Asparagus and Pea Salad with Fried Shallots

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This is a welcome departure from your every day greens and dressing. I was inspired by a fava bean/asparagus salad recipe in Bon Appetit.  The salad is served cold, but be sure to save the frying of the shallots for the last minute- you want them to be extra crispy.  You know how chefs are always talking about peeling asparagus?  I never, ever peel my asparagus.  I snap off the woody end and get to cooking.  This time, I took the advice of Ina and Martha and peeled the ends of the asparagus with a peeler.  What a nice, elegant difference it made!   No stringy ends, and nothing stuck between the teeth either.

  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 1 T. parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 1 T. fresh lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 bunch asparagus (trimmed and peeled:)
  • 1 C. frozen, thawed peas
  • 3 T. vegetable oil
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced

Combine the olive oil, parmesan, and lemon juice with a whisk and season with salt and pepper, then set it aside.  Heat a saucepan of water to a boil and drop in the asparagus.  Cook for about three minutes, until just tender.  Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking.  Toss the thawed peas and cooked, cooled asparagus into a bowl with the dressing. Cover and chill.  Just before serving, heat the vegetable oil in a small skillet over medium high heat.  Fry the shallots until golden brown and crispy, about two minutes.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a paper towel.  Top the cold salad with the hot shallots and serve.  A little sprinkling of crunchy Maldon salt at the end would be totes delish!

Posted in Gluten Free, Healthier Options, Quick Dinners, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Easter Recipe Round Up

One week until Easter.  Here are my favorite recipes and ideas for your holiday!

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Coconut Easter Basket Cupcakes

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Deviled Eggs Can be Chic

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How To Make A Peeps Wreath

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Easter Egg Dye From The Pantry

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Apricot Glazed Ham

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Spring Garden Deviled Eggs

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Bacon and Egg Cupcakes

 

 

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Viola’s Cabbage Rolls

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This is not a cooked cabbage leaf wrapped around a savory stuffing, this is cabbage and meat AS stuffing inside of a chewy, soft roll.  These are very similar to Russian pirozhki. I made these for the first time when my husband and I were newly dating.  He talked about his grandmother’s cabbage rolls with such affection that I knew I needed to give them a try.  I asked his mother for the recipe (written on a 3 x 5 card the way recipes used to be passed on) and went to work.  Viola’s recipe of course called for making a yeasted dough from scratch.  She was a strong, Midwesterner known for her economies in raising ten children.  Making your dough from scratch will no doubt save money.  For me the ease and mess-free method of buying ready-made dough trumps the cost.  It makes these doable for a Sunday afternoon.  I use a package of Rhodes frozen dinner rolls.  They come in a bag of 32 and they are the perfect size and shape for making these delectable cabbage rolls.  These will keep in the fridge for a week or in the freezer for months.  Reheat them in the oven to keep the bread from becoming sticky. The dough needs to thaw, so start these about three hours before you want to eat them.

  • 1 package of 32 frozen dinner rolls (I should seriously do a Rhodes commercial)
  • 2 t. vegetable oil or olive oil
  • 1 lb. ground beef or pork
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 head of green cabbage, shredded
  • salt and pepper
  • cooking spray
  • flour for rolling dough

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First you need to thaw the rolls- I like the speed method that’s printed on the package.  Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Place the rolls on a baking sheet.  When the oven gets to temperature, turn it off and place the rolls inside on the middle rack with a pan of hot water on the bottom rack.  The steam and heat thaws the rolls and keeps them from getting a skin.  The process takes about an hour to an hour and a half, and since the oven is turned off, you can run errands or whatever. When the rolls are thawed and have doubled in size they are read to use.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the ground beef, onion, and cabbage until the meat is cooked and the cabbage is soft.  Season well with salt and  lots of black pepper. Set aside to cool.

When the filling is cooled you are ready to assemble the rolls. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a baking pan with cooking spray.  I used a 13 x 9 inch pan, you could also use a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle a cutting board with flour and roll out one ball of bread dough into a round, flat pancake.  Spoon about 1/4 C. of meat/cabbage mixture into the center.  Fold the dough over, folding in the sides, and pinching to close it up, burrito style.  Place the roll into the pan, seam side down. Repeat until you run out of rolls, or run out of filling.

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I usually run out of filling and have about three rolls left, which I bake and devour, hot out of the oven and slathered in butter. Bake the rolls for about 18 -20 minutes, or until golden brown.  These make a great picnic lunch since they taste great at room temperature.

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Clams With Bacon And Pasta in White Wine Broth

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The best thing about coming home from a trip to the beach is coming home with some clams to cook for dinner.  Be sure to have some crusty bread on hand for dunking.  Serves 4-6

  • 1/2 lb. small pasta, such as shells, macaroni, or ditalini
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 strips of bacon, chopped
  • 1 t. red pepper flakes
  • pinch of salt
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 C. white wine
  • 1 C. chicken or clam broth
  • 3 lbs. live steamer clams, rinsed
  • 1/2 C. Italian parsley, chopped

Get a pot of water boiling and cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven or stockpot, heat the oil and butter over medium heat.  Add the onion, bacon, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt and cook until the bacon is crisp and the onion is translucent, about 8 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook one minute more. Pour in the wine and broth and bring to a boil.  Boil for about two minutes.  Add the clams, cover the pot and cook until the clams are fully open, about four to five minutes. Scoop some pasta into the bowls and ladle the clams and broth over the top.  Garnish with the parsley.

