Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Sweet Potatoes w/ Roasted Chickpeas & Yogurt Sauce

This is a simple, delicious vegetarian meal, which is very filling believe it or not!

It's all about the spices has a very "Ottolenghi feel" to it.....I used z'atar and harissa, both available at Middle Eastern markets....and I used pimenton (smoked Spanish paprika) on the chickpeas.

The yogurt sauce has a bite, but cools everything down....sprinkled w/ fresh herbs from the garden.
Even the husband liked this one.

Sweet Potatoes w/ Roasted Chickpeas & Yogurt Sauce: serves 4
2 sweet potatoes, cut in half, horizontally
olive oil
kosher salt
fresh cilantro

Roasted Chickpeas:
1 can of Goya chickpeas, rinsed and drained
smoked Spanish paprika (pimenton)
kosher salt
olive oil

Yogurt Sauce:
small container of plain Greek yogurt
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic
dab of harissa paste
z'atar (a middle Eastern spice of sesame seeds, sumac & thyme)
sea salt

Make the yogurt sauce and keep in the fridge until ready to use.

In a baking dish, lay the sweet potato halves and rub them all over with olive oil.
Sprinkle w/ kosher salt.
Roast in a 400F oven for 45 minutes.

On a large baking sheet, lay out the drained chickpeas and drizzle w/ olive oil and kosher salt.
Sprinkle all over with the pimenton.

Roast in the same 400F oven for 20-30 minutes until crispy, but not charred.

When the potatoes are done, mash down a bit with a fork to create a well.

Add in some of the yogurt sauce and top w/ the roasted chickpeas.

Top w/ fresh cilantro and serve.

Best eaten warm, but we snacked on these the next day and they were still delicious!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Memorial Day Random Bites

As if you needed another recipe for Caprese Salad.

I don't have any Jersey tomatoes yet, but I can find decent hot house varieties.

There is nothing new going on here, except the way I arranged the salad.

I used an antique ironstone compote, and overlapped the fresh mozzarella and sliced tomatoes.

Tuck in a basil leaf here and there and season w/ the best sea salt & pepper.

Drizzle w/ some good olive oil just before serving.
And if you want, a drizzle of balsamic syrup works very nicely.

You may have seen these already on my instagram page.

A cool idea to cut hotdogs into spirals.

I am a spaz, so couldn't do it, but my husband was able to follow the directions in the Food & Wine June issue to create these delicious crispy spiral wieners.

Everyone oohed and aahed over Hebrew National.

They were fun!

I am loving Marcella Hazan's recipe for deviled eggs.

The queen of Italian cooking used chopped anchovies, caper, garlic and fresh parsley, and combined some Dijon mustard and olive oil (I added in some mayo of course).

Topped with a red pepper piece. These were delicious. My new favorite.

I did a lot of cooking and eating this weekend.......back to quinoa salads.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Strawberry Lavender Cake

I love baked goods made with herbs from my garden.

Last year I made this strawberry basil cake with candied basil and basil cream, it was so good.....but I wanted to use lavender this time.

I have so many lavender plants in my garden, it was time I tried using some in baking.

First let me say, my lavender is organic, meaning, I do not spray it with pesticides (it doesn't need any), it winters over in my window wells, and I have had it for 8 years......therefore, "organic" and safe for cooking, in my book.

DO NOT use dried lavender from a craft store like Michael's, which is basically potpourri, and has lavender oil in it. Toxic.

I like to use Munstead variety, which is English lavender, but I also love the scent of Anouk, which some call butterfly or Spanish lavender. Some people spell lavendAR this way, but I think they are wrong.

This is a simple cake, and we loved it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

I baked it in a 9" cast iron skillet for a nice rustic look.

I will not be mad at you if you skip the lavender, then it will just be a strawberry cake. :)

Strawberry Lavender Cake:

1 cup sugar
zest of a lemon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the skillet
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp lavender leaves (dried or fresh from an organic plant, preferably Munstead variety), chopped
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved
2 tablespoons turbinado (raw) sugar (for the top)

It's pretty simple.

Grease a 9" pie plate or cast iron skillet.
Preheat oven to 325F.

