Sunday, December 18, 2016

Morsures de Concombre Bruschetta (Cucumber Bruschetta Bites)

Simple, but fancy...especially if you use the French ("morsures de concombre..."); I took these to this year's Christmas dinner party, our annual Fête de Noël, with my French lady friends.

1 English cucumber
½ C bruschetta*
¼ C crumbled chevre (feta would also work well)
fresh cracked pepper and basil leaves to garnish

* This time, I used a purchased bruschetta mix; but a quick mix of tomato, garlic, basil, maybe a little onion or olive or other herbs like oregano or a dash of paprika...anything similar would work! 

If desired, peel cucumber (I used a julienne slicer to partially peel the cucumber for added visual appeal.) Slice the cucumber. Top each slice with a half teaspoon of bruschetta. Garnish with crumbled chevre and a basil leave. Sprinkle with coarse ground black pepper.

Steak au Poivre

I suppose you could create this in entrée size portions, but I've only done it as an amuse bouche or appetizer. This recipe makes a couple dozen tasty little bites! The photo's not was taken with my phone when I took these to a 'Fête de Noël' dinner party with my French ladies. :)

1 lb baby yellow potatoes (small Yukon Golds)
2 Tbl butter
½ red onion, thinly sliced
1 shallot, thinkly sliced
1 Tbl fresh thyme
kosher salt and coarse ground pepper to taste
1½ tsp brown sugar
2 Tbl red wine vinegar
1 Tbl Worcestershire sauce
1½ Tbl mixed peppercorns, crushed or ground
     (or use more coarse ground pepper)
2 tsp kosher salt
1 8-oz filet mignon steak (thick cut, and cut into 4 strips)
¼ C sour cream
vegetable oil, for frying

The day before serving, thinly slice the potatoes (about ¼"); place in bowl of water, refrigerate. Change water every 6-8 hours. (Potatoes will be crispier when fried.)

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in pan or pot over medium heat; cook onion, shallot, thyme until very soft (about 30 min). Season with salt and pepper; stir in brown sugar, red wine vinegar and Worcestershire, cooking about another 10 minutes until liquid has evaporated or been absorbed by onions. Remove from heat and set aside.

Combine crushed peppercorns and 2 tsp kosher salt in a bowl. Toss steak with salt and crushed peppercorns to coat, pressing mixture into meat. Melt remaining tablespoon butter in skillet over medium high heat; cook steak to medium-rare, turning to brown on all sides. (Do not overcook steak -- especially if you plan to reheat just before serving!) Remove from heat onto cutting board; let rest 10 minutes.

While steak rests, drain potatoes and pat dry. Heat large pot with enough oil to cover potatoes. Fry potatoes in hot oil until golden brown on both sides, stirring and turning as needed. Remove from oil (to a rack set over a baking sheet, or onto paper towel...) season with salt. (Potatoes can be fried ahead and reheated in the oven just before assembling and serving.)

Thinly slice steak. Spoon and spread onion mixture onto each potato slice; top with a slice of steak, and a dollop of sour cream. Sprinkle with remaining crushed peppercorns.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Gravlax with Hovmästarsås Sauce

Subbing for a fellow culinary teacher (I'm on a 1-year leave from my regular position) I showed (and watched with multiple classes) a video demonstration of a chef making gravlax. I knew I had salmon in the freezer, and was inspired to try it out! Gravlax is Scandinavian, Nordic especially, and similar to lox -- a cured but not smoked salmon specialty. Traditionally the salmon is cured with salt, sugar, and dill; frequently other spices (juniper berry, horseradish) and liquor are also incorporated. Historically, the fish was buried during curing ("grav"+ "lax" ...grave salmon), so frequently a weight is placed on the fish during curing which helps the curing elements penetrate the salmon. Most often gravlax is served with hovmästarsås  which is simply a mustard-dill sauce.

Here's a very simple version. Easy, but it needs to cure about 3 days, so plan ahead.

1 lb salmon filet
1/2 C sugar
1/3 C salt (kosher or sea salt)
1 C chopped fresh dill OR 1/3 C dried dill

Serve with...
hovmästarsås sauce (recipe follows)
toasted bread / crostini
butter or cream cheese
fresh dill sprigs for garnish

About 3 days before serving...
Combine sugar and salt in small bowl. Using about 1/3 of the sugar-salt mixture, sprinkle a layer on the bottom of a pan or glass dish just big enough for salmon filet. Top with 1/3 of the dill. Set salmon filet into pan, skin side down. Sprinkle with remaining dill; top with remaining sugar-salt mixture. Cover with plastic wrap. Place a heavy pot or a pan filled with weights (or canned goods) on top of the fish and refigerate for 3 days.

About every 12 hours, drain excess liquid from the pan, flip the filet, re-weight and refrigerate.

To serve...scrape the curing elements from both sides of the fish and pat dry. Place salmon on a cutting board, skin side down; slice very thin, on a slant, across the grain, leaving the skin. Slices can be fanned on a platter for service; keep refrigerated.

Serve on thin sliced bread (a dark, heavy bread is traditional) or crostini. Spread butter or cream cheese onto bread, layer with a lettuce leaf and gravlax slice(s), top with a teaspoon of hovmästarsås sauce and garnish with a dill sprig.

