Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mashed Potatoes with Parsnips

With just a small group for Thanksgiving dinner 2008, we decided to have a menu with many fewer options than when we typically share the meal with a larger group: almonds, turkey and chestnut stuffing, Cranberry Ice, potatoes, salad and at the last minute I caved in and did a few Creamed Onions for Ed. Christopher suggested instead of just having the traditional whipped potatoes, we have a combination of potatoes and parsnips. Loved it and have made it many times since sometimes using Yukon Gold potatoes as we did at Thanksgiving, sometimes red potatoes.

Serves 2 (expand to accommodate group you are serving)

Boil until tender:

2 medium potatoes, cut into 4-6 pieces; no need to peel - just wash well
1 medium parsnip, peeled and cut into 1 inch lengths
2 cloves garlic, whole and not peeled (optional)

When vegetables are tender and easy to mash, drain off all the water. Remove garlic, cut end off bud and squeeze paste-like garlic into mixture. If garlic is not cooked enough to squeeze easily, peel and mash or chop finely. Mash with a potato masher until there are no lumps.

Season with:

Salt and pepper to taste.
Olive oil or butter to taste





Salmon with Red Miso Sauce

Believe it or not this recipe comes from Christopher (more or less, he never gives me actual measurements) who gave up fish from the summer he caught a bluefish off the Annisquam Canal (in 1992 and we ate it for most of the next week) until the chefs at Google convinced him that fish could be tasty (2000).






For 2 people

Marinate

~2/3 pound skinless wild salmon. pin bones removed (I opt for the thicker end, and usually cook with skin on), in a well blended mixture of:

1 T red miso
1 t soy sauce
1 t sesame seed oil
1 T orange/lime juice
2 T dark brown sugar


If cooking with skin on, place salmon on a piece of aluminum foil with edges of foil slightly turned up to contain any dripping marinade.

Cook on grill or broil basting frequently for about 5 minutes a side or 10 minutes total if cooking on foil (a little more or less depending on thickness). If the fish is not skinless, remove from aluminum foil leaving cooked skin on the foil.

Serve sprinkled with:

Toasted sesame seeds (my addition).

I love serving this in the spring topped with:

1 bunch baby scallions, bottoms trimmed, basted in olive oil and lightly grilled (if baby scallions are not available, (uncooked) chopped scallion greens also work).


VARIATION:

Use orange juice not lime juice and instead of salmon use 21-25 count shrimp, 6-7 per person; skewer and grill or broil  ~3 minutes per side, about 5- 6 minutes total, until firm and pink.







Reviewed 5/23/2017

Jack-o-Lanterns 2009

Halloween started for us in early October when we went with Alex to the CSA Farm outside of Portland that Alex and Dan have contracted with for weekly vegetable (and sometimes flower) deliveries. The occasion was an Open House, or farm as it were, to see the fields and harvest a pumpkin. We watched while Alex chose a pumpkin and had a chance to visit with the husband and wife who run the farm as well as a few of their children. Alex said that while she and Dan would probably carve the pumpkin for Halloween, they planned to use battery "candles" so she could subsequently use the pumpkin to make pies.



When Alexandra and Christopher were growing up, Jack-o-Lanterns were a big deal. Carefully selected days ahead of time in order to get the "perfect ones", and carved with care and imagination. One year we had a particularly large one with a strobe light, instead of a candle inside. After Alex and Chris went their separate ways, Ed and I dismissed the Halloween Jack-o-Lantern, settling for the strobe light in the bushes and a couple plastic bats stuck near the entrance where the few trick-or-treaters we attracted knocked. We did finally start buying candy after Dan told us our idea of offering apples, pretzels (they were in the shape of Jack-o-Lanterns and in Halloween wrapping) and pencils (they did have a Halloween decoration) reminded him of the dentist on his street in Michigan that handed out toothbrushes for Halloween. In all fairness we usually included some stickers or black spider rings. At Christopher's suggestion, next year we are going to offer light sticks.

But back to the Jack-o-Lanterns.....

