Karen's Cookbook

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GARLIC FRITES 

 

Chemex coffee filters work great for serving!!!!!

Sometimes I am just in the mood for garlic frites!  This recipe was given to me by one of the store's team members, Nina and they are out of this world simple and delicious!  The original recipe is from Ellie Krieger and the Food Network with some changes.

Ingredients:

3   cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2   Tablespoons canola oil

3   large baking potatoes (I've used russet, yukon gold, and sweet potatoes)

1/2   teaspoon kosher or sea salt

1   Tablespoon fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped

Freshly ground pepper (optional)

 

Preparation:

1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees

2.  Cut potatoes into 1/4" sticks, soak in cold water for a bit, drain, and dry thoroughly with a towel.

3.  Heat the oil in a small pan on a medium high heat, add the garlic, turning heat to low for 2 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic.  You are infusing the garlic flavor into the oil.

4.  Strain the garlic from the oil with a small mesh strainer and set both aside.

5.  In a large bowl toss the potatoes, oil, and salt.

6.  Lightly oil a large baking sheet and spread potatoes onto it in a single layer (I usually use two sheet pans).

7.  Bake until golden and crisp, about 35 minutes.

8.  Remove potatoes and toss with parsley and reserved garlic, adding additional salt to taste.  I love adding a little freshly ground pepper to finish things off.

Note:  I love experimenting with different herb combinations.  One of my favorite additions is infusing the oil not only with garlic but with a few fresh sage leaves!  Yum!

 

 

CREOLE SHRIMP

This was dinner, paired with a fabulous, chilled bottle of white wine, a great salad, and a good friend.  I'm an easy to please kinda girl.

Kale, lettuce from my garden, basil, and blueberries, simply wonderful!

Inspired by a customer, Donni Young, this dish makes a great appetizer, or you could serve it over rice with a baguette!

Serves: 2 (Adjust recipe to suit your needs)

Note:  This dish is a little bit on the spicy side!

Ingredients:

Between 12 and 16 large shrimp, raw with shells

1   Tablespoon Butter

2 - 3   Tablespoons Olive Oil

2 - 3   Teaspoons Wildflower Foods Creole Blend

 

To Prepare:

1.   Heat butter and olive oil on a medium high heat until butter is melted.

2.   Add Creole Blend and let infuse with the butter and olive oil.

3.   Add shrimp, making sure that all are coated well.

4.   Let shrimp cook for 2 minutes on each side.

5.   Pour shrimp into a bowl, making sure that you get all the sauce out of the pan and dig in.

  

TORTILLAS AND PICKLED ONIONS

There is nothing like homemade tortillas right off of the griddle!

What can I say about pickled onions except out of this world delicious!

My tortilla press!

I very rarely, if ever, buy tortillas in the store.  They are so simple to make and what a difference in taste and texture.  The only special equipment that you would need is a tortilla press, which now are so readily available.  I love the one that I sell in the store!

 

Yields:  About 8 to 10 tortillas                         Prep/Cook Time:  30 minutes

Ingredients:

2  cups flour

1  teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4  cup lard, room temperature (I know what you're thinking, lard, but there is no substitute and can be found in any grocery store)

1  Tablespoon vegetable oil (I use whatever I have on hand)

1/2  cup warm water (use more if needed)

 

1.    Place flour and salt in a bowl and cut in lard.  You can use a stand mixer or a food processor if you prefer.

2.    Add oil and mix in well.

3.    Add water until a dough is formed.

4.    Let dough rest for 30 minutes so that the gluten can relax.

5.    Cut dough into 8 to 10 pieces and roll into balls.

6.    Place a ball of dough in a floured tortilla press and press into a disk.

7.    Place disk on a floured surface and roll with a rolling pin until desired thickness.

8.    Cook on a hot griddle browning on one side and turning over to brown the other side. (I use my cast iron griddle or frying pan)

9.    Keep in a covered dish to steam or under a dishtowel to keep soft.

10.  Serve with your favorites.  Great for tacos, burritos, and quesadillas! 

 

FOR MY PICKLED ONIONS:  Great served with tacos, hot dogs, hamburgers, or even veggie burgers!

Combine in a bowl 1/2 cup red wine vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and a pinch of salt until sugar is dissolved.

Slice a medium red onion very thin and put in a small mason jar.

Pour the vinegar mixture over the onions and add enough water to cover.  

Cover tightly and shake so that the water mixes in well.  Refrigerate overnight, if possible.  If in a rush, onions are good after 30 minutes, but they are really worth the extra time.  

 

 

SHREDDED PORK SHOULDER

Shredded and ready to go!  Yum!

 

Served in homemade tortillas with pickled onions and salsa verde!   Heaven!

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I present to you the recipe that I have always used for shredded pork shoulder.  It is so simple, taking about 5 minutes to prep, while the slow cooker does the rest.  I love making tortillas and serving it with pickled onions, salsa, and salsa verde!  It is great for a crowd!  I hope you enjoy!

Serves:  4 people, generously

Ingredients:

3 to 4 lb boneless pork shoulder

3  teaspoons dried oregano

2  teaspoons cumin

1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper 

 

1.  Liberally salt and pepper pork shoulder.

2.  Mix oregano and cumin with the olive oil, and rub all over pork.

3.  Place in a slow cooker and add enough water to cover the bottom of the slow cooker.  If I have any orange juice, I will pour some over the pork.

Note:  You can throw some onions and garlic on top of the pork for added flavor, but generally I do not.  It is totally up to you!

4.  Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours or on high for about 4 hours.

5.  Transfer pork to a serving bowl and pull apart.  Pour pan juices over the pork and serve.

Note:  I have seen recipes that call for frying the carnitas in a little bit of oil to make the pieces crisp.  Again, this is totally up to you!

