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.

Asparagus Tartine

By author margaret at The Right Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1lb asparagus
  • 4 Large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons mayonaise
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 fresh, crusty baguette, cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives

Directions

1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

 

Spice-Roasted Chick Peas with Collard Greens

Spice Roasted Chick Peas with Collards

Leafy greens are getting their due respect these days, don’t you think?  I grew up eating turnip greens and spinach in Mississippi, but not collards or kale,  swiss chard or broccoli rabe. I love them all, but I’m finding collards so versatile that they are becoming my go-to healthy, leafy green veggie these days.  This version combines collards with hearty, spicy-roasted chick peas for a wonderful vegetarian main course  (if you sub water for the chicken broth) or an excellent side dish to go along with roasted meat or fish.  Healthy for sure, but super tasty as well…the way it should be.

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1 bunch collard greens, washed and chopped

1/2 large red onion, peeled and chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

1 cup low sodium chicken broth or water

1 15 ounce can chick peas, drained

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon Garam Masala

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon mustard seeds (optional)

salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat and add onions, sauté gently for 3 minutes.  Add collards and toss until they begin to wilt.  Season with salt and pepper then add the chicken broth and reduce heat a bit.  Simmer collards until tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. (add a little water if pan becomes dry before greens are tender)

Meanwhile, on a rimmed baking sheet, toss together the chick peas, olive oil, cumin, garam masala, red pepper flakes, and mustard seed. Add salt to taste ( amount will depend upon the saltiness of the brand of chick peas that you use)  Spread out into a single layer and roast in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, until fragrant and lightly brown.  Scrape chick peas into collards and toss, check for seasonings.  Serves 4-6.  Can be made ahead and reheated stovetop or microwave.

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Southern “Paté” with Pickled Red Onions and Cucumbers

 

Southern Pate 1Liver-haters stay put.  This is paté southern-style, full of black-eyed peas and country ham.  Remember Underwood Deviled Ham? The spread in the tiny paper-wrapped can with the feisty red devil on the label?  Well, this is slightly reminiscent of that… but light and fresh with the flavors of salty ham, mushrooms sautéed in dry sherry, fresh parsley and thyme and crunchy toasted pecans.  It is all held together by creamy black-eyed peas cooked with fresh jalapeno. Make it the day before for a new and different hors d’oeuvre with crusty bread and pickled veggies.  Inspired by and adapted from Southern Living Magazine.

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For the Paté:

1 1/2 cups frozen black-eyed peas

1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeded

3/4 cup chopped country ham

4 ounces button mushrooms, sliced

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided

1/4 cup dry sherry

1/2 cup toasted pecans, finely chopped

1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

For the Pickled Vegetables:

1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 english cucumber, seeded and thinly sliced

1 cups seasoned rice vinegar

1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Cover frozen black-eyed peas with water, add the fresh jalapeño, bring to a boil then simmer 15-20 minutes until tender.  Drain and put peas and jalapeño into the bowl of a food processor.  Sauté ham, mushrooms and garlic in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, stirring frequently until liquid from mushrooms has evaporated and the mixture if beginning to brown. Stir in dry sherry and cook one to two minutes more.  Scrape this mixture into the food processor with the peas.  Add the remaining oliver oil, about 5 tablespoons, and process until  smooth.  Stir in the pecans, parsley and thyme and season with black pepper.  Taste to see if salt is needed (most likely not because the country ham is quite salty).  Cover and chill for 8-24 hours.

Stir together the red onion, cucumber, rice wine vinegar, water, sugar and salt and cover and chill for 2 hours and up to 2 days.

To serve:

Spread paté onto toasted crostini or crackers and  top with a bit of the pickled vegetables.

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Little Leebos (bacon wrapped potato bites w/BBQ sauce)

bacon potato bitesBy popular demand, I offer you the treats of the tailgate, the most quickly disappearing nibble of our holiday buffet and soon to be, the must-have recipe for your Super Bowl Party. Those of you who are personally acquainted with me will know exactly who went on a one-man campaign to name these little gems.  Such devotion deserves recognition and reward.  I’ve yet to be able to make enough of these to satisfy my guests…a testament to their tastiness, not to their difficulty.   The truth is, they are very simple to throw together.

