Thursday, April 22, 2010

Turkey and Bacon Meatloaf by Tom

Tom Valenti's Turkey and Bacon Loaf by Tom

Monday afternoon a few weeks ago and it is my turn to cook again.  Barbara is off painting for the afternoon so I have the cooking duty.  While shopping at Wegman's we had found ground turkey was on sale and bought a couple of pounds of it.  At that point we had no good ideas of what we wanted to do with it.  But along from our bookshelf of cookbooks came Tom Valenti's cookbook "You Don't Have to Be Diabetic to Love This Cookbook" and a pretty clever use for gound turkey.  This recipe was so simple that, uncharacteristically for me, I followed it to a tee.  Well, almost!  This recipe proved to be not only easy to make, but very tasty as well.  I will definitely make this one again!

Here are the ingredients:

2-4 slices of turkey bacon, cooked and coarsely chopped
1 small Spanish onion, chopped
1 large egg, beaten
1 yellow pepper, chopped (this was my addition to the recipe!)
3/4 cups dry unseasoned bread crumbs
2 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (this is a key ingredient in the seasoning of this recipe)
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (Kosher salt works well)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves (double the amount if you use fresh)
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon (double the amount if you use fresh)
2 pounds lean ground turkey
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Coarsely chop the onion and the yellow pepper.

Chop up the bacon and then put it into a hot large frying pan.  I used medium high heat. 

After the bacon has become soft and has rendered some of its fat, add the chopped onion and yellow pepper to the frying pan.  Cook until the onions have become translucent and both the onions and yellow peppers are soft.  No need to brown them.  This will take about 5-7 minutes.  Stir frequently.

Let the cooked bacon, onions and yellow peppers cool a bit in a large mixing bowl, about 10 minutes.  Then add the turkey, bread crumbs, mustard, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, thyme and tarragon to the bacon, onion and pepper mixture.  Beat the egg in a small bowl and then add that as well.  Make sure the cooked mixture is cool enough so that it does not start to cook the beaten egg when you add it.  Mix the entire thing up well.  You hands work best for this.  Put the well-mixed mixture into a loaf pan and the loaf pan on a cookie sheet to catch any drippings.  I found that unlike ground beef meatloaf, there is very little fat that is rendered if you start with lean ground turkey.

Into the oven goes the loaf pan with your turkey and bacon loaf mixture.  Plan on at least 50 minutes in the oven.  Key here is to make sure the center of the loaf is cooked.  Use an instant read thermometer and make sure the internal loaf temperature reaches 165 degrees.  This is one recipe that you do not want to undercook, so use your thermometer.  Food safety!  Once you are sure that loaf is cooked, remove it from the oven and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.

Slice the turkey loaf and serve.  I served this dish with a wild rice mixture and creamed spinach.  They complimented the taste of the turkey loaf nicely.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Chocolate Espresso Muffins with Chocolate Chips and Goat Cheese

Chocolate Espresso Muffins with Choc. Chips and Goat Cheese

Not all of my experiments make it on to the blog, but Lin -- I take something to her on Mondays when we paint ---likes these muffins so much, she asked me to post the recipe.   

So, I made them again today to be sure that the recipe really works.   Maybe I should name them Not To Be Forgotten Muffins.  I went upstairs to do something and then forgot all about them!  Yikes --- I am sure that I am not the first person who has done that.  Luckily they weren't burnt, just overdone, by the time I remembered.

Anyway, next to soups, I like to experiment with muffins the most.  I use the Yellow Farmhouse master recipe, then make different combinations, depending on the season, and what's on hand.  A while ago, I was cleaning out the fridge and made some awesome muffins that were more like peach cobbler because the amount of fruit in them made them a little wet.  They were mango, banana and goat cheese.  But they seemed peachy.  Tom, who is a big peach cobbler fan, ate one as his treat every night, heated, with ice cream, until they were gone. 

So with that success behind me, I started thinking about the goat cheese element -- it is tangy, yet creamy, and very effective in a muffin.  Once, I saw a goat cheese brownie recipe, which gave me the idea for a chocolate muffin with goat cheese.   And if I added espresso then they might stay more like an adult breakfast muffin, than dessert.  I did not want them to be too sweet.

When I went to bake, I was almost out of flour, so I used half whole wheat flour and half regular flour.  Today, I was completely out of regular flour, so I used cake flour and whole wheat, a good combo, it turns out.

I'd say that the secret to a good muffin is buttermilk and not overmixing your batter.  Otherwise they are easy and fun to experiment with.

