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.

Fall Salad with Kale, Eggs, and Spiced Almonds

 

kale salad-3Here’s a super-food recipe to balance out the decadent Matchstick Potatoes that I gave you a few days ago.  This salad is healthy and full of flavor and texture.  You get the chew from the fresh kale, creaminess from the minced egg and a spiced crunch from the almonds.  Kale salads are ideal for times that you need a make-ahead fresh dish or something that will travel well…this will last a couple of days without wilting.  But this egg/almond combination is also good with arugula or spinach if you want a more delicate salad.

Fall Salad with Kale, Eggs, and Spiced Almonds

Serves 4
By author Margaret Bryan French

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch kale (center ribs removed, torn into small bite sized pieces, about 8 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced red onion
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch pepper
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 hard cooked eggs (peeled and minced)
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Place the prepped kale in a large mixing bowl.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the minced onion, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper. Add olive oil and whisk well. Pour the vinaigrette over the kale and toss thoroughly (best to toss with your hands to make sure all leaves get coated) Add the minced eggs and toss again lightly. Set aside to marinate while you toast the almonds.
3. In a small skillet, toast the almonds with the 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil and the paprika, stirring constantly until fragrant. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Stir most of the spiced almonds into the kale, reserving a tablespoon or two to sprinkle over the top just before serving.

 

Crispy Parmesan and Pepper Matchstick Potatoes

Matchstick Potatoes with Parmesan and Black Pepper

If I’m going to splurge on a big plate of crispy fried anything, it’s got to be amazing, otherwise it’s not worth the calories.  And if I’m going to fry up a big batch of something in my kitchen, it’s got to be easy and quick, otherwise it’s not worth the mess.  Luckily these wonderful seasoned matchstick potatoes fit the bill on both counts.

As you may know, traditional french fries have to be fried twice, at different temperatures, to get the right combination of fluff interior and crispy exterior.  But matchstick fries are so thin that one quick trip to the hot oil is all it takes, saving lots of time and clean up.  A simple mandolin, pictured below, can shred 2 Idaho potatoes in seconds and is great for making homemade potato chips as well.

Try offering this deal to your family. “If you’ll cook the chicken (steaks, burgers, fish, fill-in-the-blank) and make a salad…. I’ll make Matchstick Potatoes”.   A little teamwork is a lot of fun!

 

Crispy Parmesan and Pepper Matchstick Potatoes

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 Large Idaho Potatoes
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • fresh parsley (minced, optional)

Directions

1. Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/8 inch matchsticks using a mandolin or other julienne slicer. Place potatoes in a bowl of cold water to prevent discoloration.
2. Heat 2 inches of oil in a large deep skillet or other heavy pot. (I like to use my wok) While oil is heating, remove a couple of handfuls of the potatoes from the water and dry them thoroughly with paper towels. This is an important step to keep them from splattering when added to the hot oil. When the oil reached 350 degrees (you can use a thermometer or test with one piece of potato…it should sizzle immediately) fry the potatoes until golden brown. Remove to drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining potatoes.
3. Season the potatoes with Parmesan cheese, black pepper and minced fresh parsley. Add salt to taste and serve immediately.

 

 

Always Perfect Bone-In Chicken Breasts

Always Perfect ChickenSo here’s what I know about chicken.  Smaller is easier to cook, more tender and juicer.  Free Range is tastier.  And bone-in skin-on is far better than the boneless, skinless variety.  So why have I so often used “naked” chicken breasts?  Convenience would have been my answer, had you asked.  And I have lots to marinades and cooking techniques to add flavor and texture so I can usually pull it off.

But this recipe is a game changer.  Nothing could be easier to prep or faster to cook, and if you buy decent chicken, season it ahead of time to let the flavor soak in, and use this cooking method, the results will be delicious!

If you need to make this in larger quantities, just multiply the seasoning ingredients accordingly and cook as follows:  While you are browning the skin side of the breasts stove top, put a large rimmed baking sheet in the oven to preheat.  When all the chicken is ready, place it on the hot baking sheet, skin side up and roast until done.

Note:  This chicken is Bell & Evans, from Whole Foods.  I have also used Joyce Farms and other free-range and organic birds with excellent results. Try to avoid the very large chicken breasts from the major chicken producers that are so often found in the grocery store.

