Spicy Greens with Pan-Roasted Corn and Creamy Manchego Dressing

Spanish SaladHere’s an excellent special occasion salad full of the flavors of Spain… Serrano ham, Marcona almonds and Manchego cheese. You can substitute Prosciutto for the Serrano and regular almonds for the Marconas, if you need to. And although parmesan could stand in for the Manchego, it really won’t be quite the same.  Manchego has topped the list of my favorite cheeses for the last few years so I’m very happy that it is widely available these days.

This lovely salad comes from Chef Henry Salgado of Spanish River Grill in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. It is adapted from Field to Feast, Recipes Celebrating Florida Farmers, Chefs and Artisans.

Spicy Greens with Roasted Corn and Creamy Manchego Dressing

Serves 6
By author margaret @ The Right Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup grated Manchego cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonaise
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk (or more as needed)
  • 1 tablespoon minced green onion
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels
  • 1 bunch spicy greens (such as arugula, dandelion or mustard, or a mixture)
  • 2 tablespoons Marcona almonds
  • 4-5 thin slices Serrano ham

Directions

1. Combine Manchego, sour cream, mayonnaise, buttermilk, green onions, sugar, Worcestershire, hot sauce, salt and pepper in a food processor or blender and process until smooth and creamy, adding more buttermilk if necessary to achieve desired consistency. Cover and set aside.
2. Heat olive oil in a medium sauté pan over high heat. Cook corn until golden brown then remove from pan. Lower heat to medium and cook the Serrano ham slices until crisped…this will only take a few seconds per side. Cut ham into slivers. Toss corn with the fresh greens and and dressing (you won't need to use it all) and toss to coat well. Garnish salad with the crispy ham and almonds. Season with fresh ground black pepper if desired.

Chopped Salad with Lemon Chipotle Dressing

chopped saladWhile we endure one last (hopefully) chilly winterish night here in North Carolina, I turned to the summertime chapter of Weeknight Fresh and Fast, by Kristine Kidd and put together this tasty main course salad.  Using cherry tomatoes instead of garden fresh heirlooms was my only concession to the fact that it is not yet summer.

Use the chipotle chilies in adobo to control the spiciness of the dressing.  I minced a small chili then added about 2 teaspoons of the sauce for extra smokey flavor without a huge amount of heat.  Taste as you go to get it right for you and your family.

Enjoy this salad now, but be sure to save it, pin it, or bookmark it for this summer when you want a wonderful no-cook dinner and the basil is growing right outside your kitchen door.

Chopped Salad with Lemon Chipotle Dressing

Serves 3-4
From magazine margaret @ The Right Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 roasted chicken
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly minced basil
  • 1 Small shallot (peeled and minced)
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle chilies (from a can of chipotle chilies with adobo, minced with sauce)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cucumber (cut in half lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch)
  • 12 cherry tomatoes (diced)
  • 1 red bell pepper (diced)
  • 1 Large romaine lettuce heart (chopped)
  • 1 Large avocado (diced)

Directions

1. Pull the chicken meat from the bones, discarding the skin. Cut the meat into bite-sized pieces and transfer to a large salad bowl. In a small bowl, combine the mustard and lemon juice and whisk to blend. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Mix in the basil, shallot and chipotle with its sauce. Season the dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Mix 1/4 cup of the dressing into to chicken and let it marinate while preparing the remaining ingredients.
2. Mix the cucumbers, tomatoes, and bell pepper into the chicken. Mix in the lettuce. Add enough dressing to lightly coat the ingredients, Taste and adjust the seasoning. Gently mix in the avocado and serve.

 

Crispy Chicken with Two Mustards

crispy mustard chicken-3If there is a bad recipe in Cook What You Love, By Bob and Melinda Blanchard, I have yet to find it.  I turned to this one night when I needed to get dinner prepped ahead of time and only had a few boring boneless, skinless chicken breasts at hand.

The chicken is coated in a mixture that includes two mustards.  Look closely and you can see the seeds from the whole grain mustard…it seems like a lot and the coating mixture is thick, but trust me, it works. The flavors are spot on.

Look for smallish chicken breast halves…I used Bell and Evans.  For starters, they almost always taste best but also, by the time you pound them out and add the coating, even a small piece of chicken becomes humongous. Just a quarter-inch of oil and a non-stick skillet make this a super easy fried chicken dinner.

