Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Green Green Dressing with a Little Salad

This salad dressing is not quite Caesar and not quite Green Goddess but rather something in between.  Green garlic and green onion blended in a homemade mayo with anchovies for spark make for a great topping for a variety of salads.  I offer an example of the salad I first made for the two of us.  The dressing makes more than enough for this salad and will keep a few days covered in the fridge.

Serves 2

Green Green Dressing

1 room temperature egg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 medium green onions, rough chopped
2 medium stalks of green garlic, rough chopped (or use 1 clove)
3 anchovy fillets from a 2 ounce tin of anchovies (save the rest for the salad)
The anchovy oil from the 2 ounce tin of anchovies
3/4 sup neutral oil such as vegetable or canola

In a mini food processor place the egg, salt, mustard, lemon juice, green onion, green garlic and anchovy fillets.  Begin processing and the slowly add the anchovy and vegetable oils through the tiny holes on top of the cover of the processor.  Process until smooth and rather thick.  Cover and refrigerate.

Little Salad

1 Romaine lettuce heart torn into bite size pieces
6 thin slices English cucumber
1 large radish thinly sliced and then cut in moons
1 hard boiled egg, chopped
The remaining anchovies from the 2 ounce tin
The Green Green Dressing

Either toss or arrange all ingredients in a bowl or on a platter.  Serve with the dressing.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Tarator....The Radish Version

Traditionally, tarator is a cold cucumber and yogurt soup served all over Bulgaria, especially during the summer.  Served ice cold in small cups or glasses, it's often a starter or complements a Shopska salad and bread.  Sharp and garlicky, it's not for raw garlic haters, although I have seen a version or two omitting it.  Sometimes lettuce, carrot or radish is substituted for the cucumber.  This one is a radish version with just a little cucumber.  A little goes a long way!

Makes almost 4 cups

2 cups Greek yogurt
1 cup water
2 cloves grated garlic (microplane)
1  1/2 cups finely grated red radish (I used the small holes on a box grater) including any juices
1/2 cup finely grated, deseeded cucumber including any juices
1 tsp salt
1 tsp red wine vinegar
2 packed Tbl fresh minced dill
1/2 cup ground walnuts (optional)
Additional salt for reseasoning

Whisk the yogurt and water together in a medium mixing bowl.  Stir  in the garlic, cucumber, radish, salt, red wine vinegar, dill and ground nuts if using.
Chill the soup for at least and hour.  Taste and adjust for salt.  Serve ice cold in small glasses or cups.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Pretty in Pink Radish "Butter"

Remember that Zucchini Butter we made a couple of years ago from "The Kitchn" website?  Well I turned it into radish "butter" and entered in Food52's  "Your Best Radish or Turnips" contest.  Good on toast, crackers or even bagels.  See the recipe here:


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Scallion Tomato Bread

A few weeks ago Food52 was having their "Your Best Spring Allium" contest and dear friend Pam sent me a recipe for a tomato and onion casserole that she really wanted to play around with and enter but just didn't have the time.  She's a home day care provider with a lot on her plate and that particular week had meetings and CPR classes just about every night.  I spent some time thinking about it and then toward the end of the week was recruited to watch 5 year old Riley for two days.  Dinner had to be easy...I had steak and all the ingredients to re-invent that tomato casserole, but not a lot of ambition.  I decided to put the ingredients on bread and this was the result.  Pretty tasty!

1 pint grape tomatoes
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
6 medium green onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves of minced garlic
2 Tbl mayo
1/2 cup thinly sliced basil leaves
1  12 inch baguette, sliced lengthwise
4 Tbl finely grated parmesan

In a medium sauce pan warm the olive oil and then add the tomatoes, salt and pepper.  Over medium heat, saute the tomatoes until they just begin to crack and split their skins.  Partially cover the pan and let the mixture cook for about 30 minutes, stirring regularly.
At that 30 minute mark, if the tomatoes haven't fully disintegrated, break them up with a spoon or fork and saute another minute.  Everything should be soft and gooey.
Cool the mixture and then add the mayo and basil.  Spread the mixture on the cut sides of the baguette.(You may have a little extra- save it for spreading on toast tomorrow)  Divide the parmesan over the baguette halves.
Bake in a preheated 375F oven for about 10 minutes.  Turn the oven on "broil" and run the baguettes under for one or two minutes.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Radish and Sugar Snap Toss

A quick salad for a warm evening, this one has no acid in the dressing.  I just wanted to taste the sweet sugar snap peas and the little peppery bite of the radish.