Always Perfect Bone-In Chicken Breasts

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 Medium garlic clove (minced)
  • 1 Large lemon (zested)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 4 small chicken breast halves (bone-in, skin-on)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

1. On a cutting board, combine and mince together the garlic and the lemon zest. Add salt and pepper and combine well to create the seasoning mix for the chicken.
2. Place the chicken breasts, one at a time, in a gallon zip lock bag and, using a heavy cast iron skillet or a meat mallet, pound the chicken to an even 1/2 inch thickness. (This will only take a couple of good whacks and the bones will break as the breast flattens)
3. Rub the chicken on all sides with the seasoning mixture, being sure to get a little bit under the skin as well. Place seasoned chicken on a plate or tray and refrigerate uncovered for 2 hours or up to overnight.
4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat a large cast iron skillet (or other heavy oven proof skillet) over high heat. Add the olive oil. Add 2 of the chicken breasts, skin side down, and cook over high heat until golden brown. Remove from the skillet and repeat with remaining 2 chicken breasts. When they are ready, return the first 2 breasts to the pan, making sure that all 4 are skin side up now, and roast in the preheated oven for 10 minutes or until just cooked through. (Time will vary depending on size of chicken breasts, cook to 160 degrees or until juices just run clear) Let rest for 5 minutes and serve.

Carrot Salad with Miso Peanut Dressing

miso carrot saladIt occurs to me that while a handful of shredded carrots on a green salad just screams tired salad bar, a whole salad made out of sweet fresh carrots can be a jewel of a side dish. This one is especially flavorful with a miso peanut dressing, fresh cilantro and the added crunch of the salty peanuts.

Carrot Salad with Miso-Peanut Dressing

Serves 4-6
By author Margaret @ The Right Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1lb medium carrots
  • 1 red bell pepper (cut into fine julienne with a sharp knife)
  • 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons white miso paste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoon water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup roasted and salted peanuts (chopped)

Directions

1. Peel the carrots then shred them with a julienne peeler or adjustable blade slicer.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, miso paste, lemon juice, olive oil, honey, and soy sauce. Add 1-2 tablespoons warm water to make a thick yet pourable dressing. Taste and season with pepper and salt, if needed.
3. Add carrots and the red bell pepper to the dressing and toss well.
4. Top with cilantro and chopped peanuts just before serving.

Best Braised BBQ Shortribs

short ribsI’m not a master-griller, but this recipe sure makes me feel like one! These short ribs are braised indoors then grilled and glazed outdoors.  The result is a an amazingly tender interior with a wonderful crispy exterior.  Since most recipes call for browning the meat before braising, I found this method to be somewhat of a revelation.  And taking the time to chill the ribs and the braising liquid before finishing the dish makes removing the fat from both a breeze.

This is slow food, but it’s not complicated food, so give it a try next time you want to impress some barbecue fanatics. And everything except the final grilling and glazing, which takes 10-15 minutes, can be done way ahead of time.  Recipe adapted from Weber’s Smoke by Jamie Purviance.

Best BBQ Braised Shortribs

Serves 4
By author Margaret @ The Right Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Large onion (chopped)
  • 6 cloves garlic (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper (chopped with seeds)
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 bottles lager beer
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 5lb beef short ribs (look for large meaty ribs)
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • optional: hot pepper sauce, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil for brushing ribs before grilling
  • kosher salt and black pepper for seasoning ribs before grilling

Directions

Braise the ribs
1. In a large stockpot over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeño and cook until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the oregano, cumin seed, salt, and pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Pour in the lager and add the bay leaf. Place the ribs in the braising liquid, meaty side down, and add just enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer until the ribs are barely tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, about 1½ hours. Transfer the ribs to a sheet pan to cool. Remove and discard any bones that may have fallen off the ribs in the liquid. Strain the braising liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl and discard the solids. Cover and refrigerate the cooled ribs and the braising liquid (separately) until chilled, about 2 hours (or overnight if you wish).
Make the sauce
2. Skim the fat from the surface of the liquid. Pour the liquid back into the stockpot (now clean) and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and simmer the liquid until reduced to ¾ cup, 1 to 1½ hours. Transfer to a medium saucepan. Stir in the ketchup, molasses, balsamic vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the sauce is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat and season with hot pepper sauce, if desired. Set aside at room temperature.
Finish the ribs
3. Remove the ribs from the refrigerator and cut off any large pieces of exterior fat; this will minimize any grill flare-ups. Brush the ribs with the oil and season evenly with the salt and pepper. Preheat the grill to medium and brush the cooking grate clean. Grill the ribs over medium heat until warmed through and the exterior is beginning to turn crispy, turning several times, about 10 minutes.

