Saturday, January 22, 2011

Veggies and more veggies

Now that the holidays are over I need to try and curb the obnoxious eating that has been taking place. More vegetables are definitely in the picture.
This is a recipe that I made as a side dish this past Thanksgiving. It's easy and very flavorful due to the roasting of the shallots and fennel.
Fennel has got to be one of my all-time favorite vegetables. I love them roasted (as in this recipe) or just raw in salads of greens along with oranges, lots of pepper and a simple classic vinaigrette.

Haricot Verts with roasted fennel and shallots

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 large fresh fennel bulbs, trimmed
3/4 pound shallots, peeled, halved through root end
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 pound haricots verts or small slender green beans, trimmed
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Preheat oven to 450°F. Spray rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray.
Cut fennel bulbs lengthwise in half. Cut halves lengthwise into 1/2-inch-wide wedges, with some core still attached to each. Combine fennel and shallots in large bowl.
Add 3 tablespoons oil; stir to coat.
Arrange fennel and shallots in single layer on prepared sheet. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast until tender and golden, stirring every 10 minutes, about 35 minutes.

Cook haricots verts in large saucepan of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.
Drain. Rinse with cold water and drain again. Pat dry.

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add roasted vegetables and haricots verts; toss until heated through, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl and serve.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

More and More Ice Cream

I may have mentioned last year that my son was not able to take his new ice cream maker back to Costa Rica with him. Thank God for baggage limits. So, the ice cream making continues.

The first recipe was made for my girl's night deck party this past spring. The theme was herb-inspired so we concluded the meal with lemon mint ice cream. If you like lemon you will love this.

Recipe: Bruce Weinstein

2 large eggs
1 C. sugar
1/2 C. fresh lemon juice (5-6 large lemons)
2 TBLSP. butter
1 TSP. lemon extract
2 C. light cream
2 Tblsp. minced fresh mint leaves

Combine eggs, sugar, lemon juice and butter in top pan of a double boiler placed over simmering water. Beat mixture constantly until thickened, about 15 minutes. Allow lemon curd to cool slight then stir in lemon extract, cream and mint leaves. Cover and refrigerate until very cold.

Stir the custard well then freeze in ice cream machine. It will be soft but ready to eat. Or, freeze at least 2 hours for firmer ice cream.
We served this alongside lemon thyme bars that Kathy created. Wow, lots of lemon at that meal. It was bliss!

This next ice cream recipe was absolutely sublime. This concluded another outdoor deck party that I hosted this summer. YUMM-O!

Recipe: Bruce Weinstein

3/4 C. sugar
3 large eggs
2 Tsp. cornstarch
one 4" piece fresh peeled ginger
1 C. milk
1 1/2 C. heavy cream
1/2 Tsp. vanilla
2 Tblsp. finely chopped crystallized ginger

Beat sugar into eggs until thickened and pale yellow. Beat in cornstarch and set aside.
Slice ginger into 1/2" pieces and combine with milk in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to a boil then remove from heat and let steep for 15 minutes.
Remove the ginger with a slotted spoon and slowly beat the warm milk into the eggs and sugar. Pour the entire mixture back into the saucepan and place over low heat. Stir constatnly with a whisk or wooden spoon until custard thickens slightly. Do not let mixture boil unless you want scrambled eggs. And we don't!
Once thickened remove from heat and pour custard through a strainer into a large, clean bowl.
Allow custard to cool slighty then stir in cream and vanilla.
Cover and refrigerate until very cold.
Stir the chilled custard then freeze in your ice cream maker according to machine's instructions (mine usually takes 30-40 minutes)
Add the crystallized ginger when ice cream is partially frozen (about 1/2 way through the freezing process)
Can be eaten right away, if desired. Or freeze at least 2 hours for firmer ice cream.

I thought I had crystallized ginger for this recipe but realized it was just ginger candy, uncrystallized. I ended up cutting into small pieces and adding that instead. SIt was still way yummy, just chewier bits of ginger. Either way it was delicious.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Lemon chicken and Ratatouille

The main course for my girl's herb-inspired dinner was a refreshing lemon chicken from The Silver Palate cookbook. Easy peasy to make and better yet, it can be served hot, cold, or room temperature. How great is that!
Along with Kathy's polenta I served this with a yummy, colorful pepper ratatouille. Also from the Silver Palate.

Bright and colorful this whole meal pleased the eyes as well as the palate.

