Vegan Parmesan

Even if you aren’t vegan, you’ll flip over this vegan parmesan recipe from Minimalist Baker.  It’s  so delicious I can’t stay away from it – I’ve literally been stealing spoonsful from the container!  It’s super easy to make and keeps for a couple of weeks, if it lasts that long.

3/4 raw cashews
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast (I used Bragg’s Nutritional Yeast.)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp kosher salt

Buzz all in a food processor until mixture is in small crumbles. Be careful not to overprocess, or you’ll end up with cashew butter.

This is wonderful in all the places you might use Parmesan, but is also tasty on top of any veggies.  Enjoy!

Brodo with Chicken and Spinach

brodo-3Another great recipe from Johanne Killeen in the Slow Food Fast recipes in the WSJ – with some changes.  Brodo is a simple soup that comes together fast and is incredibly satisfying.  It’s also quite flexible and can use different pastas and different greens

It’s been ridiculously cold and windy here!  We needed something to warm us up – and this sure fit the bill.  This makes enough for two people, roughly.

Ingredients:

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups rich chicken stock
2 eggs
1 cup chopped cooked chicken, optional
2 cups chopped fresh spinach or thinly sliced kale
1/3 lb capellini, spaghetti or linguine
fresh grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

Bring a pot of salted water to boil and add the pasta. Cook until al dente and drain water. Keep warm.

At the same time, add the chicken stock to another pot and bring to the boil, then reduce heat and gently drop eggs in to poach. After 3 minutes or so, scoop eggs out onto a plate.

Add spinach to chicken stock and cook for a few moments. (You may need to cook a little longer with Kale.) Add chicken meat if using and stir. Add a pinch of salt and 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper.

Place some pasta on one side of each bowl. (It’s going to slip around a bit, but that’s okay.) Ladle the chicken and spinach with broth on the open side of the bowl, and top with the poached egg.

Grate cheese over, sprinkle once more with black pepper and serve. The egg yolks will help thicken the broth and add incredible richness.

So fast and so delish!

Ina’s Iceberg Salad with Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing

blue-cheese

Beautiful Blue Cheese by PDPhotos on Pixabay.

I made this for Christmas Morning brunch and it was delicious. Maybe my favorite blue cheese dressing ever.

For the dressing:

4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
2/3 cup good mayonnaise
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:

4 tender inside celery stalks, trimmed and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
6 radishes, trimmed and sliced into thin rounds
5 scallions, trimmed, white and green parts sliced

1 large head iceberg lettuce, wilted outer leaves removed and sliced into 1″ layers
4 to 6 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
Fleur de sel

Buzz the dressing ingredients with a buzzwand (sorry, immersion blender) in a medium pitcher until creamy and smooth.

Mix the celery, radishes and scallions in a small bowl.

For each serving, lay a slice of iceberg lettuce on a salad plate. Top with the celery mixture and pour dressing over. Sprinkle with blue cheese crumbles and a bit of fleur de sel.

Serve immediately. The radishes and scallions add a lovely spicy bite to the creamy, fresh salad.  You might want to halve the slices if your family are not big salad eaters.

Mushroom and Roasted Tomato Cheesy Pasta Cast Iron Skillet Bake

Mushroom-and-roasted-pepperI love Christmas Eve, since we always celebrate with  my brothers and sister at my brother Ron’s house, and we all bring a dish to share for dinner.  In the middle of prepping my dish, I started to get hungry and decided to make something for lunch.  But what?

Since I hadn’t really planned anything, I just checked the fridge and came up with a recipe on the fly.  Had some mushrooms and grape tomatoes on their last legs, half a red onion I wanted to use up, some lovely pasta and two nice chunks of cheese, only one of which I was sure was Asiago.

The dish came out so delicious I actually sat down and wrote it down right away.  Here is the recipe, in stages.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees, and start by roasting the tomatoes, since that takes the longest.

1 package grape tomatoes
little olive oil
salt and pepper – just a good pinch of each

Put grape tomatoes in a small baking pan and roll them in the oil, salt and pepper. Place in the oven and roast for quite a long time, (maybe 30 minutes?) until the tomatoes have collapsed a bit and there is a nice caramelized smell. No need to stir them or mess with them at all.

Veggies:

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 pinch red pepper flakes
2 packages sliced baby portabella mushrooms

Heat oil in a cast iron skillet. Add onions, peppers and seasonings and saute for a few minutes, until onion is softened. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms have released their water. But don’t stop – keep cooking, stirring once in a while until the the water has dried up again.  Turn off the heat.

