Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Everything but the kitchen sink soup....

I decided to make soup and figured I'd use what I had in the fridge and pantry. I had a lamb shoulder leftover and figured I could make stock with it and get the rest of the meat off the bones. Since there wasn't much meat left I looked in the pantry and found dried white beans and farro. I made Jamie Oliver's tray chicken while the soup cooked and we had the soup another night. If you want to try the tray chicken google it or look on my blog, January 24, 2011.

Everything but the kitchen sink soup....

1 lamb shoulder bone or chicken carcass
2 bay leaves
4 - 5 quarts of water

8 ounces dried white beans

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large red onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled, cored and pressed
3 carrots, diced
4 celery stalks, diced
1 cup farro
2 cups white wine
1-2 cups chicken stock
1 box Pomi chopped tomatoes
3 sprigs fresh thyme
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Place the lamb bones in the water with the bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Simmer for a couple of hours. Strain out the bones and stray bits. Shred the lamb. Set aside.

Place white beans in a pan and cover with water. Let soak for a couple of hours. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes. Drain and rinse.

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion and saute until it is softened and translucent. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the carrots and celery and cook about 5 minutes. Throw in the farro and toast about 5 minutes. Pour in 1 cup wine and bring to a boil. Cook until reduced, about 5 minutes. Add the lamb stock and 1 cup of the chicken stock, tomatoes, the white beans, shredded lamb and thyme sprigs. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for at least an hour. Best if made a day or 2 ahead and reheated. The farro will absorb alot of liquid. Add more stock and/or wine if it becomes too thick. Season to taste.

Serve with hot sauce and warm crusty bread. Share with your friends and neighbors. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dinner Party with Friends

I had been wanting to have our friends Duke and Jan over for months to celebrate Duke's birthday. We finally got our schedules straightened out and made a date. I wanted to make something warm and cozy for a rainy evening. I found this recipe in the October issue of Food & Wine. Here's the link I knew we all loved lamb and braising meant I didn't have to fuss over anything when my guests arrived. I also chose Broccoli with Bacon, Blue Cheese and Ranch Dressing from the September issue of Food & Wine. Here's the link For dessert I made a Southern Pecan Pie like my mother and grandmother made.

Braised Lamb with Potatoes my way

One ~4 pound lamb shoulder roast, well trimmed
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 slices of bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large red onions, thinly sliced
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken stock
2-3 thyme sprigs
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 bay leaf
4 Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced 1/2 inch thick
Chives, chopped for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375°. Season the lamb all over with salt and pepper.

In a large stove and oven safe pan, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the lamb and cook over moderately high heat until browned all over, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer the lamb to a plate.

Add the bacon to the pan. Cook over moderate heat, stirring a few times, until the bacon is lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add the onions and cook, stirring a few times, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and boil over high heat until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes. Add the stock, thyme, garlic and bay leaf. Return the lamb to the pan along with any accumulated juices. Cover with foil. Braise in the oven for 1 1/2 hours.

Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the lamb to a plate. Nestle the potato slices into the cooking liquid. Turn the lamb over and set it on top of the potatoes. Replace the foil and bake for ~1 1/2 hours longer, until the lamb falls apart and the potatoes are very tender.

Let lamb rest for 15 minutes. Cut or pull apart lamb. Discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaf and season the braising liquid with salt and pepper.

Garnish the potatoes with the chives.

Broccoli with Bacon, Blue Cheese and Ranch Dressing my way

1 large garlic clove, peeled, cored and pressed
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper 3/4 cup buttermilk
~1/2 cup plain, fat free Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large heads of broccoli, cut into florets or bite size pieces
4 slices of bacon
Roquefort cheese, crumbled 
Chives, chopped for garnish

Add the garlic with a generous pinch of salt to a 2 cup glass measuring cup. Mash together the gralic and salt and whisk in the buttermilk, yogurt and cider vinegar. Whisk in the vegetable oil and season the ranch dressing generously with pepper.

In a large, deep pot, bring water to a boil. Set the broccoli in a steamer basket and steam until bright green and crisp-tender, ~5 minutes. Transfer the broccoli to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, in a skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat until it's golden and crisp. Drain on paper towels. Chop into pieces.

Drizzle broccoli with the ranch dressing, top with the bacon and Roquefort and sprinkle with chives.

