Thursday, December 29, 2016

Bacon Onion Jam

Everything tastes good with bacon in it! I first tasted this jam during a 2015 holiday visit to my friends, the Konicek-Morans. Kathleen gave me the Martha Stewart Slow Cooker recipe and I adapted it to make this delicious savory sweet holiday treat this year. Savory, sweet, salty, smoky- you will want to spread it on everything! This jam is delicious on crackers with or without cheese or apple slices. It's a fabulous condiment for burgers and goes especially well with cheddar or blue cheese. Grilled cheese sandwiches with bacon jam inside are out of this world! My favorite use is in salad dressing (see vinaigrette recipe for one large salad below). Enjoy this jam year round or make it for a holiday gift in small jars.

Bacon-Onion Jam

1.5 pounds bacon, chopped into 1 inch pieces
3 medium yellow onions, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup real maple syrup
3/4 cup brewed coffee

1. I use the same enameled Dutch oven for all steps but you can cook the bacon in a separate frying pan if you wish. Chop the bacon into 1 inch pieces and cook in 2 batches until rendered, lightly browned, and medium-crisped- about 20 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Discard fat from the first batch. As you cook the last batch, save 1 T of the bacon fat in the pan and discard the rest (or save for other uses).
2. Saute' onions in bacon fat until translucent (about 5 min) then add garlic (transfer now to an enameled Dutch oven if you sauteed in a different pan). Add rest of ingredients, except for the bacon, and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up the tiny brown bacon bits with a wooden spoon, for about 2 minutes.
3. Add bacon, stir to mix, lower heat to a gentle simmer, and simmer on low heat for about 2 hours or until the liquid cooks down and is syrupy.
4. Let cool to warm then transfer to a food processor (may have to do this in 2 batches). Pulse until coarsely chopped.
5. Let cool and pack into a jar or divide into small gift jars. Makes about one full cup of jam.

Tangy Bacon-Onion Vinaigrette (for one salad for 4-5 people)

This salad is delicious when made with just mixed greens, paper thin sliced red onion, halved cherry tomatoes, and sliced avocado. Tastes just like an avocado BLT!

1 T mild oil like Canola
2 T white or dark balsamic vinegar
1/2 T minced shallot
1/2 T bacon onion jam
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Put oil in a small bowl or ramekin dish.
2. Add bacon jam and with a small spoon, press jam into oil until mixed.
3. Add vinegar , shallot, and pinch of salt and pepper and stir thoroughly until homogeneous with bacon bits and shallot throughout.
4. Pour on salad and toss to mix dressing with greens and veggies.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Icelandic Fish Stew (Plokkfiskur)

Every country has a signature dish. In Iceland Plokkfiskur (fish stew) is a signature dish. Translated, it means "mashed fish". As it was explained to me by our Icelandic guide, every family makes their fish stew differently. Basically they use their leftover fish, usually cod or haddock (Iceland has a major cod fishery) to make the stew for the next day's meal. The flavor is better if the stew sits overnight in the refrigerator. Some top it off with grated cheese and then put it under the broiler to melt. Others add spices such as curry or top it off with chives or brown bread croutons. It's not a particularly pretty dish but what makes it distinctive is that it is so thick, you can eat it with a fork. It's sort of like New England fish chowder eaten with a fork! If I were in Maine, I would make this often with the fresh haddock I could buy in the supermarkets.  I had a hearty, delicious fish stew in one of the fabulous Reykjavic waterfront restaurants we ate at while visiting Iceland (see photo from menu). My recipe is an attempt at duplicating the dish that was served to me (and it had curry in it and was topped with chives, cheese, and rye croutons). The major difference is, I added some carrot. I can't get fresh cod or haddock in Florida so I used frozen cod from Trader Joe's. I think you might be able to make this with tilapia and grouper would certainly work. I might try it next time with a Florida fresh fish.

Icelandic Fish Stew

1 lb of cod, haddock, or other white flaky fish
1 large onion, chopped
3 T butter
5-6 large red or white skinned potatoes
1 carrot, diced
1/2 cup half and half, light cream, or evaporated milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: 1 tsp curry powder, chives, grated cheese, lemon

1. Cook the fish (poach, steam, or bake) until it easily flakes. Flake or mash the fish and set aside.
2. Chop potatoes and boil until soft. Drain and mash.
3. Saute onion and carrot in butter.
4. Add mashed potatoes, flaked fish, and half and half. Stir together.
5. Slowly add milk until you get the consistency you want. It should be thick and easily eaten with a fork.
6. Add salt and pepper to taste. For best flavor, let it sit in fridge overnight and heat up the next day.
7. Optional: Serve with slice of lemon. Top with snipped chives, or brown bread/rye croutons. Add about 1/2 cup of grated cheddar or Monterrey jack cheese to step #4 or put stew in ovenproof dish with cheese on top and melt and brown under broiler.
Makes 4-5 servings

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette

Store bought salad dressing out of the bottle is taboo in my home! Fresh vinaigrette's are so easy to make I don't know why anyone would want to buy pre-made salad dressings pumped up with artificial ingredients and preservatives; I guess convenience trumps flavor. This roasted garlic vinaigrette is so delicious, I could practically eat it straight out of the jar with a spoon. It has both a sweet and umami flavor, is thick and creamy, emulsifies nicely, and will keep for a couple weeks in the fridge. It's worth taking the time to roast your garlic in order to make this dressing. Roasting garlic is easy. Find a garlic bulb with medium-large size cloves. Peel off the cloves, leaving the papery skin on. Toss with some olive oil and place on a square of aluminum foil. Wrap the foil around the garlic cloves into a nice ball and roast in a 300 degree oven for one hour. Oh, the smell of roasted garlic is heavenly and the roasting caramelizes the garlic and making it sweeter and more mild. When the cloves are cool, slit through the papery skin and extrude the soft roasted garlic, discarding the peels. Thanks to Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill for this superb salad dressing recipe! By the way, these small Cuisinart mini grinder/choppers are the best for making salad dressings.

Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette
8 medium-large cloves of roasted garlic
3 T red wine vinegar
1 T chopped red onion
1 T honey
1 T fresh lime juice
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup olive oil

1. Combine all ingredients, except for the oil, and blend until smooth.
2. Slowly add the oil, 1/4th of it at a time, blending until emulsified.
3. Use immediately or store in the fridge. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Mushroom-Kale Potato Salad with "MIso-Mayo"

Occasionally I shop at the Leaf Asian Market, where I stock up on miso paste and noodles. This potato salad is made with a "miso-mayo" by mixing white miso paste, water, and plain yogurt. It is really good, has a rich umami flavor, and is much lower in calories than mayo-based potato salad. I adapted this recipe from one I found in Cooking Light magazine by using caramelized onions, which I often make a batch of to keep in my fridge for use with a variety of recipes. To make a batch of caramelized onions, I slice 3 large vidalia onions and saute them in canola oil on very low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so. Halfway through I sprinkle them with a tsp of sugar and add a little beef broth. When the onions are brown and soft and all the liquid is cooked away, they can be kept in the fridge for about 2 weeks.  I also added chopped kale to this recipe. If you are not a fan of kale, leave it out. Try this salad the next time you need to bring a potato salad to a party!

5 large red skinned potatoes
1 8oz package of sliced mushrooms
1 medium onion, diced
1 T vegetable oil
1/2 cup caramelized onions, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped kale (without ribs)
1 T white miso paste (or any light colored miso, it's usually a light tan)
1 T water
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2-3 scallion tops or chives, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cube potatoes and cook in boiling water until soft but not mushy. Remove from heat and cool in ice water while you prepare rest of ingredients.
2. Saute chopped onions in oil until translucent, then add mushrooms and saute until mushrooms are very soft. Remove from heat and cool.
3. Make "miso-mayo" by adding a T of water to a T of miso and stirring with a fork until mixed. Then add the Greek yogurt and stir thoroughly to mix. Chill before adding to the potato salad.
4. When potatoes and mushroom mixture are cooled, place in a mixing bowl and add the chopped kale. Chop the caramelized onions and add to the ingredients in the bowl. Mix everything together.
5. Add the miso mayo until you get the consistency you prefer. I use about 3/4 of it. Add salt and pepper to taste.
6. Put into a serving bowl and sprinkle top with chopped scallion or chives.

Japanese Eggplant Kebobs

If there is one vegetable that grows really well in the hot Florida summer weather, it's eggplant! We have harvested dozens of eggplants from our small Florida garden and they just keep coming back! If you are an eggplant lover, you will enjoy these kabobs. I roasted mine in the oven, but you could easily do this on a grill.

3-4 Japanese eggplants
3T miso paste
1 1/2 T rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 t sesame oil
1 1/2 T soy sauce
1 T maple syrup
1 t fresh grated ginger
sesame seeds
minced scallions

1. Mix together the miso, vinegar, oil, soy sauce, maple syrup, and grated ginger.
2. Cut the eggplants longitudinally, in half, and then cut the halves into chunks. Lay out the chunks on paper towels and salt generously. The salt will draw the bitter juices out. After 20 minutes, rinse off the eggplant and pat dry.
3.  Thread the chunks onto skewers. Generously baste with the miso mixture.
4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place skewers on sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for about 25 minutes or until eggplant is nicely browned and softened.
5. Sprinkle sesame seeds and minced scallions over eggplant before serving.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Giant "Subway" Sandwich

This party sandwich is one of my favorite sandwiches to serve when there are 4-5 of us for lunch. It's like one of those giant Subway party sandwiches, but much better when you make it yourself! Start out by finding a good loaf of crusty artisan bread. Take a knife and cut a V-shaped wedge out of the length of the loaf. In other words, remove about a 2 inch width across the top, pointing the bread knife down and inward so it meets in a V about halfway inside the loaf, and cut the wedge down the entire length of the bread. Discard the wedge or use it for croutons, bread crumbs, etc. Hollow out a little bit more of the bread. On the inside, overlap sandwich meats and cheeses of your choosing up against the inside wall of the bread. I usually overlap shaved tavern ham and gouda, but smoked turkey, cold cuts, or other meats are fine too. Then place sliced tomatoes against the meats, followed by sliced cucumbers and sliced avocado. Fill in the rest with slivered red and green peppers, banana peppers, and red onion. Put chopped lettuce over the top. Make sandwich dressing as described below and pour dressing over the top of the sandwich. Using a serrated bread knife, cut the loaf into 6-7 slices and serve on a bread board.

