Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Cucumber and Tomato Salad

An easy, crisp side salad which goes well with baked salmon or chicken.  You can also add Feta cheese.  Cut the recipe in half to make a large salad for two.

For best results, be sure to use very ripe sweet cherry tomatoes.

Cucumber and Tomato Salad
(adapted from Fine Cooking)

Serves 4

1 English hothouse cucumber
1 pint very ripe sweet cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup sliced sweet onions or scallions
2 T. red wine vinegar
3 T. good quality extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 t. dried oregano
1/8 t. dried dill or 1 T. fresh dill

In the bowl you are going to serve the salad, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, dried oregano and salt and pepper.

Cut the hot house cucumber lengthwise in half, then into quarters, remove the seeds, then slice into bite size chunks.  Add to the serving bowl.

Slice the ripe sweet cherry tomatoes in half.  Season with salt, then add to the serving bowl.

Slice the sweet onion into crescents.  (Or the scallions into bitesize pieces.)  Add to the serving bowl.
Sprinkle the salad with the fresh or dried dill.  Then, toss it all together, evenly coating the cucumber and tomatoes.


Monday, April 18, 2016

Roasted Salmon with Dill Yogurt Sauce

Roasted Salmon with Dill Yogurt Sauce
(adapted from Fine Cooking)

Serves 4

1-2 Tablespoons sour cream
1/2 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
1/3 cup chopped fresh dill or 1 T. dried
2 t. fresh lemon juice
pinch of sugar
salt and pepper to taste

4 6-ounce salmon fillets (preferable wild caught)
olive oil
a sprinkle of dried oregano
a sprinkle of dried dill
salt and pepper

Position rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 500 degrees.  This is a hot oven so be sure to use a pan or casserole which can take the heat.  I use Corningware.

In a small bowl, whisk the sour cream, yogurt, dill, lemon juice and sugar.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Lightly oil the baking sheet or casserole.  Place the fish in with the skin side down, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with just a little dried oregano and dried dill.
Roast until firm and just opaque through, 5 to 8 minutes, depending on the thickness.
Ours took 8-9 minutes, partially because it takes longer for the Corningware dish to heat up.  Metal will cook faster.
Remove the fish, leaving the skin in the pan.  Avoid serving the skin if you can.
Place the fish on plates and put a generous dollop of the yogurt sauce in a puddle nearby.   Serve extra sauce at the table.

Serve with cucumber and tomato salad.  (which I will post tomorrow.)


Monday, April 11, 2016

King Arthur's Carrot Cake

Nutty Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

If you enjoy baking, then you might like the King Arthur newsletter and website.  Recipes like this one are featured.  www.kingarthurflour.com

This is an easy recipe which includes carrots and nuts only.  It's not the crushed pineapple and coconut version, but they also have that recipe on the website.

However, you can add raisins or coconut to this recipe, or any other additions, up to 1.5 cups.  Add them when you add the carrots.

The oil in this recipe makes the cake ultra moist.

King Arthur's Carrot Cake
(from the King Arthur website with my preferences)

Serves 16.  Makes a 9x13" cake or a 2-layer 9"inch cake

1.5 cups vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
1 t. salt
4 large eggs (I like to use room temperature ones)
1 T. cinnamon (I prefer Vietnamese cinnamon for cakes)
1/2 t. ginger (dried powdered is what they mean, not grated fresh)
1/4 t. ground cloves
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 t. baking soda
3 cups finely grated carrots (it's about a 1 lb. bag)
1.5 cups chopped pecans
1/2 cup (8 T.) unsalted butter (easier to whip if at room temperature)
one 8-ounce package cream cheese (ditto)
1/4 t. salt
2 t. vanilla
2 cups confectioner's sugar if you like it tangy like I do, but up to 3.5 cups

(To grate the 3 cups of carrots, I like to use the Cuisinart with the grating blade, but a traditional hand grater works just as well.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease two 9 inch round layer pans, or one 9x13 pan.

Beat together the oil, sugar, salt, eggs, and spices.  (In a mixer, not by hand.)

