June 28, 2010

Kitchen Sink Pizza with Balsamic Vinaigrette

It's CSA season!

We purchased another CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) from Driftless Organics this year. So far, so great. Veggies are all over our fridge. Each meal becomes a puzzle in figuring out what recipe will use as many CSA vegetables as possible.

Hence, the Kitchen Sink Pizza. This has a little of everything. Adjust the recipe to fit what's in your fridge. Unless all you have is ketchup.

Kitchen Sink Pizza
1 store-bought pizza dough (in a tube)
3 T cornmeal
2 T extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 yellow patty pan squash, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 bunch green onions (or use a yellow onion), cut lengthwise and in 1 1/2 inch crosswise
salt and pepper
3-4 T grated Parmesan
3-4 T crumbled feta
2 or 3 t balsamic vinegar
1/2 c basil, torn
sprig or two fennel leaves (optional), torn

Preheat oven according to pizza dough package directions. Put cornmeal on pizza stone (or baking sheet) and lay pizza dough on it, stretching it out a bit.

Heat 1 T oil in skillet over medium-high. Throw in the onion and sauté until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat to about medium. Move the onion to the side, and put the squash in and fry until beginning to brown. Season with salt and pepper. After a few more minutes, add a tablespoon of water. Let it steam off. When everything is browned nicely and looks delicious, turn off the heat.

Place onions and squash on the pizza dough. Top with feta and Parmesan cheeses. Bake in the oven according to the pizza dough package directions.

Right away when the pizza is out of the oven, tear the basil and fennel on top. The heat of the pizza will wilt it slightly.

While the basil and fennel are wilting, combine remaining 1 T oil and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl. Whisk until combined. Drizzle the vinaigrette on top of the pizza.


May 28, 2010

No Bake Lasagna

So this recipe seemed like a great idea. And ultimately, it was. It was fresh and tasty. But stacking the slippery noodles with tomatoes and zucchini sautéed in EVOO just seconds ago was not an easy task. When you can get the ingredients to stack, it makes a great presentation. And tastes even better.

No Bake Lasagna
adapted from Everyday Food Magazine, June 2010

1/2 c ricotta
3 T grated Parmesan
3 T plus 2 t extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
8 lasagna noodles, broken in half crosswise
1 clove garlic
2 pints grape tomatoes, halved
2 zucchini, thinly sliced
1 T plus more for garnish fresh basil, torn

In a small bowl combine ricotta, Parmesan and two teaspoons EVOO. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring large pot of salted water to boil and cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. Drain.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until slightly broken down, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add remaining one tablespoon of oil and zucchini to the skillet. Cook, stirring until zucchini is tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to another bowl and stir in the basil.

Place some tomatoes on four plates. Top with a noodle and small spoonfuls of ricotta. Top with zucchini and then more tomatoes. Repeat layering twice and top with remaining noodles, tomatoes. Garnish with basil.

May 14, 2010

Cream of Asparagus

When it's spring, eat asparagus.

Cream of Asparagus
adapted from Everyday Food: Great Food Fast

3 T butter
1 1/2 c coarsely chopped shallots (about 6 large)
1/2 t dried thyme
1 t caraway seeds
3 T all-purpose flour
3 lbs asparagus, trimmed and cut into one inch pieces.
1/3 c heavy cream
2 to 3 T fresh lemon juice
salt (optional vegetable soup base)

If your asparagus is at all tough or stringy, peel a layer off with a vegetable peeler. Learn how to trim and peel asparagus.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. add the shallots and thyme, cook until the shallots are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the flour, stirring constantly until incorporated, about 1 minute.

Add the asparagus and 6 cups of water. season generously with salt or add a vegetable soup base, according to package directions. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer until asparagus is bright green and just tender, 2 to 4 minutes.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until very smooth. Fill blender only half full and cover hole in lid with dish towel so steam can escape. (Or use an immersion blender, which is what I did.)

Want to freeze it? This is when you'd do that. Leave out the cream and lemon juice for now. Cool to room temperature. Freeze for up to two months. Let thaw to room temp. Gently heat and then stir in remaining ingredients.

If you want to eat now, go ahead and stir in the cream, lemon juice and caraway seeds.


April 11, 2010

An Apricot Appetizer

This is an appetizer that looks fussy but is really easy. It is sweet with a touch of richness.

Apricot Canapés with Lemony Goat Cheese and Walnuts
adapted from Lunds and Byerly's Real Food Magazine

2 oz fresh goat cheese, room temperature
2 t honey
1/2 t freshly grated lemon zest
1/4 c walnuts finely chopped
6 oz dried apricots

In a small bowl, mash the goat cheese with a fork until soft. Add the honey and lemon zest and stir until smooth.

Toast the walnuts gently in a dry fry pan until fragrant. Spread on a small plate and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon or so of salt.

