Sunday, March 3, 2019

Pasta with Mushrooms, Garlic and Sage

There can be too much of a good thing.  Almost every week I had been making Mushroom Risotto. Ed and I would have some for dinner with a salad, skip a night and have the same menu again, skip a night and have the rest of the risotto with Brussels sprouts and roasted winter squash, more veggies than risotto.  One night I had only enough mushrooms to make half a recipe of risotto and was ready for a change so I used most of the same ingredients but pasta instead of rice. The key ingredient here in addition to the mushrooms is olive oil and garlic, the garlic cooked until it is crunchy golden brown.

Start water for pasta and then cook pasta, according to manufacturer's instructions so pasta and sauce are ready at approximately the same time.  Alternatively for more flexibility sauce can be made and then just rewarmed a bit before serving.

Heat 2 T olive oil (or a mix of olive and truffle oil)


4-6 cloves garlic

When garlic is golden brown, add and mix well

6-8 oz shiitake mushrooms
1 T sun dried tomatoes, broken in small pieces (optional)

Saute until soft then add

Several leaves sage, chopped (optional)

I often  serve on a bed of

Arugula or baby spinach

Top with

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional, and I usually don't)

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Chicken Stuffed with Goat Cheese, Fig, Arugula and Prosciutto

The Goat Cheese, Fig, Arugula, and Prosciutto Tapas made me think of  three of my favorite recipes: Pollo RellanoChicken Stuffed with Spinach, Goat Cheese and Mushrooms, and  Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast with Red Chili Mole, and the possibility of a fourth favorite in this category.  Tried this stuffed chicken breast variation and was not disappointed. The first two favorites are panko/breadcrumb covered and baked while the third is pan fried.  The first few times I made this recipe I dipped the chicken in egg then bread crumbs and baked. Excellent. Now one of "four favorites".

Then I was looking for a recipe for a "hearty lunch". First recipe that came to mind was Seafood Gumbo, but I'd already served this to the intended guests. Why not pan fry (we use cast iron skillet on grille), slice and serve on a large platter on a bed of arugula along with crusty bread - sort of a chicken sandwich on steroids. Very well received. Recipe is for 2 - 3 (if larger breast and sliced), scale accordingly.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut a pocket the whole length of 

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (~6 to 8 oz each)

Fold open the chicken and place in order, using the prosciutto to cover any holes in the chicken and then fold prosciutto before closing the breasts to help keep the cheese in place:

1 oz goat cheese
1 T fig jam (I like Trader Joe's Fig Butter)
1 piece prosciutto 
Several leaves of arugula 

Fold the top of each breast over the filling and secure closure with toothpick if necessary.

Whisk in a small bowl: 1 egg  (I have on occasion used 1/4 c or less "egg product"  - 1 egg will actually do 4-6 pieces -  but I think in this case using the real egg is better.)

Dip each piece of chicken in the egg then coat by dipping in

Bread crumbs or panko

Place on oiled baking sheet and lightly spray with olive oil.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes (for a medium sized breast) until the chicken is cooked through and opaque (~160 degrees F) and the bread crumbs are browned.  Serve whole, or, particularly if larger breasts are used, slice crosswise into 3/4 - 1 inch wide pieces.


Omit the egg/breadcrumb process and

In a skillet large enough to accommodate both/all the chicken breasts heat: 

2 T olive oil

When oil is hot,  place the chicken breasts in the skillet and cook approximately 6 minutes on a side (longer if breast pieces are more than 6 oz each) until both sides are browned and chicken is cooked through (and temperature is ~160 degrees F). 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Goat Cheese, Fig, Arugula, and Prosciutto Tapas

This hors d-oeuvre comes from a late night sandwich that Alex and Dan had in Tarragona, Spain in 2014. They along with Henry (then 3 months old) after several tries,finally found a hotel. It was late so Dan went out for sandwiches and came back with one they particularly liked.  Based on the ingredients they subsequently made tapas for a party. What follows is the recipe they kindly shared with me.  Trader Joe's is a one stop source for all the ingredients (though bread availability may vary) and their fig butter is excellent.

