Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pot Pie Soup with a Little Warmth ( or a big kick! )

We pulled the last frozen turkey out this week and so one meal was soup.  This time I wanted the flavor of pot pie.  I also added fresh horseradish for the kick and passed more at the table.  If you're not in to horseradish you can certainly make the soup without it.

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup flour
1 medium onion, diced
3 small carrots, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
a pinch of ground thyme
2 tsp black pepper
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
8 cups turkey or chicken broth
2 cups frozen corn
2 cups frozen peas
4 cups diced cooked turkey or chicken
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup chopped parsley
5 Tbl finely grated fresh horseradish plus more for serving
more pepper and salt to taste
1 sheet of puff pastry from a 17.3 ounce package, cut into 9 squares and baked at 400F for about 20 minutes

In a soup pot, melt the butter and oil and saute the onion, celery and carrot until the onion softens a bit.
Add the thyme, black pepper and flour and cook while stirring for a couple of minutes until the mixture forms a tight roux.
Slowly add the broth, stirring constantly, until the roux mixture is incorporated.  Add the potatoes.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
Add the corn, peas and chicken or turkey and bring back to the boil.
Turn off the heat and stir in the cream, horseradish and parsley.  Re-season with salt and pepper, if desired.
Serve each bowl with a puff pastry square floating on top. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Preserved Lemons

Remember those meyer lemons that I had a few weeks ago? Well I preserved them for future use. I cut them into quarters, but not all the way through,  liberally salted them inside and out with kosher salt , packed them tightly into a sterilized jar, added more lemon juice to cover and refrigerated them for a few weeks.  Now when I need a little lemon I can take out a piece, rinse it and use the rinds for a recipe.  Good to have when you're out of fresh.  (works with regular lemons too)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Bar Cheese

Make your own Win Schuler's sort of cheese spread with staples you probably have in the house.

2 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
3 Tbl prepared horseradish
2 cups finely grated medium cheddar cheese
1/3 cup mayo
1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce

Mix all ingredients together until the cheese appears to meld into the mixture.  Chill a couple of hours before serving with crackers or melba toast rounds.  Easy and good!!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Not Too Cheddary Mac And Cheese (with a little spinach!)

I was looking for a mac and cheese that was creamy without all that cheddar bite..ricotta fit the bill!

6 Tbl butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups whole milk
A few gratings of nutmeg ( or a pinch)
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 cup grated medium cheddar cheese
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1  1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper
2 Tbl chopped fresh basil
3 handfuls ( or more) fresh baby spinach leaves
8 ounces ziti or shells, cooked al dente
1/2 cup grated medium cheddar for the topping

In a medium sauce pan melt the butter and whisk in the flour to make a light roux.
Over medium heat, slowly add the milk while continually whisking.  Whisk until the mixture thickens.
Add the nutmeg, cayenne, basil, salt and white pepper and stir.  Stir in the ricotta and cheddar until melted.
Stir in the spinach and continue stirring until the spinach wilts.
Combine the cooked pasta with the cheese spinach mixture and turn into a small shallow casserole dish.  ( I used a nine inch round ceramic baking dish) Sprinkle the 1/2 cup cheddar over the top.
Bake at 350F for 30 to 35 minutes or until bubbly.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Flaming Cheese

Make your own Saganaki, that wonderful flaming cheese, at home. We especially like to do this in the summer as an appetizer to the Kebapcheta that I wrote about earlier.It's a fun way to impress your kids or grand kids...just make sure that they stand back....OPA!!

1 cup flour
1 tsp dried oregano
2 slices kasseri cheese, about 4 inches in diameter and cut 1/2 inch thick
2 Tbl olive oil
3 Tbl butter
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1 lemon, halved
3 ounces inexpensive brandy

Mix the flour and oregano in a shallow bowl and set aside.
Beat the eggs and milk in a shallow bowl.
Wet the pieces of cheese with water and coat each with the flour mixture, then the egg mixture, and then back into the flour.
In a heavy saute pan or cast iron skillet, melt the butter and olive oil until the butter starts to foam.
Place the cheese into the pan and fry on both sides until golden and the cheese starts to soften.
Quickly take the pan outside, pour in the brandy and ignite, yelling OPA!
Let flame for effect for a few seconds and then squeeze a lemon half over to douse the flame( the second half is "just in case").
Serve immediately spread on country bread.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Retro Pork Chop And Potato Casserole

Let's go back in time when this was standard weekly fare...we all used canned soups in everything... and turned out delicious meals. Use either bone in or out chops, the thicker the better.

