Thursday, April 28, 2011

Easy Bean Salad

Here's an easy marinated bean salad that can be made with canned beans or your own cooked beans from dry.  Use any kind of beans you like...I used northern and pinto in this one.  Great accompaniment to grilled chicken or meat..

4 cups cooked beans, drained ( 2 cans)
1/2 cup diced red pepper
3/4 cup diced red onion
1 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup of your favorite Italian salad dressing
salt and pepper to taste
red wine vinegar ( optional)

Combine all ingredients except salt, pepper and red wine vinegar
Season to taste with salt and pepper
Chill for at least an hour
Before serving, re-season if necessary
(For a little sharpness, add a few shots of the red wine vinegar before serving)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Flat Iron Steak

This cut of beef is relatively new to US markets and when prepared properly is tender and absolutely delicious! Read an article about it here: 

We did ours on the grill but first slathered it with Worcestershire sauce, fresh minced garlic, salt and pepper...leaving it to marinate for about a hour. Best if cooked no more than medium rare and then sliced thinly across the grain.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Pineapple and Cheese

Friend Lynn sent me this recipe to try the next time we were serving ham for dinner...well Easter Sunday was the day!  We all thought it was an odd combination, but we trust Lynn because she is an excellent cook. This was a hit!!!  I'm giving you the original recipe...I doubled it yesterday and put it in a 2 quart baking dish.  Thank you Lynn!

1  20 ounce can pineapple chunks, drained, reserving 3 Tbl of the juice
3 Tbl flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup buttery cracker crumbs ( like Ritz)

Combine sugar, flour and reserved pineapple juice.
Stir in pineapple and cheese.
Put the mixture in a buttered 1 quart baking dish.
Combine the cracker crumbs and melted butter and spread over the casserole.
Bake at 350F for about 25 minutes. Top should be golden brown.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter

If you haven't already, today is a good day to boil and color those eggs for tomorrow. I boil mine by putting about 8 into a large pot of cold water and bring the pot up to a boil.  Immediately turn the heat off and cover the pot.  Let the eggs sit in that hot water for about 20 minutes...pretty foolproof!

I hope you all have a wonderful Easter!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter Bread ( Bulgarian Kozunak )

A few months ago Marge gave me a few recipes for this traditional Bulgarian Easter Bread and wanted me to try my hand at it.  One recipe called for 8 pounds of flour and 2 dozen eggs and made God knows how many loaves.  Another was rather plain and baked in loaf pans.  I was determined to scale it down and make only 2 loavesI also added a coffee, almond  and brown sugar streusel filling.  I don't know if it's traditional, but it sure tasted good!

Coffee streusel:
2 Tbl finely ground coffee
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
Combine all ingredients and set aside.

For the bread:
1 1/2 cups whole milk
12 Tbl unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbl plus 1 tsp yeast granules
3 eggs, beaten
1 egg, beaten with a tablespoon of water for brushing on loaves
1 Tbl fresh lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
7 to 8 cups bread flour
Scald the milk and add the butter and sugar. Stir until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and cool to lukewarm.
Stir the yeast into the milk mixture and then stir in the 3 beaten eggs.
Add the lemon zest and vanilla.
Stir in the flour, a little at a time ( I started with 7 cups and reserved the rest for kneading).
Knead the dough until smooth and pliable, adding more flour as you knead.
Place the dough in a large oiled bowl and cover. Let rise until more than doubled in bulk.
After the rise, divide the dough into 2 pieces and roll each piece into a rectangle about 14 x 18 inches.
Sprinkle about 1/2 cup streusel onto each rectangle.
Roll up jelly roll fashion and then form a coil( see pic), making sure all edges are sealed and tucked in.
Place each loaf on its own baking sheet that has been lined with parchment or Silpat.  Brush each loaf lightly with the egg wash.
Let rest about 30 minutes and then bake at 325F for 50 to 60 minutes.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Kona Macadamia Biscotti

My favorite flavors of Hawaii are Kona Coffee and Macadamia Nuts... they pair nicely in this simple biscotti recipe.  ( feel free to use your favorite coffee)

1 cup macadamia nuts
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 Tbl very finely ground Kona coffee ( or a Kona blend)
pinch of salt
3 eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Set the oven at 325F.  Place the nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast them for about 8 minutes.  Let cool and then coarsely chop.
Lower the oven temp to 300F.
Whisk the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and coffee in a mixing bowl.
In another bowl, whisk the eggs and vanilla.
Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture.  Thoroughly combine. Stir in the chopped nuts.
Shape the dough into a log about 10-12 inches long and 3-4 inches wide.
Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes, until firm.Leave the oven on.
Cool the log on a rack for about 15 minutes and then place it on a cutting board and cut into 1/2 inch slices ( on the diagonal if you wish) using a serrated knife.
Place the biscotti back on the parchment lined sheet and bake for 10 minutes.  Turn the over and bake for another 10.  Cool. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Red Cabbage Slaw

Next time you want a refreshing salad with BBQ, try this red cabbage slaw...a few simple ingredients, but lots of flavor.