Serves 2

2 cups sugar snap peas, sliced in half on the diagonal
5 large red radishes, sliced very thin with a mandoline
3 Tbl Mirin (Japanese rice cooking wine)
2 Tbl peanut oil
1/4 tsp sesame oil
Salt and white pepper to taste
2 Tbl chopped roasted cashews

In a small sauce pan bring 2 to 3 cups of water to a boil.  Add the sliced sugar snaps to the boiling water and count out 30 seconds.  Drain the peas and place in a bowl of ice water to cool completely.  Drain thoroughly once cooled.
Toss the sugar snaps and radishes together in a mixing bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk the Mirin, peanut oil and sesame oil. Stir into the vegetables and season with a little salt and white pepper.  Garnish with the chopped cashews.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Pantry Pasta

Yesterday we went plant shopping...a few flowers, tomatoes, parsley, collards.  I couldn't find everything I wanted, but I'll get back to the nursery later this week and hopefully pick up the rest.  Zucchini and cucumber seeds have been planted but haven't poked through yet and the tiny laurel(bay) tree has been re-potted. So what was for dinner?  I wanted something quick and easy and with a few items from the pantry and fridge, made this pasta with clams and cannellini beans. A pint of grape tomatoes rounded it off!

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 dry pint grape tomatoes, halved
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional or use less or more depending on your "heat"tolerance)
1/4 tsp ground fennel seed
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3  6.5 cans chopped clams drained, broth reserved
1  15.5 ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2   8 ounce bottles clam juice
1 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
12 ounces dry spaghetti or linguini

In a large saute pan heat the oil and add the grape tomatoes.  Cook over medium heat for a few minutes until the tomatoes just barely begin to soften.  Add the garlic, oregano, ground fennel, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper, if using, and continue to saute until the garlic softens and smells fragrant. Stir in the drained clams and beans and heat through. 
While you're making the sauce, heat the reserved clam juice, the bottled clam juice and enough water to cook the pasta. (Trust me- you don't need copious amounts of liquid to cook the pasta).  Cook the pasta about 2 minutes less than the recommended  cooking time.
Drain the pasta, reserving a cup or two of the liquid, add the pasta to the sauce and as much of the clam liquid as you like. I like a brothy sauce.
Stir in the parsley and serve in bowls.
Makes about 4 servings.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Chicken and Bread

I decided to roast a chicken for dinner on Saturday and wanted something a little different than our normal mashed potatoes and gravy.  I saw Ina Garten's recipe for roast chicken served on croutons and thought that might be a good idea, but I went a little further and roasted the bread cubes right in with the chicken. What resulted was a great roast chicken and almost a "stuffing" of soft and crunchy bread. The chicken juices bake right in to the bread...wonderful!!!

Prep your chicken in your favorite way...I rubbed mine with basil, oregano, garlic, lemon, salt, pepper, paprika and olive oil and then let it rest in the fridge for an hour or two.

For the croutons:
6 to 8 cups cubed bread (about 1 inch cubes) I used ciabatta bread
1/2 onion, diced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
2 Tbl olive oil

Toss the bread cubes with the rest of the ingredients and place in a 9x13 inch shallow roasting pan or baking dish.
Place the prepped chicken on top of the bread cubes and then dot the chicken and the bread with 2 Tbl butter.
I had a 5.5 pound chicken so I roasted it at 325F for an hour and fifteen minutes and then raised the temperature to 375F and continued to roast for another hour and fifteen.  At the half way point, you'll notice the chicken juices forming at the bottom of the pan. Stir the bread cubes up a bit and baste the chicken with some of the juices.

Note: Photo didn't turn out well so look at my "lucky" chickens in my garden window!(LOL)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Greek Rice Pudding

I stopped by at my Dad and Marge's house today and Marge had made this delicious creamy rice pudding from a cookbook she's had for a long time. It's title is "Hellenic Cuisine" first published in 1957 by St. Helen's Philoptochos Society and Sts. Constantine and Helen Parent-Teacher Association and is a lovely collection of Greek recipes edited by Mary Pyrros Karay and Fannie C. Nome.  She sent some home for Tom...I took a picture and thought I'd share this lovely recipe with you.  Thanks Margie!!

