili paste and stir until fragrant. Raise heat, add chicken and stir-fry one minute. Add curry powder and paprika and stir to coat. Then add coconut milk, half-and-half, chicken stock, turmeric, fish sauce, sugar and lime or curry leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 7 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, cook rice noodles in boiling water according to package directions (about 4 minutes). Rinse and drain.

3. Taste broth and adjust seasonings with salt and sugar. Divide noodles into large soup bowls. Bring broth to a boil, then ladle over noodles. Top with bean sprouts, cilantro, scallions and fried shallots, if using. Pass limes and sambal at the table.

Yield: 4 main-course servings.

May 7, 2009

Salad Sampler #2 Black Bean Salad

This week the salad came from Judy of Berkeley, Calfiornia.
I made it on Cinco de Mayo and had plenty left over to take to school and share on the 6th.

"It's not a recipe fixed in stone...", so quantities and ingredients are flexible.

Black Bean Salad

2 cups dried black beans

cover dry beans with 2 inches of water, and allow to soak overnight; drain soaking liquid, cover with fresh water, bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook (1 – 2 hrs) until beans are tender. Do NOT salt the water – it can cause the beans to toughen. Rinse and drain beans well, to get rid of all the black/grey liquid, which can discolor the salad.

Note – if you prefer, you can substitute 4 – 16. oz cans of cooked black beans; just rinse and drain thoroughly as above.

While beans are cooking, also cook

1 – ½ to 2 cups long grain rice, brown rice, or an "8 grain" mixture of rice/grain that you can get from some stores, following package directions..

Cool beans and grain.

Dice some combination of the following:-- try to dice all veggetables uniformly to a size similar to the size of the black beans for best appearance:

Red onions (maybe 1 whole one)
Garlic, minced or crushed (up to 12 cloves more or less)
Bell peppers. I like to use 3 colors to brighten up the salad.
Jalapeno - 2 or 3 depending on heat you like, minced
Corn, canned, frozen or fresh as you like maybe a cup or so (suggestion – use the roasted corn from Trader Joe’s for an extra layer of flavor).
Optional addition --green beans or zucchini

Toss all ingredients together and season with salt and pepper.

Then add Cumin-lime vinaigrette:
Olive oil (about 1/2 cup)
lime zest
lime juice (about 1/4 cup)
salt & pepper
1 teaspoon or so of mustard
garlic (maybe 6 or so cloves)
cumin and or chili powder (1-2 teaspoons to taste)
adjust these ingredients as needed to balance the flavors.
Optional: stir in fresh chopped cilantro.

Garnish with cilantro.


Since the instructions said it's a flexible recipe, I changed it somewhat. I added a couple of chopped cucumbers and put only a little bit (about a tablespoon) of chopped scallion instead of the onion. I used red pepper flakes instead of jalepeno pepper, only 2 cloves of garlic and about doubled the lime juice. We really enjoyed the fresh hearty salad as did the other teachers at preschool.

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Thanks, Tour mama!


May 11, 2009

Salad Samplers #3 Raw Asparagus

Here's a great new Sprigtime salad from Amy in Mass.

Raw Asparagus, Pea, and Arugula Salad

For the dressing--put these ingredients in the food processor, and whirl to combine. Taste and adjust to your liking.

* 1/4 cup Champagne vinegar, rice-wine vinegar, or other delicate, slightly sweet vinegar
* 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
* 1 shallot, minced
* 1/4 cup hazelnut, toasted walnut, or pistachio oil (or just increase the olive oil--but a nut oil adds a lot of flavor)
* 1/4 cup light-tasting olive oil
* Salt--a pinch
* Pepper--a few grinds


1 lb fat asparagus
2 cups garden peas; or frozen peas, defrosted
1/2 lb arugula (about 6 cups)
1 cup toasted walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, or other nuts
a chunk of good parmesan cheese

Snap off just the really woody bottom end of the asparagus. Since you'll be peeling the stems, you can use more than usual. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the stems all the way up, stopping just at the tips. (this step will make the stalks much more tender and juicy!) Cut off the tips, and blanch the tips for 2 minutes. Slice the stems on the diagonal in one-inch diagonal slices. Put the arugula in a bowl, and toss with just enough dressing to lightly coat. In another bowl, combine the asparagus tips, cut-up stems, and the peas. Toss this mixture with dressing as well. Place a serving of the arugula on each salad plate. Top arugula with a portion of the vegetables. Shave large slices of the parmesan cheese with a vegetable peeler, and add to the salads. Sprinkle on nuts, and serve.

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I totally enjoyed this salad. I used walnut oil and toasted walnuts, We ate it for Mothers Day dinner with a pork tenderloin on the grill and some creamy, cheesy polenta.

Also, lucky me, Kathryn baked a cake. Italian Wedding cake was the perfect dessert.

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May 24, 2009

Salad Samplers-- Grilled tuna Salad Nicoise

Here is a perfect summer salad--a full meal on a plate.