Sandwich dressing (for one large loaf). Mix thoroughly:

1 minced shallot
1.5 T red wine
1 T olive oil
pinch of dry mustard
salt and pepper
large pinch of fresh ground herbs (basil, oregano, thyme)

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Chinese "Chicken" Salad

After finishing two days of professional development for high school science teachers at the Kamehameha School on the big island of Hawai'i, my husband and I were treated to a wonderful dinner at Joel and Elizabeth Truesdell's lovely hillside home in Hilo. Besides the delicious roast pork with a coconut mango sauce, grilled Hawaiian fish pesto pasta, and a traditional Hawaiian cake, Elizabeth made this yummy Chinese "Chicken" Salad which was intriguing to me since it contained no chicken meat. Turns out it was made with chicken flavored Ramen noodles which added a nice crunch and flavor to the salad dressing. Thanks to Elizabeth for the recipe! With a few modifications, here is the version I made. You can substitute crunchy iceberg lettuce or savoy cabbage for the Chinese cabbage, which is called Napa cabbage in many stores. You could also add slivered carrots or shredded red cabbage or substitute slivered green peppers for the snow peas. Use any crunchy veggies that appeal to you. This recipe makes enough for 5-6 people.

Chinese "Chicken" Salad

1 Chinese cabbage (also called Napa cabbage)- shredded
2 red bell peppers- cut into thin slivers
snow peas (about a large handful)- cut into slivers (longitudinal halves)
8 scallions, chopped (include most of the green stem)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 T finely minced ginger
1 package of chicken flavored Ramen noodles
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 teaspoon brown sugar or honey
Optional: slivered almonds, sunflower seeds, or macadamia nut pieces

1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Break up the uncooked Ramen noodles and add to the veggies. Mix all ingredients thoroughly.
3. Whisk together the dressing in a separate bowl: the oil, vinegar, seasoning packet that came with the Ramen noodles, sugar or honey, and ginger.
4. Pour dressing over salad and mix thoroughly. Put into serving bowl and top with optional nuts.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Seafood Lasagna

Before cooking

My Aunt Barb in Syracuse, NY, used to make this dish for us when we visited her. Since then it has become a family favorite and a popular Christmas Eve dish. The original recipe from my Aunt used condensed Campbell's Cream of Shrimp Soup (2 cans) slightly thinned with evaporated milk, but I modified it to make a Newburg sauce from scratch. If you don't want to bother with the Newburg sauce, use the Cream of Shrimp soup instead.

To prepare the seafood mixture, chop the cooked cocktail shrimp into 1/2 inch pieces and set aside. Depending on whether you bought sea scallops or bay scallops, chop into 1/2 inch pieces. The tiny bay scallops can be used as is. Mix the scallops with the onion and saute in butter or oil on medium heat for about 5 minutes to release the water from the scallops and soften the onions. The scallops should not be completely cooked, just enough to release any water. Drain off the liquid. Add the shrimp and crabmeat and set aside until you make the sauce.

To make the sauce, melt the butter in a sauce pan. Stir in the flour and salt to make a roux. Slowly add the milk while stirring, a small amount at a time. Stir to thicken. Add the sherry, Worcestershire, ketchup, and paprika, stirring as it thickens. If it is too thick, add more milk and sherry. You want the sauce to be thin enough to spread but not runny. It should be the consistency of a thick tomato sauce and a nice light orange color. If it is too runny, just add a little tomato paste until thickened.

Beat an egg in a bowl and add the ricotta and basil. Mix thoroughly. 

Add 1/3 a cup of the sauce to the seafood/onion mixture and stir thoroughly to mix. Spread about 1/3-1/2 the sauce on the bottom of a lasagna pan (I use a 9 by 13 pan) and cover with a layer of cooked lasagna noodles. Spread the seafood mixture over the noodles. Place the mozzarella cheese slices over the seafood and cover with another layer of lasagna noodles.

Spread the ricotta layer over the noodles and cover with the remaining lasagna noodles. Pour the remaining sauce over the top layer so it completely covers the noodles and a little bit seems into the layers. Sprinkle the grated cheddar cheese over the top and place the tomato slices on top of the cheddar cheese. Put a pinch of sugar on each tomato slice. Optional: Top with fresh grated Parmesan.

Pop into a 350 degree preheated oven and bake uncovered for about 40 minutes or until bubbly. Place under broiler for a few minutes to nicely brown the top. Let stand for 10-15 minutes before serving.

cooked lasagne noodles (about 9- preferable the curly edged ones)
15 oz container of ricotta cheese or about 2 cups
1 cup (or slightly more) chopped, cooked cocktail shrimp
1 cup chopped raw scallops
1/2 to 1 cup crab meat (can use the imitation kind if you can't get fresh crab meat)
optional: add a chopped lobster tail or lobster meat
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 large tomato sliced thin
1/2 T basil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 large egg
Mozzarella ball sliced into 8-10 slices
Butter or olive oil

Newburg Sauce

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups milk (substitute 1/2 cup of the milk with light cream if you want a rich sauce)
1/4 cup cooking sherry
pinch of paprika
3 T ketchup
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Shredded Kale/Spinach Salad with Nutty "Parmesan"

 This healthy salad is bursting with flavor! This is a vegan salad I had during Thanksgiving dinner at the Forster's. I am not a vegan but I love the flavors of this salad. The secret to this amazing salad
is a new ingredient that I am going to use more of in my cooking- nutritional yeast. I couldn't find it at Publix or Fresh Market, but was able to order it through Amazon Prime. I'm sure it is easy to find in health food stores or at Whole Foods. It adds amazing flavor. The topping on this salad is referred to as vegan parmesan cheese. Even though there is no cheese in the ingredients, it has that nutty and savory taste of parmesan cheese. Besides being sprinkled on the salad, I think it would make a great topping for vegetable side dishes.

