Thursday, July 14, 2016

Mango & Blueberry Fruit Salad

My nephew and his boyfriend brought us some delicious mangoes from their trip to Key West, a gift for taking care of their sweet, sweet dog, Cooper.  After devouring two just on their own, I used another one for this great fruit salad since blueberries are also in season.  This is sort of a non-recipe recipe, so amounts are approximate.  The grated fresh ginger adds a wonderful element to this dish, and worth the trip to the store if you don't have any on hand.  (I keep a knob or two of fresh ginger in the freezer and grate it frozen for occasions like these.)  If you don't have a nephew who brings you gifts of mangoes, then you could use peaches (also in season!).  The best place hands down to get peaches in this area is McConnell's Farm. Check out the link!

Mango & Blueberry Fruit Salad 
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 mango, cut into cubes (scroll down for a mango cutting lesson)
about 1 cup of fresh blueberries

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the lime juice, honey and ginger to blend.  Add the mango cubes and blueberries and toss to distribute the honey/juice mixture.  Can be refrigerated for a few hours--and truth be told, this was still very good the day after it was made. Some chopped fresh mint would also be nice, but the taste of mangoes, blueberry and ginger doesn't need any embellishment.  Makes--oh, about two cups or so of salad--enough, certainly, for four as a side dish.

Mango cutting lesson:
Before I learned how to cut a mango, I wound up mangling a few into a pulp.  Here's how I avoid that now!  Mangoes have a large pit in their center that the fruit meat tends to cling to. The trick to getting around the pit is to lay the mango on a cutting board with the flat side down.  Estimating where the pit is--about a third of the way into the center from the edge or so, slice off one side of the mango, like this:
Do the same with the other side.  Then, using your knife, score the flesh lengthwise and across (see photo below) being a bit careful not to cut entirely through the skin (though it's not a big deal if you do).

Using your thumb and fingers, push on the mango skin to turn it sort of inside out, so that the scored flesh stands up, like this:
You can then easily (well...) slice the cubes off the skin and into a bowl.  Trim the skin off of the fruit that remains around the pit and score and cut into cubes around the pit as best you can. Voila! An un-mangled mango!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Soft & Quick Hamburger Buns

These hamburger buns took only about 40 minutes, start to finish--no lie!  They're soft and sweet. If you're a regular baker, the ingredients are all in your pantry and they couldn't be easier.  I made them for some bean/veggie burgers that need a soft bun so that the burger doesn't get smoosh out (too much at least).  I found the original recipe on a blog called Girl versus Dough.  I followed that recipe fairly closely, substituting honey for the sugar and using my stand mixer to knead the dough instead of by hand.  These are not big, big buns--they're about three inches wide.  You could make bigger buns if you wanted and then bake them a bit longer.

Soft and Quick Hamburger Buns
2 tablespoons quick rising yeast
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons lukewarm water
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
1 egg, beaten
3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water
sesame seeds and poppy seeds, option (about 1 teaspoon each)

In the bowl of a standing mixer, whisk yeast and water to dissolve.  Whisk in the honey and oil and let sit for about five minutes.  The yeast will start to go to work.  While you're waiting, preheat the oven to 425 degrees, place an oven rack in the top third of the oven, and line a large cookie sheet or two smaller ones with parchment paper. (You could also lightly oil the sheets if you don't have parchment.)   Using the dough hook, turn the mixer on low and add the egg, salt and 3 1/2 cups of flour.  Increase the speed to medium high and let the dough hook do its work. Knead the dough for at least five minutes, adding more flour a little at a time until the dough leaves the sides and bottom of the bowl and is only slightly sticky.  

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and divide into 16 pieces.  Shape/roll each piece into a nice, round ball and place on the prepared cookie sheet(s).  Cover with a clean kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and let rest for 10 minutes.  

Remove the towel and brush the buns with the egg wash.  Sprinkle the seeds on top.  Bake for 10 minutes, switching the cookie sheet half-way through for even browning.  Remove from the cookie sheet and let cool completely.  


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Refreshing Strawberry Sparkler

This recipe is an adaptation from a Martha Stewart recipe for Berry Saft.  Saft is a Swedish syrup (elderberries are often used!) that is then mixed with still or sparkling water to make a refreshing summer drink.  I swapped the sugar for honey (of course) and used the strawberries that are taking over the garden.  You can use any berry (or any combination of berries) that you like.  You can also use other herbs--basil would be nice!

Strawberry Sparkler
4 cups strawberries, washed,  hulled and halved or quartered
a 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced
2 cups water
1/4 to 1/2 cup honey
4 sprigs of fresh mint

Bring the strawberries, ginger and water to a simmer and cook until fruit is very soft--about 10 minutes.  Let the mixture cool and strain through a cheese cloth (or fine mesh strainer). Return to the pot and add the honey--start with 1/4 cup and taste until it's sweetened to your liking.  Bring the pot to a low simmer.  Add the mint sprigs and simmer, stirring occasionally until the mixture is reduced to a light syrup.  Cool completely.  Pour into sterilized bottles or jars.  It will keep in the refrigerator for several (3?) months. This makes about four cups.

To make the sparkler, fill a glass with ice, add sparkling water and then stir in the syrup--as much or as little as you like.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Great Banana Cake/Bread with Honey!

This delicious banana bread/cake recipe comes from King Arthur Flour, a great source for recipes.  It has a wonderful, deep banana flavor and a great, dense crumb.  It's almost like a banana pound cake.  It includes tablespoons of jam or marmalade. I used some lovely plum jam that friends gave us--a very nice addition!

I usually bake quick breads in a ring cake mold.  It holds the same amount of batter as a 9x5  loaf pan, and avoids the problem of an under cooked center that I sometimes experience with quick breads, especially when baking with honey.  Baked goods with honey tend to brown much more quickly and so the outer crust starts to get too dark before the center is completely cooked. 