Hovmästarsås Sauce Recipe:

1 small garlic clove, finely minced
2 T cider vinegar
2+ T brown sugar, to taste
2/3 C mustard (preferably coarse grain dark mustard)
1/3 C fresh chopped dill

Blend all ingredients, season to taste. Refrigerate until serving; serve at room temperature.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Turnips Anna

This one comes from Sunset Magazine. Inspired by Pommes Anna, with turnips instead of the traditional potatoes. I'm always looking for tasty ways to get more veggies into my diet. A little cheese and bacon in this recipe go a long way. In fact, though it was delicious as is, a little less bacon would still be delicious; or at least with the cured bacon, I would do without the salt next time I make this recipe. And add a little extra of the thyme, which I personally love. Personalize it to your own taste!

6 T butter, melted
6 oz sliced bacon
½ C shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 T flour
½ tsp fresh thyme leaves, minced
     (additional thyme sprigs for garnishing)
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 lbs small - medium turnips, peeled and trimmed

Generously brush a 9" pie pan with butter. Preheat oven to 425˚, with rack in lower third of oven.

Brown bacon until crisp; drain, and chop.

Combine bacon, cheese, flour, minced thyme, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Thinly slice turnips into rounds - easiest using a handheld slicer or mandoline. Arrange one sixth of the turnips in concentric, slightly overlapping circles, in a layer in a pie pan. (I only did 4 layers.) Evenly sprinkle a heaping 2 tablespoons of bacon-cheese mixture over turnips, and drizzle with about 2 tablespoons melted butter. Repeat layers, ending with turnips.

Lightly butter bottom of another 9" pie pan; set on top of turnips and add pie weights, dried beans or other oven-proof weights. Set layered pans on a rimmed baking sheet to catch bubbling butter. Bake until edge turns golden (about 50 minutes). Remove top pie pan with weights. Continue to bake until browned on top (10-15 minutes more).

Loosen Anna from pan with a knife; invert onto/into serving plate or dish. Garnish with additional thyme sprigs.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

This is an approximate recipe...but soup is easy to make by tasting and adjusting along the way!

¼ C olive oil
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
2 yellow onions, rough chopped
50-60 oz canned, diced tomatoes (with juice)
2 C chicken broth
¼ C sugar
2 tsp dried oregano
12-15 large, fresh basil leaves
1-2 C cream
salt & pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan or stock pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic; heat until fragrant. Add chopped onions, cooking until soft and translucent (8-10 minutes), stirring frequently.

Add diced tomatoes, broth, sugar, oregano and basil; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 30 minutes (more is fine, let those flavors blend). Using an immersion blender, purée until smooth.* Add cream as you purée, return to boil. Season to taste with salt & pepper.

Serving suggestions: Serve with cheese lace (pictured), topped with shredded parmesan, a dollop of sour cream, a fresh basil leaf...

* If you don't have an immersion blender, simply work in batches to purée soup in a standard blender.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Apple Bacon Muffins

Apple + bacon = delicious! The bacon in this recipe wasn't particularly prominent.Maybe it just needs a little more. I added a some crumble topping, and maybe I should have put some bacon in it to boost the flavor. They were definitely good enough to try again, and fiddle with the recipe a little.

½ C brown sugar
¼ C butter, softened
2 eggs
2/3 C milk
2 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 T cinnamon
¾ C apple, finely chopped
½ C cooked, drained, chopped bacon

Preheat oven to 350˚. Spray muffin tin cups or line with paper liners.

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs. Combine dry ingredients, then add to creamed mixture, alternately with milk. Fold in apple and bacon just until blended.

Fill muffin cups full. [Optional - top with crumble topping.] Bake 20 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in the pan, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Pumpkin Bars

Generally I bake these in a jelly roll pan (baking sheet with a 1" lip) and cut them into bars, though they're more cake-like in texture than like a bar cookie. I'd love a good pumpkin cookie recipe, but I've yet to find a good recipe that really has a cookie-like texture. Most of them are more cake or muffin like in texture. I baked some of these up like mini cupcakes recently (pictured), and that worked just fine too. 

11/3 C sugar
4 eggs
½ C oil
½ C applesauce
15 oz pumpkin puree
2 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350˚. Grease and flour (or coat with non-stick cooking spray) a jelly roll pan or line with parchment.

Blend first 5 ingredients until smooth. Combine dry ingredients, including spices; add to pumpkin mixture. Pour into prepared pan, smoothing and spreading as needed to an even depth.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes until center is dry (the 'clean toothpick' test works here).

Top with sweetened whipped cream, cream cheese frosting, or a simple powdered sugar icing.
Or do like I did: I didn't use a recipe for the topping...just blended cream cheese with some maple syrup, a little cinnamon, folded in some whipped cream...

Monday, August 29, 2016

Quick and Easy Apple Tart

This isn't the best apple tart I've ever had, but it IS quick and easy. It's from 'The Pioneer Woman'.  Recipe  It's not fall yet (though the leaves across the vacant lot that is currently my main view are turning yellow), so I'm NOT reaching for the pumpkin and spice just yet. is overcast and rainy -- well, showers -- and an apple tart just sounded delicious today.

I dusted mine with a little powdered sugar, but I like her idea of drizzling it with some caramel. I'll try that next time...

Friday, August 12, 2016

Stuffed Cabbage (Polish - gołąbki)

Maybe not a recipe that will especially entice a lot of people, but...I had 1/2 a cabbage leftover from another recipe, and I'm always interested in trying something new (especially something that combines more vegetables with the meat), I figured I'd give it a shot. After perusing a variety of recipes and noting consistently common ingredients in all, this is an amalgamation of two different recipes, choosing the ingredients based on flavors I know I like personally. I really don't know how 'traditional' it may be.

