Thursday, May 25, 2017

Blueberry Pistachio Muffins

I love almonds paired together with blueberries, and I sprinkle them on top of my yogurt in the morning mixed with some honey.

Sadly, I was out of almonds, and wanted to bake blueberry muffins.
What's a girl to do?

Use pistachios instead.

I have partnered with Setton Farms California Pistachios, and they are truly the BEST freshest pistachios I have ever had.
I have reordered them twice now, we are addicted.

These were even BETTER than my usual almond blueberry muffins, if you can imagine that.

This recipe makes 12 regular, normal human size muffins, however, I like the TEXAS big ass size, so I only get 8.
If making uber muffins, then increase baking time 10 minutes.

Blueberry Pistachio Muffins:

1 1/3 cups sugar
zest of a lemon
1 stick of butter, softened (8 tbsp)
2 eggs
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all together until light and creamy.

Now add in a bit at a time:

2 cups of flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Next, add in:

2/3 cup milk
1+ cup of blueberries


2 tbsp turbinado (raw) sugar
1/4 cup of finely chopped California Pistachios

Mix the wet ingredients together in a large bowl and slowly combine the flour, baking powder and salt.

Add in the milk and stir in the blueberries.

Using an ice cream scoop, measure out even scoops of batter into each muffin liner.

Sprinkle w/ raw sugar and chopped pistachios.

Bake 25 minutes in a 350F oven....or 35 minutes if making bigger muffins.

Let cool on rack....these are a neighbor and friend favorite!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Roasted Asparagus w/ Burrata & Brown Butter

This may sound odd to you, a salad with no oil, no vinegar, just browned butter and almonds?

Trust me, this is the best salad I have made in a long time.

I saw Nancy Silverton of Mozza Restaurant in California make an asparagus dish with the season's freshest spears (right now!) and a big ball of burrata in the middle.

She pressed down in the middle of the cheese and drizzled with browned butter and sliced almonds.
A bit of sea salt & pepper, that's all.

I was intrigued.

I seared a big bunch of New Jersey asparagus w/ olive oil and kosher salt. About 5 minutes in a skillet, that's it. You want it nice and crispy if it's fresh.

Lay the asparagus out on a platter and place a big ball of burrata (that milky, creamy mozzarella) in the center. Create a little well in the center of the ball w/ your finger or the back of a spoon.

Heat 2 tablespoons of butter on medium heat using the same skillet as you cooked the asparagus spears in, and add in some sliced almonds.
Cook until the butter is not burning, but just browning, about 3 minutes, it will smell very nutty, if that makes sense.

Immediately pour this mixture over the ball of cheese and asparagus spears. You can serve it now, or be like me, and add in roasted beets, arugula from my garden and a sliced avocado (only pour the butter on the burrata and asparagus....leave the rest naked).

This is one beautiful salad, and I shared it with a friend.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Crispy Smashed Potatoes w/ Herbed Yogurt

I love having fresh herbs in my garden pots. I use them everyday in something, even just simple scrambled eggs.

I think that's what makes my food taste so good (tooting my own horn).....fresh basil, parsley, chives, rosemary, oregano, sage.....I grow them all and love using them for the short summer season.

You have seen this recipe for smashed potatoes before, but here, you top them with this fabulous herb yogurt dressing, and now you have a fancy hors d'oeuvres. I just served them along side grilled salmon and asparagus for us. ;)

The recipe is from Andrea Bemis' new cookbook Dishing Up the Dirt. She and her husband are young farmers from the PNW, and her blog by the same name is wonderful. Mostly vegetarian recipes using the bounty that they grow on their working farm.

Crispy Smashed Potatoes w/ Herbed Yogurt Sauce: (adapted from Dishing Up the Dirt)

2 pounds small Yukon gold or new potatoes
1 cup plain full-fat yogurt (I use Fage 2% Greek yogurt)
2 tablespoons minced dill
2 tablespoons minced parsley
2 tablespoons chives, snipped
1 large clove of garlic minced
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
zest of a lemon
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil for the potatoes
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Boil the potatoes in salted water, about 20 minutes until soft.

While the potatoes are cooking, mix up the yogurt dressing with the herbs, lemon and honey, saving some of the fresh herbs for the tops at the end.

When the potatoes are fork tender, drain and let cook a few minutes.

Lay the potatoes on a baking sheet or cast iron skillet. With the palm of your hand, a fork or a masher, lightly smash the potatoes, without pressing down too hard. You will get the hang of it.

Drizzle the smashed potatoes with olive oil and season w/ sea salt.

I put mine under the broiler for 8 minutes, but you can also roast them for extra crispiness at 450F for 20 minutes.

Dot each potato crisp w/ the herbed yogurt and garnish with more fresh herbs.

You can serve these warm or at room temperature.

Delicious! Enjoy.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Asparagus Quinoa Salad

I go thru phases w/ food.

I eat kimchi everyday for a month, and then not for a while......same goes for avocado toast, it can be a daily thing, then I get on another kick, like cauliflower rice......