Banana Cake/Bread with Honey
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
2/3 cup brown sugar, light or dark, firmly packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium or 2 large bananas)
3 tablespoons jam or marmalade (optional, but makes it very special!)
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs
2 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 5" loaf pan or ring cake mold. 
In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until smooth.  Add the mashed bananas, jam, honey, and eggs, again beating until smooth. 
Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Stir into wet ingredients just until smooth.  Fold in the walnuts if using.  
Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan, smoothing the top. Let it rest at room temperature for 10 minutes. Bake the bread for 45 minutes.  Check and then gently lay a piece of aluminum foil across the top, to prevent over-browning if necessary.  Bake for an additional 10 or 15 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes in the pan before removing. This cake keeps for several days.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Pretty (and pretty easy) Pickled Red Onions

These little beauties are easy to make and wonderful to have in the refrigerator for all kinds of things:
  • add them to any salad where you'd use onions (they're not as sharp as raw onion)
  • put them on a cheese or tuna or other savory sandwich 
  • pile them on a grilled burger or hot dog
  • set them out in a bowl with a cheese plate to have with cheese and crackers
  • place some on top of roasted veggies, like asparagus, broccoli or beets
  • use them as a garnish for baked beans
When the jar gets low, I simply slice some more onions and add them in.  They need to sit for about an hour before they're ready, so a little advanced time is needed.  The only other labor is thinly slicing the onions. If you have a mandoline, now's the time to use it! If not, just try to slice them as thin as you can.

Pickled Red Onions
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

Stir  (or shake) the vinegar, honey and salt together in a jar with a lid until the honey and salt dissolve.  Add 1 cup of water and stir.  Add the sliced onions and push them down to be sure they're in the brine.  Sprinkle the mustard seeds on top.  Place the lid on the jar and let sit at room temperature for an hour.  After that, refrigerate.  Will keep for at least a few weeks--maybe more!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Granola Your Way Recipe--with clusters!

This recipe for granola is a mash up from two sources.  The first is from an Epicurious article that offers a granola ratio "recipe" that gives you the basic ratios and lets you decide what ingredients to use.  The other is a recent recipe by Melissa Clark at the New York Times for how to get granola with some nice clusters in it, so that your granola doesn't seem too much like bird food.  The trick?  There are two:  use an egg white with the liquid and also take about a cup of the oats and maybe 1/2 cup of coconut and whirl them in the food processor until they're like flour. The ground oats and coconut help to form the clusters and egg white gives it all a bit of an extra crunch.

The basic granola ratio:
6 parts dry ingredients to 1 part wet, plus dried fruit

Here's what I used:
4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
1/4 cup oat bran
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup honey
1 egg white
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Place a piece of parchment paper on a large, rimmed cookie sheet (or two smaller ones). Parchment paper is really essential for preventing the granola from sticking!

Take about 1 cup of the oats and 1/4 cup coconut and whirl in a food processor until they're ground into a flour.  Add the ground oats and coconut to a large bowl with all of the other dry ingredients, including the cinnamon and salt. Combined the coconut oil, honey, egg white and vanilla mixing well.  Pour onto the dry ingredients and mix well with your hands to be sure all of the dry ingredients are coated well with the wet ingredients.  Spread out onto the cookie sheet and, with your hands, pinch blobs together to help ensure clusters form.

Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove and scoop/stir (being careful not to break up clumps) with a spatula to promote even browning.  Return to the oven and bake another 10 to 15 minutes, being careful not to over-brown.  When granola cools, add the raisins and toss.  Place in a well-sealed container.  Keeps for at least a week and makes about 7 cups of granola.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Two Avocado Recipes with Honey

Open-faced toasted avocado sandwich with honey and Parmesan
Two for one recipe day!  In the first, an open-faced toasted avocado sandwich with honey and Parmesan cheese, the honey serves as a garnish.  It offers a little bit sweetness to the salty Parmesan.  It couldn't be simpler.  In the second, the avocado is the garnish for a delicious lentil salad. It takes a bit more time to make than the sandwich, but is worth it!

Open-faced Toasted Avocado Sandwich
1 slice of good quality bread
1/2 avocado, cut into slices to fit the bread
1-2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon honey
salt and pepper to taste
Arrange the avocado slices on the bread.  If you have a large avocado, you might use less than one half.  Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese to cover the avocado and drizzle the honey all over.  Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on top.  Toast in a toaster oven for about a minute (maybe two) until the cheese is nicely browned.  Voila!  Serves one.

French Lentil Salad with Rhubarb & Honey
French Lentil Salad with Rhubarb and Honey
In this recipe, I used black "beluga" lentils.  French (Puy) lentils would also be good.  Both are smaller than brown lentils and hold their shape well for a salad.  Brown lentils will still work.  If you use them, watch them carefully while boiling to be sure they don't get too mushy.  Rhubarb is now ready in the garden and I tossed a few stalks into this salad.  I hope to post some other rhubarb recipes soon.

2 cups lentils
5 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon olive oil 
1 large onion, cut in 1/4 inch dice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 stalks celery, cut in 1/4 inch dice
3 medium carrots, cut in 1/4 inch coins
3 rhubarb stalks, minced
1 head of garlic (about 4 or 5 cloves), each clove thinly sliced
another pinch of salt
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1-2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup olive oil
2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (if you have it)
1-2 avocados, sliced (for garnish)
salt and pepper to taste

Place the lentils in a large sauce pan, add the water and bay leaf and bring to a boil over high heat.  Once the water starts boiling, turn the heat down a bit to keep a steady simmer going.  Boil the lentils until they are just done--about 15-20 minutes, checking regularly after about 10 minutes.  The lentils should be soft yet firm--no crunchy bite, but still holding together (kind of like "al dente").

While the lentils are boiling, heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute or frying pan over medium high heat and add the onions. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.  As the onions begin to soften, add the celery, carrots and rhubarb, stirring well to coat with oil.  At this point, you might need to turn the heat to medium to keep the vegetables from burning.  When the celery, carrots, and rhubarb begin to soften and give off some juices (about 5 minutes or so), add the garlic and another sprinkling of salt.  Stir to distribute and continue cooking for another five minutes or so until the juices evaporate, the vegetables are tender (but still a bit crisp).  Remove from heat and set aside.