Slice a ficelle or very thin baquette into small rounds. Spread each one in this order with:

Goat cheese

Fig butter

Top with a few sprigs of:

Arugula, the smaller the leaves the better

A small piece of prosciutto (omit for vegetarians)


Return to the source and use same ingredients to make a sandwich.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Turkey/Chicken Enchiladas with Mole Sauce

This red, white and green dish is perfect for the Christmas season.  I must admit I had not planned it that way. Turns out I had a lot of leftover turkey and it was pretty dry. First I made a big batch of turkey soup, then what?  I thought of two of my favorite recipes Butternut Squash Enchiladas and Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast with Red Chili Mole. Dinner was underway. Easy dinner for me because I had some mole sauce in the freezer.

NOTE: While a great way to use leftover turkey, this recipe would work equally well or better with chicken.

MAKE THE MOLE  (adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone; I adjusted ingredients based on availibility)

In a dry skillet toast:

1 1/2 t coriander seeds [I use 1 1/2 t ground coriander]
1 1/4 t anise seeds
1 1/4 t cumin
1 1/4 t dried Mexican oregano*

Remove to a plate as soon as herbs smell fragarant.  In a 2 quart saucepan heat:

2 1/2 T vegetable oil [I use 1 T olive oil]


1 small onion, finely diced [I use 2-3 T of finely diced sweet onion]
1 t minced garlic [Madison adds garlic with the spices]

Cook stirring frequently for about 3 - 4 minutes until the onion is wilted and slightly browned, then add the ground spices and cook for one minute more.  Remove from the heat, let the pan cool for a minute, then stir in:

1/3 c ground mild [I use medium] red chili

Mix, then gradually add 1 1/2 c water.  Return to the stove and bring to a boil, stirring slowly but constantly so that the chili doesn't burn.  It will thicken as it cooks; add an additional 1/4 c water to thin it out if necessary.

Add and stir until it is melted:

1 oz Mexican chocolate. such as Ibarra, coarsley chopped [I use 1 oz unsweetened chocolate plus 1/2 t ground cinnamon or 3 T baking cocoa plus 1/2 t ground cinnamon].

Simmer for 10 minutes then stir in: 

1 t sherry vinegar.

Mole recipe makes about 2 cups, If not all used, it can be frozen for future use.

MAKE THE ENCHILADAS  (Serves two, scale accordingly)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Then finely chop:

1/2 c (or more to go heavy on veggies or omit, extra step and not key to dish ) butternut squash (carrots would work too)

1/4 large sweet onion

6 oz cooked turkey (or chicken)

several sprigs of fresh cliantro*

Toss the squash cubes in olive oil and bake  for about 10 minutes until tender.  Reduce oven to 350 degrees F.

Assemble the enchiladas:

Microwave on high for 30 seconds, two at a time

4 corn tortillas

Place two tortillas on two ovenproof plates that have been lightly greased with olive oil. Spread mole sauce on each tortilla, then 1/4 of the cubed turkey, 1/4 of the chopped onion, and 1/4 of the cubed squash. Roll the tortillas, then turn them 180 degrees so that the seam where the edges of the tortilla meet is on the bottom

Top with more mole sauce and

1 1/2 - 2 oz. crumbled goat cheese, divided 4 ways.

Bake in 350 degree F oven for 12 minutes.

Remove from oven and top with

chopped cilantro

Optional garnishes include:

Avocado, silced thin, divided two ways, chopped cilantro

Arugula or other greens that are good warm.

* I keep chopped cilantro in the freezer.  The frozen cilantro sprinkled directly on the enchiladas (shown in photo) also works well.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Henry's Chocolate Chip Birthday Cake

When it comes to birthday cakes Henry has a mind of his own.  Well, exccept for his first birthday when he got the default Portland birthday cake, a chocolate cake with raspberry filling and chocolate ganache frosting from Ken's. For his second birthday, Henry requested one of Chris's apple pies, and for his third, Blueberry Cobbler.  His fourth birthday request (hard to believe that was 9 months ago!) was more complicated, he wanted a chocolate chip cake. Not one of the traditional family birthday cakes, hence no recipe. After looking at several recipes on line Alex chose one from Love and Duck Fat. If Henry continues with his current cake request pattern this cake will not be requested again.....but should it be at some much later date, the basics of the recipe, with some modifications, follow:

Make the cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Butter two 9-inch cake pans. Line pans with parchment paper and butter parchment paper.

