Sunday, December 2, 2012

I Love Cauliflower

I love cauliflower raw, steamed, blanched, roasted, mashed, whole, ... you get the idea. 

Last night, my friend, Elaine, gave me the following recipe. I am not ashamed to say that I licked the bowl clean.

You will need:

2 T butter
A squirt or two of grape seed (or other vegetable oil)
1 small onion
1 head of cauliflower
1 handful pine nuts
1/2 a handful currants
Salt and Pepper

Add butter and oil to a pan. Dice a small onion and saute it until it starts to caramelize. 

While the onion is cooking, cut the cauliflower into very small pieces - saving the stems for another dish (like a stir-fry or to add to mashed potatoes).

Toast a good handful of pine nuts in a pan on the stove taking care not to burn them.

Add cauliflower to the onions and cook for a couple minutes.

Add pine nuts and half a handful of currants.

Cook until the cauliflower is slightly browned and tender but not mushy.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Runaway Birds

Another delicious dish I learned in Italy. The sage leaves make the chicken look like it has wings and might run away!
6 chicken breasts halves, pounded thin
6 slices prosciutto
6 slices pecorino cheese
6 slices pancetta
18 sage leaves
2 large, thin scrambled egg omelets cut in 6 pieces
2 T butter
3 T oil

Layer the following on top of the chicken breast:
Sage leaf
Piece of omelet
Slice of prosciutto
Slice of cheese

Roll up and wrap with a slice of pancetta.

Tie with string, tucking another sage leaf on each side of the rolled up bird.

Heat butter and oil in a large skillet and fry birds until cooked through. The outside should be a deep brown and crispy.

To serve, remove the string and cut in half.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Lemon Turkey Soup

I made this today with turkey instead of chicken - for obvious reasons. It was fabulous. I highly recommend it!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Coccolare - A Little Bit of Heaven

In Italian, Coccolare means "to cuddle." One of the most memorable foods I ate in Italy was called coccole, which my hosts told me means the same as coccolare.

Coccole is fried pizza dough sprinkled with salt. At the table, I was instructed to wrap the dough in the finest prosciutto and pop it into my mouth.

My taste buds were dancing. The dough was light and puffy with a little bit of a crunch on the outside. The prosciutto was paper thin but with a bold flavor.

I've been afraid to try it since I've been home for fear of it not living up to my memories. Maybe one of these days I'll give it a shot.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Plan and Organize

Two keys to a successful party -- Plan and Organize

I am having at least 20 people for Thanksgiving dinner -- with six on the "maybe" list. It's a little scary until it's  spelled out clearly in front of you.

More detail to come!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Chickpea and Parsley Salad

My new favorite salad!

Drain and rinse 2 cans of chickpeas. Set aside.
In a large bowl, add the zest of one lemon and the juice of 2 fresh lemons.
Press 3 cloves of garlic into the lemon juice.
Add a little salt and a good amount of pepper.
Chop about 1/2 bunch of parsley and 10 leaves of basil - add to bowl.
Add chickpeas.
Add two big handfuls of grated Parmesan cheese.
Drizzle with EVOO.
Toss. Enjoy!

This is best if it sits a few hours. I also sliced another lemon and added it as garnish.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Berbere (Ethiopian Spice Mix)

I mentioned using berbere in my last post and thought I should include the recipe. I double the batch and store in a glass jar.

  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek
  • 1/4 cup ground dried New Mexico chiles (or crushed red pepper)
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

  • Cooling Down Spicy Greens

    I received a mountain of kale and collard greens from the CSA this week and decided to try something with cannelloni beans and a kick of spice.

    I started by melting butter in a large pan and dumping in some of my homemade berbere (Ethiopian spice mix). Added the washed and trimmed greens and cooked until wilted, then tossed in a can of cannelloni beans.

    Once the beans were heated through, I gave it a taste. Wow, was it spicy!
    What to do? What to do? I rummaged around and found a beautiful orange. After adding it to the greens and beans, it cooled it down enough for me but was still too spicy for my eaters.

    Last ditch solution ... bought more greens, cooked them down without the spice and combined all. It was a hit.