Brush the ribs generously with the sauce. Turn the heat up and continue to cook until the meat is glazed, about 5 minutes, turning occasionally. Remove from the grill and serve warm with the remaining sauce.

Quick Roman Cauliflower Saute

cauliflower saute Is it crazy that I completely stopped using Canola oil when I realized that there is no such thing as a canola plant?   (Canola = Canadian Oil Low Acid…it’s a marketing thing)  And it’s a long story that you can read about  online, but basically canola comes from a rapeseed plant that has to be bred to be lower in erucic acid so that it is safe to consume.  I’ve listened to both sides of the Canola oil argument and while I don’t believe that it is outrageously bad for you, I still haven’t gone back to it.  I like to know what I’m eating.

And I liked something, a concept, that I read in Eating Well this month.  Andrew Wilder says foods he eats have to pass the “kitchen test”, meaning that they could have been made in his own kitchen.  Not that they have to have been made in his kitchen, just that they could have been.  Simple, fresh foods that are what they say they are.

Just like this wonderfully easy and very tasty cauliflower dish from Brassicas, Cooking the World’s Healthiest Vegetables,  by Laura B. Russell.

Quick Roman Cauliflower Saute

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Medium cauliflower (cored and cut into small bite-sized pieces)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese (grated)

Directions

1. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium hight heat. Add the cauliflower, keeping it in one layer as much as possible. You may need to cook in two batches. Cook, stirring for about 5 minutes until florets start to brown.
2. Stir in the garlic and the salt and continue cooking until cauliflower is tender yet retains a nice bite. (If you prefer soft cauliflower you can cover the skillet and steam it for a minute or two at this point.)
3. Stir in the pepper and the Parmesan and toss to combine. Serve hot or at room temperature.

 

Spaghetti with Cherry Tomatoes and Toasted Crumbs

summer pasta-2     It’s the perfect late summer pasta dish although I can already imagine that I will be throwing this together to bring a little sunshine to a cold winter day as well.  Make the crumbs whenever you like…they keep wonderfully in a zip lock in the freezer…then put the tomato salad together an hour before you want to serve to give the flavors time to develop.  Last minute just boil the pasta, toss, toss, sprinkle, sprinkle and you’re done!

Spaghetti with Cherry Tomatoes and Toasted Crumbs

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf rustic bread
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 shallots (peeled and minced)
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1lb spaghetti
  • 3-4 fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese (grated)

Directions

For the toasted crumbs
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the crust from the bread then cut the bread into large cubes. Pulse in a food processor until crumbs are small. In a large bowl, toss the bread crumbs with the 1/2 cup olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and bake, stirring frequently, until crumbs are golden brown. Cool and reserve.
for the cherry tomato salad
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the shallots, vinegars and honey. Add the oil slowly and whisk well. Add salt and pepper, taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half. Combine in a medium bowl with the vinaigrette and let rest for one hour.
for the pasta
3. Bring a large pot of water to boil and add a generous tablespoon of salt. Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain. In a large bowl, toss the pasta with the cherry tomatoes. Top with slivers of fresh basil, the toasted crumbs and grated parmesan. Serve right away so that the crumbs will stay crispy.

Tomato, Arugula and Quinoa Salad with Miso Vinaigrette

miso dressingAlthough I love this simple combination of sweet cherry tomatoes, spicy baby arugula and nutty red quinoa, it is the wonderful miso vinaigrette that needs to be your take-away keeper recipe from this post.  Simple to whisk together, this vinaigrette will keep for several days in a jar in the fridge and is positively addictive.  I love to use it as a sauce for the veggie sushi that I pick up at Whole Foods, as a marinade for fish and seafood, or just a super tasty salad dressing.  Homemade dressings are infinitely better than the store bought variety and they only take seconds to prepare.

