JANUARY: Virgin New Years Eve Soup

It’s almost New Years Eve and I am cooking for friends. The main course is duck and I was trying to think of what I wanted for a first course. While looking through the latest food Magazines I came across a recipe for a white cabbage soup with spiced pears. Something about the whiteness got me so.. I thought, what white vegetables would I like to work with. I had a Gilfeather Turnip in the frig , plus lots of Yukon Gold Potatoes,parsley, sage, oregano and thyme. So I went shopping to see what I could find. Another small turnip, one large parsnip later, a few leeks…. and here’s the recipe in my usual free form.

Ingredients:

3 average Leeks, cleaned and White part mostly, ( I hate to waste all of that greens so I go up a ways)
1 bunch of Scallions, sliced
1/2 large onion, chopped
4 T. butter
4 T. olive oil
2 medium size Gilfeather Turnips, peel, cut into 1/2 in squares
1 large parsnip peeled and sliced
6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes peeled and cut into chunks.

6 or so fresh sage leaves, chopped
6 cups of broth, chicken or vegetable
3 cups of light cream
a pinch of nutmeg
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat the butter and oil in a large pot, sauté the onions until soft and clear.

Add the parsnip, turnip, potato and sage. Sweat the vegetables for a few minute on a low to medium heat. ( Place a sheet of waxed paper over the pot, put the lid on).

Remove the lid and paper, Add the 6 cups of broth to the pot , or more, so that the vegetables are just covered. Cook until all the vegetables are totally soft. Add the light cream a bit at a time as you puree the soup. Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.

The original recipe called for pumpernickel croutons. I had a multi grain bread in the house so I cubed it, tossed it with the barest of olive oil. I put the croutons on a sheet tray and toasted in the oven until the were dry and crisp. They will look pretty on the white soup. If I hadn’t used all of the sage leaves I would float one on the top as well.

 

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FEBRUARY: Roast Chicken

It’s winter and time to settle in and stay out of the cold. One of my favorite meals is Roast Chicken.  The house smells great and I can have several meals from it. People often ask me how I manage to make such a moist chicken, so here’s my secret.

For a 3 lb chicken I set the oven to 425.

I generously cover the chicken with kosher salt, inside and out. Then I stick a pierced lemon in the cavity. If the chicken is too small I use half a lemon.  If I do not have a lemon I stuff rosemary branches under the skin, carefully so that I do not rip it.

I put the chicken on a small rack, BREAST side down.  I bake it for 40 minutes like that.
Then I turn it over to finish it.

It usually takes one hour for a three pound chicken.  If it is starting to brown too much and is not finished, you can loosely cover the chicken with tin foil.

Adjust time and turning to the size of the bird.  Make certain that you have a can of cranberry sauce in the house, or my Purple Chef Mango Chutney.

 

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MARCH: Sake Marinated Grilled Salmon

Another winter staple, or any time of the year is my favorite marinade for salmon. To confess, I have made this so often that I never measure and just grab what ever elements of the recipe I have in the house. I marinate it for at least 1 hour at room temp. Here’s the original recipe.

Ingredients:

6 each 6 ounce pieces of fish ( one and a quarter inches thick )
1 thick piece of ginger, about one inch, peeled and chopped
1 cup Mirin
1/2 cup Sake
1/2 cup Tamari
1/4 cup white miso
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2T. brown sugar
Vegetable oil for frying.

Heat the oven to 400.

Arrange fish in a class dish, 2inches deep.

Blend all of the ingredients except the oil in the cuisinart and pour over the fish. Marinate 2 hours and no more than four hours.

Remove Fish from the marinade and let it dry on a rack. Heat the oil in a non stick skillet until hot.

Sear each piece of fish on both sides, or til golden. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, less if you like your fish rare or it is very thin.

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APRIL: Macaroons With Chocolate

Here’s a great basic recipe that I found for macaroons. Just in time for Passover. Guess who got asked to bring dessert! This is really simple and delicious, if you are a macaroon lover.

