Monday, May 25, 2020

Tangy Summer Slaw

People either love or hate cole slaw. Perhaps those who hate it have only had the soggy, tasteless kind they mass produce in a deli. Perhaps the idea of mayonnaise on raw cabbage turns you off? I prefer coleslaw without mayonnaise. Of all the versions of "slaw" I have made, this one is my favorite and just might turn you on to cole slaw! Cool, fresh, crunchy, and perfect for summer. For best results, use the medium-thin blade on a mandolin to sliver the veggies. Optional: Add slivered green or red bell pepper, and radishes. If you prefer more color, substitute red cabbage for half the green cabbage.

This is one of several "slaw" recipes I have on this site. To see others, choose the "salad" label on the right.

Tangy Summer Slaw

1/2 head of green cabbage- thinly slivered with a mandolin (or purchase already chopped)
1/4 of a red onion, thinly slivered
1 carrot- cut into thin matchsticks
1 stalk of celery, sliced paper thin
1/4 cup canola or other mild vegetable oil
1/3 cup apple cider (or rice) vinegar
1.5 T sugar
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp celery seed
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

1. Mix all the veggies together in a bowl
2. Combine "dressing" ingredients in a small bowl and mix thoroughly.
3. Pour dressing over veggies and mix together.

Makes about 6 servings, This will keep in the fridge for a few days.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

No Bake Figgy Bites

These are like fig newtons without the newton! I love figs and this snack is so easy to make. Super healthy too, no sugar, just the natural sweetness of figs- omega 3 fats, a dose of protein, and excellent source of fiber, potassium, and B vitamins. I get my dried figs from Costco. I made this batch without coconut. Next time, I think I will add 1/4 cup of shredded coconut.

No Bake Figgy Bites

3 cups chopped, dried figs (fill cup but don't pack down)
1 cup walnut halves or pieces
1/4 flaxseed meal (or oatmeal oats)
1 T vanilla
1/4 tsp salt

1. Cut the stems off the dried figs and chop into small pieces. Put in a bowl.
2. Add walnuts, flaxseed meal, vanilla, and salt to the bowl and mix all thoroughly.
3. Taking a small batch at a time, pulse it in your food processor until finely chopped.
4. Roll into small balls in your hands (a little smaller than a ping pong ball). The oil from the walnuts helps bind the balls.

These keep in an airtight container at room temp or in the fridge for up to 7 days. Makes about 2 dozen.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Pimento Cheese Toast

Pimiento Cheese Toast

I love Southern pimiento cheese spread on sandwiches but sometimes it has too much mayonnaise in it for my taste. The combination of just cheese and pimiento is what I like. This is a super easy open faced sandwich to make for lunch. All you need is 3 ingredients: bread, cheese slices (preferably cheddar), and a jar of pimientos. If you have a good, crusty artisan bread, it's even better!

1. Lightly toast the bread until it just begins to brown.
2. Place a slice of cheese on top of the toast.
3. Put drained diced or sliced pimientos on top of cheese.
4. Place under broiler until cheese melts. Watch closely so the toast doesn't burn!

Easy, peasy and so delicious!

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Rosemary Flatbread Crackers

Rosemary Flatbread Crackers

Making your own crackers is so easy with this recipe. All you need to go with this recipe is a good cheese and some fruit for a cheese, crackers, and fruit plate! This recipe makes about 2 1/2 dozen medium size crackers.

1 3/4 cup of flour
1 T of chopped rosemary (preferably fresh) and some extra set aside
1 t of baking powder
3/4 tsp of salt
1/2 cup of water
1/3 cup of olive oil
Sea salt (preferably the flaky kind)

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
2. Mix dry ingredients together, creating a well in the middle. Pour in water and olive oil and mix thoroughly with your hands, kneading and squeezing the dough. Add a bit more water if some of the mixture is too crumbly.
3. Divide into smaller balls.
4. Roll a ball on parchment paper so it is as thin as you can get it. Dough rolls nicely- not sticky. Trim around the parchment paper and place dough on parchment on a baking sheet, leaving room for the other 2. If you prefer long flatbread strips, trim the flattened dough and cut into long rectangles.
5. Repeat with other balls.
6. Lightly brush tops with olive oil or spray with an oil spritzer.
7. Sprinkle sea salt on top along with some extra rosemary on top.
8. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Edges should be slightly browned. Leave in longer if you want a more toasty, browned flatbread.
9. Remove from oven and let cool. When cooled, break into crackers. Flatbread should be nice and crisp.
10. To keep crispness- store in an airtight container or zip lock bag, with as much air removed as possible.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Marco Polo Shrimp

This is another one of my mother's quick dinner recipes that I always loved. She called it Shrimp Cantonese but I decided to rename it because it uses Italian salad dressing instead of soy sauce. Marco Polo was an Italian explorer who traveled the Silk Road. He brought noodles back to Italy which became pasta. So I named this Marco Polo shrimp because of the Italian dressing and the Chinese influence of stir fry, water chestnuts, and rice- an Italian/Chinese fusion! If you have frozen shrimp in your freezer, this is a quick dinner to throw together. The flavor from the zesty Italian dressing is delicious and somehow make sit taste even better the next day as leftovers. Optional: throw in some frozen peas at step 3.

