New Year’s Day Hoppin’ John

It’s a Southern tradition to eat Hopping John (Black-eyed Pea Stew) on New Year’s Day for good luck all year, and this year, I’m not taking any chances!

I started with Ree Drummonds recipe. Ree adds a ham hock and says that you can also add a can of diced tomatoes, or a few cups of torn-up Kale. I skipped the ham hock, but may try the tomatoes or kale the next time I make it. If you don’t like black-eyed peas, it’s also good with black beans – it’s a great, comforting dish perfect for a cold Winter’s Day!

Ingredients:

4 Tbsp butter (or 2 Tbsp bacon drippings & 2 Tbsp olive oil) (Or just 4 Tbsp olive oil for a vegan version)
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, any color, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 14-oz cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 quart chicken stock (or veggie stock for vegan)
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Good pinch of red pepper flakes
2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
White rice

Heat butter or bacon drippings and oil in a cast iron skillet. Add, onions, bell pepper and celery. Saute for about 5 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add garlic and saute another 2-3 minutes.

Add black-eyed peas, chicken stock and seasonings. Don’t add the vinegar yet! Bring to a simmer, cover and let cook 30 minutes. Remove lid, stir and let cook another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add vinegar and stir. Check seasonings. Serve in a bowl over hot rice.

Maya’s Lemon Tiramisu

Maya made this for Christmas Lunch and it was one of the most delicious desserts I’ve ever eaten. Light, lemony and not too sweet, and so pretty. I asked Maya for her recipe and here it is:

Ingredients

For lemon curd:

¾ cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
¾ cup sugar
3 eggs
½ cup unsalted butter, cubed

For filling:

6 egg yolks
¾ cup white sugar
1/2 cup milk
4 ounce mascarpone (at room temperature)
1 cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt

For Ladyfinger “Dip”

1 Tablespoon of Grand Marnier Liquor
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup water
Ladyfingers (2 packages)

Step 1: Take Mascarpone Cheese out of fridge (it should be room temperature by the time you mix it in)

Step 2: Make Lemon Curd. Add lemon curd ingredients to a sauce pan and bring just to a simmer on medium-low heat, whisking often until mixture thickens, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. (Maya put some in a ziploc bag and piped it on the top.)

Step 3: Make Tiramisu Filling

In a medium saucepan, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until well blended. Whisk in milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils. Boil gently for 1 minute, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Once cooled (about 10 minutes) add 1 package of room temperature mascarpone cheese (4 ounces). Mix this until totally combined.

Next, whip up your whipping cream until soft peaks form, then add vanilla extract and salt. Gently fold this whipped cream with the mascarpone mixture; the consistency in the end should be kind of a light pudding.

Step 4: Make the ladyfinger dip. Combine Grand Marnier, lemon juice, and water in a shallow bowl that you can use to dip the ladyfingers in. Feel free to play with the ratios if you want your tiramisu more lemon-y. (If you can’t get ladyfingers, you can substitute sponge cake or pound cake cut into strips and baked for 10 minutes or so until they’re a little firmer.)

Step 5: Assembly

In a medium serving dish, you’ll start the layering. Dip some of your ladyfingers in the lemon dip, (they should be wet, but not soaked) and line the serving dish. Layer some of the mascarpone/whipped cream pudding on top of the ladyfingers (assuming three layers, use about a third of the mixture). Dot on some lemon curd, about 2 tablespoons. Repeat the dipping, placing, and layering until you’ve used up most of your ladyfingers and the mascarpone/whipped cream pudding; then drizzle with lemon curd. You probably will have lemon curd left over, if you make a whole batch of curd.

That’s it! Beautiful and lemon-ny, this adjusted tiramisu is a lot of work, but totally worth it!!

Baked Apple Oatmeal

Another MelsKitchenCafe recipe – and I like this because you can prep it ahead of time and it isn’t overly sweet. It makes a great breakfast on a cold morning, but you could even use this as a treat with afternoon tea. Or as a weeknight dessert, served with a dollop of sweetened, whipped cream.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned regular style oats
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp freshly ground Nutmeg
1/4 – 1/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 T butter, melted, (omit for a vegan version)
2 large apples, cored and chopped (no need to peel) (I used Gala.)

