Friday, March 24, 2017

Spicy Cauliflower with Sultanas (Golden Raisins)

Harissa is available in the international aisle, under Morocco.  It is a very spicy red pepper paste. And turns plain cauliflower into an exciting side dish.

I added golden raisins to the original recipe to compensate for the heat of the harissa.  It also had carrots, but we prefer just cauliflower.

Next time I make it I think I will add some grated lemon zest along with the almonds and mint.  

Spicy Cauliflower with Sultanas (Golden Raisins)
(adapted from Fine Cooking, Erica Clark, Dec 2016)

Small head of cauliflower, washed, stem removed, cut into evenly sized chunks
1-2 T. harissa paste (add 1 T. then add more if needed)
1 T. olive oil
Salt and pepper.
1/4 cup sultanas (golden raisins)
2 T. toasted silvered almonds (optional)
Fresh mint, chopped (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, add the cauliflower, and the harissa paste, the olive oil, then toss until all of the cauliflower is evenly coated.  Take your time, it is important that the harissa be evenly distributed.

Generously season with salt and pepper and toss again.  It is important to add the salt.

On a large, rimmed baking sheet, spread out the cauliflower into one even layer.

Roast in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, then stir the cauliflower, and sprinkle the raisins on top, evenly distributing them.

Continue to roast until well browned, another 10 minutes or so.  They usually take 30 minutes in total.

Place them in a serving bowl, and top with some toasted slivered almonds, and some fresh mint. (Optional, but they are a nice addition.)


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Chocolate Breakfast Muffins by Colleen

Hi Barb--

Charlotte is coming home for spring break so I’ve made some chocolate breakfast muffins to welcome her home.

These are not too sweet so you can eat in the morning (although I likely would not- I’m too old for that kind of blood sugar craziness in the morning!) and are a big hit all day long. 

I got the recipe originally from King Arthur flour, but their muffin was a little dry so I’ve increased the liquids and added more chocolate chips to make a moister muffin. 


Chocolate Breakfast Muffins

Makes about 18

2/3 cup European (dutched) cocoa
2 cups flour
1 ¼ cups light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
½ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons vinegar
1 serving instant coffee/espresso (decaf ok)
1 ½ cups chocolate chips (mixed milk and dark)
Large sugar crystal sprinkles

In a medium bowl mix all the dry ingredients together. In a large bowl, whisk all the wet ingredients together plus the instant coffee. Then stir in the dry ingredients until mixed and add in chocolate chips. Line a muffin pan with muffin liners and fill each about 2/3 full. Sprinkle tops with sugar crystals.

Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes. Test with toothpick to make sure muffins are baked through. Remove from oven and run a knife around edge of muffins to release from tin. After ten minutes remove muffins from tin and serve or let cool.


Monday, March 20, 2017

Roasted Carrots with Pistachios, Lime Zest, Parmesan and Mint

Carrots are in the rotation during the winter (like brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli) until Spring finally arrives and we can have asparagus again.  So, I am always looking for ways to dress carrots up easily.

Originally this recipe called for sauteing the carrots, but I find it easier to roast them.  And now I leave them whole. (Click here to see original post)

Roasted Carrots with Pistachios
(adapted from Fine Cooking, Oct/Nov 2014)

Serves 2

1/2 lb. of carrots, about 5
Finely grated lime zest (1/2 lime)
Lime juice (1/2 lime)
1-2 drops of Sriracha or other hot sauce
2 T. salted pistachios, shelled and toasted, chopped
2 T. Parmesan cheese, grated
1 T. fresh chopped mint or 1 t. dried
Fresh parsley, chopped -- as much as you like
olive oil

Peel and cut the tops and bottoms off the carrots.  If needed, slice lengthwise, to make them all the same diameter for even cooking.

Line a baking sheet with foil, then oil the carrots and place them in one layer in the pan.

Add a little salt to the carrots before you roast them-- just a pinch because the Parmesan is salty too.

While the carrots cook (or ahead of time), carefully toast the pistachios (don't let them burn) and roughly chop.

Prepare all of the other finishing ingredients --- the lime zest, chop the parsley, the mint. And mix them together in a small bowl.

When the carrots are done,  place them on a warm platter in a single layer. Then squeeze the lime juice over the carrots and add the few drops of hot sauce.  Sprinkle the lime zest, the parsley, the mint, the Parmesan, and the pistachios across the top.

