Saturday, June 15, 2019

British Pub Style Chicken Curry

There are Indian curries, South African curries, Malaysian curries, Thai curries, and just about any cuisine influenced by the Indian Subcontinent has a curry. The best three chicken curries I ever had were 1) at an Irish pub in Punta Gorda, Florida, 2) a Balti curry in Birmingham, England, and 3) a funky little cafe in Bocas del Toro, Panama. British pub style chicken curries are by far my favorite. If you want that penultimate comfort food flavor, don't skip the butter! This is my version of the British pub style curry, similar to an Indian butter chicken. Classic British pub style chicken curry has carrots and onions as the vegetable. I added peas for color. This is the high calorie version but you could cut calories by using milk, instead of half n half or light cream. Adding the chutney at the end is optional. It adds a touch of sweetness. This recipe feeds about 4 people, double the recipe for larger portions.

British Pub Style Chicken Curry

2 boneless chicken breasts
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup of frozen peas, thawed
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
1 T tomato paste
2 T butter
1 T mild curry powder
1.5 T flour
1/2 tsp cumin
1 cup hot chicken stock
1/2 cup half n half or light cream
salt and pepper to taste
1 T chutney (optional)

1. Cut chicken into small cubes. Sautés in oil for about 4 minutes until chicken turns white on all sides.
2. Add carrots and onion and continue to sauté on medium heat until onions are softened, about 5 minutes
3. Turn off heat. Add tomato paste and stir until distributed throughout.
4. Add curry powder, flour, and cumin and stir until everything is coated.
5. Add chicken stock and butter, stir until everything is mixed, and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer on low for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Add cream and simmer an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add peas during the last 2 minutes.
7. Right before serving, stir in chutney (optional)

Serve over rice of egg noodles.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Cauliflower Ceviche

Vegan and vegetarian friends, if you are a fan of ceviche- you will love this veggie version! Ceviche is the national dish of Peru, made with fresh fish. The acidity of the lime juice "cooks" the fish. This version used cauliflower instead of fin fish, shrimp, or shellfish. This recipe makes a small batch for 5-6 people. Double it, using a whole head of cauliflower for a large party. I also think it would be pretty with purple cauliflower.

Cauliflower Ceviche 

1/2 head cauliflower
1/2 red onion
1/2 bunch of cilantro
12 cherry tomatoes
1/4 tsp salt or more to taste
Squirt of sriracha

1. Chop cauliflower into small florets and pieces. Parboil for about 5 minutes to soften then chill in ice water. Drain after ice melts. Cut into smaller pieces if necessary.
2. Thinly slice onion into half moon paper-thin slivers.
3. Cut cherry tomatoes into quarters.
4. Mince cilantro until it fills about 1/3 cup.
5. Mix all of the above together with salt and a squirt of sriracha
6. Squeeze juice out of all the limes and pour into veggie mixture, stirring until thoroughly mixed.
7. Marinate for at least 3 hours. Do not drain.

Garnish with a wedge of lime. Serve on tortilla chips or tortilla scoops

Monday, November 19, 2018

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

I'm in mushroom heaven with this soup! This recipe is an adaptation of an old Moosewood Cookbook Recipe. It is thick, creamy, super pretty and has that wonderful umami flavor. You can make a vegan version by using vegetable broth, almond or other plant-based milk, and skip the sour cream.

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

2 cups diced onions
1 lb chopped fresh mushrooms
4 T of olive oil (or butter)
1 T fresh chopped dill (or 2 tsp dried dill)
1 T Hungarian Sweet Paprika (if you don't have Hungarian, be sure to use a fresh, good paprika)
1T soy sauce
2 cups chicken or veggie broth
1 cup milk
4 T flour
2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
salt and ground pepper to taste
Optional: chopped parsley

1. Saute onions over medium heat in olive oil until just softened. Add chopped mushrooms and saute until mushrooms are slumped (5-10 minutes).
2. Add dill, soy sauce, broth, and paprika- stir thoroughly. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Put flour in a small bowl. Add 1/3 of the milk and whisk. Add remaining milk slowly while whisking.
4. Pour flour/milk mixture into soup, stir to mix thoroughly. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly as it comes to a boil, then reduce heat to low, simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Soup should thicken.
5. Stir in lemon juice, salt and pepper, and sour cream (or yogurt) and stir to mix thoroughly over low heat for a few minutes.
6. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for an hour so flavors can develop. Refrigerate or reheat to serve.
7. Optional- sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley.