Grilled Tuna Salad Nicoise

The recipe below is to serve 2 people but clearly, you can just double it or triple it at will. Anyone who has read recipes I have posted in the past may remember that I am an rather loose in my interpretation of recipes but I hope that this fairly straightforward composed salad is easy to make.

Because I couldn’t decide which dressing is my favourite, I am giving two alternatives, one for a more traditional dressing and one for an Asian Dressing, which I think goes exceedingly well with the Tuna.

2 Tuna Steaks
2 cups Green Beans or asparagus - whichever is freshest (cut in half for presentation purposes)
2 cups cooked Potatoes (sliced, diced or quartered depending upon size)
12 Olives (use your favorite, or a mixture - obviously, nicoise are the classic)
1 Orange or yellow pepper
2 Green Onions
1 cup Grape or Cherry Tomatoes
1 hard boiled egg (if following classic recipe)
*Optional: spring baby carrots or radishes - scrubbed served whole

Dressing: (should be made up prior to cooking vegies)

Classic: (put all ingredients into a jar, cover and shake)
1/4 Red wine vinegar
2 small or one large shallot (minced finely)
4 T. olive oil (or toasted walnut or hazelnut oil)
½ t. anchovy paste (optional)
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 t. whole grain mustard
pinch of thyme

Asian (put all ingredients into a jar, cover and shake)
1/4 cup Rice Vinegar
4 T Sesame Oil
Garlic - 2 cloves crushed
Ginger - about 1 tablespoon grated
4 T olive oil

Steam or parboil green beans or asparagus until just tender crisp. Put into ice water to stop cooking process.
Cook small potatoes (fingerlings are an idea) whole. Let cool, cut into shape you desire and pour a small amount of dressing on and chill. I roast or grill the peppers and tomatoes (with a small amount of either dressing tossed on) I like to cook the tomatoes until they release their juice and carmelize a bit. (If you are using really fresh flavourful tomatoes, you don’t need to bother!)

Put tuna steaks on the grill, brush with dressing and cook to your preference.

Plating: I like to present it is a composed salad - so each ingredient is given it’s own space on the plate, including the Tuna. Arrange the two plates, dividing up the vegetables, drizzle with dressing and serve.

*Clearly, you can use any vegetable you desire to finish up your plating. I think that tiny carrots whole and whole radishes add impact and more nutrients to the meal.

I got three 1" tuna steaks for four of us and there was some left over. We got wonderfully fresh green beans at the Farmers market as well a beutifully red and flavorful grape tomatoes. The little, local red potatoes were perfectly sweet with a little bit of dressing tossed onto them while still warm. We drank a Wild Horse Chard. with it and it seeemed to work fine.

Cecelia made some garlicy fetunta on the grill, too.


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I loved doing little pieces of the plate all through the day so there was no big marathon cooking. The grilling part took about 3 minutes. I used the classic dressing recipe with walnut oil (skipped the anchovy paste in deference to Ken) and it was lovely.

May 31, 2009

Salad Samplers-- Fajita Salad

Kim, who is a great screener of Cooking Light recipes, posted this week's main dish salad.

Fajita Salad with Creamy Cilantro-Lime Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound skinned, boned chicken breast, cut into thin strips
Cooking spray
6 cups shredded romaine lettuce
1 1/3 cups thinly sliced green bell pepper rings
1 cup sliced red onion, separated into rings
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese
2 tablespoons sliced ripe olives
1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium tomato, cut into 8 wedges
Creamy Cilantro-Lime Sauce

Combine first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add chicken; toss to coat. Place a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat until hot. Add chicken mixture; sauté 8 minutes or until chicken is done. Set aside.

Divide lettuce and next 6 ingredients (lettuce through tomato) among 4 bowls; top with chicken mixture. Serve with Creamy Cilantro-Lime Sauce.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 serving salad, 3 ounces chicken, and 1/3 cup sauce)

CALORIES 520 (38% from fat); FAT 21.9g (sat 6g,mono 6.8g,poly 6g); IRON 5.4mg; CHOLESTEROL 101mg; CALCIUM 360mg; CARBOHYDRATE 34.7g; SODIUM 1061mg; PROTEIN 3.6g; FIBER 6.6g


Creamy Cilantro-Lime Sauce

This recipe goes with Fajita Salad with Creamy Cilantro-Lime Sauce

1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1/3 cup skim milk
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 large garlic cloves, minced

Combine all ingredients, and stir well with a whisk. Cover sauce, and chill.

Yield: 1 1/3 cups (serving size: 1/3 cup)

CALORIES 113 (65% from fat); FAT 8.1g (sat 1.2g,mono 2.4g,poly 4.2g); IRON 0.2mg; CHOLESTEROL 10mg; CALCIUM 32mg; CARBOHYDRATE 6.6g; SODIUM 254mg; PROTEIN 3.2g; FIBER 0.1g

Ken and I loved it! With a nice side of Indian nan and some Chateau St. Jean Fume Blanc, it made a wonderful summer supper.