Sauce Ingredients
1 15-oz can crushed tomatoes, with juice
1 C mire poix (1/2 C onion, 1/4 C carrot, 1/4 C celery - all finely diced*)
½ C brown sugar
¼ C red wine vinegar
¼ C lemon juice
2 T cornstarch, dissolved in ¼ C water

* I'm not a fan of celery, so I tend to go light on the celery and throw in a little extra onion and/or carrot.

Stuffed Cabbage Ingredients
½ large (or 1 small) head cabbage
1 lb ground beef (or combination beef & pork)
1½ C cooked rice (cook in chicken stock for extra flavor; I used a whole grain, wild rice blend)
2 eggs
½ C bread crumbs
½ C caramelized onions
¼ C brown sugar
½ tsp thyme
¼ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp each salt & pepper

Prepare cabbage...  Use a pairing knife to remove core. For the most tender leaves, freeze the cabbage the day ahead. With or without freezing, bring a large pot of water to boil; boil cabbage until leaves are tender and pull apart easily (approx. 5 minutes, or slightly more if not frozen). If ribs are still too tough, trim thickest parts.

Mix sauce...  In saute pan, cook mire poix with a little oil until onions are translucent and carrots have softened. Dissolve cornstarch in water; combine mire poix, cornstarch and remaining ingredients in saucepan, bring to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer for ½ hour.

Prepare filling... stir together ground beef, cooked rice, bread crumbs, caramelized onions, brown sugar, thyme, garlic powder, salt & pepper. (Add a little extra bread crumbs or a little of the sauce if mixture is too soggy or too dry...should be a relatively firm meatloaf consistency.)

Pre-heat oven to 375˚.
Pour a thin layer of sauce to cover the bottom of 9x13 baking dish. Place generous ½ cup of meat filling near the rib end of a cabbage leaf; roll toward the outer leaf, tucking in sides as you go. Place seam side down in baking dish. Continue until all meat mixture is rolled in leaves and placed in baking dish. Pour remaining sauce over rolls. To retain moisture during cooking, spread remaining cabbage leaves over top of rolls. Cook 1 hour. 

Stuffed Cabbage rolls -- and the extra sauce -- can be served with mashed potatoes, rice or pasta.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Roasted Figs

8-10 fresh, ripe figs
3 oz (+/-) chevre or ricotta
¼ C honey
1-2 T balsamic glaze
flakey salt

Preheat oven to 400˚.

Slice figs in half, lengthwise; place in baking dish, cut side up. Top each fig with a teaspoon or more of chevre. (To really dress up these figs, wrap the m with prosciutto before baking.) Bake 10-12 minutes, until figs are very soft.

While figs are roasting...
In a small bowl, mix honey and balsamic.

Cool figs slightly; drizzle with honey-balsamic mixture, sprinkle lightly with salt.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Sausage & Mushroom stuffed Mini-Peppers

Using up leftovers...

1 lb sausage (actually a little more than a pound)
8 oz mushrooms
1 green bell pepper
½ medium onion
1 tsp minced garlic
8 oz cream cheese
1 tsp dried basil
s & p to taste
¼ cup bread crumbs
15-18 sweet, mini-peppers

Pre-heat oven to 375˚.

Finely dice mushrooms, bell pepper and onion. In skillet, brown sausage. Add mushrooms to brown (or brown separately first). Add onion, diced bell pepper and garlic; cook until softened. Reduce heat; add cream cheese and dried basil, stirring until fully incorporated. Remove from heat. Salt & pepper to taste.

Halve mini-peppers, removing ribs and seeds. Place halved side up in baking dish drizzled very lightly with oil. Spoon sausage & mushroom mixture into each pepper half. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake 25 minutes.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Bacon Jam

1 lb bacon, diced
1 lg onion, diced
2 Tbl brown sugar
2 Tbl maple syrup
¼ C apple cider vinegar
¼ tsp thyme
salt & pepper to taste

Crisp the bacon in a skillet; remove onto paper towel to drain, reserving as much as possible of the drippings in the skillet. Add onion to skillet and drippings (adding a little extra canola oil if needed); cook to soften and caramelize onions (approx. 15-20 minutes).

Return bacon to skillet along with brown sugar, maple syrup, vinegar and thyme. Cook over low heat to full dissolve brown sugar and thoroughly heat all ingredients.

Remove from heat; cool to room temperature. If desired, pulse in food processor to desired, spreadable consistency. Salt & pepper to taste.

Great on burgers (full bacon flavor in every bite without fighting strips of bacon sliding off your burger). Probably would be delicious on a BLT too. I'm curious to try it on my Peanut Butter Apple & Bacon Sandwich. :)

Friday, July 15, 2016

Lime & Sesame Vinaigrette

After the relatively recent miso-orange vinaigrette, I wanted to try for another (better) Asian-inspired vinaigrette...

1 lg shallot, finely chopped
1 C fresh lime juice
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
½ C toasted sesame oil
½ C vegetable oil
¼ C soy sauce
3 T honey or maple syrup

Combine shallot and lime juice in a bowl; season with salt and pepper. Let sit 10 minutes. Add sesame oil, vegetable oil, soy sauce and honey/syrup. Whisk to combine. Season with additional salt and/or pepper to taste.