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1 pound very small potatoes (1-2 inches)

drizzle of olive oil

lemon pepper

1 pound thin sliced center cut bacon

your favorite barbecue sauce for dipping

Preheat oven to 350.  Scrub potatoes and cut each in half.  In a small bowl, toss the potatoes with just a bit of olive oil and generously season with lemon pepper.  Cut bacon slices into halves or thirds (figure out the right size for your potatoes…the bacon must wrap around the potato piece and can just meet, or slightly overlap, on the bottom).  Wrap each potato with a piece of bacon, and place them flat size down, bacon ends tucked under, on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until potatoes are tender and bacon is golden.  Remove immediately from baking sheet and cool on a wire rack or paper towels. (note: if you leave the potatoes to cool on the baking sheet, they will adsorb every bit of the fat that has been rendered from the bacon.)  Serve hot or warm with barbecue sauce for dipping.

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Flash Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Red Onion and Lemon Pepper

Flash Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts go from raw to crispy/tender in about 8 minutes in a hot oven.  So there is really no need to ever cook them any other way!  Here, I’ve given the onion a bit of a head start so that it could achieve a sweet silky flavor and texture.  The added benefit is that the sprouts get a chance to caramelize on the sizzling hot pan long before they make that unfortunate transition to mush, as they are apt to do when overcooked.  The lemon pepper brightens this vegetable dish up and the pine nuts add a rich little crunch.  Easy enough for everyday….special enough for your holiday feast.

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1 large red onion, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 cups trimmed, halved brussels sprouts

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon lemon pepper

1/4 cup pine nuts

salt and lemon pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Toss red onion and olive oil in a large roasting pan (or baking sheet with sides) spread it out, and roast until it is just starting to caramelize, 5-10 minutes.  Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan and stir in the lemon pepper.  Rinse the cut sprouts in water then put them in a medium sized bowl and pour the butter mixture oven them.  Toss well to coat. Take the roasting pan out of the oven, add the brussels sprouts mixture, toss together with the onions then spread everything out into a single layer.  Return to oven for 8-10 minutes until sprouts are just tender and turning golden brown.  Do a taste test after 6-7 minutes to see where you are… sprouts come in different sizes and you do not want to overcook them. They should be tender on the outside with a bit of a crunch in the middle. (and they will continue to cook for a minute or two after they come out of the oven so err on the side of undercooking here) Remove from oven, add pine nuts and toss to warm through.  Season with salt and a generous sprinkle of Lemon Pepper to taste.  Serve 5-6

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Once-A-Year Sourdough Cornbread Dressing

 

Thanksgiving DressingWhy “once a year”?  Well, sourdough bread and cornbread doused in butter, broth and cream just can’t be an everyday side dish.  And, there is something to be said for keeping a recipe special by only serving it once a year.  This dressing is moist on the inside from the cornbread, with crispy bits on the top from the sourdough bread.  The seasonings are subtle and the whole dish is melt-in-your-mouth rich; the perfect complement to your Thanksgiving Day turkey.  You can make this a day or two in advance, refrigerate it uncooked, and just pop it in the oven on the big day.  My recipe is adapted from one published in the New York Times a few years back.

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3/4 cup butter   (plus extra for buttering baking dish)

6 cups crumbled cornbread (see note below)

6 cups crusty sourdough bread, torn into bite sized pieces

2 cups chopped onion

2 cups chopped celery

1/2 teaspoon dried ground sage (see note below)

2 teaspoons salt

black pepper

6 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

2 cups chicken broth

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Butter 9×13 inch baking dish.  Melt the 3/4 cup butter and set aside.  In a large bowl, combine corn bead, sourdough bread, onion, celery, sage, salt and pepper to taste.  Toss until well mixed.   Add melted butter, eggs, cream and 1 1/2 cups broth. Mix lightly but well.  Mixture should be moist.  Pour into prepared baking dish, do not pack it down…you want the top to have some texture.  If mixture seems dry around edges, drizzle with remaining broth.  Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour until firm and golden brown on top.  Serves 12.