I haven't posted a quinoa recipe in a while, not sure why, I guess I just forgot about it....but I thought it was time to post a recipe with some spring asparagus before it's gone for the season.

Asparagus Quinoa Salad:

1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed and cut into pieces
1 cup of quinoa, cooked as per directions
handful of pitted kalamata olives, sliced
1/4 cup of slivered almonds, toasted
handful of fresh parsley, basil and chives (I use them all)
1/3 cup of feta cheese
kosher salt & pepper

1 tbsp of white balsamic or white wine vinegar
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp grainy mustard
4 tbsp olive oil

In a large nonstick skillet, heat some olive oil and sear the asparagus pieces about 5 minutes total.
You want them nice and crispy, especially if they are local and fresh.

Add the cooked quinoa, olives, seared asparagus and toasted nuts to a large bowl. Whisk up the dressing ingredients and pour over the warm salad.

Garnish with feta cheese and fresh herbs just before serving.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Strawberry Rhubarb Frangipane Tart

So this is what I did with my frozen rhubarb!

I made a tart with the frozen pieces, I didn't even bother to defrost them....I paired them with a few strawberries and frangipane, that yummy French almond filling that goes so well with berries and any fruit.

This is very simple to whip together, especially if you have a sheet of frozen puff pastry on hand, and it makes a gorgeous, delicious tart.

Here's how:

1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, defrosted
6 large strawberries, cut up or sliced
1/4 cup of sliced rhubarb
sliced almonds
turbinado sugar

1 cup of almond meal or ground almonds
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 tbsp flour
4 tbsp melted butter

I use an 8" square tart pan with removable bottom....but you can use any tart pan you like.

Make the frangipane by mixing the ingredients together in a bowl.

Roll out the defrosted puff pastry to fit the tart pan, and spread the frangipane with a silicone spatula to fill the pan.

Press the cut up fruit into the frangipane and dot w/ sliced almonds.
Sprinkle the top with turbinado sugar and bake for 30 minutes in a 350F oven.

Let cool 15 minutes in the pan before removing and cutting into squares.

Best served within 2 hours after baking.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Silver Palate's Chicken Marbella Updated

It's been a long time since the first printing of the Silver Palate Cookbook.

I was graduating from high school in 1982, and it was one of the first cookbooks I owned.
A large soft covered book filled with TONS of great photos, only drawings.

I loved this book back when I was 17, and every time I leaf thru it today, 35 years later, I still love it.

Their Chicken Marbella has to be the most popular recipe from this cookbook....I always made it on Rosh Hashanah and Passover, because you can make it ahead, and it's great for a crowd.

Well, I haven't made it since 2009! I have been busy with other newer, hipper, more in Vogue recipes to think about than old Chicken Marbella.

Here, I dumbed it down a bit, using boneless chicken can also use boneless, skinless thighs.

Prunes are a oregano like the original recipe says, instead use cilantro.....and you don't have to marinate it the night before, just 4 hours ahead is fine (of course the longer it sits in the marinade, the better it is).

This is the perfect weeknight dinner, and I know you will love it.
Don't skip the PRUNES please!

Updated Chicken Marbella:

4 boneless chicken breast halves (not thin ones), or 6 boneless, skinless thighs
3/4 cup of pitted prunes, halved
1/3 cup of Lucques or Picholine green olives (the ones w/ can use Manzanilla olives too)
big handful of chopped cilantro (don't skip it)
big handful of basil for garnish

4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup of chicken stock or white wine
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
kosher salt & pepper

couscous for serving

Whisk the marinade ingredients together and pour over chicken in a shallow baking pan.
Season w/ kosher salt & pepper.

Scatter the cilantro, prunes and olives on top and around the chicken.

Let marinate for minimum 4 hours or overnight.

Bake in a 350F oven for 30 minutes (make sure you are not using thin sliced chicken breasts or they will dry out).

Cook the couscous then transfer to a large platter. Plate the chicken on top of the couscous.
Spoon the sauce over the chicken and couscous.

Garnish w/ fresh basil leaves.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Skinny Shrimp & Avocado Stacks

Who isn't attracted to a recipe that has the word "skinny" in the title?

Not sure if being skinny is a good thing, how about a "thin" recipe. I like being thin. I haven't been skinny since 5th grade.

I have made this layered recipe before, but always used rice.

Marie used cauliflower rice, which was genius!
Then I could eat 2 portions, instead of just one!

But once you add in the sriracha mayo, it is no longer "skinny", but who cares? it tastes so damn good.

If you don't have a 1 cup metal mold, then you can layer these in jars instead, this way they will stay together better.