Baked Lemon Chicken

2 chickens (2 1/2 pounds each), cut into quarters
2 cups fresh lemon juice
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup corn oil
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock
2 lemons sliced paper-thin

Marinate the chicken in the lemon juice overnight in the fridge. Turn pieces occasionally.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the flour and spices in a large plastic bag. Toss a few chicken pieces at a time in the flour mixture.
Heat the oil in a large pan or dutch oven over medium heat. Fry chicken (a few pieces at a time) until crisp and well browned. This should take about 10 minutes.
Arrange the fried chicken in a shallow baking dish and sprinkle with brown sugar then cover with the chicken stock and lemon zest. Lay lemon slices over chicken.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes until the internal temp. reaches 165 degrees.
Transfer to a platter and serve immediately, room temperature or chilled. (room temperature is my preference)

Hot Pepper Ratatouille
(Silver Palate Cookbook Good Times Cookbook)

1.2 c. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
6 large garlic cloves, slivered
1 large eggplant, unpeeled, cut into 1" cubes
1 sweet red pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1/2 in. squares
1 green pepper, cut as above
4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
2 yellow summer squash cut into 1" cubes
1 Tblsp. dried oregano
2 tsps. groung cumin
Salt to taste
24 cherry tomatoes, halved
3 Tbls. chopped fresh coriander.

Heat oil in large saucepan and add onion Saute for 10 mins.
Stir in garlic and saute for 5 mins. Add eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for 15 mins.
Add all of the peppers and squash Simmer covered over medium-low height, stirring occasionally for 25 mins.
Stir in cherry tomatoes and simmer for 10 mins.
Garnish with coriander and serve hot or at room temperature.

LOVE the room temperature dishes. They can be done way ahead of time so that it frees up the time for your guests.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Summer herb-inspired deck party with friends.

My girlfriends are the best. And getting together on a summer night is one of my favorite things to do. I dreamed up this menu while weeding my herb garden. I was determined to have every dish contain at least one herb out of my garden.

My pretty summer table with hydrangeas from the garden

As they arrived I served a very summery refreshing white wine. NEW AGE. It had a slight sweetness and light effervescence to it. So when served over ice with sliced lemons and limes it resembled a simpler version of white sangria. It was yummy.

We began with grilled shrimp skewers with mango salsa. (Recipe provided by Barefoot Contess) Anne contributed her wonderful guacamole.

Anne and Beth

The main course was another old favorite recipe of mine- Baked lemon chicken, This is great served hot, cold or room temperature. On a hot summer night I baked this about an hour before guests arrived and served it at room temp.
To accompany the main course I made very colorful and spicy pepper ratatouille.
Kathy wowed us with her homemade polenta with rosemary and parmesan.


Paul D. Gruner Veltliner was the wine served with the meal. Another crisp but dry white wine from Austria. Great for summer.

Dessert was my homemade lemon and mint ice cream. Lemon and Thyme bars and Alice B. Toklas brownies.
Yes, someone took the "herb" theme more than literally.
Here I will share the first of the recipes. More to follow.

Grilled shrimp with Mango Salsa

Ina Garten

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2 pounds jumbo shrimp (16 to 20 per pound), peeled and deveined, tails intact
Vegetable oil, for grilling
In a medium bowl, combine garlic, onion, parsley, basil, mustards, salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice. Add the shrimp, and marinate for 1 hour at room temperature, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
Heat a grill or a grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush the rack or pan with vegetable oil to prevent the shrimp from sticking. Skewer 5 to 6 shrimp on a 12-inch skewer for a dinner serving. Grill the shrimp on each side, until opaque and lightly charred, about 1 1/2 minutes. Serve with Mango Salsa.

Mango Salsa
Ina Garten

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups diced yellow onion (2 onions)
2 teaspoons peeled and minced ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 ripe mangos, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons packed light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 to 2 teaspoons minced fresh jalapeño pepper (1 pepper)
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves
Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-low heat. Add onions and ginger, and saute until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook, 1 minute more. Add the mangos; reduce heat to low, and cook for 10 more minutes. Add orange juice, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and jalapeno. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the orange juice has reduced, 3 to 4 minutes.
Remove from heat, and stir in mint. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.\

In these recipes the flat leaf parsley, basil and mint were courtesy of my humble garden.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Chocolate Banana Tart

More snow week recipe. This time a very quick,yummy dessert.