Mix the sugar, with zest, butter, eggs, milk and vanilla.

Add in the lavender leaves and the dry ingredients.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and sprinkle w/ turbinado sugar.

Bake 40-50 minutes until puffed.

Let cool and serve.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Spring Potato Salad w/ Chive Blossoms & Herbs

The only thing I have flourishing in my garden at this point are herbs and some lacinato kale.

They grow quickly, and I keep them in pots on my driveway, starting in April.

The chives are my favorite, and they come back every year, you never need to plant them again. They die back in the winter, but as soon as spring arrives, they start popping up their pretty heads.

You know how much I love using chive blossoms in recipes.
They are beautiful as a garnish, but are also edible, just like the stems.

I made my annual batch of chive blossom vinegar over the weekend.

Just add the blossoms to a jar w/ your favorite white vinegar and let sit a few weeks in a dark spot in your pantry. When you remember to take it out, you should have a nice pink, fragrant vinegar for salad dressings. I love it.

This potato salad recipe is a no brainer.

Just cut up a bunch of fresh herbs and place in a bowl.
I used parsley, basil, rosemary, chive blossoms and scallions.

In a small bowl, mix a tablespoon of grainy French mustard, and a tablespoon of honey.

Pour in about 3 tablespoons of your favorite vinegar (champagne or chive vinegar is what I use), a pinch of sea salt & pepper. Drizzle in some olive oil to make a dressing. Whisk with a fork.

Boil some red potatoes, and slice into thin slices, leaving the skins on.

While the potatoes are still warm, pour the dressing over the potatoes and herbs in the bowl. Lightly toss just to combine.

This is so delicious served with my cedar plank salmon (recipe here).


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tuesday Tart: Zucchini & Leek w/ Gruyere & Olive Oil Crust

Here is the easiest tart or quiche crust you will ever make.

It is from Clotilde at Chocolate & Zucchini (one of the first food bloggers in 2006).

It is foolproof, and there is no mess or blind baking w/ pie weights.
Easy peasy.

You can add any quiche filling you like.

Here I sauteed 2 grated zucchinis with 2 leeks in some olive oil and butter.

I love a good Gruyere, but have you noticed it smells up the kitchen when you bake with it?
P.U. (what does that stand for anyway?).

Zucchini & Leek Quiche w/ Olive Oil Crust:

for the crust:

250 grams (8.8 ounces, a little more than a cup) of light whole wheat flour, or a 50/50 mix of all-purpose and whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon dried herbs (I used dried dill but rosemary is good too)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp ice water

Mix the flour w/ the salt & herbs in a bowl.

In a measuring cup, add the water and olive oil together. Mix with a fork until it becomes thick and emulsified.

Pour into the flour and mix w/ a fork until it become a ball of dough.

You can press the dough into an 8" pie or tart pan, but I rolled my dough out so it fitted nicely into my pan.

Keep the dough chilled until ready to use (cover it if you are making it ahead or it will dry out).

Make the filling:

2 zucchini, grated and drained in a colander (squeeze out the moisture)
2 fat leeks, sliced
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
kosher salt & pepper
handful of fresh dill
1 egg, plus 2 egg yolks
1/3 cup of heavy cream or half & half
1/2 cup of grated Gruyere cheese
Dijon mustard for the bottom of the crust

Saute the leeks and zucchini in the butter and olive oil until leeks are wilted. Season w/ kosher salt.
Let cool.

Spread some Dijon mustard on the bottom of the pastry crust with a silicone spatula.

When mixture is cool, spoon into the tart pan.

Whisk the eggs, cream and Gruyere and season w/ a pinch of salt & pepper.
Pour over the zucchini and leek mixture in the pan.

Bake in a 375F oven for 25-30 minutes until quiche is puffed and golden.

Let rest 10 minutes in the pan and remove tart pan ring.

This will be your new method to bake tart dough! So easy and delicious.

Monday, May 18, 2015

hashtag #instasalads Cucumber & Lentil w/ Feta & Dill

It seems that social media has taken over my life.

I have a food blog, I post on facebook, I am on instagram constantly.....thankfully, I do not "tweet".

All this social media takes up a lot of time.

