Thursday, December 1, 2016

Two New Favorites

Look for these in the frozen food section

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving!

We really enjoyed ours, even though it was a condensed version of our normal weekend.

Here are two new favorites that we added to our Thanksgiving table this year, after testing and enjoying them.

In case you haven't tried them, Pepperidge Farm frozen rolls are really quite good!

They are baked while still frozen  --- no need to defrost them --- in a hot oven or toaster oven in 7 to 9 minutes.
And presto, you have almost freshly baked roll!  Crispy on the outside, chewy and soft on the inside.

They come in bags of 8 for $3.99 at our Wegman's which is comparable to buying rolls from the bakery section, but these are better.

The white rolls are better than the whole wheat rolls.

The bags are resealable.  You can bake one at a time, if you want.
Look for the Kerry Gold butter in the cheese section

Top it with our other new favorite, Kerry Gold butter and you are in for a real treat.


We have been pleasantly surprised by how good these rolls and butter are...

B

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Fall Salad with Spiced Pecans


Shallot-Sherry Vinaigrette goes well with Fall Greens, Pear, Creamy Herb de Provence Sheep Cheese, and Spiced Pecans

I have made variations of this salad for many years  -- with fall greens, a pear or an apple, a soft cheese, and spiced toasted pecans.

It has often been the salad we have with Thanksgiving dinner.

This week we had it when Tom made Jacques Pepin's Spicy Leg of Lamb and also roasted
baby new potatoes with the secret ingredient in Don't Tell Roasted Potatoes.

We have had a touch of fall-like weather, which has been a welcome change after such a long hot, humid spell.

Fall Salad with Spiced Pecans
(adapted from Bon Appetit, August 1990)

Serves 4

4 cups mixed greens, washed and dried, torn in bite-sizes
1-2 T. sherry wine vinegar
1/2 t. Dijon mustard
1 small shallot, very finely minced, or grated
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1 ripe pear, diced into cubes (or apple)
2-3 ounces of crumbly cheese like sheep or goat
1/3 cup spiced pecans (see recipe below)

In the bottom of your salad bowl, add 2 splashes (1-2 T.) of sherry vinegar, the Dijon mustard, the finely minced or grated shallot, and about 1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil.  Add a little salt, then whisk together until emulsified.  Then adjust by adding a little more olive oil, if it is too vinegary.

On top of the dressing, add the salad greens. Add a generous amount of salt and pepper. Then, add the diced pear, the crumbly cheese, and the spiced pecans.

Toss together, just before serving to be sure the nuts do not get soggy.  Coat all of the leaves of the greens with the dressing, and then serve.

Spiced Pecans

Makes 1/3 cup

1 T. butter
dash of salt
sprinkle of cinnamon
sprinkle of cayenne pepper
dash of hot pepper sauce (Tabasco)
1/3 cup of pecans, chopped

Chop the pecans. (Or buy pre-chopped ones.)

In a microwave safe bowl, melt the butter.  Add the pecans, then the cinnamon, cayenne, hot pepper sauce and salt.  Toss until well coated.

Line the metal tray that comes with the toaster oven, with aluminum foil, then make one layer with pecans.

Very carefully toast the pecans, and stir them along the way to prevent burning.  Mine usually take 3-4 minutes.  Don't turn your back on them.  I have learned the hard way.

Let them cool completely.

B










Monday, August 22, 2016

Peanut Pasta Salad

An oldie but a goodie  --- from Gourmet, May 1984.

I had forgotten about this recipe until I was looking for something that I could make ahead and serve cold with grilled flank steak.

It makes a big batch so you have to be willing to eat it for several days, or have a big crowd coming over.

Good combination of Asian flavors with lots of vegetables.

Peanut Pasta Salad
(Penne & Vegetable Salad with Peanut Sauce)
(adapted from Gourmet, 1984)

Serves 12

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup water
3 T. soy sauce
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1 t. red pepper flakes
1/4 t. ground cumin
1/8 t. ground turmeric
1 lb. penne pasta
1/2 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 carrots, halved lengthwise, and sliced diagonally
1 large seedless cucumber, quartered, cored, sliced on the diagonal
8 scallions, sliced and quartered into small pieces
1/3 cup roasted peanuts

Prepare all of your veggies first, and have them ready to go.

