JANUARY: Spaghetti Squash Pasta

I ate a bit too much in the last few weeks so I have created a Lets Start Dieting recipe that I hope you will enjoy. I am giving you two versions of the recipe.  I am certain that you will think of many others. Both recipes serve two people.

Version 1:

1 spaghetti squash (you’ll only need about a quarter of it)
6 tbsp olive oil
1 crown of broccoli, cut into florets
2 cloves of garlic, chopped.
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp pine nuts
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan and Asiago cheese.

Cut the squash in half. Take out the seeds. Place cut side down in a baking pan with sides.  Pour in some water to 1/2 an inch.  Bake at 350 until soft, about 45 – 60 minutes.

Pour 4 T. of the oil into a deep saute pan.  Heat and add the chopped garlic and broccoli.  Saute until the broccoli looks sauteed. Put 1/4 – 1/2 cups of water in to the pan, cover and cook until the broccoli has softened.  You may omit this step if you like it really al dente.

Add the pine nuts and parsley  and scrape the spaghetti squash into the pan, stir and add the 2 T. of oil to moisten the squash. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve in two bowls topped with the grated cheeses.

Version 2:

3 cups butternut squash
Spaghetti bsquash (one quarter of a cooked squash)
1/4 cup olive oil plus 2 tablespoons
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
Optional: toasted walnuts or pecans and crumbled gorgonzola to taste

Peel, cube and steam the butternut squash.  Pour the oil into the pan, add the garlic and saute.

Add the steamed butternut squash, scraped spaghetti squash and parsley.

Just before removing from the pan add the nuts and gorgonzola to soften. Or garnish with these two after plating.

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FEBRUARY: Cranberry Pear Pie

CRUST:

2.5 cups of all purpose flour
.5 tsp salt
2 sticks of unsalted butter
4 T. chilled vegetable shortening
4 – 6 T. ice water

Place flour and salt in Food Processor.  Pulse to mix. Add Butter cut into tablespoons, pulse until mixed. Add Shortening. Pulse again until the mixture is granluar.

Slowly add ice water a little at a time. Pulse until the dough comes together between your fingers. If it still crumbles add a bit more water.

Pour out onto waxed paper. Form into a large ball. Cut in half . Shape one half into a circle, the other into a square.  Refrigerate wrapped in waxed paper and a plastic bag 2 hours or until cold enough to roll.

FILLING:

2.5 cups of fresh or frozen cranberries
1.25 cups of sugar
1/4 cups of water or cranberry juice
2.5 T. cornstarch
1/4 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp cardamon
2-3 medium ripe pears, peeled, cored and sliced thinly. Enough for 3 cups
1 T. unsalted butter
1 egg beaten with 1 T. milk or light cream for glaze
whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

Put cranberries, sugar and liquid into a medium sized saucepan. Bring to a boil, stir, and cook until the skins start to pop, about 5 minutes. Combine cornstarch, allspice and cardamom in a small bowl. Stir into hot cranberries and continue cooking and stirring until it comes to a full boil, thickens and the liquid looks clear.

Remove from the heat. Peel core and slice pears.  Add to the cranberry mixture, stir and let cool.

ASSEMBLY:

Preheat oven to 375
Place a half sheet pan into the oven.  This will help cook the bottom crust.

Roll out the round piece of pastry on a floured board into a 12 inch circle. Fit into a 9 inch pie plate. Trim the pastry to 1/2 inch of an overhang. Turn the cranberry pear filling into the pie. Dot with 1 tablespoon. butter.

Roll the rectangular piece into approximately a 10 x 6 rectangle. With a pastry cutter or sharp knife cut 12 – 14 strips, 1/2 inch wide and 10 inches long.  Weave the strips over the filling to make a lattice crust. I like to lay one set of strips down and weave the second set into the first layer. Crimp the edges together and decorate by fluting or pressing with your own style.

There will be extra crust. Roll the crust out and using a small leaf patter cut as many pieces as possible.  Transfer these to a parchment lined half sheet pan.

Carefully brush the lattice, the crust and leaves with the beaten egg wash. To prevent browning cover the edge of the pie with tin foil.

Place the pie into the baking sheet in the oven. Place leaves into the oven as well.
Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil. The leaves should be checked at 20 minutes.  Bake these until golden brown and remove from oven. After 30 minutes remove the foil and continue baking until the crust is a golden brown. Remove to a rack to cool.

Decorate the pie with the pastry leaves, all around the edges or over the lattice. Be creative.