Southern Pecan Pie

1 cup Karo dark corn syrup
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons sherry or bourbon
1-1/2 cups pecans, toasted for about 5 minutes
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate pieces

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix corn syrup, eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla and sherry using a spoon. Stir in pecans. Pour filling into pie crust.

Bake on center rack of oven for 60 minutes (see tips for doneness, below). Cool before serving.

See the crust recipe below. Add the chocolate to the warm crust.

Basic Pie Dough from The Fearless Baker by Emily Luchetti and Lisa Weiss (my cousin)

2 3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
pinch kosher salt
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into ~16 cubes
~ 5 tablespoons ice cold water

Combine flour, sugar, salt and butter in a food processor. Pressing the pulse button quickly, pulse the mixture until the butter is the size of small peas, about 5-10 pulses. Do not overmix.

Add the 5 tablespoons of the water then pulse until the dough is crumbly. Stop the food processor and gently squeeze about 1/3 cup of the dough in your hand. If it comes together without dry pieces, you've added enough water. If it still floury, pulse in more water if necessary or continue to mix until the dough forms small clumps. Do not process it to the point where it forms a ball.

Form the into 2 flat disks about 1 inch thick. Don't overwork the dough. You can 2 pies or divide so that 1 disk is about 2/3 of the dough and the other 1/3. Use the larger one for the bottom crust and the smaller one for the top of a pie. Wrap the disks in plastic wrap and chill for about 1 hour. You can also freeze it for about 2 months. Take the dough out of the refrigerator about 15 minutes before trying to roll it out. If frozen let it thaw overnight in the fridge.

Roll out the dough using the rolling pin. The dough should be about 2 inches bigger than your pie dish. This is not for a deep dish pie. Place dough in your pie pan and crimp the edges.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line the bottom with parchment pepper and fill with pie weights. Trim any excess parchment paper. You can also line with foil and prick holes in the dough through the foil. Bake the dough 20-30 minutes until brown. Remove from the oven and place chocolate in the warm pie crust.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fast and easy Greek food

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Whole Grain Goodness

Mike and I love whole grains like barley and bulgur and I like finding new recipes with these ingredients. This recipe from Good Housekeeping is a one dish meal with chicken, barley and vegetables. Here's the link

Toasted Barley and Chicken Pilaf

 1 1/2 cups pearl barley
3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch chunks
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
~1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried thyme
~1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat deep nonstick saute pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add barley and cook ~5 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring occasionally. Transfer barley to large bowl.

In same skillet, heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add chicken and cook about 5 minutes or just until it loses its pink color on the outside, stirring occasionally. Transfer chicken to bowl with barley.

In same skillet, in remaining 1 teaspoon oil, cook carrots, celery, and onion over medium heat ~7 minutes. Stir in mushrooms and cook about 2 minutes longer or until most of liquid evaporates and vegetables are tender and lightly browned.

Return chicken and barley to skillet; stir in broth, thyme, nutmeg,  kosher salt, and pepper. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 30 to 35 minutes or until barley is tender and chicken is no longer pink in center.

This was a heart warming dish and hit the spot. Enjoy! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Autumn Vegetables

Some of our favorite vegetables are in season like Brussels sprouts and butternut squash. This recipe from the San Francisco Chronicle by Amanda Gold combines the vegetables plus toasted croutons in a fall version of panzanella. Panzanella usually combines stale bread cut in cubes with fresh tomatoes, olive oil and vinegar. This recipe takes the panzanella into fall. Here's the link

Sorry charley29, I forgot to take pictures again. Too hungry I guess.

Autumn Panzanella my way

2 cups day-old Italian bread or levain, cut into 1-inch cubes
6 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 of 1 large butternut squash, stem end trimmed and cut in half lengthwise (I'm going to make soup with the other half)
1 1/2 pound Brussels sprouts, halved or quartered, ends trimmed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small shallot, minced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
1/2 small red onion, sliced thin
freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400°.

Scoop out the seeds from the butternut squash. I've found a melon baller works best. Season with kosher salt and pepper. Coat cut size with a thin layer of olive oil, about 1 tablespoon. Place cut side down on baking sheet. Bake for ~ 30 minutes until flesh is soft and skin or peel browns and blisters. Remove from oven and let cool. The skin will peel off.