For cornbread:  You don’t want to use a sweet cornbread in this recipe.  Here is an easy, quick recipe.  

Preheat oven to 475.  Put 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a small cast iron skillet and place in the hot oven to preheat.  In a medium bowl, stir together 2 cups self-rising white cornmeal mix,  2 cups buttermilk , 1 beaten egg and 1/4 cup vegetable oil.  Just mix it quickly…ok if there are lumps.  Carefully pour batter into hot skillet and bake until golden brown.

Concerning dried sage:  Check the expiration date and smell for freshness.  Some of us find that our dried sage was left over from Thanksgivings past and is nothing more than a flavorless dust!

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Cast Iron Spicy Salmon with Parmesan Grits

 

creole salmon with parmesan grits 2Did you know that grits go with everything?  Really, they do.  Grits and Shrimp…no brainer.  Grits and Chicken…yum!  I’ve even had Grits ‘n Mussels at a restaurant in Augusta, GA.  Name any protein or vegetable. Now imagine it with grits.   See what I mean?  Grits make everything just a little bit better and this spicy salmon dish is no exception.

I’m using regular Quaker Grits in this recipe so that the whole dish can come together in about 20 minutes for an easy weeknight supper.  And you will have lots of the spice mix left over ready to add tons of flavor to most any seafood, poultry or meat. (This is a nice, well-balanced spicy rub.  Add more cayenne if you like it hot hot!)

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4 pieces of fresh salmon

spice mix (see below)

3 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup Quaker Old Fashioned White Grits

1 cup milk

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 small slivers of butter for garnish

1 green onion, thinly sliced for garnish

Check salmon for pin bones and remove if necessary.  Sprinkle salmon generously on both sides with spice rub.  Refrigerate until ready to cook.

In a medium sauce pan, bring the water and salt to a boil.  Add grits and stir well.  Lower heat to a simmer.  After 5 minutes, add milk and continue to simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until grits and tender, 10-15 minutes.  Remove from heat and add the Parmesan cheese.  Stir well and let rest in the saucepan while you cook the salmon.

Heat a well seasoned cast iron skillet over high heat.  Coat the surface with the olive oil.  Sear salmon steaks until dark golden  brown on each side then lower heat to medium high and cook until just barely translucent in the center, or to your liking.  Timing will depend on the thickness of your salmon but it shouldn’t take more than 5-6 minutes.

Spoon grits into individual serving plates or bowls and top with salmon.  Garnish with a small sliver of butter and a sprinkle of green onions and serve.  Makes 4 servings.  (with extra spice rub that you will be happy to have around!)

For the Spice Mix

1 tablespoon white pepper

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon black pepper

5 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons onion powder

2 tablespoons garlic powder

2 tablespoons dried oregano

2 tablespoons dried basil

1 tablespoon dried thyme

3 tablespoons sea salt

Stir all ingredients together in a small bowl.  Store extra in a small jar.

 

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Chocolate Fudge Pie with Salted Caramel Pecans

 

Chocolate fudge pecan pie

When a friend showed me this pie on the cover of Southern Living recently, I knew that we had to try it and the results were quite spectacular.   We made a couple of minor changes (improvements, dare I say).

First of all, the name…this is actually a chocolate pie with pecans on top. The original name “Salted Caramel Chocolate Pecan Pie” leaves one expecting a more traditional pecan pie filling.

Secondly, we didn’t care for the lemon juice in the caramel of the original recipe .… gave  it a curious taste,  so we tossed it and made it again without.  (very quick process, don’t be afraid of the caramel!)

Thirdly, the recipe calls for a deep dish pie crust. But please don’t use the frozen ones in the disposable tins.  It is almost as easy to use the Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crusts and set it in your own pie plate and crimp the edged for a more homemade look.

One more note…if you want to make sure to have gorgeous pecans for your pie, order these  Natural Extra Fancy Mammoth Pecan Halves from Sunnyland Farms.  They are amazing!  We ordered the large economical box and split it up so we will both have fresh pecans in the freezer year round.

