Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Cod Cakes with Remoulade Sauce


Am I the only person who loved Mrs. Paul's Fish Sticks as a kid?

I couldn't wait for my parents to go out, so the babysitter could make them for us!

Everyone needs a good fish cake in their life!

My salmon cakes are the bomb, and there is no better recipe (so I have been told!).
But I don't always want salmon....sometimes I want a nice piece of cod.

These are so easy to put together, and are kid friendly too.

You can make the fish cake batter and keep it in the fridge to fry up later.....same with this perfect remoulade sauce.

I think a simple salad would be best with these babies, or maybe some homemade cole slaw, but that's it.
Don't get too fancy.

Here's the recipe from The Splendid Table:

1 small yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 pound cod or other whitefish, skin removed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons melted butter, plus 1 tablespoon for frying
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Remoulade Sauce:

1/2 cup mayonnaise (Hellmann's always!)
1/4 cup minced dill pickle
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives or scallions
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon
1/2 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard (I used tarragon mustard!)
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper

Make the remoulade sauce and keep in the fridge covered for a few hours to chill.


Process the onion finely in the bowl of a food processor. Add the fish, dill, parsley, flour, egg, 2 tablespoons of melted butter, salt, and pepper and pulse until ground medium fine.


Transfer the mixture to a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.


Shape the fish mixture into 8-10 patties. Set them on parchment paper.

Heat the oil and the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in a heavy, wide skillet over medium heat. When the butter begins to foam, add the fish cakes and cook for about 5 minutes on each side. I did this in 2 batches, and needed to add more oil.


Blot on paper towels and serve with the remoulade sauce on the side.

I loved these better for breakfast the next morning with a crispy egg.


So easy!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Weeknight Meal: Baked Chicken w/ Lemon & Potatoes


Let's get back to the basics.

I know many of you readers tune in only to get inspired for dinner ideas.

Here's an oldie, but goodie.

I rarely buy a whole chicken cut up, because I am one of those weirdos who LOVES breaking down a chicken herself.

There is something very satisfying (for me anyway) cutting up a chicken into parts, feeling your knife go thru the proper spots as if you were a butcher.
It takes practice, but I can butterfly a bird like nobody's business (but I still can't perfectly filet a fish!).

Growing up, my mother used to kill the bird twice.

She baked it for 2 hours at 375F until there was nothing left in your mouth but the taste of ketchup (used to help swallow the dried chicken down).

You may think me mean, but I am honest.

I only started buying chicken parts again, because sometimes you just want a leg.

You will LOVE this simple dinner, and if you are doing Whole 30 (which I am not), feel free to sub in sweet potato chunks.
Add in carrots or parsnips.......whatever you like.

This is super moist and a great family meal.



Baked Chicken with Lemons & Rosemary:


8 pieces of chicken (I use thighs and breasts), skin on, bone in
1 lb smallest red potatoes (if they are big, you can cut into chunks, but I keep them whole)
1 onion, cut into chunks
2 lemons 1 sliced, 1 juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh rosemary
crushed red pepper flakes
kosher salt & pepper

In a small bowl, mix the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and rosemary together.

Lay the chicken with onion and potatoes in a 13 x 9 baking dish (I don't use glass because the oven temp is 400F...too hot).

Pour the marinade over the ingredients in the pan.


Sprinkle everything liberally with kosher salt, pepper and hot pepper flakes (I like a little heat).

Bake at 400F for 1 hour, uncovered.

Enjoy!


This is a no dry chicken zone.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

MARIE-HÉLÈNE’S Apple Cake


I am sorry that I am still posting cakes in the new year.

I am not on a January resolution diet that is doomed to fail (for me, anyway).

I eat healthy most days, so a piece of cake is never going to hurt me.

Moderation is the key to most everything in life.

I don't know who Marie-Hélène is......but I have been seeing her cake on blogs since 2012, so why not start the new year with this beautiful cake!

It's a beautiful simple French apple cake and I am a new fan.

I don't have rum, I never liked it much.....so I saw another blogger that substituted the lovely French fleur l'orange (orange flower water) for the rum, and I since I had a bottle, I used that.

Loved.

I don't usually peel my apples, it makes for a much prettier and more rustic cake, especially when using different varieties of apples.

I used local Golden Delicious and Empire apples for my cake.


Marie-Hélène's French Apple Cake: (original recipe from Dorie Greenspan)

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
4 large apples (use different varieties), diced
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 teaspoons orange blossom water (fleur de l'orange) or rum
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled (1 stick)

It's pretty simple. No rocket science going on here.