This was good on a salad of fresh greens (cabbage, slivered scallions, and shredded carrots play nicely with the Asian flavors) along with mandarin orange wedges topped with crunchy chow mein noodles or peanuts -- sprinkled with sesame seeds, garnished with finely chopped fresh mint and/or cilantro leaves...  Some grilled, diced chicken or pork makes for a heartier salad. Add more or less of anything to suit your tastes.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Corn & Bacon Bucatini

Serves 4

2 lg ears corn on the cob
8 oz bucatini
½ C half-and-half
1 egg yolk
1 tsp each kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
4-5 oz bacon shredded parmesan, divided
1 T minced garlic
½ C shredded parmesan, divided

Cook corn in a large pot of lightly salted water -- about 5 min. Remove corn to cool slightly; add bucatini to water and cook to al dente. Drain, reserving a cup of pasta water.

Cut corn from cobs. Whisk together half and half, egg yolk, salt and pepper.

In a skillet, cook bacon until crisp; remove from skillet -- reserving bacon drippings. Chop or crumble bacon. Add garlic to hot skillet, cooking and stirring briefly (1 min). Reduce heat, then add cream mixture, corn, and crumbled bacon; bring to boiling. Add pasta and ¼ C parmesan. Bring pasta back to temperature, adding pasta water to desired consistency.

Serve topped with remaining shredded parmesan.

I didn't have bucatini and just used spaghetti, and if I was making this for company I'd go with yellow corn instead of white (which is what I had on hand) just for more colorful presentation...

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Rhubarb crisp (or pie, or rhubarb anything) wasn't something I ever had growing up. My mom didn't make it, and I don't remember either of my grandmothers making it either -- though it sounds like something they would likely have made, especially my Grandma Margaret who was also an avid gardener. Anyway, my brother-in-law recently mentioned how much he liked rhubarb dishes (and rarely gets them -- likely because they're no more in my sister's baking repertoire than mine!), so I thought I'd give it a go...

Serves 8-10

Fruit Filling Ingredients
4 C rhubarb, large diced (1")
4 C strawberries, large diced
1 C sugar
zest and juice of one orange (about ½ C juice, and close to 2 tsp zest)
1 T cornstarch

Crumble Topping Ingredients
¾ C flour
1 C rolled oats
¼ C sugar
½ C brown sugar
½  tsp salt
¾ C butter, diced

Preheat oven to 350˚. In a large bowl, combine rhubarb, strawberries, sugar and zest. Dissolve cornstarch in orange juice; add to rhubarb-strawberry mixture and gently stir to combine. Spoon or pour mixture into 9x13 (or even slightly larger) baking dish.

In a large bowl, stir together first 5 ingredients of crumble topping to evenly distribute. Cut in butter and continue mixing until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Spread evenly over fruit in baking dish. Bake 1 hour, until fruit is bubbling and crumble topping is golden brown.

Best served warm, with ice cream or whipped cream.

#1   I think this recipe makes a generous amount of crumble topping! I've never had complaints along those lines, but you could probably do with less, or save some for another recipe.

#2   Since the fruit may very well bubble over the edge of the dish, it's not a bad idea to put a large baking sheet under the 9x13 pan, or on the lower rack of the oven to catch any drips or spills. Line it with foil or parchment to make clean-up even easier.

Photo -- not exactly a 'glamour shot' as it's simply still in the baking dish...but it's going to my brother-in-law whole, tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Tomato Butter

½ C butter
2 plum tomatoes
2 t olive oil
1 t fresh thyme leaves
½ t salt
1 clove garlic

Seed and quarter tomatoes. Toss tomatoes and garlic with oil, thyme and salt. Spread on baking sheet and bake at 375˚ about 35-40 minutes -- until tomatoes are soft and garlic is golden. Let cool. Puree with butter. Serve on bread, corn on the cob, chicken, steak...

If you're short on time, you can make a similar compound butter using jarred, sun-dried tomatoes, which are typically already seasoned with garlic and herbs/spices.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Miso-Citrus Vinaigrette

3 T fresh orange juice
1 T white miso
1 T rice mirin
½ t grated, peeled fresh ginger
¼ C peanut oil*
         * If you have peanut allergies, just use canola

Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl, whisking until thoroughly incorporated. Slowly drizzle oil into mixture, whisking constantly until well blended.

A bit too salty for my taste (so I might play around with the proportions) but I like the flavor combination. Recommended for on fresh greens, grains, seafood...

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Bacon Sweet Potato Waffles

Hmmm...this recipe is really hit and miss. Sweet potato and bacon -- a 'hit' flavor combination! But the texture and technique of this "recipe" -- definitely needs help. (Of course, I'm not a 'paleo' dieter; and if this recipe is typical, it would not inspire me to go paleo!)

Original 'recipe' here:

There's no measure of any kind indicated for the sweet potato, and with a large sweet potato, I had to add an extra egg as binder just to keep the 'batter' from falling apart. 

There's no flour. Or leavening of any kind other than the eggs. The sweet potatoes are raw, cooked only by the waffle iron, so the 'batter' isn't really a batter...just a collection of separate ingredients. With egg and a little oil (I used the bacon drippings for extra flavor). The blogger's preference for "crispy" waffles is probably a necessity if you don't want raw sweet potato bits in your waffles -- I shredded mine, so pieces were quite small. And the advice to "remove waffles carefully" is needed...with no real 'batter' they fall apart very easily.