Make the dressing:  Combine the vinegar and honey. Drizzle in the olive oil while whisking to emulsify.

When the lentils are done, drain them well and place in a large bowl.  Add the cooked vegetables and toss.  Pour the dressing over all, gently tossing to distribute it well.  Taste the salad to see if it needs more salt and add if needed along with about 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper.  If serving right away, sprinkle parsley on top--but hold off if you're waiting for the lentils to cool to room temperature (or to be chilled in the fridge).

To serve, cut an avocado into thin slices.  Place one serving of the salad in a bowl and garnish with avocado slices.  Sprinkle a little more salt and pepper on top.  

Can be served hot, room temperature, or chilled.  Makes about 8 servings.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Spinach Sauteed with Garlic, Dried Figs, and Honey

Here's a delicious side dish recipe for sauteed spinach, straight from Emril Lagasse and the Food Network website. Bam! I didn't do much fiddling with it, other than to add a sprinkling of hot pepper flakes to give it a little heat and a handful of chopped almonds for some crunch.  It is both sweet and savory. Besides being delicious, it's also fast and nutritious.  Makes a nice side dish.  This recipe serves four as a side dish, maybe two if this is the main dinner feature.

Spinach Sauteed with Garlic, Dried Figs, and Honey
2-3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup finely sliced dried figs
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 pound baby spinach (or grown up spinach, chopped)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup almonds, toasted and chopped

Add the olive oil and garlic to a large saute pan (one that can hold the pound of spinach). Place on medium heat, stirring as the pan starts to heat up and the garlic begins to cook.  Cook for about 2-3 minutes, stirring often and taking care that the garlic doesn't burn.  Add the figs and the broth and continue to cook, stirring, until the broth reduces considerably.  This will soften the figs and create a sweet, thickened broth.  Add the spinach, salt, black pepper, and hot pepper flakes and cook, tossing the spinach to wilt it. You may have to add spinach in batches as it wilts so that there's room in the pan.  Continue cooking until all of the spinach is wilted.  Remove from heat, taste seasonings and add more salt, pepper or hot pepper flakes if desired. Place in a serving bowl and drizzle with honey.  Just before serving, sprinkle the chopped almonds on top. 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese & Sauerkraut Sandwiches

Although it's well past the vernal equinox here, it hasn't really felt like spring.  I mean: SNOW! Chilly days call for comfort food and that's what these recipes offer.  The tomato soup is adapted from Jennifer Steinhauer and appears on Cooking New York Times.  That recipe calls for a whopping 1/2 pound of butter and 3/4ths cup half-and-half.  I cut the recipe down a bit and used 2% milk instead.  We also added some chopped marjoram, which despite the chilly temps, is burgeoning in the garden right now.  This is a very comforting soup that is not unlike the kind you might have had from a can--only better (and likely better for you, too!).

What better to go with tomato soup than grilled cheese sandwiches?  We glammed these up a bit by adding sauerkraut that we made from cabbages last year. We followed Sandor Katz's directions for making sauerkraut with great results.  So these are basically Rubens without the "ru."  Don't know why I haven't thought to add sauerkraut to grilled cheese before: it's amazing!  

Tomato Soup
makes about 4 1-cup servings

4 tablespoons (1/8 pound) butter
1 large onion, diced
2 tablespoons flour
1 quart tomatoes--whole or crushed (or 1 28-ounce can)
1/2 to 3/4ths cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons honey, plus a bit more to drizzle on top if you'd like
1 teaspoon salt (more or less, depending on how salty your broth is)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/3 cup milk (1%, 2% or whole--coconut milk might also be nice!)
1 tablespoon fresh marjoram (or oregano), minced, plus a bit more sprinkling on top if you'd like.

In a large sauce pan, melt butter over medium low heat.  Add diced onions and cook, stirring often until they are very soft (and sweet).  Do not let the onions brown. When onions are very soft, sprinkle the flour over them and cook for a few minutes (2 or 3 at most)--stirring and, again, not letting the onions or the flour brown.  Crush the tomatoes if you're using whole ones. Add tomatoes, broth, honey, salt and pepper to the pot and stir well  Raise the heat and bring just to a bubble, then turn on very low and simmer for about 20-30 minutes, stirring very regularly so the bottom doesn't burn.

Remove from heat.  Stir in the minced marjoram and let cool a bit. Puree all in a blender. Return the pureed soup back in the pot and reheat if needed.  Stir in milk. 

Grilled Cheese and Sauerkraut Sandwiches
Makes 2 sandwiches

4 slices rye bread
1-2 ounces Swiss cheese, sliced about 1/4 inch thick (cheddar or other cheeses would also be good!)
1/2 cup sauerkraut, rinsed
1/2 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon ketchup
1/2 teaspoon capers, diced
1 teaspoon dill pickle relish or diced dill pickle.  (You could use sweet relish instead, but if you do, skip the honey!)
1 teaspoon honey

Lightly butter two slices of bread and place in a frying pan or griddle on medium low heat.  Divide the cheese slices between the two slices of bread.  Top with the sauerkraut--about 1/4 cup for each sandwich.

