Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Fried Pickles

Fried Pickles
As I was planning out what to make for the Super Bowl this Sunday and I ran across a recipe for Fried Pickles.    My family loves to snack on pickles.  I didn't know how fried pickles would go over.  Only one way to find out and that was to make some.  They are surprisingly easy and quick to make.  I cheated and bought a jar of pickle spears instead of cutting my own.  Also, I used my deep fryer and cooked smaller batches than what was stated in the recipe.  To start, you cut the pickles into spears and blot them dry. Dip the pickle spears in some flour, an egg batter, and then coat them with a cornmeal mixture.  Deep fry the pickles at 375 degrees for about 3 minutes or until they are golden brown.  Drain the fried pickles on paper towels and serve with Ranch dressing.  That's all there is to it:)
The result:  To me the taste was interesting.  Wasn't bad -  but not a favorite.  The kids on the other hand loved them.  Tim thought the pickles were awesome.  OK, it is decided, Fried Pickles it is for Super Bowl Sunday.

Fried Pickles
From Family Circle Magazine

Ingredients:
3 cups vegetable oil
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/3  cup plus 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
1 large egg
1 jar (32 ounce) dill pickles
Bottled ranch dressing

Directions:
1. Heat oil in a deep pot over medium heat until it registers 370 degrees to 375 degrees on a deep-fat fry thermometer.
2. Mix cornmeal, 1/3 cup of the flour, the pepper, cayenne and salt in a large resealable plastic bag.

3. Whisk milk and egg together in a medium bowl.

4. Cut pickles into spears (about 8 per pickle).  Blot dry on paper towels and toss in a bowl with remaining 1/2 cup flour.



5. Dip 8 to 10 spears in egg mixture, then add to bag with cornmeal mixture.  Shake to coat pickles.  Spread spears onto a rack and continue with all spears ( in batches of 8 to 10).





6. Fry one batch of pickles for 3 minutes until golden.  Transfer to a paper towel and repeat with all batches, returning oil to 375 degrees before adding each batch.  Serve with ranch dressing.

Makes 16 servings













Monday, January 28, 2013

Hot Oat and Quinoa Cereal

Hot Oat and Quinoa Cereal
 Oatmeal and Quinoa combined in a hot breakfast dish sounded interesting.  Oatmeal has numerous health benefits as does Quinoa. Not only was it healthy, it sounded  delicious, and  easy to make.  I decided to make it for breakfast the next day.   In reading over the directions for the recipe, I noticed that you let the cereal mixture sit overnight.  Then you heat it up the next morning.  Perfect, this will allow me some extra zzz's in the morning. If you wanted to make the cereal in the morning, you just  cook the mixture for 20-25 minutes or until the grains are tender.   This recipe  uses steel-cut oats.  My favorite.  I love their nutty texture and hearty flavor.  To begin the recipe you place some dried fruit (I used dried cherries), oats, quinoa, raisins, salt, cinnamon, cardamom and 4 cups of water in a saucepan.  You bring it to a boil then remove it from the heat. Cover and let it sit overnight.  The next morning, you reheat the cereal and serve.  I served the cereal  with milk, maple syrup, toasted pumpkin seeds and toasted walnuts.  This was a perfect breakfast for a chilly morning.  The steel-cut oats and quinoa was a great pairing.  The fruits and spices added a wonderful flavor and texture to the cereal.  The family agreed, this was a delicious hot cereal and great way to  start off the day:)

Hot Oat & Quinoa Cereal
From Bon Appetit

Ingredients:

1/2 cup dried fruit (such as goji berries, cranberries, or barberries)
1/2 cup steel-cut oats
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed well
1/4 cup raisins
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
Milk (for serving)
Maple Syrup (for serving)
Toasted shelled pumpkin seeds (Pepita's; for serving)
Toasted walnuts (for serving)

Directions:

1. Bring dried fruit, oats, quinoa, raisins, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, and 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan.
2. Cover and let sit off heat overnight. (Alternatively, bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until grains are tender, 20-25 minutes.)
3. Before serving, reheat cereal in saucepan, covered, over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally and adding water if needed, until warmed through, 5-8 minutes.
4. Serve with milk, maple syrup, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts.

Makes 4 servings




Friday, January 25, 2013

Chicken and Dumplings Soup

Chicken and Dumplings Soup
Last night for dinner I made some Chicken and Dumplings Soup. A nice change from the standard Chicken and Noodle Soup.   It was a nice comfort food meal that was tasty and easy to prepare.  What made this soup extra delicious were the herb dumplings.  They were fluffy, tender and flavorful. I used fresh sage and thyme (1 teaspoon each) in my dumplings. The recipe called just for sage but as you can tell, I deviated a bit.  As they were cooking in the rich chicken broth, the broth was  flavored ever so slightly with the herbs. MMM good:)
Carrots, celery, and onions were  first cooked in olive oil for 5 minutes and then cooked in chicken broth.  Shredded cooked chicken was then added to the broth.  As the broth was simmering the dumpling dough was dropped onto the surface.  The soup was then covered and cooked until the dumplings were firm.   Dinner was ready.  The family  sat down and enjoyed a bowl of this delicious soup. Comfort food doesn't get much better than this.

