The recipes on this blog are a combination of things I've learned over the years and meals inherited through generations of adoration for good food. They are a cherished property, so please be good to them.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Stuffed Zucchini

For the stuffing:
2-3 links Italian turkey sausage
5-7 sun dried tomatoes chopped well
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
2 tbsp Parmesan
2 tsp olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Over medium high heat, saute the garlic and onion until translucent. Season with salt and pepper. Add sausage , breaking up into small pieces and cook until done, stirring occasionally. Add sun dried tomatoes and saute for a few minutes. Set aside and let cool for about 5 minutes to allow for easier stuffing.
Preheat oven to 350*F.

Slice 4 medium zucchini in half lengthwise. Place in a large pan, cut side down, and fill the pan with enough water to cover the zucchini halfway. Cover the pan, bring to a boil. Once boiling, let cook for 5 minutes. Remove the zucchini from the water and place on a plate to cool.

Once cool enough to handle, use a tablespoon to remove seeds, leaving about 1/4 inch of flesh in the zucchini. Stuff each zucchini half with some of the mixture. Place in a baking dish and bake for about 20 minutes. Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving; sprinkle with fresh basil.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Pork Tenderloin with Rosemary and Garlic Rub

Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs, and I love the smell of it and the wonders it does to the food it accompanies.

1 1/2 lb pork tenderloin, visable fat trimmed
For the rub:
4 tbsp rosemary, roughly chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
good quality olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper on all sides. Rub in garlic and a few good tbsp of olive oil. Massage the loin a bit to get the flavors activated and leave covered in a fridge for 4 hours.

For this recipe I like to grill the tenderloin and serve sliced on the bias.

Not Your NaNa's Meatballs

Traditional meatballs are usually made of three kinds of ground meat (pork, veal and beef) and browned in a frying pan.
Sometimes I want a meatball but not all the heaviness that comes along with them. I love ground turkey and use it quite often.

Turkey Meatballs:
1 lb ground turkey
1 egg beaten
1 tbsp each sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp garlic powder
1/4 c Italian style bread crumbs
1/8 c Parmesan cheese
1/8 c each fresh basil and Italian parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 425*F. Combine all ingredients until well mixed. Form meatballs about 1 1/2 in in diameter and arrange on a foil lined baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, turning occasionally to brown all sides.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Basil Marinara Sauce

This recipe is mine, based on my first lessons on making a good sauce. It's the traditional style of marinara sauce. I almost always use this method except in winter when I can't get good basil and the veggies aren't as fresh.

2 sweet onions finely diced
2 carrots finely diced
2 stalks of celery from the heart, finely diced
4 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
2 (28oz) cans crushed tomato's
1 c water
2 good handfuls of basil and chopped roughly
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan on medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and saute about 7 minutes until translucent. Add celery, carrots and season with salt and pepper liberally. Stir occasionally, and cook for about another 7 minutes. When vegetables are tender, add tomatoes and water. Allow to cook on medium low heat for about 1 1/2 hours.
Add basil to sauce and serve.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Irish Soda Bread

My grandmother came over from County Leitrim, Ireland in the 1940's and with her came all of her Irish culture and heritage. One of the many things she was great at was cooking and baking.

In Ireland my family has at least 2-3 loaves of soda bread (and often a hearty, rustic brown bread) at any given time. When visitors stop in unexpectedly (as they often do in small Irish towns) or when the men come in from working in the fields and bogs, soda bread and a nice cup of strong Irish tea is all you need.

Mary's Irish Soda Bread
4 c flour
1/4 c sugar
1 tbs baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 c margarine or pure Irish butter
2 c dark raisins (you could also do a mix using 1 c currants)
1 egg beaten
1 1/2 c buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375*

Blend flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Cut in margarine or butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add raisins, buttermilk and egg and stir until blended. Knead on a floured board until smooth (don't be shy with the flour...the dough can be very sticky) about 1 minute. Shape dough into two even balls. You can flatten them into 2, 8" round cake pans or, do as I do, and place loaves directly on a cookie sheet (make sure you do flatten them some to resemble a circular loaf). Cut a deep cross in the top of the loaf. Bake for about 40 minutes or until lightly brown. **Cooks note: The bread is done when it sounds hollow when lightly tapped on top of the loaf. **

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Dumplings in Soy Ginger Broth

This meal is so tasty and so easy to make. It requires a bit of patience through dumpling assembly, but no big deal!