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Chocolate Filling

1 1/2 cups sugar

3/4 cup butter, melted

1/3 cup flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 large eggs

1 cup toasted chopped pecans

1 Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust

Salted Caramel topping

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1/3 cup heavy cream

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups toasted pecan halves

flakey salt, such as Maldon, for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Unroll pie crust and set into a deep pie dish and crimp the edges decoratively.  In a large bowl, stir together the first 6 ingredients of the filling.  Add the eggs and stir until well blended.  Fold in the chopped pecans and pour the filling mixture into the pie shell.

Bake for 35 minutes.  The filling may still seem a bit loose just in the center but will continue to set as it cools.

For the caramel, bring the sugar and water to a boil in a medium saucepan over hight heat.  Do not stir.  Boil until sugar begins to change color and then swirl the pot to “stir”.  Do not walk away from the pot at this point because the sugar can go from just right to burnt very quickly.  The whole process will take about 6-8 minutes.  When it is a dark amber color, remover from heat and immediately stir in the cream and butter and salt. Set aside to cool slightly.

Arrange the toasted pecan halves on top of the cooled pie then drizzle all over with the caramel sauce.  Sprinkle with the flakey salt and let cool before serving. (serves 8)

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Main Course Spinach Salad with Prosciutto, Cannellini, and a Maple Vinaigrette

 

Spinach Salad with Cannellini and a Maple Vinaigrette

Spinach Salad with Cannellini and a Maple Vinaigrette

I love the way proscuitto changes when it is slightly warmed.  It loses the waxy texture and it’s salty flavor is intensified.  Try it in this excellent main course salad; one that can easily come together in 10-15 minutes if you have the pantry ingredients on hand.  A warm fire, a glass of Chianti and this salad are a heavenly combination!

Main Course Spinach Salad with Prosciutto, Cannellini, and a Maple Vinaigrette

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 3 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup light olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • pinch salt
  • 1 bunch baby spinach (about 6 cups, stemmed)
  • 1 can cannellini beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1/2 Small red onion (peeled and thinly sliced)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4oz thinly sliced prosciutto (cut into ribbons)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts

Note

If you are a Costco shopper, that is where you should get your prosciutto and pine nuts….good quality and best value around for these pricey ingredients.

Directions

1. In a small bowl, whisk vinaigrette ingredients together until blended. Place spinach, cannellini beans and red onion in a large bowl. Add vinaigrette and toss.
2. Melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and stir until fragrant, about a minute, then add the prosciutto and stir constantly, separating the ribbons, until it is warmed through, about 2 more minutes. Remove from the heat and let this mixture cool slightly before adding it to the salad and tossing to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.

 

 

Banana Scones with Spiced Pecan Glaze

 

banana scones with pecan spice glaze 3Here’s the thing about scones.  You can’t just go throwing in extra ingredients willy-nilly to create different flavors.  You’ll throw off the proportions and end up with a dry and cakey mess.  So in creating this new version of my favorite tea-time treat, I’ve carefully pureed a couple of very ripe bananas into the cream before mixing the dough, and then added extra layers of flavor by spicing up the glaze with nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves.  And to top it off, the pecans have been toasted in a bit of butter, salt and brown sugar for amazing taste and texture.

Banana Scones with Spiced Pecan Glaze

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (cut into pieces)
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 3/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • a couple of teaspoons milk or cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 pinch ground cloves

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
For the scones
2. In a Pyrex measuring cup, thoroughly mash the bananas then add cream and vanilla and stir well.  This mixture should total 1 1/2 cups.  Set aside.  Whisk dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt and sugar) together in a medium bowl.  Add the butter to the flour mixture and cut it in, either with a pastry fork, two table knives, or your fingers, until the butter is in small pieces (about the size of a pea) and the mixture is crumbly.  Make a well in the center of the flour/butter mixture and pour in the cream/bananas.  Using a fork, gradually work the wet and dry ingredients together to form a dough.  This will not be a wet dough so resist the temptation to add more cream.  As soon as the dough starts to come together, dump it out on a clean surface and begin to pat it out into a rectangle, about 1 1/2 inches thick.  Be careful not to overwork the dough.  Cut the rectangle in half width-wise, then cut each of those pieces into 4 squares, then cut each square into 2 triangles.  Transfer triangles to the baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or until puffed and just lightly brown around the edges.  Remove to a wire rack to cool.
Toast the pecans
3. Toast the pecans:  In a small skillet, melt the butter and add the pecan, salt and brown sugar.  Stir constantly for several minutes until pecans are warmed through and sugar is melted.  Remove from skillet and let cool.
Make the glaze
4. Sift the powdered sugar into a small bowl and add the milk or cream one teaspoon at a time until you get a thick glaze.  Stir in spices and set aside until scones are completely cooled.