4 pork chops
4 Tbl olive oil, divided
salt, black pepper, and paprika
1 medium onion, sliced
8 ounces sliced mushrooms, sliced ( or 2  4 ounce cans mushrooms, drained)
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 cup milk
2 tsp instant flour (Wondra)
4 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced about 1/4 inch thick
Grated cheddar or those fried onions in a can for garnish ( either is optional)

Season the chops with salt, pepper and paprika, and in a large saute pan brown them on both sides in 2 Tbl of the olive oil. Remove from pan and arrange in a shallow casserole dish.
In the same pan, add 2 more Tbl olive oil ( if needed) and saute the onions and mushrooms until the onions soften a bit. Stir in the instant flour. Add the soup and milk and combine thoroughly.  Season with a little more salt, pepper and paprika.
Arrange the sliced potatoes around the chops and pour the mushroom soup mixture over the whole thing.  Bake, covered, at 325F for 50 minutes.  Remove cover, raise oven temp to 400F and bake 15 minutes more, sprinkling the onions or cheese over the top at this point.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Red Lentil Pasta Sauce

Last night we decided to go meatless for dinner.  I had found beautiful red lentils and Greek #2 spaghetti ( like bucatini) at the Mediterranean market near my house. The red lentils are packed with protein and become very creamy when cooked in the sauce.  I served this with some thawed frozen garlic bread topped with sauteed spinach and garlic, sprinkled with mozzarella and then baked in the oven at 400F for 10 to 15 minutes.

1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
1 carrot , roughly chopped
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1/4 green pepper, chopped
5 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
3 Tbl olive oil
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 cup dry red lentils
1  28 ounce can good Italian plum tomatoes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
3 - 4 cups water
1/2 cup minced parsley
5 or 6 sliced fresh basil leaves
Parmesan for garnish ( optional) 

Place the celery, carrot, onion, green pepper and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and process until very fine.
In a dutch oven or soup pot saute the vegetable mixture in the olive oil until soft and fragrant.
Add the red pepper, salt , black pepper, and Italian seasoning and stir for a minute or two over the heat
Add the lentils.  Crush the tomatoes with your hands and add them along with their juice.
Add 3 cups of the water, bring to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes.
Check after 30 minutes..If the mixture seems too thick, add another cup of water and simmer another 15 minutes or so. Simmer a few more minutes even if you don't add the extra water.
Just before serving, stir in the parsley and basil.
Serve over your favorite pasta.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Greek Seasoning

Last night's chicken
A while back I promised myself that the next time I made the Slow Roasted Lemon Chicken I would come up with an alternative to the Cavender"s Greek Seasoning used to rub the bird.  We had this chicken last night and I used 3 Tbl of this seasoning :

2 Tbl salt
1 Tbl coarse black pepper
2 Tbl granulated garlic
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme

Place all ingredients in a spice grinder or a mini processor and process until fine. Store any unused in a covered container.  Makes almost 1 cup.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ricotta Almond Tart With A Biscotti Crust

This tart reminds me of a Good Humor Toasted Almond favorite!!

Tart shell:
1  8 ounce package almond biscotti (about 10 pieces) or enough to make 2 cups when crumbed
8 Tbl butter, melted

Place the biscotti in the bowl of a food processor and process until fine crumbs are formed. Thoroughly combine the crumbs with the butter and press into a 10 inch tart or quiche pan.
Bake the shell in a 350F oven for 15 minutes.  Set aside.

1 cup whole milk, heated to almost boiling
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cups ricotta cheese
sliced almonds, chocolate chips, chocolate sauce, or fresh fruit for garnish

In a double boiler over simmering water quickly whisk the egg yolks, sugar and flour together.
Slowly add the hot milk, whisking constantly.
Whisk over the heat until the mixture forms a custard like consistency.  Add the vanilla and almond extracts.  remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
Beat the ricotta until it softens and then add to the custard mixture and thoroughly incorporate.
Pour the mixture into the tart shell and bake at 325F for 30 minutes or until the center is set.
Cool to room temperature and garnish.
Chill thoroughly before serving.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Spinach And Oranges

Make this easy spinach and mandarin orange salad to go along with grilled steak or chicken.  The dressing is very light but big in flavor.