To make the sauce:  In a blender or using a whisk in a small bowl, blend the peanut butter, 1 cup water, soy sauce, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes, cumin, and turmeric until smooth.

In a large pot, add water and a generous amount of salt, bring to a rolling boil.  Add the green beans and blanch them until partially cooked about 2 minutes.  Then fish them out with a slotted spoon and place in a colander to drain, or place in a water bath with ice to stop them from cooking more, and drain in a colander.  (You want them to be well drained before you add them to the salad.)  In the same boiling salted water, add the pasta and cook per the package directions until al dente about 8 to 10 minutes.  Drain the pasta well.  And rinse it with cold water to remove the starch and cool it off.

In a large serving bowl, add the drained pasta, the drained green beans, the veggies and toss it all well with the sauce, until every bit is coated with the peanut sauce. Sprinkle with roasted peanuts on top and serve.

To make the salad ahead of time, reserve 1/3 of the sauce and the roasted peanuts, and refrigerate the salad, then just before serving, loosen the remaining sauce with a little more water or lemon juice, add to the salad and toss again. Sprinkle with peanuts and serve.

Yum!

B





Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Black Bean Corn Avocado Dip from Sarah's friend, Michelle


Good for a large gathering --- this dip is easy to make and popular with all ages.  I changed the black-eyed peas to black beans* and left out the cilantro and jalapeno --- to make it kid friendly.
*  Found the Eden brand of beans--- which are low salt and excellent beans --- in the organic section of our store, but sadly, there weren't any black-eyed peas --- we must be too far north ---so I switched to black beans.  
The recipe comes from Sarah's friend Michelle who brought it to a family event earlier this year. Michelle served it with quinoa chips but I used Frito scoops.

Michelle says the key to making this dip is to have the avocado ripe but not too mushy so it holds up well with the beans and corn.

She found the recipe on Skinny Taste which was a new food blog to me, but obviously very popular. and everything looks delicious on it!  www.skinnytaste.com

If you want their original recipe for the black-eyed pea version, click here: www.skinnytaste.com/black-eyed-pea-dip

But the black bean version is, I think, even better.

Black Bean Corn Avocado Dip
(adpated from skinnytaste.com)

15 ounce canned no salt black beans (Eden), rinsed well and drained
2 cloves of garlic, grated
3 T. fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 t. cumin
pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 - 1/2 t. salt
1 cup cooked corn, or canned sweet corn, drained well
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered and then cut in half again
1/4 minced red onion, finely diced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (optional)
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced (optional)
1-2 avocados, diced

Rinse and drain the beans in a colander.  Drain the corn well, too, if using canned corn.

In a large bowl ---the one you are going to serve it in --- combine the grated garlic, fresh lime juice, oil, cumin, crushed red pepper, and salt.  Mix well.

Add the rinsed and drained beans, drained corn, chopped tomatoes, minced red onion, and optional minced jalapeno and option chopped cilantro, and mix well.

Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

Dice the avocados and squeeze a little lime juice on them to prevent them from turning brown.

Then gently add the diced avocados to the dip and serve with firm chips for scooping, like Fritos.

B






Thursday, July 28, 2016

Salad Greens with Grapes, Peas and Spicy Ginger Citrus dressing


Grapes in a salad?

This is a good salad combination:  the crispness of the greens, the starchiness of the peas, the sweetness of the grapes and the hot spicy dressing.

It came about because we had some leftover sweet red grapes.  What if I substituted grapes for our usual cherry tomatoes?

Now I will say upfront that Tom was not a fan of the grapes, but he is not a fan of any fruit in his salad.

And I don't understand this because tomatoes -- which he adores --were originally classified as a fruit, and did not become a vegetable until 1893 when it was expedient to do so for US tariff laws.

Tomatoes are still considered a fruit botanically.  And a vegetable for cooking and legal purposes.
Anyway, I thought the grapes were an interesting change of pace, and a good use of leftover grapes, especially when they are getting a bit wrinkly and overripe.

I have made it with various greens --- this salad was made with red and green romaine that Sarah brought to us from her CSA.  But lately, I have been using the Spinach, Arugula, Radiccio mix.

Our son, David, told us about the Wegman's salad dressing called Spicy Ginger Citrus dressing.

And, he also warned us that it was spicy!


