Saturday, November 17, 2012

Healthy Beets Recipe from Margaret

Margaret's Beets

Ran into Margaret S. in the grocery store a few days ago and she had a big bunch of beets in her basket.  We started talking about beets and how good they are ----and how she steams hers but I roast mine ---which lead to a discussion about the tops which I have never cooked.  She said that she and Jim eat greens just about everyday.  And that she had a great recipe for beet greens.

So, I whipped out a Feast Everyday card, and said "Did you know I have a food blog??"   So, now we have a new contributor!  Thanks, Margaret.  Can't wait to try to your recipe.  And thanks for sending the photos along too. 

Roasted Beets with Greens and Walnuts
(a Weight Watchers recipe)

1 1/2 pounds baby beets with tops
2 t. olive oil
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 scallions, cut into 3- inch lengths
1/4 t. salt
2 T. chopped walnuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Trim beets, reserve tops.  Place beet roots on center of double layer of foil, fold edges together to seal tightly.  Place packet on baking sheet and roast until beets are fork tender, about 45 minutes.  Unwrap beets and let cool.  Peel and cut beets in half.

Coarsely chop beet greens.  Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally until golden 1-2 minutes.  Add beet greens, scallions, and salt.

Cook, partially covered, until greens are tender, 8-10 minutes. 

Add roasted beets; cook, stirring often, until heated through, 2 minutes. 

Sprinkle with walnuts.  Serve hot or room temperature.

----Thanks, Margaret


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mushroom Lover's Chardonnay Chicken Stew

Chardonnay Chicken Stew with Mushrooms

If you really love mushrooms, then you will love this chicken stew recipe.  It's from Susan Wyler's one-pot-meal cookbook called Simply Stews.

The stew is rich in flavor from the velvety chicken broth, earthy mushrooms and fragrant tarragon.  It uses porcini, shiitake, cremini, and portobello mushrooms.

We served it over rice, with a side of sauteed French green beans.

I removed the skin before serving, but left it on during stewing for added flavor.

Chardonnay Chicken Stew with Mushrooms
(Susan Wyler's Simply Stews)

4 to 6 servings

1  3-4 pound chicken, cut into parts and back removed
Salt and pepper
2 T. dried porcini mushrooms
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups chicken stock
1 t. dried tarragon
4 T. butter
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps halved or quartered
3 medium shallots, chopped (1/4 cup)
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms (or white), quartered
1/2 pound portobello mushrooms, halved and thickly sliced
1 1/2 t. fresh lemon juice
dash of cayenne
2 t. cornstarch
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 T.  chopped parsley (or chervil)

Rinse chicken and pat it dry.  Cut into 10 serving pieces:  2 drumsticks, 2 thighs, 2 wings, and 4 pieces of breast (cut both sides crosswise in half).  Season with salt and pepper.  (I bought a chicken already cut up at the grocery store.)

In a small heatproof bowl (or your Pyrex measuring cup), soak the porcini in 1 cup boiling water until soft, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large flameproof casserole, heat 2 T. of the oil over moderately high heat.  Add the chicken in 2 batches and saute, turning, until golden brown, about 7 minutes per batch.  Remove the chicken to a plate and pour off all the oil from the pan.

Add the wine to the casserole and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. 

Return the chicken to the pan and add the chicken stock, 1/2 t. of the tarragon, 1/2 t. salt., and 1/4 t. pepper.  Bring to a bare simmer, cover the pan, and cook over moderately low heat for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the chicken is tender.

Meanwhile, remove the porcini from their soaking liquid and squeeze them over the bowl to catch any remaining juices. Rinse the porcini to remove any sand or grit, then chop them.  Strain and reserve the soaking liquid.

In a large skillet, melt 2 T. of butter in 1 T of oil.  Add half the shiitake mushrooms and saute over moderately high heat for 2 minutes.  Add half the shallots, half the cremini, and half the portobellos and cook, tossing frequently, until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes.  Scrape the mushrooms into a bowl. 

Saute the remaining mushrooms to the pan.  Season with the remaining 1/2 t. tarragon, 1/2 t. salt, 1/8 t. pepper, the lemon juice and the cayenne. 

Add the chopped porcini and reserved soaking liquid to the skillet and boil, stirring, until the liquid is reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes. 

Scrape the mushrooms and liquid into the casserole and simmer for 10 minutes

Blend the cornstarch with the cream until smooth. 

Stir into the stew and simmer for 2 minutes. 

Garnish with the parsley and serve.

We served ours over rice and green beans.  There is lots of liquid with this stew, so you could also serve it with a crusty bread for soaking up the juices.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

John's Venison Marinade

John's Key Venison Marinade Ingredient

Our friend, John, is a very serious hunter and is equally serious about how his venison is cooked.  His venison tenderloin is SO good.  I interviewed him to find out how he does it.