This Halloween, Christopher was unexpectedly at home. The afternoon of the 31st, I got the idea it would be fun to do Jack-o-Lanterns and Christopher agreed. Easier said than done. I quickly found that the farms where we used to get pumpkins were either now out of business or out of pumpkins, except for very small ones. I finally found two large sugar pumpkins (small by Jack-o-Lantern standards, but sweet for cooking), the biggest pumpkins apparently available at this late date and took them home. None too soon. Christopher designed the faces, a "happy" and an "angry" Jack-o-Lantern and carefully carved the features with the surfaces slanting back into the interior of the pumpkin. Christopher got one Jack-o-Lantern finished and outside on our deck and was working on the second when our first trick-or-treaters arrived.


After he had finished both Jack-o-Lanterns and they were both glowing with the battery powered "candles" I had purchased along with the pumpkins, Christopher reminisced on Halloweens past. "What I really remember", he said, "is how you used to leave the old Jack-o-Lanterns in the garden by the terrace and how they would sit there and rot. It was really disgusting." Motivated by my recent resolutions to eat as locally as we could and a desire not to leave any more disgusting memories, I resolved we would eat all of the pumpkin. I had already saved the seeds to roast and the cut out parts for pie, and the battery powered "candles" would not blacken the pumpkin interior.

At any rate we enjoyed the Jack-o-Lanterns for three or four nights (they spent the day wrapped in plastic wrap in the refrigerator); then Christopher commented, "Mom, are you going to let these pumpkins rot just like the others?" So next morning, I peeled and cut up the pumpkins into slices or into chunks which I cooked and pureed to use in pies. I was feeling pretty good about this, until Christopher came down for breakfast and said, "Mom you cut up the pumpkins!". Then it hit me. I, I who saved everything Alexandra and Christopher had ever made (well, not dinners) or written, after many photographs and making a template of the faces, I cut up the pumpkins Christopher had carved. Seeing my reaction, Christopher began to unmercifully pull my chain. First, I discovered Christopher really didn't like pumpkin which didn't help me feel any better about hacking up the Jack-o-Lanterns. Then every pumpkin recipe I served would be met by Christopher saying, "Is this the happy or the angry pumpkin?" Of course, after Christopher greeted the Thanksgiving pie with this comment, I had to retell the story for all present

Anyway I did discover some new pumpkin recipes which I've also posted. Even Christopher declared the muffins a success.

Spinach Salad

Alexandra called me the other night and asked for this recipe, "I checked your blog", she said, "but couldn't find it." I think that this is one of those recipes I just carry around in my head and never bothered to note in any of my paper cookbooks, but it has indeed been a favorite for many years.

Small or "baby spinach" is definitely a plus as is the first of the season spring spinach. If using larger spinach leaves, remove any large stems, including the vein that runs through the middle of the spinach leaf.



Put the clean, dry spinach in a salad bowl (10-16oz to serve 4 people). Toss with a small amount of

Olive oil - just enough to lightly coat the leaves.

Peel and slice in wedges

1 ripe avocado

and place in a shallow dish.

Mix:

1 T fresh lemon juice
1/4 t cumin (or more or less to taste)
1/4 t garlic powder (or more or less to taste)
1/4 t ground black pepper (or more or less to taste)

Pour this mixture over the avocado and toss VERY GENTLY so as not to break the avocado slices, then pour over the oil coated spinach leaves. Add:

4 thin slices red (or sweet white) onion broken into individual rings
1 fresh tomato, cut in wedges or cherry tomatoes (optional)

Toss again very gently. Serve.

VARIATION:

After tossing the spinach with oil, toss with the dried spices and then add the lemon juice and toss again.

Then add (to serve 4 people)

1-2 hard boiled egg(s), sliced thin
2-4 pieces bacon, cooked until very crisp, dried on paper towels to remove as much fat as possible, and chopped into small pieces.
4 thin slices red (or sweet white) onion broken into individual rings
1 fresh tomato, cut in wedges or cherry tomatoes (optional)

Toss very gently  to minimize breaking up the egg slices. Serve.

Reviewed 6/19/2017

Chicken Stuffed with Spinach, Goat Cheese and Mushrooms

This winter I had invited guests for dinner, asking when they accepted my invitation if there was anything they could not or preferred not to eat. One guest replied seafood - both shell and regular fish. Whoops! There went most of the main dishes I had anticipated serving. I had a feeling that if I did a vegetarian entrée, this group would expect the main course to follow and since they were about my age I did not want to drag out the overused Chicken Marbella. I though of my Pollo Relleno recipe, liked the idea but decided it was too spicy for this group so created this "variation". It was met with much success. Like Pollo Relleno and Chicken Marbella this is an excellent dinner party dish because it can be prepared entirely ahead of time - just place in a preheated oven about half an hour before serving.

