Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Worth a trip: Hopewell Valley Bistro & Inn

On a recent trip to visit my Mother's family in Princeton NJ, we took a side trip to the Hopewell Valley Bistro & Inn.  Hopewell is just a hop and a skip from Princeton, and it also happens to be the home of The Tomato Factory where my cousin is an antiques dealer.  Food and antiques...doesn't get much better!

And the food doesn't get much better than that served at the Bistro.  Proprietor Susie Molnar wants you to save room for dessert (all homemade), but she doesn't make it easy!  I ordered flounder stuffed with crab, and most of our company ordered something with seafood.  All were delcious.  Mike ordered a Hungarian platter, a special for the evening that introduced him to several of the Bistro's regular features.  He was glad he took a chance!  Now he's decided that I need to start learning authentic Hungarian cooking...I wonder if the Bistro could help me out!

I'm sure that everyone for miles around already knows about the Hopewell Valley Bistro & Inn, but if you are outside the immediate area, it is well worth the trip!  Delightful proprietor, sweet and attentive servers, and amazing need to go there!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Barbecue chicken sandwich

On a night when you don't have a lot of time but you feel like grilling, consider making barbecue chicken sandwiches with boneless, skinless thighs.  They can be laid out quite thin on the grill so they'll cook quickly, and since they are dark meat, they are less likely to dry out when you rush them a bit with higher heat. 

Toast the buns at the same time, and don't add the barbecue sauce until the last few minutes!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Penne carbonara

This is a real crowd pleaser!

Penne Carbonara

Make 4 cups of Bechemel (white) sauce:
4 c milk
5 T butter
5 T flour

1 lb penne, slightly undercooked

1/2 lb pancetta
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 c white wine
1/2 c parsley, flat leaf
Salt and pepper

1/2 c Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 c Romano cheese, grated

In a nonstick skillet, cook the pancetta.  Add the garlic and wine and cook for a few minutes.  Stir in the parsley, salt and pepper. 

Oil a 9x13 inch baking dish.  Spread 1/3 of the white sauce on the bottom.  Layer on 1/2 of the penne.  Spread 1/3 of the white sauce and 1/2 of the pancetta mixture.  Add 1/2 of the cheese and the other 1/2 of the penne.  Top with the rest of the pancetta, white sauce, and cheese.

Cover with foil and bake for about 40 minutes at 375.  Remove foil and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and let rest for at least 10 minutes before serving. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tortellini meal with roasted vegetables

Here's a really simple meal for a warm spring evening that starts with fresh tortellini.  Add some roasted vegetables, and you're all set!  I used my Roasted Spring Carrots recipe for both the carrots and the Brussels sprouts.  I microwave steamed the sprouts for a few minutes first since they tend to take a bit longer to cook than the carrots.  Serve the tortellini on a bed of spinach or other spring greens and you're all set to go!  This is fast, and is also a nice vegetarian meal. 

Monday, June 21, 2010

Split pea and bean soup

Here's a simple variation of traditional split pea soup.  I made this with a ham bone we had leftover from a potluck dinner.  The beans add a nice color and extra oomph.   

Split Pea and Bean Soup

Large onion, chopped
Split peas and water to more than cover
Ham bone with some meat still on it
Salt and pepper
2 cans of beans (I used one can each of Goya's small white beans and small red beans)
Gruyere cheese, optional

Chop and brown your onion.  Cover the bone and the split peas with water in a crock pot and let it simmer all day with the onion.  Before serving, add the canned beans.  Sprinkle the top with some grated cheese if desired.  Gruyere and parmesan are both good with this soup.     

Friday, June 18, 2010

Chicken and wild rice salad

We had this salad with a wonderful Dijon mustard really makes the salad special!  If you've got leftover chicken that you want to use, just cook the wild rice separately and assemble.  I prefer to cook the chicken and rice together so that the rice really picks up the flavor.

Chicken and Wild Rice Salad

1 lb boneless chicken
2 c broth
1-1/2 c wild rice (uncooked)

Shredded carrot
Dried cranberries
Red onion
Almonds, chopped and toasted
Greens like spinach

Cook the chicken and wild rice for several hours in a crock pot.  Chop the chicken and cool off in the refrigerator if you plan to serve the salad cold.  Arrange greens and add chicken and rice mixture.  Top with vegetables and sprinkle with almonds.