Yikes!  This stuff is hot.  Use it sparingly.

Lettuces with Peas (or Edamame) and Grapes
with Spicy Ginger Citrus dressing

Serves 4

4-6 cups lettuces, cut or torn into bite-size
a dozen or so sweet, seedless grapes, halved
salt and pepper for the grapes
peas or edamame to scatter
Spicy Citrus Ginger

to make your own version of this dressing:

In the bottom of your salad bowl, add

fresh ginger, grated 1 - 2 t.
juice of 1 juicy lime, 2 if not juicy
2 - 3 T. of canola oil
red pepper flakes
1 t. tamarind sauce or 1 t. Worcestershire sauce
a dash of hot pepper sauce like Tabasco
salt

Whisk it all together.

On top add the lettuce, the seedless sliced grapes, then add salt and pepper.  Scatter it with peas or edamame.

At the table, toss the salad and serve.

We had it with teriyaki flank steak.

Later David told me that he had been putting grapes in his salad at home --- so I have been calling this David's salad.

B








Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Barley Salad with Fresh Veggies from Bridget


A great summer salad -- and gluten free, too

A while back Bridget and I were in the car together, chatting about recipes, and talking about what to make with barley because we both had some in our cupboard.

She told me about this dish, which she has taken to events, where it was successful... and there were vegetarians and vegans.

I got around to making it this past week.  Yum!  The cottage smelled great while the barley was cooking.  Very easy, too.

Beware, the recipe makes a huge amount of salad.  It was very good, served hot the first night, then served cold over the next few days.

Farro can be used instead of barley.  And I would think quinoa would work, too.


Barley Salad with Fresh Veggies
(adapted from Color Me Vegan)

Serves 8 generously

2 cups uncooked barley or farro
5 cups water
1 cup diced red pepper
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup quartered hot house cucumber, unpeeled
1 cup chopped scallions (about 6), using both white and green parts
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil, good quality extra virgin
juice of 1 lemon, seeds removed
salt and freshly ground pepper

In a 4 quart saucepan, combine the barley and water, and bring to a boil over high heat.

Reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently, without stirring for 35 to 45 minutes until all of the water is absorbed.  It could take longer depending on how low your heat is.  Remove from heat.

In a large serving bowl, add the bell pepper, carrots, cucumber, scallions, parsley and mint.  Stir to combine.

In a small bowl, make the vinaigrette:  combine the vinegar, olive oil and lemon juice and whisk together until emulsified.

Add the barley to the large serving bowl on top of the veggies, add the vinaigrette, and use a large spatula or spoon to gently mix the veggies with the barley and coat it all with vinaigrette.

Sprinkle the pine nuts over the top, and gently mix together.

Serve hot.  Or refrigerate, and serve later, cold.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Grilled Apricot-Glazed Ham Steak by Tom


Tom's Grilled Ham Steak with Apricot Glaze

Even though I like ham, we tend to have it as a spiral cut honey-baked whole or half ham.  But we do not have ham that frequently.  Ham steak virtually never.  However in a recent purchase direct from the farm, several ham steaks came with the order.  So I needed a new recipe in order to use the ham steaks.

I did a search on the internet, and found this apricot glaze, grilled ham recipe.  It sounded pretty good to me and had good reviews.  It comes from "Taste of Home" magazine.

The apricot glaze was very simple to make.  It basted well on to the ham steak while grilling.  And it added a nice flavor without being overwhelming.

We both liked it, so I will make it again.

     ---Tom

Grilled Apricot-Glazed Ham Steak 
(from tasteofhomemagazine.com)

Serves 2 to 4 (depends on the size of the ham steak)

1 ham steak about 2 pounds and 1" thick
1/4 cup apricot preserves
1 tablespoon mustard
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a small sauce pan combine the preserves, mustard, lemon juice and cinnamon.  Cook and stir over low heat for 2-3 minutes.  Set the glaze aside.

Score the edges of the ham steak with a sharp knife.  This will help to prevent the ham steak from curling while grilling.
Grill for 8 - 10 minutes per side. 

Brush with the glaze during the last couple of minutes before turning.  Do the same when nearing the end of grilling the second side.  I heated up the glaze a bit before basting, which made it a little more fluid.