Ingredients:

For the macaroons:
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 (14 oz) bag of flaked coconut
2 egg whites
pinch of salt

For the chocolate topping:
6 oz dark chocolate
2 T. Crisco

In a large bowl mix the coconut with vanilla and condensed milk. Beat the 2 egg whites and salt until they are stiff. Gently fold the whites in to the coconut mixture.

Use a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.

Dip two soup spoons in water and shake off. Use these to form the macaroons and place atleast 1 inch apart on the parchment paper. Do not compress. Mine were a little bigger than golf ball size. Keep dipping and shaking the spoons as needed. I did it every 2 or 3 pieces. I got about 22 or 23 macaroons.

Bake in the oven for 20- 25 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Melt the chocolate and Crisco in a double boiler. When smooth drizzle over the cooling macaroons. There is enough chocolate to cover about 30 with the white bottoms showing. Let cool and set before moving. Use a very flat spatula to remove from the parchment.

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MAY: Flourless Mocha Cake

Makes one 9 inch cake, serves 8-12

Ingredients:

2 tsp instant Espresso Powder
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp hot coffee
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
9 T. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 eggs, separated
2 extra egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
Unsweetened cocoa or 10 X sugar for dusting

Set the oven to 350 degrees and lightly butter a 9 inch spring-form pan.

In a small bowl combine the espresso powder, vanilla and hot coffee.

In a mixing bowl whisk the melted chocolate and butter thoroughly.

In a large bowl, or the mixing bowl of your standing mixer, whisk the egg yolks and sugar for 2 – 3 minutes, or until lightly thickened. Blend in the espresso mixture, the melted chocolate and the butter.

In the electric mixer bowl with the whisk beat the egg whites just until the are starting to form, add the salt and continue beating until firm peaks form.

Stir a large spoon of the whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the rest vey carefully so that they hold form and there are no white streaks.

Spoon the batter into the pan. Gently smooth and place in the oven. Bake for 40 minutes or until set. Cool the cake in the pan.

When ready to serve release the sides and sprinkle with either cocoa or 10 x sugar.

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JUNE: Flourless Nut Cake

Here’s a recipe compliments of Wolfgang Puck. He says that he served this at Passover.
I think this would be great with an orange custard sauce or fruit sorbet

Ingredients:

1/2 cup ground toasted , skinned  hazelnuts
1/2 cup ground toasted walnuts
1/2 cup finely ground blanched almonds
1T. grated orange rind
6 eggs, separated and at room temp.
1/2 cup plus 2 T. sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8 inch 3 inch deep cake pan and line with waxed paper.

Combine all nuts and orange peel in a small bowl. Beat the egg yolks and 1/2 cup of sugar in the electric mixer until pale yellow and ribbon forms when the beater is lifted.

In a new bowl with the whisk attachment beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.  Slowly add the 2 T. sugar and beat until stiff peaks.

Fold the nut mix into the egg yolks. Gently fold the whites into the nut and egg mix.

Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 30 – 35 minutes and is golden brown.

This cake will puff up beautifully in the oven and then fall so don’t cry. Cool the cake in the pan.
Turn out onto a decorative plate and remove the waxed paper.  Dust with 10 x sugar or slivered toasted almonds.

Serves 8

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JULY: Cold Cucumber Soup

Here’s a perfect recipe to help you use up that bumper crop of cucumbers your garden has produced!

Ingredients:

2 long European cucumbers
4 large cloves of garlic
2 tsp. salt
Grated rind and juice of one lemon
3 cups of good quality Greek yogurt
1/2 cup of sour cream ( optional )
4T. olive oil
1-2 cups of cold water or ice cubes if you need to chill this quickly.
let the ice cubes melt half way and remove. You may still want to add cold water.
2 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Peel the cucumbers and grate on the small shredder blade of your cuisinart Transfer the pulp and liquid to a large bowl.

Mash the garlic cloves and 2 tsp salt with a mortar and pestle until totally soft and creamy in texture. Add.

Finely grate the rind of one lemon and then squeeze the liquid. Add both to the bowl.

Stir in the olive oil, Greek yogurt and sour cream.