Makes about 4-5 servings

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Tamaya's Margarita de Miel (Lavender-Honey)

   The Tamaya Hotel and Spa, Albuquerque, NM

Best craft tequila- Dobel!

                                          Making the lavender-honey simple syrup

Last week I stayed at the Hyatt Tamaya Hotel and Spa in the high desert foothills of Albuquerque. Upon check in they gave us one of these margaritas made with the lavender grown in New Mexico and the honey harvested from the Tamaya's own hives. It was absolutely the smoothest margarita I ever tasted and the hint of lavender was sublime! My Iowa friend, Maureen, and I managed to cajole the front desk people into additional margaritas during our stay! While in the Albuquerque airport I managed to find some culinary lavender from the Los Poblanos Lavender Shop and set to making the two simple syrups this afternoon. Believe me, the preparation involved in making the simple syrups was worth it. Best margarita I ever made!

Tamaya's Margarita de Miel

2 oz lavender-honey simple syrup (see recipe below)
2 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
1 1/4 oz silver tequila 
1/4 oz lime syrup 9see recipe below)
Slice of lime

Fill shaker with ice.  Add all ingredients and shake. Rub rim of glass with lime and dip in salt. Fill glass halfway with ice. Pour shaken margarita into glass. Garnish with a lime twist.

Lavender-Honey Simple Syrup

1 cup water
1 T lavender petals (culinary lavender)
1 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar

Bring water and lavender to a boil in a small saucepan. Add sugar and honey. Stir constantly until sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temp. Strain out the lavender petals and refrigerate. Syrup will be a deep golden color.

 Lime Simple Syrup

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
Zest of 2 limes

Combine sugar, water, and lime zest in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool to room temp. Strain and refrigerate. Keeps up to 2 months.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Kohlrabi-Apple Citrus Slaw

Kohlrabi-Apple Citrus Slaw

Kohlrabi is one of those overlooked, underutilized vegetables. It has a fabulous crunchy texture and a flavor somewhere between a cabbage and broccoli. Occasionally I can find purple kohlrabi at the farmer's market. This is one of my favorite "slaws" that keeps well in the fridge for up to 3 days. The acid from the lime and orange juice substitute for vinegar.  If you are looking for a flavorful, refreshing salad, this is it! This recipe makes about 6-8 servings.

2 kohlrabi bulbs, peeled
2 apples, preferably super crispy ones like Honeycrisp
3-4 scallions, chopped
2 T chopped cilantro
1 lime
1 orange
1/2 T honey (or sugar)

1. Slice the kohlrabi and apples into 3 inch long matchsticks and place in a bowl.
2. Zest the lime and the orange into the bowl. Add the scallions and cilantro.
3. In a small bowl, squeeze the juice from the lime and half the orange. Mix in the honey (or sugar).
4. Pour over salad mixture and toss thoroughly to mix.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Gumbo Chili

Gumbo Chili

I was browsing through a food magazine and found a recipe for Firehouse Chili Gumbo. The combination of ingredients looked like it would add an interesting flavor to the chili but where was the okra? While this recipe called for a brown roux, a gumbo isn't a gumbo without okra! So I adapted it and also added beans and Wow! It turned out to be one of the most flavorful chilis I have ever made and the okra is a nice thickener. I will definitely make this again.  I think a vegan version of this recipe would work by increasing the beans. This version of my adapted recipe makes about 5-6 servings.

1.5 lbs ground beef
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or a couple squirts of Sriracha
3 T chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
3 T steak sauce
2 T Worcestershire sauce
2 T olive or other vegetable oil
1 14oz can of diced tomatoes
1 large onion, chopped,
1 green pepper, chopped
1/2 yellow pepper, chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup frozen, chopped okra (or use fresh okra if available)
2 cups of regular Bloody Mary mix
1/2 cup ketchup
1 16 oz can kidney beans
1  6 oz can tomato paste
1 T apple cider vinegar

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet and drain off fat.
2. In a Dutch oven or large pot, add the next 10 ingredients and stir.
3. Add the undrained can or tomatoes and stir together and heat gently for a few minutes.
Add chopped veggies through garlic and gently heat for about 10 minutes or until onions and peppers are softened.
4. Add okra, Bloody Mary mix, ketchup, and kidney beans and simmer on low for about 40 minutes. Add more Bloody Mary mix if it is too thick
5. Stir in tomato paste to thicken and add apple cider vinegar.
6. Let set for at least an hour to let flavors fully develop.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Sourdough Pumpkin-Blueberry Bread

Sourdough Pumpkin-Blueberry Bread

I have a batch of sourdough starter I brought back from Alaska and have been feeding and maintaining it for several months.