Serve while still hot.  The carrots are best when served warm.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Sweet Irish Soda Bread

Loaded with Currants and Moist, not Dry

Just re-posting this separately, so that it is easier to find.  Tom made it again this year.  We didn't have shortening, so he substituted butter and it was as good as it always is.  

Sweet Irish Soda Bread
(Recipe by Jill Novatt, a Food TV recipe)

2 cups flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 T. sugar
2 T. cold unsalted butter
2 T. cold vegetable shortening (butter is okay)
1 egg, beaten
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup currants
2 T. toasted caraway seeds
1 T. melted butter
1 T. sanding sugar (coarse sugar)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, then mix well.  Cut the butter and shortening into small pieces and add to the flour mixture.  Using your fingers, work the cold butter and shortening into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Add the egg, the buttermilk, the currants and the caraway seeds and mix into the flour mixture until it is incorporated.  Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead gently until the dough forms a smooth ball.  Place the dough into a lightly greased loaf pan.  Score the top of the loaf with a very sharp knife.  Brush the top of the loaf with the melted butter.  Sprinkle with sanding sugar.  Place the loaf in the oven and bake for 40 -45 minutes or until golden brown.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Easy Baked Turkey Meatballs by Colleen

Turkey Makes A Good Meatball, too

So the turkey meatballs are very similar to the basic meatball recipe that I sent awhile back to Feast Everyday(Easy Meatballs, March, 2010), but here it is with a few modifications.  

These are baked.  And use ground turkey instead of ground beef.

Many meatball recipes call for rolling the balls in flour and frying in oil before finishing in a sauce or in the oven. You can still do that if you want - it just adds more work and more calories, but if you want the crunchy texture of the fried meatball, go right ahead. 
This version produces a very slight crunch on the meatball with a soft, fluffy interior. But they still hold together in the sauce.

This is a double batch, but it is so easy to do and the meatballs freeze really well, so it makes sense to have a large quantity. But you can halve the recipe if you don’t plan on freezing any of the meatballs or you aren’t feeding an army!


Turkey Meatballs

Makes 20-24 meatballs

2 lbs ground turkey (I used 93% fat free although you can use 99% fat free)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 eggs
2 cups herb and garlic breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 cup half and half (you can use milk or cream cut with water)
2-3 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 Tbs Bomba Tomato Paste (this is a brand of tomato paste that has tomatoes plus a few other spices/veg for a deeper flavor)
2-3 teaspoons Penzey’s dried garlic (I crushed it between my palms - can use fresh garlic too)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat all the ingredients except the turkey together until well mixed. Add in the turkey and mix thoroughly until bread crumb/egg mix is distributed through the turkey.

Get a large roasting pan and line with a sheet of parchment paper. 

Get a large cookie scoop (about 1/4 cup volume) and scoop out mix onto parchment paper. The balls don’t really spread so they can be fairly close together, but not touching. 

Bake for 30-40 minutes until a meat probe inserted in the meatballs registers at least 180 degrees. 

Remove from oven and cool for freezing, or add to sauce if using right away. 

Makes about 20-24 large meatballs depending on your scoop size. I would consider a serving to be 2-3 meatballs, 4-5 for a hungry teen.

If you want smaller, appetizer sized meatballs, you can just use a small scoop and reduce the baking time.


Monday, March 13, 2017

St. Patrick's Day Dinner

Corned Beef, Cabbage, Potatoes, Onions, Turnips and Parsnips

Every year Tom makes his corned beef and Irish soda bread meal for St. Patrick's Day. This year he had to make it early because we will be at the March Madness basketball tournament on St. Patrick's Day.  Lucky us!

His original post is from 2010 and includes both the New England Boiled Dinner and Irish Soda Bread.

If you want to make it, here is the link:

And it is listed in the recipe index under beef as New England Boiled Dinner and under breads as Irish Soda Bread
Happy Patrick's Day!


Friday, March 10, 2017

Coconut Turmeric Rice

This is a wonderfully aromatic, colorful rice dish and that goes well with roasted chicken or lamb.

It also pairs extremely well with Colleen's Turmeric Carrot Soup.   Just add a big scoop of it to the bottom of your bowl before pouring the hot soup over the top.  (Leave out the rice and butter in her recipe.)

Both Tom and I have learned that hard way that turmeric stains your hands and cutting boards, so beware when you are grating it.

And don't skip the step of washing the rice or the dish will be wet and sticky.  We also learned that the hard way.