Mix the flour with baking soda, and stir in.  (Don't overbeat, just mix together.)

Add the carrots and nuts, and mix until just blended. (Fold in with a spatula.)

Pour into prepared pan(s).

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes (mine took 35) or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs clinging to it.  (Don't overbake.)

Allow the cake(s) to cool completely.  If you are using round layer pans, remove the layers from the pans after about 15 minutes, and place them on a rack to cool.  (If making a 9x13 let the cake cool completely in the pan. Takes an hour or two.)

To make the frosting, beat the butter and cream cheese together until smooth.  (In a mixer, not by hand.)  Add the salt and vanilla.  Beat in the sugar.  Add a teaspoon of milk or cream if the frosting is too stiff to spread; add additional sugar if it's too thin.  (Start with 2 cups and taste it and evaluate the texture.  Then, just add a little more at a time, until you get it just right.  I was happy with a tangy, spreadable frosting at 2 cups.)

Frost the sheet cake right in the pan.  For the layers, frost the top of one layer,( add the second layer), frost the top of the second layer, then frost the sides of the cake, (if you wish.)  (Or just put lots of frosting in between the layers and on top, leaving the rich dark cake exposed on the side.)

I sprinkled some extra confectioner's sugar on top.  (To make it a little sweeter for Tom.)

It is a firm, yet moist cake.  And the cream cheese frosting is tangy yet smooth and sweet.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Breakfast Ramekins

Broken Eggs Make Good Breakfast Ramekins

Aaaarrrgggh!  I dropped a carton of eggs when coming into the house from the grocery store, and cracked 8 of the dozen eggs.

I had to quickly decide whether I was going to use them or toss them.
So, I made breakfast ramekins of frozen spinach and meunster cheese because that's what I had.
But they would have also worked well with sauteed mushrooms or any other vegetable you might enjoy for breakfast with your eggs.  Bacon or pancetta would also be a nice addition.

Breakfast Ramekins

Makes 6 Ramekins

16 ounce bag of frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
8 eggs
1/4 to 1/3 cup half and half
1/8 t. freshly grated nutmeg
3 slices (2 ounces) muenster cheese -- 1/2 slice per ramekin
2-3 T. dried onion flakes or fresh minced onion
salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese for the top
butter for greasing the ramekins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Defrost spinach in microwave, and place in a colander or sieve and press/squeeze until all or most of the liquid is removed.

Grease the ramekins.

Divide the spinach evenly into the 6 ramekins.

Salt the spinach.

In a 2 cup measuring cup, add all of the eggs, then fill the measuring cup up to the 2 cup line with half and half, i.e., you want 2 cups in total.  Grate in 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg.  Add salt and pepper then whisk the mixture together until well-combined.

Sprinkle the spinach with the dried onion flakes (or minced onion).

Pour half of the liquid evenly into the 6 ramekins.  Place the 1/2 slice of cheese on the top.  Pour over the remaining liquid evenly into the 6 ramekins.

Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.

Place them on a baking rack.

Bake until puffy and golden, about 25 minutes, but start checking at 20 minutes.

Let them cool.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

For breakfast, reheat them in the microwave:  1 minute for just warmed through; 1 minute 20 seconds for very hot and melted cheese.


Monday, March 28, 2016

Mrs. King's Lasagna - Updated

Mrs. King's Lasagna
Last Friday, for the first time, Tom made Mrs. King's lasagna using the recipe here on the blog. I am the one who has usually made it over the years --- and  he made a good substitution :  ricotta for the cottage cheese --- which made the sauce silkier.

Plus there were several other areas in the recipe that would benefit from clarification, so I am reposting it.  Like how long to bake it!  Emily pointed that out to me.

Mrs. King's Lasagna (Updated)
(from our neighbor, growing up.  Her husband worked with our dad.)