Stir all of the ingredients for the sauce together, mixing well.  Spread about one teaspoon of sauce on each of the remaining slices of bread and place them sauce-side down on the sandwiches in the pan. Butter the outside of those bread slices.  Check to see if first slices are well-browned on the bottom (and the cheese is melted) and if so, flip over and cook for a few minutes more.  Slice the sandwiches in half and serve with the tomato soup.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Addictive Almond Honey Phyllo Pastry

I made the mistake of making this delicious and addictive confection when we had no plans for company.  Then Robert left for a two-day trip. What can I say?  I like a culinary challenge and this pastry was very appealing in that regard.  I didn't plan for overwhelmingly tempting it would be to have just lying around.  I'm proud to say that there was still some left when Robert got back, but we (okay, mostly I) gnawed our way through all of it, just the two of us.  Not a wise move as the weather warms and bathing suit season beckons!  The recipe comes from the Food 52 website and is called "M'hanncha-Moroccan Almond and Orange Blossom Phyllo Pastry." Mine is a bit more rustic than the lovely photo on the Food 52 website.  That recipe calls for orange flower water, which I did not have.  I did have some rose water, though, which I used, even though I didn't really taste the rose water in the finished version.  I think either one makes a nice addition, but isn't essential.  The cinnamon-almond-honey combination wrapped in buttery phyllo is what makes this pastry impossible to resist.  The pastry is supposed to be sliced in thin wedges like a pie, but Robert and I (okay, mostly I) just pulled at the ropes and ate 2-inch pieces until we got to the center.  Consider yourself warned: make this when you'll have plenty of help to eat it!

1 tablespoon butter (NOTE:  the whole recipe requires about 12 tablespoons butter)
1 cup almonds
7 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 3/4 cup almond meal (see note below)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 whole egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon rose water (optional, but nice)
8-10 sheets phyllo dough, thawed
about 2 tablespoons melted butter for brushing on phyllo
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon rose water
NOTE: If you can't find almond meal, then ground two cups of almond with one or two tablespoons of the granulated sugar in a blender (better than a food processor) until it is a fine meal, being careful not to turn it into almond butter. 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the 1 tablespoon of butter in a pan over low heat and melt.  Stir in the whole almonds and toast until nicely browned and fragrant, being careful not to burn--about five minutes.  Remove from heat and cool.  Place the cooled almonds in a food processor and blend with the granulated sugar until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Add the almond meal, powdered sugar, the 7 tablespoons of melted butter, the whole egg, cinnamon and 1 tablespoon rose water (if using).  Process until it is a well-combined paste.

Open the phyllo package, unroll, cover with plastic wrap and then lightly damp kitchen towel to keep it from drying out.  Take one sheet and place on the work surface with the long side facing you.  Lightly brush with butter.  Take pieces of the almond paste and roll into a log about 1/2 inch thick and line up along the long edge of the phyllo. You'll have to do this in fairly small pieces and press them together to extend across the phyllo sheet.  Roll the phyllo round the filling and brush with butter to keep it flexible.  Coil the roll and place in the center of a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Continue filling the phyllo sheets with the almond paste and rolling up, then linking up the filled rolls with the previous ones to form a tight coil.  This will take about 8 to 10 phyllo sheets.  Brush the finished coil with the egg yolk/water mixture and bake in the center of the oven for about 30 minutes, until crisp and brown.

While the pastry is baking, heat the honey in a small sauce pan just to make very runny and add the rose water if using.  Pour the honey over the warm pastry.  Cool a bit before slicing into small wedges.  This will serve about 10--or, over the course of five days, two adults with sweet teeth who know they should know better but ate it all anyway!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Avocado and Citrus Salad

Late winter is a great time for citrus fruits.  Though California avocados aren't in season, because of the Mexican avocado crops, it's usually pretty easy to find good avocados.  The orange and red grapefruit in this salad provide just enough acidity to keep the avocado from turning brown too quickly, but this is still a salad that you want to eat as soon as you make it.  It's be great on its own, but was nice on a bed of baby spinach.  This made enough for two generous dinner servings.  If this is part of a larger meal, it would serve four and is easily doubled.  It'd make a refreshing salad for Easter!

Avocado and Citrus Salad
1 navel orange "supremed" (see directions below)
1 red grapefruit, also supremed
juice from supreming the fruit
1 tablespoon honey
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 thin slice of red onion, chopped
1 avocado
2 cups baby spinach, washed and dried

Supreming citrus fruit:  Slice the ends off of the fruit and stand it on one cut end.  Slice the skin off the fruit, taking care to cut all of the bitter pith off but leave as much of the fruit as you can.  Hold the peeled fruit in one hand and, over a small bowl or measuring to catch the juices, slice on either side of each segment to free the fruit.  Place the segments on a cutting board.  When all of the segments have been removed, squeeze the remaining membranes over the small bowl to extract as much juice as you can for the dressing.  Cut the segments into about 1-inch pieces and place in a salad bowl.   Stir the honey into the juice, blending well.  With a whisk, slowly add the olive oil to emulsify. Whisk in a pinch of salt and pepper and set aside.  Cut the avocado in half length-wise and open. Remove the pitt and peel each side.  Cut into about 1-inch chunks. Add the avocado and diced onion to the citrus fruit and toss. Pour the dressing on top and toss again.  Taste and add salt and pepper if needed and/or some more olive oil.  Place one cup of spinach on a salad plate or bowl and top with half of the fruit/avocado.  Enjoy!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Mom's Peanut Butter Honey Oat Treats

I've been bugging my mom to come up with recipes for this blog and these delightful treats are her latest invention.  We had them for "bezzert" at our regular Monday dinner get together.  "Bezzert" is the linguistic invention of my great nephew Sam--an ardent dessert aficionado--who began inquiring about the after dinner sweet options when he was but a wee lad. He's big enough now to pronounce "dessert," but "bezzert" remains the preferred word in our family.  It makes us smile every time we say it. Mom's Peanut Butter Honey Oat Treats are both chewy and crunchy--and couldn't be simpler!  They're a regular feature of Wood Family bezzerts! Thanks, Momma!

Mom's Peanut Butter Honey Oat Treats
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/2 cup honey
3 cups oat cereal (e.g. Cheerios)

Line an 8x8 pan with wax or parchment paper. Place peanut butter and honey in a large mixing bowl and melt in the microwave--about 30 seconds  Stir in the oat cereal, completely coating the cereal with the peanut butter/honey mixture.  Press into the pan and place in refrigerator until hardened.  Cut into squares.  An easy and good-for-you snack (or bezzert!). Makes about 16.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Chewy Honey Oatmeal Cookies

I made this for a little party in one of my classes.  The students have been working hard on a service-learning project and we celebrated completing part of it with a pizza party--and some cookies!  These made quite a few (about 50) because they're small.  Another interesting element of the recipe is that the dough sits for awhile so that the oats can soften. If you try to make them right after you mix them, they'll be a bit soupy and hard to form.  I found the recipe on the Food52 website--a cooking website I should check out more often than I do!