Pasta:

At the same time, bring a pot of salted water to boil and add 3/4 pound of any kind of pasta and cook to al dente. Drain the water and add the pasta to the veggies.

Check the tomatoes and if they’re softened, scrape them and any juices into the veggies.

Turn the oven to 350 degrees.

Create sauce:

Put the pasta pot back on the burner.

1/4 cup butter
2 Tbsp flour
/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
good pinch red pepper flakes
good pinch garlic powder

2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup shredded Asiago cheese
1/4 cup some other shredded cheese – maybe it was a White Cheddar?

Melt butter in pasta pot and add flour, stirring well for a few minutes. Stir in the seasonings, then add in the chicken stock. Cook for a few minutes until the sauce is thickened a good bit, then add the shredded cheese, holding back 1/4 cup for later.

Stir until everything is nice and creamy and check the seasonings. Pour into skillet with veggies and pasta and stir gently. Top with reserved cheese and pop back into the oven for 20-25 minutes until the top is browned just a bit here and there.

Let sit for a couple minutes and serve. Soooo good!

Caitlin’s Charcuterie Tray/Board

Caitlin's-Charcuterie-TrayWe were going to a friend’s holiday get-together and I wanted to bring something a little different to share. Caitie suggested a charcuterie board and we picked up crackers, meats and cheeses to make it.

We always have a variety of nuts and dried fruits in the house and I had some amazing spiced cherry preserves, so we got started. (Basically I hunted up whatever Caitlin could think of and she arranged everything!)

Here’s what I learned:

1. It’s always nice to have at least two versions of everything.

    • Cheese – we had a nice Brie and cubes of a good cheddar.
    • Meat – we used Prosciutto, Capocollo and Calabrese Salami from a pre-packed tray. You  could also use any spicier turkey salami or turkey ham. Just make sure they are thinly sliced and bite-sized.
    • Nuts – we had cashews and almonds
    • Dried fruit – we used Craisins and candied ginger
    • Something sweet – we had Costco’s chocolate covered raisins

2. A board is nice but it’s more practical to use a tray with an edge to keep things from rolling around. (We actually used a Costco pie tray.)

3. Meats work best rolled into a tube, or a cone. They’re easier to stack and to pick up.

4. Hard cheeses should be cut into little squares. Soft cheese can be served in a chunk.

5. When you place items on the tray, try to keep the items in wedges going around. We started with a nice Brie and a pot of spiced cherries in the middle, and built around that.

6. Plan to vary the ingredients by color. It looks much prettier if you have a light colored item and then a dark item, etc.

7. Use a tiny bowl or cup for any type of relish.  I used a Oui yogurt glass container – can’t bring myself to throw them away – and it worked perfectly.

8. A little greenery (we had fresh rosemary and parsley blossoms) adds a nice fresh contrast to the dish.

9. Crackers or little slices of baguette are the perfect thing to serve on.

10. A small knife, fork and spoon are all you really need for serving. You could probably include toothpicks if you want, but we didn’t really need it with the little fork.

11.  You can cover it with plastic wrap or with the top of the pie tray if you have it.  ( I just peeled the label off carefully and it worked great.)

It’s a lovely thing to bring if you’re visiting and there’s always something for everyone.  Thanks for sharing your charcuterie knowledge with me, Caitlin!

 

 

Shrimp, Tomatoes & Spinach in Tuscan Butter Sauce

This is based on Lena Abraham’s Tuscan Butter Shrimp recipe on Delish.com. We absolutely loved it and I will definitely make it again and often!  I did add more shrimp and spinach, because we really love them both.

3 Tbsp olive oil
2 lb. shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp butter
3 cloves garlic, minced or 1 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
4 cups baby spinach (can use a spinach/arugula mix)
1/2 cup half n half (or heavy cream)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup basil, thinly sliced, or 1 1/2 Tbsp dried basil

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. Season shrimp all over with salt and pepper. When oil is shimmering but not smoking, add shrimp and sear until underside is golden, about 2 minutes, then flip until opaque. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Reduce heat to medium and add butter. When butter has melted, stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add cherry tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook until tomatoes are beginning to burst, then add spinach and cook until spinach starts to wilt.

Stir in half and half, Parmesan and basil and bring mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer until sauce is slightly reduced, about 3 minutes.Return shrimp to skillet and stir to combine. Cook until shrimp is heated through, and check the seasoning. Garnish with more fresh basil if you have it.

You can serve it over some nice fresh pasta, or just have it as is, more like a stew.

Perfect Roasted Brussels Sprouts

keenan-loo-dqlxphCcA2g-unsplash

Beautiful Brussels Sprouts by Keenan Loo on Unsplash.