4 cups shredded or chopped red cabbage
1 carrot, grated on the large holes of a box grater
1 small onion, grated on the large holes of a box grater
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
salt and pepper to taste
Combine all the vegetables in a bowl. Whisk the oil, vinegar and sugar together until the sugar dissolves.  Pour the dressing over the vegetables and combine.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.
Note: This will keep for 2 to 3 days.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Yellow, Red and Orange Rice

Flavor your everyday rice a bit by adding color...

1 Tbl olive oil
1/2 cup diced red and yellow bell pepper ( in my case it was the mini peppers)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup raw rice
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Saute the diced pepper and minced garlic in the oil for about a minute. Add the rice, salt and pepper and give it all a stir to coat the rice.  Transfer the mixture to a small baking dish, stir in the broth and cover.  Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.  Nice flavor!!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Pickled Peppers

Last week I bought a bag of mini sweet peppers because they looked so pretty...I love pickled anything and so decided to pickle some of these.  I wanted something quick and easy.  I found a couple of recipes on the internet and developed this easy refrigerated version:

1  14 -15 ounce glass jar with a lid, washed and sterilized
Mini peppers cut crosswise in one inch chunks, enough to fit tightly into the jar, leaving a little head room(sorry, I lost count)
1 cup rice vinegar
1 cup water
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp granulated garlic
1 Tbl salt
1 Tbl sugar

Bring the vinegar, water, red pepper, garlic, salt and sugar to a boil.  Pour into the pepper stuffed glass jar, leaving just a little space on top. Secure the lid tightly and give the jar a couple of shakes ( this helps with the seal).  Let cool to room temperature and then refrigerate.  They're ready to eat the next day.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Mushroom Mozzarella Appetizers

These were inspired by those zucchini and spinach squares you see all over made with baking mix.  The little crunch on the edges is especially nice and the aleppo adds just a little background warmth.  If you don't have aleppo pepper, substitute about a half teaspoon of black pepper.  This recipe can also be doubled and baked in a 9x13 inch baking pan.

2 Tbl butter
8 ounces of your favorite mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 green onion, sliced
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 teaspoon aleppo pepper
1 Tbl sliced fresh basil
2 cups shredded, part skim mozzarella cheese

In a saute pan, brown the mushrooms and garlic in the butter. Add the green onion and saute about 30 seconds more.
In a medium bowl, combine the milk, egg flour, baking powder, aleppo and basil.
Stir in the mushrooms and cheese.  Spread into an 11x7 baking dish which has been coated with cooking spray.
Bake at 350F for about 30 minutes.  Cut and serve when slightly warm.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Salmon and Mushroom Ceviche

This is my Dad's recipe...something we all enjoyed at summer BBQs.  You have to love seafood cooked in citrus to truly enjoy this. Super simple with few ingredients, but oh so good!!  This makes 4 appetizer servings.

1 pound boneless, skinless salmon, preferably center cut, cut in thin slices on the diagonal
1  1/2 lemons
sea salt
white pepper
12 medium white button mushrooms ( or more if you like - just increase the olive oil a bit)
4 Tbl olive oil
1 Tbl minced fresh dill
dill sprigs for garnish (optional)
thin slices of preserved lemon for garnish ( optional )
4 small salad plates

Toss the thinly sliced salmon gently with the juice of one lemon and a light dusting of sea salt and white pepper.  Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, thinly slice the mushrooms and toss with the juice of the half lemon, the olive oil and a little more sea salt and white pepper.
Arrange equal portions of mushrooms and salmon on each of the four plates.
Sprinkle the salmon with the minced dill, garnish and serve immediately.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Little Rack of Pork