When I tried this recipe pre-dinner party, the individual pieces looked very large. I tried slicing (see photos) and found this not only looked much more attractive but allowed the option for guests to adjust their serving size to their appetite.

The following recipe serves 2 - adjust quantities for expected number of guests.

Sauté:

2 t olive oil (heat first)
1 small shallot, peeled and finely minced, until golden brown, then add:

6-8 (3-4 oz.) mushrooms (I use crimini, baby bella, shitake or a mix of these)
and continue cooking 2-3 minutes over medium heat, then add:

4 oz spinach (if not using baby spinach remove stem, including vein that  runs down the middle of the leaf and tear into small pieces) and cook just until spinach wilts.
                      
Set aside.

Separate, if necessary:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, ~3/4 to 1# total

then slice lengthwise down the middle, almost but not completely through, to form a large pocket


Place the chicken on a washable plate, plastic cutting board or wax paper and open each piece so the two sides lie flat. Place 1/2 of the mushroom - spinach mixture on each piece. Then place, lengthwise on top of the  center of the mixture

2/3 - 1 oz of goat cheese (I use goat cheese with herbs).

Then fold the pieces together. Chicken breasts can be prepared to this point and refrigerated for several hours. The following step should be done preferably no more than an hour or two before baking.

Dip each breast piece (both sides) in:

1 egg, beaten (I have on occasion used 1/8 c "egg product"  - 1 egg will actually do 4-6 pieces -  but I think in this case using the real egg is better)

and then immediately (again, both sides) in:

~1/3 c panko (more or less depending on size of chicken; I usually use Whole Food's spinach panko but have also used their lemon-herb panko and sun-dried tomato panko). Place on non-stick or (olive) oiled cooking pan. If not cooking immediately return to refrigerator.

Place in pre-heated 350 degree oven and bake for 30 minutes (for a medium sized breast) until the chicken is cooked through and opaque (~160 degrees F) and the panko is browned.

Serve individual pieces plated...



...or slice into 3/4 to 1 inch thick pieces and serve on a platter.

Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs (optional).



I often serve with Weeds with Pecans and Fruit and a wild/brown rice mix.




Reviewed 5/13/17

Pumpkin Pie Muffins

Faced with two Halloween 2009 Jack-o-Lanterns that Christopher had challenged me to not "let disgustingly rot in the terrace garden", and the realization, after I had bravely butchered them, that Christopher "really doesn't like pumpkin", I went to the wonderful Mostly Muffins cookbook that Christopher gave me many years ago. Here I found a "pumpkin recipe" even Christopher admitted liking. My changes are in brackets.

Makes 10 -12 muffins or ~32 mini-muffins

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl combine:

2 cups flour
3/4 c [I use 1/2 c] firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/2 t salt [I omit]
1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground cloves
1/8 t ground nutmeg

Mix well and then add [recipe calls for mixing these ingredients separately and then adding to dry ingredients; I just add individually to dry mixture and then mix well]:

3/4 c canned pumpkin [I use 1 c and fresh or frozen pumpkin for better texture and flavor]
1/2 c butter or margarine, melted and cooled [I use 1/4 c olive oil instead]
1/4 c buttermilk [since I usually do not have, I use 1/4 c cider or 1/4 cskim milk]
2 eggs, lightly beaten [I often use 1/2 c "egg product" instead]
3 T molasses [I omit]
1 t vanilla
3/4 c [ I use 1/2 c] chopped pecans
3/4 c chopped pitted dates [I use 1/2 c raisins]
[1 large apple, cored and chopped]

Mix well and then place in a non-stick muffin pan. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester [or small skewer/straw from broom] comes out clean. Cool ~ 5 minutes before removing muffins from cups. Good both warm and at room temperature.

The mini-muffins,shown in top photo and left are particularly good for entertaining, either for brunch or with hot cider or tea on a fall afternoon.