Chewy Honey Oatmeal Cookies
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups oatmeal (the original recipe calls for quick-cooking; I used old fashioned)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup demerara sugar (could use turbinado or brown sugar)
1/3 cup honey
12 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (a lovely addition!)

Whisk the flour, oatmeal, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl.  In a larger bowl, whisk together the sugar, honey, butter, egg, egg yolk and extracts until smooth.  Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until well combined.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes. (I let them sit for an hour because I used old fashioned oats.)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Using a teaspoon, scoop and roll the dough into cookies about the size of a walnut.  Place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for about 12 minutes, until nicely browned at the edges.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Montreal Bagels

This is another recipe from the Cooking at New York Times website, though you might also want to check out other recipes, like this one from The Splendid Table.  It's a great recipe for beekeepers who have lots of extra honey on hand.  It uses 1/2 cup of honey in the dough and then another 1/3 cup of honey in the water bath the bagels are poached in before baked.  Unlike New York bagels, Montreal bagels are supposed to be smaller, sweeter and have a larger center hole.  You can see from my photos that I didn't quite achieve that effect.  These are delicious, though--and because of the honey in the dough, they toast very nicely!  If you get an early start, they can even be ready for a late Sunday brunch.

Montreal Bagels
1 1/2 cups water, room temperature
2 packages quick-rising yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup honey
5 cups bread flour (may need a bit more)
3 quarts water for boiling
1/3 cup honey
sesame or poppy seeds for sprinkling on top 

You can mix this dough by hand, but a stand mixer with a dough hook makes go a lot faster!  In a large bowl, stir together the water, yeast, sugar and salt. Stir in the egg, egg yolk, oil and honey and mix until well combined. Add the 5 cups of flour and mix until too stiff to mix by hand. Turn onto a floured board and knead until the dough is soft and supple. (If using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook for this.) Add as little extra flour as you can while kneading, just to keep the dough from sticking. Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. (At this point, you can refrigerate the dough if you'd like and make the bagels the next day.  If you do, bring the dough to room temperature before proceeding.) 

If proceeding with the recipe, then let the dough rest for 20 minutes.  Gently punch the dough down and divide into 18 even pieces.  Place the three quarts of water and 1/3 cup of honey into a large pot and bring to a boil.  Turn down to simmer while you get the bagels ready.

Take one dough piece, roll into a long rope (about 8-10 inches long).  Join the ends, pinching and rolling to firmly adhere them.  If they're not firmly adhered to each other, they can come apart in the water bath.  Place the formed bagels on a towel-lined baking sheet and let rest for 15 minutes.  

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Bring the water bath back to a boil.  Gently lower three bagels at a time into the water bath.  When they rise to the surface, turn them and let them poach for another minute.  Place the boiled bagels on a baking sheet (remove the towel!) and sprinkle with poppy seeds or sesame seeds. Continue boiling and seeding and placing on the baking sheet. 

Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until they are nicely browned.  You can freeze thoroughly cooled bagels, wrapped well, for future use. 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Asian/Italian Fusion Noodle Bowl-Dinner for One!

Robert has been flying up a storm lately and so I've been on my own for dinner.  This crazy--but delicious!--dish was tossed together from what I had in the vegetable bin and pantry.  I wasn't expecting much from it, but was absolutely delighted by the flavors.  Even the rigatoni, which I decided to use instead of some rice noodles, long pasta, or rice, made a nice chewy contrast to the broccoli and roasted mushrooms, if I do say so myself.  Maybe my low expectations of the dish helped me to enjoy it more than it deserves.  I'll make this again--and maybe next time when Robert is around!

Asian/Italian Fusion Noodle Bowl Dinner for One
4 oz. white mushrooms (about 6 medium), stemmed, cleaned and cut in half
2 large cloves of garlic (not peeled)
olive oil
1 cup (or so) of broccoli florets
1/2 cup dried cut pasta (I used rigatoni--penne or fusilli or orzo would do--as would any long pasta)
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon sriracha sauce (or red pepper flakes)--optional

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.  In a small bowl, toss the cut mushrooms and unpeeled garlic with about a tablespoon of olive oil--making sure that all of the mushrooms are covered with oil.  Drizzle a bit of olive oil on the cookie sheet and place the mushrooms cut side down, and add the garlic.  Roast for about 10 minutes, then turn the mushrooms and garlic and roast for about 10 minutes more--until the mushrooms are nicely browned and the garlic is very soft.

While the mushrooms and garlic are roasting, bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta according to package directions.  About 4 minutes before the pasta is done, add the broccoli florets so that they blanch and become a nice, pretty green. Drain the pasta and broccoli.

When the mushrooms and garlic are done, as soon as you can handle the garlic squeeze the roasted cloves into a small bowl and mash.  Add the sesame oil, soy sauce, honey, and sriracha sauce and whisk to combine well.  Toss the roasted mushrooms, pasta, and broccoli with the sauce and enjoy your meal! 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Soft Rye Pretzels with Sesame Seeds


This is another great recipe from Cooking with New York Times. The rye flour adds a nice flavor to these pretzels, but you could probably substitute whole wheat or use all white flour if you don't have any on hand.  Like any yeast bread recipe, this takes some advanced planning--about two hours all told.  We don't like salty pretzels, so I sprinkled pinch of kosher salt on top and used sesame seeds instead. I may have over done the sesame seeds, a bit--but these are really good.  Poppy seeds or, since this uses rye flour, a few caraway seeds would also be nice.  The chewy, dark crust of pretzels is made by poaching the risen and formed pretzel dough in a pot of boiling water with a hefty 1/2 cup of baking soda stirred into it.  The baking soda makes an alkaline bath that creates the browning (some recipes call for lye--no lie!). Up for a chemistry lesson?  Check out this explanation from The Salt at NPR!