Shredded Kale/Spinach Salad with Nutty Parmesan

Salad Ingredients
3 cups finely chopped kale with stems and ribbing removed (I prefer baby kale or medium size leaves)
3 cups of finely chopped baby spinach
1 lemon
3 T olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 large garlic cloves
1/2 cup dried cranberries or cherries (add more if you wish)

1. Wash the kale and spinach and dry in a spinner. Chop into shreds (make sure they are dry) and put into a large bowl. Add the dried cranberries or cherries.
2. Zest half the skin of the lemon and squeeze out all the juice so you have 1/4 cup of juice.
3. Put the lemon juice in a small food processor and add the olive oil, salt, pepper, and zest.
4. Chop the two large garlic cloves and add to the lemon juice mixture. Process until all ingredients are combined into a smooth salad dressing.
5. Pour the salad dressing into the kale/spinach and cranberry mixture and stir thoroughly so that all ingredients are covered with the dressing.
6. After you make the nutty parmesan, pour this over the salad as a toppping.

Nutty Parmesan Topping Ingredients
1 cup of pecan halves
1.5 T nutritional yeast
1 T olive oil
1/8 tsp of salt

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
2. Place pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 12 minutes.
3. Place cooled, toasted pecan in a food processor and process so the pecans are the size of small peas.
4. Add in yeast, salt, and olive oil and process into coarse crumbs.
5. Sprinkle the nutty parmesan over the top of the salad and serve.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Crunchy Slaw with Bleu Cheese

The secret to the crunchiness of this slaw is the chopped snow peas. The addition of bleu cheese crumbles gives it a nice savory flavor. I could top this with grilled shrimp and eat it as a main dish! Add more or less of each veggie. This recipe makes four small servings. Double for a larger or more servings.

Crunchy Slaw with Bleu Cheese

1/2 savoy cabbage- chopped.
1/2 red onion- chopped
12 snow peas- chopped
5-6 mini sweet peppers 9 (at least 2 different colors)- chopped
2 celery stalks- chopped
5-6 sprigs of cilantro- chopped
1 oz bleu cheese- crumbled or cut into little chunks
2 T of vinegar (white, rice, or red wine)
1 T vegetable oil
1/2 t of sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

1. Put all veggies in a mixing bowl and mix together.
2. Mix last 5 ingredients together and pour into veggies. Mix together thoroughly.
3. Add bleu cheese and stir together.
4. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Homemade Potato Chips with Caramelized Onion Yogurt Dip

Instead of grabbing for that bag of store bought potato chips, try making your own in your microwave. Add my caramelized onion yogurt dip and you will have a delicious snack! Makes sure you have parchment paper, paper towels, and a mandoline or other slicing tool to uniformly thin slice the potatoes.

Caramelized Onion Yogurt Dip

1 large Vidalia onion
2 T olive oil
1/2 t sugar
1/2 tsp garlic salt
2 T water
cup of Greek plain yogurt

1. Cut onion into quarters. Slice quarters.
2. Heat olive oil in a small saute pan on medium high. Add onions and saute on medium-high for a 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low.
3. Add sugar and slowly heat onions on low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally as onions soften and brown.
4. Turn up to medium for last 5 minutes. Add 2 T water to hot pan to deglaze. Cook until water is gone and onions are a soft medium brown. Repeat if needed until onions are soft and brown.
5. Chop caramelized onions and stir into Greek yogurt. Add garlic salt. Chill to firm and serve at room temperature.

Homemade Potato Chips

2 russet baking potatoes
optional: olive oil in a spray mister

1. Scrub potatoes and leave skin on. Thinly slice potato chips with a mandoline. Place on paper towels, top and bottom, press to absorb water from potato slices.
2. Line a microwave plate with parchment paper. Place a single layer of potato slices on paper. Optional: lightly mist with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt.
3. Microwave on high for 2 or 3 minutes, depending on your microwave. Take out and check for lightly browned chips. Once they are lightly browned, turn them over and microwave for 1-2 minutes (again, depends on your microwave). They are done if they are crispy and will be lightly browned. The first batch is the test batch. Once you know how much time they need in your microwave, you can repeat those times.
4. Remove chips (they should be light and crispy) and repeat (use the same parchment paper) with a new batch. Add more salt if desired.

Makes enough chips for 4-5 servings

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Portobello Bourguignon

Beef bourguignon is a classic French dish popularized by Julia Child. This portobello mushroom version is just as good as the classic beef dish. By substituting the beef bouillon with vegetable broth, it makes an excellent vegetarian main dish. Better than Bouillon paste is one of my favorite ingredients. Try to have a jar of this available. I always stock my fridge with a jar of beef, chicken, and vegetable bouillon paste. There are several mushroom bourguignon recipes on the web that I adapted to make this dish.  Be sure to have a nice hearty red wine on hand like a French burgundy or a cabernet as it is the wine that gives the dish its unique and wonderful flavor.

Portobello Bourguignon

4 large portobello mushroom caps
3 T olive oil
1 T butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T of beef or vegetable Better than Bouillon paste
2/3 cup water
2/3 cup red wine
salt and pepper to taste
1 T tomato paste
1/3 cup finely minced flat leaf parsley

Egg noodles

* Note: If you don't have Better than Bouillon paste, add 2/3 cup of beef or vegetable broth.

1. Chop the portobellos into 4 sections then cut each section into 2 or 3 pieces so you have chunks of portobello about 1.5-2 inches.
2. Lightly heat olive oil in pan with butter until butter is melted.
3. Add rest of ingredients, stir, and simmer for about 30 min until the mushrooms are thoroughly cooked and slumped. Add more wine and a little water as liquid evaporates. Stir every 10 minutes. There should be about 1/2 cup liquid left in the pan.
4. Stir in tomato paste.
5. Sprinkle parsley on top.
6. Serve over egg noodles.