Reheat at 350 for 10 minutes before serving.

Adapted from “The Dessert Lover’s Cookbook” by Marlene Sorosky. If you can find this cookbook it is a winner.  I received it in 1987 for my birthday.

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MARCH: Bran Applesauce Muffins

I happen to love bran muffins and have many recipes. This is my current one using fresh homemade apple sauce.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup bran flakes ( I crumble these into the measuring cup )
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup apple sauce
2 large eggs
1/2 cup of liquid honey
1/2 cup of golden raisins

Since my apple sauce was sweetened this time, I only used 1/3 cup of honey.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Grease 12 large muffin cups.

Stir together the flours, bran flakes, baking powder and soda, and spices. Pour in the oil and apple sauce.

Beat together the eggs and the honey and add to the bowl. Stir together until just mixed.  Do not over mix. Fold in the raisins.

Using an ice cream scoop transfer to 12 muffin cups. Bake 20-25 minutes. Remove from the tray and cool.

I like them hot out of the oven. I freeze leftovers in bags of 2 and keep them in my freezer.

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APRIL: St. Louis Orange Cake

You will need a bundt or tube pan for this cake.

Ingredients:

CAKE
1 & 3/4 cup sifter flour
1 tsp. b.powder
1 tsp. b.soda
2 sticks soft unsalted butter
1  cup sugar
2.5 tsp finely grated orange zest
3 large eggs, separated
1 cup low fat yogurt or full fat if you prefer
1.5 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt

GLAZE
1/2 cup of fresh O.J.
3 T. fresh lemon juice
1/ 2 cup of sugar

Sift flour, baking soda, and baking powder 3 time.

Beat butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add 1 cup of sugar.

Add orange zest and beat until light and fluffy, about 5-8 minutes. Add egg yolks one by one.
Add the yogurt and vanilla and again beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Fold in the flour mix with a wooden spoon ( I usually just beat it in.)

Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until it makes soft peaks. Fold the egg whites in and pour into a buttered and floured bundt or tube pan.

Bake at 325 for 1 hour.

Let rest 15 minutes and turn out onto a cake dish.

In a non corrosive pan mix the remaining 1/ 2 cup of sugar, orange juice and lemon juice. Cook these until you have a thick syrup.

Brush the hot cake with the syrup and serve.

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MAY: Grilled Eggplant And Red Pepper Lasagna

I came up with this recipe because I had some extra grilled eggplant and was looking for something interesting to do with it.  It’s vegetarian so great for all of those pot lucks that we all keep getting invited to.

Ingredients:

3 large eggplant, sliced, brushed with oil and grilled
2 red pepper, grilled or roasted whole, then sliced or large dice

1 box of no cook lasagna noodles: I used 9 sheets

BÉCHAMEL: 1/3 lb of butter
4 scallions, sliced
1/2 cup of flour
4 cup s of light cream or half milk and half cream
1.5 cups of grated parmesan cheese
dash of nutmeg, bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste

FILLING:
3 cups of ricotta
3 eggs
1/2 cup minced parsley
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

TOPPING:
3 cups of Grated Mozzarella

Prepare the eggplant and red pepper by grilling or roasting them. Slice eggplant before grilling. Red pepper can be grilled/roasted whole, in slices, or in large dice.

Next make the bechamel sauce. Melt the butter in a large pot. Add the scallions and saute until soft.  Add the flour and cook, whisking all the while, until lightly browned. Add the bay leaf. Slowly pour in the liquid, whisking as you go. Stir until you see it start to thicken. If it gets too thick you may add additional milk or cream. Once it is thickened to your taste add the parsley, parmesan, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Turn off the heat.

Mix the filling ingredients together.
Remove the bay leaf from the béchamel.

Using a deep 9×12 oven-safe dish or lasagna pan, begin layering. First a layer of béchamel, then the eggplant and red peppers, filling, lasagna noodles, I used 3 per layer, the béchamel, and then top with 1 cup of the grated mozzarella. Repeat 3 times.

Bake at 350 for one hour or one and a half, depending on your oven.

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JUNE: Rhubarb Kuchen

It’s rhubarb season and my rhubarb patch is starting to produce after 3 years. But my friend Mary’s is in full bloom and she told me to help myself. So I did, several times.

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup of soft butter
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla

2 cups of Rhubarb, sliced 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon or cardamon
2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Grease a 9 inch cake pan with a removable bottom.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

First prepare the rhubarb. Place the rhubarb and sugar in a pan. Do not add liquid as, the rhubarb is loaded with moisture. Stir until it is just soft and the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Add spice and lemon juice. Let cool.