Reviewed 5/10/17

Baked Pumpkin Slices/Maple Baked Pumpkin

This is another recipe I discovered while trying to make the most use of our 2009 Jack-o-Lanterns. It is adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything (original edition/1998). I have only made it once and it turned out to be pretty much of a disaster because although the tops looked wonderful the bottom of each slice was badly charred. The unburned part was very tasty and I am going to try again* having learned the lesson: Turn Often!

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Cut (do not peel)

1 (2-3 pound) pumpkin (preferably Sugar Pumpkin)

into 1-1 1/2 thick slices. Unless this is the remains of a Jack-o-Lantern remove seeds and strings and reserve seeds for Firey Pumpkin Seeds and spread slices on a lightly oiled baking sheet.

Combine:

1 T canola or other neutral oil [I used olive oil]
2 T lemon juice
1 T soy sauce
1 T brown sugar
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground ginger

Brush a bit of this mixture onto the pumpkin. Bake for about 25 minutes, then brush again. Turn slices and brush tops. Bake until done, an additional 20-30 minutes. Turn and check every 10 minutes to be sure bottom surface is not charring; when checking and turning brush with any remaining mixture.

Broil slices very briefly to brown before serving (optional).

* November 2012:  Maple Baked Pumpkin Revisited the above recipe, this time reading Bittman's recipe more closely. Bittman's recipe does not give instructions to peel the pumpkin though I recall I did (instructions above to the contrary). I made it again, not peeling the pumpkin and served with some quinoa left over from Carnival Squash Stuffed with Black Quinoa Pilaf (photo at top).  OK at best.  I did not like the soy sauce overtones. Took the last quarter of a pumpkin I had left, peeled it,  cut it in chunks, tossed it with 

Some  raw Brussels sprouts** left from Thanksgiving 
1 T olive oil
1 T maple syrup

Baked on a lightly oiled cookie sheet at 450 degrees F, about 20 minutes until the pumpkin was soft. Although the outer leaves of the Brussels sprouts charred slightly they were very tasty and the pumpkin with this simpler sauce much better to my taste than the "Baked Pumpkin Slices". Photo above shows this mix served with Mushroom Risotto (version with sage).

** January 2015:  We are having a brussels sprouts revival. I never much liked brussels sprouts, perhaps because I usually steamed and overcooked the veggie.  This past holiday season I made Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad  many times and Alex and Dan roasted brussel sprouts a few times.  In all cases the sprouts were still a little crunchy. Based on Alex and Dan's cook time I would now add the brussels sprouts about 10 minutes after the pumpkin.

Fiery Pumpkin Seeds

This is one of the recipes I found when trying to put all of our Halloween 2009 Jack-o-Lanterns to good use. It is adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything (original edition/1998):

Separate the seeds from the pumpkin strings by rinsing them in a bowlful of water. Dry the seeds between paper/dish towels.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix (for 2 cups seeds; adjust for more/less seeds):

2 T light vegetable or olive oil
1 t cayenne (or more to taste)
1 t salt [I use less]
1/2 t cumin [Bittman says "optional"; I think the cumin is essential]

Toss the seeds with this mixture until they are well coated.

Bake the seeds on a baking sheet in a 350 degree F oven for 30 to 45 minutes, tossing occasionally, until they are tan and crisp.

These are good as a snack.  They are also good as a topping for Stuffed Poblano Peppers or Poblano Chili Stuffed with Pumpkin.


Reviewed 5/15/17






Thursday, March 11, 2010

Waybury Hot Fruit Compote

This is an old recipe I found in Moogie's cookbook during a recent visit to Colorado. I remember having this years ago at The Waybury Inn in Middlebury, Vermont (the inn is still thriving but it appears the Hot Fruit Compote has been replaced on the menu with the likes of wasabi, dusted porcini and tangy pomegranate sauces). Still might be one of "those comfort foods" with a roast loin of pork on a cold winter evening.

"Combine 1/2 cup each: prunes, pears, peaches, pineapple with 1 1/2 c apple sauce and arrange in casserole. Then add 1 t cinnamon and 1/2 t each ginger and nutmeg. Add the juice of 1/2 lemon and its grated rind. Mix the fruits and place covered in a 250 degree oven for at least one hour before serving. The longer it bakes the better it is. Other fruits can be substituted and either fresh or canned may be used. This makes a delicious condiment with all meat and foul."

Reviewed 6/20/2017