Costco sells 8 bone racks of pork for a very reasonable amount.  I love them but they're obviously too large for the two of us.  I bring one home, cut it in half, cook one and freeze one for later.  The prep is real simple...slice about 2 cloves of garlic, make little slits all around the roast, and shove the garlic slices in.  Season liberally with salt , pepper, paprika and granulated garlic and then lightly rub the roast with olive oil.  Place in a small roaster, add about 1/2 cup water to the bottom of the pan, cover and roast at 325F for about 2 hours or until the internal temp reaches about 150F.  Uncover and continue roasting until the internal temp reaches about 170F...about another 30 minutes.  If you decide to roast all 8 bones, you'll obviously need to extend the cooking time.
Note: The accumulated juices make for a great gravy base while the roast rests after cooking.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Roasted Fingerlings

These little fingerling potatoes are perfect when roasted as a side to grilled or roasted meat and so easy to make.  Set them in a single layer in a baking dish, coat with olive oil, salt pepper and a little paprika and roast in a 350F oven for 30 to 45 minutes until tender.  Add a little granulated garlic if you want ( or even fresh minced - just a little though ).

Saturday, April 9, 2011

My Shooter's Sandwich

Matt sent me a link to Tim Hayward's ( food writer and photographer for the UK's The Guardian ) recipe for what's called a Shooter's Sandwich, traditionally a huge beef and grilled mushroom sandwich that the cook would make the night before the hunt. I decided to make it, but I added to it and changed it a bit.  We liked ours cut in wedges and warmed in the oven, but eating it at room temperature is perfectly acceptable.

The link to the original is here: 
You'll also find a slide show presentation there.

1 8 inch round loaf of crusty bread, the top quarter cut off and hollowed out a bit.
2  10 ounce boneless ribeyes, about 3/4 inch thick

Marinate the steaks in the following for about 45 minutes:
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp minced rosemary
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

In the meantime make the mushroom filling:
7 Tbl butter
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup diced shallots
1 Tbl minced rosemary
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
16 ounces diced mushrooms
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup chopped parsley
Saute all but the wine and parsley in a large frying pan until the mixture becomes almost dry.  Add the wine and parsley and continue to cook until the wine has evaporated. Transfer to a bowl to cool.

Make the spread for the bread by combining the following:
4 Tbl prepared horseradish
2 Tbl Dijon mustard
2 tbl olive oil
1 tbl chopped capers
1 tsp black pepper
Spread this mixture over all cut surfaces of the bread, top and bottom.

Remove the steaks from the marinade, pat dry and sear the to rare to medium rare in a large frying pan. Place one steak on the bottom half of the bread round.  Spread the mushroom mixture over the steak and place the second steak on top.  Cover with the bread top.  Wrap in waxed paper and then in aluminum foil. Set the sandwich on a baking sheet, top with another baking sheet  and top that with something heavy ( I used 2 foil wrapped bricks).  Set in a cool place for at least 6 hours before serving.
To serve, slice into wedges .  As I said earlier, we warmed the wedges in a 400F oven for about 8 minutes.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Buffalo Shrimp Wontons

Here's a fun appetizer idea ( or even lunch ) taking the flavors of buffalo wings to shrimp with a little crunch.

12 peeled and deveined (26 - 30 count or larger) shrimp, tails left intact.
12 wonton wrappers
1/4 cup of your favorite hot sauce ( I used Cholula )
3 ounces softened cream cheese
2 Tbl crumbled blue cheese
1 Tbl finely minced chives
peanut or vegetable oil for frying

Marinate the shrimp in the hot sauce for about 20 minutes.
Thoroughly combine the cream cheese, blue cheese and chives in a bowl.
Take a wonton and with your finger wet all 4 edges with water.
Spread about 1/2 tsp of the cheese mixture in the center of the wonton.
Take a shrimp, pat it dry with a paper towel and place it in the center of the wonton, leaving the tail hanging over the edge.
Fold the top side of the wonton over the top of the shrimp, pressing firmly along the whole top. Fold the sides over the shrimp, wrapping tight, being especially careful to seal the tail end.  Repeat for remaining shrimp.
Heat enough oil in a large frying pan for shallow frying  Fry the shrimp quickly on both sides until nicely browned. Transfer to paper towels to drain a bit.
Place the wontons in a baking pan and bake in a preheated 350F oven for 10 minutes.  Cool a few minutes before serving with hot sauce blue cheese or ranch dressing for dipping.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Swedish Potato Dumplings

These are wonderful with the Swedish meatballs that I posted the other day. You can serve them boiled and then drizzled with a little melted butter or browned in butter after boiling.  Traditionally they're made filled with pork, bacon or ham, and shaped larger and served as a main course.  I made these smaller to serve as a side.