Soft Rye Pretzels with Sesame Seeds
1 1/4-oz packet of yeast (I used rapid rise)
1 1/2 cups luke warm water
1 tablespoon honey
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup rye flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup baking soda
1-2 tablespoons sesame seeds
kosher salt for sprinkling on top 
Place the water in a large bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top.  Add the honey and stir until well combined.  Add 2 3/4ths cup all purpose flour, all of the rye flour and the salt.  With a wooden spoon, stir until all of the flour is incorporated.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10-15 minutes, sprinkling the dough lightly with the remaining 1/4 cup of flour as needed.  If the dough is really sticky, oil your hands a bit to make it easier to knead.  Oil or butter a large bowl, place the kneaded dough in, oil the top and cover with plastic or a towel and set aside to rise for about 90 minutes. (It won't double in bulk.) 

Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper (or aluminum foil) and lightly oil or butter them. Divide the risen dough into 12 roughly equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll into a long rope--about 16 inches long.  To make the pretzel form, create a loop by folding the rope in half, leaving a wide loop at the top.  Twist the ends twice and then fold them up to meet the center of the loop. Spread the ends a bit and firmly press them into the dough.  As you make the pretzels, set them on the prepared cookie sheets. Let the formed pretzels rest, covered, for about 20 minutes.

While the pretzels are resting, preheat the oven to 450 degrees and arrange the oven racks to be in the center and top of the oven. Place a large pot filled with 10 cups of water on the stove and bring to a boil.  Carefully sprinkle the baking soda into the boiling water--it will bubble up a lot, so take care with this!  Working with about three pretzels at a time, carefully drop them knot side down into the boiling water and poach for 30 seconds.  Turn the pretzels and poach on the other side for another 30 seconds.  Place them on a kitchen cloth to drain briefly, then put them on the prepared cookie sheet and sprinkle with salt and sesame seeds.  Bake for about 15-16 minutes, until they're well-browned, turning the cookies once for even baking.  Serve with spicy mustard--some honey mustard would be nice!

This recipe makes 12 pretzels.  I froze six of the formed pretzels, fearing we'd eat all 12 in a day or two if I didn't.  I can't vouch for how well the dough freezes, though.  My plan will be to thaw the dough on the counter and proceed with the recipe.  I'll try to remember to report back how well this works!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Scotch-Peanut Chocolate Truffles for Valentine's Day!

My father is a Scotch connoisseur.  Lucky for him, Robert occasionally makes a trip to Scotland, and when he can, brings back a drop or two of that country's finest drink.  Dad's favorite distiller at the moment is Deanston, which makes (according to Dad) some wonderful single malt Scotches. When I saw this recipe for Scotch Peanut Chocolate Truffles by Florence Fabricant on the NY Times Cooking website and noted that they used a bit of honey, too, I knew I had to give them a try. We're not as taken with Scotch as Dad is, so I had to borrow a few tablespoons from him to make these chocolates. (Don't worry, Robert! I didn't use the good stuff!)  If you don't have Scotch, a liqueur or other distilled drink would probably work--Grand Marnier or amaretto or Chambord? Bourbon?  You might also swap out the peanuts for another kind of nut like almonds or cashews.  A slight and lovely hint of the Scotch does come through and marries well with the peanuts in the chocolate. I used milk chocolate to coat the truffles instead of the bittersweet chocolate called for in the recipe. This made what seems like a ton of truffles--about 48--that I'll be sharing with Dad and Mom. Next time I make them,  I'll likely cut the recipe in half, though.  If you have some grown up valentines, these unique truffles would be a lovely, homemade gift!

Scotch Peanut Chocolate Truffles
8 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons honey
3 tablespoons Scotch
6 tablespoons salted peanuts, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 lb 4 ounces good quality milk chocolate, chopped into small pieces

Place the bittersweet chocolate into a heat-proof bowl.  Heat the heavy cream to a simmer and pour over the chocolate, stirring to melt.  If you need to, briefly place the bowl over a post of simmering water to melt all of the chocolate.  Stir in the honey, Scotch, nuts and vanilla.  Chill until firm.

Using a scant teaspoon, roll the chocolate into small balls about an inch in diameter.  Place them on a lined cookie sheet and then freeze for about 30 minutes, or until nice and firm.

Melt 16 ounces of the  milk chocolate (either in a pan over very low heat or in the microwave for a minute or so--being careful not to burn it).   Add the remaining 4 ounces of milk chocolate and stir to melt.  Dip the truffles into the chocolate to cover completely and place on a lined sheet. (The directions in the original recipe called for spearing the truffles with a fork and dipping them into the chocolate to coat.  That didn't seem to work for me. I plopped a few a time in the bowl, tossed them around, and then used a fork to scoop them out.)  In about 15 minutes, they'll be ready to eat.  Store in the refrigerator.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies

This recipe was originally published in 2004 in Gourmet Magazine, under the title "Inside Out Carrot Cake Cookies." It now appears on the Epicurious website. I made them back in the day when I subscribed to Gourmet, and am happy to have rediscovered this recipe. They're a delicious treat--and fully approved during a "taste test" at Monday night dinner with Mom and Dad (thanks, Mom & Dad!). I followed the recipe almost to the letter (just added a bit more vanilla extract) and they came out perfectly.  It may be worth taking a look at the comments of other cooks on the Epicurious website, though.  Some complained that there isn't enough flour in the dough and the cookies spread too much, so recommend adding more flour (about 1/4 cup).  Others thought that the flavors weren't that strong, so recommend increasing the amount of cinnamon.  Still others left out the raisins and/or the walnuts. We thought the flavor was great.  The filling is simply 8oz of cream cheese mixed with 1/4 cup of honey.  Whether you make these little whoopie pies or not, the honey/cream cheese filling makes a great frosting for any carrot or spice cake!