    Friday, October 5, 2012

    What I Learned in Italy #7

    Even though there are grocery stores, it is better to purchase cheese, coffee, and flour from the cheese producer, the coffee bean importer, and the guy who grinds the wheat.

    It should take at least three hours to complete these tasks due to the distance you must travel through the hillsides of Tuscany and the time you spend visiting with the people you meet at each location.

    Thursday, October 4, 2012

    Italy - First Post of Many to Come! Pear Torte

    The driving force behind my trip to Italy was to take cooking lessons so the fact that the weather was terrible on two of the side-trip days didn't bother me much. And really, after you've seen five castles and cathedrals, they all start to look the same! 

    This is from the first class. It is a pear, ricotta, and pecorino pie in a puff pastry shell. Nutmeg and pine nuts give it a little extra interest.

    Torta Salata con Formaggio and Pere

    4 or 5 pears
    1 puff pastry circle, thawed
    1 egg
    3/4 - 1 cup ricotta cheese
    5 oz pecorino romano
    Couple grinds of nutmeg
    Dash of salt
    Handful of pine nuts

    Heat oven to 350 degrees.

    Peel and cut pears into 1 inch-ish chunks. Cut up pecorino to a similar size. 
    Add ricotta, egg, nutmeg, salt, and pine nuts, then stir.

    Place dough (on parchment) into pan and prick the bottom with a fork. 

    Fill with pear mixture and fold edges of pastry over the top.

    Cut parchment from around the pan.

    Bake for 45 - 50 minutes until inside is firm and pastry is brown.

    Tip: This can also be made as a savory pie by substituting the pears with zucchini.

    Saturday, September 1, 2012

    If you are in the Washington, DC area and want to expand your cooking skills in a fun and stress-free environment, CulinAerie is the place for you.

    I have taken many classes there including -- Knife Skills, Where's the Beef?, Cooking with Spirit, Indian Mystique, Playa del Sol, Channel Your Inner Julia Child: The Cuisine of the Perigord (one of my favorites), and several more. 

    I recently had the opportunity to serve as a volunteer assistant at two classes. It was the hardest work I've done in ages, and the most rewarding. 

    The chefs answer even the most elementary of my questions with patience and care -- and I am a better cook as a result.

    Monday, August 20, 2012

    Watermelon Gazpacho Topped with Crab

    This gazpacho is super refreshing because I use watermelon juice along with tomato juice in the base. To that, I dice celery cucumber, green pepper, orange pepper, and tomatoes. Add chopped cilantro, salt and pepper, a few shakes of Worcestershire and a few shakes of hot sauce.

    It's great just like that, but even better topped with some freshly picked crab meat right out of my sister's crab pot!

    Friday, August 10, 2012

    Strawberry Goat Cheese Salad

    A great salad for a hot, summer day.

    Tear spinach, radicchio, and romaine leaves. Add sliced strawberries, pecan pieces, and goat cheese. Top with olive oil and fig balsamic.

    I'm a huge proponent of cleaning veggies before serving. This is a great salad spinner and a perfect way to dry your washed greens.


    Wednesday, August 1, 2012

    Basic BLT

    Nothing says summer to me like a basic BLT sandwich. Wheat toast topped with lettuce, meaty tomatoes, and salty, crisp bacon. Add a little mayo and some salt and pepper for a perfect lunch.

    Tuesday, July 31, 2012

    Roasted Orange Cherry Tomatoes

    With the abundance of tomatoes this time of year, I'm always looking for ways to make them last longer. I store these tomatoes in a little olive oil and the (peeled) garlic cloves they are roasted with. They are sweet alone as a snack and make a great addition to pasta.

    Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
    Slice tomatoes in half. To make slicing them fast and easy, see Tomato Tip Below.

    Put tomatoes cut side up on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 
    Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
    Add a couple unpeeled garlic cloves on the pan with the tomatoes.
    Roast for up to 3 hours depending on the size of the tomatoes. These were pretty small, more like grape tomatoes, and only took 2 hours. They should be shriveled but still have some juice in them.

    Tomato Tip - Slicing Cherry Tomatoes in Half

    Place tomatoes in a plastic carry-out lid.
    Top with another lid (upside-down), gently press on the lid and run your knife through the middle.
    Voila'. This works great for grapes, too.