Mix oats, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar. If you like things a bit sweeter, use the larger amount of brown sugar.

Mix the milk, egg, vanilla and melted butter, and pour into the oats. Stir gently to combine

Place chopped apples in the bottom of a 9×9 cake pan, and top with the oatmeal mixture. You can cover and hold this overnight, or you can bake it straight away at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. Delish!

Beautiful, Chunky Roasted Veggies

I love roasted vegetables, but sometimes forget how much veggies shrink while cooking. By cutting the chunks larger, and spreading them out, you can get wonderful flavor without overcooking them. Plus all of these truly beautiful vegetables are hardy, so you can prep this early and roast them later.

Ingredients

1 large red onion, halved and cut into eighths
1 medium yellow onion, halved and cut into quarters
2 small zucchini, cut lengthwise and into 2″ pieces
2 small summer squash, cut lengthwise and into 2″ pieces
2 green bell peppers, cut into 2″ pieces
2 red bell peppers, cut into 2″ pieces
1 carton baby Portabella mushrooms, sliced thickly
1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into florets

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
good-sized pinch each of Oregano, Basil, Red Pepper Flakes & Parsley
smaller pinch each of Rosemary and Thyme

Mix oil and spices in a small bowl. Pour a little extra olive oil on two baking sheets and sprinkle a little more garlic powder, salt and black pepper on them. Spread around with your hand, and then dump the vegetables on one pan. Pour the olive oil mixture over and toss gently until all of the veggies are coated. Spread the veggies evenly on the two trays and bake at 425 for 25-30 minutes. Give them a bit of a stir half way through. The veggies should still have all their beautiful colors, but still be nicely cooked.

Easiest Vinaigrette

I made this dressing yesterday for Christmas lunch and realized that I had to really hunt for it. So I decided to make it a bit easier to find. If you don’t have fish sauce, you can definitely make it without.  But if you get a chance – definitely try it – the flavor it adds to dishes is amazing.

1 tsp crushed garlic or 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1-2 tsp Fish Sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

To make vinaigrette, add all ingredients to a mason jar, starting with 1 tsp of the fish sauce. Close with lid and shake like crazy until well blended. Taste and add salt, pepper or fish sauce as needed.

Mango Trifle

Inspired by the Great British Bake Off to try some new flavors – I made Mango Trifle for Samir’s birthday dinner last night. The recipe is very easy and so delicious.

Ingredients

2-3 cups of cake (angel food or yellow cake, unfrosted) cut into 2″chunks
14 oz (or more) frozen mango pulp
2 Tbsp rum
Rich Vanilla Cardamom Custard
whipped cream
fresh mango chunks

Place cake in the bottom of a large bowl or clear trifle dish. (Be a bit neater if using a clear trifle dish.) Cut frozen mango into 1/2″ chunks and lightly toss with rum. Place on top of cake. Pour cooled Rich Custard over fruit and cake and refrigerate at least a couple of hours until lightly set. Top with whipped cream and fresh mango chunks just before serving.

Palak Paneer

Beautiful Baby Spinach from Pille-Riin-Priske on Unsplash.com

I’ve always loved Palak Paneer, but had never tried to make it. We had Samir’s birthday supper last night and I made it, along with Biryani and a really delicious Mango Trifle, which I’ll add soon. Kumy made his amazing Potatoes, too.

I used a modified version of Swasthi’s recipe from IndianHealthyRecipes.com, which was excellent, if a bit confusing. Basically, you cook the spinach mixture first, and then the spice, onion tomato mixture. You add the spinach back in near the end, and Paneer goes in last, just before serving. It’s actually fairly easy.

It looks like a million ingredients, but they all go together beautifully.

Part 1:

2 Tbsp oil
4 green chilies (Long, skinny ones, seeded) or 2 small/medium Jalapenos, seeded
1 lb. organic baby spinach, washed and well-drained
20 cashews (unsalted or salted is fine)

Part 2:

2 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp cumin seeds, whole
2 green cardamoms, whole
1″ cinnamon stick, whole
4 cloves, whole

1.5 cups onions, finely chopped
2 tsp fresh grated ginger
2 tsp crushed garlic

1 14 oz. can crushed or petite-diced tomatoes with juices in can. (Can carefully buzz with an immersion blender in the can if you want a smoother curry.)
1.5 tsp salt

1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves
12 oz. Paneer, cut into 1/2″ cubes

In a dutch oven, heat oil. Saute chillies, cashews and spinach until spinach is completely wilted, but still bright green. Remove from heat, transfer into a bowl and let cool. Use an immersion blender or food processor to buzz the spinach into a smooth mixture.