Chicken and Dumplings Soup
From Williams-Sonoma

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
8 cups chicken stock
4 cups shredded cooked chicken
Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
3/4 cup whole milk

Directions:

1. In a soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrots, and celery, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes.

Veggies Cooking
2. Add the stock and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.  Add the chicken.  Season with salt and pepper.

Broth, Seasoning, and Chicken Added to Veggies
3. To make the dumplings, in a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt.  Stir in the sage.  Add the milk and stir to make a soft dough.

Dumpling Dough
4. Using a tablespoon, drop equal mounds of the dough onto the surface of the simmering soup.  Cover and cook until the dumplings are firm, about 15 minutes.

Dumpling Dough Dropped on Surface of Soup
5. Spoon the soup and dumplings into warmed large bowls and serve at once.

Serves 8

MMM Good:)







Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Matcha Latte

Matcha Latte
This is a wonderful and refreshing hot drink.  A great change from my normal morning hot tea or coffee. Matcha is a fine powder green tea that has wonderful health benefits.  It has a high concentration of the antioxidant EGCG. Matcha also boosts your metabolism and it reduces cholesterol levels when it is drunk on a regular basis.  These health benefits are derived because the whole tea leaf is ingested.  This means it delivers a higher potency of catechins, chlorophyll, and antioxidants.  I knew tea was good for you:)  I bought my Matcha powder at Whole Foods but you can find it at Japanese markets.
This latte is a super easy  and quick drink  to make.  You heat almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, or cow's milk ( I used almond milk), and water. Then whisk the liquids into a mug containing  the matcha powder.  Sweeten with Agave syrup (nectar) and you have a very tasty antioxidant drink.

Matcha Lattee
From Bon Appetit

Ingredients:

3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, or cow's milk
1 teaspoon matcha powder
Agave syrup (nectar)





Directions:


1. Bring almond milk to a bare simmer in a small pot over medium-high heat.
2. Place matcha powder in a heatproof cup.  Slowly whisk in 1/4 cup boiling water, then almond milk, tipping cup slightly to help create more foam.  Sweeten with agave syrup and serve.

Makes 1 serving



Matcha Powder



Monday, January 21, 2013

Spinach Souffle

Spinach Souffle
This recipe for Spinach Souffle is a favorite of mine and the family's. Even the ones who don't like spinach that much like this dish.  Three big cheers:)  I like this dish  because it is  easy and quick to make.  Perfect for  those  days when you are in a hurry and want something nutritious and tasty for the family. It is also versatile.  You can change the cheese combinations.   The taste is delicious.  The spinach and the cheese flavors compliment each other nicely.
I  found this recipe in my Sundays At Moosewood Restaurant  cookbook.  You start by using fresh spinach or frozen spinach and
squeeze out any excess moisture. If you are using fresh spinach, be careful not to overcook the spinach.  You want to steam it just until it is tender. Also, when purchasing your spinach be sure to get leaves that are nice bright green.   Chop the spinach and  combine it together with the, bread crumbs, grated cheddar cheese, eggs, cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a large bowl.  Pour the ingredients into a 9x13-inch baking dish that has been oiled and dusted with breadcrumbs.  Bake the souffle for 45 minutes or until the  middle is firm to the touch.  Remove from the oven and serve.



You can serve this dish warm or cold.  I usually serve it warm as either a main dish or a side dish.

Spinach Souffle
From "Sundays At Moosewood Restaurant" Cookbook

Ingredients:

1-1/2 pounds fresh spinach (or 2 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach, defrosted)
1/2 cups matzo meal or bread crumbs
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
6 eggs, thoroughly beaten
1 pound cottage, pot, farmer, or feta cheese (or a mixture)
1/2 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground back pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, preferably freshly grated

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. If using fresh spinach, wash and stem it and  then steam it until just soft.
2. Drain it, squeezing out the excess liquid, and then chop it.  If using frozen spinach, simply squeeze out all the excess liquid.
3. Set aside 1/4 cup of the matzo meal or bread crumbs and 1/4 cup of the cheddar cheese.
4. In a large bowl, mix the spinach thoroughly with the rest of the ingredients.
5. Oil a 9x13-inch baking pan.  Dust the bottom of the pan with the reserved matzo meal or bread crumbs. Spread the spinach mixture evenly in the pan.  Sprinkle the top with the reserved cheddar.