Makes 4 servings

Monday, August 24, 2015

Tangy Quinoa Salad

Quinoa is a high protein grain that originated in the Peruvian Andes. I love quinoa but most of the quinoa salads I have had were somewhat boring taste-wise. I wondered if a modified Lebansese tabbouleh recipe could be made with quinoa by substituting the bulgur wheat with quinoa. It worked and I like it much better than the traditional tabbouleh. I also modified the recipe by eliminating the chopped mint. You can certainly add it if you are a tabbouleh purist!

Tangy Quinoa Salad

1 cup dry quinoa (any kind- I like the mixed colors)
1 cup finely chopped red onion
1 cup finely diced tomatoes (about 3 med or 2 large tomatoes)
1 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1 lemon
1 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook the quinoa according to package directions (I add 1.5 cups of water, bring to a boil, then simmer with the top on for 10 minutes. I let it set of 30 min. covered, then fluff it with a fork.)

2. Mix together the first 4 ingredients.

3. Squeeze 3-4 T of lemon juice from the fresh lemon. Add to the mixture along with olive oil and S&P.  Mix thoroughly and serve as a salad or side dish.

Makes about 4-5 servings.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Grilled Pineapple, Arugula, and Red Onion Salad with Pineapple Vinaigrette

Last week I was in Mountain View, CA where I attended a pig roast in a park for the 40th birthday party of a family friend, Stacy Hare. One of her friends brought a delicious salad made with arugula and grilled pineapple. I'm not sure if my attempt to duplicate her recipe is accurate, but none the less, this salad is delicious and very attractive! The original maker of this salad also added chunks of fresh avocado. I think you could also serve this with grilled chicken or shrimp. Be sure to use a nicely ripened pineapple. For a tropical twist, you could also sprinkle toasted coconut flakes on top.

Grilled Pineapple Salad

1/2 fresh, cored and peeled pineapple
About 5 cups of washed, fresh baby arugula, packed
1/2 red onion

1. Cut the pineapple longitudinally down the middle. Lay it on the flat side and make 1 inch slices from the pineapple half. Set aside one of the slices.
2. Place the half slices of pineapple on a hot grill and grill on both sides until grill marks appear and the fruit is slightly caramelized.
3. Remove the pineapple and let cool.
4. When pineapple has cooled, cut into chunks.
5. Use a mandoline or thinly slice the red onion.
6. Add the arugula, pineapple chunks, and red onion to a bowl while you make the salad dressing.
7. Pour the salad dressing over the ingredients in the bowl and toss thoroughly to mix.

Pineapple Vinaigrette

slice of fresh pineapple
half a shallot
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar or honey
1/4 cup of white, cider, or rice vinegar
2 T of a mild oil (canola or grapeseed)

1. Chop the reserved pineapple into tiny pieces to fill 1/4 cup.
2. Add the pineapple to a food processor along with the remaining ingredients.
3. Pulse until smooth.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Banh Mi Sandwiches

Banh Mi is the classic Vietnamese street food sandwich served on a baguette with mayonaisse (influenced by the colonial French occupation of Viet Nam). I pass through the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport frequently as my connecting airport and if I have time to grab a quick lunch before my next flight, I go to The Banh Shop in Terminal D by Gate 31. They make the best Banh Mi sandwiches with a grilled chicken meatball filling. I decided to see if I could duplicate their Banh Mi and I must say, it's pretty close. Here are my step by step directions and ingredients. This is a fun sandwich to prepare in advance when you have guests. You can even get small buns and turn them into Banh Mi sliders!

Banh Mi Chicken Meatball Sandwich

First, get your veggies ready (and use a slicing mandoline if you have one):

daikon radish
bunch of cilantro
1/2 red onion (optional)
cucumber (preferably Asian or English cucs or young cuc's that are not seedy)
1/4 c rice vinegar
1/4 c sugar
1/2 c water
1/4 tsp salt

1. Daikon radishes are those huge white radishes in the Asian section. Cut about a handful of matchstick pieces about 3 inches long.
2.  Cut about 3 carrots into matchstick size pieces, same size and amount as the daikon.
3. Heat the water to dissolve the sugar. Add the vinegar and salt. Stir and pour over the daikon and carrot. This will make a sweet pickle. You can do this an hour before or even the day before (and they keep for about a week in the fridge).
4. Make paper thin slices of red onion.
5. Make long, paper thin slices of cucumber. I use a slicing mandoline on the #2 setting.

Chicken Filling:

1 lb ground chicken
2 T minced fresh ginger
1 T minced fresh garlic
1/4 c minced cilantro
1/4 c minced green scallion
1 egg
2 T sesame oil
1 T soy sauce
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
salt and pepper
Sweet Indonesian soy sauce (or any other Asian glaze you prefer)

1. Beat the egg into a bowl.
2. Add the soy sauce and sesame oil and mix
3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix all together thoroughly.

Meatballs or loaf?

I prefer to make my chicken mixture into a long loaf which I can then slice on the bias for my meat filling. If you would rather make meatballs, you can do so, just adjust the cooking time accordingly. The chicken mixture is pretty wet and hard to shape so I mix it all up and then spread it out on a sheet of wax paper so its sort of log shaped. I use the wax paper to press it together and roll it into a nicely shaped log about 2 inches wide.