 

Tomato, Arugula and Quinoa Salad with Miso Vinaigrette

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons white miso
  • 3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1-2 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup extra-light olive oil (or other neutral oil)
  • 1 pint sweet cherry or grape tomatoes (halved)
  • 1 bag baby arugula
  • 1 1/2 cup red quinoa (cooked and cooled, see package instructions)

Directions

for the vinaigrette
1. Whisk first 6 ingredients together until smooth (or use your Magic Bullet or other blended). Add olive oil and blend or whisk vigorously until you have a creamy dressing.
for the salad
2. Toss salad ingredients with 1/4 cup of the miso vinaigrette and toss gently. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Store remaining vinaigrette refrigerated in a jar or other sealed container.

 

 

 

 

 

Blueberry Buckle

 

blueberry buckleThis is a great time to try this old favorite of mine..…the blueberries are big and sweet  in our stores right now and often on sale too. The recipe comes from Pure Flavor, by Kurt Beecher Dammeier. It is a wonderfully moist coffee cake….perfect for breakfast, brunch or after school snack.  Here are 5 steps you can take the night before so that serving it fresh and warm in the morning will be a breeze.

1. Make the topping and store in a zip lock bag in the frig.

2. Wash the blueberries.

3. Mix the dry ingredients together.

4. Prepare the cake pan and store in the frig.

5. Set the butter out to soften.

Otherwise, it keeps well in the frig for 2 days and can be warmed in the microwave (just a few seconds)

 

Blueberry Buckle

Serves 6-8
Meal type Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable, Pre-preparable
From book Adapted from Pure Flavor, by Kurt Beecher Dammeier
A wonderfully moist blueberry lemon coffee cake.

Ingredients

Topping

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • pinchsalt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Base

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened)
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 Large egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cups milk (at room temperature)
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries

Directions

Topping
1. Combine the flour, sugar, lemon zest and salt in a small bowl. Using a fork, cut the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.
Base
2. Use a hand held mixer or a stand mixer with the flat beater attachment. Beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy, scraping the bowl once or twice while mixing. Blend in the vanilla and lemon zest. Ad the egg and mix on medium speed to combine, scraping the bowl once.
3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.
4. Add the milk and the flour mixture alternately to the butter mixture, beating until smooth on medium speed after each addition. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, top with blueberries and sprinkle with the topping.
5. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the buckle.
6. The buckle will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. you can also wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze it for up to one month.

 

 

 

Honey Jalapeño Chicken Tenders

Honey Jalapeno Chicken 2For summertime grilling, this is one of the easiest, quickest and tastiest recipes you will find.  It only takes 2-3 minutes per side to cook chicken tenders on a hot grill which is one reason why this marinade from The Farm, by Ian Knauer, is so great…the honey caramelizes very quickly so you get a wonderful glazed char before the chicken is overcooked. Most of the heat in a jalapeño is in the seeds so use them to control the spiciness of this dish.  I scrape out most of the seeds, letting just a random few into the marinade and that makes for chicken tenders with just a little kick, suitable for kids and adults alike.

Honey Jalapeño Chicken Tenders

Serves 6-8
Dietary Gluten Free
Meal type Appetizer, Main Dish
Occasion Barbecue
From book The Farm, by Ian Knauer
Quick and easy chicken tenders for the grill.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 6 jalapeño peppers (chopped, (see note above about seeds))
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (finely grated)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoons black pepper
  • 3lb chicken tenders
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • sour cream for serving

Directions

1. Preheat the grill to high and oil the grill rack.
2. Whisk together the honey, soy sauce, oil, garlic, jalapeños, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Toss the chicken in the marinade and let stand for at least 15 minutes at room temperature or cover an refrigerate for up to 2 hours.
3. Frill the chicken until well browned and cooked through, 2-3 minutes per side. Serve sprinkled with cilantro with sour cream on the side.

 

Asparagus Tartine

asparagus tartine-3A tartine is simply an open-faced sandwich and here is the perfect one for a glorious spring day.  Look for big, meaty spears with tightly closed tips that signify freshness.  Did you know that the diameter of asparagus spears relates to the maturity of the plant?  I takes 2 or 3 years before asparagus plants are well established enough, with spears big enough, to harvest.  And so I do imagine that the day the asparagus begins to nudge its way out of the soil must be one of a gardener’s favorite days!   Recipe adapted from Cicchetti, and other small Italian Plates to Share, by Lindy Wildsmith and Valentina Sforza.