Skinny Shrimp & Avocado Stacks (inspired by Skinny Taste & Proud Italian Cook): makes 2 servings

1 ripe avocado
1 tbsp minced red onion
squeeze of fresh lime juice
sea salt

8-10 large shrimp, cooked and tails removed
a splash of soy sauce

1 small cucumber, cut up into small dice

1 cup of cauliflower rice (I buy it frozen in bags at Trader Joe's)
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

snipped chives
mayo mixed w/ sriracha (you be the judge of how spicy you like it)
furikake (a blend of Japanese sesame seeds & spices), or just plain sesame seeds

Start by making the guacamole. Mash the avocado w/ some minced onion, lime juice and sea salt. You can add whatever else you like in your guac. Set aside.

Defrost the frozen the cauliflower rice by heating it in a nonstick skillet for about 5 minutes, until all the liquid is gone. I cooked mine until it was golden.
Splash it with the rice wine vinegar while it is cooking in the pan.

Spread the cooked cauliflower rice onto a sheet pan to cool.

Boil the frozen shrimp 4 minutes (you can throw them right in the skillet from the freezer!). Remove tails and cut into small pieces.

Ok, now we can start layering.

You can use a biscuit cutter, ring mold, 1 cup stainless measuring cup or just use a drinking glass.

Layer as you wish.

I started with the cooled cauliflower rice on the bottom.
Then a layer of shrimp with a splash of soy sauce on top.

Next layer is the avocado mash, and last, top the avocado with the diced cucumber.

Carefully remove the ring mold, trying not the topple the tower over.

Serve w/ sriracha mayo and enjoy!


Monday, May 15, 2017

Spring Pizza with Asparagus & Peas

They're here!

NJ asparagus are finally available in the Garden State.

I've been cheating and using Mexican asparagus which has been very good, and California, when I can find it.
Beggars can't be choosers.

You can use this topping on any pizza crust you like, but I love it on Naan bread.

I buy packages of Indian Naan bread. I love them for easy lunches or quick dinners, and they make the best flat bread pizzas.

Here I spread some of that delicious pea pesto (recipe here) over the Naan.
Then I piled some sliced NJ asparagus, fresh mozzarella, speck (smoked prosciutto from Italy) and some peas on top.

Bake or toast in the toaster oven for about 10 minutes until cheese is bubbling.

A sprinkle of sea salt & pepper and a drizzle of my good olive oil......and if you have some fresh herbs.....throw them on too.


Lunch is served. Take a slice.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Rhubarb Upside Down Spice Cake

Since my rhubarb plant is too young to harvest (you have to wait 2 years before you harvest the stalks), I am at the mercy of my farmers market, waiting for this bitter weedy stalk to come in.

Rhubarb is the darling of spring...the first sign here in NJ that produce is really going to happen.

It's a showy pretty thing....these bright pink, green and ruby red stalks....enticing you to buy them.

However, don't eat them raw, they taste awful....and they are not so great cooked either, most people like to pair them with strawberries.
The leaves are poisonous if you consume them, so don't eat them!

I bake one thing a season with rhubarb, because I feel obligated to do so (good food blogger that I am).

So far, this cake wins the prize for my favorite cake using strawberries necessary.

Please use a well seasoned cast iron skillet for this recipe, you can't go wrong. I never have a problem flipping cakes out of the pan. Perfection every time.


Rhubarb Upside Down Cake: (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

For the Caramel Upside Down Topping:

1 pound rhubarb, trimmed (about 8 stalks, leaves discarded....they are POISONOUS if consumed)
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
grated zest of a lemon
4 tablespoons (2 ounces or 55 grams) unsalted butter
pinch of salt

Cake Batter:

6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup (125 grams) light or dark brown sugar
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
a pinch of nutmeg
1/2 cup (120 ml) buttermilk (I used 2% milk mixed w/ 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice)
1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour
chopped pistachios for the topping

Preheat oven to 350F.

Trim the rhubarb stalks to fit into a 9" cast iron skillet. Practice this first, so you are not surprised when the stalks don't fit. If the stalks are fat, then cut them in half. You can do this in any pattern you like, but keeping them long looks prettiest.

Mix up the cake batter in a large bowl and set aside.

Make the caramel topping by adding the sugar, butter and lemon zest to the pan. Heat on high and keep stirring w/ a silicone spatula until the granulated sugar is melting into the butter and turning golden, about 3-4 minutes.

Now arrange the rhubarb stalks on top of the caramel and cook the rhubarb without moving them for 2-3 minutes....don't panic, there will be a lot of liquid in the pan, this is a good thing.

Turn off the heat and carefully spoon the batter over the rhubarb and caramel.

Place in the preheated oven and bake 35 minutes.

Carefully remove from the oven and let rest only 5 minutes (or the caramel will harden and it will be difficult to flip).

Run a knife around the edges and place a large plate over the skillet and invert. The cake should come out easily.
(The cast iron is hot and heavy, so be careful, make sure you are using 2 heavy pot holders).

If some of the fruit sticks to the skillet, just put it back on and press it into the cake (this did not happen, but sometimes does w/ upside down cakes).

While the cake is still warm, scatter some chopped pistachios over the top and press lightly into the fruit.

Let cool and serve w/ vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

I love when a recipe comes out better than expected.
This cake was really fantastic!

I hope you try it.