I then put it in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm it up. When I take it out, I unwrap the wax paper and can easily roll the log onto a baking sheet so it keeps its shape.

I then baste it with sweet Indonesian soy sauce. You usually have to get this in an Asian market and it is so worth it. I use it a lot in Asian cooking. It is thick like molasses and comes in a tall bottle. You can find many different brands in Asian markets.  I like the ABC sweet soy sauce. If you don't have it, make any type of soy or sweet Asian glaze. Pop the log into a 400 degree oven and bake for about 35 minutes. Remove and baste again with the glaze and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until nicely browned on the outside. Remove from oven, let cool, and slice on a diagonal to make the banh mi meat filling.

Assembling the Banh Mi:

1. Use small French rolls or cut a baguette.
2. Slice through the top of the roll, open up, and scoop half of the bread out.
3. Spread mayo on the roll if you wish or make a mayo aioli. I buy sriracha mayo in the Asian market as I like a bit of heat on my sandwich.
4. Line the bottom of the roll with cucumber slices.
5. Top with the slices of chicken loaf.
6. Add the carrot, daikon, and red onion on the sides.
7. Generously top with chopped cilantro

Should make enough for 5 sandwiches.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Zesty Four Bean Salad

3-bean, 4-bean, 5-bean salads- I've tried several recipes; but this one (an original Keeley recipe) is the best! The combination of sriracha and garlic gives it a nice zip! If you prefer the non-spicy version, skip the sriracha. This is definitely a great salad to make in the summer when you can pick fresh green and wax beans from the garden, but fresh beans from the supermarket produce section work just as well.

Zesty Four Bean Salad

1 cup of cut (1.5 inch pieces) and blanched fresh green beans
1 cup of cut (1.5 inch pieces) and blanched fresh yellow wax beans
1 cup of canned white navy or cannelloni beans  (drained)
1 cup frozen, shelled edamame (thawed)
1/2 red onion sliced in paper thin half rings
2 garlic cloves, grated or finely choppped
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup canola or other mild vegetable oil
2 T sugar
1/2 tsp salt (or more to taste)
2 generous squirts of sriracha (about a tsp)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp dry mustard

1. Mix the last 7 ingredients together in a mixing bowl.
2. Add beans, garlic and parsley and mix together thoroughly.
3. Refrigerate, but serve at room temperature for maximum flavor.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Ham Quiche

This quiche is made like the classic French Quiche Lorraine, with the cheese, Brussels sprouts, and ham on the bottom and the cream sauce poured over it. The roasted Brussels sprouts give it a vibrant look and unique flavor. You can make this ahead of time, refrigerate it, and heat it up the next day (and you'll find the flavors develop more intensely this way). To save time, I use a pre-made pie crust but feel free to use your own pie crust recipe. Vegetarians- leave out the ham and add more Brussels sprouts.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Ham Quiche

pie crust
1/2 lb Brussels sprouts, quartered
1/2 cup diced ham
1/2 cup diced onion
2 T olive oil
1 cup milk
1 cup half and half
5 large eggs
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 grated Gruyere or Swiss (about 5 oz)

1. Toss Brussels sprouts with olive oil. Roast in a hot oven (425 degrees) for 2-0-25 minutes or until nicely browned, turning over once during roasting. Remove and cool. Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees.

2. Line quiche plate, deep pie plate, or round cake pan with pie crust. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 minutes and then let cool (remove weights). You can skip this step if you want but it means the bottom of your quiche will be very soft.

4. Finely chop the roasted Brussels sprouts.

4. Line the bottom of the crust with the cheese. Layer the Brussels sprouts on top of the cheese. Sprinkle the diced ham on top of the Brussels sprouts.

5. In a bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the milk, half and half, onion, salt, and nutmeg and whisk all together. Pour over the cheese mixture.

6. Set the pie plate on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes until top is lightly browned and center is just set. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting into wedges and serving.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Maple-Olive Oil Roasted Carrots

Roasting whole carrots  with a splash of olive oil, maple syrup, and a sprinkling of salt makes this an elegant sweet and savory side dish. For best results buy whole, fresh carrots with the tops attached. Arrange carrots fanned out on a plate for an attractive presentation.

Maple-Olive Oil Roasted Carrots

1 bunch of fresh carrots with tops, scrubbed and unpeeled (6-8carrots)
1 T olive oil
1 T maple syrup
pinch of salt

1. Trim carrot tops so 1 inch of top remains.
2. Whisk olive oil, maple syrup, and salt together.
3. Lay carrots flat in a pan. Pour maple/olive oil over carrots. With your hands, rub oil mixture all over carrots so they are completely covered.
4. Roast at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn carrots over and roast for another 10-15 minutes or until carrots are soft and slightly wrinkled and browned.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

This is a fantastic way to cut the calories of mac and cheese in half. You almost wouldn't know there is cauliflower in it! My version is an adapted version of Martha Stewart's original recipe. The toasty bread crumbs are optional but I would definitely add them for a nice crunch.