Mix the butter, eggs, vanilla, rum and sugar in a large bowl until pale yellow.

Slowly add in the flour and baking powder and fold in the diced apples last with a rubber spatula.
It won't look like much batter, but it will bake up fine.


I line my 9" springform pan with parchment paper, and also butter it liberally.

Smooth the batter into the prepared cake pan.

My cake needed 50 minutes at 350F. Times vary from 45-60 depending on your oven.

Let rest 10 minutes in pan, then run a knife around the sides, so it loosens up any stuck apples.

I ate this warm and loved it.

It is also good room temp.

Don't cover this cake, or it will get mushy. I kept it in the cold garage with a piece of parchment paper draped over it.
It didn't last very long for us to worry about it.


Have a slice of cake. It makes life much sweeter.

Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Roasted Squash with Quinoa & Date Syrup


I love Nigel Slater.
He is one of Great Britain's treasures.

He writes a weekly food column in their paper The Guardian and I always read it.

His book TENDER is beautiful, if you love vegetables (and heavy cream! because most of his recipes use it!) it's a must.

Here is a simple "pumpkin" quinoa salad.

Nigel uses sugar pumpkin, but you can use any squash you like, butternut, delicata or kabocha.

The dressing is lovely and is made with Date Syrup, a natural sweetener made from only dates.
I am loving this stuff and drizzling it on everything.


You can order it here.

Nigel serves this on couscous which is nice too.....but I had some cooked quinoa ready and waiting, so used that!

This is a nice, healthy wintery dish that is hearty enough for a main dish.

Roasted Squash on Quinoa w/ Date Syrup: (adapted from The Guardian)

pumpkin or any winter squash, sliced or diced
olive oil & Kosher salt
1 tbsp smoked paprika (pimenton)

1 cup of cooked couscous or quinoa
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
bunch of scallions, chopped

For the dressing:

4 tsp date syrup
4 tbsp olive oil
juice of half a lemon
1 tsp grainy mustard

Mix up dressing ingredients and set aside.

Season the squash slices with olive oil, smoked paprika and kosher salt.
Roast on a parchment lined baking sheet at 400F for 25 minutes, turning once.

Remove from oven and plate on a bed of couscous or quinoa and drizzle w/ some of the dressing.
Add in scallions (cilantro is also great on this).


So good.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Complaining Winter Random Bites

Warning:
This post contains mostly complaining.

Is it almost spring yet?

I feel a little nuts stuck inside with this long stretch of cold weather.

It's my least favorite season here in NJ.....winter (in case you haven't noticed).

Cold, grey days and nothing growing in the garden.
No fresh herbs in my pots and no local produce in sight.

My rosemary bush died in these freezing temps and I actually had to BUY rosemary yesterday for the first time in years.

15F degrees is not for me.

I know everyone on instagram thinks the snow is so pretty.....but I don't ski, and I shovel my own walks and driveway, so I am mostly miserable.

My skin is dry, my hair is flyaway and I miss being tan.

The older I get, the more I hate it. I see why old farts move to Florida and Arizona, at least for the winter.

I live in the Northeast, so I guess the only thing to do is travel somewhere warm and drink a lot of wine.
(no wonder alcoholism is so rampant in Alaska and Russia).

You might want to click out now, so I don't bring you down any more.

So what's a girl to do?
I make the most of the season by going out to dinner a lot ;)

Bundle up warm and take day trips to NYC and fun places to keep my spirits up and maybe a trip to Miami if I am lucky.


Some local NJ restaurant bites:

We tried the beautiful new biergarten in Jersey City HUDSON HALL.

What a great space and even better food, with a real chef turning out amazing short rib goulash and the best hot pretzel I have ever had.


Truth.


and I loved the roasted cauliflower with apples! This place has great cocktails too, so if you are not a beer lover, there are plenty of options.


I make a lot of stews and soups during the hibernation months.
One for me, one for the freezer.


I made this delicious chicken artichoke soup with some leftover thighs. The original recipe is for a slowcooker (which I don't have).....so I adapted it for my Le Creuset Dutch oven. Pretty simple. So good.


I also do a lot of baking in the winter (as you know by now).

I made a delicious Normandy Apple Cake from Sophie Dudemaine's Sweet & Savory Loaves.


Really nice with the creme fraiche and Calvados.


and I must have a vitamin deficiency, because I CRAVE spinach in the winter.


I must have it everyday.....usually in eggs, but sometimes in this salad w/ citrus and feta from Nigel Slater's beautiful book TENDER.

I also made this beautiful spinach and artichoke frittata with chorizo and mozzarella....it's my new favorite.