This recipe indicates serving waffles as either savory or sweet. The sweet potato and bacon combo can easily go both ways, but with garlic salt in the 'batter' and chives...that might not be quite so tasty if you want to go sweet. Maybe keep the 'batter' neutral (plain salt) and serve the waffles with a garlic-chive compound butter if you want to go savory? Or a garlic-chive sour cream sauce? Standard maple syrup would go great with these flavors for a sweet waffle.

I'm still inspired by the sweet potato and bacon flavor combo in a waffle, so I may play around and come up with a better recipe. (I've no intention of limiting it to a paleo diet.) Probably some batter to hold it all together, though I like the texture -- some precooked mashed sweet potato? with some flour, and a little leavening for fluffiness -- and maybe a bit of orange juice and/or zest to 'zing' up the flavor. We'll see... hopefully I'll post again soon.

4/25/2016 UPDATE:  MY version of Bacon Sweet Potato Waffles
Figured I'd better do this right away; otherwise it just gets forgotten! Side-by-side pics show a bit of difference: lighter/brighter color -- probably from the OJ, fluffier due to baking powder, and with a bit of batter from the mashed sweet potato and a little flour, they hold together instead of falling apart all around the edges.

Serves 2

8 oz bacon
1 large (or 2 smallish) sweet potato
zest of 1 orange
1-2 T orange juice
2 eggs
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ C flour (I used whole wheat)*

* If you have celiac disease or are avoiding gluten by choice, you might be able to skip the flour altogether...maybe cut down on (or cut out) the OJ so your batter isn't too runny; the zest will still add flavor. Or substitute a gluten free rice or corn flour. You'd know options better than I would! :)

Fry bacon until crisp. Crumble; set aside.

Peel and shred about half the sweet potato (I ended up with 1¼ C). Cook the other half until tender (I did mine in the microwave; quick!). Cool until handle-able; While it cools...

Mix orange zest and juice into shredded sweet potato. Not only does this taste great, but it keeps the potato from oxidizing...stays nicely bright orange. Add bacon and toss to combine. Set aside.

Preheat waffle iron.

Scoop cooked sweet potato out of the skin. Discard skin. Mash sweet potato (I had about 1¼ or maybe 1½ C of mashed sweet potato). Add eggs, salt, baking powder and flour, mixing thoroughly. Stir shredded sweet potato and bacon mixture into batter. 

Drop scoops of batter onto waffle iron; cook until nicely browned, slightly crispy (very little steam should be coming out of your waffle iron when they're cooked through).

These are great 'sweet' waffles with a little butter and maple syrup. If you want to go the savory route, try garlic butter and fresh minced chives. (Or if you're a chicken and waffle eater maybe try that? It's not really my thing, but it could work!)

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Chicken Dijon

makes 4 servings

1¾-2 lbs chicken breasts or thighs (boneless or bone in)
 ½+ C Dijon mustard
     ~ quality vs cheap mustard can make a noticeable difference,
     don't skimp for good flavor; Maille or Grey Poupon hold up well.
fresh ground pepper
1 C white vermouth, or other white wine
1 C heavy cream
¼ C chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Cut large breasts in half vertically -- allowing more surface area for marinade. Keep pieces similar in size for even cooking. Coat chicken with Dijon on both sides; place in baking dish (lightly coated with non-stick cooking spray, for easy clean-up). Grind fresh pepper over chicken; gently pour vermouth over chicken. Let stand to marinate 1 hour.

Bake at 350˚ F, 35 minutes; check for doneness.

Scrape Dijon of chicken into large skillet; place chicken on a plate; cover with foil to keep warm.

Pour marinade into skillet with Dijon; boil until vermouth reduces by half. Add cream. Whisk periodically as mixture reduces to velvety sauce that coats back of wooden spoon (nappe).

Place chicken pieces into sauce to return to temperature for serving.

Typical 'French' serving suggestion: Serve with fresh greens, alongside French-style creamy mashed potatoes (link to recipe coming soon), drizzling sauce over chicken and potatoes.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Frisée-Romaine Salad with Bacon and Croutons

4 large (or 6-8 small) servings.

I want to make and post/save this recipe; but I don't have Frisée on hand. Or Romaine. I do have lettuce and I'd like to use what I have before I buy more (or what I have would just end up going bad). AND I have leftover croutons (store bought) to use up as well. So...what I've made -- and pictured -- is sort of a 'corrupted' version of the recipe. Though it was still delicious, the recipe AS IS is  definitely better!!

1 head Frisée lettuce
1 head romaine
8 oz thick sliced bacon
4 large slices quality, artisan bread
    ~ whole wheat, sourdough...anything will work; suit your tastes
2 T olive oil
2 T butter
salt & pepper
optional: granulated garlic
vinaigrette -- recipe below, though any vinaigrette will work

Wash and dry lettuce; cut or rip into small pieces.

Cut bacon into ¼" pieces; fry until slightly crispy. Drain well on paper towel lined plate.

Cut bread into small cubes. Melt butter and olive oil together. Toss bread with butter-oil mixture. Sprinkle and toss with salt, pepper, and garlic (if desired). Bake in 325˚ F oven 20 minutes (or more) until just becoming crunchy.

Toss lettuces with vinaigrette; add bacon and croutons, toss well. Serve.