Baking Pan dusted With Bread Crumbs
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour, until the top is golden and firm to the touch.

Serves 6 to 8



Ready for the Oven

Out-of-the-Oven






Friday, January 18, 2013

Herb-Speckled Spaetzle

Herb-Speckled Spaetzle
Herb-Speckled Spaetzle was our cooking project two weeks ago in French Fridays With Dorie.  I am playing catch up.  I read rave reviews from other Dorista's about this recipe so I was excited to make it. The dough for this recipe has finely chopped herbs, flour, milk, salt, pepper, eggs, butter,  and nutmeg.  You combine the ingredients until the dough is sticky, thick, and wet.  The dough is then squeezed into a pot of boiling water using a spaetzle maker, large holes of a grater, or a colander.  I used my potato ricer. The kids enjoyed  squeezing the dough  and watching it drop to the bottom of the pot of boiling water and rising to the surface as it cooked.  The pasta is cooked  for 2 minutes and then placed in a  buttered bowl.  Once you have cooked the pasta, saute mushrooms and onions in butter and olive oil.  Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper.  Add the spaetzle and cook until the spaetzle is heated through and starting to brown.  Add chicken broth and cook until the broth has almost evaporated.  Toss with the remaining herbs and serve. It can be served as a min course or a side dish.



This dish was delicious.  The spaetzle was chewy, as it should be,  and extremely flavorful.   I served it with fish and everyone enjoyed the spaetzle.  I am so glad I went back and made this recipe.

You can find this recipe on pages 372-373 in "Around My French Table" or here.




Fresh Herbs



Dough
Dough in Potato Ricer



Cooking Spaetzle
In Buttered Bowl





Sauteed Mushrooms



Cooking Spaetzle With Mushrooms















































Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Oatmeal Muffins

Oatmeal Muffins
I baked some oatmeal muffins this morning for breakfast from a recipe I found in Cook's Illustrated magazine.  Not only does this magazine have great recipes, I learn great cooking techniques. OK, back to the muffins.    Oats are what give these muffins flavor -there are no spices in the muffin batter. The oats used in these muffins are toasted in butter.  They smell wonderful as they are toasting -  kinda of like popcorn.  To me, toasting brought out the nutty flavor of the oats which contributed to the muffins wonderful taste.  The oats are then ground and mixed with flour, salt, baking powder, and baking, soda.   Butter and sugar are combined separately. Milk and eggs are added to the egg and sugar mixture.  The mixture is whisked until smooth.  Next the wet and dry ingredients are combined.   A technique known as whisk folding was  used to combine the wet an dry ingredients.  In whisk folding, a whisk in drawn down and up through the batter before being tapped against the side of the bowl.  This knocks out any clumps of batter back into the mixture.  This technique rids the batter of large clumps and preserves the moist texture.
The muffin batter is then topped with a topping consisting of oatmeal, flour, pecans, brown sugar, cinnamon salt and butter.
The muffins are baked in standard muffin times  for about 25 minutes.  Cool and serve.

You can serve the muffins plain or with butter, jam, or your favorite muffin spread.  These muffins were  delicious, moist, hearty, and very satisfying. A perfect bowl of oatmeal in the form of a muffin.

Oatmeal Muffins
From Cook's Illustrated

Ingredients:
Muffin Topping
Topping
1/2 cup (1-1/2 ounces) old-fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup ( 1-2/3 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup pecans, chopped fine
1/3 cup packed (2-1/3 ounces) light brown sugar
1-1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Muffins
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 6 tablespoons melted
2 cups (6 ounces) old-fashioned rolled oats
1-3/4 cups (8-3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/3 cups packed (9-1/3 ounces) light brown sugar
1-3/4 cups milk
2 large eggs, beaten

Directions:

1. For The Topping: Combine oats, flour, pecans, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in medium bowl.  Drizzle melted butter over mixture and stir to thoroughly combine; set aside.
2. For The Muffins: Grease and flour 12-cup muffin tin.  Melt 2 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium heat.  Add oats and cook, stirring frequently, until oats turn golden brown and smell of cooking popcorn, 6 to 8 minutes.  Transfer oats to food processor and process into fine meal, about 30 seconds.  Add flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda to oats and pulse until combined, about 3 pulses.
Oats Toasting
Oats Toasted















3. Stir 6 tablespoons melted butter and sugar together in large bowl until smooth.  Add milk and eggs and whisk until smooth.  Using whisk, gently fold half of oat mixture into wet ingredients, tapping whisk against side of bowl to release clumps.  Add remaining oat mixture and continue to fold with whisk until no streaks of flour remain.  Set aside batter for 20 minutes to thicken.  Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.
4. Using ice cream scoop or large spoon, divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups (about 1/2 cup batter per cup; cups will be filled to rim).  Evenly sprinkle topping over muffins (about 2 tablespoons per muffin).  Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 18 to 25 minutes, rotating muffin tin halfway through baking.
5. Let muffins cool in muffin tin on wire rack for 10 minutes.  Remove muffins from muffin tin and serve or let cool completely before serving.