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I am not a big olive fan, so I skipped them. I did cook the onions and peppers (half a red and half a green) in some olive oil, with a little bit of diced fresh jalapeno. Then I tossed them back into the cooked chicken and put them, quite warm, onto the greens and beans. The cheese got soft on top from the heat.
I loved the creamy sauce/dressing. Have to admit I used sour half and half and regulation mayo so the calorie count went up.

Thanks Kim for the tasty meal.

June 9, 2009

Salad Samplers--- Wild Rice Salad

This terrific recipe came from Deborah. It is very fresh tasting and would be a perfect side dish for any grilled meat or fish.

I got this recipe on the internet a few years ago. Unfortunately, I can't remember where in order to give proper credit.

The recipe is very easy. It keeps well and freezes well. You can serve it both chilled or at room temperature. Great for picnics where you don't want to worry about spoilage.

1 package - uncooked wild rice. (the original recipe called for wild rice blend, but I prefer the stronger flavors of only wild rice.)
2 cups - frozen roasted corn nibblets (I use Trader Joes)
1 cup - finely chopped celery
3/4 cup - shredded carrot
3/4 cup - Craisins
2/3 cup - toasted sunflower seeds
1/2 cup - finely chopped red onion
1/3 cup - raspberry vinegar
1 tbs - olive oil
1 tbs - low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp - grated orange peel
1/2 tsp - pepper

Cook rice according to package directions: omit salt and fat. Cool.
Combine rice, corn and all other ingredients in a bowl; stir well; chill overnight to blend flavors.
Serve cold from fridge or bring to room temp if you prefer. (I like room temp., Dan likes cold)

This makes a pretty big batch, so you might want to halve it.

My picture came out out of focus so I'm not posting it, but the salad looks very pretty with the flecks of red, green yellow and orange. I didn't use sunflower seeds but substituted some toasted, chopped cashews and they worked well. I loved the little bit of orange peel, brightening it up. I think I may use more next time. For the corn, I toasted the thawed frozen corn in a skillet, like we did once before for one of Jerry's soup recipes (I think it was his??) and it gave the corn a nice flavor and a little bit more texture.

I am quite sure I will be making this one again. Perfect for a covered dish meeting.

June 22, 2009

Salad Samplers-- Grilled Romain

Cindy Ruth's recipe was a big hit at my house. I think we would have loved it even more if we had a better quality of lettuce--that was the weakest link, here. I did leave out the anchovies for Ken, and also I didn't find the paste anywhere. But the lemony dressing was wonderful without them! It's been a really long time since I did homemade croutons and we loved them--nice and garlicky.

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Here's the recipe:

GRILLED ROMAINE SALAD Serves 4
2 heads romaine lettuce
Extra-virgin olive oil
Citrus Caesar Vinaigrette, recipe below
Parmigiano-Reggiano
Chopped tomatoes
Homemade croutons, if desired

Preheat grill to med-high.
Rinse and pat dry the lettuce. Cut the 2 heads in half lengthwise. Brush surface wtih olive oil and grill about 4 to 5 minutes total, turning occasionally. Place each wedge on a salad plate and drizzle with Citrus Caesar Vinaigrette. With a vegetable peeler, shave some pieces from a wedge of Reggiano-Parmigiano over each salad. Top with chopped tomatoes and homemade croutons and serve.

CITRUS CAESAR VINAIGRETTE
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons anchovy paste
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Place all ingredients in a pint jar with a lid. Secure the lid, then shake to blend. Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to a week.

We also ate a chicken breast with a little mushroom sauce and some squash, onions and red peppers with herbs.

Ken said it was too much food--after he cleaned his plate, totally. But I thought it was a really nice meal.

Thanks Cindy Ruth for the fresh take on our salads.

August 10, 2009

Salad Samplers--Cous Cous

When our son Josh was a little boy, sooo many years ago, he always asked for "cous". I think he thought we were talking baby talk by saying it twice. Anyway, I haven't made it very often in recent years so this salad, from fellow Venice lover Annie, was a nice reminder of how quick and easy cous cous is to cook.

Couscous Salad with Chickpeas, Dates & Cinnamon

3 green onions
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (preferably Vietnamese)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 (10 ounce) package couscous

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 (19 ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and
drained
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1/4 cup pinenuts, toasted
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
(optional)

Directions

Finely dice white end of green onions. Slice green parts of green onions and reserve for salad. Gently cook white onion pieces in olive oil 5-7 minutes in a medium saucepan. Stir in chicken broth, cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and red pepper. Bring to a boil; add couscous. Cover and remove pan from heat. Let stand 5 minutes.

Whisk together vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and olive oil in a small bowl.

Fluff couscous with a fork; put in a large bowl. Toss in sliced green onions, chickpeas, carrots, dates, pinenuts, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper; add vinaigrette and toss again. Serve right away or chill. Garnish with cilantro, if desired.

I had bulk cous cous from the New Leaf Market so I measured about 2 cups and used 1 3/4 cups of homemade chicken stock. (I have sworn off the canned stuff--If I don't have any in the freezer I just use water.) I found the salad was a little dry so I added a bit more oil and vinegar, and probably a quarter cup of chopped cilantro.

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We ate it with some grilled veggies and shrimp but it is hearty enough for eating alone for lunch--and really tasty!