Mini Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies
1 1/8 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp.
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar 
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1 cup coarsely grated carrots
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Filling:  8 oz. cream cheese, softened and 1/4 cup honey

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and put racks in upper and lower third of the oven.  Line two baking sheets with parchment or foil and then grease the sheets well. (Some complained about the cookies sticking too much. I used cooking spray to grease the sheets and didn't have any trouble.)

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a small bowl. In a mixer, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat for a few minutes.  Using the lowest setting on the mixer, mix in the carrots.  Add the dry ingredients and mix on low until just combined. Stir in the raisins and walnuts until just evenly distributed.

Place by generous, rounded tablespoon onto the cookie sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart and trying to make them as even as possible so they'll be easy to pair when adding the filling.  Bake for 12-16 minutes, turning the sheets once during baking to promote even browning.  The cookies should be nicely browned and the tops should spring back when lightly touched.  Cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheets then place on cooling racks and cool completely.

Blend the cream cheese and honey thoroughly.  Take one cookie, spread the flat side with a heaping tablespoon, and sandwich another cookie on top, pressing a bit so that the filling squishes to the edges.  This recipe made 13 whoopie pies, each about 3 inches in diameter.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Honey- & Garlic-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Almonds--and Homage to Grandma D.

One night, dinner on my own, I roasted these Brussels sprouts and paired them some simple buttered wagon wheel macaroni ("rotelle"), my ultimate (and original) comfort food.  Buttered wagon wheels were the first dish I learned to cook, standing next to my grandmother at her stove. Grandma always had a box of wagon wheels on her shelf when we visited and my pantry is rarely without them now. She'd let me stir the noodles, help me drain them, and then let me stir in the butter to melt, all by myself. On a cold night when I'm on my own for dinner, buttered wagon wheels feel like a hug from her. I usually have some kind of vegetable with them (Grandma valued a colorful plate). These roasted Brussels sprouts are slightly sweet and nutty.  They're colorful and very, very good.  I thought I'd have leftovers, but ate them all--all by myself!

Honey- & Garlic-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Almonds
1 lb Brussels sprouts, cleaned trimmed and cut in half
4 cloves garlic, unpeeled 
4-5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
pinch of salt
1/2 cup chopped almonds
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons citrus juice (lemon, lime, orange--I used grapefruit)
pinch of hot red pepper flakes (optional)
pinches of salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a rimmed cookie sheet with aluminum foil.  In a bowl, toss the Brussels sprouts and garlic cloves with 2 (or so) tablespoons of olive oil until they're well coated.  (Don't clean the bowl after this--you'll need it later!) Spread the sprouts and garlic onto the cookie sheet.  Nice if you turn them all cut side down.  Sprinkle with salt.  Roast for about 10 minutes.  Check sprouts and garlic, tossing avoid over-browning and roast for 5-10 minutes more.  The garlic should be very soft and easily squeeze out of the skin.  

While sprouts and garlic are roasting, whisk together honey, citrus juice, and two tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the hot red pepper (if using) and salt & pepper.  Add the roasted garlic to the sauce, mushing with a fork. Place the roasted sprouts back in the bowl, add the almonds and pour the sauce over it, tossing well.  Spread the sprouts and almonds back on to the cookie sheet and roast for another 5-10 minutes.  Check seasoning and serve. This dish makes enough for 2 generous servings
Wagon Wheels-n-Butter 
Bring a pot of water to boil over high heat.  Add a goodly amount of salt and the wagon wheels--about 1/2 cup per person.  Stir and return to a boil.  Boil briskly until the noodles are done to your liking--usually 6-9 minutes.  Drain, return to the pan, and immediately add a pat (about a tablespoon) of butter and stir to melt.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, if you like.  I like pepper now--would have pitched a "Jennie fit" if Grandma had put it on my wheels when I was little! :) 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Black Bean Soup with (yep!) Honey and BONUS recipe-Mom's Salmon Chowder!

We skirted the blizzard hitting the east coast this weekend, and woke up to a beautiful (and thankfully small) blanket of snow outside.    A perfect day to spend making soup!

In addition to this nice Black Bean Soup with Toasted Orzo, I'm also including my Mom's recipe for Salmon Chowder, which she made for our regular get together on Monday.  My mom doesn't think of herself as much of a cook, but she is a masterful soup maker!  She has a wonderful recipe for tomato-y bean soup that we often request.  I'll try to remember to get the recipe and post it here.

This Black Bean Soup turned out a bit soupy, so I made some toasted orzo to soak up some of the soup.  The orzo was really (really!) good.  The soup would also be nice over rice, if you prefer.  And truth be told, you could just boil the orzo, too.

Black Bean Soup with Honey & Toasted Orzo
1 pound black beans, rinsed and checked for stones (or 4 15-oz cans black beans)
Olive oil to coat the bottom of the soup pot
2 medium or one large onion, chopped
3 ribs of celery, diced
2 carrots, scraped and cut into rounds
2 sweet red peppers (or 1 red and 1 green), diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 or 4 tablespoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes (more or less)
6-8 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons cooking sherry or cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
salt and black pepper
Garnishes could include sour cream or yogurt, green onions, avocado, shredded cheddar cheese
(recipe for toasted orzo follows)

Prepare the beans:  Either soak them overnight if you're on top of things.  Or, if you're more like me, do a "quick" soak:  Place the beans in the soup pot and cover with water by about an inch.  Cover pot, bring to a boil and boil for two minutes.  Turn off heat and let stand for an hour.  The beans are then ready to go.  If you're using canned beans, then, of course, skip this part.  Drain and rinse the beans well and set them aside.