12 cooked jumbo shrimp cut in half or 24 medium size shrimp (add more if you wish)
2 cups cooked rice, brown or white
1large red bell pepper
1/2 large green pepper
1/2 large yellow bell pepper
1 large onion
1 can sliced or diced water chestnuts, drained
1/3 cup bottled Zesty Italian salad dressing
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Slice peppers and onions into strips. Saute in salad dressing until slightly soft.
2. Add shrimp and water chestnuts and saute with veggies for one minute.
3. Add rice and stir into mixture thoroughly on low heat. Add a splash of additional salad dressing if needed. Continue stirring and heating for 2-3 more minutes.

This recipe feeds 4. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Roasted Cauliflower Bolognese Sauce

One of the challenges of stay at home cooking during this pandemic is to find substitutes for things I don't have on hand since I am avoiding going to the grocery store unless absolutely necessary. Ordinarily I would make my classic bolognese sauce from scratch but I didn't have any ground beef or plum tomatoes. However, I did have a head of purple cauliflower and a jar of marinara sauce. Using these substitutions, I came up with this recipe that was absolutely delicious and a fabulous vegetarian or vegan option, depending on the pasta you use. Roasting the cauliflower gives it a "meaty" taste and texture. This sauce is so rich and good I could practically eat it by the spoonful, without the pasta! Even if you are not a vegan or vegetarian, try it on one of your Meatless Mondays!

Roasted Cauliflower Bolognese Sauce

1 head of cauliflower (purple, yellow, or white)
4 T of olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 24 oz jar of marinara sauce with basil (or your favorite jarred spaghetti sauce)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Chop the cauliflower into medium size florets. Place in a bowl and toss with 2 T of olive oil so florets are thoroughly coated.
2. Roast at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes, turning florets over halfway through. They should be browned but not burned. (If available, line your baking sheet with parchment paper.)
3. Remove from oven and cool. When cool enough to handle chop the cauliflower into smaller pieces about the size of crumbled ground beef.
4. Saute chopped onion and diced carrot in 2 T olive oil until slightly softened. Add garlic and cauliflower and saute for another minute. Optional: Add chopped basil or red pepper flakes for a spicier version
5. Pour jar of marinara over top, mix thoroughly and simmer on low for about 30 minutes or until sauce is nicely thickened.
6. Serve over spaghetti, spiralized veggies, or your favorite pasta.
7. Optional: Top with grated cheese or shredded mozzarella

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Asparagus-Caramelized Onion-Tomato Quiche with a Sweet Potato Crust

This is a really easy quiche to make - more like a cheese pie than a traditional quiche. I got this idea from Lynn Farrin who posted a recipe for a feta-spinach quiche with a sweet potato crust.  I used asparagus and caramelized onions for the filling but you could substitute broccoli, ham, bacon, chopped spinach, chopped kale, mushrooms, fiddleheads, artichokes, or other combinations. This recipe is very flexible- use what you have. Just be sure to cook the veggies first to get rid of some of the water.  You can skip the tomatoes but I think they make a pretty addition to the top and add additional flavor. If you don't like tomatoes, try green  or red pepper rings on top.  Sharp cheddar is best but you can also substitute half the cheddar cheese with grated Swiss or gouda. The layered sweet potatoes caramelize as the quiche cooks, combining the sweet flavor of the crust with the savory flavor of the filling. Be aware that the sweet potatoes slump down along the sides of your one pan as they cook, so make sure they are slightly above the filling before baking.

Asparagus-Caramelized Onion-Tomato Quiche with a Sweet Potato Crust

2 sweet potatoes
1/2 T olive or vegetable oil
1 large cooked onion, sliced and caramelized over low heat
6-7 stalks of asparagus, ends trimmed, and chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 tomato
2 cherry or grape tomatoes (optional)
4 eggs
1 cup of milk
2 cups grated cheddar cheese (or combination of cheddar with another cheese)
Salt and pepper to taste
pinch of nutmeg or thyme (optional)
pinch of sugar
butter, oil, shortening, or cooking spray to grease the pie pan

Preparing the Crust
1. Peel the sweet potatoes.
2. Using a mandolin (watch those fingers!) or sharp knife, slice the sweet potatoes into 1/8 inch thick slices. If you have really large, fat sweet potatoes, cut them longitudinally first and make half moon slices. Cut a straight bottom on the slices you plan to use to line the sides of the pan.
3. Place the slices in a bowl and toss thoroughly with the olive oil. Alternatively, if you have an oil mister, spray the slices after you line the pan.
4. Grease a nine inch pie plate or quiche dish with oil, butter, shortening or spray with cooking spray to prevent the sweet potatoes from sticking.
5. Layer the sweet potatoes, slightly overlapping on the bottom. Take the straight edged slices and line the sides, slightly overlapping as seen on the photo above.
6. Place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes then remove. The crust will finish cooking after you add the filling.