Using a small offset spatula or butter knife, spread one side of each apricot with about 1/2 teaspoon of goat cheese mixture. Dip the cheese side in the walnuts, pressing slightly so the walnuts stick. Do this with all the apricots and arrange them on a serving platter.

These may be made ahead, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for several hours. Let return to room temperature before serving (about 20 minutes).

Note: Take care to chop the nuts finely and uniformly. I would do them smaller than pictured above. I love goat cheese, but if you're not a fan, consider substituting cream cheese.

March 21, 2010

Sopa de Tortilla

This recipe is so easy it's ridiculous. But who cares about easy if it doesn't taste good? Don't worry, this soup--with its medley of textures and flavors--won't disappoint.

Sopa de Tortilla is mainly a soup of garnishes. The soup itself is quite simple, and each guest can customize their portion. I would say onion, cilantro, avocado and lime are not optional, but do as you'd like!

Tortilla Soup

4 skinless chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 lbs)
1 can (14.5 oz) reduced sodium chicken broth
1 jalapeño, diced (with seeds for more heat, don't worry--the broth will be strained)
6 corn tortillas (not flour)
2 T canola oil

1 c shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
4 large scallions
1 green bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, diced
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
1/2 cilantro sprigs
1 lime cut in wedges

Preheat oven to 400.

In a large pot, bring chicken, broth, jalapeño and 8 cups water to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate to cool. Reserve broth.

Brush both sides of tortillas with oil, stacking them as you work. Cut the stack in half and then slice cross wise in half-inch strips. Spread the strips evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown, tossing occasionally.

Using a large spoon, skim the fat from the surface of the broth. Strain the liquid through a sieve into a clean pot. Shred the chicken with your fingers (removing any fatty bits). Return the chicken to the broth. Stir in about a teaspoon of salt or to your taste. Gently heat if needed.

To serve: Divide soup among bowls. Place garnish out in small dishes and allow each person to top their soup according to their own taste.

Serves 4. Chicken can be cooked up to a day ahead; store chicken and cooking liquid separately and shred the chicken just before serving.

March 09, 2010

One Lucky Lemon

These mini cakes deliver big lemon flavor with only one lemon! If you are a lemon lover, you have to try this recipe.

Lucky Lemon Cakes
adapted from Everyday Food

1/2 c unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 c low fat buttermilk or low fat plain yogurt (I used yogurt)
1 t vanilla extract
finely grated zest and juice of one lemon, plus approximately 1 T for glaze (I used only 1 lemon)
1 c sugar
2 eggs
approximately 3/4 c powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Grease the mini muffin tin or use baking cups.

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, vanilla and lemon zest and juice.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light. Add the eggs one by one, beating well after each addition. With mixer on low, add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of the buttermilk mixture.

Divide evenly among the muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes in the tin and then transfer to wire rack.

Mix powdered sugar with up to 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. It can be a thin glaze or a thick icing--up to you! Once the cupcakes are completely cool, add glaze and let set for 30 minutes.

You can also make these as regular sized cupcakes or jumbo cupcakes--just adjust the baking time.

February 28, 2010

Fried Rice Shortcut and No-fail Rice

This fried rice is quick, easy and healthy. Its shortcut is using bagged frozen vegetable medley, which cuts way down on the prep.

Vietnam Fried Rice
Adapted from More-with-Less by Doris Janzen Longacre

4 T vegetable oil
1/4 or 1/2 c skinless chicken breast cut in thin strips (you could use just about anything though, including tofu)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1 t salt
1 t pepper
1 t sugar
1 1/2 T soy sauce (low sodium preferred)
1/4 t powdered ginger (or Penzey's Chinese 5-spice blend)
3 cups cooked rice (white, jasmine or even brown)
1 c frozen vegetable medley (with peas, carrots, green beans, etc.)
2 eggs, well beaten
Dash or three of Tabasco sauce
Cilantro for garnish (optional, but recommended)

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high and add the onion and let soften for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken, garlic, salt, pepper, sugar, soy sauce and ginger. Stir fry until chicken is cooked through, 3 minutes. Add the cooked rice. Stir fry for 5 minutes and then add the frozen vegetable medley. Continue cooking until vegetables are warmed through. Clear some space by moving the rice mixture to the side. Pour in the eggs and scramble. Once they are scrambled, mix the egg throughout.

Serve right away with cilantro garnish.

No-fail Rice
It seemed like one out of every four batches of rice I made got screwed up somehow. Either underdone, gummy or just bad. I seriously considered getting a rice maker. And I still am. But, I found a really great approach to making the perfect rice. It's called dumbed-down rice from Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift's How to Eat Supper. The trick? Treat it just like you would pasta.

You can use this approach with any rice, but the cooking times vary. For fragrant rices (jasmine, basmati), rinse several times to remove excess starch, which can make the rice gummy.

Boil lots of water (add salt if you'd like). Add the rice and boil for 8 to 10 minutes or until it is slightly undercooked. Drain using a sieve or the pot cover. Return rice to the pot and cover. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.
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