Ok, this girl will stop bitching now.

52 days till spring.

Stay warm.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Sweet Potato, Avocado & Quinoa Timbales

I have to step up my cooking game......meaning, stop baking cakes and start getting serious.
Posting more blog worthy recipes, like a good food blogger should.

;)

Remember I used to post 6 recipes a week? I guess I had a lot of free time, because writing out the recipes, photographing the food in daylight, downloading pics and posting takes too many hours.

I have downgraded to 3 posts per week, 2 recipes and one dessert.

Less is more, so they say.

But I am going to try and be a better blogger in 2018 and post more artful recipes.

Here is a healthy and blog worthy recipe.

This was actually easy! I promise. It looks beautiful and tastes beautiful too.

I cheated and used my baked potato setting on my microwave for the sweet potato and it worked out fine!

The original recipe tells you to grease the ramekins with coconut oil. Wow. They came out of the molds like a charm.
Great idea.

I made a quinoa salad with cilantro, red onion, scallions and lime juice, and served this all warm right out of the molds.

Topped with cilantro chutney that I received as a gift for Christmas......

Sweet Potato, Avocado & Quinoa Timbales (loosely adapted from this recipe):

1 large sweet potato, baked and cooled (remove skins after baking), cut into dice
2 tsp. coconut oil
fresh chopped basil or cilantro
handful of scallions, sliced
1 tbsp minced red onion
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup quinoa, cooked
1 tbsp. lime juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large ripe avocado, cubed
1 large handful of organic sprouts or dollop of pesto for the top
2 (8oz) ramekin dishes

Grease your ramekins liberally with the coconut oil. I used my hands, but you can melt it and brush it on.

Layer one half of the cubed sweet potato in each ramekin. Pushing down with a fork to mash a bit to compact it.

Next layer a half an avocado (cubed) on top of the sweet potato. Sprinkle w/ pinch of sea or kosher salt.

Mix the cooked quinoa with the scallions, herbs, red onion, lime juice and olive oil. Season with salt & pepper.

Layer half the quinoa mixture on top of the avocado in the ramekins and press down with as spoon to make everything nice and tight.


I guess you can save these for later, but I unmolded right away, while everything was still warm.

They came out of the ramekins perfectly.

Now decorate the top with some fresh herbs, sprouts or a dollop of pesto.

So good!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Broccoli Fennel & Bean Soup with lots of possibilities......


Since it is winter, let's talk soup today.
It's been unusually cold outside, below 20F these last few days, so soup is all I really want.

Homemade soup is the best, especially if you have homemade chicken or turkey stock.....but I never frown upon using a good box of broth (I prefer Swanson's 33% less sodium Natural Chicken Broth).

This recipe is a basic guideline. The ingredients are all interchangeable.

You can use an onion, leeks, or fennel or all of the above......

Swap in fresh thyme for the rosemary if you like.......

I have made this with cannellini beans and with chickpeas........either or.

I use 2 slices of chopped speck (which is smoked prosciutto), but regular bacon is fine too.....or some leftover ham.

The only thing you must use is the BROCCOLI.....it is a broccoli soup!

The key to this soup is pureeing half the solids, to make it rich and creamy without the addition of cream or milk.

And my secret weapon to making soups even more delicious is my arsenal of Parmesan cheese rinds!
I keep a stash in the freezer and take out a small piece whenever I am making a broth type of soup like this.

Once you know how to make this soup, the possibilities are endless.

Broccoli Fennel & Bean Soup:

1 head of broccoli, cut into small florets
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, cut into chunks
1 head of fennel, sliced and cut into same size pieces as the onion
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 slices of speck or bacon, chopped
1 can of chickpeas or white beans, drained and rinsed
1 sprig of fresh rosemary (you can use thyme)
5 cups of chicken broth
leftover rinds of Parmigiano Reggiano
hot pepper flakes

In a large Dutch oven (I love my Le Creuset pots the best), heat some olive oil and butter on medium heat.
Add the bacon, onions, fennel and garlic until softened and pork is cooked.


Add in the broccoli and hot pepper flakes and cook another minute.

Add in the stock, cheese rind, chickpeas or beans and fresh herbs.

Simmer for about 20 minutes, until the broccoli is soft.

When the soup is cool enough to handle, transfer about half the solids (with some broth) to another pot or bowl.
With an immersion blender (hand held stick blender....best thing ever invented), blend the solids, then transfer back into the big pot of soup.

I don't season with salt & pepper, because in my opinion, there is enough flavor from the pork and the cheese rind. But go ahead and taste the soup, and season to your liking.