Chocolate Espresso Muffins

8 T. (1 stick) butter, melted
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour or cake flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 - 2 T. espresso powder, depending on much you like mocha
1/2 c. cocoa powder, Hershey's is fine
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 c. plus 1 T. sugar
2-3 ounces crumbled goat cheese
1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
raw sugar to sprinkle on top before baking

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease muffin pan.  Makes 12 large muffins.

Melt the butter in the microwave, and let it cool.  In a large bowl, whisk two eggs together and add the vanilla and cooled butter, and whisk until frothy.

Measure out your buttermilk and then add the espresso powder to it and whisk it together until it dissolves.

Measure out your dry ingredients, except the sugar, in another bowl and be sure to whisk them  together to evenly distribute the leavening ingredients and the salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the butter and egg mixture, and stir until it is about half mixed.

On top of this mixture, add the chocolate chips, the goat cheese, the sugar. 

Then pour buttermilk with espresso over everything

Using a large spatula, gently mix it all together, just until it combined.  Be sure your batter is wet enough.  If it is too dry, add another 1/4 cup of buttermilk and gently mix it in.

Divide into 12 portions, using a 1/3 measuring cup.

Sprinkle raw sugar on top for crunch.

Bake for 25 minutes, or a little longer if they seem wet, but do not overbake. 

Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then remove to a rack to continue to cool.

Best when served warm.  Great with your morning coffee.

P.S  Can't wait for my camera to come back from the Geek Squad repair shop.  I don't know how anyone takes an iPhoto indoors without it being blurry.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Glaze by Colleen's friend Miriam Rotman

Hi Barb,
I recently went to a baby shower for my hip hop teacher. She taught up until almost her ninth month before an ankle sprain in class brought her to her senses! She used to be a professional dancer and a Stanford Dolly - so she has that invincibility thing going.
Anyway, we had the shower last Friday and it was during Passover. A few of the ladies attending were Jewish. My friend Miriam Rotman brought this amazing flourless chocolate cake - I've attached the recipe. It was really good - I brought home some leftovers and Buddy and Charlotte just hoovered them up.

I wrote back and said ---HIP HOP CLASSES?????

Hi Barb, 
Yes, I’ve been doing hip hop for about a year and half. The teacher is Indian and often uses Bollywood music which is a blast. And lots of Lady Gaga and Jay Z and other people who I should know the names of, but don’t. She promises to start teaching again in the Fall. It is both physically and mentally challenging. Mostly, it is the teacher – she is so positive and encouraging, you think you are as good as Usher (until you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and realize you are one of the sorrier auditions for So You Think You Can Dance).


Flourless Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Glaze
Bon App├ętit  January 1999 (Kid-Friendly, Cake)

Yield: Serves 10 to 12/ From Miriam Rotman

For cake
12 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
(I used Guittard semisweet chocolate chips)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 large eggs, separated
12 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For glaze
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup corn syrup
9 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used the semisweet chocolate chips)

Chocolate shavings for decoration

Make cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 9-inch-diameter spring-form pan. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper or waxed paper; butter paper. Wrap outside of pan with foil. Stir chocolate and butter in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Cool to lukewarm, stirring often. (The microwave works just as well)
Using electric mixer, beat egg yolks and 6 tablespoons sugar in large bowl until mixture is very thick and pale, about 3 minutes. Fold lukewarm chocolate mixture into yolk mixture, then fold in vanilla extract. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in another large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 6 tablespoons sugar, beating until medium-firm peaks form (don't over beat). Fold whites into chocolate mixture in 3 additions. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake cake until top is puffed and cracked and tester inserted into center comes out with some moist crumbs attached, about 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack (cake will fall a lot). In my oven 42 minutes was enough.
Gently press down crusty top to make evenly thick cake. Using small knife, cut around pan sides to loosen cake. Remove pan sides. Place 9-inch-diameter tart pan bottom or cardboard round atop cake. Invert cake onto tart pan bottom. Peel off parchment paper. I also cut the cake a bit to ensure it was even.

Make glaze:
Bring cream and corn syrup to simmer in medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth.
Place cake on rack set over baking sheet. Spread 1/2 cup glaze smoothly over top and sides of cake. Freeze until almost set, about 3 minutes. Pour remaining glaze over cake; smooth sides and top. Place cake on platter. Chill until glaze is firm, about 1 hour. (Even better if made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome; store at room temperature or in the refrigerator.)