 

SWEET CREPES

Crepes with butter and lemon zest with berries on top!

Crepes are one of those wonderful foods that are meant to be enjoyed and savored.  I love them because they are so simple and delicious and what you can stuff in them and on them is limitless.  Sweet crepes are my favorite, but savory crepes are great too!.  This is the recipe that I have been using for forever and it never disappoints.  Crepes can be made well in advance or even frozen for future use.

Yields:  12  7 1/2" crepes

Ingredients:

1/2  cup all purpose flour

1/2  cup milk

1/4  cup lukewarm water

2  large eggs

2  Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 /1/2  Tablespoons sugar

pinch of salt

*Note:  To make savory crepes, omit the sugar and increase salt to 1/2 teaspoon.

 

1.  Combine ingredients in a blender until well mixed.  Let batter rest for about 30 minutes or refrigerate until needed.

2.  In a non-stick or seasoned crepe pan melt a bit of unsalted butter so that the pan is coated.

3.  Pour about 2 tablespoons of batter into the pan, taking the pan off of the heat and tilting so that the batter forms an even, thin coat.

4.  Cook until top is set and the bottom is a golden color.

5.  Turn the crepe over with a spatula and cook until light brown.

6.  Remove to a plate.

7.  Continue cooking crepes.  Making sure to keep buttering the pan.

8.  Serve with a variety of fillings.  I love just butter and sugar or butter and lemon zest with fresh berries spooned on top.  I have also done a whipped cream and fruit filling, a cream cheese and fruit filling, and chocolate with bananas and rum too!

 

FRENCH ONION SOUP

Right out of the oven and served in soup crocks that were my mother's!

French onion soup always makes me smile.  It brings such comfort to my soul and joy to my tummy!  Over the years I have tried many different recipes, taking what I have loved about each one and putting them together in this recipe.  That is the fun thing about cooking, you can combine different recipes and develop the perfect one for you.  The key to making fabulous french onion soup is to let the onions caramelize over a period of time.  Patience is what you'll need.  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!  

Yields:  4 to 6 crocks, depending upon the size

Ingredients:

2  large onions, thinly sliced (I always add 1 extra small onion because you can never have too many onions, but that is up to you)

2  Tablespoons of olive oil

2  Tablespoons of unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme (I usually use a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme instead of the dried, but I don't always have it on hand)

2  Tablespoons of dry vermouth (you could use a dry sherry if you prefer)

5  cups of brown chicken stock or beef stock (I always use unsalted so that I can control the amount of salt.

3/4 cup of grated gruyere cheese

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Slices of a french baquette, toasted

 

1.  In a soup pot, heat olive oil and butter until butter is melted.

2.  Add the onions and thyme, stirring well.  On medium heat, cook, stirring occasionally, always keeping a close eye so as not to scorch the onions, for about 15 minutes or until they start to brown.

3.  Reduce heat to medium low and continue to cook, covered, for about 30 to 40 minutes.  This is where your patience comes in.  It is well worth the time and effort.

4.  Add your broth, bring to a boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes. 

5.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

6.  Place ovenproof soup bowls or crocks on a baking sheet.  Spoon the hot soup into the crocks.

7.  Top each crock  with 1 or 2 pieces of toasted baquette and sprinkle with a generous portion of cheese.

Note: Sometimes I will put the baquette pieces on the bottom of the crocks before spooning in the soup, but I like it best on top.

8.  Bake in a preheat 450 degree oven until the cheese is gooey and starting to brown.  Profitez Bien...Enjoy!

 

 

A PERFECT PASTA SALAD! 

One of my favorite things to do is to look in my refrigerator and pantry and come up with something fabulous!  This week it was a little of this and a little of that.  A yellow pepper, an english cucumber, roasted red peppers, a few olives, scallions, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, feta, a teaspoon of parmesan, and roasted cherry tomatoes. Not enough of any one ingredient to do anything with, but it did remind me of my favorite pasta salad and I knew right away what I was making.  This is the salad that I would serve at any party and it was the one most requested when I was asked to bring something.  It is a recipe from an old friend, going back about 24 years!  It is so simple and the fact that you can use ingredients that you have on hand is an added bonus!  Make plenty, it goes quickly!

 

 

Serves: 6 people as a side               Prep/Cook Time:  1 hour (usually a lot less)

Ingredients:

1 lb rotini pasta

3/4 cup olive oil (divided into 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup)

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

Red Pepper Flakes, to taste

1 sweet or yellow pepper, chopped 

6 scallions, chopped

1 large cucumber, cubed

1/2 cup artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1/2 cup greek olives, chopped

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (I use the ones that come in olive oil, draining them first)

3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1 cup fresh basil, chopped

Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste

 

1.  Cook pasta al dente, toss with 1/4 cup olive oil, and let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

2.  To cooled pasta add pepper, scallions, cucumber, artichoke hearts, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, parmesan cheese, and basil, mixing well.  Set aside.

3.  Make dressing by combining mustard, garlic, red pepper flakes, vinegar, 1/2 cup of olive oil, and salt & freshly ground pepper to taste.

4.  Pour over pasta and combine well.  Enjoy!

 

 

POTATO GNOCCHI 

Gnocchi with a sage butter sauce...my favorite!

   

My gnocchi waiting to cook.                     My potato ricer.

Making and eating gnocchi are two of my favorite things.  In fact, the main reason for opening up my store was because I couldn't find a gnocchi board locally!  I sometimes think to myself what a funny reason to open up a store, but hey, I'm thankful that I couldn't find one.  But enough about that.  Gnocchi are simple and delicious!  There are so many sauces that compliment them.  My favorite is sage butter, but I also love cinnamon butter, gorgonzola cheese, and a hearty bolognese.  Sometimes I make them with sweet potatoes or ricotta cheese.  Making gnocchi is something that I have been doing for years and will continue to do and I look forward to sharing my love of it with my grandchildren.  Buon Appetito...enjoy your meal!

