Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Quiche Toast Cups w/ Broccoli & Bacon

If any of you remember the Silver Palate Cookbook, the girls used to make these great hors d'oeuvres by rolling out crustless white bread slices and rolling w/ asparagus spears and cheese (add in some ham, delish).

The rolled out store bought bread was magical. Brushed with some melted butter, it made a crispy treat, perfect for your 1980's party.

Who uses white bread anymore, really?

I suggest you use some of that Pepperidge Farm or Arnold white bread for this (you must have a loaf hiding in the back of the freezer for grilled cheese emergencies), because I think it would work best.
However, I have whole grain and rye always, so it was a bit more challenging, making the oval slices fit into muffin tins.

The fillings are optional, I had leftover cooked broccoli, and some scallions in the crisper drawer, but feel free to use sauteed onions and any other vegetable or herb.

These are wonderful. Make sure you let them rest in the muffin tin for 5 minutes only, or they will stick, I promise.

Quiche Toast Cups w/ Broccoli & Bacon (makes about 7-8):

8 slices of bread, crusts removed
2 tbsp melted butter for brushing
3 large eggs
2/3 cup of whole milk
salt & pepper
6 slices of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
small bunch of green onions, white parts too, slices thin
1/3 cup of shredded cheese (I used Gruyere)
leftover cooked broccoli or any vegetable (about 1/2 cup), chopped

Preheat oven to 350F.
Brush some melted butter (or cooking spray) in a muffin tin with 8 molds.

Roll out the bread slices (crusts removed) and cut circles with a tomato can (24oz. size works best), or large cookie cutter, to make circles.

Fit each circle of bread into the greased muffin molds. Brush w/ the rest of the melted butter.

Bake the bread cups for about 5 minutes until they are no longer soft.

Mix the eggs, with the cheese, vegetables, eggs, milk and s&p. Add in the cooked bacon to the custard.

QUICKLY (so the bread cups don't get soggy), pour in about 2 tbsp of custard into each muffin cup.

Bake about 30 minutes, until puffed and golden.

Let rest only 5 minutes in the tin, then run a knife around the edges and carefully remove to a cooling rack.


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Slow Roasted Salmon w/ Beets & Avocado

I haven't posted a beet recipe in forever, and I know you've missed them.

Though beets are a summer crop in my garden, they are always available in the winter months and stay for a while in your fridge crisper drawer.

You know I like to roast them for recipes such as this one.

I tried slow roasting salmon for a change (how many ways can you cook a salmon? The answer is: many).

It was a nice change, and the salmon was nice and moist, cooked at the low temp.

Just lay a piece of salmon (I used Alaskan wild coho) in a baking dish.

Pour about 1.5 tbsp of olive oil over a 1 lb. piece of fish.
Season with kosher salt, pepper, lemon zest and thyme.

Place in a preheated 250F oven for 25 minutes (farm raised salmon might take a few minutes more).

Roast up some beets and slice them up.

Slice up an avocado and some watermelon radish.

Arrange all the pretty components on a bed of arugula.

Then place the slow roasted salmon on top (at room temperature).

Drizzle with some lemon juice, white balsamic and olive oil.

Season with sea salt & pepper.

A colorful winter dish.

Healthy and delicious. :)

Monday, February 8, 2016

Oven Braised Beef w/ Tomatoes & Garlic (3 ingredients only)

I have had this recipe in my recipe folder since 1990. It is from an old issue of Gourmet Magazine, written by my favorite food writer Laurie Colwin, and I swear, though it may sound stupidly simple, it turns out amazing!

It has only 3 ingredients.
That's it folks.

Usually, I would never post something so simple, however, I see that Smitten Kitchen posted it, and she has a best selling cookbook!
So I will post it too. It may save someone from a lot of trouble.

What I haven't told any of you loyal readers, is that I fractured and sprained my ankle in early December.

I will spare you the gory details about how I did it, but I will tell you it was not from stand up paddle, or skiing.
It was a stupid accident, as most accidents are.

I have been miserable in a boot cast and cane for the entire month of December and January. I haven't gone out of my house much; haven't put any makeup on or colored my hair.....and if you can believe it, I lost a solid 6 lbs. (I guess from not eating dinners out).

Cooking has not been easy, "but things could be worse" (as I have been reminded 1 million times).

I have a personal assistant named Henry, who has been doing everything for me. Driving me to doctor's appointments, food prepping, setting up blog photos, food shopping and cleaning up the kitchen. We have had a lot of sushi and pizza takeout, which have been very disappointing, to say the least.