Sift together into a medium bowl:

16.9 oz (4c + 2T) flour
2 t baking powder
1 1/2 t baking soda
1 t salt

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, place:

8 oz butter, cut in small chunks
14.1 oz (2 c) sugar

Cream at medium speed until light and fluffy then reduce to low speed and add incrementally:

2 t vanilla extract
4 eggs

When these ingredients are well beaten into the mix, slowly add

2 c buttermilk*

Then continuing on slow speed, gradually add the flour mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl while adding.  Mix just until the flour is completely blended.  Remove bowl from the mixer stand and fold in by hand:

1 1/2 - 2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

Divide the batter between the two cake pans and gently tap pans to remove any air bubbles. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until a small skewer inserted in the cake comes out free of batter. Cake should be golden brown.

Cool in pan for 10-15 minutes then remove to a rack.Cool completely before frosting.

* In lieu of buttermilk, mix 2 T vinegar with enough milk to measure 2 c and let sit five minutes before using.

Make the frosting

In a medium mixing bowl, combine:

6 oz unsweetened chocolate
5 oz butter, cut in small chunks
1 1/2 t vanilla extract

In a heavy saucepan bring to a simmer

1 1/3 c heavy cream
7 oz (1 c) sugar

Reduce heat to low and stir, about 6 minutes until the sugar melts completely and the mixture slightly thickens.

Pour the hot sugar cream mixture on top of the chocolate-butter mixture. Cool to room temperature while stirring occasionally

Put the bowl with the cream -  chocolate mixture inside a larger bowl which has a layer of ice cubes on the bottom. Using a stand or upright mixer, beat the mixture until it is thick and glossy, scraping down to sides of the bowl frequently so that the mixture is fully mixed.

Frost the top of the lower layer then place the second layer on top. Frost the top and the sides of the cake.  Decorate the top as desired with chocolate chips.  Alex placed a circle of chocolate chips around the perimiter with birthday decorations in the center and served the cake on the same wooden plate that had held her and Dan's wedding cake.

Thanksgiving Turkey

As of Thanksgiving 2016, I could count on one hand the number of turkeys I had cooked, the last one in 2008 and the one before that a very long time ago.  I've done Almonds, Cranberry Ice, and Creamed Onions most every year, an occasional Pumpkin or Pecan Pie (Chris and Alex now do the pies!) but seldom a turkey.

When I was a small child and we had Thanksgiving dinner as the noon meal, I heard my Mom say she had to get up really early to "dress the turkey".  Helpful child that I was, I got up even earlier and somehow managed to get the turkey out of the refrigerator (no cryovac bags in thoses days - Mom had already spent hours removing all the pinfeathers), and carefully "dressed" it with Kleenex. Last year's (2016) attempt was only a little more successful.  I got a rather large turkey, about 18 pounds I think, and used a recipe, How to Cook a Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey I found in the Boston Globe.  Think the failure was not caused by the recipe but (1) cooking the turkey closer to 180 degrees at the inner thigh, as I do with roast chicken, and perhaps buying too big a bird.  Ihe gravy makers objected to the lemons, put per recipe in the water under the turkey.  Think fresh herbs were a waste, as they did not stick as well as dried herbes d' Provence. Herbs were the least of the problem though as the white meat was very dry. Lessons learned: Do not wash turkey. Turkey is done at 165 not 180.  Don't mess to much with the "gravy base".

Soon after this turkey disaster I saw a recipe in the New York Times, How to Roast a Turkey. I filed it forThanaksgiving 2017.  When I was debating what size turkey to get that year Chris responded, I don't care about the size just don't have it dry like last year.  This sent me to an on-line search as to what causes roast turkey to be dry.  I found many references to size.  Apparently the larger the turkey, the harder to cook well, especially without a wet brine.  Many sources suggest cooking two 10 or 12 pound turkeys rather than one 20 to  24 pound bird. I then returned to Melissa Clark's NYT recipe, again front page and center in the New York Times.  Interestingly her recipe is for a 10 to 12 pound turkey and she uses a dry brine. I basically used this technique, leaving out some things (lemon zest, lemon quarters, cider and wine so as not to impact the gravy) and doing my own herb blend.