 

Serves: 4 to 6 people, depending upon the portion size.

Prep Time:  1 hr for potatoes to cook.  About 30 minutes once potatoes are done.

Note:  You can boil potatoes until tender, if preferred.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs russet potatoes (I usually use 3 potatoes), roasted in the oven at 350 degrees for about 45 to 60 minutes, or until tender.

1 to 1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1 egg yolk

pinch of kosher salt (I sometimes use fine sea salt or pink himalayan)

 

1.  After roasting, scoop out potatoes, discarding the skin and pass through a potato ricer.

2.  Making a well in your bowl of potatoes (you can use your counter, if you prefer), add some of your flour to the potatoes on the edges.  Add your egg yolk and salt into the center of the well.

3.  Mix with your fingers or a fork to make a dough.

4.  Add as much of the flour as you need to keep the dough from sticking.  Usually for me 1 cup of flour works well, but every time might be different.

Note:  Do not overwork the dough.

5.  When the dough is ready, cut into 4 to 6 pieces and roll dough into long logs about the thickness of your finger.

6.  Cut your logs into 1" pieces.

7.  Using a fork or a gnocchi board, gently roll the gnocchi to create slight ridges on one side. (this allows the gnocchi to hold the sauce)

8.  Add gnocchi to boiling salted water and cook for about 1 minute or until the gnocchi float to the top.

9.  Serve with your sauce.

Sage Butter Sauce:  Melt 1/2 stick of butter in a saute pan, when slightly brown, add chopped sage leaves and let cook for a second or two. Toss with gnocchi and serve.

Click here to view potato ricers

 

 

HOMEMADE MANICOTTI

 

Right out of the oven and my kitchen smells amazing!

Just before going into the oven.....such anticipation!

 

Serves:  4 (portion size: 2 each)                                Total Prep/Cook Time:  1 hour

Note:  Recipe can be and should be doubled if you are feeding a crowd!

Ingredients:

For the homemade manicotti:

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup water

3 eggs

1/8 teaspoon kosher or sea salt 

 

1.  Whisk ingredients together well.

2.  On medium heat, melt a little butter in a crepe pan or non-stick fry pan.

3.  Spoon a small ladleful of your batter onto the pan, swirling the pan to get your batter even.

4.  Cook for about 30 seconds and turn.  You will know when the manicotti are done.  Just do not             overcook.  Transfer to a plate and repeat the process until you finish your batter.  It is just like making crepes or pancakes.

 

The Assembly:

Ingredients:

16 oz of ricotta cheese (This is totally up to your discretion.  You can use more or less depending how much you like to fill them).

1 1/2 to 2 cups of a simple red sauce (My recipe can be found under "The Basics")

1 or 2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese (Again, the amount of cheese is up to you.  I used about a cup in mine)

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

 

1.  Spoon some red sauce into the bottom of your baking dish, covering it completely.

2.  Mix ricotta cheese with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Note:  A lot of times recipes call for adding an egg, but with manicotti I do not. 

3.  Lie your manicotti flat and spoon your ricotta filling down the center

4.  Fold your manicotti in to cover the ricotta and place seam side down in your baking dish.  Repeat until all of your manicotti are done.

5.  Spoon sauce over your manicotti until covered.

6.  Sprinkle with your mozzarella cheese.

7.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until the cheese is nicely browned and the sides are bubbling.

Click here for my basic marinara recipe

Click here for homemade ricotta cheese recipe

A GO TO CHOCOLATE TART

 

Tarts are one of my favorite things to make, both savoury and sweet.  This beautifully delicious sweet tart is so easy to make and can be made ahead of time and refrigerated.  I actually think that it is better the next day!  This recipe I have handwritten in my favorite recipe notebook, so I do not know where the original recipe came from.  I want to say Tyler Florence, but again, I can not say for sure.  All I know is that I love it and I use it all the time. 

Serves: 8                                   Makes a 10" tart

Ingredients:

Tart Shell:

12 Tablespoon unsalted butter, cold and cubed

1/2 Cup sugar

1/2 Teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 3/4 Cups all-purpose flour

Pinch of Salt

 

Chocolate Filling:

5 oz unsalted butter, 10 Tablespoons

5 1/2 oz semi-sweet chocolate

8 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

Pinch of salt

4 Eggs

7 oz sugar, scant 1 cup

3 Tablespoons maple syrup

3 Slightly heaping tablespoons sour cream 

 

For The Tart Shell:

1.  Mix the butter and sugar in the bowl of a food processor.

2.  Add vanilla and pulse

3.  Add flour and salt, pulse until combined (do not over mix) Turn dough out onto your working surface. Form a disk and wrap in plastic wrap, chill for 30 to 45 minutes.

4.  Unwrap the dough and roll out.  Place rolled out dough in a 10" tart pan with a removable bottom, making sure that you press the dough into the tart pan and that it comes all the way up the sides.  Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork all over and chill for 30 minutes. (To make the process a little shorter, I usually put the tart pan into the freezer for about 15 minutes)

5.  Line the tart pan with aluminum foil placing pie weights on top so that the tart shell does not puff up.

6.  Bake for 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Let cool and now it is ready for the filling!

 

For The Chocolate Filling:

1.  Over a simmering pot of water or in an official double boiler, combine butter, chocolate, and cocoa powder, and salt, stirring to combine.

2.  In a separate bowl beat (I just whisk well), the eggs and sugar.

3.  Add maple syrup and sour cream, beat well.

4.  Stir in the chocolate mixture, combining well.  

5.  Pour into tart shell and bake 40 to 45 minutes having turned down the temperature to 300 degrees.

6.  Let cool for 45 minutes before serving.

Note:  I like to refrigerate for a few hours or even overnight.  I serve with ice cream!