Crispy Chicken with Two Mustards

Serves 4
By author margaret @ The Right Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 2 Large egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cup panko
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (small)
  • olive oil for sautéing

Directions

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the mustards, egg yolks, and cream and set aside.
2. Place the flour, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl and mix well. Place the bread crumbs in another shallow bowl and set aside as well.
3. Trim the chicken breasts, cover with a piece of plastic wrap and using a meat mallet, pound each one to 1/4 inch thickness. Dredge each piece in the seasoned flour, shaking off the excess. Dip into the mustard mixture and coat thoroughly. Finish by coating with the bread panko, patting gently to adhere.
4. At this point, you can lay the chicken on a baking sheet, cover with plastic and refrigerate for several hours…or continue with the recipe right away.
5. In a large non-stick sauté pan, heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom generously over medium high heat. Cook the chicken, leaving it undisturbed until golden brown on each side and cooked through…about 3-4 minutes per side.
6. Serve with additional freshly ground black pepper and minced chives or parsley.

Tuna Souvlaki with Greek Salsa

Tuna with Greek SalsaHere’s a recipe for Gertrude in Chicago, IL who is looking for Just The Right Tuna Recipe.  This is a dish that you will be able to throw together on a work/school night but it is also beautiful and delicious enough to serve at any dinner party.

Sharpen your knife and get those salsa ingredients chopped finely so that you will get all the flavors in each bite.  As for the tomatoes, just buy whatever looks best at the market.  Cherry tomatoes tend to be the best bet in the winter and plum tomatoes would be a good choice for this salsa during the summer months.  Either way, remember to remove the seeds and pulp so that the salsa won’t get watery after you add the salt.

Some people like their tuna just barely seared and others a bit more well done.  This recipe works brilliantly either way and the individual skewers make cooking to order a breeze.

I’m taking requests so let me know if you are looking for Just The Right ____Recipe! (fill in the blank)

Tuna Souvlaki with Greek Salsa

Serves 4
By author margaret @ The Right Recipe

Ingredients

greek salsa

  • 1 1/2 cup seeded and finely chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 1/2 cup cubed feta cheese (tiny cubes about 1/4 inch)
  • 12 Greek olives (finely chopped)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

tuna

  • 1 1/2lb fresh Ahi tuna
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • lemon (zested)
  • 1 generous pinch red pepper flakes (or more, to taste)
  • salt and pepper

Directions

1. Make the salsa: In a medium bowl, mix together the tomatoes, onion, feta, olives, parsley, olive oil and salt and pepper. Set aside at room temperature.
2. Cut the tuna into 1 1/2 inch pieces. In a medium bowl, combine the olive oil, oregano, lemon zest and red pepper flakes. Add the tuna to the bowl and toss gently to combine. Let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes or cover and refrigerate if you are prepping ahead of time.
3. Thread the tuna onto metal or wooden skewers and lay them on a baking tray. Season them on both sides with a bit of salt and pepper. Heat a ridged grill pan over high heat. Wipe or spray the surface with olive oil. Sear the tuna skewers over high heat until cooked to your liking, turning just once.
4. Serve hot, or at room temperature, with the greek salsa.

Proud Larry’s Grilled Chicken Salad

Proud Larry's Chicken Salad

Grilled chicken salad is usually a safe bet for lunch so like most of us, I’ve ordered it countless times and tasted countless versions.

It should always be good…it’s pretty hard to mess up….yet rarely am I blown away.  But  Proud Larry’s,  a fixture in Oxford, Mississippi for the last 20 years, proved to me that a simple grilled chicken salad can still impress.  The ingredients are fresh and the chicken is tender and warm.  However, it’s probably the homemade Citrus-Cumin Dressing that makes this salad so memorable.

Here is my copycat recipe and I think it comes pretty close to the original.   This tasty combination will become a favorite to serve for lunch or dinner.

Proud Larry’s Grilled Chicken Salad

Serves 6
By author margaret@TheRightRecipe

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 1 cup grapeseed oil (or other light vegetable oil)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 16oz fresh spring greens
  • 1/2 Small red onion (thinly sliced)
  • 8oz button mushrooms (stemmed and thinly sliced)
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds (lightly toasted)
  • 1/2 cup finely crumbled feta cheese
  • 6 Small chicken breast halves (grilled...see note below.)

Note

Go to No-Stick Grilled Chicken Marinade recipe for best grilled chicken for this salad.

Directions

1. For the vinaigrette, place first 6 ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake well. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary adding a pinch of salt and pepper as well. (Oranges and lemons can have different levels of sweet/sour so always taste and tweak)
2. In a large bowl, toss together the greens, red onions, mushrooms and almonds. Shake vinaigrette well and drizzle about 1/2 cup over the greens. Toss to coat well and add more vinaigrette if desired.
3. Divide salad between 6 shallow bowls, sprinkle each with a bit of feta and top with warm, sliced grilled chicken and serve right away with additional ground black pepper to taste.