Using an electric mixer, cream the sugar and butter until soft. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt and add to the butter mix in batches, scraping the bottom of the bowl.

Add the eggs one at a time. Then add the vanilla. Scrape the bottomof the bowl until the mixture isl smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out.

Now, drain the rhubarb through a sieve into a bowl. DO NOT DISCARD THE LIQUID.

Spread the rhubarb on top of the batter to within 1/2 inch of the sides. You may drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the liquid. Bake one hour or until set. Serve with hot coffee or vanilla ice cream.

Now here’s the EVIL part. Refrigerate the liquid. Mix with drinking water, seltzer, vodka, or gin. Who knows what trouble that will create. I will probably gain a few pounds just adding it to my drinking water while I sit here at the computer or work in the studio. It’s really yummy. Of course you could put it into ice cube trays and add it to a drink that way!!! Ice mold for a summer punch?

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JULY: Deluxe Tuna Sandwich

I just got back from my pilates class and was starving so I made myself a great sandwich for breakfast. Of course, I just happened to have everything ready and in my fridge.

Ingredients:

Sliced bread, toasted
Grilled Ahi tuna
Caramelized onions
Avocado
Mayonnaise

Prepare the tuna:  I put mayonnaise, salt and pepper on  the tuna and grill to medium rare. You could use whatever sauce you like.  I also have a bottled ginger soy marinade that I like.

Prepare the carmelized onions:  Cut the onion in half and slice thinly. Heat olive oil in a pan, lower the heat, and cook onions slowly being careful not to burn them.  When they start to get soft throw in a teaspoon or two of brown sugar and one or two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Quantities depend upon how much onion you use.

Prepare your sandwich:
Toast the bread, slather both sides with mayonnaise.
Slice 1/4 of an avocado and spread on one sid and top with caramelized onions.
Flake the tuna so that it is flat.
Close, cut  and enjoy.

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AUGUST: Warm Celery Root With Mustard Sauce

Ingredients:

1 large celery root (celeriac) or 3 small
2 T lemon juice
2 T mayonnaise
2 T plain yogurt
2 tsp dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
2 T   minced parsley

Peel the skin of the celery root and cut into julienne sticks to make 2 cups. Cover with water and lemon juice in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 12 – 15 minutes or until tender. Drain. Put into a bowl.

Stir together the mayo, yogurt, mustard, salt , pepper and parsley. Pour the mixture over the celery root, toss and correct seasonings as needed.

4 servings.

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SEPTEMBER: Vermont / Thai Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:

1 medium butternut squash, about 2 or 2.5 lbs, peeled, seeded, and cubed
4 T. butter
1 apple peel and diced
1 pear peel and diced
1 large onion dicedd
1 piece of ginger, about thumb size, peeled and diced
1 3 inch piece of lemon grass, chopped
1 T. curry powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 can coconut milk
2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
salt and white pepper to taste

Melt butter in a soup pot. Saute onions until soft, add the spices and cook for 1 minute until melded together.  Add the squash and fruit, place a piece of waxed paper over the pot and cover with the lid. Let stew gently for 10 minutes. Remove the waxed paper and add the coconut milk and the stock. If the vegetables are not covered add more stock or water. Cook until everything is soft.

Add salt and pepper to taste.  You can also adjust the seasonings here.  More cumin? Curry? Coriander?

Cool and puree with emersion blender or in the cuisinart.  Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche.

This recipe makes about 8 cups.

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OCTOBER: Herbed Tuscan Chicken

I received a call from a client last week asking me to make Herbed Tuscan Chicken. I said, “Of course, no problem.“  Then I went to the internet and found 12 recipes.  Here’s my version — I thought it was pretty good.

Ingredients:

12  – 6 oz pieces boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup olive oil
6 cloves of garlic minced
2 T. chopped fresh Rosemary
1 T. chopped fresh Thyme
Rind and juice from 2 lemons
3 pints of cherry tomatoes, mixed red and orange

Place 12 breasts in a glass casserole.  Mix all of the marinade ingredients together , pour over the chicken, cover  and marinate 1 hour in the fridge.

Pour some of the marinade in to a deep saute pan. Sear the chicken pieces, a few at a time, and place in a casserole dish for baking.

Add the cherry tomatoes to the pan with the rest of the marinade and cook until soft and you can mash them. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the chicken pieces.

Bake for 30  minutes at 350 degrees.

Serve with risotto and a green salad.