I made fresh grilled asparagus to go with our ham steak.  Simultaneously, grill the fresh asparagus after you have turned the ham steak. The asparagus takes about 7-8 minutes.
Baste the ham steak until it is all gone.
Remove from the heat, cut into portions, and serve.

     ---Tom


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Roasted Salmon with Red Pepper Almond (Romesco) Sauce

Red Pepper Almond Sauce also known as Romesco

Romesco is a delicious sauce, and it is not hard to make at all.  It originated in Catalonia, Spain, and goes well with fish, vegetables or meat.  It is a versatile sauce made of raw nuts, sweet red peppers and tomatoes.

This is Food TV chef Geoffrey Zakarian's version of Romesco.  He uses piquillo peppers instead of regular roasted red peppers (but they would work just as well.) He omits the tomatoes and uses lots of fresh herbs-- tarragon and basil -- along with garlic.

Piquillo peppers were new to us. We found them in the same aisle of the grocery store as jarred roasted red peppers.


Romesco (Red Pepper Almond Sauce)
(from Geoffrey Zakarian's My Perfect Pantry cookbook)

Serves 4

1/2 cup whole almonds, toasted
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup fresh tarragon leaves
1/2 cup piquillo peppers, drained well (or jarred roasted red peppers)
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
salt
4 skin-on salmon fillets(about 6 ounces each)
olive oil or canola oil
salt and freshly ground pepper

In a food processor, combine the almonds, basil, tarragon, piquillos and garlic.  Pulse to make a chunky paste.  In a spouted measuring cup, mix together the vinegar and oil, and with the processor running, pour it in
to make a thick, chunky sauce.  Add 1 T. or so of water to adjust the consistency, if necessary.  Season with salt to taste.

To make the salmon, I used the technique I prefer, which is to roast them in a very hot oven, but you can also grill them.

To roast them, pre-heat the oven to 500 degrees.  Pat the filets dry, then place them skin side down in a roasting pan, generously salt and pepper, then drizzle with oil.
Roast for 8-9 minutes until firm.  Carefully remove the filets from the pan, leaving the skin behind.
Serve with a generous amount of  Romesco sauce.

B





Thursday, July 7, 2016

Chicken Tarragon from Paul T.


Delicious Chicken Tarragon from Paul T.

Old friends, Paul and Natalie, moved back to our neighborhood after being away for 15 years and invited us over to a delicious meal featuring Paul's Tarragon Chicken.
He said it was one of the first meals he learned to make---from an old cookbook called America Cooks, a compilation of Women's Clubs recipes --- which he then proceeded to pull out to show me the recipe.
I can see why it has become one of his favorite recipes.  It is simple yet special, due to the slow cooking of the chicken and the tarragon, which is one of the four fines herbs in French cooking, and has an anise-like flavor.  Tarragon is used in Bearnaise sauce.

Chicken Tarragon 
(from America Cooks cookbook)

Serves 4

1/4 cup sifted flour
2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
2 pounds chicken parts
1/4 cup butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 T. chopped fresh or 1 t. dried tarragon
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth

Combine flour, salt and pepper in a paper bag. Add chicken; shake to coat well.

Melt butter in a heavy skillet; saute chicken and onion until chicken is browned on all sides.

Add remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil;  cover, simmer for 1 1/2 hours.  (Paul says check after 1 1/4 -- don't overcook-- you still want the chicken to have some texture.)
This is how it will look.
Place in a serving bowl and garnish with fresh tarragon and sliced lemons.

Delicious!

B





Friday, July 1, 2016

Thai Shrimp Salad with Ginger and Mint by Tom

Refreshing Cold Thai Shrimp Salad by Tom


Barbara asked me to look through the William-Sonoma cookbook "Soups, Salads and Starters" to see if there was anything that I might like to make.  This Thai Shrimp Salad with Ginger and Mint caught my eye.  The ingredients looked inviting, and most importantly it could be made mostly ahead of time, and then putting it into the refrigerator allowing the flavors to marry.

The "ahead of time" part took about 30 minutes to prepare.  The "put it all together to eat" part was simply plating some salad greens and spooning the refrigerated portion on top.

This was a pretty easy salad to make.  Refreshing on a hot summer's day, and had some nice Thai flavorings.  I will make this again!