No-Stick Marinade for Grilled Chicken

No-Stick Marinade for ChickenThis all-purpose marinade for chicken is a great recipe to have in your repertoire.  What you get is nicely seasoned chicken that is versatile enough to add to almost any salad, sandwich or pasta. It also makes grilling easy by creating a lovely non-stick exterior. The recipe is (only slightly adapted) from New South Grilling, by Robert St. John and he notes that it can be use on any poultry, even as a pre-baste and seasoning for your Thanksgiving turkey.

Click here for an excellent recipe featuring this chicken… Proud Larry’s Gilled Chicken Salad.

No-Stick Marinade for Grilled Chicken

Serves 2 1/2 cups
By author margaret @ The Right Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup light vegetable oil (such as grapeseed)
  • 1 cup light olive oil
  • warm water as needed
  • 2 tablespoons Lawry's Seasoned Salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lemon pepper seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons celery salt

Directions

1. Place the egg yolks, mustard, and vinegar in a food processor. Blend for 1-2 minutes.
2. Slowly drizzle oils into the mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time. If the marinade becomes too thick, add 1-2 tablespoons of warm water. Once all of the oil has been incorporated, add seasoned salt, garlic powder, white pepper, lemon pepper, and celery salt until incorporated.
3. Mixture should have consistency of mayonnaise. Store covered in the refrigerator until needed. (will keep for 2 weeks)
4. Brush liberally onto chicken 1-2 hours before grilling.

 

Banana Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake

banana coffee cakeWhat do you need to know about this lovely banana coffee cake?  Well, it uses 4 of those bruised up, way too ripe to eat straight-out, bananas. It has a clever method for creating a gentle cinnamon swirl and a yummy big crumb topping out of one simple and easy mixture.  It gets its moisture from a large dose of creamy Greek yogurt and will keep for several days if you wrap it well.  I think it may even taste best at day 2, when all the flavors have had time to hang out a bit. Oh, and it makes your kitchen smell amazing!

Banana Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake

Serves 15
By author margaret @ The Right Recipe

Ingredients

cake

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Large eggs (at room temperature)
  • 1 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt (whole or 2%)
  • 4 over- ripe bananas (mashed)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

swirl and topping

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cups light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (cold, divided)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a tube pan with a removable bottom.
2. For the cake: Using a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and granulated sugar until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat well. Add the yogurt, bananas and vanilla and beat until combined. Add the flour, baking soda and salt and mix until just combined. (do not over mix after you add the dry ingredients)
3. Make the Swirl and Topping mixture. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Take 6 tablespoons of the cold butter and grate it into the flour/sugar mixture, using a large hole grater. Reserve the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter (to add later) Use your fingers to rub the grated butter into the dry mixture until you have a crumbly dry consistency.
4. Spoon half of the batter into the prepared tube pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Sprinkle half of the Swirl and Topping mixture over the batter in the pan. Now add the rest of the cake batter to the pan and once again, smooth it gently to cover the swirl and even out the surface. Melt the 2 tablespoons of butter that you reserved from earlier and pour it into the remaining cinnamon swirl mixture. Stir with a fork to moisten all of the crumbs. Use your fingers help the mixture clump together then sprinkle them on the top of the cake batter, a thick layer covering the entire surface.
5. Bake 1 hour, or until cake is golden around the edges and cake tester, or long wooden skewer, comes out clean ( crumbs attached is fine…just no wet batter) Let cool 30 minutes before removing coffee cake from pan.

Salmon with Balsamic Thai Chile Glaze

Salmon Balsamic Thai Chile-5If you like teriyaki anything you will love this salmon recipe. However, the flavors are infinitely more complex and fresh tasting than what you might find in a bottled glaze from the Asian food aisle. This is that kind of sweet/tart glaze that is a decadent treat for adults and might just get kids to try fish for the first time.  I like to cut the salmon fillets in half crosswise so each piece has an approximately even thickness and can be cooked accordingly. Adapted from The New Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook, by Ellen Brown.