Pumpkin bread is a classic holiday treat. I used King Arthur Flour's Sourdough Pumpkin Spice recipe for my holiday version, omitting the walnuts and raisins and adding 1/2 cup of blueberries instead. It was moist, light, and had that sourdough tang! Here is the King Arthur's recipe I adapted:

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Cuban Camarones in Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

In 2014 I led a trip to Cuba with 22 other friends and colleagues. I had this dish at one of the famous Havana restaurants, La Bodeguita del Medio, where patrons sign the walls and leave messages (which we did!). It is also said to be the birthplace of the mojito and the bar was frequented by Ernest Hemingway. Great food, good music and super friendly musicians, fun and festive atmosphere... I had this delicious Cuban shrimp dish and after toying with a few versions, I think I figured it out. Here is my version using Florida gulf shrimp (see photo above).

1 lb fresh raw shrimp, peeled
1 12 oz jar of roasted red peppers
2 cups cooked rice
1 small onion, diced,
2 large
garlic cloves
1 green pepper, cut into long, thin slices
3 T olive oil
1/3 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste
Optional: Dash of red pepper or Sriracha
Optional: Cilantro or parsley

1. Saute onion and green pepper in olive oil over medium-high heat until they just begin to soften.
2. Pour off half the liquid in the jar of roasted peppers. Pour the rest of the jar, remaining liquid and peppers, and the garlic into a food processor and pulse until you get a smooth puree.
4. Add pepper puree to saute pan, stir in tomato sauce and tomato paste bring to a full simmer.
5. Add shrimp and cook while stirring for about 3 minutes or until shrimp are cooked (If shrimp are wet, dry shrimp with a towel before cooking). Add more or less tomato paste to thicken the sauce.
6. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Optional: Stir in hot pepper sauce.
7. Serve over rice.
8. Optional: Top with minced parsley or cilantro.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Rotisserie Chicken Tortilla Soup

It's been raining all day in Southwest Florida. A perfect day for chicken tortilla soup! My version of of this Mexican classic is very chunky and made with a cooked, seasoned rotisserie chicken (I buy the Mojo seasoned). It is so hearty, I serve it as the main meal. Make sure you have fresh limes to squeeze over the soup when you serve it. The stock from the chicken carcass is combined with chicken bouillon to make a rich broth. Better than Bouillon is the best. I use this paste in many soups and sauces. It is a "must have" to keep in your refrigerator!

P.S. This can also be made with leftover Thanksgiving turkey!

Rotisserie Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 cooked rotisserie chicken
3 large carrots
1 large stalk of celery
1 large Vidalia onion
1 handful or parsley sprigs
3 fresh ears of corn (or a can of corn)
1/2 poblano pepper (skip if you don't want the soup to be spicy)
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 green pepper
4 or 5 scallions, with last 1/4 of tops cut off
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
3 T olive oil
1 can of black beans
1 can of stewed tomatoes
3-4 t of Better than Bouillon paste (chicken flavored)
3 T chili powder
2 T cumin
1 t salt
1 t pepper
2 bay leaves
Bunch of cilantro
Ripe avocado
Corn tortilla or tortilla chips

First make the stock:
1. Remove meat from rotisseries chicken in about 1 inch chunks. Set meat aside.
2. Put chicken carcass and skin in a pot and add water until it is about 3/4 covered.
3. Cut one of the carrots and celery into chunks and add to the pot. Cut onion in half and set half aside. Cut the other half in half (so you have 2 quarters) and place in pot.
4. Add bay leaves and parsley sprigs.
5. Bring pot to a boil, turn down heat to a gentle simmer and simmer for 1 hour. After one hour, let pot stand at room temp for one hour. Then drain into a bowl or pot. Pick any additional chicken off the carcass to add to the soup, then discard the carcass and veggies. Place the stock in the fridge for about an hour for the fat to rise and solidify on the top. You might find it has a gelatin consistency because of the collagen in the bones. That's good!  It means it's extra rich and healthy and it will liquify when heated. Skim the fat off the surface once the fat rises and hardens on the top.