Prep time is a little longer because you soak the raisins in hot coconut milk before adding the rice.
Coconut Turmeric Rice
(From Fine Cooking, Diana Andrews, Dec 2016)

Serves 4 

1 cup basmati rice
1 13.5 ounce can unsweetened coconut milk (light is okay)
1 ounce fresh turmeric, peeled and grated (about 2.5 T.)
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. light brown sugar
1/8 t. ground cinnamon
Pinch ground cardamom
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes
1/3 cup coarsely chopped salted pistachios (you can use less)
Grate the fresh turmeric.  It will stain
Rinse the rice in a medium-mesh strainer under cool running water, swishing it by hand occasionally, until the water runs clear.

Shake the can of coconut milk well.
In a 4 quart saucepan, combine the coconut milk, turmeric, 1/4 t. salt, sugar, cinnamon, and cardamom.  Stirring frequently, bring the milk to a gentle boil over medium heat.
Remove the pan from the heat, add the raisins, and let steep for 20 minutes.
Return to a low boil, reduce the heat to low, and stir in the rice and pepper flakes.

Cover and cook until all of the liquid is absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and let the rice stand, covered for 8 to 10 minutes.
Fluff with a fork, then serve topped with the pistachios.


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Why is Turmeric good for you?


Yesterday I made Colleen's Turmeric Carrot Soup to have something healthy on hand. The house smelled really good!   And it is very tasty, too.  

I didn't add the rice or butter, and instead added some cream at the end.  Plus I added a couple tablespoons of honey because my tomatoes and carrots weren't very sweet.  On top I sprinkled some toasted sesame seeds.
Turmeric is a peppery, earthy spice with a hint of mustard to it. It is often used in curry blends.

We have been making a coconut rice dish with fresh turmeric.  I found the recipe in Fine Cooking magazine. (I will post the recipe for it soon.)
Until a few months ago.  I wasn't aware of fresh turmeric.  But there it was in the grocery store, when I looked for it.
It is a member of the ginger family.  Like ginger, it's a rhizome.

From what I have read about it, it is an ancient ingredient, with many medicinal properties.  It was also used as a dye.  No surprise, the way it stains your fingers when you grate it!

The main reason turmeric is good for you is the curcumin ingredient in it.

The Mayo Clinic says:
Curcumin is thought to have antioxidant properties, which means it may decrease swelling and inflammation. It's being explored as a cancer treatment in part because inflammation appears to play a role in cancer.
Laboratory and animal research suggests that curcumin may prevent cancer, slow the spread of cancer, make chemotherapy more effective and protect healthy cells from damage by radiation therapy. Curcumin is being studied for use in many types of cancer.
I was the most interested in the anti-inflammatory claims.  But you might be interested in one of the gazillion reasons people are claiming it is good for.   To name just a few:  it counteracts diabetes, helps with indigestion, reduces liver toxins, helps with weight management, slows Alzheimer's disease, and it can even be used as a tooth whitener!


Friday, March 3, 2017

Turmeric Carrot Soup from Colleen

Hey, I’ve been feeling under the weather with sinus troubles and lingering post-virus fatigue. 

Turmeric is supposed to be a natural anti-inflammatory.  

A neighbor gave me a big package of organic turmeric and I thought I would make a soup based on it.  Most recipes online call for ginger in a turmeric soup, but I don’t always like that flavor profile.  

So here is a soup I made up without the ginger, although if you like ginger, I think you could easily add it to this recipe.  The amounts are approximate - you could alter the ratio of carrots and tomatoes and peppers as you have ingredients on hand. And if you don’t have shallots, you could easily sauce 1/2 cup finely chopped onion.  

It makes a really hearty soup that is not too spicy but feels warming.  

Warning! Turmeric is a potent herb in the sense that it will stain many plastics or utensils a deep marigold if in prolonged contact with the spice.  
I left my hand blender in the soup while it was cooling, thinking I might want to blend it a little more. Hah!  Base of the blender is stained yellow.  I soaked and scrubbed it and nothing helped.  Not a crisis, but be careful!


Turmeric Carrot Soup

1 large shallot, minced
3 Tbs turmeric powder
1 Tbs chopped garlic or  ½ Tbs Penzy’s dehydrated garlic
2 Tbs olive oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4-6 cups  peeled, cut carrots (baby carrots fine)
2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes (or one can)
1 jar roasted red peppers, sliced
2 Tbs tomato paste
2 cartons chicken stock
½ cup uncooked white rice
2 Tbs butter
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the shallots in olive oil until translucent.  Add in turmeric, red pepper and garlic and sauté for a minute.  (If using dehydrated garlic, wait and add with broth).  Add broth, carrots, tomatoes, tomato paste, red peppers, white rice and salt and pepper.  Simmer for 30-40 minutes until carrots are cooked through and rice is soft.  Blend with hand blender in the pot.  Add butter and stir in.   Season to taste If soup is thick, can thin with more broth or water.  