 

 

 

*************************************

1 pound asparagus

4 eggs

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons mayonaise

salt and pepper

1 fresh baguette, or other good, fresh crusty bread, cut into 1/4 inch pieces

olive oil

2 tablespoons minced fresh chives

Fill a large pot halfway with water and bring to a simmer.  Carefully lower the eggs into the water and simmer for 12 minutes.  While eggs are cooking, prepare a bowl of ice water.  Remove eggs from hot water and immediately place them into the ice bath  to cool.  Meanwhile, trim the asparagus, bring the water in the pot to a boil, add the asparagus and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes, depending on the size of the spears.  Remove the eggs from the ice bath and add more ice so that you can chill the asparagus just as soon as it is ready.

Peel the eggs then chop finely.  When the asparagus is cooled, remove from the ice bath and cut the tips and set them aside to use as the garnish.  Chop the rest of the spears and add to the chopped eggs.  Add the olive oil and mayonnaise and gently stir to combine.  Season well with salt and pepper to taste.

Brush the bread slices with olive oil, toast lightly and let cool.  Spread each tartine with some of the egg salad, top with the reserved asparagus tips then sprinkle with chives.  (The number of servings that this recipe will produce varies greatly based upon the size of the bread you use. You can make around 30 small appetizer servings with a skinny baguette or 6 lunch-sized portions with a larger Italian bread such as the one I used in the photo. Just be sure to save enough asparagus tips to finish your dish.)

********************************************

Zesty Artichoke and Palm Salad with Cannellini

Artichoke and Palm SaladTwo hearts are better than one in this delicious marinated salad.  Hearts of Palm and Artichoke Hearts are the perfect compliment to creamy Cannellini Beans drenched in an Italian Style Vinaigrette.  It’s a super make-ahead and/or take-along salad since it keeps well in the frig for a couple of days and is especially good with grilled chicken, beef or seafood.  Toss in some fresh spinach or arugula just before serving if you want to turn this into a vegetarian main course.

********************************

1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1 can artichoke hearts in water, drained and quartered

1 jar hearts of palm, drained and sliced

1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 medium red onion, sliced thinly

In a small bowl, whisk together first six ingredients to make the vinaigrette.  Set aside.  In a medium bowl, gently toss together the artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, cannellini beans and red onion.  Re whisk the vinaigrette and pour over the salad.  Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper if needed.  Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour.  Let the salad sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before serving for best flavor. Serves 6-8 as a side dish and 4 as a vegetarian main course.

****************************************

 

Mozzarella con Prosciutto

proscuitto-mozzarellaAnd the award for Best Appetizer in the “Don’t Have Time to Cook”  category goes to …. Mozzarella con Prosciutto!

Mozzarella con Prosciutto

Directions

1. Buy the bite-sized mozzarella balls already marinated in olive oil and herbs and wrap each one with 1/4 of a slice (cut lengthwise) of paper thin prosciutto. Secure with a toothpick. If you make them ahead of time, let sit at room temperate for 10 minutes for the best taste and texture. And if you are serving a crowd, Costco has a big tub of marinated mozzarella and perfectly sliced prosciutto at a very decent price.

Hard Cooked Eggs with Basil and Fluffy Ham

devilled ham and eggs 1Wonderful opportunities arise when you have a bit of leftover ham in the frig.  I’m not talking about deli meats…not cold cuts… but a real hunk of boneless or semi boneless smoked ham.  They come fully cooked, but in my family we still roast the heck out of it anyway so that we can shave it into thin, melt in your mouth slices.

The first serving of a ham around here is hot from the oven, carved at the table with a  cheese grits casserole  and a big green salad.  After that, it goes into eggs at breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and flavors soups and salads throughout the week.  The possibilities are endless, of course, as demonstrated by my latest discovery, Ham Fluff.

Looking for a way to perk up some deviled eggs I was making, I spied the last bits of a ham that I had cooked last Friday.  Using a microplane grater, the one that is designed for parmesan cheese, I grated the ham into a big pile of the softest, fluffiest stuff you can imagine.  Then I leveled off the filling from the deviled eggs to make room and topped each egg with a generous amount.  So what you get is the salty good taste of ham, which we all know goes well with eggs, without taking away from the creamy, light texture of a good deviled egg.  If you are looking for a resource for ham, I highly recommend the  The Good Ham Company in Memphis, TN.