    Monday, July 30, 2012

    Salmon Sliders

    Earlier this summer I posted a great salmon burger recipe. Then I discovered this one and it is now my favorite. The uncooked consistency is almost runny and it seems like it won't hold together as a burger, but it does -- and it is the moistest burger I've tasted.

    Salmon Sliders
    1 lb Salmon, skin removed
    1 Egg
    2 Garlic Cloves, minced
    1 tsp Fresh Ginger, grated
    2 tsp Soy Sauce
    1 tsp Fish Sauce
    1 tsp Sesame Oil
    1/4 tsp Red Chili Flakes

    Finely chop salmon and mix by hand with other ingredients.
    Shape into 8 2-ounce sliders (they will be very loose)
    Saute over medium high heat for about 3 minutes per side
    Serve on Brioche buns with spicy mayonnaise.

    Spicy Mayonnaise
    1/2 cup Mayonnaise
    2 tsp Lime Juice
    1 tsp Rice Vinegar
    1 Tblsp Sriracha

    Wednesday, July 18, 2012

    Summer Veggie Lasagna

    I usually think of lasagna as a winter dish but in my quest to use up zucchini, I decided that even though it was 102 degrees outside, I would give it a go -- that's how much zucchini I've got!  

    It turned out to be the tastiest I've ever made. I didn't get a picture but you know what lasagna looks like.

    I used flat, not curly, no-boil, lasagna sheets. Instead of meat, I had a layer of sliced zucchini and a layer of mushrooms. 

    The ricotta cheese was fresh from the farmers market as was the mozzarella. The ricotta mix included fresh parsley, Parmesan cheese, an egg yolk, and salt and pepper.

    The sauce had onion and garlic, a hot red pepper (that I removed before constructing the lasagna) and fresh thyme and oregano from the garden.

    I made an antipasto salad to go with it -- also lots of fresh veggies from the garden/market.

    I did not make this one any differently than a hundred other lasagnas I've made, so I have to attribute the success of this one to the fresh summer ingredients. 

    Wednesday, July 11, 2012

    Culinary Business Academy

    I passed the three tests required for a diploma from the Culinary Business Academy. They covered everything from food safety to menu planning and marketing. It was a very comprehensive program. Now I'm buying lots of equipment!

    "Culinary Equipment Stainless Steel Square Utensil Rack"

    Monday, July 9, 2012

    Asian Veggie Wraps

    The CSA box included some beautiful Bibb lettuce and I decided to use them as wraps. 

    Soak rice noodles and add the following:

    Thinly sliced red and green peppers
    Green onions sliced diagonally
    Shaved carrot, broccoli, and cabbage

    Toss it all with a little of “The Sauce” saving some for adding at the table.

    The Sauce:

    Thin soy sauce
    Rice vinegar
    Sesame oil
    Srirachi sauce
    Lime juice
    A little sugar

    Put it all on the table with lime wedges to top it all off.

    Friday, July 6, 2012

    Zucchini Boats

    Many thanks to my sister, Janine, for this great recipe. 

    2 large zucchini
    Grapeseed oil (or canola/ olive)
    1 T Worcestershire sauce
    1 lb ground turkey
    1/2 large onion, diced
    1/2 green pepper, diced
    1 carrot, diced
    1 rib of celery, diced
    1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes, drained


    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Cut zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Drizzle with EVOO and bake, cut side down, for 10 minutes.

    In a pan, cook ground turkey and remove. In the same pan, saute onion, garlic, carrots, green and red pepper, and celery. When barely soft, add tomatoes, Worcestershire, and cooked turkey. Heat through.

    Turn zucchini cut side up and fill with the ground turkey mixture. Top with fresh mozzarella and bake for 20 more minutes.

    Chop up whatever veggies you have on hand and toss them in! Or make them Asian style with soy sauce,

    Serve with a fresh garden salad!

    Coming soon ... What I did with the leftover filling.

    Sunday, June 17, 2012

    Pineapple Upside Down Cake

    I'm not a big fan of sweet desserts. Given the option, I'd choose another helping of mashed potatoes over death by chocolate. But every now and then I want something sweet. A few weeks ago, it was pineapple upside down cake.