About 6 cups baby spinach leaves
1  10 -11 ounce can of mandarin oranges ( reserve 1/2 cup of the juice)
3/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
Toss everything together and make the dressing.

1/2 cup reserved mandarin orange juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp white wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Whisk this all together(or shake it in a jar)
Dress the salad with some or all of the dressing.

Told you we like spinach!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Puree of Potato, Cabbage and Ricotta

This being St. Paddy's week I wanted to create a soup with potatoes and cabbage.  This one's a little different because it has ricotta and sour cream..not bad though.

4 strips bacon
1 Tbl butter
1/2 cup diced celery
1 cup sliced leek
1/2 cup diced onion
4 - 5 cups diced potatoes
4 cups chopped savoy cabbage
8 cups unsalted chicken stock
1 Tbl salt
1 Tbl black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta
1/2 cup sour cream
3 green onions, thinly sliced
Grated cheddar for garnish

In a dutch oven or soup pot, cook the bacon until crispy.  Remove and drain on a paper towel.
Leaving the bacon fat in the pot, add the butter, leek, celery and onion and saute until everything softens up.
Add the potatoes, cabbage, stock, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
Cool the soup a bit, fish out the bay leaf, and puree the soup in a food processor or blender ( in batches).
Return the puree to the pot and with the heat at medium, whisk in the ricotta and sour cream until fully incorporated.
Stir in the green onions.
To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and garnish each with some cheddar and the reserved bacon (which you have crumbled)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pam's Making Colcannon And Irish Soda Bread

For St. Patrick's Day friend Pam is serving corned beef, colcannon, and Irish soda are her recipes.  Anyone up for a road trip to Grand Rapids?

Irish Soda Bread:
4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
2 Tbl caraway seeds
1/4 cup butter
2 cups currants (optional)
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
1 egg yolk ( beaten and set aside)

Sift flour, sugar salt and baking powder into a mixing bowl; stir in caraway seeds.  Cut in butter until mix looks like coarse meal; stir in currants if using. Combine buttermilk, 1 egg and baking soda; stir into flour mixture just enough to moisten the dry ingredients.  Turn onto a floured board and knead lightly until dough is smooth.  Shape into a ball and place in a greased 2 quart oven safe bowl.  With a sharp knife cut a 4 inch cross 1/2 inch deep in the center of the dough( this lets evil spirits out, if there are any hiding in the dough!) Brush with the beaten egg yolk.
Bake at 375F for about an hour or until it passes the toothpick test.  Cool the bread in the bowl for 10 minutes before turning out on a wire rack to cool completely. To serve cut in quarters and the slice the quarters thinly.  Serve with lots of butter and jam.
Note: Pam's family is hardcore - no butter- no jam
Another note: If you like, substitute raisins, dried cranberries or dried cherries for the currants.

1 bunch of kale
6 potatoes
2 or 3 leeks
salt and pepper to taste

Clean and chop kale and leeks ( white and light green parts only). Peel and cube the potatoes. Boil the potatoes and leek until almost tender, add the kale and cook until all vegetables are tender. ( Drain the mixture - my addition). Season with the s & p and mash with enough milk and butter to your taste...just like mashed potatoes.
If there is any colcannon and corned beef left over mix them together and heat for a one dish meal.
A small head of cabbage can be substituted for the Kale.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Swissed Chicken

Here's a nice easy one that you can prep ahead of time and finish off in the oven when ready to serve. I usually use Italian bread crumbs for this, but this time I did a combo of panko and parmesan...sooo good!

3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut through through the center to make 6 thin halves
2 cups panko crumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
flour for dredging ( maybe 1 cup)
2 eggs, beaten with a few tablespoons of water
3 small tomatoes, thinly sliced
6 slices Swiss cheese, each about the size of the chicken breast
vegetable oil for frying

Set up a breading station: place the flour, beaten eggs and panko mixed with the parmesan  in three shallow bowls. 
Coat each breast, first with flour, then eggs, and then the panko mixture.
In a large frying pan heat enough oil to measure up about 1/2 inch in the pan and brown the breaded chicken on each side.(you may have to do this in batches)
Place the breasts in an oil sprayed 9 x13 inch baking dish.
Place 2 slices of tomato on each breast and bake for 15 minutes at 350F.
Add a slice of Swiss to each breast and continue to bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the cheese melts nicely. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Now You Can Search

I've added a "search" gadget to this blog so that you can find a recipe from the past much faster and easier ( if you want to). Just type in the name of a recipe or ingredient and up will come posts with that particular search term.  Makes life so much easier.
In the meantime gaze at these beautiful Honeybell Oranges and Meyer Lemons.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Beans and Greens Soup ( With Italian Sausage)

This was our second soup of the week. It's full of assorted greens of the season, beans, a little potato and hot Italian sausage for the "kick". Feel free to use mild sausage or turkey sausage if you like.