Friday, February 10, 2017

Spaghetti with 5-Herb Pesto by Tom

Fresh Basil, Sage, Parsley, Tarragon and Celery Leaves Pesto

Barbara was flipping through one of her cookbooks and asking me what we should make for dinner that evening.  More accurately, what was I going to make for dinner.

I kind of had a desire for pasta.  So when she passed this recipe, I told her to stop.  Looked interesting and not to difficult to make.  Right on both counts.

This is really a three-step recipe.  Step 1: cut up four different herbs.  Five when you count the garnish on top.  Step 2:  puree in a food processor the ingredients for the pesto.  Step 3: prepare the spaghetti.  From then on it is just assembly.

What will strike you immediately is the fragrance coming from the herbs.  Next the garlic from the pesto.  And finally the beautiful aroma when it all comes together.

But it does not stop with the smell.  The taste is really good.

This dish was exactly what I was hoping for!  Great taste and a relatively light and healthy meal.


Spaghetti with Fresh Herbs 
(from Williams-Sonoma Good Food To Share cookbook )

Serves 4

1 pound spaghetti
1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
1 cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley leaves
2 tablespoons lightly packed fresh tarragon leaves (our store did not have this, so I used dry tarragon about 1/2 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons lightly packed fresh sage leaves
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 clove of garlic, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup lightly packed celery leaves
salt and ground pepper to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan at the table

Finely chop the basil, parsley, tarragon and sage and place in a bowl.  Sprinkle in the lemon juice and lightly coat the herbs.

Next combine the garlic, Parmesan cheese and the pine nuts in a small food processor or blender.  With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream.  Process until the mixture is creamy and well blended.

Pour the oil mixture into the bowl with the herbs and stir to combine.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the spaghetti per the instructions on the box.  I like pasta to be al dente, which usually takes about 10-11 minutes.  When the spaghetti is at the desired consistency, drain through a colander, and then transfer to a serving bowl or individual plates, as we did.

Add the pesto mixture to the spaghetti.
Sprinkle on the celery leaves.  Add a little salt and pepper to taste.
Add grated Parmesan cheese.

This smells really good and it tastes really good!  Twirl and enjoy.


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Toasted Pecan Cocoa Biscotti

Twice Baked Italian Cookies (Biscotti)

Well, I broke down and baked this weekend, having made it through a full month into the new year to compensate for the excesses of the holidays.

I was really missing a morning treat to go with our coffee, and this recipe on the side of the Dutch-processed cocoa powder box fit the bill. They are not very sweet but they are chocolatey.

Toasted Pecan Cocoa Biscotti
(from the Dorval cocoa powder box)

1/2 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 T. instant espresso powder
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, at room temperature
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a large cookie rimmed sheet with parchment paper.
Toast the pecans, either in the toaster oven, or in the oven, or in a large skillet on the stove top, until fragrant but not dark.  (3-4 minutes in my toaster oven. Watch them carefully.) Break them into large pieces, or chop roughly.  Set aside to cool.
In a bowl, sift together cocoa, flour, espresso powder, baking soda and salt.
In a larger bowl, using an electric mixer, combine eggs, butter and vanilla until well blended.  Turn mixer to low and slowly add the sugar.

Then gradually (a 1/2 cup or so at a time) add the flour mixture, mixing well after each addition.

Mix in the toasted pecans.  (Make sure they are cool.)

(The batter will be stiff.)
On a floured surface, (turn out the dough)
and divide it in two logs (as equally sized as possible and flattened on top.)
Place them on the parchment paper lined baking sheet, allowing for enough space for the dough to expand as it bakes.
Bake for approximately 35-40 minutes until firm to the touch. (Wish I had taken mine out sooner.)
Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.
Using a serrated knife, slice the logs into pieces approximately 3/4 inch thick.
Place back on the baking sheet with pieces standing upright and bake for another 20 minutes (checking after 10, and then again at 15) or until the desired crispness.

Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.
These biscotti are the dry-style of biscotti.  Best with coffee or red wine.