I sometimes splash a small amount of red wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice just before serving.


Enjoy!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Schiacciata alla Fiorentina (Italian Sponge Cake)


This has been a year of cakes for Stacey Snacks.

I used to claim that I didn't like to bake.
My how things have changed.


I found that I LOVE to bake! It's like therapy.

It is relaxing and calming, and I no longer believe that baking is a science, you can improvise (not too much, but some) and change ingredients.

Use your instincts (if they are good!).

I have done very well with substituting 1/2 cup of almond flour for regular flour; I have tried using different sugars and swapping or adding in nuts or fruits; all with very good results.

Here is one last cake for the year.

This one is a good one.

I was definitely Italian in another life.
My Italian is better than my French, the language just seems natural to me.

I love Italian food more than any other cuisine, and Italian pastries make me quiver.

I am crazy for pasta, and recipes from the North are my favorite.

Then what took me so long to make this simple Italian sponge cake called "Schiacciata alla Fiorentina"?

It is a sponge cake made during the fall months for the grape or olive harvests in the North....and all the proper Tuscan chefs use olive oil from Tuscany in this recipe (I cheated and used Sicilian olive oil! shhhhhh!).

I cut out a fleur de lis (which is customary decoration for this cake) from a stencil I downloaded online, and I managed to screw it up while dusting my cake w/ powdered sugar.


So.....I "made it nice" and repaired it by making an indentation with my squirrel cookie cutter. Ok. All fixed.

This is moist and fragrant from the orange zest. We loved it.

I drizzled those wonderful Amarena cherries over it with some syrup to make this a dinner party worthy dessert.

I will put it in the rotation.

Schiacciata alla Fiorentina (adapted from 196 Flavors):

2 1/2 cups flour, sifted
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 large organic orange + zest, at room temperature
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 vanilla bean, cut lengthwise and seeds scraped (or 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract)
confectioner's sugar for the top

Whisk eggs, sugar and vanilla.

Add orange zest and olive oil, and continue beating, at low speed (I did this all by hand).

Add in the milk and orange juice and beat for another minute.

Mix the baking powder and flour, and gradually incorporate them with a spatula, adding one spoon at a time and making sure they are entirely absorbed before adding the next spoon.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Butter and flour the bottom and all the sides of a 10×8 inch pan. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, check if the cake is baked by inserting a toothpick.

Unmold and let the cake cool on a wire rack.

Sprinkle icing sugar over the entire surface. Create a fleur-de-lis stencil, put it on the cake and sprinkle cocoa powder (or do your own thing like I did!).

Gently lift the stencil so that no cocoa powder spills onto the icing sugar (yeah, good luck with that).


Cut into squares and serve.

I hope you have a happy, healthy and SWEET new year!

Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Roasted Green Beans & Chickpeas w/ Harissa and Feta


I loved these green beans so much I could marry them.

They are the BEST!

I didn't expect much out of such a simple recipe, but wow!

If you are not familiar with harissa paste....get acquainted.

It is a chili pepper paste made in Tunisia from red peppers and other spices. Each blend is unique.
A little goes a long way.

It is very popular in Moroccan cuisine and in every grocery store in France. I always bring a tube of it back from Paris.

You can mail order it here on amazon.

This recipe is a great side dish for a party, and though tasted best warm out of the oven, it was still great at room temperature.

I adapted the recipe from Floating Kitchen, adding a bit more olive oil, longer cooking temperature and swapped pimenton (smoked paprika) for regular paprika.


Roasted Green Beans & Chickpeas w/ Harissa and Feta:

For the Chickpeas:

1 (16 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. smoked Spanish paprika (pimenton)

For the Green Beans:

1 tablespoon harissa paste
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
12 ounces green beans, trimmed
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Pre-heat your oven to 400F degrees.

Spread the chickpeas out on a paper towel. Then use another paper towel to pat them completely dry.

In a medium bowl, combine the olive oil, salt, cumin and paprika. Add the dried chickpeas and toss until they are well coated. Spread the chickpeas out onto a rimmed baking sheet. Then transfer them to your pre-heated oven to roast for 25 minutes, stirring once halfway through cooking time. Remove the chickpeas from the oven and set them aside.


Meanwhile, prepare the green beans. In a large bowl, combine the harissa paste and the olive oil. Add the green beans and toss them to coat.


Spread the green beans out onto a second rimmed baking sheet and transfer them to your pre-heated oven. Roast for 10 minutes. Then remove them from the oven and set aside.

To serve, arrange the green beans on a serving plate.


Top with the chickpeas and the feta cheese.

These are best served right away, while nice and warm.