Tuesday night before Thanksgiving:
Remove giblets from the cavity and neck.  Dry (but don't first wash) the turkey with paper towels. Then rub the turkey all over with

1/2 t kosher salt per pound of turkey (rub over and leave on turkey)

fresh thyme/rosemary/sage (I'd almost say optional if turkey is going to be served without skin)
8 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

Put turkey with herbs and garlic  in a 2-gallon zip-lock bag. Seal, put in second plastic bag, and place on a rimmed baking sheet in the refrigerator. Turn bird over every 12 hours.

Thanksgiving morning:
Remove turkey from zip-lock bag and pat dry inside and out with paper towels. Return to the refrigerator, uncovered on the baking sheet, for at least 4 and up to 12 hours. This helps to crisp it. Again maybe not so important if not planning to eat skin.

Remove turkey from refrigerator one hour before cooking.

Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Fill a large roasting pan with 1/4 inch of water (1/4 inch! I used too much this time and gravy had to be reduced for a longer than usual time) add

1 onion peeled and quartered

Stuff the dry turkey cavity with

1 onion peeled and quartered and brush the skin (top and bottom) generously with

Olive oil

Tie legs together with twine.

Place turkey, breast side up, on a rack inside the roasting pan.  Roast for 30 minutes then cover the turkey with aluminum foil. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue roasting until as instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees F. About 1 1/2 to 2 hours more.  Transfer the turkey to a platter and let rest for 30 minutes before carving.

THERMOMETER Lesson learned: Have an accurate, calibrated thermometer.  Chris once pointed out to me that it is ironic that we pay more for the meat we are cooking (each time) than for the thermometer (one time).  The remote thermometer I used seemed to calibrate well in boiling water but must not have been positioned correctly as it read 165 degrees F after a little less than 2 hours total cooking. I took the foil off and checked with an instant read thermometer and the bird still had 10 degrees to go in spots and the Bell and Evans pop-up thermometer had not popped. After opening (and cooling) the oven for several temperature checks I ended up cooking the bird 30 minutes at 450 degrees F and 2 hours and 45 minutes at 350 degrees F (or less as oven cooled with each opening.  The built-in thermometer had not popped when I removed the turkey from the oven but did in the half hour while the turkey was resting.  I think next year if I get a 12 pound turkey, I will plan on 1/2 hour at 450 degrees F and 2 hours at 350 degrees F  My day was made with Chris messaged me he was safely home and then, when I thanked him for the pecan and apples pies he brought he replied, "Thanks for the turkey. You cooked it perfectly!"

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Avocado Toast

I love avocadoes!  When on a three week business trip to Indonesia many years ago, one of the lunch options was a whole avocado, cut in half with a little seafood salad in the pit hole. Ordered it every day.  Love avocado Tacos, Guacamole, and avovado slices in turkey/chicken sandwiches. When having lunch at Forge Baking Company recently, I ordered the pizza slice. No pizza, but if you want something light, the server suggested, order:
AVOCADO TOAST – Avocado topped with salt, pepper, and olive oil on choice of housemade bread .  
Missed this on the menu because it is actually a breakfast offering (thinking now of the avocadoes offered for breakfst during a trip to Costa Rica), but also available for lunch.  Yum! Why didn't I think of this? So delicious and easy to make.  

Recently, I had a box of fresh basil from Chris's indoor garden, a loaf of Dave's Killer Bread, which I had bought on reccomendations posted on our town "link", and of course, avocadoes, so I improvised accordingly. 

Serves 1, scale accordingly.

1 large slice of bread.

While bread is toasting, thinly slice lengthwise 
1/2 avocado

Arrange sliced avocado on toasted bread.
(Looked prettier at Forge.  Avocado was very thinly sliced and  arranged in aperfect line on the toast. Think they must have use a slightly firmer avocado.)

Top with

Olive oil, drizzled
Salt (this is a recipe where salt is important!)

Then sprinkle with (addition to Forge recipe)
Basil, coarsley chopped

Silce in half. Enjoy for breakfast and lunch!