Salmon with Balsamic Thai Chile Glaze

Serves 6
By author margaret @ The Right Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 scallions
  • 1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup sweet Thai chile sauce
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 4-6 salmon fillets (skinless)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

Directions

1. Slice the green tops of the scallions and set aside to use as a garnish. Mince the white parts and put into a small bowl with the sesame oil, garlic and ginger. In another small bowl, stir together the chile sauce, brown sugar, soy sauce, and balsamic vinegar. Set all of these aside while you sear the salmon.
2. Heat a 12 inch cast iron skillet over hight heat. Add the vegetable oil and coat the pan evenly. Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper. Add the salmon fillets to the hot skillet and sear until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Gently turn the fillets with a spatula and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until the fish is just barely cooked through. Remove from the skillet and cover to keep warm. Wipe out the skillet with paper towels and return it to the stove, turning the heat down to medium.
3. Add the sesame oil, garlic, ginger, scallion mixture and stir, about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the chile sauce, brown sugar, soy and vinegar mixture and cook, stirring 2-3 minutes until syrupy. Stir in the lime juice.
4. Return the salmon to the skillet with the glaze. Use a brush or a spoon to liberally coat the filets and warm gently. Garnish with the scallion greens and serve with freshly ground black pepper.

My Best Southern Cornmeal Muffins

corn bread muffinsWhite or yellow cornmeal, sugar or no sugar, cast iron or not….it’s a waste of time to argue over what constitutes the perfect southern cornbread recipe.

The fact of the matter is that you like what you grew up with, what your mother and grandmother served at Sunday dinner after church, the last thing to come out of the oven as the call to table was sounded. If you timed it right, you could grab one while it was still almost too hot to touch and slice it open to insert a big pat of butter, remembering to put the top back on quickly so the melting butter would permeate both halves at once.

This is my idea of the perfect cornbread muffin.  Shatteringly crisp on the bottom and sides with almost a pudding-like moistness on the inside.

The ingredients are basic.  It’s the technique that stands between ho-hum and yum-yum.

My Best Southern Cornbread Muffins

Serves 6-12
By author margaret at The Right Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 cups self-rising white corn meal mix (look for Martha White or White Lily brands)
  • 1 Large egg
  • 2 cups buttermilk (whole buttermilk, if you can find it)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (plus a bit more for greasing the muffin tin)
  • butter for serving

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Put cornmeal mix in a medium bowl. Beat the egg in a 4 cup pyrex measuring cup (or another medium bowl), add buttermilk and vegetable oil and mix until smooth. Pour buttermilk mixture over the cornmeal and stir until combined. Do not over mix…a few small lumps are fine. Set aside while you prepare the pan.
2. Grease a 12-count muffin tin by drizzling 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of vegetable oil in each cup and spreading it around, making sure to coat the sides. Place muffin tin in the hot oven until very hot….you should be able to smell the pan and the oil cooking almost, but not quite, burning …this will only take 5-6 minutes if your oven is nice and hot.
3. Carefully take the hot pan out of the oven and immediately fill with cornmeal batter, each cup about 3/4 full. The batter should sizzle and pop as you pour it in. Do this quickly and immediately return the pan to the hot oven. Bake until dark golden brown, 15-20 minutes.
4. When the muffins come out of the oven, immediately remove them from the pan (otherwise the crusts will steam and turn soft) Serve right away with salted butter.
5. Note: The muffins will still be great for a couple of hours but they are so amazing straight out of the oven that you'll have to try one, slathered with salted butter, right away.

Fresh Shrimp Salad with Lime

Fresh Shrimp Salad with LimeYou know that the Super Bowl party you are going to will have lots of great food…chips and dips, fried things, BBQ things, and sweets galore.  So I propose making this absolutely delicious shrimp salad to add something light and fresh to the festivities.

You can make it several hours in advance….just hold off on adding the salt and the fresh cilantro until serving time if you do.  The flavors will be perfect with all the traditional party favorites and you will not be packing up any leftovers after the game.  Another beautiful recipe adapted from Simply Mexican, by Lourdes Castro.

Fresh Shrimp Salad with Lime

Serves 6-12
By author margaret at The Right Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2lb shrimp (peeled, deveined, and cut in half lengthwise)
  • 1 carton cherry tomatoes (quartered)
  • 1 Small red bell pepper (thinly sliced)
  • 1/4 red onion (thinly sliced)
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves (chopped)
  • 1-2 fresh jalapeño pepper (stemmed and chopped, with or without seeds…they contain most of the heat)
  • 2 avocado (pitted, peeled and chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • black pepper (to taste)
  • 7 limes
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

1. Cook the shrimp: Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare a large bowl of ice water and set aside. Add the shrimp to the boiling water and cook for exactly one minute. Remove the shrimp from the pot with a slotted spoon and immediately add to the ice water to cool thoroughly. Drain and dry the shrimp a bit on paper towels then put them in a clean bowl.
2. Add the tomatoes, red pepper, onion, cilantro, jalapeño, and avocado to the shrimp. Season with salt and pepper and toss lightly.
3. Make the dressing: Finely zest 3 of the limes and juice 6 of them. Combine juice and zest in a small bowl and mix in horseradish, ketchup and olive oil. Pour the dressing over the shrimp and vegetables and toss. Check seasonings and adjust if necessary.
4. Garnish with extra cilantro and lime wedges.

