Friday, November 29, 2013

Just ok?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Rice salad

I don't get very excited about Rice Salad, but this one has a bit of a tangy kick and is better than the average.  If you are requested to bring a rice salad to a summer picnic, this one ain't too bad!  High praise, huh?

Rice Salad

Brown rice (I used basmati)
Lemon, juiced and zested
Asparagus, snapped
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Shallot, minced
Feta cheese, chopped
Parsley (optional)

Boil or steam the rice until tender.  Mix in some lemon juice and set aside.  Cook and brown the asparagus in olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat until bright green and still crisp.  Set aside to cool and then cut into pieces.

In a glass cup, whisk together some olive oil, lemon juice and zest, the shallot, salt and pepper.  Place the rice in a serving bowl; add the dressing, asparagus, and some feta and almonds, reserving a few for the top.  Toss and top with parsley if desired.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sliced tomato salad platter

This is just a variation on a Caprese salad with tomato slices and fresh basil leaves, but using a different type of cheese - grated Asiago - and adding some artichoke hearts and kalamata olives. Drizzle with olive oil and add black pepper and salt.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Baked apple cider donuts

I've been working on this recipe for quite awhile now.  The first was a great consistency but not enough apple cider flavor, the second had great flavor but was too puffy and light.  The third...?  Just right!  The trick was to combine the best qualities of hot oil fried donuts with the healthier elements of the baked donut.  Yeah, I know...neither one is really healthy, but you've got to admit that baked is a bit better!

Baked Apple Cider Donuts

1 c apple cider, reduced to 1/3 c
3 c flour
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
2 t cinnamon
4 T butter
2/3 c brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 c apple butter
1 t vanilla extract
1/3 c honey
1/3 c plain yogurt

3/4 c confectioner's sugar
2 T plain yogurt
1 t cinnamon
Dash of vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 and spray two donut pans.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together.  Beat in the rest of the wet ingredients, including the apple cider, one at a time. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and stir until just combined.

Use a pastry bag or spoon the batter into the donut pans until each mold is about 3/4 full. Bake for approximately 12 minutes, turning and rotating the pans halfway, and cool on a wire rack.

Mix all the icing ingredients together and spoon onto cooled donuts.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Apple cider donuts

I have been working my way through all the great apple cider donut recipes that are designed for cooking in deep fat, and trying to adapt them for cake-style donuts.  I know that I'll never been able to replicate the fabulous crispy crust that surrounds the cakey inside without the deep fat, but each try is getting me closer and closer to my ideal.

My first try left me with donuts that were a really great consistency, but disappointing on the flavor front.  My second try (shown above) had a much better flavor, but were too puffy and light for me.  My next step is to attempt to combine them.  When (not if!) it works out, I will share the recipe with all of you.

Back to the drawing board!  Maybe tomorrow...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Middle Eastern burgers

Köfte is a Persian word which means "mashed".  Kofte are meatballs or kebabs, served commonly in Turkey, Greece, and throughout the Middle East, and they are a delicious change from regular grilled burgers.  I think they taste best if you mix them up the day before grilling.  Soak some wooden skewers in water for at least 15 minutes, and form the kebabs around them.  Cover with plastic wrap and stick in the fridge overnight.  Traditionally, the kebabs are formed as long ovals so you can wrap them in pita along with a garlicky yogurt sauce.  You can also make them into meatballs, or even into burgers as I did above.

Here's my favorite spice mix, no matter which way I'm going to fix them:


For each pound of meat (ground lamb or beef):
1/3 c pine nuts
3 garlic cloves
1 t hot smoked paprika
1/2 t salt
1/2 t cumin
1/4 t pepper
1/4 t coriander
1/4 t cloves
Dash of nutmeg
Dash of cinnamon
1/3 c grated onion
1/4 c minced fresh parsley
1/4 c minced fresh mint
1 t unflavored gelatin

Process the pine nuts and garlic with all the spices until it forms a coarse paste.  Scrape into a large bowl along with the rest of the ingredients and knead well.  Form into burgers, meatballs, or cylinders around soaked wooden skewers.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  Serve kebabs wrapped in pita bread.

Garlicky Yogurt Sauce

6 oz plain Greek yogurt
1 1/2 T lemon juice
1 12 T tahini
1 garlic clove, minced fine
Dash of salt

Monday, November 18, 2013

Prosciutto and mushroom panini

Another delicious panini for the Autumn!

Prosciutto (2 slices per panini)
Sauted mushrooms and spinach
Cranberry mustard

Friday, November 15, 2013

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Jerk chicken for a crowd

I needed to make a decent amount of Jamaican-style Jerk Chicken for a gathering recently, and using my grill was just out the question.  I suppose that I could have grilled it and then reheated on site, but it seemed like a better idea to just figure out how to cheat that wonderful herbal smoke flavor.

I'm sure you know that there are as many recipes for Jerk Chicken Marinade as there are cooks, and I certainly have my favorite, but I'm usually happy just as long as there is enough heat.  For most of my friends, one habenaro pepper per pound of chicken is just about right.  Maybe throw in one or two extra if you're making a lot.  Let the chicken soak up the marinade for at least 30 minutes, but preferably 6 hours or so.  Then the fun starts!

I made a flavor smoke packet and plopped it in the middle of my 6 quart electric skillet (All-Clad...I love it!). Two layers of foil filled with 1 cup of water-soaked hickory wood chips, a couple tablespoons each of allspice berries, dried thyme, and dried rosemary, also soaked in water ahead of time. Get the skillet hot and plop the flavor smoke packet in the middle, poking with a knife to make a few holes. As soon as it begins to smoke, turn down the heat, add the chicken, cover it, and cook on low until the chicken is completely cooked through. Near the end, you can up the heat to get the chicken more crusty. The time will vary depending upon what parts you use.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Really fast Pennsylvania Dutch corn and chicken soup

This soup cooks very quickly, which doesn't give a lot of time for flavors to develop.  However, when you're in a hurry, this is about as good as it gets, and at least the chicken stays very tender.  If you use homemade chicken stock, some of the great flavors will be there after all!

Pennsylvania Dutch Corn and Chicken Soup

3 c corn, fresh, canned, or frozen
6 to 8 c chicken stock
Onion, chopped
Celery stalk, chopped
2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, chopped to 1/2 inch
3 c wide egg noodles
Salt and pepper

Puree 2 c of the corn with 2 c of the stock; set aside.  Cook the onion, celery, and 1 c corn in butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat until onion is softened.  Stir in the rest of the stock, the corn puree, chicken, and noodles.  Bring to a boil; reduce and simmer until chicken and noodles are cooked, about 8 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pumpkin chocolate chip oatmeal cookies

I was hoping for a bit more pumpkin flavor, so I was a little disappointed, but then I re-read the intro to this recipe where it states that it's designed to just use up a bit of leftover pumpkin.  Well, it's my own fault for expecting a recipe to be something that it isn't!  They are very good cookies; nonetheless, if I make them again, I plan to up the pumpkin content or just switch to applesauce.  Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies are at Baking Bites.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Pork-lentil stew

There's a reason why pork and legumes are paired so often.  Now, here's a twist on pork and beans, just perfect for fall!  Pork-Lentil Stew has a smoky, rich flavor with very little fat and loads of good carbs.  I made ours juicier than the recipe called for.

Friday, November 1, 2013