Serves 6 to 8

1/2 lb. lasagna noodles (half of a box, not a whole box)
2 T. cooking oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 lb. ground beef, pork and veal mix (sometimes called meatloaf mix)
2 1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1/2 T. basil
1 1/2 cups water
2 6-ounce cans of tomato paste (with Italian herbs, if desired)
2 eggs, beaten
1 pint cottage cheese (or ricotta)
1/8. t. freshly ground nutmeg
1 T. minced fresh parsley or 1/2 T. dried parsley
1/2 lb. mozzarella, shredded
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
fresh chopped parsley for garnish

Heat water for lasagna while you prepare the meat sauce, and the cottage cheese/egg sauce.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Heat oil in skillet, cook garlic and onion until soft.  Add meat and seasoning and cook until crumbly. 
Add tomato paste and hot water.
Simmer 5 minutes or so and set aside.

Blend beaten eggs with cottage cheese (or ricotta for a silkier sauce) in bowl.  Add nutmeg and parsley and stir to mix. 

Cook noodles as directed and drain. Usually 10 minutes.

In a baking dish (9x13x2) put a thin layer of meat sauce, half the noodles, all the cottage cheese ...

This is where the recipe stops because I have lost the second card over the years.  So, I just put a third of the remaining meat sauce on top, then another layer of noodles, more meat sauce,
half the mozzarella, another layer of noodles, the remaining meat sauce, the remaining mozzarella.
and top it with the Parmesan cheese.

If you run out of sauce as I have at times, just open a jar of pre-made spaghetti sauce and layer it in.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes until bubbly all around and browning on top. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.  Sprinkle fresh parsley on top.  

Here are some cooking tips I used when cooking the recipe.  Salt along the way I add a pinch when I start the onions, and keep adding and tasting throughout the course of cooking the sauce, so it doesn't end up over salted.

Add your garlic well after the onions have started cooking so you don't burn your garlic.

A ground meat mix of beef, pork and veal makes a creamier, richer meat sauce than straight beef.  Be sure to buy lean meat or drain off most of the fat.

I use lots of basil so the basil flavor really comes through in the sauce.

The nutmeg is a really nice touch, so I would not omit it.  Dried parsley works just as well as fresh parsley.

Also don't make a whole box of lasagna noodles, you will just end up wasting them.  8 ounces or half a box is enough to make the lasagna.

Serve it with a nice salad.  I like to make the Arugula Salad with Shaved Grana Padama.


Friday, March 25, 2016

Spanish Rice with Chickpeas and Chorizo

Spanish Rice with Chorizo

Discovered this dish last year when we were going around the world and it was the month of Spain.  I happened to have a terra cotta cazuela so I thought it would be fun to use it for an authentic dish.

Cazuelas are sturdy clay pots which are safe to use in the oven and on the stovetop, if properly cured. Here's a website with an assortment of them: La Tienda, a purveyor of Spanish goods.   I got mine a long time ago at Williams-Sonoma.  Sometimes I see smaller ones at TJMaxx.

If you don't have a cazuela, just start the dish in a large saucepan and then transfer it to an oven safe casserole.

The chickpeas, and the sweet currants, go well with the garlic and tomatoes.  It is an unusual combination but really tasty.

I made the dish again recently, and I made it even better by adding spicy chorizo sausage and authentic Spanish rice -- the kind used in paella that absorbs flavors.  Yum!

Spanish Rice with Chorizo
(adapted from The Food of Spain by Claudia Roden)

Serves 8

1 14 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
5 T. olive oil
a head of garlic, not peeled
1 cup dried currants or raisins, soaked in water for 20 minutes and drained
1 large tomato, peeled and chopped (I did not bother peeling it)
1 t. sweet paprika or pimenton dulce
5 cups chicken stock
2.5 cups medium-grain Spanish paella rice or risotto, such as Arborio or Carnaroli
1 lb. chorizo sausage, browned and cut into links

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.  And brown the chorizo, so it is partially cooked.  Cut the meat into 2-3 inch links, if needed.
Heat oil in a large cazuela or casserole that goes in the oven.  Add the garlic and half the currants or raisins and stir over low heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomato and paprika or pimenton dulce and stir well.
Then add the chickpeas
then add the stock, and some salt  Bring to a boil, add the rice and stir well.

