in the kitchen

in the kitchen

Monday, September 18, 2017

Tomato Pesto Salad

Late season tomatoes are almost gone- so sad to wait until next year for off the vine fresh 'maters. Enjoy one or two for lunch with this recipe that utilizes the last of your fresh basil as well.
Tomato Pesto Salad
Per serving:
1-2 tomatoes, thickly  sliced
1 ounce shaved Romano cheese
1 tbs pesto (see hints)
1 1/2 tbs white balsamic vinegar
1/2 tbs pine nuts
Arrange tomato on a plate. Top with Romano cheese. Whisk pesto and vinegar together and spoon on top of tomato and cheese. Sprinkle with pine nuts to serve.
Hints: Pesto-- If you have a food processor, you can make your own fresh pesto with a couple of handfuls of basil and walnuts and about 3 ounces of Romano cheese. With the blade running, pour in extra virgin olive oil until you have a paste. Add some salt to taste and more olive oil to reach desired consistency. This will keep in the fridge for a week or more and is great on pasta, pizza, sandwiches, etc.
For the salad-- If you don't have white balsamic vinegar use regular balsamic - it will just be a darker dressing but will taste pretty similar. Also, using parmesan rather than Romano is fine- (I just like Romano so much better than parmesan). I keep my tomatoes unrefrigerated so that their flavor sings clearly. Of course, the higher quality the ingredients in this salad, the better it will be.

I think of family whenever I have a tomato. Dad had tomato plants every year. Warm summer evenings on the patio with sliced Ace or Better Boy tomatoes accompanying whatever was for dinner are blessed memories. And then there were Moms lunches of grilled tomato sandwiches made with Wonder bread and Miracle Whip. Or eating sun warmed pear tomatoes right off the vine on Sunday afternoon with my kids. Family makes food taste best.


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Naan, Plain or Peshwari

A good meal will always include at least one grounding element. Naan is one of those elements for me with Indian Cuisine. A tremendous vessel for Hummus or Baba Ganoush, wonderful for sopping up the last bits of curry or stew, and just fabulous on it's own. Peshwari Naan is a bit sweet and can be served as dessert.  Hot bread pleases the senses and enhances any meal. This naan can be cooked in a nonstick pan or in a panini/ griddle press. One of my waffle irons had reversible plates that have a smooth side and it is perfect for this! (It would probably work with the waffle side as well.) 
Naan cooked in a nonstick frying pan.
Naan
2 1/4 cups warm water
1 tablespoon rapid rise yeast
2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
5 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup ghee (melted butter, milk solids excluded)
Plain naan cooked on a waffle iron w/ smooth griddle plates.
Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup warm water with the honey in the bottom of a mixing bowl. Allow to activate for 3 or 4 minutes. Add remaining water, yogurt, olive oil and salt. Stir to blend. Add flour and baking powder. Mix with dough hook, scraping down sides as needed until it is a soft dough. Cover and allow to rise for 30 to 40 minutes. Punch down dough and knead on a floured board. (Dough will be sticky and require floured hands to handle.) Pinch dough in half, then in half again until there are 24 approximately equal balls. Roll each into a flat oval disc and place on plastic wrap. Cook by heating a griddle press (smooth waffle iron or panini press) to medium high heat. Place 1 or 2 pieces of the naan dough onto cooking surface and close the lid. Cook for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes or until browned. Remove to a cooling rack and spoon or brush both sides with ghee. Alternate cooking method: place in a non stick pan over medium high heat 2 1/2 to 3 minutes per side until browned.
Slightly sweet, Peshwari Naan is good with a meal or for dessert.

Peshwari Naan
1 batch of naan dough, rolled out into 18-20 circles
Filling:
4 tablespoons finely chopped pistachios (I use lightly salted shelled pistachios)
4 tablespoons finely chopped raisins (golden or regular)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, optional
Greek yogurt for serving
Mix filling ingredients together. Place a heaping teaspoon full of the filing in the middle of the dough and pinch together to close. Carefully, roll out the ball again on  floured board into an oval. Make sure to keep the filling covered with a thin layer of dough. Set aside. Continue filling the remaining peshwari and then cook as for plain naan. Brush with ghee and serve warm with Greek yogurt for dipping.

Hints: The dough is soft and can be a bit tricky to work with, so be sure to flour your hands and board. Roll out gently especially with the Peshwari filling in place. You can easily add crushed garlic to the ghee or just use garlic butter to brush onto the plain naan. And you could substitute coconut or another chopped nut for the pistachios in the peshwari. I make the ghee by melting butter in the microwave for a minute. As it cools, the milk solids will settle to the bottom of the container and I spoon the ghee off the top to use. You can also spread the hot naan with regular butter instead of ghee. Halving the recipe is fine and so is doubling it. I have made this without the 30 minute risen time- I was under a time crunch and had to make 48 pieces of naan so I let the doubt batch of dough just rest for about 10 minutes and then started rolling out half of it. By the time I got 24 rolled out and started cooking two at a time, they had risen for the full half hour.
Stella helps by rolling out Peshwari Naan
See the milk solids as a white layer at the bottom?
This is a quick recipe to make with stuff I usually have on hand in my pantry. It smells and tastes fabulous. Guests appreciate the effort and sometimes there are leftovers! (reheat the leftovers in a microwave for about 15 seconds and enjoy all over again.)