************************************************

1 dozen medium or large eggs*

2-3 tablespoons heavy cream

6 large leaves of fresh basil, slivered thinly

salt and pepper

2 inch piece of leftover baked smoked ham, cold

Fill a large sauce pot half way with water and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Carefully lower the eggs into the hot water and simmer, being careful not to let the water boil, for 15 minutes.  While eggs are cooking, prepare a large bowl with ice and water.  At the 15 minute mark, remove there eggs from the hot water and immediately put them in the bowl with the ice water.  Let sit 15 minutes, then peel.  Cut the eggs in half crosswise or lengthwise  and pop the yolks out into a small bowl.  Using a fork, mash the yolks then stir in enough of the cream to create a smooth, luscious filling.  Stir in fresh basil and season to taste with salt.  Fill each egg white half with the egg yolk mixture, leveling off the top. (recipe can be made to this point, covered and refrigerated until ready to serve.)  When ready to serve,  grate the cold ham with a small microplane grater (the one designed for grating parmesan cheese) creating a big pile of fluff.  Top each egg generously and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.

*If you want to guarantee easy-to-peel eggs, use a push pin to poke a tiny hole, just barely through the shell, in the larger end of each egg.  If done correctly, only air bubbles will escape from the holes while the eggs are simmering.  If you go too deep, you’ll get some egg white oozing out into the water, but your eggs will still turn out fine.  The ice bath helps with the peeling too, as well as keeping the yolks from developing the greenish ring around the edges.

*******************************************

Chicken in a Pot

Pot Roasted Chicken with 27 Cloves of Garlic

Chicken in a Pot….a simple name for a simple dish.  But when it is the answer to “What’s for dinner?”,  Chicken in a Pot will bring smiles all around.  As with most simple recipes, the quality of ingredients is paramount.  This tasty bird is a Poulet Rouge Fermier from Joyce Farms and can be ordered here.  I bought this particular one at our local Whole Foods.

A quick unsolicited shout-out to Le Creuset  and their lifetime warranty department who  replaced my 17 year old tried and true dutch oven after it developed a crack.  They even called to let me to choose any color.  Merci!

*****************************************

1 free-range chicken

salt and pepper

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 head of garlic, cloves separated but unpeeled

2 sprigs fresh rosemary leaves, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 cup dry white wine

1 cup chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.   Rinse the chicken, dry with paper towels, then season generously with salt and pepper.  Melt the butter and the oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat and brown the chicken on all sides.  Remove the chicken, add the garlic, rosemary and thyme and cook together for one minute.  Return the chicken to the pot, add the wine and the chicken broth and bring to a simmer.  Baste the chicken with the liquid a few times then cover and bake in the preheated oven until done.  Timing will depend upon the size of your bird…3 1/2 pound chicken takes approximately 1 hour, 15 minutes (165 degrees for the breasts and 170 for the leg/thighs)

Carve and serve with pan juices and the flesh of the sweet, mellow garlic cloves.

******************************************************

Spicy Rice Noodles with Chicken, Basil and Lime

 

spicy noodlesWe all need more recipes like this one. Pantry staples, a pound of ground chicken, and dinner is on the table in about 20 minutes.  And the best part is that it’s not a boring “I didn’t have time to think about dinner” dinner.  It’s sweet, tart, spicy and light.  Interesting enough for the adults yet familiar enough for the kids.

Here’s a thought about rice noodles.  You want to be careful not to overcook them lest they turn to mush.  For this particular recipe, soak them in hot water until they are just as you would like to eat them, tender all the way through but still a nice silky bite.  Then toss them with the hot chicken and sauce and serve right away.  If you let them sit around waiting, they will soak up any available liquid and dry out the dish.  That being said, this stir fry is tasty enough that you will still want to gobble up the leftovers the next day straight out of the frig, mushy noodles or not.

Adapted from one of my favorite chefs, Ming Tsai, and his recipe for Crazy Chicken RIce Noodles, in Simply Ming.