Tuck the pre-browned chorizo sausage in around the edges, and move the garlic into the middle, then sprinkle the remaining currants or raisins over the top.

Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until the rice is tender.

When serving, squeeze out a clove of the soft garlic for each person to use as a condiment.

For leftovers, we simply reheated the dish, covered, in a 350 degree oven, until warm.

The chorizo sausage can be omitted and then the rice dish can be served with chicken or shrimp.


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Easter Scalloped Potatoes from Colleen (2009)

Note from B:  This was originally posted in 2009, the year I started Feast Everyday.  Colleen, my sister-in-law,  has been a contributor from the very beginning --- and we have enjoyed her many recipes, her fun facts about food chemistry as well as her sense of humor.  Thanks, Colleen.

Hi Barb,

Our friend, Alexis, came for Easter dinner and brought her potatoes and they are delicious, so I thought I would forward. I believe the difference is in the leeks and the Yukon golds. We had them with a Honey Baked Ham, grilled vegetables (peppers, asparagus, scallions and zucchini), pumpkin bread, salad, some of LMR's pear jam, and chocolate mousse. Oh My! --- Colleen

Scalloped Potatoes
(From Colleen's Friend - Easter 2009)

8 servings

--prep 30 minutes (really more like 45)
--cook 30 minutes
--bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes (this is flexible)


3 lbs Yukon gold potatoes peeled and 1/4 inch slice
2 tsp salt


1/4 C butter (or half with olive oil)
1 clove garlic grated
1-2 leeks trimmed and chopped (about 2 c chopped)
1/4 C flour
3 C chicken broth (with 1-2 TBS Better Than Bullion for flavor) or replace some chicken broth with sherry to taste
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp white pepper (or black)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
8 oz. grated cheddar (or whatever cheese 4 cheese Mexican is nice too)

How To:

-Boil sliced potatoes for 6-8 minutes until they just barely bend rinse with cold water...this is the part the separates the men from the boys.
-Make the sauce -- in a saucepan melt butter saute leeks and garlic in butter/oil until soft
-Stir in flour to make a stiff paste
-Whisk in chicken broth until smooth
-Add pepper and cayenne
-Stir until it thickens
-Add 1/2 the cheese
-Spray a pan with oil
-Put potatoes in one layer
-Pour some sauce
-Sprinkle some cheese
-Repeat until the pan is full and the potatoes and sauce are gone

At this point if you want to you can cover and put in the fridge overnight. Or you can bake immediately at 375 degrees. (If you're taking the dish cold from the fridge, put it in the oven while it heats.)

Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

You can vary this recipe by replacing 1/2 the chicken broth with milk... you can also add curry to the sauce... and whatever to add flavor... think of it as a blank canvas...


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Chocolate Muffins with a Hint of Cinnamon

Chocolate Cinnamon Muffins

A very filling muffin.  A cross between a brownie, a cupcake and a muffin.

The cinnamon is a nice touch.  Cinnamon and chocolate are a good combo, especially for a muffin to go with coffee in the morning.

I reworked the recipe several times -- lowering the temperature of the oven, using buttermilk instead of milk, adjusting the salt, etc. -- and now I think they are "blog-worthy."

Chocolate Cinnamon Muffins
(adapted from Homesick Texan)

Makes 12 muffins

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 t. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. to 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. regular salt
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease twelve regular muffin cups.

You will need two bowls.  A smaller one for the wet ingredients.  And a larger one for the dry ingredients.

Stir together the sugar, oil, eggs, buttermilk and vanilla.

In the larger bowl, whisk or sift together:  flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Add the chocolate chips to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir just until combined.  Don't overmix or your muffins will become tough.

Fill the muffin cups three-quarters full.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  22 minutes is what mine have been taking.  Don't overbake.  Take them out sooner rather than later, just like brownies, or they will be too dry.

Let them cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes (until the chips firm up) and then turn them out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling.

They freeze well.