Roasted Red Onion Salad with Dijon Balsamic Dressing

 

Roasted Red Onion Salad

Although this salad is really quite season-less, it seems particularly well suited to these cold winter months.  The red onions, deeply caramelized in a hot oven, are a wonderful match for the buttery Manchego cheese and crispy pine nuts.

The recipe will make twice the dressing that you need so store it into a recycled bottle in the frig and use it on any salad you make this week…it’s an all-around great vinaigrette.  If you happen to have the grill fired up, you can grill the onions in about half the time that it takes to roast them.

Roasted Red Onion Salad with Dijon Balsamic Dressing

Serves 8-12
By author margaret at The Right Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper (each)
  • 2 Large red onions (peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices)
  • olive oil (to brush onions before roasting)
  • 5oz baby arugula (washed and dried)
  • 1 head red leaf variety of lettuce (washed, dried and torn into bite sized pieces)
  • 1/2 cup pinenuts (lightly toasted in a dry skillet, pay attention)
  • 1/2 cup manchego cheese shavings (use a vegetable peeler)

Directions

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the mustard and the vinegar. Slowly add both oils, while whisking, until incorporated. Add salt and pepper. Set aside at room temperature.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush both sides of the onion slices with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Place on a rimmed baking sheet, in a single layer, and roast 15-20 minutes, turning once half way through. The onions should have caramelized brown edges and be very soft in the middle. Remove from baking sheet to a cutting board and let cool. When cool, cut into bite sized pieces.
3. In a large bowl, toss both lettuces with the onions and toasted pine nuts. Drizzle with the Dijon balsamic dressing and toss again. Sprinkle with cheese shavings and serve.

 

Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette

Chipotle Meatballs with Crema

Chipotle Meatballs

I’ve lost my appetite for most chain-type Mexican restaurants. So many of the dishes are heavy and rich…looking different but all tasting the same. However, cooking at home with the incredible ingredients and flavors of Mexico is becoming more and more fun.

These meatballs are an example of a warm, comforting and spicy Mexican meal that is also light, fresh and delicious. Lourdes Castro has a wealth of wonderful recipes in her book, Simply Mexican, and I will probably, eventually, try them all.  I’ve adapted this one slightly to use canned tomatoes and I’ve brought the heat down a bit (those chipotle chilies pack a punch). Feel free to add more if you dare.

Note: It’s easy to make homemade crema. Just stir together equal amounts of sour cream and heavy cream and season it with a bit of salt.

Chipotle Meatballs with Crema

Serves 6
By author margaret at The Right Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 Small onion (quartered)
  • 2 cups canned tomatoes (diced)
  • 1 chipotle chili (from a can of chilies in adobo sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce (from the can of chilies)
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 3/4lb ground sirloin
  • 3/4lb ground pork
  • 2 Large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 4 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 cup flour ((approx…to lightly coat the meatballs))
  • 1-2 tablespoon olive oil (for browning the meatballs)
  • mexican crema (homemade or store-bought)
  • fresh cilantro

Directions

1. Make the sauce. In a blender, combine the onion, tomatoes, chipotles, adobo sauce, honey and salt and puree until smooth. Transfer mixture to a medium sauce pan, add chicken broth, and simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes, until sauce is thick and fragrant. (add more chicken broth if sauce gets too thick) Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
2. Make the meatballs. Combine the ground meats in a mixing bowl. Add the eggs, oregano, cumin, garlic, salt, and pepper. Using your hands, mix the ingredients until incorporated…no not over mix. Roll out 1 inch balls and then roll lightly in the flour to coat.
3. Brown the meatballs. Heat one tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat. Add the meatballs in small batches, being careful not to crowd the pan. Brown on all sides but do not cook through…they will finish cooking in the sauce. Remove from pan and set aside as they are browned.
4. Simmer the meatballs. Pour the sauce into the pan that you browned the meatballs in. Stir to scrape up any bits meats and bring to a simmer. Return the meatballs to the pan and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cover to stay warm until ready to serve. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve with creme.

Roasted Winter Vegetables with Shallots and Capers

Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts-2Here’s a quick and easy way to liven up a simple dish of roasted cauliflower and brussel’s sprouts from Bi Rite Market’s Eat Good Food cookbook.  But if you enjoy the briny punch of capers, you will probably enjoy this sauce on just about any roasted veg.  I cooked these on two separate small sheets to make sure that each would be cooked properly (the cauliflower took about 5 minutes longer than the sprouts), then tossed them together on one sheet with the Caper Lemon Butter for a deliciously dressed up side dish.