I bought a roller stool that I can sit on in the kitchen, so I can roll from oven to fridge and peel and chop at counter level and spin around (my hairdresser's genius idea!!!!).

This, ladies and gentlemen, is how I have been preparing all the delicious food you have been seeing.
I won't give up!

So, the story goes, I was going to tackle my Belgian Beef Carbonnade, but couldn't stand that long, browning the meat and chopping the veggies........and I remembered this simple recipe.

You can add some wine, soup mix, herbs, veggies, is most forgiving. There is no browning or fussing and makes a delicious meat sauce for pasta. Throw in what you have and put a lid on it. It is even better the next day.

I hope you never break any bones, or need a reason to make this recipe, except that it is delicious!

Oven Braised Beef w/ Tomatoes & Garlic (adapted from Epicurious):

3 lb. whole chuck roast (you can also use cut up stew cubes)
1 28 oz. can of chopped tomatoes (or a 14 oz. can tomatoes and 1 cup 1/2 red or white wine)
1 head of garlic, cloves separated (I peel mine too, so I don't have to do it later)
fresh rosemary sprigs (optional)

Place the meat in a Dutch oven w/ lid. My Le Creuset Dutch Oven is perfect for this recipe.
Season the meat liberally with kosher salt and pepper.

Pour tomatoes over the meat and scatter with the garlic cloves (I peel my cloves, so they disintegrate into the sauce).
Add in anything else you would like.

I added in fresh sprigs of rosemary and some leftover white wine.

Cover the pot and place in a preheated 300F oven.

Cook for 2 1/2 - 3 hours, until the meat is tender and falling apart.

I splash a tablespoon of cider or red wine vinegar at the end of all my beef stews (I just like the way it tastes).

Serve over pasta. The original recipe serves over orzo, which is just perfect!


Thursday, February 4, 2016

Cherry Cornmeal Ricotta Cake....just because

Christmas is long gone, and there are no more birthdays or anniversaries to celebrate this month.
It's just a boring winter day.

I feel like baking a big festive cake, just because.

I bought a bag of frozen cherries from Trader Joe's months ago, waiting for a winter baking day like this, thankful to find that bag in the back of my freezer.

This recipe is a riff on that popular Cranberry Cornmeal Ricotta Christmas Cake that I made for the holidays years ago.

I swapped out the cranberries for the frozen cherries, and added almond extract instead of vanilla.

Note: this is a BIG cake, so make certain you have the right cake tin. This works best in a 9" springform pan with minimum 3" sides.

If you have some ricotta cheese in the fridge and a bag of frozen fruit hiding in there, make this lovely cake.

Cherry Cornmeal Ricotta Cake:

2 cups flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 sticks butter (1 1/4 cup)
1 1/2 cups sugar (plus more for the top)
1 tsp salt
zest of 1 orange
2 cups ricotta cheese (I used a 16 oz. container)
1 bag of frozen cherries (do not defrost them or they will be runny in the batter)

Preheat oven to 375F.

Grease a 9" cake tin, or a cake pan with at least 3" high sides, and line the bottom with a parchment paper round.

Mix the dry ingredients and then incorporate the eggs, ricotta, butter, sugar and zest.
You can do this with a mixer, or with your muscles.

Add in the frozen cherries last.

Using a rubber spatula, plop the batter into the pan and spread to fill pan.

The baking time will depend on the size of your pan.

I baked the cake for 50 minutes at 375F, then turned the oven down to 350F for another 20 minutes.
So, an hour and 10 minutes, total. If your cake is getting too brown, cover with foil.

Let rest in the tin for about 10 minutes, then unmold the springform latch.

Make an icing with a cup of confectioner's sugar mixed w/ a tablespoon of orange juice and drizzle over the cake while still warm.

This is dense, moist and delicious cake.

Great for a celebration or just because you feel like I often do!!


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Farro w/ Roasted Vinegar Sweet Potatoes & Apples

If you still haven't tried farro yet, you are missing out.

It is this wonderful Italian hulled wheat grain, much like spelt, and has a great toothsome consistency.
Wonderful for soups and salads.

I saw this recipe in Food & Wine and knew I had to try it.
And I had a bag of dried cherries from Trader Joe's in my cupboard (why?), so I was all set.

Roasting the sweet potatoes w/ sherry vinegar gives them a new dimension and taste. I did not have cashews, so used Marcona almonds instead.

This makes a big portion, so I had lunch for 3 days. Henry was not interested.