 Click here to view tart pans

 

BEEF CURRY WITH VEGETABLES

 

Beef Curry With Vegetables

Served over pasta!

I love curry!  This is a basic recipe.  I just wanted you to have the technique.  You can use chicken instead of beef and you can use any vegetable that you love or think would be a great addition.  Vegetarians can leave out the beef or you could leave out the vegetables, that is how versatile curry is.  If you are interested in the history of curry, you can read my column "Karen's Ingredients".  I have a whole post about curry. This is such a simple and delicious dinner!  I hope that you give it a try.

Serves: 4                                     Total Time:  About 30 minutes, tops!

Ingredients:

1 lb stew meat or beef tenderloin, cut into small, bite size pieces.

1 13.5 oz can coconut milk

1 to 2 Tablespoons of curry powder (according to taste)

5 scallions, sliced, both white and green portions

1 lrg garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

1 handful of green beans, chopped into small, bite size pieces

1 small handful of fresh cilantro, chopped

Olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, and 2 teaspoons of flour

 

1.  In a saute pan, on medium high heat and coated with olive oil, brown your beef, salt and pepper to taste, stirring the beef to brown on both sides (no need to cook all the way through, the beef will finish cooking in the sauce).

2.  Sprinkle with flour and stir (this will help the sauce to thicken) and cook for a minute then remove beef to a plate.

3.  Turn the heat down to medium, add your scallions, red pepper, green beans, and garlic.  Stir

4.  Add your curry powder, stirring until combined well and cook for a minute or two.

5.  Stir in your coconut milk and add your beef back to the pan.  Stir and simmer for couple of minutes more.

6.  Finally, add your cilantro, stir, and you're done.  You have a fabulous curry!

7.  Serve with rice or pasta.  You can also serve alone and it is fabulous!

 

TERIYAKI SALMON

 

This week, my trip to the market brought me past the fish counter.  I saw a beautiful piece of Wild Caught Alaskan Salmon and I just knew that I had to have it.   The man at the counter wrapped it up and home it went with me.  On the car ride home I wondered if I had the ingredients for my teriyaki marinade and was pleasantly surprised that I did.  Dinner was planned.  My teriyaki marinade is so easy and versatile.  It can be used for not only salmon, but chicken and beef too!  I sometimes use it as a dipping sauce for sushi or for a stir fry sauce.  It is really simple....Combine 6 tablespoons of a dark soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil, 2 teaspoons of brown sugar, the juice of 1 lime, and grated fresh ginger to taste.  That's it! Marinade your meat for a minimum of 2 hours turning at the half way point.  Grill or bake and you're done! I served my grilled salmon with a fabulous Greek Salad! You can find that recipe in Recipes, The Healing Kitchen.

 

15 MINUTE PORK CHOPS

Served with my homemade applesauce!  Recipe follows!

I couldn't decide which picture I liked best, so you get them both!

 

Sometimes, this girl just craves pork chops.  I love this recipe because it is so quick and easy and when served with my applesauce, I am in heaven.

Serves: 2                                        Time Needed: 20 minutes total

Ingredients:

2  Thick sliced boneless center cut pork chops, each cut in half, making 4 thin sliced pork chops  (I like doing this myself so that I can get the perfect thickness)

Wildflower Foods Garlic Salt Blend

Freshly Ground Pepper

Olive oil

1/3 cup of apple cider, chicken stock, or white wine.

 

1.  Slice pork chops to your desired thickness.

2.  Generously season both sides of your chops with garlic salt blend and pepper.

3.  Heat a saute pan on medium high heat and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom.

4.  Add your pork chops and let cook for about 3 minutes on each side.  Transfer to a plate.

5.  Add apple cider, chicken stock, or white wine to the pan, bring to a boil while scraping all the little bits from the bottom.

6.  Reduce heat to low, put your pork chops back into the pan and let cook to your desired doneness. (I like mine slightly pink in the middle so I only cook them for another minute or so)

7.  Remove from the pan and serve spooning some of that delicious pan sauce over them.  Great with applesauce! 

 

APPLESAUCE

20 minutes to fresh applesauce!  This is probably about 1 1/2 cups.

On most Wednesdays my girlfriends come to the store for coffee and pastries.  We talk about everything! Last week, one of the subjects was applesauce.  So when I went to my pantry and found that I had 8 apples, what else could I do but make applesauce.  Kate talked about how wonderful the Pioneer Woman's recipe was, while Lore just said that she uses a little red wine and a food mill.  Me, I didn't have any red wine and my internet was down so I decided to do what I usually do, which is just wing it.  Well, it turned out fabulous and so I decided to share it.  As the apple picking season draws to a close, I hope you get out there, pick some apples, and make applesauce! Thanks Kate and Lore for being my inspiration!

Ingredients:  8 McIntosh apples, peeled, cored, and cut into big chunks, 1/3 cup of apple cider or juice, 2 Tablespoons of sugar, 1/8 Teaspoon cinnamon, a pinch or two of salt, and a little extra water if needed (I ended up using about 1/3 cup).

Into a saute pan, throw in your apples and add your apple cider.  With the heat on medium high, let your apples start to cook.  After a few minutes, turn the heat down to low and add your sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  Cover and let cook until it resembles applesauce, adding a little water from time to time to keep things moist.  Mine was ready within 20 minutes.

Note:  I like my applesauce a little tart, so I do not use a lot of sugar, but feel free to adjust to your tastes! It is the method that is important.   Enjoy!