Ginger Broth:
4 c water
1 1/2 c chicken broth
1 c soy sauce (I use reduced sodium)
3 inch piece of fresh ginger, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 spring onions chopped
2 tbsp honey

In a pot, heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil and saute garlic, onions and ginger until tender. Add in the remaining ingredients and simmer for 20-30 minutes to let the flavors blend.

For the dumplings you will need:
1/2 lb ground chicken
2 tbsp minced garlic, ginger, lemongrass and soy sauce
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp red chili paste
1 green onion chopped finely
(you could also add some mushrooms and beansprouts to the mix but I didn't have any)
1 package prepared wonton wrappers

Mix first 8 ingredients together. Lay out several wonton wrappers at a time for easier assembly. Drop a small amount of the chicken mixture onto the center of each wonton wrapper. Using a bowl of cold water, dip your finger into the water and then trace the edges of the wonton wrapper to create a "glue". Fold the wonton wrapper into a triangle and press down on all the sides making sure to have a good seal on the filling inside. Take the opposing corners of the triangle and bring together with a pinch to form a shape similar to a tortelloni.

Once you have your dumplings assembled, add to a gently simmering broth and allow to cook for about 7 minutes.
Serve immediately.
**Cooks note: This makes a ton of dumplings! Suggestions: 1)Don't fill all of your dumplings and make more the following day. Deep fry in peanut oil or wok fry and eat in a crispier version. **

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Spicy Beef and Broccoli

1lb sirloin steak, cut into strips
1/2 lb broccoli florets
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
4 dried red Thai chilies
4 scallions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
3 thick strips orange zest
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 cups beef stock
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey

In a wok, add 2 tbsp vegetable oil over medium high heat. Add sirloin strips and cook until no longer pink. Add garlic, chilies, scallions, ginger and orange zest. Saute for one minute and the add the stock, vinegar, sesame oil and honey. Meanwhile, mix cornstarch with water and wisk until smooth. Add mixture to the wok and mix well. Add broccoli florets and allow to cook for 5 more minutes, tossing to keep from sticking.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Asparagus Risotto with Shrimp

Risotto is without a doubt comfort food. I enjoy almost every variation I've ever had or made and enjoy throwing it together when I decide to make it for dinner. I had some early season asparagus and less than a dozen huge shrimp and decided to throw them together.
*sorry about the bad picture* Basic Risotto is very easy. There is a huge debate over to stir or not to stir. Some chef's will swear that a risotto pot must be watched over from start to finish while other's add the broth and let the risotto simmer in stages like more traditional rice cooking methods.

Also, most recipes suggest adding wine right after the rice has sauteed. I love the flavor it brings to the dish, but if you don't have it, you can still make a delicious risotto.

Herb Shrimp:
shrimp, cleaned and tails removed
large handful of parsley chopped
several stems of thyme, leaves removed
2 cloves garlic minced very fine
2 tbsp olive oil
large pinch of fresh ground pepper and salt
Add all ingredients to a plastic bag and let sit in the fridge for one hour
For the asparagus:
5-6 stalks cut into large pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic minced
fresh ground pepper

In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add asparagus and garlic and saute until just tender, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and add into risotto within the last five minutes of cooking.

Basic Risotto as follows:
1 cup Arborio rice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large sweet onion, peeled and finely diced
(1/2 cup dry white wine)
3 1/2 cups chicken stock (I make sure I have enough. Better to have to add a little more than be out) (heated on the stove in a separate pot)
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp heavy cream
a wooden spoon (you can't make this without one. the essential tool.)

Using a large skillet with a heavy bottom, heat the olive oil over low heat and saute until translucent. Add the Arborio rice, stir to coat with the olive oil, and saute with the onions to toast each grain of rice, about 7 minutes. Once the rice is lightly toasted, add the white wine slowly, stirring. (If you don't use wine, just proceed forward)
After the rice has absorbed the white wine and the skillet is nearly dry, add 1 cup stock, stirring occasionally, and cook over very low heat until the stock is absorbed. Continue adding the stock, 1 cup at a time, until all the stock has been absorbed.
(Adding the liquid in stages, instead of all at once, allows the grains of rice to expand more fully, adding to the risotto's creamy texture.) Once the rice has been added to the pan, the entire cooking process will take about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a frying pan on medium high heat. Add shrimp in a single layer and cook until a that side is crisp and brown, about 4 minutes. Flip shrimp and cook for 2 minutes.

Top heaping pile of risotto with shrimp. Add Parmesan to taste.


Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Jerk Chicken with Red Pepper Couscous

I love love love Jerk Chicken. Jerk seasoning and spices are a wonderful combination of heat and sweetness, that I just adore!

For the chicken:
juice of 1 lime
(reserve for prep time)
1/8 cup malt vinegar
4 green onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled, chopped
2 tablespoons dried thyme
1 Scotch bonnet chile or habanero chiles with seeds, chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tbsp each; ground allspice, ground ginger, ground cinnamon,
ground nutmeg, salt & pepper and dark brown sugar

Arrange chicken in large roasting pan or baking dish. Pour lime juice over; turn to coat. Spoon jerk seasoning (like a dry paste consistency) over chicken and rub in. Cover and stick in fridge to marinate at least 4 hours.
For this dinner, I threw the chicken on the grill (my preference for this recipe).

For the Red Pepper Couscous:
In a food processor, puree one roasted red bell pepper, 2 cloves garlic, 3 tbsp chopped parsley (Italian) and salt and pepper to taste.
Pour mixture into a sauce pan and allow to simmer for a few moments, cooking the garlic and melding flavors together. Add 1/2 c chicken stock to mixture and bring to a boil.
When boiling, add 1 c whole wheat couscous to mixture, cover and remove from heat. Let sit for 5 minutes until mixture is absorbed and couscous is tender.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Breakfast for Dinner: Blueberry Pancakes

I love breakfast for dinner. Can you go wrong with pancakes and bacon at any time during the day? I think not.

I'm a novice at pancakes. For years they've turned out more like circular weights of lead than light and fluffy cakes of joy... but they still taste so good!
Last night I had a pint of blueberries screaming to be eaten and all the ingredients for a basic pancake. Not to mention some applewood bacon leftover from the weekend, that went very well with three yummy pancakes!

For the batter:
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 stick butter, melted and cooled
Approximately 1 cup whole milk
1 cup fresh blueberries

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs then whisk them into the flour mixture. Combine the butter and 1 cup of milk in the medium bowl then gradually whisk this mixture into the batter. The batter should be slightly thicker than heavy cream. It the batter is too thick, add a little more milk. Gently fold blueberries into batter with a spatula, making sure not to break the berries.**Cooks note: Batter can be and should be slightly lumpy***

Heat a seasoned griddle over medium heat. Spoon or pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto the griddle to form a pancake. Repeat forming only as many pancakes as can fit on the griddle with 1-inch or so of space around each. Cook until bubbles form on the pancake surfaces then flip and continue cooking until the second sides are golden, about 3 minutes longer. The pancakes are best served immediately topped with maple syrup and additional butter but they may be kept warm in a low (200 degree F) oven until all the batter has been cooked.

**follow up note: they were less like lead weights this time... still not quite perfect. Still working on my form***

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Chicken Fajitas

This is one my favorite go-to meals for dinner. It's healthy and fast cooking with just a little assembly for eating.
I marinated the chicken for a few hours in the following:
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 cloves garlic 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
Salt and pepper
1 tsp each cumin, ground coriander, chili powder and paprika

Heat oven to 275*F and wrap tortillas in foil and warm in the oven while cooking.

After chicken is marinated, prepare to add to a hot grill, and cook through.
**Cooks note: You can always cook chicken in a saute pan.***

Meanwhile, dice into strips:
2 bell peppers
2 small Spanish onions
Saute the veggies together in 2tbs of olive oil over med-hi heat. After a few minutes, when the veggies are tender, add 1/4 tsp each of cumin, ground coriander, chili powder and paprika. Add 1/4 cup of chicken stock (broth is fine) and cook until the liquid is mostly absorbed.

Remove cooked chicken and cut into thin strips. Add to saute pan to have flavors meld together, under 5 minutes.

Wrap it up and serve!

Friday, March 2, 2007

Panko-Breaded Talapia and Corn Salsa

Corn Salsa... It's an alternative salsa and is great on top of grilled chicken or seafood. I had some leftover panko breadcrumbs and love how crispy it makes the fish.

Corn Salsa:
2 cups good quality frozen sweet corn kernels, thawed
4 shallots small dice
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeno pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tbsp coriander seed

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours. Remove from refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving.
For the talapia:
4 talapia fillets
(Each of these should be in their own bowl)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 1/4 cups panko bread crumbs
2 eggs beaten

Dredge the talapia fillets in the flour, dip into the egg mixture, then dredge in the bread crumb mixture, coating evenly. Fry in 3 tbsp vegetable oil for about 5 minutes, turning once, midway.
Serve with a heaping spoonful corn salsa.