         ---Tom

Thai Shrimp Salad with Ginger and Mint
(from Williams-Sonoma Soups, Salads, and Starters cookbook)

Serves 4


The Ahead of Time Ingredients:
1/2 cup fish stock
1 - 1 1/2 # peeled deveined shrimp, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon finely chopped lemon grass
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 fresh jalapeno seeded and finely chopped
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1//2 small thinly sliced red onion (I chose not to use this)
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

The Plating Ingredients:
1/2 English cucumber, peeled and cut into 1/4" halves or quarters
Salad greens of your choice, I chose fresh baby spinach


The first step is to cook the shrimp in the fish stock. 

In a covered skillet get the fish stock boiling.  Then add the shrimp.  Cook it for a minute or two covered, if fresh, a little longer if frozen.  Either will work.  Then flip them over and continue cooking covered until pink.  Remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon into a small bowl.  Cool the shrimp in the refrigerator.  Discard the remaining fish stock.
Here I am slicing up the fresh mint.  Not very exciting.
Whisk together all of the ingredients in the "ahead of time" ingredient list, including the cooked and cooled shrimp (not shown in this picture).  Cover the mixture and put into the refrigerator for a couple of hours. 

As you can discern in the picture, I added the cucumber early .  I think it made our final mixture a little too watery by marinating with all of the other ingredients.  That is why I am recommending adding the cucumber to the refrigerated mixture during the plating step.

Plate with salad greens of your choice, I used baby spinach which worked very well.  Spoon over the refrigerated mixture which now contains the cucumbers.

This salad is large enough for a whole meal or could be used as a side with another entrĂ©e.


       ---Tom

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Wine Poached Salmon with Arugula Salad from Cindy

 
 Wine Poached Salmon with Arugula Salad 

I asked our friend Cindy to share with us her "go to" recipe for salmon with arugula salad, so she invited Tom and me over for a weekday meal to show us how she does it.

It is so fast and easy, and uses just a few ingredients:  the salmon, any wine, orange juice, a shallot, arugula, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Just orange juice and wine for poaching the fish
And the best part is that it can be made using frozen salmon, if you don't have time to defrost!

Cindy used red wine for our meal, but you can also use white wine.
Easy Green Salad with Orange Shallot dressing
Wine Poached Salmon with Arugula Salad
(from Cindy)

Serves 2-4

For the fish:
1  6-ounce salmon fillet (skinless) per person
1/2 cup wine (white or red, anything you have)
1/3 cup orange juice
lots of salt and pepper

For the salad:
1 bag of pre-washed greens, arugula or spinach
1 T. diced shallot
3 to 1 ratio olive oil to orange juice
    - 9 T. extra virgin olive oil
    - 3 T. orange juice
salt and pepper

Start the salad, by dicing the shallot and place it in the bottom of a salad bowl.
Measure out the olive oil, then add the orange juice in a 3 to 1 ratio and use a whisk or a fork and stir vigorously to emulsify the dressing.
(Which means that you are combining the oil and juice.)  Add salt and pepper and mix.
Pre-heat a non-stick pan with a tight-fitting cover to medium-high, then heavily salt the bottom of the pan.
Cut open the frozen salmon fillet
and add it directly to the pan, and brown it, then flip it over to brown the other side.
Add more salt and lots of pepper.
Add 1/2 cup wine to the pan.  Then, 1/3 cup of orange juice.
Cover and reduce the heat to low to slowly cook the fish.  If the fish is defrosted, it will cook much faster.  Keep the sauce at a simmer.
After a minute or two, turn the fish over.
Meanwhile, add the dressing to the bottom of the bowl, then add the arugula a little at a time and toss it all together.
The greens will start to wilt a little.  Be sure all of the greens are evenly coated.
Go back to the fish, and continue to poach until the fish is cooked.  It will be tender but still firm.
Remove the fish from the pan, and set aside.  You will use the remaining juices to create a sauce.
Turn the heat back up, and reduce the liquid until it becomes syrupy.  It will only take a minute or two.
As needed, removed it from the heat to check the consistency, i.e., be careful not to burn it, but reduce it to a very thick syrupy sauce.
Drizzle the reduced sauce over the fish.
Divide the salad evenly, and place a piece of fish on top.
Serve with hot 7 grain bread, if desired.
And extra salt and pepper.

Delicious!

B