 

FLANK STEAK...IT'S LOVE

There are times when I just crave a steak!  I tell myself that it is my body letting me know that it needs something.  When I do get that craving, flank steak is usually what I go for.  I love that it is less expensive than other cuts, but truly what I love most about it is that it can handle a rub or marinade just wonderfully! I do a lot of herb and spice blends at the store, so when I picked up this beautiful flank steak at the market, I knew right away that it was time to create a new spice blend.  I love doing a dry rub, where I rub the steak the night before and let it sit overnight.  I even grill it dry and serve it with a side of my BBQ sauce. Yum!

Serves: 2 people with a little extra to throw on a salad the next day!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lb piece of flank steak

For the Rub: 

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon lime powder

Combine rub ingredients and massage into meat on both sides.  Cover and let sit overnight in your refrigerator.  Let meat come to room temperature before grilling.  Grill to your preference.  Always remember to let your meat rest after grilling to allow the juice to redistribute and settle.

LOVE FILLED BROWNIES

I couldn't wait.....right out of the oven.....gooey and delicious!

If you don't have an official double boiler, just use a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water.

 

I love brownies and this is my favorite recipe.  I have a notebook that I write recipes in with all of my notes, but sometimes I don't know where a recipe comes from.  I believe that this recipe belongs to Tyler Florence, if my memory serves me, but my way.  I prefer my brownies gooey so I undercook just a little bit, but I have done them both ways and they are both delicious. When you crave something chocolate, this is a fast and simple recipe.  Enjoy!

A quick note:  I have made this recipe with a gluten free flour mixture and it has come out great!

 

Makes 12 brownies, depending on the size that you cut them.    

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line a 9x9 square pan with parchment making sure that the paper hangs over the edge for easy lifting.  Grease parchment.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

4 large eggs

2 cups sugar

2 sticks of unsalted butter

8 oz bittersweet chocolate (please use a quality chocolate, it really makes a difference)

1 1/2 cups of your favorite nuts (totally optional)

 

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

In a double boiler melt butter and chocolate (I let it cool a bit before combining with other ingredients)

Whisk together in a large bowl your eggs and sugar.

Slowly add chocolate mixture to your whisked eggs and sugar.

Stir in your flour mixture.

Now would be the time to add your nuts if using.

Bake for 40 - 45 minutes.

Let rest for a few minutes before lifting brownies out with the parchment edges.

A FAVORITE BANANA BREAD

Truly, this is one of my favorite recipes!  I always have bananas in my freezer.  It never fails that there are a couple of bananas in a bunch that go uneaten and get over-ripened and those are the ones that I just throw in for use on a later date.  When I get to 4 bananas in the freezer, it is time to make banana bread.  This recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks, Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights, by Sophie Dahl.  It is so simple, with easy ingredients, and it is sooooo yummy.  I usually have to keep myself from eating the whole loaf at once.  Please enjoy!

Serves 6                    Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease a 9" x 3" pan

Ingredients:

5 1/3 Tablespoons of soft butter (I use unsalted)

4 ripe bananas, mashed (I take them out of the freezer, let them thaw for a bit, and then peel and mash)

1 cup of light brown sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 Tablespoon of vanilla extract

1 Teaspoon of baking soda

1 pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups of flour (I use spelt, but you can use all-purpose)

Pour mashed bananas into a bowl, mix in butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla extract.  Add baking soda and salt.  Mix in flour last.  Pour into your prepared pan.  Bake for 1 hour, remove and cool.  

 

FABULOUS TEPARY BEANS

tepary beans with shallots and peppers, yum!

 

It's October and I start the slow process toward my winter hibernation and it is when I turn to my pantry instead of the market for my food inspiration.  So welcome to my pantry.  I will head back to the market next spring.  Well, I was hungry and went looking to see what I had in my pantry and came upon a fabulous find, a bag of tepary beans from a recent trip out West and decided to give them a try.  I was making a soup and thought that they would be a wonderful addition. They turned out to be more incredible than I ever thought possible.  They have a sweet, nutty flavor and upon researching, found that they have more protein and higher fiber than ordinary beans, and the best part, they are easy to digest with considerably less digestive issues (gas) than ordinary beans. What a terrific pantry find!  I prepared a pound of beans on a Sunday afternoon and spent the next few days using those delicious morsels in many different ways, which I list below.  My new motto...I love beans in any way, shape, or form.  Give beans the spotlight, your time and energy, you won't be disappointed.

Basic Recipe:  soak beans in water overnight, drain, rinse and sort.  Add beans to a pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, add a little salt and simmer until tender.  I simmered mine for about an hour but I like mine on the firmer side.  I have seen recipes that range from 90 minutes to 4 hours, so be prepared but it is worth the effort.

What I did with a pound of cooked tepary beans:

1.  Added them to my minestrone soup.  Exceptional!

2.  Sauted shallots with a variety of peppers, sweet and hot and tossed with the beans.  Wow, I ate the whole bowl!

3.  Threw them in my Vitimix with some olive oil, garlic, and water to make a tepary bean hummus and ate a whole bag of pita chips with it!  Yummy!

4.  Sauted them with olive oil, threw in some arugula, poached a couple of eggs for the top and had a great breakfast.  What a way to start the day!

5.  I only had a handful left, so I tossed in some salt and pepper and ate them right out of the container.  Simple and Fabulous!

Note:  I bought my beans out West, but really, you can use any bean.  Just make sure you use dried beans, it really makes a difference.

 

SALADE NICOISE

I knew when I left for the market that I had some olives and hard boiled eggs in the refrigerator but I didn't even think that much about it until I saw the special display of canned tuna and sardines in the store and then it hit me, Salade Nicoise.  This is a fabulous way to eat anytime of year, but especially on those hot days when you really don't want to cook.  This salad is a classic and it is truly an all in one meal!  For me, I don't cook or prepare food with any rules so I just used what I had on hand, except for the tuna, which was my market find for the day!  I even thought for those who don't like tuna, grilled steak or chicken could be used instead.  I happen to love tuna, especially when it is packed in olive oil!  Enjoy my little bit of cooking, the French way!

