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.