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Fudge Mug Cake

So yes...you do deserve a treat now and then. Your latest work project turned out superb or you found a twenty in the pocket of a coat you haven't worn all year or you coaxed a smile from the neighborhood curmudgeon. You DO deserve a treat! This simple mug cake may be just the ticket tonight. With a few readily available ingredients, fudgy deliciousness is only moments away...
Fudge Mug Cake (single serving)
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Mix together in a microwave safe mug. Then stir in the following:
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
After mixture is combined thoroughly, microwave on full power for approximately 1 minute 40 seconds. (Timing will vary for different models of microwaves.)
Hints: Make sure to stir all of the dry ingredients into the batter as there tends to be a bit that will stick in the joint where the bottom meets the sides of the mug. This batter should be very thick. The cake will raise during cooking but will sink quickly. The texture of the cake will be slightly sticky if cooked the right amount of time. If it is dry, it is overcooked and won't have nearly the delightfulness intended.
Easy to make, smells utterly delightful, tastes decadent, and complete in under three minutes. A winner on all fronts!  

Monday, January 23, 2017

Buddha Bowl Bar with Miso Vinaigrette

Buddha Bowls--we have been calling them "Grain Bowls" or "Grain Salads" and I've heard them referred to as "Hippie Bowls"  and "Power Bowls" but whatever you want to call them, they are definitely worth a try. Delicious, healthy, beautiful and easy-- what's not to love here? I set the ingredients out and let guests select their favorites, that way everybody is content. (Salad bars and Potato bars are the direct ancestor of this concept.) The list of ingredients presented happens to be vegan but adding one or two cheeses, bacon crumbles and diced deli turkey is something we do often. We even included mini pepperoni once! The Miso dressing is fab and we use it on most of our green salads. It is a terrific probiotic concoction and coupled with the prebiotic bowl ingredients, you have a top tier gut health combo.
Buddha Bowl Bar (serves 6-8)
2 cups cooked quinoa
2 cups coconut back rice
1 cup chopped parsley
1 cup mukimame (shelled soy beans)
1 cup garbanzo beans
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup raw cashews
2 sliced avocados
2 cups chopped Romain lettuce
2 cups chopped spinach
1 cup sliced cucunber
2 cups mixed roasted veggies (sweet potato, red pepper, cauliflower, parsnip roasted in olive oil)
Heat quinoa, rice and roasted veggies. Place all ingredients in serving dishes and allow diners to assemble their own bowls. Top with Miso Vinaigrette.
Miso Vinaigrette
1/3 cup unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup grape seed or walnut oil (or oil of your choice)
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons white or red miso paste
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
Whisk all ingredients together until throughly combined. Refrigerate any left over vinaigrette.













Hints: Warming the grains allows the vinaigrette to absorb better. It also seems to make the dish more satisfying and filling to have some hot and some cold ingredients. Use whatever veggies, grains, beans, nuts, herbs and greens you have on hand. You can buy a nice vinaigrette if you don't want to make your own (but you should really try this one out someday!) You don't have to use roasted veggies--finely chopped raw ones are also really great and I do that in the summer when I don't want to heat up the oven. Adding a sweeter touch is also nice with diced pear or apple, or sectioned oranges or grapefruit, or red grapes or berries. I try to use what is in season and what is readily available. If you use kale, cut it finely and massage it with some of the vinaigrette or some lemon juice to soften it. Adding cooked crumbled bacon, blue or feta cheese and/or sliced deli meat is also really good.
I have been making variations of this bowl for a couple of years now and it is one of our favorite dinners. I'll defrost some frozen leftover black rice and open a can of hominy for the grains, raid the fridge for veggies and scour the garden for fresh herbs. A healthy and delicious dinner can be ready in 10 minutes. No wonder it has become one of our 1st choices!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Sam's Star Cookies (Clementine Cardamom Shortbread)