1/3 C red wine vinegar
1 T Dijon mustard
¼ tsp salt
pinch black pepper
2/3 C extra-virgin olive oil

Whisk together first 4 ingredients. Slowly whisk in olive oil to emulsify.

Spiced Chicken with Apple

Serves 4

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (6 oz ea)
½ tsp + pinch salt
¼ tsp pepper
½ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp turmeric
1 T olive oil
2 apples, cut into thin wedges
       ~ Gala apples recommended, but others will work; suit your taste
1 red onion, thinly sliced
juice of 1 lemon
½ C chicken broth
1 T honey

Season chicken with ½ tsp salt, pepper, allspice and turmeric. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook until browned (3-4 min per side). Transfer chicken to plate and set aside.

Add apples, onion and pinch salt to skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned (about 4 min). Add lemon juice to skillet, deglaze pan (30 seconds); add chicken broth and honey. Bring to boil; reduce heat to simmer.

Place chicken breasts on top of simmering apple-onion mixture. Cover, cook until chicken is thoroughly cooked (165˚ F) and sauce is slightly reduced (approx 6 minutes, but varies with thickness of chicken breasts).

Bacon Vinaigrette

Makes enough to dress approx 6 C fresh greens.

2 T strained bacon fat/drippings
4 tsp minced shallot
¼ C dry sherry vinegar
½ tsp minced fresh tarragon
½ tsp sugar
¼ tsp each salt & pepper

Saute shallot in bacon fat over medium-low heat about 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in remaining ingredients. Best when used immediately, still warm.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Vanilla Buttercream

makes about 4 cups

2 C butter, room temperature
4 C confectioners' sugar, sifted
½ C whole milk
2 T vanilla extract

Beat butter on high speed until very pale and very fluffy (at least 5 minutes), scraping down sides of bowl 2 or 3 times during process.

With mixer on low, slowly add sugar. Scrape bowl again. Slowly add in milk and vanilla; mix until combined. Scrape bowl again.

Beat on high speed until buttercream is extremely fluffy, 8 to 10 minutes. It should look almost like whipped cream.

Right now...only have a picture of it in the bowl. I'll try to add one with it on a cake soon.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Vanilla-Prosecco Pound Cake

To give credit, this recipe may have come from Better Homes & Gardens. A search on their website didn't turn up anything however, so I can't be sure. It's a decent pound cake, but nothing outstanding -- especially considering all the vanilla paste and prosecco. I'd leave off the glaze next time, dust it with a little powdered sugar and serve it with fresh fruit...and save the prosecco to drink with it (use fruit juice IN the cake).

3 C flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 C prosecco (or other sparkling wine)*
3 T sour cream
2 C sugar
¾ C unsalted butter, melted
¼ C canola or safflower oil
5 eggs, cold
2 T vanilla paste (or extract)

Icing ingredients: 1 C powdered sugar, 1 T sparkling wine

Preheat oven to 350˚. Grease and flour a 10" tube pan; set aside.

In large bowl sift together flour, baking powder, salt; set aside.

In large bowl of stand mixer, beat sugar, melted butter, and oil until well combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Continue to beat on medium to high 3-5 minutes until thicker and lighter in color.

Add a third of flour mixture, beating on low until just combined. Add half prosecco mixture next, then another third of flour, then remaining prosecco, then flour; beat until just combined after each addition.

Pour or spoon batter into prepared tube pan. Bake 50-55 minutes, until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack 15 minutes. Turn out of pan, onto rack; cool completely. Drizzle with prosecco glaze.

* For an alcoholic-free pound cake, substitute milk or a fruit juice. Fruit juices will, of course, alter the flavor...but that might be an intentional choice!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Nựớc Chẩm

a.k.a. 'awesome sauce' -- or so says Cooking Light magazine. (It's their photo.) Lots of versions of nuoc cham sauce can be found, but the sweet, salty, sour and spicy blend typically comes from some kind of sugar, fish sauce, lime and chile. Other ingredients vary. This is a fairly typical recipe...

¼ C water
2 T sugar
¼ C matchstick-cut carrots (optional)
3 T lime juice
4 tsp fish sauce
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1 Tha chile, thinly sliced

Combine water and sugar; stir -- or shake, in a sealed container -- until sugar dissolves. Add remaining ingredients.Refrigerate up to 3 days.

Use as a baste for grilling, a dressing/marinade for shredded cabbage, toss with soba noodles, as a dipping sauce for spring rolls...

Whole Wheat Chocolate Waffles

Does the fact that they're whole wheat counterbalance the fact that they're chocolate? Actually, the original recipe called for buckwheat -- which isn't really wheat -- so it's gluten free. I don't care about being gluten free. And I don't have buckwheat, but I did use whole wheat flour. These are fun (chocolate!) for a special treat. My only complaint is that they don't have the little bit of crispness I love in a waffle's edges.

1 C whole wheat flour
1/3 C unsweetened cocoa
¾ tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla
1¼ C buttermilk
¼ C water
1 T oil
2 egg yolks
3 egg whites
6 T sugar

whipped cream (or yogurt)

Slice or chop strawberries, lightly sweeten with sugar; set aside.

Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. In separate bowl, whisk together vanilla, buttermilk, water, oil and egg yolks. Stir buttermilk mixture into flour until well combined.

Preheat waffle iron.