1 pound Italian sausage ( hot, mild or turkey)
1 cup sliced leeks
2 cloves minced garlic
2 Tbl olive oil
8 cups chicken broth
8 cups chopped assorted greens (spinach, kale, escarole, collards, mustard, etc)
2 medium potatoes, diced in 3/4 inch cubes
2 cans (14 -15 oz) white beans with liquid
salt and pepper to taste
Note: If you're using a sweet sausage you can add 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper while sauteing the leeks and garlic

Bake the Italian sausage at 350F for 30 minutes.  They may not be totally cooked through, but will firm up for slicing and finish cooking in the pot.
In the meantime, saute the leeks and garlic in the olive oil until soft.
Slice the sausage in 1/2 inch rounds and add to the pot. Saute for about 3 minutes.
Add the broth and potatoes and bring to a boil.  Simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
Add the greens and the beans, bring back to the boil and simmer until the greens have wilted.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Leek Tart Almost Like Banitsa

Banitsa is the traditional Bulgarian pastry.... filo dough filled with spinach, cheese, apple, pumpkin, peppery ground beef.....but my favorite has always been leek and cheese. I decided to put the filling in a tart shell ( I'm not the best at working with filo dough, although I can do it). A store bought pie dough will absolutely work with this.

For the tart shell:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 8 ounce stick of cold butter cut into small pieces
1/4 tsp salt
3 - 4 Tbl half and half
Mix the flour and salt together and place in the bowl of a food processor.  Add the butter and pulse about 8 times. Add the half and half, one Tbl at a time and pulse until you can form a ball for rolling. Roll the dough into a round large enough for a 10 inch tart pan with a removable bottom.  Lightly spray the pan with cooking oil and press the rolled round in.  Bake the tart shell for 10 minutes at 400F. Remove from the oven and set aside while preparing the filling.

Leek filling:
3 1/2 cups leeks ( white and light green part) which have been quartered lengthwise and then thinly sliced into quarter moons.
4 Tbl butter
2 cups cottage cheese set in a colander and thoroughly drained of all liquid
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese ( preferably Bulgarian)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
Saute the leeks in the butter until soft and fragrant,  remove to a medium mixing bowl and let cool.
Stir the remaining ingredients into the cooled leeks and thoroughly combine.
Pour the mixture into the tart shell and bake 40 to 50 minutes at 325F.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Quick Greens

This is my answer to old fashioned stewed know...the ones that cook for hours and hours...collards, kale, mustard greens.  I use spinach and make a quick side that's flavorful and kind of good for you .  I'm presenting 2 variations of this.  Pictured is the first version.

1 tsp olive oil
2 strips bacon, diced
2 green onions, sliced
1 pound baby spinach (thawed frozen works)
salt and pepper to taste
splash or two of red wine vinegar
Saute the bacon in the oil until almost crispy. Add the green onions and cook a minute longer.  Start adding the spinach and cook until it wilts (you may need to add a little water). Season with the salt and pepper. Throw a few splashes of the vinegar in just before turning the heat off.

2nd version:
2 Tbl olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound baby spinach (thawed frozen works again)
salt and pepper to taste
juice of 1/2 or 1 whole lemon, depending on how tart you like
Saute the garlic in the olive oil for a minute or two.  Add the spinach and salt and pepper.  Cook until wilted. Stir in the lemon juice.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Italian Bread Soup....Ribollita

This is an Italian peasant soup traditionally made with only vegetables and leftover stale bread.  I added ground turkey to mine but probably didn't need to. The saying is that if a wooden spoon can stand straight up in the pot, the soup is done....mine did! It gets better after a day or two, so makes for great lunches.