Roasted Winter Vegetables with Caper Lemon Butter

Serves 6
By author margaret at The Right Recipe

Ingredients

  • Medium head cauliflower (separated into 1-inch florets)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • 1lb brussels sprouts (halved or quartered)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 3 tablespoons capers (rinsed and chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1 Large lemon (zest and juice)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the cauliflower on a rimmed baking sheet with 1 tablespoon on olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Spread into a single layer. Repeat with brussels sprouts on another baking sheet. Place both pans in the oven and roast until tender and golden. Stir once after about 10 minutes.
2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the shallot and 1/2 teaspoon of slat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are translucent. Add the capers and thyme and cook for 1 minute longer. Remove from the heat and stir in the honey, lemon zest and juice.
3. Drizzle the sauce on the vegetables and toss to combine. Season with more salt and lemon juice if necessary

Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes with Brown Butter Frosting

Chocolate Cupcakes-2If you’ve never baked with browned butter, you are in for a treat here.  It’s quite amazing how much flavor can be added to a simple buttercream just by cooking the butter until the milk solids are a toasty brown. And may I suggest that you use one of the European butters that are widely available now (i.e. Plugra, Kerrygold) to really take it over the top!

I’ve paired this wonderful frosting with a very simple cocoa based chocolate cupcake that can be thrown together with a small saucepan, a bowl and a whisk.  The flavor is mild, similar to a red velvet cake, and the crumb is tender and moist.

Its an easy bit of baking to warm the soul (and the kitchen) on this frosty day in January.

Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes

Serves 20-24
By author margaret at The Right Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks butter (unsalted)
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 Large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 12-count cupcake pans with liners.
2. In a small saucepan, combine the butter, cocoa, salt and water and cook, stirring, until melted and combined. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and baking soda. Add half of the melted butter mixture and whisk until completely blended. Add the remaining butter mixture and whisk. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking each to blend completely before adding the next. Whisk in the sour cream and vanilla until smooth.
4. Fill the cupcake pans, about 2/3 of the way full. Bake until cupcakes are set, about 10-12 minutes. (the centers will be puffed and bounce back gently when touched) Cool completely before icing.

Browned Butter Frosting

Serves enough for 24 cupcakes
By author margaret at The Right Recipe

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (cut into pieces)
  • 8oz cream cheese (softened)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Directions

1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and cook until the milk solids at the bottom of the pan turn a rich brown color. The butter will take on a nutty smell. Watch carefully that the butter does not actually burn. Pour into a large bowl and chill in the refrigerator until it hardens to the consistency of softened butter.
2. Beat the browned butter with an electric hand mixer at medium speed until smooth. Beat in the cream cheese and the vanilla. Slowly sift in the powdered sugar while mixing to make a spreadable frosting.

Tuscan Peppercorn Stew

Tuscan StewAnxious to work with beef short ribs more often after the success of my Best Braised BBQ Shortribs, I was happy to find this recipe in the Jan-Feb 2015 issue of Cooks Illustrated.  As I’ve come to expect from one of my favorite cooking resources, it did not disappoint.

This stew is all about the meat and sauce as the aromatics used for flavor are discarded after the long braise in the oven.  Think of it as the Italian version of Beef Bourguignon. The bottle of Chianti makes for a rich tangy sauce with warm heat and spice from the freshly cracked peppercorns.  Author Andrew Janjigian notes that an inexpensive or mid priced Chianti is just fine here ($5 – $12) no need to go pricier. Being the good southern girl that I am, I’ve served it here with creamy grits.  But polenta or mashed potatoes would also suit…or perhaps just a big green salad and a loaf of crusty Italian bread.

Comfort food for a cold winter’s night indeed.

 

Tuscan Peppercorn Stew

Serves 6-8
By author margaret at The Right Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4lb boneless beef short ribs, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 bottle Chianti ((750-ml))
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 shallots (peeled and halved lengthwise)
  • 2 carrots (peeled and halved lengthwise)
  • 1 head garlic (cloves separated, unpeeled and crushed)
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns (cracked, plus extra for serving)
  • 1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch

Directions

1. Toss beef and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt together in bowl and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium high heat until just smoking. Add beef in a single layer (in batches if necessary) and brown on all sides. Stir in 2 cups of the wine, water, shallots, carrots, garlic, rosemary bay leaves, cracked peppercorns, gelatin, tomato paste, and anchovy paste. Bring to a simmer and cover tightly with a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil, then the lid. Transfer to the oven and cook until beef is tender, 2 to 2 1/4 hours, stirring halfway through the cooking time.
3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer beef to bowl; cover tightly with foil and set aside. Strain sauce through fine mesh strainer into a fat separator. (if you don't have a fat separator, you can let the stock sit in the frig for a bit so the fat will rise to the top and you can remove it with a spoon) Clean the pot. Return the defatted stock to the pot, add 1 cup wine and the group black pepper and bring mixture to a boil over med-high heat. Simmer until sauce has thickened to the consistency of heavy cream, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.
4. Combine remaining wine and cornstarch in a small bowl, Reduce heat to med-low, return beef to pot and stir in cornstarch-wine mixture. Cover and simmer until just heated through, 5-8 minutes, Season with salt to taste. Serve with extra cracked peppercorns.

A Lovely Pumpkin Bread

pumpkin breadWhile this is nowhere near the first pumpkin bread that I have made, it is the first one that I have chosen to post and this is why…

1. Taste. These loaves have a wonderfully pumpkin flavor, just the right amount of spices and more importantly, the right amount of sweetness. I find some quick breads cloyingly sweet.  Don’t misunderstand, this bread has plenty of sugar, but the buttermilk and olive oil add complexity to the flavor so that while it is definitely a treat, you won’t feel that it is out-of-place on the breakfast table.  And the fragrant olive oil may seem strange but it works really well and no one I served this to (kids included) noticed anything other than the wonderful flavor.

2.  Texture. Pumpkin bread needs to be moist and have a tender crumb and this one does.  It also rises perfectly and cooks through the center before the edges get too dark (one of my pet peeves with some quick bread recipes)

So there you have it.  I finally found a keeper of a Pumpkin Bread recipe thanks to Tasia Malakasis and her book, Tasia’s Table, Cooking with the Artisan Cheesecake at Belle Chèvre.

A Lovely Pumpkin Bread

Serves 2 loaves
By author margaret at The Right Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 cups canned pure pumpkin
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 Large eggs
  • 3/4 cups buttermilk
  • Confectioner's sugar for dusting

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two loaf pans with butter or nonstick spray.
2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in a medium bowl; whisk to blend. Using electric mixer, beat pure pumpkin and both sugars in large bowl until blended. Gradually beat in oil, then one egg at a time. Stir in a fourth of the dry ingredients, followed by a third of the buttermilk; repeat until dry ingredients and buttermilk are both mixed in. Divide batter among prepared pans.
3. Bake breads until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool in pans, Sprinkle generously with confectioner's sugar. If made ahead of time, wait to sprinkle with the confectioner's sugar just before serving. Store at room temperature.

Baby Peas with Crispy Leeks and Bacon

peas with crispy leeksThere are two reasons that I return to this  delicious side dish, adapted from Food and Wine magazine, year after year for holiday meals.  First of all,  a bright green vegetable is a very welcome sight on a plate that tends to feature a lot of bland colors with  the turkey, rolls, dressing, potatoes and onions.  And secondly, although everyone loves it, I’m just not going to add fried leeks, bacon and cream to a vegetable dish unless it is a very special occasion.  But with the festive season quickly approaching, this is the perfect time to try these luxurious peas and consider adding them to your repertoire.

Note: The leeks can be fried one day ahead of time and kept in a covered container at room temperature.  If they lose their crisp, they can be reheated in a 350 degree oven for a few minutes.

Baby Peas with Crispy Leeks and Bacon

Serves 10
By author Margaret at The Right Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 Large Leeks (white and tender green parts only, sliced into 1/4 inch rings)
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 slices bacon
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 cup lower sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 cups heavy cream
  • 3 10 ounce boxes frozen baby peas (thawed)
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch (mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water)

Directions

1. Wash the leeks well and pat dry. In a large saucepan, heat 1/2 inch of oil over medium high heat. Reserve 1/2 cup of the leeks and add the remaining to the hot oil. Cook until golden brown, 10-12 minutes. Drain on paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
2. In a large deep skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until golden brown. Cool on paper towels then crumble.
3. Discard about half of the bacon grease then add the remaining 1/2 cups of leeks and the thyme to the pan and and cook over medium heat until leeks are softened, about 8 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the chicken broth and cook until reduced by half, about 7 minutes. Add the heavy cream and cook until it is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Stir in the peas, crumbled bacon and the remaining 1/2 cup of chicken stock and bring to a boil. Discard the thyme sprigs. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cornstarch mixture and cook until the sauce is slightly thickened, 3-4 minutes. transfer the peas to a serving bowl and top with the crispy leeks.