Makes 12 muffins


Batter






Ready for Oven

Muffins Cooling





Monday, January 14, 2013

Classic Minestrone

Classic Minestrone
It is cold outside.   Today, our high is to be only  28 degrees F. We are something like 20 degrees below our normal temperature.    That is what I call cold!  To warm ourselves up I made some Minestrone Soup.  This is a very tasty soup that is loaded with veggies, pasta and beans. You have your  onions, carrots, potatoes, celery,  savoy cabbage, and spinach all cooked in a rich broth.  You can use water or veggie broth if you wish. Add beans and pasta to the soup and flavor with salt, pepper, garlic,  fresh thyme and dried basil. Adjust seasoning, if necessary.  Your meal is ready to serve.  I served my soup with a large sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and some hearty bread.   A wonderful and satisfying meal that is economical and easy to prepare.

Classic Minestrone
Adapted from Womans Day

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
Kosher Salt and Pepper, divided
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 stalks celery, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 medium russet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
8 cups chicken broth (you can use vegetable broth or water)
1/2 small head savoy cabbage, cored, quartered and cut into 1-inch thick strips
1 cup Ditalini pasta
1 (15.5 ounce) can white beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups baby spinach
Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the onions, season with 1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt and pepper.  Cook, covered, stirring occasionally until very tender, 8 to 10 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
2. Add the carrots, celery, potato, thyme, dried basil and chicken broth (vegetable broth or water) and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add the cabbage and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 10 to 12 minutes more.
3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions.
4. Discard the thyme.  Stir the pasta and beans into the soup and cook until the beans are heated through, about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and add the spinach, folding until beginning to wilt.
5. Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.  Sprinkle top with Parmesan cheese and serve.

Makes 6 servings






Thursday, January 10, 2013

Baked Apples Filled With Fruits and Nuts

Stuffed Baked Apple
This week in French Fridays With Dorie  we made Baked Apples.  Baked Apples are a very simple, yet delicious dessert.   Apples are cored, peeled  half way, and a thin cut is made around the tummy.  This keeps them from bursting.  The apples are then stuffed with a mixture of dried fruit and nuts that have been tossed with honey, a pinch of fleur de sel (if you like) and a pinch of cinnamon( if you choose).  I chose dried cherries, raisins, and pineapple for my apple stuffing with some chopped walnuts.  You can use dried fruits of your choosing.  The apples are then dotted with butter, put in a baking dish with apple juice, butter, and the reserved apple peels.  They are baked for about 75 minutes or until they are spoon tender.    Dorie suggested you  heat the baking juices and pour  the juices over the apples - which I did.  It made them extra tasty.

These baked apples were yummy. Their flesh was tender, not mushy.  I will be making these again.
You can find this recipe on pages 394-395 in "Around My French Table."


Cored and Peels


Cherries, Raisins, Dried Pineapple and Walnuts


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Moxie's Cold Cure-All

Moxie's Cold Cure-All

The Saucier Family is suffering with colds.  We came down with them during the last days of our holiday travels.  As I was drinking a hot cup of tea looking at cooking magazines, I found this cold cure drink in Bon Appetit.  What luck - I pulled myself up and made myself a cup.   I remember my mom making me a drink similar to this  when I was a kid sick with a cold or flu.
The recipe calls for fresh lemon juice, honey, grated ginger, echinacea extract, a pinch of cayenne pepper and boiling water.  I made a slight modification, instead of using grated ginger I used one Ginger tea bag and steeped the tea for 5 minutes.  Once the tea was steeped, I added the remaining ingredients and stirred.  The drink was very soothing with a kick of cayenne pepper.
This is a  great comforting drink when you are suffering from a cold.  You can also do variations with this drink.  As I stated earlier, I used a Ginger tea bag.  For my daughter Christie, I made the drink with a White Tea Peach and Ginger Tea bag.
Note: I have read, echinacea reduces the duration or severity of a cold.  However, in reading over various Medical Blogs, the evidence is inconclusive.  

Moxie's Cold Cure-All
Slightly Adapted from  Bon Appetit
Steeping Ginger Tea

Ingredients:

1 Ginger tea bag
1 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey or light agave syrup (nectar)
1/4 teaspoon super echinacea extract
Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
Lemon slice for garnish

Directions:

1. Place tea bag in a large mug.  Pour boiling water in the mug and let the tea steep for 5 minutes.
2. Remove the tea bag and add remaining ingredients to the tea.  Stir until homey is dissolved.  Garnish with a lemon slice.  Let sit for 1 minuted before serving.

Makes 1 serving