 

Spicy Rice Noodles with Chicken, Basil and Lime

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

  • 4-6oz pad thai rice noodles
  • 3 tablespoons asian fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1-2 teaspoon sambal ((asian chili sauce))
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 shallots (thinly sliced)
  • 1lb ground chicken
  • bunch scallions (white and light green parts chopped)
  • 1 handful fresh basil leaves (chopped)
  • lime wedges (for serving)

Directions

1. Soak the rice noodles in hot water until tender, about 15 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
2. In a small bowl, combine fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and samba and stir to combine.
3. Heat a wok or heavy skillet over hight heat. Add the oil and the shallots and stir fry until they are golden brown. Add the ground chicken and stir fry, using a spoon or metal spatula to break up the meat into small pieces, until cooked through. Add the noodles and the fish sauce mixture and toss well. Add the scallions and basil, toss again and serve immediately.

Two-Minute Salmon Scallopini

 

salmon scallopini“Dinner will be ready in two minutes!!!”  How many times have I shouted this warning to family passing through my kitchen, foraging in the snack drawer or headed out the door?  Of course, I rarely mean literally two minutes….but this time I do!  These thin slices of marinated fresh salmon cook right on your dinner plate in two minutes flat.  Delicate and meltingly delicious, serve with crusty bread and a big salad of field greens for the quickest entree you will ever encounter.  A brilliant technique and recipe adapted from Abby Mandel in her excellent cookbook, More Taste Than Time.  The late Abby Mandel was a food columnist for the Chicago Tribune and was the founder of the fabulous Lincoln Park Green City Market. (a must-visit for foodies in Chicago May-October)

********************************

3 tablespoons fresh orange juice

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon dry vermouth

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon orange (or lemon) zest

1/4 teaspoon salt

10-12 ounces salmon fillets, skinned, cut on the bias as thin as possible, about 1/16 inch (see note below)

minced fresh chives or parsley to garnish

freshly ground black pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 500 degrees 15 minutes before baking.

2.  Mix the orange juice, oil vermouth, lemon juice, soy sauce, orange or lemon zest and salt in a large plastic ziplock bag.  Add the salmon and seal the bag, squeezing out excess air and turning bag to insure that salmon is well coated with the marinade.  Let marinate for 10 minutes.

3.  Arrange the salmon on 2 china dinner plates, covering the entire surface of the plate, except the rim ,, overlapping the fish as little as possible.  Brush lightly with a small amount of the remaining marinade.

4.  Bake just until the surface of the fish lightens in color, about 2 minutes.  Sprinkle with chives or parsley, fresh ground pepper and serve immediately.

Serves 2

note:  Put the raw salmon in the freezer for about 30 minutes until firm but not frozen solid….this will make thin-slicing a breeze (sharp knife necessary too)

note: Most china and ceramic plates can withstand the oven heat for this amount of time, but very fine bone china should be avoided.

**********************************

Saucy Beef and Lamb Meatballs

 

MeatballsFamiliar enough to qualify as comfort food, yet just different enough to be new and interesting.  I love the 50/50 combination of the beef and  lamb, and the sauce is perfectly spiced with the warmth of cumin, ginger and cinnamon. Serve these with toasted pita bread for an excellent make-ahead dinner.

 

Saucy Beef and Lamb Meatballs

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
  • 2 tablespoons onion (finely minced)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh garlic (finely minced)
  • 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint (minced)
  • 1/2lb ground sirloin
  • 1/2lb ground lamb
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (divided)
  • 1 Large egg (lightly beaten)
  • 1/2 cup onion (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 15oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup water

Directions

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons onion and garlic to the pan; cook 1 minutes, stirring constantly. Cool slightly. Combine onion mixture, breadcrumbs and mint, add lamb, beef, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and egg. Stir gently. Shape into 30 1-inch meatballs. If you have time, put them in the refrigerator of ran hour or so to firm up…this will make them easier to brown.
2. Heat pan to medium high with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and add meatballs. Cook 4 minutes or so to brown them on all sides. Remove meatballs from pan. Add 1/2 cup onion and sauté for 2 minutes. Add ginger, cumin, cinnamon and crushed tomatoes and simmer of t5 minutes. Stir in the water, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Return meatballs to pan and simmer for 20 minutes or until done. Garnish with additional chopped fresh mint if desired.