On half of one rimmed baking sheet, toss the bread cubes with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and season generously with salt and pepper. Spread out in a single layer. On the other half of the sheet pan, do the same with the Brussels sprouts, using another 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.

Bake the bread for about 10 minutes, shaking the pan once about halfway through cooking. Place in a large bowl and set aside. Let Brussels sprouts cook for about 20 minutes, turn them over so that both sides brown.

While the bread and vegetables are roasting, make the vinaigrette. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and stir to coat. Cook until the butter begins to take on a golden brown color and nutty aroma, stirring periodically, about 4-5 minutes. Take care not to let the butter burn. Remove from heat, and whisk in the remaining olive oil, lemon juice and syrup. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

When the vegetables are done, add them to the bowl, along with the sliced onions. Toss everything together with the vinaigrette and toss with the Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice if needed.

I cooked turkey Italian sausages and finished them with a splash of olive oil and red wine vinegar. It was a wonderful combo. We drank a Beringer Meritage with our dinner and it was a great match. Enjoy!

Monday, November 7, 2011

My Southern roots are showing

I found a recipe for a slow cooker braised pork. I don't have a crock pot so I took the flavors and ingredients and adapted it for the oven. The recipe is from Here's the link

I decided to make cornbread to go with it and used an old recipe from a Southern Junior League cookbook that was my grandmother's. The pork and cornbread combo reminds me of growing up in NC and eating at my grandparents' house. So here's alittle a piece of the South with alittle South of the Border.

Braised Pork in Tomatillo Salsa my way

~2 pounds boneless pork butt, trimmed and cut into pieces
1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons cumin
kosher salt and pepper
~2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
~2 cups white wine
~2 cups chicken stock
1 red onion, sliced
2 large garlic cloves, peeled, cored and pressed
3 tomatoes, sliced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 jar tomatillo salsa (pick your heat level)
optional garnishes: chopped cilantro, sour cream, chopped green onions, shredded Monterey jack cheese or queso fresco

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put flour, cumin and salt and pepper into ziplock bag. Add pork, seal and shake until the pork is well coated.

Heat oil in large pan able to go on stove and into oven. Shake excess flour off of pork and add to pan. Brown pork over medium heat on all sides. Remove from pan.

Pour in more oil if too dry. Add onions and cook until they begin to soften. Add garlic and cook a couple of minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until they begin to fall apart. Add wine and let simmer about 4-5 minutes until sauce thickens. Stir in chicken stock and salsa. Add pork.

Cover pan and place in oven. Bake for ~2 hours until pork is fall apart tender. I made this the day before and reheated it.

Serve in bowls with any desired garnishes.

Zola's cornbread from Furniture City Feasts High Point, NC Junior League Cookbook 1974

1 cup corn meal
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
1/2 vegetable oil
1/2 can creamed corn
1/2 container light sour cream
1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix all ingredients together. Pour into large cast iron skillet sprayed with vegetable spray. Cook for approximately 20-25 minutes until the cornbread pulls away from the sides and is golden brown. Serve with butter.

Mike and I really enjoyed this and the cornbread was wonderful with it. Cold weather comfort food. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pumpkin Bread

This is one of my old, favorite recipes that I have made over and over since before Abigail was born-more than 20 years. I remember that I got it from Pacific Sun, a freebie local paper but can not credit the original cook. Sorry about that but I have lost the clipping. Here's link at their website if you're interested in the paper, I still pick it every week I made 5 mini loaves around Halloween and gave as gifts to some friends from Abigail's elementary school days. Then I made 2 large loaves, one I took to work and the other I gave to our neighbors who are expecting their 2nd baby. I just made 2 more large loaves that I'm going to freeze and send back to Abigail in NY and my parents in NC. I don't know why I so obsessed with it right now except that makes your house smell amazing and it is delicious. I'm into making it without nuts, raisins or anything else these days but I have added those in the past and it is good that way. I have also thought of putting a cream cheese frosting on it but it doesn't really need it.

Pumpkin Bread my way

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 cups unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 cups canned pumpkin
~6 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2-9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pans or 5 mini foil loaf pans and sprinkle with flour. Tip pans to evenly coat with flour and knock out excess.

Combine the dry ingredients and set aside.

In a deep mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs in one at a time and then add the pumpkin.