For the filling:
10 ounces cremini mushrooms, diced
3 Tbl butter
3 green onions, sliced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
Saute the mushrooms, green onion, salt and pepper in the butter until the mixture becomes almost dry. Set aside and cool.

For the dumplings and assembly:
4 cups peeled potatoes, diced about 3/4 inch
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 to 2 cups flour
Melted butter for drizzling or browning
Boil the potatoes until tender.  Drain and mash thoroughly ( I used a ricer).
Beat in the egg and stir in the salt and pepper.
Stir in the flour, a little at a time, until a soft dough is formed.
Divide the dough in two and shape each portion into a log about 12 inches long.  Cut each log into 10 pieces.
Using your hands, form each piece of dough into a circle about 2 inches in diameter and place a scant teaspoon of the mushroom filling into the center. Form a ball encasing the mushroom mixture.
Drop the dumplings into a pot of water that has come to a rolling boil.  When the dumplings rise to the surface remove them with a slotted spoon and drain briefly on paper towels.
To serve, drizzle with a little melted butter or brown them in some of the butter.  ( we did both!)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Another Easy Veggie Soup

Tuna sandwiches for dinner last night and so another easy vegetable soup that can be made from start to finish in just a little more than a half an hour. This one was made with ingredients that are almost staples. Change the vegetables and make it your own...

2 Tbl olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup couscous
1/2 cup shelled edamame beans
1/2 cup brown lentils
6 to 7 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 tsp black pepper

Saute the onions, carrot, celery and garlic over medium heat until the onions soften.
Add the couscous, lentils and edamame and give it a stir
Add 6 cups of broth and the pepper, bring to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes. ( If the soup seems too thick, add that last cup of broth)
Season to taste with salt and pepper

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Swedish Meatballs

We make a lot of meatballs around here...they're cheap and relatively easy to make.  I tend to bake them rather than fry ( I don't like standing over a frying pan for any length of time ).  Tom loves them the next day in a sandwich when we have leftovers.

Makes about 18 golf ball size meatballs:

1 1/2 pounds ground meat ( I used equal parts of beef, pork and turkey)
1 medium onion, diced
1 Tbl butter
1 medium potato, peeled, cooked and mashed
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tsp each salt and pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Saute the onion in the butter until softened.
Thoroughly combine all the ingredients and chill for about an hour , or longer.
Shape into 18 golf ball size ball meatballs and bake at 350F for about 40 minutes.

Serve with a cream sauce made by cooking 2 Tbl flour in 2 Tbl butter.  Slowly add 1 cup beef broth and 1/2 cup cream or 1/2 and 1/2.  Cook until thickened ( add some instant flour if not thick enough). Stir in 1/4 tsp soy sauce and season with a little salt and pepper.
As an appetizer, roll small meatballs, cut the cooking time and serve in the cream sauce.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Sauerbraten with Sweet and Sour Cabbage

After all the turkey this past week I knew we'd be in the mood for beef, so I set out to make my first sauerbraten. I looked at a number of recipes and came up with this. Almost all are served with red cabbage and noodles or spaetzle.  And all have to be started a couple of days ahead in order for the meat to marinate properly. We served ours with buttered noodles and horseradish sauce to cut the sweetness.

For the sauerbraten:
A 3-4 pound boneless chuck roast
2 Tbl whole cloves
2 Tbl pickling spice
1 Tbl black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups water
Place all ingredients except the meat in a sauce pan.  Bring to a boil and cool.  When cool, pour over the meat, refrigerate for about 2 days, turning the roast every so often.  After 2 days, gather the rest of the ingredients:
1 Tbl butter
1 Tbl vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups of the strained marinade from the beef ( save the rest)
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup crushed gingersnap cookies

Brown the meat on both sides in the butter and oil.  Add the onion and cook for a few minutes until the onion begins to soften.  Add the 2 cups of marinade, salt, pepper and brown sugar, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 2 to 3 hours or until the meat is tender.  Remove the meat, add the gingersnaps and simmer a few minutes.  If the gravy seems too thick, add some of the reserved marinade and bring back to the boil.  Return the meat to the pan and simmer a few more minutes before serving.

For the cabbage:
2 strips bacon
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 ounces apple juice
3 ounces apple cider vinegar
5 cups chopped red cabbage
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

Cook the bacon in a nice size frying pan until crisp.  Remove, let cool and crumble.  In the same pan with the drippings, saute the onion for a few minutes and add the cabbage, apple juice and vinegar. Cover for a few minutes to wilt the cabbage.  Add the brown sugar, salt and pepper and continue to saute until the liquid is just about gone, stirring every so often.