Servings: 2                                                                    

Dressing:  Combine in a mason jar, shake well

1/2 garlic clove, minced

1/2 shallot, minced

1 teaspoon of dijon mustard

Juice of 1 lemon

2 Tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar (you can use red wine vinegar, but I love the dark color of a good balsamic)

6 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste

For The Salad:

Ingredients:  6 small potatoes (fingerlings or baby Yukon gold), 6 baby beets, handful of green beans, trimmed, 4 handfuls of soft salad greens, rinsed and dried,  4 radishes, sliced, 1/2 cucumber, diced, 2 hard boiled eggs, sliced, handful of cherry tomatoes, halved, 1/4 cup Nicoise olives, and a 5 to 6 oz can of tuna packed in oil, drained.

Before arranging your salad, boil the potatoes until tender enough to be pierced with the tip of a knife, then boil your beans until crisp tender, and finally boil your beets until fork tender.

Assemble your salad to your preference, I did mine in groups, each item having its own space, then drizzle with dressing and Enjoy!

 

GLORIOUS PEACH SALSA! 

   

This week's trip to the market brought the wonderful smell of peaches!  That beautiful aroma hit me the moment that I walked in.  So, it didn't come as much of a surprise when four peaches quickly found themselves in my basket with a curiosity as to what I was going to do with them.  Then I saw the basket of hot peppers and I knew instantly, SALSA!  I have a passion for salsa.  It is what I make faithfully every weekend and a staple at any party that I give.  I would call it a way of life for me.  It is so simple to make and so delicious.  It can be eaten with chips or used as a topping for grilled chicken and fish.  I even put it on my eggs and as an addition to a bowl of soup.  The great thing about salsa is that you can adjust it to your taste and you can make it with fruits or vegetables. It also gets better the next day!  I have a basic formula that I follow which is 4 parts fruit/vegetable, 1 part hot pepper/red pepper. 2 parts lime juice, 1 part red onion, 1 part herb (cilantro, mint etc...).  

So.....For My Peach Salsa.......

4 peaches, peeled and chopped

1 small jalapeño pepper, chopped

Juice of two limes

1 small red onion, chopped

1 bunch of mint, chopped

Combine in a Vitamix, food processor, or blender for a thinner salsa or just hand chop if you want a chunky salsa.  Add some chips and you have a fabulous appetizer or, as in my case, a wonderful dinner!

 

MY FAVORITE PANCAKES

I love pancakes!  I make them every Sunday.  This recipe is so simple and delicious.  It also allows for substitutions.  I often exchange gluten free flours for the regular flour, I've used buttermilk instead of regular milk, maple syrup instead of sugar, and regular butter instead of unsalted.  It is simply an amazing recipe!  Enjoy!

Servings:  Makes about 12 small pancakes                 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups of flour

3 Tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 Teaspoons baking powder

1/2 Teaspoon salt

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 1/2 Cups milk

2 Eggs

 

1.  Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl.

2.  Combine wet ingredients in a small bowl, making sure to stir well.

3.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well!  

4.  Heat your griddle and you're ready! 

 

 PORK TENDERLOIN 

 

I love a fabulous tenderloin of any sort, but my trip to the market this week found me drawn to a beautiful pork tenderloin.  As the name indicates, the tenderloin is one of the most tender cuts of pork.  It is very mild in flavor so a spice rub or marinade is an essential to bring out its flavor.  I have a "never fails me" method that I have been using for years and years to keep my tenderloin juicy and flavorful with no trouble at all.  It takes as little as 3 ingredients, 4 including the pork.  I love serving it with roasted potatoes and a big salad. Sometimes I grill it, sometimes I just brown it in a saute pan and finish it off in the oven. Really, it is an amazing taste experience!  Enjoy!

Ingredients:  1 cup of a jam that you love (my favorite, Winding Drive's Raspberry Jam), a scant 1/4 cup of wine, red or white, to thin out the jam, water works fine too, and any herb combination that you love (my favorites, 3 Tbl fresh rosemary, 2 garlic cloves, and 1 tea fennel seeds or to make it easy, 3 to 4 Tbl of Herbs de Provence).

1.  Mix together jam and wine until smooth.  Add the wine a little bit at a time, you are just trying to thin out the jam ever so slightly.  You still want it on the thick side.  Remember, water works fine too!

2.  With a knife or mezzaluna, finely chop together your herb combination.  Skip this step if using Herbs de Provence or other dried spice combination.

3.  Rub the pork tenderloin with the jam mixture, coating it well.

4.  Sprinkle herb combination over the entire pork tenderloin, using it all.

5.  If desired, sprinkle a little salt and freshly ground pepper.  Grill until done (as a rule, to 145 degrees).  To keep it juicy, do not overcook.  Always let your meat rest before serving, it allows the juices to settle back in the meat.  Enjoy!

 

GERMAN POTATO SALAD

German potato salad is a great addition to any get together that you are having.  It is great to serve along side regular potato salad because it is vinegar based, not mayonnaise based, and it is served warm, not cold, giving guests a wonderful choice.  This is a very simple and delicious recipe!