August 16, 2009

Salad Samplers--Southern Potato Salad

Love this classic potato salad. It comes from Sandi, of the Whistle Stop Cafe, in Irondale, Alabama. I made it exactly like the recipe except, I used only about a quarter of an onion, chopped fine.

Southern Mustard Potato Salad
1-2 pounds potatoes
4-5 hard boiled eggs
1 sweet onion, diced
1/2 cup diced celery
1/4 cup pickle relish
3 Tbs spicy mustard
1/2 cup mayo
Clean potatoes then boil them whole. Once tender, 15-20 minutes, remove from heat and allow to cool. Dice onion and celery. Dice potatoes into large chunks.
In another bowl whisk together mayo, mustard and pickle relish. Add kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Stir all ingredients together. Finally, peel and slice the hard boiled eggs and stir those in as well. Serve warm or cold.

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It tastes like great diner potato salad. Just perfect! Thanks, Sandi.

August 30, 2009

Fig Tart

Publix had figs on sale this week and they were beautiful! Not local, they are long gone, but I just couldn't resist them.
So I made the Fig Tart recipe from Gina de Palma's "Dolce Italiano".

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And the amazing thing was--it tasted better than it looked! I used less honey than she called for in the recipe because the figs themselves were very sweet.
Hope you all enjoy it!

September 19, 2009

Ken's Birthday Dinner

Well, my sweet man turned 59. What did he want for dinner? "I don't know... but chocolate mousse for dessert." I know he wouldn't want anything too fussy and I know when we are in Italy he orders lamb so--
I got these beautiful Sliver Fern, organic, New Zealand baby lamb chops from Kent at Clusters & Hops. I just seasoned them with salt and pepper and rubbed a little garlic and dried thyme onto them and gave them a quick sear in the cast iron skillet--about 2 minutes per side. Perfect! I also made a simple vinegar mint sauce I found on epicurious which was nice but a little too much vinegar for me. We also ate some simple "cavolo nero" (tuscan kale) and gorgonzola mashed Yukon Golds. I'd never done the potatoes with gorgonzola before and I really loved it. For about 2 pounds of potatoes, I used about 2 ounces of the cheese, with the half and half and butter, which I thought was the perfect balance of flavors. You could still taste potatoes with an undercurrent of blue.

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For the mousse I used the recipe in Cook's Illustrated's Best Recipe cookbook. It was simple, classic and fabulous. I used a combination of Ghiridelli 60% and Sharfenberger 82% chocolates.

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We drank a NXNW cabernet which wasn't as wonderful as I remembered but still paired well with the meal.

So, Happy Birthday to Ken. He DID enjoy it!

December 20, 2009

Quail Eggs

I got a wonderful Christmas present from one of the kids at school-- 2 dozen quail eggs.

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With help of Theresa, Josh and Kathryn, peeling all the little eggs, we made beautiful deviled eggs. After adding finely chopped fresh tarragon, dill and a little marjoram into the mashed yolks with a little mayo, hot sauce, dijon, red wine vinegar. salt and pepper, Theresa piped them back into the whites:

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Here's the finished plate--sprinkled with the obligatory paprika, and some roasted red peppers to the side.

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What a treat! Thanks to the Miller family for the eggs.
Talk about small bites--these are perfection.

January 10, 2010

Biscotti for Indian dinner

Inspired by my great friend Lyn to blog more frequently, I decided to share the recipe for these yummy biscotti. Dinner last night included Shrimp Tikka Masala, basmati rice and many fresh and flavorful veggies from Anthony's garden. I couldn't decide what to do for dessert. Indian desserts? not for me. So I made up these biscotti and I think they're a keeper.

Ginger Coconut Biscotti

3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted
6 Tablespoons butter
3/4 cup sugar + 1 tablespoon
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped candied ginger

Heat oven to 325°
Toast coconut, stirring often, until golden.
Cream butter and sugar together, well.
Beat in eggs and extracts.
Combine dry ingredients and add to butter mixture.
Add ginger and coconut.

Form into 3 fat ropes--about 2 inches in diameter. Bake on cookie sheet for 25 to 30 minutes, until they start to show a little color. Cool on rack for 5 minutes. Slice, on the diagonal, into cookies. Return to cookie sheet and bake for another 20 minutes, turning over once, at the halfway point. Let cool on rack.

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A really nice end to a tasty meal with great wines and conversations.

January 21, 2010

Chicken Hash

I didn't know what I really felt like eating tonight. With about a half of a roasted chicken in the refrigerator, I knew I didn't want it just plain. I started cooking some onions, garlic, red peppers and kale and BAM! the light turned on--I could make a chicken hash! Here's what I did:

January Chicken Hash

1 medium onion diced
1/2 red pepper diced
1 bunch of "Tuscan" kale, chopped
3 cloves garlic chopped
2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
3-4 cups cubed cooked chicken
about 1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Saute the onions, kale, pepper and garlic in about 2 tablespoons of oil. When it started to get a little color, I turned it off and set it aside. Put the potatoes in the microwave for about 5 minutes--until just cooked. Cool a bit and chop into small cubes, about the same size as the chicken.
Heat remaining oil in a big skillet. Add the potato cubes, salt and pepper and brown them a little. Add the chicken and the vegetables. Stir it all up until heated through.