Melt butter in the dutch oven and add the whole spices. Let cook until the spices are starting to sizzle a bit – maybe a minute or two. Add the onions and cook until golden – about 8-10 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring constantly for 1-2 minutes.

Add tomatoes with juice and salt. (If you used salted cashews, go easy on the salt.) Cook for several minutes until the tomatoes start to break down. If you buzzed the tomatoes, you’ll have a smoother curry. If you left the tomatoes in chunks, you’ll have a chunkier curry. Both are fine.

Add the garam masala and about 1 cup of water to the pan, and cook down until you have a nice, fairly thick gravy consistency. When in doubt – let it get a little drier. You can always add a bit of water at the end to loosen it up if you need to.

Add the spinach mixture and the dried Fenugreek leaves. Cook another 2-3 minutes to bring it back to the simmer. Taste and add a bit of salt if needed, and if it’s very thick, add a couple of spoons of water.

Add the paneer and mix gently to coat with curry.

Serve with Naan, or roti.

Red Cabbage & Sausage

Maya bought a gorgeous red cabbage when she was last home and I had a half package of turkey sausage I wanted to use use up. Cooked cabbage and sausage sounds like a nice German style dish, I thought. I love sauteed cabbage, so I improvised and came up with what ended up being a really tasty dinner. Leave out the sausage and you’ve got a lovely, colorful side dish.

1 Tbsp butter
1/2 yellow onion, rough chopped
1 1/2 cups red cabbage, chopped
2 tsp garlic puree
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
good pinch of caraway seed
8 oz turkey sausage, cut 1/2″ thick

Heat butter in a medium frying pan. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic puree and cook another minute, stirring. Add salt, pepper and caraway seed and give a stir. Add cabbage and toss to combine.

Cook on low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add sausage pieces, stir to combine, cover and cook another 1o minutes, until sausage is warmed through.

Check seasonings and serve.

Delish!!

The best Chicken and Gnocchi Soup

Kumy’s Mom loves soup, so I was anxious to try this hearty, creamy soup that came from the New York Times, and I must say it did not disappoint!

It was rich, delicious and so satisfying – one worth repeating. I did add a bit more Sage, since I have recently fallen in love with Sage.

It comes together very quickly, so it’s perfect for a weeknight supper. Leave out the chicken and use veggie stock for a delicious vegetarian version.

INGREDIENTS

3 Tbsp butter
1 cup each carrots, leeks and celery, chopped into bite-sized pieces
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped or 1 heaping tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp rubbed Sage
1 tsp Kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
5 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 (16-ounce) package fresh or shelf-stable store-bought gnocchi
½ small rotisserie chicken, skin and bones discarded, meat torn into bite-size pieces (about 2 cups shredded meat)
Fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)

In a large pot, melt butter over medium. Add carrots, leek, celery, garlic, and spices. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are slightly softened, about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle with the flour, then cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Gradually stir in the stock and cream, and bring to a boil over high heat.

Once the mixture boils, stir in the gnocchi, reduce heat to medium and cook until gnocchi and vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the chicken in the last couple of minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Ladle into serving bowls and top with fresh parsley if desired.

Smoky BBQ Beans (Vegan)

This is another side that I made for our Smashburger dinner the other night. It’s a Jamie Oliver recipe, and somewhat simplified but we loved its smokier, tangier flavor.

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion rough chopped,
2 cloves of garlic, crushed or 2 heaping tsp garlic puree
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 heaping tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 cup pureed tomatoes
2 small cans vegetarian baked beans
1/3 cup BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce, which is vegan)
1/2 tsp kosher salt – or to taste

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan. Add onions and garlic and sautee several minutes until softened and just starting to turn golden.

Add spices and cook a little longer. Add tomato puree, beans and BBQ sauce. Stir wlel, heating through and put in a baking dish. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for at least 30 minutes.