"Star Cookies" That's what Sammy wants. A little man of few words but definite opinions. He loves these citrusy shortbread stars that I created this Christmas season. The flavors are based on a sugar cookie that my daughter-in-law makes; these shortbread gems are a bit crisper and less sweet. I first took them to the "Ladies Who Golf" cookie exchange at my friend Connie's house. She sponsors a lovely lunch every year for her golfing friends where we each contribute different cookies and all go home with a delightful variety.  I used to take them to my visiting teaching ladies but now by the time my family finishes sampling...well, I have to make other arrangements for visiting teaching treats. Thanks Connie and golfing friends! The cookies turned out to be my grandson Sammy's passion this Christmas Season so I am dedicating them to Sam Bennie.
Happy Holidays!
Sam's Star Cookies
1 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 3/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
zest of 2 clementines
juice of 2 clementines plus cool water to equal 1/3 cup
orange and yellow colored sugar for sprinkling (or silver)
Sam and Rob working on Star Cookies with Grandma
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine butter, sugar, flour, salt, cardamom and zest in a mixer bowl. Beat on medium speed until texture resembles meal, scraping sides of bowl as necessary. Add juice and beat just until blended and mixture can be formed into a ball. Turn out onto a floured board. Pat into a circle then use a rolling pin to roll dough no thinner than 1/4 inch. Cut with star shaped cookie cutter and place each cookie on a baking sheet (with or without parchment paper). Sprinkle tops with colored sugar. Bake for 16 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool onto sheet for about 5 minutes then remove to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container when completely cooled.
Sammy rolls out the dough really well for a 2 year old!
Hints: I use salted butter but if you choose unsalted, you will need to increase the salt from 1/4 to about 1/2 teaspoon. I use ground cardamom which I keep in my freezer to maintain its' potency. It's a pretty strong spice and using a little goes a long way. Use enough flour when rolling out to keep the dough from sticking to the board. If the cookies are too thin they will not finish crumbly but brittle. I like mine about 1/2 inch thick and I bake them about 19-20 minutes. That way they are a bit chewy still in the center. Experiment and see how you like them best. You could use vanilla bean in place of the cardamom or grapefruit zest and juice in place of the clementine. Sophie says you must eat three before you decide whether you like them or not--she wasn't sure after one but the next day she tried another and liked it better, and after three she was a big fan. (It only took one for Sam and me.)
Sammy enjoying the final product.
Being a grandma is just the best thing ever! Sam and his two brothers and four cousins provide unmeasurable joys and I feel so blessed! Here's to many years of Christmas Cookies ahead for Dan, Sam, Rob, Bruno, Stella, Alex and Lena! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Poached Pears with Cardamom Yogurt Creme

Autumn desserts are special somehow. Pears in season are one of the best parts of my culinary life. Try Pear Pie this year if you haven't already, or for a lighter touch try out these poached beauties-lightly scented with ginger and lemon-for a warm finish to a fall meal.
Poached Pears
3 nearly ripe pears - Bartlett end up softer, Anjou firmer
1 cup sugar
2 slices lemon
2-3 small knobs of ginger root
4 cups warm water
Slice pears in half lengthwise. Core with a spoon and scoop seeds out. Leave stem intact if desired. Heat sugar, lemon, ginger and water in a large pan until sugar is dissolved. Peel pear halves and place in heated water. Cover and bring to a light simmer. Reduce heat to maintain this level of simmer. Poach for 6 minutes then with a slotted spoon remove pears to a covered dish to keep warm. Remove and discard 2 cups of the poaching liquid. Bring the remaining liquid to a boil and cook uncovered for about 10 minutes or until volume is halved. Discard the lemon and ginger. Serve by placing a pear half in a bowl, topping with Cardamom Creme (see below) about 2 tablespoons of the reduced syrup and pistachios.

Hints: I prefer the softer Bartlett pear but the Anjou is nice, too. If the Bartlett is too ripe, it will not hold it's shape when poached and become mushy. Boiling the pears will also cause them to break down too much, so be sure and just simmer lightly. The reduced liquid will be quite hot so be careful handling it.

Cardamom Yogurt Creme
2/3 cup Greek yogurt
1 1/2 (plus more to taste) tablespoons brown sugar
1/8 (plus more to taste) teaspoon ground cardamom
Stir together and taste. If desired, add more cardamom or brown sugar to taste. Serve with poached pears or apples.

This creme is also great as a dip for fruit platters or as fruit salad dressing.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Quesadillas with Stilton Cheese

Who does't love quesadilla goodness! Quick to make and always delicious. Kids love them and so do adults. This particular version works equally as well as a snack, appetizer or even dessert. Using a uniquely flavored cheese is the difference here and gives this quesadilla it's appeal.
Stilton Mango Ginger Quesadilla 
1/2 teaspoon butter
2 corn tortillas
1 1/2 ounces White Stilton cheese with Mango and Ginger
Honey for drizzling, optional
Heat a small skillet over medium high heat. Melt butter in pan. Crumble cheese onto one tortilla then cover with the other tortilla. Place quesadilla in pan and cook on one side for about 2 minutes. Flip over and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Serve hot with a drizzle of honey if desired.
Hints: Costco carries this cheese in the summer. I like the pale white corn tortillas but the yellow variety is just as good in this dish. I tend to push down on the top with the turner as the quesadilla are cooking so that I can tell when the cheese is melted. It is best when the tortillas brown up a bit.
I love these for lunch--really good and really quick. I love them for dessert with a few fresh berries or peaches. I love them for a snack in the evening with a glass of soda water and orange twist. I think I would even eat then for breakfast. I have tried quesadillas with other cheeses besides cheddar and this is by far my favorite. Try them and let me know what you think!