John's Venison Marinade

brown sugar
Worcestershire sauce -- quite a bit
oil and vinegar
Montreal Steak seasoning by McCormick 
red pepper flakes

In the marinade - before grilling
He marinates the venison for two days, then grills it until it is rare to medium rare. (Don't over cook venison.)  He lets it rest.   Then, slices it across the grain and serves it on a platter. 

Delicious!  Doesn't taste game-y at all.  I could taste berries.  The marinade brings out the best in the meat.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

A is for Apple

A is for Apple
This week I have been painting still lifes of apples in my studio, so apples are on my mind. 

And so is Thanksgiving.  I have been starting to plan what we will make, including an apple pie.

So Many Choices

But I never can remember which apples are best for baking so I thought I'd do a little research and share it. 

Here's what I learned:  You want something that won't break down and turn to mush.  A mix of apples is best --a tart and sweet combo.

The biggest surprise I learned is that Red Delicious are unacceptable for baking.  Really?  Would the pie be that bad?  Some day I may try baking one, just  to see for myself. 

Left to Right:  Empire, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Cortland
So --- here's the mix I am considering:  Empire for its firmness, Golden Delicious for its sweetness, and Cortland or Granny Smith for their tartness.

FYI - I ran into a friend in the grocery store who was looking for Twenty Ounce apples for her pie.  Never heard of it, so I looked it up when I got home.   It is an heirloom variety with high ratings for pie.  So, if they show up in the store by Thanksgiving, I may try them, too.

Apples for Baking:

Golden Delicious
Granny Smith
Northern Spy
Twenty Ounce

Other options:
Wolf River
Ginger Gold

My favorite eating apple:  Honey Crisp
Apples for Eating Raw (in hand or on salads):

Honey Crisp (my fav! and I hear it is our niece, Elizabeth's, too)
Red Delicious
Pink Lady
Paula Red

Apples for Applesauce: 

Ida Red
Arkansas Black

If you have experience which could improve this list, please be sure to let me know.  I used apple growers and baking websites, but I'd rather have your opinions on what's best.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Fall Salad

Fall Salad:  A perfect mix of sweet and salty, creamy and crunchy
This is my new favorite salad:  baby spinach with a fall fruit (figs or small plums), creamy goat cheese, and salted almonds on top. I am hooked on this combination and have been making it for lunch -- a lot-- probably 4 times.  It is so good!

Fall Salad

2 cups baby spinach, washed and dried
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
1 - 1.5 ounces goat cheese
4 -6 small plums sliced (and pits removed), or 3 figs, sliced
salted almonds

Drizzle the spinach with a splash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Then salt and pepper well and toss together to coat all of the leaves. Scatter the fruit around and crumble the goat cheese on top. Sprinkle the salted almonds on the top.

The small plums I used were from a farm near Seneca lake, which ripen in the fall, and are about the size of large olives.  You can use figs or any fall fruit that is sweet and fleshy.  Just be sure your fruit has ripened well.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

A New Favorite: Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe by Tom

Reheating our new favorite pasta dish

Over the past week or so, we had many opportunities to try different pasta dishes, as we were in New York City for a visit prior to Superstorm Sandy's arrival.  We ate in mostly Italian restaurants and tasted many mostly tomato-based pasta dishes.  They were all good, but we were still looking for a non-tomato based pasta.  This one is it!

This recipe comes courtesy of the cookbook "Canning for a New Generation".  A rather seemingly odd place to find an interesting pasta recipe.  This recipe is very simple to make and very tasty.  The key to this recipe is the orecchiette pasta, which you want to prepare al dente.  Although the recipe calls for broccoli rabe, I think substituting broccoli would work just as well.

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage
(serves 4)

1 pound dried orecchiette pasta
Kosher salt - to taste
1 to 1 1/2 pound sweet Italian ground sausage
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic - roughly chopped
1 cup chicken stock
Generous pinch of red pepper flakes - I used about a tablespoonful
1 quart-size (16oz) fresh or frozen broccoli rabe, thawed if frozen
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Prepare the orecchiette pasta per the package instructions in a large pot of boiling water until almost al dente.  Once drained, it will go back into the large saute pan where the sausage and broccoli rabe is cooking, and the pasta will cook a little more to al dente.  That is why it is very important to not overboil the pasta.  Keep it truly just slightly less than al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add the sausage and with a wooden spatula or spoon, break up the sausage into little chunks.  Saute until lightly browned and cooked through - about 5 minutes.  If there is a lot of fat in the pan, drain off the excess fat.

Next add the olive oil and the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for another 5 minutes.  The garlic should be soft. 

Now add the chicken stock and scrape the bottom of the pan to bring up any browned bits.  Add the red pepper flakes and broccoli rabe.  Cover the pan and cook until the broccoli rabe is very tender.  This will take anywhere from 6-8 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Drain the orecchiette pasta, and then add the pasta to the large saute pan.  Toss to combine and cook until the orchiette is now al dente.

Serve the mixture on a pasta plate and sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese.

This is a good hearty meal.  Perfect for a cool fall day... after the ravages of Sandy had passed through.