    I ran to the store and picked up a box of pineapple upside down cake, a jar of maraschino cherries, and a can of pineapple rings -- then got to work. Much to my dismay, I hadn't noticed that the mix called for a box of vanilla pudding and that's not something I have in my pantry!

    Thank goodness for Google. I started reviewing posts on substitution options - several of which said there is no substitution for pudding mix but I did NOT want to go back to the store so I kept at it. Finally, I hit on a post that sounded reasonable.

    For the pudding mix, I substituted:

    2/3 cup powdered sugar
    1 egg yolk
    1 teaspoon vanilla

    It was without a doubt, the BEST pineapple upside down cake ever. I will use that substitution any time a recipe calls for pudding mix.

    Wednesday, May 23, 2012

    Salmon Cakes

    I'm a huge fan of crab cakes -- what Maryland-born woman wouldn't be -- but I decided to give salmon cakes a try. They will never replace crab cakes but I am very happy with them as an alternative when crabs are scarce.

    I served this batch of salmon cakes with remoulade and a spinach salad of pine nuts, black olives, orzo, and radicchio. 

    Salmon Cakes

    1/2 lb fresh salmon
    1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
    1 T mayo
    Squirt of Dijon mustard
    A handful of plain breadcrumbs
    1 t capers
    Dash of Worcestershire
    A couple shakes of Texas Pete's hot sauce (Tabasco is fine)
    Your favorite chopped herbs - I used tarragon and chives
    Pulse salmon in food processor until chopped
    Combine the remaining ingredients and stir.
    Add chopped salmon.
    Shape into cakes.
    Heat a pan and add vegetable oil.
    When hot, saute cakes until brown.

    Friday, April 20, 2012

    Food Revolution I have applied to be an ambassador. I encourage you to learn more and get involved.

    Thursday, April 12, 2012

    Preparation is Key!


    Preparation is key to a successful stir fry. I like to have everything lined up and ready to go before I heat the pan. 

    This combination was particularly tasty: bok choy, red peppers, sugar snap peas, carrots, green onions, mushrooms, asparagus, bean sprouts, cilantro, and thai basil. The sauce was tamarind, garlic paste, and ginger paste.


    Wednesday, February 15, 2012

    Chiles en Nogada

    When I was in Mexico City last year I tried Chiles en Nogada and it immediately became my favorite food. I finally got a recipe from my friend in Cueravaca and made it at home. It was as wonderful as I remembered.

    Our Theme Dinner Group (TDG) came up with a theme for our next get-together where we prepare a dish we saw in a movie. 

    One of my favorite books is "Like Water for Chocolate" and it had been made into a movie. As I scanned it for recipes, lo and behold, the December recipe is Chiles in Walnut Sauce -- Chiles en Nogada! I know what I'm bringing!

    Saturday, February 4, 2012

    Bacon Roses

    Yes, I did it. Bacon roses.

    Tuesday, January 31, 2012

    January Dinner

    I started with small peppers stuffed with ricotta, chorizo, parmesan, parsley, -- the usual lasagna type filling. I got tired of stuffing the peppers before the filling was gone so I took some egg roll wrappers, filled them with the ricotta mixture, rolled them and dumped some tomato sauce on them. Both the peppers and the lasagna rolls took about 20 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees.

    The salad is spinach leaves, parmesan, and onion topped with Tessemae's Lemon Garlic (dressing - marinade - dip). Added some cracked pepper and it was good to go.

    The lasagna rolls were a bit starchy and could have used some hot sauce so I'll try them again using flat lasagna noodles instead of won ton wrappers.

    Sunday, January 22, 2012


    I went to the Whole Foods seafood counter and asked for 3 clams, 3 oysters, 3 mussels, ... and saw that the guy behind the counter was getting irked. I asked for a piece of Chilean sea bass, one squid (with tentacles), a handful of shrimp ...

    The guy stops, turns to look at me and all of a sudden his whole attitude changes. He says, "You're making paella, aren't you?" I said yes, and he replied, "I can tell already that this is going to be great paella! What else can I get you?"

    Well, it was indeed GREAT paella, and yet again, I didn't have the self control to take a picture of it before I ate it!

    I don't know if I'm cut out for this food blogging thing!  ;)