This recipe from Mark Bittman is a really delicious way to prepare Brussels Sprouts.  It’s perfect for big events like Thanksgiving, because you can get it totally prepped the day before and then roast it the day of. It’s also vegan and gluten-free!

Mark made it slightly differently – he browned the brussels sprouts in a cast iron skillet first, but I wanted to make a larger batch, so I just roasted them in the oven.   The key is to let them get so dark they appear to be burning.  But that just brings out the sweetness that makes them so delicious.

2 lbs brussels sprouts, washed and halved
1/3 cup olive oil
5 big cloves of garlic, cut into thin slices
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (optional – I forgot it and the dish was still delish!)

Mix oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a ziploc bag. Add brussel sprouts and shake well to coat the sprouts.

At this point, you can refrigerate them until you’re ready to bake or go ahead and roast them on a rimmed baking sheet at 450 for 30 minutes.  You may want to go in halfway through and shake them up a bit.  Check seasoning and serve. They will literally disappear.

Rich Custard for Maya

This recipe, which seems too simple to be so delicious, has always been an integral part of my Strawberry Trifle recipe. But my daughter Maya asked me to list it separately, so it’s easier and quicker to find. So here you go, Maya!

1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup cornstarch
5 cups whole milk
4 eggs, well beaten in a medium sized bowl
1 1/2 Tbsp vanilla

Blend sugar, salt, cornstarch and whole milk in a large saucepan on medium heat. Bring to a gentle boil stirring constantly. Once the custard reaches the boil, remove from heat and add 1 cup to the eggs in the bowl, stirring vigorously so the eggs don’t cook. Add another cup of milk mix to the eggs, and continue stirring.

Return the whole thing to the saucepan and put back on medium/low heat. Heat for 1-2 minutes until the custard is just starting to bubble a little. Don’t leave it for a second at this point or it will curdle. Remove from heat and add in vanilla. Let cool before adding to trifle dish.  It will thicken as it cools

This recipe also makes a lovely pouring custard. Just add another cup of milk. We don’t eat pouring custard much in the US, but it’s delicious dessert sauce. Just a bowl of fresh fruit with pouring custard poured over – it’s simple and wonderful.

Potato Poblano Bundles

There is something about a potato that’s been baked in a buttery, spicy sauce that is incredibly warming and satisfying.  This dish is easy and cooked in little foil bundles that are super fun to open at the table.

The recipe is from The Pioneer Woman magazine with slight variations.

2 lbs. thin skinned potatoes cut into 1″ chunks
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 large poblano peppers, seeded and cut into 1″ pieces
1 stick of butter (or 1/2 cup Olive Oil for a vegan version)
1/2 cup half and half (or veggie broth for vegan version)
2 Tbsp paprika
2 tsp granulated garlic
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley or 2 Tbsp dried parsley
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl, mix butter, half ‘n half and all seasonings. Mix well, and add the potatoes, onions and peppers.

Take aluminum foil and cut off 8 18″ pieces. Place 1/8 of the mix in the middle of each foil square and fold up the edges to create a pouch.

At this point, you can grill them for 25 minutes (you’ll have to turn them so make sure they are tightly sealed.) If you prefer you can also bake them at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Check one for doneness – the potatoes should be super soft.

Serve right in the foil packets.

 

Ali’s Slow-cooked Rustic Pasta Sauce

Ali brought this over the other night and Kumy and I had it over pasta with a little fresh parmesan. It was soooo good. Ali said it’s fairly time-consuming, but for this sauce it is totally worth it!

1 lb. bulk hot italian sausage (or use sweet if you don’t like things too spicy)
little water
1 red onion, diced
1 Tbsp crushed garlic
1/2 glass dry white wine
1 14 oz can whole San Marzano Tomatoes with liquid
1 can tomato paste
4″ rind of parmesan cheese, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
salt & pepper to taste  (1 tsp and 1/2 tsp?)
3 bay leaves
1 Tbsp anchovy paste
1 cup chicken stock

In a good sized frying pan, cook sausage in a little water, stirring often. Once cooked through, remove from pan and add onion. Saute onion until translucent. Add the garlic and stir a minute more, then add the white wine and stir to deglaze the pan.

Crush the whole tomatoes with your hand to break them up and cook them down until the liquid has reduced.

Add tomato paste, salt and pepper, bay leaves, cheese rind and anchovy paste. Cook down until quite thick.

Add reserved sausage meat and one cup chicken stock and simmer on low heat for 2 hours. You can add more chicken stock if it’s getting too thick.

It has this ridiculously rich, complex flavor that is just amazing!!