The soup:
1. In a soup pot or Dutch oven, add olive oil.
2. Cut kernels off corn and add to olive oil in pot. (If using canned or frozen corn, add at step #
3. Chop the half onion that was set aside and add to pot.
4. Cut poblano, red, and green peppers into 2 by .25 inch thin strips. Add to pot.
5. Chop remaining carrots and scallions and add to pot.
5. Saute on medium heat until veggies are slightly soft.
6. Add chopped garlic and stewed tomatoes with juice, breaking up the tomatoes with your hands into small pieces.
7. Add chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper.
8. Add 3-4 cups of water until water just covers veggies.
9. Add 1 t of Better than Bouillon for each cup of water you added.
10. Bring to a boil, lower to a gentle simmer, and simmer for 30 minutes.
11. Taste test to determine whether to add more chili powder or bouillon, depending on your preference.
12. Add chicken, black beans, and stock from the rotisserie chicken carcass. Set aside until serving.

When ready to serve, heat soup at a gentle simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in about 1/3 cup chopped cilantro. Cut tortilla into strips and fry in oil until crispy and drain or buy them in strips in the salad dressing/croutons section in your supermarket. When ready to serve, top soup with tortilla strips (or crushed chips), diced fresh avocado, and a generous squeeze of fresh lime juice.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Butternut, Sweet Potato, and Red Lentil Soup

This soup is a slow-cooker adaptation of a vegan stew from the Oh She Glows Vegan Food Blog,  where I go to get good vegan recipes. I am not a vegan or vegetarian but am trying to transition to a more plant-based diet and incorporate anti-inflammatory ingredients like turmeric.   I added chicken broth as it tends to be more flavorful than vegetable broth. If you want to keep it vegan or vegetarian, substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth. This is a very flavorful soup and goes well with a nice crusty bread.

Butternut, Sweet Potato, and Red Lentil Soup

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 large onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup dried red lentils (they are really orange), rinsed
small bag of baby spinach, rinsed
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
1 14 oz can of light coconut milk
2 T olive oil
3 cups chicken broth
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
squirt of sriracha
tsp salt
pepper to taste
1 1/2 T of apple cider vinegar

1. Add all ingredients to your slow cooker and mix thoroughly.
2. Set slow cooker for 6 hours.
3. After 6 hours, stir in apple cider vinegar.
4. With an immersion blender, blend about half the soup to thicken (or blend half slightly in a blender and pour back in and stir).
5. Optional: Top with cilantro before serving.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Mulligatawny "Stoup"

"Soup for You!" I recently visited my son in Dover, NH for a photo session. We stopped at a nice little soup and sandwich place (Loaf and Ladle) near his studio to grab some lunch. The soup of the day was Mulligatawny. I hadn't had Mulligatawny in ages and was excited to see it on the menu.  I always loved this soup which has a British-South Indian origin. The combination of curry, chicken, veggies, rice, and apples gives it a sweet and savory flavor. I reminded myself that I had to make this soup when I got home. My version is more of a "stoup" (Rachel Ray's term for a cross between soup and stew). It is very thick and hearty- you can practically eat it with a fork. The trick is to chop the chicken, veggies, and apples so they are all the same size. Get some nice crusty bread for dipping and you have a full meal. Delicious! I think the Soup Man on Seinfeld would approve!

Mulligatawny Soup- Chunky Version

2 chicken breasts
4 celery stalks
4 carrots
1 large yellow onion
2 Granny Smith apples
3 T of butter or olive oil
1 T of flour
2 T of curry powder
6 cups chicken broth (a rich chicken stock is best)
1 c cooked rice
1/4 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 c of half and half or cream or coconut milk
salt to taste

1. Cook the rice and set aside.
2. Dice chicken breasts into small pieces, about 1/2 inch. Saute chicken in a skillet until just barely cooked. Set aside.
3. Put butter or olive oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot.
4. Dice onion, celery, and carrot (same size pieces as chicken). Put in pot and saute in butter or oil for about 3 minutes until barely soft. Turn off heat and sprinkle flour over veggie mixture. Stir thoroughly to mix. Then add curry powder and stir thoroughly to mix. Turn heat back on and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes on medium heat.
5. Add chicken, thyme, and pepper, and pour in chicken broth. Simmer for 30 minutes.
6. While soup is simmering, dice apple so pieces are same size as other ingredients.
7. After soup has simmered for 30 minutes, add apples and rice and simmer for 10 more minutes.
8. Turn off heat and stir in half and half or cream (I prefer coconut milk). Serve immediately or refrigerate for later. Flavors will develop and become even more intense as soup rests.

This recipe makes about 8 servings.

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.