1/4 c white wine vinegar
2 t sugar
1/2 t salt
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 t Dijon mustard
2 T canola oil


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Brown sugar glaze for vegetables

Root vegetables like beets, turnips, and carrots are quite good with this warm sweet glaze.  Steam the vegetables first and then mix up the glaze. 

Brown Sugar Glaze for Root Vegetables

3 T brown sugar
2 T orange juice
1 T butter

3 c steamed root vegetables

Combine all the ingredients in a large non-stick skillet.  Cook and stir over medium-low heat until everything starts to bubble.  Stir in the vegetables and cook until they are fully coated. 

Monday, June 14, 2010

Lamb cacciatore

Oh this stuff is good good good!  And it's so simple.  You can add more vegetables if you'd like, or serve the vegetables on the side.  If you can brown the lamb before placing it in your crock pot, that would be best, or else consider using a dutch oven instead with a low heat.

Lamb Cacciatore

Olive oil
2 lbs of lamb (on the bone is fine)

1/2 c dry red wine
2 cans (15 oz) diced tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Basil, oregano, parsley

Brown the lamb lightly in either a dutch oven or in a skillet (if planning on cooking in a crock pot).  Use the wine to deglaze the pan.  Add the other ingredients and simmer (or cook on low) for 2 hours.  Add more liquid if needed.  Turn lamb over after one hour.  

Friday, June 11, 2010

Tomato-lime soup

Here's a twist on the typical summer tomato soup for you.  Although the vegetables are cooked, the soup is still served cold.  Very very tasty!  Substitute vegetable stock for chicken stock, and you've got a delicious vegetarian meal.

Tomato-Lime Soup

Olive oil
2 large carrots, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 cans (16 oz) of tomatoes, diced
1 c chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
Salt, pepper, and sugar
1-1/2 c plain yogurt
1/4 c lime juice
1 T fresh parsley
1 T fresh basil
Hot sauce (optional)
More yogurt for garnish (optional)

In a large saucepan, cook the carrots and onions over medium-low heat until tender but not browned.  Add the tomatoes and broth, and bring to a boil, simmering until the vegetables are very soft.  Put the mixture into a food processor (in batches) and puree.  Pour into large serving bowl.  Add spices to taste.  Stir in the yogurt through the basil and chill several hours.  Add hot sauce and a dollop of yogurt to individual bowls if desired.  

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Jalapeño poppers

These couldn't be easier! Bake at 400 in a glass baking dish, pouring off the grease occasionally as they brown. They may take around 20 minutes, or even longer, depending upon how crispy you like the bacon.

Jalapeño Poppers

Jalapeño peppers, sliced in half lengthwise and cleaned
Soft-spread cream cheese

Fill the pepper halves with cream cheese. Wrap in a slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Salmon and legume salad with lemon dressing

Prepare a salad mixture with cold salmon and whatever vegetables you want.  Red or green bell peppers are good, along with cucumber, red onion, and whatever else you've got on hand.  Mix in yellow or green lentils.  Serve on mixed greens or baby spinach, topped with the following dressing:

Lemony Dressing 

1/3 c lemon juice
1/3 c fresh dill, chopped
1 T Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
1/3 c olive oil

Friday, June 4, 2010

Crab bisque

We prefer to only add half the crabmeat when we're using the food processor.  Feel free to process all of the meat if you want the bisque to be completely smooth and creamy.

Crab Bisque

Canola oil
4 shallots, sliced
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 c vermouth
Salt and pepper
Ground red pepper

1 lb crabmeat, divided in half
3 c milk
12 oz clam juice
1/3 c flour
1/2 c cream

2 t lemon juice
Fresh chives, chopped for garnish

Cook the shallots, celery, and garlic in a Dutch oven over medium-low heat until soft.  Add the vermouth and cook until most of the liquid evaporates.  Add the spices, half the crabmeat, milk, and clam juice.  Whisk in the flour.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and boil for about a minute until mixture thickens a bit.

Use a food processor or blender to puree the mixture until smooth.  Return it to the Dutch oven and stir in the cream and lemon juice.  Reheat and serve, topping each bowl with the rest of the crabmeat and some fresh chives.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Malaysian lamb

Hot hot hot!!  Not for those who like their spices mild :-)  You can roast a piece of leg, coated with this sauce, or you can do it in a crock pot with the sauce acting as more of a stew.

Malaysian Lamb

Up to 2 lbs of lamb, preferably boneless

1/4 c tomato sauce
1/4 c brown sugar
1 T fresh ginger, grated
2 T fish sauce (we used Thai Kitchen brand)
1 T chile sauce with garlic