Farro Salad w/ Vinegar Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Apples (adapted from Food & Wine) I cut this recipe in half, and it still made plenty

1 small fennel bulb, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
kosher salt & black pepper
4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth (you can also use water, but the stock gives more flavor)
2 cups farro
3/4 pound sweet potato (1 large), scrubbed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup sherry vinegar (I used balsamic vinegar)
2 Granny Smith apples—peeled, cored and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup dried cherries
handful of toasted walnuts
Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano for garnish

Heat a layer of olive oil in a large saucepan.

Add the fennel, onion, garlic and a generous pinch of salt. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the fennel is softened, about 8 minutes.

Add the stock (you can use water) and farro and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to moderate and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the farro is tender and the stock is absorbed, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400F°. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the sweet potato with 3 table­spoons of olive oil and season with kosher salt and pepper.

Drizzle with the vinegar and roast for about 15 minutes, until just starting to soften. Add the apples and toss to coat. Roast for about 20 minutes longer, until the sweet potato and apples are tender but not falling apart. Let cool slightly. 

In a large bowl, toss the farro mixture with the dried cherries, nuts, parsley and the roasted sweet potato and apples. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to plates, top with shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and serve.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Bundt Pan Roast Chicken

I must have been very bored to have tried this.

All these new goofy cooking pasta in one pot with just an onion and can of tomatoes.......making a chocolate cake in a mug in your microwave.....I must be nuts. I've tried them all, and am usually underwhelmed.

I usually roast a chicken the old fashioned way.

Stuffed w/ some fresh herbs, a lemon, kosher salt & pepper. 425F for an hour & 15 minutes.
Perfect every time.

So why would I do this to a chicken?

Think of that silly recipe where you stuff a beer can up a chicken's works, and it's good, clean fun.

I decided to forgo my fancy bundt pan, I would just use my old tube pan, same idea.

Here, the shape of the pan just acts as a catchall, catching the chicken's juices onto the vegetables, and the whole bird is supposed to get nice, crispy and brown.

Well, my bird didn't get evenly brown at all. Strange, I know.
And some of my carrots and potatoes just didn't cook thru either. Also odd.

The chicken had a decent flavor, but I found the vegetables to be too greasy with all the juices running all over them from the bird.

You can try this if you like, it makes a fun presentation, but I will stick with my tried and true roast chicken.

Bundt Pan Chicken (adapted from Food & Wine):

1 whole chicken, about 4-5 lbs.
kosher salt & pepper
olive oil
2 carrots, cut up
some potatoes cut up (any kind)
1 onion, cut up
1 lemon, cut up
a few whole garlic peeled garlic cloves
some fresh thyme, rosemary and a bay leaf or two if you like

Preheat oven to 400F.

Cover the hole of the tube of the pan with foil (so the juices can't leak out).

Lay all the vegetables w/ the lemon, garlic and herbs around the bundt pan.

Drizzle with olive oil and season w/ kosher salt & pepper.

Now place that bird on the tube. Rub a little olive oil on the skin and season w/ kosher salt & pepper.

Roast for 75 minutes (an hour and 15 min).

Not life changing, but I don't want to change my life anyway.


Monday, February 1, 2016

Chickpea & Avocado Salad w/ Feta

This is not the prettiest salad, but it's up there with the easiest!

I had everything in the house and when I saw it on Maria's site I knew had to make it.

Makes enough for 2.

1 ripe avocado, diced
1 can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons green onion
1/3 cup feta cheese
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 tbsp olive oil
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Lightly toss ingredients together and squeeze the half a lime and olive oil over the salad and season w/ the sea salt and pepper. Garnish w/ fresh cilantro (a must!).

Serve immediately.

This is a delicious healthy lunch, and I will make it often!

Happy Monday!


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Olive Oil Jam Cake w/ Mirabelles

I know you must be sick of me by now with all of my olive oil cakes, but they are still my favorite.

Not too sweet, nice and moist and always the perfect choice for breakfast or after school snack w/ coffee (if your kids drink didn't stunt my growth, I'm 5' 8").

Here, I added in some fresh rosemary to be different.

When the cake came out, it looked too plain to me.
Just a boring loaf.

Should I ice it? Sprinkle powdered sugar on top?
I wanted more.

How about I slice the cake in half, horizontally, and fill it with jam?


Mirabelles are golden plums and we see them in season when we go to France in September.
They are all over the markets and every restaurant in Paris serves a mirabelle tart during the season.

Mon Maman, a French confiture makes delicious preserves and jams, and you can find them easily here in the U.S. at most supermarkets.

Their newest flavor is Mirabelle jam! Stock up if you can find it. It's so good.

If you can't find mirabelle preserves, then by all means, use fig or raspberry, or skip the jam all together, you can just have a plain olive oil cake.

And of course I iced it with confectioners sugar and milk. Why not?