1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
6 firm-ripe bananas
1/4 cup apricot preserves

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Blend crumbs, butter, 1/3 cup sugar, and salt in a food processor until mixture begins to hold together and pat onto bottom and up side of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Bake in middle of oven until side of crust is firm to the touch, 14 to 18 minutes.

Sprinkle chocolate chips into hot crust and let stand 5 minutes to soften. Spread evenly over bottom of crust. Beat cream with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar and rum until it holds soft peaks. Cut bananas into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Whisk preserves and add bananas, tossing to coat. Spoon banana mixture into crust and top with whipped cream.

The only problem with the crust is that it shrunk up quite a bit during baking and was not as tall as the sides of the tart pan. Fortunately, it is not really needed to hold the filling in.
Also, I used semi-sweet baking chocolate since I was out of chocolate chips. I just melted them ahead of time in the microwave. They did harden much harder than chocolate chips would have. The result being that it was a bit harder to cut. But it did give the crust a cookie-like consistency.

Shrimp and Grits with Roasted Red Pepper

We've had about 4 1/2 feet of snow here this past week. This is the perfect weather to spend time in the kitchen and create lots of comfort food.

I tried this dish this week to share with all of our snowbound neighbors. I've never made grits before but this has got to be the easiest and most delicious recipe. This was first published in Bon Appetit magazine.

Grits with Shrimp and Roasted Red Bell

Yield: Makes 6 main-course servings

2 large red bell peppers *

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 green onions, chopped **
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 cup quick-cooking grits ***
3 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
3 tablespoons whipping cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

30 uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined
1 cup crumbled feta cheese ****
Fresh thyme sprigs

Butter 11x7-inch glass baking dish. Char peppers over gas flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides. Enclose in paper bag; let stand 10 minutes. Peel, seed, and coarsely chop peppers.

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, green onions, and chopped thyme. Sauté until onions wilt, about 2 minutes. Add grits and stir 1 minute. Whisk in broth and cream. Simmer until liquid is absorbed and grits are thick and tender, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Whisk in salt, hot pepper sauce, and black pepper. Fold in roasted bell peppers. Spread grits in prepared dish. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Press shrimp, on their sides, onto top of grits in single layer. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake until grits are heated through, shrimp are just opaque in center, and cheese begins to brown, about 20 minutes. Garnish with thyme sprigs.

*I am sure jarred roasted red peppers would work equally as well. But, I did roast my own.
** I used regular yellow onions
*** I used long-cooking grits and used the cooking time recommended on the package. About 20 minutes.
**** I used a mixture of shredded cheddar and parmesan cheese. My husband cannot STAND Feta cheese. I think any combination of cheeses would work equally as well.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dilled Blanquette de Veau

The Silver Palate Cookbooks have been my favorites for more than 20 years. The first recipe that I tried was this heavenly veal stew. Still a favorite of my family and friends. Grocery stores may have the veal ready to go. But I recommend that you call ahead as it is not always stocked.

• 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter
• 3 pounds boneless veal shoulder or shank, cut into 1-inch cubes (or chicken breast)
• ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
• 1 scant teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
• 1½ teaspoon salt, to taste
• 1½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, to taste
• 3 cups peeled small carrots
• 3 cups coarsely chopped yellow onions
• ½ cup finely chopped fresh dill
• 3½ cups Chicken Stock
• ¾ cup heavy cream

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Melt 8 tablespoons butter in a heavy oven proof casserole over medium-low heat. Add the veal (or chicken) and cook turning frequently without browning.
2. Stir 3 tablespoons flour, the nutmeg, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl, and sprinkle over the veal. Continue to cook over low heat stirring for 15 minutes. The flour and veal should not brown.
3. Add the carrots, onions, 3 tablespoons of the dill, and enough stock just to cover the meat and vegetables. Raise the heat to medium, bring to a boil, cover, and bake in the oven for 1½ hours.
4. Remove the stew from the oven and pour it through a strainer placed over a bowl. Reserve the solids and liquid separately. Return the casserole to medium heat and melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter in it. Sprinkle the remaining 5 tablespoons flour and cook over low heat, whisking constantly for 5 minutes.
5. Whisk the reserved cooking liquid slowly into the butter and flour mixture and bring to a simmer. Cook slowly, stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Whisk in the cream and the remaining dill and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Return the veal and vegetables to the casserole and simmer together to heat through, about 10 minutes. Perfect with parsleyed new potatoes.