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YUM! This recipe lends itself to endless improvisation so if you make it you can do your own thing. My thing came out great!

January 26, 2010

Slow Suppers--Vegetable Stew

The weather is perfect for stew and this recipe from Shannon really fulfilled its hearty promise.

Squash, Pepper, Chard, and Corn Stew

1 medium onion, diced
3 – 5 garlic cloves, chopped
¾ pound banana squash, peeled and cut into pieces about ½ inch wide
2 – 3 T olive oil
1 t. Greek oregano
1 green pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 T. flour
2 T. chile powder
½ t. cumin
1 c. dry white wine
2 c. broth of choice
3 – 4 c. tomatoes, diced
½ bunch chard, blanched and cut into ribbons with the tougher stems cut away
1 ½ c. frozen corn
¾ c. sour cream or yogurt to taste
Chopped cilantro and green onions for garnish

Very lightly sauté the onion, garlic and squash in oil in a dutch oven or heavy-bottomed soup pot, then add oregano, red and green peppers, flour, chile powder and cumin. Stir together and cook for a minute or two longer.

Add wine, broth, and tomatoes, then cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes. Add chard and corn, then cook for a further 15-20 minutes.

Taste for seasoning. If stew is too liquid, pour off liquid into a small saucepan and boil down until reduced and richly flavored.

Just before serving, stir in sour cream or yogurt. Serve sprinkled with cilantro and green onions.

I didn't bother blanching the chard. I didn't use chili powder so I increased the oregano and cumin some and added about 1 teaspoon of Chipotle Tabasco and some crushed red pepper flakes. And I used water and the liquid from canned tomatoes instead of any broth.
This photo of is the stew cooking in the pot. It looked prettier served in a bowl with the yogurt dollop and chopped cilantro on top.

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Simple quinoa was perfect underneath to increase the protein.


February 7, 2010

Slow Suppes--Shimp and Crab Risotto

Here is a fabulous recipe!
Our good friend, slow traveler and fellow blogger Jerry posted this one. Thanks, Jerry.

Risotto al Granchio e Gamberi

Ingredients:
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
6 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 lb. shrimp, peeled, deveined and each cut into 4 or 5 pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
6 cups chicken or fish broth or water
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cups medium-grain rice such as arborio, vialone nano or carnaroli
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (about 1 cup)
1/2 lb. fresh-cooked crabmeat, picked over to remove any shell fragments

In a saucepan over medium heat, sauté the garlic and 2 Tbs. of the parsley in 2 Tbs. of the olive oil, stirring once or twice, until the garlic is fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the shrimp, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, just until the shrimp are pink, about 2 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to a plate and set aside. Add the broth to the saucepan and bring just barely to a simmer.

In a large saucepan or risotto pan over medium heat, warm 3 Tbs. of the oil. Add the onion and sauté until tender and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until the kernels are hot and coated with oil, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and continue to cook, stirring often, until the liquid is absorbed.

Add the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and making sure the liquid has been absorbed before adding more. When the rice is about half cooked, stir in the tomatoes, salt and pepper. The risotto is done when the rice grains are creamy on the outside and firm yet tender to the bite, 20 to 25 minutes total. Rice varies, so you may not need all of the broth or you may need more. If more liquid is required, use hot water.

Stir in the shrimp and crabmeat and cook, stirring, just until heated through, about 2 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Remove the risotto from the heat. Stir in the remaining 1 Tbs. each oil and parsley. Spoon the risotto into warmed soup bowls and serve immediately.
Serves 6 to 8

For a while I was thinking the rice would never cook. It definitely took longer than 25 minutes but I had just enough liquid and it came together beautifully at the end.
For the broth, I used 1 cup of bottled clam juice and the rest water.We are so lucky here to be able to buy fresh, local blue crab and sweet wild shrimp. I used the whole pound of crab--what the heck?
On the original Williams Sonoma recipe it suggests throwing in a handful of peas at the end, so I thawed out about 1/2 cup and added them with the seafood with, I have to admit, about a tablespoon of butter. The result could have been a little soupier "allonda" for my taste but the flavor was really nice. I loved that the shrimp and crab sang through and the rice was such a lovely background.

We drank an Oregon Pinot Gris with it, which I thought went perfectly.

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We made a nice, light salad with arugula, kale, mixed baby lettuces, celery, toasted almonds, fresh orange segments and a citrus vinegrette.

This is not a great dinner party recipe because it requires lots of attention and them has to be served quickly. But I made it for Cecelia's birthday--not too formal, at all.
We all had clean plates and there's enough left over for at least 2 more full portions.

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February 21, 2010

Slow Suppers--Chicken Stir Fry

Here's an easy weekday chicken stir fry. You have to get a hold of some ingredients which may require a trip to an Asian food store.