Serves 12

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NOVEMBER: Eggplant Parmesan With Fresh Mozzarella

I was looking through some of my food magazines last week for something new to make for a vegetarian meal.  I found this and made it for 8 for dinner. It was fast and easy and delicious. I have since made it for breakfast for my B&B guests with a poached egg on top.  They loved it.  And I am thinking of using it for a vegetarian option at weddings as well as the Napoleon version that I am already doing. This is from Bon Appetit October 2013.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup plus 2 T. olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, finely chopped
10 cloves of garlic, 2 finely chopped, 8 whole
2 T. tomato paste  ( I used the one with herbs in it )
1 28 0z. can whole peeled tomatoes  ( I used Muir Clen Diced Fire Roasted )
4 medium or 8 small eggplant, about 4 lbs halved lengthwise
8 sprigs fresh oregano
1 & 1/4 cups fresh bread crumbs
12 oz. fresh mozzarella torn or sliced
3 oz. parmesan, finely grated, about 3/4 cup

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a vegetable peeler remove skin from around the rounded side of the eggplant half, leaving a 1 inch strip around the cut edge.Place eggplant in one or two  large rimmed baking sheets ( half sheet pans) placing the oregano sprigs and whole garlic around the eggplant. Add 1/2 cup of oil and turn to coat the eggplant. Season with salt and pepper, turn face down.

Cover the pan tightly with tin foil and bake for 40 – 45 minutes or until soft.

Heat 1/4 cup of oil in a saucepan over medium high heat. Add onion and cook until browning on the edges. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add tomato paste, stir and cook 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, bring to a boil. Add salt and pepper and cook on medium heat, cover slightly, for about 15 – 20 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft and have fallen apart. The sauce should have thickened by this time.  Set aside.

Toss breadcrumbs with 2 T. oil in a small bowl. Remove eggplant from the oven and turn right side up.  Cover with the tomato sauce and mozzarella. Sprinkle with the bread crumbs and top with the parmesan. Bake until the mozzarella is bubbling and the bread crumbs are golden, 25 – 30 minutes.

Sauce and eggplant can be made a day ahead. Assemble 4 hours before cooking so that you can visit with your guests.

serves 8

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DECEMBER: Norwegian Cardamom-Almond Tart

This is a wonderful cake like tart with a moist filling that I found in Bon Appetit. The original directions called for pressing the crust into the shell by hand. I found that after chilling it was easy to roll as well. The extra crust is used to make cut out designs to top the filling. When cooled dust the top with 10x sugar for a wintery look.

9 inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom
decorative cookie cutters

CRUST:
1.25 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cardamom, preferably freshly ground
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup ( one stick ) unsalted butter, room temp.
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp. whole milk or heavy cream

FILLING:
Unsalted butter for the pan
2 cups of slivered almonds
1 cup powdered ( 10x ) sugar
3/4 tsp. ground cardamom, freshly ground if possible
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
3 large egg whites
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
10 x for decoration

CRUST:
Whisk the flour, baking powder, cardamom and salt in a medium bowl.  Set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat 1/2 cup of butter and sugar in a medium bowl until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in egg yolk and milk. with mixer running on low speed, gradually add dry ingredients and beat just until thoroughly combined.
Pat dough in to a ball.  Break off 1/4th of the dough and form into two disks. Wrap and chill for 2 hours.

FILLING:
Butter the tart pan. On a floured board roll out the larger piece and carefully lift into the tart shell. Press the sides down and trim flush with the rim of the pan. Using the extra scraps and 1/4 round roll out onto a floured board and cut decorative cookie, star or leaf shapes out.  Place these on a parchment covered half sheet pan. Cover and chill pie and cut outs for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350. Pulse almonds, powdered sugar, cardamom and nutmeg until nuts are finely ground. Transfer to a medium bowl. Using the electric mixer and wire whisk, beat egg whites and vanilla until medium peaks form.  Gently fold egg whites into the almond mix in batches to keep light.

Whisk egg yolks and 2 tsp water in a small bowl. Fill crust with the almond mixture.  Smooth the top. Arrange the cut outs on the top and brush with the egg yolk mixture.  There should be extra cut outs. Sprinkle these with sugar and bake on the parchment paper until golden.

Bake the tart until the filling is set and the crust is golden brown.  30 – 35 minutes.
Transfer to a wire rack and cool.  When totally cool dust with 10 x sugar.

I found that the crusts did not turn the golden brown that I wanted in the 35 minutes,  so the 10 x was a good solution.

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