Add 2 tsp sugar and stir in the water or ice cubes to thin and get the right consistency.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

This make about 8 cups and is very refreshing on a hot summer day. Even on a cold rainy one.

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AUGUST: Southwestern Black Bean Dip

Ingredients:

2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 ea. green pepper, chopped
1/2 ea. medium Spanish onion, chopped
2 T. olive oil
2 cans black beans ( 15 oz ), drained
3 T. fresh lime juice
1/4 cup packed cilantro
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp salt

Saute the garlic, green pepper, onion in the oil for 8 minutes or until soft.

Puree the remaining ingredients adding 2 T water and fresh pepper. Mix all together.

Serve with corn chips, pita chips and or crudite vegetables. Adjust seasonings to your level of spiciness.

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SEPTEMBER: Tomato Cucumber Salad

A salad to enjoy in the warmer weather.

Ingredients:

2 large beefsteak tomatoes, large dice
2 pickling cucumbers, halved and sliced
1/2 of a red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 of a cup of black Nicoise olives
1/2 cup of Feta, crumbled
a hand full of fresh mint leaves, chiffonade
2 T. rice wine vinegar
4 T. olive oil
salt and pepper

Mix all together and enjoy.

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OCTOBER: Tomato Cabbage Soup

A friend of mine took this recipe and added a touch of cinnamon.  It was good.

Ingredients:

1/3 cup of vegetable oil
3 cloves of garlic
1 spanish onion, diced
5 lb tomatoes pulsed in the cuisinart ( leave them chunky)
1.5 lb savoy cabbage thinly sliced
1.5 T. caraway seed
2 T. chick stock base ( cubes )
6 or more cups of water
1 T. sugar
1 bay leaf
juice of 2 lemons
Salt and pepper to taste

Optional: a dash of cinnamon.

Heat the oil in a deep pot on top of the stove. Add the onions and cook until softened. Add the garlic and stir for one minute. Add the crushed tomatoes and let them simmer for a few minutes or until softened . Add the cabbage, caraway, chicken stock and water and bay leaf.  Let that cook until everything has melted together.  You may need more water depending on the liquid of the tomatoes.

Near the end of the cooking period add the 1 T. of sugar, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.

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NOVEMBER: Roasted Beets With Feta

I brought this to another famous Vermont potluck and they loved it.

Ingredients:

4 medium to large beets
4 medium red onions
1/4 cup of olive oil
Salt and pepper

Crumbled feta
Minced parsley

Wash the beets and roll in olive oil. Bake covered in tin foil in a 375 oven until soft.
Peel the onions, roll in olive oil, salt and pepper them, and roast in a glass baking pan.

When the beets are done, cool and then peel. Cut into uneven pieces. Add them to the pan with the onions. Salt and pepper to taste.

Sprinkle with crumbled feta and chopped parsley.

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DECEMBER: Prancer’s Punch

This is a great nonalcoholic punch for the holidays. Not to say that a little Vodka wouldn’t help the festivities, but. I served this at an office party and they drank it all.

ICE MOLD:

Ingredients:

Jello mold, or any ring mold
A bag of cranberries
Water

Fill the mold with cranberries and pour water in slowly. (Or you could fill it with O.J. or Cider). Place in the freezer until needed. I always try to remember to make a decorative ice mold for punches. It is so much nicer than floating ice cubes.

PUNCH:

Ingredients:

4 quarts of water
3 cups of sugar
12 oz. lemon juice
1 quart of apple juice or cider
1 quart of cranberry juice
1 pint of orange juice
1 pint of strong black tea
LEAVE SELTZER TO LAST
1 large bottle of seltzer ( plain, lime, cranberry, your choice)

Mix the water and sugar in a large pot. Bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar. Let cool.
ADD REST OF THE INGREDIENTS EXCEPT THE SELTZER.
Refrigerate in 2 gallon containers.

When ready to serve pour one gallon into a punch bowl. Add half of the seltzer and float the ice mold. Refill with second gallon and more seltzer.

You can fudge the quantities or ingredients depending on what you have in the house. A little more or less cider or cranberry will be fine.

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