Cashew Chicken Stir-Fry

cooking oil
2 to 3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, finely diced
4 boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size cubes or strips
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
3 Tbsp. oyster sauce
1 tsp. sugar
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow squash, diced
1 zucchini, diced
8 oz. jelly, oyster or shitake mushrooms, sliced
red-eye chili pepper to taste,seeded and finely chopped
1/3 cup chicken broth
1 tsp. corn starch(optional)
1/2 cup unsalted cashews

Heat 2 to 3 Tbsp. of vegetable oil in a large skillet. Add garlic and onions and stir-fry until browned. Sear chicken on both sides for about three minutes(I use the sides of the skillet).(The chicken should be almost fully cooked at this point, if need to, cook for longer). Add fish sauce, oyster sauce and sugar and mix for another minute. Add vegetables and stir-fry for a minute or two. Add the chicken broth, cover and simmer for three to four minutes until vegetables are tender and chicken is fully cooked.

If you wish to thicken the sauce, use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken and vegetables to a plate, and add cornstarch to the sauce whisking for a minute or two until sauce is thickened. Transfer the chicken and vegetables back to the skillet to keep warm.



We served this with brown rice, plenty of chopped cilantro and chopped cashews.

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slow suppers--lamb shanks Morrocan Style

This was great fun! Although lamb is not my favorite protein Ken really loves it so I went for it. The recipe we used actually called for goat shanks but Ken was adamant that he would not eat "a" goat.
The original recipe was from Paula Wolfert but we got it from Deborah Horn via a San Francisco blog called Figments.

Here's the Figments recipe:

Goat Tagine with Fennel and Olives


6 meaty goat shanks

Sea Salt
Freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced in half lengthwise, then into 1/4-inch slices lengthwise
2 medium bulbs of fennel, cut in half lengthwise, then into 1/4-inch slices lengthwise
1 large pinch of saffron threads, lightly finger-crushed
6 medium garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons freshly toasted, ground coriander seed
1 teaspoons freshly toasted, ground cumin
2 teaspoons freshly toasted, ground fennel seed
3 tablespoons honey
3/4 cup fresh tomato peeled and chopped, or good boxed/canned chopped tomatoes
4 cups of chicken stock or water
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 bunch fresh coriander (cilantro), stem and all, tied with butcher string
1/2 cup oil-cured olives
1 large preserved lemon, rinsed and quartered

Preheat oven to 375. Salt and pepper the goat shanks. Brown them over medium-high heat in a large, deep casserole that will fit all the meat and go in the oven. Remove shanks from the pan and add olive oil, onions and half the fennel and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the saffron, garlic, ginger and all spices and cook another 5 minutes. Add the honey and tomatoes and cook a few minutes. Add stock and tuck shanks back into pot along with the cinnamon stick and tied cilantro. Bring to a simmer. Cover and braise in the oven until tender, about 3 hours. Check every so often; add more liquid if necessary. Add olives, lemon and remaining fennel to the stew the last 15 minutes of cooking. It is finished when the fennel is tender and the meat is buttery and falling off the bone. Taste and season as necessary.

This was a really a culinary adventure--a flavor profile with which I am mostly unfamilar and some unusual ingredients. I never thought about cooking lamb shanks before. The hunt for preserved lemons in Tallahassee proved futile so I put in a few slices of fresh lemon. I think it would have been better to add just a tiny bit, a teaspoon? of vinegar for the acid that the preserved lemons might have added.


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The overall dish was not my favorite. Too rich for me and I am not a big lamb fan. But I loved the process.

We ate it with some cous cous and some simple kale. We drank a cheap Cabernet with it and I thought that worked.

February 28, 2010

Slow Suppers-- Osso Buco Soup

Well, I'm not a big Rachel Ray fan but I have to say this was a very satisfying recipe. Ken and I both enjoyed it, very much.
First off, she calls it "stoup" (a blend of soup and stew) but I can hardly bare to type the word. It turned out to be soup, here.

Here's the link to her original recipe from the food network site:
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/zuppa-osso-buco-recipe/index.html

I made a few changes. Ken will not eat veal so I used half ground turkey breast and half ground pork for the little meatballs. They were really tasty, not too heavy or greasy and the nutmeg was a nice touch. I used the full half teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg. I used all chicken broth; I had some homemade in my freezer.

And I used bow ties/farfalle instead of egg noodles--cooked them separately and added them to each bowl.
One last change, another bow to Ken's culinary idiosynchrasies, no anchovies in the gremolata. It was still a flavor boost with the garlic and lemon zest.

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Perfect Sunday, one-dish supper, following the great Olympic Hockey show down. Congratulations to my Canadian friends!

March 22, 2010

Slow Suppers--Braised Turkey Thighs

For a long time I thought, I don't have to do my recipe until AFTER San Diego. Now, poof. It's here and I made it on Sunday. This is one of Ken's all time favorite dinners. We usually have it over pasta or polenta but this time I had just enough left over mashed potatoes and we ate it over them. Luscious!