Garnish with chocolate shavings or leaves. Serve at room temperature.

You can store it in the freezer and eat it straight. My husband likes it best frozen...

Simple...and yet scrumptious! This cake is okay for Passover because it has no flour!


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Pulled Pork with a Twist

iPhone photo of Pulled Pork with a Twist

The last thing we wanted to do when we got home last night was go out for dinner or have to think up something to cook.  Luckily, I had put last Sunday's pulled pork and rice in the freezer before we left.  All we had to do was reheat it on low in the oven. 

We've been gone all week, having a good time in Virginia, visiting with my brother and my 15 year-old-nephew.  They were on a civil war/college/golf adventure together during the school break.  We caught up with them in Charlottesville and toured with them north to Georgetown.

iPhone photo again --- my camera is in the repair shop

This is when I love leftovers. The flavors have married together and intensified, plus there is no work!

And this concoction was particularly good, so I thought I'd better write it down before I forget how I made it. 

Basically, it is slow cooked pork --- with a twist.  I put orange juice and a knob of ginger, along with an onion in the braising broth.  These additions didn't overpower the meat; they just add a nice twist.

The pork was first dry rubbed with onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, and cumin.  I add some dashes of liquid smoke and a can of chicken broth.  Covered, I cooked it on low -- 250 degrees for a couple of hours, and then turned it over. 

I needed more liquid, so I squeezed the juice out of two oranges, cut a ginger knob lengthwise and quartered an onion and tucked them alongside the meat, then stuck the pot (covered) back in the oven for another couple of hours.  I raised the temperature to 300 --to be sure that my addition of liquid didn't slow the cooking --- for another couple of hours. 

When the meat was falling apart, I took it out and shredded it with two forks.  I used what we had in the freezer, which was a pork loin.  It didn't have much fat, but if you use pork butt, now is when you would pull out and discard the fatty bits. 

Then, I added a very generous amount of BBQ sauce, a cup or two ---we like Dinosaur BBQ's Slathering Sauce -- and then returned it to the oven to heat, covered, while we made the rice.  A Texmati popcorn rice works well.   
This same dish could be made in a slow cooker.  I would put everything in together in the morning and let it cook all day long until dinner time.  Then, shred the pork, add the BBQ sauce and reheat it while preparing the rice and a veggie.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Scallops with Lentils

Scallops with Lentils

I clipped this recipe from Bon Appetit, back in 2006, and have had it on my list of things to try ever since. 

Scallops are so easy to cook well at home.  And lentils can be unexpectedly luscious.  So, it seemed like these two could be a good fit. 

But I could never find the French lentils around here.  They are so much better than the common lentils.  I used to get them at Whole Foods when I was in NYC.  Then, I discovered Wegman's had canned Italian lentils.  What to look for is Lentilles du Puy.  They are a very good alternative.

Twice I have tested this recipe and last Friday night I served it to guests.  Most of it can be made ahead, a big plus for entertaining. And for this particular night, we weren't sure what time our guests from out-of-town would be arriving.

Shallots are a key ingredient, but I didn't have any so I used a Mayan onion and it worked fine.  I cut back the recipe by about 1/3 because I was cooking for 4, not 6. 

Pan-Seared Scallops with Lentils, Bacon and Cider Reduction
from Deborah Snow of Blue Heron Restaurant, Sunderland, MA who was featured in Bon Appetit, 9/2006
Serves 6
For the marscapone cream:
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 T. chopped shallots
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1 t. grated lemon peel
1/2 t. chopped fresh chives
For the cider reduction:
2 cups apple cider
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup chopped shallots
For the lentils:
6 whole cloves
1 medium onion
6 cups water
1 1/2 cups French green lentils (12 ounces) or 2 cans of Lentilles du Puy
2 bay leaves
6 slices thick cut applewood smoked bacon, cut crosswise 1/4 inch thick
1/4 cup shallots
1 t. chopped fresh thyme
For the scallops:
18 scallops, patted dry
6 T. butter, divided (I omitted)
2 T. olive oil

First thing I would recommend doing is making the cider reduction and set it aside.  It's just a reduction to intensify the flavors.  Put the apple cider and apple cider vinegar and shallots in a heavy pan and boil until reduced so you have only 1/3 of what you start with.  Takes about 15 minutes.  The recipe says to strain off the solids but I skipped this step, as I was going for a more rustic presentation versus fine dining.  The cider reduction can be made 1 day ahead and rewarmed.