 

 

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Guinness Braised Brisket

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I wanted to make a traditional corned beef (it’s corned, not corn beef, I hate it when people say corn beef) for St. Patrick’s Day.  I am usually pretty good at planning ahead, but in this case I waited until the last minute.  You need two things for corned beef: time and saltpeter, neither of which I had.  Corned beef needs to brine for at least 5 or 6 days.  Saltpeter is what gives it it’s characteristic pink color.  Knowing I only had a day or two, I decided to skip the corned beef and go for a braise.  In keeping with the Irish theme of St. Patricks Day, I chose to use Guinness for the braising liquid.  The rich, silky sauce is addictive.  The total time for this dish is about 3 1/2 hours and serves 4-6.

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 3lb. beef brisket
  • 3 carrots
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 1 medium, yellow onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 handful chopped, fresh parsley
  • 1 handful fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 1/2 C. vegetable or beef stock
  • 1 14 oz. can Guinness or other stout beer
  • 3-4 russet potatoes
  • 1/2 head green cabbage
  • 2 T. butter, softened
  • 2 T. flour

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.  Season the brisket with salt and pepper on both sides.  Brown the brisket in the oil on both sides, at least four-five minutes per side, you want it nice and brown.  While the meat is browning, peel and dice the carrots, celery, and onion.  Remove the meat to a plate and add the carrots, celery, and onion to the pot with the drippings.  Use a wooden spoon to scrape up all the brown bits as the veggies are cooking. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.  Add the parsley and thyme and put the meat back in the pot.  Pour the stock and beer over the meat.  Cover and place the whole pot into the oven.  Cook for 1 hour and forty five minutes.  Turn the meat over, replace the lid and continue to cook for another hour.  Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and cut into two inch chunks.  Cut the cabbage wedge into large chunks as well.  Remove the meat to a plate.  Strain the cooking liquid into a saucepan and discard the veggies.  Bring the liquid to a boil.  Combine the butter and flour with a fork into a smooth paste and whisk it in a little at a time to the boiling liquid.  The sauce will thicken after about three or four minutes of boiling.  Place the meat, potatoes, and cabbage back into the big pot, replace the lid, and put it back into the oven while the sauce is thickening.  Increase the oven temp to 400.  Ladle a little of the sauce over the potatoes.  Cook about twenty five minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.  Remove the meat to a platter and slice across the grain.  Serve the meat with the potatoes and cabbage and pour the sauce over the top.

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Pink Grapefruit Meringue Pie

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Here is a  little twist on lemon meringue using those gorgeous pink grapefruits that are at the height of their season right now. One frustration I have with meringue pies is that the meringue tends to weep and causes the filling to be a bit runny.  There are two ways to get your pie to set: chill it (and ignore the drops of condensation on the meringue) or use cornstarch in the filling. Classic citrus curd (the filling in lemon meringue) recipes use egg yolks to thicken the filling.  I like the certainty of egg yolks and cornstarch.  I also like my pie to be cold.  Long story short, I served this at room temperature and it was a tiny bit runnier than I would have liked. The pink grapefruit gives the curd a tart and slightly bitter edge that we really enjoyed. Add a drop of food color if you want it pink.  Mine was a brilliant shade of orangey-yellow.  You could also skip the pie, make the grapefruit curd and spread it on your toast!

  • 1 pie crust, unbaked, click here for my favorite pastry recipe

For the filling

  • 1 C. sugar
  • 8 egg yolks, reserve the whites for the meringue
  • Zest and juice of 1-2 pink grapefruits – you need 1 C. juice
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 stick, cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 T. cornstarch
  • 1 t. water

For the meringue:

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1/4 t. cream of tartar
  • 1/2 C. sugar
  • 1 t. vanilla (clear if you have it)

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Place the pastry in a glass pie dish.  Pierce the pastry all over with a fork.  Bake until the crust is cooked through and beginning to turn golden brown, about ten to 12 minutes.

Combine the egg yolks, sugar, zest, juice, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in the butter and continue to whisk until the mixture begins to thicken, about five minutes.  Don’t bring it to a boil or the eggs will curdle.  Combine the cornstarch and water in a smooth paste and add it to the saucepan, whisking constantly.  When the mixture just begins to simmer, it should thicken considerably.  Simmer and whisk for about one minute.  Strain the mixture into your baked pie shell and chill.

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To make the meringue, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar in a stand mixer until foamy.  Add the sugar slowly, about a tablespoon at a time until it’s all incorporated.  Turn the mixer up to medium high and beat for about four or five minutes longer, or until  glossy, stiff peaks form.

Spread the meringue on top of the chilled pie- you are going for big swirls and swoops, not a smooth surface.  Bake for about 8 minutes at 400 degrees just to brown the meringue a bit.  Chilling the pie may cause the meringue to shrink or to form little beads of condensation.  But it will still taste wonderful!

 

 

 

 

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Asian Meatball Lettuce Wraps

IMG_0256These little wraps are a great way to get your kids to eat more leafy greens.  Use any ground meat that you like.

  • 1 1/3 lb. ground beef, or chicken, or turkey, or pork, etc.
  • 1 egg
  • 3 T. hoisin sauce, plus more for serving
  • 1 t. grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 C. minced green onion, light green and white parts only
  • 2 T. soy sauce
  • 1 t. fish sauce
  • 1 T. sesame oil
  • 3/4 C. panko crumbs

Heat the oven to 425 degrees.  Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix until combined.  My trick for making meatballs really quickly is to form a big ball with the meat mixture. Divide it in half.  Divide each half in half.  Now you have four balls.  Divide each ball in half.  Continue dividing until you have the size meatballs that you like.  It sounds strange but it really is faster than tearing off little hunks and rolling them.  Place the meatballs on a rimmed baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake for about 15 minutes, or until cooked through.  Serve in butter lettuce leaves with a little more hoisin sauce, green onions, cucumbers, and jalapeño slices.

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