Here's the Recipe:

Braised Turkey Thighs

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 turkey thighs
1 cup dry white wine
2 large onions, diced
4 medium carrots diced
3 medium stalks of celery diced
8 oz. Mushroom, sliced
4 medium cloves garlic minced
1 1/2 cups chicken stock or water
2 bay leaves
1 28 oz. Can crushed tomatoes
parmesan cheese rind (if available)

¼ cup chopped parsley for garnish

Pre heat oven to 325
Heat 2 tbs oil in a Dutch oven, over medium high.
Salt and pepper both sides of the thighs.
Brown them, about 6 minutes each side, in the oil.
Remove from pot. Pour off all the fat.
Add the next 2 tbs to the pot to get hot. Then add the onions, carrots and celery and cook about 7 or 8 minutes until soft. Add the mushrooms and garlic for another couple of minutes. Add the wine and deglaze the pot (scrape up the brown bits left on the bottom).
Mix in the stock or water, the crushed tomatoes, bay leaves and more salt and pepper. Add the cheese rind, if you have one. Remove the skin from the turkey thighs and return them to the pot, nestling them down into the liquid. It should just cover the thighs. Bring it up to a boil and then put into the oven with the lid on.

Cook until the meat is falling off the bones—about an hour and a half—maybe 2.

I boughts some great looking shitakes at the Farmers market and they worked well in here. Sometimes I add fresh rosemary to this dish, or some lemon zest and chopped parsley (gremolatta) at the end.

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I just have to add this little snapshot from our flower/herb/butterfly garden. The dafs are amazing this year!

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Enjoy spring, friends.

jan

May 2, 2010

Slow Suppers--Chicken with Fennel

Wow! We loved this recipe! The flavors were just perfect, rich and earthy but elegant. Just plain delicious! Thanks to Palma for sharing it. Although the recipe is for rabbit, Ken would NEVER dream of eating a rabbit (he's such a sensitive soul). So I used 4 chicken thighs and 4 legs.

Coniglio al Forno con Finoccio

2 1/2-2 3/4 lb rabbit, cut into 8 pieces
or 8 chicken thighs

Seasoning the Rabbit
1 large clove of garlic (I used 4)
1 1/2 inch sprig of rosemary (I used 4)
1/2 t. salt (I'm sure I used a t. of sea salt)
1/8 t. pepper

Cooking the Chicken
2 bulbs fennel cut into 1 1/2 " wedges
1 large onion, cut into 1 1/2 " wedges
3 oz. pancetta, minced
3 cloves of garlic, split
1 t. fennel seeds
1/2 c. coarsely chopped fennel leaves
4 T. extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 c. white wine

Pan Sauce
1/4 c. white wine
1/2 c. chicken stock

The rabbit or chicken tastes best when seasoned one day ahead. I blended the first four ingredients in the food processor with a drizzle of olive oil to make a paste. Rub on the rabbit pieces, and refrigerate overnight in a ziplock.

Two hours and 15 minutes before you would like to eat, preheat the oven to 350. Use a roasting pan or baking dish large enough to hold the rabbit pieces and onions and fennel. Scatter fennel, onion, pancetta, garlic, and fennel seeds around and between the pieces, and put half the fennel leaves on top. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast 30 minutes.

Add wine, and roast for another hour. Baste every 15 minutes with pan juices. If pan becomes too dry, add a little more wine or water. (Mine was nice and juicy.)

Raise the heat to 450. Cook 15 more minutes until rabbit becomes golden brown. Turn rabbit pieces, and roast another 15 minutes, basting once more. Veggies should be caramelized.

Transfer rabbit and vegetables to a heated platter and keep warm in the oven while you make a quick pan sauce. Set the roasting pan over two burners on high heat, and deglaze with the wine and stock. Scrape any brown pieces from pan and boil down liquid to about half. (Be careful of heat level if you are using a pyrex pan). Deglaze for 3-5 minutes. Scatter remaining fennel leaves over rabbit and serve sauce in gravy boat or bowl alongside rabbit.

I used a little bit more pancetta and I loved biting into a little cube of it while eating. I served it over Farfalle pasta. Really--you've gotta try this one!

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July 19, 2010

Yummy Summer Crostata

Inspired by the gorgeous, local, organic figs and blueberries at the Farmers market I made this and, even I, thought it was fantastic.

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I tried a new crust recipe from an Italian cookbook and tweaked it bit, replacing some of the flour with cornmeal (about 1/4 cup). This crust is called pasta frolla--it has eggs and lemon zest in it. Just roll it out like a pie crust and place it into the plate. After you get the filling inside, fold the edges over. I wish I had bigger edges, so I took the scraps and made the center circle. Not exactly traditional but cute.

The filling is what really made it wonderful.

The figs were small and I quartered them--probably about 2 cups worth.
6 oz of raspberries
1 cup of blueberries
rounded tablespoon full of flour
1/4 cup of sugar (really depends on how sweet the fruit is)
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon grated orange zest

Toss the fruit with the other ingredients and put into the crust. Dot with about 1 tablespoon of butter.

After folding over the crust and placing the center circle, I brushed it with some cream and sprinkled it with turbinado sugar.
Baked it at 350° for about 35 minutes.