Makes 6 servings                                          Total Cook/Prep Time:  30 minutes tops

Ingredients:

4 medium potatoes, cooked and cubed

4 oz pancetta or 3 to 4 slices of bacon chopped into small pieces (makes it easier later)

1 small onion, chopped

1 Tablespoon flour

1 Tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon celery seed (optional, but I love it!)

1/2 Cup water

1/4 Cup white or cider vinegar (I use cider)

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

 

1.  Cook pancetta until browned nicely, remove from pan, let drain, and set aside.

2.  Cook onion in pancetta drippings until soft, about 4 to 5 minutes.

3.  Stir in flour, sugar, celery seed, pepper, cook for a moment and remove from heat.

4.  Stir in water and vinegar, bring to a boil for a minute and remove from heat.

5.  Add to potatoes and bacon, combining gently.

6.  Salt to taste and let sit for a few to allow the flavors to absorb and meld together.  Serve and Enjoy!

 


A CHICKEN BRINE & BBQ SAUCE

 

My trip to the market this week was actually a stroll down memory lane and the fabulous memories that I hold of the 4th of July.  Not so much in the last few years, but for many, many years, I had a big party on the 4th.  It was always my immediate family, my cousins, my uncle, and a few friends thrown in for fun.  There was great food, drinks, of course, and the ever famous basketball game, kids vs adults!  What beautiful memories! But now on to the BBQ Chicken.......I am going to share with you a spectacular recipe for BBQ sauce that was given to me by an old friend years and years ago!  I love it today as much as I did then, even more because of the memories that it brings back.  I have changed a few amounts over the years, but I am going to give you the original recipe and make my notes where necessary. Enjoy!

BBQ Sauce (I always double the recipe)

Yields:  1 1/2 to 2 Cups         Total Time: 40 Minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar)

1 clove of garlic, chopped

1 Tablespoon of olive oil (I use a jalapeño olive oil for a little heat)

2 1/2 Tablespoons of worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup ketchup

1 Teaspoon of dry mustard (If I don't have any on hand, I use dijon)

1 Tablespoon of salt (I use half as much)

1/2 cup of light brown sugar

Dash of paprika

Pinch of red pepper flake

Bring all ingredients to a boil, simmer for 20-30 minutes and let cool.

 

A Quick Chicken Brine.......I always brine my chicken before I put it on the BBQ.  I find that it keeps the chicken very moist.

Combine in a bowl or large ziplock bag 4 cups of water, 1/4 cup of salt, and 1/4 cup of sugar.  Make sure salt and sugar are dissolved, add chicken and let brine for several hours.  When ready to cook, rinse chicken and pat dry with a paper towel and on the grill they go smothered in your BBQ sauce. Yum!

 

ZUCCHINI...TWO WAYS

My trip to the market this week was actually a walk into my vegetable garden.  I saw two beautiful zucchini and knew what I wanted to do.  A favorite zucchini and watercress soup recipe and zucchini pancakes!  I know that when those first zucchini appear it is just a matter of days before they start coming in fast and furious so I want you to be prepared. Besides the recipes that I am going to share with you there are many different ways to use and enjoy your abundance.  Zucchini bread, sauted with a little salt and pepper, in a vegetable lasagna, or gratin, used with the Spirelli to make zucchini spaghetti with fresh tomatoes and basil, the list can go on and on.  So please don't be overwhelmed, just embrace it and start cooking!

ZUCCHINI AND WATERCRESS SOUP

From Sophie Dahl, Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights (one of my favorite cookbooks)

Servings: 2 to 4        

Ingredients:  2 zucchini, roughly chopped, 1 small onion chopped, 2 handfuls of watercress, roughly chopped, 1 quart (4 cups) chicken/vegetable stock, salt and freshly ground pepper, and 1 Tablespoon of light cream

1.  Saute onion in a little bit of olive oil until translucent, add zucchini and stock, cook on a low heat for 10 minutes (I saute the zucchini with the onion for a minute before adding the stock).

2.  Add the watercress and cook for another 5 minutes, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, let cool for a bit.

3.  Transfer your soup to a blender and puree, return to the pot, warm, and add the cream and enjoy!

My Notes:  I love this soup hot, warm, room temperature, and cold.  It is very light and delicious!  I serve it with extra pepper and a dash of olive oil.

ZUCCHINI PANCAKES

Servings: 2

Ingredients:  1 cup of grated zucchini, 1 heaping Tablespoon of flour, 1 egg, lightly beaten, and a pinch of salt

1.  Place grated zucchini in paper towel and squeeze out as much water as possible and place in a bowl.

2.  Stir in flour, mixing well, add beaten egg, mixing until combined well, stir in salt.

3.  Heat skillet and add a little butter or oil.  Using a scooper or your hands, form your pancakes and place them into the skillet.

4.  Let cook until golden brown on both sides, making sure that your pancakes are cooked through.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt.

 


13 WAYS TO USE AN ABUNDANCE OF CHERRY TOMATOES

 

The morning pick.

My wild cherry tomato patch!

My trips to the market this week have been daily treks into my wild cherry tomato patch, which probably consists of about 60 or so wild cherry tomato plants.  All grown, without help from me, from seeds from last years plants.  It is a wonderful, wonderful thing.  But what to do with all those cherry tomatoes....well, I have become a expert at creative ways to use my abundance.

1.   Just eat them! Yum!

2.   Chop for use in salads.

3.   Make a fabulous salsa (one of my favorites) by combining tomatoes, jajapeno peppers, lime juice, cilantro, red onion, and a pinch of salt.

4.   Make a traditional bruschetta by combining tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, salt & pepper.  Serve with a toasted baguette.

5.   Roast with olive oil, salt & pepper, adding basil at the end.

6.   Make a pizza (another favorite).

7.   Make a tomato omelet or frittata.

8.   Make a fabulous tomato sauce.

9.   Saute with a little olive oil, garlic, basil, and serve over pasta.

10. Saute with a little olive oil, garlic, basil, and serve over zucchini spaghetti (another favorite).

11. Make a panzanella salad, by combining toasted baguette croutons with tomatoes, basil, red pepper, cucumber, red onion, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

12. Saute with olive oil and add some cream, bring to a boil, reduce heat and let the cream thicken, add some fresh chopped basil and a pinch of salt & pepper to make a great creamed tomato sauce to top pasta, rice, or chicken. 