2 Tbl olive oil
1 pound ground turkey
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, cut in thirds
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
1 cup parsley
6 -8 garlic cloves
2 strips bacon, cut in thirds
1 14.5 ounce can tomatoes
1  12 ounce can tomato or V8 juice
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
10 cups chicken broth
1  14 -15 ounce can chick peas
1 or 2 14-15 ounce cans white beans
5 cups chopped cabbage
4 cups baby spinach
1 cup small, dry pasta
4 slices stale white bread, crusts removed

In a LARGE soup pot, brown the ground turkey in the olive oil.  Remove from pot and set aside.
Place the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, parsley and bacon in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture is a little finer than a dice. Put the mixture in the soup pot and saute until the mixture softens a bit. Add the meat, salt, black pepper, red pepper and Italian seasoning to the pot. Stir and add the tomatoes and juice.  Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil and then simmer for about ten minutes.  Add the cabbage, chick peas and white beans and simmer another 10 minutes.  Add the pasta and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Tear the bread in pieces and add along with the spinach leaves.  Simmer until the spinach wilts.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Carrot Almond Cake

This "cake" is dense and not real sweet.  It needs a day to "age" in the fridge.  The honeyed syrup needs time to soak into the cake.

4 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups grated carrots
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp orange zest
1 Tbl brandy
1 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar (for the syrup)
3 inch piece of orange rind
1/2 cup honey

Beat the eggs, oil and sugar until light and thick.
Stir in the carrots, salt, baking soda, orange zest, and brandy. Combine well.
Add the flour, a little at a time, combining well.
Stir in the ground almonds.
Pour the mixture in a 10" round baking pan lined with parchment.  Bake for 40 - 50 minutes at 350F.

Meanwhile, make the syrup by combining the water, sugar and orange rind in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
Add the honey and let the mixture cool.
When the cake is done, let cool for about 10 minutes and the poke holes in the cake with a wooden skewer. Spread the syrup over the cake and cool completely.
Remove the cake from the pan, cover and refrigerate at least 24 hours before serving.
Serve with sweetened whipped cream.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Kebapcheta with Tzatziki

I know I've told you that we grill all winter, but when I made these little lamb rolls it was soooo cold that I had to half grill them and then finish them in the oven.  Normally though, just grill them like you would a burger to your liking . I cut the yogurt in the sauce recipe and replaced some of it with sour cream, but you can certainly do all yogurt if you prefer.

For the tzatziki: 
4 ounces plain yogurt
4 ounces sour cream
1/2 of an English cucumber, shredded and blotted with paper towels to dry
1 clove garlic, mashed in a garlic press
1 Tbl dried dillweed
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
Combine all ingredients and chill for a few hours

For the lamb:
1  1/2 pounds ground lamb
1 medium onion, grated
2 cloves garlic, mashed in a garlic press
1 slice white bread, soaked in water and then squeezed "dry"
1 Tbl ground cumin
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped parsley
Combine all ingredients thoroughly and chill for about an hour. Shape the meat into 3 inch logs about an inch and a half in diameter. Grill on a gas or charcoal grill until done.
Serve with pita,tomato, red onion, feta, kalamata olives, and cucumber

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wilted Dilled Carrots

Here's a spin on the wilted cucumber salad that I posted a while back...I had ( and still have) a lot of carrots in the house, so we're using them up.

1 pound carrots cut into 2 -3 inch match stick size pieces
1 Tbl kosher salt
3 Tbl seasoned rice wine vinegar
1 Tbl sugar
2 Tbl chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

Sprinkle the cut carrots with the kosher salt. Toss and place in a colander set over a bowl for about 2 hours.  The carrots will exude some juice and wilt slightly.  After 2 hours, thoroughly rinse and drain the carrots.  Combine the carrots with the vinegar, sugar, dill and red onion.  Chill in a covered container for a few hours, stirring now and then.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Carrot, Leek and Mushroom Soup

Here's a light starter soup or maybe one to accompany a sandwich. The carrots, leek and mushrooms give it an earthy quality.

3 Tbl butter
2 cups finely chopped leek (white part only)
12 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced (or mushrooms of your choice)
4 cups sliced carrots
8 cups unsalted beef stock
1/4 tsp ground thyme
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup dry sherry
chopped parsley for garnish (optional)

In a dutch oven, melt the butter and add the leek and mushrooms.  Saute on medium heat for about 8 minutes.  Add the carrots, beef stock and thyme.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.  Add the salt, pepper and sherry.  Bring back to the boil and simmer for 5 more minutes.  Garnish with chopped parsley if desired.