In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff, not dry. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. continue beating until stiff, glossy peaks form. Gently fold a third of the egg whites into the batter. Add remaining egg whites, folding until well combined.

Coat waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray. Spoon batter (about ½ C) onto waffle iron, spreading toward edges. Cook until lightly browned and little to no steam is still escaping (3-4 minutes). Repeat cooking spray and spooning batter until all batter is cooked.

Serve with lightly sweetened strawberries (I added fresh chopped mint to mine) and whipped cream. Or opt for vanilla yogurt instead of the whipped cream. Toasted almonds were also a topping in the original recipe.

Leftovers, if there are any, once completely cooled, can be stored in zip-top plastic bags up to a month in freezer; use toaster to reheat.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Spaghetti Squash with Peanut Sauce

The inspiration came from Food Network magazine a while back (Food Network's photo @ top), though I didn't use their recipe... 

I had leftover peanut sauce from making Chicken Satay skewers, If you're not inspired to take on either of those peanut sauce recipes, here's a quicker 'cheater' version of  Easy Thai Peanut Sauce as an option.

I usually don't get excited about a big bowl of squash as my whole dinner. But with a good dousing of peanut sauce, a few chopped peanuts, some chopped mint and/or cilantro, and a sprinkle of pepper flakes...a bowl of squash starts to sound like a pretty good (healthy!) way to go.

How to roast a spaghetti squash...

Friday, March 25, 2016

White Chocolate Popcorn Balls (or...Easter Eggs!)

This is an adaptation of a recipe some of my Culinary Arts students tested and promoted for the "Good Citizens" treats we make and send to the elementary school at the end of each month (  ...with a few adaptations). Since Easter comes early this year, we added some food coloring, substituted some rainbow nonpareil "sprinkles" instead of the almonds (one of the 8 common allergens, and generally avoided in school snacks for groups of students). Achieving a true egg-shape is a challenge, especially working fairly quickly to get the entire batch shaped before the marshmallow-chocolate mixture cools too much. But I think the elementary students -- who are not severe critics to begin with -- will enjoy them!

Yield: about 56 (or so says Martha...but only if you make bite-sized tiny balls)

4 quarts popped popcorn
oil for popping
 tsp salt
3 Tbls unsalted butter
10 oz marshmallows
6 oz white chocolate
1/3 C sliced almonds (we used rainbow nonpareil 'sprinkles')
non-stick cooking spray
optional: food coloring

Pop popcorn in a large sauce pan or stock pot (with a lid): Using jut enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan, add corn kernels over medium-high heat; swirl and shake frequently to avoid burning. Sprinkle popcorn with salt. (Remove unpopped kernels.)

Melt butter in large pan over low heat. Add marshmallows and chocolate, stirring until melted. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring.

Remove from heat; quickly stir in almonds and popcorn and then nonpareils. Shape into balls (or semi egg shaped oblongs!J  Transfer to baking sheet lined with parchment paper; let stand 30 minutes. We didn't find the parchment paper to be necessary, but it does make for easy clean-up.

Can be stored airtight up to 1 day.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Fried Cabbage with Bacon, Onion & Garlic

Fried cabbage...not necessarily high on my list. But bacon makes everything better! And onion and garlic round out the flavors. I'll post the recipe as I first found it; however... I could do with less salt, especially with the saltiness of the bacon, and I had no garlic powder on hand, but threw in a good amount of fresh minced garlic. I also felt the end product was a bit overcooked. I'd like my cabbage to be tender, but still have a little crunch to it. But I suppose that's easy to suit your personal taste.

6 slices bacon, chopped
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large head cabbage, cored and sliced
1 T salt, or to taste
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp paprika

Place bacon in large stockpot; cook over medium-high heat until crispy (approx 10 min). Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until onion caramelizes (approx 10 min more). Immediately stir in cabbage; continue to cook and stir another 10 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, approx 30 minutes more.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Sweet Potato Fritters

1 lb sweet potatoes (about 2½ C)
1 egg
¼ C brown sugar
2 T butter
1 C flour
¼ C fine dry bread crumbs
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
vegetable oil for deep frying

Peel sweet potatoes, cut into ½" pieces. Boil in large stockpot 12-15 minutes until very tender. Drain; cool slightly. Combine sweet potatoes, egg, and brown sugar, blending until smooth. (Using a food processor makes this quick and easy, but it's not necessary.)

In separate bowl, combine flour bread crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add to sweet potato mixture, blending until just combined.

In a large heavy saucepan, heat 1" oil to 350˚. Drop batter by heaping tablespoons into hot oil. Fry in batches about 2 minutes, turning once, or until fritters are golden. Remove with a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels.

These are tasty as a savory appetizer or side dish (serve with a yogurt-garlic-chive dipping sauce*), or dust with powdered sugar for a beignet/doughnut-like bite of sweet.
* 6 oz of yogurt with a tablespoon of minced fresh chives and clove of garlic

Monday, March 14, 2016

Basic Meringue

4 egg whites, room temperature
½ tsp cream of tartar
¼ tsp salt
2¼ C powdered sugar
optional: food coloring

Preheat oven to 250˚. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Beat egg whites, cream of tartar and salt in large bowl with mixer on medium speed until foamy. Increase speed and beat until thick and opaque (about 1 minute more). Gradually add powdered sugar a little (¼ C) at a time; beat until stiff shiny peaks form (about 5 more minutes).