13.  Finally, just throw them in a freezer safe container, as is, and put in the freezer for use on a later date.

 

MY PICKLED HOT PEPPERS

 

Aren't they beautiful?!  I love growing peppers, especially hot ones!  Again, for this week, my trip to the market consisted of stepping into my garden.  I was so overjoyed that I had a bounty of hot peppers just waiting for me.  I cook all the time with peppers.  They just add so much to a dish, yet they can stand on their own two feet, especially when they are stuffed with cheese or prosciutto.  I use them in salsa, guacamole, sauces, rice, pizza, and marinades.  They are so wonderful.  When I have a lot of peppers there are two ways that I savor the bounty.  One, I just throw them whole into a freezer safe ziplock bag and keep them in the freezer until needed.  Second, I love to pickle them for continuous eating over weeks!  I am going to share with you my easy pickling method that I have been using for years.  You don't have to have a ton of peppers, onions, mushrooms, or whatever vegetable that you're using.  I usually just do mine one jar at a time.  No muss, no fuss!

Note:  You need to use sterilized canning jars.  I just set a large pot of water to boil and submerge the jars and their tops in the boiling water for about 5 to 10 minutes.  I take them out and let them dry on a cooling rack.  That's when you're ready to go!

Servings:  1 medium canning jar          Cook/Prep Time:  20 minutes

Ingredients:

Brining Liquid:  1/2 cup cider vinegar, 1/2 cup water, large pinch of salt

Packing Liquid:  1 1/2 cups good olive oil, 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced, roughly 1 Tablespoon of black peppercorns, 5 small bay leaves, roughly 1 Tablespoon fennel seeds (optional), and 3 fresh thyme sprigs.

Preparing your peppers:  I put them in whole, but feel free to slice them.  I also slice a very small spring onion to be added with the peppers.

1.  Prepare your packing liquid by just combining the ingredients in a bowl.

2.  Bring to a boil your brining liquid and add your peppers and onions.  Let cook for about 3 minutes and remove with a slotted spoon.

3.  Add directly to your packing liquid and stir.

4.  Add your packing liquid, peppers, and onions to your canning jars, filling to the top.

5.  Put your lid on and your done!  Don't forget to mark your jar with the date!  I let mine sit for about a week before eating, but really there are times that I just can't wait.  Enjoy!

 

A GLORIOUS PORTOBELLO BURGER 

I love my trips to the market.  I get a chuckle when I reach the checkout.  It is so much fun to watch the reaction to what is in my basket on the face of the checkout person.  I usually have a strange collection of things.  This week I had one potato that was just dug up and looked to good to pass up, one red onion, and one beautiful portobello mushroom. I knew that I had tomatoes and zucchini in my garden, so the most natural thing to do was to plan on making a mushroom burger topped with my garden fixings for dinner.  I love portobello mushrooms for numerous reasons.  For me, they can take the place of a hamburger or steak.  They have a intense flavor and a meaty texture so I really feel as though I am eating meat.  It is a wonderful substitution!  They are a great source of fiber and don't have many calories, which is a win, win situation for me.  Cooking is a breeze.  I just throw them on the grill with a little olive oil, salt, and freshly ground pepper and I'm done.  I layered mine with tomato, lightly grilled zucchini slices, and red onion.  It was out of this world!  A slice of smoked gouda or smoked mozzarella would have been a great addition too!  So the next time that you find yourself staring at a portobello mushroom in the market, buy it, experiment, and enjoy!  Life is filled with little surprises, let a portobello be one of those surprises. Happy Cooking!

 

MY SUNDAY SAUCE, BOLOGNESE

I love Sunday afternoons!  It is really my time to cook.  I look forward to opening a bottle of wine and enjoying the process of creating something delicious.  To me, there is nothing better than a big bowl of pasta with my Sunday sauce and a loaf of fabulous bread.  It is very simple to make, not a lot of time required, but oh how wonderful!

  

  

 

Makes 4 Servings

Ingredients:

4 oz of bacon, finely chopped

1 large onion, chopped

3 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped to a fine dice

1 carrot, chopped to a fine dice

2 lbs of ground beef 85/15 (you can use any combination of beef, pork, or turkey)

3/4 cup of white wine (I use whatever I have on hand)

1 1/2 cups of red wine (I use whatever I have on hand)

28 oz jar of tomato puree

2 cups of water

salt and pepper to taste (I salt and pepper as I go and when needed)

1 lb of spaghetti, cooked to desired tenderness

 

1.  Cook bacon in a heavy sauce pan until slightly browned.

2.  Add onion and garlic, cooking until translucent (about 4 minutes or so).

3.  Add celery and carrot, cooking until softened (about 5 minutes or so).

4.  Add ground beef, cooking until all fat is absorbed.

5.  Add white wine, cooking until all the wine is absorbed.

6.  Add red wine, cooking until all the wine is absorbed.

7.  Add tomato puree and water, stirring well.  At this time, make sure that you salt and pepper to taste.  Let simmer for a minimum of a hour.  The longer the better.  Always remember to stir on occasion.

8.  Serve over pasta, with bread and enjoy!

 

 

THE BEST COLESLAW EVER!

 

 

 

This is one of my favorite recipes.  It is so yummy and easy to make.  I found this in the January 2008 issue of Food & Wine.  It is a Bobby Flay recipe.

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 small onion, finely shredded

3 Tablespoons cider vinegar

2 Tablespoons sugar

2 Teaspoons celery seeds

8 cups shredded green cabbage

1 large carrot, finely shredded

Salt and freshly ground pepper

*Note - I use less shredded green cabbage and more carrot.  It is just the way that I like it.  Feel free to adjust to your own preferences. 

 

In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise with the onion, vinegar, sugar, and celery seed.  Add the shredded cabbage and carrot, season with salt and pepper and toss well. Let stand until slightly softened, about 25 minutes.

 

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