Then, make the marscapone cream that will go into the lentils.  In Bon Appetit recipe, they serve it as a sauce on the scallops, but I think it works better to add it to the lentils, to add flavor and creaminess.  This can also be made ahead by one day.

Place wine and shallots in a heavy small saucepan.  Boil until almost dry, about 6 minutes.  Add cream.  Boil until reduced by half, about 2 minutes.  Stir in marscapone, lemon peel, and chives.  I should have paid more attention to my saucepan.  I was cooking all 4 different components at once.  It got a little crazy.  So, I let it get a little brown, but it still tasted great.  Good thing I was going for a rustic presentation. 

The lentils can be cooked one of two ways.  If you have dry French lentils, you would put them in water with the cloved onion and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil, then reduce until tender, about 30 minutes.  If you are using canned lentils, they are already cooked, so the goal is to add flavor without letting them break down into mush.  I did this draining them very well in a strainer, then putting them in the saucepan with the cloved onion and bay leaf, and a little water, maybe 1/3 cup, and very gently simmered them, on ultra low, for about 30 minutes.  Discard the bay leaf and the cloved onion.  Drain if necessary.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon until crisp, remove it to drain, then break it into little bits.  Fyi - it was worth it to look for apple wood smoked bacon versus using regular bacon.

Pour off most of the fat, then saute the shallots until golden brown. 

To the lentils (which should be drained by now or dry),  add the chopped bacon, shallots, and thyme.  Stir in the marscapone cream.   (Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of this step.)  Your lentils are now ready.  You can make ahead by a couple of hours.

Then, I started my asparagus, in a cover pan, with a 1/2 inch of water and let it boil for 4 minutes covered and then another 4 uncovered until dry, and then added a little olive oil and salt and pepper.

Saute the scallops for 3 minutes on each side, or maybe less.  It depends on the size of the scallops.  Take them out as soon as they get firm to touch. 

Place a bed of lentils on the plate and then put the scallops on top, and spoon over the cider reduction.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Marinated Cannellini Beans with Basil

Marinated Cannellini Beans with Basil
adapted from a Mario Batali recipe for Grilled Radicchio Salad in one of his early cookbooks

1 can Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3 T. extra virgin olive oil
3 T. basalmic vinegar
large pinch of hot red pepper flakes
6 or 7 basil leaves, cut into narrow ribbons, chiffonade
1 garlic clove, sliced very thin
salt and pepper

Drain and rinse a can of cannellini beans. 
Chiffonade the basil leaves. 

This is done by stacking your basil leaves on top of each other.

Then rolling the stack together and cutting across the leaves to create ribbons.

In your serving bowl, salt the beans well and add some ground pepper, too. Add equal amounts of extra virgin olive oil --use the good stuff --- and basalmic vinegar, about 3 T. of each. Add a large pinch of hot red pepper flakes. Very thinly slice a clove of garlic.  Add the basil ribbons. 

Toss it all together and let the beans marinate for an hour or two at room temperature.  Serve as an hors d'ouevres with toasted bread or as a side dish with grilled meat or fish.

In Feb, 1999 we started making this dish.  That's when I learned how good canned beans can be.   This is such an easy dish to prepare, yet it is packed with flavor.

If you want more of a spread, you can puree it.  It will keep in the fridge for while, too.  If there is leftover marinade after the beans are eaten, you can use it on salad greens and it is delicious.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Roasted Red Pepper Bruschetta

Roasted Red Pepper Bruschetta

On Sunday, Emily prepared bruschetta to go with our Easter dinner, using Steve and Colleen's friend's Roasted Red Pepper Dip.  I had made it on Friday night, so we had leftovers.  She sawed off (inside joke) a slice of bread, then added a slice of aged Provolone cheese, spooned the roasted red pepper dip on top, then toasted the whole thing in the toaster oven, until the cheese melted, but did not burn.  Very, very tasty.

The recipe called for crushed red peppers.  They were in the same aisle, on the same shelf, as the jar of roasted red peppers. The crushed red peppers were an important element to the success of the dip.

We all preferred the bruschetta variation over the cracker version which we had on Friday night.  FYI - I made a one jar version versus two that the recipe called for.  The jar had seven peppers in it.  It was more than enough.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Coloring Easter Eggs with Emily

Photo by Emily

It was a glorious day today. 85 degrees and sunny with a light breeze.  Emily is visiting us, escaping from NJ.  She was sunburned, wearing shorts and flip flops when we sat outside on the patio and colored Easter eggs together.  Happy Easter!