Friday, March 11, 2016

Old-Fashioned Ham Salad

 Old-fashioned Ham Salad

Tom loves ham salad.  We used to be able to get it freshly made at Wegman's from their deli, but they started bringing it in pre-made and it isn't very good.  So, Tom has been going without it.

While Tom was recuperating, I decided to make him some from our leftover ham.  I turned to James Beard's American Cookery, to look up how to make it.

A good use of leftover ham.  Especially after a holiday, like Easter.

Ham Salad
(James Beard's American Cookery)

Makes 4 cups

2.5 cups diced cold ham
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely cut green onions (I used dried 2-3 T. minced onions)
1/4 cup finely chopped pickles -- sweet gherkins
mustard, optional

I used my mini-Cuisinart to pulse the ham into light, chipped-ham bits, to make the texture smoother and therefore, more spreadable, rather than just dicing the cold ham as called for in his recipe.

I also used dried minced onions instead of fresh onions, which take a little while to hydrate in the salad, but I find they make a salad like tuna salad, or ham salad, less pungent.  Another way to add the onion with less obvious-ness would be to grate the onion instead of dicing it.  

Combine the ham, celery, green onions, and chopped pickles, and bind with manyonnaise to taste.  If you like, add some mustard to the mayonnaise.

Serve with crackers, buttered toast, or as a salad on a bed of lettuce and a garnish of hard boiled eggs, sliced tomatoes and olives.


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Sun-dried Tomato & Basil Everything Spread by Colleen

Mezzetta's Everything Spread: 
Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil

Hi Barb--

I  can't believe it's already been a month since Tom's surgery.

In the interest of eating well quickly, I'm sharing this product.

It's one of the four Everything Spreads from Mezzetta which I believe is stocked at Wegman's.*

It is delicious on sandwiches and chicken.

I made pasta the other night and stirred in about 2/3 of a jar with some fresh basil, toasted pine nuts and Parmesan.

Fabulous and dead easy.

You can also use it on bruschetta and veggies.

We discovered this product and are having fun trying it out.  The Mezzetta website is very good and has lots of recipes.




*NOTE from B:  Wegman's does not stock this particular Mezzetta's item, but I have asked for it.  I will look at Target, TOPS, and Wal-mart.  Or perhaps Aldi's.  If anyone finds it let me know.  In the meantime, it can be ordered from the Mezzatta's website or through Amazon.  

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie

Prior to Tom's knee replacement surgery -- which was a month ago now -- we were pre-shopping, i.e., stocking up on things we thought would be handy to have on hand or would be tasty while we were holed up during his recovery.

Tom had LOVED the key lime pie Mary C. had made for him last year when he was recovering from his thumb injury.  So, a bag of key limes were added to the cart, even though I have never made a key lime pie.

Fast forward, this weekend I found the bag of key limes hiding in the refrigerator.  So, Tom asked Mary for her recipe.  Thanks, Mary!

It is so easy!

I made the graham cracker crust, but a store-bought crust would be just as fine.  I juiced the bag of key limes, but bottled juice works just fine.  fyi-The juice was in the cocktail section of our grocery store, not with the lemon and lime juice.

Key Lime Pie
(from the back of the bottle of Nellie & Joe's Famous Key Lime Juice)

1/2 cup key lime juice (fresh or bottled)
3 egg yolks
1 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
1 pre-cooked and cooled 9" graham cracker crust pie shell
whipped cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Into a bowl, empty the can of sweetened condensed milk.  It is very thick and syrupy.

Separate the egg yolks from the whites.  Add the 3 eggs yolks to the milk.

Stir until well-combined.

Add the 1/2 cup of key lime juice.

Stir gently until well-combined, but don't over whisk.  You don't want to add air bubbles to your custard.

Pour into cooled graham cracker crust.

Bake for 14- 15 minutes, until it set but still quivers when the pan is nudged.

Alternatively,  you can bake it in a slower oven at 325 degrees for 15-17 minutes which is what I did.

Let it sit for 10 minutes before refrigerating.  Or let cool completely on a wire rack.

Serve with whipped cream.

And you add a garnish of a sliced key lime if you wish.