Add the dry ingredients about 1 cup at a time. After the cup of dry ingredients is fully incorporated add 2 tablespoons water and beat. Repeat with the remaining dry ingredients and water, 1 cup and 2 tablespoons at a time. Beat well after each addition.

Pour batter into pans and gently shake pans to distribute batter evenly (the batter is delicious by the way, feel free to lick the beaters). Bake in the middle of the oven for about 55 minutes for the large loaves and about 45 minutes for the small ones depending on your oven and until the sides of the loaves shrink away from the pans and a cake tester comes out of the center cleanly. Do not fill the pans full as these loaves rise and will overflow.

Cool on wire racks.

This bread is incredibly moist and not too sweet. It is delicious alone or toasted with cream cheese. Mike is not a pumpkin pie fan and loves this bread. The loaves make great homemade gifts or hostess gifts during the holidays. I plan on making more and might add raisins, pecans, walnuts or even chopped dried apricots. Experiment and enjoy!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Braise Week

My Facebook Foodies group is doing braises this week. Conveniently it got cool here-perfect weather for braises. I found this recipe on from Bon Appetit October 2007. Here's the link: I have been making pumpkin bread and have cans of pumpkin and partial cans of pumpkin around so this was a perfect recipe for this week.

Pumpkin Chicken Goulash my way

~1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into bite size pieces
~1 teaspoon smoked paprika
~1/2 cup Hungarian paprika
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
~1 1/2 cups canned pure pumpkin
4 garlic cloves, peeled, cored and pressed
1 bay leaf
1 dried thyme sprig

~1/2 pound egg noodles like De Cecco egg fettuccine
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 /2 cup low fat sour cream

Place chicken, paprika, salt, and pepper in large resealable plastic bag. Seal bag; shake. Heat oil in large pot over medium high heat. Remove chicken from spice mixture (reserve spice mixture in bag). Add chicken to pot; cook 5 minutes. Place onions in bag with spice mixture. Seal bag; shake to coat. Add onions to pot; cook 5 minutes, turning occasionally. Add broth, pumpkin, garlic, bay leaf, and thyme; bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer about 45 minutes. Remove from heat and add sour cream.

Cook noodles in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Drain noodles; return to pot. Add butter and caraway seeds to noodles. Toss until butter melts. Place noodles in bowls and put goulash over the noodles.

Fantastic! Mike and I loved this and had a local Pinot Noir with it, Pey Marin Vineyards Pinot Noir, It was great for a cold night and we have some leftovers too.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pan Seared Salmon with Pumpkin Seed Cilantro Pesto oh yeah!

Salmon with Cilantro Pesto and Pumpkin Seeds and roasted sweet potatoes
My Facebook Foodie group has picked some food themes and we post what we cooked. Last week was fish, my pick-I'm trying to eat it more often. I saw this wonderful looking recipe in the November Bon Appetit by Janet McCracken. Here's the link

Pan-Seared Salmon with Pumpkin Seed-Cilantro Pesto my way

~2 1/2 teaspoons teaspoons plus 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 cup shelled pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup (firmly packed) cilantro leaves and stems
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 small garlic clove, cored and chopped in several pieces
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2  6 ounce fresh wild King salmon fillets 

Heat ~1 1/2 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pumpkin seeds; sauté until beginning to brown and pop, about 2 minutes. Transfer seeds to paper towels to drain; let cool. Reserve skillet.

Pulse 6 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, cilantro, coriander, cumin seeds, and garlic in a food processor until coarsely chopped. With machine running, gradually add 1 tablespoon lime juice, 1/4 cup oil, then 1/4 cup water and blend. Season pesto to taste with salt and pepper.

Heat remaining ~1 teaspoon olive oil in reserved skillet over medium heat. Season salmon fillets with salt and pepper. Add to skillet and cook until just opaque in center, 3–4 minutes per side. Place fillets on plates. Spoon pesto over. Garnish with remaining pumpkin seeds.

Peel 1 sweet potato and slice into thick slices. Toss with extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Spread on cookie sheet and cook in approximately 375 degree oven until brown and crispy outside and soft and creamy inside, about 20 minutes.

This pesto and salmon combo was delicious and the pan searing method was easy. I loved the crispy outside of the salmon. The sweet potatoes were a nice side accompaniment. All in all 2 thumbs up from Mike and I! Enjoy!