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

3 cups of cauliflower florets. Cut the florets into small pieces- a little bigger than the elbow macaroni.
1.5 cups of elbow macaroni
1 8 oz brick of  sharp white cheddar cheese- shredded
1 large sweet onion
3 minced fresh garlic cloves
1/4 cup reduced fat sour cream
1/4 cup low fat milk
2 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Optional: 1/3 cup of Panko bread crumbs; 1 T chopped parsley; 1 T olive oil or butter

1. Cook the pasta. Add the cauliflower to the pasta for the last 3 minutes of cooking time. Drain.
2. Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil in a large sauce pan until just soft.
3. Add the macaroni and cauliflower mixture and stir to mix.
4. Add the sour cream and milk. Stir to mix over medium heat.
5. Add the cheese, stirring the whole time until thoroughly melted.
6. Add salt and pepper to taste.
7. Pour into a casserole dish and bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until bubbly.
8. Optional: add olive oil or butter to a small skillet. Add panko crumbs and stir until toasty brown. Sprinkle toasted bread crumbs atop each serving and sprinkle parsley on top.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Sauce

For a quick dinner, I will buy a package of fresh ravioli pasta in the refrigerator section of my supermarket or at an Italian market that sells fresh pasta. This red pepper sauce is a delicious change from traditional marinara sauce and so easy to make!  For vegetarians, this is especially yummy on fresh mushroom ravioli!

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Sauce

3 large red bell peppers
3 T olive oil
1 large garlic clove, chopped
2 T of cream or half and half
1 T tomato paste
1/4 tsp salt and extra for sprinkling
Olive oil for tossing or misting
Basil (optional)
Parmesan (optional)

1. Cut bell peppers along sides so you have 3-4 flat pieces of pepper. Mist sides of peppers with olive oil or toss in bowl with some olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Arrange flat peppers on foil lined baking sheet with skin facing up. Roast at 400 degrees for 15-20 min or until peppers are soft.
2. Blister pepper skins by turning on broiler and broil for about 3 minutes or until you see the skins blacken and blister. Remove from oven, put peppers in a bowl and cover with a towel. Let peppers steam for about 15 minutes.
3. Peel blistered skins off peppers (Ok if some skin stays on).
4. Put peppers in a food processor. Add garlic and salt. Pulse several times. Add olive oil. Pulse until fairly smooth (tiny bits of pepper are fine).
5. Scrape pepper mixture into a pan. Heat on medium high, stirring cream into mixture. Then add tomato paste to thicken.
6. Serve over pasta. Optional: top with basil strips and grated parmesan.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Shrimp Ceviche

This recipe comes from our friend, Justyna, a Delta airline pilot who flies jumbo jets from Boston to London. What I like best about this ceviche is that I don't have to use raw shrimp. It is made with  cooked shrimp. Now, if you are a purist about  Peruvian ceviche, then you would want to make it with raw shrimp; but really, this is just as good and so easy to make. If you live in Maine- consider making this with the fresh Maine shrimp available during winter shrimp season. When you need to make an appetizer to take to a party, consider this ceviche- it's a winner! Thanks for the recipe, Justyna!

Shrimp Ceviche

1 lb cooked, medium shrimp
½ cup fresh squeezed lime juice (about 5 limes)
¼ of a medium sized red onion, chopped
1/3 cup fresh chopped cilantro
1 ripe avocado (peeled, pitted, cubed ino 1/2 inch cubes)
1 cup cucumber (peeled, deseeded, diced)
½ cup ketchup
1 tbls hot sauce, such as Siracha
2 tbls olive oil
½ tsp salt
Tortilla chips (preferable the Scoops kind)

1. Thaw shrimp (if frozen). Remove tails from shrimp. Cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
2. Set aside 1 T of lime juice. Marinate shrimp in the remaining lime juice in fridge for MINIMUM of 6 hours ( marinating 12-24 hours is best- you can prepare the evening before, put it in a ziploc and place in fridge overnight).   
3. Drain the shrimp & then place in a bowl along with the onion, cilantro, ketchup, hot sauce, olive oil, cukes, avocado & salt.Add 1 T lime juice that was set aside.
4. Mix is all up & spoon onto tortilla chips or use the tortilla chips in the shape of scoops (I think the brand name is Scoops).

TIP…you can do all the prep chopping the night before…onion/cilantro/cucumber….just not the avocado because it will brown…then when you drain the shrimp the next day the assembly takes less than 5 mins.

Vegetarian Pate- Walnut Tarator

Slates is a restaurant in Hallowell, Maine. They also have a small bakery that sells their baked goods, salad dressings, spreads, etc. Years ago I used to buy a spread there that looked like goose liver pate; except it was made with walnuts. It was garlicky, and delightfully piquant. I always wondered how it was made. Well, now I know! I was browsing through a cookbook, In a Nutshell-Cooking and Baking with Nuts and Seeds, that was on sale at a small, specialty food shop in Sarasota when I came across Walnut Tarator in the dips and spreads section. That was it! I bought the book and today I made a batch for our New Year's appetizer buffet. It is a simple straightforward Turkish recipe. The flavor lies in the quality of the ingredients so be sure to use a good olive oil. If you want maximum flavor, lightly toast the walnuts in the oven first before processing. Spread on crackers, slices of baguette, or serve with celery or cucumber spears.

Vegetarian Pate- Walnut Tarator

1.5 cups walnut pieces, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, chopped coarsely
1 slice day old white bread (I use a few slices of an old baguette)
3 T red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

1. In a food processor, pulse the walnuts and garlic until finely chopped (15-20 seconds).
2. Meanwhile, place bread in a bowl and barely cover with water. After a few minutes the bread will absorb the water and be spongy. Drain off the water and squeeze the bread to remove any excess water.
3. Add the soaked bread to the walnut mixture and pulse on and off for about 30 seconds until very smooth.
4. Add the vinegar and pulse for about 10-15 more seconds. Scrape down sides of food processor bowl.
5. Add salt and pepper. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and pulse. The tarator will thicken as the olive oil emulsifies with the walnut paste. Add more olive oil if needed. The tarator should be thick- the consistency of pate.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Creamy Celery Soup

Celery is one of my favorite vegetables to grow in our garden. Fresh picked dark green celery is so much better than the blanched tasteless supermarket celery. Today I made an adaptation of Cream of Celery Soup. Since I like chunky things in my soup, I combined a cream soup technique with lots of chopped celery. The flavor is heavenly!