When scones have cooled completely, use a table fork to drizzle glaze over each one and sprinkle generously with the pecans.  Let glaze dry before serving.  Makes 32 small scones.

 

 

End-of-the-Summer Tomato Bread Salad with Peppers and Black Olives

 Tomato Bread Salad

This salad is a combination of inspiration from the excellent dinner party thrown by Outstanding in the Field and a recipe in the founder’s book, Outstanding in the field, a farm to table cookbook, by Jim Deneven and Marah Stets.  I love the sweet roasted yellow peppers and fresh juicy tomatoes with the salty cured black olives and capers.  And the bread soaks in all the flavors of the simple vinaigrette to make this a hearty salad that you can make a meal out of. Adjust the amounts of the different ingredients to suit your taste…mine has a bit less bread and a bit more of everything else!

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1 Loaf Italian country bread, crusts removed and cut into 1-inch cubes

2 yellow bell peppers, roasted, seeded, peeled and cut into 1 inch squares (see note below)

1 pound ripe, juicy tomatoes

1 medium cucumber (I used watermelon gherkins)

2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup dry cured black olives, halved and pitted

2 handfuls baby arugula

2 teaspoons anchovy paste

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Toast the bread cubes until they are dried out all over, about 10 minutes. Cut the tomatoes in half and remove the cores and seeds.  Cut them into 1/2 inch cubes.  Peel, half, and seed the cucumber.  Cut into 1/4 inch slices

In a large bowl, combine the bread, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, arugula, capers, and olives.  Toss together until well combined,  In a small bowl, whisk together the anchovy pastes, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Drizzle vinaigrette over salad and toss well (you may not need all the dressing) .  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Let the salad sit for 15 minutes or so to let the bread soak in the vinaigrette.  (the chef suggests 3 hours, which is probably more traditional, but I like this best when the bread has soaked in the flavors yet still retains a bit of crunch around the edges).  Tear the basil leaves and add them to the salad just before serving.   Serves 6-8

NOTE:  To roast peppers:  Preheat oven to 450 degrees, roast whole peppers on a baking sheet until black and blistered all over.  Remove to a paper bag, close and let rest 15 minutes to steam themselves.  At this point you will be able to peel, core and seed them quite easily.

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Outstanding in the Field…and an End-of-the-Summer Tomato Bread Salad

IMG_3695If you want to spend an evening celebrating local farm to table cuisine, there is no better way than to attend  an Outstanding in the Field dinner party.  Sign up early….some of the venues sell out fast!  Get on the email list and be ready when they announce the new season.  Founder and Chef Jim Deneven and his trusted crew travel the country with the mission of reconnecting diners to the land and to the origins of their food.  Please enjoy some photos from last nights dinner at the beautiful and impressive Free Union Grass Farm just outside of Charlottesville, VA and then scroll down for a lovely recipe inspired by the event.

Thank you to Erica Hellen and Joel Siezak of Free Union Grass Farm, Ian Boden of Glass Haus Kitchen and the OITF crew for a memorable evening out in the field.

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Accommodations for the traveling crew

First a Tour of the Farm

First a Tour of the Farm

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“Sweet Face” a White British/Angus Mix

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The guests make their way back to the table

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Duck Breasts on the grill

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Finding a seat at the table

OITF 6

Getting to know our table-mates

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Duck Mole Bolognaise with Grits and Toasted Peanuts

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Local wines and fresh brewed beers paired with each course

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The talented chefs tour the table after dinner to enthusiastic applause

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End of the Summer Tomato Bread Salad with Peppers and Olives
(Please click on photo for recipe)