Scoop or pipe meringue into desired shapes and bake about 3 hours (4 for larger/thicker shapes) until dry and crisp. Let cool completely on baking sheets. Store in airtight container in dry place for up to 1 week.

Lots of ways to serve these... color with food coloring and pipe into various shapes, sandwich two cookies with jam, dust with cocoa powder, fold in chocolate chips just before piping and baking, dip bottoms in melted white chocolate and then in colored sanding sugar...

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Honey - Peach & Blackberry Cobbler

2¼ C flour, divided
8 C chopped, peeled peaches (about 4 lbs)
¼ C honey
3 T fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp salt, divided
3 C blackberries
¾ C sugar
1 T lemon zest
1 tsp baking powder
6 T chilled butter, small diced
1¼ C low-fat buttermilk
2 T turbinado sugar
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400˚. Lightly coat 9x13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Combine ¼ C flour, peaches, honey, juice, and ¼ tsp salt in a large bowl, toss gently. Let stand 15 minutes. Fold in blackberries. Spoon mixture into baking dish.

Combine 2 C flour, ½ tsp salt, sugar, zest, and baking powder. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk; stir until just combined.

Drop dough onto top of peach-blackberry mixture. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake 40 minutes or until bubbly and golden.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Soft Pretzels

 This recipe (a slight adaptation of FoodNetwork's version) makes a dozen LARGE pretzels, or 2 dozen smaller pretzels or pretzel 'knots'. (See lower photo.) For the knots, I used  half whole wheat flour; some are simply lightly salted, some I topped with shredded cheese, some I brushed with honey butter and sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds. Lots of options...

3 T butter, cubed, then softened
2 T butter, melted
2 T dk brown sugar
1 pkg (2¼ tsp) active dry yeast
6 C flour
2 tsp salt
1/3 C baking soda
coarse salt for sprinkling on pretzels
mustard, for dipping

In bowl of stand mixer, combine 2 C warm water, cubed butter, and brown sugar. Sprinkle yeast on top; let stand 10 minutes.

Add 3 C flour and 2 tsp salt; mix on low speed using dough hook; increase speed to medium as flour incorporates. Return to low speed; add remaining 3 C flour. As flour incorporates, increase speed to
medium, mixing until dough leaves sides of bowl and balls around dough hook. Continue kneading -- in mixer or by hand -- 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic.

Coat a large bowl with oil; add dough, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 1 hour).

Line baking sheets with parchment paper, lightly coat with non-stick cooking spray. Punch down dough. Divide in half; divide each half into 6 equal pieces.

Roll out each piece of dough into a 'rope' on flat surface, start in middle roll out to 24"; occasionally lift dough by ends, slapping middle against the counter to stretch evenly. Lay rope in a 'U' then cross ends twice and fold ends downward to create pretzel shape. Gently place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with all 12 pieces.

Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes; pretzels should be slightly puffed.

Preheat oven to 425˚.

Cut parchment into separate 'squares' around each pretzel*; remove from baking sheets. Reline sheets with parchment. Fill a wide pot with 6 C water. Add baking soda, whisking to dissolve; bring to simmer. Using parchment, gently transfer pretzels into simmering water*; simmer until pretzels plump (about 45 seconds per side). Remove with a skimmer or slotted spoon, letting excess water drain off. Place on parchment lined baking sheets. Sprinkle with salt.

Bake until golden brown (12 to 15 minutes). Rotate, upper to lower rack, half way through when cooking two trays. Brush with melted butter. Serve with mustard for dipping.

* As BIG as these pretzels are, the parchment paper squares really did help transferring them from one surface to another and into the simmering water bath. With the smaller 'knots' I was able to do it easily enough by hand.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Hummus Stuffed Zucchini with Tomato & Basil

Serves 6-8 (appetizer portions)

3 medium (or 4 small) zucchini
10 oz hummus
2 C cherry tomatoes (red or yellow)
¼ C red onion, thinly sliced
2 T fresh basil, chiffonade
2 T olive oil
2 t red wine vinegar
¼ C panko breadcrumbs
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350˚.

Trim zucchini ends and slice in half lengthwise. Place zucchini in baking dish, flesh side up, with a little water in the bottom; bake 20 minutes or until inner flesh is softened.

As zucchini cooks, halve tomatoes; toss together with onion, basil, 1 T of olive oil, and red wine vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Remove zucchini from oven; cool as needed until handleable. Scoop out inner, seeded flesh of zucchini; discard or reserve for another use. Spoon hummus into hollowed out zucchini halves*. Top with tomato mixture. Sprinkle panko crumbs over top and lightly drizzle with remaining olive oil.

Return to oven for 10 minutes, using broiler for final 3 minutes to slightly brown tops.

Best served warm.

* If I was making a larger quantity of these, using a pastry bag to pipe the hummus into the zucchini halves would be quicker and easier -- and easier to be neat for a tidier presentation; but for just a few, it's probably not worth the trouble.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

South African Melktert (Milk Tart)

Of Dutch influence, there are various versions/recipes of this African dessert -- basically a vanilla 'cream'/milk pie. Here's a very typical recipe from My World Lit students are just finishing up our African Literature unit and this was on the menu as part of the celebration.

Without the support of a Culinary Arts class this semester, I used store bought pie crusts. I'd prefer homemade, but there's only so much I have time for as we're nearing finals.

JULY 2017 Update:
Here's another melktert recipe. Probably a bit more authentic...a South African family's recipe.