Somedays I feel pressured to get a great recipe together, then take the photos, then instagram the pic to tease you, then write out the actual recipe and get the post together to publish.

If you have noticed, I only post 4 days a week now, instead of 5. After 7 years, it's just too much.
It is very time consuming, and mostly, a thankless job. I hope I never run out of ideas!!

I post my lunch (or Henry's lunchbox) everyday on instagram, hashtag #Henry's Lunchbox, and #instasalads.

Here is one of my insta salads, that takes no time to put together, especially if you use a can of Goya lentils!

Insta Salad: Cucumber & Lentil w/ Feta & Dill:

1 can of Goya lentils, rinsed and drained (I swear, they are so good)
1 large cucumber, sliced on a mandolin, lengthwise
spring mesclun salad mix
1/4 red onion, shaved thin
handful of dill
handful of crumbled feta cheese
splash of white balsamic vinegar
zest of a lemon
olive oil
sea salt & pepper

Mix all ingredients lightly together and drizzle w/ the oil and vinegar.
Sprinkle the feta cheese on last.

This salad is best served right away, or the cukes get soggy!

hashtag #delicioushealthy!


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Blueberry Almond Cake Ring

I usually stick with blueberry muffins during booberry season (best recipe here), but decided to try out my new Simax glass cake pan, so I baked a cake instead (what else is new?).

Once you go glass, you will never go back......this is test tube quality glass, not Pyrex thickness.
There is something magical about this pan.
The cake baked up perfectly, with just the right amount of crumb ratio to cake moistness, and no sticking!

I am trying to dump all of my non-stick chemically coated pans (not that I had many to begin with).

This recipe is my own, made up on the fly, and I am very pleased with myself, if I do say so.

I made a buttermilk mixture with yogurt, whole milk and lemon juice, so do your own thing, either yogurt or buttermilk, or both. I like to confuse you.

Blueberry Almond Cake Ring:

1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup almond meal (ground almonds)
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup olive oil
3 eggs
1/2 tsp almond extract
zest of a lemon
1 cup of buttermilk or plain Greek yogurt (I mixed them both!)
small container of blueberries

Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix dry ingredients together, then wet......basic cake instructions.

Add in blueberries, being careful not to break them in the batter.

Grease a loaf pan or ring cake pan (I used a glass pan here) with a lot of butter.
Pour batter in and bake about 40-50 minutes until puffed and golden.

Let rest in pan 10 minutes before unmolding.

I made an icing with confectioners sugar, almonds, a tbsp of milk and some lemon juice.

This is one beautiful springtime cake!


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Grilled Swordfish w/ Meyer Lemon Relish

I have always loved the Sunday Suppers at Lucques cookbook, it's been a favorite for years.

Though the recipes seem complicated and time consuming, I can always modify them to make them simpler, using what I have on hand.

Here is such a recipe.

The original recipe is for halibut, but I used swordfish instead (on sale at my market this week).

Also, the recipe calls for Lucques green olives, which are impossible to find here. None of my markets sell them, so I substituted kalamata olives, which are saltier, but they worked well in the relish.

Use red onion if you don't have shallots, and cider vinegar if you don't have champagne vinegar.

See how easy I am today?

However, before you ask, the answer is no, you may not substitute regular lemons for the Meyer lemons.
They will be too astringent, since you are using the rind, peel and pulp of the lemon, and the Meyers are much sweeter and the title of the recipe is for "Meyer Lemon" relish.

I was eating this right out of the jar, my husband said it tasted like lemon candy.

What else can I use this condiment with?

Grilled Swordfish w/ Meyer Lemon Relish: (adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques)

2 tbsp shallots or red onion, diced fine
1 1/2 tbsp of champagne or cider vinegar
2 Meyer lemons
3/4 cup green olives, pitted and chopped (Lucques would be best, but kalamata were great for me)
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
* 1 Serrano pepper, diced fine (optional), or hot pepper flakes

Place shallot or onion, vinegar and a pinch of salt in a bowl and let stand while you prepare remaining ingredients. (This will acidulate the shallots and takes off the edge).