1 quart milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup rice
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
1 strip of lemon rind
Cinnamon for serving

Scald the milk in a sauce pan.
Par boil the rice in 1/2 cup of salted water for 5 minutes.
Drain the rice and add it to the scalded milk and then boil until the rice is cooked. Remove from the heat.
Beat the eggs and sugar together and then slowly add to the rice-milk mixture beating constantly.
Place the pan over the heat, add the lemon rind and cook for 5 minutes longer.
Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. ( the recipe doesn't say, but I assume you remove the lemon rind at this point)
Place in individual dessert dishes, sprinkle with a little cinnamon and allow to cool.  
Serve plain or with cream

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Pan Roasted Clams

I LOVE clams...any which way - in chowder, in pasta and on their own.  My local Asian market has a small fish counter where sometimes I can find pretty fresh fish, head on shrimp, fresh squid, etc.  The other day they had little neck clams for 25 cents each (a bargain around here).  I picked out a dozen and a half, brought them home, soaked them in cold water, salt and a little corn meal for about and hour and then laid them in an open roaster in one layer. I dotted them with butter and sprinkled them with black and crushed red pepper, and then I roasted them in a preheated 425F oven until they opened.  Pour them in a bowl with all the juices that accumulate, stir in a little fresh parsley and grab a chunk of good bread to dip in those wonderful juices!  Heaven!!!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mango Glazed Salmon Over a Salad of Mangoes and Couscous

The other day we made mango marmalade and I promised a salmon recipe using the marmalade as a base.  This is meant to be eaten at room temperature....perfect for the warm days of summer...and it's totally make ahead!

Serves 4 plus leftover marinade (use it on some grilled chicken!)

For the mango marinade:
1 navel orange, peel and all, sliced very thin and then the slices quartered
1/2 of a large lemon, cut the same as the orange
3 cups water
3 cups diced mangoes(small dice)
1 cup granulated sugar
3 cloves crushed garlic
1 Tbl grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 additional Tbl granulated sugar
2 tsp sesame oil

In a medium sauce pan place the orange, lemon and water.  Bring up to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes.
Add the cubed mango and sugar, bring back up to the boil and then simmer for 20 more minutes. Using a potato masher (or something similar) mash the mixture until it's only a little chunky.
Add the garlic, ginger, soy, vinegar, salt, crushed red pepper, sesame oil and the additional 2 Tbl sugar.  Bring up to a boil again and then simmer for an additional 5 to 7 minutes.  Cool.

For the salad and salmon:
4  six ounce skinless salmon fillets
1  1/4 cups pearl couscous
1  3/4 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1 red mango, peeled and cut in 3/4 inch cubes
3/4 cups thinly sliced green onions
The mango marinade
Thinly sliced green onion for garnish

Marinate the salmon fillets in 1  1/2 cups of the mango marinade for 1 to 2 hours under refrigeration.  After marinating place the fillets with some of the marinade still on in a baking dish and roast in a 425F preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets. Remove from the baking dish and cool.
Bring the 1  3/4 cups water up to a boil, add the salt and couscous and simmer for about 8 minutes or as your package directs.  Cool.
Once cooled, mix the couscous with 3/4 cup of the marinade and gently stir in the mango and sliced green onion.
Place 1/4 of the couscous and mango on a dinner plate, top with a piece of salmon and garnish with the green onion slices.  If you like, offer more marinade for "dipping".

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Simple Mango Marmalade

It's mango season and they're sweet and cheap...Make some marmalade today and in the next day or two I'll walk you through a great salmon dinner using it. In the meantime spread this on toast, biscuits or bagels!

Makes about 2  1/2 cups

1 navel orange sliced thinly (peel and all) and then the slices quartered
1/2 of a lemon sliced thinly(peel and all) and then the slices quartered
3 cups water
3 cups peeled and diced mango(small dice) - I used 3 mangoes
1 cup granulated sugar
1/8 tsp salt

In a medium sauce pan bring the water, orange slices and lemon slices up to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes.
Add the mango, sugar and salt and simmer for about 20 more minutes, stirring now and then.
After the 20 minutes, use a potato masher (or similar item) to mash up the mango pieces that haven't broken up.  Cool and refrigerate.
Pretty easy!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Fork and Knife Loose Meat Gyro

I love gyro sandwiches but no matter what I do, I can never keep them together to eat as a sandwich.  I decided to quit fighting and made this loose meat gyro designed to be eaten with a fork and knife.  It's spicy and garlicky from the tzatziki and makes for a great dinner.