Baked Chicken with Orzo

Baked Chicken and Orzo

There are only three casseroles with a permanent place in my recipe binder and this is one.  Growing up in a big family in small town Mississippi, I ate lots of casseroles and can’t, at the moment, remember one that I didn’t like.  So it was surprising to me that all of my children had very anti-casserole attitudes when they were young.

If I was in the mood for a “one pot meal”, I was always careful to rename it.  A simple turkey/rice combo could be advertised as Roast Turkey with Rice Pilaf and the classic chicken noodle casserole had to be called Baked Chicken with Pasta.  Sometimes this worked…and sometimes it didn’t.

But this recipe was the exception. Baked Chicken with Orzo was always a bit hit, I believe, because of the extra-large pieces of chicken breast that become melt in your mouth tender in the silky buttered tomato sauce.  Recipe adapted from Casseroles, Classic to Contempory by Nina Graybill and Maxine Rapoport.

Baked Chicken with Orzo

Serves 6
By author margaret at The Right Recipe

Ingredients

  • 28oz chopped tomatoes with their juice (I recommend San Marzano diced tomatoes in a box)
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 Medium boneless and skinless chicken breast halved (cut in half crosswise)
  • salt and pepper
  • 8oz orzo
  • 2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth (heated to a simmer)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sauce pan, bring the tomatoes, basil, oregano and butter to a simmer. Cook uncovered, about 20 minutes, until sauce has reduced and thickened somewhat. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large ovenproof casserole or dutch oven. Season the chicken lightly with salt and pepper and brown it on both sides, in batches. When finished, return all of the chicken to the pot and pour the tomato sauce mixture over it. Cover and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
2. Add orzo and 1 1/2 cups of the hot broth to the casserole and mix gently. Cover and return to oven for 30 more minutes. Check after about 20 minutes and if the mixture is beginning to look dry, add the additional 1/2 cup hot broth.
3. Check for seasonings and add salt and pepper if needed. Serve with fresh basil or parsley.

 

Baked Chicken and Orzo

Apricot Spice Cake with Brown Sugar Pecan Glaze

Apricot Spice Cake-3Here’s a great old-fashioned recipe that you will want to make right now and repeat straight through the holidays.  It is scribbled on a stained recipe card so I don’t know who deserves the credit, but it is a simple dump and stir cake that will make your kitchen smell divine.  The secret ingredient is the baby food (apricots) that combine with the spices to make a warmly flavored, tender and moist cake that is then taken over the top by a simple brown sugar pecan glaze.  Can be made ahead and never fails to bring lots of requests for the recipe.

Apricot Spice Cake with Brown Sugar Pecan Glaze

By author Margaret @The Right Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 jars "baby food" strained apricots (you will most likely find a blend of apricots and apples these days in 3.5oz containers)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup pecans (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup pecans (broken into pieces)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a bundt pan.
2. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the strained apricots, vegetable oil and sugar. (you can use a mixer or a whisk) Add eggs and beat well. Add all the spices and the self-rising flour and stir until well combined. Add the cup of finely chopped pecans and stir well. Pour into prepared bundt pan and bake 45-65 minutes until cake has risen and springs back gently to the touch. (the baking time will depend upon the size and shape of your bundt pan so best to keep an eye on this cake the first time you make it, and make note of the cooking time.)
3. Let cake cool for 10-15 minutes then unmold onto a wire rack and let cool completely.
For the glaze
4. In a small sauce pan, melt the butter and add the brown sugar and the milk. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the 1/2 cup of broken pecans and remove from heat to cool a bit before drizzling it over the cooled cake.

Charred Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta and Fig

sprouts with pancetta and figElegant enough for your holiday dinner table yet quick and easy enough for a week night meal.  The small glaze of fig jam is just enough to compliment the salty pancetta, and does not make this a sweet dish.  Another excellent recipe from Brassicas, by Laura B. Russell.

Charred Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Fig

Serves 4
From book Brassicas, by Laura B. Russell

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons Olive Oil (divided)
  • 3-4oz Pancetta (diced)
  • 1 1/2lb Brussels Sprouts (trimmed and halved or quartered if large)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons fig jam
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

1. In a large frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes, until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a small bowl. Return the pan to medium high heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Add the Brussels sprouts, keeping them in a single layer as much as possible. Stir in the salt. Cook 7-10 minutes until the sprouts are tender and well browned.
2. Add the fig jam and the water and stir until the jam melts and coats the sprouts. Add the reserved pancetta and at the pepper ands stir to combine. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if needed. Serve warm.