I served it with whipped cream.

What really made it great for me was the flavor combination of the honey with the figs, accented by the tartness of the berries.
Try it!

July 30, 2010

Mango Chutney

When mangoes get really cheap I buy a bunch and make mango chutney. Years ago I used to make pear chutney every summer but our pear tree stopped producing so I've switched to mangoes. They're really prettier than pears anyway.

Cutting up the mangoes is fun because you get to do this:

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I set aside all the pretty cubes with some raisins, vinegar and sugar.

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Then I make a seasoning paste out of a whole bunch of ingredients--onion, garlic, ginger, lots of seeds and spices--and cook it for about 10 minutes. I used roasted peanut oil this time. This is really the fun part because you can put in all kinds of flavors. I love using star anise and stick cinnamon in mine.

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Then I add in the mangoes and cook it for a long time--about 2 hours at a low simmer.

And there it is:

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I put it into pint jars. Using 8 mangoes I got about 4 pints.
Some of them I put into the freezer and some I give as gifts.

It is great with a plain grilled chicken breast, or with rice and lentils.

August 12, 2010

Roasted Okra

Yes! Roasted okra.
It's a revelation, a great discovery for local, summer eating, a trick I learned from my old friend Rebecca Terrell.
This was the second time I tried it with great results.
In our CSA bag this week I found red and green okra, as well as some very small (about the size of a jumbo olive) bright orange eggplants. I decided to throw them in, too.
After removing the little end cap they are all sliced length wise and tossed with some nice olive oil.

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I put them into an old sheet pan and put them on the preheated grill for about 15 minutes. You have to watch them carefully; the first time I got distracted and a few of the okra burned a bit.
When they seem done (see how caremelized they get in the picture below) hit them with a good amount of kosher salt and serve.

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Try it--you'll like it. No slime, no mush, just a wonderful healthy veggie treat.

September 9, 2010

Late summer take on Caponata

I am pretty sure that traditional caponata has black olives but they are absent in this recipe--mainly because I just never really enjoy them.
Ingredients at the ready include the eggplants from the CSA and basil and oregano from our garden.

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4 stalks celery, chopped
2 medium Italian (long) eggplants, diced, salted and drained in colander for about 30 minutes
1 large red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
Olive oil
1/3-cup raisins
1/2 can (about 3/4 cup) diced tomatoes
1-cup fresh grape or cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1-tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons thinly slice fresh basil


In the pan:

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Sauté, celery, in olive oil, first, for about 6 minutes softened and a little brown; set aside.
Add about 1/4 cup oil and reheat skillet. Add eggplant to hot oil and cook until softened and slightly browned; add to celery.
Add about 1 more tablespoon to pan and cook onion and pepper about 6 more minutes. Add cherry tomatoes and cook about 3 more minutes. Stir in raisins and oregano.
Add canned tomatoes, celery and eggplant and cook on medium low for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in capers, basil, vinegar and sugar. Chill in refrigerator.

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February 6, 2011

Cecelia's Birthday Cake

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OK, so I made a really beautiful cake but what good is it if it doesn't really taste great. Too bad for us.
Cecelia requested a Hummingbird Cake.
I used a recipe from Scott Peacock of Watershed Restaurant in Atlanta, someone I consider to be a reliable source. And the recipe is all over the internet. Sometimew using pecans and sometimes walnuts. I went with the walnuts.

Possible causes for the lack of results:

The pineapple was super juicy--maybe too much liquid?
The bananas weren't ripe enough. Has anyone found a ripe banana in a market lately. I called all over town and there were none. I tried putting them in a paper bag with an apple over night. Maybe it helped a little but not enough.

The cake was well pulled away from the sides of the pan and the center was still not done?????

Dang!

I think I'll cross this one off my list.

February 19, 2011

(almost) John Stone's Butternut Squash Soup

My friend Betsy brought her husband John's beautiful orange soup to school one day and it was love at first taste for me. Velvety smooth and with just enough kick, it makes a perfect small first course. Garnished with some shrimp and a side salad and bread, it's lunch.
I've made it three times and here's the recipe I've come up with.

2 small to medium Butternut squash
2 medium onions, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 inch piece of ginger root, chopped
1 TBS. Red Thai curry paste
1 can Coconut milk

Salt and pepper
Juice of fresh lime (or wedges)
Chopped cilantro
Siracha

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I used 2 smaller butternuts; I think the flavor is nicer in the smaller ones.


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Cut them in half and roast them at 400° until your knife goes in easily. Let them cool, remove the seeds, skin and chop into cubes.

In a pot, sauté the aromatics for a while—about 8 minutes.

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Add the garlic and ginger and continue to cook another minute.
Add the Thai seasoning, salt and about 8 cups of water.
Cook it, on low heat, for about an hour.
Add the coconut milk and squash cubes.
Simmer another half hour and puree with an emersion bender (jar blender would work fine, I’m sure).

Garnish with chopped cilantro—I forgot and mixed it all into the soup but it looks prettier on top. Squeeze in some fresh lime and a little Siracha, to taste.

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