Slice the stem and blossom ends from the Meyer lemons. Stand the lemons on one end and cut them vertically into 1/8 inch slices. Stack the slices and cut them lengthwise into 1/8 inch matchsticks. Line up the matchsticks and cut them into 1/8 inch cubes.

Add the diced lemon to the shallot. Add the olives, honey, parsley, chile pepper (if using) and a large pinch of salt and pepper. Stir in olive oil and taste for seasoning.

Keep in the fridge until ready to use.

Season the fish steaks with olive oil, kosher salt & pepper.

Heat a ridged grill pan and cook the steaks for 3-4 minutes on each side, depending on thickness (if using swordfish....if using halibut cook 6 minutes on each side).

Remove the fish from the pan and place on serving plates. Spoon the Meyer lemon relish over the top and enjoy!

I think next time I will try the relish w/ fish tacos.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Vegetable Toad in the Hole

The classic English "toad in the hole" uses bangers, or sausages, then pour an eggy batter over them and bake until puffed. Think Yorkshire pudding w/ sausages.

Here, Food & Wine had a vegetarian version using green beans, carrots and cherry tomatoes.

I was intrigued! and knew this would be on my menu.

Instead of the carrots and beans, I used the leftover sauteed broccolini from last night with the onions and cherry tomatoes. This is a great idea for using leftover cooked vegetables.

For some reason, mine did not puff up as much as I would have liked, however, this was oh so yummy.

Sort of a cross between a pancake and a frittata.

Use whatever vegetables you like, but don't skip the little tomatoes and onion, they become caramelized and roasted and give this breakfast dish a wonderful flavor.

Vegetarian Toad in the Hole: (adapted from Food & Wine)

2 large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp whole-grain mustard
2 tbsp vegetable oil
sea salt
2 small carrots, steamed or roasted (I used cooked broccolini from last night)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 ounces haricots verts or thin green beans
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp finely chopped basil (I didn't use)
1/2 tsp finely chopped thyme
1/2 tsp rosemary, chopped

Beat the eggs with the milk, flour, mustard, 1 tablespoon of the oil and a generous pinch of salt. Let the batter stand for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Add a tablespoon of oil to a 9-inch-square baking pan and heat in the oven for 10 minutes.
 Be careful when you remove the pan, it is hot.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the onion, garlic and a generous pinch of salt and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until the onion just starts to soften, about 3 minutes.

Add the green beans (or whatever vegetable you are using) and cook, stirring, until the onion is lightly browned and the beans are just softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the cooked carrots, tomatoes, basil, thyme, rosemary and cook, stirring, until hot, about 1 minute. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper.

Pour the batter evenly into the hot pan and scatter the vegetable mixture on top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until puffed and lightly browned. Cut into squares and serve.


Monday, May 11, 2015

Spring Salad

I am so happy that I can finally find some pretty seasonal produce.

This is a big bowl of spring.

Spring peas; radishes from my garden; baby rainbow carrots; my baby kale & local asparagus.

This was my first time roasting radishes.
Roasting them took the bite out of them, and they had a mellow peppery flavor.

Not sure if I would do it again, but it certainly added nice color to the bowl and an interesting flavor.

Baby rainbow carrots are a beautiful thing.

I love using them in recipes.
They are spicy, pretty and delicate.....don't over roast them, or they won't keep their beautiful color.

My rule is 400F for about 20 minutes. Pretty much the same rule for all roasted veggies.

Drizzle w/ olive oil and kosher salt.

Salad components:

bunch of baby kale
bunch of asparagus
bunch of baby carrots, cut in half
1/2 cup of spring peas (or defrosted petit pois)
a few radishes, cut in half

Peel and trim asparagus spears and steam them like I showed you. Let cool and cut into diagonals.

On a large baking sheet, lay out the carrots and radishes (both cut in halves). Drizzle w/ olive oil and sprinkle w/ kosher salt.

Roast at 400F for 20 minutes.

My dressing is pretty nothing.

Some creme fraiche w/ lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt, cumin, cilantro and harissa......sorry to be so vague, it is what it is.

Place the baby kale in a big bowl.

Add in the cooled asparagus pieces, the peas and the roasted radishes and carrots.

Drizzle w/ the nice cool dressing and serve.