Creamy Celery Soup

5 cups of chopped celery
6 medium red or white skinned potatoes, diced (skins on or off-I leave mine on)
1 large onion, chopped
3 T butter
3 cups chicken broth
1 tsp celery salt
1/2 cup half and half cream
Salt and pepper to taste

1.Saute onion in butter until just soft.
2. Add 2 cups of the celery, potatoes, celery salt, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are really soft.
3. Use an immersion blender or potato masher to blend the mixture until smooth and creamy. There will be some chunks of potato skin and celery threads- that's OK.
4. Put remaining celery in a saucepan and just barely cover with water. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and "stew" the celery for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.
5. Pour stewed chopped celery into creamy celery mixture. Add half and half and stir until completely mixed. Add salt and pepper to taste (I use white pepper).

Makes about 5-6  1 cup servings.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Corn, Grilled Sweet Pepper, and Kale Chowder

August is the month when Andy's sweet corn (County Fair farm stand down the road from my house in Maine) is the best! We have some variation of sweet corn at our house almost daily! I have made a variety of corn chowders and this one is particularly sweet and tasty. I think the addition of grilled sweet peppers made this an especially tasty chowder. I used long, orange/yellow sweet peppers I bought at Chase's Farm Stand down in Berwick, ME when I returned from Dover, NH last week. I love that farm stand! Well, I love any farm stand. Whenever I am traveling the back roads and come upon a farm stand, I just can't resist a stop! As for the peppers, you can use red bell peppers or those long, green Italian grilling peppers. Any pepper with a sweet taste will do. Put your peppers on the grill and heat them until they blister on all sides. I then put them in a bowl, covered with a cloth, to steam a bit and soften further. I keep a stash of these grilled peppers in my fridge all summer.  I will buy several, grill them, and keep them in a covered container for 2 weeks. I use them on sandwiches, salads, sauces, omelets, etc. Today, as I was contemplating what type of corn chowder to make, I went right for the sweet, grilled peppers! I also put in some chopped kale. Kale is such a healthy vegetable. I'm not crazy about it by itself but anywhere I can put in some kale, I will so that I can reap its health benefits. As far as herbs- I prefer thyme in my chowder but rosemary or chives would be good too. As for the corn- a secret to making good corn chowder is to cut the kernels off as close to the cob as you can. That way, much of the corn milk will seep into the chowder rather than being discarded with the cob. So, here is my new chowder creation- hope you like it as much as I do!


Corn, Grilled Sweet Pepper, and Kale Chowder

4 ears of fresh sweet corn, cut off the cob
5 medium red skinned potatoes, diced
3 grilled sweet peppers, seeded and diced
1 large sweet onion
3 leaves of kale, remove ribbing and chop finely
1 cup chicken stock (I use one cup water and add a T of Chicken Better than Bouillon paste)
2 cups milk or enough to just barely cover the ingredients.
2 T butter or olive oil
1/2 tsp of thyme, 1 T of chives, or 1/4 tsp rosemary
salt and pepper to taste

1. Boil potatoes until soft and drain.
2. Meanwhile, saute onion in olive oil or butter until softened. Add corn, peppers, and chicken stock and simmer for about 5 minutes.
3. Add potatoes and kale and pour in milk until it just covers all the veggies. (If you prefer it milkier, you can add more milk. I prefer a chunky chowder.)
4. Add herbs- either thyme, chives or rosemary or skip if you prefer no herbs.
5. Simmer for about 5 more minutes. Let chowder set at room temperature for 1 hour, then place in fridge.
6. This recipe makes 5-6 bowls of chowder.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Lobster-Corn Cakes

If you like crab cakes you will love these lobster cakes- fresh lobster combined with fresh farm-picked sweet corn served atop a chopped salad. This is dish #4 of my summer "Lobster 12 Ways" challenge (#1 was lobster pad thai, #2 was lobster tacos, and #3 was lobster sliders). My technique for keeping the shape of the lobster cake is to bake them first, and then finish them off in melted butter in a skillet. This recipe makes 4-5 lobster cakes, depending on how large you make them. My lobster cakes are about 3.5 inches wide and 1.5 inches thick.

Lobster-Corn Cakes

2 1lb lobsters (or about 6 oz lobster meat)
2 T finely minced red bell pepper
2 T finely minced green pepper
2 T finely minced red onion
2 T finely minced celery
1/2 ear of corn kernels, cooked
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
1 egg
1/2 T mayo
1/2 T Old Bay Seasoning
splash of Worcestershire
salt and pepper to taste
2 T butter

1. Cut lobster into small chunks of various sizes from 1/2 inch to an inch.
2. Beat egg. Add mayo, Worcestershire, Old Bay, and S&P and mix throughly.
3. Add veggies and lobster to egg mixture and mix thoroughly.
4. Add bread crumbs and mix all thoroughly.
5. Shape into patty cakes and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 min.
6. Melt butter in skillet. Transfer partially cooked lobster to skillet. Sear on both sides until browned and crispy on top.
7. Serve as is or atop a chopped salad.