It turned out to be one fabulous cake.

Bake the cake.

Olive Oil Jam Cake:

1 cup granulated sugar
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 small orange
1/2 cup mild tasting olive oil (I use Colavita)
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
juice from 1 lemon
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons whole milk
1 tsp of fresh rosemary, chopped (optional)
jam of your choice

Preheat oven to 350F.

Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, rub the sugar, lemon zest, and orange zest between your fingers until fragrant. Beat in olive oil. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

The original recipe for the olive oil cake wants you to "aerate" the mixture by beating for 4 minutes.
Too long when you are relying on just your arm strength, so I just did my usual beating (about a minute).

Beat in the vanilla, baking powder, salt, and lemon juice. Add 1/3 of the flour and beat until blended.
Add half of the milk and continue beating. Repeat additions by adding 1/3 of the flour, the remaining milk, and the remaining flour.

If using, add in the fresh chopped rosemary.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 35-40 minutes. Cake will rise and be cracked on top.
Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

You can stop here if you like, and have a perfectly delicious cake, but why?
Aren't you curious?

Let's continue.

When you feel the cake is solid enough to slice (about 20 minutes cooled should do it), then carefully slice down the middle of the cake, horizontally, with a serrated knife.

Spread the jam on one side only and close the cake back up.

I mixed a cup of powdered sugar w/ a tbsp of milk to make an icing, and poured that over the cake as well, why not?

Let rest and serve the next day, if you think you can wait that long!

So delicious.

I will continue to bake olive oil cakes, so I hope you like them as much as I do. ;)

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Brussels Sprouts w/ Toasted Bread Salad

This is the perfect winter lunch.

It is sort of healthy because there are vegetables as the main act...... but a little bit of winter coat thrown in (meaning don't put your bathing suit on yet).

There are delicious toasted bread cubes and bacon to make this a great hearty dish.

You can do a fried egg or a wonky looking hard boiled egg, like I did.

It's the perfect meal for a cold winter day.

Brussels Sprouts w/ Toasted Bread Salad: serves 2

1 lb. brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
a few slices of bacon
a few slices of stale bread, torn or cubed
2 eggs, hard boiled
sea salt & pepper
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil

Cook the bacon until crisp and remove from the pan. Reserve most of the fat in the skillet.
If you don't have enough fat, then add in some olive oil.

Throw in the bread cubes and cook on all sides until you have nice crispy croutons......alternatively, you can also make them in the oven or toaster oven, but then they won't have that yummy bacony taste.

Add the croutons to a large platter or bowl.

Next, saute the halved brussels sprouts (you will have to add more oil to the pan) and cook on medium heat, tossing the whole time, for about 10 minutes, until golden brown.

Crumble the bacon and toss w/ the sprouts. Place everything on top of the toasted bread.

Garnish w/ slices of hard boiled egg and season w/ sea salt & pepper.

Sooooo good!


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Broccoli Quinoa Patties

Leftover sauteed broccoli with garlic from dinner last night. check.
Leftover quinoa (I always make extra) from lunch the other day. check.

Add some eggs and cheese and other good stuff thrown in, and a quinoa patty cake is born.

These are delicious, simple, and a great grab and go breakfast or lunch.

You can dip them in ranch dressing if you like (I have never bought bottled dressing in my life, and certainly not RANCH!), or make a yogurt harissa sauce for them..........

or pair them with a new Maille Mustard flavor from France (yes, this is the real French stuff, not the stuff from Canada), Saffron Creme Fraiche w/ White Wine.

It is a mustard meant to go with Persian basmati rice and nuts and is very complex and delicious.

If you are a New Yorker, Maille has just opened a signature boutique on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, modeled after the Place de la Madeleine location in Paris! See post here.

They hand pump the mustard into beautiful reusable stoneware jars and they ship all over the country, so you can order online.

This special mustard was the perfect pairing to my broccoli quinoa cakes.
They make a lot (about 20 small patties), so we had them as snacks all week long.

Healthy and delicious.

Broccoli Quinoa Patties:

1 cup of cooked quinoa
1/2 head steamed broccoli (about 1 cup +), cut up into small pieces
3 eggs
handful of chopped scallions
1 small yellow onion, chopped fine
1/2 cup of dried breadcrumbs
1/3 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
salt & pepper

With wet hands, form small balls (about a tablespoon full).

Heat oil of your choice in a large skillet and place the balls in the pan, pressing down lightly with fish spatula.

Cook 3 minutes on medium heat, then flip and cook another 3 minutes.

Blot on paper towels and serve warm or cold with a schmear of mustard.