Preparing the Filling
1. If you are using the caramelized onion, spread the onion onto the bottom of the sweet potato crust.
2. Boil the asparagus until slightly soft (about 4 minutes- do not overcook), Drain
3. Beat the eggs and add the milk and beat to mix. Add salt and pepper. Optional: Add nutmeg or thyme. Add cheese and thoroughly mix together.
4. Evenly distribute cooked asparagus on top of caramelized onions (or on top of potatoes if you skip the onions).
5. Pour cheese-egg-milk mixture over asparagus.
6. Optional: Slice a tomato and place slices gently so they rest on top. For a "flower effect" Use half slices along the sides. I also added a starburst of sliced cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle lightly with sugar to sweeten and caramelize the tomatoes as the cook.
7. Bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until quiche is nicely browned on top. The potatoes will slump down and pull away from the sides, forming a ring of caramelization along the edge.
8. Let sit for 10 minutes or more until serving or until it is slightly at room temperature.

Makes about 6-8 servings

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Tomato Mac & Cheese

This is the easiest mac & cheese recipe that uses only 3 ingredients and takes 10 minutes to put together. This was my mother's mac & cheese recipe. It is my favorite comfort food that I have been making for my family for decades, especially on those nights when you just don't feel like cooking. I always keep cans of stewed tomatoes and a box of elbow macaroni in my pantry, and a block of cheddar cheese in the fridge as standby for this recipe, which my husband (who does not cook) now makes when I am away. The cheese melts into the tomato juices which are absorbed into the elbow macaroni.  For an extra tasty version, use a high quality English sharp cheddar cheese or a hard NY extra sharp cheddar- the kind that is hard and crumbly and sometimes has those little crystals in it. I buy a block of white imported English cheddar at Costco's that I use for this recipe. Aside from bringing back English cheddar from a trip to London or going to a specialty cheese store, this is the best cheddar I have found in the supermarket sections. This recipe makes enough for 4-5 people - and it's also really good reheated as leftovers!

Tomato Mac and Cheese

3/4 of a 1 pound box of elbow macaroni
2  14.5 oz cans of stewed tomatoes
10 oz of cheddar cheese (you can add even more cheese for an extra cheesy version)
Salt and pepper to taste (at least 1 tsp salt)

1. Cook and drain macaroni one minute less than instructed on the box.
2. Pour stewed tomatoes, with juice, into a large mixing bowl.
3. Using your hands, break up the tomatoes into smaller pieces (thirds or quarters suffice).
4. Cut cheddar into cubes (about 1 inch).
5. Stir cheddar cubes into tomatoes. Add macaroni and stir thoroughly until pasta is covered with tomato juice and cheese is distributed evenly.
6. Pour into a baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and the top of the macaroni is slightly browned.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken Kebobs

Salty, sweet, and savory- these chicken kebobs are full of flavor. This marinade makes enough for four boneless chicken breasts (about 6 kebobs). I bought my lemongrass at an Asian market in Fort Myers (Leaf Asian Market) but you may be able to find it paste form in the refrigerated herb section in your supermarket. I grew lemongrass in my Maine herb garden. Think I will try growing it at our Rhode Island house this summer.  Lemongrass is a very tough stalk. To use it, you only use the white part that is in the thick, bottom part of the stem as seen below. Peel off the outer layer of the stalk, and chop the rest. Oh, it smells so lemony!

Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken Kebobs

1/4 cup of fresh squeezed lime juice (and an extra wedge for each plate)
3 T of fish sauce (don't be repelled by the smell, mixed with the ingredients it adds so much flavor!)
2 T of brown sugar (or maple syrup)
2 T vegetable oil
1 T soy sauce
4 garlic cloves
2 stalks of lemongrass (use only white part at bottom)
4 boneless half chicken breasts

1. Put all the ingredients, except for the chicken, in a food processor. Thoroughly mix until you get a liquid marinade.

2. Cut chicken breasts into chunks (about 2 inches). Pour marinade over chicken and let it soak in the marinade for 1 to 2 hours.

3. Remove from marinade. Thread on skewers and grill for about 15 min, turning to make sure all the sides are grilled.

4. Serve with a slice of lime to squeeze over the kebobs.

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.