Coat the bottom of the soup pot with olive oil and turn on medium high. Add the onions, sprinkle with salt--about 1/4 teaspoon, stirring to coat, and cook for a few minutes.  Add the celery, carrots and peppers, and sprinkle with another 1/4 teaspoon (or so) of salt.  Stir well and cook for about another 5 or 10 minutes until the vegetables soften (but don't brown).  Add the garlic, cumin and red pepper flakes, tossing to combine with the other vegetables and cook for another minute.  Add the prepared beans and six cups of the vegetable broth (if you're using canned beans, then you might want to cut back on the broth--maybe 3 cups?).  Wouldn't hurt to add another pinch of salt and about 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.  Stir, bring to a boil, then turn down low and simmer partially covered until the beans are done.  This could take more than an hour or two. Stir the pot occasionally and add more broth if you think it needs it. 

When the beans are fully cooked but not mushy, put about three cups of the soup in a blender or food processor and blend (careful! it'll be hot!).  Add the blended soup back to the pot.  Stir in the honey and sherry or vinegar.  Be sure to do that after the beans are fully cooked.  Honey and sherry are acidic and will make the skins tough if they're not cooked.  Check and add more seasoning--salt, black pepper, hot pepper flakes, if desired.  Serve with garnishes over pasta or rice--or try the toasted orzo!

Toasted orzo
Toasted Orzo
This recipe cooks the orzo like it is rice--almost like a risotto.  It cooks just as fast as boiling the pasta--about 10 minutes--but it requires constant attention and stirring.  Why do it?  Well, the toasting turns the orzo into nutty goodness and makes it a bit more special.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup orzo (I used whole wheat, but regular is fine)
1 1/2 to 2 cups boiling vegetable broth (or you could use salted water)
1 tablespoon butter
Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat.  Sprinkle the orzo over the olive oil and stir to coat the pasta with the oil. Stirring constantly, toast the orzo until it begins to brown, but be careful--once it begins to color, it can quickly burn!  (See photo.)  Add 1/2 cup boiling broth to the pan, stirring constantly.  (If you're using water, then add some salt, too.)  Keep stirring until most of the water is absorbed.  Add another 1/2 cup of the broth and keep stirring until it's absorbed and add another 1/2 cup of broth, continuing to stir.  When the broth is absorbed and the pasta begins to look creamy, check to see if it's done.  It may need another 1/2 cup of broth, and if so, add it and keep stirring.  Stir in the butter and serve with the soup!

Mom's Salmon Chowder 
I wish I had a photo of this pretty soup!  Ate it all up before I could snap a pic! 
1 pound fresh skinless salmon fillets or one 15 oz can salmon, rinsed  drained, flaked, and skin and bones removed 
1 tablespoon cooking oil 
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup thinly chopped celery
1 1/2 cups water
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 1/2 cups cubed red-skinned potatoes (3 medium)
1 10-ounce package frozen whole kernel corn
1 teaspoon snipped fresh dill or 1/2 teaspoon dried dillweed
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to season if needed
2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

1. Rinse fresh salmon; pat dry.  Set aside.  In a large saucepan heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook and stir carrots , onion, and celery in hot oil about 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.
2. Meanwhile, to poach fresh salmon, in a large skillet, bring water to boiling.  Add salmon.  Return to boiling; reduce heat covered, for 6-8 minutes, or until the salmon flakes easily with a fork. Remove salmon from skillet, discard poaching liquid.  Flake salmon into 1/2-inch pieces: set aside.
3. Stir the broth, potatoes, corn, dill, bay leaf, thyme,cayenne pepper, and salt into vegetables in saucepan.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Cook, covered, over medium-low heat about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally.
4. Stir together 1/2 cup of the milk and cornstarch.  Add milk mixture to saucepan. Stir in remaining milk.  Cook and stir over the medium heat until thickened slightly and bubbly.  Cook and stir for 2 minutes more.  Gently stir in poached salmon or canned salmon.  heat through.
Mom included these notes with her recipe:  So...some notes about my stew....I didn't have the bay leaf..used red pepper instead of cayenne pepper (very little).  And I think I messed up on the corn starch and it might have been a little thicker.  Oh, and I used two of the salmon steaks we buy frozen. It was delicious, Momma! :)

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Honey and Balsamic Glazed Mushrooms

I had some mushrooms that were on their way south and went looking for a recipe that would use them all up.  This honey and balsamic glazed mushroom recipe did the trick, which I developed after perusing some recipes on-line.  They'd make a nice appetizer or a side dish with beef.  I made a meal out of them with a grilled cheese, onion, and spinach sandwich. Ate the whole bowl myself!  I will say that they're not very pretty, but they are very good in a sweet-n-salty way.  If you use them as an appetizer, I'd keep all of them whole and serve with toothpicks.

Honey and Balsamic Glazed Mushrooms
  • 1 12-oz package of fresh button or cremini mushrooms.
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary (plus a bit more for garnish)
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme (plus a bit more for garnish)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Remove the stems from the mushrooms (save them in the freezer to make vegetable broth!). If serving as a side dish, quarter large mushrooms, half medium ones and leave the small ones whole.  If serving as an appetizer, leave them all whole. In a small bowl, whisk three tablespoons of olive oil, the vinegar, honey, rosemary, thyme and pepper and set aside.  In a large skillet (so that the mushrooms don't touch and have lots of room to caramelize), heat two tablespoons of the olive oil over medium high heat until it shimmers.  Add the mushrooms, toss a few times and then let them brown--about 3-5 minutes.  Stir when they start to give up their juices, then add another tablespoon of olive oil, the garlic, and sprinkle the salt all over.  Stir well, turning down the heat if needed so that the garlic doesn't burn. When the garlic becomes fragrant (a minute or so), add the balsamic/honey mixture and bring it to a boil, stirring constantly.  Cook until the balsamic/honey mixture reduces at least by half (or more) into a nice, tasty glaze.  Check seasonings. If you like things spicy, you could a pinch or so some ground hot red pepper now.  Sprinkle a little rosemary and thyme on top to serve.  Serve hot or at room temperature.  Serves two as a side dish, perhaps four as an appetizer, or one hungry diner for a meal on her own.