Makes about 6 gyros

For the tzatziki sauce:
4 ounces Greek yogurt
4 ounces sour cream
3 Tbl fresh minced dill
2 Tbl fresh mint, sliced thinly
1 cloves grated garlic (do it on a micro plane)
1/2 English cucumber grated on the large holes of a box grater
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Combine all the ingredients and refrigerate to let the flavors meld

For the gyro:
1  1/2 pounds ground lamb (or a combination of lamb, pork and beef)
1 medium onion 
2 large cloves garlic
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp salt
1 Tbl dried oregano
3 Tbl chopped fresh mint
1 Tbl ground cumin
1 1/2 to 2 cups water
Juice of one lemon
Salt and Pepper to season
Pita Breads
 Condiments: Chopped tomato, sliced onions, sliced cukes, olives and/or feta for serving

Place the ground meat in a large mixing bowl and then grate the onion on the large holes of a box grater right into the meat. Grate the garlic in to the meat with a micro plane and then add the salt, pepper, oregano, mint and cumin.  Mix everything together thoroughly and refrigerate for about 45 minutes to an hour.
When you're almost ready to eat, brown the meat mixture in a very large skillet (do this in 2 batches if necessary).  Drain the meat of any excess fat and return to the skillet. Combine the lemon juice with 1 1/2 cups of the water.  With the heat on pour some of the lemon water into the meat mixture and let come to a simmer.  Keep adding the lemon water until all the liquid is pretty much absorbed and the meat has "softened" up.  Add that last 1/2 cup of water if necessary.

Lay out a pita on a dinner plate and spread some of the tzatziki over the top.  Spread some of the meat mixture over that and garnish with whatever condiments you like.  Pass more of the tzatziki at the table.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Mom Would Be Proud Scallion, Leek and Spinach Pie

It's been almost twenty years since I've touched a sheet of fillo dough...years ago mom and I would make rolls and rolls of spinach pie, leek filled fillo, apple filled and meat filled.  After she passed my then teen aged daughters and I made a few spinach filled rolls for the holidays.  When my dad married Marge, she took over the duties which made me VERY happy!  But I decided that this was the perfect week to dive back in and see if I could still have some success at making these pies that the Bulgarians call banitsa.  I decided to combine all my favorite flavors for this and so included scallions, leek and a little spinach.  I really think my mom would be very happy with the results!  NOTE:  I see these sheets of pastry spelled every which way -filo, phyllo, fillo...this time my package was marked fillo(I'm going with it!)

Makes 9 to 10 rolls
 For the filling:
9 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
6 Tbl butter
8 cups finely diced leeks, whit and pale green parts only (I used 4 fat leeks)
1 cup thinly sliced scallions
16 ounces full fat small curd cottage cheese, drained in a colander to rid the moisture (or if you can find it, dry cottage cheese)
4 ounces crumbled feta (preferably Bulgarian) or one heaping cup
Salt and white pepper to taste
3 lightly beaten eggs

Steam the spinach until it wilts.  Cool and then squeeze as much of the liquid out as you possibly can.  Roughly chop and the place the spinach in a large mixing bowl.
In a large soup pot or Dutch oven melt the butter, add the diced leek and begin to saute over medium heat.  After about 5 minutes add the sliced scallions and continue to saute until everything is very soft (this could take up to 20 minutes).  Add this mixture to the mixing bowl and let cool for a few minutes.
Stir in the drained cottage cheese and feta.  At this point taste the mixture.  You definitely want to add a little white pepper(I added 1/2 tsp) but the amount of salt you add depends on how salty your feta is.  Use your judgement (I added 1/2 tsp salt to mine).
Stir in the beaten eggs.  Set the mixture aside while you prepare to roll...

For the banitsa:

1  16 ounce package commercial fillo pastry sheets (use fresh if you can find it) otherwise thawed
12 Tbl butter, melted
1/2 cup fine dry unseasoned bread crumbs or cracker meal
The filling

Best to set up your station before starting to roll these.  Line a few baking sheets with parchment, set your bowl of crumbs out, melt your butter and have a nice size work space cleared to make your rolls.  Once you open the fillo, lie it out flat and keep it covered with a damp tea towel while you're rolling. The dough is very fragile and dries out easily.
Lay out 3 or 4 sheets of fillo on your work space and dot the top layer with the melted butter using a pastry brush.  Grab a few pinches of the crumbs and scatter over. (The reason I say 3 or 4 sheets is because sometimes the sheets stick together and rather than tear them it's easier to just use more)
Place about 6 coffee teaspoonfuls of the filling along the long edge of the sheet about one inch from the bottom.  Leave a one inch border along the short sides.  Starting with the bottom edge, roll the dough over the filling.  When you're near the top. roll the top edge toward you.  Brush the seam and ends with melted butter and fold over the edges.  Place the roll seam side down on the prepped baking sheet.  Brush the entire top with melted butter.
Continue to make more rolls until you run out of fillo or filling or both.
Bake the rolls in a preheated 325F oven for about 40 minutes until lightly browned.  Enjoy warm or at room temperature.
NOTE:  The baked rolls can be reheated in a 350F oven for about 10 minutes.  You can also freeze the unbaked rolls...just thaw a bit before baking.